As a creative professional, you’re taking the alternative path to succcess, and encountering plenty of challenges along the way:
- First and foremost, you want to create work you can be proud of
- You need to overcome the obstacles – internal and external – to getting your best work done
- You need resilience to deal with criticism, rejection and other setbacks
- You want to attract an audience for your work, customers for your business, and/or opportunities for your career
From a poet, writer and creative entrepreneur –
coaching designed for your very particular needs
as a creative professional.
I’m Mark McGuinness and I’ve been coaching creative people like you since 1996. Over the years I’ve helped hundreds of artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and other creative mavericks to become more creative, productive and successful.
As a writer and poet myself, I know how hard creative work is, and how little help the standard advice on creativity can be to a professional.
Over the years I’ve probably seen and heard it all, in terms of procrastination, disorganisation, frustration and creative blocks. And I’ve helped hundreds of creatives find a way back into the creative zone.
Since 2006 I’ve built not one but two successful blogs, first at WishfulThinking.co.uk and then here at LateralAction.com, attracting thousands of readers every week – and used them to sell coaching, training, live events, ebooks and e-learning courses, to private and corporate clients.
In the process I’ve worked with some of the biggest names in online marketing, and learned first-hand what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to using the web to attract an audience and build a business. I’m now sharing what I’ve learned with clients, to help them attract their ideal fans, collaborators, customers and clients.
If you’re struggling with doing your creative work, attracting an audience or finding customers for your creative business, I can help.
Based in London, UK, I work with clients all over the world via the magic of the internet.
Wherever you live, if you have a laptop and an internet connection, we can work together. All we need to to is co-ordinate time zones and schedule an hour to talk via Skype. Then I can help you tackle your biggest creative challenges.
The things I help clients with fall into three main categories:
- Create More – get your important creative work done in spite of the demands and distractions of 21st-century life
- Suffer Less – deal with creative blocks and difficult people
- Attract More – use the internet to attract fans, customers and/or career opportunities
Redesign your working habits to put your creative work first,
and fit everything else around it.
Sometimes it feels as though the modern world has been specially designed to stop you finding the time and mental space for focused creative work – email, phone calls, meetings, Twitter, Facebook… a thousand and one interruptions, demands and distractions.
Even when you manage to carve out time for your real work, it’s not easy to get straight into the creative zone.
You may find it hard to stop thinking about other commitments, or worrying that you’ve forgotten something important. Or you may find yourself procrastinating over a big creative challenge, and frittering your precious time away on admin or the internet.
I can help you cut through the demands and distractions, and make creative work your number one priority.
I’ll show you how to redesign your working habits around your individual creative process, so that you always get your most important creative work done. I’ll also help you set up robust systems to handle all your other commitments (and email!) without them taking up too much of your headspace.
Common goals I help clients achieve:
- Work out how you work best
- Design your day around your creative process
- Ring-fence time for creativity
- Blitz procrastination
- Establish creative work habits
- Get into a creative frame of mind whenever you want
- Deal with interruptions and distractions
- Tame your inbox
- Exterminate a backlog
- Process the small stuff – quickly!
Stop suffering for your art (or suffering fools gladly)
and start getting on with your real priorities.
The Tortured Artist may look Romantic from a distance, but up close it’s no fun.
Creative work is hard enough without adding unnecessary suffering into the mix – e.g. when you’re suffering from a creative block, or when your Inner Critic gives you a hard time.
And it’s tough handling rejection and criticism by others – which is an occupational hazard when you follow a creative career path. The same goes for dealing with difficult people, who suck your energy and distract you from your real work.
I can help you cut out the unnecessary suffering in your working life – whether it’s generated by you or other people – and reclaim your time and energy for your own priorities.
Some of the most common goals I work on with clients:
- Break through a creative block
- Get your Inner Critic off your back
- Deal with criticism from others
- Bounce back after rejection
- Avoid creative burnout
- Handle the pressure of running your own business
- Deal with difficult people in your working life
Use your creativity to attract an audience for your work, clients for your creative business, and opportunities for your career.
Like most creators, you probably dream of having legions of fans, the acclaim of critics, and money and the other perks of fame.
But you’d rather spend your time creating than selling, and you definitely don’t want to do anything pushy or tacky in the pursuit of your dreams.
Maybe you’re attracted to the idea of promoting your work via the internet, but when you think about blogging, social networking, search engine optimisation, copywriting and email marketing, it all seems so complicated and time-consuming, you don’t know where to start.
Perhaps you’ve tried one or more of these approaches but the results have been disappointing so far.
I can help you take a creative, effective and enjoyable approach to finding fans for your work and customers for your business.
One of the biggest current trends in online marketing is content marketing. In a nutshell, it means using media content – blog posts, ebooks, videos, podcasts, photos, artwork and illustrations – to attract a relevant audience and establish you expertise. So that you’re the first person they think of when they’re ready to buy what you’re selling.
As a professional creative with plenty of experience of creating original and captivating media, you have an unfair advantage at content marketing. All you need is to understand what kind of content will attract the right people, and what are the most effective formats to deliver it in – and I can help you with that part.
Whether you’re an artist (of any kind) in search of an audience, a creative freelancer or entrepreneur looking for customers, or an employee looking for amazing career opportunities, I’ll show you how to use the internet and your creativity to attract the people who can make your dreams come true.
Typical marketing goals I work on with clients:
- Decide who you’re trying to reach
- Build a website without breaking the bank
- Set your site up to sell
- Choose the right media for your purposes – blogging, email marketing, podcasting, video, or image sharing
- Create content that attracts the right people
- Grow your audience
- Use social networks effectively
- Sell without selling out
- Communicate your offer and close the sale
- Make marketing a habit – that doesn’t interfere with your creative work
This is an 8,000 word summary of the approach to internet marketing I’ve used to build my own business. You will get much more out of the coaching if you read through this – it means I’ll spend less time explaining the concepts and more time helping you apply them to your own business.
How I’ll help you reach your goals.
Working with you one-to-one, I will help you clarify your goals, make decisions you’re happy with and do what it takes to make your dreams a reality.
Here’s what the process looks like:
- A one-hour conversation on Skype, to clarify your goal(s), and decide on the first step(s) to achieving them
- You then go away and take action, reporting on progress via email
- I’ll typically send you articles and other resources to increase your knowledge and help you take action
- Another one-hour conversation on Skype, to review your progress, reflect on what you’ve learned, and decide what you need to do to reach the next stage
- Again, we’ll use email to keep each other in the loop about progress
- I’ll keep sending you links to useful resources (especially if you like reading!)
The bottom line: coaching is about you making changes and taking practical action to reach your goals. At the end of the day there’s no point us talking unless you are going to do something different and more effective as a result of our conversation.
But I’m not a drill-sergeant coach who gives you a hard time. The most effective coaching sessions are usually the ones where we laugh the most. So be prepared to have fun along the way.
My kind of coaching
Over the past 15 years I’ve used many different approaches with clients, including solution-focused coaching; hypnotherapy and other forms of psychotherapy; neuro-linguistic programming (NLP); reverse therapy; and the Enneagram. I’ve also studied creative business at Master’s level, covering organisational structure, strategy, marketing, entrepreneurship, theories of creativity, intellectual property law and the creative economy.
So I have a rich store of knowledge and experience to draw on — but I’m not interested in taking you through any kind of standardised process.
What you get when you work with me is a conversation in which I’m 100% focused on you – your dreams, your plans, and the little fears and hesitations that can hold you back. It’s my job to adapt to your unique personality and talents.
So I don’t have an agenda for coaching sessions, beyond curiosity about the answers to three basic questions:
“Where do you want to get to?”
“What do you need to do to get there?”
As we work together, I’ll be striking a balance between drawing out your creativity and enthusiasm, and putting in feedback and ideas from my own experience.
In this role I spend most of my time looking and listening, understanding the big picture and searching for the little clues that will help you unlock your big ideas. I also ask plenty of questions, to clarify understanding and to prompt you to think creatively about your own situation.
I’ll also be giving feedback on what I observe, about your situation and the way you are approaching it. I’m not here to sit in judgment, so I don’t tell you whether you’re doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Instead I give you specific feedback and ask questions to raise your awareness of your own patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour. Once you start to see things clearly, you can usually spot the best way forward for yourself.
The ‘drawing out’ style of coaching is perfect for the many areas of your life and work where you know more about the topic under discussion than I do. With experienced clients, I spend most of my time in drawing out mode, acting as a sounding board for their thinking.
There are also some areas where I have specialist knowledge that may be new to you, such as internet marketing, productivity systems or stress management techniques. In these cases, I’m happy to share my knowledge and ideas, and to offer more direct guidance on what to do next.
When I’m in ‘putting in’ mode, my aim is to educate you as quickly as possible, so that you can start to apply your own creativity to the challenge at hand. To save us taking up too much coaching time with explanations, I’ll typically give you reading assignments to do between sessions, so that you’re up to speed on the basics before we start work.
Once you’ve got the knowledge and understanding you need, I can return to drawing out your own ideas. And even when I’m offering a suggestion, my ideal outcome is that you will take my ideas and make them your own.
“How many sessions does it take?”
Most of my clients fall into two categories:
- Occasional consultations: 1-2 sessions to make a decision, prepare for an important event (e.g. an audition or pitch) or work on a very specific issue
- Focused work over several weeks: in a block of 4 sessions, to tackle a bigger challenge
You are welcome to book individual sessions as and when you need them. If you’re pretty sure you’re in the second category you can save by booking a package of four sessions, which gives you a reduced hourly rate.
I don’t have an open-ended monthly contract, as I like to keep things focused. Of course you’re welcome to do more than four sessions, but I find that structuring the coaching in this way keeps us focused on achieving tangible results within the allotted time. The next chunk of four sessions is typically devoted to a new goal, building on your initial success.
Even if you’re working on an Gigantic Career Challenge, the best way to do this is to break it down into manageable chunks, and focus on dealing with one chunk at a time. So that’s what we’ll do.
“What does it cost?”
You can book either a single session or save on the hourly rate with a 4-session package.
- Single session = $170
- Package of 4 sessions (save $100) = $580
Have a question? Or ready to get started?
Click to go to my coaching contact page, where you can make a booking or ask me any questions about working with me.
Mark McGuinness – Creative Business Coach
I’m a poet who earns my living as a creative business coach, working with artists, creatives and entrepreneurs – and mavericks in various other fields.
I’ve been coaching creative professionals since 1996 and delivering coaching and training for organisations since 2000. Organisations I have consulted for include the BBC, Channel 4, Transport for London, Arts & Business, Vodafone, BT, the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising, and many creative agencies and studios.
My poems have been published in various magazines in the UK. I spent eight years on the editorial board of the acclaimed magazine Magma Poetry, editing Magma 34 and taking responsibility for the magazine’s new media strategy.
I originally trained as a psychotherapist and I’m registered with The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). I have an MA (with distinction) in Creative & Media Enterprises, from the University of Warwick in the UK.
Ultimately, I’m doing this because I’m a creative practitioner like you who has struggled with all the issues I’ve just described, and found effective solutions to them. It would be a pleasure to share them with you and help you on your own creative journey.
“Mark was able to give me specific, targeted advice around how to restructure on a technical level, but he also challenged me on my workflow and assumptions. I definitely needed to invest in coaching help, and Mark’s expertise and gentle, but firm, manner were exactly what I needed.”
Joanna Penn, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur TheCreativePenn.com
“In the past, I’ve been disappointed with highly priced coaches who haven’t taken the time to get to know me or my business. (One coach, on both sessions was typing and catching up with their own work during our conversations!) I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case with Mark, and it wasn’t.
“Mark was very aware of my business, and had researched what I did, what my site looked like, he even noticed things on my website that I had forgotten about. It was very useful getting that fresh perspective from someone who notices the details and understands a creative business.
“I was about to launch my first proper eBook and Mark really helped me through the process, in particular with the anxiety that comes from a launch. Above all else, he made me realise it was okay to pace myself and celebrate each step, rather than pile on the pressure and feel consistently inadequate by comparing my efforts with what I ‘should’ be doing.
“Mark’s coaching style is very calm, methodical and focused which matched what I needed. He’s got a good sense of humour and I felt I could be very honest about my fears and opinions and have him understand where I was coming from without judging me.”
Amy Harrison, Copywriter, HarrisonAmy Copywriting
“If you want a gentle voice that can give you encouragement when you need hand-holding, as well as practical business advice, Mark is the coach for you. He is a lovely combination of creativity and business strategy.
“He helped me with my productivity when I thought my problem was that I didn’t know what to do. I did know, I was just too overwhelmed to see past my fears. He helped me structure my ideas into an actionable plan while sharing techniques to work with my natural creativity + productivity rhythms.
“Instead of fighting my creative + contradictory personalities, I learnt to work in partnership with the moodiness of my muse that also suited the practical left-brain context my business needed.
“(The investment in a coach also helped my mindset that this being-a-professional-fine-artist-life I wanted IS a business and businesses invest in themselves.)
“If you’re like me, you need a coach to hold your hand through your fears while still helping you with the big picture strategies. I highly recommend a series of sessions so you will get the best of Mark. He seems to genuinely be invested in his clients, always ensuring you have an action plan that suits your goals + abilities while holding you accountable to those actions. Us creatives need both the gentle nudge in confidence + a firm kick into action sometimes!
“Together we put a myriad of plans into a structure that suited my goals & stretched my perspective of what I thought was possible to achieve. I was able to develop a marketing strategy that made sense to me. I wasn’t left hanging with ideas & suggestions from Mark, we always outlined a plan to make them happen. This means I feel confident in what I’m doing, I’m less distracted by shiny new ideas & know which to focus on that suits my goals. Even if something doesn’t quite work out I have techniques and ideas on how to deal with that also.
“The structure of my action plan + confidence I gained from Mark’s coaching gave me the courage to pursue my creative (some may say ‘crazy’) idea to develop my own kickstarter program over winter 2011 (June-August).
“This resulted in raising over $3,000 and I’m having my first solo exhibition next month. I have my first body of work, a group of collectors and the encouragement to keep going in my new career as a fine artist — despite the scary and lack of security.”
Brenda Mangalore, Artist, Sashé Studio
“He provided me with tailored solutions for time management, how not to freak out about things, how to routinize my work so that I am creating new artwork consistently while also taking care of the business side. Two sessions were focused on branding and identity helping me to better speak about my art and present it.”
Rachel Marsden, Contemporary Photography, Rachel-Marsden.com
“I was in dire need of some good advice and not the kind recruiters, friends, or co-workers can give you. Nobody tells you what your next steps should be in life. I mean, who isn’t slightly confused? Since I found Mark’s Creative Pathfinder course enlightening I decided to reach out to Mark for some personal one-on-one coaching.
“We connected on Skype over four sessions. During that time Mark honestly listened to my situation and helped me see past the clutter in my head. Together we made a plan to attack and re-focus my energy on steps that could really make a difference in my life. His inspiration has been truly valuable to me and the further I travel down the path we established the more valuable it seems.
“Our sessions have long been over, but I feel like I could always contact Mark at any point. I feel like I got more than just four sessions… I feel like we’re friends.
“Would I do it again? Yes.”
Bradley Derry, Industrial Designer and Creative Team Leader, BradleyDerry.com
“I knew I needed to do something to fix my working life: No matter what changes I tried to make, I was not getting enough sleep, client projects always seemed to be due at the same time, and I never knew whether I was making the right decision when I spent an hour networking instead of working on a client project. I was always tired and had more mental angst than I wanted.
“Most of my friends and former colleagues, who had ‘normal’ jobs, didn’t really seem to understand my decision to strike out on my own, and the traditional kinds of advice didn’t seem to apply to my situation.
“I had the sneaking suspicion that Mark could help me, yet I couldn’t help thinking that the Resolutionizer cost a bit more than I wanted to pay. I had never tried coaching before – and certainly had never considered working with a coach entirely online – and wondered if I might be spending my money foolishly.
“Somewhere in my head there was a voice that said, “You can save your money and solve your problems yourself if you just make a plan and stick with it for another six months.” However, there was a part of me that was tired of going through all of the trial and error on my own.
“I am so glad to report that I ignored that voice in my head, as the Resolutionizer was worth every penny, and more.
“Mark’s expertise was apparent from the very first call. He very quickly helped me to identify my most productive working patterns and to design not just a working life, but an entire lifestyle, that is based on working independently and works with my natural strengths.
“I have developed a more positive and relaxed outlook on life and am impressed that the program worked so quickly. I clearly got more than I expected: I initially signed up just to get some help with my New Year’s Resolution to get more sleep, but found myself addressing productivity and motivation and client management issues all at the same time!
“As someone who has always strayed a bit off the beaten path, I appreciated Mark’s ability to bring out my best qualities and help me capitalize on what makes me unique instead of suggesting that I try to fit into a box somewhere. Perhaps most importantly, I understood why I was never able to make that 6-month plan in the first place, let alone stick to it!
“The peace of mind I have gained through Mark’s coaching is invaluable. He is insightful, truly committed to providing outstanding service, and excels at making his clients feel comfortable. In fact, my experience was so good that I have signed on for the Money for Creative People program.
“Mark understands creatives and entrepreneurs in a way that most people don’t, and I highly recommend his services for anyone who feels that they don’t fit into the traditional mold. The world would be a better place if everyone had Mark’s gift for relating to people and helping them to create the lives they want to lead.”
“I approached Mark because I had been to a seminar he gave on Time Management for Creative People and was impressed by his honesty and passion, and his mix of creativity and, for want of a better word, business.
“I was a little resistant to the very idea of coaching (taking, perhaps, that very English, ‘it’s a bit American/self indulgent/I should just stop whinging and get on with it’ attitude…) but I found working with Mark extraordinarily helpful. Because he took my work and the problems I was facing seriously, so did I.
“Carving time out of my week to really examine what I was doing, and how, and why, helped me to step back and take a more objective view of things, which in turn helped me to think about what I wanted to change.
“I found Mark professional, interested, and prepared to challenge my thinking and my habits.
“I wouldn’t say my life is perfect as a result (!) but I have managed to put strategies in place to defend my own creative time, and have developed more of an ability to take a step back when things are getting hectic, and check I am going in the right direction.”
Sarah Butler, Writer and Creative Project Manager, Urban Words
“I had heard of business (and life) coaches before and had met a few, who in my mind I wouldn’t have consulted over what filling of sandwich I should have, let alone ask them for advice with problems I was having around making decisions about my business or career. Many people who pass themselves off as coaches are quite flaky.
“What Mark had going in his favour was I had great respect for the people who recommended him. He came with an ‘non-flaky’ reputation immediately. For some reason I got the feeling that he had made an effort to put himself out there and become known to people in a real way, rather than set up a website advertising his services.
“I got more clarity about who it is I am, and that who I am is OK. Instead of chastising myself for being ‘all over the place’ I began to realize that actually I was just very talented in lots of areas and sometimes that can be a little overwhelming for me to cope with.
“Instead of thinking I had to do it all, I was able to see what it was I liked doing the most. I realized that if I were to be successful at any one of them I would have to sacrifice some of the others and attached to that loss would be some pain. I got to see more clearly what the choices were.
“I came away more informed as to my processes, what it was I really really liked, as opposed to what I thought I should like. I left feeling like I wasn’t such a bad person after all for not having my whole life planned down the last minute.
“I also think that just having someone listen is powerful. Of course I have friends I can talk to but in those interactions I am mindful of my role in the relationship of having to offer up something to them. When I saw Mark I owed him nothing apart from paying his bill, the dynamics are different if you are being heard by someone who role is it to listen and guide and then charge you for that service. You don’t leave thinking “Was I being a selfish, self-centered person for talking only about me for the last hour?”.
“The fact that Mark was qualified in some psychotherapeutic discipline made me personally feel better. I understand that we are driven by a lot of unconscious material and that if I were to engage with Mark he would reveal those processes to me, and quite frankly I would have resented someone had read a few books on NLP pointing them out to me.
“He observed the usual boundaries – he was on time, he apologized if he got things wrong, he was smartly dressed but not intimidating in his style. My general sense was that he was very kind and that he actually cared. He had a good understanding of how tricky it can be to promote yourself in a world that doesn’t always accommodate or understand people who cover such a broad spectrum, as I do.
“I loved the fact he recommended books and websites for me to look at. I think with most things you face in life, its the feeling of isolation that makes it all the worse. By pointing me in the direction of others who shared the same experience as me and had faced the same ‘problems’ I was facing, not only was the isolation broken but the shame attached to being the ‘only one’ left me too.
“I felt like I had gone to see Mark with a tangled ball of wool (that was my working life and/or attitude towards it), over the sessions we untangled the wool.”
Debbie Davies, Creative Entrepreneur
Joshua Wolf Shenk, Writer, Shenk.net
“I didnt have any doubts that someone in the know could and would be able to help me but I had a few doubts in terms of what can be done and hadn’t realised how huge social networking had become.
“Mark was a perfect guide through the how’s and the reality is that connecting with Mark has put a completely new and interesting spin on me and my online profile as an artist. It has enabled me to take full control of it, which is fantastic.
“Mark has given me a platform to work from, we achieved everything and more than I thought possible.
“Mark is extremely patient, he is knowledgeable and he understands that most people are not web savvy. I think his coaching style is both friendly and professional.”
Matt Adey, Singer/Songwriter
“I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took that initial step. I went in for help with my work but when all was said and done, I got a new direction and insight to my life.
“Looking back, my job was driving everything. Mark quickly got to the root of the troubles and challenges that I faced. Mark was outstanding at guiding me to look at all the facets of the issues. He helped me bring out all the questions and then helped me down the path to discovering the answers.
“Mark has an approach that gives you a comfort zone to work through the process. The bottom line effect was a whole new way of facing difficult situations whether it was with my job or something else.
“It’s been 10 years since I first saw Mark and I have returned for coaching from time to time. Looking back, I would sum up the experience as going from feeling confined in a straitjacket (my old job) to freedom (my new business).
“If you’re looking for assistance, I can’t recommend Mark enough.”
Rosanne Bachman, Managing Director, Pinwheel Consulting
If you know you want some help but you’re not sure if I’m the right coach, or whether your goal is the kind of thing I work on with clients – it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Click the button to send me your question and I’ll get back to you as a priority – in complete confidence, with no obligation to book.