Let me guess. You’re the creative type with lots of ideas. So many ideas! TONS of ideas! And while that should feel like a blessing it often feels like a curse that has you either A) paralyzed or B) crying into your pillow because you can’t get focused, you feel scattered, and you don’t know where to start. You’re energetically sketching up a new business model every other day and lose steam when it comes to actually launching or following through on your ideas. Your head is spinning and you feel like there is something you should be doing – so you refresh Twitter and check your email for the 8th time in 3 minutes. You’re straight-up confused and diffused.
1. Confusion is what repels your customers, readers, and people who would become your customers if they weren’t confused by your content that’s still melting all over the place. It’s delicious and yummy and appealing but they can’t figure out how to pick it up (or if they should even try). This kind of confusion is why you want to “shape up your content” and is the main purpose of our Braid Ecourse of the fitting name, Shape Up Your Content. But, let’s talk about diffusion, which is more about the idea-focus (or lack of focus) behind your content.
2. Diffusion is what hurts you, the business owner. It’s even more dangerous than confusion. Diffusion is your outward-facing confusion’s, inner and ongoing root cause. You’re a grown up, and one who is brave enough and smart enough to start (or dream about starting) their own business. So I won’t say that too many ideas necessarily distract you. But they do diffuse your energy. Of course, you always want to be thinking ahead to the next idea for your financial success and personal happiness.
But we want you to either:
a.) idea-generate behind the scenes and not let it influence the content you share today, which should be more singularly focused; or
b.) pick a more narrow path, even if just for a little while, and really let it drive your content as equally as your actions.
In reality, a balance of both of these ways of thinking about your business ideas, is the most practical approach.
Kathleen here. This excerpt above is from Lesson 1 of our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. And here is where I tell you to go register for the course (you have until Thursday!) to find out more on confusion and diffusion culprits and antidotes. But I don’t want to leave you hanging between now and then.
So if you’re feeling confused or diffused try the following content fixes and exercises for a quick shape up:
1. Tell people how to hire you. Look at your website – more specifically the sidebar, about me, and “how to hire me” page. Explicitly tell your tribe how they can hire you in these spaces. That means getting specific about your services, who you’re for, and how they can get ahold of you to learn more. Easy peasy. While you’re at it, check your social media profiles and make sure they’re up-to-date with what you want to be putting out there.
2. Use your own words and don’t be vague! Ditch the jargon and say what you mean. A lot of the creatives we work with like to stay vague thinking it leaves them sounding professional and open to paying jobs. But instead that just leaves a potential dream customer confused or unsure you’re the right fit for them. So, use the kinds of words you use in real life when explaining what you do to people who aren’t necessarily in your industry. I find that including examples helps. So if you do “branding for creatives” you might follow that up by saying “that means I not only design logos and websites but I help other creatives like photographers and designers tell their story with words and images that really reflect them and what they do.”
3. Know yourself. If
you’re still confused about what it is you want to be doing, or scared
you might alienate someone with money by being more explicit about what
you want to be doing, try these Braid brand exercises for creative
entrepreneurs – designed to help you get a little bit of clarity:
- Get specific about what you want to be doing
- If you had to write a book
- Imagine your business from the future
And of course, if you want to dig deeper into shaping up your content check out our Braid ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs called Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. This ECourse is $75 and will be in-session from this Friday, Oct. 18 - 27. You can learn more about this Braid ECourse and register here. You have until this Thursday to register!
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Tara here. First off, just want to let you know that our Braid ECourse, Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do, starts tomorrow. Deadline to register is today. This course isn’t coming around again until, oh, turkey-time, like November if you can imagine being that far into fall on this summer day.
Speaking of personal branding, Kathleen and I have consulted and created brand and business vision guides using our Braid Method for, oh, I’d say eight creative entrepreneurs this summer, so far. A yoga instructor/freelance designer from Washington D.C., a vintage sewing blogger/pattern designer from New York, a coach/writer/speaker from Seattle, and a Nashville-bound artist/musician consultant to name a few. Notice all the slashes?! That’s the work-slash-life, the passion-slash-profession of the creative entrepreneur. And that’s why, even though they hired us for the whole shebang, all of them really got into their personal brand and how to get it more defined-slash-blended into their business brand.
So let’s say you were to take a peek inside the pages of the personal branding section of these ladies’ Braid Method vision guides (yes, most of the creatives we work with are ladies, girls, gals, dames, not-typically-dudes, though we have been known to make exceptions if one of our creative macho-men is reading this post right now, you know who you are, own it.) You would see Personal Branding, right about smack dab in the middle of their thirty-something-page custom guide:
1. Your Business Vision
2. Your Dream Customer
3. Your Style Point-of-View
4. Your Personal Brand
5. The Content You Share
6. The Creative You Sell
7. Brand Look & Feel
8. To-Do’s For You
This is because no matter how clear and concise and “duh! of course that’s what I do” we get with their business vision, their dream customer and their unique stylistic approach, there comes a point where we gotta talk about the personal brand. Because in the world of the creative entrepreneur you’ve got to get cool with this idea that people aren’t attracted to you as a product or service alone. People buy from people.
Here’s a sneak peek of how we talk about personal branding in our Braid Method guide:
Your Personal Brand / Use The Personal Brand Section of Your Vision Guide To:
- blend the person with the business as the face of your brand (people want to buy from people!)
- get okay with talking about yourself (but decide what you will, and will not talk about... boundaries!)
- think of your personal style and stories in snapshots that you capture, shape and share with intent (do curate / don’t get “dear-diary” here)
- and decide which voice you want to tap into, when – when are you edgy? inspirational? helpful? down-to-biz? (think layered, not multiple personality)
Now the pages that follow this “how-to” introduction, are, well, personal to each creative. I could show you, but I’d have to kill ya, and all that jazz. But I can tell you that in just the past few weeks, we’ve had personal brands that tap into the coolest, most unexpected blends â€“ a mesmerizing nerdy girl, a rock-n-roll researcher, a mathematically-minded artist, and a designer who taps into the divine.
They have personal branding fears like:
“I don’t know if what I do is considered ‘cool’ to the people I want to work with.”
“It’s hard to describe what you do, especially when you’re discovering it as you go.”
“I want to be the cool girl. I want to be irresistible.”
They have personal branding revelations like:
“I’ve been hanging onto my business voice for so long, but it’s time for new words!”
“I thought my clients were drawn to me for my content. But half of them were drawn to me because I did something they only dreamed about doing!”
And what are some “to-do’s” Kathleen and I have given them?
- forget saying “we” or acting like a company
- get your voice and face up front
- get more visual when you share that content, use photos, use art
- think of every post as talking directly to someone who loves your personal brand
- pepper in ways to hire you, don’t forget people want to buy from people
- be the one who translates to others this idea or service that’s new to them, be the one to make it cool, make it accessible and make it irresistible
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What are some of your personal branding fears or recent revelations? Let us know on Facebook.
And just a final reminder today is the last day to sign up for this month’s $75 Personal Branding Braid Ecourse. It starts tomorrow, Friday August 16 and is in-session (available to take at your own pace) until August 25.
If you’d like to learn more about hiring Braid for creative mentor coaching, to help you create your brand and business vision, or to even develop your complete brand platform using our Braid Method we can do a little or a lot. Let us show you the ways, ha! Feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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I’d say four out five creative entrepreneurs we work with come to the realization that their dream customer is really not that different than themselves. They are cut from the same cloth – they like the same brands, they seek the same adventures, want the same feeling from life and work as you do. And sometimes their work is very similar to yours. That can be worrisome, because then you start to think “wait, what am I bringing to the table if my ideal client can basically do this for themselves for free?” Or what you do is so in the vein of their work/life, that they are surrounded by peers or friends (who they already know). You might ask “why would they pay for this creative service from me?”
Then there’s that one creative entrepreneur we work with that comes to a big revelation: their dream customer is actually the complete opposite of them. And they like it that way. Their dream engagement is helping someone see the “other side.” But a problem for them is sharing content or knowledge that resonates enough with a dream customer to attract their attention and earn their trust – because the service they provide is coming from a completely opposite perspective.
So when your dream engagement is with a client “just like you,” how do you sell what you bring to the table? On the flip-side, when your client is your opposite, how do you share your appreciation for where they’re coming from?
Your client is cut from the same cloth. So what are you selling them?
Let’s say you are a graphic designer who literally wants to work for other graphic designers. That might be almost too close (but not as weird as you might think). But let’s step back a degree. Let’s say you are a web developer who specifically designs websites for designers. Here are some reminders to keep your confidence up and your expertise front-and-center when you’re putting your services out there for “your people” to buy:
Tell Yourself: Just because what they do, or the people they work around, or the other experts they follow, or the blogs they read – are very similar (or exactly the same as what you do) that doesn’t mean that they are at the same stage of insight or experience as you. Don’t count yourself out and say “oh wait, but of course they are already getting this, I mean, look at them, they’re awesome and creative!” We ourselves have done this many, many times when we start working with an amazing creative entrepreneur (or are having discussions around if we’re a good fit). It’s a bad habit to make assumptions and bow out too early, and we almost always find out we are wrong. Recognize that this person who’s interested in hiring you may simply be at a time of growth where they need you to give them something they don’t have – you just can’t see it from the outside yet, because all you see are each other’s similarities.
Tell Them: “Tell” them is the key here, don’t sell them. You know what you offer, tell them the steps you take to get there. Try explaining, logically, calmly, and don’t skip over stuff you think they already know, because you fear talking down to them. Everyone appreciates knowing what they are going to get in simple terms even if you come from the same industry, have the same style or even technically do the same thing.
Your personalities are polar opposites. How do you share that you “get them?”
We recently worked through a business vision and brand platform with an executive/life coach, and really honed in together on the fact that she wants to work with more rebellious creatives and executives who need help with their empathy and collaboration skills. She herself is a very calm, ego-in-check and rational person. Up until now she’s been primarily attracting clients who were very verbal communicators, over-rationalizers, and needed help working through their indecisiveness.
But she wants to attract more of the opposite. She wants to help the ones who are decisive-to-a-fault, cutting off their nose despite their face to make a point, get their vision and get their way. She thrives being the salve to their rash behavior. But why should these “rebel visionaries” (a descriptor for her dream customer we arrived at together) think from visiting her website, following her blog or talking with her in a first meeting that she understands where they are coming from? How do you craft content and have business conversations that position you as a fit, and establish trust with a person you know is so different from you and what you have to offer?
Tell Yourself: I don’t need them to like me. I need to be seen as a likeable expert who shares gifts of knowledge, “I know what they are going through and from this vantage point over here on the outside looking in, I can tell they could really use X, Y, Z.” But beware of coming off as judgy. They have a need, that doesn’t mean they are wrong and you are right. You just might have some answers they’ve never thought of before. Or, maybe they were just looking in the wrong place, with other businesses that are too much like them – rather than an opposite like you.
Tell Them: You see their pain patterns, because even though you are not “just like” them, you work with dream customers like them all the time (or that’s what you’re gearing up to do). You don’t want to change them, you love them just the way they are (if that’s too woo-woo for you, just replace “love” with a more appropriate description). You might be the yin to their yang, or in the case of our executive-rebels coach, you are like a gauge that helps them dial-up or dial-down a particular behavior. Or if you are coming at it from a creative service, think of your style and approach as a different lens (creative writer for technical writers, a lifestyle blogger for product-based companies, a social media strategist for print-purist novelists). I’m not sure why all my examples were for opposite styles of writers, but you get my point.
What can those who attract their “likes,” learn from those attracting their opposites?
Sometimes we forget to be contrary, we so want to be liked. When in fact it can be a way to really cut through all the fluff and say something that has meaning. Take the other side. Play the devil’s advocate.
Don’t Forget: Whether or not your favorite people to work with are super-familiar-cozy kindred spirits, or fantastically-contrasty – know who you want to be spending your days helping and always ask: are these the kinds of clients I can have the most impact for? Can I really truly help them, and in turn, are they helping me build my own special expertise? Don’t let the wrong client distract your focus.
Is your dream customer pretty much like you? Or is the ideal client your opposite? Tell us on Facebook.
Here’s what we’re selling and sharing with you, our dream clients (who as creative entrepreneurs, fall pretty much on the “just like us” side of this dream customer question). Thursday, March 21st is your last day to register for our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embracing Your Expertise and Attract What You Track. This ECourse is designed specifically for creative entrepreneurs (and even those who are aspiring) who want to learn more about how to work with and sell themselves to people they like, people that pay, and the people they have the most impact for. We also give you some candid peeks into some methods we use to “attract what we track”, from financial to personal to professional. This is one of our very favorite ECourses that we offer – if you’ve taken our other ECourses you’ll definitely enjoy this one. If it’s your first, it’s a great place to start.
Here’s what some other Dream Customer Catching alums had to say about this ECourse:
“Your courses are amazing. They've helped me so much in focusing on who I am, what my talents/skills are and what I have to offer. It's helped build my confidence immensely - I know I am on the right path!” - Sandra Harris
“I learned that's it's OK, and even better, to say NO to clients that I don't want to take on. I put this into practice the other day when I received an inquiry from a bride looking for a designer/planner. I don't want to plan weddings, just make them cool and pretty, so I guided her to a colleague who would be perfect for her. At first I was terrified of giving up the money, but, it enabled me to keep that weekend open to hopefully be hired to decorate a wedding instead of plan one.” - Michelle Edgemont
“What I loved about these Braid ECourses was that taking them was like going to therapy! I loved how you girls made me see AND understand the influence, importance and power I have as a person over every aspect of my business.” - Andreina Oliva
Dream Customer Catching will be in-session this Friday, March 22nd to March 31st (that gives you two weekends to work through the content, worksheets, and videos). You can take this Braid ECourse for $75 by registering here.
If want to learn and hang out with more creative entrepreneurs like you, too – living and working in the overlap between their own business and their personal brand check out our May 4th, Braid Workshop: How To Share YOU and Sell What You DO. Earlybird registration is open until April 1st for $425.
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