your internet home

do you really need a website? do you really need a twitter account?

it really depends.

we all know that the internet allows you to reach a worldwide audience. what’s funny is that not everyone needs a worldwide audience (for example, talented designers). all you need is to be able to reach the people who need to hear from you. if you’re an artist, fame and notoriety helps, along with ease of access. once you get into finance, design, and certain other fields, sometimes the harder you are to find, the better.

a week ago i met a person who makes a living building out websites for clients. they didn’t have any kind of social media presence. “how do you get clients?” i asked. all through word of mouth, they told me.

this was frustrating, because at times it feels like i am running a media company – i update my twitter, i write on my blog, and i share interviews on my youtube channel and via podcast. it’s full time work, and my hope is that one day it will get me more clients. but here is someone who reduced the amount of work they had to do – they are credible in their circles and gain employment from those spheres.

there are no hard and fast rules. finding the people you want to work with is an art form. every platform offers its opportunities, as do your real world experiences. but, it is helpful to remember that twitter, facebook, squarespace and (shudder) wix are not necessary for success if your audience doesn’t need to find you there.

personal & professional

here’s a problem with the future of work: we’re all brands now. at least on social media, i think about my brand and how i present myself in the same way i think about business marketing. sometimes when i am advising clients, they ask me how to brand themselves properly on the internet.

this makes me think about my favorite people online – some of the folks that i love the most are authentic. this means that their content feels personal, and i feel a special connection because they are being genuine with the amount of personal and professional content that they can comfortably share online.

authentic doesn’t mean constantly available. i follow an instagram account in which an unseen user makes bubble tea against a white background. this user is more or less anonymous, and i don’t have any kind of emotional dialogue with this person, but the interaction still feels authentic: “here is something i like that i am comfortable sharing with you”.

i get sad – a lot. sometimes it is very difficult to manage, and for a while it was difficult to maintain an internet presence when i had intense, intermittent sadness. in order to be transparent with my engagement online, sometimes i’ll just let people know that i am sad. it gives some context as to my online habits, and it has become part of my brand. “connor is professional and creative, and sometimes he is very sad.”

a brand communicates to your audience “here’s what you can expect from me”. so, why make a brand that is too expansive for what you can give? for companies, branding connects products to specific people
“if you are x type of person, you might be into product y.” since we all engage in mini-forms of sharing on the internet, clarifying your brand can help manage expectations from the people you share with.

ultimately, we are human beings, not brands. however, when we step out into the world, we are always communicating – what we wear, how we carry ourselves, where we spend our time – all of this communicates something about our values and alignments. being on the internet, in a sense, is a form of being out in the world. and if we choose to participate, we can be focused about the way we style and brand our presence.

further, as human beings, we also have the capacity to grow. your brand is not a cage – if anything, it should help you move from one goal to the next. if you need to change your brand, you can (and should). of course, you have no obligation to change, or to explain your change to anyone. being online (being a human) is hard, and finding your truth and your level of comfort with being authentic online allows you to gracefully mediate your inner and outer lives.

chey is encouraging me to vlog

chey, a vlogger, has shown me so many incredible videos of people being themselves on youtube. it has been so inspiring that i thought “man, i should do that!”

“you should!!” chey tells me. but i am a bit camera shy and not used to the whole idea of filming myself. part of the reason i do interviews is because i don’t have to do much. all of the attention and focus is on the interview subject rather than myself. with vlogging, the dynamic is totally different.

i’ve been practicing, though. i am trying to figure out my formula and form, so there are a handful of unlisted videos up on youtube that i’ll be adding to as i (big eye roll) find my voice. but i am excited to publish them eventually once i get over this initial self-conscious bashfulness.

what is the best way to curate content?

“curation” is a big buzzword on my mind right now – since we are drowning in information, curators of quality content are some of the most valuable fixtures we can find. my previous job was at a boutique that only brought in the best of finely made men’s clothing. jenny nicholson, funnily enough, curates “bad media” with her critiques. my friend lito is an invaluable resource to me, as he visits a ton of restaurants and curates a list of his favorites.

part of me just wants to make lists and share them (a google doc makes sense). i would love to have an easily navigable collection of lists somewhere of quality resources and content. i guess the best thing i have going for that need right now is are.na (link) which is kind of a minimalist, pinterest-like website where you can save your favorite internet things in a pleasing way.

as we curate, patterns emerge. the trick is starting and then refining the process. i love books, cafes, people, and walking. i am sure there is a way to somehow collect data and to make it pretty, which is what museums do, and what any good curator does as well. how will you share your collections, and how will you focus the themes of your finds?

instagram matters

instagram is a little portfolio. it could be of your life, your art, your shop, your products, or your perspective. but the truth of the matter is that it can do almost everything a website does but better. i am not suggesting that you game the platform, but maybe figure out the best way to use it.

as with any creative endeavor, find the people who do it well and identify what makes their profiles work. i am a huge fan of the way aoc uses instagram, so i tried to think about what was good about it. her posts feel authentic, not over-polished, and full of useful information that relates to her mission. thus, i try to shape my presence in a similar way.

i recently did a bit of consulting work for a cafe. “why do i need instagram?” the owner asked me. i told him the truth: when a customer considers coming to your cafe, instagram will likely be the first or second thing they check when they decide whether or not they’ll stop in for the first time. and, being near a train station, this is especially true for out of towners.

for you, how can you make a first impression on instagram to show your audience what you’re all about? who does instagram well, and how can you take parts of what they do and make them yours?