How to Write a Creative Action Plan You’ll Actually Follow

Let's make a creative action plan you'll actually follow
By no means am I all “death to the business plan!” or anything dramatic like that; I just realize that many of us feel overwhelmed by blog business plans and freelance business plans. Sometimes, we just want an action plan that tells us what to do and when to do it in the simplest format possible.

I get that. I love business plans, but I also love action and simplicity. So today, as a part of my blog series on going independent and transitioning to working for yourself full time, I’m bringing you action and simplicity. We’re going to make your Creative Action Plan by asking 10 simple questions and discussing lots of fun options/answers you can go with. Can I get a “Wooo hooo, planning is the best, and I really love Regina today for making me plan” . . . ? Huh? Can I get that one more time with a little more feeling? Thank you. Oh, and if you want to check out the first post in the series, that covers freeing up more time + money for your creative business, then yo, I support that idea.

What is a Creative Action Plan again?

I’m glad you asked. A Creative Action Plan (CAP) is a document that you add to and access regularly that contains action items in 10 key areas of your business so that you always have steps you can take to move forward.

Have you ever been sitting around and found yourself wondering what you should be doing to grow your business, or how to get more of your audience to buy from you, or how to streamline your processes? I think that most of us can come up with awesome ideas in these areas, we just need a little nudge, inspiration, and jostling of the creativity.

So, let’s get started. And yes, I have some worksheets for you. I’ve made this into a multi-sheet series if you choose to download it and follow along. You don’t have to hand over your email address or pay for it. And no, I know what you’re thinking to yourself right now, but please allow to me correct that thought . . . you don’t have to name your second-born child after me to get the download for free. Though if you choose to do the right thing, I want you to know that I’m open to her middle name being Regina; it doesn’t have to be her first name. I’m cool like that. You’re welcome.

Also, to be honest, I do recommend eventually making your CAP into a digital document (maybe Google Docs?) that you can access and change at any time. I know some of us creative types like pen and paper, or like to brainstorm first, so please feel free to use the worksheets below with the questions and ideas below below.

Creative Action Plan Worksheets: Develop a strong "business plan" that you can actually follow

How to Free Up More Time and Money for Your Creative Business

How to free up more time and money for your creative business as you transition to full time.
Let’s begin a series on transitioning to your creative business full time, eh? And to kick it off, let’s go ahead and get into how you can begin to free up more time and money for your business.

Cutting expenses and creating more time for myself were keys to being able to finish my first book and launch byRegina.com. I won’t lie to you–some of it was painful . . . truly difficult, but I’d absolutely do it again 17 times if I had to. The day I was able to leave my blah/meh/ahhhhh! job so that I could create materials that matter, was pretty much one of the largest turning points in life for me. If you’ve done the same, then you’ve likely felt this for yourself. If you’re working toward making the transition to full time, then I have a little story for you.

The video below is a smidgen of my story and some of the things that made the biggest difference in my transition. At the end of the video, I make a special call for help with a project I’m planning and launching soon, so please share if you know someone it applies to. But P.S. There’s a whole post below as well with some additional resources to help you with Step 1 of transitioning to working for yourself full time: freeing up more time and more funds for yourself and your business.

A story about my transition to full-time creative work


How to Free Up More Money for Your Creative Business

So, the first step of this process is to honestly and accurately assess how much you’re spending each month in life and in business. I want to take you through this process and give you some suggestions on how to cut back.

First: Look up bank statements, credit card statements, your PayPal account, and receipts from the last three months (for both your personal life and business). Use the spreadsheet below to total up all of your expenses.

Note: If a category is missing, add it. Try to remember any cash you spent as well. Only you can see this document, so try to be super duper honest with yourself. Click on the spreadsheet below, then select File –> Make a copy to create a copy in your own Google Sheets.

Life and Business Budgeting

As I said in the video, cutting back on the unnecessary stuff and only spending money where I had to, really helped clear my mind. It also relieved some stress and freed up funds for when I needed them for business expenses.

Second: Figure out areas you can cut back in. With each category (and each expense within each category) ask yourself:

7 Epic Time Investments You Can Make in Your Business

7 amazing time investments you can make in your business.

Yoooooo. I’ve missed you, my friends. And I secretly hope you’ve missed me a little, too. And today, I thought we should discuss time. Specifically ways to invest your time that will have epic effects on your brand and the way you do business.

I want to share seven areas that I’ve invested major time in and I hope you’ll stick with me as I explain the multiple benefits and applications of each area. I really think making these time investments can help any freelancer, infopreneur, blogger, or solopreneur . . . but if you disagree with me by the end of the list, just know I was under the influence of a long IKEA trip (by myself) when I thought this up . . . and no one should be held responsible for what they scheme up by the end of a 3-hour IKEA marathon. No one.


1. Making videos. Even though I hated being in front of the camera when I first started.

As an introvert with unruly hair, I thought it wise to stay off-screen for most of my life. But, with the way the Internet evolves and explodes every single day, I thought it unwise to not try multiple forms of media. If you run an Internet business like I do, then my #1 rule for us is:

Once you arrive, don’t stay at your destination too long; you have to set a new course.”

Whatever goal you’re setting right now, once you hit it, celebrate, have a Martin Scorsese marathon, play some Scrabble and drop Z’s and X’s and J’s on your opponent, then set a new course. Even if your new course is taking your current project to the next level. Trying to apply IRL (in real life) speed to an online business is like trying to apply tortoise speed to the hare. Wait. Bad example. The tortoise beat the hare . . . but you get what I mean.

Area #1: Make some videos, yo. All the videos.

Benefits:

  • Videos increase the chances of people on the Internet finding you.
  • They take your brand to the next level of helpfulness.
  • They attract people who are prone to get a little lost in too much text.
  • They allow you to communicate certain things (tutorials, deep thoughts, etc.) more effectively than screenshots or words that don’t come with tones or facial expressions.
  • You can get out your thoughts faster when you speak (on video) than you can in text.

Try: G+ Hangouts On Air, YouTube tutorials, screencasts of your computer screen, recorded presentations, or any other type of video that helps you communicate with your ideal audience.

P.S. >> Tools: I use Camtasia or QuickTime for screen recordings, a DSLR and a lavalier mic for recording myself, and I upload most of my content to YouTube + Vimeo.

10 Tips to Help You Transition from a Blogger to a Creative Coach

10 Tips to Help You Transition from a Blogger to a Creative Coach
Many of the insanely sexy blogger friends I’ve been talking with lately via email and social media (yes, you’re included in the insanely sexy category, if you’re wondering) have been going through the process of realizing they are more than bloggers.

A blog is a form of social media, and whereas it is totally possible to be a blogger (just as it’s possible to be a singer or a runner), it’s also possible that you might feel a bit of disconnect from that term by itself. It may be because you’re an infopreneur—and one of my favorite forms of infopreneurship, especially when you’re first starting to really monetize your brand (and blog), is creative coaching. P.S. There are tons of ways to monetize a coaching business. This post is about making the transition.

Creative coaching is a form of infopreneurship (making money from the knowledge in your head) that involves helping people learn skills + concepts they can put into practice and hopefully repeat. You can be a writing coach, a creative business coach, a coach for women transitioning out of a marriage, a coach for freelancers, a voice coach, or a coach for first-time fathers . . . honestly, you can coach people on almost anything that is important to them as long as you have knowledge, desire, organization, communication skills, and a solid customer experience process.

As I was bringing back my creative coaching class (since some of you wonderful people have been asking about it), I realized I hadn’t posted on creative coaching in quite some time, and I thought that one of the most common questions I get would be a great thing to answer:

“How do I start offering coaching services, but still keep a reader’s trust and attention? P.S. I want to make some decent money doing this, and I really do love it.”

Ah ha, my friend. You’ve asked the right question . . . it’s important to keep people’s trust. So let’s explore 10 quick tips to help you transition people into your new coaching services.

10 Tips to Help You Transition (Gracefully) from Blogger to Coach

1. Don’t “cold tofu” your readers.

I think some people say “cold turkey” but let’s just agree to disagree.
It can really help your brand and your readers if you are NOT a blogger one day and then a coach/consultant the next. But how can you avoid doing that? Well handsome/gorgeous, start to throw some baby hints and new content out before you’re selling any coaching packages–I recommend starting 45 – 60 days out, at a minimum. And I’d also suggest trying the next four tips below in your prep period.

Just the most meaningful (to me) post I’ve ever written

The Creative Ninja Scholarship by Regina
This post is special to me. It’s my favorite post ever, because I get to do something that I’ve wanted to do for about six years. And it’s super exciting to me that I get to do it on my blog’s one-year birthday. On April 1, 2014, I launched my first byRegina post–but I brought over about 16 posts from a past blog to fill this one out a bit more. #DigressMuch?

Back to what I’ve desperately been wanting to do for the last several years.

For a long time in my life, I had no laptop. When I finally bought my first PC, it didn’t last terribly long and it didn’t have all the creative software I wanted. Not that PCs are evil, they’re not. I just didn’t get the right software for mine.

I remember thinking that if I could just get a MacBook that didn’t crash/freeze all the time, and that had the software I needed, that I could take my business so far. The truth is you can make magic happen with almost any device, but I unintentionally made the MacBook into a symbol of next level possibilities.

I was limited when I didn’t have a laptop and I was limited when I did have one that didn’t work well for me. I wanted a Mac so so bad. Please be honest and confirm that I’m not the only one who would go to Apple.com and daydream about their future laptop. Marveling at the al-ooh-minium exterior. (Hope I’m not the only one who watched the al-ooh-minium video.)

I daydreamed, but I couldn’t purchase it. $1000+ was so hard for me to get together and then put toward something like a computer. I had other grownup expenses.

Is anyone else feeling me right now? Have you ever been in that place?

Yet, a few years ago I got my first Apple laptop. It was a black MacBook and it was the most exciting purchase I can remember (until now, but I’ll get to that in a second, speedy; patience). I bought it used from a good friend. It took me a hot minute to save $900, but it’s impossible to put a price tag on the value I got from that thing. It had Photoshop on it and it inspired my first business that is somewhat close to what I’m doing now. I told you about the eleven different businesses I’ve tried, right?

There are those times when you get the thing you “always” wanted and then you never look at it again, but then there are those times you get the thing you want and you use the crap out of it. I literally used that MacBook until it was cracked and the memory couldn’t handle the software I needed to add for my business.

I had another friend who wanted to start her own freelance business shortly after I started mine and she desperately wanted a Mac as well. My heart broke again and again that I didn’t have my finances together enough to buy her one. She was so talented and had no computer and a simple non-smart phone, from which she couldn’t work. She would go to the library, faithfully and use their computers to get work done.

Regina, we’re waiting for the “most meaningful post ever” part.
Okay Rude-y Huxtable. Here’s my point:

I had the thought then that I could barely imagine any greater joy than creating a scholarship or program where I could give these precious tools of creative business glory away to other people in my situation.

Fast forward.

I’ve been sitting around figuring out when the right time would be to start this program. Would Apple magically read my mind and call me up to donate some computers? Would a message in a bottle fall from the sky? Oh wait, I mean the ocean. Would it float to me from the ocean? Highly unlikely as I live in Austin, Texas.

So, last week, as I was nearing my blog’s one-year birthday, I realized I could walk into the Apple store here in town and buy a MacBook Air with my own money. The bottle will never fall from the sky (because again, that would be weird). I realized you and I don’t have to wait for opportunities to do what we feel called to do. We can create our opportunities.

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