3 Things I Wish I Knew A Year Ago
True story: a year ago this week I added a note to Evernote titled ‘What I Wish I Knew a Year Ago’ and set a reminder to go off in 12 months time.
I had just set up this site, and had decided to start focussing more on helping fellow creatives with marketing and the business-end of things, which I would do by doing what I loved most: blogging.
My health and fitness blog was an entertaining past-time, and whilst my pet portraiture business stayed a float: it was draining me and kind of made me want to never draw another f*cking pug again.
With a clean slate, and a scarcely populated blog, I began what is now The Creative Introvert.
In all honesty, I had no idea about how I’d monetise it; if I’d monetise it; and basically had no aim.
Just to help the creatives I saw producing brilliant work – but who just couldn’t stomach, let alone understand, what it took to GET IT OUT to their perfect audience.
The one thing I knew was that in a year, I’d be able to look back and think ‘Huh. That’s where this started.’
So, I figured setting a reminder on Evernote would be one way to remind me to pause, take a step back and evaluate the past year.
Time freakin flies.
So here it is.
A blog post intended for past-Cat, from present-Cat. Should I ever be able to time travel – this is what I’d tell her:
1. It’s always your choice
Whilst I can’t control everything that happens (and I would if I could) I CAN choose how to respond to what happens.
For example, yesterday this happened.
My life, my love, my MacBook.
This time, no amount of P+R+cmd… worked. It’s in the shop now, and my prayers are with her.
Ok: but seriously. Yes this Mac is my business, and yes it’s an expensive problem to have: but in that moment of realising there was nothing I could do: I found some kind of peace.
You might think ‘yeah yeah, #firstworldproblems’ and I would agree with you. Rationally, past-Cat would have agreed too…
But she still would have FREAKED out.
We’re talking temper tantrum, tears, a ruined day and a pint of Ben + Jerry’s.
Present-Cat carried on with her day, sent some necessary emails from her tablet, and used it as an excuse to get the paints out.
This is the kind of choice we face every single day.
We can’t choose our circumstances, but we can do our very best to choose our responses.
2. Impatience is your friend (and foe)
I am the first to admit impatience is one of my top three vices.
It used to be a problem. I’d take it personally if a friend made me wait for them to arrive. If a bus was late? Lord help us all.
But I’ve come to see it’s virtue, especially in my business.
I have no problem ‘just shipping’ something. This month I learned I can turn around a brand, website and Facebook ads campaign in a week – if all goes accordingly.
When that little bugger of a voice says: ‘You can’t do that! You don’t know how!’ I can say, sternly: ‘Hm. You may be right, but I can learn and I can start right NOW. Watch me.’
Which has been invaluable this last year.
Of course, impatience makes life uncomfortable, especially when you’re in a ‘seed sowing’ phase, and not a ‘reaping’ phase (to use an oddly Biblical analogy.)
But I’m doing my best to curb my impatience – when I need to.
3. The power of email
Not the sexiest lesson, but probably the most important.
OH how I wish I’d sent more emails to strangers before this year.
Even when I went freelance in 2013, I was terrified about reaching out to people online.
They felt like genius , almost mythical celebrities – and if I was to bother them? I’d spontaneously burst into flames OBVIOUSLY.
Slowly, I’ve realised that – this is not the case.
My daily habit to reach out to one new person every day (for example, a thank you email or an idea to collaborate) has paid off exponentially in my business – and in personal friendships.
It’s so obvious now I look back on it.
As an introvert, I express myself best in written form.
I also happen to love to write.
As soon as I lost the belief that all emails must be super formal and brief and professional: things started to flow. I now enjoy sending my daily ‘love letters’ regardless of whether I get a reply.
What really keeps me going is the responses I do get from people who GET me.
I have heaps saved in my ‘feel good folder.’
One of my highlights of this year was getting a YES from Janet Murray; someone whose podcast has been a staple for my ears this year, and who I was dying to talk to.
Having her give me kudos for my email etiquette on her show was, yes enough to turn my face as red as my hair, but also made my week. Month?
Yes, a little time each day spent reaching out to a stranger can go a long, long way. It not only builds strong foundations for future relationships (which, like it or loathe it is a NECESSARY part of any business!) but also builds confidence.
I said it – the c word. I’ll save my rant about confidence boosting self-help books for now; but I will say this: the more baby steps you take towards your goal; the more scary things you try; the ‘bigger’ you feel.
I’m not sure how else to put that.
So I’ll leave you there. Hopefully those 3 nuggets will be of use if you’re in a sticking point with all this online business creative stuff.
And to past-Cat: remember it will all look better tomorrow.