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.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.