An Introverts Journey Part 1
As an introvert, just the idea of putting yourself out there and building a personal brand seems 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 help grow my personal brand.
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 my hand at podcasting, 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?
This series of blogs is about my journey so far. I share the good, the bad and the ugly, as I navigate through the world of business as an introvert and develop my personal brand.
I hope it will inspire you and help you forge your own path.
How Burnout Changed My Life for the Better
After nearly four years of working in a web & marketing agency, I’d finally had enough.
At my second agency I started as a Junior Designer. Within 8 short months I swiftly promoted to Digital Manager.
I learnt A LOT from working in the face-paced agency environment.
I managed over ten client accounts working with small to medium businesses upto large corporates.
I helped them develop marketing campaigns, improve their websites and landing pages, design creative graphics and print materials, grow their social media channels, and get more leads and sales from their email marketing.
I also headed the team of designers and web developers, overseeing all the website and app projects.
I gave it my all, often working into the evenings and almost every weekend.
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 was 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 started working as a freelance website and brand designer.
It didn’t take me long to discover a fascinating entrepreneurial world.
In this world, solo business owners (like you and me) have become celebrities or ‘influencers’.
How did they do it? It became my mission to find out.
I started reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, joining Facebook groups, taking part in challenges; doing pretty much anything and everything I could to learn more and grow my business.
It was Chris Ducker’s Podcast Youprener.fm and book Rise of the Youpreneur, that opened my eyes to personal branding.
I knew from the start that I wanted to be me in business.
I had no aspirations to create an agency and employ other people, so building a personal brand and a lifestyle business fits with my vision.
After a year in business, I was struggling to focus.
In January 2019, I choose ‘transformation’ as my word of the year. And oh boy, did it live up to that.
If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds of ideas buzzing around in your head. Shiny object syndrome? It’s a thing, trust me.
Maybe you can relate to some of these struggles?
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 difficult 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 strategy.
Can you relate to any of this? Well, I knew it was time to make drastic changes to have a successful business I was 100% passionate about.
I Had to Find My Vision, Purpose & Passion
Knowing your vision, discovering your purpose and finding your passion is essential for an introvert building a personal brand.
These things are going to help you be braver and bolder in business, and keep you motivated when the going gets tough.
Discovering My 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 of success is to own a 5 bed country cottage, with enough land for two big dogs to roam (I already have my pup Kylo!).
I’d like a nice car and a holiday home in a warm country where I spend the winter months.
I want to have a healthy lifestyle and a nice work-life balance, so I have enough time to spend with family and friends. I plan to have two children and want to give them a good stable life.
I’d enjoy hosting dinner parties for friends and family and taking my two dogs on long walks in the countryside.
I see myself working from home most of the time, I’d have an outhouse with an office but sometimes work on the road if I’m speaking at conferences and events around the world.
I don’t want employees but I would love to work with amazing freelance designers, developers and virtual assistants. I’d love to work with a key few clients at a time and eventually I’d like to have an online membership and host branding retreats at my home.
To help me figure this out I let myself dream big and used this fun exercise:
I imagined I had a visit from my fairy godmother. She appears one evening with her magic wand, sprinkles some fairy dust and grants me the life of my DREAMS.
Then I asked myself these questions:
- What will I do 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 in order to have the things I want?
I tried to think of as many details as I could. The car I’d love to drive, the holidays I would go on, the people I want to meet.
You can use this exercise to help discover your DREAM life.
It can be hard to think big when you don’t know how to achieve it, but try not to let anything get in your way.
Having a clear vision helps me keep putting one foot forward. However, I still needed to find my purpose and passion.
Finding My Purpose
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it ” – Simon Sinek
Purpose differs from passion.
Finding your purpose is figuring out why you do what you do.
When I started to focus on my personal brand, I knew I needed to get to the core of my WHY.
To do this, I used this 4 Why’s exercise.
The 4 Why’s
I started with the question:
What do you see in the world that you want to and could change?
I could see that a lot of business owners felt overwhelmed and lost when it came to promoting their business and getting more clients online.
Like me, they struggled to find clients who valued them, they wanted to start charging more but feared putting up their prices, and many of them didn’t feel comfortable or confident putting themselves out there.
I summarised this into one brief sentence:
I want to help business owners feel more comfortable and confident by giving them the tools they need to promote their business consistently and get more clients by being themselves.
To get to the deeper reason why and my core purpose, the next step is to ask, why?
Because they shouldn’t feel intimidated by technology, marketing or what others are doing, they should feel free to be their authentic self, to take pride in their work, to work with the people they enjoy working with the most, to have the chance to make a difference in the lives of others and leave their mark in the world.
Because when you help others, it gives you purpose and when you are authentic, you are happier, more confident and driven. You connect with the people who like you (who have the same values and beliefs), which in turn makes you more successful and be able to live the life you dream of.
Because we all deserve to wake up each day and do what we love to do, to work on our own terms, to make enough money to have the things we want, to travel the places we want to go, to provide for our families, to spend time with our families, to take care of ourselves properly, to do all the things we want to do in life.
Because life is short and it should be full of happy memories and no regrets. We all deserve to feel fulfilled in life and not look back and wish things had been different.
As you can see, this exercise goes deep. It makes you think harder about the real reason why you do what you do and the purpose for you and your clients.
You could continue to ask why to go even deeper.
For me, my purpose is helping others to live life without regret and feel fulfilled.
But how was I going to do this? I still needed to find the one thing to that lights the fire in me.
Finding My Passion
“Live your passion. What does that mean, anyway? It means that when you get up for work every morning, every single morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world. ” – Gary Vaynerchuck
Ask any entrepreneurs that’s crushing it 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?
Design had always been a clear passion, but I’d been obsessing over business podcasts and books for months. Of those books, it was personal branding that came up time and time again.
That’s when it all clicked into place.
I could incorporate personal branding with brand design. I could help others develop a strategy for their personal brand and create their brand identity.
I had one problem, my business wasn’t a personal brand.
In My Journey Part 2, I’ll share the steps it takes to transition into a personal brand.
1. Take some time and answer all the questions to find your vision. Be bold. Don’t hold back on your dream life. Dig deep and block out all the ‘what’s if’ and ‘buts’.
2. Try the 4 Why’s exercise. Start with the question: What did you see that you wanted to change in the world? Then ask yourself Why at least 4 times.
3. Then list all the things that get your engine revving and find a way to incorporate your passion into your business.
If you’re an introvert building a personal brand, then discovering your vision, purpose and passion will help push you out of your comfort zone.