MAN has it been a while since I’ve done a Let’s Chat post. I’ve really missed creative writing, so what the hell, I’m bringing it back!
After all the new years reflections and resolution setting, I was feeling pretty good about The Crafted Life. I saw work in the archives that I haven’t for years and it left me wondering why I don’t feel that good on a day to day basis.
And I think it comes down to this– we’re over stimulated. Perhaps it’s just me, but the days often feel like endless scrolling through gorgeous feeds. And to be perfectly honest, it’s been leaving me with this empty feeling. The one where you put yourself down a bit because your life doesn’t measure up or feel as calculated. Somehow, it makes me lose sight of everything I’ve ever done and how far I’ve actually come. Woof.
There’s a lot of great reasons to network when you’re self employed. Not only will it lead to new business opportunities, but it will give your cat/dog a break from hearing you talk at them all day because nobody else is home. For me, one of the best reasons to network is to form a support system.
I’ve met some wonderful friends through blogging and can’t tell you how much their support has kept me going over the years. They’re the people I go to to chat about project ideas, business goals, and what to charge for my work. More often than not, we are offered the same campaigns, so if we aren’t talking, we could be making drastically different amounts of money for the same work. Without a doubt, we are stronger when we work together.
If you are looking to form a support group of your own, here are some tips for making new friends:
1. Conferences. Although sometimes a bit of an investment, conferences are by far the best way to meet new people in your field in person. For me, the ones I’ve attended are less about the sessions and workshops and more about the conversations that last until 2am in someones room. Check the hashtags before the event and try to connect before the event starts.
2. Social Media. I can’t tell you how many of the relationships I have with great friends all started with a tweet. Social media is one of the most powerful networking tools out there because you can reach anyone from any part of the world. Be active and engage with others! You never know when they might be in your city for an event and ask to meet up for coffee.
3. Email. Scary, right? Sometimes all it takes to get a conversation going is a simple hello. If you feel like you need a reason to send the email, or have to have a question, you don’t! A nice compliment goes a long way.
4. Meetups. Depending on where you live, there might already be an organized group of creatives (Etsy sellers, bloggers, etc) that get together. Search and ask around on Twitter and Instagram.
5. Workshops. If you both buy tickets to an event, you already have something in common. Boom, instant ice breaker. If you can’t find any workshops you like in your area, consider hosting one! You never know who is out there wanting to connect as well.
And let’s all just admit it. It’s hard to make friend as an adult and it’s scary to put yourself out there. Be kind to one another and get chatting!
As a small business owner, it’s completely understandable that you’d want to answer every single email that pops up in your inbox and to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. If you haven’t hit your desired level of success, it’s easy to think that what is being pitched to you will ultimately be amazing and perhaps career changing. But here’s the truth, more often than not, those emails are just a distraction and you’re probably wasting more valuable time than you know. Now, before you immediately click away from this blog after reading that, hear me out.
I spend a majority of my time on email (sadly, it’s not all glitter and candy over here as my Instagram might have you believe). So let’s say I get 10 emails from companies asking me to share their super cool product with you guys, but that they cannot pay for the ad space, aka they want me to work for free. If I take the time to reply to each and every one, that’s an hour out of my day writing emails that don’t help my business. An hour I could have been making, planning, or emailing brands I actually want to work with. And if I do this each day, that’s THIRTY hours a month that are completely gone. That’s not okay.
The reality is that you have far more important things to be doing than spending all day on your email. At the end of the day, remember that your time is really all you have. Don’t waste it on those who don’t appreciate or understand that.
If you also suffer some inbox madness, here are a few tips and tricks to save you some time along the way:
1. Limit the number of times you check your email in a day. I know, it sounds impossible. But really, think about all the time you waste checking your email in a day and how distracting it can be. Seriously, starting today or tomorrow, make a notch on a piece of paper for every time you check your mail (phone counts too). You might be surprised how many times you passively check.
I try my best to check 2-3 times a day, once in the morning, afternoon and evening. That way, once I reply to everyone, I can put it away and focus completely on something else.
2. Step away from the computer at night.. well at least social media and email. This was by far one of my biggest takeaways from Kari Chapin at Craftcation 2015. Give yourself time to decompress and be a person. Plus, what groundbreaking email have you received for your business after 10pm? Mmhmm, that’s what I thought.
3. Delete emails. So, remember that generic email you got from that company that wants you to work for them for free in exchange for promotion on their super cool site and it’s going to send you tons and tons of traffic? Yeah, delete it. 99% of the time, it’s not going to send you enough traffic to make up for your electricity bill being late that month. Why waste your time responding when it’s clearly not in your best interest? PS also see charging what you’re worth if you’re working for free.
4. Disable notifications on your phone. Every time your phone beeps or lights up, it’s easy to want to check what’s going on immediately. I recently disabled my email notifications and can’t tell you what a time saver it’s been. Now I have to open the app and refresh if I really want to check my mail. It also helps save battery life, so win-win!
How do you value your time? I’d love to hear your tips & tricks in the comments!
But there’s no way around it, it’s part of business. You’re going to get rejected, more than once, and from projects you want so bad it hurts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. And that doesn’t make you less of a person. I know when we feel the sting of rejection our initial thought is to run and hide. In one fell swoop we somehow forget all the good things we’ve ever done.
Even if it doesn’t come through on these blog posts or on my Instagram, I’m no different. Just the other day I was turned down for a project I really wanted. But instead of checking out for the rest of the day and fixating on the bad news, I sent out five more emails that will hopefully evolve into other projects I really want. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I use rejection to drive me. Because letting it hold me back is no longer option. There’s too much to be done.
You too have too much to do. So, here are a few tips for pushing through and picking yourself up:
1. Archive. Get that email out of site as soon as you’re done responding (if necessary). Don’t let those bad vibes linger.
2. Pick one thing to make you happy and do it. Go buy a cupcake. Treat yourself to flowers. Take a 45 minute break to watch an episode of one of your favorite shows. Or this video. It’s okay to take some time out and reflect.
3. Remember, you are not your business. Even though you put your blood, sweat, and tears into your business, it is not who you are as a person. You are not getting rejected, your business just isn’t the best fit for whatever reason.
4. Get moving. Dance, go for a run, walk around the block. Just step away from the computer and get your blood pumping.
5. Make a list. What are other projects you want to work on? Make a list and set those into action.
Rejection is scary and it hurts. But how else are you going to get what you want unless you take that risk and ask?
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”– Eleanor Roosevelt