If you try to be everything to everyone you’ll end up being nothin’ to nobody.
If you’re unable to get specific and articulate who you are, what you do, who you help, and how you help them, you are leaving serious money on the table. It's the old adage that if you try to be everything to everyone you’ll end up being nothin’ to nobody. Trite, yes – but it’s true and something we’ve been seeing brands first-hand have a hard time embracing lately.
Most of us as individuals have big hearts and a big vision for our brand and our business that doesn’t exclude anybody from the discussion (or our services, product, or offering). In fact, we work with a lot of leadership development professionals, coaches, educators, and purpose-driven organizations who have all but eradicated the word “or” from their vocabularies to embrace the tone of “and.”
The word “and” opens up the dialogue to new ideas, collaboration, and expansion. The word “or” implies a choice that needs to be made. “And” is super dreamy, but when it comes to differentiating your brand, you are going to have to make some “or” choices. When you can proactively choose who you are and who you’re for, only then can you truly reach the audience your business is built to help....
One of the best things you can do to attract more dream clients is to tap into how your existing or past clients talk to other people about you. You can learn a lot about your own brand by getting out of your own head and into the point-of-view of someone who loved working with you. How you talk about yourself will become a little more simple, less jargon-y, and more specific about what you do and how you deliver.
TRY THIS: Imagine that you’re working from a coffee shop. You have your back turned toward most of the coffee shop customers; you are laser-focused on your work until you overhear your name. You recognize the voice… it’s of one of your past clients! She’s telling a friend about what it was like to work with you. Don’t worry – it’s only good things:
The number one question we get when talking about positioning and branding yourself to attract your dream client is: “But what if I don’t know who my dream client is?”
Whether you’re transitioning career paths, pivoting to try out a new offering or service, or entirely new to your creative career – you might not only be wondering “how do I get more clients?” but trying to figure out “who the heck is this client, exactly?”
So, I’m going to give you my best advice for identifying the dream client you’ve never had.
Before we dig in – I want to tell you that we’re going to be hosting a free mini-training where we’ll be deep-diving on getting more of the clients you want on Friday, March 31st. Save your spot here >>
To attract dream clients, you have to be clear about who you are and what you’re offering.
If you stumble over telling people what you do and are vague about what you deliver after they hire you, you will confuse any potential customers or worse… attract terrible fits. It’s important that you are able to articulate what you deliver and for whom – on your website, social media profiles, and in your content and conversations.
Last week I shared a few tips and strategies for branding and selling yourself as a coach. Today what I really want to share with you is how to package your coaching engagements in a way that will help you close more deals, get more clients, and confidently take those clients through a structured process that delivers exactly what they’re looking for.
Last week we talked about narrowing in on your niche as a way to get specific about what you do, but what’s the tone and style of how you work: Are you a tough-love coach? An intuitive coach? A step-by-step methodical coach?
A great way to find your true coaching style is by explaining to your best friend what you do. You want this to be someone who is familiar with your work but maybe doesn’t totally understand what you do for a living all day. Share with her a couple case studies of what you do. Better yet, grab your smart phone and hit “record” on the conversation. As you listen back on the conversation of “what you do,” you’ll start to see themes, common words, and phrases rise to the surface. And because you’re talking to your best friend, you’re not putting up any fronts or using confusing industry jargon....
It’s pretty clear that the coaching profession is booming right now. Perhaps you were at the forefront of that boom, blazing the trail before anyone even knew what that meant! Or perhaps you’re just now making your coaching dream real.
Maybe you haven’t gotten your coaching business vision completely off the ground yet – but you can’t ignore that gut feeling that coaching is the path for you.
Kathleen here, and I’m guessing that regardless of how long you’ve been working with clients (months or years), you’ve always been a leader of one kind or another—whether that’s a guiding influence on those around you, or their go-to thoughtful listener. You’re the person your friends turn to when they need a reliable sounding board.
Maybe you’ve already carved out a name for yourself as a coach or a creative entrepreneur, and now you want to transition to teaching and coaching others what you know....
I recently invited a portion our Braid newsletter list to “ask me anything.” Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of those questions and my answers. If you’re not subscribed to our list feel free to sign up here:
Question from Karen:
I know what my dream job is, but still feel like I have to have a salaried job before getting to the dream job; I'm the family's sole breadwinner. So how do I find momentum to promote my current work to get a salaried job when my enthusiasm is not super high?
I eventually want to market my watercolors of public paths (note cards and calendars with mini-path network hikes on the back) and eventually add to that teaching plein air painting along the paths. But right now I have to focus on gathering samples, creating a portfolio and website, and start marketing myself for the next salaried day job. How do I stay focused and keep the prize in sight to stay motivated?
Tara here, and I want to talk about love. Specifically the word “love,” and if it has a place in your business or your brand. We all hear and see it all the time: “Do what you love!”
Everyone says “do what you love!” But does love have a place in your business?
We say it too. It’s inspiring, and it’s a reminder to make our own rules and define our own success. But I also know a lot of us pepper the word “love” into our business all the time—especially when we’re talking to a new client or a new collaborator and we want to express how we can help them.
How often do you say the word “love” in your emails or posts to your clients, prospects, or peers?
So social media posts aside, let’s talk about when you’re having that new potential client conversation. They are usually over email, the prospect is inquiring about working together, and you’re giving them a glimpse into what you do.
So here’s how—in the course of an email—I might drop in the L word without even realizing it:...
Kathleen here. Last night I was browsing the Kindle bookstore looking for a fictional book I could escape into. Before I knew it, I was browsing personal development and business books. Does this ever happen to you? I’m guessing you’re a student of life and just as invested in learning All The Things as I am.
The hard part is balancing the learning with the doing. It’s easy to begin to hoard knowledge without ever implementing it. Or becoming overwhelmed with all the things you should be doing according to the last book, course, or webinar you attended.
So today, I want to share a couple ways I’ve balanced learning and doing:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you don’t know, make a list of everything you’ve already learned. Think about education, courses, books, and conferences you’ve attended. Make a list and next to each one write down even just one thing you learned.
Any time I start fantasizing about getting a masters degree in creative writing, I decide to just sit down and do some creative writing instead. Sometimes the best way to learn is by actually doing the thing. (And on that note, can I get an honorary master’s in business from somebody???)...
Kathleen here. I want to tell you a few secrets – Tara and I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. In fact, before creating Braid Creative, we had never really imagined working for ourselves. We were perfectly comfortable collecting gold stars (and a paycheck with a matching 401k) from somebody else.
But here’s another secret: even with our lack of experience, we were profitable since day one. Our goal was to simply replace our day job salaries, but I was surprised when in our first year of business together, I made more than I ever had working as an art director at an advertising agency.
What’s the secret to being profitable since day one? We positioned ourselves as creative experts, created really good content, and narrowed in on our offering to attract just the right dream customers.
I recently invited Tara to chat with us on the Being Boss podcast to chat with us about:...
Most of us become creative entrepreneurs, small business owners, or freelancers because we want to spend our days working with our hands, curating our shop, painting canvases, designing brands, coaching dream clients… the creative side of what we do is, well… what we actually want to be doing all day. It can be frustrating when you have to wear all the other hats to run a successful business. It’s not enough that you just do “your job” because you have to do all the other jobs too: accounting, HR, account service, customer support, and marketing.
Listen. Marketing is simply reminding people to hire you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but what I really want to tell you today is that good marketing begins with good branding.
So what is good branding? When you hear the word “branding,” you might think about your logo, colors, and visual identity. You’re not wrong, but branding is so much more.
Branding is how you position yourself as a reliable guide or expert in your field. It’s the words you use in your tagline, on your about me page, and in your conversations that very specifically let your dream customer know you’re for them.
Branding is clearly articulating what you want people to know, do, and feel with every blog post, Instagram photo, tweet, and webinar....
Sometimes the most heartbreaking thing about being a creative for a living is when a client has negative feedback.
It looks a little something like this: you go through a discovery process, you ask all the right questions, you and your client are jiving and on the same page, you pull inspiration and the client gives you a big thumbs up. You spend days sketching, refining, and finalizing a design that makes you proud. It just might be your best work yet.
Then, you present a design to your client. You can read their face – they aren’t loving it. Or maybe they take their time getting back to you – you take the silence as criticism and start beating yourself up over what they’re thinking. Maybe they come back with “I love it, but could we change …” followed by revisions that butcher your work into something that resembles nothing you would ever create. You find yourself feeling like a pixel-pushing order-taker rather than the gifted creative expert you are.
At worst, you’re left wondering if maybe you really do suck at your job, and at best you’re wondering how to get your clients to trust you. You become resentful and begin daydreaming about what it must be like to be an accountant for a living – work that isn’t quite so objective or personal....
I have an incredibly talented friend (and former Braid client) who makes a living as a professional photographer. We were recently hanging out and she was sharing her business insights and frustrations alike with me. This friend of mine is incredibly grateful for the clients she has, the reputation she’s building, and the work she is getting, but like any creative entrepreneur, there are seasons when she’s racking her brain to come up with new tactics and ideas to book her schedule solid with dream clients. Since chatting with my friend, I’ve been racking my brain thinking of ways she can get more clients too. So this post is for her (but I have a feeling it might help you too).
It’s easy enough to say “I want more clients,” which was what my friend was originally expressing in her frustrations, but that’s not an easily measurable goal. So I asked my friend over the course of our conversation to get more specific and she said, “I want to book 20 weddings this year.” Okay! Now we have a number to work with. 20 weddings a year = 5 per quarter.
1B. MAKE SPACE FOR YOUR GOALS
My favorite tool for making my goals visual is The Chalkboard Method. So I would advise my friend to create her own chalkboard pronto. (Seriously, it works.)...
Kathleen here wishing you a Happy New Year! I for one love a fresh start, and there is no better time than the new year to harness that kind of “DO OVER!” energy to build the business and brand you want. So today, I wanted to share a few ideas that will help you take your brand and business to the next level in the new year.
If there is one thing you can control in your business, it’s how you consistently show up. Here are a few ways you can be more consistent in the new year:
It sounds counter-intuitive to make accruing rejections a goal, I know. And to be completely honest, rejection is one of my personal fears, which keeps me from putting myself out there in a bigger way....
When we first launched Braid Creative, we spent a few months developing our brand, solidifying our positioning, and designing our website. We launched with a big hurrah and a bottle of bubbly. And then… crickets.
We needed clients, stat.
At the time, we were working with our executive coach, Jay Pryor, who held us accountable for doing things to help move our baby business forward. He helped us navigate feelings of uncertainty, but he also helped us get clear and practical when it came to growing our business. When we shared with him how freaked out we were that we didn’t have any clients he said this:
In order to get clients you have to make space for them.
Our coach put us “on the hook” for developing a system to visually track our clients. Jay promised that the universe abhors a vacuum and that we simply needed to make space—literally and metaphysically—for clients.
I had an entire wall in my home office painted with chalkboard paint at the time – and as daunting as it was to “make space” for clients I didn’t have yet, I drew 12 lines that I hoped would fill sooner than later. I remember sitting back down at my computer, which faced my chalkboard wall, a little freaked out about the constant, oversized reminder that we had NO work. But through a combination of a lot of hustle while launching our business and a little bit of magic (#hustlewoo), all 12 slots were filled by the end of the week....
Creating content is one of the best ways to position yourself as an expert, attract dream customers, and really become known for what you do best. But if you’re not doing it consistently or cohesively you could confuse your reader and potential customers. And if you’re not leveraging that content to its full extent, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.
It might surprise you to hear that if you have a content problem you have a branding problem—because your brand is the impression you leave and what makes you memorable, and your content is one of the best ways to define who you are and what you want to be known and hired for. In this article, I’m going to share a step-by-step on how to create an editorial calendar that supports your branding goals.
The most important thing you need to understand before you begin creating content is what you want to be known for. If you want to be known for your artistic hand-lettering, your content should support that expertise. If you want to be known for your methodical and strategic thinking, you should be sharing it in your content.
Try this: pretend as if you’re writing a book.
This is the exercise we use with our one-on-one clients and in our Braid Method Branding ECourse to help our students define what they really want to be known for.
The number one thing we hear over and over from our Braid Method clients, ECourse students, and newsletter subscribers is this:
I need to know how to get more clients.
We hear you. And honestly the question “how do I get more clients?” always makes us feel a little uneasy over here. Because the truth is this: there is no guaranteed formula, blueprint, or silver bullet that will get you more clients.
However… we do believe in attracting clients with confident positioning + compelling content. If you can position yourself as a trusted and relatable expert by consistently sharing your gifts of knowledge, and be able to articulate how it is you can help … well, you’ll have potential clients knocking down the door begging to work with you.
Can you imagine if your biggest problem wasn’t getting clients but having to say no and determining what to raise your prices to? That’s what we believe solid positioning and reliably good content does.
We offer exercises and a variety of scripts in our Braid Method ECourse that can help you with your positioning, but for now try this:...
Branding is not just a logo. Branding is not just consistent typography and colors. Branding is not just your brushed up mission statement. Branding is not just your website, your business card, or your email signature.
Branding can include all these things. But branding can also be so much more. That’s great news for your business, especially if you can create a brand that really captures your voice, your purpose, and what you want to be known and hired for.
The problem we face when we start to really see the whole picture our brand can paint for us is getting overwhelmed by the scope of it all.
We find ourselves asking:
“Do I already have a brand?”
“Do I need a better brand?”
“How much money, time, or energy do I really need to devote to my branding?”
“And once I do get my branding where it needs to be… how do I market myself?”
“Where does branding end and marketing to my dream clients begin?”
Branding can sometimes feel like a luxury, only reserved for the times when we have the mental energy, money, or even space on our to-do list to devote to a worthy (but not exactly a necessary?) investment for our business. Branding might not be at the top of our list when we’re trying to decide how we are going to spend our hard earned dollars. Do we invest back in our business or back in our savings account? Do we spend our time getting our brand looking beautiful and legit, or do we just put our head back down and get to work!?
Branding can sometimes feel like a big process and a lot to bite off. But positioning? Positioning is a muscle you can exercise every day. And positioning pays.
Kinda sounds like I’m making branding sound like a chore. But once you commit to updating your messages, your images, your identity – a new brand that really feels like you as a person and a professional can feel so energizing, clarifying, and confident-boosting!
And if you’re working with brand experts who really make you feel heard + guide you along the way, going through a branding process can actually be the most inspiring time you spend on your own business in a long long time! (Ahem, disclaimer that was blatant Braid self-promotion! But that doesn’t make it untrue!)...
I was recently talking shop with my friend and business mentor who is wicked smart and has her finger on the pulse when it comes to all things creative online business – and as we were chatting she confessed that she didn’t entirely understand where the branding process fit in when it comes to launching a new business. We started talking about the order of setting up shop and where branding fits in. I thought, if industry professionals like US were having this clarifying conversation, it might be helpful for those of you who don’t do this for a living to get an idea of what comes first and what you need next before moving forward in launching your creative business.
Whether you’re launching an online coaching business or opening a local bookstore, I’m going to be sharing the sequence I use when launching a creative business from the ground up and hopefully clarify a few questions you might have along the way.
If you like this post and want to hear more, I’ll include links along the way with additional articles and podcast episodes that dig a little deeper. You might start by listening to this bite-sized podcast “minisode” on Being Boss: Setting Up Shop 101.
When you’re starting a business, the first thing you want to clarify is how you make money. What service, knowledge, skill, or product will you exchange for money? In other words, you need a business plan—and it doesn’t have to be fancy! Here’s a quick fill-in-the-blank model:...
Kathleen here. I was recently checking out my Google Analytics and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to learn that aside from our home page, the most visited page on our website is our “about” page.
After all, your “about me” page is the first place people go to get a glimpse of who you are, what your expertise is, and if they’re in the right place to find what they’re looking for. Your about page sets the tone for what the reader can expect if they continue to read your blog, sign up for your newsletter, or even hire you.
Your “about me” page sets the tone for your entire brand.
With that in mind, open a new tab and go take a look at your “about me” page with fresh eyes. Are you saying what you mean? If you were to read it out loud does it sound like you? Are you leaving the first impression you want to make? Is it memorable?
If you think your “about me” page could use an update or refresh, we’ve got a few ideas for you. These are the things we keep in mind as we’re writing brand stories for our own clients or coaching them through the content they should include on their own “about me” page.
Our favorite trick for writing an “about me” page is to pretend as if you’re writing a letter from the editor....