I have an incredibly talented friend (and former Braid client) who makes a living as a professional photographer. We were recently hanging out and she was sharing her business insights and frustrations alike with me. This friend of mine is incredibly grateful for the clients she has, the reputation she’s building, and the work she is getting, but like any creative entrepreneur, there are seasons when she’s racking her brain to come up with new tactics and ideas to book her schedule solid with dream clients. Since chatting with my friend, I’ve been racking my brain thinking of ways she can get more clients too. So this post is for her (but I have a feeling it might help you too).
It’s easy enough to say “I want more clients,” which was what my friend was originally expressing in her frustrations, but that’s not an easily measurable goal. So I asked my friend over the course of our conversation to get more specific and she said, “I want to book 20 weddings this year.” Okay! Now we have a number to work with. 20 weddings a year = 5 per quarter.
1B. MAKE SPACE FOR YOUR GOALS
My favorite tool for making my goals visual is The Chalkboard Method. So I would advise my friend to create her own chalkboard pronto. (Seriously, it works.)
Knowing that booking weddings are her goal, she can now put her efforts toward booking couples getting married. However, before you even begin marketing toward those brides or grooms, begin nurturing your relationships with wedding venues, event planners, florists, and caterers. These are the folks that are going to recommend you and help you create a name for yourself within the industry. Here are just a couple ideas for nurturing those valuable relationships:
Gay marriage is still newly legal (yay!) which means a lot more gay couples are getting, well, married. My friend was telling me how much she’d love to photograph more LGBTQ couples, and many LGBTQ couples shopping for vendors are cautiously looking for folks who will be enthusiastic and supportive of their union. My friend already has LGBTQ couples in her portfolio, but using gender-neutral language when talking about couples, and explicitly telling her potential clients on your website that she is LGBTQ friendly could go a long way in getting more dream clients.
My photographer friend takes really amazing boudoir-style shots of women out in nature. So, while she wants more weddings (that pay the bills!) my thought is to ask brides if they’d be game for a sexy shoot they can surprise their spouse-to-be with. Including the kind of photos you want to be known for in the packages you’re already getting hired for is a great way to boost your portfolio with the kind of work you want to be known for.
The other day I noticed that my friend has over 20k followers on Instagram, and she’s great about consistently posting, but wasn’t so great at explicitly reminding her audience to hire her. She was unsure about bombarding her followers with calls to action. but creative professionals have to make a living by consistently selling themselves. You can’t worry too much about what other people might think when your livelihood is at stake. Trust that people want to hire you, they just need to be consistently reminded that you are available.
These are little nuggets of advice that are simple enough and can make a big difference in your bottom line. I hope these not only help my photographer friend land more dream clients but that you’re able to take away a few tidbits you can apply to your own small business.
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Branding is not just a logo. Branding is not just consistent typography and colors. Branding is not just your brushed up mission statement. Branding is not just your website, your business card, or your email signature.
Branding can include all these things. But branding can also be so much more. That’s great news for your business, especially if you can create a brand that really captures your voice, your purpose, and what you want to be known and hired for.
The problem we face when we start to really see the whole picture our brand can paint for us is getting overwhelmed by the scope of it all.
We find ourselves asking:
“Do I already have a brand?”
“Do I need a better brand?”
“How much money, time, or energy do I really need to devote to my branding?”
“And once I do get my branding where it needs to be… how do I market myself?”
“Where does branding end and marketing to my dream clients begin?”
Is there a shortcut to getting your brand in shape?
Nope, no branding shortcuts here, but I can share with you some brand places you can start shaping up in the short term, with some guidance that can help you get there in the long term.
Your brand starts with your positioning message. But it’s gotta be straightforward and it’s gotta sound real.
This is your positioning statement. Do you know yours? Your positioning really pays in the first conversations and the first impressions your brand is sharing online and in person. Your positioning is being able to tell people what you do – in an instant. Write yours in two sentences – three tops. Be straight, be clear, then pepper in your personality with words that actually sound and feel like you. No corporate speak. No over-the-top puppies and rainbows either. Shape this statement up. It pays in so many ways.
Bonus branding points? Go in and rewrite your about me page to feel like an expanded version of your positioning statement. But this is where you can really feel more like “you” and add in layers of your own relatability, your own purpose, and how this relates to your dream clients. I like to even think of this like a “letter to your dream clients from me, a relatable expert who understands you.”
Your brand will inspire and attract your dream clients if you can start to share content that speaks to them.
Guess what, the more specific you can get about your dream client’s wants, needs, pains, hopes, dreams, and personality – the more you can share content that gets them inspired, gets them feeling like they are understood, and inspired to learn more about working with you. Your content can be blog posts, social media posts, or even just the content on your site. Your content should be a mix of your personal voice + your professional expertise. If you’re wondering where branding ends and marketing begins (i.e. “how do I go out and find my dream clients?”) then this is the best place to start. Meet your dream clients where they’re already engaging in content – but if you don’t have a message to share, then what’s the point of reaching them?
Once you’ve attracted & inspired your dream clients, do you know what you’re selling them? Do they know how to hire you? Is this the work you want to be known for?
Maybe knock it off with the a la carte menu of services – half of which you don’t even want to really do, but you include them because you feel like you have to show “you can do it all!” Think about the one package you want to sell. You can still provide the other stuff, but this is just an aside. What if you had to rewrite your how-to-hire-me page to really push one offering big, then think of the other services as “also’s and others” that take up maybe just the last 10% of your sales copy – a footnote really! The same goes for your portfolio pieces, testimonials and case studies. Only share the examples of work that you want to keep attracting, or you’ll just keep getting hired for work you don’t want to be doing anymore – because your brand is telling people that’s what you do.
Your vision, your positioning, your personal + professional voice, and your packaged offering are the most important foundation layers of your brand. This is the brand work you can create for yourself because they come from you! But steps and guidance along the way sure help!
Then you can worry about your logo, your colors, your type, your images, your website, your business card, (heck, your email signature!) even the tactical pieces of your marketing strategy.
Getting your brand feeling like you and feeling legit, is never a short and sweet process. In fact, these three big areas above aren’t so short at all are they? If you find yourself needing some support and guidance, these are exactly the areas we’ll be guiding you through in the Braid Method Branding ECourse for positioning yourself, defining your personal + professional blend, getting your business vision out of your head, on paper, and reaching your dream clients as the kind of creative entrepreneur you really want to be.
If you want to get serious about positioning, our Braid Method Branding ECourse will help you do exactly that. It will help you get to know yourself, what you’re good at, the image you portray, who you like working with and can really help, things you’re doing that are confusing or hurting your ability to focus on your area of genius, your method of working with clients, how to tell people what you do, and focusing in on your message so you can do some effective content marketing. Check it out here >>
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Branding can sometimes feel like a luxury, only reserved for the times when we have the mental energy, money, or even space on our to-do list to devote to a worthy (but not exactly a necessary?) investment for our business. Branding might not be at the top of our list when we’re trying to decide how we are going to spend our hard earned dollars. Do we invest back in our business or back in our savings account? Do we spend our time getting our brand looking beautiful and legit, or do we just put our head back down and get to work!?
Branding can sometimes feel like a big process and a lot to bite off. But positioning? Positioning is a muscle you can exercise every day. And positioning pays.
Kinda sounds like I’m making branding sound like a chore. But once you commit to updating your messages, your images, your identity – a new brand that really feels like you as a person and a professional can feel so energizing, clarifying, and confident-boosting!
And if you’re working with brand experts who really make you feel heard + guide you along the way, going through a branding process can actually be the most inspiring time you spend on your own business in a long long time! (Ahem, disclaimer that was blatant Braid self-promotion! But that doesn’t make it untrue!)
But what if you’re just not mentally or fiscally “brand-ready” right now? Perhaps because:
Ok, great! I hear you. And I agree with you. Put that brand talk on pause, please! This is where I want to talk to you about your positioning.
Positioning is being able to clearly & confidently tell people in an instant what you do:
Sharing your business positioning should feel like second nature, so it feels natural to talk about, write about, and adapt to any situation.
Let me break this out a little more so you can give it a try yourself. How clearly you can write your positioning for each of these points below? Or better yet, test that inner voice of yours in the moment! (But use the excited inner voice, not the tired one.) See if you can express in one sentence or less an explanation for:
1. What You Do in a way anyone can understand in an instant—the simplest “label or title.”
2. Who You Do It For so they get a sense if they are a fit. Even if you’re not niched or specialized, you can still give people a sense of the kinds of people or businesses you work with, come on! You can always narrow in with specifics and broaden back out later in your conversation, in your website, in your email, or whatever form of communication you’re using to convey your positioning in an instant!
3. Why You Are Doing It so you feel like a person with a purpose, not just a robot, resume, or a talking sales page.
4. How You Go About Doing This ALL THE TIME so you don’t sound like you’re just winging it. This shouldn’t be your process listed out in laborious detail. This is just you giving a hint of your approach, a behind-the-scenes sense of the work you do, or even the experience that unfolds for your clients along the way. This last one is where the magic happens, but it’s a bonus. It’s not going to be in every introduction, but it better be the next layer! Or else your positioning may just position you as an order taker instead of the guiding expert you are!
How does knowing and clearing articulating your positioning really pay off? Let me count the ways. Okay, actually, let me just tell you how it pays off for me.
Guess what? Uncovering our clients’ positioning before we ever develop the outward facing messaging, design, look and feel of their brand is 75%—if not more—of the work we do at Braid as guiding experts with that outside perspective. And positioning is the core and the biggest outcome of our Braid ECourse. Because stronger, clearer positioning is also the part you can do yourself.
Check what’s included in our Braid Method Branding ECourse, and see if it’s a fit for you. While you’re hanging out on the page, a 7 Ways to Brand You + What You Do free ebook download will pop up at you. (Pssst… download it! It’s chock full of scripts that can help you with your POSITIONING!)
And of course, if you want to inquire about working 1:1 with Braid on your business visioning, positioning and brand platform contact us here.
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