I belong to a really amazing Facebook group for Etsy sellers and just this week I heard a plea for help and then watched a conversation develop when a bunch of creative types jumped into the conversation about “How do you strike a balance between being authentic and marketing your business?”
There seemed to be some themes that were holding the artists back including being an introvert, having an unhappy past and just feeling like they had to be fake all the time. Having been living in the public space for over 15 years, I think I do have some decent insights on this!
One thing you should know is that very little of what other people think of me matters to me. I have what people call a “thick skin” and generally just think to myself, “you suck too” when someone says something mean. While you may never achieve that level of disinterest, maybe some of what works for me will rub off on you.
If you get even a little more confident then it is worth reading on!
What Is Authenticity?
Authenticity is being yourself, warts and all at all times. It is having bad hair days and oopsies when you are filming your videos. It is cussing if you are a cusser, loving Jesus if that is your lifestyle and generally just being who you are.
Now, the one thing to know is that it will be magnified in the minds of the people who “watch” you live your creative life. So if you talk about kitties every couple of weeks or so and they just happen to notice those posts (because they like kitties too), they will think you are kitty crazy.
I have seen comments on Facebook where people are complaining that a person posts too much of this or too much of that. It could be a combination of what they notice and what Facebook shows them. This is not your problem, this is theirs. Just ignore those comments. Don't answer back and hide them or delete them.
Your life is not a game show and no one gets to tell you what is good and what is bad.
I KNOW, these comments can sometimes be hurtful, but if you let them change your life then the trolls win and that is never okay. Remember that there are probably dozens of lurkers watching who love you and who are just not commenting.
If You Fake It You Will Get Bad Followers!
The first thing to know if you are trying to cultivate a “persona” that you think is just right, you will probably wind up with a bunch of creepy followers that you hate! You really should try to make sure that you are focusing on the parts of you that you like and that your friends think are awesome about you.
A fun way to figure this out is to email 10 friends and ask them to give you three words that they think describe you. You will get some really strange answers and then some that feel really true and right.
I did this years ago and people said I am honest, hardworking and dedicated. Those all felt really good to me and helped to shape how I present myself (and even thinking about myself!)
The People Who Like You Will Like You More!
There are people who will love you and your work. If you focus on these people and understand that they are ALWAYS looking for the good in you, then you will be generally more comfortable in being a “public” person.
I have a BIG personality and it is truly not for everyone. There are people who have told me to my face that they didn't like me when they first met me (and because I am me that just made me smile!)
You just have to understand that you raving fans will not be put off if they see you being attacked. Many times they will rise to your defense and show you how much they love you!
How Much Do You Have To Share?
This is a HUGE question. I share LOTS of things about my life. My husband I adopted three kids and share pictures of them all the time. I share pictures of my kitties and my coaching clients. I take pictures of my food and share that too! I write blog posts where I share my life and my love of marketing. I make videos even though I wish I was a little skinnier.
So that is the top of the sharing pyramid, full disclosure of things that you choose to share. At the bottom could just be pictures of your creativity, your products and maybe your workspace if you are happy with it.
Most everyone else is somewhere in the middle. Share what you like! Again, this is your life and if you don't feel like you want to share pictures of yourself or your kids, don't. Whatever you choose is just fine. Stop beating yourself up about it and remember that you may get more comfortable about it as you go along.
Do You Always Have To Be Happy?
No. There, if you are looking for validation that you don't have to always be happy you have it. That said, is your life really that bad? If it is and you hate your life and art that much maybe you should change your profession.
Some of things that the gals on the thread I was watching were saying that their workspace was not as pretty as some of the others. Or their partner wasn't supportive or their kids weren't perfect. These are all just things that they are insecure or unhappy about so no, they shouldn't share that. Or maybe they should.
What if there is some other creative type out there who isn't starting because they feel the same way? Maybe all they need to see is that someone else is facing a challenge to get started. No one is judging you, even though it can sometimes feel that way.
What If Your Childhood Sucked?
Another couple said that they hear these stories all the time about how wonderful the person's life is, how they have the perfect marriage, great dogs and the perfect childhood.
I will guarantee that no one has that perfect life. While I present mostly the happy things, my childhood was hard. My parents were gone often and I was left alone to functionally raise my little brother. The “latchkey kids” mentality was in full blown favor and so my relationship with my parents was strained through my teens and early 20's. Then I stopped being bitter about it. There was nothing that could be changed by worrying about it and it was only making me sad.
And now when I talk about (or even think about) my childhood I focus on the things that match up to my current life and how they helped it. I was allowed to sell at the little store behind my house so I started in business and sales at a really young age! I remember trotting up after the customers with my cash box and selling my heart out. I also go to go to the gift shows in New York and loved that!
Try to find some things that you can relate to in a good way, or don't. If your childhood was seriously heinous then don't reference it. Focus on your todays and making your life now amazing!
What If You Are An Introvert?
Hearing all this you may be thinking that I am a raging extrovert. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hate parties, dread doing “one-on-ones” and can't think of anything worse than going to an event where I know no one. I make friends slowly and only have a handful of true friends.
The funny thing is that the internet helps me to seem more social. I can make videos that others can see me, but I don't have to see or talk to them. I can be on podcasts and just worry about talking to one person without having to feel all awkward and socially unsure.
If you are an introvert like me, find out the ways that you can connect online that feel good to you!
Why It Matters To Creative Types
If you are selling a product or service that you make or provide people will really want to know you at least a little bit. That is one of the great things about buying from a person instead of a company. They get to know the maker and not just some anonymous corporation.
Now, this can be about you or just the back story of your work. If you are uncomfortable about your story, then just share the story of your art!
I know that some people are way more sensitive than I am (maybe everyone). My friends sometimes make me laugh by saying they think, “what would Tara do?” Maybe that would help you too. Think about a friend of yours who seems confident and “bulletproof” and think to yourself, “what would she do?”
Or understand that you are NEVER going to be comfortable sharing publicly and grow your business by meeting people in person at networking or joining groups online where you feel more protected and secure.
Whatever you decide about being authentic is right for you! Just pick something and run with it, double down on something that makes you smile and go with that!
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While crafting your USP seems to be a simple task, many find that figuring out what makes them special is a challenge of epic proportions.
This book will help you to figure out how to make your message unique, how to convey that message to your target customer, and how to avoid feeling like a schmoe during the process!