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[25] 25 Essential Tips for Running a Handmade Business

I’ve been running my own handmade business for almost 7 years now (my bizaversary is this month!), and over that time I have discovered some hard-won knowledge about how to make the most of your time, your creativity, and what you need to do to make your handmade business the best it can be.


Today, to celebrate the 25th episode of the Create & Thrive podcast, I’ve created an epic episode for you, where I outline 25 essential tips for running a handmade business.

I believe that becoming successful is all down to pacing yourself, to being optimistic yet realistic – dream big, but don’t over-extend yourself beyond what’s actually do-able.

I believe that you need to get clear on why you’re doing this – to get clear on your core values, and allow them to guide you in all the decisions that you make.

There is so much goodness in this episode – I really dig down into the principles that will help you to achieve success – whatever that means to you.


I have also put together a FREE downloadable e-book from this episode!

To get your free download, just enter your email below and click ‘Subscribe’!

This is available as part of my brand-spankin’ new #HandmadeBusinessToolkit – which is packed full of free resources (ebooks, downloadables, and guides) that will help you grow a thriving handmade biz.

The Handmade Business Toolkit is available for absolutely FREE to my C&T email subscribers.

If you’re already a subscriber, check your inbox for the email I sent you today – the password to access the toolkit is inside.

If you’re not already subscribed, just pop your email in the box above and click ‘subscribe’ to get access to the #HandmadeBusinessToolkit for absolutely free!



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Turning your passion into your business sounds like a great idea but you can run the risk of killing the passion
  • You need to spend quite a bit of time on the business side of things
  • “Are you going to still love it in five years time?”
  • You can get your stuff out there and then you can tweak it and alter it whenever you want
  • “Until you get something out into the world, you’re not going to be getting any feedback.”
  • Are your things what other people want to buy?
  • You need to have a product for sale – not just a business idea
  • “I want to help people find freedom in their own lives.”
  • Get clear on your core values and put them out into the world
  • You may want to create new things which aren’t saleable but you need to make sure you understand that it’s to indulge your creativity and not for your business
  • Remember to be grateful for what you’re doing, especially when you have feelings of boredom or frustrating
  • “Find ways to keep your love and passion burning for your business.”
  • Moving from hobby to business means you might not feel like you can charge the right amount for your work
  • “You might be stuck in an unrealistic price vortex with everyone around you undervaluing their work.”
  • Charge what your time is worth
  • “Don’t hide from working out your prices correctly.”
  • It’s OK to ask for help
  • Paying for workshops and other learning opportunities may be better than using up your time figuring it out yourself
  • SOFTWARE: Xero: bookkeeping software which you pay by the month with lots of great features
  • “Get friendly with your numbers since you want to track how you’re income is going.”
  • If you are growing a business, it’s important to find some joy in the business side of things, not just the creative side.
  • Sometimes you need to get help to make it work and you will earn a little less money for a certain period of time
  • “Think about the stuff you really enjoy and spend your time there but I hope you can find enjoyment in the business side of things.”
  • Getting organised will help you to grow your business with ease
  • “Change and evolve but stick to your core values.”
  • LINK: 4 Systems You Should Have in Place to Ensure You Never Lose a File or Email Again
  • LINK: How to Create a Simple + Streamlined Order Processing System
  • When opportunities come up, go back to your ‘why’


Download/Listen to this Episode



(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

Periscope for Makers + Handmade Business : A Roundup of Top Tips




So, while I was prepping for my sabbatical/overseas, this new thing has taken the social media world by storm. What new thing, I hear you ask?

Why, Periscope, of course.

If you don’t know what Periscope is: it’s basically a way to live-stream video to your followers. And, kinda like snap-chat, your videos are only viewable for 24 hours after your ‘scope’ (there’s already a verb!!). You can save them, but not on the app itself. Your followers get a notification when you start a scope, and can then watch and interact with you live.

I know, I know, ANOTHER social media app – argh!

BUT. This one has the potential to be really, really awesome for makers and creatives. Why? Because it allows you to give people an insight into your studio in real-time.

I’m only getting started with it myself (I’m @JessVanDen if you’d like to follow me!) so I’ve been doing some research to see how others are using it.

As I haven’t got enough experience with it to give you my own thoughts and feedback, I decided the best thing to do would be to give you a little round-up of the best resources I’ve found so far.


So, if you’re intrigued by the possibilities, check out these links:

  1. Getting Started with Periscope – c|net
  2. 25 Things Makers can do on Periscope – Academy of Handmade
  3. What is Periscope and Why you Should use it for your Creative Business – Creative Hive
  4. How to Use Periscope Like a Boss – Little Farm Media
  5. 5 Steps to Getting Started on Periscope – Blacksburg Belle
  6. 20 Unmissable Tips for Using Periscope for Business – Get Response


Those are the best resources I’ve found so far – I’ll update this post as I find more!

Are you on Periscope? Does it sound like something you’d like to try?

I love talking about my work and handmade biz in general (cough, podcast, cough) so I think it’s something I’ll be getting into.

Make sure to follow me (@JessVanDen) to get a peek inside my jewellery studio, and for some creative biz advice, too. I’m already dreaming up weekly scopes I can run for you guys!

And if you’re on there, make sure to leave your handle in the comments below, so we can build up a community of #Thrivers on there!


Set Up Shop – Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered!



Since I’ve been getting these questions asked of me, well, frequently, I thought it might be easier to answer them for you all, all at once!

If your question about Set Up Shop isn’t answered below, please just ask in the comments below!


Do I have to be in Australia to take the course?

Nope! We’ve had folks from all over the world take the class. I do cover a few topics in the initial housekeeping email where I give links to some Aussie stuff (tax and government registration info), but I also tell you what you need to look into no matter what country you live in. The rest of the course is just as relevant for someone living in Auckland as it is for someone living in New York, or London, or Johannesburg!


Do I need to make handmade crafts to do this course – or can I be an artist, designer, etc?

I wrote this course specifically for makers – but that goes for artists and designers, as well. If you don’t make your own products, but get them made for you (or sell supplies or vintage!), there will be a few lessons that aren’t completely relevant to you, but the vast majority of lessons will be applicable to you – stuff like working out your branding, photography, product descriptions, managing your time, marketing, etc.


Will you only teach me how to set up an Etsy shop, or does the content work for other platforms too?

What I teach in this course can be implemented across any platform. Etsy, Dawanda, Not On The High Street, Madeit, Folksy… or on Shopify, your own website, etc. I do show you how to set up your own WordPress website as an option, but the course is relevant for you no matter what platform you choose to set your shop up on.


Do I have to know how to use CSS or html or any other sort of code?

Not at all! If you choose to set up shop on Etsy or a similar platform, you’re good to go so long as you can use a computer, browse the internet, and upload stuff. If you can sign up for and take this course, you can set up an online shop!


Do I have to complete the whole course in the 30 days?

Ideally, you’ll have the time to work through each lesson as it arrives… but we all know that life sometimes gets in the way. I do ask that you at least make the time (10 minutes, tops) to at least *read* each lesson as it arrives, just so you can get a clear idea of how the course is progressing. But you can take the course at your own pace – whether that means you finish in the 30 days – or it takes you 6 months! The key is starting and making what progress you can, when you can. With that in mind, we come to the next question…


Do I get access to the course info and FB group after the course ends?

Absolutely! I don’t believe in ‘taking away’ the course content from you. You will have access to it forever – both in the emails you received, and in the form of an ebook, of the entire course at the end. And you also get lifetime membership to the course FB group, so you can pop in there and ask your classmates questions at any time (but I’m only active in there while a course is running).


Can I take the course again in future if I pay for it now?

Absolutely! Once you’ve signed up to the course, you can ‘retake’ it as many times as you like. The only caveat here is that if you are a Gold or Platinum member, you don’t get to participate in calls in future classes, or get your skype session/critique done again – those are once-offs. But you can always refer back to your ebook of the course and work through the course again with future cohorts of students in the FB group – in fact, I encourage it!


When are you running the course again?

I don’t have a set date planned, but I can tell you I won’t be running it again until the first quarter of 2016.


I hope that answered any burning questions you might have about the course! Remember, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have another question!


If you are ready to join us for Set Up Shop – yay! Just click the links below to…

Enrol Now or Find Out More

Jess x

[24] Blogging, Content, and Design Essentials with Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia

Today I am talking with the amazing Arianne Foulks from Aeolidia, with whom I discuss the essential website design and content elements that will ensure your site invites people in and encourages them to want to shop with you.

Arianne has a wildly successful web and graphic design studio, and directs a team of people who craft gorgeous websites for creatives. I invited her on the show because she knows what works! In this episode we talk about logo design, photography, content, and more – all the things which a great website needs to get right.

It’s so important to have your own home on the internet – somewhere that represents your business to the world and tells your business story. But it can be hard to know what to focus on when creating a website, as there are so many possibilities!

Listen in for Arianne’s top tips for making sure your business’s online home is the best it can be.


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • “Have your own domain name even if you have other web presences.” {Arianne}
  • Get your domain name and point it to your primary online presence (e.g. Etsy)
  • Having your own domain belongs to you and nobody else unlike Facebook and Etsy when your shopfront belongs to those companies.
  • People want to go at their leisure and find out about you online before getting in contact.
  • It’s like having a menu in a restaurant, it’s a way to see what’s on offer before you sit down to eat.
  • Your about page is the most important thing to get done first on your website.
  • “People want to know who made it, why they made it and what their story is.” {Arianne}
  • Big beautiful photos are so important.
  • Tell a story with your products through styling.
  • “Learn a little bit about what makes good photography. Less of the technical stuff and more of what makes a great photo.” {Arianne}
  • Make sure you tell people your name so they feel they know you a little more.
  • Contact information is vital.
  • “It’s an important for searchability to keep your website up to date and relevant” {Jess}
  • It can be important to have both their own website and other online stores if possible.
  • It’s not enough to rely on Etsy or another platform to send them buyers.
  • “Relying solely on a company who is not under your control to send you customers is not ideal.” {Arianne}
  • Build up an audience on your own website.
  • “I can sell in Australian Dollars on my own website but in American Dollars on Etsy.” {Jess}
  • StitchLabs: A way to keep your inventory up to date on multiple platforms without having to do it manually.
  • It’s still very important to blog even when you have an ecommerce site.
  • “Those who have been in the blogging world for ages think it’s a no-brainer. But for newbies I understand the confusion about why you would blog.” {Jess}
  • You need to enjoy blogging to want to blog.
  • Blogging brings traffic to your site – partly through Google and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  • Blogging gives you keywords which will eventually list on Google and traffic will come to you over the years.
  • “Having a blog can really humanise your brand.” {Arianne}
  • Establish yourself as an expert in something.
  • Once you start blogging it makes all your other marketing efforts easier.
  • Your social media is made much easier when you have your blog written and you can borrow content.
  • “Get yourself on a schedule and find something that you like and you enjoy doing with your blog.” {Arianne}
  • Make sure you’re keeping your target market in mind.
  • Video can be a great way to get more people interested in your website.
  • Make sure you have some keywords associated with your video so it’s searchable.
  • “There’s a lot of writing that goes into marketing.” {Arianne}
  • “When we say keywords, we don’t just mean individual words.” {Jess}
  • Think about it more like a ‘keyphrase’.
  • What are your customers going to be typing in?
  • Try not to use jargon and lingo that your customers may not know.
  • Keep working on your website as long as it doesn’t take you away from other aspects of your business that also may need work.


Download/Listen to this Episode


(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

The Benefits of Selling your Craft Online

There are more ways to sell your craft than ever before.


You can sell it via wholesale or consignment to a shop. You can sell it at a festival. You can sell it at a market or show. Or… you can sell your craft online.


The invention of the internet has made growing a successful handmade business more accessible, more possible, and more convenient than ever before.


I’ve done it – and it wasn’t even imaginable to me 10 years ago that I could be making a full-time living from selling my handmade jewellery online. But I am. And I know thousands of other makers and artisans are doing exactly the same.

How are we doing this? By creating enticing, well-functioning, cohesive, and professional online shops to sell our craft all over the world.


Selling your work online has SO many benefits.


1. Rather than having to schlep yourself, your products, and your set-up to a market every weekend, you can instead accept orders while you sleep.

2. Even if you do still want to sell your work to retail shops, you can now showcase your work online, so that potential retailers can see everything about your work and your brand, and you can make it easy for them to determine that you’re a great fit for their shop, and effortlessly order exactly what they want – because they can see it in your online shop.

3. You don’t have to have huge amounts of items pre-made. Instead of having all your materials tied up in stock that might not sell, you can sell the item before you make it.

4. You can reach your ideal customer – no matter where in the world they live. Not to mention, no matter where YOU live (say goodbye to having to live somewhere because of your job – when you sell your craft online, you can live wherever there is a post office and an internet connection).

5. You can start selling for an extremely low initial cost – using a venue like Etsy, you only pay 20c per listing you add to your shop. That’s just 20 bucks to make 100 products available for purchase. Forget having to outlay hundreds of dollars on market fees and stall set-ups!

6. You can work – and sell – from the comfort of your own home. Bye-bye commute! Hello lunch in your own home, and naps when necessary.

7. Of course, you might still love to sell via other venues. Even if you can’t imagine not attending that regular market, or selling your work to shops all around the country, you should still have a strong online presence to promote your work. And if you’re going to go to all the work to set up a website to showcase your work – why wouldn’t you make your craft available to purchase while you’re at it?


The benefits of selling online are immense, yes. But so is the work involved in creating an online shop that will actually draw in paying customers.

Setting yourself up for success takes a lot of hard work, planning, dedication, and knowledge. And a LOT of time spent on the business – rather than in the business. That is: lots of time spent on the ‘business’ side of things, rather than the ‘making/creating’ side of things.

So many people try and fail at the ‘handmade dream’ – not because what they make isn’t good enough, and not because they don’t have the desire to make it happen – but because they lack the knowledge to do it right, and they give up too soon due to frustration and burnout.


There is an immense amount to learn about online business.


Not only the technical side of things – how to set up a website/shop, how to take and edit click-worthy photos, how to create good seo, how to send an email newsletter – but also about the business and marketing side of things.

You need to learn how to sell. You need to learn what your brand story is, and how to tell it. You need to learn how to market your work through social media. All of these things time time to learn – and working it all out by yourself can turn the process of selling your craft online into an epic, years-long journey.

I want you to be successful. I want you to make your dream of turning your handmade hobby into a thriving business come true, just like I have.

That is why I created Set Up Shop.


Over the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve taken over 500 people through the system that is Set Up Shop. It is more than a course: Set Up Shop is an integrated system of lessons and projects that will take you from having no knowledge whatsoever about selling online, to knowing everything you need to know in order to get your shop set up right – right from the start.

Registration for the final class of 2015 is open right now. Class starts Monday, September 28th.

In the words of Set Up Shop Alumni Karen Lynch: “If you have ever thought you would like to have an online presence, but have lacked the confidence or know how, this is the course for you. If anyone has ever said “Your stuff is great.  You should sell online”, and it’s been a dream of yours for too long, you need to make those dreams become a reality and do this course.”


Enrol Now or Find Out More