{Creative Business} Series wrap up

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Friday last week was the last day of our 2 week series featuring tips and advice from nine South African ladies on starting your own Creative Business. I learned so much from the other ladies, and really enjoyed being a part of the series. To find out what the series was all about, click here.

Here is a wrap up of all the posts. How did you enjoy the series? Did you find the tips useful? I'd love to hear your comments below <3

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What's the most important question to ask yourself before starting your own business? on Caitlyn de Beer Life Coaching

“Recently I was asked what I feel the most important thing to consider is, before starting your own business. Fortunately being relatively new to the ‘owning’ your own business scene, I knew just the answer….It’s a simple why. The why should come before..” click here to read more


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Should you combine many passions or just choose one? on Megan Galloway Growth Coach.

“So, you want to start something. Something unique. Something creative. Something that gets you bouncing out of bed in the morning ready to inspire and to be inspired. Wonderful! Problem is you have so many ideas, so many passions … how can you possibly know where to focus your energy? As Barbara Sher has titled her book: What do I do when I want to do everything? Sound familiar?..” click here to read more


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The importance of Professionalism – website & photo’s on Ilze Louw Photography

“When I started my business I was all over the place, in every aspect, and then I came across this…DEFINE YOUR STYLE AND BUSINESS IN 3 WORDS. So I did, I wrote down 3 words that I wanted to describe my business and stuck it somewhere where I could see it every day. It’s a funny thing, but once I wrote down those 3 words, and seeing it every day, people started telling me (without knowing about my words), how they see my work and business, exactly pin pointing those 3 words. Defining your style and business will not only help you, but will show the outside world that you are serious about what you do, that you have a clear vision and plan.” click here to read more


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Blogging – Where to begin on CityGirlSearching

“Blogging. Everyone seems to be doing it and as a newbie blogger it can all seem very intimidating. But that's where I come in. I will be sharing with you tips for starting your blog as well as some advice for growing your blog and getting it to where you want to be.” click here to read more


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How to use Social Media to promote your businesson Sunflowersandspears

"It gets really tricky to try to understand how a hashtag(#) can help you get more recognition and an @ symbol is no longer just the middle of an email address but a way of finding people. I have become extremely passionate about Social Media and it's incredible way of turning a business that was once a name on a business card into a name on people's lips. If that is what you are craving for your new business then read on as I try to explain to you how it all helps." click here to read more


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Creating an Online Store on Happiness Is

“Ever wanted to sell your products on an online store, but didn’t because it seems scary? I’m going to give you some insight into what’s out there, best practices and what to watch out for.” click here to read more


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Networking on Coffey and cake

“We’ve all heard it before... “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and this has become so true in my journey as a young creative. Networking isn’t easy, it requires courage to step out and make that call, or organise that coffee meeting even if you aren’t sure you will have anything to talk about with the other person. However, networking is one of the most powerful first steps you can take when starting out on your own.” click here to read more


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Bridge jobs (the secret to financing your creative business)on Ruby&Swallow

Today we're talking about starting your company while you're still working. How do you juggle both, how do you make sure you don't burn out and more importantly, how you can work towards turning your business into something you can do full time? We've got some tips for you from our very own experiences in growing Ruby+Swallow.” click here to read more


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Creative or Critic: Who’s driving your business venture? on Loving Mondays

“So you’ve started your new business venture. Well done – it’s taken lots of courage! But who’s in the driving seat when decisions are made? And who is getting the most airtime when it comes to moving forward? The Creative or the Critic?” click here to read more


So there you go! A whole load of free resources to help you make get your creative business up and running, and of course, to help you in the road to success. If you have any questions, please feel free to pop a comment below and I'll get back to you.
Good luck!

x

Blogging...Where to Begin. Day 4 of our {Creative Business} Series

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Welcome to Day 4 of our Creative Business series.  So far we've had Caitlyn answer the question: 'What's the most important question to ask yourself before starting your own business?' on Caitlyn de Beer Life Coaching. Megan addressed the question: ‘Should you combine many passions or just choose one?” on Megan Galloway Growth Coach. Ilze write on: 'The importance of Professionalism – website & photo’s' on Ilze Louw Photography, and now here I am to introduce you to the world of blogging.

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Blogging. Everyone seems to be doing it and as a newbie blogger it can all seem very intimidating.

But that's where I come in. I will be sharing with you tips for starting your blog as well as some advice for growing your blog and getting it to where you want to be.

If you have any questions at anytime, feel free to pop me a line on Facebook, or drop me a comment below this post. 

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A blog is a 'mini-website' in that you ideally are able to run everything by yourself, without having to have designers make changes for you. A blog is a space for you to share what you love with the world, to journal, to keep memories and of course as a space for you to market and sell your product.

Here are some of the most popular blogging platforms, all of which cost nothing to set up:

Wordpress (to be clear I am referring to the free version of Wordpress, click here for more info), BloggerTumblr

My blog used to be on "Blogger" and that is why it had the 'blogspot' segment on the end. It is completely free and was my favourite platform due to it being so very user friendly and easy to navigate around. Also, it is implemented with Google so if you use Gmail/Google Plus etc everything works seamlessly.

Wordpress is another favorite in the blogging world, but I find it isn't as user-friendly as Blogger. But, if you have to time to fiddle and play around it can be a lot more powerful!

To go "dot com" and drop the 'blogspot/wordpress" you have to buy a domain name through a site like GoDaddy for Blogger, and through Wordpress.com for Wordpress (to learn more about the difference between Wordpress & Wordpress.org click here).

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I launched my new website (this one) last year on a relatively new platform called SquareSpace (see image above). It doesn't have a free version (only a 14 day trial for users to test to see if they like it) but with the paid for package it includes a domain name, so you don't have to worry about going through an external site like GoDaddy. And the templates are just gorgeous! Have a look for yourself...click here. Their target markets are artists (photographers, designers, small business owners and bloggers) and their platform is built on providing users with a media rich experience. Think clean lines, and beautiful design. I am so happy with them! My blog looks a lot more professional with SquareSpace and I am able to change all the design myself without any coding!

At the end of the day, what platform you choose is all about personal preference. I know people are often very interested in Wix as their marketing is very good and you often see their adverts all over Facebook, but I found Wix was to hard to make changes an their free platform is very limiting. I would stick with bloggger or make the move straight away to Squarespace if you want to be taken seriously. 

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This is a really important question to ask yourself before you even think about starting as it will form the building blocks of your business/brand. This is different for everyone. Some people enjoy seeing their words and thoughts come alive on the page, others enjoy the feeling of affirmation that comes from gaining another follower or like on Facebook. I have loved meeting new friends through my blog, as well as the outlet it has given me to be creative, something I never dreamed was possible.

Whatever your reasons are for first wanting to start your blog, write them down (I've created a fun brainstorm printable for you to download and print out to help you along your way), so when you start to feel guilty for not having written a post in months don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, go back to your list and remind yourself of the real reasons you wanted to blog in the first place, I'm sure you will feel inspired to get started again. You will go through times of frustration with your blog, and sometimes all thats needed is a little time off to feel inspired again.

BUT if the main motivation behind why you want to start a blog is to make money or to get sent items to review, then I am terribly sorry to bust your bubble but this only happens to a tiny amount of bloggers. If your main goal is to make money, your readers will very quickly pick up on this and stop reading. Your readers want to be entertained, inspired and motivated, so give them that. If you are passionate about your content your readers will be too!

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As important as the why is behind your blog, your branding is what differentiates you from everyone else and makes your blog special. If you take your blog seriously, so will everyone who reads it. One way to make that leap into the realm of 'seriousness' is by building a brand around your blog. To help you with this, you need to create a consistent message, and have everything you do, on and off the blog, send the same message. Think email signatures, blog headers, blog side bars, business cards, stamps, personalized stationery...the list is endless. And all of this needn't cost a fortune. The simplest way to build the foundation for your brand is with choosing a particular colour scheme, fonts and a basic design. You can get the help of a graphic designer if you really want to go that extra step, but the majority of the basic blogging platforms like Blogger, offer loads of customization options built into them. Think about your target audience (are they young and funky, in which case bright colours would work well. Or are they slightly older and more conventional in their thinking? Then a modern, clean and classic design and layout would probably work better).

By filling in the free mind map printable found below, you will be able to build your brand around the 'What do you love' section. If you love nature and the outdoors, your chosen colour scheme might revolve around earthy colours like khaki and emerald. Here is a great website to get your mind around colour combinations...Design Seeds. Here are a few more tips for the basic design of your blog to help you formulate your brand {click here}

After you've given some thought to your branding, now here comes the hard part. Picking a name for your blog. Your blogs' name sets the tone for your brand (and of course will have implications for showing up in google searches) so pick carefully. See who already has your name, or anything similar to it with a basic google search. Choose something that won't be outdated in a few years (and you should definitely be seeing your blog in terms of the future and "In a few years time" kind of way. 

Don't let this overwhelm you. We all have to start somewhere (click here to see my first few blog posts, eek...I'm glad I have them to look back on!) we learn by experience and our tastes change as we get older. Embrace that and let your blog grow with you into something you are proud of. 

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I find I am at my least creative when I stare at other peoples awesome blogs all day. I find I am unable to think of anything new or original to write about. How I deal with this (and I have my incredibly creative husband to thank for most of my ideas) is to go for a walk, camera in hand, and snap away at anything and everything that takes my fancy. Sometimes I take a notebook and jot down notes about my day, about the people I see around me, about the things I want to do with my life. Pretty soon I have a messy jumble of potential content for my blog. Look around your world, your office, your family, your community for idea's. Do you work with some strange and fascinating people, what about interviewing them on your blog? What about doing a post about a day in your life (with photo's of everything that makes your day unique)? The world around us is so rich with colour and life, its an endless supply of idea's if we just take the time to look.

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I used to think that my blog would become popular by just reposting great content I found on sites like We Heart It and Pinterest. I've now come to realise that there are too many mediocre blogs out there that just repost other peoples creative content. That's why I try to post original content on my blog. That doesn't mean I don't 'borrow' idea's from other bloggers, but it does mean that if I want to showcase an awesome DIY lampshade, I will try to make that lampshade myself, take my own photo's and write in my own words how to go about making one yourself. And I always make sure to link back to the original source of the idea, as a way of saying thank you for the idea.

But now I'm getting distracted...the title of this tip is to take your own photographs. You really don't have to have an amazing camera to take incredible photo's. You just need to play, and fiddle with your camera and the angles to get your photograph just right. This is how I started getting into photography. Etsy has a great article on taking better product photographs, click here to have a read.

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The most important thing with taking photo's for your blog is to take, and take, and take, and take some more! For this one photograph, it took 9 takes until I was happy with it one. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, you can always hit the delete button!

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Most bloggers would probably think I'm crazy for saying this, but for me it works. I am a very organized person, I love to plan EVERYTHING and my favourite past time is making lists (can you say *nerd*). But I find that if I spend too long planning a blog post, I lose interest in it and it stays in my draft box for weeks, even months without ever seeing the light of day. If an idea comes to mind, I straight away log onto my blog, start a new post, and I just roll with it. I try not to leave it till the next day to finish it, as I often get distracted by the next post. In some ways I find this helps me stay inspired as I am always putting new content up, and my readers know that they can come back every day or so for something new. This pressure helps me to stay motivated to continue putting posts out there!

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Your readers want to know about you, so be true to yourself. This doesn't mean gushing about each and every last detail of your day and how depressed you feel after finding out that your local Woolies Food was out of fresh basil. But rather, this means writing in your own voice and letting your personality shine through the page. Don't be scared to put yourself/your business/your idea's out there, your readers will respond to your 'genuineness'.

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This is the question I get asked the most by my readers, and it's what I still ask myself! But, I'm afraid there is not secret. There is no hard and fast way to gain 100 new followers on twitter, or to get 1000 new page views in minutes. 

You just have to be patient. You have to provide content that your readers will enjoy, and you have to do so constantly. There is nothing worse than stumbling onto an awesome blog only to see they haven't updated since last year January. A good way to share the blog love is to leave comments on other blogs that you enjoy reading. It's a wonderful feeling getting just one comment on my blog (I am speaking from my own experience here) and if that is the case with you too, then why not take some time to leave thoughtful and meaningful comments on some of your favourite blogs. Don't feel that your one comment may mean nothing if there are 999 others on the blog, as a blogger I can tell you that each and every single comment leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Take some time to connect with your favourite bloggers on Twitter and Instagram, reply to each and every tweet your receive, as well as to each comment you may get on Instagram. This helps to build meaningful and long lasting relationships with your readers and followers.

Find your niche, whatever that may be, and stick with it. I have had a real hard time in narrowing down my focus here on CityGirlSearching, I was trying to do too much and was scared to commit myself to one box. I'm not a beauty blogger, but I like writing beauty reviews, I am not a travel blogger, but I do go to some amazing places and I want to share the photographs with my readers, I'm not an expert in fashion but I do like sharing the odd outfit post. All of these different elements led me to define myself as a 'lifestyle blogger' but I still don't let that term fully define who I am here on the blog. This blog is a space for me to share pretty-ness...be it in fashion, beauty, in the home or in another country.

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Here are some of my favourite bloggers (some are local ladies, and others are International). Use this list as a guide & to learn from what these ladies are doing right. Focus on their blog design, their photographs, their content, see how they engage with their followers, and then apply it to your own blog:

Indieberries hilarious cartoons by local SA blogger Che

Nadia vd Mescht beautifully crafted blog by Durban creative Nadia

EmmaJaneNation one of the first blogs I ever started following by lovely local SA blogger Emma (her photography is gorgeous!

Vivianna Does Makeup one of my all time favourite beauty blogs written by Vivianna

A Beautiful Mess a funky and fresh lifestyle blog by Emma & Elsie

MilkTeef lovely beauty and lifestyle blog by the sweet Emma

Milk Bubble Tea such pretty-ness by Becky

WishWishWish fashion done right! A gorgeous blog by Carrie

SuperficialGirls another local SA lady; Carlinn, who focuses on fashion & beauty

PinkPeonies lovely Luzanne writes this beautiful beauty blog

PuglyPixel design tips and tutorials from the fabulous Katrina

Lost in Travels a travel blog to inspire your wonderlust (and lots of tips for traveling with your hubby, as well as keeping on a budget!) by Chelsea

Cupcakes and Cashmere a super inspiring lifestyle blog by the gorgeous Emily

I could go on for days about starting up your first blog, but the biggest piece of advice I can leave you with today is don't ever give up. I {often} have days where I feel like no one reads this blog, and that I put so much time and effort into it and I get so little back. Other days I want to high five ever person I see because I got more than 3 likes on a photograph on Facebook. If you are doing what you love, then it will never be work.

Above is a freebie printable I've created to help you in your blogging journey.

Try to fill it in before you start your blog, to give you more focus and direction. Here is mine, filled out and taped onto the wall, to help remind me of where I am and where I want go. Below is more detail to help you fill in the blog brainstorm printable.

*Why blog: jot down all the reasons you want to blog, from wanting to be a superstar celebrity to wanting to create a place to journal your thoughts and dreams. Nothing is too small or insignificant.

*What do you Love: write down all the things you love (eg family, friends, God, nature, fashion, beauty, design, interiors, photography...) then cross off those that are too personal, or those you wouldn't want to publish all over the interweb. What you are left with is a list of elements that make up you! This will help you with later on with your branding.

*Sharing your Love: list the ways in which you want to blog (through photographs, by writing, by drawing and illustrating, by creating cartoons and other graphic based content). This is how you will express yourself on your blog.

*Creating Content: List some of the ways I have outlined above here, and any others you can think of (reading other blogs, going for walks, photographing random events and elements, journaling...etc)

*Growing Readers: List some of the ways I have outlined above (networking, leaving comments on other blogs, tweeting, Facebook mentions, emailing potential clients/others in your industry) and add your own ideas too.

*Your branding: create a board on Pinterest (you can make it secret if you don't want anyone to see it just yet) and start pining every thing that takes your fancy from colours to fonts, to design, to blog layouts. Have a look at this board for some inspiration. You need to choose a maximum of 3 or 4 colours, then 2 fonts that you want to use to help keep your brand cohesive.

I hope you have enjoyed my post on blogging, and I hope that some of it has been useful to you. If you have any questions, please drop me a comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy blogging everyone

x

Getting to know you {Inspired by The Barn Blog}

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The lovely Allyssa at The Barn Blog {one of my all time favourite design blogs} did a post a short time ago entitled "Getting to Know you" as part of a series she runs aimed at getting to know her readers better. Such a lovely idea!

So, I am using her post as some inspiration here, and of course to help me get to know you better, my dear readers, better.

Here are a few questions I'd love to know your answers to. And to kick things off, below are my answers too.

1. Do you have a secret talent?
2. What is your favourite meal of the day?
3. What Disney character are you?
4. How do you take your tea/coffee?

   {That's me with my strong and sweet cup of tea!}   

 

{That's me with my strong and sweet cup of tea!}

 

1. Hmmm...I'm not sure how secret this, or how much I can call this a talent but I am pretty good at cleaning. And I'm not just talking about washing a few dishes here :) I'm talking about the kind of cleaning that needs a lot of scrubbing and plenty of elbow grease. I'm not sure why, but after scrubbing and cleaning I am always left feeling refreshed and happy. It's good for my house, and good for me (as bizarre as it might sound). Oh, I'm also pretty good at baking, even though I very rarely follow a recipe (a little of this and a little less of that goes a long way in my kitchen) and somehow the majority of my booked goods turn out to be delicious!

2. My favourite meal of the day has got to be breakfast. Throw in some pancakes, bacon, a little maple syrup, some freshly cut fruit and I am a very happy chappy.

3. I think I am most like Princess Jasmine (every girl wants to be a princess!) in that I am free-spirited, headstrong and at times very willful. Jasmine is also kind and caring, and is considered to be clever and intelligent (I like the last part!). She also has a love for adventure, and often accompanies Aladdin on his journeys.

4. I take my {TEA} strong, with milk and quite a bit of sugar...I have rather a sweet tooth!

I look forward to reading and learning more about you! 

x

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Don't forget to pop on over to Megan's blog later today where she will be addressing the question:

"Should you combine many passions or just choose one?” for the second day of our Creative Business series {CLICK HERE for more info on our series}

Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganjgalloway and on Facebook

DIY Advent Calendars {Christmas Inspiration}

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Christmas is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the end of another year and the lead up to Christmas than with a home made Advent Calendar. Christmas isn't as big here in South Korea as it is back home in South Africa, we even work right up until Christmas eve and only have Christmas day off. So, to get into the spirit, my lovely friend and fellow South African blogger Caitlyn has organized a ladies craft morning next weekend where we are all going to me making advent calendars for each other. I am very much looking forward to it, and of course I am armed with gorgeous pieces of stationery (and washi tape...don't forget about the washi tape!). 

Here are a few ideas for you, so that you too can get crafty. Don't forget to enter my Stationery Giveaway {CLICK HERE} where you can win your own pretty package of special stationery all the way from here in Korea!

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This week marks the start of our {Creative Business} series! Today Caitlyn is sharing 'What's the most important question to ask yourself before starting your own business?' on Caitlyn de Beer Life Coaching. Make sure to pop on over there today.

You can connect with Caitlyn on Twitter @caitlyndebeer and onFacebook.

Happy Weekend!

Dear lovely readers,

I found this quote floating about on the interweb and really had a good giggle when I read it. So I thought I'd pop it on a photograph of some delicious vanilla almond shortbread I baked earlier this year. I hope it makes you smile.

Happy weekend everyone!

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Don't forget about the wonderful {Creative Business} series starting on Monday, where nine lovely South African ladies will share their advice on starting your own creative business!

And of course, if you haven't done so already, make sure get your entries into my stationery competition {CLICK HERE} to win a pretty package of some of these goodies:

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Creative Series Launch... Two Weeks of Tips for starting your own {Creative Business}

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Have you ever dreamed of starting your own creative business but have had no idea where to even begin???


Starting on the 18th November, 9 of us South African bloggers and creatives we will be launching a  hugely exciting blog collaboration series where we’ll be looking at 9 of the top tips we believe you need to get started with your own creative business.

An introduction to the series: 
Let me introduce you to the lady leading us in all in this awesome series; Caitlyn de Beer. I did a photoshoot for her a little while ago (click here to see photographs of this gorgeous and talented young lady) and redesigned her new blog. Here is what this series is all about, from the lady herself:

"I started my own business just under a year ago and as one does, I have learnt so much along the way. I am so passionate about people stepping out of their comfort zones and actively pursuing their dream job. I have met a number of creative’s through my Coaching as well as my life, many of whom, have BIG dreams of starting amazing photography, jewelry, life coaching, interior design, beauty, writing, art, graphic design, image consulting and fashion, but have no idea where to begin.

In an attempt to spark that dream in your heart again, and to help bring it to life, I have put together a 9-day series called “Tips to starting your own creative business”. I do not claim to be an expert on all the areas I wanted to cover, and so I contacted a number of amazing, creative woman all of whom have started their own creative businesses in the past few years. Over the next 9 days, these women along with myself, will be sharing on topics I feel they have earned a right to be considered ‘experts’ in.
Expect to be challenged, inspired and motivated to get going with creating your dream job!!"

Now, if only I had been able to follow along in a series like this when I first started blogging. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, so here's to hoping some of these tips help you get started with your creative business!

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Here’s the coming weeks line up:

PS - I’d seriously advise subscribing to each of these blogs, so you don’t miss out on any of the awesome posts in this Series. This series of posts are NOT to be missed!! *Click each image to see more about each post

Lastly, here are 10 reasons why you should follow our series:

1. According to Startup.com, the average age for people to start their own businesses is between ages 35 – 40. Why remain ‘average’?? Make your big move now. Get something going, no matter how small it is and you’ll be 10 steps ahead of the rest of your market when you reach their age.

2. Why live another day with your talent remaining hidden from the world.

3. You can learn from our mistakes and thus save yourself time and money!

4. We even share advice on how it’s possible for you to finance your business & lifestyle, when you don’t have big startup capital available.

5. You will have our details, so if you ever need business advice in future; we will only be an email away.

6. It’s FREE!!!


7. Who knows, this series may one day be a part of your “How I became famous” story J

8. You can stay in contact with the blog collaborators and thus start building your network immediately.

9. If you leave comments on our posts, we may just ask you to write a Guest post on one of our blogs. That way, you’ll get your business out there sooner than you imagined!

10. We’ve taken the plunge and trust us, it’s the BEST decision we ever made. Now…it’s your time to shine!! 

Know someone who could benefit from our series??  Click here to tweet