In pursuing anything in life, we ultimately have to encompass in our own being in order to achieve what we want. This embodiment is sometimes the hardest part of our pursuits.
In building my own brand, this has been one of my most insurmountable obstacles. I can learn HTML coding, find productivity tools, gain insights into common internet practices. Gosh, I can even learn all about creating PDFs from PowerPoints in methods that keep all my work safe from copying, screenshotting, or converting back to Word for lifting! So why is it so hard to establish a brand, especially a lifestyle-based one?
I came to the startling realization a while back: You are your brand. You are selling yourself. You are selling what you embody.
And that, my friends, is scary stuff! All those teenage fears (Will they like me? Am I trendy enough? I’m not the loudest one in the room; should I just be an observer instead?) take over the subconscious. While you are consciously toiling over your endeavors, your subconscious is wage a war on your efforts.
It’s taken a while to identify where the fear comes from and how to approach it, but this has given me several insights. I use these as a checklist on days when I question whether my post is good enough or if I’m on the right track in promoting my brand. They help tame the doubts I’ve had, because at the end of the day, I am good enough. And you are, too! If it’s a lifestyle you embrace that has enriched your life, then it is more that worthy to be shared with the world.
1. Let go of your idea of what others are thinking. On most days, I wish I could delete Facebook, but I need my personal account to create my website page. However, this social site causes me the most anxiety. There are so many people who have known me in different stages of my life and when you are writing from the present, it can be scary to think about how people from your past perceive you.
It’s not about the judgment on where you are in life, but the judgment on your authenticity. I’m creating a brand. I am my brand. Will they believe I am my brand or a poor cover for what I’m promoting?
Let it go. You have no way of knowing what they are thinking or perceiving. And even if you could, who cares? You didn’t start your brand to impress anyone or convince anyone and you certainly didn’t start it to change your Facebook friends.
When I get stuck on bad days in this mindset, I ask myself: Do I want my audience to be my Facebook friends or do I want something larger? I always go with the latter and that means that I have to move my focus away from the audience of the former. There’s not enough headspace to hold two audiences in your mind when you are creating.
2. Start and move however you want. I don’t know how many articles I’ve read about starting small and growing or how you should always aim high to get people to instantly be attracted to your ideas. Forget all this! Just start however you want; the most important part is that you began.
What makes quality and consistent content is that it coming from you. Sure schedule and plan your editorial content, but listen to that gut feeling. Some weeks you may be inspired to do more, some you might end up rescheduling a few things.
You are your own brand and that means that you get to dictate exactly what type of pace and scale you set for yourself. Don’t let someone else’s right way dictate your ideal method.
3. Embrace your lifestyle brand as a journey. Did you wake up knowing recipes for pumpkin spiced lattes, or how you were going to feel drinking coffee on a small footstool curbside in Burma? Can you predict which season you are going to like best in the next year or which moods will impact your brand further down the line? You can’t.
Your lifestyle is dynamic. You are dynamic. Your brand is also dynamic. It will change as you change and that is what provides you with creative and quality content.
I don’t subscribe to design and home brands because I want every room they display to be a part of my house, although it does make one question if we should have five living rooms instead of one. You know, for diversity! Your readers aren’t going to take away from every article, but they will find the few that are meaningful for their lives.
Embracing the journey also means being comfortable with leaving old content accessible to your readers. Maybe tweak a few grammatical errors or update a photo or link, but knowing that the brand has grown and developed brings humanness and authenticity to the voice you are creating.
4. Test out things you write about in your own life and be honest with the results. If your brand is going to encourage others to seek new avenues in their lives, then you need to also take the time to explore the avenues that you write about. As creators, we do pose pretty pictures and align are experiences into well-crafted content, but there has to be honesty in the portrayal of how it affected our lives. And not just in the positive, but in the edginess that happens when things don’t go the way they are planned.
This scares me too. I’m always wondering if I’m discrediting someone else’s choices in lifestyle or their positive experience. If I’m asking my readers to trust me, I have to trust myself to tell my experience in a thoughtful and considerate but honest way. It also means that sometimes words need to be put aside for real emotions. Emotions are terrifying little creatures to show the world. Who wants to put the monsters under one’s bed for the entire world to see? Yet, I am my brand and my brand will come with the fears and emotions that I hold in my life. In recognizing this, you turn your vulnerabilities into a source of empowerment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
5. Leave no success without celebration. No matter how small, trivial, or meaningless they may seem, every accomplishment is completely yours. You are your brand. You are the successes. You are each completed checklist and each new engagement. You are all.
Bonus: Stop worrying about your niche. Your brand is about lifestyle. It changes and expands and returns again. When you live the lifestyle journey you are promoting, you are in essence your own brand niche. Where you go, it goes. Where it goes, you go. You are helping others achieve their ideal lifestyle by capturing where yours goes.
You are already your own brand; you just have to start learning to accept this simple fact to embrace all that it can provide you.
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