Creative at Heart: Takeaways

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After almost two weeks, I still can’t believe how full my heart is from Creative at Heart. As promised, I wanted to share some of my biggest takeaways from those two incredible days. My plan is to incorporate as many of these lessons into my business this year that I possibly can! I’ve also made quite a to-do/goal list for myself too! Katelyn made a great point though, if you make goals…write them down, it makes you accountable! :)

So here we go…my takeaways from Creative at Heart:

First up, the lovely Katelyn Alsop spoke about building a business on blogging. She shared the importance of creating content that’s valuable, blogging for a purpose, and sharing things that people want to know! Remember, your blog is your voice and your reputation, and it should be a true reflection of you. Most importantly, she spoke about being a leader and leading with intention…from the heart. Disclaimer: I can write pages and pages about this women. She is such an open book, so gracious, so loving, such a beautiful person (inside & out) and such an inspiration. I cannot say enough about her and even though I’m not a photographer, I feel like she’s made me a better creative business owner.

Natalie also spoke about blogging regularly and explained that consistency instills trust, something I never thought of before but makes complete sense! She also shared some incredible information about social networking. Specifically this simple tip: BE SOCIAL. Take the extra second to comment and share your thoughts on someone’s post. It’s so much more thoughtful and genuine then just tapping on that heart over and over. And finally, what stuck with me most…STOP COMPARING. Stop trying to create this ‘Pinterest perfect’ life. Stop looking around and start looking inward. That’s what matters most.

Krista totally rocked my SEO world and taught us how to make Google our new best friend. I learned very quickly how important it is to fill out all those text fields that I’d been ignoring in WordPress! Eek!

I just wanted to get up and hug Lauren during her presentation on branding. Seriously, she answered the question that I get almost daily, “What is branding”? Friends, I’ll tell you this…branding is so much more than just a logo. Here’s one of my favorite quotes Lauren shared that sums up that question pretty perfectly. “Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.” – Entrepreneur.com

On day two, things got real as Rachel went over some legal topics. She shared five mistakes all small business owners are making and I pretty sure I’m doing four out of five of them (don’t worry, I’m kidding). Honestly though, her presentation was very eye opening. Everyone, drop what you’re doing and take a closer look at your contracts…and stop doing things for free, except if it’s for your Mom! :)

Michael shared tons of valuable financial tips that gave me a huge reality check. My biggest takeaway from his presentation was to be responsible and realistic with my finances and start paying more attention to what I’m getting back from my investments. Does it make sense to spend $50 on each bride for pretty packaging that’s just going to be tossed in the trash? Probably not. I also realized that I need to be more organized with my expenses and take a good hard look at where exactly my money is going. Thanks for the good kick in the pants, Michael!

Alexandra discussed something I think a lot of people in the creative industry struggle with…”What exactly do you do?” Let me break it down for you, friends. Photographers do more than just take pictures, event planners don’t just plan events, and designers do more than make pretty things. They work hard, very hard…and there’s SO much more that goes on behind the scenes then most people realize. And yes, they are real, full-time jobs. So what do you do when nobody takes you seriously? Work hard and take yourself seriously. If you’re confident in what you do, than others will feel the same way.

I can’t lie, I definitely got a little choked up during Bonnie’s presentation. Mostly because as she was sharing the struggles she had early on in her business, she was telling my story. Exactly. Word for word. As I sat there and soaked in every word of her discussion, I found myself somewhat paralyzed. Why? Because for so long I’ve struggled with guilt for neglecting my friends, family, and husband. I’ve felt exhausted for working 24/7 and never taking breaks. I’ve been so underwater trying to juggle a full-time job and Jess Creates. What stopped me dead in my tracks though, was that Bonnie (someone who I totally admire, if I didn’t mention that already) went through the same exact thing. I couldn’t believe it, but it made me feel this sense of relief. Bonnie’s main solution was BALANCE, and that’s going to be one of my top priorities this year. After the conference was over I personally thanked Bonnie (while trying not to cry) for what she shared. She may never know what an impact that hour long discussion had on me. Bonnie, you’re the best.

The waterworks continued as Kat wrapped up the conference with the final presentation. I don’t think there was a dry eye in that place, this girl seriously has a heart of gold. She encouraged us to make goals, to believe in ourselves, and to make things happen through hard work (and a little bit of fairy dust). The one thing she stressed that I plan to keep close to my heart moving forward, is this: COMPASSION over COMPETITION. Don’t be afraid to share and build friendships in your industry, folks. If I learned anything during my time at CAH, it’s the importance of community!

Kat and Taylor. I cannot thank you enough for following your hearts and creating this beautiful experience. You have gifted me with so much; confidence, new friends, encouragement…I could go on and on. Creative at Heart is an experience that I will never forget! I’m forever thankful for you two.

XOXO
- Jess

Image Credit: Shay Cochran and Creative at Heart Branding by Elle & Company

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