There are secrets to doing what you love and more importantly, getting away with it. Sometimes, detours lead us to the final destination, but what I’ve learned from detours is where a destination isn’t obvious: Do What You Love. You don’t have to wait for success to begin today. Some people wait for success so that they can do what they really want to do. That means that people wait to help others, speak, write about their journey and often times, they wait for success to lead them to a platform. People wait to become discovered rather than build their own branding foundation. This couldn’t be more backwards.
Do What You Love
Find your platform now. Decide what the purpose of the platform is…for someone such as myself with “Creative ADD” it can be very difficult to narrow down fields of interests. You can choose to be everything or you can do one thing greatly. However, putting all your eggs into one basket isn’t the message either. Here’s how you can build your own platform, find an audience and decide your dreams. Find the essence of what you are seeking to accomplish.
Having a niche or a product is typically where it begins. A niche is an area of expertise that you are trying to appeal to employers, partners, the media, etc. A product is something you are trying to sell. When they go hand in hand, we call this “branding.” As Jennifer Pozner says though about personal branding, we must be careful to remember that we are not products. We are people. Putting a face to the journey is one way to begin appealing your niche or product. Creating a story is another. Remember to remain authentic. That is called humanizing what you are selling. Make it more about how it serves others rather than promotes you. Everything has to serve a need, and every need exists within an arena of people with that need. Who is your audience?
Audience is decided upon to whom you are trying to appeal your work. Before creating a website, social media presence, business plan or anything else, you need to start with your audience. You also have to create a marketing image, message, tagline. You have to essentially build a brand in order to navigate showcasing what you love doing. For example, at the Work in Progress stage of writing a young adult fiction novel, not only am I thinking about the next words I put on paper; I’m thinking about the people I’m affecting. Who will buy my book? Teenagers would seem the easy answer for the young adult fiction category; however, it is not. The people are the parents, the schools, the industry. Eventually, social media will come into play. I will invite people into the process through promotions. Treat every venture as though it is a start up. It doesn’t mean all your ventures are product based, but your values and skills must be sold as exactly that. Resumes online are not always enough. Where are you showcasing your value, and who are you showcasing it for?
You need to research- how do I reach my audience? Here’s an easy answer: Find someone who already has. Mentorship is huge. Build a shelf of mentors. In fact, networking while you are at a planning stage is all about mentorship. While planning to pursue your dreams, here are a few guidelines:
1. Practical Before Purposeful.
This means don’t quit your day job. I don’t care how passionate you are about a venture, it can’t be all that you are falling back on. For anyone watching Shark Tank, you can have everything put together in the short terms and be seeing return, but that doesn’t mean in the long term, it will work out. Life happens. Trends change. You might be in love with what you are doing. Does that mean that others will be? One of my favorite examples from Shark Tank is a woman and her friend came on stage with interchangeable straps to various tank tops. These straps had jewels at the end that you could mix and match with the tank tops. These women were asked a simple question about whether or not they had sold any at flea markets. The answer? “No, but everyone thought it was a good idea.”
Market research is important. Testing it out. Crowdsourcing feedback. Gaining input. Knowing that you do not know it all.
2. Balancing Act
One step at a time. Before you get overwhelmed by the big picture, pay attention to the small details. Too often we overlook what is right in front of us. Potential opportunities are always in the now. Part of building your brand story is paying attention to the journey, not just the destination.
Origami Owl founder, Bella Weems, humanizes her brand story by calling it a “happy accident.” Happily, she is worth about $250 million after this venture. How did it all start? She was 16 and wanted a car. Well, that’s something we can all relate to! She had a great idea. It worked. She raises money for causes and brings philanthropy into the brand. The brand message is about empowering other women to also have their own income. The packaging is also about bringing in an energy. When you receive an Origami Owl box, you receive a kit that is also a message. It is well designed, well marketed with a relatable brand beginning story that ultimately makes it about you.
Did Bella Weems think about the final destination? Often, great ideas come from looking at things from your own angle. You have a problem more immediately in front of you which needs solved. This becomes the basis for your brand.
3. Starting Over
Steve Jobs once said that his most creative period came after losing it all. Trials and triumphs are fleeting. You need more to weather the storm. That means you need resilience. Resilience comes from having a vision, but more importantly, the ability to rework that vision as life happens. Take in input, realize and accept if something isn’t working and if you decide to keep going on a project, find others who have already done some of the ground work.
Accepting that you are fallible is the best way to begin (or restart). The worst thing a person can do in the professional realm is to bring in the personal. Unless it like the brand story that Bella shares where she taps into something we can relate to and urges us to become empowered to solve our current problems, it is more likely than not that your personal story should remain out of the picture. Keep it minimal, where it is most needed. If everyone on twitter, instagram, facebook, pininterest and the like know your “sob story” then they won’t be as inspired to follow your path. Not unless you publish a book with the product or niche you are developing platforms in. A book with a business is a recommended thing. Even there, keep it about connecting the dots, as again Steve Jobs would have, and don’t lose sight over the outcome due to personal woes. Instead, let your brand show how you weren’t defeated by them. Unless you’re Eminem, no one wants to help you clean out your closet. Keep it protected, polished, practical and purposeful.
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