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Loft 06 - NEW EPISODES

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June 20, 2019

The Creative Process – One of the most intriguing things about life is the presence of non-stop Self Discovery. I can pretty much say without a doubt that I can’t name the last day that I had where I didn’t learn something absolutely new. Maybe it was about my business; my clients, my design direction. Or it’s quite possible that it was about my own personal relationships, habits (good and bad), strengths, weaknesses, or well being. It’s also possible that I learned more than one thing that day (yup, it happens!) and it is a combination of the above. Either way, the moral of the story, is I learn something new daily, whether I seek to or not. To me, it is just a part of the process.

Now, some of you may thinking, I don’t actually learn something new everyday, maybe once or twice a week, but not daily. Or maybe you  don’t remember the last time you learned something completely and utterly unique to your experience. My response to that is that it’s nearly impossible for that to be true.

How do you “know” what you learned if it doesn’t seem like your day was extraordinary? This is where we must start to think about intentional living, constructive flow of though, and self awareness. To get you started, simply get yourself a pretty journal or pull up a new document on your Mac, and answer the following questions throughout your day. Sometimes I even ask myself these questions mentally more than once a day, and I feel better for it.

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What can I do to take better care of myself?
  • What do I love about myself?
  • What are my current priorities?
  • What would make me happy right now?
  • What am I happy about right now?
  • Who inspires me most right now? What do I love about that person?
  • What do I need more of in my life?
  • What do I need less of in my life?
  • If I could share my message with the world, what would it be?

These answers may change monthly, or daily, or even by the hour in some circumstances! That is life! But each time the answer changes, ask yourself what you learned or experienced that changed your response? There must be something, and the better you get at recognizing those moments in your life, the more in tune with your own needs and wellness you will be AND the more creatively you will run your business and your personal life. Give it a shot for one month. I dare you.

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June 10, 2019

DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.

Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.

Self Discover for the Creative Process - The Art Of

Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.

  1. The “Nothing you do will make me happy” Client:

We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.

While it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.

At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.

2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:

This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.

Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.

3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:

Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.

I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it,  and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically, I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.

Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.

I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!

Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.

As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.

4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:

If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.

WAYS YOU CAN COMBAT NEGATIVE SITUATIONS/CLIENTS FROM DAY ONE:

  • First of all, make sure you have an iron clad contract. Make sure that each and every client that books with you signs that contract, no exceptions.
  • Provide your clients with a fact sheet, timeline, or informational package that will lay out the process of your services, the timeframe it takes you for each milestone along the way, and what they can expect from their finished product. Providing them with as much information as possible directly out of the gate will alleviate any confusion later if the client tries to insinuate that they aren’t happy because you didn’t follow protocol.
  • If things start to take on a negative vibe during your process, gently but firmly guide the clients attention back to the positive and let them know that you are doing your very best for them. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to not allow their mood to alter your work. It is super hard, but if you can maintain a positive attitude even when they are creating stress for you, they will not be able to point at you as the reason they are unhappy.
  • Have a solid questionnaire that will help them to do a bit of self discovery and will get them in the brainstorming mindset.
  • Ask the right questions. Find out where their head is at from the start and utilize any information that you have received.
  • Be very honest from the beginning of the project.  Insure that they understand that  you have a specific style of work, and that if they aren’t already in that mindset and know that they want that style, you may not be the right fit for them. Help them go through your portfolio so they understand what they will be receiving if they hire you, and if they get off track during the project, kindly remind them of your creative abilities and portfolio.
  • Let them know that you offer only a certain number of revisions and ask them if they are comfortable with that before beginning. If they truly don’t know what they want, they may realize that they need more time to think prior to spending money on a project that may end up costing them a fortune.
  • Document any and all agreements, revision requests, edits; etc. This will save you a great deal of hassle if a problem should ever arise.
  • Last, but definitely not least, remember that while most of your clients are going to be beautiful people, you can’t allow a few bad experiences to jeopardize your success. These are all learning experiences that you will have during the process of running your business, and has absolutely nothing to do with your amazing talent and creativity. Power through the stressful events and take what you have discovered with you to the next level.

Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!

See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

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June 5, 2019

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

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November 18, 2018

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

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July 29, 2018

Are you a wedding vendor? Do you operate a venue for marriages? If you so, you want to make sure you’re getting the attention of all potential clients. If you are interested in learning more about how to grow your business or exposure simply you can visit here and you can learn all the great benefits of growing a business.

Here are a few of the ways you’ll be able to drive sales with SEO:

Auditing

Your site probably isn’t getting the kind of search traffic that you want it to. Why? When you meet with an SEO company, an in-depth audit will be one of the first things that they do. Once they’ve found the source — or sources — of your SEO woes, they’ll work to correct the problem. They’ll know what your problems are, and will then work to come up with solutions to all of those problems. When you collaborate with an SEO expert, it’ll be easy for you to correct and improve your site so that it gets the kind of traffic you’re looking for.

You’ll Be Able To Use The Right Keywords

Keywords are an essential component of SEO. If you invest in SEO, you’ll be able to work with an agency that has access to the best keyword tools. The SEO team will find out the terms that wedding planners in your area are searching for. From there, they will make sure that those keywords appear in the right places on your site. If you’re able to improve your keyword usage, you are going to see a big surge in traffic.

Optimized Images

If you’re like most wedding vendors, you probably have a lot of images on your website. However, those images may not be optimized for search engines. The right SEO company will be able to help you to capitalize on every image you have on your site? The quality of the pictures on a site is hugely important to potential customers. If potential customers aren’t able to see images of your venue or services, they may wind up working with someone else. Beyond that, it’s important to make sure that search engines can see and recognize your images. You can get a lot of search traffic from properly optimized images.

You’ll Be Able To Beat Your Competitors

You probably have some competition from other vendors in your area. If you opt to work with seo agency, you’ll have the edge over any business that is competing with you. If your competitor’s websites are appearing above yours in search engine rankings, the SEO agency that you work with will try to find out why. From there, they’ll work to improve your site’s rankings so that potential customers will be able to see your site first.

They’ll Improve Your Site

If your site loads in slowly, you should know that that’s probably impacting your search rankings. A slow site is also frustrating to customers. SEO agencies will make sure that your site loads in quickly and is easy to navigate. They will also ensure that your site works on mobile devices. A lot of people browse the web through their phones and tablets, and you need to ensure that your website will display correctly on all of these devices. It’ll boost your search rankings, but it will also please your clients. It’s a win-win scenario!

Quality Link Building

Link building is an essential part of any SEO strategy. However, these links need to come from high-quality, authority sites. The top SEO firms have plenty of connections, and they’ll be able to make sure you get links from the appropriate sites. Don’t waste your money on link packages; this can harm your site. Instead, invest in an SEO package. You’ll be able to build links and reap the other benefits of working with a professional SEO service.

So Much More

Yes, there so much more than we could have mentioned but this article could have crossed over 2,000 words, so if you did like us to write more about this feel free to contact us and let us know about this topic.

If you want to drive more wedding sales, you need to put money in SEO. If you pay for SEO services, you’ll certainly wind up seeing a return on your initial investment. In the world of business, SEO services are always going to be something that is worth paying for.

Original Content courtesy of Lisa Voice of Oh, How Charming. Find it here! 

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July 29, 2018

Building routines and habits can be difficult. Just when we think we’re settled on a routine, life throws unexpected challenges; it’s not easy to always maintain a regular schedule. For me, I always begin thinking about how I spend my time in spans of years and quarters, and then work my way down to the daily routines. By doing so, I align my schedule to my priorities at that particular moment.

My current top priority is my daughters. I’m now at a stage where the goal is to work as efficiently as possible, and spend as much time as I can with my children. In the hopes of helping people who are trying to set up a routine that sparks joy, below I share five key elements that keep me productive while balancing personal life and work, and of course, spark joy.

Morning Routine

I usually wake up around 6 a.m. with my daughters. When I get up, I open all the windows to let fresh air in, then burn incense to cleanse the air. I strive to keep my home comfortable and filled with clear energy throughout the day, so starting off the day this way sets me on track. Next, I give a little prayer to thank my family and team members’ health, and renew my resolve to do as much as I can that day.

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Routines Before Work – Getting Dressed and Writing To-do Lists

Before I begin my work day, I get dressed, even if I am working from home that day. Getting into work clothes sets me up to be productive. As for picking out what to wear, I usually rely on my instincts. I am a tidying consultant with an organized closet, but not a professional when it comes to fashion coordination. I sometimes take quite a while picking out an outfit, before settling on one!

Once at my desk, I make it a rule to write out my tasks for the day. I put down everything on this list, from folding the laundry to answering emails. When I’m done with a task, I put a checkmark beside it. Seeing the checkmarks at the end of the day creates a sense of accomplishment.

 

Coordinating with My Husband

Sharing and discussing our to-do lists with my husband have been vital to being effective and productive as a couple. Here is a tip you can try today, especially if you have a partner at home: when we got married, my husband and I wrote out every household chore and put it in a shared spreadsheet. When one of us finished a task, we would put a “◎” next to it, and when the other person noticed it, we would send a simple “thank you” message. This process helped us realize the number of tasks necessary to live comfortably together, and what kinds of tasks are better suited for which one of us. My husband loves to cook, and I like to clean and tidy. Other things fell into place naturally. It was so helpful that we had finished this process before having children. We don’t share a spreadsheet for household chores anymore now that we have established a rhythm, but we do share our work schedules.

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Clearing My Mind

When I need to sort out my thoughts, I write out everything on my mind on a blank sheet of paper. I try to figure out any tangled feelings or reasons for worry or anxiety, think of a solution, then write down an action plan on my calendar. I make sure to clarify what issues I can and cannot control. For example, I used to get slightly upset when my children woke up during work hours, but now I understand this is out of my hands. Just clarifying what is out of my control helps me calm down. Otherwise, when I am burnt out and need to rewind, I forget everything and wipe the floor. Keeping my hands busy helps my mind calm down.

 

Nighttime Routines

My nighttime routines are built around the priority of spending quality time with my children. After wrapping up my work around 6 p.m., I eat dinner at home with my family, or sometimes invite friends over. Before putting my kids to bed, I make it a daily routine to read aloud picture books to them. Once they are asleep, I change the water in the flower vases and put things in the house back in its place. This process is very smooth as every item already has a home, so I can usually do this within 10 minutes. As I put my things back in their place, I thank them for their hard work for the day. Before going to bed, I spray natural aroma oils – my favorites are lavender or Japanese wood – in my bedroom.

 

In Conclusion

Beneath the various routines I have shared above is the simple key of prioritizing what sparks joy. Having this philosophy at the center of everything I do helps me focus on what I value. If you are struggling to figure out what sparks joy for you, my first advice is to tidy your home! Once you are done thoroughly tidying up, you will find it easy to keep your office, home, and your mental space, clear and focused. By being surrounded only by the things that spark joy, your life naturally begins to regain its clarity.

Original Content and Images courtesy of Marie Kondo. Find her here!

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July 28, 2018

Hey there friends!

Today I’m excited to talk a little bit about something that’s quickly becoming a favorite topic of mine – diversifying your income!

After building a successful six figure wedding photography business, I began to realize that as much as I love wedding photography and the opportunity to provide such an important, emotional service to couples I adore, I love the challenge of building a business just as much! Between the curiosity about other kinds of businesses and wanting to save a few more weekends per year for time spent with my friends and family, I began to think about diversifying our income.

Since then, I’ve begun building out a new branch of my business focusing on educating my fellow photographers, and my husband and I bought a little chalet in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just outside of North Conway, to renovate, redecorate, and Airbnb out!

Both have been SO much fun, so fulfilling, and the extra income they bring in has been awesome – in the month of July alone, our Airbnb brought in enough revenue to cover its own mortgage for SIX months! Since both are relatively passive, it’s also given me some time to discover and explore new passions, and who knows… maybe down the road those will lead to even more ways to diversify my income!

At this point, diversifying my income has become my #1 priority. Let’s chat about why you should be thinking about doing it too, and how to set yourself up to diversify intelligently!

 

First, let’s dive into the why.

Diversifying your income is awesome for SO MANY REASONS, my friends! If you lose your job or your business starts losing steam or your family dynamics change or your health changes, having a few different income streams will make it much easier to weather. The good old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” cliche is on point here.

It makes you a better business person. As you learn new skills, dive into new interests, and add in new income streams, you’ll inevitably begin thinking outside the box for your main career. Adding these new areas to my business has made me look at my wedding photography business in a completely different light. Try adapting techniques that are commonplace for the new income streams to your main career/business, and see where that takes you!

Career Flexibility. These days, it’s not unusual for people to have several different careers. Diversifying your income makes it much easier to transition career-wise or try new things out without as much risk. It’s much easier to replace 40% of your income than it is to replace 100%!

It keeps you from getting bored and stale. This one sounds kind of silly, but it’s actually a super important one for me personally. I’ve noticed that when I’m into something, I do it super well and with lots of passion. When I’m feeling burnt out, bored, or disinterested, it takes a LOT more energy to deliver the level of service I expect of myself! Keeping things varied and fresh (and taking the pressure off of any ONE thing to be the ONLY thing you focus on/make money from) really helps me stay motivated and passionate about everything I’m doing.

It allows you explore new passions. I honestly think the spice of freaking LIFE is just trying out and learning new things! When you’re always looking to diversify your income, it becomes extra fun to try new things, because you never know if it’ll lead to yet another income stream! Even $100/month extra in income from a new source can make a huge difference in your life!

It expands your network. The people you’ll meet or cross paths with thanks to your new income streams may end up being customers of your main business, may offer you your next job, may introduce you to your next big client… you never know!

 

Now, onto the how!

One of the main things I’ve learned while diversifying my own income is that, if you’re able to, structure your CURRENT business or job in a way that allows you to have a few extra hours per week to play with.

It can be tough to really get into trying new business ideas or learning new things when you’re feeling stretched thin. This isn’t necessary for diversifying, but if you can do it, I can’t recommend it enough. It’ll put you in a position that makes diversifying feel easy, fun, and exciting rather than draining.

When deciding to diversify, start with what you’re already doing. Can you find a way to serve a DIFFERENT set of people with the skills/products you have now? Or can you find a way to serve your current customers in a way that’s adding something new?

Or, do you already have a skill or passion that you’re curious about monetizing? Try it out! It’s great to be in a position and mindset of just experimenting since your main job/business is covering your regular bills. And don’t forget that reduction of bills by sharing something you already have (like carpooling!) counts as diversifying your income, too!

Original Content and Images courtesy of the extremely lovely Emily Tebbetts. Find her here!

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July 23, 2018

There isn’t a question I dread more from a taxi driver/fellow wedding guest/general stranger, than ‘So what do you do?’ Now of course I understand that this query comes from a good place of general interest and isn’t designed to catch me out, but despite what my job these days actually is, I’m not someone who likes to talk about myself that much. I know, I have no idea how I ended up here either. Given the nature of an internet job, I completely understand the interrogation-like questioning that usually follows my answer, but on the way to the airport this week a kind driver simply replied with ‘Good for you!’, when he asked and I answered with how long I’ve done this for. I’ve blogged and made YouTube videos as my full-time job for six years now and his sweet reply made me realise that that’s a darn long time, especially in an industry that’s still so new and fledging.

I love what I do and constantly count my lucky stars that I get to call this my job. One thing I have learnt from it though, is that even if it all went down the pan tomorrow I’d still like to work for myself if possible. The ‘being your boss’ thing is completely my crack and is something that over the years I’ve become more and more comfortable with as I’ve found my feet. Now it’s something I’m not sure I’d ever want to give up. So today I’m rounding up my top tips that I’ve learnt through this whole experience for the self-employed contingent, or just a peep through the keyhole for you nosey lot…

The Boring Stuff. It’s dry, often confusing and pretty expensive, but getting professional advice on how to set-up your business, is the best thing you can do when working for yourself. I’ll never forget my Dad traipsing me down to my Accountant’s when I got my first cheque from YouTube (It was £66 and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to cash in a cheque! I did in my lunch-break at work and I won’t ever forget that moment), and the whole set-up cost more money than I’d ever made through blogging and YouTube at the time. LOLZ – thanks Dad! But it was 100% the right thing to do and these days it’s a service that I’m always more than happy to pay the invoice for, because having the financial side of the business taken care of by people who know what they’re doing, takes such a large workload off my plate. If numbers really aren’t your style, a bookkeeper can be a great investment too; as they bridge the gap between you and your accountant – keeping a closer eye on invoices and expenses and leaving even less for you to do with the financials, freeing up more time for you to focus on the ‘getting shit done’ side of your business.

Establish a Routine. This idea won’t work for everyone, as there may be some businesses and some people who like to keep things more free and easy with their timings and workload, but personally I love a bit of routine in my day. It helps me to feel organised in what I do, which in turn helps to keep me relaxed and stress-free. At the very least I’d suggest setting your alarm for the same time every morning and aiming to close up your laptop at the same time every evening and leaving the house once a day (more on that below). I’m spinning the plates of a fair amount of projects these days, so it’s not always possible, but where it is I like the idea of doing certain tasks on certain days. For example, I quite like to get any scheduling, errands and big emails done on a Monday. I usually find myself filming videos on a Friday afternoon as that keeps me busy during my biggest procrastination peak of the week. Then if I have any high priority tasks I like to get them done in the mornings as that’s when I’m at my most efficient. It’s not rigid and it has to have a certain degree of flexibility worked into it, but setting up working hour parameters at the least, helps you to find harmony between your work and your home.

Your Energy Reserves. This is a good idea to think about whether you work for yourself, or someone else; but it’s working out how and where you get your energy from. Do you feel like it gets recharged when you’re in full-on relaxation mode, or do you feel it creeping up when you socialise with friends. I’m someone who loves to be social – a right chatterbox me – however I gain my energy in introverted ways whenever I’m on my own. So when I look at my schedule I know that I need to find both time with others, and time on my own to regain my energy in equal measures. Working for yourself means that there’s always a bit of pressure on your to be in tip-top condition when it comes to motivation, so spend some time picking apart this idea of where it is that you gain your energy for work from, and add it into your routine as much as possible.

LEAVE. THE. HOUSE. Ever since we moved back to Brighton three years ago now, I make sure that I leave the house every single day. When we lived in London I was TERRIBLE at this and often went stretches of three days just within the same open-plan one bed flat and it sent me a little round the bend. Back then I thought that adding any break time into my day meant that I was wasting time, but actually all I was doing was wasting time epically every afternoon when I’d procrastinate for two hours. The act of psychically leaving the house gives you a slap in the face of fresh air which instantly revives you and gives you a chance to focus on something else – whether it be for 10 minutes, or an hour. I either go to a Pilates class, or leave to do errands every single day and I’m a better, more productive person because of it.

Enjoy the Benefits. I can hand on my heart say that over the past six years I have taken way less than my 28 days holiday that I’d have in your average job. Partly because I love what I do so my work trickles pretty much into every day of the week; whether I’m at my desk or away, and partly because I’m a one-girl-band, so if I’m not getting a task done – no one else is. In the early years this hustle is completely understandable and taking time completely off may not be financially feasible. But when you think that it’s possible to take a week away and leave your laptop at home – DO IT. It’s only in the past two years that I’ve felt comfortable to do this and it’s made all the difference in how I approach my work and the balance between it and my life outside of what I do. Heck, I took almost a month off for my honeymoon over December and it was GLORIOUS. The break made me excited for my return and I was able to pick things up from where I left off, just with added spring in my step. Now taking a whole month off in one go every year isn’t on the cards for me, but I am trying to factor more ‘proper time-off’ holidays into my calendar these days and I’m trying to be a bit more flexible with my working hours. It might not always be this way, so I’m making the most of it and trying to lean into reaping the rewards of my current role. Have the morning coffee with your mate! Clock off early for drinks and just start earlier tomorrow! It’s your honeymoon? Take off as long as you can! We could always be doing more, but we’ll do it even better if we’re happy, relaxed and well-rested.

Photos by Emma Croman

Original Content courtesy of the Anna Edit, which can be found here. 

CONTINUE READING

July 9, 2018

Let’s be honest, checking your social media networks can sometimes put quite a damper one your self esteem. Even the most experienced and confident users are guilty of posting a gorgeous image of their work or a life event only to second guess it as soon as they see another accounts carefully curated and well thought out feed.

It is incredibly easy to fall into a comparison trap, becoming obsessed with how your life appears to others and overly conscious of every move you make online. And, even though your feed is be getting a good amount of followers or likes, you may still be concerned that it’s not as good as the others out there. We know, we know. We’ve all been there at one time or another.

So, what can you do when you love the thrill that you get from viewing and sharing posts with users from around the world, but you also get a pit in your stomach the minute you start scrolling through the perfection that is your follow list? These 5 tips will give you the ability to fulfill your social media craving while keeping your self esteem perfectly in tact.

5 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA & PROTECT YOUR SELF ESTEEM

  1. DETERMINE YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC – When you are looking through your newsfeed, it is easy to forget that you may be “speaking” to a different demographic than someone else who posts only color coded, pre-planned perfection. Think about the purpose of your feed and who is meant to see it? If you are a Mama who loves sharing pics of your kids with far away loved ones, you absolutely should not feel the pressure to do it the same way as the Mommy Blogger with 60,000 followers and multiple sponsors. Keep in mind that the Mommy Blogger more than likely has an extensive knowledge of photography and photoshop due to YEARS of curating their content. Some of these users even have professional hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers that help them with each and every photoshoot.
  2. DEFINE YOUR CONTENT STYLE – Now that you know who your demographic is, start thinking about the best way to reach them and to have them take notice of your content. Some followers adore a heavily photoshopped image with a magical format and gorgeous colors, while others truly want to see raw, real life. For instance, a travel blogger may have the goal of giving their followers a glimpse into their lives, the good and bad, so they will most likely opt for a less edited and more realistic photo collage. But, a children’s photographer who specializes in fine art or creatively set up portrait photography may have a much more planned composition and a more defined edit. Determine which works best for your personal style and the purpose of your feed and run with it. Don’t worry about what another user is posting if the style doesn’t line up. (Master Tip: Check out these social media planning tools that will help you to style your content as needed!)
  3. TAKE A BREAK  – This may seem counterproductive to your ultimate goal, but trust me, it’s not. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “take care of yourself first”, and it absolutely applies to social media. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, are in hardcore comparison mode, or are just exhausted with the whole thing, take a little break. When you make the conscious choice to return to tending your feed, you will feel replenished and revived, and you will make better choices about how to handle and manage your networks. Sometimes, you need to listen to that little voice telling you that it’s time to step back.
  4. ENGAGE – The more that I engage with others on social media, the better I feel. There is nothing more confidence boosting than giving a compliment and making someone else day, so I try to do it often. See an instagram image that blows your mind? Tell the user! Can’t get enough of the design work you came across on a business feed? Let the user know that you are obsessed! They will appreciate the boost and before you know it, you’ll have built a community of like minded friends on social media that will take care to send positive vibes one another’s way!
  5. CREATE VISUAL CONTENT THAT YOU LOVE – It is hard to hear, mainly because we all want to fit in and hang out with the popular crowd, but at the end of the day, your parents were right. The only person that has to like it is you. Don’t feel the need to share everything with everybody, but make sure that the content that you do post gives you flutters in your heart. If you love it, there is nothing to compare. Just do you and let the others do them.

Interested in learning how we curate, manage, and plan our own business and personal social media networks. Check out our online course here!  We would love to see you there!

 

CONTINUE READING

June 5, 2018

I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least one Kate Spade wallet or bag in my rotation, so I was incredibly sad this morning to hear the news that the designer had passed away inside her Park Avenue apartment. While the investigation into her death is brand new, and other than the tidbits of information that are leaking though the press and gossip networks here in NYC, we do know one thing. Her death was more than likely suicide.

As a creative, I have a special place in my heart for those who “make” and “share” their work. Why? Because it can be torturously difficult to do, both internally and externally. We spend most of our days with our ideas, striving to find the best and most honest ways to turn them into tangible items. That transference from thought to finished product in itself is difficult, time consuming, and can be exhilarating, but also exhausting.

“If I were a fictional character I’d be Alice from Alice In Wonderland.” – Kate Spade

Add to that sharing our work with the world, opening ourselves up to praise, but also criticism.  And, I am actually of the mind that we need the criticism. How would our work evolve if we didn’t have a reason to adjust it; to better it? It would remain stagnant and boring. Getting hard to hear feedback, over time, helps to build the creative backbone, and makes us think more about the way that we create and present what we are sharing.

But, as much as the criticism is needed, I think there is a also a solid fact that we must recognize. You never know what another person is going through or how they are feeling. Shouldn’t it be expected that we give feedback and criticism to those around us constructively? Should we not take care to be sensitive to the mental health of other individuals? In my opinion, this should be incredibly important.

“Listen to others, but follow your own instincts.” – Kate Spade

More importantly, if you are feeling on the edge or are struggling mentally, please remember that better times will come. What you are going through right now, whether inflicted personally or by someone else, it will not be forever. You can get through it, and you will be better for it. Let yourself learn from your experiences and then use it for good. And please, please, don’t try to do it alone. Talk to someone, get help (HERE), and practice self care. This too, is important.

I leave with the words of Kate Spade herself; “Listen to others, but follow your own instincts.” I think we could all benefit from that advice.

 

CONTINUE READING

June 4, 2018

The Lust List by Sally Spratt, the gorgeous and talented illustrator behind the popular style series, has us absolutely swooning at The Art Of. We are obsessed with her gorgeously laid out, boldly colored watercolor illustrations, featuring all of your favorite styles and brands, from L’Occtaine to Vogue Magazine.

Based out of Sydney, Australia, Spratt creates her illustrations from inspiration she finds in her environment, including her awesome girl clique.

“Now I draw & design for a living, surrounding myself with inspiring and talented friends that become my every day inspiration. ” – Sally Spratt of the Lust List

Spratt says “I have been drawing and creating since I can remember…….I grew up drawing on strong everything, making all manner of things from scraps & in general always trying to design, style & make things visually exciting. It hasn’t changed too much over the years, however now I draw & design for a living, surrounding myself with inspiring and talented friends that become my every day inspiration.”

 Find Spratt and The Love List series on her Instagram here and her website here. You deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more of our Artists & Makers Series here!

CONTINUE READING

May 30, 2018

Sometimes, the most valuable lightbulbs go off for me during a coaching or teaching session. Today was not different.

While coaching a client on redefining their purpose and resurfacing their passion, the subject of knowing your “why” arose. I am a huge proponent of the “why” in any life or business, I love to ask people what reason they have for doing the things they do. Finding your “why” is simple right? We all do things, all kinds of things, as a matter of fact. And surely we have reasons for all of them; otherwise, why would we do them?

But, I digress. The truth of the matter is that most of us rarely have a purpose for our actions, and most of the time when a business is in it’s infancy, there isn’t a super clear, easy to understand end goal. I have found that as time goes on, and the “why” develops further, the day to day of that business changes (as do some of the goals) for the better and it becomes more successful.

But, what is the “why”? For example, let’s pretend for a moment that you are a photographer. You may be saying to yourself, that your purpose is obvious. You take gorgeous pictures in order to help people protect their memories and experiences. That is wonderful, and we definitely need hard working, talented photographers in the world! But that isn’t really a “why”, it is a duty that you have to your business and to your client. It is “what you do” not  “why you do it”. Why do you take the pictures? Why are they edited in the fashion that you edit them? Or why do you feel it is important to protect memories and experiences? What is the bigger push that keeps you moving in the right direction? Figure that out, and your already halfway across the bridge. The next step? Start working that into your daily life and into business interactions and decisions.

Me? My ultimate “why” that I want to help women grow and care for themselves, to give them the opportunity to be more self sufficient in life.  I want to pass on any knowledge or skill that I have learned or developed that can teach others how to have better lifestyles and better more fulfilling businesses. This shines through in every (and there are a few) offshoot of my company. Everything that I do professionally does ultimately works toward that final goal.

It isn’t necessarily always about the business. When I started Harper Maven Design I was a graphic designer, and I still am. But, as I defined and adjusted my “why”, growth happened, and my world expanded. Discover your why, and the world is yours.

Interested in Business or Life Coaching one on ones or Group Series? Get in touch here. We would love to have you!

xoxo,

Tori

CONTINUE READING

May 14, 2018

Romantic Photographer Shannon Lee Miller … Seriously, this girl has talent.

Lately, we have been absolutely swooning over the work of a number of creative and unique Fine Art Photographers, but one that has completely entranced us is Shannon Lee Miller.

Specializing in moody yet light filled wedding and portrait photography, Miller manages to capture moments in time using completely unique posing guidelines and edits, giving a bit of a break from the beaten path. Enjoy these beauties and check out Shannon Lee Miller here!

*All Images Courtesy of Shannon Lee Miller

See more of our Artists & Makers Series here!

CONTINUE READING

May 11, 2018

If you have been to an Anthropolgie store at any time in the last 3 years, you have more than likely seen the beautifully curated collection of Emily Isabella products. In the shop and online, her work graces items such as porcelain dishes and trinket bowls, pretty stationery items, and home decor such as pillows, wallpaper, and bedding.

WHY WE LOVE EMILY ISABELLA

 

 

Head over to Amazon and you will find her gorgeous artwork in the form of travel focused Coloring Books, which are absolutely suitable for both children and adults, although some of the smaller lines and details may work best with colored pencils or markers. These pretty books may even reduce your anxiety and provide you with a bit of much needed relaxation in the form of easy art therapy. Who doesn’t love a good stress reducer? Take a look at the pretty doodles inside the
Iconic Paris Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Send and Frame, the Iconic San Francisco Coloring Book, the Iconic Washington D.C. Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Send and Frame , and the Iconic New York Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Fill In and Frame .

 

So, where does Isabella find her inspiration? How does she communicate and work with her clients? And of course, the million dollar question; how does she know that her work is the real deal and where does that confidence come from?

Emily says about her dream client, “I love a client who trusts my vision and allows me to be authentic. My best work happens when I’m given freedom and time to work from an honest perspective. ”

 

 

“There is inspiration everywhere, from the way a sample of cheeses looks on a plate to the texture of a peeling painted wall in a 13th century church. “

Asked about her typical schedule and work flow, Emily states ” I wake up, make a carafe of coffee and check my email. After I’m done with correspondence, I usually take an hour or two to work on a personal project. It’s important to me to balance client work and work I do for myself. I tackle client work for the rest of the day with short breaks throughout the day for a picnic lunch outside or maybe a short walk in the woods. “

“I live in the country, surrounded by nature, so naturally I am influenced by what’s directly
around me. Using nature as inspiration is a simple way to create honest work. “

Hygee & West asked Isabella about her color palette and her incredibly distinct patterns and illustrations (once you have seen her work, you will forever recognize it). Her awesome response:  “I have a very clear idea of who I am and what I like and I do my best to stay true to myself in my work and personal life. This manifests itself in the way I dress, the colors I choose for my home, and the way I choose to live. Inspiration for my work comes directly from my experiences. It’s a pretty simple equation of producing work that appeals to myself and in turn, I think I attract people who have similar tastes. I think those people likes things that are feminine yet classic, soft but with a bit of a wonky edge. They are spirited, playful, and and aren’t afraid to take risks.

We think that this accurately sums up what makes Emily Isabella such a force in the art world in this wonderful era of women entrepreneurs. Her work has us swooning and we just can’t get enough.

 

In a creative rut when it comes to all things outside of your work? We understand and we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our complete collection of Creative Lifestyle Posts here. 

*All Images & Artwork Courtesy of  Emily Isabella | Interview Questions originally printed at Interiors by Jacquin + Hygee & West

CONTINUE READING

May 9, 2018

Create the life you want? I know, this is a bit of a long read; trust me, if you are here, you need to hear this. But, before you get too far down the page, ask yourself these two questions: What do you want? Why haven’t you gotten it?

For me, it has always been teaching, mentoring, speaking, and encouraging. I am a “helper” almost to a fault, and don’t feel that I am the very best me that I can be unless I am doing something productive that will benefit or change the lives of someone else. My plan was always to grow my business to the best of my ability, to develop a bit of a tribe, and to learn and discover the lessons that I needed to learn that would allow me to pass the knowledge on to other creative entrepreneurs.

Four years into my business, I have had a total of 1 speaking engagement, 2 podcast interviews and a handful of print features, but none of these have made me happily giddy or have made me feel that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do (is this a thing?) So after years and years of “waiting for the invitation” I decided to take matters into my own hands and to CREATE the engagements and events that I yearned for in my business life. That path eventually became The Art Of, and the amount of passion that I feel for my work has grown exponentially. I love everything about it. Business ownership is a choice, and if you are making the decision to jump in feet first, why are you also waiting on invitations to shape your own reality?

You may be trying to decide how this translates into your own life, business or aspirations. Maybe you are an Artist, Calligrapher, or Wedding pro who wants to speak and instruct at Workshops for business owners and creatives, but you aren’t exactly swimming in options. Our solution, CREATE that Workshop and invite others that YOU want to collaborate with personally. Or possibly you have mentally created and searched for a specific tool, program, or product that will greatly increase your skills and productivity, but it doesn’t seem to be out there. MAKE it exist! You can create that exact tool, program or product, you just have to get out there and do it.

I have a good friend who constantly uses the excuse “I am not sure how to do that,” anytime that he feels at all uncomfortable or out of place in a situation. It drives me crazy, but I think this is a solid reason that a lot of people use to not do something. The truth is, nobody starts out knowing what they are doing. We are all, honestly, just out there doing the best we can. But for some people that means putting themselves out there and figuring it out, while for others it simply means they don’t feel that they have the resources or knowledge so they give up. I am here to tell you, friends, giving up should not be a thing.

Don’t give up, Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable, and most of all Don’t wait for the invitation. I promise you WILL figure it out.

In a creative rut when it comes to all things outside of your work? We understand and we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our complete collection of Creative Lifestyle Posts here. 

CONTINUE READING

April 17, 2018

When it rains it pours…. There are so many intricate aspects about running a creative business, but what nobody tells you, is that it is really difficult to keep things running during a particularly negative time in your career.

Mistakes are made and issues arise (here and there) in each and every business, and creatives definitely have their fair share, but sometimes it feels like absolutely nothing is going your way. Whether due to financial issues, marketing struggles, client frustrations or something entirely different, it feels as though you are drowning and you can’t find a way up. I’ve been there.

I recently had one of these years. Twenty Seventeen was the hardest year for me since opening my business, Harper Maven Design. I made a HUGE mistake that caused me a loss of thousands of dollars, I struggled to find clients that were a good fit, my style and goals were evolving and I was unsure of how to incorporate that into my current business model. Nothing. Was. Going. Right.

During this time period, I was fighting to hold onto the current idea of my business, but I was also feeling constantly stressed, and ultimately, uninspired. So, when this is how you are feeling, how do you get back your moxie and get your backbone in place?

  • RE-EVALUATE: It’s ok for goals to change, actually it would probably be odd if they didn’t. Do a little bit of soul searching and remember why you started to begin with and how you can still use that passion to create success today in correlation with your new vision.
  • GET SCARED: Ok, I realize that this sounds like an unusual concept; however, I think it is the most important step on this list. Every time I feel that I have lost my way, in business and in life, I find it again by proving to myself that I am exceptionally brave. I am scared of heights, so I once jumped off of a swaying platform, high above the trees, in the middle of the rainforest just to give myself A REASON to be brave. Next time I need a little boost I plan to jump out of a plane even though I have that aforementioned fear of heights, and tend to freak out on airplanes. Do something to help your brain and body remember that you are courageous and I promise, it will make an enormous differences in how you approach your business or creative endeavors.
  • DECIDE THAT YOU AREN’T GOING DOWN LIKE THIS: If you are super passionate about what you do, success shouldn’t be optional. You will eventually get there…. Unless you quit. Make the decision that you aren’t giving that option life. Make it a priority to keep going. Rest when needed, but don’t quit.
  • LISTEN TO YOURSELF FIRST: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let someone or something sway me to make a decision that was against what my gut was telling me. The success rate for those decisions is low. Nine times out of ten, when I listen to myself first, everything works out for the best. Don’t talk yourself into trusting another person if you disagree with their assessment of your needs.
  • CREATE FOR FUN: A great way to regain creative inspiration is to take a personal day to create strictly for fun. You will find that the act of thinking one hundred percent for yourself while making something beautiful will re-ignite that fire in your brain that typically gears up when you are working.

You’ve got this friend. Creativity comes and goes, sometime because of our emotions and thoughts. We hope these exercises will help you find a way to persist when times feel tough.

Need a little more inspo for your creative business? We understand and we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our complete collection of Creative Business Posts here. 

CONTINUE READING

April 16, 2018

Artist, designer and shop owner at NYC staple A Détacher, Mona Kowalska has us incredibly inspired this week as we take a peek into her workspace, which also doubles as the Clinton Hill, Brooklyn home that she shares with daughter, Claire. Brooklyn is never boring, and this gorgeous townhome does not disappoint.

Upon entering Kowalska’s space, you are entirely taken with the opulent (those moldings, those moldings!) minimalism, both elegant and pristine as well as humble and creative. Filled with light and accented in soft, warm colors, this is the kind of environment where you could spend hours working, only to look at the clock and realize you’ve lost 5 hours of your life. Chances are, you don’t even care.

If I am being honest, those are exactly the kind of work areas/studios that creatives need. There is nothing better than feeling comfortable enough to get completely lost in your work. It makes my heart sing each and every time that it happens. So, are you ready for a bit of inspo for your own space? Take a tour with us of Mona’s brilliant apartment and studio and imagine what you could do with that crown molding. Gah.

MONA KOWALSKA AT HOME & WORK  IN BROOKLYN

Inspiration Defined. In love.

Are you on the search for a bit more inspired business content? Or, do you have a workspace or business structure that needs a bit of an overhaul? Well, you are definitely in the right place! Take a look at our entire Creative Lifestyle collection here. 

*All Photos courtesy of the always mesmerizing  Matthew Williams Check out his Lifestyle Photography for more home and office inspiration, as well as Fashion and Press Photos from around the world!|| Home Images of Mona Kowalska, her daughter claire, and their home in Brooklyn New York.

CONTINUE READING

April 6, 2018

Nina Cosford is one of my personal “artist” hero’s, so it is a no brainer that I would include her newest book on this current Book Binge.

My Name is Girl: An Illustrated Guide to the Female Mind by Nina Cosford

Nina Cosford, a delightfully British artist that specializes in cute illustrations ranging from Coco Chanel to Buckingham Palace to Jane Austen (and her super amazing illustrations of scenes from HBO’s Girls), recently released this ode to women, our emotions, our strengths and even our weaknesses.

Written in a satirical tone but holding true to reality, this read will make you laugh out loud while simultaneously making you realize that we really aren’t all that different from one another.

The only downside to this book is that it only comes in print format, so you’ll have to wait on Snail Mail, but I promise you will love it! Get your copy of My Name is Girl  here. 

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World

This is my first, middle, and last favorite book of the entire year so far, and while I think that the title is slightly misleading (causing some to resist picking it up due to political overload), the content is spectacular.

This inspiring read, written by former Hilary Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, is far from political, but instead is a deep study of the current female predicament, how we got where we are after years of being on the “rise”, and what we are doing wrong if we really want to conquer the world.

Palmieri is exactly the right person to write this book as she has been fortunate enough to have watched, learned from, and examined some of the most influential women our nation has ever seen, giving her a hard edge when it comes to moving the gender forward.

Forget everything you know about how to work, live, and experience life as a woman and give this thought process a shot. Get your Copy here.

 

The Woman in the Window

I. Loved. This. Book. One of the two fictional books on this list, it is a must read if you are totally into thrillers and mysteries.

Set in NYC, this Hitchcock-esque novel nestled in Upper Manhattan follows the story of an alcohol addicted Psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia after a tragic event in her life.  The tale quickly goes from a sad story about a desperate woman to a stunning, hard to put down read about the mysteries surrounding her past, her present, and her new NYC neighbors.

Want something with a little edge that will keep you on your seat without keeping you awake from fear? This book is for you. Get your copy here. 

How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything so They Can Achieve Anything

I’ll bet you never thought that doing everything would keep you from achieving greatness. Ok, fine. As a whole, we as women are most definitely “getting things done”, but are we really doing the things that mean the most to us, our loved ones, our clients, or our associates? The answer is more than likely no.

This book discusses the freedom that comes with prioritizing your to do list so that you are spending your time cultivating things that matter, and that you enjoy. It teaches you how to decide what is actually important in your personal and work life, and how to say no to the RIGHT things while accomplishing more in the areas that you DO deem important.

This book is super funny and entertaining, written by a self proclaimed procrastinator and constantly “late-on-deadlines” author with the desire to change her negative ways and grow her success. It is also full of lessons on falling down and getting back up, never quitting on yourself, and trusting your intuition. Get your copy here.

The Interestings

The second of our two fictional Friday Reads is one of my all time faves, The Interestings.

This elegantly written book features the tale of 6 friends who meet at an Art Summer Camp they attend as teenagers, and the evolution of their lasting friendship throughout their college and adult years in NYC. This book, full of good friendship vibes as well as some tragic circumstances, will make you remember why you love your own tribe so very much, and how they have changed your life for the better.

Ready for an emotional but thoughtfully told story this Friday evening? Check out The Interestings here. You won’t be sorry!

How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir

I always WANT to include this book on my Book Binge lists, but in the past have been a bit nervous about pulling the trigger. This book is the ultimate guide on how to completely f**k up your life, career, and relationships while progressively spiraling down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol. All topics that can definitely be a bit of a downer.

With that being said, it is also the ultimate guide on getting it together, learning acceptance, and having your own back. It is also the story of women at work and in life, and how they do their best to support and elevate other women, even when it seems nearly impossible.

I love this book because of it’s intense honesty and devil may care attitude, and also for its energetic tone and bare naked reality. This book, written by Cat Marnell, former beauty editor at Lucky Magazine and writer at XO Jane, is for the fashion lover, the struggling career woman, the party hard city girl, and every woman in between. Learn more about Cat and get your copy here.

 

In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector

This is a must read for any artist, calligrapher, or hand letterer who loves to create their projects on REAL paper with REAL pens and pencils, but also needs to vectorize their work at some point, either for sale as prints or for graphic design work.

In Progress takes you on an encouraging, inspiring journey through artist and designer Jessica Hische’s sketchbook from the beginning of projects all the way through the end. Educational and easy to follow, Hische will guide you through her process of creation and how she transfers her work to computer vector format. Need a tutorial like this? Get your copy of In Progress here. 

 

Everyday Watercolor: Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days

I feel like this beauty makes my read list almost every time that I write one, but trust me, it’s for a reason! I love Jenna Rainey and obviously think she is a wonderful creative boss in her own right. I also love the structured, easy to follow watercolor plan that allows you to learn to paint like a pro.

Rainey splits the book up into daily projects that will further your knowledge of how watercolor techniques work, but you also provides detailed instruction on how to hold/use your tools and how to manipulate your water and paint for amazing results.

When I first began reading this book, I was already a pretty experienced watercolor artist; however, the excellent tips, tricks, and instruction definitely gave me a new perspective on the craft and a lot of new skills that have elevated my work.

Get your Copy of Everyday Watercolor here.

Looking for more great books? Find another amazing Book Binge here. Love Nina Cosford and want to see more of her beautiful creations? Find it right here.

CONTINUE READING

January 31, 2018

FINDING POWER IN COMMUNITY – When I first began thinking about teaching and blogging, I found it incredibly hard to reconcile my need to encourage and positively educate other business owners with the idea of bringing forth complete transparency and honesty to those that needed to hear it.

As I started to develop these thoughts and tried to find a way to merge the two without radiating a negative vibe, I thought about my first few years in business and what I would have needed and how I would have needed to hear it. It became apparent to me that the gift of transparency and community IS encouraging, especially when you feel like you are going out there completely on your own.

So, I decided to share everything within the community, in the most graceful way possible, because as business owners and creatives we need to stand with one another. There are hundreds of groups and encouragers out there that will sugar coat and gloss over the hardest parts of running a business, and that isn’t how I want to operate.

I put value in knowing that someone is walking with you on your journey, and that both the good and bad things that are happening to you, are happening to others, too! Learn with one another, support one another, HELP one another. These are the concepts I think will empower you.

Share your story with us today! We want to hear about the best and most rewarding experiences that you have had AND the most challenging and disheartening experiences you have had! Get in touch with us here (or shoot us a submission email at connect@lovetheartof.com) with your input and you may be featured in an upcoming post or be asked to participate in the first issue of our print magazine!

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January 23, 2018

DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.

Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.

Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.

  1. The “Nothing you do will make me happy” Client:

We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.

While, it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.

At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.

2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:

This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.

Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.

3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:

Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.

I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it,  and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.

Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.

I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!

Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.

As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.

 

4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:

If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.

WAYS YOU CAN COMBAT NEGATIVE SITUATIONS/CLIENTS FROM DAY ONE:

  • First of all, make sure you have an iron clad contract. Make sure that each and every client that books with you signs that contract, no exceptions.
  • Provide your clients with a fact sheet, timeline, or informational package that will lay out the process of your services, the timeframe it takes you for each milestone along the way, and what they can expect from their finished product. Providing them with as much information as possible directly out of the gate will alleviate any confusion later if the client tries to insinuate that they aren’t happy because you didn’t follow protocol.
  • If things start to take on a negative vibe during your process, gently but firmly guide the clients attention back to the positive and let them know that you are doing your very best for them. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to not allow their mood to alter your work. It is super hard, but if you can maintain a positive attitude even when they are creating stress for you, they will not be able to point at you as the reason they are unhappy.
  • Have a solid questionnaire that will help them to do a bit of self discovery and will get them in the brainstorming mindset.
  • Ask the right questions. Find out where their head is at from the start and utilize any information that you have received.
  • Be very honest from the beginning of the project.  Insure that they understand that  you have a specific style of work, and that if they aren’t already in that mindset and know that they want that style, you may not be the right fit for them. Help them go through your portfolio so they understand what they will be receiving if they hire you, and if they get off track during the project, kindly remind them of your creative abilities and portfolio.
  • Let them know that you offer only a certain number of revisions and ask them if they are comfortable with that before beginning. If they truly don’t know what they want, they may realize that they need more time to think prior to spending money on a project that may end up costing them a fortune.
  • Document any and all agreements, revision requests, edits; etc. This will save you a great deal of hassle if a problem should ever arise.
  • Last, but definitely not least, remember that while most of your clients are going to be beautiful people, you can’t allow a few bad experiences to jeopardize your success. These are all learning experiences that you will have during the process of running your business, and has absolutely nothing to do with your amazing talent and creativity. Power through the stressful events and take what you have discovered with you to the next level.

Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!

See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

 

 

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January 17, 2018

A few months ago, we at Harper Maven Design created a Facebook group with the intention bringing together like minded creative entrepreneurs. Along the way, we found that we struggled slightly with categorizing the group and defining the word “creative”, causing us to hit a bit of a roadblock in terms of creating content and gathering our tribe. With that in mind, we decided to dig deep and really focus on the most important characteristics that we wanted the group to encompass: Creative Living, The Bringing Together of People, and a Supportive & Enthusiastic Environment where our members feel safe to share, ask questions, and collaborate.

The first step in this endeavor (in our opinion) was to create a definition of who served as a “creative” and would enjoy being a part of our group. This was probably the hardest part for us, because creativity can really mean just about anything. Maybe you are an artist, or a writer, or a photographer. Or it’s possible that you are a Graphic Designer or even a Banker who has to think of creative ways to run their business daily. To us, this meant that for the most part, everyone should be welcome, whether you are striving to lead a consistently creative lifestyle or you are running and participating in creative business ownership. The only rule is that you have to be interested in doing life creatively; thinking outside of the box. Hence the name; The Art Of….

We feel that The Art Of…. can be so many things to so many people. The Art Of Painting, The Art of Running, The Art of Surviving, The Art of Thinking, The Art of Wellness, The Art of Treating People Well, you get the idea. In this group you are absolutely welcome to use our inspiration and that of our contributors and writers to cultivate beauty in your own life. We sincerely hope you will and we can’t wait to connect with you all! Welcome!

Featured Image Courtesy of Tess & Sarah

Have you heard? We are looking for collaborators! Find out more here!

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January 10, 2018

An Open Letter – Hello, friend, and welcome to 2018. A few tidbits of information that may help to acclimate you to five years in the future –

  • Global Warming sucks, the city was 83 degrees in October. DO NOT BUY THAT EXPENSIVE DOWN COAT THAT YOU THINK YOU NEED! YOU’VE WORN IT TWICE IN 4 YEARS! Just saying. 
  • You’ve officially made it past age 36, which was always your scary, old person age (UM, WHY?!), and truly it’s not so bad. You are still a spitfire, just in a less wild, dancing on tables kind of way, and more in an extra glass of wine on Grey’s night kind of way. Embrace it. Love it. Be it. It suits you, quite honestly. 
  • Lancome is going to come out with a mascara around 2015 called Hypnose Dramatic (or at least this is when you will discover it). This mascara may or may not change your life. Ok, it MAY, as in it will. Just FYI.
  • Oh, and Donald Trump is President… Soooooooo, yeah.

 

Now that we have covered the very basics, let’s get to what we really came here to talk about. You are deep in the nitty gritty of running a day to day business, and things seem to be going pretty well. You rock, love. You rock in a big way, but I am biased, so take it with a grain of salt.

I am tempted to dig deep here to provide you with the insight and advice that I wish you’d known back in 2012, but honestly, I don’t want to give you too much information, as every experience that you have had has created the you that you will be.  There are a going to be A LOT (like A LOT) of ups and downs, some really awesome clients, huge successes, moments of pure happiness, joy, and even disbelief that this is your life and your job;  and of course moments of stress, worry, and defeat.

You are going to make A LOT of mistakes, some very small and some that seem extremely monumental (I can think of a couple in particular, but let’s not dwell, shall we?). That IS going to happen, but just remember, one foot in front of the other, one deep breath at a time. You are also going to meet a lot of truly inspiring people and make a lot of really great decisions that will carry you into the next chapter of business ownership.

In 2017, you are still growing, you are still learning, you are definitely still experiencing every single one of these feelings, just in a different way. Just keep walking through the doors that you want to get through, whether they start out open or not. You are going to find a lot of really gorgeous things on the other side.

It is incredibly important to remember that every business owner and every creative has good and bad experiences, and has made any number of bad decisions and choices.  They are a part of the game. Sorry to break it to you, but in those moments of despair remember that you are not special here, you are one of millions experiencing this moment, in this way. You don’t get to feel sorry for yourself…. You get to keep moving. Exciting, isn’t it?

“WHEN YOU ARE TIRED, KEEP GOING. WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY, KEEP GOING. WHEN YOU ARE SCARED, KEEP GOING. IF YOU WANT A TASTE OF FREEDOM, KEEP GOING.”  – HARRIET TUBMAN

Since it is five years later, of course I know that you will grow to feel an exorbitant amount of love for your business, for yourself as a business person, and that you will learn to take leaps you never thought were possible. For that, I am incredibly proud of you/me.  You are most definitely not an adventurous person right now, but trust me, 5 years from now you will be standing on a swaying platform in the middle of the Caribbean rainforest telling the guide to “just push you, because that is the only way you are going off the edge” and you will in that moment realize that yeah, you take leaps, even if you need a good push every now and then. You jump even when you don’t want to or feel scared to. You made it off that platform and you lived through it. Good for you. Keep Moving, friend. I’ll be seeing you on the flip side.

“PLAY ON PLAYA.”  – NO DIGGITY

Sincerely and with Exponential Love + Affection,

Tori – 2018

 

 

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January 10, 2018

As Travel Bloggers, one of the most difficult parts of running your business is keeping your readers happy by creating new content, even when you are taking a bit of a break from jet-setting. This need for content during your non-travel days can make writing feel like a chore unless you have a solid stream of topics and experiences that will not only interest your readers, but keep them immersed  in your lifestyle regardless of your current location on the globe.

These are 15 of my absolute favorite Travel Influencer post ideas that do not include a destination review.

  1. Link to your favorite Travel Playlists
  2. Share your Must Have “on the road” reads.
  3. List your favorite comfortable yet stylish DAY OF (on the airplane or in the car!) Travel Outfits.
  4. Talk about your current Travel Bucketlist.
  5. Share your day by day “at home” routine/a day in your life.
  6. Create a list of the bloggers or business owners you admire and give your readers a reason to take a look at their websites.
  7. Make a video or a tutorial of your “on the go” travel beauty routine, complete with products and techniques.
  8. Link to your favorite Netflix movies and TV shows that get you through a long day of travel.
  9. Write a post about the benefits of travel on your personal wellbeing and lifestyle.
  10. Give advice on the best places to buy personal products abroad. This is a huge struggle for most travelers and they would appreciate the advice pre-trip.
  11. Link to your go to luggage picks.
  12. Write a post about your personal packing tips and tricks.
  13. Create a “Travels in Review” post that lists your all time favorite experiences in the past year, month, or life of your blog.
  14. Share the items, people, animals, or routines that you miss most while on the road. Give a small peek into the people and places in your life.
  15. Tell your readers what you won’t leave home without. Make a list of items, products, or pieces of home that always grace your travel lifestyle.

Including the above listed items on your journal or blog will give your readers a sense of who you are as a person as well as what they can expect from your writing long term.  Comment below with the link to your blog post using this list! We would love to hear how you made it your own!

Want a bit of inspo? View one of my absolute fave travel bloggers here!

See More of our Business and Blog Tips here. 

 

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January 10, 2018

Courage – One of the most devastating things that can possibly happen to a creative soul is to be harshly judged on the work they share with others, whether that means privately with a client or publicly on social media or a website. Because of the negative feelings that can come about when dealing with negative feedback, many creatives are nervous or scared to put their work out into the world, creating a number of problems if you are marketing or running a business revolving around your art.

Honestly, the anxiety will always be there to some extent. I don’t think that is something you will ever completely get over, but it isn’t always about the feeling itself, it is about the way you handle the feeling and how much power you allow it to have in your life.

So, what can you do to flex your creative confidence muscles and take back your artistic license? Here are a few tips that should definitely get you started:

  1. Remember that the point of creativity isn’t to be like everyone else in your industry. Get comfortable with being different, and use your abilities to carve out a niche that only you can satisfy.
  2. Muster the courage to share on social media. I promise, it does get easier. At the end of the day, the very worst thing that can happen is that a reader will criticize your work in your comments section (how dare they!). If that happens hold your head high and realize that the people you want to attract would never treat another creative in that manner. Delete the comment if you feel it was absolutely inappropriate and move on, but whatever you do, don’t respond to the negativity or stop posting. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
  3. Educate yourself on creative confidence and speak with other creatives about how they got over their own fear and anxiety. Some great books to read on the subject include Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, and It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be
  4. Feel the fear, but do it anyway. This is my number one rule in life and in business. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel some level of fear regarding my work, my clients, or my own creative thought process. But, I made a promise to myself when I started my design business that I was not going to let fear dictate my level of success. I allow myself to feel the feelings, because it would be absolutely counterintuitive to try to push the fear away or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I also use my power of courage to do it anyway.
  5. Recognize your Courageous Power and how it affects your daily life. There is nothing more empowering than knowing that you did something that was incredibly hard for you and made a conscious choice to battle through the anxious feelings. I promise, the more often you recognize your courage, the more powerful you will feel in your daily life and in your life as an entrepreneur.

Read More of our Creative Entrepreneur Series here!

 

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January 10, 2018

Let’s be honest, mornings are hard. For most of us, we spend the first few minutes of lucidity trying to compose our thoughts and dissolve the grogginess in our minds. While there are definitely a few lucky souls out there that can immediately throw off the covers (even on a cold day) as soon as the alarm buzzes in the morning, it is much more common to struggle to create a routine that allows for the most efficiency and the least stress possible.

If you are on the sleepier side in the morning, these tips may be difficult to implement, but if you create a steady habit using this advice, you will be on the road to better days.

  • First and foremost is to get a head a start on your day the night before. Instead of collapsing into bed right when you feel tired enough to sleep, put together a bedtime list that will help jump start your morning. This could mean getting the coffee ready and set to auto brew at a specific time, laying out your clothes for the following day, or looking over your schedule to make sure you are up to date on what you need to get done. Whatever it is that would make your day easier to handle during the early hours and can be done the night before, should be. It will lighten the load and start your day out on a less chaotic note.
  • Wake up earlier and take an hour for yourself. Jumping directly into your work schedule may seem like the most effective way to check items off of your To-Do list, but it can be extremely damaging to your own mental wellbeing and health. Set your alarm an hour earlier than you typically would and try to rise without hitting the snooze button. During your hour of free time you can do any number of helpful activities to get you started for the day on a calm note. Use your time to drink coffee in silence, watch the news and get updates from around the world, read or journal for pleasure, take a run or a quick trip to the gym to move your body, or just celebrate the new day with a super long shower and some time to yourself.
  • One of the most important things mentioned in the above list is Fitness. I had to learn this the hard way after starting my design business. Not only was I gaining weight due to lack of activity (sitting at a desk all day creating) but I was also finding that my body felt slow and less energetic, eventually leading to a pretty intense case of brain fog. I found that moving around first thing in the morning got my blood coursing, my mind working, and my creativity skyrocketing.
  • Drink a tall glass of water right away when you wake up. Now, I am definitely not adverse to enjoying a cup (or two) of strong coffee to get your mind and body moving, but it is also very beneficial to stay hydrated. Overnight, your body tends to lose water while you sleep, making you start your day in a bit of a dehydrated state. Grab a big glass of water and drink it to get all of your neurons firing. You should start to see the benefits of this morning activity right away!
  • Cultivate Gratutide. Make a list of the things you are grateful for and why. This will give you a boost of positivity right away in your day and will help you to move through the hours with less stress and negativity. I personally try to carry this with me throughout the day to insure that whenever a negative thought creeps into my mind, I have a positive thought to replace it.
  • Get Inspired. This is really the most important aspect of living a creative lifestyle or running an artistic business, for the obvious reasons. Take some time to read a book, look through Pinterest, browse the web, or flip through a magazine. This will set your brain on fire with inspiration and ideas, and will let you be more creative in terms of problem solving, content creation, and much more!

Have more advice for our readers on how you start your morning off on the right foot? Let us know in the comments section or get in touch here! We are always open to new ideas.

Featured Image Courtesy of Wandering The Good

 

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January 10, 2018

Social Media, while sometimes confusing, may just be the most important marketing tool that you have at your fingertips when it comes to growing your business. Because it can sometimes be difficult to understand the ever changing algorithms (we will further discuss “beating the social media algorithms” in our first Education Series, arriving in February!) and network etiquette, we wanted to share our time proven and tested tools, used most every day to implement our very intentional networking plan.

  1. Planoly – There is a reason that this gorgeous program is listed as #1 on our list of recommended social media tools; we absolutely adore it. One of the most important tips that we can provide when it comes to “branding” your Instagram is to be intentional in what you post and when. It should look beautiful, but also vary in content to keep your feed from being stagnant. Planoly gives you the option to see your Instagram feed grid before you publish to insure that all of the images fall in line and define your style. It also allows you to schedule posts for a future time and date, insuring that you never forget to post your beautiful work.
  2. Tailwind – While Tailwind is typically used for Pinterest, they do now have an option for Instagram integration, making it more useful on a broad spectrum when it comes to your marketing efforts. Our favorite thing to note about Tailwind is the option to join and participate in Tribes. Here you will not only find other like minded entrepreneurs and creative lifestylers, but you will have  never-ending access to inspiration and content. We love being part of a tribe and a community, so this app is has been great for us in terms of networking. Of course, you do always have the analytical and time saving features of Tailwind as well, but we think you will absolutely love Tribes.
  3. Network Insights: Probably the easiest and most efficient tool for analyzing your social media networks is also the least used and can be found right inside each networks dashboard. Knowing how to properly read the insights for each feed will greatly reduce any confusion you may have about what is right and what is wrong with your posting style or content. Take a look at some of the online directories for each network and you will never need another, third party analytical app. Find Instagram Information here, Facebook here, and Pinterest here.
  4. VSCO – Need to edit images on the go? This tool was created for you. The VSCO app can be downloaded directly to your smartphone and used while out and about to update your followers and readers on your life and activities. Offering hundreds of stunning actions and edits, you can quickly create content that is ready to get your feed noticed. Another amazing feature: The ability to shoot your images in RAW format right from your phone, which will greatly increase the effects of editing on your photos.
  5. Hootsuite – Oh my goodness, Hootsuite… Where to begin? This multi-funtional app allows you access to its incredibly feature rich options across most of your social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook (pages, profiles, AND groups), Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress, Instagram, and YouTube. Not only can you schedule posts, obtain analytical information, and plan your feed, but you can also create stunning campaigns, search hashtags that will work to dramatically increase your engagement and much, much more. This is your one stop shop for all things networking.
  6. Ok, we are sneaking one more in for good measure, and because we love the “newer” app Linktree. Linktree is made specifically for Instagram and is a HUGE game changer if you have multiple links or endeavors that you would like your readers and followers to have access to when they click on your web address. Since Instagram only allows you one website link at the top of your profile, Linktree gives you the opportunity to create a third party menu with links to all of your businesses, blogs, articles, and networks. Find out more here!

We sincerely hope that you explore the options listed and find the right fit for your life and business needs. Comment below if you would like to share your experience with the programs on the list or if you have others you think we should add!

Stay tuned in February for our full guide to the Secrets of Social Media which will include our tips for blowing the Instagram algorithms out of the water (trust us, we have a couple of super good secrets) writing content that will absolutely get you noticed, and a hashtag list that will give you the engagement of your dreams.

See More of our Creative Entrepreneur Series here!

Featured Image Courtesy of Waiting on Martha

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January 10, 2018

Are you currently looking for a Brand Designer, just hired one and can’t wait to get started, or know you want to revamp your businesses look, but don’t know how to get started? We sincerely hope that our new series Brand Musing will help you get where you want to be with your personal brand, and will make your work with  your chosen designer a bit easier and more efficient.

I think we can all agree that each and every business is different. Even if you are selling the exact same thing as another company, your business has it’s own personality, and it isn’t even close to the same as your competitions. You are a rare jewel with a special talent, and you deserve branding that speaks that to the masses!

The same goes for Brand Designers, every company has their own specialties, processes, and design styles. Over the past few years, I have found that the more each of the entities of the Brand Design team (client and designer) understand the process and the expectations of the other, the smoother the project will go and the happier the outcome will be.

So, how can you start off your project on the right foot, whether you are the designer or the client? Here are my top tips for each that should help to streamline the project and reduce stress on both sides.

TIPS FOR BEING AN AWESOME DESIGN CLIENT: 

I am asked all the time by clients how they can best work with me in order to receive my best and finest quality of design work; these are my go to tips that help to keep the energy amazing and the work gorgeous!

  • Ask your designer what your expectations should be for your project. The more informed that you are on what to expect in terms of timelines, concept layouts, their process, and deadlines, the less stress you will feel during your project. I find that some designers don’t realize how little their clients actually know about hiring someone to create their brand, mainly because they have never experienced it before. When both sides understand what is going to happen from the beginning you eliminate that tendency for stress on either side and the project seems to go much smoother. I personally provide my clients with a What to Expect sheet at the beginning of the project outlining my project rules, and it seems to greatly reduce confusion.

 

  • If you need your project completed in a super tight timeframe, or would just like to have a finished product by a certain date, be honest with your designer up front so they can let you know if that is possible for them and can charge you the appropriate amount for rushing the designs. There is nothing more stressful as a designer than quoting a client a process and a timeframe, and then receiving emails twice a day from that client asking for updates or wondering why they haven’t seen anything yet.  REMEMBER: Your designer is creating a piece of art for you, and that takes time and thought. They are providing you with creative intellectual property and want to give you the best product they possibly can. Stressing them out and demanding rushed concepts will insure that you don’t receive their best work and expertise. We know that seeing your designs is exciting, but please let your designers do a great job for you under their process and terms! It will be worth it, we promise.

 

  • SHOW SOME LOVE! Putting your creative concepts out there for the world to see and to judge is HARD. Gah, so hard. So, when you send your work out to a client to review, and they respond with a less than polite response, it can really put a damper on the project. As a fellow business owner, it honestly should be readily evident to you that it’s a tough world out there for creators. Be 100% honest (I can’t stress this enough!) with your designer, as that is the only way you will end up with a product that you love and can be proud of, but do it in a polite, kind way with very specific feedback. Let your designer know that you LOVE their work and that you totally think the concepts they provided are wonderful, but they just aren’t exactly what you were thinking and tell them why. Constructive feedback, my friends. Honest, but kind.

 

  • Be as specific as possible. If you aren’t sure what you want from your brand design or need a bit of extra coaching, consider hiring a designer that has a bit more experience and agrees that they can help guide you in the right direction. Honestly, if you aren’t sure what you want, but hire the least expensive designer that you can find and expect them to pump out concepts until you see “the one”, you will most likely never see it. Find a designer that can help you focus and knows how to guide your brainstorming sessions so that you find the right look for your business without wasting weeks of time looking at concepts that you don’t care for.

 

  • If you do know what you want and just need it to be put down on paper, be specific. Tell your designer what you are        thinking and fully describe your idea so they can execute it properly. So often, clients will say AFTER seeing concepts (which take hours of time to create) that they knew what they wanted, but didn’t want to tell you because they wanted to see what you came up with first. That isn’t fair to your designer or to their schedule; but it also sets a negative tone for the rest of the project. Your designer will most likely be slightly confused as to where to go moving forward, and will be anxious to show you designs as they aren’t positive you are being honest with the scope of your project. It is absolutely best if everyone is on the same page from the beginning and the designer knows if they  are expected to help to guide you through the process or if you just want them to design your vision. Honesty is always the best policy when working with a creator for your business needs.

 

  • This one is a biggie! FEEDBACK! Each designer will have their own expected process when requesting feedback from clients, and that should absolutely be adhered to, but above all, please keep in mind that you are working with a creator who more than likely has a stacked schedule and needs to be provided feedback in a timely manner. If you want to really show off your Design Client skills, get back to them quickly (for Harper Maven we request that feedback is delivered within 2-3 business days) and stay efficient by putting all of your comments in A SINGLE email so they don’t have to search through multiple correspondences to find your revisions and thoughts. The more precise and timely you can be with feedback, the quicker you will start to see revisions that you LOVE and will want to you use for your business.

 

TIPS FOR BEING AN AWESOME BRAND/CREATIVE DESIGNER: 

These are tried and true lessons that I have learned and continue to carry with me from my years as a Brand Designer. I sincerely hope that if you are reading this, it will help you to streamline your client process and to create bigger and better Brands with less stress!

  • This is the same number one for designers as with clients (see above), manage your clients expectations from the start, and make sure you are asking the proper questions to insure you understand what they need from you and that you can provide it. Find a way to let your new clients know up front how your process works and what they can expect in terms of timeframes. I give all of my new clients a “What to Expect” guide on their start date so that there is never any confusion. If a client tries to take your process off course during the project, stand firm and let them know that you have a system that works for you and for your clients, and that each and every person that you work with has to be treated with the same guidelines. REMEMBER: From your clients perspective, giving a designer hard earned money with the hopes that they will be able to provide you with exactly what you want for your business is super scary, but knowing what to expect and when can greatly reduce that fear and anxiety, creating a smoother project from day one.

 

  • Listen to your client and give them what they want. Once upon a time, I was a new designer and liked to interject my opinion a bit too much into what I thought would be best for my clients, even when they weren’t asking. At the end of the day I realized that most people know what is going to work for them, especially  if they have been in business for a year or more, so unless they asked for additional coaching and support, hear what they need and let them have it. You will save yourself and your client a lot of heartache by being responsive to their thoughts and ideas and turning them into beautiful concepts.

 

  • Examine your questionnaire carefully. The more direct and leading your questions are, the more likely you will hit the nail on the head quickly when it comes to your clients designs. A lot of design questionnaire ask basic questions such as what colors do you like, what fonts do you like; etc, which are all very important and should be included, but they lack the deep, directive questions that will help you to  understand your client and to get on their level. Stay tuned, designers, as I will soon be releasing my exact questionnaire in an upcoming coaching course!

 

  • Remember why you started. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs as a creator, and while most of your clients will be ahhhh-mazing, there will be a few that trickle in that refuse to work with you the way your process dictates and do not provide feedback in a constructive way. When that happens, take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Do not let yourself quit if your “why game” is strong. Educate your client on the proper way to provide feedback and how to work within your process, and then just keep doing you.

I hope that this article will help every business owner and the designers in their lives to co-exisit in a productive, efficient way! Stay tuned for more Brand Musings coming up soon!

See More of our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

Featured Image by Carli Anna Design

CONTINUE READING

January 6, 2018

The Creative Process – One of the most intriguing things about life is the presence of non-stop Self Discovery. I can pretty much say without a doubt that I can’t name the last day that I had where I didn’t learn something absolutely new. Maybe it was about my business; my clients, my design direction. Or it’s quite possible that it was about my own personal relationships, habits (good and bad), strengths, weaknesses, or well being. It’s also possible that I learned more than one thing that day (yup, it happens!) and it is a combination of the above. Either way, the moral of the story, is I learn something new daily, whether I seek to or not. To me, it is just a part of the process.

Now, some of you may thinking, I don’t actually learn something new everyday, maybe once or twice a week, but not daily. Or maybe you  don’t remember the last time you learned something completely and utterly unique to your experience. My response to that is that it’s nearly impossible for that to be true.

How do you “know” what you learned if it doesn’t seem like your day was extraordinary? This is where we must start to think about intentional living, constructive flow of though, and self awareness. To get you started, simply get yourself a pretty journal or pull up a new document on your Mac, and answer the following questions throughout your day. Sometimes I even ask myself these questions mentally more than once a day, and I feel better for it.

  1. What am I grateful for?
  2. What can I do to take better care of myself?
  3. What do I love about myself?
  4. What are my current priorities?
  5. What would make me happy right now?
  6. What am I happy about right now?
  7. Who inspires me most right now? What do I love about that person?
  8. What do I need more of in my life?
  9. What do I need less of in my life?
  10. If I could share my message with the world, what would it be?

These answers may change monthly, or daily, or even by the hour in some circumstances! That is life! But each time the answer changes, ask yourself what you learned or experienced that changed your response? There must be something, and the better you get at recognizing those moments in your life, the more in tune with your own needs and wellness you will be AND the more creatively you will run your business and your personal life. Give it a shot for one month. I dare you.

Featured Image Courtesy of Pinterest, which you can find here. 

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