[117] Round Table Q&A with Thrivers in Winchester, England


This week, I’m bringing you something special!

When I was in England recently, I had a Thriver meetup – and 5 wonderful makers (who also happen to be Thriver Circle members) came along. We spent 2 hours talking all things creative business!

In the first part of the session, each maker had 15 minutes to ask questions about their business. In the second session, I opened the floor to general handmade biz questions.

I did record everything, but alas, half of the first session didn’t save (darn technology!) so today I’m sharing with you that second session – the open Q&A.

We cover some important topics – from pricing to finding and marketing to your ideal customer, to collaboration and SEO. We packed a lot in this short session!

Enjoy, and a huge thanks to my guests for not only coming along and being awesome, but being willing for me to share this with the world via the podcast. Their names and details are below – do check them out!


My Guests


Quotes and Highlights:

  • Adela sought advice on marketing her card-making business for adults, Della by Design.
  • Try bundling and marketing kits for events – hen’s parties or girls’ craft nights in.
  • Market these event packages on the website separate from the individual kits to increase reach across audience markets.
  • Victoria, of Toria by Victoria Jowett, asked about establishing a creative partnership.
  • Approach your potential partner with a concrete proposal package.
  • Ensure that collaborative partnerships are formalised in a written contract.
  • “Remember, when you’re working with someone else it doesn’t just double your problems it multiplies them as there are two people wanting to get things done.” {Jess}
  • Jo, of Stitches to Treasure, enquired about how to establish a business focus.
  • “You don’t just have to have one group of target customers. You make different ways to engage the different groups.” {Jess}
  • Use a variety of marketing messages and customers will connect with the ones that resonate to them.
  • Suze, of Suze Harris Decorative Woodwork, sought advice on how to set an hourly rate.
  • Ensure you cover all of your time not just the making.
  • In the early stage of a business your time will be skewed towards learning lessons. This will shift as you gain experience.
  • “You can do all the maths you want with your pricing but at the end of the day it’s just the starting point. It’s not the end point.” {Jess}
  • Remember business is about experimentation. Take risks. (Jess shares an anecdote about product lines that have been trialed and retired)
  • Victoria is looking to boost her SEO.
  • Ensure photos are saved with key words and your business name in the title.
  • Mix up your key words and utilise the power of the Alt Tag.
  • Adela wants to run an Instagram Christmas promotion featuring styled images with objects from other businesses.
  • Try working with a different maker each day to increase reach and build relationships.


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[114] The Starving Artist Myth with Kerstin Pressler


Do you ever feel like you will never make any money from your art/craft… or, even worse, that you don’t really deserve to?

That it is somehow noble or the ‘right thing’ to not charge for what you create? That taking money for it will somehow devalue it?

You might be suffering from the myth of the ‘starving artist’. This idea that you can never make money from art, and that, in fact, there is something ‘bad’ about doing so.

In this episode, I chat with Kerstin Pressler, and we discuss this very myth – and why both of us are vehemently against it. Furthermore, we discuss ways that you CAN make money from your art or creative pursuits – right from the get-go. You don’t need to suffer for the sake of your art for years until you start making money from it!



Quotes & Highlights:

  • Kerstin Pressler is a fine artist living in Europe between Germany and the Netherlands.
  • A savvy businesswoman from the get-go Kerstin also runs ‘The Biz School for Creatives.
  • The Biz School for Creatives gives creative and makers the tools to make their art into a thriving business.
  • “I knew I didn’t want to struggle, so I needed to figure it out- I want to paint and create things, but I also knew that I needed to make money”- Kerstin Pressler
  • Kerstin started to figure out how to run a business while she was in art school, and as she kept learning she started to teach other students what she had learnt.
  • For the first few years, you can expect to spend 80 to 90 percent of your time working on the business side.
  • “It can be a choice- you don’t need to make a living from your art, but you need to accept that you will need to have a job, because you still need to eat!”- Kerstin
  • The starving artist myth: If you want to be a successful artist, you need to endure a long period of struggle in which you make little money because you’re so dedicated to your art and that is all that matters.
  • One way in which Kerstin supported herself was by being open to other revenue streams- teaching, smaller businesses and using social media (to name a few).
  • You don’t just need to finance your business- you need to finance your life, make sure your prices reflect this!”- Kerstin
  • Write down your price and see what the hourly rate is- you might find that for some pieces (especially those that are time consuming) that you are working under the minimum wage.
  • As artists sometimes we don’t charge what our work is worth because we are either being told that we, and our work is not good enough, or more commonly because you don’t have the confidence.
  • Think of two numbers (you’ll need to do the maths!)
    • In one year, how much money do I actually need to pay all my bills, including putting away savings, to survive?- this is your minimum.
    • How much would I need to be able to pay for all of the above, but be able to do things I want to do, for example: go on a holiday, buy new clothes- this number is your goal.
  • “Being a perfectionist is dangerous because it just means you never start, or never make a move because you’re so afraid of making a mistake”- Jess
  • If you wait until everything is perfect-it will never happen!”- Kerstin
  • There will always be a struggle, you just need to be confident that you can get through it.
  • Surround yourself with other creative and entrepreneurs that walk in similar shoes- people you can share the journey with who understand and don’t judge you.
  • “A doctor doesn’t need to explain himself, so (as an artist) why do I need to explain myself”- Kerstin
  • If you just commit to doing a lot of something, you’ll figure it out, simply because you have to.
  • Developing systems allows you to be able to hand that work off to someone giving you time to be creative.
  • You need to be willing to invest in order to grow.
  • You can find Kerstin and The Biz School for Creatives or connect with her on Facebook in the Sparkling Creative group.


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[54] 5 Ways to Increase Your Profits

Ep 54 - Create & Thrive Podcast

You could be eating away at your profits without even realising it. However, there are lots of ways you can make little tweaks to your handmade business in order to increase your profit margin.

I ran a week-long free course a few years back on this topic, and I thought it was time to bring these ideas to you in the podcast.

By following these five steps you will be able to cut out wasted time, reduce your expenses, and therefore increase your profit margin.

For more detail on each point, the links to the course lessons are in the show notes below.

If you have any other ideas for ways that we as makers can cut expenses and increase our profit margins – while still maintaining the integrity of our business – please share them below!


Ep 54 quote - Jess


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Streamline and organise
  • Disorganisation will eat into your profits.
  • Decrease the time spent to make the same amount of money by being streamlined in your work practices.
  • This includes organisation of your digital life.
  • Work out what you can do today to become more streamlined and organised.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas to create a more organised space.
  • 2. Plan your packaging.
  • ‘Packaging can put a huge dent into your profits.’ {Jess}
  • You need to make sure you account for your packaging costs in the cost of your postage or the item itself.
  • Make sure you always have what you need on hand and try and buy in bulk.
  • Don’t forget to add in the time it takes to package the item.
  • 3. Do your calculations and price your work properly.
  • ‘You don’t want to be leaving money on the table.’ {Jess}
  • It is important to get realistic about how much it is costing you to make your products.
  • You need to cover the time you spend marketing and planning not just making.
  • 4. Can you make it reproducible?
  • This is especially important when selling work online.
  • Can you recreate your item?
  • If you can it will increase your production capacity saving time on each item.
  • These items can then become your bread and butter range.
  • Make sure you keep detailed notes so you can easily reproduce work.
  • Think about minimising materials used across your product range.
  • 5. Buy in wholesale or buy in bulk.
  • This will usually involve planning ahead.
  • Do your research, are there things you can cut out?
  • ‘We always have to place our creative and business integrity above our profit margins.’ {Jess}
  • Only you can decide where you can reduce expenses and save money.


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Thinking about Crowdfunding your Creative Business Idea?





Thinking about Crowdfunding your Creative Business Idea-

After finding there was a lack of retail outlets in Northern Tasmania that suited my weaving and the high quality work of some other local makers, I decided to create one.

This required start-up funds that I just didn’t have. But with the generosity of local, interstate, and international supporters I managed to raise my goal in just 30 days.

I believe my supporters also saw the benefit of supporting local artists and artisans, and they put their faith in me to make it happen!

So, after running a successful crowdfunding campaign I have been asked this question many times: when is it a good idea to crowdfund your creative business idea?

And how do you go about doing it right?


Have a clear goal and reason for crowd funding.

As a creative I know what it is like to wonder at the idea of some extra cash floating around to help you on your creative journey. I have imagined the materials I could purchase, the equipment additions and the studio changes to make it more comfortable and functional. And yes, this would be wonderful!

But without a clear goal it is highly unlikely that your future investors will feel that same passion and need as you do.  There has to be a visible end goal to what you want to achieve.

So, rather than seeing crowd funding as a way to continue living the creative life you always dreamed of, you need to use it as a way of leveraging your business in ways that you didn’t think were possible.


People will believe in your cause if you do.

Potential investors need to see confidence in your proposal. No one wants to part with their cash for a ‘maybe’ or a ‘hopefully’.

Get someone to proof read your proposal. How do they feel about it? Does it bring up a feeling of involvement or emotion? You need to really tell a story. A positive one full of confidence and passion for what you want to achieve. There is no rushing it.


No pain no gain.

This old chestnut is completely true in this situation. It takes days to write a proposal that you are happy with, and once you click submit there will generally be an approval process.

Even when you get through all of this and once you hit the button to make your campaign live there are a million different feelings you will have the whole way through the campaign. Feelings of excitement, hope, self-doubt and anxiety just to name a few. You will feel like you are spamming your friends and family. You will worry that it won’t succeed.

The only advice I can give is to let these feeling happen but only act upon the positive ones. Keeping a ‘fake it until you make it’ view while the campaign is running will help instil that confidence you need to gain your funding.


image 2

What about rewards?

There are not many people out there that will just donate without hoping for something in return. Of course there will be people that do, and you need to make sure you thank them immensely!

You need to ensure that you can give rewards that will be appreciated (as well as ones you have time to complete!) along with a huge feeling that what they have contributed is so much more than a few dollars.

They have helped you branch out and reach higher in your creative career and you need to make sure they know this. Once people feel invested in your project you can only succeed.


So what if you don’t reach your goal?

What if the funding doesn’t happen? Ideally, you need to set your goal to be something you would like to do regardless of the funding.

If you truly believe in it then you need to keep working towards it. Without the funding smaller steps will usually need to be taken. What you need to remember is that through all your marketing of the campaign you have garnered so much support and awareness for what you do that you have already unknowingly taken a huge step in the right direction.

You never know who will read your story, who will discover you and the doors that can open through this.

And of course, just try and try again. Don’t give up and throw away all that hard work. Re-work the idea, the budget and the rewards. Talk to people you trust and people you know who will be honest.

Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back and for what you have achieved and then give it another red hot go.

[23] What is Profit, and Why is it Important?

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 23

When you’re starting out, making a profit might seem like a far off dream. But it’s that profit that will allow you to help you expand your business in the future.

I started my business as a hobby. That start-up phase was an expensive time, but because I was thinking of it as a hobby rather than a business, I was happy to just be recouping most of my expenses through my sales! Does that sound familiar?

Things start to get exciting when you make a little bit of money above the cost of your expenses. Real money.

Money that you can use to buy stuff above and beyond more materials or covering business costs. But you need to remember this:

Until you’re paying yourself a wage, you’re not making a profit.

The money you make above your expenses is your wage, and your profit is over and above this amount.

Profit helps you to grow your business. It allows you to hire staff, start a new side venture, or push the business in a new direction.

Listen in and see how you can turn your biz into a profitable one, and exactly why that is so important.

Love the show? You can show your support by:

  • Leaving a review on the C&T FB page.
  • Leaving a review on iTunes.
  • Donating a few dollars towards the costs of producing the pod.
  • Joining the Thriver Circle – without the members of the Circle, this podcast would not be possible.


Pay yourself

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Turnover is the amount of money you bring in.
  • Most people start off with just covering the costs of your business.
  • “Your wage is a core part of your business.”
  • Separate your business and personal expenses to make your bookkeeping easier.
  • Business bank accounts are really set up for bricks and mortar stores who need Eftpos and other merchant facilities.
  • If all of your income is going into your business account, pay yourself a wage into your personal account.
  • Set up a direct debit to pay into your personal account once you’re at the point that you know your business is at a certain point where you are confident that the money will always be there.
  • If you’re not ready for a direct debit, add a reminder to your calendar to work out your wage for that week/fortnight/month.
  • “The bit that is left over in my bank account, after wages and expenses, that’s profit.”
  • Think about what investments you should be making for you and your business.
  • If you haven’t got a business plan, it’s time to put something together.
  • “I don’t spend a lot of money on my business as I’m very frugal.”
  • Spend money on educating yourself for your business.
  • You might not be at the point where you’re making profit, don’t beat yourself up..
  • Think about profit so you’re ready to know what to do with it when you start making it
  • Unless you pay yourself, you won’t be able to do this forever.

What stage are you at in your business? Feel free to leave me your thoughts below!


Download/Listen to this Episode

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

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