designing an mba

Who Killed Creativity?

Today I’m so excited to share a guest post from Amber Kane! Amber is a rock star when it comes to understanding creativity, and she applies that to everything, from her scarf business, to teaching high school art, to her new project, The Unstandardized Standard. Amber and I have been getting together to discuss creativity, business, and education, and we’re cooking up some exciting collaborations for 2014. But in the meantime, Amber is launching an amazing class this fall that will help you get a deeper understanding of your creative process. Thanks for sharing, Amber!

I’m one of those people that many others hate. You see, I knew what I wanted to do my entire life, or so I thought. As a child I would play school with my neighbors, and when they weren’t around, or didn’t want to do the homework that I was assigning, I would simply pretend that I had students. My bedroom was decked out with a white board, chalk board, and bulletin board (which I changed each month with a new theme). My teacher training started early.

I went to Messiah College, earned my degree in Art Education, and landed a high school position right after graduation. All seemed to be going as planned.

But that wouldn’t last.

While my love for teaching has done nothing but grown, I’ve realized that I don’t agree with the public school system, and well, they don’t agree with me.

I want to throw standardized tests out the window

I’m not one for following rules that don’t make sense and schools are full of them

And I don’t believe that Algebra is more important than art.

I spent 4 years feeling like I was David fighting Goliath, 1 year giving up and admitting defeat, finally arriving to a year of freedom and focus. Two years ago I received a letter from the administration “kindly” reminding me that art was an elective that could be cut at any time. (This was their way of telling me to stop asking questions and challenging the system.) I was angry, sad, defeated, and wanted to walk away and never look back. And while I had my one-of-a-kind scarf business up and running, I didn’t feel that I was ready to give up the pay check.

I’m not one to give up a fight if it’s one worth fighting. While there is a lot that I want to change about where I work, I fought that battle for 5 years and got nowhere, and when that happens you need to step back and reevaluate. I’ve realized that I can change the system from within only slightly, but I want to make a bigger impact. And that impact needs to happen outside of the system.

I want to pause here and define two words that will make the rest of what I have to say easier to understand.

Creativity: the ability to come up with a new idea that adds value.

Divergent thinking: necessary to be creative, the act of making many connections and solutions to a given problem. Divergent thinking is not directly tied to IQ and is commonly found in people that don’t conform.

It’s likely that you aren’t great at divergent thinking, and honesty, that’s most likely not your fault.

Last week I asked all of my students how many of them spent time imagining and student after student responded that they don’t. I have to admit, this is hard for me to understand, as I”m a stellar daydreamer and imagination rock star, but I’ve taught enough, and asked enough people the question, to realize that it’s true.

While schools make us feel bad for daydreaming, it’s actually an important problem solving skill. Through daydreaming and imaging our minds make new connections, that later solve problems. More specifically our ability to imagine helps us to determine how to share our talents and gifts with the world.

Children have wonderful imaginations, ask any child that you can find what they want to be when they grow up and they have an answer. Then we grow up, decide that our childhood dreams are just that, childish, so we push them away, and go do something that we hate. We forget how to dream, and give up. Had I forgotten how to dream, I would continue for the next 28 years to either be David fighting Goliath, (and never winning), or completely give up. Neither should be options. Instead I spent a lot of time dreaming and began to create solutions, because in my dreams I can make a huge impact by teaching you and your friends, and their friends, how to think and act creatively.

Let’s get started

Registration for The Creative Class Webinar is now open (and it’s free), you don’t need to feel like you have a creative bone in your body to take the class.

Break down the walls, say goodbye to creative block, and hello to making great art on your terms and on your time schedule.

The Creative Class is a 5 week course designed to help you understand what creativity is, how it works, and how to make it work for you.

Whether you’re a maker, teacher, parent, or all 3 this course will provide you with actionable steps to live a more creative life.

Space in the class is limited, so make sure to sign up early.

is your marketing creative?

I’ve been reading a lot about creativity lately, (I blame Amber) and I’m currently devouring Ken Robinson’s book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. (It’s a must read, especially if you’re at all concerned with the future of education.)

In Out of Our Minds, Robinson writes:

“It is often thought that creativity is about special activities, like the arts, or advertising, or design, or marketing. All of these can be creative; but so can anything, including science, mathematics, teaching, working with people, medicine, running a sports team or a restaurant… Creativity is possible whenever we’re using our intelligence.”

I couldn’t agree more.

A couple of years ago, I did a complete overhaul of my first e-course, Marketing for Makers, with this exact idea in mind.

As makers, we tend to funnel marketing into the “business” side of our business. We make it into a “have to do” that’s about as exciting as keeping up with the books or filing paperwork.

But your marketing is way more fun (and way more effective) when you approach it with the same creative energy that you approach designing your products or making your art.

The most successful businesses are always marketing, and they are able to do this because marketing is a natural extension of their creative process.

I love this approach to marketing and I love the way Marketing for Makers came together around this idea. Whenever I go back into the content, I fall in love with it all over again.

Marketing for Makers started as a live e-course, but last year, due to the number of courses I’m currently offering, I switched it over to a self-study course. This is great for you, because it means that you can take M4M any time you want.

But it also means that sometimes Marketing for Makers gets lost in the shuffle around all my other classes.

Which is a shame. Because I want you to love your marketing!

I want you to approach your marketing with the same creative spirit you have for your art.

Which is why Marketing for Makers is on sale this weekend only!

From now through Sunday night, you can get Marketing for Makers at 70% off the regular price. (It’s an amazing deal on some amazing content!)

Click here for all the details and to register!

your story is powerful

About halfway through the first session of Do/Teach, something incredible started happening.

One by one, the participants in my class started sharing very raw, moving, and personal stories, in public, on their blogs.

I must admit, I was completely blow away by this unexpected result.

What is it about the process of developing a class that encourages such personal sharing?

In his book, Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making, Seung Chan Lim shares the story of a friend in an acting class who is moved to tell her own story (through song) after an experience of attempting to empathize with the character she was playing. He writes, “The act of trying to empathize with an other, inspired her to tell the story of who she is.”

By trying to understand an other, Seung Chan explains, we always gain deeper understanding of ourselves.

The process of trying to get into the minds of their future students (a big part of the Do/Teach process) helped my students more fully understand and share something about themselves.

But the reasons for sharing such personal stories don’t end there.

When I teach marketing (which I do in Do/Teach) I encourage my students to let their own personalities come through. “Vanilla brands don’t create raving fans,” I often say. (My apologies for the lame rhyme.)

So many online solo-preneurs try so hard not to upset anyone. To not let their own likes or dislikes shine through. And this is especially true for those who hope to become teachers. Teachers, we’ve been taught, aren’t supposed to be humans.

But the best teachers are just that. Human. Real people with real lives and real passions and real flaws.

Seung Chan Lim writes:

“The acting teachers I’ve met go out of their way to model sincerity. They regularly and honestly shared their vulnerable personal stories with their students. They were always themselves, and rarely tried to appear like a ‘teacher.’… And the outcome of such sincerity was that the level of intimacy and dynamism the students felt in the space was extraordinary. And when they were asked to ‘take risks,’ they did so in ways you would never be able to imagine.”

Whether your are teaching a class or selling a product, you are asking someone to take a risk.

You are asking them to try or buy or do something new.

And when you present your true self, your real self, in the form of highly personal stories, you create a level of intimacy that enables them to take that risk.

I often speak about the importance of using customer centric language. “You customer doesn’t care about your process.” I like to lecture. And it’s true. To your customer, your process means very little.

So it’s easy to be confused by what I’m saying here. If your customer doesn’t care about your process, why would they care about your story?

Because in the case of these incredibly personal stories, I’m not talking about a HOW story. I’m talking about a WHY story.

I recently shared a story of a new painting on my blog. There’s is absolutely nothing customer centric about this story. But it still has appeal to someone looking at my painting, because it’s not the story of how I created the painting. It’s the story of WHY I created the painting.

It’s not a story of mixing paint or selecting a specific paint brush.

It’s the story of a real, universal, human feeling translated to paint.

Not every story you share has to be one of loss, tragedy, or heartache to have a profound influence on your audience. Stories of true happiness, of sheer joy, of insane humor – these can be just as powerful.

Sharing your personal stories takes immense courage. And it also takes a skillful editing eye, to understand which stories should be shared in which moments.

But when you do share your personal stories, it creates a powerful connection to the people who read them.

It builds a deeper level of understanding between yourself and your reader.

And that deeper level of understanding is what can encourage your reader to take the risk required to become more than simply a student or a customer. It may just turn them into a fan.

how do you learn to be a teacher?

One of the strangest things about being a college professor is that no one ever teaches you how to teach.

Unlike K-12, college faculty have no required instruction when it comes to teaching. My first teaching experience was similar to many – I arrived at grad school a few weeks before the semester started, was handed a syllabus (plus some slides and examples, since I was teaching an art class) and told to ask if I had any questions.

I was given an opportunity to sit in on the same class I was teaching taught by another teacher, but thanks to the holiday weekend, my class was suddenly a day ahead of the class I could use as an example. Not much help there.

As I write this, I’m realizing it was exactly ten years ago that I taught my first college class.

And since that first teaching experience, I’ve worked very hard to become the best teacher I could be. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my own teaching style and the behavior of my students. I constantly evaluated projects, student responses, and results to see what I could change. I looked for areas of student confusion so I could alter the way I taught a topic the next time around.

I also began using any opportunity I had as a student to reflect on what works and doesn’t work for a class. This has become my default mode of thinking anytime I take an e-course. But I also found opportunities for learning about teaching in some unlikely places – like a yoga class.

When it comes to yoga, I’m definitely on again/off again. If I don’t love the teacher or the studio, I’m not likely to commit to a regular practice.

But back when I was teaching at a university in Maryland, I found a yoga studio I loved, and became a regular student.

That studio, and my favorite teachers there (there were many) worked for me because, as I eventually realized, we shared the same teaching philosophy.

That studio emphasized a very hands on teaching model. Teachers walked the room, making adjustments to individual students to help them find the version of the pose that was best for their body on that particular day. And while the yoga studio did have some rather large classes, there were also classes offered in a smaller studio, which I frequented, that often involved only the teacher and a handful of students. (Once, I was the only student. Best day ever!)

One of the things I emphasize in Do/Teach is getting inside the mind of your (future) students. It’s really easy to make assumptions about how our class should be based on our own perspective. Which is precisely why I find being a (highly observant and reflective) student such a useful tool for becoming a better teacher.

In the first session of Do/Teach, I had many students worried about the number of students who would sign up for their class. They worried that the students who were enrolled would be disappointed if the class was small, because it would show that the class wasn’t that popular or that the teacher couldn’t get enough interest.

But as a student, I love small classes! Small classes mean more attention from the instructor, more feedback, and in the case of yoga, more opportunities for hands on adjustment.

And for me, hands on adjustment is really at the core of what it means to truly be a teacher.

My experiences taking classes at a yoga studio has informed not only my experience of yoga (I get annoyed now when I’m in a class where teachers don’t adjust, especially when there are beginners) but my own teaching philosophy. After taking yoga classes, I found myself employing more hands on adjustment to my studio teaching. It was amazing how slightly adjusting a students hand could make a different between a broken saw blade or not, how a slight tweak to the angle of a torch could make the difference between success and failure while soldering. Just like in yoga, these slight adjustments where difficult to communicate in any way other than one on one interaction with a student.

And while I now teach online, where hands on adjustment, in the literal sense, isn’t possible, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to utilize this philosophy. Hands on teaching becomes a metaphor for close involvement with my students. For listening to a student’s question and giving them advice tailored to their specific situation. For treating each student as an individual and helping them make adjustments to be their best on any given day.

I believe that great teachers are made, not born. (Or perhaps I should say, they develop over time.) For many of us, we are thrown into teaching (whether it’s at the college level, being asked to teach a workshop, or deciding to launch an e-course) without any training or experience. It’s one of the main reasons I created Do/Teach.

But it’s also one of the reasons that I view every class I take (and every class I teach) as an opportunity for learning. I’m not just talking about learning about the subject matter. I’m talking about learning more about what makes a great teacher great (and a not so great teacher not so great). I’ve learned and grown as a teacher a lot over the last ten years, and it’s my willingness to learn from any experience that has truly helped me grow.

As I’ve mentioned here before, teaching can be a fantastic day job for artists, makers, and other creatives. (Especially if it’s not the traditional teaching route!) But if you’ve never taught before, teaching for the first time can be intimidating. Fortunately, we’ve all had the experience of being students, and those experiences can help mold our own teaching philosophies. So the next time you find yourself as a student (whether that’s in a yoga class, an e-course, or some other, seemingly unrelated class) use it as an opportunity to study the art of teaching. You might be surprised at just how much there is to learn!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I couldn’t be more proud or excited as my current group of Do/Teachers launch their first e-courses! And I’m blown away by their early successes. One Do/Teacher had five students enroll on the first day she opened registration! Another had 15 sign ups on day one! I firmly believe in what I share in Do/Teach and I’m so excited to see students having amazing success when they put what they’ve learned into action. The next session of Do/Teach starts September 23rd, and there are still spots available. Click here for all the details and to claim your spot. Two months from now, it could be your successful launch that I’m celebrating!

How I Grew my Pinterest Following from 1000 to 4000+ in 3 months

how I grew my Pinterest followers

The following is a guest post from Dannielle Cresp. Dannielle is a former web designer, constant dreamer and sometimes crazy adventurer. She is starting over and is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style on her blog Style for a Happy Home.

When Dannielle told me how rapidly she had grown her Pinterest followers, I ask her if she would share her strategy here at DMBA, and she happily agreed!

Thanks Dannielle!

I joined Pinterest in October of 2010, and had always used it for fun and giggled to myself about people who used it “strategically”. To me, it was a space online that I could have fun and just pin what I liked, there was nothing strategic about it.

But in May I had just made the decision to completely change my business and search for what I really wanted to be doing. I had thought about possibly taking up interior design or something to do with styling. I had just over 1000 followers at the time. I set myself a crazy goal to see if I could grow my Pinterest following to 2000. Since it had taken over two years to get to 1000, I thought this was a reasonably big goal.

There’s no real “rule” to growing a following (and I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to those kinds of rules), so I just thought I’d experiment. Not only did I grow it to 2000 (by the first week of July), two weeks later I was at 3000 and on the last day of July I passed the 4000 mark. I actually doubled my July 7 followers (2147) on August 7 (4294). Crazy! I didn’t buy any (if that’s even a thing you can do) and I only asked if people would follow me (through Twitter), when I was stuck at 1994 and wanted to get to 2000 before I went to bed one evening.

I guess you’re all asking “but how did you do it?” right? There was a fair bit of trial and error but here are the main things I did:

• I organized my boards into categories that are relatively narrow. I split the 4000 pins I had in “For the Home” into boards for each room type. It took 6 days, but my followers jumped after that. Make the board name clear, it can be a fun name, but make it easy for people to know what you’ll be pinning to it.

• I only pinned good quality images. This is a must. The good quality images are the ones that get repinned.

• I made sure that every pin had a proper description when I pinned it to my boards. This one is important. You don’t need to over think it. If it doesn’t say anything, at least call it a keyword that can be searched. If it’s a bedroom, call it “bedroom”. When it’s some kind of gift wrapping that’s what I call it. As you can now search your own pins, this is also handy if you want to find it again.

• I worked out what times of the day were busy times on Pinterest. I’m in Australia so I pin at around 10pm my time (which is 8am EDT – great for my North American followers) and also at 4pm my time (which is good for the Aussies and New Zealanders who are logging on in the early evening).

• I realized how great “People who pinned this also pinned:” is and started to use it to my advantage. When you click on an individual pin, you can scroll down and see what pins others (who have already pinned that pin) are also pinning. This gives you a whole heap of new pins that you may not have seen, if the people you’re following haven’t also pinned it. Look for your most repinned pins and look at what new pins that offers you.

• I repin everything and keep my “likes” for things I’ll pin later. I use the like section to keep pins I’d like to pin later (say it’s not a busy time on pinterest or I don’t like the description and want to change it before I repin – I use it a lot when I’m using Pinterest on my phone, as descriptions are easier to write on the computer).

• I only pin what I actually like. People will get to know your style and what you like if you’re consistent. Don’t pin things you don’t like because you think it will bring you followers, that’s just too much work. Let your Pinterest boards be just the pretty things that you like and it will be easier to maintain.

• I use Pinterest to “build my brand” by having boards that relate to what both me and my blog are all about. Think about having boards that relate to what you do. Think complimentary products rather than competitors (if that worries you). For example, I’m about Style for a Happy Home so I have boards for each area of the home plus: awesome party ideas, great gift wrapping, gift ideas, organize my world, etc – all related to what a happy home is made up of, for me. I also have boards for business and motivational quotes as they share a bit of my personality (and I am just a sucker for a good quote).

• When it comes to designing pinable images for my own blog (for which I have a board for them) I only use great images – even if I have to take the shot 100 times. I write the title of the post on the image – which makes it easy to see there’s something more than a photo and they should click through. I write the description for people who want to pin directly from my blog. (The Title field in WordPress is what will show in the Pinterest description if they use the Pin It button) This makes it easy on your pinners as they don’t have to think of something. I use the title of the post in that description and the name of my blog.

• I don’t link it with Facebook, or post to Twitter, because you would unfollow me if I posted 30 tweets all of pins in 20 minutes (and I would totally understand why!!). Sometimes I’ll post one if I want to share something in particular, but I figure that if you really wanted to see my pins, you’d follow me on Pinterest.

There’s no science to it, really. Most important of all is that you’re there. Some days I will only pin one or two things, and others it will be a pinning spree. If I feel like I’m pinning too much on one topic, I ‘like’ them and pin another day. It’s good to have those reserves when you don’t have much time to spend, but want to show you’re still there.

Also, make sure it’s fun and something you want to do. If you really don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. Pinterest is my online happy space and as a bonus I love how it brings new readers to my blog because they like what I pin. This experiment has exceeded all my expectations and I can’t wait to see what I learn next.

Thanks for having me, Megan!

Want more Pinterest inspiration? You can follow Dannielle on Pinterest here and Megan on Pinterest here!

Need more tips on growing your Pinterest following? Check out Part 2 of this series!

Want to turn those Pinterest followers into more traffic for your website? Check out Part 3 of this series!

Pin It

are you a planner?

For pretty much my whole life, I’ve been a planner. In college, I couldn’t wait until the next semester’s course schedule came out so I could plan my classes.

I like to think into the future.

And that hasn’t changed.

To help me plan my coming year, I sat down and scheduled all the e-courses I’ll be running through the first half of 2014.

And then it dawned on me. If you’re anything like me, you might want to see that schedule too. If you’re thinking about taking a course with me in the future, wouldn’t you love to put it on your calendar now?

So here it is! Your list of all the upcoming Designing an MBA classes:

(Please note that dates may change a little, but ideally, I’m planning on sticking to this list.)

Before we dive into 2014, there’s still one more class for 2013! (Ok, two, if you count Do/Teach, which starts on September 23rd. But you already knew that!)

The next session of Wholesale Academy starts October 21st. This class is perfectly timed for anyone doing a January or February trade show. Registration is opening VERY soon, so if you’re interested, be sure to put your name on the WA mailing list.

Ok, on to 2014.

Once again, I’ll be offering the Honors Program for 2014. The Honors Program gives you full access to every course I offer, plus private Honors Program coaching calls and more, at the best possible price. Think of it as a six-month intensive designed to whip your business into shape! (At a fraction of the price of business school!) Honors Program officially kicks off on January 1st, but registration will open at the end of October. If you’re interested in the Honors Program, sign up for the mailing list to be the first to know when registration opens, because space in this program is limited!

Plus, as an Honors Program member, you’ll spend January working through my two self-study programs, Business by Design and Marketing for Makers, as a group. It’s a rare opportunity to ask questions and get feedback directly from me about the content in those programs.

And if you’re looking to take any of my individual courses in 2014, here’s what’s on tap for the first half of the year:

Do/Teach will start March 3rd, 2014 and run for six weeks. Registration will open in late December or early January.

Wholesale Academy will start April 21st and run for five weeks. This class is perfectly timed for anyone doing a summer trade show OR hoping to get your products into stores in time for the holidays. Registration will open in February.

The next session of Freedom Driven Studio will take place on June 2 and run throughout the month of June. I’m planning on revamping the content in this program to make it even better, and for those in the Honors Program, it will be the perfect way to end the program. Registration for the Freedom Driven Studio will open in April.

Oh, and I’ve got a new class in development for late January 2014. I won’t share the details yet (it’s still in development) but I’m really excited about this one. You’ll just have to wait and see…

you don’t have to be an expert to be a good teacher

My first year out of graduate school, I got a one year position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at a university.

This was a big deal. I was young and inexperienced and I didn’t feel qualified. I was also nervous as hell.

You see, when you step into a new teaching position at a school or college, it’s likely that the courses you’ll be teaching were decided upon long before you got there.

That was the case for me.

And one of those classes that was on my roster to teach that first semester was the raising class.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, raising means taking a flat sheet of metal and using hammers and stakes to form it into a bowl.

And it was not my strong suit.

In undergrad, I had stubbornly refused to learn the process. And in graduate school, realizing this was an area I was deficient in, I had a studio-mate show me a few tricks. But it wasn’t something I did often or well.

Before finding out I had to teach this class, I had made two, maybe three bowls.

That was it.

And now I was expected to teach other people how to do it?!?

But fortunately, the professor I was filling in for had some words of wisdom.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve only made a few bowls. The students in your class have made zero. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to know more than the students you are teaching.”

That’s worth repeating.

You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to know more than the students you are teaching.

One of the biggest fears I hear around teaching is the idea that someone “isn’t an expert” or “doesn’t know enough” to teach a class.

But you don’t have to be an expert to be a good teacher.

In fact, I’ve had some some teachers who were definitely experts in their subject but were terrible teachers. Teachers who clearly knew a lot about their subjects, but couldn’t communicate ideas effectively or engage students.

Each of us has knowledge. Each of us has skills. Each of us has things that we can do better than other people. We may not be able to do them better than everyone. But we can do them better than some people.

Your job as a teacher is to find those people.

The idea of waiting until your an expert or “know enough” to begin teaching is a huge limiting belief. If you wait for that feeling to go away, you’ll never teach. You’ll miss out and something that is potentially hugely rewarding, both emotionally and financially.

Your job isn’t to accumulate all the knowledge in the world before you start teaching. Your job is to find people who aren’t as far along the path as you are. (Whatever path that might be.) People who wish they could be exactly where you are. People who wish they had a fraction of the skill or knowledge that you had.

You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to know more than the students you are teaching.

Becoming a good teacher has nothing to do with being an expert. It has to do with understanding the skills you already you have, finding people who want to learn them, and clearly and effectively guiding your students through that learning process.

Teaching can also be your opportunity to learn more about a subject you’ve only personally scratched the surface on.

Teaching can become the process through which you become an expert.

It was for me.

Oh, and that raising class I was so nervous about?

It turned out to be my favorite class I taught that year!

I didn’t need to be an expert. I just needed to know more than my students.

And more importantly, I needed the motivation and desire to help them learn.

And I had that in spades.

* * * * * * * * * *

Registration for the next session of Do/Teach, my online teacher training program, opens tomorrow. And you don’t need to be an expert, or even have a topic in mind, to take part in this incredible program.

Do/Teach will help you identify and connect with your ideal students, develop a course topic that is uniquely you, and structure your class so that students make their own distinct work and leave your class raving!

Space in this program is limited, so make sure you’re on the mailing list to be the first to know when registration opens tomorrow!

Praise for Do/Teach:

“Thank you so much for your attentive, generous and informative teaching style! I love that you have such a systematic approach, it helped us all feel confident that we could meet our goals, no matter what! You seem to be able to see inside our heads, addressing all the concerns with clarity and wisdom. The path ahead is now clear, thanks to your brilliant guidance. I’m so glad I found you!”

-Malini Parker, artist

this book will change everything (and I didn’t write it!)

Have you ever read a book that was so in line with your own philosophies that you almost felt like the author was inside your own head?

That’s how I felt last week when I stumbled upon Breaking the Time Barrier: How to Unlock the Your True Earning Potential, an amazing (and free!) book written by the co-founder and CEO of Freshbooks.

book-cover

Even though this book is aimed at service providers, it is 100% in line with the way I run my own business and the way I talk about and teach pricing.

It reinforces just how important my pricing strategy has been in building a business that works for me (and not the other way around) and a life I love.

If you read it, and implement it, it will change your business and your life!

Go. Get. It. Now. (It’s free!)

And don’t think that if you make a product, it doesn’t apply to you! It does. I approach my product-based business with the same mindset and I can tell you it works!

build yourself a better day job

When I was in graduate school, I taught beginner metalsmithing classes. I always loved teaching the intro class because I was a “pusher” – someone who identified talented students and encouraged them to become Metals and Jewelry majors.

I remember one such student. She had the full package. She mastered techniques quickly. Her craftsmanship was impeccable. And she had a great design sensibility.

“What’s your major?” I asked her.

“Art Ed.”

“You should switch.”

“I would love to,” she replied. “But my parents want me to do something practical.”

While disappointing, this wasn’t new. Parents were ok to let their kids major in art if it had a practical focus, like becoming a teacher.

This isn’t a contemporary concept. Whether it’s at the K-12 level or the university level, teaching has often been the stable career of choice for artists hoping to make a living.

Even some of my creative idols, like Georgia O’Keeffe and Hans Hofmann, spent years teaching before they became established professional artists.

But here’s the rub with this fallback plan.

That student I mentioned? She was one of 200 Art Ed majors at the school I was at.

200! At one school.

It was pretty easy to see what most of the parents didn’t want to admit. That most of these students would probably never get a teaching job. And that was before the major budget issues and program cuts that have become so common these days. Far from being a safe major, Art Ed was a false promise.

And the same holds true for that goal of many an MFA candidate – become a university professor. But these spots are just as hard to come by. It’s not unheard for there to be 200 or more applicants for a single opening.

So what should you do?

Give up teaching as a back-up plan and wait tables or work in an office until your business picks up?

Hardly. Teaching can still be a great additional revenue stream if you know how to do it right.

Here’s the secret that I learned after years of teaching as an adjunct:

Teaching can be a HUGE source of income (and an amazing “day job”) if you cut out the middle man and teach for yourself.

Since I started running my own e-courses, I’ve brought in more income from my classes alone than I did teaching adjunct at the university. I’ve brought in more income from teaching than my husband has at his “real job”. I’ve brought in more than my friends who are teachers.

In fact, I’ve brought in more from teaching my own e-courses in one year than I made the year I was a salaried college professor.

And, because I’m running classes on my terms, I have complete control and flexibility over my schedule.

And the students who take my classes? They are more engaged, more enthusiastic, and more willing to work than 90% of the students I’ve had teaching at universities.

Teaching can still be a fantastic safety net as you navigate the uncertain world of growing your studio-based business.

But the rules have changed. Institutions that once provided teachers with that safety net are struggling. Just like in other industries, the middle men are falling behind, leaving us, as creative individuals, with an amazing opportunity to take control and profit like never before.

Teaching can be a huge catalyst as you develop your art career. It can energize your studio practice, create raving fans, and give your income a boost.

If you take the leap and start teaching for yourself, it might just become the best “day job” you could ever imagine.

It has for me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Want to use teaching as a catalyst for your creative business? Would you love to create an e-course to boost your income but aren’t sure how? Have you tried running an e-course in the past but were disappointed with the results?

The next session of Do/Teach, my online teacher training program, starts September 23rd!

This course walks you through everything you need to launch your first course, from developing a structure, creating lessons and projects that don’t just produce copycats, mastering the tools for running an online class (like video), and creating a marketing and launch strategy that gets students excited to register for your class.

Registration for the next session opens August 22nd and space is limited! Join the mailing list to be the first to know when registration opens!

Praise for Do/Teach:

“The course has helped me realize that I’ve spent so much time focusing on my business and growing it these last two years that I completely forgot about my passions and the reason why I had the business in the first place. Bringing the teaching element into my business has completely reinvigorated me. So many, many thanks!”

-Melissa Gruntosky, owner of Pressbound

are you listening to too many voices?

The world is teeming with information (websites, blogs, books, Pinterest, the list goes on and on!) and there’s a natural tendency, especially when you’re building your business, to want to consume as much as possible.

I know that I’ve gone through periods where I’ve followed a ton of blogs, read what felt like every book on the market, and generally just tried to pay attention to everything that’s going on. And there’s nothing wrong with that approach.

Until there’s something wrong with that approach.

Until one day, your head is spinning from conflicting ideas and opinions.

Until one day, you realize that you’ve listened to so many voices that you aren’t even sure which voice is yours anymore.

Until one day, that information overload leads to decision paralysis, and you don’t know what to do next.

So what’s the solution?

Focus on a few voices that really speak to you, and let everything else slide.

Cut WAAAAAAY back on the amount of information (and opinions) that you consume.

Prune your favorite social media stream so that you only see the people that truly matter.

(I’m constantly unfollowing people on Instagram – that’s my sacred space, and only people that make me feel good get to belong there!)

I am hereby giving you permission to cut out, unfollow, detach from all the voices that aren’t helping you.

I’m giving you permission to NOT pay attention to everything that’s going on online.

I’m giving you permission to get over the fear of needing to know everything and instead to focus on what serves you, right now.

(I’m also giving you permission to change who you pay attention to based on what’s important to you and what you’re focusing on at any given time.)

And I’m giving you permission to not read every book that comes out on the market (and to not feel the need to finish a book that’s not working, just because you started it), every blog that you used to follow, every email that lands in your inbox.

Focus on a handful of voices that truly work for you, and let everyone else go!

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And in case you were wondering, the voices that really work for me right now are Abby Kerr and Brigitte Lyons. (Plus the blogs of a few painters I’m crushing on. But you can find that list in my Voice Notes feature on Abby’s site.) When Brigitte and Abby’s emails land in my inbox, I’m ready for them. Everything else goes away.

Oh, and I’m loving Josh Kaufman’s new book, The First 20 Hours, as well.