I collect notebooks. Like, unintentionally… I love notebooks and I love the idea of keeping dream journals and gratitude journals so I buy pretty notebooks with beautiful and inspiring covers and then… nothing. They just sit there in a stack. So I’ve found myself to be an unintentional collector of notebooks.
Part of me wonders if I like a blank slate better… if I love the idea of possibility more than I love actual progress or action, but that’s a post for another day. More often than not, I would find myself sitting on my bed, pen in hand, and blank paper staring me back in the face. No ideas, no plan or list or whatever I was going to draw out for myself.
Then one day, I went to a small business owners meeting. One of those networking discussion meetings for women who own their own businesses. I sat with a florist and a planner and we were supposed to discuss ways to get more business. We first asked what the biggest challenge we were currently facing and the planner said it was that people in Arizona were far behind the trends of the rest of the country. While the rest of the country was creating marigold centerpieces in antique gold vases, Arizona was still stuck on mason jars and burlap. The florist agreed. And I don’t know why, but my brain allowed me to fire off ideas on how to get past that roadblock.
“What if” I said “you created a Buzzfeed style quiz on your site that was titled something like ‘What new wedding trend should you try at your wedding?’ or ‘Take this quiz to get your ideal wedding day design board and then they fall in love with the design board they get at the end of the quiz and there’s an immediate option to contact you to make that wedding happen for them. Write blog posts called “10 wedding trends that need to die immediately.” or “Five wedding trends Arizona needs to adopt right now.”
The whole thing took me by surprise because up until that moment, I was not someone who spouted out business ideas. I was not someone who gave marketing advice. I was someone who stared at blank notebook pages, stumped at step one.
I came home from that meeting feeling bewildered. “Why can’t I do that for my own business??” I thought to myself. And maybe that was it… maybe it was the fact that it was MY business that kept me stuck. Maybe I took it too seriously? Maybe I didn’t allow myself to have fun with it? Maybe I kept my imagination blocked because I didn’t want to mess up in an area where I really wanted to be perfect.
Over the next few months, I researched here and there until I created three quizzes:
What Arizona location should you have your engagement session at?
Find your groom style
Find your bride style
I let go of the desire to have a website that looked like I only shot million dollar weddings and instead created a website that I thought looked fun and interactive. I put secret messages on my website (there are two on my home page and one on my about page. If you find one, send me a secret message back!). I embedded my favorite Doctor Who quote to the bottom of each page of my website so that others could be inspired by the show that changed my heart. I allowed my imagination to take over.
When I was twenty, I read the book “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp and after reading her book, I truly believed (and still do) that creativity is a habit, not a God given gift. Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it.
I wonder if this will work for you? Are you stuck on marketing ideas that are fun and unique? Can you go grab a coffee with a few business owners outside of your immediate industry and help them come up with new ideas? Maybe they can help you, and maybe you can help them. I think the pressure we put on ourselves often stifles out creativity. Helping someone else with their business might give you ideas that translate into your own business. It might be the spark your creativity needs and give you the confidence to let your imagination run wild.
Have fun with your business so that others can too.
|Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.