The Brand Matters Just As Much To Me As The Mission
So. If you are on Medium, and you also happen to be Black or a writer or editor of color, then you know this past week, some shit went down.
Without touching too much on what happened or who did what, I will say that I have thought long and hard about my response to the shit that went down, and the only thing that kept rolling around inside my head is “how will this reflect upon your brand if you say something?” and “What if you don’t say something, how will that reflect on you and your brand?”
I would love to say as a Writer, Content Creator, Podcaster, and Artist, I have the right to say whatever the fuck I want, about any topic I want, without giving a shit about what people think about what I say.
But here’s the thing.
Loud Mouth Brown Girl is my brand. It is the thing that I am trying to turn into a global enterprise so that I can end up in a place where I am writing for a living.
So, unfortunately, I cannot say whatever I want, when I want, how I want, because I need to actually take how my audience will respond into thought when I am posting something or positioning myself on a specific event or series of events.
So the expectation from someone that I don’t know, that I step up and defend another writer, whom I also do not know, on a topic I know nothing about, angers me.
Because my brand is my bread and butter.
When I go to public events (remember those?) I am not seen simply as “Devon,” I am seen as “The” Loud Mouth Brown Girl.
When people come to my site, they want to see me talk about mental health, trauma, cannabis, healing, self-esteem, self-resiliency, and authenticity.
For those who are on the outside thinking “but you’re a blogger…” the answer is that yes I am a blogger, but I am trying to create enough content so that I have a portfolio and a body of work so that I can be paid to be a Writer.
I need to be aware, whether you the reader or even a collaborator like it or not, of how the world sees me.
I need to take into consideration, that other people might not agree with me, but I need to make sure that I don’t give people a reason to drag me. That means that when people disagree with me I need to accept, that I need to agree to disagree. Sometimes.
This means that I might not comment on every single situation that comes my way. I am learning to discern which battles I need to fight, and which battles I need to step back from. That mentality isn’t just about my brand, it’s also about my mental health.
At my core I am a Mental Health Blogger, that is my function as the Loud Mouth Brown Girl. I am sharing my journey with healing as I go, and so sometimes I am not emotionally capable of stepping into the battle, even when I might (I stress MIGHT) agree with one injured party over another.
That might mean that sometimes I need to focus on my brand, and sometimes that might mean that I will leave other bloggers, or friends even, behind in my quest to become the best blogger and writer that I can be.
Listen, I spend at least forty hours a week writing and marketing my writing, I put work into this brand that I am building, and the reason that I am doing this — as much as I like to say that it’s not about the readers, it is — is because I want it to be easier for the girls coming up after me.
I am trying to become a professional writer who is paid to write my words down on paper for other people to read, and that means that there are responsibilities that come with the title of Loud Mouth Brown Girl.
Publically I have to look like I know what I am talking about, and I have to actually know what I am talking about. So if I am not writing and marketing my writing, I am researching my next article or essay.
When I am not doing that I am networking with other writers, I am working with other brands who want me to appear on their platforms, and then I have to prepare to appear on those platforms.
When I finally do appear on those platforms, my behavior has to be reflective of the fact, that I appreciate people taking the time to believe in me, by giving me space on their platforms. I have to make sure that I am being respectful of the people who put their faith in me.
Then I have to deal with the real world fall out of my actions after the fact. I am talking about the mental health part. The part that makes me question everything I said and did.
The part that makes me wonder if I am completely crazy. The mind-numbing panic that comes from the center of my heart telling me that I am going to be a huge massive failure and that everyone is just waiting for me to fall flat on my face.
That’s what it means to be the Loud Mouth Brown Girl. So what I am saying at the end of this is this. Yes, I put my brand at the forefront of my mind.
Yes, I think about how everything I do is going to reflect on my brand and my family, and the people that are in my network, be it writers and editors, or my BudSista’s.
For the first time in my life, I am putting myself first. I haven’t always done that. I can tell you more than two dozen stories where I put what I wanted behind what other people needed — and I will continue to do that because that’s who I am.
However, in this situation where it is expected that I, a total stranger, set the forest on fire for someone I don’t even know and have never spoken to before, I am stepping back and throwing my hands up and saying you are on your own.
When I say that, I am not just talking about the situation that happened last week I am speaking in general.
How dare you ask me to set a forest on fire for a total stranger, when it means putting myself in the line of fire, against a situation that I wasn’t even involved in, to begin with?
“Hey you random stranger, you take this bullet for me while I run for cover”? Um…No?! How about I don’t do that?
How about I don’t starve myself. Period.
It’s one thing to lend your name, your brand, and even your skills to help someone else, but it’s another thing entirely to starve yourself and your family of time, energy, love, food, attention, for the sake of someone else who doesn’t really care about you, to begin with.
Don’t ask me to cut off my leg for you, when you’re not willing to get a hangnail for me.
Understand that my audience is not your audience, and they might not appreciate me burning up what they have helped me to build, for the sake of jumping into a situation that doesn’t serve the best purpose of the energy that I am trying to build around us.
You might disagree with the way that I choose to operate my brand, but that is you have the option of creating your own and doing things differently.
I however will still be here building something amazing with other amazing writers and editors who know that the power comes when we work together.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall