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    The Creative Business Traveller’s Toolkit

    the-creative-business-travellers-toolkit-creative-womens-circle-diana-scully

    By Diana Scully

    Last year, I shared with you my tips for relocating yourself (and your creative business) overseas, based on my recent experience doing just that from Melbourne to Los Angeles, taking my interior design business with me.

    To be honest, setting up a new home and establishing a new work lifestyle has not been as glamorous as I had initially imagined. Let me be clear, spending time in LA and the US generally has been incredible, exciting and a total adventure, but when your business is set up in Australia, a relocation to a new city brought along some new challenges.

    But I’ve worked hard and want to share with you today my ‘business traveller’s toolkit’: a repertoire of essential services I needed to stay connected to my lifeline back at home AND remain flexible in the US. I hope these tools will offer the support you require to travel with simplicity, enjoyment and greater peace of mind – for short or long periods of time.

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    Your essential gear.

    These items may appear obvious, but if you aren’t accompanied with the right tools to travel, stay organised and be more flexible, it’s going to be a long unproductive day – every day – on the road. Seriously.

    1 / A light-weight, reliable laptop. The market has so many good options so its up to you to choose the right one for you. If international travel is on your agenda, consider an Apple product as their warranty covers you worldwide. Last year, when my computer completely shut down one morning (who knows why!), I was able to visit my local Apple store in Santa Monica and receive assistance on the spot. The issue was rectified immediately (including my streaming tears) and didn’t cost me a dime.

    2 / Another obvious one, but a reliable mobile phone that allows for international data roaming and sufficient storage for all the apps you’ll need (see below). Make sure you activate international roaming before your departure to avoid having to sort this out when you arrive in your new location.

    3 / A hard disk drive to back up everything! I set up reminder on my laptop to back up my work on a weekly basis. It has been a lifesaver, especially when my laptop shut down completely that one day. Also, a hard drive is a good place to store your ever growing travel photo collection (rather using up valuable storage space on your laptop). You’ll need as a minimum 1 TB of storage.

    4 / A good pair of headphones with premium noise reduction feature is a must. For the many occasions I found myself working in public places like cafes, co-work spaces and libraries I needed my headphones to block out any distractions. My headphones also came in handy listening to music and podcasts in long lines, on road trips and in airport lounges.

    5 / The final piece is the ultimate bag. Depending on your style, make sure its comfortable to wear for long periods of time and large enough to factor in cords, adaptors, drink bottle and lunch! For me, this was a back pack with padding for extra support.

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    Your essential online services.

    Now to the good stuff. Here’s the essential digital services I found most useful while away from home. You may already be using some of these, but hopefully you’ll discover a few good new ones to add to your own toolkit if travel is on your agenda this year.

    1 / Skype – No explanation needed here. This was my direct line back home either for telephone or video calls. A great option for my clients who called to show me the progress of their home.

    2 / WiFi Finder App – Prior to my departure to the US, I never envisaged having difficultly finding WiFi in the US, particularly LA and NYC. However, proven wrong in the first week, access to free WiFi was not as readily available as I had hoped (plus I didn’t find the interiors or the coffee at Starbucks the must conducive to a good day’s work!). Luckily this app helped me locate both free and paid WiFi services on the go.

    3 / Dropbox – A place to save and store all your work using their cloud storage system. Firstly, if you ever need more storage, you can simply buy it online (without having to buy another portable hard disc drive). Also, you can create public links to your files to share with clients and travel photos to share with family. The collaborative nature of this service is a winner.

    4 / Xero – This is a brilliant service to manage all your accounting and business finance needs online and via a mobile app. When I incur any business expenses as I traval, I simply take a photo using my phone and upload it immediately into my Xero account. Goodbye paper trail! Also, my accountant is able to log into my online account and manage any issues from her own office. This real time aspect allowed for issues to be dealt with in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary phone calls at unusual times of the day. While its not a free service, the various fee options available are very reasonable and certainly a worthwhile investment.

    5 / Desk Time App – There have been some times when I can’t fathom working another day in another cafe all alone. So I loved to search for co-work spaces nearby using the Desk Time app. If your budget allows it, a co-work space is a great opportunity not only to give you access to reliable internet and amenities that you’ll need for a great day’s work, but an opportunity to also interact, network and meet new people. While in Santa Monica, I had the opportunity to work at Google’s old headquarters (which is now called ROC). Whilst here, I met some wonderful people, including future clients and one of the celebrities from the US TV series, The Bachelor! I also heard that Jessica Alba had her own private office here, however, I unfortunately never ran into her.

    6 / Hoot Suite App – A popular online service to plan and prepare all your social media platforms in advance. While I’m the type of person who likes to prepare social media posts only a day or two ahead, when my husband and I decided to take a road trip along Route 66 for two weeks, I knew that access to WiFi was going to be limited, especially in the desert!

    7 / Trello – If you love lists and tools for keeping organised, then you’ll love Trello. This online service allows you to organise projects into boards and even access those boards via a mobile app (which I found perfect when I wanted to snap a photo of a cool armchair and upload it immediately to a client project board). Trello also allows you to invite team members, clients and family to your boards to add comments and upload images.

    8 / EventBrite – Prior to leaving for the US, I jumped onto this site to see what events, seminars and gatherings relating to design were on in LA. Fortunately for me, at the time, one of my favourite design bloggers was holding a seminar at her studio on social media and blogging – So I grabbed a ticket and a month later, I was in her studio in LA talking with her! So exciting! A great platform available in many countries around the world to connect you with events in a new city.

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    While this list of services is not exhaustive (I am yet to find the ultimate app that locates for you the best coffee in the US), they’ve all been super helpful in keeping me connected, organised and productive with work commitments and my nomadic lifestyle. With just about everything now being available online, it meant I could travel more lightly and freely, which is the ideal way to travel (trust me, I learnt this the hard way).

    If you have any other great online services to recommend then please share them with us via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’m back in Melbourne at the moment, but off to the US again this year and this time I’m feeling a little more prepared and ready! I hope that these tools empower you to feel in control and secure with your travel/work adventures too.

    Spaces by Diana is all about designing beautiful, personalised homes that reflect the owners. Principal Designer, Diana Scully, is passionate about creating homes that offer good design without the price tag. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces, places to visit and recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest

    {Images via Death to the Stock Photo}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, organise me | Comments Off
    Posted on

    How to Improve Your Blog to Grow Your Creative Business

    How to Improve Your Blog to Grow Your Creative Business by Dannielle Cresp on Creative Womens Circle

    By Dannielle Cresp

    Blogging is great for business. We all know it. But when it’s not the number one thing on your to-do list, it can slip from a “must do” to a “should do”. When a month or two passes without any new content going up, we know it looks bad, but the longer it’s left the more difficult it feels to get back to it.

    I’ve been blogging weekly for almost a year now without missing a single post. So today I want to share with you my tips for improving your blog to help your creative business grow, without adding too much more to your plate.

    • Have an editorial calendar and dedicate at least half a day a month to it. Decide what days of the week you’ll be posting over the coming month. I recommend less rather than more if your blog isn’t your main business. It’s better to be consistent once or twice a week than 5 days one week and nothing for the rest of the month. Use that half day to plan what you will write (even if it’s just vague topics for now) and the dates you will publish the posts.
    • Dedicate time write posts in batches. Set aside half a day to a day to write as many posts as you can. Take the photos you need to accompany what you’ve written, and then schedule them according to your editorial calendar. It might seem silly to not work on your main business for a whole day or so, but blogging is an important part of marketing!
    • Make your images easily pinable to Pinterest. Only use great quality images and add your post title to the image you’re going to use (like the example above). Also consider adding a ‘pin it’ button over your images. This makes your content easier to share amongst Pinterest users, and will help drive traffic back to your site. It’s also a great way to bookmark and categorise your own blog posts for easy reference.
    • Have an e-Newsletter Sign Up on your blog sidebar and encourage readers to sign up (e.g. by offering them exclusive offers or something extra if they do).
    • Keep your colours and fonts consistent. Your blog is an intrinsic part of your brand, and consistency will ensure people will get to know you and your work by sight.
    • Only write as much as you need to. Blog posts needn’t be long, especially if your creative business has lots of visual appeal. Write only what you need to and share some great images that will help you get your point across. There is no ideal blog post length. For many of you, images will be a way to share some behind the scenes work and you’ll only a short ammount of text to give those images some context.
    • Have some fun with it. It might seem odd that you would have fun with the marketing side of your business, but if you let your personality shine through a bit people can see there’s a person behind the brand and feel like they’re supporting someone rather than something. Even if you’re a team, it can be a great way to give some insight into who the customer (or client) might be hiring or purchasing from.

    Blogging can be great for your business and it doesn’t have to take up a big part of your daily business routine. Find a rhythm that works for you and and it will be much easier to stick to and to enjoy.

    Dannielle is a blogger, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found hanging out on Pinterest. She is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style over at her blog Style for a Happy Home.

    Image from © Lime Lane Photography with text overlay


    Posted by: Dannielle Cresp
    Categories: organise me, regular columns | Comments Off
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    How to Plan now for the Christmas Rush

    By Susan Goodwin

    how-to-plan-now-for-the-christmas-rush

    Christmas, a time for giving, a time for family and the lead up to it can be some of the most intense times for your business. It may be months away yet but if you do some prep work now you will arrive at Christmas not a frazzled mess but as a cool calm collected business woman who has just made the most of one of the biggest retail opportunities available.

    Get your products ready
    Ensure all products, goods and services are going to be ready in time for the Christmas sales period. If they aren’t you will lose a big opportunity so make sure your deadlines are being met.

    Plan when to let your customers know
    Work out a calendar of when the goods are available and how to best communicate to your customers during a time period when they are going to be bombarded with buy buy buy messages

    Schedules your blog posts and social media
    Hopefully you are working to a blog content ‘calendar’ by now… If so, set aside a couple of days in July and do as much prep work as you possibly can to have December posts ready to go. Even if you need to add photos later, get the writing and scheduling done.

    Plan out your cards
    Sending out Christmas cards? If they are physical cards, get them designed and printed before October. That way, you have time to write in them and get them into the post mid- to late-November in time for an early December delivery. If the bulk of your cards are going overseas, be sure to check the posting schedule and aim for an early November post date.

    If your cards are virtual, get onto the design now and pre-schedule them to be sent out.

    Sending gifts or products to key clients or agencies?
    Think ahead and be sure to make your present relevant and as inspired as possible. Avoid the cliches and ensure you give a gift that will be remembered and appreciated.

    Wrapping paper, not just for the presents you are giving, but for your own products
    Think about how wrapping a product can benefit your brand and delight your customers. Do test runs, get costings and have everything ready far in advance.

    Wrapping your products in a creative way could work in-store or at markets. Think about how to make this an engaging aspect of your customer’s experience. Could you set up a wrapping station and allow customers to wrap their own gifts? Or have expert guides on hand to help? For online customers, offer gift wrapping as part of the service or for a small charge. Beautiful photos of the final wrapping are a must and will encourage people to take the option of wrapping and be happy to pay for it.

    Then, prep for sales beyond Christmas
    Think ahead: will you offer sales and discounts in December, or just from Boxing Day? Make a sales plan and act accordingly. If your website needs to change prices on the 26th, ensure you won’t be needed to manually input pricing changes on Christmas Day. Perhaps inside the gift wrapping you might consider adding a discount card to encourage repeat custom, or an easy way for them to share their gift on social media. Make it fun and engaging to increase your exposure. Plan it, pre-schedule it.

    Overall, planning and scheduling as much as possible earlier in the year, will ensure you’re calm and efficient during December. Not only will sales be flying out the door, you will have engagements and parties of your own to attend. Make sure your business is well looked after so you can enjoy the celebrations and not be locked in the office till midnight writing out Christmas cards (which could’ve been done in October!).

    Plan and schedule and you will have time for both success and pleasure this Christmas.

    Susan Goodwin is the designer, sewer and creator of Rocket Fuel, ensuring you are decked out in style while cycling. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter @rocketfuelstyle.


    Posted by: Susan
    Categories: how to, organise me, regular columns | Comments Off
    Posted on

    5 Tips for Keeping a Positive Mindset When Things Aren’t Going to Plan

    5 Tips for Keeping a Positive Mindset When Things Aren't Going to Plan by Dannielle Cresp on Creative Womens Circle

    Sometimes we have periods where our businesses are going great-guns. It’s hard work but things are moving quickly and in a forward direction. Nothing but awesome – it’s a great place to be. But there are also times where we might start to wonder why things aren’t going to plan, and why it feels more like we’re treading water (even if it looks awesome from the outside looking in).

    Here are some tips to work with that.

    • Take a break and get away from work. This could be an hour or two in a coffee shop or a weekend away, or even a weekend where you just do anything but work. Clear your head and give it a chance to see the forest for the trees. It can feel counter productive to step away when tasks are piling up and you feel like you should be doing more to fix the situation, but you have to take care of you to take care of your creative business.
    • Confide in someone you trust. Even if they can’t give advice, they can help share that load weighing on your mind. They might have some creative solutions, or they might just be someone who’s got your back. We all need them, in good times, but especially when times feel bad. Having someone to remind you of something funny always helps.
    • Come up with a plan. Yes, things aren’t feeling great, but now’s your opportunity to turn the situation around. Identify the things that aren’t working and write them each on their own pieces of paper. Turn your favourite music on, dance, and start to think about how you can use those things (focusing on one at a time) as jumping-off points for something much better. Sometimes it’s in the most frustrating problems that we find the best solutions.
    • Dream big and then dream small. Things aren’t going to plan? You realised that this just isn’t working as it is? Now is a great time to start thinking about what does work for you. Ask yourself: What’s the ‘big picture?’ Got it? Now dream small and turn it into actionable goals. Remember that nothing is a straight sprint to “Hell yeah!”, it’s more like an obstacle course.
    • Do something that fills you with energy. When things aren’t going well, it can feel like there’s no time to do the kind of work that fills you with energy and makes you feel great. Try to find 15 minutes to an hour a day to do the task that reminds you what that great feeling feels like. Even if you have to ride the less than great times out, this will give you something to hold onto during those times when you need it most.

    All of these things have helped me when things in my creative business haven’t been going as planned. When I came out the other side, I had all these things in my armoury, plus the knowledge that the tough times don’t last forever. Even if things are going great right now, it can be good to make a mental plan of who to reach out too and what it is that always fills you with energy. Here’s to more good times than bad!

    Dannielle is a blogger, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found hanging out on Pinterest. She is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style over at her blog Style for a Happy Home.

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    Posted by: Dannielle Cresp
    Categories: business tips, organise me, regular columns | Comments Off