By Helen Kaiao Chang
I love the new business card my designer created for me. It’s warm, beautiful and a wonderful expression of who I am.
But I may never use it. It focuses on me, rather than my clients. It builds my platform before I even have one. And I’m very uncomfortable with that.
As a ghostwriter, I enjoy making my clients look good. I am happy to stay in the background, crafting their words, so they can have books and products that share their voice and message. The limelight is on them. As a journalist, I pride myself in remaining objective – or at least fair and balanced – in my coverage. The focus in on the story.
But this new business card design focuses on me. It’s all about me and my platform. “Platform” is one of those publishing-industry buzzwords I have come to hate; it means spreading your name through various channels, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, etc. Even though I participate in a lot of social media, I don’t like deliberately trying to promote my “brand,” gain a “following,” or build my “platform.” In my mind, it often means serving yourself, rather than others. So when my designer convinced me to create a new business card, I hit this roadblock.
My existing card focuses on the client. It’s from Vistaprint with a generic pattern. But the headline emphasizes benefits to the client: “Got story? Turn your knowledge into money.”
The new card is all about me. My designer had asked many questions about my professional identity, goals and dreams. The truth is that my biggest dream is to write a memoir about my childhood in Hawaii, share about dancing hula, and be an author in my own right. This, of course, would entail building a platform around a Hawaiian theme – even though I’m totally unprepared to do so right now. So my designer created a card with warm, friendly colors, my Hawaiian name in a lovely font and a beautiful tropical flower in the middle.
I loved it! It’s so me!
But it’s completely opposite of what my clients want from a ghostwriter or journalist.
I asked myself, “If I got these cards printed, who would I give them to?” Even if I just give them to people interested in my Hawaiian “platform,” what would they do with them? I haven’t even written the book!
If I were a successful author – like Elizabeth Gilbert of the mega-bestselling Eat, Pray, Love or Mitch Albom of the gargantuan The Five People You Meet in Heaven – maybe I could pull off a business card with tropical flowers on it. But by then, people would know me by my book title, and I wouldn’t need a business card.
You see my dilemma?
On a deeper level, the issue isn’t really about the card design. It’s about who I am willing to be – or become. Am I willing to step from behind the stage as a ghostwriter and journalist – into the limelight as an author in my own right? I’m not really sure. For now, I’m sticking to my existing business card design. The new one will have to wait.
Helen Kaiao Chang is a freelance writer, editor and ghostwriter, at ghostwriter-needed.com.
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