BRAID CREATIVE & CONSULTING
is branding & business visioning
for creative entrepreneurs.
03-Jul-2014

About a year ago we decided here at Braid Creative that it was time to update our website. We had been in business for two years and while our site was fine, we knew it could be better. Our business had grown, our dream customer had evolved, and our offerings had become much more clear after a couple years of putting the Braid Method and creative coaching into practice. 

But updating a website is kind of like remodeling a house. Kathleen here, and I just moved into a new house this week. So I’m all too familiar with the fact that a few cosmetic updates here and there always reveal deeper issues – the kind that aren’t nearly as fun as a coat of paint or new carpet – but the kind that keep your house in working order. Things like paying thousands of dollars to update the electric service from 60 amps to 100 amps (and y’all – I don’t even know what that really means). It’s the stuff you can’t see but appreciate when you can run your dryer, fridge, and hair dryer all at the same time. 

I was pretty excited about redesigning our site with new images, a dreamy “day in the life of Braid Creative” brand video, and some more streamlined content that more accurately shares the brand we’ve built. But I knew – just like updating the electric in my house – that my website had to really work for me. It had to be functional. 

Here are a few things we did to make our site work for us: 

1. CONTACT US FORM 
It seems silly to start this list with something as simple as a contact us form but it’s made a big shift in our workflow. I used to shy away from “contact us” forms. They felt a little too impersonal and I know when I fill one out I always wonder if my email is actually going to a real live person. But as we grew so did my inbox. I am no longer able to respond to every request, technical question, or inquiry. So we made our contact form work for us – depending on the subject picked, the email goes to the proper person who can most quickly respond. And my inbox is no longer killing my productivity elsewhere. 

2. CONSOLIDATING CONTENT 
We offer a few digital products (like our Braid ECourses and DIY Coaching for Creatives sessions) and manage an ever-growing email newsletter list (our Letters for Creatives). The thing is they were all hosted in different places from our website. So we decided to choose a web guide who could help us consolidate our ECommerce, our site + blog, and our newsletter all in one place. 

3. WE REWROTE OUR SITE FROM MEMORY
A brand is what makes you memorable. So we decided to really “say what we mean” by saying it from memory. Instead of referencing our old site Tara took a stab at rewriting each page from scratch. The final content of our site felt so much more “us” and was exactly what we wanted our brand to convey. 

4. WE DECIDED TO SHOW OUR TELL 
When you sell a service – especially something like consulting or coaching – it can be hard to describe what that means. We decided to stop talking and start showing our audience what it looks and feels like to work with us. So we hired Choate House to snap stills and shoot a brand video of us at work. 

Those are just a handful of countless decisions that went into our website – and we couldn’t have done it without our trusted web guide Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography. And lucky for you, Emily has decided to write an eCourse sharing all of her web and branding secrets. Some of it is super practical stuff – the not-so-glamorous functionality that keeps your house … er website … from crumbling beneath you. And some of it is the fun stuff – if we’re continuing with the house metaphor – it’s the paint on your walls and throw pillows on your fabulous sofa. Alright – I’m going to stop writing this post and start unpacking the boxes stacked up around me.  

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Registration for Indie Headquarters: An eCourse for Building the Foundation of Your Brand Online will be open until the evening of July 10th. You can learn more about the eCourse here.

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17-Jun-2014

Two money posts in a row, I know. Kathleen here and I'm positive the majority of you creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs and freelancers are craving a conversation about cold hard cash. I know this because every time I get some face time with you all we end up talking about money. How to find it, make it, sustain it, and grow it. Last week I shared four bits of money advice on the blog and this week I have one more important tidbit to share with you and it is this:

Be a farmer. (Not a hunter.) 

Yup, you heard me: be a farmer. This is actually a money mantra Tara and I used a lot when we first started Braid Creative together. We adopted it from Blair Enns, a new-business coach whose specialty is helping creative agencies sell themselves. Meanwhile, we were leaving the agency world and starting over on our own. We were three months in, and had been tirelessly building our business from scratch – from the branding, to the website, to the endless administrative stuff like setting up our LLC and accounting systems. Once the flurry of setting up shop settled we were discouraged to hear crickets chirping as we waited for clients. Even though the silence was discouraging, an even more demoralizing prospect was going out and selling ourselves “cold” (i.e. knocking on doors, making calls, or sending unsolicited emails). So we started farming. 

BE A FARMER 
Farmers wake up early and do the work. They get their hands dirty and plant seeds. They protect and nurture their land for months until they're able to harvest their crops. They look at the big picture and they cultivate patience. Obviously, I'm not telling you to literally go out and become a farmer (that's another fantasy for another day), but do start treating your business like a farm. Wake up early, do the work, build your brand, read blogs and books, write a post, hit publish, launch, build relationships, build your list, have conversations, and share your gifts of knowledge... that's farming. In other words, if you want to grow your business, your brand, and your bottom line, first you have to plant it. 

DON'T BE A HUNTER 
Hunting for the quick kill sounds appealing until you come home empty handed, hungry, and desperate. Hunting in business is what will make you feel like a used car salesman rather than the creative expert you are. Hunting is exhausting.  

HOW THE MANTRA WORKS
The mantra “be a farmer, not a hunter” works by getting you in the headspace to plant seeds that may not produce fruit (that would be cash money) for months... years even.  Our commitment to being "farmers" kept us productive even when we didn't have clients. So if you're feeling discouraged start farming. 

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Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embracing Your Expertise and Attracting What You Track will be in-session starting this Friday, June 20. If you are a writer, designer, coach, or creative who understands the importance of narrowing in on your niche for building your business but don't quite know where to begin this ECourse is for you. Learn more and enroll here.  But you have to register by Thursday! 

Or check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives email series. It’s insight delivered straight to your inbox over the course of 4 weeks.

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One of the biggest struggles I see with creative entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs) is they don’t know how to make money doing what they love. Or rather, the whole topic of money altogether makes them uncomfortable. I get it. When you bring in the kinds of good feelings that come with being creative, making things all day, and loving what you do – it feels as if the reward is in the work itself. You may feel like you don’t deserve to make income on top of feeling good. Or maybe you feel like your work is tainted or is less meaningful if money is involved. Or perhaps you’ve come from a mindset where money is straight up bad. Maybe money has always been a struggle or a seen as a necessary evil in your life. 

Kathleen here, and I’ve found the key to making money by doing what you love isn’t that complicated. First, you must have something to sell. Whether you’re selling a product or service, it should be something you believe in with your whole, creative, weirdly-you heart. Feeling like you’re wholy-great at this somethin’ somethin,’ or like you have the natural potential to be great at it in the not-too-distant future, doesn’t hurt either. Then you need a solid brand platform and position to sell your goods with confidence (psst… we can help you with that). But it can get a little trickier when it comes to having the right attitude. Your own inner weirdness around money can make or break your bottom line. 

So below I’m going to share four money-mojo tidbits that have helped me take the leap from day job, to freelancer, to successful business owner – all while feeding my family and feeding my creative soul.



1. WHAT ARE YOUR MONEY STORIES?
We tend to think of money as good or bad because of the stories we associate with money. However, money itself is neutral. In other words, money doesn’t feel good or bad about itself. Money doesn’t consider itself a struggle or necessary evil. Money is just money. 

Try this: write down a few of your beliefs about money. Start by filling in the blank on the statement “Money is _______.” What kinds of money stories and attitudes have you inherited from family or even friends? Notice the kinds of feelings you associate with money. Are they good or bad? Are they true? 

2. MONEY IS ENERGY 
One of the first ways you can start being okay with talking money is to shift your perspective around what money is. Have you ever really thought about what money really is? A $1 dollar bill and a $100 dollar bill are made of the exact same stuff but one is worth so much more. How and why? It’s because money is energy. The transaction of services or products for dollar bills is simply an exchange of energy. So how much energy are you putting into your work? If you love what you do, I bet you’re putting out a lot of energy – therefore, you deserve to be compensated (with cash) even more than you would working a job you hate! 

Try this: replace the word “money” with “energy” in your money stories and see how that feels. For example “I am a creative for a living – the reward is in the work so I don’t feel like I deserve to make money energy.” 

3. LOOK AT YOUR MONEY
Every broke person I know is also completely out of touch with their money. Coincidence? I don’t think so. They’re scared to look at their bank account and hardly track income and expenses for their personal life and business. But guess what: your bank account is not the boogie man! If you don’t know where you’re at you won’t know what you need to do to get where you want to go. 

Try this: Take some time to look at your monthly income and expenses. Use tools like online banking, Mint.com, and Freshbooks.com to track your personal and business expenses. Once you have a good idea of what your money picture is looking like set money goals for yourself. 

4. TALK ABOUT MONEY
Our friend and Braid Method client Brené Brown says one of the best tools for shining light on the shame shadows are our words. So if you have shame issues around money one of the best things you can do is talk about it. Words are powerful – so when you can articulate how much money you would like to make, and how you would like to feel about money, you’re one step closer to making those desires a reality. 

Also, don’t be afraid to talk money with your clients. Bring it up early in the conversation so it doesn’t become the elephant in the room later. The more confident you can be (or at least act) about money the more reassured and willing your customers will be to hand it over to you. And please remember, as awesome as a potential client may be, if they can’t afford your services they probably aren’t a great fit. 

Try this: find someone you trust or hire a coach to talk money with. Find someone you admire for their attitude around money or ability to make money and ask them how they do it. 

LET’S CHAT SOME MORE ABOUT MONEY 
Sign up for our free and exclusive Letters for Creatives emails straight to your inbox. This Friday I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes insights on how I’m trying to break through my own upper-limit as a creative entrepreneur. I’ll also be sharing a Money Mojo PDF worksheet so you can start to have important money conversations with yourself as well. And as always, we love to keep the conversation going on Facebook – be sure to like us here. 

And finally, check out our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embracing Your Expertise and Attracting What You Track which will be in-session June 20-29. In this ECourse we share our number one tool for manifesting dream clients with cash. It’s a method that’s not only worked for us but for our friends and clients as well. You can learn more and register here. 

Or check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives email series. It’s more dreamy insight, delivered straight to your inbox over the course of 4 weeks.

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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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