Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Kind Over Matter Rocks

It's the one thing that gets me every time.

The thing that made me cry when people sang "Happy Birthday" to me as a child.

The one quality I wished for my daughter to have when she was born.


It's no surprise that Kind Over Matter is one of my favorite sites.  I get their posts delivered to my inbox and I rarely delete them without reading. I "like" them like nobody's business (as my facebook groups can attest).

What Amanda creates with her site is right up there with JK Rowling in my book (and you all know there is no higher place than JK...) Amanda creates her own kind of magic by giving to others as she also builds a beautiful blooming business for herself.  

What does she do that's so special and how can you pull in a little of that sparkle for yourself as you build your own unique, thriving business?  Here are a few little nuggets that I see:

Amanda shares the work of Etsy Artists that tie seamlessly into the theme of each post. The beauty draws me in.  She creates (forgive the cheesiness of the expression) a "win-win".  The artists' she features get amazing exposure to an obscenely large audience (130,000 pageviews/month and 19,000 facebook fans!) and she drives more traffic to her blog from people who follow the featured artist as well. I say that's pretty damn spectacular in its simplicity.

How Can You Use This? How can you set up your site to create win-wins?  How can you help others and yourself at the same time so that you both benefit?  Is it through sharing or highlighting the work or stories of others that complement your services?  Think in terms of mutual benefit.
Amanda uses guest writers which is Mensa-genius if you're a professional blogger because it takes the pressure off of you to constantly create content. But  even better-what I think is especially Amanda-style magic is that she encourages guest posts from her community of readers. Not just polished people who already have it made.  Not paid writers.  Real people who have the chance to share their story and again get the exposure of her vast, specific audience (and thus giving them the chance to increase their own audience). Sharing your words on her site is a gift both to you as the sharer, to her readers and to herself.

How Can You Use This?  First you could check out Kind Over Matter's guest posting set-up and see if there is an area where you could contribute to help get your name out there.  Then you could look at how you might get people involved in contributing to your site.  Is it through interviews, sharing each others work or guest posts?  Use that creativity to think of other ways could you involve others in your site.

Amanda uses advertising to generate revenue but still manages to do it in a heart-centered, deeply giving way.  She's able to support her site AND create a forum for like-minded, creative business people to share their offerings.  She offers advertising at decent rates:  $75.00/month for premium and $55.00/month standard and she helps you design it for $10.00 if you need. I have checked out many of the offerings in her sidebar and they were right in line with my interests.  If I ever offer a class online, I would consider advertising with her.

How Can You Use This? You could use her site to advertise your products and reach a wide audience or you could create the same type of set-up on your own site if you've developed a strong audience.  You don't even have to feel sneaky about it because it benefits everyone when you create it with that intention.

Amanda's willing to make herself vulnerable:  She posted a video interview and revealed her deep fear of public speaking, she posted hoop-dancing videos of herself, she shares her experiences having a son with autism-she's one gutsy kindness guru who's really pushing her comfort boundaries. 

I wouldn't say this is something you can "use."  It's just a willingness to be open and to stretch into your true greatness.

I don't know Amanda nor am I on a first name basis with her (artistic liberty!) or an affiliate or anything like that.  I'm just a student of  what works and what does not. 

Begin to study the blogs you most love online.  What is it that's working?  Where's the best juice coming from?  How can you make your own special formula?

For me, kindness works every time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Staying Curious

Drops of Sunlight

I'm starting to formalize my jewelry making business.  
I've approached a couple of places to sell my earrings locally-it's exciting and wickedly nerve-wracking at the same time to put yourself out there.

To make yourself a little vulnerable.

 It takes you to a place of potential rejection, which is always a squirmy feeling, but it's the place you have to go if you want to move forward.

I went to an Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend and I use this as study time, but also for inspiration and motivation.  You can use these events to learn a ton about what others in your creative area are doing.

What are people charging? And holy crap, what are you going to charge when you start to sell your work? How do your materials and work compare in terms of pricing? I came away with the distinct knowing that my prices are too low and my friend actually yelled at me when she found out what I had been charging.

How do they display their work? I've been shopping around for cards to display my earrings and I saw a lot of creative alternatives to standard earring cards, many hand made.

What materials are other artists using? Silver, copper, mixed media? I find people charge based on the materials they use, the time it takes to create the product and their own personal experience, reputation, expertise...

What stands out most to me? What's the feeling you want to create for the people who buy your  products or services? Energized, relaxed, playful, educational?
 What booths are you most drawn to and why? Is it the colors, the simplicity, the products themselves?

You can learn so much from what others are doing, both online and in person.  
 Drop in with a sense of curiosity, knowing that you will integrate new ideas in your own way that will be a reflection of your style.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Keeping Creativity Alive

Art Adventure 231What if you grew up trusting your own inner voice?

Art Adventure 253  Your innate wisdom over the voice of fear?

Art Adventure 136 

What if you grew up valuing the creative process itself as a tool of deeper knowing and didn't place all of the focus of art making on what the product looked like?

Art Adventure 126

What if the experience was more important than the result?

What if we taught our kids to trust themselves, to listen to their own intuition?

How could we change the world?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Creative with Money

One of the difficulties that many artists seem to face, is the ebb and flow of money. 

In 2003, when I got divorced and had big, scary, hairy, losing-sleep-over-money-what-happens-to-my daughter-if-I-get-sick-I-can't-afford-disability-insurance fears,  I felt that my future and my daughter's future was depending on me continuing to work and keeping my job. 

I'd been dreaming for a long time of starting my own business.  Had established a business structure, had taken steps to start running online classes (back in 2000 mind you), including lining up instructors to teach and getting support from my profession.

Now none of that seemed possible and I shoved my dreams to the back burner in the name of necessity.  Instead, I decided to take control over my financial situation.

I did not have family in the area to help me with child care.  

I needed to both decrease my spending and increase my earnings.

I learned some really good lessons, like I could cut many things out without missing them at all.  Cable, newspapers, magazines, anything that I considered "non-essential" went.  This freed up time and space in my life.

My friend and I sat down and brainstormed all of the assets we had that we could use to make money:
Extra Rooms in our House
Garage Space to rent
Writing Skills
Teaching skills
Recreation Therapy Degree

We went on identifying what strengths and resources we had that we could use to generate money and beyond that, what would we like to do?

She ended up getting a tenant which she still has to this day.  I chose to work with a woman with autism, doing fun, recreation stuff in the community which I did for several years.

We both found something that helped us get through a really icky financial time and that fit with our lives.

These days, when I start to get antsy about money, I remember that I know how to cut back and ramp up the earnings again if I need to but instead of putting myself back in that situation, I'm choosing to build as many sources of income as I can, from things I enjoy doing.

Some of the creative things I see artists doing to get the money flowing: 

Gofundme or Kickstarter projects 
(I've sponsored people in both)

Auctioning off their work and donating a percentage of the proceeds to charity 
(bought a ticket for that too)

Partnering with other artists to offer classes 
(working on this right now myself)

Forming women's circles to raise the ideas and energies to the next level 
(I'm in two with a third in the works)

Working in unconventional setting like painting live during rock concerts
 (hmmm...not really my bag but I'm considering doing a demo at the NY State Fair? They're looking for people to demonstrate their art making live.If you're interested
contact Sandra Fioramonti for more information.)

I'd love to hear your creative ideas!