This is an interview I did with my friend Mike Loomis, brand expert and coach. He is also the author of Your Brand is Calling, a book I reviewed in an earlier post.
Mike Loomis helps people launch their dream projects and books. Since starting and selling two businesses, he’s a strategic partner to bestselling authors, non-profits, publishers as well as startups, and aspiring messengers. He and his wife live in the mountains of Colorado with their pet moose. www.MikeLoomis.CO
1) Tell me how you became a brand coach.
I became a brand coach by accident… building and selling two small businesses. I realized that to build something that had value apart from me, I needed to create brand value. And both businesses were indirectly involved with helping clients build their brand: product development, book development, web sites, logo design, and marketing.
When I sold the second business (also known as “barely escaping with my sanity”) I volunteered with three select organizations to help them build their brands. This helped me realize how much I loved the work.
2) Writers need to sell something to make a living. What kind of backend strategies have worked for your clients – in other words, what else can a writer sell besides books to build his brand?
Great question. First, all aspiring authors must realize that book royalties likely won’t create income year after year. Even if you receive a $50,000 advance, year two may yield $0 in royalties. Speaking, editing, coaching, and video courses are viable options to produce recurring revenue. (For speakers, “back of the room” sales are one of the best opportunities to sell products of all kinds.)
3) Suppose a writer wants to become a coach – but hasn’t got any clients. What would you tell him to get him started?
I help many writers and editors build a profitable coaching business. The first step is to recognize that you probably know more than you realize. There’s always someone who know more than you – but there are plenty who know less!
Then decide who your “perfect” client would be. Look back on interactions you’ve had in the past, and what you liked/disliked about them. Having an “avatar” of your ideal client will help you identify prospects, but more importantly, gives you something to tout on your web site and social media.
Then, volunteer on a few small projects, with very clear boundaries and agreement about the finish line. After a few winning experiences, you’ll learn a lot about delivering value, and hopefully receive some referrals and offers to pay for your coaching.
4) In your book, your main idea is that every writer needs a brand. Can you summarize how someone can figure out what his brand is?
First, realize that you already have a brand. You have a reputation and a position in the minds of those in your network. For most people starting out in business, or writing, that brand needs some help.
Every writer needs an authentic and persuasive brand. Instead of trying to be “professional” or “hip” with your web and social media, focus on something much more difficult: being yourself. Not your self-depreciating, frightened self, your confident, bold self.
I define personal branding as “the public expression of your calling.” This is an inside-out approach, rather than a fake, “what does the market want?” approach.
Of course I go into much more detail about the process I use with clients in my book, Your Brand in Calling. https://mikeloomis.co/book/
5) When we’re building an audience, it’s really hard not to say yes to everything. Why is it okay to say no and how can a brand help with that?
I’m the worst person to answer this question! (Kidding. Not kidding!)
Seriously, if you’re receiving a lot of requests in the area you’d like to work in, that’s a good thing. Then, the trick is to convert free yes’s into paid yes’s. You do this by saying no, but. For example,
“I’d love to help you with that web site copy, but this is my profession. Would you like me to quote some options for you?”
People who make a living doing what they love are good at saying no. I didn’t say we like saying no, but we’re good at it, because our business depends on it. Saying no to the wrong opportunities frees you up to say yes to the right ones, and work on your own writing.
6) When someone builds a brand, aren’t they looking for a way to stand out in a crowd of similar professionals? What can someone do – that most people don’t – to stand out?
Yeah. Most people launching new brands present a brand that’s either fearful or fake. Both approaches will be ignored by the audience you hope to reach. Desperation is a dream killer.
New brands that grow dare to express their heart, skill, and weirdness. Tell the world what you’re the best in the world at, and tell them why you live it!
7) What do you tell your clients to do to get more appointments?
Be more generous. Build your skill and value in doing so. If your business isn’t getting referrals, there’s a problem with what you’re delivering.
8) What’s more important – social media or email? What have you found to be effective?
Both, but the goal is to build an email list of people who actually care about what you offer.
9) How can guest posting help a writer/coach build his expertise? How should someone approach this?
Guest posting is a huge component of growing your audience and business. Just last week I helped a client get posted on a large online publication. His post, which I helped craft, was shared over 1000 times on Facebook alone, and his email list are by 300!
10) What is the mindset of your most successful clients?
Without a doubt, one word: service. They serve others first and work on their business model, second.
11) Just for fun – What do you do when you’re not coaching?
My wife and I are blessed to live in our dream location, the mountains of Colorado. This morning, my wife and I went for a trail run, later today we might go mountain biking. Later this week, I may go fishing. In the winter, we ski. I believe geography is important – and related to our calling. Many of my clients enjoy having strategy sessions here, and that’s such a privilege for me.
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