Eventually consistent posting kept me top-of-mind and curation made me memorable but it took some time to get there.
I was twelve when I started blogging. My web-designer dad created my blog as a birthday gift and since my parents were always looking for creative ways to further my education it became a homeschool project. I published periodic “reports” on any activity that could be classified as school, from visiting the art museum to planting peas in the backyard.
A few years later I switched to a wordpress blog so I wouldn’t have to bug my dad every time I wanted to make a change to my site. I continued to write about anything and everything. Although it was pretty random overall, patterns slowly began to emerge.
My favorite blogs to read were focused on a particular topic. I wanted to be someone’s favorite blog to read so I looked for a way to make it easy for my readers to find the more focused posts I wrote. I created a second blog page and called it my portfolio. While a sewing project was in progress I posted my random updates to my main blog, but when the project was finished I wrote a focused post for my portfolio blog.
The consistency of posting something regularly paired with the curation of my portfolio served me well, even if the topics were random. My consistency kept my visible and top-of-mind while my curation made me memorable.
Every two weeks I posted on a topic completely unrelated to sewing, sharing my responses to regular writing prompts from a website for teen writers. I hardly missed a prompt for a whole year and the owner of a publishing company noticed. She noticed more than my consistency; she also noticed my curated portfolio of old-fashioned sewing projects so when it came time to publish a novel about a victorian lady she thought of me.
I was barely nineteen years old when this publishing company hired me to design a dress to be photographed for the cover of their book.
Being chosen for this project wasn’t even the best part! During the design process it became clear that I had the ability and desire to make a dress far out of my client’s budget. I started working to scale back my design, but then I received the measurements for the model who would appear on the book cover. These measurements seemed strangely familiar. I pulled out my tape measure to confirm, and sure enough, they were almost exactly the same as my own! This got me thinking.
As a historical reenactor I would have the opportunity to wear this kind of dress over and over while the publishing company could only put it to good use once. This particular dress was going to be my size.
I rewrote my proposal and offered three different ideas. First the original design that I knew was outside their budget, then the scaled-back version, and finally the offer they couldn’t resist: I would make the over-budget dress and instead of selling it to them I would rent it to them, therefore making it affordable.
So in the end I got paid to make an amazing dress for myself!
Looking back I can see how I could have been more purposeful and professional all along the way, but there was one thing I did particularly well:
I projected what I wanted to be known for, and that led to attracting my dream client project. By the time this dream client approached me, my sewing projects centered around historical reproductions. She knew exactly what to expect me to create before we started working together.
Talking about the things I loved all the time helped people to see me as an expert and know what kind of work I could do for them. When potential clients could clearly see what kind of work was available to them through me, I became approachable and accessible.
Since then I have learned even better ways to project what I want to attract. By the time I shifted my professional focus from sewing to writing I had developed a specific process for writing the stories behind my projects. This case study writing process proved to be beneficial to people in various creative fields so I created a course to help others to learn it.
What do you find is the most difficult thing about writing the stories behind your projects?
Originally published at jordanelisheva.com on April 2, 2018.