Over the past three years I’ve been asked a lot of questions when it comes to personal branding and blending the personal with the professional. Today I’m going to address the one I get the most – which is: when it comes to my online presence should I keep the personal and professional together or separate? In simplest terms it comes down to the question of having two websites or one – one for the person, and one for the biz. Creatives are so confused over this issue and I think it’s because we’re taught, or conditioned, in school or at our day jobs to compartmentalize who we are and what we do. That’s the “professional” thing to do, right? Except most creatives want to live authentically and aligned – they crave creative cohesion and know in their bones that blending the personal and professional, online and off, would make them feel well… authentic and aligned. But it’s easier said than done.
For example, here’s an email I received just this week:
I SO admire the way you are able to mesh your adventures and personal life and work all into one platform… and I’m in a place where I wonder if I should continue down that path. My site is kind of all over the place... with my photography sessions and adventures and musings in one. Does remodeling a creepy cargo van into a rambling gypsy wagon really belong next to pictures of newborn babies? Most people would say probably not, but I wonder if you have an idea for that? The reason why I choose to question what most people would say, is that I’ve had so many clients (who usually turn friends), where my adventures inspire them, and make them feel connected to me, which in turns gets them to hire me. I know I’m not the best photographer out there, but I can connect with people and make it a fun experience for them. So, perhaps what I lack in talent, I make up for in authenticity and fun. At least that’s my hope… and what my vision is. So my questions are. 1. should I keep them [the personal adventures and professional services] separate or together; and/or 2. if together, is there a way to have the two semi-connected by bridging the gap between memory-maker and adventure-seeker?
First off, it’s pretty clear that Katelyn already knows the answer to her question. She should absolutely keep her adventures and her services together – not only because it is getting her hired but because she uses photography to make connections and tell stories. Whether that’s the story of bicycling across the United States (which she just did) or the story of a baby being born into this world. If I was having a drink with Katelyn I would first tell her that she is in fact talented. Then I’d tell her that she is the common denominator between her photo sessions, adventures, and musings. Katelyn herself is the gap-bridged.
Here are some other things I hear from creatives who are considering keeping their professional portfolio and offerings separate from their personal blog:
“I’m afraid that my clients don’t want to read about my life.”
First, are your clients robots? If so, they probably don’t want to read about your life. Second, are your clients dreamy? If not, maybe you could attract more dream customers who like and trust you by sharing more of who you are. Third, if you’re clients don’t want to read about your life they don’t have to. They can simply go to the “how to hire me” page of your website and hire you for what you have to offer.
“I’m afraid that my blog readers will be annoyed if I talk about my work.”
If you’re a creative entrepreneur your work is a part of your life. And if your blog readers like reading about your life they’re probably curious about your work. And if your work is something they need, they are far more likely to support or hire you because they already like and trust you. There is nothing wrong with reminding your tribe that you are for hire. In fact, if you’re really good at what you do you are doing your people a disservice by NOT letting them know about your work. You know?
“I’m afraid it doesn’t all make sense together.”
There’s this scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Ferris and his girlfriend Sloane are making out in the museum while third wheel Cameron is having an existential crisis in front of a pointillist painting scored to an instrumental version of The Smiths “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” The camera zooms in on the painting until you just see a bunch of tiny little dots. These little dots, one-by-one, make up the big picture but you would never know it if you were zoomed all the way in. Well, your life is made up of a bunch of dots, and if you create a separate website and platform for each dot they’ll never have a chance to come together to make a big picture.
A CASE FOR KEEPING IT SEPARATE
My friend Shauna is a great example of someone who can keep up with her personal blog, her professional agency site, and her side gig creating The Blogcademy all being in different places. It makes sense for those projects and content to have their own spaces. That said, even though she’s rocking a few separate platforms I can see HER in all those spaces.
As much as I preach about the personal / professional blend, even I have a personal blog that allows me to experiment, explore, and find my “voice” and writing style. But just because I have a blog dedicated to my professional point-of-view doesn’t mean I have to sound like a robot when I’m writing over here. And, believe me, all my followers know about my business, how to hire me, and what’s going on in my work life, just as much as the personal – that’s because my work is a part of my life – it not only puts food on the table but it feeds my soul – so you better believe I’m telling my tribe how to hire me. That’s where some of our earliest and dreamiest clients came from in the first place!
My point is this – don’t let your fear or assumptions of what other people might think dictate how you do you. And the thing is this – there is no right answer. Instead, check in and do what you want. Do what makes most sense to you right now – whether that’s bringing it all together or keeping it separate.
If you want to learn more when it comes to finding the magic in the overlap between the personal and the professional check out our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do. It is in-session this Friday, Nov. 14-26 – registration closes Thursday! Learn more and see if it’s a good fit here.
Need more guidance on being a creative expert? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s $40 for four weeks of content that will help you dig deep so you can uncover the good stuff and make decisions about what’s next.
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Happy Halloween! Kathleen here. In the spirit of the spookiest of holidays I have a confession to make: I kind of want to be a witch. I crave the kind of structure that comes with casting spells and wielding energy to make magic happen. Plus, growing up I really loved magical movies featuring badass witches including, but not limited to, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins (she was totally a witch, right?), Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, and as a moody teenager I totally wanted to join the cast of The Craft. I missed the window for Harry Potter but can’t wait until I can read the books and watch the movies with my baby once he gets a little older.
So, here at Braid Creative we believe in blending who you are with what you do (we have an entire ECourse on Personal Branding dedicated to that blend). And with the blend I like to bring a little magic into my work. Today, in celebration of Halloween, I want to share a few tips on how you can make your work a little more magical too.
MANIFEST MONEY WITH A MAGICAL CHALKBOARD
If a witch wields her intention with a wand we do it with a big chalkboard. Every quarter we draw blank spaces on the giant chalkboard wall in our office (which can feel quite intimidating) as a way to attract and make space for our dream clients. You can read more about our magical chalkboard method and how we manifest money here.
MAKE A MANTRA
When witches cast spells, the words they say hold a lot of power (or at least that’s what I gather from all those witchy movies I watched as a kid). So a mantra, the words you repeat over and over again, hold power. What you say today will become your reality tomorrow. “Be a farmer, not a hunter” is our money mantra and when I went from being “crazy busy” to “wildly productive and living the dream” my life started to feel much more, well… dreamy and productive.
DEMAND A TENFOLD RETURN
When Tara and I first started Braid Creative we each put $3,000 dollars in our bank account for our startup cushion. As we deposited those checks I told her “we’re going to see a tenfold return on this investment within the next year.” And we did.
These days I demand a tenfold return for the investment my clients make with us. Every time a client sends us a check I say a little spell and make the intention that the work I do for them will get them a tenfold return (and then some). It’s common for creatives to feel awkward asking for money, but this little bit of tenfold magic is why I never feel bad asking for money or guilty for the amount we charge.
DON’T OVER-COMPLICATE THE SPELL
If your spell involves lots of exotic ingredients, complicated words, and unlikely circumstance you have more chances of messing it up and seeing zero return on your magic-casting. So if your spell involves boiling frog legs in a twenty gallon cauldron boiling with rosemary and turmeric in fresh spring water while the moon is 22.5º degrees over the horizon while the wind is blowing from the East, all while reciting the equivalent of a TED talk in ye olde English – you’re probably going to mess it up. But if you have a simple spell, such as lighting a yellow candle and reciting two words with intention – you’re less likely to flub it up.
What part of your work, your offerings, or your creative process are you over complicating? How could you simplify the spell?
CHECK IN WITH THE MOON AND THE STARS
I’m not sure how much I believe in the moon and the stars, but recently I was having some relentless computer problems and it turns out Mercury was totally in retrograde. Of course it was. So because of that I allowed myself a little more wiggle-room to get my work done and tried to avoid scheduling Skype meetings and signing contracts during this time. I’ve also recently found that I’m most creative leading up to a full moon – so I use this time to knock out lots of blog posts. And I feel more strategic and dreamy during the new moon – so I use this time to do some goal-setting and reflecting. If you’re feeling a little woo-woo, pay mind to the moon and the stars and see how it affects your creativity and plan accordingly.
LOOK FOR THE MAGIC
The biggest way to make magic is to keep your eyes peeled for it. Notice moments of synchronicity, serendipity, and coincidence. Sometimes your goosebumps will tell you, sometimes the look on the face of your client will tell you. Know that it’s magic and you’re making it happen. Better yet, acknowledge those moments with those powerful words of yours, even if you’re just saying them under your breath to yourself, “ah, yep, it’s happening… that was magic.”
Our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do will be in session from November 14 - 23 and is great for bloggers, creative professionals, and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to work more of that magic into both at work and play. See if it’s a good fit and register here.
P.S. You will receive a discount code for our ECourse when you sign up for our Letters for Creatives – exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox a few times a month.
Don’t quite have a handle on what you want to do and be (in life and for Halloween)? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s $40 for four weeks of content that will help you dig deep so you can uncover the good stuff and make decisions about what’s next.
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I think artists are typically pegged as being eccentric, messy, and unorganized when it comes to their space, their creative process, and how they do their work. But when it comes to creative entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into profit, organization is essential – in fact some of us pride ourselves on how organized we are.
Kathleen here. I spent last week in Palm Springs at Designer VACA with a hundred designers who are not only creative, but super organized – so much so, I started to think my own perceived organizational skills maybe aren’t as fine tuned as they could be after all! As a small team working together here at Braid, our methods for staying on top of everything (some automated, some more old-school, like good ‘ol post-its) have served us well up until now – enough that people often ask how we manage it all. So today I want to share how we stay organized, plus some new tools, tricks, and tips I’ve learned about, but haven’t yet tried, that could help us (and perhaps you, too) get even more streamlined in our daily grind.
Here at Braid Creative we use Gmail. There is a lot of functionality built in like folder, labels, and tasks – plus extras in Google Labs like canned responses and multiple inboxes.
At Designer VACA Jessica Hische gave us her secret to maintaining a zero inbox and that is to 1) download all your emails and respond to them offline. That way you can’t get sucked down an internet rabbit hole while answering emails. And 2) Stop using “unread” emails as a to-do list (guilty here) and instead read the email, respond appropriately, and add any actions required to your actual to-do list.
We use a combination of Google Docs, Google Calendar, and our magical chalkboard wall to keep track of our clients, project workflow, and to-dos. It’s a system that works for us but I wonder if we couldn’t automate it a bit with some project management tools. Here are a few that were recommended to me by other designers:
TASKS, TO-DOS and TIMETRACKING
Admittedly, I’m still a fan of a post-it note stuck to my desktop to keep track of my to-dos but because we’re a team of four and growing every day it’s best if we can all see each other’s tasks. Also, we bill per project and not hourly (read Breaking the Time Barrier if you want more info on that) so we don’t typically keep track of our time – but now I’m seeing how measuring how we spend our days could be good for redefining our roles and distributing our to-dos. So here are a few apps for keeping track of tasks, to-dos, and time.
Self Control (just in case you need help from distractions)
CALENDARS and SCHEDULING
Here at Braid we have no less than two or three meetings a day – and with clients from all over the world we’re juggling a lot of time zones. My calendar looks a bit like a jigsaw puzzle at times and I think it’s the place where I could use the most automation. Here are a few apps for that:
ORGANIZING FILES AND STORAGE
Cloud storage is where it’s at – but our designer Kristin always says if it’s not backed up three times it’s not backed up. So be sure to invest in a good external hard drive and back that shit up! Here are some cloud options:
Google Drive / Docs (apparently you can use it just like DropBox!)
JUST ONE NOTEBOOK
Okay – so if you’re like me and still like to put pen to paper a good way to stay organized is by keeping everything in one notebook. I actually observed my friend, illustrator and designer Becky Murphy using just one notebook for sketches, lists, and note-taking. (Meanwhile, I was scribbling ideas on the hotel notepad, a random moleskin, and with the notes app on my phone.)
The biggest tip I learned for getting organized is to hire someone else to do it for you. It’s great to have organizational systems and administrative processes in place so you can easily hand off tasks to a virtual assistant, but if organization isn’t your thing a virtual assistants can help put those systems in place for you. It’s good to know exactly what tasks you want a virtual assistant to help you with – whether it’s bookkeeping, managing your email, calendar, web maintenance, or even managing your social media and marketing. My new friend Kyla Roma recommends Virtual Miss Friday.
What are your favorite ways to stay organized? Let us know on Facebook!
If you need a little help shaping up your blog, social media, or even everyday words- our next Braid ECourse, Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration and will be in-session October 17 - 26. Learn more and register here.
Need more Creative Coaching? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. It's $40 for 4 weeks of how to live-what-you-love content delivered straight to your inbox. See if it's a good fit and sign up here.
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