Your brand story is your why. It’s the thing that motivates you to get up every morning and be an entrepreneur, even when it’s really hard. It’s also the heart of how to grow your brand. Your story is what connects you with people who will love and support you, not just your products and services. We have so many choices when it comes to the purchases we make. Those choices are made easier when we support the who and the what behind the product or service. We want to feel good about what we are supporting with our dollars. Think about a time when you bought a product because you loved the person who made it. What was it about their why, their mission, or personality that made you a fan?
You don’t have to have a story like TOMS to be interesting to people. You just have to be yourself.
I noticed that my friend had on a beautiful necklace that looked just like the style of jewelry one of my maker friend makes. I told her I loved it and she launched into this story about how she bought it at the Farmer’s Market from this girl who makes all of her jewelry at home with her two little boys and sells it on the weekends at the farmer’s market. It was my friend! Valerie was so excited to tell me the brand story of this necklace and its maker. You can have this same kind of excitement from your customers, but it starts with sharing.
How to tell your brand story (not your life story).
Your brand story is telling your why as it relates to the product or service that you offer. We don’t have to share every dirty detail of our life to be authentic and connect with our potential customers, just how our story connects to what we do and how it serves others. Imagine that you are having coffee with a friend who needs to hear your story for some encouragement. What’s the 3-minute version that hits the highlights?
The problem. What was the thing that was happening in your life, or the problem that you needed a solution for that started you down the path to becoming an entrepreneur? Maybe you had a baby and wanted to be home, or your husband lost his job and you needed to make more money. Did you have an amazing product or service idea because it was something you needed for yourself? Think about people who are reading this and how they may relate to this same problem.
The struggle. Tell us about the messy middle where you made your idea work. This is the hero’s saga where you bring your ideas to life. This stage of our story involves lessons, failures, and victories. Think about how you can inspire people.
A new beginning. This is the part of your story where you talk about the payoff and celebrate your success. You have come full circle from having an idea and developing a mission to executing your mission and living our your vision. Talk about how the product or service you have affects people and how the success of this makes you feel.
How to use your brand story
Use your brand story as your foundation for building your business. Your brand story is how you come up with your mission. You may change your ideal client or how you do things, but your mission never changes.
Keep yourself in alignment. Anytime in your business when you are not feeling happy with the way things are going, or you are comparing yourself to someone else use your why to check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I living my why?” If your why is to work for clients that you love, and you are, then you are successful! If your why is to spend more time with your family, but you are working all of the time, then you know what you have to change. You can move on to how to make the change.
Develop social media strategies. Your brand story can become one of the buckets of content that you share on social media and in your newsletters. Maybe every Friday you post a picture of yourself and share a story that relates back to your why. What was it like the first time you got paid for doing what you love? How is going to work now different from before you started your own business?
Create your about page. Your about page isn’t really about you. It’s about telling your brand story as it relates to how you can help people solve the problems that they are having with some personal details about you sprinkled in.
We all have a story and sharing yours will help you build a brand of loyal fans who support what you do. They will buy your products and services while raving about you to their friends. Don’t be afraid to let yourself be seen. Share your story and watch your business grow with a tribe of brand fans.
First of all, what is the spaghetti phase? If you have a business trust me, you do know what it is. It’s that feeling of floating in the ocean at the mercy of the tide. It’s that portfolio of work that says you will do any kind of project for anyone. It’s the mixed message from a last minute Instagram feed I just need to post something images. You are at the phase in your business where you are just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
The whole process of picking a platform, hiring a designer, and setting up hosting for your website can be really exhausting. For most people, it’s like trying to communicate when you don’t speak the language. You can be totally spent before you ever even get to the design process. Lots of people want to DIY their site. Maybe, you feel really comfortable with tech, want to have control of the process, or maybe you just need a site on a budget. I am going to break down the process, translate the web speak, and give you tips on building a great site, DIY style.
I have a confession to make. Anything to do with cars makes me want to hide. If my car has mechanical issues, you may find me curled up in a ball. It really stresses me out, because I don’t understand anything about cars. My fear is that because I don’t even understand the language, I will get taken advantage of. They could totally make something up and give me a huge bill. Of course, I would pay it because all I really know is that I need a car that works.
I started thinking that’s probably how people feel about web design. Designers and developers are as foreign to some people as alternators and engines are to me. If the thought of hiring a web designer or choosing a platform makes you want to curl up in a ball, read on as I break it down for you.
Branding is so much more than your colors or your logo. If you haven’t heard me say this before you have probably heard it somewhere. Color and design are so much fun to talk about though! It’s like when you want to paint a room. You move all of the furniture and cover it, you clean and tape the baseboards, then finally you get to paint. I love that first roll of color! That’s how it is with branding. You do all of the prep work with your brand foundations, your mission, vision, and values. Then, you get to paint your brand identity.
In breakups, it’s a common exit line to say, “it’s not you, it’s me”. This train of thought is that it’s kinder to the other person’s feelings or ego to shift the blame to oneself. It’s just not a good fit. There is no blame. One person is not wrong, while one person is right. The two individuals are just at different points in their journey to make a connection.
Are there times when business is slow or you just need some extra cash? Maybe, life is too busy to take on another big project, but you need to keep the profits flowing. Ask yourself, how can I make $100 today? There can be a quick fix. It can also give you some insight about how to up your monthly cash flow.
There are so many different ways to build a website! You can do all of the coding, just the design part, or a mixture of design and code. New options are coming out all of the time. All of the options can be like a shiny object, diverting your attention as you try to find the best choice for your business.
I recently rebuilt my site using a WYSIWYG plugin for WordPress. I was skeptical that this would make my site slow or not perform in the way it was promised. Fortunately, I have to say, I love it. In addition to my original site built with WordPress and Foundation, I used Elementor to update. As a developer, I am used to having a lot of control. Although the platform isn’t perfect, it made web design fun, while allowing me to maintain command of the site. Are you intrigued?
What store do you LOVE to buy clothes from? The place where if you need an amazing new outfit last minute for a date or a function, you go there first.
Lot’s of places sell clothes. That’s their business, but consumers BUY from brands. The brands you love sell goods or services that align with your expectations of quality, value, style, and service. In exchange, you become repeat customers who support them with your money and your praise. As a fan, you don’t just continue to buy, but you share your love through social media and recommending that brand to your friends. You can even be a walking billboard by wearing your new dress and having people ask where you got it.
Back in the day, people used to read these things called newspapers. They were paper rectangles folded in half and sold flat so that the most important stories were at the top of the paper or, above the fold. Above the fold now applies to web design. It is the portion of the site that can be seen on your screen without scrolling. This is the most important part of your website.
I love Seth Godin’s definition of branding, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
What this means is people ( you, me, your bff) buy from companies we become loyal to because they meet our expectations for customer service and product value (think Target). We become fans of businesses that we identify with because of their company values (think TOMS) or personality (think of your favorite maker on Instagram)
It’s officially summer and for many of us, it’s a slow time in our business. I love snow cones, pool days, and road trips, but I also really love to work (and have money in my bank account!). If you are feeling a little freaked out and maybe underprepared I feel ya! The good news is you can actually use this time while you are not working in your business, to work on your business and make more money when business picks up again.
This is the perfect time to work on your business!
I was at my local Tuesday’s Together meeting and a photographer was talking about how she struggles with pricing because when people say they can’t afford her she feels bad for them and drops her prices. Do you feel the heaviness of this? She feels bad for them because she is compassionate, but then she devalues her work and takes money from her own family by dropping her prices. That doesn’t feel good either.
As creatives, we are never good at just one thing. You have probably also heard this referred to as multi-passionate. The great thing about having so many interests is that creativity feeds creativity even when they are different disciplines. I love switching from the structure of web design to the freedom of abstract painting. I love painting and I always get ideas for colors and patterns that I can use in my print and web work.
The only hiccup is that this can make it hard to choose which direction to go in when starting a business. When you are good at web design, illustrations, and sewing, how do you pick? Most people can’t choose and try each one or all at once.
Having an email list is one of the best tools you can have to grow your business. This list gives you a direct link to speak to customers with whom you have built a relationship, based on their interest in your products or services. You can collect an email list through a variety of providers. In essence, they are all very similar. Knowing how you want to use your list will make a difference when you go to choose a platform that is right for you. Two providers that I have used are Mailchimp and Convert Kit. So, I will use those as examples of what to look for.
Your website is so important to running your business well. It’s the foundation of your business where people purchase, subscribe, contact, and register. It’s like having an employee that works for you 24/7. The success of that employee depends on you. This is a 5 point checklist to get your website in shape.
Here are some tips to increase your reach on Instagram by writing better post.
1. Each photo should work together to make one cohesive story. You can achieve this by having a color story that runs through your photos and keeping the same style to your photos. You could have a bright, fun style with lots of white backgrounds and bright colors. Maybe, you like really warm tones and rich colors. People look at your grid before they decide to follow you. So, you want your grid to visually tell the story that matches your message.
As we grow and change, so does our business. Sometimes change can seem scary, but it’s a totally normal part of expanding your business. How we do what we do and who we do it for may change, but our mission and values stay the same.
When I first started working for myself, most of my portfolio work was really corporate. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it took a little time to replace my work with projects that would attract the kind of clients I wanted. So, when I started out, I branded myself as a general print and web designer. Now, I focus on creative entrepreneurs and providing services for branding, web design, and coaching.
When you are a one-woman show, small business owner, your funds are limited. So, as you are trying to grow your customer base and stabilize your monthly income, the thought of spending money can be scary.
How do you know how and when to invest in yourself? It’s helpful to know three things. One, when you buy tools to run your business, you will see a return on your investment. Secondly, the investment of those tools can scale as your business grows. Last, but for sure, not least, these are a tax write off, yay!