April 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Ask Jenny: I would love to start a blog and you seem to be a huge advocate for doing so. I’m just afraid that I’ll run out of ideas or get bored of it and quit.
I struggle with the same fears all the time. It can be super scary to think about writing every day, something new and fresh, for the next year. I’ve got five tips that will help it seem much less daunting. And, trust me, the reward of writing posts is much higher than not writing at all!
1. Take it one day at a time: It’s as simple as that. You just focus on what’s right in front of you and trust your inner creativity to bubble forth when you need it. I get floods of post ideas some days and none on others. And that’s okay.
2. Keep a running list: I keep a running list on my phone of title ideas with a blurb of what the blog is about. This way, I always have something to look back on when I’m feeling über uncreative, but need something for Monday. The funny thing is, my running list hardly ever gets used and when I do look at it, it spurs on even more ideas to add to it.
3. Write in advance: Squash the fear of not having an idea for a post by always being ahead of yourself. Schedule posts however far in advance that you feel comfortable with. If you write an extra long post, break it into two. If you have an idea that you love and want to use the next day, re-schedule the already scheduled post.
4. Look into the past: My favorite post-inspiring technique is reading my old blogs. There’s just something magical about reading what I wrote beforehand that inspires me. Of course, reviewing your most popular hits and building off that and linking back to it is even better.
5. And if all else fails: Start small. If you’ve already started, back up. Take a break. A breather. Relax. Get rejuvenated. Start posting material that makes you feel alive and refreshed. Throw in other fun stuff besides your usual. Post about recipes you love or places you’ve been to. Write reviews of restaurants, movies, or books. Write poetry. Post once or twice a week.
No one ever said this has to be a job. It’s for you to express yourself, share with others, build community, and enjoy. That’s simply it: Enjoy.
Photo: Are you spinning out of control over your blog? Change your perspective and make it fun! (Edric and me on the Tea Cups)
January 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
After a year of continuous blogging, I’m pretty excited to announce my annual report. So much has occurred in 2011, that it made for a good year. It’s you, my readers, that make it glorious. And 2012 is only going to be better.
Check out the annual report to see the top referring sites, hottest posts, and more!
Thank you to all my subscribers and those who comment often. You make it all worth it. Here’s to a great 2012!
July 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s a command. Not a request. Albeit cheeky. Get yourself out there and market thyself. It says on my updated FAQ page that the first thing you should do is start a blog and I stand by that. If you’re a creative mind and you want to begin the journey of sharing your creativity with others, you have to be bold enough to tell people that you exist. Without any expectation of controlling where you are going, what it will look like, or what the outcome might be.
As my “about me” page states, I started this blog in October 2010 with the intention of allowing you to follow me on my ‘recording music’ journey. Obviously that didn’t happen (yet). And at that moment I became okay with that and the unknown of where writing was going to lead me.
I find blogging so therapeutic and beneficial and vulnerable that it actually brings me accountability to do some serious thinking thrice times a week. Over the past month, that thinking has taken me to a place of deciding where my blog is going. When I’m telling you to market thyself I’m really speaking to the choir. And this is where you come in.
I would love for you to put some serious thought into where you’re at, right now, and what your marketing slogan might be that being the case. I’ve asked a small focus group what they believe my one-liner would be (as you can see, I’ve changed mine from Jazz. Folk. Rock.). Here’s what we’ve come up with:
• Brazen writings for your creative inspiration.
• A cheeky creative.
• Nurturing cocksure for your creativity.
Comment below and put in your two cents on the above three choices. This blog is about developing a conscious creative sense in the every day by broadening your perspective of both your own creativity and your viewpoint of those around you. If you’ve felt encouraged in the past 9 months by my words at all, please leave a post.
To get to the point of deciding who I was, where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to be marketed, I had to decide not only how I wanted to come across but also ask others what that looked like in reality. For instance, I had never thought of descriptors for myself that included “amazing,” “loving,” or “nurturing.” Yet if that’s what you, my readers and good friends, are feeling, I believe you 100%. It’s what my focus group added to my take, which included brazen, cheeky, cocksure, and brash. Now it’s your turn.
So treat this like a mini project in self-discovery:
1) Start a stream of consciousness and get ideas flowing of who you think your creative persona exemplifies.
2) Take those ideas and put them into sentences or slogans, perhaps 7-10 total. Think on um for a day or two.
3) Message or email a handful of friends (about 8 that you trust and know have businesses or are creative minds) and wait for their loving responses.
The last one is probably the hardest for some. Letting people in and giving them a say is probably one of the most vulnerable things you can do. It’s key to pick individuals that you know have your best interest in mind. As always, I hope you feel you can include me in that lot. I’m more than happy to give caring advice. Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and get those creative ideas flowing. It’s never to early to think: Market Thyself…what does that look like?
April 4, 2011 § 1 Comment
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the past six months that’s vital to improving every area of your life (as cheesy as it sounds) it’s blogging! Ever since I started consistently blogging back in October 2010–I had a short few months stint in 2007–I’ve noticed that it feels like everyone is blogging. It’s like when you buy a new Lime Green Bug. And then get on the freeway with your love Bug and you notice that *everyone* is driving one.
What you must realize though is that unlike your new car, which are made by the thousands in Germany, there is only one driver. There’s only one YOU! Oh, I just get cheesier. Seriously yo, there are a handful of amazing and phenomenal reasons why you–the creative you–needs a blog. Let’s touch on a few of um for kicks.
Reason #5: FREE YOURSELF
If you’re feeling bombarded by the idea of starting a blog (what it is, how to do it, what to write), know this: there are no hard, fast rules. I can give you a few tips though. First, pick a site to start your blog on (like wordpress, blogger, or tumblr). Second, pick a name. Keep that name consistent with your branding. In my case, my website is my blog. My Facebook and Twitter accounts also use “Jenny L’voe”. Third, brainstorm topics and pick 2 to four days a week on which you will write. Stick to it! Fourthly, read other blogs and sign up for RSS feeds. Other creative blogs beget more creative blog ideas. Naturally. And fifth, keep reading!!!
Reason #4: CREATE YOURSELF
Almost every creative you meet will tell you that in some way, writing is an essential part of the creating process. Whether it’s jotting down ideas. Journaling your dreams. Or typing out a business trend. Writing allows you to see your thoughts in a whole new way. Just like writing, blogging is sharing those thoughts with the community around you. A community that you’ve built (hopefully) online and offline. Especially when you start out, don’t be too hard on yourself about your topic of choice, writing style, length of your blogposts, etc. The more you write, the better you’ll become. And it’ll be fun to see your progress. And, hey, if you don’t start now, in six months, you’ll just have not started.
Reason #3: TEACH YOURSELF
If you’d like an excuse to learn more and apply what you know in a way that is interesting and approachable, blogging is definitely for you. I keep a running list of things that I’d like to write about in the notes of my phone. Sometimes these ideas require that I do a bit of research online. Other times I have to wait until the ah-ha moment reveals itself. While still, I just have to allow life to happen and teach me as it wills. Whatever the case, I’m constantly in a learner state, desiring to reap the benefit of different perspectives around me. One of my favorite things to do once I’ve gained that knowledge is share it with others. Offering your viewpoint in your blog not only allows others to get to know you, but it says something about you: I love to teach. I love to share. Nothing that my creative self learns is too good to not spread around. (Plus, hoarding all of your secrets and information will make you a bit of a bore!)
Reason #2: SELL YOURSELF
In the recent months, I’ve really noticed a trend in myself: I buy where I like. I buy from sellers that I get. I appreciate. And that open up to me on a genuine level. I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I don’t frequent big chain stores like Target as much anymore. This is where they’re lacking. I only have a limited amount of money to spend, so I want it to be worth it and benefit someone or something else I believe in. From the consumer perspective I’ve been able to apply this to my business. AKA ME! When I go to other creatives websites or etsy pages, I’m more than likely to buy off of who I “get”. That’s all it really comes down to. If I’m looking for a graphic designer and two guys with equally stunning portfolios, I’m going to pick the guy with the sense of humor that shows more of himself on his site. The one who has a blog and posts quirky findings as well as his latest work on tumblr. Because life is more than just work. I’m passionate about this reason because I know that it’s true. Every bit of marketing major companies try to sell us is to get our emotions attached. Why not do it for your own freelance work in an authentic way?
Reason #1: LOVE YOURSELF
The more you that you let shine through on your blog, the more you let people in. The more you let us, the readers, in, the more we’re going to keep coming back, keep reading up on you, keep loving the idea of investing in you. And someone worth investing in is someone worth buying from. More sales mean more possibilities of loving yourself from the most basic to the more extravagant means. A blog is like an investment. The more you put into it, the more you have the possibility of getting out of it. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more loving you can do for your clients/customers and beyond. There’s nothing more loving you can do for yourself.
It’s never too early or too late to start a blog. If you haven’t even started studying for your desired creative venture, we’d love to hear your journey. If you’re well on your way, we’d love to hear more about you. If you’ve got a creative thing going and this blog has encouraged you, please feel free to post a comment and include your blog. We’d love to check it out. And I’d love to sign up for your RSS feed.
March 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
If you’ve read Part I, you know that having an online presence is absolutely imperative as a freelancer. Whether you’re searching for full-time jobs in at a brick-and-mortar company or most of your work is done in the virtual realm, you must have a blog, website, flickr account, or the like to show off your work. Most positions won’t even accept your application, resume, and cover letter without a URL (your online address that starts with http://). The following will help you get started in the right direction.
A blog can be very beneficial to you if you just want a place to store your work for free. Especially if you’re a writer, you can gain more credibility by having a blog and by posting your written work on it. You can post music and graphics to your blog as well, so if your creativity has anything to do with music, graphics, or photography, you’re in luck. You can even create video (vlogs, instead of blogs) and slide show feeds that can be easily viewed.
Blogger.com and wordpress.com are the most popular and accepted blogging sites. Tumblr is a newer blog site on the scene that is breaking in the artistic realm for it’s snazzy design and easy-to-use-ability. There are also blog spots that are geared towards more industry specific areas. Blogs can also improve your search-ability on sites like Google and Yahoo!, which can increase your client traffic. So even if you have a website, it’s a great idea to put your “thoughts” on a blog…putting your most recent discoveries and projects is also a great way to gain expertise points in your field. Connecting that blog to your website then streamlines your online presence.
Whether you’re just a DBA (doing business as) or you’re a full-fledged LLC, having a website is a great way to get more clients. First, you have to purchase your chosen web domain name online. The most inexpensive sites to date are godaddy.com (which is PC & Mac compatible) and 1and1.com (which is only PC compatible). They cost about $6.99 per year for a domain name more or less, depending on the extension you choose (.com, .biz, .org, .info, etc.). They also have website builder’s online, which you can place music, video, photo’s, slide shows, and much more on. There’s usually a yearly or monthly fee for web hosting (placing your actual website online) no matter what website builder you choose to use and whether or not you build it yourself or have someone else build it for you. Here’s the solution I’ve come up with:
I currently use WordPress for both my website and my blog, since I don’t have much use for a full-fledged website yet. Although I purchased my domain through godaddy.com, I changed my blog address path (jennylvoe.wordpress.com) to my domain (jennylvoe.com) for $9.95/year. I think it sounds more professional than using the WordPress address. Plus, when I’m ready for a site, I can hire a web designer to create what I want using CSS (a script that can be read by WordPress) and I’ll be able to edit it when I need to without needing a web designer on a consistent basis to make on-going little changes (ie post new blogs, upload new songs, add newer content). It might cost more upfront for the site design (say $3000 or so), but it’ll be easier to edit myself through WordPress.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to have a website available. Even if it doesn’t have a Flash introduction, that’s okay. What you need is the online presence. Keep it simple and up-to-date (no nineties templates, please!) and it will get the job done. You’ll have more clients and a greater flow of traffic if you can give them an address starting with http:// and not just a card with your e-mail and phone number. You can also create a flickr, shutterfly, or tumblr account for website examples or templates, graphics, logos, adverts, photos, videos and much more. Sites like these can enable your customers to view your work easily and even create a host of other items on one website (that you will get paid for).
If you missed it, you must be online. You must be searchable. You must have an online presence. If your clients can type in your name after you’ve given them your business card or they’ve received an e-mail from you and your website is the top hit, your credibility will go up insurmountably. And I can guarantee that your project list will go up insurmountably as well. And increased projects=increase creativity.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)
February 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s your creativity. It’s unique. It’s 100% you. And there’s a whole list of clients out there that are looking for exactly what you have. What you do. And what you can create for them. Whatever type of creative medium you use, you have your own unique style. I’ve heard business clients say often, “I love working with so-and-so because she just gets it when I tell her what I need.” I’ve also heard, “I have a hard time getting my ideas across to him. It’s like we don’t communicate on the same level. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t understand what’s in my head.” And that’s just it: we’re interpreters. Some people are harder than others to interpret. On the other hand, some of your clients might not know what they want.
If you’re just advertising your creativity and your clients never get to see your work before you start on it, you might waste a lot of your time creating mock ups before you “discover” what they want. If you guarantee your work, this may end up costing you more than you would like it to. Whether or not your client knows it at this moment, they do have preferences. In music. Art. And madness. It’s in your best interest to show off your work through your portfolio both online and off to the best of your ability to gain a larger market or at least find that sweet niche that really digs you. Although an online database version and emailable format is essential.
Some clients will often ask you to send them via snail mail your portfolio. Others will as you to meet with them to show them your work personally. Recordings, portfolios, and pieces of your work are great to have on hand. Sending them to clients though can mean more overhead than you need to be spending on. And often clients will not send your portfolio back to you, so you’ve lost profits and your work. Having your work online can get potential clients your work quickly and efficiently. Plus, you’re in more control of how much you and your finances you put into it. You do have a few options of which routes to choose from.
Most freelance databases won’t allow you to even apply for positions unless you have a URL. If you’re applying for a full-time position or a long-term contract, you will most likely have to have your work online so they can view it immediately without having to download it to their computer. Could you imagine if your client had to download the work of every single creative mind that they wanted to view? It would take up much more space than is necessary…none! All you have to do is set-up a blog, website, facebook, twitter, myspace (good for musicians) or flickr account, which will be covered in Part II.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)