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How to Narrow in and Claim Your Creative Focus | Braid Creative

Claim your creative focus | Braid Creative & Consulting

In our last blog post, we wrote about why and when you should be narrowing in and getting specific about what you want to be known for. Easier said than done, right? We've talked enough about narrowing in on your creative focus that we think you understand that it's an important thing to do in your business, but understand that something is important and actually doing it?—well that's where it gets a little tricky.

We shared a lot of WHY’s to narrow in and find what you want to be known for, let’s talk about some HOWs:
In our Braid Method Branding Ecourse, we talk about HOW to really narrow in and claim your creative expertise:

1. Diffusion & Confusion Culprits:

If you are good at “all the things,” and you’re having trouble deciding where to focus:
- List out all the ideas in your head that are making you feel scattered and causing diffusion of your own focus. See which ones you can put on the backburner for now.
- List out the different ways you’re describing or not clearly describing what you actually do that’s causing confusion for potential clients. See if you can get the five different bullets you’re using to describe what you do down to even two or three.

2. What Do You Want to Be Doing All Day?:

If the diffusion and confusion lists still have you feeling uncertain or overwhelmed or not willing to “let go” of some of the wider services you provide or wider pool of people you provide them for, ask yourself this “What do you want to be doing all day?” “Who do you want to be doing it for?”

What do you want to be doing all day? Who do you want to help? | Braid Creative & Consulting

3. Fill out Your Gift Tag:

This is one of the most challenging exercises we give our clients. But if you’ve done steps 1 & 2, give it a try. It’s a super-short version of some of the longer scripts we give creatives to help them better articulate their business and their brand. But that’s why it’s hard, because it is so short! We call it a gift tag because it’s the label on your package! It tells people what to expect before they open it & reminds you what it is you have to give!

Fill Out Your Gift Tag:
How to _____ [ advice, know-how, inspiration you share ]
From a _____ [ what you want to be known for! what you do + a little bit about you]
To a _______ [ dream client like you! ]
*Another similar version of this exercise that might be a little easier, is If You Wrote a How-To Book, what would the title be? The chapters? What would people “get” from your chapters? Which section of the book store would it be in? How would your personality or personal story show up among all the good tips, advice or inspiration you are sharing?

DOWNLOAD: WRITE A BOOK WORKSHEET

What would be the chapter titles in your how-to book? | Braid Creative & Consulting

4. Your Process i.e. The Steps You Always Take

Guess what? If you tried out the If You Wrote a Book exercise, you may have just framed out your creative process (the ingredients or steps you take every time when working with a client) and you didn’t even know it! Defining your Creative Process is like Owning Your Expertise 2.0. You’ve put the intention out there to narrow in, get specialized and get known for doing this very specific service. But if you can really build a framework for HOW you do it, and stick to those steps every time, it’s like every time you work with a client you are sharpening your expertise, building your confidence, giving them even more benefit of your knowledge and specialization! It’s a win-win for any creative working for themselves (and their client!) who wants to craft a business of their own making instead of feeling like a helper for hire.

If you can believe it, we get even more specific (ha! see what I did there?) about defining your creative expertise and narrowing in on your specialty in our Braid Method Branding Ecourse. So if you found this post helpful, make sure to opt in to the full ecourse!

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.

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How to Get From Order-Taker to Creative Expert | Braid Creative

How to Get From Order-Taker to Creative Expert

Okay, so you’re good at what you do. You know you’re talented and are confident in your craft. But when you rely solely on your skills it’s easy to fall into the role of the order-taker who is exchanging talent or time for money. Whereas, when you are an expert you are hired and paid for your experience, knowledge, and ideas. How do you go from selling what you do to getting hired for what you know? There isn’t a super clear path or step-by-step formula to level-up your game. But I’d like to share a few ideas to make the transition from talented doer to an expert with purpose.

GET SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT 
There is probably a broad label for what you actually do – like photography, graphic design, interior decorating, coding, writing, yoga, or cooking. But can you get really specific about what makes you a great designer, photographer, writer, developer, or cook? Maybe it’s your use of color or typography. Maybe it’s your knack at capturing light or blending really interesting flavor combinations. 

What you’re good at – your craft and your style – is typically what you’re being hired for. And getting really great at what you do is a good place to start. If you’re fresh out of school or new to your creative field it’s not a bad idea to focus on getting really good at your craft. 

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR “HIGHER PURPOSE” 
Your skills are really important but it still puts you in the position of being an order-taker if you’re not clear on your expertise. Plus, calling yourself an expert can feel funny if you don’t well… feel like an expert. So instead try thinking of your expertise as your higher purpose. A higher purpose doesn’t have to be super-woo-woo, or super-ambitious. It simply means why you do what you do. 

How to become a creative expert

When I first started down my path as a graphic designer I just wanted to be a rockstar at my craft – like Stefan Sagmeister or Jessica Hische. But when I started blogging about life as a freelance graphic designer I quickly realized my higher purpose was to be who I am 100% of the time in work and life. This purpose pours into what I consider my expertise, and that’s not design alone, but helping others blend that same 100% being who they are into their own personal brand. Design is just one tool to help me with the doing. You have similar talents or tools as a doer, too. Don’t stop using them, but try seeing the higher purpose they’re helping you reach over time.

Creative entrepreneur purpose

USE YOUR SKILLS (THE STUFF YOU’RE GOOD AT) TO SHARE YOUR PURPOSE
My skills are in graphic design and as a freelance designer I was being hired to design brand identities, logos, and websites. But I also started using my skills in color, typography, and imagery to tell my own story and share my ideas on my blog. I never felt like an expert until over time, by consistently pairing design and idea-sharing on my blog, I began to attract a tribe of creative comrades and clients who felt inspired and encouraged by what I was putting out there. You don’t necessarily need a blog to share your expertise – it can happen over social media, with a podcast or youtube channel, at conferences and workshops, or in face-to-face conversations. 

Creative expert formula

THEN JUST GET ON WITH IT! (HINT: IT TAKES TIME)
I wish I had a silver bullet that would instantly make every creative feel more confident and skilled at what they do. But the hard truth is that it takes time. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who said in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at what you do. And in a less cerebral coffee table book about the rise and fame of Lady Gaga she said that she worked hard and kept her head down – then one day someone tapped her on the shoulder, she looked up, and she was number one. 

In that first hour you are going to feel like anything but an expert and that’s okay – you have to begin somewhere.  But it’s the one tried and true way I’ve seen hundreds of creatives who work for themselves make that real transition into not only feeling like an expert, but looking up over their shoulder, and finally realizing they are being seen as one. And heck yeah, it feels good to consider myself as one of them. It’s a humble “heck yeah” of course, with 10,000 hours behind me, and yet another 10,000+ and counting still in front. But all the work I do in those future hours won’t be as “hired talent,” but as an expert.

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.

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We were sharing our key takeaways and “ah-ha” moments during the closing session at DesignerVACA (it’s like summer camp in fabulous Palm Springs for graphic designers) when one designer said something along the lines of coming to DesignerVACA to learn freelancing tips and tricks but was surprised to come away with her tribe. She said she had underestimated how important it was to connect with comrades and would be searching for more of “her people” once she returned home. And then just this week one of my creative coaching clients asked me how she can build her following and find her tribe. So that’s what I want to talk about this week: how to find and build your tribe. 

WHO IS YOUR TRIBE?
Think of your tribe as a layered onion. The outer layer might be blog readers, Instagram followers, and friendly acquaintances at the coffee shop. The next layer in might be people you only know from the internet but refer to as friends – for example, your husband or girlfriend might know this person by name and/or Twitter handle because you refer to them often enough. The next layer in might be IRL (that stands for In Real Life) friends – the ones you’ve met at conferences, workshops, or retreats and keep in touch with via social media. After that you might find the people you’re in the trenches with – your co-workers, business partners, and creative collaborators. Then there are you close friends – the ones you text your secrets to and have 5-hour long brunches with. The closer you get to the core of the onion the closer your tribe becomes – for me these are my best friends and family – pretty much the people who have seen me ugly cry. 

So how do you build those layers of your tribe? Here’s how I’ve done it: 



1. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR GIFTS OF KNOWLEDGE
Whether it’s giving a talk or hitting publish on a blog post – create and share meaningful content that will somehow make your audience’s life a little better – even if it’s just one person. 

2. START TALKING (AND COMMENTING) 
How often do you comment on your favorite blogs? Or how often do you create a conversation with someone you admire on Facebook or Twitter? Once a week I make it a goal of mine to comment on every blog post or hit “reply” to every newsletter I read that day.  

3. ATTEND CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, AND RETREATS
It can be expensive to travel but I have never once regretted the money I’ve spent to attend a creative conference, workshop, or retreat. It always connects me with the people I’m supposed to be friends with (and the bloggers I leave comments with). Plus, every time I make an investment to travel it has more than paid for itself with new business opportunities. 

4. SUPPORT YOUR TRIBE WITH YOUR DOLLARS
When your friends or clients launch new products or services that you want or need don’t hesitate to click “buy”. I believe this creates good commerce karma between creatives. 

5. HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER 
Your tribe wants to support you too! They just need to know how. Package up your offerings in a way that people know how to buy – and let them know about it! 

BUILDING YOUR TRIBE STARTS SMALL 
The most important thing to remember when it comes to finding your tribe is to start small. It starts with commenting on one blog, making one new friend at a conference or workshop, or having one really great conversation at the coffee shop with a creative friend. 

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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.

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Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and visioning for creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for getting clear about your vision and voice, sharing content that attracts your dream client, and creating the brand positioning you want to be known for.

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