Are you a writer or a brand?

Are you a writer or are you a brand?

Earlier this week, I wrote about my absence from twitter this month, digging into the “why” of my sudden drop off, after having become a somewhat regular “tweeter.”

Similarly, I was looking at my writing production this month and how it appears to have dropped precipitously. Reflecting on it, as well as some other reading and listening I’ve done in recent weeks, triggers several observations.

It’s not that my total production has dropped off that much; it’s just that I’ve posted a bit more frequently to other blogs, some of which have been internal and/or private. So, for example, I posted in the 2.0 Adoption Community a couple of times, nGenera’s Wikinomics blog a couple of times, on my GovLoop blog, and my “FreshTech Friday” column in Austin Startup.

The reason I post in other blogs is partly because I tend to apply a different editorial focus for each, whether the blog requires it or not. It’s also because, in theory, it widens the audience of people with whom I’m in conversation. However, it’s also occurred to me that it has the potential to diminish one’s “personal brand,” if done without more thought.

I suppose at first blush, this would seem counterintuitive, because you would think that a wider audience from articles posted across multiple blogs and online publications would enhance your brand. But, in an era where the NY Times recently reported the trend where “nearly everyone will publish” eventually, one has to manage your published brand, if you desire a degree of reach and attention from your work.

Wired magazine suggested just how little the value of an undifferentiated writing is worth in this month’s issue, where they dissect at a high level the process of DemandMedia’s automated search/video advertising operation. The pay for headline and article writing is pennies – reflecting the dramatic effect of writer wages arbitrage, at least in one particular niche.

Now, look at the other extreme, illustrated in the same issue of Wired, in the “Mob Rules” article, where the inflection point for Twitter’s explosion in unique visitors aligns with the Ashton Kutcher versus CNN race to a million followers. Now, there’s the power of a personal brand, even when thumbed out in 140-character bursts of celebrity stream of consciousness.

The good news seems to be, if you manage your writing and your brand carefully, it’s worth increasingly more to those that want to leverage it. NPR started a series about information privacy this week, but dug into an interesting sidebar about information as currency. Alessandro Acquisti, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University, says in the report that personal information is almost a kind of currency β€” something people spend. And, I would offer, accrue if you focus on the brand.

I explored this subject a bit in one of my posts on FreshTech Friday a year ago this time, called “Make ‘Em Pay.” And, I still think there is potential for people to better control their personal information and, even moreso, their opinions and observations – something like or, if you will.

We’ll see. In the meantime, time for me to go re-read Sean’s and Alex’s “Brand Communities” research report, which came out earlier this summer. Go grab a copy of the digest, yourself, from nGenera’s website.

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