Finding Success Online: Grow Your Social Following into a Creative Business | Kate Arends | Skillshare

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Finding Success Online: Grow Your Social Following into a Creative Business

teacher avatar Kate Arends, Founder, Wit & Delight

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Path to Success


    • 3.

      The Power of Personal Brand


    • 4.

      Finding Your Why


    • 5.

      Navigating the Transition


    • 6.

      Creating Successful Content


    • 7.

      Growing Your Business


    • 8.

      Choosing the Right Partners


    • 9.

      Building a Loyal Audience


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Take your online creative career to the next level with behind-the-scenes steps from creative superstar Kate Arends!

From the comfort of her home, Kate opens up about the unconventional career path that took her from blogger with a full-time job to founder and creative director of the popular lifestyle brand Wit & Delight. Kate’s key to success? Realizing that she could use her social media presence to identify new opportunities and ultimately, build a full-fledged business. 

Now, Kate’s sharing what she’s learned so that you can do the same. Perfect for freelancers, side-hustlers, and social media enthusiasts, this inspiring class will decode the mystery of how your favorite creative professionals use social channels to build a brand and sustain a career doing what they love.

Key lessons cover:

  • Honing in on your expertise, vision, and community
  • Developing your content pillars and channels 
  • Identifying worthwhile opportunities like partnerships and product lines
  • Honoring your audience as you grow your brand

Plus, Kate shares tips and examples from Wit & Delight, talking through her transition from blogger to boss, and the impact it’s had on her life as a creative. 

Whether you’re a writer with dreams of working for yourself or a designer who wants to launch a lifestyle brand, Kate’s process will unlock a new way forward. Wherever you're starting from, by the end you’ll have a roadmap to build the creative life you crave. What are you waiting for?


All you need to follow along is a pen and paper. This class will be most useful if you already have an established social media presence—that doesn’t mean a massive following, just something you’re known for on one or more channels. Not quite there? Start with Kate’s class Personal Branding: Crafting Your Social Media Presence.

Meet Your Teacher

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Kate Arends

Founder, Wit & Delight


Wit & Delight is an ongoing project created by Kate Arends. Founded in 2009, the lifestyle website has evolved into a brand that celebrates a combination of veracious expression and simple elegance with an approachable, yet edited point of view. Above all, Wit & Delight is dedicated to the development of it’s readers, promoting self discovery, mental health advocacy, and wellness topics as the foundation of a life well lived.

Wit & Delight reaches a million readers everyday, and has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Women’s Wear Daily, Fast Company, New York Times, and Elle Decor, among other national publications. In 2014, Wit & Delight introduced a limited-edition product line with Target Corporation.

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1. Introduction: We often think there are only one or two career paths available to us. But in fact, there are so many creative ways that we can build businesses these days. My name is Kate Arends. I started a lifestyle brand called Wit & Delight, and today, we're going to talk about transitioning your personal brand into a full-fledged business. Wit & Delight started as a hobby, and once our community grew, I thought about ways that I can transition this hobby into something I could do full time. This course includes everything that I've learned from growing my business and will help you avoid some of the missteps that I made along the way. We'll start with defining your why, and really honing in on what exactly it is you want to be known for. The second part, we're going to look at different types of business models that would fit with your business. Then lastly, we're going to talk about your audience and partnerships that can help you grow even further. Anyone who's taken any of my personal branding classes should take this class, because we're going to go a lot deeper into how to actually look at what opportunities are available to you and how to choose the right one. Growing my personal brand into a business has allowed me the freedom to grow my life into one that I never really can even fully dream of. It has taught me how to take leaps of faith in myself and connected me to a broader audience of people I never dreamed possible. This class can be overwhelming, that what you're going to get out of it is a better understanding of what path is available for you into the future. I'm so excited to start this journey with you, and let's get started. 2. Your Path to Success: I'm so excited that you decided to join the class. I'm going to talk about how I went from a graphic designer to owner of a lifestyle brand. It took a lot of trial and error, and a lot of hard questions that I had to answer for myself. I had to decide what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do, and what I was going to give up in order to make Wit & Delight my full-time job. If you're taking this class, let's assume that you've already started building your personal brand. You've connected with your audience, you know where your area of expertise is, but you're looking for a little bit more clarity behind why someone would choose you as a business versus just a personal brand. This class doesn't mean that you need to quit your job or even want to quit your job. It can be great for people who are looking to make more out of their side hustle or want to be more effective and powerful within their community of expertise. The great news is right now, it's never been easier to go from personal brand of business. We have the technology to be able to work wherever we want. We have access to communities like we've never had before. We have opportunities to learn new skills like the class you're taking right now. By the end of this class, you're going to have a lot more clarity of how to transform your personal brand into your business. We're going to start with finding your why. This was the hardest thing I had to do with Wit & Delight. It means you have to figure out why you want to put all your time and effort behind something that is bigger than just your personal brand. Defining success is extremely important. It's something that we're not all great at doing. For this section of the class, we're going to be really honing in on what success looks like for you personally, so you can define how you're doing and move on once you hit that benchmark. Scaling your business model is all about what opportunities are available to you to create more revenue. As you grow as a business and rely less and less on your personal expertise, it's important to understand all the levers you need to pull to create recurring revenue, passive revenue, and revenue based on what you do every single day. Cultivating partnerships is all about finding the right partner to grow and scale your business. The partners you choose say a lot about your business, so it's really important to understand what's available to you and how they align with your values and your goals. Building audience longevity is where personal brand builders really shine. We talk about how to keep your audience engaged, how to keep them engaged through the transition, and how to bring new people into your community. I'm going to take you through a series of exercises that really help illustrate the concepts in this class. You're going to be able to upload them to the project gallery and share your progress with other students. You don't need much to take this class, but I would recommend you have a notebook and any ideas that you've scribbled down in terms of what your business might be in the future. Keeping those things handy will help you evaluate your concepts and get a clear picture on what you want to do going forward. The platform you use for building your personal brand doesn't really matter. All of these concepts can apply, whether you're on Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest. I'm so excited about this class because it pairs my personal experience with the research that I've done. The reason why I'm so excited to teach you is I've learned a lot from my mistakes and I've done a lot of reading. I'm hoping that this can give you the clearest path forward so you can leave this class feeling really empowered and excited to make this transition. 3. The Power of Personal Brand: We're going to start with an overview of what a personal brand is and just get all on the same page about why it's so powerful. Personal brands are about having access to a community that knows you for a specific set of skills. It can be in any industry. Sometimes people connect to personal branding to influence us, but it really goes beyond that. If you're known for being a really great writer, a go-to person to create films, or someone who's just a really great editor, that is where we build our personal brand. What a personal brand can really do for you is get you started with understanding the need in your market. People connect really well one-on-one, and it's pretty easy to sell yourself because you're able to control the narrative, control the situation, and you're not running a team. That's why personal branding is such a great way to just test the waters and see if this concept is something that you want to build into a full-fledged business. So that's something I want you to think about in this portion of the class. Think about what you love about having a personal brand, think about where you add the most value, think about where you light up and get excited about the work that you do every day. If you're still wondering if you have a personal brand, I want you to think about what you're known for. If there is a small community out there that goes to you for a specific thing and says you do it better than anyone else, you have a personal brand. It doesn't matter how big your audience is or whether or not you call yourself an influencer or not, personal brands are really about honing in on what you're good at and making sure that other people know that you're available to help. The difference between a personal brand and a brand is truly you as a person, it's connecting the skill, the values, everything that you bring to the table with you as a person versus any entity. That's the big difference, and that's something that we're going to really focus on defining as we move forward. I'm so excited to get started. First up, we're going to talk about finding your why. 4. Finding Your Why: Finding your why is all about getting clear on what exactly it is you do. Think about defining what you do as one thing. You want that one thing to be big enough to be able to encompass everything that you do, and really ladder up to how you make people's lives better. Knowing your why really helps you scale your business to involve other people and products, and things that all ladder up to the same reason for existing. You want to be able to have the right filter for hiring, the right filter for what you should make, and the right filter for who you should work with, and that all starts with finding your why. Finding your why requires a little bit of searching. You want to look at what aspects of your personal brand really light you up, and where are they align with the community that you've already built. I'm going to tell you a personal story about how finding my why enabled me to go from Kate Arends the designer, to Kate Arends owner of a lifestyle brand, Wit & Delight, with six employees and 50 writers. When I started the blog, I really just started it to get design clients. That was my only sole purpose. But as the community grew, I realized they were telling me something about the opportunity. So I could either start a design blog that just talks about design, or I could look for the need that the community was finding in me, and decide to build a business around it. It's a lot harder to do, but I knew that I wanted to do something more than just be a graphic designer. I felt a calling to it. So I knew that if I was starting a blog and I could communicate well with people by writing, I could inspire them to learn from what I was writing. But you can't just decide that you want to inspire people. You have to decide what exactly you're going to be writing about. So I took inventory of three things. I looked at where my expertise was, I listed everything that I could do well just myself, and then I looked at what my vision was. My vision was what my why was all about. Why did I want to create this for people? Then I looked at my community, and my community I've listed out everything I knew about that person. With those three things, I was able to come up with a tagline that has been a filter for our entire business for the past six years. So my expertise, I was a designer, I was really good at writing, I could create beautiful photos, and I had a knack for creating aspirational imagery that was still really attainable. That was something that people just didn't see a lot of. That led me to my vision. My vision was that it didn't have to be unattainable to have an inspiring life. You just had to feel okay with the life that you had and feel empowered, to make decisions that would make you feel excited about little things in your life. Then I validated that idea with my community. I looked at what they needed, what they wanted, what they loved about Wit & Delight, and validated that my vision was something that they were going to want more of. That's how we came up with the tagline, designing a life well lived. It lives underneath the name Wit & Delight, which is really all about our brand values, that's what we want to do for people every day. When we introduce a new product, when we introduced a new opportunity to go to market, when we look at a new revenue stream, our new partner that we want to reach, we make sure that that tagline is always being served. Designing a life well lived is something that we do every single day. If we know that the product that we want to launch or the opportunity that comes along might not fit into that part of our business, we decide not to do it. That's why finding your why is so important. When you grow your business, you still want people to understand why you exist for a very specific reason. Sometimes it's a feeling, sometimes it's a specific product. What matters is that you get specific and you know that it resonates with your audience. This is a really crucial step. So I'm going to walk you through a little exercise that's going to make it easier for you to really define what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it well. So look at your worksheet. Imagine you're in an elevator and you're talking to someone for the first time, and you're talking about a problem in a way that they can relate to it. You start that conversation by giving them an example so they understand the problem that you're solving. Think about the different ways that you show up in the world that solves a problem that someone might have. You know how people have a hard time finding writers that can really relate to Junzi. You know how people have a really hard time finding recipes that are quick and easy to make under 30 minutes? Think about all the ways that you show up in the world and solve people's problems, and make it really relatable. Write that down a couple of times and circle the one that you feel most excited about. The next step is to write down how you provide the solution. Write it in your own words, and write it with energy and excitement. You want to get as specific as possible, but also pull out the most exciting parts of what you do every day. Remember, you're doing more than just offering a service or a product. You're helping people with some problem that they have. There's transformation involved. So write it a couple times, and make sure that excitement and energy is behind the words that you put down. You're going to want to have some emotional reaction to this. This is the summation of all the reasons why you want to build a business. It's how you transfer that energy of your personal brand into an understanding of what your business is about. The last part of this exercise is to include fact and proof. You want to look at the best work that you've done, and back up the claim that you're making. This is an important part when you take your personal brand into a business, because oftentimes what you're going to be building on is your past experience. That's what's going to get you the next job, that's what's going to get you the next round of funding, that's what's going to get people to get excited about hiring you. For you it might mean the clients that you've worked with, it might mean the problem that you solve, it might mean how many units that you sold last month. These are hard proof facts that you're able to write down, that have reference to a number, a sales goal, or actionable items that you can say you accomplished. Think of it as your resume for your business. So here's Wit & Delight's elevator pitch. You know how everyone goes to the time in their life where they realize they're an adult, but they don't feel like an adult. People have a problem sometimes understanding what they want to do with their lives. Wit & Delight exist to help people feel a little bit more comfortable in their own skin, be themselves where they are, and feel excited about the adult they're becoming in the world. We help three million people learn about the core topics, cooking, aspirational content, and the whole goal of it is to take them from inspired to transformed. In fact, that's why we do classes like this. I want you to get this clear in your brain, because what this exercise does, it helps you talk about yourself to other people. Sometimes the mission statement for your company comes after you've been out in the world working for a little bit. I know for us we validated designing a life well lived, years after we were acting as a company who did that. So don't feel pressure to boil what you're doing down into the great tagline that you think that you need to write right now. Start with a problem you solve, and how you solve it. If you're really struggling with this, don't worry. It's really hard to evaluate yourself, especially when you have such a passion for what you do. My tip would be to go and ask your followers, why do they like working with you? What content do they like seeing from you? Ask past clients for some validation as to why they enjoyed your product or service. Look for reasons why people enjoy your service and why you might be extremely unique in your market. One last tip is to remember that this should be really specific. You're going to feel concerned that it doesn't encompass everything that you offer. Remember that that's okay. You don't want to be everything to all people. You want to have it be broad enough, that it can encompass most of what you do, but you want to pick the thing that's most important about your business. It always goes back to how you provide a service or transformation that is unique to you. You want to get specific so other people can understand what you do and why you do it. Knowing your why is a big deal. Most of you are going to have more questions around how to get there. The book that I would recommend is The One Thing by Gary Keller. I've read that book three times now, and he really helps you get into the nitty-gritty of why your why is so important, and why choosing one thing really helps you scale your business without doing too many things all at once. Write down your answers to those important questions and I'll see you in the next lesson. 5. Navigating the Transition: Before we talk about defining success, I want to talk about a couple of hard truth that are just part of moving from personal brand to business. When you build a personal brand, a lot of your equity resides in the fact that you are able to influence people, that you'd have contact with the community and are seen as an expert in that field. That means that you have trust. It's really important to protect that trust as you move from personal brand to business owner. You also need to keep in mind that the brand that you become needs to reflect the values that you build with your personal brand. Looking at what values resonate with your community is something that you're going to want to protect moving forward as well. When you start out with the personal brand, trust is your only currency. Most often at this point, you've been hired to do a couple of things, maybe you've been paid by a couple of clients, but really your business is built on your community and that community trusts you. So it's really important to, not only build on top of that trust, but to maintain it as you move forward. That trust is going to look different as you bring in new revenue streams and new business models. But we want to make sure that we're protecting our trust that we've built with that community. Another hard truth is that we do not own our audiences. At any point in time, a follower or someone who's admired your work can decide to leave. Sometimes we can fear changing because we don't want to ruin that type of relationship that we have with our audience. It's important to know that when we lose followers, it's just a natural part of the selection process. It's going to be normal that we see a dip in our followers on Instagram or Twitter when we start to do something new. What's important is that you stick with your why. You remember that it's connected to your ideal audience, and seeing the audience fluctuate is just part of transitioning from personal brand to business. Brands are often expected to act the same way you are as a person. If you make the decision to remove your name from your business and go under a brand name versus having your name connected to this business that you're building, the values that you have now are still going to be expected if you in the future. You have to think about how that will transition. Something you might have realized as you moved into just a person online to having personal brand, is that the standards are higher for you. When you have a community and you respected within the community, oftentimes, you have to answer to more people than just yourself. That transition as you move from personal brand into a business is only going to get more complicated. Perhaps, the hardest truth to swallow is that your personal brand is not going to be personal anymore when you make the transition, that can be hard to give up. Oftentimes, we can be scared without that as a crutch as we move into a business. It is easier to connect as a person to your community than it is as a brand. But the opportunities are much greater when you have a bigger business to use and utilize, when you build new products and transform their lives. When your brand is not so personal anymore, when it's not just about you, you have to put your audience first. Chances are you already have a ton of values, baked into your personal brand, but you really are going to have to transition that audience to your sole focus. It can be really easy to use ourselves as a vehicle for transformation or as a vehicle to inspire someone. It's not to say that that will go away, but it's important that you're honoring your audience before you're honoring yourself. That can be a hard transition for anyone who's really used to building a personal brand. All of these truths can be a little bit scary, but the good news is I have a system that can help you look at the content that you're producing every day, give you some structure that puts your audience right on center, and helps you grow into the business that you've been dreaming to build. 6. Creating Successful Content: Now that you've talked about your why, it's really important to know how to evaluate if you're achieving your why. That means putting some benchmarks out there that defines success. Success is often mistaken as a feeling or a purpose or a reason for pursuing your own business, but really it's to show you that you're moving in the right direction. Now we're going to talk about how to define success, what it means, and how to set some benchmarks for yourself. For the purpose of this class, success is going to look like pulling your why into your content and that starts by giving yourself some structure. Remember, you can't show up and start selling to an audience that isn't ready to be sold to, we have to plant those seeds in their mind. What I'd like to do for Wit & Delight is define our content pillars. It's essentially a road map to how we show up in the world. A content pillar is just a device to organize the content that you create every day. It could be any type of media that you put out into the world. They're divided into pillars because they're meant to do different things with your audience. It's a formula that we use when we think about the content that they want to hear about and we can align that content with our values. We don't have to reinvent the wheel and we know that we're speaking directly to them every time we put out a piece of content. Let me walk you through how our content pillars look and how you can use the system for yourself. When creating your content pillars, you want to keep your purpose top of mind. For us, we use our tagline, Designing a Life Well Lived. For you, you can use your solution that you wrote down in the previous worksheet. I'd like to look at three areas you're able to best communicate with the audience that you've been cultivating as you transition from personal brand to business. You want to look at first where your community, the people that you've built an audience with and yourself, intersect. What do they care about? What problems do they have? What ways can you give them tips, tricks, and content that can help cultivate that trust between the two of you? For us, that includes lifestyle content. It includes ways to help people live better. It puts the audience front-and-center. Every time I create a meal or I think about an essay that has to do with my personal experience, I always remember that I should be speaking about it in the past tense. I should be giving them the best way forward in order for them to take what I've learned so they can do it themselves. This next piece is probably going to be new for you. We call it the branded content pillar. This is where you start planning the seeds for the types of business models you're going to be introducing to your audience. This is where you learn how to talk about yourself, your products, and how people can use them. For us, when we launched our e-commerce site, we knew that we wanted to make sure that people knew we were going to be just turning into a site that talked about themselves all the time. We created ways that people are going to understand how our branded content was going to show up and give them ways to opt in or opt out of that type of content by understanding who your audience is and what part of that audience really is interested in your branded content. You can better segment your audience. You're not constantly selling to the ones who are just interested in the content you're giving away for free. The last content pillar I want you to consider is the personal side of things. People started following you because they connected with you. You don't have to take that out of your business completely, especially as you move from personal brand to business. As the founder, as the brains behind the operation, people love to hear from you. It's important that you show up in ways that make them feel connected to the business as it started to grow and keep them interested in the personal side of how you're developing. As for me, I still show up as the founder. I like to call myself the delight machine which is actually becoming. My role at the company is to show up as myself every day online and connect with our readers. That personal connection really drives home the reason why people continue to stay with us year after year. It's important to understand how your personal content relates to your community and your branded content. Remember that it's an important part of the equation, but it's not the entire part of the equation as you go from personal brand to business. Now that we've talked about content pillars, let's talk about channels. The channels that you use to communicate with your audience are probably something that you know intimately. Most of you who have already started building a small to medium-size audience. What I want you to do in this section is really think about how these channels relate to the messages that you want to communicate. Now that we're talking to our community, not just about ourselves, but the problems that they have and we're talking about our brand, it's important to think about what role each channel will play. By giving yourself different parameters based on the channel, you can quickly and easily come up with an array of content ideas that are going to communicate to different people who might have different needs. I'd like you to think about each channel that you show up in. Think about your website as home-based. This is where people can find everything they need to know about your business. Maybe it's your e-commerce store. The point is it's home-based for your business and your brand. I want you to think about how that changes if it's not just about you anymore. How would you exactly serve your audience and honor them through this channel? For Wit & Delight, it's all about finding the content that speaks most to the reader when they arrive. We changed our entire layout to make sure that people could explore and go down a rabbit hole of content that all made up what our business is about. Wit & Delight has also selected channels like Instagram and Twitter to serve as different roles. Our Instagram is essentially a peek into my life. For you, Instagram might be your portfolio. It really just matters how people connect with your audience on that platform. You want each channel to do something a little bit different because the content pillars can change based on how you're showing up in who you're talking to. Use the worksheet to rainstorm. You can use my own examples to see how I've broken out the different types of content based on the channel. We use this as a guide map to explore new content ideas or just make sure that we're serving our audience in a way that we intended to. Remember that trust it influences how you got here. Look at ways where that can show up really authentically. Figure out what channels are invaluable to your customer and focus on the ones that work for you. Don't add another channel and just because you feel like it. Just make sure you have enough channels involved that you can create a diverse message and have a couple touch points for your business to relate to your customers. Once you're super clear on your content pillars and really understand how you're going to use your channels, we're going to talk about your business model and what's available to you going forward. 7. Growing Your Business: Ultimately, people don't build businesses just to make money or just to turn a profit. They do it because they feel called to do so. That's why it's so important for your why to be prevalent in everything that you do. But in order to achieve your why, you need money to get there, and that's what this section is all about. Figuring out how you can find the money that you need in order to grow your passions. When I first started Wit & Delight, I rejected pretty much every opportunity there was to make money. I didn't want to do online ads because I loved how clean and clear the experience was in, but I did get to a point where I was spending a ton of time and effort creating the content only to see that I was spending more money than I was bringing in. Our audience was as big as it had ever been, but I hadn't thought about how I could make money to live and possibly then leave my job so I could go and create more great content. That's when I realized I had to rethink the way that I thought about my business. I had to figure out ways to monetize what I was doing. There could be parts of the business where I just broke even. There could be parts of the business where I didn't make any money, and there could be parts of the business where I made more money that could fund the areas where it was a little less profitable. What I want to do is talk about different ways that you can have more control over your income streams and make money while you're not doing much of anything. The first tip that I have on rethinking the way that you make money is to diversify your income. That means looking at different ways you're able to pull revenue in from your personal brand. If you haven't job that is related to your personal brand, let's say you're a writer and you make money by writing for a living, you are making money with your personal brand. What you want to do is look at ways that you can leverage the community to more opportunities. That doesn't mean using your audience for making money. It means understanding all the opportunities that are available to you and pursuing the ones that make the most sense. You also want to look at the value that you're adding that might not necessarily be part of making money. There are going to be parts of your business where you make quite a bit of money. There'll be parts of your business where you make no money at all, and there'll be parts of the business where you lose money. The whole point in diversifying your income is to make sure that everything is evening out. You're able to put food on your table, give your audience the best type of product possible, and continue to grow to do more of what you love. Keep in mind as you look at different ways you can make more passive income that your why has to be at the center of everything. Your why is always going to be the filter to decide which one of these passive income streams you want to bring into your business. As it began to look at ways to build Wit & Delight, I went back to my why and thought, what would I get really excited about doing? My background is in graphic design and it felt a little bit weird to just be writing every day. I thought, how could I bring products to people in real life that reflected Wit & Delight's values? That's when we decided to add a passive revenue stream that was directly linked to my why and my passion. We could create products that helped people design a life well lived, which was an add on or an extra benefit of the content we were already creating, and bonus, it was a passive revenue income stream. We could create the product, create an e-commerce site, and pretty easily sell it to people without having to add too much overhead. It made sense not just because the opportunity was available, but because it aligned with my passion and my why. We were able to spend this time on creating product in this passer revenue stream because it helps us deliver our mission to our readers even more so than just our media content. If you have a personal brand that's out in the worlds where you're providing a service, you know that you have to do something in order to get the paycheck. Your income comes directly from the service that you're providing. Which means that every time you need to make more money, you need to find someone to pay for that service. What's great, is there are more opportunities than ever for people who are in the service industry to create passive revenue streams. An example is hosting a class on Skillshare. I'm going to record this class and then people can take it anytime they want, and anytime someone takes it and finds it valuable, I get a little bit of money. I can take the high-quality work that I've been paid quite a bit of money hourly to teach and give it to you guys for a lower cost, and I don't have to show up at your door and teach it to you one on one. It's a wonderful way to take the highest value stuff you provide and get it to a broader group of people. Now let's talk about your income potential. There are three important things to consider. Your experience and expertise, the profit potential, and your community. Your community is going to be the customer base that you already know and understand. You know the ins and outs of what problems they have, you been talking to them already and they already trust you. Your expertise is probably where your personal brand started. It's what you're known for. Use that expertise as a way to get creative with what opportunities are available to you. Profit potential really helps you decide what part of the business you want to scale first. For example, I could teach a class or I could write a book. The time and energy it takes to write a book is quite great, and there's a long waiting period before it can get into the hands of our readers. Taking a class is something that I felt really excited to do because I could break it up into small chunks and deliver it to people pretty quickly. The profit potential is a little bit smaller on the class side, but over time can lead to something pretty great. What I decided to do was put a book proposal on hold and create a couple of courses. Not only does that content get out into the world, I can vet the idea and still make money at the same time. Looking at the profit potential is looking at all the opportunities you have to make incremental income. Those all add up, especially when you look at ways you can expend less energy and less time and still be bringing in money. Above all, you want to make sure that you're adding value to your community. Your community is going to want a lot of things from you. They're going to think it's possible for you to do a lot of things because you have the trust and the influence to do so. It's up to you to really align what your customers want, with what you want to do and why you exist? That's why we keep going back to the why question, and knowing your why is so important. Let's take a look at this worksheet and evaluate where your experience and profit potential and community can really create something great. You already are really familiar with your experience and your community. I want you to write down the top five things your experience can bring. Then I want you to write five things about your community that you think are the most important aspects of who you're talking to. Then I want you to write down any ideas that you have around how to make a profit. Some of the ideas that I have for you are; affiliate links, classes, sponsored content, book deals, a podcast, creating products, creating digital products, doing speaking events, creating events, and opening an online store. I want you to think about how all these things could possibly connect. You might uncover an interesting opportunity that you hadn't thought of before. If you're still feeling a little squeamish about making a profit off of your personal brand and audience, just remember that your time and your effort and your value has a $ amount. It can be really uncomfortable for people, and still to this day it's uncomfortable for me, but it really helped me find the confidence in my ability when I had to face the fact that I wanted to be able to grow a viable business. That means looking at the value that I put out into the world and being okay with putting a number against what I produce. Next up, we're going to talk about partnerships, the types that are available to you and how to go to market with them. 8. Choosing the Right Partners: Finding the right partner is a really important part of transitioning from personal brand to business. Let's first define what we mean by partnership. Partnership means looking for the right opportunities that align through business, that allows you to grow from personal brand into full-fledged business. It allows you to scale, create new opportunities, or make something on a bigger scale, that you wouldn't normally do just when you're operating as a personal brand. For example, when delight partnered with target to create a number of product lines. Not only did it help us reach new audiences, we were able to deliver products at a scale and at a production level that we would never had access to. That type of partnership allowed us to grow as a business and created more opportunities for ourselves, not necessarily just with partners. Our target partnership was a really big opportunity, but on a smaller scale, we partner with brands that have like-minded audiences, like-minded values, and create products that we feel best align with our audience. The whole idea is that by partnering, you're able to both grow your business and provide more opportunity for your customers to gain value from what you're putting out into the world. The most important part of deciding what type of partnership you want to pursue, is that it aligns with your values and you're not adding extra work to your plate, it really should align with what you're already doing every day and the partnership should bring it to market in a way that is easier, faster, and more profitable for you. By aligning with people who share your values, it makes it more seamless and more interesting and exciting for your customers. When you align with people who share your values, you're not going to be arguing over the best way to go to market. Most likely, they're going to respect the customers and want to treat them the same way that you do. For example, we've had opportunities to go to market with other retailers that we wouldn't talk about normally. So when we were asked to work with them, we thought, would we talk about them normally? Even though the opportunity was really exciting and I knew that we could create a great product, the optics and the way the partnership would look, would hinder people's ability to go and enjoy and buy from the product line itself. Sometimes you have to think about how it looks to partner with certain businesses, even if you have faith that you're able to bring a really wonderful product market. Remember when we talked about, our only currency is trust? When you build a brand backwards, that is, to start with an audience versus starting with the product, the rules are just a little bit different. A partnership that might make sense before you build an audience doesn't make sense after the fact and so that's why it's important to keep values top of mind when selecting the right partner. Let's take a look at some specific partnerships that might work for your personal brand. A product line is a really popular type of partnership. A product line is great for people who are creatives, who like to make things, or influencers who already sell a lot of products for other brands. If you have a love and passion for designing and creating things, this is something that you're going to want to look at. Product partnerships work best when your audience aligns with the brand's target audience and the partnership make sense in the minds of both your customer and their customer. These opportunities often look like a limited time product opportunity. There's little risk involved for either company and there's some scarcity involved. So people get really excited about trying out the new product offering that will be gone in just a few weeks. My target lines were often like this, but we also began to launch longer product lines that lasted for two years. The key to success here is, knowing that product offerings really makes sense for your customer, that you would feel totally comfortable introducing it and feel confident that they would buy, and finding a partner that makes sense with your customer. It's important to remember that you want to be leveraging your own brand just as much as they're leveraging theirs, it should feel like an equal opportunity for both of you. A great segue from product collaborations is into licensing. Licensing often involves using your name, likeness and artwork on a product. You're paid for a percentage of sales and oftentimes in upfront design feet. The downside of product development and licensing with a partner is that you don't have much control over any of the production, and your name and likeness is used. Oftentimes people don't understand that you're not responsible for a product being faulty. Makes sure that you read everything in the contract and make sure that you understand that bringing a product to market isn't for everyone. A dedicated E-commerce shop is a really great way to take the next step into selling products, especially if you're an influencer. You're already spending time curating the things that you love the most. Let's say you're a writer and you're talking about your favorite tools or resources, or let's say you have an online coaching business where you're helping people learn how to build their business, you can essentially create a shop where you have all of those tools available to people. You can either buy inventory or gets set up through an affiliate marketing program where you get a percentage of sales after you sell them. What's really great about this type of model as you're already doing the work to bring the best products to people, by creating a shop, you're able to put that skill to work and get more of profit when people buy directly from you. I found that this is a great way to just utilize what you're already doing. It requires a little bit of work up front, but then the shop can do the selling for you. Let's say you're a designer who's really interested in creating your own special product. You can go and create that product and sell it direct, which is a really popular way to build businesses now, but that can take a lot of time and quite a bit of risk. Another thing you can do is create your product and then offer it at wholesale for other people. Let's say you're in the lifestyle category and you're an influencer who already knows really great home decor product. You can create that product, not sell it yourself, but sell it to others and they can get really excited about the fact that your brand already has some awareness. So you essentially are starting a little bit ahead of the game from other designers who want to create a label from scratch, which can be a really exciting opportunity for any designer or creator out there who has a passion for making things. Partnerships are not just about profit or product or creating something that doesn't exist. Partnerships can come in the form of PR. Think about people in your community or in your sphere of influence. They probably have podcasts, TV shows, opportunities to go live on Facebook, because you've already created a community, you have things that are valuable to say and everyone needs great content and gas on their shows. Reach out to people that you think that you'd love to cross collaborate with. Get out there and meet new people and build your audience. Get used to talking about yourself as not just a personal brand, but a business. It's a great way to get out there and build your public relations and relationships within your community. The best way to reach out to a partner, is to show the affinity that you already have for what they're doing. If you're excited about what they're doing and you follow them and you're excited about the content, tell them that, engage with them on social media, send them a short note of appreciation and express that you'd love to partner with them. The important thing to remember is that when you ask someone for a favor, don't make it difficult for them to respond. Come up with exactly what you'd like to do with them and make it easy to say yes. If you're in a position where you're being asked to be a partner and you don't think it's a good fit right now, you don't owe anyone an explanation other than the fact that you don't either have the time or the opportunity isn't right, right now. The point is, is to be curious, kind, and act like a human, even if you're not talking face to face. A lot of us feel afraid to ask and some of us feel afraid to say no. It's really important as a personal brand that's transitioning into a business, that you keep your time and effort and energy in check. On the other hand, don't be afraid to say yes to opportunities that aren't your first choice, but gives you the opportunity to practice. What I want you to do is create a checklist of who your ideal partner would look like. Go after the ones that you think are the perfect fit. It doesn't matter if you think they would never return your call, it doesn't hurt to reach out. You'd be surprised that they may already know about what you're doing. Sometimes we have to learn along the way. That's the way that I've learned most of my important lessons and sometimes I've been really happy that I had a practice run before it really mattered. Get out there, try a few things, make a few mistakes, and don't be afraid to acknowledge when it happens. It's important that you learn from them and re-corrects the next time you give it a try. Partnerships are all about give-and-take, show up and give everything you've got and most likely you're going to get a great response and return. Next up, we're going to talk about building a long-term audience and keeping the one that you already have. 9. Building a Loyal Audience: In this lesson, we're going to talk about audience longevity. The biggest mistake I see people who take personal brands to full fledged business is they forget to keep their audience front and center. They are the people that you're serving, they are the inspiration behind the product itself, and when your relationship changes with them and you become more focused on building other aspects of your business, it can be really easy just to feel too overwhelmed and too busy to cultivate those relationships. What you can do is align what you do with what your audience needs. So I'm going to take you through two exercises that really help me when I feel like we need to reconnect with our North star. Our audience inspires everything that we do, and that's why they're so important to our business and our brand. So let's break it down a little bit further. Who exactly is your audience? When was the last time you took inventory of who they actually were? I want you to write down every single attribute you know about them based on your conversations with them, based on any analytics that you have, and based on what they're willing to share with you. Look for commonalities. Look for generalities. Look at the largest category and begin to think about, what makes them the same? What makes them different? When you look at your audience, you're going to want to not talk to all of them, but talk to the majority. Talk to the ones that you think you can build a relationship as you scale your business. Really there going to be some people who fall off here and there, and that's just part of building a brand online. But you want to identify who your core audience is going to be, even within the audience that you already have. They're going to be the ones that tell you what they want and what they don't want, and all of your success is got to line up against what they want and how they behave to what you put out in the world. One of the best questions you can ask yourself about your audience is, what do they fear? What do they hope for? What are their dreams? What do they wish was out in the world? They will tell you the types of products and services that they might want to see from you. All you have to do is ask and listen. So in this section, I want you to put yourself in their shoes. If you're having a hard time getting there, feel free to go out and ask, what is their biggest challenge? If they could snap their fingers right now and change something in their life, what would it be? It gives you a really good understanding at where they are in their lives and where there's a problem, there's a potential opportunity to find a solution. I find often that my own issues and my own problems relate to the ones of my audience. Building your personal brand is oftentimes about connection, and that means we share some things in common. There's going to be times that you might feel like you want to project onto your audience or that you're going to want to go out and solve your own problems. That's why it's so important to not just go with your gut instinct and not just think of yourself as your target audience. Vetting your ideas against people's different opinions will show you where there are weak spots. So don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes we're afraid that people won't like our idea. We're afraid that it won't be for them. That's the best news you can possibly get. When we started creating product for Wit & Delight, I thought I had a really good handle on what audience wanted. Our content that was most engaging was around home decor. But when I started talking about my own journey as an entrepreneur and how I got things done during the day and my struggles with ADHD, I was so surprised how many people found my stories really engaging. What I discovered was we had a whole new opportunity to help them get more out of their lives. It still is helping people design a life well lived, but it was a category I never anticipated that we would be entering into. Now we sell multiple productivity notebooks every single day and we're in 700 stores with our own stay on track system, which just came from my own personal experience. If I wouldn't have shared how I got stuff done during the day and heard the outcry of people needing it in their lives, I would have never pursued that. So that's why it's so important to understand your audience. There might be an opportunity sitting there that's really easy for you to grasp and aligns with your why. It can be a little bit hard to understand why people follow you. When you get so close to your business, sometimes you think, they just must like my product or service. When it turns out, it's either a little bit more general or emotional than that. So what I like to do is get out of my own head and really think about why people follow me and what I do to serve them. So we've created a little worksheet for you to do the same. I want you to think about why people are interested in your personal brand. What is the one thing that you do that no one else does like you? If you have a hard time thinking about it, ask them, why do they like to follow you? Why are they interested in your work? Why do they keep coming back to hire you? It's important to understand where your value lies because then you can better identify how you serve them. This way, you're connected with your audience, you understand why they follow you, and there's fewer opportunity for you to move off course and create some product or service that is going to alienate your core customer. Once you have your list written down, I want you to circle three things that you think are most powerful in the way that you show up and serve people. Hopefully these align with your why, and you get really excited about doing it every day. If not, I challenge you to go back and write a little bit more. You want the things you do for your audience every day to be directly aligned with what excites you about what you're doing. That way you have more energy and more tenacity to get out there and do the best you can for your audience every single day. It's important to not underestimate the power of that because you've built a personal brand around it. The most important part of this class is connecting your why to the future of your business. Everything that you need to know is found within your audience, and it's found within the reason why you started your personal brand in the first place. Sometimes we get so close to our work that we only see the opportunities that are right in front of us. That's what's so great about having an audience. When you put yourself out in the world and ask what if, or you test ideas with people who already are excited about what you're doing, you're able to see the potential in the brand that you've already built. What I hope you get from this class is the opportunity to step back from what you've been doing every single day and look at the opportunities that you've built for yourself. 10. Final Thoughts: I'm so glad that you took this class. It's really personal to me. My personal brand came to be almost by accident, and sometimes our communities build up around us. Looking at the conversations that you're having with your audience and seeing how they find you valuable, can be really exciting, and it can be a little bit scary. This entire class is about going with the flow, but also guiding the conversation that you want to be having with your audience. They can show you potential in yourself that you never knew possible, but you also have to be excited about where you're going. That's where this opportunity becomes so great. You get to choose what you do next. You get to choose what you do with your personal brand. There's no right way to do it, there's no one way to do it. I hope that you consider sharing your process with me in the project gallery. I really look forward to hearing what you're working on, and your own experiences building a personal brand, and I'm here if you have any questions. So as you walk away from this class, think about what you really want out of your future. It's only up to you to decide what's best for you.