Business, Niche

No Niche? No Problem

So babe, here’s what you already know:

You’re an awesome creative pre-preneur who’s ready to finally start her own creative business.

You know what you’re good at, and you’re ready to share your products or skills with the world.

Except you also know that there are about a gazillion other creative businesses out there who do exactly what you want to do. And many of them do it so well, you’re already doubting whether you have what it takes to succeed before you’ve even started.

So babe, here’s what you already know:  You’re an awesome creative pre-preneur who’s ready to finally start her own creative business.  You know what you’re good at, and you’re ready to share your products or skills with the world.  Except you also know that there are about a gazillion other creative businesses out there who do exactly what you want to do. And many of them do it so well, you’re already doubting whether you have what it takes to succeed before you’ve even started. | Think Creative Collective

Ok, deep breaths.

You’re feeling the suffocating weight of obscurity right now, but that’s alright. First things first, there are a couple of truths to accept when building a business like this:

  • You will be one of many

  • You won’t always be the best designer / illustrator / hand letterer / maker

  • People buy products and services based on the way they feel about them, not always on how great the product/service actually is

That last point is the kicker. That’s the secret sauce superpower that you’re going to harness while you’re building up your amazing new business.

Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t focus on doing the best work you possibly can - you absolutely should! But even if you are the best of the best, you’ll still need to ensure that your work is seen, and that your voice is heard.

In a sea of other creative entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But with clever, in-context education, great branding, and a strong sense of identity, you can find your business’ superfans who will love what you have to offer.

Here’s how to do it:

Set up an undeniably amazing brand

This is going to be the biggest piece of the puzzle: Find a designer you love, and set up a crazy on-point brand.

A stellar brand will be the biggest differentiator in helping your business stand out in the crowd.

See, brands do much more than make you look good. Brands are substitute personalities for you when you’re not there to tell someone all about your business. Brands speak to people on an emotional level.

You want potential customers to feel amazing when they experience your brand. Because as we know from the points above, people buy the things that make them feel good.

Gather your thoughts on your business - what do you see when you close your eyes and picture your website or storefront? What types of people would shop there, what other brands would they enjoy? Then, work with a designer to build a brand that speaks to your ideal customer's emotions and style, while keeping in alignment with your business’s mission.

You’ve got it, so flaunt it! Work with what you’ve got!

Take inventory of the resources you have around you. No, you may not have the fancy DSLR your peers and competitors have, but you do have a phone and a great eye for composition. Take your best shots, build your gorgeous branded website, and promote your launch like you’re throwing the hottest GRAMMYs afterparty.

You don’t have to wait around to get better. I know you have incredibly high standards for yourself, but honey, no amount of research or practice or thinking things over will ever substitute for hard work and real action. Dive in. Work with what you have and make it amazing.

Educate your future tribe mates

On your website, include a blog section that talks all about your products or services. This will help educate visitors on the beautiful uniqueness that is you and your business’ identity. Some example posts to cover would be:

  • Why you started your business and your mission

  • What your background is

  • What problems your product or service solves

  • What type of person would get the most benefit out of your product or service

  • Behind the scenes stories from your studio

  • How your things are made & why that’s important

When you put information like this on the table, visitors to will fall into one of two categories - “I love this, I want to read more!” or “This isn’t for me.” This is exactly what you want to happen.

You want a visitor to experience your brand, read your content, and make that decision for themselves, very quickly. If they love what you’re doing, they’ll stick around (sign up for your email list, register for a webinar, visit the site again, etc.). If they don’t love it, then they’re not your ideal customers - they will be one less person you have to waste your time trying to sell to!

Focus on finding your people.

So you’ve got your brand all set up, your website is launched, your blog is full of informative material - you’re ready to roll! Continue to blog and create valuable posts that educate your ideal customers. Write directly to them. Picture them reading your posts and saying, “This girl gets me - I totally want to work with her.” When you write and promote with your perfect client in mind, you will attract them and weed out anyone else who might not be as awesome.

This is a super fun exercise when it comes to developing your ideal client: Answer the questions in this post to get to know your ideal client on a more personal level (bottom of the post, under the heading “Define your ideal client”).

Stay consistent, don’t give into second thoughts.

 

Do your thing and do it consistently. Make sure your weekly emails are automated. Have templates to use for Pinterest and other social media graphics. Get on a content schedule for your blog and social media posts. This builds the brand awareness that will ultimately attract more of your ideal customers.

When your ideal people can count on you to deliver the goodness when you say you will, they will trust you and look forward to your updates!

Work fearlessly!

Don't worry about what your competitors are doing - keep working hard. It’s healthy to check in now and then to make sure you’re staying relevant within your field, but don’t second guess yourself when you see someone doing something different. Stay the course, babe. You know what the heart of your business needs to do. Stick with your gut and work fearlessly.

Wisely invest back into your business.

Whenever you can, invest back into making your business stand out from the crowd - does that mean adding a new product line? A new, unique facet to your services that no one else is offering? Do you need to hire a VA so you can focus on something different? As your business grows, you’ll learn more and more about your customers and their needs. Cater to them when appropriate. You’re making money now, so congratulations on your successful creative business!


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Business, Niche

Starting with Your Why: How to Stand Out in Your Niche And Remain Authentic

Lately, there have been a lot of “pinch us” moments around here. Like, why do we deserve this growth? Why are so many people listening to what we have to say? What we do here isn’t rocket science. It isn’t revolutionary. In fact there are probably dozens of entrepreneurs out there, teaching about similar subjects, perhaps even in a similar format.

So what has contributed to the success of Think Creative Collective? 

Lately, there have been a lot of “pinch us” moments around here. Like, why do we deserve this growth? Why are so many people listening to what we have to say? What we do here isn’t rocket science. It isn’t revolutionary. In fact there are probably dozens of entrepreneurs out there, teaching about similar subjects, perhaps even in a similar format.  |  Think Creative Collective

We get asked this a lot. “What’s that one thing that made a huge difference to your success?” Guys, it isn’t just one thing. It is a series of super-small things. It isn’t just about consistency or dedication, or drive.

It isn’t just about the quality of our content or even just about how we communicate. It isn’t just because we have stellar content upgrades or rocking webinars. Our success is fueled by a series of super-small wins.

Then, just the other night, I (Abagail) was sitting in a meeting for a non-profit for which I volunteer (the Junior League, for all you curious folk). We were discussing donations and why people give. This video came up. And for me it was a huge freaking reminder….

Guys, I promise - you NEED to watch this video. Do it now, babe!

Our Why

It hit me like a ton of bricks. The answer was staring us right in the face. Our success didn’t have to do with what we offered, but why we offered it. See here, our goal at TCC isn’t solely focused on a bottom line. Instead, we want to see a radical shift in the entrepreneur community.

A shift in which we can change the creative landscape. We want to change the creative community from one that contains hoarders of knowledge and keepers of secrets to one that is made up of ever-loving givers. We want to be a part of a movement that opens doors, warms seats, and makes people feel welcome. We want to empower women from all over the world to go after their dreams and to be rewarded with soul-fulfilling work. The kind that isn’t just good for the heart, but actually lets them earn more than merely a living wage. The kind that allows them to live the lifestyle they want, and to have more time for living.

We don’t hide our “why”. It’s in our voices every time we do an interview. It’s in our words on our blog and in our webinars. It’s in black and white on Instagram and inside our private Facebook community.

We fly that flag of honesty everywhere. We aren’t ashamed or scared that our “why” is “Oprah-sized.” We don’t diminish our dreams. We don’t talk them down. We let them live and breathe and we tell the universe what we want - loudly and clearly.

Your Why

We want you to take the next 10 minutes and really spend some time soul searching about: 

  • What is it that fuels your fire?
  • What gets you jazzed up every morning?
  • What excites you?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Reflect on your why. Write it out. Say it out loud. Record yourself on camera (no one said you have to show anyone!) and tell the world what you want and WHY you want it.

Now babe, as much as you might think burying this in your favorite notebook might be a good idea, I want to remind you that people BUY because of your why. People BELIEVE what you say when it is fueled by your why. They learn to TRUST you in ways you have yet to understand. Your why is CRITICAL to your success.

So let’s take it a step further. Think about:

  • How you can showcase your why
  • How you would illustrate it on Instagram
  • How you would include it in your About page
  • Whether you could write a blog post about it?
  • Whether it could be included in your elevator pitch?

No, no, no. We aren’t asking you to radically change everything about your business. We're just asking you to take a risk and start putting yourself on the line. Let that passion live and breathe on the outside, rather than become trapped in your heart and your mind. It deserves to live a life of its own. Now - let it go shine online.


We want to know your why. Put it out there for the world to see and share it in on an Instagram post. Be sure to tag us so we can cheer you on! @thinkcreativecollective


Niche, Community, Blog

5 Challenges Every Blogger Faces

Before we even dig in you already have an idea of what challenges you face daily. Instead of going at it blind, prepare yourself with the tools necessary to take on these common issues head first. You will be so happy you did!

5 Challenges Every Blogger Faces  |  See what the problems are, but know how to face them dead on. These solutions are right under your nose.  |  Think Creative

1. Finding a Niche

Problem: Defining where to start is always a challenge, especially if you are new to blogging. A lot of your time is spent finding that topic that really calls to you. When I began I really only had a spark of an idea. Over time I have been able to refine what it is that I actually cover. Here are somethings you could find helpful.

Solution: If you are struggling to find a place to start. It is best to go all the way back to square one. In How to Start a Blog: My Journey, you can discover all the initial steps I took that got me to where I am right now. Perhaps you are further along in the process and really already have a topic in mind. Figure out how this topic is going to work for you and define some goals around it.

Remember: You must instantly communicate who you are and what you do as soon as someone lands on your blog. "People make snap judgements. It takes only 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about a person, and websites are no different. It takes about 50 milliseconds (that's 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they'll stay or leave. (source)"

2. Producing Quality Content

Problem: You have developed a niche that is all your own, written in your own style and voice. Perhaps you even planned ahead and developed a content schedule that covers different facets of your topic equally and systematically over time. However after several weeks or months of writing you find it difficult to cover new and exciting content.

Solution: In addition to having a well thought out content calendar, keep a journal of topic ideas. I write ideas down all the time. It might be inspired by something I heard someone chat about, something I read or maybe it is a stroke of brilliance that hit me in the shower. I will journal them in my notebook and then add them to my Blog Post Brainstorm Wunderlist. This list helps prevent the dreaded writer’s block, I can go back and revisit it as often as I want and find it a great tool to pull from when developing my calendar.

Remember: You must continue to stay inspired to develop awesome content. Follow your favorite bloggers on Bloglovin’, pin your favorite articles on Pinterest and screenshot those inspirational images on Instagram. Review often!

3. Battling the Noise

Problem: There are millions of bloggers in the U.S. and even more from around the world. How do you compete in this sea of noise? Not only are people bombarded with other blog content, but hundreds, if not thousands of chance exposures to advertisements and media everyday. Just twenty minutes in Times Square and you could be exposed to over 500 messages (source). How in the world are you supposed to stand out?           

Solution: You have to be yourself before you can be anyone else. Instead of trying to blend in, differentiate yourself and your content. On Friday I will cover in detail how to put more YOU in Your Business. Until then you might start with 5 Common Sense Ways to Live Your Brand.

Remember: You do what you do for a reason. It might help to reflect on why you turned down this path in the first place. I recently did this exercise and not only did it help me, but also my readers began to understand my motivation and purpose.

4. Connecting with Others

Problem: It is very easy to feel like we are on a lonely island in the middle of the deep blue sea, but I promise you are not alone. Creating connections in your niche and/or business are crucial to its survival. But creating these relationships on and offline can be a struggle.

Solution: So I have LOTs of ideas for how to connect, but I am sharing these awesome tips on one of my connection's blog later this week. Once it is live, don’t worry you will be the first to know!

Remember: In the mean time, you really ought to stop “networking” and start creating lasting relationships instead.

5. Monetizing Your Efforts

Problem: You put all this effort into creating content, getting it out there and for what. Well, hopefully, you are planning on getting some kind of return for all that effort. There are tons of articles out there to begin monetizing your site. Everything from adding google ads to your website or using some sort of affiliate marketing.

Solution: Before you go down the road of worrying about the cash money, you really need to focus on growing your readership. And you are only going to grow that if you offer quality content. And that quality is really only going to come if you put the time and effort into it. I personally have chosen (at least for now) to be a completely ad free zone. I find the advertising (especially banner ads) completely distracting and instead serve my readers with quality content. At the end of the day I am still a business, so I have chosen to focus my time and energy into offering quality customized services for businesses large and small, new and established.

Remember: If you are strategically trying to monetize your blog, making your readers aware of what you offer needs to be at the forefront. My services and pricing are not hidden, but rather a dominant part of my navigation. I also clearly explain to my readers what I do on my about page and in my blog sidebar.

What challenges are you facing as a blogger or business? How are you battling them?