Using your Creativity to get a breakthrough with Holly from a branch of Holly

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Hello everyone! How are you this week? Storming through that to-do list like nobodies business? Well don't worry if not, because I can guarantee you'll be feeling a whole lot more motivated after reading today's A Cup Of Creative with Interview. Many of you probably already know Holly, from A Branch of Holly, where she shares an INSANE amount of advice about how to get a break through with your blog, career and life. We chatted about how your creativity feeds into the different areas of your life and the processes and routines you can put in place to really get the most out of it. 

As always let me know what you thought of today's interview in the comments below! What are you hoping to get a breakthrough with? And the other thing I really want to know is do you like these interviews coming up once a week, or would you prefer if I cut down to once a month? 

Hi Holly! Thank’s so much for making time to answer my questions, I know you’re always very busy - something we’ll get on to! But to start with, can you tell me what creativity means to you?

Creativity is solving a problem with a unique point of view. It means not being afraid to express your own perception and ideas to help others. For me, being creative means developing a form of expression to help and inspire others. But the best part? Turning your ideas into a reality.

You work in marketing, and your blog, to me, comes down to how to be and portray the best version of yourself. Balancing being unique and creative with having goals and a plan. Which I find really interesting, because you seem to have really honed in on being creative, but in quite a structured way. How do you think creativity, careers and business sort of sit together?

This is a really interesting question and one that I actually found quite difficult to put into words. 

Creativity is a natural part of having a career or running a business, because it is what makes you unique. Your creativity is your message. Your message is your brand. So creativity essentially represents your whole business, blog and online presence.

Your logo, name, bio, branding and content all work consistently together to represent a certain message, and that message evolves from your creativity. Whether you want to help single mums build a business from home so they can look after their kids, or you provide tech guides to help photographers better their skills - the ideas that stem from these themes all come from a place of creativity.

Brand recognition is as much as putting out consistent content on your blog as it is to be creative. Whatever you blog about or whatever business you run, you need that element of creativity in it. You might not see yourself as a creative person. But if you’re creating things, then you’ve definitely got creativity.

People engage with creative things. When someone is buying a new print for their office wall, a new rug for their living room or a new perfume for their collection - they’re engaging with an essence of creativity. The things they’re thinking about purchasing have been created to be packaged up in a certain way. If we show interest in those products, we’re engaging in creativity, and that creativity stems from the roots of what the business wants to create.

My creativity, career and business sit together comfortably, because I make sure that everything I create relates to a certain message that my audience can engage with. My blog posts, website, social platforms, imagery, online resources, newsletter - they’re all examples of things I create on a consistent basis. So I’m fuelling my creativity whilst building my online presence at the same time. They work in sync together.

It’s all about finding what works for you. I thrive on structure and routine, and it’s only by planning out every single detail that I can work to make big things happen. Do you make a plan and then create the ideas? Or do you create the ideas and fit them into your plan as you go along? We all work differently and it’s about using our creativity to our advantage.

Oh my god! I was nodding my head along to so MANY things you just said then! Firstly I see creativity as very much being the way you approach your life and everything in it. Something that’s come up a lot when I’ve been chatting to people about this is that creativity is more of an attitude than the production of something, so what you said about creativity being what makes you unique is so important! It means that every job and person has that potential to do things creatively!

The Second thing is that idea that people engage with creative things. Obviously working in the arts, I can be faced with a lot of negativity in regards to what is the worth of art? Why study creative subjects etc. And I always answer it with the same thing. Creativity is what makes the world a nicer place to live, and it is in everything. Who do you think wrote your favourite tv show? Who do you think designed your iphone? Who decorated your bedroom! The world you live in was, essentially, created around and for you. If there isn’t any worth in that I don’t know where there is!

And lastly what you said about things sitting comfortably together is something that I’ve been toying with for so long! How do I make my arts day job, sit with my performance work, sit with my freelance workshop, sit with my blog. I think I’m slowly but surely getting there with the thread that holds it all together!

Whenever I think of you, I think of an amazing ability to stick to a routine. Which of your routines really help with harnessing your creativity?

The ability to stick to a routine has been a part of me since I was a little girl. It’s a funny thing, because something I’m always recognised for by people I know is my organisation. But recently, I felt so unorganised that I had to completely refresh my routine and processes. I’m glad I did this though, because it really helped me hone in on what I need to do to get to where I want to be.

The one routine that really stands out to me when it comes to harnessing my creativity is my blogging routine - as in the way I go about creating blog posts, from the initial idea to the final result. It’s essentially my creative process.

This harnesses my creativity, because I follow the same process every time, but I’m always improving. I create the idea (and let me tell you this - I can’t remember the last time I ran out of ideas), I create the outline, I do the research and I write the content. Then I plan the image, take the image, edit it and turn it into something that visually represents a specific idea. After that comes the formatting and promotion - then the routine is repeated.

I’d say that this is the routine that harnesses my creativity the most, because it’s all my own work. It’s my idea, my image, my content - the thing I’ve created. That feels really great when you see the final result. So much so that you want to do it again. Only next time, you get better and better.

It’s funny, at work I’m known as being incredibly organised, but when it comes to my personal life I can be so scatter brained. I keep telling Young Man, organising, and planning, and being in control is what I do 5 days a week, 9-5! I need that scatter brained down time, other wise I’d go mad! 

You’ve recently just shared your entire creative process on your blog too so if people want some inspiration on that they can have a real good nosey! I love how much you share your expertise! If someone asked me to put my routines and processes on paper I’m not sure it would make sense to anyone but me!

What are you working on right now? For fun and for work?

For fun, I’m actually reintroducing a lifestyle aspect to A Branch of Holly by adding a new blog to my website called Little Branches. As much as I love the direction my main blog has gone in, I really miss the personal life aspect of what my blog used to be like when I first started it.

I always said that A Branch of Holly was going to represent the different branches of my life - that’s exactly where Little Branches comes in. It feels like the perfect time to introduce this now so my readers and clients can get to know a bit more about me, I can document my journey and it allows people to see more of the real person behind the brand.

For work, in terms of my day job, it’s the busiest time of the year for us right now as the new academic year has started - I’m a Marketing Coordinator for a local sixth form College. This means a lot of promotional events are coming up that I need to be prepared for. I’m also responsible for a project that’s in the early stages right now, but I’m really excited for when this gets going properly.

In terms of A Branch of Holly, I’m working to create bigger and better content. I really want to start incorporating video into my schedule somehow and I’d love to create another eBook. Alongside that, I’m working hard to grow my freelance business and can’t wait to see where I’m at with that in six months time!

I think it’s great that you’re putting the personal back in to your blog. It goes back to what you said earlier about creativity being what makes you unique. People really respond to real people, when they can see the whole package! It’s the difference between having a face to face meeting and just giving somebody your CV.

barge trip in autumn

Online, you are quickly becoming a bit of an inspiration to so many bloggers, with your blogging breakthrough ebook and the content you share. But who inspires you?

People who achieve things in an authentic way and work mega hard. People who stay true to themselves, people who aren’t afraid to talk about the speed bumps and hurdles, and people who have created their own version of success.

Some of the success we see in our industry is completely unattainable - six figure businesses, sell-out products, millions of pageviews. They’re not realistic goals, and those people don’t inspire me. The people that do inspire me are the ones with success stories to tell - but they’ve made it there on their own terms. They’ve started from the bottom and worked their way up. They’ve got intelligence, strength and grit. They’re honest and they’re not afraid to tell the story of who they are. They don’t feel like they need to pretend to be someone else. They do their own thing and that’s what makes them inspiring to me.

AMEN to that. So speaking of making your own way and success… Final question do you have a piece of advice for anyone struggling to embrace their creativity?

Remember who you are. What makes you the person you are is what fuels your creativity. 

But my biggest piece of advice would be to just start. Don’t be afraid of it being messy. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be afraid of falling down. Sometimes, you’ve got to just go with it, be free and see what happens. Let yourself be alone with your thoughts. Relax your mind and let your creativity consume you. Start small and don’t think of the end goal. Break things up into stepping stones. Solve one problem and move onto the next. Take one step and move onto the next. Then, at some point, you’ll realise that you’re on your way to making something big happen.

Thank you so much for chatting with me Holly, it’s been really interesting to pick your brains about everything that goes on behind the scenes of A Branch Of Holly, and can’t wait to read some of your Little Branches!

All photos are taken from Holly's blog, you can also find her on twitter and instagram.

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