Diary of a Creative Entrepreneur

Leaning on mentors to keep you moving forward

I don’t have a mentor in the sense that there’s not a single person that I look to for guidance, advice, and leadership to help me make decisions in my business. What I have is more valuable. A web of resources that includes podcasts that I regularly tune in to, blogs I read, online personalities that I follow, and friends who listen, support and challenge me. In every obstacle I encountered this week, there was something or someone there to catch me. The beauty of this type of support system is that it’s free and it’s there for anyone who is willing to seek it out. Are you using your “mentors” to the fullest?

Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here’s a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones.

Leaning on mentors to keep you moving forward // Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here's a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones. // From MichelleHickey.Design

Monday, August 7th

I’m learning more and more that starting the day on a positive note will have a ripple effect on the hours that follow. This practice is especially important on Mondays. Anytime things start off feeling stressful; it inevitably leads to more negativity as the week goes on.

On this particular Monday, I had the good fortune of stumbling upon this podcast episode from Beyond the To Do List with Erik Fisher: an interview with NYT Bestselling author, Jon Acuff. I found so much encouragement and insight in listening to their discussion about learning to finish what you start, as I was fixing my breakfast.

Like many creatives, I suffer from “shiny object syndrome” and often find difficulty in wrapping up projects before diving into a new one. The podcast episode gave me comfort that I’m not alone and also provided some valuable solutions (namely learning to fight distractions) in overcoming my challenge. I can’t wait to check out Jon’s new book, called “Finish,” to be released in September.

I spent my morning working through the giant to-do list that I had made the week prior. These small tasks like returning emails, writing, editing, and fixing site issues are never glamorous, but always necessary. As I went through my list, I took note of areas that I could potentially outsource or eliminate. I am continuously auditing my working hours to see where there is room for improvement.

I made a quick trip to the post office in the middle of the day to fix an Etsy order mishap. We just started working with a new supplier, and offering canvas prints in the shop and as my sister and I were placing our first customer order, we accidentally entered my PO Box mailing address instead of the customer’s (the printer would typically ship directly to them). Luckily, we left buffer room in our promised window of time, and I was able to retrieve the package and send it right back out to our customer without any issue.

This little mishap reminded me of how grateful I am to work with printers who “drop ship” (send packages directly to customers on my behalf). These daily trips to the post office (not to mention packaging) would be a giant headache to do daily.

In the afternoon I worked on drafting a series of three sponsored emails for an upcoming campaign to my Elegance and Enchantment audience. I had already shot the images that I’d be including in the email but had a last minute switcheroo with one of the frames we were showcasing. I reshot the new frame that my sponsor wanted to feature and sent all emails and images over for her to review.

You can catch a set up of my very basic photography set-up in the video above, which includes random objects I had around my home, a giant window, and this studio light. The camera that I use for styled shoots is a Canon EOS 6D. I’ve also been shooting a lot using my iPhone, which can also get the job done when you’re in a rush.

When people ask what I do for a living, I usually mention that one of my jobs is a coach for creatives who are looking to start or grow an online business. I don’t offer coaching as a service, but I like to think of everyone who reads my blog or follows me on social, as my clients. I’ve had a handful of people ask if I’d be willing to be their mentor or business coach, and I wasn’t ready to go down that road (for a variety of reasons, which would need its own post to explain).

But when a reader reached out to me on Instagram asking for help, I felt called to do so. She’s more than just a reader, in that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her through social and email over the past year. With this in mind, I thought it might be a good chance to test the waters and see if official coaching might be something that I want to add to my offerings.

I absolutely loved our session, learning more about her business goals, and coming up with solutions to help her grow. I try to cover a variety of topics through this blog, but that one-on-one chatting provided a way to address specific challenges that this reader was facing.

I have no official plan in place to offer coaching as a service to my blog readers but know that the wheels are turning.

Leaning on mentors to keep you moving forward // Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here's a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones. // From MichelleHickey.Design

Tuesday, August 8th

Ironically, I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like I needed a coaching call of my own. I don’t know what brought on this sudden feeling of misdirection, but I knew I wanted to shake the feeling asap so I could get on with my week.

I turned to one of my many unofficial mentors, Cliff Ravenscraft for a pick-me-up. Cliff, also known as “The Podcast Answer Man” is the first online personalities that I connected with, and there are so many things in my business that can be traced back to him. Part of why he continues to be such a source of inspiration to me is because I have been following his journey for over ten years. I’ve gotten to see all of the ups and downs of his business growth— starting with hosting a little podcast about the tv show LOST to becoming the expert that he is today.

Having a person like this in your business journey is essential. Many of my other unofficial mentors like Gary Vee, Marie Forleo, and Amy Porterfield were already huge successes when I discovered them. Even though Cliff is right up there with those superstars, I find him to be much more relatable because I know every detail of what he went through to join their ranks.

Even though Cliff‘s specialty is in podcasting, he’s also been experimenting with video and vlogging lately. Lucky timing for me! I checked out some of his latest YouTube videos to see how he’s been filming and producing and gained inspiration not just from his techniques but the message in his content.

With that pick-me-up, I forged forward through my to-do list. I still wasn’t feeling the most sunshiney, but always find it better to keep pushing through than to dwell.

My efforts to secure influencers for the Enchanting Mondays was not going great. After sending out two rounds of emails, I had only connected with two of the twenty-five people on my list. Kalyn and Lauren, my Mastermind partners, gave me the awesome suggestion to send personalized video messages via Instagram, to the remaining bloggers to connect with them in that way. Loved this idea!

I recorded a series of videos for the first gal on my list and sent them out, only to realize that since she wasn’t following me on Instagram, and that she had such a large following, that it was unlikely that she would ever see the messages. Back to the drawing board!

A chat that I had scheduled with my friend Steve was so timely on that Tuesday afternoon. Like my Mastermind partners, he’s always ready with some great suggestions and encouragement. We threw around some additional solutions for this influencer outreach initiative, including connecting with existing Pinterest followers (since this is where I have the largest social reach, AND where educational bloggers are likely to be hanging out).

It’s not easy to keep moving forward with a project like this one, but what’s helping me keep with it is to know that the potential impact that securing these influencers can have on the customer growth of the Enchanting Mondays Library.

While I wanted to dig right back into connecting with influencers, I had another project waiting in the wings: getting this Diary of Creative Entrepreneur post and video published. Thankfully, the video production process is becoming easier every week. I’m still not at the place where I want to be in terms of quality across the board; I feel like I’m making baby steps of improvement with each installment.

Wednesday, August 9th

With the video portion of Diary of a Creative Entrepreneur complete, I turned my attention to writing the accompanying blog post. I keep questioning whether or not it’s even necessary to include this with the video, but every time I sit down to write, I realize that I always have more to say than I recorded on film. Since I’m also working on my (um, like) articulation skills, I feel that the blog post is also serving as a way to clarify some of the points I don’t always successfully make.

I was feeling a change of scenery in the afternoon, as solopreneurs tend to do, so I headed out to a cute cafe called Trasca to work from. I may or not have chosen it because they make really good chocolate chip cookies. Even though they happened to be all out of them (nooooooo) I was happy that they lured me there because I ended up having an unbelievably productive afternoon.

You hear me say this all the time, but atmosphere can have such an impact on your working habits. I breezed through my extensive to do list, returning emails without overthinking and taking care of all of those small tasks that I had been putting off for the last couple of weeks like updating website banners, canceling subscriptions and following up with inquiries.

Leaning on mentors to keep you moving forward // Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here's a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones. // From MichelleHickey.Design

Thursday, August 10th

I pulled out my “I work for myself, and I can do whatever I want card” on Thursday morning and got my nails done. No apologies. I knew that this day would be pretty disruptive, so I decided to roll with it.

Other than getting my email inbox emptied, I didn’t do any actual work because I was scurrying around getting ready to leave for a little road trip to South Florida, for one of our semi-annual, in-person Mastermind Group Meetups!

Luckily, Lauren and Kalyn were taking the reigns in leading our sessions, so I all needed to do was pack and show up. Thanks, gals!

Friday, August 11th

It was Kalyn‘s turn to host, so we showed up at her pretty red door in Cape Coral and were welcomed by a delicious breakfast. The blogger hubbies stayed behind to babysit Juniper (Lauren’s little one), and the girls headed off to the library for a strategy session.

Kalyn had reserved a study room, and all three of us found it hilarious that we were scolded by the librarian because we showed up fifteen minutes late. “Next time, we might lose our place,” he said as his voice echoed off the emptiness of the building. “Oh, and as a reminder, your room is not sound proof.”

After we were able to contain our laughter, Kalyn led us through a website auditing plan. She recently rebranded and relaunched her blog (so many goals) and shared tips for deleting and optimizing old posts. Since I’m on the brink of redesigning Elegance and Enchantment, her lesson could not have come at a better time.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’m pretty clueless when it comes to SEO. How long have I been blogging? K suggested using Google Keyword Planner as I go through my old posts and assign a different keyword for each one to increase my rankings. She also suggested following this post from Side Hustle Nation that she used as a guide throughout her auditing process. There is so much that can be learned from friends, and best of all, they are your most patient teachers!

After lunch, Lauren took the stage and treated us to a run-through of an upcoming workshop that she’ll be launching later this year. She said that it was a way to test and get feedback, but I felt like I got more out of the experience than she did!

The topic she covered was bible journaling, which combines art and scripture as a form of worship. Even though I have a degree in art, this entire concept felt intimidating to me, especially since I don’t practice creativity very often without my computer.

I found our afternoon session to be very therapeutic and was so proud to see Lauren weave her talents and passions together into a remarkable presentation. Needless to say, we had very little constructive feedback for her! I’m so excited to see this workshop launch.

After wrestling with the tripod and taking a half an hour’s worth of photos until we got the most “naturally posed” shot of the three of us to commemorate the day, we shared a meal together with our guys and baby Junie. It’s always hard to end our meet-ups, but each one is filled with so much inspiration that it carries us to the next!

Lesson of the week:

You don’t need an official mentor to succeed in your business. Answers can always be found in a podcast episode, a video or an article. Lessons can be learned from those who have walked the path ahead of you. Friends are there support and challenge you. And all of these combine to give you the wisdom you need to take your own steps and make things happen.

What I’m reading:

Will it Fly?, by Pat Flynn

What I’m watching:

How to Get Away with Murder, Seasons 2 and 3

What I’m listening to:

A bunch of great podcasts including:
This episode from Beyond the To Do List with Erik Fisher (mentioned in Monday’s entry)
This interview with Seth Godin from Building a Story Brand

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