Tara here. We all grew up with catchy slogans – “just do it,” “got milk?” or “a diamond is forever.” They’ve been etched in our brains because of how consistently they’ve been used – and all the ways and means these big-budget brands have impressed them upon us.
But even without big budgets, trending one-liners and themes are still impressing and influencing us and our peers in the realm of the creative entrepreneur, now more than ever – from hashtags that catch on like wildfire, to pinnable quotes that strike an irresistible chord.
A themeline may even start with you – a product you’re launching, a movement you’re championing. But those are ideas, products, events and rallying cries that come and go with the flow, they don’t describe what you do as a personal brand and a business.
Of course you should keep creating those ideas, those products, those launches and those themes in time with the seasons, in time with what’s happening in the world, and most importantly, in time with your own bursts of inspiration.
But! When it comes to that single line that describes what you do (that doesn’t change over time!) – you don’t need a catchy, clever, cute or even a razor-sharp cut-through-the-clutter slogan that’s going to make you popular, memorable or hirable. You need a tagline.
A tagline (I sometimes simply call it a descriptor line) should be a useful companion to your brand name and logo, that does a little of the explaining for you.
A few weeks ago I wrote How To Decide On Your Business Name and promised a follow-up on how to write your tagline to go with it. So before you think of it as a hashtag or a pinnable quote, as a shoe box slogan or a one-liner delivered by Morgan Freeman at the end of an emotionally stirring commercial – think of your tagline in brand places like your website masthead, a sign-off to your newsletters or posts, or in your social media profile.
Think of your tagline as the biggest clue, in the smallest amount of words, into what you do and how people can buy or hire you.
A short and sweet tagline (or descriptor line) for your business should:
a. show what your business does in an instant; and/or
b. round out what your business name alone isn’t telling people
Creating A Say-What-You Mean Descriptor Line vs. a Catchy One:
Here are a few different fill-in-the-blank formulas you might try:
1. The “I Do This for Them” Version
Your Business Name (could be your name, of course) followed by:
floral design for events
But what if she had a shop and did events? I’d do the one- two- three- punch:
2. The “Short-Short Laundry List” Version
florist | design | special events
But what if her name was her name? But she loved the idea of a “green goddess,” perhaps that’s even her logo mark design?
3. The “Make Your Name Still Sound Like a Business” Version
In this case I might suggest a short descriptor line you use with your logo sometimes, but a “rallying cry” that feels like your personal motto that you pepper in when you have the space, or the right context to do so:
floral design & events
“for the green goddess in all of us!”
4. No matter which version you use, go back and pepper in Purpose & Personality
Okay, so these are feeling pretty straightforward. And very concise. They almost feel like a “duh” moment, like “of course that’s the description for what I do.” But where’s the creativity? Well, a little goes a long way. You don’t want to turn your breadcrumb into a full-on bagel! But here are some simple ways you might infuse a little more of “you” into what you do in a line as short as your tagline:
For example (and this is my favorite of all the “imaginary” Green Goddess combos):
natural floral design for wildly gorgeous events
Note the “natural” descriptor. That’s stating some purpose. Perhaps she only uses local plants or more natural-feeling designs (no tight rose-only bouquets).
Note the “wildly gorgeous” that’s infusing some personality. Perhaps she’s a total stylista, completely influenced by fashion and design in all her floral designs.
Caution! Don’t use words you don’t really use. If our Green Goddess was a shy wallflower, vs. this loud and fabulous floral designer. Then you might tone down the flair, but keep the “natural” intent.
Having trouble writing this deceptively short and simple line? Or simply picking the one that “feels right?”
Now, I recognize that not all of you do work that’s as straightforward as floral design. Many of you do a hybrid of services, or are still in transition, trying to figure it all out and how it fits together. So, yes, even though your tagline shouldn’t change as much as your hashtags do, you should give yourself permission to evolve or update it every three to six months. We’ve updated ours (branding & business visioning for creative entrepreneurs) at least once or twice since we’ve launched. Just knowing it’s not totally set in stone can free up the writer’s block!
But if you’re still struggling, here are some tips:
Give yourself wiggle room to warm up.
A great way to warm up is to give yourself a longer word count. See if you can sum up what you do, and who you do it for (with a dash of your personality, using your own words, because you are not a robot!) in a couple short paragraphs. Then whittle down from there.
Get methodical and categorize your words.
You can also try this method: listing single words in category columns. Pick a category for each column and write it at the top of the page, for example a.) the kind of service or product I provide, b.) my specialty, flair, unique approach or signature style, c.) who I create this service or product for. Then list different words that pop up within their column. Then narrow down to your favorites in each column. Start pairing them up with each other. This could end up being a three word descriptor line, or a single statement that merges the three ideas.
Give yourself some context, and “try on” your tagline alongside your business name.
I also find it really helps to write or say your business name before you “try on” the tagline. So don’t just start listing the taglines that you’re deciding between in a row. Pair each one of them with your name first. Then read them out loud. Imagine them on your website masthead with your logo. Imagine them on your business card.
Or try starting an introduction using your favorite one. “Hi, I’m Tara and my business Braid Creative is _____ [ tagline here ] ____. What I mean by that is…” and there you go, the conversation has begun. And it just started with one line, that simply described what you do.
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! 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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There has been lots of talk about money around here lately. First off, Tara and I recently worked with a business coach who forced us to take a look at our streams of revenues, our expenses, our income and basically crunch the numbers. We’ve also been talking to our own clients and mastermind groups about packaging their creative process in ways that people know how to buy, as well as pricing their products and services appropriately based on how much money they want to make against how many hours they want to be working a week. It’s all simple math, really - so why does a numbers game feel like such an emotional tug-of-war?
Because for us creatives it’s not just about making money. It’s about living the dream, designing portfolio-worthy work, and working with dream customers who really care about what we’re doing for them. And let's face it, money is an easy and standard way to measure success. So if we’re not making very much of it we feel bad. But if we’re making lots of money but are working with mean and disrespectful clients we feel even worse (and a bit like hookers).
So, today I want to give you more details on the single most powerful tool we use to not only track our income but also to attract our dream customer - the chalkboard wall.
When Tara and I first started Braid Creative we worked with our life coach, Jay Pryor, to help us cope with the transition of a stable day job to the uncertainty of self-employment. After three months and zero clients we started feeling a little anxiety around this so-called dream job we had created for ourselves. Jay told us that the universe abhors a vacuum and that we simply needed to create a vacuum. "Now do what?" I asked as I started to visualize deconstructing my Roomba to somehow magically manifest a paycheck. He explained that we needed to create space for our clients - that if we build it, they will come. Jay also instructed us to create a mantra to manifest not just cash, but the kind of dreamy clients that make your job well ... a dream.
So as instructed, I created space for these potential clients by drawing 10 big empty spaces on the chalkboard wall I had painted in my home office. It was nothing less than terrifying. Then Tara drew a magnet with a cupid’s arrow through it to represent our mantra which was: “We are attracting dream customers with cash.” Jay also instructed us to create space for “unexpected extra” - that way we weren’t constrained by our own self-limiting goals.
A week later all 10 spots on our chalkboard were filled. A week after that the “unexpected extra” spaces were filled with fun projects too. Now, it sounds a little Law of Attraction woo-woo. And while I’d like to believe there was some universal magic at play, I think what the chalkboard system really did was guide our conscious minds into action around what was possible. Tracking our progress was also a huge confidence boost. And now, it’s become an almost superstitious act of faith.
To this day we still use our chalkboard every fiscal quarter to not just track our 1:1 dream customer engagements but also to track and manifest personal goals, projects, social media stats, and ECourse enrollments. And every quarter it feels just as scary as the first time to create all those new blank spots - but every time we manage to fill them. Oh, and we still have our good luck magnet and we still create space for those unexpected extras. We also recommend each and every one of our clients use this method for tracking and attracting - like us they're scared and resistant at first, but without fail we always get bewildered and excited emails that it actually works. So go forth, make a chalkboard wall!
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We get more specific about how we currently track what we attract in our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching - which will be in-session again in mid-September. But for now, you have through tomorrow, Thursday July 18th, to register for our popular Braid ECourse for creative entrepreneurs Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. We promise you’ll come away from it with new ideas for working with your ideal client without becoming an order-taking pixel pushing hooker. Register and learn more about that Braid ECourse here. Use the code JULY2013SHAPEUP50 to take this $75 ECourse for $50.
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Need even more help around getting right with money? Check out the new book The Declaration of You by Jessica Swift & Michelle Ward. The Declaration of You, gives readers all the permission they've craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You's BlogLovin' Tour, which I'm thrilled to participate in alongside over 200 other creative bloggers. Learn more -- and join us! -- by clicking here.
This book isn’t your typical dry & stuffy business book. You can tell it’s written by witty ladies who are wicked smart but with a sense of humor. The whimsy design and fun exercises will appeal to your inner 12-year-old in the best way possible. I especially loved the interviews with real creative entrepreneurs - they’ll make you feel less alone in your own struggles and insecurities around topics like money, self-care, and success.
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(If you’re reading this post through an RSS feed or email be sure to click through to watch the video.)
You guys may already know that we’re huge fans of Instagram. But lately we’ve found ourselves recommending it more and more to our creative entrepreneur clients. Instagram is an awesome way to visually connect with your friends, network with potential dream customers or brand advocates, and “show your tell”. But it’s also a great way capture, shape, and share who you are, and what you do – in a consistent, curated, behind-the-scenes of your life and work kind of way.
Instagram is great for creatives like life coaches and consultants who aren’t necessarily photographers or designers, but still want to show of their goods, and their personal brand in a visual way, and look good doing it.
So this is how I, myself, and Braid’s creative entrepreneur clients, are using Instagram to capture, shape and share their business and personal brand. Now “capture, shape and share” is a three step approach I talk about a lot, especially when it comes to my blogging strategy (for both my personal blog and the Braid blog.) But really, you can just as easily overlay those three principles to a platform like Instagram – like a microblog approach I mention below (but with less writer’s block).
• Capture the Details: Instagram gets me thinking about capturing the small brand experiences I encounter – from a hand stamped placemat in my favorite restaurant to the way a lemon rind and oversized ice cube sits in my whiskey.
• Capture Inspiration: Instagram is a great tool for visual note taking on the fly. For example, I’ve used Instagram to scout locations and capture test shots for brand videos.
• Capture the Process: Instagram is an awesome way to share the behind-the-scenes process and tools you use to create for your clients.
• Shape the Image: One of the things I love about Instagram is the ability to actually shape the final photograph with different filters (though, I prefer “rise”) and tilt-shift blur options. I also like to go in and add typographic overlays or multiply color over my images in Photoshop when taking my Instagram photos to my blog. But even if you’re not a graphic designer, filtering your images through Instagram is a great way to create consistency with the images you’re sharing.
• Shape your Point-of-View: Go through your entire collection of Instagram snaps and start to find patterns. What colors do you capture a lot? What subjects? Do you consistently shoot from a certain angle or point-of-view? You’ll notice that the Instagram with the most followers (like one of my favorites, A Merry Mishap) have a consistent point-of-view.
• Shape the Story: You can include a description with your Instagram images and treat it almost like a daily microblog. I often use Instagram to capture images I will later craft an in-depth blog post around later.
• Share on Instagram: One of the things I like about Instagram (vs. other camera apps like Hipstamatic – which are awesome for photo editing, as well) is the built in community designed for sharing. Just like Twitter you can explore hashtagged topics – one of my favorites is #WHP. #WHP stands for “Weekend Hashtag Project” where Instagram challenges users to capture a topic or theme like “birds on a wire” or “from where I stand” and tag it. It’s so cool to see what everyone else comes up with. Check out Instagram’s blog or follow @Instagram for interesting users and hashtags to follow and participate in.
• Share Elsewhere: You can also send your Instagram photos out to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr as you post them to your Instagram feed. This is a great way to flood all your social media platforms with beautiful, and consistent, images that share you and your brand. Different audiences may be following you in different places but you can add more information or tidbits to avoid becoming redundant if you find you have the same followers across your social media platforms.
• Share in Real Life: One of my favorite new companies, Artifact Uprising, is designed to easily get your photos m your phone to print books and calendars. You can also use Pinstagr.am for miniprints, posters, and stickers. You can decorate your office or use these prints as self-promotional materials to send to your favorite dream customers.
Are you using Instagram to capture, shape, and share your business and personal brand? Let us know your Instagram tips, advice, or insights on our Facebook page. P.S. You can follow my Instagram account here.
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Our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do is open for registration until February 14th. This $75 ECourse has 3 lessons loaded with tips, advice and our philosophy on defining your personal brand, thriving in the overlap between personal and professional, and sharing that brand online and off. All of that content, including worksheets and videos, will be available to you while the course is in-session from Feb. 15th - 24th. Register and find out more here.
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