Is Personal Branding Necessary for New Artists?

Is personal branding necessary for new artists? I can argue for both sides.

  1. Yes. Art doesn’t get sold without marketing. We’ve seen too many influencers/celebrities becoming top-selling authors and painters. In this era of never-ending feeds of content, artists survive by standing out on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, X, Threads, LinkedIn, Bluesky, or Mastodon.
  2. No. Artists must be dedicated to their crafts, not succumbing to profit-driven algorithms. ‘Likes’ and ‘followers’ cannot represent art’s true value. Chasing online fame is the wrong kind of game to play as an aspiring artist.

So what should I do? This is a constant battle. I’m aware maintaining a sizable audience is crucial for many professional writers. On the other hand, checking analytics all day has robbed me of the focus I need for my actual job. I wonder if it’s possible to build meaningful relationships online without being part of a worldwide status game.

I thought joining a different kind of social media could be an answer to this conundrum. That’s why I’ve tried lots of indie platforms such as Are.na, Mirco.blog, and Sublime. I admire these services because they offer subscription-based Internet town squares that show zero interest in spying on the members. However, in these communities, I still couldn’t forgo the desire to be seen. Even in the absence of ‘likes’ and ‘followers,’ I fell straight back to seeking attention and validation.

Now, I stopped using any social media. I’ve decided to put all my creative energy into publishing essays and short stories on my blog. I turned all analytics off to forget about data trends and dopamine hits. My strategy is to repeat the process of writing and publishing until I become confident in the craft of writing. Spending hours on platform shopping must end today.

My RSS feed reader is my new social media. In fact, all of the authentic relationships I’ve built online were through blogs. I love exchanging emails with other bloggers because reading each other’s writing is really the best way to develop strong connections. Blogging could sound lonely and boring, but my readers know more about me than most of my offline friends. I have to remind myself that I’m here to make friends, not followers.

Here’s my conclusion. I’m not productizing myself or creating a personal brand. I don’t want to worry about selling before I have the skill set to be considered a writer. I won’t miss social media either. I’m happy with books and blogs on my hands.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. - Ray Bradbury