Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Overcoming Insecurities to Build a Brand

My biggest insecurity in my writing career is sharing the real me. During my two years of blogging I've offered writing and social media tips. For the majority of that time I hid behind a cute blog title, W.I.P. It, and a flower avatar.

This didn't help my brand. Why? Because it didn't spread the word about who Lynda R. Young is.

While I'd be happiest wearing my cow slippers and living out my days writing in my comfy cave, I can't, or at least, I shouldn't. If I want to get serious about my career then I have to step out. I need to make myself accessible to my readers. I need to show my personality and—gulp—vulnerability. This is where my little self wants to run screaming.

This requirement is something I've known for some time and fought against for even longer. I value my privacy. But building a brand doesn't mean I need to share every intimate detail about my life, my cat's life, or the lives of all my loved ones. I just need to share a little more of who I am, my struggles, my achievements, and my dreams.

Slowly I’m overcoming this insecurity. I now display my name on my blog for all to see and misspell. I also display my official author photo on all my social media: Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. The biggest hurdle I’m now facing is inserting more of me into my posts. I hope I won’t scare anyone away because of it.

What have been your biggest hurdles you’ve had to face to achieve a dream? How are you working to overcome them?

This post was written for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Thank you to Sabrina A. Fish for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you too to Christine Rains for the Booker Award. You are both awesome! Please visit the blogs of these lovely ladies and say hi from me.

Note: I took the sunset photo on board the cruise ship as it was leaving Sydney. 

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69 comments:

  1. Nice to meet you Lynda. I can totally understand your insecurity about revealing to much of yourself. I think I did it a little backwards. In my first blog, which I started about 1 years ago, I used it as an online diary and wrote any and all that came across my brain. Then, in February of this year, I transferred my blog to a new site and basically deleted every post that was too personal. I realized if I kept those post, then I would be building a brand based on my neurosis and that is not the direction I wanted to go. There is a difference between putting your personality in your post and posting about your personal issues. The first is essential in brand building. Keep opening up to your readers.

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    1. "There is a difference between putting your personality in your post and posting about your personal issues."
      Well said.

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  2. the post holds an aura of enthusiasm.

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  3. I'm glad I've gotten to know you. And everyone should know what a generous writer and fierce editor you are!

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    1. Thanks. I'm kinda glad you can't see me blushing right now...

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  4. I tend to separate bloggers into two categories. The ones who are purely themselves, and the ones who have specific answers to specific questions. For me, your blog falls into the second of those categories, but that isn't a bad thing at all. Everyone who blogs on writing offers something to the reader, and whether they mean to or not, there is always a little of themselves in their posts. Whether you want to share more about yourself or not, you are still a hugely respected member of the writing/blogging community - so you are obviously doing it right! :D

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  5. I've certainly enjoyed seeing the photographer side of you during the A-Z, and I think you blog looks awesome now. Very professional. Luckily the writer's blogging world is very welcome :)

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  6. I've never had a problem using my name but I still like my avatar. Used it for so long, people might not know it was me if I changed it now!
    I don't share much of my personal life outside of the things I enjoy.
    And no one comes to my blog for writing tips and that is probably a good thing. You know what you're talking about - I'd just mess people up further!

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    1. You don't need to change your avatar because you show plenty of personality in your posts.

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  7. Thanks, Lynda. You've got me thinking.

    I use an avatar for blogging. If a publisher asks for a picture of me, I always politely decline. And no one has seemed to think that's unreasonable (yet).

    I'm glad that you're comfortable presenting your picture. I'm not quite there yet.

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  8. Love that your are branding yourself with you in control! I think your new pic and name emblazoned proudly here are great starters! Take care
    x

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  9. This is so wonderful and brave of you. I am still hiding, but hopefully I can be as brave as you...one day. Good luck with expanding your brand.

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  10. I think it is great that you are going to share abit more who you are--I like knowing a little about authors and their journey and their ups and downs like the rest of us share.

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  11. You are very brave!
    I really don't like talking about myself... that's a major issue and stumbling block for me...

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  12. I still haven't put myself out there for all to see. I'm very guarded about my name (I use a pen name) and I don't put my face out there. I don't want my family to know I write.

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  13. It is sometimes hard to share who we really are. It can be scary at times. It's better that we take control of the branding before it just gets going on it's own.

    Yay for you, Lynda!

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  14. My biggest hurdle has been writing with confidence after big rejections. After landing an agent, I was thrilled. Then we sent the manuscript out. I received great praise, but when the offers were slow to come I had to find a way to still believe in myself and keep writing with confidence.

    For me building a brand isn't scary, it's daunting because it requires so much "work" that takes time away from writing.

    Looking forward to reading more posts with Lynda in them.

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    1. There are so many ups and downs when it comes to publishing. Personally I think every writer has a little crazy in them, otherwise we'd all give up.

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  15. I wonder how J.D. Salinger would have responded to the directive to build his brand. :)

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  16. Eek! I know just what you mean. I've been online for years, but when I started my blog a year and a half ago I decided I'd better use my real name and photo. It was kind of scary. And I'm still not comfortable sharing very personal information, though today I actually did just that. Not my usual style for sure. But you are so right that we have to put ourselves out there, or at least step out of the cave into the sunlight once in awhile and let people see the real us. :)

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  17. i really enjoying writing about what i know--what limits me as i have lots of people in my life, that do not want me to say much about them--at least not the truth--which is what i want to write--even if it is mixed with some total fiction about real people---so other than that i write poetry, which is so freeing----i think you should go for it--i love to hear people talk about themselves and their lives

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  18. being ourselves is certainly a challenge.

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  19. It's important to balance private and pubic life, so I really don't think you've done anything incorrectly. It's unhealthy not to maintain a certain level of privacy and your readers will respect that:)

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  20. Oh right, the flower is gone! It took me awhile before I could put my real picture on my blog. I still don't have my name as my blog title, but I do have it on my website. My blog isn't really to brand me as a writer. I use my website for that. I guess my blog has multiple uses, but mostly it's to connect with other writers and book lovers.

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  21. It's just so nice to see your face! Nope, you don't have to get uber personal, but we love to see the person behind the great posts. :)

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  22. I share your insecurities, I bet lots of us do. I want to know more about Lynda, and that's why I'm following your tweets now, and I'm now a fan over at Goodreads. :)

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  23. Personalizing your writings in a general way is fine. Publicity can be very difficult. My spouse reads her childrens books at schools and libraries, with limited success.
    I have always enjoyed your posts, you are always interesting and informative.
    This has nothing to do with anything - your portrait is very nice but I liked the previous one better. Just sayin'.

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  24. I understand how you feel. I've never included my real name on my blog, though probably a lot of people who know me in real life would be able to recognize me from what I wrote in my posts. I do write a lot about my own life, but there are a few topics that I've never written about. I think you should just write about what you're most comfortable sharing, because like you said, you don't have to write about anything that you don't want to write about.

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  25. I have been enjoying the posts where you insert yourself a bit. I enjoyed the others, too. I like a bit of personality though too :)

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  26. Oh, this is a great post! Thank you for sharing! I've often thought about the same things.

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  27. Your author photo is beautiful! It's nice to see you and learn more about you as a blogger and author. I hold back a lot on my blog, too. In fact, it was a while before I posted a real profile photo of myself.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

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  28. It takes courage to step up and move in the direction of branding yourself as an author. Comes the time though that the pro head shot and proper website has to be done.

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  29. It took me a bit of time to come out and reveal myself... and it feels better to be myself:)

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  30. Hi Linda, er, Lynda, just kidding. Yes, we slowly get around to this point but we must get there. On good advice I added my name to the header of my blog. I think I share the real me, even though I read a sort of nasty blog post the other day about people who share anything personal - 'no one cares about you. They only want to know what's in it for them.' I was quite appalled. I know this is true of some bloggers, but overall, I think we're a pretty caring bunch. I, for one, would like to see more about Lynda.

    Denise

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    1. While I don't wholly agree with that blogger's statement, there is a certain amount of truth in it as well. You have to make 'em care. How to do that? To show the real you, to be generous, to be genuinely interested in others. If we keep hiding then no one will know us, or care.
      Hmm, I see another blog post on that subject I could write! :)

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  31. I'm a private person, but I've allowed more of myself to shine through on social media. I enjoy it when others do the same. It makes me feel closer to the people I'm interacting with.

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  32. I deem it's normal to feel such insecurities and letting go of it as time passes by... You look beautiful in your photo, by the way.

    Ah, insecurities, I have a handful of them. I dislike posting photos in my blog with myself included (but have managed to post some, haha), I don't write about sad experiences as it might drive away my readers and sometimes I wonder if my grammar is always correct.

    Take care!

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  33. My biggest hurdle is knowing whether I'm good enough and committed enough. I think I've proven I'm committed, but I'll never know if I'm good enough. I totally get the whole branding thing. That was one of the things I had to take classes on for my publisher. They expect certain things of their authors and I don't want to disappoint, but I don't feel all that comfortable with it. And I'm slowly, little bits at a time, losing some of my anonymity which is very disconcerting as I value my privacy more than anything. I can't understand this era of reality TV and everyone wanting to be a star and well-known. I just want my work to be known and that's it.

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    1. I know a few established and successful authors who feel fake because they still wonder if they are good enough. I think it's a writer's curse.

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  34. My biggest hurdle are my 2 young children. Being a stay-at-home mom is the most rewarding job ever, but let's be honest - there's very little 'me' time to be found throughout the day.
    At 2 1/2 & 4 my girls are more important than the writing. I've no specific time set aside. For me, it's steal a minute here. Steal 5 there. And God forbid the girls get TOO quiet if you know what I mean!
    Great post & thanks for sharing!!!

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  35. I had the same problems. For the longest time online, I used a handle rather than my real name and I never put up pictures of myself. Realizing that nowadays YOU are the brand when it coming to your writing, I started using my name and I dared to put up a photo. That was hard for me. Sometimes it still makes me nervous people can see what I really look like.

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  36. cow slippers, now thats unique and eye catching! be comfy and proud!
    i have appreciated your advice on profile pics, surprised that you didnt want to put your face out there, you're a pretty flower yourself!

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  37. Lynda - This is one of my very favorite blog posts ever...from anyone! I seem to fluctuate between sharing too little, and sharing too much. The latter happens because I am, by nature, an introvert. I have also realized the importance of sharing more about myself. As painful as this has been, it has actually helped me blossom as a blogger - hopefully as a person, too. Thanks for sharing yourself...and your cow slippers! :-)

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  38. Putting my name on my blog was a tough decision. It's so intimate. But I felt I had to or I couldn't take my own efforts seriously. It's scary though.

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  39. My blog has always sported my name but I have never really mentioned much about myself other than what appears in bios around the internet. Even the picture I use on the site is designed to match the wallpaper.

    Should I change the picture or do people know my face from Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, I wonder?

    http://gail-baugniet.blogspot.com

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    1. I think if whatever you choose to show the public, as long as it portrays what you want it to portray, and it's consistent across all the networking sites, then you'll be fine.

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  40. I think it's hard to share our true selves, as they often try to ucultárnolo ourselves. Yes, that is a source of insecurity.

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  41. I think my biggest problem is identifying my dream. There has never been a problem sharing my true self because it is the only story I have. I suppose in a sense my dream is to stop anybody else suffering the way my friends and I did. I can dream!

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  42. So glad to know you won't be sharing every intimate detail of your cat's life. I love cats, but, well, you know. >¨< Yes it's hard to reveal bits of yourself to the whole world but you're right, an author brand requires it. My biggest hurdle is my impulsive nature. I have to force myself to slow down in my writing, let things set for a bit.

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  43. Aww! I'm sure you won't scare us off. :) It is much easier to talk work than to insert who we are into our posts.

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  44. We don't really have to share too much of our personal details, just our writing journeys. And no, you haven't scared me off ;)

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  45. Still discovering what it all means...wow.

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  46. I think it will make your already awesome blog even greater to get more of you. Won't scare me off.

    I share my passions, but not a whole lot of my personal life. Husband unit wishes to remain husband unit.

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  47. I'm a big fan of BEING BOLDLY OURSELVES. Congrats on your journey & I look forward to hearing more!

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  48. It's a delicate balance, trying to let people know about the real you and still maintain privacy. Good luck stepping out!

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  49. I'm basically a shy person so exposing myself personally blog-wise can be painful. But somehow I do it, get through it, sort of. It's very uncomfortable, but I think you find a way around it, eventually. I do tend to justify myself when I blog about, for example, my cat, or anything personal, and finish with 'well, I better go as I am sounding more and more self-absorbed', something like that. Anyway, enough about me! You are definitely going the right way about it, just one step at a time. :)

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  50. I think it's just a mattter of developing a public persona to present to the world. That's who you are as a writer, and that's the aspectof your life that people need to know about. The intensely personal stuff can remain private. Some celebrities share only what they want to share and their private lives are off limits, and that seems a good choice. Invent the author you want to be and become that person when you blog.

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  51. Lynda, it's like you read my mind this week. ;-D

    I'm still not used to using my real name, but people have been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging about the change.

    Thank you for this inspiring post! :)

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  52. New follower here! I'm so glad I found your site from Christine Raines. I struggle with the same thing, it is hard to expose the real you to the world, but that is also the very thing that will make you seem real, true, honest. It takes risk, but I think it is worth it. :)

    Andrea

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    1. Hi, Andrea, and welcome!! I totally agree. It is worth it.

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  53. Reading blogs by authors, I have learned that there's so much more to writing a book than I would have ever thought. You have a lot of followers who I am sure will both understand your insecurities, as we all have them, and also look forward to learning more about you.

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  54. Congratulations on your journey. I also am unable to share about myself, that's why I hide behind all the author spotlights and giveaways!

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  55. You're braver than I. To get myself 'out there,' I've started a new blog, with many private and interesting details about my life in Egypt, but it's under a penname ... but it's a good penname and avatar, too. I'm afraid people will have to be satisfied with that, as far as branding goes.

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  56. To begin the self confidence is crucial. After adequate resources and luck does the rest.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.