BRAID CREATIVE & CONSULTING
is branding & business visioning
for creative entrepreneurs.

If some of you remember Gaahhh Don’t Make Me Write! you know I’m a creative who has a love-hate relationship with writing. But I’m also a creative who believes that unless it’s going to flat out kill you, creative entrepreneurs have just gotta write in some form or another, whether that’s it’s a more clearly written email response to people interested in hiring you, to regularly sharing useful or inspirational tidbits in whatever social media realm doesn’t freak you out, to all-out blogging, to occasional speaking, to (gasp!) writing a book.

Kathleen and I are actually writing a book. Or let me clarify, writing a book proposal, but it’s been a bit of a backburner idea, and now we’re in “let’s just try it mode.” So we’re taking a stab and seeing how it goes. You might think that’s something you’d love to do, or have done already, congrats. Or you may already breaking out in hives thinking about it (I do have an persistent itchy spot on my back left shoulder blade by the way) just calm down a second there, itchy, we’re not saying that it’s a fit for you. 

The point is, you may not be dying to become an author, but if you’re a creative entrepreneur or aspiring-to-be, then I know you’re dying to express these ideas you’ve got pinging around in your head, and get them (if not on real pages) on metaphorical paper. So lately I’ve started asking creatives just brimming, bursting and beaming with ideas, but can’t nail down one (or even just five) to say “that’s my expertise, that’s what I’m all about,” the book question.

I simply ask “if you had to write a book, today, what would it be called and what would some of your chapters would be called?” I love asking this question so much lately, that we created a Brand Exercise Braid worksheet for you to download.

Try This Branding Worksheet

Downloadable PDF: Your Book Exercise from Braid Creative 

Think about how your book title and chapters can help you:
- write blog posts
- stick to some general blog topics
- or even just write tweets and FB posts?
- develop or describing the offerings/products that you sell?
- explain how-to-hire you on your website?
- give a talk
- structure a conversation with someone considering hiring you?
- write a real book someday, dare we say!?

Brand Exercise Collage

If you liked this worksheet, you can check out some of our previous Brand Exercises like:
- Your Ideal Day
- The Online You Sharing Spectrum
- A Resolution For Routine

Final note on “making your dream” real. Kathleen and I have actually worked with successful legit authors and also aspiring authors, and there is something really powerful about creating an image of your dream.  So, for the aspiring authors out there, the ones who didn’t get hives reading the title to this post, but said “oh man, I am soooo writing a book,” do this – design your book cover, or heck hand draw it, wrap it around a real book, and photograph it. But don’t just boring photograph it. Do it in a field of grass, or styled on a desk in a sunny window, or on your bookshelf among all your other favorite books.  You don’t have to have a fancy camera, just use your phone, filter it up all Instagram style, ha! You don’t have to post it, or share it, but just looking at it can give you goosebumps. Make it you desktop wallpaper image, or print it out and stick on your mirror – is that self-affirming, prophecy-fulfilling or what?

As for us, we’re cautiously optimistic ours will turn into a real book. Side note, our brother is a sideshow performer who travels the country and world twirling his handlebar mustache and getting paid to stick sharp objects up his nose. I mention him because every once in awhile he gets to shoot a pilot for a potential television series, but none of them have turned into actual shows in that long string of what it takes to get a show picked up by a network. But it ends up being a good story for him to tell, and a clarifying experience each time, to say the least. That’s how Kathleen and I are approaching writing this potential book of ours, like sticking something sharp in our face (in careful steps, mind you) and hoping people like it and pay us for it. 

What would the title of your book be? Oh, man, I bet there’s some good ones out there. Tell us on Facebook.

It’s almost September! You can sign up now through the registration deadline of Sept 12, 2013, for our $75 Braid Ecourse, Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise & Attract What You Track, in session September 13th through the 22nd. 

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Tara and I work with lots of creatives who want to empower, inspire, champion, and charge. We love some grand vision as much as the next guy but these kinds of lofty goals always leave us asking “Okay, that’s great – but what do you actually want to be doing all day?” 

If you can’t identify what your day of empowering and inspiring actually looks like, in very specific detail, than you’re setting yourself up for failure. This picture of failure looks like you becoming a disempowered and uninspired order-taker for not-so-dreamy clients in order to pay the bills. And how can you expect to empower your dream customer to be a successful solopreneur when you yourself feel broke and confused. 

Empowering, inspiring, and championing are really great core values – but what’s the action? Let’s put the big picture aside and get specific. Do you want to be making things with your hands? Are you designing or delegating? Do your meetings take place in coffee shops or do you prefer to keep your communication streamlined to email? Are you blogging, Tweeting, and / or Facebooking? Are you teaching, guiding, and coaching? What do you want to be known for? Are you selling a service or a product? What’s the deliverable? What’s your creative process? What do you not want to be doing?

If you’re frankly not sure what you want to be doing all day, you’re not alone. Try this exercise to create a specific vision of what you want your ideal day to look like:

Get Specific About Your Ideal Day

We’ve all found ourselves at times feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and spread thin at what’s supposed to be the ever-fulfilling dream job we’ve created for ourselves. I think it’s because we don’t have a clear vision of what we want our life (or job) to actually look like. We’re overlooking the details for a lofty ideal that we can’t quite pinpoint. So download this Ideal Day Braid worksheet to really narrow in on your dream day. 

Downloadable PDF: Ideal Day Exercise from Braid Creative 

Be sure to get as specific as possible about how your future self experiences the day using all five senses – what you feel, what you smell, your environment, the kinds of conversations you’re having, and the work you may or may not be doing. Be mindful about not getting too generic or broad with your vision – the dream is in the details! Start a Pinterest board to bring visuals to your dream day. 

Now once you’ve day dreamed about your ideal day take just one element of that day and make it a reality. Start small and commit for 40 days – this will make it more likely that your new dreamy habit sticks! If you can incorporate this aspect of your future ideal day into your present day reality you’re one step closer to living that vision. 

Let us know on Facebook what element from your ideal day you’re going to make a reality. 

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If you liked this Ideal Day exercise you might like our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do which is now open for registration. This ECourse will be in-session from Aug. 16 - 24th. and is perfect for the designer, maker, photographer, coach, or consultant who wants to bring a little more personality into their creative career. Learn more about what you can expect from this 10-day self-paced Braid ECourse and register here.

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P.S. If you haven’t signed up for our Letters for Creatives you should! You get exclusive behind-the-scenes content straight from Kathleen & Tara to your inbox. See examples of the kinds of letters we send and sign up here. 

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I’ve got a worksheet for you try out today, the Online You Sharing Spectrum. We developed it while working on our Personal Branding Braid ECourse – but I’m sharing this one exercise out of all the others – well, partly as a sneak peek into the course, but also I think this exercise in particular really helps creative entrepreneurs work through two things I’ve been noticing from our clients more than ever lately:

1. They all have this deep desire to more accurately and authentically share who they really are 
2. But they’re scared

It can be confusing and overwhelming knowing what to share and how to share it when you’re at a dinner with friends – much less when you have the entire world at your fingertips. But I think nothing is more beautiful or powerful than getting to create an online space that’s so perfectly you, where you can capture, shape, and share who you are and what you’re all about. 

I do believe getting clear on your boundaries and creating within your limitations will make you more comfortable, and creative, with genuinely sharing who you are online.  Read on for the downloadable worksheet to start defining those boundaries, along with takeaway tips to begin more confidently sharing within those parameters. 

Where Do You Fall on the Online Spectrum?

Online Spectrum Worksheet

Downloadable Worksheet PDF: The Online You Sharing Spectrum

Straight from our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do, from anonymous, to all out there – see where you land on the sharing spectrum now, and where you’d like to be in the future. Then list out some specific boundaries – the things you absolutely will not talk about online, the things you’re perfectly comfortable posting about, and finally the things you would like to talk about but feel a little scared. 

8 Tips on Sharing (and Shining) Online
You might even consider reading through these before you fill out your worksheet if you’re feeling stuck!

1. Sharing takes practice. Start small. You’re not immediately going to feel comfortable putting much of anything out there if you’ve never done it before. So test the waters with a Tweet or Instagram pic. Touch on topics before you dive into a full-blown essay on it. Sometimes a photo and one sentence will say more about who you are than a novel. 

2. Find your tone. Lots of people tell you to find your voice but I’m betting you already have a voice. I think you should focus on finding your tone. Is it sarcastic, dry, sweet, rough around the edges, funny, serious, sincere, vulnerable, bold, sassy, quiet? 

3. Learn how to listen. The great thing about sharing online is the instant feedback you get from your community. That feedback can come in the form of enthusiastic comments, “likes”, or even chirping crickets – those responses are valuable for helping you assess and calibrate what you’d like to share more or less of accordingly. 

4. Your corner of the internet will evolve and change as you evolve and change. I think part of the fear of sharing online is how permanent it can feel when you hit that “publish” button. I find fascinating about the internet is how ephemeral and temporary, yet archival, it is. 

5. It doesn’t always have to be deep. One of my most popular posts, to date, over at my personal blog was about my armpits. But guess who else is blogging about their armpits? No one. So even the little stuff can reveal lots about you and have readers thanking you for “keeping it real” without getting too terribly deep. 

6. Your goal is to attract or repel readers. I think we get most scared of sharing when we are afraid of offending someone. But if you’re everything to everyone you’re probably watering down who you really are and what you really have to say. Jasmine Star won me over at Alt Summit when she said this about building a personal brand: “My goal is to either attract you or repel you”. When you share your authentic self (the big stuff and the little stuff), the online tribe you were meant to have will not only be attracted to you and like will feel like they belong in your space.

7. Share elsewhere. You don’t always have to share in your own space. For example, I’ve felt the urge to write about my starter marriage – but my blog, a place where I celebrate the life I have created with my husband Jeremy, is clearly not the appropriate venue to talk about a failed relationship with my ex. So I’ve considered writing about the topic elsewhere – at a place like The Equals Record – a blog full of contributors who dig deep into the more complex issues of life. A place where a conversation about getting married (and divorced) young would be appropriate. And on the flip side – if I want to indulge in my consumer side I can curate a gift guide with a blogger like Meg Biram.

8. Be consistent. At the heart of any brand is setting expectations and then delivering on that promise. What do you promise to share? How often? And where? 

Lastly, here are some rad bloggers who all share who they are and what they do in very different ways (from private to all out there): 
Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator – I didn’t know the author of The Jealous Curator was a woman until she emailed me on my birthday with a list of reasons why she was jealous of me. We’ve been friends ever since. But even before we got to know each other I learned a lot about Danielle just by getting to know what kind of art she liked, and why she liked it, every single day. 
Sandra Juto – Sandra shares daily details from her walks, fika (that’s what Swedes call their coffee breaks) and work. She keeps her words brief but you feel like you’re in her whole world when you go to her blog. 
Liz Fabry of EXACTLY – Liz is our Braid brand director and her blog captures the minimalist beauty (and mystery) that she exudes in real life. People live for her Weekend Breakfasts series – and on that note sharing what you’re eating is always a brilliant way to connect. 
Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange – If you are wanting to share more and on a variety of topics Megan is the perfect example of how to do that with style and grace. She’s really great at keeping it real and making us all feel like we’re in it together but what I really admire is how she captures her content offline and then brings it to us as a beautifully packaged gift. 

Braid ECourse Personal Branding

If you want to know more about personal branding check out our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do. This $75 ECourse is in session from this Friday, February 15th – 24th. You have through tomorrow to register! Pssst... Check out our guest post over at Freelancers Union for more personal branding tips and a discount on the course. 

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