Tag Archives: Empire Building Kit

I’m Good At My Art….Now, Show Me The Money!

If you’re like me, you may be passionate about your craft – creating art – but a lot less passionate about proclaiming your genius from the rooftops.  A few years ago when I was working at my jewelry design and manufacturing business, I purchased a guide for do-it-yourselfers called The Empire Building Kit by author – not to mention the force behind The Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau.  I diligently worked through the 365 dedicated, task-a-day emails and just as I was finishing…

Broadway blues detail framed

moved to New York City.

Exciting as that move was, it meant that I had to completely reevaluate my jewelry business.   Soldering tanks – which were essential to the creation of my jewelry – are not allowed in residential apartments.  And I wasn’t about to seek an outside studio space rental when the rent on our 1-bedroom New York apartment was roughly the same as the mortgage we payed on a 5-bedroom house in the Midwest!  So I went back to the drawing board.


(I mean that literally!)

As my illustration business is gaining traction, I decided this past fall to revisit the Empire Building Kit.  I knew that there were quite a few tasks the first time around that I wasn’t able to do because my business (or I) wasn’t in the right place.  Furthermore, although the Empire Building Kit has great stuff in it, since it’s not specifically targeted to artists, applying some of the lessons can take, well…creative thinking.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I recently learned that Chris Guillebeau is launching a new guide dedicated, this time, to creative types like ME!

Over the moon cropped detail

The guide is called Designed to Sell and it’s launching today!  As one of Chris’ affiliates, I’ve been given the opportunity to take a sneak peak at the guide and I’m excited by what I’ve read so far.  Specifically, if Jen and Omar at These Are Things can make a 6-figure income selling their maps, greeting cards, and images, then I figure there’s got to be a (lucrative) place for my art in this world, too!

If you’re interested in learning more about Designed to Sell, take a look here.

(P.s. I understand from Chris that there are some fun bonuses for people who purchase the guide in the first week of the launch.  These include an invitation to an hour-long Q&A session with Jen, Omar and Chris; and, if you’re one of the first 100 buyers, a custom, handcrafted notebook.)



Filed under Art, education, industry news, Influences, wisdom

A Timely Offer from Chris Guillebeau at Unconventional Guides

Black and white photo of Grand Central Station

A few years ago I purchased the Empire Building Kit – an online 365 day course with a targeted daily email task – to help me get my business off the ground and running.  Recently, I decided to revisit the course (once you’ve purchased the course you have unlimited access to it) to see if I could implement more of the tasks that were beyond me a few years ago.  Maybe it’s just coincidence, but this time around I’ve been falling behind on some of the daily emails because my business has been, well…


So I thought some of my  readers with a more entrepreneurial bent might be interested to know that Chris Guillebeau, the mind and force behind the Empire Building Kit and other great products like the Art and Money Guide, has just announced a site-wide 20% off sale.  This coupon is good also on his latest product called The Unconventional Guide to Law & Order (no, we’re not talking the TV show here, but the nuts and bolts to the legal side of creating and running a business.)  To redeem your 20% coupon, just type in “pumpkin” in the coupon field upon checkout.  (Sale runs until Friday night, December 6th.)

Happy Shopping!

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Photo of cranberries arranged in a heart

As many of you know, I’m a fan of Chris Guillebeau, his Art and Money and Empire Building programs.  I keep up with Chris’ blog posts and always enjoy what he writes since I find it to be inspiring, honest and interesting.  If you’re looking to do something different with your life, or just want to re-inject a little meaning into what you already do, I highly recommend you follow Chris on his blog here.  Doing so is free, you’ll learn a lot, and you’re sure to be connected along the way with lots of interesting people from Chris’ community.

If you are interested in any of his products, make sure you take advantage of the ongoing 15% off sale on everything in his shop.  Just enter the discount code CRANBERRY upon checkout. (Note: this offer is valid until the close of Cyber Monday, so make sure you don’t miss out!)

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Empire Building Kit – Week 52 and Final Review Post!

Photo of Purple Flower, taken by Joana Miranda

On May 19th, 2010, I began a year-long journey with the Empire Building Kit.  This program, authored by Chris Guillebeau, promises to help you build a sustainable life-style business doing what you love in 1 year.  Daily inspiration, information and suggested courses of action for growing your business is delivered to your email inbox for 365 consecutive days.

Shortly after I started work in the course, I realized that it might be interesting to chart my weekly progress for others who might be curious, but not yet ready to take the plunge themselves.  The added bonus for writing weekly Empire Building Kit review posts on my blog, was that I had an extra incentive for keeping current with the daily EBK emails and not giving up if the going got tough.

Now, coming full circle in my journey with this project, I have a much better understanding of what I got from it.  Those highlights include:

  • Having the courage to quit my full-time job in one of the worst economies
  • Realizing that I had resources for income in the sale of my old possessions and equipment
  • Overcoming the “salesman” stigma and actually enjoying the process of asking for and making sales
  • Seeing an increase in my blog readership, due, no doubt, in part to Chris profiling me and my business in one of his EBK daily posts
  • Enjoying the benefits of being one of Chris’ affiliates and earning just under $1000 in affiliate sales
  • Charting my weekly and monthly planned tasks – and success with completing these – using the free Freelance Planners put out by Charlie Gilkey (one of Chris’ affiliates and profiled “Emperors”)
  • Facing my fear of not being good at something and taking the risk to ask for advice and help
  • Proving to myself that happiness doesn’t come from a job title, income level or possessions
  • Reinforcement that the world is populated by mainly good people trying to do good things
  • Aligning myself with the people (both online and off) who inspire and help me to be a better person
  • Learning about and practicing the art of successful negotiation
  • Believing in the power of dreams and being provided with ample proof of “Emperor-in-training” success stories to back up those dreams
  • Realization that the pursuit of a lifestyle business has helped me shift my entire focus and has left me feeling happier and more fulfilled than I can remember ever being

Along the way, I not only moved (from Wisconsin to New York City), but switched the focus of my business from hand-fabricated jewelry to designs and illustration.  (And while sales of my remaining in-stock jewelry have reduced my inventory to only 6 pieces, these are still available at a 30% discount here.  Enter the word celebration upon checkout to receive the discount.)

Switching business focus has put me, in a sense, back at Day 1 of the Empire Building Kit.  However, I am now armed with not only 365 days of great business building information that I can revisit, but I feel like I have a team of trusted mentors to continue to guide and inspire me!

For those of you who have followed my Empire Building Kit review posts, I thank you for keeping me company on the journey and wish you all success as you move forward on your own journeys to a fulfilling lifestyle business!


Filed under Empire Building Kit Review, Influences, Joana Miranda Studio, motivation, Review

Empire Building Kit – Week 47 and 48 Review (A Double Feature Illuminating the Importance of Human Relationships)

Photo of mosaic in NY subway station, taken by Joana Miranda

Usually Chris Guillebeau, the author of the Empire Building Kit, caps off each week in the EBK course by providing a look back over the high points of the week.  I’ve found that weekly marker to be very helpful; at the very least, I’m reminded of the passage of time and the need to keep up with the daily tasks he sets forth.  More importantly, since I’ve been taking notes throughout the course, the weekly reviews provide me with a convenient set of mini chapters – very handy when my business is not quite ready for one of the steps, but I know I’ll want to revisit it later.

Last week Chris broke with this tradition and went 9 days before he remembered that it was time for a weekly review.  Week 48 also finished (yesterday) without the usual recap.  So, in an effort to keep myself  on track, I’m still sticking to my weekly reviews here.

One of the interesting points brought up  in Week 47 was the important of knowing how to conduct a successful negotiation.  Too often, negotiations go bad because the opposing sides haven’t bothered to learn about each other.  Listening empathetically and trying to understand your opponent’s point of view is really the only way to move closer to a mutually satisfactory resolution.  This skill can be a make-or-break for your business, especially when it comes to dealing with your customers.

While I certainly haven’t mastered the art of negotiation, I have learned that most people operate from their own perspective and not from the desire to cause anyone else harm.   Anaïs Nin famously said…

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Even this tiny shift in understanding will help you to soften your stance and ask for what you need in a respectful, and maybe even friendly way.

In Week 48, the importance of cultivating relationships in your business was brought home again.  Among the list of assets in any business, is its subscriber list. Chris believes, in fact, that a businesses’ subscriber list is actually its #1 most important asset .  The quality of your subscriber list is in the quality of your relationship and interactions with your subscribers.  Treat them as just names or a number and you’ll quickly lose them.  If you nurture these relationships, you’ll not only have a tried and true fan base, but probably a lot more good friends as well.

I couldn’t agree more!  (And for those of you who subscribe to my blog or to the Joana Miranda Studio newsletter, look for an announcement of a subscriber-only special sale in the upcoming week.)

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Empire Building Kit – Week 46 Review (The Daily Pages – The Chore That Might Just Become Your Favorite Activity)

Photo of a field of daffodils taken by Joana Miranda

I love it when I experience a moment of synchronism!    Midway through the 46th week of the Empire Building Kit, I had an “ah hah!” moment.  On Day 326, Chris Guillebeau, the program’s author, profiled Buster Benson who is behind the website 750words.com.  This website is based on one of the core exercises discussed in Julia Cameron’s inspiring and helpful book, The Artist’s Way.  (If you’ve poked around on my blog a little, you’ll recognize it as one of the books listed under “Rocks” – books that have inspired me, and helped me to grow and learn as an artist.)  Julia believes that every artist – whether a writer or not – should start each day by writing 3 pages in a journal.  These pages are for the writer’s eye’s only; punctuation and spelling aren’t important and you don’t necessarily have to write coherent sentences either.  The idea is to get out of your head and down on paper the “chatter” that clutters your mind.  This chatter is often the barrier that keeps all of us artistic types from doing truly creative and great work.

Benson’s website is a departure from the pen-to-paper model since he claims that most people, like him, prefer the ease and facility of a computer and typing online.  Benson has figured out that 3 pages equates to about 750 words, hence the website’s title.  His website promises total privacy (you create your own log in and password for your online “journal”).  There’s a word counter that runs as you write so you know how close you are to your daily goal, as well as a point system and cute little badges to “reward” you for not missing a day of writing.  I’m told that his model is somewhat similar to Facebook’s Farmville, but since I haven’t ever played Farmville, I wouldn’t know.

If you are like me, the process of writing with a nice pen on actual paper somehow feels more gratifying, and, ultimately artistic!  But I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I could use carrot and stick approach, too.

My suggestion?  Read The Artist’s Way first, learn what the daily pages are all about, and then decide for yourself if you want to up the ante and join 750words.com!

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Empire Building Kit – Week 45 Review (To Discount or Not?)

Photo of Central Park South City View Across the Reservoir, taken by Joana MirandaIn Week 45 of the Empire Building Kit, one of the important topics addressed was whether or not you should offer discounts.  Chris Guillebeau, the program’s author, suggests that if you are going to create a discount coupon field on your website, you should be consistent and offer discounts.  If visitors to your website see a discount coupon field, they will assume that they can find a discount code somewhere for your product.  You don’t want to mislead them with the promise of a possible discount and then have no actual discount.

From my own small business experience, I’ve learned that it’s better to price fairly and not offer discounts unless they are for a specific event (holiday sale, inventory closing, etc.)  When I first started selling my jewelry, I told my family and closest friends that I would give a “Family and Friends” discount.  Initially, this was OK since I was market-testing my products and still trying to determine a fair pricing system.  However, as sales grew, I discovered that I was not only pricing myself too low to cover my costs and the time involved, but that the grey area of who should get the “friend” discount was a hard one for me to distinguish.  I love all of my customers and many of them have become friends; however, I still need to earn enough money from selling my products so that I can run a business!

As I’ve continued to add products to my A Talent for Design print and card shop, I’ve made every effort to price my products fairly.  I’m sure that the pricing will evolve as new products are introduced.   And if I decide to offer a discount, it will be open to all of my customers!

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