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July 2017

Knowing Your Self-Worth and When to Walk Away
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Sam Chat: Knowing Your Self-Worth and When to Walk Away

After feeling the pressure to get a job right after I graduated college, I learned an unexpected but important lesson in the “real world”: know your self-worth and stand firmly by it.

A Short-Lived Rest Period

I’ve always been a busy-bee. I’m the kind of person that goes a little stir crazy when I don’t have something to work on after a while. Right after I graduated I didn’t worry about too much. I wasn’t sending my resume out to anyone just yet, I wasn’t stressing over post-grad life, and I stumbled across Kathryn Schwarzenegger’s book “I Just Graduated … Now What?: Honest Answers from Those Who Have Been There.” It was a nice reminder that other college graduates are taking that time period to explore what path is right for them. And another reminder that, “Hellooo no one else has it figured out at 22. So, relax Sam.”

That lasted about one week. I knew I wanted to pursue acting and screenwriting, and even the idea of starting this blog was in the back of my mind, but I suddenly felt the pressure of needing to get a job ASAP. The more people asked, “So, what are your plans now?” or “So, what do you plan to do with your degree?” I felt it piling on.  I felt like if I wasn’t doing something, I was just wasting my time.

Job Hunting

So, I quickly jumped onto the computer and started submitting my resume to everything I was remotely interested in. Any kind of writing job you could think of, I applied to it. Eventually, I landed a writing job that was mainly remote with an in-person check-in once a week or every other week. I thought that sounded great! It was a nice part-time job to start with that would still allow me to pursue my other creative endeavors.

One of my first assignments was to do product descriptions. Simple enough, right? They wanted you to make each one similar yet different, not too long yet not too short, and don’t use the same three words in a row so there would no confusion with plagiarism. Needless to say, I was calling my advisor saying that the amount of product descriptions they wanted me to do by the end of the week (we’re talking in the hundreds) it seemed nearly impossible. This was far from the part-time work-from-home job I was described upon getting hired. It took up enough time to be a full-time job. They told me I was doing it wrong and spending too much time on each description. After a few pointers and tricks of the trade I felt like maybe I had a handle on this.

Cut to a few months later: I was drowning. By this time, I was not only getting calls at abnormal working hours to do something that wasn’t related to the job I was hired to do, like Photoshopping photos, I was running multiple social media accounts, and still doing writing assignments. Well…it all came tumbling down with one writing assignment. When I was told to go in and take over for another writer and do descriptions exactly how she did them, I did as I was told. 700 product descriptions later, the company says the descriptions for each product are too short and it’s my job (and on my dime) to go back and fix it. Even though they are just as long as the first writer’s descriptions, they don’t care. When I say that I don’t have time to do that by the deadline and it was their fault for not clarifying the first writer did them wrong, they tell me I have to complete the job or I won’t get paid for any of it.

Manipulation At Its Finest

Did I mention the writers here get paid by the hour? And by the hour I mean by how long THEY think it should take for you to finish a project? Yes, something that wasn’t told to me during the beginning of starting this job. When I tried to communicate the frustration, they basically told me in so many words that I was dispensable as a writer. I wasn’t going to get paid if I didn’t do as they say, and would only get paid probably half of the hours that it took me to actually complete the job.  At this point, it felt like manipulation at its finest.

Recognizing My Self-Worth

That’s when I knew. I am worth more than this. I knew that my skills were an asset, whether that company realized it or not. And I knew that on some level, I was being bullied into getting paid way less than what I deserved to get. Any company, person, or project that doesn’t see what you bring to the table and who more or less thinks of you as dispensable, is not worth your time or energy. Know your self-worth and stand firmly by it. 

The Inner Fear Voice

Sometimes walking away can make you feel like you accomplished nothing; I know I felt that way. But what you accomplished on one path is not a measure of your self-worth. Walking away doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you stronger for recognizing your own personal value. And in a different light, you might actually have accomplished a better sense of self-worth in the process. Quiet that inner voice that tells you you’re a failure if you walk away. That inner voice is just fear talking.

Don’t Settle for Quantity over Quality

I knew in the end that it wasn’t worth drowning in a job I hated and who didn’t value me just because I allowed myself to feel pressure to get a job. In turn, I didn’t want to work for a company who took on a quantity over quality attitude and didn’t create a supportive and encouraging work environment. Any single person or company who is manipulative like that doesn’t deserve to be in your life, work-wise or personal. Always remember that you are unique in your own way and if you work hard, you are not dispensable.

Have you ever gone through something similar? Let me know in a comment below by scrolling to the bottom!

 

 

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Spotlight on Constant Creatives: Interview with Queen Shirin. An interview series where I interview the "constant creatives" of the world: artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers!
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Spotlight On Constant Creatives: Interview with Queen Shirin

I’m really excited to introduce a new interview series on the blog called Spotlight on Constant Creatives. There are so many creative people out there who are pushing past boundaries, stretching the idea of being a “creative” and showing the world that you don’t have to be confined to one passion. I wanted to start this series so we could hear from all the people that make up this community of artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers.

I’m ecstatic to have a very smart, pun-loving, talented fellow blogger and friend come onto the blog to share her journey and advice with you all! Her makeup tutorials are outta this world, she creates really fun YouTube videos thanks to her editing skills, and her answer to one of the Quick Six questions (person she would meet dead or alive) is surprisingly fitting and says a lot about the unique person that she is. Read on for all the greatness that is beauty-guru Shirin Nahvi of Queen Shirin!

Can you introduce yourself and tell everyone about who you are and what you do?

Spotlight on Constant Creatives: Interview with Queen ShirinHi, everyone! My name is Shirin and I am a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle YouTuber and blogger. Thank you so much, Sam, for having me on Constant Creative!

Have you always considered yourself a creative?

Yes! My mom is an architect and my grandpa is an artist, so being creative is basically in my blood. Since childhood, my passions and hobbies included artistic endeavors from playing violin to telling stories to being behind the camera. I was obsessed with taking pictures and videos. Clearly, nothing has changed.

What led you to take that leap into starting your own blog and Youtube channel?

When I was in middle school, I taught myself HTML and CSS from reading the codes for custom site layout themes on Neopets. One of my biggest inspirations is Jessica Kobeissi, an amazingly talented photographer, who at the time had a blog featuring tons of graphic design tutorials that I followed to create custom blog headers and backgrounds. Through combining my coding and design skills, I started my first blog where I posted about my daily life and connected with fellow bloggers from Neopets.

Around the same time, I discovered the YouTube beauty world and started watching tons of makeup videos. I realized I wanted to be a creator instead of a viewer, so I started my first YouTube channel during middle school and posted a now-cringeworthy video about socks and shoes, neither of which exist anymore. After that video, I stopped posting because I thought I needed to have long hair in order to be a beauty YouTuber since all the creators I watched at the time had long hair. Looking back, that was honestly such a silly thought.

Fast forward to 2010, I created my Queen Shirin YouTube channel. Throughout high school and college, I uploaded videos sporadically, as focusing on school and getting good grades was my priority, and ran an extremely neglected blog that was meant to accompany my channel. Upon graduation, I briefly worked at a digital media company that worked with YouTubers and influencers before deciding I wanted to pursue YouTube full-time. Thus, I quit my job, started making videos more consistently, and launched my third and current blog, www.queenshirin.com.

When did you first get into makeup and beauty?

At some point in elementary school, I wanted to start shopping for my own clothes and accessories instead of my parents buying them for me. As I developed my own fashion style, beauty came hand-in-hand. I enjoyed playing around with different hairstyles and doing my nails.

While running my first blog, I was so fascinated with photos of lip art and creative makeup looks I found online that my site graphics started to include images of models with artistic makeup. I didn’t start wearing makeup until high school, and by makeup I mean experimenting with my mom’s eyeshadows. Halloween 2009, I dressed up as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and followed Kandee Johnson’s makeup tutorial for the look. I’ve been into makeup ever since.

You also have a passion for film and screenwriting (we met in college where we both received degrees in Screenwriting), where do you plan to go with that? Anything in the works right now?

YouTube! I find that a lot of screenwriting elements, from structure to storytelling, translate over to creating a YouTube video. Yes, even for creating a makeup tutorial or product review! Having a video planned out before filming allows me to present information in a way that is engaging, educational, and concise. I recently started a Beauty Editing 101 series, where I teach tips and tricks about editing beauty photos and videos, but I also plan on adding a comedy series to my channel.

Being a blogger/Youtuber has its ups and downs. Can you name a moment of failure or a hurdle you overcame that you ultimately learned from?

Learning to stop comparing myself to others is something I’ve had to overcome and still remind myself. It’s so easy to look at other people’s content and ask yourself why your work doesn’t look as good as theirs. In fact, I’m still learning how to properly blend my eyeshadow. I know that in time, with practice and patience, I’ll get better. I’m not perfect and that’s ok. Strive for improvement, not perfection. Trust me, it’s less stressful that way. This is coming from a perfectionist.

You’re passionate about so many things: film, writing, graphic design, beauty, fashion, the list goes on and on! How do you think not allowing yourself to be defined by one thing has shaped you?

I find myself constantly incorporating each of my passions into my content. For instance, my YouTube videos allow me to combine my film, writing, and graphic design skills with fashion and beauty. My blog graphics also display my design skills. By combining my passions, I’m able to further showcase my style and personality.

How has your blog/Youtube channel evolved since you first started?

Spotlight on Constant Creatives: Interview with Queen Shirin

Basically, my channel and blog reflect my interests. As I continue to grow and evolve, so does my content. When I first started, I posted mainly makeup and nail art tutorials, DIY’s, and outfit videos. Then, I went through a phase where I was really into baking and making healthy recipes, so I started uploading food videos. Now, I still upload beauty videos, but plan to include comedy, as well.

Additionally, I filmed using natural light and edited all my videos on my iPhone when I first started. Since then, I’ve invested in lighting, editing, and camera equipment which have significantly improved my production quality.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own creative business or go after something they’re passionate about?

Do it! But, take calculated risks. Have a business plan or set goals so you know what you are working toward and have a way to get where you want to be. Have some money saved up so you can support yourself while launching your business.

My top three tips are to research the industry you want to pursue, be patient, and surround yourself with a strong support system. Becoming an expert in your field will give you a cutting edge. However, success does not (typically) happen overnight. It’s easy to get caught up in the analytics and get frustrated about not getting enough likes or views, but the more content you put out, the more chances people have of finding you. I know more often than not, friends and family won’t always understand what you want to do nor will they support you. That’s ok. Support can come from people other than just friends and family. There are several online communities, like Facebook or Reddit groups for bloggers and YouTubers, that are designed to support one another. I definitely recommend checking these out and being a member of these groups. There’s a good chance you’ll make some new friends while you’re at it!

You said you’re a big fan of self-teaching. Is that something you think our generation has a leg up on? What resources have you turned to, to learn a new skill?

Absolutely! Our generation has access to such a vast amount of resources that you can teach yourself almost anything or connect with someone who you’d like to learn from by reaching out to them via social media. YouTube is one of my go-to sites for learning new skills, especially video editing techniques. I also love checking out educational books from the library.

I love that inspiration can come in so many shapes and sizes. Where, who, or what do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from lots of different sources, from music to movies to photographers and everything in between. I frequently reference Pinterest and Instagram for makeup look ideas and flatlay compositions. As far as editing style goes, I pull a lot of inspiration from Teni Panosian. I love her cinematic style and aim to create a similar feel in my videos.

How do you believe you stand out amongst other beauty and lifestyle influencers? I think a lot of young people that are considering starting a blog or Youtube channel are worried about the market being too saturated, what’s your opinion on that?

While the market is definitely saturated, the world of influencers is still relatively new and growing. There is room for everyone to succeed. Also, more brands are starting to work with micro-influencers as opposed to the top content creators, so if you’ve ever wanted to start your own blog or YouTube channel, now is the time.

What’s a dream of yours that you hope to accomplish in the coming years?

I would love to start my own beauty line.

What message do you want your audience to get from your content? What inspiration do you want them to pull from you?

I seek to inspire my audience to be confident in their own skin as well as empower them to be the best version of themselves.

I love your style! You really go for it in so many of your Instagram posts and Youtube videos. Can you tell me about your aesthetic and how you feel it reflects who you are?

Aw, thank you! My aesthetic is colorful, yet simple. I like having a white or neutral themed background and using a pop of color for my subject, whether that’s my eye makeup or products. My personality is calm and fun, which mirrors my white/neutral and colorful aesthetic.

Lastly, how are you a “Constant Creative”?

Being an active learner and continually seeking out ways to improve myself makes me a “Constant Creative”.

Quick Six

  • Favorite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Influencer you would love to do a collaboration with? Teni Panosian
  • Tv show you’re addicted to: Jane the Virgin
  • Destination on your bucket list: Egypt
  • A person, dead or alive, you want to meet: Richard Branson
  • Favorite thing about having a Youtube channel: Connecting with people around the world

What was your favorite thing about this interview? Tell me in a comment below!

Thanks so much Shirin for having such an inspiring conversation with me and telling everyone about yourself and what you do! You can follow Shirin on Instagram @queenshirin or on her YouTube channel.

Liked this interview with Queen Shirin? Save this post below on Pinterest so you can return to it again for inspiration!

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How Finishing Mundane Tasks Can Lead to Creative Productivity
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Finishing Mundane Tasks Can Lead to Creative Productivity

Sometimes the path to creative productivity is a road less traveled when you’re willing to go out of the norm. Today I wanted to talk about the idea that digging into your daily chore list or completing an otherwise mundane task can lead you to become unblocked creatively on the project you desperately need to gain momentum on. Whether it’s a plot line for your novel, a color scheme for your latest painting, or even a blog post that you just can’t seem to sit down and let the words flow, the answer to your problems might just be the laundry you’ve been dreading to fold.

Cooperating with the Creative Process

One of the biggest challenges for me as a writer is sitting down to do the work. Often times, I feel like I will do everything else BUT sit down to finish my scripts. I’ve come to know my habits however, and part of the reason I do that is because I am a type-A perfectionist and I want my story lines and my dialogue to be perfect before I even sit down to write. I also get impatient. I just want it to be finished already, especially because I can see it so clear in my head! I’m not asking too much am I? For it to be all perfect before I even start?! I know, I know. I thought so.

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity,” says Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way. “That, and surprise. All too often, when we say we want to be creative, we mean that we want to be able to be productive. Now, to be creative is to be productive—but by cooperating with the creative process, not forcing it.”

So what I’ve learned to do is to trust the creative process, not force it.

Treat Your Work Like a Cupcake

Yes, like a cupcake. Your story, your painting, your blog post…whatever your project is that you’re feeling blocked with, it needs time to bake. And sometimes when you sit down to delve deep into your project, you’re just creatively blocked because the right ideas haven’t come along yet. No one knows how frustrating that is more than me. But treat your project like a cupcake. Give it time to blend together and rise!

To Begin, Begin. Or…Finish Something Else

Often times the best way to get through that gray period where you’re feeling blocked, frustrated, and unproductive is to go do a nagging chore. Yes, I’m actually telling you to go do the laundry which you hate, the dishes that you despise, or drag yourself to the gym that you’ve been avoiding. How in the world does this relate back to finishing that creative project? Because sometimes completing a mundane task has a funny way of leading us into the perfect idea for our story or hitting us smack in the face with a blog post title that will make your fingers fly across the keyboard to get it out. That “dark period” where you feel like a complete failure because you just can’t get into that productive creative flow can be a tricky state. But in a weird reverse psychology way, the art of finishing something seems to be a nice remedy to your beginning.

A Mundane Task: Part of Creative Discovery

As Julia Cameron puts it in The Artist’s Way, “We are an ambitious society, and it is often difficult for us to cultivate forms of creativity that do not directly serve us and our career goals.”

So while you may think that going for a dreaded run or doing laundry will do nothing to unblock you or push you along in the creative project that you just can’t seem to be productive with, it actually can very much do the opposite.

“Many hobbies involve a form of artist-brain mulling that leads to enormous creative breakthroughs. When I have a screenwriting student stuck at the midpoint of act two, I ask them to please go do their household mending. They usually balk, offended by such a mundane task, but sewing has a nice way of mending up plots,” says Cameron.

It’s hard to do things that at first seem like they won’t further our goals or our career. I don’t think any of us are exactly thinking, “Okay, first vacuum and then I’ll be straight on my way to being a New York Times Best Seller!” But creating order in our life can suddenly put in us the need to create order in our creative project, which then turns to productivity. The routine of doing another task can often jump start our creativity and even the sense of accomplishment that we feel when finishing a nagging task. Suddenly you go from 0 to 100 with a newfound sense of energy and purpose with your work.

The Answers to Your Creative Productivity Questions

When unfinished work presents itself, a million questions can run through your mind. I know when I’m stuck on a specific scene I’m working on, I’m usually asking myself a thousand “what if” questions. “What if this character does this instead of that?” “What if my plot goes this way instead of that?” Completing a mundane task can sometimes provide the answers to those questions.

Cameron gives a great example of this in The Artist’s Way (last quote I promise). She talks about a woman, a designer, who bicycles home from work every day. The rhythmic and repetitive motion provides solutions to her most nagging creative questions that block her from being productive and coming up with simple design solutions. When bicycling, “Solutions just come. Somehow, I am freed to free-associate, and things begin to fall into place.”

Takeaways

So, go clean your room, take a shower, put the dishes away, or take a run. These everyday mundane tasks are itching to get your creative juices flowing, whether or not you think they are. These chores just might be the needed step towards unblocking yourself/your creativity. How else do you think I got this blog post done 😉

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10 Influential Women to Read, Watch, or Listen to For Major Inspiration

influential women to read, watch, or listen to for major inspiration

There are honestly so many inspiring and influential women out there, but I thought I would share 10 women that ignite passion, motivation, and encouragement in their own unique ways. Whether it’s through their blogs, books, podcasts, or Youtube channels, all of these women will bring some serious inspiration into your life!

1.   Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company:

When I came across Lauren’s blog during the building stages of my website, it was like stumbling across a treasure chest of all things branding, growing your business, creating amazing content, and SO much more! For any creative entrepreneur out there, this is one woman you don’t want to miss. Every single one of her blog posts is so helpful, she truly focuses on serving her readers, and her content is unmistakable, it’s that good. When I say that, I really mean EVERY single blog post is purposeful and I walk away from reading with a new idea or strategy for my business. Not only does she have a blog, but she goes above and beyond with her Elle Chats, a weekly webinar, and she also offers E-courses (I can’t wait to sign up for the Adobe one)

2.   Maya of Shameless Maya:

If the name doesn’t already give it away, Maya Washington is an extremely talented and influential Youtuber who inspires you to share who you are and celebrate that shamelessly! I love her videos because she really encourages you to go out there and not care what other people think and to follow your passion with all your heart. Maya has an unmistakable style and vibe about her that will make you binge watch all her videos! I also love her Tech Talk videos, they’re super informational in an engaging way. Also talk about being a #ConstantCreative, Maya is also a creative producer and actor who stars in Google’s Original Series, God Complx and Feature Film, Alaska is a Drag.

3.   Hannah Gale:

The first blog I ever read of hers made me laugh out loud, literally! This gal is so funny, down to earth, and also quite inspiring. Her wit and humor will draw you in, but her well thought out blog posts with thoughtful content will keep you there. She’s all about being YOU, whatever that may look like. She shares her life and her heart on her blog and also on her YouTube channel. She’s a major influencer in the blogging/beauty/fashion world and you should check her out ASAP.

4.   Natalie Franke of The Rising Tide Society:

Being in The Rising Tide Society has changed my journey as a creative and so has the incredibly inspiring Natalie Franke. In the spirit of #communityovercompetition, Natalie started a community where creative entrepreneurs can band together to encourage, learn with, and inspire each other. Whether it’s through the Facebook page (which is nearing 100,000 members quickly and you should absolutely join as a creative) or via the weekly TuesdaysTogether the Rising Tide Society holds, she’s a voice in the creative community this generation needs. Natalie has her own blog with such valuable content and she also has a pretty strong vlogging game on her Youtube channel! Maybe it’s because she started The Rising Tide Society in her early 20’s or maybe it’s because she likes coffee as much as I do, either way, she’s one influential and inspiring chick!

5.   Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess:

This was one of the first blogs I EVER read, isn’t that crazy? I remember checking their blog religiously to see if they had added any new posts, I was obsessed. Sisters Elsie and Emma have created an empire with A Beautiful Mess and it’s for good reason. Their blog really resonates with me because you can see that they’re passionate about different things and didn’t want to be confined to one topic, a lot like myself I would say. Plus, their blog is total eye –candy! On A Beautiful Mess, you’ll find blogs on everything from food, décor, hair tutorials, crafts, blogging, travel, fashion, you name it! They truly have a colorful outlook on life that makes them stand apart from the crowd and inspires people like me (and you) every day! Elsie and Emma not only have a blog, but they also have an entire shop full of books, apps, classes, planners, a Happy Mail subscription, and so much more! What else could they possibly have?! Oh yeah, a popular DIY Youtube channel. If I had to say what I hope my blog will become one day, A Beautiful Mess has set the standard for me!

6.   Maya Elious:

You can pretty much just call her the content queen! She helps creative women strategize with purpose-driven content and the second I downloaded one of her guides, I was hooked! She has a killer blog and so many freebies that will challenge you with your content in the best way possible. Maya also has a YouTube channel that I recently came across and she’s all about helping you find your purpose and grow overall as a person. All of her videos are so inspiring, SO uplifting, and really encouraging. I think she said it best when she says: “It’s time for you to step into your purpose, strategize your business, and be the boss you know you’re meant to be.

7.   Reese Witherspoon:

Not only is she one of my all-time favorite actresses (and I hope I get to work with her one day) but she also started a #ForTheLoveOfReading book club that’s run exclusively on Instagram called @rwbookclub. There’s no formal website, instead she starts a conversation with her followers to pick the next book—the perfect kind of book club for the Millennial generation, right? I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to books and the written word and I love that she’s keeping book clubs alive in this social media driven world. Also, she puts out AMAZING film and television content with her Pacific Standard production company who focuses primarily on female-driven stories. So yeah, #GoReeseGo

8.   Julie Solomon:

Oh man, it was like hitting a gold mine with Julie! I stumbled across her Instagram which eventually led me to her Pitch It Perfect course and that was one of the best decisions I could have made since I knew I eventually wanted to start my own blog, and here we are! Her Pitch It Perfect course is a must-do and I really walked away from that course feeling so much more confident in navigation collaborations and reaching out to brands. There’s even more good stuff on branding, pitching, blogging, and social media on her blog. She also just launched an amazing podcast called The Influencer podcast that’s my latest addiction! Seriously, this is another one that I have on repeat in my car because I love soaking up all the great information this podcast has. I love that she is so passionate about what she does, but in such a relatable way. She’s so encouraging and engaged with her audience, I know you will feel the same way about her too!

9.   Jenna Kutcher:

She’s another one that I gush about to people all the time, this girl is the real deal! You really do end up feeling like her best friend after reading her blog or listening to her podcast—both which absolutely top the blogging and podcasting charts, at least in my opinion. I actually came across The Goal Digger Podcast first and I think that’s all I listened to in my car for a week straight! Jenna Kutcher has lots to say about marketing, growing your business, and being your most authentic self in every part of life. She’s not afraid to be herself and consistently talks about her love for Mac n Cheese too, which is fine by me because pasta is my must-have. Go check her out! (And let me know when you’ve been down the JK rabbit hole of goodness for days and days).

10.   Joanna Gaines:

The woman of the year! Joanna Gaines is everywhere these days because her style and outlook on life is inspiring and so contagious! You probably know her from HGTV’s Fixer Upper where you’ll find lots of inspiration for your home and shiplap for days, but she also has a book that she wrote with her husband Chip called The Magnolia Story. This book is SO good it will make you feel motivated, empowered, and ready to put in the hard work it takes to accomplish your dreams. You can also read more from Joanna in their magazine, The Magnolia Journal. One of my favorite parts of the journal is the “A Note From Jo,” heart-felt musings from Jo herself about the little things in life that matter a lot. Reading those pages, and the Manifesto in the back of the journal, make me feel like I’m sitting on a back porch getting advice from my Mom or wise older sister. Her words are just a beautiful as her heart and she truly inspires me!

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WhyYouShouldNeverPutYourEtsyShopOnVacationMode
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Why You Should Never Put Your Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

Summer time and the livin’s easy, right? Right, BUT if you have an Etsy shop I strongly urge you to take the road less traveled and do not put your shop on Vacation Mode. It really seems like a simple fix, however putting your shop on vacation mode can do more damage in the long run even if it gives you a temporary break to relax. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way and I would love to be a little vulnerable and show you a behind-the-scenes look at how this move has affected my shop since last year. I realize that this may not happen to every single Etsy shop out there, but it’s my hope that sharing this with you will show you a possibility of what could happen.

Learning The Hard Way With My Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

I’ve been selling on Etsy with my shop WritersWire for five years, since 2013, and a lot has changed on Etsy throughout the years. For the most part, there have been a lot of improvements (maybe up until this year). But I’ve had to learn the hard way with some things because Etsy just doesn’t provide certain information to its users. And if you’ve ever gone Googling for answers like I have, information found in Etsy forums, on Reddit, or even in Facebook groups can be really confusing—everyone has an opinion on everything and most of the time they are completely contradicting!

In August 2016, I put my shop on Vacation Mode for 90 days. A long time to be in vacation mode, but something I felt I had to do. The first leg of my vacation mode was so I could travel and I wouldn’t be in a space to still ship orders. The other leg and the main reason I wanted to put my shop on vacation mode was because I was going through a re-brand and adding new and different products to my shop, including going through mountains and valleys trying to find the right manufacturer for certain new products. By the time I was ready to open my shop back up I had improved photos, better SEO and keywords, updated listing descriptions, updated about me/my story pages, and more. It was a total upgrade in every way. One thing was for certain, I had never come across information telling me putting my shop on vacation mode could negatively affect my shop.

Vague Information

Something you may not know is that when you put your shop on Vacation Mode, your products won’t appear in their search engine. If someone types in your shop’s exact name, that should show up, but even if you were ranked on the first page for “coffee mugs,” your product won’t be there as a suggested listing once you’re in Vacation Mode. There was so much positive talk around the fact that potential customers can still see your listings in your shop even if they just can’t purchase, that I thought my shop would be fine. I had an announcement in my shop stating why I was in Vacation Mode, when I was returning, and that customers can feel free to reach out if needed—but once I returned, I found that none of the things I did to improve my shop actually did so. Maybe you can see why I was swayed that going into Vacation Mode wasn’t a bad thing when this is what I find on Etsy’s Vacation Mode information page:

etyshoponvacationmode

 

It does tell you that your shop won’t show up in their search engines, but it’s vague information.

What I Wish Etsy Would Tell You

What I wish Etsy would explicitly say is that “your shop will most likely be negatively affected by going into vacation mode. And the longer you’re in vacation mode, the harder it will be to recover.” I truly thought that once I hit active again, the orders would start coming in regularly like before. I thought my stats would return to normal after my first few weeks of opening back up, but I was so so wrong.

From my research, it seems like if you are in Vacation Mode for longer than 30 days, once you do return it will be like starting over. STARTING OVER! Remember those first few months where you were checking your email every second to see if you had a new order? Or when you were doing everything you could to show up in Etsy’s search rankings and checking back every minute to see if you ranked higher yet? Yeah, it’s like that once your shop is active again after such a break. Your shop views will go down, your orders and revenue won’t be the same, and the traffic to your shop will change too. I’m slowly but surely just seeing a change 1 year later. Yep, a whole entire year later and I’m finally seeing upward movement. Slow upward movement I should say, and that’s after ferociously pinning my products on Pinterest, trying Etsy advertising for a little bit, and everything else under the sun.

Behind The Curtains: My Shop Stats Since Vacation Mode

I’m going to do something a little scary and show you behind the curtains of my shop. I want to be completely transparent and show you some stats so you can see for yourself. The truth is that being an Etsy shop seller isn’t always fun and easy. While my stats have improved during this season of my Etsy shop, below are recent screenshots of the stats in my shop in recent previous months and the hit I’ve taken since last year, specifically after I went into Vacation Mode.

As you can see, below is a screenshot of my stats from April 2017 – May 2017, about five months after opening my shop up again. My visits had decreased by 85% and my orders were down by 63%! That is a HUGE decrease. I was getting 6,764 visits during that same time period in the previous year.

 

whyyoushouldneverputyouretsyshoponvacationmode

My traffic has also drastically changed. Below is a screenshot looking at my year totals of traffic. Not just the numbers, although going from 46,000 to 8,800 is a big change, but the sources of traffic also changed. Before Vacation Mode, I was getting so much direct traffic, meaning traffic that came from people typing in my URL to their browser or who had saved/bookmarked my Etsy shop and would return.

 

why you should never put your etsy shop on vacation mode

This year, my biggest traffic source is from social media. Specifically, Pinterest brings in 60 of the 67% of my social media traffic. However, my direct traffic is only at 26% this year. While it’s my second biggest source of traffic, it’s still nothing like it was last year.

why you should never put your etsy shop on vacation mode

What Can You Do To Prevent These Side Effects From Hitting Your Shop?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives to Vacation Mode except to outsource help. My first suggestion would be to determine if you truly need to go into Vacation Mode. When you put your shop in Vacation Mode you are turning potential customers into most-likely-wont-be-customers due to the fact that they can’t actually see your listings in the Etsy search and can’t buy any of your products. If you will be away too long and not in a position to package or ship your products, can you hire a temporary assistant to cover these duties? My good friend Lexy of Lexy Olivia, who has a huge following with her bookmarks, has been upfront with her customers and followers on social media in the past of when she will be away and has hired a temporary assistant to fill her orders. Her audience understands and would rather have the option to buy a bookmark when they want as opposed to waiting for when she returns.

Now, I completely understand the other point of view with this argument; when you have no other choice but to put your shop on Vacation Mode. However, I strongly urge you to think of your Etsy shop like a real in-person boutique shop. You wouldn’t just up and close for a few weeks or months, would you? You would likely outsource help for the time that you had to be away. The luxury of having an online shop is so that it can be flexible with your lifestyle and it’s something YOU are in control of. That can be both a blessing and a curse, though. You have the power, with owning an Etsy shop, to shut down for however long you want. If that’s truly your only option, there are times in life when we have to do what’s best for our mental health, our family, or whatever your hurdle may be. However, you and your shop are also the only person that will take a hit from doing this. You may not have the financial means to hire a temporary assistant if and when you find yourself in a position to take a short leave of absence from the shop, but I hope this post will help you to see the possible outcome of doing so.

Tips If You Must Absolutely Put Your Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

You might find yourself with no alternative, and if I’m being totally honest I’m not sure these things below truly helped me if I’m just slowly seeing results 1 years later. However, maybe your experience will be different.

  1. Put up a shop announcement (super easy in Settings > Options > Vacation Mode > Vacation Announcement ) stating that your Etsy shop will be on Vacation Mode and give an expected return date. If you will be without wifi for a certain amount of time, you can also enter an auto-reply so your potential customers will know why you might be absent.
  2. If possible, respond in a timely manner to anyone that messages you. Really, this should be no different than how you usually run your shop, but being extra “on it” with your customer service and conversations might give potential customers a reason to wait until you’re back and they can purchase from you again.
  3. Take this time to improve your shop’s keywords, SEO, and photos. There are lots of helpful articles on improving your Etsy shop’s SEO, Keywords, Photos, and more (like the ones I just linked to, click on them!) If you’re putting yourself in a position where you can’t sell anything, try to squeeze in time to improve your shop.

The Bottom Line

There are Etsy sellers and shops who have gone into Vacation Mode and don’t see any negative effects when they return (read almost any Etsy forum and you will see responses like this), but that was most definitely not my experience and I had no one to tell me the possible outcome.

I hope that this post shows you a possible alternative of going into Vacation Mode so you can make an informed decision when this question arises in your business. Have you experienced these same difficulties in your shop? Or do you have a different experience you’d like to share? Tell me in the comments below! You can browse my Etsy shop here on my site or directly from Etsy too!

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Talking With Confidence About What You Do in Work and Life
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Talking with Confidence About What You Do

It’s not easy talking with confidence about what you do, especially for creatives. There are a lot of millennial creatives (myself included) who don’t live a typical 9-5 lifestyle and that can make it both hard to explain what we do on a day-to-day and stressful to justify turning our passions into a profitable way of life.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Speaking about what you do in a confident, shameless way extends beyond telling others a fact about you or where your interests lie. It’s a window into your purpose and leading with this confidence not only shows people who you are, but it also helps guide yourself too.

Especially as a new blogger, this topic is something I want to start a conversation around with millennials. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to tell people that you’re starting something new and it takes a lot of guts to talk about that new blog, or side business, or creative venture you’re pursuing. It doesn’t always come easy for me to unabashedly talk about what I’m working on because it’s not a “safety guaranteed” way of life. There are times when I have to take a deep breath and remind myself not to shy away from it. However, I think that’s all the more reason to lead off with conviction in what you do.

For me personally, this is something I’ve struggled with over the years. I remember even back in high school it was easy for me to talk about writing and how that’s what I wanted to do in life, but I hid behind that. Writing wasn’t all I was interested in, but I didn’t have the confidence to say I was also interested in acting, filmmaking, etc.

Looking back on it, there are a few reasons why I wasn’t confident enough in years past:

  1. I was never the loudest personality in the room. I’m outgoing, but always more of an observer. I really thought that there was no way people would ever see me as an actor because I wasn’t the life of the party or the ___ theater kid. However, hindsight is 20/20 and there was no way anyone was ever going to think of me as more than the girl who wants to be a screenwriter because I never had the guts to say otherwise.
  2. No one else my age was running a small business (or so it felt). So, I always felt shy talking about my Etsy shop because I felt freakishly interested in online marketing, product launches, and small business statistics with no one my age to talk about it with. Today I’d be willing to bet that there were more people my age who did have side businesses, but were also shy to talk about it. I’ve also come to realize that it didn’t matter. Who cares if I was the only one who had an Etsy shop at 18? I needed to learn to own it.
  3. The lifestyle of any creative is never really a steady one. I had that drive in me to be successful, but I always felt pressured to go with the job that would tell people I would have the most security. More than that, I felt the negative stigma that came with telling people I was interested in certain creative endeavors that also happened to be so unsteady. There would be no office for me to go into every day and no boss to report to except myself. “Another LA screenwriter, another LA actor,” and maybe some people did think those things. But it was up to me to start talking with confidence about what I want to do and talk about MYSELF with confidence and passion. That was the only way there would be a silver lining in such an unsteady environment. I cared incredibly too much what people thought of me. To this day, it’s something I actively have to surrender. At the end of the day, being confident in who you are and what you want to do says so much about yourself and that’s the only opinion that should matter, your own one.

Post-Grad Questions: Now That You’re An Adult…

I remember after I graduated college it seemed as if I was flooded with questions about what I want to do, what jobs I’ve applied for, the list goes on and on. The truth was that I was the one that put the most pressure on myself to make a good impression and that’s when the fear of talking about what I do and what I’m passionate about would creep in. As creatives, we get a lot of eye-roll from people that think we sit at home and scroll through Facebook all day, and the thing is I totally get it. I understand why people think that, when the access to pajamas, our laptop, and Rice Krispy cereal are within reach. But that’s exactly WHY  talking with confidence about what you do, about your business, and about what you’re passionate about.

There’s a stigma that bloggers can’t make a living off blogging and that new bloggers shouldn’t even enter the market because it’s so over-saturated. I completely disagree with this kind of thinking. There is always room for someone who is passionate about what they want to do and share with the world. It will be unique because you’ll make it unique with your own perspective. If you’re the kind of person that’s still not convinced though…

Here’s 3 reasons why stepping into your passions with purpose and confidence is so important:

  1. Networking. Talking with confidence about what you do is not only important when you’re around people from your industry, but also when you’re around strangers and ordinary people. It seems like it’s always a friend of a friend or that girl from the bar that happens to be the one person that will put you in connection with someone for a promotion or collaboration.
  2. Connection. Not only for networking purposes, but owning what you do and shamelessly telling people about it with that fire in your eyes creates an unforgettable connection. People remember you when you can talk about yourself and what you do with confidence. On a personal level, it’s not only more interesting when you can speak about what you do in this way but it’s a more accurate depiction of who you are as a person. Maybe you work a full-time job, but you’re SO passionate about your Etsy shop you recently started. By not telling people about that part of your story, you’re doing yourself a disservice. That’s part of who you are and you probably spend more time talking about that side hustle and that creative aspect of your life, than your office job.
  3. Put it out there in the universe. I think there’s some truth to this so-called secret to life. You know when you have someone or something on your mind that you’ve been dreaming about and suddenly it comes true or shows up in your life? I think the same goes for talking about what you love to do with that faith and conviction. When you do it enough, it’s bound to make an impact in your life and in others.

Ultimately, this fear just extends into caring what people thought of me WAY too much. The truth is that I still struggle with this today, but over the last year and a half I have come into my own confidence a lot more. Sure, there are conversations when people ask me what I do and it’s scary to lead off with that surefootedness of what I do and what I’m passionate about, but that’s first and foremost who I am. I know I can say without a doubt that I feel so much better after a conversation where I shamelessly described who I am and what I love. I know the same will be true for you when you lead off with that confident foot too. Check out my manifesto for a glimpse into how I want to lead with confidence.

Leave a comment below if this is something you feel you struggle with too, or have in the past! I’d love to hear from you!

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Sam Chat: The Story Behind Constant Creative & How I Started Blogging
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Sam Chat: The Story Behind Constant Creative

Many of you have asked..…just kidding. No one has asked because this blog is brand spankin’ new, but! I figured that some of you might be curious why I chose the name Constant Creative for my blog and wanted to give a little backstory on how I started blogging.

Trial and Error

This blog was a long time coming and something I wanted to do for a while. I started a different blog years ago that was linked to my Etsy shop (this embarrassing blog shall not be named), but it was all over the place and completely unorganized. Most days I would post pictures of the cards I made and occasionally there would be a post on my favorite makeup picks from Bobbi Brown (still my go-to) or my favorite coffee shops in LA. I also decided to run a short story contest one time, and to my surprise someone actually entered haha. But I didn’t stick with that blog for very long for a few reasons:

  • I expected to have readers and comments right away. I thought that by my blog being out there on the internet I would gain traffic fast. Nope, I was so wrong. Having these kinds of expectations didn’t help either, because I got discouraged pretty quickly and didn’t stick with it.
  • There was no focus to that blog! I was an Etsy shop blog + lifestyle blog + creative writing blog + whatever else popped into my head. I had no direction.
  • The research wasn’t there. I had no idea the work that went into having a blog and probably wasn’t 100% interested or committed. I had no idea what a brand was, that you needed good photography or to post regularly, and I opened the blog through wordpress.com, as in blogname.wordpress.com and I really thought I was set. There’s nothing wrong with starting a blog there, but I still didn’t do my research!

No Niche For Me…Sort Of

Fast forward to today and this blog fell into place faster than I thought it would. Reasons I held back for so long were because I honestly thought no one would want to read it, I didn’t know what to focus on because I felt interested in a variety of things, and I thought that the market was already so saturated with bloggers, how would I ever stand out?

How could I talk about all the things I felt passionate about without being all over the place like before? I didn’t want to corner myself into a small niche, especially one that I wasn’t 100% into. I knew that if I became a fashion blogger who linked to clothes all the time or started a blog that focused on writing or acting specifically, I would fall short of connecting to my audience due to burn out from writing or posting about one specific thing day in and day out that I wasn’t 100% passionate about. While many people are successful and benefit from being in a smaller niche, I knew that I didn’t want my blog to be too narrow or I would be setting myself up for failure. I would venture to say that having a creative living + lifestyle blog is in its own niche, but it’s one that works for me.

Like a Glass Slipper

One day while at a friend’s house, I was talking with her mom about life and what I currently had going on. Her response to me listing off a few different endeavors was, “Wow, you are constantly doing something creative. That’s awesome!” Almost like an epiphany, it hit me. In honor of staying true to myself, why not start a blog about all the creative things I’m always doing? A creative living blog. The bloggers I connect to the most are the ones that I can tell truly love the things they’re talking about. For me, that’s anything creative. I wanted to be able to share about ALL the creative things I’m passionate about, not just one aspect.

For so long, I held back because I thought that being passionate in multiple things meant that I was committed to none of them. To a certain extent, I think that’s true. I don’t think you can be a pro golfer at the same time as trying to become an astronaut. And the only reason I don’t think that’s possible is because there’s not enough time in the day. If there was, then power to you!  However, I think it should be celebrated when people are creative and passionate about a handful of things.

Thus, Constant Creative was born. The second that name entered my brain it was as if the glass slipper fit and it felt so good! I know that I’ll be my most authentic self if I show my audience that I’m passionate about different things and I love to be creative. The best part is that creativity really expands so wide and means so many different things! For me, creative living extends all the way from art to business to creating a life you love.

I wanted not only to share about the creative things I have going on in my own life, but creative things I’m learning more and more about every day. I wanted my blog to talk about starting your own creative business and being a cheerleader for any woman that’s thinking about starting a side hustle, or trying a new art, or taking a leap to make something she’s always wanted to create. I discover creative inspiration from new things every day. Some surprise me, like how it really feels creative to bake a new dessert or to put together an outfit or travel to a new place. Other times, I seek to know more about living a creative life and stumble upon the most interesting answers, people, and ideas. I’m so excited to share it ALL with you here.

The Journey Ahead

I have so much to learn on this blogging journey but I couldn’t be happier about it! What’s exciting to me is all the doors that blogging opens; all the people, places, collaborations and new perspectives I wouldn’t get to see otherwise.  If you’re joining me on this journey, make sure to stop by and say hi! Scroll down and leave a comment, I’d love to know about who you are, what you do, where you’re from and where you’re going!

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The Story Behind Constant Creative and How I Started Blogging

 

 

 

 

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