Tara here, and I want to talk about love. Specifically the word “love,” and if it has a place in your business or your brand. We all hear and see it all the time: “Do what you love!”
Everyone says “do what you love!” But does love have a place in your business?
We say it too. It’s inspiring, and it’s a reminder to make our own rules and define our own success. But I also know a lot of us pepper the word “love” into our business all the time—especially when we’re talking to a new client or a new collaborator and we want to express how we can help them.
How often do you say the word “love” in your emails or posts to your clients, prospects, or peers?
So social media posts aside, let’s talk about when you’re having that new potential client conversation. They are usually over email, the prospect is inquiring about working together, and you’re giving them a glimpse into what you do.
So here’s how—in the course of an email—I might drop in the L word without even realizing it:
“I love the vision your are sharing with us.”
“We love working with creative entrepreneurs like you.”
“I’d love to share some examples of the kind of work we do.”
“If I can walk you through the process, you’ll love what it can do for your vision, your positioning, and your brand.”
I’m being genuine, but I’m also taking a shortcut using “love” to infuse the enthusiasm and warmth I actually feel, and also not freaking people out with all-the-words or sounding like a consultant who is all business, no personality.
This is completely socially acceptable. Depending on my client, it’s business-acceptable too. But add in exclamation points to the end (do it, go back and read this with exclamation points) and it can start to sound a little too perky (and desperate to over-promise and over-please).
If I were to be more accurate with my words, cool it on the eagerness, and not just type “love” willy-nilly, what I really mean to say taps into more of my “expert and guide” voice:
“I appreciate you sharing your vision with us. That was thoughtful of you, and I’m glad you reached out.”
“We specialize in working with creative entrepreneurs like you.”
“If I can share some examples of the kind of work we do, you can start to see the deliverables we can create for you.”
“If I can walk you through the process of what it’s like to work with us, and what you can expect along the way, you can start to imagine what our method can do for your vision, positioning, and brand and see if it’s a fit for you.”
You’re expecting me to say, “cut out the love-talk and use more of your expert-guide voice.” But I’m not. it’s just how we are as creative entrepreneurs—it’s a mix of both. Some days I go with the love. Some days I go with the guidance. Usually it’s a mix of both. There’s no formula to it other than the voice in my head that says, “check yourself here, are you being real?”
We love the idea of loving our work and our clients. But really, we just want to exchange our talents, our time, and our guidance for compensation and appreciation for a job well done.
Maybe that is the definition of loving the work we do after all.
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Most of us become creative entrepreneurs, small business owners, or freelancers because we want to spend our days working with our hands, curating our shop, painting canvases, designing brands, coaching dream clients… the creative side of what we do is, well… what we actually want to be doing all day. It can be frustrating when you have to wear all the other hats to run a successful business. It’s not enough that you just do “your job” because you have to do all the other jobs too: accounting, HR, account service, customer support, and marketing.
Listen. Marketing is simply reminding people to hire you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but what I really want to tell you today is that good marketing begins with good branding.
So what is good branding? When you hear the word “branding,” you might think about your logo, colors, and visual identity. You’re not wrong, but branding is so much more.
Branding is how you position yourself as a reliable guide or expert in your field. It’s the words you use in your tagline, on your about me page, and in your conversations that very specifically let your dream customer know you’re for them.
Branding is clearly articulating what you want people to know, do, and feel with every blog post, Instagram photo, tweet, and webinar.
Branding is knowing and communicating who you’re for and what you’re best at.
Branding is attracting dream customers without having to sell (in an icky way).
Branding is saying what you mean without having to over-explain yourself.
Once you know your brand, it’s so much easier to market yourself with clarity and confidence. You won’t feel like you suck at marketing because you know what it is you want to say – you just have to say it.
If you're nodding along enthusiastically, but still wondering HOW to get those branding pieces in place, we held a FREE webinar on Friday, January 27th at 12pm Central Time where we sharde three simple things you can do to attract more dream clients (without feeling icky). Sign up to watch the webinar replay here.
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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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