Going from Creative to Creative Expert

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

There’s a difference between deciding to work in a creative field and deciding to become a creative entrepreneur who works for yourself. There’s an even more subtle yet significant leap (in mindset + just making it happen) to go from a creative entrepreneur who works for yourself to a creative who is positioned as a creative expert.

“Expert” is a heavy word. You might not be sure how you feel about it. So let’s remember for a second why you became a “creative entrepreneur,” which is hopefully a label you happily embrace.

You became a creative entrepreneur because you love creating things that all click together in this really cool way. You can look at a problem—at something that’s missing, at something that’s just a total mess, or something that’s almost there but still not quite right—and make it into something that works, that inspires, and that gives you this feeling of “I did that.”

That feeling at the end of a successful client project—be it large or small—is so good. But sometimes it gets all muddled by other feelings along the way: “Ugh. It took so many revisions.” “I wish the client had liked it more.” “I wish I had liked it a little more.” “It could’ve been better if only…” Here’s the thing – it is so easy for creatives to blame these woulda-coulda-shoulda’s on the client. And all too often, deep down, we blame it on our own fear that we just aren’t talented enough, smart enough, creative enough, or good enough.

Difficult to embrace the title creative expert

So who can blame us for not easily embracing the word “expert” when it’s difficult enough (especially on the hard projects, the hard clients, the just plain hard days) to feel like we totally own the label of “creative entrepreneur?” (click to tweet)

Think about how you would love to be seen by your clients before you even get started. Think about the kind of work you’d like to be known for. Imagine feeling so confident not just at the end of a design project…but along the way. Yeah, there’s still always going to be muddled feelings (we’re all human after all), but when you cultivate the inner mindset and working habits of a creative expert, those moments of doubt and frustration are so minimized by the feeling of “I got this.”

become a confident creative expert

Try this: Make a list of all the things you would have to start doing before you would be comfortable thinking of yourself as a creative expert. Is it more training in your skill or education? Is it a portfolio filled with more work you love? Is it working with a certain kind of dream client? Is it feeling like you have a worthy brand? Is it feeling confident blogging, writing or just speaking?

Now look over that list again. Let’s refine those thoughts, get a little more specific, and use them to help you fill in this blank: “Actually I do feel like an expert already at _____, ____ and _____. I’d really only need a little more of _________ to feel even more confident, and that’s something I could start doing right now in the short term. So if I had to pick one big thing that would help me truly feel like a creative expert in the long term, it would be ____________. I think that’s something I could really focus on over the next six months and really see a change in my mindset, my business positioning and the kind of work I get to take on.”

Next up we’ll be talking about how to create and share your business vision because our creative expertise is all about helping other creative entrepreneurs find that voice so they can tell dream clients who they are and what they do, but also so they can get specific about their business vision so they can move forward without self-doubt and second-guessing along the way.


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