The Sarky Type | Content with more bite

Here we go again. Another marketing bandwagon to get all fired up about. Just as bile rises, so too does the personal brand.

Yes, I get the irony, I am about to board the bandwagon of complaining about the new bandwagon.

Marketing gets a bad rap. 

(I sense I’m losing you, please, bear with.) It can be kinda dishonest and smarmy. But more business owners these days want Gregory Peck marketing.


Marketing with integrity. (IMHO, Greg is the epitome of integrity.) Sure, it’s probably never going to be regarded as a noble profession. But when you’re honest and talk to your customers like intelligent human beings, it makes for quite a nice industry to work in.

Sometimes marketing is cringe.

I always come across something that makes my fucking toes curl. You can guarantee that a large minority is ruining it for everyone else.

The personal brand trend is possibly the most anus-puckering of them all.

Who stole all the creativity?

Bollocking buzzwords (Batman), what the hell happened? It’s often inferred (or explicitly demonstrated) that there are fixed rules—a paint-by-numbers way to market.

“Everyone needs a personal brand.”

Do they? Surely not everyone? The clue is in the name: personal brand. Should we all be doing this new thing? Nope. And when I hear this one-size-fits-all guff, I wanna haul my arse over the nearest cliff (and for me, that’s about 100 miles away—I am prepared to travel that far to plummet to my death).

If you are a business owner, you already have a business persona.

(Ooh, that nearly rhymed.) You know, brand identity stuff: core values, content tone—yeah, you get the picture—you’re already doing that malarky. Freelancers often will, like me, choose themselves as the business persona. Some would call that a personal brand. I would reluctantly agree because I don’t want to sound even more of a wanker than usual. But there’s this newish trend of personal branding for everycunt and anycunt.

“CVs are out. Your social media is your CV.”

Is it fuck.

That’s a lovely soundbite from a very hip (yes, I said hip) CEO but it’s nonsense in the REAL WORLD—y’know, the one we have to inhabit and work in.

Recruitment didn’t get the memo.

Cultivating a personal brand, in the hopes you’ll get a job, is a waste of your time. And nothing confirmed that for me more than when I recently perused some freelance writing gigs.

Side note: If you are looking for a writer to join your “exciting” agency, please hire an actual writer to write the ads. Also, if you’re genuinely exciting, you shouldn’t need to say it – you need to be it. Maybe write in a way that elicits the feeling of excitement.

I was searching for a marketing/SEO company that would very much like me—as me, to contribute to their long-form. But Jesus, the pickings were slim, and when I say slim I mean emaciated.

I have a strong personal brand (*regurgitates lunch over trousers*).

I can’t fight it. The personal brand is strong with me. I am the perfect fit for the plucky upstart start-up or outlaw brand thingy business.

But I have been naive.

Most agencies looking for freelance writers don’t want to be different, not deep down. It’s just something they say. But everyone says it and never DOES IT. And they certainly don’t care about your personal brand. 

The world of recruitment is a meat market with willing applicants vying to be slaughtered.

I looked through most of these ads with growing disappointment. Certain companies (who will remain nameless—not because I wish to protect them but because they were so bland, I have forgotten who they are) wouldn’t know great writing if it were nailed to their heads. Do you know what those organisations really care about? 

Cash per word:

“The rate of pay is proportionate to the word count…”

If, as a business, you focus on the number of words it means you don’t give a shit about quality. Furthermore, you know jack about content or copy—less is nearly always more. This is old news to writers. But it seems to still be the norm for so-called creative businesses who seek talent. And here’s the thing—they don’t want talent:

“Your initial rate of pay will be £40 per 1500 words.”


Wait, it gets better…

“The first three articles are on a trial basis…”

So if you can write 4500 words for FREE, before we even consider you, that’d be great.

(All these quotes are from a genuine job ad, btw. Why don’t they just install an AI tool?)

And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…

“As you progress, depending on your writing skills and aptitude, the pay can rise up to £70 per 1500 words…”

Blimey, as much as that. Sadly, there are plenty of newbie writers (and skint writers) that apply for this crap. So, trying to find my perfect agency is like looking for a fart in a jacuzzi. As I said, most of these businesses don’t care about your personal brand, they don’t even care that you are an individual. They are content farms, plain and simple. AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!

Sorry, where was I?

Ah, yes…

In the olden days, the personal brand thing just meant having a personality. No one was making a calculated disingenuous effort to be the perfect person for hire. Today, the traditional application process still stands. So if you are looking for work, don’t direct prospective employers to your social media because not only will you look like a twat but more importantly, you won’t be considered for the role.

And for everyone else? It’s business as usual.

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