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Touch It Once/Toss the Broken Pen | Productivity for Creatives

Productivity for creative entrepreneurs

I recently learned a new productivity / time management tool – I’ve adopted it as my mantra for the week and have been trying my best to put it into practice. It’s this:

Touch it just once.

That means when you take a dish to the sink, wash it.
When you take off your clothes, put them in the hamper.
When you open an email, respond right then.

I’m pretty much the worst at all these things. I feel like everything can be saved for later … but later always has it’s own needs and demands to be met too – like mouths to feed or a TV show to be watched (I’m so curious to see what happens in this last season of Mad Men.) So instead of scanning emails, I’ll dedicate a block of time to reading and responding. And I’m sure my husband will especially appreciate it if my dishes could make it into the dishwasher as I go.

As you incorporate this practice into your life, you may find yourself struggling to only touch things once.

how to be productive when you're your own boss

A couple months ago, during a meeting, I grabbed a pen that didn’t work. I started to put it back in my jar of pens when my sister said “Throw it away.” So I did. And now my life is exponentially better because I will never grab that pen that doesn’t work ever again.

Then the other morning during my typical breakfast of oats & egg whites, I got a little bit of maple syrup on my spoon. In between bites I was trying to find exactly where this maple syrup was on my spoon and wipe it off with a napkin but with each bite my utensil hand was getting stickier. At that point I would normally just suffer through breakfast with the minor inconvenience of a sticky spoon, but I remembered my sister’s command to ditch the ink pen. Except now the dried out ink pen was a sticky spoon. So I got up, washed my hands, and grabbed a new spoon. I enjoyed the rest of my breakfast routine and started my day without annoyance.

So then I started thinking about all the other things I could edit out of my life. The uncomfortable bra that I never wear and constantly have to shove to the back of my drawer – I should just toss it (along with the sock that hasn’t had a match for years). Or my iPhone case that has to be removed every time I plug it into my sounddock – I should just get a better designed case that fits my dock adapter. Then there’s that high school acquaintance whose Facebook status updates always get me riled up – why are we still even “friends”? And of course, there are all the email blasts I get from stores I don’t even shop at flooding my inbox. How long would it take to hit “unsubscribe”?

Today I invite you to move through your day with an awareness to the little details you could just touch once or edit completely out of your life. Take note of all of the little things that deplete you of even the slightest bit of energy. And then I challenge you to touch it once and ditch the broken pen.

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P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.

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When Hustle Meets Woo-Woo in Your Creative Business | Braid Creative

hustle and woo-woo for your business

If you’ve got your eyes on our blog and your ears on the Being Boss Podcast — you’ve heard us mention a time or two the power of mindset, and making mental space for a successful business.

At Braid we use a chalkboard wall and physically draw out blank spaces as our practice of manifesting dream clients each quarter. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Caitlin here. I’m Braid’s assistant. I’ve been a long time follower of their work and blog and have been working with Tara, Kathleen, and Liz behind the scenes for the last several months. And without disrupting the amazing voices of Kathleen and Tara in this space, I wanted to pop in and share something that I’ve observed in working with them that perhaps they haven’t even really seen. Yes they’ve got the woo-woo working for them, but they’ve got some practical mojo working for them too.

I love me some good power-of-the-mind practices as much as the next gal. But when it comes to starting or even up-leveling, your own business, you’ve got to pair your woo with some hustle. I call it the “hustle-woo”...It’s a working title. Let’s just run with it here.

When it comes to your business, you’ve got to pair your woo with some hustle. Let’s call it the hustle-woo. (click to tweet)

pairing the hustle with woo woo as a creative entrepreneur

Not long ago, as summer vacations were winding down and we knew busy Fall was around the corner, the Braid sisters got a little vulnerable. They sent out a newsletter talking about how for the first time in a long time we were staring a quarter in the face on that chalkboard of ours, that was staring back completely blank. Void of any clients. Not a single one.

And that’s every creative entrepreneur’s nightmare, right? Not having those clients knocking down your door. But Tara and Kathleen handled it like the bosses they are. When I shared this post with them (writing it in secret) and the idea of the hustle-woo, here’s what they shared about how they used it to bounce back before a brief slow time could turn into a long slump:

We trusted the process. When we started to hear those insecure whisperings in our head of ‘We’ve run out of dream clients! We got a little too comfortable. It was too good to be true! The other shoe has indeed dropped!’ We trusted the process. We trusted our own Braid Method that had proven time and time again to work for us and our clients. We kept sharing our gifts of knowledge, blogging, writing, podcasting. That sounds pretty practical, but in fact, it was the woo part of the hustle-woo. It kept us in boss-mode, and kept those insecure whisperings leashed.” – Kathleen

We took action. I’m usually the ‘process’ half of Braid, and Kathleen is the ‘take action!’ But in this case I knew if we wanted to fill those blanks on the chalkboard, we had to get hustling—not in a gross salesy way, but just by intentionally reaching out to people who had previously reached out to us, write emails pointed right at the heart of what they needed, schedule face-to-face meetings, and take the time to really explain how we work together (not just send a canned response). After three weeks of walking a dozen creatives through our method (versus passively waiting for new, amazing clients to come knocking on our door) the chalkboard was filled with new amazing clients after all, and Fall could roll on in the way we’ve become accustomed to…. busy!” – Tara

Here’s what else I saw happening from the Braid wings—some critical ingredients to the hustle-woo really working:

1. Ask. It wasn’t that there weren’t any dream clients who wanted to work with Braid, it’s that they hadn’t been explicitly invited to work with Braid. A lot of people assumed we were too busy or too expensive to work with us one-on-one, so we straight-up invited our newsletter subscribers to hire us, and Kathleen straight up asked her podcast listeners to hire Braid if they were interested. Even if you have a product or brand that your followers love, they need to hear it straight from your mouth time and time again: Hey! I want to work with you! (click to tweet)

2. Make the space. Yes, they had already been making the space on the chalkboard, but they also made space in their schedules to be a little more hands-on about reaching out to clients. Instead of devoting hours to writing a new blog post each week, they repurposed some amazing content from a newsletter series that they knew would still connect with their audience (and it has!), so that they could spend those hours reaching out to potential clients and working on refining and tweaking their creative process instead.

3. Reconnect. We took a look at all the inquiries we had received and Kathleen and Tara took some time to personally reach out to some inquiries that felt like a good fit but for one reason or another had fallen out of touch. They knew these people were already big fans of Braid, and even if it hadn’t been the right time before, maybe now was the time to say yes!

4. Reassess. If one of your offerings isn’t selling, it’s time to reassess why that may be and then repackage it in a way that speaks to your clients’ needs now. We’ve been changing up some aspects of our onboarding process and making tweaks to our offerings so that we can attract even more dreamy clients. Tara and Kathleen thought about which parts of the process were sucking more energy than they were giving—both on our end and the client’s end—and began reworking them to be more user-friendly and straightforward across the board.

You will always have highs and lows in your business. There will be times when it will feel like clients just manifest themselves, and there will be times when you have to do a little more hustle to get them through the door. And it’s those times when it helps to get a little reflective and take an honest look at your business to see which areas can use a little refining and tweaking. If you think you could use some help in this area, check out our Braid Method Branding ECourse. It’s a lot more than finding your personal brand—it’s filled with great exercises to help you think about your business is ways you might not have before so that you can pair your woo with some hustle and keep moving forward.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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What Creative Experts Do—How to Be a Creative Expert | Braid Creative

What creative experts do

Something magical happens when you’ve become a creative expert. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you may find that you’re the last one to adopt the “creative expert” title for yourself, but at some point you’ll take a step back—after sending that final invoice to a client, after designing your 85th logo, after showing your client a moodboard and hearing that enthusiastic “YES!”—and you’ll think, “Wow! I am really good at this!”

“But I’m so busy in the doing!” you might say. And yeah, the client managing, business managing and the creating itself for sure, is a big part. But another part is doing what creative experts do. So we want to share with you our do-like-a-creative-expert list—and if you’re kind of at that “fraudy feeling” stage where you’re not quite ready to claim your creative expertise, you might find that you’ve got some of these items covered too:

Creative experts explain, they don’t sell.
You can’t have a business without a sales funnel because no matter how fabulous your services are, the idea that anything “just sells itself” is a lie. Creative experts know this, but they also know that a stuffy sales pitch is not going to do them any favors either. So what do they do? They explain. Your clients want a behind-the-scenes peek, a glimpse into what drives you to create an amazing product, and a preview of the journey you’ll take them on in your time working together.

Creative experts know that the sales process is really just a conversation—not polished and perfected, but genuine and transparent to really get that potential client to understand the process and connect with you and what you’re offering. (click to tweet)

how to be a creative expert

Creative experts predict and notice patterns.
This isn’t to say that each of your clients isn’t a unique and beautiful butterfly, but when you’re a creative expert, you understand your dream clients before you’ve even met them (click to tweet). You’ll begin to see which problems, worries, and frustrations are common among your favorite clients, and you’ll be able to anticipate those same needs for similar clients moving forward. Creative experts see these patterns and connect the dots so they can produce more content that is even more specific to their dream clients. Once you’re able to offer those specific solutions to those problems and concerns, the only thing they’re thinking is, “Oh my gosh this person gets me! I need to work with them immediately!”

Creative experts earn enthusiastic approval.
We’ve all had that client (or fear having that client) who after seeing the final logo, or the brand design, or the website, even final room (for you interior designers out there!)—just didn’t like it. Cue: heart drop, irrational anger, and feelings of hurt and rejection.

Creative experts know how to minimize the risk of ever getting to that disappointing place so late in the project, and instead get a response that’s more along the lines of an all-caps, exclamation-point-expression of love and excitement. And it’s not because they’re better at what they do, it’s because they know how to listen, adjust, and share the process along the way. By making your client feel like part of the process and be able to give you constructive feedback before you get too far in, you’re able to take some of that pressure off the final reveal and receive that enthusiastic approval.

Creative experts have a creative process.
You know when you finish a project that just felt so right? Your client was a dream, the process was smooth, and the result made your client excited and made you think I wish every project could be just like this!

Creatives experts have figured out how to make all of their projects just like that one project. That’s not to say they don’t have a project that gets off track sometimes or only produce a uniform product forever and ever, but they’ve developed a process to follow that helps streamline communication, smooth over any bumps, and maps out a timeline that’s achievable. This process helps you work in the perfect conditions to create your best work, it helps your clients trust that you know what you’re doing, and it gives you the confidence to continue to grow.

Creative experts teach and share their knowledge
By sharing the knowledge that attracts their dream customers to them, creative experts are setting themselves up as an expert in their field. They build trust not only by demonstrating that they know what they’re doing, but potential clients feel confident that if the free content can add so much value to their lives, then the actual paid service will help them move mountains! The more you can share what you know, either by giving it away or choosing to package and sell this content, the more you will build a tribe of built-in dream customers who are already learning from you.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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THE BRAID BLOG from TARA AND KATHLEEN
Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for creatives.

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LETTERS for CREATIVES

Want more? Sign up for our exclusive weekly email letters from us, Kathleen and Tara, for insights and advice from our own personal and professional overlap – as sisters, business owners, content sharers, and creative entrepreneurs.

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