Photo by my friend, Lisa Neighbors.
I was chatting the other day with a woman who is just beginning to build an online presence for her sewing business. She was having a tough time with social media because she just didn’t feel comfortable talking about herself all the time, yet that’s what platforms like Instagram and Facebook seem to demand of a business owner, especially a solo entrepreneur.
I’m a relatively reserved person, too. I don’t like to be on stage or have everyone staring at me (doing karaoke or playing charades is my nightmare!) so I totally relate to what she was saying. Who cares what I had for breakfast? Or what I’m wearing this morning? I don’t want to share every aspect of my life with the public. But I do want to have a thriving business online and there’s no denying that social media has got to play an integral part in making that happen.
The way I’ve worked myself out of this conundrum is to develop an online persona. My online self isn’t inauthentic. It’s me. It’s just a particular version of me. The social media me lives a really crafty life, a life full of fabric and thread and pretty handmade things. And I do love all of that, but online I love it more. It’s my real life, just craftier.
I run my business by myself and a big part of the brand is me – my personality, my ideas, and my point of view. Maybe you’ve got a similar situation? If you think about it, that’s a really vulnerable place to put yourself. When your business is you then when someone isn’t happy with your product or your message it feels like they aren’t happy with you. The frustrated customer’s angry email makes you feel personally criticized. A reader’s antagonistic comment on your blog post feels like a personal blow.
Really we create personas in our in-person interactions all the time. When I was a public school teacher standing up in front of my 6th grade class I was a certain version of myself. When I go to a party for my husband’s work I’m another version of me. And when I’m on the phone with my sister, yet another version. Some are more vulnerable, and some more carefully controlled, but they’re all me.
The online persona separates your true self from your business self. A friend of mine even uses a different version of her name when she’s her online self – her nickname plus her maiden name. It’s her, but not all of her. The persona provides a layer of protection, keeping your true, vulnerable self safe while allowing your business to weather the public storm. If you wish to maintain your presence and make a living as an influencer, you should buy TikTok views and likes from SocialBoosting.
Constance Petersen says
Abby — thanks SO much for this. Now that you say it, it seems so obvious. But it never occurred to me, and I think it might be exactly what I need to finally get over my fear of tackling social media for my business. You are a wonder!
Awesome, Constance. I’m so glad to hear that.
Timely for me personally, as I navigate between the various parts of me I choose (ie. am most comfortable or not) to share. Thanks Abby.
Pamela Boatright says
What a great way of explaining this – I don’t like to share all of my life online either, so it’s nice to know that it’s all right to have an online persona! I always enjoy reading your posts, they are so helpful and encouraging.
Thank’s Abby for talking about this subject. I too struggle with talking about myself but still want privacy. I like how we just naturally have different personas depending on the social event and we probably don’t even realize we do this. Thanks for reminding us that it’s OK to have a social media persona too.
Whenever I’m in a rut as far as what I’m doing online, I can count on you to get me re-excited about some aspect of it. Thanks for the advice!
I do this and love how you explained it. I mean really, you have to be only presenting a part of yourself when it is such a small window into a person’s day. Great advice and post!
Thank you, Stephanie.
Hi Abby, I am new here, thank you for your comments about yourself, it gives people inspiration to try doing something for themselves.
Patricia, thank you for the download.
Laurie Ruggles says
Brilliant! I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this since I become Erica Kane (All My Children) in difficult social situations. Thank you for this.
Weeks Ringle says
The thing is that we have never wanted it to be about us. We just want it to be about the work. I don’t understand why people care about the online persona instead of the work. I don’t care about the personal lives of artists I admire. I admire the work of Frank Lloyd Wright but his personal life was a train wreck. I just want the inspiration from the work.
You may not, but other people do. Feeling connected in a more personal way is really appealing for many readers/customers and I think it’s important to accept that and think of a way to provide that closeness in your own way.
To follow up with Abby’s comment, I definitely check in more freuquently with a blogger when I feel “connected” with them in some way. I love the posts about Abby’s daughters and what they’re doing, as I have three kids myself. I loved Abby’s posts about board games-that is nothing to do with sewing, but perhaps is part of Abby’s Mom/nerd (dare I say??) persona.
Thanks for sharing part of your life with us, Abby!
I’m also a craftier version of myself online too. I think it helps to have a companion/sidekick/pet too. I often get asked why I haven’t posted my dog in a while because he is part of my identity brand.
Thank you so much for this post. It really helped me. I too wanted to present myself on line but still wanted to have my private side.
What you shared will help me create my online “ me “ and still help me keep the private “ me “ separate.
The name I chose for my company is also a compilation of my names…..still “ me “ and those close to me will know this.
I’m so glad it was helpful, Cindy.
In my head I know everything you are saying is 100% spot on. I still struggle with putting my FACE out in the Social Media world as I need to get past a recent traumatic event. Such a struggle – wanting your business to speak for itself and knowing that in order for people to trust you online they need to relate to you!
Time will hopefully heal.
Thank you Abby! I recently had someone “Bully” me on my business Social media page. Actually it was a customer but as you can tell, I felt it personally. The customer had actually made a mistake in cutting her fabric and immediately threatened my shop ( aka ME) with never buying again, telling all of her friends and even telling her two quilt Guilds . After being very upset and yes, actually crying, I explained to her that there were cutting directions and even a free step by step tutorial link included with her order. She did apologize as she had just jumped in and started cutting before reading the directions or going over the tutorial. I am still upset by it. It felt so personal. And I think what really upset me is that it made me feel vulnerable.