Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Creative Chronicles: Being Boss Podcast Feature

Nubby Twiglet | Being Boss

Podcasts can be a valuable tool for entrepreneurs because through listening to other people’s stories, you can get an inside view of how they run their businesses, form lasting relationships and keep the creativity flowing along the way.

I link to Being Boss often in my Week + Links roundups because they always seem to cover the topics that are on my mind. If you’re new to Being Boss, it was founded by Emily Thompson & Kathleen Shannon and as they so eloquently say, “Being Boss in work and life, is being in it. It’s being who we are, doing the work, breaking some rules, and even though we each have to do it on our own – knowing we’re in it together.” Amen.

Nubby Twiglet | Being Boss

People look for that business partner relationship, but really you should just look for friends. —Gala

Basically, Being Boss rules at keeping it real. Emily and Kathleen aren’t afraid to dig in, ask the hard questions and get the real story behind the story which is why we’re all listening — we want the inside scoop. At the same time, there’s a robust community of support to back you up in the Being Boss Clubhouse.

And that’s why I find this podcast so valuable and unique — when you’re done listening, you’re not on your own. I believe that having a community to support you is one of the most important parts of growing and evolving a business.

Nubby Twiglet | Being Boss

A lot of businesses form from friendships, but you can’t force it. —Shauna

I’ve been a fan of this podcast for ages so when they asked me, along with my BFF Gala Darling to join them for an episode, I sad YES! This interview is unique because it covers how Gala and I have managed both a friendship and business relationship at the same time and kept the “friends first” mentality along the way.

I hope you’ll check out all the Being Boss episodes here. I know you’ll love them.

And, you can listen to my joint interview with Gala right here. Enjoy!


Photos: Made U Look Photography

Get Your Small Business Questions Answered LIVE with Project Prescription!

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Processes, processes, processes. Who needs them?

Creative small businesses, that’s who.

When I started freelancing a decade ago, I was full of creativity but came up short on knowing how to manage client expectations and deliverables. Everything looked good from the outside but on the inside, my business was a mess. The turning point was when I launched Branch. I took the time to build out process documents that took potential clients from interested to signed with very little effort and since then, my business has grown massively.

Nothing changed about the work I produced but everything changed about the processes I used. It worked so well that I partnered with Paul Jarvis to create Project Prescription.

When it comes to running design studios, we’d like to share what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why — as well as answer any questions you’ve got TODAY at 1pm PST.

You can watch us LIVE and ask us questions right here.

See you soon!

Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

A few years ago, I started noticing that digital products were becoming a hot commodity and as someone who runs a service-based business, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep the same pace of offering custom design solutions forever. My dream has always been to run a small, efficient studio that allows me the flexibility to spend more time with my family and travel often so having a massive staff (with the overhead that goes with that) and more than the few dozen regular clients we regularly work with wasn’t in the cards.

Simply put, a digital product is anything you can offer in a digital format, usually as an immediate download. Think along the lines of e-courses, e-books, digital templates, design assets, MP3’s and so on. Most of us probably bought dozens of digital products last year without giving it a second thought.

I had two key reasons for wanting to dive into the world of digital products:

1. One-on-one services only allowed me to help a small group of clients at once. Finding ways to serve a bigger audience was important to me. There had to be a more efficient way to help a larger audience reach their goals.

2. The hours in a day limited my earning potential. We all have a cap on what we can realistically output and even with more help, I still didn’t feel like Branch was able to reach the demand. Dozens of inquiries came in each week, yet we passed most of them off to referrals because we were booked out.

The tricky part was, I had no idea what I could offer. Do you have those days where it feels like everything has literally been done? I did…but I felt like those days stretched on for a few years. I’d designed dozens of hugely successful digital products for clients but I never felt like anything I thought of was good enough. I was too deeply entrenched in the middle of it all, surrounded by what my clients were doing PLUS seeing new launches pop up every day from people I followed on social media. There was too much noise.

If you’re feeling this way as well, first of all, give yourself permission to dream and explore. The best ideas are usually right in front of you.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

5 tips to pinpoint what your audience wants

1. Check Google Analytics / Your Most Popular Posts

I know this might seem obvious but people are telling you exactly what they need in their search terms. When I looked at my stats for this blog, informational posts about processes, designing great portfolios and media kits were at the top. What topics are you naturally interested in and already talking about?

2. Use Pinterest Sources To See What’s Trending

Since commenting on blogs has declined, if your site is more visual like this one, it can be hard to know what’s resonating with your audience. I’ve found Pinterest to be a valuable resource for sorting out what my audience is drawn to and it’s super easy to do.

Go to pinterest.com/source/yoursiteurl.com/. For instance, this blog would be:

https://www.pinterest.com/source/nubbytwiglet.com/

What does your audience pin over and over directly from your site? What colors, styles and topics do they love? After a quick scan, I can see that my audience is drawn to creative resources, unique design layouts and interestingly enough, travel posts.

3. Do A Survey

Go straight to the source and ask your audience what they want — they’ll gladly tell you. I’ve done surveys about upcoming digital products here and I’ve also asked the Branch mailing list. The honesty in the responses I got was refreshing — people were clear that they wanted all juice and no filler. They wanted to know how to improve their portfolios, how to land new and better career opportunities and how to build their client base.

4. Define What You’re Struggling With

What have been the biggest hangups in your own career path and personal growth? Chances are, if you’re struggling with something, others are, too. Think of how you solved your own issues, whether it was finding your niche, building a thriving freelance career or getting over your fears. How can you use your unique perspective to offer a value-packed product that directly helps your audience?

5. Ask Yourself What Could Be Simplified

Does something that you do seem way harder than it needs to be? In my case, I’d personally struggled with having a defined process for client work at the start of my freelance career and it really held me back from earning a decent living. Based on that experience, I collaborated with Paul Jarvis and we poured our results-driven studio processes into a set of fully editable documents called Project Prescription. If you can find a way to make people’s lives easier in some way, they’ll be interested.

How It’s Working

Based on the 5 tips above, my digital offerings have been going well so far.

Project Prescription launched February 7th and has since sold a few hundred copies — it’s affordable, helpful and customizable which I think all contributed to its success.

Next up is a course called Future So Bright launching later this Spring. Career strategist Ellen Fondiler and I are addressing one of the biggest issues new design graduates face — finding a well paying, meaningful job in the industry. There are dozens of freelancing courses out there but not everyone can make a full-time living as a freelancer right out of school, nor do they want to. Full-time gigs have tons of benefits but knowing how to find the opportunities, build a killer portfolio AND interview properly can be intimidating — I still cringe at some of my own interview experiences! Once again, this was a struggle we knew existed so it makes sense to fill that gap.

Pushing Fear Aside

Beyond these two courses, I have a few more concepts in the works but it took getting over my fear of the unknown. I constantly wondered if my ideas were good enough. Worse yet, what if I did follow through and it failed? What if…[insert concern here]? WHO CARES. Once you push your ego aside and honestly ask yourself how you can serve more people, the answer usually presents itself.

If you’re still unsure of what you can offer, fill in the blanks:

I’m a [insert what you do here] and I notice that my audience is struggling with [insert issue here] and my personal experience can help them overcome it by [name what you’re going to offer] so they can [insert outcome here].

Here’s my answer using Project Prescription as an example:

I’m a graphic designer and I notice that my audience is struggling with their client processes and my personal experience can help them overcome it by developing a set of pre-made, editable documents so they can get back to work quickly and charge more.

When it comes to developing digital products, my advice is simple: start small and focus on what you know. Don’t overthink it.

By offering your personalized expertise, a good value and accessibility, your digital product has the ability to do really well.


Photos: Afsoon Zizia.
Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

One of the most fulfilling projects I’ve worked on over the last year was designing my friend Gala Darling’s first book, Radical Self Love. This is close to my heart because I met Gala online 13 years ago and even back then, she was fanatical about writing. Her dream was to become a published author but it took years of behind-the-scenes hard work to make it a reality.

A few years ago, I designed Gala’s first book proposal and when things didn’t work out, we were both crushed. But, she persevered and never lost sight of her goal. Now, it’s clear to see that everything worked out as it was meant to be — her book just debuted on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list and the pre-sale alone has already sold hundreds of copies. Gala’s journey is a great reminder that overnight success is rare but if you stick with what you believe in, amazing things can (and will!) happen. We just sat down for an interview that I hope will help you stay motivated and focused on making your own dreams a reality. Enjoy!

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

A lot of us have big ideas for projects but as they wear on, staying motivated and on-task can be difficult. How were you able to remain focused on a project that was years in the making?

As a little girl, I’d sit at the kitchen table writing stories, then staple them together, draw a cover (barcode included) and imagine what it would like to be published. Authors were my heroes: I spent hours at the library with my father every Saturday, and I was constantly working through a huge stack of books. Writing a book has always been my big dream. 

This book evolved a lot. It started as a monthly serial — I’d send out the chapters as they were completed — and a couple of years after it was done, I realised I had a whole book sitting right there. I had a meeting with a big publishing company, but they didn’t really “get it”, and my agent told me it was a hard time to sell a self-help book. I was extremely disappointed, but I can see that it was all perfect. I’m so glad I didn’t publish the book in that incarnation or at that time!

Over the last couple of years, technology has changed so much, and has put the power to produce back into the hands of the creators. It’s incredible. There are no gatekeepers anymore. You don’t have to wait to be chosen: you can create your own Youtube show, publish your own book, record your own radio show. 

I was able to stay focussed on publishing my book because even though I experienced some crushing disappointment, I had a burning desire to get it done. Once I saw that a few women I knew had self-published (with great results), I was inspired to give it a try. I wrote the original manuscript for this book in 2009, so this is definitely not an “overnight success” story — it has taken six years to get to this point!

For me, it was essential to break the project down into stages. I did my edits, then hired an editor to go through it again. I researched book design, then hired you to make the book beautiful. I hired a photographer to shoot the cover, and so on and so on. This has been such a massive learning experience for me — I never knew how many small details would become so big and important! 

If you have a dream, I encourage you to pursue it with gusto! You only get one life: you should create and do EVERYTHING that you want to. And if your dream has lost its lustre? Go back to the drawing board. Spend some time alone, contemplating it. You may have outgrown your dream, or it may have evolved. Or maybe you just need some outside perspective. Ultimately, if you really want to make it happen, you will.

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

With some projects, not everyone is going to get what we’re doing — and that can be hard to deal with. What are your suggestions for dealing with negativity?

Exactly. In my situation, I was crushed when that meeting with a publisher was a bust! Honestly, I wish I could say I bounced back from that quickly, but I didn’t. It took me another two years to re-write my book proposal, and when I did, my agent told me it was too hard a sell. I was so frustrated, but then I looked around at the people who were self-publishing and decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did!

There are always going to be ups and downs with any creative project. Remember that people’s opinions only have as much weight as you give them. My agent told me she couldn’t sell my book… But when I pre-launched it on Amazon, it went to #1 on the Amazon Movers and Shakers charts. 

Know what you’re trying to achieve and why. When you know your “why”, it becomes so much easier. In my case, as much as writing this book is a dream come true for me, the thing that kept me going was knowing that this book would change women’s lives. I knew that if it got into the hands of a woman who really needed it, it could encourage her to get help with her eating disorder, it might inspire her to leave a bad relationship, it would remind her how beautiful she is and how much we need her! You have to have a deeper motive than just stroking your own ego… Tempting as that can be!

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

As an entrepreneur, why is loving yourself so important? If your confidence is wavering, what are some things you can do?

Ultimately, loving yourself ties into self-respect and how much you value yourself. If you don’t have a healthy sense of appreciation for who you are and the work you’re capable of, it’s all too common to get stuck. You might find yourself constantly going after the wrong kind of clients, refusing to hire an assistant even if you need one (and drowning in work that is not your zone of genius), not knowing how to pull your business out of a plateau, or undercharging for your work. All of those things lead to resentment and burn-out. The bottom line? Radical self love is good for your business!

If you ever doubt your inherent awesomeness, try writing a list of all the things you’ve achieved. It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture and celebrate all those small triumphs along the way! Even having the courage to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur is so huge, and many of us downplay that (or forget that for most people, being self-employed is too terrifying to contemplate). I promise, once you get started writing down all the things you’ve achieved, you’ll be amazed… And it might even inspire you to increase your rates!


I hope this interview reminds you that no matter how big and scary your dreams may feel, they are possible. Interested in picking up a copy of Gala’s book? It’s on sale starting today and you can grab your copy here. —Shauna

2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

Nubby Twiglet | 2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

This year is about setting intentions…and actually following through with them.

At the end of 2014, I set a simple yet power-packed intention for the new year: to create more. During 2014, I’d felt myself fall into the trap of spending too much time sitting on other blogs and social media and getting caught up in busy work that often filled my days in ways that I didn’t really want to be spending it. Life is too short.

Then, January 1st came. The universe must have heard my intention loud and clear because I haven’t stopped since. Well, I did take a break earlier in the week to make a trip to IKEA — and while killing time with my aunt in a returns line that didn’t seem to budge, we started talking about 9 Star Ki. “This is your year to make things happen,” she said. You’ve been building up to it…it’s going to be a full one.”

I may have said, “I know.” Or at least, that’s what I was thinking.

I spent last year sitting next to a handwritten list of products I wanted to make…and not a single one happened. I collected folders of inspiration and made outlines but actually getting the hard work done? Not even close.

It was my own fault — I didn’t make the time or set priorities. Instead, I jumped from one new client project to the next and traveled the world — both are amazing but I didn’t stop long enough to have this conversation with myself:

“What do you want to do?
Everything on that list.
Okay, then go do it.”

Simple, right?

Nubby Twiglet | 2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

In the first year of launching a new business, it often comes down to putting all of your time and effort into other people’s brands and that in turn builds your own through word of mouth, exposure and notoriety. It was a good year. But, that list of projects I want to launch is still taped to my wall.

This year, in an effort to create more, I’m going to be blogging here a little less. My focus has always been quality over quantity so I want to do fewer, but higher quality posts that give you more value.

Much of the content here will be the same. Link Love will still be every Thursday. Fridays will still be The Week in Pictures but I want to focus on sharing just 3 to 4 really great shots (quality over quantity once again) and then include a personal story at the end with insight into what goes on over here day-to-day. The real stuff. And then, the most exciting addition is a new column I’ve been planning for the last month — Branded will feature the photos and details of brands I love. I shot photos of many products and shops during my time in Australia and New Zealand that I can’t wait to start sharing with you next week.

I’m still settling into the post-holiday break and trying to find my blogging and work groove….but I’ve been glancing over my shoulder at that list. And by the end of this year, I hope to have a whole bunch of offerings that will make your creative / small business existence a whole lot easier. Good, useful stuff.

Now, it’s time to dig in and create.

My challenge for you is to simply ask yourself what you really want to do with your time. And then, go do it.


Photos: Urban Safari.

Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

Nubby Twiglet | Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

During the week, I was holed up in Palm Springs for Designer Vaca, an annual retreat for female creatives. The buzz of nervousness and excitement was palpable — we’d traveled in from different states and even countries to network and learn from one another.

Designer Vaca isn’t just an annual getaway for me, though — it’s also an important marker in my life. It’s a reminder of how much can happen in just a year when you put your mind and every ounce of energy into something. A few days before Designer Vaca last year, I launched Branch so being there this year reminded me of that fundamental time.

A year ago, I took a chance and quit all outside design work to run Branch full time. I’d been freelancing and building my clientele for five years prior and I knew it was finally time to overcome my fears and lay everything on the line. Big life changes can be paralyzing but in a way, because my schedule was so packed at the time, I never had the chance to overthink things. The month before Branch launched, I’d been in Austin, Greece, London and New York with The Blogcademy. By the time I got home from all that traveling, I had less than 2 weeks to get all my content together, design my website and go live. The day we launched, I had to be in Malibu for a client meeting and two days after that, in Palm Springs for Designer Vaca. There was no wiggle room.

I always say that it’s best to launch and learn and we did just that. Things were far from perfect — I’d taken all the photos, written all the copy and Star pulled a few all nighters to push the site live. Even in its imperfect state, business was solid from day one. Within a week, we’d booked out for a month. Within one month, we were booked for three.

Running your own business is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Let’s be honest — there are a lot easier, less stressful ways to make a living. It’s true that a lot of businesses fail in the first year and I didn’t want Branch to be a casualty. A good way to avoid falling into that pit is to understand your business from the inside out so I told myself that in the first year, I was going to take on as much work as I possibly could and learn from it — I wanted to really figure out what we wanted more of and what we wanted less of. I’m a firm believer that as an owner, before you can delegate to others, you need to understand the ins and outs of your own business.

Nubby Twiglet | Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

I want to share a few nuggets of wisdom that we’ve gathered over the last year to help you with your own creative business:

1. Launch and learn.

When you have very little time to get up and running like we did, your site might not be perfect. The point is that even if you sit on your idea and polish it to perfection, you’re losing valuable momentum. We launched with the best we could do at the time and built our clientele as quickly as possible. Now, it’s time to step back, reevaluate our online presence and rebuild our site and media kit. The thing to remember is that it’s not a great idea to invest too much upfront — even with all the market research in the world, you never know if a business idea will actually resonate. It’s better to work on a shoestring budget, figure out what works and then rework your offerings based on those learnings.

2. Attract now, repel later.

As a new business, in the beginning it’s a good idea to stay open to different kinds of clients. Learn from each and build a solid financial cushion before specializing. Once you’ve passed the year mark, step back, reevaluate and decide who you’d like to attract more of. Focusing in on a particular niche will help you to position yourself as an expert and when you specialize, you’ll be able to charge more for your services.

3. Geographical locations matter less now than ever.

Branch is based in Portland, Oregon but none of our clients are local. Like many U.S. cities, Portland is saturated with hundreds of design studios so we instead focused on the world. By employing this mindset, we’ve picked up clients in Seattle, London, San Francisco, Brisbane, Fargo, Perth and New York. The design industry is a lot more open these days — it’s totally possible to keep overhead low, run your business from a tiny town and still rule the world thanks to an internet connection.

4. Share every project you do, no matter how small.

Part of the growth of Branch this year can be attributed directly to social media. We shared projects the second they were finished across Dribbble, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and our blog. Not every project was a hit but there were a few that got picked up and repinned hundreds of times. The click-throughs from Pinterest especially helped build our client base. Dedicate as much time as you possibly can to social media — there’s nothing better than free marketing!

5. Raise your rates incrementally.

When Branch launched, we kept our rates fairly reasonable for a design studio. We wanted to make sure we were booked out and stayed busy. As inquiries piled up, we revamped our pricing. The key is to not do massive increases all at once — if you do this, you run the risk of stripping out your client base. Instead, be realistic with steady price increases. Instead of tacking on $1,000.00 to your most popular package all at once, it’s better to do four increases of $250.00 over the course of a year.

It’s been a great first year at Branch — we’ve been mentioned in Computer Arts, featured on The Dieline and asked to submit our projects to multiple design books. Hard work and dedication does pay off. If you want something bad enough, you just have to push fear aside and go for it, and see what happens. It may end up being a rollercoaster ride…but you’ll never know what’s possible unless you try. Thanks to Star, Cathy, Joey, Rocky and Carey for being there from the beginning and the clients who believed in us.


Your turn: I want to know — what do you have in the pipeline that scares you? What are your big dreams when it comes to running your own business?

#GIRLBOSS: A No-Holds-Barred Handbook For Forging Your Own Path In Business

Nubby Twiglet | #GIRLBOSS Book

#GIRLBOSS is part memoir and part guide to building a powerhouse business and best of all, there’s no jargon to make you feel stupid. Fluffy mantras are left at the door. It’s straight up, it’s real, it’s intense, it’s funny and even the most hardened CEO’s will walk away learning something new about how to run their businesses with more passion and efficiency.

If you’re still dreaming of starting your own business or have started one but it’s not feeling like the right fit, this book will inspire you to push through, search and create until the pieces fall into place.

Just like many of you, I always had dreams of starting my own business. Part of the appeal was wanting to do something on my own terms. But, that’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t have a clear path or mentor to cheer you on when things get tough. Because I had neither, I felt lost for quite a few years.

My first job was working in an accounting department of a food distributor over my college breaks. I’d dye my blue hair a normal, non offending color, pull out the office appropriate clothes my mom had bought me and show up for three months straight to a mauve-walled hell. My favorite times of day were lunch and after work drinks with my boss (always befriend your boss — you can get away with more!) Looking back, the job wasn’t so bad. In fact, it taught me how to function in corporate America and get along with people far outside of my social circle. The bigger, underlying issue was no matter how hard I tried, I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do.

These days, one of the biggest downsides of the internet and Instagram is that both often make success look like it happened overnight but perceptions are not reality. The truth is, many of us spent years floundering, trying to find our footing and in the process, our greater focus in life.

In my case, I started college in 2000 and graduated in 2004. I went back in 2006 and graduated again in 2008. Only in 2008, after hundreds of credits and two degrees did I finally feel like my path made sense. If only I’d figured it out sooner!

That’s where #GIRLBOSS comes in. It’s penned by Sophia Amoruso, the hyper-successful founder of Nasty Gal and it’s the book I so desperately wish had existed when I was first starting out. The difference with this book when compared to others in the same genre is that Sophia doesn’t sugarcoat her path. At all. Like many of us, she tried on a lot of different hats before she found the right fit. From working at Subway to checking ID’s at an art college to, well, shoplifting, she never quite found it.

Once she listened to her calling, which was what she was already naturally great at (sleuthing out amazing vintage clothing for a bargain and reselling it for mega bucks), the rest began to fall into place. Of course, it wasn’t that easy (you’ll have to read the book to get all the dirty details) but her growth happened quite rapidly once she dedicated herself completely to a singular path she excelled at.

There are thousands of other business books out there but what makes #GIRLBOSS so different is that it’s not just glossy highlights and beautifully curated photos that have little to do with everyday reality. Instead, it’s a no-holds-barred look into what it takes to build a multi-million dollar company from absolutely nothing. You get insight into the lowest lows to finally reaping the rewards from years of nonstop hard work. The beauty of #GIRLBOSS is that you can learn from Sophia’s story in an afternoon and then map out your own desired path without so many pitfalls. There’s nothing like learning from the best!

The biggest lesson I took away from this book is that it is possible to build something from nothing. #GIRLBOSS is proof that hard work and drive coupled with a great idea can build great things. You just have to want it badly enough.


Featured: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.