Live Encore: Building a Thriving Creative Business | Bonnie Christine | Skillshare

Live Encore: Building a Thriving Creative Business

Bonnie Christine, Surface Pattern Designer + Artist

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9 Lessons (50m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:34
    • 2. Defining Your Dream

      5:16
    • 3. Creating Consistency

      4:00
    • 4. Planning for Productivity

      9:33
    • 5. Building an Email List

      6:52
    • 6. Adding Multiple Income Streams

      8:08
    • 7. Marketing From the Heart

      4:50
    • 8. Q&A

      9:14
    • 9. Final Thoughts

      0:36
46 students are watching this class

About This Class

Turn your business dreams into a reality with seasoned surface pattern designer and creative entrepreneur Bonnie Christine. 

Eleven years ago Bonnie Christine had a dream of building a career as a surface pattern designer—and no idea how to do it. Step by step, day by day, she figured it out, and today runs a seven-figure business, is able to live the kind of life she wants, and gets to do work she’s truly passionate about every day. 

If that sounds like what you’re looking to do, too, you’re in luck. In this 50-minute class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—Bonnie shares the top five things that have helped her business thrive.  

You’ll learn how to assess where you are in your creative business—and how to get real about where you want to go. You’ll get into the nitty gritty of strategies like having an annual plan for your business, building an email list, adding multiple income streams, and marketing without feeling gross about it. And, hopefully, you’ll walk away feeling like your dreams are totally possible and knowing the next steps you need to take to get there. 

Plus, along the way, students got to ask Bonnie questions, giving you even deeper insight into her creative process, work-life balance, and more. 

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While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Tell stories, lean into your values, show your personality, and provide value. Most of all be yourself the results can be truly amazing. Everyone my name is Bonnie Christine. I am a surface pattern designer which means that I get to create artwork for products around the world like fabric, wallpaper, and stationary. I am also an educator which means that I can teach you how to do the same thing. You may recognize my work from my classes here on Skillshare, and I'm probably most well known for my fabric collections with Art Gallery Fabrics. I've been in business as a creative entrepreneur for 11 years. I'm honored to run a multifaceted seven figure business while still maintaining balance being at home with my children, and being able to show up in my life. Today I'm going to be covering the top five things that I've implemented in my business over the last decade that will help you thrive in your own creative business as well. They have allowed me to accomplish my biggest goals, maintain balance, and make consistent progress. This topic is so important to me because one of my life's biggest callings is to help other creatives achieve their biggest goals and dreams as well. After taking this class I hope that you walk away feeling inspired, but also with plenty of actionable steps that you can take in your business to get started with right away. Something to note this class was recorded live, and I got to answer questions coming in from students during the actual session. Are you ready to get started? 2. Defining Your Dream: Hi everybody. My name is Tiffany Chow. I'm on Skillshare's community team and I will be the host for today's Skillshare live with Bonnie Christine. We're super excited to hear from her, around creating a thriving and authentic creative business. Awesome. Thank you everyone for joining. Let me tell you a little bit more about my why. I started my business in 2009. I had just graduated from business school when I realized that my biggest dream was to become a fabric designer. But I had no formal education in art or design and I felt like because of this, I had no place in the industry. I also had no idea how to get started. So at the time, what I did feel like I knew how to do was begin in the creative online atmosphere. So I began a blog, it was called Going Home to Roost and a shop where I sold handmade aprons and tea towels. I soon got some wind under my wings and was selling enough through my handmade shop to quit my day job. Soon after that, I sat down and I calculated exactly how much money I could make if I made as many aprons as I could in a day, aprons were what I was selling, and sold out of them every single time. At the end of my calculations, the potential for my annual income, it just really wasn't very much. That is when I got really clear on having three huge goals in my business. Number one was location freedom. I wanted to have complete location freedom. Yes. Meaning, I wanted to be able to work from anywhere in the world. Number two was time freedom. I wanted to be able to set my own hours. I wanted to be able to choose which days of the week that I wanted to work and which hours in those days of the week that I wanted to work. Even before I had children, I knew that I wanted to try to build a career that would allow me to work with my children alongside me. Then goal number three was financial freedom. The maximum annual income that I had just calculated, it wasn't exciting. That's when I got really clear that I wanted to create income that didn't have a ceiling to it. This was all done by focusing on residual and recurring revenue, which is something that we'll be talking about in a little bit as well. Going back to my biggest goal of being a fabric designer, or a surface pattern designer, I knew that a career in surface design would allow me to fulfill these three big goals. Only problem was, I could not have been further away from being a surface pattern designer at the time. I felt like I had this huge dream, but it felt incredibly overwhelming, intimidating, it made me feel vulnerable and honestly just felt too big. I even felt silly. I remember feeling silly sharing about this big dream with my family or my husband because I was so far away. Until about six months went by, and I remember waking up feeling like I hadn't done anything in efforts of moving towards my dream. That day I began doing one thing every single day to move me closer to accomplishing my dream. I became obsessed with doing just one small thing a day to the point to where I didn't miss a day. Everything looked different day-to-day. Sometimes it was five minutes of some research and sometimes it was eight plus hours of sitting and designing. But what this really allowed me to do was take my focus from the long-term, which was overwhelming, to focusing on what was right in front of me because I knew what I could do today to help me make progress on my dream. Meaning the very first day looked like me googling how to become a fabric designer. Then I would take the answers to the questions that I asked that day and the next day I would ask a new question and find a new answer to it. So while we may not know what's step 3,248 looks like, we'd likely do know what the very next step looks like. For me, this was where I made my biggest progress and I still use this technique today. So at the end of 18 months of doing one thing every day, I signed my very first contract as a fabric designer. That was in 2012. Fast forward another 10 years and I'm now fully thriving in all three of these big freedom goals. Today, I'm honored to run a multifaceted seven figure business while still maintaining balance, being at home with my children, and being able to show up in my life. It's been through setting these goals and then meeting them with intention every single day that they have come true. So that's what we're going to dive into today. 3. Creating Consistency: The first thing that we're going to cover is consistency and why long-term consistency is the biggest key to success. I love this quote, "Successful people do consistently what normal people only do occasionally." Consistency is key. Long-term consistency is key to making progress, it's what will put you ahead and it's about dedication, showing up over and over again and simply putting your head down and doing the work that sets your soul on fire. When you consistently keep showing up and producing good work, growth is the natural progression. I've seen so many people start out eager and excited, remain consistent for a few months, and then they fizzle out because they didn't see the progress that they wanted. That's okay because that's kind of what weeds out the weak. It's those who put in the long-term consistent efforts that bubble to the top, they rise to the occasion and they have years of consistently showing up. As long as you can stick with it, you will gain momentum. When I talk about consistency, there are really two different topics that it pertains to. Number 1, is consistency and effort. This is all about routinely creating new and original work and then sharing it wherever you choose to share your work. So on social media, on your blog through maybe a podcast or YouTube or e-mail newsletters, but once you begin something, your audience is going to want to know that you are reliable. Meaning you don't want to do a few months of podcasting every week and then fall off the face of the plan for several months because it destroys your trust with your audience. Consistency builds trust. It also makes people feel like you're reliable, like they can know what to expect from you and when our relationship is primarily online, this is really important, we don't have eye to eye, face to face connections to build trust, so consistency is the way that we must build trust online. Then the next one is consistency and appearance. This is all about your actual branding or your actual artwork or whatever it is that you have. The voice behind your brand and the look of your brand. Is your voice consistent between social media, e-mail responses, blog posts, podcasts, Is the look between your photographs and your artwork consistent across all of your platforms as well. There are no overnight successes, I want you to hear me on that, usually, I mean, almost 100 percent of the time, when you feel like there has been an overnight success, once you actually get to digging there are years and years of hard work put in before the success has come to fruition. Great things are done by a series of small things brought together, this is really my life motto by Vincent van Gogh. Let's go back to doing one thing a day and taking action on daily tasks. Doing one thing each day that moves you towards accomplishing your short-term goals will eventually also inevitably help you achieve your mid and long-term goals as well. These small actionable items are what will nudge you to move just a little bit forward every single day. I call them daily tasks, so your daily tasks should be small and feel very achievable. They may feel hard, like hard work, but they shouldn't feel overwhelming. It's through these small daily tasks that you will chip away at accomplishing your big goals and you will make a measurable progress over the course of just a few weeks, let alone a few months or a year. 4. Planning for Productivity: Next, we're going to talk about annual planning, and how it literally changed the entire trajectory of my business. So you can probably tell that I'm a bit of a time management or workflow nerd. So annual planning is one of my biggest passions, and also one of the things that really pushed my business to an entirely new level. So not having enough time, or not being able to focus, is hands down the number one struggle that I hear from my students, my members, but also my peers. I mean, anyone else struggle with just being able to focus? It used to be my biggest complaint as well until I began studying, and implementing time management skills, and workflow techniques. You might know that I have a whole skill share class on it called Focus to Flourish. So head over there for all of the techniques that I use in my business, but I want specifically, speak to annual planning. Before I started planning out my year in advance, I would find myself making inconsistent income. So for instance, I would have a top heavy year, or bottom heavy year. I would have a really great month, or two, followed by six months of dryness. So not a lot of income coming in. I would find myself saying yes to too many things, and literally feeling I was scrambling on a daily basis, to figure out what it is I needed to do. So we all probably strive to work for ourselves. Many of us do, or strive to work from home, and it's one of the biggest blessings I've had in my life. It also comes with quite a lot of responsibility, because if you work for yourself, and especially, if you work from your home, and on your own scheduling, you're in charge of your own schedule. If you're at home, you have a lot of things pulling at your attention. So that really would lead to the scrambling feeling me sitting down at the beginning of the day feeling what is it that I need to do today, in order to just make ends meet? It would also lead to a scrambling feeling of I need to make some income, and I have this idea, but my idea potentially won't make me any income for another six weeks, and I need income today. So it was this scrambling feeling of unrest. Now, after annual planning, I set aside a full day, or maybe two days at the beginning, or the end of every year, and this allows me to make a plan for the year. It allows me to space out my income, so that it is predictable, and it's reliable. It helps me never overbook myself, and it always has me focusing in the direction that I want to be working in. It also helps me build an enough lead time before an event, or a launch, or lease, so that I have enough time to speak about it to my audience. One of the biggest keys to success is really giving yourself a long runway to plan for an upcoming project, or lease, or launch. So having it on the calendar at the beginning of the year, will allow you to have that long runway, in order to start speaking up to it in advance. I want you to think about refining your schedule in your pace, by creating an annual plan that allows you to get into a methodical pace, where you consistently work, find a flow, and have plenty of margin, so that you can live your life. I want you to leave chasing the deadlines, and not scrambling feeling behind. If you would like, a principle for my class, Focus To Flourish, has a downloadable PDF, along with that course that has an annual plan built into it, so that you can have it on paper. So when you're ready to make a plan for your year, I always recommend putting down your family activities, your vacations, and your personal priorities first. This is where our priorities come into place. So family always comes first. Family activities, summer is usually lighter for me, because my kids are in school now. Putting your family first, then begin filling in the calendar with the deadlines that you already know of, and any business travel that you already have planned. Then work to schedule extra projects, launches, leases, and any other projects that you want to focus on. This should help you space out those things that you feel have made you income in the past, or have the potential to make you income over the coming year. That way, you can create some predictability to your business. Having everything evenly spaced out on your calendar, is also going to help you reduce your overwhelm, and help you understand when to say no, to extra commitments, because we know in order to say yes to the best things, we have to say no, to some really, really good things. Being selective and saying no, to even some of the good things, will help you fight, overwhelm, and ultimately allow you to say yes, to the best things that will help grow your business, and inspire your life. When you don't know what exactly it is on your calendar that's coming, it's really easy to say yes, to extra commitments too frequently, and then you run out of time to work on your business. So creating balance in your life is directly related to what you say yes to. We will have peers, we'll have friends, we'll have family, we'll have people approach us with opportunities, good opportunities, opportunities for interviews, and invitations, and lunch dates, and collaborations, and so many more things, and as you grow your business, the more opportunities that will come to you. How you handle these requests, will contribute to how balanced your life is. It's imperative that when you say yes, you understand what that yes is also meaning that you are saying no too. Of course, this is harder than it seems. It's hard to say no, but I love this quote by Seth Godin. He says, "You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly, and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work." I agree with that. Let's talk about batch working. So another favorite way that I like to make sure that I'm focusing, is through batch working. This means grouping similar tasks together to take advantage of your preparedness to do the task at hand. So many tasks, as we know, will have a ramp up period, a preparation period, and they will also have an unwinding period. So by batching tasks, you'll spend less time ramping up, and winding down, which equals more productivity. So for example, if you are a host of a podcast, you know that it takes time to set up a quiet place, get your mic setup, prepare for the show, and then break it all down. So the idea is that if you can do all of the preparedness work at once, and then batch record several episodes at one time, and then unwind, you've just been immensely more productive. Another way to implement batch working, is to designate time to set up your project when you have the time, bear with me, that will allow you to contribute 10 or 15 minutes at a time whenever you have it. So let me break that down. I call this finding time in the nooks and the crannies. For example, if you have 10 free minutes in a day, it may not feel enough time to begin a brand new project, a brand new painting. But if you had already prepared, and gotten out all of your supplies, and tools, then you could just sit down, and immediately start painting for 10 minutes. So for those of you who have a full-time job, or a side hustle, or part-time job, think about the ways that you could work perhaps over the weekend, or on your day off, to set yourself up for success, when you do have a short amount of time. A long time ago, I heard someone speak about how they never said I don't have time to dadadada. Rather, they said, "That's not important enough for me to make time for." This has really changed a lot for me, because the truth is, we make time for whatever is most important to us. What a mental shift that is. So 10 minutes here, and 15 minutes there, absolutely add up. So 15 minutes a day, adds up to 91 hours in a year. So the point is that we do have time, and we all have the same amount of time. We're just doing different things with it. 5. Building an Email List: I want to talk about e-mail list today because it's the number one thing I wish I would have started earlier in my business and today it's the number one way that I reach, connect and grow my audience. I have one question for you. If you woke up tomorrow and found that every single social media platform that you've been using had been completely erased, where would that leave your business? My point is this, it's very unlikely, but it is possible because we don't actually own our social media platforms or the followers that we have there, the person who owns the platform owns those. While they are an amazing place to connect with our followers, we don't ever want to build our entire business on borrowed land. So what do you do? You build an e-mail list. No matter what industry you are a part of, an e-mail list is going to absolutely be your biggest asset. Social media can feel safe, it can feel effective but the truth is, our accounts could disappear at the snap of a finger. Have you known of someone who's account got hacked or deleted? Statistics show that less than and 6 percent of people that are following us, are seeing the post that we make anyways. Alternatively, when you work to acquire a name and an e-mail address of someone who's actually interested in you and what you are doing. The results can be truly amazing. You get to be in control of how often you contact them, what you say, what you offer, and how personal you are with them as well. When it comes to emails, you on of course, someone can unsubscribe, but no one can take away your email list and there's no algorithm to figure out or to research or to beat. When you send an e-mail, you get to speak directly to the people who care about your business the most. E-mail lists feel personal because you have a direct line to speaking to the people who are invested in you as your business. It's a safe place to be yourself. It's a safe place to encourage your community and I believe always in serving my audience through my email list before I ever have anything sell to them. Working to provide value for free the majority of the time means that when you do have a paid offer, your list will likely be so excited to see it. Now that you know how important it is, let's talk about lists buildings. List building usually starts by inviting your followers to join your email list for regular updates. Once you get started with an e-mail list, you can then move on to more advanced growth strategies, which usually look like opt-in. An opt-in is just fancy marketing lingo for something that is so good that your audience is willing to give you their name and their email for in exchange. An example of this could be a coupon code, a discount, a link to a free book or free art printable. Maybe it's a resources and supplies list or your favorite tools. A checklist or literally anything that your ideal audience would love to have. Once you've set up an opt-in, you can share it anywhere and everywhere that you're already posting content. You can put it in your header, in footer, on your sidebar of your website. You can link to it on your social media platforms, you can put it on Facebook you can run ads to it. You can send traffic to an opt-in from any place that you're already hanging out online. If you have a podcast or YouTube channel you can send them there as well. Once you have a list, let's talk about how to engage your list. Once someone has joined your list, your mission is to connect with them and help them get to know who you are and you to get to know who they are. The best way to engage your list is to truly treat them like VIPs. Give them insider news, give them first access, give them behind the scenes peaks, give them discounts and shopping privileges, make them feel really special and honored to be on your list. I always suggest automating a welcome e-mail. As soon as someone gets whatever they have signed up for, so if they just want regular updates or they've committed to one of your opt-in offers, automatically have a written welcome e-mail that automatically gets sent. This is pretty easy to do in all major e-mail service providers. Your welcome email is really important because it's likely going to be the most opened email that you'll ever send. They have just signed up for your list so they are most likely to open the first e-mail that you sent to them. This is your chance to connect with them deeply. You want to introduce yourself and let them know how to get what they sign up for and what they can expect from being on your list. Then I suggest setting up a onboarding series. This is also called a nurture sequence. So a nurture sequence is typically three to six e-mails, it can be longer, that you have written in advance that you set on automation so that no matter when someone joins your list, you can rest assured that they're all getting the same onboarding experience. This would be an opportunity to just serve, let them know who you are, what you do, why you do it. Provide tons of value for free. You're not selling anything in this onboarding series. It is literally just an onboarding to who you are and an offer to connect deeper. It's easy to automate those that way, regardless of whether you joined my list today or someone joins it in six months, I can know that through the course of a few weeks, they'll all get the same information at the very beginning so that we can move forward from there. It's through the authentic willingness to serve your audience that you will begin to gain loyal followers. These people are the ones who will invest in your brand and what you have to offer for years and years. Remember, you should always have the goal of adding people to your list and serving them well, well before you have anything to sell them. 6. Adding Multiple Income Streams: Now I want to talk about adding multiple streams of revenue to your business through creating income streams of reoccurring and residual income. Let's revisit my story at the very beginning. Remember the shop that I told you about where I was selling handmade aprons and tea towels. When I sat down and calculated exactly how much money I could make if I made as many aprons as I could in one day, sold them every time, those numbers look like this. I could make 12 in one day and I would profit $15 on each of them, which would make me about a $180 a day or $46,000 in a year. If I did that five days a week and sold out every time, that's a key point, and sold out every time. Of course from that perspective, you could always hire help, or outsource or get manufacturing. But what this led me to believe was that first of all, I was trading time for money and I was exhausted, I did not want to make 12 aprons every single day. I was exhausted, and that's exactly what led me to the three huge goals of location freedom, time freedom, and financial freedom. Shortly after that realization, I pivoted my business to focus nearly 100 percent of it on residual or reoccurring income, and it's by far been the best thing that I've ever done in my business. There are many different ways that you can craft a career that builds these things into it, and creatives today are generally multifaceted, multi passionate, and are doing businesses with many different moving parts. But creating a diversified income means that you have multiple streams of income, a revenue coming in, so that if one ends, you can ramp up another part of your business so that the other one will flow. Let's pause to define both of these quickly. Residual income is when you continue to get paid after the work is done. Examples of these would be licensing, teaching online, and selling digital products. Teaching on SkillShare is a perfect example of residual income. You do the work once and then you get paid for overtime, and then recurring revenue is money that is predictable and highly likely to continue in the future. An example of this would be something like a membership site, and I know we are all probably all of us have multiple membership site based on subscription. Probably a SkillShare is reoccurring subscription, Netflix, all the things, we're probably likely all very involved with membership based products. For this, we're focusing on cash-flow received on a regular basis requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it after the initial work is done. I like to think about it as selling without a ceiling, meaning if once something is created, can you sell it over and over and over again? If the answer is yes, it is worth some consideration. My advice is to add to your income by adding multiple streams of revenue that have no ceiling to their success. Think about things that can make you money while you sleep, or things that can generate income based on percentages or something that you can do once and sell it over and over and over again. Some questions to ponder, if this has your gears turning are what are you an expert in? Or is there something that you feel like you have mastered that you could pass on to someone else? What problems do others face in your industry that you could help solve? What can you make once and sell over and over and over again? There are so many different ways to add different income streams, but let's talk about some traditional income streams first. Traditional would be selling original fine art prints or selling art prints, picking commissions for projects or art, or illustration work, illustrating for clients, creating artwork for things like logos, websites or invitations. A way to tweak that would be if you are creating what's like templates, you could design it once and sell it over and over again. But one-off design work would not be considered residual. Commissioned illustrations, for example, working at a large company producing one-off designs, booker editorial illustration, and a one-off product illustration. Now let's take a look at ways to create residual or recurrence streams of income. Over the years, I have implemented each one of these in my own business and today I have seven streams of residual or reoccurring income that I run in my own business. Let me break them down for you. Number one is teaching. Teaching courses do take a ton of effort, but they are an amazing way to create really both recurring and residual income, and so teaching on SkillShare is a perfect example. Licensing, most of the surface pattern design industry runs off of a percentage basis. After you license a piece of artwork, you'll get a percentage of the whole sale of that product. The income is entirely based on how well the product does in the market, but if a product explodes in the market, you could theoretically make millions of dollars. Because you can usually license the same artwork in several different industries, for example once in the wallpaper industry and then in the fabric industry, and then in the stationary industry at the same time, each pattern really has or each illustration has the potential to have an emits lifespan and generate income for years and years to come. Memberships. I have a monthly membership site. Also, box subscriptions and quarterly subscriptions are an amazing way to add stability and predictability to your income. Depending on what you offer, your workload may stay about the same regardless of how many people actually are part of your membership. Digital goods, these are probably the ultimate product when you think about making something once and selling it over and over again. Think about things like E-books, printable art prints, clip art, or like brand styling packages, fonts, sewing patterns, coloring books, video tutorials, anything that you can make once and offer to be purchased over and over again. Selling via POD. POD stands for print on demand. This is also similar to working with a drop shipper. You design a product once, you list it with a POD site, and then they do all of the fulfillment and you get a percentage of the sale brought back to you, can be a great way to add income. I have worked with like Society [inaudible] Shopify works with several drop shippers where you can literally design, say something like a mug or a t-shirt list it for sale in your shop, and then all of the fulfillment in the manufacturing gets taken care of at a third-party location, it is a really, really cool opportunity. Another great example of a POD site would be like Spin Flower, they do fabric and wallpaper, you can have a shop there. You design it once and allow people to come purchase fabric and wallpaper from your shop. Then I put in affiliate marketing here, which is probably usually more for an established business, but working as an affiliate for the products or the brands that you truly believe in, those things that you're already recommending to your friends and family as it is. If you can work as an affiliate for those products and brands, then that can also add an amazing piece of residual income as well. 7. Marketing From the Heart: Now we're going to wrap up this session by talking about heartfelt marketing and how you can sell authentically and unapologetically. This is one that I haven't spoken about very much, and it's one that I'm super passionate about. As creative entrepreneurs, I feel that one thing that we must overcome is that feeling that marketing and selling is slimy. Does anybody see used car salesmen image when you talk about marketing? I'm not sure why it is, but so many of us think of that when we hear the word marketing. But I want to just open your mind to a more heartfelt approach. I have seen countless creatives pour their heart and their soul into their marketing, and I have been happy recipient and customer to many of them. When you make it personal and you truly have a heart for the audience that you are selling to, then marketing becomes a joy for not only you, but for them as well. Can you think of the last time that you made a purchase and what made you click the buy button. Think about the last emotional purchase you made. Perhaps it was something that was a really big decision. Maybe it required a big sacrifice or signified a new direction that you wanted to take in your life. What made you purchase that? Did you enjoy the process of being sold to? If so, what about it did you enjoy? Maybe it was fun. Maybe it was inspirational. Maybe it was thought-provoking. Maybe it was just a really beautiful experience. But I encourage you to start paying attention to the times that you feel excited about making a purchase. Then working to deconstruct and reverse engineer the process to figure out what about it. You enjoyed. What about making that process? Like, I love being sold to when I'm being sold to well, in a thoughtful, beautiful way. We all have the capacity of doing that. Once you understand what makes an enjoyable purchasing experience, you can begin implementing those same concepts in your own marketing and your customers will enjoy the same experience as well. No matter what you sell, the secret to being truly confident is believing in what it is that you're selling. Having something that you believe in so profoundly that you feel like you're doing a disservice to the world by not telling them about it is the key to having a heartfelt marketing approach. For me, my personal example is that I know how life-changing it can be to learn Adobe Illustrator and create a career based on your artwork. It means that women or anyone can quit their day jobs and start working for themselves, or stay at home with their children, or maybe bring their partner home from the workforce. It means something incredible and it makes it really easy for me to talk about the classes that I do teach because I know how impactful they are. You don't have to be teaching something profound either. It can be any product or service. If you sell artwork, you are literally changing the way someone feels when they walk into a room, and you are doing a disservice to them if you don't tell them about this that you have to offer. It could be a new collection of prints or products. Whatever it is, knowing that it's making the world a more beautiful place is what will help you come to terms with your own marketing. Truly, the moment you embrace this perspective, your marketing will begin to flow and it's going to feel so much more natural. When you sit down to write an email, or a social media update, or a blog post. I suggest pretend that you're writing it to your best friend. Or if you've done an ideal client exercise, so you can write it to them. When you communicate, just know that it doesn't have to be proper and you just need to connect. You need to connect, share what you're doing and why you're doing it, tell stories, lean into your values, show your personality, and provide value. Most of all, when someone is in a buying experience, they just want you to be yourself. They want you to authentically show up and unapologetically tell them what you have to offer. 8. Q&A: Now, we're going to open it up to questions from the students in the audience. One of them is around your creativity. How do you tend to that and keep it alive and well, intuitively so that you're not just tending to the business side of things, but also your creative intuition? That's a beautiful question. Inspiration to me is fleeting, and it's one of the most essential ingredients in our work as a creative. I learned a long time ago that if I wait for inspiration to strike, it really never strikes, or it doesn't strike very often, and so I have really learned how to chase after what inspires me. I know what I need to do in order to get inspired or refreshed. For me, it's usually being outside, being in nature, going on a trip, going on a hike, but not just spending time in nature, but spending time in nature intentionally seeking inspiration. I will have a notebook with me, I'll have a camera with me, I'll have a sketchbook with me. I won't just be walking through the woods. I'll be walking with eyes that are searching for inspiration and things that I can draw in to use in my work. It's hard. Creativity and inspiration fluctuate, and so really stepping away from yourself and looking at your process from another perspective and noticing those dips, and noticing when you need to take a step away to avoid burnout. Probably one of the signs of a more mature or creative is being able to look in and recognize when you're close to burnout, and taking that opportunity to step away and replenish your inspiration, and your creativity while you still have the chance. That's great. Thank you. Do you have any other tips, especially on a daily basis for balancing family with your career, your business? Yes, I do. Goodness. I have a lot. It is hard to be a working mom. Also, one of the biggest joys I feel is to be able to do something that you're passionate about and let your children see that. My kids are six and four, so that's where I'm at. Let's see, for the first three years of me having children, so from ages 0-3, I was still running a bustling business. I think I taught my first skill start class in 2013, and that's the same year that I had my first child, and so I very much worked during that time. My kids don't nap anymore, so I have to really remember how it felt, but I was in that time, warrior. Nothing happened during that time other than the work that I had to have, and I actually feel like I wasn't a student of time management until I had kids, because before I had kids, I had the entire day to just waste time, do the endless clicking of internet, time wasting things. Then, I had children and all of a sudden I had to get everything done still. What I noticed was, after I had kids and I started working in that time, I was still able to accomplish roughly the same amount of things, which told me that I had spent lot of time not doing my most important work. This is when I really started to study time management, because if we are able to help ourselves focus, so remove all distraction, and then tackle the top three things, I like to do three, so I identify the top three things that I need to do in any given day, that will allow me to make the biggest progress like close out the day feeling like I did my best work. Before this, we all probably have many things that are work. Answering, e-mail, responding to comments, things that are work, but they're not actually the biggest works that we actually need to accomplish during the day. Focusing on those things and just drilling down and getting the biggest rocks done for every day, has been incredibly helpful for me. At about 3-4 year mark, so before that, my husband had a 9-5 job. At that point, I was able to bring him home from the workforce, and so he has really been able to take care of the kids, and it has been an absolute life-changing experience for both of us. We are all still together now, but he is just incredibly helpful. I would say if you have someone in your life, maybe it's a friend or a mother-in-law or a mom, or a husband who can step in and help, even if it's just for an hour or two a week, ask for it and use that time to do your best work. But know that your work and your creativity and your passions are absolutely beautiful and they deserve attention, and they deserve the time, and your children will love seeing you do what you love. That's wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that. Any specific tips or tricks that you had to implement since the pandemic hit and people are at home more? Yes, because David and I, my husband, had gotten pretty comfortable with the school schedule and so schools out, so I have worked less. I have worked more with them alongside me. I honestly don't. Just good luck. That's pretty much my, I don't think anybody is thriving. We are all stuck at home. I have terrible internet at my house, and so that always makes it interesting. But I would say the last thing that I tried really hard to do is, as a creative entrepreneur, our work never ends. There is always one more thing that could be done, and so when I realized that, it helped me really do a hard shift away from work and to my family, and it doesn't come natural for me. I have to be really intentional with, "Okay I'm closing work and now I'm being present with my family." My family knows when I'm trying to multitask. My kids know when I'm snuggling with them on couch, but I have my phone in my other hand, and I don't want to be a multitasking mom. I want to be a fully present mom, so really every single day, making an effort to do a hard shut off on my work and hard turn-on to my family so that I can be fully present, makes the time that I'm at work better and it makes the time that I'm with my family better. That is what I would suggest. Even if you are working at home during the pandemic and your kids are alongside of you, just breaking for them and being fully present, and then doing a big re-shift to get back into work. It is hard. It feels like you have to zoom out and zoom in to your work when it's so integrated, but we're all going to make it. Yes. Thank you so much. Yes, that was a great question. How do you keep track of all the ideas that you can't do right now, but want to return to later? Yeah. I have notebooks and upon notebooks, upon notebooks of things. But if it's an idea that I know, I want to actually move on, I'll put it on my calendar, and so as I speak about annual planning, and I can't tell you how much I do, but this is, can you see my calendar back there? It's an eight foot year annual calendar that you can erase every year and fill back in at the beginning of every year, so if it's something that I actually know that I want to achieve, I will make space for it on my calendar and write it out. That allows me to stop thinking about it until it's time to start thinking about it. Which also helps reduce overwhelms so that you don't have this huge list of to-dos in your minds, by getting them out of your mind, and in a place that you have made room for them, really gives you permission to not even think about them until it's time to start. Awesome. Love that. 9. Final Thoughts: Thanks everyone so much for watching my Skillshare live class recorded with participation from the Skillshare community. I hope that you leave here feeling inspired and ready to take action in your own creative business. Just remember, go back to doing one small thing every day that gets you closer to achieving your dream. You won't believe how far you'll come in just a few weeks, months, and years. It always seems impossible until it is done and then everything seems possible. I can't say thank you enough for making the time to join us today. Bye everybody.