Kathleen here. You already know that Tara and I are creatives who work for ourselves doing branding, consulting, coaching, writing & design, and podcasting. But you may not know that our brother, Donny, works for himself too. He’s a performer who specializes in sideshow—he hammers nails into his head, breathes fire, and swallows swords…for a living. He’s a classic creative where he loves doing the work, but he hates the business side of things. Marketing, planning, counting money—it’s just not his thing.
So this last week we were all on a family vacation together in Seaside, Florida and my brother had a potential gig offer performing at a popular festival that he had 24 hours to decide on. The biggest problem was…they weren’t offering enough money. And when you are a sideshow performer for a living you typically take what you can get. Work is work, right?
I’ve become quite the business woman since starting Braid and negotiating sponsor contracts over on my podcast at Being Boss. So I consulted with my brother and asked “Why don’t you just ask for more money?” He didn’t want to be greedy or inconvenient or piss off a great contact by asking for more money to do what he loves for a living. You don’t have to be swallowing swords to relate. I think we’ve all felt this way at one time or another.
So here are a few questions to ask when it comes to negotiating what you’re worth – and these are literally questions I asked my brother on our family vacation:
These questions started a deeper conversation. A conversation that didn’t end between me and my brother but extended to him and his potential employer. He followed up by thanking the contact for thinking of him, stating how much he typically likes to make per gig, expressed how much he would like to work at this festival, and then asked if there was any wiggle room in the budget. I think my brother’s biggest fear is the guy would come back and say, “FORGET IT.” But what he got in return was, “I know you are worth so much more and I’m so sorry I couldn’t offer more. I can give you $XXX more per day, but that really brings me to the limit of what I’ve budgeted.”
The increased fee was just enough to take my brother’s decision from an “I don’t think so…” to a “yes.” It’s not quite what he’d like to be making but here’s what he’s getting in return: now the contact knows that my brother is almost doing him a favor (vs. the other way around), knows what he’s worth for future gigs, and will treat my brother like the professional he is moving forward. Because professionals negotiate their worth. And hopefully now my brother knows he can always ask for more money without pissing someone off.
Photo of Donny via Shannon Brooke Imagery
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Growing followers, a likeminded group of people who relate to your message, who value what you can share with them, and who want to engage in the conversation you’re putting out there – for so many of us this is how we dream of genuinely helping others, while positioning ourselves as inspiring creatives entrepreneurs that people want to subscribe to, buy from, trust and hire.
Tara here! And this sharing of ourselves and our content is what we’ve all been taught. I’m not here to disagree, it’s what I do too (literally, I’m doing it right now writing to you, “duh” as my eight year old says about every five seconds lately). But I do want to add onto the content sharing formula – what happens after you attract people to you? How does this translate into a business, an expertise, a person people trust?
What happens after you attract people to you? After you get noticed, how do you get hired?
Yeah, we want to put our personality and our point of view out there. Do it consistently and with passion, and over time the followers, subscribers, clients – will come. But part of the allure of “being the one who attracts” is more than just building a list. I think it may be socially wired into us (it probably started right around when we were eight years old, too) and has nothing to do with getting the clicks or closing the deal, but simply feeling like a big deal.
Whether through our newsletter, blog, Instagram posts, or in the face-to-face retreats or professional mixers we attend – don’t we all want to feel like the coolest most interesting gal at the party, with everyone wanting to shimmy on over and pick our brain?
This is getting noticed, and if we do it consistently, it’s becoming known for what it is we talk about, teach, or just make people feel good about. I know not all of us want to be that extroverted or sparkly when we’re doing it. That’s okay too. The nerdiest art director I ever had on my creative team—mad scientist hair, coke bottle glasses, goofy adorable grin, totally awkward in any social situation—uh, our clients freaking loved him. Get him started on a subject he loves and cares about (in the presentation to a boardroom I’m recalling, it was the idea of using interactive gameplay to engage your brand audience, whatever, I don’t even know what he said) and poof, people are entranced. He is being his most inspiring self in the moments when he’s sharing what he really knows, what he really cares about, in his own goofy style.
Okay, so inspiring people is great and all, but what about getting hired? Or getting people to click buy, sign up, and subscribe? Did those corporate suits sign off on what goofy guy was getting them all feeling good about? I don’t even remember! But that’s the point, because I do remember they asked for him to be their lead creative, and always wanted him in the meetings. Because even if his wild idea wasn’t their cup of tea, his passion was contagious, and his logical guiding approach—talking them through a subject they’d never even heard about—positioned himself ever-after in their minds as an eccentric but expert art director they wanted at their table.
The shift from inspiring to guiding happens in our content and in our conversations. When we get great at it, these two sides of our voice blend together like – well, like the personal brand we want to be known for and the expertise we want to get hired for.
I was recently hosting a round table with a group of creative entrepreneurs – a web designer, a brand consultant, a lawyer for creatives, and a leadership coach were some of the sparkly, inspiring, ladies at the table – but I knew they each had this expert “guide” within them, too.
Here’s a down and dirty exercise I shared with them to help frame up how we get noticed and how we get hired:
HOW I INSPIRE OTHERS (i.e. get noticed):
Complete these sentences. Clients (or followers, or even new acquaintances) are first attracted to, or inspired by, my personality + professional style, which is an Inspiring Mix of:
a. ________, b.________, c.________!
The personal motto that motivates and inspires me, and that I love sharing with others is:
HOW I GUIDE OTHERS (i.e. get hired):
Complete these sentences. Once my clients get to know me, or work with me, they trust my expertise which is a Guiding Mix of: a. ________, b.________, c.________.
The best piece of professional advice I practice myself and share with others is:
Now think about your Inspiring Mix showing up in places like your website headlines, brand messages, blog post introductions, and titles. Think about your Guiding Mix showing up in your sales pages, your newsletters, and your selling conversations with new clients. But really, it’s all about practicing the mix of inspiring and guiding. That’s when we get to create a business for ourselves that is a blend of who we are, and what we do.
If you want more how-to’s and insights into getting noticed and getting hired, be sure you're signed up for our weekly Letters for Creatives, and if you're ready to work with us one-on-one to develop your brand and really get you noticed, check out our work and give us a shout!
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One of my favorite things about working with creative entrepreneurs and aspiring-to-be’s, is getting to brainstorm what a super dreamy life looks like.
For some creatives it’s the ideal morning that involves white sheets, french pressed coffee, fresh air, and loads of journaling. For others it’s traveling the world. For most creatives I work with though, a dream life is about a feeling of confidence, courage, and creativity. Or something along those lines. When it comes to making that feeling a reality it’s my job, as a creative coach, to ask:
What does that look like?
This question always throws my clients for a loop. “What do you mean?” is typically how they’ll respond.
What I mean is what does confidence look like? What does inspired look like? What does courage, creativity, productivity, joy, peace, happiness, excitement, and love look like? If you can build visuals, textures, and actions around the feelings you can start to bring them into your life on the daily.
Try this: Take out a blank piece of paper and write down 3-5 things you want to feel as you move through life. Or even better, write down a LOT of things you want to feel and then circle 3-5 that really stand out to you.
Then make these feelings real by trying the following exercises:
1. A Cast of Characters
Under each feeling make a list of people who you think embody that feeling and briefly describe how or why. This person can be fictional, historical, a friend or family member, another blogger, or a celebrity. So for example, let’s say the feeling you want to cultivate is “brave”. Make a list of the bravest people you know and specifically why they are brave. Is it because they have a cool wardrobe that you could never pull off? Do they travel solo? Or did they quit their day job to chase the dream?
Once you make this list draw inspiration from these people. Let’s say Amelia Earhart was your character for “brave”. When you’re feeling afraid you can simply ask yourself “What would Amelia Earhart do?” Or you can say “I am Amelia.” to steel some courage. Kathleen Hanna (the lead singer of Bikini Kill) used this very technique when she found herself needing some thicker skin when it came to her critics and internet trolls so she declared “I’m Beyonce.” I love that!
Once you have your cast of characters take a few people from your lists that you could actually get ahold of to interview. Tell them “Hey so-and-so, I really admire how brave you are. I’d love to ask you a few questions about what brave means to you and how you find the courage to do all the awesome things you do.” I think you’ll be surprised to find out what they say about the very feeling you’re trying to cultivate and you’ll discover that we’re all in this together.
3. Make a Pinterest Board for each feeling
Start pinning images that represent the feeling you’re wanting to capture. It can be as abstract or as specific as you’d like. As humans we don’t actually think in words. We think in images and symbols – and those images are different for everyone. For example when I write the word “bear” you think of an animal with fur, right? What color is the fur? Where is that animal? You might be imagining a koala bear eating a eucalyptus tree while I’m imaging a brown bear giving birth in a cave. The idea is to associate the feeling concepts you want to cultivate with actual images so you can start to define, recognize, and manifest exactly what you want.
4. Check-in With Your Feelings
As you move through your day ask yourself “Does this action make me feel [insert desired feeling(s) here]?” If the answer is no an adjustment, big or small – attitude or otherwise, may need to be made. If the answer is yes then keep doing what you’re doing. And you might be surprised with your findings! For example, one of my clients wanted to make it a goal to go on a walk every morning. She imagined it would make her feel peaceful, productive, and centered. But instead her morning walks just made her feel anxious. So she stopped walking and started using her mornings to write instead. And get this – she had been feeling guilty for YEARS for not going on a morning walk.
Another one of my clients loves watching TV and was feeling bad about this guilty pleasure. But when we talked about her current obsession with Mad Men we realized that by enjoying this TV show she was feeling inspired to change her own career to be a bit more like Peggy. Just like Pinterest can help you create visuals for the life you want to live so can TV. But if channel surfing on the couch doesn’t spark your core desired feelings then it’s probably time to move on.
5. Acknowledge Your Feelings When They Happen
Finally, the best way to live the dream life is to find gratitude for your desired feelings as they’re happening. So for example, if you’re at a concert watching your favorite band take a moment to step outside of yourself and say “This is [that feeling]. This is excitement. This is inspiration. This is energy.” Or if you have a random moment of clarity (this sometimes happens to me while showering or driving) take a moment to savor it. Imprint it into your consciousness and say thanks to yourself for manifesting that moment. The more often you can recognize the desired feelings as you have them the more grateful you will be. And the more grateful you are, the happier you are.
If you like this post you might like our DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love—in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.
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