{UPDATED} Like to be my mentee? One of my Set Up Shop students will get to work with me for 3 months – for free + get a financial grant!

Jess Van Den - Mentor Mentee

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UPDATE – Friday 29/3/13

I am very, very happy and excited to announce that I’ve been contacted by the lovely Renata Cooper from Forming Circles.

renata

Renata and I have chatted a few times before, but her email to me was an unexpected and wonderful surprise…

She’s generously decided to offer my mentee a financial grant to help them grow their business!

Now, I can’t currently release the exact amount, but I will tell you that this grant will be a SIGNIFICANT boost to grow the business of the person who becomes my mentee.

Even better – Renata is happy to extend the funding globally – so it doesn’t matter where you are in the world – if you’re one of my Set Up Shop students, and I decide that you’re the one I’m going to work with, you’ll get the grant, no matter where you are. I think this is a fabulous example of the new global economy we are all building together!

If you’d like to be considered for this mentee position + grant, please make sure you don’t miss out registering for Set Up Shop – registration closes tomorrow evening.

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For a while now, I’ve been thinking about how I can offer more to you – my creative community.

The creation of this site – and my new course – have all been percolating for a long time. I’ve been writing and speaking about how to grow a creative business for a few years now, and saw a yearning amongst you – a yearning for the right information, from the right people.

From those who had already trodden the path through the gnarly forest and made it a bit easier for you to follow it.

My writing team and I are here to point out that spider web in your way that you might not have seen. To break down those branches blocking the path. To tell you about the mis-steps we’ve made. To show you the short-cut you might have walked by.

It was only by relinquishing one of my babies (*bespoke* zine) at the end of last year that I created the time and the mental space to make this new online space a reality.

I’ve been LOVING the ride so far!

The comments and feedback I’ve gotten from you has far surpassed my expectations.

But I want to give more – in a deeper way.

Right now, I don’t offer ‘consulting’ or ‘one-on-one’ coaching. That’s just not something I want to do at this point in my life and my business.

However, I DO want to give something deeper to this community. And I think the best way to do that is one person at a time.

So, I decided to do something a little different.

Starting in May, I’ll be taking on one mentee – that’s you – every three months. For free.

This person will be passionate about their creative business. They’ll be dedicated to bringing their dream to life. They’ll take what I can teach them and RUN with it. They’ll have fresh ideas. They’ll have BIG dreams. And they’ll act despite the fear that they feel.

I will be choosing my first mentee from my Set Up Shop students.

Over 50 of you have already proven your commitment to your business by signing up for the course.

Thank you.

Thank you for taking that step. Thank you for putting your faith in me – trusting that I can help you take those next steps. I don’t take that trust lightly.

At the end of April, I’ll choose one of you to work with on a deeper level.

I’ll be at the other end of your email to answer any questions for 3 months. I’ll critique your photos, your blog, your online presence  I’ll tell you exactly how I do things. We’ll get together once a month via Skype or Google Hangout and just talk. I’ll be your sounding board, your cheerleader – your mentor.

Together, we’re gonna make big things happen for you. Promise.

If you’d like the chance to be that person, make sure to register for Set Up Shopregistrations close on Saturday evening AEST, so don’t hesitate.

I can’t wait to be your way-clearer through the forest.

xx

 

Have you chosen the best business model for your handmade biz?

what's your business model

{image from the awesome Cardboard Safari – they have a unicorn!}

Thank you everyone for your comments to the last post I wrote! Your comments – and especially this comment by Jess – really got me thinking on the ways we sell our creations:

“Something that I do across a few venues is upload a core product range. So, on Etsy, Madeit and my own site, I make sure to have my entire range available, but on other venues, I just spend the time to upload my core range – that I’m pretty confident won’t change – and use that as a way to showcase my wares in as many places as I can. It’s a little way of having the best of both worlds – of course, you have to find the time to even upload that smaller range, which can be challenging!”

There are so many different “business models” – so how do you know which one is for you?

I cannot say that I’ve gotten it right myself yet – but I can say that this year, after applying certain changes to the way I sell my creations, I am much more comfortable with my model.

Let’s take a look at a few of the different models that are possible for your crafty biz.

Markets based business

Selling mainly at the markets (with the stock left over offered on Facebook or at an online shop).

I like this model and if you are set up for it with a car that fits all you containers and stall decorations and you don’t mind working weekends then it’s a great model for you. At a good market, you sell well and walk away with money on hand.

You can budget you stall costs for a year with no listing fees and fixed amount of sales. However, preparing for a market can be stressful (even when you’ve done it a few times). Cancellations due to weather will leave you with stock and, unless you do markets every week, less money coming in that month. I would say nowadays, an online shop is a must for a stall holder so customers can shop after the market too.

Selling made to order items online

You have your range of products, like cushions or jewellery,  for example, and you list the samples and then print/sew/make them to order.

This model minimizes the storage space but requires you to work to a deadline so you get the order posted fast enough to insure higher turnover and to keep your customers happy.

Facebook based business

You don’t have time to set up and update a shop, maybe you work full-time…so you create in the evenings and weekends and release items in batches once a month or so.  

I know businesses that prefer to work on – let’s say – 20 items for a month and then release them in bulk on so called “Market Nights”. Works great  once you have large-ish Facebook audience.

Selling only ready to post items online with occasional custom orders

If you don’t like stress of a deadline and a huge list of orders then welcome to my world!

I did have to take more space for storage but I like that I have plenty of stock and I just post it when I sell an item. As I make toys, I sometimes have to make them to order when they need to be personalised or made into bride & groom like the order I am working on now.

Having a stocked up shop, gives me an opportunity to relax a little more and advertise my business without the fear of being swamped and when I end up with a few orders, the shop is stocked so there is no “I need to make a few items for the shop even if it kills me” thought in my head. In order to achieve this, I have to accept orders only a few times a year and regulate it strictly.

Selling wholesale to the shops and building up as many stockiest as you can handle

It’s a good model for artists who can make a bunch of items at once like fabric printing or kits making.

You make items for a week or so, package them and send them off to the shops. This model is great if you like to know approximately the prospective earnings and you can just drive/post your stock to the shops and maybe have an online presence just for showing your range  to the prospective shops.

I personally love this model but it won’t work for my creations (I tried).

Complex business model

Mix and match applies not only to clothes!

You can create you own business model by combing all or a few of those listed above. I know a very successful  business that does all of the above: markets, Facebook sales, website with stock and offers made-to-order. However, I think, it’s a job for more then one person or a very organised and dedicated crafter!

Each of those models are very personal to the business owner as there is a long road before you find the right one for you and what you make.

Based on my experience, it took me good few years to identify what works the best for the time I have available and my creative process. Time is the obvious factor to consider but, I was surprised to come to the conclusion that the way I create is determining my business model.

I am impulsive, not very patient and hate being under pressure as a designer! If I have a new idea, I have to do it straight away!

I used to do made-to-order all the time for 2 years and it really put me under pressure.

I wished I could have more control over my creativity, but trying to make new things in between the orders, which I stayed up late to do in time, wasn’t fun.

I started wondering – “why I am doing this and what for?”

I identified that what I love is designing and creating, losing myself in that feeling when you have a new idea and you go with it.

It’s a lovely feeling, isn’t it?

Well, before I cut down wholesale orders, customer orders (to a manageable amount), and markets, I didn’t feel comfortable with my chosen business model. However, that’s just me 🙂

That’s how I came to my business model – sell only what I have in stock – so it’s make-list-sell-post model.

My friend asked me a good question when I shared  my decision with her – “Won’t it result in less money”?

That’s a very good question as it did cut my earnings at the start – but I believe in thinking long-term now.

A very important argument that I made – when trying to justify the decision to cut down on wholesale and customer orders – was that I couldn’t even promote my business before.

At the moment, the way I’m working is a great model for me.

With time it might not be and, hopefully, I’ll move on the the mixed business model. Who knows! Owning your own business means you can adjust the model to suit your needs and it’s awesome!

So, why has the comment that Jess made triggered this rambling?

Because I love the way she has her “core product” listed in the shops and think if you do the made-to order then it’s such an awesome way of doing it!

I am going to think how I can apply this to my business model.

In conclusion: identifying your business model is vital for you Indie business.

The model that makes you feel comfortable, as stressed out maker is an ingredient that will spoil the recipe. If you feel stressed, unsatisfied and unhappy, re-evaluate and reconsider the way your business is run.

You might have a great product – but maybe the way you sell it is bringing you down?

I would love to hear all about  your business model! Which one of those mentioned is yours or do you do it differently?

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Do you want to get started with an online shop – and get it right, first time?

Join us for Set Up Shop and take your business to the next level! Registration closes Saturday, class starts April 1.

This is what’s holding you back from succeeding.

whats-holding-you-back

The giveaway I ran for Set Up Shop had one kinda unexpected outcome.

You shared your stories with me. You told me why you NEEDED this course to grow your business. And out of what you shared, I realised that there were a core group of things that seemed to be holding you all back from taking that next step in your business.

Today I wanted to tackle some of those things, and then open up the discussion to you – I’d love to hear what you feel your biggest obstacle is (whether it’s on this list or not!).

Why do I want you to share? Because it’s only when we know what our challenges are that we can face them head-on.

Knowledge

Or – more accurately – lack of knowledge. So many of you said you desperately wanted to set up an online shop – or, you wanted to improve the one you have – but that you just didn’t know what you needed to do and know to make it happen, and do it right.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Of course, I’m part of the Google generation – my kneejerk response when I don’t know something is to ‘google it’ – and honestly, this is how I’ve learnt pretty much everything I’ve needed for my business over the last 6 years.

However, that only takes you so far, for two reasons.

  • One – goodness me, does it take a lot of stumbling around in the dark trying to find the right info!?! Research sucks up a LOT of time – time you could be spending working on your products or other aspects of your business.
  • Two – as we said above, you don’t know what you don’t know. Maybe there’s some immensely useful technique or tool or program that would make your life and business so much easier to run… but you don’t know about it. This is where being part of a community, learning from a mentor, or taking courses comes in useful.

You cut through the crap and save an immense amount of time by learning from those who’ve gone before.

I always say that everything I teach (and honestly, that ANYONE teaches) in my posts, talks, ebooks and courses is stuff you could find for yourself.

It is! The info is out there – it’s not a secret known to only the elite few and passed down to the select.

With the magic of the internet, the barriers to acquiring knowledge have been obliterated… but the amount of information available has also exploded.

The benefit of buying a course, attending a talk, or reading an ebook is that you skip the research. Someone has done it for you. They’ve searched, tried, tested, and then shared the distilled – immensely useful – information with you.

This, then, segues perfectly into the next limitation that’s holding you back.

Time

We all have the same amount. 24 hours, every day.

However, we have also all chosen a certain lifestyle that affects how much time we can devote to our businesses – and this will vary immensely between us.

For example: I’m in my early 30s. I don’t have kids. I also have a husband who is at home with me full-time. He does the domestic chores and supports me in the business so I have the time to grow it and work on it. To achieve this freedom, we choose to live in 2 rooms in a converted barn on my parents’ property. We have one car. We don’t buy expensive things, but we do spend a great deal of money on things that mean a lot to us – like travel.

That is my lifestyle, and it’s something I’ve chosen deliberately. I’ve had a ‘regular’ job. I’ve lived out on my own, rented, shared houses, Nick’s had and paid off a mortgage. We know that’s not the lifestyle either of us ever want again. We don’t need more space. We love being close to my family. We love the freedom to travel our lifestyle affords us. We’ve never been happier.

Your life is going to look different to mine.  This is the point Megan was making with her ‘secret of success‘ post a while back. You are not anyone else – you are you, and your success will look different to mine and anyone else’s.

It’s taken me 5 years to reach the place I am with my business – over 3 of those it has been my full-time job. If you have a day job, kids, other commitments… your time is limited.

The time it will take you to achieve what you deem ‘success’ is the time it will take you. I know that sounds a bit zen, but it’s the truth. You can be clever about how you spend that time, but there is no magic bullet that will make it happen faster.

However, getting a bit of guidance will help. A lot. 

Money

Just like time, the money we have to devote to our businesses will vary wildly. Maybe you have a partner with an awesome job who rakes in the dough. Maybe you’re both working part-time and just scraping by. Maybe you’re on your own and studying, or raising your kids.

Wherever you’re at, you have a limited amount of cash to invest in your business. Only you can decide what the best use of that money is. Do you need to invest in tools? Materials? A website?

It’s never been easier to make money from your creativity than it is now. You can open a shop on Etsy and get 20 products up in there for 4 bucks. The only thing you need to spend is time.

I’ve chosen the time route, because I have it. I still spend time rather than money wherever I can – which is why I love social media marketing and blogging. Some of you might prefer to spend money on advertising instead (though please still have a social media presence, it’s unavoidable these days!).

You need to spend one or the other – TIME or MONEY – in order to grow your business.

Fear

Honestly, I believe this is THE biggest thing holding most of you back.

If you don’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters.

I don’t care how much knowledge, time, or money you have. If you don’t believe in yourself and your product you will not succeed.

You will never take that leap forward because you’re always scared you’re not ‘doing it right’.

You’re frightened to devote yourself to your dream because you don’t believe that you can make it a reality.

Quite simply – you don’t think you’re good enough. You don’t think you deserve it. You don’t think it’s possible.

I call bullshit on that.

No-one can live your life. No-one can do this for you. No-one can make you believe in yourself.

YOU have the power. YOU are the one with the dream. YOU are the one who WILL make it a reality.

This is YOUR life to live EXACTLY as you please, because you’re not going to get another chance at it.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Get out of your own way and go for it.

And if you want me to hold your hand while you do it – I’m here, baby. But really, you don’t need me. You just need YOU.

So, now it’s time to ask yourself – what is it that’s truly holding you back?

 


If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, you can join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

Set up Shop is now open for registration (with an extra ebook, too, if you register in the next 12 hours).

1-Set Up Shop

I’m so excited to announce that registration is now open for Set Up Shop!

I sent out a sneaky email to the C&T list last night, and we’ve already got an amazing group of women signed up and ready to go on April 1st (thank you, everyone who’s already registered!).

Everything you need to know is on the course page here.

Now, if you’re worried about cost, I want to reassure you, I have not made this a ridiculously expensive course to take… in fact, the Silver Membership will cost you less than $3 per day over the 30 days.

I feel very strongly that this course should be affordable for everyone – I did NOT want lack of money to hold you back from participating!

For those who want that next level of support, the Gold and Platinum levels are also available… but due to my limited time, they are limited to only 20 and 4 places respectively. (About half of the 20 Gold places are already sold, so make sure to register asap if you want that extra level of support.)

Head on over here to lock in your place now.

From all the stories that the C&T community have shared over the last few weeks, I know you are ready and willing to get serious about your business – you just need that little bit of help and guidance to take your business to the next level. That’s what I’m here to provide.

I’ll give you structure and guidanceyou’ll bring your unique passion and drive – and together we’ll craft a beautiful shop that will highlight your fabulous creations in their best light.

I can’t wait to see you in the course and help you transform your shop into something you can be immensely proud of as you take your next step on the path to crafty business success!

Jess xx

P.S. Click here to check out the prices and membership level deets.

P.P.S. if you register in the next 12 hours, you’ll get a nifty bonus – a FREE copy of my ‘How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List’ ebook. Ace! (Offer ends 7pm Monday 25th, AEST.)

C&T Q&A ~ Should I use social media under my name, my brand name – or both?

social media conundrum - me or my brand - create and thrive

Today’s question is from Emma, who asks:

I am looking into creating pinterest and blog accounts (following your free ebook advice) but I have two separate businesses under different branding, one offers products the other services. Do you think it is best to create separate accounts for both or create one under my personal name to encompass both?

This is an issue that confronts so many creative business owners – because we often have more than one business or project on the go at the one time!

How do we separate them? Do we separate them? How do we manage innumerable social media channels/blogs/emails?

It’s certainly something I’ve struggled with. This blog, for example, came after years of combining my crafty biz posts with my jewellery and other crafty posts over on Epheriell Designs. I finally took the leap to creating a separate site and brand for this info when I decided I could do more with a distinctive brand.

Of course, I made this decision fully aware that it meant I wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to the Epheriell Designs blog as I had been previously – and that was okay. It meant I changed the direction of that blog, and made it more about my jewellery business and less about handmade in general. When you multiply your channels you multiply your work – and something’s gotta give somewhere.

The only social media channel I have that is dedicated to my distinct brands is Facebook – where I have an Epheriell page and a Create & Thrive page. All my other social media – twitter, instagram, Pinterest, G+ etc, is under my own name, rather than a brand.

Why?

Because I think different social media call for different approaches. For example – on twitter and instagram, I am me – I share stuff from my life, my work, and my travels. I think people are on those channels because they want to connect with people (or news, in the case of twitter). So, I feel it’s more effective to just be myself, and be active – rather than trying to juggle multiple logins/handles and keep them all active and growing. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the TIME to do that!

Facebook, however, is a little different. If people want to connect with me personally, they’d be my friend. If they want to connect with my brand, they’ll like my page. This is why I’ve separated off the brands on FB. It’s easier to build up a fan base (or, more technically, a ‘liker’ base, but I hate how that sounds) and to be more on-message.

Pinterest is a tricky one – I think it comes down to how you use it. If you – like me – aren’t terribly strategic, you might just want to be on there under your name, and have boards that relate to your separate brands, like I do. I do it this way because I’m also on Pinterest purely for my own enjoyment – so I pin a lot of stuff that is just for me, personally – like paleo recipes, workouts, home designs, fashion, art etc. Sure, some of this ties into my businesses, and some of it ties into my overall ‘lifestyle’ brand – but some of it doesn’t and I don’t care. It’s for me.

Also – I think the handmade niche, in particular, is quite forgiving of this approach – because a big part of a handmade business is the personal touch. People are buying handmade for a reason – often because of that personal connection to the maker.

I do, of course, have my various websites in my blurb across all of these social media – in fact, I pretty much have the same blub (and the same photo) across twitter, IG, Pinterest and G+. That way, I keep personal brand consistency, remain a real human being, but still make it easy for people to check out what I do for a living.

Emma, to come back to your specific question – I think, in your case, I would say do what I’ve done. Have one Pinterest and have different boards illustrating your different businesses. I say this largely because I think your two businesses are complimentary – in that they support each other and might have a cross-pollination of customers. If you had two widely different businesses, my advice might be different… but, in the end, it comes down to personal preferences, and this question:

How many social media channels can I manage, and manage effectively, while delivering awesome content and impact?

Because it’s better to have just one channel chockers full of fabulous content than multiple channels that are mostly neglected due to overwhelm.

I’d love to know what you think – how do you manage this issue?