I get a lot of questions about how to start one’s own website because I am that sort of nerd. This is partially due to the fact that I have owned froggacuda.com for almost 20 years now, and have had a web presence at or around that domain / name / moniker / handle for just as long. As King Fantastic says, “I be go to hell before I fuck my brand up”. I have spent just as long trying to figure out not just what my brand represents, but what I stand for — it’s part of being a human being if you think about it. You have a brand; it is you. You’re unique in this world, and you’re the subject matter expert on you, so you’d better get to work figuring out what that brand is. Maybe you should write a manifesto. I’d just recommend that you do it privately so that you can see how goddamn hard it is to sit down and write a blog post with an audience of 001: you. Because nobody else is really going to care. Ever. Not like you care about it: you expressed yourself. Maybe even like Salt N Pepa.

Status messages, actually, are the new blog. Twitter defined the concept of value in 140 characters or less, and the platform totally suits the sound byte culture of ADHD that is the norm now. I seriously believe that having ADHD is actually an evolutionary advantage, not a “disorder” nor a “deficit”. The beauty of cheating at your blog or your website (they’re interchangeable terms now) is that you can plug your Twitter stream-of-consciousness in as a sidebar (there! module top left!) and it updates your site. That is, if you Twitter more than you blog.

Lady Gaga as Queen of Hearts

Lady Gaga as Queen of Hearts

Here is the fundamental rule for the 21st century: whatever it is you have to say, I’ll be interested if you add value to my life. This is an important concept to catch, because of its corollary rule: Content is King. Certainly, appearance and functionality is Queen, but without valuable content, you can go fuck yourself and your fancy interactive 3D website or application. It does not add any value to my life besides a fleeting and forgotten sense of “that’s sortof cool”. That is Milli Vanilli value — the sort of thing that one-hit-wonders are made of. I’m too sexy for my shirt. I’m on a horse. Where’s the beef?

Poet Philip Larkin

Poet Philip Larkin

Do you know why I write? Because I am fuckin’ good at it. My Mom tells me so. My friends tell me so. My stats, no matter how pathetic, tell me so, because random people are stumbling across my content and commenting on it, and “like” buttoning it, and retweeting it, because by definition, it is original content for free and these entities are finding value in it. One of the most consistently hit posts I have made is a poem imitating Philip Larkin’s “And The Wave Sings Because It Is Moving“. Don’t ask me why, because I have NO IDEA; it’s mediocre poetry for me and that’s ME commenting on my own work. Remember: you are your own subject matter expert. Isn’t that why you got an e-mail address, and a WordPress site, and paid for a domain name, and hosting for the website, and set up your Etsy or CafePress e-commerce, and got a PayPal account and an eBay storefront and a matching Twitter handle; your LinkedIn and Facebook custom URLs are configured to represent that same nickname or persona that you casually developed years ago?

Stats 2011-03-08 at 9.32.08 PM

Stats 2011-03-08 at 9.32.08 PM

So you think you can blog. Well, write something interesting. Post photos that are thoughtful. I want to giggle or WTF or click on your status message and go somewhere I wouldn’t have normally browsed to. Make me LOL, or say WTF, or go “dawww!” Contribute something to me that will make me appreciate you and your unique point of view. Otherwise, STFU; I have a cornucopia of other feeds and stimuli that are working harder to catch my attention. Which has a span of short. I can barely pay it.

Do you know who has a brand? Lady Gaga. I fucking adore her; she is unashamedly her own self-generated brand. She works really, really hard at maintaining that brand, and as a consequence, 40-year-old fans like me are wearing a glow-in-the-dark LGG rubber bracelet on our wrist. OK mine is special: it was given to me by my goddaughter Tyler Rae who commented that although she bought it for me, she didn’t think I’d wear it. I haven’t taken it off yet, not even to shower.  Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta acknowledges that she cannot leave the house without becoming Lady Gaga due to her role in the world at large; this construction is moving and inspiring my godchildren and literally millions of her fans – Little Monsters — worldwide and possibly throughout the galaxy if you’ve seen her latest video for “Born This Way“.  Hahaha! She presents her manifesto!

Lady Gaga + Kermit the Frogg

Lady Gaga + Kermit the Frogg

This is the best example I can make of that ridiculous Supreme Court ruling that a corporation is a person. LGG should incorporate as a single owner ASAP to take advantage of this idiocy that is destroying America as I knew it: she could then hire lobbyists and really get to changing the world. If Arnold can win two terms as ‘Governator” of the most productive state of the union, then Lady Gaga can win the first female presidency. Because she has a brand, knows how to flaunt it, and then leverage the results, both good and bad. She just smacked Target to the curb because of a couple of questionable donations.

Lady Gaga is an over-the-top example because she’s…well, over-the-top. But that does not mean that her example should be lost or dismissed: she is representing herself, her brand, her persona, and — as a matter of fact — I know quite a few people who are actually representing themselves well on the wild blue yonder that is the Interwebz. Here’s a few of them; for other examples, check out any of the Blogroll to your left.

  • My Aunt Flo’s Etsy site, KnowYourFlo, a collections of totally awesome vintage sewing patterns that are one facet of an extraordinary woman
  • Valancy Jane’s CafePress site, Vjanity Faire, which features her signature phrase “hello pigeons” — I’m one of those too; the merit badge is proudly displayed next to my LGG Little Monsters one
  • Kristina Rose proves she’s more than just an “LA Face with an Oakland Booty” on her blog — not that we’re complaining about the latter two, but her street smarts and opinion are just as attractive
  • J.A. Huffman’s venture Surface Furniture, where one man takes visions out of his skull and crafts them in wood and metal and sustainability and dreams
  • J-Moon’s RX Earth consultation creation — he passionately believes we can heal this planet and shift the paradigms now rather than later by being smart about living
  • I also have a couple of other naescent projects up my sleeves that are vaulting on to the stage soon
Table by Surface Furniture

Table by Surface / photo: Jen Jansen Photography

You have no idea, unless you have done it yourself — or attempted to do what it takes to actually run, write, maintain, and promote a simple web address, much less run an entire brand by yourself. It is exhausting, and you can get lost in your perfection and never publish anything. I’ve been there, with a private folder full of ‘drafts’ and too scared that it wasn’t good enough to actually press record — in this case, go ‘live’ and throw some content out there. For an audience of, potentially, one. Everyone wants content, but I imagine that the average person struggles hard when actually trying to produce some. I am serious, this writing that you love takes a lot of love from me: let’s see you do it. I want to come back in a few weeks or months or years and read what I wrote just now and think that, like Eliza Dushku or another one of Josh Whedon’s Dolls, I was my best. What’s in your manifesto?

It is easy to set up a blog nowadays. It gets harder every day to find something worth reading, laughing at, or marveling over. But I think that part of playing things forward is the word-of-mouth status message to alert your peeps that this might be worth checking out. If anyone — even me — takes the extra time to turn it into a blog post, then we should consider this 21st century art. I salute anyone else who is actively participating in the stream of consciousness that is the tsunami of information that is online every second, constantly changing and continually being added to. I just have one request: don’t be afraid to throw some value into the maelstrom: become part of what is being created.

You can blog: now go do it!

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