How’s your website going? Is it doing what it’s supposed to be? How many enquiries have you got via your website? Any? Your website is the first place people turn to
If you’re finding that choosing images from somewhere like unsplash.com for your blog and social media posts a little overwhelming, I’ve got some quick tips that might help.
My first recommendation is to stay on brand. In my Design For the Non-Designer, I explain a little more in depth what this means, but here I’ve added a few more suggestions and ideas.
I came across this quote last year, “if it’s important you’ll find a way, if it’s not you’ll find an excuse” and I can’t believe how motivated I have been since.
Every time I find myself making an excuse for “not doing it” or “I’ll get around to doing it” I would stop and ask myself ‘how important is it for me to do it?’
Another question I would ask, if I think it’s important… “will this have a high impact or low impact for me and my business?”
Of course if it was high impact then I would find it on my “I’d like to do” list.
If I found that it was a low impact but I kinda liked it, then I’d still write it down in my brand journal under the ‘meh-list’ and park it for another day.
If it’s important you will find a way to do it. Otherwise, if it has no significance then stay clear of it. Simple.
Ask yourself some of these important questions:
What sort of “return on investment/energy” will it provide?
Do I really need to be doing this task, or can I give it to someone else to do?
I don’t set any new year resolutions any more, because I know they are set up to peter out or forgotten and not achieved after awhile.
So now what I do instead is make a promise to myself one task at a time.
And I only make one ‘themed’ promise by month.
This way it’s achievable.
Have you heard the term SMART goals? If not, here’s what it means:
Smart goals are
Specific and to the point
Achievable not far fetched and you're able to achieve them
they are Measurable in other words you can test to see what has worked and what hasn’t,
they are Realistic again these are not far fetched and hard to achieve
Lastly are they Timely - meaning to put an end date to your goal. Write down a time or a date as to when you want to finish it - in a week, a month or 90 days?
And each SMART goal must have a great ROE “Return on energy”
When the end of the month rolls around, and I know I’ve achieved it, I make another ‘themed’ promise and so on, throughout the year.
Towards the end of last year I found I could easily make 90 day ‘commitments’ and follow through on them.
If you’re finding you want to make a few big commitment for 2019 for your business, sign up to The Bloom Collective’s Membership - the mini-power workshop
BE WILDLY PRODUCTIVE + FOCUSSED
is all about diving into planning, goal setting and filling your calendar [with only with the important things], so you can live a life of being proactive and not reactive.
Hope to you in there.
I’m a strong believer that whatever you do in business you need to have a few strategies in place. And when you develop a brand you need to know exactly which strategies will work [and which don't] so you can gain clarity on where you’re heading and ensuring success for the future. Seems logical right?
You could also see it like getting in the car and without any direction of where you’re going, you can easily end up getting lost. If you think about it when you get in the car and you drive - do you know exactly where you’re heading? Have you checked that you’ve got what you need to get there? Petrol in the car? Air in the tyres?
Creating a personal brand is kind of like that. Without direction and understanding the foundations of a rock solid brand you will end up lost. If you find that you’re signing up to the latest challenge, or hanging out in Facebook groups too often you can lose the moment of where you want to be.
I’m also an advocate of sharing with others not to think and act like an employee or even a Freelancer. I’d rather cheerlead others to being their own boss. And in order to be your own boss, you have to create your own personal brand with a few strategies in place.
Let’s face it most of us have been employees at some stage of our lives and had the calling to venture on our own. And most don’t understand the ramifications of not creating a brand for their business and not creating a clear path to where you want to be.
If you find that you don’t have a brand chances are you’ll end up lost. A brand is a guiding light that steers you in the right direction. It’s the light that your ideal clients see you and want to work with you. They will get you!
How to create your personal brand
The first step to creating a personal brand is understanding you.
Years ago I would have balked at this idea. But I think it was because I didn’t understand it and didn’t really understand me. After all, I was fresh out of corporate and going from boardroom to blogging was too fresh and new. After 25 years or so, in sales and marketing where the culture was “all about the customer”, it was pretty bloody hard to re-think and train myself to act like a boss and not a freelancer, let alone try to understand who my ideal clients were.
So if I can explain a little more in depth as to why we need to understand more about ourselves.
FIND YOUR SPARk!
This is the essence of creating a brand you love. What lights you up? What’s your passion? If you haven’t heard me say it before: “if your audience can’t see and feel your spark, your energy, your passion then how are they to believe what you do?”
If you understand more about what you love, what makes you buzz and be more in the zone then you’ll find that you will create your best work.
Ask yourself these questions,
What can I talk about for 8 hours?
What gets the goosebumps standing up?
What makes your heart sing?
Now write it down. In fact, I insist you get yourself a Brand Journal.
Write down your thoughts, feelings and brand-dump ideas into this journal - every. day! Work out the pros and cons of what you want to offer. Never look at what others are doing in your industry, then offer the same.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Without a doubt, there are probably thousands of people around the globe who offer brand and graphic design courses. And from what I can see many offer a 4, 6 or 10-week course to their community and at a $1200 price range.
I didn’t want to offer what they are doing because I’ve been talking to so many other solo entrepreneurs throughout my 5 year brand journey. And most have said to me, “I haven’t finished that course”.
My values come into play here as I never want anyone to buy from me and say “they never finished” the course. I worked out the pros and cons of offering a membership instead and with that can keep the price point to a realistic minimum without giving it away!
If you find that what you offer is pretty much ‘industry standard’, take a look around in other industries to see what or how you can offer instead.
Can you offer an additional service to your portrait photography, like a mini make up session on location? What about packaging your offerings similar to a business coach? Can you offer a three-tier pricing strategy like they do?
If you are in the industry where people come to you for your time and skills, I highly recommend to never offer packages at an hourly rate. How you spend your time it is up to you. Never offer an open-ended service package where the client guesses how much you can do in an hour.
Instead, think like a boss and develop strategies as to how you can package your offerings or create programs into bundles that are far more worth the end product rather than the client seeing the time spent.
When I worked with clients I always offered an introduction package. For people who hadn’t worked with me before, this was the quickest and easiest way for us to work on a design project and at an affordable price.
The second offering was a little more in-depth in terms of offerings and price. Generally, this second tier were bigger projects and took up some of my time during the week. And so on for the third offerings. This one is more about creating offerings that to your high-end red-carpet client and who can afford what you offer.
If a potential client sees the value of what you can bring to their business and how your services can add potential growth for them, then you will most often find they will not be squabbling over “what you did in those last 30 minutes”.
There is nothing more demoralising to offer a skill or program that everyone else is doing, and in particular, it’s not your zone of genius. Create packages that focus on your strengths and light up both you and your clients.
RECENTLY I'VE BEEN TALKING TO A COUPLE OF FRIENDS WHO ARE LOOKING AT STARTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS. SO FOR TODAY I WANT TO DISH OUT SOME ADVICE THAT I HOPE YOU FIND USEFUL. SOME OF IT IS RAW AND HONEST BUT THEN AGAIN IT WOULD'VE BEEN NICE TO HAVE KNOWN THIS BACK IN 2012.
Running a business isn’t all fairy tales and unicorns.
The truth is that you have to figure it yourself. Yes some people can sell programs and packages that can get you where you need to be, on a promise that you will learn to do it quicker. But the key to this, you have to build a business on your own path, in your own way. Fail and have flops is a must! These are part of the deal. Because if you’ve been through the tough times then you’ll be much more clear on your vision.
1. The Business Plan
Do you need to complete a 200 page business plan? It all depends on the type of business you want. If you’re going to have shareholders and JVs, even a retail business and you’re going to take a loan out from the bank, then yes you’ll more than likely need to complete business plan. Google the phrase, “business plan” and usually there’s a free version from your local government or business/ bank entity handing them out or download for free.
2. Expect to work 40+ hours a week
If you’re going to get serious about what you do. Plan for 40 hours plus each week, or more. Expect to eat, breath, and live all things about your business.
3. Set deadlines
I found I was often moving deadlines for my own projects. Then it occurred to me, I’d never move a deadline for a client or a deadline in my previous life. So why do it for myself?”
4. Get use to selling
Selling is the crux of your business. It’s what brings in the money. Get over it. Try different techniques until you get comfortable with one or two.
5. You can’t do everything
Avoid trying to do everything. If you’ve saved some money so you can live off capital - budget for a VA. Look for this kind of support Look for a VA who can has multiple skills. Outsource the administration type things such as, email newsletter, posting social media, blog and social media posting.
6. 50% of your time should be promoting your brand and what you do
Get your brand out there. Tell people what you do. If you want to promote your brand the slow way, try this:
- blog post
- share that blog post on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram
- network in FB groups - start a conversation - participate in a conversation
- network face to face
- share that blog post again and again - schedule it on social media several times and at different times
If you want to promote a quicker way,
- try Facebook advertising, Facebook and Instagram stories and include video
- do a guest post on a large platform or someone else's blog who has a similar audience to you
7. You don’t need to spend $10K on a website and branding
Use resources like CreativeMarket or StudioPress. They have pre-made websites and branding templates that will certainly help you get started and fairly quickly.
I love this one. I’ve been experimenting quite a lot over the last 18 months. Learn to try things out - experiment with your offerings and/or programs or even workshops test the market. See what people want. Talk to people.
9. Self sabotage
It happens. Identify when this can happens and what you do when it does. Self sabotage can come in all forms. It's self talk that can turn up and sound a lot like: “I’ll get round to that when I’ve done this…” Or “I can’t guest blog post, until my website is done”… or “I need abc to get xyz”.
10. Move quickly/move slowly in your business
I’ve done both. I’ve launched programs quickly and I’ve moved slowly in my business. My advice? If you move too slowly and you end up second guessing everything! Find a healthy medium between the two.
11. Balance your schedule between working 'in' and 'on' your business
Entrepreneurs wear so many hats. Learn to divvy your time and schedule effectively between each role. Avoid spending too much time doing one thing and not much of anything else.
12. A brand is a journey
Enjoy the ride.
13. Let’s talk money
This is probably the only time I’ll talk about money. Your outgoings [in terms of expenditure eg. utilities, website hosting, advertising, etc] should be less than your incomings [your earnings]. It’s when you start putting payments and expenses onto your credit card, that's when you might find you can get into trouble. In your first year or two [or in some cases more] these are the times when clients come in peaks and troughs. Once you have the steady flow of regular income, then you may want to invest in the bigger expenses - in order to grow. Whatever money you do earn - put away at least a third of it and don’t touch it. This is for the tax department and your savings.
14. Surround yourself with people who support you
And ignore those who don’t. Invest in a mastermind or a tribe that will empower you to think and do creatively as well as strategically building your business.
15. Shit happens
Expect it but don’t live in fear of it.
If you’re a creative like me you’re going to find repetitive tasks tedious, mundane + a little boring. Most creatives do. It’s not something we’re wired to do. Learn to be consistently creating content, blog posts, social media, email newsletters over and over again. Another way of thinking about it is to create high impact habits.
17. Start the right business
If you’re new to the entrepreneurial world - think about your passion. Don’t think which business will bring in the millions. If you’re going to live and breath, 24/7 everything about your business you might as well build something that you’re passionate about. One of my favourite quotes is:
Be passionate about what you do. If people can’t pick up on what you’re passionate about, how do you expect them to believe in you?
18. Build a brand not a business
Businesses can’t and won’t survive if they’re driven by their bottom line. Build a brand that touches on peoples lives.
Building a brand is about creating a community. A community is people believing in what you do and offer - how you inspire them and how you make that emotional connection. A loved up brand is always going to be successful [in so many ways].
19. Look after you
It’s a bit of a confusing world - where people dish out advice such as “live like there’s no tomorrow” or “tomorrow is another day”. My advice is like with anything in life - moderation. Have a healthy life and healthy business. Find a balance between the two.
20. You’re not going to be liked by everyone
Get over it. If you’re building something from the heart and you believe it helps many people then you’re coming from a good place. Some people may not get you - so what. Be genuine and be authentic - be you. It can be daunting to be transparent but like I said if you’re coming from a good place then eventually you’ll attract the right community.
21. JFDI. Just fucking do it
Avoid spending too much in your head trying to justify why you shouldn’t be doing. I spent a lot of 2016 second guessing everything to the point I was almost paralysed. For me it wasn’t easy growing up where people consistently judged everything you do. The ingrained monkey chatter [as Deepak Chopra likes to call it] - needed to stop. Just fuckin’ do it and don’t second guess it.
22. Learn to trust yourself and your intuition
That gut feeling that says “go for it” - then go for it. Avoid living a life that has regrets. If it doesn’t work out then…refer back to No. 15. above. It’s how you deal with it and bounce back is what will make you a better person.
23. Define success on your own terms
Be realistic about it too. If you’re in your first year of business and you haven’t brought in a $1Million - you can’t expect it. If someone has said they did in their first year - chances are that business wasn’t their first. You may find they've already tried, tested and failed a dozen times before. Define what success looks to you - celebrate if one person has signed up to your email list.
24. The competition
Often people advise to check out the competition in your market place. My advice is know who they are but leave it there. Find the confidence to be the leader in your industry. Seek inspiration from other industries if you want to. It can be unhealthy if you’re obsessed and constantly checking out what the competition is doing. Create programs and service packages that are built on your strengths not on someone else’s “success”.
25. Think like an entrepreneur
You’re in business and people come to you, because you offer something they want or need. Avoid thinking like a freelancer or you’re for hire. Big mistake is be in this position, as there are some clients who take advantage of this. They often expect way too much from you and your time. Stand your ground. You’re an entrepreneur - and not their employee.
Tell me in the comments below what resonated with you the most, or you’d like to add to the list? I’m always up for a conversation!
With gratitude and grace,
I WANTED TO SHARE A FEW MISTAKES I’VE MADE RECENTLY [AND YES THEY’RE AS RECENT AS 6 WEEKS AGO] WHEN IT CAME TO NAMING MY LATEST PRODUCTS. AND I WANTED SHARE THEM SO THAT YOU CAN AVOID MAKING THEM TOO. HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN NAMING YOUR PROGRAMS OR PRODUCTS.
As you may be aware I recently created and launched my free membership Radical Brand Love.
After a series of brainstorming sessions, I knew as soon as the name came to light, it made sense for what I was offering in the library.
Though I love the name, I thought it would inspire others to sign up and take action, and surprisingly many did. But not everyone understands the word “Brand”. And being at that stage in the business journey the word “brand” can be loosely translated into “branding”.
The offerings in the library are for people wanting to learn the key fundamentals on creating a brand on solid foundations. So I needed to be very clear on who my target audience is for this library, and for someone who is fairly new to the game it would be far more appealing that to someone who’s been doing it for a while.
The name Radical Brand Love stands firm on it’s own and that’s probably why I loved it so much. But I found it difficult to introduce other programs & workshops and have them relevant to one another, as well as the overall picture.
In the end I needed to create a name that’s easily remembered, and identifiable for my audience. And offering three separate programs at launch time could have meant I had to re-invent promotion strategies for each.
However, all is not lost with my RBL instead it will be used in future challenges.
SO, How do you name your products or programs
and stay on brand?
The following are a few important questions to ask to ensure you stay on brand and yet still relevant to what you offer and for your audience.
Consider the desired outcome for your audience? Where do you see them once they’ve been through your programs, or after they’ve worked with you? How do you want them to feel, be, do? Inspired? Rejuvenated? Radiant?
Avoid acknowledging them where they are now. Think of descriptive name and/or some adjectives that take them where they want to be.
STAY ON BRAND:
Remember the words or phrases you choose need to be on brand. What current adjectives have you already got and use for your brand?
Select words that stand the test of time not words that are on trend.
HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT I MEAN:
Take for instance the word “bloom” I decided to move away from RBL to something a little softer and more feminine and inspires other women in business to bloom and thrive for their brand.
The word bloom can mean several things. For me it’s relevant because I’m also inspired by nature, and yet can mean for my community to flourish and bloom as in growth; radiate for success, as would a flower.
There’s no harm in experimenting with your ideas.
If you have the time and the energy to test things out, then I say go for it.
But put a time limit on it and then review.
In the end I decided the creative library needed to be relevant for both newbies + aspiring entrepreneurs who want to learn to build a brand on solid foundations.
I also needed the name to be relevant to other programs I’m offering. Remember this too, the names you choose now, can they be expanded on if they’re created in the future with other programs and packages, without trying to explain too much with your audience?
You gotta have a relevant theme that’s on brand and on topic, otherwise, it’s just a bundle of confusion.
Avoid generic names like Gold, Silver and Bronze, though you can see each phase for your audience/clients I think we can get a little more creative than this.
Besides generic names don’t really mean or do anything for your clients.
Get your brandstorming hat on and come up with more creative ideas, but be very clear on the name and without being fancy.
By the way, if you’ve been around in my community for a while, the same scenario occurred for Design School. This name was off and easily misinterpreted for entrepreneurs. Instead, I think people saw it as a school for people who wanted to become a fully fledged designer. And sadly I’ve had to let this one go.
In the end I settled on the Bloom Collective - as what I offer is a collection of resources, workshops and the bloom store for creative-solo-entrepreneurs who wish to dive into designing their own, or need quick and easy solutions for building an unstoppable brand.
If you're new to all of this, I recommend starting with my free 5 day course Brand to Bloom.
This course will take you through some of the fundamentals of building a personal brand and how you can implement what you've learnt into your website.
[Side note Aug 2018 - this will be back a little later this year.]