As more and more people work from home full-time, the lines are blurred like at no other time.
For writers, mixing personal and professional lives often doesn’t go well.
Years ago, I recall speaking with a young man who owned a store that was part of his family for several generations; and he and his young family lived in a nice apartment located upstairs from the store.
To me, who at the time commuted 30 minutes each way to work, it seemed like an ideal arrangement.
I quipped, “You certainly save money on gas commuting to work each day!” He smiled but then made a semi-whispered comment that it would be nice to put some space between his personal and work lives.
Today, many of us live with blurred lines dividing our work and personal commitments. For certain, it’s affected the way writers view their social-media work. I think it is important to keep personal and professional social media separate.
In one, you put pictures from the latest vacation or grandkids or a sunset. On the other, you stick to your brand, whatever it is, and don’t merge the messages.
If you are an author and can have only one of these, make it the author page. With our ability to exchange messages and pictures with our friends on phones, maybe a personal social-media effort is only added work for someone with a professional page. At best, it confuses your audience. At worst, it opens you up to uncomfortable interactions with people who are better kept at arm’s length.
In a sense, you need to start acting as if you are well-known before you might become well-known. Most high-profile people keep their personal lives far away from social media. Unless they are completely self-absorbed and desire any attention. (I wonder what the record is for hyphenated words in a paragraph?)
All of this points to the need to establish and closely manage your author brand.
What are you known for?
What do you want to be known for?
If you write travel books, then, yes, post pictures of your travels.
If you write books about food, then post pictures of your lunch.
Frankly, you should not want people to know where you went on vacation or had lunch. These days, when creepy and strange things are happening every day, putting a good deal of space between your personal and professional social media is something to strongly consider.
If this is confusing to you, take a workshop on author branding. If you don’t have a clear sense of what your author brand is, I recommend you stop posting anything on social media until you get it settled in your mind.
Issues like this are why this agency keeps this blog going and why Steve Laube owns the Christian Writers Institute. Sure, writing is a creative venture; but without some framework, it can become less than it could be.
Without a clear idea of your brand, you might be wasting a lot of time building something that won’t help you sell books.
My personal and professional lives are, of necessity, thoroughly blended; my life has become my product.
Not something I wanted; all I really aimed at was being a Paperback Writer, but it seemed that God had other plans. No one in his right mind would choose an extended bout with pancreatic cancer, but I accept it without demur, because to do otherwise would be to question God’s mercy and goodness. “Not my will, but Thine” is what it comes down to, but it can be really hard to live.
And from that acceptance arises a calling and ministry, that life goes on and that there is a way to fully live, even when the experience becomes crushingly hopeless (like, say, right now, as I write this).
But at least I haven’t attracted and oddballs, ’cause I can pretty much out-weird anyone.
It’s not something to despise,
but can be hard to understand,
and I wish that it were otherwise,
but my life has become my brand,
days passed to be an example
of how to reinvent a life
when it has been sorely trampled
and rearranged by cancer’s knife,
and it’s a legend I must live,
a full-time job and ministry
in which I am compelled to give
all the very best of me,
optimistic, laughing, light,
and more become that which I write.
Long comment. Sorry.
Andrew, never apologize for the length of your comments. They are such a blessing to me and I’m sure others. And, my brother, please know you are loved and appreciated by your readers, even if you aren’t a paperback writer.🎵🇬🇧🎶
Karen, thank you so much for this. It’s been a dreadful week, and your words are balm for a badly bruised soul.
Good advice and points noted. Thank you, Dan.
Another piece of great advice, thanks, Dan. I have known that I need to make some changes in my social media habits, and your article helps to clarify what to do.
Thank you for writing this post.
Excellent post! I especially appreciated your advice to “start acting as if you are well-known before you might become well-known.” Thank you, Mr. Barlow, and thank you, Mr. Laube, for your excellent blog. I always come away better informed and more inspired in my writing journey.
funny shooter 2
Another wonderful bit of guidance, Dan, many thanks. I have known for a while that I need to make some adjustments to the ways in which I use social media, and your post helps to make it clear what those adjustments should be.