Raise your hand if you’ve hit that creativity wall and it’s only Monday. This will help! Today, beautiful business boss AND mother Taylor Sterling is teaching us how to stay creative and inspired when your passion becomes your work.
Taylor is the founder and creative director of Glitter Guide. She’s has always had a thing for fashion, beauty and art. While working a day job as financial advisor recruiter, Taylor was laid off. That’s when she decided (or was forced to) to take a leap and launch Glitter Guide. Fast-forward six years and Glitter Guide is a go-to resource for women all over the world.
Taylor is spilling the details on her daily workflow while she juggles allllll of her projects. She’s the expert on staying inspired and creative during the stressful times, turning your passion into profit, and simply managing life.
Meet Taylor Sterling
After graduating college with a communications degree, Taylor Sterling was faced with the all-too-common question: Now what? In her words, a degree in communication meant that “she could do everything, or she could do nothing”.
With an unpaid internship at Women’s Wear Daily under her belt, she knew loved the fashion industry and she aspired to work at a magazine, but in 2005 when she was job hunting back home near Silicon Valley, the landscape just didn’t support her career goals. Taylor hopped around different marketing and recruiting positions, eventually falling into an interesting opportunity in recruiting at a boutique financial services firm. Although the job seemed outside of her fashion magazine career dreams, she was attracted to the boutique, entrepreneurial feel of the company. She made her own schedule, and if she met her goals she had a lot of flexibility in her role.
While she loved many aspects of her job, Taylor kept exploring new ideas and searched for her next move. She discovered a blog through Polyvore (while fumbling around on the internet at work!) and was immediately interested. She remembers calling her parents, telling them all about the blog she found, and told them she was going home to make one that night. That’s the night her first blog, Sterling Style, was born.
Sterling Style evolved into a style and look-book blog. Taylor loved blogging, and was curious about turning it into a career, but began to see that she was older than other style bloggers. She also felt uncomfortable being in front of the camera and her husband was not an “Instagram husband” who could help her with every photoshoot… So Taylor knew that style blogging was not a sustainable path. Instead, her goal was to create a blog that was less about her and what she was wearing, and create something that was focused on serving the reader. Enter — Glitter Guide. Taylor wanted to launch Glitter Guide and maintain Sterling Style all while working full time… But juggling all three really impacted her day job. She was ultimately laid off from the boutique financial services firm, which was a total shock for driven, focused, and hard-working Taylor.
Looking back, Taylor feels like they really did her a favor. She received a severance package, she was able to receive unemployment, and that was the catalyst for her starting her business. Taylor only needed a few days to put everything into perspective and get to work really launching Glitter Guide.
Balancing Work & Motherhood
Running a creative business, or any business, as a parent is challenging. When Taylor’s daughter was born, she didn’t know how to balance her time. Although she had a team to help her run her business, she still struggled to fit in work while also caring for her new baby. Learning to balance motherhood and business took time, but Taylor says she got better at it. At around 13-months, Taylor’s daughter went to daycare full time. With her second child, she put a lot less pressure on herself to be and do everything at once, and was quicker to determine the schedule she needed for her business and for her kids.
Simply put, “It’s just something you learn,” Taylor shared in the interview. With Baby Kutcher on the way, it is great to hear from other entrepreneur mamas that the business-baby balance is something I’ll figure out in time.
How to Stay Productive While Working from Home
It takes a certainly personality to find success working from home. While it sounds like a wonderful privilege to never leave your home office and wear lounge clothes all day (and it can be!) working from home is still very much work.
To be successful and productive while working from home it helps to create a routine for yourself. Taylor takes 20 minutes after she drops her kids off at school to tidy up her home, clean up the messes the kids left in their path, and cross a few household items off her list all while listening to a podcast and pouring a little more coffee. This routines makes her feel organized and ready to start working.
“I sign on around 9 a.m. and once I’m signed on, it’s very hard for me to sign off!”
Can you relate? Anyone else get into the zone, head down in the work, and before you know it it’s 2 p.m. and you still need to feed and bathe yourself? Ah, yes, the glamorous life of an entrepreneur.
Prioritizing Work Tasks
As a multi-passionate entrepreneur with several projects going at once, it’s easy to feel like your brain has a bunch of tabs open at the same time. You know that overwhelming feeling? For Taylor, she found a way to combat the to-do list stress. First, she hired a business manager. The business manager helped to streamline things in the business and created systems to organize day to day items. She introduced Taylor’s team to Slack (we’re a big fan of Slack on Team Jenna Kutcher) and Asana (a project management platform) to propel the entire team and business forward.
Hiring a business manager isn’t always an option if you’re just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, but productivity programs and platforms like Slack and Asana can help you manage that overwhelming “which tab is the music coming from?” feeling we can sometimes experience as a multi-passionate entrepreneur.
You know I’m a big fan of this, and Taylor really drove it home in this episode, but start each day with your “Big Three” tasks. What three things must get done today to move your business forward? If all you do today is tackle those three most important things, and nothing else, that’s okay. Use your top three as a guideline to structure your day so the most important, most pressing items are completed.
Staying Inspired When Your Passion Becomes Your Business
You turned your passion into your career. AMAZING! But things can get tricky. When your passion becomes your business, it’s responsible for supporting other people and there’s more pressure to make strategic decisions that are good for the business, and not just introduce your latest creative idea without weighing it’s business value. Since Glitter Guide has grown, Taylor needed an outlet where there isn’t so much pressure to make business decisions, and more space to experiment and stay creative. She launched her personal website that allows her the freedom to create as she likes. She even joked, “You know what, I’m not even going to do Google Analytics on this site!”
When you run a business, doing the thing you’re most passionate about becomes a small percentage of your day to day work. Starting out as a photographer I was shooting photos 2% of the time and the rest of my time was spent answering e-mails, building a website, and other work that helped the business grow, but they weren’t necessarily the tasks that I was passionate about. When you struggle to find motivation to work on the more business-y tasks, Taylor suggests treating them as a priority and scheduling time to make them important. Set aside 45 minutes or an hour to tackle the items that don’t seem as exciting or creative, but are important to the business.
Dealing with Creative Drought
Even highly creative people like Taylor Sterling experience creativity blocks. The creativity droughts can come in waves, and for Taylor, it’s usually fueled by self doubt.
“I have to remember nothing is totally brand new anymore. It just has to be your own take, your own spin. You don’t have to create something completely brand new — almost nobody does. You need to have your own take and put your blinders on and ignore all of the noise out there,” she explained.
Feeling blocked? Creativity not flowing? Take a moment to unplug. If one minute you’re feeling inspired and alive with creativity, but scrolling Instagram somehow puts you on a downward spiral, it’s time to unplug from the internet and plug away on your work. Create… And THEN consume. It’s a practice I try live by (but still get caught breaking!)
Taylor’s Top Tip to Manage a Busy Schedule
Create routines for yourself and be really, really strict.
There’s no way to balance it all. You will always have things you need to do on the personal side, and things you have to do for the business, and you’ll keep adding stuff to your plate… But welcome routines into your life and set boundaries in your personal and work schedules. Compartmentalizing your time and tasks will increase your focus and make the balancing act a little less crazy.
Taylor shares so much about staying creative and passionate in her business, how her kids provide an endless source of inspiration, and what she’s doing to grow her brand in this episode of The Goal Digger Podcast. If you’re listening right now, leave a comment and share how YOU have tackled a creative drought in your life.