On Monday morning I had coffee with my close creative gal pal, Lindsey. Lindsey co-owns a grab-and-go food bar in OKC offering up clean eats like soup and salad, she does one-on-one nutrition and food coaching, and is always pursuing new training, certification, and degrees in her field of study. She is a dedicated student of her craft who just wants to help people feel better after they eat a meal. Lindsey loves reading The New Yorker, she regularly listens to foodie podcasts, and enjoys a good slow dinner with friends. Lindsey is also a really talented writer – the problem is she doesn’t know what to write about. She’s feeling stuck, but she’s not alone. The downside of being a creative for a living is having to create even when you’re feeling uninspired, blocked, or downright afraid.
Together we brainstormed a few ideas of how she could structure her content and create systems for always having something to write about. We also talked about the fear of not being good enough and feeling inadequate when it comes to our own high standards. So today I thought I would share some of the ideas we came up with on our Monday morning coffee date in case you’re feeling stuck too.
When you’re feeling stuck just mind the gap.
First off, I know I’ve shared this Ira Glass quote before but it’s worth repeating:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
If you’re feeling like Lindsey, and every other creative entrepreneur who is a student of life, then you will constantly feel as if you’re coming across new gaps just as you close the old ones. That’s a good thing. It means you’re growing. But like Ira Glass advises – you just have to keep writing! Here are some ideas to get you going:
When you don’t know what to write about – write about what you’ve been talking about.
Don’t underestimate or take for granted your gifts of knowledge. What kinds of questions or conversations have you answered lately? Write about that! For example, as of yesterday I had no idea what I was going to post this week so I started mentally combing through my conversations with friends and clients. My Monday morning coffee with Lindsey was top of mind so now I’m writing about it and hopefully sharing something valuable with you along the way.
When you don’t know what to write about – read something.
Nothing gets my gears turning like reading a good memoir or self-development book. If it doesn’t spark entirely new topics or ideas to write about I’ll simply share a review. Not everyone has the time to read the book for themselves so write about what you learned from it or how it inspired you. My review of Daring Greatly caught Brené Brown’s attention and from there she became a Braid Method client! (Now if only Amy Poehler would become my BFF.)
When you don’t know what to write about – share what you’ve been working on.
What have you been working on lately? Write about it. It doesn’t have to just be the polished finished product. You can share the behind-the-scenes of your creative process. Tell the story of what it was like to truly help your client – paint a picture of what they looked like before and after working with you. So for Lindsey it might not be just writing about the benefits of vitamin C but sharing how her client shifted and transformed when she started eating foods that nourished her body and mind.
When you don’t know what to write about – establish creative boundaries.
The cool part about working for yourself is it means you get to do whatever you want. But being creative can be overwhelming when the sky is the limit. So create constraints for yourself. Define the parameters for what you want to create – that might be limiting yourself to a topic, word count, or deadline. It might be working from writing prompts (Alexandra Franzen has some great ones here). And remember, once you create some rules for yourself you can always break them.
When you don’t know what to write about – dig into the details.
Lindsey went to a writing workshop hosted by the very talented food and memoir writer Molly Wizenberg. I asked Lindsey for one great writing tip she learned from the workshop and she said that Molly keeps a little 1” frame on her desk – it reminds her that she doesn’t have to write about All The Things. That she can take one small detail or fragment from her life and create a really deep story about what she sees through a 1” frame. What a great reminder.
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If you’re dealing with creative fear, need help with time management, or simply need a boost of inner-confidence when it comes to showing up and being seen you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. You can sign up anytime! It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content delivered straight to your inbox – plus, it’s a great way to invest in yourself at the beginning of a new year.
Or if you’re looking for more guidance around sharing your content check out our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. It will be in-session this Friday, January 16 – which means registration closes tomorrow! Learn more and sign-up here.
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Here at Braid Creative we aren’t really known for doling out business-specific advice. What we are known for is branding and business visioning. That means we’re coaching, designing, writing, and branding creative entrepreneurs so they have the confidence and clarity to package up what they do and offer it to the world. But we only take our creative entrepreneurs so far – after they work with us they still have to put themselves out there in a way that makes it easy for their dream customer to find them and buy them. Over the years we’ve gotten really good at attracting our dream customers, talking about money, and pricing our own offerings in a way that never makes us feel apologetic or insecure. So today I want to share a few of our pricing secrets.
PRICE WITH YOUR GUT
Anytime I have to make a decision about money, like how much I want to charge for an offering or service, I go with my gut. Try this: literally pretend as if your brain resides in your core and ask yourself “Does $500 feel right? How about $1,000?” Your body holds a lot of wisdom if you’ll just listen to it. (This is also a good way to determine how much money you would like to be making!)
CRUNCH THE NUMBERS
Okay, this is the opposite of intuitive pricing and going with your gut. Run the numbers – how much money do you need to live your life? How much do you want to work? Let’s say you want to make $100,000 a year and you want to work on 2 projects a month – that means each project needs to be $4,166.66 dollars. So that’s what you charge. If it seems like really obvious and simple math that’s because it is.
GET A SECOND OPINION
My business partner and sister Tara is a gut-pricer like me. So when we’re offered an opportunity where we need to make a decision involving money we blurt out what our guts are telling us at the same time. Sometimes those numbers match up. When they don’t we either split the difference or talk it out and come to an agreement. If you don’t have to have a business partner to get a second opinion, talk money with your significant other, a trusted friend, or hire a business coach to bounce money conversations off of.
PRICING ISN’T PERMANENT
No matter how you price yourself or your products, remember that it’s not permanent. You can always raise your rates or reduce them if that’s what you need to do for the health of your business. Just yesterday I was coaching a creative who felt super queasy about pricing her handmade screen-printed napkins at $20 (though, they’re totally worth $20 each.) It was enough to paralyze her from listing them on her Etsy page. She’s making $0 per napkin if nobody knows how to buy them! I asked her what it would feel like to start at $10 per napkin, sell a few, gain confidence and THEN raise her prices. She said “Wow, that actually feels really good.” She simply hadn’t considered that her prices aren’t permanent.
The last thing I want to say about pricing is that even after crunching the numbers, going with your gut, and tapping second opinions there is never a definite answer or formula that will tell you how much you should charge. If you feel as if you’re figuring it out as you go know that you’re not alone – everyone else is figuring it out as they go too.
P.S. I started a new podcast called Being Boss with Emily Thompson. Next week in Episode #2 we’ll be jamming on how to keep your cool when you’re freaking out about money. See more at our website here.
P.P.S. Our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration. It will be in-session from January 16-25. Learn more and register here.
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There’s this idea that when you work for yourself, especially as a creative entrepreneur, you are living the dream. The fantasy goes like this: you’re making things with your hands, brainstorming over coffee with creative colleagues, and doing so much yoga that you can finally get into complicated arm balances. But you know, and I know, that being your own boss isn’t so easy. Balancing work and life, paying the bills, wearing all the hats … it’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t always feel so dreamy.
Kathleen here. I write a lot about being your own boss here on the Braid blog, I give a peek behind the curtains of how we work in our exclusive Letters for Creatives, and I share snippets of my life in between it all, over on my personal blog, And Kathleen. So it’s been a long time coming, but now I’m finally launching a podcast called Being Boss. I’m teaming up with my good friend and creative confidant Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography, and every week we’ll be candidly talking to you, fellow bosses and aspiring-to-be’s, about the good and bad, the ups and downs – of being boss.
BEING THE BOSS
“Being The Boss” means being able to manage, plan, organize, invest, delegate, and make tough decisions. It’s not easy and doesn’t always come naturally to a lot of us creatives who just want to make a living doing what we love. But learning how to be the boss is how you make living the dream profitable.
“Being Boss” is an attitude. It’s confidence, being all in, stepping into uncertainty without losing your cool, and most of all being unapologetically who you are 100% of the time. “Boss” is an adjective that came on the scenes in the 1950s – it means cool or awesome. “That motorcycle jacket is boss!” But I love the Urban Dictionary definition written by Tiffany aka Ya Girl Miss Tiff: "Boss. noun - a person who is a leader, someone who runs shit in his/her hood or city. Example: If you got more than $100 G's in the bank and stackin paper every day, more than likely you are a Boss."
So yeah, we’re going to talk about stackin paper, setting goals for ourselves, and getting sh*t done – all the things that make us feel “Boss.” But there’s going to be a lot of talk about love, too, love for what we do, love for what we’ve created, and love for you guys out there trying to do the same.
Sign up at LoveBeingBoss.com or subscribe to our Being Boss newsletter below to be the first to know when our newest episode is released in early January.
BEING BOSS PODCAST
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