You do WHAT for a living?

I sometimes get asked what my job is. Specifically, as a writer: where/what do you write? How does a writer make money? Are you paid for your blog? Is there a day job we don't know about? Those sorts of things.

hey girl, get a job!

It's a funny little gig. I worked in the corporate world for years and years and never had that "dream" of someday making it as a writer. My dream was to feel inspired creatively. To work with people I love. To continually train my 'eye.' To learn about art forms of all types. And, eventually that lead to writing. 

Honing in on what that truly meant for a j-o-b took a little time. 

Something I don't specifically "advertise" much (in whatever meaning that word has these days) is the other part of my job. Consulting work. I've grown that part of my business organically, word of mouth mostly. 

So truly here's what my job is:

  • As stated: I'm a writer. As lots of you know I have a book coming out this fall (and published book #1 in '14). I write this blog, which means I have sponsored posts both here and on instagram too, and those sponsorships are specific to brands that I already love and am thrilled to share with you all. Plus I occasionally contribute to other sites or publications too. 
  • Secondly: I'm a creative concepter. So what exactly does that mean? Well first I'll back up. In 2011 I launched a company (which I've talked about in previous brand posts) that produced fashion events. My team produced upwards of 50 fashion & design focused events a year. Our targets: influencers, media, buyers and tastemakers. Before that my corporate job was with a beauty brand for 10+ years. I worked in sales, marketing, operations and more. 

In 2016 I shifted my focus. I believe the future for creatives often lies in the digital world and experiential concepts. 

So presently: As a creative concepter I have clients of all types: authors, educators, bloggers, and beauty brands to name a few, of which I create digital strategies for. Some days I'm coaching them on their digital presence. Some days my team and I develop websites and some days it's look books, Instagram and Facebook pages, and it's all with a goal of attracting new business directly through the digital space. 

Here's a few examples of our clients whose stuff I'm just loving right now.

Instagram page for @butteryourlife

Instagram page for @butteryourlife

First is Life Butter Radio. Life Butter is a podcast and blog out of London dedicated to both celebrating and demystifying wellness and beauty. It's a place where science meets lifestyle. For Life Butter our focus is to develop aesthetically brilliant social media pages filled with copy and images that speak to what the host of the show shares on the podcast and blog. 

Cinderella Chats website

Cinderella Chats website

Second is Cinderella Chats. Cinderella (yes that's her real name) is an author and creative, whose talents include not only writing, but wedding planning, workshop and event hosting, speaking and more. For Cinderella our goal was to build a website filled with girly sparkle that will attract women of all ages to celebrate each other. Cinderella's mission was key to our strategy: encouraging women to keep their heads up and standards high!

Paris Parker Salons & Spas website

Paris Parker Salons & Spas website

Third is Paris Parker Salons & Spas. Paris Parker is a beauty company with 9 salon and spa locations: their mantra: “be your best self, live your best life.” Our work for Paris Parker involves image concepting, seasonal look book development and social media strategy and execution.  


I'm sharing this with you today for a few reasons. I'm often asked what first steps to take when building a brand strategy if your budget is teeeeeneeeensy.

Or, how to build a strategy when you're starting from scratch or relaunching your business for example. Or, how to create a blog when you can't pay a developer tens of thousands of dollars, and even if you can, how do you get people to actually read it?

I'm excited to speak on this exact topic at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (p.s. this part's a shameless plug and I beg all of you in New Orleans to pretty please come to my class and hang with me, we'll have fun I promise). Plus, I've started an e-book series on the topic as well. 

So whether it's developing a website, a digital look book, or creating a social media plan there's a strategy to it all. My first e-book covers the basics. (There's a link below to get it!)

Building Brand Me: Part 1

It includes an overview on the most popular social media channels, questions to ask yourself when determining your market, an overview of the apps I recommend for iPhone photos and a few do's and don'ts when creating social media posts. 

Part 2 is coming next, it'll focus on developing your brand voice. No matter what you're doing: launching a new blog, building your instagram page, creating an online shop, you're voice is key. How your potential readers/followers/shoppers 'hear' you determines what conversation they'll be willing to have back.

A note: what we don't focus on is how to reach 10K followers on instagram for example, because our goal is dedicated and engaged customers for our clients. The real deal brand "you" takes time and commitment to content and relationships, we believe the "followers' will come with a commitment to being your best digital self (and your best IRL self too, of course). 

If you're interested in receiving part 2 and other brand strategy tips sign up for my e-mail list here!

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I hope the e-book is helpful to you all! Feel free to share it with friends and let me know how it's working for you. In the meantime, my team (all #girlbosses in their own right) and I are working quickly to get Part 2 ready for you. And! Be sure to give a listen to Life Butter, a hello! to Cinderella and a follow to Paris Parker

Plus, here's a few goodies to dress up your office. 

Thanks for being here you guys!

xo,

Andi

How An Entreprenuer Overcomes the Impostor Sydrome

This week I wrote a contributing piece for The Distillery, the blog for Idea Village and New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. I'm sharing the full post below, and some additional insights in hopes that it'll give you future (or existing) entrepreneurs the push you need to go after your own dream!

Here's the article in full:

Only in the past six months when someone asks me the inevitable cocktail party question –  “What do you do, Andi?” have I become comfortable with giving an answer. Perhaps that seems odd since I’ve written a blog for three years now, and I published my first book in 2014 to great reviews. “I am a writer” would be a fair answer. I’ve also worked in other creative industries and I’ve designed clothing and have had a showroom for a year. “I’m a stylist” or “I’m a brand manager” would be good answers too.

But here’s the truth.

Writing that statement above is challenging for me. I don’t consider myself an expert in any of those fields, and answering that cocktail question with “I’m a _______.” makes my knees shake.

Most of us have heard of the imposter syndrome -the psychology of internalizing our accomplishments with fears that we are a “fraud”. If you’ve ever been that person I’m talking to at that cocktail party, when I casually respond with, “I’m a writer, and I have a boutique branding company" here’s how I really feel:

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! OMG I’M DROWNING! WHERE’S THE MAKE ME INVISIBLE SWITCH!

Why? Because I assume that your first thought will be: “Oh yeah? What Best Seller list are you on? I would know who you are if you were really a writer.” or something along those lines.

In one of my favorite books, The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield says: “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

For me, however, the imposter syndrome didn’t hit me until I decided to strike out on my own.

I’m currently working on my second book. It’s a girl’s guide to traveling stylishly, and it is being published by a fantastic and reputable publisher in New York. I’ve spent the past six months traveling, writing and preparing for what I hope to be the biggest achievement of my professional life to date. There are (often) mornings that I wake up and I am mind blown that I get to do this for a living.

Here’s the backstory:

After college, I spent 12 years in the beauty industry. I hustled like hell to move up the corporate ladder, worked 80 hours per week minimally, and traveled non-stop. I would do anything for the client! In those days I had no trouble with sharing who I was, and what I did.

Here's me, far left. Right out of college with no idea what the world ahead would hold.

Here's me, far left. Right out of college with no idea what the world ahead would hold.

What was different? I worked for someone and they saw value in me, and so I behaved how I assumed they viewed me. I was in my twenties, and the job and promotions defined me. This was on my list of what was important: a fabulous shoe collection (“best shoe award goes to…”), a house with a pool, a weekly salon appointment (straight hair, totally cared).

I was probably more of a counterfeit innovator than I’d like to believe. But what I know now is that giving up that six figure job, opening myself up to vulnerability and potential failure, and then actually failing a few times until I was counting every last penny, freed the artistic entrepreneur inside of me, and released extraordinary possibilities.

In 2011, I founded a company that focused on giving independent fashion designers a platform to show their work. The second I began working for myself, the self-appointed “creative director” “producer” and “designer” things changed.

I had to muster a different type of confidence. There would no longer be a boss to impress to give me the assurance that I was excelling in my role. There was no time for paralysis.

It started when I was on a plane to Vegas for a trade show; I ended up sitting with Kathleen Turpel, the owner of Imaginal Marketing. She and I had been beauty industry friends for quite a few years, she’s a marketing powerhouse,  and I decided to run an idea by her. I started by showing her some photos I’d styled (“I’m a stylist!”) in partnership with a local designer and proposed the idea of showcasing independent fashion designers (those sewing at home in their kitchens), at a fashion festival. We’d create beautiful editorials to market the program, invite industry insiders, and, well, New Orleans loves a festival, so surely people would show up! Right?

By the time the plane landed, we’d planned the first NOLA Fashion Week. We brainstormed for three hours on that flight and then, declaring it into existence with Kathleen’s guru level marketing wisdom, it took on the speed of a rolling snowball. I called a few designers, sat down with some PR gals in town, and everybody was game. The community and the industry showed up and supported.

Editorial images shot for our first NOLA Fashion Week website (above and below).

Editorial images shot for our first NOLA Fashion Week website (above and below).

Website redesign, 2013 in partnership with Imaginal Marketing.

Website redesign, 2013 in partnership with Imaginal Marketing.

The floor layout at New Orleans Museum of Art. Production notes from 2013.

The floor layout at New Orleans Museum of Art. Production notes from 2013.

I look back sometimes and can’t believe what we pulled off. In the end, that program wasn’t financially successful. I had challenges with a business partner, and learned a million lessons. However, it opened up my eyes and so many other doors. That process happened again when I started my branding company, and when I pitched my first book concept.

After reading Rebecca Rebouche’s story, “Army of One” I thought she articulated what that shift feels like brilliantly: “You have to be the one that flies in the face of doubt, including your own, to believe. When you’re a person with a vision, you’re the only one with the vision. You birthed the vision, so you have to carry it. No one else can see it as vividly as you see it.”

Now that I am reflecting back on how I gathered the confidence to execute on my personal vision, four things stand out as the keys to success:

1. Make the Declarative Statement.

I’m a writer (insert that thing you want to be here) and I have something the world needs to see. That statement is my battle cry. Freeing yourself of constraints and the idea that someone else determines who and what you’ll be and what gift you have to share allows for enormous possibilities.

2. Allow in the Guide.

Each time I’ve stated my vision with battle cry like force someone has shown up who could see the potential in it and offered me affirmation, direction, and support. They’ve said, “Get to work on this thing, and by the way I’m here to help.” Every time, that guide knew way more than I possibly did about my potential undertaking. The successes I’ve experienced while being true to my vision have been supported by graciously brilliant women who offered their expertise and mentorship.

3. Do the Work and Do the Work You Love.

Once the troops are on board, the real work begins, and the real work never, ever ends. Each time you take on a new project, the key is without a doubt, to do the work, and do the work you love. Be a student of your art. Study it to the depths and wake up every single day prepared to run farther than you’ve ever run before. Be that warrior for your calling. Even when failures happen, (they will), fail fast and move forward.

4. Give Yourself Ten Minutes.

When your brain does what mine does at that cocktail party and asks: “Who do YOU think you are?” “What gives YOU the right?” You’re NO expert in this.” Allow yourself no more than ten minutes of that, and then move on. Time yourself if you have to, just don’t let it go on for any longer than that.

When we meet at that party, now you know when I make a break for the champagne or see me hanging by the cheese tray just a little too long, this is exactly what I’m doing. Now, it’s your time. Go for it and give it all you’ve got. And in that second you start to doubt yourself remember to give yourself ten minutes and:

Make that declaration, envision one of those brilliant guides cheering you on, and prepare to hustle for what you love the moment you come back up for air.

From the Distillery - Editor’s Note: Andi Eaton’s second book will be out next Spring 2017 with Abrams Publishing. It is a girl’s guide to the best road trips exploring America’s most unique and hidden gems, and famous locales. Artists, fashion mavens, and music makers will share personal stories and guides for every girl with a wanderlust spirit.



So! There it is. A few little things I'll add:

* Don't hang on to something to satisfy your own ego... or to save face, I suppose. Thinking back, there was a time for each of these past projects to end. NOLA Fashion Week had a great run, however, it was a massive financial drain, something we never shared with the general public. My showroom for H&F was a dream, however I was in serious personal transition. What I'm doing now is exactly right for me, at this point in my life. I was so afraid to let go of both NOLAFW and H&F because if I did, OH! What would people think.

Glad I got over that. Letting go of the past constraints opened the doors I needed.

* Don't follow the traditional path, if you don't want to. Go to your own "school" if that's what's available to you. For example: I didn't go to styling school, however I read every issue of Vogue from 1991 on, I own all of the "Editor's Eye" books and studied them like my life depended on it. You can do that too.

Feel free to reach out you guys. We're a community, us creative entrepreneurs.  

xo,

Andi

Building Brand Me | Part deux

Hi guys,

This is part 2 of my building "brand me" post series! In the first post I shared some strategies I used to create what has become my brand's voice and the things that worked when launching my first company and the things working for my clients. 

I was having a conversation with a client the other day, and in that convo we talked about how weird it can feel when you're putting yourself out as a "brand." And honestly, in that conversation we both agreed that in the digital world, everyone, whether they know it or not, exists in that way.

Think about it this way: if you're interviewing for a job, what do you think the hiring manager often does first? They check out your social pages of course. If you're the boss, you know - you totally do this. Another example: when you meet someone new, same thing so often, you're checking that person's facebook, instagram, and asking around about them of course, but you want to see if their life, their personal brand, aligns with yours. And in dating relationships? Well, if you're not checking these things first you're either lying or crazy!

So back to that Creative Entrepreneurs conference I talked about (and the first post on this subject) once we determine the basics of what we want to communicate in our posts (mine was this: telling a vibrant story of my travels and experiences through photos and words AND sharing creative self exploration that my readers can identify with) and once we have the tools (I talked about the photo editing apps that I love) the next step is determining your tone and formula. Here's what I mean.

I have a holistic beauty business client that I work with. When creating their post plan each week (this goes for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, et al) we start with tone.

Their tone:

inviting & informative

Their intention is to invite new and existing people in to have a real life experience in their salons and spas and when those people leave they want to ensure they have up to date information on how to care for their hair, skin, body and overall life.

So the next thing we determined is their formula:

Beauty Images + Wellness Stories + Product + Service + Community

Another example, a client I work with is an author, public speaker and business coach.

Her tone: inspirational & authentic

And formula: Behind the scenes/a day in her life + What she's reading + Inspirational quotes + Her coaching programs + Her blog

And now, here's mine:

Me (@Oui We Girl)

tone: dreamy & adventurous

formula: Travels + New Orleans specific + Fashion + Music + BTS/Life

Here's the real life example, photos I've shared and then some notes on my captions too.

My caption opened with the emoji rock n roll hand and then the copy "Jacket by Wunderleathers, backpack from Galian Handbags. Taken at the Georgia Theater by Ben Alleman" (this is a fashion x music x travel post!)

My caption opened with the emoji rock n roll hand and then the copy "Jacket by Wunderleathers, backpack from Galian Handbags. Taken at the Georgia Theater by Ben Alleman" (this is a fashion x music x travel post!)

The caption on this one was all emojis all the way. That king cake speaks for itself: dreamy New Orleans!

The caption on this one was all emojis all the way. That king cake speaks for itself: dreamy New Orleans!

Caption: Quarter Cabs. This one is all about New Orleans, and the Mardi Gras spirit, and ideally it makes you want to travel here.

Caption: Quarter Cabs. This one is all about New Orleans, and the Mardi Gras spirit, and ideally it makes you want to travel here.

This one is as behind the scenes as it gets. Well, ok, I decluttered, moved a half eaten apple I'd had for breakfast and laid things out a bit different than my normal desk set up looks... but you get the idea.

This one is as behind the scenes as it gets. Well, ok, I decluttered, moved a half eaten apple I'd had for breakfast and laid things out a bit different than my normal desk set up looks... but you get the idea.

This photo taken on the edge of the Spillway as the water rushed through included a quote caption: "An awaken heart is like a sky that pours light." Adventurous and dreamy, I hope!

This photo taken on the edge of the Spillway as the water rushed through included a quote caption: "An awaken heart is like a sky that pours light." Adventurous and dreamy, I hope!

My challenge to you: Determine your tone and formula, choose a category and craft your posts. I swear, I find that when we hold each other accountable to this, like find a friend that is working on their "brand me" too and all of a sudden you'll find that every message you're putting out starts to land exactly where you want it. So, here - I'll be your brand me friend. Let me know how it's going! Tag me, comment and all that good stuff and we'll help each other out!

Thanks for hanging around! Hope this is helpful!

xoxo,

Andi



Building Brand Me

Hi hi,

Hope you guys are all having a good start to the year! I'm reporting from my desk that's buried in end of the week work and I'm definitely not wearing this swinging 60's number I shared on instagram a few days back. This post is a little different from my usual actually - I'm sharing a little bit of some of the things I've been working on in my first of the year projects.

Specifically last week I spoke at a Creative Entrepreneurs conference; the attendees were insanely inspiring…. Mostly women, a few gents, all one-woman-show (or man) types of businesses in which they are considered to be experts in their field. They're all in process of launching some sort of online course, some already have existing programs and quite a few have businesses bringing in well over $100k/year. Not too shabby. 

So when I was asked to speak, the request was that I talk about how to build “brand me.” What strategies I used to create my voice, my brand's voice and when launching my first company, or when working with clients what approach I take to get attention. 

I was a little hesitant - in the instagram world it’s easy to feel defeated…. so many brands, especially “brand me’s” out there have upwards of 100k followers - and I’m just tipping the 6k mark. 

However, what’s always been important to me is to stay true to who I am. I'm not the girl to share shopping posts with links to sales... I barely shop sales myself, so that's not my style of fashion. I like art, exploration, adventure, with a little fashion peppered in. And, that’s lead to good little following here (thanks you guys!) and now I’m working on book #2 with a killer publisher (which was my big goal for 2016)!

I got over my moment of imposter syndrome and started planning. As I was preparing for the conference I thought a lot about what’s important to me when creating a post and it’s these thing:

Telling a vibrant story of my travels and experiences through photos and words

Sharing creative self exploration that my readers can identify with

One of the things the conference attendees asked the most about was how to create compelling content on their own blogs and social media pages. 

Sooo many of them told me its was helpful to them (whew!), so I wanted to share my lesson back with you guys here.

However, before I get into the lessons, I've got a list below of my favorite photo editing apps - because before you can start to build a well curated page (and trust me, I look back at some of my stuff and am like.... wutttt was that) you've got to have the right tools.

In full disclosure, I took these photos with my DSLR camera (and I'm definitely no pro) and I am not discounting the power of having professionally shot photos for your business or brand, however, if you're working on the slimmest of budgets, or just want to build a fabulous instagram page these apps will do the trick.

VSCO (Visual Supply Company) - gives your photos a beautiful film like look

A Color Story - brand new and bound to be a game changer, this one creates vibrant whites and enriched color and has a ton of special effect options too

Priime - great for landscapes, created by pro photographers, this one will give you recommendations based on the look you’re trying to achieve

All of the photos I'm sharing in this post were edited with one of these three apps. My go to has been VSCO for a long time, however I'm really digging what's available in the other two.

Once you've got the apps downloaded start playing around and see what you get! Creating compelling content requires great visuals and engaging copy and next week I'll be back to break down my tips around that! In the meantime, I'd love to see what you guys are doing on instagram and on your own blogs with these apps, so be sure to share, follow, tag, all that good stuff!


p.s. if you're interested in having a convo about working with myself and my team on your own brand, feel free to be in touch! 

xoxo,

Andi