Kathleen here. If you know me, you know I blog. I blog here on Braid Creative with my sister and business partner, Tara, and also over on my personal blog, &Kathleen. Some days it feels like my whole working day is filled with writing and planning posts. And I it like that way. Maybe you’d like it that way, too. Or perhaps you just want to dip your toe in the water of blogging.
Since “getting fit” is on everyone’s brain this time of year, why not your blog, too? The new year is a great time to shape up your blog content. But starting from scratch or simply wanting to focus and grow the blog (and audience) you’ve already got, can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Yet, if you feel the urgent need to do something about it, then you kind of already know what I’m about to tell you – that blogging is a great way to attract dream clients, prove your expertise, shape and share your ideas, and cultivate creativity, both personally and professionally.
So whether you want to start a blog a-fresh, or just give the blog you’ve got a good shake-up and shape-up... it’s never too late to begin. Here are six ideas on how to start:
1. Write about where you’re at.
Lots of our clients want to blog (or refine their blog content) but don’t know where to begin. It’s tempting to over-explain and share your entire life story and professional experience right off the bat. But I always recommend that you start small. You’ll have years of blogging ahead of you to share bits and pieces of your story as you go. So one way to start blogging is to open a blank page and at the top write down this “What I really want to tell you is this …” and then simply start writing. Then hit publish. Rinse and repeat. P.S. I’ve been blogging for years and use this technique when I feel at a loss of words.
2. Share your gifts of knowledge.
This includes how tos, DIYs, advice, and even inspiration that will leave your potential dream customer or a new fan respecting your expertise and wanting more. Some creatives are afraid that if they share too much of their process or services nobody will actually want to hire them but I have found again and again that the opposite is true. Try putting it all out there and I promise you’ll see a cash money return on your generosity.
From the Archives: Going from Doing to Teaching
3. Document your stories, aspirations, and purpose.
Blogging isn’t just for your audience. It’s a place for you to share, express, and cultivate your own creative desires and passions. I’ve worked through some of my best business ideas and have really refined my point-of-view, personally and professionally, through blogging.
From the Archives: Personal Branding is Sharing Your Stories
4. Get focused.
If you could only have four categories for your blog what would they be? And what would some of the post titles or topics under each category be about? Or try this: write down all the topics you’re interested in sharing – this can be a total brain dump. Then bust out four highlighters (because I know you’re a highlighter junkie like we are) and start grouping subjects together by color. If you had to dump each color into a separate bucket what would you label each bucket? Those are your blogging categories.
5. Find your frequency.
Lots of our clients ask us how often they should be blogging. But it’s truly up to you. I recommend to most people who are new to blogging to start with once a week. If that feels good and you want to do more bump it up to twice a week. Or if you’re feeling spread thin and stressed out trying to create weekly content then try twice a month. The frequency of your posts doesn’t matter nearly as much as the consistency.
6. If you don’t like writing...
That’s okay! There are other ways to share content – designed images, a curated moodboard, photos, videos, and podcasts are great alternatives to writing. And it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can literally use your iPhone with apps like VSCO, 8mm, and iMovie to make some stylish photos and videos.
What are some of your blogging insecurities? Or what do you love about blogging? Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur who wants to shape up your blog content to attract more dream customers check out our Braid ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs – Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. This 4-part complete-at-your-own-pace ECourse is now open for registration and will be in session from Jan. 17 - 26th. Learn more and register here.
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You may think that personal branding is something new. But it’s not. And you may think you don’t have a personal brand. But you do. You’ve just been calling it something else.
Your signature style, the first impression you always seem to make (good or bad), what you’re “known for,” are other ways you and people around you describe your personal brand. And intentionally, accidentally, or incrementally, it’s the personal brand you’ve been cultivating ever since you’ve made your entrance onto the stage (or stages) you’ve chosen: work, school, community – or the spotlight of your own creative business.
Subtle or bold, polarizing or completely plain vanilla, your personal brand is making itself known whether you like it or not. In fact, being completely plain vanilla is so extreme, one could argue it’s the hallmark of a personal brand in itself. “Oh that Kate, she’s so plain vanilla. But I love it. I love how what you see is just what you get, and I wish I could be so edited, I’m all over the place!”
How many of us just love taking personality tests: What’s your color? Your fascination formula? Your spirit animal? Your Mad Men character? Why do we love that “label” we get at the end so much? Maybe it’s because we love to identify with an uncomplicated idea, feeling, or message that sums up in a perfect little bow the oh-so-complicated people we are. And what is a brand if not a packaged look, feel and message that relays in an instant what it represents and the experience it will no doubt deliver?
The idea of a personal brand may feel flat, shallow or one dimensional… um, that’s because they’re supposed to be. Sort of. I’ve been talking about layers lately in my Letters for Creatives, and a personal brand is simply a layer of you. The outer one that lets people (i.e. peers, bosses, dream clients and dream followers) know what you’re about and what they can expect to learn and get to know from you if they care to venture past the outer layer.
An outer layer, unlike the name implies, isn’t just about appearances, though that can play a part. We’re creatives, and many of us visual creatives, so our own exterior styling can be an expression of our brand. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be how we tell stories, how we are great listeners, how we always cut to the chase with a zinger one-liner that leaves everyone laughing or cringing. But it’s hard to know what your outer layer is, when you, yourself inhabit a whole lifetime’s worth of layers under it.
Define your outer layer:
I love writing fill-in-the-blank statements to help make otherwise blurry ideas feel clear. Try filling in a few of these, and start to tap into your personal brand. You can fill them in a few ways, actually.
A. Fill these statements out one time based on your outward style.
B. Now fill these statements out a second time based on your conversation and words.
C. Okay now that you’ve touched on the personality aspect (remember, we’re not talking your inner values and core here, we’re talking outer-layer personality) fill these statements out a third time based on your work and/or business, and an easy way to do that is use your website or blog as a way to think about that outer layer:
1. First Impression. “People always think I’m ______ when they first meet me.”
2. Behind Your Back (In a Good Way). “I’ve heard people say that you can always count on me to ______________________.”
3. Apples to Oranges (Comparison). “I know that _______ wishes they could _____ like I do.”
4. Love You or Hate You. “But I also know that when I _______________, people either love it or hate it. That’s okay, it’s just part of my personal brand.”
5. Ah, The Twist (a.k.a. The Next Layer). But it always surprises people after they (meet me, work with me, get to know me) that I _____________________, and they really love/respect it.”
I know I said this was all outer layer stuff here. But the thing is, these are the kind of simple statements that start to hint at the deeper content and conversations that unfold along with the layers of you and your business. You can think of content as blogging or explaining what you do, but I would also challenge you to think of content as conversations: the working, learning, networking, selling, and sharing conversations that are constantly defining and redefining who you are – and what you do.
If you’d like to continue this “layered” conversation, heh, heh, you can always comment on any of the conversations we start here on Facebook.
Learn more about how to define and share that “outer layer” in our Braid ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs, Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are with What You Do. This ECourse is great for both established or aspiring creatives and bloggers who want to bring a little more personality into their profession. Register and learn more here by this Thursday, November 14th.
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Kathleen here. This week I’m preparing for a 30 minute talk I’ll be giving at the Confluence Conference on Personal Branding. Along with sharing the typical highlight reel of the journey of how I got from here to there, I’ll also be giving a few tips on how to build and leverage your own personal brand so you can live what you love. While I’ve been writing, talking, consulting, and thinking about being your brand for a few years now I had a bit of an “aha / duh” moment while I was prepping my speech slides.
Personal branding is really just sharing your story.
Online (and offline).
For your fans (not your critics).
In your own words (no jargon-y industry robot speak!)
With consistency, courage, and boundaries.
If you’re thinking “Okay, great. But what’s my story!? How do I share it!?” I’ve got you covered. Here are 4 ideas for how you can structure and share your stories:
1. Where You’ve Been & Where You’re Going
This story is equal parts reflection and aspiration. When you address where you’ve been it gives you closure and confidence to move forward. What are your past victories and how have they helped you get where you are today? Or what kind of struggle did you have to overcome? Where are you going next? You can dissect the story of where you’ve been and where you’re going to any aspect of your life – career, creativity, health, relationships, travel & adventure, art, community… Pick one and tell a story about it. What I love about this kind of story is that you’re able to set intentions and manifest the life and dream job you want to live by imagining (and declaring) how you want it to be.
2. What You Know
A lot of the creatives we work with are super hesitant to call themselves experts. They feel like they don’t have enough credentials to be any sort of authority in their field. But you’re always an authority of your own experience. Own it. Be brave enough to say “I don’t have this all figured out but here is what I do know …” These stories can also come in the form of advice, how-tos, and DIYs. We like to call these your gifts of knowledge – and the more you share them the more you will begin to feel confident in your expertise. Lately, I’ve been sharing these kinds of stories in my Coaching for Creative series over on my personal blog.
3. Get Real
Getting a glimpse of what life is really like are my favorite kinds of stories to read and share. A professional composure is great and all but sometimes “getting real” and sharing the story of what life is really like will humanize you. As scary as it may feel, people like to do business with people. Flaws and all. These stories can be anecdotal, metaphors, or “day in the life” style.
I shared my favorite “let’s get real here” story in our Letters for Creatives when I told the story of one of our first meetings after launching Braid. It was 2-hours long with a used car sales man. Tara and I literally got in 3 words the whole time while this used car salesman with a lazy eye and sweaty lip went on for hours about how much integrity his business has (not). By the end of it I literally thought I might throw up on the desk we were meeting at. Tara and I both left shaken up and ready to throw in the towel and find a day job. (Instead we vowed to never work with used car salesman and wrote our Braid ECourse on Dream Customer Catching.)
De-mystifying the creative process is a great way to share the story behind the portfolio. What’s your working style like? How do you take your client through the life of a project? What’s hard about your job? What do you love the most about it? You’re not a creative robot on an assembly line – prove it with behind-the-scenes stories.
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And remember – you’re not just sharing these stories on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter. You’re sharing these stories in real life too with friends, clients, peers, and family. And you’re unapologetically telling these stories in your own words – with courage and consistency. Finally, don’t forget to use the tools in your toolbox – photography, design, art, and creative writing – to tell your story.
If you want to learn more about sharing your story, blending the personal with the professional, and leveraging who you are to live what you love, check out our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do now open for registration. This complete at-your-own-pace ECourse will be in-session from November 15 - 24. Learn more and register here.
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