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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Destri from The Mother Huddle :: The theme for this month is Advice For Starting and Growing a Creative Business :: Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.

Destri :: The Mother Huddle

I have a special treat in store for you with today’s guest. AmberLee owns Ticket Kitchen Chocolate and is the founding editor of Giver’s Log. She is quite possibly the nicest person I have never met — but hope to. She is always generous in sharing her knowledge, and the perfect example that if you’re nice to people and work hard, you can’t fail.
AmberLee bio

About AmberLee and Her Creative Businesses 

I am AmberLee Fawson, mom of three plus one on the way (this will be my second time having a summer baby! bring it on). I live in a little country house in northern Cali and love it. I am also a chocolate maker and make gourmet Hot Chocolate on a Stick and other chocolate goodies, which you can find at my shop, Ticket Chocolate. I am a huge chocolate fanatic, in fact, I consider a good cup of hot chocolate to be a side dish, and nothing makes me happier at lunch time than a big bowl of greens with some Trader Joes croutons and a cup of Bolivian bittersweet hot chocolate on the side. And finally, when I have a free moment I like to read, cook, go on unhurried walks with my kids, or blog about my favorite projects and recipes at Giverslog.
AmberLee in warehouse

Best Advice I’ve Been Given

For me, when it comes to my blog and my shop, there are two kinds of advice.

The first kind of advice is just good business advice. I am always amazed at how much I have to learn, how much I am always learning in my third year of business and fifth year of blogging now, and I always appreciate a few words of solid wisdom.

I think the best advice I ever heard was from a podcast (Stanford’s business school offers the podcasts). One of the speakers said something like this: If you have an idea, don’t wait for it to be perfect before you launch it. Don’t tweak it and polish and perfect it before you offer it to your fans and customers, because who knows, your customers might want something a little different anyway. Just put something out there, a product, a blog post. Your early adopters or first readers will be your best friends and really help you hone in on what you do best.

The second kind of advice might be the advice I appreciate most. It is the advice from other busy moms about how to balance, how to make it all pay off and be worthwhile. There is really nothing like making deicisons of what pressures to put on yourself, of what to say to and what to say no to when you are a mom.

One of my favorite pieces of advice came from a friend, who is a mom of seven now and who runs her own business from home. She taught me that life is tricky when you are a competent person. When you’re competent, you know how well you could play every part in your life. Your pantry could be organized, your dinners could be delicious and interesting, you could be the world’s best room mom for your child’s classroom, you could show up with warm chicken noodle soup at the door step of anyone who needs it. But as you are picturing all this, you neglect to notice that all those things take not only competence, but hours. Lots and lots of hours. So it’s okay to let your standards drop a little in some areas, in fact, it’s often the only way to get your most meaningful work done.

A big thank you to AmberLee for stopping in to share her wisdom today. I told her that last bit could have been written just for me… well the first too!

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Destri from The Mother Huddle :: The theme for this month is Advice For Starting and Growing a Creative Business :: Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.

Destri :: The Mother Huddle

Books

Today I thought it would be helpful to share some of our favorite books. Books that motivate us, instruct us, and inspire us in our creative businesses. Just like last week, I will share my favorites, and then ask you to share yours with me.

I never realized the world of inspiration and motivation that can be supplied in a book. To be honest, I didn’t even like reading until my early twenties when I found myself without a TV or car and a box of novels my mom had sent me. Having nothing else to do, I picked one up and read straight through the night. I’ve always had a book on my night stand since.

Up until two years ago my list compromised fiction and historical fiction. Then I read a list, much like I will present here, of must read books for the new entrepreneur. I read one, that lead to another, I saw more “must read lists” and before I know it I am an information/inspiration book junkie. They keep me motivated, and on particularly hard days, I can pick one up and find the inspiration and enthusiasm I need to keep going. Every creative entrepreneur should have a pile of books like that.

My favorite Books That Help Me Stay Motivated, Educated, and Inspired

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield - Favorite quote from the book:

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and over think and hesitate.”

I can be a bit of a procrastinator and this book provides a serious kick in the pants. It is written with someone trying to start or finish writing a book in mind, but anyone trying to accomplish anything in a creative field will relate to it. It may be a little unorthodox to some, I am sure ten years ago I would have had a very hard time getting into it. But most in the midst of creative entrepreneurship will love it.

Start With Why by Simon Senek - favorite quote from the book:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

This book opened my eyes in a big way. It made me realize that if you share your story… your why, you can create a following that will love to support you, simply because they connect with it. This is essential for a creative business, because they almost always have a very powerful “why” behind them.

The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield - favorite quote from the book:

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Again, like Do The Work, this book is a little unorthodox, but that is why I love it. I think the very idea that you can be successful and make a great living doing something you love is unorthodox these days. Steven makes an excellent case as to why it is vital that we find “our art” and live it. This book also introduces you to the resistance most creatives experience, and how to fight against it.

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte – Favorite quote from the book:

No really, just stop it. If you’re going to realize your intentions, what you stop doing is just as important as what you want to start and continue to do. This is where “quitting” crosses over to enlightenment. Stopping = the white space. Stopping = room to run free and create from the deepest place of being without restraint or compromise. Stopping = more time for what matters most…. Stopping what’s distracting, draining, or aggravating doesn’t require any heavy lifting or extra stamina – just love and self-respect.”

I think the one thing I can say about this book, is it gave me permission. It also made me stop and really identify what it is I want to accomplish in my life. I was really surprised with how much this book helped me change the way I look at all the things in my life. It made me want to live more authentically and hold myself accountable for my own happiness.

There you have it, my four go-to books that have influenced my creative business and life. I have a few self-help books that I love, but that’s an entirely different list!

Now, I would love to hear your favorite books. I would particularly love to find some books that help with the practical building stones of a successful creative business. Taxes, accounting, contracts… the stuff I tend to avoid reading about :). I would love to go to book that I can just pull out when I have a question. Do you have one?

Destri

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Destri from The Mother Huddle :: The theme for this month is Advice For Starting and Growing a Creative Business :: Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.

Destri :: The Mother Huddle

These days, it can seem like anything that can be done, has been done and that the web is saturated with creative businesses. This can make many feel like there is nothing left for them, that it’s too late and they missed the boat. Please, please don’t buy into that!

It’s true, there are many online creative businesses out there.  Hundreds of thousands of them, and guess what, hundreds and thousands of them are successful in one way or another.  That is the very reason you should be excited.  That means that success is possible for you.

In my post on How I Define A Creative Business I talked about how a creative business starts from a single idea, then the excitement follows with more ideas. The problem is, generally right after that we find all sorts of reasons why it won’t work.  One of the top reasons I hear from people when they decide not to pursue their creative business is “someone else is already doing it” or “there is too much competition”.

But see in that excuse, you find your answer.  YOU aren’t doing it.  Your competitor can’t be YOU.  I know you have probably heard this a dozen times before, and it can seem so generic-but it is the golden ticket.

So let’s just clear the water before we move on.  It’s not too late.  The internet is not going anywhere, and the amount of people that will be on the internet in five years is likely to increase more than 30%.  Every year there is a new blog platform that comes onto the seen that is the similar to TMH that just knocks it out of the park. They didn’t stop and look at what I and hundreds of others were doing and find a reason not to do their thing.

I don’t look at their success as discouraging-on the contrary, I find it encouraging.  That means there is so much more I can do and so many more areas to explore for success in my business.  The day no new competition comes and finds ways to be successful in my market would be a very discouraging day for me.

I started to write this post some time ago and hit a wall, and then last week came across Pat Flynn’s post Are You Taking Advantage Of Your Unfair Advantage? and found what I was wanting to express in one paragraph:

Competition is a good thing – you’ve heard me say this before. Coming in later in the game is an advantage because you can see what existing businesses are doing right and what they’re doing wrong. You can be a consumer before you become a company, and can better understand the experience that customers currently have, and what options are available to them in today’s market. You have the ability to come in and reshape that customer experience in whatever way you’d like.

Perfect.  I encourage you to go read the post and then I would like to take it a step further for helping you stand out with your creative business with a few actionable steps you can take.

How To Stand Out In A Crowded Market:

  1. Be the most authentic version of you you can be. Write the way you would talk to a friend.  Stand on your soapbox.  Be vulnerable.  Share your failures. Share your victories.  That one thing you’re scared for people to know about?  Share it. This will allow you to create a following that can connect with you.  Not everyone will – but those who do, will love you and want to support you.
  2. Find your way to be different. Instead of trying to do exactly what your competition is doing only ten times better, find a way to do it different.  In doing this you will tap into an untouched market and eliminate your competition because you are offering something they are not.  Then, you can actually collaborate with your competition and share your market.  A great book to help you with this is The Blue Ocean Strategy.
  3. Pinpoint your ideal reader/customer. – this is so important, and a step we are now working on with TMH.  Who is it you are trying to reach?  Get specific- age, gender, location, occupation, lifestyle. What does she like to do?  What are her worries, troubles, and concerns?  Write a very detailed description of this ideal person and get to know her – then write for her, create for her, and address her problems in everything you do for your business.  This is how a loyal readership and customer base is created.  It’s extremely hard to make everyone happy and be successful – on the other hand if you find a targeted niche and remain loyal to it, it’s hard to fail.
  4. Play big from the start.  The simplest way I can define this is: Imagine where you hope this creative business to be in five years – think about it’s success, how you have grown, and how it makes you feel.  Now live and work from that perspective.  People trust and admire confidence, but remember that most people have a degree of humility after having found such success – you must assume that too.

I know that the four steps above may seem obvious – but the truth is a majority of online businesses aren’t doing them.  Go and study the most successful competition in your market, and chances are they’ve nailed every single one.

Now a few practical steps to standing out:

  • Invest in a domain name and host.  I get asked this all the time, and it goes back to this question – is this your hobby, or creative business? Remember, play big from the start.
  • Keep a clean and organized website.  You don’t have to invest a ton of money for a great looking site – find a premium platform and start with simple.
  • Great images are essential.  If you have ten websites all with the same content and selling the same product – the one with the best images will win hands down.
  • Brand your business – this goes for your creative business copy, collateral, and online image – keep everything cohesive and identifiable across your brand.

Okay, now it’s your turn.  What ways have you found to make your creative business stand out?  In what ways do some of your favorite businesses stand out?

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Destri from The Mother Huddle :: The theme for this month is Advice For Starting and Growing a Creative Business :: Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.

Destri :: The Mother Huddle

Today we have one of my favorite ladies on the net joining us. She is the founding editor of the popular blog Modern Parents Messy Kids. Stephanie is crazy smart and works harder than any blogger I know. What I love most about Stephanie is that she is continually taking her work and blog to the next level. She thinks outside of the box and is always finding new ways to bring value to her readers.

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About Stephanie and Modern Parents Messy Kids 

Stephanie Morgan is mom to two young children, a style and parenting blogger, and the founder of the popular lifestyle site Modern Parents Messy Kids (MPMK for short). MPMK provides daily inspiration to thousands of parents on how to engage with their kids, get organized, and create a stylish home. It was voted Best Craft Blog in Parents Magazine and one of babble.com‘s Top 50 Craft Mom Blogs. It has also been featured by Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, HGTV, Apartment Therapy, Parents Magazine, Family Fun Magazine, and the Huffington Post.

The Best Advice I’ve Been Given

I think the biggest thing that I struggle with is work/life balance (not an original problem, I know). Along those lines, I’d have to say some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten pertaining to my work is to remember that I don’t have to accomplish it all right away.

I initially got into this field because I was looking for an outlet — and boy did I find one! I’ve been so very blessed by the growth of my career over the past few years but at times I have to stop and remind myself to slow down. That one of the biggest perks of this job is having flexibility and being able to be home with my kids. And that I can’t take every opportunity that comes my way. Doing so diminishes that perk as I become more and more preoccupied and stressed — my mind always on work, even when I’m not in front of a computer.

One of my closest blogging friends made a new work mantra for 2013 that I love: Work smarter, not harder. So that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Instead of having a presence on every social network that comes along, I’m focusing on the channels where I connect most with my readers. Similarly, I’ve cut back on the number of sites I contribute for — once again focusing on quality over quantity.

As always, I’m a work in progress, but I’m slowly learning how to focus on the projects I enjoy the most and to let the rest go (for now).

A big thanks to Stephanie for stopping in today and sharing her wisdom. It goes perfectly with a part of the series I have coming up!

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Destri from The Mother Huddle :: The theme for this month is Advice For Starting and Growing a Creative Business :: Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.

Destri :: The Mother Huddle

As part of this series, I thought it would be fun if we shared some of our favorite resources with each other. Online resources we use, books we’ve read, tools we use, and people we love to frequent for the inspiration they provide. Remember sharing time in elementary school? It was my favorite. And I couldn’t think of a better name, so we’ll roll with it :).

Here’s how it’s going to work — once a week I will get the conversation going by sharing my favorites, and then in the comments I hope you’ll share with me and the others following the series your favorites. Remember the theme of our series — everyone has something they can share that may be incredibly helpful to someone else. That includes you.

Today we’ll share our favorite online resources. This includes courses, ebooks, how-to blogs, blogs on creative business-basically any online resource that has helped you start and grow your business. Here are mine:

My Favorite Online Resources

  • Heartmade — I love Mayi and her advice… to pieces. She also has a Life Is Messy Boot Camp that looks perfect for those in the trenches of creative business making, baby raising, dinner making, messy life in general that is in need of some creative direction.
  • Oh My Handmade — Great advice for any creative business. If I have a question, or am looking for an answer I know a quick search will on Oh My Handmade will either have an answer or point me in the right direction.
  • Marie Forleo’s B-School — I took the course last year and loved it. Her style is not for everyone, but that is the key thing I took away from training — you can’t be everything for everyone, and if you are you’ll never succeed.
  • Smart Passive Income — While not completely relevant to my work which is anything but passive, I love Pat’s podcasts and articles and find I always walk away with some value I can implement in my business.
  • Pro Blogger — It’s a classic and the writes are constantly on the cutting edge of the industry. If you are just starting out, Darren’s ebooks are perfect for getting you started and headed in the right direction.
  • Google — I know generic, but if you are going to be successful in this industry you MUST get a “I can figure it out” mentality, and google is the very best resource to do it.  Anything you want to learn, have a question on, or are trying to figure out has been written about. If not, figure it out, write about it and consider that your golden opportunity :).
  • Lynda’s Classes — Learn to make beautiful videos, use photoshop, make vector artwork… just about anything through this online video training platform. A lot of times when I ask someone where they learned a certain skill this is where they send me.
  • Philosophers Notes — I was just recently introduced to this site and I love it. Think cliff notes for inspirational and self-help books. You get all the best little nuggets of a book, a big dose of inspiration, in 6 pages.

One word of advice on using and reading online resources. It can be very easy to spend an entire day, week, month, year… reading and using these resources all in the name of knowledge and building your skills. It is my favorite form of resistance and I often use it as an excuse to put things off.

If you’re just reading and researching, you’re not doing the work. It is only the wisdom you learn put into action that will help you grow your business. Plain and simple. Set a time each day or week to allow for a little research and reading on your business, but make sure the time you actually work at least doubles that.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What online resources do you find to be helpful for building your creative business? I hope you share!

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