The Road to Becoming a Marketing Professional: Stop 1 Finding My Creative Voice
I like to pretend like I have my shit together. In fact, doesn't everybody - or at least everybody who doesn't actually have their shit together?
I've been working as a marketing professional for two years now. I started out as a part-time intern and worked my way up to E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager (aka inbound marketing bad ass) of my current company. Along the way, I've learned a lot - but I still have a long way to go.
At the time of writing, I'm in the middle of a quarter-life crisis of sorts. The thing is, rather than not really knowing what to do with my personal life, it's more focused on my professional one. In other words, I'm in the process of figuring out what kind of marketer I want to be.
This will be a mini series of blogs where I explore and explain where I'm currently at in finding my way down the road to becoming a marketing professional. My hope is, at the end, I will have a firmer understanding of who I am as a marketer and what I want to offer the world. Feel free to follow along with my journey, and apply any steps to your own.
My Style Declaration
Backstory: A few months ago, while listening to The Busy Creator podcast (one of my favorites), I came upon one about Kathleen Shannon, one of the creative badass women I mentioned in a previous blog. I did some research and found that she has co-founded Braid Creative and runs a podcast called Being Boss, both of which I'm subscribed to and highly recommend for creative entrepreneurs.
I discovered this template designed to "Declare Your Personal Style" at just the right time - when I'm getting ready to figure my shit out. It goes a little like this:
“My work style is ______ [ earthy ] ______ meets ____ [ empathetic ] ______.”
Then elaborate a little more:
“Where you might see this is when I use _______ [ one of your special skills here ] ______, or I share ________ [ one of your behind-the-scenes approaches here ] __________.”
Then make it a little more collaborative, how you get inspired, and then how you in turn inspire or guide your clients:
“I draw inspiration from ____[ what fuels you to do what you do]______________, and I hope I inspire my clients to ______[ what fuels your clients / their results / after working with you________.”
So, as the first step to identifying my creative voice, I'm going to fill this out for myself. See below:
My style is idealistic meets authentic and witty. Where you might see this is when I use dad jokes or odd comparisons in the middle of conversations, or I share information on how I know what I know today. I draw inspiration from content sources (including Medium, Inbound.org), influencers in the marketing industry, and creative bad asses doing awesome things with their life. I hope I inspire people to be the best version of themselves and become a creative bad ass as well.
Re-reading the statement above, I have a pretty good feeling this is going to change as I continue to grow, and it will probably be the same for you. The difference is that mine may change in a month, or a year, whereas your statement may not change for two years.
Now, I'm not going to lie, I needed a little bit of assistance from Dr. Google on this one. I took one look at this and said, "Who the hell even am I??" and then googled a list of adjectives (like this one) and started by writing down words that just felt like me. Of course, I glossed over things like "biodegradable" because...well, that's probably irrelevant.
I ended up with a great list that was about 30-or-so words long. However, I needed to narrow them down to two or three to put into the first sentence of the statement above. I took common themes in the words and put them into groups. In this instance, I jotted down quite a few synonyms for "honest" and "silly." I also identified words that pointed out my sense of dreams, ambitions, and a touch of perfectionism.
In the end, I chose "idealistic," "authentic," and "witty" to define my creative voice. If I had one more space, I would also put some form of optimistic and compassionate, as those were two other themes I noted during this exercise.
Asking the Right Questions
In this quest to find my creative voice, I came across a great article: 10 Questions that will help you find your voice. Well, that sounds about right, doesn't it?
I won't answer all of them on here (mostly for the sake of saving reading time), but here's the top three I found the most interesting, and my answer to them.
1) What gives you hope?
This is a difficult one, and one that honestly isn't thought of often enough.
What gives me hope is imagining myself as a successful writer, sipping (read: gulping) coffee while coming up with my next novel. I imagine sitting in a log cabin somewhere in the middle of one of Washington's national forest. It'd be me, a laptop, a pile of books, and a cup of tea as I uncover the adventures my characters are having on the page.
On a broad scale, what gives me hope is the change my generation (Millennials) is having, and will continue to have, on the world. I hope that we can bring up the next couple of generations with open minds and open hearts. What would be truly amazing is to walk down the street one day without being scared, or to say hello to a neighbor and receive a smile and a "hello" back.
2) As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Okay, don't laugh, but as a child, my number one dream was to become a rockstar. I would line up all my stuffed animals as if they were an audience, blast Hilary Duff on my boombox, and lip sync her songs in my hair brush as if it were a microphone. Then, I learned I can't sing very well.
Once I got to about middle school, I realized I loved to write. I wrote poems, short stories, and never had problems writing essays in school. I was always very imaginative, and applied that to everything I did growing up.
As I got to high school, I started going down the route of becoming a computer technician. I took some computer classes, realized I'm not that good at using that side of my brain, and quickly switched back to writing (something I'm good at).
Now I know how to write, troubleshoot a computer (to an extent), and use my imagination - all while being a total rockstar at it.
3) If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?
If I could do anything I wanted, I would travel the world and write about it. Then, on some weekends, I'd go storm chasing. Because why not?
I've always loved travel, and it would be a dream come true if I was able to travel, live life, and just write about it. Life is worth living to the fullest. The only thing holding me back right now are those dreadful bills. However, maybe one day I'll be able to hole up in Thailand to write about my adventures from the previous day, and then catch a flight to Norway later that afternoon. One day.
My Creative Voice Is...
That's a trick heading. I'm not sure what I expected at the end of this exercise, or whether I expected to have a clear defined answer of what my creative voice sounds like. However, it was an interesting adventure to go on, and I certainly discovered more about myself than I had imagined.
Now I want to hear from you. Take any one of the exercises above and apply it to yourself, then comment with your answer. It's fun, trust me!
Ashley Hoffman is a creative marketing professional who specializes in digital marketing with an emphasis on content marketing. She has experience in the fashion, pet and marketing industries and loves good books, awesome design, and caffeinated hot drinks.
Find her on Twitter: @ashhmarketing