Categories
Business

Our 3-phase process to a successful creative business

“Now what?” It’s a question we get all the time from creative entrepreneur friends and new coaching clients…

“I have my systems in place. Now what?”

“I finally updated my website. Now what?”

“I tried an Instagram ad, but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. Now what?”

“I went to a conference and have so many notes and ideas. What do I do first?”

“I know I’m supposed to do certain things, but I don’t know what to do first! HELP!”

Before we share the process we walk through with our Jetsetters (in the Jetsetter Academy) and our 1:1 coaching clients, I have a couple disclaimers…

Disclaimer #1

These phases, categories and action items are a little bit different for everyone. Here are a few things that determine where we start and the unique path or order we follow:

  • Years of experience in business
  • Strengths in business
  • Amount of time dedicated to your business

Disclaimer #2

Very often the to-dos and strategies below can feel overwhelming. That’s why we started Idealust in the first place…to help you succeed with the littlest amount of overwhelm possible.

The last thing we want to do is make you feel like you’re suffocating in “shoulds” and to-dos, so take a look at this with clear and realistic eyes. Know this isn’t all meant to be accomplished overnight, this month, or even this year.  

Alright, here we go…

Phase 1 for a successful creative business: A solid foundation!

You can implement all sorts of incredible marketing strategies to get more business, but if you’re inviting all these new and potentially wonderful leads back to a wobbly, scattered, inefficient business, it’s more likely that all those potentially wonderful clients and customers will pass you by…

Please note: Done is better than perfect!! We’ve been entrepreneurs for more than 10 years, and we still come back to some of these things in phase 1 every now and then to refocus and fine tune.  

Phase 2 for a successful creative business: Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!

This is where the fun (at least for us) begins! This is where you say, “Hey, world (of ideal clients, that is)!! Let’s party! Let’s connect! You love popcorn flavored Jelly Beans?! Me, too! Your problems? I know how to help solve them! I’m here to help!”

This is where we grow your brand presence. This is where potentially wonderful clients keep seeing your smiling face pop up in their world. This is where you ditch your comfort zone (see why that phase 1 mindset is so important?!) and try new things.

Please note: Each of these strategies is big and time consuming all on its own. Some work faster than others. When approached and implemented with intention and know-how, your audience and business will grow. You will make more money. Here’s some proof 😉    

Phase 3 for a successful creative business: Scale!

Let’s be honest…we all want more of phase 3 in our lives. It sounds cushy and fabulous to have something (a course, a product, etc.) that makes us money while we’re sleeping. Or, a team of capable employees who do the work we loathe. Or, a list of thousands who are loyal and buy anything we have to offer.

Let’s get real again…this takes time! Passive income isn’t exactly “passive” right off the bat. Sometimes scaling takes some trial and error. Again, we recommend taking a clear and honest inventory of your business, what’s worked in the past, where you want to go and what the market actually wants and needs before attempting to scale. We can help you figure all that out.

Please note: Attempting to skip phases 1 and 2 in hopes of an easier, more successful life will leave you drained and defeated. Pay your dues. Build your community. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Then, meet us here in phase 3 🙂

  • Rinse + repeat what’s working best
  • List building
  • Team building
  • Passive income

What phase are you in right now? What are you going to work on next?! We’d love to hear from you and cheer you on. If you’re still feeling stuck and want some more guidance, apply for a free strategy call where we can get more specific for you and your business!

Categories
Business

How to approach influencers for collaboration

I believe there’s a right way and a wrong way for creative entrepreneurs to build relationships and approach industry influencers for collaboration. The wrong way will get you a bad reputation and likely lose you business. The right way will get you new, real life friends and help you book (possibly) a lot more business.

Case in point:

I recently asked our coaching clients in our private Facebook group what one thing has been working great for them recently in their businesses.

Almost 100% of them included the word: relationships. A couple quick examples:

  • I think, for me, building relationships is going well! I’ve been getting tons of referrals from really great people, and I am just so grateful!”
  • “Both online and in person! The local networking group of purpose-driven, faith-fueled women I joined has proved quite fruitful.”


And I’ll never forget the call when one of our clients said an industry influencer who she’d been following and admiring for years, ended up hiring her, our client!

Here’s the deal. In all the marketing strategies that exist, the best of the best always comes back to building genuine relationships. Key being word: Genuine. I’m going to say this word a gazillion times in this post.

Maybe you’ve been daydreaming about working with so-and-so whose business you’ve been admiring for forever. Maybe you’ve been hoping to increase your brand presence by aligning yourself with a well-known brand so potential clients become actual clients with more ease. Maybe you have a specific project in mind and wish you could collaborate with _______ (insert creative entrepreneur superstar here) but you have no idea how to make that happen?

I’m going to tell you how.

It’s how we went from admiring conference hosts on the sidelines to speaking at those events and becoming actual, real life friends with them and other speakers in the line-up. It’s also how we, as San Diego wedding photographers (in our former life), went from being total newbies charging $1,000/wedding to booking $5,000+ weddings with ease.

We reserve the play-by-play version of this for our Jetsetters and 1:1 clients, but here’s a general lay of the land…

How to build industry relationships and approach influencers for collaboration

  • Start building from the sidelines on social media
    • Let them know you admire them, their work, business, the way they balance it all, etc.
    • Be a real life fan (ex: leave thoughtful IG comments and engage consistently)
    • Show up in their world, genuinely, like you actually love what they’re up to (Facebook lives, webinars, read their books, whatever they’re teaching or putting out in the world)
  • Stand out from the crowd
    • Send some encouragement and/or love via email or snail mail
    • Let them know they’ve helped or inspired you
    • Do your research; know what’s going on in their world and business
  • Send them an email
    • We’re big fans of video-infused emails (Vidyard is awesome!)
    • Let them know if you have trusted, real life friends or clients in common (this helps bridge the gap of “who the heck are you?” to “ah, okay, I can probably trust you’re genuine”)
    • Mention something you have in common
    • Be specific about what you’re asking (coffee date? Google hangout?)
    • Offer your help/expertise if it’s relevant to them/know they’re looking for it



This isn’t about buttering people up or saying things you don’t actually mean just to align yourselves with someone who has a lot of followers. That is the wrong way to approach influencers for collaboration. That, and cold calling 😉 This is about building real life, genuine relationships.

It’s not rocket science. But I believe the creative industry sometimes lacks this kind of courtship and connection, if you will.

Use your manners.

Be kind.

Show up.

Offer help.

Rinse and repeat.



Let me know what’s been working well for your business lately! Better yet, tell me how building genuine relationships is benefiting your business 🙂

Categories
Business

5 Lessons Learned in the First Year of Motherhood

You may have noticed I’ve been a little quiet this last year. In April of 2018, Jesse and I traveled to China to meet and bring home our daughter. Both of us took an extra 6 weeks off when we got home. And then, Jesse went back to work and I, well, I sort of took a 12-month maternity leave. I mean, I work, but honestly, not that much.


I am so incredibly grateful this has worked for our family. This wasn’t really part of our plan. I’m not sure we knew what this was going to look like. You know, being a parent for the first time. Of a toddler, right off the bat 😉


Being an Enneagram 1 (the perfectionist) and a Myers Briggs INFJ (heavy on the feeler), it’s been a year of big challenges and feelings (like mom guilt, business owner guilt AND also joy and gratitude like I’ve never experienced before, thanks to our sweet and spunky girl).


I have a lot of friends who are high-achieving mamas. They work their booties off on their businesses and their marriages and in mamahood. They do it all. And I’m so inspired by them! But here’s the thing, we’re not all cut from the same cloth. We’re wired differently. Our businesses and families have different needs. Our hearts have different desires. And for us personally, God has called us to something a little more, dare I say in this creative entrepreneur space!, conventional, this last year.


Rather than a post about freebies or funnels or marketing (you’ll find plenty of that in almost every other post over here), today, I’m sharing something super personal. I’m talking about being a mom. This is for you, mamapreneur! Or, soon to be mamapreneur! And, it comes straight from my heart.


5 lessons learned in the first year of motherhood

1. Being a mama is work


I’ve heard it a million times, being a stay at home mom is a job. Probably, the hardest job. But we entrepreneurs have the tendency to feel a little less than if we’re not being productive. Booking clients. Marketing our businesses. Showing our faces on social media. Checking our emails. Creating new freebies. Sketching out new funnels. You. Get. The. Idea. There is a lot to do.


And, when all of a sudden, your productivity comes to a halt or is on maintenance mode (check out No. 2 in this post) instead of growth mode, we feel a little out of sorts. Let me reassure you, taking care of your tiny human counts as work. It counts as productivity. These sweet little faces won’t be sweet and little for long. The creative entrepreneur industry isn’t going anywhere. It’s (more than) okay to trade in your job title for as long as necessary for your family.


2. You are more than a mama

It’s easy to lose ourselves in our babies. They’re so darn cute. And hilarious. And watching their little minds work is so darn fun. But, here’s the thing, they’re also very needy. And (from our experience) when they’re toddlers, they can be feisty and challenging. If you’re a feeler like me, this can be draining. Especially when you’re mom-ing around the clock without any you time.


Get that you time, girl. From the very start. Schedule it. Call out for help. Go for a walk. Do yoga. Sit in the sunshine in silence. Better yet, get in the car (by yourself) and go to Target. Sit in the parking lot and eat chocolate. Have coffee with your girlfriends.


Take care of yourself. WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY. I guess I can’t tell you how to feel, but at least give guilt-free self-care a whirl okay? You’ll be a better mama and business owner because of it.


3. Do what’s best for your family


Maybe you’re an Enneagram 3 and you have the capacity to do and crush it all simultaneously. Yes, girl! Do all the things, if that’s what’s right for your family. Maybe you’re more like me and you need to really concentrate on one thing at a time. Yes, girl! Be the best darn mama with the majority of your time, if that’s what’s right for your family.


Let’s chat real quick about comparison with strangers (and even friends) on social media and in real life, too. You hear a lot about it when it comes to your business. “You do you, Boo.” We hear that time and again. Do what works best for your business. Warning!!! Comparison gets a little more personal, real and harder to shake when it comes to how you’re mom-ing and what you need to mom best. Remember that morning routine we’re always talking about, KEEP A MORNING ROUTINE (to make sure you’re giving space and time for No. 2 above) to keep a positive mindset. Even if that means waking up at 5am to get a quick sweat and shower in.


4. You might feel a little differently about your business


For almost 9 years, our businesses were our babies. They took about our time, energy and excitement. Then, Vera arrived on the scene. Idealust still takes some of our time and energy and we’re still so excited about our coaching clients and Jetsetters and new trainings we have coming up!!! But, in all honesty, it’s just a little different now. At the end of the day, no matter what’s going on in our business, a snuggle and a kiss and laugh and a hilarious game of chase throughout the house with V fills our hearts and minds with joy we didn’t know existed pre-baby.


Side note: This doesn’t mean your business won’t fulfill you anymore. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your dreams because your phone is filled with photos of his/her squishy face instead of potential images for Instagram. This does mean your motivation for work will probably change. And at least some of your hard-earned income will likely be spent on toys and things you swore you’d never buy 😉


5. Time with your spouse is gold


Date nights are fab. But so are 10 minutes sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, talking about the week to come. We spend Wednesday nights with our Life Group from church. Some of our best talks and time connecting are spent in the car, driving to and from Life Group. It feels like the old days when we were dating. Driving. Talking. Laughing.


It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Hang out with your spouse. Remind them they’re still No. 1 even though there’s a cutie pie who feels pretty darn close to being a No. 1 who sleeps down the hall.




Moral of the story: Motherhood is going to change you and probably your business (at least a little bit), too. And that’s more than okay. It’s a new season. It’s challenging but oh so beautiful and I’ve felt the most joy and gratitude once I learned to accept and abide by everything I said above. My hope is that these things help you feel all sorts of joy and gratitude, too. xo


What’s the biggest realization you had (are having!?) in your first year of motherhood, while still running a creative business? Talk to me! What’s worked best for you? Would love to hear so we can all learn and grow together <3




Categories
Business

5 Steps to Creating A Freebie That Converts

Freebies, lead magnets, offers, opt-ins, whatever you want to call them…you need one if you want to expand your reach, build your brand presence, grow your email list and/or make more money with your creative business. If you’re reading our blog, I’m pretty sure you want all of those things!


Just in case all of these words sound like I’m speaking a different language, freebies can be a lot of different things, like information, a product or discount that is valuable to your ideal client. A few quick ideas for you…

  • PDF guide
  • Video tutorial
  • Webinar
  • Free prints
  • Discounted or free service
  • Free trial
  • Free consultation
  • Even a free engagement session!! (if you’re a wedding photographer)

Also, you don’t have to be an industry leader or educator to have a lead magnet. We encourage a lot of our 1:1 coaching clients and those in the Jetsetter Academy to create freebies, whether they’re photographers, web designers or educators in the industry. Think about it, how do you think industry leaders get to the top?!

Using lead magnets certainly helps 😉


I know it can be intimidating, especially if you’re not too fond of the tech side of things. Don’t worry, we’ll help you with that too, at the end of this post. But first, here are our 5 steps to creating a freebie that converts.

5 steps to creating a freebie that converts:

1. Decide your topic

Goal: Answer a question or solve a problem or pain point your ideal client has.


Things to think about: Meet your audience where they’re at. Give them what they want in this lead magnet. (This might not be what you think they want.) Look at the content you already have! What’s already working for you, aka, already helping/educating/adding value for your clients/customers and potential clients/customers?

2. Create the content using your strengths

Goal: Communicate clearly, quickly, effectively that you can help/are the answer to their questions/problem.


Things to think about: What is your best form of communication? Writing? Video? If it’s a PDF, we recommend sticking to a 5-15 page document. Also, break up your information with color, images, headlines and bullet points. Include a bio page where you can share more about yourself. If it’s a video, we recommend uploading to YouTube and sticking to 2-5 minute videos. There is a fine line between giving too much information (which leaves your audience more overwhelmed than when they started) and not enough have information (which leaves your audience feeling scammed). Find the balance for your audience!


But, no matter what type of freebie you create, don’t forget a Call to Action!!

3. Create a landing page that leads viewers to your list

Goal: You’ve captured their attention, now we want to keep them as loyal followers (and eventually, turn them into clients/customers!). The best way to do this is via your email list or newsletter. Here’s why.


Things to think about: Simple and straightforward landing pages convert better than cutesy and clever landing pages.

4. Market your freebie

Goal: Get your freebie into the right hands, aka your dream clients/customers.


Things to think about: Comb through all the content you already have and link all relevant content to your new and fabulous freebie! You can add CTAs into relevant blog posts; make your current list love you even more by sending this to them; share about your freebie on IG stories; change out your IG bio link so it links to your freebie; or, run FB + IG ads to your freebie.

5. Follow up with a funnel

Goal: Guide your audience to the next step in your customer journey.


Things to think about: First things first, encourage your new subscriber to consume your freebie! The best way to show them you actually care that they’re a valued person and not just a number is to acknowledge/thank them for being there and walk them through your freebie, making sure they’re making the most of it. Then, nurture this new relationship by over-delivering and consistently showing up in their inbox and life via content marketing that eventually leads to products or services you have to offer them. If you do it right, it’s a win-win.

Tools we recommend using to create a freebie:

  • Freebie Designers
    • Canva
      • What it does: Helps you design your freebie. This tool is so helpful and easy to use for non-designers.Canva
      • Why we love it: For those of us who are not designers, Canva makes it easy to find a template you can use as a base, add your content and be on your way without the frustration of trying to learn another program for a quick one-off project like creating your freebie!
  • Landing page creators
    • Clickfunnels (what we use)
      • Clickfunnels makes it super easy for you to create landing pages, sales pages, thank you pages! If you need a page for a specific purpose – Clickfunnels makes it easy for you to make it!
    • Lead Pages
      • Leadpages is another great option to help you create your landing pages!
    • ConvertKit
      • Convertkit is a great option for creating very simple landing pages. Since it also manages your email list, it makes it a one stop shop for collecting their info and following up with an automated email sequence!
  • Freebie Storage and delivery Options
    • Amazon s3
      • What it does: Delivers your lead magnet into your new follower’s inbox.
      • Why we love it: It’s probably the cheapest investment you’ll ever make in your business! Ha! Seriously though, it is super cheap until you start delivering A LOT of files!
    • Dropbox
    • Google Drive

Want some help?

Do you already have a freebie for your business? If you do and it’s not converting as well as you’d hope, or you don’t have one at all, we’d love to help with this (and lots of other important marketing strategies for your creative business!) Just click here to apply for a free month of coaching in our Idealust Jetsetter Academy and let’s get this marketing party started!

Categories
Business

10 Industry Leaders Give Their Best Business Advice for Creative Entrepreneurs

It’s sort of a loaded question to ask, but we asked it anyway because we want to give you the best business advice for creative entrepreneurs that we possibly can. Well, as much as possible without you actually being a coaching client or part of our revamped Jetsetter Academy 😉

 

Buuuut, before you get a glimpse into some of our industry’s top dogs’ brilliant brains, I need to give you a WARNING!!! because my goal is to inspire and empower you, not overwhelm you. That said, be on the look out for advice that fits where you’re at in this season of your business. Heck, in your life for that matter. Please, please, please do not walk away thinking you need to do it all or be it all. Be you. Just the best version of yourself. That might mean implementing one or two of these things to start.

 

Rant over. Onto the goods. We asked some of our favorite industry friends one tough question and we’re so grateful they’ve taken the time to share their thoughts and hearts with you! (Don’t worry, Jesse and I didn’t weasel our way out of answering this toughie. You’ll find our two cents at the bottom.)

 

If you had to boil it down to one thing that’s helped you get your business where it is today, what would that thing be?

 

I understand that, as business owners, we want to see RESULTS. But we must separate ourselves from the results themselves. You are not results. You are not defined by a client refusal. You are more than a denied project. You are not the outcome of a flopped launch. You are more than you let yourself believe. When we separate ourselves from the outcome, we free ourselves to believe that the right clients will find us, that new projects will arise, and flops are just valuable business lessons in disguise. When this happens, we are free to believe we are worth far more than our hearts can imagine. So, go on sweet friend, separate yourself from the outcome and enjoy the ride. // Jasmine Star

 

I think the single most important thing that I have ever done in my business overall has been thinking differently. The way we market, the way we create educational products, the way we try to see business is just a little different from the rest of the world and that has served us so well! We stand out in both the photography and education world because we’re not afraid to do things differently! // Katelyn James

 

Running out of money is the number one reason businesses fail. We see too many entrepreneurs who fail not because they can’t make enough, but because they spend too much — or don’t have a specific, purposeful plan for where their money is going each month. That’s why we recommend that everyone read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and live and breathe his principles for managing money. // Amy & Jordan

 

Wise counsel! I meet monthly with a group of fellow CEO’s for Biblical business counsel and to learn alongside each other. It has been the best thing I’ve ever done for our business. I don’t feel alone on the “leadership island” anymore. Surrounding myself with this kind of accountability and support has been a gift! // Lara Casey

 

ONE thing is hard, but a BIG shift for me has been realizing I need to build my business to run when I can’t. Not just like, seeing that as a concept, but like, doing the hard work to make it happen. If I’m the quarterback of my own business, I don’t know when I’ll be out, right? I could get injured tomorrow and be out all season, so how am I constantly thinking of how I can build this to run either when I can’t … or just need a nap. // Ashlyn Carter

 

I realized that I have the power to change. When something wasn’t working, I made the change that I needed. When I realized that I was being “team too much,” I made changes to simplify and streamline in order to get on the other side of busy. You can continue to make excuses and put things off or you can realize that today, this very second, you have the power to change for the better. In your business and your life. // Shunta Grant

 

Focus. Now, I don’t mean the ability to focus on a task and be super productive and get all of your to-do list to done (I’m not the best at that if I’m being totally honest). What I mean is focusing on your business. Focusing on what you’re doing. And that’s it. The ability to put your blinders on, ignore everyone else, and keep your head down is what it took for me to build my business. It ain’t always easy! But, it’s so incredibly worth it. I mean, if it worked for Oprah during the talk show wars of the 90s, it’s gotta work for folks like you and me. You’ve gotta be your version of Oprah. Ignore Phil Donahue (and Sally Jessy…and Ricki Lake…and Jerry Springer). Keep your head down. It makes all the difference. // Tyler McCall

 

Opening up and connecting with women who get it, too! They’re the ones pushing me through hard times, challenging me to reach a dream and cheering me on as I do. My business would be a lonely, isolating place without them (and truthfully I don’t think it would be anywhere near “successful” if I didn’t have them in my life)! // Kat Schmoyer

 

Consistently seeking the wisdom of people who are smarter than us. Whether that’s through coaching, attending a workshop, or simply calling up a friend when I’m stuck on something, having the ability to pull from beyond JUST my own resources and brains has been invaluable. I honestly wouldn’t be in business today if it weren’t for our industry mentors-turned-friends who were there to either cheer me on or help problem-solve in some of the most challenging seasons of business. And what’s been really rewarding is how, now that we’re “veterans” in the industry, I’ve been able to turn around and occasionally offer advice or wisdom back to the folks who have always been there for me! // Abby Grace

 

Having a plan and a vision for where the business is going. Too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day details and miss opportunities that are right in front of us. Making intentional time to work on your business—stepping out and looking at the big picture—can re-ignite creativity and passion and help you build a strategy to move your business forward.

For example, my team meets quarterly to discuss what’s working, what’s not working, challenges, opportunities, and much, much more. Having this dedicated time together where we’re not buried in the to-dos allows us to do things like brainstorm new (or improved) products or put together a marketing plan for the next few months. If we didn’t have this time set aside, we may never have accomplished some of the amazing things we’ve done! // Amber Housley

 

You get two for the price of one here!
Jesse: Consistency. Yes, there will be times of hustle and pushing it, but there needs to be consistency, no matter what season of your business you’re in. When you’re consistent, you’re always making forward progress. Even if they’re just baby steps, you’re heading in the right direction!

 

Becky: Doing the scary, “risky,” hard things not everyone is willing to do. Sometimes that’s putting yourself in front of the camera. Sometimes that’s scrapping something you spent a lot of time and money on. Sometimes that’s trusting your gut and saying yes to a big, fat idea that seems crazy! Sometimes that’s humbling yourself and getting back in the game after a failed attempt. If you’re willing to get uncomfortable and overcome awkward, you’ll stand out from the crowd and gain a lot of confidence along the way. // (Yours truly!), Idealust

 

What stands out to you? What words jumped out at you? What inspires you to take a different approach to how you’re currently doing business? We’d love to hear in the comments below 🙂

 

Categories
Business Personal

How to Know When it is Time to Let Go in Your Business

Before we were ever business coaches for creatives, Jesse and I were wedding photographers.

 

In 2009, we spent hours, probably days worth of time coming up with our business name alone: Limelife Photography (we don’t recommend taking this long to decide on a business name). In 2012, we invested $8,750 in a new website and promo video. That business was our baby. Our everything at the time.

 

As the years went on, we started having conversations about transitioning our entrepreneur journey toward what is now Idealust. (Thinking of making a big move, leap or transition in your business? Read this.) We continued to get wedding photography inquiries even though we updated our website saying we were no longer taking weddings. Even though we weren’t using it, we kept the site up because how could we not?! It was the product of a lot of blood, sweat, tears and dolla bills.

 

Before long, I got an email reminding me it was time to renew our hosting. For years we automatically renewed. Obviously. We needed the site to help market our business. Duh. But now, we weren’t pursuing that business, so…

 

Jesse and I had a conversation that included a lot of these questions…

 

“Do we keep paying for it even though we don’t need it anymore?”
“Should we take the site down?!”
“WHAAAAT?! We can’t take it down, can we?!”
“We put so many hours and so much work and so much money into it!”
“Does it make sense to keep it up just for the sake of keeping it up?”
“Do we need it anymore?”

 

We decided to scrap our shiny $8,750 website. Our photography business promo video (we obviously have a thing for upbeat and quirky promo videos…here’s our Idealust vid) still lives on our free WordPress blog that we will probably have forever. But, the rest of it (the beautiful galleries, the clean and colorful design, the copy), well, it’s gone. Yes, it felt like we were breaking up with or practically burying a part of ourselves, but in the end…

 

That website worked wonders for us at one point, but it was no longer essential for the direction we were headed. It no longer served a purpose. We haven’t needed it or thought about it in the last 4+ years.

 

Recently, we scrapped our free Facebook group for Idealust and have been solely focusing on our private community for our 1:1 clients and those in the Jetsetter Academy. One of the best decisions we’ve made in a while.

 

We’re such big believers in streamlining and simplifying our business that we coach our incredible clients to do the same, when necessary.

 

For example, when we first started working with Stefani of Stefani Jessica Studio, she offered brand strategy, branding design, copywriting and website design. She is capable and talented at all those things but she wasn’t making money from all of those avenues. And, maybe more importantly, she wasn’t excited about the work she was doing in some of those categories!

 

After a few conversations and some nudging from Jesse and me (it’s hard to let go of the things we’ve built), Stefani decided to solely focus on website strategy, design and development (in addition to educating other designers with her in-depth content).

 

Making that one switch, letting go of something that wasn’t working for her business, Stefani has been able to raise her prices, book dream clients and continues to book her highest package over and over again. Oh, and she’s actually enjoying her work 😉 Worth it, wouldn’t you say?

 

I’m not saying you should finish this article and go delete your Facebook group or shut down your site or delete half of your services.

 

I am saying do yourself a favor and take inventory of your tools, resources, revenue streams, systems, services, etc. and do a gut check on what’s working for you and what’s not.

 

A few questions to help you decide if it’s time to let go of something in your business:

  • What are you spending time, money or energy on that no longer serves a purpose for your business?
  • Do you pay for a service, app or system that you don’t use (as much as you’d like to be using and know that’s not going to change)?
  • Do you offer a specific service because someone else offers that service but you really, truly don’t want to be offering that service?
  • Do you offer services or products that aren’t making you money you’d like to be making with them? (Scrapping them isn’t the only option. It takes a lot of work to finetune marketing strategies and sales funnels, so those might be options, too.)
  • Do you have a gut feeling about something you’re doing in your business, like maybe, you already know you shouldn’t continue down that path?
  • Running a successful business takes smart plans and strategies but it also takes flexibility (and these things too). We have to be able to remove ourselves from the work and time and often, the money, we put into our businesses to make clear decisions that benefit the longevity of our businesses.

 
Sometimes, we have to cut our losses. Sometimes, we have to shift or transition. Sometimes, we have to scrap projects, ideas, services, lead magnets, Instagram ads or shiny websites, if those things aren’t serving their purpose.

 

It’s not always easy. But, if it’s the right move, we promise, it’ll be more than worth it.

 

We’d love to hear from you! What’s something that you let go of that’s made your business better and stronger? How did you feel once you finally let _________ go?

 
 
 

3 Quick Tips for Creative Entrepreneurs to Rank on Google

Wouldn’t it be cool if your business popped up on the FIRST PAGE!!! of Google when people searched for a San Diego wedding photographer, web designer for creatives, newborn photographers near Seattle, ______________ (fill in the blank for that title or phrase you want to be known for!)
Umm, duh!

Maybe you’re already dominating the search engines, but in case not and in case you’d like to (again, duh!), we want to share with you 3 quick tips for creative entrepreneurs to rank on Google, without paying an SEO specialist to make it happen for you. These things have gotten us to the first page on Google for Idealust and back in the day when we were shooting for our wedding photography business, Limelife Photography.

(Test it out for yourself! Google “business coaching for creatives” OR “business coaches for creatives” and you’ll see us at the top of the first page 😉)

Oh, and side note, we’ve been a little scarce on the blog posts lately because I’m focusing more time on our spunky 2 year old. I only share that as encouragement that all the smart blogging work you’ll do (the smart blogging work we’ve done) has the potential to keep working for you even if you take a little sabbatical to spend time with your babe or go to Iceland, whatever kind of adventure you’re on.

Tip No. 1 for Creative Entrepreneurs to Rank on Google

First up, get the Yoast SEO plug-in if you’re on WordPress. (If you’re not on WordPress, go have coffee with Jesse and he’ll talk you into switching to WordPress. Buy him an iced mocha and he might even get you switched over himself.)

Yoast is like the fairy godmother of blogging. She’s got your back, prompting you along the way to the next best thing for your blog post, one after the next.

Permalink?
Slug?
Meta description?
Focus keyword?

Not sure what they are or why you should optimize them? No problem. Yoast will wave her magic wand and BAM! you’re 7 steps closer to your ideal client than you were 3 minutes ago.

Tip No. 2 for Creative Entrepreneurs to Rank on Google

Next, start using long tail keywords and titles. Long tail keywords are phrases that are more specific (and usually longer) than more commonly searched for keywords. Yes, there are probably fewer people Googling these phrases. But, it’s much easier to climb the ranks using long tail keywords vs. using general and super common searches.
Example:
You’re much more likely to rank for “film photographer in Brooklyn” than you are for “New York City photographer.”
Make a list of titles/phrases you want to be known for. Think about words that describe your ideal client. Think of adjectives that describe your work and/or your brand. If you’re a photographer, think about locations or venues you’ve shot at that you’d like to shoot at again.

Tip No. 3 for Creative Entrepreneurs to Rank on Google

Google likes Google-related things (again, duh, Becky!) So, why not optimize all the tools at our fingertips?! Google may not come out and say, “If you use our stuff (like YouTube, Google Analytics, Google My Business, etc.), we’ll rank you higher!”, but some features, like Google Reviews, will 100% make people more likely to click on your business within the search result (see below)!
If you’re not already getting Google reviews for your business, start today! (Seriously, email your past clients and ask for a review. Don’t forget to make it super easy for them. Prompt them with questions. Give them a direct link. Stuff like that. Need more help with this, click here.)
Oh, and once you start ranking on those higher pages, this third tip is like the cherry on top. Imagine your ideal client: searching, searching, Googling, searching for “website designers for creatives” then they see your business!!!! YAY!!!! But it gets better, they click and see you’ve got 15 5-star reviews from past clients!!! YAAAAAY!! Cherry. On. Top.
These changes are easy. They are quick and painless but they’ll start giving you more bang for your blog posts. And isn’t that what you’re trying to do anyway…make every to-do you’re crossing off, really, truly be worth your time and energy? If you’re thinking: “umm, duh” then get your booty blogging the right way, starting by making these 3 quick changes that’ll get your blog ranking on Google faster than your fairy godmother can wave her magic wand.

 

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Business

A New Spin on Networking for Creative Entrepreneurs

We were about a year into Idealust and we had some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), thank you Jim Collins for this fun acronym. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out Built to Last.)

One of those goals had a lot to do with teaching what we knew, in person. Hanging out with awesome creatives, in person. Speaking at conferences, in person. Having real conversations with, laughing with, sometimes crying with (you know how it goes!), empowering and being inspired by our industry peers, in person.

(I’m so grateful our work has paid off and we’ve been a part of incredible events that we believe in, like Creative at Heart, The Yellow Conference, The Together Experience… AND, probably even more importantly, we’ve built some incredible friendships because of it.)

In order for that to happen, we had to get out there and do some “networking.”

Bleh. Networking. You feel me?!

That word still rubs me the wrong way. All I can think of is corporate 9-5ers congregating on a hotel patio, standing there at belly bar tables in their suits and pencil skirts (I actually really like pencil skirts, don’t get me wrong!), twirling drink straws, reciting their resumés and sliding business cards across the table. It’s like it just doesn’t fit in our industry.

So, early on, Jesse and I decided we needed a new spin on networking for creative entrepreneurs. We needed to think of it differently.

Not ditch it completely. (Introverts! Did you hear me?! Don’t ditch it completely!!)

Networking is a must whether you’re working on booking speaking engagements or hoping to book your calendar full of incredible clients.

Without it, you’re leaving incredible friendships, business opportunities, money, freedom and fulfillment on the table. I’m guessing you’re not okay leaving those things on the table 😉

I’ve done a lot of networking in my 9 years as a creative entrepreneur, and I’ve definitely felt all of these things along the way:


  • Awkward (Like, seriously awkward!!)
  • “Why the heck am I here?!”
  • Not good enough

But now, NOW!, when I network I feel:

  • Empowered
  • Confident
  • Still a tiny bit nervous sometimes, but an excited nervous instead of a “I think I’m going to hide in the bathroom” nervous

I feel these things not because we’re business coaches for creatives and have all the answers (we don’t have all the answers) but because we take a different approach than a lot of other people in the room.

Networking for creative entrepreneurs isn’t about:

  • Handing out as many business cards as possible…
  • Talking about yourself…
  • Bragging…
  • Name dropping…
  • Trying to prove yourself, your business or your worth to anyone…

Yikes. No wonder networking makes so many people nervous. When you look at it like the above list, you’re really putting the pressure on!

So, how do you make all those potentially awkward introductions and conversations feel easy and natural? I’ve found the best way to feel comfortable and confident is to make someone else feel comfortable and confident!

Networking tips for creative entrepreneurs

  • Seek out anyone gravitating toward the corner; make her smile! (This might be a genuine compliment about how you love her bright blue coat or an opening one-liner about how these sort of events sometimes make you want to hide in the bathroom.)
  • Focus on making 1-2 solid connections per event you attend
  • Start real conversations beyond small talk
  • Ask for their business cards and/or Instagram handle. (I usually pull out my phone and follow them on IG right away and go back later to engage more with their recent posts.)
  • Follow up with your new connections right away
  • Not every conversation needs to be about business. In fact, I’ve found the best networking has come from talking to my new friends about things new friends talk about
  • If you do talk about business, find out what they’re excited about! What they’re working on! Is there anything you can do for them? Introduce them to a copywriter if they need a copywriter?
  • Keep your eye out for new people you can refer work to (whether a non-ideal client inquires with you or you’re booked out.)
  • If you’re a planner and need to feel super prepared, see who’s going to the event ahead of time and do a little scouting of attendees you’d like to get to know. Do some engaging on social media before the event so when you meet, you sort of already know each other

Moral of the story: Be a nice person. Forget about business and money and work experience and even yourself for a second. Instead, think about how you can make someone else shine.

When you take this new spin on networking for creative entrepreneurs, it works because you:

  • Build genuine friendships and business partnerships
  • Gain a reputation for being helpful
  • Make people feel comfortable and people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you made them feel
  • Are revealing authenticity and building credibility as someone who’s not just out to get theirs
  • Will stay on people’s minds because of all of the above and therefore, eventually, book more business because of it all. Because, in the end, as Marie Forleo always says, people do business with people they know like and trust.

    [blockquote cite=”Maya Angelou” type=”center”]“I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”[/blockquote]
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Business

3 mistakes creative entrepreneurs are making when it comes to CTAs

If you get our weekly emails, then you saw the flyer I “designed” (if you can even call it that!) for our brand new photography business nine years ago. Then, you clicked over to this post because you wanted to find out what I was doing wrong with that flyer. (Besides the obvious, not having a designer design it!)

 

That, my friend, was a call to action. I wanted to make sure you knew the rest of the story…the most important part…

 

Understanding where I went wrong, so you don’t have to go wrong in your business, too!

 

My flyer wasn’t the worst of the mistakes I made with that newbie marketing plan. The bigger mistake was that I put a strong call to action in front of people who didn’t even know me. I wasn’t bridging the gap between my world and their world and naturally guiding them to the next step of the customer journey I wanted them to be on.

 

Instead, I was basically saying, “Hey! I’m Becky! Hire me to take your family photos!”

 

The response I got was a lot of, “Ummm, who are…what…umm, okay???…” looks.

 

Not the response I was going for 😉

 

Unfortunately, a lot of creative entrepreneurs are making that same mistake or a different one when it comes to CTAs. (And that’s bad for biz and for your bank account.)

 

If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time and energy taking care of your clients, creating valuable content (blog posts, Instagram posts, videos, etc.) for your audience and nurturing relationships with industry friends and potential clients, too.

 

And, just in case you didn’t know it yet…we’re rooting you on to get your biz where you want it to go (we believe you are wildly capable, you might just need a helping hand)!!!!

 

So, we’re sharing the 3 mistakes creative entrepreneurs are making when it comes to CTAs and how you can steer clear of them so your ideal clients quickly start to know, like and trust you. When you organically guide them down your customer journey, they’re much more likely to end up where you want them to go, which is probably hiring you or buying from you! (This is much better for your biz and for your back account.)

 

First up, just so we’re on the same page…

 

What is a call to action?

A piece of copy, a video message, encouragement, etc. that asks readers or viewers to click, buy, enter an email address, watch, or do something else that intentionally guides them closer to where the content producer or business owner wants them to go.

 

This is you proactively and intentionally looking at every connection point you have with your audience or potential client and deciding where you want them to go next, and giving them an opportunity to keep moving right along!

 

We’ll show you some real life examples in a sec, but first…

 

3 mistakes creative entrepreneurs are making when it comes to CTAs

 

  1. Too much too soon. (Like what I did.)It doesn’t make sense for a guy to ask his date to marry him on the first date. (Unless, you’re on the Bachelor.) It didn’t make sense for me to ask people who didn’t know me to hire me, without bridging the gap with connection. If it’s a potential client’s first time seeing your blog, they might not be ready to inquire with you, but they might happily follow you on Instagram.The general rule we follow: The bigger the CTA, the more connection time you need. CTAs must feel organic if your readers, viewers, fans, followers and potential clients are going to respond positively and without hesitation.

 

  1. Underusing CTAs. (Or, never using them!)I know my “brilliant” marketing idea (handing out flyers in the park to moms) makes you shake your head a bit and think, “Come on, girl! You can do better than that!” Trust me, I agree.But, the opposite side of the coin is that creatives are often too cautious, ignoring or overthinking (and therefore, not giving) CTAs which leaves your audience, well, it leaves them at a dead end as far as your biz (and bank account) are concerned.I get it. You don’t want to be too pushy. You don’t want your peeps to think you’re trying to sell to them. EVER. So, you don’t.But, I have good news for you!! The more you organically and gradually guide potential clients through your customer journey, the less “selling” you’ll have to do. Promise 😉

 

  1. Saying the same things over and over again. (The quickest way to bore your potential clients and, in turn, encourages them to take a hike away from your brand.)Not every CTA is created equally. You can say, “Check out my new post on the blog!” 18 times in a row. But, I guarantee your followers and potential clients will quickly start tuning you out.Instead, think about what makes that project or shoot or client noteworthy! What was exciting, new, different, attention-getting?! Lead with that instead of saying the same old thing. Heck, maybe even get readers’ attention by mixing in a video intro, too!?

 

You’re almost finished reading this article. And once you’re done, I have a CTA for you 😉

 

First: Figure out where you want your audience, readers, potential clients to end up in your customer journey.

 

Second: Take a look at all the connection points I mention below and see where you can step up your game.

 

Where creative entrepreneurs can add CTAs

  • Blog posts
  • Instagram posts
  • Instagram stories
  • Newsletters
  • Emails to inquiries
  • Emails to industry peers
  • In-person consultations
  • Phone consultations
  • Video consultations (I think you get the idea about consultations!)
  • About page on your website
  • Facebook posts
  • Facebook lives
  • YouTube videos
  • When your awesome clients finish working with you

(Side note: I get that this list above might be overwhelming all by itself, without CTAs. We’ve got your back. Click here to get our free Content Creation Kit and then hop back over here to see how you can make that content work for your biz and bank account even more!)

 

Want a quick jumpstart?! Thought you might. Here are a few quick ideas for getting started…

 

A few examples of CTAs for creatives

 

  • Add a link to a value-based blog post to your Instagram bio, instead of just having a link to your homepage on your website.
  • Add a CTA at the bottom of a value-based blog post for a freebie that gets readers to your email list.
  • At the end of a consultation, be brave and ask, “Does this sound like what you’re looking for?”

 

Here’s the deal: If you’re not actively guiding your audience or potential clients from one thing to the next, you’re leaving so much up to chance, hoping your ideal potential clients will actively search out what’s next. And, if you’re anything like us, you’d rather not leave the fate of your business up to chance.

 

(If you are bummed you missed out on seeing my first attempt at designing a flyer for our photography business nine years and you’d love to start getting our emails so you can learn from and laugh with (at?!) us, click here to get a free gift and you’ll automatically get next week’s email, too!)

 

 

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Business

5 mindset shifts you need to make to grow your creative business

We kick off every client’s coaching program talking about mindset. We can (and do!) teach every powerful marketing strategy in the book, but somewhere along the way of gaining momentum and kicking some business booty, it’s bound to happen…

 

The traction comes to a screaming halt (or dies a slower death, either way, it’s not fun). Panic steals Confidence’s spot and you somehow find yourself feeling paralyzed and desperate.

 

No matter how successful you are in business, no matter how many years you’ve been a wedding photographer or any other kind of creative entrepreneur, there are going to be frustrations, challenges or roadblocks that have the power (if you let them!) to knock you on your butt.

 

That’s why it’s so important to spend time to strengthening your mindset. You can’t have a strong business if you don’t have a strong mindset. If you lack one, you lack the other.

 

Okay, so far I sound pretty discouraging. But sugar-coating doesn’t do anybody any good. You get it! You’ve been there! How the heck do you stay as far away as possible from all that ick!?

 

Well, I’ve got 5 mindset shifts you need to make to grow your creative business. I’ve compiled this list from our own experience as wedding photographers and as business coaches for creatives and from the big mindset moves that have transformed our clients’ businesses over the years.

 

1. Give your day a chance.

It’s just too easy to go from waking up on the right side of the bed, ready to take on the world to comparing, criticizing and shaming yourself. Depending on what’s going on in your personal life or what you’re currently facing with your business, that downward spiral can happen in all of 2 seconds. I know because I’ve been there.

 

Take a look at what triggers you. What sets you off in the wrong direction? What makes you feel badly or unworthy? Is it scrolling Instagram when you wake up? Whatever it is, stop dripping those things into your mind and life. Instead, give your day a chance by implementing a morning routine that strengthens your mindset and manages your weaknesses.

 

When you start your day being proactive instead of reactive, you’re much more likely to make smart decisions, experience gratitude more regularly and be the talented creative entrepreneur that you really are instead of feeling like the ghost of the confident girl you once knew.

 

Not sure where to start? Here’s what my morning routine looks like.

 

2. Stop taking everything personally.

I’m an INFJ on Myers-Briggs, heavy on the F (Feeler), so this is one I’m always working on myself! I’m not saying don’t pour your heart into your business or give it your all…of course, there will be times we take things personally as creative entrepreneurs. These businesses of ours are pretty much members of our families.

 

However, there are going to be opinions, mistakes, challenges and setbacks. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to say “YES!” to what you’re offering. Potential clients that really, seriously say they’re going to book with you…well, they might not. You’re going to get “NO!”s and you’re going to feel like Forrest Gump when nobody wanted to sit next to him on the bus.

 

And all of this is okay. It hurts. It feels like your world is crumbling. But, it doesn’t have to. Stop taking everything personally. If just for a minute, step outside of the situation. Pretend you’re an outsider looking in and ask yourself, “How can this situation be improved?” rather than saying to yourself, “I’m not good enough, I should have never reached out to _________ or quoted that price or, _________ (anything else you say to yourself when something doesn’t go as planned).”

 

This leads us nicely into the next mindset shift for creatives…

 

3. Learn from mistakes and move on.

Yes, you need to take your business seriously. No, you don’t need to beat yourself up over every mistake or wrong turn. Not every setback needs to settle into a scar.

 

Go ahead and give yourself a few minutes to feel the disappointment of the situation. Then, figure out how you’re going to move forward. The coaching clients of ours that see the biggest, most consistent successes in their businesses are the ones who put their big girl pants on and keep dredging forward, even if they think they can’t or don’t want to in that moment.

 

Of course, you don’t want to keep making that same mistake over and over again, so give yourself some space to see how you can do things differently next time. Write out some alternative actions you can take.

 

4. Be flexible.

This one can be a toughie, especially if you’re a type-A planner and/or perfectionist! Yes, having a game plan, a roadmap, clarity, direction (call it what you will!), is vital if you want to bypass years of indecision and heartache with your business. It’s so important that we started a business centered around it 😉

 

Here’s the catch: Entrepreneurship is full of surprises. There are opportunities and people and things hanging out in your future that right now that you have no way of seeing or knowing! Isn’t that rad!? But that also means, as you’re making decisions, trying new marketing strategies, building relationships, etc. you have to leave a little space for the unknowns and be willing to tweak and switch gears, if needed.

 

Your original game plan might not go 100% according to plan. But, if you have an open mind, are flexible and willing to bob and weave along the way all for the sake of the greater good of your clients, potential clients and personal satisfaction with your business, you’ll be so much better off than standing your ground if what you’re standing on is quicksand.

 

5. Get outside of yourself.

My fifth and last mindset shift I believe you need to make to grow your creative business is to get outside of yourself. I mean this in a few different ways. First of all, yes, you are the only one responsible for the success of your business; but no, that doesn’t mean you need to do it on your own. Get an accountability partner; join a mastermind; or better yet, hire a business coach 😉

 

Secondly, I mean that we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. To-do lists, monetary goals, hours logged in, clients booked, and the list goes on. It’s easy to get sucked into the, “Oh, I wish I could meet you for a coffee date, but I have too much to do!” blues. Yes, you probably have a lot to do. No, you don’t need to say “Yes!” to every coffee date; however, getting outside of your head, your lists, your goals…it’ll do you good. Besides, building genuine relationships with industry friends is one of the biggest (and most fun!) ways we’ve grown both of our businesses. But, I’ll get into that another day.

 

Tell me! Which of these mindset shifts do you need to make pronto?! I know there’s at least one! Don’t be shy…leave a comment below and start implementing today if you are serious about growing your creative business.