This is what’s holding you back from succeeding.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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…

How to Know When You’re Ready to Get Help


As makers, we’re all pros at DIY when it comes to our product but that mindset of “I can do it all myself” needs to be altered when it comes to our business.

You know how it’s better to be a master of one trade than a jack of all of them?  It’s true when it comes to running your business as well.  You only have so much time in the day and if you have to divide it between making, answering emails, writing blog posts, packaging, shipping, tweeting, and a hundred other things, you hardly make any headway in your business.

You spend so much time dealing with the issues of right now that you can’t make any moves for the future.

And guess what, it’s only by looking ahead that you can expand your business and its profits.

I know it’s hard for you to even THINK about letting someone else take over some of your tasks.  Little voices pop into your head telling you things like:

  • “They won’t connect with my customers like I do.”

  • “They can’t package as well as me.”

  • “They’ll learn all of my secrets.”

  • “I can’t afford an assistant.”

I hope those all sound a bit silly to you too but let’s tackle them some more.


“They won’t connect with my customers like I do.”

If you’re worried about letting someone else answer your general work emails, think of this: What do your customers truly value from your business?  I would put big odds on it being the thought and effort you put into your product and NOT your name at the bottom of your emails.  Having someone take care of general emails frees up a ton of time and your customers will see you as a truly thriving business.  For example, when you contact Kari Chapin, the awesome writer of Handmade Marketplace, you don’t expect her to answer.  She’s too busy collecting stories and advice for her next book!


“They can’t package as well as me.”

Unless you compete in those holiday wrapping contests, it’s not too hard to train someone to package (and mail) your products.  I’m also betting you’d rather be making new creations than standing in line at the post office, especially during the holidays.


“They’ll learn all of my secrets.”

This is only EVER a problem if you’re a big company like Nike and someone discovers your new sweat-wicking fabric formula.  As a small business owner, it’s not just WHAT you make but what you put into it that draws in customers.  They buy because of your passion, your personality, your voice.  That is something that can’t be copied.  And if your product doesn’t have any of those, chances are YOU are the making-secret-stealer or a trend follower.


“I can’t afford an assistant.”

I want you to think about this in a different way.  If you always look at hiring an assistant in terms of, “It’s going to cost me $100 a month to have someone help me,” you will never hire anyone.  If, instead, you think, “Having someone help me would allow me to ____________,” you’ll begin to see how much money you will MAKE thanks to an assistant.  If you didn’t have to spend an hour a day checking emails, packaging orders, and driving to the post office, what could you do with that hour?  Would you create a new line?  Would you finally have time to write a newsletter for all those people on your mailing list still waiting to hear from you?  Would you have time to pitch wholesale shops?

I’ve worked for several people as a virtual assistant and the one thing they all have in common is that their businesses exploded as soon as I started handling their basic tasks.


How do you know when you’re ready to move from doing it all yourself to asking for help?

If you are never getting ahead in your tasks, despite working from sun up to sun down, you’re ready.  If you haven’t been able to expand your business or add new revenue streams in the past six months, you’re ready.  And if you want to spend less time doing ‘busyness’ work and more time creating, then you’re absolutely ready to reach out for the help that will help you grow and mett your goals in 2013.

{image by Toma Estudio}

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

1-when is it a business final

{Comic Book Jess says ‘Hmmm…’ – photo by smilebooth Australia, edited by moi} 

This week’s question is from Grace, who writes:

How do you take that first step from being a hobbyist to a business owner? i.e …How do you know when the time is right? and What knowledge do you feel is essential before starting your biz (there’s gotta be more than just being ‘crafty’ to succeed).

I love this question – I think it’s one that a lot of people struggle with.

When is the right time? What do I need to know? When do I make the leap from hobby to business?

The short answer?

When you make the decision.

The long answer?

I don’t care how long you’ve been doing your craft as a hobby. It might be 10 years, or you might have started yesterday. I don’t care how much you know about ‘business’. You could have an MBA, or, you could be like me when I started and know pretty much nothing.

Your craft hobby turns into a business when you start treating it like a business.

When you decide to take it – and yourself – seriously.

When you start keeping track of your numbers – your income and expenditure.

When you start thinking like a businesswoman.

When you believe in yourself and your product.

When you start looking at your products from the perspective of your customer, rather than just yourself.

When you attack the Google machine with any question that comes up, and you’ll be dammed if you stop before you find a solution.

When you start to get strategic.

When you analyse your prices to see if you’re making a profit.

When you say ‘I have a business’ to yourself, your family, and that dude you meet in the line at the coffee shop (you gave him your beautiful, professionally printed (or handmade if you’re in letterpress) business card, yeah?).

That is when you have taken the leap.

It’s a leap of faith, to be sure. You don’t know if you’ll ‘succeed’ (whatever that means to you). You don’t know if you’ll ever be able to make enough to quit your job. You don’t know that you’ll still want to be doing this in a year/5 years/10 years time.

You know what? None of us do when we start out. I certainly didn’t. I still don’t know if this is what I’ll be doing in 5 years time. Do I let that hold me back from putting my heart and soul into what I do?


None of that matters.

It’s enough that you want to do it NOW. That you want to throw yourself into this crazy dream and make it happen.

No-one is going to make it happen for you.

You have the power. You have the control. You have the choice.

It’s a business when you say it’s a business.


Need help making the transition from hobby to business? Want to set yourself up for success from the get-go? Come join us and I’ll teach you how to Set Up Shop and get it right, right from the start.

C&T Q&A – How did you choose your business name? {Share your Story}

This week’s question is from Karen, who writes:

My question is how do people arrive at their business name? I love yours, Epheriell. It’s a beautiful word, but why not Jess Van Den Jewellery Design? Why and how do people choose what they choose? It’s such an important first impression, that one word or phrase chosen, or to put their whole personal name out there. How do you know what’s the right choice for you?

Also, the boring bit, the legalities of it all. I believe using your name doesn’t require registration, but put ‘Jewellery Designer’ after it, and it becomes a business name, and will cost a fee. It’s so hard to know what your business will look like in 6, 12 months time. I suppose one just has to hope the name will still fit.

I bounce a round a bit with this question Jess, but I would love it if you and your posse would have a go at tackling it.

X Karen

I LOVE this question, and its one that I often wonder about, too.

business name

{photo of Jess by Paul Harris of see saw photography}

Let’s break it down and start with the first question – where does a name come from?

Funnily enough, as often as I get asked about the genesis of the name Epheriell, I’ve never written about it before.

In my case, the word ‘Epheriell’ is one I made up over 10 years ago now. I used to use it as my online handle for many years… and when I started my jewellery business, it just seemed natural that I use it as my brand name.

So, what does it mean? Epheriell is a mash-up of the words ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Ethereal’ – with the addition of the ‘ell’ on the word, which came from a book I was reading at the time. I believe it was one of Jostein Gaarder’s books, and it had angels in it. I noticed that all the angels’ names ended with the ‘ell’ sound, and thought it was pretty.

And so, the word Epheriell was born!

Honestly, at the time, I didn’t put a great deal of thought into using this as my business name. It just ‘fit’. I certainly didn’t consider using my name, as I was only a hobbyist at the time, playing around. In hindsight, perhaps it would have been a good move, but on the up-side, my name is now still free to represent me and all that I am and do, rather than being tied to my jewellery brand exclusively.

As for the second part – the legalities – alas, I can’t give advice on that, because every country and every state will have different laws and regulations surrounding business names, so the best thing to do would be to search online for the business regulations in your area, or talk to a lawyer or someone else who has the qualifications to tell you what you need to do.

So, where did YOUR business name come from? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

4 Rules to Follow When Considering a New Venue for your Wares


{image by BlueBerry Ash textiles}

With so many new websites appearing, it is very tempting to open online shop in each and one of them.

More exposure, new customers and better promotions are promised to us. Moreover, a shiny new front, more functions and less fees – it is all oh so inviting!

After I had been invited to sell on 3 new websites that appeared recently, I started wondering… should I spread my efforts on many shops in the hope of more exposure; or should I pick one or two and promote them like crazy?

How many shops is enough and how many is too many? Which one do you promote first? Will your customers get confused when you send them in 6 different places?  So many questions!

I admit, I am writing about this not only because I’ve been asking this question of myself (and of Mr. Plushkin and my family) but because I was caught in this “trap” of too many online shops before…

I found that yes, it is confusing for the customers when there are too many shops available to buy from.

It is better to pick one shop (unless you have your own website) as a main one that will get linked to in your newsletter and your blog.

I am sure that each and every one of the online marketplaces that are available are  great in their own way, but how do I choose just one or two that are right? It feels like I am missing out on something wonderful by eliminating the other shops.

How do you choose an online shop?

4 rules to follow venue

I have 4 basic rules that I apply when considering opening a new one:

1. Easy to use with helpful functions. For me, it`s important for the shop to be easy to use! It’s actually vital as, with over 100 items in the shop, when listing an item takes too long, it just won’t work.

If there are too many boxes to tick with messy layout, I give up fairly quickly. Moreover, I am now looking at how many functions website offers.

Is it easy to apply coupons so you can encourage customers to return? Does it give you an opportunity to list different colours/sizes in one listing? Does a new shop offers something to your customers that the current shop doesn’t?

2. Fees. There are websites that charge for listings plus take a fee. Alternatively, there are website that charge only commission on sale.

I have heard an opinion that websites that charge only commission work better as they are more interested in you actually selling your creation. I am not sure myself as the one commission might be higher then listing fee+sale fee combined.

Get you calculator out and write down how much it will cost you to list and sell the best sellers on different websites.

3. Traffic. Do they have a good google rating? How long have they being around? Check out the shops that sell through the website similar items, how many have they sold?

4. Advertising. Have you seen this website contantly advertising in the magazines/websites/blogs that your target market reads?

The rule of finding a perfect shop for what you make is simple – try.

It will cost a bit in time and fees but if you apply those 4 rules, it will eliminate the ones that are not worthy of the time and effort. Do your research and give it a go. But don’t be afraid to close the shop and walk away thinking that it might take of in a month or two, maybe Christmas…..

Test the shop

Try not to promote it yourself via your media at first.

List items actively, make sure your tags and wording is right so you can be easily found in the search, buy some advertisement on the website without introducing your customers to it and see how it performs.

Look at your stats/analytics and see what’s happening with the traffic and where it comes from. It’s obvious if you will start promoting the new shop via media you use, traffic will come – but does the website that you are paying for gives you more exposure and attract new customers?

Besides, every maker needs to remember – you creations are valuable, you need to believe in that.

You worked hard to create your reputation and customer base and you are bringing it all with you when you open a shop on another website. I hear you saying: “Having a shop open that charges only commissions doesn’t really cost me anything” but having a standing still shop doesn’t really make your brand looks great as well as take into account all that time you have to spend taking listings off that were sold on the other website. Close it, I would say!

I would love to know  how many online shops you are running at the moment? Are you happy with the online shops that you currently have? 

Pin It on Pinterest