Monday, January 23, 2012

the online persona

This blog post is an opinion piece written by the author on the truth about marketing yourself as a brand.

This past year (2011) has been one of many experiences- all interesting, many amazing, and some eye opening. I've changed my mind about what I how I wanted to present Maritime Shopaholic a number of times in the past year and what my goals were in achieving through this blog. I've had many opportunities to get to know a lot of wonderful individuals and be involved in a number of fun projects. The truth is, the year 2011 was both great experiences and one of challenging times for me personally and as a blogger. Many of you have gotten a chance to know my Maritime Shopaholic persona who keeps up to date on what is happening in this city and where to find the latest sale or that perfect something for the season.

Virtual Reality

As almost an unconscious after-thought, the name Maritime Shopaholic became my online persona and then later, my brand. This is how many people in Saint John know me. Because I blog, tweet, and post on a variety of online social mediums on a focused topic, this is what people have come to know about me. In 2011, social media popularity seemed to explode, especially in Saint John. You seemed to know so much about a person before you finally met them in "real-life".

The Brand vs. The Person

Weird to think about, but many of us have since acknowledged this with a laugh, followed by a pondering question if we spend too much time on our computers and phones. Widening the dimensions in which you connect and communicate with people is kind of cool but also can have unforeseen impact on how people view you. It has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, network without leaving my corner of the internet, and put my voice out there.

Most people knew me by Maritime Shopaholic before they knew my real name. But what I started to realize within my first year of blogging and then struggled with in my second year was that fine line of letting people know who you are, what you stand for, but maintaining some privacy and peace to retreat "offline" outside of the fashion and blogging community. You don't tell your life story or your every thought to someone you've just met or a room full of people you barely know- either in your real or virtual life, so naturally Maritime Shopaholic has always just been a piece of me instead of the whole pie. But that's the piece everyone knows and we all forget about the bigger picture sometimes.

Mistaken Identity

I started to realize a while ago that by creating and promoting a brand that was about only a part of me and my interests lead to people viewing me in a specific light- that was mostly flattering but not always the image I actually wanted to portray. But, from interactions with people time and time again, I realized that confusing Maritime Shopaholic, the brand, with Chelsea, the real person, seemed to be like when people thought the world was flat. And that's not their fault. They didn't know there was more land to discover and that Earth was actually spherical (and that their ships wouldn`t actually sail off the edge). When I started to get the impression that people thought I was actually a shopaholic (and it was published in newspaper print) I was started to feel like I needed to make a change.

Beyond the Surface

It's true, I love playing with outfits and jewellery. I may spend a good percentage of my extra money on my wardrobe. I enjoy a little retail therapy when I need a distraction and I define the seasons as much by changes in trend as I do the weather. But that's just an interest of mine. I know many people know there's more to me than what's literally on the surface (i.e. my clothing) but I've had some experiences through my branding where I just wanted to stand up and say what I was really thinking. (Ah, the art of being diplomatic.) So...maybe it's time to say it like it is?

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