Last weekend I was on a mission for a Christmas tree for the studio. I hit up a couple of hardware stores, Target, then – my arch nemesis – Hobby Lobby. I have never bought myself a faux Christmas tree, so when I read a box that said a tree had 961 points, I thought – sarcastically, "Great! Because I've always wished my Christmas tree had just 11 more points on it."
See, living in the mountains spoiled us when it comes to Christmas trees. You simply go out, pick your own out of a field, some country-fied high schooler picks up a chain saw and goes out to cut it down for you. You cram it in your car (not on top, because David freaks out) and you drive it home, where you fill your house with needles as you push it around the house. There's lots of hot cider and mulled wine involved in the entire process, and your car and house smells good for weeks and it's amazing. (2010, 2011)
Now that we're in Alabama you have fake trees. Or, for the weird folks (like we'll be for our home tree) you go out to some sketchy stand in some parking lot around town and you get a pre-picked-out, pre-cut tree.
Honestly, I'm pissed off about the whole thing.
But, for the studio tree I didn't want to lug in a pine needle mess, and I wanted something a little non-traditional. We tend to be pretty traditional with our home tree, so I wanted something kind of funky.
My first thought was to get a white tree, but knew it would get lost in the white-ness that is the new studio. I didn't want silver, but I did find a champaign one that I loved. But, since gold isn't usually a color that I go for, I was afraid I would hate it next year.
So, that left traditional green and, well, black.
I stood in the aisle at Hobby Lobby for a good half hour, staring that sucker down. I asked David multiple times if I could pull off a black Christmas tree. I mean, it could go three different ways.
1.) It could have looked cold and icky. I mean, it's a black freakin' tree.
2.) It could have looked a little trashy. In my head I kept picturing it covered in leopard print ornaments, or standing in a scene from Beetle Juice or Drop Dead Fred (which I do love, don't get me wrong) looking like another bad idea from the 80s.
3.) It could have looked exactly how I wanted it too. A little cheeky, but still reminiscent of tradition. Just with a touch of sass.
I decided to just go for it. I mean, I don't know anyone who could rock a black tree like I could. I had to go with my gut and give the damn thing a try.
As Cute Kid and I were decorating it, we found ourselves singing "Monster Mash" for no obvious reason. In my head I noted how hilarious that was, and went and turned on my very favorite Louis Armstrong Christmas album. Monster Mash soon disappeared, and we finished up a kraft paper chain and hung the white ornaments.
The results were exactly what I wanted it to be. It even – dare I say it – is totally in line with my brand image. Don't tell Santa I said that.
And there you have it: a rocked-out black Christmas tree. Just bringing the holiday spirit to our new studio home, and maybe a little bit of the Monster Mash while we're at it.
Today is a big day at the studio. I'm working with Armosa Studios to film my new brand video. So stoked.
And, I'm taking the opportunity before and after the shoot to finally get my photos together of the new studio space. Again, so stoked.
But, to hold you over, a photo of the outside will have to suffice for now. I'm in love with our little juniper trees. And so much more.
Can't wait to share the rest!
I mentioned the other day a fun shift in my clientele as of late. Whereas almost 100% of my clientele used to consist of complete strangers who stumbled onto my site in one way or another, my current roster is made up almost entirely of friends, peers, and return clients.
Actually, to fully illustrate, last quarter (which was my biggest quarter to date) about 90% of my income came from people that I know, either online or in "real" life.
I've thought a lot about what this shift means, what I'm doing to cause this shift, and what I really fell about it.
What This Means
On one hand, I was freaking out last quarter, because – for some reason – getting "new" clients (you know, people I don't know) feels more like business growth, and I felt like I wasn't growing because I wasn't getting any fresh meat.
(Haha! I really don't like that metaphor, but whatev.)
Obviously, that freaking out was all for naught, as it totally ended up being my most profitable quarter ever. Part of this feeling is because working with people I already know and love doesn't feel like work to me. So, pretty much, I feel like I didn't work much last quarter, even though I really seriously did.
But, I am kind of missing the fresh meat.
Then, on the other hand, I'm loving working with people that I already know and love. I'm helping friends and peers launch and grow their businesses, like Bluewater Brewing, Connecting the Gaps, and some label design for Shirey Ice Cream. And I have old clients returning to beef up and expand their presence, like Braid Creative, Lauren Liess, and Cashmere Suitcase, or the insane number of other clients who have gotten me (and Corey) to do countless hours of maintenance over the past few months.
These are all projects that I know I'm going to love from the get-go. That's why I call these clients my homegirl or homeboy clients. I can count on them to be awesome because I know them, we've worked together, and we just get each other.
When my friends and peers trust me, and my old clients value me enough to return, that means one thing to me: I'm doing my job real right.
What I'm Doing To Cause This
Dude, I don't know, other than doing my job real right. For me, attracting my dream client means attracting people who I can work seamlessly with, who allows me to be creative, and who will simply rock out their business.
These friends, peers, and return clients are just that. They're my dream client, and if I'm attracting them (back, in some cases) then I'm simply positioning myself to be exactly what we both want. I'll just call it magic.
What I Feel About It
Grateful. Intimidated. Grateful.
There's a bit more of a push to live up to perceived awesomeness when a friend hires you. But being trusted by a friend is the most gratifying feeling in the world.
So effing grateful.
Want to be my next homegirl or homeboy client? Get in touch >>
On November 11th the first of my Get Your Shit Together Subscription email newsletter goes out, so if you need some help getting your own shit together, and rock the h-e-double hockey sticks out of your creative life and business, then subscribe now. It's gonna be real awesome. Subscribe now >>
I wrote a blog post once about some investments I've made in my business, and how important it is to put money into your biz. It's a post that I bring up all the time when talking to creative friends and clients, and it's a subject I find myself constantly wanting to revisit and clarify. So, here we go.
Making investments in my business is something that I make very important. It's right up there with paying myself, and maybe sometimes a bit more important, depending on the situation. For example, I plan to take a small pay cut next month to invest in a new bomb-diggity iMac. This doesn't bother me, as I know that investing in that new (larger, faster, and shinier) iMac will make me more productive, which equals maybe a pay raise in the near future.
So, investing money back into my biz is crazy-important to me. And for lots of reasons.
buying important things = more productivity = more money
Like that iMac, putting my money and research time into purchasing things for my biz that will make me more productive = Emily for the win.
For another example, I recently dished out $600 for some project management software (and will soon be adding $300 more). Since hiring on David as project manager, my Five Star notebook note-taking system just wasn't quite cutting it anymore. Shooting paper planes across the studio isn't the most efficient way of getting shit done (but sure sounds way fun).
For my clients, this almost always comes up when they fret about the expense of a new website. May I site Evy and Jessica and Bob as proof that putting in the dough brings in the dough (if you do your part, too, of course)? 'Nough said.
paying employees = good economic karma
I believe in economic karma. If you help boost the economy of someone, then you'll get a boost too, in some way. So woo woo, but I believe it. I like to practice this in two main ways: supporting small businesses and paying employees.
Sure, I could work my ass off 24/7 and do all my work all on my own, but 1) I would hate my life and work and 2) being a tight-wad doesn't help anyone. I would rather hire some help, pay them well (what I pay David and Corey is pretty damn good), and allow us to all live happier lives working a job we love that doesn't leave us feeling undervalued. And that equals good economic karma.
setting intentions = dominating goals = whoa growth
I try to always set intentions when I make a time or money investment in my biz. If I put the time and money into the new studio to make it awesome, what do I want in return? What I want is to become a local role model of what a creative can accomplish, and position myself to bring in $100,000 / year.
What about that new iMac? I want it to allow me to design and develop more efficiently, and allow me to comfortably take in more projects. It will also allow me to retire my current iMac to Corey, who works on a PC (I know, don't judge the poor guy), allowing him to be more streamlined with my process, allowing us to both work more efficiently together.
Each investment has an intention. No meaningless spending going on here.
putting things in motion = making room for growth
I totally get woo woo when this comes up, and envision a big give-and-take in the universe. I call this making room for growth. I do the same when I buy clothes for Cute Kid a size too big. I plan on her growing into them. And – sure enough – within a few short months she's in the quite nicely. I don't buy them ridiculously big, but just enough thinking ahead so that I'm not squeezing her into shoes a size too small, and potentially stunting the growth of her foofies. So, take that analogy, and make it fit your biz. Make room for growth.
Every time I commit to investing in my business, whether it's investing time to plan a cool blog series (which equated to gaining almost 100 Facebook followers and almost 300 newsletter subscribers), hiring Corey and David (which gives me time to do what I love, and be more proactive about bringing in the dough), or paying out for some project management software (hello, seamless productivity!), there's always a positive effect. I always book the clients to recoup the investment. I always see extended growth.
I'm always moving forward.
And for my clients, when they hire me on to design their website, manage their eCourses, or hussle their email marketing, (given they're being clear about their own intentions and effectively putting them into motion) there's marked growth. Sometimes more than we'd ever have imagined.
I see this all the time. The month that I committed to hiring David and investing in the project management software ended up being my biggest financial month. The month that I commit to moving the studio, I was hired by three local creatives. Making room for growth = you make magic happen.
If you're looking to make room for some growth of your own, and think a website is how you'd like to do it, check out my offerings and get in touch. I'm currently booking projects for November and December.
Yesterday was a big day for us around the studio. We went by yesterday evening and picked up the keys to our new studio. Happy dances may have been involved.
We're pretty sad to be moving out of what we've been affectionately calling "the space" for the past 10 months. But, as Indie Shopography grows, we're ready to devote 100% of our work-life to it, and the clients that have made it grow so much.
As for the new studio, we will be taking the next few weeks to show it some serious love. We're painting the disgustingly blue walls a nice clean white, refacing the ceiling (after peaking above the tiles today we're pretty sure we won't be able to rip that sucker down soon, so we're thinking of doing something like this), and maybe an art installation. And definitely some new lighting, as this girl won't be slaving away under fluorescents for long. The horror.
We had planned to slowly move into the new studio over the next two months, but a recent fire a block from Indie Spaces has a downtown business temporarily occupying our space while their building gets refitted. We're excited to hand over our much-loved space to The Wine Seller, and – granted the city council isn't a pain this evening – they'll be back open for business in our old space by the end of the month. Meaning we need to be out by then. Eek! Hello, deadlines.
So David and I will be spending the next few days painting, organizing for utility transfers, and getting our new studio decked out for stylish occupancy. We hope to have an official opening in December/early-January, and I'm sure I'll be sharing our progress along the way. At the moment I'm just happy things are moving along smoothly, and that I have a big new space to do my happy dancing.