Most of my friends cringe in horror at the idea of personal branding, and I share a little of that. It does seem a bit creepy, right? Conforming to a pre-set standard for yourself sounds gross. We contains multitudes, right? Well, here's the thing: I was struggling with those multitudes.
How does Tara who codes overlap with Tara who does absurd and unprofessional things on stage? How, why and when should I talk about one or the other? You, dear reader, are likely familiar with this phenomenon: it's plain old HARD talking to people when you have a multi-hyphenate job title.
Mad King Thomas' work/brand is an alchemical blending of Monica's Steiner school education, my time as a competition dancer, and Theresa's childhood in Wyoming. But when I'm in the professional world, it's unclear how the dances I make should or could inform my work as a web developer. The rules for how a professional behaves are narrow and boring, PLUS they reinforce unfair social structures. When I'm talking about or writing about my business, it can feel like I'm putting duct tape over the exciting parts of my life in the name of being "professional". Web developers don't, generally speaking, make postmodern feminist comedic dance.
Enter Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do
. It's a ten-day ecourse offered by Braid Creative, a branding company run by two sisters. The course consists of three main lessons. Each lesson mixes writing, images and video to walk you through creating your own personal brand.
Lesson 1 is about uncovering the aspects of your personality and style that will be part of your brand. It reminded me that, although I contain multitudes, there is room for everyone. Not all parts of my personality have to speak equally at all times, but they do all need a place at the table. Sometimes Business-Me boorishly dominates the conversation and leaves Junior Naturalist Me behind.
Lesson 2 gets into the nuts-and-bolts of how to blend those different parts of your personality into one unique voice. Using your clothes, your language, and your side projects, it gives concrete examples of how you can use those elements to share more of who you are while still coming across as professional. Phew. Big relief for me.
As part of lesson two, I created a script that explains what I do so I don't have to stumble over it at parties anymore:
Hi, I'm Tara. I do lots of things, like choreographing dances and writing poems, but what I'm known for is helping artists build online spaces that showcase their work & aesthetic in a professional, useful way. I love working with ambitious dancers/choreographers who know they need some outside help.
To be honest, Lesson 3 was less helpful to me--it felt more like a summary or follow-up to part two. The basic premise of the lesson: capture, shape & share your life, was helpful and will be useful going forward, even though the exercises were less immediately effective. More attitude adjustment, less how-to guide.
That said, if you're looking for clarity and outside perspective on how you can mix your personal and professional lives, I recommend taking this course. It's an experience for self-starters--there's nobody around to make sure you do the exercises. Each course is only available for ten days so you can't put it off (phew). And, although it's very helpful, it doesn't take you all the way to having a concrete personal brand--that part is still up to you.
In fact, I've enjoyed both Braid eCourses I've taken so much that I signed up as an affiliate. Next month is DREAM CUSTOMER CATCHING: Embrace Your Expertise & Attract What You Track
. Registration is open; sign up now and we can take the ecourse together! I'd love to have a buddy as I work through the exercises. Aaaaand...you can use the code BRAIDECOURSE50 to get $25 off. Whoo!