Owning It


An recent message exchange with a friend went something like this….

Friend: “…and for god sakes put your name on something”
Me: “I’m more public than I’ve ever been….”
Friend: “You deserve to own your content. If Ben Kuchera can do it, you can!
Me: “Oh, you mean like the Byline?”
Friend: “Yea.”
Me: “Thought about it. But when it’s a one man show, it’s weird having literally everything ‘by: Ben Dimagmaliw’.”
Friend: “I hear ya, no harm in a pseudonym for that use either. But just as an observer, seeing only “staff writer” makes it look a little fake. When Kuchera ran that game news site, literally very article was by him, and you know don’t be afraid to own it. In the proud sense, not the ownership sense. You are the extension of your brand after all, or vice versa.”
Me: “I see your point. Will look into an elegant way of doing it.”
Friend: “Hey…I really admire how much you put into it and people should know!”

As I’ve previously stated, I am normally not the most outgoing person in the world. I prefer to be behind the scenes rather in front of the camera. I’d rather let my work speak for itself. But we live in an age when self-promotion is every bit as important and for this reason, I have put myself “out there” more than I have ever before or am personally comfortable. Thus the design of the magazine site acknowledges ownership on the About page, but deliberately favored a “plural” persona in hopes of conveying a more “professional” image. The effect, at least to my friend, was the opposite; generic “editor-in-chief” and “staff writer” bylines worked against credibility. I equated showing who made the site with ownership, but owning it in the sense of being proud of what I have built and the articles I have written is just as vital for Indievisual’s overall presentation.

To be honest, putting my name on everything just seemed weird to me, maybe even a little embarrassing. However, my friend raises a good point: “I am the brand and the brand is me.” That is a fact I can not deny. Indievisual is a labor of love and as I have pointed out occasionally in the past–even in the exchange above–this is a one-man operation and perhaps that, too, needs to be a part of the overall image, not just explained in blog entries like this, but through communicating whose name is on each and every article and, most likely in the near future, photograph. I thought about my friend’s words for a brief period and considered perhaps playful pseudonyms, but in the end, a voice inside me just kept repeating, “Why not? What could be the harm?” Therefore, I have changed the settings on the backend of the site so that my name is displayed on the bylines of articles. In so doing, my intention is to reinforce the human element other one-person magazines, products, apps, etc. have advised to do in their own blogs, pointing to the importance of connecting with one’s audience as a human being which gives them a sense of personal investment in one’s efforts. People are most likely to root for an individual through thick and thin rather than some anonymous group. Given Indievisual’s core principle–to root for independent Japanese filmmakers and bolster their name awareness–my initial attempt at feigning an organizational structure now does seem silly at best, somewhat hypocritical at worst. Thanks to my friend, this has now been remedied.