Do This Today to Grow Your Business Faster than Anything Else

Do This to Grow Your Business Much Faster

I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before, but a lot of my big wins, the things that I’m the most proud of, have been successful because I’ve had the help and support of other people.

It hasn’t been me at home by myself behind my computer that’s made my business a success.

If I didn’t work so hard behind my computer, I wouldn’t be where I am today…but, I wouldn’t be here nearly as quickly without the relationships that I’ve built.

Did you know that I spoke at the Etsy Success Symposium in my first year of business because I built an email and social media relationship with the person who organized it?

I was introduced to my executive producer at CreativeLive (ultimately the person who gave me a shot to teach there), Elizabeth, by Tara Gentile who I met in person at the Etsy Success Symposium.

I met Marie Forleo in person at her event, RHH Live, and she then asked me to share my story for a case study on her Live Your Dream site. She also invited me to be an affiliate for B-School last year when it was by invite only.

Thousands of viewers watched my CreativeLive course because so many of you tweeted, shared it on Facebook, shouted it out on Instagram. And, I organized a blog tour with some of my favorite people who I met online to help me spread the word.

I met my business partner (and one of my best friends) in person for the first time at a conference. She’s one of the reasons that I said yes to teaching at CreativeLive. She believed in me and told me that I could do it.

My content producer at CreativeLive, Bryan, introduced me to Bonnie from Going Home to Roost (who has an amazing course on CL) and I just wrapped an interview with her to use for my upcoming course, Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep. We’re now officially friends. Who wouldn’t become fast friends with a girl who named her dog Toaster? I mean, really.

I reaaaaaaally like the ladies who were in my live audience for my last CreativeLive course. We got to eat lunch together and take tequila shots at the after party and got to know each other. I’m rooting for every single one of them and I truly want them to reach their blogging goals. Each of these women holds a special place in my heart and I hope we continue to connect. Many of them have been instrumental in helping me spread the word about my upcoming CL courses via Twitter and Facebook. THANK YOU!

Not only have other people been instrumental in my success, but relationships influence practically every business decision I make.

Mayi and I hired our web designer, Emily, for Connecting the Gaps because she was my friend first. We became friends because she asked me to chat on Skype on a day that I wasn’t busy, and we connected. We stayed in touch via social media and email and when it was time to choose a web designer, it was a no brainer.

When I gave my input on who would be awesome in the front row for my CreativeLive course, I knew Sage Grayson and Jennifer Kennedy needed to be there, because I knew that they would add so much to the course from reading their comments on my posts week after week after week.

When I’m launching a new product and I want a handful of people to test it out first, I turn to Blacksburg Belle readers who have bought from me before, who comment regularly, and who connect with me on social media.

When someone emails me to help them promote their next big thing, I’m one-hundred and fifty million times more likely to say yes if I know them—whether that be through that person leaving thoughtful comments on my blog posts every week or connecting with them regularly on social media or having met them in person or on Skype.

No matter what, connections and relationships matter.

If you’re looking for a way to get ahead, to increase your sales at a much faster rate and to make more of difference with your business, you should focus some of your time on establishing and nurturing relationships. Start today and you’ll see big rewards within months.

If you’re an introvert, I know this might seem like the worst thing ever. But, it’s not.

I can say this because, I’m an introvert. I understand the discomfort of saying hi to a stranger. Big crowds tend to terrify me and it’s really hard for me to walk up to someone I don’t know and introduce myself. I have to pump myself up to do it and sometimes I still chicken out. When I go to a conference, I have to spend a week afterwards decompressing.

But, it’s worth it. I promise you that it’s worth it.

If you spend a small amount of time each day, like 15 minutes, strengthening your connections, you’ll reap huge rewards.

Tweet someone who inspires you, send a handwritten card to a blogger who you adore, shoot an email to someone you’d like to get to know better, or leave a thoughtful comment on blog post.

I also suggest that you also do one big thing every quarter/season (or every month if you’re brave enough) to build relationships.

Those small things really do add up, but the big things like attending a conference or course in person, asking someone who you’ve never chatted with to talk on Skype, or meeting someone for coffee, can help you form connections that do things for your business that you could never even imagine.

I never imagined that meeting Mayi in person would inspire us to build a business together.

I couldn’t have known that meeting Tara Gentile at a conference would help me connect with someone that would give me the chance to literally change my business years later.

I didn’t know that chatting with Emily on Skype would lead to her building a website for me two years down the road.

It infuses a bit of magic into the relationship to take things offline and meet in person. It takes your relationship to a new level. And, you never know what might happen.

With that said, the application to be in the live studio audience for my upcoming CreativeLive courses on how to create digital products that sell and how to make your creative business uniquely irresistible is open and I would love to meet you in person.

It’s completely free to attend which is amazing. You get to hang out with me and other creatives who have similar goals and values for three days in San Francisco while learning how to improve your business. By being on camera, you also get huge amounts of exposure for your business.

It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience and this is your invitation.

“One thing that I was not expecting from attending April’s workshop, yet came as a wonderful surprise, was an increase in the number of sign-ups on my email list. I was floored (and completely grateful) by all the new readers to my blog. I’m still receiving emails from people all over the world who say they saw me on CreativeLive. In fact, I recently ran into a woman at a networking event who saw me during the broadcast (we’ll be grabbing a cup of coffee together real soon). The connections and networking has extended far beyond those three days.” –Jennifer, Create Amazing Online Courses

“Attending your CreativeLive course led to ‘meeting’ and forming relationships with the group of women who started the New Bloggers Group. And the THAT let to CTG, so basically it changed my whole life. I feel like I am part of a safe and very supportive community.” –Richelle, The Red Scorpio

Even if you don’t live in the San Francisco area, it’s beyond worth it to travel.

“It’s definitely worth it to travel to attend the CreativeLive workshop in person. You deserve to take a break from the mundane responsibilities of everyday life and treat yourself to a workshop that will change your business forever.” –Sage, Sage Grayson

“I do not live in SF but it has totally been worth it to me to travel from San Diego to be in the studio. And San Francisco is an awesome town.” –Richelle, The Red Scorpio

Want a chance at being in the studio to learn how to create digital products that sell while you sleep and how to make your creative business more uniquely irresistible? Simply click right here to fill out the application.

And, before you give me excuses on why you can’t afford it or why you can’t make it, let me share a little story with you.

Within a couple months of starting Blacksburg Belle, Marie Forleo opened up a contest to win a ticket to her upcoming conference. The ticket cost about $1500 and I had just started a new business. I was up to my elbows in student loans and scraping by to pay my bills every month.

I entered anyway, because I knew this was a huge opportunity. I won one of the ten tickets she gave away, but I still had to pay for travel and the hotel.

I told my husband how important this was to me—how it could make a huge impact on my business—and he got on board.

I sold a bunch of my books on Amazon to get enough money to pay for gas and food. I picked up extra freelance writing gigs to pay for the hotel and I saved every penny possible.

We found a hotel in New Jersey that was only fifteen minutes away from the conference in NYC by public transportation and it was less than half of what we would’ve paid if we stayed in a hotel in the city.

We drove because it was a lot cheaper than flying and we only stayed in the hotel Friday and Saturday even though the conference didn’t end until Sunday at 7pm and we lived in Blacksburg, Virginia—an eight-hour drive.

My husband picked me up after the conference ended on Sunday and he drove us home. We didn’t pull into the driveway until 4am and we were exhausted.

I was also exhilarated. I took the things I learned at the conference and applied it to my business and a few months later, I sold out the very first group coaching program that I offered.

I made connections at that conference that were invaluable to me. It was worth all the work and sacrifice that it took me to get there to attend for those three days.

Did I forget to mention that the conference landed right on my husband’s birthday and it was also a few days before our first anniversary?

My husband sacrificed for me, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to do anything else special to celebrate his birthday or our anniversary cause we were using all of our extra money for me to attend this conference. I’m eternally grateful to him for this.

The reason I’m telling you this is because that conference jump-started my business. It gave me the know-how and confidence and energy to make things happen and I could’ve just said, “I can’t afford it” and not attended.

Whether it’s my course or a conference you’d really like to attend or a person you’d really like to meet, don’t let the money excuse hold you back if it’s something that you know will change your life. Instead, do your best to figure it out. You can’t always make it happen, but if you don’t try, it definitely won’t happen.

If you’re up for it, click here to fill out the application form to join me live in the studio for my upcoming CreativeLive courses.

And, if you’re not already convinced that you should apply to be in the live audience, here are some other quotes from the ladies who attended my last CreativeLive course in person:

“Being in the front row is completely different than watching a workshop from home. You’re right in the middle of the action, and it feels like April’s talking just to you. When I’m at home, I get distracted by my business work, laundry, or my puppy, but being in the live audience gave me permission to forget about everything else and absorb the material without distractions. The best part was getting a big hug from April herself!

The deciding factor was being able to meet April in person. It’s one thing to follow someone online for a while (I’ve been stalking April for years!), but nothing compared to getting immediate feedback from April on my specific business challenges. And the workshop was free! Where else can you get elite-level business coaching in person for no charge?” –Sage, Sage Grayson

“The biggest difference between watching a course online, and being in the front row is my attention.  Watching a course online, I am at home reminded of 293 other things that I need to do, then I begin trying to multitask.  Then, inevitably, I don’t really learn too much.  Being in the front row allowed me to devote my time and attention to one subject, ultimately learning it more thoroughly and better.  Another big plus is all the yummy food CreativeLive provides and the wonderful people!” –Kimberly, K. Sienk Photography

“I loved being able to not only interact with April, but also the other women in the audience. Months later, I’m still internet buddies with them. It was absolutely a fabulous experience.

Also, being in the audience gives you the chance to ask questions that are specific to you and your experiences. I mean seriously, three entire days where you can ask all of the questions you want! Yup, it’s totally worth it.” –Jennifer, Create Amazing Online Courses

If you honestly can’t be in the live audience for my upcoming CreativeLive courses, I’ve got other ways that you can form valuable connections:

  1. Watch it live and interact in the chat. Take advantage of the chat option. I’ve heard so many stories from viewers who watched my last course that have made invaluable connections with other viewers via the chat.
  1. Closer to the course dates, I’m going to create a private Facebook group. The connections that people have made in the Facebook group that got put together for my last course is amazing. I would’ve never imagined that so many people would find new friends, help each other, give each other feedback, find accountability partners and more through that Facebook group.
  1. Use the hashtag #bellelive to let others know you’re watching, answer questions, ask me questions that I’ll answer after the course and connect with others using that hashtag. Start conversations! You never know what might happen.

RSVP for Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep right here and RSVP for Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible right here to be reminded of the courses as they approach, to get the workbooks for free, and to get access to the private Facebook group when it’s up and ready.

I’ll talk more about this stuff as the courses approach, so don’t worry, you don’t have to remember it all. And, there won’t be a quiz. Ha!

In the meantime, do one thing today to connect with another creative. Maybe even start or end your days with this exercise. If you do, by the time the course starts, you’ll see why it’s so important.

Leave a comment below letting us know the one thing you did to strengthen or start a relationship with another entrepreneur today. (And, by leaving a comment, you’re definitely strengthening your relationship with me because I so appreciate and look forward to them.)

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Smoothie Experiment: Week 2

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This week has been full of health highs and lows.

During the first half of the week, I had a lot more energy than normal. During the last half, I felt like I’d been run over by an 18-wheeler. Fun, right?

On Tuesday, I had to take this devil medication, Prednisone, due to an onslaught of throat and stomach ulcers. The day I take it, I always feel like I’m superwoman–that I can conquer the world. But, the days following, my body feels wrecked. I hate taking it but it’s the only thing we know of that gets rid of my ulcers when I have a breakout of them. I’m still recovering from that big dose of steroids.

Here’s the day-by-day run down:

Day 6 (September 6th):

Because I was feeling nauseous, I stuck with my favorite combination of banana and frozen blueberries. Other ingredients: coconut milk, coconut ice (which is just frozen coconut water) and the superfood, maqui powder. It was creamy and delicious and it gave me energy for the rest of the day.

Day 7:

I had the Creamy Carrot recipe from Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris with the superfood, hemp seeds. I was incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed this smoothie. I had a ton of energy and didn’t have to take as much pain medicine as usual. Things seemed to be looking up.

Day 8:

I came up with my own recipe of frozen cherries, banana, coconut ice, organic raspberry lemonade and the superfood, camu powder and called it Cherry Lemonade. I loved this recipe more than any other I had tried to date. Unfortunately, my ulcers were getting worse and worse.

Day 9:

I loved Monday’s recipe so much that I decided to have it again, but I left out the coconut ice this time. I like it both ways: with and without coconut ice. I had lots of energy, because I took Prednisone which always gives me a huge boost of energy in the short term.

Day 10:

I made up my own recipe again and it tasted like a strawberry milkshake. The ingredients were frozen strawberries, banana, coconut milk, coconut ice, and superfoods, maca powder and flax powder. It was creamy and sweet and oh-so-yummy. I’m definitely going to have this one again.

Day 11:

I couldn’t believe this, but I got so wrapped up in Michelle Ward’s CreativeLive course, Create Your Dream Career (even though I already know what I wanna do when I grow up–I’m doing it!) that I completely forgot to make a smoothie. The first day of her class didn’t end until 7pm EST and then I had dinner with my husband. After we finished eating, I said to him, “OH MY GOD…I forgot to make a smoothie today. I was watching Michelle’s course all day.” Whoops!

Day 12:

Today was the type of day I created this experiment for: I’m feeling sluggish and nauseous and I barely ate. Around 5pm, I knew I needed to consume some more nutrient-packed calories so I made myself a frozen berry (blackberries, raspberries and strawberries), coconut milk and maqui powder smoothie. I gave me the energy to write up this post!

See ya next week with another update and like always, if you want daily updates, follow me on Instagram.

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Where Do Unique Ideas Come From? (And, how to stumble upon them more often.)

Where do unique ideas come from? (And, how to stumble upon them more often.) Post on Blacksburg Belle

Ninety-five percent of the time when I work with creatives one-on-one, one of the main things they want help with is making their businesses more unique or figuring out how to market and promote their unique qualities.

They want to set themselves apart from the competition. They want to become the alternative—not just another option. They want to be the BEST. They want to be a leader in their niche. They want their customers to not only love them, but to become obsessed with their businesses.

Who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want to be THE BUSINESS in their niche—the one that customers gush over and can’t get enough of?

In order to become that business, you have to start with unique ideas—novel, personality-driven products and services, exceptional blog posts, one-of-a-kind sales pages that grab your customer’s attention and pull her to buy right that very second, Instagram pictures that encompass your brand, outstanding Facebook posts that sing with your voice, etc.

It takes a lot of thought and planning to pull it off.

You might think that as a small business, you have no chance—that it’s incredibly difficult, painstaking even. You might want to give up after months of crickets and only trickles of sales.

But, if you’re pulled to do creative work, you shouldn’t give up. You were made to do this.

Many creatives have pulled it off. They’ve built unique, successful businesses that are the alternative.

Want examples cause I’ve got plenty?

Jessica Swift, Leah Duncan, Michelle Ward, Mayi Carles, Alma Loveland, Katie Daisy, Elsie and Emma, Brittni Mehlhoff, Lisa Lehmann, Anna Bond, Juliette Crane, Bonnie Christine, Ashley Goldberg, Lisa Congdon, Emily Ley

I could go and on, but I think you get it.

And, just because there are so many successful creatives already out there, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you, too. I promise you that there is, because there is only one of you. (I know that’s totally cliché and corny, but it’s also very true, especially if you believe the power in that statement.)

I want to teach you how to build this type of brand.

The type of business that stands out among the crowd of thousands. Ready to learn? If so, RSVP for my CreativeLive course right here. If you RSVP, you’ll get FREE access to the course while it’s live and access to the workbook accompanying the course (and believe me when I say that you want that workbook).

In the meantime (since I’m not teaching until November 12th), I have homework for you.

Your homework is to start coming up with as many unique ideas as possible. Ideas for new taglines, blog posts, products, product descriptions and sales pages, videos, marketing campaigns, packaging for your products, business card designs etc. Make a list of every little detail in your business and start brainstorming more ideas for those details.

Once you start, the original ideas will flow more regularly—while you’re typing up a blog post, folding laundry, washing dishes, showering, working out. You’ll be flooded with idea after idea and won’t that be awesome?

Now, you might be thinking, “That sounds great, April…but how in the heck am I supposed to just start coming up with unique ideas for my business?”

Don’t worry, my friend, I’ve got your answer.

“Nothing is original. The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original,” nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.” –Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist 

The majority of our “original” ideas are created from our experiences, the books we’ve read, the movies we’ve watched, the chats we’ve had with friends, the blogs we follow, the Instagram accounts we stalk (don’t pretend like you don’t do it), the places we’ve been.

What makes you, well, you…that’s the stuff that you get your one-of-a-kind ideas from, so they aren’t really original.

And, that’s OKAY. Seriously.

Where do unique ideas come from? (And, how to stumble upon them more often.) Post on Blacksburg Belle

We all do it. We take bits from here and dabs from there and pieces from that and we pull together something brilliant.

That’s how we come up with unique ideas for our businesses.

For example, I came up with this experiment (which I think is a smashing success) by watching booktube videos.

I realized that I should include the concept of flow and how that can make your blog so much more exciting, fun and enjoyable to read in this course from listening to a podcast on The Unmistakable Creative.

I decided to create workbooks for Blacksburg Belle (the first one will be coming soon!) from strolling through the cutest gift shop ever and stumbling upon adorable notebook after adorable notebook.

All of these ideas came from other experiences—other sources.

What makes this okay?

I never copy anyone else’s work as is. Ever. And, I often look to other niches for ideas. I take a concept that sparks a new idea for my own business and I twist it and change it, infusing it with my personality and brand. When I’m finished with it, it looks very different. The original source was just the first flash of the idea.

I always give credit where credit it due. When I introduced the blog tag idea, I included that I got the idea from watching booktube ‘tag’ videos. I didn’t pretend that I came up with the concept all by myself.

Also, when you takes bits from several different places, it will create something new–something that doesn’t resemble the original sources.

This is what all creatives do—whether they realize it or not.

“Our minds are also capable of taking random bits of input and forging brilliant connections that are not apparent on the surface. This is essentially how the creative process works—it’s the connection of multiple preexisting patterns into new solutions.” –Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative 

A jewelry artist creates a new line based on inspiration she got from her recent trip to India. An illustrator gets an idea for a set of clip art from reading a beautiful description of a flower garden in a novel and then taking a walk where she spots flowers she’s never seen before. A writer crafts a short story that mimics experiences from her childhood.

To come up with “unique” ideas on a regular basis, you need to fill up your creative tank consistently.

My challenge to you is simple. From now until my course on November 12th, I challenge you to spend 15 minutes a day filling up your creative tank: reading books, magazines and blog posts, watching movies, going to new places, listening to music, studying other artists’ work, etc.

Also, at least once a week, push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Read a book you wouldn’t normally read. Watch a movie outside of your normal genre. Go somewhere that you’ve never been. Read a magazine that you’ve never read before. Ask another creative to chat on Skype. Study a business that has no relation to your own. Read blog posts outside of your niche.

“You need to regularly seek experiences that will enlighten you, help you see the world in new ways, and open you to new ways of thinking.” –Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative 

If you do these two things, you’ll be exploding at the seams with new ideas that are unique to your niche—things that your customers and audience will be happily surprised by.

You’ll also be prepared to use my one-day course to turn your brand into something that is uniquely irresistible.

RSVP right here to watch the course live for FREE.

I would be incredibly appreciative if you’d help me spread the word, because I want to help as many creatives as possible turn their businesses from “Oh, that’s nice. I should remember to come back to this shop sometime” to “Wow. This is my new favorite shop! I want to buy everything, so I better get a second job.”

If you’re up for giving my course a shout out, here are a couple ‘click to tweets’ and a Facebook post:

Click to Tweet: Take your biz from “vanilla” to “uniquely irresistible” with @blacksburgbelle’s course. RSVP for FREE here: http://cr8.lv/aprilunique

Click to Tweet: Make your creative business uniquely irresistible with @blacksburgbelle’s @creativelive class. RSVP for FREE here: http://cr8.lv/aprilunique

Copy and Paste Facebook Post:

April from Blacksburg Belle is walking us through exactly how to take a creative business from “blah, way too vanilla” to “can’t get enough…here’s my credit card” in her CreativeLive course, Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible.

If you RSVP, you can watch the course live on November 12th from the comfort of your home in pajamas with a bucket of buttery popcorn and candy! And, you’ll get access to the accompanying workbook (which you definitely want to get your hands on) as soon as it’s available. All for FREE just by RSVPing right here: http://cr8.lv/aprilunique

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Smoothie Experiment: Week 1

This month I’ve challenged myself to drink a smoothie each day in order to see how it will impact my health.

Every smoothie is made from super healthy, organic ingredients and most include superfoods such as maqui powder, camu powder, acai powder, goji berries, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. And, I’m not adding any sugar, honey or other sweeteners to them.

Most of the smoothie recipes come from Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris and a few are recipes that I’ve come up with because I know that I’ll love the taste.

Before the month began, I ordered $125 worth of superfoods. And, I started drinking smoothies every other day for a week before the beginning of September to get my body used to the superfoods. I didn’t want to flood my body with stuff it wasn’t used to because that could make me sick and do the opposite of what I’m hoping to accomplish from this experiment.

Some days, I recorded some video and others I took pictures. If you want daily updates, follow me on Instagram!

Day 1 (September 1st):

I had the raspberry peach smoothie from Superfood Smoothies and according to the book, it’s supposed to help with heart health and bone strength. The superfood in this one was chia seeds. It was extra tart but after the first few sips, it was easier on my palate. Overall, I enjoyed it and I’ll definitely make it again. I started out this month really hopeful.

Day 2:

I had a lot more energy than I normally do. I have no idea whether the superfood smoothies were starting to help or what.

I made the peaches and cream smoothie from Superfood Smoothies and that one specifically helps with immunity and heart health. The superfoods in it were chia seeds and goji berries. I had to choke this one down, not because it tasted bad but because it looked like vomit. I’m a visual eater and when something looks disgusting, I have a very hard time eating it. I only got about half of it down before I had to stop.

Day 3:

Because I was feeling super nauseous, I made up my own smoothie. I knew that I’d like it and I didn’t want to make something that would just increase my nausea. Ingredients: frozen strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, banana, cashew milk, maqui powder. It was delicious!

Day 4:

I fell asleep in the afternoon after my call with Bryan (my content producer) from creativeLIVE. The detailed outline for my courses is done and locked! Oh yeah! I had planned on having a smoothie that afternoon as a snack but I didn’t get up, so I didn’t have one this day. Sad.

Day 5:

Again, I had a lot more energy than I normally do which is really exciting to me. One of the medications that I’m taking has made me anemic so my energy level has plummeted in the past month. Maybe these superfoods are increasing my energy? I hope so.

I made up my own recipe again: frozen blueberries, frozen banana, coconut milk, coconut ice (it’s just frozen coconut water) and camu powder. The frozen banana added some extra creaminess. It was yummy. I’ll definitely be making that one again.

See ya back here next week for another update!

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Celebrating the Anniversary of Blacksburg Belle: ‘Whipped Cream in the Face’ Game

You guys…it’s the four year anniversary of Blacksburg Belle! Yay!

First, I wanna say THANK YOU.

It’s because of you that I get to do work that I truly love. If you’re new or if you’ve been with me since the beginning (or somewhere in between), I appreciate you so very much. Every comment, email, tweet, like, share…they all mean everything to me. YOU have changed my life by being apart of my Blacksburg Belle world. Without you, this would still just be a dream.

To celebrate and have a little fun, I asked my husband if he’d play a game with me. He agreed.

It goes a little something like this: I came up with 10 questions related to Blacksburg Belle. I asked him each question and for every wrong answer, he got a plate of whipped soy cream in his face. Doesn’t that sound like the most awesome way to celebrate the anniversary of my business? I thought so. Watch below to see how he does:

Thanks for watching and continually supporting me. You’re the BEST.

If you want to make this anniversary extra special for me, I do have a favor to ask of you:

I’m teaching two new courses at creativeLIVE this November! They go together but they also work separately and I’m so crazy excited. I’m working on them day in and day out to make them the best they can possibly be. The titles are: Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep (November 10th and 11th) and Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible (November 12th).

I’d love for you to: 1) RSVP for the courses if you’re interested in joining me for FREE while it airs live. RSVP for Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep here and RSVP for Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible here. If you RSVP, you will get access to the workbooks for the courses for free as soon as they are complete. 2) Help me spread the word about my upcoming courses. Simply click on one of the tweets below to share on Twitter and/or share on Facebook. I would be soooooooo very grateful cause I’ve set a goal to have double the amount of live viewers this time around. I want to help as many creatives who need to earn more money as possible.

Click to Tweet: Get FREE access to @blacksburgbelle’s course Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep by RSVPing here: http://cr8.lv/aprilsellsleep

Click to Tweet: Get FREE access to @blacksburgbelle’s course Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible by RSVPing here: http://cr8.lv/aprilunique

P.S. If you’d like to be in the studio audience for my courses, fill out this submission form cause it’s FREE to be in the studio audience. Even if you don’t live in San Francisco (or the surrounding area), I can guarantee it’s worth the cost of the trip. You get a ton of individual attention and you get to meet others who have similar goals. You never know…you might just meet your next best friend and learn how to generate a lot more revenue for your business.

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What Affects My Business the Most and How I’m Changing It

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Many of you know that I’m chronically ill. What I have, I’m not so sure. Neither are the fifty billion doctors I’ve seen all over the freaking country.

It started a little under five years ago, a week before my wedding, when I was hospitalized for a staph infection.

The doctors told my soon-to-be husband that “he should prepare himself” because I probably wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. They advised me to cancel my wedding.

I didn’t. Seven days later I walked down the aisle and married the love of my life.

The crazy-pants antibiotics that made me vomit around the clock cured the staph infection. Yay!

I thought everything was fine. Fast forward to a year later and I was seriously ill. Like ‘want to claw my throat out’ and have to take painkillers every day kinda ill.

I saw a handful of doctors who all said the same thing: get your tonsils removed.

Done. The surgeon who removed my tonsils said that my symptoms (flu-like stuff, daily fevers, severe fatigue, throat ulcers) would most likely go away.

A couple days after getting my tonsils removed, I developed pneumonia. And, it lingered worse than your Aunt’s horrible perfume after she hugs you. For five months, I had to sleep sitting up or I wouldn’t be able to sleep cause I’d cough the entire time.

Everyone was shocked when my symptoms that were supposedly gonna disappear after I got my tonsils removed didn’t.

That started the doctor to doctor shuffle. Johns Hopkins, Wake Forest, UVA plus over fifteen local doctors. Ear, nose and throat specialists, oral dermatologists, rheumatologists, infectious disease specialists, immunology specialists and more.

Everyone wanted to do invasive testing (which I did) but no one wanted to try anything to actually treat my symptoms. Every doctor I went to basically said, “I’m stumped.”

Finally, I found a doctor who wanted to try things to alleviate my symptoms. I’m currently taking medicine that has made me anemic. Before that I tried other medications that made me violently sick to my stomach.

And, at my latest university visit, I was tested for leukemia and lymphoma because “you’ve been tested for every infectious disease and your symptoms almost always fall into one of two categories: infectious disease or cancer.”

I was told this four days before my thirty-second birthday this July.

For a week while the tests were being sent to the Mayo Clinic, my entire family was freaked out. My husband had nightmares of visiting my grave. My mom was in denial. My mother-in-law cried with me.

Cancer. No one had ever mentioned cancer seriously before. One of my doctors was concerned that I might have throat cancer but he did this horrible test where he shoved a scope/light down my nose into my throat to check for anything cancer-like and didn’t find anything. It hurt like a bitch.

Thankfully, the tests revealed that I didn’t have leukemia or lymphoma.

Phew! At that point, I thought I could handle anything. As long as it wasn’t one of those very scary diseases, I could do this.

But being sick for years has worn me down. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. And, I’m so sick of being sick.

Fevers, fatigue, constant nausea, throat and stomach ulcers, severe muscle and joint pain, and more super fun symptoms have taken over my life.

It’s so true that you don’t appreciate your health until you lose it. I would do practically anything for one week of feeling healthy cause that hasn’t happened in years. Can you imagine? I know some of you who are chronically ill can.

Anyways, I’ll get to the point of today’s post.

I’m done being carted from doctor to doctor. I’m done putting all of my hopes and wishes into my next doctor’s appointment.

I can’t tell you how many times my husband or I have said, “This doctor is going to be the one. He/she is going to know what this is and he’s going to have a plan on how to combat it.”

Then I usually leave the appointment sobbing because we traveled for hours to meet with a doctor who doesn’t have a clue what to do and paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for it.

In the past five years, I’ve accumulated more than $30,000 in medical bills. And, I have health insurance! That’s insane.

When I went to Wake Forest, I met with a specialist for about an hour and then received a medical bill for $1,968.25. What the what? You’re kidding right?

I don’t really care about the money. I mean, I do when I feel like you haven’t done anything to help me and then you charge me more than what I pay to live in my house each month. But, if a doctor actually helped me, I wouldn’t care. I’d pay whatever it took.

Being disappointed over and over and over and over sucks. It’s worse than spending thousands of dollars.

So, I’m taking my health into my own hands.

I’m not going to stop seeing my doctors or taking my medications just yet, but I’m also not going to keep relying on them to figure this crap out. I’ve seen the best of the best and they don’t know what to do besides fill me with painkillers.

When my husband and I traveled to UVA in July, we decided that if that doctor didn’t have any ideas, we needed to start taking action on our own. Meaning we needed to start experimenting with holistic, more natural methods.

Don’t get me wrong. I have tried other things besides medication. I’ve done acupuncture, meditation and seen a chiropractor for months. I got myofascial therapy for months. I eat almost all organic. I’ve completely cut gluten from my diet. But, there are lots of other things I could do: eat even better, do daily yoga, try reflexology, get weekly massages, try acupuncture with a different person, get serious about meditation, try tapping. I haven’t tried it all.

So, I’ve decided to try something semi-new or completely new each month over the next year and document it to see how it makes me feel. Monthly health experiments if you will.

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Because I truly believe that food is medicine, the first thing I’m going to do is focus on nutrition and improving the nutrients I put into my body each day.

I ordered a bunch of books on nutrition but the one I’m focusing on this month is Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris.

I ordered acai berry powder, spirulina, camu berry powder, goji berries and such. And each day in September, I’m going to consume a smoothie from this cookbook, either replacing a meal or having it for a snack.

I only eat one or two meals a day most days because I’m nauseous all the time. It’s hard to eat when every mouthful of food feels like it’s gonna come back up. I’m hoping that by adding these smoothies to my daily food intake, I’ll get more nutrients and eat at least three times a day. That’s gotta help things a little bit, right?

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I’m hopeful. We shall see.

I thought about keeping all of this to myself, because Blacksburg Belle is about helping creative entrepreneurs build successful businesses. But, when I announced that I was struggling with my health a while ago, I was inundated with emails and comments from others who are suffering from chronic illness or constant sluggishness or unhealthiness.

Your health FOR SURE impacts your business. I know it impacts mine. When I’m feeling better, I do better work and get more done.

If you want to follow along, I’m going to post updates weekly or twice monthly (depending on how much I have to share) via written posts and videos. I won’t be posting these on Wednesdays cause I want to stick to business-related stuff on Wednesdays after this post. I’m thinking Fridays.

I won’t be sending out emails about these posts, so if you want to know when these posts get published, make sure that you’re subscribed via Bloglovin or whatever blog reader you use.

Also, I’m going to update my Instagram account every day during the month of September with a photo of that day’s smoothie along with how much I like it and how it makes me feel. If you want daily updates, follow me on Instagram.

And, lastly, if you want to get healthier, I hope that you join me for some of these challenges. Maybe try healthy smoothies for breakfast for a week next month just to see how it makes you feel? Maybe it’ll increase your energy, make your skin glow, help you drop a pound or two, or just make you feel a tad bit better.

You can look for my next update and how I feel after my first five days of smoothies on Friday, September 5th. I hope to “see” you then, in the comments of course!

I’m planning as I go, so if you have done something that has vastly improved your health, let me know about it!

Has daily meditation changed your life or helped your pain management? Has acupuncture cured you? Has yoga given you more energy and increased your happiness? I might just make a monthly experiment out of it.

Comments { 85 }

An Experiment: The ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag

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Working by yourself from home can get a tad lonely.

When you say you blog, your in-real-life friends think you’re one of those weird internet people. So you don’t talk about it.

You can’t tell anyone that your business idol retweeted one of your hilarious tweets cause they just wouldn’t understand even though it made your entire day.

You can’t explain why you’ve stayed in your pajamas for two straight days, not showering cause you’ve finally figured out exactly what you want to sell and you’ve been in a creating frenzy. When you’re in the flow, you can’t stop. You just can’t. But, your nine-to-five friend won’t understand.

One of my goals for Blacksburg Belle this year was to build more community aspects—the stuff that connects each of us together. The bloggers, artists, creatives, life coaches, jewelry makers and writers who understand what you’re going through cause they’ve experienced similar things: blogs being hacked, hateful customers, feeling like a fraud, loads of doubt, excitement over that first sale, feeling like you’re gonna vomit when you realize someone actually gave you money for your ebook or necklace, and the need for more and more Instagram likes.

So, I’m starting an experiment today and I’d love to invite you to play.

Introduction time.

Have you heard of BookTube? It’s this really awesome community of people who discuss books on YouTube. I found it a month ago and I can’t get enough. I love reading and discussing books. If you’re not familiar with the BookTube community, it’s okay cause the only reason I’m telling you about it is because they make these fun “tag videos” where each booktuber discusses something specific like their favorite book couples or the worst books they’ve ever read. At the end of the discussion, they tag other booktubers to film a video discussing the topic to add to the conversation.

Basically, it’s just a way to get the community talking about a specific topic at the same time while getting to know each other better. Pretty cool, right?

Well, I’m gonna take that concept and pull it into the creative blogging world.

I’m going to pick a topic related to creative businesses or the people who run those creative businesses, make up some questions about that topic, answer them and then tag other people to answer them on their blogs.

If they accept, they either write their answers or film a video answering the questions, and publish it on their blogs with the tag title. Then, they tag other bloggers they want to see answer the questions.

That way, we’re getting to know each other even better, talking about some of the same topics at the same time and connecting on a more personal level.

If you’re at all confused, you’ll see what I mean shortly. Keep reading. (Who knows…I might’ve tagged you!)

THIS BLOG TAG TOPIC: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I thought it was only fitting that we start by getting to know some of our favorite bloggers and each other much more personally.

Here are the questions and my answers for this topic.

Question 1: How tall are you?

Answer: 5’3”. I’m short. When my husband and I first met, he used to call me shorty cause he’s a foot taller than me. Romantic nickname, right? Not!

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

I’m double-jointed. Does that count?

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

Having to “sign in” to comment. I don’t want to jump through hoops to add to your conversation or tell you that I love your post.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

People who blow their noses at the table when people are still eating. GROSS. ME. OUT.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. Cheesy? Yes, but I can’t help but dance every single time I hear it.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

Coco and Bubbles—best candles ever. Favorite scent: Lavender + Vanilla.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Reading young adult books.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Potato chips of basically any flavor.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

Three dogs, all lab mixes and their names are Kaya, Max and Dubbya (Yep, like as in the president, George W cause we thought he was a tad mentally slow when he was born. My husband named him and I laughed harder than I have in my entire life when he came up with that name. Obviously, we were meant to be.)

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Fiction: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Nonfiction: Eat, Pray, Love

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product or tool?

The bombshell. It’s a curling iron.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

About a week ago, the police and animal control were outside of our house because we called them when we found a dog roaming around the neighborhood and couldn’t find his home. No tag. It was embarrassing because neighbors were staring like we were in trouble or doing something crazy. Mind your business, people.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Honest tea. My preciousssss.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

The Little Mermaid.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Cheerleader.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Blacksburg, VA. Go Hokies!

Question 17: PC or Mac?

Mac for life.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

Husband brought me flowers today cause he’s sweet like that.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Chelsea Handler cause she’s hilarious.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

Kris Carr.

I’m tagging these ten people to do this ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag by answering these same questions in a blog post:

1. Mayi Carles cause she’s one of my bestest friends and I still don’t know all of her answers from these questions.

2. Kris with a K cause I think we’d totally be friends in real life and I wanna know her even better.

3. Jessica Swift cause I can’t get enough of her art. LOVE IT so very much! And, she’s such a bubbly, sweet person. All around awesome.

4. Lisa Lehmann cause I love her personal-ish blog posts. And, she creates the most beautiful jewelry for our world.

5. Sage Grayson cause she’s adorable, smart and so much fun.

6. Bonnie from Going Home to Roost cause we recently connected via creativeLIVE (thank you, Bryan), her course was AMAZING and I’d love to know her better.

7. Meghan from Meghan G Photography cause she recently left her day job to go full-time with her business! Yay Meghan! (And, who doesn’t wanna know their photographer a little bit better before signing a contract to photograph the most romantic day of their life?)

8. Emily from Indieshopography cause she seriously cracks me up on a regular basis. I wanna know how she’d answer some of these questions.

9. Jennifer Kennedy from Create Amazing Online Courses cause she’s super sweet and I loved getting know her when she attended my creativeLIVE course.

10. YOU! Tag, you’re it.

Here’s how you play:

1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.

2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)

3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment below with the link to your post.

4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!

As you can see from my answers, your answers can be super short.

If you want an intro to include at the beginning or end of your post, here’s one:

This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here.

Let’s get to know each other and build the best community vibe ever.

(Disclaimer: It’s totally cool to NOT participate if I tagged you and you either: don’t want to do it or don’t have the time. You won’t totally crush my feelings.)

Easily copy and paste the questions below OR read when you film your video:

Question 1: How tall are you?

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Question 17: PC or Mac?

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

If this goes well, I might make this a monthly thing (while tagging new people and choosing a new topic each time) for the next six months or so to build community.

If it flops, oh well. This could be the first and last. I’m experimenting!

Comments { 80 }

Stop Being a Selfish Twit

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You know what’s not okay?

Selfishness. Full-fledged selfishness.

It makes me ANGRY. Can you tell?

Business owners who only think about themselves burn their connections, frustrate their customers and give off that snotty arrogance that nobody likes. It might take a little while, but your true jerkface colors will eventually shine through.

And, if you’re a small business (as in it’s only you or it’s you and an assistant or you and a couple of freelancers), it’s pretty darn obvious when all you care about is you.

I get it.

You’re in it to win it. (Forgive the cheeseball sayin’.) You want to succeed. You need to make money. You’re constantly thinking about how to get more customers, how to better your website, how to get more likes on Instagram and retweets on Twitter and how to get your mom to stop referring to your online jewelry store as “that little thing you do on the internet.”

But, come on. You’ve got to give, too.

I know this is a little more rant-y of a blog post than I usually publish, but a few things have happened recently that have put me in a rant kind of mood.

Think about all the other people who are working their butts off to build their businesses. Think about all the other creatives who are putting their art into the world to make it a more lovely place. Think about all of the customers who are giving you their hard-earned money.

Signs you’re being waaaaay too selfish:

You don’t give away any of your time. (For instance, I set aside about 10% of my work time for answering non-customer emails, doing interviews that I think will help other creatives, helping other people promote their stuff—usually via social media and answering questions I receive on social media. I also write and publish blog posts for free—to help my business and creatives who don’t have the money to invest in my higher priced courses.)

You don’t give a little support to someone (like tweeting about her latest product when she sent you easy-to-copy tweets) you call a friend and who has always given you and your business support.

Your Twitter feed is all self-promotional. If you haven’t re-tweeted someone else’s blog post, given a shout out to another creative entrepreneur or said something nice about someone else in the past month, what are you waiting for?

You mention someone else or someone else’s product in a blog post, but you don’t include a link. Without a link, it doesn’t really count.

You NEVER link to other people’s stuff in your blog posts because you don’t want your readers to ever leave your site. (Why don’t you just set the link to open in a new window?)

You don’t give credit where credit is due.

You steal someone else’s concept, design, photograph, illustration or copy and pretend it’s your own. (Just to clarify, I’m not talking about designing something that you actually thought of on your own and then you find out that someone else has created something that looks kinda similar. That happens. I’m talking about intentionally stealing.)

You want to steal someone else’s concept, illustration, idea, design or copy and you know it’s wrong, so you ask them if you can also use it. Or, you email them afterward, telling them that you were inspired by their work—when actually you just copied pretty much every single thing. (I’ve had this happen more than 10 times. I’m not kidding.)

You’re called out on intentionally copying and you say that “you’ve changed enough things that it’s different enough that you aren’t legally obligated to do anything about it.” (Ummmm…are you serious? How about be original? And, the last person who said that to me lost that legal battle. Take that.)

You’re mean to your customers because they have questions.

You’re rude to someone because she hasn’t actually bought from you yet.

You don’t give someone the time of day because she isn’t as “big” as you. Maybe she only has twenty followers on Twitter and five blog readers, so you ignore her. (I recently had a business treat me really bad, so I mentioned it on social media cause I was fuming. They immediately reached out to me, because they saw how many followers I had (I’m not Beyonce or anything but they were scared) and they wanted to contain the situation. That’s the only way I got their attention and I had tried calling customer service and going to the actual business to work out the issue. They didn’t pay attention to me until they thought my talking about it would impact them negatively. Then they wanted to fix it immediately. Complete selfish jerkfaces.)

You don’t say “thank you.” (Whenever a customer comes to me with an issue like she can’t download my digital book because her link isn’t active anymore, I always try to remember to thank her for buying from me first. Cause I am very thankful. Then, I fix her problem ASAP.)

You don’t ever go out of your way to help someone else succeed. When you receive that handmade purse you ordered off Etsy, take a picture and share it on Instagram. How good would that make you feel if someone did that for you? Spread the love!

You never “help” someone else unless you think something is in it for you.

This might be a tad harsh, but we all need a little wake up call every now and then, right?

I’m not saying that I’m perfect. Not by any means. Selfishness is human nature. There have been plenty of times that I’ve reminded myself to stop thinking about just me.

I’m hoping this post inspires you to do better. Give more. Think about others. And, maybe laugh a little? The word twit always cracks me up and how could you take that photo seriously?

It feels so darn good to help others and give. So why not bake that into your day or week? Start each day by doing something to help someone else.

My challenge to you (even if you haven’t been very selfish lately) is to do something for someone else right now.

Need some ideas? I’ve got you covered:

  1. Tweet about the helpful video you watched on YouTube yesterday.
  2. Say yes to an interview that might help other creative entrepreneurs.
  3. Take a picture of the handmade necklace you bought two weeks ago and post it on Facebook with a link to where others can buy it.
  4. Link to an amazing blog that you highly recommend others read in the blog post you’re currently writing.
  5. Write an email to someone that might need a little support and ask her if there’s anything you can do for her.
  6. Write an email to a blogger who inspires you, letting her know that you love her work and don’t ask for anything in return.
  7. Leave a thoughtful comment on a blog post that doesn’t have a single comment.

Then, leave a comment below letting us all know what you did. That way you spread the love even further and give us even more ideas on how we can support and encourage each other.

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The Two Markets You’re Ignoring (And How You Can Double or Triple Your Profits)

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All creative businesses have at least three target markets, and most business owners are ignoring two of them.

Yep, it’s true. You’re probably neglecting people who would love to hand over their credit cards to you.

The three markets I’m talking about are: 1) the people who want to buy your product (the necklace, mittens, handbag, body scrub, etc.), 2) the DIYers who want to make it for themselves, and 3) the people who want to learn how to start a business like yours.

You’re always going to have customers who want your product, made by you.

They don’t have the time or skills to make it themselves. They just want to order it, get it and use it.

Like the customer who buys your organic apricot facial scrub for an indulgence. She’s recreating the spa at home, and the last thing she wants to do is battle traffic to go to the grocery and health food stores to hunt for all the ingredients and then come home and create a disaster, including piles of dirty dishes, in her kitchen while trying to make the scrub herself. That defeats the point for her. She’d much rather pay you $16.

But, you’re also always going to have customers who love to DIY and troll Etsy and Pinterest for stuff they can try to make themselves.

Instead of buying your embroidery hoop art, they’d love to buy a PDF pattern of your adorable bumble bee design to embroider it themselves.

You might never want to sell to DIYers, especially if you’re the type of creative who could never imagine giving out her trade secrets. And, that’s okay.

But, it’s important to recognize that those people exist and that there’s potentially a lot of money to be made.

Why would you want to sell to that market? Well, I’ve got a few good reasons:

1. Lots of times when you’re selling patterns, ebooks, or tutorials, you only have to create something once and then you get to sell it over and over and over and over and…well, I think you get it. Basically, you can sell it while you sleep, without having to wake up the next morning and make each thing you sold. It gets delivered upon purchase, so you make more money without having to do anymore work. Talk about magical.

It’s much easier than creating every product by hand. In that scenario, you’re trading money for time and you can never get more than twenty-four hours a day. You’re limited to how much you can make—product and money-wise.

I’ve worked with creatives who’ve added patterns and tutorials to their revenue streams and doubled or tripled their profits in a couple months without adding more work hours to their days. Sounds kinda great right?

2. There’s a huge DIY population, people who love to make and create and who would never ever buy your handmade products because they want to make the stuff themselves. For example, I’m a knitter so I hardly ever buy hand-knit products. But, I do buy lots of knitting patterns.

3. You can serve people who can’t afford your handmade products. I’m a huge Alabama Chanin fan but $3,860 for a dress is a big deal for me. I didn’t spend that much on my wedding dress and I’m not a millionaire. So, I’ve been creating my own Alabama Chanin pieces (my poncho is almost done!) with the help of the Alabama Chanin books and patterns. I still support her business by buying her books and fabric.

This isn’t the right direction for every business, but it’s something to contemplate because it works really well for many creative businesses.

You have the option of making your patterns and tutorials available for personal use only—that way you can still sell your handmade creations without direct competition.

And, then there’s the third market: the people who want to learn how you do what you do so they can start a business like yours.

Knitters who want to sell their own knitted creations. Illustrators who want to learn about licensing and how to break into the freelance scene. Jewelry artists who want to know the ins and outs of setting up their own jewelry business and selling retail.

They’re looking for classes, books, guides—anything that’ll help them get there faster.

If you’re a natural teacher and love public speaking, this is another market you could tap into and make money from.

You could write a series of ebooks, put together workbooks, offer online courses, teach in person, and apply to speak at conferences. The options are unlimited thanks to the glorious internet.

If you can’t fall asleep at night cause you’re wondering how you’re going to make your handmade business work long-term, these other revenue streams might be just the thing that’ll derail your nightmares and allow you to sleep easy.

If you’re getting overwhelmed by the amount of creating you have to do every day to make your business profitable, these other revenue streams could free up your time while overflowing your piggy bank. Cha-ching!

If you’re thinking that this all sounds great but you have no idea where to start, you’re in luck. I’ll be teaching a course on creating digital and information products that sell at CreativeLive November 10th-12th. You can join me in the live audience or watch from home with a big bowl of popcorn for FREE. Mark your calendars now and I’ll be sharing more info soon!

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How My Website Has Affected My Business

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One of my favorite web designers, Emily Thompson, asked me to participate in her blog tour on how my website has affected/grown my business.

Well, that’s easy. I wouldn’t have a business without a website.

Seriously.

It’s how I’ve launched all of my products and courses. It’s how I’ve “met” the majority of my customers. It’s how I’ve shown people that I know what I’m talking about.

Without my website, I can’t tell you where I’d be. It’s unimaginable to me.

Starting my blog changed everything for me.

Within a few months, I had hundreds of readers. People who otherwise wouldn’t know anything about me or what I offer.

I connected with my business partner, Mayi Carles, through my blog.

Etsy “found me” through my blog and featured many of my blog posts and asked me to speak at the first Etsy Success Symposium.

Kimberly Palmer, author and journalist, read my blog and loved it. She interviewed me for U.S. News and World Report and featured my business in her book, The Economy of You.

One of the executive producers of creativeLIVE, Elizabeth, checked out my blog when thinking about asking me to lead a workshop for them. Obviously, she liked what she read, right?

My blog is my place to be me, share my ideas with the world and connect with other creative minds. It’s my online home. It’s my brand.

Now, here’s the thing you’ve got to realize: I started waaaay before I was ready. I started with a shoddy web design and hired that out six months later.

I didn’t know exactly what topics I was going to cover or what my blog posts would look like. I didn’t know much about my target market or what I’d sell. I just started with one blog post and grew from there.

If you’re waiting until everything is perfect, you’ll be waiting forever. It’s much better to learn as you go. You’ll figure it out. But, you’ve got to start somewhere.

What’s the next step you need to take to establish your online home? Or, what’s the next step you need to take to use your website to grow your business?

This blog post is part of a blog tour to let you know about a fabulous ecourse, Indie Headquarters, that’ll teach you the foundations of building your brand online. Registration is open until July 10th, so check it out now!

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