Tara here. When I think of myself as a “creative writer” I think of the tools I use, metaphor, memorable phrases and headlines, declarations, emotion, that whole bag of tricks and truths. Some creatives say they hate to write. Some revel in sharing their thoughts and words. And really, even working creatives who say they aren’t comfortable writing, can wing it.
But when I talk about content that shares what you do (not for your clients, but for yourself and your business!) – I don’t mean just copywriting. I mean conversations with potential collaborators or clients, giving a talk to a group, sending out an email letter, writing your “about me” on your website, updating your social media profiles, or yes, composing a blog post.
If you are a creative who writes, but are only creating content for other people and not yourself – you’re selling yourself short and setting yourself up to:
1. sell what you do “cold,” and
2. sell your ideas “blind.”
Meaning that every selling conversation will feel like it’s starting from scratch, and every creative idea you are persuading someone else enthusiastically embrace (because that’s selling too) will have no rationale or expertise backing it up.
Emotion and imagination have their place in your content, but only if you understand the difference between the content you share to inspire and attract others, and the content you create to explain and sell what you do. So here’s two ways of thinking of the content you create and share, so you can get in the right frame of mind before you ever type (or speak) an inspiring, informative word about you… and what you do:
1. WHAT YOU KNOW: “Sharing Content” is knowledge you give away (for free!) that positions you as a creative expert.
What is sharing content? Well, it’s anything you write, record, speak, email, publish, print, or post – that informs & inspires others. Because “the work” and word-of-mouth can position you as a great creative. But the content you create is what positions you as a creative expert. You want someone to read your post and think “I need this expert to get what I want!”
And oh man, when you position yourself as an expert to a specific dream client, awesome things happen. “They trust you! They want you!”
But if you sneak selling content into sharing content, you muddy the message and the feeling you wanted to inspire. “Nice try. This is just a sales pitch!” So keep your sharing content clean. You need to create selling and sharing content, but know the difference and the right place to share what you know versus why to buy you.
SHARING CONTENT INCLUDES:
- blog posts
- social media posts
- talks to a group
- group emails or letters
- learning content (like ecourses)
SHARING CONTENT SHOULD:
- be insight that informs + inspires
- from a real person (not a company)
- who is willing to share as a creative expert
- and share what they know
But why “give away” your secrets? Because they still want it (i.e. that expertise)... from you.
SHARING CONTENT IDEAS:
When you write or speak what you know, versus how to buy, think:
- inspiration & ideas
- behind the scenes
- advice & how-to’s
- overcoming mistakes
- seeing patterns
- translating information
- the story & the lesson
When you’re creating sharing content always ask yourself:
“Does it give my insight, to a specific audience around a specific pain, and rather than ‘dazzle or persuade,’ does it inform and inspire?” Because if it feels salesy, it probably is.
You can check out Our Not So Secret Formula For Sharing Content post here, for more tips on how to get in the right frame of mind for creating helpful or how-to content for your own dream clients.
2. WHY BUY YOU: “Selling Content” is how you describe what you do, why people should hire you, and what it will feel like to work with you.
SELLING CONTENT INCLUDES:
- your website content
- your offerings, services, products
- case studies, testimonials or examples
- presentations to new potential clients
- emails to potential clients
- direct mail or other information sheets
SELLING CONTENT SHOULD:
- be how to hire or buy you & your offerings
- explained (not overhyped) with reassuring logic
- with a “what you can expect working with us” approach
- if you can make it visual, do it
- if you can break it into steps, do it
SELLING CONTENT IDEAS:
- your clearly defined offerings & pricing
- your case studies & examples
- your behind-the-scenes methods
- your creative process made visual!
- always logical & reassuring
When you’re creating selling content always ask yourself:
“Can I make this visual, make it real? Am I breaking it into steps can I show real examples? Can I simply explain this logically?” Because if it feels intangible or unreal, it probably is.
3. BLENDING CONTENT: you can “break” the rules and mix the two kinds of content if you know the difference.
It’s more like blending the rules but once you know the distinction between your sharing content and selling content – you can bring selling back into the sharing conversation, but only if you’re telling your audience you are shifting into how-to-hire me mode. No sneaking it in. Think transparency! Or for a visual example, you can scroll to the bottom of the post and see how I am going to clearly tell you how to buy a product from me, sign up for emails from me, or even hire me one-on-one for consulting. But everything above that line… it’s all sharing content.
If you wanted, I know you could take this post today, and if you spent a week really re-focusing your content based on these few rules and tidbits, would have some shaped up content that gives you a lot of confidence selling yourself and sharing what you know.
I’ve given you helpful advice, based on my insights, that you could actually use – for free. Would you still want to pay for our Shape Up Your Content Braid ECourse anyway? Maybe. Probably. If the timing is right for you. If it feels like a fit. And if when you read the selling content I’ve created to logically explain it here, feels like you know what you’ll get – versus being dazzled or “sold.”
So just remembering which kind of content you are creating before you begin, can go a long way toward building your own confidence, acting and thinking like a creative expert. And here’s a happy surprise – today’s shared (free) content, really can shape the new products or services you decide to sell in the future.
Again, here’s those two questions to ask before you begin content-creating:
1. If you’re sharing, ask: “does this content I’m creating feel insightful and helpful?”
2. If you’re selling, ask: “do these words I’m using to describe what I do feel like simply explaining?”
Do you feel more comfortable writing sharing content or selling content? Or are you a creative who just wings it every time when it comes to writing or talking about yourself? Tell us on Facebook.
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Do you receive our Letters for Creatives? When you sign up for our letters you'll also receive an exclusive discount to take our Braid Ecourses for creatives. Right now Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration and will be in-session from April 18-27. This ECourse is great for creative professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and bloggers alike. Learn more and register here.
Or if you’re interested in some work/life guidance check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions - insight delivered straight to your inbox over the course of 4 weeks.
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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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I would say that ninety percent of the creatives we coach, consult, and do one-on-one branding work with have a blog that they don’t keep up with or want to start a blog but are either freaked out at the idea of writing in such a public space or simply at a loss of where to begin. Blogging is a great platform for blending who you are with what you do, sharing your gifts of knowledge, and proving that you are an expert at what you do. I’ve found that fear is the number one factor in holding people back from launching a blog and hitting “publish” on the regular. So today we’re going to tackle the roadblocks of writing and get you on your way to generating content like the confident, authentic, badass expert you are.
Blogging Fear #1: “I don’t know what to write about.”
• Start by writing about your life - be transparent, authentic, and open by sharing where you’re at right now.
• Limited categories (ie. food, work, style, design, and so on… ) and even a loose editorial calendar can help you find a lot of structure for your blog content. Our post, If You Had to Write A Book, might be a great way to brainstorm categories for your blog.
• Share the behind-the-scenes of how you work or how you helped someone beyond the final product. Or you can get even more specific and share more about your daily operations, struggles, and victories when it comes to doing your thing.
Blogging Fear #2: “I’m afraid of what everybody will think.”
• Oh boy. Every creative I’ve coached in the last week is afraid of what “everybody” will think. So I challenged them to name 5 specific critics. 9 times out of 10 they can’t name anybody. Not one person. (I’m writing more about this in my Letters for Creatives this week – sign up here if you want more on this topic).
• Brené Brown gave me great advice to share with you when it comes to fear and blogging: write for your fans, not your critics. And while you’re at it – share what is vulnerable, not what is intimate. With these two bits of wisdom in mind you’ll be able to write from an authentic, yet safe, place. You can read more about that in this blog post here.
• Know that you’re doing those fans, and your own creative business, a disservice when you hold back your gifts of knowledge.
Blogging Fear #3: “Nobody is reading.”
• A quick rebuttal I get from creatives who are terrified of what “everybody” will think is that “nobody” is reading. Nobody is reading because you’re afraid of writing!
• When you’re afraid of sharing your point-of-view your content becomes watered down and boring. When you can share who you really are without sounding like a robot you will attract readers.
• Ask for feedback. You’ll feel like nobody is reading if you don’t remind your readers to interact with you. Ask for comments, opinions, ideas – or you might even try telling your readers how to hire you. See what happens.
Blogging Fear #4: “I don’t have enough time.”
• Yes you do. Get off Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram and start writing. You don’t “have” time or “find” time. You make it.
• Make time by setting a timer. I had 20 minutes to start this post before going into a meeting. I thought “Meh. What can I really get done in 20 minutes?” It turns out I was able to write the entire intro paragraph and a rough outline for this whole post in 20 minutes. I finished up the rest this morning (before another full day of more meetings) in my breakfast nook.
• Write during your most creative time of day. For me this is in the morning. If you need help pinpointing your most creative time of day check out our post on A Resolution for Routine.
Blogging Fear #5: “I hate my blog / website design.”
• Prove to yourself that you can consistently create content for 3 months, 6 months, or a year and then hire someone to pretty up your blog for you. You can move your blog content just like you can move your furniture around.
• Most people are reading your blog through an RSS feed anyway – that means they have no idea what your blog or site looks like. They’re only interested in what you have to say.
• When in doubt, keep it simple. One of my favorite blogs is Zen Habits. It’s meaningful content delivered on a simple white background with black text and no photos.
Finding your voice and an audience takes practice and time. And while it may take a little bit of courage to hit “publish” on the regular, it gets easier the more you do it. You’ll find confidence, creative fulfillment, and potentially clients, with each post that goes live. So blog on, friends. Blog on. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
If you’re still suffering from scattered ideas or analysis paralysis check out our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. This ECourse will be in-session from Oct. 18-27. Learn more and sign up here! P.S. We send out exclusive discounts and content to our ECourses in our weekly Letters to Creatives emails straight to your inbox. Sign up to receive those here.
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