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Kathleen here. It’s no secret that I read a lot of self-improvement and non-fiction business books. Right now I’m reading Tony Robbins’ new book called MONEY: Master the Game. I also love listening to podcasts from experts like Seth Godin, Lewis Howes, and Pat Flynn (that is, when I’m not obsessing over Serial – anyone else addicted?). In the morning, over tea and oats, I’m reading blog posts and watching videos from lifestyle and business gurus like Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte. 

With all that, I get a lot of actionable ideas from reading up on how to improve my life and my business, but every so often I start feeling bad about not having a six-figure month, or raking in millions like those guys do. These really rich and smart people are all about teaching and inspiring creative entrepreneurs like you and me to be crazy successful with million dollar launches through stuff like positive thinking and smart investments ... but I’m not a millionaire (yet). But sometimes after consuming all the shiny seven-figure hype, I can fall into that rusty old comparison trap. When you’re just beginning, it’s an easy trap to get stuck in. You look at your bottom line and your upper limit and start to feel as if you’re just not enough – not smart enough, or positive enough, or famous enough. 

The thing is… I DO run a really successful and growing six-figure business with my sister, but it didn’t happen overnight. Our six-figure business started with a three-figure project. It didn’t happen by launching a product and crossing our fingers. We grew Braid Creative by staying consistent in our method and working really hard for ourselves and our clients. Over two years, thousands of creatives have taken our ECourses, but just a handful at a time each month. My personal blog started with a dozen readers and those people over time became “in-real-life” friends, and their comments had more impact on my blog in the beginning than thousands of faceless “followers” that eventually started reading what I had to say. My point is this: it’s okay if your metrics are small – rock those little numbers because they matter – they set the foundation of your business. Treat the little projects like really big deals and your business will grow and attract the big numbers you desire. 

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Okay, so you’re good at what you do. You know you’re talented and are confident in your craft. But when you rely solely on your skills it’s easy to fall into the role of the order-taker who is exchanging talent or time for money. Whereas, when you are an expert you are hired and paid for your experience, knowledge, and ideas. How do you go from selling what you do to getting hired for what you know? There isn’t a super clear path or step-by-step formula to level-up your game. But I’d like to share a few ideas to make the transition from talented doer to an expert with purpose.

GET SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT 
There is probably a broad label for what you actually do – like photography, graphic design, interior decorating, coding, writing, yoga, or cooking. But can you get really specific about what makes you a great designer, photographer, writer, developer, or cook? Maybe it’s your use of color or typography. Maybe it’s your knack at capturing light or blending really interesting flavor combinations. 

What you’re good at – your craft and your style – is typically what you’re being hired for. And getting really great at what you do is a good place to start. If you’re fresh out of school or new to your creative field it’s not a bad idea to focus on getting really good at your craft. 

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR “HIGHER PURPOSE” 
Your skills are really important but it still puts you in the position of being an order-taker if you’re not clear on your expertise. Plus, calling yourself an expert can feel funny if you don’t well… feel like an expert. So instead try thinking of your expertise as your higher purpose. A higher purpose doesn’t have to be super-woo-woo, or super-ambitious. It simply means why you do what you do. 



When I first started down my path as a graphic designer I just wanted to be a rockstar at my craft – like Stefan Sagmeister or Jessica Hische. But when I started blogging about life as a freelance graphic designer I quickly realized my higher purpose was to be who I am 100% of the time in work and life. This purpose pours into what I consider my expertise, and that’s not design alone, but helping others blend that same 100% being who they are into their own personal brand. Design is just one tool to help me with the doing. You have similar talents or tools as a doer, too. Don’t stop using them, but try seeing the higher purpose they’re helping you reach over time.

USE YOUR SKILLS (THE STUFF YOU’RE GOOD AT) TO SHARE YOUR PURPOSE
My skills are in graphic design and as a freelance designer I was being hired to design brand identities, logos, and websites. But I also started using my skills in color, typography, and imagery to tell my own story and share my ideas on my blog. I never felt like an expert until over time, by consistently pairing design and idea-sharing on my blog, I began to attract a tribe of creative comrades and clients who felt inspired and encouraged by what I was putting out there. You don’t necessarily need a blog to share your expertise – it can happen over social media, with a podcast or youtube channel, at conferences and workshops, or in face-to-face conversations. 

THEN JUST GET ON WITH IT! (HINT: IT TAKES TIME)
I wish I had a silver bullet that would instantly make every creative feel more confident and skilled at what they do. But the hard truth is that it takes time. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who said in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at what you do. And in a less cerebral coffee table book about the rise and fame of Lady Gaga she said that she worked hard and kept her head down – then one day someone tapped her on the shoulder, she looked up, and she was number one. 

In that first hour you are going to feel like anything but an expert and that’s okay – you have to begin somewhere.  But it’s the one tried and true way I’ve seen hundreds of creatives who work for themselves make that real transition into not only feeling like an expert, but looking up over their shoulder, and finally realizing they are being seen as one. And heck yeah, it feels good to consider myself as one of them. It’s a humble “heck yeah” of course, with 10,000 hours behind me, and yet another 10,000+ and counting still in front. But all the work I do in those future hours won’t be as “hired talent,” but as an expert.

Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attrack What You Track is now open for registration. So if you’re a writer, designer, photographer, consultant, or creative who is wanting to bring more of your personality and passion to your profession this ECourse is for you. This ECourse will be in-session from December 12-21 – you can take it for $50 using the discount code BRAIDECOURSE50 when you check out. 

Or if you’re needing more work / life guidance check out the DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s just $40 and you can sign up and get this content straight to your inbox anytime!  


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Kathleen here. Today’s blog post is borrowed from a recent Letters for Creatives – our newsletter with exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox. I always invite the Letters recipients to respond directly to me, and after I sent out this email letter in particular, I got so many replies from creative entrepreneurs saying how it resonated big time with them – so I thought I would repost it here. If you would like to receive our newsletter sign up here. I only send out about 3 letters a month – in other words, I promise not to take advantage of being invited in your inbox. 

Earlier this week I posted on the Braid Blog about how to feel like a creative expert. At the same time I was writing that post my 9 month old baby started growing teeth (which is apparently incredibly painful – there’s a reason why you don’t remember growing teeth) and came down with a virus that left the both of us covered in snot and puke more than once. Gross, I know. So after giving my sad, sick baby a tight squeeze and a good bath I got mad. I got mad at my own mom for never telling me how hard it was going to be to be a mom. I mean, she made it look so easy. And then I realized that’s because she was (and still is) a really great mom – it was part of her job description as “best mom ever” to make it look easy. 

On the Braid blog I listed out a few different ways to feel like a creative expert: remaining neutral to criticism and praise, taking a pause to gather more information before you respond, trusting yourself in the moment, recognizing patterns, establishing clear boundaries, saying no, charging more, and having enough confidence to share your point-of-view. But after this week of tending to a sick baby, juggling work and life, and thinking about my own mom – who is obviously an expert at motherhood – I need to add this to the list: 

Experts make it look easy. 
Experts don’t have to prove their worth by telling you how hard they worked on your project or how long they’ve been in the game. Experts never displace blame or require validation. Experts just do what they do what they do best – whether that’s snapping a photo, writing a book, developing an ECourse, designing your logo, or consulting you through next steps – with grace. Experts make you feel safe and reassured through the process. And they make it look so easy that you almost consider that you could do it yourself. And that’s how they know they’ve done a good job. 

Are you still having a hard time identifying or embracing your expertise? Consider this: 
  • What comes easy to you that seems to impress the people around you? The answer to this question might be your expertise. 
  • What isn’t so easy but is something you want to be really good at? This could be your expertise if you start working on it today (and tomorrow… and the day after.)

Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attrack What You Track is now open for registration. So if you’re a writer, designer, photographer, consultant, or creative who is wanting to bring more of your personality and passion to your profession this ECourse is for you. This ECourse will be in-session from December 12-21 – you can take it for $50 using the discount code BRAIDECOURSE50 when you check out. 

Or if you’re needing more work / life guidance check out the DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s just $40 and you can sign up and get this content straight to your inbox anytime!  

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