How To Get Back On Track When You Are Losing Steam

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Losing Steam

Some days you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and feel like blah. Perhaps you are physically tired, anxious, uncertain, generally out of sorts… all of the above?

It can be a struggle to get out of bed and start your day. You feel like you have so much to do, but you can’t get yourself to be productive.

Are you losing steam? Losing motivation? Is this failure? Are you giving up on your dreams?

Doubts immediately swirl in – what you are doing with your life and if it’s worth it or going anywhere at all. The inner critic starts to take over…

I know the feeling and I know how unhelpful it can be to wallow in all of those depressing thoughts. This kind of dip is inevitable, because we all have these kind of downer days. The question is, how do we snap ourselves out of it?

Get Back On Track

The trick is to have an arsenal of tools that will snap you back into positivity and action. We will all have different options that will work for us, so it’s important to explore and identify your unique triggers. Here are some ideas:

  • Re-energize: What activities actually build up your energy level? Usually surfing the internet is draining and not at all restful even if it seems like a zombie mode of intaking inspiration. Perhaps it’s better to get outside? Get some exercise? Go to a bustling cafe and grab your favorite drink? Take a hot shower? What does it for you? What helps you to snap out of lethargy?
  • Self-care and love: You might just need some pampering and self-love. Does that mean a spa day or scenic drive? A red velvet cupcake or a steamy cappuccino while reading your a book quietly? We all need downtime and some TLC. Have you been neglecting yourself?
  • Revisit your mission: Whether it’s the mission statement for your business or your life mission statement, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit the core “why” – the guiding light that defines all we do. Many people have a favorite quote or a poster stuck on their wall as a reminder of what drives us to do what we do, day-to-day.
  • Friends and loved ones: I think we often forget that as humans we are social animals and sometimes it could be that isolation is contributing to our downward spiral. It’s important to interact and be social. Oftentimes, friends and loved ones will help trigger your usual self and get you back on track. They will provide you with unconditional love and support… so use it! Maybe you just need a hug?

Remember that we all have bad days, when everything just seems off. Help yourself by taking note of what helps you get out of that darkness and always know that tomorrow is another day!

What methods do you use to help you get back on track when losing steam?

Creative Success In Just 10 Minutes A Day

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In talking to many creatives online, I’ve realized that so many of us are blocked and stuck in paralysis. We have dreams and goals, but feel that it’s too far fetched, too difficult or too late to start working towards them.

I want to help us break through the false impression that success only happens with massive action and investment (whether it’s time and/or money).

I’m certainly not against the times in our lives when a major change certainly can kick us into action… but on a day-to-day basis, experience tells me that just 10 minutes a day can lead to success.

We often underestimate the power of incremental change and progress. Consider that 10 minutes a day is over 60 hours of time in a year. That’s like spending more than a month of business work hours – straight – on one project… and that is a substantial amount of time for many types of projects.

When I became a mom, I had to learn the hard way to make use of all the little bits of in-between time I had available to me. The luxury of giant blocks of free time are rare! And if you think about it, the availability of little chunks of time is much greater in our lives today. Waiting in lines, the transition times between errands and tasks, the few minutes before your day starts or day ends… lots of little pockets of time. It makes so much sense to learn to make use of them, rather than just letting them pass you by.

To give you some examples of how 10 minutes a day can lead to success for various projects and goals, consider this:

  • Daily doodle/drawing/pattern/collage projects even with a quick 10 minutes means you will have 365 entries at the end of a year. Even if you skip days you would have still accomplished a lot. That is why I love 100 day challenges or daily routines of that sort. It’s a great way to develop a creative practice routine.
  • Daily exercise like a set of crunches, lunges or stretching poses. It always seems like nothing, but if you actually take action for 10 minutes a day, you’ll be surprised how much more fit you’ll be after a year of practice. Again, even if you skip a few days, the results are still better than doing nothing. This kind of practice can be as simple as a 10 minute walk around your work building at lunchtime!
  • Meditation for 10 minutes a day. It’s a great way to give yourself that calming, centering time. You’ll be surprised how this simple practice might change the way you feel the rest of the day! Not to mention, it helps when you are going through a difficult situation – deep breaths, right?

You might agree with the fact that daily routines are great, but perhaps have trouble keeping up. So how do you set yourself up for success when it comes to nurturing a daily routine?

  • First you have to set up the goal or activity you are wanting to accomplish. Keep it simple and realistically possible for a short period of time.
  • Then you have to simply make it easy for you to jump in and spend those 10 minutes of time when it comes along. Like having your sketchbook always ready and available. Or memorizing those exercises you want to do, so you can break them out anytime anywhere.
  • The point is to set yourself up for success and just keep moving forward day by day, chipping away at it.
  • Finally, don’t let a missed day trip you up. Think of every single day as a new start. Doing something sometimes, is better than nothing all the time.

Daily routines work for so many creatives and if you ask anyone who has achieved any kind of success, they will inevitably tell you it’s the slow and steady work of chipping away at the task.

If you need a bit of motivation, think of declaring your intentions in public or getting a partner or buddy who wants to do this routine with you. Accountability works and community motivates! Generally you can also keep your eye on the prize and visualize all that you will accomplish by the end of the year.

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I’ve embarked on the #100DayProject, posting my simple pencil sketches on Instagram daily. It’s a small creative exercise, but it’s about keeping my drawing muscles flexed and turns out to be a fountain for inspiration. A simple creative play exercise can turn into a full-fledged idea and project!

Are you ready for creative success?

How to Move Past a Disappointing Business Situation

LTieu-How-to-Move-Past-a-Disappointing-Business-SituationI believe that we all have great ideas and it’s exciting when passion for the idea drives us to take action and put ourselves out there. We all know it’s scary, but creatives do this kind of thing every single day. Unfortunately, not every launch or effort is accepted with open arms. Especially in the beginning of our creative businesses, crickets chirping might be a pretty common situation.

We’ve all experienced a disappointing situation in our creative careers – perhaps it’s something we have to get used especially when it comes to new and innovative ideas. But the question is how do we move past this common bump in the road?

I’ve tried many different creative experiments in the last 10 years of working online in one way or another. And yes, I certainly know the sting of disappointment. However, I’ve learned from experience that although it’s important to acknowledge my feelings at the moment, it’s essential for me to take a deep breath, step back and ultimately reframe my perspective – in order to move forward.

Too often, we get stuck on factors that we have no control over and it leads us to doubt our talents, our creativity and our efforts. Ultimately, that is the road to death for many great ideas… because more often than not, you just give up after the initial try.

I’ve learned that you need to concentrate on what you can control. Remember that it took Edison a 1,000 failed attempts before he invented the light bulb. He kept going. What would our lives be like today if he had just given up?

Are you getting no response to the artwork you put out there? Having trouble selling your goods at shows and markets? Results not as stellar as expected for your latest launch?

Acknowledge that there is a problem to face. Yes, you are disappointed, so there’s room to grow, right? Now let’s step back and concentrate on what can be done to alter the results.

Give it time

As amazing and viral as the internet might be, everything takes time. Beginners often think that success can be overnight and don’t realize that there’s usually a long history of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes. Ask yourself if you have given your project adequate time to grow?

Get more eyes

It’s easy to think that all eyes are on us whenever we put ourselves out there. Those feelings of vulnerability are on high, especially when it comes to creative businesses and our personal talents. But the reality is that no one is really looking or paying attention most of the time. We are all so busy with our own lives, don’t think that posting something online means that everyone in the world has seen it. This is why marketing is so important. If no one sees your amazing idea, how can they ever appreciate it? Ask yourself if perhaps you just need to work on getting more eyes on your project.

Edit, alter, curate

When you do have an audience, listen to them and remember that there’s always room for improvement. Nothing is perfect and revisions are inevitable. In fact, they only make the end product better over time. Make a list and start working on it. How can you make your product or service even better?

The lesson here is to realize that there’s always something you can do to move forward and past disappointments. You DO have control to change the situation and improve your results. Just change your perspective and work your way towards success. It might be a bumpy path, but you can and will move steadily along if you keep at it. So get to it!

The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.
– Thomas Watson Sr.

Artwork Copyrights Demystified

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At some point in every artist’s journey, you start wondering about protecting your artwork from copycats and dive into the world of copyrights. Unfortunately, it’s a huge black hole of a topic with lots of misconceptions and confusion. Not to mention the laws are changing with the times and when it comes to the digital world, everything is still in flux, it seems.

You might know or assume that all artwork is automatically copyrighted at the moment of its completion. It is true and you don’t have to formally register to be able to slap on a watermark copyright symbol. But The caveat is that if the work is infringed upon, without formal registration before the infringement you aren’t entitled to certain fees and you have to prove all sorts of things – often attorneys won’t even accept cases because the chances are so low that you would get anything out of it. There are lots of details to consider, but the point is that without formal copyright registrations you are making it easy for bad people to steal and take advantage of your work.

Obviously, certain types of work are more likely to be targeted than others depending on your style and craft. I just think it’s important to understand at least the basics and make an informed decision on how you want to deal with copyrights in regards to your body of creative work.

I just listened to the U.S. Copyright Office Art Licensing Ask Call led by Tara Reed and it really helped to clarify many of the misconceptions regarding copyrighting artwork. A definite must listen for all artists in my book, but especially if you are a visual artist looking to put your work out into the world.

Although we cannot all become experts on this topic, I think it’s important to include copyright registration in your creative workflow, to make sure you have covered your bases. As always, having things planned out ahead of time will save you time, money and lots of headaches.

Finally, you can refer to the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices that is mentioned in the call. There’s so much information in there, just takes a bit of time to read through and ultimately you should use it as a reference for whatever questions you might have.

Hopefully, these resources will help you get a bit clarity regarding copyrighting your artwork. Do you copyright your artwork regularly?

How to Get Started in Art Licensing

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Have you been wondering if art licensing might be a great addition to your streams of income as a creative? I think it’s easy to assume a lot of things when you see people’s artwork on actual products in a store. You might think you need major connections to get that kind of deal. Or you might assume they are making loads on royalties, when in fact the money timeline in art licensing is drastically different from direct sales and commissions.

To get started in licensing I think it’s really important to learn the basics and figure out if you really want to delve into the industry. It’s not a quick and easy process, no matter how much artwork you might already have in your library. I believe you really have to be in it for the long haul and consider it as only a part of your income pie – at least in the beginning.

What is Art Licensing?
The basic definition is that you as an artist will let manufacturers use your art on specific products in exchange for a percentage of the sales. Obviously, it gets more complicated because the terms of the license includes a lot more details and it’s really important to understand exactly what you are signing off on. The enticing aspect of licensing art is that you still own your artwork rights – it’s not like selling an original piece. This means you can license to multiple manufacturers and really leverage your artwork.

Is Art Licensing For You?
Now, I’m sure you are interested because the idea of art licensing always sounds tempting and lucrative. However, you really need to figure out if art licensing is the industry for you and how much income you can truly make to factor it into your business plan. As I’ve already mentioned, the payment timeline is long! Royalties are usually paid per quarter and it takes a long time to get product designed, manufactured and into stores for sale. So it’s not the type of business that will boost your income immediately. Again, you have to be in it for the long haul. Also, you have to understand that the business comes with it’s challenges, design changes, color changes, etc… you have to be okay with the whole process in the end. Does it make you happy to work in this manner? Is art licensing really for you?

Get Serious
Finally, if you do want to license your artwork then you have to get serious and go for it all the way. There are so many amazing artists out there, so I really don’t think there is a shortage of great artwork honestly. But like any kind of business, there are other aspects that make people want to work with you instead of the next guy or gal. Ultimately, it’s a professional business and relationship, so you need to treat it as such. There is a lot of competition and it takes time to build up your clientele.

If you do a bit of research, you’ll get a feel for if you want to investigate further or not in the realm of art licensing. If you do want to go for it, I would suggest a few resources that might help you out.

Art Licensing Show
I’m actively working on my journey in art licensing and slowly but surely, getting all my ducks in a row. One aspect is putting my artwork in a secure location for interested parties to review.

Art Directors and Buyers can review my private portfolio on ArtLicensingShow.com. The grand opening is today, so it felt appropriate to blog about this subject today – but it’s been in the works for a long time now. I signed up way back in May 2014! The website is a huge community of artists and it’s basically a digital tradeshow for those of us who can’t physically get to Surtex and other related professional events for art licensing.

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One of the cool things about joining the digital tradeshow, besides getting online portfolio space, is the community of artists and groups that you can connect with. It really helps to be able to ask people questions and bounce off ideas in that private arena.

Art Licensing Info
Another resource for those interested in learning more about art licensing is the Art Licensing Academy by Tara Reed. It’s a four-week group coaching program and I have already taken it, learning loads regarding how to set up my portfolio and approach manufacturers. If you are serious, she basically takes you from start to finish. It all begins June 3, 2015. You can learn more and save your spot here.

If you aren’t sure or looking to just learn a bit more before diving in, check out all the eBooks Tara has on artlicensinginfo.com. You can learn the basics and see if art licensing is for you before investing more of your time and money.

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I hope that I’ve shed some light on the subject of art licensing and the aspects you have to consider before jumping into it. As with any other business venture, it’s just one avenue for your creative success… but it’s not necessarily for everyone. But I do agree that it’s mega cool to see your artwork on products in the brick and mortar shops. Talk about a sense of satisfaction to see your work out in the world!

How to Stay Creatively Motivated and Productive

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Are you feeling drained or stuck in your creative endeavors?

If creativity is part of your job – as it is for me – it’s supremely important to keep the fire burning. The key is to figure out what drives your motivation and thus productivity on a day-to-day basis. It’s a lifestyle, right?

I believe it all boils down to body, mind and spirit. If you take care of yourself in those aspects, you’ll be feeding your creative soul properly to function every single day. It’s pretty simple and straightforward actually, but you need to make sure you put that knowledge to use.

My Creative Health Checklist
I’ve decided to use a creative health checklist that goes through the important body, mind and spirit checkpoints. When you feel a bit drained or stuck, run through this list and see if there isn’t something you need to address to get your mojo back. It’s as simple as that.

For the body:

  1. Get enough sleep and rest – let’s face it, you can’t function at your creative best if you are just too tired.
  2. Hydrate and eat well – have you had your ration of H2O for the day? Are you eating healthy and nourishing your body?
  3. Exercise – get your body moving, weather it’s long walks with your fur baby (my favorite option) or a solo dance party in your studio. Endorphins give you energy and suddenly you start feeling like doing more. Seriously, it works!

For the mind:

  1. Feed your brain – your creative juices need stimulating, so don’t neglect your creative tastebuds! Often we get a bit stagnant, just toiling away in front of the computer or going through our normal routines. Try a new activity or a new experience to spark up the fire within. You must intake stimuli to give your mind something to churn on.
  2. Stay positive – remember to be kind to yourself and no matter what happens, find that silver lining. The world is really a better place if you focus on the part of the glass that is half-full. Sometimes you’ll have to give yourself a cupcake treat after a bad day. Sometimes you’ll have to take deep breaths and chant some affirmations to get through a difficult experience. Even if nothing dramatic is going on, thinking positive and staying upbeat naturally transform into motivation. You might have a positive affirmation journaling practice, for example. Ultimately, positivity is just a more joyful way to live and create.

For the spirit:

  • Stay away from the negative – this sort of crosses from mind to spirit, but the idea is to protect yourself from leeches and naysayers. Negativity, party-poopers, people who steal your energy because they can’t stop complaining or creating drama – limit your contact. Sometimes you have to be there for your friends and family, but not to the extent that it brings you down as well. That won’t do anyone any good at all.
  • Nurture your soul – this is a definitely a personal ritual that you would develop for yourself. The idea is to ground yourself and connect with that bigger something out there. Maybe you practice a particular religion, maybe not. Maybe you simply like to take long walks in the woods and connect with nature. Maybe it’s your morning meditation or simply the morning coffee/tea time you spend in tranquility. Whatever it is, don’t forget to give yourself that kind of time.

If you make sure to run through this creative health checklist, I’m sure you’ll find yourself more balanced and creatively motivated on an ongoing basis. With energy and ideas, you’ll naturally be more productive. Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle!

What keeps your mojo flowing day-to-day?

Tips For Boosting Your Creative Blog Traffic

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So you have a lovely little creative blog, but you aren’t getting that much traffic? What’s missing you wonder. Where are your readers hiding, right? Oftentimes, just a little bit of effort can result in a huge boost to your readership. Here are some tips on how to get more eyes on your creative blog. The following are basic principles of blogging and sharing online. I think you should have these foundational pillars covered, before you move into other methods of marketing and promotion.

Great Blog Content
The only way to keep readers happy is to give them something interesting to consume. If you don’t have great blog content, people aren’t going to come. So think about what you want to share and write about! For creatives the idea is to find the intersection between what you want to share and what others would be interested in seeing.

Blogging Schedule
The commitment to blog regularly means you will have a stream of content for your readers. You can get more traffic if you don’t have new content, right? It can be once every two weeks or more often… whatever fits with your schedule. It’s best to commit to some kind of frequency to keep yourself in check!

Make It Easy to Subscribe/Follow
Not everyone is super tech saavy, so make it super easy for people to follow your blog. Whether it’s offering the RSS feed, an email subscribe, a blog lovin follow button – maybe all of those – make sure people can get your blog content easily. You can’t assume that a reader will just visit your URL every week by typing it in their browser address bar!

Tell People
Whether it’s word of mouth, link in your email signature or social media posts – maybe all of them – you have to tell people that you are blogging and putting up new posts. You certainly shouldn’t be self promoting and spamming about it… but at the same time, don’t hide away! Especially for creatives, we seem to find it extremely difficult to share all the cool stuff we are doing. Don’t be shy. Be sure to put it out there!

Engage and Networking
This is sort of related to above, because if you start telling people about your blogging endeavors, ultimately you are networking and socializing. Part of being engaged in your community is to comment on your peers posts and making it super easy for readers to comment on your blog as well. It’s about starting a dialogue, being authentic and getting involved. You can’t just be up on a pedestal announcing things and never stepping down to discuss and let others take the podium, you know?

If you are consistent, your blog traffic will definitely grow over time. Make sure you install analytics, so you can track your growth as well. The online world is big and small at the same time. I always say that slow and steady, wins the race.

There are many more advanced strategies that you can try out like search engine optimization, advertising, guest posting and promotions. But have you got all your bases covered, first?

Podcasts to Listen to While You Create

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When working on a project, I like to multi-task by listening to my favorite podcasts. It’s like having a group of friends around, chatting away while you create.

There are so many great podcasts out there, yet I’m always discovering new shows to add to my list. I’m always up for trying something new to see if it fits my interests.

No doubt that listening to podcasts helps me to move along in my productivity while working – not to mention sort of mark the time that passes by – when an episode is done it means a chunk of time has counted down!

Here’s a list of my favorite podcasts at the moment:

The Paperclipping Roundtable – Since I’m a scrapbooker, I’ve listened to this podcast since the beginning and just love following all the memory keeping chats.

Elise Gets Crafty – Overall creative business chats that are easy to digest and follow.

While She Naps – A recent add to my list and just love the candid conversations from designers and makers, sharing their POV and favorites lists.

What’s Your Story – Artists, makers and creative individuals tell their story!

Unmistakable Creative – Conversations with creative entrepreneurs, definitely business spin here…

Socia Media Marketing – A new addition so I can learn more about how to market on social media for my creative business.

Oh So Pinteresting – Another new addition to really focus on learning how to leverage Pinterest as a creative business owner.

So there you go, grab a tea, your latest project and listen to a lovely podcast to get working. Feel free to leave your podcast recommendations as well. I’m always open to great audio!