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  • Erin Neilson

Self Coaching for Your Creative Business - Clubhouse Discussion - July 31, 2022

Hello calligra-friends!

Life has been non-stop with these days and now the holiday season is starting to creep up so I wanted to share this conversation I had with Telisa and Doris (of Roessin Art and Love Lettering, respectively) on Clubhouse, in their Lettering Lifestyle room.

It was recorded over the summer where we chatted about my business journey, being a solo creative business owner, and my newest downloadable product available, the Self-Coaching for Your Creative Business workbook. If you're wondering "What the heck is that?", it's a workbook designed for all of my solo-preneurs who are in the creative space. These people have been in their business for a little while now and have started having trouble focussing on what to do next in their business. Maybe multiple opportunities have presented themselves, they've learned a new skill, or they're just not sure what their next step is. This workbook will help these people figure it out for themselves by self reflection exercises, questions, and prompts.

Initially I created this tool out of a need for myself with no intention of releasing it to a wider audience. I needed something for myself to help me refocus and find clarity because I had TOO MANY THINGS going on, I didn't know my overall goal anymore.

I used my coaching education and experience to create a personal self reflective questionnaire. I realized that other people might find some value in it, so I turned it into the workbook, Self Coaching for Your Creative Business!

If you want to listen to our discussion, click the embedded Soundcloud box, or you can read along with the transcription below!

Have a great week!

- Erin


Clubhouse - Self Coaching for Creatives - Transcription

Doris Wai: So without further ado, I'm just gonna introduce the Lettering Lifestyle Club cuz not everybody here has been here before. As I mentioned, there are some people that are totally new to Clubhouse. Michelle down there. Oh, Michelle is here! Juniper Calligraphy Mary Jo Jordan, and Rebecca.

If you're new to Clubhouse, welcome. It's just like, it's, it's a, it's a cool platform, you know? It's just for conversations. They've made so many updates to it. So just so you know, today's chat will be recorded, right, Telisa?

Telisa Roessein: Yes. It will be recorded. So if you can't stay for the whole thing, you can always go back and listen to it.

Doris Wai: Yes, but originally when Telisa and I started The Lettering, Lifehouse The Lettering Lifestyle, sorry, oh what I was thinking? We just created it because it's a club dedicated to the love of hand lettering, typography, calligraphy and digital lettering , and all creative adventures of the alphabet.

So it's just a place that we created to connect and meet other small businesses and studios and creatives in the lettering community. How, what, how I felt. I like, I felt like I was a little bit lonely, like, you know, working as a calligrapher and, having your own business. So you don't have colleagues and stuff to talk to.

Right? And so Telisa and I created this space so that we can just have like, topics to, to chat about and, you know, see what's happening in the industry. Talk about like, our work habits, creative projects, and just like a place, like a water cooler. Right? And we do this every Sunday. We try to do it every Sunday at 9:30.

Usually we like to keep our conversation short, so usually half an hour to an hour. When we first started, there was no such thing as Replays so if you're here, you're here. If you missed it, then you missed it. Nowadays we, sometimes we do have Replays if we're doing something important like today, talking about to, Erin about her self coaching course.

Otherwise, like sometimes we're just like, you know, kind of gossiping about what's happening in the industry and spilling the tea about things. And so for those ones we don't usually have Replays. So yeah, like we're just glad that you're here and you guys could join us and we're gonna have a good conversation tonight.

We're very easy going every Sunday. Like, you know, everybody is allowed to come up on stage and just, you know, offer their, their points of view and their, and their input on anything that we're speaking about. It's kind of like a stage format. We are gonna just ask Erin a lot of questions, but you can also ask, there is a, a message room which is on the lower, lower left hand corner.

You can ask questions there. Otherwise near the end, I can also invite you to come up if you have any questions that, or you wanna say anything to Erin, to and I so yeah, like that, I think, I think I covered it all right?

Telisa Roessein: Yes, you did. You did a good job, .

Doris Wai: Okay. Okay, great. Okay. So okay. So without further, do you, of course I want to introduce Erin. Telisa is gonna, is is gonna is gonna introduce Erin formally. Okay. So welcome Erin.

Telisa Roessein: Welcome Erin. All right. I'm so excited to have you join us tonight because I know that we're going to be learning so much from you. I have personally, so I can't wait for everyone else to learn from you. Okay. So without further ado, I'm going to introduce Erin Neilson.

She is a Montreal based, 30- something full-time calligrapher behind Neilson Letters Calligraphy, and a creative coach behind Neilson Coaching. She's been practicing calligraphy since 2015. She started her full-time professional calligraphy journey in mid 2019, and now is the current president of Montreal Calligraphy Guild.

(So I'm not gonna say it in French , but if you haven't heard, if you're in Canada, you might find those chapters in your region) Now, anyway, so as for coaching, Erin went back to her university Alma Mara, which is Concordia University to pursue a coaching certification from the Personal and Professional Coaching program in late 2018.

Over there she met some wonderful classmates, learned a lot, and finished with her Personal and Professional Coaching Certification, or PPCC, in mid 2019. At the same time, Erin received her PPCC certification. She had the opportunity to go freelance with her creative passion of calligraphy. She didn't think she could do both coaching and calligraphy simultaneously as starting one business is tough, and she knew that starting two at the same time would've been more than she could handle.

This is how Neilson Letters Calligraphy was launched. Perfect timing, Erin . Now that Neilson Letters Calligraphy is stable, Erin has decided to put her knowledge to good use by combining her experience in launching and maintaining a creative business with her coaching education to help others in similar creative fields.

And this is why we are here today, to interview Erin about our coaching and calligraphy journey.

Erin Neilson: Thank you so much for such a beautiful introduction. Amazing . Thank you.

Telisa Roessein: Oh my God. So, so excited. So we have some questions that we're gonna ask you for the clubhouse. And because we're only here for one hour, do, Doris, do you wanna start with the, the first questions for Erin?

Doris Wai: Yeah, of course. But first, like I, I have to mention like, you know, for you to have these two things that you're really passionate about and then like to pursue it is just really, really admirable. But I'm assuming your self coaching actually really helped you build, to build your calligraphy business.

Would you, would you agree?

Erin Neilson: 110%. Not even so, so basically, yeah, like basically I created this for me and then I was like, and you should, the first few iterations of the thing are just like a really terrible looking Google Docs of just like notes for myself. And then as I started using it in developing it more, I was like, “I think maybe other people might find this interesting.” So, yeah.

Doris Wai: I, I, I figured it much. So you were your own like, Guinea pig right? When you were starting your calligraphy business. So why don't you tell us a little bit of about when you, when you started calligraphy and Yeah, and how that, how your workbook helped you with that.

Erin Neilson: So way back in the day about 2015 , 2016 in the winter my husband actually bought me calligraphy courses for copperplate calligraphy.

And I loved it. I was absolutely horrible at it, but I really liked the quiet concentration of it and the meditative quality cuz I, I worked retail and it was always so crazy busy. So coming home and relaxing and practicing my basic strokes was very, very nice for me. As I kept going and I, I kept practicing.

I realized like, “Oh, there's definitely a niche and there's a business here somewhere.” And then at around the same time, I was becoming like, a bit unhappy, with working in the, my retail career. So I was like, “Oh, let me find something else that might be interesting.” So then the coaching thing came up and then I, I loved it and I finished that.

And then just the timing of things was a bit odd and I was just like, “Oh, I, I think what I would like to do is I wanna pursue calligraphy first. I don't think I can do both at the same time. Coaching will always be there, but I feel like the opportunity for calligraphy is more present”. I suppose. So when I started I was like, “I would love to have a business coach.”

However, investing in coaching can be an investment. And most people, when they're starting a business, don't have that liquidity right away to just really throw back money into their business already. You're trying to really bootstrap it basically and figure it out on your own. So I was like, “why don't I, I mean I went to school for this and I paid money for my degree, or my certification for this. May as well try and let's try and self coach myself.”

And through trial and error and making like questionnaires for myself based on like coaching other people, I, I really found like, “oh, this is like really helpful for me to figure out like my, the clarity of what I want to do, figuring out my goals, figuring out how to prioritize things.”

Cuz I don't know about you guys, but for me, I, I feel like I, I'm pulled in about a million different directions. I have so many ideas all the time and I don't know how to figure out, okay, what's important, what's not important? ‘Cause if everything's important, nothing is important and like figuring out your goals, like what I wanna be like where, where do I want this to go?

So, that's a kind of a roundabout way of going and saying like, it was, I basically made it for me. And then I was like, “Let me see if anyone else is interested or thinks that this might be interesting.” Hence my, the, the workbook that I, I created called Self Coaching for Your Creative Business,

I think that was like, I think that was, was at a complete, I think I maybe went a little too long for that one. ?

Telisa Roessein: No, no, sorry. No.

Doris Wai: Telisa and have wifi issues. Okay. But we're on LTE now, so we're totally okay. That was a really good thorough explanation and like I said, like, kudos to you for pursuing them both in tandem, but like and being your own Guinea pig I have to say, like, I, I printed everything out and I was, I'm going through it, Erin.

Right. But like, like what I have to, what, what I realized is like, It's so helpful because it actually makes you sit down and think about, like the categories and the things that you wanna like, work on, right? And also the things that you don't care too much about. You know, so like, I'm, I'm going through it and I just have to say like, you know, it's, it's really helping me, like, you know, focus on you know, my my goals, right?

And you know, what I'm trying to work towards. But yeah. Telisa do you what, Okay. Your, you're up then.

Telisa Roessein: So okay. So half of it, I'm so sorry, but my wifi was so spotty. Now I'm on LTE so I couldn't hear half of it, , but I, but I think , but I, I remember you were talking about how your you know, your, your knowledge that you learned from university and you pay for this, you know, for the certification and now it really worked really well.

And then you talk about how it could possibly help with the creatives, right? Yes. And you talk about how you start calligraphy and at the same time your coaching journey. So . So the second question was about asking about the coaching journey, how it can help with other creatives. Can you talk a little bit more about that. Like how, like what would, what would they, if they look at your program, like what would, what would it be like?

Erin Neilson: So I'll, I'll go in, I'll, I'll, I'll give you a bit bit of my coaching philosophy, which it kind of will lead into what the workbook is. So the way that I was taught coaching, and I totally am on board with it, is coaching is not, it's not really, it's not therapy and it's not really mentorship necessarily.

Coaching is much more like, I'm there to support the other person, and I'm going in assuming that the person that I am coaching knows the answer already. They just haven't had the time or the inclination to sit down and figure it out for themselves. So I'm going in and thinking of this person as a full, complete person who knows their life, who understands their circumstances, who already can, can do it. They just haven't done it yet.

So that's kind of how the philosophy of the workbook works as well. It's, it goes in under the assumption that the person that is doing it knows already kind of what they wanna do. They just haven't sat down and given themselves permission to ask themselves those questions.

So, Doris, you said previously before, like you know, figuring out what you don't wanna do. So there, there are three main questions that I ask at the very beginning which is, what do you wanna start doing do less of, and then do more of.

So those three questions kind of help solidify your thought process moving forward because it's, it, it, it's a different way to ask the question of what your goals are. ‘Cause asking what are your goals in the next five years is kind of a difficult question to answer.

But asking what you wanna do more of, what you wanna start doing and what you wanna do less of is a little bit less intense and it opens up your brain to thinking a little bit more broadly. And it's almost more like journaling.

So I kind of am taking what I would do in person with like an actual coaching session.And I'm just trying to like ask those questions a little bit more organically within the workbook so you can kind of work through it yourself, like a journaling exercise.

I hope that that answers the question.

Doris Wai: Yeah, that's great. So a, a good, what makes a good like self coach?

How do you know if you are, you know, doing a good job with, with self coaching? Like, what would you say is some things, some tips that you can offer us when it comes to self coaching? Like you know, how, how do you stay on track, right?

Erin Neilson: So when you're going into it, you kind of have to know what the outcome you want is.

So you kind of have to think about it before you start, which means, like, for example, when I, when I did it, I knew the outcome for me that I wanted is, I knew I needed to have, at the end of me going through everything was a a clear and concise. Way for me to organize my thoughts. I, cuz I was using Post-its all over my office, which was not helpful.

I would just think of things right on a post-it and be like, I'll get to it later. And that is literally very messy. Let me tell you. Talk about just feeling like a crazy person walking in and I just saw paper everywhere. It was very not conducive to working. So for me, I needed that and I needed a long term plan of how to make my business sustainable long term.

So when I went into it, I knew that those were the two goals, the outcomes that I wanted from working through it. So the outcome and how, you know, you're being, you're doing well with the self coaching is if you are answering those questions as, as you're going through the workbook are you able to go back and think like, “Oh, am I doing well? Oh, what was, what did I want at the beginning?” And you think about that. So every person is gonna be different for what they're answering for themselves, if that makes sense.

Telisa Roessein: That makes total sense. And is there like some sort of like a, a timeline, suggested timeline that, where you are answering these like, okay, you're gonna do this part, You know, like knowing what your vision is and the next part is mm-hmm.

Erin Neilson: So I, I didn't write it in in the workbook itself cuz everyone is a bit different. But the way that I think about it is that this is not something that you're gonna be able to do in an hour. This is really meant to provoke some like intense and deep reflection on your business, which honestly should take time, right

Like, if this is a creative business that you're in, regardless of what it is, could be calligraphy, it could be photography, it could be anything like that. Like I find that people who are in more creative businesses sometimes just are so bombarded by by ideas all the time it's hard for them to give themselves permission to sit down and do, do a little bit more self reflective work.

So this is really built to take your time. So I kind of always suggest, I think there's four sections. So doing one section at a time and trying not to burn through it too quickly is usually a good idea.

For me, when I do it, it usually takes me about a week to go through slowly and like I'll answer some questions, I might not answer them fully.I'll sleep on it, I'll come back to it the next day. And I really give myself permission to like, “Okay, this week I'm working on my self coaching”, and at the end of the week, hopefully I am, I have a good outcome. And if not, okay, well I'm gonna continue working on it to figure out like what exactly I'm trying to get at.

Doris Wai: Going back to it like because I did, I did take a look at it earlier this week, so I was trying to, you know, go through some of the exercises and I quickly realized that it wouldn't be something that's fast, right? So yeah. But also you mentioned the PostIt notes being crazy person, but there is a part in there where you're like, you can use Post-It notes, and I'm just like,” Oh, I need to get some post-it notes, Right.”

So but yeah, so I did, I I did it seriously go through. And when you're talking about like, you know creatives being like a crazy person, like having so many ideas, like me being into my business like eight years later. I still feel like that even in this moment that I have too many things that I wanna do and I don't even know where, what, where to focus.

Right. You know, cuz I, at the end of the day, You know, I, I always wanna just have a sustainable business and make sure that I'm gonna be able to live this creative life for the rest of my life. Like that is my ultimate goal, right? But all these ideas like coming, Oh, well this is a good idea and that is a good idea.

And, you know, so I think that your workbook is really gonna help me like, kind of narrow it down to like the things that I really want to do which is like, Which is a lot, but in your workbook you did talk about prioritizing, right? So, Yeah. Yeah,

Erin Neilson: So that is where we get analog. We're, we're pulling out post-its or scrap paper or, whatever you wanna use.

Doris Wai: Yeah, exactly. I don't know how you would do it with scrap paper though, That's even more crazy than post-it notes, right? If things are just fine and around everywhere, right?

So well, who do you think that this self coaching program is for?

Like, do you think it's this? Okay. I know it's you know, already helpful to me for somebody that's like, like I said, I've been doing this as a business for eight years, right? So technically I think I've been self coaching, but I, I'm very not organized. Okay. So like, this is kinda like giving me a bit more focus, like, you know but yeah.

Who, who do you think this self coaching program is for? Like I'll, I'll let you take, take the, take the stage here

Erin Neilson: Me, the Self Coaching Program is for me, or people who feel like they're me, where , which sounds so crazy, but it's, I, I feel like it's for someone who's running a creative business but has just too many ideas.

And, but all of them seem super important and you are just trying to focus on one single thing. Or maybe you have multiple ideas and you just need to figure out how to put them all together so you can get to that final outcome, that final goal that you want. I'll use myself as, as an, example

Doris Wai: Yeah, I was, say, I was like, what were, were there like a couple different things that you were, you wanted to achieve when you started your calligraphy business.

Erin Neilson: Yeah, so when I started, I, listen, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I was like, Listen, we’re, contracts come in, I'll do them, and that's it. And we're, I don't have the luxury of saying no to things or figuring out what my values are.

So when I did it the first time around (also, it wasn't as complete as it is now too, the, the way I've thought through it.) But, you know I was like, “Okay, like I wanna get followers on Instagram. I want to work wedding stuff. I want to do custom commissions. I want to do live events. Oh, live events are a thing. Let's do that too.”

And it was so much all the time. I never felt like I could focus on one thing properly. It would always felt like a, and then I was like, “Oh, yeah, also, I need to make myself a brand and then I need to make myself a logo. Oh, and then I also need to make myself a website. So I need to learn how to do SEO. And then I have to…”

Like, there's all of these things that were all coming all at the same time. And I was like, “Okay, I need to sit down and figure out how to make this work for me.” Like this. I can't, I can't be an expert in everything all the time.

So I had to sit down and I did okay, what is the outcome that I want from me sitting down doing this? Now? I'm like, “okay, the outcome that I actually want right now is I need to make sure that I have a complete website.”

Like that was what I needed at the beginning. So I was like,” Okay, what do I need to do this?” And I was like, “Okay, I need to figure out okay, what, what platform I need to work on. Okay. What works for me? What's a good price point for me? What is a good domain? What is a good name for me? What, like all of those things.”

And then I had went through and I prioritized, “okay, what should be first? What's the second thing? How long do I think this is gonna take me?”

And I did smart goals and all of those things. So then at the end I was like, “cool, I, my website is done and now I can work on the next thing”, which is, you know, getting my name out there. So it, it's anyone who really feels like me, when we're going through that,

Telisa Roessein: It's all of us. Especially when you just starting a business, like you have to do all of this stuff, like building a website, getting clients, and like learning social media and all that stuff. And this will definitely help. And it's like, it's the kind of the worksheet that you can always reuse. Like use it again when you have a different goal.