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!

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A Day of Independence

Woman wearing dory shirt by JulieAnn Corbin

My Dory shirt says “Keep Calm and Nope Lost It” 😉

As this isn’t my year to have my daughters on the 4th of July, I have a day of independence that I’m using to get work done. The girls and I already celebrated the holiday by going to my mom’s for dinner on Saturday and then standing out on my deck to watch the fireworks display from my neighbor two houses down. Nothing beats being able to stand outside in the dark in my pajamas on my own deck and see a stunning array of fireworks. I didn’t have to worry about parking or crowds and when the show was over, we could all just go to bed.

I’ve already accomplished two major tasks this morning because I wanted to beat the heat. I trimmed my front bushes (I call them my arch nemesis) without any major injury and then mowed the weeds down in my back yard. My grass hasn’t grown much due to lack of rain and that’s fine with me because I don’t like mowing, but the tall weeds were making it look a bit too much like a field. The front yard has a similar issue but not as bad, so it can wait for another day. It was already 80 degrees when I finished yard work at 11 a.m. and with very few clouds, it was getting hot fast.

wild front bushes by JulieAnn Corbin

My front bushes before trimming.

trimmed front bushes by JulieAnn Corbin

My front bushes after trimming.

lawn with weeds by JulieAnn Corbin

My not very green back yard with tall mystery “weeds”

lawn mowed by JulieAnn Corbin

My back yard mowed.

I’ve now showered to remove all of the bush trimmings and blown dirt and grass from my hair and body and I feel human again. I will be spending the rest of the day writing freelance so I have less to write when I have my daughters. It’s a challenge working from home in the summer because the girls groan when I say I have to write, but I do my best to limit the hours I work when I have them and I take breaks to spend time with them.

I hope that someday my daughters will understand that they’re the main reason I started working from home and realize that I did it to have more time with them. Stealing away a few hours every day to work in my bedroom while they play in the living room is far better than being away from them for an entire day working in an office toward someone else’s dreams. I’m doing my best to show them that it’s possible to have a job you love and not just survive as an independent woman, but also thrive and be happy.

Having the words but not the time

I planned on entering some sort of blog post every day this month, but that plan quickly unraveled as I found myself with insufficient time and energy to follow through. At the end of a day of work writing, I usually turn my computer off and have no desire to turn it back on. The words for personal blog posts and stories still rattle around in my head, but I just can’t face my computer screen after writing for work all day.

I tried posting some images from Pinterest just so I’d have something up every day, but that felt like a “cop out” to me and not enough to do my writing abilities justice. Re-blogging older posts felt like less of a failure, but even so I eventually had to admit defeat in my daily blog post quest.

Now that my girls are out of school, I have to rearrange my work schedule so I can get all my articles done without it interfering with my time with them. My girls are my world and they come first. I already regret not cherishing the time when they were babies enough, I refuse to look back with regret anymore wishing I’d spent more time with them.

If something existed that could type out the words in my head without me having to physically sit down at a keyboard then I’d be able to write stories every time I daydream. Alas, such a telepathic device doesn’t seem to exist yet and until it does, blog posts will continue to be intermittent. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my rambling, I greatly appreciate it! =)

Balancing the writer within

left handed writer

Life is about balance. Family and work, work and play, play and productivity. It’s not always easy keeping everything in balance, but I do the best I can. However, I’ve come to realize that my balance between creative writing and structured writing is rather off.

I employ my abilities as a creative writer every day in my work. I don’t use it to the same degree as when I wrote fantasy, but it is my creativity that gives my writing character, uniqueness, and personality. I always try to approach my work assignments from various angles and gather enough information to write from an angle no one has used before. This is vital for making blog posts, landing pages, and product descriptions stand out in such a saturated business. I don’t think I’d be nearly as good at my freelance writing work if not for my background as a fantasy fiction writer.

Nonetheless, that fantasy fiction writer has become lost as I pursue a successful writing career. Rather ironic considering that I expected my successful writing career to come from publishing my novels. Further proof that life is about balance and life is also about change. Being able to adapt to and utilize that change is one of my strengths and I’ve learned to always stay on my toes.

Last week I started my latest term at SNHU online with Intro to Creative Writing. I’d been looking forward to the class since I started at SNHU last August and I felt it would be a welcome change after getting the two required Composition classes out of the way. Much to my surprise, I was better at the composition classes than I’d expected and though I found the structured format of essays a challenge at first, I quickly realized that it fit right in with my job as a freelance writer. I honestly believe that my skills as a freelance writer have greatly improved thanks to those first two classes and I have great hope that the Intro to Creative Writing class will help me rediscover the more creative and “freer” side of my writing.

There are three required books for my current class and they all focus on learning to become a creative writer and/or building on the creative writing skills a person already possesses. Out of curiosity, I flipped through the books and what I saw about poetry, short stories, and other expressive writing mediums filled me with self-doubt.

Thankfully, when I opened the book entitled “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg, it flipped to the spot where the publisher’s catalogue card had been randomly stuck. It was right on the section called “Go Further” and from the first few lines, I found great motivation. It reads, “Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say. Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.”

Those words hold true for so much more than writing! There have been so many times in my life when I almost thought I was done, when I couldn’t go any further, when I didn’t think I could handle one more awful thing the world threw at me. Yet I kept going. A little further turned into a lot further and that turned into continuing on the journey of life and discovering the amazing things that were waiting around the corner, once hidden from my view. I never would have experienced so many wondrous things if I’d given up when things became challenging.

I won’t give up now either. I will discover the keys to balancing the writer within and I will learn how my freelance writer self and my fantasy writer self can coexist within the indomitable creature that is me.

winter sky

Signs of spring

Roadside stream near my house

Roadside stream near my house

March in the Northeast U.S. is a month full of Mama Nature’s mood swings. She’s not quite ready to let us have warm, sunny days regularly so she tosses one in here and there to tease us amid cold temperatures and scattered snow flurries. That’s okay though because I make sure to enjoy every moment of the nicer days by going outside on walks, while snuggling inside on the less nice  days.

Thursday is the official “First Day of Spring” but truly, that’s an optimistic notion. I’d be extremely pleased if it was suddenly 55 degrees and sunny out and the muddy, snowy bog that is my yard instantly dried up and sprung to life with green grass. No wait, nix the grass, I’m not ready to mow yet. Flowers will do nicely instead! I’m really just tired of being cold and waking up to dark mornings. The dark mornings will slowly get lighter again as the month progresses but wow, the time change makes it hard to get up early all over again!

I took Jazzmin on a pleasant, two-mile walk this afternoon and was happy to discover that I’m not terribly out of shape from being sick and mostly in bed for the past couple weeks. My legs do still have muscles and my lungs still work up to capacity! A grand discovery indeed! We saw a young fox frolicking in the field during our walk and I grinned from ear to ear because foxes are always a sign of good luck! When he saw us he immediately dashed across the road and into the woods out of sight but I thanked the powers that be for sending me such a positive sign.

The fox was a sign of continuing luck and I welcome it with an open heart, mind and spirit. I’ve had several promising changes in my freelance writing career today and it’s a grand boost to my confidence! This blog is where I ramble about whatever I like and it’s very freeing but it’s also nice to know what my professional writing is appreciated and sought after. Spring has sprung with positive omens and soon it will pop and flourish with warmer days, blooming flowers and leaves on trees!

Endless Dreams

This morning I was browsing houses for sale in North Shore Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Jordan had just finished her breakfast so she came over and looked at some of the photos. She expressed great interest in the pictures I had up on my screen.

There was a lot to like in the houses I was looking at. They all had lovely floor plans and nice lots and were far newer than my current house. I told Jordan that I look at houses for sale to inspire me to keep working hard at my writing. I told her the only way I could afford to own a house out there is by selling a book (or six) for substantial money.

Jordan’s response was that several people seemed to like my “Unbroken Flames” book and I said that yes, they did. Alas, I’m still so busy writing freelance for income that I can’t write for pleasure. It’s a frustrating conundrum. I’m sure I’ll figure out a win/win solution eventually.

Jordan asked what was involved with my job as a freelance writer and I told her it’s like writing several short research papers every day. My mind is so stimulated by the time I go to bed that I have endless and detailed dreams every night. I can doze off for 20 minutes and have five different dreams. So while I do sleep through the night, it’s not the kind of sleep that leaves me feeling rested.

At the end of the day I lose my ability to spell easy words correctly or even talk in forward sentences. I was reading football stats yesterday afternoon and I read “tackled” as “tickled.” Now wouldn’t that be a totally different game! Amusing yes, but a bit exasperating. Mental exhaustion with a purpose I suppose.

While I sleep I have endless dreams. While I’m awake they transform into endless daydreams that motivate me to keep plugging away with my writing work. If achieving dreams was easy then everyone would have done it by now. I have faith that someday after a full day of rewarding writing I’ll have the pleasure of taking a stroll on a Massachusetts beach to watch the sunset and be soothed by the sounds of the crashing waves.