“People buy from people. That’s what personal branding is all about.” (click to tweet)
Okay, the buying part isn’t what it’s all about, but it sure is a good reason to give your personal brand some thought and attention. Personal branding at it’s core is about genuine confidence. Having a good sense of your personal brand (your voice, your point of view, your style) gives you confidence to put yourself out there in conversations, in the content you write, post, send, and even the way you work with your clients—as a creative with something to say, and as a creative entrepreneur.
Tara here. What really sparked this post is a recent monthly masterclass Kathleen and I held breaking down our personal branding exercises for our Braid ECourse creatives. They had lots of great questions in the live webinar, and a lot it came down to knowing how much or how little to really put out there, and the hesitation we can all feel when it comes to really “owning” our personal brand.
So when we say your personal brand helps people buy from you – as a person – what we’re trying to help creatives understand is you don’t have to be all cold and “businessy” (hide behind stiff or overly-clever businessy language or branding) to get hired, get paid, and grow a legit business of your own. You and your business can (and in most cases, should) convey your own unique personal + professional blend because people buy from people. But finding that special blend isn’t always easy.
If you are creating a business for yourself, most likely you already have a personal brand, but you could be sharing it better... OR you don’t feel like you have a personal brand to share, but know you want to develop yours more intentionally and genuinely.
Most of the creatives we work with are already completely aboard the personal branding train. They are using their own name as their business name, they are trying to get their personality and style across on their website and in their social media “places.” They are ready to start tooting their personal brand horn and chugging down their business vision tracks! But something is stalling them.
If they are just starting out for the first time they may be stuck in the station, or if they’ve been doing this for a while now they may be stuck at a crossing – waiting for something or someone to give them the signal that they’ve got what it takes to make this journey on their own steam and on their own terms.
Don’t get stalled out. It’s not as overwhelming as it seems. Ultimately a personal brand is about:
If you are feeling stalled out or stuck around your personal brand, your business vision, and just putting it out there in a way that feels right to you, then go through this checklist above. See if you can pinpoint the few that are giving you pause. Can you tackle just one of them?
For example, some personal branding actions you can take now:
- get more of your style infused in your portfolio
- let go of some of the stuffy rules of professionalism that are making your emails too stiff
- weed out the language on your website that doesn’t feel genuine to your true voice (a few of the culprits we see are: too generic-robot-strategic, too over-the-top-inspiring-empowering, too lovely-amazing-cutesy-fabulous)
- start sharing more behind-the-scenes of your creative process, expertise, projects or even patterns you see in your profession
Not only will tackling one, or even all, of the above, help you better define and refine your personal brand – they will also help position you as the creative expert you are, or want to become.
Personal Branding is just one of the many lessons in our Braid Method Branding ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs. The lessons include:
Kathleen and I will be hosting a live webinar masterclass every month to breakdown the worksheets (40 included in the course) and answer questions. Next month, December, we’ll be talking more in depth about Your Creative Expertise and narrowing in on your specialty, one of my personal favorites.
So if you’ve been thinking about doing some work around your business vision and brand, check out our super-comprehensive Braid ECourse. Or, if you want to baby-step into it a little (like what do you even want your ideal working day and life to look like in the first place?!) you might try our DIY Coaching for Creatives email series.
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As creative entrepreneurs, so many of us share content to advise, inspire (or simply share what we’re going through) with people who might find it useful, thought-provoking, comfortably relatable, or freaking inspiring! So here’s a question that came up for us around sharing yourself online in our Braid ECourse masterclass webinar last week, and it may be one you’ve asked yourself as well:
“I struggle a bit between sharing struggles and sharing successes online. I feel like when I share struggles, people aren’t going to want to hire me, as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. When I share successes, I fear that I’ll sound a bit braggy. Does anyone else struggle with this?” – Julie | Braid ECourse Masterclasser
Tara here. Oh man, that’s a good one! You don’t want to sabotage your own put-togetherness—the “I got this” confidence that instills trust in those who want to pay you to help them and do right by them. On the flip-side, you don’t want to be off-putting to the followers, friends, and peers in your sharing circles by getting too braggy and boastful about your successes.
We hear you! We all want to be authentic, to get real about the good stuff, and the bad, in our blog posts, newsletters, social media, and other sharing places. So what are the boundaries? What is the balance between letting people in on your “behind-the-scenes” vs. inviting them into your “dear diary land?”
We talked about this very kind of boundary-defining in “Sharing Your Stories and Finding Your Boundaries” in last week’s blog post. But let’s dig into this even more specific “struggles vs. successes” question here.
SHARING STRUGGLES & SUCCESSES:
Yes, you want to think about the boundaries of how much you will or won’t share online. Know your spectrum of sharing-a-little or sharing-a-ton, whether that’s in the realm of “I feel a bit like a fraud today,” or “I’m freaking awesome today!!”
But also think about the different platforms you’re sharing within, as a framework for the kind of content you’re sharing in the first place. A breakdown of your sharing places might include two, three, or even all (whoa!) of these platforms:
- your talk: if you’re a speaker
- your courses or classes: if you have a learning product
- your posts: if you blog or podcast
- your newsletter: if you have an email list
- your social media platforms: Instgram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
There’s always a mix of the kind of content you share within each platform, but ask yourself these questions thinking about what kind of content you share the MOST (or want to share the most) in these different places:
What platform are you selling from the most?
What platform are you teaching from the most?
What platform are you sharing your own behind-the-scenes from the most?
Which one gives you the most confidence? You might consider ramping up how much you share from this platform, and really “own” it.
Which one are you the most afraid of judgement within? That’s okay, too! You might consider not sharing there if you’re already spread thin.
Think about the different platforms you’re sharing in as a framework for the kind of content you’re sharing in the first place. (click to tweet)
Your Selling Platform: is where you should be sharing more of your expert positioning and general put-togetherness—and not sharing so much of your struggles. Unless! You’ve already worked through the solution. In that case it then it becomes a relatable struggle that you’ve used to create a product, offering, or service people can buy... to solve it for them, too.
What about successes? If they are successes that directly helped shape your product or service, sure. But if it’s just “look what I won,” or “look how many enrollees I got,” it may just come off as self-serving and salesy. There’s still a place for successes though! We want you to celebrate those, too. So read on...
Your Teaching Platform:
is where you should be sharing advice, how-to’s, inspiration, those same relatable struggles (you’ve already solved) and your successes if they’ve contributed to how you’ve solved this problem. Usually if you’re using a platform to teach, you are able to give more context, depth and layers to what you’re talking about from your own point of view vs. your selling platform where you want to keep it short, sweet, confident and resonating with your dream client.
Your Behind-The-Scenes Platform:
is where you can get more struggle and successes for sure. But again, less Dear Diary and more like a candid peek behind the curtain into the journey you are on. The biggest thing we can say about this platform is this: “share the success and failure stuff in a place you feel ‘your people’ who support you, believe in you, learn from you, love you – already are.
“Where do you sell? share? teach? There’s always a mix, but if you can think of your blog, for example, as one kind of sharing, and your newsletter as another – you might feel more reassured that you aren’t over-sharing or boundary-crossing with your people!”
With Braid, our breakdown looks a bit like this, for example:
Our Newsletter: is more our behind the scenes platform, what we’re experimenting with along the way, struggles and successes included (to ‘our people,’ who have already opted in – i.e. chosen to come along on this journey with us!)
Podcasting: for Kathleen is a mix of all these kinds of content, because she lives more on the “robust” end of the online sharing spectrum (ha!)
One-On-One Conversations: for me, I might only share a mix of this kind of content Kathleen is sharing in one-to-many platforms in one-on-one sharing conversations like at a retreat, conference or with our clients in more personal settings, as I land on the more “introverted” end of the online sharing spectrum (and that’s ok if you do, too!)
I hope this post can help you continue to share your struggles and successes – and still get hired for what you love and what you do best!
If you like the kind of breakdowns we share here, if “chunking it out” helps you make decisions you’ve been struggling with as a creative entrepreneur doing it on your own, you might check out our Braid Branding ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs.
Or if you are starting to feel the inkling to invest in your brand and business vision, turn into a serious itch – contact me here, and let’s see if we’re a fit!
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We’ve posted in the past about sharing yourself online and blending personal and professional on your online sharing space, but when we talk about our specialty: blending YOU into what you do—or creating a business around your personal brand, we often get questions about where to set your boundaries:
How do I bring more of me into my branding and work by sharing more than just the curated highlights of my life, but also have boundaries so I don’t end up Instagramming every aspect of my life? And what’s more: How will I know which details of my life are and are not interesting to my followers?
Kathleen here. I used to be an open book when it comes to sharing online – so it was easy for me to tell my clients and audience “You do you! Put it out there and don’t apologize for it!” … and then I became a mom. My boundaries shifted big time but I had no idea where the lines were drawn. Was I sharing too much? Not enough? Pre-baby I was totally cool fumbling through life in plain view of the whole world. But now? Not so much. Through this experience I developed compassion for creatives who were asking me where to draw the line when it comes to their own sharing boundaries. So this post isn’t just for you – it’s for me too. My boundaries have changed but I still very much have a story to tell. Here are five ways you can “keep it real” while also respecting your ever-evolving boundaries.
1. USE YOUR WORDS
I always tell folks to start by using words they actually use in real life. For example, you say "horseshit!" a lot? Say it online too. You say "rad" or "word" in real life? Say it online. If you don't say things like "lovely" or "delightful" or "effing" then DON'T say those online. Make sense? For example, I never say “folks” in real life, but have been hearing other people say it a lot so I thought I’d try it on for size. It doesn’t feel entirely authentic so I was going to change it – but instead I decided to leave it in so I could prove this point.
2. BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT WHAT’S CHANGING
When people come to know you for something it can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing to share something new with them. They’ve come to expect one thing from you and you’ve gotten used to delivering on that promise. So if something has changed … then literally acknowledge the change itself. For example, you might post something like "You already know me for my outfits. And you know I like to cook. But here's what I want to share with you about who I am today... " And then fill in the rest with your honest truth.
Another trick up my sleeve is that I'll often start a post by typing out "What I really want to say is..." and start typing. THEN after I'm finished I'll erase that first "What I really want to say is...". But what typing “what I really want to say” does for me is trigger my authentic self to shine. It just helps me get to the point.
3. SHARE THE STORIES YOU TELL AT PARTIES
We all have our stories. The embarrassing ones, the sweet ones, the hilarious observations ... start sharing the kinds of stories you would tell friends at a party (but with acquaintances) overhearing too.
4. FIND YOUR BOUNDARIES BY BUMPING UP AGAINST THEM
Sometimes the only way you can know what your boundaries are is to get right up to the edge of them – and sometimes even cross the line. (click to tweet)
Sometimes I'll post something and know I could've gone further. Other times I'll post something and a day later feel as if I went just a little too far. This is the part of sharing who you are that takes a little bit of courage, trust, and curiosity. The point is… testing your boundaries is sometimes the best way to figure out what your boundaries are. It’s not always easy and it might give you a vulnerability hangover from time-to-time but it’s a part of the process.
5. IS IT HONEST?
One tool I use, specifically when writing, is asking myself "Is that true?" – from the words I use to the way I describe an experience.
Getting to the honest truth is what resonates authenticity. (click to tweet)
My writing is a constant test in getting more honest. Not in a "I'm making this up" or straight up lying ... but getting what I'm thinking and feeling to translate on the page can be tricky. I found that getting what I really want to say across is easiest when I ask myself "Is this true? How could I say it in a more honest way?" – it's a bit like mining gold. Not that I know what mining gold is like at all (see, there's that honest part!)
Now go write! Share!
If this was helpful for you, make sure you check out our Braid Method Branding ECourse. Not only does this course help you gain some clarity about what your offerings are and how to tell people to hire you, but it can also help you organize your ideas and your branding voice so that when it comes to sharing online, you have a better idea of what your audience wants to know versus what you should save just for you.
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