The First Step to Building Your Brand Might Blow Your Mind


I don’t like to offer one-page-and-done copy services. It could be a money-maker for me, but it doesn’t allow for the necessary process of things.

There is a lot of groundwork, a lot of figuring-out that has to happen before putting authentic, effective words on the page. I dive deep with my clients into who they are, who they want to be, who they serve, and why they want to serve them.

That first step is not to be overlooked, but it often trips people up. (It did for me, too!)

They think, Wait--who even am I?

My story:

In high school, I was a social chameleon. I played volleyball, sang in choir, was a total academic-nerd-achiever, and I had no idea where I fit into things. I wasn’t completely a jock, an artsy-fartsy, a bookworm (yet), and I spent less time than everyone else in those things because I was doing ALL of them. I thought my lack of relationships stemmed from who I was rather than my simple lack of presence.

Ultimately, I started changing who I was based on who I was around. I never felt like I fit anywhere, so I tried to fit in all the places.

(Side note: I was GOOD. It’s one of my talents. I’m a people-reader, people-pleaser and can effortlessly conform to situations. It’s taken a while to use this power to SHINE instead of shrink.)

See the problem? By fitting everywhere, I fit nowhere. I lost myself in the process. I didn’t know who I was when that identity wasn’t influenced or dictated by someone else.

When I hit college, and I could reinvent myself AGAIN, I knew something needed to change.

Finally, I decided to INTENTIONALLY figure out who I was, what I loved, and what that meant for my journey.

The search involved processing through words--I started blogging--, lots of coffee--and meeting sweet new friends for coffee dates--, stepping into my strengths instead of trying to cultivate the strengths everyone else had, and of course a whole lot of Jesus.

It honestly is still a work in progress to ensure that who I’m aiming to be is rooted in who God made me, not who God made them (Because it looks cool, and a lot of people seem to like them, and I could do that!)

Even more than wanting to look cool, it was just easier to attribute rejection to the fact that they didn’t know the REAL me. But after I stopped hiding behind that curtain, I stepped into some of the deepest, most rewarding friendships I’d ever experienced.

When I started crafting this business, I was so grateful I didn’t start three years ago. There were so many points in the process that I could have veered toward doing something that everyone else was doing. But, at this point, I knew who I was and I knew what I was pursuing.

You need one before the other, or at least to start the process of finding out! It all starts with noticing what fires you up, as Lara Casey would say. Here is my process for getting that going.

How to notice who you are:

  1. Get it all out first. Write out everything that fills your time, your life, your brain. I know it sounds like a lot, but maybe just try writing out everything you do within a given week, or a given season. Be sure to leave a little room in between things.

  2. Label the things. Now, take each item and imagine holding it in your hands. (Stay with me here, we’re Marie Kondo-ing your life.) Take a look at it and think: Who told you to do that? Why did you keep doing it? Do you enjoy it? Write all of it down next to that thing.  

  3. Highlight the things that BELONG TO YOU. These are the things you do that you feel are moving you toward the person you want to become. If something on your list flashes a big “should” feeling in your mind’s eye, don’t highlight it.

  4. Eliminate what you can. Let’s be realistic. When you’re #adulting you can’t just stop all of the things you don’t want to do. If that were the case, I would just buy new Carly Jean Los Angeles clothes instead of ever doing laundry (#practical). Even so, there are most likely things you’re doing that have been placed there by someone else, and the only reason you keep doing it is to please them. For me, when I was teaching, things like talking to a million people on my conference period was something I felt like I needed to do. I thought if I closed my door, people would think I was mean. Nope, I just had a ton to do. I knew, even if I did talk with them like I should it wouldn’t fully meet their needs because I would be worried about all of my tasks. Instead, I started to close my door in my classroom, then intentionally go out to talk to someone for about 15 minutes. Eliminate what you can to make room for the fun part.

  5. Intentionally try new things. I want you to be ENTIRELY serious about this. Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do, things you would do if you had time, things you never thought you would like, and try them. Do it intentionally, systematically, slowly. Enjoy the process.

  6. Make note of how you feel. There are a few levels to this step, but the main thing I want you to remember is that you’re making note of how YOU feel, not how someone says you should feel, not how someone else makes you feel.

  • Before: How do you feel before doing the thing? Are you stressed about it? Why?

  • During: How do you feel while you’re doing the thing? Is it fun? Is it fulfilling? Why?

  • After: How do you feel after you do the thing? Do you need time to recharge? Are you recharged FROM it? Why?

In order to truly build the life of my dreams, here's what I've learned:

Don’t forget to be a student of what comes naturally to you.

Trust me, it’s not arbitrary. It’s a clue.

God didn’t accidentally trip up, resulting in your absolute aversion to big crowds on a hot day. He didn’t make you an extrovert because he needed to mix it up a bit. God constructed our strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes because he knew exactly how he wanted us to contribute to the Kingdom and experience abundant life.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” -Dolly Parton

You can’t unearth your authentic voice, pinpoint your Guiding Values, or create consistent content to grow your audience if you skip over the first part just because it’s hard.

Action Step:

Start the process today! Braindump #allthethings that are claiming your time-real-estate, then figure out who those things belong to. Choose one to eliminate TODAY!

I would love to hear your process in the comments or tag me over on Instagram (@jessjordana) so I can cheer you on!

Jess, XO



I'm Jess,

iced-coffee-obsessed, saved-by-grace, allergic-to-small talk, and one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet.