ElizabethMae
Career Profile Creativity

Career Profile: Holly McCaig and Aimee Rushing

Name: Holly McCaig

Age: 44

Location: Denver, Colorado

Educational Background: Georgia Southern University, Graphic Design

What inspired you to start Just Darlin’ Y’all, Holly Pixels and Holly McCaig Creative?

I’ve been blogging at Holly McCaig Creative for about 3 years now, but have had the website up for years as a creative freelancer. I don’t currently do any creative design work for others. I knew that I could take my passion for teaching and apply it to my business by helping other creative people be more successful in their businesses and blogging.

Holly Pixels was a shoot off of my business so that I could keep my niches separate. My audience went either one of two ways: They enjoyed my hand lettering and crafty work, or they wanted to know more about how to use design in their business and have a better blog. It made sense to split the two. At Holly Pixels I mostly focus on brush lettering and SVG designs for crafters featuring my lettering.



Why are you passionate about stock photography and custom lettering?

I just love pretty things! Lettering to me is a stress reliever. I love to doodle and draw, but I love to letter too. Sometimes I can work hours on a project and trash it. Other times, I’m excited to get my design out there. As for stock photography, I just enjoy seeing gorgeous stock photos that are well lit, and styled professionally. My goal is to give bloggers something they can use to save them time while making their blogs and social media profiles more polished.

With running your own businesses, what does a typical day (or week) look like for you?

It’s funny you ask this right now because my schedule is all over the place. Not by choice. I have some family issues that is having me travel a lot right now. So I am doubling up on my work a lot and then spending time catching up on things when I return. But, usually I start my day by checking email and then I will go on Pinterest to schedule pins and add to my Tailwind Tribes. Then, I look at whatever is on my calendar for the day to tackle. I end my day with checking my email. I deleted Facebook off my mobile devices recently so I find that I don’t really even get on it on my computer much anymore either. The distraction was affecting my production and my mental status!

“Just because you have this amazing idea doesn’t mean it’s always going to work well in the world. I have tried things that have flopped. The key is to find out what your audience wants, and what you can do that’s beneficial to them from your skills. It’s a magic formula that takes work.”

What tools do you implement into your day to help you stay productive and on–track?

Together we are using Asana to manage our Just Darlin’ Y’all schedule. It’s free, and allows us to see what’s happening and when our deadlines for blog posts and library updates are due. We also have been using Buffer, but I have been testing an app called Preview to manage our Instagram posts. So far I like it, but honestly, I wish there was one social media scheduling and management app that could meet all of my needs. We have been mostly focusing on Instagram and Pinterest and with Pinterest we are using Tailwind to schedule and use Tailwind Tribes to build our audience.

I also believe in working in bulk. So, shoot everything at once, spend another bulk time editing images, scheduling at least 15 days worth of social media at once. Bulk working or working in chunks helps me to stay focused.

At Holly McCaig Creative you teach bloggers about good design. Why do you believe good design is important?

I think good design draws the eye. Many times, I’ll see the design before I see the message. And, if something pulls me in I am instantly interested in what the message is about – as humans I think most of us are this way. Why do you think people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and more on commercials and professional advertising? It works!

If you could give bloggers one main takeaway about design, what would it be?

Less is more. Stop going for trendy fonts that are hard to read. Go back to the basics. Keeping is simple and more white space will mean that your design will look good and remain timeless!

Being a business owner is very inspiring! What advice would you give those who might be struggling to find their passion OR take the leap into owning their own business?

Just keep trying new things! If something isn’t working ask yourself if you can tweak things. I am the queen of reinvention. Okay, that’s a self-proclaimed title. But let’s be honest, when we focus on less and really hone in on our niche, we can be more successful. And, stop reading those posts about income and stats. Your business is yours. It should never look like someone else’s. So don’t compare. Find new ways to do things better and stand out in the crowd!

What is your favorite AND least favorite part about being a business owner?

Money and Money. HA! No really. Sometimes the money is nice when it comes in, but it’s not always a guarantee. So it can be stressful. Especially if it’s your only income. Aimee and I can vent to each other and talk about this a lot and reassure each other. I think it’s important to find those connections so you don’t feel so alone.

Is there anything you have learned throughout the process that you were not expecting?

Just because you have this amazing idea doesn’t mean it’s always going to work well in the world. I have tried things that have flopped. The key is to find out what your audience wants, and what you can do that’s beneficial to them from your skills. It’s a magic formula that takes work. Don’t cry about it if it fails. Get your big girl panties on and figure it out and come back stronger! These six figure bloggers that are out there, I call it hard work, but sometimes I think a little luck plays into it. I’ve seen amazing people do amazing things that never see that kind of success. Viral stuff happens that makes me shake my head all of the time.

Do you have a specific project or accomplishment that you consider your most significant in your career?

I believe everything I’ve done has been building blocks for me. No one thing stands out to me. I take the good and the bad and learn from it so I can do the next thing better. But one thing that I can say is that I stopped having the glassy eye/shiny object syndrome. I stopped buying all the things the big bloggers were pushing. I was wasting so much money and have found ways to do them cheaper and just as good. Sure, I’ll read what they have to say, but I don’t buy everything everyone is selling anymore. I’ve saved so much money that way!

“When we focus on less and really hone in on our niche, we can be more successful.”

Do you have any book recommendations?

Don’t laugh but I tend to read mostly celebrity bio type books. I loved Leah Remini’s book. I’m obsessed with her story. But if you’re talking business I loved Girl Boss and enjoyed the Netflix series. It’s a little inspiring to me.

Do you have an app recommendations?

Since I got rid of Facebook on my mobile devices I find myself not really on my phone too much. However, I have been using the Preview App for Instagram and I do enjoy it! I like how I can see how my feed will look. Currently just using it for JDY though. I like using the Sell on Etsy app so I can check my stats for Holly Pixels. And, IMDB is my go to. I’m always trying to find out who that actor is in the show I’m watching.

Favorite way to unwind after a long day at work?

I will take chilling on the sofa with my DVR watching some stupid reality show.

What is your dream vacation?

I think my dream would be somewhere like Bora Bora. The less people the better. I want to unplug, not be bothered and not have to get dressed up or anything like that.

Name: Aimee Rushing

Age: 34

Location: Houma, Louisiana

Educational Background: University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Apparel Design and Merchandising with a concentration in Design

What inspired you to start Just Darlin’ Y’all, Aimee Rushing Photography and Coast + Cane

After 8 great years photographing high school seniors, I felt it was time to be creative in a different way. I already had a love and appreciation for woodworking and furniture so I decided to collaborate with my husband to start a new business called Coast + Cane. We sell furniture locally and sell our wood signs on Etsy.

I continued to keep my photography business open after returning from photographing high school seniors. I transitioned the photography business into a Photography 101 class. I love photography and I enjoy sharing the gift of learning how to take great pictures. I have taught over 300 people in our community how to successfully learn manual mode and learn to improve their picture taking skills.

Why are you passionate about stock photography and custom lettering?

Stock photography is a whole new world for me. I knew what stock photography was, but I wasn’t aware of the niches within that market. Taking a picture of a person is completely different from a product. I had to learn how to style and learn how to light multiple objects. It has been a really fun experience. I always enjoy a good challenge. I like pushing myself to get better and watching my work evolve. I am a huge home decor shopper so doing this sort of photography has given me a great excuse to constantly be in decor stores.

With running your own businesses, what does a typical day (or week) look like for you?

Running a business can be an amazing and stressful experience. I heavily rely on a task manager to alert me daily of all the activities that I need to accomplish. Throughout the week I am researching trends in stock photography on various online platforms. I spend a lot of time in decor stores looking at color trends and how it can all come together in a picture. I also research out blog topics that I think would be beneficial to our readers. Holly and I do a lot of communicating throughout the week to make sure we are on the same page and that we are on top of our tasks. We share ideas and try to keep each other motivated.

Being a business owner is very inspiring! What advice would you give those who might be struggling to find their passion OR take the leap into owning their own business?

You have to take the leap or you will never know! It really helps if you have a good support system to surround you. People that will motivate and keep everything positive. You need to have people in your life that will understand that you are going to be busy and that you may need their help from time to time.

I always suggest to have all of your ducks in a row. Spend the time to do the research. Develop your game plan BEFORE starting your business. You have to have a budget. So many people think that they can start a business and that customers will flock to them. You have to spend money to earn money. It’s scary, but having your game plan prepared before launching will make it less scary. Research all the ways you can stretch your dollar and really research out how social media can assist you.

What is your favorite AND least favorite part about being a business owner?

I have no time!! I work 7 days a week from sun up until sun down. That support system that I just mentioned really helps. You need friends that will understand that you can not drop things on a whim to go have lunch spontaneously. My day to day life is pre-planned around my work. My goal is to grow our business so we can have more time to ourselves. If you have ever read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss that would be our ultimate goal!

“I always suggest to have all of your ducks in a row. Spend the time to do the research. Develop your game plan before starting your business.”

Is there anything you have learned throughout the process that you were not expecting?

Yea…stock photography is hard! It’s definitely not as easy as I thought it would be. You can’t plop a bunch of stuff down and take pictures of it. It has to be very well thought out and planned. Coming from a photography business, I didn’t know the ins and outs of selling online to an international market. I only knew how to sell locally. It’s been a whole new world of learning sales funnels and how important social media is for your business. There are so much marketing and advertising tactics involved that it sometimes makes my head spin.

Do you have a specific project or accomplishment that you consider your most significant in your career?

I am really proud of developing JDY with Holly. Co-owning a business is something that I never thought I would do. I always wanted to, but I never thought it was actually feasible to find someone on the same wavelength. Together, I think we will accomplish great things with JDY. Aside from JDY, I would say my ability to teach is my greatest accomplishment. To have people pay to hear what I have to say is amazing to me. My class is not cheap so it validates that they appreciate my skills as a photographer and that they chose me over other outlets for learning photography. It makes me feel very special each and every time someone books my class.

Do you have any book recommendations?

As mentioned in a previous question, the 4-Hour WorkWeek is a great read. Another top book is How to Win Friends & Influence People. I think that is a book  that everyone recommends if you are trying to be an influencer in business or in your personal life (so funny, Aimee! I worked for Dale Carnegie Training out of college – Holly). The E-Myth is a good real for small businesses. You really can’t go wrong with top selling books that have been around for decades.

Do you have an app recommendations?

I heavily use Pinterest to pin ideas and trends. I use Instagram to keep in touch with my audience and to see what other people in my field are up to.

Favorite way to unwind after a long day at work?

Laying on my sofa with my 2 big fur babies,  a glass of any kind of alcoholic beverage, and Netflix. If I can stuff my face with popcorn too, then I am golden.

What is your dream vacation?

So many places! Currently, I daydream about New Zealand or the Swiss Alps.

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