10.31.2014

Happy (Halloween) Friday + Weekly Links

Friday’s here! Halloween’s here! So much to celebrate – the weekend AND candy. Two of my favorite things.

We’re doing a fun theme this year now that there are three humans in the family (I’m still trying to figure out how to work the dog into this theme). Make sure you’re following me on Instagram if you want to see what we end up doing.

Okay, on to today’s fun finds around the internet. There were so many good ones, so I didn’t even limit myself. Happy perusing!

Two of my favorite kid brands have joined forces to create some freaking adorable clothes. Sadly, they don’t have any baby clothes, but I think I might stock up on some toddler clothes.

Finally, a “polite” popup that can help you multiply your email list in no time. I’ve loved everything Nathalie Lussier has created, so it was a no-brainer when I found out she had created an email list popup tool. Is it me or are all the other options out there just really unattractive? I’m trying it out now, and you can see it in play right below this post and in the sidebar. The real winner for me was the ability to easily use my own custom fonts.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t know software to organize your fonts and sync them across all your devices existed. Life. Saver. I’m testing out Suitcase Fusion’s free 30-day trial now.

These are currently my favorite candles (besides the ever-so-popular Bath and Body Works candles). The Vanilla Maple and Salted Caramel ones smell amaaaazing. I just try their mini masons so I can always be switching out the scents around our house.

A few of my favorite lady biz owners have teamed up to give you a bunch of Halloween treats for your business. And they’re all FREE (both calories and dollar bills)!

Let’s hope this little trick actually works, because I’m always down for a deeper sleep.

You know how you spend all this time writing an awesome blog post, only to feel like maybe five people have seen it (including your mom)?? Yea, that’s no good. This is the best breakdown I’ve seen on how to share your blog post with the world. I’ll definitely be adding this to my own blog post sharing process, stat!

Do you ever feel guilty about not always loving your business? Here’s a post that will make you feel a little more human about the fact that you won’t always be “doing what you love.”

 

Hope everyone has an awesome Halloween + weekend.

POSTED IN: Weekly Links
10.29.2014

3 scripts for dealing with past clients

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Photo source :: I’ve been eyeing this mug for a while.

First, let’s talk about the importance of saying ‘no’.

When you’re first starting your business, I believe that saying ‘yes’ is how you build your business. However, once you get to a certain point — maybe you’re booked solid, you’re reaching your income goals each month, or whatever it may be that makes you feel like your business is killing it — you get the choice of saying ‘no’ to some clients or projects that don’t get you super excited.

If you fill your client roster with a bunch of clients you aren’t really excited to work with or aren’t paying you well, you’re not leaving any room for those clients and projects that make you love what you do AND pay you top dollar for it.

But then, you start to struggle with whether or not you should say ‘no’ and how to say it without burning any bridges. I know… the struggle is real, folks.

This question landed in my inbox from Amy F., a new email subscriber, so I figured I’d answer it for everyone. Just in case you’re going through the same thing right now.

Amy asked:

One issue I struggle with is how to say ‘no’ to people whose requests don’t fit with what I do. Some of them might even be past clients. For example, I struggle with whether I should do their cheap spring break trip (I tend to focus more on destinations more far afield, such as Europe, South America, Australia) just because I’ve previously planned their custom 10 year anniversary trip to Italy. It feels mean, or like I’m not taking care of my past clients…. Suggestions?

I’ve put together 3 different situations where you may need to say ‘no’, and what to say in each situation.

Script #1 :: To past clients asking for a service you no longer offer:

Hi (name),

It’s so great to hear from you again. Hope you’re doing well.

Unfortunately, I’m no longer offering (insert service they’re asking for).

I absolutely loved working with you, though, and would love to work with you again. Here’s how I can help you in the future:

Insert list of things you do now

Let me know if you need my help with any of the above. I’d love to whip up a quote for you. 

Hope to hear from you soon!

(your signature)

Script #2 :: To past clients asking for a service at a price you no longer offer:

Hi (name),

It’s so great to hear from you again. Hope you’re doing well.

I would absolutely love to work with you again. Just so we’re both on the same page, I wanted to make sure you knew my updated rates. Attached is a 1 page pdf describing my services and new rates.

I absolutely loved working with you and hope we can work together again.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Talk soon,

(your signature)

Script #3 :: To past clients you no longer wish to work with (for various reasons):

Hi (name),

It’s so great to hear from you again. Hope you’re doing well.

Thanks for reaching back out to me to work together. Unfortunately, I’ve got a packed client roster at the moment, with no wiggle room for new clients.

I don’t want to leave you stranded, so I’ve rounded up 3 potential people that I know and love that may be able to help. 

Person 1 (with link to their site/portfolio)

Person 2 (with link to their site/portfolio)

Person 3 (with link to their site/portfolio)

I hope you can find someone out of those 3 that can help.  

Let me know if you have any questions.

Talk soon,

(your signature)

Well, there you have it.

3 ways to say NO to past clients for a few reasons. Whatever the reason may be, just remember that you DON’T have to work with a client just because you have in the past. If they’re asking for something you don’t offer, not wanting to pay your new rates, or were a PITA client in the client before, politely decline their request and offer something in return.

TELL ME

What’s a sticky situation you’ve been in (or are in) and you weren’t sure how to respond? Or got another question for me? Send me an email or leave a comment below. These make the best blog posts.

POSTED IN: Business, Clients
10.24.2014

Happy Friday + Weekly Links

Ah Friday, we meet again! There’s nothing like the feeling of a Friday, the beginning of a weekend and a little time off. Hopefully you’ve got something fun planned. My Dad and family are headed here for a visit and I’m hoping to make it to the apple orchard for the last time this season to stock up on cider donuts and hot apple cider. Yum!

Next week, our little guy is 3 months old. Craziness! I have no idea where the past 3 months have gone, but I’m really excited. He’s started to resemble more of a little human lately. You know… being able to hold his head up and all. It makes a huge difference! Oh, and did I mention the sleep? He’s been a champ in that arena lately, and we’re hoping it keeps up (although, we are NOT looking forward to the 4-month sleep regression we hear so much about). Oh, babies…

And on to a few fun things I found around the internet this week!

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Creating a capsule wardrobe completely terrifies me and makes me excited, all at once. The idea of walking into my closet and not feeling overwhelmed with what to wear (especially with my post-baby body and a ton of clothes that don’t quite fit right anymore) makes my heart so happy. But getting rid of something that maybe I’ll wear eventually… freaks me out. Not gonna lie. Listen to Jess Lively talk with Caroline about creating a capsule wardrobe.

Solly Baby is hosting an awesome giveaway. This was one of our best baby purchases to-date, and the thought of traveling around the world with my man and my baby using these wraps makes my heart happy. You can enter the giveaway here (but if you win, you have to promise to send me a little souvenir from your trip).

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Shaylyn Nelson finally opened her watercolor print shop and I’m wanting… oh, just about all of them! I want this one for our bathroom and this one for our bedroom and this one for Logan’s room and this one for my office.

I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to be testing out 17Hats. Guys… it’s awesome so far. I didn’t realize all of the different things you can do with it — estimate, invoicing, send contracts, send questionnaires. Even pull in emails from your regular inbox to specific projects, with a specific email address. It simplifies the entire customer experience and keeps everything in one place. I took the plunge and purchased the full year subscription. It’s only $149/year, and when you total up all of the costs for the other software you’re using (Freshbook, Echosign, Basecamp, etc), it’s totally worth it. I’m not 100% yet if it will replace Basecamp, but my hope is that it will!

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I’m dying to make these soon. I think I’ll pick up a gallon of apple cider at the apple orchard this weekend and make them on Sunday. :)

If you’re just getting started in the design or freelance field, this webinar might help. It’s next Tuesday!

Happy Friday, friends! Have an awesome weekend!

POSTED IN: Weekly Links
10.21.2014

My typical day with a business + a baby

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Life these days is anything but typical, but I thought I’d share with you what a random day looks like for me. I’ve always found this really helpful when others shared, especially as you’re entering a new phase of life (i.e. with a new baby, with a new job, with a new business, etc), so I thought I’d share just in case it helps any of you.

I still try my hardest not to work on nights or weekends, but with very limited time during the day, it has to happen sometimes. This, however, is what a “typical” weekday looks like for me — juggling a business and a baby.

7:00 AM The little one usually wakes up around this time. I feed him and we venture out to the kitchen where my husband is getting ready to leave for work. I eat breakfast, have a cup of coffee and cuddle with Logan until he’s ready for his nap.

8:30 AM I feed him a little bit more and lay him down for a nap. Oh, the glorious morning nap! He usually sleeps anywhere from 2.5 – 4 hours. This is my biggest opportunity to get as much work done as possible. It’s a race against the clock, but it’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you have a set amount of time to get it all done. I try to make my weekly brain dump and daily to-do list at the beginning of the week so I know what I need to work on as soon as he falls asleep.

12:00 PM He usually wakes up around this time, so I feed him and we do a few activities around the house (tummy time, activity mat… you know, the usual ;)). I also take my shower during this stretch of awake time, or it’s likely I won’t get a shower that day until my husband comes home (the life, right?). For the first couple of months I was taking my shower during his morning nap until I realized how much precious time I was wasting on something that could just as easily be accomplished while he was awake. Just pop him in the bouncer and set him in the bathroom with me. Done deal. Next up is trying to squeeze my workout into this tiny frame of time.

2:00 PM He’ll usually go down for his next nap about 2-3 hours after he wakes up but this one isn’t consistent and doesn’t last nearly as long as the morning nap. I don’t plan on getting much done during this nap, because it’s so unpredictable. I finish up whatever is on my to-do list and clean up the house a bit.

3:30 PM Once he’s up from his afternoon nap, the work day is usually done for me. I feed him, and we wait patiently for daddy to get home at 5:30.

6:30 PM Once 6:30 hits, it’s a mad dash of chaos. Also know as – bedtime routine. Steven puts him to bed while I get dinner started. (I can’t even imagine what this looks like with two kids).

7:00 PM He is usually asleep anytime between 7 – 7:30. Dinner time for us while we catch up on awesome fall tv shows (Have you SEEN How to get away with murder?!?! Amazing! Also — Modern Family, New Girl, Scandal and DWTS).

9:00 PM We’re usually headed to bed around this time, stocking up on sleep for our middle-of-the-night wakeup call, aka – the night feeding.

And the day starts all over again.

Even with only a solid 4 hours total per day to work, I feel like I get just as much done on any given day as I did before. It’s exhausting some most days, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other life.

The biggest problem I’ve faced so far is how to schedule calls with clients and consults. We haven’t found a babysitter yet, and haven’t decided if daycare is the route we want to take, so I’m kind of left relying on nap time to take these calls. With babies being so unpredictable, this scares me to rely so heavily on naps. So, if you’ve got any pointers, I’m all ears!!

Have any tips you’d like to share with new moms (Ahem… me!) on how you manage your business and a baby? Let’s start a convo in the comments. xx
10.17.2014

Turning over a new leaf

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There’s such a weird feeling when you’re writing to the people of the internet. You’re so influenced by what you think you’re supposed to be writing about (business, marketing, design, etc), but it’s your blog and you feel like you should be able to write about whatever you want. And that last part is what I struggle with.

Since we’ve introduced our little one into the world, I’ve felt this urge to share more about ME and my life, rather than just business tips and advice. I want to let you in behind the scenes and share more of what inspires me. I want to talk about everyday things I love. I want to talk more about the real life things and let you inside of my little world.

There are so many ‘business experts’ out there, and I feel that we need a new perspective in this circle of online creative women. Because if there’s one important thing I’ve learned over the past 3 years of running this business, it’s that people are inspired by other people. And the more they get to know that person, the more chances they have to feel inspired by them. I would absolutely LOVE to inspire you.

In the past, I feel that I may have tried to fit the mold of knowing what’s going on, but the truth is that I don’t (especially now that my world has flipped on it’s head with a baby on board). What I want you to know is that I’m still figuring everything out, just like you are. Once I figure out something that works for my business, I write blog posts and ebooks and online programs. I share it with you hoping that it might be able to help you, too. That’s how my business works. I’m walking the walk, right beside you, and sharing my lessons.

As I return from my amazing maternity leave (have you seen how cute this kid is??), expect to see more of a twist in postings. I’m not entirely sure how that will look, yet, so I don’t want to make any promises. I do know, however, that it’ll be a nice mix of life & business, just the way it should be.

So, that’s my rambling of feelings. And remember – we’re all in this together 

POSTED IN: Blogging, Life
09.23.2014

Creative Crush : Amber McCue

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Today’s Creative Crush interview is with one of my favorite online ladies, Amber McCue. 

I first talked to Amber last year when a mutual biz friend introduced us, we jumped on a mini mastermind sesh and the rest is history. Since then, I’ve hired her, she’s hired me and the circle of business just keeps going round and round.

Amber has been a vital part of my growth over the last year, thanks in huge part to the awesome person she is. Super caring and always up for a quick chat.

Alright, let’s jump in!

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PS. Amber, along with Alison, will also be a featured guest expert in my upcoming program, CrushWorthy. Get excited!!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a lover of business. Even more specifically, I love partnering with people who are doing business to help them be successful. I’m looking at you business owners and CEOs on the rise.

I’m a mother of three girls. I always knew I’d be a mom and I’ve actually been a mom for 15 years, but it took the third baby this fall to really make it real for me. I am a mom.

I didn’t realize it until I moved out East, but apparently mid-westerners have a reputation for working hard and being nice. I fit the bill on hard worker (sometimes teetering workaholic) and I work my darndest to take the high road and do all things the Nice way.

2. When + how did you start your business?

Three Boudoir, my first successful business, started 6 or 7 years ago as a part-time thing. I realized when I was building that business how much I actually loved the business side of things. About 3 years ago I started working with clients on how they could streamline and be more efficient in their business through my program How to Clone Yourself.

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3. What was one role you had in the past that prepared you for what you do now?

Hands down, the six years I spent at a management consulting firm set the stage. It was a large organization and I played in a small niche. It was an entrepreneurial role and I was able to have a lot of impact, I worked with great people who were smart and focused.

4. I’m nosy… what does a “typical” day look like for you? How do you manage your time each week?

Wake up – Hang out with my girls.  Enjoy breakfast and a little time outside.
Nanny arrives – Hand off girls, get ready, and get to work in my office.  Typically with the door locked so they can’t sneak in. ;) I do come out for lunch, water, and bathroom breaks.

Problem solving clients – One of my favorite things to do is serve and support my clients. I love problem solving with them and I spend a good bit of every day engaging with my clients to make sure their businesses are moving forward too.

Create – I also create something most days — Something I am writing, an idea I am working through, a client project I am delivering on, whatever.

Wrap up at 4pm – I’m testing something new this year.  I’m wrapping up my work days at 4pm on Tuesday and Thursday.  There’s something called the Pareto Principal that says you’ll use as much time as you have to get something done. I’m going to see if I can get just as much done in less time.

Then it’s back to family time – Playing at the park or working on a project around the house. After the kids go to sleep, my husband and I might sneak a movie in or we might do a little work or read independently.  We are pretty flexible on how the rest of the night goes down.  Unless it is the weekend – my husband likes to stay up late and I’m not against going to bed early. Even if it is the weekend!

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5. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done in your business, so far, that has paid off?

One of my clients instituted a Fearless Friday activity in our program Freshly Implemented. I don’t let my clients face their fears alone so I joined in the Fearless Friday fun. I was on the hunt for a new mentor at the time and had my eye on the author of a book I read. I reached out to him as a part of this Fearless Friday challenge and we are now connected. Boy has it paid off! Just one conversation in and I had so many ah-has.

6. Any failures that you’ve learned from?

Are there ever! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to get out there and test things faster. Implement faster so I can put “it” out there and get a reaction! Even if the reaction is “crickets.” That’s something! If I put something out there, listen to the market reaction, and hear crickets, I now know I need to reset. Without that feedback, it is all a hypothesis.

7. What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?

My fears evolve and change as I grow as a person and as a business owner. For a while, I was nervous about sounding like a used car salesman. I love and respect what used car salesman do – I’d actually like to try it myself some day! So it was less about the used car salesman and more about the stereotypes – I didn’t want to come across as sleazy, pushy, or aggressive.

When I turned that statement around and got clarity around what I did and who I serve, everything changed. Instead of my limiting “I am a used car salesman” story, I started telling myself a true story:

I am a small business and entrepreneurial consultant who partners with small business CEOs who are on the rise so that they can build a successful, results oriented, and more profitable business.

Two things happened when I did this:

  1. I owned my role of business partner to CEOs of growing businesses and stepped into a great leadership role for my clients and in my business.
  2. I started focusing on the results of my community.

The focus shifted from “my” business to “your” business.

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8. What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to fellow creative entrepreneurs?

  1. Pick one idea and implemented it now. If you don’t put it out there and get the feedback, you’ll never know!
  2. Focus on what you are good at – Don’t water down your best parts!
  3. Find people to help you do what you aren’t so good at – legal, finance, team building, development, project management. Whatever it is. Let someone else take care of the things that fall outside of your zone of genius.

9. And just for fun — what have you been working on that we should keep an eye out for?

A new round of Freshly Implemented – very fun!! Freshly Implemented is an online mastermind experience that turns the program model on it’s side. Part one-on-one, part training, part mastermind, part gift service — kidding on the gift service. But we do give out Nice Swag to all of our mastermind members every month if they rock their goals! The program is all about growing, streamlining, and getting efficient in your business. It’s highly personal.

We have a video workshop series up at www.freshlyimplemented.com where you can test your CEO mindset, assess where you need to focus in your business to streamline and get efficient, and where you can discover how to get as much done in a day as you do in a week!

Hope you enjoyed that interview. If you want to connect with her, head over to Twitter and say HI!

09.09.2014

Creative Crush : Alison Monday

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I’m back with a new Creative Crush interview. Today’s interview is with Alison Monday from tiny blue orange

If you’ve worked with me in the past, chances are you know Alison. She is the go-to-developer on my team. I use her for all of my websites, as well as my clients, so it’s safe to say that I trust her with my business.

Even after working with Alison for over a year on projects, I still learned a ton about her in this interview & I hope you do, too. 

I just love this girl to pieces. Let’s dive in!

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PS. Alison will be a featured interview in my upcoming program, CrushWorthy, so stay tuned for info on how to grab that!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a total nerd with a tough looking exterior + a giant heart, especially for animals.

After realizing that fashion design wasn’t for me {mere weeks before my high school graduation}, I learned about this thing called graphic design + decided to give it a try. While working on my degree, I fell in love with website/interactive design + being able to build what I laid out. I haven’t looked back since.

When I’m not building websites for solopreneurs + small businesses, I’m either with my boyfriend and our 2 extra large dogs – Pixel + Brutus, cooking up something hopefully tasty in the kitchen, or throwing weights around at my favorite CrossFit gym – CrossFit Connex.

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2. When + how did you start your business?

I purchased the domain tinyblueorange.com in September of 2007. The idea I had then is very different from what my business is today + I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I officially started full-time self-employment in August of 2012. Almost a year prior to that, I was working a part-time job to have benefits + some steady income. I reached the point where I just got too busy for the time that I had + finally gave my notice. It was one of the most overwhelming days of my life so far, because I was filled with 2 opposite emotions – fear + pure joy.

When I was building up my client base + freelancing, I did almost anything from logos to photos to websites. But as I got more comfortable with being in charge of my business, I started focusing on the projects that I loved, which allowed me to provide more value along with doing an even better job for my clients. It wasn’t long after I started honing in on my niche that my business took off + I found myself with a 6 month waiting list of folks wanting to work with me.

3. What was one role you had in the past that prepared you for what you do now?

While I think that every experience in my life has some sort of benefit to being able to run a business, the role that I always draw inspiration from is when I worked retail in the mall during high school. Without customers, you don’t have a business, which is exactly why I remember my years working in customer service almost daily.

Taking the experience of what worked + what didn’t when keeping customers happy helps me keep my current clients happy. Happy clients are repeat clients but also are more likely to refer you to others.

4. I’m nosy… what does a “typical” day look like for you? How do you manage your time each week?

I think “typical” is a loose term in the entrepreneurial world – which is why I love it!

Lately I’ve been waking up early to do some work in bed. My rule is no email before 10am, so I normally tackle writing, learning or knock out a top priority task so that I feel productive before most folks have started their day.

Then I take a break to walk the pups, eat my breakfast then occasionally do a chore or two around the house. It gives me a chance to reset from the deep dive type work I did earlier.

From there, my day really varies depending on client calls, current project load, etc. But I do only check email twice a day + set 3 “must do” tasks that take priority to everything else. Setting those must do items the night before, or at the beginning of the week, is what keeps me on track as new requests + emails come to my inbox.

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5. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done in your business, so far, that has paid off?

Besides committing to it 100% by quitting my day job, the scariest thing for me has been saying “no” to clients or projects. But each time that I do it, being able to say no gets a little bit easier. I’m also learning to trust my gut even more.

One of the best things someone said to me is that by saying no to someone that isn’t a good fit, I am helping them find someone that is a good fit. The last thing I want to do is let anyone down, so turning folks away when they need help is a huge challenge for me. However, with the ability to make recommendations + send them on their way, I know that I’m giving them the opportunity to find their perfect business match when it isn’t me.

6. Any failures that you’ve learned from?

All of them!

Not once, not twice, but three times I have had my largest client suddenly go from steady income to ZERO. While the reasoning for each occurrence is different, the lesson that I cannot + should not put all of my eggs in one basket is huge. But also, recognizing that when business is good, I cannot assume that I am in the clear from the ups + downs of freelance income. You never know when your biggest client is going to sell their business, hire an in-house web person, or fire you.

Even with a wait list, I find time in my week to promote my services, network with potential clients + schedule calls with folks that have questions or need help. Those times are the reason that my wait list is growing, because I’m putting in the work.

7. What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Like any recovering perfectionist, I always worry about failure or letting others down. It drives me to do my best, but is a work in progress to overcome.

I’ve been working on overcoming my fear of failure by working on my definition of success, talking to other entrepreneurs about what they do if they feel like they have failed at something + reminding myself that my really high standards are set by me, they are not necessarily my client’s expectations.

8. What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to fellow creative entrepreneurs?

This is easy – and short + sweet –

  • reply to your emails in a timely manner {not always the second the email comes in, but certainly not weeks later}
  • abc2 – always be carrying a business card {I got an amazing client after a short conversation in the Home Depot checkout line}
  • don’t forget the rejuvenation/reset step in the cycle of creativity {going from one project to the next without at least celebrating what you’ve accomplished is no good for anyone, especially you!}

9. And just for fun — what have you been working on that we should keep an eye out for?

Right now my focus is developing amazing sites for zesty ladies. I have a handful of launches planned over the next 4 weeks that I could not be more excited for. Being able to provide them with an amazing experience + build an amazing experience for their site visitors is what I love doing every single day.

Hope you enjoyed that interview. If you want to connect with her, head over to Twitter and say HI!

09.02.2014

A massive update (aka I HAD A BABY!)

Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote. I had this whole plan to have a few posts lined up while I was away on maternity leave, and then…

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Meet Logan Genther

Baby Genther decided he wanted to show up for the party 2 weeks early (and thanks to being diagnosed with preeclampsia, he didn’t have much of a choice).

So, the past 5 weeks (yes… 5 weeks old already!!) have been a bit of a whirlwind as we try to figure out this whole parenting thing.

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custom blanket

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A few weeks ago, Logan got to meet his great-great-grandma, great-grandma and grandma. 5 generations on my Mom’s side. Pretty cool! I’m so glad we got lots of pictures, because this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often.

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I’m sorta, kinda starting to ease back into work, but I don’t think I could have ever imagined how time-consuming and heart-consuming being a Mom is. Honestly, I don’t feel any sort of rush right now to jump back into work, so I’m listening to my heart and doing what feels right at this moment.

And, at this moment, this is what feels right…

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Major life changes (like having a baby!) can drastically change your perspective on… well, pretty much everything. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about the changes I want to make in my business and this blog, and while it’s still not 100% clear, I’m starting to uncover the new direction I want to take. The only thing I know for sure is that I want to spend as much time with my little man as possible, while he’s still young. I’ve been told countless times that this period of his life flies by, and I don’t want to have any regrets on missing important moments.

In other news, I am so flipping excited that it’s already September! I feel like I totally skipped out on summer since I was about 35 pounds heavier and carrying around a watermelon in my belly. I’m not sure where the time went, but once this baby came along it’s been flying by. This month I’m looking forward to apple cider donuts, cooler nights, pumpkin spice lattes, and cuddles with my little man.

Follow me on Instagram if you want to keep tabs on me and my little man.

Stay tuned, because we do have 2 more Creative Crush interviews coming up soon and these are two ladies you definitely want to meet!

POSTED IN: Baby Genther, Life
08.12.2014

Creative Crush : Val Geisler

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Welcome to a new series on the blog. 

I’ve been wanting to do an interview series like this for a while. And the start of maternity leave seemed like a great time to get started.

The Creative Crush Interview series is where I take you behind-the-computer screen of my favorite online entrepreneurs. It also gives me a chance to be nosy and dig deeper into the fears of creative entrepreneurs and how they overcome their biggest challenges. Who doesn’t love to hear more about that?

For the first few interviews, I want to introduce you to people who are very important to my business. They’re either on my team or have had a huge impact in where my business is now.

First up – Val Geisler, my project manager/Client Happiness Specialist. If you’ve recently reached out about starting a new project, you’ve most likely been in touch with Val. She’s my front line — especially while I’m away on maternity leave. She holds down the fort and makes sure that everything is taken care of with current and future clients. She’s pretty dang vital to my biz.

So, let’s get to know her.

Val, take it away!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m Val, owner of aspire&grow. I’m in love with my family, really good dark chocolate, and simplifying the back end of online businesses.

2. When + how did you start your business?

In February of 2012 I was fired from my event management job. At the time, aspire&grow was a side gig and I had just one client. At first I was scared out of my mind but now I can tell you it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was fired on a Wednesday and by Friday I had a full client docket – clearly I was meant to do this.

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3. What was one role you had in the past that prepared you for what you do now?

I went to school for Theatre Production and that experience serves me every day. I worked behind the scenes in theatre and opera companies across the country for 6 years and I quickly learned what it was like to get something off the ground and turn it into a real product in a short amount of time. I also got really good at working my connections to land my next gig and I use my “connector” skills every day with my 1 on 1 coaching clients.

4. I’m nosy… what does a “typical” day look like for you? How do you manage your time each week?

Ha! If I HAD a typical day I think I would be bored out of my mind. While every day has a rough outline – check in with clients in the morning via Skype, tackle the projects for the day via Basecamp mid-day, and tend to the daily needs of my own biz in the late afternoon – the schedule really varies based on what’s going on with each of my clients and in my own life. Time management is huge for me as a momma and business owner. I use Basecamp with my clients to stay organized and keep the lines of communication open.

For my own business I use Evernote to organize my emails into tasks and store all of my findings from my research. Since a huge part of my business is recommending the perfect product for task management, social media scheduling, etc., I am constantly researching and trying out new products and programs. I can’t tell you how many free trials of products I’ve done!

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5. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done in your business, so far, that has paid off?

Just starting was scary. Knowing that I had a short period of time to fill my client roster and pay the bills was pretty fear inspiring. That said, I’m always moved into action by fear (instead of staying stagnant) so the scary stuff only helps move me forward.

6. Any failures that you’ve learned from?

I’ve worked with some clients that weren’t right for me – and I knew it right away but kept working with them. I thought that it would get better over time and it just didn’t. Now I know my red flags and I refer those peeps to the right person for them. I was always afraid to turn down work thinking that there wouldn’t be any more to come. Now I know that there is plenty of love and work to go around and that if I let go of clients who aren’t right for me, it opens up space for the perfect person to come sailing in!

7. What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Money. Straight up, I’m always afraid that it will run out, that the IRS is going to send me a bill for giant unpaid taxes I didn’t know about, that the bottom is going to drop out. Even just saying that makes me realize that it’s fairly unfounded (I do a good job of balancing the books and saving for a rainy day) but it’s always been a huge fear since striking out on my own.

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8. What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to fellow creative entrepreneurs?

  1. Just do it. Don’t get stuck in perfection. That goes for everything from your blog posts to your products to starting something new. Get out there and do it and learn along the way!
  2. Ask for support. We are each experts at something really unique and that\’s such a gift. Get involved in a group of business owners (Facebook is full of these groups) and participate. Offer your expertise and ask for help when you need it. We are all here to support each other.
  3. Make time for fun. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of starting and running a business. All of a sudden your laptop is out while you are watching movies with the kids or you’re passing on brunch to spend time in your biz. It’s okay to do this every now and again but be sure to put it all away and have a little fun every now and again. After all, what’s the fun of being on this wild ride if you can’t enjoy the scenery along the way!

9. And just for fun — what have you been working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I just launched a fun and free quiz to help you figure out what kind of support you need in your biz. It’s called Support:Simplified and you can check it out right here.

Oh, and my mentorship program, Business Booster, is gearing up again and I have some really lovely business owners involved. A group component is coming soon, too. For now, my 1×1 spots are filling up so shoot me a note at val@aspireandgrow.com if you want to jam on all things in the backend of your biz!

Hope you enjoyed that interview. If you want to connect with her, head over to Twitter and say HI!

07.25.2014

7 crazy helpful links for creatives on blogging

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We’re back with another link roundup. Today’s focus is all about blogging and how to use your blog to market your business, save you time and make you more money.

 

From the CoSchedule blog: 

You’ve spent hours slaving away on your content. You’ve done everything you can to make sure that it is of high quality. You’ve added images. You’ve promoted it on social media. It’s out there.

Now what? 

We put so much work into our content that it’s a shame to see it relegated to the archives of our blog. This is where repurposing comes in. By repurposing our content for a new site or medium, we give it new life and expose it to more new readers. The big question you’re asking, then, is ‘where are the best places to repurpose my content?

You’re in luck. We have 50+ places that you can use to repurpose your content marketing.

50+ Places To Repurpose Your Content: The Ultimate Guide

 

Ever go back and forth on how often you should be blogging? Jules helps you figure out the best frequency for you and how to adjust when needed.

 

Sarah shares with us why she posts what she posts. It’s an extremely detailed breakdown of the main features and columns she posts on her site, the frequency of them and why she does it.

 

Don’t like to write? The ladies over at Braid Creative share the alternatives to blogging if you hate writing.

 

A look at how the business of blogging has changed over the years for Joy from Oh Joy!. She also has an awesome book on the topic here.

 

Rachel shares her journey to building a blog you love and what’s worked for her. 1st step — start with heart.

 

21 things you can do to start building a massively successful blog from the guys over at Fizzle.

 

Got any other great articles we should know about? Pop it in the comments below so we can check it out!

 

P.S.  I just launched the Creative Biz Kickstart DIY Coaching email series. In week 3, I share the exact editorial calendar I use to plan blog posts, newsletters and social media updates. Check it out if you’re looking for an affordable way to learn the essentials of running a creative biz online.

P.P.S. A post you may have missed: 3 things your blog is missing that could be costing you new clients and sales

 

Image via The Everygirl

POSTED IN: Weekly Links