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Doing the Work vs Shaping Your Personal Brand | Braid Creative

doing the work and shaping your brand

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

There is a mindset shift that happens when you go from being solely a creative-for-hire, to being a creative who guides their own process, shares their point-of-view, and is branded (and hired as) an expert – and it has to do with how you spend your work time.

from freelance to creative expert

This shift happens when you make it a priority to spend time shaping your brand and your business, even when it feels like you only have time to do client work.

This isn’t easy when our natural tendency is the “doing.” The doing is the rewarding part, right? The reward can simply be that feeling of being in the zone and totally losing yourself in the work – especially in those times when you’re lucky enough to be doing the work you love. But even if that’s not the case, you still just love the comfortable routine of the “doing” itself, plus paying the bills even if every project can’t feed the soul.

The “doing” is necessary because it’s how you make your product or provide your service, it’s how you make money, and it’s how you make yourself into a more skilled, layered, and confident creative expert over time.

The “shaping” is a little more challenging. At first. It takes a different kind of practice. This is devoting time to work on your positioning, your personal brand, and where you want your business to go. Usually “shaping” is working on your own stuff.

Tara here, and when I was starting to shift from designer to creative director in my own career, the “shaping” would include guiding others on my team in their design projects, writing concepts that influenced the whole feel of a client’s brand, or (my favorite) shaping the direction of the agency’s brand itself – how we positioned ourselves, branded ourselves and shared what we were all about with our dream clients.

But this really hasn’t changed for me now that I work for myself and help guide Team Braid. For me the “doing” might look like writing brand platforms or business vision guides for my clients, while the “shaping” part is usually when I spend time on Braid projects, launches or just writing a blog post.

In fact, we have a day set aside just for shaping. Every Friday is Braid Day, and that’s when we work on our site, our courses, our offerings, or just have a really great conversation about what we’d like to start doing next year (and stop doing too).

The “shaping” is what will start to really define your personal and professional brand. But shaping doesn’t always have to be all about you. The coolest overlap begins to show itself in your self-work and client-work when you cultivate a blended “doing + shaping” way of working. (click to tweet)

What I mean is, once you start thinking like a “shaper” and a “doer,” you write more, you lead the concept more, you flex with collaboration, and you just speak more clearly (or at least passionately) about your ideas and your vision. And this totally influences your creative work and your working relationships with your clients.

The last thing we want is the doing to become a chore—something you have to get through to get to work on you. The doing in itself is such a reward to a creative. The shaping is the reminder to keep your eye on the bigger picture, not just for your own business, but for your clients too. It’s what creative experts do.

shape your brand and business

As you get into your work routine, ask yourself, “Am I making room to shape my own brand, my own content, my own business?” (click to tweet) And when you do go into get-it-done mode ask, “Am I going through the motions on this creative project just to get through, or am I shaping the work ?” (click to tweet) So it’s not a versus, it’s a win-win for both. Be a doer... and a shaper.

If this post was helpful, check out our Braid Method Branding ECourse. We’ve spent many a Friday Braid Day shaping our vision for this content so that we could give other creatives the tools to dig deep and shape their business vision. In it, you’ll find exercises and insights to help you shape your brand so that you can do more of the work you love with more of the clients who will love you back.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

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.


It didn’t take long after becoming a creative entrepreneur to learn that sometimes work is life and sometimes how you do life affects your bottom line. The work / life overlap is tricky, and magical, and it can impact your business in a major way – for better or worse. Working with hundreds of creatives from all over the world has only proven this to be true. After a year or so of doing branding and business visioning for other creative entrepreneurs I decided that I needed more tools for helping creatives not only design a dream brand but a dream life for themselves. So I went through almost a year of life coach training with Martha Beck. I learned some amazing, life-changing concepts that have not only shaped how I work and coach others but how I live and move through life. 

Martha Beck taught me that you should coach yourself out of a job. You shouldn’t leave your clients dependent on you – instead you should teach them how to coach themselves. The struggles and roadblocks you hit along your creative journey will always be changing – so if you have some tools in your toolbox to help you overcome along the way you’re set for life. 

Right now I take one or two coaching clients a quarter. They get six sessions with me and it costs $2,500. But I’ve put everything I’ve learned along the way – the tools I teach and that I actually use myself when I feel stuck, scattered, or spread thin – into a “do it yourself” DIY Coaching for Creatives email series. I created this four week program (you get four emails per week for four weeks) because this information is too good not to share, but not everyone can afford one-on-one time with me. 

You’ll receive four emails per week for four weeks. Each day you’ll get one of the following: 

1. A goal-setting worksheet to help you design the life you want – these range from looking at how you spend your time vs. what you actually value, to daydreaming up your ideal day, to actually getting stuff done step-by-step. 

2. A new mantra for each week – A mantra is simply a phrase or word that you repeat over and over to yourself. Having a mantra, affirmation, or focus can accomplish LOTS of great things – the repetition of the words you want to manifest literally carves out new neural pathways and makes new connections in your brain. Those repetitive thoughts are able to come to life as new behaviors and actions – which then changes your world and worldview. It’s the power of positive thinking, y’all. 

3. A meditation exercise – I think meditation has become mainstream enough that we all know how good it is for us. But even I’ll admit that sitting down and quieting your mind is easier said than done. So I’ve created and curated very specific guided meditations that are easy to commit to. 

4. A weekly check-in to keep you on track – I will pop in with easy exercises to keep you on track – from creating a Pinterest board to bring your ideal day to life, to tracking your time so you can get honest about how you spend your days. 

Each email isn’t specifically focused on work or life – because you can apply it to either or both. And the cool thing is you can sign up to receive these emails any time. Oh, and it’s only $40 – that’s just $2.50 per email. 


I’m not yet a creative entrepreneur. Can I still take DIY Coaching for Creatives? 
YES! 100%. DIY Coaching for Creatives is for anyone who simply wants to design their life on their own terms and needs a few more tools and ideas for making it happen. 

Should I start with DIY Coaching or the Braid ECourse? What’s the difference?
If you need a little more work / life guidance DIY Coaching is for you. The Braid ECourses give more specific advice and information on branding and business visioning. You can learn more about the Braid ECourses here and see if it’s a good fit. (Right now we run one ECourse per month – in June 2015 we’ll be consolidating them all into one downloadable ECourse for purchase anytime). 

Can I sign up for DIY Coaching for Creatives anytime? 
Yup! The DIY Coaching emails are always available for purchase. Once you click “buy” you will receive your first email within 24 hours. If you don’t, email and she’ll get you straightened out. 

If you think the DIY Coaching for Creatives email series is a good fit for you you can purchase it here. And as always, you can sign up for our free Letters for Creatives newsletter here for exclusive content straight delivered straight to your inbox. 


After working with hundreds of creatives – many still working day jobs – I can say with certainty that uncertainty is the feeling we all struggle with the most. In fact, some of us would rather work an unfulfilling day job, earning a fraction of what we could make on our own for work that doesn’t feed our soul, just so we don’t have to deal with uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty. Uncertainty asks us questions like “What about health insurance?” and “Will you be able to pay your mortgage?” or “How can you ever actually get paid to do the work you want to do?” 

Even those of us who have made the leap and have proven ourselves successful still struggle with uncertainty. Uncertainty might say things like “There are only so many people who will hire you.” and “That worked last year, but are you sure it will work this time around?” or “Are you sure you have what it takes to level up?” 

Even the most confident creatives you know question their own path from time to time. I know I do – but I don’t let it stop me. Here’s what I do to deal with uncertainty: 

Every Sunday evening I start to feel a little anxious about the upcoming week. I suppose because I know I’m about to start the work but I’m not quite working yet. This kind of anxiety likes to keep company with uncertainty – so on Sunday evenings I’m not only thinking about the week ahead and all the work, but I start doubting my abilities to conquer what lies ahead. 

Then Monday morning rolls around and I get out of my head and into my work. All The Stuff I have to do know longer feels so heavy once I’m able to dig in and get my hands dirty. Plus, I have deadlines to meet and goals to reach – so I don’t have the time or energy to contemplate my path (and the uncertainty that surrounds it) because there is work to be done. 

Getting to work is easy – setting down my path, one foot in front of the other is a daily discipline that looks like opening up my laptop, typing on the keyboard, Skyping with clients, and having coffee with creative colleagues. Having faith that heading down this path is going to get me closer to a roster full of dream clients with cash, a best-selling book deal, a calendar full of speaking gigs, and digital products that produce lots of passive income isn’t always so easy. 

What I’ve learned about having faith in your path is that it simply comes down to a daily choice to believe in what you’re doing. Your choice to believe in your path will drive you to make actions that produce results. It’s as simple as that. 

P.S. Like this post? Then you might like to receive our Letters for Creatives – it’s our weekly-ish newsletter with exclusive behind-the-scenes content delivered straight to your inbox. Bonus! When you sign up you’ll receive a free worksheet to help you design your ideal day. 

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

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.


Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for creatives.

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blend who you are & what you do,

share & sell your creative expertise,

attract your dream customers,

& make your business vision real

This ecourse is for creative people like designers, photographers, stylists, lifestyle coaches, wellness professionals, yogis, foodies, writers, bloggers, and creative consultants. Whether you’re just starting out, or have lots of experience, our step-by-step guidance will help you create a brand and business vision that feels more clear, confident, and like the true you.






Want more? Sign up for our exclusive weekly email letters from us, Kathleen and Tara, for insights and advice from our own personal and professional overlap – as sisters, business owners, content sharers, and creative entrepreneurs.

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