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last updated:
June 3, 2016


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Reading time: 2 min.

Content is king, they say.

As a copywriter, I make my livelihood off content drafting: I’m supposed to push all my chips across the table at that statement and nod my head in agreement.

But I don’t. I don’t believe content is king.

If anything, I believe connection is king.

It’s been a month, and it took nary a week under the past four to unpack box-by-box the learnings I gleaned from Illume Retreat. And while I can swindle content and draft copy ’til the cows come home, it’s building relationships at one creative conference and through one local meet-up group* that set my business aflame.

Illume Retreat Creative Conferences Creativepreneur Illume Retreat Creative Conferences Creativepreneur

The Idea Planted

Fresh off my second-ever Rising Tide Society meet-up, my new friend Christina Scalera’s words rang in my ears: “Ashlyn, you need to go. It changed my business.” I snuck around the building corner at my corporate job a few weeks later. Shivering on the phone, I launched into the pitch to my husband. Registration opened in mere minutes … what if it filled!? “Wes, what do you think about this idea I have. I really am interested in this creative retreat, but it’s so expensive …”

This online ecosystem of creativepreneurs hadn’t even crossed my radar. I just knew I wanted to be my own boss and get out of my high-stress job. With Wes’s encouragement, I had started to see there was an Ashlyn-sized hole in the market I could walk into, and I was itching to take a risk and walk into this call I felt.

Worth Every Penny

But that call I felt? It was the community of 15 women at Illume Retreat that turned dials and sharpened the image for me.

Sinking $4 grand into my fledgling business — onto a credit card, much less — was the scariest investment, I’ve made to date. I packed my cutest outfits, wiped my sweaty palms together, and boarded a plane to ATX ready for my first creative conference.

But at our ice-breaker floral arranging class, I noticed they were normal. Bonnie Bahktiari, Jenna Kutcher. Kat Schmoyer. Katie Selvidge. Laura Joseph. Shanna Skidmore. Shalyn Nelson. They were normal. These creative-industry success stories were so. very. normal.

Tablescaped conversation bonded our little tribe so you couldn’t even tell who was an attendee and who was a speaker, and two days of workshops and small groups answered the tough questions:

If I lost it all, would I still be proud of this business chance I took? Absolutely.
How much is enough to make financially?
Is there enough work out there to go around? Yes.
What does a budget and my number look like?
How do I outsource?
Is anxiety normal? What about fear — how do I deal with that?

Lysa Terkeurst says good writers are good noticers of life. Bonnie’s draped Illume in beauty, from its location selection looking over Lake Travis, to treasure boxes of gifts and textures. But I think mostly, Illume celebrated noticing each other and how we can spur on another women’s business.

So, no. Though I’m a writer, and I don’t believe content is king. I believe relationship drives small business, cultivates purposeful profitability, better than any ‘ole content generating plan does.


Reading Time: 3 Minutes

It’s been a month, and it took nary a week under the past four to unpack box-by-box the learnings I gleaned from Illume Retreat. And while I can swindle content and draft copy ’til the cows come home, it’s building relationships at one creative conference and through one local meet-up group* that set my business aflame.


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comments +

  1. Bonnie Bakhtiari says:

    Sweet Ashlyn! I am so grateful for you, your incredible heart, and that our paths crossed at Illume this April. Thank you so much for sharing candidly about your experience. It means the world! Sending a huge hug your way, friend. xo

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