Tara here. We all grew up with catchy slogans – “just do it,” “got milk?” or “a diamond is forever.” They’ve been etched in our brains because of how consistently they’ve been used – and all the ways and means these big-budget brands have impressed them upon us.
But even without big budgets, trending one-liners and themes are still impressing and influencing us and our peers in the realm of the creative entrepreneur, now more than ever – from hashtags that catch on like wildfire, to pinnable quotes that strike an irresistible chord.
A themeline may even start with you – a product you’re launching, a movement you’re championing. But those are ideas, products, events and rallying cries that come and go with the flow, they don’t describe what you do as a personal brand and a business.
Of course you should keep creating those ideas, those products, those launches and those themes in time with the seasons, in time with what’s happening in the world, and most importantly, in time with your own bursts of inspiration.
But! When it comes to that single line that describes what you do (that doesn’t change over time!) – you don’t need a catchy, clever, cute or even a razor-sharp cut-through-the-clutter slogan that’s going to make you popular, memorable or hirable. You need a tagline.
A tagline (I sometimes simply call it a descriptor line) should be a useful companion to your brand name and logo, that does a little of the explaining for you.
A few weeks ago I wrote How To Decide On Your Business Name and promised a follow-up on how to write your tagline to go with it. So before you think of it as a hashtag or a pinnable quote, as a shoe box slogan or a one-liner delivered by Morgan Freeman at the end of an emotionally stirring commercial – think of your tagline in brand places like your website masthead, a sign-off to your newsletters or posts, or in your social media profile.
Think of your tagline as the biggest clue, in the smallest amount of words, into what you do and how people can buy or hire you.
A short and sweet tagline (or descriptor line) for your business should:
a. show what your business does in an instant; and/or
b. round out what your business name alone isn’t telling people
Creating A Say-What-You Mean Descriptor Line vs. a Catchy One:
Here are a few different fill-in-the-blank formulas you might try:
1. The “I Do This for Them” Version
Your Business Name (could be your name, of course) followed by:
floral design for events
But what if she had a shop and did events? I’d do the one- two- three- punch:
2. The “Short-Short Laundry List” Version
florist | design | special events
But what if her name was her name? But she loved the idea of a “green goddess,” perhaps that’s even her logo mark design?
3. The “Make Your Name Still Sound Like a Business” Version
In this case I might suggest a short descriptor line you use with your logo sometimes, but a “rallying cry” that feels like your personal motto that you pepper in when you have the space, or the right context to do so:
floral design & events
“for the green goddess in all of us!”
4. No matter which version you use, go back and pepper in Purpose & Personality
Okay, so these are feeling pretty straightforward. And very concise. They almost feel like a “duh” moment, like “of course that’s the description for what I do.” But where’s the creativity? Well, a little goes a long way. You don’t want to turn your breadcrumb into a full-on bagel! But here are some simple ways you might infuse a little more of “you” into what you do in a line as short as your tagline:
For example (and this is my favorite of all the “imaginary” Green Goddess combos):
natural floral design for wildly gorgeous events
Note the “natural” descriptor. That’s stating some purpose. Perhaps she only uses local plants or more natural-feeling designs (no tight rose-only bouquets).
Note the “wildly gorgeous” that’s infusing some personality. Perhaps she’s a total stylista, completely influenced by fashion and design in all her floral designs.
Caution! Don’t use words you don’t really use. If our Green Goddess was a shy wallflower, vs. this loud and fabulous floral designer. Then you might tone down the flair, but keep the “natural” intent.
Having trouble writing this deceptively short and simple line? Or simply picking the one that “feels right?”
Now, I recognize that not all of you do work that’s as straightforward as floral design. Many of you do a hybrid of services, or are still in transition, trying to figure it all out and how it fits together. So, yes, even though your tagline shouldn’t change as much as your hashtags do, you should give yourself permission to evolve or update it every three to six months. We’ve updated ours (branding & business visioning for creative entrepreneurs) at least once or twice since we’ve launched. Just knowing it’s not totally set in stone can free up the writer’s block!
But if you’re still struggling, here are some tips:
Give yourself wiggle room to warm up.
A great way to warm up is to give yourself a longer word count. See if you can sum up what you do, and who you do it for (with a dash of your personality, using your own words, because you are not a robot!) in a couple short paragraphs. Then whittle down from there.
Get methodical and categorize your words.
You can also try this method: listing single words in category columns. Pick a category for each column and write it at the top of the page, for example a.) the kind of service or product I provide, b.) my specialty, flair, unique approach or signature style, c.) who I create this service or product for. Then list different words that pop up within their column. Then narrow down to your favorites in each column. Start pairing them up with each other. This could end up being a three word descriptor line, or a single statement that merges the three ideas.
Give yourself some context, and “try on” your tagline alongside your business name.
I also find it really helps to write or say your business name before you “try on” the tagline. So don’t just start listing the taglines that you’re deciding between in a row. Pair each one of them with your name first. Then read them out loud. Imagine them on your website masthead with your logo. Imagine them on your business card.
Or try starting an introduction using your favorite one. “Hi, I’m Tara and my business Braid Creative is _____ [ tagline here ] ____. What I mean by that is…” and there you go, the conversation has begun. And it just started with one line, that simply described what you do.
If you’re looking for brand guidance around sharing your content check out our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. It will be in-session from April 16-26! Learn more and sign-up here.
If you’re dealing with creative fear, need help with time management, or simply need a boost of inner-confidence when it comes to showing up and being seen you might like the DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. You can sign up anytime! It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content delivered straight to your inbox – plus, it’s a great way to invest in yourself at the beginning of a new year.
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On Monday morning I had coffee with my close creative gal pal, Lindsey. Lindsey co-owns a grab-and-go food bar in OKC offering up clean eats like soup and salad, she does one-on-one nutrition and food coaching, and is always pursuing new training, certification, and degrees in her field of study. She is a dedicated student of her craft who just wants to help people feel better after they eat a meal. Lindsey loves reading The New Yorker, she regularly listens to foodie podcasts, and enjoys a good slow dinner with friends. Lindsey is also a really talented writer – the problem is she doesn’t know what to write about. She’s feeling stuck, but she’s not alone. The downside of being a creative for a living is having to create even when you’re feeling uninspired, blocked, or downright afraid.
Together we brainstormed a few ideas of how she could structure her content and create systems for always having something to write about. We also talked about the fear of not being good enough and feeling inadequate when it comes to our own high standards. So today I thought I would share some of the ideas we came up with on our Monday morning coffee date in case you’re feeling stuck too.
When you’re feeling stuck just mind the gap.
First off, I know I’ve shared this Ira Glass quote before but it’s worth repeating:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
If you’re feeling like Lindsey, and every other creative entrepreneur who is a student of life, then you will constantly feel as if you’re coming across new gaps just as you close the old ones. That’s a good thing. It means you’re growing. But like Ira Glass advises – you just have to keep writing! Here are some ideas to get you going:
When you don’t know what to write about – write about what you’ve been talking about.
Don’t underestimate or take for granted your gifts of knowledge. What kinds of questions or conversations have you answered lately? Write about that! For example, as of yesterday I had no idea what I was going to post this week so I started mentally combing through my conversations with friends and clients. My Monday morning coffee with Lindsey was top of mind so now I’m writing about it and hopefully sharing something valuable with you along the way.
When you don’t know what to write about – read something.
Nothing gets my gears turning like reading a good memoir or self-development book. If it doesn’t spark entirely new topics or ideas to write about I’ll simply share a review. Not everyone has the time to read the book for themselves so write about what you learned from it or how it inspired you. My review of Daring Greatly caught Brené Brown’s attention and from there she became a Braid Method client! (Now if only Amy Poehler would become my BFF.)
When you don’t know what to write about – share what you’ve been working on.
What have you been working on lately? Write about it. It doesn’t have to just be the polished finished product. You can share the behind-the-scenes of your creative process. Tell the story of what it was like to truly help your client – paint a picture of what they looked like before and after working with you. So for Lindsey it might not be just writing about the benefits of vitamin C but sharing how her client shifted and transformed when she started eating foods that nourished her body and mind.
When you don’t know what to write about – establish creative boundaries.
The cool part about working for yourself is it means you get to do whatever you want. But being creative can be overwhelming when the sky is the limit. So create constraints for yourself. Define the parameters for what you want to create – that might be limiting yourself to a topic, word count, or deadline. It might be working from writing prompts (Alexandra Franzen has some great ones here). And remember, once you create some rules for yourself you can always break them.
When you don’t know what to write about – dig into the details.
Lindsey went to a writing workshop hosted by the very talented food and memoir writer Molly Wizenberg. I asked Lindsey for one great writing tip she learned from the workshop and she said that Molly keeps a little 1” frame on her desk – it reminds her that she doesn’t have to write about All The Things. That she can take one small detail or fragment from her life and create a really deep story about what she sees through a 1” frame. What a great reminder.
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If you’re dealing with creative fear, need help with time management, or simply need a boost of inner-confidence when it comes to showing up and being seen you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. You can sign up anytime! It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content delivered straight to your inbox – plus, it’s a great way to invest in yourself at the beginning of a new year.
Or if you’re looking for more guidance around sharing your content check out our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. It will be in-session this Friday, January 16 – which means registration closes tomorrow! Learn more and sign-up here.
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There’s this idea that when you work for yourself, especially as a creative entrepreneur, you are living the dream. The fantasy goes like this: you’re making things with your hands, brainstorming over coffee with creative colleagues, and doing so much yoga that you can finally get into complicated arm balances. But you know, and I know, that being your own boss isn’t so easy. Balancing work and life, paying the bills, wearing all the hats … it’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t always feel so dreamy.
Kathleen here. I write a lot about being your own boss here on the Braid blog, I give a peek behind the curtains of how we work in our exclusive Letters for Creatives, and I share snippets of my life in between it all, over on my personal blog, And Kathleen. So it’s been a long time coming, but now I’m finally launching a podcast called Being Boss. I’m teaming up with my good friend and creative confidant Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography, and every week we’ll be candidly talking to you, fellow bosses and aspiring-to-be’s, about the good and bad, the ups and downs – of being boss.
BEING THE BOSS
“Being The Boss” means being able to manage, plan, organize, invest, delegate, and make tough decisions. It’s not easy and doesn’t always come naturally to a lot of us creatives who just want to make a living doing what we love. But learning how to be the boss is how you make living the dream profitable.
“Being Boss” is an attitude. It’s confidence, being all in, stepping into uncertainty without losing your cool, and most of all being unapologetically who you are 100% of the time. “Boss” is an adjective that came on the scenes in the 1950s – it means cool or awesome. “That motorcycle jacket is boss!” But I love the Urban Dictionary definition written by Tiffany aka Ya Girl Miss Tiff: "Boss. noun - a person who is a leader, someone who runs shit in his/her hood or city. Example: If you got more than $100 G's in the bank and stackin paper every day, more than likely you are a Boss."
So yeah, we’re going to talk about stackin paper, setting goals for ourselves, and getting sh*t done – all the things that make us feel “Boss.” But there’s going to be a lot of talk about love, too, love for what we do, love for what we’ve created, and love for you guys out there trying to do the same.
Sign up at LoveBeingBoss.com or subscribe to our Being Boss newsletter below to be the first to know when our newest episode is released in early January.
BEING BOSS PODCAST
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