Business, Goals, Entrepreneur

25 Tips to Take Your Business Seriously

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are.

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are. | Think Creative Collective
  1. Write a business plan: it may seem pretentious, or as if you are trying to be something you aren’t ready to be, but it helps you get in the right mindset, create a clear guide for what you are going to sell and a system to make it happen – need help getting started, try the easiest business plan ever.
  2. Create SMART goals: these allow you to hold yourself to something that is actually achievable! Plus who doesn’t love checking all these things off as DONE? If you’re not sure what a SMART goal is or how to make one, start with this exercise.

  3. Have a designated workspace: it doesn’t matter if it’s a table in your living room corner or you take over the extra bedroom. You need a place to stay organized, spread out, and get to work.

  4. Set office hours: this is a tremendous help for all those people in your life who think you can just chat all day. Set your hours and stick to them! Tell friends and family, add them to your email footer, and put them on your website. It’ll help you stay focused during work hours and “turn off” from work afterwards.

  5. Have a separate bank account: how can you know what’s your business’ money if it’s mixed in with grocery trips? Plus, this helps the tax man and other legal stuff be legit and easy to organize.

  6. Keep track of your expenses: do you know if you made more money last quarter than this quarter? What about comparing holiday seasons? You won’t be able to track this if you aren’t keeping track of your income + expenses. Whether you use the old fashioned pen and paper, digital spreadsheet, or a software application, you need to get it organized.

  7. Utilize contracts: it is all too easy to get yourself in a pickle. If you are selling services, contracts can really save you time, headaches and money. It lays out the scope and protects you from client retaliation if something were to go south.

  8. Send out invoices: this not only keeps billable clients organized but helps act as a receipt for both of your records.

  9. Know your one sentence: I love Nikki Elledge Brown’s tips for this one. Know your sentence that describes what you do in a way that leads conversations.

  10. Quit working for free: it’s time you get out of the “portfolio building” phase and put dollars in your bank for what you do.

  11. Invest in yourself: need some mindset shifts, an accountability partner, or cheerleader? Consider hiring a business coach to help you stay on track.

  12. Invest in your business: maybe there’s a book out there that can teach you selling strategies or an e-course that can teach you how to master MailChimp. Learning from the experts may costs money, but can save you loads of time and patience.

  13. Talk about what you do: there’s no reason to hide what you do! Talk about it, shout it out, tell everyone, and be proud.

  14. Have a beautiful (and functioning) digital storefront: there’s no magic level or certain amount you need to be selling or bringing in before you worry about your digital storefront (i.e. your website). The time is now.

  15. Plan out your content: whether you write a blog or just have social media accounts, tailoring a plan not only will save you time, but give you a more holistic take on your messaging, focus and calls to action. Start tracking with this handy worksheet.

  16. Measure your success: It’s hard to know where to spend your time if you don’t know what is working. Make sure to check your analytics to see what posts are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what just isn’t working. You might be surprised about what you find.

  17. Order business cards: you never know where or when you’ll run into a future client or customer, so be prepared!

  18. Ask for help: we don’t expect you to be a pro at everything. Recognizing where you might need some extra help is key to moving forward. Consider hiring out things you don’t have time for or haven’t mastered.

  19. Join a mastermind or networking group or creative club: having a support system can make all the difference! Find a group in your area to start connecting.

  20. Change what isn’t working: is there a certain marketing strategy that costs big bucks but just doesn’t work for you? Cut it out. Being in business is all about learning from trial and error.

  21. Give yourself a title: want to be called Boss Lady, Creative Director, CEO? Whatever makes you feel most legit, go for it.

  22. Order merchandise: there’s nothing like seeing your logo on your notepad every day or on the mug you drink from. Once you see a part of your business in real life like that it changes things.

  23. Pop up at must-attend events: be in your community. Snap amazing pictures and share your experience. People love connecting with people, so be a person and stop hiding behind what you sell.

  24. Know when to turn away business: it seems goofy that you would ever turn away a paying client, but if they aren’t the right fit, going to cause too much of a headache, or it isn’t the work you love doing, it is ok to turn people away. We give you permission to say no.

  25. Grow a tribe: There is strength in numbers and people love being a part of something bigger than themselves. See how you can start connecting with your clients or customers on and off line. Grow a community. Want in on ours? Join our secret society here.

We realize that these steps are just tiny pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like contracts and business cards we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you map it all out with the Easiest Business Plan Ever!!

Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth.

 


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Goals, Entrepreneur, Organization & Productivity

Defining Your Goals: For Your Business & Your Life

Sure every one of you has heard you should set goals, but do you know why it is important for both your business and your life? No, this isn't some silly method to keep that New Year's Resolution you already gave up on. It's about defining specific, measurable goals that will motivate you to achieve them. Also, find out how Jim Carrey made $10 million dollars through positive visualization. 

Sure every one of you has heard you should set goals, but do you know why it is important for both your business and your life? No, this isn't some silly method to keep that New Year's Resolution you already gave up on. It's about defining specific, measurable goals that will motivate you to achieve them. Also, find out how Jim Carrey made $10 million dollars through positive visualization.  |  Think Creative Collective

The Key to Motivation

Saying you will get 10 loads of laundry folded and dishes put away will more than likely put you off to a terrible start (not that cleaning can't be your thing). Before you even start making a list you need to get your head around your goals being motivational. What will actually pump you up, set yourself apart and make you shine? Like I talked about in my journey, I had the wrong frame of mind. I was shooting for that next level and not the next thing that would fulfill my spirit and myself. 

Get SMART

Bare with me, you have heard this, but have you ever actually practiced making SMART goals?  No, no, you haven't, or maybe you did for an afternoon, but you didn't stick with it. 

S - Specific

Saying you will redo your website is not even close to specific. Perhaps you want to refresh your website to drive more traffic, get more leads and attain customers. The goal is aspirational, but not specific in nature. WHO is involved? WHAT is my desired outcome? WHEN do you need to achieve it? Is it a hard or soft deadline? WHERE can this be accomplished?  HOW will you achieve it? What is required and necessary?

M – Measurable

You defined that you want to drive more traffic to attain more customers, but how would you measure that? Perhaps, 3 months from launching you want to have created on average 20% more traffic daily, 10% more conversion to leads and 5% moving into customer acquisitions. Sounds easy? Try creating a specific measurable goal now.

A – Attainable

Woah, you just said you wanted 20% MORE TRAFFIC? Cool, that is measurable, but is that even close to attainable? If you are driving 100 daily readers to your blog, 20% more may be totally within reach, but what it that number was 10x? Make sure your measurable goal is actually attainable. Compare your previous performance to what you wrote down as your initial specific, measurable goal. Is it on trend? Do you need to scale back? Or were you too conservative?

R – Relevant

If your specific, measurable, attainable traffic is to build a new website that drives 20% more traffic, but 90% of your sales are in retail, this may not be relevant. Are your goals actually pushing your overall aspirations forward?

T – Time Bound

You must give yourself an overall time constraint. Give yourself a due date. To make these large goals possible they must have a deadline. Perhaps you outline the major goal to be done in 3 months. Perfect, what now?

Create an Action Plan

So by now you have at least one SMART goal at the top of mind and there are probably a few bubbling on the back burner. But now you are totally overwhelmed with this giant task (this is a good point to double check yourself on the attainable portion). What's next? You need an action plan ready and willing to help you achieve your goal.

If you havent already, jot down your goal – with pen and paper. For myself, I have strategic systems put in place to help me with what is next.

I take that note and immediately add it to Wunderlist. If you havent yet looked into this app, you must do so. You can create boards based on different categories of your life. I have one for Home (which I share with my husband), Work and even Volunteer Work. You can add categories as necessary for yourself – some ones to consider: career/business, financial, education, family, health, lifestyle and yes, even ego gratification.

On the board that makes sense, write down your first SMART goal. Attach a deadline – the time bound piece. Now you can create reminders, subtasks and even notes to get you to the next level. To create actionable information, I star my most critical and make those my top tier goals.

Tips

  • All goals must be positive! If you go in with the wrong frame of mind you will never reach the end. Perhaps you want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. If you tag because I am overweight on the end you never will get around to it. Instead, if you add to have more energy and spend more time with my children that 10 pounds automatically seems way more doable.
  • Write them down. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, you must first physically write it down. You can go on and type up your action plan, but that initial goal must be in pen and paper. Consider it a mini contract with yourself. If you need to sign your name to make it official do it. Though the research isnt quite as strong (as most would lead you to believe) – I personally have found a difference in writing it down.
  • Rank and prioritize your goals. Not everything can happen all at once, so set your priorities. A wise women once told me, start everyday with two main priorities. Before you do anything else, and I mean anything, no email, no texting, no social media, get out and do your first task 100% undistracted. You now have reached 50% of your goals complete and it is probably only 8:20 a.m. Set aside a second uninterrupted time when you can be productive, perhaps it is right after lunch. If number two isnt already done this is a great time to complete it. Not only will you get more accomplished, but you will have a better idea of what is attainable during your focused time. Perhaps you will even reach a state of Flow (but that is a whole other conversation).
  • Reflect often. Making a goal is one thing, but if you never put the wheels in motion, of course you will never arrive at your final destination. You must reflect and reflect often. Recently a friend, ironically named Joe Carey, described Jim Carreys key to success. I heard the whole story, but was so intrigued; I had to find the original source. In 1997, Oprah interviewed Jim on national television (don't start googling, just watch it below). He described how he wrote himself a check, long before the money was in the bank for $10 million dollars (for acting services rendered). He dated it 3 years out and put it in his wallet. He referenced it frequently and saw it slowly deteriorate. Low and behold it all came true when he found out he got the gig on Dumb & Dumber. Sound word of advice from Jim, You cant just visualize and go eat a sandwich. All that rubber has to meet the road, with hard work and dedication. In the words of Oprah If you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it.   

Celebrate Your Success! (And Debrief)

When a fighter pilot goes on a mission, he ends every mission, successful or not with a debrief. It is not only an opportunity to reflect, but a time to spend working on ways to be better next time and celebrate the victories. Every goal accomplished big or small needs a celebration. It may be the simple ding of checking it off your Wunderlist, but my personal favorites involve others. A friend recently texted me that a customer had received 5 times their initial investment on a marketing campaign she was working on. It was followed with many exclamation points! I couldnt have been prouder (or happier) that she chose me to share her successes with. Find a friend or family member that understands the stakes in the game and can really feel it with you. Mom, ALWAYS feels it! She is my biggest fan and biggest cheerleader. Top-secret tidbit, she would make me do cheers, yes cheers in the car before every interview. I may have laughed and shrugged at the hand movements she was describing over the phone, but it made me smile. And heck, I got the job!

What are your top 3 SMART goals? Comment below - we will help keep you accountable!


We realize that this SMART goals are just one piece of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like reflection and ranking goals we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you inside our free 7-Day Email Course “Spark Your Creativity: 7 Steps to Ignite Your Creative Business”. 

Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth. Start your free course today. 


We love to cheer on your accomplishments over on instagram!

Systems, Goals, Formulas & Strategies, Instagram

How to Create a Foolproof Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media is ever-changing. It feels like you blink and the “kids” are into some new platform, chatting about some new trend. As much as we’d love to tell you if you follow these 5 steps that you would magically have it all figured out - sorry, that ain’t happening.

What we can tell you, however, is that it isn’t as complicated as you keep making it in your head. This isn’t plastic surgery. No one is in mortal danger if you “do something wrong”. Social Media is one giant science experiment. You get to test, hypothesize, and analyze results. Once that’s all done you just start over. The learning game is never really over. You just keep going and adapting.

Generally, you fall into one of the following categories. You either have no idea where to start with a social media strategy and are searching for the magic potion to make it worth your time, or you have put in the time, but aren’t seeing the results you so desperately want. We're here to tell you that either way there are options to get you going and on the right path. Sure, you have been told a million times you need to be on social media, but do you really know why?

Generally you fall into one of the following categories. You either have no idea where to start with a social media strategy and are searching for the magic potion to make it worth your time or you have put in the time, but aren’t seeing the results you so desperately want. We're here to tell you either way there are options to get you off and on the right path. Sure, you have been told a million times you need to be on social media, but do you really know why?  Click to read why + how to get started!  |  Think Creative Collective

The top 4 reasons why you NEED a social media marketing strategy:

  • This is where your people spend the majority of their time! Social media can NOT be ignored! “According to this latest research, people in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour, if not more. But Americans aren’t even the most dependent on these networks when compared to denizens of other countries — in fact, smartphone users in Thailand, Argentina, Malaysia, Qatar, Mexico, and South Africa checked these networking apps at least 40 times a day. Seriously, how popular can you be?” (source) If your audience is there, you need to be!

  • See 150% or more return on investment! Social media is just as important as every other part of your business. Forbes reported a whopping 95% return on investment, with nearly 30% of those polled seeing more than 150%! (source) What if you had a strategy that kept you in that 150% or more category all of the time?

  • Expose yourself to thousands of potential new leads every month. This has to be built into your business plan. Even if you went to a new networking event every single day, would it be possible to introduce yourself to thousands, if not tens of thousands of new people every month? Social media is one of the few ways to get your message spread far and wide, without you having to do all the leg work.

  • Convert leads to sales even faster than before! Social media allows your audience of potential customers to get to know you. Over time that builds likability and eventually trust. Trust is ultimately what turns a blind lead into a hot lead, ready to buy. If you aren’t spending your time online you are leaving money on the table . . . period.

How to Get Started

By now you see the potential, but you are stuck about what to do next. Let’s get this strategy in action with some simple next steps and strategies to keep you on target.

Do you know your customers?

Before you can even begin to put wheels in action is important to know where to put your time in and find the right people. First you need to identify your ideal client or customer by finding your muse. You can use our handy worksheet to get started.

Once you have identified what they look like, you need to figure out where they are spending their time online. Not every social media channel works for every audience. Not sure of the answer? Don’t be afraid to set up a survey or even just ask your current clients or customers where they like to hang out.

Set Goals and Start Planning

Before you even write down post ideas or throw out campaign headlines, we suggest you start with some intentional goal setting. Give yourself some real numbers to measure your success against. Maybe it is actual sales referred from a social network, or maybe you start even smaller and just commit to a certain number of posts in a month. Regardless of your goals you have to write them down and start holding yourself accountable.

Some of our favorite tools are these goal setting worksheets we developed inside the Biz Chic Co-Op. They not only allow you to break things down by month, but see the BIG picture set up by quarter. Here you can find more info about these worksheets or get instant access to them here.

After you have your goals set up, we suggest a solid brainstorm. Dump all your ideas out on paper. Start developing a content calendar over the next month. And as the weeks roll by, look at them individually and in much more detail. Need help knowing where to start? You can utilize our social media checklist on both a daily and monthly basis to keep up with maintenance. These tools are all ready for you inside our Biz Chic membership. Learn more or jump in now!

Start Small

From the time I (Abagail) was little, I felt like everything had to be all or nothing. Like playing sports, or dieting. But business isn’t like that! This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and you have to have steam to keep going. So don’t be afraid to start small. This isn’t about overwhelming changes. This is about taking it one baby step at a time. Do one thing consistently. Eventually do that well and then try to add in more. There is no sense in doing a million things if they aren’t adding up.

Delegate as Necessary

As much as any business owner I have ever met wants to stay in control of their company, especially in the public eye, sometimes that smarter (wo)man knows when it is time to ask for help. It is 100% ok to start going down the path of strategic online marketing and then realize you need to delegate to a member of your team to be successful or even hire outside consultants for strategy.

Get Your Wheels Turning

Once you have a strategy in place, it is important to have a system set up to support it! This needs to be a daily ritual that feels natural for you and your business. We personally utilize plenty of handy tools to make it even easier on us. We have rounded up many of our favorites for you, right over here.

Track Your Results

Just as important as goal setting, you have to see what is and isn’t working. Check out the built in analytics tools for the various social mediums you utilize. Keep tabs on your referrals via Google Analytics. Write down your observations and how your goals did or didn’t pan out.

Give it Time - Tweak & Repeat

Know it won’t happen overnight. This is not Noah’s ark. People don’t just show up. There is a lot of work involved to get everything just right, and sometimes the missing piece is time itself. Allow yourself to tweak what isn’t working and repeat the steps. Set new goals. Write down new ideas. And make big bold plans for the future. You can only get out of it, what you invest in it yourself!

It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

As much as I love a well laid plan, sometimes you just need a kick in the booty to get started. So here are 4 things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to up your social media game. Are you ready?

1. Show Up Consistently

If you literally did nothing else, this is the part that matters most. You have to show up consistently. No, I don’t mean once a week at 2 p.m. you need to post something. I mean you have to be there and be there often. Gone are the days of posting once and then forgetting you have a social media presence for a week or two. You have to be there every day. And the more often you are there the more opportunity you have to get in front of more people, more often.

2. Get in the Trenches

You have to be relatable to people. If your accounts look like they are run by robots, then you likely aren’t gaining followers at the speed you could or should. You have to get in the trenches with people. Find your common ground. Give people a glimpse into your life that shows that you are a tad more human and a tad less perfect.

Bad: Post photo of bruised ankle. Caption - “I twisted my ankle when I fell off the porch.”

Ok, good try. You definitely are human (aren’t we all klutzes?) But, here’s the other secret, people still like seeing pretty things.

Best: Post photo of gorgeous breakfast spread. Caption - “I’d love to tell you this is the magical breakfast I had this morning. But it wasn’t. Instead the dogs woke me up at 4 a.m. My husband hogged all the blankets. And I ended up sleeping on the couch.”

Now, all of a sudden you have turned that beautiful feed of yours (trust me, people like pretty pictures) into something I understand and relate too. Bonus points if you can tie it back into your business.

3. Create a Sense of Community

Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something. How can you incorporate a sense of community into what you do? Do your customers start being referred to as “VIPs” after they make their first purchase? What are you doing to give these people a chance to interact with each other?

No one is saying you need to go start a Facebook group and invite everyone to start chatting about your products and services. In the same way that you want to appear human to your audience they also need to feel like they are connected to other like-minded individuals. Think about some of the ways you can spark some engagement on your feed. Ask thought provoking questions. See how you can refer your customers to each other. Highlight them and their accomplishments (if or when that seems appropriate). You got this, you just need to think outside of the box.

4. Tell Them Why You Rock

This is where we see the most people struggle. They may be able to curate a beautiful feed. Create a sense of community and appear relatable. But they forget they run a business. You know, the kind that charges money for products or services!

As easy as it is to fall away from talking about ourselves, it is SO FREAKING IMPORTANT. Do you think Apple just sits around and waits for someone to bring their company up?! No, they are out there repping their product, doing launches and yes even leaking their own stuff (shocking I know).

You are not a broken record if you talk about your product more than once. You are not slimy if you tell someone to buy into what you do. You offer amazing things. You have to tell people why they matter, why they need them and why you rock.

You got this. Quit overthinking it and go out and create a foolproof social media marketing strategy.


See Our Strategy in Action on Instagram!


Marketing, Goals

Should You Write a Book? Plus, Everything You Need to Know about Publishing

Have you heard that a book is a great tool with which to scale your business? Then you’ve heard correctly! I’ve seen firsthand what a book can do for a small business owner and firmly believe that not only should you write a book, but you need to.

Have you heard that a book is a great tool with which to scale your business? Then you’ve heard correctly! I’ve seen firsthand what a book can do for a small business owner and firmly believe that not only should you write a book, but you need to.  When potential clients ask why they should take the time to write and publish a book (because it does take some time), I give them what I call “the big four” reasons. | Think Creative Collective

When potential clients ask why they should take the time to write and publish a book (because it does take some time), I give them what I call “the big four” reasons:

  1. Credibility

  2. Visibility

  3. Growth, and

  4. Money

Let’s face it: You’re an expert in your industry. You’re asked questions all the time — and you know the answers.

All that sounds good to most small business owners and creative entrepreneurs — what’s not to like, right? — and they start to think it’s something they should do. Then they realize that they don’t know a thing about the book publishing industry. Let’s break down the two primary ways to publish a book: traditional and self publishing. For each, let’s say you know what your topic is and you’ve written the first draft of your manuscript. (I know that might be a stretch, but we’re doing a simplified overview of the process so you can get the gist of how it works.)

Traditional Book Publishing

Most publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts (though some smaller and niche publishers do) — meaning that if you send your manuscript to them directly in the hopes that someone will read it and claim the publisher needs you and your brilliant book, you’ll be sorry because it probably won’t even be read — so your first step is to get a literary agent. The agent will pitch your book to publishing houses and act as a liaison between you and the publisher during the contract phase. So how do you find an agent? You pitch them, along with a book proposal or submission package. Each agent wants something a bit different, so you’ll need to do some homework. There’s a resource called the Literary Marketplace that lists agent information based on genre. I urge my clients to take a look at similar books in bookstores. Authors thank their agents all the time in book acknowledgments. So I have my clients literally go to the bookstore and read book acknowledgments to look for agents’ names. Once you have a list of agents to contact, it’s time to put together a proposal. Every agent I know asks for the table of contents, the first few chapters, and a market analysis. Some want more than this, but those are  a good starting point.

Fast-forward a few months. You get a “Yes, I’d love to represent you!” from an agent. Pop the bubbly! You sit back and wait while the agent does the legwork to get your proposal accepted by a publishing house and negotiate terms with them. Once you get a deal in place and sign on the dotted line, your book will enter production. You’ll receive a check with your “advance against royalties”. That money is yours no matter what happens with book sales. After a few months, you’ll review edits, make requested changes, and wait some more. You’ll have some marketing and promo work to do, because unless your name is Elizabeth Gilbert or Brené Brown, your marketing budget is going to be a lot smaller than you think. The days of 20-city book tours and the like are long gone; publishers simply don’t have the money they used to. After a few weeks or a couple months, your book will be pushed to the publisher’s backlist, where it’s still available but not actively marketed. You may or may not earn royalties, depending on how many copies your book sells.

Timeline: 12-18 months from contract with a publisher (plus time looking for agent, and agent pitching publishers)

Pros

  • The publisher handles (and pays for) editing and design

  • You keep your advance (even if your book doesn’t sell one copy)

  • The publisher will likely do at least minimal marketing

Cons

  • The publisher has final say over design and editorial decisions

  • Time to market can be painfully slow

Self-Publishing

While the end result (a book or ebook) is the same no matter how a book is published, self-publishing couldn’t be more different from traditional publishing. The biggest difference is that there are no gatekeepers at any point in the process. No literary agents to “pass” on your idea. No publishers saying “no thanks.” Because of this, lots of people who, frankly, shouldn’t publish books, do. For this reason alone, self-publishing used to be considered the ugly stepsister of the publishing industry. Fortunately that’s no longer the case — especially for non-fiction. (Hurrah for you and me!)

What gets the project in motion is simply you deciding to do it. You decide whether to have the book edited and formatted professionally. You hire someone to design the cover the way you envision it (or you DIY it). You upload the files to Amazon and other booksellers. You are large and in charge throughout the process, boss lady!

Timeline: As little as a few weeks — or as long as you need

Pros

  • You have final say over design and editorial decisions

  • You keep much more money per book (up to 70%)

  • You set the price of your book / ebook

Cons

  • You are responsible for all marketing efforts

  • You pay for editing and design upfront

  • You handle (or pay someone to handle) admin tasks such as obtaining an ISBN and registering copyright

So, which method is right for you? I work with clients on both platforms. Since leaving the world of in-house publishing to work with authors directly, fifteen years ago — and these numbers are unscientific — self-publishing authors are 95% happier. Why? Well, lots of reasons, but here are the two that I hear over and over and over again:

  1. Control. You run your own business, so you are used to being the decision-maker — AND you’re comfortable in that role. The idea of a publisher choosing the cover of your book is not appealing to you. The idea of working with a publisher’s timeline and waiting…and waiting…and waiting for your book to launch drives you batty, and

  2. Money. Again, you’re a business owner first and foremost. You’re not trying to be a professional author. You’re simply trying to grow your business and using a book to help you do so. Nothing wrong with wanting to make money. In publishing, that happens when you self-publish — period — because that’s when you keep the largest portion of profits.

I know, I know. The idea, though exciting, is still a bit overwhelming, right? Here are my top-three practical tips to get you from “No way!” to “Uh, heck yes!”

  • Think of book writing —  and book marketing, too —  as a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long haul, so buckle in and pace yourself. There’s no rush. Set realistic goals for your timeline. Don’t say you’ll get your writing done in a month if within that month you have a ten-day vacation. Don’t say you’re going to publish your book on January 1st if you have another launch planned that month and won’t have time to market it

  • Repurpose, baby! While the idea of writing ALL. THE. WORDS. is daunting (I’ve been there!), you have more words in your arsenal than you realize. Mine your blog posts, your guest posts, your email newsletters, transcripts of interviews, and podcasts. You’ll be amazed at how much you can use with just a bit of tweaking

  • Don’t skip proofreading! I say this not because my bread and butter is editing, but because, as an avid reader, I can tell nine times out of ten if a book has been proofread, let alone edited. Your book is not just for fun; it’s a tool to grow your business. Your product must be professional!

So what do you say? Have I convinced you that it’s possible and that it’s worth it? I sure hope so. If you have questions, let me know. I love to talk books anytime!


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Mistakes, Goals, Profitability

Entrepreneur Diaries: How to Get Paid to be Creative

Getting paid to be creative is a myth. Lately, we’ve heard this phrase being tossed around a lot. Heck, we’ve even used this exact phrase to describe our journey ourselves. But the phrase isn’t really accurate.

We aren’t getting paid to be creative. We’re getting paid because we are intellectual businesswomen. We take our business seriously and structure it to pay us. We are constantly strategizing new ways to bring in income and grow our business. We test new ways to market, make new sales processes, and offer new things in new ways. And we do it over and over again.

So if you’ve been thinking it’s impossible to get paid with your creative talents it’s because you’re right. I wish we lived in a world where we could just make pretty things and automatically get paid for it. But that’s not the case. You have to learn the business behind making money. The strategies that lead to success.   |  How to Get Paid to Be Creative  |  Think Creative Collective

So if you’ve been thinking that it’s impossible to get paid for your creative talents, it’s because you’re right. We wish we lived in a world where we could just make pretty things and automatically get paid for it. But that’s not the world we live in. You have to learn the business behind making money. The strategies that lead to success.

We have made many mistakes along the way and made many false assumptions. Let’s face it, we used to run our businesses as a side hustle. We added on crazy things like handmade cotton and leather hair accessories as an offshoot of our main business. It made zero business sense. Sure we had fun, and we sold to friends and family, but the journey really stopped there. It wasn’t until we stopped and took a good hard look at what wasn’t working that we were able to put the wheels in motion and turn things around.

We are constantly getting rid of products and services that don't sell. We continuously trim off the fat and focus on a brand that builds people up, and we work hard not to be like everyone else. Our business was far from perfect fresh out of the gate. It took making a lot of mistakes to get it to where it is today.

The 10 Biggest Mistakes We’ve Made (And Why We are Glad We Made Them)

Starting, growing and running a business is one of the hardest things anyone can do. Many of us make “big” mistakes, but today we want to share what we’ve learned with you, so hopefully you don’t have to make them too.

1. USING A FUDGE FACTOR FOR THE SAKE OF FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When we started our own business, we gave ourselves a fancy title. Every time we wrote about ourselves, we would use the 3rd person. We thought that by making someone think that we had a huge team they would believe in us more.

Now as part of a duo, we can see the value we bring together, but we never lie about it being any more than just the two of us. Two people help sustain and grow this business, while running it daily, and that’s something to be proud of!

2. DOING EVERYTHING TO TRY TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE

In the early days, Abagail offered pretty much everything that a large ad agency or firm would offer. You could get a website, billboard, and ads. Suggest practically anything you could come up with and she would do it. Generally, this just led to confusion.

We keep using the analogy of the cheesecake factory. You walk in and they hand you a 50-page menu. You flip through and some things catch your eye, but become so overwhelmed with all the choices you end up getting the exact same thing you always do. So we began to limit our offerings to be tailor made for exactly who we wanted to work with. Sure, we’re able to produce just about any marketing, advertising, graphic design, photography type thing you can come up with, but we don’t want to overwhelm our clients with too large a selection.

3. BELIEVING IN THE MYTH “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME”

We’ve made this mistake all too many times. We made it with our first websites. We put them out there and would check Google Analytics daily, as if something would change. All we got were crickets. But we weren’t giving anyone a reason to come, so why would they?

Abagail even created a whole new product offering of custom wedding invitations with the thought that wedding photographers could offer them as an add-on to their services. She put together pricing, packets, and even found photographers I thought were highly interested…. Again crickets. In this case it wasn’t what she was offering, necessarily, it just wasn’t mutually beneficial (enough) so they didn’t see the reason to bother.

4. LACKING CONSISTENCY

We would go through spurts where we would post to social media, or maybe 3 times a year we would write a blog post that we thought would help someone, but it wasn’t getting us anywhere. If we wanted to do this and do this right, we needed to be in it 100%.

Now, our level of consistency may be overkill for some, but we write and post a new article for the blog at least 3 days a week. It posts at the same time every day, 5 a.m. CST (don’t worry, that baby is scheduled, as we are most definitely still asleep!). Then we take it a step further and are present on social media daily. By being there and being there consistently, our numbers rise weekly and we have seen our audience continue to grow.

5. HOLDING BACK FROM SHARING OUR INSIGHTS, WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE

We have always wanted to write and share our thoughts and knowledge, but something kept holding us back. Maybe it was for fear of failing, of misspelling too many words, or that no one would listen.

Since putting ourselves and our thoughts on growing a small business out there, the feedback has been nothing but positive. We get emails, text messages, and social media comments thanking us, sharing what we have to say, and telling us that we have an interesting perspective. Sure, we feel warm and fuzzy that people think we are great, but getting kudos really isn’t why we do it. We write to help people. We want to make a difference in the world and we have found even if our post helps one person every day, that is a dent that matters.

6. UNDERVALUING CAPABILITIES

We have all been there. That dark place where you feel like you might as well be making minimum wage because no one cares. Get yourself right up out of there. QUIT IT! You are so worth it and you need to tell people about it. We spent years hiding behind our fees, or changing them at the last second because we thought someone would say no to what we were worth. But we bring something to the table, something different to what everyone else has. We have unique talents, experiences and skills. And SO DO YOU! So stop it.

7. HANGING AROUND THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE

You know exactly who we’re talking about. They are the negative talkers, the haters and the jealous ones. The people who tell you that you aren’t capable, that you are making a mistake and you should find a “normal” job. The people who put you down or put you out. For way too long we let these people creep into our lives, on and offline. Often they are very decent human beings, but they simply don't believe in us or our business. We shut those people down and we are proving them wrong day by day. Some days we want to rush back because they seem to have a bit more common sense, but really, most of them just play it safe; play life safe.

We are not going to reach our goals if we keep telling ourselves that we can’t. So we continue to find people (many of them strong women) to surround ourselves with. Many of them run their own businesses and have dreams even bigger than ours. They go after what they want. They refuse to listen to anyone who gets in their way. They make us happy and we are so glad to call them friends, peers and clients. Our people are what get us through, and we are so glad we found them!

Who you are today and who you become in the future has a lot to do with whom you choose to spend your time
— Author Unknown

8. NOT ASKING FOR HELP (OR LOOKING FOR IT)

We are the worst delegators ever. Probably something we inherited from our moms, and our mom's mother, but hey, you can’t help what you are made of. We have been “Yes” women from the get-go. We would tell everyone we could do it whether or not we had the time, resources or capacity to handle whatever it was. Sure, this was a tool to help us grow, but many times it also slowed us down. Now, when we know we are in over our heads, we ask for help.

9. EXPECTING OVERNIGHT SUCCESS

This really goes back to the “build it and they will come” mentality, but really expecting all the stars to align on your own timeline is totally unreasonable. The moment we lowered our expectations (and actually researched what was plausible), but also continued to put our all into everything we were are doing, we started to be surprised by the opportunities that have come to fruition in such a short period of time.

The process can be slow and sometimes tedious, but if you bite off a little bit each day you are totally capable of getting through it. The first step to achieving your goals is believing they are possible.

10. HIDING BEHIND WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING

We were so afraid that no one would want to listen to us that we would try to mimic what other people were doing. We would try to write similar articles, about similar topics that we thought would attract people, and specifically the people we wanted to attract. But the moment we stopped trying to be everyone else and focused on being ourselves, people started to notice.


Making these mistakes hasn't been easy, but without them we wouldn't be where we are today. We hope, however, that by learning from our mistakes, you won't need to make the same ones in your business! If you are ready for guidance, clarity and structure to all the (amazing) ideas you have rolling around in your head pay attention. 

We want you to be able to dive in further into making your biz profitable. We want you to stop thinking this is a pipe dream and understand that there are distinct strategies that you can use to grow a profitable business. Before you get there you need a plan. Yes, an actual written down plan. Some might call it a business plan. We like to call it “Party in my Biz Pants, Because Now I Know What the Heck is Going On Plan”. Rolls right off the tongue, yeah?

We wouldn’t want you to head out to make this plan without some guidance. Heck, not just guidance, but we want to give you the freaking worksheet to make the plan. Oh, and it’s free. Happy day! We created The Easiest Business Plan Ever and you can grab your free copy by heading here. 

Pop in your first name and email and we’ll send it right over. Here’s what we DON’T want you to do: please do not go download it and love it but let it die a slow death in your “Downloads” folder. It serves you no purpose there.

Instead, go download it and PRINT it off immediately. Even if you can’t fill it out right this second at least have it sitting on your desk. Or taped to your fridge. Or the wine rack. Wherever you’ll see it the most and be reminded to do it.

Then just spend a half hour (seriously, don’t over think this) and fill it out.

And then we want you to call us when shit starts to go down in your business, because we told you so. Really. If you don’t call us at least email us. Heck, email us to call you and we will.

So stop reading this and get to printing. Right now. Tag us on Instagram (@ThinkCreativeCollective) in a shot of your blank piece of paper so we at least know you’ve printed it. Then we can hold you accountable.


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