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Monday, March 31, 2014

5 Tips on Branding Yourself

Happy Monday everybody! If you've been reading lately, you'll know I'm a senior finishing up my undergrad, and I have a ton going on. A major component of my omega project is on personal branding, and how the world sees me. This is even more important because I have an Etsy shop that goes on to reflect me as a buyer.

This morning, I've been working on my personal brand - and bought my very first domain! What I'm finding about my personal brand is that it isn't working together. All the pieces are pulling in different directions and not working together towards the same goal. That needs to be fixed!

Whether or not you own a business, or work for one, or are unemployed, you should always be selling yourself. Many of us have products that we brand, but tend to forget that we ourselves are also a product. We are all unique and have different talents - and need to showcase them. In turn, I wrote up 5 tips that will help you if and when you are branding yourself (and you should be!).

1. Have a personality - and stick to it. One of the main things I learned through my marketing classes is that every business has a personality. You as a person have a personality, so shouldn't it make sense that your personal brand reflects that? Whether you are posting on your blog, your facebook, twitter, or instagram, your posts should carry a consistent tone or mood. If you typically post happy, upbeat, and motivational updates - your followers may be put off if you update with a pessimistic outlook. Of course, overall it's your space and you should feel free to post whatever you'd like. Just understand that your followers are staying updated for a specific reason, if you stray from your personality, your follower base may be impacted.

2. Have a cohesive design. As a designer, I can't stress enough how important it is to have a cohesive design. Whether you have a website, blog, facebook, shop, business cards, and letterheads, it's imperative to pay attention to the colors, logos, phrases, photos, and information that you use. You don't necessarily need a professional designer to do this for you (though you could always hire me!), it can be as simple as making sure your profile picture is consistent and using the color green. When your followers view you across your social media channels, it will make your brand and your personality more memorable.

3. Make a list of all your social media profiles. This is huge! GOOGLE YOURSELF! You will be surprised (and probably terrified) by what comes up. When I do this, I generally google two things: first, my full name and second, the username I use for the majority of my accounts. When you come across an account that maybe you forgot about (I'm talking to you - MySpace), or no longer use, log in and delete the account. After all your mistakes old accounts have been purged, go on and make a list of all your current social media profiles. Ask yourself the following questions: Are they adding value to my brand? Do they have a personality in line with my brand? Does the design work with my other profiles? If you answer no to any of these questions, try and figure out why; and brainstorm what you can do to change that.

4. Don't overdo it. In the age where social media is exploding, it can be tempting to spread yourself thin across social media profiles to gain more coverage. I am personally an offender of this. The reality is, if you are working on 5 or 6 social platforms at a time, they aren't going to be as strong as if you were just perfecting 1 or 2. People are more likely to want to follow a profile that is strong and established. Once you have established a strong presence on one profile, it'll be much easier to migrate those fans across your new profiles as they become available.

5. Ask a friend. Often times, we get too close to a project to see its flaws. It happens with designers all the time! We are always working collaboratively and having our work critiqued by outsiders. It is always a good idea to have an outsider's opinion. So go ahead and ask (an honest!) friend to check out your profiles and make sure they make sense and most importantly, work together to show you in a good light!

So there you have it. 5 tips on branding yourself, websites, profiles, businesses - straight from my brain!

Want some more inspiration? Check out my branding board on Pinterest! As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments section!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Society's Double Standard

In my (wonderful!) women artists class we've been continuously battered with stories of women who were told they weren't good enough, or couldn't do something just because it was a male-dominated world. We've learned again and again of all the inequalities separating men and women in the past, and even still today.

double standard
1.any code or set of principles containing different provisions for one group of people than for another, especially an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women. (source)

Maybe the biggest double standard in todays society is the one mentioned above; that men are permitted more sexual freedom than women. A man who has a high number of sexual partners is generally praised. On the contrary, a woman with the same number of sexual partners is frowned upon, even by members of her own gender. This double standard is often partnered with the analogy:

"A key that can open many locks is called a master key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys is a shitty lock.”

Of course, in a society of equality, this shouldn't even be a topic of argument. Equal is equal. But the opinions clouding this topic remain vast and unwavering. Have we even really evolved from the time of Hester Prynne and her scathing, red A? Set to bear her punishment while the town stands around and comments? I'm not sure we have.

Hester Prynne in the Internet Age (The Chronicle)

In Easy A, Olive Penderghast decides to use the rumour mill to advance her social standing. When guys at school begin offering her money to say that they have slept with her, she agrees to go along with it. The guys' popularity soars, while Olive is belittled and called a slut, a skank, and a whore for doing the exact same thing.

It's hard to say how long we will be stuck living in the same world as Hester Prynne, it's been over 150 years already. Instead of putting our targets up on a scaffold in the town square, we use much more accessible ammunition like Twitter and Facebook, and hide from the consequences of our words behind computer screens.

"I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence;
you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself."

BONUS FEMINISM RANT: I found this article while doing some research for this blog. And I really, really, want to believe that it's satire. But I'm not entirely sure that it is. "Why Fat Girls Don't Deserve to Be Loved"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Women Artists v.1 // Amanda Palmer

At the time of writing this, Amanda Palmer is probably editing her book in a quaint coffee shop in or around Boston. For those familiar with her work, I have no doubt that you have a clear stance on who she is and what she does: you either love her or hate her. Those on the fence, or unfortunately unfamiliar with her work, I'm about to do my damn best to persuade you to love her as I do.

Amanda is known to wear many hats. She was most notably one-half of the punk-cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls. She's additionally had a successful solo career, worked as one-half of Evelyn Evelyn, and most recently the lead singer of Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. She's married to author Neil Gaiman, and known for having an intimate one-on-one connection with her fans through social media. Oh, she is also cited as changing the landscape of the music industry by funding one of the most successful kickstarters... ever. Sounds pretty good, right? Successful? Definitely.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that with success comes a great deal of resistance and controversy. And Amanda is surely no exception to the rule.

Roadrunner Records "Rebellyon:" Following the release of the music video for Leeds United, Amanda mentioned in her blog that her record labal, Roadrunner, wanted to pull certain scenes because she looked fat. Being an advocate for self-love (and generally just knowing she looked great in that bra & blazer combo) Amanda refused to compromise. Her fans reacted by uploading photos of their bellies with encouraging lyrics and quotes onto the internet directed at Roadrunner; and even later compiled a book. Shortly after this, Amanda recorded and uploaded a song entitled "Please Drop Me," urging Roadrunner to drop her from their label. After many legal battles, Amanda eventually won and was free from a record label and posted this photo in celebration:

"Oasis:" Later, Palmer released a semi-biographical song and video which follows an Oasis fan who is date raped and later has an abortion because of it. All of the media outlets had refused to play the song, citing that it made light of date rape, religion, and abortion. She replied on her blog, "I suggested that I might be allowed to play it if I just slowed it way down and played it in a minor key. Think about it. If they heard the same lyrics against the backdrop of a very sad and liliting [sic] piano, maybe with some tear-jerking strings thrown in for good measure, would they take issue?"

Crowdsourcing Musicians: As I mentioned earlier, Amanda gained a lot of attention for her Kickstarter efforts. She originally set out to raise $100,000 to fund her new record; a new idea of asking people to pay for music instead of forcing them to. Through all the connections that Amanda had made over the years truly connecting with her fans, she hit well over the original goal and went on to raise 1.2 million dollars in one month. All donated from people who wanted to help her, as she had helped them in the past. When Amanda posted on her blog that she was looking for musicians that wanted to play with her on tour and be paid in beer, hugs, and high fives, musicians had a field day attacking her for not offering to compensate volunteer musicisans. She said to the New York Times, “If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid...They’re all incredibly happy to be here.” She eventually changed her mind, and paid all of the musicians. Though, her stance on crowdsourcing was later laid out in her TED talk: "The Art of Asking."

Glastonbury 2013: The Daily Mail had reported that when performing at the festival, "her breast... escaped her bra." Amanda was ultimately outraged that they had nothing to report on her actual performance, and only cared about mentioning her wardrobe malfunction. In response, she performed a specially written song whose lyrics conclude with "Dear Daily Mail / Up yours!" Halfway through the song, she threw off her kimono and finished the performance nude.

Amanda Gaiman Palmer, Amanda Fucking Palmer, Amanda Palmer, AFP, Goddess. No matter how you refer to her, there's no denying that she pushes the envelope and consistently challenges the rules and regulations set forth by society.

For more ass-kicking awesomeness and your daily dose of feminism, check her out here:

Twitter | Blog | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

In the words of Amanda herself, please send your comment, especially if you think I'm wrong!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music On My Mind v.1

With my senior project presentation coming due on May 1st, I've been tied to my computer more often than not. Hence,I need a kickin' soundtrack to keep me going. I've been using Spotify Premium and their discover feature to recommend a bunch of new music. I'm really digging it! One of my friends actually recommended MØ and I'm head over heels addicted. Slow Love may just be my favorite song literally forever.

Although I don't officially work for Spotify as an Influencer this semester, I continue to stand by the product! I use Spotify every single day. I never felt right downloading music illegally, or I'd get the album with a virus or something; and I always hated buying songs and albums from iTunes because they're expensive and I feel they don't transfer easily from device to device. If you want to try Spotify premium for free for 30 days, you can use this link to sign up!

And, as a bonus... I've been addicted to Fall Out Boy b-sides and acoustic songs. Here are some of my favorites:

What songs can't you get out of your head this month?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Okay, Hi, Hello, Sorry.

This entire semester I feel has been sitting at my computer preparing to graduate. Yeah, I graduate in SIX WEEKS. If that isn't a terrifying notion, then I'm not sure what is. My ultimate goal for this semester is to graduate with honors, which means bringing my GPA up to at least a 3.5. As long as my grades stay where they are, this won't be a problem.

So as graduation approaches, I have to have an answer ready for when people ask what I plan on doing after graduation. My standard answer has been, "Please don't ask me that again." And the truth is - I'm really not terribly sure. I have been applying to a few full-time jobs, although the best case scenario would be to be able to support myself on just my Etsy shop for a little while until I can figure everything out. This means that I need to overhaul my shop a little, re-mat my images, add color swatches, optimize my keywords, and all that marketing business mumbo-jumbo.

That being said... I'm looking to get my product out there! If you're a consumer, I'm offering buy one get one free until Sunday night. Just tell me which print you'd like as your second in the "notes to seller" box. If you're a blogger, I want to work for you! I'd be happy to send you a sample of my product in exchange for a shout out. Making it in the art business depends a lot on teamwork and help - and I could definitely use some of that right now.

Impossible Until Done Typography Print

Additionally - if anybody could recommend some great design or lifestyle blogs, that would be amazing! Thank you!