Crafting Personal Experiments
The life and death of the brand.
This week a wave of creators were talking about the topic of personal branding, and since I get asked about it often enough, let’s go through some actionable steps. My favorite piece on personal branding came from Amanda Natividad, who wrote about personal branding for employees.
Let’s start by acknowledging this issue will NOT be about growth tactics or engagement on X (formerly Twitter 🪦), I don’t write that content.
What I have talked about a lot is personal branding and how I use it to create a network, build culture, and ultimately, a clear brand for myself.
Each week, the top image represents the topic and this week’s image comes directly from last year when I started looking for work for the second time since being in the ‘web3’ (overused term imo) space.
~Be Hyper Online~
My journey into the NFT space, in retrospect, felt like how I entered any space I’ve been part of. I sort of just slide in, observe, adapt, adopt.
I had good reason to delete my previous Twitter account and start a new one in January 2022. I went through a traumatic experience that led me to quit the platform around 2020.
When I started a new account, I had a pretty firm grasp on what I needed to do because I had 3 goals:
Recognized: The noise-to-signal ratios on platforms as huge as Twitter or Instagram, or Tumblr are tough to wade through! [Public awareness & credibility.]
Revered: I had plenty of time in solitude over the past few years since coming out to get to know what I wanted to be known for. [Trust & faith as an expert.]
Remembered: When someone has a need for community, they think of me (or people like me) first because we don't shut up about it. [Being recalled in someone's mind.]
Friends have often asked how I have the confidence to speak about these experiences. I'll be honest, it takes a while to live in that truth. It takes courage, strength, and a lot of “I don’t care what you think” mindset.
The key here is to work towards being absolutely comfortable in the level of confidence in who you are.
Being ~hyper online~ doesn’t mean being glued to the Internet 24/7, it means knowing exactly where to look in order to curate exactly what you need to craft your vision.
Personal branding is all about figuring out how to tell your story, why you’re telling it, and the mediums used to tell that story.
Being consistent the whole time gives steroids to your already unfair advantage. 💖
How To Tell A Story
In this step, you’ll want to be a master detective. I’ve been an observer my entire life, literally ever since I fell in love with comics as a kid. However cringe it sounds, I have Batman tattoos to remind myself to seek out knowledge, to find the clues, to peek behind every corner.
Embrace the cringe, be weird, be authentic, whatever it is that makes you…YOU!
It’s for this reason queer folks are some of the greatest storytellers, we are transitional, we’re insanely good at crafting a narrative.
If you take a look at my Pinterest boards, you’ll see an entire story of images and aesthetics I’ve collected since being in web3 used to craft an identity. Here’s the trick, though, learn to read between the lines.
When someone posts something online, there’s always a reason, a motive, narrative. Humans are always about that journey. Even (especially) if it’s delusional.
Know Your Why
Yes, the story you tell is about sending signals about who you are, but more importantly, it’s about what other people get out of it.
This will take multiple pivots, experiments, and SO much learning, but each time you’ll get closer to figuring out who you are and why you’re curating a specific narrative. This is what’s called Ikigai.
The graphic above is the Western version of the Japanese Ikigai, and it’s fairly self-explanatory. I’ve added a Notion worksheet you can duplicate to help work through each of these aspects. However, if you want to work through the Japanese version, which is much more personal, including how to work toward self-actualization, I’ve included that as well.
Once you find your Ikigai, you're set. That will tell you which mediums to choose and which paintbrushes to pick up. Last week, I talked about how community members are the paintbrush for the canvas of future cultures.
This week we're going deeper because you, as the paintbrush, need to find the paint you'll use.
Branding and marketing experts might choose infographics, mind maps, tutorials, or carousels.
Writers and community builders might choose to write threads, blogs, or newsletters.
Curators are all over the place and it can definitely get exhausting. Slow down in order to speed up. We need to find the right sources for info and make tell our story through them.
This is a critical step because here you'll decide who you're speaking to. At first, I was speaking to other women who were just entering the web3 space, getting them up to speed on how to build community. Now, as we've all grown together in public, it's time to experiment and make some pivots.
Curating An Identity
After you’ve determined your goals and values, it’s time for the fun part, or at least I find this the most fun part.
Visual signals create an identity that an audience recognizes from a mile away. This is what creates stickiness. So many people excel at this part in the web3 space but neglect all the stuff above.
A visual identity goes well beyond just buying a PFP and calling it a day.
It’s why you absolutely can change a PFP and still be totally recognizable.
This is about the colors you use, the emojis you use, the types of graphics, and how people perceive you. If you’ve been following me since the very beginning, you’ll know I used to use the 💜 but something about it just didn’t feel right, so I shifted to the 💖 and it feels so much more representative of what “rileybeans” stands for.
Pink, sparkly, bright, welcoming, loving, caring. I lean heavily into the pink, rainbows, and sparkles, and it works because it’s the one thing I can be consistent with and get right time after time.
Other ways to stick in people’s minds: gifs, emoji reacts/replies, memes.
Stay consistent in visuals, experiment with aesthetics that make sense for your values, purpose, and measurable goals. Making a moodboard for yourself is so helpful.
Beyond visuals, an identity is character. It’s how you show up in DMs and on calls with people—no one will recommend you to others if you’re a jerk or unhelpful.
You’ll often hear the phrase “do things that don’t scale,” and that could not be more real. It’s often been said that real relationships and partnerships are built 1:1, and that can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the tools at your disposal, like Notus, to make life easier.
So Where’s The Pivot
Over the past two years, even before I was active on socials, I’ve primarily been focused on the NFT space and building communities.
Here’s a tip—you can pivot a focus while maintaining values, integrity, and goals. Wild concept, I know!
In that time, I’ve seen a ton of “meta” shifts, from DAOs, onchain and offchain governance to Ordinals and web design to AI, Barbie and recently, aliens 👽️🖖
My focus at the moment is on the future of play, infrastructure as cultural change, governance, and creation within these fields:
My two favorite playlists of the moment:
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Exploring Spatial Worlds! 🏕️
On off-weeks for Troop Chat, Event Coordinator Scout Sarah takes us on adventures to explore virtual worlds in Spatial and other platforms. She’s our very own Ms. Frizzle! This coming week we hold our fourth exploration in Spatial event spaces. All in preparation for creating our own virtual spaces for learning, gathering, and deciding together.
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