It’s A Creative Business: Eight Steps to Better Profitability

This week, Katie Turner discusses how to put—and keep—your creative business “in the black.”


 

Turning your creative business into a profit-making enterprise can be a great challenge. The balance between time spent creating and time spent developing your business is definitely something you’ll be challenged with, but once you get this balance under control, you’ll start to see results.

 

Here are eight tips that will help put your creative business in the black:

 

STEP 1: Have a strong, consistent body of works. In other words, display your best paintings and leave the rest home. Not that perfection is the goal, but present a product that you’re really proud of and can stand behind. Ask yourself if you’re presenting a cohesive body of works. Can customers get a sense of you as an artist? When people feel like they understand you and your style, they’re more likely to buy.

 

STEP 2: Optimize for individual buyers. This is where knowing your customer can really help. Many artists have a variety of sizes and prices, and sell more than just originals. Some artists sell prints, giclees, magnets, bookmarks, posters, scarves, and more. Giving customers options is good for business.

 

STEP 3: Create daily. Post daily. If you’re creating regularly, you have new work to post regularly. Using social media to promote your product gives potential customers an excuse to visit your shop. (It’s probably not a good idea to post a lot of items at once, though; that overwhelms people.)

 

STEP 4: Add the tags. When using social media, be sure to use relevant tags and descriptions. What is the sense of having beautiful artwork that nobody can locate? When tagging or writing descriptions, think about what a customer might search for when looking for something like your product. (For example, several descriptive words have been added to the painting listing below.)

 

 

A cautionary note: Don’t do “keyword stuffing.” This is where people tag everything just to get a lot of short-term views on their product. Google bots recognize this and penalize you by keeping you out of search results. A potential customer could find your product and see no relationship between what you’ve tagged and what the actual content of your artwork is, and it leaves a bad taste. Don’t give the customer a reason to avoid you.

 

STEP 5: Share your products. Don’t be afraid to put your products out there on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, etc. By letting your network know you have great new products, you’re keeping them interested. If you’re concerned about theft, limit your images to smaller sizes and use a copyright symbol with your name embedded in the image. Tutorials are available online to help with embedding copyrights.

 

STEP 6: Give ‘em what they want. If you’re getting a lot of orders or “likes” on a specific style item, why not keep your customers happy with more similar products? On a side note, remember to put out products that are relevant to the season—for example: back-to-school, college gear, Christmas or holiday times. Work 4-8 weeks in advance in order to give customers time to pick up your product and then have time to deliver it before the holiday.

 

STEP 7: Have Marketing Materials. This probably goes without saying, but make sure you always have a business card on you. You never know when you will meet a new customer. Hand out postcards of your work and include your website on the back.

 

STEP 8: Plan your goals. It’s so easy for a creative individual to get distracted. Having a written business plan and daily goals can really help. Setting goals is also a great way to control your time (artistically and otherwise) and you’ll find you won’t waste as much time or money aimlessly.

 

Making a living off your art can be a challenging job. You’ll end up spending a lot of time hustling the business side of it, but it’s all worth it when you realize you’re doing what you love.

 


Katie Turner is a watercolor artist in the Central New York Branch NLAPW.  Working in watercolor since the ‘90s, Turner began experimenting with different substrates in the last few years. “I like the potential and challenge of slick paper,” Turner explains. Turner spent many years in the graphic arts field, writing craft articles, publishing ‘zines and working with various media, but she never strays far from watercolor. Visit her website at http://www.ktartstudio.com/.

Screenshots provided by K. Turner.

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed.  We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

LAST CALL FOR CREATIVE WISDOM (Art Submissions Now Welcome, Too!)

All good things must come to an end, and our Creative blogging series is no exception to that rule. We presently have 68 pages in the Creative Genius at Work: The Inspirational Wisdom of Pen Women book manuscript, but we can add more! Pen Women who wish to be part of this blog-to-book project should submit work for consideration before the preliminary deadline date of August 31st, 2017.

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom posts focus on all aspects of the creative process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. Possible topics include:

  • From where or what do you draw inspiration?
  • How do you generate ideas for your work?
  • What is your creative workspace like?
  • How do you tackle “blocks”?
  • What steps do you take when revising your work?
  • What other helpful tips can you share with your fellow creatives?

 

It’s a Creative Business shares advice about making your passion your livelihood. Possible topics include:

  • What do you wish someone had told you before you started out as a creative professional?
  • Where did you learn how to run your business?
  • How do you make the perfect pitch to magazines, galleries, etc.?
  • What business practices lead to success?
  • How do you market yourself and your work?
  • What other practical advice can you offer about taxes, licensing, insurance, and so forth?

 

Submit today and share your discoveries, insights, and professional expertise with your fellow Pen Women! Posts should be 150 – 500 words on average, although longer pieces will be considered. New posts are preferred; reposts from your creative blog also will be considered. Additionally, we now invite Pen Women to submit artistic works that fit the theme of this series. Accepted pieces would appear both on the blog and in the book manuscript.

 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS:

  • You must be a current NLAPW member and the original creator of your submission
  • If you’re submitting a post, please write a cover letter in your submission email that indicates whether your submission qualifies as inspiration or business. (If your submission is a repost, include the original link and permission to reprint in your cover letter.) Attach your .DOCX or .PDF file to the email, or copy/paste the text into the body of the email below your cover letter
  • If you’re submitting artwork, please write a cover letter in your submission email that includes a statement as to how your work fits the theme of the series. Attach your work to the email as a .JPG or .GIF file, or place the image inside the body of the email below the cover letter
  • Send all series submissions to penwomenpress@nlapw.org with “CREATIVE SERIES SUBMISSION.” We look forward to reading/seeing your work by August 31st!

 

It’s A Creative Business: Expressive Writing—A Foundation for Business Success

This week, Ronni Miller discusses the merits of expressive writing as a business tool.


 

You don’t have to be a writer to express yourself through the medium of expressive writing.

 

I began writing in childhood. It was a way for me, a shy child, to express my views, insights, upsets and imagined thoughts. It was a way to vent.  As a child, I had no idea about these grownup words like vent or even express thoughts. It was just a way for me to get my voice out of my head and down on paper. It made me feel happy to release it.

 

In 1999, I discovered that what I had been doing all my life had a name.  It is called expressive writing.  I first read about the term and its value in medicine when reading the research work of James W. Pennebaker, PhD.  His research proved that writing about trauma reduced the effects of illnesses.  Pennebaker and other scientific researchers in the field have documented the success of writing about trauma as it relates to wellness and reduces anxiety.  I began to incorporate that concept into Write It Out ®, a program I created and taught to children and adults that began seven years earlier as a motivational program. For the last eighteen years it has segued into the health care field, where I facilitate expressive writing workshops at cancer centers and hospitals as well as in universities and education centers. It has become an important arm of my business, Write It Out.

 

How then can expressive writing, which I define as any writing in any genre that includes journal writing, poetry, prose and theater pieces, be a tool for creative artists in business?

 

It:

 

  • clears the cobwebs
  • restarts the engine
  • reduces anxiety
  • taps into feelings, memories and experiences
  • boosts health and well being
  • recharges self-confidence and self-esteem
  • fosters courage in the face of naysayers
  • provides a venting outlet
  • supports the vision

 

Most artists work alone, and the business side of creativity is often daunting.  Many prefer to just create and have someone else, a magic genie, take over the business of selling, marketing and finances.  All too often the artist, marketer, seller and financial person need to be all-in-one. This can cause stress and conflict.

 

Recently I spoke to an artist and illustrator who told me that, due to a letter she wrote to a client expressing enjoyment of painting a picture of the woman’s grandchildren and inviting her to the studio to see more of her work, she was commissioned to do six paintings of characters from The Wizard of Oz. “This client is now a major collector of my work,” said Karizu-Becher.

 

Another fine artist described how recording a dream in her journal led to an oil painting that won first prize in a juried show.

 

Take a few minutes to express your feelings and thoughts in writing or to record your dreams. You may find yourself just documenting or you may discover the pleasure of creating a poem or prose piece based on angst and thoughts. In either case, you will have used a simple method to release anxiety and help your business succeed.

 


Ronni Miller, award winning fiction writer, author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, produced playwright, published essayist is the Founder and Director of Write It Out® a motivational and expressive writing program for individuals of all ages since 1992. She facilitates workshops in the US, Italy and Bermuda and has a private practice as Book Midwife. A NLAPW member since 2008, she serves as board member of her Sarasota, FL Branch and 4th Vice President of NLAPW. 

 

“Spiral Notebook with Pen” image by adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

 

It’s A Creative Business: To Freelance or Not to Freelance? ‘Tis Not an Easy Answer…

This week, Rodika Tollefson weighs the pros and cons of a freelancing career.


 

Ahh, the freelance life. Have you been dreaming of being your own boss, working in your pajamas, and playing hooky whenever the muse abandons you?

 

There’s certain romanticism about “working for yourself.” Turning every day into casual Friday (PJs or otherwise), picking and choosing your projects, and making your own schedule sounds appealing, indeed—and that sweet 30-second commute to the office can’t be beat.

 

But the freelance life has just as many drawbacks as advantages. If you’re thinking about making the leap, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

 

When I started the freelance life more than 15 years ago, I wanted flexibility while the kids were young. Little did I know about the “feast or famine” that’s inherent with self-employment, or the other costs of “flexibility.”

 

I’ve dabbled a few times since then with the idea of getting a “real” (i.e. full-time) job but despite the potential perks—paid vacation and sick leave, medical insurance, stable paycheck, and consistent hours—I hope I never have go back to “punching the clock.” Once you’ve been self-employed for a while, it’s tough to go back!

 

If freelancing full-time is on your mind, let’s talk about some pros and cons:

 

Being your own boss: Don’t like having a boss? Try having a dozen! Although customers can’t tell you how, when, and what to do, you are accountable to every single one of them through your deliverables. They don’t always listen to your expertise either—but, as the cliché goes, the customer’s always right.

 

To add to the pressure, clients often have competing priorities and deadlines. It’s up to you to meet them all.

 

On the other hand, being your own boss means you’re in charge of your own opportunities. If you have the self-drive and motivation to succeed, this is a wonderful thing.

 

Setting your own schedule: So long, vacation requests at the mercy of the HR manager! You can take time off whenever you please.

 

That is, until several requests pour in at the same time—which, says Murphy’s Law, happens more often than you may like, especially when you’re in the middle of packing for that extended weekend.

 

The beauty of working your own schedule is that nobody cares if you work in the wee hours of morning or late at night (well, maybe your family does). You can work from the beach and even from the other side of the country or world (I did that several times, and no one was the wiser).

 

Choosing your projects: You can turn down a potential client or project any time you want. But in reality, you’re not likely to do that regularly unless you’re so renowned in your field that you can command top dollar or earn a good living with just a few gigs here and there.

 

Remember that “feast or famine” nobody warned me about? After 15 years of doing this, it’s still not uncommon.

 

Take last month, for example. I was enjoying the slower pace the first week, even thinking I’d finally have time to do some creative writing, which doesn’t pay the bills like my commercial work does. And then, the floodgates opened and I spent the next three weeks camped in my home office, working 60 or more hours a week.

 

I could have turned down some of the projects, but they were all wonderful, new opportunities that could become long-term, well-paying projects. So I marched on. Besides, nobody’s paying for my time off—so making “extra” is a good way to finance that dream vacation.

 

Running your business: Whether you’re a freelance writer like me or an artist, musician, or any other type of creative, working for yourself means you’re running a bona fide business.

 

On the positive side, that means you can deduct business expenses like furniture for your home office and mileage. On the other hand, you have to pay oodles of taxes, as well as cover all your expenses, from equipment and professional development to marketing.

 

Without a regular paycheck, you have to plan your cash flow carefully. Even if you think you’re well prepared for the ebb and flow, all it takes to feel unstable is a longtime client pulling the plug.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I got a phone call or email informing me that a project I’ve done for years was moved “in-house” or defunded, or an ongoing monthly project was canceled without any notice—sometimes more than one project in the same month.

 

Freelancing doesn’t just take a certain kind of free spirit and self-motivation. To succeed, you need to be resilient, dogged, and thick-skinned. If you need stability, this is not the path for you.

 

But if you can handle some rough seas, bon voyage! You’ll be the captain of your own ship (as well as the first mate and deckhand), and where your great new adventure takes you is completely up to you.

 

 


Rodika Tollefson is a member-at-large who has a master’s degree in digital media, which included coursework in digital media law. She’s a seasoned journalist who now provides digital media content and strategy, and is currently the editor of The Pen Woman and the National Public Relations Committee Chair.

“Memo Book” by winnond/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

It’s a Creative Business: How to Use Copyright-free Images and Sound Without Getting in Trouble

This week, Rodika Tollefson discusses the importance of copyright and creative responsibility.


 

If you create art for a living, you probably feel strongly about protecting your copyrights. After all, even if all that sweat and tears went into the work for the pleasure of it, you have bills to pay.

 

I am constantly surprised how many creatives don’t think twice when the tables are turned. They think it’s perfectly okay to copy a photo from a news or stock site, or an image from social media, and use it for their own website, brochure, etc.; use a song purchased from iTunes for a video promoting their art, event, etc.; or re-purpose someone else’s painting for their book’s cover.

 

Paying 99 cents for a song for your personal music library doesn’t mean you can legally use it as a soundtrack for that great video promo you’re making, and just because it’s easy to copy and paste an image from a website or someone shared a photo on Facebook doesn’t mean you can take it for your own use.

 

This also applies to images from historic archives, including the Library of Congress, because they often have a copyright holder. In these cases, all you may need is to ask permission. Get it in writing!

 

What’s a creative with a limited budget to do in all other cases? If you need free music or images, look either for works in the public domain, or for those that have a Creative Commons license. Many photographers, musicians and artists — even professionals — freely allow others to use their work, often only in exchange for attribution.

 

Some sources of free music:

 

Some sources of free images:

 

Read the license terms carefully because even a Creative Commons license may have restrictions and specific requirements on how to give the artist credit. Some don’t allow use for commercial purposes — and even if you’re not making any money from the product, your purpose may still be considered commercial. If you can’t give attribution to the artists, many of them will let you use their work for a small fee instead.

 

One final point: Don’t let by the term “royalty-free” mislead you. It doesn’t mean “free to take.” Chances are, you need to pay a licensing fee, which comes with certain terms, just like Creative Commons (it may restrict use to news purposes, may require author credit even if you’re paying for the image, and may disallow any editing).

 

And, of course, don’t forget the best resource of all: fellow Pen Women. You may have a composer or photographer in your own branch who would be happy to share her work with you.

 

(Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney and this column isn’t intended as legal advice on copyrights. Do your own research.)

 


Rodika Tollefson is a member-at-large who has a master’s degree in digital media, which included coursework in digital media law. She’s a seasoned journalist who now provides digital media content and strategy, and is currently the editor of The Pen Woman and the National Public Relations Committee Chair.

“Book with Pencil” by winnond/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

It’s a Creative Business: Business or Unconditional Love

This week, Ronni Miller reflects on her professional journey as a creative.


 

Business What did I know about business? I had been a stay-at-home mother, raising three children after graduation from Boston University with a liberal arts degree, and before that I was a sheltered daughter from a middle class Jewish family whose father was a lawyer and mother was an in-the-closet artist and writer.

 

Determination to achieve whatever it was you wanted had been the operative narrative around the dining room table in my home of origin.  All I ever wanted was to write, publish, marry and raise a family. Writing had been my mainstay, my plumb line since I was six years old.

 

Motherhood absorbed my energies, while creativity found a home in children’s plays I wrote for my children’s school and short stories that were stuffed in file folders. The feminist movement lit my fire, and I began to write articles and essays about the need for women to aspire to their creative potentials. A divorce propelled me into teaching English and theater in a private school, where I continued to hone my experiences by writing curriculum for my sixth and seven grade English courses. Trained in acting, I taught drama. That led to my initiation of a yearly consortium drama festival for six private schools in the area of northern New Jersey, which gave students an opportunity to showcase their talents.

 

I left teaching and landed jobs editing local newspapers and magazines, continued freelance writing and publishing in local and regional publications, and acquired rejections from national magazines that shook my confidence. All the while, I continued to raise my now high school-aged kids.

 

I worked as a temporary secretary while my children attended college, which helped supplement a freelance income so that I could finish my first novel. An epiphany happened after years of struggles to survive that led to my Write It Out® service product, now entering its twenty-fifth year. As founder and director, I facilitate workshops in the U.S., Bermuda, and Italy, guiding individuals to express feelings, memories, and experiences through writing. In my private practice as Book Midwife, I coach individuals to birth their books.

 

I’m thankful every day for that epiphany.  My students and clients have been my inspiration and motivate me to continue offering services. The Program has segued into the healthcare field; it’s used by people affected by cancer as well as those who have suffered loss and life-altering conditions, who want to document their stories in prose, poetry, and theater pieces. Seven published books remind me that joy of creating is a balm to my spirit.

 

Five suggestions to others:

 

  • Dedicate yourself and believe in your product or service.
  • Trust yourself to pursue a dream.
  • Rely on desire as your support system.
  • Listen and observe your efforts as an educational experience.
  • Incorporate your life experiences into a new profession.

 

I’ve translated the word business, still foreign to me, to mean service. That has made all the difference. You can call it business, service, profession or simply unconditional love. I call it being an entrepreneur.

 


 

Ronni Miller, award winning fiction writer, author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, produced playwright, published essayist is the Founder and Director of Write It Out® a motivational and expressive writing program for individuals of all ages since 1992. She facilitates workshops in the US, Italy and Bermuda and has a private practice as Book Midwife. A NLAPW member since 2008, she serves as board member of her Sarasota, FL Branch and 4th Vice President of our national society. 

 

“Female Writing on Notebook” image by adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

 

It’s a Creative Business: Make Sure You’re ‘Legit’

In this week’s guest blog post, The Pen Woman Editor Rodika Tollefson illuminates what creatives need to know about business.


 

If you’re one of those creatives who enjoys the business side of things, congratulations! You are part of a very small group of people who love accounting and marketing as much as they love creating their art.

 

For the rest of us, the business aspects of paid creative work are tedious—which means we put them off for as long as we can.

 

You may be able to procrastinate when it comes to posting your receipts or updating your website. But there are a few things you should not postpone, and that is to make sure that you are conducting business according to the applicable local, state, and federal laws.

 

As soon as you decide to sell your work, you are a self-employed owner of a business. Even if you’re a solopreneur—without an incorporated business—and you don’t have a business name, you’re still liable for licenses, permits, and taxes.

 

Here are a few things you need to know:

 

Business licenses: Requirements vary from state to state and, in some cases, you don’t need one until you meet a certain revenue threshold. Even if you don’t reach that number, a business license is a good idea for those planning to do public commissions, sell to the public, and so on.

In addition to the state, some local jurisdictions such as cities require business licenses. Some must be renewed every year.

 

Income taxes: The IRS may consider your business a hobby for the first few years if you don’t have net income, but your state may not.

In Washington state, where I live, the business and occupation tax is based on gross income, which means businesses have to pay taxes whether they actually net anything. There are very few deductions, and none of them apply to the typical writer or artist. Instead, the state has credits, on a sliding scale, for businesses that earn up to a certain amount.

 

Sales and personal property taxes: If you’re selling tangible items like art, you will likely be liable for sales taxes. That means you have to collect them from your customers, keep track, then remit them to your tax entity (typically the state).

 

In some states, sales tax is based not on where the sale originates, but on the shipping destination. Talk about an accounting nightmare if you’re selling and shipping to customers in other locations!

 

Some jurisdictions also tax businesses on their inventory and personal property like equipment. My county does this, though luckily the total of my equipment value is low enough to meet the exempt criteria.

 

Home business permits: Some local jurisdictions require a special permit for conducting business out of your home, especially if customers will be stopping by or the business will generate noise (a chainsaw-carving artist, perhaps?). Check with your city or county.

 

There may be other odds and ends for you to consider based on your own location. Penalties and back taxes are no fun, so make sure you do your research.

 

No one dreams of having to study tax code and business regulations in order to sell creative works—but if that’s what it takes to have the freedom and privilege of pursuing one’s passion, I’d trade a little accounting headache for punching a time clock in an office tour any day.

 

 


“Business Woman Writing Job” image by Feelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rodika Tollefson is a member at large who lives in the Seattle area and serves as the editor in chief of The Pen Woman and the national Public Relations Committee chair. An award-winning journalist as well as a writer, graphic designer and video producer, she’s owned her own communications business for 15 years.

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

 

It’s A Creative Business: So Your Book is Finally Published… Now What?

We’re grateful to Kathryn Kleekamp of Cape Cod Branch NLAPW for sharing her professional expertise about book promotion in this guest post.


 

Whether your book is published by a major publisher or self-published, your masterpiece will sit in its carton unless it’s actively promoted. Although my publisher (Schiffer) lists my book in its catalog and distributes it to Amazon and traditional book stores, I’ve found the tips I offer below essential to boost sales. Many authors and artists either shy away from or dislike marketing, but believe me, it will grow on you. As an author and artist, I’ve met many delightful people at signings and book talks. If a piece of art or book subject resonates with the viewer or reader, it makes for an instant connection between two strangers.

 

In my case, casual meetings with those who have purchased my work have led to some satisfying and long term relationships. At a marketing seminar I once attended, the very successful speaker said that most of one’s sales will come from repeat customers. For me, it’s been true. After purchasing a book or artwork for themselves, many have come back time and again to purchase gifts for others.

 

Here are some suggestions for ways to promote your book and increase sales:

 

  1. Visit local book stores, gift shops and museums to arrange signings. Establish yourself as a real person, not just a title. It makes a world of difference.
  2. Create a simple website and Facebook Page. You can offer useful tidbits from your book without openly proclaiming, “Please buy my book.” Post things that are insightful or helpful to the reader.
  3. Approach your local community television and radio stations to arrange an interview. Be prepared to give them a book beforehand. If they interview you, post the video on your website.
  4. Depending on the topic of your book, contact regional book clubs, women’s clubs, libraries, churches, retirement communities, Newcomers clubs, senior centers etc., to arrange a book talk. It’s important to assess your audience beforehand and narrow your comments to things they would be most interested in. Keep your presentation fresh for yourself as well as your listeners.
  5. Send a query letter or story idea to local newspapers and magazines to see if they will write a human-interest story about you and your book. News organizations are always looking for fresh material to print. It’s important to indicate why your story is of interest to their readers. What sets you and your book apart from all others?
  6. Do a little research to find out who local media book reviewers are.  Send them a copy of your book with a cover letter to see if they would be willing to write a review. As you accumulate reviews, even if they’re from a friend or colleague, print a list to display wherever you have a talk or show.
  7. Many communities have outdoor summer fairs or holiday bazaars. The cost to rent table space is small and usually there are large crowds.
  8. To make point of purchase sales, the Square app for your cell phone is a wonderful way to process credit card sales. There is no monthly fee and a very small processing fee.  Many purchases are impulsive; you don’t want to miss out on buyers who may not have cash.

 


Inspired by her life on Cape Cod, Kathryn Kleekamp’s oil paintings bring the unique beauty and charm of this special place alive for the viewer. Her work is in collections throughout the United States and abroad. The second edition of Kathryn’s book, Cape Cod and the Islands: Where Beauty and History Meet will be released in June of 2017. Visit her website at www.SandwichArt.com or her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Kathy.Kleekamp.CapeCod.Artist/.

 

It’s a Creative Business: Plan B and a Prayer

Our first guest blogger, Dorothy Atkins, discusses how she made her creative dreams a business reality:


 

While working my career job, I always had a Plan B and a prayer. Traveling 90 minutes everyday by train, I’d write down a plan of what I’d rather do in life. I made a chalkboard at home with notes, inspirational quotes, and ideas of what my life would look like doing the things I loved. As a project manager, I wrote a plan for myself on a large, lined tablet. I must have used a ton of them over the years. I still look at my first outline of what I wanted to accomplish and marvel at how many things in my plan I did.

 

I put a big round circle in the middle of the page and smaller circles all around it with arrows pointing to the big circle. The big circle was my end goal; the smaller circles all around it was what I needed to do. I set out to do things that I could immediately work on (e.g. Who was my target audience, what did I have that no one was offering, etc.). Even though I didn’t know when exactly my dreams would happen, I knew that I had to be ready for when it did. I wanted to make greeting cards and be a motivational speaker, encouraging women to follow their dreams. By writing down my dreams and wish list, along with my research and readiness, I put it out in the universe and asked for guidance.

 

First, I had to motivate myself:

 

I had conversations with my inner self, using words I had read somewhere: “Choose safe, gentle souls who are willing not to criticize you but to support you in your journey.” Let them be thrilled with you; listen and hear what they’re saying.  Do not dismiss their compliments or encouragement.

 

  • Ask yourself what makes you feel alive.
  • Avoid balloon poppers (people who do not wish you well).
  • Trust in your instincts!
  • Learn, learn, learn.
  • Know your audience!
  • Ask why others would want you or your product.
  • Be scared, but don’t let fear keep you from trying. Give fear a name, and take away its power.
  • Talk lovingly to yourself.

 

What I continue to practice is confidence in what I’m doing. I’m always tapping into my creative side. I realize that I love what I do, and this keeps me motivated. It’s important to challenge myself to learn new things. Exposure is a key element to my success as a speaker and artist, and although I work from home, I go to work every day and work with passion!

 


An artist, life coach and motivational speaker, Dorothy Atkins tells her stories in vivid colors that mimic her work. Many of her images are gleaned from a family of storytellers. Dorothy finds her voice in painting: “I love being deeply moved.” She uses a variety of media to express herself, including acrylic, oil and ink. “Color creates a specific vibration and is an elemental aspect of my work.” Dorothy is a member of Santa Clara County Branch in California. Visit her web site at dorothyatkinsartist.com and her blog at dorothypaints.blogspot.com.

 

Call for Guest Bloggers

Calling all creatives! We invite our fellow Pen Women to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and A Creative Business. Accepted pieces will first appear on our NLAPW blog and later in upcoming anthologies from Pen Woman Press.

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom posts will focus on all aspects of the creative process: brainstorming, drafting, revising and “publishing.” From where do you draw inspiration? What is your creative work space like? How do you tackle writer’s block or revise your work to make it even better? What are your “best practices” for creating? What helpful tips can you share with fellow creatives? Tell us what you’ve learned on your creative journey!

 

A Creative Business, on the other hand, will share observations and advice about making your passion your livelihood. What do you wish someone had told you before you started out as a creative professional? Where did you learn how to run your business? How do you make the perfect pitch to magazines, galleries, etc.? What business practices lead to success? How do you market yourself and your work? What practical advice can you offer about taxes, licensing, insurance, and so forth? Share your expertise with us!

 

Posts should be 150 – 500 words on average, although longer pieces will be considered. You must be the original author of your submission. Original posts are preferred; reposts from your creative blog will be considered with the original link and permission to reprint clearly stated in your submission email.

 

Please send a cover letter and your submission (as a .DOCX, .PDF, or copied/pasted into the body of the email below the text of your cover letter) to penwomenpress@nlapw.org. We look forward to reading you!