Does your backdrop really matter that much? Do you look... different?
In this episode I talk about how your unique look/aesthetic sets you apart from your competitors in a good way. Showing up as yourself without filters, branded photoshoots, or a blank, professional backdrop builds trust and is the authentic way to go.
Looking and being different from others is an asset and you should lean into it!
Welcome to Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy. My name is Rochelle Sanchez. I'm a business and mindset coach, and I help visionary solopreneurs like you quiet your inner drama and build compassionate systems that allow you to show up consistently and authentically in your business. No matter where you came from, your social status, identity struggles or labels, You deserve to do what you love for a living. So let's go together! and find that next best step for you on your journey.
Hey friends! Today I'll be sharing some tips and personal examples of things you can do be more relatable in your online content so you can stand out among your competitors.
I encourage you to go ahead and purposely break some of the unspoken rules and guidelines you've learned from gurus on the internet, particularly when it comes to aesthetics and the typical way we look at branding.... meaning color palette, lighting, backgrounds and all that.
Remember, though, that we're aiming to change things with our businesses. If you were 100% on board with the way our society sees productivity and "winning," then you probably wouldn't have start your business. So let's focus on being that change and being that person who represents the world you want to build for your loved ones and your community.
Branding is a big one when it comes to rule breaking. Today I'm talking mostly about your backdrop and how simply creating your own personality with what's in the background can help you connect to viewers and followers who are watching your videos and streams online.
Usually the advice is to make sure you have a clean, clutter free background in your videos.
Also dressing the part, which is usually described as "Dress professionally." And usually that means some kind of blazer jacket, pressed, straight, or at most, wavy hair. It also usually means doing your makeup a certain way, using stock photos with rose gold glitter and a Macbook and plants, and probably repeating the phrase "stand in your power," regularly in your written copy.
As you know, I don't do any of those nowadays. I've found that it's just a lot easier to run my business without carrying the burden of toxic corporate culture on my back while I'm trying to help people like you step away from toxic corporate culture that you have on YOUR back.
My Busy Background and Unprofessional "Look"
And here's the evidence I have that helps me feel comfortable being myself and doing things my own way. I've got a couple examples for you.
I have a busy background in my office. If you've had a video call with me anytime in the last couple years you probably remember it. It's filled with things that make me happy, theme park maps, gadgets like a tomagatchi, post cards, art work, knick knacks. I like it. I figure I'm the one who has to work in this room, so I decided when I designed it to go ahead and make a wall that I enjoy looking at.
What I didn't expect, though, was this: my backdrop or background wall that I love is a decent vibe check when I meet someone on video for the first time. The comments they make that are either deeply supportive or passive aggressive. I'm not sharing this because I'm complaining about it, because I know that I'm not for everyone and someone else's opinion of how I decorate my office doesn't matter, really. More on that, later.
Why I Don't Dress To Impress
I also don't dress like a corporate side hustler. Sometimes I wear loud shirts or make my eyebrows blue or wear faux nose rings. I do it because I have work to do and just like people who wear power suits and high heels and Spanx, what I wear and how I prepare myself for my work day has an effect on the work I end up getting done. , This is just how I like to express myself. It is certainly a turn off for some people, for sure. I'm sure a few jerks I met and never circled back to collaborate with have gone to their karen circles and talked about how they met a 38 year old who dresses like I do, and they may have laughed because "Why would anyone want to give big money to someone who dresses like a child and has such a messy backdrop!" I'm sure it's happened. I've heard so many women talk about backgrounds and gossip together about this kind of trivial stuff, unfortunately.
But I don't mind. Because on the other side of the spectrum, I have people who have exclaimed, "OMG you have a pizza planet pizza box on your wall!" and there's an instant connection there. It also helps me create a safe space for other quirky people like me who may still be hiding their personality online, for fear that it will scare people off. It might, but in my experience, expressing myself authentically and honestly has been worth it.
Why it works: Why does it work? Why do our looks and backdrops and branding choices help us with making a connection to other people on the internet? I don't know. You can ask someone who has deep knowledge of color psychology and relationship building.
How Our Looks and Branding Create Trust and Connection
But I do know that most of our ideal clients are like us. They're similar to you, have the same interests, or at least they identify with someone you used to be or a struggle you used to have. And of course, that's likely related to the business you're building now and the offer you have for sale.
So I don't know exactly why our looks and aesthetics create connection. But here's the thing I do know: I know that trust takes time. I honest doubt that you're here because you want to learn how to trick people to give you their money. You're here and learning and doing the slow, heavy work as a founder of a business because you want to make a difference in someone's life. You want to make a difference in a whole lot of people's lives. Maybe you want to change entire communities, bring opportunities like jobs and food and exposure and love and creativity to a community that you deeply care about. You also know, deep down, that you're not gonna win them over just because you look a certain way. It's going to take a few minutes for them to trust you, because we're smart. We know the internet is full of people who are not trustworthy. We also know that we've all been through the same ongoing pandemic, and we're all trying our best.
Turn Inward instead of focusing on your outward appearance
So keeping that in mind.... where do we go from here? We do what we always do, which is focus on ourselves. You focus on you. Turning inward to how you see and interact with the world. And putting yourself in your ideal client's shoes and what it's like for them to witness you showing up on their feed or timeline, and what kind of connection you're building in more ways than just the carefully chosen color palette or your plain backdrop or your chosen power pose in your headshot.
Again, I'll give a personal example. I know that in my most loving, compassionate frame of mind, I have never seen an ad on my IG feed with a woman open-mouth laughing at her laptop at what I'm sure is a desk in a co-working space and said, "I would absolutely hire her for $1,500 per month to be my life coach." But what I have done is watch someone's consistent livestreams. I saw how they handled interruptions from their kid and saw the pile of laundry in the background and how it looks a lot like my pile of laundry that I've also been avoiding as I also signal to my autistic brother off screen when he interrupts me during my live streams or video calls. So, guess what. There were no blazer jackets involved and no fancy backdrops, but I did hire her as a life coach for a couple months at $1500 per month just to talk to me and help me get out of the rut I was in at that time.
At the risk of sounding a little too branded here on Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy, I can say that there was some form of compassionate bond between me and this coach that I hired for a lot of money. She was able to show herself and put herself out there. I, as a potential client watching on the internet, felt that kindness and openness and it worked. I appreciated that she had compassion for herself, because I knew from the content she was sharing that she was working on herself at the same time as offering to help us viewers of her livestreams and as potential clients.
I'm sure you have people following on with your content who will see you in the same way, so go ahead and just be yourself instead of curating the way you look so much.
It has to be mentioned... privilege and racist undertones
- And finally, before I go over some quick tips to summarize what you can take away from these examples... I have to point out elitist and racist undertones of these unspoken rules about what's acceptable. Expecting people to have clear, high quality sound and a clean backdrop and good lighting is, quite frankly, a fancy way of excluding people who aren't creating content from a single family home or a paid co-working space or in a professional studio. These best practices don't keep in mind what it's like be in a first or second generation immigrant family. And what it's like to have several generations and extended family members living under one roof. And how impossible it really might be to fake a "professional" back drop when literally everyone's stuff from your giant family is everywhere.
- Maybe that's you and your circumstances right now. That shouldn't set you back just because your life is different from other people's. People with big families can start and run businesses. People who don't wear classy high end clothes should be seen on the internet. People who take their own photos with their phones instead of hiring professional photographers deserve admiration, too. People who have curly, textured hair should be able to show up as themselves. People who are using equipment that isn't the latest macbook or ipad pro or yeti microphone or dslr camera are still just as qualified as those who do have access to that kind of equipment.
Sure, there are nuances and every situation is different. But just keep that in mind the next time you keep yourself from being visible, or you start to judge what someone else has to offer by what know they have access to.
Tips for Showing Up As Your Authentic Self Online
So to sum things up today, I have six tips:
- Go ahead and break some rules. It will set you apart from your competition simply because you're not replicating the same process from the same guru that everyone else is replicating in your industry.
- Dress how you want to dress. Dress however you feel most comfortable, that will allow you to freely speak your message and convey the message you want your ideal clients to hear. Be a living, breathing example of what's possible for them.
- Lean into your personality. Be more you instead of more like them. It will show that you get what your people are thinking about and struggling with.
- Remember that you have the freedom to make decisions however you want. You have the right to your own opinion. You get to say what's possible for you and what isn't. I know that if you're in some kind of partnership then investing might involve someone else's approval, but you should still trust yourself.
- Ask yourself what brings you joy. Just answer honestly. And then afterward, ask yourself how you can use whatever-you-said and infuse it into the way you run your business.
- Be willing to learn. I spent a good portion of my early years as a technical virtual assistant doing the things I hate seeing people do, now. The embarrassing fake, open mouth photos. The over edited headshot with me crossing my arms and trying to look powerful. The stock photos with mac books that I have never owned. I've done it, and it's a process and a learning opportunity. But I think one of the greatest parts of entrepreneurship is how much you grow through the process. It's definitely not just about the external things like income and expenses and follower count and email list growth. A lot of special, transformational things will happen to you as you continue to dedicate your time and money to your business. So embrace that journey and don't give up.
As always, I'm rooting for you. If you would like to get in contact with me, feel free to reach out at https://rochellesanchez.com/contactme/ . I do have a limited number of scholarship-based strategy calls available so if you can't afford my regular fees, just ask and I probably have a scholarship spot to offer you.
Again, rooting for you, and I'm grateful you took the time to listen today. Until next time! Bye!