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5 Actionable Takeaways from the Artful Business Conference 2014





I’ve just spent a fun, non-stop, inspiring, and educational 5 days in Melbourne. My time started after landing just before midnight on Friday, and schlepping my ridiculously large suitcase along the streets of Melboune after midnight. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with a few girlfriends from Brisbane, wandering around the gorgeous city and investing in some beautiful things for myself. (Hello, new leather boots and gloves!).

That was followed by 2 packed days speaking at the Artful Business Conference. Elle – the organiser of the conference – and I have been friends for many years now, after ‘meeting’ online back in 2010 or so. She hit it out of the park this year with a fabulous line-up of speakers, and a wonderful, positive bunch of creative entrepreneur attendees.

Whenever I attend a conference, I like to consolidate my favourite lessons and takeaways for my own use – so I decided to share my top 5 takeaways with you today in the hope they might give you some food for thought – whether you attended the conference or not.


100-Day Goals

This was a lesson from the absolutely lovely Julia Bickerstaff of The Business Bakery. I’m planning on having a good read of Julia’s book and blog now that I’ve found her!

I joked to Julia after her workshop that I had a sore neck from nodding so much – we are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to business advice.

If you don’t know Julia, she’s really passionate about strategy and goal-setting, and one goal-setting process she shared really stuck in my head – the 100-day goal. 100-days is a great number – it’s just over 3 months, so it’s long enough to achieve a really significant goal, but short enough to keep the momentum going.

The idea is to set a goal that you will achieve at the end of the next 100 days, and keep a notebook devoted to realising that goal. Every single day of the 100 days, you write in your notebook and answer the question – what steps did I take towards my goal today?

That’s it. Write down what you’ve done every day, and you will reach your goal by the end of 100 days. Julia said that since she’s started using this strategy, she’s never missed a 100-day goal, which is pretty impressive!

A complimentary strategy to this is the ‘good, great, awesome’ goal strategy. Basically, when you set your 100-day goal (or any other goal), you actually set three goals. The good, great, and awesome version of the goal. Then, you write the awesome version in the front of your 100-day goal notebook, and hide the others away.

At the end of your 100 days, you pull out the good and great goals, and compare them to the awesome goal. Even if you haven’t reached the awesome goal, Julia said, chances are that you would have at least attained the great goal.

I love the simplicity of this strategy. So much, in fact, that I bought myself a few pocket notebooks at the airport so I can start using this strategy myself! Now I just need to decide on what goal to aim for first…


Facebook Pages + Instagram on Android

This one is a perfect example of learning from your audience! I started using Instagram back when it was released on android in 2012. In those days, android users weren’t able to share instagram posts directly to a Facebook Page – only to a profile.

Apparently, that’s changed, and did a while ago! Now, android users can set their instagram up to post directly to a page. I had NO IDEA that this had changed, until one of my audience members told me that it was possible. I was still using workarounds for this ‘problem’ that didn’t exist any more. I know from talking to a lot of other android early adopters of IG that many of us are still unaware that this is possible.

It’s a classic example of using something the way you always did, and missing that there is a better way to do it. Since I’d always worked around this limitation in IG, I didn’t realise the change had happened, because I didn’t go looking for it. I’ve learnt a TON about IG in the last few months, after watching Sue’s Creative Live workshop, then diving into learning everything I could (a tad obsessively, ahem) but this simple, basic thing was something I missed.

This is also a great lesson for those who think that anyone else is a complete expert on anything. I’m not an expert on instagram (if an expert is someone who knows EVERYTHING it is humanly possible to know about something)… just someone who knows quite a bit because she has devoted a good chunk of time learning about it and experimenting about it. I’m still learning… just like you!

Those people up on stage – they’re on the same path up the mountain as you – just a bit further along. But you might spot something along the path that they missed. Never hesitate to tell them something YOU know, if you think it might help them. We’re all in this together.


Reinforcement of a Good Decision

I loved meeting Denise Duffield-Thomas for the first time. She’s a genuine and fun person to be around!

Now, you know I’m pretty down-to-earth, and not into ‘woo-woo’ stuff like the Law of Attraction (though I do believe that your thoughts shape your reality, but in a very straightforward way that has nothing to do with any force outside of yourself), but I listened to Denise speak with an open mind, and a lot of what she said was practical, relevant and useful info for women in business.

One of the many takeaways from what she spoke about was the concept of reinforcing a good decision. That is – instead of thanking your customers, you congratulate them on making a good decision: an investment. This helps them to leave the interaction with you in an even more positive state of mind, because they feel reinforced in their decision – and we all like to believe we’ve made a good decision whenever we purchase anything.

During this trip to Melboune, one of my goals was to buy a good quality (which meant, of course, reasonably expensive) pair of long brown leather boots (harder to find back in Brisbane) and when I found them, I was pretty bloody pleased with my decision. It helped, though, when people at the conference complimented me on my boots – we always like compliments and external validation of our own decisions, don’t we? Did you notice how I used the word ‘investment’ to describe this purchase in my very first paragraph?

This stuck with me because I believe that both my jewellery and the paid information I put out in the form of ebooks and courses is actually an investment made by my customers. They’re investing in a beautiful piece of heirloom-quality jewellery, or in education (and, of course, eduction is one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – investments we can ever make in ourselves).

I’m already pretty happy with how I communicate with my Epheriell customers, but it’s definitely given me food for thought on how to tweak my ‘thank you’ message into a little more of a ‘congratulations’ message.


Tell the Right Stories to the Right People Through the Right Channels

I always love listening to the fabulous Valerie Khoo. I met Valerie for the first time a few years back at an Etsy conference we both spoke at in Sydney.

At the ABC, Valerie’s talk was all about how to tell the story of your business.

The core takeaway of her talk was simply:

Tell the right stories to the right people through the right channels. {click to tweet}

Such a simple but profound message. I know I’ve told you before, and I believe it – marketing is simply storytelling.

Marketing your business well is telling the story of your business well. Of course, you have to know the right stories to tell. You wouldn’t tell the same story to everybody – you’d focus on which parts of your story resonate with them. For example, when I pitched my wedding bands to Peppermint Magazine a few years ago, I focussed on the eco-friendly aspect of them (made from recycled sterling silver) as it’s an eco-fashion magazine. (Yes, I got featured in the mag – twice now, actually!). However, when I pitched the Courier Mail, I focussed on telling a different story about my jewellery – I was pitching for a Mother’s Day spread, so I sent along a photo of my heart necklace and wove a story about love.

In order to tell your story to the right people, you have to know who your ideal customer is. Do you? Who are you trying to reach? Where do they hang out online? What blogs, magazines, or newspapers do they read? And the questions go on.

Of course, knowing your ideal customer makes it easier to know where you’re going to connect to them, and focus on telling your story through those channels. My ideal customers for my wedding rings would be reading eco wedding blogs – so that’s who I should pitch my rings to. They also use Instagram, because they tend to be in their 20s and early 30s. Customers who buy my other jewellery are more often on Facebook (for now) because they tend to be an older (mid-30s to 50s), female demographic.

So – take the time to work out what your brand story is, who your ideal customer is, and where you can best connect with them. Your marketing will become so much easier.

An addendum to this – in her talk on day 1, Julia challenged us to brainstorm 100 ways we could market our businesses in order to break out of the habitual marketing channels we use and hopefully stumble across something new. I think it’s a great challenge – I encourage you to give it a go!


Make a Stop Doing List

A final idea – again from Julia – that she only mentioned in passing, but that I wrote down in my notes, was the idea of a ‘Stop Doing List’.

You know, those time-wasting, time-sucking jobs that just don’t seem to be getting you anywhere? Or maybe the important tasks that need to get done, but that you loathe?

Make a list of all the things you think you should stop and want to stop doing.

Then – either stop them or outsource them. You might be surprised how much time you get back and how much more you can get done!


So – there are my top 5 most practical takeaways from the 2014 Artful Business Conference. Of course, my list of takeaways is much longer, but it would take me a day of writing to tell you about all of them. You’ll just have to go to the conference next year and get your own dose of inspiration and information!

I was honoured that Elle asked me to speak again (I spoke at the inagural conference in 2012) and I loved every moment of connecting with old and new friends and colleagues. Props to all my other amazing fellow speakers – my dear friend Karen Gunton, Lisa Messenger, Victoria Gibson, and Tess McCabe.


If you attended, I’d love to hear what your top 5 takeaways from the conference were in the comments!



Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.



Glad to hear my advice about sharing from Instagram on Android devices worked out for you 🙂 Can’t wait to sit down and watch the rest of the session that I missed out on.


Kirsty – thank you! I think re-installing it recently did the trick, and now I’m able to connect to the FB Page. I can’t tell you how pleased I was ;D


Thanks for the run down Jess. I really hope to be there next year 🙂


Thanks for this jess. As a virtual watcher whose schedule changed before the conference I only saw day 1 you, Karen and part of Denise’s sessions. Cannot wait to dive into the rest. I love Julia’s site and newsletter already. Deb xx

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