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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!

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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.

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