for selling your work Archives - Kristen Kalp

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“But what if no wants it?”

There’s a thought process you can absolutely count on when you’re bringing creative work into the world. You make a thing. It’s available for purchase. And then your brain gets involved.

It whispers, “No one wants this thing I’ve made.”

Not “some people don’t want it.”
Not “a few people think it’s dumb but most people will think it’s pretty rad.”

“NO ONE wants this thing I’ve made.”

In just the past week, I’ve had this come up with two clients.

In our first case, a photographer has booked over 50% of the year’s sessions in January. Fifty percent. In January. We made a plan for when she actually starts marketing the sessions later in winter. (She’s still sure she can’t book the sessions. I told her for sure for sure, she’s fucked. Hosed. SCREWED…😉 )

In the second case, a photographer has booked weddings again and again with no webpage (not webSITE — just a mere webPAGE that’s part of a site) featuring her work. Word of mouth keeps on sending people to her, and she’s sure she can’t book 3 weddings this year.

Go ahead and judge: these people must be crazy, right? OF COURSE they’re going to get booked up!

But you, friend. You’re sure you won’t make rent or book that client. You’re convinced that what you offer has absolutely no value, even though people have sent you kind words and thanks and praise and your calendar is filling and you’re making a steady bit of income.

Hell, the parts of my asshole brain that are absolutely certain I can’t sell out Brave are just as strong as the parts that are determined to move seats and fill the workshop.

Check out the Brave workshop if your life feels two sizes too small and you know you’re living a safe/not-brave life — early bird pricing ends on the 31st!

We all have this little voice within us, particularly when we’re doing work we care about: nope, you can’t. Give up. No one wants this. It’s stupid. You’re going to go broke. You’ll end up loveless and penniless.

The horrible little voice of your asshole brain lies.

Case #1 photographer is booking the everloving shizbots out of her year and trying to figure out how to make space for more sessions during her busiest months.

Case #2 photographer is making a webpage for weddings and reporting back to me about it next week.

They’re both going to meet their goals and then some.

And you?

You can meet your goals and then some. But you’re going to have to get used to hearing that voice and then putting it in the corner. It’s not telling the truth. It wants to keep you small and scared. It’s just a troll trying to get you to stay hidden.

We all have that nasty ‘no one wants it’ voice, but not a single one of us has to listen to it.

P.S.  How to be Unreasonable-with-a-capital-U.

Photo // my own, from those 10 minute I owned a legit Polaroid before it died a painful death

The best $117.90 I’ve ever made.

Right around age 21, I internalized the idea that no one could make a living as a poet.

Being ever so wise and nearly 22, I quickly broadened that sentiment to mean that no one could make a living as a writer, either.

So, what’s a newly minted grad with an English Education degree who has cut off all hopes of being paid for the English portion of that degree to do?  Teach in the public school system, obviously!

Within two years of taking part in that system, I became disillusioned and said, “Oh hey, you know what I’ll do? I’ll be a photographer,” like you do.  Then I started writing to photographers about the business of photography, and then to other business owners, and I started ghostwriting some projects, too, and suddenly (over the course of a number of years) I WAS MAKING A LIVING AS A WRITER.

For seven years, that was enough. Brand Camp was lovely and vital and it kept taking interesting twists and turns and I kept making stuff and learning stuff and helping people, too. And then one day, it wasn’t big enough to hold me anymore.

Earlier this month, my first book of poetry was published.

I pre-sold a whopping 15 copies.

My royalties from those book sales total one hundred seventeen dollars and ninety cents.

Peeps, I’ve been behind the scenes for six-figure launches and even had one of my own. I have had paydays that equaled more than an entire year of my teaching salary. I have created deeper and deeper work, and I have been an agent of change in many clients’ lives, and still.

That one hundred seventeen dollars and ninety cents is the best money I’ve ever earned.

Not because I plan to be the world’s first billionaire poet. (Hell, I’ll be dead before I can use poetry to pay even one month’s rent, if we’re going by this 117 dollars every 17 years standard.)

Because my heart.

My heart is more open and alive than it’s ever been.

Brand Camp has to go because I don’t want people to visit and think that poetry is the anomaly. As in, “Oh yah, she teaches about business, and then there’s this one weird time when she released a book of poetry…?”

I can’t embrace that future, and I don’t want to keep crafting a world in which people think of me as a business owner first and a poet second.

Words are the heart of me, and teaching is intertwined in there, too, and these two entities form a wild and compelling core that I can’t try to shove into a box I’ve made any longer.

Thus, the end of Brand Camp. There’s nothing gossip-worthy. There’s no malice and there aren’t any lawsuits and there’s no drama of any kind.

I’m not even sick of talking about business or tired of working with business owners, I’m simply coming to the point where I admit that poetry and words and writing are just as interesting to me as helping my peeps come alive through entrepreneurship.

All the Selves I Used to Be is my great coming alive story, 17 years in the making, and it’s full of all the pieces of my soul that I’ve found worthy of keeping during my evolution.

I hope it helps you remember your own soul.

I hope it gives you hope.

I hope my poetry helps you feel more alive, more human, and more willing to own up to what you find most interesting in this moment.

…and may you, friend, someday know the joy of being paid at least $117.90 for bringing your dearest and most treasured work into the world.

Why you don’t want to be ‘failure-proof.’ Promise.

I was on Facebook for a second and saw the ad: ‘Failure-Proof Your Launch!’

Then I laughed so loud that I startled the dog from her sunny little nap beside me.

Failure isn’t something you can ‘proof’ against, like making sure your babies don’t eat those laundry packs or making sure your teens aren’t snorting cocaine in the bathroom while you’re in the next room making dinner.

You can’t ‘failure-proof’ your business, period.

Further, your biggest ‘failure’ might be the source of more goodness in your life than you could possibly imagine.

My biggest success/failure (maybe the term is ‘life lesson?’) was revealed to me in a vision that arrived complete with a sunrise ferris wheel, large-scale paint twister, and a handful of speakers I’d move the world to see throw down their wisdom on stage.

I assumed, since this vision came so clearly and with enough force to bring me to my knees weeping in the shower one morning, that the vision ALSO meant I’d gotten a pass.

The pass went something like:

This will be wildly successful, guaranteed!
My best friend can quit her job to bring this into the world together and it will work out, guaranteed!
This one event will pay the year’s bills if we just stay faithful enough to what I had seen, guaranteed!


Wrong, wrong, and so so SO wrong. (You know where this is going, right?)

We sold 20% of the available spaces.
She returned to her job within the year.
I lost more than forty grand in the final total. (Insert frowning accountant face here, yo.)


Would I change it?
Would I take all the struggle away and use my flux capacitor to go back and make that giant profit and trade in the lessons I’ve learned in the past two years?

Oh hell no.

The real risk would have been letting that magical knee-weakening vision go.
It would have been giving up halfway through, when things got tough and I wanted to refund everyone’s money.
It would have been underpaying my people, or calling in favors, or skimping out on my debts.
It would have been staying in a relationship that was suffocating me .00005% a day — oh so imperceptibly — for the next few decades instead of leaving when my heart gave the signal.

It’s only in the past few months that I’ve recovered enough sensibility and fortitude to take another big, true risk. This time, a book of poetry.

All the Selves I Used to Be // Kristen KalpAll the Selves I Used to Be, my collection of 69 poems written from 1999 to the present, and is available right here.

It’s not meant to make millions or to be a New York Times bestseller —
though of course those things would be lovely —
it’s meant to show you who I used to be,
because I’ll bet you’ve been a few of these selves, too.

It’s meant to call from your heart to mine, often in life’s most tricky moments, and whisper that you’re not alone. (Also to make you laugh just enough to keep reading.)

Here’s to taking risks, my friend.

May you know the magic of seeing the vision,
and may you find the courage to bring it to life,
consequences be damned.

Oh, and may you…buy the book.