Making time to be creative isn’t an add-on to your job – it IS your job

pexels-photo-17I believe that creativity is something that we are all capable of. As human beings we are skilled at using our imagination and of generating original ideas to create something; which according the Oxford English dictionary is the definition of creativity.

Yet when asked if we are creative few people really believe in their own creative abilities.

How creativity manifests itself is different for everyone. Some of us are artists, musicians, wordsmiths or chefs, some people see beauty in numbers and others in connecting previously unconnected ideas, some of us can see solutions in complex data, others are creative storytellers. We are all unique.

How we tap into, or access our creative self is also different for each of us. When I ask people where they have their best ideas, most people tell me about times when they are not working, or feeling relaxed, popular places are in the shower, walking the dog, driving, running, cycling or on the toilet.

For may of us the pressure and adrenalin of a looming deadline helps to focus the mind, but the most enjoyable creativity involves people working alone and working together and building on each others ideas which are incubated over time.

The question I get asked a lot is, ‘How do you make time to be creative when you have a busy day job?’

My answer is that making time to be creative isn’t something you do in addition to your day job – IT IS YOUR DAY JOB.

Whatever your role you are going to be up against a changing environment; economic uncertainty, political turmoil, changing demographics, fast-moving technology and changing customer needs. If as an individual, team or organisation you are not carving out time as part of ‘business as usual’ to think creatively about how you can provide the best products and services in your industry, delight your customers and add more value to the world than your competition, then at best you are missing an opportunity, and at worst you will be left behind and before too long waking up to your own Kodak moment.

I’m not saying that it’s easy to just ‘be creative’, but I am saying that its essential to make it part of your day job.

Four tips for making creativity part of your day job

  • Put regular time in your diary to think creatively. Treat it like you are booking a very important meeting with yourself that cannot be moved.
  • Get out of the office, go for a walk or to a museum or gallery, walk the dog or sit on the toilet. Just go to your place where you can relax and think clearly without interruption.
  • Avoid distractions by taking a digital detox. Switch off your phone, laptop or tablet. Get a notebook to write notes in. Focus on the problem in hand and do not get distracted by anything else.
  • Do this things regularly, rain or shine so that you eventually make it a habit.

If you are interested in honing your creativity skills, get in touch. Lucidity offers a free innovation toolkit as well as half-day and one-day workshops to help your team turn on their creative thinking to get better results. Check out the Lucidity website for more information or drop me a line.

How beard oil could lubricate your fundraising

bobertbrushA guest post by Bobert Brush.

Three years ago I was working in an office. Then I took the plunge and threw myself headfirst into becoming an Internet entrepreneur.

It took a lot of hard slog, but I eventually got to the point where I was supporting myself and my family with my online business – mainly via affiliate marketing.

But I felt strangely unfulfilled. I had enough money to meet my needs, but oddly – the less I had, the happier I was. I decided to dedicate my next project to raising money for other people, instead of myself.

And I wanted to put this post out, in case you might be able to draw any inspiration from my ideas.

Let me explain what I mean.

Have you ever happened across an ‘affiliate site’ whilst surfing the web?

I bet you have.

But you may not have realised it.

Let’s say you are searching around on Google for something you need – maybe the ‘best blender’ or ‘best lawnmower’. Low and behold, somewhere on the first page there is a handy website giving reviews and comparisons on all the latest and greatest products.

You click on a button and – whoosh – it takes you over to the manufacturer’s web-site where you can buy the product.

You may not have even realised, but the referring website owner makes a commission (normally between 5-75%) on that sale.

Affiliate marketing for fundraising

If you are working in a fundraising capacity, have you considered using affiliate marketing to raise funds for your charity?

Check out Affiliate Programs 101 and Online Marketing Basics for some background information if you are new to this idea.

Here are the main steps involved.

  • Pick a product in a low competition niche. This means something relatively obscure, say for example Swiss army knives or exotic coffees. If you go for something extremely popular like wrist watches you’ll find it much harder to get noticed.
  • Define a brand based around the product and a charitable theme. For example, my brand The Beard Oil Pledge
  • Choose a supplier with an affiliate program (see the background article on Affiliate Programs 101 above to see what I mean).
  • Design and setup a branded website, or setup a section on your organisation’s existing website dedicated to your affiliate campaign and embed your affiliate links.
  • Receive a monthly payment from your affiliate partner and put it to work within your organisation.
  • Continue to promote your site and monitor the income levels. The more traffic you can get to your site – via social media or search engines – the more funds you will raise.

Don’t underestimate the commitment needed to get a new site up and running. It can take up to 6 months to get an affiliate site off the ground, but once it’s generating funds, it won’t stop – and you can sit back (to a degree).

You should expect to invest anywhere between £100 – £1000 in web design and setup to get a new affiliate web site up and running in the first instance.

Then, the only requirement is your time – to go about promoting the site with internet marketing techniques. Expect to work on the campaign 2-3 days a week for the first 6 months before it starts generating meaningful income.

The exact amount of funds you can expect to raise will depend on the product you target and the size of this ‘niche’. As an example, with my beard oil site, based on the income I make as an Internet entrepreneur for similar sized niches, I hope to raise £300,000 over 3 years.

But what’s this all got to do with beard oil?

Beard oil itself actually has nothing to do with this fundraising technique.

You need to look beyond the beard oil.

This was simply a product niche I chose (based on an interest of mine – my beard) because it was low competition and had a decent number of affiliates available.

We currently donate our affiliate commissions to Mary’s Meals, via whom we have sponsored the meals for the Habitat Primary School in Malawi. Just £6,796 will provide a daily meal for the 557 students at the school for an entire 12 months.

It feels good to raise money for others.

Bobert Brush is founder of The Beard Oil Pledge – He has a vision of combining cutting edge digital marketing with philanthropic concepts. You can check out all his wonderful beard oil reviews here.

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