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Upcoming Workshops

Establishing Your Brand
Parisoma
Wednesday, May 16
6 - 7:30 pm

200 Yards

@ Moxi Salon
Opening Reception
May 5, 6-9pm

@ Rare Device
Submission Deadline
April 30th

 

"My meetings revolutionized my business because I allowed myself the time, under the guidance of Lightbox SF, to ask myself some really hard questions."

“They helped me so much when it came to pushing my ideas to a new level. They always came with examples to look at and people to talk to and really pushed me out of my comfort zone so I could do more and more. I highly recommend them!!!”

"I would recommend Genevieve for overall plan development and artist marketing to anyone that has a creative idea, the mind of an artist and loves the web.”

"They are always there for me with words of wisdom when I'm feeling a little lost or need help with the next step in my jewelry making company. They have been a huge help in my business!!"


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Tuesday
Mar132012

When Is It Time To Ask For Marketing Help?

At what point do you decide you need to hire someone to help you with your marketing either as a coach, consultant, or to simply take over?

This isn’t an easy question to answer because honestly for everyone it’s different. But a prospective client asked it of me recently and it got me thinking how do you decide to ask for help? At what point do you turn to someone outside your business for support and advice?

This prospective client isn’t in business yet, but has done a fair amount of the research to write her business plan and had a strong notion of where she is going. She is at a great point to hire a marketing coach. Since she hasn’t actually launched her brand she’ll be able to put everything in place to hit the ground running with a clear vision and identity.

However, there are many of us that don’t have the funds to hire help until we’re actually bringing in revenue. In that case we do what we can and gather free information wherever we can until it’s either not working or we feel we have the resources to really kick it into over drive. If things aren’t working anymore it could be that you’ve exhausted the free resources at your disposal and now need to invest in the business. It could also be that you’re just too busy to put in the marketing efforts you really need to. This is the point where you bring in a coach or consultant to refresh brand and really take it to the next level or you hire someone to take the weight off your shoulders and run your marketing efforts for you.

But what if you’ve been in business for a little while and things are just going? Not good or not bad, just moving forward. You’re in that kind of in between place feeling like you’ve accomplished some amazing things, but still feeling like you could a little more. I have to say this is my favorite point to begin working with a client. I’m able to see what they’ve done so far that’s worked and really help them capitalize on it.

See what I mean, I really didn’t answer the question and you can probably see yourself at any of these points deciding yes or no that you wanted and needed to ask for help.

So what does it really come down to? When you get to a point in your business where you feel that you need to break through a wall, that you don’t know what your next step should be, or that the business is running you it’s time to ask for help. This could be in the first 6 months of planning, 6 months after launching, or 6 years into running your business. This is where I tell you to trust your gut. If you’re thinking that you might need help you most likely do.

Hiring a coach or consultant gives you an outside perspective that allows you to prioritize your projects, refocus your energy, and see a clear path to what needs to get done and when. It infuses you with a new dose of information that you can put to use right away. And most importantly it gives you the reassurance that your on the right path and empowers you with the knowledge that you can succeed.

Monday
Mar122012

Creating Space - Thoughts On Spring Cleaning

Yes! Officially an extra hour of daylight! If you are like me this also motivates you to do some spring cleaning. In order to make that process a little less overwhelming, I invite you to break it down into segments and in an order of priorities. Of course, I am going to lean you towards working on your studio space or office desk first. Why? Because I truly believe that if your working space (aka, the space that brings in the cash money or the space that should help you create amazing ideas that will someday bring in the cash money) is efficient and organized you will...

1. Be able to get more done in less time and have more time to work on the other projects

2. Allow for more space for creativity with an organized space

So that's my argument for getting that studio or office space ready for a year of empowerment and happiness. Let's get started!

Your first assignment is to take a good look at your space. Take out a notebook, draw a line down the middle of the page and start a list of what is working and what is not working in your space. Is it the room itself? Is it dark and dreary? Do you have trouble finding a place to put things? Have you set yourself up for failure due to lack of good organizing system.

If you use Pinterest, I suggest starting a board with spaces and systems that speak to you. If you have another way of gathering images use that! Whatever it is start the thought process of constructing a new space that will help you work more efficiently and happily.

Are you one of the lucky ones that has a creative place that works for you? Surely there is something that you can do improve the space or simply give it a good cleaning. Updating your studio from time to time may also lead to new ideas and inspirations.

Looking forward to seeing your boards. Please let us know what you come up with.

Wednesday
Mar072012

Creating Space - Spring Ahead

image by maggie nessWe have been spending most of the winter months reflecting on our most inner wants and needs. We have discussed what we want to change, where we hope to see our work in 2012. Now is the time to make those changes happen. Spring is a beautiful time to tap into our natural desires for renewal and development. Hopefully you have been spending the last few months thinking about what you hope for the new year. Now let's make that happen!

There are a lot of new and exciting things happening at Lightbox SF. For the next few months, I will be guiding you through fun, new ways to organize you workspace and better utilize the hours in your day. I will be guest posting about time management at Handmade Success and about living more consciously and efficiently at Kanelstrand blog. Both of these sites are amazing and I am so happy to be part of their amazingly creative family. So many exciting things are happening here at Lightbox and now more than ever we hope you join along.

Yes to longer days, warm spring sunsets and big dreams!

Tuesday
Mar062012

How To Build Your Twitter Following

Over the last two weeks I’ve talked about why you should use Twitter and how to jump in and get started. If you’ve followed my advice you’ve been playing around a little bit, but you’re probably starting to think about numbers. How many people respond or retweet your tweets and how many followers you have.

Like all worthwhile things it takes time, patience, and a bit of dedication. The @lightboxsf account only just broke 500 followers this last month and we’ve been using it for about a year and a half.

Now that you’ve gotten the hang of how it all works, it’s time to get focused and make Twitter work for you. The key to gaining followers and influence is to contribute and connect.

Lists

The concept of lists was my first pivotal discovery. When you view a list you see only the tweets of the people that have been added to it. It allowed to me to focus, get rid of the general noise of Twitter, and participate in a more meaningful way. You can create your own lists or follow those of others. You also don’t need to be following the user to add them to a list nor are you suddenly following everyone on a list you choose to follow.

I have a list of local handmade business owners, one for outside SF, one for social media folks, one for publicity folks, and my favorite - a private list of movers and shakers. This last list is a group of people I look at as influencers and role models.

Join The Conversation

Jumping in can sometimes be intimidating, but you just gotta start. I find the easiest way is to comment on a photo or article that someone shared. Just say thanks for sharing or tell them what tidbit you got out of it. Look for questions and jump in with your two cents or even say that you also are struggling with that same issue. Ask your own questions and be sure to thank whoever responds to you. And one of the best ways of connecting, but maybe the scariest is to just introduce yourself to someone. Say hello and tell them you’ve been reading their blog for years, or are inspired by their photography, or are saving up for their next e-course. We all like a little flattery and people on Twitter are no different.

Twitter Chats

My favorite way to make new connections is to participate in a Twitter chat. I’m convinced that Twitter chats are mostly responsible for the roughly 50 new followers we gain each month. If you’ve never heard of a Twitter chat here’s a great article to read, but the quick version is: a bunch of people login to Twitter at the same time and hold a conversation using a common hashtag.

I love them because someone has already organized a bunch of like-minded people coming together to discuss a topic. Most of the ones I participate in focus on small creative business topics, but the individual chats can range in topic from networking to conquering fears to favorite time saving apps. You get to interact directly with all the participants, voice your own opinions, and ask questions of the group. If you’ve got interesting or engaging things to say, people will undoubtedly follow you and even visit your website or blog.

One of my favorites is #omhg, Thursdays at 10 am PST, hosted Jessika Hepburn at Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I will also be co-hosting a new chat for the SF Etsy community starting on March 13th, and running every Tuesday morning at 10 am PST, #sfetsy.

Figure out who you really want to connect with, do a little digging, and participate in the conversation in a meaningful way and it will all come together in no time.

Do you have questions about Twitter? Post them below and I’ll answer.

Friday
Mar022012

Open Doors - Molly Meng of 8mm Ideas

It was over a year ago when Genevieve and I first met Molly Meng at Open Studios. We were both instantaneously drawn to this beautiful, small studio filled with gorgeous collages, tiny unique collectibles and boxes of photos. The room was full of interesting people and laughter. Front and center with a big smile and friendly eyes stood Molly Meng. Within seconds, Gen and I agreed. We adored her.

We both left Art Explosion confirmed in our decision to work with artists like Molly. She opened her door that day to allow others to witness the little stories she creates and shares through her collages and cards. She lives and breathes creativity. Her art is thoughtful, witty and simply gorgeous. I am so happy that she agreed to have us once again and to share her space and story.


Shelly - Walking into your studio is like walking into a little shop that you never want to leave. I just adore your space. You must love it!

Molly - I do love my studio! The community here at Art Explosion is really supportive and I really enjoy coming here.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually have a studio:  What a dream!   It’s the space that has no distractions, other than getting lost in an old book or some-one's photo album.  I know when I’m here, I can’t avoid work and once I get going, I don’t really want to leave!  I think about setting up a little cot sometimes and just moving in....but, I like working from home, too, and if we had more space I would work from the apartment more often.

Shelly - So do tell! Your studio is full of photo albums and boxes of old pictures- what do you do with all of them?

Molly - Well, they inspire all of my work. My fascination with old photos started during childhood and time spent with my mother. She would pull out her old yearbook and she would point out people she knew and tell stories about things that they did and the type of person that they were. I started to do this with old photos, creating stories about the people in pictures and what interesting things were going on in their lives. This process has inspired much of my work. My friends call it “historical fiction.” I breathe new life into the photos, diaries and objects of the past by developing my own fictional accounts of their lives.

Shelly -  I love this process Molly. I used to spend hours looking through my father’s yearbooks doing the same. So where do you find all of these photos?

Molly - I go to a lot of flea markets, estate sales and a lot are given to me from friends. I will get a collection from a sale and through all the photos will sometimes be able to follow one person’s life. There was one man in particular.  I received  quite a few photos of him and his family, as well as all family records:  graduation certificates, divorce papers, school notes, doctor’s files.  With a little exploration, I was able to find out more information about him and his family and discovered that there was quite a bit of heartache and complications in their lives.  It seems sad to some people, but to me, it feels like a second chance or a way to elevate a life, infuse it with a public acknowledgement it might not have had before.

Shelly - So how actually do you use these stories in your work?

Molly - When I am in my studio and I am looking at all the photos and journals and ledgers and general ephemera, fictional stories just come to me. I have a ritual that I go through each time:  Lighting the studio just right, choosing the perfect music, lighting a gorgeous candle and then diving in to these random objects.  I feel like I’m seeing them for the first time.  It is almost like a channeling process.  I don’t feel like I’m making these pieces, honestly, it’s the energy from these objects that comes out and starts to create a new story.  They give me some information from the past and then they give me their wish for the future.  Every piece I make has a story behind it, one that wasn’t necessarily there before.  I did a series recently that allowed me to create four different people’s lives, with a boxed collage representing each phase of their life.  It was an amazing experience.  

I don’t feel like people looking at my work necessarily need to know the story behind it though, because so often they create their own while relating to something in the piece.  That’s actually more important to me, that someone can be swept up by a piece without the explanation.  But, if they want it, I’m happy to go into it!


Shelly - That’s really cool. I can imagine hiding away for hours in this room making up stories.
So where do you find all the other amazing inspiring mementos in this space? Flea markets, favorite shops?

Molly -  Throughout the year, I’m always looking.  I often walk with my eyes on the ground because, it turns out, great finds make their way to the sidewalks and the gutters and the trash bins of the world.  I love Aria, in North Beach and Gypsy Honeymoon and Community Thrift Shop, both on Valencia Street.  The more off the beaten path, though, the better.  I also travel to France for a month each summer and find a lot of fantastic, unusual ephemera there.  My sister and I used to own a kind of vintage general store and dig through every back room of every weird shop we walked past here in the US, the UK and France.  It’s where my collection really started.  Luckily, I’ve been doing this for so many years, friends and family tend to knock on my door with their arms full of strange and fabulous photo albums, old books, a box of corks or a bag full of feathers.

 

Shelly - You have an amazing imagination Molly and just hearing about your process makes me love your work even more. I also love my collection of 8mm cards. I like to frame them and hang them on my walls. Where do you sell these? You also mentioned you have a few reps.

Molly - I do. I have some amazing kick [email protected]# reps that have gotten my line into some of the greatest shops in the US.   You can also find my cards in SF at Serendipity in the Mission, Booksmith in the Upper Haight and Perch in Glen Park. There is a more comprehensive list on my website of stores that carry my work.  

Shelly - I know your husband is super creative as well. How does he help in this process?

Molly -  I could not do it without my husband Ryan.  He has a film and photography background, so anything to do with the computer is up to him!   He scans my small art works and actually makes them into the cards. He’s the one that has to constantly remind me that bird feathers don’t always translate to a card or break it to me that those little pencil lines I drew, and love so dearly, might not show up! He is super supportive and an integral part of 8mm Ideas.

Shelly - Not too shabby of a life Molly! Not one bit


Molly -  I couldn’t agree more, Shelly, I’m really beyond lucky and loooove what I get to do.  

You can find Molly on line at 8mm Ideas and the following list of blogs
alittlehouseintheclouds.blogspot.com
firstgirlattheparty.blogspot.com
thelastevidence.blogspot.com


as well as seeing her artwork on,

Mission Artists United

Thursday
Mar012012

March Business Goals

myvinyldesigner.comI'm a little behind on this, but better late than never right! February went by in a flash as usual and I've been a bit distracted of late trying to find the right focus for all my business energy. This task of writing down monthly goals has really helped though. It's allowing me to see the bigger path and then put my intent into the chosen goals.

So here's a tally of how I did on last months goals:

Feburary Business Goals

Focus: Connecting and Networking

1) Send a survey out to both past and potential clients for feedback and marketing insights

Accomplished this, although didn't get as many responses as I hoped so I'm sending it out there for another week.

2) Get 2-3 case studies up on the website

I have not worked on the case studies as I'm still thinking about how I want to present things and what purpose they really serve. All this will help me frame them better.

3) Expand social network by 100 people (mailing list, Facebook, and Twitter combined)

I'm actually a little surprised but I came close to this, I expanded our network by 88 people. Although what I'm more proud of is we grew our average website visitors per day by 15. That definitely adds up over time.

4) Begin working with 3 new clients

I was able to add 2 new clients last month. And I did a lot of thinking about where our leads are coming from.

5) Secure one new guest post

Surprisingly we had two blogs reach out to us asking us to take on regular contributor roles. Shelly has taken them because they were a bit more suited to her favorite topics, but I may be writing a short series for one of the blogs. Nothing secure yet, but very close.

March Business Goals

1) Begin a serious pr push to build up for our re-launch of the Ink Yourself e-course

2) Try out Facebook advertising (I know I'm a little afraid, but I've heard some great stories)

3) Finish the Marketing Assessment download

4) Work on mobile app idea

5) Grow network by 100 more people

Wednesday
Feb292012

Creating Space - Finding Your "Thing"

photo by jessica paigeI just started reading Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life and just the second chapter in and am already hooked. She believes, as do I, in creating a "rituals of preparation." I call it simply my "thing." Not really very witty or unique in title but it works for me.

In Tharp's case, every morning she wakes up at 5:30 am (gasp!) to exercise She gets dressed and then walks outside her NYC home and hails a cab to take her to the gym. Going to the gym is not the ritual but it is the task of hailing and getting into the cab. She focuses on creating a habit of something simple (hailing the cab) instead of focusing on the routine of something much more complicated and sometimes dreadful at that time in the morning. Developing good simple habits and attaching them to something much more involved can be really helpful in completing goals. The habit of getting into the cab in the morning can be much more nagging in the moment than the long term goal of having a healthy, strong body. Laying in bed with a nagging feeling that you are forgetting something? It is 5:35! You are supposed to be dressed and ready and in a cab meeting Ms. Tharp at the 91st gym.

I have met artists that cannot start working until they take their morning walk on the beach. Some writers I know must be wearing their favorite sweater and have their morning tea by their side before typing a word. I have to put my workout clothes on first thing in the morning and complete one or two easy tasks before really getting into work. By 1:00 pm it is hard to talk myself out of the trip to the gym when I am already dressed to go.

So what is your "thing?" If you haven't developed one yet give it a try for a few weeks and let me know what you think. A little tidbit of advice  - sometimes you need to change your ritual. If it isn't working anymore, if it doesn't motivate you then create a new one. The habit should be the easy part!

 

Tuesday
Feb282012

Getting Started With Twitter

So if I convinced you last week that you really should give Twitter a try, but you’re still unsure of how to get started, I’m here to help.

Start Simple

Sign up.

The beginning is the best place to start. No need to worry about strategy and how to amass thousands of followers just yet. So go to Twitter, pick a user name and create an account. I suggest you pick something as close to your real name or business name as you can. If what you want is taken try a version with an “_”.

Then fill in your profile page with a short bio and your website and upload a picture. Finally look through your account settings and notifications to make sure things are the way you want them. There’s nothing special you need to know, just set it up the way you would like it.

Find Your Friends

Twitter lets you go through your email address book to find people you know. Start there. You don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to, but it’s a great way to get started.

Once you’re following a few of your friends look at their profiles to see who they’re following. Most likely you’ll find a few more that interest you. Twitter will also suggest people for you to follow based on who you’re already following, but I find their suggestions to be pretty random.

Eventually some of these people will follow you back. This is good. Say thank you if you like by sending a direct message. Just click on the little silhouette with the down arrow next to their name and you’ll get a pop up that will allow you to send a direct message.

Listen

Spend some time just seeing how people communicate and what they share. Follow the links, look at the photos, watch the videos. When you see something you like send a reply by clicking on the reply arrow that pops up when you hover over the tweet. Say something simple like “made me laugh”, “thanks for sharing”, or “totally inspiring”.

Participate

Start by saying hello or announcing your arrival to the Twitterverse.  Send a hello directly to one of your friends by putting @username in the beginning of your tweet. Share a link to a blog post you like or wrote yourself. Retweet someone else’s tweet.

Twitter is a conversation; eventually you’ll need to say something to be a part of it.

Play

Now spend some time getting comfortable. Do a few searches to find new people or conversations. Search for hashtags (#) that interest you and follow along. Get familiar with all the shorthand of Twitter, how other people use it, and composing your thoughts in 140 characters or less. It’s this last part that takes the most practice.

Spend the next 1-4 weeks just getting comfortable with Twitter. We’ll talk about effectiveness and strategy next week, but before you take on all that get your feet wet and give it a real chance.

Monday
Feb272012

How Would You Choose a Marketing Coach?

We realize that everyone has a different approach to looking for help and different things matter more to each of us. We've put together a quick survey that will help us to give you all the information you need to decide if we're the ones who can help you.

It will only take about 10 minutes of your time and at the end you'll have the opportunity to give us your email for a chance to win 15% off our services.

We'll be collecting responses for the rest of the week before we annouce 5 lucky winners, so take the survey now.

Friday
Feb242012

Friday Favs - London Love, Claire Brewster

Oh!! These paper cuts by London based Claire Brewster are so amazing and I will just have to find a way to someday experience them in person. I have always been a fan of paper art and I love how she uses old paper and maps to round out the images of nature. So delicate and pretty, just my thing.