No matter what you make, you’re also a designer. So why not learn from the best designers to see how to connect with your customers?
What are you now inspired to create?
No matter what you make, you’re also a designer. So why not learn from the best designers to see how to connect with your customers?
What are you now inspired to create?
I am SO excited to finally be getting this course out into the world! The idea for it came mid-last year when I’d run the first session of Set Up Shop. The feedback from students was so positive – they loved the course content and the delivery structure and especially the Facebook group with daily promps. After that course finished, some got in touch to ask me ‘what’s next’?
Well, I know it’s been a while, but SHIFT is ‘what’s next’.
Honestly, the idea for a ‘follow-up’ style course to Set Up Shop – a course for those who are past the ‘beginner’ stage and are more in the ‘intermediate’ stage of business – has been percolating for a long time. But, I had so many things I wanted to address – not to mention this last year has been the best ever for Epheriell, which has kept Nick and I pretty darn busy – that I just couldn’t grasp exactly what I wanted to offer and how to bring it all together.
For me, a course has to have a name, a concept, before I can move forward with it. So, when the word ‘shift’ popped into my head a few months back, I could have shouted ‘eureka!’.
From there, the concept of shifting gears – and hence, a virtual road trip – came into being, and the course rapidly formed itself in my brain.
You’ve got the business, you’ve got the basics sorted: you’ve made some sales, connected with customers, worked hard to get to where you are. You’re already convinced that you CAN make it happen – but you feel a little stagnant, a little lost, a little overwhelmed.
You’re not quite sure that that your car is on the right road, heading to the right destination. You’re not sure which route to take – or which highlights to stop at on the way.
You know you can’t do and see everything on your journey – so you need help working through the process of getting clear on which sights are the right ones for you, and how to fit them into your schedule.
Heck, honestly, you might not even be sure you’ve got the right car for the trip!
It’s broken up into 4 weeks of lessons that take you through 4 aspects of your business.
Week 1: The Road Map – Where you’re going.
We focus on the ‘bigger picture’ – things like your core values, business/brand story, niche clarification, and business planning.
Week 2: Packing the Car – Have you got the right stuff for your trip?
We look at the nitty-gritty details of your business – do you have the right products/branding/copy/tools/pricing/etc. in place to move in the right direction and tell your story clearly to reach your ideal customers?
Week 3: The Trip Plan – How are you going to spend your time?
This week’s all about time management. Do you have the right systems/processes/support structure in place to maintain and grow your business the way you want to?
Week 4: The Slideshow – How are you going to tell your story to those who want to hear it?
Marketing is what this week is all about. By this point, you’ve crystallised your story, revamped your time management, gotten the details right – so it’s time to get the word out in an intelligent, non-time-wasting and targeted fashion. We’re focussing on customer communication, PR, visual marketing, and giveaways with a lesson devoted to using Instagram strategically.
For more of a breakdown of the course, head to the course page here.
SHIFT is specifically geared for handmade business owners who sell primarily online. Alternatively, you do at least sell online, even if you focus on wholesale or markets. It will also be valuable for artists, designers, vintage sellers, OR those who have a creative service-based business.
Early bird registrations – those who sign up within the first 24 hours – also get a bonus – a copy of the ‘Break it Down: Get it Done’ business worksheets by Elle Roberts of Studio Exsto (who is one of the guest teachers in the course). These worksheets aim to help you break down big tasks into small, manageable steps to ensure you get them done.
Registration is open now, and closes Sunday the 31st of August at 9am AEST. (That’s Saturday night for those of you in the States + Canada.) The course kicks off September first and runs for the whole 30 days of the month.
If you’re joining us – see you in the course!
P.S. Past Set Up Shop students – make sure to check the SuS Facebook group before you buy!
P.P.S. If you have any questions about the course, I’m going to be holding a live Q&A chat on Google Hangouts on Wednesday 11am AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). I’ll be there for half an hour answering any questions you have about the course.
If you can’t make it at that time, please just leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll endeavour to answer them for you.
I’m so excited about this course – I’ve been thinking about it for over a year now. But it was only recently that it all came together in my mind, and now it’s ready for you!
I’ve envisioned it as kind of a ‘next step’ course after Set Up Shop. Not that it’s necessary to have taken Set Up Shop to do SHIFT – rather, it’s for those who are at the ‘next level up’ in their businesses.
When you’ve been in business for a while, you face a whole different set of challenges from beginner entrepreneurs.
These common roadblocks – and many, many more – are covered in SHIFT. I’ve drawn upon all the lessons, problems, successes and issues that I’ve personally encountered in my last 6 years running Epheriell (almost 5 of those running it full-time) to create a course that takes you on a 30-day virtual roadtrip from where you are to where you want your business to be.
And if you’re unclear on the ‘where you want to be part’? SHIFT will help you figure that out, too. The aim is to take you on a journey that addresses all the things that are so very easy to neglect when you’re so busy working ‘in’ the business. This course will get you working ‘on’ the business again – which is a crucial component of becoming successful and staying that way.
When I first launched Set Up Shop, I ran a competition to give away a spot – and it was fantastic! I got to hear from so many of you – telling us your stories, your challenges, and your dreams.
So – I decided to do the same thing for SHIFT!
(To find out what each level of membership gives you, pop on over to the SHIFT page here.)
1. To be eligible to win the Gold Membership, write a comment below, answering the question: Where do I need to make a shift in my business?
2. To be eligible to win the Silver Membership, share this giveaway on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus or Pinterest), using the tag #WinSHIFT, then leave a comment below telling me which social media you’ve shared it on. You can combine the two comments in one. You get one entry per social media you share on. There are sharing buttons at the end of this post for everything but Instagram to make this super-easy!
Entries are open world-wide, and close Sunday the 24th of August at 6pm AEST (that’s Australian Eastern Standard Time). The Silver winner will be chosen using random.org, but I will choose the Gold winner personally, based on your answer to the question above.
You and I have both heard people say it – heck, you might have said it yourself:
“Why would I pay for an e-course when I can just use Google to find the information I need for free?”
I am the QUEEN of ‘Google it’. When I started making jewellery, and selling it, I had very little knowledge of how to do either.
Most of what I’ve learnt since then, I have learnt by doing that very thing – Googling it and figuring it out through trial and error. It’s a good way to learn.
It’s also a VERY SLOW way learn.
I have also done courses (e-courses and in-person courses). My core silversmithing knowledge came from doing a short course in-person that taught me the basics. I’ve attended conferences, bought books/e-books, asked questions of those further along the path than me.
My point is – Googling it is a perfectly valid way to learn – particularly when you’re just trying to solve one very small, focussed problem.
That said – it’s not the smartest way to learn. Why? Primarily, because you don’t know what you don’t know.
When you buy an e-course (or a book, or attend a workshop, etc) you are NOT just buying the content. You are not just paying for the information you will receive.
Let’s talk a bit more about each.
This is what most people think they’re paying for – the content and nothing but the content. Wrong.
You are, of course, paying for the content. But you would be 100% correct in thinking that that very same content is absolutely available for free somewhere on the Internet. It is. Somewhere. In lots of different parts, phrased lots of different ways, from lots of different perspectives, in lots of different places.
It’s there, but YOU have to do the work of finding it, analysing it, trialling it to see if it actually works or is just rubbish, AND you might not even know what you’re looking for.
How can you learn something if you don’t even know you need to learn it?
Enter the other three things you are paying for if you buy an e-course.
When I undertook my third degree – a Bachelor of Education (yes, I’m either indecisive or I REALLY like learning) I had to study externally because I was living in a remote country town.
I did all the work by myself. Reading books, reading lecture notes, doing assignments, sitting exams in a room all by myself in the local community centre.
By the time I finished that degree, yes, I was a qualified teacher. I had done the pracs (thank goodness – actual real learning on-the-job!) and passed all my assignments and exams. The content was no different to what I would have learnt being an on-campus student.
But I feel like that degree was a HUGE waste of money. Why? Because of the experience.
Comparing that to my previous degrees, where I was on-campus, working with my classmates, making friends, learning from my peers, having actual interaction with my teachers… there was an enormous chasm between the two experiences. I honestly wonder what I was paying the university for – someone to mark my exams and assignments? Because apart from that, and them posting me the readings I needed at the beginning of semester, that was pretty much all the interaction I had with the university.
The experience matters.
When you consider doing an e-course, look at the experience you’ll be getting. Does it allow you to interact with your classmates? How will the content be delivered? Do you get actual feedback from your teacher – can you ask questions?
Choose a course that gives you the experience you want, as well as the content you need.
Imagine – instead of spending years stumbling around in dark caves, trying to find your way to the treasure hidden deep within the mountain, someone came along and gave you a light and a map. Not only that – they’d reached the treasure in the past, so they offered to actually take the journey with you and show you exactly where the treasure lay. All they asked in return was one piece of gold from your haul.
Would you turn them away… or would you throw your arms around them in immense gratitude? Yeah, me too – take me to the treasure, thanks!!
The time they have saved you is without value. It’s immeasurable. Every minute of our lives is precious – and not just because ‘time is money’. That’s a misnomer. Time is LIFE, and when you spend money on something, you’re exchanging a little slice of your life for it.
The question to ask yourself when you’re considering exchanging a little bit of your life for an e-course is – “Will the time I SAVE down the road outweigh the time I SPEND right now?”
The answer to that question is heavily dependent on the last part of our value equation.
This is possibly THE most important part of the equation.
Does your teacher have the knowledge and EXPERIENCE to teach you what you need to know in a way that you will find enjoyable, challenging, and truly useful?
This is where you really need to use your discretion. Because, as much as I, as a qualified and experienced teacher, HATE the phrase ‘those who can’t do, teach’ (ugh)… I have to also grudgingly admit that it’s sometimes true.
Especially online, where anyone can throw up an e-course and make any claims they like, with no qualifications or gatekeepers to ensure they’re telling the truth… you need to make sure that you really trust your teacher.
Do your due diligence. What qualifications do they have? What experience do they have? Have they actually successfully DONE what they are promising to teach you?
In short – do they really know their stuff? Does what they teach come from a place of hard-won experience? Do they have an insider’s perspective, or are they just regurgitating what they’ve learnt from others?
Think of it as a short apprenticeship. When you do an apprenticeship, you learn at the right hand of a master of their craft.
Is this person a master of their craft?
If they aren’t – go find someone who is. Someone who is generous, kind, positive, realistic, strong, and honest.
One small test for you to apply: if they tell you that achieving success will suddenly be guaranteed, fast, and/or easy if you just do their course – they’re lying.
Yes, it might help you learn vital information. It might give you invaluable insights. It might inspire you to reach new heights. It might save you a TON of time compared to working stuff out by yourself.
But you still have to apply what you learn. Success is in the application. YOU are the key.
You are the one who has to do the work. The hard, endless – but hopefully also awesome – work. No-one can give you a magic formula for success – because success looks different to everyone, and can be reached in so many different ways.
So – the next time you consider exchanging a bit of your life for an e-course, ask yourself: is the content something I need to learn, delivered in a time-saving format that will work for me, by someone who walks their talk?
If you want to get all these benefits, why not check out our courses? Set Up Shop if for those just getting started selling their craft online, and SHIFT is for those who’ve been in biz for a while, but need to take things up a gear.
A while back, I put out a call.
The other contributors and I share our own thoughts, experiences, and lessons learnt here on the blog every week. It’s all hard-won knowledge, because you know what?
We’re JUST like you.
We’re all indie makers. Solopreneurs. Learning as we go. Risk-takers. Dreamers. Do-ers. We don’t have all the answers. We haven’t figured it all out yet. We’re just sharing what we HAVE learnt, what we DO know to work – at least for us – because we want you to figure it out sooner than we did.
There is nothing extra-special or super-important about us that sets us apart from you. We’re all in the same boat.
With that in mind, I wanted to tap into the wealth of wisdom that exists here in the Create & Thrive community. So, a few weeks ago, I asked you:
And you answered!
Look out for many of these on our Instagram and Facebook page over the coming months – Megan E’s been hard at work turning your words of wisdom into inspiring and motivating shareable quotes! I’ve taken your comments from the previous post and broken them up into concise snippets of advice. Feel free to tweet and share these – just use the hashtag #CTWordsOfWisdom and link back to this post if you can!
Before we immerse ourselves in your wisdom, though, I wanted to extend an invitation.
This is not a static document.
I want YOU to share your tips, ideas, lessons learnt, aha moments with us in the comments. Let’s keep the bank of wisdom growing and flowing and help each other figure things out!
Making clear times to do your craft (especially if you’re doing it around work) will help ensure that it doesn’t take over your life. Make sure that you include pack up time into that too! ~ Macramake
Believe in yourself and your craft. After I quit my day job to follow my dream, people say to me, “What are you doing now that you don’t work?” Well actually, I do work. More than I ever did. Now I can proudly answer that question. “I’m a jewelry designer”. Don’t let people trivialize your work! Believe in who you are, your talent and your creations. Because no one else will believe it until you do. ~ Tracey Atkinson
Always have your “end game” in mind. Is what I’m doing today in line with how I envision my business down the road? Is the way I’m running my business scalable and sustainable long term and at a higher level? Can I make enough money doing my handmade business full time? ~ Cortney Nichols
Don’t stock up wanting to “save money” on items that you visualize you are going to need when your product “takes off”. Get the information you need to order, what you need in bulk, so that way when the time comes you can have it when you need it. Otherwise you will end up with a whole bunch of “stuff” that you may or may not use within your lifetime, because you are so over the product you were creating when you stocked up on that item. You tie up your money thinking you “save” and then you don’t have the working capital when you need it. ~ Miska Black
One thing I found I missed out on was as soon as I had a business name was not getting it set up in all the different social media options. Even if you aren’t using them to begin with, get registered and be consistent with your name. It will help with branding and customers being able to identify. Don’t do what I did and be ‘frightened’ of all the options out there. People use social media differently so you need to cover all the bases even if you don’t like them yourself! ~ Tricia
Just keep going but go like water in a stream. If you can’t move the rocks in your way, you have to be flexible to go around them. ~ Allison Dey Malacaria
Unless you are one of the very fortunate few to suddenly be “discovered” after making and listing a few items for sale, you have to really work hard to figure out who your customers are and then find them. Who you are, how you dance with the music of business is more telling of your future success than anything else. ~ Allison Dey Malacaria
Temper the initial passion for your biz. When I started I thought everyone would love it so I overbought and money I could have used for other things got tied up in inventory for years. ~ Wendi Unrein
Be careful who you get ideas from and pay attention to what you are needing/asking. When I started I got inundated with the “You should..” people with good ideas but not the ones I needed. That is very important. ~ Wendi Unrein
Show up, each and every day. Do something for your business every single day. ~ Barb Lieberman
Bookkeeping from day one. Real cost of each item, inventory, sales tax, sales, shipping, everything. If you don’t have the time to do it right now, today, you won’t ever find the time. The task grows exponentially if you do not do it as you go along. ~ Barb Lieberman
Research events before you do them. Not all handmade? Might not be a good fit. Talk to others who are vending about the event. Most are happy to share their opinions. ~ Barb Lieberman
Network! Find other handmade businesspeople and get together to commiserate and celebrate. ~ Barb Lieberman
Celebrate! Every sale. Every new lead. Every new product. ~ Barb Lieberman
Organize your workflow. Organize your packaging flow. Organize for events. Organize inventory. Don’t waste time looking for things. ~ Barb Lieberman
Ask questions. Try new things. ~ Barb Lieberman
Look for inspiration. Add new products or twists/improvements of your regular items now and then. Give customers a reason to come back. ~ Barb Lieberman
Say “I” when you talk about your business. Be your brand. ~ Barb Lieberman
Do not give away your products. Do not discount their value. Charge what they are worth. Place value on “handmade” and all it offers. ~ Barb Lieberman
Enjoy what you do. LOVE what you do. If you don’t, it’s a job. If you do, it’s a blessing. ~ Barb Lieberman
PLAN!!! What your long term plans are, what do you want out of this? When you are going to make, market, book keep, supply shop- organise your time. ~ Sue Bertozzo
Trust yourself to be capable of learning the skills you need as you go along. ~ Alison Comfort
Don’t be afraid of the many hats you will end up wearing as you grow your handmade business! ~ Alison Comfort
Start where you are, do your best, and don’t be afraid of stepping up to learn each new skill as you go. Your handmade business will grow organically, and you can grow along with it. ~ Alison Comfort
Make peace with the seasonality of your business. Your year will likely be dominated by the busy season and the slower season, so take advantage of each while not getting too attached. ~ Alison Comfort
Have what I call a ‘complete concept’ – a confirmed aesthetic, unique selling point, ideal customer profile and keyword collection. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil
Treat it like a real business with intent to profit, and to get used to that idea. And get used to the idea of doing it 24/7 for the first…. 10 years. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil
Having a set visual concept (brand) is incredibly important – it helps you figure out what to call yourself, how to design your calling cards and social media graphics, who your customer is, where to find them, how to sell to them, what kind of photos to have and how to make sure the stuff they’ll make is something that will actually sell. When you figure out those three facets, half the work is done for you. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil
You really need to love what you do. Not only because you will be doing it, taking about it, living it and breathing it for the rest of your days…but because your love for what you do needs to show in your product and also in how you present it to the world, to make it special. ~ Margeaux
Create systems that you can replicate & stick to them. Alter if needed but if you have to do it more than once: determine a way to make it consistent & efficient each time. ~ Robin Ritz
Enjoy the Process. “When we take care of the Process, the Product takes care of itself.” ~ Robin Ritz
Learn from ‘trials & errors’ and be persistence, tenacious & determined. Keep trying. ~ Robin Ritz
Be kind to yourself & give yourself credit for all your bravery, courage, effort and hutzpa. ~ Robin Ritz
Listen & Observe. Ask customers for feedback, find out what’s working & do more of that. ~ Robin Ritz
Trust your Intuition. Stay True to Yourself & remember the reason you began creating to begin with. ~ Robin Ritz
Really nut out whether you’re doing it as a hobby or business. ~ Jewel Divas Style
Decide if you have the time or energy to put into a business and the hours it will take and the energy it will suck out of you. ~ Jewel Divas Style
Do you have the ability to sell at markets, or don’t have any near you at all? ~ Jewel Divas Style
Is social media something you are already into or want to go into? Because you will need to, and then spend time updating and using it. ~ Jewel Divas Style
Embrace social media, if used correctly it will be a great friend. ~ Tania
Do you want to set up a website straight away, or start selling on shops like Madeit or Etsy? ~ Jewel Divas Style
Do you have the money for set up costs or will you have to hassle with bank loans? ~ Jewel Divas Style
Do you need to do short courses to learn about the aspects of running a business, or perfecting your craft? ~ Jewel Divas Style
Do you have any support system around you or are you doing it all yourself? ~ Jewel Divas Style
Maybe start of as a hobby for a year or two until you fully understand how it’s going to work… and then decide whether you want to turn it, (or it’s become successful enough to turn), into a business. ~ Jewel Divas Style
If you start a business you will need to register the name and get an ABN (or equivalent in your country) and make sure you put in a tax return even if you make NO money (something I was not told and did not know). ~ Jewel Divas Style
When you make a sale note it down in your ledger/ excel doc… and make sure you have a day set aside once a week, or once a month to jot down all your expenses for that period. It seems like hard work in the first couple of months but soon it will be second nature, and come tax time it will make life SO much easier. You may need to write down all the steps you need to take (and frequency you are going to do them, daily, weekly, monthly etc) and refer back to it until you get used to it… but you won’t regret it! ~ Imogen Wilson Jewellery
It’s bloody hard work!! ~ Tania
Good photos are everything. Take the time to ensure your products are photographed in the best way possible. This doesn’t have to mean spending money on professional photos. There are lots of great photo taking tips out there so read up on them and also make sure you edit photos after taking them. ~ Tania
In the beginning, there is so much work, so many new learning experiences, so many first offs and much time spent working out how its done… but once you do these all once, the second and third are easier and take less time. ~ Fluid Ink
Try not to judge your business by looking at others and competing with others that are in the middle (time wise) of theirs. Things take twice as long at the start and it feels like you are a mouse on a treadmill, but gradually things take less time once you have worked out systems. Feeling competitive or trying to compete with others in the same industry is heartbreaking and mentally exhausting. ~ Fluid Ink
Do your own thing and stick to it. If you get a random request for ‘do you do this’ if its out of your range and its going to take more time effort resources than you have, say no. In saying that, sometimes, accepting a customer directed request, can force you to experiment with something you hadn’t though of and can be refreshing (although often un-profitable!) ~ Fluid Ink
Pay yourself!!! Just because someone else is selling a similar product for cheap, doesn’t mean you have to! When I compared my sales to others that were selling cheaper, I found that I had MORE sales for HIGHER prices! Don’t short yourself. ~ Yarned Together
Don’t procrastinate! Just list your items on whichever platform you have chosen and let the buyers out there be the judge. Don’t go by what your family and friends say, just get it out into the marketplace and gauge the response. And if the marketplace does not respond well then what have you lost? A few listing fees and a bit of time and material. What have you gained? The knowledge to alter your product so it better suits your buyers ~ Leanne Hewens
Create a brand and carry it through all you do. ~ Barb Lieberman