Connecting Through AIGA

In December 2019 I decided the year ahead would be My Year to grow, particularly within my career. As an SEO content and copywriter, I had been building my client base and considering my business model and saw some success even amid giving birth to my fourth and final baby and coping with post-partum-everything for the first time as an, ahem, older mom. I decided that the timing was now-or-never, I had to lean in and take the proverbial bull by the horns if I was going to finally capture the career I wanted.

Joining AIGA

I joined AIGA on a whim one day in December. I figured final business expenses that could serve as valuable tax deductions should probably be spent before 2020 rolled in, and it seemed like a great thing to involve myself with. I had joined the very-active AIGA Facebook group for members in my area, and I knew quite a few board members and active members from my time in illustration courses at PPCC and connecting with fellow freelancers and creatives through the downtown creative community of Colorado Springs.

Once I made my membership official, it felt like my participation was mandatory as a self-imposed call to accountability, and I’m so glad that my monetary commitment inspired me to solidify my membership with a proactive attitude. I attended the first monthly Coffee Talk that AIGA offers in January, and loved the atmosphere. From there, I decided to learn more about the organization and the community in order to immerse myself and serve the design community in whatever way I could be useful.

I’ve so enjoyed the AIGA community and learn a ton from the monthly Coffee Talk topics that educate and expand my professional experience. The networking, community, social opportunities of groups can help you take your freelancing to next-level connections within your community.

Connect with Your Community

Because of the good things I saw happen immediately once I made the choice to connect and take action, I felt the need to urge the same. I thought about all the ways we are largely living in isolation and putting so much upon ourselves to do it all on our own. It seemed worth mentioning to the other self-employed writers, designers, or otherwise independent creatives to reach out and connect with your local community to professionally network and nurture relationships with your peers and colleagues.

It is so easy to become wrapped up in our virtual worlds of emails and social media, networking platforms and even helpful resources like YouTube videos that, while wonderfully informative, can ultimately be very one-sided in its very nature. Don’t undervalue your worth or ability to make a meaningful contribution to your community.

And if you’re an introvert, like me, this jump into physical presence may seem uncomfortable. I would like to encourage you to go boldly anyway, and if you care to share your experience, I would love to hear how your efforts to connect turn out.

Something for Everyone

Opportunities to connect are out there, no matter your profession.

For writers:

And if you are not in the Colorado Springs area, check out the Writer’s Relief website for writing groups and programs available to you, sorted by location.

For Artists:

and, of course, AIGA as a community resource for designers, illustrators, and professional creatives of all kinds.

I’m hoping to dig deeper and find the time and space to visit some of the groups I shared, as well as deepening my involvement in my surrounding creative community and AIGA. What steps are you taking to network and grow?

Until next time,

Angi

Advertisements

Three Types of Blog Posts and When to Use Them

There are a few strategies one can employ when it comes to blog posts, and you may be a bit confused by this. Maybe, even, you figured a blog is a blog and a post is a post and what more can we really say about it. You wouldn’t be wrong, but yet, you’d be wrong. Because blogs are two-fold in the way they are read. By this I mean, people read blogs and Google reads blogs, and those are two separate but similar things.

Choosing Your Structure

The way you set up a post can be really important, and choosing your structure is going to impact how Google finds your website as well as how readers interact with your writing. Deciding whether your content is better suited for a bulleted list, an embedded video with compelling captions, or a lengthy narrative with links, are all things to consider. Knowing what kind of content to create is only half the battle, though.

You’ll want to structure your bulleted list of information in a way that best works with Google and SEO. You’ll also want to be aware of how you’re incorporating links and tagging keywords. When it comes to my personal writing and my personal blog, I’m honestly not always practicing what I preach (and I’m making a note to myself). It’s a good goal to keep things relevant and precise, link to useful content, and offer your readers something they can use. If a list is the best way to do that, then create a list. If you love editing videos and your content is well-suited for videos, do that. My friend over at Mint & Porter really has a passion for vlogging and has started a project that showcases her talent and passion for video content. So: Be You and your passion really will guide your content.

Types of Content: Evergreen & Trending

There’s so much I could get into here, but I want to keep this writing advice to the point, so in short: consider whether a post is evergreen or a a trending topic post. Evergreen content will be those perennial posts that are never stale and can relate to your audience no matter what. Depending on your blog’s topic, this may be a useful how-to post or a post that lists some really great, fundamental information surrounding your business’s area of focus.

Trending topics are, on the other hand, just what they sound like. They are posts that are reacting to something seasonal or perhaps something that is happening in current events. It may be a local event that somehow ties into your community and small business. Or perhaps it’s a post focusing on a holiday or seasonal event. Trend posts can talk about virtually anything, but the point is to remember that once the buzz about the event you’re reacting to dies down, the traffic through that post will definitely deaden too. This isn’t always a bad thing, and you can certainly internally link to trending tops, or link to your evergreen content. Diversifying your topics and focus will create a better site all-around.

Word Counts Matter

Remember when your English teacher assigned a page count or a word count, and you wondered if word counts even matter? Well, they matter. Especially when you’re talking about SEO and blogs finding their way to Google rankings. This is maybe one of the top reasons people hire me. In addition to creating lists and links and defining keywords and research, aiming for two-thousand words can seem like a really daunting goal. Updating your content twice a week, minimum, is ideal, and making sure your posts are reaching a minimum of 1,200 words is crucial. Ideally, your word counts should be somewhere around 2,000.

To give this context, a Word document typed in some kind of standard font at a standard font-size will yield about 250 words per page. Basic editing and proofreading are, of course, incredibly important, so hitting your word count can suddenly feel like being assigned one or two college essays every single week. At least you can just link to your references rather than typing up those pesky Works Cited pages, am I right?

Contact a Writer

I hope this post was a tiny bit helpful if you’re a small business owner or otherwise considering social media and blogging as part of your workflow. You can always contact us with any questions, and if you’re curious how hiring a writer could better serve your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Writing Down the Bones: Revisiting My Past

Originally, I planned to teach creative writing and write fiction on the side. Over twenty years ago, Natalie Goldberg released her now-classic book, Writing Down the Bones. I read it in undergrad and this plus Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird and considered them both indispensable maps on how to craft my life of writing. Now, I’m a writer freelancing in Colorado Springs and while it does have me offering writing service on the daily–it doesn’t have me using my creative writing skills in the same way I did when I was writing fiction and poetry and teaching kids and adults how to write a story or memoir.

A Writer’s Dream

I guess I ended up living the writer’s dream, in the sense that people pay me money to write words for them. I find a huge amount of satisfaction in being able to lend my creative voice and expertise to all sorts of Colorado Springs businesses and websites. I love bringing an authentic voice to a blog or website for a small business that doesn’t have time or the niche expertise to put together keyword-driven, SEO writing. But sometimes, a person wants to tell the story they were meant to tell.

This is why I’ve started revisiting creative writing in the cracks of my spare time. Also, I don’t have a lot of spare time–but that’s another matter. I’m loving how feeding my creative spirit is rejuvenating my professional writing. I’m remembering all the reasons I loved writing creative non-fiction and memoir narratives. I’m also remembering how incredibly freeing and healing creative writing can be.

Your Creative Journey

As I contemplated what to share this week, I felt the stir of spring (even though we are having the typical Colorado Springs snow flurry and winter weather right now). I thought of all the artists everywhere who might be struggling to do the thing and make the art. Whether its writing or drawing, painting, or the art of running a small business, those with the drive to create and make things can find this time of year so exhausting. It’s the demand of the daily while fighting the cold sludge of winter, meeting the promise of spring and the waning boon of the New Year and all her glorious resolutions and anti-resolutions. Everything on our list seems so important yet so elusive. The wheel of time seems so fast and yet so slow.

I’m challenging you to do the the thing in the month of March. Conquer a goal or a single step on your list that might seem insurmountable. The stir of spring really is stirring. Even beneath the snow and flurries of freezing winds, the promise of spring will still emerge. I’m wishing you the very best, no matter what your goals might be. For me, as I mentioned, I want to return to some creative writing ideas. These personal projects really leave me with more energy than they steal away.

The Writer’s Journey

So I’ve decided the writer’s journey hasn’t, in fact, ended for me at all. I’m energized by my work and excited to add clients to the growing client roster. I’m really looking forward to finding some others who would love to critique and revise their writing in a small-group setting. I’m not wanting to return to teaching or leading workshops–I’m simply hoping for some community.

With that said, I’ve heard good things about the Pike’s Peak Writers, and I bet other groups are out there if I just look for them. You can always drop me a line and let me know what writer groups or critique circles you know and love. And if you’re looking to add some professional and SEO writing to your website, please shoot me an email and be in touch!

Until next time,

Angi

Hiring a Writer: 5 Reasons You Totally Should

Connecting and Expanding

A lot of small business owners struggle with connecting to the community and expanding their clientele. No matter the type of business, nearly every small business owner is hoping to create meaningful and, ultimately, profitable relationships with clients. As a business owner and a copywriter, I’m always learning more about ways to network, connect, and expand my own presence, and it’s been valuable to consider how my business can help other businesses.

Show-Up and Be Seen

I try to connect and show-up in the real world more so I, as a business-person, can be seen. No one can hire me to write if they don’t know I exist, right?! Attending events and meetings that relate well to my niche, for instance, helps me connect and serve more of my local community. And I love the conversations that come up about what other people are trying to do to show up and be seen in their industries, too. I notice trends within these conversations, like, oh, I know I should be updating my website more, but… and Social Media Marketing is definitely important, but…

And those “buts” are so often along the lines of: but I don’t have time. But I hate writing blog posts. I can never think of what to say. Who has time for it?

It might be time to hire a writer if:

  • You need more time to do the stuff that interests you within your business.
  • Your website is up and going, but you struggle to keep it updated with fresh and relevant content.
  • Increasing web-presence is your goal, but social media can be so hard to tackle.
  • The niche industry you work in has specific language and particulars that make it hard to communicate with the general population.
  • You know what you want to say, but writing is hard.

More Time For Your Business

This one is the obvious one, but you need time for your business. Maybe you’re super-busy with daily tasks, you have no time to sit down and crank out two-thousand-word articles on a weekly basis.

A writer can do this for you, because their job is to write. You want to connect with more peeps and grow your business, but you also need to do all the things. Let your passion be your passion, and outsource the time-consuming parts that fall outside your scope of expertise.

Your Website Needs Content

Every website needs content, and they need good content. What people might not consider once they’ve partnered with a pro designer or web dev to launch the website of their business-dreams, is that once that pro website is up and running, your Google rankings don’t make themselves. Among all the SEO strategies, fresh, continuous content is still key to getting your rankings up there.

SEO writing is more than dumping words on the blog, too. It’s why writers like myself geek out over keyword analysis and silly formulas that actually work. As a writer, I happen to be a fan of writing, though, so while I’m applying the stats and the formulas, I’m still striving to create relevant, engaging content for my clients that works on several levels.

Increase Your Organic Google Traffic

If you want to increase your organic google traffic, solid writing can be key. Social Media Marketing can take place across a ton of platforms like Twitter and Instagram, but a website is often home-base for a small business. Often, the social media marketing strategy will involve some kind of funnel back to a business website. So, if you’re looking for one more way to connect people to your website—and to your services!—frequent, relevant, fresh content on your website’s blog is definitely one way to increase the traffic and Google ranking of your website.

A writer can prioritize your company’s blog-writing and deliver those blog-posts to you on a schedule, leaving you with one less worry. Did you know Google loves posts around 1,500 words? And did you know there are a few ways to format your blog posts to increase your visibility? I’ll try to get to those topics on another day…

But, seriously, there are so many little details that can be second nature to a good content or copywriter—and since it’s an industry unto itself, it could be a complete hassle for business owners to follow trends and adjust their writing formula to meet all the new “rules” for writing on the web.

Your Industry Language is Too Specific

This is maybe my favorite reason for people to hire me–when their passion involves an industry language that is super specific. I often work with people who are experts in their industry, and that expertise can actually hinder their ability to talk about what they do to people who need their services the most. Perhaps it’s a plumber or an electrician, or a massage therapist or insurance sales person. I love being an “interpreter.” Because I am not an expert in your industry, I must research and learn enough to effectively communicate accurate, relevant information to your audience.

I love the initial conversation with clients, because I always learn so much. I can tell their expertise and passion converge, but this makes it hard to connect with accessible language. Commercial electric engineering? Specialty plumbing? Auto detailing restoration or detailing? I had no knowledge until I wrote for these industries.

Writing is Hard

This may or may not ring true to you, but writing can be hard. I know, because my Master’s is in writing. When I was working on my thesis, it sometimes felt like I would never hear another positive word about my paragraphs. The work was exhausting, tedious, and mind-numbing at times. But, at the end of the day, I love writing in a lot of forms because it is my chosen niche industry, so all that difficulty is worth it. 

Oh, and writing is a talent. Now excuse me while I laugh at that one. No, writing is a niche skill that some kind-of-crazy people (like myself) spent a few extra years learning on a whole different level of intensity. Many people can write, and perhaps they can write really well. But gaining the skills to fluently write about things outside your knowledge-base, while plugging in certain SEO criteria, is definitely a “talent” in the sense that it is a focused skill.

My training as a writer never really ends. I’m always learning more about how SEO and social media work. The way it works constantly changes. This means I’m constantly adjusting my approach and looking for ways to be better and more efficient. It isn’t hard, but it certainly isn’t something every business owner wants to do in addition to all the other things their management duties entail.

Are you ready?

Are you ready to hire a writer? Or are you ready to be a writer? Either way, it’s a call to action if you’re serious about connecting people to your website. If you want to learn more about how hiring a writer can help your business, please contact us. And if you’d like to learn more about writing, please… contact us! I’m always so happy to answer questions and have a conversation about words.

Angi is a freelance writer based in the Colorado Springs area. Contact us if you would like to connect!

Writing for Success: 3 Things I’m Changing NOW

I started 2020 with big goals, and tbh I’m smashing them. But it’s a slow smashing. Like, chipping away at a very hard surface with a delicate hammer made of ceramic. I don’t want my tools to shatter, so I’m sort of going about things delicately. But it is about to change. I’ve got the grid-work in place and partners lined up! I’ve got a schedule that sometimes works. And a support system that is pretty darn amazing.

#Goals and Daily Productivity

SO…it was really time to look at my daily productivity and decide what’s going to happen, and what needs to change, in order to meet my goals. I am sure a few are out there nodding already.

I put together a list to nail down some specifics about how I’m turning my part-time freelancing into a more serious SEO writing endeavor. I love partnering with local businesses and small business owners to offer solutions for web-based content writing and freelance writing work. My problem has been lacking the availability because, well, kids and family are my absolute first-loves. It took some soul-searching to realize prioritizing my career isn’t about loving my fam less, it’s about feeling productive and excited for opportunities to add value to the local and online communities I serve.

A Freelancing Mama’s List of Change

  1. Dedication to Freelancing. I’m a Freelancing Mama, and I plan to emphasize the Freelancing aspect this year and attack those local business networking events, like, hardcore. And all the many To-Do’s that fall under Work & Accountability–it’s my year to treat them with serious commitment. This means I’m connecting with current partners like Colorado Springs-local Modernize My Site and the lovely Angelina Pecoraro (who does amazing work with front end web design). I am also networking and actively seeking new small businesses and local folks who are in the market for SEO writing and freelance services.
  2. Writing Daily: with intention, with commitment. Kind of like back when I completed my Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing, I intend to sit down every day to work on writing and SEO projects. Maybe it’s a personal project (hello Fiction, my old friend), or maybe it’s a blog post or SEO content for a local business. The goal is to stop putting off work until I’ve done “enough” around the house. No more fitting it in somewhere between naps and baths.
  3. Letting Go of Guilt. Because Guilt serves no one. Guilt is completely unhelpful and serves no one. This is a tough one to tackle, and I know so many others wrestle with this annoying thing on the daily.

And That’s All, Fellow Freelancers

If you’re a fellow freelancer, what are you changing? What are you hoping to do in 2020? I love connecting with other freelancers, small businesses, and local businesses to work together. You can always leave a comment or shoot me an email at moonphasecreative@gmail.com

Look for some more changes and improvements soon-to-come. It will be a slow but steady year of adding, deleting, moving, and changing the way Moonphase Creative does things, and I’m so excited.

Until Next Time,

Angi

The Productivity Mindset

Every one of us probably falls into the productivity self-sabotage category at some point. For me, there have been multiple causes along the timeline of my adult life, and in every season of self-sabotage, comes an opportunity for solutions and personal growth.

My work as a freelance writer and visual arts dabbler demands a more creative and dedicated approach to time-management and chunking work-blocks effectively. In season of toddler parenting and pregnancy, it often falls to the wayside due to family life; but not having a 9-5 job that allows–demands, even–the dedication to work, means I find weeks passing without much satisfying workflow.

The cycle is never-ending, and it usually ends with me demanding a change because one more day of dishes, laundry, and screaming offspring without a single “grown up work achievement” is going to drive me into the madhouse.

Everyone wants to keep mom out of the madhouse.

So I return to the pages with a freshly minted mindset of productivity and dedication–and it works. It works well! But in another six weeks, I can tell you where I will probably be…

Yes. The madhouse.

All that said, this list isn’t just for you, Dear Reader. It’s more for me, and I’m optimistically hoping that maybe it will help another work-from-home-parent out.

 

5 Tips For the Work-at-Home-Freelancer

  1. Treat your job like a…well…job. I’m really guilty of saying, “well, I can make any appointment at any time because my schedule is flexible.” And while this is true–truer for those with a brick-n-mortar workplace with timesheets and managers–it doesn’t mean that I can fill up four out of five work-days with back to back appointments and keep up with my freelance workload.
  2. Block out FOUR HOUR work periods during your self-imposed work-week. I say FOUR with such emphasis because, like me, freelance probably appeals because it isn’t strictly and eight hour work day all the time without variation. I do recommend committing to four hour chunks, though, because now you have allotted time to work productively without interruption. You will be less likely to schedule appointments or cut your day short because of other peoples’ needs if you create four hour work-blocks. Anything less, it is easier to lose productivity; anything more, you may feel it hinders the flexible appeal of freelance.
  3. Set THREE small goals. Then kill them. Kill them dead! I like the number three because it is doable; even if one of the goals is bigger–like “finish writing client’s 10 page content packet,” I know I can accomplish it within my four hour work-block (with the help of the right soundtrack, that is). And usually, accomplishing three goals snowballs to five or six–depending upon the task size. It is a good number to aim for when I need help boosting a positive trajectory.
  4. Keep a journal and list notebook. As with everything on this list, modify whatever items you need in order to make it work. Discard the advice that doesn’t resonate with you. Many creative freelance types, however, may like the idea of keeping a tangible notebook with lined or unlined paper to capture their thoughts, notes, lists, and letters. I personally have a lot circulating; stationary and unique notebooks is a sort of collector’s-hobby for me at this point in my life, and I don’t like wasting so I have many notebooks dedicated to lists, doodles, work-related notes, home-related notes, personal journaling, and personal art journaling. ET CETERA. This is probably not the best pointer for productivity, but I think my bigger point is: find something to keep near your work-desk that makes you happy and reminds you to be you. You will be happier, and this will lend itself to greater productivity.
  5. Teach others to treat your job like a job. This ties back to point number one, and it demands that you honor point number one and take it seriously. In every aspect of our lives, we essentially teach others how we want to be treated. When you work from home, are self-employed, and call yourself a freelancer, the need to define your work time and your scope of work as a real thing demanding time and space to accomplish is paramount. People will think of you as a stay-at-home-parent, a part-time dabbler, and a hobbyist if you do not teach them that your work is valuable and the time and space needed to do it is mandatory.

Number Five is my current struggle. Today I received a text asking for my time for an important but rather personal matter. As we scrambled to pass out cereal bowls, dress kids, organize the day, and generally eject from the house, I told my husband, “I get it, but I absolutely have to get some work done or I am going to lose my mind and lose the weekend because stuff is piling up.”

“I get it,” he said. “I’m honestly grateful I have a desk and an office to go to, nobody questions that. If I had to work at home and see stuff piling up, I think I would lose my mind too.”

Never underestimate the power of feeling validated. But, beyond that, I “teach” him that my work is real. He sees the assignments I have, we talk about my clients, and because we run a household together and my job requires that creative flair of scheduling work time, he is usually the only other adult to actually see me demand time to meet a deadline or finish a project. He is easy to teach, and respects my work, but generally speaking I do the most self-advocating to him, and really I should have that attitude with appointment-making, volunteering, committing to social or sport events, and otherwise spreading myself too thin.

Were these tips helpful? What tips do you have to add? I’d love to hear what works for you and what you’re doing to conquer and thrive the work-from-home challenges!

 

The Artist Mom’s Summer Adventure

Remember when I said the summer insanity was nearly upon us? Well—it’s here! And I have been fighting a ton of anxiety, mom-guilt, and a lot of pressure to 1) get my business better organized and continue the expansion and 2) prepare everything and everyone for our newest addition that will arrive in August.

This past weekend, I tried to explain all these nerves and anxieties to my ever-patient partner. He totally understood; he reminded me that he’s here to take care of the kids, juggle the family taxi and let me have time to work, self-care, and all the other things. By Monday evening, after similar reminders from my dad, who is a wonderful grandparent-support just up the street, I felt a whole lot better about everything. So much better, in fact, I planned to commit and attend the weekly early-morning business networking group that could prove invaluable to my work as a freelance writer. I scheduled out blocks of work-time, and strategized about the dreaded Tuesday when my younger two kiddos have lots of appointments and no daycare. I felt pretty good about the newfound structure and was optimistically secure in my support system.

On Wednesday, my partner has the kids up and out the door well before 8 a.m. because my early meeting begins at 7.45 and their daycare is on his way to work. My eldest, still sleeping and self-sufficient, was enjoying the first real opportunity to sleep in on her summer break on this particular morning. I felt confident about this day—after all, I even called ahead at 6.30 a.m. to the daycare to ensure my four-year-old had the three tee shirts I’d ordered all ready to go for her summer camp uniform. I packed her backpack with a labeled water bottle and sunscreen, her favorite stuffed bunny, and we talked about her class trip to Build A Bear for the day.

I’m the first to admit I’m a hot mess mom, but this day felt pretty okay. I got everyone out the door with kisses, hugs, and neatly tied ponytails (except Ben, he can take care of his own hair). Less than an hour later, though, about 10 minutes prior to my meeting’s scheduled beginning, I got a rather stern phone call from her school.

“You will have to come get P,” the employee said. “She has a field trip today and she is totally unprepared, and it would be unacceptable for her to attend the field trip today.”

“Hmmm, okay, I’m sorry what is she missing.”

“She doesn’t have a shirt—”

“I called at 6.30 a.m. to ask if the 3 shirts we ordered several weeks ago were available, and I was told the shirts are there—we hadn’t been given them to take home in the weeks since I placed the order.”

“She doesn’t have sunscreen, a backpack, or a water bottle—”

“I labeled her sunscreen and water bottle and put them in her backpack—which should also have her name on it. I am really sorry, what else does she need today?”

“A hat, she doesn’t have a hat. You have about two hours to get a hat to her or she absolutely can’t go.”

Of course, I skipped my meeting—because either way I was going to have to miss the meeting, and at least if I ducked out and brought the hat to her, I could still get writing and illustration work accomplished. But I admit, I was fuming. All this worry about juggling kids and childcare, and wondering if a thousand dollars per child–per month– could be justified for childcare costs… in that moment, as I forfeited a profitable and important business opportunity so I could get my kid’s hat to her, the thousand dollars did not seem like a well-spent investment.

angi-00492742912830494283137.jpg
My family. We are usually going lots of different ways. Photo by Jackie & Ryan Photography, Colorado Springs!!

 

I can’t imagine too many parents would want to be called out of a meeting and lose opportunities over a hat. Sure, it is one incident, and normally if the kids have an appointment or need me, I’m there and can be there quickly because being self-employed is typically one of the most flexible jobs ever. Had my daughter been actually totally unprepared, even, I could see the school’s point and would feel less annoyed and flustered by being asked to cancel my work and deliver a hat.

It did help me re-evaluate what I’m doing and where I am with my kids this summer. My heart is with them. Often, my days are spent coordinating and shuttling to and from appointments for one of the three, and so my work suffers despite 2/3 of our children being stuck in a classroom. The evening is dedicated to them, and after they sleep I’m too busy cleaning and preparing for the next day to do much work. And weekends, too, seem the worst place for work, because they’ve been in school and daycare all week and now I want to spend time with my family.

Yesterday, though, that “dreaded” day of appointments? We survived it, and we thrived it. Work-life balance is hard to come by, but yesterday seemed great for the most part. We accomplished all our appointments and squeezed in a special milkshake treat and a trip to the park. We got home just as some rain set in, and everyone watched a movie with popcorn while I retreated to my studio to work on painting and a few small business details. It was, in all aspects, more productive than most days—AND I spent more quality time with my kids than usual, too. In fact, I didn’t want today to start so rushed and send everyone off to summer camps and pre-school. I knew my 4-year-old was pretty excited for Build A Bear, and that I had plenty of work to get to– but also I wondered what kind of adventures would I have if we didn’t have to commit to the scheduled grind.

20190529_1215551988015448749885196.jpg
Accomplished while the kids survived popcorn and a movie in a separate room.

When the morning rolled out as it did, I felt all sorts of things bubble up. The feminist in me started ranting about mom-shaming; after all, just that morning as Ben asked me about new classrooms and where to bring her summer camp backpack, and he joked it was good to be a man, because everyone is helpful and no one thinks anything of it when you don’t know what’s going on at your kids’ school.

The mom in me felt guilty.

The self-employed freelancer felt stressed and worried about work missed.

I decided this is, perhaps, the last summer we have before my eldest is “too cool” to be part of the adventure. It is our last summer before my second-born starts school. It is a summer of a lot of change, and I couldn’t imagine three people I would rather spend it with than my kids.

Will it be easy? No. But it wasn’t easy before, either.

 

We start the adventure July 1st, stay tuned!

 

Happy summer,

 

Angi

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Situation: When Summer isn’t Easy to Navigate

Spring has sprung. We are planting our gardens and planning graduations, coping with—I mean celebrating—Mother’s Day, and preparing for Summer. Everyone talks about the pressures and stressors of the winter holiday season, but no one talks about the crazy time that Spring—especially the month of May—can be.

Gearing up to embrace spring & summer with my creative output!

I, for one, have felt overwhelmed as I plan and organize the summer childcare, the kids’ camps and sports and activities while accounting for transportation, budget, and daily schedules while trying to simultaneously work and be pregnant. I know a lot of others who are feeling the crunch; the ones I have heard from are fellow mamas, or teachers, or caregivers who are feeling the distinct pull to spring-clean and spruce up while also maintaining the daily, PLUS prepare for the drastic shift into summer, where our work is expected to continue but our children are suddenly on break and require care, activities, different schedules and transportation.

We love the chaos of family! But also. It is chaos.

Marketing, to some degree, addresses the reality of the busy, hectic nature that the Holiday Hustle entails during the winter months. We feel the pressure to put on our holiday sparkle and deliver a smashing performance while coordinating choir performances and winter sports with holiday gatherings and thoughtful gift giving. But we are also reminded that people are human and that this is a stressful time that requires some introspection and self-care.

What feels less marketable and less discussed, though, is the crushing reality of Spring moving into Summer. It feels like an invisible undercurrent that has a lot of people struggling to stay afloat. I want to discuss that a tiny bit, as I have been doing some work to re-launch my creative business while also trying to account for the extra challenges and changes that come with the impending days of Summer.

When Summer hits, how do we find time to keep up the process?!

As my business gains momentum, I find it largely relies on a routine that involves the kids getting off to school, and I see such satisfying rhythm in the routine. Now I’m faced with the reality of May 24th, when my almost-middle-schooler will be home 24/7. I have some outside support, and my kiddo can run a bit free-range—but it is still a new challenge. And that got me thinking about families who have three or four kids to account for (just like we will, once our youngest babes are in public school rather than daycare).

How do we adjust and adapt to the summer days when we are trying to work? What about that unique blessing+challenge that happens when working from home? In order to explore this topic more and share with you what strategies and solutions I might find, I’m dedicating the Monday Blog Post to this Summer Situation. I want to adventure with my kiddos and attend all the soccer, T-Ball, and swim lessons and zoo trips I can! But I also want to find that sweet spot of balancing work and clients and creative output.

Feel free to message or comment with your own thoughts about the Summer Situation, or let me know what your survival strategies are. Everyone has a unique challenge; maybe it isn’t kids for you—it could be providing care for an elderly parent or relative, or dealing with other family/life/career transitions. It seems, though, we give a lot of thought to New Year’s Resolutions, the darkness of winter, and the perils and practices of coping with the winter months; but we don’t talk about the cycles that follow as much. We want to keep Spring Cleaning tidy; the fact is, it isn’t always a neat endeavor.

I’ll keep you posted on the honest truth of the Summer Situation on Mondays. Ideas for budgeting time and managing transportation, working at home while kids are at home, and handling the daily. If it isn’t helpful or useful, maybe—at least—it will be a bit humorous.

From my busy home to yours,

Angi

Works in Progress

As I grow my daily (or almost daily) practice of art, I am finding so much inspiration for decorative art especially!! Selfishly, I want to keep this mermaid canvas for our house for my daughters’ bathroom.

We are expecting our FOURTH baby!! And I am thrilled, particularly with the art and decor of the baby’s room-to-be. Previously, I found there was never enough time or resources to get creative and go all out with home decor of any kind… and maybe that is why I am so drawn to making that kind of decorative, relatable, accessible art that can add a splash of personality to rooms of all purpose.

Keep an eye out as I plan to be speaking more to home decor art and showing my process as I focus on this aspect of illustration and creation!

Words for Sale

In addition to dabbling in paint and pictures, I am a writer. I hold an MFA (Goddard 2012) in creative writing and have since found enjoyment in both teaching creative writing and crafting my words for hire.

I wrote fiction and poetry, but found it to be a soul-wrenching endeavor with very little compensation. Motherhood and family life didn’t leave room for this for many years, and my writing was largely left behind in my pre-mom-life.

In itself, writing wasn’t fulfilling as a creative practice the way I find fine art and illustration to be; but creating copy that is useful and informative for people? That is extremely rewarding. This is where I found purpose and enjoyment in taking my writing off the shelf to put words out into the world.

I love helping people in all kinds of industries power their websites, promotional materials, and more with compelling copy. I may not have expertise in a given industry I am writing for, but I am able to discuss, research, and learn what the client needs and package it in succinct, relatable copy that businesses can turnaround for use on websites or within brochures or other promotional materials.

My ability to put together solid copywriting fairly quickly can be a huge stress reliever for business owners, and it is a skill that seemed so innate to my own business practice, I was a bit shocked to realize how useful I was for others.

I have been busy lately with both art and writing, which has left this space a bit neglected. But picking up work again feels a whole lot better than the health issues thag caused me to take time away in January and February!

If you have a small business and are looking for ways to boost your wordcount, I would love to be in touch.

If you have other writing-related questions, I am happy to chat–just shoot me a message!