Birthday Gifts To Myself

calendar page Lidancie Arts

Today’s the day!

Today I turn 41 years old, but honestly, I’ve already felt 41 for a while. This year I was fortunate enough to have my girls the weekend before my birthday and I’ve been essentially celebrating my birthday all weekend long. On Saturday, my mother treated my girls and I to birthday lunch at Olive Garden (one of my favorite restaurants) and then we spent the rest of the day just relaxing at my mom’s house in the lovely weather. As a continued celebration of my birthday yesterday, I took my girls to see the new Star Wars movie, Solo, and treated us all to overpriced movie theater snacks. We all enjoyed the movie and then went to ice cream afterwards.

I’m quite sure I’ve never celebrated my birthday over more than one day, so I’ve been enjoying this unusual treat this year. For me, the best gifts are spending time with my girls and family, having good friends, and being able to do what makes me happy. If I need material items, I can just buy them for myself, so wrapped gifts aren’t really necessary anymore. Thus far, 41 is off to a really good start!

As I continue to celebrate my birthday today on the actual day I was born, I decided to give myself a very important gift. This year’s birthday gift to myself is that I will spend the entire day while the girls are at school writing. Writing future blog posts, writing in my Warcraft fan fiction, writing outlines for future stories, whatever I want!

When I was a teenager, I promised myself I’d be a published author by the time I was 30 years old. That deadline came and went without realizing that goal, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I do have one self-published Kindle book, but it’s non-fiction and while I think it’s a good story, my heart is really in fantasy fiction writing. I love that anything is possible when magic is involved and that type of freedom helps my writing go wherever it wants to take me. My muse is very much alive these days, but I have trouble making the time to let her out. Hence, today’s birthday gift of writing!

I think like any writer, I doubt my own abilities to tell something new and different in my own interesting style. However, as I’ve read in many inspirational writing quotes, although something might have been told many times before, it hasn’t been told by ME and with my voice. Therefore, I feel like I still have much to offer this world as an author. At my core, despite the many paying jobs I’ve had and have in my life, I am and have always been a writer. The universe gave me this crazy imagination for a reason and today I’m going to channel it into my keyboard and onto pages and pages of new adventures!

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Shyness and Marketing Don’t Mix

Lidancie Arts

Shameless self-promotion 😉

When making a living as a freelance writer and jewelry business owner, one can’t be shy. It’s up to me to market myself across social networks. As someone who tends to be shy, that’s not always an easy thing. Regardless, writing content and creating jewelry and then hoping that people will stumble across it and buy it, wasn’t working.

Overcoming the fear of being a pest

The hardest part about marketing myself online is convincing myself that I’m not being a pest. I’ve read countless articles about how to do online marketing and I’ve even taken a marketing class from SNHU, but the idea of shoving my posts in the faces of my followers every few hours on a daily basis makes me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t want to come off as an annoying salesperson and irritate my followers to the point where they stop following me. However, an important way to show a larger online audience my writing and jewelry is to promote it continually on social media. Although I was afraid I’d lose followers, I’ve actually gained quite a few new followers on Twitter since I started my online marketing efforts. I have also sold several articles posted on Constant Content. I find this motivating, surprising, and reassuring. Another vital way of growing my audience is by creating interesting and engaging blog posts. To that end, I will be posting here far more often.

Brand consistency

One of the many things I’ve learned from reading about online marketing is the importance of brand consistency. I admit that I didn’t really have that until recently. I had an Etsy shop that kept changing names, a blog that was called “Rambling Julie”, a Facebook page that changed names as often as the Etsy shop and a pseudonym that had nothing to do with any of those things. To solve that whole messy situation, I knew I had to come up with a name I could use for my writing, jewelry, and social media platforms. That’s why I came up with Lidancie Arts. For more information on the origin of that name, you can read “A Much Needed Name Change.”

To keep that consistent flow going, I’ve changed the name of this blog from “Rambling Julie” aka “JulieAnn’s Voice” to Lidancie Arts. I was even clever enough to redirect traffic from my old WordPress blog to this site. I think I’m getting better at this marketing stuff…

Using bitly and Hootsuite

I’ve done some casual online marketing of my writing and jewelry in the past, but it was infrequent and ineffective. A few weeks ago, I decided it was past time I change that and fully engage in marketing myself online. To that end, I created bitly links to all of my jewelry listings and my writer profile. I then started using Hootsuite to write and schedule posts throughout the day that includes those bitly links. I use Hootsuite’s bulk message uploader, which requires using Excel to set up a spreadsheet of posts and then upload that file to Hootsuite. I could write the posts in Hootsuite if I wanted to, but I’ve found the Excel spreadsheet approach easier.

Writing every post

I start every day by opening Excel and modifying the previous day’s spreadsheet for a new day of posts. I re-use some posts and tweak a few things here and there, or I write entirely new posts. My point is that I write every single post that appears on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. I’m not paying anyone else to do it because that’s just not who I am. Even if I could pay some marketing firm to handle my social media marketing, I wouldn’t do it. I am the creator of my writing and my jewelry and I know my work better than anyone else does. I feel it’s only right that I take personal responsibility for marketing my own creations.

What exactly I’m “selling”

If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you probably know by now that I’m a freelance writer and jewelry designer/creator. I feel I should elaborate on both of those elements because tweets and status updates can only convey so much.

Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, I’m currently working primarily for a site called Constant Content. This is an online content marketplace selling articles on a variety of topics. I write about interior design, landscaping, fitness, real estate, and much more. I write and post several new articles weekly and you can find them listed toward the bottom of my author profile. When I promote my freelance writing across social media, the bitly link at the end of the post leads to my Constant Content author profile, Lidancie Arts. I felt I should tell you that so you know exactly what you’re clicking on. I’m personally wary of clicking on unknown links so I understand if you are as well.

Buy Articles at Constant-ContentOriginal Articles. Constant-Content.

Jewelry Designer/Creator

I have been designing and creating handmade beaded jewelry for several years. I started my Etsy shop shortly after I began stringing beads together to make dangle earrings. My Etsy shop has undergone a few name changes but it’s now and will forever be LidancieArts, as it’s a team effort by my two daughters and myself. I hope to eventually include clay creations by my oldest daughter. She’s the “Dan” in Lidancie.

As the “Li” in Lidancie Arts, I am a self-taught jewelry maker. I learned everything I know from books, websites, YouTube videos, and experimentation. I make dangle earrings, post earrings, pendants, necklaces, and brooches.

I discovered my Native American ancestry a few years’ ago and have been exploring the raised beadwork of my Onondaga heritage ever since. There are countless Native American beaders that I admire and who grew up learning beadwork from their family members and they inspire me to continue exploring the craft.

I carefully bead all of my jewelry and they’re all my own original designs. I recently started using the two-needle beading technique and it has reinforced the quality of my beadwork. There have been times when I’ve had to take my completed creations apart and I can assure you that they’re very well made! Taking them apart is no easy feat, which speaks to my dedication to creating quality pieces.

Any link in my social media posts regarding my jewelry leads directly to the shop or the item/section advertised. Most social media outlets also show a picture of the item in question so you know exactly what you’re clicking on. I am always happy and willing to create custom pieces featuring desired designs, bead colors, gems, etc.

Why I do what I do

The fact is, to succeed as a freelance writer and jewelry designer/creator, I have to sell my creations. I’m a single mother, these two jobs are my primary sources of income, and so I must market myself. I quit my job as a secretary/receptionist in July of 2013 and I quickly discovered just how much work it is being self-employed. I’ve had high and low moments and sometimes it feels like a constant struggle, but it’s all worth it because I did it to have more time with my two daughters. Working from home means I can run down to school if they need something (I only live three minutes away) and that I don’t have to find babysitters for them during their school breaks. I get them on the bus every morning and pick them up from school when it’s my days to have them during the week. Children grow up far too fast and I cherish every moment I have with my daughters. Doing what I do has strengthened my relationship with my girls and made me a stronger person.

If this strong, independent woman has to shout from the hilltops on social media every day to make her dreams come true, then that’s exactly what she’ll do!

A Much Needed Name Change

lidancie-arts-logo

For some time now, I’ve felt the need to change my business name to something that better incorporates not just my creativity, but my daughters’ creativity as well. Moreover, I wouldn’t be who I am without my daughters because they inspire me and motivate me to be the best version of myself. Having more time with my daughters and being there for them more were the main reasons I quit my office job to work from home as a freelance writer and jewelry maker. Everything important in my life involves my girls and I wanted my business name to reflect that.

Changing the name from Corbin Creations by JulieAnn or just Corbin Creations in no way diminishes the role my father and my last name play in my life. My father’s spirit remains in my life and I’m forever proud to have Corbin as my last name. Nonetheless, I’d started to feel like the name sounded more like I was creating Corbins. While I did give birth to two daughters, their last name isn’t Corbin. The other version of a Corbin is a sharp-bladed weapon and I definitely don’t make those. It was time for a change.

It took quite a bit of brainstorming before I arrived at the idea of creating a name that incorporated some part of my name and each of my daughter’s names. I typed all of our names out and combined them in different ways until I came up with Lidancie. It takes “Li” from my name of Julie, “Dan” from Jordan, and “Cie” from Jaycie. I felt making all but the first letter lowercase made more sense than LiDanCie. I changed Creations to Arts because the girls and I dabble in various creative arts including beading, sewing, writing, painting and polymer clay work.

For now, you can find my beaded creations on LidancieArts on Etsy, but keep an eye out for new additions. I hope to start incorporating some of the creations made by my oldest daughter, Jordan, as she’s very talented with polymer clay and with a needle and thread. Jaycie enjoys painting and I’m going to see if she’s interested in painting some wooden inlays for my beaded earrings. We’re all good at different arts and they often overlap and blend in wondrous ways. I’m confident that Lidancie Arts and everything it represents will be around for a very long time!

When the Muse Strikes…

Nagrand in Outland screenshot by JulieAnn Corbin

This is where my new stories begin…

Many moons ago I was prolific fantasy novel writer. I’d spend hours writing away to create my fantasy characters, world and stories. Then life threw me one curveball after another and as I’ve never been good at sports, I threw in the towel and my muse went poof!

I’ve tried several times over the past few years to start writing again and I’ve had minimal success. It just didn’t come easy anymore and I became frustrated. Well I’m happy to report that the muse has finally struck again and she’s struck hard! The source of my muse surprised me somewhat and might not be the traditional inspiration method, but I’m not going to question it.

The inspiration for my latest bout of writing is the online game called World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing Warcraft on and off since The Burning Crusade expansion and the first time I played it, I was hooked. What hooked me were the beautiful settings, interesting quest stories, character appearances and of course, the ability to kick butt as a hunter, paladin, warrior, warlock, mage, druid, rogue, etc. I never played dungeons and dragons so this type of game playing was new to me and in many ways I’m still a “newb” but playing WoW is a great escape from reality at the end of a long workday.

A few months ago, I started wondering more about the characters I created and thinking up backstories for them in my head. I thought what if my blood elf paladin, warlock or hunter did this? What if they met up with this different race? What if this happened to them? Before I knew it, I had thought up several chapters’ worth of stories and I began writing the outline so I didn’t forget the details. My first story revolves around my paladin, my second around my warlock and my third around my hunter and as they’re all sisters, they’ll eventually all meet up and combine into a single storyline.

Warcraft hunter with moose pet by JulieAnn Corbin

My hunter and her moose pet.

 

Paladin warcraft by JulieAnn Corbin

My paladin looking fierce.

 

warlock with demon by JulieAnn corbin

My warlock, her demon and her floating skull “weapon.” You know there’s a story here!

Although some writers may see writing fanfiction about an online game “cheating” because all of the settings and history already exist, I don’t see it that way. I still plan on describing my scenes for those who don’t know Warcraft and giving background information on races. I want this to feel like a truly flushed out story with relatable characters so that even those who don’t play the game will understand. I’ve been playing these female characters in the game for years and as soon as I thought of the stories that involved male characters, I made some male characters for the first time ever. I must admit that playing a male character in the game is somewhat empowering as only I and very few others know that I’m a woman.

Warcraft hunters by JulieAnn Corbin

Some of my characters chatting it up.

 

Dk and and Pally by JulieAnn Corbin

A pair of my characters.

As with all my stories, these Warcraft based stories are filled with action, adventure, drama and romance. Best of all, whenever I need a bit more inspiration, I can hop on the game for a bit and have a new adventure the fuels future stories. The ability to actually step into the world of a book character is truly unique and apparently, exactly what I needed to get my muse back. Only Warcraft players will get this but…for Azeroth! 😉

Flipping Pages Down Memory Lane

Xmen comic books by JulieAnn Corbin

Some of my comic book collection.

When I was in middle school and high school, I collected and read comic books. The comic books I collected were mostly X-Men related and included Classic X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, X-Force, New Warriors and so on. The artwork, stories and characters drew me in and helped me escape the daily routine of being a teenager. Comic books also helped inspire my writing and gave me ideas for all sorts of magical characters.

The other day I decided to finally bring my boxes of comic books up from my basement. I knew exactly where they were as I’d looked through them a few times and I gathered all three heavy shoeboxes to carry them upstairs. I then brought them into my bedroom and spread them out on the floor space of my recently-tidied room to look them over. Looking through all those comic books, even just seeing the covers, brought back tons of memories and I felt like a teenager again. I could remember how I felt when I first read those comic books, where I was in my life, what my dreams were and so much more! I was flipping pages down memory lane and I felt girlishly giddy!

Looking through the comic books and feeling happy about everything I was reading and seeing opened my eyes to the truth. Even though some of my teen years were rough, those comic books didn’t make me think of those times, they just made me feel happy. They weren’t tainted by the ghosts of my past; they were reminders of an innocence that still lives inside me. Although I don’t have mutant powers like the X-Men and all their spinoff teams, I do have my own form of superpowers and they’ve gotten me through a lot in my life. I’m in a really good place in my life right now and I’m learning that some parts of the past can remain in the past and don’t have the power to hurt me anymore.

As I tucked the boxes of comic books under my bed last night, I smiled as I thought about how much my oldest daughter will enjoy reading them. She can make her own memories with them and find her own inspiration for her writing and artwork. What we gain from comic books may be different but loving them is a tie that binds.

Batty for Beading

Halloween beaded bat earrings by JulieAnn CorbinBeaded bat earrings available in my CorbinCreations1 Etsy shop

Halloween decorations fill the stores this time of year and I love to see all the spooky cats, witches, owls, haunted houses and of course, bats. I love bats, black cats, the moon and witchcraft-like magic year-round but October is when everyone else seems to love it too.

In the continued spirit of embracing October and Halloween especially, I’ve been working on beaded Halloween earrings all this week. I actually started last week with some prototype beaded bat earrings that came out quite cute.

Just like every new pair of earrings I make in a different style that I haven’t quite mastered, I learned several things while making the beaded bat earrings. As every beader knows, a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into every beaded creation. The blood comes from repeatedly poking fingers and thumbs with sharp beading needles. The sweat (for me anyway) comes from trying to choose the right bead color combinations and materials. The tears sometimes come from the same thing that causes the blood and/or from periodic frustration when thread tangles, needles break and beads go scattering.

The final version of the bead embroidery bat earrings I designed and made feature a central acrylic jet black bead, size 15 seed beads, larger beads for the eyes and bicone crystals for the ears. Although I drew the design for the prototype earrings on the felt, I eyeballed the beading design for the finished bats to avoid any visible lines on the black felt. To keep the earrings light, I backed them with black Ultrasuede, which is a high-quality faux suede. I have several types of black leather and suede, but their thickness would make the earrings overly heavy so I chose the faux suede. Black metal hooks seemed the logical choice and overall, I love how they turned out!

Now I’m just waiting for the right person to adopt these adorable bat earrings and proudly wear them this Halloween season. I made some Halloween-themed beaded round earrings that sold this past Sunday and just completed a pair of beaded witch shows yesterday, which sold quite fast! If you like either of these styles, drop me a note and I’ll happily make you a pair!

Halloween earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Rounds of Halloween earrings sold 10/2/16.

witch shoe earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Halloween Witch Shoes earrings sold 10/5/16

I also made some adorable witch hat earrings that are available in my shop. I’ve been wearing a pair of them with the bats (I have three earring holes in each ear) and I must say, I feel very in the Halloween spirit!

I’m continuing to work on more Halloween earrings as I embrace and welcome October and every delightfully spooky detail!

A Creative Legacy

Corbin Creations by JulieAnn Corbin logo

Corbin is more than just my last name; it’s my bond to a creative legacy. The name Corbin is synonymous with creativity. There was Corbin Clockworks that my father often spoke of (and to which I think I’m only a very distant relation) and Corbin motorcycle seats. I owned a Corbin seat on the motorcycle I used to own and I found it comfortable and very well made. I’m sure there are many other Corbin owned and named businesses out there and I hope they all utilize their own type of the creativity that I have also been gifted with.

When I was choosing a name for my website many years ago, I decided to go with Corbin Creations because I wanted to honor the family name of my father, my maiden name that I fought hard to regain after my divorce. My father, Robert Corbin, was the best man I ever knew and whom I miss every single day. My father was very intelligent and loved working with his hands. He was an engineer at Xerox for his main job, but his other passion was woodworking. He made beautiful, durable things with wood that ranged in size from large decks on our house to small wooden puzzles. My family and I would often say that my father’s wooden creations would outlast everything and in many cases, that proved true.

I hope one day to live up to the greatness of my father and I work every day toward that by utilizing my creativity. I felt the name Corbin Creations covered my various creative outlets including writing, painting, knitting, crocheting and most prominent of late, jewelry designing and creating. My Facebook page was originally Corbin Creations just like my website but I changed it to “Corbin Creations by JulieAnn” a couple years ago to make it a bit more personal. I will be keeping my website CorbinCreations.com though because I’ve bought the domain name and I’m rather attached to it.

For the past few years, I’ve had a store on Etsy that I called CorbinGirl. I recently changed it to CorbinCreations1 (CorbinCreations was taken) on Etsy and changed my account name on social media platforms to keep things more consistent. Although I had great success when I first started selling my jewelry on Etsy and received all positive reviews from customers, it seems impossible to gain new customers on that platform now.

I’m not a quitter though, never have been and never will be so I decided to create my own online store on Corbin Creations website. I use Weebly for that site and I’ve found their e-commerce tools easy to work with and quite helpful for my Corbin Creations by JulieAnn online store. I spent the last several days taking pictures of my jewelry, creating unique names, and writing informative descriptions for my store and it now contains an adequate representation of my diverse styles of beading. I will be donating a portion of whatever profits I make to organizations I support including The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, the shelters I adopted my pets from and other animal rescue sites.

Crimson Cascade earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Crimson Cascade earrings

Summer Fireworks Set by JulieAnn Corbin

Summer Fireworks Set

My store, Corbin Creations by JulieAnn is now live and ships to the United States, Canada, and select other countries. I will eventually ship worldwide once I work out a few more details. I will continue to add products to my store, adjust things as needed and throw myself into marketing. As part of that marketing, I’ve created a blog on that site called Practice, Patience and Persistence, dedicated strictly to my beading and jewelry making. I feel it would be too confusing to write about that on this site that I use mainly for sharing my rambling tales of daily life. Beading is part of my daily life but it’s also a world unto itself and deserves dedicated attention.

Feel free to check out my shop, ask me questions and if you decide to buy something, thank you! This is just the start of another great chapter in my life and I’m confident I can make my dream of having a successful jewelry business a reality!