There’s a Swedish saying that goes something like: “The shoemaker’s children always go barefooted.” That saying is an apt one to describe what it’s like to work as a creative professional while trying to build your personal brand at the same time.
If you’re like most of us, you are probably so busy with helping clients build their brands to the point of neglecting your own. You may be well-versed on how to drive engagement on social media or how to capture attention through appealing visuals. Yet you struggle to find the time to apply the same best practices to your own personal brand.
If the above resonates with you, fear not, you’re in good company! As a creative entrepreneur, I am often guilty of this myself. I constantly strive to remind myself why it’s important to work brand building. It’s not just about getting new business in the door. It’s fundamental to my survival as an entrepreneur and a creative person.
Here are three of my reasons why you should start investing into your personal brand today. You don’t need huge chunks of time. If fifteen minutes a day is all you have, make those fifteen minutes worthwhile!
Your personal brand will appreciate over time and have long-term value
Take a moment to stop and think about why we call brand and creative assets “assets”. What does “asset” really mean? A quick dictionary search defines the word as “a useful or valuable thing or person”. When used in relation to property, an “asset” is something that usually appreciates in value over time. The same is true for creative assets. Creating a new asset, be it a showcase video of your best work or a downloadable e-book on a topic you are an expert in, requires an initial investment. Over time, that investment begins to pay off, as it generates more awareness and leads for your business.
When you are delivering work for clients, your goal is to complete the project in return to a specified payment. Most of the time, you’ll do work designed to meet a client’s needs rather than to allow you to showcase your style or to hone your expertise. When you are creating work to build your brand, you are able to try out new things or do things without someone else’s brand guidelines limiting you. Essentially, you are investing in your future and where you want to be, long-term.
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Fresh ideas and inspiration come from “diffused thinking”
Chances are you spend a good part of your day in “focus mode”. Most client work is defined, with clear deadlines. In this mode, we are goal-oriented and we shut out distractions in order to get work done. This mode is important for reinforcing knowledge and refining existing skills through repetition and practice.
But breakthrough ideas and novel ways of thinking don’t come from this mode. They come from the “diffused” mode of thinking. In this mode, you are not intensely focused on deliberate practice. Instead, you are allowing your knowledge to run in the background, while you do something else. As a result, we are able to see big picture patterns and make new connections between seemingly unrelated things. Here are a few examples: Editing and revising copy – Focus mode. A brain dump of words that inspire you – Diffuse mode. Preparing final artwork for print – Focus mode. Experimenting with different colour schemes and design styles – Diffuse mode.
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When you are deciding what you should work on next to build your personal brand, you have the freedom to let your imagination loose. Regularly investing in this kind of “creation” time will not only help your personal brand. It will ultimately leave you more refreshed, stimulated, and ready to come up with new ideas for clients as well!
Investing in yourself not only pays off but benefits those around you
Think you’re too busy to spend time building your personal brand? That’s a warning sign you should pay attention to. If you have zero time to think about the future and where you want to grow your business, it means you are probably too busy fighting fires or focusing on trivial tasks.
When you are able to invest time in yourself, you are deliberately slowing down your pace to create a more balanced, rounded lifestyle. Consequently, you’ll find yourself stressing less and getting less frustrated with those around you as well. If you are managing a creative team, investing in yourself will show your team the benefits of doing so, and perhaps inspire them to do the same!
A few ideas to get started…
If these sound like motivating reasons to work on building your brand but you have no idea where to start, here are a few ideas:
- Skip 40 minutes of watching an episode on Netflix to write a blog post about how you got into the creative industry and what made you decide to pursue this career path.
- Spend 15 minutes making a list of creative people who inspire you and some of their content that you’ve learnt the most from. Spend another 15 minutes brainstorming how you can create similar content.
- Get up an hour earlier for a week to work on that piece of work you have been delaying – be it a novel, a video, or a piece of art. Breaking commitments into smaller chunks will make them seem more manageable. Once you have started, it’s easier to maintain momentum and keep going.
- Get in touch with a fellow creative and tell them about your plans to invest in your personal brand. Telling someone about your goals will help to motivate you and keep you accountable to them.
- Set a goal of reading at least one book a month or one in-depth article a week for the next three months. These articles and books should be related to a field you want to become an expert in.
- Sign up for a course or hire a personal coach or trainer to help you in areas where you are not naturally gifted, such as public speaking, closing sales or copy writing.
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It may seem daunting at first, but the process of building your personal brand will be immensely rewarding. Don’t try to do everything at once. Start small, and build from there. As the famous motivational quote by Sean Flannery goes, “Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”