When I first started Suzanne's Files I didn't set out to build a personality-driven business; I was simply impassioned by finding the best and leaving the rest -- and wanted to share my finds with as many people as possible. With that said, as the business has grown I have amassed a considerable following of discerning individuals who have come to rely on the insight provided in my files. The trust has built very quickly and here we are: building a personality-driven lifestyle business!
The growth of my own business has got me thinking -- why do some personality-driven media efforts succeed where others fail? Why have Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey been able to build such strong publishing brands while others, such as JFK Jr. (George) and Rosie O'Donnell (Rosie) have not been as fortunate?
In the past, personas like Martha and Oprah took years to build their brands. For Martha, it all started with her catering business, which led to a book, which led to a magazine, which led ultimately to a TV show. For Oprah, it was years in daytime television before she became the host of her own national show and then she launched her now hugely popular magazine, O.
More recently, other personality-driven media brands, such as Rachel Ray, Emeril LaGasse and Giada De Laurentiis, have come onto the radar more quickly in both print and TV.
Then you have A-list movie stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, whose recently launched lifestyle website, GOOP, received instant notoriety out of the gate simply for being "Gwyneth's website." Unfortunately for her, GOOP's content has since been harshly criticized in the tabloids. One blogger even recently commented, "Her lifestyle website GOOP has been dazzling the blogosphere with its unique brand of snotty condescension for months now..." Yikes!
But in today's brave new media world where the web is changing everything, I wonder what role blogs, Twitter, and Facebook will play in the development and success of these and other personality-driven media brands. Given that anyone with a computer can establish themselves as a blogger -- and they are -- how are the good ones going to find the sunlight? What is the magic that transforms a web personality into a brand?
While some people really do blog just to blog and get their thoughts and ideas read by whoever finds them, there are many people who actually have something special to say and deserve to rise above the noise. For example, in my last post, "Chic Curators of the Web," I mentioned a few of my favorite curators of niche content on the web today -- people like myself, who have turned their passions into successful businesses.
Unfortunately, achieving a personality-driven media brand of "Oprah" or "Martha" status is kind of like becoming an A-list actor; there are millions of extremely talented actors in Hollywood but we only "know" a few of them.
In the same vein, what are the "big breaks" that are needed to turn these talented web personalities into household names? Do we need to get on a major network or host or star in a television show? What do you think are the moments of breakthrough that bring people of substance to people of notice?