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???)
You guys, it wasn’t until early last year that I knew what a “content upgrade” was. Just recently I learned the importance of an auto-drip sequence for your email list. I was running a profitable and successful business long before I knew what a sales funnel was or even had an email list. There are a lot of people trying to scare you into buying their thing in order for you to be successful, but if you learn one thing today it is this: you don’t have to know it all to be successful.
Before you read another book or buy another course ask yourself “What is it that I want to learn?” So for example, let’s say I pick up the most recent Seth Godin book, before I crack the spine I might say something like: “I’m hoping to learn just one technique for growing my list.” or “I want to get more comfortable selling myself.” That way when I’m reading through the content, I’m focused on acquiring knowledge that will support my intention, rather than getting distracted or overwhelmed by all the content.
And how are you going to act on it? Any time I go to a conference or read a new book, I reflect on the one thing that really stood out and I act on just that one thing. For example, early last year I was at a small mastermind retreat in Mexico with a few creative entrepreneurs. I learned a lot of things, but the one thing that stood out most was that I should be adding content upgrades to my most trafficked blog posts in order to grow my list. I came home, looked at my metrics, designed some worksheets, and asked my assistant to help me with the technical side of adding opt-ins to those posts. Since then my list has grown by 2,000 people.
The final thing I want to leave you with is that you don’t have to be an expert in the idea you’re implementing before you try it out. But it’s not enough to hoard knowledge without ever acting on it. So… what’s one thing you want to learn? What’s one thing you learned recently that you can implement that you haven’t acted on yet?
P.S. Lately, we’ve been telling our ECourse students that if they just tackle ONE lesson and learn ONE thing they’re going to get the most bang for their buck in Lesson 3: Your Creative Expertise and in Lesson 5: Shaping Your Brand Messages. Okay, that’s two lessons. But truly, if you JUST did those two lessons you’re going to learn a lot you can immediately act on to attract more dream clients.
Our Braid Method Branding ECourse has 7 modules, a workbook filled with branding exercises, audio tracks (so you can learn on the go), and a live quarterly masterclass where we dig in and answer any questions you might have. This course is DIY at-your-own-pace. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
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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.
Sound familiar? I know, me too. I spent the first eight years of my career as a graphic designer battling feedback that was anything less than glowing. But I’ve learned a few things along the way – and I’d like to share those coping skills with you today. I’m writing this post from my perspective as a graphic designer, but I think it could apply to any visual creative field.
It’s really easy to rush to judgments at first glance. You’ll only pick up the very worst parts of what’s being said and come to quick conclusions when your feelings are hurt. So when you receive feedback from a client, be sure to read it at least three times before you start freaking out. If a client is giving you feedback in person, write down, word-for-word, what they’re saying (it’s easy to forget what was said when emotions take over).
Actively listen to your client. What is it they’re actually saying? What are their biggest concerns? Which part of the work, specifically, is and is not resonating with them? Why?
Remember, you and your client are both on the same side with the same goals. Get on the phone or face-to-face – reiterate the original objectives of the project, your client’s original input, and explain your creative rationale (without getting defensive). Your client is probably as flustered as you are – they may be feeling a range of emotions as well! What you want in this situation is to remain calm, transparent, and open. Sometimes, going through rough patches with a client (and acting like a kind pro in the process) will only help them trust you even more through the next round of revisions!
Sometimes criticism can feel HUGE when in fact, you just need to make a small shift. For example, one time I presented a branding project and the client said it just didn’t feel right. At first glance, I thought my client was asking for something COMPLETELY different than what I had designed. But after a little bit of conversation, I realized my client wasn’t jiving with just a few aspects of what I had created. With a slight color-shift and a minor typography change, the brand was still on-point, not that different from my original concept, and made all the difference to my client.
You can even use this tactic to reassure your client that you guys are on the right track. You can say something like: “Okay, after chatting I think we’re still on the right track, and with just a few adjustments, we can easily have a design that both of us feel really good about.”
Pretend like you’re in couples therapy with your client – repeat the requested feedback, verbatim, to them. Then share your concerns, insights, and recommendations and plan of attack so everyone gets what they want.
An actual conversation might look like this: “I’m hearing you say that the typography isn’t ‘clean’ enough and you’re looking for something that feels ‘modern’ and ‘sleek’. My suggestion is that we update the expressive typography to something classic, and maybe tone down the accent colors you originally wanted to something a little more neutral, like a metallic, so that it still has a little edge. Is it cool if I try that approach? Keeping in mind your desire for something clean, modern, and sleek, while I make those tweaks?”
Your client doesn’t speak the same language you do. Their feedback may read a little harsh only because they don’t have the words to describe what they like and don’t like about the work (which has to be frustrating for them too!). If your work is visual, one of the best things you can do to get back on track is moodboard out an updated design (textures, typography, color palettes, photography, logos, themes, etc.) and ask them specifically which examples they like and ask what they like about it. As you begin to see what they’re gravitating toward, give them language to describe what they like and don’t like.
You might even say something like: “I’m noticing that all the examples you’re pointing out have organic textures paired with black hand-drawn lettering. And while you like hot pink, it appears that most of the brands you like use accent colors in their photography more than the actual brand identity.”
Remember, at the end of the day if you can maintain control over your own emotions, assume the best, act with intention, humanize your motives and your client’s feedback, and strive for a positive outcome everyone is enthusiastic about ... then you are truly doing the best you can.
If you found this helpful for dealing with client reject, but you're also wondering how to get more clients in the first place, you're in luck! We held a FREE webinar on Friday, January 27th where we shared three simple things you can do to attract more dream clients (without feeling icky). Sign up to watch the webinar replay here.
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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.
You can download the worksheet that will help you outline your book title, chapters, and topics. Your book title is your expertise. Your chapters and topics are the content you will write, speak, or share—every single time you hit “publish.” The content boundaries you create with your “book” will give your content (and brand) so much focus.
Once you determine the kind of content that will help your readers, listeners, and viewers understand what you’re all about and begin to trust your expertise, you need to pick your sharing platforms. I want you to consider your PRIMARY sharing platform and the SUPPORT platforms.
Whether you’re writing, designing, speaking, filming, or streaming, your primary sharing platform should be where you put the most effort into your content.
Your support platforms are other places your content may show up—but the trick is you always want your support content to point back to the primary platform.
Here is a list of just a few sharing platforms to consider—these can and will change as your brand and technology trends evolve! That’s okay. Choose ONE as your primary sharing platform and a FEW for your support platforms.
Here’s an example of how your sharing platforms might work:
PRIMARY PLATFORM: Blog
SUPPORT PLATFORMS: Newsletter, Facebook Live (streaming video), Twitter, Instagram
Let’s say you post once a week—your most impactful and generous knowledge—to a blog.
As you can see in this example, all the support platforms always point back to the primary content you created. Your primary platform could also be a social media platform like Instagram, for example. In that instance, your support platforms always direct your audience to follow you on Instagram. I’m always being asked for my opinion on the best “primary” platforms, and my best recommendation is that it is a “place” you have control of (like your own website or newsletter) and something you enjoy creating—whether that be video, writing, podcasting, or simply sharing impactful images.
Now you know what kind of content you want to share, the platforms you want to share it on, and the frequency with which you’re sharing, it’s time to systemize your content creation! My favorite way to do this is to open a calendar—digital or physical are both great. I like to get nerdy with it and color code my sharing platforms. So for example, I might highlight every Tuesday yellow indicating a blog post. Then I might fill in my support tweets in blue and my Instagram posts in pink.
Sometimes I’ll build flexibility into my editorial calendar by simply knowing I need to publish a blog post or send out a newsletter on a certain day OR I’ll begin filling in my content calendar with specific topics I want to share. I also like to take into account program launches, seasonal themes, or special promotions I want to include in my schedule and wrap my content around those in a way that feels cohesive.
I want to tell you that there is no wrong way to create an editorial calendar, and you might try out a few different platforms and sharing frequencies until you find something that works for you. Now get to creating and sharing!
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