This Internet Life: Consider Who You Want to Be Online

As the presidential election season heats up for America, I’m being reminded once again what complete and utter assholes you can all be when you’re running your mouths completely out of control.  It’s one thing to do this on your personal social media that you have locked down and only your friends and family (God help them) can see.

It’s quite another to do it in full view of your adoring fans and potential clients.

I’m not saying you can’t make political statements and be a successful social media giant, or that you can’t even have a very strong political thread going through your social media branding.  What I am saying is that before dropping a sudden political bias where one never existed before, you need to consider who you want to be online.

You Can Be Anyone Online

On the Internet, you can be anyone you like.  That’s both a blessing and a curse.  For person to person communication, it can create trust issues, but when you’re acting as a business, like a writer who’s providing professional services, THE TRUTH and “the truth” are very different things.  You don’t have to bear your soul to the followers of the social media account you’re using for branding — in fact, it’s better that you don’t.  Obviously, you need to do something to be a bit human, but you can be human and not infuriate everyone you can find at the same time.

I think it’s really important that people follow you because they want to read your blogs and use your services, not because they want to troll you or try to bait you into saying something that might hurt your business.  Call me crazy, but there’s a line where TMI is truly too much information.  As a business, it’s absolutely vital that you figure out what your persona is — who you are — online before you begin to establish your social media branding in order to avoid that TMI zone.

I know it’s tempting to share political or current hot-button news items, but if that’s not part of your current branding, trust me on this — you’re doing far more damage to your image than you can imagine.  Think about it this way: if your plumber suddenly started sharing memes that you found incredibly offensive, wouldn’t you think twice about doing business with him?  It’s the same sort of thing.  Always remember that all eyes are on you, that your social media branding is actively in force when you log into Facebook or Twitter or SnapChat, and what you do can’t be unseen.

Different Types of Branding

You might have gotten the impression that I don’t believe in niche branding.  That’s not the case at all.  In fact, I fucking embrace niche branding.  You fucking niche yourself out, bitch.  Niche it up.  But you  shouldn’t be approaching a niche willy-nilly.  Know that niche inside and out.  It’s a little bit like knowing a fiction character.  Before you post a thing, you should know how your niche is going to react.

If your niche is, for example, made up of fans of a particular hardcore Conservative political candidate, then there’s probably no problem with posting a video of his recent speech.  However, if you happen to know that your vegan niche is also filled with people who are adamantly opposed to the same Cheetos-colored candidate, posting that same video is only going to end in flames.  I don’t care what your point might have been, you were totally off track.


Your business is about llama herding or selling raincoats or duck burglary… so keep it relevant.  Keep your social media tied to what matters to your audience so they’ll keep coming back for more.  The goal is fan and customer retention, not customer repulsion.

If you’re in doubt about your online image and your audience, take some time to write up a description of your social media account and who it represents.  What does it stand for?  What is your goal for social media?  How can you best achieve this?  What type of posts will attract the people that you need to help with your goal?  What posts will keep them coming back and growing your business?

You can be anybody online.  But when you’re a business, even if that business is being a blogger or an Internet personality, the key is to be consistent.  If you’re a professional asshole — fine — continue to stick it to your visitors.  But if you’re usually a Tupperware salesman, FOR FUCK’S SAKE BE A TUPPERWARE SALESMAN.

… and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

If you’re having trouble crafting your online persona, there’s no time like today to fix that shit.  I’m here to help, but only if you’ve got cash.  Email me at and we’ll sort your fucking business out.


3 Completely Tasteless Ways Writers Self-Promote

I was going to skip this blog post because I honestly didn’t have anything to write about, then I got an email.  Another writer, who I just met, had asked for some pointers on a piece she wrote about pest control, which happens to be an area of expertise of mine.  After I had made some very useful and thoughtful points, she followed up my email by asking me to link to her blog.  Instead of eating her head, I thought I’d turn this into a blog — because maybe some of you simply don’t know better.  Now you will.  No excuses.

Self-Promotion in the Internet Age

I know social media and sharing can be confusing, especially if you’re just starting out as a digital copywriter.  You want to be loved, you assume all writers are pulling for you and whatnot, but it’s simply not true.  I mean, we’re not all rat bastards, but most of us couldn’t care less if you make it or not.  It’s nothing personal, but we’ve just got better things to do — and probably a lot of them.

We’re not clogging up our blogs or our social feeds with your bullshit, that’s how you get a reputation for being a walking, talking spam machine.  Instead, we work hard to develop content and hunt up shareables that people actually want to see.  Stuff that teases and titillates, not garbage spam clogged with ads.  You may be a great writer, but I don’t care.  Unless I read your stuff, or I had something to add to the article you wrote, I’m not sharing it.

That’s that.  I’m not your publicist.  I’m my own publicist.  And the last thing I want people taking away from my publicity is that I’m a whore who will give anybody attention in the name of creating a virtual traffic jam for the people who read my work.

If you write something and you want another writer to promote it, you have to earn it.  Write something worth reading.  There’s not enough begging, pleading, sweet talking or payment (ok, maybe payment) that will be enough.  We work hard to build our personal brands, so must you.

Three Types of Self-Promotion to Avoid

Let’s get to the heart of this thing.  What not to do.  And I’m going to be very specific because this behavior is total garbage, completely unprofessional and it happens ALL THE TIME.  You guys need to go to school.  These are, IMO, the three worst self-promotions I see.

Promote a Stranger.  This one gets me, but it also drives other writers I know totally mad.  It’s when a writer you’ve never read, or have only read in a very limited capacity asks for you to promo their book, blog or whatever.  I don’t have a clue if you’re worth a shit as a writer, why would I recommend you to anyone?  Prove to me you deserve that recommend.

Rapid Fire Spam Promos.  I see this on social media a lot and it makes me want to kill.  Seriously.  A writer who feels compelled to shoot marketing at you all the time, machine gun style, is not a writer I want to read.  You could be the next Stephen King and I’m still going to tell you to go fuck yourself and block you.

Link to Me, Link to You.  A few shared links between friends is one thing — I know a dozen writers off the top of my head that I’d link share or even let guest post here without a question.  Then there are all the others.  The newbies, the wannabes, the neverweres that believe that if I were to link to their blog, they’d get something magical out of it.  In exchange for this magic, they’re going to link back to me.  Hooray.  Oh, wait.  No.  The opposite of that.  I don’t need your promo, I don’t want to link to you, go fuck yourself.

Now, this is not to say that self-promotion is a sin.  Far from it.  You have to promote to get ahead, but you can do it in a way that makes it seem like a gift rather than an obligation.  You get it?  Don’t beg me to promote for you — do it yourself, to your own audience.  Or get together with some other writers in your genre and do a giveaway.  There are lots of ways to get new readers without doing any of the tasteless stuff I mentioned above.

Several novelists I know share bits of their works in progress and ask for feedback from their audience.  That’s a very genuine way to invest the audience, self-promote and give something special to the people who are supporting your sorry ass.  These people are total winners in my book.

Now get back to work.  Promote like a grown-up or I’ll slap your face until you shut up.