What Creative Experts Do—How to Be a Creative Expert | Braid Creative

What creative experts do

Something magical happens when you’ve become a creative expert. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you may find that you’re the last one to adopt the “creative expert” title for yourself, but at some point you’ll take a step back—after sending that final invoice to a client, after designing your 85th logo, after showing your client a moodboard and hearing that enthusiastic “YES!”—and you’ll think, “Wow! I am really good at this!”

“But I’m so busy in the doing!” you might say. And yeah, the client managing, business managing and the creating itself for sure, is a big part. But another part is doing what creative experts do. So we want to share with you our do-like-a-creative-expert list—and if you’re kind of at that “fraudy feeling” stage where you’re not quite ready to claim your creative expertise, you might find that you’ve got some of these items covered too:

Creative experts explain, they don’t sell.
You can’t have a business without a sales funnel because no matter how fabulous your services are, the idea that anything “just sells itself” is a lie. Creative experts know this, but they also know that a stuffy sales pitch is not going to do them any favors either. So what do they do? They explain. Your clients want a behind-the-scenes peek, a glimpse into what drives you to create an amazing product, and a preview of the journey you’ll take them on in your time working together.

Creative experts know that the sales process is really just a conversation—not polished and perfected, but genuine and transparent to really get that potential client to understand the process and connect with you and what you’re offering. (click to tweet)

how to be a creative expert

Creative experts predict and notice patterns.
This isn’t to say that each of your clients isn’t a unique and beautiful butterfly, but when you’re a creative expert, you understand your dream clients before you’ve even met them (click to tweet). You’ll begin to see which problems, worries, and frustrations are common among your favorite clients, and you’ll be able to anticipate those same needs for similar clients moving forward. Creative experts see these patterns and connect the dots so they can produce more content that is even more specific to their dream clients. Once you’re able to offer those specific solutions to those problems and concerns, the only thing they’re thinking is, “Oh my gosh this person gets me! I need to work with them immediately!”

Creative experts earn enthusiastic approval.
We’ve all had that client (or fear having that client) who after seeing the final logo, or the brand design, or the website, even final room (for you interior designers out there!)—just didn’t like it. Cue: heart drop, irrational anger, and feelings of hurt and rejection.

Creative experts know how to minimize the risk of ever getting to that disappointing place so late in the project, and instead get a response that’s more along the lines of an all-caps, exclamation-point-expression of love and excitement. And it’s not because they’re better at what they do, it’s because they know how to listen, adjust, and share the process along the way. By making your client feel like part of the process and be able to give you constructive feedback before you get too far in, you’re able to take some of that pressure off the final reveal and receive that enthusiastic approval.

Creative experts have a creative process.
You know when you finish a project that just felt so right? Your client was a dream, the process was smooth, and the result made your client excited and made you think I wish every project could be just like this!

Creatives experts have figured out how to make all of their projects just like that one project. That’s not to say they don’t have a project that gets off track sometimes or only produce a uniform product forever and ever, but they’ve developed a process to follow that helps streamline communication, smooth over any bumps, and maps out a timeline that’s achievable. This process helps you work in the perfect conditions to create your best work, it helps your clients trust that you know what you’re doing, and it gives you the confidence to continue to grow.

Creative experts teach and share their knowledge
By sharing the knowledge that attracts their dream customers to them, creative experts are setting themselves up as an expert in their field. They build trust not only by demonstrating that they know what they’re doing, but potential clients feel confident that if the free content can add so much value to their lives, then the actual paid service will help them move mountains! The more you can share what you know, either by giving it away or choosing to package and sell this content, the more you will build a tribe of built-in dream customers who are already learning from you.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

SHARE THIS +


Define Your Creative Process for Entrepreneurs | Braid Creative

define your creative process

Do you have a creative process you follow? Are you taking the same steps every time? Are you showing your client? Are you letting them truly be a collaborative part of the process? Are you actually sticking to your method when you’re all alone trying to figure out this design or deliverable or recommendation... “for reals?” Or are your steps just empty bullets on your website? Are these questions making you squirm just a little?

We aren’t trying to process-shame you! We just get really passionate about this.

Creating a process for ourselves—our Braid Method, in fact—is how we were able to go from designers/writers for hire, to branding experts in lightening fast speed. Our first three months of business was taking on any client who would pay the bills, for any project we could write, design or brand. By the end of our first nine months of business, we were only working with dream clients (creative entrepreneurs working for themselves) who hired us for our specific branding process, not the whole kitchen sink or other one-off projects that we don’t specialize in.

Now four years later we look back and ask: how would we ever have developed our ecourse, or shared our ebooks or email series, or continued to get hired by so many creatives from around the country and world (we’re from the midwest you guys) if we didn’t actually use the creative tools and steps we had already taken ten, then twenty, then fifty, and now hundred times and counting for our own clients?

Even if you don’t want to go quite as far as defining this all-encompassing creative process, wouldn’t it just be nice to feel more in control of your client projects? Wouldn’t it be a relief to be able to walk someone through your steps and what they get at the end with confidence, so you didn’t have to sell so hard? But most of all, wouldn’t it be so cool if instead of wondering where the next creative idea was coming from as you sit in front of that blank page on the computer or at your drafting table, you would know that your process would not fail you and the answer would emerge?

establishing a creative process

If a process feels empty or clinical to you, it may be because that’s how you’re thinking of it. It’s not an assembly line. But if you aren’t following any sort of framework at all, then we’re going to ask you “why, oh why, are you recreating the wheel every time, for every client?”

Your reasons for not following set creative steps might be:
“Every client is unique!”
“Each challenge requires a custom solution!”
“Because that’s what creatives DO, we create something new and fresh!"

All these answers are true. And no, you don’t need a clinical or assembly-line style process. But you do need an approach, and a framework you always follow:
“Yes, the client is unique, but you are that gentle but firm guide, who has been here before.”
“Every new challenge should not feel like starting over from scratch. You are a specialist.”
“New and fresh, is not created from nothing. You have a process. Even if you don’t know it.”

defining steps in the creative process

Being a working creative doesn’t mean that you should be winging it every time on pure creative gusto alone (because underneath that gusto is every creative’s fear the client won’t like the finished product—or worse—you won’t like it either, that you’re all out of creative juice, and you might as well just close up shop). It also doesn’t mean you should be creating at the whim of the client, which is a slippery slope to having lots of little bosses instead of feeling like an intuitive, listening, and collaborative creative guide who is leading your client down a path together (sure, with some course correction along the way) – but a path you know will create the best, most authentic, most loved outcome for you and your client.

A creative process is like a path that you created over time, starting when it wasn’t a path at all, but just the wildness of all the uncertain directions you could take, and you were sweating and scared and getting lost and looping back on yourself. You got there, it was exciting, but it was hard. Now the path is still wild and mysterious, and winding, but there it is, those worn steps that you’ve taken that you know will get you to the swimming hole, the waterfall, the mysterious cave, the good stuff at the end.

“I’m convinced! I want to shore up my process!” you say. Then try this: We got so passionate and up on our soapbox in this post, we didn’t really share any how-to’s. That’s because this would be one seriously long post if we did. But we’re created this instruction manual already — The Braid Method Branding ECourse. If you love being “asked the tough questions that you didn’t even know you needed asking” (a favorite quote a designer from Phoenix, AZ taking the course shared with us) then check it out!

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

SHARE THIS +


12-Aug-2015
Make Work You Love to Attract Dream Clients | Braid Creative

Make Work You Love

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

If you’ve done exercises from our Braid Ebook for Designers or from our Braid Method Branding ECourse, you know we like to help you shape and share your words. But what about creating and showing your work?

Creative entrepreneurs can show their work in lots of way. Think about the places where you are sharing: your website, portfolio, and case studies, perhaps. Then think about your creative work out there simply speaking for itself – as your clients share with friends and peers, and people experience your work firsthand out “in the world.”

That’s a lot of eyeballs on what you’ve created. And that’s great! But if you were to go to those places and look at your own work with fresh eyeballs, would you see the kind of work you want to do more of? Or would you only see the kinds of projects you never want to do again? You might not feel this black-and-white about it. Typically there are a few projects in there you love, but chances are there might be quite a few more that feel like the “old” you – and you’re ready for some “new.”

Ever heard the expression “like attracts like?” If you want to change the kind of work you’re hired to create, then you’ve gotta start creating and showing the kind of work you want to be making! (click to tweet)

Make work that attracts clients

So let’s say you don’t want to do wedding invitations anymore, you want to do branding for other event planners and wedding professionals. That’s not a huge leap. In fact, it feels pretty logical. But it can feel like a huge hurdle if no one is hiring you for brand design – only invitations.

Or let’s say you’re a web designer. Your bread and butter has been doing small sites for small businesses, but most of them are kind of bland – usually small tech companies. These businesses aren’t inherently bland, but you’ve realized whenever you create sites for makers with a more artisanal style – a baker, a herbalist, a woodworker – that you absolutely love your designs. But how can you get more of that when 75% of the work on your site or in your portfolio is techy-looking sites?

The creative projects you show others, speak volumes about what kind of work your clients can expect from you. And if you keep sharing the stuff you think will get you hired, but doesn’t exactly float your own creative boat, you could be setting yourself up to create a boring, unfulfilling day job of your own making. Except now you have no one to blame but the boss – and that’s you. (click to tweet)

Before you get all blamey, remember – having any creative business that pays your bills is a great problem to have. It actually gives you the confidence (and cash) to keep going and keep creating. The bad part is it doesn’t give you the time – the time to work on some side projects that could start to round out your portfolio and work with the kind of projects you love.

Make work that you want to do

But that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to carve out some time (and usually that’s just some mental headspace and some self-set deadlines and goals) to either create this kind of work for free, for a friend, or for someone who’s paying if they’re exactly the kind of client you want more of.

Get more of that event planning branding on your site, get more of that handmade indie maker sites in your portfolio. Aim for a 50% mix of what has been getting you hired and what you want to start getting hired for by the end of the year. Then aim for showing 80% (if not 100%) of only work you love by the end of two years. Time flies when you’re doing work you love!

Does this post ring true to you? If you’re having trouble making that shift from the type of work you’re currently doing to that oh-so-dreamy work you want to be doing, scoot on over to our Braid Method Branding ECourse. In it, you’ll find exercises that will help you narrow your offerings and adjust your brand messaging so that you can begin to take on the dreamy work that will continue to attract more of the work you love.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

SHARE THIS +


SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

branding advice & insights | to your inbox | from Braid Creative

our privacy policy

BRANDING & DESIGN BY BRAID CREATIVE
DEVELOPED BY Indie Shopography
© BRAID CREATIVE & CONSULTING, LLC