Piglet etching, detail, by Amy CrookI have a confession to make: right now, as of this writing, I only have seven clients. One of those clients has been working with me since I first started out as a lowly desktop publisher back in 1996. One of those clients just hired me at the end of December for a single project. One hired me back in August for a single project that’s just now finishing up, but another hired me for a single project in 1999 and has been with me ever since, so you never know.

The thing is, I never wanted to have so many clients that I needed a CRM and invoicing software just to keep track of them. My needs are, in all honesty, pretty modest — though that’s a confession for another post — and I like having a lot of free time to do whatever I like, whether it’s play Facebook games or participate in NaNoWriMo, make art or read books. It’s that quiet time that gives me the energy and space to incubate my client projects and create something unique, or at least as good as I can manage, for every project.

This small list of clients means that when someone asks to have something changed today, pretty please, I can usually accommodate them. It means I can send out handmade holiday cards, and write something thoughtful and sincere in each one. It means every one of my clients is a person to me, and many of them start as or become friends. It means sometimes I can take a whole day off to go visit someone in their office so we can brainstorm their next big idea together.

I do want to do a little big of expansion this year, and some of that has to do with expanding my own skills. That free time I mentioned above has helped me develop my illustration style on the side, so I can offer some new services. I read marketing blogs as much for the advice I can give to my clients when we’re building their sites as for my own business. What I aim to do is find a balance between money stress and work stress, so that each client gets the best of me, and knows that they’re on a very short list of people who can say that.

Some designers do a wonderful job putting out a site in short time, for a wide variety of clients, and I even sometimes envy them, but that’s not who I am. Every website, every logo, every cartoon requires thought and creativity, trial and error, and time to burble through the creative distillery in my brain until it comes out as refined as I can manage.

With a list the size of mine, each client gets individual attention from me, and while I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I get tired of hand-holding, most of the time I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Havi StuffThe actual title of the class is “Stuff Havi thinks you should know about how to get really really great testimonials and referrals,” but that’s a little long for a blog post.

I took this class when it was live, many months ago, and have just recently been reminded of how great the info in it is, so I thought I’d do a review. I’m doing “Other People Tuesdays” on the blog as an experiment, alternating guest posts with reviews.

Back to Havi’s awesome class. First of all, if you’re at all familiar with Havi, you’ll know that she’s a big fan of making things as easy on everyone involved as possible, and her advice about referrals and testimonials is no different. She gives you several ways to get both, too, that work in different situations; I won’t give them away here, but I’ve used all of them to great effect.

Actually, I used the full suite of Testimonial Techniques just recently, when I was gathering people’s reactions to being Cartoonified for my portfolio. A couple of people sent me great testimonials when they got their cartoons, and it started me thinking that I’d like one to go with each of the images on the page. I began to despair, thinking of how hard it can be to get even people who otherwise love and adore you to write up something like this, and then instead of giving in to that feeling, I went and looked over my notes from this class.

If you click the link above, you’ll see that each one has a unique testimonial that fits neatly in the little box. I couldn’t have done that without the info in this class.

Havi’s advice is also brilliant for helping you get past that initial gulp of fear and into the ease of asking, too.

The Twitter version of my review of Havi’s class: The stuff in this class works, if you remember to use it.

PS – If you do go buy the class, Havi’s given permission for me to give away the secret:
Selma is her diva of a duck and business partner (she has her own wardrobe of fan scarves). Stu is her voice-to-text program who delights in tormenting her with really entertaining misunderstandings. Either one of these bits of info will get you $100 off the class, so don’t forget to use them!


Custom Moleskin, interior, by Amy CrookLet’s face is, there is no one real answer to why people blog — there’s daddy bloggers and Regretsy, Copyblogger and people who post photos of their pets. Everyone’s got a different reason to start, and a different reason to keep on.

This blog is a marketing piece for me — it’s something I both enjoy doing and that comes naturally to me, but I wouldn’t blog here, about the things I do, if it didn’t help me out in my business. I do put time and effort into making sure that most of my posts offer something, even if it’s only a cute cartoon or the chance to recommend your favorite brand of face wash.

I have had other blogs in other places, but they’re for different things. I post photos of my cat licking milk off his nose, talk about my favorite books and tv shows with like-minded friends, and rant about poor grammar on the internet. Okay, I do that last one here, but it’s a lot nicer. Those blogs allow me to connect with like-minded people for fun, to share things I’ve made or seen, and to be myself (okay, even there I’m perhaps nicer than in real life, where I’m actually deeply cynical and snarky).

What brought this subject up for me is a recent spate of high-end copy writers writing posts on their blogs talking about how it’s a big sweat shop that they’re forced to generate all this content for free, and to me, that seems like they’ve lost sight of the reason why they started blogging in the first place. I’m not talking about little hobbyist bloggers, either — these are people whose blogs serve to bring them into the spheres of their potential clients and customers, so that they can sell services, consulting, ebooks and more. And yet, despite that, they’re suddenly thinking they should also be paid for their blog posts.

So I have to ask, if their blog posts were paid, then how would people find them to know they wanted to pay for the posts? Would they have to start a second string of crappier, less useful blog posts to serve as their marketing? Would they just rely on their charming Tweets and good site design to lure people into subscribing?

There’s a ton, and I mean a ton of great info available on the web for free, because people have chosen to make it that way. But the people who write the best, most informative blogs aren’t doing it entirely out of the goodness of their hearts — they’re making a living off that time, effort and expertise, somehow, some way. Leo Baubuta writes a bunch of different blogs, but also sells books and gets ad revenue. Men With Pens gives a ton of great writing advice for bloggers, copy writers, and fiction writers, but they also sell a whole suite of services. Ittybiz writes excellent marketing and life lessons that are both entertaining and full of swearing, but she’s got expensive consulting, less expensive ebooks, a membership site, and more.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Sony spends a ton of money on their commercials, sometimes ones that are entertaining enough they get shared on websites everywhere for free — and yet, they wouldn’t expect you to pay to watch them, because they’re getting their return another way.

I’m not saying all blogs are advertising — but this one is, and the blogs I’ve mentioned above have marketing as a part of their purpose. When I post kitten pictures on my personal blog, I don’t expect to sell anything as a result, and a ton of hobby bloggers out there are posting for love and community.

So, I’ll ask again, why do you blog?


Bridget and I are trading guest posts today — enjoy her unique insight!

Photo Courtesy of Alicia Dickerson
I work as an intuitive. I have a very unique job. I look at my clients’ chakras and in doing so, I see metaphors about their lives. Each chakra, to me, looks like a little room, or a set on a stage.

The intuitive experience is strange. It’s like Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo and Lewis Carroll got together and had a party.

In the chakras of my clients, I see swirling or dancing furniture. I see strange people. I see thorns. Broken Glass. Laughing Children. I see colors forming and reforming.

It’s my job to see it and bring it out in the open where it can be useful for people. We use this information to help the client transcend their current conflicts and move forward in their lives.

In intuitive work, we take what’s at the edge of consciousness and make it conscious. We make the metaphors that shape our lives visible.

I want my blog to use visual metaphor just as beautifully, or as interestingly as my clients’ chakras do. So I look to photos and illustrations that capture the feeling of odd, yet familiar.

For example, I was recently writing about working at jobs that don’t sustain you. I wrote a blog post called “What to Do If Your Job is Dead.” Originally, I wanted to find a chalk outline of a dead body. I thought it’d be good to show that you shouldn’t stay in a job that’s killing you, because all you’ll leave is a chalk outline.

I couldn’t find a picture that I liked, but I found this foot with a tag on it, and a sheet behind it, that at first glance looks like ominous clouds. Feet are funny, too. There’s some dark comedy to this shot. It’s memorable, dreamlike and yet, it makes a point. Put a tag on it, it’s done.

Another example: I did a series on the Inner Me. This is an idea where we can talk with our soul and our soul talks back. We can access the warm wisdom within us. I wanted somebody that looks like me to appear in these posts. Since the soul seems ethereal, a hard to pin down concept, I knew I wanted the opposite. I wanted something very warm and accessible.

Coincidentally, I had taken Amy up on her Cartoonify Yourself offer. She had made a cartoon of me with a ball of fire and awesome boots. I realized that I was looking at the inner me! So I used her in a series of posts. Now I use her to illustrate my daily soul notes, a little note from the inner me for my readers. She will come up from time to time as I play with this idea of the inner me.

Bridget Pilloud by Amy Crook
The most important take-away from this approach to the visual in my blog, is that it is mostly done from the place of “no-thought”. I don’t have a calculating plan of how I want my blog to be. I just find images that speak to me with visual metaphors that personify the idea that I am getting across.

Bridget Pilloud is an intuitive guidance counselor, an intuition teacher and a facilitator of energetic healing. She also works with people and their pets. Her work can be found at http://www.bridgetpilloud.com and at http://www.petsaretalking.com. On Twitter, she’s @intuitivebridge.


At least, in an ideal world I’d certainly be able to post cartoons every week and be forced to find other days for actual content. 😉

I’ve finally gotten a chance to draw a chibi cartoon of a client, so now there’s examples of someone other than me in all 3 styles. This is Camille Reigle, who’s still putting her Etsy shop together, but I’ll be sure to send you over there when she’s got it ready. She knits awesome stuff (and is kind enough to make special non-wool things for me!)

Camille Reigle by Amy Crook

And then we have the sort of thing I draw when I’m idle, and then make into a Valentine.

Weeble Cthulu and Shoggoth by Amy Crook

If you’d like to prevent more of this sort of thing in the future, feel free to volunteer to Be a Cartoon yourself! The price is going up March 1, so get it while it’s still cheap.


My Busy Valentine by Amy Crook
This Monday was the third and final installment of Blonde Chicken’s Share Your Thing teleclass, and I was kind of sad it was over! She had a ton of great things to say about making a living with art and handcrafts online. I bit the bullet and bought into the course right before the first call, and I’m really glad I did — I can see how it will offer me a good return on my investment (and not just because of the affiliate link love).

Now, I’ve gone to a lot of free & paid teleclasses in the past year, and some of them aren’t really worth the hour or three of my life they take up, but this one was worth the time and money both. I’m still trying to get Antemortem Arts off the ground, and one of the ways I’ve been doing that is with an Etsy shop. Sadly, though, I haven’t seen much activity on Etsy, and so I wanted to see if this class could help point me in a better direction, since what I’ve been doing has clearly not worked.

Tara (that’s the Chicken’s real name) is a cheerful and enthusiastic speaker, and she dealt with difficulties with great aplomb. I’m not sure if I should tell this story, but the second class ran a little short because she spilled coffee on herself — but you’d never have known it from the call! Her friendly tone never wavered, and her advice is rock solid.

The best part about the class was not only that she gives you a ton of ideas, but she encourages you to experiment with all the different marketing ideas and then stick with the ones that feel good and genuine for you. Not only does forcing yourself make your social media seem forced and fake, but you won’t see much return. And she did discuss Return on Investment in a clear, awesome way — you’ll get to hear my charming voice on the Q&A; call asking about it, in fact!

I don’t want to give too much away, but if you do any kind of handmade awesomeness and want to sell it online, this call is a great place to start. She even gives you handouts for reference!

Click Here to buy the Share Your Thing Course (and give me an affiliate payment woo).

P.S. Just a few days after starting to implement her advice, I made my first sale to a complete stranger, followed by 3 more a few days later. Result!


Holly and Didy by Amy Crook
I’m Holly, and thanks to Amy, I am now a cartoon. I am also proud to call myself both a client and friend of Amy’s. So, while I could easily spend all day telling you how awesome Amy is, if you’re reading this, you probably know that already. So, what I’m going to talk about today is going to sound like one of those Alice in Wonderland riddles, but it’s really a simple concept: How is a cartoon like copywriting?

For some background, I’m a copywriter. In particular, I’m a copywriter who specializes in capturing voices. Clients come to me with a sales page, and then a process starts. I listen to them talk, I read their material, and I find out as much about them as I possibly can. All so I can write the wordy equivalent of one of Amy’s cartoons. Which is quite honestly why I wanted a cartoon for my website. Her cartoons capture people in the same spirit as my copy does.

Holly's shining faceBut rather than sound like an ad, I really want to talk about how cartoons and copy are similar, and can serve the same purpose on a website. It’s a whole different way to express yourself on your site, and equally valuable and interesting. Cartoons, by nature, reflect the truth of a person. Cartoons, by nature, are also exaggerated for effect. People are larger, louder, and more colorful in a cartoon. It’s still them, but maybe not the person you’d meet in a business setting, or at the park on a weekend. But that’s great, because if you’re a business, part of the key to making money is being yourself. Not just in a quiet way, but in a loud, colorful and powerful way.

Good marketing copy does the same thing. It captures the essence of you, and then exaggerates it in a way that draws people in, and shows off your personality loudly in the best possible light. Like a cartoon, this doesn’t always equate to loud and obnoxious writing. The true sell is in the details. On my cartoon, it’s the little sweater on my dog that has a royal crest, because he’s named after the canine knight from the movie Labyrinth. Someone is going to see that on my site and know what kind of person I am, just from that little detail. In the amazingly fun world of the internet, I would bet real money that someone would make a copywriting inquiry on that detail alone. That wasn’t something I planned or requested: it was something Amy added from her knowledge of me, and of my love for muppet movies and my dog.

Didy's sweet faceIn an ideal world, that’s what great writing does too. It captures the small details that make up who you are, and presents them in an intriguing and marketable way. It’s not about neon orange and green, or about large bold text with yellow highlighter. When it comes down to it, good marketing, in whatever form is always about people.

That awful overused saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? Sometimes, in marketing, it’s really true. And sometimes, you need the words too, but they need to paint their own picture; one that is equally real, and equally cartoony.

Holly is the founder and chief pirate queen of Cottage Copy, along with her canine co-manager, Sir Didymus. You can find her on twitter as @copygeniusgirl, and on her blog.


First off, congrats to CaZ (@candysbytes) for winning the Tiny Painting (and answering her email)! These take a bit longer than the cartoons, but I’ll be sure to post here when it’s done.

Second, we have a pair of cartoons. First up is Avonelle Lovhaug (@AvonelleL), who wanted to see herself with a sassy Code Poet t-shirt and her tablet PC:

AvonelleL by Amy Crook

And then Holly Jackson (@copygeniusgirl) let me draw her up “weeble style” with her beloved puppy, Didy:

copygeniusgirl by Amy Crook

I’ve had a ton of fun doing these, though they do seem to take longer than I originally thought, so if you want one, get yours soon! I’ll be upping the price on March 1 (once the awesome art sale is over).


Not Dead Yet Studios wants to help out.

I went freelance in January of 1998, so in a way my ittybiz is firmly in its tweens. Antemortem Arts, however, is only a few months old and just starting to learn to walk. So, to give the art site a boost, I’m doing two things:

  • Buy any art piece off of AntemortemArts.com or my Etsy shop for at least $100, and I’ll make you into a cartoon for free (including the original, that’s a $45 value). Multiple pieces that add up to $100 will also get the cartoon — just make sure you let me know that’s your intention.
  • For every sale I make, I’ll donate $10 to Doctors Without Borders (or a charity of your choice) to help with the crisis in Haiti. If I make $1000 or more in sales, that’ll go up to $20 a sale or $100 total, whichever is bigger.

The cool thing about this sale is that it includes pretty much everything the Antemortem site. Painting, prints, sculptures, you name it. The world is your oyster. And if you don’t find anything that really speaks to you, this offer is also good on commissions! You can commission paintings in several sizes and price ranges, all custom made to reflect your personal passions — and as long as you make the deposit before the deadline, it counts.

Chibi Fairy by Amy CrookSometimes you really need the perfect gift, but you can’t seem to find it. Well, I’m good at gift giving! I can help you take the stress off your plate and find a great gift for someone important in your life. (I won’t mention That Holiday, as it is scary and can cause panic, but this can help you with that, too).

Now, like anything in this world, there is always fine print. Orders made after February 5th may not arrive by the Big Holiday, as I am human and drawing a cartoon of your lovely self (or the person you love) takes time. I’m going away that weekend so I won’t be available to ship anything ordered after Wednesday the 10th, but the sale will run all the way through the holiday — President’s Day on Monday, February 15th, of course. (What, you thought I meant a different holiday?)

Just remember, commissions require a collaborative process, and while they count toward the offer they definitely will not be ready by the Big Day. So take advantage of the sale, but make sure you plan ahead.

Got questions, comments, or want me to help you pick out the perfect gift? Drop me a line and I’ll get back to you!

PS – if you’re one of my recent Be a Cartoon clients, never fear! I’ll refund $45 of any purchase you make that qualifies. Or draw your dog. Whichever.


I haven’t yet heard back from my Tiny Painting winner (check your spam folders!), so I’m going to delay that announcement for a few more.

Until then, we have — Cartoons!

First, there’s the official Contest Winner, Diane Stokes! She’s @DSinAZ on Twitter, and she’s already splashed her new face all over the place, awesome!

And then, the wonderful Bridget Pilloud (@intuitivebridge on Twitter) decided to buy a cartoon of herself, which was awesome. I had great fun designing her Chakralicious fireball, not to mention giving her designer knockoff boots.

I’m working on a third one for another paying customer (yay!), plus I got to do a great custom Moleskine of Anais Nin for Holly (@copygeniusgirl), as well as an elephantalicious custom journal for her. Sharpie Marker ftw.