Top 5 Marketing Mistakes I Made as a Creative Entrepreneur

Ask my parents and they’ll tell you I’ve always been a DIY type of person. Fiercely so. I can respect the advice of experts, but often haven’t always had the resources to hire them as my husband and I have both ventured out into the world as creative freelancers.

So, I read. I listen. I experiment. I learn.

After over a decade marketing creative ventures, such as my own businesses, as well as helping countless creatives find new ways of reaching their audiences, I’ve compiled a toolkit that I’ve come to lean on. It isn’t perfect, but the best thing about it is that it is all things I’ve learned to do myself.

The road to this refined toolkit, which I provide in Marketing Tools for Creatives, hasn’t been smooth. I’ve fallen flat on my face many times. I’ve also fallen into the trap of doing something the wrong way, only to realize it years later. That means I need to do the additional work of undoing some things and implementing others.

Here are the top 5 mistakes I’ve made over the years, laid out here for you so that you can hopefully avoid them!

1. Not using my header tags. These are the h1, h2, h3, etc. tags you’ll see offered on your website formatting. I should have taken the time to customize them to look the way I wanted and then actually used them. Instead I would bold and enlarge the font to indicate a header or subheader. Instead, when I changed website themes or templates, often my headers got messed up. Had I used the tags, it would have formatted them accordingly. And I was missing out on the most important thing of all: SEO. By using those header tags you are telling search engines, “this content is important!” It’s all part of the SEO game.

2. Pitching too long. Editors are busy. I know because I am an editor, and have emails that land in my inbox that I often can’t attend to for weeks. Your best chances of getting published are to keep your queries well-written and thorough, but concise. Aim for a page and if they want more information, I think they’ll come knocking. (I cover query letter and press release writing in the course.)

3. Blogging aimlessly. Our interests will shift as we grow in our lives and in our work. But be careful if you blog to make sure your blog continues to be representative of who you are today. Go through your content every half year or so and make sure it wouldn’t be embarrassing if people accessed content from 10 years ago. Update blogs that need a facelift. You don’t want a bunch of dead links flying around the Internet, so if you choose to retire blogs, make sure you have a proper 301 redirect in place or a good 404 (page not found).

4. Abandoning my email list. In general I’m the kind of person who will follow through once I’ve started something. I started up an email list for my freelance writing and then life got busy (two kids…) and I didn’t send emails for the longest time. Like two years. I should have kept focusing on growing my list and sending out low-maintenance emails, even every two to four months. It would have been better than nothing. (When I finally did send an email, I actually got a response back from someone saying, “Who the heck are you!? Stop emailing me.”)

5. Going a little too DIY. This one applies to Facebook Ads, something I’ve found more success with recently. But it wasn’t until I got set up with a Business Manager Account on Facebook and started to play with Custom Audiences and Saved Audiences. I finally did a short Facebook Marketing course to learn more about targeting and copy writing. Before that, I think I wasted my money on ads, which weren’t being targeted effectively towards people who would even click in the first place.

So, what did I do instead of all these silly things? This is the meat of the course I created called Marketing Tools for Creatives, which presents creatives with the “what” and “why” of my personal marketing toolkit. I don’t think my husband and I would be pursuing creative careers today if it weren’t for the solid marketing skills we’ve finally landed on. So, if you’re curious, take a look at the course! It’s great for writers, photographers and visual artists, too.

If you’d like a little sneak peek download these 5 Small Changes That Make a Big Difference, and I promise you’ll already be ahead of where you are today.

The Real Things a Girl Thinks About on a Hike

Like many people who read “12 Things a Girl is Probably Thinking About on a Hike“, I was left feeling quite disturbed by the shallowness of the piece. I immediately started pondering how I’d rewrite it. A friend of mine and fellow writer, Tera Swanson, beat me to it, and did such a bang-on job, I thought I’d reblog it for you here. It is beautifully written, and one of Tera’s best pieces to date (in my opinion!). Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Wander Journals:

By Tera Swanson

After recently reading an article a friend had shared with me regarding “what girls probably think about on a hike,” it opened some conversation with the women in my life who enjoy the outdoors as to what we did or didn’t relate to, how it portrayed outdoor women, and what our motivations were for getting out there. Turns out that yes, you can care how your hair looks and enjoy hiking too. Or not care. That is also ok.

Hence, I’ve compiled my own 12 thoughts and traits of “girls who hike” that I’ve gathered from these conversations and my own contemplations – let me know whether or not you agree!

1) We check in with our hiking partners. How is everyone doing? What are our group’s strengths and weaknesses, as individuals and as a whole? Sometimes we need a little push to overcome things that seem a lot scarier than they really are. Sometimes we need to pay close attention to our partners when they are becoming more and more anxious, but won’t make the call to pull out. And sometimes we explore with people who are way overconfident in their abilities. It’s important to check in with others, as well as make note of your own thought process and comfort levels.

Read the rest of the article on The Wander Journals.

What You Might Be Missing (Yoga Challenge: Day 26)

Sometimes we’ve just got to slow down.

Resist that knee-jerk reaction to get out of a posture the moment it becomes uncomfortable. Photo by http://www.zizka.ca

Erin read a beautiful passage from Meditations from the Mat today about not rushing in our yoga practise. Running to the finish line will not help us deal with our pain any faster. Thankfully,  nor will it bring us any less grace. We can go from workshop to workshop, trying to find the key to unlock the remaining mysteries of our practise, but we might be moving too quickly.

In this way, it’s like driving somewhere you’ve never been before using only written directions. You know you need to turn right on Spruce Avenue. If you slow down as you approach side streets, you are more likely not to miss your turn. But if you keep cruising at 80km/hour, you are sure to drive right by.

What might you be missing by driving or walking too fast?

Lesson from Day 26

Allow yourself to be nurtured and stretched each day in your practise. Your instructors, including you, the self-teacher, are there to make sure you are safe and protected. Slow down and let yourself be guided through the tough bits.

It is different for each person. I struggle with postures on my stomach. They make me feel claustrophobic. Some balancing postures on my left leg bring out old injuries and, you got it, not just physical ones. The tensions we hold in our body are the result of emotional scars and past experiences as well, which is why when we struggle with certain postures, we may have an emotional, not just physical, reaction.

Lean on others and lean on your mat like it was a warm embrace. Let yourself open up just a little more each day and breathe through any pain that comes up. Work hard to avoid that knee-jerk reaction of getting out of postures that are uncomfortable (while keeping in mind the difference between Discomfort and Pain).

And by the way, there is no such thing as a finish line in yoga. You are already there, wherever you are each day.

Each person's experience on the mat is different. Photo by http://www.zizka.ca

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Love Your Practise (Yoga Challenge: Day 22)

Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Just love your practise. Otherwise, don’t bother with it. Yes, it will be hard sometimes. You might be sore. Your mind might start fighting off its own mental chatter. But, love your practise like it’s a deep tissue massage (which it is).

Most of us look forward to massages because, even though they may be painful in the moment, it is always better for us. Even the next day might be sore, but we would be worse off without it. I’ve discovered that this is how yoga is for me. It’s a chance to pamper ourselves, challenge ourselves, flush out some toxins, de-stress and grow to be better people all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve quite found something that replaces what happens on the mat, other than some yoga next to my tent after a long, rigorous hike in the backcountry.

Lesson from Day 22

We’re coming around to the last week of the yoga challenge now. I can hardly believe it. And while I’ve already been at it for 22 days now, I’d like to go in this last week with as fresh as slate as the first day I started. There is still so much to learn and to learn to love about yoga and I don’t want all the ups and downs of the previous days to influence my practise too much.

I have learned so much through the challenge already and also begun to put some of those lessons into practise. But, there is something to be said for approaching the mat like I never have before.

I need to learn to love yoga – again and again.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.