Tagged: Inspiration

Freelancers Union Spark Recap: How to Build an Inspired Business

Many of the Freelancer’s Union Spark event topics are very straightforward – for example, how to make your contract your best ally or how to negotiate the rates you deserve – but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from November’s topic, how to build an inspired business. When I arrived, I was excited to learn that a guest speaker, Life Coach Laurie Gerber of the Handel Group, would be leading the discussion. She began by having us collectively make a list of who or what inspires us.

Some of My Favorite Bits of Freelancer Inspiration:

  • Learning from clients
  • People who follow-through, execute, and get the job done
  • Collaborating with others
  • Businesses that help you to think of something in a new way
  • Failing and pressing forward anyway

I contributed to the discussion by sharing what inspires me most in my freelance career: those who choose an unconventional path. This is what motivated me to pursue freelancing in the first place – I didn’t want a typical 9-5 job, and I didn’t want to climb a company ladder. I wanted to carve my own way and create a career for myself. I’m continually excited by the artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups I work with who share this same desire and practice it in their work.


Next, we were encouraged to draw from what inspires us in order to create a mission statement for our own work – not for our business, not to publish on our websites or portfolios – a personal mission statement. We had to ask ourselves what drives and inspires us to do what we do. For me, this task was much more difficult than I anticipated, and it’s still a work in progress. I tried both re-working the type of mission statement I have on my portfolio site and starting from scratch, but I wasn’t satisfied. I really began to question why I do what I do and how it could be summed up in one sentence. I urge you to take this challenge! If you’re having difficulty like I was, here are some tips from Laurie:

What makes an inspired personal mission?

  • Consider how your work allows you to give value
  • Be specific, clear, and concise
  • Avoid clichés
  • Think about breathing life into your work – give it a persona and a voice
  • Reflect on what makes you and your work unique and authentic

The third and final step toward building an inspired business was rating ourselves based on five characteristics of an inspired freelancer:

  1. You’ve got a clear vision for your business
  2. Your work is a reflection of what inspires you
  3. You can easily express what you do and why you do it
  4. You take risks, and your business improves as a result
  5. You learn from your mistakes, and your business improves as a result

Those of you who know me can probably guess which of these characteristics got the lowest ranking: risk-taking. I may have taken the great leap to leave the traditional workforce and forgo health insurance, job security, and consistent paychecks, but since then, I haven’t taken many risks in my freelance career. The biggest leap I’ve taken was deciding on a bare minimum rate I was willing to accept and declining to negotiate or work with clients who weren’t willing to pay that amount. Fortunately, Laurie offered a solution for combatting your lowest ranked attribute: make a promise with a consequence. For example: I promise to take one small risk every day before noon or else I’m not allowed to watch TV that day.

Let’s continue the conversation! Share who or what inspires you, your personal mission, or your promise with a consequence tagging @FreelancersU and me, @AOCBlogGirl, using the hashtag #InspiredBiz. AND, if you have any questions about the Freelancer’s Union Spark events, feel free to tweet me – I’ve just signed on as a co-leader for the Manhattan Spark events, so I have all the inside scoop!


Full disclosure: I’m now on month two of my writing slump. While my lack of posts can somewhat be contributed to an incredibly busy July, it’s August now, and writer’s block is still plaguing me. The one year birthday of this blog is near – 21 days and counting – and I’m anticipating this day with both excitement and fear. What’s next for year two? And how will I discover that in the midst of what might be the second most severe case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced? But I’m trying to stay strong and meditate on the words of the brilliant writer Junot Diaz:

Junot Diaz

You may not see it on here, but I still write every day. Yes, I’m a blogger, a fashion lover, a budding stylist, an amateur photographer, developer, marketing professional, editor, digital strategist… I’m many things, but first and foremost I’m a writer. I have been as long as I could put a pen to paper. Writing is a part of me as much toes, which is why writer’s block feels like a debilitating illness – like if my lungs weren’t working properly. But what’s the cure? Keep writing anyway.

So, here I am today. Finally bringing my words to this blog. When I first sat down to write this post, all of this was going to be a brief introduction, and I was going to write a post I’ve had in mind for quite a while: The Little Black Dress. You’d probably prefer to be reading the LBD post right now! But first, I felt compelled to come to you honestly.

The Little Black Dress post to follow…


Several weeks ago I was chatting with fellow blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie about contests. It seems that a number of fashion outlets from magazines to social media are constantly presenting contests to their communities to boost engagement. We both admitted to being skeptics of such competitions for a long time. Surely there are hundreds upon thousands of eager followers entering these contests depending on the particular outlet hosting the competition and the prize. Then Gabby had a life changing experience that shifted her view of contests forever: she won. No, no, she won BIG.

Image courtesy of @LooksharpWI on Twitter

Image courtesy of @LooksharpWI on Twitter

Last fall, Marie Claire magazine partnered with Twitter and Yoplait yogurt for a contest that appealed to every fashion lover’s dream. The grand prize: an exclusive behind the scenes trip to New York Fashion Week, a meet and greet with Fashion Director Nina Garcia, and a feature in a Yoplait ad in the magazine’s November issue. The contest required participants to tweet a photo of an original look inspired by one of Yoplait’s 40 flavors. Gabby’s mixed berry inspired ensemble scored her the ultimate NYFW experience.

While Gabby’s win certainly gives me faith that real girls actually have a shot in hell at winning these contests, I would still venture to say that her victory was once in a lifetime. My contest story isn’t nearly as special, glamorous, or life-changing, but my small win is just another piece of encouraging evidence that contests are actually worth your while. If two regular gals can win, so can you!

Photographed by Angie Webb of Suburbanite Photography

Photographed by Angie Webb of Suburbanite Photography

My win was also for a contest involving social media. Last fall, one of my favorite denim lines, Level 99, hosted a series of Freebie Friday contests on Facebook. Each Freebie Friday contest had a theme that related to the particular denim style being given away. To win, followers had to answer the theme-inspired question in the comments. Instead of entering each week with a generic and ultimately underwhelming response, I waited for weeks when the theme spoke to me and tried to give an honest and personal reply, and it paid off. I won a pair of jeans!

Like I said, my win is not nearly as awe inspiring as Gabby’s, but hey, who doesn’t want a free pair of denim? The takeaway here is if you’ve ever thought of entering a contest but never actually done it because you thought, I’m never going to win, maybe next time you’ll think again. I believe Gabby would agree that an important factor to winning these contests is being genuine and true to yourself. So, keep that in mind and roll the dice. The next success story could be you!

Viewer Vote for Singer/Songwriter Erica Bryan

I’m beyond thrilled to share that I will be styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan AGAIN for her upcoming show at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta next Saturday, July 26 with alternative rock band Amsterdam Station. Today, Erica and I are launching an exciting initiative to get YOU involved in the styling process.

Erica Bryan July 2014 A 2

I’ve styled 2 looks for Erica featuring jewelry from my latest accessory obsession Must Love Sparkle, and now it’s time for YOU TO DECIDE!

Erica Bryan July 2014 D

Head to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or straight to the bottom of this post and use the hashtag #DreaminginDenim or #RompinAround to VOTE for your favorite look. Then, come out to the show to see which look is the FAN FAVORITE. What are you waiting for? VOTE NOW in the comments section!

Erica Bryan July 2014 I

Don’t live in the Atlanta area or just can’t make it to the show? Stay tuned to ARTicles of Clothing Blog, and I will reveal the FAN FAVORITE look in a post after the show!

Reader Spotlight: The Dress Every Woman Should Own

I’m excited to share my first post in my NEW Reader Spotlight series. I love when my readers reach out to me and share their purchases or information learned from ARTicles of Clothing blog. Nothing is more satisfying than connecting with my readers and hearing that AOC Blog has made an impact in their personal style and their wardrobe!

The reader in today’s feature purchased a dress based on one of the first posts on AOC Blog: Every Woman Should Own a Dress by this Brand. This post features one of my all time favorite lines, Tart Collections. The brand’s signature is its sleek jersey material that is both incredibly comfortable and drapes beautifully on the body. Over the years, Tart Collections has expanded from its trademark dresses to a full line of apparel, outerwear, intimates, and swim! If you’re looking for the ideal piece to take you from day to night or work to play, look no further than Tart Collections.

Evan in Tart AOC Blog Reader Feature

This reader is wearing one of Tart’s classic maxi dresses styled with the Hobo the Original Lauren Wallet, the accessory I deemed “the best wallet you’ll ever own.” Although the Hautelook sale event featured in my original post had ended, this reader also took into account my motto “never pay full price for anything” when shopping for her Tart maxi. She visited one of my recommended members only sample sale sites, Gilt Groupe, to purchase her first Tart Collections dress! Tart is a brand that is consistently featured in limited time sales events on such sites, so you too can snag you first Tart frock for a steal. The new Nordstrom Rack online is another great place to shop discounted Tart merchandise. They currently have over 50 Tart Collections styles in stock, including nearly 20 styles of dresses. I personally own an array of styles of Tart dresses – from strapless to long sleeve – and each is uniquely flattering and feminine.

If you have purchased an item or implemented advice featured on ARTicles of Clothing Blog, I would love to hear from you! Connect with me with the details and you could be the next reader to be featured in my Reader Spotlight Series!