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I have a degree in classical piano. People assume I should be playing piano for a living.

So how did I end up in marketing and communications?

Sounds pretty boring, when I could be pretending to be Beethoven 12 hours a day, right? The thing is, I’m not Beethoven. The dog or the composer, either one.

My story is one of learning, growing, and doing the next {not always right} thing.

At 14, I stood in front of 15 pairs of hungry brown eyes, tasked with telling Bible stories. These kids didn’t know the Christmas story, Easter story, or even David and Goliath. Often they hadn’t eaten for hours or days, their real life stories were difficult and painful. Throughout my teenage years, I learned how to use story-telling to get inside their world. I told them stories of bullies, defeated by simple shepherds. I told them of love that knew no bounds. Of sacrifice, hope, and peace even during terrible storms.

I’d like to tell you I made a lasting difference in their lives, but the truth is, I don’t know. I moved away from that Native American reservation at 18, and much of my adult life has played out in another corner of the continent. But hidden in my heart, safe in a triple-locked box, were dozens of wistful eyes hanging on every word I said.

Photo by Rick Forgo on Unsplash

Introducing: The wacky world of marketing.

Then a little over 13 years ago, I fell into the world of marketing via the rabbit hole. And much like Alice in Wonderland, I found myself perplexed and bewildered by the strangeness of it all. It was my sophomore year of college, I was broke and I needed a summer job. A direct marketing company selling knives seemed to offer the money I needed. Welcome to the world of slimy sales tactics, cold calls, and enthusiastic rallies. I sold $10,000 worth of knives that summer. My gross pay – for an entire summer of uncomfortable pushiness – was right around $1,200. The math and logic centers in my brain work pretty well, when they finally kick in. I walked away from direct marketing after that summer and didn’t look back.

After graduation, I made a living teaching piano for several years. Newsflash: Most piano teachers, myself included, are de facto small business owners. Things to sort out: Studio name, policies, invoicing, communication, and…marketing. I had no idea what I was doing. I spent hours muddling a website. Learned basic bookkeeping. Made flyers, planned events, thought up promotions. I didn’t know what I was doing business-wise, but I did teach a lot of Beethoven. I also learned that relationships are the foundation of any business.

I started dabbling in web design, blogging, and graphic design. I  took several classes, figured out a lot of basics. None of it was very pretty. I was cobbling ideas together, trying to make sense of terms like SEO and HTML. I realized I’d never have a career building websites, but I did enjoy writing and making graphics.

Where the rubber meets the road.

My husband opened a small engine repair shop and business got real. Rent, bills, overhead, employees to pay. A steady stream of customers bring in a stead(ier) stream of cash, so I got busy trying to make use of what I knew. Social media, business cards, networking, more website stuff, print ads. I learned marketing has a trillion moving parts and a lot of variables. I took lots more classes and did truckloads of research. How to write a business plan, Marketing 101, Networking for Dummies, Quickbook Basics.

I was getting restless. The repair shop was going well, and I had learned a lot about starting a business. So I started my own professional organizing business on the side. It went ok, and I build new and profitable relationships with other organizers. I joined a nonprofit – the National Association of Professional Organizers.  I even landed some dream clients and the beginnings of a solid referral network.

Things I learned:

•how to effectively organize paper

•how to organize a closet full of anything

•how to pack and move 2,000 (or more) square feet quickly and easily

I began to realize online marketing should be an extension of real life. And I learned the power of community over competition.

Photo by christian koch on Unsplash

Wonderland returns.

2 years later, the kaleidoscope tilted, and the Mad Hatter showed up again. The idea had been growing on us for some time that we wanted to raise our kids in a small town, with a simpler way of life. Finally acting, we moved 1,200 miles across the continent, away from our South Florida beach life. And we settled our little family in a small town with brick streets and more churches than stores. Back in the heartland my husband and I both grew up in.

And for most of a year, I fought the kaleidoscope and argued with the Mad Hatter, trying to find my own identity in this new reality. I read piles of books, watched dozens of webinars, took an over-abundance of courses.

Things I learned:

•How to Make a Million Bucks on Instagram Instantly

•Creative and Dramatic Uses of Unheard of Skills

•Make Money Sending Emails

•Social Media in the Clouds,

•SEO for Authors and Astronomers

Ok, not actual course names. But I studied, I learned stuff, I earned certificates. I had no idea what to do with all the details and stuff in my head that would make sense for me.

Write. Bleed. Write more.

Frustrated, lost, and dealing with an ugly amount of depression, I went to the one place I should have gone first. I walked straight into the arms of a mighty Father, and begged for clarity.

He gave me only three words: Write. Bleed. Write. Remember that triple-locked box in my heart? I didn’t want to open it, because Pandora. But it held the key to my identity as a person, as a Christian, as an entrepreneur. Writing, telling stories, communicating effectively.

Those little shops on main street are not just pretty or quaint little shops to me. They are me.

The butcher, mechanic, baker, candlestick maker, real estate agent, and bookkeeper. I’ve been in their shoes. They are hardworking, practical people. They have families to care for, bills to pay, and employees to train. They need effective ways to market that put actual dollar bills in their pockets.

The things I do best are things that help others. Like using simple visuals and well-chosen words to tell stories that connect and build community. I teach and use genuine, honest, and simple methods that actually work.

That’s my story. My why.

Now I want to know: Is it hard for you to tell your story? What’s holding you back?

Lynn Hughes

Lynn Hughes


Hi, my name is Lynn. I am a former piano teacher, creative copywriter, and daughter of the King. I have two little girls, a husband I love dearly, and a stack of books to read someday that is taller than I am. I love dark coffee, wholesome living, and well-crafted words.