Andrea Beltrami is well-known for being a straight-shooting California girl that has unique brand vision and skills. In this webinar she shares her exclusive experience and advice in creating instantly recognizable brands. If you look for guidance to become a successful startuper - look no further.
With Dre Beltrami the owner and heart of the Branded Solopreneur
“Branding is everything involved with your brand. From your voice and purpose, to your url and style. It’s not something ”nice to have”, it’s a MUST HAVE to attain success in the digital and social world we live in these days!” - Andrea Beltrami
There will be no beating around the bush. Only straight and valuable answers to all your whys, whats and hows by Dre:
So brand is not one thing…brand is like your pantry that has all these individual things in it. You go to the kitchen and you cook this things and you always use the same ingredients. That’s really what branding is about. It’s about consistency, clarity and really understanding your brand from the inside out.
Development is getting things on paper, figuring out what your voice is, what your mission is, what are the exact topics that you’re going to teach on, it’s about the exact services or products that you’re gonna offer. There is so much to figure out before you even ready to work on visual side of things.
That is what a lot of solopreneurs confuse. A lot of them end up getting a certain amount in there, they start to blog, start to get some traction and then they feel the disconnect. Everything is a little over here and over there. And nine times out of ten what they need to do is go back to development, because they have gaps inside their brand.
So it starts in the development phase and then it goes on to an “inspiration” phase. Which is gathering everything together so that you had a clear idea of what you want your voice and your visual style to be. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before you slap a logo up. Logo is not numero uno on the list.
It’s the same way online. If you’re creating an ecourse or online membership site or something like that, like TemplateMonster, you still need to have all the same basics in place. You just operate it differently. The local bakery would go to colleges that are around or coffee shops. And if you’re online you go to Twitter, some forum site or that kind of thing. It’s just a different hangout, but all the basics remain the same regardless of what the business is. The difference is that every business is different.
Your approach is going to be different, your voice is going to be different, look is going to be different. But at the end of the day what separates a local bakery from Apple is the size of team and the size of investment but the clarity and consistency needs to be there no matter what size your business is.
You know, there are so many ways to share value. But to get online and make a splash you need to invest in your relationship, invest time to be really active in a consistent way no matter where that is. Whether it’s Twitter, some forum, Facebook…every day you have to be on it, every day you have to be talking, adding value, every day you need to be sharing things that do not directly connect to your business, because it all wraps around relationship building.
If people don’t trust you and like you it’s the end, it’s the deal breaker. If they don’t trust you and like you they will not go to the next level to become a client.
It’s not like you need to invest a ton, but you need to be very clear of the “squirrel syndrome” when you’re like “I wanna be here, I wanna be there”. Like i said, get consistent, choose one or two platforms where you’re going to be really active with your people. Also I use Evernote. Every time I see something I want to share I copy that link and that’s the document I work from. Every Sunday I go and I schedule all my posts for all the social networks. All of it on this ten dollar tool. It takes me like three hours and that’s for seven days and now I have a VA that does that.
You don’t need a lot of tools, you just need to be organized.
That’s what an entrepreneur is. It’s not less work, it’s not easier than going to an office and having a steady paycheck but it’s for those of us who have it in blood. It’s our dream and we’re ready to put the work in. If you’re not ready to learn the things that you don’t know…
Like I’m not a writer, I had to learn how to write. I don’t even know how to spell most of the time, I don’t know where the hell comma goes. You know, I’m not a writer. This is funny, I had a friend who’s like a PhD and was writing or something and he’s like “Well, really, back in the days, like in Biblical times, they used a comma when they took a breath. So you really do right this way.” So that’s what I do, every time I’d take a breath – that’s where I put a comma. It’s genius.
So basically you need to learn the skills that you don’t have. I have the design, but if you don’t have visual skills and you want to make your images yourself than you got to learn design. And it doesn’t mean that you have to go to a college and get a degree or study design for three years to be able to do what you need, especially in the beginning.
Later on you can pay someone to do brand refresh and help you polish it up. You can definitely get far by not doing something that’s an A+++ work. Nonetheless you have to be willing to do a lot of work and a lot of hustle. You can do it, you can learn it, you can figure it out. There are so many hundreds of people, who have proven it out there.
But like I said, if you’re not willing to do work for a hundred hours a week so that you don’t have to work forty for somebody else, then it’s probably not for you, because it’s massive, unwavering commitment. Sorry to burst your bubble but that’s the truth, I speak the truth. If you’re going to do that ten hours a week, it’s not going to work.
What you need to know are the basics of marketing, sales and branding, the actual technical skills will come and there’s a lot of tools out there to help you. Especially free tools. WordPress.org is free…you have to buy hosting and domain name…and I would definitely suggest using a paid theme because free themes are really buggy and they don’t have any support. So when you do have an issue, there’s nobody to go ask, but you really need to learn just the basics of marketing, sales and branding.
You don’t have to be an expert overnight. It’s a journey, it takes time. I’m a year into thebrandedsolopreneur.com, I’m two and a half year into online business and I still…I’m just now learning how to do a sales page..I’m not an expert in everything.
I have my super powers and I learn the stuff I need when I need it and I’m launching a course, so guess what, now it’s time to go learn how to create a sales page. It’s not my favourite, but i want to do it myself, I don’t want to pay a couple thousand of dollars to a copywriter and designers to do it…so guess what happens? I got to buckle down, spend a week or two learning how to do a sales page.
What you don’t understand is that most people that you look at out there who you think have their shit together, like “oh they got all this traction in a year”, guess what, nine times out of ten there’s five brands before that failed and taught them everything they knew, and made them a success when they finally launched and got it right. And that’s the same case with me.
I had 4 brands before the Solopreneur. One was extremely successful and it was great, I was actually selling lanterns, candles, I manufactured all the stuff myself, it was a family business, we had some family issues and had to close the business down. That one taught me a lot about selling tangible physical products, about shipping process, so that was huge. But I also had two brands that tanked.
I did the mistakes that a lot of other people do. I chose the topic that’s so out of my wheelhouse(which was email marketing). But I didn’t believe that I could do anything about design or branding. I didn’t know how to monetize it, I was coming from corporate America where I was not really liked because of the sass and straight-shooting so I was really insecure about my voice and being able to be authentically me.
I ran that brand for a year and a half and I did nothing. No one knew who I was, I never really sold anything, it was awful. And that was the brand right before the Branded Solopreneur. And that was my “come to Jesus” moment, my “aha!” moment. I got real and thought that if I’m gonna do this stuff online, I got to be me or I got to throw in the towel. That one taught me everything. I was, what I call it, the marketing robot. I didn’t talk the way I talk, I didn’t teach anything that I knew, I thought I had to pretend to know everything to be in this “expert space”.
I bought every misconception out there and ultimately it made me a huge disaster. But those four brands before the Branded Solopreneur brought me here. It was three and a half years before I got to it. Three and a half years of fail upon fail, upon fail and learning upon learning.
It’s a process, you aren’t gonna come out of the gate successful. You got to learn, put in the time. Just like we did in corporate America, just like we did in school. We went to school for 12 to 16 years to get a degree…you can’t expect to become successful 6-figure entrepreneur in a year. It’s like anything else and it takes time.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I was going to do it, but I knew that I wanted to do it. Everybody fails. Every single person you see out there who’s hugely successful, I don’t care in what space it is, they failed and they heard “no” a million times. If that is going to stop you – it is going to be a long hard road. You’re going to have fails and really, you learn so much more from the fails.
Like i said, I had three brands that I massively failed and I nailed it with the Branded Solopreneur. Why? Because I f*cked up everything you could have done wrong and I learned from all of those. Nobody is going to give you permission to try again. It has to come from within. Also you have to get into community of people that are doing it. Many of us come from the families that don’t support us. They’d say, stay in the office, it’s so steady, you’re not ready. And it’s so hard to do if you don’t have the support system.
Now about combining the office job and entrepreneurship. Absolutely! A lot of people go that road. And they build the business while they still have the full time job. Make no mistake – that’s a lot of work, you have two full-time jobs. Don’t think that you can do an eight hour of your job and then do an hour of work at night for your business. You’re going to be up till one or two. And again, you need to be online connecting.
But you can do whatever you want to do. You can have 5 jobs and be an entrepreneur. But only if you’re driven and you want to do it. Nobody can give you permission and nobody can tell you you can’t. And if they do, use it to channel it. But be ready to fail even though you have everything planned perfectly, no matter how many courses you buy and how many coaches you listen to – you’re going to fail and it’s not going to mean the end of you. It’s going to teach you the biggest lesson you’re gonna learn and you’ll move on to making the next mistake. It’s gonna happen for the next 20 years, 50 years, however long you are in the business. It’s just part of being an entrepreneur. The ones that make it are the ones that keep getting up.
Of course it’s getting harder. 15 years ago you could slap a website up, do some SEO and get thousands of traffic a day. It’s not that way anymore. You don’t build it and they will come. You have to do the work and get the exposure out there. So no, it’s not getting any easier but it’s not less possible than it was.
You need a signature look for your website, you need something that doesn’t feel like everyone else. You have to infuse your personality into it. You have to be corky and silly or whatever it is that you are. You have to own it, to be unapologetic about it and fiercely consistent about it. You have to have it these days. You can’t just be a blogger and be like “oh I’m just gonna throw a link on Twitter, I don’t even have a color palette..”. You have to get your shit together.
Pinterest is great for crafts and design and weddings and clothes, and mommy stuff and recipes. Facebook is pretty much for everything. Linkedin is more of a corporate side of things. It’s not really for a lot of bloggers. Twitter I’m still wrapping my brain around. I thought it was celebrity driven, like “where’s Paris Hilton this week?” I don’t give a shit.
So it’s all about where you enjoy spending your time and where your people enjoy spending time. Find what you have in common and that will be your sweet spot.
When you speak to millennials you can have so much text type talk like LOL cause they’re super hype to that. Whereas older people..you know, a lot of my peeps from 20 to 45 and I use some acronym like that and ladies are like “I feel like an ass, but what does it mean?”. I do it to! I won’t ask and guess who goes and googles it. You got to talk to the people and talking to millennials is different. Every group of people is different.
Like a mommy blog, if you’re going for young moms, you’re going to speak certain way, and to older moms you’re going to speak another way. So it’s all about understanding who you’re targeting and understanding how they talk what they think about, what they hate, what they love… It’s all about getting in touch. As I said – marketing, sales, branding. That’s where you need to spend the time really diving into your skillset.
Everything that I did during the first 6 month especially, it came back to that. I wasn’t selling anything in the beginning, I just wanted to build trust, to build my authority, to build the website, I needed to get some blog posts out there so that I really had a website from which you actually can take things away.
I have always led with list building. I believe the money is in the list, I believe it can help you build relationship. I think we can all agree, millennials or not, – our email is gold. I do not give it out. I’d give my phone number out before I give my email. If somebody is willing to give you their email to get what you’re saying – that’s huge. They are giving you access to them. It’s like me saying “you can call me and you can ask me questions.” You can go into my space and I’m allowing you access. And that opens the door to being able to build relationship. You can now email them every week, you can now offer more value, you can now teach and eventually you can offer your services or products. So everything I did surrounded building my list.
There were pretty much three things: there was list building, focusing on two platforms 8 month – I was only active on Google+ and Pinterest. I was not on Twitter, I was not on Blab, I was not on Facebook – I focused on two. I know all the main players on Google+, I know all the main players on Pinterest. I know who they are, I built a relationship with them, I emailed them, I shared their work. The third thing I did was I created a lot of live events. I created a lot of mini-courses, because I don’t like the word webinar.
So I created a lot of opportunities for me to talk to my people. I could help them, I could teach them and again those were huge list builders. Cause after I did it, I promoted the replay. For email address I gave instant access to the replay. And the fourth – I finally started my private Facebook group. And again it was huge for me, cause I could talk and engage with my peeps. So most important things are relationship building and email marketing.
My emails are exactly how I write them to my friends. I use slang, I use corky punctuation, I use parentheses and put all of those inner thoughts. So I write legit how I talk. And that takes really long to get to, it gets time, but that’s the secret of email marketing in a non-icky way. I have people telling me all the time “when I read your email I can hear your voice.” People hear me in my writing, but that took time.
If you’re willing to make an investment whether that’s time or money – you can do it. A lot of us in the US get really disillusioned with the corporate world. We want to live these lives of purpose and do stuff that we actually love not just work for a cheque. We don’t want to accept status quo.
Internet gives the opportunity to live your dream. And that’s why everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, because everybody has a dream. And for a long time you had to suck that dream up. That’s not the case anymore and that’s the most amazing thing that you can make your dream come true.
So it’s not going to slow down. I mean, look at the small business movement. 20 years ago there wasn’t a lot of small business, you had to be a corporation to do anything. The solopreneur world, the movement of the “solo” – that’s very new, but that’s so real that it’s only going to grow.
They love going to work, love getting of work at 5 every day, love knowing that they get paid every other week or 15th and the 30th. So there’s no need to worry about factories and all the stuff, a lot of people don’t want to be an entrepreneur.
As far as small business goes, you don’t have to be online. There are tons of local-driven businesses. It depends on what your business is. Some of it doesn’t need to go too deep online, but say for the bakery example you might want to get people who come in to sign up to your email list. You can still talk to them, but you don’t necessarily need to be on social media.
With the email marketing for instance, you can put a pixel on your website and on Facebook do ads to everyone who visited your website. If people go to your website, they’re probably local, or they go to the store and you give them a postcard saying “visit this page to get 15% discount. As soon as they hit that page, there email is collected because of that code you added to your website and then on Facebook you can create ads that will target just those people.
There are always opportunities to leverage things online, but it doesn’t mean that you need to be social media driven business if you’re local type of thing. But there are all these technologies that can help you reach your local customers.
Getting hosting and a domain is usually less than a $100. Squarespace is so great, I know a lot of beginners that are overwhelmed by WordPress. And Squarespace hits it, they are growing fast, they have tons of plugins that make things easy like opt-ins and shopping carts, delivery freebies. Those are the two I’d start with. But you need to get a real website if you want a real business.
We have this huge movement over the last ten years. This whole hobby-blogger movement. That’s what Blogger platform is great for, wordpress.com is great for it. But if you want a business, you need to make an investment on the website side. That doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars by any means. But those are the two platforms that will grow with you, are beautiful, are very easy to use with no tech skills.
There is a learning curve, but you don’t need coding or any of the high technical expertise. And there’s so much support on both of them. If you’re stuck, there’s a million forums, every plugin has support. You’re not going to get in the corner where you don’t know what to do. There’s always avenues with those two platforms easily and for free. And I’m on WordPress.
I love this one winery and they are great. They respond to everybody who ever tags them, they give you free tastings. Brands that understand that if I’m hyping you on social media – thank me. Those are the brands that move me.
And I also like a lot of American-made stuff, cause I think too many things in this country are going to other countries and they aren’t putting money into the local economy. So I also like brands that employ people in our country and are putting things back into our local communities because that’s really important to me.
And the other thing is if it’s organic and natural that’s also where your color palette should be. So if there’s spinach and carrots in it – yeah. Invest in a real good label. Make color palette for your organic brand very organic.
Look into the color of the ingredients, look into the manner that you grow them and take all of the ques of your brand. Look to the nature. A lot of people don’t know that, but you can take a picture on a farm or a garden and there are programs like Adobe Color CC. You upload picture for free and it will create six palettes for you out of the colors in that photo. And that’s a really good tip for people who are doing like a food brands and natural brands, organic brands.
I have a client that sells sea salts. We got the color palette out of taking beach theme and taking colors straight out of there. Think about it, mother-nature already created the palette, don’t recreate the wheel, get it from nature and it’s going to feel as organic as it possibly can because it’s real.
It’s scary, but if that’s truly your dream, find the way to do it. Dreams are not these unattainable things. We live in a world where opportunity is in an abundance. If that means that for a year you have to work on the side and be in the office for a steady paycheck – do it. If this is your dream, connect with people like me and others out there who are willing to support and inspire you and share their own insecurities. If this is what you want to do – make it happen.
What you need is heart, drive, soul, you need to be ready to make this work. And there are people out there like me who want to celebrate the shit out of you and we want to make this happen.
I’m ready to support anybody out there that’s hungry enough to make this happen. Never let anybody tell you that your dream is impossible. I would love to connect with anybody out there that wants real talk about this, that has any questions. I’m super transparent and I’m happy to help anybody that wants to get this done.
I think we gave a lot of good info and questions that hopefully I gave some actual tips too. I’m glad that we could make it happen for your peeps!
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