Kathleen here. Being Boss is my podcast that I co-host with my creative colleague and good friend Emily Thompson. One day after recording we began playing around with the idea of going on vacation together. Then we got curious – what if we invited our listeners to come with us? We imagined maybe twenty or so “bosses” would want to take a vacation with us – when the sign-ups came rolling in we decided to cap what was now turning into a full blown event at seventy-five attendees.
Fast-forward to a gorgeous week in October where we met up in New Orleans with #girlbosses from all corners of the country. We got to know each other over sugary cocktails and intimate dinners. We hosted a masterclass and recorded a podcast in front of a live audience. We went on a ghost tour in the French Quarter with a man who may or may not have been a vampire (he tried to convince us of this by not blinking THE ENTIRE TOUR). We walked around with powdered sugar on our black jeans – evidence of a beignet fully enjoyed. We had our tarot cards read and carefully picked out the perfect crystals for our collections back home. I learned a lot on this trip:
SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENS WHEN YOU CONNECT IN REAL LIFE
I am so grateful to live in a time where we can be location-independent creatives from anywhere. The internet, Skype, social media, and all the technology we have available to us makes it so easy to connect, build relationships, and do business from your fingertips. The opportunities and convenience we have to connect online is so easy, that it’s also easy to forget what happens when you come together in real life: magic.
“Online connection and convenience is so easy – that it’s easy to forget what happens when you come together in real life: magic.” (click to tweet)
It would be impossible to describe the kind of magic I felt recording a Q&A podcast in front of a live studio audience. It would be really hard to translate the creative bonds and inside jokes that formed over coffee and beignets, an afternoon cocktail, or while walking down to Frenchman Street a bit too late at night. It wouldn’t do it justice to detail the work and life conversations I had with so many creatives who were brave enough to show up.
So I’ll just say this: there is something magical that happens when you find your tribe and connect with them in real life. Creative ideas are shared, collaborations are formed, and all the nuances you lose over the internet and even Skype become an integral part of the equation. An energy is formed that is bigger than the sum of its parts and it is worth seeking out and investing in.
“There is something magical that happens when you find your tribe and connect with them in real life.” (click to tweet)
WE’RE ALL MAKING IT UP AS WE GO
Something is to be said for school, training, and experience – but the truth is: we’re all making it up as we go. If five years ago you would have told me I would be hosting a podcast and holding live events I probably would have thrown up on your shoes because “I don’t know how to do those things!” Don’t discredit or shy away from your own big ideas just because you don’t have enough training – you can always learn as you go. It’s so easy to assume someone else has it all figured out but the truth is we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and that’s usually never “enough” to feel 100% certain in what we’re making.
“It’s so easy to assume someone else has it all figured out, but the truth is, we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.” (click to tweet)
PLAY IS IMPORTANT
We’ve all heard how important play is to being a happy creative. Up until New Orleans I was all “Yeah, yeah – I get it. I’ll go ‘play.’” The thing is – I had forgotten what play really looked like. In my mind I thought of it as going on a walk or even hitting the spa. New Orleans helped me see what play is for me: laughing until I almost pee myself, beers and beignets in the middle of the day, staying up way too late dancing, throwing beads off balconies and eating cheap pizza, exploring a new place, and maybe seeing a psychic. Going for a walk or hitting the spa isn’t play – it’s self care – and while that’s important too, play and self-care are very different things. My vacation in New Orleans really helped me to see that.
“Happy creatives need play. We know it, but we have to do it! Even doing fun things takes work, especially if you’re an introvert like so many of us are. But it’s worth it!” (click to tweet)
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN GOOD TIME
Doing fun things takes work. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work to schedule a trip but sometimes it’s even more work just to introduce yourself to someone new. I’m an extrovert by nature, but even I feel shy sometimes. Walking into a room with seventy-five other creatives could have been incredibly overwhelming – I could have found myself burdened by making sure everyone had a good time but when it comes down to it, we prepped the best we could, we turned on our “taxi lights”, and from there let it go. A lot of the creatives who showed up to #BeingBossNOLA were introverts who mustered up A LOT of courage to connect with their fellow creatives – and they had a blast of their own making. They took having a good time into their own hands and made it so.
All in all, New Orleans was a blast. We learned a lot and will definitely be hosting more events and vacations in the future. You can stay tuned and join us next time by joining the Being Boss newsletter here. You can also listen to our New Orleans recap episode here.
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What to say about the Braid Workshop? We brought together a fine group of creative entrepreneurs on an unusually cold spring Saturday a few weeks ago, including web developers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and still-trying-to-definers.
One thread that ran through that productive day, is while everyone there was about their creative business – the day felt very personal. Many of these creatives work solo, or with just one partner. So like most workshops and gatherings geared for a very particular “tribe” like this, it really becomes a cool way to come together and see the same stuff we’re all going through together.
And of all the “stuff” we’re dealing with, the big one that became apparent through the selling-yourself exercises and personal-branding conversations was this: all of us do way too much, with very fuzzy boundaries around what we are providing. So the not-so-stellar side effect of all this vision and not a lot of definition – is we creative, entrepreneurial, women (yes we were all gals that day) tend to overdeliver and overplease. While we undershare, undersell (and undercharge) on what we actually do.
What rises to the top when a group of creative entrepreneurs start talking about sharing themselves and selling what they do? Kathleen and I had some very specific sharing/selling lessons, exercises and takeaways that made up the main content and activities of our workshop. But I wanted to also share some conversational frustrations that bubbled up the day-of, that might feel familiar to you, too, with some takeaways that might help – or at least help you not feel so alone in these struggles.
“I believe in the impossible and I don’t have any boundaries. So I struggle telling people exactly what I do. I do a lot. But you don’t want to sound like a hyphen.”
Frustration: You Have An Unclear Professional Title
“You don’t want to sound like a hyphen.” What a great quote of the day from one of our group. When you do a lot of different things, it can get hard to define what you actually do. That’s not such a big deal, unless it means you make it difficult to charge for what you do.
Recommendation: It’s Okay if You Have a Clear Offering
Kathleen and I struggle with the title, ourselves. Our business cards have no titles, because we do wear a lot of hats. But when we’re engaging with clients, we have very clear boundaries, and structured ways to buy our products or hire us for our one-on-one services.
“I used to sell product. Now I see where I can really help other women creative entrepreneurs. But I don’t know how or if they can pay me.”
“I struggle with pricing, and even find myself giving away a lot of my strategy, direction and advice for free.”
Frustration: Selling Expertise When it Feels Undervalued
This is not only a selling struggle, it’s also a struggle to maintain control in your client relationships – as a valued expert. “Why can’t they just understand how much experience and point-of-view and strategy I bring into this project and not only respect my advice – but pay for it?” Sound like a question you’ve asked yourself?
Recommendation: So Show It... Don’t Just “Tell It” While You Sell It
Now ask yourself this. Are you actually showing clients (and those interested in becoming one) how you deliver that expertise in a visual, step-by-step, concrete way? I mean as visual as you would show a product or a portfolio? People are visual. They need more than talk, bullets and outlines. They need... well, they need pictures. It has to feel real.
If you can create a series of pictures with minimal to no copy, and talk someone through how you work and consult like a mini-slide show (think on an iPad for instance) then you stop selling, and you start explaining in a very concrete way. This also holds you accountable to actually having a method and sticking to it. Which in turn makes you more of an expert every time you repeat these steps you’ve so vividly shared. It’s a win-win for upping the actual, as well as perceived, value of your expertise.
“I haven’t drummed up buzz around my business, because I think my personal peeps don’t want to hear about my business stuff or vision. Bombarding people with my products makes me feel like a used car salesman. So I undershare on the business side, and overshare on the personal side to make up for it. But I feel like I could sell better if I could share better.”
Frustration: Sharing Business Content and Why Should They Care?
When it comes to sharing content, Kathleen and I call this “sharing your gifts of knowledge” – this is the stuff you give away for free, through your blog or talks or conversations. That’s great if you are already doing it on your businesses blog, like this Braid blog here. But what about talking business in more personal platforms, like a personal blog, or in casual conversation?
Recommendation: Think More Behind-The-Scenes not Business Talk
Sharing (and showing) the stuff you know about should either be really helpful and useful, or it should feel like a peek behind-the-scenes. Showing people pictures or telling small, very specific stories about a creative project you got really excited about, or how you gather your materials and inspiration, is also a great way to inject a little more business talk into your personal world – where a lot of business ends up happening for us “out there on our own” entrepreneurs who depend on the people we know, and the relationships we make, to help our business grow, too.
“Other people tell me not to share myself online, like it’s bad from my business.”
“I have a personal blog, but it’s all over the place with different interests. I don’t really connect it to my business.”
“I do live a very colorful life, but for my personal brand, that’s in a very refined, measured way.”
Frustration: Sharing Personal Content and How Much is Too Much?
First, off, typically people who are telling us not to share too much online, maybe don’t understand the power of a personal brand, and how that really can flow into your business when you are a creative entrepreneur. Kathleen and I always say, you are not a robot. People want to buy from people.
Recommendation: How Much Is Truly Up To You, You’re The Boss, Right?
Owning your own business, as a creative, means that people expect you to be a creative, memorable, person. That means you can live-out-loud as much as you want – but only if that’s what you are really like in person. Because the flip-side of that, is if you are more conservative, and share less, then find a way to inject that more refined (yet still colorful) personal brand into how you talk about yourself and your business.
It’s worth noting, just because you have a personal blog, doesn’t mean it has to overlap your business or business site, unless it’s a logical fit. If you like to blog about cooking, but you own a photography business, then keep the personal blog, personal. However, be sure the personal side of you (not the robot side) shows up to your business, too. Bring some of that personal “spice” over into your tone of voice and style in your business site, blog, and brand.
“I have to just revel in who I am and what I love. And give people permission to not like me – or what I’m selling.”
Frustration: Trying to Appeal to Everyone (Overpleasing)
Being everything to everyone will wear you out with self-doubt and scattered focus. If your services seem like they are only for people who appreciate: quality, unique, creativity, authenticity – uh, that’s everyone.
Recommendation: Stop Doing That... Now
Get more specific, and get okay with letting go of the big crowd, for the smaller one who “gets it” and wants what you really do... more. This is hard in the beginning of a business, because you need the clients to gain the confidence and funds to keep going. That’s okay if you know how you want to narrow in (sooner rather than later). It’s also hard as you start to really grow. Because then your appeal starts to widen out on it’s own, and that feels great too. “I’m popular! People love this!” Kathleen and I are always trying to say, “okay, that’s awesome, but how can we get more specific, how can we stop doing x and y and only do z... even if that means not everyone will like it?”
For example, Kathleen and I are noodling what the next iteration of bringing this “sharing you while selling what you do” blended content to a group will look like. Is it a workshop again? Is it in more than one city? Or does it become an online offering any of you can access, like a future Braid ECourse or EBook? We’re letting that percolate. We know it’s going to be for creative entrepreneurs. But we may get more narrow, yet. Stay tuned, as we all keep figuring all this “stuff” out together.
Do you undersell your expertise? Do you overshare or undershare your personal brand? Do you overdeliver and overplease with your time and services? Let us know on Facebook.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.
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So the first Braid Workshop is coming up May 4, here on our home turf in Oklahoma City. We made a video to share a little more about what to expect you can watch here. Our workshop is for creative entrepreneurs like photographers, designers, web developers, coaches, consultants, stylists, bloggers, writers, and marketers – out there on your own, selling what you do and sharing who you are.
But, the problem is, you hate feeling salesy and you can't decide if you love or hate the overlap between what's business and what's personal. So our one day workshop is going to take you through some of our most helpful brand and business vision exercises that get down to what you should be sharing and selling.
As far as what you can expect from the day, well, we're going to start with a get-to-know-each-other downtown breakfast at Kitchen (on you and optional). Then we'll actually begin at 9am sharp at the Level building a few blocks away in Deep Deuce, with a break for lunch (on us and included) from Native Roots, a local seasonal market just downstairs, and then back to work until the whistle blows at 5pm.
Our agenda is a two-parter. Kathleen's going to get everyone uncovering their personal brand in the morning, and getting more intentional about "Sharing You." Which aspects of your personal life overlap into your profession? Are you undersharing or oversharing your content in-person and online? What could you really be known for?
In the afternoon Tara's coaching you through getting way more comfortable "Selling What You Do." Because creatives hate feeling salesy, and we're all trying to prove our worth – but as hard as you're trying, is your true expertise really showing? We're going to show you how to get that sales content (and conversation) feeling like it should.
If you think you think our workshop feels like a fit, we hope you sign up, and walk away with some really bright spots of clarity around this blended work/life business you've created for yourself (or maybe are just now dreaming and planning about, but have yet to get started).
If you've already taken our Braid Method Branding ECourse around content shaping and personal branding this workshop's a great way to take it to the next level and get more personal guidance and hands-on help. You aren't alone in these struggles. We're creatives too, we see the common threads, and we want to help you see yourself and your business better, too.
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