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Blogstock: Creative Revolution, Do What You Love [Speech]


Post of my speech at Blogstock 2014, which was held from August 8th to 9th, 2014 at Elstree, UK. …

Post of my speech at Blogstock 2014, which was held from August 8th to 9th, 2014 at Elstree, UK.

My speech discusses how to discover your creative gifts, market them and create a business that is personally and professionally satisfying.

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  • 1. 1 How to Have a Creative Revolution – August 9, 2014 Where: Blogstock, Elstree, United Kingdom By Jeannie Mark Hello! So awesome to have youhere! Very gladyouguys and galscould make it!Is everyone having a goodtimein allthis sun? I feel likeI shouldbreak out in song – isn’t this just likea music festival, but for blogging? KindoflikeBlogstockUnplugged. I want to welcome you to thissession. My name is Jeannie Mark and I run the travel/creative site NomadicChick. [SLIDE: INTRO JEANNIE MARK AND NOMADIC CHICK] So, in case youdidn’t remember, the name of thissession is How to Have a Creative Revolution. It’s a funny name to beginwith, what exactly doesit mean, right? Let me tell youa bit about myself first, and I promise we’llget to thegist. In 2009, I started a website—and in trying to find a name, I kept thinking yeah... I want to be NOMADIC – a wanderer, no rules, no address, no ties! And then I thought about me – what kind of woman am I? Kind of a cheekychick, right?Hence NomadicChick was born. So, since 2010, I’ve been traveling and writing allover theworld. But beforeI left for my lover, travel, it was a very hard go. I hada life that should have been set. A decent career at an engineering company,a cute apartment bythe bayof downtown Vancouver, I had a cat and great friends; it all sounds gooddoesn’t it? [SLIDE: APARTMENT, FRIENDS, CAT] So whymess with my seemingly perfect life?Because, deep in my guts, was thetruth: I was living the life of an imposter. I remember poignantlywhat was theturning point for me. I worked at thisengineering companyand theonlydamn thing I wrote everyday were memos, notices or contracts for construction trades and inside – I WAS DYING. [SLIDE: WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINTIN YOUR CREATIVE REVOLUTION?]
  • 2. 2 I hadjust come out of a meeting with HR where in that meeting they told mea promotionthat Iwas promised would never be mine. Have you ever hadthisfeeling that youwere lifting out ofyour body –peering down and watching yourself, likea halo is surrounding you? Some peoplecallthisan out-of-bodyexperiences, others callit too much ecstasy, but one thing is for sure you are tuned in – have a claritythat you didn’t havebefore, amiright? I looked down at myself and realized something awful: that thisis howmy life would be defined -- forever. I wouldbe nothing but a paperpusher for therest of my days instead of thefantasies I pictured when I closed my eyes. And that fantasy was being a creative person - a woman playing words like a symphony. So – to engageyou, oh fair audience, I want you to think about your turning point.Or if you haven’t hadit yet,you are likelyclose if you are here today.  What was more awful was theimpact of knowing that my realitieswere spoon-fed to me. Writing was my dirtysecret—it was toldto me at a young age to do something more “serious”. (That evil inner voice): being creative is a terrible idea. You should stay at this jobuntil you are secure. It’s all about security, being pensioned up, never having anything uncertain. Safety, first! The crash of 2008 hadeffectivelyended my hopesof a promotion,but thething is I didn’t even want thepromotion.All along I was pretending. [SLIDE: 2008 ECONOMIC CRASH] Well meaning advice always tells creative people,oh,just do it on theweekends, pick up your paint brush or your pen after a 40 hours a week. Don’t worry about thelaundry or your car repairs – if you were reallycommitted to your “craft”, you’ddo it no matter what! [SLIDE: CREATIVITY] But “doing it on the weekends” wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I needed more, because doing it so littlewas filled with doubt anddread – a completelackof confidence in my writing ability.
  • 3. 3 So I got it into my headto travel. Why? What’sso great about travel? [SLIDE: YES TRAVEL!] Well, I was taking short tripsduring my illustrious corporatecareer and one thing for certain always hit me. This openness I had – it was like I couldbe myself without theexpectations, the pretension or have to be who everyone thought Ishould be.What I saw in my headand who I couldbe in Ecuador seemed to match.Whereas, in reality it didn’t. I thought –okay,maybe it’stime to do something reallydrastic here. To leave everything I have known, sell all my things, buya backpackand a laptop and beginto pitch myself as a freelance writer. Most importantly,it was thedesire to be reborn, to actuallydo what I wanted with my life. What a concept! I tellyou guys though,I was scared. There was a lot stacked against me. [SLIDE: NO BOYFRIEND, MIDDLE AGED & LITTLE FAMILY SUPPORT] For one thing,I was going to do thisalone, with no financial support. No boyfriendor husband to prop me up. And even though I may not lookit, I’m middleaged,which is considered thetime when your life shouldbe complete – when you shouldhave A, B, and C in place. Allmy friends were married or taking on mortgages,so in many ways theycouldn’t relateto me. And finally,because ofmy age,I got zero to littlefamily support. Theyworried about my future, but also retirement age. Yet,I knew I couldn’t go backwards despitethese challenges. It was sometime after a birthdaywhen I was primping myself in themirror and I noticed a few grey hairs. I was faced with mortality,that I was aging and that I couldn’t changeit. That’swhen I knew I needed to let go ofwhat didn’t work out and move forward. My motto thesedays: “Old ageshould never be about regret, but fondreflection.” [SLIDE: REGRET ANDOLD AGE] And so, NomadicChick was born and off I went, ambling through thefreelance writing world, trying my handat travel writing and still,stumbling through. [SLIDE: NOMADIC CHICK WAS BORN LOGO] I couldn’t quite grasp what it is I could be doing.Let’s face it -- I left everything I knew without a plan.
  • 4. 4 I suddenly hadthis Internet personalityto wrestle with and watched it grow, yet didn’t know what to do with it. What does it mean to do what we love? I lovea goodEnglish fry up, shouldI work at a pub and serve pints and barm cakes? [SLIDE: BARM CAKE] No, doing what we love means finding purpose. But in thebusiness world, howdoes that translate to making money? We allneed money to payour bills. Especiallyin theblog world, howdo youuse your talent – your creativityto builda presence and then buildincome? What I did was narrow down a few things, which can help younarrow down what YOUR THING IS: [SLIDE: FOCUS ONHOW TO NARROW DOWN YOUR PURPOSE] 1. What do people come to you for? Is it your visual style?Your way with words? The way youprepare and present food?Photography? Ihadto realize that peopledon’t cometo me for my photographyskills,if anything I am a third-rate photographer.Theycomefor my words and stories. 2. What is your weakness? As entrepreneurs, it can benecessary to do everything, but thetruth is as creative peoplewe simplycan’t be goodat everything. Discern your weak spotsand align with peoplewho can fillout your weak points. I am a strong aestheticperson, but weak on execution, so I hire peoplewho can bring my vision to life, by hiring a designer for example. 3. Don’t waste energy on whatever everybody else tells you to do. Seek out what is unique about you and your work and cultivate that.I have heardthis a milliontimes – Jeannie, do more video, do more video, because the web LOVES video. Thething is, I don’t love video,even though Iget a kickout editing videos, does that reallyhelp my agendaof writing, otherthan market a bookI have coming out?No. So for me, using video is a right time, right placething.Instead of wasting hours on it,I should use it when it’struly effective for me. Start thinking along thoselines. Just because everybodyis doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your brand. But thefact is you may havecome here not exactly knowing what your creative gift is, or maybe it’smuddied by otherfactors getting in theway. Purpose often is.
  • 5. 5 So yes, it’s yourturn to do a creative exercise. I call thisThe Creative Space. [SLIDE: YOUR CREATIVE SPACE] What is thecreative space? A placein your mind that youcan go to when you need to refocus and unwind. Dailylife can be stressful can’t it? But if you clear away the cobwebs, sometimes an answer comes. What’sthekey to meditation?Don’t laugh and beopen to it. And if your mind gets busy, it’s never a fail, meditationis practice,like anything is. It’s quite natural for the mind to have random thoughts. So let’sget started. Let me put on some mood music first.  [SLIDE: THINK ABOUT A SPOT WHERE YOU ARE FREE] I want youto thinkabout a specialplace where you can be free. Have that in my your mind before we begin. [CREATIVE SPACE MEDITATION] The Creative Space: Meditation Find a comfortable position. Put down your notebook and pen for a moment. Rest your hands in your lap gently. Try toclose your eyes with me and just try tolet go of the sounds outside the tent and think about being here and now. Feel the skin of our hands, the fabric of your pants or skirt. Or your body on the seat. For the next few moments, focus on calming your mind by focusing on your breathing. Allow your breathing to center and relax you. Breathe in.... and out. Breathe In..... Breathe out..... In.... Out.....
  • 6. 6 Continue to breathe slowly and peacefully as you allow the tension to start to leave your body. Release the areas of tension, feeling your muscles relax and become more comfortable with each breath. Continue to let your breathing relax you.... Breathe in....2...3...4.... ....2.....3...... out Breathe in ...2...3....4...... Breath out 2.....3....4.... Breathe in ....2....3.... and then out again...2...3....4.... 5 Continue to breathe slowly, gently, comfortably..... Let the rate of your breathing become gradually slower as your body relaxes. Now begin to create a picture in your mind of a place where you can completely create. Imagine what this place needs to be like in order for you to feel calm and relaxed. Start with the physical layout of the place you are imagining..... where is this place? You might envision somewhere outdoors.... or indoors..... it may be a small place or large one..... create an image of this place. (pause) Now picture some more details about your creative space. What are you picking up in your hand to begin? Feel the textures. Is it soft? Rough? Could it be a paint brush? The squareness of a keyboard key? The feel of paper beneath your fingers. Now that you have your tools, imagine what you are creating. Nobody is watching you. You are alone, free to do anything that fills your heart with happiness. Just you and your creative space. (pause) Imagine even more detail about your surroundings. Focus now on the relaxing sounds around you in your creative space.
  • 7. 7 Imagine the sensations of touch... including the temperature, any breeze that may be present, the surface you are on.... imagine the details of this calming place in your mind. Focus now on the sights of your place - colors, shapes.... objects.... plants..... water..... all of the beautiful things that make your place enjoyable. Picture yourself in this peaceful place using your tools. Imagine a feeling of calm..... of peace..... a place where you have no worries, cares, or concerns.... a place where you can simply rejuvenate, relax, and enjoy just creating. (pause) Enjoy your creative space for a few moments more. Memorize the sights, sounds, and sensations around you. In these last few moments of relaxation, create a picture in your mind that you will return tothe next time you need it. Picture yourself in your creative space. This moment you are imagining now, you can picture again the next time you need to relax. File away your creative space in your mind, hold it in our precious hands. Know that you can open up your hands and see that space again. Turn your attention back to the present. Slowly open your eyes and breathe in. Then breathe out. Notice your surroundings as your body and mind return to their usual level of alertness and wakefulness. You are back here, with us at Blogstock. End of Meditation Wonderful. Youguys didgreat! Now, I want you openup your metaphorical handsnow, keep that creative space fresh in your mind and pick up your notebookandpen. Write down what yousaw, anything youcan remember about your creative space. What does it looklike?What were youdoing? It doesn’t have to be literary or polished,just free write whatever comes into your head, no matter what.Nothing is silly or wrong. I’llgive about 10 minutes for thisexercise.
  • 8. 8 [TIMED 10 MINUTE INTERVAL OF GROUP WORK] Sweet? Everybodydone? Awesome. Now, I know this will behard, but I want each of you to share what was in your creative space. I know it’snot easy to share thissince we alldon’t know each otherthat well. But remember, I asked that you allbe open minded.  So, I’m going to ask each of youto stand up and introduceyourself and tellus what your blog is and then share what yousaw in your creative space. [EVERYBODY STANDS UP, INTRODUCES THEMSEVLES ANDSHARES. LENGTH OF TIME: 15 TO 20 MINUTES] All right,so now that we have shared our creative vision, keep that picture crisp in your head.Let’s talkabout your blog brandright now. You havethis creative vision in your head right now, whetheryou love writing, designing, cooking,or coaching. Next, I want you to answer thisquestion. Where do you want to take your creative brand? [SLIDE: CREATIVE BRAND,WHERE DO YOU WANTTO GO?] Let’s takea few minutes to do something called a ‘blog map”in your notebook. Here’s an example. [SLIDE: EXAMPLE OF BLOGMAP]. It doesn’t have to be fancy like mine, but when you assign icons and symbols sometimes that helpsyou focus on your goals. Maybeyou want to buildproductsout of your gift or increase your audience interaction. Take a few minutes to do thisexercise on in your notebook.And let’ssee what results come out. [EVERYBODY TAKES A FEW MINUTES TO DO THEIR BLOGMAP] Is everybodyready?Okay,I want a few of you(it doesn’t have to be everyone) to share you blog map with us. [A FEW PEOPLESHARE THEIR BLOGMAP]
  • 9. 9 Wow, you guys brought a lot to thetablehere. So, let’sgo back to thebeginning when I talked about doing what youlove and making money at it. Let me show youa mix of my current profitsand projections for thenear future. [SLIDE: NOMADIC CHICK PROFITS AND PROJECTIONS] Affiliates 5% Brand partnerships 25% Products 10% Events 20% Freelance Writing 40% So, thebiggerquestion is howto even decidewhat kinds of partnerships, affiliates and products to launch, right? This is where us creative peoplefallapart.We know howto create, but not always sure how to make lasting business connections. 1. First, do a marketing survey or analyzeyour analyticsto see who is reading your blog,is it men or women, maybeboth,and what age groups? Don’t just measure what you receive through thecomments, but analyze your analytics well. Also, what typesof people read your blog?Is it someone who wants to hire a designer? A writer? A photographer?Myreaders are women aged 18 to 45, who are writers or interested in the fantasy oftravel. That is my market in a nugget. 2. Second, thenotionthat none ofus have gifts is untrue. We allhave them. Turning your gift into something sustaining use to be reserved for thetop 10%. But theInternet changed the game, didn’t it? Since my gift is writing I’ve identified ways to craft products that always bring thefocus back to what I have to offer – whetherit’s resource books,writing tipsand next year I’m hosting a writer’s retreat. Maybeyou givewebinars on howto use Photoshop,ormethods of painting,or teach online courses, or offer workshops, whatever you do, keep thefocus on your gift because making those products will feel more satisfying and you’llactuallywant to work on them! 3. Next, what are your related markets? Seek themout. Make alliances with organizationsor collaboratorsthat addto your creative brand. Maybe it’sart supplyproducts or creative spaces to work in (like studio spaces) if you are a
  • 10. 10 visual artist. If youare craft based person, maybe it’saligning with an internationalorganizationthat teacheswomen in developing countries to create theirown handicraft business. For me: since women are part of my readers, I have to think ofwhat kind ofproducts will assist them in their lifeor travels. That couldbe aligning with women focused sites, in lifestyle,fashion or beautyfor example. To go back to my writer’s retreat, it is marketed towards women and will beheldin Costa Rica from February 3rd to the10th, in 2015. I tooktwo things that I am known for, writing and travel and combined them together. 4. Lastly, maybe you’vethought ofideas for your products, but remember to always cultivatethe creative energy that allowsyou to buildthese services or products. That means making timefor writing or painting or designing. Here’s thewebsite for Creative Revolution Retreats and as youcan see we’ve created a themeof renewal and rebirth. We’ve just started marketing it and will bepushing it out further to our networks. [SLIDE: CREATIVE REVOLUTION RETREATS] So, I left out social mediain here, because I’m going to assume every one of you has a socialmedia profile.My only tip here is, make it easy for your customers to reach you, Facebookcan increase your exposure by20% as long as you are posting regularly and engaging with your audience directly. Post at least once a dayand engage your audience. Ask themtheir opinion.Peoplewant to be included in something. Latelythe buzz is Twitteris not as effective as it use to be, so find out what is and try to implement that. [SLIDE: FACEBOOK – HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS FIND YOU] Another thing is to find communities. This means communities outside of Twitterand Facebook.It could be photographysitesifyou are a photographeroran online writer’s support group, or even a business group.Collectives are another great way to buildblog power and alignyour values with otherentitiesthat have thesame values. Don’t ever dismiss live, human interactionseither. After all, it’shumans who relate to you and are interested in what yougive back to theworld. When I was in my hometownof Vancouver recently, a few ofmy fans wanted to meet me and I obliged them.One of them even gave me flowers. Thehuman touch matters. [SLIDE: COMMUNITIES] I thinka final note that someone once said to me is make sure your blog designmeshes with your brand and your message. If your hire a usabilityexpert to analyze your site it’s worth it or spend money on a designer who is well versed in branding and marketing, If
  • 11. 11 theyaren’t, fire them. If you can’t spend that money, try to do as much research as you can on your own, it sounds likea lot of work, but once youhave something up and running, youcan ease off thebrakes. However, likeI said earlier, know youstrengths. It’s a waste of time when you couldconcentrate on things that matter. [SLIDE: BLOG DESIGN] So now that we’ve focused on your creative vision a bit and how to leverage your creative brand, what can be daunting for creative peopleis keeping thosecreative juices alive. It can be challenging with such busy lives, but try to keep these tips in mind: 1. Use your senses. Creativityis about thesenses, which is howwe come up with fresh ideas. So take yourself away from your work space for a goodhouror two a dayand just let thesights, sounds, smells and textures takeover – dialdown thebrain activityby going for a walk, reading or watching thebirds outsideyour window. Ultimately,thebest cure for any creative blockis being in nature, whetherit’s your backyardor a park. Creative peoplecatch thoselittledetailsin life that we then recapture in our work. As adultsthat second sight is beat out of us and we are taught to rely on therationalor scientific, which is sad in my book, because it’s important to playand dream. 2. Sometimes inspirationcomes from outside ourcraft. Writers particularly,get caught up in the blackand whiteworld of worlds. Listen to music, watch films, read snippets of prose or poems. Even having a stimulating conversation all goes towardthecreative pool. 3. Incubate your ideas. Keep a central placefor five to 10 ideas you haven’t developed yet.I use Evernote frequently for this, as well as Scrivener – a writing software program. There’s no right way to store theseideas. Use a folderon your computer or a physicalnotebook. Afterthose ideashave hadtime to sit, takesome of thoseideas and develop them. After that,stickwith theones that haunt you, I callthose ideasthe clingers. Theycling to your insides and don’t let you go. My final word on creative fire is that I don’t believein writer’s blockbecause even when I’m not writing, inputs are always coming to me. I thinkeverybody’screative energy needs recharging.And it’sin those recharging moments that we panic and think – oh god,I will never paint, draw, or write anything ofuse ever again. Not true! Creativity is a bit likecoffee it needs to percolateat times. Wow, does time go fast! I want to thank youfor coming to thissession today.
  • 12. 12 If you ever have questions about thissession or anything related to NomadicChick or Creative Revolution Retreats, please feelpick up a card on your way out or emailme. I am always eager to talkto people.  [SLIDE: MY LOGO/CRLOGO AND MY EMAIL] Anyway, beforewe beginthe question session, I always liketo end with a quote: “Doing what youlove means to discover your dharma, the path you were meant to walk upon. We may lose our way or lose faith, but cling to one truism: it is your sacred duty to bring forth what is in you.” [SLIDE: DOING WHAT YOU LOVE] So, I urge you to go out and create, be fearless with it and unwavering. Thankyou for joining and listening today! [FINAL SLIDE: THANK YOU ANDGOODBYE] I thinkwe have 15 minutes for questions, so I’ll stop blathering and open it up to any questions. [END OF SPEECH]
  • 13. 13 Free RelaxationScript: TheCreative Space The purposeof theCreative Spaceis for you to imagineyour own safe, creative place. This placewill be an imaginary area that youcan visualize to help give clarityand calm your mind. Find a comfortableposition.Put down your notebookandpen for a moment. Rest your hands in your lap gently. Try to close your eyes with me and just try to let go of thesounds outsidethetent and thinkabout being here and now. Feelthe skin of our hands, thefabric of your pants or skirt. Or your bodyonthe seat. For thenext few moments, focus on calming your mind by focusing on your breathing. Allow your breathing to center and relax you. Breathein.... and out. BreatheIn..... Breatheout..... In.... Out..... Continue to breatheslowly and peacefullyas you allowthetension to start to leave your body. Release theareas oftension, feeling your muscles relax and become more comfortable with each breath. Continue to let your breathing relax you.... Breathein....2...3...4.... ....2.....3...... out Breathein ...2...3....4...... Breath out 2.....3....4.... Breathein ....2....3.... and then out again...2...3....4.... 5 Continue to breatheslowly, gently,comfortably..... Let therate of your breathing becomegraduallyslower as your bodyrelaxes. Now begin to create a picture in your mind of a placewhere youcan completelycreate. Imagine what this placeneeds to be likein order for youto feel calm and relaxed.
  • 14. 14 Start with thephysicallayout ofthe placeyouare imagining..... where is this place?You might envision somewhere outdoors.... or indoors..... it may be a small placeor large one..... create an imageof thisplace. (pause) Now picture some more detailsabout your creative space. What are youpicking up in your hand to begin?Feel thetextures. Is it soft? Rough?Could it bea paint brush? The squareness of a keyboardkey?Thefeel of paperbeneath your fingers. Now that you have your tools,imagine what you are creating. Nobodyis watching you. You are alone, free to do anything that fillsyour heart with happiness. Just you and your creative space. (pause) Imagine even more detailabout your surroundings. Focus now on therelaxing sounds around you in your creative space. Imagine thesensations of touch... including the temperature, any breeze that may be present, thesurface you are on.... imagine thedetailsof this calming placein your mind. Focus now on the sightsof your place - colors, shapes.... objects.... plants..... water..... allof the beautifulthingsthat make your placeenjoyable. Picture yourself in thispeaceful placeusing your tools.Imagine a feeling ofcalm..... of peace..... a placewhere you have no worries, cares, or concerns.... a placewhere you can simplyrejuvenate, relax, and enjoyjust creating. (pause) Enjoy your creative space for a few moments more. Memorize thesights, sounds, and sensations around you.
  • 15. 15 In theselast few moments of relaxation, create a picturein your mind that youwill return to the next time you need it.Picture yourself in your creative space. This moment you are imagining now, you can pictureagain thenext time you need to relax. File away your creative space in your mind, holdit in our precious hands. Know that you can openup your hands and see that space again. Turn your attentionbackto thepresent. Slowlyopenyour eyes and breathein. Then breatheout. Noticeyour surroundings as your bodyand mind return to theirusual level of alertness and wakefulness. Youare backhere, with us at Blogstock.
  • 16. 16 Mixed use.. show how I make my income?? YES. Showhow othersdo? Possibly. Let me ask you a question: Close your eyes. Remember when youwere a kid. You are 10 and theworld is big,largelyunknown, but kindof exciting. Textures feel amazing, bold,sometimes sticky or weird, don’t they? Now you are in your room, thisis your favourite placeon earth. Surrounding you are your toys. Tips for theCreative Juices 1. Find your surperpower. What is your biggest strength?That’syour indestructibleforce that nobodycan break down. 2.
  • 17. 17