creative entrepreneurs

Talking To Cigdem Kobu's Creative Solopreneurs

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by Cigdem KobuExcerpt from a profile in Cigdem Kobu's A Year With Myself program for introverted creative solopreneurs.

Are you location independent by choice, or necessity? Why?

Both!

First by necessity when I lived very far from my culture, removed by thousands of miles by people who knew me, who spoke my language, dislocated from my professional fields. Swallowed up by my foreign-to-me surroundings.

Then, as I realized the power of location independence, I became location independent by choice.

I believe that we all can tap into that same power no matter where we happen to be. If you think about it, we’ve all felt like a fish out of water at some point in our lives, and for too many of us, that’s an on-going feeling we have today. It doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s what GlobalNiche.net is about. You could say we teach people how to be globally unbound -- by choice.

Although expats and international types have more reasons than most to find a way to operate independently of where we happen to be physically, I see now that we don’t even have to leave home to do it.

It’s not about being mobile physically (and working on a beach in Thailand, as many in the location independent and lifestyle design movements talk about).

It’s about being okay with where you are, and setting up your life so you can be fufilled and, unlimited by your surroundings.

With today's economic uncertainties no matter who or where we are, we all have to embrace an enterprising view of ourselves -- a way to operate unlimited by the options around us.

We’re really lucky to be part of a trend toward entrepreneuring and indie creative careers, as well as using the social web and mobile devices to help us achieve what I call “psychic location independence”.

We don’t have to be a tech expert or social media guru to build a micro-yet-global base of operations with a professional web platform and virtual network for continuing education, professional development, and a close-knit but world-flung set of friends. We can be digital world citizens and achieve a cutting-edge state of being.

You believe that our metamorphoses choose us. Can you explain that a little?

I said this after a year on Twitter, back in 2009. I noted that the major undertakings of the year hadn’t rated a 2008 resolution. I didn’t plan any of them.

Nilofer Merchant, a cutting-edge entrepreneur I admire and author of The New How and the upcoming book Social Era Rules, recently tweeted, “Once you find your purpose it pulls you effortlessly into the future.” That’s definitely what happened when I opened a Twitter account and followed the trail of my interests out into the world of all possibility.

I was on soul-auto-pilot. Suddenly I took charge of my own web presence, an intention I hadn’t held, a vision I didn’t see, and a plan I don’t recall making.

All it took was that first microblogging step that lead to a curated-webpath to what I now recognize as my specific interests and larger intentions. I was pulled into my future, effortlessly, and without warning!

I was virtually attending conferences on publishing, interactive media, women’s issues, and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature.

I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for an experimental blogging course before I even had a blog, and volunteering for a life design course for expat women entrepreneurs that helped me hone my vision and introduced me to my present day business partner, Tara Agacayak.

I experienced a reawakening of my inner student to learn exactly what I needed to know, and fresh direction on how I might contribute to the future of my communities.

I have seen this same thing happen with other people on Twitter too, so if you’re willing to dive in and let your metamorphosis choose you, that is the first place I’d recommend you go.

How do you help other women change their lives?

By sharing my own journey, and how I’ve combined my talents, interests and experience to create solutions for myself.

The largest solution I have to offer is the power to change our own lives by building a custom platform to operate from.

Also, by seeing in them what they could be, and telling them, which gives them the opportunity to see themselves and build their own place in the world.

The Native American Medicine Wheel card for hummingbird really resonates for me. The hummingbird is an agile creature which withdraws nectar from flowers and pollinates them at the same time, making them productive and viable.

I would love to be that force for the women in my life.

Migrating My 2-Year Old Creative Entrepreneurs Facebook Page & LinkedIn Group To GlobalNiche

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 2.26.23 PMAfter two years, Tara and I are closing our Creative Entrepreneurs Facebook page. Members of this group are scattered all over the globe. We are working in a variety of areas and are hybrids of some sort. We identify with being suspended between multiple worlds and find ourselves challenged by culture, geography, language and time zone. But we believe that limbo state is our secret weapon.

We are looking forward to more discussions about how you turn disadvantages into springboards, and how you flourish in the niche you create for yourself.

What we've been doing here and at our LinkedIn group we've been taking to the next level at our GlobalNiche page for more than six months. Come join us there and keep evolving your creative enterprise...

Our mission at this page and at LinkedIn since 2009 is to aid creative entrepreneurs poised to maximize the benefits of social networks by actively connecting with each other and pooling resources and inspiration.

Creative entrepreneurs tap into their own skills, talents and circumstances to develop work tailor-made to their interests and lifestyle.

Social media provides creative professionals the ability and opportunity to leverage web technologies to build and grow their projects and businesses.

 

Name Changes of My LinkedIn Group Track With Its Evolution. Social Media Is A Given. And We're All Creative Entrepreneurs.

When Tara Agacayak and I started our LinkedIn group in 2009 we called it Creative Entrepreneurs and Social Media. We wanted a place to discuss what we were learning about using social media to build our professional platforms. Within six months it became apparent our use of social media had naturally coalesced into our creative enterprise goals. So we dropped it from our name -- social media is not a distinguishing factor, it’s a given now!

Today, as we’ve all become much more savvy in our pro use of the social web while building our platforms we think it’s time to take this group to the next level.

Soon we’ll be changing the name of this group to Global Niche to reflect the fact we are all builders of our own micro-yet-global base of operation. We look forward to having more conversations here about what it means to be (and build!) a global microbrand as a creative entrepreneur.

Please swing by http://globalniche.net to learn more about this life-work initiative for indie pros, mobile progressives and cultural creatives.

We’re looking forward to evolving with you!

Masterminding An Expat's Reluctant Entrepreneurism

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Each participant presents her case study and we brainstorm next steps.

Here are some of my thoughts on an expatriate writer's mention that if she weren't an expat and forced to find ways to make a living outside the norm, she wouldn't be an entrepreneur.

It reminds me of the Dialogue2010 conversations at expat+HAREM, and how our hybrid lives have *forced* us to be flexible about a lot of things most people (especially those in our 'previous lives' if we're living outside an original territory, including who we might have been if we'd stayed) never have to deal with. Our careers are one of those things.

The beauty of being a creative entrepreneur is that it's about making your work type and situation *work* for you, for the type of person you are, and the situation you face. That doesn't mean it's the easy choice, just that it has the potential to deliver much more than you'd get from being a cog in someone else's wheel.

Was also reading something the other day about how we don't have to make money from everything we produce (or even try to sell it), but if we're professionals (or hope to be, that is, we're not hobbyists) earning money for the work we do has to be part of the larger plan.

Writing ONLY for money is different type of job than writing what you want to write and receiving money for it (at some point on the journey, and maybe not directly from the writing).

If your interest in writing dries up at the prospect of selling it, or using it as a form of content marketing for something else you are selling, then maybe writing is not an element of the paid work you want to do. Maybe you want to keep it as a hobby, a special form of personal entertainment. That's totally cool.

But, if you harbor dreams of yourself as a professional writer, not only sharing your work widely but receiving compensation for it, then writing *is* an element of your livelihood. If you have the luxury of already knowing what you want to write, and already writing what you want to write (some people are on a different carousel, where they write for hire and dream of writing from the heart and soul and it's hard to get off that carousel for the very reason that it's scary and hard) then all you have to add to your picture is a strategy to get paid for what you are already doing.

Will you have to make changes in your plans, will you have to improve to be competitive, will you have to be sensitive to your readership? Will you have to be aware of the market and how it works and what the shifts are in publishing? Will you see clearly whether you have achieved your professional writing goals or not? Yes.

In fact, writing might suddenly seem like a different kind of work if all that stuff I just mentioned has previously been kept separate from your writing life. I think this might be the key for you. Integrating in small steps your writing as professional, and with a market purpose.

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Another participant of the group points out this post by creativity coach Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action that if Shakespeare had continued to work for a patron, we may never have heard of him.

Masterminding A Membership Site

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it's a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Once a week someone steps into the center and asks for feedback and suggestions on their next steps. A week of discussion ensues. Here's my prompt about what I'm thinking of doing.

Hey all! Besides the in-progress shift at expat+HAREM (which includes among many other changes, making the content evergreen and getting off the feed the beast with original content every week treadmill), with Miss Tara I am working on creating a spin-off community.

Globalniche.net. GN will be a private and paid membership site for the same global citizen/multiculti/expat audience, but focused on solutions rather than simply discussion and entertainment. Adding practice to the theory.

In many ways Globalniche.net will reflect what we’ve seen at ThirdTribe.com this past year: bulletin boards for discussion of numerous topics, regular hosted seminars, audio and video interviews with experts and fellow seekers, custom-created educational material and special offers from solutions providers, and a support community to enact the things being discussed. It will be an actionable space, and since it will be shielded from public view, it will also have an intimacy we can’t experience on the open web.

Everyone in this mastermind group (along with some other solid members of our current eH and creative entrepreneur community) will be invited to join as founding members. When we’re ready to launch a monthly membership option will open more widely.

When we get started (date not set but within 6 months) we’ll be asking the below kind of questions to our founding members. It would be great if you could get the ball rolling, tell us what would make this a VERY valuable community for you, as well as throw out your own questions about the plan, or what we might also want to ask our founding members.

What is your biggest pain in finding your place in the world outside of your culture and comfort zone, and operating to your true potential both professionally and personally?

What is your biggest pain embracing all the worlds you love to belong to?

What drew you to e+H (and kept you coming back)?

What improvements to e+H’s brand and offerings would you like to see in a membership community at globalniche.net?

What tutorials, resources and educational material would you want from GN? What do you want to learn how to do? What do you need support for?

What kind of people would you want us to interview and make accessible to the community (by name if you know them)?

 

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Here are some of my responses to the feedback I received (I'm not sharing the direct feedback since the group is private). Five people participated (thanks to Catherine Bayar, Catherine Yigit, Sezin Koehler, Jessica Lutz, and Tara Agacayak!) and contributed 34 comments:

Thanks all, keep it coming! Characteristically, I have so many other deadlines this week I am practically missing my own party.

Thanks for the broader view of who might be of interest to hear from. Yes, futurists. In particular, may be able to address the tensions of living ahead of our time...because that certainly encapsulates a lot of the issues we face. It's coming for many others too, but we happen to be dealing with it all now.  Agree, Global Niche is a widening of the Expat Harem window, and I'm looking forward to transitioning to it, as well as bringing in new people for whom expat+HAREM may have seemed too 'niche'. Glad that the questions feel deep to you, and thanks so much for plumbing them. The deeper we can go here, the better we can start off the block. It's heartwarming to be able to trace where we came into each other's lives -- and so far back, too. Want to hear the revolutions the link has caused in your life, because it's a natural path to where we are taking this -- together.

Ooh yes I like the idea of being able to discuss whatever topics of the day that people are interested in (like art and culture and world affairs)....that would be possible in the bulletin board area where anyone could start a thread of their choice. Definitely on my list of interviewees are Amna Ahmad and Justine Musk!

You guys are really giving me some good direction here, about bringing my own worlds together. Being that bridge to make sense of how different communities and the leaders in them are informing who we are, and what our issues are. In particular, you're giving me some very clear ideas about how GN.net can synthesize all the best elements of what we know to be happening out there (rather than cover the same ground other expat or travel sites do and in the same way...because frankly, if those other sites were speaking completely to what I/we need, we wouldn't even be talking about this right now.) <- Exciting, challenging!

Thanks for your words about the newsletter, and the type of people and ventures mentioned in it. The newsletter can be a bridge between expat+HAREM and the GlobalNiche, and be a way to transition those who are interested into GN.  I'm also thinking about upgrading the newsletter to be more graphic...will need some tutoring please. Yes to the real-world meetings as often as possible (Tara and I've been making plans for a recurring Istanbul gathering) and I think we could also use a freaking major retreat on a regular basis.

This is really great feedback, thank you!

$$$ >> ONE LAST QUESTION << $$$

if you have any thoughts on it: price range. What would membership in this private community be worth to you?

Could be a range of prices...from the most basic offerings we talked about to more intensive and developed services.

Like Third Tribe -- the early adopters pay very little, and were part of the growth of the community. Now, they've just capped the community at a much higher rate and when they reopen, it will be still higher. All the while they've improved their offerings and built a year's worth of equity that new members can tap into from the very first day. So, can you share some comparable prices for memberships you have paid for, or know about?

Yes, the target market is a widening of the demographics attracted by eH material. Expanding to everyone who finds themselves geographically disadvantaged (could be and American in Kansas), culturally fragmented, etc. The idea is that this notion of a global niche may have come from our own need to find solutions but it can be applied to many other life situations too that may not seem so extreme in their disconnection.

Third Tribe is an example of an educational support community. It happens to be for online marketing. That does intersect with part of our interests at eh/GN but I don't mean that GN = internet marketing community. The model is instructive. As for cost, they opened the community at $27/month. I found that easy to sign on for, even though I'd never been part of a paid online community before. I think one of the reasons is that they had done a good job of letting me know what I'd be getting, and how I needed it.

I agree it would be great to have a resource area of best links on different useful topics...and self-help/self-improvement experts too. The counseling leads: There's a newish website of counselors globally (ExpatExpert.com was passing it around), as well as whole organizations for online counseling. Things have really changed, and it would be good to be on top of what's available.

Today we wrap up...thanks again to everyone for your fantastic comments and food for thought. (And excitement at the prospect of GN.net!)

FYI, we've got a Global Niche Facebook page as of today, and are collecting interested parties over there -- so head on over and like up. Thanks again for a terrific week of masterminding. You are all wonderful.

Masterminding Optimizing A Writer's Online Presence

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Each participant presents her case study and we brainstorm next steps.

Here are some of my thoughts on optimizing a writer's presence online, including consolidating her blogs and deciding on which social media services to use and how.

I changed my anastasiaashman.wordpress.com blog to my own domain and there were no posts lost. it took a hour or something, no big investment! The method is actually easy and since so many people before you have done it, there are tutorials too. do you have a domain and host ready to go? if so, i think there is even a option inside your wordpress.com dashboard to take you through the steps. If i find a tutorial i'll post it. Here we go, first returned on google: http://www.labnol.org/internet/migrate-wordpress-blog-to-own-domain/12776/ Here are more considerations but an older post: http://remarkablogger.com/2008/03/18/moving-wordpress-com-self-hosted/

Actually if you read the second post above, you'll see a good reason to consolidate your site and blogs under one URL: "search strength". Will be talking more about this soon, but it's something to consider -- bring everything under one umbrella, with a menu that sends us to different areas. And if you're not blogging often, you don't need a separate blog for those different interests. just use categories to separate them, and one blog with unlimited static pages.an idea for what to do on twitter (which i think is best SM platform for you to be active on besides your own blogs) -- focus on twitter chats for writers.

Here is a list of Twitter chats by Inkygirl. Look thru the schedule, pick the ones of interest and then show up for them. Participate. Use the hashtags, talk to the people there, follow them.

This way people will get to know you, and your time on twitter will be spent in groups of professional interest to you.

 

There are also agent chats and book seller chats and publishing world chats. Branch into them as you see fit. Talk about your work in the context of the chat, but also just be engaging with others and people will check out your profile, follow you, and see what you've got going on. Talking to other writers who have books they want to publish is a way to talk about your own...

I wouldn't spend a minute more on LinkedIn (besides this group, I mean). Facebook is nice but if you're going to put in time or drive traffic it should be to your own site. Twitter + blog/site it is!

Alexandra Samuel is a woman who knows what she's talking about: "How to sustain a social media presence in 3 hours a week." Take a look at her suggestions and see what you can do to set up a system like this.

Also, look at this "Strategic tweeting for authors: If you’re an author who isn’t active on Twitter, you’re making a huge mistake, say savvy book-marketing gurus."

If you're going to tweet add a twitter widget to your site so your more ephemeral activities and the conversation and info you share can be seen by visitors to your site. It makes it look like someone's home. Here's how.

Insights From Last Season's Mastermind Sessions

My fellow admin in the Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group at LinkedIn prompted us for insights from last season's private mastermind sessions. "List one thing you applied using the feedback you received and the results you witnessed after putting it into practice," writes Tara Agacayak. "If you did not have the opportunity to present your case study, you are welcome to list one thing you applied that you learned in the process of this mastermind that has brought you results."

My response:

My mastermind question was about monetizing expat+HAREM (and I got tons of great suggestions and debate from you all!). The most impactful thing that emerged was that regardless of what my people will tell me they want (when I send out the survey!), my success will hinge on the idea of partnering with people who have related yet different businesses and have high-quality, appropriate products and services to offer.

I may know something is valuable in my arena when I see it -- but that doesn't mean I have the time or energy to create it from scratch myself. I can be a conduit for that product or service, and in partnering with others I can co-brand the thing. And over time, I can grow my community based on those offerings rather than the free ones -- "a small band of givers rather than a lot of takers".

An example of where you see that impact today is in the "Build Your Global Niche" program I am creating with Tara, the mastermind demo we did this month for the International Pro Women of Istanbul and the tutorial mailing list we started. They are early steps to a larger plan for eH, which is about preparing expat+HAREM readers to be a cohesive, actualized community putting a creative entrepreneur web platform to use in their location (and monoculture?) independent lives. To solve their problems with the very tools that are solving ours. To give them access to the people who ring our bells...and in turn to give those bell-ringers access to an appropriate community for their offerings. Win-win.

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Among the other enlightening, and empowering results reported:

"I have integrated the main social media tools with my website and I have added posterous to the main tools to work with."  (To this I say: that's some integration that not only makes you more visible but also saves you energy in the syndication of content!)

"I re-organized my twitter, creating more strategic and useful lists. I started tweeting other things besides news." (To this I say: I felt your presence on Twitter so much more recently. Kudos for finding a Twitter third party service that lets you do things your way.)

"With your suggestions and guidance I simplified my offerings into two categories - Free and Premium."

"By creating a website for purely professional purposes I ended up getting a great deal more interest in my services on eLance. By redoing the header on my site I find that people spend more time on the website than they had been doing." (To this I say: great you're able to point to those concrete, quantifiable results from the advances you've made (email responses, view time on site).)

"I had a fairly fixed idea of how I wanted my site to be before the session. Afterwards I was questioning every single aspect of it! It really helped to have other people's input, to see where they thought I should head and how to arrange the site. That's the beauty of this group, positive criticism that can change how you approach things." (To this I say: can't wait to see how your site turns out with those added dimensions in the process of creating it!)

"My biggest win has been creating a cohesive visual hub. From that unity, I've been able to start weaving a very colorful picture in images, not just words. Using fun tools like Picasa/Picnik, Animoto (my new fav way to tell stories, which you'll be seeing with my Kickstarter relaunch this month) and taking new photos of our product on Etsy as well as new portraits of our main product - us! - have changed the site dramatically and increased Etsy sales. So, pulling together the visuals our brand projects to the world has been key, thanks to all of you!"

 

 

 

 

Global Niche Mastermind: Jet Fuel Combo Of Tools, Techniques, And Peers

This announcement appeared in the International Professional Women of Istanbul Network bulletin. BUILD YOUR PRO WEB PLATFORM: The Global Niche Mastermind (Saturday, January 29th 30TL/person)

Join a no-nonsense 2-hour exhibition with local social media experts Tara Agacayak of Turquoise Poppy and Anastasia Ashman of expat+HAREM.

They'll demonstrate the jet-fuel combo of tools, techniques and technology -- and peers -- that you can expect in their new "Build Your Global Niche" mastermind program.

That's an upcoming 8-week online offering to help creative entrepreneurs build your personal brand on the web.

(Requirements for Jan29 event are a basic web presence with 2 of these: blog, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile. Sorry, no exceptions.)

Masterminding How To Deal With Social Media Anxiety

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). These are my thoughts on a session dealing with social media anxiety.

Successful social media use is ALL ABOUT THE FILTERS. Definitely a good topic for a mastermind because the solutions presented this week have the potential to revolutionize your experience with social media and that is major.

My first thought is *use automating tools* so you can stock your feeds at your convenience, decide when the info goes out and where to, and you don't have to visit the sites to post. Much less overwhelm. I use SOCIAL OOMPH for my twitterfeed. It's free, and dead simple. (I also post extemporaneously, but for purposes of this response on automation, that doesn't matter.) Social Oomph allows me to enter as many posts as I want, choose the time and date. Hashtags. Only thing I can't do is post the same tweet twice or "@" replies. You use Networked Blogs at Facebook, I see, great. Email mailing providers also let you post a link to FB and Twitter. You can hook up LinkedIn to Twitter to post at LI your Tweets. For Twitter if you try a third party app like HootSuite or Seesmic or Tweetdeck you can break your subscriptions into categories and only peruse one category at a time. "Friends", "Photographers". "China." That might help you dip a toe in.

Also, you can create a category based on a search term so you can easily respond to tweets on your favorite topics without having to wade through lots of material. So, my first advice is USE SOME FORM OF AUTOMATION on each platform and alternate it with spontaneous contributions, reactions to others, replies. (There is such a thing as overdoing it, and obviously not being present which makes people feel they are being pushed at by a machine.) On the Twitter site itself you can use "Lists" to group your subscriptions and only peruse what one list is tweeting. Personally I have used lists to expand who I follow without making my main stream 10,000 people strong! Here is a good list of "power twitter tips" from Chris Brogan "in five categories: intent, technical, business, integrated usage, and off-twitter. Here's a post about "How to overcome the concern that social media is a time suck" with tips on strategic following and here's a personal branding checklist for Twitter usage. Someone here mentioned to weed out tweeters who 'don't say thanks'. To me, I'd rather not read tweets solely thanking people -- empty tweets that say "thanks for the RT!" are a last case scenario. Sometimes I do it when I'm falling behind, but it's of little value.

A way to better thank someone is to look thru their stream and RT or react to something of theirs. To engage with them, then it's not about keeping score, but the fact that it becomes natural to be involved with them.

You might like this latest post from TRIBAL WRITER's Justine Musk about building an author platform with social media (whether you're an 'author' or not). She writes that the path comes partly from 'strategy' and partly from following your instinct.  Figuring out why you're driven to write (or whatever else creative thing you're doing) and sharing that "inkling, which will lead to other inklings, which lead the way. You'll promote your own work while you're at it."  Musk also she talks about how your blog is your hub, and all these other sites are spokes where you meet your network. "And those different platforms require different forms of content. But you can take your big content – long blog entries, or ebooks or whitepapers — and break it into smaller chunks and bites and tweets. You can take your small content and explode it into something more in-depth. You can transcribe your podcasts and post on your blog; you can tweet cool quotes from your video interviews; you get the idea. Your content feeds your content feeds your content." In a recent Third Tribe seminar Sonia Simone interviewed Naomi Dunsford who said "scare off the people who aren't interested". That could be by your topic alone, your attention to detail, your tone, your seriousness or flippancy, whatever. But basically, you need your people to gather, and how will they know if they're you're people if you're holding back and trying to please everyone? You mentioned not wanting to break down your blog posts. Here's a list of 40 things you can tweet that aren't derived from your blog postings. Good ideas, show the depth of experience and expertise you can demonstrate.

Masterminding A Writer, Artist & Cultural Curator Platform

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Once a week someone steps into the center with a case study and asks for feedback and suggestions on their next steps. Here are my thoughts on building out a writing and artist platform:

I use Wordpress and Tumblr (simply as a feed of my blog, microblog and Delicious activities). It seems moving to Tumblr or Posterous might make things much simpler for you as a blogger-- they seem easy/breezy as blogging platforms -- whereas Wordpress's wider capabilities will encourage building a bigger site with more going on. So, since you're talking growth and not just 'make it easier' then I'd say Wordpress.

As for platform building, where are you meeting and engaging with potential readers of your novel (besides Twitter, SheWrites, Facebook, LI, your blog)? Any communities out there specific to the topics in your novel? Taking part in reader-based litchats on Twitter would be another way to start being known as the woman behind the voice that people will be able to read when your book comes out. (Consider posting small excerpts of the book so we know what it's about and grow connected to it?)

Maybe someone here can share leads to artists, writers, cultural curators that you are aware of online -- if you know of them, they're doing something right to get your attention.

As for making the hybrid nature of your work clearer through your platform, I'm reminded of the blog convention of another multifaceted woman: Ruth Harnisch.  She breaks down the different channels of her being and lets that be the structure of her site. "The Maker of Mistakes". "The Philanthropist". "The Catalyst". "The Recovering Journalist". Perhaps something like this might allow you to indulge your interests and help a visitor to your site/blog comprehend your better?

The expatharem site has sold books through its Amazon link -- in the first couple of years of the site. The #s since I relaunched the blog are too tiny to count for anything and that may be a result of the maturity of the book or the fact that I don't push it much on the site, and/or people aren't coming to the blog to buy the book or learn more about it. However, yes, making things available to our interested parties is part of making what we do a business. We have to make the offer. It's relevant. However, I also know being on twitter has sold books. People I met there, people who found out about the book on twitter (like during #litchat on expat lit).

Also: here's a great interview with a 'unmarketing' book author about how he built both a support system and a target audience on Twitter and presold 3,000 copies of his book. Good lessons there about how to engage and when to sell. 

In response to your question about using your own name as a brand, an SEO specialist I know from ThirdTribe (@CraigFifield) just offered an impromptu SEO consult on Twitter before the end of his workday/workweek. I took the liberty to ask him for an opinion on this, in general terms. Here’re the tweets (which overlap, as Twitter does)....

CF: i have 15min before I quit for the day -- how can I help you with SEO or your Blog?

AA: wd someone's name be a better blog name for SEO than tagline about art and the creative life?

CF: in terms of SEO I would use a keyword that people are searching for. Or, I would go for branding and ignore SEO

AA: that is, are proper names SEO at all? and generally used words and phrases amount to very little in SEO world?

AA: so in researching keywords "creative life" what result would prompt good use of that phrase in blog title?

CF: depends how your audience uses those words. I would do some keyword research to decide. do you have an example?

AA: ok think i got it! (branding with a proper name means SEO considerations unnecessary)

CF: well, unless your brand will eventually be big enough to be searched on :) make your brand name unique to win there

Masterminding A Grant-Writing Consulting Biz

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group).

Here are my thoughts from one of those sessions, on the topic of a grant-writing consulting biz:

 

If you were to create a blog to sell this skill I imagine you sharing resources, techniques, news about the grant writing process and opportunities. Examples and lessons drawn from your own experiences consulting others. Taking questions from your readers and addressing the answers in a post, all the while very clearly offering your consulting services -- more of the same high value understanding of the field, and personalized attention for the client -- at the end of each post, in the side bar. Offering a teleclass on the basics of grant writing. selling small ebooks with up-to-date resources and your guidance on various elements of grantwriting, and considerations for different sectors.

I bet you could knock out 20 topics you'd want to cover in a blog series, and that would get you very well started. try making a list of catchy headlines to peg the subject matter... "Grants, in this economy?!" "The secret of getting a grant" etc.

I'm not familiar with the territory but you might like to distinguish yourself from the other grant writing consultants out there -- so a bit of research to see what they're doing and how you might like to approach it differently. what you know/care about that they don't. personally, i'd love to see you bring a little of your personality to this business -- if it's at all possible. Who needs dry info when they can get a little zing with solid advice? It could be simply in the language you use to talk to your readers about what might be a dry subject.

I would love to learn more about grants *I* could get! Bet we all would. You could be the cool educator of your audience. How about targeting the audience you already have -- and help them find grants to do the work they love -- rather than splitting off to service a different group of people?