A few months ago, Shonda Rhimes came across my Instagram timeline in a video promoting her MasterClass for aspiring TV writers. I almost jumped out of my seat. I’m not really interested in writing for TV per se, but writing in any form is a serious skill, and Shonda’s got it down pat. To get an opportunity to learn from the titan herself? Yes please! If there’s even a sliver of hope that she could make me a gladiator like Olivia Pope, I’m all over it.
In an ideal world, choosing a mentor would always be that easy. You’d get that spark and know immediately that learning form this person would revolutionize your life. But it’s rarely ever that simple, especially if you’re looking for a mentor online.
The internet is brimming with “experts” on everything from blogging to small business, and all of them promise to help you slay at one thing or another. But online, it’s easy for nearly anyone to look like a pro and hard to tell what you’ll really be paying for. How do you know who to choose when everyone’s got polished websites, cutesy inspirational Instagram posts, and a couple thousand followers singing their praises?
Naturally, everyone shines the spotlight on their brightest moments. Even Beyonce only posts her finest selfies. Mentors are no exception. Of course they’re going to show you their highlight reel. But don’t get too caught up on pictures of vacation getaways and captions full of inspiring words and forget what you’re really looking for. Sometimes the hype is just a cover up for a lack of real success.
Look for proof that your potential mentor is actually good at what they do. A business coach should have a history of business success. A personal branding expert should be able to point to brands they’ve helped develop. If all you want is #inspiration, search it up on IG, but a true mentor has real wins they’re able to translate into applicable knowledge they can use to coach you.
If you’re worried your own judgment isn’t enough, don’t be shy about getting feedback from people who’ve worked with these mentors. If you wouldn’t buy a new foundation without checking out Youtube reviews, you shouldn’t pick a mentor without getting the inside scoop from someone who’s learned from them. Ask other clients what they got from the mentorship experience and how they felt it impacted their success and use those answers to help you gauge whether their mentorship is worth your investment.
Another great way to spot a good mentor is by looking at their freebies. Most online coaches and mentors offer loads of free content–newsletters, blog posts, printable worksheets, even social media posts. Consider this your taste test. Good mentors aren’t scared to deliver gems in their free content because they know they have plenty more to share. So if your potential mentor’s free content is a mess, feels empty, or doesn’t inspire you, there’s a pretty good chance the stuff you’ve got to pay for isn’t going to be worth your coin. If the sample doesn’t leave you hungry for more, keep it moving.
If an online mentor passes all these tests, you might have a winner on your hands! There’s just one more thing to consider. Not every good mentor will be the mentor for you. Mentorship is a pretty personal relationship. Chemistry matters. You’ll want someone whose values and worldview align with yours so they can use their expertise to guide you towards what youwant. After all, you’re choosing a mentor as an investment into your goals, so it should absolutely be about you.
Somewhere out there in the big, wide digital world is your perfect mentor — your Shonda. You’ll have to squint past the hype, ask the tough questions, and do your research, but it will all be worth it at the end when you find the titan to your gladiator.
Let me know your thoughts on mentorship by dropping me a line at safiabartholomew.com! I’m @safiajb on instagram & snap!
If you’re trying to attract more high-value clients, then you’ll need high-end branding. Point blank. Period. You should not expect to invest $100 in your website, then expect your clients to pay you $250 an hour. It’s just not going to happen. If you cannot invest in yourself and your business, you should not expect complete strangers to invest in your business either. As such, your branding could be holding you back.
Your product or service may very well be of a higher quality than your brand illustrates, but if your branding isn’t on point to paint the picture ─ it doesn’t matter. You will not attract affluent clients who will pay your price point. Cheap websites and brand identities attract cheap clients. Brand you business for the client you want, not for the client you have.
No matter how small your business is, your company’s branding should be taken seriously. If your big plans for your startup or side-hustle aren’t coming together, there could be a chance your branding is holding you back from new markets, new clients, new revenue and overall business growth.
These branding mistakes could be holding you back:
Your website is one of the first places that potential clients will go to learn about your business. If your site is still 640×480 pixels and uses flash animation, you can be certain that they’re going to choose a more relevant competitor over you. Also, more than 50% of people across the globe use their smartphone to search the web, so if your site is not responsive (re-sizes to fit all devices), Google will penalize your ranking. Part of keeping your brand vital is keeping up-to-date with technology, and that means a website that puts your company’s best foot forward.
Maybe you use one version of your logo on your website and another on your printed materials. Not to mention all the different taglines you’re using because you can’t make up your mind. One of the fastest ways to dilute the leverage of your brand is inconsistency. Customers can quickly spot brand inconsistency and can easily develop mistrust with inconsistency across multiple platforms. You need to be consistent or your clients will think you are unreliable and sloppy.
Multiple Target Markets
Targeting everyone reaches no one. But by choosing your target market and honing in on it, you can please the right audience all of the time. A target market leads to a compelling brand, without which the brand will lose focus and efficiency. Don’t be afraid to be specific to define your target market. Tailor your strategies to amuse your ideal client and not just any client.
Matching the Competition
Chances are you’re not the only one selling a specific product or service in your industry. It’s not easy to create a unique product in today’s market, so you have to go a little deeper to make sure you differentiate your business from your competitors. When thinking about uniqueness, it’s okay to get inspiration from brands who are already executing this idea well. Even if you’re a small business, try to start thinking like the top leaders in your industry, without “copying” their ideas ─ just use them for inspiration. Examine what is working for them, how they communicate their message, the imagery they use to convey their message and how people are responding to it. Then look at your business, deep inside, and find what makes you special.
Lack of Brand Guidelines
Have you ever done an audit of your branded materials? Pull together everything that has your logo on it and spread it all out on a big table. Does it look cohesive? Is a common colour palette used? Is there a consistent use of typography? Do the materials look contemporary or out-of-date? This exercise is a quick way to evaluate whether you need to make changes to your brand and whether you need to develop brand manuals to help create consistency. Brand guidelines don’t have to be extensive, but they should clearly communicate how to use your brand elements properly.
A brand is the essence of your company ─ what it stands for, what it looks like, what it sounds like and most importantly how it’s different from all the rest. Building a compelling brand is one of the most important things you’ll need to do in order to ensure that your business remains successful.
Is your branding properly developed to attract your ideal client? Are some of your techniques, language, design or style outdated? Maybe it’s time to analyze your competition, current trends and re-evaluate. If your brand is currently in the “suck” phase, you should start thinking about ways you can change that might give you a slight edge.
The actual dollar amount is $41,559.00 – which is the gross income I earned in 2016 (this does not include my income from my corporate career – strictly my side hustles). If you don’t know what gross income means, it is the amount of salary or wages paid to the individual by an employer (my clients across various business ventures) before any deductions are taken. (more…)
You work hard to build your brand and you shouldn’t be the only one who loves it. In fact, it’s important that your target customers do. They are the ones who continue to make you successful. Some brands have managed to make people fall in love with their work and obsess over the effort they put in giving them huge popularity. Having an emotional connection to a brand sparks interest for the customer and allows them to stay engaged in your work.
Shoutout to the loyal fans who are committed to your brand, but in case you’re in need of more love, here are some tips to get customers to fall for you and what you do:
Make your work relatable
People love to know they are not alone. Connecting to your audience builds attachments and a sense of belonging that people seek out in their lives. Know who your audience is and understand what they like or don’t like so that your brand suits them.
Bring joy in your message
Happiness is a MUST in your work. Happy work makes for a happy customer, which will impact the way people perceive your brand. Not only will your customers be happy, but this will increase profits, especially if they recommend you to other viewers. A loveable brand makes their audience feel valued and respected, making for a happy you, as well.
Show people what you got
The first impression is everything and people will connect more with your brand if they like what they are seeing. Organizing a clear and compelling platform will lure customers in and keep them interested in what your brand has to offer. Allow your social media to do some of the talking for your brand by displaying eye-catching and inspirational images /designs that your audience can identify with.
Let your audience see you
Don’t hide behind your brand. Show your costumers who you are so they can have a stronger connection with the brand they love. Put your personality into your brand and prove you are just as emotionally involved as you are professionally.
People LOVE a brand they can trust
Your customers are relying on you to be genuine. It is up to you to make sure your work benefits your audience and is a reliable business for them to be invested in. Forbes released a list of ways to help build trust in your brand including listening to your audience and keeping your messages concise. Trust is hard to build but do not let that discourage you. Be patient and let your customers grow to love what you have to offer.
Don’t make love complicated, use these tips to encourage and engage your audience into falling in love with your brand. But don’t forget to fall in love with it too.
It wasn’t until recently that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in writing. I used to hate reading books and writing two-page papers for my grade six teachers. (If only the school papers I have to write now were only two pages.) In the second grade, I was put in a separate reading group because I didn’t have the skill level a seven-year-old should have. Now, I am attending a university in the city, majoring in English, reading a book a week. I aspire to have a career where women can read my work and not feel alone and it’s companies like Glamour and Forbes that do just that by sharing real content that resonates and featuring women who inspire.
For example, “celebpreneur” Lauren Conrad continues to build her brand and promote her business. Conrad admits that her ladder to success was a unique but difficult climb. She used her celebrity status as a starting point to launch her in the direction she wanted to go, as opposed to making reality television her career. She began working with smaller businesses using her previous experience on television as a job skill to work her way into business. In Forbes, Conrad is applauded for her success. The fabulous entrepreneur writes, “Do something that you love, surround yourself with people you trust, learn from your mistakes, work hard, and don’t let other people’s opinions of you become your limitations.”
Another girl boss who is thriving in the networking world is the beautiful Ashley Graham. The American plus-size model struts her boss attitude down the runway and inspires women everywhere to love their bodies. Landing multiple magazine covers in 2016 and posing in the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, this woman is a beauty icon. A model and now businesswoman, Graham, at 27, launched her own $1.6 million lingerie line with Canadian retailor Addition Elle and was listed by Forbes as one of their 30 Under 30 in 2016.
Although, being recognized by the big lists and publications like these women were is a huge accomplishment, you should not be discouraged if it takes a little longer to make it. Sometimes it takes a while to get to where you want to be, and that’s okay. In the meantime, you don’t have to sit around waiting for big name companies to acknowledge your boss-ness. Start by giving yourself and your peers a round of applause for a job well done. Heir PR, a Public Relations, Marketing, and Consulting network that works with clients to build their brand, honoured its inaugural class of inspiring entrepreneurs and influencers this year. Our very own New Girl on the Block co-founder, Safia Bartholomew, stands proudly as one of a few who made the list.
Being a part of big platforms may seem like the best thing in the world, but the only thing that will make you feel important is yourself. Appreciate your self-worth and do not rely on intimidating networks to define your brand.
Always remember that you are not alone in working to achieve your goals. There are plenty of people struggling to make it as well, and it is important to acknowledge their hard work. Any success is worth celebrating. Working together only makes for a stronger brand. Sharing your success with other people may expose you to newer opportunities that can benefit your business. But it’s also comforting knowing there are people who have similar interests and goals as you do and connecting with these people may even change your life for the better.
It is important to celebrate ourselves and each other, but in case you are not sure how to, or are too shy to, here are some ways you can feel like the queen you are destined to be:
- Social media shout-outs – Posting your own or someone else’s work on Instagram goes a long way since 90% of young people are on social media. Even if you leave a complimentary comment on a post, it boosts the creator’s confidence and essentially recognizes them as someone interesting and successful.
- Attend events – By attending events, you have the opportunity to connect with so many different people and gain a new perspective. When I volunteered at Grace, Grit and Hustle, listening to these women speak about their lives and how far they’ve come. Their stories got me thinking about my past, present and future and all the opportunities I have yet to experience. Events are also a good way to build your brand and have a fun time doing it.
- Referring others to family/friends – Meeting a professional in the field you are pursuing can expand your skill sets and be life-changing for your career. Do not be shy if your friend is talking about their awesome editor of an aunt, and ask for an introduction. The same goes if someone is asking you to refer them to an entrepreneur. Even if the meeting does not lead you to a job right away, at least you can obtain some useful advice for future opportunities.
- Purchase products – Personally, I have always bought books from inspiring entrepreneurs, and learning from their lives has led me to take action for my own goals and aspirations.
There can never be too many queens in the world so keep working hard, appreciate every opportunity and success, and stay connected. There may be times when you feel insignificant and small but the truth is everyone sometimes feels lost in this world. It’s how you find your way towards your version of success that makes achieving your dreams extraordinary. Whether on your own or with a little help from a friend, your hard work counts.
You might not be fighting crime all over the city saving the lives of your fellow citizens with superhero powers but that doesn’t mean you cannot feel as if you are indestructible. Wonder Woman is a well-known superhero who, personally, I believe is the most badass superhero in the comic world. In the workplace, Wonder Woman’s powerful stance can represent that a woman is capable of kicking ass in a male dominated world. So, I am going to let you in on a little secret to obtaining Wonder Woman’s badass attitude. Listen carefully. Ready? Stand up straight, legs shoulder width apart, place both hands on your hips, chin up, now smile. You did it. You are now as unstoppable and powerful as Wonder Woman. Don’t believe me?