41 lessons drag has taught me about online business

Welcome back to my first ever birthday series, “41 Things Drag Has Taught Me About Business”

Every year since 2013, i’ve been sharing my wishes, hopes, dreams, and things i’ve learned in a list as long as the age i’m turning.

At 36: 36 Birthday Wishes, Reflections, And Moments of Extreme Gratitude 

At 37: For you – the best freebies, ebooks, wishes to ring in the New Year, from me!

At 38: 38 Birthday Wishes And Extreme Gratitude

At 39: 39 epic lessons on courage, trust, love & life i’ve learned in the 39 years of being alive

At 40: On turning 40 — 40 Lessons i’ve learned from 40 years of living a radically creative (and rebel) life

And this year … this year my annual birthday wishes wanted to be about the things drag has taught me about being a creative-based business because this past year the two have really intertwined. i realized that drag has heavily influenced how i approach business and, well, life.

But when i sat down to start writing, i realized that, unlike all the other years, this birthday list had A LOT it wanted me to say. i got the first two out of 41 down and it was well over 1000 words. And that was just the first TWO!!

i realized there was NO WAY that i could fit all 41 things into one post (i don’t even want to read something that long and i’m writing this shit) so i decided to turn this year’s annual birthday post into my first ever birthday series and spread out all 41 items over four months with a new set of 10 things coming out the 27th of every month!

January 27th: 11 — 20
February 27th: 21 — 30
March 27th: 31 — 40
April 27: 41

So without further ado, here is the second set of 10!

In case you missed Part I, you can check it out here.

 

41 Things Drag Taught Me About Business

 

11. You are the sum of more than just a single performance.

This was a big one for me in both drag and business.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you’re only as good as your last performance,” and while i understand the gist of the lesson this is trying to capture — i.e. keep performing —  i also think it has fucked with our heads as artists and creatives. Or at least i know it has with mine.

Because instead of gleaning from it that we need to continue performing (or doing whatever work we do — writing, coaching, etc.) in order to BE said thing, we’ve twisted it (or at least i have) in a way that places my entire sense of self and value into a single performance — the last one. And when my last performance is good that makes me feel great, but when it’s only so/so or just kinda blah it makes me feel like shit.

What drag (and performance in general) has taught me is that i am my body of work at any given moment rather than just my last performance.

Here’s what i mean. i have not performed drag in about a year. My last performance was amazing. But what if it hadn’t been? What if had been just okay? Would that mean i’m no longer a ‘good’ drag performer? Hell no. Because my 12+ years of my body of work, the videos, the pictures proves otherwise.

In writing: have i published anything this year? No. But that doesn’t mean i’m not a good writer because my clips and portfolio shows the world otherwise.

But where this concept of body of work vs. individual performance really comes into play for me is when i launch a product for my biz and it fails or sells way less than i planned. i have to remember that i am more than just this one launch; this one thing.

We are more than just one bad product launch, one so/so gig, one of anything. We are a collection of all the work, all the products, all the performances we put out. We are a culmination of the whole. Click To Tweet

That is always my goal.

 

12. “Drag is a movement” and we have to move together.”

This is by far one of my favorite quotes on drag — and on life — said by one of my favorite drag kings and humans, Ivory Onyx. i would try to explain to you what it means but he does so eloquently in Episode 7 of The Drag Show Podcast that i’ll let him tell you. Listen to him talk about what this quote really means below (it starts at around the 38:00 mark) and then come back and continue reading. i’ll wait . . . 😉

This is so true in ANY area of our life, but the way it has tied into my business life is the manifestation of this heavily used quote in the online biz world, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” But just because it’s overused doesn’t make any less true.

When we help others rise we cannot help but rise ourselves and uplift our community up too.

And i’m in the business of rising tides not deflating them.

 

13. Drag it up!

Meaning: amplify whatever it is you are doing and/or wearing. Drag is all about excess and extremes. Anything can be drag and drag is everything but only if you make it so.

One of my favorite things to do when i’m creating drag costumes is to take outfits i find in thrift stores and completely transform them. One of my favorite costumes was once a skirt i cut up, added some string lights to, and turned it into a cape. i wear this costume whenever i’m performing Chandler or Cosmic Love. i love it.

 

 

But it all started with a plain skirt that i dragged out!

i have learned to use that “seeing beyond what it is” eye in business. Some call this future casting. i call it dragging up my products, services, and posts. It means that i look at what i’m offering or the class i’m giving and i see beyond the surface into what it could be and then set about making it so.

Take this 41-year celebration birthday series. i could have easily made this 41 lesson i learned in 3 years of owning and running my own business but i looked just beyond that horizon and dragged it up by adding the element of drag to it. Because drag really has influenced the way i see and run my business.

But i also biz up my drag by creating books about the art and teaching classes.

The goal is to always try to see beyond the original thing and into the space where everything that YOU are and YOU do intersects.

Maybe for you, it’s burlesque. Maybe it’s activism. Maybe it’s theater. Whatever it is find your equivalent of dragging it up and infuse your work with all of you.

 

14. Never settle for just a single pair of eyelashes.

YAAS QUEEN! A queen’s lashes can make or break their face. And i’ve always been a big proprietor of the bigger the lashes the closer to god. In order to create the best lashes for myself, i stack about 4 different pairs (301s, 109s and few more whose numbers i can’t remember) on top and then cut and shape them to fit my (drag) eye shape.

Like i say in my book, How to Be a Drag Queen, “nothing store bought ever fits us.” We have to make everything our own. 

i’ve learned the same is true for business.

No single guru’s advice fits me. i have to take what i learn and shape it to fit me, who i am, and my business. i have to stack what i’ve learned and am learning onto what i already know.

If in drag we should never settle for just a single pair of eyelashes, then in creative entrepreneurship we should never settle on a single way sharing our message, selling our products and services, or doing business.

Period!

 

15. You are your own spotlight.

 

Brandi Amara Skyy Drag artist intersectional coach

 

Meaning, as a performer, the light will follow you. If you’re onstage or off, you don’t have to chase the light. It will find you.

In the first two years of writing and online biz, i found myself chasing the light, i.e. money. i was creating things for and to make money. <– But that’s not nor has it ever been me. And because i was making things specifically to make money, money never really came.

It was a constant struggle.

And then i started creating things that not only lit me up but lit up my people as well. Classes that helped them solve real problems (the same problems i had when i first starting out), books that were accessible and gave them advice and resources NOW.

i started created things from my own center, my own light.

And you know what? Money found me in the same way when i catch a whim and want to hurl myself off stage and be in the energetic sphere of my audience the spotlight finds me.

Follow your flow. TAKE ACTION.  And whatever lights you up, whatever you need — money, resources, time — will find you.

Just be open to it showing up in ways that you would least expect.

 

16. You have to speak your truth out loud & in front of people before it will ever become real.

i know there’s a school of thought that says that you shouldn’t tell people what you’re up to, that it somehow diffuses the magic. i get that. But i don’t buy it. Especially when you’re first starting out, when you are first starting to claim something it’s important to speak it out loud and in front of other people who will not only support you but also cheer you on when things get tough and hold you accountable when you want to quit.

i had spent over 10+ years in the drag industry as a choreographer, pageant judge, and backup dancer long before i ever stepped foot on the stage.

i never even spoke my desire out loud to anyone for the 1st five years i was on stage doing drag even though i WAS doing drag. 

So when the time came for the nonprofit i worked for to chose who would represent them at Miss Lifewalk, a charity pageant, i asked everyone i knew who was a drag queen to do it. They all said no.

And i finally said i’ll do it. And i did.

 

 

But i lost so many years of potential bookings by not speaking my truth out loud — especially to the people that i was already performing with.

When people ask how long i’ve been doing drag, i sometimes give them the year i claimed it (2010) sometimes i give them year i started doing it but didn’t have the courage to call what i did drag (2006). But if i’m being really honest, it’s been since 1993 because i wanted to be drag queen since i saw my first one at 16.

That’s a lot of years i could have been doing the work if only i could have admitted it to myself and my community.

The point. If you want to be a drag queen, be a drag queen. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. If you want to be the next David Blaine, be a better more you David Blaine.

Just speak that shit out loud and into existence.

Make it real NOW.

 

17.  A good mug is worth baking for.

i remember i used to get so frustrated that my drag mom could paint a mean mug in under 30min.

i, on the other hand, require time, music, and more time. That’s because, for me, painting my mug is the transformation process. The sculpting of my face, the cut creases, the rhinestones in my inner eye, the layering and blending of the palate of colors swiping my eyelid — these are all movements and timing that create my drag persona and with each i go deeper and deeper into the Skyy in me.

The same is true whenever i’m trying to “bake” something in my business — a project, an offering, a blog post. It doesn’t always come out as quick as i want it to — or as fast as others.

That’s okay. We all have our own baking and mug time.

The goal is to figure out our own mug/creation flow. And then keep honing our process.

However long it takes to beat your mug, write your blog post, create a video, or teach a class is all up to you. Only you know what needs to transpire in that amount of time to make it yours. To make it you.

Fuck what anyone else says and just do you.

(Psst. If you want to see how AWFUL i REALLY am at trying to beat a fast mug, check out my YouTube video of The Kiki Queens 5 Minute Makeup Challenge below. Yea, i totally BOMBED IT! LOL)

 

 

18. Drag is everything and anything can be drag.

i hate when people from within our community try to police drag’s borders by saying, “Real drag is … {fill in the blank}.”

Drag is and has always been about queer expression and NOT gender which means that what drag is or isn’t is left up to the person doing the dragging — NOT the one watching it. 

Now, do we all have our own preferences of drag expression? Absolutely! i love a classic drag silhouette just as much i love someone like May May Graves who pushes ALL the drag envelopes. 

Do i have an opinion about some of the newer forms of drag? Absolutely. But they are just that opinions. And i would never tell someone that what they are doing is not drag based on my own personal preferences and opinions.

That’s not the way art works.

It’s not the way business works either.

You are a business the moment YOU the CEO, biz owner, solopreneur CLAIM IT. It is nobody’s right but your own to tell you what a “real” business is. 

It’s taking me a long time to get this one in my bones and it’s something i still struggle with daily.

If we show up to the page, or the stage, or whatever medium our business/art takes, then we are doing said thing regardless if doesn’t meet someone else’s standards.

Business is and can be everything — and anything can be a business.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the “As seen on TV” section in Target. ‘Nuff said.

 

19. Being nervous is a good thing.

i’ve always said the moment i stopped getting nervous before i went onstage was the moment that i was going to stop doing drag and stop performing. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet, but i’m always aware. Always paying attention for the moment it does (if it ever comes).

The same is true for business. If i’m not scared shitless or nervous to push send to share my latest product or services with the masses, then i’m not pushing past my fear. i’m not playing as big as i should. i’m not doing the work that will propel me forward.

Because being nervous is a sign that we are stepping outside our comfort zone.

Your goal should always be to feel a little nervous before you step foot on the stage — whether that stage is online, in a theater, or on the phone. Nerves will always show up when we’re about to step into our greatness.

 

20. You don’t need anyone’s permission to be who YOU know you are.

Again. And again. And again. And again. i cannot say this enough. i waited YEARS, no DECADES, to claim my dragdom because i believed all those people who said “real” girls couldn’t do drag.

i wasted so much time.

And i almost did the same thing in my business. i almost let the you-have-to-work-for-the-man-to-make-real-money belief slip into my head and keep me from making the leap to being my own boss.

If you take nothing else from this of 41 things, take this: YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE’S PERMISSION TO BE WHO YOU KNOW YOU ARE.

The only permission you need is from yourself. And only you can give that to you.

Give it. You and your dreams are worth it.

Be the queen you already are 😉

                                                                                           *

Until next month beautiful friends!

SO MUCH LOVE, LIGHT, DRAG AND SLAYAGE YOUR WAY DEAR FRIENDS!

xo-b

 

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