Avoiding Burnout: AKA How to Keep Your Creativity Alive

When I first started Reux Design Co. I didn't know what I was doing in a lot of areas. Like many new business owners, my process was basically "wing it and find out." Those months consisted of designing and redesigning my site, trying to price my services, growing a social presence and MANY long days working well into the night. 

If there's one thing that really killed my business during that time, it was burnout. After working myself to the bone day in and day out, I was struggling every day to find the motivation to get up and work. By the time I opened Photoshop, I had no ideas in my head and I found myself staring blankly at branding boards trying to design logos. 

A lack of structure, working WAY too many hours, and no self care left me feeling completely deflated. It took some (more) trial and error, but eventually I figured out a few ways to help myself feel more excited about work and avoid that nasty burnout feeling.

I pulled everything together into a quick video to share, because I'm sure some of you have also dealt with this issue in your business. Read on to see the tips!

PS — This video was first live on my YouTube channel. You can head over there & subscribe to make sure you see all of the content we put out weekly. 

In case you skipped the video & was to read what I talked about, here are the six tips I have for avoiding burnout like a pro! You don't have to do them all, all the time, but even a few each week will help immensely. Or at least that's been my experience. 

ONE | Make your personal projects a priority over client work.

This is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. And after reading a post from a fellow designer Melissa, I definitely think it should be number one on your list. Make it a priority to take time away from client work and do things just for yourself, just for the fun of it, or simply because you're inspired. 

TWO | Embrace the cycle of ups and downs.

Just like everything in life, creativity is a cycle. Similar to nature, seasons, our bodies even, being creative has it's ebbs and flow. Make sure to listen to that & use it as a guide. When you're feeling inspired & on top of the world, get sh*t done! Work hard, take on new projects, get it all out into the world. On the other hand, if you're feeling slow or uninspired, take time off. Sit outside, read a book or just unwind for a while. Don't force yourself to be creative when you aren't. It just doesn't work that way.

THREE | Avoid checking your email right when you wake up.

You can't ignore emails forever. But it's definitely not the most inspiring way to start your day. Avoid checking your emails until noon, or even 10am. Work first, do something creative for yourself or clients first. (**As a note: if you're more creative in the afternoon/evening, then reverse this! Do emails first and reserve your creative time for inspiring work.)

FOUR | Set true working hours and limits.

Take the weekend off. Take the evenings off. The biggest mistake I made when first starting Reux Design Co. was working ALL. THE. TIME. I seriously never gave myself any real time off. And it caught up to me fast! You have to give yourself some time to live life & enjoy those around you. This will make it easier to come back to work on Monday feeling refreshed & motivated. 

FIVE | Go out into the world!

This is one of my favorite things to do. I would happily work from a coffee shop every day if given the choice (and the budget, ha!). Being around other people, even just in the same space as them, makes me feel excited and productive like no other place. So, go be in the world! Whether it's a coffee shop like me, or a museum, a park, a bookstore. Just get out of your house/office and into a new environment. It's quite refreshing. 

SIX | Start a personal project or challenge.

Similar to No. 1, this is all about doing something fun, without client limitations. It doesn't have to be extravagant, but even a week long challenge can spark some renewed creativity in you. Don't put any pressure on yourself, but just explore some new ideas or concepts that have been floating around in your brain. It might even get you more attention on social media, or be the beginning of a new product for your business! 


I know for myself that I always go through phases. I've have a hard month where I feel super unmotivated and uninspired with everything that I'm doing. That was may for me. But coming back to these 6 things helps a lot to find my footing again & feel like my creative self. 

What do you do to avoid burnout? Do you have any other tips that work for you?

What Should You Share on Social Media

For months I've been playing around with the idea of starting a second Instagram account strictly for my business. It sounds like such a small decision but really there's a lot of controversy about this topic in the business world. 

Some people will tell you that the best way to grow your company is to produce strictly business related content, 100% of the time. Always be promotion and pointing towards your business. Others go the route of mixing in some personal content here and there, whether it's a shot of their cute babe, a coffee run with friends of a weekend activity. Those creatives would tell you that showing some personal content helps to make their business more relatable, honest or connected. 

As usual when I have a lot to say about something, I decided to film a video.

PS — This video originally appeared on my YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe to the channel to be the first to see new content every week.

how to share content on social media | Reux Design Co.

There are a few main questions that I had in mind while filming. I would love to start a conversation here or in the video comments, about all of our thoughts on this topic! 

IS YOUR BUSINESS SEPARATE OR A PART OF YOU? DO YOU WANT IT TO BE IT'S OWN ENTITY?

SHOULD YOUR BUSINESS HAVE IT'S OWN SET OF STANDARDS, GUIDELINES, MORALS & VALUES?

DO YOU WANT TO BE SEEN AS PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL?

You can watch the video here or click through to see it on YouTube.

All in all, I think I lean more towards the side of sharing personal photos mixed in with the business side of things. I think it better attracts my ideal customers who don't just want branding but want a custom, one-on-one experience when they work for me. Also, I think people enjoy seeing the BTS of a creative entrepreneur! I know I do.


What do you share on social media? Do you prefer when businesses are strictly business or show a more personal side? Let me know!

Inspiration from Creative Women Entrepreneurs

Sometimes when you're on the journey of owning a business, the only thing you need is for other creative entrepreneurs to say "Yes, I've been there. I know what you're going through. Here's what helped me." 

Throughout my time as a student, recent college graduate, and now business owner, I've met some incredible ladies who all have influenced me. Whether they were my intern advisor directly, or I've watched them grow their business through Instagram + social media, they all have such inspiring stories. 

So, in the interest of sharing knowledge, today I asked 12 of my favorite creative women entrepreneurs to give their advice on branding, running a business & creating every day. Their feedback was incredible, so make sure to read on for all of the great advice. And check out their sites/businesses if you're never heard of them!

branding & business tips from creative entrepreneurs | Reux Design Co.

amy.png

"Focus on your vision. Block out all the surrounding noise. Make sure what you are doing makes you feel good about yourself. And listen more than you talk."
— Amy Levin, Founder: CollegeFashionista

"Cross-train your creativity! 

Being creative for your job is both an incredible blessing and curse at the same time. Making mood boards, seeking inspiration, brainstorming ideas, playing around with design elements - that's the good stuff. Burnout, forced creativity, meeting deadlines, inspiration ruts - the not-so-good stuff. 

To avoid the latter, I find it important to pursue creative projects just for fun and to intentionally flex a different creative muscle than I'm used to in my day-to-day. Since I work mainly in digital, I recently started painting and hand embroidering. I also play guitar and write songs - though it's a different type of creativity than traditional art or design, I think any type of creative exploration outside of your job, makes you in turn better at being creative within your job. 

Think of your brain like you would a muscle in your body. If you do the same exercise every single day, 1) you'll get bored of it and 2) you'll only work certain muscles certain ways. Just like you cross-train your physical body, cross-training the creative area of your brain is just as important. "
— Molly, Co-Founder: the lala

Tayler Gunn Wildbird advice

"The most important investment you can make is in your team. Be careful and only hire the best of the best."
— Tayler, Founder: WildBird

lauren saylor a fabulous fete advice

Make sure that you make time for projects that are just for you. Running a creative business means that you are in charge of ALL the things, including attracting your ideal client. If you aren't taking the time to create work that is 100% YOU, than you probably aren't putting work into the world that is going to attract your dream customer. Sometimes you can get caught up in what other people want, inspiration they bring to you that isn't very you, and in the beginning you take it on because... bills, life, you want to be able to feed yourself, etc;) I realized last year that my work was heading in a direction I didn't want to go. I had been making pretty things that were great, but I was doing it more because that's what was trending in the wedding world at the time. I wasn't head over heels for it (which you should be, it's YOUR business and YOUR work). So I started slowly creating and only sharing things that I wanted my ideal clients to see and request. And now I am bringing in people that I am so excited to work with instead of just working for to make money.
— Lauren, Founder + hand-letterer: A Fabulous Fete

wilde house paper advice

Our ride or die advice for running a creative business is to constantly stay inspired. Our subscription boxes require us to create new ideas & designs every single month which is definitely a challenge that we have a love-hate relationship with. Our daily inspiration sources are of course Instagram & Pinterest, but we both find a lot of our inspiration through things that we are passionate about in our lives outside of WH: fashion, color, texture, art, travel & plants (yes we are very passionate about plants).
— Megan & Lauren, Co-Founders: Wilde House Paper

the shift creative advice - alexis

Value people. That has to be the goal or else we get caught up in what we want, and step on or disregard people to get it. The aftermath of that is often people won't want to work with you in the future. No matter how good you may be at your job if you aren't relating to the client or your employees, growth won't occur.
— Alexis, Event Designer: The Shift Creative

june letters studio advice

My best advice for running a creative business is to stay curious and ambitious in your own creative exploration. Work on personal projects for the love of it and share the results. Doing so will keep you motivated and creatively fulfilled - and may help attract your ideal clients or new career opportunities.
— Jess, Designer & Illustrator: June Letters Studio

So many things come to mind, but one thing is to push beyond your fears and don't be afraid to try new things. It's scary putting yourself out there online and there are always a million reasons to not go for it, but if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. So push past that and follow those intuitions! I love the quote " Failure is not the opposite of success, it's a part of success."

Also, I would say consistency is so vital. Consistency with your process, consistency with your branding, consistency with your clients... It really goes a long way with building a brand and starting to carve out your niche. Consistent action will lead to consistent results, and it's essential to success.
— Morgan, Co-Founder: October Ink

elle design company advice

Dare to be different. Don't look at what everyone else is doing and follow suit. Instead, make your brand, your process, and your offerings your own. Not only will this differentiate you from others in your industry, but it will make your business memorable and a lot more fun to follow along with. 
— Lauren, Graphic Designer + Coach: Elle & Company Design

annie spano style collective advice

01. Establishing a brand from the ground up requires education, lots and LOTS of education. All the time. #CantStopWontStop You will feel like a broken record telling your story over and over, but people need to be reminded (everyone is busy) or you need to make that connection with new clients. “More is more and less is a bore.”

02. Create an emotional connection with your clients so they become ADDICTED to your brand. When you want something and are emotional, you make irrational decisions. You can sell anything for whatever price if you have captured your clients through an emotional connection. Think about Chanel and Louis Vuitton, sure these luxury items are beautiful and well-made, but WHY do we crave a bag that costs thousands of dollars? It is the emotional connection of their brand. People crave the status and the luxury for themselves and to show off to others.

04. Create life-long fans by giving people recognition. They will ALWAYS remember this gesture of kindness and be loyal fans who stick around AND help spread your message. Read 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly to find out why.
— Annie, Founder: Style Collective
 

rachael lunghi advice

I think my ride-or-die advice would be to just be yourself and keep true to who you are. Know your brand and what makes you you and werk it <3 And to be kind. Always, even when it's hard. You can be straightforward and a boss lady, but you can always do it with kindness.
— Rachael, Founder & Creative: Lace & Likes and The Romantik Studio

saffron avenue

I think my biggest piece of advice for anyone who is at the beginning stages of a business is to be honest.  Sometimes I think that as new business owners we think we can do it all, but we really can't. I remember when I first started I had a client come to me wanting certain things design/created on her website and I said I could do it...when in reality I couldn't. It resulted in me losing a ton of time, some money, and potentially having a very upset client (I had to separately pay a developer to help me out).  It's okay to be honest and let them know that you may not be able to do it, but can either recommend someone or need to bring someone else into the project as an additional cost. Because, wouldn't the client rather get realistic expectations, pay a little extra, and have a site that they love...over one they had high expectations of?

Also, something I've learned as well is to be transparent. If you are getting stuck on a design, let them know. If you don't quite like the direction it's going, let them know. If you completely messed up on something, let them know! We are all real people and trust me, they will appreciate your honesty over anything!
— Angela, Designer & Calligrapher: Saffron Avenue

noirve studio vanessa wade advice

My piece of advice when running your own creative business would be to set aside time to create just for fun. Often times we get stuck in the day to day of running a business; answering emails, going through revisions with clients, sending out invoices. Make time to be creative for yourself whether that be getting out to take photos, taking a pottery class or even working on your own personal project.
— Vanessa, Graphic Designer: Noirvé Studio


Thanks again to each one of these creative ladies who I look up to so much. I love being able to learn & grow with them and I hope you gained some useful insight too. 

PS — If you have any creative or business advice that you'd like to add, please leave it in a comment below, or send it to me on twitter!

We're Hiring! Reux Design Co. Summer & Fall Intern

Woohoo! Today's an exciting day everyone, because we're looking to add to our team! I loved interning when I was in college and even afterwards, especially with small companies & entrepreneurs. In fact, that's how I got enoungh experience and practice to eventually quit my Social Media Management job and start this company. 

So today we're starting our search for a graphic design & social media intern! We're looking for summer and/or fall interns, based in OC. If you're interested, read on for details. 

Interested? Email us & we'd love to chat to see if you're the right fit!