Your Creative Business will Always be a Work in Progress

work in progress


This whole running a creative business thing sometimes feels like a never-ending work in progress… that we’re never ‘finished’. But is this a bad thing?

Let me give you a little tip.

You will never finish.

You will never be done and you will never reach perfection.

But this is ok! It is more than ok because no one ever does. You, your life, relationships and your creative biz are all works in progress.

It really is all about the journey. This is why you need to enjoy every moment of your creative career. The downs are as important as the ups and the goals once reached will leave the space for more goals.

Your biz is forever evolving and this is a wonderful part of being your own boss. Watching your business grow and evolve is rewarding.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to this evolution in order to truly embrace and understand the rewards of your business.


1. Reflection

Take a moment to remember when you first started.

Did you really think you would be where you are now? Are you surprised by what you have achieved? I certainly hope you are.

It is so easy to get caught up in the every day challenges that we face as creative business owners that we forget to stand back and really check our progress.


2. Exploration

You are not lost. You are never lost. You are exploring, discovering and learning.

If you find yourself somewhere unexpected or unplanned it means you are forging a new and exciting track in your business. This is an important idea to remember. Walk forward with confidence and trust the natural path your creative business leads you on.




3. Expectation

There is a constant pressure felt by creative people to please others.

You obviously want to please people. Your family, friends and customers are all very important – but you need to remember you are doing this for yourself.

Expectation can sometimes be a burden. If at any point you feel you cannot deliver as expected you need to be honest with yourself. Your life is here to be lived by you. If you need a holiday, take it. If you don’t want to undertake a commission, don’t. You need your business to work for you and not the other way around.

Use your brain here to weigh up options instead of becoming a slave to the expectations of others.


4. Possibility

As a creative business owner you will have a mind buzzing with ideas.

A whole bunch of possibilities will be there, always.

This is a wonderful thing! You can choose which possibilities to make realities, which ones to discard, and which ones to hold on to for later.

Do not try and do everything at once – but know you have the freedom to work with all possibilities and you have the ability to create more along the way.




If you write a list of everything you need to do to succeed in your creative biz, and you ticked them off one by one until you got to the end would you have a perfect business?

No. By the time you finish that list there would be an entirely new list!

It may be more precise, it may be more thorough but it still won’t get you to the finish line. Just ticking off tasks is no way to enjoy your business.

Love what you do as you do it – not just when you finish – and you will forever be content.

5 Ways to Ensure Clear Communication with your Customers

clear customer communication

Thinking of our art as a business can be a challenge for some of us.

While we may be experts in our craft, we are often still learning many of the aspects of running a business – especially customer service.

It is super important to protect ourselves and our businesses. We need to keep our reputation intact. We need to be organised enough to avoid mishaps. And we need to make sure us and our customer are 100% on the same page about their order.

It’s such a compliment when someone wants to buy our work or commission a custom order or supply their retail outlet, but we can’t let emotion lead us to making a poor business decision.

As creatives we often think with our hearts first – but it is important to remember these 5 steps in order to keep your business mind ticking away when it comes to customer communication.


1. Keep and Save

Emails, sales, conversations, whatever has transpired between you and a customer needs to be kept or taken note of. It becomes a resource for fact checking, confirming details or even just contact details. Keep everything on file for a certain amount of time to ensure you have all information available to you if needed.

Action tip:  Keep a general folder on your computer/in your email program for all customer communications and individual ones for each commission. That way any conversations will be easy to find.


2. Get it in Writing

So your customer wants you to make 100 of an item? Get them to email or write the figure down so that you have it on paper.

It is so easy to confuse quantities or dollar amounts. We all mumble sometimes or hear wrong. Be sure to avoid any misunderstandings.

Action tip: After you have had a phone or face to face discussion regarding an order, a commission or a sale, send them an email outlining the details. That way they can reply with a yay or a nay and you know you are on the same page.


3. Always Ask

If you are unsure, ask. No one will ever be annoyed that you want to confirm details. This is just you making sure you can deliver on exactly what is wanted.

Keep communication channels open at all times, build the relationship and enjoy the customer relationship.

Action tip: Keep your customer in the know at all times, that way if they have a question they can askwhenever required. Share photos of progress on social media (unless of course it is private), email photos to them, give them a call. This way there will never be any surprises.


4. Don’t Over-Commit

Work out realistic time frames, costs and materials. Over-committing will only cause stress and pressure to both us and ultimately customer. If you over promise you will never get anything done!

Action tip: Have a commissions schedule. Depending on what you make they can take hours, days or weeks so have some rules about how many you do a month, or even year. Customers won’t mind being on a waiting list if they are serious.



5. Avoid Disputes

If you follow all of the above tips you shouldn’t end up in any disputes. If you do – fix it immediately.

You don’t want to have to leave a bad taste with anyone when it comes to your business. There will always be someone unhappy – we can’t go our whole lives avoiding conflict but a quick resolution is best. Prioritise sorting disputes. Letting them drag on is stressful. You want to be always moving forward in your creative business.

Action tip: If you get a complaint, first things first – stop and think. Don’t jump straight back into it without taking a moment to look at it from both points of view. Draft correspondence and check before sending. We all know that non verbal communication can often be taken in the wrong tone.


A Guide to Taking Creative Commissions + Custom Orders






If you run a creative business it is highly likely that you have been asked to complete a custom item for someone.

It is an exhilarating feeling when you are asked and it is easy to jump straight in with all of your enthusiasm. It is a wonderful thing to find a customer willing to put the time, money, and trust into what you love.

However, there are a lot of potential pitfalls for the new maker. In order to make the experience smooth, professional, and enjoyable for both you and your customer, there are a number of important steps to the process that you need to consider.


The Vision

Often a customer will be inspired by what you make. It may be the materials, colours, design, or respect for your craft. Being commissioned to create for someone is an honour.

A possible hurdle is, of course, the vision. What the customer sees in their mind and explains to you will never be exactly the same as what you see and how you hear their explanation. If it is a colour change for example it is much easier to discuss. A whole new design can be very difficult.

It’s important to get the vision locked down into reality as much as you can before you start making. This might mean sketches, dimensions, exact raw materials, etc.


The Commitment

Always be realistic with your ability. Don’t make any promises you may not be able to keep. The final plans must be achievable.

How much time will it take? (It is very easy to underestimate this!) Can you source the materials? There is lots to think about so ensure you are honest with your customer about these aspects.


The Deposit

Once the details are decided it is very important to ask for a deposit prior to starting work.

Depending on your craft this can be any amount up to 50% of the agreed sale price. The purpose of this deposit is to cover the cost of materials and the bulk of your time.

It should be agreed that this deposit is non refundable.

You need to cover your costs regardless of the outcome. You may lose contact, they may change their minds, they may be unhappy or they may never make the final payment. This deposit covers you and your business from any loss.

I know this may sound harsh but it is a smart business decision and the right customer will understand that. The payment of the deposit also lets you know they are serious about the purchase which is wonderful news, and allows you to go ahead with the commission.



The Contract

This does not need to be a largely detailed or legal document.

The purpose of this is to outline the basic details that both you and the customer agree on.

Price, timeline, design details, quantity, size, deposit details are all great examples of basic policies to be included in an agreement. Having all these details in black and white prevents any possible confusion during the process.


The Communication

Communication is very important. The customer will be anticipating the completion and so keeping them updated through the process is vital to keeping them happy, cared for, and engaged.

It’s also exciting to be able to share the progress. Email some photos and really share the experience. Importantly if you need to change anything, or you need a little more time always let your customer know in advance.


The Delivery

One of the most exciting moments of your creative biz is when you finish a commission.

Usually it comes with mixed emotions of excitement and nerves as you doubt yourself (as most creatives do in this part of the process!) while also feeling proud.

Make sure you collect remaining payment as written in your agreement prior to delivery, deliver with love and care, and of course celebrate your achievement!

Custom orders can result in a time-consuming and challenging process, but if done right it is a very rewarding aspect to your creative business.

How to Create an Efficient Workspace






Running your creative biz from home sounds like it comes with plenty of ease, joy, and freedom.

In truth, it takes even more determination, self motivation, and organisational skill to work from home than from a traditional workplace. Working from a spare room, shed, workshop, or even the dining room table can create a tug-of-war struggle between work and the rest of your life.

One of the biggest motivation and inspiration killers is a messy, cluttered, busy, or disorganised workspace.

So to welcome in the new year a reorganisation of your workspace can be a great beginning!

Here are 5 elements of the process that will help you get your workspace ready for a new year of business.


1. Purge

First and foremost, a purge us necessary in order to make way for the new planned projects, de-clutter what you no longer use, clean up your email inbox, finish off any book work, and tie up any loose ends. This is a good time to reach for the too-hard basket also (I’m sure we all have one of these!).

Once this is done you will have the physical space and mental clarity for doing what you love, and you’ll be running your creative business with more efficiency.


2. Allocate

It can be beneficial when creating an efficient workspace to allocate space to different aspects of your work. Have a space dedicated to your book work or your new project can create an efficiency when moving between tasks.

Of course, the smaller the space the harder it can be, but just a little bit of allocation and organisation in this area can go a long way.


3. Comfort

Don’t forget to look after yourself! What do you love that can be included in your workspace? A teapot and selection of teas, a bowl of fresh fruit, a bottle of Pinot Noir close by for when you work late, a radio, or a space for your furry friend.

These are just little examples that you can use to incorporate comfort into your workspace. Make it a happy place that you want to be in as often as possible. Bring a little home into the “office”.




4. Decorate

This is something you should always think about. Take pride in your space no matter how big or small.

Pick fresh flowers, grow some indoor plants, put up some of your favourite photos/prints/art, burn a candle, and create an inspirational pin board. Make your creative space inspirational and a joy to inhabit – and you’ll not only enjoy your time there more, you’ll also be inspired by the beautiful things around you.


5. Tidy

Having a de-cluttered, organised, comfortable, and beautiful space is a wonderful thing (though for creative people it is much easier said than done!). Our busy schedules, late nights, family commitments, and unstoppable minds mean a workspace rarely stays tidy for long.

To battle this, try as often as possible to finish a work day on a high note by doing a quick desk clean up and materials put-away.

Just 5 minutes as you finish up for the day will make a huge impact and will help stop the space become unmanageable.

Planning for Perseverance

Perseverance and Navigating Obstacles


Planning for perseverance is as easy as taking a few moments to think about what you would do if you hit a brick wall in your biz.

Imagine scenarios in your creative business that could occur at some point and know how to react so you don’t hit panic when something doesn’t go to plan.

Because, to be honest, it rarely ever does!

Below are five things to consider as ways of helping yourself persevere when all seems lost.

I can confidently say that ALL people who start a creative business will need perseverance at the top of their skills list.


How to Avoid a Brick Wall


1. Focusing on the end goal is the best way to persevere. It is so easy to get lost and lose sight of the reasons you started your creative journey.

Having a clear picture of your end goal while keeping in mind that there will always be obstacles and detours will help you from feeling dread when something doesn’t work as expected.


2. Recognising that there will be obstacles is important… but so is actually recognising one when it arises and facing it head-on. Sometimes a change off-course can feel like a huge burden or an end to your dream.

Take a moment to feel the emotions, recognise that what is in front of you is not the end of your creative career but instead, just an obstacle or a detour on your journey. The path to success is not straight and smooth.


3. There will always be another way! There are always alternatives to choose.

Family, finances, health, and weather will constantly affect your creative business. You have minimal control over these external influences so learn to swing with the punches. You will find a way if you really want to.


4. Sometimes these obstacles are easy to work with and a quick decision will solve it. Other times there will be obstacles that seem impossible. Ones that make you tired, restless and fearful for the future of your creative business.

Always take the time to think back to why you started on the creative journey and what you set out to achieve. If you need to take a break, it will still be there! Find your inner strength to make it through these times and come out the other side even more determined than before.


5. Really this is one of the most important factors. Staying healthy in mind and body through the good times will give you strength to make it through the harder times.

Take time for yourself, nurture your relationships, rest, drink tea, practice yoga, meditate or whatever it is that keeps you feeling your best and you will find the hard times don’t have to be as hard as they may seem.



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