Lately (I mean pretty much the entirety of 2020), it has been a weird internet for those of us who depend on the interwebs economy to run our creative small businesses, provide for, support our families, and our livelihood.
We’ve poured sweat, blood, and tears into building our creative small businesses … and suddenly, 2020 hit.😁😁
I’ve gotten so many emails and DMs the past few months asking the same questions that I have been wrestling with myself👇👇
How do you sit down at your desk and do work when it feels like a little drop in the bucket compared to all the heaviness that is going on in the world right now?
What do you say when you *don’t exactly* know what to say?
We’ve come too far to stop now in our businesses: we have the opportunity to foster change, love others, and serve right where we are.
This is a deviance FOR SURE from copywriting tips, but today I wanted to take you behind the scenes and talk to you a little bit more about how I have been working through this myself.
No. 1| Build a sunshine folder
I’ve had so many moments lately where I look at what is going on in my neighborhood and it’s SO heavy—there are so many thoughts spinning in my head. Then I come into my office, I sit down and look at my to-do list that says “make a YouTube video about Facebook ad copy”, and I think to myself…is that really even helpful right now? If you’ve had moments of wondering why your work even matters in 2020, then know I have struggled with the very same thing, and here’s a story that’s helped me out a lot. You’ve probably heard it before.
It goes something like this….
There was a little boy standing on a seashore and there were so many washed-up starfish. So one by one, he was picking up a starfish and flinging it back into the sea so the starfish could continue to have life. An older man came up to him and chuckled and said, “Are you really going to try to get every single one of those starfish back in the ocean?” The little boy picked up another starfish, looked at it, threw it back into the ocean and said, “Well, I made a world of difference to that one single starfish.”
There is no way that you or I can help everybody. There’s no way that even either of us is going to be for everybody. That is okay. BUT if you can make a difference to that one person, would it still be worth it for you?
I keep a folder in my work Gmail that is labeled sunshine and it’s colored yellow. Anytime I get any sort of email about something that I have done in a work capacity that influenced someone, impacted them, changed their life, shifted the way that they do business, helped them make more sales so they can support their family, etc—those emails go straight into the sunshine folder.
Until lately, I wasn’t doing a good job at going back and actually *opening* it and reading it. I need this. Negative bias in neuroscience has been studied for decades, that idea and the concept that our brains just latch onto these negative thoughts.
You have to train your brain to think and dwell on the positive.
No. 2 | Throw yourself into a client project
As creative CEOs, we should be spending time working on our business (not in our business, as the saying goes). However, I would argue for going back to the basics, that bread and butter of what you actually do, and the reason that you do that. During this month, I knew it was going to be a little bit quieter from the outside looking in on my business. I knew that I wanted to schedule this specific client project that I had.
It was a dream client project (there’s actually a photo of this client on my desk), who I’ve wanted to work with her for years. I just kept thinking that one day I could land that job, and I finally did. Getting to pour myself into that creative project during the past few weeks has been life-giving.
Now, there’s a tension and a balance here because I know that some of us can get, *cough me cough*, so obsessed with client work that we put it before everything else in our business. However, if you’re finding yourself paralyzed or not knowing what to say, then go back to the starfish. Go back to that one person, that one client project and give it your all.
Sometimes the bread and butter work that got you in this whole thing to start with can be medicine for the soul.
No. 3| Create work for yourself that’s not shown publicly
Being paid for what we creatively and passionately love to do puts us in a little bit of a unique position. Let me tell you an example of somebody I think who’s doing this so well. My sweet dear friend, Abby, is a photographer, but specifically, for the year 2020, she is doing one self-portraiture project every single month. She designs, creatively directs, plans out everything, and then she shoots it herself. The work has been ~sooo~ beautiful. Anddd she’s just doing this project for her.👏👏
How are you creatively filling what you do with work that will likely never see the light of day?
My craft is writing and in this past month, I have filled notebooks with thoughts as I watch videos and notes from reading books but that is never going to come out on the internet, right? And that’s okay.
No. 4| Rework your goals
You all know I love my goal setting and how much I loveeeeee my PowerSheets. Spending chunks of time digging into goals and dreams that I had is life-giving.
If you’re struggling or feeling paralyzed or frozen and like your work doesn’t matter, then go back to those goals and dreams that you may have written down before somewhere. What small, tiny action steps can you make towards those and what weekly things can you do to get back on track? I talk about playing the long game all the time and going back and even reading through my goals is one way that I remind myself, okay, this is what it’s all for.
No. 5| Freshen up your systems.
Okay, all my creative people can relate to this probably. Raise your hand if you get bored easily? 🙋 🙋
I love systems and routines, buttttt I get bored easily and have to change them up a little bit. We have reworked our Asana, we’ve gone back in and looked at our client workflow and seen how we can tighten that up or where things need to be added along the way.
Even my daily task lists, I’ve looked at and thought…” I actually want or need to do all these things that are on these lists? Or do I need to change it up a little bit?” Changing my background in my Asana, changing the background of my desktop, cleaning things up, just looking at everything with a fresh coat of paint on it.
Maybe it’s the digital version of like having a back to school outfit 😉 *BUT* it reminds me to get back in there and keep going, keep showing up.
No. 6| Clarify what you believe
Soooo, that likely means you ~may~ need to get off the internet—at least a little bit. Yes, there is a time to speak, but I want to remind you specifically, those of you who are Christians, to be even-tempered and to be slow to speak as you figure out where your business and your voice fit in in all of this.
Right now, having a creative small business that markets online, which is pretty much all small businesses, especially since 2020, may mean getting really super clear on your “why”. I’m a big fan of questioning the narrative, poking holes at something and pushing it, and seeing how the other side can always be argued. I’ve been doing that in my own business and I would encourage you to do the same.
The bottom line: You are NOT alone if you have felt unsure about your next move this year as an entrepreneur and as a creative small business owner.
I know this was a bit different from what I typically do with copywriting tips, but I hope it serves as an encouragement and a reminder to you to stay the course, to be faithful, to do the work at hand. Tweak the systems if you have to, but know that your work matters as a creative entrepreneur.