Who Can You Ask for Help?






Feb 2014 post picture

I had three rules for dating:

  1. He couldn’t be an artist.

  2. He couldn’t be a co-worker.

  3. He couldn’t be a janitor/plumber/AC repairman/etc.


Then I met my partner and broke all three of my rules when I asked him out.  He was a fellow art student working at the same museum I was in the position of janitor.  The first year of our relationship, I had all of these fears concerning him and my artwork.

I feared dating another artist because I’m so competitive.  I didn’t want to find myself turning everything into a contest.  If he ended up drawing better than me, I’d hold it against him and nurse a grudge.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be the best artist in this relationship, I simply didn’t want to have to fear a competitor.  I know that sounds ridiculous but I think many of you will understand.  We all want to feel a little bit special because of our talents.  Thankfully, I saw my partner’s Drawing 101 homework one day and learned why he was a photographer.  Hehe.

So after that fear of competition  was gone, I turned my mind to collaboration.


I wanted the two of us to become one of those ‘power couples’ in the art world and the only way to do that was to ask each other for help.

  • I needed help with my product photography.  Yes, I’m all right at it but having a professional photographer with a full lighting studio and the latest and greatest editing software (not to mention the ability to figure out all the buttons and settings of the camera AND the software) is ten times better!
  • He needed help with his copy.  I was also an English major and grammar is my best friend so I continue to be the chief proofreader in our apartment.
  • I needed help with my design.  I can work on a business card design for 2 hours and it will look like a first-grader made it.  Then I give up, pass it to my partner, and 10 minutes later (I kid you not) I will have it back looking more beautiful than I ever imagined it could be.
  • He needed help writing pitches.  I’m the fake extrovert in our relationship so I’m the one who writes up all the pitches, collaboration requests, and dinner date emails for the two of us.


We all suffer to some extent with the solopreneur syndrome.  We feel that we have to do everything ourselves.  Every.  Single.  Thing.  Even if we aren’t that good at something.  However, my business has been able to grow and become more and more professional thanks to asking for help.  I don’t have to spend hours on website design because I ask my partner for help.  In return, I line up workshops for him.  In the end, we both come out on top and it takes less time because we’re working to our strengths.


What can you ask your friends and family for help with?

  • Photography
  • Sharing your work with friends
  • Web design
  • Proofreading
  • Packaging orders
  • Shipping

I’d love to know if you already ask people for help.  And, if so, what do they help you with?

Create & Thrive Top Posts of 2013

Create & Thrive top posts of 2013

So… technically, Create & Thrive is having a holiday this week *blows party horn*.

However, I decided that I really wanted to do a ‘best of’ post to highlight the most popular and most useful posts we’ve published this year.

I can’t quite believe I only started Create & Thrive at the end of January this year. It feels like it’s been around so much longer, and the feedback you have all given me and the writing team this year has been nothing short of amazing. Never does a week go by that I don’t get at least a few emails from readers who say ‘thank you’ for what we do here at C&T.


So, as we wrap up our first year, I want to take the opportunity to say THANK YOU for being here!


Thank you for reading what we share.

Thank you for sharing what we write.

Thank you for taking our advice and putting it into action.

Thank you for daring to dream a business into being.


Thank you for every comment, tweet, facebook comment, pin, +1 that you’ve taken the time to do – honestly, we wouldn’t be where we are now without your support.

I have big plans for C&T in 2014 – we’ve got a whole lotta amazing writers coming on board – women who have done what you want to do: created a successful creative business. You’ll learn a LOT from them.


So, to celebrate our first year, here are the 15 most popular posts of 2013 : the ones YOU found most useful!


  1. 10 Things you MUST Do to Have a Successful Online Craft Business

  2. C&T Q&A – How Do I Price My Handmade Goods?

  3. 5 Lessons Learnt from a Defunct Jewellery Business

  4. C&T Q&A – Can I Have a Successful Online Handmade Business if I Make Mostly OOAK Items?

  5. Some of you are not going to like this, but I’m going to say it anyway…

  6. What do I blog about? 15 ideas to get you started

  7. C&T Q&A – Can You Have a Successful Handmade Business Without Etsy?

  8. 10 Tips to Get More People into Your Booth at Summer Shows

  9. The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Successfully on Etsy

  10. How to Successfully Use Social Media in Just 20 Minutes a Day

  11. This is what’s holding you back from succeeding.

  12. C&T Q&A – Blogging Etiquette – When do I need to ask permission/give credit?

  13. The ‘Secret’ of Success – and it’s not what you think…

  14. C&T Q&A – How do you know it’s time to take the leap from hobbyist to business owner?

  15. C&T Q&A – How do you Track your Income and Expenditure? (+ Bonus FREE Spreadsheet Download)


And… bonus… here are 5 more posts that are more recently popular, so haven’t had the time to rank as ‘most popular for the year’ yet, but that are relevant for right now:


  1. Planning For Your Handmade Business in 2014 {The Big Picture} ~ 4 Things You MUST Schedule in Now

  2. 5 Questions to Prepare Your Biz for Next Year

  3. C&T Reviews: Two 2014 Planning Workbooks to Help you Have your Best Year in Biz Yet!

  4. Street Smart Pricing, Part 1 : Did you price your products correctly?

  5. C&T Q&A ~ 5 Tips for Increasing Likes and Engagement on Facebook {VIDEO}


Finally, I want to finish off the year by saying my biggest THANK YOU of them all – to my kick-ass, amazing, inspirational Assistant Editor – Megan Eckman, and to foundational writers Katia Donohoe and Danielle Spurge. Ladies – thank you for taking a chance on me and this blog and for being there right from the beginning!

I hope you have a most fabulous holiday time – we’ll be back next week to kick off 2014!


Jess xx


P.S. If you have a favourite post from C&T this year that doesn’t appear in the lists above, please share it with us in the comments!

Ask the Makers ~ Celebrating the Holidays

Ask the Makers - celebrating the holidays

This month we’re asking the makers about how they celebrate the holidays once the shopping rush is over.

The end of the shopping rush is nearly in sight and that means it’s time to reconnect with your intentions, take a break from the hustle and bustle, and celebrate another (hopefully) amazing holiday season.  Different people use the last week of December in different ways and I think you’ll really like this little peek into the personal lives of our makers.

Lisa’s Answer:


Red agate and smoky quartz power bracelet

I keep my business operating as usual (Did you know? Putting your Etsy shop on vacation is terrible for your SEO ranking!), but I know it will be a slow sales period.  I use the quiet time between mid-December into early January to reflect on the year that’s gone by. I love to look at the numbers and stats of it all: I want to figure out what’s working and what I’d like to improve on. I like to visualize where I’d like the New Year to go. It’s not only relaxing;, it’s reinvigorating!

Cat’s Answer:


Bee Earrings

Usually I am more collapsed (ie Kindle, warm socks, chocolate coma) than relaxed, but this year I have consciously taken on less and stuck with my deadlines. I have never actually closed my shops or website after the holidays. I just extend my shipping days a bit so I am not feeling rushed. Winter is my hubby’s busy season so no vacation for us, although I usually do start planning one for spring – especially if we have a lot of snow here.

I am looking forward to some new creative work once things slow down and even though it’s work – it’s not production work, so it’s the fun kind of work that feels like play. Actually I will just call it creative play since that sounds even better! So, after the holidays I will look like I am working, but I will really be playing … and, of course, I will still make time for my chocolate coma and a good read!

Jess’s Answer:

makers 1

Cloud Drops Earrings

I usually don’t actually take time off ‘work’ per se during this time of year (as I holiday at other times during the year) but I DO take a break from making orders. I usually use the last 2 weeks of December to catch up with family and friends, and work-wise, to plan for the following year, and also to do any niggling administration tasks that have been hanging over my head.
Sure, it’s still work, but my body gets a rest from the physical labour of my craft, AND I have a bit more breathing space because I’m not working to get orders out of the door every day. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you don’t have that pressure on you!

Stacie’s Answer:


2014 Whale Wall Calendar

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I haven’t ever really taken time for myself or my family during the holidays. In the past I have kept my shop open until the last possible minute, rushing orders to the Post Office on December 23rd. And then I would quickly reopen again on the 26th of December & begin my after Christmas sale. I have always made my business my priority.

But after 3 years of the holiday push, I am finally giving myself a break this year and am closing up shop from the 13th until the New Year! As much as I love to put my customers first, I needed to press pause on the holiday busy & focus on both myself & my family. And honestly I have no idea what I will do with that time other than snuggle my kids & watch lots of Christmas movies!

Eleanor’s Answer:


Printable Christmas Card – Joyeux Noel (This site/resource is no longer available)

The sad news is I don’t! Since wedding products are my biggest sellers, and the wedding season goes of with a bang January 1st, my busiest time of the year starts when everyone else is collapsing and recovering from the holidays. However August tends to be a very quiet time for me business-wise, and is also Europe, where I live, is kind of ‘gone fishin” during this month. The way I relax is to go on ‘manage’ mode. I just respond to orders, I don’t work on long term projects or new products, and I take a ‘Digital Shabat’ from Friday to Saturday evenings.

Megan’s Answer:

holiday cards for jess

Holiday cards

This year is a little unusual for me because I’m moving to a new state the first week of January.  I had intended to curl up on the couch, eat chocolate, and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the last week of December.  Instead, I’ll be packing all of my possessions into boxes.  As such, my shop will be in vacation mode from December 24th until the day when I unpack my printer and get wifi set up in my new apartment, which is hopefully the 7th of January.  It’s longer than I want to be in vacation mode but there’s no way round it.  The last thing I want to do is let my customers down by not shipping their goodies in time.  So for my sake, please enjoy your holiday season.  Even if you have family overstaying their visit, at least you don’t have family overstaying their visit whilst trying to get your possessions (including the couch they’re sitting on) into a moving crate.  (Yes, that will be me.)

How about you?  How are you going to celebrate the last week of December?

How to Use Storytelling to Help Customers Connect with Your Brand

telling a story

I recently completed a custom piece for a friend of mine from college.

It was a gift for her grandmother’s birthday. After she gave her grandmother the gift, she sent me a picture of her grandmother’s reaction upon opening it and a bit of a story about why she asked me to make the piece and what her grandmother shared with her after receiving the piece. It was a truly personal and memorable story and it really made me so happy to think I had a small role in that.

Notice how I didn’t have any connection to the piece until after I heard the story?

I do custom pieces all the time, and I love them. But most of the time I don’t get to hear the story behind them. This piece was just another custom until I heard the story.

This connection to the piece through the story works both ways.

Storytelling can help buyers feel a connection to your pieces as well – and that can promote an atmosphere for buying.

I have seen this discussed at length in the past three years: the idea that sharing a story can make your handmade item more enticing to buyers. It’s a simple idea that can go a long way.

My friend Kristin and I had a gallery showing together a couple of years ago where my wishbone stitch embroideries were paired with her colourful paintings.

We each gave out pieces what I like to call “story titles.” We each sold a handful of our pieces at the opening of our show and people repeatedly made comments to us about how they could relate to the pieces or connect with them somehow based on the story in the title and the memories that evoked for them. We were both extremely happy that people were able to find connections to our pieces and felt compelled to buy them. It was a really awesome thing.

There are lots of ways to “add story” to your products.

Here are some helpful articles to get you headed in the right direction!

{image from the Merriweather Council}


Brand Your Craft Banner Wide Final

Want more help to craft a compelling brand that connects with your Ideal Customer, and helps them fall in love with your business?

Enrol in our self-study eCourse, Brand Your Craft – available now!

Click here to find out more.

Small Success Stories ~ August Edition

Every other week we share the success stories of full-time makers but Jess and I wanted to make sure we were also celebrating your successes!  So every month we’re hoping to feature a few Create & Thrive readers who have had a recent success story of their own.  We had some wonderful feedback last month with our first installment of Small Success Stories so we’re doing it again.  Read on to see what your fellow Create & Thrive readers have achieved lately.

Jennifer’s Small Success:

Pozible cover image

This week I reached my funding target on Pozible meaning I now have the funds to publish my first illustrated book! In my small business/world this is a huge thing but I guess it’s small in the grand scheme of things.

You can see Jennifer’s project funded by Pozible HERE and more of her work online at http://www.redparka.com.au/.

Viktorija’s Small Success:

This is my first week of a freelance adventure, so excited! Bye-bye day job hello the creative unknown!
I am very excited about this change and made lots of new goodies to celebrate. Necklaces, earrings and totes.

Viktojia, the owner of AndSmile, also got featured on Crafty magazine’s blog about her big step into self-employment.  You will love the interview (This site/resource is no longer available)!

Grace’s Small Success:


I was approached by a local lady who is organizing a workshop called “Suicide risk in Depression and Anxiety” and I was thrilled to tell her that Papier Mouse Designs is more than happy to create all design items for her for no charge. Now she has sent some more business my way. Karma is good.

Lora’s Small Success:


I am thrilled to say I got invited to showcase in a MAD Gallery for our big Downtown Gallery Crawl. I’ll be showcasing a beautiful 5 ft wide copper and coin angel I created from salvaged copper gutter and pennies.  My work has gone from small jewelry pieces to large metal art. I am thrilled to be able to create and share my work! I never dreamed it would grow this big! And now I know there is no end to what you can achieve with LOTS of determination, imagination and supportive people!

You see more of Lora’s work at her Etsy shop: Centsations  (This site/resource is no longer available).

Lila’s Small Success:


Lila, the maker behind Lingering Daydreams, took a big step last month and hired a product photographer to shoot her products.  Personally, I think her Etsy shop looks amazing now!  Take a peek yourself HERE.

Fiona’s Small Success:

I am Fiona from Hung Up On Agnes (This site/resource is no longer available) and I received my first custom order today! It’s been so lovely chatting with this friendly customer and I am thrilled to have received a custom order from her. As I was excitedly whipping up a gift for her to go with her purchase, I have stumbled upon a new product line that I have starting working on and hope to have in store soon. Double yay day!

Imogen’s Small Success:


My small success was realising if there is no clear divide between my ‘work’ time and my ‘own’ time and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! When I quit my job a couple of months ago to focus on my handmade business I thought one of the most important parts would be the balance between turning off the computer/ putting down the craft supplies and having a social life/ seeing my husband/ relaxing.. that at a certain time of day, every day. I should stop. After reading a post from Paid to Exist last week where they mention the faster you realise there is no divide the faster you will succeed, the happier I’ve been. I make the things I make because I enjoy it, I enjoy “working” in my spare time, and I know when I need a break, a predesignated divide (at this point in the business anyway) isn’t necessary! Yes of course I would like to succeed, but I still enjoy it enough to want to do it as a job and as a hobby because it is fun.

You can find more of Imogen’s work at Imogen Wilson Jewelry.

Linda’s Small Success:


I create jewelry and specialize in Jewish jewelry and Jewish women’s headcoverings (kippot).  Recently, I had a feature in an online publication: WE Magazine for Women. It’s exciting!

You can find more of Linda’s work online at: Linda B’s Jewelry.


***Want to be featured in our next Small Success Stories feature?  Email me at megan@createandthrive.com and tell me what we get to celebrate!  I promise to eat a piece of chocolate cake for every success you have.  (I don’t think my boyfriend will object to always having cake in the fridge.)***

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