Create & Thrive Reviews ~ Designed to Sell

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Jess and I were SO excited to review Designed to Sell – The Unconventional Guide to Creative Freedom by Jen Adrion and Omar Noory.

We’ve been holding our breaths waiting for it to come out for months and now it’s finally here!

We know you are going to love this one.

 

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Designed to Sell

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By: Jen Adrion and Omar Noory

Famous for: These Are Things, one of the coolest shops full of illustrated maps.

 

What It Includes:

  • 139 page e-book
  • Interviews and advice from 13 full-time makers
  • Ultimate pricing toolkit
  • A master to-do list to get you to creative freedom
  • Directory of creative resources
  • And much more!

 

Why We Loved It:

I don’t even know where to begin.  This guide can be used in two big ways.

 

1. If you haven’t officially started your business yet, this guide shows you how to analyse your talents and passions and build a successful business around them.

2. If you’ve been in business for a while, this guide helps you re-assess and dig down into what products will really make your business take off to be your full-time job.

Creative Freedom - Designed to Sell - Review by Create & Thrive
A tiny excerpt from Designed to Sell…

 

I loved how it included advice and insights from makers from all different industries.  You can learn so much from a screenprinter or a retail shop owner even if you’re not one yourself.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the novel concept that this book goes from the very beginning of your business through growth and first sales all the way to hiring help and going full-time.

Most guides stop once you have your shop set up. This one takes you into 5 or more years of business.

It covers everything you need to know in 5 Parts – from actually coming up with your ‘Big Idea’ through planning, implementation, getting started, marketing, and more. And it’s laser-focussed at people just like you and me – people who want to create a physical product with passion and care – and make real money doing it.

Did I mention that Chris Guillebeau had a hand in setting this up? It’s one of his Unconventional Guides.

If you weren’t convinced that you need to add this book to your ‘must read’ business shelf yet, then that little tidbit should tip the scales.

 

Check out more about the guide here.

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C&T Trees: 5 out of 5!

 

C&T Tree Rating - 5 out of 5

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Yes, it’s our first 5-tree review. It’s that good.

 

{A note from Jess: There are a phenomenal amount of useful and informative books/ebooks/courses out there – so how do you choose which ones are right for you? Megan & I decided to start a monthly review series here on the blog where we share our favourites with you. If you know of a great book or info product out there that you think we should take a look at, make sure to contact us and let us know about it!  Disclaimer: C&T is an affiliate of some of these products. We give honest reviews and only recommend stuff we think is genuinely useful and practical.}

 

C&T Reviews: Roadmap to Action

 

 

 

 

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Do you know where your business is going this week?  This month?  This year?

Have you plotted out a road map to ensure you’re always moving forward and staying on track?

Being your own boss doesn’t mean flying by the seat of your pants.  It means figuring out where you want to go and how to get there using those beautiful, inherent things that make you you!

 

Roadmap to Action

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By: Laura Simms  {Review by Megan E}

Famous for: Being the amazing career coach behind Create as Folk

 

What It Includes:

  • Roadmap to Action e-book
  • 13 extra printable planners (including a blog calendar, a blog idea generator, a project planner, and many more fun planning sheets)

 

Why We Loved It:

Unlike other planners, this one actually helps you eliminate tasks via prioritization, outsourcing help, and showing you how to take a bird’s eye view of your business.

Let’s face it, most planners tell you how to do it all.  Laura wants you to focus instead on the things that you NEED to do to keep on the right road to your success.  Her e-book is full of self-inquiry prompts that help you get real about where you want your business to go and what success looks like for you.  In this book (and in your business), there are no right and wrong answers, just the ones that work for you.

So what are you waiting for?  If you’ve been feeling a bit of a jealous pang when you see other makers getting huge press, making hundreds of sales, or joining up with big producers, it’s time to take action and plot out your own road map.  I can assure you that every successful maker knows exactly what path their business is on for the next week, the next month, and the next year.  So join the club!

 

Check out more about the e-book here.

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C&T Trees: 4 out of 5!

C&T Tree Rating - 4 out of 5

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{A note from Jess: There are a phenomenal amount of useful and informative books/ebooks/courses out there – so how do you choose which ones are right for you? Megan & I decided to start a monthly review series here on the blog where we share our favourites with you. If you know of a great book or info product out there that you think we should take a look at, make sure to contact us and let us know about it!  Disclaimer: C&T is an affiliate of some of these products. We give honest reviews and only recommend stuff we think is genuinely useful and practical.}

C&T Reviews: Two 2014 Planning Workbooks to Help you Have your Best Year in Biz Yet!

two 2014 workbooks planners for your best ever year in business

Now is the time to start planning for 2014.

If you wait until December 31st, you’ll have lost out on a lot of opportunities to set things in place to ensure your best year yet.

This month, since we’re focussing on planning for 2014, we have a one-two punch – two fabulous biz planning guides! I have reviewed the first, and Jess has reviewed the second.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Your Best Year: 2014 – Productivity Workbook and Creative Business Planner

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By: Lisa Jacobs {Review by Megan E}

Famous for: Marketing Creativity and her business, Energy Shop Jewelry

What It Includes:

  • 200 pages of prompts, goal-setting exercises, goal-prioritizing exercises, and hard questions
  • Printable planners and calendars

Why We Loved It:

This planner is longer than most, 15 months instead of 12, and it really breaks down each quarter and month in new ways.  You set your monetary and marketing goals each month and then devise your strategies for reaching them.

Before you get started though, Lisa has a lot of hard questions for you to answer to see which path you need to pursue to take in the money you want.   You’ll break down your revenue streams, identify what success means to you, and plan how you’re going to meet your goals.  Lisa also put in quarterly reviews to keep yourself accountable for your success.

The best part?  Monthly overview pages!  These allow you to see the bigger picture for your business as well as chart your growth and success month to month.  So often we focus only on the day to day stuff when really we need to keep the bigger goals in mind to make big leaps in our business.

Check out more about the workbook here.

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C&T Trees: 4 out of 5!

C&T Tree Rating - 4 out of 5

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BIZPLANTASTIC – biz planning for dreamers and doers

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By: Karen Gunton {Review by Jess}

Famous for: Build a Little Biz and a wealth of e-books on marketing and branding

What It Includes:

  • Instruction, ideas, and examples of planning strategies that you can apply to your biz
  • Inspiration to help you stay focused and get excited about your plans
  • 11 printable planners that you can customize & use in multiple ways

Why We Loved It:

This is WAY more than just a planner. In fact, it compliment’s Lisa’s planner perfectly.

The printable planners in here are great (as are the sweet printable motivational posters sprinkled throughout) – but the REAL gold is in the instructional part of the book.

Karen takes you through a top-down planning process for your business:

vision > goals > strategies > plans > tasks

She guides you through ideas, strategies, and examples for each level of planning, and encourages you to really find your own path.

I love her perspective too – that what she’s written (while exhaustive in detail!) is just a guide and an example – she’s not telling you the ‘right way to do it’. Instead, she’s doing what all truly great teachers do – give you the knowledge you need and then encourages you to find your own path and way of using that knowledge.

I sat down with a glass of wine the other night and worked through this book, and I have a MUCH clearer overall vision for my own 2014, as well as some dug-down goals and strategies to make my vision a reality.

{Warning for fellow INTJ/Grammar Nazi’s – Karen writes without capitals. If non-traditional grammar usually makes you twitch, please trust me when I say it’s WORTH IT in this case! Also: if case you missed it, we reviewed another of Karen’s products – Build Your Visual Marketing Mojo – last month.}

Check out more about the workbook here.

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C&T Trees: 4.5 out of 5!

C&T Tree Rating - 4.5 out of 5

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 BONUS TIP

Another great planner we came across this week is Jessica Swift’s 2014 Goal + Intention Kit.

We haven’t had a chance to take a look at it, but check it out!

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Image source: Love from Ginger

{A note from Jess: There are a phenomenal amount of useful and informative books/ebooks/courses out there – so how do you choose which ones are right for you? Megan & I decided to start a monthly review series here on the blog where we share our favourites with you. If you know of a great book or info product out there that you think we should take a look at, make sure to contact us and let us know about it!  Disclaimer: C&T is an affiliate of some of these products. We give honest reviews and only recommend stuff we think is genuinely useful and practical.}

C&T Reviews: Build Your Visual Marketing Mojo by Karen Gunton

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{A note from Jess: There are a phenomenal amount of useful and informative books/ebooks/courses out there – so how do you choose which ones are right for you? Megan & I decided to start a monthly review series here on the blog where we share our favourites with you. If you know of a great book or info product out there that you think we should take a look at, make sure to contact us and let us know about it! Now, on to the review, take it away, Megan…}

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Our good friend Karen Gunton of build a little biz just created an amazing e-book that is the culmination of her passionate drive to help creative business owners harness the power of visual marketing.

We’re a visual culture and nowadays an image says much more than a thousand words.

Images get shared more on Facebook, images express your brand to someone at a glance, and image turn lookers into buyers.

So why not use that to your advantage?  With Karen’s book you can Build Your Visual Marketing Mojo.

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Build Your Visual Marketing Mojo

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By: Karen Gunton

Famous for: Build a Little Biz and a wealth of e-books on marketing and branding

What It Includes:

  • 52-page e-book
  • Tons of brainstorming assignments
  • A brand style guide
  • A strategy guide
  • A long list of photo resources
  • Printable planners

 

Why We Loved It:

There’s no denying that images sell and Karen has made it SO EASY to create a visual marketing strategy for your business.

She walks you through every step of the process, from all the different types of visual content to detailing what your brand stands for.

Her book covers product photography, banners, testimonial images, brand messages, and even the images on your site itself.  Oh, and lots more!

After working through this book, you will have created highly sharable images that not only look professional but that people instantly recognize as ‘yours’.  But more than that, you’ll have an action plan of how to use those images to get people aligned with your business and ready to come to you this holiday season for their shopping.

The best part?  You can create these images using free technology and just a few simple techniques!  Thank you, Karen!!

Check out more about the workbook here.

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C&T Trees: 4 out of 5!

C&T Tree Rating - 4 out of 5

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P.S. If you get the C&T email updates, make sure to keep an eye out for today’s email… Karen is offering our email subscribers an extra-special deal…

{Disclaimer: C&T is an affiliate of this product. We give honest reviews and only recommend stuff we think is genuinely useful and practical.}

An Unexpectedly Meaty Sandwich ~ The $100 Startup {Review}

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Last week, I sent a forlorn email to Chris…

‘Chris, my review copy* of The $100 Startup hasn’t arrived, and I’m dying to read it! Could the publishers perhaps send another?’

I was hoping it was just because I was in Australia, and was the victim of cross-Pacific shipping delay, but was concerned that my book had gone awry. And I was really, really keen to read it after seeing reviews and chatter about it popping up all over the interwebs.

In typical Chris style, he got back to me within, like, 10 minutes with a ‘sure thing!’.

Wouldn’t you know it – later on that morning I went to the post office, only to find the book had finally arrived. Seems I had been a victim of the Australian Customs Service and Murphy’s Law, instead. Happily, I got back to him before he got a second copy sent out, and I set about digging in to Chris’s lastest gem.

I knew it would be tasty, but I had no idea just how meaty The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau would prove to be.

You’ve got 2 options – a 2 1/2 minute vid review and/or the written review below!

Before I read it, I didn’t actually realise how much of a ‘how-to’ manual this was – so I was pretty damn excited when I realised all the juiciness that was to be found between the covers. {Wow, how’s that for a mixed metaphor, hmm?}

The book is divided into 3 parts:

  • Unexpected Entrepreneurs

  • Taking it to the Streets

  • Leverage and Next Steps

The first part of the book is very much for those who are thinking about starting a new, passion-based biz OR – as in my case – a reminder for those of us who are considering a new project that will integrate with a currently existing business (yes, I have something rather exciting in the works, peeps!).

I loved the stories in the first chapter – Renaissance – because they resonated so strongly with my own journey! I, too, am an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ – I never actually set out to make what I do my full-time gig. In the beginning, it was just a hobby, but life and circumstance combined to give me the opportunity to make it happen. Thankfully, like those profiled in the book, I have never looked back, or been happier with the work I do.

For me, this first section just reinforced a number of ideas that I’ve spoken of before – the main one being that just because something is your passion doesn’t mean you should turn it into a business. Or, more to the point – you need to find a convergence between what you love doing and what people will actually buy – something I’ve spoken about before. This is a BIG one for those in the handmade industry.

For those of you just starting out, this section will be an invaluable tool in helping you get your head straight about what sort of business and products you should create, and how you can craft a business around your dream lifestyle, rather than the other way round.

The second section was the ‘meatiest’ part of the sandwich, with densely packed info and advice on how to actually craft and sell a product people will want to buy.

I found this section the most immediately useful part of the book, as I’ve got a few new products and collections planned for the second half of 2012. The information on crafting an offer, launching, and even hustling were invaluable to me. It really helped me to clarify a few decisions I’d been wavering on for a while now – and we all know how draining a non-decision can be.

Like all good books/blog posts/ecourses, I didn’t exactly learn anything NEW or anything I couldn’t have figured out for myself after a lot of try-and-fail type scenarios… however, I was gifted strategies and plans on a creamy white platter that would have taken me untold time and struggle to figure out/put together on my own.

The third part of the book was future-focussed – you’ve got a business, you’re doing well… but where do you go from here? How much do you want to grow, and what business model do you want to create? Do you want to keep going-it-alone or bring others on-board? What if it all turns to crap and I fail?

Yeah, we’ve ALL had those thoughts. Chris gives us answers to all of these questions and more – and he is especially good at assuaging our fears of failure. In fact, sometimes, failure can be the best thing that ever happens to us – a hard lesson to understand if we’ve yet to fail big-time and come out the other side more determined than before.

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This is not the sort of book you read once and then put on the shelf.

I can see myself coming back to this again and again throughout the years to come, in order to remind myself of things that will help my business grow authentically.

If nothing else, definitely make sure you head over to 100Startup.com and download the AWESOME free resources that Chris has put up there. I’ll be sticking a number of them on my wall to make sure my upcoming products are created with YOU in mind, and to get them launched out into the world in style.

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{*Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book to review, thanks to Chris and Crown Publishing. Thank you, guys!!}