I’m not sure if it’s because I’m GenX and hate labels, suffer from imposter syndrome, or am just plain cynical–but I find the prospect of brand building and advertising distasteful.

This may seem oxymoronic, given that I’m the pastor of a church and ran communications for my denominational region in New Jersey, but branding has always been the part of this vocation with which I’ve wrestled. At Central, I don’t even try to “brand” the church–instead, I just try to form friendships and see what happens. It’s led to some great opportunities for mission, and helped folks recognize Central as a welcoming member of this community, but it’s not a great method to generate “explosive growth 1.” At ABCNJ I did branding, but it was always about maintaining or rekindling established relationships 2. I wasn’t in the world of, “What fourteen new contacts have you made this week?”so branding that work didn’t make me gag. My ABCNJ work was about, “Hi folks, let’s strive to be who we say we are.” That I can do 3.

But my revulsion for branding also acts like a regulator which keeps me from promoting endeavors I undertake–and there’s times it holds me back. I enjoy writing Painfully Hopeful, and I think I’ve shared some helpful things over the years, but beyond sharing links on social media promoting the blog feels kinda gross–almost like I was selling myself. I feel a similar way about promoting In The Land Of The Penny Gnomes. I don’t mind sharing the link to the book with friends, or writing the sequel in this space, but the thought of doing any actual advertising regarding it makes me nervous 4.

But now I’ve started a YouTube channel and, for the first time in my life, I’m being deliberate about trying to build a brand which expands to new viewers. In many ways DM Tales is an experiment. I’ve always thought I could build a brand if I put my mind to it, and now I’m seeing if this is true. And even knowing I’m committed to building the DM Tales brand, I still find self-promotion difficult. It is a much different head space to pay attention to how many followers the DM Tales twitter account gains per week, and how many of those followers translate to views of my videos–I am not used to thinking this way 5. I’m thankful that the Table Top Role Playing Games twitter space encourages self-promotion with tags like “follow Friday6” and “self promotion Saturday 7. Even better, there are some soft guidelines that twitter circle has. The Follow Friday invites more established accounts put out, for example, are often for people who have under five hundred followers. It creates space for newer members of that twitter branch to be discovered. Most of the folks who participate in promoting their creations or accounts on Saturday also set specific goals like “I’m 30 followers away from 200, help me get there!” or “We’re nearing our kickstarter stretch goal, here’s what it is.” Guideposts like these help make me feel more comfortable promoting my own channel 8.

What’s my end goal for DM Tales? The dream would for it to become a part-time job. If it could generate enough income to justify keeping the channel going, I’d be happy. I’d be ecstatic if it generated enough income that I could invest in making the channel better, and maybe fund my self-publishing habit, without being a burden on our family’s finances. But those are dreams. Right now I’ll just commit to building the brand and hope I make some content people find interesting.

  1. And there are many times when I think I have to be doing this all wrong, because Central needs to grow, but then I look at Christians who push their brand and just want to throw up. 
  2. Even if they were only on paper. 
  3. And I do this for the Central as well. 
  4. In this case it’s probably imposter syndrome at play. Psychology is messy. 
  5. The closest I ever got was on this blog, when I set a goal to get one hundred likes in a month. After a year or so I met that goal. A then I wondered if I could get to two hundred likes, which I achieved once or twice, but after that I felt like the goal had been reached and didn’t obsess over it any more. I still see if people are reading, but that’s enough for me in this space. 
  6. ff or #followfriday

  7. selfpromosaturday

  8. Though this past Saturday I was not specific with a follower goal, I didn’t want to suffer a crushing defeat on week two. Still, I went from twenty followers to thirty-four over the weekend. I’ll take that as a win.