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.

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.

STORYTELLING WITH SARAH ROSBORG

Sarah-Rosborg-Storytelling I'm excited to embark on my new Storytelling series that interviews creatives, individuals and entrepreneurs doing remarkable things, creating amazing art and inspiring ideas and movements all over the world.

To kick off the series is the talented Sarah Rosborg, owner and charity guru of Castle Design based in Australia. A few years back I met Sarah Rosborg via email while working with a client on branding - Sarah was working on the clients web design while I was branding the clients business. We immediately hit it off and exchanged ideas and passions about charities and how we could collaborate to create something amazing together. Nothing has surfaced yet (my bad) but in the meantime, you guys should get to know graphic designer, business owner, mom, wife, philanthropist and creative Sarah Rosborg.

What are you doing today or what have you done in the past to successfully grow your business?

I did a lot of free work for charities when I started my business and from there I started getting more work through word of mouth. I treat my customers as I wish to be treated and I think I do a good job with their design work :)

Tell me a little more about your work with charities and your philanthropic roots. How did you get started working with them? What was your first charity and what did you give? How did you know you wanted to work for charities and give your time to others in need?

I do a lot of work with many charities around the world. I would only do this if I could afford to! but alas we all have to pay our bills. I started working with them when I first went to Kenya in 2005. 1 week after Ieft Kenya I was involved in a horrific car accident. I was pretty much bed bound for 9-12 months.. i taught myself web design and other items involved and set up a charity in Australia for Mission in Action who was who I had visited in Kenya. I havent looked back. I have always had a thing for Africa.. My mother says I have spoken of it my whole life.. so I guess I always knew!

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What's one of your greatest accomplishments?

I think my greatest accomplishment is starting my own company which allows me to work from anywhere in the world doing what I love whilst still having a wonderful family life. I have also set it up so I can continue to help charities who are in need. I couldn’t love my job anymore and have met many wonderful people on the way.

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What's one short-term and one long-term goal of yours?

Current short-term goal is to get a new a new charity I am starting in Australia registered and approved! It’s a lot of work to get a charity registered so I am able to fundraise in Australia but once that is done I am hoping to start a sponsorship program for the girls at Rafiki Mwema in Kenya.

My long-term goal would be to hire a web designer to help me with my workload. I would love to have a great team of people working for Castle Design.. I would manage the company and work and be able to focus on my charity design work more while other staff are taking care of all of my other clients..

What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and what did you do to overcome it?

The only challenge I have faced since starting Castle Design is the lack of confidence that I am not good enough to be charging people or to have my own company. I would look at others and be envious of their wonderful websites and amazing skills.. Since I have stopped looking at others and focused on my own work and clients things have been much better.. There is enough work for all of us in the world and I believe if I do a good job and treat my customers well I will continue to have enough work.

What kind of advice would you give to aspiring philanthropists looking to donate their time or work to charities and others in need?

Money is not always what is needed. Skills and support is so needed.. There are so many people out there working in the field but they have no idea about the marketing , website, social media side.. this side of a charity is so necessary. Make sure you know who you are working for and if you can, visit the project. It will inspire you more than you can ever imagine.

Any words of advice for other creatives and artists looking to start and grow their expertise and business?

As I keep saying.. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Do free work for people in need. Give more than people expect to receive. Love your job and if you don’t love it STOP!

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Download this free quote as an 8.5x11" print here. 

What's the first and the last thing you did today? First thing I did was wake up to my daughter early this morning. I tried to convince her that it would be a good idea to come into Mummy's bed for a cuddle so I could keep my eyes closed for 5 more minutes but she wasn't as keen as I was. The day is not over yet and it is only mid morning and I am about to get a strong coffee!

As a business owner, mother and wife, what's your secret to balancing life and work and how do you stay inspired?

I am always inspired. There is no problem of that lacking.. my problem is knowing when to stop work. If someone can give me some advice on how to stop working and relax I would like to hear it.

And just for fun:

What's the last music you listened to? Sia - Breathe me

What’s the last book you read? It has been so long since I have read a book.. If I am not looking after my daughter my head is in my computer.. but I think it was a book on the band TOOL. Maynard Keenan fascinates me.

What's your favorite dessert? I don’t have a sweet tooth so would have to say a packet of corn chips! or wine. Wine is delicious.

Coffee or tea? Strong coffee. I am married to a Swede. strong is the only option!

To find out more about Sarah and her work go to her website, like her on Facebook and Instagram. Have any questions? Email Sarah.

Click the image below to download yourself a free 8.5x11" print of Sarah's quote, I think this would make a great addition to my wall. How about you?

Love it or STOP! POSTER

Storytelling is a series that interviews creatives, individuals and entrepreneurs doing remarkable things, creating amazing art and inspiring ideas and movements all over the world. Are you one?  I want to hear from you, email me today.

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

4 WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

4-ways-to-accomplish-your-new-years-resolution Writing a resolution is like a contract to myself that I will live my dream and accomplish everything I set my heart to. So when the end of the year approaches I get all giddy about writing my next year of goals.

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a resolution is actually identifying your goals and writing them out. But to me the hardest part is following through with them.

So to prep for the New Year here are 4 tips on how to write a killer resolution for 2014 so you can reach your goals, grow, make more money, find balance and live your dream.

1. WRITE IT DOWN

Probably the most important step of all is to write your goals down. If you don't write it down, it'll never get done. It will swim around in your head with all of the other ideas you have until you inevitably forget about it. For the past 5 or so years, I have a dedicated journal where I write out my resolutions, That way every year I can look back and see what I've accomplished. Get some more tips and download a goal-setting worksheet here. 

2. SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.

Specific: Be as detailed and precise as possible. If you're looking to grow your expertise, how do you plan to do that? Sign up for a ecourse or read for 30" a day? Whatever the goal, be specific.

Measurable: If you can't measure it, you'll never know if you've reached it. For example, when you set a goal to write a book, include the amount of pages you want to write, how long you want to write per day and so on.

Attainable: Our goals come from our daydreams, brainstorms and ideas and sometimes they can be lofty. In order to reach your goals, they must be attainable. For example, if you want to blog 4 times per week, but really only have time for 3 days a week, set a goal that's more realistic for you.  You can always over achieve your goal.

Relevant: Always make sure your goals are aligned with your vision. If you're accepting new wedding clients, but your goals is to work with creative entrepreneurs then you find yourself off course, bitter and burnt out because you're doing work irrelevant to your vision.

Time-bound: I religiously use google calendar, iCal, my iPhone and my notebook to track all of my goals with their specific dates. Over and over again, if I add a goal to my list without a deadline, it never gets done. So when you write a goal down, give it a date of completion and try to stick with it.

3. PLAN IT OUT

Starting with your last goal of 2014, work your way backward. Imagine you have accomplished all of your goals for 2014, ask yourself how did I get here? Begin by writing down your last goal of 2014, then asking what did I do just before this, and what did I do just before that and so on. Continue to work your way backward all the way to the present. Here's an example:

5. Become a best-selling author (last goal for 2014)

4. Tour the US promoting my book

3. Publish my book

2. Write my book

1. Create outline and gather ideas for my book

Once you have those steps in place, you can fill in even more steps in between each one, like:

3. Publish my book

  • submit draft to editor
  • identify my readers
  • research how to publish a book

2. Write my book

4. SHARE IT WITH OTHERS

Being held accountable by others is powerful. Several studies like this one proves that when you share your goals with others, you're more likely to follow through with them. So talk about what you want to do in 2014, share it with you friends and family, on your blog, email, newsletter or social media. Maybe once a month or every other month you want to share your goals and how you've accomplished them. Whatever makes sense to you, share wherever you can. That way when you're feeling doubtful, fearful, unsure or uninspired you have your tribe to hold you accountable.

I have just a few slots left for the 4 week Creative Coaching Package for $275, normal price is $550. Treat yourself to this 4 week plan that helps you get organized and plan out your resolutions, create a strategy for success and hold you accountable so you can make more money and start reaching your goals. Learn more about the package here  and email me for more information and to reserve your spot. Price is good till January 1, 2014.

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Writing a book (if you couldn't tell) is one of my goals.

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ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

acknowledging-your-accomplishments I was catching up with a friend the other night and she asked me how business was, more specifically, what I was currently working on. So, I answered.

I started off with the one project that I thought was most exciting and notable. Then I continued with another project that was also very exciting, then I started to share the next project and again, equally a very exciting project. At that very moment, I realized something. I realized that all of the projects I was currently working on were all equally notable, exciting and exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was working with my dream clients (other creatives and entrepreneurs) on projects that fill my mission, heart and soul.

After we said our goodbyes I felt like I was on top of the world - my world. I was doing what I love and loving every moment of it. Later that night when I shared this realization with my husband, I reflected on the conversation my friend and I shared and found and an abundant amount of gratitude, contentment, accomplishment and most importantly I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Yep, I was proud of myself and ok with admitting it.

I enjoyed that moment so much, that I had to share what I learned with you. So, my challenge to you is to write your accomplishments down in your notebook, journal, blog or even here in the comments below…anywhere. Just make sure you write them down and give yourself some credit for all of the amazing victories you've tackled.

Tell me, what accomplishments you've had lately? What projects are you working on that excite you? What goals have you reached?

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Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to travel the West Coast. I recall several films that captured breathtaking views of the land feeding my desire to go see it for myself. It wasn't until this summer that I finally saw it in person. My husband and I took 2 weeks to explore and drive up the entire West Coast to fulfill this dream of mine. We started in San Diego and drove all the way to Seattle, WA. One of those days we camped just off the beach near Big Sur, California where this picture was taken. Moments after I snapped this image, we saw a whale pass by.