Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sprucing up the 'ol place

A recent article in the AARP magazine (wow...THAT was weird to write) explored the concept of self-branding. Not the red-hot poker to tender flesh sort of branding, but rather creating a coherent online presence that shows a consistent face to the world, presenting me as I want to be seen. Think Starbucks, without the bitterness. It prompted me to take a few steps towards sprucing up my digital presence and making sure it tells a story that I want told.

I have been a constant denizen of the Internet and the World Wide Web since the mid-1980's, creating my first (awful) web pages in 1998 by writing HTML code in Notepad. Thus, my digital presence is excellent, and for the most part, consists of content I am not ashamed to have associated with my name. Left to nearly a decade and a half of unfocused growth and sprawl, it is even unusually cogent with a pronounced emphasis on 1) Photographs and Photography, 2) Dance and Performance, and 3) everything else. It is always educational to Google oneself, and if you do not do it periodically, I urge you to start. And do not limit yourself to Google, but use other search engines as well (Bing returned quite different results than Google), and select Web, Images, and Video as well.

The AARP article was aimed at those seeking jobs in the Corporate world, and so did not have a specific relevance for me as a self-employed small business owner in the service sector, but there were a few pearls to be found. One thing I struggle with is the suggestion to use Twitter. I already blog (as you know) and find that 2-4 posts a week has been pretty much standard for me. Is anything I have to say so important that I need to tweet 20 times a day, with a 140 character max? Maybe I am just not vain enough for Twitter (which is also hard to believe). I understand it could be useful, but I am not convinced it is the tool for me. I probably will cave in and try it, just to see if I am mistaken about its value. Any thoughts from you, dear readers?

My sprucing up of my digital image started a few weeks (hmm, months now) ago with a content change on my biz page. I changed the just-the-facts text to more of a storytelling approach. The main page has not changed because I am not certain of how I want to change it, but the sub pages have all been updated. I also added a Facebook page for my business to supplement my personal presence. (Go ahead, "Like" or Follow me there!) Now my focus turned to this blog. I want strongly to leave it as my just-for-fun photo story page, yet I wanted to sling a little fresh paint, recover some of the furniture, and so on. To that end, I have made some minor changes. The subtitle of the blog changed to reflect the just-for-fun aspect of a photographer who has a portrait studio. The link to the biz page is new. The title grew about 30% in size so that it closely matches the span of the subheading. A couple of the sidebar items were tweaked for content, and rearranged in sequence. I made a silent vow to myself to refresh my "Favorite of the Moment" photo more frequently too. Under the hood I changed my META tags to let the webcrawler (remember Webcrawler?) 'bots learn my intended story too.

So now two of my three main Web presences are telling the same story. Next for my focus is my Flickr site. I suspect that there is not much to alter there, but it is amazing what a little attention can do to freshen things up. I am pondering one more angle of Web presence, and am still pondering that step. Should I take it, you will be the first to know!

Thanks for reading along. Your comments are interesting to me, so feel free to share your thoughts.

UPDATE: I rediscovered this quote from an old post and it seemed like this was a good place to recycle it.

"Artists' essential effort is to catapult themselves wholly, without holding back one bit, into a course of action, without having any idea where they will end up. They are like riders who gallop into the night, eagerly leaning on their horse's neck, peering into a blinding rain. And they have to do it over and over again."

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