Recently I did something I never, ever thought was possible …
I took a year off.
For five years, I created and launched in a never-ending sequence. It was like a really intense post-graduate program in online entrepreneurship. At the end of the five years I realized something I’d been suspecting for a while …
It wasn’t quite what I wanted.
During that time I had actually been creating TWO things: a personal brand of sorts, around myself – my unique perspective, quirks and all – and a vocation.
The vocation of “wardrobe stylist” was born of an experiment where I transformed my own style. And so, when I was thrust into entrepreneurship after a layoff from my corporate career as an interior designer, styling for others seemed an obvious path.
And I enjoyed it! For a while. Until I realized I loved fashion and would rather be a consumer of fashion and fashion content, rather than an actual authority on it.
The things we love are not always the things meant to be a vocation.
Also, around that time, I was being pulled to spend more and more time working on a creative writing project that has turned into a dream bigger than I could have ever imagined.
Oh, and my cat died.
So, let’s recap …
1.) I lost all interest in my career. Like, all interest. 2.) A fun, little hobby of writing – widely known for being perfect for those who don’t mind poverty – began to present itself as my destiny. And 3.) I lost my furbaby. In one summer.
Looking back, I think it’s safe to call this what it was: an identity crisis. A mild one, but still.
I just couldn’t find it in me to create anything to keep the online business machine going. For five years, that’s all I had known: create something, launch it, create something, launch it, create something, launch it …
So, I didn’t do much of anything because, if it didn’t feel right in my soul, I had zero interest. And, if you’re like me, you know that absolutely nothing is happening around something you have zero interest in – I just don’t have the discipline.
And I’m inherently a rebel. In high school it was ditching classes I hated (math). At 38, it’s refusing to do fuck-all when I don’t feel like it.
But there was one thing that remained – a small handful of styling clients who were all working on some major career aspirations. Not just getting a raise at work, but launching businesses and eyeing up careers in the media.
To me, achieving these things seemed easy enough for my savvy, sophisticated clients. And I was really excited about helping them in the process. So I pitched that we work together not on style, but on their goals. They all said yes, and shortly after, I added a few more with just a couple emails to the list I’d been building for five years.
When I say I took a year off, what I mean is that I took a year off from the create/launch cycle and simply relied on the platform I’d created to bring me enough income – enough that included putting more into savings than we ever have, making some major car repairs, and taking a trip to Mexico.
I still did work, but the work I did was coaching clients from the comfort of my home office.
Now, it’s a year later and, lo and behold, I’ve found my fire again. I’m excited to work on a project that feels authentic to who I am – a project that allows me to enjoy a cosmic exchange with my audience.
SO, WHAT WAS IT THAT ALLOWED ME TO TAKE A YEAR OFF AND FIND MYSELF?
“Is that like a brand?” you might be asking.
A brand is part of a platform, sure. But it’s not enough if you want to keep the future wide open for inspiration and possibility. Haven’t you ever looked around at something you wanted before and realized it just wasn’t your passion anymore?
Of course you have if you’re a creative, or multipassionate, a visionary, or a big dreamer.
Not a slick website, nor an amazing logo, nor the best photoshoot will allow you to reinvent yourself when you need to. Don’t get me wrong, those are all things that boost your presence.
But a platform demonstrates that you stand for something. It demonstrates why people should give a shit. It’s your vision, your mission, and your history all into one.
Build a platform and you’ve built perhaps the best asset in this age of online entrepreneurship. Building your platform comes down to two things:
Building an audience that’s bonded to you
Creating an exchange with that audience
Anyone can build a list of emails around a certain subject. This world is full of people who want to learn things, and that’s how you hook them – give value.
But just a bit of value isn’t enough.
You need to present yourself as the solution to their problem, not just create a product that’s a solution. In other words, you need to be a leader who captures their heart.
Once you’ve built an audience, you need to create an exchange with them – usually, money for specific solutions. That’s things like digital products, ecourses, and coaching, but this also works for anyone selling something in the larger marketplace.
Really, a solid platform can create sustainable income for almost any type of thought leader, creative, coach, or entrepreneur I can think of.
Keep delivering the best of yourself – NOT just the hottest product at the moment – but give people something they can believe in, day in and day out. That kind of leadership inspires people to share you and your brilliance with others, and that’s the best PR any of us could ever hope for.
Get enough superfans and – yep, you guessed it – you’ve got yourself an empire.