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Hope | Passage Hill Studio

In Life & Business

What are you hoping for your life and business these days?

What big or small ask could you make — today — that will bring you one step closer to those hopes?

What move can you make to ensure those hopes become reality? Lets press into this together.

A little photoshop collage warm up and Thursday thoughts for you.

Why Working for Success Doesn't Always Work | Passage Hill Studio

It’s a new year with new goals.

You’re taking strides towards success because you long to achieve your heartfelt dreams. Right?

What if I told you that working for and chasing success doesn’t always pan out?

Here’s what working for success looks like:

You dream, vision, plan, and scribble goals in a fancy notebook or planner. There are highlighters involved.

You write a million action steps that will take you to the door of success. You work hard and sometimes you step over the threshold into the success you’ve been reaching for. Wow. Go you.

But what happens if you aren’t able to complete a few of your key actions along the way? How do you react when the plan gets jumbled and you don’t end up in ‘Success Town’? When you look back after each quarter or the end of the year and didn’t bring your original vision to life?

There’s letdown. There’s disappointment over what feels like failed effort. When you’re working for success there’s frustration over not doing ALL THE THINGS you said you’d do this year!!

Working for success doesn’t always work because we have a narrow picture of what “success” looks like in our heads. It’s black and white. It’s solely the picture of the original vision. The goals we’ve been chasing all along. If we don’t live into that specific vision, those goals, we tend to call it failure. Even if we’ve done some pretty great things during the year…

Work for Progress | Passage Hill Studio

What if there was a way to feel more fulfilled and grateful? A way to embrace the actual gift of the hard work you’ve put in?

I think there is — and I’m hoping my 2016 looks a whole lot more like pressing into progress than working to have a successful year.

Here’s what tracking progress looks like:

You dream, vision, plan, and scribble goals in a fancy notebook or planner. There are pretty pens and markers involved.

You write plenty of micro-goals that will help your dreams live well. You work hard. But your plan doesn’t unfold like you expected it to. You don’t accomplish what you thought you would.

Instead of looking back after each quarter or at the end of the year with a sinking feeling — ‘I didn’t reach those big-meaningful-goals that I set out to reach this year…’ can we try something else?

Each month write down the ways in which you made progress.

Maybe you didn’t write as many guest posts as you had planned but you wrote three. That’s progress. It’s meaningful.

It’s moving you three steps closer to where you were before. If you just look back on your month and weren’t able to cross off the “success goal” of 10 guests posts, you’d feel dismal.

Maybe you didn’t book as many clients as you were counting on but you had awesome engagement on your social media resources — that’s still progress and success in its own form.

What kind of mind-set shift would happen if you tracked the baby steps, the progress, and the highlights of the month? What would happen if you worked more for progression and less for success?

I’m willing to bet feelings of fulfillment and gratitude would bubble up when you look back on the progress of small-moment wins. In turn, those micro moments could be counted as success.

How have you progressed this month?

I’d love to know the wins you’ve had! Share with me below.

Encouraging Finds from Live and Online | via Passage Hill Studio

Hey entrepreneur friend!

Could you use a little encouragement this week? In my reading I’ve found some uplifting finds for you. In a nutshell this is what I’ve learned and have been reminded of from the following folks this week:

From Andrew Dumont…

Ambition is a double edged sword and in this post Andrew speaks about the ways ambition can hold us back from achieving what we’d like to. “When ambition eats at you, it feels like no matter how much you accomplish or how hard you work, you haven’t done enough.” His observations are reassuring but he also offers insightful ideas to press into when ambition is nagging.

From By Regina…

Oh my word. Have you ever been on the hunt for critical information so you can move forward with a certain project or portion of your business? Regina’s post on creating online workshops is everything I hoped it’d be, and more! She’s given such beautiful, thoughtful, and detailed tips on making online classes happen with ease!

From Hello World Paper Co. …

If you’re the boss — this read is for you. Kelly has the cutest Etsy shop and has written this for entrepreneurs everywhere. She’s helping me become a better boss to myself. Tip number 10? Yes, please.

From Ashley Ann Photography…

If you work with clients of any kind, extravagant thoughtfulness can go a long way. Ashley shares personal stories of how a few, simple surprise gifts in the mail warmed her heart. When you think about your clients, how can you show them that you care and are rooting for them?

From Positively Present…

Dani shares the most inspiring resources, quotes, and links. There’s a pretty lettered quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald over there right now: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

From Marc & Angel Hack Life…

I’ve been listening to this video interview as I wake up to the day. Angel and Marc share the quiet rituals that have made them remarkably successful. My favorite tip so far from Marc? “If you don’t take care of your business, no one else will. It’s up to you. It’s on you.” And from Angel? “I like to think of the impact of not getting something done. If I’m not doing my job then our audience isn’t receiving the insight, inspiration, of help they need. The impact of the core message isn’t spreading if we’re not doing our work.”

There’s been plenty of design work taking place behind the scenes and it’s time I shared a few of the projects I have “in the works”! Designing this website for Tom and Mike of Modern Produce Equipment has been quite interesting to say the least! Even though I’m married to a farmer, there’s so much to learn in the produce harvesting equipment arena and it’s been great.

FMMwork Began designing a layout + letter for Forgotten Man Ministries [they work with inmates in our local jails] and am quite inspired by the words of Pope Francis to the inmates at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. “This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation. A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires: inmates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs. A rehabilitation which benefits and elevates the morale of the entire community.” Grateful to be designing for a ministry with a heart for transformation, reunification, and restoration.

Oh Tanisha! She’s an awesome career development strategist and I can already feel the impact that she’s going to have in our world through this new business venture of hers. This website project is a whole bunch of FUN since I can showcase Tanisha’s bold and wise personality in her branding.

greatlakescattlecompanyweb This is another site for Tom. Their business of selling healthy grass-fed beef through Great Lakes Cattle Company is pretty great!

This is the site I designed for Second CRC. I’m still adding final touches but it really came together well and does a nice job of representing the welcoming community over at Second.

I met Patsy three years ago at a design conference in Boston! Since then she’s started this darling blog called &celebrate and will eventually begin working with clients. I couldn’t be more excited to work with her on several custom branded pieces [letterhead, note cards, wrapping paper, etc.] which will give her businesS special touches.

And of course, every designer needs a little R&R with her hubby on her 7th wedding anniversary! Brent and I took a 3 day weekend up near Lumberman’s Monument in the Huron National Forest. Relaxing to the max. I had some time to read a book called, ‘Compassionate Careers’ which is all about making a living by making a difference. Fascinating/meaningful read. You should check it out!

If you’re a dreamer with a heart full of daring and soulful ideas, ideas that will help our world thrive — let’s make those ideas soar. If your visuals [logo, brand, website, etc.] aren’t as inviting as you know they can be (or if they don’t even exist yet…) let’s make those entrepreneurial dreams happen and let’s start with good design.

Click below to learn about working with me.


How to be Wildly Innovative | Passage Hill Studio | #graphicdesigner

There was a missionary-doctor.

Many years ago, he fashioned a prosthetic leg out of plane crash wreckage for a man in Ethiopia.

I can see the doctor forming a leg out of an old tire. “Not supportive enough.” And then whittling a leg out of wood. “Too pirate.” Stumbling through the bush, finding metal from the plane, knowing it’d be perfect.

That’s pure innovation, born from the need to gift his patient the ability to walk.
That doctor is my grandfather.

The more time I spend with him, now that he’s moved to Michigan, the more I realize the heart for innovation he’s passed onto me. At 93, he’s still inventing. The clock at my parent’s home “bings” every 15 minutes. Not relaxing when trying to catch ZZZs. Over breakfast he suggests an amalgam of “rubber bands, cotton balls, and string” to silence the noise in the wee hours.

His mind fascinates and inspires me to press into innovation. It’s a lifelong pursuit to enjoy and a gift our world needs.

How to Be Wildly Innovative

Innovation is a spirit we can incorporate and work alongside. It’s a chance to embrace opportunities to create change. It’s the possibility to foster transformation and cultivate breakthroughs via ingenuity.

1) Innovation stems from current or future needs.
What needs do you see or anticipate in your business? What essentials do your clients long for? What could the world benefit from? What’s broken that needs restoration? What could we do better? What solution to a problem hasn’t been created yet?

Become a questioner of the way things are and a “serial noticer” of needs. Make lists of these needs then press into imagining new solutions.

2) What’s possible? Dream. What can you transform?
Innovation comes when we ask ourselves the question, “What if?” It happens when we open ourselves to ANY possibility or answer.

Talk it out. Converse with yourself or others. Write. Spitball idea after idea in a group or journal.

3) Use what’s around you.
What ‘airplane wreckage’ do you have at your disposal? Paper and pens? Paint and cardboard? Silicon and circuits? Fashion something new from it. Nothing is off-limits.

Use every day materials in odd and different ways. There are no rules. Try as many combinations as possible (like pumpkin spice and carrot cake ice cream in the same darn gingerbread waffle cone).

What intangibles can you connect and tweak? Rearrange and link ideas. Develop new processes by trial and error.

innovation and success

It’s true of innovation too. It doesn’t come at some future point, but moment by moment as you’re enjoying the process, frustrated by the process, and adapting to the needs you have and see in the world around you.

What are your favorite tips for fostering innovative ideas?

Share in the comments below. Or, if you’re struggling with a certain issue in your business, let it out and let’s see what innovative solutions we can foster together!

Monthly Business Vision Board

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee

With the fourth quarter upon us, I woke up thinking about the projects and people I want to work with over the next few months. That led me to the idea of creating a vision board for the month to represent several dreams and goals for my design studio.

Creative exercises like these have a way of warming up your heart for the month — they give you something meaningful see and to aim at on a daily basis.

Vision boards often have more soul than a calculated to-do list or formal calendar. Even if you don’t accomplish everything you set out to do, this project will give your month a jumpstart.

Step 1 in Creating Your Business Vision Board

Think about the month and jot a list of things you’d like to represent on your vision board.

Because in order to do what you want, sometimes you need to show yourself and others what you want.

What projects are you excited to dive into this month?
What kind of people do you want to work with?
What do you want to learn, read, experience, create?
What’s inspiring you?
What will you embrace?
How will you spend your time?

Make your own monthly business vision board | Passage Hill Studio

Step 2

Grab the scissors. Flip through a few magazines and cut out images that symbolize your goals. (You can also print a few pictures offline.)
Clip out phrases or words that are meaningful to you.

The amount of images you place on your vision board is up to you. You might gravitate towards one image and want to use that to represent one big monthly goal. Say, as person reading a book on a sofa — to symbolize your goal of working toward writing a book. If that’s what you’d like to focus on it’s okay to keep it simple.

Step 3

Grab the glue stick, a piece of card stock, pens, markers, paints, crayons, and whatever crafty supplies you feel like using.
Arrange your pictures in a collage on the card stock by glueing pieces down.
Leave a few empty spaces to write in goals, ideas, or important phrases.

Step 4

Add in your goals.
Doodle around edges of images and add creative touches here and there.
If blank space speaks to you, leave room on your collage.

Creative Way to Plan Your Business Monthly

Step 5

Pin your vision board up in a place you’ll see it every day. Maybe it’s above the coffee maker, near your desk, or by your favorite cozy reading chair.
Spend time looking at your vision board before you begin working, when you need inspiration during an afternoon slump, or are having a rough entrepreneurial day. It’ll offer your heart and mind an important pick-me-up and help direct your steps.

What to do next:

I want to hear from you! What type of images will you put on your monthly vision board? Share in the comments below. If you create one and share it via social media use the hashtag #BusinessVisionBoard. I’d LOVE to see what you make and how I can support you for the month!

Encouraging Your Heart in Business

Hey entrepreneur friend!

Could you use a little encouragement this week?
I’ve been bee-boping around in life and online and have some uplifting finds for you. In a nutshell this is what I’ve learned and have been reminded of from the following folks this week:

From Melissa Camara Wilkins…

After a morning of spying too many perfectly styled Instagram photos I’m grateful Melissa tells it like it is. Art, life, and business is MESSY. And that’s okay. There’s room for the mess, the revisions, the rough drafts, the ideas that never take flight.
When Your Life Art is Messy

From Sarah J. Bray…

If there’s part of your heart that wants to be recognized online for the great work you’re doing or if you’ve received some unexpected attention online after a post went viral, Sarah’s words will ground you. They’ll keep you from striving toward the unimportant and reroute you back to your craft. They’ll point you to what matters most as you grow your business.
Attention is Not Our Currency

From Justina Blakeney…

I was in the mood to be inspired and picked up Justina’s book. I’m a pretty simple lady who enjoys pastels, white walls, and minimal decoration. The images in this book stirred my imagination and filled up my inspiration tank because they were vastly different from what I generally surround myself with. Sparks of creativity are bleeding into my work because of it. Try something different this week. Whether it’s a book, music, a special dinner, add in variety.
The New Bohemians

From Brooke Snow…

We need to do “all the things” on social media, right? Post Facebook updates, tweet, Instagram the heck out of our process, share savvy articles on Linked In, participate endlessly by adding to the conversation in Facebook groups. Yikes. Some declare that as the means to success online. Brooke’s here to tell us there’s a different way. There’s a better way and it starts with knowing that opportunities will find us when we’re doing what we love and making a difference in our field. Little of that has to do with incessant social media use. I’m into any post that tells me to relax and do more of what I love.
Entrepreneurship VS. Social Media

From Gretchen Rubin (via Jess Lively)…

This podcast covers a topic I haven’t thought about before: your personality will define how you master habits. It’s chalked full of ideas for setting up your habits in a way that works for you personally and for your personality type. I’ve always been excellent at certain habits but others seemed insurmountable. Now I know why… and what to do about it.
Mastering Habits Based on Your Personality

From James Clear…

Certain activities in my life and business are on the to-do list but are often neglected. You too? This week I learned a technique called “temptation bundling” in order to boost willpower and stop procrastination. Perhaps you’ll only allow yourself a shower if you’ve worked out. Or you can only listen to your favorite podcast while you’re at the gym. Maybe you can only listen to that new album when you’re making products for your business. “You are essentially bundling behaviors you are tempted to do with behaviors that you should do, but often neglect.”
How to Stop Procrastinating and Boost Your Willpower by Using “Temptation Bundling”

Let’s end with this quote.

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” – Tom Peters


Free Worksheets to Help You Finally Reach Your Business Dreams | Passage Hill Studio

You have a big dream, a passion burning bright.

You’ve said, “This week, I’m going to DO MY THING.” Write your book, create your course, start blogging. Another weeks goes by and you haven’t made traction towards your big, lovely goal. It stinks. You doubt your purpose. Your resolve is rattled.

Let’s put an end to those worries! I’ve created worksheets that will help you reach your dreams.

For months I’ve been droning on about wanting to “creative passive income,” and, “be more creative,” and “send people fun things in the mail”. That eventually led to, “open an Etsy shop,” and, “sell designs on Creative Market.” I’d put it on my to-do list but nothing happened. Because, darn it, that’s too big of to-do list item.

How to Gain Traction

Searching for my sister-in-law’s birthday gift fueled my action and led me to accomplish one of my goals this week (aka launching my Etsy shop).

Passage Hill Etsy Shop

She’s a ceramic artist so I stalked her pottery Pinterest board for the perfect mugs. There are 175 pins on that board, from many talented ceramicists. I was mesmerized by several pieces but what I found on a variety of potter’s webpages was abysmal:

  • sad looking, poorly designed websites that were burdensome to navigate
  • directions to call an obscure gallery to check availability
  • no pottery for sale
  • outdated information
  • hard to find links to Etsy shops; shops on vacation (“We’ll be closed for Christmas Break…” Mind you, it was June during my search.)
  • no information about when new products would be available
  • awesome pictures of new work but no way to purchase it
  • date of art fair, in a far-away town, where pottery would be featured
  • no contact information
  • many of them talked about wanting to sell their work, but weren’t doing it

Worksheets to Help You Reach Your Dreams

The thing is… you’re losing out on valuable customers who are more than willing to pay for what we have to offer. You’ll gain traction when you realize you’re missing out on bringing your dreams to fruition and sharing your heart with those who desperately need to hear it.

Learning from a “Dream Liver”…

Sean O'Connell Pottery

At long last, I found Sean O’Connel Pottery. He’s doing it right and living his dream:

  • his site is simple, easy to navigate, and showcases his work well
  • he has an inviting paragraph that directs people to his Etsy shop, tells them how convenient the process is, that he offers custom orders for individual clients and retailers (with a link to contact him), a complete listing of retailers throughout the US that carry his work. Talk about thorough.
  • the “Shop” button is front and center — it takes you directly to his Etsy shop that is full of beautiful products (Looks like his shop is on vacation till August 1st but he’s left a link which takes you to another site that sells his pottery.)
  • I picked the mug I wanted, purchased it in a click or two
  • The mug arrived quickly, was well packaged, and included an informative postcard: “Here’s more of my ceramics.” “Here are my shows.” “Here are my classes.” “Have a look at my website again!”

Purchasing from Sean’s pottery shop was a perfect loop from start to finish. But he’s put the time in. He did the work to sell his work. You can do this too. You’re capable of doing the work.

All You Need is a Plan

When working towards achieving your dreams your brain will be in different modes. Instead of hopping sporadically from mode to mode (creativity/creation, logical/business/calculations) and losing valuable time, I’ve found it helpful to streamline the process of achieving your goals by grouping similar tasks together.

I’ve made worksheets to help you outline a plan and reach your dreams!

They’re what I used to break down the process for achieving my BIG goal of opening my Etsy shop. These worksheets made it attainable + fun. Scribble on them, make them yours. Cross out the titles and insert what’s relevant to you. What matters is that you write down realistic steps so you know exactly what you need to work on. Here’s a sample of my worksheets; take a look at them. They’re rough but will help you fill out your worksheets!

I Want to Look Over Your Plan!

Once you download the worksheets and fill them out, send me an email, say hello, and show me your game plan for moving forward towards your dreams. Accountability always helps! alysa@passagehillstudio.com


Creative ways to share client testimonials on social media without bragging | Passage Hill Studio

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time chances are clients, students, or customers have praised you. It’s exciting and uplifting when people share kind words about what you do. Makes you want to shout them from the mountain top, huh? Let’s explore 11 creative ways to share these glowing testimonials via social media. [Without bragging!]

1) Invite them to celebrate with you.
“Isn’t is great we can follow our dreams? Celebrating the launch of So-and-So’s business, grateful to use my gifts to help her thrive, and humbled by her kind words: [insert testimonial].”

“Kind words like these make my day: [insert testimonial].”

“When I started my business I was a little apprehensive about ____. Today I’m celebrating the opportunities I’ve been given to help my students find their voice through singing lessons. So-and-So’s kind words really warmed my heart: [insert testimonial].”

2) Highlight the client/student/customer.
“Isn’t this student’s artwork amazing? [post picture] It’s been a thrill to teach him and watch as he uncovers his talents. Here’s what he has to say about class: [insert testimonial].”

3) Showcase how you helped solve a problem and tell stories.
“When this client came to me they were confused about [problem]*. After working together for a few sessions it’s incredible to see them tackling their business in a new way. Can’t you just hear the freedom in their voice: [insert testimonial].”

*Be sure your client is okay with you sharing this before post online. Most will and often times address it right in their testimonial.

4) Encourage and compliment your client/student/customer first.
It’s easy to offer a heartfelt compliment or piece of encouragement by tagging your customers or students on social media. No, you’re not fishing for a return compliment but if one arrives, it’s a nice surprise.

“Hey @_____, loved listening to your recent podcast. Awesome job showing people how to live simply.” In return they might say something like, “Thanks @______! You really helped narrow my focus with [your service/product you offer].”

“You were loads of fun to work with @_____! Hope you have an awesome week at your new yarn shop!” In return they might say, “Oh gosh @____, thanks for helping us #market our business so well! Can’t wait to see new customers walk through the door.”

5) Use it as a moment to teach what you know.“When So-and-So and I started to work together he needed a few tips about finding awesome stock photos online. I pointed him to these sources — perhaps you’d appreciate them too: [list sources].Here’s what he’s been enjoying about the sites so far: [insert testimonial].”

6) Share in moderation.
If you have five super-duper testimonials to share, it’s okay to space them out. Schedule to share one every few weeks or so. Balance testimonials out with helpful posts that serve your clients, students, or customers.

7) Be humble.
No need to say things like, “Oh my gosh I’m amazing! Check out how cool So-and-So thinks it is to work with me: [testimonial].”

Instead say something like, “I’m grateful for clients who allow me to use my gifts to help them bloom: [insert testimonial].”

8) Remember your ‘why’.
Why are you running your business in the first place? It’s probably not for constant praise and accolades — there’s heart behind it, I’m sure. Reiterate that when you share testimonials.

“I started my business to help busy moms spend more time with their families. It’s refreshing to know I’m making progress towards this…one awesome mom at a time: [insert testimonial.]”

9) Put them on your site under a testimonial section.
List your testimonials on your website under a section dedicated for kind words from clients or students. Every now and then offer a simple and modest post on social media. “If you’ve been thinking about connecting with me to work on [insert business or problem] and wondering what it’s like — my students say it best: [insert link to your testimonial page].”

10) Study people who do it well.
You’re online a lot. If you follow any businesses at all — notice how they share testimonials. Keep an eye on how entrepreneurs [that don’t annoy you or sound brag-y] share kind words from customers and clients. Put your own spin on it and follow suite.

11) Get creative!
Instead of posting their words into the body of social media posts, consider other ways you can convey the same material. Take a picture of a thank you note or email on your computer and share that instead. Write some kind words on your white board and snap a shot of that. Grab a picture with your favorite student or customer and post it online (with their permission of course) by their testimonial. It’ll add depth to your business and social media accounts.

Most of all, share from your heart and personality. Share in a style that feels comfortable for you. If you need help being yourself and infusing that into the daily life of your work… this will help.

So which tip will you try first? Tell me in the comments below and offer a few of your clever testimonial sharing ideas too! 

May & June Design Sessions Available | Passage Hill Studio

If you’re a dreamer with a heart full of daring and soulful ideas, ideas that will help our world thrive — let’s make THIS the year those ideas soar.

Let’s make those entrepreneurial dreams happen and let’s start with good design.

If your visuals [logo, brand, website, etc.] aren’t as inviting as you know they can be (or if they don’t even exist yet…) don’t let it weigh you down! I’m here to help you clear the fog!

My design schedule is quickly filling up with projects for the next two months [custom lettering, illustration, branding, websites] but I want to save YOU a spot.

Because guess what? Your dreams are begging to live well through good design and I want to be there to encourage you as your business develops.

Click below to get started!