Your digital brand 101 — identity as journalist

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you’re doing it.

acts of journalism
When your brand and your purpose are aligned, you have passion working to your advantage, pulling you forward and drawing others to you.

Getting started on your brand
If you haven’t  established a strong Web presence yet, it’s a great time to get started.  So many tools are available now to make it easy to establish your digital brand and identity as journalist.  In addition, there’s a community of  helpful people on the Web to assist. The biggest challenges these days for building your digital brand and identity as a journalist is doing the work upfront to identify your brand attributes — the kind of journalism you want to be known for, your beat and niche as well as the audience for your niche.

Your brand is about what the audience thinks. Writes Nick Bilton in his book, “I live in the future & here’s how it works”

“It’s an editors job to reduce what a readers brain has to wrestle with.”

That’s the work of your brand. It’s a short cut to the identity that you are co-creating with your audience.

A cautionary tale
Andrew Sullivan is an early blogger, a former New Republic editor – who started his blog, the Dish in 2000. Because his brand as a political commentator had earned him a following at an existing platform, The New Republic, Sullivan’s persona was solidly established when the Dish was hosted by TIME, The Atlantic and finally, The Daily Beast.

Folks in the news business watched with keen interest when In 2013, he took his blog independent from the Beast, requesting $19.99 for full access.  If 1,000 fans for news ,  or the subscription model, was to work, Sullivan was the test case that could prove it. Before long, he had 30,000 subscribers.

In January 2015, Sullivan quit his blog and on March 30, 2015, Sullivan told CNN Money: “Blogging nearly killed me.”

“I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day…. and inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul.”

“Calling The Dish’s readers the “most wonderful people” for whom he’s ever written, Sullivan on Sunday celebrated the 30,000 subscribers who signed up for his blog.

To learn more about Sullivan’s brand and the context around the subscription model, read this New Yorker article.

Sullivan was a commentator not a journalist reporting on a beat or beats for a specific audience. Nevertheless journalists on the Web can take lessons from his tag line of “biased and balanced.” He knew who he was and he won his audience by delivering on his promise.It’s important to note that Sullivan found monetary  but not human sustenance online.  It’s important to stay connected IRL (in real life).

What’s a platform?

These days you’ll hear the word platform used several ways. It can mean:

  • The outlet where you work such as The Chicago Tribune, The Progressive
  • The Web app you use to build a site, such as WordPress
  • Your integrated presence across the web and the real world. So that presence could consist of your blog, your podcast, your twitter stream, speaking events, community gatherings— whatever makes sense for you.When I discuss the platform for your personal brand, I’m discussing your integrated online/real world presence .

Googling “What do journalists need to know about branding, I found this fairly good page of resources and links by Jennifer Gaie Hellum. I’ve highlighted the ones from her list that are good and added a few of my own.

Good folks to Follow

Some very good independent journalists/social creators to follow.

Here’s a self-built Chicago platform — Gaper’s Block created by Andrew Huff. Andrew also does on the ground events very well,  knows all about engagement and is known for his signature sideburns.

Sree Sreenivasan Sree is currently the Chief Digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He still teaches digital journalism at Columbia University. Right now, follow Sree’s hash tag  #LearnSocMedia to absorb the basics of social media. He’s terrific. Also Sree freely shares everything he knows on here.

Kate Gardiner first set herself apart as a social journalist when she was working for Al Jazeera in Doha. These days she is a big thinker.


Me SaDuros on Twitter. Check out the many networks I dabble in at my Google Plus profile.)

Google yourself to test the visibility of your platform

When you Google yourself, your photo should show up in the first page of search engine results. Also showing up on the first SERP (search engine results page) should be any YouTube videos you are involved in and your Linked In Profile.

View the introductory presentation to branding

Here’s a link to the Prezi and it’s transcript.

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Sally Duros believes good writing is a superpower. You can connect with Sally on , and on Twitter.