Stop Apologizing So Much

12-Feb-2014

Stop apologizing in your creative business

One of the very first “don’ts” creatives learn when it comes to presenting your ideas – is don’t start off by apologizing. Whether you’re sharing an inkling of a concept or the polished final product, any ding dong can tell you that if you start talking about all the ways this creation of yours has fallen short of your expectations (or, ugh, even worse, is sure to fall short of the expectations of those around you) then you’re pretty much going to put a tarnish over the entire first impression.

Imagining yourself in this “sorry” situation, whether in a classroom, conference room, or coffee shop meeting, can paint a bit of a cringeworthy picture. As embarrassing as it might be for you as the presenter, it can be confusing, annoying, or just plain boring for the person you’re presenting to. “Could we get some confidence with this coffee please?!”

But we’re all smart people here. I think we know better by now. As a working creative you probably have oodles of confidence presenting your – well, your creative work. But where do those oodles go when you’re talking about yourself, what you do, and how to hire you? Too often we don’t strive for this kind of personal-meets-professional confidence, either brushing it off as something that will come over time, or a skill we don’t really need.

But a lack of confidence with that coffee (and oh boy is it a layered brew of professional mixed with personal) doesn’t just cost you approval of your idea, it can cost you getting a new client, and growing your business. So how can you “catch yourself” apologizing – and stop?

Apologizing too much as a creative entrepreneur

When Creative Entrepreneurs Apologize The Most
How to stop diminishing what you’re all about? Well, you gotta know when you’re doing it to start. And usually, it’s when you’re asking someone to hire or buy you. 

1. Explaining What We Actually Do  
Creatives who work for themselves, have a head full of vision. But talking about it in a way that’s actually concrete can be a challenge. So we get uncertain, heck, even scared, when someone says “what do you do?” Here’s how we reply when we’re in flat out “sorry” mode:
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 “I suppose I do a little bit of everything? What do you need?”
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“Um, I don’t usually do that. But I can for you.”
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“I’m sort of a... simple-job-description-to-explain-goes-here.” 
(When you aren’t actually that at all, but it’s too hard to explain, or downplaying it depending on the audience, which sometimes makes sense if it’s extended family, old acquaintances or your barista, but not in “how to hire me” conversations.)

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The flip-side of this scenario is when we go into jargon mode, talking about all our “creative solutions” and the whole kitchen sink of our creative expertise. If this is more your default selling-style, check out last week’s post: Stop Proving It So Hard.

2. Trying to Stick To Our Process
As creative experts, we have a method to our madness (even if you think you don’t, you do) at the least, a certain set amount of time it takes, to create what you do.  But what happens is you end up letting go of the reigns of control (and respect) when you apologize for your process:
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“You need that in three days? I suppose I could do that.”
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“It takes three weeks. Sorry!I know that seems like a really long time.”
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“I know it’s a pain, but I need to ask you some questions before we get started. I know you just want d, but so sorry, we have to go through a, b and c to get there.”

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3. Talking About Money
Oh man, this is a big one. This is where you need to treat presenting your prices, just like you would your creative work. Give your fee, pricing, etc. a chance to speak for itself before you jump in and start lowering impressions and expectations by hemming and hawing – or worse, not talking about money at all, or saving it for the last possible second. 

Nothing says you’re ashamed of what you charge like putting off talking about what your time and services are worth. I could list a ton of example quotes about this one, but often the “sorry” comes through in your voice more than anything. An apologetic tone about money is not doing you any favors. Just be simple, straight, and believe your prices are firm and fair. Because if you don’t believe you’re worth what you charge – they won’t either.

4. Promoting Ourselves
This is a form of apologizing that can happen when you’re self-promoting on your “own turf.” As in, on your website or blog. Bloggers for instance, (like us!) give away a lot of our advice, knowledge, behind-the-scenes – and in turn our dream clients and followers, think of us like guides and experts. It’s nice to get hired by people who already think of you as a source of inspiration and sound advice, right? In fact, going into a “how-to-hire-me” conversation with that sort of understanding about who you are and what you do, can alleviate almost all of the apologizing scenarios listed above.  

So why do bloggers so often say “shameless self-promotion here!” when they shift to talking about what they’re selling? I mean it’s cool to alert your reader to the shift in content (like we do below) but why do we have to be sarcastic or self-deprecating about it? It kind of defeats the point of being a source of inspiration and sound advice.

Stop apologizing small business

5. Acknowledging The Dream We Created
Bloggers are actually a great example of creatives who have created a job for themselves that often blends work and life. But guess what? I almost put “job” in quote marks in the sentence above – like it’s not a real “job.”  How about we stop apologizing for our creative business? Let’s start by promising to never use quotation marks when we describe what we do! 

Creative entrepreneurs still live in a primarily 9-to-5, pay-your-dues, company or cubicle society.  So creatives can be quick in family, friend, and peer conversations to downplay the dream they’ve created for themselves. A dream job is still a job. But it’s one you’ve carved out for yourself.

Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re just starting out with a spark of an idea for what that dream job could be. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re mid-stream still working out the kinks. And most important, don’t be embarrassed when you succeed.

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Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

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.

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