ONE OF THE HARDEST ASPECTS OF BEING A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR IS MANAGING IT ALL--the house, the kids, the job, and all the details that go with each of those. Which can be a little more than overwhelming, am I right?
Sometimes, you need a little pick-me-up, a helping hand, a shortcut to give you a little extra time.
Lucky for you, I'm going to share my newest secret tool to managing the madness. This amazing tool is the Sam's Club App and Club Pick-Up.
Who hasn't skipped the trip to the store because you just didn't have the time?
And then Sunday night rolls around; you're making school lunches and realize that you're out of bread. You run to the store and grab bread--but just bread because you're in a hurry--so much to do. Or you're in the shower and you pump the shampoo to find that it's all gone? Or your child was yells from the bathroom that they ran out of toilet paper, and you can't find a spare roll--so you grab a wad of kleenex or some other (hopefully) flushable material you can find?
Been there. And all because I felt like I just couldn't manage to fit in a trip to the store.
But wait! There's a solution.
I am telling you, once I found out about this, it was a palm slap to the forehead moment--how did I not know about this?!? And why was I not using it?
HERE IS HOW IT WORKS /
- You have to be a Sam's Club Member. You can get a membership for less than $50 and get a $20 gift card PLUS $20 in instant savings coupons HERE. And even better, you can do it all online and pick up your card when you pick up your order.
- Use the Sam's Club app or go to Sam's Club.com to shop. You can get everything that's in your local store: produce, meat, candy, toothpaste, milk, toilet paper, etc... Literally, EVERYTHING! What's great about the app is that you can do this in the carpool line or while you're waiting for an appointment--anywhere!
- At check out, you select the day and time you want to pick up your items.
- Pay online, of course.
- Head to the local Sam's Club you chose, go to the guest services desk and let them know you're there for a Club Pick-Up order.
- THIS IS THE BEST PART! A cart full of all of your merchandise is rolled out to you, ready to go! You don't have to go anywhere else in the store, you don't have to wait in the check-out line and you don't have to get out your wallet!
Did I mention Club Pick-Up is free?!
So....would you rather start with your cart empty or full?
Once you roll out with your cart full of groceries and other household necessities, all you have to do is load it up and head back home--all restocked and ready to go!
This literally saved me at least an hour (45 minutes if I was running with the cart through the store). Who couldn't use an extra hour in their day?
As someone who often shops in bulk, this is an ideal solution for me to keep on top of my household needs (you can add items to your cart through the app at any time) and save myself the time and frustration or running through the store.
My time is better spent with my family, working on Belong or maybe even taking a little "me" time (mani/pedi anyone?).
Club Pick-Up is just the pick-me-up I need to help me feel like I have some semblance of control over my crazy days!
No more dry cereal mornings because you ran out of milk, no more ordering pizza because you don't have anything to make for dinner, and no more excuses for not making it to the store because the idea of pushing that cart through the crowded isles sounds like hell to you. You got this!
Thanks to our friends at Sam's Club for sponsoring this post!
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This special issue is over 100, heavy, satin-finished pages filled with business tips, inspiration and resources.
Don't worry, you don't have to be a wedding/event professional or bride to enjoy this issue. There is plenty of applicable material for all female creatives and entrepreneurs on the pages.
CREATING A CULTURE THAT CELEBRATES / Bailey T. Hurley
COMMON CONTRACT MYTHS THAT COULD SINK YOUR WEDDING BUSINESS / Christina Scalera
WHY STREAMLINING AND AUTOMATION ARE MORE THAN JUST BUZZ WORDS IN YOUR CREATIVE BUSINESS / Cristina Barragan, The Posh Peony
USING INSTAGRAM TO MARKET YOUR WORK AND GET NEW CLIENTS / Jordan Brittley
10 QUICK TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PARTY SHINE / Holly Becker, Decor8, and Leslie Shewring, Creativemint
HERE COMES THE BRIDE: NOW HOW DO YOU GET HER TO STOP AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOU? / Alyssa Gordon
TOP 3 TIPS FOR WEDDING DESIGNERS / Keneshia Raymond, Blissful Creatives
SEO FOR WEDDING PROFESSIONALS / Feuza Reis
HOW PODCASTING CAN UPLEVEL YOUR WEDDING BUSINESS / Kinsey Roberts, She Creates Business
7 THINGS EVERY VENUE MUST HAVE / Liselle Chisenhale-Marsh
DON'T FORGET THE DETAILS | WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY / Emily Caulfield
6 WAYS TO CURATE WEDDING DAY DESIGN / Eliana Baucicault, EllyB Events
5 TIPS TO CREATE STUNNING WEDDING FLORALS WITH EASE / Julie Abrera, Beaumont House Design
CREATING A MEMORABLE CELEBRATION / Darcy Miller
THE ART OF CELEBRATIONS | PERFECTING THE PARTY / Courtney Whitmore
THE ART OF INVITATIONS / Dionne Christiansen
SHAKING IT UP / Joni Whitworth, Mint + Mirth
PHOTO GALLERY INSPIRATION /
- Jordan Brittley
- Feuza Reis
- Sarah Atkinson
- Keneshia Raymond
- Noreen Nooner
WEEKEND RETREAT / Jordan Brittley
OH SO INSPIRED RETREAT /
CAMP WED / Carrie Anton
RESOURCE GUIDE /
HAND LETTERED QUOTE / Sarah Barrett, Sarah B Calligraphy
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GUEST POST BY THERESA HUTCH
Since the election of 2017, I have struggled to get out of bed in the morning. As the realization that the new leader of our country started to sink in, I knew I needed to find a way to push back against fear mongering and misogyny. While I felt overwhelmed and full of anxiety about the future, I also wondered, “What am I bringing to the table? As an artist, what can I do?"
These questions inspired me to set a goal to make a new painting every day for the year.
Subversive Joy 2017 was born. To be subversive is to push against the grain, to act in a way that isn’t expected. The focus of these works are the small joys in my daily life. It has been incredible to share them with people from around the world through social media.
As I build this body of work, I’ve had several inquiries from people who would like to do the same. I suggest it is best to find a favorite medium. Creativity can be found in cooking or singing or sketching in a journal. My medium of choice is painting. It has always been in my heart - a kind of voice that helps me translate my experience of the world. Although I’ve known this as a small child it took me a long time to embrace it as an integral part of my life.
The key to tapping into the peripheral magic subversive joy is to focus on quantity over quality.
Quality is, of course, a good thing. However, when I focused on quality, my sketch journals remained empty, and canvases sat quietly in the corner waiting for me to be ready. It’s a good reminder that the time is now to get out there and create.
4 Tips to Get Your Creative Practice off the Ground:
1. FOCUS ON THINGS FROM EVERYDAY LIFE - It is difficult to notice things right in front of our noses, but once you do, the results are astounding.
2. INVEST IN A FEW QUALITY MATERIALS - I use Schmincke watercolors (one set has lasted over a year of daily use) and a few small brushes from my local art store.
3. K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID) - Rather than painting on small canvases, I use small (coaster-sized watercolor pieces for the foundation of my designs.
4. SET UP YOUR GOALS AND SHARE YOUR WORK (online and in-person) - this is most important! Having a community of people who look forward to your weekly or daily dose will help hold you accountable and make your experience truly rewarding!
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WHAT IS A LOGO ANYWAYS?
REMEMBER, YOUR LOGO IS NOT YOUR BRAND.
Your logo is a representation and first impression your brand.
You’re going to want to pull out your inspiration board and your brand board for the task of selecting and creating a logo. If you missed the posts on how to establish your brand and create a brand board, go here. If you’re looking for a quick way to create a brand board, find my quick, non-designer tutorial here.
Logos are funny things. Sometimes, the simplest logos have the most impact. Think of Nike (swoosh) and Target (bullseye). Depending on what you want to communicate about your brand, this may prove to be very useful advice.
Some logos are the company name and nothing else. With the right font and color, this may be exactly what a brand needs. This is something you’ll need to consider for your brand.
choices, choices, choices /
Whether you have a designer create it or you do it yourself, it’s always a good idea to put together a few variations to choose from.
Generally, the choies all stem from one main idea, but they take a slightly different shape or form. And you might even have variations of your final logo. Look at what we have for Belong:
KEEP IT SIMPLE /
The more you have going on in your logo, the more confused a potential client/customer will be. Flourishes might seem fancy and nice, but they are very distracting and can start to look messy.
BLACK + WHITE /
Keep in mind that, at some point, your logo is most likely going to need to be used in a black and white form. Be sure that it can easily be translated into black and white without losing its essence.
CONSIDER YOUR CLIENT OR CUSTOMER /
Keep your new imaginary biz BFF in mind—what would he/she like? (did you miss my imaginary BFF post? Read it here.) Try to put yourself in his/her shoes and evaluate what the response would be and if that is truly what you want?
I love it when people post potential logos in facebook biz groups. It’s such a great way to offer concrete and helpful advice. Just remember to BE NICE! If you aren’t part of a facebook group like this, feel free to join The Belong Collective. OR, you could ask family, friends or potential customers as well.
my favorite logos and why I like them /
BP / I have always loved this logo. The color, the shape and the overall look--it's precise and pretty.
SCHOOLHOUSE ELECTRIC / This is perfectly representative of the company--clean, basic with a flair of retro in that swirly icon image.
SQUARESPACE / I love the way they play on the "S" shapes to sort of make a square at an angle. The basic font is representative of the platform and how it functions.
WHITESPACE MAGAZINE / This one literally speaks for itself! The way the "W" is missing lines is directly related to the name. And the light color is breathable.
What are some of your favorite logos? Or, maybe share your logo. Need advice? Ask in our facebook group, The Belong Collective.
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I'm a paper girl--books, magazines, notes, etc... Especially pretty ones. Like the newly released Brand Brilliance. I've been so excited about the release of this book as the author, Fiona, The Brand Stylist, has been a contributor to our magazine--her workshop Color for Creatives was featured in ISSSUE 05. If you've seen the piece, then you'll know the images are gorgeous. This lady has got style and class. And this book is nothing less. Plus it is packed full of Fiona's branding expertise.
I have been watching this book unfold on instagram--Fiona has shared sneak peeks along the way--so I was delighted at the opportunity to preview the book. It did not disappoint. It's over 200 pages of beautifully laid out images and wisdom on branding ideal for women, just like us!
We all know that branding is everything.
This book is ideal for the beginner or need seasoned entrepreneur that could use a little refresh.
Part one of the book covers brand clarity followed by the second part which is all about brand brilliance. Brand clarity explains the philosophy behind branding, demonstrates how to put together your brand strategy, and assists you identifying your brand identity. Brand brilliance dives into marketing, websites, communications and more. All of this information is intermixed with examples and beautiful photographs that will leave you motivated and inspired. You'll want to get busy right away using the techniques that Fiona demonstrates and building them into your business.
Beautifully thought out and well executed, Brand Brilliance is a book that you'll enjoy looking at while you learn how to elevate your brand.
MEET FIONA /
Fiona Humberstone is the bestselling author How to Style your Brand and Brand Brilliance. An exacting Creative Director and commercially minded Brand Consultant, who works with smart entrepreneurs, bringing clarity and vision to every project she works on.
Fiona has spent fifteen years working with businesses: styling brands, creating websites and running workshops. She has owned, grown, sold and run franchises as well as founding, building and selling her own company. She have a knack for capturing the essence of a business, finding clarity in a contradictory brief and translating commercial goals into visual assets. She is a creative thinker, an innovative marketer and a tribe builder.
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GUEST POST BY EMILY CRETELLA
“So, would you like my two weeks notice now, or should I put it in writing?”
And with those words, I began my journey as an entrepreneur.
At the time, I was working as the Director of Strategy for a marketing agency, pulling four long, stress-heavy days in the office and one from home each week, trying to balance my ambition with my role as mama to a baby girl who was about to turn 1.
AND I WAS FALTERING.
So when my agency bosses scheduled an HR meeting for the first thing on a Friday morning, I knew what was up.
“I know they’re going to tell me I can’t work from home one day anymore!” I cried to my husband the night before the meeting. “I just know it!” I could not fathom spending one more minute away from my little girl. The guilt was already so heavy.
As my poor husband tried and failed to calm me down, I added: “And I think I’m pregnant!”
Fast-forward a few hours and not one but two stops to the local drugstore to test the merits of various pregnancy tests, and it was confirmed: I was pregnant.
I had a one year old. A brand new house. And no clue what to do.
The next morning, my other hunch was confirmed: office policies were changing. No more working from home. In the meeting, I nodded, smiled. And then, with early pregnancy, mama- bear hormones raging …
Looking back at that moment now, it seems inevitable, and serendipitous, and sound. But at the time, it was terrifying. When you’re in a moment, there is no gift of hindsight. No relief of reflection. There’s just the overwhelming presence of now. And you either have to live in it, or run from it.
So, scary as it was, I jumped in.
When I first started my entrepreneurship free fall, there was no way I could have dreamed up the business(es) I have today. Instead, I dreamed up what I wanted to be. Who I wanted to help. How I wanted to spend my time.
So if you, like me, find yourself accidentally thrust into entrepreneurship -- or if you, like me, had not thought about business ownership as a possibility until it was your only one -- don’t panic.
YOU DON'T NEED TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. You don’t need to know what that business will look like in five years, or one year, or even six months. You just need to start moving in a direction that feels right at the moment. And you can do that by asking yourself these three questions:
1 / what am I good at?
Even if you are working a corporate job right now, you have business skills that can transfer into creative entrepreneurship.
Think about any praise you get in your current job. What about you makes your clients and coworkers rave? What would they tell someone else about your work? Make a list of all of the services and tactics at which you excel.
2 / what do I love to do?
When I first started my business, I made the mistake of offering every single service I could offer. But just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. It took me years to focus my services on exactly what I actually wanted to spend my days doing.
So after you write down all of the things you’re really good at, circle the things you would want to fill your days with. Be selective. You can always add to this list later. Offering additional services or products is usually easier than taking them away.
3 / what do my clients or customers need?
One thing that has never failed me during this journey is putting my audience first.
Understanding their challenges and hesitations, and knowing how my skills can help ease those pains has transformed my business into its current state.
Look at your narrowed-down list and see if the things you love to do align with the things your audience needs. If not, you may have to expand it to include some of your good-at tasks, or you may have to rethink the audience you will target.
Understanding those three things about yourself and the people you will serve will begin to weave the fibers of a safety net that will keep your business buoyed as you build it.
Today, years after that infamous HR meeting, I can reflect on my fall into entrepreneurship and see the other pieces of my safety net in place: my years of hard work, my supportive husband and family, my drive to succeed, my desire to show my daughters an alternate path to leadership.
It all came together and allowed me to build a business that I love that fits in the spaces left by nap time and school drop-off and sports sidelines. I have been able to pursue my deep-rooted passions, while slowly reshaping my personal definition of success. I have accepted more deeply that creativity and self-expression and success matter to me -- not in spite of motherhood, but because of it.
It took a leap to make it happen, but in the end that free fall was just as important as the jump.
Emily Cretella is a content marketing strategist, copywriter and the founder of MotherHustle.com, a publication that empowers creative mompreneurs to define their success and explore personal fulfillment in motherhood and business (relaunch coming June 2017!). She loves being mom to her two little ladies and drinking obscene amounts of coffee from mugs with pithy sayings.
Read her business writing at cursivecontent.com.
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Now that you’ve got an idea of what a brand is and you’ve created an inspiration board, chosen your colors and selected your fonts, it’s time to put all of this information in one place for safe keeping. Remember “trapper keepers”? Please tell me some of you are young enough to remember those. Same idea. Think of it as a brand trapper.
types of brand organization /
BINDER / There are individuals who keep a physical binder of their brand information—from color numbers to fonts and images and beyond—all printed out and pretty. This is great for you, but is very hard to share with others especially in our virtual world. And I’m guessing you wouldn’t be willing to hand it over to someone after all the time you spend putting it together. If you do use a “paper” method, you may need to have a digital version as well.
BOARD / There are some who prefer to just have a brand board—similar to an inspiration board, but with only the items that are directly on point with your brand.
This serves as an “at-a-glance” big picture of what you want your brand to look like.
You can then use it as a guide to see if what you’re producing, posting, etc… is on point with your brand quickly. This could be digital or physical. (I really love referring to my digital brand board above and use it to provide others a feel for the Belong brand as well. You can learn how I, as a non-designer, created it in just minutes.)
KIT / Create a digital brand kit that resembles a digital media kit. It’s much more formal way of doing it, but for those who like things clean and precise, this might be the best option.
stay on point /
However, you want to do it, DO IT! Be sure that you keep all of your brand information somewhere that you can access it often as you’d be amazed at how off target you can get in a short period of time. It’s essential to have that baseline established so you have something with which to compare all future efforts with regards to your brand.
share it /
If you’re ever working with someone on a project for your business—whether a designer or consultant or even a VA--you can provide this information to them and it will be invaluable both in expediting the process or explaining your brand but in also demonstrating it. It can be hard to verbally describe a brand at times, and this serves as a short cut to the heart of it all.
I’d love to hear other ways that you find helpful in keeping your brand information together as well as staying on point with your brand. Tell me your tricks in the comments below.
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GUEST POST BY MARY GODIER
Let’s be honest.
Deciding to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur, whether as a full-time job, or as a freelancer, to start, is absolutely terrifying.
I’m talking occasionally paralyzing fear. All you can see is the countless ways that this dream of yours might fail. The possible embarrassment, the judgment of others, the financial implications; there are so many reasons we come up with to keep us from following our hearts. Admittedly, I still fall victim to being my biggest critic and naysayer. I’m lucky to have a husband who believes in me, almost to a fault, but still, the fear creeps in.
Through this journey, I’ve discovered a two-fold piece of advice that creatives must keep in mind when delving into these pursuits.
community is crucial /
As I have allowed myself to open up more about my dreams and creative endeavors, I began to find confidence in them by surrounding myself with amazingly talented entrepreneurs; mostly women and many in the same creative field as I am.
Now, that initially seems a bit counter-intuitive to most; “aren’t these business owners, and in particular, these women, supposed to be my competition?” Well, in some cases, yes, but that’s what many misunderstand as they make the shift to entrepreneurialism.
Competition doesn’t have to be bad, and it doesn’t have to make an enemy out of the amazing stylist (or artist, or florist) whose creative endeavors you covet on the regular.
In fact, these people, in my experience, are often a wonderful resource, if for nothing more than for moral and emotional support, because, they’ve been there. That’s right, these women drowning in sponsored posts and big brand collaborations were once struggling to find their way.
People aren’t born a success story; they just aren’t, they have to work for it, just like we are right now. These people can be great for bouncing ideas off of, asking for advice on business practices, or just venting to about your struggles and frustrations. Unless they’re super-humans, they’ve experienced these issues too, which if nothing else, is a comforting reminder to those of us in the beginning states of the creative hustle.
sense of self is key /
Now, this can’t be where you get all of your confidence from. While, in my opinion, community is necessary, ultimately, it’s all about you. I find myself, almost daily, having to remind myself that my perspective on creative projects is unique and special and that I have something to offer the creative community that doesn’t already exist.
No matter how many friends or family members might try to instill this confidence in me, it’s something I have to hone in on from within, in order to keep myself from slipping into someone else’s view of my own success. Sometimes, even my most supportive creative friends and colleagues aide in my falling into the comparison trap by making suggestions about my work.
While I know they mean only the best for me, a certain level of self-confidence in who I am, what I’m good at and how I want to spend my time is crucial. Friends who suggest I try wedding photography do so because they want me to find more success; however, I don’t have an interest in the wedding business at this time, and that’s okay.
It’s okay to stay true to what you love and have an understanding of what you’re good at, and own it.
AND YES, SOME DAYS THAT WILL FEEL IMPOSSIBLE.
You’ll think, “How can I possibly create something cooler (or more interesting, or more beautiful, or more lucrative, etc) than they did?” or “How can I possibly expect to be successful with so many other amazing creatives in this field?” You’ll compare yourself endlessly and mercilessly to others and their success. The only advice I have to offer on those days is to accept the feeling, and then let it go.
Seriously, sing Frozen if you have to.
Don’t hold on to those comparisons, because the fact of the matter is, as an amazing creative maven once said to me, “You are an expert in yourself.” Above all else, you have to take ownership, and accept your own unique, creative genius. Once you decide that your view has value, serious value, that’s when you’ll find the confidence to continue putting in the work everyday, towards realizing your dreams.
BECAUSE DON'T FORGET: YOU ARE STRAIGHT UP MAGIC.
Mary Godier is the voice behind Mary Elizabeth Creative, through which she provides creative consulting and services in the fields of photography, event planning, brand strategy and digital marketing. Her goal is to help companies and entrepreneurs hone in on their brand voice and to help bolster the creative community by strengthening the connections throughout it. Mary spends her free time drawing, writing, eating at new restaurants, or strolling through D.C. with her husband (usually while trying to pet other people’s dogs, because she just can’t help herself).
Website | Instagram: @itsmaryelizabeth
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GUEST POST BY ERIN
The dream that gets sold with entrepreneurship is usually one that includes quitting your desk job to be able to spend your days working in your Lululemon’s, while simultaneously traveling the world and living out of swanky Airbnb’s.
There’s nothing wrong with this dream--in fact, I think it’s a great aspiration to have. But I ask myself, how realistic is this story that’s being sold to us? How many of us are actually living this reality in our businesses...and how many of us even want to?
Entrepreneurship is not a one-size-fits-all process and I think it's important that we talk about the nuances that come with it.
There's nothing wrong with working a job, especially if you love it, while you're growing your business.
However, many seem to think that quitting your job is the ultimate sign of success as an entrepreneur.
I know for me personally, I felt so much shame about having a job when I first started coaching. I thought that I must be a failure or that I wasn’t a real entrepreneur because I had a steady gig that I not only enjoyed but that I had no plans to abandon.
If this sounds like you, I’d like to take a moment to tell you that you’re not alone. In fact, I think it’s adorable to be pulling double shifts, rather than leaving a stable job behind that helps you to have the financial capacity to be an entrepreneur. Having to stress about how you’re going to pay your bills or feed your kids takes a lot of the joy away from running a business.
forget about balance /
In my experience of doing both business and work, balance isn’t really possible. Sure, it’s always great to strive for equilibrium, but often I think these efforts are wasted.
Rather than trying to even the scales, we should be trying to take some weight off of them or integrate the two sides together.
As women, we often take on more responsibilities than we can handle, because we are afraid of saying no.
I AM TELLING YOU RIGHT NOW, YOU NEED TO START SAYING NO.
SAYING NO TO OTHER PEOPLE IS A WAY OF SAYING 'YES' TO YOU.
If an opportunity, event, or engagement doesn’t light you up, don’t participate. Why spend your time doing something out of obligation, when you could spend your time doing something that you love?
find ways to integrate your efforts /
With that also comes integration- figuring out how you can combine efforts in your business and work will help you, tremendously. For instance, maybe there’s a conference you can go to where you can network and learn things that apply to both your business and your job. You could tell your colleagues about your side hustle and bring them into your other networks.
Perhaps you can participate in a personal development project that will allow you to also develop new skills that you can bring into your entrepreneurship. Or, you can even start as simple as answering business emails during your lunch break at work.
Find ways to integrate, so you can spend the same amount of time getting more done.
practice the art of delegation /
There are probably a lot of activities in your work and your business that you could use help with and it’s time to ask for it!
Instead of doing everything by yourself and trying to be a one-woman show, figure out the tasks that you can get assistance with. Need help scheduling your appointments? Hire a VA for a couple of hours a week to organize your schedule. Not sure how to create a graphic? Ask someone in the tech department of your office if they can give you a quick tutorial. Don’t have time to take your kids to soccer practice? Ask a family member for extra help.
Delegating is not something we are taught to do as our culture values independence. But as the old saying goes, it takes a village. The sooner we all realize this, the less stressed we will be.
practice the art of self-care /
It’s also important to take care of yourself to avoid the inevitable potential of burnout that comes from taking on more than full load.
I recommend setting aside one day per week where you don’t do any work activities, to give yourself a mental break. Constantly being on social media, checking emails, or getting on calls can wear on your nerves, so it’s beneficial to have some time away completely to recharge.
Plus, you can set aside any personal tasks like doctors appointments, car washes, bill payments, or dinners with friends, for this day, without having to figure out how you’re going to fit it in between everything else.
When you need a day or evening of rest, take it. Listen to your body and make sure that you’re consistently engaging in healthy behaviors, to stay on your A-game. This means making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, meditating, journaling, or doing any other activities that contribute to your overall health and wellbeing.
One of the biggest perks of running an online business is that you can work from anywhere, anytime.
It’s time we make our businesses work for us, rather than working for our businesses.
Erin is an Intuitive Coach for those who are burnt-out, overachievers that are ready to come home to their true desires and say goodbye to conventional, uninspired ways of living. She serves those who want to create powerful change in their lives, but need support in busting through their blocks and blazing through the unpaved trails of their subconscious. Erin has been featured in a variety of publications as both a writer and intuitive expert, including Ravishly, Sivanna East, Bustle, Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Belong Magazine, Role/Reboot, and more.
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I have always been a lover of type and found the process of selecting fonts for Belong to be a really fun process. As a non-designer, I have a few words of advice about the whole language of fonts.
the language of fonts /
Did you know that they speak a language all their own? Who knew?! See the fonts below and tell me what you think they are saying.
AM I RIGHT?!
Fonts really do speak on a whole different level from the words they are representing and should be considered thoughtfully. Think about when someone uses ALL CAPS—it makes people feel like they are being yelled at. Or when you get a wedding invitation with beautiful, flourished script, you feel like it’s something formal and special.
Go back to your inspiration board (if you missed that post, read it here) and see what types of fonts you see. Are they bold or light? Are they serif or sans serif (serif are the the fonts with the little do-hickies on the ends of the letters such as times new roman; sans serif are without the little do-hickies such as ariel and helvetica)? Are they simple or fancy? Keep those fonts in mind when you look for your brand’s signature font(s).
how many /
You found a font, or two, or three…how many should you actually use in your branding?! You should really stick to two fonts—generally one serif (with the extra lines at the ends of the letters—think times new roman) and one sans serif (no extra lines, think Helvetica and arial). Don’t forget that you can also use the bold and italicized versions of these fonts as well—they don’t count as additional fonts.
Are you using a fancy, handwritten font? You’ll have judge for yourself and maybe get a couple of others to weigh in on if your brand can handle THREE fonts if you are only using the fancy font occasionally.
Is your font part of your logo? Maybe it IS your logo. Consider legibility and application. If there are very narrow lines in letters such as L and T, they will not be visible from a distance. If there are thick lines, they might blur together, such as a and e resembling o. And some fonts are just really difficult to read—they are too script or funky! Think about where the font will appear—in your logo, blog, newsletter, business cards, etc… to determine if it’s the right one for the job.
You want to stay consistent with your fonts across the board. It is a small thing, but can have a huge impact on the message your brand is speaking.
Does your brand have a signature font? I'd love to hear what it is! Leave me a note in the comments.
want more small biz and branding advice? click below!
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GUEST POST BY NICKI PATEL
It came quicker than I could accept it. I was holding back in fear of change, longing the sweet and cozy presence of home and the routine and consistency of everyday life. I was wanting everything to stay the same.
The presence of love, comfort, and family kept me from moving forward.
But it was time to leave, whether I had accepted it or not.
IT WASN'T A CHOICE, IT WAS A DECISION FOR MY FUTURE. I WAS GOING TO DO IT FOR MYSELF.
As I headed off to college, I came to learn that this small town girl was not ready for the 40-acres of campus, the 18,000 plus students, and the 500+ student filled classrooms. It was loud, chaotic, and overwhelming. I had built up a fear that I couldn’t control. It was the feeling of not knowing a soul, the fear of being judged, and the fear of not being accepted. It made it hard to adjust to the new life and journey ahead. I longed for weekends to go home to my safe haven, away from the chaos. I would cry every Sunday as I left behind the love and comfort that I craved in the “other” world.
I separated myself away from everyone in this “other” world just to protect myself. I did as I needed to work towards my goal of building the foundation for my future. I worked hard, I kept quiet, and freshman year seemed like it would never end. As summer approached, I was overjoyed by the thought of finally returning home, and then fall semester of sophomore year seemed to repeat the year before, as did junior year. I started to get used to the routine of living in two worlds – one balanced by love, comfort, and acceptance, and one where I felt lost, overprotective, and quiet. I didn’t understand why this was, and every time I questioned myself, I would just push it aside; convincing myself this was just the process.
As senior year arrived, I was awaiting the final time I would feel that grim pain of leaving once again, but this time it came a little easier knowing it was the last. I was happy and proud that I had made it this far, but to my surprise I was quickly reminded of the unsettling world of reality.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in my final spring semester.
Everything seemed to halt and both of my worlds collided into a world of fury, frustration, and confusion.
I didn’t understand how the world of love and compassion had joined with the one of chaos and pain. I felt lost, hurt, and helpless as I took my mom to her first few months of radiation. I fell behind and had to extend the rollercoaster journey I had dreaded once again.
But it seemed even through the chaos as both worlds merged, God had a plan. I had forgotten that everything came into our life with purpose with the extreme lows of the previous few months. Faith brought into my life a light of hope, a person, the one I was needing the past 4 years. This person helped me build up my courage, my bravery, overcome my fear of judgement, and move past towards acceptance (or not) – it really didn’t matter anymore.
Faith brought this person into my life for a purpose and I didn’t know it at the time, but it helped me overcome some of the things that had held me back from being me since I was a child.
I was able to live, share, enjoy, and be without limits. I felt free in my own skin and being. It was hard at first, but she made it easy for me. I was able to bring that same courage to my mom, and get through one of the toughest battles in my life – helplessness for those I loved so near and dear. She made me feel alive, and I realized I wasn’t a child anymore; I was 22 and I shouldn’t live in fear. She helped me grow, understand, and most of all, live with no regrets.
Although she and I have evolved, grown, and live different lives half way across the country, I know that she came with reason, will always be present for a purpose, and has forever left a mark on my journey. She may never know it, but she saved me from myself. She reminded me to not lose faith in myself, not fear the judgement of the world, and kept me driven to share who I was with the world. It didn’t matter if the world accepted me or not, it mattered that I accepted myself. I begin to love the person I was and as I moved each step closer to being me, I felt even more empowered.
Everyone has a journey, purpose, and destiny.
I feed off my faith in every moment, but in those moments when I had almost lost it, it was brought forth in front of me. This has only made me stronger--stronger in faith and purpose. It continues to help me grow and evolve. As I work towards living a life full of purpose, I look back at a very important slogan that will always be embedded within me:
WHAT STARTS HERE CHANGES THE WORLD.
I see that life isn’t about the world changing us, it is what starts within us that changes the world--no matter how large or small.
It is with our patience, grace, faith, and understanding we see these things come to life. I know I have and I hope I can help others find this too.
DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL, BITS OF WISDOM TO IMPART OR BUSINESS ADVICE TO SHARE WITH OTHER WOMEN JUST LIKE YOU?
Nicki Patel is the founder of milo+nicki, an ethically-designed, sustainable womenswear line designed to empower the ever-evolving woman through the vibrant colors of her culture, traditions, and life experiences. milo+nicki advocates for gender equality, sustainable living and animal rights through conscious, cruelty-free design and manufacturing in the USA. Nicki is also a personal stylist and an avid runner. Find the debut of her first collection via pre-sales on Kickstarter now bit.ly/weareunstoppable.
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TODAY IS ALL ABOUT THE IMPERFECT BOSS...AND SO SO MUCH MORE. LET'S START WITH THE BASICS AS PROVIDED BY ASHLEY WHO IS THE GUSTO BEHIND THIS CAMPAIGN:
BUT, DOESN'T IT FEEL FAIRLY VULNERABLE TO SAY THAT OUT LOUD AND TO EVEN SAY THAT ABOUT YOURSELF?
In our last three campaigns, we've empowered thousands of women entrepreneurs to post confessions about all the things that have made them imperfect. But in our next campaign, happening this May, we're gathering as many of you as possible to post confessions about what makes you awesome.
NOW HERE'S WHY.
So many women, especially those doing creative work, live in this constant inner dialogue of all the ways that we're flawed and not enough, so we're pressing pause on that, to come together as a movement and say, "I am imperfect and I am awesome and here's why."
AND WHY DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Because real women change the world. Real women run powerful businesses. Real women are the standard. And we can prove that you can be amazing and imperfect and totally succeed, fulfill your dreams and make it happen.
You don't need to be perfect. You don't need to be a mess. You just need to be imperfectly you.
you're invited. the only question is, 'are you in?'
Get even more juicy details and resources on The Imperfect Boss website.
I've shared some of my fears, my faults and my imperfections (here and here). Now it's time to share with you some of the good stuff--like what gets me excited and how I'm using my imperfect self to change the world around me. Let me remind you that by making a difference in one person's life, we are changing the world. Ready?!
1. JUST BE ME /
Authenticity. That word gets tossed around a lot these days. And I try to pay special attention to being sure that I am not pretending to be someone else, especially from the marketing perspective. By being me--just me--with all my faults, anxieties, and imperfections, I hope that I am giving you permission to just be you--just you.
How do I do this? I try to keep my voice my own on instagram mainly, but also when on podcasts and in blog posts. I try to share pretty transparently. It's hard to find a balance--I want to appear to be a legit business owner that has it all together but I'm also just flying by the seat of my pants, figuring things out as I go. I don't do the balance thing perfectly by any stretch, but I'm trying and hope you'll try too. Just be you!
2. FAITH OVER FEAR /
I didn't choose a word for the year, I chose a phrase: faith over fear. And not only did I choose the phrase, I actually choose faith over fear. And I choose it again. Every. Single. Day. This whole entrepreneurship gig and magazine publishing business is so out of my comfort zone, wheelhouse--just fill in all the clichés. I happen to be a Jesus-loving girl, so the faith piece is so huge for me. But I think that this can apply all around.
How is this changing the world, you ask? I'm practicing what I preach--I am taking risks even though I'm scared out of my pants! And the product of my risk is Belong Magazine which has become a resource, encouragement and inspiration for female entrepreneurs and bloggers and women in the digital sphere ALL OVER THE WORLD.
I look at this thing, this little inkling of an idea that sparked about two years ago, I see where my faith has taken it, and I'm speechless. The knowledge that this magazine is changing lives is crazy--and I feel so humbled and honored. And, let's be honest, I am so freaking excited and proud!
3. IT'S IN THE DETAILS /
Handwritten notes, ribbons and a little something extra--these are important details to me, and I think they are important details to you too. That's why I try to include them with the magazines I mail--did you know that I personally ship all the magazines purchased online? (I wish there was a way to put the personal touches on the mags through Barnes & Noble, but sadly, there is not--so those of you who purchase from the store will just have to use your imagination.)
These extra things take time--lots of time--and by taking this time, I am trying to convey that you are worthy and that you matter--because you ARE and you DO. It's a physical way to manifest the heart of Belong through the mail.
okay. now it's your turn.
Be brave. Be bold. Tell me how you are changing the world in the comments.
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GUEST POST BY NIA STROTHERS
Being constantly pressured in college to come up with a socially acceptable answer about what your plans are when you graduate is difficult, especially when you want to be an entrepreneur. Pursuing entrepreneurship is risky, maybe even riskier than entering the unstable job market. For me, I am happier accepting the risk of putting everything I have into starting a business than putting the fate of my career in someone else’s hands by applying to hundreds of jobs just hoping I’ll get a few interviews.
Considering what society says you ought to be pursuing, versus what you really want to be doing, and then comparing those motives to reality is one of the most eye opening meditative processes I’ve ever put myself through. I recommend that all young professionals take a moment to take themselves through that thought process.
For a long time, my brain was wired to have career aspirations that represented the norm in our country: find a company to intern for that will offer me a salary job when I graduate, work my way my up at that company, and retire in 30 years. As a millennial, this career model is shifting to make for bouncing around at different companies over the course of your career.
I just could not imagine working for someone else for the rest of my life.
During my senior year of college, I was working an internship that I liked, but I just wasn’t being challenged. Day in and day out, I was doing the same administrative tasks. My dream has always been to work for myself, so I started thinking about skills I had to offer that could generate income. I was really great with social media, I had experience running digital ads, and I was very creative. Finally it came to me; I decided to start a digital marketing company. At that point, I was just halfway through my senior year, so I knew I had about 4 months to get the ball rolling.
Honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better time to kick-start my entrepreneurial dreams.
COLLEGE IS A PRIME TIME TO START A BUSINESS, AND HERE'S WHY:
1. You have access to extremely beneficial resources associated with your college/university.
Most college campuses have Career Centers with a list of alumni contacts. There’s always someone out there who’s already done what you’re doing, so reach out to any alumni who work in areas similar to your interests. They will be able to give you helpful advice.
2. College provides a "safety net."
Whether that be financial, or just the mental security net of knowing you have something to fall back on with your degree when you graduate. I used a student loan to fund my first business. It’s a lot easier to take out a little extra money in student loans than it is to get a loan from a bank. I’m not saying I completely recommend using student loans to fund your businesses. If you have other ways to get money that don’t involve debt, take advantage of those options first.
3. You will have community support, simply because you are a student.
Seasoned professionals love to talk with and support young people pursuing great things. Increase your network of support by attending networking events and take advantage of opportunities to meet new people in your community.
I say this to encourage women in college to take a leap of faith in pursuit of what you are passionate about.
Being in college, you have absolutely nothing to lose; your career isn’t on the line because you haven’t entered the workforce yet. Eliminate any doubt in your mind that things might not work out and get your plan down on paper. Make calculated risks and be confident in your abilities. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, today is the day to make it happen!
DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL? ADVICE TO SHARE? WISDOM TO IMPART?
Nia Strothers is a Senior, Communication major at the College of Charleston. She is a Cosmetologist by trade, specializing in hair extensions and wig making. Nia owns an online hair extension boutique, called Reflections Hair Boutique. She recently founded Social Savvy, a digital marketing company based in Charleston, South Carolina that helps small businesses effective manage their online presence and increase brand awareness. Nia is passionate about entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses. In her spare time, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society as a Look Good Feel Better volunteer, traveling to hospitals in the Charleston area to facilitate beauty classes for ladies undergoing chemotherapy.
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Color is huge when it comes to your branding. I am not a professional designer, but I'm sharing my personal experience as I've navigated this whole brand game.
Remember that in inspiration board you created? (if you missed this post, you can read about it here) We are going to put it to use in creating your brand. And the first way we’re going to do that is by evaluating what color(s) are used most prominently on your board.
How many colors are acceptable? REALLY. Most designers will tell you to choose up to three main colors and no more than three secondary colors. For example, Belong’s main colors are black and white and our secondary colors are bright pink, bright green and bright yellow. (that's a lot of "bright"--maybe I should come up with something a little more creative like flamingo, kelly and sunshine?!)
Some other examples of this are… (all from pinterest).
color theory /
Take those colors and look up (ie google) their meaning—for example, yellow is happy—and ask yourself if that is what you want your business to reflect. If not, you may want to go back and do some revisions on your inspiration board. Keep in mind that colors can mean different things depending on the culture, situation and industry.
Can you feel it?
Here are some examples of brands that are using color to shape their customer's experience. What do you think?
let's get technical /
You've chosen your colors, you know what they mean and how they make people feel. Now, how do you make them a reality--AND CONSISTENT--in all forms of your communication. There are several types of color systems you'll want to know about--for print and on-screen.
CMYK / 4-Color Process Printing: this is referring to the four colors that are combined to make up your chosen color. C=cyan, M=magenta, Y=yellow and K=black. (Files you can use with this process are .eps, .pdf and .tif.)
SPOT COLOR / Pre-Mixed Inks: The Pantone Matching System is a color numbering and swatch system that allows you to match colors exactly while insuring consistency. (Files you can use with this process are .eps and .pdf.)
RGB / Additive Color Mix: these colors are made by mixing various different amounts of Red, Green and Blue light on a screen. Some will not convert accurately to CMYK or Spot Color and literally cannot be printed. (Files you can use with this process are .png, .jpg, .gif, .svg.)
If this sounds like another language to you, don't worry. If you have colors that really stick out to you that you just love and want to replicate, use the Pantone Studio app to help you determine the exact colors for you instead of having to do it yourself. It might even be fun! Or, if you don't want to buy the BIG (expensive!) swatch book(s), you can find some fun alternatives below.
I love seeing the different color schemes that new brands come up with--not only the schemes, but the ways in which they use them to evoke certain emotions or connotations. What are some of your favorite combinations?
Next up on the non-designers guide to branding is all about fonts! Click below to stay in the loop so you don't miss a post!
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GUEST POST BY CHRISTA OF SWEET OLIVIA CELEBRATIONS
We all want our kids (or anyone!) to feel special and celebrated on their birthday. It reminds us of our childhood, all the different birthday cakes we had and the excitement of our friends and family coming to our house to celebrate. Then, we snap back to the present and compare our birthday party vision for our child’s party to our budget, and the record screeches to a stop.
How in the world did our parents afford to have all those birthday parties for us?!
I ask a group of women, “What is the hardest part of party planning for you?” Time and time again, one of the most popular answers is: budgeting. There is never enough money to do all the things you envision for your child’s birthday party. I don’t care if your budget is $200 or $2000, there is going to be something you want to do, but can’t afford.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO THROW YOUR CHILD THAT AMAZING BIRTHDAY PARTY NO MATTER YOUR BUDGET:
know where to shop /
I very rarely shop at a party store for party supplies. Why? Because they know that busy parents will take advantage of that one-stop- shop benefit they offer, so their prices are higher. It might be convenient, but when you’re working with a budget, you might have to sacrifice a little more time shopping. My favorite stores to stretch a party budget are dollar stores, craft stores, and big box stores.
Here is an idea of the things you can buy at each place:
DOLLAR STORES: crafting supplies for games and decor, games, party favors, party plates, utensils, ready-made decorations, wrapping paper, plastic tablecloths, serving trays
CRAFT STORES: crafting supplies for games and décor, home décor items that can be used for party theming, cake making supplies and decorations, candy molds for easy party favors, scrapbook paper for easy décor DIY projects, fabric
BIG BOX STORES (think Walmart or Target): on-trend party décor, party favors, craft supplies, cake from the bakery department, and groceries
rent supplies /
If you don’t have room in your budget to buy the extra tables, chairs, or any extravagant decorations that will be perfect for the party…but you will likely never use again… consider renting these items. You should be able to find a party supply rental company near you with a quick google search. You can rent tables in all shapes and sizes, chairs, arches, centerpieces, linens, plates, etc. You can really customize your supplies to fit your party theme and save up to 75% versus buying the supplies.
You can have an amazing party without decorating your front yard, your porch, the entryway, the living room, and the dining room. Your whole house does not need to be party central! You will get more bang for your buck if you concentrate your party decorations in just one room of the house. I suggest choosing the dining room, so when cake is served and “Happy Birthday” is sung, all the photos of the happy birthday child will include your decorations.
Similarly, don’t go crazy with your party menu. Offer one main dish and a couple snack options. Choose something that is easy to prepare, yet can feed a crowd inexpensively. Some good options include spaghetti, chili, or hotdogs with all the fixings. If you’d rather outsource the cooking, call your local pizzeria or sub restaurant and ask about special pricing for large orders.
limit the guest list /
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to invite your child’s entire classroom to the party. I know…I know…I feel bad when I don’t, too. I never want a child to feel left out. If your child has one or two good friends at school, try to get the parent’s phone numbers so you can invite them without sending invitations to school with your child. You can always reserve the birthday party for family only, but then send cupcakes to school to share with the classroom. (Just remember to coordinate with the teacher on this!)
Those three little letters could be a nightmare for you to think about, but give it a try! If you have a friend that is particularly crafty, invite her over for lunch (and maybe wine) and have a DIY-decoration-making session. Searching Pinterest will give you all the ideas you need for centerpieces, photo frames, dessert tables, and party games.
recoup some funds after the party /
After the party, recoup some of your money spent by selling your party décor. These are just some of the places you can sell them:
Facebook garage sale group for your city
Buy-Sell-Trade apps like OfferUp
Another mom in a local play group
The school PTA
Someone is planning a party and would love to have all their decorations already made for them!
At the end of the day, your child isn’t going to remember how extravagant the party was. He may not even remember what decorations hung on the walls. What he will remember is the way he felt on his birthday—the same feeling we have thinking back and reminiscing on our childhood parties.
Christa has always been a creative in her personal life, but it took her almost 20 years to realize her work should reflect that, also. Through her event planning company, she helps brides-to-be make their wedding unique by infusing their own relationship into the wedding details. And through Sweet Olivia Celebrations, she empowers busy moms to celebrate their loved ones through parties.
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GUEST POST BY RADIANCE
I’ve never been told outright that I’m too young to start my own business, but the message was there. I always got the sense that people didn't really take me seriously— that my ideas were “cute” like a child’s art project, not valid like an adult’s career.
Okay, I’m not saying that parents need to invest in every business idea their twelve-year-old throws out there. But in all seriousness, when I started my first blog in junior high, I think I was on to something.
I’m now a freshman in college, and I must have started and abandoned at least a dozen projects since that first blogging business venture. This try-fail-try again process was the theme of my high school career, but I never quite felt that anything I was doing was actually going to be successful. It’s not that I wasn’t able or equipped to make it happen— rather, it’s that I held myself back. I was too afraid to put myself out there, too afraid of criticism, and so used to not being taken seriously. I would get a brilliant idea, plan it out so perfectly, buy all the materials and make all the things... and then never tell anyone about it.
I failed before I even started.
I followed the social media accounts and subscribed to the email lists of all the best female entrepreneurs out there, but I didn’t think that I could actually be like them. For starters, they had 200k+ followers, which is 200k+ more followers than I had. I wanted to get serious about running a business like they were, but I started to fall into the “maybe you should just wait” trap.
Wait until you’re older.
Wait until you’re smarter.
Wait until you have more followers.
Wait until you know what you’re doing.
I was tired of my projects failing and I thought that maybe I just wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur. After all, I was only 18. All those successful people must have just learned something from some part of their life that I haven’t gotten to yet, right? It was probably better to wait until I was older. I’d have both the age and college credentials under my belt for people to finally take me seriously. Right?
All of those “reasons” for waiting are just excuses. You should never doubt yourself (or let others look down on you) because of your age or Instagram following. Most entrepreneurs will even tell you that you’ll never be “ready”, that you’ll never really know what you’re doing, so there’s no use in waiting.
The truth is that wisdom comes with trial and error and success comes with improvement of skills... things you cannot begin to develop if you won’t even let yourself start your business.
I knew this in my heart, that I could only learn by doing, so I soon abandoned my period of waiting. Like most creatives, I couldn’t stay away from the creative scene for long anyways before my restless heart drug me back in. At the start of 2017, I came back to that first passion I started and let die not too many years ago: my blog.
I must have thought for months before actually letting anything go public. Believe it or not, I was still waiting! Despite my self-promise to just go ahead and go for it, the “waiting” mentality was so pervasive it kept me from being all-in. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t release my blog to the public until it was perfect, or until I had a noticeable style and my skills were up to par with the other blogs out there. That maybe if I released a perfect blog, I’d immediately get the followers and subscribers I needed to make this thing, well, a thing. I went on like this for weeks.
But then I just decided to throw all caution to the wind. I published my blog, and I told everyone about it.
This is what I learned:
1. YOU HAVE TO LET GO OF YOUR FEAR /
I was never really interested in the idea of an office job or a corporate ladder. I was much more attracted to the creative world— I dreamed of developing content and being a social influencer— but that was never presented to me as a valid life path. It was reserved for “those few” who had made it big in the internet world, and it was not okay for me to pursue such an impractical goal. Young people are being convinced that it’s better to go to school for a “real” career and then maybe do that other thing on the side.
Randy Komisar describes this as the most dangerous risk of all, “The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
We know the risk, but we take it anyway because we’re afraid of what will happen to us if we end up not being successful on the “impractical” route. I hear stories every day of women who are dissatisfied with their corporate jobs, yet too afraid to leave them behind.
It’s fear that lets us rationalize this decision to hold ourselves back, and fear that drives this kind of need for security or people-pleasing.
I know that I don’t want that and that you don’t either.
Good news is that we can overcome— first, we have to believe that we are worthy of our dreams and able to achieve them.
Then, it’s absolutely essential that we let go of our fear and step into our potential.
2. YOU HAVE TO START RIGHT NOW, WHEREVER YOU ARE /
Don’t give in to the waiting lie. There is never a day that you will be more “ready” than you are now, and there is never a time that will be more “acceptable” for you to start pursuing your dreams (no matter if you are 12, 22, or 82).
Even if you really feel like you have no idea how to run a business, there is no better way to learn than by doing. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there before you have all the SEO and social media algorithms figured out, or graduate to the status of a professional photographer, or own all the best equipment in your field, etc. But eventually, you have to learn to value the learning process and realize that the only way to build something that your audience responds to is to actually to let them respond as you build. Believe it or not, it has been such a blessing to let my blog grow with my viewers, even if it's not the most put together website out there (yet).
Stop postponing your dreams for a future, “better” situation, and just be present in your journey today.
I promise you, your photography/SEO/marketing/ you name it skills will get better with each and every client, post, or sale.
3. FORGET ABOUT THE NUMBERS /
I know it’s discouraging to see startups with what seems like an infinity larger following than you, but you have to stop chasing those numbers. Instead, focus on your brand: create valuable content for your viewers and build your know/like/trust factor by being authentic from the very beginning.
If you’re genuine and providing value, the right people will come to you!
This kind of slow, organic growth often seems like the opposite of “success” thanks to the overnight billionaires of our day, but you should never underestimate the power of a small base of crazy dedicated fans. The Technium’s 1000 True Fans theory tells us that you don’t need millions, but rather 1000 people that know, like, and trust you so much that they’d buy anything you’re selling. Focusing on finding and attending to these true blue followers is worth much more of your energy than collecting “potential” or “one-time” customers. When we lose sight of this, we start bending over backward trying to bring in anybody and everybody that will click our little blue follow button! Current stats tell us that only 0.02% of followers gained like this will actually be fans that buy our product.
0.02%! So why dedicate your time and energy on expanding your social reach to the ends of the world, collecting people that may never buy your product, when you can focus on just finding and engaging with that 0.02 % from the get go?
Stop treating your fans as mere numbers and start treating them as people that you’re truly thankful for— respond to their comments, go like their pictures and support their projects if they have any. Forget about the big numbers and learn to value (and invest in) your loyal few!
Let go of your fear, give yourself permission to start right now wherever you are, and don’t discount yourself by playing the number game.
You’ve got what it takes, babe, no matter your age or experience level. Don’t let these little stumbling blocks stop you from creating something great!
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Among the most enjoyable tasks of establishing a brand is the creation of the inspiration board. Remember, you're getting the non-designer's advice here, but sometimes that's all you need, right?!
what is an inspiration board? /
Not to be mistaken with a brand board, an inspiration board is a central space where you collect images or items that you might want to incorporate into your brand. A space where you can see “the big picture” visually. This board should include things that inspire you. Things that evoke a feeling that you are attempting to create with your brand.
Think about things that will bring your brand to life in a real, tangible way.
An inspiration board is a place where you’re able to put all of the pretty things that you like and want your business to look and feel like. It’s documenting in pictures. (BONUS: this will help immensely if you are going to work with a designer or strategist or anyone really. It’s like a peek inside your head.)
types of inspiration boards /
Now that you know what one is, you need to figure out what type of inspiration board you are going to create. There are so many ways to go about this task—the more creative and inventive you are, the more ideas you’ll have. I have a whole pinterest board dedicated solely to inspiration boards which is sort of funny as pinterest boards can actually serve as a way to create an inspiration board all in itself. (You can find my pinterest board on inspiration boards here.)
HERE ARE SOME TYPES OF BOARDS TO CONSIDER:
- Pinterest board
- Bulletin board
- Magnet board
- A wall
- The inside of a cabinet door
- Poster board (foam board or presentation board)
- Pegboard panel
- Use your imagination
what do you put on an inspiration board? /
Once you’ve selected what kind of board you are going to create, here are thing to consider including on your board. Keep in mind that some boards allow you to actually include objects and not just images, which is kind of fun (are there a pair of scissors that you love or maybe a fabric swatch that has the right texture?)
- examples font styles
- style (romantic, bold, edgy, casual)
- design and layout
- real life items (fabric swatches and other items that you want to shape your brand)
Don’t be shy! There is no limit to what can go on your board. Let your creative juices run wild and go with your gut. You may be surprised at what you find emerge at the end.
edit your board /
Now that you’ve got it all together in front of you, you can start to see your brand being formed. You’ll see trends in your color choices, font selections, design preferences and more. This is when you can go back and edit the things that don’t quite fit anymore or maybe you don’t like as much as you originally thought you did.
But there is no end to an inspiration board—you can add and subtract from it at any time.
INSPIRATION BOARDS ARE THE DIVING BOARD INTO YOUR BRAND.
We’re going to splash into color next, so don’t out! Stay in the loop to keep updated when new posts are live.
I’d love to see your inspiration board! Comment with a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
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GUEST POST BY LUCINDA BATCHELOR
Working from home is the most rewarding and equally isolating experience.
When you're in the corporate world, a day or two of remote working is a nice change of pace. Once I left the that world to open The Study Room, working from home became the norm and the experience completely changed.