Last week a discouraged creative entrepreneur told me that she feels like everyone is doing the same thing. Why bother when there are a million talented creatives already out there?
On days when I’m feeling particularly optimistic I think we’re just lucky to be alive – that our one in a bajillion chance of even being here is our greatest accomplishment and anything else we can make or create is gravy on top. But on days when I’m feeling insecure or discouraged I know exactly how that creative I was talking to last week feels. Why bother?
For example, a couple years ago when I uncovered that I was not just passionate about branding but also coaching other creatives to live what they love, I felt like everyone and their dog was becoming a life coach. I asked myself “How many professional cheerleaders does the world need? “Who’s going to actually do the work and live the dream if everyone is just cheering from the sidelines?”
And then when I decided to launch an ECourse I felt like everyone else was already crushing it with their six-figure B-School online offering. When I fall into a comparison trap it feels like quicksand and I don’t have the energy to hustle - like Atreyu’s horse dying in the Swamp of Sadness in The Neverending Story.
YOU’RE NOT A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE
I’m pretty sure that discouraged designer wanted me to tell her the same thing I want to hear when I’m feeling blah about what I do and begin comparing myself to everyone else. What I want to hear is that I’m a unique snowflakes and only I possess the talent to do what I do. I want to believe it, but I just can’t buy it. Because the fact is, there are lots of other people who are successful doing what I do. But what I DO know to be true is that there is enough room for everyone to be great.
If you don’t feel like a special snowflake either, but do want to get out of your comparison trap all you have to do is change your mind. Here are some things that might help shift your perspective:
WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER BE DOING?
The creative entrepreneur I was talking to is a designer who loves design. It turns out she wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. That realization alone helped her get out of her comparison funk because there was really no alternative. But for others this question may reveal that your path needs to take a bend. When you’re doing what you really want to be doing, it doesn’t matter who else is doing it – or even doing it better.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE MARKET BUT DON’T GET SUCKED IN TO IT
It’s actually a good thing when other people are doing what you’re doing – it means there is a demand for your services. Let’s say you want to be holistic chef for a living – you get some training, you launch a website, and you start sharing your recipes. Then maybe you start following some other holistic chefs on Instagram and sign up for their newsletters. Before you know it you’re bombarded with other chefs’ work and BAM! You fall into the comparison trap. It’s easy to feel like EVERYONE is doing what you’re doing when you follow everyone else that does what you do. My advice is to be aware of the market but maybe pick just one or two of your favorites to follow.
GIVE THE PEOPLE YOU’RE JEALOUS OF A HIGH FIVE
Nothing gets me out of my comparison trap like giving the people I’m sizing myself up against kudos for doing such a damn good job. But even if the compliment isn’t reciprocated that’s okay too. It’s more about me recognizing that other people can do great work and it doesn’t detract from what I’m doing. You can give someone you’re jealous of a “high-five” by giving them a shout-out on your blog, telling them how much you like them on Instagram, or even purchasing one of their products.
TIME IS GOING TO PASS ANYWAY – YOU MIGHT AS WELL MAKE SOMETHING
I mean… let’s say you give up and decide not to be a creative entrepreneur anymore because too many other people already have it covered. Then what? Every time I think about “quitting my job” I imagine hiding under a rock for about 36 hours, brainstorming something I could make, design, create, launch, and ship while I’m under that rock, then crawling out from under my rock so I can get back to work. (This also goes back to asking yourself what you’d rather be doing – the answer to that question will always come to the surface when you’re hiding under a rock).
WHAT IF BEYONCÉ THOUGHT “WHY BOTHER?”
I mean … c’mon. What if Beyoncé was all “Well, I mean… Tina Turner, Britney, Lady Gaga, Pink, and Madonna already have it covered. Why bother?” Enough said.
GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND DO THE WORK
Finally, if you’re busy doing the work, honing your craft, and making something you’re proud of, you won’t have time to compare yourself to everyone else. Get back to your hands. Put pen to paper. Or mouse to screen. Get into your creative process – go, make, do!
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Okay, so while I don’t believe the work we do makes us unique snowflakes, I do think who we are is pretty damn special. And I know that when we show up as ourselves 100% of the time, we attract the dreamiest of clients – the ones who believe we’re the only ones who can really help them and “get” them. That’s what personal branding is all about – being who you are in business. Because the blend of you the person + what you do, isn’t something anyone else can do the same.
Our Personal Branding ECourse will be in-session for the last time ever from May 22-31. You have until Thursday, May 21st to register. (And if you haven’t signed up for our newsletter yet you get a $25 discount to our ECourse when you do.) Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
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You may think you need to get all your ducks in a row—a perfect business vision, business model, business brand, personal brand… all neatly lined up and packaged up, before you start sharing content with anyone else.
So you hesitate to launch until you know every single detail is perfectly in place (and every person who sees it will love it).
You shy away from telling people what you really do in conversations until you’ve proven you’re a success at it (and that means proving it to yourself first, which can be the most difficult person to please of all).
You circle around a blog post or an email you want to send for days, until you muster the courage to put something that’s a little more personal than professional out into the world.
Or vice versa, you backpedal from writing about your business dream versus the typical weekend highlights that your friends and family have come to expect from fun-loving, weekend-loving (but surely not business-loving!) you.
You’re waiting. You’re waiting for your business, or your dream, or your brand, to match what it is you want to say now. But they’ll never catch up with your head and heart. So just say it. (Tweet this)
Whatever the content is—you’re waiting to hit send, publish, or even say it out loud—the point is, you’re waiting. You’re waiting for your business or your dream or your brand to match what it is you want to say now. And here’s the thing—they’ll never catch up. Your head and heart and all it wants to say are always going to be two steps ahead of the business or brand or dream you’ve already been able to create. So just say it.
Say it if it’s not perfect, write it if it’s not 100% fully-formed, share it if it’s still just sharing the journey along the way. Because if those first rocket-fast years of working for ourselves taught us anything, it’s that your content shapes your what you do, not the other way around.
If we sound passionate here, it’s because when we started Braid we were saying all the things our past experiences had taught us were true, but we were also saying a lot of the things that we wanted our business to become. We said we were “for the creatives!” when half our clients were simply small businesses and the other half were the creative entrepreneurs. Today we’re 100% creative entrepreneurs. We used personal branding as just one aspect of the kind of branding we do. But we talked about personal branding in practically every post or email we wrote. Today we consider almost every branding project we do – personal branding.
The spark for this post, for the words we’re sharing with you now is our Braid ECourse this month, Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How To Buy You. If there was one revelation that’s come from this ecourse, now in it’s third year, it’s come from the “Braiders” who have taken the course and haven’t been shy to share their comments. They ask us tough questions as they carve their messages, because they take this course seriously. Because they get it. What they say about their business now is really what they are saying about their future vision – and themselves. It’s where they want to go next. What they want to be doing.
So yeah, this is an ecourse about sorting your ideas and writing content that says what you want it to say about your personal brand, about your business—but it’s also about shaping what you want that business to become.
What you’re saying about your business now, is really what you’re saying about your vision. It’s where you want to go next. (tweet this)
The next time you introduce yourself, instead of diminishing what you do, say what you do plus that dash of what you are just starting to to do but still don’t have completely figured out. So if you’re a designer who is really starting to transition into brand consulting. Say “I’m a designer, but my specialty is branding.” If you’re a lifestyle coach who is really wanting to focus in on eating issues or concerns, start writing most of your posts (be it your blog or simply your Instagram) about changing our relationship with food.
To quote the work of Florence Scovel Shinn (you know it, but it’s an oldie and a goodie), “your word is your wand.” What you say, what you write, what you choose to talk about is what you put out into the world – and lookie there, it’s what comes right back at ya.
If you’re looking for brand guidance around sharing your content check out our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. It will be in-session from April 16-26 (yes, that's TOMORROW)! Learn more and sign-up here.
If you’re dealing with creative fear, need help with time management, or simply need a boost of inner-confidence when it comes to showing up and being seen you might like the DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. You can sign up anytime! It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content delivered straight to your inbox – plus, it’s a great way to invest in yourself at the beginning of a new year.
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Today I want to share just a few tips on how to embrace your personal brand in business but first – our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are with What You Do is in-session starting this Friday. It's by far our most popular ECourse and has already been taken by hundreds of creatives, aspiring entrepreneurs, and bloggers. Learn more and see if it's a good time to take it here.
As the phrase "personal branding" continues to catch more mainstream buzz I'm finding creatives become even more confused and intimidated by the whole topic. "What is a personal brand? What's MY personal brand? Oh my God, WHO AM I?" It turns out stressing out about your personal brand looks a lot like having a quarter-life crisis. So today I'm going to uncomplicate it and break it down with just a few tips for you.
Personal branding is simply being yourself.
It's about being brave enough to be enthusiastic about what you like and sharing that with not only your friends but your coworkers and clients too. That may look like wearing what you want even when you're "on the clock". It might look like asking your clients to indulge in a quick 2-minute meditation with you. Or it could even look like being transparent about the things you don't know or can't do. Just be yourself 100% of the time and you'll see it pay off in both your bank account and in your soul.
Personal branding is ditching the "we" speak.
If you're a solopreneur you might be hiding behind the "we" on your blog, your website, and in your newsletters. Your intentions may be good – you say "we" because you have an amazing and supportive partner behind-the-scenes, or maybe you have big vision of expanding your team one day. Perhaps you're saying "we" because you want your client to feel confident in your services by pretending that you aren't doing it all by yourself. But here's the deal: it's cool that you are talented and confident enough to have launched your own thing. Own that. That means trading out "we" for "I". Try it on for size. I think you'll like how it feels. (And if you do say "we" specify who the other person is – otherwise you might sound like you have multiple personalities.)
Personal branding is the stories you tell.
From your big adventures to small weekend anecdotes your personal brand is about the stories you tell on Monday morning at the coffee shop and the stories you tell on Thursday nights over cocktails. It's the stories you share online – from detailed blog posts to an Instagram snap. What stories do you want to be known for?
In closing I'd like to point out that the difference between simply being a person (a really interesting, rad, and creative person) and having a personal brand is understanding that sharing who you are with your clients, colleagues, and potential customers can be financially lucrative. It's accepting that you might not be for everyone – some people may be scared or intimidated by your ability to live with authenticity and a whole heart all the time – and that's okay. Because in return, by embracing and sharing who you are online and off, you'll be attracting your true tribe.
Want more? Sign up for our Letters for Creatives where I'll be sharing how becoming a mom has impacted my own personal brand.
Our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do is the next to be in session! This ECourse is by far our most popular and shares a lot more when it comes to being who you are on your blog – both professionally and personally. It will be in-session from May 16-25th. Learn more and register here.
Or check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives email series. It’s insight delivered straight to your inbox over the course of 4 weeks.
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