Starting out as a creative entrepreneur comes with many external challenges, but perhaps the toughest obstacle of all is internal—battling imposter syndrome. The antidote to imposter syndrome is a strong sense of your personal brand and infallible pride in sharing that with the world. Strong personal branding is the key to differentiating yourself in the creative industries where there is so much noise and competition for people's attention.
To help you tackle self-doubt and curate a powerful personal brand, we've enlisted the help of renowned personal branding coach Kelly Snodgrass. Kelly played a key role in c building reputable brands like Uber and Pollen before leaving the corporate world behind to pursue her passion—which just so happens to be coaching others to do the same.
Meet your expert: Kelly Snodgrass
I'm Kelly. I'm a mother. I'm a creative. I'm a coach. I'm a product manager. I'm a writer. I'm an angel investor. I'm an engineer. I'm a multi-dimensional woman.
I spent years trying to fit myself into one of the many moulds that the internet tells us we should follow. But I found myself exhausted by trying to figure out the one label that described me—because it was impossible. I first ventured into entrepreneurship in 2018 which felt like blasting off into outer space; leaving corporate planet Earth and landing on the moon of entrepreneurship. At some point you have to leap into entrepreneurship, you can't just take a baby step.
My journey to becoming a personal branding coach was not easy. I knew deep down that coaching was my calling and yet I found myself unable to confidently own this belief. I actually had to hire a coach, in order to be able to say the words, "I am a coach." I could say, "I am thinking about becoming a coach", or "I am training to become a coach" but I couldn't accept myself as already being one. If I wasn't able to be proud of who I was, how was anybody going to hire me? After a few months of coaching, I found an alter ego version of myself born. A version that was incredibly confident and proud. My role now is to help you do the same. Everyone is capable and resourceful enough to Google their way to finding out how to craft posts, how often to post things, etc. But what is really hard to Google is how to approach personal branding from the inside. How to muster up the bravery and the courage that it takes to share your brand with the world and how to make personal branding feel sustainable in the long run. I am here to help you battle imposter syndrome and take pride in your work—not in your job title (whether that be interior designer, photographer, brand consultant etc.) but in what makes you unique in that role. People don't want to hire just anyone, they want to hire you.
Ready to say invest in yourself and your business? Follow Kelly's three-step guide to battling imposter syndrome and owning your personal brand...
1. Define your value
When we think of personal branding, we tend to compare ourselves to products. The problem with thinking like this is that most products serve one purpose, whereas we creatives are not one-dimensional products. Using traditional marketing perspectives and tactics on ourselves is very limiting and wrongly encourages us to build a personal brand around just one way in which we create value versus showing an accurate representation of our multi-dimensional selves and the many ways in which we and our brand positively impact our community. Personal branding isn't about commoditising your entire life, but it is about selling a commodity. And the commodity is you and your uniqueness. Instead of using a traditional brand marketing strategy, I suggest crafting a life brand statement—a statement that encapsulates the overarching ethos of your brand. Two things to remember when doing so:
- Share your value, all of it. When I first started coaching, I failed to acknowledge something really important in my branding: coaching was just one aspect of what I did. You are not just your job, you are a person that creates value in all aspects of your life. Your life brand statement should reflect that.
- Explain how you deliver that value. It should also clearly communicate how you create that value—what you do in service of others and how you deliver that service. Prospective clients want to know exactly what they can expect from working with you.
The earlier you can get your life brand statement correct, the better. You will be more confident in sharing your brand with the world and you will feel more motivated because you are constantly reminded of your long-term goals. When you can keep your focus on this higher mission, it keeps the short-term fear of failing/ imposter syndrome at bay.
2. Build your confidence
Everybody already has a personal brand, there is no need to go and "create" one. Instead, it is about learning to articulate it and becoming confident enough to do so. Being proud of yourself, and the ensuing confidence that comes with pride, is what people buy. Confidence is infectious—we want it for ourselves. We build confidence in two ways, one by believing in our business and being very secure in the value we offer. Two, by telling others all about it—the more you share, the more you fuel your own pride.
Set yourself a simple goal: tell three people about your business. Pick varying levels of familiarity: one friend, one acquaintance, one stranger. Introduce yourself as your future self and see what happens. This works even if your business is very new and you feel like there is nothing to tell yet. You can talk about things that haven't happened yet, but you are hoping will, because if you're not willing to talk about them, how are they going to happen? Once you have spoken to three people, speak to three more. Set yourself a target of say 3 per month. It doesn't need to be a big goal, just a goal that you feel is realistic and achievable.
3. Own your reinvention
If and when you choose to reinvent yourself as a creative entrepreneur, you have to do so wholeheartedly. If you don't go all in then that really powerful fuel can become a bit of a smouldering spark. The one thing that holds most people back is fear of embarrassment. But it is not embarrassing that you want something that's different from what you have today. It's only embarrassing if you operate from that shameful place, so instead you have to own it. And in reality, people love a Cinderella story. Once you learn to own your reinvention you'll find it becomes a cornerstone of your personal branding. Congratulations if you have already taken the first step and opened your own business. A lot of people are not willing to take that first step and the fact that you have is credit to your dedication and your passion.
Another common mistake in the reinvention process is trying to hold on to the old. You have to say goodbye fully to your old self, in order to successfully reinvent yourself. Whether that be in material possessions, relationships, hobbies, or interests—you have to let it all go. It is about making space for a new part of your life. The goodbyes might be hard, but the future you is worth it. Why do you have to let go? I'll explain with a metaphor: you have a full garden but you'd like to add a rosebush. You cannot just add that rosebush—the garden is full. You have to remove something that you no longer want to be able to plant the baby rosebush and allow it to grow. There is an uncomfortable void that you have to sit with as you reinvent yourself where you feel like you're at less than a hundred per cent, but that's what allows new things to bloom that are more aligned with who you are today. So, I'm giving you permission here to fully reinvent yourself and fully own that new version of you.
Find out how Kelly Snodgrass can help you to "innovate a new way of living" on her website, or connect with Kelly on Instagram.
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