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Archive of ‘We are Adventurers’ category

Navigating an art career, with Claudine Hellmuth {PODCAST}

Claudine Hellmuth Interview on Tara Swiger's podcast

 

Yay! Today I’m thrilled to have my very first podcast guest: Claudine Hellmuth!

Claudine’s an author, illustrator and designer, who’s been featured in The New York Times, The Martha Stewart Show, HSN, HGTV and more! I first picked up her first book waaay back, 10 years ago! I was delighted to talk to (and learn from!) someone who’s navigated many opportunities and options(licensing, publishing, etsy shop)  in her art career and how she gets it all done.

 

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We talk about: 

  • The path to her first book deal
  • The truth of licensing deals
  • The importance of celebration in your art career
  • The difference between making for committee and making what you love
  • “People buy your joy”
  • How Claudine spends her days (and the productivity “rule” she breaks)
  • Being the World’s Best Boss
  • What we’re enthusiastic about! (It may surprise you!)

Links we discussed: 

 

You can find more about Claudine, her work, and her blog at CollageArtist.com.

(Don’t forget – if you love the show, leave a review on iTunes and Instagram or tweet what you do while you listen and tag it with #exploreyourenthusiasm)

Listening to an interview with Claudine Hellmuth at TaraSwiger.com

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review! This helps it spread!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).
  • If you want to get all the blog posts, email lessons + links to the podcast in your inbox, subscribe via email.

Find all the podcast episodes here.

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Adventures in Business, with Vanessa Laven

Vanessa Laven

Today I’m sharing an adventure with Starship Captain Vanessa Laven. Vanessa writes at Mixed Martial Arts and Craft about kicking cancer’s butt with grace and flair + makes  plushie body parts over at Survival Organs

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a full-time entrepreneur. But what’s a normal day for you really like?

A normal day starts on my house chores as I figure out what needs to be blogged about and what items need to be made for my shop. This is assuming I’m also not working through a headache or migraine. I get them so frequently that I only let myself sleep them off if they’re at a pain level of 8 or 9 out of 10. Anything less than that and I have to suck it up and push through. If I wasn’t that hard on myself, nothing would get done – either biz wise or in my personal life. Oh and as a cancer survivor, I also have doctor’s appointments and support group meetings to juggle and I have to see if I’m physically feeling up for a martial arts class. While my doctor’s appointments aren’t every week any more, they do take up most of my day so I need to account for that. Often I end up working after dinner or on the weekends.

There are so many ways to make a living as a biz owner – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed?

I’m doing it by taking my time! One step at a time and I keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. Since this is a new path that I’m finally strong enough to go down, I’m writing down where I want to be, what that looks like and how I can get it. I do this by keeping track of my expenses, making notes on what my customers respond to (or don’t) and generally what does success look like, feel like, act like? Trying to capture what my dreams are, using all of my senses, has helped make them more concrete and achievable.

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What new thing are you exploring now?

I’m currently exploring new organs for my shop, new expressions for their faces and writing more about how to take life one stitch at a time! I’m also exploring how to teach people that they are their own guru.

What’s your definition of success in your business?

For me, success is more about how many people reach out and let me know how I’ve helped them. During chemotherapy, there were almost no personal blogs that I could find talking about the day to day aspects of cancer. I found lots of clinical websites but I wanted to hear from a cancer survivor’s mouth directly. I’ve taken it upon myself to do just that. But it’s more than just about reaching cancer survivors. I want to help people who feel ready to make a lasting change in their life. With Survival Organs, I’m reaching out to people who need a good laugh or a reason to find something humorous in their life.

What’s the next destination you’re working towards?

My next major project is to finish the first round of edits to my surviving cancer and chemo guide! It’s huge, it’s a scary task but it’s something that needs to get done. When I really think about doing it, I get really scared and I want to avoid it but then I remember how lost I felt when I was sick. I’ve held on to that feeling as a reason to conquer my fear and give birth to this book because there’s another person just like me who needs this. I’ve never written a book before, much less published one, so it’s a whole new set of skills for me to explore. I love that I’m now charting unknown personal territory!
Vanessa's little thyroid soft toy

Thanks so much for sharing your workday and adventure with us, Vanessa!

 

Vanessa’s a Captain in the Starship. You can meet more Captains + learn if it’s right for your adventure when you sign up for the free mini-course here. 

 

 

Adventures in Business with Gabrielle Krake

Gabrielle Krake

Gabrielle Krake

Today I’m talking with Gabrielle Krake, a Starship Captain and the owner & designer of Bee Wise Goods 

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a full-time maker, or to own their own shop. But what’s a normal day for you really like?
Well I often joke if I can shower, brush my hair and teeth and eat at least one salad then I’m doing great! As far as making things, I get to make inventory on Mon – Wed when I’m not in my shops. I have to get super motivated, usually by some unknowable spark of creativity and then I make my things in assembly line mode, cranking out 10-20 of one item and then I move to another. I personally make over 25 handmade items and 16 sewing patterns (I only have to print these and package them, but I have several I would like to develop but do not have the 30-40 hours it takes to draft one, right now). On Thursdays I’m back in my shops and have to catch up on spreadsheets, accounting and merchandising. On Fridays and Saturdays I work for my daughter in her bakery and we start at 6am making her goodies, displaying them and selling all day. Sunday is an “off” day for me but I usually make something fun or watch movies all day. Oh and jammed in all the cracks between business tasks I have four kids that we homeschool (three have graduated but still live at home) make meals, and clean my house (it’s really only clean and tidy when we’re sleeping). We have chickens and dogs, a cat, and chinchillas.
There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and just read books and go to coffee like my friends, but I know deep down I would be bored in about a week of that and start another business, haha!
Bee Wise Goods

Bee Wise Goods

There are so many ways to make a living as a maker – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?
In all honesty I started my business because when the economy collapsed in 2008, my husband’s income was cut in half (at least). I had started a blog and was posting crafty ideas and tutorials so when we realized we were going to need extra money I decided to start making reusable grocery bags and do repairs to bring in money. Over the course of the next few years we had made and sold thousands of products in a very unconventional way, at the time – through a blog and my website that I did myself. There were very little resources to promote tiny enterprises like ours but Etsy and PayPal played the biggest online role and getting my things into stores was the second component to not starving.
The business was a huge miracle in many ways, we were able to barely keep our house and each other but all other peripheral luxuries and necessities were culled. It made life simpler in ways that we adopted permanently.
Three years ago I realized I was giving away much of my income in rents, commissions, wholesale orders and co-op hours so we opened our own shop in 2011, added another one in 2012 and now a bakery in 2013. (The shops are all connected, we’re slowly taking over a 1951 strip mall.) There are days when I daydream about not working so hard but then I see that the legacy we’re leaving for our 4 kids is priceless. Even if they do not emulate us by being business owners, they have a very realistic view of finances, they understand options and they know they have choices about how to make money.
Gabrielle's family bakery

Gabrielle’s family bakery

What new thing are you exploring now?
I am in the process of inventing the creative magazine called Makers Unwound. It will start with a local focus and depending on how it goes we can expand regionally and beyond.
What’s your definition of success in your business?
The joy I feel, the relationships we have developed and the legacy of income choices we have given our kids is true SUCCESS for me.
Dolls from Gabrielle's product line

Dolls from Gabrielle’s product line

What’s the next destination you’re working towards?
I want to start taking a backseat in operations. Two of my kids are slowly becoming equipped with the skills to allow me to make inventory, create art and work on the magazine. Accounting, spreadsheets and invoices takes up about 15-20 hours per week that I can begin to have back for creative purposes. We are planning on expanding the bakery and offering more products.
Gabrielle's studio

Gabrielle’s studio

 

 

Adventures in publishing and editing, with Alicia + Kelly

Today I’m happy to be talking to author Alicia de los Reyes and her editor and publisher, Kelly Rizzetta.

We talked about

  • the self-publishing options,
  • the importance of an editor for improving your framework
  • how they collaborated together
  • their best marketing tactic (not what you’d think).


(If you’re reading this via email, click through to see the video! If you’d like to get posts via email, click here.)

 

Alicia de los Reyes is a writer and teacher  in Seattle, WA. She recently published an ebook called The Chick Lit Cookbook: A Guide to Writing Your Novel in 30 Minutes a Day, and she’s now blogging about her experience using that guide to write a brand-new novel here. Kelly Rizzetta is the editor-in-chief of New Jersey-based KMR Publishing, which produced The Chick Lit Cookbook.

 

If you’re an author, whether self-published or traditionally published, I’ve put together a list of resources for you! If you’d like to work together to create a marketing plan for your book, I can help you with that!

 

You might also like: 

 

Adventures in Fiction Writing with SJ Pajonas

sj pajonasI made the mistake of reading SJ Pajonas’ new novel, Released, during my flight last Saturday. Sitting in between two strangers, 2 hours into a 4 hour flight, I started bawling my eyes out. And snuffling. And generally being the kind of person you avoid sitting next to. But despite the personal embarrassment (or perhaps because of it), I heartily recommend SJ’s Nogiku series. It’s funny, action-packed and so full of real dialogue that I cried on a crowded plane. So yeah, I LOVE it.

I’m delighted that SJ agreed to answer some of my questions about the writing + marketing of her novels.

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a novelist. But what’s a normal day for you really like?

I’m a stay-at-home mom, so typically, my day is: get up at 5am so I have 1.5 to 2 hours of time to write or get other writing-related work done before my kids get up, get kids to school, either run errands or write while they’re at school (they’re not at school all day yet), then the rest of my day is completely normal. I can sometimes get in a few hundred words here and there when they’re home but it’s difficult. When I need a long stretch of time for working, I save it for the weekend when my husband can cover for me.

I’ve found that getting things done (like writing so proficiently and getting it all published) is about having daily (or weekly) habits and practices to keep working on your project. So tell us about your writing rituals – what do you do to get in the flow for writing?

You know all that time in the previous question when I’m taking care of the kids and the house? I’m brainstorming that whole time. I brainstorm while loading and unloading the dishwasher, while I’m making dinner, while I’m sitting and waiting for school to be dismissed, etc. Because when I actually have the time to sit down and write, I want to get words on the page immediately. I honestly don’t have the time to stare at a blank page in front of me! I also do a lot of writing on my phone in Evernote. If I’m working in the kitchen and I have a great idea for some dialogue that I just know I’ll forget before I get up at 5am the next morning, I open Evernote and write it all down quickly. I have a folder for each book and I just keep adding notes when I have the chance. This way I always have material when I sit down to write.

What’s your favorite apps or tools? What do you use to write, edit, etc?

My favorite app for writing is definitely Scrivener. It’s a $45 application from Literature & Latte and I would say the best money I’ve ever spent. You can use it to organize your work or novel like a file system, and it allows you to write in snippets and then move them around.* If you do this in Word, you have to highlight, copy, cut, and paste, and it’s annoyingly clunky. Once you’re done with a novel, you can export to a range of formats for ebooks. Since I self-publish, it’s all I use. Calibre is another piece of helpful software. Sometimes I export a book from Scrivener to HTML format, I tweak the HTML and then use Calibre to convert it to ebook formats. And Evernote is the other software I can’t live without. I can access it on all my devices so I keep a lot in it from notes about each book to information and links I gather on self-publishing to recipes for those dinners that fuel me!

*Tara’s note: I agree! I used Scrivener to write my book!

As you’ve self-published books, I have loved watching your marketing unfold (which is so rare!). What is the most effective thing you’ve done to share the book with more people?

Thank you! There are several things I’ve done that I think work for books in general. I give away a lot of copies in the hopes that they garner reviews. I make a lot of multimedia items to promote the book like teaser images that I post on my blog, twitter, and Goodreads, and I had a book trailer made. I have a presence on most of the social media networks where I am, most importantly, MYSELF. I don’t try to project that I’m an expert in anything or give advice that I know nothing about. If you find me online, I’m usually talking about random things from my life or sharing tidbits of information that have been coming my way. I keep the ranting to a minimum and I usually reply if you want to chat. I do let people know when I’m excited about my work because I hope that, if you know me, you’ll be excited too.

released

 What’s your most-favorite (enjoyable) thing you’ve done to share your work?

I really enjoy making the teaser images that I reveal in the weeks before a book is published. I love choosing an iconic image and pairing it with a quote from the books. I find them really exciting probably because I come from a film background. I love that pairing of images and words. It works for me everytime.

What resources did you find helpful in learning how to share your work?

I’ve been self-publishing for about six months now (from the time I decided to self-publish which was last June 2013) but I spent a few ramp-up months before my first book was published watching other authors publish as well. I’m the quiet scientist in the corner. I sit and observe what other people are doing first, determine what is or is not working for them, and then write it down for use later. To get started, I went to Hugh Howey’s blog and searched for “self-publishing” because I had read his books and knew he was a self-publishing advocate. I read all of his posts and they led me to the Kindle Boards and from there I just gathered information when I could. I haven’t read any books specifically on self-publishing though a lot of my author friends recommend Write, Publish, Repeat which was written by authors who also have a very helpful podcast. I plan on reading it soon as well to see if there’s anything I’m missing!

 What are you exploring now?

I’m trying my best right now to have a more balanced life. Sometimes marketing my books can take over my life! And really the best marketing for current books is to put more books on the shelves. Very few writers can make a career on just one book. So I’m working on a schedule to publish four books plus short stories over the next two years. It’s big for me, to plan so far ahead. I know that something can happen in the next week or month to send that schedule into a tailspin but I’m going to try it anyway. In writing, I’m exploring writing outside of my genre. I like writing science fiction and I’m going to continue writing in the Nogiku world that I’ve built and love, but I also want to write contemporary romance. I’ve been working on a book for a year that I’ll be publishing in the late Spring. It’s an adult contemporary romance called FACE TIME and it’s different from what I’ve already published. I want to continue writing ideas and taking risks with my work and exploring stories outside of my norm is how I’ll do that.

What’s your definition of success in your writing business?

Success has been hard for me to define! And it has changed over the course of the last six months. At first, my definition relied on sales. Was I selling books? How many? And how much money was I making to offset my initial costs? But sometime in the past month, my definition has changed and now my idea of success is just publishing more books. Each book I work on and move it towards publication is another success. The ultimate goal is to have a dedicated audience for my work and with each book published, I gain more readers. Success and its definition will probably change over time for me as new doors are opened and I’m able to do more with my work. For now, writing and gaining my audience is my primary goal.

What’s the next destination you’re working towards?

So I have this set of long-term goals for the next two years concerning what I’d like to publish but the next stop on the self-publishing road trip is to publish my contemporary romance, FACE TIME. There are several steps to get there including: a reveal of the cover online, teaser images, designing a paperback layout of the book, possibly make a book trailer, a companion website, and several other things. But I also have a writing journey that runs parallel to self-publishing, and after I’m done with revisions on FACE TIME, I will be starting revisions of the Nogiku Series Book 3. There’s lots to be done! And I’m looking forward to it all.

Thanks for having me, Tara!

Thanks for sharing so much! I’ve learned tons! 

Disclaimer-y Disclaimer: SJ is a Twitter friend and she sent me an advanced copy of both of her books, but PEOPLE, after reading the first one, I would have gladly paid for all subsequent books. Buy your copy of Released here. Now. For more from SJ, check her site here, her blog tour schedule here, and befriend her on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

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