As an introvert, just the idea of putting yourself out there and building a personal brand can seem terrifying.
Why would you want to be the face and voice of your business when it involves doing so many things that make you freeze up with anxiety?
Thing’s like networking, podcast interviews, prerecorded or live video, public speaking or featuring in media and press.
Why put ourselves through this?
To build our authority, become known as an expert and make more money doing what we love… that’s why.
Over the last year, I’ve dabbled with so many things to be visible.
If I’m honest, I’ve been trying to find comfortable ways to put myself out there.
I’ve recorded several videos; most haven’t seen the light of day. I tried recording a podcast, but no one knows it existed.
The thing is, I know I need to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Why? Because I have a vision of my business and my life, and it doesn’t involve hiding behind a keyboard.
Can you relate? Are you an introvert who wants to be known as an expert? A business owner wants to be a bit braver and start putting yourself out there?
In this blog, I share my journey and how discovering my vision, passion and purpose has helped give me the courage to show up.
I gave it my all, and it broke me
After nearly four years of working in the web & marketing industry, I’d finally had enough.
I learnt a lot from working in the face-paced agency environment.
I felt lucky to work with some of the UK’s largest companies, helping them develop marketing campaigns, improve their websites and designing print and web graphics.
I also headed a team of designers and web developers, overseeing all app and website projects.
I gave it everything I had, often working into the evenings and almost every weekend (that’s part of the people-pleasure in me).
In the end, the long hours and immense workload caused me to burnout.
I remember the day it hit me like it was yesterday.
I was getting ready for a rare night out, and as I applied mascara to my eyelashes, I felt overcome with raw emotion.
The first tears began to fall, and instead of going out, I climbed into bed and cried myself to sleep.
I felt numb for some time after that. I knew I had to make a change to have a better quality of life.
In January 2018, I found a part-time marketing job and took the brave step to start freelancing as a brand and web designer.
But after a year, I was struggling to focus and get consistent sales.
Things started great, and it took off quickly. I quit the part-time job just to keep up.
But a few months later I was struggling because…
1. I was trying to be too many things for too many people
Most of us start by working with anyone and doing everything they can for those clients. I was the one-stop-shop, the package deal, the ultimate solution.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with finding your way like this, but you soon realise it doesn’t work long term and makes marketing complicated.
2. It was challenging to find enough work every month
Because I was trying to do lots of things for lots of people, I didn’t have a clear target audience or a specific service to promote. Up to this point, I relied on referrals, and that only lasts so long.
3. I wasn’t making enough money
I was covering my bills every month, but that was it. Even though I’d gradually increased my prices over the year, it still wasn’t enough to be able to invest and grow.
My’ sort of’ focus had been on local businesses, many of them start-ups or small companies with little to no budget. They wanted and needed the most affordable option, and that was the barebones design and website work.
4. I was attracting clients that didn’t value me
I had a couple of clients that started expecting far more than they were willing to pay.
I even sack a client, refunding the 50% upfront costs, as it was clear they didn’t value my expertise.
They wanted so much more from me, for no extra cost, and didn’t take on board any of my advice, which left me feeling deflated and useless.
5. I’d start projects but never finish
Oooo, pretty shiny object – That was me.
I would get so caught up in exciting new ideas. I thought all of them would help me grow my business.
Maybe they would have if I’d finished them. But I was so unsure about where I wanted my business to go that I couldn’t focus on one thing at a time.
6. I stopped enjoying it
I found I was spending more time doing things I didn’t enjoy and less of the things I did. I also didn’t feel like I was helping my clients move the needle in their business, which is a massive motivator for me.
I was great at making things look good and function well from a user-experience and technical aspect. However, I mostly used best-practice knowledge because I didn’t provide a strategy.
Can you relate?
If I wanted to continue being self-employed and build a successful business, I had to make drastic changes.
Finding My Vision, Purpose & Passion
I started seeking more, and as I began learning the process of personal branding I realised I never took the time to get clear on my vision, discover my purpose and find my passion.
These are essential for an introvert building a personal brand; they help you be braver and keep you motivated when the going gets tough.
Discovering Your Vision
Success is different for everyone.
Maybe you would like a nice regular income, enough to pay the mortgage and bills, to work from your modest home and go on holiday once a year.
Or perhaps you strive for fame and fortune, to travel the world as you work and to rub shoulders with fellow entrepreneurs.
My vision involves a house with some land, where I can work from home in a little outhouse.
I don’t want employees, but I would love to work with fantastic freelance designers, developers and virtual assistants.
I’d have a few 1:1 clients and an help others in an online membership and community. I also want to host branding retreats and workshops.
It can be hard to visualise your future if you’re not confident you can achieve it.
Try this fun exercise to help you dream big:
Imagine you’ve had a visit from your fairy godmother. She appears one evening with her magic wand, sprinkles some fairy dust and grants you the life of your DREAMS.
Then ask yourself these questions:
- What will I be doing day-to-day?
- Will I be working with anyone?
- Will I have employees?
- How many clients will I have?
- What kind of clients will I have?
- How many hours will I work?
- Where will I live?
- Who will share this life with me?
- How much money will I need to have the things I want?
Think of as many details as possible. The car you’d love to drive the holidays you’ll go on, the people you’ll meet.
Having a clear vision helps me keep putting one foot forward.
But finding my purpose and passion is what helps push me out of my comfort zone.
Discovering Your Purpose
Finding your purpose means taking an in-depth look at the reasons you do what you do.
When I started to focus on developing my personal brand, I learned the power of why.
Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk is a must-watch if you haven’t seen it,
To find my why I used the 5 Why’s exercise:
I started with the question ‘What do you see in the world that you want to change?’
I summarised this into one brief sentence, then to get to the deeper reason why and my core purpose I continued asking why at least five times.
Try it yourself. It’s tough but keep asking why until you find the real reason you do what you do.
Finding Your Passion
Ask any successful business owner, and they’ll tell you that one of the keys to success is doing something you’re passionate about.
We should all think hard about what fuels our motivation and sparks our imagination, and make sure this is part of our business.
To find my passion, I made a long list of everything I can do and enjoy doing, and I asked myself these three simple questions:
- Could I read 100 books about this without getting bored?
- If I didn’t get paid, would I still want to do this?
- Do I daydream about doing this?