Do the Hustle (a Women in Business post)

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life96 Comments
Let me start by saying this is a post about women in business and specifically about me, who is a woman and has a business.

I love what I do to make ends meet. I get to design cute things. I get to teach online classes. I get to write a blog. I get to do a lot of stuff that some people would also like to have the luxury of doing.

For this, I am grateful. Nearly every effing day.

While I was doing what I do last week, I rang up my friend Margie on FaceTime and as I was explaining to her what I was working on, I just spontaneously burst into tears and said, “I am so tired of trying to be creative all the time.”

Now there was a lot tied into that statement. First, there was a touch of self-pity. Second, there was a dash of truth. And third, I was going on roughly four hours of sleep from the previous night.

When you work for yourself you wear, as they say, hella many hats. You are the boss. The employee. The marketer. The idea girl. The tech guru. The business manager. The tax minion. The customer service representative. The craft services lady. The stylist (read: chooser of which yoga pants to wear today.) In short, you have to do a lot of things to keep everything moving in the right direction.

But even if you do everything as perfectly as you know how to, it doesn’t automatically translate to income. That is a fact.

I told Dan this, in a separate, less tearful exchange and he told me, “Yeah, but it doesn’t take away from the quality of the work you create” to which I replied, “But quality means nothing if it doesn’t translate to income.”

(cue the sad trombone…)

My income has been of critical importance for the past 10 years. Many of those years have found me in the breadwinner position and yet some days I feel like I don’t have another idea in my pretty little head. And that is usually when the crying starts. That, and the need for sleep.

My point in sharing this today is that creativity isn’t some naturally bestowed gift that some people have and some people don’t. Granted, you probably wouldn’t want to buy journal cards that were designed by my husband, but I believe we all have the opportunity to access our creativity. But even when you do it successfully, you can’t start counting your dollar signs before they’re hatched.

There is a part of me, and its percentage of size varies from day to day, that feels like I’m just a few ideas away from never having another profitable idea again.

Then there is the task of promoting yourself and your wares. Some days, this happens more naturally than others. But lately, I’ve been pimping the shit out of me and my assorted offerings.

Last week, I was getting ready to post one more final link to encourage sign ups for my current class and I sat and stared at the Post button on my business Facebook page for what seemed like, well, at least two minutes. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but as I raised my forefinger to click my Magic Mouse, all I could think was, “I’m sorry, Facebook friends. Forgive me?”

But click I did, because part of this work includes self promotion. And yes, I agree with the genius quote from David St. Hubbins in the movie Spinal Tap: “It’s a fine line between clever and stupid.”

Because it is also a fine line between acceptable and annoying.

There are days when, however unrealistic, I wish for a winning lottery ticket or to discover that a long lost Canadian relative who happened to be both rich and completely enamored of me has bequeathed all of her earthly possessions to me in her will. When that day comes, I will no longer work for money.

You know how you’ll hear people like Oprah say, “Find what you love and do that and the success will follow”? You know, the idea of “Follow your bliss?” Well the reality that I know is that your bliss had better find a way to pay the mortgage. Trust me, when my bliss can’t pay the bills, it will be relegated back to the Hobby category.


There are days when I wish I didn’t have to hustle for a living. Because that is how it feels sometimes. One big hustle.

I share this with you because I don’t think people talk about the hustle of this crafty business enough and how tricky it can be, or how scary it can be when your income comes with zero guarantees. But especially the hustle for creativity.

Or maybe just the hustle, period. I mean, we’re all kind of hustling, right?

Sometimes being an entrepreneur overwhelms you and you cry. Then you remember that you’re responsible for your emotions and you get back to the business at hand.

Or you open a bottle of cheap red wine and call it a day.

Or you remind yourself that every day of self employment is Bra Optional Day.

And sometimes that’s all the encouragement you need to keep moving forward.

Note: as I write about my experiences in business, I’m going to keep these posts link-free, save for the sad trombone. That said, if you wonder what types of ways I hustle for extra income, read my disclosure page which lists the affiliate programs I am a member of. Keep in mind, no one I know is getting rich on affiliate links, but every little bit helps.






Cathy ZielskeDo the Hustle (a Women in Business post)

96 Comments on “Do the Hustle (a Women in Business post)”

  1. #1

    Those of us who choose to be your friends on Facebook, or to follow your blog, or to stalk your classes on BPC… we all know that with that choice comes a bit of self-promotion. After all, you have to eat, right? Sometimes we need that extra kick-in-the-virtual-pants to actually stop and sign up for something. I’ve never found your level of hustle to be annoying at all. Although I can name one or two who push the hustle to a point beyond annoying… as in obnoxious… and I would totally unfriend except that I like SOME of the offerings… but I digress. You do what you gotta do Cathy and remember we love you anyway!

    1. #1.2
      Missus Wookie

      Agreeing with Cheri – we know that being friends or reading blogs comes because you have been so good at self promotion that we FOUND you 🙂 We choose to hang around, take your classes and buy your products (although hey if Dan decides to supply coffee and digital products I might be interested).

      As an entrepreneur myself I do the same sort of hustling and bustling around whilst hoping that some of that will translate into income. Completely relate to the ‘about to push the post button on Facebook’ have it whenever I do that too.

      Remind myself that someone has to pay the bills and buy cute products after all!

  2. #2

    So many great statements made in your post. The one that strikes the most with me is ,”Do what you love, but it needs to help pay the mortgage. This mantra was drilled into my kids heads as they contemplated career paths.

  3. #3

    The one that made me laugh was about wishing to win the lottery or find a long lost (rich) relative leaving you everything. I also work for myself doing something I love (baking) and I have many days like that. How is that, despite being on different continents, that you can vocalise my thoughts? You are amazing.

  4. #5
    Veronica Zwiers

    All this rings true in so many ways and in so many occupations. As a teacher, I often feel like a fraud. Do I really know what I am doing? I suppose the 8 years of University and practicum prepare me for this career. NOT! Nothing prepares you for the actual “doing of the job day in and day out.” That goes for ANY job. We have the knowledge, we learn the tricks of the trade…we perform…. we hope is it well received. The only thing that helps is practice practice practice, and knowing that once upon a time we were passionate about what we do….and that passion is what drives us to become better, and that some lessons suck, but we just get up and move on…..and some days…..we just don’t want to do it any more.

    1. #5.1
      Shawna Zervos

      As a teacher myself, this is so well said. While I am grateful for my job, for having a job that allows me to be so available to my family, there are times when I, too, feel like a fraud. I am merry sunshine and work with kids all day and than am short with my own at home, or worse have to do “work” instead of giving them my full attention. In all, I guess we all have moments when we feel this way regarding jobs.

  5. #6

    In my line of work (high school teacher) bras are pretty much mandatory, but man, do we hustle. I’m running short on sleep today and can relate to much of what you said as well. I will be struggling today to be humorous and light-hearted, and my creativity in delivering my lessons will be drawn from what my non-tired creative brain came up with on other days. I’ve never found that your self-promotion was annoying at all – it’s part of the deal, and I enjoy that you choose to blend a lot of humor and personality into that self-promotion. Keep doing what you do!

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      May I say that teachers, especially K-12 teachers, are the most underpaid folks in this society? I believe that. So hard.

      1. #6.1.2

        As the wife of a teacher, thanks. Some days I wish he took a different career path, but he loves it so much and is so good at what he does.

  6. #7

    Heck don’t worry about sending too many Facebook posts. I have never felt you do and if you are, well it gets lost in the huge amount of posts I already receive from other friends and acquaintances selling stuff. So please my friend, don’t sweat it. It’s the nature of the beast. And as always, I’m blown away by your honesty and love you all the more for it. If we were neighbours, believe me, we’d be crying into each other’s shoulders on a weekly if not a daily basis over our creative businesses lol. The fearful, critical voice is in my head too. As for following your bliss, have you heard of Cal Newport. He takes issue with people following their bliss and encourages people to develop craftmanship. And that, Cathy, is what you do. You have put years of craftmanship into your design skills. You will always find a way to provide an income with those skills. It may not always be in scrapbooking but they are skills which can be used in other areas too. Failing that – get some sleep girlfriend!!! Sending hugs and love as ever. Paul xx BTW you can hear a podcast interview with Cal Newport for free at't-ignore-you-cal-newport – or look for it in itunes.

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, friend. Yes, I’ll look him up.

      I just want to be honest about working in this industry. I think it can seem very rosy, but it’s just like anyone trying to make a living.

      It’s been a leaner year, and when you realize that you can’t really afford to replace a car that isn’t reliable (it sucks to break down in a Minnesota winter, in fact, it’s downright deadly), I don’t know, it gets stressful.

      That said, Dan has been a huge influence on me. We have never chosen to live beyond our means, which has allowed me to have leaner years. We don’t have all the stuff that successful people supposedly have.

      Yeah, and the crying jag was so tied to lack of sleep. But again, I need to check myself on the pity front. I love what I do. I guess I just want to be able to keep doing in because bras suck.

      1. #7.1.1

        “We don’t have all the stuff that successful people supposedly have.” I would throw out there that stuff is not indicative of success. And as for following your bliss/passion……I think that is often a load of crap too. Mike Rowe (dirty jobs guy) has a lot to say about that too. Elise Blaha is running a series on her steps to self employment. Good read. Final comment….don’t apologize. There is another entrepreneur in this industry that is on fire right now. She posts every which way there is multiple times a day. It’s her job. Her livelihood. Have you ever heard McDonalds apologize for too many commercials? People can hide or skip it if they don’t like it. End of sermon. Love your voice (meaning what you have to say, not the actual sound of your voice, which is not unpleasant……oh, I’ll shut up now)

          1. #…

            Was talking to my hubby about this. Load of crap? That’s a bit harsh, he says. He of the no college degree who does the most beautiful and artistic and I’m so impressed with his talents things with co concrete and color. So less harshly, my point is more that you should go with a career you can love if at all possible. Doing something you hate for a big paycheck will make Jack a dull and unhappy boy. But recognize that your passion may not be worth going into debt for a six figure college degree. Temper following your passion with a reality check here and there. Sorry if my first post was snappy and harsh. I’ve just had one too many conversations with a 20something that is buried in debt with no way to pay it off.

  7. #8
    Veronica Zwiers

    Okay… that sounded morbid when you push the enter button before finishing off.

    …and some day….we just don’t want to do it any more, but we do!

  8. #9

    You are a very long way from annoying. 🙂 You’re pretty damn close to awesome though. I hope this passes soon.

  9. #10

    Wise words woman…for everyone that thinks that being able to do what you do looks so fun, so effortlessly easy, it’s not. It is work, albeit enjoyable work doing something you love and have great passion for. I think that the pressure to perform (maybe wrong word choice?) and be successful because it is your career, your job, and necessary livelihood has got to be just as if not more difficult than putting on the hooter holders, getting in my car and driving to work to earn a guaranteed paycheck. No, it is more difficult because you have to self motivate every single minute and do the one man band march alone. I get it. My hat is off to you and all entrepreneur’s because you make it look simple and easy when truth is it is often the exact opposite. Much love chic

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thank you for that. I do love what I do. I’m very lucky that the stars aligned and I GET to do it. But every now and then, I just have a little cry, get it out of my system, and respond to the day at a hand. 🙂

      1. #10.1.1
        Michelle t

        That’s so understandable, we all have those days, including you, and you’re entitled and allowed. I can’t imagine how hard it can be to be self employed, and need to depend on your creativity. I think you’re brave for letting it out. I also think you are so amazing and talented. Michelle t

  10. #11

    I appreciate the realness here. Running a creative business is hard. So much of what you have to do to make money drains the creativity right out of you. And some of the most energizing, creative ideas you have can be absolute flops from a business standpoint. There is tremendous vulnerability and few people talk openly about it. It’s easy for an outsider to assume that every $3 set of journal cards you design floods your wallet with $100 bills, but it’s just as likely to net you zero. That’s damn scary. Thank you for not being afraid to talk about it here.

  11. #12

    I have admired your dedication and consistency for years. When I was scrapbooking for a living in the early 2000s it was hard to feel like I wan’t phoning in my creativity. “What? We need another layout with the new product for our CHA booth? No Problem!” Sometimes you just have to take your braless self to the sofa with a nice glass of wine and binge-watch something. More power to you!

  12. #13
    Cindy Howard

    Yea for bra optional days! Don’t we all wish we could do that! We love your work and your writing and even your funny self-promotions which we understand has to be done. How did we each know that we wanted a specific product or class if you weren’t promoting them? You are doing a great job and I hope you keep doing it for a long time.

  13. #14

    I think I’d like to see what a line of Dan Zielske journaling cards would look like. That could be AWESOME.

  14. #15

    thanks for sharing, love that you come across as a totally real person and not ‘happy happy joy joy’ (Renn & Stimpy – remember them?) person.

    I loved your 30 days of gratitude Facebook promo. I thought it was the perfect mix of a free and pay scrap project. I actually thought to myself, she could have charged for it on BPS, but is offering something free very nice. I’ll be making that one of my 30 thankfuls.

  15. #16
    Holly Corbett

    I wish I could say something that would make you feel 100% better, but I just don’t know how. I do know that at one point in my life, scrapbooking was not only a hobby, but a form of income for my family. And I broke under the pressure of trying to be creative, and I quit. I quit my favorite hobby because of the same ideas you stated above. And I totally regret that decision. But today, because of people like you, I have been inspired in the last three years to come back to scrapping as a hobby, and I’m in a much better mood because of it! I have found what makes me happy again. You’re running a business. I expect you to hustle. It never annoys me. I’m sure there are people who find it bothersome, but who cares. They have the option to “delete” you any time they want, and when they do, that’s one less negative and grumpy person in your life. Who needs that kind of additional crap? Not me. And probably not you either.
    I love your work. You are inspiring. And I appreciate your talent and your extra efforts more than you will ever know or understand. Keep up the totally awesome work!

  16. #17

    There are going to be a few spoiled brats out there who don’t get it, or may be annoyed. But the rest of us either have similar stresses as we own businesses too, or wish we could get off the customer service call line and out on our own. Whenever I see one of my favorite people promote the shit out of something, I just think “She is ALL IN with her business, good for her”.

  17. #18
    Lynne Gillis

    I hear ya sister. I am an interior designer, and I too, have my own business. There are days when the ideas flow… and others… not so much. I was talking to my business coach about just that topic yesterday. I was telling her how completely exhausted I was feeling – not so much physically (although a little of that), but just so very weary of all that it takes to make this work on my own. She likened it to a field that has yielded a bountiful harvest of corn year after year… but now, the soil is barren. That’s kind of how I’m feeling at the moment.

    So, being a midwestern girl, I found myself starting to take that corn crop analogy and run with it. Because what do farmers do when they’ve stripped the soil of all of it’s nutrients from farming a specific crop? They allow the fields to go fallow… or they plant a completely different crop (like soy beans). And I started to think about what that might look like from my perspective… what would allowing my own little field to go fallow for a bit would look like. And the thing I came up with is this: It would look like PLAY. It would look like putting worry aside and knowing that it will all be okay (because it will). It would look like giving myself the opportunity to play for a while. Go outside and explore. Go to a museum. Go to a flea market. Go to a farmer’s market. Take a class. Go to a comedy club. But the secret here is doing it intentionally, and removing the guilt of “I should be working” from it.

    That’s what I’m going to be working on this week. Recharging. Refueling.

    The thing is, I am idea girl by nature (ENFP on the Myers Briggs test), and a 7 with an 8 wing on the Enneagram. Sometimes it helps me start to generate ideas if someone else gives me a launching pad to start from. So I thought maybe you might enjoy some ideas that just came to mind… and I wanted to share.

    1. Products targeted to SINGLE people.
    Here’s the deal. I love my family. I love my friends. I am blessed beyond measure that they are in my life. But I am a woman in my mid-50’s who is single (never married – no children). I am the lost demographic in the scrapbooking world. There are very few, if any, products that are geared specifically to me or my lifestyle. Speaking only for myself (but I am sure that there are many others out there like me), I would love to have products (i.e., classes about telling your story when there aren’t kids and a husband as a part of it; journaling cards that reflect my single life style, digital elements that do the same, etc.)

    2. Classes About Your Workflow
    My impression is that you are super-organized, and that you have created a workflow system that works exceptionally well. As we enter into 2015, I for one would love to re-think how I’m approaching my memory keeping workflow. I need a better system. I am willing to pay to learn a better system. I’m sure I’m not alone. 😉

    3. Classes About Sharing Your Story With an Authentic Voice
    You have a gift of being able to write in one of the most authentic voices I’ve ever read. I am assuming that you write like you speak. It’s a talent that few people naturally possess… and yet I know many would like to learn.

    4. Specialty Album Templates
    I have participated in your 30 Days of Thankful project for the past couple of years, and LOVE it! Your templates last year were my favorites yet! It made it SUPER simple for me to do – which was key to my sticking with it and completing it. I was thinking about how great it would be if there were a line of specialty album templates from you that allowed people to create great little albums (either digitally or hybrid) for special occasions and/or gift giving. Things like:

    Vacation / Travel Documentation

    This House (a retrospective of a remodeling or home renovation journey – hey, I’m an interior designer – let me tell you how cool this would be to be able to give to my clients!)

    New Baby



    Transitioning Moments / Times of Change (this might be a little more challenging, but it would be really cool to have a way of documenting those times of transition – some may be difficult, some not so much – that we all experience. New job, new lifestyle (healthy), endings that make way for new beginnings, etc.)

    This Year With You (documenting a year with someone special)

    Obviously this is just a quick, top-of-my-head list – but there could be endless possibilities. The main idea is to have something clean & simple that allows people to quickly compile a great memory.

    I could go on and on and on… but mostly what I wanted to wrap this up with is a thank you. For your authenticity. For your perspective. For always keeping it real. You are a treasure.


    1. #18.1
      Jackie Baker

      Lynne Gillis, I too am a single over 50 and agree with your suggestions. I’m about to quit scrapbooking for lack of stuff to scrapbook.

      Cathy and others, I really appreciate this post. I am investigating going into my own (non-scrapbooking) business and the post and comments give me a lot to think about.

    2. #18.2
      Cathy Zielske

      Damn, woman. Now this is a comment with some food for thought. I’m copying and pasting it into my idea file.

      I do need a recharge. I work every day, pretty much. Saturdays and Sundays. I should take some time off, or at least put on a bra and take a field trip.

      1. #18.2.1

        Take the field trip without the bra! (and this comes from someone who is in her early 70s!)

  18. #19
    Tracy L

    I agree with Gypsy…you go Cathy! And I have read all of your FB posts of late and my thoughts were ….’wow that girl is busy! She’s got a lot going on right now!’ So it’s all about perspective and although it may feel like you are overdoing it, you are not! Love your posts! Keep up the good work!

  19. #20
    Mary Moisan

    This post just made me smile and knob my head in agreement. We think of ourselves as being so very different, when in reality we are all so very the same. Creativity doesn’t come automatically to most adults, it needs to be cultivated and at time forced to came out. I consider myself a creativity person. I’m on a design team, I can make a card and/or layout w/just about any product you throw at me. And maybe one day someone will like my work so much that they will make me a star. Until that happens I will live vicariously through you and other ladies like Kristina Werner, Jennifer McGuire, Ali Edwards who have made a name for themselves in the scrapbooking industry. Your name is your brand… promote it w/o shame and enjoy the rewards.

    PS… I said goodbye to my bras 10 years ago and I haven’t look back since 🙂

    1. #20.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Mary, I always feel like I’m being tortured. Every minute I’m in a bra. I have tried bras that cost RIDICULOUS amounts of money. I have been fitted at Nordstrom. I have worn every style imaginable, and reached they same conclusion: THEY SUCK!

  20. #21

    You are brave and kind to share your personal tribulations of self-employment and entrepreneurship. As always, am continuing to hope for your continued success. Your artistry and products have been the foundation of my memory keeping for many years.

  21. #23
    Mary Kay

    I hear you, sister! In the waning days of my (short-lived) brick-and-mortar scrapbook store, I told a business consultant that I felt like I had to tap dance on the tables to get people into the store.

    He said, with a sad expression, “You do.”

  22. #26

    Well, there you have it. Honest truth and a real view of life at Zielske Towers, Creative Central. And no-one here thinks any the less of you for all that you do – including shameless self-promotion. That would be like castigating a rock band for daring to promote their new album or single! And that is what you are. Your very own rockstar. Don’t ever lose sight of that, or fail to weigh what you do against what other creatives do. We are here BECAUSE a of your business. None of us (bar one or two notable exceptions) are what you would consider friends in real life, we are customers. Whether that is because we buy your products, your training, your ideas, or even buy into some of your philosophies – we are still customers. No product, no adverts = no customers and no income. I love what’s you so and how you do it – have a little more faith in yourself and what you do, lady!

    They are also words of wisdom well received here as I’m just in the throes of being made redundant and I’m stepping my own business up to try and make it work. And it HAS to work or I’m back out peddling my ass for a job within 6 months if I don’t promote the heck out of myself. What you have just said, I’m going to print out and stick by my PC for those tough days, to remind me to have some self belief and I’ll succeed… Just as you have. Oh yes. You have. 9000 likes (and growing) is nothing to sniff at….

  23. #27
    Kim Woods

    Although I know what you mean I want you to not ever think “sorry facebook friends” because I seek out a new post from you, Margie, Heidi, Christy, Liz and all the other awesome Sparky/Scrappy gals. This really speaks to me as I’ve recently found a side job involving my passion (photography) which is helping pay my kids dance and sports bills! I get it girl, I hustle all the time from sun up to sun down. I also know how depressing it can be to be exhausted and just this morning vowed to go to bed earlier and get to *work* my day job office earlier.

    As far as self-employment, you are brave and creative and need to keep that hustle going. The thing is about creativity is we tell ourselves things are good enough yet when we show them off everyone else says “you are awesome, talented, terrific” etc. So embrace those ideas you are thinking aren’t good enough because they’ll probably inspire someone else.

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about life, family and work. It is so nice to see the not so pretty from a busy working mom. OMG and that pic is priceless! I think I have one similar but with big hot rolled hair 🙂 hugs.

  24. #29

    We can always count on you to be honest Cathy, and that’s why we love you. You can pimp yourself out all you want — we are your fans and we support you 100% — so there’s no need for a bra.

  25. #30

    Just discussed this concept about self-employment as artists / graphic artists / sign artists w/my husband this week! Joking about how nice it’d be to have a “real” 9-5 job with a steady paycheck, how as an introvert (me, not him) it’s so hard to be constantly selling myself… thinking people probably hate seeing my facebook posts since they’re usually about promoting my artwork etc. etc. etc… I never think your posts are annoying, but it’s funny how we ourselves think we might be to others! Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel!

    1. #30.1
      Cathy Zielske

      There is definitely an introvert thing that plays into it. I know people think it’s weird that I call myself one, but I am through and through. 🙂

  26. #31

    Oh…I do think those owl jams have made you “wise”, as you consider this, “The owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. ”
    At least it sounds good, right? You inspire other simply because you are real, and straight-forward. What a great post!

  27. #32

    Just a thought that I didn’t see in skimming the comments. I can only speak for myself, but I’m guessing there could be others like me. I love your digi products, your ideas for pages and albums, and your classes. But the majority of my purchasing is not scrapbook related stuff – it’s food for my family, gas for our cars, household items, school supplies (seriously a ton of school supplies!) and stuff like that. When I buy those items, I don’t ever think that in buying them I’m helping to support anyone, I just think about buying what I need. So sometimes it helps to have a reminder that when we buy your products and BPC classes, we’re helping support you and your family. This post was a good reminder, and well written.

    1. #33.1

      Sorry for double post but this comment was cut short due to improper emoticon usage and it didn’t include the gratitude part. Feel free to delete it as I reposted the correct comment next. I’m not fluent in iPhone-ology.

    2. #33.2
      Cathy Zielske

      You didn’t miss it. I never wrote it. Honestly? I mean, it’s the only one I have that fits, and fit well, it does, but after wearing it for 20 minutes, I feel like I can’t breathe. And yet, it’s comfortable in many ways.

      Bras just don’t like me. Or wait, the other way around. 🙂

  28. #34

    Speaking of bras, did I miss your post about the Jockey-bra-fitting kit and how that worked out for you?

    And on point, thanks for keeping it real and all the creative inspiration you have shared for years! I haven’t scrapped in a while (father passed a year+ ago, executrix duty and selling homeplace, moved our family recently, etc.) but as I purged my many scrap mags and books, your “Simple” books were kept. You Rock. And you deserve a sabattical.

  29. #35
    Sharon in TX

    You are never annoying, period. In fact, I am THANKFUL when I see your posts about new products and sales. Most times, I would either never know about them without your reminders.

    Your designs are timeless, Cathy. I saw several old issues of Simple Scrapbook at a resale shop last week. I flipped through them and had a smile at how dated some of the layouts were … except for yours. Your page designs are still relevant and fresh today.

    Please keep doing what you are doing! I, for one, look forward to your new designs, witty words, and, yes, reminders of what I might be missing. Thanks for all you share with us.

  30. #36

    Being an adult isn’t the big party my ten-year-old thinks it is. lol She thinks it’s great that we get to stay up as late as we want and have more disposable income. I try to tell her that, yes, that’s true, but the reality is that we need to go to bed so we won’t be too tired to do the job that *earns* us the income. So far, she’s not buying it.

    I think you do a great job of staying on the right side of the promotion fence. Those of us who “follow” your work want to know what you’ve got going on. Honestly, even if I can’t sign up for a class, I like looking at the lovely promotion graphic you’ve made. 🙂 I’m always grateful when you point out that one of your items is a 99-center on Designer Digitals that day. If I see it in time, it’s a quick click and a “yes, please” from me.

    1. #36.1

      Oh, and I also hate bras. Instruments of the Devil. Can’t remember the last time I had one I really loved for how it made “the girls” look *and* was also comfortable.

  31. #37

    Cathy – I can never receive too many reminders, emails or Facebook posts from you, they brighten my day.

    I am taking your MeTAV2014 and under my letter M is “Muse, s/a Cathy Zielske” you are definitely a big part of Me The Abridged Version and I am so happy to see any and all communication from you.

    I love to support you with buying your classes, your digital products and SO excited to be getting a set of stamps from you – keep the “hustle” going cause you are a rock star!

  32. #38
    Jennifer D

    I loved reading this post. I appreciate a peek into the not-so-glamorous side of making a living from creativity. 🙂

    I only skimmed a few of the comments, but the one that stuck out to me like a flashing neon sign was that you work every day. Every day including Saturday and Sunday. I feel like I don’t know you well enough to say this, but I’ll say it anyway…. Take a day off! You work hard and it’s more than okay to have a day of rest. I think you’ll find that it will make a difference in your creativity, your productivity the other 6 days, and your peace of mind in a way that means you aren’t really losing a thing in your job by taking that day for yourself. 🙂

  33. #39


    Your blog has kept me interested in this thing we call scrapbooking. For so long I had so much stuff sitting and I never used it, but visited your blog and loved your “clean and simple” approach so much that it kept me interested in one day continuing with my own scrapping.

    I was fortunate enough to meet 2 women who love scrapping as much as I do and they have re-ignited the fire for me. I’m scrapping more than ever before and have gone on 2 retreats that were heaven on Earth.

    I appreciate your “hustle”. . .creativity is work for those out there that do not know it, but you have found a way to make it seem so seamless to us mere mortals and I’m sure I speak for the masses when I say there would be a giant void in the scrapbook word if you were not around.

    For this, I think you.

  34. #40

    Well….when I win that Lotto Max….I will be that rich Canadian relative that leaves you something!! But you better do the same for me!!

  35. #41
    Cynthia Traner

    Love everything you posted, I feel like much of what you said at times. I have a retail shop called C and R Mercantile Co. I sell Vintage Collectables from 1920-50’s I am very creative in my shop and have been refer to as the live version of pinterest. I love my shop and sharing it with others young and old alike. It is my customers that keep me going. I do feel like I am still in the Hobby category since I have not drawn a personal pay in 1yr 7mon now but it pays bills and keeps the shop stocked. I decided to not have a guest book, but leave Scrap Booking pages for my customers to comment about their experience in my shop. I have posted them on Mercantile Facebook. As I have those days of wanting to cry and ??? should I be open. It is those written words that encourage me to keep pursuing my dreams. I feel truly blessed to do what I love and thank Jesus every day. Thanks for sharing with us all.

  36. #43

    I love the honest/real blogs. I think that is why I still follow your post daily where I’ve stopped looking at others on a regular basis. I can relate to many things you post (including the horrible MN winters-except I have to keep telling myself that it gets rid of the bugs so I can continue to live here). Lynne Gillis had some great ideas!! I loved last years 30 Days templates even though I wasn’t able to keep up with it (I’m going to try again this year).

  37. #45
    Gypsy Chaos

    Oh Cathy, Cathy, Cathy – there you go again, making life real. Showing that you worry and fret. Reminding us that you HATE – LOATHE – DESPISE bras. I hope you realize that your openness is one of your most endearing qualities. I love knowing that you aren’t feeding your blog with BS. When you’re happy, you say so. When you’re not, you say so. Thank you so very much.

    I enjoy your posts, here, on FB, wherever. I am fund-limited right now so I’m reading and enjoying — which isn’t helping your income. Sigh. I will when I can again! I feel guilty – rare emotion for me – that I am not as vigilant about reading blogs; FB has become a time sink, a habit I am trying to break.

    And for the record – I am one of those weird individuals – I can’t stand being without a bra; I prefer pantyhose to bare legs with skirts or dresses; I only learned to wear shoes with bare feet in the last two years. The world needs all kinds of people! 😉

    Thank you for all you do, all you share, and all you are.

    1. #45.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I should be clear: it’s not that I don’t NEED bra. LOL. I just hate ’em. HATE. 😉

  38. #48
    Audrey V

    As a woman who also runs my own business, I relate to many of your points. I ventured down this path 18 years ago so I could have more time with my kids and more flexibility in my schedule. I don’t regret it because I have a pretty sweet lifestyle, and I’ve had lots of time with my kiddos. On the flip side, I never anticipated how hard it is to run my own business, and the loss of income rather than working for a bigger company is substantial, especially since I am now looking college tuition right in the eye. But I’m not surprised, I knew this was the downside of my decision, and I still don’t regret it.
    I totally get your statement about “it doesn’t translate into income”. So many of the things I do are not “billable hours” and that’s tough to swallow sometimes.
    Some of the things I would like to tell you to are:
    You stand out in the scrapbooking industry. You have a unique style that is very desirable to a lot of people, and there is no one else like you.
    Your combination of a clean and simple and graphically pleasing style combined with killer journaling makes your product stand out. You understand color. Plus you have the cool factor.
    You are a fabulous teacher and I’m sure you get many repeat student.
    You are never annoying, you are always delightful to me as a blog reader and student.
    I understand that you must market yourself on social media, but your posts are short and sweet, and nothing like other individuals/businesses that are constantly self promoting.
    I understand the dislike for always having to hustle, I feel this way about my business too, I guess it’s a trade off for the flexibility we have and getting to work bra-less.
    I wonder if you are suffering from creative burn-out, which is totally normal, and could benefit from a change of scenery for half a day or more?
    I was recently thinking about how much I enjoy your products, and how cool it would be to combine physical stamps with your digital stamps. It sounds like you are starting to do this. I think you have the opportunity to expand your business. A CZ PL kit would rock.
    Hang in there, your fans think you rock!

    1. #48.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Audrey, and yes… I do think there is some creative burnout and I’m hoping to make some effort to get out and change my scenery. 🙂

  39. #49
    Sarah PM

    So, last time I checked, I chose to follow your blog, promotions and all. And to be quite frank, if you didn’t keep throwing out those self promotional bits, I’d forget to sign up for stuff because, hey, I have the memory of a goldfish outside of my job. Self promotion for you feels uncomfortable and I get that. But thank you for doing it.

  40. #50

    It’s perfectly fine to be annoying as long as it serves a purpose and it delivers. And boy do you deliver! Seriously I know very well known companies or people who are far more obnoxious than you are and create a bag full of air and deliver either nothing or very little.
    You don’t have to be afraid. You worked hard for years to create your brand, you are original, there is no second Cathy Zielske. I can name a whole bunch of others who are extremely annoying and all look alike, nothing sets them apart like you do.
    I think it’s very important to nurture that uniqueness and to be aware of it. To not change and follow the herd, stay as you are that’s why we are clients and love you at the same time.
    I know it’s different from a ‘normal’ self employment, one in where you take on a project to create a corporate identity or so. There is a distance between you and the client but in this case it’s much more personal.
    We are constant in your face and look to you for the next fun thing that you come up with. I can understand what kind of pressure that must be. Yet you prefer this over the other self employment option. But it’s good to know that if all else fails you can always fall back on your other self employment option, the one of the designer with a client because you’re just *that* talented. That’s your base you can fall back on, everything else is optional.

  41. #51
    Karen McLean

    You are real. You are human. And the fact that not only accept but celebrate and share that, encouraging us to do the same, is part of what makes you so awesome. Big hugs!

  42. #52
    Leslie Solomon

    Cathy, you are on OVERLOAD! I recognize everything you are saying today because I have lived it many times. Sleep, and possibly stepping away for a few hours or more will really help.

    As I was working on my Brain Dump today, I stopped to just revel in the joy that this assignment was giving me. YOU gave this gift to me and to so many others. YOU matter to us. Writing your blog and pressing the button to put it online never gives you the satisfaction of seeing our smiles when we see that it is a new post.

    Sending you smiles and a hug,

    1. #52.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Well Leslie, I appreciate that because I really want people to GET something out of Me: The Abridged Version. I just love the project so much. I think women can get so much out of this process. 🙂

  43. #54

    One of the reasons you’ve remained one of the scrapbooker i have continued to follow for ….ohhhh….a good number of years is this kind of thing. You keeping it real. Making a living in scrapbooking seems really tough at the moment. Being self employed in general takes some faith and guts. Bring both together as you do, well I’m thinking it’s no cake walk. There are many many self employed people self promoting way more than I have observed you do. I think you do it well in your not crap way. I know I’m getting value when I buy your designs or take a class. I think you do a great job of walking all those fine lines. Great to have mates you can cry with ….have another wine or two and know you’re welcome in my inbox or fb feed any time 🙂 .

  44. #55
    Kimberly Geswein

    As a font designer and fellow woman entrepreneur, I agree 10000000%.

    In fact, I’m wondering if you might let me interview you on my entrepreneur podcast. You are saying things that resonate so deeply with me, that I think my listeners would really benefit from hearing your voice!

    If you’re interested, please let me know! I talk about anything related to entrepreneurship!

  45. #56
    Liz Eaton

    I love your words. I love that you are willing share the raw, the emotion, the suck of being a hard worker. You are good at it & I love reading what you write!
    Thank you!

  46. #57

    Thanks for writing so candidly, Cathy. It is refreshing.

    Oh and now we need a journalling card that says ‘Everyday I’m hustling.’ and maybe one that says ‘Bra optional’.

  47. #58
    Kristy Daum

    A friend of mine today suggested that I read this post, after I was talking to her about my own business and how while I was happy to be self-publishing quilt patterns (because it’s all me, no middle-men), I also felt this need to do it so I could remain “current”. Yes, it is fodder for my blog and it does bring in a little $; but I get paid more doing design work for others. It’s a Catch-22 that I don’t know that I will ever have the answer to.

    After reading this post, I’m glad to see that I am definitely not alone in feeling this. My designs come in spurts, and while it’s thrilling to work like a mad-woman somedays, I also fear that one day I’ll hear crickets.

    It is the reason of course why I still retain my 8-6 “day-job”…I have to pay the bills somehow.

  48. #59

    This is such a good, honest post that I can really relate to.
    There is such a yin/yang component of running your own business that you touched on – the bra optional yet utter panic of being in charge of finding a way to create money out of your talent. Sighs.

  49. #60

    I so needed to read this, thanks for writing it. It’s alarming sometimes to find that I’m measuring my creative worth by how many times I broke down crying at my desk during any given week. And although I’ve heard so many others write/speak about the emotional turmoil of being a self-employed creative for a living, it still feels very lonely in that moment when you’re shame eating a half a box of Nilla wafers over the kitchen sink trying to tell yourself that checking the classifieds probably isn’t the answer, either. I haven’t stumbled upon a “Neurotic Self-Employed Creatives” support group yet, but my kingdom for one to exist. I would be a card carrying member, because I bet there’d be wine. And probably Nilla wafers, if it was my turn to bring snacks.

  50. #61

    I do not have any problem with your self-promotion. At. All. It’s honest, transparent and straight forward. You offer high-quality products at reasonable prices.For what it’s worth I would suggest you also use instagram for promotions as well? I don’t have a facebook page but am a big insta user. I am interested in the conversation skirting around these comments on bliss and craftmanship. For me your point of difference is craftmanship. Yes, you are creative but there is real quality in there. This crap about following your bliss has led to a bunch of serious crap being marketing on blogs and Etsy. You may love making shit but if you have no real skills in the craft then you should just do it because you love it and not try and sell poor-quality rubbish. Hmmm, yep I actually do feel a bit better now 😉 There is a time and season for these things. Personally I work in a soul-sucking job for a huge multi-national. I work eight, 12-hours days then have six days off. I get paid more money than I could ever have dreamt of before starting here, I have a superannuation fund that the company puts loads of money into each month, I get tax-breaks, medical insurance, paid holiday flights twice a year for both me and my husband. Sounds like the dream job? Trust me getting no sense of satisfaction from what you do is not assuaged by the financials. The biggest problem we have here is retaining people for longer than a year! While I know from personal experience worrying about how to pay your bills is no fun at all, been there done that, BUT money itself it not the key to happiness either! I am here until a specific date already set in order to achieve a goal we have set ourselves, which will enable us to live a simple, debt-free life in our modest, paid-for home on a piece of land large enough for us to feed ourselves for the most part. Then we will follow our bliss! It seems to me you have a choice in life – enjoy/love what you do (assuming you have marketable talent and skill) and make less money but actually look forward (for the most part) to working or do as I have and sell off part of your life for financial gain. I would also second the calls to take a break Cathy. I don’t know what the rest of your families schedule is like but would really recommend maybe taking Sunday off from work and electronic media. Call it personal development day! Watch tv, see a movie, go for leisurely walk outside, have a family meal, watch a movie – just chill out and switch off. I guarantee you will actually be more productive come Monday morning.

    1. #61.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Damn, girl… you tell it!

      I always do wonder, what would it be like to make a lot of money. I say that honestly. I’ve had some good years, but many years are making ends meet, too. Don’t get me wrong. I have a house I’ve lived in for 24 years. I have food. I have a car that kind of works right now.

      But I think what if my hubby made a shit load of money? but then again, you can’t take it with you, right?

      Taking some time off. Yes. Need to schedule that. 😉

      1. #61.1.1

        In all honesty we have never felt like we making a shit load of money in that initially we were paying off the debt we arrived here with (credit cards, mortgage, the usual). Once that was done we have been ploughing savings in our retirement – the house and land along with some savings/investments we will try to not spend but use the interest only for as long as possible. We have had some trips and nice things but 95% of the time we live modestly. I always say I don’t want to live a Chanel lifestyle today because I will be back at Target as soon as I leave here! Money certainly gives you choices but that is all. You can’t take it with you and none of us know how long we have here in this world. Family, friends, personal satisfaction with your life/work/community are what really matter in the end. I have never heard of anyone diagnosed with a terminal condition deciding to strive for one more promotion at work, wish they had more money than time or regret they didn’t spend more time at the office! And I strongly suspect of your hubby made a shit load of money you would continue to do what you do? Albeit with less anxiety about what would sell? That, right there, is real career success baby!

  51. #62

    Also, I think the reality is any job will have parts we dislike. Every part of life has bits we would prefer not to do whether it’s promotion as part of self-employment, lack of fulfillment while working for a salary, financial worry while studying, the relentness constancy of housekeeping, heck even crafting for fun – I would way rather just make stuff than clean up afterwards! It’s all ebb and flow, swings and roundabouts. It’s about looking honestly at the options and picking the one that most resonates with you, for now. It may be that with college tution a factor taking on outside freelance work helps balance the books? I don’t want to sound like a spoilted brat complaining about my job (above) because the reality is while it’s messing with me on many levels I am here by choice with a firm exit plan in place.

  52. #63

    Also, I think the reality is any job will have parts we dislike. Every part of life has bits we would prefer not to do whether it’s promotion as part of self-employment, lack of fulfillment while working for a salary, financial worry while studying, the relentness constancy of housekeeping, heck even crafting for fun – I would way rather just make stuff than clean up afterwards! It’s all ebb and flow, swings and roundabouts. It’s about looking honestly at the options and picking the one that most resonates with you, for now. It may be that with college tuition a factor taking on outside freelance work helps balance the books? I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat complaining about my job (above) because the reality is while it’s messing with me on many levels I am here by choice with a firm exit plan in place.

  53. #64

    The reality is…. even outside of the scrapbooking industry it’s a daily hustle to make your dreams work for you. I have a very good friend that I’m pretty sure has never taken a vacation from his job/hobby. He’s an entrepreneur in the tech industry and does all sorts of stuff but I’ve never seen him slow down. With a new baby in the house, he seems that much more desperate to get things done. I applaud you both for being able to do what you can to make your passion work for you and wish I had the time myself to take more of your classes. Have you thought about using services like Patreon to augment your income? I for one would be a glad (albeit small) supporter of such an effort.

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