NEW ENERGY

Meredith C Bullock New Energy Painting A new year brings this new energy, an energy I love and look forward to every year. Unlike most years, this year I didn't write a list of resolutions. Instead, I wanted to give myself the time and space to really dig deep and find out what I really wanted. I didn't want to jump ahead and start jotting down goals, I really wanted to be patient and listen to what my heart was saying.

Several things have been helping me through this self-discovery process, like meditating, writing 3-pages of anything everyday and a book called The Artist's Guide. This book describes a process in which the author took herself through in order to live the life of her dreams as an artist.

When I read the introduction I was immediately hooked and could hear myself through her words. A woman who spent years building up a successful business while putting her painting career to the side. At a certain point she couldn't let the painting be her second priority anymore, and she paved a path to her success.

In this book she describes this path and guides the reader through each step. I'm not quite sure how many steps there are, but already at step 3/4 I know what I want.

Before I started to read this book I knew things were shifting, I knew that what I envisioned for my business and my everyday was different than it was before–even just a few months ago.

The shift, unknown to me at the time, began when I started painting again for my #FridayPaintday challenge. After a few months of getting back to painting, having a collection of new paintings grow and having inquiries about custom artwork come in, it hit me: I want to do this for a living.

I've had this feeling before, but never with so much confidence. Yes the fears flooded in after I admitted this to myself and to my husband, but I know this is right and I've learned I've got to push through those fears if I want to achieve my dreams. One of those fears was admitting this discovery to you.

So today I'm sharing with you that a change is coming and you will slowly see it start to unfold here. I still want to work with creatives to help them achieve their dreams, I still love designing websites and brands, I still want to teach, coach and lead retreats. But I also want to focus on building a career as a painter.

A few changes that have already occurred is that I started taking commissions and my instagram is almost all about my exploration of painting. I ordered sample prints for my artwork, so soon you'll see a bunch of prints available in my shop. I'm also working a new series of paintings for an exhibit this year.

A few things I want to have happen this year:

  • Exhibit my artwork in 1-3 galleries
  • Create 1-3 commission pieces per month
  • Sell my original artwork and prints
  • Have representation from a gallery
  • Be know as an artist and painter in Nashville and beyond

How about you, any changes or goals this new energy/new year has brought to you?

A CHALLENGE TO PAINT

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It's official: I'm now accepting commissions for abstract art! After 13 weeks of #fridaypaintday – a self-made challenge to paint 1 hour each Friday for myself – I've reconnected with my truest passion; painting.

Most of you might not know this about me; painting was something I pursued several years ago. I was constantly painting and preparing for the next exhibit. I loved painting, the process of getting lost in music, color, paint and texture was a dream. And to see what I created on the other end was always something I loved.

I could paint all day long but I didn't know to make a living doing it. Back then I didn't have the knowledge I have now. I didn't know how to share my work (rather than sell it) or how to leverage my connections and online presence to grow my business. I was so new at it all and didn't know what I was doing.

I kept creating and sharing and found that a lot of people were interested in calligraphy. So I put my paintings on hold and followed the demand–which meant I could quit my day job sooner. I opened a second Etsy shop dedicated to calligraphy and wedding related items and in less than a year I quit my day job and was a Featured Seller on Etsy. After about 6 months of wedding invitation design I realized I wasn’t doing what I loved and I shifted focus to work with creatives on their brand and business.

Fast forward to a few months ago, I noticed that most of my day-to-day work was in front of the computer and filled with calligraphy and design work. Both crafts I enjoyed, but I was missing painting BIG TIME and not doing exactly what I loved. I wanted to create with my hands more and to step away from the computer.

That's when I decided enough was enough. I had to carve out time for something I was missing. I couldn't be reactive, I had to be intentional about what I wanted. Through the process of #fridaypaintday–starting a challenge to create change– I learned I wanted to paint more often; for myself and for you.

Today I challenge you to start a project that creates change for you in your life. Perhaps you want to paint but never have the time. Start a challenge that gets you painting at least once a week and see what happens. I bet you will be painting more than you ever imagined. And who knows, maybe someone will notice.

If you're interested in having a custom painted piece of artwork with your choice of colors to coordinate with your home or space, check out how a commission works here>>> and feel free to email me with any questions or ideas.

Here's to a new year and a new you!

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Why I Removed My Portfolio Page

Why I Removed My Portfolio Page - Meredith C Bullock Meredith C Bullock - Artist - No Portfolio Page

After countless hours and a 4-day [intense] deadline, the website is officially live! So far the feedback has been incredible (thank you everyone)! Have you taken a look around yet?

You might be wondering where the portfolio page disappeared to?

After A LOT of thought, digging deep and identifying what matters most, I chose to remove it. And here's why: I want my clients to hire me because of my story, my vision and my style; not because of the past work I've created.

It felt good to know I wasn't alone when I read that the folks over at Wild Measure made the same decision for their new website:

"Though we consider ourselves designers, art directors, and creatives we do not feel our work defines our potential. We do not plan to place pride in accolades or awards because we feel that muddles the waters of our ability to create honest work for our clients. This feeling and concept has been with us since the beginning. The work we do is visible everyday on our blog, instagrams, and social channels. Our website is the deeper side to our story. It is the look behind the curtain of our work and into our vision as a business."- Wild Measure

Let me know what you think and stay in touch on Instagram, Facebook and my newsletter.

4 STEPS TO LIVING THE LIFE OF YOUR DREAMS

4-steps-to-living-the-life-of-your-dreams If I was asked to sum up the one thing I help others to accomplish, the most important thing I feel I was put on this earth to do, I'd answer I help others to live their dreams. No matter who you, where you are in your life, or what you want to accomplish, you can accomplish your dreams. Here are 4 steps that I guide all of my dream clients through:

 

1. Identify your dream. Take a few moments and imagine your big, ultimate, I-was-put-on-this-earth-to-accomplish dream. Now take out a sheet of paper and write "My Big Dream" on the top, consider and answer:

  • What does your dream look like?
  • Who's there?
  • What are you doing?
  • Where are you?
  • What have you accomplished?
  • Who are you working with?
  • What are you like?

 

2. Write out your goals. Now that you have your dream fully imagined, take a look at it. You'll notice goals within your dream that need to be accomplished in order to fully realize and live your dream. Perhaps your dream is to travel across the world to teach children who to create art and tap into their creativity. Some goals might be:

  • establish a location to teach in
  • identify what age group you want to teach
  • gather art supplies to teach the actual class
  • jot down countries you want to teach in
  • gather contacts and resources that can help you

*Tip: imagine you've accomplished your dream and you're walking backwards on that path that you took to get there. Now list off things that had to happen in order to realize your dream, starting with the very last thing you did in order to accomplish your dreams. This technique is something I learned from the 30-Minute Strategy.

 

3. Create a plan. Now that you have your goals, organize them in sequence from now till the your Big Dream is accomplished and give them a deadline. Using the example goals from above, I'd organize the goals like this:

  1. identify why you want to do this | October 2014
  2. identify what age group you want to teach | November 2014
  3. jot down countries you want to teach in | January 2015
  4. gather contacts and resources that can help you | April 2015
  5. create lessons | July 2015
  6. schedule in classes | July 2015
  7. gather art supplies to teach the actual class | August 2015
  8. teach first class | September 2015

 

4. Follow through. You have your dreams, your goals, your deadlines, now all that's left is for you to follow through.

 

 

FROM FEAR TO COURAGE

From Fear to Courage - how to be more daring, creative and successfull What if you could be more courageous and positive about everything in your life? Would you notice a difference? Would you accomplish your goals? Would you be happier and more successful?

I believe so. I believe that if you turn your fears into courage and your negatives into positives, you'll find endless joy, success, kindness, purpose and fulfillment.

Back when I was a kid I remember learning how to ride a bike. First I had a tricycle, then a bicycle with training wheels, then eventually - even though I still didn't know how - my parents removed the training wheels. I'd position myself close enough to our house to hold myself up with one hand, get my feet ready, then push-off. I'd last about 5 seconds then fall. I was young and wanted so badly to ride bikes like my older sisters. I'd get back up, lean against the house, get my feet ready and push-off again. Over and over again I'd fall but each time I got up and tried again because I knew eventually I'd get it.

For some reason, as you get older, we lose this determination and courage to get back up and try again even though you know it's likely you'll fail. What if you could be more like you were when you were a child? Perhaps you'd be more courageous, fearless, creative, daring and successful?

Today you're going to reclaim your childhood courage with a very simple exercise, developed Michael Michalko the author of Thinkertoys,  that helps you to identify your fears, substitute them with positive thinking then guides you to carve out your path to success with affirmations. It might sound a little heady, but I promise you it works. Print out the free exercise worksheet here

Change your thoughts and change your world - Norman Vincent Peale

Once you've filled out the worksheet I challenge you to affirm your beliefs; to make a positive statement that something is already so. It can be general or specific - the point is to actually write it out as if it's a fact.Take a look at your "Tock" column and jot down some affirmations. For example "I am successful and happy because I do what I love".

Once you have a few affirmations, remind yourself of them. I like to cut little square cards and write affirmations on them and stick them in my purse, on my mirror, in my desk, or in my notebook. They're nice reminders and the more you affirm your beliefs, the more they become reality.

Take it one step further and jot down all of the things you like about and have accomplished for yourself and your business. The more you practice remembering your successes and forgetting your failures, the more you'll experience success and happiness.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. - Eckhart Tolle

Today's blog entry is lesson borrowed from the Unlock Your Creativity Ecourse in session right now. To learn more about our Ecourses and to register for the next session, go here.

LIVE ON THE EDGE

Live on the Edge Are you living life on the edge: taking risks, exploring the world, living your dreams, conquering fears and doing everything you can (even the scary stuff) to live your dreams?

or

Are you merely existing: each day comes, you go through the motions, convinced this is just the way it is, things can't get any better, you can't accomplish your dreams - they're too big, tomorrow comes and you do it all over again?

For most of the world, it's the latter. But you can be different. You can do anything. You can manifest your dreams, change the world and have everything you've ever wished for.

I want you to take out a sheet of paper - or open your notes on your phone or computer - and write down your big, I MEAN BIG, dreams. Really imagine how you want to live your life, what it would look like, what you would have around you, who you'd be with, what you'd be doing and write it down.

This is a process I take each and every one of my clients through, I call it ideal scene. Because if I know what your big dreams are and what you want to accomplish, then we can work together to make them happen.

Writing down your dreams is the first step to accomplishing them. The next step is making your dreams into goals, then after that,  creating a plan to get the ball rolling.

So what can you do right now, tomorrow, this weekend to live on the edge and accomplish your dreams? 

 

I'M TRAVELING TO YOUR CITY

I'm Traveling to Your City Working with creatives & entrepreneurs in-person and face-to-face, sharing with them what I've learned about calligraphy, lettering, art, branding, business and blogging is a very big goal of mine. Currently, I work with creatives from all over the US, utilizing Skype as our main platform of communication. This works great for those "face-to-face" interactions, but I want more in-person and real face-to-face conversations and experiences. I want to work one-on-one with you, intensively, till we get the job done!

In order to make this happen, I'm traveling to your city!

Meaning, I now offer the option for us to work together in-person and one-on-one. The way this works is I either travel to you, or you to me, we work intensively Monday-Friday for 1 to 2 weeks on your project and execute all goals, plan and projects before I leave. This option is great for creatives looking for more in-depth guidance and one-on-one direction. This is also great for those who need their project turned around quickly.

You see, back when I was a hairstylist, I would have 8-10 clients per day that'd I'd meet in-person, have conversations with, develop relationships with and help them look and feel beautiful. I loved this - the connections I would make and the influence I had on their confidence and in their lives - it filled me up.

As the years passed, I felt drained and burned-out. Having meaningful moments and conversations with 6-10 people per day, all while standing for hours on end, was impossible. I realized I couldn't do this forever - it was unsustainable and life-deteriorating.

I shifted focus on other creative endeavors and eventually found success with my Etsy shop. I was able to quit my hairstyling job and focus solely on calligraphy and my Etsy shop full-time (hooray!!). I felt more energized and looked forward to the possibilities of being self-employed.

At first switching from face-to-face, in-person interactions to 100% online interactions was a shock and something I had to get used to. I had so much to learn - from how to write an email that captured my personality & essence to having a conversation on the phone that felt like an in-person interaction. It was tough, but eventually I got better at it and realized that I could utilize Skype to have more of those "face-to-face" conversations I desired.

I miss those connections. And in order to have more real face-to-face, in-person interactions, build relationships and to work one-on-one with other creatives, I'm traveling to you. Not only will I travel to you for projects, I'm also now booking workshops across the US for this fall, winter and spring.

I'll be offering the following workshops:

  • modern calligraphy
  • calligraphy as a business
  • watercolor lettering & painting
  • brush lettering
  • blogging & brand development
  • social media & online growth
  • any ideas - email me!

Here is a current list of cities I've been asked to travel to:

  • NYC
  • New Jersey
  • Ithaca, NY
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Madison, WI
  • Chicago, IL
  • Murfreesboro, TN
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Monterey, CA

Are you interested in having me travel to your city for projects or workshops? Leave a comment below or send me an email with what workshops or projects you're interested in and what city you live in. I can't wait to meet you in-person!

 

5 WAYS TO CREATE A MOVEMENT

5 Ways to Create a Movement Something we all have in common is our desire to change something. Our desire to make a difference, be remembered and to do big things. I watched this TED talk by Seth Godin and outlined some tips and thoughts he shared on how to create change and lead your tribe.

To create change, you must first ask yourself what is the thing you want to change?

Maybe you want to inspire woman to feel beautiful and courageous, or maybe you want to provide resources for those in need. What I want to change is the way the common core is cutting out art and music in schools and provide the resources for children to learn and experience art and music at any age. 

Now you know what you want to change, ask yourself the following:

Who are you upsetting? When you create a movement, you're going against the status quo. You're pushing against the norm and will most certainly upset someone, who is it? For example; I will upset the education system by causing a snag in their philosophy and plans of cutting out art and music and implementing the common core. 

Who are you connecting? Your tribe wants to connect with others and feel loved, missed and valued. So when you imagine the change you want to create, who are you connecting? I will be connecting children with their families, other children and most importantly with themselves. When children have art and music in their lives, they feel more creative, strong, smart, aware, beautiful and able to process anything that gets thrown their way. Read more on this topic here

Who are you leading?  Cultivating a tribe of supporters, cheerleaders and supporters is how you will make your impact reach its fullest potential. So who is it that you are leading? I will be leading parents, teenagers, children and anyone who's ever experienced art & music or supports art & music. One way I am doing this is by teaching art, calligraphy and cursive classes to all ages. 

I challenge you to answer these questions and create a movement within 30 days from today. While brainstorming your ideas and mapping out your plan, here are 5 tips to keep in mind on how to create a movement:

  1. Challenge the status quo
  2. Develop a culture
  3. Pursue curiosities
  4. Connect others
  5. Commit to your change

Want to join me in creating change in the common core and helping to implement more art & music for our next generations? Email me, comment below or join my newsletter.

So what is it you want to change? 

Photo by Sara-Lane Baskin

KEEP LOOKING FOR A MEANING

Keep Lokking for a Meaning I am uncertain of where I'm going.

I look back on my accomplishments and the path I've traveled and it's crystal clear. But ahead there is no path, everything is uncertain, unpaved, unclear.

The moment I finally think I found my calling, my purpose, the thing I was born to do, my mind boils over with uncertainty and dreams of other endeavors to pursue.

Does this mean I'm on the wrong path, did I get lost somewhere along the way?  Have I found or experienced my Personal Legend but somehow overlooked it?

These questions have been consuming my mind leaving me paralyzed to move forward. As if I've come to a fork in the road and I must choose which direction I'm going.

I don't have answers, nor do I have tips for you to follow because this is my current status - I'm still figuring it out.  What I do know is reading books like The Alchemist (for the third time) and going through the Warrior of the Light manual that accompanies it, has helped me find peace.

You can recognize a Warrior of Light by the look in his eye. Warriors of Light are in the world, they form part of the world, and they were sent into the world without saddlebags or sandals. They are often cowardly. They do not always act correctly.

Warriors of Light are wounded by the most foolish things, they worry about trivialities, they believe themselves incapable of growing. Warriors of Light sometimes believe themselves unworthy of any blessing or miracle.

Warriors of Light often ask themselves what they are doing here. Often they find their lives meaningless.

That is why they are Warriors of Light. Because they fail. Because they ask questions. Because they keep looking for a meaning. And in the end, they will find it.

ECOURSES FOR CREATIVES

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Ok, I did it! After months of planning and procrastination, I finally spontaneously gave myself 24 hours to launch my Ecourses (yes, there are two). It was a bit intense coming up with everything so quickly and I'm sure there will be a few kinks to work out, but I'm happy to announce they are officially launched!

I look forward to sharing what I've learned from being an artist, creative and entrepreneur with you through my Ecourses! So here they are:

Unlock-Your-Creativity-Ecourse

Unlock Your Creativity Ecourse was designed for any individual looking to rediscover their creative passion, solve challenges and overcome fears, wildly brainstorm ideas, find courage and clarity, identify their dreams and be more intentional everyday. We'll cover topics like uncovering your dreams, sharpening the mind, creating daily utopia, learning from your role models and more.

For 4 weeks, you’ll have access to 8 lessons that include step-by-step lessons, printable worksheets, daily tasks and inspiration to unlock your creativity. On the start date you'll be prompted with an email containing a link & directions to create a username & password in order to access your lessons. Once you're signed in, you will have access to all 8 lessons, giving you the freedom to learn at your own pace.

You will also be part of an exclusive and private Facebook Group where you and all students participating can ask questions, share your successes or challenges and network with other creatives.

Click here to register and purchase your Ecourse and on the dates posted below your lessons will begin. Link will bring you to Paypal where you can use all major credit cards or your Paypal account to purchase. The Ecourse costs $40. Add a one-on-one creative coaching session to your package to your Ecourse for a total of $110 by clicking here.

See current registration dates here >>>

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Build-Your-Brand-Ecourse

Build Your Brand Ecourse was designed for creatives and entrepreneurs looking to build a brand that reflects your personal style, speaks your mission, captures your aesthetic and attracts your dream clients so you can make more money doing what you love. We'll cover topics like creating an experience for your consumers, mapping out your strategy, going from fear to courage, setting yourself apart from others and more.

For 4 weeks, you’ll have access to 8 lessons that include step-by-step lessons, printable worksheets, daily tasks and inspiration to build your brand and business. On the start date you'll be prompted with an email containing a link & directions to create a username & password in order to access your lessons. Once you're signed in, you will have access to all 8 lessons, giving you the freedom to learn at your own pace.

You will also be part of our exclusive and private Facebook Group where you and all students participating can ask questions, share your successes or challenges and network with other creatives.

Click here to register and purchase your Ecourse and on the dates posted below your Ecourse will begin. Link will bring you to Paypal where you can use all major credit cards or your Paypal account to purchase. The Ecourse costs $40. Add a one-on-one creative coaching session to your package to your Ecourse for a total of $110 by clicking here.

See current registration dates here >>>

TOO BUSY TO BLOG

Too Busy to Blog I know, I know - taking a break from blogging is a big fopaux especially when it's how you attract your dream clients and connect with your tribe. But what happens when you really are too busy to blog?

The past few weeks I've been widely productive and living the dream (a term I've adhered to thanks to Kathleen). I've started several new projects - like website design and development for some crazy talented creatives, workshops in and out-of-town like this one and this one, hosting a bunch of family and friends and working on growing flowers and food in our own backyard.

My priorities push blogging to the bottom of the list, especially when the commitment to blog can sometimes take two or three hours.

The good news is not much has changed. I'm still reeling my dream clients, still connecting with my tribe (thank you InstagramFacebookPinterestMy Newsletter & Twitter) and still doing what I love.

It's ok to take a break if you need to. Sometimes that's how life works, you push one thing aside to make time for what's most important. 

My tip to you (if you want to stay connected with your peeps but don't have time to blog):

  • be active on your social platforms
  • send a thoughtful newsletter
  • respond to your messages and comments

If you want a temporary break from all online platforms (I did this for 9 days last Christmas and it was glorious):

  • be sure to let your readers/followers know it's about to happen
  • put an auto responder on your email
  • and let it go - because if they like what you have to say, they will be here when you get back

Anybody else experience moments when you can't find time to blog? How did you stay connected with your people?

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BLOG

10 Reasons Why You Should Blog I always recommend blogging to any creative or entrepreneur who wants to grow their business, make money and attract their dream clients.

5 years ago when I started to blog, I had no clue that it'd be one of my favorite things to do each week. Blogging has helped me promote my work, build relationships, grow my expertise, find clarity, attract my dream clients and more.

Here are 10 reasons why you should blog:

1. To become a better writer I'm slightly embarrassed at how terrible my writing was when I started blogging over 5 years ago. But as the years passed and my reasons for blogging and expertise grew, I found my voice and learned how to write better and better. Not because I was forced, but because practice made it better. Writing is communication so the better we can communicate the better our relationships, life and message will be. Writing is also a valuable asset for future endeavours like writing a book, letters and public speaking.

2. To gain confidence Just like my skills for writing grew, my confidence did too. The more I shared my work, blogged about it, received comments and sales because of it, the more my confidence grew. I've learned that what I say here does matter and people listen.

3. To connect with others Everyday someone new reads my blog and gets to know me a little more than before. And every once in a while one of those readers will reach out and either comment on the blog or email me. Sometimes it's because they read something that really resonated with them, other times it's to simply say hello. No matter the reason, blogging allows me to meet new people from all over the world, building relationships and community that gives me purpose and support.

4. To find your voice Finding your voice is finding your take on things. It's what makes you, you. For a long time I didn't know how to write or how I wanted to sound or what I really wanted to write about. But over the years I discovered what topics are significant and meaningful to me and my opinions on them. This has helped me discover my writing style, why I wanted to write, who I am writing for and what exactly I wanted to write about.

5. To share yours and others work My third blog was to share my work. But after a while, I got bored with just my own work and started interviewing other creatives and showcasing my favorite music and artists. This was a huge revelation for me because I thought I should only share my own work. But once I started sharing other creatives work, I connected more with people who inspired me, felt good because I knew I was helping them promote their work and ultimately it helped me build my brand and my voice by showcasing only the best artwork and music I loved. To this day I still love to share other creatives work.

6. To position yourself as an expert Your blog is your zone, your platform, your classroom to share your expertise. Consider what you know how to do really well and what you love, then start sharing it on your blog. The more problems you solve for your readers, the more they'll come back again and again. They will view you as an expert in that particular field and you will build your expertise the more you write about it. It's a win, win.

7. To attract new clients Your blog is like a magnet in the ever-growing community of experts and online resources. If you're looking to attract your dream clients, then write about something they're interested in or help them solve a challenge they've encountered. With the right tags, social-media shares and title, your blog posts will float to the top when your dream clients are searching for you.

8. To have documentation of your life Today we live in a digital world and rarely take the time to write anything down on paper. This is something I personally would like to change about myself, but for now I'm grateful I have my blog to look back on. It has pictures I've longed lost and thoughts relevant to each moment in my life and business.

9. To find clarity around your thoughts and intentions I have thousands of thoughts and ideas swarming through my head daily and find clarity by jotting them down on paper and writing about them here. Writing about my life, my business and the thoughts that shape it, allows me to think more intentionally about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and if I like what I see.

10. To help and inspire others Perhaps one of the most important reason why I blog is to help and inspire others like you. I've dug deep and discovered my mission is to help creatives envision, start and grow their ideas, expertise and businesses so they can make money doing what they love. I want readers to know they can come to me to find answers, solve their problems and find inspiration.

Are you blogging and not sure what to write about? Check out this post here and here

ORGANIZE YOUR MONEY

20140326-220831.jpg I can't believe it's already the end of March. This means two things:

  1. My husband's birthday is near (it's actually today - wish him a happy birthday here)
  2. And taxes are due

I dropped the ball this year and did the minimum amount of financial work for my business. Meaning taxes this year will likely take triple the time it would usually. Not to mention how unhealthy and stifling it is for my business to not keep track of where and when money is coming and going. Do not do what I did. Instead, follow these tips to stay organized and ready for tax season.

Keep a balance sheet A balance sheet is essentially a spreadsheet or a piece of paper with lines and categories for you to organize when money is coming in and out. You can easily create one in google docs (see screen shot below), with windows excel, write on a piece of paper, or download this pdf I created here and pictured below. The one I use (and created for you below) has a column for projected and actual income and expenses, that way you can plan ahead and budget your money. You can use this pdf each month and at the end of the year to tally everything up.

Organize Your Money Free Download

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Put money aside Save yourself the stress mentally and financially and put away 10-15% of your monthly income into your savings for taxes. Odds are you'll have more than enough money saved to not only pay the man, but to also to go on a mini vaca or maybe attend that workshop you've had your eye on.

Have a separate business account Don't try to decipher business money with home money all in one joint account - that's terribly stressful. Do yourself a favor and open up a separate checking and savings account just for your business. That way when you meet with a client over lunch or run to Office Max to grab some ink and paper, you can whip out your business account card and swipe away knowing it won't get lost with your grocery and home charges.

Stay organized Using services like Mint, Freshbooks, Outright or Quickbooks can help you stay organized throughout the year and some offer functions and features that help prepare you for tax season. Personally I use Mint and love it. I can budget, receive texts when I'm close to going over budget, check balances from the app on my phone, create goals and its all free. Another tip to staying organized is stowing away your receipts each month in an accordion folder. That way when you need to find a receipt for a specific month, you don't have to dig through the entire years worth. Trust me, it's not pretty when you have to do this.

Print off monthly bank statements If you're like me, you use your computer for mostly everything when it comes to money. So when you receive your monthly statement from PayPal or your bank, print it out. Otherwise you might have to go backward for months in order to track down each expense. It's also a good idea to have a paper trail of everything just in case.

Hire an accountant Back when I was an employee and received a paycheck it was easy to use a service like Turbotax online. But now I'm self-employed and have a billion expenses and write off's to keep track of, I've hired an accountant. Actually I acquired my accountant through my husband when we got married and it was the best thing that ever happened to my money. My accountant keeps me organized, sends me a tax preparation packet in February and answers any questions whenever I have them - like when I discovered I had to charge sales tax (oops). When you're staring out, it might make sense to do them yourself, but as soon as you can afford an accountant, do it. He will save you time, he will cost a chunk of change but he always makes sure everything is legit.

Need more financial advice? Check out these articles:

What I Learned at Tax Time From My First Year as an Indie Business Owner 10 Tax Deductions for Small Biz Owners Being Prepared for Tax Time Taxes Made Easy Advice: How do you Deal with Tax Deductions and Working with an Accountant Taxes 101 for Etsy Sellers 5 Ways to Make Tax Season More Serene

How about you, did you file yet? Do you have any tips, resources or advice to share for us creatives scrambling to file taxes in time?

HOW TO TEACH A CLASS

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Are you thinking about teaching a class in your community and want to know how to get organized and prepared to do it? Say no more.

Teaching has helped me promote my business and build confidence in what I do. 

This January I taught my first calligraphy class. I had a little experience teaching - a few years back I taught some art classes to children and a few hair cutting/styling classes when I was in cosmetology school. But this felt different.

I had to come up with a description to sell the class so people knew what to expect, I had to create a step-by-step process to follow so my class had a good flow, I also had to source and order the materials in order for each student to participate. Basically, I was on my own to teach this class and that's what made it different.

I was excited to teach, especially to adults who were really passionate about learning, but a little nervous because this was a big step for me. 

I don't know if I would've known to prepare for the class without the help from The Skillery, a co-working community of classes and workshops for and taught by creative entrepreneurs. They helped me organize my ideas, create a class/workshop page online, organize a space to teach in, and promote and sell tickets to the class. Because I am new to Nashville, I am certain that I would've been teaching to an empty room if I didn't have the contacts and promotional help from them.

I'm now going onto my 5th class - DIY Brush Lettering - and want to share with you 10 easy steps on how to teach a class yourself.

Step 1. Identify what you want to teach, who you want to teach it to and why. Consider your skills and what you know how to do really well. What are those things? Maybe you're a photographer and you want to teach beginners how to use their first DSLR or maybe you're a songwriter and you want to teach how to write a song to children. Whatever it is you want to teach, consider who you want to teach it to and why you want to teach it. As Stephanie mentions in this article,

the best courses weave together four distinct areas -core skills or information, a strong sense of purpose, the creative process or philosophy of the instructor, and a great finished product or end result – to create a one of a kind course that is truly distinctive

Step 2. Write a brief description of the class.  In 3 paragraphs or less, write out what your students can expect, how long the class will be, what they will be given (worksheets, materials) and what they will leave with. Think about the materials that will be used and if they get to take them home or if they are theirs to use during the class only. Students will want to know what they're paying for. So try to be as specific as you can but keeping it simple so they can imagine themselves at your class, enjoying it, loving it and finding value in it.

Step 3. Decide if you'll be teaching it alone or through an organization. If you're just starting out, I recommend teaching your first or several classes through an organization. The reason why is because these organizations/businesses makes money through your class so naturally they want you to succeed. They will help guide you through each step and will also help you sell the tickets. If you're going to teach it alone, know what you're doing, how you plan to sell the tickets and be prepared. The upside to teaching alone is you get to keep all of the ticket sales.

Step 4. Name your price. Consider your time, how long it takes to not only teach the class, but to organize the class, set up and break down the class. Price out the materials you will need for yourself and for your students. Now combine your hourly rate with the material costs and divide into how many students you want to attend. For example, if you're hourly rate is $75 and the class is 2 hours long, that equals $150. Add 2 hours of class prep, promotion, organizing, etc that equals $300. Now add materials costs - let's say $200, that equals $500 in total costs. Now divide that price into how many students you want so in this case lets say 10 students. That would be a ticket price of $50. Now don't forget that when you work through an organization, they will take a cut of that or charge you a fee. Let's say they take 50% - this would mean my total profit would be $250. So again the ticket price would be $50, total profit would be $250.

Step 5. Nail down a date and place. When choosing a space to teach in, consider your audience and what they might like, think about logistics (is there enough space for me to walk around in), ask if they have equipment essential to class (do they have a blackboard to use, projector screen, etc), think about lighting (is there enough lighting for people to see what they're doing), pick a time of day that's best for your students, and so on. When considering a date, do some research. Check out what days other successful classes are being taught and do the same. For example, The Skillery suggests I teach on Tuesday or Thursdays because they have the best turnouts those days.

Step 6. Order materials. You've already done a rough estimate of what materials will be needed in Step 4. Now order/buy those materials making sure to give yourself enough time to have them shipped to you in time or to pick them up from the local store.

Step 7. Promote the class. Create a Facebook event, talk about it on your blog, tweet it, whatever you can, announce your class and all of the details that make the class great. Be sure to not sound too salesy, you want your potential students to find value in this class. So mention what they'll get if they come, why you love this class so much, how long you've been doing it, etc.

Step 8. Create a syllabus and checklist. Now that you've launched your class and people are buying tickets, create a step-by-step outline of exactly what you'll be teaching so that when your class comes and you're standing there you don't blank. For example, the first thing I do when I start a class is introduce myself and share why I teach, why I am passionate about teaching and how long I've been doing it for. Once you have your class plan down, create a checklist of things to remember to bring with you. For example, if you're teaching a painting class, you not only need paint brushes, paper and paint, you also need cups, water and rage to wash their brushes.  Try to really envision the class from start to finish and jot down everything you need to remember to say and bring.

Step 9. Show up and crush it. Now all you need to do is show up. Keep in mind you might need to show up a half hour or 45-minutes early to set up. And a tip from The Skillery Teacher's Handbook is to surpass your students with something. So every class I come up with some way to surprise them. My last class, I surprised the students with a blank envelope with a stamp on it, challenging them to write a hand-written note to someone they know. Other times I've shared cookies or cheese and crackers with them.

Step 10. Build relationships. One of the most important things I like do when I teach is share my story, how I got to where I am today and then ask the students the same. Some are a bit shy at first, but once a few people break the ice, most join and share what they do, why they do it, how they heard about time and my class, and more. I do this not only because I selfishly want to learn all about them, but

I also do it to help build a community. I want these students to be friends with each other.

My last class, I jotted down any websites or blogs that the students had onto the chalkboard for everyone to check out. I encouraged them to stay in touch the other students and to email me anytime. I also put my social platform info on the chalkboard for them to share any photos they may have taken during class. This step was a gift that I was not expecting and is now one of the major reasons why I love to teach.

What's your experience teaching a class? Do you have any steps or tips to share for us? Have any classes you want to share? Wanna take a class with me but not sure if I teach it or will travel to where you are? Email me to see meredithcbullock@gmail.com

THE POWER OF EMPATHY

the-power-of-empathy My husband and I are trying to get pregnant. We began this journey about a year ago and had the blessing of experiencing 12 weeks of pregnancy. Our first ultrasound showed that our baby stopped developing at 6 weeks and that I had what they called a blighted ovum or a missed miscarriage.

Honestly, we're doing ok. It was hard at first and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from losing our baby, but it doesn't scare me to talk about it any more. I kept it a secret for so long that when I finally did share it, I felt relieved and more healed than ever before.

The point I bring this up is to not scare you, sadden you or shock you - although I realize this subject tends to sometimes accomplish all three - I bring this up to share with you my experience with a doctor a few months ago and what I learned about empathy through the experience.

New to Nashville I searched for a OB/GYN that seemed to have the traits I was looking for not to mention they accepted my insurance. I made an appointment because it had been almost 5 months since we started trying again and nothing was happening. I was afraid there might be something wrong down there since the surgery. I felt confused, uneducated and had a lot of questions that I wanted a professional to answer (not the internet). 

There I was in her private office, she was sitting behind her desk, I in a chair on the other side, being told I was trying too hard, that nothing was wrong and to not expect that every time we try, to have success like we did the first time (we got pregnant the first time we started trying last year).

I felt like I was sitting at the principles desk being lectured, like I was a child who should know better. I truly believe I was a waste of her time and I was just another one of those clients that she could care less about. 

Now, I realize there are a lot of woman like me and that it might be easy for her to categorize me. But that's not the point. My point is she lacked empathy.

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by others. 

Not for a split second did I feel she put herself in my shoes. She was cold and made me feel terrible about tracking my ovulation and that I must stop trying so hard.

I left that office feeling alone, upset and wishing I had never went in to see her. But the one thing I did learn from this experience was that empathy truly is very powerful and is she would've applied some to her practice I'd bet I'd feel a whole lot better about the entire thing.

So today I want to share with you 3 tips on how to bring empathy to your business so that we can improve our relationships and experiences in business.  

1. Put yourself in their shoes: No really, try to feel what they're feeling. Maybe you're a invitation designer for a wedding and your Bride is acting a bit crazy. Truth is she might not be crazy at all, she might just simply be stressed. Maybe her in-laws are getting to her, maybe it's the dwindling  budget, maybe it's the fact that she has a full-time job and almost no time for planning. Whatever it is, try to be empathetic. The last thing you want to do is have your client regretting they ever hired you.  

2. Meet Face-to-Face: Nothing says I care more than a face-to-face conversation. Phone calls don't cut it and texts are out of the questions. Anytime I am hired for a project that lasts longer than a few weeks, I make it a requirement to meet over Skype or in person. This has helped me develop some amazing relationships with my clients. Whether your clients live on the other side of the country or in your city, make time to meet them, develop a relationship with them, listen to them and get to know them. Most times when people are hiring you, they're not just interested in your service or product, but they're interested in a relationship with you. So give them the time of day and schedule that coffee meeting or Skype chat. And don't be afraid to meet multiple times face-to-face. Anytime I feel like my client and I are not communicating properly, I schedule a Skype or in person meeting to go over what were trying to say. This eliminates any stress and gets our ideas clarified, not to mention it deepens our relationship and creative chemistry.

3. Define & educate your clients on how your process works: Grab a stack of post-it notes or a pad of paper and jot down all of the steps of your process. If you're using post-it notes, use one sheet per step. For example, your first step might be receiving the an email from them, second step would respond to the email with a breakdown or pricing and details, third step might be scheduling a Skype chat, and so on. Organize the steps into a timeline, outlining your project from start to finish,  including any alternative paths too. Look for patterns that emerge and ways you might improve the steps. Create ways that might help your client feel more joyous and relaxed from beginning to end. Type it out, create a pdf of it, insert it in your contract, create a fun comic-like illustration that shows each step or send a welcome packet that clearly outlines what they can expect and when. Whatever it takes, clearly outline your process ands share it with them. They will feel grateful they hired you and excited for each step.

Do you have an experience you want to share that lacked empathy? Or perhaps you have a great idea on how to implement empathy into our business? Share your thoughts in the comments below and receive a response from me.

WHAT'S YOUR CALLING?

whats-your-calling-1 Have you ever been asked "what's your dream job" or better yet "what's your calling" and been like "um...what". Yeah, me too. 

After realizing my business Hazel Wonderland, a wedding invitation design business, was something I was really good at but I did not love to do, I had to dig deeper.

I started looking at the things I LOVED to do. I knew I loved music, I loved promoting and supporting creatives, I love encouraging people and I loved inspiring people to follow their hearts.

So I combined that with my God given talent - hand-crafted art - and voila! Here I am a year later with my new self-titled business (because why would it be anything other than my name, right?) combining my love for helping encourage and inspire other creatives to live their dream with my hand-made art and I found bliss. 

That's right, I FOUND BLISS. I am living my dream and I want you to live yours too because it's pretty awesome over here.

Find your own bliss by printing off this PDF and following along with an exercise that will help you to uncover your true calling.

Let me know what you discover in the comments below or at my Facebook Page here. Read more about your calling with this article Career vs. Calling.

Are you living your dream or something close to it? How did you discover what it is you love to do?  And if you are living your dream, I want to meet you. Seriously, if you are living your dream job email me because I want to interview you on this blog. 

47 RESOURCES TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

47-resources-to-grow-your-business Today I shared 47 exclusive tips, books, blogs, articles, tools, materials and websites to help you grow your craft, expertise and business successfully with my newsletter subscribers. Receive your very own list by subscribing to my newsletter:

I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here