To me, being visible in your business of course means being 'seen', but it also means being heard and understood.
I'll be honest, I'm not the most confident person, but I have found comfort in sharing who I really am through social media and my website because it has connected me to people that 'get me'.
When you find those people that understand, those people that are on the same wavelength as you...that's where the magic is.
Those are the work relationships that are going to make being self-employed both enjoyable AND profitable. Those are the people that are going to be loyal followers and buyers. Those are the people that are going to champion your business whenever they can - you make sense to them.
The only way you're going to find these people is to BE VISIBLE in all your perfect imperfectness.
Why does being visible matter?
I know that how we are perceived by other people is something we all worry about. It's natural, even the most confident people can't help that. What I think is important though is to show up anyway, as our most authentic selves.
I grew up, as I think you reading this will have too, before social media was a thing. The people I saw on TV and in films were heavily stereotyped - one thing or the other, no in-betweens.
What we learn as we get older is that people aren't really ever one thing or the other. We're all multi-faceted, ever-evolving, and endlessly interesting!
What I love about the internet and social media, is that it allows us to be seen just as we are. There's no casting director, no one to tell you what to wear, what to say, or how to show up. Real people telling real stories.
You write the script, you set the scene, you can be inspirational just by being your very own self.
On social media I've found people that look like me. People that don't look like me. People that have a similar story to me, and people that grew up in a different country and culture.
I'm friends with people that have disabilities, both visible and invisible. I'm friends with people who are on the same journey as me and I've been allowed an insight into journeys I might never have known about if those people had not been visible. I learn every day about things from different perspectives to my own.
Social media gets a bad rep, but I believe when it's used wisely it helps us all to realise we're more similar to each other than we think.
People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.
We really are in the 'age of the small business'. People like you and me are choosing to spend their hard earned cash with other people just like you and me.
Be visible so that people can find your amazing business and connect with you on a deeper level.
Be visible so that the person who feels alone in their journey realises they aren't as alone as they thought.
Be visible so that people understand why you do what you do and understand where your passion comes from.
Be visible so that someone who doesn't feel pretty enough, or clever enough, or skinny enough realises that none of that really matters.
Ways to be visible
Being visible doesn't always have to mean showing your face, but that's absolutely a good place to start!
After having a brand photoshoot this time last year and starting to show my face more on my website and especially on social media, my engagement levels and the sense of community around my brand increased really quickly.
I also started sharing longer captions on Instagram just over a year ago alongside my images, sharing snippets of my business journey, snippets about my personal life, and just my general musings on business and my lifestyle.
Being visible can be as simple as sharing a picture of your workspace, or the beautiful view on your weekend walk. I truly believe that social media can help you grow your business when you use it as it was originally intended to be used and don't just try to sell all the time.
Invest in a personal branding photoshoot if you can. Images of you at work, creating your products, and/or lifestyle images of you just in your favourite outfit, doing things that you love. Let people have that small window into your life. A recent client of mine said she hired me because she felt really connected to me because of the images of myself and my world I share. If you're in a competitive industry (like I am) a clients feeling of connection to you could be the tipping point to them hiring you over someone else.
Start sharing longer captions alongside your images on social media. It might feel like a lot of work in the beginning, but I promise you will get used to it. You don't need to write an essay each time, but can you explain a little more about the product you're sharing, or your process, or you business journey?
Write down your boundaries about personal things you feel like you can share and things that you definitely don't want to share. Thinking about this beforehand will help you to partition things off, no one is asking you to bare all.
Have a little notebook to write down any thoughts and musings you have throughout the week before you forget them. You can expand on your thoughts when you write your captions. Having a starting point makes it so much easier to write so you're not faced with that blank box.
Use an app like Preview to upload your photos, plan how your grid looks, and write some captions beforehand. Don't feel like you have to plan it all out way in advance though, sometimes I just write a caption as I upload a photo, sometimes I write it in the morning and post in the evening, and sometimes I might plan it a couple of days in advance if it feels like a big or hard thing to share so I can reflect on what I've written before posting.
Talk about your day or your week on Stories, and don't apologise for wearing makeup/not wearing makeup, making your hair look nice/not making your hair look nice, looking tired, looking happy, feeling sad, feeling overwhelmed. Just tell it like it is, no one needs an apology unless you've actually done something wrong.
However you currently feel about being more visible, I promise that it's not as scary as it might seem. Start small if you need to, all those small steps add up. Most people are actually lovely and you're very unlikely to get anything but love and support when you share more of yourself.
Please note that this article was originally sent out to my email list and has been adapted into a blog post.