As I'm wrapping up now 10 months of being an entrepreneur and also as a side hustler while I maintain my day job, I've been contemplating a lot as the year is coming to a close.
Perhaps it's the cold weather bringing in new and different thoughts, or the fact that I would prefer to curl up with some hot tea and a good book instead of hopping on my laptop, or just that I'm ready to go in a different direction the more I learn about business.
Whatever the case may be, I'm finding that I may have been doing this business thing all wrong.
Now, I have a tendency to be dramatic, so don't think that my life is falling apart, but what I mean, is I think I have followed too closely and done things so inside the box that maybe the reason I don't have a large following or am able to quit my day job yet has to do with the fact that I have to face the facts that I'm not original.
Even though I've written blog posts about how to stand out and be a leader in your industry, I have not followed my own advice. How come it's easier to give advice rather than do it yourself?
So, to be specific, the thing that is not original within my business is the process for my business and how I'm showing up in the world.
I've followed very closely to industry leaders and looked to them for help and guidance. And while that's not a bad thing, I do believe it's hindered me to find my own voice.
Finding your own voice is tricky because you have to be silent to hear it. When you're following so closely to others you can't hear yourself as clearly or it's hard to know if what you're saying is genuine.
It's easy to follow what everyone else is saying and doing, especially in a saturated niche, but what I've learned is that you need to disconnect with those in your industry so you can find your own voice.
This can come in the form of not creeping on other's websites, unfollowing on Instagram, and keeping others in your same industry at arm's length so you can develop your own original voice and path.
Tell Your Own Story
When I started my business I understood branding to be colors, design, photos, layout... mostly aesthetics. I also understood branding to be personality and vision as well, but now, after being in business for almost a year and after researching very successful brands, I have concluded that all those things are just the basics.
It's about the story.
Building a brand story is the underlying current for what drives your business and this is what I'm realizing that successful brands carry out. I mention brand storytelling in my last blog post, but it's about capturing your audience with a story and inviting them to take part.
This is easier said than done.
It's one of those things that it may take some time to develop, but carrying out a brand story is about understanding your core values and shaping your unique point of view to reach out and captivate your with common ground.
For example, Jasmine Star, a world-renowned wedding photographer, built her brand on being authentic (when it wasn't the cool thing to do), and on capturing intimate moments. And her brand is all about that, she shares intimate things on her Instagram feed, special moments on social media, and her work is a beautiful display of precious times that she's invited to be a part of.
So how can we develop a brand story all our own?
Think about what you truly care about. Where you're at in your journey and how it's molded you into who you are. And own it. It's hard to do when you feel like you don't have a lot to offer, I get it, but you do. And your audience will connect when you're being real and sharing from where you're at.
Create Your Own Category
I recently completed an online course from an industry leader I look up to very highly, and during one of the Q & A sessions someone asked if she followed anyone else in the branding industry and she said something that really stood out to me. She said that she tried to be so unique that she wouldn't even be considered a brand designer but that she would be her own category.
How interesting. What if that was our goal. To be so unique and do things so differently that we were considered to be our own category?
While I don't think it's beneficial to be different for the sake of being different, it's important to recognize that we should be different in a way that helps our audience.
Thinking how I can do this for my own business, it can be done in the form of processes, how you work with your clients, what and how you communicate with your audience, and crafting your unique point of view.
It's a challenge and I am excited to get started.
My Thoughts on Blogging and Social Media
It's easy to get caught up in everything you SHOULD be doing for your business without remembering what your own goals are.
I remember industry leaders telling me to blog multiple times a week, to be pinning to Pinterest 5 times a day, and posting to Instagram 4 times a day. While the idea of this is great, it's unrealistic for me. Especially when I only have so many hours to work on my business.
So let's start with blogging.
While I think everyone should have a blog for their business, for some people it's a lot more relevant and appropriate than others.
If you're a social media expert, blogging a couple times to several times a week would be very helpful to position yourself as an expert and give your ideal client valuable tools and tips. But if you're a cosmetic company, you would probably only need to blog a couple times a month.
For me, I've been doing my best to keep up with blogging twice a week, and it's worked well for the most part. But the thing is, my priority isn't to get tons of traffic. My priority is to find potential clients who are interested in my design services. So while blogging is helpful to get people "in the door" and see that I know what I'm talking about, they then need to see my work.
But after blogging, social media, keeping up with my newsletter, and managing clients, I've found that there is no time left for working on art and design projects. Which is what my potential clients need to see anyway.
And while I love blogging, so what I've decided is that I can blog once a week and work on art and design projects with the rest of the "business time" I have left.
As for social media, I want to share more projects on Instagram. I feel like I haven't utilized this platform as well as I could.
And Instagram, for makers and artists especially, is an incredible marketing tool. Pinterest is another one I want to get better at. And yes, I'm only focusing on 2 platforms right now.
This whole process of thinking through what's been working, what hasn't been working, and identifying things I need to change is necessary when running a business. It's all about pivoting and tweaking.
It's about taking a look at priorities, seeing where you want to go, identify you're main objectives, and change course in order to push the needle.
I hope this little rambling list of things I've learned has helped you. If you're like me and you're realizing you need to make some significant changes with your business for the new year, I would love to hear it. Share in the comments and I would love to cheer you on!