Kathleen here. Yesterday Tara and I were in a meeting with a couple of soulful creatives who are out on a mission to change the world and create community – one person at a time. In fact, most of our dream clients and creative colleagues either want to build, facilitate, or crave a sense of belonging to their tribe. The idea of cultivating community has always been a bit overwhelming to me – until recently. It’s been hard for me to pinpoint what “community” even really means and I wasn’t sure I’d know it if I saw it – until I built a fire pit in my own backyard.
Around this time last year I was just a few months in to my new mom gig and my world had been turned upside down by a new tiny human. One Friday night after work I was hanging out with my sister in her kitchen (yup, we’re business partners and best friends) wearing my sweet happy baby in a sling. My husband texted “where you at?” and when I told him he offered to pick up some pizza and beer. We were all together and for the first time I felt comfortable in my new normal. Everything about that evening was so good, and as we were leaving to head home for a long sleepless night my sister’s neighbor came out wanting to see the baby. In the midst of some neighborly chit-chat she mentioned that the mid-century modern split-level house next to hers was about to go on the market – I said “SOLD!” and just a couple months later my little family was moving into a house practically across the street from my sister.
One of the things that appealed to me most about my new neighborhood were the neighbors. When I signed on the dotted line I also inherited an annual block party – I was happy to oblige. During Christmastime neighbors leave hand-painted ornaments, presents for your kids, and tins filled with cookies and caramel corn “from Santa” on your porch. The whole neighborhood celebrates the 4th of July with our own little parade. Even so, I craved something more… I wanted to get to know my neighbors beyond the holiday bustle. So I built a fire pit. Now almost every weekend around dusk we start a fire and my neighbors bring the beer and marshmallows. Kids run around in my yard while the grown ups exchange candid conversation and big belly laughs. Or sometimes we’ll just quietly stare into the fire together as the night sky around us grows darker.
So back to the other day in this meeting when our clients were talking about building real community … I couldn’t help but ask “What’s your fire pit?” What’s the thing that brings everyone together and invites an exchange of thoughts and ideas? Is it an actual fire pit? Maybe it’s a table at your favorite coffee shop. Maybe it’s a monthly book club or even a Facebook group. What’s your fire pit?
It can be hard to cultivate community, but building a fire pit … that’s easy.
Our most popular ECourse on Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are with What You Do is now open for registration – and this will be the last time it is ever in-session before we roll out our Braid Method Branding ECourse in June. Learn more and register here – and if you haven’t already, sign-up for our Letters for Creatives newsletter for an ECourse discount!
And as always, if you need more work / life guidance check out DIY Coaching for Creatives. It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content and worksheets delivered straight to your inbox. You can sign up to get these anytime!
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Kathleen and Tara here. We want to talk to the designers out there for a minute. You want to be this amazing creative designer who works for yourself… but it can come with all this fear of rejection, self-doubt, and uncertainty (like "is this even a real job?").
But you do it anyway because you love design, and you want to create a working life for yourself that you love.
One thing we’ve learned from working with, talking with and getting dreamy with other designers, is that it doesn’t matter if you work in a big city, small town, or somewhere in between – designers rarely stop at just being designers. There’s always a vision.
So what’s your vision? Is it to design for a certain kind of dream client? Who? To design within one very specialized kind of niche? What? To pair design with planning, consulting or some other kind of service? How? To infuse your design with more purpose? Why? To what end?
All the questions!! But that’s how we do. We always want to give you a framework for thinking about what’s next for you and confidence owning what you can embrace now.
We started as designers. We still are designers. We love branding designers. So we got all fired up and wrote a how-to-do-it-guide... for the designers. It’s really how we shaped our work into a method that lets us do the work like creative experts, and it’s how we share what we know in a way that brands us (and gets us hired as) creative experts.
So how do you shift from being solely a designer-for-hire, to being a creative who guides their own process, shares their point-of-view, and is branded (and hired as) an expert? 7 Ways Designers Become (& Brand Themselves As) Creative Experts is the ebook we’ve made just for designers, and you can download it for free when you sign up for our Branding for Designers emails to your inbox.
The ebook has exercises, reminders, inspiration, plus the fill-in-the-blank scripts we use when we brand designers, that help you start to shape what being a creative expert looks like (and sounds like) for you. We know if you can get that creative expert blend into what you do, then everyone else will see it too.
Here’s a quick look at the “7 ways” in a nutshell:
1. Don’t just show your work… share your vision. What do you love to design? What kind of clients do you have the most impact for? What project or idea do you have up your sleeve, that you could share? What are you thinking about doing next? Surely you have at least one platform where you could start talking about this vision a little more – even if it’s simply in your conversations. (click to tweet)
2. Share your work too, just make sure it’s the kind of work you want to attract more of. If you don’t already have current design projects that reflect the kind of future work you want to be known for – then design a passion project. And show it! (click to tweet)
3. Define your style point-of-view and declare it! Can you put your finger on the style you love? Can you verbalize the design aesthetic that you’re most drawn to? Can you look at your work and see a common thread that people can expect from you? (Hint: your clients may not be able to describe it, but they can see it… so why not put words to this look and feel… it will make you sound like a creative expert, and it will make them feel trust in your choices that no longer seem arbitrary but part of your specialty). (click to tweet)
4. Try to narrow in on your dream client! Who are they? If you don’t know, how do you know when you find them? (click to tweet)
5. Then once they’re your clients, let them in on your creative process! Don’t have a creative process? Yeah, you do. You just need to get better at outlining it (for yourself, and them) and then sticking to it! (click to tweet)
6. Don’t forget to tell them what they actually get. Being a creative expert does not mean being vague. You’re still doing stuff. Ideas and inspiration are great and all, but what are they actually paying for? Don’t forget to clearly straight-talk tell people what you’re designing, packaging up, and delivering for them – and where that delivery ends. (click to tweet)
7. Blend you into what you do. The blend is your special sauce, it’s You: The Professional plus You: The Person. So be sure your style and your voice are reflected in your brand. That means talk how you really talk, set your own rules for how you work, and get your own design style (even personal style) into your brand look and feel. (click to tweet)
Get your free ebook:
Get the “7 Ways Designers Become (& Brand Themselves As) Creative Experts” EBook by Tara & Kathleen, with scripts, exercises, reminders, and inspiration for the designer blending who you are into what you do, as you define your personal brand, build your creative expertise, and create your dream job.
If you’re interested in working with us one-on-one to develop your Brand & Business Vision learn more about how we work with designers.
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You may think you need to get all your ducks in a row—a perfect business vision, business model, business brand, personal brand… all neatly lined up and packaged up, before you start sharing content with anyone else.
So you hesitate to launch until you know every single detail is perfectly in place (and every person who sees it will love it).
You shy away from telling people what you really do in conversations until you’ve proven you’re a success at it (and that means proving it to yourself first, which can be the most difficult person to please of all).
You circle around a blog post or an email you want to send for days, until you muster the courage to put something that’s a little more personal than professional out into the world.
Or vice versa, you backpedal from writing about your business dream versus the typical weekend highlights that your friends and family have come to expect from fun-loving, weekend-loving (but surely not business-loving!) you.
You’re waiting. You’re waiting for your business, or your dream, or your brand, to match what it is you want to say now. But they’ll never catch up with your head and heart. So just say it. (Tweet this)
Whatever the content is—you’re waiting to hit send, publish, or even say it out loud—the point is, you’re waiting. You’re waiting for your business or your dream or your brand to match what it is you want to say now. And here’s the thing—they’ll never catch up. Your head and heart and all it wants to say are always going to be two steps ahead of the business or brand or dream you’ve already been able to create. So just say it.
Say it if it’s not perfect, write it if it’s not 100% fully-formed, share it if it’s still just sharing the journey along the way. Because if those first rocket-fast years of working for ourselves taught us anything, it’s that your content shapes your what you do, not the other way around.
If we sound passionate here, it’s because when we started Braid we were saying all the things our past experiences had taught us were true, but we were also saying a lot of the things that we wanted our business to become. We said we were “for the creatives!” when half our clients were simply small businesses and the other half were the creative entrepreneurs. Today we’re 100% creative entrepreneurs. We used personal branding as just one aspect of the kind of branding we do. But we talked about personal branding in practically every post or email we wrote. Today we consider almost every branding project we do – personal branding.
The spark for this post, for the words we’re sharing with you now is our Braid ECourse this month, Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How To Buy You. If there was one revelation that’s come from this ecourse, now in it’s third year, it’s come from the “Braiders” who have taken the course and haven’t been shy to share their comments. They ask us tough questions as they carve their messages, because they take this course seriously. Because they get it. What they say about their business now is really what they are saying about their future vision – and themselves. It’s where they want to go next. What they want to be doing.
So yeah, this is an ecourse about sorting your ideas and writing content that says what you want it to say about your personal brand, about your business—but it’s also about shaping what you want that business to become.
What you’re saying about your business now, is really what you’re saying about your vision. It’s where you want to go next. (tweet this)
The next time you introduce yourself, instead of diminishing what you do, say what you do plus that dash of what you are just starting to to do but still don’t have completely figured out. So if you’re a designer who is really starting to transition into brand consulting. Say “I’m a designer, but my specialty is branding.” If you’re a lifestyle coach who is really wanting to focus in on eating issues or concerns, start writing most of your posts (be it your blog or simply your Instagram) about changing our relationship with food.
To quote the work of Florence Scovel Shinn (you know it, but it’s an oldie and a goodie), “your word is your wand.” What you say, what you write, what you choose to talk about is what you put out into the world – and lookie there, it’s what comes right back at ya.
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 (yes, that's TOMORROW)! 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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