Hi! I’m Amber, Welcome to my online front porch. I believe that you can run a profitable and successful business with heart and purpose. One that allows you more time and energy for your family and for the simple joys in life. My mission is to help passion-driven mompreneurs profit from bringing creativity into every aspect of their life.
1. They launch something and don't tell anyone about it.
“Build it and they will come” doesn’t quite work anymore friends. One share, one email is not going to produce the launch efforts you desire.
It takes more than a brief mention to our overly digitally stimulated minds for something new to sink into our heads. Repetition and new angles go a long way, my friend.
I was picking up lunch the other day... when a UPS truck rolled up alongside me. Printed on the side of it was T. Swift’s new album cover. Yes, on a UPS truck!
This is so ridiculously brilliant!
Think about it—UPS trucks travel all over the country, likely delivering Amazon packages daily and pulling into suburban neighborhoods and driveways like yours.
Have I bought her new album yet? No.
However, I’m reminded of the opportunity to do so often or I at least add her to my Spotify playlist which ends up sending some revenue her way anyway. Marketing mission accomplished in T. Swift’s book if you ask me.
2. They never quite define what success is for them.
If you never quite define your success, the end goal is going to be a constantly moving target.
If I asked you, right now, would you be able to define what success is in your business?
If not, drop everything, grab a pen, and take three minutes to describe what success is FOR YOU (not anyone else—this is key!)
If you were able to share your definition of success with me…
When was the last time you actually looked at the numbers to prove if other kinds of success are happening in your business?
When did you last record your metrics?
I’m talking sales, conversion rates, traffic, engagement… now before you cringe, know that I can help you with this! (See below.)
My point is... if you don’t name it (and measure it), you can’t claim it. If you don’t celebrate when you’ve reached your marker of success, this will be a long, unfulfilling journey.
So today, I’m sharing my version of success. A pink beach house steps away from the sparkling blue waters. Just our little family for the week and an out of office notification on (except for this one email!)
I named it, I claimed it, and mama paid for it all. This is one act I give my family, and it is a definition of success for me.
This month, I’m thrilled to invite you to an opportunity to rectify these mistakes (and more):
I’m writing this email while planning for the 11th Inspired Retreat experience which (for the first time!) includes 8 weeks of mastermind coaching. Register now or leave a comment for more information.
“I keep hearing about how “life changing” Inspired Retreat is.”
“What am I signing up for?”
“Is my business ready for this?”
“Am I ready this?”
“Inspired is a big investment . . . is it worth it?”
“What will I walk away with?”
“Can I really step away from my clients, my babies, and my life for a week?”
If you’re hesitating on investing your money and time in Inspired Retreat, know that you aren’t alone. Over 200 beautiful, creative women have attended Inspired Retreat since it launched in 2012 and every single one of them questioned themselves before making the leap and joining me on this wonderful journey.
Every week, I chat with creatives who are interested in Inspired but want a little more clarity on if it’s the right fit for them… Sometimes it is, and other times it isn’t. No matter what, though, I love having the opportunity to talk with these lovely ladies who are building dreams, growing businesses, and raising families.
I WANT TO TALK TO YOU, TOO.
That’s why I’m hosting a “lunch and learn” style webinar where I’ll walk through everything you have ever wanted to know about Inspired Retreat. So grab a glass of sweet tea and join me on August 1 at 1:00pm (Central).
Whether you are an attendee at our TENTH gathering in September 2017 or you’re considering attending in the future, this webinar will uncover all the delightful details that goes into our one of a kind experience.
Smaller conferences and retreats offer a whole lot of advantages over larger conferences. (That’s not to say I don’t participate and still attend conferences, because I do, but there’s something magical about a smaller gathering.)
I created Inspired Retreat to be the opposite of the conferences I had experienced time and time again. I wanted to package up all the good stuff that I loved about attending workshops and bring it to other creative mompreneurs and business owners.
So, if you’re making plans this upcoming season to invest in a business learning experience, I’m sharing all the ways smaller conferences like Inspired Retreat are a better investment to the larger conference experience:
1. YOU’LL FORM GENUINE CONNECTIONS WHO WILL BECOME TRUSTED FRIENDS.
Side conversations are where the good stuff happens. Big conferences are filled with hundreds of people, and, yeah, you’ll introduce yourself to each other between breaks and exchange a dozen business cards, but you’ll rarely have the opportunity to dig deeper. For me, the magic of Inspired Retreat happens on the sidelines… in the passing conversations between speaker sessions, in the long-lingering discussions in your pajamas after an inspiring Fireside session, or in the cheerful bantering during the trail hike.
2. SMALLER CLASS SESSIONS = BIGGER BREAKTHROUGHS.
In a big ballroom, there’s very little time (if any) to get your questions answered or to approach the speaker because, more often than not, a huge line forms within 30 seconds of speaker wrapping up their talk. This was so frustrating to me at conferences, because it gave little chance to discuss the material that I was fired up about. It’s one reason why the speaker-to-attendee ratio is so small at Inspired Retreat. With 12 speakers and 24 attendees, you have the opportunity to ask relevant questions, spark discussions, and generally immerse yourself in the experience.
3. THE FOOD IS WAY BETTER. (AND YOUR ROOM ACTUALLY FEELS LIKE A HOME-AWAY-FROM-HOME.)
If you’ve seen one hotel room, you’ve seen them all, am I right? Let’s not even talk about how bland the room service tastes. When you attend a large, industry-oriented conference, usually only the essentials are included. At Inspired Retreat, and other smaller conferences, the hosts have more creative freedom with the space, the menu, and the accommodations.
4. THE SESSIONS WILL ACTUALLY APPLY TO YOUR BUSINESS.
Instead of a huge catalog of courses or session topics, you’re going to find content that is more focused around your specific industry needs and wants. Hosts like me have already done a lot of research and devoted time to selecting actionable content and relevant topics for the experience. I’m not trying to please everyone with dozens and dozens of different offerings. I’m bringing YOU the things that YOU ask for in my annual surveys.
5. DIVAS NEED NOT APPLY.
There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a big conference and knowing that you can’t have any interaction with the speakers because they only came to speak, and they checked out before their discussion even ended. Smaller conferences have a higher likelihood of speakers being integrated with the attendees. At Inspired Retreat, speakers also serve as mentors during the entire experience, so they’re learning and collaborating right alongside you.
The idea of being able to have a deep conversation with a speaker over a cocktail and charcuterie platter seems laughable at one of those larger conferences. (They usually charge more for this special privilege if it’s even offered.) At Inspired Retreat and other smaller conferences, you’ll find ample opportunities to talk to your favorite business owner about what you’re envisioning for the future of your business.
6. IT’S MORE INTIMATE, RELATABLE, AND SUPPORTIVE.
Most people in the room are going to be in a similar season of their business, with relatable behind-the-scenes struggles and daring goals pushing them outside their comfort zone. It creates an authentic, safe space for everyone to share. You’re not going to need extra time to explain the backstory. They’ve been there or are there, right there with you… so you can jump right into unburdening the BIG things holding you back while others bravely share what has worked for them and what hasn’t.
7. YOU WON’T BE ASKED TO BUY A MAGICAL UNICORN WHO CREATES RAINBOWS WITH POTS OF GOLD AT THE END.
At larger conferences, speakers are often pitching products they sell throughout their session. And there’s probably an oversized hall packed to the brim with booths of products and services that are “perfect for your business”. Personally, I care more about actionable content than I do about the stuff that I leave with or more Investments that I have to make afterwards.
8. YOU’LL LEAVE WITH A SOLID ACTION PLAN.
Speaking of actionable content, smaller conferences like Inspired Retreat are going to equip you with relevant strategies for your business. Their whole focus is in making sure you leave with a game plan. At larger conferences, I find myself taking pages and pages of notes, but rarely do I walk away with a plan of how or what to implement first.
9. YOU AREN’T FIGHTING FOR A GOOD SEAT, THEY’RE ALL GOOD.
In a big ballroom, you enter and make a game plan: Either you’re going to sit at the back because you know you’re going to leave the session early or you’re not sure if this is going to be really any good… or you attempt to find a seat towards the front to quickly hop in line for a meet and greet with the speaker. At a smaller conferences, that’s thrown out the window. They are way more likely to have a more intimate setting and learning experience where every seat is truly the best seat in the house.
Interested In Learning More About Inspired Retreat And Joining Us This September?
Find all the details about our experience here, or sign up for the webinar replay.
It’s an Amber party this week with fellow Tennessee mama Amber Sandberg! My episode on the Mom Inspired Show, a new podcast for women, went live today, and I had such a great time talking withAmber about marketing strategies and setting goals for your creative business.
On December 30, 2016, my business celebrated eight (yes, 8!) years of officially being a legal entity!
I always laugh (and maybe cringe) at this date because, being the naive business owner I was, I decided to file my single member LLC two days before the end of the calendar year. You see, I was ready to take this business to the big leagues and get official. A sole proprietorship just wouldn’t do in my mind. What this also meant was that I had to pay a few hundred dollars in taxes and filing and annual report fees for that calendar year that I had no clue about. I could have just waited a few days and started in the new year. Lesson learned.
My entrpreneurship journey didn’t just start there though. When I was 19 years old, a college sorority sister and I created a handmade card company. We called it the ABC card company (Amber + Breanne + cards. Pure originality, right?!). Realizing there was a need for cute custom cards to sell to our sorority sisters for all of the various sisterhood events, we jumped in with Suzy Zoo stickers and raffia ribbons. We had great access to a customer base and a sweet profit margin.
2002 was the year that I first joined the online marketplace as an entrepreneur. After college, I moved back home to Las Vegas and I began teaching myself more graphic design software programs. I’ve always had a real passion and love for parties, so this led me to open up one of the very first eBay businesses. (Longggg before Etsy was created!) I designed and sold custom-made printed invitation designs for baby showers and bridal showers in a store called RSVP Paper Co.
I have learned a thing or two about running this particular business, so I thought it’d be fun to celebrate 8 years with 8 things I’ve learned along the way. There’s been happy stories and frustrating memories, late nights, and big wins. I wouldn’t have changed a thing (well, except waiting three more days to file that LLC).
The eight things I’m sharing today are for anywhere in your entrepreneurial journey.
1. YOU HAVE TO TREAT THIS BUSINESS AS A BUSINESS.
You may have a huge passion for whatever you do, and that is great! I want you to be passionate about the work that you create. However, there are some really not so fun things that come along with being an entrepreneur. All the business administrative things being one of them. The sooner you start to embrace them and be open to learning new skills — whether that means from a financial standpoint, or from a marketing standpoint — you will need to know how to run the business side.
No longer can you use the excuse “I’m a creative person, and I’m not good at these other things. I’m not good at math…” Guess what? You’re about to go back to school! Don’t ever stop learning. As one of my favorite online marketers, Marie Forleo, says: “everything is figureoutable.” Google was my friend for many many years. However, after some time and when the profit was there, I decided that I needed to invest in professionals. From accountants to legal services, you will eventually need to invest in the services of professionals to help you run this business legally and profitably.
2. YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING!
As the old adage goes, if you’re not excited about it, nobody’s going to be excited about it! This is also connected to the idea I love to drive home: if you don’t tell everyone about what you’re doing (repeatedly), they’re not going to know.
Today, we are very distracted. We have so many messages flying by and at us. Your first instinct is to say things only once. You think, “I’ll put it out there and that everyone will just come running.” That’s really not the case. You need to be excited consistently. You need to talk about it over and over again because you truly are fired up about it!
3. LET’S GET REAL. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU REALLY HAVE AVAILABLE TO DO #ALLTHETHINGS?
In my early years of business ownership, I had a lot of big crazy dreams. I still do. However, how much importance you place on those goals may need to lead to a reality check.
Do these dreams line up with where you are at in your life story? Can you manage the responsibilities of a growing business while you’re growing your family? This gut check is something that I do often now when deciding what new services or products that I want to create next for my various businesses.
I am definitely a self-proclaimed chasing-the-next-shiny-object person. Like you, I have so many ideas that I want to implement! I have learned hard that I need to table more than half of them. I have learned to trust that the right time will come along. Or usually by the time comes around, that idea doesn’t sound so great after all. Know what you’re capable of right now. Remember, you have to be a sane person for your family and for your customers.
4. MAKE YOUR OWN SUCCESS STORY.
Early on, I thought quitting my corporate career to make six figures as a stylist and designer while styling amazing weddings all day long was making it big. That was the success story I chased — how I could benefit me financially, my passions, and my needs. As I started to realize some of those things, they didn’t feel so great after all. I was worn out and nothing felt like it was enough.
Today? My success is tied to how I can help and serve more women. In also what I can do for my family, and how I can impact others in this life in a bigger way. There are many entrepreneurs I still look up to, but I don’t want what they have. That’s their story. I have my own idea of success.
Maybe your success story is running a business for only 10 hours a week. Maybe your success story could mean using the profits to treat yourself or go on a vacation or pay off debt. YOU get to decide this story and how you choose to run your business.
5. COMMUNITY IS SO IMPORTANT.
You are going to need some cheerleaders in this journey. More than likely, your family and friends are not going to understand what you’re doing.
It’s okay! Thankfully we live in such a digitally connected world that you can have virtual business best friends all across the country. Most of my closest friends don’t live where I live. They are all entrepreneurs that I met along the way in my journey by attending the conferences and connecting in groups. If you’re looking for this type of connection and community you can find it in my Facebook group Inspired Creative Biz Community or join us at an upcoming Inspired Retreat.
6. PUT ON YOUR BIG-GIRL PANTS AND DO IT ANYWAY.
Fear is something that is going to come up a lot. You’re going to doubt yourself, your talent, and your capability to really make this business something. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak. However some of my best ideas and project executions have come from doing something that seemed really scary and really putting myself out there. In almost every instance it was 1000 times worth it. When you start to have that anxiety creep in, “put on your big girl pants and do it anyway!”
7. FIND AND MAKE TIME TO BE CREATIVELY INSPIRED.
When we’re running a creative business, we think that all day long our lives are creative! Maybe you started your business thinking “I’m going to be creating/designing/painting/insert anything all the time, and I will be SO fulfilled!” The truth is, a lot of the times we forget to have fun in this business. The creating becomes a chore. Making time for new creative activities is so important! It will help inspire new ideas and make your work even better! I recommend you find an activity that’s not related to your business. Your action item: make a list of activities you’ve always wanted to try and do one of them in the next 3 months. These new creative adventures will help inspire your business in new ways and it will be a lot of fun along the way.
8. DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE REASON WHY YOU STARTED THIS BUSINESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Maybe there was a certain joy that was missing in your life. Maybe you wanted something else in your identity. Maybe you knew that you had a skill that could really benefit this world. Remember that when the times are hard. There are going to be late nights. There are going to be tears and frustrations. But if you can remember your why and refer to it often, it will be just what you need to keep going and realize that this is all worth it.
There’s so many more lessons I’ve learned (and maybe could even write a whole book about it one day) than just these 8, but I think this is a good start! What do you think? Do any of these resonnate with you? Have one to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Warning: The mere reference of “marketing plan” in conversation with fellow entrepreneurs can give blank expressions, nervous giggles, and a half dozen excuses of why we don’t have one.
I’m with you, girl. We have a overstuffed inbox and scattered to-do lists all over our desks, stuck to our planners, and inside our purses. The idea of pausing it all — to make a plan — sounds impossibly hard. Not the fun kind of work we want to be doing.
Today, I’m sharing why creative business owners NEED a marketing plan and organized strategies in their life. You my friend, are made to shine in this business! Here are five reasons to get planning:
1. All of the marketing efforts in your business need to be tied to a WHY or you’re wasting your time.
All too often, I hear my friends saying, “I know I should be doing an email newsletter right now. I know I should be doing X posts per week. Everyone is doing Y and Z... but honestly, I really don't know why I should be doing these things.”
Yes, you might have ten dozen ideas and business strategies you need to implement. Really though, you need to know the WHY behind all of these things, or you're wasting your time! More than likely, you don't have a lot of time to spend on your business, and you’re trying to get the most out of every precious minute you put into it. Therefore, it makes no sense to be spending hours on Instagram or hours on this other channel, and really not knowing the purpose or intended results these activities will or will not give you. When you’re not sure, you give up. You decide it’s not worth it. A marketing plan is going to answer that for you and plan your invested time for you in the best way possible!
2. Have any plans at all to launch a new product or service this year? A marketing plan and strategy is going to be your “playbook” to making it happen.
Marketing plans are created to give you predictable results. I don’t know about you, but I’m all about predicting things in my business. If you have a new product or service coming out, mentioning it a few times in a social media post and hoping for the best is NOT going to cut it. If you're going to spend the time and energy to create this new product or service, you need to give it the best chance it has to reach as many people as you desire!
3. You and your business are more than just “creative.”
If you thought your creative business was just going to be “creative” all day long, I have news for you — it's time to graduate to the big leagues! If you're ready to say “yes!” to truly making this business work and being successful, then marketing plans and learning new marketing tools are some of the things that you're going to have to stop resisting and start embracing.
4. Big wins need to be celebrated + you need to know how to get more of them!
Did your inbox fill up with dozens of order receipts or client inquiries? Hooray! Let's analyze how that happened so we can go and make sure we get more of them. Marketing plans do not need to be complicated, they can be simple. Our whole goal in them is to make sure the activities that we're doing to market our business are producing results. When we have a plan in place, we can easily see what's working and what’s not working, then pivot as we need to. I don't know about you, but when I'm ready to toss confetti, I want to know that it's because I made it happen, not because luck was on my side.
5. Marketing plans take out the guesswork of what to do next.
Are you sitting down at your desk each day not really sure what to do next on your to-do list? A marketing plan will outline step-by-step what needs to be done, on which day, so there's no guesswork. This will also give you the ability to hand off tasks to other team members if you have them. You can decide the best way to implement the plan, for you. Maybe you want to knock out a bunch of content all at once (called “batching”) on an upcoming day where you’ll have a solid chunk of time to work on your business? Your marketing plan is going to be your to-do list! No more will you feel scattered, but instead feel focused and productive.
Creating a marketing plan is not as difficult as it seems. It will keep you organized and on top of things. Get my free Kickstart Your Marketing Plan workbook with a video tutorial!
Are you sold on the idea of creating a marketing plan for your business?Great! I have a wonderful FREE resource for you!
Sign up below to receive the Kickstart Your Marketing Plan workbook. It’s designed to help you plan out the big picture of your marketing plan in under an hour! This will be a great resource to help you map out your marketing plan for the year (no experience necessary!) and it also comes with a FREE video training where I will help walk you through the workbook. Just think: you, me, your favorite drink (mine will be in a mason jar!), digging into your marketing goals — what a fun strategy soiree it will be!
Creative Business Markers Owners Marketing Strategies
There's a lot of noise today out in the internet and social media about everything we feel we have to be doing as entrepreneurs. There's email newsletters and Instagram and Pinterest and SEO and #allthethings. It can be so confusing and overwhelming and, worst of all, distracting!
If you're running a side hustle or only have a limited number of hours to work on your business (hello, mamas!) you're probably wondering which marketing tactics are THE MOST important to implement... so I grabbed five of my business besties and asked them about the top marketing strategies for their products and services. (Would it surprise you that only one of them even mentioned something from that list up there?)
What is the most important marketing strategy or tactic you use today and why? How has it been beneficial to your creative business?
My most important marketing strategy is to run everything through the filter of the Lily & Val brand. Branding is so much more than a logo or colors — it's the heart & soul of a creative business and it dictates customer perception. A solid brand will stand out from the competition and provide consistency in your marketing efforts. Having a well-defined brand has benefitted my creative business because it provides a roadmap for my decisions and makes sure I'm crafting a specific experience for my customers.
Investing in real connections with others... It could be through good-old fashioned face-to-face chats at conferences and events, being fully present and invested in my clients' missions, helping out my colleagues in a bind, or even sharing my difficult life/biz lessons with complete strangers. I seek to help and inspire through the lens of friendship and service to others. It has always served me well as my #1 marketing and biz strategy and has always been the catalyst in making the amazing things happen. It's incredible to see what happens when the marketing turns from you selling, into them receiving help, love and caring through your brand.
I try not to put all my eggs in one basket, but Pinterest is a huge focus for me. It's my number 2 source of traffic, just under Google searches. I love creating awesome graphics for specific pages and posts on my site to drive users to my best content. It's helped me increase not only my traffic but also my affiliate earnings!
The most important marketing strategy I use is to be myself, tell my story, and truly connect with my audience. The more I put myself, my life, and my experiences out there, the stronger the connection becomes with my followers. Women like to buy from other women they can identify with. My goal is to inspire other women and moms to easily create beautiful parties and homes that they take pride in. If I can continue to show them how to accomplish this, I hope they'll keep coming back for more!
My best marketing strategy tip is to actually have a plan: a marketing plan! Determine what months will be active or inactive launching months and then define what each month's focus will be. The plan acts as a checkpoint whenever you get a case of "shiny object syndrome." If the idea isn't inline with your plan, it's a NO!
For me, my best marketing strategy is to always take the time to look at the hard data to analyze and to predict the outcome of my marketing campaigns and tactics.
I'm a natural marketing and data nerd, so I enjoy looking at numbers and analyze how a campaign worked in the past. Now that isn't to say that I don't try new things (because I do love testing!) but understanding these past figures helps me predict the outcome of a similar marketing campaign in the future.
For example, if you know that a previous email campaign generated a certain number of click-throughs, which then led to a certain amount of people on your site, and then a percentage of them bought your product, producing X dollars of sales — you could then deduce that if your email list was twice as large as last time, you could potentially double the results next time! Now, that's a really generic example, but it's an approach that has always been ingrained in me. Numbers and data are your friend and unlock so much amazing information. All of my marketing plans are based on that strategy, and it’s one that works!
You can plan for success, too!
Today I'm sharing a FREE workbook and video training to help kickstart your marketing plan in under an hour! With the video, I'll walk you through 8 exercises that are going to lay the foundation for you marketing. It will be as if I came straight to your home office (or dining room table if your office is on the move) to chat with you!
When you download this tool, you’ll also be signed up to receive more FREE resources and updates of my upcoming Blooming Business Kits course launching soon that was created to help you cut through the clutter and utilize smart marketing tactics to grow your creative business!