Lessons Distilled from a Creative Life: “The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art,” by Paul Jarvis


The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art by Paul Jarvis

Supported. Seen. Understood.

As a creative, do you often find yourself resistant to business advice or words of wisdom from those not in creative fields, because they don’t seem to get it?  You read a blog post, watch a video, or listen to a podcast to uncover tips for earning a full-time living from your creative thing, and think, “that won’t work for me,” or “that doesn’t apply to me because I sell fine art, photography, design services, illustration, [insert your creative work of choice here].”

While timeless marketing principles, authentically applied, can work for business builders in any category, it’s an unimpeachable truth that as creatives, when we seek counsel on how to up our business game or look for success stories we can apply to our own situation, we want to know that this guidance applies to us specifically as creative business builders. We want to take advice from someone who gets it. We don’t abide yellow highlighter hyperbole, “ninja” tricks, “warrior” moves, or other cliché metaphors of aggression that so many marketers & online business builders promote.

So when a successful creative, someone who earns a full-time living from his creative output, shares what he’s learned along the way, I’m going to pay the gentleman some attention. (“Success” is such a loaded word, so let’s assume here that it means the ability to support yourself from your creative work and feel creatively fulfilled in your daily life.)

Who is this gentleman I speak of?  Why it’s Paul Jarvis, web designer, best-selling author and “gentleman of adventure.”

I recently bought his book, The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art.  It’s pithy, entertaining, and full of good juju in the form of 18 “ideas to consider” when doing your creative thing, wherein Jarvis shares what he’s learned from observing other smart, successful, creative people. He says, “I wrote this book to explore the commonalities between successful artists. These are the 18 traits I see in good creatives. Not get-rich-quick, empty-promise dealers or egomaniacal artists, but good creatives.”

I love his expansive definition of what it means to be a creative: essentially, a creative is a person who makes anything; transforms their ideas into something tangible; curates or edits; leads or teaches; and puts what they know out into the world for others to watch, taste, read or hear.

In the book, Jarvis offers real-world examples to illustrate each of his 18 ideas. And if you’ve spent anytime ‘round these here parts, you know I love me some real-world examples. 

For example, in Chapter One, Try & fail (repeat as necessary), Jarvis shares now famous rejections that didn’t stop the creatives in question from pursing their dreams and becoming wildly successful. Stephen King, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg, anyone?  The message: repeated failure doesn’t stop successful artists. 

In Chapter Three, Launch before you’re ready, Jarvis gives us the example of the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple. The brothers entered their film in the Toronto and Sundance film festivals before the movie was even finished, because they were eager to get something into the competition. Once the film was accepted, they went off and finished it; it then won the 1985 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

In Chapter Four, Tell your story, Jarvis says, “For creatives, the story behind the art is usually as important as the art itself” (Yes! I could jump up and down!  I give this advice to clients who are creatives all the time), and shares the example of Kris Carr, who launched her career as a wellness activist and author by telling the story of her cancer journey in the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer.

Other favorite chapters include “Share your ugly process,” “Help others,” “Hug your critics,” “Package your quirks,” “Focus on the work, not the outcome,” and “Break the rules.” But heck, truth be told, I actually loved them all.

As Jarvis says, “These aren’t rules, because you can’t magically follow them and then presto—your art becomes more famous than Gangnam Style,” but the 18 ideas here, embraced and implemented in your own special snowflake way of course, can realistically help you get from “starving artist” to fulfilled creative.

Learn more about the book here

(Depending on when you’re reading this, the book may or may not be available yet.  I bought it on pre-sale from his mailing list; otherwise, it’s available to all on June 1, 2014. I believe it will sell for $25.)

To find out more, get after it here:

The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art  

An Ode to Being Impractical: A Reading List for Creative Business Builders

On Being Impractical to Achieve Success

I’ve been turning this Will Smith quote over in my head for weeks now. Noticing how I let fear stop me from initiating projects I’d really love to push “go” on. Or how I often get excited by an idea, then say to myself, “Hmm, I don’t know, maybe not,” all because in the back of my mind is that negating caution to be realistic.

As creatives, we’ve likely heard some version of this advice many times over, but how many truly extraordinary things were achieved by following the maxim to “be realistic?”

What if, instead, we gave ourselves permission to be wildly impractical? To throw caution to the wind during our creative process/brainstorming/visioning? How many deeply meaningful and creatively expansive projects would we undertake if the pervasive message was to be outlandish, outrageous, and a little loony, at least every now and then?

With that in mind, I rounded up a few articles I’ve had the pleasure of reading lately that illustrate the benefits of taking the road less traveled. Of being unrealistic.

Whether it’s in your marketing, your creative work, or through simply declaring you are the thing you most want to be – artist, writer, photographer, designer, what-have-you – being open to the unconventional can open up a whole new world of possibilities, leading to success breakthroughs you didn’t even know you were capable of.

These articles each illustrate in their own way that success doesn’t always come from following the default operating paradigm to be realistic. And thank goodness for that.

Oscar-Nominated Director Benh Zeitlin on Not Waiting For Permission

In this interview, writer, director and composer of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won four Oscar nominations, talks about how an artist collective called Court 13 made one of the best films of 2012, using a model “contrary to everything Hollywood teaches.”

Read more here about the power of taking an unconventional approach to a creative project.

4 Most Improbable Success Stories You’ll Ever Hear

This group of go-getters didn’t let challenging obstacles or the dreamslayers and naysayers of the world keep them from following their dreams and achieving success.

Check out these four tales of unlikely success here.

They Did What!? 19 Secrets of Successful Business Owners Who Took the Road Less Traveled

The title of this article sums it up: road less traveled. And we love “road less traveled” around here.

Here are 19 secrets from 19 lifestyle businesses that found success by stepping off the beaten path and doing something different.

8 Bold Businesses Reveal How to Build an Unforgettable Brand

In this article Erika Napoletano writes about one of my favorite topics – how to stand out in a saturated market by being your straight-up self. These branding lessons from 8 “bold, brash and brazen” companies prove that building a successful and well-loved business around unique personality factors can have you smiling all the way to the bank.

Read about how these companies brought personality into the branding mix to transform what could have been deadly dull and boring into compelling and drool-worthy here.

I Had Been Fired and Evicted, and Still Retired at 27

Here’s the story of how Brenton Hayden, Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate and CEO and founder of Renter’s Warehouse USA, made $966,803 in his first full year of business and eventually became a retired multi-millionaire just after his 27th birthday – after being fired and evicted. Proof that opportunity exists in every situation.

Read about Brenton’s path to success here

How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job & Launched My Dream

In this guest post on Problogger.net, writer Jeff Goins admits, “I seethed with envy and bitterness as I saw friends skyrocket to success, living out their passions,” and asks, “What were they doing that I wasn’t?”

Read Goin’s story about how he declared himself a writer, ultimately achieved success, and created a thriving career doing what he loves here.

And there ya have it. I hope you found some inspiration and motivation in these tales of others who found success by doing things differently.

Now it’s your turn – in the comments below, tell me about a time you took the road less traveled (in your business or personal life) despite well-meaning advice from family and friends, and what the happy result was.  

Pay Attention to What Makes You Cry: A Navel-Gazer’s Guide to Decision-Making

I'm a writer

Something strange was happening.

For close to 6 months I’d feel on the verge of tears every time I read Danielle LaPorte’s blog. Ditto when visiting Linda Sivertsen’s Book Mama website, reading her blog posts, and especially when watching the video about her Carmel writer’s retreats.

Sometimes I’d actually shed those tears.  

Here’s how it looked:

Open email for the day.  Ah! Danielle’s newest blog post. Groovy. “Why Self-Improvement Makes You Neurotic.” Great, I love that topic!  Read. Feel wave of emotion. Tears just about to announce themselves, but don’t.  Feeling rattled and unsettled.  Hmm.

Or this:

Linda’s recent newsletter arrives in in-box.  Feel excited. Begin reading “Writing with Scissors,” about the editing process. Feel bathed in a warm glow of identification and recognition. But, wait! There it is – begin feeling weepy.

If I was keeping track of how many times this happened on my handy abacus, all the beads would be on the right-hand side and I’d be sliding them back over to the left to start the count over again. I couldn’t make sense of it. What was provoking these emotional mini-dramas?

I mean, sure, both Linda and Danielle are gifted writers and what they write about is often moving.  As a writer, I identify with many of the topics they so eloquently cover. And as an emotional creature, feeling moved to near tears while reading something inspirational isn’t unusual for me.

But this was different. It was repeated and insistent, and happened even when the subject matter was ordinary.  Feeling near tears while reading about the editing process – what gives? I was having a hard time figuring it out.  Not to mention, it was becoming a tad inconvenient to flounce around in a near-permanent state of emotional quiver. 

But I’m a world-class navel-gazer, so I knew with enough deep reflection into the minutia of my every fleeting thought and feeling I could figure this out.

After a while, it dawned on me:  the emotional reaction I’m having is because these writers are living the kind of writer’s life I want to live, but don’t – they write and publish regularly, have traditionally published books out, and enjoy creative and financial abundance, doing what they love to do. They’ve created a satisfying and remunerative writing life for themselves based on their strengths and skill sets as writers, writing what they want to write.  

I had to admit that this is what I too want to create. I’ve known it in my gut for a long time. But I hadn’t done it, nor was I even trying to do it. “It,” at the very least, meant carving out time to work on my own writing apart from client writing projects.  So the tears, near as I can tell, were because I wasn’t living in alignment with my truth (I know, I’m very sorry to have to use that phrase, and I really hope you’ll forgive me, but it works here), when faced with two talented writers who are. I felt like the kind of writing life I wanted to create was passing me by. And I ain’t gettin’ any younger, kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my copywriting clients to the heavens and I’m deeply grateful for the interesting projects I’m blessed to work on for them. I thoroughly enjoy writing and creating marketing strategy for them, and for my own copywriting business; it’s work that fuels and excites me.


What I knew for sure was that I wanted to make room in my life for longer, more reflective writing than the kind you can do on a blog or in a newsletter that’s geared to helping your audience achieve a specific business or marketing goal.  Who knows what this writing would end up looking like, but I knew I was game to see.

So when Linda Sivertsen announced the Your Big Beautiful Book Plan Telecourse recently, I jumped at the chance to take it. Even though between client work and business classes and other commitments, I’m clocking in about 60 hours a week right now. Even though I had to charge it to my credit card, because as luck would have it, client invoices went out, but haven’t been paid yet this month. And even though I made a commitment to myself not to take one more course until I finish the ones I’m in the middle of now.

Besides, I had buying Danielle and Linda’s Your Big Beautiful Book Plan digital course (which is a separate thing from the telecourse) on my 2014 plan already – for September or October, not March, fer cryin’ out loud.  March was wildly inconvenient, March was for other business priorities, March was all wrong for so many reasons.

But I couldn’t deny the way getting the email announcement about the telecourse made me feel.  Giddy. Excited. Liberated. A big fat resounding yeeeeesssss radiating from every cell.  When I went to bed that night, I tossed and turned all night dreaming of the possibilities. I also felt weepy (see? there it is again) at the prospect of another dream deferred if I chose not to do this now.

When I woke the next morning I was certain I had to take this course, other commitments be damned.  Out came the credit card.  That was March 5.  It’s been 8 days since I did this thing that I’m sure is going to change my life. And I feel jubilant. 

And I think I can toss the Kleenex.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.  : )

10 Inspiring Business & Marketing Resources for Creative Business Builders

One thing I’ve noticed since I switched my business focus from writing solely for corporate clients to adding independent creatives and small creative businesses to the mix is the number of people who email me saying there aren’t enough business, marketing and other resources online specifically geared to creative entrepreneurs.

And while I can’t know the entire Internet (even though I do spend over 10 hours every day swimming in it – ha!), I agree that when it comes to creatives who want to promote and market authentically, there seem to be fewer resources available than for other kinds of business builders.

So I compiled a list of go-to resources I know about, either through positive word-of-mouth, or because I visit them regularly myself for information, advice, and inspiration.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination, only a few places to get you started, so if you know of others not listed here, please drop ‘em in the comments at the end of the post!

The Abundant Artist: Dispelling the Starving Artist Myth

All kinds of artists will find this site useful. While there is plenty of content geared toward helping visual and fine artists market their work, the advice and tips here would work well for most any kind of creative trying to market authentically and create a robust presence online. As Cory, site owner, says about the site, “This is a web site not only about selling art, but about dispelling the starving artist myth.”

The articles, videos and podcasts on the site cover a multitude of topics, including how to build a better artist website, how to sell your art online, how to market effectively with social media, and other business-building topics geared toward artists.

Sample blog articles: How I Made $50,000 Selling Art on Facebook; Newsletters: So Easy, An Artist Can Do It; Personal Branding for Artists; The Artist Website Checklist; How to Create an Art Blog That Makes Art Collectors Swoon; How to Create Raving Fans by Telling the Story of Your Art, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for Cory’s email list and receive a 10 week email course called “Learn to Sell More Art Now,” as well as other useful content to help you grow your business.

Other notes: I love Cory’s tone, voice, and sense of humor. You’ll be entertained, and learn tons about art marketing at the same time.

Artsy Shark: Inspiring Artists to Build Better Businesses

The articles on this site cover how to launch and grow a successful art or craft business. Specific topics include the business of art, marketing, selling your work, inspiration, art licensing and art publishing, and more.

Run by Carolyn Edlund, Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, Artsy Shark publishes articles on featured artists, giving them publicity and linking to the artist’s website, which allows artists to make sales of their work. Artists are chosen several times a year through a competitive juried submission process. 

Sample blog articles: Artist Website Strategies: Improve Your Home Page; Crafting Potent Press Releases That Get You Ink; How to Create an Artist Email Newsletter That Works; 8 Ways to Improve Your Online Portfolio; Effective Art Marketing is Not About You, etc.

Red Lemon Club: refreshing insights into building influence, for creatives

Red Lemon Club features articles and other resources for helping creatives build their influence and land quality clients. The site is a place to “get inspired, absorb, learn and share insight on being influential, standing out, and building an engaged audience to your creative work.”

Sample blog articles: 7 Simple Acts of Daily Self-Discipline That Will Make You a Better Artist/Ninja; 50 Self-Promotion Tips for Creatives; 21 Ways to Add Magic to Your Brand and Stand Out; What Problems Are You Solving? How Great Artists Think Like Entrepreneurs; 11 Things Most Other People Never Do That You Can Do to Win Amazing Clients, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the Red Lemon email list and receive the e-book, 9 Things You Absolutely Must Do to Land Quality Clients, plus weekly tips you won’t find on the blog.

Skinny Artist: Create, Connect, Inspire, & Live Your Art!

The Skinny Artist site delves into “the unique opportunities and challenges we face as creative artists in this brave new world of blogs, social media, and marketing our creative work online to a worldwide audience.” Specific topics include marketing myths, online marketing, inspiration, featured artists, artist life, and creative productivity.

 Sample blog articles: 5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community; 5 Fears That Can Destroy an Artist; Is Etsy Dying?; The Great Artist Statement Hoax; How to Take Charge of Your Creative Goals; Stare, Share, Steal, and be Willing to Look Stupid, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive the Skinny School series, “How the @#$&! do I Get More Traffic to my Website?!” plus how-to tutorials, artist marketing tips, and other resources.

Other notes: I absolutely love this site’s irreverent and funny tone.

Fresh Rag: The No BS, Straight Talk Approach to Earning More From Your Creative Pursuits

Fresh Rag is for artists, designers, crafters and other independent, creative entrepreneurs who want to  build their business and make more sales.

Sample blog articles: Calling Yourself Out on Your Own Bullshit; How to Eliminate the Starving Artist Syndrome from the Ground Up; Your Excuses About Etsy’s Changes Are Holding You Back; The 100%, Sure-Fire Way to Sound Like a Self-Absorbed Artist ; I Serve Those That Serve Creativity, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive free updates with tools, tips and tricks for taking your creative career to the next level. Topics include converting lookers into buyers, building a loyal following, and making more money without killing yourself.

Living a Creative Life with Melissa Dinwiddie

The aim of this site is to offer insights and inspiration to help you live a fully creative life. The goal: “to get you sparked, stoked and creating!” As Melissa says, she wants to see everyone on the planet using their creative gifts.

Sample blog articles: Failure, Progress & the Great Experiments of 2013; Secrets of Living a Big, Bold Creative Life; What to Do When You’re Caught in a Shame Spiral; Case Study: Dealing with Criticism; My Big Secret for Getting Creating (Almost) Every Day, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the newsletter and receive a printable poster, 10 Keys to Creative Flow, plus regular email inspiration, first dibs and special offers when Melissa has new stuff to share.

Other notes: I love Melissa’s warm, friendly and encouraging tone. Oh, and there’s the stark honesty about her successes and her failures, which is refreshing. She’s a creative who gets creatives – get ready to feel understood and supported as a creative soul.

Creative Freelancer Blog

Geared to creative freelance professionals – freelance designers, illustrators, writers, photographers and other creatives – Creative Freelancer Blog provides business and marketing advice and inspiration.  

I’ll be honest, even though I visit this site regularly, it kind of drives me crazy because there’s so much going on and it doesn’t seem that well-organized. When you land on the blog it’s a giant mish-mash with a long scrolling list of articles, with no apparent topic categories. Maddening. That said, there’s a wealth of fantastic information for creative freelancers, and the content is well worth reading if you have the time and the patience to dig through the seeming randomness.

Sample blog articles: The Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests; Work, Life, and You: Are You Staying Sane?; Top 3 Social Media Platforms for Designers & Creative Pros; When They Ask You to Work for Free, Say This; Turn More Prospects into Paying Clients; 12 Stark Differences Between Freelancing and 9-5; Why You Should Say “No” to Clients and Become a Specialist; Retainers Get You Off the Rollercoaster, etc.

Free resources available: Signing up for the email list will allow you to download job-search strategies, interview techniques, and portfolio and résumé tips to help you land the right creative position.

The Unmistakable Creative Podcast: Candid Conversations with Creative Entrepreneurs and Insanely Interesting People

This is hands-down one of my favorite places to visit online for creative inspiration. There are over 400 inspiring interviews here with every kind of creative entrepreneur you can imagine, spanning every kind of background. As the graphic on the site’s About page says, podcast guests include best-selling authors, world-famous cartoonists, ex-cons, graffiti artists, happiness researchers, peak performance psychologists, and more. This is not your usual business podcast, in a good way. A very good way.

Sample podcasts: How to Escape a Life of Mediocrity with Melissa Leon; Idea Execution and the Creative Process with Jocelyn Glei; Creating a Profitable Expression of Your Art with Alex Franzen; Unleash Your Creative Genius with Erik Wahl; How to Master the Craft of Writing with Dani Shapiro; The Importance of Developing Your Own Belief Systems; Redefining Ambition with Amber Rae, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive notice of the latest podcasts, plus (as of this writing), a weekly email delivered on Sunday designed to make you think about your creative path. Inspiring, thoughtful and honest, this is of my favorite Sunday reads.

Scoutie Girl: Creative Life with Character

Scoutie Girl is a daily digital lifestyle magazine that features stories, philosophies, and innovative ideas about creative living & becoming a more creative individual; offers creative visual inspiration and motivation to the handmade community. Written by a team of creative thinkers and designers, the site seeks to help you become inspired and informed.

This is a site I have to admit I haven’t spent a ton of time on, but others I know have recommended it. There’s a nice resource page on the site with a pretty robust list of other sites that will help the creative person “live a creative, fulfilled life” as well.

Sample blog articles: Tap into Creativity by Letting Go; Just Do the Work; Never Too Late to Bloom; Why Planning Isn’t Always the Answer; Oh, That Inner Critic; Chasing the Light: The Search for Creative Balance, etc.

99u: Insights on Making Ideas Happen

I visit this site at least once or twice a week to see what’s new. 99U’s mission is “to share pragmatic insights on how to push bold ideas forward . . . and ‘demystify the creative process.’” The philosophy here is that creatives often focus more on idea generation than idea execution, and the action-oriented insights found on this site – in the form of interviews, articles, videos, and blog posts – aim to change that. You’ll find loads of actionable tips here for getting the ideas out of your moleskin and into reality.

Sample blog articles: 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal; The 5 Most Dangerous Creativity Killers; The Case Against “Do What You Love”; How Your Friends Affect Your Creative Work; Talent is Persistence: What It Takes to Be an Independent Creative; Beat Procrastination by Adding Rewards to Your Day; Don’t Get Screwed: The Contract Provisions Every Creative Needs to Know; 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People, etc.,

And there you have it, a short list of online resources for creative inspiration, education, and biz & marketing advice.

If you know of other practical and effective resources for creatives not listed here, please drop ‘em in the comments below, you’ll be helping us all out! : )

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

On Pricing Mindset: How Much Do You Value Your Own Creative Work?

One of the greatest challenges we face as creative entrepreneurs, especially in the early phase of our business journey, is finding clients and customers who value what we do and who will pay us a fair sum for our work.

The thing that’s so insidious when you’re first starting out – whether that’s in the beginning of your creative career altogether or in the beginning of taking your thing online – is that the offer of online or other “exposure” in exchange for illustration, graphic design, photography services, interior design advice, or in my case, copywriting, almost seems like the smart thing to do. (And let’s be honest, in some cases, it is.)

We’ve all had people try to finagle us into providing our creative work for next to nothing, or even worse, for free.

This blog post is not about how to price your creative services – you can get plenty of great advice on that topic by Googling “how to price creative services” (which will return in the neighborhood of 136,000,000 results). I suggest you read through some of those articles if you’re struggling with pricing.

No, today’s post is about your mindset around the value of the creative services you provide.

I have two things to share on that topic that can help you think of the value you offer through your creative talents in a bigger and bolder way – something much more expansive than some arbitrary hourly rate multiplied by the time it took you to create your work.

Take a quick peek at the two short articles below – they helped me crystallize my value in a way that makes it much easier to both turn down low-ball offers for my services, and to say “no” to providing my hard-earned skills and experience for free or next-to-nothing in exchange for so-called “exposure.”

This first short piece comes from a custom furniture maker named C. H. Becksvoort who often gets asked why his prices are “high.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Visitors to my shop & showroom sometimes ask why my prices are so “dear.” There are several responses, and the list keeps growing: 1) When you invest in my furniture, you are buying 2-6 weeks of my life. 2) You are availing yourself of five decades of experience in joinery, wood technology, restoration, and design. 3) You are investing in a green product, made of sustainably harvested wood from Kane Hardwoods (in operation since 1858); a product that will outlast the next generation. 4) Buying quality once is always cheaper than buying cheap, and having to replace it 4 or 5 times. Most of what you see at big box stores will be in the land-fill within 5 years. You are supporting the local economy, handmade in the U.S. A. 5) Each of my works are built by me, from raw stock, one at a time, to suit your specific requirements. No two pieces I have ever made are exactly the same. The hand of the maker is always in evidence. Most folks think that “custom” means getting the body color, engine size and audio system you desire, not realizing that your “custom” vehicle is one of at least 3,000 just like it on the road.

From years of restoring furniture for the last Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, ME, my motto has always been, “Not how cheap can I make it, rather, how good can I make it.” C. H. Becksvoort © 2012

How brilliant is that?

This second piece is from a published author who often gets asked to provide writing at no cost. If you’ve ever been asked to provide your creative talents for free in exchange for “exposure,” this will resonate deeply with you. Really funny stuff too, by the way.

Check it out here:

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

Next time you’re having doubts about the value of your creative products or services, I hope you’ll remember these two pieces of wisdom.

Have thoughts on the topic of pricing and the often thorny issue of exchanging your creative talents for dollars? Leave them in the comments section below and let’s compare notes. : )


They Want You to Be the One (so stop being afraid to market yourself)

Let me ask you a question – and be honest with yourself about the answer – are you afraid to market your creative products or services?

Do you feel kind of icky about promoting yourself, wishing you could just create your amazing thing, then simply based on the awesomeness of that thing, word spreads like wildfire, the hordes find you, and you make sales hand-over-fist?

Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t happen that way.

You actually have to – gasp – market yourself.

But what I’ve noticed with many creatives is that they have this fear of marketing and selling that prevents them from getting the results they want in their business.

For example, do you recognize yourself in any of these (real life) comments from creatives?

  • “What I’m afraid of when marketing is seeming intrusive and pushy.”
  • “Marketing kind of feels like preying on people’s fears and weaknesses and insecurities.”
  • “I feel very inauthentic when trying to win over clients – it feels painful!”
  • “I wish there was another word for marketing. I associate it with being scammy.”
  • “I feel intimidated by marketing. I’m scared of harassing people.”
  • “I thought if I created good enough products, they’d sell without me having to do much but put them out there. I’m afraid what others will think of me if I market – that I’ll come off as a ‘cheesy car salesman’.”

 As a creative myself, I know how terrifying it can be to put yourself out there and try to sell your thing.   

But if you want to make a living from your creative talents, you can’t be afraid to sell, especially on your website, where your potential clients and customers are likely first coming across your offerings.  And copywriting that authentically conveys your skills in a way that aligns with your personality and style can help you market and sell without feeling intrusive or pushy.

Let me share a little story that might shift your mindset on this.

Once many years ago, I signed up for an acting class. (I actually thought I was signing up for a film studies class, but it turned out to be a class about acting for films.)

Oh well.  Since I had just moved to a new town and didn’t really know anyone yet, I decided to stick it out and stay in the class on the chance I’d make some new friends.  (Good choice, by the way.  Friends found, loneliness averted.)

Part of the class revolved around how to prepare for auditions. My goodness, but these actors were terrified of auditions! 

And although I would never be in their position, I understood what that fear must feel like – it’s the same feeling I had anytime I interviewed for a job I really wanted (back in the day when I was still a worker bee), or sometimes even now when I’m trying to land a big new dream client.

But the acting coach said something to us one day that changed my attitude about “putting yourself out there” forever:

“They want you to be the one,” he told us.

The message he wanted the acting students to get was, hey, those you’re auditioning for want you to be the right choice, they want you to be perfect for the role, they’re hoping against hope that you really, truly “bring it” in your audition so they can hire you now and stop looking.  They’d much rather find “the one” right now than audition actor after actor after actor. 

Once the acting students let this idea sink in, they realized they didn’t need to be so fearful of auditions.

It’s the same in your business.

When that person looking for interior design services or wedding photography or the perfect graphic designer comes to your website and you just happen to sell interior design services or wedding photography or graphic design services, believe me, they want you to be the one.

They don’t want to keep looking.  When they land on your website, they’re thinking, “I’m so tired of looking for someone to hire for this project, I just want to find a talented fill-in-the-blank-with-your-creative-service-here who gets what I need and can deliver the results I want.” 

And they’re hoping that you are going to be that person.

So instead of feeling shy about writing copy for your website that whips up desire for your offerings, you can feel good knowing that, rather than pushing something on people they don’t want, you’re actually connecting them with what they do want, in the form of your products and services and the results they provide.

After all, all authentic marketing isn’t pushy or sleazy, it’s simply deeply connecting with your ideal audience and communicating that you can provide a product or service that is beneficial to them, that they already want (or they wouldn’t be searching for it online and have landed on your website in the first place).

So if you’ve been fearful of marketing and selling your creative products or services, I encourage you to try the “they want you to be the one” mindset on for size.  You might be surprised by how much this simple shift in thinking can help you in your business.

So think about this now, and share in the comments section below how you’re going to implement this mindset shift into your marketing this week. 


[Like this post? Then sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

What’s the One Essential Thing You Must Possess in Order to Create a Successful Business?

mindset blog image

Today’s post is a little different from what I usually write about.  There’s no specific marketing tip or web strategy how-to here, but something much more important to being successful in business.

And that thing is mindset.

[This is a little bit of a rant.  You’ve been warned. ; ) ]

I was recently reminded of this when I had a conversation with a friend who is struggling in her business. She’s trying hard to get it going, but she’s extremely low on resources (which can actually be a blessing), and even lower on self-confidence, which can be a curse.

She asked for advice, so I threw out a few things that helped me get clients when I was getting started.  She rejected nearly everything I suggested, with nary a split second between the idea I pitched and her automatic response, which can best be summed up as some variation of “that won’t work for me.”

To my suggestion to try local networking groups, she responded, “I can’t go to live networking for now.” (No reason given.)  To the idea of reaching out to friends for referrals, “I’ve already asked for referrals and got none,” and to online/social networking, “I’ve tried social media networking, but it hasn’t worked.”

When I hear reactions like this, my first thought is the person is undisciplined and just wants a “magic bullet” of some kind.  It’s extremely limited thinking.  There are no magic bullets.  Or, if you must believe there is such a thing as a magic bullet, believe it’s this:  Taking action everyday on your goals and believing in yourself, no matter what, will create success.

I’ve done the glad-handing, business card-swapping live networking.  I didn’t enjoy it, but I got clients. I have asked for referrals, which I also don’t relish doing, but it worked for me.  I’ve done social networking and gotten leads from it.  I reached out to a very high-profile PR Director of an organization that employs over 11,000 people for freelance work, with my heart in my throat and nervous sweat on my brow, and gotten it.

None of things were easy, and all of them were waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. But I got work.  And now I have a business that supports me.  And have even recently had to turn work away – now that is a place you want to get to.  Which makes the discomfort worth it.

I mean, you have to ask yourself, is your will to be successful greater than your fear of being uncomfortable?  Mine was.  And now I don’t have to work a soul-crushing j-o-b where someone else gets to call the shots in my life.

Of course, some things will stick and some won’t, so maybe live networking won’t work for my friend, but asking for referrals will.  Maybe she’ll kill it on social media or maybe she won’t. You get the picture. But if she rejects everything out of hand with an automatic “that won’t work for me” attitude, then she’s probably better off slaving away for someone else for the rest of her life in a j-o-b anyway.

Because creating a business you love has to start with believing you can.  Even in the face of obstacles.

Now, that kind of touchy-feely stuff usually makes me want to wretch, but in this case it’s true.

And being low on resources?  It’s actually a good thing, because it forces you to get creative and make the best of the limited resouces you already have.  I say this from experience, as I practically wrote the book on being loooow on resources.  Didn’t stop me though.  : )

And  now?

I’m billing 40 hours a week in my business, AND I just got two inquiries today to do some social media and web strategy work which I may have to turn down.

Is it perfect?  No.  In fact, I want to be working fewer hours and enjoying more time freedom.

But where I am now is worlds away from where I was even one year ago, when I still had just one client and a goofy 20-hour-per-week job that had nothing to do with my interests or direction in life, and sucked my soul dry.  But it paid the bills while I was ramping up to where I am now – fully booked, doing work I love, and getting new client inquiries.

And I wish the same for you.

Here’s a quote by Lama Surya Das that helps me when I’m struggling with self-doubt:  Often the Greatest Doubts Occur Just Before a Breakthrough.

And here’s a handy little read on how to stay positive.

In the comments below I’d love to hear your tips for staying positive and getting the work done, or anything else you want to contribute about overcoming obstacles to make your business work.

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Five Female Marketing Mentors Who Can Help You Crush It in Your Small Business

Female Marketing Mentors

When you’re just getting started in business, it helps to have mentors.

Especially when you’re trying to do something no one in your immediate circle of friends or business contacts has done.

You know, the ones who look at you quizzically when you try to explain your plans for creating a digital empire where you get to express yourself, help others achieve something positive, and get more clients, customers and sales, all at the same time.

“You’re going to do what, now?” Yep, I’ve been asked that a few times.

But I didn’t let it stop me.

I went online and found biz and marketing mentors who were doing what I wanted to do, and started learning and implementing what they taught me.

The following five marketing mentors are the ones I follow consistently, and whose blogs, newsletters, webinars, free reports, videos, and in a couple of cases, paid programs, have been the most useful and actionable to me as a small business owner.

They’ve taught me plenty about marketing online and business in general (and life too, yeah), and I bet you can learn heaps from them as well.


Laura RoederI’ve probably learned more actionable, immediately implementable online marketing strategies from Laura than from anyone else to date. She’s one of two people on this list whose paid products I’ve purchased. (So far.)

Laura offers accessible, practical, easy to understand and simple to implement social media marketing instruction. Both her free content and paid programs are full of real-world strategies and techniques that work.

As she says, “I make technology, specifically social media marketing, dead-simple to understand and implement.”


If you want to learn how to market your small business with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and a whole lot more, and you like your advice straightforward and uncomplicated, then Laura’s your go-to girl.

My biggest takeaway from Laura . . . technology and social media marketing do NOT have to be difficult or time-consuming. You can get results and have fun – yes, fun! – by doing a few things consistently and well.

Laura’s site: http://lkrsocialmedia.com/
Follow Laura on Twitter: @lkr


Marie ForleoMarie is a goddess of holistic business and life advice. You’ll get guidance on everything from “How to Transition from Your Day Job to Your Dream Business,” to combining multiple passions in your business, to “What to Do When You Doubt Everything + Just Wanna Stay in Bed,” and lots more besides.

I love her combination of real-world life advice and implementable marketing strategies, with a whole lotta keepin’- it-real and hip hop sensibility & fun tossed into the mix.

Marie calls herself a “multi-passionate” entrepreneur and tells us we can be the same and still have a business and life that works. God love her for that.

She walks her talk when it comes to this – she’s a living example of it – as you’ll see when you watch her videos.

My biggest takeaway from Marie . . . it’s entirely possible – and recommended – to bring your multiple passions into your business and use your unique talents to change the world – and achieve massive financial and life success in the process.

Marie’s site: http://marieforleo.com/
Follow Marie on Twitter: @marieforleo


Danielle LaPorteDanielle offers a kick-a** combo of poetic and writerly, yet realistic and straightforward, guidance. There’s no b.s. in her digital domain. She’s smart, helpful and direct, and the well of her emotional intelligence seems bottomless. Think a whole lot of practical with a huge helping of spark-inducing, inspiration-generating business and life advice rolled into an outspoken package.

Two of my favorite things she says: “there is no such thing as life balance,” and “your mantra of choice is ‘you’ll figure it out.’ ”

Go to her site and watch the 1:46 minute video, “A Credo for Making It Happen” for some instant inspiration. And for the stuck full-in experience, check out her book, The Fire Starter Sessions.

My biggest takeway from Danielle . . . it’s possible to be your most authentic self online and still be uber-successful – without selling your soul to the online devil and writing the same stuff in the same way everyone else in your niche is doing. Be an artist, a poet, a writer’s writer, if you want. It’s all good.

Danielle’s site: http://www.daniellelaporte.com/
Follow Danielle on Twitter: @daniellelaporte


Naomi DunfordOh, Naomi. Love her. In fact, I read all her emails, even the sales & offers emails, with great joy. She’s a terrific communicator, whip-smart and funny.

And she tells it like it is. Her marketing advice is of the cut-the-b.s.-and-just-tell-me-what-works-variety, delivered with a healthy dose of tough love, all wrapped in an officially licensed warm fleece Snuggie of wise and witty writing.

She describes her site, IttyBiz, as “a place to get tips, advice, motivation, and support for your very small business. If you’re working from home or just thinking about it, come and hang out here for some great ideas and bad jokes.”

My biggest takeaway from Naomi . . . how to prioritize business activities, especially when you’re not swimming in clients and cash and you need to get some money rolling into your business pronto. In that case, thing #1 you have to do is get real and focus on the activities that are “closest to cash.”

This piece of advice literally changed my business. When there’s an 87-item to-do list and the hours are slipping by, the directive to focus on my “closest to cash” activities brings me instant clarity.

Naomi’s site: http://ittybiz.com/
Naomi on Twitter: @NaomiDunford – I don’t believe Naomi is active on Twitter at the moment. Our loss.


Ashley AmbirgeI’ve only recently discovered Ashley Ambirge and her site The Middle Finger Project, and when I did I thought, “Girlfriend, where’ve you been all my life?!”

I somehow stumbled onto her brilliant post, “The 67 Emotions of Online Success: My Story,” and nearly wept with soul-sister recognition. I’d never read anything that made me feel better about the many – and I do mean many – twists and turns and moves and passions, and you name it, she nailed it – steps along my own path.

It actually made me cry. More than once. So, I find her utterly beguiling.

Ashley is a copywriter who also sells online programs and products. The freebie on her sight is called “The Definitive Guide to Getting Off Your Butt, Finding Some Focus and Jump Starting Your Biz,” which I promptly downloaded and thoroughly enjoyed.

And with blog post titles like “How I Plan on Making $97,000 while Traveling Latin America. Bitches.,” and “Being Fat, Getting Robbed + Some Shit You Won’t Want to Miss,” at the very least you’ll be entertained by her content – well, maybe shocked – but also entertained.

My biggest takeaway from Ashley . . . even if you were once gloriously disappointed, lost, frightened, unsure, and defeated, you can still come out on the other side wildly happy, successful and doing what you’re meant to do – and make bank doing it.

Ashley’s site: http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org/
Follow Ashley on Twitter: @TMFproject

And there you have it. Five women doing great things online and off, whose knowledge and business advice you’re sure to benefit from tapping into.

How about you? Who are your business and marketing mentors? Online or off – please share! : )


[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

What I Believe

What I believe

Just a little message from me to you, my creative friends, on this simply gor-ge-ous Friday afternoon as we head into the Labor Day weekend.

Have fun, be safe, and make something beautiful!

Inspiring Business Reads: The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau

$100 Startup Book

Want to launch a business, be happy, and live life on your own terms?

Then I have the book for you.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, by Chris Guillebeau, is a guide to building and launching a successful microbusiness based on your skills and interests, and yes, if it’s something people will pay for, your passion.

I’ve read this book twice – the first time in a single weekend, then later, over the space of couple of weeks. Inspiring stuff here.

Collecting data from over 1500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more per year from a small investment (in many cases less than $100, hence the book’s title), Guillebeau chose 50 of the most inspiring stories to focus on in the book.

The book is more than a series of case studies – it’s actually a blueprint for launching a small business around something you love that others care about.

It covers how to test your market, how to write a one-page business plan, how to create a killer offer, and how to launch, among other things. Checklists and templates are included; I loved the 39 step product launch checklist, for example – very handy.

Case studies include everything from a small business transcriptionist to a day-care marketer and a maker of ketubot (custom designed Jewish wedding contracts) to an event planner who puts on art workshops.

If you think what you do – or want to do – can’t be turned into business that supports you and brings you joy, then I encourage you to read this book.


For my money, the most important distinction he makes is that a successful business exists at the intersection of something you love that you can get paid for, something Guillebeau calls convergence.

That second part is very important – that you can get paid for.

I’m all about following your passion, but the truth is, not every passion can be turned into a business, nor should it be. I’m passionate about watching what my favorite Bravo-lebrities are up to on my “shows” each week, but I’ve yet to figure out a way to make money from that. (Andy Cohen, if you are reading this post, please hit me up on Twitter and let’s chat.)

In fact, as Guillebeau mentions, “you usually don’t get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or for something indirectly related to it.”

There are several case studies in the book that illustrate this point, like the story of Benny Lewis, a world traveler who loves to immerse himself in other cultures and learn their languages, which he’s figured out how to do in a very short time. Benny says he gets paid to learn other languages, but what he actually gets paid to do is help others learn languages using methods he’s perfected as a result of his own travels over the years.

At the end of the day it’s passion plus a skill that provides a solution to a problem that produces a successful business.

Here’s the formula, according to Guillebeau:

(Passion + skill) –> (problem + marketplace) = opportunity

Once you’ve got that nailed, you can use the exercises in this book to help turn your idea, skills and passion into a business.

And if you’re just starting out and don’t have your big idea mapped out just yet, this book will help you see what’s possible.

Fun, freedom and fulfillment, here we come.

Learn more about the book and get inspired at The $100 Startup.

And check out Chris’s site here, including his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work, and Travel.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]