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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The difference between creatives who are able to make good money and those who aren’t is the ability to turn vision into action. Kathleen here, with a little tough love: having lots of good ideas is not enough to make you a successful creative. It’s par for the course and it’s simply what is expected of you. So today I want to talk a little bit about how to take your ideas, turn them into vision, and then step-by-step action to bring those brilliant ideas into lucrative fruition. And by lucrative fruition... I’m talking about a paycheck.
STEP 1: Talk about your ideas.
The first step to transforming a fleeting thought into a good idea is to talk about it. I suggest over dinner with your partner, spouse, or best friend. Or perhaps over coffee with a mentor. A good brainstorm can go a long way in bringing an idea into reality. When talking about your idea allow yourself to go on tangents – give yourself permission to follow your train of thought wherever it wants to go. And by talking it out, especially with someone who can offer another perspective, you will be able to connect dots that will make your concept even better than your original idea.
STEP 2: Write it down.
Talking about an idea is the equivalent to flirting with it. Writing down your ideas brings commitment to them. The act of writing down your ideas, I’m talking pen to paper, is crucial to turning ideas into vision. What’s the difference between idea and vision? Vision is an idea with an action plan.
Try making lists, creating mind-maps, or even write a stream-of-consciousness braindump about your idea. Consider all the working parts of your idea and let it flow from your brain to your hand and out of your pen and into your notebook.
STEP 3: Make an action plan.
Now you’ve probably got a notebook chock full of ideas. Awesome. Start considering which one you’d like to bring to life. Your ideas serve nobody, not even yourself, until you can even bring just one of them into action. So now it’s time to create a plan of attack.
I’ve found that there are two solid ways of designing a game plan – either by starting from the very beginning and considering the first smallest step you can take. Or you can start at the end where the idea is a total success and work backwards from there. The point is to fill out all the steps that take you from beginning to end (or end to beginning), create actions to fulfill those steps, and hold yourself accountable with dates to complete those actions by.
STEP 4: Put Your Nose to the Grindstone
Alright, now you’ve got your action plan in place. All you need to do now is work through it step-by-step. Easier said than done so a few things to remember as you embark on turning your vision into action:
1. Give yourself permission to fail along the way. You’re going to get knocked down and thrown off course. That’s okay. No good story goes without a little bit of conflict. Your success depends on your ability to get back up and keep going.
2. Expect the unexpected. You’re going to hit roadblocks along the way – these are simply opportunities to rest, re-evaluate, tweak and adjust your plan accordingly. That’s right, your action plan isn’t set in stone – you can always change the trajectory of your idea.
3. Acknowledge the journey. It’s so easy to get frustrated when you have to fill the gap, step-by-little-step, between where you started and where you want to be. Recognize and acknowledge that the journey is a part of your creative process that makes your idea meaningful.
4. Share along the way. Create accountability for yourself by sharing your idea along the way. Blogging about it is a great way to maintain momentum.
STEP 5: Know when to let go.
Our client Rochelle recently experienced idea overload and went through a painful break-up with some of her ideas. She wrote about it here and I couldn’t be more proud of her for recognizing knowing when to let go of some of her amazing ideas that were leaving her feeling scattered and diffused. If taking action on your idea leaves you feeling energetically drained then it’s probably time to let the idea go. Or at least shelve it until you’re capable and ready to see it through.
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Later this week I will be sharing in our Letters for Creatives an action plan worksheet I designed for my one-on-one Coaching for Creatives clients. I’ll also give you a few tips on which ideas to tackle first when you have too many to choose from. If you haven’t signed up yet to receive these exclusive emails straight to your inbox you can do that here.
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.
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A lot of our creative entrepreneur clients struggle with how to share about themselves and their businesses. Whether online, over email, or in person: how can you capture your vibe in a way that feels polished and consistent, yet real? How do you sound legitimate enough to get hired (or, if we’re being honest, impress a relative or new acquaintance), but still “you” enough to feel authentic and true to the dreamy-but-difficult path you’re carving out for yourself? It’s a tall order. An ongoing experiment. And talking about it can make you feel a bit like a mad scientist at times – pouring a heavy dose of over-explanation and a drop or two of self-deprecation into a vial and swirling it around, hoping it doesn’t explode in your face.
We’ve developed a not-so-secret formula for creatives in “mad scientist” mode. It’s a short-and-sweet equation of sorts for sharing content that we live by too. It’s deceptively simple (all the best things are), and something that anyone can “prescribe” themselves to figure out how to blend who you are with what you do, when sharing content. Here’s how it works – no safety goggles required!
Sharing Gifts of Knowledge
Your gifts of knowledge are nuggets of what you know and do best. Maybe you’re a photographer who’s a whiz with light. Or a graphic designer who geeks out over hand-drawn typography. Or a life coach who believes in blending a few different particular philosophies to guide clients to clarity and action. Sharing bits of that positions you as an expert, and gives your dream customers a way to find you – and a reason to want more.
Being A Likeable Expert
Now, when we say ‘likeable,’ we don’t always mean fluffy-friendly; we just mean authentic, and that means something different to everybody. Be 100% yourself when you’re sharing these gifts of knowledge. Get up on your soapbox and don’t be afraid to stake your claim. Maybe you’re a photographer who only shoots in natural light, or an interior designer who rails against generic “room-in-a-box” designs. Own it, share it – and you’ll start to attract it.
If your gifts of knowledge make you sound like an expert, then the voice you use makes you sound like a real-life person that someone might like to actually work with. Because at the end of the day, people want to work with people – so start writing / sharing / talking like the kind of person you’d like to work with (and stop apologizing so much!).
We always use the same formula to guide how creative entrepreneurs blend who they are with what they do:
FROM A _____ [b.] _____ WHO _____ [c.] _____.”
[a.] Your gifts of knowledge - those nuggets of know-how that draw people in
[b.] Your title or expertise - the simplest way to describe your service
[c.] Your soapbox - your super-pointy point-of-view that attracts your dream customer
Here are some formulas we’ve written recently for other creatives (you can see some of them in action in Kathleen’s recent behind-the-scenes-at-Braid post):
how to bring story and authenticity into your space
from an interior designer who loves curating objects and creating spaces
how to live happier and healthier with pets
from a pet living expert who knows we need them as much as they need us
how to transform communities and organizations
from a CEO who knows leadership has nothing to do with position
how to get work done & even grow a creative business as smart as you are
from a passionate geek-turned-business-owner (who’s been there)
While Braid’s formula might look something like this:
how to shape, share and sell your creative expertise
from creative entrepreneurs who blend who they are with what they do
You don’t necessarily need to share your formula with the world – it can just be a compass of sorts for when you need some guidance. It can help you when you’re brainstorming topics for your blog, and wondering if X makes any sense to write about. Or when you’re trying to explain to your sweet-but-clueless grandma what exactly it is that you do for a living. Or any time you’re about to hit “publish,” or “send,” or introduce yourself, and you want to do yourself justice without launching into mad-scientist mode (no offense to mad scientists!).
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If you’d like more help making sure your content is doing what you want it to, check out our Braid ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs – Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. This 4-part complete-at-your-own-pace ECourse is now open for registration and will be in session from April 18-27th. Learn more and register here.
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Or check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. You can sign up to receive work / life guidance straight to your inbox anytime!
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