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Have you entered the CABS scholarship contest?

March 16th, 2018 by Morna

I believe that anyone who is serious about starting or growing a creative arts business should have a chance to learn the best success and business strategies. I also believe this is best done away from your studio with other like-minded creatives who will understand and continue to support you.

The place to do that is the seventh annual Creative Arts Business Summit on April 26-28, 2018.

That’s why when someone turned in her ticket for this year’s Creative Arts Business Summit (CABS), I decided to offer two partial scholarships. Two lucky winners will be able to work directly with me and a group of other creatives for three days at the end of April.

For many who have attended CABS over the past seven years, this has been life changing. I want that for you, too.

Here are the rules:

  • Send us a note or a video indicating why YOU should receive the scholarship. Be sure to mention how this will make a difference in your business and life.
  • Written entries should be no longer than 300 words and videos should be no longer than 3 minutes!
  • If you choose to do a video, clearly mention the website in your video so people who watch it know where to learn more about this event you’re talking about.
  • Send your written response or a link to the video to
  • We must receive your entry no later than 11:59 pm Eastern on Sunday, March 25th.
  • I will notify winners directly, so be sure to include your contact info.


You can learn more about CABS and read the success stories of some those who’ve attended here.

Time is limited so don’t delay. We must receive your entry no later than 11:59 pm Eastern on Sunday, March 25th.

Don’t miss this chance to uplevel your business this year with some financial assistance. Before you know it, you’ll wish you had joined us.


7 steps to build your creative arts business

March 14th, 2018 by Morna


Over the years I’ve worked with thousands of creatives. Some were private coaching clients, some came to my Creative Arts Business Summit, some belong to our ICAP Members’ Studio, some attended my classes and lectures, some learned from the magazines I published, and some learned from what I shared in this blog and online.

Regardless of how someone has learned from me, they were introduced to one or more elements of my CREATE! system. This system is how I grew my creative arts business. I go back to it again and again as my business changes.

C = Clarity

What’s clarity got to do with it? Clarity sets the foundation for your business. If you are not clear about where you want to go, what you want to make, who you are trying to serve, etc., you will just not be as successful as you could be. You don’t have to wait until you’re clear on everything to get started, just that as you become clearer and clearer your path becomes easier.

You probably already spent some time deciding you want to create a business from your creative passion. If you are still working with what kind of career you want in the creative arts arena, you might try making a vision board or keeping a journal.

Starting with the end in mind helps you work to get clearer on the aspects that make up that vision, your business. You’ll have lots of questions to answer to help you get clarity.

So where do you start? I like going back to the questions I used to ask as a working journalist. Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?

R = relate

Marketing is really about relating with your customers, building that relationship.

Before someone buys from you, they will likely want to know, like, and trust you so that’s what you need to work toward. After all, don’t you like to know who you spend your money with?

You want to build relationships with your clients, potential clients, vendors, suppliers, joint venture collaborators, the media, and in the process you want them to introduce you to more of your perfect customers.

You spent some time getting clarity about your “who.” You need to go back and refine your answer. Create a distinct picture of your target market. You may actually find that she (or he) looks a lot like you.

For example, Can you describe your ideal client? What is her age? Does she work outside the home? Does she have kids, young ones or teenagers or grown ones? What does she like to read? What problems does she have that you can solve? That will be key as you go along.

You may go so far as to give her a name. It’s like creating an avatar. This will help you when you create marketing materials because you will be creating them for this person. It is so much easier to write advertising copy when you are writing it for someone in particular.

In my case, I’ve created my target client and when I write my weekly ezine, or online newsletter, I’m writing to that person. What’s affirming is that I often hear from many people who say, “you wrote that just for me.” I’ve identified who they are and their problems so I can provide the solutions.

Once you’ve figured out who you will relate to, how are you going to build that relationship? It could be with your newsletter. It could be online. It could be networking. It could be through galleries or craft shows.

E = establish a marketing plan

The next step in the system is E and that stands for Establish a Marketing Plan. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as: the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.

In easy-to-understand terms, it means producing what the customers wants and making a profit for you. You can see it’s a lot more than sales.

When I look at the marketing “plan,” I often refer to it as inviting people to play with you in your sandbox.

Before you do that, you need to know more about your product.

What are its features and benefits? Benefits are what sell a product.

How is it packaged?

What will it cost? And remember that profit is part of the equation.

How will you get it to market?

How will you promote it? You have lots of tools available to you – social media, networking, teaching, galleries/shows, etc. And, the options can be overwhelming, especially when you start out. Pick one or two tools and start there. As you learn how to work the initial tools and have success, add another.

A = action

Nothing happens until you take action.

Once you’ve got the idea of what you plan to do to market your business, you set goals. You’ve probably heard about smart goals – SMART – and that’s what they should be. Now you need to work on achieving them. A great way to do this is with backwards planning. Start with the end in mind. You’ve got the goal and then you work backwards.

I like to use a large planning calendar so I can see the big picture. Mark the important dates so you can see where the time is available to work your goals. Start to plug the steps into the holes so you can work towards achieving your goals.

It might be easy to do this part – figuring out what you need to do, when you need to do it. The hard part comes in actually implementing your plan. That’s where most of us get stuck. We start out in a good place and then get distracted by whatever is in front of us. To get you past this, you need to practice personal discipline, and that means making an appointment with yourself to get the work done. All of us frequently change our plans to suit others. It’s important to train yourselves to stick to your personal appointments. If you stick with this you’ll see results.

It’s about taking small actions every day to slay the dragons. Consistent actions lead to Consistent Results.

T = tracking

Once your business is up and running, it’s key to start tracking what your results are. Unless you are tracking your results, you cannot make any adjustments to your plan to improve your results.

You may have already been doing some tracking, looking at what you are accomplishing on a daily or weekly basis. My most successful clients have a process for doing this.

What else should you be tracking?

At a minimum you need to track your financials.

You should look at your P+L (Profit and Loss) Statement on a regular basis. You might decide to make Fridays your Financial Focus day. See where your money is coming into your business and where it is going out. That’s the purpose of your P+L. What exactly do you look at? Every P&L includes the following categories:

  • net sales
  • cost of goods sold, which includes your inventory
  • gross profit, which is your net sales less your cost of goods sold
  • operating expenses
  • net profit, which is your gross profit less your operating expenses
  • net profit after taxes

Also take a look at your cash flow statement. This lets you figure out what you can afford to spend day-to-day.

You should also track non-financial numbers depending on your business. This could be the results of your email campaigns or the numbers of your social media reach. Again, if you don’t track your results, you won’t really know what those results are.

Knowing you numbers lets you ask better questions. Better questions get better answers, and that’s how you grow your business.

E = evaluate and expand

At some point in your business, you hit a ceiling and can’t grow any further. You are at the point of frustration.

Some of this may be due to mindset, that you can’t see yourself bigger. That’s a different issue to work with than this blog post. If, however, you’ve got the mindset piece under control, the key to expanding your business is to leverage your time, skills and money. Three keys let you do that: teams, systems, and technology. Each will allow you to make strides in your business.

Ask yourself these three questions.

Who is on your team now and who do you need to add to your team for the future? You cannot continue to do it all yourself. Look for someone to work in areas that aren’t your brilliance. You will then free up time to work where you are brilliant.

What technology do you use now and what do you need to add to grow? You are probably already using technology, e.g., your email newsletter or automatic postings to social media. Remember you don’t always have to know how to use the technology. That team you are growing can do that for you.

What systems do you have in place and what systems to you need to add? Any process that is repeatable can be systematized. This will save you lots of time and will let your team handle work that you should not be doing.

! = remember your why

The last step in my CREATE! system is the exclamation mark. One of the areas you got clarity on in the first step was your why. It’s a critical part of growing your business.

We all face struggles in our business. We are challenged as we grow. Mindset issues crop up whenever you aim for a new level. You start to feel like maybe it’s “not for you.”

What to do? One of the things to remember when you’re struggling is your “why.” When you reconnect with the roots of why you started my business and why it is so important to you, you’ll find that you are able to persevere and reach for the next level. Give it a try.

It’s your turn!

Where are you in your creative arts business journey? Where can you use more clarity or systems?

If you would like to learn more about the CREATE! system, you get our free Creative Arts Business Blueprint here.


How will you celebrate?

March 7th, 2018 by Morna

Do you regularly celebrate your accomplishments? I am not surprised if you don’t. Many entrepreneurs are so focused on what is next that they do not take the time to appreciate what they have accomplished. That is why most of my clients and students take time weekly to look at what they accomplished and celebrate that. It is part of their weekly Success and Strategies Summit.

The process

What exactly is the Success and Strategies Summit and how do you have one? It’s a process where you look back at your week, plan the next week, and celebrate your accomplishments.

Read more…

It starts with clarity

February 28th, 2018 by Morna


We recently welcomed a new group into our Members’ Studio. We have lots of resources all geared to help you build the creative business of your dreams.

I know that too many options can be overwhelming. What’s needed is clarity. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the options. What if I do this? Or that?

Ever been there?

What do you need clarity on? When I work with some clients, that’s our first step. Clarity is really the foundation of success both in your business and your personal life. And, once you get clear, it doesn’t mean you always stay clear, unfortunately. I think it’s a continual path as you and your business grow.

You need to be clear on the direction you are going. What is your end goal? If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

Read more…

Let’s take 15!

February 21st, 2018 by Morna


Do you ever look at what others have accomplished and think you can’t possibly do that? We all have that comparison gremlin to contend with. Do you then fall back on your standard excuse? I just don’t have time!

I’m going to challenge you on that.

I wrote about “you management” as opposed to “time management” a few weeks back. Today I want to share a simple concept that might make a difference in your day.

Let’s call it Take 15.

Read more…

Discover your why

February 14th, 2018 by Morna

Over in our Creative Passion to Profit Facebook Group we are hosting a challenge to help creatives increase their visibility and grow their businesses. On the first day I asked the members two questions. Why Do You Create? Why Did You Start Your Creative Business?

You’ll find a great deal of variety of answers. Some people were raised with creative parents; some were not. Some expressed their creativity from childhood; some put it on hold and it re-emerged as adults. Some started their businesses with purpose; some started accidentally. You will probably resonate with something someone wrote. You can read the responses or join in here.

Have you ever thought about what your why is? You know, why you do what you do? Why you are in the business you are? Why art or creativity chose you? And why you chose to make it important enough that it is your business?

Read more…

Is time managing you?

February 7th, 2018 by Morna


If you are like many people, you decided to get a better handle on your time this year. Some people call this time management. How is that working out for you?

Funny thing is that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Some of us just do a better job of managing ourselves. We really can’t manage the time. Here are five tips to help you do that.

Know what your time is worth.

Your goal as a business owner is to turn your time into money, so I think you should know what your time is worth. Here’s an easy way to figure it out. What do you want to make this year from your creative arts business?

Read more…

Are you still excuse-ing?

January 31st, 2018 by Morna


Last weekend I met a good friend Mariellen for tea. She was still telling me that she was just about to get her new business launched, something I had heard for several years. I waited to hear her latest excuse.

Over the years I’d heard lots of reasons or excuses from Mariellen. She didn’t have the money. The time wasn’t right; she was too busy. She was afraid she’d fail at it. Her kids needed her. Her parents needed her. She needed new headshots, but she had to lose weight first. She couldn’t launch without the website being ready. The photos of her work weren’t good enough and she needed a new camera. She had just volunteered for a major project at the local art guild. She was clearly waiting for the stars to be aligned. Does that ever really happen?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a master at excuses myself. At some point, thought, I decided the excuses were, well, just excuses. And, frankly, I got tired of them. And, I’m pretty sure people who heard them were bored with them. If I wanted to get anything accomplished, I needed to do something about it.

Read more…

Brunch with Brené

January 24th, 2018 by Morna


Yesterday I was lucky to attend a church service at the Washington National Cathedral where Brené Brown delivered the sermon. It was followed by a forum, a conversation between Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde and Brené. (I feel like I know her well enough to just use her first name!)

It was a magical experience from the setting to the content. I took lots of notes and want to share some of what I heard and learned.

We tend to hang around with people who believe like us.

Brené referred to this as sorting into bunkers. These people think like us, and they hate the same groups of people that we do. We don’t even necessarily know or like these people, but we have “common enemy intimacy.” That is not true belonging.

Read more…

Do you have good financial habits?

January 17th, 2018 by Morna

Many artisan entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable with the money side of their businesses. It’s not uncommon. You want to spend your time creating not thinking about numbers. Of course, you are in business, and your goal has to be to make money. If you don’t make money, you won’t be able to run your business. You won’t be able to grow your business. You won’t be able to share your art beyond your family and close friends. And, the world will be less because you aren’t sharing your art with a wider circle of people.

Now is a great time to put some good habits in place on the financial side. If you take these steps, you’ll reap rewards both personally and financially.

Understand your money story

We all come to our business with a story about money. It will have good elements, and it will have not so good elements. For example, your story might be, “I’ve just never been good at handling money.” Or it might be, “Other people deserve this financial success more than I do.” Or, ” Money just isn’t important to me.”

Take some time and journal about the stories that you have about money. The stories came to you honestly. They were what you heard as a young child, what you saw on television or the movies, and what your friends or spouse believe and share.

Once you understand where your money story came from, you can ask yourself if it’s true and if it serves you. Just because you came to them honestly, doesn’t mean they are true. They might just be an opinion, and a false one at that.

Read more…

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