Friday, December 31, 2010

Robin: The Flitter and The Flutter

I mentioned over here that my business plan has sparked two great opportunities for me to move deeper into my dream to have a successful creative business.  With every new step of course there is a learning curve and that curve is where many well meaning and talented people quit.  So when I feel the momentum I know I need to move with it because I know that I am no one special when it comes to having the temptation to stop when the new thing seems too difficult to navigate.

So the two big steps I have taken this week is to begin marketing my e-course and setting it up as an affiliate program through e-junkie.  The second step is to begin writing a game plan for submitting my art to greeting card companies.  I am already on hour #4 in setting up this ejunkie program.  And I have the 2011 Writers market guide GLARING AT ME begging to know when it is her turn?  

BUT I am still moving forward.  My energy is still high.  My tenacity is taking over where "oh it's so simple" left off.  Once I can mark these projects as COMPLETE I will float back to my business plan and keep plotting my course.

Alease: Trying to Think More Like a CEO

For the past week I have been watch video series from - How to Fail proof Your Business.  Naomi and Dave are really good at given you honest, no B.S. advice on starting your business.

Of course there is a sales pitch, but not a hard one. Actually you learn a lot from the videos and there's homework assignment after each video lesson. I was able to implement most of their suggestions the same or next day. GREAT Right?

Go ahead and check it out. Good a advice for FREE is worth it.

Here is the link to the first video: How to Fail Proof Your Business: Ep. 1

Talk with you soon,
Alease Michelle

Sonya: A list in reality

a really bad cold = I'm human
a really bad cough = I'm a girl
a really sick brother = I'm a sister
a really horrible anniversary = I'm a daughter
a Holiday call from my son's teacher = I'm a mother
surprise book report/projects --Tuck Everlasting = I'm a teacher
1 copy of Tuck Everlasting delivered = I 'm a member of an active local body of believers
2 copy of Tuck Everlasting delivered = a friend who is always there when I really need him
design computer out for repair = a tool
laptop out for repair = a portable tool
paint drying = I'm an artist

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sonya: Portability

To my surprise, I spent most of the day at a Nashville hospital with my sick brother. Knowing what's on my schedule to accomplish by Tuesday, I thought of Robin. In one of her post she described how she gathered supplies for her Visual Journal before an international flight. After my sister called, to arrange to pick me up for our day trip, I quickly threw most of my journalN supplies in a bag and I was ready. I created this map while waiting, which I will later fill in with the help of Lizzy & Kristin.

When ever I knowingly find myself in a medical waiting area, I always have something to read and something to write on, but this time not only was I reading but I was working on plans for my business and everyone in the hospital wanted to get a sneak peek, but I saved it just for you.

Exhausted, super tired, more determined then ever, because I spent most of the day at a Nashville hospital with my sick brother and that's one of the benefits of  being a Creative Entrepreneur, they even have FREE WI-FI at the hospital. What a life!

Robin: Commitment Brings EXPANSION

In the last 24 hours:

-I got my first student for my E-course
-I got an inquiry for an affiliate program for said e-course
-My web designer picked up a new client (3 this week) which means I am garnering more experience as a project manager

The 24 hours prior:
-I was feeling the effects of the holidays and taking on a seemingly insurmountable task (like writing a business plan in 24 hours!)
-I got word that a Christmas order had not arrived though I had shipped it THREE WEEKS PRIOR
-I was feeling overwhelmed by the weaknesses in my business plan
What does this all mean to me?  With my heart open and my passion strong?  With the flaws exposed and the reality setting in?  I still LOVE THIS THING OF MINE.  LOVE IT AND WANT TO PURSUE IT....

Laura: The Fear of the S.W.O.T. Analysis

Have you heard about the importance of doing a S.W.O.T. (Strengths ~ Weaknesses ~ Opportunities ~ Threats) analysis of your creative business? It’s something that Lisa Sonora Beam covers in her book, The Creative Entrepreneur. I may sound silly, but I was actually a little scared/anxious to do this for my creative businesses (my online marketing/design blog and my handmade jewelry biz).

click to enlarge the long-feared S.W.O.T. analysis

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always like to take a careful look at “Threats” to my creative biz.  Not looking at them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  It was time to take off the blinders and get to my journal to write this all down.

The page below outlines the S.W.O.T. I found for both Strategic Online Marketing (my blog and design biz) and Dreamy Design Works Jewelry.  Orange is for Jewelry, pink is for my design biz.

The biggest “threat” I feel in my jewelry business is simply the thousands of competitors on Etsy.  I’ve overcome this by mainly selling to friends/family/locals. 

Instead of competing with thousands, it seems I either need to find a more unique niche within jewelry (instead of mainly earrings) OR turn my focus to local markets and local/regional craft shows. 

I have 400 fans now for my jewelry on FB, so I wrote that down as a strength and opportunity.  In fear of being too loud/too sales-y, I’ve probably under-promoted my jewelry to my fans.  Also, I went through the year without a solid marketing plan for my jewelry biz.  I’m embarrassed to say this! On a positive note, though, I’ve gone through 6 months with my jewelry biz and have a better idea of what might work and when.

I challenge you to perform a S.W.O.T. analysis on your biz! It was a great exercise and I am feeling energized.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sonya: Economy

I got Lisa's book in the mail on Christmas Eve, what a gift for my family and to me. I've always been this big idea person. And, when I get one of them, I rarely hesitate to share them. So, in the mail the day before Christmas Eve, I also received Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. In this economy one needs a map or some type of GPS, made yesterday. 

Once I finally got my hands on the book and started flipping through it, I went out to the studio to see if I had some supplies. I was not surprised to find I owned everything I needed for this journey. That's kinda the way, things have been going around here lately.

Julie Stuart - making ideas visible

Most forms of travel require a map of some sort and extended trips and journeys require travel guides. One would not plan a trip, without first creating some sort of written plan and map. so why not use one for your business.

I'll be using the old scooby board game to create a map for my business, eastwind productions and with the old card file, I'll likely create a lift card file ... a file I can count on to lift my spirits in times of need.

Robin: And the Journey Continues...

I mentioned over here that I was having those crazy doubts like why exert so much energy on a dream  MY OWN DREAM, UNIQUELY MY OWN and therefore no way to tell the amount of success (or failure) is ahead of me...

This morning I woke up to an email from Bonnie Rose 
and my heart was REMINDED that this work OUR ART matters 
despite the hiccups and our not having it all together
despite the weariness that comes when trying to live THIS BIG THIS BOLD
It is COMMUNITY that helps us to travel FURTHER AND FARTHER even as we struggle to get it all on paper...

Alease: Defining my Target Market

School of Creative Business- Target Market Profile
I thought I understand who my target market was for my business. And actually I do, but Chp. 5 - Communicating Value made me visualize a better picture of my target market and their needs.

So this is what I did- I answered the following the questions.

Where they shop? Target, Amazon, consignment shops, Earth Fare, speciality boutiques

Where they don't shop? Major department stores, Wal-mart (too generic and too many people)

Media consume? fashion, interior design, & craft magazines; self help and up-lifting books; interior, craft & fashion blogs; thought provoking TV shows

Usage of Internet?  For research, shop and share photos with family and friends

Trade associations?  belong to very few trade associations. If they do it is career related- not passion driven

Trade shows? Attend only a few, maybe one a year or less. Don't live close to major trade show event. The travel too expensive.

Experts they follow?  those in their niche, but mainly for inspiration - not for business advice

Where do they look for advice? books, from other marketers, forums, friends in the business

How do they learn about products? Friends, family, blog recommendations

What competitor products do they use? read books written by business people - tend to wing it- a lot of products out there are not speaking to their niches or learning styles. Want quick and easy answers.

Demographics:  women, ages 25 - 50, urban-suburban areas, income: $30,000-55,000, education: a few years of higher education or more, Values- time, independence, spiritual growth, money, Work: education, service related areas, fashion

Demographic Trends: wants a life that's theirs. move away from corporate America - able to make their own choices- Can do all things it they believe

That was a lot to digest for me. But boy- did I learn a lot about my target market.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Robin: A Bump in the Road

This afternoon a customer contacted me to let me know she did not receive her product that she SPECIFICALLY ordered as a Christmas present.  I FELT MY HEART DEFLATE.  This is an international order which INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH shows up on my list of weaknesses.  I have had this issue before where I would have the customer pay the incredible shipping costs only for the package not to arrive.  For a time, I did not offer international shipping at all but decided I should give it a go and HERE WE ARE.

So, on the one hand, I feel the exhaustion from having put my HEART AND SOUL on paper trying to big dreams despite the holes in the operation.  On the other hand, it makes me want to pack it up and shut it down.  Why in the world does it feel so all or nothing all the time?  I think part of it is I AM NOT CHARGING THE CUSTOMER ENOUGH to go through such hassles.  And of course, I really do need to rethink the need for me to have to ship internationally.

So all this to say, weaknesses such as this one need to be addressed for a reason.

Sonya: Who's not on your list?

This is my 2010 Christmas post card from a store I worked at more than eleven years ago. I worked there for eight years. I help her build & move her business to it's current location. I cried with her each time she lost a furry family member. Why then is she not on my list? Who's not on your list?

You can't see it but at the very top of my What 2 stop doing list is preparing tax returns for friends & family ... I am not in the tax biz and although they love me, they have no desire to pay me ... what they would the people with the three letter green name. I loath doing my own business & personal taxes, but I do, because it's what we are suppose to do.  Maybe they don't take me seriously, because of me.

I will find a way to apply those very same skills and time to list building or creating a strong data base of my ideal customer. Empowered to Flower by this crazy marathon thing!

Robin: Dive Deeper in Strategizing

I mentioned how I have a very long list of weaknesses which I have finally acknowledged are getting in the way of my success.  Little nit picky things that would aid my product development to run more smoothly which I just haven't disciplined myself to just sit down and implement...

Thanks to The Creative Entrepreneur I have taken that list and brainstormed ideas on how to strengthen each of these areas.  This three step process includes:

  • Brainstorm things that need to be done to strengthen your business
  • Pick one and rephrase it into a tangible and clear objective
  • Strategize how to meet the goal/objective you have set forth
I love this idea so much I actually went out and brought a large spiral notebook and listed on each page the weakness I had listed.  I will knock each of them out one page at a time via this process.  I am indeed feeling the excitement rise as I move into my future.

bout to move from hours to days

A 24/7 marathon. The first 24 hours are done. Now it's time for days. Stepping up our game before the new year gets here. We live in three different states. Our first connection was Kelly Rae Roberts First e-course, which she flipped into an e-book. Now, together we are reading this book, by Lisa Sonora Beam.

But reading is never enough, one must take action and we have. And we will continue to share those actions with you to inspire your journey into the new year.

Alease: A plan

As I've gone thru- The Creative Entrepreneur - I've realized that I need a plan. Please know I plan everything I do. But a majority of my planning is in my head. So this is what I did. I created a Business Marketing Plan for the School of Creative Business

The Plan for the School of Creative Business blog site
 The Plan:
  • Offline Networking Strategy
    • attend one event a month - pass out new designed business cards
  • Web Strategy
    • Post more often on blog
    • Article Marketing (2 per month)
    • Use money keywords
  • Outreach Strategy
    • Email Marketing ( include Blog RSS feed )
    • Work on email auto-responder
  • Information Product Strategy
    • Create 2 Free Reports
    • Mini - ecourse (video or print)
  • Teaching/Mentoring Strategy
    • Brainstorming sessions
    • Business Launch
    • Social Media Networking training
  • Online Network Strategy
    • More involved on Facebook, Twitter
    • Use
Then I had to create a To do List.

The To do List  1, 2, 3, 4

I just listed all the actions I needed to take and then numbered them  1 - 4.
1- very important
2- somewhat important
3-not as important
4- can wait

Sonya: A flower big enough for a tree

I saved this puppy for this hour of the marathon as we are about to move from an hourly marathon to a daily marathon, you know 24/7, the hours are first, then days.  In an e-mail Lisa explained to us that this flower/mandala took them five days to complete this year in Mexico.

A little note to Lisa, letting her know of our plans for her book, prompted her to give us her blessing on this journey and boy have we been blessed with the work of the hands we own, the hands we know and the heart we hold.

When I stepped out of the house today ... my books in hand, my camera in hand ... it felt different today.

Today I feel the power of me and now I also have the start of an awesome journal that focus on my biz. All in one day!

Robin: Chapter 4

"Put into YOUR world what you wish were there." - Pauline Rose Clance

I love the comments in the SWOT analysis area of this book: "Strengths and weaknesses cannot be the same." LOVE IT. You know how when you go to a job interview and you get that question about listing your weaknesses and you say something that is a masked strength?

"I care too much"
"I am committed to staying until the job is done, no matter what"
"I put others first and don't need the accolades; all that matters is the job was done right"

This was the GET REAL section: is your idea plausible?  Can you really make a profit from what you are doing? What is it going to take really?

I will admit it:  I had quite a long list for weaknesses.  The good thing is the weaknesses are within my control to change.  And I am committed to changing them.  I had no startling revelations.  I have realized there was work I needed to do in order to give this business a real shot.   It does not help that an hour after I did this exercise I had a meeting with my first boutique who said something to the effect of "our purchases will probably taper off after January."  Of course that makes sense.  After Christmas, retail plummets.  But it just made me realize the hustle is on and THE HUSTLE IS NECESSARY.  If indeed I REALLY DO want to succeed...

Robin: I am an Artist

As I worked feverishly on this Creative Biz Marathon at a table in my local Starbucks, I heard the words, 'you are always here working so hard."  I look up to see a gentleman that I have seen often at this Starbucks.  And he is right.  I am like a madwoman when I come here to work.  I am a military wife whose husband is deployed.  I have no family ties here where I live and I have a 5 year old who is not in school yet.  She is enrolled in preschool for nine hours a week so, after drive time, I have about 7.5 hours to get done whatever I need to get done for this business I am building.  So the insanity of working a business plan in 24 hours - well that was about all I could spare so BRING IT ON!

Anyway, I let myself breathe a moment and chatted with the man for a few minutes and then he asked the question:  What do you do?  And for the first time EVER without any HESITATION I said,

" I am an artist."

Kelly: Competitive Analysis

Haven't you ever looked up your competition online? Have you ever checked out their resume or their CV, or see what is in their Etsy shop, and for what price?  What you are effectively doing is a Competitive Analysis - checking out your competition! The Creative Entrepreneur recommends doing this, because there is so much to learn from others.  See what is working for them.  What kind of promotional tactics do they do, and does it work?  What is their target audience, and is it the same as yours??  I plan to do a bit more of work on this section.  This is just one part of the last chapter in the book, but here is the journal page I did earlier today on competitive analysis.
There is even more info I could add in this page, by really observing and researching more artists.  But this certainly gives me  plenty to think about! And besides, my page was getting full.  But the biggest thing I took from this exercise??  Is that my fear is getting in the way.  I think that I could be much closer to where these artists are, if I could just get over the fear and go for it.  So I am pretty excited to keep going with this plan, and put it into play.  What about you? Do you think you could be a lot closer to where you wanted to be, if you just tried? That's kind of an exciting thought - don't you think??

The other thing I have learned through this exercise is that I have got to work on my branding.  I have a big show coming up in March, and I want to have all my ducks in a row for that show.  I have recently made a change in my business and my branding needs to reflect that.  I think that by hiring or bartering for professional services, I will be much closer to having the branding I want by the time that show gets here.  This is another thing I have started to learn.  Figure out what you are good at, and outsource for the things you are not good at, if you need to.  That way, you get more time to do those things that you love, and what makes you artwork YOU!

So, I hope you get to thinking and brainstorming about your 2011 plan.  I know I certainly am!  Thanks for following us on this journey.   We will continue to flesh out these ideas here at this blog, and then we will all check in around June to see where we are in our objectives and goals.


Robin: Chapter 5

The finish line my friends!  Ah...feels so good to be here.  I have a notebook FILLED with ideas and excitement and promise and encouragement and

Before I put my ideas on paper, it was just this thing that rattled around in my head.  So many times I would go to write these things down but something stopped me.. 
Fear that I would come to a question that I did not have the answer to.  Well guess what?  That did happen during this exercise.  But....NOT AS MUCH as I thought it would.  You see over the past year I have been thinking about this.  I have been actively and consciously thinking about and asking the right questions and I guess on some level FINDING ANSWERS.  

So 24 hours later, I am now armed with this information that gives me a REAL SHOT at success.  The next few days I will spend reliving the questions and thinking more deeply into the answers.  But for now, I will just be PROUD OF ME.  

Go ME!  Go YOU!

Sonya: Heart Gifts

My heart fills up so easily, it's so much bigger than I ever imagined, since motherhood found me. This was my turning point. My heart fills with a desire to leave a legacy for my children. A legacy in which, one of them will write ... she did more than shed tears for those in pain or wondering. Then the other will  write ... she did so much with so little. Then they will both question the gifts in their heart or the heart that gives from the gifts received in abundance.

This past year was huge for my business, so many baby steps taken, I feel like a toddler now. But the big people are so tall and I don't want to stunt my growth by missing a stage. I desire a slow and steady growth ... like a tree which flowers. 

Kelly: Brainstorming Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

This morning, I did some Brainstorming on things important to me and my business.  I discovered that I needed a bigger page or at least to write smaller! Oh well.  I got most of the things on the page.   In the very center is Balancing Family with Artwork, because that is the biggest thing for me.  My family comes first - always - and then artwork.  And if that means a few dishes stay in the sink while I dash off to the studio, then so be it.  Keeping my house spotless isn't on my brainstorming page, and probably won't ever be on there.  Not to say my house is dirty - it isn't - but I don't put away every single thing all the time! :)

The curious thing to me was that I couldn't decide where to put a couple of the bubbles.  Two of the strategies had blurry lines between them... I think I need to spend more time going through this strategy thing..

3 Steps to Creating Effective Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics.  Not my easiest journal page and obviously I need to spend more time here.  I think I will have to flesh out these ideas some more, and I definitely need to go through this process for several of the objectives.  It was hard to pick just one objective, but that is what I did here on this page.  You could use this for so many of your objectives or goals, and it would help you to lay out the baby steps you need to take.  That is one thing I have found about this biz stuff - if you take baby steps continually, you will be surprised at how far you can go!  And sometimes, the baby steps are SO much less scary than big giant leaps into the murky water.

Like the phrase goes:

   "How do you eat an elephant???"
   "One bite at a time!"

And that, my friends, is my strategy for getting through the scary stuff! :)


Laura: Takeaways from Pathways 3 & 4

Chapter 2 of  The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam covers the “Creative Entrepreneur Mandala”…More specifically, 4 pathways:
1.      Heart & Meaning 
2.      Gifts and Flow 
3.      Value and Profitability
4.      Tools and Skills 

In the video below, I talk about how Lisa points out that value and profitability are all about the CUSTOMER and the MARKETPLACE.  I believe that as important as these two things are, I’m guilty of overlooking them as an “artist”. 

In reviewing my answers/notes for value / profitability, here are the words that I used again and again, as they relate to my jewelry as well as my design biz:

Accessible ~ affordable ~ unique ~ handmade ~ sharing ~ helping ~ heart ~ training/tools ~ unexpected gifts ~ caring ~ above and beyond ~ blogging
Onto “Tools and Skills”, I have a video and takeaways to share as well.

“Don’t get good at what you don’t want to be doing”

Some of my skills I jotted down:
writing skills ~ sales skills ~ web design skills ~ marketing skills ~ social media skills ~ video/script writing skills ~ email marketing skills

What are the steps I will take NOW?

If you had to answer Lisa's question: "What are the steps I will take NOW?" regarding value and profitability, what would your answer be?  Most of us *know* what we need to do to grow our business, and it's often a matter of writing it down, making a plan, and setting a deadline for ourselves. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sonya: You gotta know U

In order to strategize well for business , one  must know one's strengths & weaknesses. You know the old saying knowledge is power. The inner knowledge of you and your ability to communicate your weaknesses in a positive fashion is power. Power to hire. Power to outsource. Power of learning.

We live across the street from a lake. Both of my children are water babies, let's just say, each hot summer day is a pool day. I do not swim, I am not a swimmer. I have a fear of large bodies of water and my children were well aware of my water weaknesses. So one hot summer day, I looked fear in the face and with my life jacket securely on. I paddled a canoe with my eleven year old son. It was not comfortable for me, but I did it anyway.

Alease: Heart & Desire

Me (Alease) with one of my Creative Entrepreneurs (Tara Davis)

In my last post- I mentioned that my goal is now to change the mind set of artist. Internet marketing is the key to our success in moving beyond the starving artist. At the event, I assisted Tara in marketing her event through video, social marketing and email marketing. All key components  in Internet marketing.

So you ask what is my heart?  Teaching and sharing what I know.
What's my desire? To learn as much about Internet marketing as I can.

The next picture is my action plan- mind mapping my thoughts. It's not a mandala, but it is the way I think.
Right now, as I write this post, I have two of my clients working on their Internet marketing plans. They are complaining about of the work. But I say to them- once you get it step up, the rest is easy.

After they finish their plans we will work on our stop doing list. Which will require them to hire a virtual assistant. I am happy for them and I am happy for me - as they grow I grow.


Kelly: Structural Tension

I never knew what to call this feeling of discontent I usually feel with my business.  I've been selling my artwork for a while now, but only last night I discovered what to call it.  Structural Tension is explained in The Creative Entrepreneur as "You know how it feels when you have decided you want a certain outcome but you are still living with things are they are before the desired change??"  There, that feeling!  That's the one I'm talking about! So last night, I broke out my PanPastels (which I love for art journaling, by the way!) and got busy working on this tension.
It was such a relief to spell out this scenario!  Now I know why this frustrated feeling often plagues me when it comes to my business.  Not to mention that I totally love the shade of purple from the PanPastel and I decided to use it again (although more sparingly) in the next journal page:

SWOT: Strengths, Weakesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Last night, I really noticed that certain things were popping up again and again in my journal pages.  Things that I need to work on that will no longer wait to be addressed.  One thing I have noticed in my business practices is that I am bad about not following up on possible contacts and/or opportunities that come my way.  I just get sidetracked and forget, and the next thing you know, the opportunity has gotten away from me.  Yeah, well, no longer!  I going to tackle this thing, this creative business, and I will run it, instead of it running me.  I may get busy and get off track for a while, but I am promising myself to get going with it again, as soon as I can.

What about you? Are there things that you have just let slide by, until it was too late?? Missed opportunities or things you thought you weren't "ready" for?? I'd love to hear about those!


Laura: Gifts & Flow

Chapter 2 of  The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam covers the “Creative Entrepreneur Mandala”…More specifically, 4 pathways:

  1. Heart & Meaning 
  2. Gifts and Flow 
  3. Value and Profitability 
  4. Tools and Skills
Below are a few questions/notes I jotted down from Chapter 2 regarding Gifts & Flow
Q: What do you do well with little effort?…A: jewelry, earrings, writing

Q: What comes naturally to you?...A: selecting beads, creating designs, social media

Q: What do people compliment you on that seems easy to you?...A: My jewelry creations, writing, social media, design

Q: What do you get absorbed for hours in doing?...A: Making jewelry, writing, social media, photoshop

Q: What feels like rowing against the current?...A: Proposal writing, database management

Q: You are most in flow when…A: When I'm relaxed and making jewelry with music on in the background; when I'm designing a website or online space and not under a deadline

Q: What are your unique gifts?, crafts, design, writing, social media

click photo to enlarge

Robin: Right Brain/Left Brain

From my journal pages
Having to connect with each dimension separately of how I feel via questions and lists and then cumulatively as I created my mandala definitely brought some STRONG realities to the surface.  Over and over again what came up is WHERE IS MY PLAN?  I mentioned in my earlier posts my love of business.  For me this endeavor does not work unless it is grounded in reality.  I really do need to see that the risks that I am taking are calculated.  In art of course, risk produces lovely new and innovative expressions.  But in business miscalculated rick costs time and money; both which are EXTREMELY LIMITED resources for me.  I need to know if this thing is gonna work, this business thing of mine.  Or else, let's call it what it is: A HOBBY.

Robin: What's in Your Head?

From my journal pages
"This new opportunity we are moving toward sets up an inner conflict between where we are and where we want to be.  If that conflict becomes intolerable, we relieve the pressure either by lowering out standards or by abandoning the goal altogether." Creative Entrepreneur, p. 69 

I cannot tell you how much this one sentence is taunting me, nailing my thoughts to the wall and DEMANDING that I make peace with what I want to do with this turmoil.  Take the easy way out?  Haven't I done this so many times before?  Haven't I said I wanted to be unique, blaze my own trail? I want to appreciate the everything experiences of my life and give my take on them to the world.  A take so DISTINCTLY MY OWN that it would lend value to what I have to say, what I MUST DO.

So I keep moving through the work and I keep plotting the course before me, no longer wanting to be haphazard and random about my life.  KEEP MOVING FOWARD...

Sonya: What not to do

A few weeks ago, Alease wrote a list blog post and one of her recommendations was a Stop doing list, so when I spotted the same title in The Creative Entrepreneur, you know it caught my eye. My journal will most likely include several pages of the Stop doing list or as I have titled it here My What not to do list and find some of my thoughts about this marathon here ...

Robin: Chapter 3

Sensing Function - from my journal
The sensing function is definitely my most predominant area.  The one I need to fine tune a bit more is the acting function.  The words I wrote in the acting function area were filled with lots of revelations about my self.  I find quite a few DESTRUCTIVE ACTIONS in that area which include:
  • eating emotionally - I had NEVER CONNECTED this before to my need to gain control in my circumstances and my spaces of uncertainty.
  • maintaining a chaotic, disorganized workspace as a form of sabotage (I KNOW I cannot work well in that type of environment)
  • Isolating myself when I find my circle of friends misunderstand the changes I am attempting to make in this new arena of my life.
I wrote, "My problem is I need to come out of trying to convince my group of friends/acquaintances about what I am doing as the right decision at this time in my life and start CHARGING towards the seeds planted of new lovely relationships via Kelly Rae Roberts' course."

Alease: Aha Aha Moment

As I was thinking about my creative business and its purpose - I realized that my main objective for starting my busines is share with other artist what I've learn about making money online. The key thing I want my creative readers to understand is that I want them to move beyond the straving artist mentality.

We have to move into the world of internet marketing. Learn the skills and techiques they use and apply those same tactic skills to our art and craft business.

I'm taking an internet marketing course now and I am learning so much. And all these techniques can be used in anyone's artist business. We - artist just have to move beyond just creating art, we need a mindset of that we are in the business of marketing our artist ability.

So artist lets get into the habit of marketing what we do and learn all that's required to make it happen.

Robin: Guides

From my journal pages

My biggest sources of information for exploring my creativity are books.  The very first creative book I read from cover to cover was Twyla Tharp's Book The Creatve Habit which let me just live this idea of a creative life in the form of lists.  Lists and Questions have definitely been my biggest vehicles for getting at this thing.  Julia Cameron and The Artist Way was another huge spark for thinking.  I would read about creativity for many years before I ever got the courage to act on it.

Reading blogs really gained momentum during my time in Germany because I many times had only access to a computer when weather or transportation hindered any outside connections.  The Wish Studio and Kelly Rae Roberts were the main spaces I went to in order to dream of this life I was wanting for myself and then one day FINALLY I took the steps...

Kelly: Creating a Business Mandala

In my last post, I talked a bit about the Pathways used to create a mandala for your creative business.  The mandala is made up of several pathways, and each one is important and specific.  Each one needs to be explored to complete the mandala and help you figure out the things you are struggling with in your business.  I shared two of my pathways with you in the previous post, and now here is the finished Mandala for my business.

I drew from each pathway some of the information, and compiled it in the flower shape, recommended in the book.  This may not be my favorite journal page of all time, but the point here is that you are doing the thinking, and going through the process of figuring things out.  For me, the hardest of the pathways was the Value and Profitability, because that is the territory that I am the least familiar with.  One thing that I do to help surprise my customers and add value to their experience of buying a piece of my artwork, is that I like to do special giftwrapping, and I write thank you notes.  You know, the old fashioned, handwritten type of thank you note.  And I think people love that.   Tools was the other thing that stood out to me.  I have noticed that some of the artists whose work I admire, do not go the extra mile to make themselves available online.  I believe this is so, so important in today's world!  And can you believe that there are still so many artists who don't even have a website or a blog?!?  I recently found an exhibition I was interested in and I did some competitive analysis of these folks, only to discover that 90% of them didn't have a decent online presence.  Who are these people and how are they going to succeed in their creative biz if they don't have an online presence???  They definitely need to spend some time working on their biz plan for 2011!

So back to the Mandala.  I also did a journal page thinking of the mandala and what I learned.  I was a little surprised by how confidence (or lack thereof!) affects me in so many ways in my creative biz.
So, already I am seeing some patterns of how I usually address business tasks, and I'm seeing ways I can definitely improve.  And I love these layouts - they are so much easier on my eyes and they actually make sense to my creative brain.  I simply cannot read those dull, dry business plan books,  that seem to go on and on and on.  This is a format that is definitely working for me!

In my next post, I will be hitting on a something called "Structural Tension", which is a phrase I have needed! I always knew I had this problem, but I never knew what to call it! Stay tuned!


Robin: Mandala

Robin's Mandala
Notes on the Mandala
I got to admit this: I was ABSOLUTELY skeptical about this exercise.  I have mentioned how much I love making lists.  I just really could not see what difference it would make whether I left my thoughts in list form or created the mandala.

BUT, I committed to experiencing this project FULLY and one thing I know I needed to so is remind myself how many times I have gotten at some revelation once I tackled the problem by another means AKA creatively!

I am sitting here right now looking at the original version and I am STILL AMAZED by how all these HUNDREDS of ideas I have that were floating around in my head are now down in one COLORFUL PLACE.  I can place it in my work space and it offers a QUICK BOOST of support and encouragement when I am tackling the not so fun parts of business.  It reminds me that I have a plan in place and I am working TOWARDS SOMETHING...

Laura: Heart & Meaning

Chapter 2 of  The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam covers the “Creative Entrepreneur Mandala”…More specifically, 4 pathways:

  1. Heart & Meaning
  2. Gifts and Flow
  3. Value and Profitability
  4. Tools and Skills

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In this post, I’m sharing my “Heart & Meaning” Journal page

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Robin: Chapter 2: Managerial/Value/Profitability

Managerial Prompts

Value/Profitability Prompts

"The nature of entrepreneurship is the desire to innovate and offer something new, possibly something not yet financially proven in the marketplace." 
Lisa Sonora Beam, The Creative Entrepreneur

I am a manager at heart.  I love to create order out of chaos.  So the nuts and bolts of a thing once they are nailed in place, really help me to thrive. When I cannot see my way clear to the place I need to go, I feel very aimless AND I use my time wastefully almost as a means to SABOTAGE where I am going.  

What I love most about the section on Value and Profitability is that the questions offer the challenge of PRACTICAL DREAMING.  Questions like what "astonishes my customers" and How would others "evangelize my products" offer just the right amount of whimsy to get at the root of the question: