I give myself permission to make a living being the weirdo I am, and you should too.

A little backstory: I’m a brand and web designer for creative, deep-thinking entrepreneurs, but as I move through this arena with others like me, it is glaringly obvious that some of my core ethos may be different from the majority. That is absolutely ok with me, even if it seems like it can make life more difficult sometimes. It’s definitely more interesting than the alternative, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe with every fiber of my being that we can craft a business and a livelihood around what we get fired up about doing, or what we are just inherently good at, coupled with the focus and determination it takes. This looks different for each person, and so I’ve put together a list of the rules I live by that make me different from other brand and web designers, and may even be seen as detrimental by some. So far, it feels pretty damn good.

I don’t hustle.

Sure, I work hard, I have one of those old-fashioned work ethics that prioritizes my business as #1 most days and keeps me on a routine making progress every day towards my goals (even if I’m not quite sure what those goals are yet). But I also know the importance of only doing your important work when your mind is in the right head-space to do it. Simple tasks and to-dos that need to get done aside, producing real work that is based on your passion doesn’t happen on demand. I’m a big fan of the lock-yourself-in-a-room-with-nothing-but-your-idea and don’t come out until it’s extracted from you method as well. These are the creative surges that we live for, but you can’t expect to “hustle” all day everyday when you’re building a livelihood off of said creativity. If your head isn’t in it, and if you have the ability to break apart from it, DON’T FORCE IT. Instead, spend time on admin tasks like answering the emails, checking off your task list, and taking care of your clients/customers’ immediate needs.

I put just as much importance on input as I do output.

As humans, we aren’t meant to be staring at a screen or workspace toiling away for hours producing, producing, producing. We’ve been conditioned with that bogus, leftover mentality of the last century’s industrial era when people were trained to be another cog in the machine of the economy. So much has changed, and now the creative class is rising. Work just looks different and is being defined differently by the collective conscience. Idea time is just as important as producing the work, so this means that you are working when you are taking a walk, going on a trip, or exploring a new place, which leads me to…

I am always working as long as I’m living my life intentionally.

The idea of “working” can be redefined by simply living your life in a purposeful and directed way. Are you hanging out with friends that stimulate you to do better? You’re working. Are you watching a film that is exquisitely executed? You’re working. Hiking in the woods pondering your place in the universe? Guess what? YOU’RE WORKING.

All the time you spend away from your workspace is equally (if not more) important to your creative flow than producing the work. So get out there, and don’t listen to the naysayers that tell you you should have your head down for 8, 10, or 12 hours a day if you want to make anything of your life and career. Fuck them. Your path is obviously different from theirs, and they definitely don’t have the same goals to create a beautiful livelihood doing work that matters to you like you do.

I take it deeper, and higher. As above, so below.

When I work with clients, they aren’t just paying me for a logo design and a website, they are investing in an experience that guarantees we will both come out changed on the other side. I work hard to make sure I deliver nothing less than a transformative process where they learn more about themselves, and I learn more about myself. Surface-level interaction has never been enough for me, and I’m lucky that I attract some of the weirdest, deepest-thinkers out there that are willing to pay to go on this creative journey with me. The deliverables of a one-of-a-kind brand and website coupled with a higher-level understanding of their business and their place online are the RESULT of our work together, not the main objective.

I think about the dark side as much as the light.

It’s all about balance, and too often in my own industry of online entrepreneurs, I can get rather bored of the lighthearted, care-free good times everyone seems to want to convey with their brands and websites. I’m what you might call a “natural goth,” meaning I was given the name Trista (Latin root: melancholy), grew up across the fence from a cemetery (which was my playground to explore), and have spent a possibly unhealthy amount of time in my youth (and now; who am I kidding) studying anything from the paranormal to divination, from abnormal psychology to erotic photography, from listening to intense metal to witchcraft, and only being stimulated by haunting, other-worldly art forms of all kinds. Needless to say I was the odd-woman-out in the sports-loving, religion-obsessed mono-cultures that are suburban and small-town Texas growing up.

I’m not saying that that is where my head is all the time, quite the contrary. Life and the bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned so far has taught me that there is always an up to the down, a dark to the light, a sad to the ecstatic. I live my life not saying no to either side of spectrum, and I find myself exploring more in the middle, where I definitely wouldn’t have spent much time before. It’s never all or nothing. This manifests now with my innate understanding of Zen practice and a philosophy that we are all one, and doing my best to achieve wholeness and peace with myself and others. That’s what makes exploring both within and outside of our minds (and the world) so rewarding.

I spend most of my time thinking about intangible things.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces (mostly; I have a Capricorn moon and Libra rising), but I’ve never quite felt at home in this world. There is something about my dreams that has always remained visceral and more “real” to me. So I tend to spend a large part of my time exploring the kind of transcendental thought processes that most people reserve for retreats or after a crisis when they need to find themselves again. This can happen when I hear an enchanting new song that speaks directly to my soul, when I’m disengaging from the modern world in the mountains, or just driving down the road after a long day of output and noticing how magnificent the sunset is. These are the moments that are difficult to sum up in words, but I don’t feel quite like myself unless I’ve stepped into this intangible realm at least once a day or more.

I use this same approach for design. I have a hard time calling myself a “designer,” like, I probably couldn’t get hired as a designer at a studio for my list of bullet-pointed skills. Instead, I think of myself more like an alchemist who spends time with high-level concepts and creative ideas, then spins them into something more tactile (or digital). The most important part is the “seeing,” then the rest is figuring out the technical details for bringing it to life.

Now it’s your turn… What makes you different than most others that do what you do? Take a bit of time to make a list of these like I’ve done here. (It doesn’t need to be as detailed!)

How can you use these traits to your advantage to make you stand out online with your brand?

Hi! I’m Trista. This diatribe was first sent to the forward-thinking creatives on my email list. I believe that a creative livelihood is yours for the making. Get on the Creative Flow list now to get weekly guidance and inspiration to a build a business online YOUR way. We’re in this together.