10.09.2011

State of the Meg


I know, another new column! This one has a very specific direction and topic. It's about business, sharing tools with each other, helpful tips, and accountability. When I was brainstorming ideas for my opinion column, that is more of an editor's letter column called Coffee Talk, the State of the Meg name came up on that list, but I feel like it fits better with this topic versus an opinion column. State of the Meg is a play on the State of the Union address (that was obvious, right?). This column will be more frequent than the annual State of the Union, and will be a dialogue versus just an address to "the people" but I thought the name was funny and fitting. If you come to MIMI+MEG for eye candy and inspiration, don't worry, that's not going anywhere. If this column is boring to you, feel free to skip it, and know that none of my regular content will go away.

One problem I have is not taking my own advice. I wouldn't say that I'm terrible at it by any means, I'm actually pretty good in comparison to most people, but my standards for myself are very high, and when I'm giving advice to friends (usually about blogging or business, and I'm typically saying things like, don't be scared just go for it!), sometimes it's also advice I need to put into action myself. Focus was one of my main issues, whether it be that I was too focused on one thing (that I ended up realizing later was not a business I wanted to be in), or couldn't focus because I had too many things I wanted to do, it was an issue. I have wrestled with it and am getting so much better now. I believe I finally have created a business that will generate income quickly and for the long-run, it combines my talents and passions, and won't require me personally to constantly to keep it going in the future. Hello, that's my perfect job! I'm working on it, and will of course let you know when it's ready. My goal is to have the actual sites (yep, 2 of them) up and running before December. If they aren't up by the holidays, I'll be disappointed in myself. So hold me to it!

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky 
I read a book recently that was amazing at helping me get organized with my ideas and thoughts. It was like the author, Scott Belsky, crawled into my brain and was telling me how my brain worked. If you are a creative person that even has a mild issue with organizing all of your ideas and deciding which ones you should pursue first, read Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky.

So how does this column benefit you besides maybe some motivation or inspiration with your own ideas and businesses?

Well, yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mine that, like me, also went from a nice salaried position to freelancing in the past year. She and her business partner are very talented, so I know they will be successful in their venture, but we started talking about certain things we were each dealing with in our businesses. When we used to work at together at a large creative company, there were always people around who knew all the newest, easiest ways to do things. If you had any type of question, there was always someone with the answer. Now that we are more on our own, it takes a lot more effort and time to find the right solutions.

We started talking about how we should have monthly meetings about all the things that are working or not working for us, that way we could help each other become more efficient and find the right solutions for our businesses. I think that in person or meetings like that via skype or phone is a great idea! I was already in the process of starting this column, so I thought I'd get out what I learn here and use this as a forum for you to share what does and doesn't work for you in blogging, business, or even just life!

One tip that I've started using that I want to share with you all is how I keep track of billing hours for clients. I have a separate folder for each of my clients with any information they give me or paperwork I need for them. I have also printed off a monthly calendar for each of them (clearly labeled at the top). I write down my time for my clients each day, usually with a little description of what I worked on, for example if we had a meeting about their blog, I'd write Meeting/Blog, or something to that effect. Since I am using this for my reference when sending invoices, having a separate calendar for each client helps me track and analyze my time for each client. I made a calendar that you can download from my flickr and fill out with the month, client, and dates. Click to get it here.

Since I currently have two blogs of my own and a few for clients, I had to get my own blog posts more organized. I decided to buy a monthly planner where I write down the posts I'm planning on doing, and I highlight them when I'm done with them. If you have more than one blog, you can visually separate the posts in your calendar by the color of ink you write them in, or draw a line between them, or what I do is write the MIMI+MEG blog posts at the top of the box, and the Stella & Henry posts at the bottom, and just keep that consistent. You can also hang a white board calendar in your office or near your computer that is a dedicated blog calendar to write your posts on.

So a quick recap of the tools/ideas in this column today are:
1. Read Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
2. Monthly Calendar (sheet to print) for keeping track of hours for clients
3. Monthly Planner or Monthly White Board Calendar to plan your blog posts

Also in each column I'm going to list a few sites that I think are either inspiring or great sources of information. Today's are:

The 99 Percent: It's not about ideas. It's about making them happen. (Great slogan, right!)
Makeunder My Life by Jess Constable: Jess has been really successful in starting her jewelry and accessories business, and her blog is full of inspiring stories and tips on how she does it all. She is honest and helpful. (Did you see her Fall Faves earlier this week?)
Entrepreneuress Academy: Empowering women to start successful businesses online. This is a membership site. Try it out for a week for less than $5 and see if it's a good tool for you.

I'm a believer in helping others, sharing resources when possible, and talking about business, struggles, and anything that we can do to help each other succeed. There is room for all of us to be successful, so let's help each other get there. (And take down the guys! Just kidding, not really, a little, channeling Kristin Wigg here.) In all seriousness, women should definitely be getting paid the same as men in the same or equal jobs, and the fact that women don't in many cases is just plain bullshit. Ladies, ask for raises and equal salaries to your male colleagues. All your boss can do is say no. That could be an entire column, so I'll stop there.

Please share your ideas, what works for you with your business or blogs, books you've read, and any other info you'd like to share so we can all learn from each other in the comments below!

16 comments:

Jenny Muslin said...

Looking forward to reading Belsky's book. Thanks for the suggestion. Now following your blog. Please check out mine at Muzz Haves
Best,
Jenny

Happy Cactus Designs said...

So happy to see your post! I recently launched a paper goods company (www.happycactusdesigns.com) and run my own little blog (www.curatedbycolor.com) so I'm always juggling multiple tasks. I live by my calendar as well as Google Docs to create docs and spreadsheets I can share with others. I've also found LinkedIn groups to be really helpful for discussion, resources, and networking as well. There's a group for practically every industry out there. The 99 Percent is an awesome site; I also read Inc.com, which has great columns and interviews.
One other thing that I've been trying to do is to write down what I've accomplished at the end of each day, no matter how big or small. It's a great way to keep track of my progress and see my projects grow.

Karlita said...

Great post Meg! I am definitely reading that book. In an Excel sheet I write my series and in another column I write my ideas.. When the ideas column is empty or I don't really feel like writing of any of that I turn to my series in which I always feel safe... but the posts I have loved the most were the unexpected ones..

Gabrielle said...

Meg I loved that column, and I'm sure we will all be able to learn a lot from it! The book is now on my Amazon wishlist.

I do keep a calendar for my blog posts. I use a Google calendar which works quite well since I can suffle posts around easily if plans change.

I love Karlita's idea of having an ideas column and a series column. She is right. Sometimes the best posts are the unexpected ones!

Congrats again on a beautiful column and looking forward to the next! X

sweetandspark said...

Have you ever read Seth Godin's daily blog or any of his books? Highly, highly recommend- he totally changed my perspective on life! Thanks for the recommendation to read Making Idea Happen, downloaded it on my kindle this morning. And since I have today off for the holiday weekend, I plan to post up at a coffee shop and read.

xx-
Jillian
http://www.sweetandspark.com

Maren said...

I am an interior designer and about a year ago several other designers and I decided to meet once a month to discuess business challenges, resources, etc. Our business can be one of closed doors (i.e.," I'm not letting you know who my painter is"), and it has been a HUGE help to all of us to meet in a collaborate environment and help each other. As you said, there is enough business for us all, even in a shaky economy! We all have different talents, aethetics and personalities, which all different clients need.
I have to confess that I bought that book about 6 months ago and it has sat on my bookshelf since (so much for making THAT idea happen)... but you reinspired me to pick it up and see what it is all about.
Thanks, and I look forward to this column in the future!

Mae said...

Wow, this is so inspiring and helpful! Thank you. I'm really looking forward to this series. As a woman entrepreneur, I'm always interested in hearing others stories and I absolutely agree, we must suppport each other.
Thanks again!
xx

Miya @ Design Indulgences said...

Love the suggested idea about writing down accomplishments per day or week.That's enough to keep one motivated and not knock ourselves down so much when things don't seem to progress as we feel they should.

I have not started writing my blog posts yet however I live by post its and to do notes. I keep pen/paper on me at all times and always write down ideas or things on a whim. Sometimes, uh...most times I have to combine things on my lists so I'm not bombarded with too many flying out of my purse but it helps get me organized. I DO however need to write on an actual calendar the topics for my blog.

jessie @ the concrete catwalk said...

LOOOOOVE that book! excited for this new column of yours, and can't wait to share thoughts/tips/ideas with fellow bloggers.

so happy to have you as a friend and sounding board! XOXO

Fashalina aka The Hyperbalist said...

Megannnn I loooooooved this post! Such helpful stuff, and I laughed out loud at the Kristen Wigg moment. haha she is my FAVE. Can't wait for more of these columns! And I am totally getting the 'making ideas happen' book. Thank you! xx

That's Moi! said...

So happy that I stumbled onto your blog. I'm definitely going to pick up the book. I can completely relate. So many ideas and you feel stuck in quicksand because you don't know where to start. I should practice what I preach - like you...I can give great advice. Now I just need to give myself some. I have a little blog that I started - www.heycaryl.blogspot.com as my creative outlet. During the day - I own an events company and blog there too. www.roarevents.com/blog. Can't wait to come back and read more insights. ~Caryl

Karyn said...

It's so nice of you to reach out and share what works for you. Thank you. I am looking forward to these posts.

Tina said...

I completely agree with Karyn. I don't remember how I found your blog but have been impressed with how you consistently come up with original and creative ideas for both of your blogs. You have great taste!

I feel like I have lots of creativity and a passion for fashion but have never had any ideas on how to incorporate those into a business. None of my jobs (I live in KC) have involved my interests. I just read magazines & blogs and play on Pinterest :-).

I admire you for channeling your passions into blogs and businesses, and also for having the creativity and talent to create art. I wish I could find a place to channel my energy.

Megan (MIMI+MEG) said...

Tina, thanks for your kind words! I don't know what it is in me, but I can't stop myself from my goal... working for myself doing what I love. I hope that for everyone! And I think it's great if you like your job and use your free time to read blogs, etc. You still get to enjoy creativity but don't have the pressure like many of us creative/artist types have.

Nicole said...

Hi Meg and Mimi!

I just came across your blog today and absolutely love it. The colors and energy and voice of your blog is so warm.

And I was really excited to see you post about Scott Belsky's book as I just posted about that (along with Todd Henry's "The Accidental Creative" today. Both are such incredible reads!

Nicole

Karyn said...

Thank you!

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