Kathleen here. When I was in college I worked at a fabric store. It was my job to cut bolts of raw material for people who were sewing curtains, covering a couch, or creating their own wardrobe. It was creative, fun, and I learned a lot about construction, design, and I got really good at calculating fractions and decimals and eye-balling yardage. So one day this woman comes into the store and asks a couple of my co-workers and I if we would be interested in helping her redecorate her entire house. We were excited at the opportunity but there was no clear objective, boundaries, or transactional exchange. We wound up half-heartedly designing this woman's entire house for free. It's the first time I can really recall feeling taken advantage of in a really unfair way—lesson learned. Except not...
I've had to re-learn this lesson over and over again since working for myself. Earlier in my career, I've been hired to do things that have made me feel at best, in-over-my-head and at worst, completely resentful and stressed out. All because I was still too unclear of my own brand and business vision to say no or put solid boundaries in place.
BRAND CONFUSION CLUTTERS UP BUSINESS BOUNDARIES
Listen, a lot of us creative entrepreneurs who border on being Type A control freaks (I see you) are good at A LOT of things. In fact, we can do or figure out just about anything—it's what makes us confident enough to wear so many hats as solopreneurs. So it's hard to say no when you need cash and desperately want to make a living working for yourself – or when you simply want to please the client you've grown to really like – or when you want to close the deal on that rad project that is just barely out of your scope of expertise. In reality, I'm sure there are a lot of things you won't do for money (Indecent Proposal, anyone?), but if you're confused about your own brand and business vision, it's easy to accidentally fall into situations where you're doing work you don't really want to be known for.
“If you're confused about your own brand, it's easy to fall into doing work you don't want to be known for.” (Tweet this)
For years, Tara and I have been helping creatives get underneath what their brand is all about, and we learned early on that asking what they ARE NOT all about is a great way to get clear on who they are and what they want to be known for.
So ask yourself this: what will you NOT do for money? Look at your "about me" page or your "how to hire me" page on your website – is there anything about it that might confuse people into thinking you do something that you don't?
NEED MORE BRAND CLARITY?
We’ve created a free e-book: 7 Ways to Brand You & What You Do to help you get clear of your own brand and business vision. This workbook includes seven chapters + lots of brand exercises that will help you understand how to share your vision, create the work you actually want to be doing, narrow in on your dream client, and create a process that your clients respect.
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When you’re a creative entrepreneur it seems like your business is always changing, even when you’re just predictably ticking right along, project-by-project. For starters, what you do and sell just keeps getting better with practice. Naturally (or intentionally!) your following and your reputation grow. For some, the growth is slow and steady, for others, it’s a flurry, and for most of us, it’s a mix of both.
Tara here. Whether you’re a hot spark or a slow burn, a tortoise or a hare, (you guys know which one I am, slow and steady wins the race, right?) – the longer you work in the business you’ve created for yourself, the more clearly you know what you like, what you love, and what you’d rather not do any more at all.
“The longer you work in the business you’ve created for yourself, the more clearly you know what you love & what you’d rather not do any more at all.”
So I want to talk about those times when we’re not just routinely ticking along. What about those times when you are completely energized, preoccupied, even agitated, by a new idea for your business—an idea that would take your business (and your life) to a way of working that you would really love. What happens when your own inner-hare starts thump-thump-thumping and wants to take off!?Your vision for “what’s next” might be...
Do more than just one of these scenarios sound like what you want, too? Ask yourself, is your brand helping you make these transitions, or is it holding you back? It may seem a little like putting the cart before the horse, but often it’s the changes we make to our brand— our messages, how we frame up our offerings, and a shift in style and tone (like embracing more of our personal brand alongside the professional)—that helps us stay motivated through a transition, that helps us share this change with other people with more confidence, and definitely helps people know how to engage with us and our business – in this entirely new way.
“Is your brand helping you make your business vision transition – or is it holding you back?”
Even though I’m all for brands matching (heck, actually pre-paving!) where we want to go with our business vision, I’m not a fan of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to your business and expertise. For example, if you want to transition from one-on-one work to launching a one-to-many product, what are the ingredients that are making their way into this new offering, that still come from your experience and expertise?
Can you restructure your offering and reframe your brand messaging without starting over from scratch? Absolutely. I think the goal for a brand in transition is to get it reflecting a 50/50 mix of a.) how you actually work now + b.) how you want to be working going forward. Look at your website, your recent social media posts, even your last three projects. What parts can stay as a valid, legit part of your brand? Which parts can go to make room for the new vision you want to share?
How do we structure and frame up our own offerings behind the scenes at Braid? We shared our practices (and answered your questions!) about growing the business vision we had in our own heads (and hearts), not only in our early days but in our own times of transition. Learn how we get hired for our one-on-one expertise (my older sister vision!) while also reaching more people and launching new products (Kathleen’s younger sister vision!) in our Braid webinar. Catch the replay: Sign up here!
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When you work for yourself, it’s not like you’re in a constant state of bliss. But it’s nice, even exhilarating, when I’m randomly struck by how much freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment I really have. I feel it when I see the client names and ecourse enrollments on our chalkboard. I feel it when I see all the patchwork colors of the appointments on our calendar. It feels good to be busy, productive, and thriving.
Because the next newsletter that’s due to go out, or the next brand platform due to a client aren’t overwhelming to-do’s—they don’t want to make me throw my hands up or quit, they fuel the dream! I know the work will unfold and happen the way it always does, in methodical steps, not in late nights or mad dashes.
This has become my natural humdrum way of working and living. There’s no going back now. For me, it’s the day-to-day routines and ways of doing business that really make my job dreamy.
1. We share content consistently & stick to sharing what we’re known for.
Kathleen, my younger sister and the force behind how we share content at Braid, loves routines. She also loves sharing content – blogging, podcasting, videocasting, and creating products that can help lots of people.
Maybe this part isn’t as fun for you. I’m more naturally inclined to the one-on-one dialogue of working with a client. But I still see how sharing content—at our own pace, on the platforms we feel comfortable with, and in our own voice—keeps our dream going:
Sharing content consistently is like keeping the coals burning so your fire doesn’t go out. It’s how you slowly & consistently keep fueling the dream.
2. When it comes to selling our services, we stick to the offering we’re known for.
As the older, more methodical sister, what I love is the process of the work we do. What’s so dreamy about it for me, is having an offering that is so clearly defined by our expertise (what we’re best at) and following the same steps every single time. It’s also how we manage all the projects we take on without getting stressed out or feeling trapped in a job of our own making. Here’s what might sound dreamy about this kind of structure for you, too:
Structuring your offering in a methodical way keeps you from burning out. You get to take each project or client one step at a time, as a trusty guide, not a scattered order taker. Otherwise, your dream job could become just another a day job of your own making.
Whether you want to be better at sharing content to keep attracting dream clients, or like the idea of structuring your own offering and projects in a more “dreamy” way, Kathleen and I are going to be talking about both in a webinar next week and you’re invited!
We shared how we “give it all away” in our content to attract dream clients, our profitable strategy since we first started Braid Creative (before we ever even had an email list to sell to!). We talked about structuring an editorial calendar so you can be consistent, and we shared our secrets to managing our clients so that we’re always feeling like experts vs. order-takers. Sign up here to watch the replay.
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