making money and giving things away

I don't have a business because I want to make money.
I have a business because I want to help people.
In order to help more people my business needs to make money.
And so I charge for the work I do...
Except when I don't.

This month I'll be opening enrollment for my course.
People will pay me for the work I put in,
but that isn't the only reason I charge for it.
Paying will also help motivate participants
to actually finish the course.

Still, I understand that many creative freelancers
— especially young people starting out —
simply don't have the money to invest right now.
I still want to help them.
So I'm giving away a scholarship!

Tell me about what drives you or someone you know
to work to make a living from your creativity.
I'll send you a free guide to help you start getting great clients.
Nominate yourself and your friends
by clicking over to {the giveaway page}.

how I'm getting back on track after life got crazy

Sometimes life doesn't go as planned and a single life event can throw things off-kilter for weeks.

I didn't plan to give birth in February but my sweet Beyla came two whole weeks after her January due date. The first quarter of my year has been crazy, but with important deadlines and events coming up I knew I had to get back on track as soon after the birth as I could.

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I started with a single page brain-dump of everything I needed to do. I kept this as a running list through the end of March, adding to it anytime something came to mind. My brain was like a sieve surrounding the birth—what am I saying? It still is!—so if I didn't write it down it was lost to me. Likewise when I had a few moments free I wouldn't have known what to work on without the list.

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I had too much clutter in my mental and physical space following the birth, so I needed my overview for the month of March to be as sparse as possible. I decided on a layout inspired by @minimal.paper on Instagram.

Having the whole month on one spread helps me to get my bearings and picture what life looks like in context. This layout focuses on that and removes everything else. Even the numbers are subtle and the header with the days of the week is minimal.

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Finally, I'm returning to my writing habit. As I process this new thing called motherhood my musings go into one journal and business writing goes into the other.

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The number-one thing that is helping me to get my life back on track is writing.

Putting pen to paper makes the scrambled elements of my life tangible and helps me to get a handle on them. Once something appears in writing I can decide whether it is actually important or not. I can keep track of the things that I do deem important, but without trying to hold them in my memory until the relevant moment. Beyond my to-do list, I can use journaling to untangle the thoughts and emotions swirling inside me after a life-changing experience.

This is why I write: because I'm lost if I don't.

three keys to maintaining motivation

it’s too easy to become demotivated

In fact, I’m not motivated to write this right now.

We all hit dry spells,
times when our inspiration is weak
and motivation is low.

How to get out of the funk?

Or better yet,
how to prevent falling into it in the first place?

~ try something new

A change of place or a change of pace
can help you to find a new perspective.

Try a new
… tool
… material
… color
… medium
… technique

Step out of your comfort zone and do something for fun.

Take your project to a new place,
or change up your surroundings in another way;
play music or introduce a sweet scent.

Do something to change your perspective
and trigger your creativity.

Don’t limit your experimentation
to demotivated days.

Keeping yourself motivated
is easier than getting yourself motivated.

Inject variety into your habits.
Change things up regularly to head off boredom.
Find ways to make the mundane new and different.

~ surround yourself with other creatives

It’s more difficult to be idle
when you’re surrounded by activity.

It’s easy to be inspired
when the people around you are creating.

Surround yourself with creatives;
you will feed off of their energy,
and feed them energy.

If you aren’t in community already,
find a way to join one;
find a way to grow one.

Tell the people around you about your project.
Talk about what is making you feel stuck,
but more than that,
tell them why you began in the first place.
Talking about your passion will help to reignite it.

~ show up every day

Mostly, though, maintaining motivation is a discipline.

Sitting down to work is the first and most difficult step
toward accomplishing anything.

It is also the most effective way to awaken motivation.

Do not ask yourself whether or not
you will work on your project today.
Establish it as a habit;
don’t think about it - do it!

Remove the decision from the equation
and choose to show up even before it comes time to show up.

Some days you will feel more motivated than others,
but as you build the habit,
you’ll find that you don’t need to worry about feeling motivated,
you will simply be motivated.

I showed up today

I opened this document
and laid down an outline.

Still, I felt uninspired and unmotivated.

That is, until I filled in
the other elements of the trifecta
that I have described here.

I tried something new,
playing music that is very different
from my usual writing playlist.

I surrounded myself with other creatives,
and as a result, one of them issued a random challenge
that motivated me to write what you are reading now.

That challenge goes beyond this one article.
The discipline transcends a single writing session.

And so, I will not only be writing every day
(I have already established that habit);
I will also be publishing every day.

From now until July 1,
when I release the {classic wrap skirt} book for sale,
I will publish a new blog post every day.

I must, after all, practice what I preach.

whip stitch

Begin with:

— a threaded needle and knotted thread
{click here to learn how to get that far}

— a 6” by 12” piece of light, crisp fabric
{preferably the one you used for this exercise}

— a feeling of confident anticipation
{because by the end of today, you’ll know the whip stitch!}

Take your swatch and - one at a time - fold each long edge over about 1/2”.
Press with a hot iron (set to a temperature that suits your fabric).

Note
“Pressing” and “ironing” are two different things!
Ironing means sliding the iron over the fabric.
Pressing is setting the iron down and holding it for a moment,
then lifting it straight up, moving it to a new area of fabric, and setting it down again.
“Ironing” may stretch and warp the fabric,
so generally, pressing is my preferred method.

Once your swatch is well-pressed
fold it in half like a hamburger (not a hotdog).

The “right side” - the side you want to be on the outside of the bag -
should be on the inside when your fabric is folded.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention - we are making bag out of this swatch!
Now, on with the instructions.

Insert your needle through both folds very close to the edge,
beginning where your running stitches are.

Pull the needle through, then, to make your next stitch,
insert your needle through both folds again, slightly to the left of your first stitch.

Now, this is the important detail not to miss:
always insert the needle in the same direction.

You’ll know if you’ve done it right when you pull the needle through and tighten the thread.
The thread should loop around the folded edges as shown in the photos.

Continue stitching until you get to the corner,
then tie a knot like you did when you learned the running stitch.

Here are the instructions again, with different photos,
so that you get a different perspective on the same knot:

Take one more little stitch,
but don't pull the thread all the way through.

Twist the loop of thread you've made
into a figure-8.

Insert your needle through each of the two loops
formed by the figure-8 of thread.

Gently pull the long tail of thread
to tighten the figure-8 around the needle.

Finally, pull the needle all the way through.
There! You've made your knot!

It's now safe to snip the thread -
just not too close to the knot, or the end will slip back through.

Excellent job!
Take a deep breath and smile at what you've accomplished.

Now, do it all again on the other side.
Once that’s done, turn your little bag right-side-out and admire your work!

This tutorial is an excerpt from a free eBook with start-to-finish instructions for creating a little bag. Enter your email below and I'll send it to you too!

running stitch

The running stitch
is the beginning of a journey.
Once learned
it will open up a world of possibilities…

Begin with:

— a threaded needle and knotted thread
{click here to learn how to get that far}

— a 6” by 12” piece of light, crisp fabric
{cotton or linen will do nicely}

— a feeling of confident anticipation
{because by the end of today, you’ll know how to stitch!}

Holding the fabric so that it's tall (not wide),
insert the needle from back to front 1/2” away from the upper-right corner.

Pull the thread all the way though, until the knot catches,
so that the thread is anchored in the fabric with the knot hidden on the backside of the work.

Insert the needle front to back just to the left of where you’ve anchored your thread.
This time, don’t pull the needle all the way through, but push the tip back up through the fabric.

Once the tip of the needle has poked through, push it back down through the fabric.
Repeat this rocking motion until you have a few stitches on the needle…

...then pull the needle
all the way through.

Now you know the running stitch - simple!
Not exactly easy yet, but it will be soon - with practice!

Speaking of practice...
I told you to use a piece of fabric of a certain size on purpose.

If you continue to follow along in this simple-sewing-series,
at the end you will have a finished project!

A finished project is always nicer
than a simple practice swatch, don't you think?

So, continue stitching
across the short edge of the fabric.

Once you're at the end you'll want to tie another knot.
A different sort of knot than before.

To do so, take one more little stitch,
but don't pull the thread all the way through.

Take the loop of thread you've made
and twist it into a figure-8.

Insert your needle through each of the two loops
formed by the figure-8 of thread.

Gently pull the long tail of thread
to tighten the figure-8 around the needle.

Finally, pull the needle all the way through.
There! You've made your knot!

It's now safe to snip the thread -
just not too close to the knot, or the end with slip back through.

Excellent job!
Take a deep breath and admire your work!

This tutorial is an excerpt from a free eBook with start-to-finish instructions for creating a little bag. Enter your email below and I'll send it to you too!