Starting from scratch – the birth of a new identity

Business nowadays is ever evolving and more and more freelancers are taking the stage as stay-at-home workhorses. Graphic designers, video editors, copywriters, people in advertising, SEO management, any type of work in the digitally creative field, you will find the 24 hour warriors. tumblr_inline_nut6btUlWU1tbx5cw_540The ones who get your audio sounding just right before you get to work for that presentation, the designer who has the poster in your inbox like clockwork for your monthly event, and do you need voice overs? They might be done in a closet. Why are these people so important?

Because they are changing the way the public sees you.

They are changing your identity.

For the past decade of working as a media freelancer, I’ve seen the industry change. Maybe it is because there’s just more information to uncover, people are trying new things to establish their brand. When I started, it was mainly writing colorful copy for simple websites. There was very little interactive media ten years ago. Videos were expensive to make, ads were for TV, and press releases went to the papers in hopes of being picked up. Let me put it into perspective; we were still using MySpace and waiting forever for the really flashy pages to load. The hyperlinks sometimes worked, they sometimes didn’t. Everyone was flashing his or her goods and it was like Woodstock was reborn in digital form because everyone was so liberal online. Facebook was only at Harvard until September 2006, when it was introduced to the public. So why would businesses even care if they had a hyperlink on their site? They had a register check out, which mattered most. It worked for the time being.

Fast forward, Look at the way the world works today.

Jack-Rose-jack-and-rose-24036006-500-200You have 7 seconds to make an impression, according to Forbes.

This means you have seconds to catch someone’s attention and make him or her think you’re something special in a sea of special. Better try to make it count.

Google ‘special’ and you’ll see yourself with a whole pile of other faces.

Why do some brands or campaigns stand out over others? This has changed over the last decade, as have the prerequisites for being deemed ‘awesome’. Expectations are high. The 24-hour Creatives are working around the clock, delivering products to help brands stand out. No company can do all things on its own. Ok, wait, I suppose it can but one might go insane in the process. You can quote me.

“Outsourcing to specialists saves you time, gives you peace of mind and relieves the guilt of not being able to do it alone. It also gives you a different perspective that you may not have thought of.”

Example. You have a product that you want advertised in commercial form but the world is tired of hearing about new laundry soaps so you have to be creative. TV commercials used to be about a minute. Then 30 seconds. Now, YouTube commercials seem to be taking over for video marketing and they are just a few seconds usually. 7532153People’s attention spans are shrinking so in launching a new brand or project or product, you have to take this into consideration. There are lots of moms who have gone back to school after their kids are born and work from home. Maybe they took advertising and marketing. They’d also know the perils of the market you’re trying to reach. Working with the right professional, you’d be able to come up with the perfect campaign. In the end, you could have an interactive, engaging campaign where the hash tag #LaundryIsCool is trending and they want to play your 30 second commercial at halftime during the Super Bowl.


No one has time and attention spans run low
. If you are trying to launch this new product, do you really want to stay up all night brainstorming when there is an avid professional out there working at reasonable rates that would allow you a good night’s sleep? Chances are, if you pick the right person to work with you, someone who is engaged and excited about laundry soap, they might come back with a pleasant surprise. Even if it isn’t exactly to your vision, you have it as a building block with the talents of someone who is an expert in that domain. All great things have humble beginnings.

Quite often, I use myself as the guinea pig for my social media experiments. Recently, I just launched the ALRM moniker with my studio partner. I’ve been working as an artist for so long, representing myself on social media; sometimes I get jumbled up between my brand and myself as a person. ALRM is our fresh start to see if we can get a hang of how social media works for real this time. Ironically, I did a social media critique just recently on a small business and pointed out that the business owner and their company had a marriage online that could may possibly be negative for business.

IMG_0557The very next week I get a text from a friend, ‘Ummm, I really like your new ALRM Insta but some of those pics have to go. They are too personal.” Karma kicked me right then. “Really?” I replied. “Yes, Amber. “The Force May Be With You” has to go.” Damn. I really thought I had that one worked out. But you see, my friend worked in the social media department of one of the, if not THE, largest music companies in Canada. For the past year, she has been like a Social Media Fairy Godmother and keeps an eye on my posts. Sometimes I push it and leave them but usually I listen to her advice. Why? Because she knows her tools like the back of her hand because she was raised with them and she has a marketing savvy that I admire and know will work with the brand I’m trying to create. I’m not ashamed to admit I am an #instafail sometimes but I sleep better knowing I have a professional keeping an eye on things.

Another way to kill a buzz is with poor writing. Your brand will be dead and buried if you cannot figure out the difference between the product your trying to sell because you’re completely enthralled with it. Am I the only one who cringes in seeing the wrong ‘your’ or ‘you’re’ being used? What about ‘there, they’re and their’? Simple things, people. I do it too. I miss them. I miss certain spelling mistakes and let things go and again, little Internet angels that I work with usually text me to tell me what’s wrong. This is another job done by so many freelancers out there. Proofreading, editing, checking your work. Listen, if we have created some magical product or make incandescent music or have figured out the Theory of Relativity, sometimes our minds are busy and miss things they wouldn’t otherwise. All hands on deck when it comes to proper writing and branding for your business. If you don’t have the help, get help. Your identity online should reflect your best face forward. Of course you’re eloquent, be sure it looks that way.

how-to-write-good-image-300x204

With the launch of ALRM, despite priding myself on my writing skills, I enlisted the help of people I considered professionals. One I asked to act as the text editor and we have a PR practitioner working as our media representative. When launching a new identity online, or new product, we have to work with people who carry our vision dearly in mind and also, those that we want to be associated with. There is nothing better than working with professionals that see your vision and will make the difference in your tired attempts at rehashing the same information and ideas you’ve been talking to your boyfriend about over dinner for a month. homer-going-crazy-o

Yes, you COULD do it all yourself. You could. You could write the press releases and contact the media, you could set up the video shoots for a commercial and send it to the stations after bartering for less than prime time slots, you can buy Facebook ads in hopes of hitting the right market or at least impressing onlookers with seemingly high engagement numbers. You could write your own campaign and figure out who, when, what and where and then micromanage yourself into sleepless nights and endless days.

But why play a game alone when the extra players make it more fun? The skills that others bring to the table are quite possibly what might put you in ‘next level’ territory.

Launching a new product or moniker (or just about anything) takes time to catch on, if it even does. ALRM was started on Facebook about a month or so ago and despite both my partner and I both inviting a pile of friends to like the page, it stayed at around 200 since about day one. Probably out of 3000 invites. People are immune to invites and follows. They wear their social media notification repellant in a love/hate sort of way. They love to get notified about things they can ignore. Only with the increase in our campaign posts are each of our social media sites growing slowly but organically. But the people who are on that page are interested.

How can I tell?

My one Facebook page for my Amber Long artist page is about 6 years old. It ‘boasts’ of over 6000 followers. In the past, I have purchased ads on Facebook, in 2012 when they first came out. I did see my page increase by 1000 followers, which at the time, I liked, but then quickly realized no one was engaging. For the past 3 years, I’ve been avoiding ads in case of accumulating useless likes and have focused on material based content for my music. Only have I noticed a significant increase in engagement lately for certain posts that draw attention as the page continues to grow organically. It seems only a creation number are given an impression of the posts on this page, considering the number of followers. It seems standard practice for artists to have a page on all social media sites and it might seem disheartening to see a smaller number of fans from their page to the next but it isn’t about the numbers, it is if your public cares about what you are saying and how you make them feel.

The Time is Now Cover (more text shadow)The ALRM page is new, as I said and what I noticed about it is that despite only having just over 225 followers, it gets a great deal of engagement in comparison to my much larger page. Percentage-wise, most posts exceed the attention the Amber Long posts are, even if they are the same ones. It seems because the ALRM moniker is fresh, the album is coming, people are paying attention for it, they are apt to comment or repost, simply because it is new. I’m not sure how it will all pan out, to be honest, long term as far as how fast the pages will grow or not. The album launch is very soon, which will put the social media sites at top exposure to date. Thankfully with a good team in place, it feels a bit more comfortable giving way to this new art piece we’ve made.

When a baby is born, it is an intense time. The parents feel vulnerable and can only wish that the right doctors or midwives and doulas are around when it is time to deliver their baby. They know they could do it on their own in the backseat of a cab if they had to but they’d much prefer the comforts of home or a nice room with a view from Babytown General and the peace of mind knowing they had a team in place to make this huge event as painless (figuratively speaking) as possible.

That is what is it like to launch a new identity online.

A new brand.

A piece of art.

A persona.Teamwork Makes the Dream Work card with colorful background

You need a team to tell you it’s time. A team to tell you to push. A team to show you how to manage afterwards. You need to know what you’re doing right and someone to carry the load when it just isn’t your strong suit, to let go. Small businesses are blessed with a plethora of people out there at the click of a button from Craigslist to Kijiji to PeoplePerHour to mandy.com. Freelancers are versed in various skills and just make giving birth to our new project that much easier. Yes, you can do it all yourself. I’ve tried. I’ve done it. But I’ve made so many mistakes. And still do. Online business is real business. No one is waiting for their MySpace page to load anymore. By working to our strengths and enlisting the help of others in places where we fall short, it gives our new identity a better chance to make a shining entry into the digital world. You can still have creative control over the aspect of how it all goes down, and what it looks like but at the end of the day, and I stand by this, ‘you can’t boil the ocean’ so roll with the tides, know your strengths and ask for help where you need it.

UPDATE – Wednesday, November 11, 2015 – 11:47pm

The ALRM album has been launched and you can check it out here:

https://modernagenda.bandcamp.com/album/the-time-is-now

It has already gained some press:

http://change-underground.com/amber-long-and-robert-mason-release-new-album-alrm-the-time-is-now-as-free-download

Can’t wait to see how far this goes!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    This is a very interesting post Amber. I think that a lot of the time, for me personally, I find it hard to let go and let others touch my baby. I think that as humans, we have a tendency to get attached to what we’re working on. I agree that it is absolutely necessary to have the wherewithal to know when you need to enlist the help of others, and to know exactly how those around you can help. Just because you CAN do it by yourself, doesn’t mean that’s always the best course of actionAfter all, where would Jobs been without Wozniak? .

  2. Elisia says:

    This was such a wonderful read, Amber! It was engaging from beginning to end! Loved your topic! It’s very true the world has definitely changed dramatically! Love your quote “you can’t boil the ocean, so roll with tides” so true!!

  3. hanna says:

    I am so happy to have seen your perspective on this, especially as an experienced media and music industry personnel. I wonder, can an individual attain all this and more on their own? What do you think the depth of a team as you name it would be and their work vs. an individuals? How does this correlate to an entrepreneurs success?

  4. Dimitri says:

    Really enjoyed this blog Amber. I definitely feel I could relate having done some freelance journalism in the past. You brought up a great point in making the most out of first impressions. We’re all going into a competitive industry where establishing those strong impressions are absolutely crucial.

  5. takeallofmyknowledge says:

    Great post, Amber! I like how thorough your research and examples were. Online identity is essential, and catching the consumer within 7 seconds is difficult, but if you can, than you won’t lose them!
    Good luck with ALRM!

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