The Perils of Being Your Own Brand


The Perils Of Being Your Brand: Chloe McGenn explains …

I’ve tried to write this piece a few times. I even totally forgot I was meant to be writing it because it was a slightly awkward thing to write.

Writing guest blogs was a suggestion from a colleague – it makes sense, as I enjoy writing about personal stuff, and don’t necessarily think it fits my self-employed persona. I run a small shop in Leeds selling accessories and some gifty things.

Even saying that made me feel dirty – but why should it? I’m merely telling you what I do, and why a blog, for example, about how I feel about the Paralympics might not fit into a blog about my employment, as I sell jewellery and not artificial limbs or sportswear.

Unfortunately, owning a shop means any time you tell anyone what you do, it sounds like you’re advertising. I’ve had people unfriend me on Facebook because they felt like I was marketing too much – when actually what I’m doing is sharing my life which just happens to be running a shop. It saddens me, but then again Facebook isn’t real life is it?

For anyone who is an independent service provider, and works primarily alone, it’s difficult to separate your business persona and your private life. At the end of the day, if you’re creative, your work has a lot of yourself in it, and if you sell that work, you feel like you are actually selling yourself.

So if I’m asked to write something, it makes me feel nervous that people will think, ‘oh here’s that Pesky woman again, selling her jewellery,’ thinking I’m advertising my business, instead of just having an opinion which I want to share.

The blurring of Pesky, who runs a shop, and Chloe, who is an artist and writer, is becoming more and more narrow – there’s not much I can do about it, so I’ve decided to stop worrying about it.

While I’m working to stop worrying about that, there are other things I need to stop worrying about. I’m curious to know how many other independent business people have similar problems.

A big one is the guilt I feel when I have a good day in the shop, and the owner of the clothes shop next door does not. I guarantee there is no guilt the other way around, but why should there be? It means my products have merely appealed more to the people who came into my shop on that day – not that I am putting the other shop out of business.  Does this happen in other careers I wonder?

I also still feel guilty for having a day off. I shouldn’t, I have paid staff so I can have a day off – so if I don’t check my emails one day, I shouldn’t feel guilty. If I miss an important email, it’s never so important that it can’t wait until Monday so I can enjoy a Sunday off. I don’t work in that sort of job, people can usually wait for a ridiculous necklace.

I’d love to hear from other self-employed or creative people about the guilt you feel, if you feel any, for just doing your job. Have your friends stopped following you online as they feel ‘sold at’? Do you never stop checking your emails in case you miss something?



  1. I totally agree with this article, I’ve just gone full time self employed to work for LeKeux Events and to start my freelancing graphic design and I still feel a little concious of broadcasting it all! It feels show-offy if I mention what I do but like you said its my job and life now so I’m really just sharing that?

    Nice to know there’s others out there which aren’t really into the whole self promotion thing all the time, expecially with so many others on facebook who seem to bombard people; that sort of thing really puts me off and I do question their motives so when I think about doing some self promotion I worry I’m coming across the same!

    I think it’s more about how you put yourself out there, a bit of pride and humbleness counts for alot in this social media world!

    Lovely article
    Diablo x

    1. Thanks! I like to think being nice is self-promotion, chatting is self-promotion… It so doesn’t need to be ‘LOOK AT MY WEBSITE’ all the time. I’ve had many sales through twitter, but I hope it’s never people who feel pressured

      Thanks for reading!

  2. You are not alone in the guilt thing. My OH is a self employed seller, not of creative things – he sells tools but he is the same. You would think the World would go into meltdown if he ever fully, totally took a day off. There never is a day when he doesn’t check his emails just one more time before bed. He posts parcels every single day. He even took stock away with us when we went on holiday and posted while we were away! I kid you not. And holidays are never more than 4 nights because we just can’t leave the business that long – you aren’t alone Chloe 🙂

    I get annoyed at other peoples perceptions of self employed people. Because we recently bought the business back to the house (a recent move meant a higher rent but the new house came with a big workshop so we could do away with the unit fees we were paying on an industrial estate – all balanced out in the end.) and because we work from home… I don’t know if people presume it’s not ‘proper’ work or what but we get let down a lot. People say they will turn up so we will delay deliveries or pick ups and then those people will just not bother turning up. Like it doesn’t matter because we were only at home anyway. As someone who is trying to start up on my own as an artist (which I also feel is taken as a joke a lot of the time too) it really gets my goat. Because I wont set up and start painting in case these people turn up – you know?

    Interesting article. And just as a personal view as someone who follows you on FB – you never come across as a pushy sales person at all. You come across as an enthusiastic artist and business woman who likes to share tips ind info. Keep it up!

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