Women Wednesday – the Final One

Over the last few weeks I’ve been supporting Creation Collaboration’s Women Wednesday Blog Hop. Today is the tenth and final one.

Creation|Collaboration was set up by eight women, all existing friends, who run small businesses from their homes. They started Women Wednesday blog roll to link up with other women in business, spread the word about Creation|Collaboration and basically just have fun visiting interesting blogs!
Join in each week and you could be the following weeks blog feature.
Heres how you can join in with Collaboration Women Wednesday:
  • Link up your blog name and URL to your Women Wednesday blog post using the McKLinky below (you only need to add on one blog to be seen on all of the McKLinky blog roll’s) Please note that it’s for blogs only and not links to your websites or shops.
  • Follow our Creation|Collaboration blog and the hostesses listed in the first 3 slots.
  • Grab our Women Wednesday button and feature it on your blog or Women Wednesday blog post.
  • Follow and comment saying you’re from Women Wednesday on as many blogs as you likes listed in the McKlinky box.
  • Follow back any new followers from Women Wednesday!

Turn Your Creative Skill into A Business (Part 1)

Artist and workshop leader Amelia Critchlow has turned her art into a business.  She has very kindly agreed to share the ideas and strategies that have worked for her, so over to you, Amelia!

Returning to art a few years back – I always had a yearning to study art – and finally honouring that calling has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am mother to two children: one teenager and one seven year old who has special needs and only myself at home working and parenting. I have a lovely partner, but we don’t live together.

This year I have fully committed to making my passions my income streams too.

Whilst doing my degree in art, I also took a teaching qualification to become an art tutor and workshop leader, and after having spent time teaching, finally decided to write and run my own on-line art course, geared toward those desiring to fulfil their creativity or reach their creative potential, and parents who can’t always afford to go ‘out’ to art classes because of childcare or financial constraints (or those who lack of confidence artistically).

The experimental art e-course was launched this year as an accompaniment to my already existing art practice and website. I added a blog to my website last year too which I feel has been key to creating a successful on-line creative business.

You might benefit from sitting back with a nice glass or cup of something and a notebook to hand – I am always one for ‘capturing’ ideas when they pop into my head!

Here goes with my ‘top 20’ list:

  1. Confidence: confidence is key. How you get that confidence will be down to you. It may be studying a little more to get that level of confidence you need, or develop your skill. It may be having a show, or just telling some-one your idea, but only you will know when you ‘feel’ ready.
  2. Write out or collage your dream work scenario, and how a working day would look like and feel – revel in that feeling. Clear intentions are crucial
  3. Step past the fear and make a personal commitment to your art
  4. Take it seriously – if you don’t take you and your creative business idea seriously, no-one else will either (they will forever think it’s a whimsical ‘easy’ hobby – it isn’t!)
  5. Carve out time dedicated to pursuing your dream job – an hour an evening/week, an afternoon when kids are at nursery/school. LEAVE the housework whilst you get going on this
  6. Buy yourself some time: if money is an issue save up enough money to live on for a few months without having to do any other work and ‘buy’ yourself some time to launch your business (I did this by saving up, getting some-one to cover my other job, and taking a cut in income). Or work part time and cultivate your own business in the evenings (I no longer watch TV as I prefer to do my own art related work)
  7. Research: research those who are making it ‘work’ in your eyes. look at their websites, research their CV’s and/or ask them out to lunch to pick their brains – I did this and it was the best research and fun day out too! I grabbed ideas from this book: The Four Hour Work Week.
  8. Keep an ‘ideas’ book with you at all times, starting from NOW. I sleep with a notebook next to my bed, and I carry a notebook in my handbag, you never know when you will read, see, hear or get an idea for your art or business
  9. List out your current resources: think of all the things you have right now that you can use to start up that cost you nothing: the web (website, blog or network forums), people, your own hands/voice/personality, printer, phone, computer, camera, knowledge, skill, pen, paper, ideas etc
  10. Action: action is so key to starting off. One action always leads to another one. The minute I graduated from my art degree I applied to do an open house art show (at home) with my local borough. I didn’t think. I filled in the form, paid the cheque and made art for a few months. I was so nervous, but so glad I did it. Doing leads to new ‘happenings’: I met people, got invited to participate in shows, sold work and more. Other actions: start a blog or website. (My art website is with www.clikpic.com and my blog with www.blogspot.com the first is cheap, the other is free). Have a launch party at home, send an editorial to a magazine, make enough stock for an etsy shop: www.etsy.com

Amelia continues with Turn Your Creative Skill Into a Business in Part 2.

How Rachel is Helping Mums of Tiny Little Babies

We all have happy memories of our baby’s milestones. The first smile, the first giggle, eating solids, sitting up. But what if your baby’s milestones were having your first cuddle at ten days of age or coming off a ventilator?

Rachel Ashley’s son Joshua was born premature in 2006 with an underlying heart condition. He was very ill and was taken straight into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where he spent the next four weeks. Rachel says:

“A nurse on the unit advised me to keep a record of his progress and my feelings and gave me a blank notebook to record this in. Something so simple became very important.

That notebook holds the most precious memories and milestones that my ‘normal’ baby record book did not have pages for, for example on his ‘first’ photo he was on CPAP* with cardiac monitors, lines and a nasogastric tube. I didn’t have my first cuddle until he was ten days old, his first bath was by a nurse on NICU and we spent his first christmas on the unit.”

Rachel created a special baby record book for other mums of premature babies, which you can buy at tinylittlebaby.co.uk. It has those pages that other record books don’t, plus an extra large keepsake box to store the bulky mementoes that come from the NICU.For each book that’s sold, Rachel makes a donation to charities that support babies who need special care.

“To keep him alive when he was born, Joshua needed Curosurf, Nitric Oxide, Dopamine, Frusemide, Spirolatctone, Iv Benzyl Penicillin, Gentamicini, Mettronidazole, Aciclovir, Flucloxacillin and IV Dextrose not forgeting the high frequency osculation and ventilation to keep him breathing and phototherapy for jaundice.  It was nice to look back through my own note book and see the lines and IV’s be slowly removed day by day as he came off the cocktail of medication. It makes you realise how far he has come.”

I wanted to write this post about Rachel and Joshua for two reasons. Firstly, if anyone you know has a premature baby, then  you might be able to offer them some support by telling them about this book, or even buy it for them.

Secondly, I had two healthy full-term babies. I don’t know of anyone who has had a premature baby, so I have no personal experience. But reading about those milestones that I totally took for granted (needing ventilation and a cocktail of drugs, that first cuddle after they are born) made me realise how lucky I am.

“Joshua is now three-and-a-half and doing really well (as you can see from the photo). He has a lot of ongoing issues – a congenital heart defect not related to him being premature and he has hemipligia and epilepsy cause by bilateral interventricular heamorrages ( two brain bleeds he had at three and five days old, one on each sides of his brain). He is still under a peadiatrician, cardiologist, neurologist urologist, epilepsy nurse, physiotherapist, and a speech & language therapist though it sound a lot worse than it is. To see him running around you would never guess he had any ongoing health problems.”

Many mums have business ideas that spring from personal passion or experience. I don’t think you could get much more personal than this.


Rachel Ashley is the owner of tinylittlebaby.co.uk

*CPAP stands for  continuous positive airway pressure it delivers pressurized air to the baby’s lungs through small tubes in the baby’s nose or through a tube that has been inserted into his windpipe. CPAP helps a baby breathe, but it does not breathe for him.

Review: The Virtual Assistant Handbook – Nadine Hill

Ever considered being a virtual assistant?

If you’re not sure what a virtual assistant (or VA) is, here’s a quick introduction. A VA works remotely on tasks like administration, bookkeeping, event organisation, telephone answering and personal assistance. Small businesses who need admin support but don’t want an employee can hire a VA by the hour. VAs usually work from their own home and many never meet their clients face-to-face. (You can read more in Business Ideas For Mums: Virtual Assistant.)

The Virtual Assistant Handbook is the only guide for UK-based VAs. I’m not just saying that as a compliment, it really is the only one! Fortunately, it’s an excellent book.

Being a VA appeals to lots of mums because many have administration experience, but self employment is far more flexible than being employed. Sounds great so far? Not surprisingly, there are a few snags along the way, but this book deals with all of them in turn.

First of all, Nadine explains that being a VA is not for you if you want to be handed work and to then quietly get on with it. A client will be looking for a self-starter, someone with their own ideas who isn’t afraid to ‘manage’ them. You will also need to get out there and look for work (not always easy if you’re used to getting things done behind-the-scenes). The VA handbook gives you plenty of useful advice on how to do this, even if you know nothing about marketing.

Nadine talks about her own experience of starting a VA business throughout and shares the challenges she encountered and the lessons she has learned. Finding clients (online, networking, PR and more), getting started, setting a price, selling extra services and future development are all covered in a clear, honest and practical way.

If you’re thinking of starting out as a virtual assistant in the UK, this is essential reading.

You can buy The Virtual Assistant Handbook from Amazon.

Photo: RLHyde