In yesterday's newsletter, I shared my experience of learning to embrace my story, failures, and experiences, and including those as part of what I offer instead of trying to fit myself under a certain cookie cutter label or title. It took me awhile, but I've finally realized that not only is it the best way for me to stand out from everyone else, but it's why I have my own unique blend of expertise.
I don't want to go into too much detail from the newsletter here, but I wanted to continue the conversation a little, specifically on one of three takeaways, one that I've struggled with a lot, and judging by the responses I received, a lot of you have as well.
If you’re anything like me and your interests, experience and expertise is varied, I urge you to shift your mindset to one that embraces all you have to offer, however mixed that might be. For me, that means that though my fashion background may not be directly applicable to all the work I do now, I’ve still woven it into my offerings and it still helps to define my brand. That experience and interest has helped to shape my skill set, and it makes me unique. In other words, no one can do exactly what I do, in the way that I do it.
So here are my words of advice:
Don't pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing.
Instead, focus on what you can bring to the table, and how your unique point of view will help you stand out from the rest.
When I first started my business as a fashion boutique, I was really good at this. After years working in retail in various contexts, I saw a void in the market that I believed I could fill. I had a vision. It was whimsical and feminine, with a focus on the details and creating an experience. It relied heavily on creating personal connections with my customers and building an online community, even though I was selling primarily in-store. It was a departure from a lot of the uber-cool small boutiques that wore their exclusive, unwelcoming attitudes as something to be proud of, and from the fast fashion outlets that were popping up on the retail scene and offering shoppers something low priced, but also low quality and mass produced. But I believed in my vision, not paying attention to what other people were doing, and for that reason, it stood apart from competitors.
I'm quickly learning that when you're running a business that exists primarily online and is service or info-product based, this proves to be more difficult. It's hard to not lose ourselves and our own point of view when doing a little "competitive research".
Inspiration is important and it's good to have a sense of what else is out there in your market, but you also need to know when to step away and focus on your own work.
There is a lot of really great content out there, and it can be tempting to mimic what others are doing when it's worked so well for them and falls under your area of expertise. I mean, how many different ways can you really explain the basics of social media? But try letting your voice shine through, think about what you can bring to the table based on your experience, and add a little bit of you into it.
By embracing your own special blend of expertise and asking yourself what you can offer that no one else can, you have the opportunity to create something that will truly stand out.
Curious what this newsletter is all about? It's where I share the struggles I face as a creative entrepreneur, and the lessons I'm learning as I grow my business. A peek behind the sequin curtain, so to speak, and a little more personal than what you'll find on the blog. And did I mention you'll also be the first to receive the new styled stock photos each month? Sign up here.