“I used to think branding was just about logos, fonts, and colors. But I realized that my trouble articulating what I do is really a branding problem.” – Kat, Illustrator and a Braid Method Branding ECourse Student
One of the hardest things to do as a creative entrepreneur is being able to tell people what you do. Kathleen here. Just yesterday morning I was in a boxing class (yup, I finally watched Mad Max: Fury Road and was inspired to be a post-apocalyptic badass – boxing class seemed like a good place to start) and the coach asked me what I do for a living. And even as someone who tells creatives how to tell other people what they do for a living, I had that moment where I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to tell this guy, who boxes for a living, what it is I do. I boiled it down to “graphic design” and that was an appropriate answer given the context of his expertise (boxing) and my experience leading up to becoming a branding guide and creative coach (who started as a graphic designer over a decade ago).
But it’s not just in out-of-context situations (like boxing class … or Thanksgiving dinner with relatives who don’t understand your creative career) that creative entrepreneurs have a hard time explaining what they do. Creatives often find themselves stammering in front of potential dream clients and while networking with their peers. And like Kat, an illustrator taking our branding ecourse, said, the inability to articulate what you do isn’t a confidence problem – it’s a branding problem.
You might be having a hard time telling people what you do for a living if:
• you are using vague words and trendy industry jargon to describe what you do
• your expertise can’t be summed up in one small title or job description
• you feel more like a Jack (or Jane) of all trades and master of none
In our ecourse we created a whole scripted lesson module for this very reason. It’s called “Get Blended: Shape Your Branded Messages,” and in it we share formulas for talking and writing about your business, while still sounding like you. You want to be clear enough to explain what you do to almost anyone in just a few sentences, legit enough in your next layer of content (usually on your site or in your conversations) to get hired, and you want to feel authentic and true to the dreamy-but-difficult path you’re carving out for yourself.
One of the first scripts we share is your positioning statement.
• Your positioning statement is just a few sentences that say what you do, and for who.
• You need it to help you sound self-employed, not unemployed, when you explain what you’re about in a short amount of time.
• It can go in places like your website home page, perhaps under your photo in a sidebar, and in your social media profiles.
We share scripts for service-based creatives (like photographers, designers, and stylists), content-based creatives (like coaches, consultants, writers, and bloggers), and product-based creatives (like jewelers, makers, and artists) in our Braid Method Branding ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs. But! I want to share just a down-and-dirty fill-in-the-blanks script that you can give you less anxiety and more confidence so you can start practicing on your own boxing instructor (or maybe just in your next coffee meeting) today!
Try filling out these blanks:I’m ___[your name]___, and I’m a ____ [simplest form of your title]____.
I love ____ [creating, designing, guiding]____ clients who want ____ [your specialty]____.
And they love how I ____ [your approach]_____ when we work together!
But at the end of the day, what they really get is ____ [ your deeper deliverable for them]___.
Because I’m more than just __[your simple title]__, I’m a ___[your creative expertise]___.
I can’t wait to try what’s next for me, which is launching a ___[your next big endeavor]___.
It’s hard work, but totally worth it, because as I create for others, I’ll also be creating __[your dream]___ for myself along the way.
Okay, I went a little future-dreaming there, but I can’t help it! That’s what we love to do at Braid, not just blend the person with the profession, but blend the “now” with the “what could be!”
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.
Our branding ecourse will be $179 through the end of June 2015. In July it will go up to $229.
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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.
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!?
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.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to supporting 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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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:
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.
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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The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to supporting 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.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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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