WIN a Silver or Gold Membership to the New Create & Thrive E-Course: SHIFT







On September 1st, the new Create & Thrive e-course – SHIFT – kicks off!

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.

  • Rather than setting up your brand and website… you might realise that the ones you have aren’t clearly reflecting your business any more.
  • You might be realising that it’s time to share the load and get help in some way, but you’re not sure how.
  • You need to get smarter with your use of social media because you’re just too busy to keep up.
  • You need to re-examine what you’re offering and decide if you’re still going in the right direction for where you want to be.
  • You need to overhaul your time management strategies.

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!

This week, I’m giving away TWO Memberships: one Silver Membership and one Gold Membership

(To find out what each level of membership gives you, pop on over to the SHIFT page here.)



 To Enter

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, but I will choose the Gold winner personally, based on your answer to the question above.

Good luck!

Changing Direction without Burning Bridges

changing direction

This month is all about taking stock and when I sat down with my friend, Tara Gentile, to discuss my business, she showed me a few things that both terrified and inspired me.  While my business has been chugging along well, I slowly had been feeling that I was stagnating. I had hit a limit because what I wanted to create would not be bought by my current customers.

That terrified me!  Here I am creating things that I love but there’s nobody in my current network to appreciate them as much as they should be appreciated.  So what to do…. How do you change directions in your business without burning bridges?


While many people would just continue to trudge on with this stagnating business, I’ve decided to take the terrifying leap to split my business and leave behind my current clients. Now, I didn’t make that decision overnight but after many chats with friends, family, and business friends, I realized that by splitting things to focus on the market that includes my most valuable customers, I’m saving myself years of hardship and stress. It’s best to notice that your boat has a leak when you’re just a few feet from shore than when you’re out on the ocean, right?

Now, I know that many of you are not in this position but I think each of us needs to take a really clear look at where our business is now, where we want it to go, and the customers we currently have. Are they in sync? If yes, then you’re in a good spot. If you’re like me and people don’t appreciate (and buy repeatedly and excessively) the work that makes you feel most fulfilled, then it’s time to shake things up to grab the attention of the people who will appreciate (and buy) your best work.

Wondering how I plan to move my business to grab the attention of my most valuable customer? I’ll be splitting my business into two parts: fabric/embroidery and fine art. The fine art will only offer high-end, canvas prints that start at a price point that aligns me with the galleries I secretly (okay, not so secretly) want to see my artwork in. I’m ditching the paper prints that sell occasionally (because they’re too expensive for shoppers at craft fairs) and focusing on grabbing those art lovers who aren’t afraid to pay gallery prices. My embroidery patterns and kits will stay at their price point (and thus not burn any bridges) and that’s what I’ll be taking to trade shows and craft fairs because they’re already selling like crazy.


So how can you get to your most valuable customer if you’re not reaching them yet?Ask yourself these important questions:

  • Are you offering your product in THEIR price point? (My bet is they’re willing/wanting to pay a lot more than you assume they will.)
  • Are you selling your product at a place that THEY shop? (So for me, people who are art buyers/art snobs don’t buy at craft fairs. They buy at local galleries and online galleries.)
  • Can your product be improved to increase its value to better catch their eye? (For me, that’s making my prints on canvas instead of paper. No framing required and it looks like a million bucks on the wall.)

Changing your business structure to find your most valuable customers is scary but it’s so important if you want to make your business the best it can be.

These changes can eliminate a crisis where, after several years, you realize your profit has been slowly becoming less and less and less. So take action and take stock of your business now!

Is your business where you want it to be?  If not, what do you plan to do to fix that?  Let me know in the comments below. I’m happy to help and put my mind to work for you.


Avoid These Common Product Photo Mistakes and Make your Images Stand Out

jeff piece

It doesn’t take much time scanning online marketplaces for handmade items to see common mistakes in product photography.

I realise that since the items are handmade by very small business, perhaps just one person, that there is not a photo team to work on the sales images. But there are so many small things that can be improved, often at no cost to you, that would make your product shots go from substandard to stellar.

It can simply be a technique here or there, understanding a setting on the camera, or changing the way something is displayed that lets your product stand out from the rest.

Here is a list of common mistakes that I see in product photography:

  1. Poor lighting – Either too flat and dull or too harsh and contrasty
  2. Color balance – Greys and whites should be neutral in color
  3. Color cast – Watch for odd colors washing in from a window or a light
  4. Item too small in the image – Make the product a large portion of the image
  5. Not representative of the product – make sure colors are accurate and scale understandable
  6. Underexposed – No detail in the shadows
  7. Overexposed – No detail in the highlights
  8. Pixelated – Watch for blocky edges on what should be smooth edges
  9. Stretched image – Be careful when resizing and image so it does not change proportions
  10. Model with poor expressions – The human face is capable of 40+ expression don’t send the wrong message
  11. Models with bad poses – They should look natural and comfortable
  12. Poor staging – Put the product where is intended to be used
  13. Distracting backdrop – Make sure the backdrop does not compete with the subject
  14. Strange effects or filters – Save effects and filters for things other than product photos
  15. Grainy images – This happens while shooting in dark places
  16. Blurry images – Watch carefully for clean, sharp focus
  17. Not leading with your best image – Don’t hide you best image put it up front
  18. Dirty products – Dust is everywhere. Clean before a photo shoot and clean again in post
  19. Strong hard shadows – Hard shadows distract from the subject
  20. Composition – Watch out for odd angles and things being cut by the edges of the frame



Professional product photographers spend their lives perfecting their craft. If you are a maker, you may not have these years of experience to draw upon but you can improve your photos by watching for these mistakes and taking corrective action when you see them.

To see these mistakes, you have to be objective and honest when reviewing your own photos.

If you see something that needs attention, don’t be afraid to refine your approach. Often a bit of research on a technique, learning a camera setting, or changing the way something is presented will make a three-star pic into a five-star photograph.


Want even more information on how to make your photography eye-catching to customers? Check out The Create & Thrive Guide to Product Photography, which covers basic photography processes that eliminate these common mistakes and help make your products pop thanks to composition, backgrounds, and lighting.

How to Create a Killer First Impression with Your Website




How to create a killer first impression

For every online visitor you receive, your shop has approximately two seconds to capture and keep their attention.

After two seconds, your potential customer is either going to click to browse within your shop or click away altogether.


This is the sequence of events that feed into the customer’s overall first impression:

The first key element customers notice: Can I immediately make sense of what I’m seeing? (Cohesion)

The second key element customers notice: Are the photographs mouth-watering delicious, leaving me hungry to click? (Presentation)

The third key element customers notice: Is it a strong brand? Is this a professional business? If I were to make a purchase, can I trust this shop to deliver what I expect? (Branding)

I want you to read over the above sequence of events and realize that, if ever the answer is “no”, the next subsequent event will not occur. A winning first impression is vital to your handmade business’ success.


The Ingredients of Good Shop Cohesion

When visitors come to your shop, can they immediately make sense of what they are seeing? You’ll need good product photography, a uniform look (matching backdrops, style, and theme), and professional branding to create strong shop cohesion.

I prefer to leave an online storefront with a clear understanding of the seller’s style, and to become a paying customer, I have to feel that the shop’s style matches my own. When I’m hired to help clients perfect their shop’s cohesion, I start our session by asking:

If you created a Pinterest board of images that realize or remind you of what your shop represents,what would it be composed of?

If you don’t already have a shop-related board, please start this exercise right away! It will not only help you clarify your brand identity, it will also attract like-minded people. Follow the link to my Energy Shop Pinspiration as an example. Everything on that board is magical, true, or Energy Shop-related. And since I’m already hanging out on Pinterest, it takes no extra effort on my part.

Strong shop cohesion creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for your storefront. The customer can more easily admire your wares, and the ambience you create helps build trust and admiration of your brand.


How to Create a Solid Look to Your Shop

  • Pick a style and stick to it. By that I mean, if you’re selling kitschy, country-cute items, don’t try to sell mod decor in the same shop. Go with your favorite style, and stick to it. Like-minded customers will appreciate your passion and authenticity.
  • Show products as a collection. On occasion, make the collective shot the main listing picture. I often feature armfuls of bracelets when I’m only selling just one in the listing. Not only are collective images more share-friendly and pin-able, many customers like to see what a collection of your products would look like. When I buy artwork, for example, I fear that it’s going to be floating alone in the room, mismatched and unnatural-like. A picture of a collective gallery of artwork above a dining room table helps me understand the character the paintings would add to my own home, and invites me to purchase more than one!
  • Create helpful categories. Don’t get too clever with listing titles, and be sure customers can navigate through the shop without becoming confused.
  • Be sure the products you list compliment each other. Boutiques can be done, but they’re not easy to pull off because everything has to match. Make sure every product you list matches your overall theme: Are you a cozy knitted goods store, or a flashy jewelry store? Do you sell vintage books or felt supplies? Pick your favorite type of product and go strong.
  • Pull the customer in by creating an atmosphere. Make sure your profile matches the storefront, the banner matches the listings, and the listings compliment each other. For example, if you sell pillows of all different sizes and fabrics, use one uniform background for every listing – the fabrics are already adding the variety. If you sell dainty jewelry, use a few different backgrounds that match.


Image source: André Spieker


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.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Bricks & Mortar Retail. Part 1: Getting in to a Shop




The Do's and Don'ts of Bricks & Mortar Retail. Part 1 Getting in to a Shop

This is a guest post by Simmone Spring. I’ve known Simmone for a few years – we’ve bumped into each other at markets here in Brissie on numerous occasions! She’s uniquely qualified to write this – the first of a short series of articles on getting your work into a B&M shop – because she is both a crafter AND a retail coordinator, so she knows the score from both sides of the fence. You can read Part 2 here.


Getting your beautiful handmade creations into a retail space is the dream of many handmade artisans.

As a retail coordinator and hand maker I am often taken aback by just how many handmade artisans are not making the most of the chance to be in a retail space. They are not thriving in a shop setting.

Today, in Part 1, I’d love to share some tips with you so you can make the most of your retail experience.


Approaching a Shop

I love going into work and seeing an email with a concise description of a product or label and clear, well-lit photo’s attached (3-5 photos is plenty). You don’t have to be a super star photographer, just make sure they are the best you can do. A link to a well constructed web site or an Etsy store is also welcome, this way I can see your range and think abut what will work in my retail space.

An email is definitely my preferred first contact. I can spend time with your label, browsing and thinking about how I can work with it. A reply may not be immediate, but I will always flag and get back to you when I can. If you don’t hear anything within a week a follow up call is a great idea.

Don’t send en email with blurry photos or a website that doesn’t work. This happens a lot and really drives me crazy! I cannot see your beautiful products in a blurry shot and if your link is broken you are just wasting my time.

After I get your email I usually set up an appointment to see your pieces in person and chat about what I expect from you if you come on as a vendor. If you are interstate I outline everything in an email and start with a really small order, just to make sure your work will sell in my shop.

Before the appointment think about questions you want to ask and absorb the shop. Think about the layout, current products, and ask about the clientele.

Don’t walk into a store with a bag full of stock before you have been in contact by email. I always found this quite uncomfortable if a vendor did this. If you want to touch base with who to contact and see the shop for yourself, go in as a customer, mention what you do and ask who to email.


retail shop 2

You’re in! How to Get Started

Hurray! You found a wonderful shop to stock, so what happens from here?

First, double check your product is ready for retail (I’m sure you wouldn’t have contact the shop if it wasn’t, but it is a surprise what people forget). This means price tags (with space on the tag for a code that the shop will assign) and having your product in tip top condition. Don’t try to sell products that are not up to scratch. Visit the shop a couple of times to make sure your product presentation is equal (or better!) with the other products on display.

The shop should have a contract for you read and sign. If they don’t you should create your own contract. This should cover pricing, display, dealing with returns, consignment agreements (if you are working on a consignment basis), payments, delivery details, and any other terms you think are important. I often hash this out with vendors, and the shops I stock, in a series of emails. I use email as it is all there in black and white, no misunderstandings, and that is exactly why you need a contract!

You will also need to set up stock lists. Every shop does this differently so make sure you work closely with them so things go smoothly. Some like them on paper and enter them in to their own systems, others like a spreadsheet.

Post or deliver your stock. So exciting! It is finally in store and looking AMAZING! You have done everything right and the shop manager already loves you. Now, to make sure you keep it up.

In Part 2, I will cover what you should be doing once you are in the shop to make the most of the experience.


Simmone Spring coordinated the retail space at Bleeding Heart until it sadly closed due to renovations. She has been making Anatomy for 6 years as Your Organ Grinder and coordinates Hands On Brisbane.

Image sourcs: Martin Wessely + Kath Chownston

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