Multipod Issues: describing yourself and what you do

What do you do?

Ah, that killer question. I have no idea why it’s so important to modern society, but it seems to be a standard conversational gambit, especially when meeting someone for the first time.

All too often, we respond as we have been conditioned to do – simply by explaining what we do either most of the time or for the biggest percentage of our income. These things do not always tell the story of who we are.

I was recently chatting to my brilliant friend & fellow multipod Maddy, of The Wright Fit, and she said she’d encountered a similar issue while at a business networking meeting. Like me, she does many things, and they evolve and change, and sometimes she puts things aside in favour other things.

This is normal multipotentialite behaviour!

Maddy of The Wright Fit | Multipod Problems - introducing yourself | carlawatkins.comThis is Maddy. She is an excellent example of a multipod!

But the world we live in favours specialists, so this is a common issue – how DO you tell people what you do, when you do lots of things?

Here are a few suggestions which might help with that dilemma:

What’s your common thread?

Holly by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Often, even if your interests, passions and businesses are incredibly wide-ranging (and they often are!), if you dig deep enough, you’ll find a common thread running through them all, right through the middle of some and just catching the edges of others!

It took me some time to find mine, but now I know, it seems obvious – photography and being yourself in the world, with a healthy dose of imagination and wonder are the things that tie together everything I do.

What do you want to be known for?

A dog on a kayak | carlawatkins.com

Another good entry point is to work out what you want people to remember you for, particularly if it’s their first encounter with you.

I don’t necessarily mean pick one thing and tell them that’s what you do, but whatever you lead with is likely to be the thing they remember, because most people do only talk about one thing. It doesn’t have to be your business or your job, it could be your absolute love of kayaking in the winter, or your scrapbooking project, or anything at all you’d like them to connect you with.

Lead with the weird

Mermaid Kerenza Sapphire by Sarah Wayte Photography | carlawatkins.comMe. On a beach in November in the UK. It was cold! Shot by the incredible Sarah Wayte Photography

Another strategy is to lead with the weirdest or most unusual thing you do, which is working nicely for me at the moment.

“I’m a professional mermaid” is definitely a conversation starter, if only because I always have to repeat it at least once, and then I can segue nicely into my background as a photographer and designer, drop in my love of stationery & beautiful things, and it all kind of slots easily into place.

What slightly (or very!) odd things do you do that you could start with when people ask?

What’s the boring way of saying it?

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com“Weekly dance classes” doesn’t really cover the gloriousness of burlesque, but it’s technically accurate. 

This is one of my favourites. If you can’t work out how to tell people what you do, break it down and find out how you’d describe it on an insurance document.

You are aiming for the most boring possible way of describing what you do.

So organising mermaid hen parties = event manager.

Professional mermaid = entertainer.

Boutique stationery subscription company = office supplies.

Photography with soul for you & your beloved business = photography. Or corporate / commercial photography if you want to get really boring-specific.

Burlesque fabulousness = weekly dance classes.

I can pretty much guarantee that when you find the boring version, you will immediately start thinking of ways to introduce yourself that are as far away as possible from those words, which means you’re on the right track!

It’s ok to change things up – regularly!

Pomophily | likeminded friends from work | carlawatkins.com

Among all of this, it is really important to remember that it’s ok to change what you do, it’s ok to be doing lots of things and it’s ok to stop doing things.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but neither should you be apologetic or embarrassed about these things.

If you are currently unsure what your next direction is in business, and you are experimenting with a few things, it is entirely ok to stand up at your next networking meeting and say “At the moment I’m doing (or trialling) X, Y and Z, and working out where they fit in my portfolio career”.

You will definitely get some raised eyebrows, but I bet you also get some people telling you afterwards that you’ve opened their eyes to the possibilities of multipod living.

You’re a pioneer!

Carla attempting to paint a ceiling | carlawatkins.comLike the first coat of paint over plaster, you are transforming people without even realising it… 

When people asked me what I did, I used to mutter what I did quickly and change the subject, before I realised that being a multipod was a Thing, and a Thing that changed lives at that.

Discovering multipotentiality was huge for me – for the first time in my whole life I didn’t feel silly, scatty or like someone with major commitment issues (as I had been made to feel before whenever I took up a new job, interest, hobby or business).

So as established or fledgling multipods, once we have discovered it for ourselves, we owe it to the undiscovered multipods out there to be loud and proud in our adventures, and not to hide the different and wonderful things that we do.

Because by being your wonderful, multipod self – you never know whose life you might be changing, by giving them permission to step outside of the specialist and embrace their multipoddery.

Multipod Issues is a new and irregular series about life & business as a multipotentialite, sparked by some conversations and recurring themes that have come up recently. If you have a multipod issue you’d like me to write about, drop me a note – hello@carlawatkins.com 🙂

Need a photographer for your business(es) who understands the scanner / Renaissance human / multipotentialite thing?! I’m your girl

Branding Photography: Love You Burlesque

2017 was an exciting year. Having danced burlesque with the Burlesque Jems for nearly six years, when new owners Lizzie Lovelace and Bitsy Sunshine announced a rebrand, I was delighted to work with them to capture a year’s worth of their classes, residentials, performances and workshops to go with their brand new name.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favourite images I’ve shot for them this year:

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

 

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Love You Burlesque by Carla Watkins Business & Branding Photography | carlawatkins.com

Most of these will get their own posts now their website is live and all images are out in the wild. I’ll be running a weekend or two of All Your Glory boudoir sessions for them next year, which I am very excited about 🙂

Visit Love You Burlesque at their shiny new website, find them on Facebook and if you are near any of their nine classes, get yourself over to a weekly class – it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Planning your 2018 marketing & branding, and need some fab images to match your beautiful brand?  From an hour to a year, I can work with you to produce photographs which really show what you & your business do.  Email hello@carlawatkins.com and let’s talk about your beloved business! 

Juggling like an entrepreneur

Are you finding that life gets busier and busier, seemingly by the day?

Since leaving the London job for my beloved businesses & a day job nearer home, I try really hard not to glorify busy – to only say I’m busy if I actually am, and to try and make time to live among the madness.

But lately it has just been constant go, go, go – and everyone I speak to seems to feel similarly.

It’s relentless…

There are our businesses, our day jobs, our evening jobs, our partners / children / parents / pets who both want and need our attention & love. Our friendships old & new, our self care (always slips to the bottom of the pile, it seems) and our basic needs – eating, sleeping, talking to people. And that doesn’t even account for the technology – which seems to chew an enormous amount of time either in mindless scrolling, or fixing the bloody devices when they refuse to work properly…!

We are all constantly keeping too many balls in the air and it is knackering – and probably not very good for us.

My inner multipod has just piped up to say that plate spinning is what she does best – but even a professional plate spinner needs a break every now and again.

Planning ahead

This morning, some sixth sense made me decide to be ten minutes late for the day job so I could put the slow cooker on with a casserole for dinner. Not something I’d normally do (I’m usually running late without any excuses or decisions required!) but OH, how grateful I was to come home to dinner simmering away.

Because today, I:

  • juggled the day job between 9 and 5.15,
  • chatted to a friend about her new kitten on the way to the car park,
  • raced home and spent the last hours of daylight photographing some stationery for a magazine which needs sample images by tomorrow,
  • periodically removed my cats from said photographs,
  • imported & edited & exported the & sent them to the magazine,
  • responded to client & customer emails,
  • Instagrammed for a couple of my businesses,
  • made rice to go with the casserole,
  • put laundry in, hung laundry out,
  • lost a cat and found her on the heated airer (which is a new hiding place but I can’t fault her, it’s nice and snuggly),
  • filled in my bullet journal & tried not to panic at my endless to do list,
  • talked to one of my best friends on the phone and one via Whatsapp,
  • caught up on all the Whatsapp chats I have missed,
  • text my Mum to see how her day is going,
  • fed the cats and cleared up the regurgitated biscuits one of them puked up,
  • all before I had a chance to sit down with my own dinner and read for ten minutes while I ate.

And now I am writing this post.

Luna hiding on the airer | carlawatkins.comHave a picture of Luna on the airer, oblivious to my panic when I thought she’d vanished… 

I have an editing queue a mile long, marketing to do so that my mermaid mini sessions can go ahead, blogging because my head will explode if I don’t get some of these ideas out of it soon, gifts to buy and people to write to, Dadmin to do, life admin to do, bills to pay and a household to keep running. My wardrobe is very much currently a floordrobe.

Like you, generally I don’t mind all of this chaos, because my priorities do not include ironing my clothes ahead of when I need them, and I will always choose cuddles with my cats or writing a blog post over deep cleaning the kitchen or folding my clothes. But it is kind of exhausting always being behind schedule, or like today, remembering once you’ve already locked up for the night that your bins need to be out before 7am.

A reminder that you are brilliant

All of this is a precursor to saying that I think it’s really important, whether you’re a fledgling or a seasoned entrepreneur, to remember to acknowledge just how much you are achieving on a daily basis.

Regardless of what other people think you “should” be doing instead, and regardless of what you think you “should” be achieving, you are doing SO much more than you give yourself credit for.

Even if it doesn’t feel like much, or as much as you’d like, you are doing epically well! And I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that YOU ARE FANTASTIC.

Truly. Even if  most some of the time you feel frazzled, deranged and barely able to face the world.

Plus, you’re in great company!

I’d love to hear your stories of juggling life, business & the rest, and how you manage it – drop me an email and say hi!  And don’t forget to join the Business Soloists club for intermittent emails, and a group of likeminded people on the same mad journey. 

 

 

 

Urban Decay vintage lipsticks | product photography Essex

The lovely folks at Urban Decay sent me these some time ago – I’ve only just now had a chance to share them! In shimmering and unusual shades, they are a little bit rebel and very mermaid…!

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

If you’re looking for product photography for your own work, whatever you make, drop me an email – hello@carlawatkins.com – and let’s talk about beautiful photography for your gorgeous creative business!

Tough love, frustration and action

I’m away with my family in Greece at the moment, and while talking, swimming, resting and generally putting the world to rights, inevitably the subject of my businesses and my working life came up.

Mermaid Kerenza Sapphire swimming in Rhodes | carlawatkins.com

Last month I was granted part time hours for a year, working three days a week until the end of June 2018 – this is mainly because Mum and I have so much to do following the loss of Dad, that it is impossible to do around a full time job and still stay sane.

But… I already know I don’t want to go back full time. The balance of part time is so much better, with work not taking over more than 70% of my days in a week. I know, I know, it’s “only” a nine hour working day, but by the time you factor in getting ready, getting there & back, and then prepping food and keeping on top of housework in the evenings, plus vital things like sleep, there is very little time left for life, business, exercise or wellbeing.

Having aired this a few times, and also the fact that I am frustrated as hell with the recent lack of enquiries for hen parties, my family (Mum, my uncle and my aunt) stepped in to give me some much needed advice – not all of which I wanted to hear!

The main issue is visibility – when people find out what I do they are super excited, but I am not visible enough by a long, long way. To combat this I am looking at all kinds of things – wedding fairs, t shirts to wear when I’m out and about, collaborations with venues, lots of things. Some may come to nothing, but they’re all worth a shot.

Another frustration has been the ideas I have for shoots & great images to use in my marketing, but lack of time to make these happen. So now I am on a mission to make these happen in the next month or so – so I can get my name and my business and my mermaid self out there!

Wise friends have also told me to remember some things: that I am still grieving, and have achieved a tremendous amount despite that; that I have only actually been part time for a month, and the majority of that time has been spent on recovering from near-burnout and dealing with deathmin; and that now is the time to throw myself at it heart and soul, and see how well I can make it work.

I want to build up Ink Drops and also my photography work alongside this, so as ever I will be doing a juggling act. But I work better in every business and in the day job when I am happy, engaged and crucially, not bored… and boredom happens when I’m forced to focus on just one thing.

I have to try. If I can’t make it work to support myself, I’m no worse off in a couple of years’ time – I’ll just find a job to tide me over. But at least I will know I tried!

So… here’s to action, visibility and the madness that may ensue…

 

Building a business: the darker side of mermaiding…

Short but not so sweet today… not one, but two known merverts either friended me, messaged me, asked to join my group for pro merfolk, or a combination of the above in the last 48 hours.

WTF is a mervert, I hear you ask?! Sadly, as in every industry and pastime, there are always a few who spoil it for everyone else – in this case, people who harass mermaids both pro and amateur. Usually starting online, often turning into trying to lure performers into a one-to-one appearance, some of them have police records and some of them are obviously dodgy. Others seem innocent and then turn bad.

Mermaid tails on the sand | Mermaiding UK | ©Photography by Grace Hill www.photographybygrace.co.uk

Fortunately, the forum where mermaids from around the world congregate has a thread detailing proven offenders, so when names I didn’t recognise popped up, I did a check.

And then instantly blocked them from my personal profile, page or both. See how to block someone from your page and how to block someone from your profile (including sending you messages and friend requests) or how to block someone from messaging you on Facebook.

What I learned

Though this is a problem that is probably quite niche to performers, I thought it was worth including a list of warning signs.

Red flags, specifically for Facebook groups, include:

  • being a member of a ludicrous number of groups
  • having no profile picture and/or no friends on Facebook
  • not having anyone in common with you
  • having only mermaids in common with you (replace “mermaids” with whatever your industry specialism is)
  • randomly adding and messaging you when they don’t know you. I am always particularly suspicious when it is a random guy messaging me out of nowhere – it happens in my non-mermaid life, too, but my instincts for genuine questions over weirdos adding me to perv over my tail are usually pretty good.
  • repeatedly messaging the same thing, or emailing your (mermaid) business asking if they can visit or swim with you when you have already declined for whatever reason.

My takeaway lesson is that it is totally ok to trust your instincts – and blocking someone who is making your hackles rise is a much better option than leaving them to it on the off chance they become a paying customer. They are definitely not your ideal clients!

Intrigued? Read my series on building a business, based on my experiences with Mermaiding UK as I rebrand and relaunch it. 

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