Every so often, I go through these cycles of inner negativity, often following a particularly busy period. I feel like I'm off my game, uninspired and lacking creative motivation. When these periods hit, I struggle to produce the high quality of work that I hold myself too, and I start to beat myself up over it.
The feelings of self-doubt and comparison settle in, and it feels like an impossible task to try to pull myself out of it.
Not so long ago, I entered this new-to-me world of online creative entrepreneurship, and it’s one I embraced with open arms, feeling at home amidst bloggers, content creators, and digital marketers. It felt like an area where my experience would be appreciated and where my expertise could shine through. After struggling to figure out what I could offer, of what “job” I could fill, I thought I had found it, and started reorienting myself to think about how I could help other brands and businesses do what I had already done for my own..
I started to fill pages of notebooks and countless post-its with ideas, and started to consume any and all resources I could find. I got really excited about this new direction at first. I got the new website up, and started playing around with new offerings. I took courses on creating courses and joined a mastermind group. I had purpose again.
But when I crashed and the self-doubt snuck in, so did the imposter syndrome, and I kept battling questions like “Who am I to teach someone how to do this…" and “Why would anyone listen to me…”
During my year of transition, I got really caught up with titles. I struggled because I didn’t identify in one role in particular. I wasn’t a blogger, or a photographer, or a stylist, or a writer, or a graphic designer, but I did all those things, among others. When I had the shop, my role as “boutique owner” was satisfying. It encompassed everything that I did without being too specific, and I was great at what I did. But now, I didn’t feel like an expert in anything.
It’s been a journey of embracing my story, my failures, and my experiences and including those as part of what I offer. I 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, which is extremely valuable.
That’s why, 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.
There’s a lot of competition out there, and there are a lot of crazy talented people. It’s really easy to get caught up in a negative thought pattern of comparison and feelings of fraud.
When it comes down to it though, no one can do exactly what I do, in the way that I do it.
This came to light for me recently during a meeting with a potential client who found me through Instagram and was drawn to the Bicyclette style. She had initially contacted me about creating custom photo shoot backdrops for a new line of products she was launching, but a few minutes into talking about her needs, it became clear that I could offer my services in a number of areas. Before I knew it, I was signed on for styling, creative direction and production of the shoot, and also branding and website design for the new line. Being able to say “Oh, I can do that” was empowering, and it’s turned into a dream opportunity for me, where I get to use my skills to help her develop a brand and define a style.
So sure, sometimes having a simple title that describes what you do is great. But if you’re anything like me and your interests, experience and expertise is varied, try shifting your mindset to one that embraces all you have to offer, however mixed that might be.
Embrace your own special blend of expertise
What are the little quirks that make you you, and how can that translate into what you offer/do?
Build your own offering
What can you offer your clients or community that no one else can offer? That might be the content itself, how you package it, or even how you deliver it.
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.
This post first appeared as one of Studio B's Weekly Letters. Interested in being on the list? You'll get a peek behind the sequin curtain and first access to the free stock photos! Right this way.