Managing Your Biz

  • 5 Creative Tips For The Uninspired (guest post by Melanie Sklarz)

    We’ve all been there at one time or another. We found ourselves just stuck. It may have seemed like everyone else had already come up with all of the good ideas, and we had nothing. Or we had been working so hard on our passion that once we finished it, we didn’t know where to go next.

    The best thing to do in a situation, like this when you feel stagnate, is to create movement, no matter how small, day every day. Movement increases the flow of energy around you and your ideas and before you know it, you’ll be inspired!

    I’ve created 5 simple tips to try when you’re feeling oh-so uninspired.

    1. Keep a passion log. Every day for at least the next week or so, carry around a small notebook everywhere you go. When something makes your heart race in excitement, jot it down. Did you recently start taking yoga or have you tried a new cupcake recipe? After a week, look back at what you’ve captured and see what patterns and insights emerge.

    2. Make inspiration cards. Buy a stack of plain note cards or colored ones if you want to get fancy. Anytime an idea or inspiration strikes you, write it on a card. You may want to collect quotes that excite you or pick up book and look for passages that strike you. At the end of each day, read through your cards. Do you notice a new direction you should be taking?

    3. Work on another project. If you are stuck in the middle of a project and lacking inspiration to finish, then you’re best idea might be to start another project. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but believe me it’s not. By working on something else, for example knitting a scarf, you may find the perfect solution to your first problem. Make it a habit to work on more than one project at a time to keep the wheels of inspiration turning.

    4. Take a field trip. It doesn’t have to be somewhere exotic. Try a new restaurant, visit a quirky museum, or go shopping at an ethnic food market. Leaving your comfort zone and normal surroundings, even for a short time, can induce new insights and a-ha’s. Just be sure to remember to bring along a journal on your jaunt so you can capture those ideas!

    5. Start a vision wall. Get a stack of old magazines, preferably all different kinds, and start looking through them in search of your perfect life. Just tear out images that feel right to you and ones that reinforce this idea. Next, take the images and arrange them on a large board or bulletin board, where you’ll see them every day. If you continue adding images, before you know it you’ll have a wall of inspiration.

    So don’t worry the next time you feel like all of your inspiration has dried up. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that most, if not, all of us have been there before. Remember that the situation is only temporary and that you might just need to take some time and try something new to allow new ideas to flourish.

    About The Author: Melanie Sklarz is a teacher, artist and blogger based in Cleveland, Ohio. She spent almost a decade developing and leading innovative programs for museums as a teacher and curator, most recently in Washington, DC. As an informative speaker, she has facilitated workshops for creative women entrepreneurs and led a parent workshop on raising creative kids.

    Melanie is also a mixed media artist specializing in collage. Her artwork has been exhibited at the FAVA Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio, the Dialogue Gallery in Buffalo, New York and The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, Virginia.

    She began her blog Dose of CREATIVITY in late 2006 writing on all things creative while sprinkling in inspired hints and tips to promote creativity as a lifestyle -one dose at a time.

    Finally, she earned a BA in Art History from Seton Hill University and a MA from the Ohio State University, where her research focused on women’s artistic production and activism. In 2005, she completed her creativity coach training with Eric Maisel, PhD, known as “America’s Foremost Creativity Coach.”

  • Biz Profile: Megan Green of Stinkybomb Soap

    What is your name? Megan Green

    What is your business? Stinkybomb Soap

    When did you start your business? Started tinkering around the summer of 2008, opened our Etsy shop, http://www.stinkybomb.etsy.com in September 2008

    Why did you decide to start your business & why did you choose the type of business you chose? I have always wanted to run my own business, it’s a very romanticized concept for me. Stinkybomb was something I truly stumbled onto. I started the concept to fill a silly, sarcastic curiosity. The feedback I received gave me the confidence to pursue it further.

    What is your favorite thing about being in business for yourself? Meeting other small business owners and crafters. I am inspired by some many brilliant and creative individuals around me. I also enjoy that my children can grow up knowing that you can define and create your own reality, as long as you pay your dues, work really hard and love what you do.

    What turned out to be harder than you thought? Staying home with two children while running the entire show.

    Looking back, what is one thing you know now, but wish you knew back then? That birth control isn’t 100% effective. That and that you have to let go of some control once and a while.

    Do you participate in any business groups (mentoring, networking, etc) ? I belong to the Columbus Crafty Cotillion, The Couchfire Collective and The Handmade Soap Makers Guild.

    As a business owner, it can be easy to work all the time – do you have any tips for balancing your business and your personal life? A friend once told me: “When you find yourself getting angry at the kids because you are trying to work. It’s time to walk away from your work” Sometimes easier said than done.

    What have been some of your best business successes? Sounds cheesy but customer feedback. I love it when people tell me how much someone enjoyed getting our soap for a present. Also, being able to donate a small percentage of our grenade sales to wounded soldiers.

    What are you planning to do with your business in the future? We intend to launch more state soaps over the next year. So look for all 50 states to show up soon. Soap making classes and private parties are something we are starting to tip our toes in and has me currently very excited.

    *************************************************

    Note from Crissy: I met Megan in 2009 when my friends from Handmade Detroit and I took a road trip to meet up with the crafty ladies of Columbus. She is effing hilarious and makes a very high quality product. I am telling you to go buy something from her. You won’t regret it!

  • Finding Inspiration by Tonya Staab (Guest Post)

    Finding inspiration.

    As a lifestyle blogger, I am surrounded by inspiration.

    Whether it is a nature walk with my children, flicking through magazines in the doctor’s office, cooking a meal, or reading other blogs, inspiration truly is all around me.

    One thing that I am truly passionate about is my children; in getting them away from the television, getting them outdoors, learning something new every day, having memorable experiences, and seeing the joy on their faces.   I encourage them to help in the kitchen, I photograph them jumping in mud puddles, I do craft projects with them, take them on nature walks, teach them new skills, and watch their faces light up as they pop bubbles, dig for buried treasure, and pick flowers.  I hear other parents asking for ideas on what to do when it’s snowing, or looking for ways to keep their children amused during spring break.   For this reason, I blog about the things I do with my children.  I hope that I can inspire others and share ideas with them.

    Here are some outside influences that I find to be the most inspiring:

    Magazines: Real Simple, Sunset, Artful Blogging

    Blogs: Katherine Marie Photography, Old Red Barn Co, A Fanciful Twist, Soule Mama, The Farm Chicks

    Looking for more inspiration?

    • Go on a hike and breathe in the fresh air
    • Load the kids into the car and just drive
    • Wake up early and watch the sun rise
    • Go to your local farmers market
    • Plant seeds in pots and watch them come to life
    • Make a bucket list
    • Make an inspiration board full of things you are passionate about

    And a few tips:

    Tip 1: Never assume that everyone who follows you knows what you know.

    My latest post ‘Do you Instagram’ was very simple.  Instagram is a photo app available on iPhone.  The inspiration:  A fellow preschool mom had seen photographs on my Facebook wall and asked me how I had taken them.

    Tip 2:  Learning a new skill is empowering.  If you have a gift, share it.

    I have another post scheduled to go out soon; a knitting tutorial.  The inspiration: an elementary school friend sent me a message explaining that she was having trouble finding an easy-to-follow tutorial and wondered whether I would post a how-to video.

    Tip 3:  Get linky.

    Some bloggers love routine.  If they know what they are supposed to post about and when, it gives them time to come up with an idea instead of leaving it until the last moment and scrambling.  You may choose to dedicate a day each week to discuss a certain topic, or you may choose to start or participate in a meme or link party.

    My favorites: Ten on Ten Photo Journal, I Heart Faces

    Do some soul searching and answer this.  When do you normally feel inspired?

    • In the middle of the night? Keep a notepad and pen by the bed.
    • In the shower? Keep bathtub crayons in a container in the shower.
    • When you are out of the house? If you have a voice memo feature on your cell phone, now is the time to use it.  If not, leave a message on your answering machine at home.

    Don’t forget to keep a list of potential blog posts.  You may need them when you have a little writer’s block.

    My motto:  Inspire and be inspired!

    *****************************************************************************

    About The Author: Tonya didn’t include an author bio, so I (Crissy) am writing this.  I asked her to write this guest post on Inspiration, because her blog, Create-Celebrate-Explore, which you can find at  TonyaStaab.com, is an inspiration in itself! it is full of the most beautiful photos (and stories) of the crafts and recipes she makes, as well as the places she travels to. You’ll be hard-pressed to not be inspired after reading a few of her posts!

    I was lucky enough to meet Tonya in person this past summer when were both attending BlogHer. I was a fan of her blog and invited her to be a speaker on a blogging panel that I was organizing for Etsy.  She was a true delight to meet! She even helped my friends and I out with an emergency craft dilemma before the CheeseburgHer party. Seriously -how many people will stop everything they are doing to help you style a cheeseburger shaped bed?  I can’t wait to see her again this summer in San Diego, where we’ll be attending the next BlogHer conference!

  • Biz Profile: Rachel Walsh

    What is your name? Rachel Walsh

    What is your business? balanced Crafts

    When did you start your business? About 2 years ago

    Why did you decide to start your business & why did you choose the type of business you chose? I have always wanted to own my own business, or rather work for myself as opposed to someone else. I chose jewellery because that is my passion.

    What is your favorite thing about being in business for yourself? The freedom to work when I want, how I want.

    What turned out to be harder than you thought? Promoting.

    Looking back, what is one thing you know now, but wish you knew back then? This is a lot harder than you think it might be.

    Do you participate in any business groups (mentoring, networking, etc) ? I am on several Etsy street teams, but no business groups in particular.

    As a business owner, it can be easy to work all the time – do you have any tips for balancing your business and your personal life? To avoid burnout, I make sure to take breaks from my business. Actual breaks. No internet.

    What have been some of your best business successes? I believe I started becoming more successful when I started creating what I was truly passionate about, as opposed to what I thought would sell.

    What are you planning to do with your business in the future? My plan is simply to grow. I am constantly trying to come up with new ideas, new ways of doing what I already do. The problem is usually time.

  • How To Make Money Blogging: Affiliate Sales


    In today’s post,  are continuing the trend of making money with your blog, and today’s topic is affiliate sales.

    If you’ve never heard of affiliate marketing, it can certainly sound very intimidating – and be even more intimidating to get started. But don’t feel that way – it’s very easy to get started, and there is no cost involved, so why not do a little dabbling and see what happens?

    In the simplest definition, affiliate marketing is when you make income by promoting products. You earn a commission for each sale you influence. (Sales and clicks are tracked with your unique affiliate link.)

    You can include your affiliate links in all types of content, including:

    * Audio
    * Video
    * Articles
    * Reports
    * Ebooks
    * Autoresponder courses
    * Online courses
    * Social networking posts
    * Blog posts

    As you can see, content is generally considered the single most important tool an affiliate marketer has to make a passive income. That is why affiliate marketing and blogging match together so perfectly! You need content for your blog – so why not include some affiliate links and earn  income at the same time?

    The  goal is to find a topic you’re excited to write about, and then find relevant items to link to within the post.

    For example, if you’re a food blogger, you might write about a fantastic recipe you tried, and include the affiliate link to the cookbook you found the recipe in.

    If you’re a crafty blogger, you might write about a craft project you are working on, and then put in an affiliate link to the yarn or fabric you’re using.

    If you’re a fashion blogger, you might write about the cute bag you just purchased, and then include an affiliate link so that your readers can purchase the same item.

    If you’re a life blogger, you might write about the DVD you watched last night, and then include an affiliate link to Amazon or Netflix so that other people can buy it / rent it.

    You just include the links naturally within your writing. You don’t have to shove them down anyone’s throat.

    If you do plan on participating in affiliate marketing, you will want to include a disclosure on your blog so that people know you may be making an income off of the links. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Here’s the link to mine.

    So what are you waiting for? Get started!

  • How To Make Money Blogging: Products & Services


    Welcome back to the How To Make Money Blogging series! Yesterday, I gave you an intro on the basics. Today, we’re going to talk products and services!

    For many of you reading this site, this is a good place to start. Many of you already have a business, and most of you already have a blog. So, it only makes sense to talk about your products and services on your blog! But I bet quite a few of you don’t do it – or you don’t do it enough!

    Many of you may feel too modest to talk about your products and services within your blog posts. Or you may be afraid of coming off as “too pushy.”

    Don’t be afraid! There are ways to do this that will seem very natural and flowing. You just have to create a lead in.

    For example, let’s say you write a post about going to the beach with your family. Well, you can put in a section about how the blue sky and the blue water inspired you to make something blue, and then include a link to that particular product.

    See what I mean? You are not being pushy or sales-y. You are talking about a memory, and then providing a link to a product that was inspired by that memory. The people reading your post may click on that link and buy the product – but they never would have if you hadn’t have posted the link.

    And you don’t have to mention your products and services in every single post. Start with a couple times per week and see how you feel. (and of course, see if your sales increase!)

    If you are ready to start making money with your blog, sign up for my new 13 week lesson series called “How To Make Money With Your Blog.” We’ll go over quite a few things with this series – from how to sell your own products & services on your blog, affiliate marketing for others, ad sales, endorsement deals, Blogging Parties, and more!

    I’ll give you a new lesson every week that will walk you step-by-step through one way of making money with your blog.

    PLUS, I’m going to throw in several bonus guides to teach you about marketing, SEO, and more!

    The first lesson – and bonus guide – are ready for you right now!

    You can start digging into them in a few minutes by grabbing up this special offer!

    For a limited time, I am offering the whole 13 week series for 3 payments of only $19.95. You just pay your first payment of $19.95 today and will then be billed two other payments, each 30 days apart. You can cancel at any time.

    OR save even more money by purchasing all the lessons at once – for only $45!

    To purchase with the three payment option (each payment $19.95), click here

    Or to make one payment of $45, click here

    Remember – you can download your first lesson and bonus guide immediately! This special savings offer won’t last long!

  • How To Make Money Blogging

    Blogging. I know you’ve heard of it. You probably even have a blog. But do you know how to make money with it?

    There are lots of people out there who do know how – and that’s what they’re doing right now. They’re earning a paycheck with their blog. And if you’re not, it’s about time you did!

    Now, for some people, the income they earn with their blog is their full time income. Their blog is their whole business. But for others, their blog is just a nice little side income.

    You can decide where you want to fit in this landscape. You can give your blog your whole attention and turn your blog into your primary biz, or you can keep your focus on your already-solid-biz and simply learn how to make a little extra cash with your blog.

    This week, I am going to give you several ideas on how to earn money with your blog. Now, if you are really interested in learning how to make money with your blog, I suggest you sign up for my new 13 week program.

    In this 10 week lesson series called “How To Make Money With Your Blog.” We’ll go over quite a few things with this series – from how to sell your own products & services on your blog, affiliate marketing for others, ad sales, endorsement deals, Blogging Parties, and more!

    I’ll give you a new lesson every week that will walk you step-by-step through one way of making money with your blog.

    PLUS, I’m going to throw in several bonus guides to teach you about marketing, SEO, and more!

    The first lesson – and bonus guide – are ready for you right now!

    You can start digging into them in a few minutes by grabbing up this special offer!

    For a limited time, I am offering the whole 13 week series for 3 payments of only $19. You just pay your first payment of $19 today and will then be billed two other payments, each 30 days apart. You can cancel at any time.

    OR save even more money by purchasing all the lessons at once – for only $45!

    To purchase with the three payment option (each payment $19), click here

    Or to make one payment of $45, click here

    Remember – you can download your first lesson and bonus guide immediately! This special savings offer won’t last long!

  • How To Motivate Yourself

    Motivation is a great thing. At its height, it makes you unstoppable. It’s the times when everything seems to come together effortlessly and your business just gets better and better.

    Unfortunately, keeping motivation on your “team” isn’t always easy. A lot of us find that coming up with ideas or getting stuck into a project are great fun, but staying dedicated once the going gets tough isn’t always so much fun.  Try these tricks to kick start your own motivation:

    1 – Remind yourself why. This may seem obvious but sometimes just taking a step back and remembering why you’re doing this is can get you excited to work on your projects. Focus on how you felt when you started the project or business, and remind yourself of your goals and desires.

    2 – Keep track of your goals. If you haven’t done so already, writing your goals down will help you focus and stay energized about your business. We all need something to work towards and having clear goals will help make it easier to stay focused.

    You may want to update your goals regularly and make adjustments as necessary.

    3 – Take a break. This may seem like a contradiction, but taking time off to recharge your batteries can make a big difference to your energy levels. A little time off completely away from work (even if it’s just a few hours) can help you refocus and come back energized and refocused once again.

    Taking a little time off may also help you organize your thoughts and you may even find solutions and new ideas you hadn’t thought of previously. At the very least it will give you a nice break and help you recharge your batteries.

    4 – Create visuals. Decorate your office with visuals that keep you inspired. You may want to add a few pictures of your family members or perhaps a few inspirational quotes and pictures. Creating a goals board with your written goals and pictures to represent those goals may also be very helpful.

    Staying focused isn’t always easy, especially when you work from home, but it is possible. And just think where your life would be without your business. Would you really want that life?

  • Three Ways To Stop Procrastinating

    We’re all guilty of it. Well, at least I know I am. Procrastination. Sometimes, I think it could be my middle name! And as someone who suffers from this (more than I’d like to admit), I have learned a few tricks to get myself moving. Who knows? They might work for you, too.

    Break Up The Task
    When you look at a big task, such as “redesign my website,” you can easily become overwhelmed. Some people can get so stifled by that feeling that they just quit working on the project all together. Instead of looking at a big project as one item (more…)