As a creative, you’re used to self-expression. But when it comes to your online presence, you may wonder how much to actually reveal.
I get it! The sweet spot between creativity and business is a tricky thing to balance, even if you’re not in a corporate environment. After all, your creative projects are driven by what’s in your heart, but business is often a little more rigid. They can feel like two different worlds sometimes. And while storytelling is all about connection, you might not always know when to reveal a personal anecdote, or how your audience wants you to show up.
So, how personal should your brand storytelling be?
The short answer is: it depends! Here are some tips to get you started.
1) Understand the difference between a brand story and brand storytelling
Similar names – big difference. Your brand story is what led you to start your creative business, whereas brand storytelling is how you express your vision, creative process, and inspiration throughout all your communication. A brand story is inspiring, informative, and gives your audience a clear reason why you’re the one for them. Brand storytelling is ongoing, cohesive, and lets your unique personality shine through everywhere you communicate.
2) Examine your goal and your audience
Do you want to engage with a community you’re trying to build? Do you want to position yourself as a thought leader and teach others? What does your audience want to hear? Community-building often involves a bit more openness and vulnerability, while clients of someone like a creative coach or graphic designer don’t often need a lot of personal stories to have an engaged connection.
Some creatives, like artists, photographers, and writers, already have a good sense of what their audience wants to hear, since they have more immediate feedback through the nature of what they do. Other creative entrepreneurs may not be so sure. When in doubt – ask! The wonderful thing about any creative small business is that you have freedom to talk to your audience on a more personal level. This means it’s perfectly okay to ask your audience what they want to hear from you in your content.
3) Ask yourself why you could or should open up
Whether or not you’re naturally inclined to share personal stories, I recommend that the content you share is intentional. It’s wonderful to engage with your community just for the sake of personal connection, but you should also ask yourself why it might be beneficial to do so. Why does your audience want to – or need to – hear a personal story you have in mind? Could it help them understand your creative vision? Could it help them connect to your brand better? Or could it simply entertain them and foster a connection?
I know humans are, well, human, and we don’t always fit into perfectly logical zones. Sometimes you might think, “fuck it!” and share a vulnerable moment because you want to. But overall, thinking about why you’re getting personal in your creative business can help you to be more purposeful with it, and offer you guidance about what to reveal.
4) Operate within sight of your comfort zone
I believe that not everything is everyone’s business – even things that don’t feel that big. I’m very familiar with the way vulnerability in art is fine, but personal stories in business can feel scary. Forcing yourself to reveal things you don’t want to may generate interest, but it isn’t sustainable. If you hate the thought of being too personal on your website and social media, you won’t keep it up – and why make yourself do something you really dislike?
Creativity thrives on connection. Whether you’re an artist, content creator, designer, photographer, or any other type of creative entrepreneur, your audience wants to hear where your inspiration and passion come from. Find a way to share a personal story that you don’t want to delete immediately, and you’re golden.
Have fun with it!
You started your creative business to make money doing what you love, to explore interesting ideas and share them with others. That feeling of creative fulfillment can absolutely extend to your business. It’s an extension of that process, after all. Don’t stress too much about getting it perfect. Your audience comes to you because of what you offer, and nobody else does it like you. Your unique voice is yours alone, and that’s your biggest differentiating feature. Be honest, authentic, and your audience will really respond to it.
Ready to get started with telling your brand’s unique story? Find out how I can help!