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#CTMonthInTheLife – A Photo-a-Day Instagram Challenge for Makers – Starts August 1, 2016!

 

It’s back! I’m once again running a month-long Instagram #photoaday challenge in August – #CTMonthInTheLife

I had so much fun last time I ran it – and I know so many of you really enjoyed it, too.

This challenge is for makers, artists, and creatives of all stripes.

I know how much I love seeing behind the scenes of other creatives’ lives and work, and I know I’m not alone in that bit of loving voyeurism, am I right?

So, I created this challenge as an opportunity for you to share all sorts of behind-the-scenes snapshots of your work life with us.

I want to see a month-in-the-life of your work. I want to see your space, your materials, your life, your passion. I want to see what motivates you, what your materials look like, what you DO every day!

Who wants to play?

 

Join us for #CTMonthInTheLife!

 

How to participate:

1. Share the image below on your Instagram feed. (And why not share it on FB to your Page… and on Pinterest or Twitter, too? This isn’t compulsory, but it will help to get your friends playing, too!).

 

 

2. Follow @CreateAndThrive on Instagram. I’ll be posting each day’s prompt to the feed to remind you to take your photo!

3. Post your response to each day’s prompt on your own IG feed (and some folks are creating a #CTMonthInTheLife Pin board, too – and you can push the photo through to your FB page).

4. Make SURE to tag every challenge image @CreateAndThrive AND #CTMonthInTheLife – I’ll be choosing my 4 faves and re-posting them to the C&T IG feed each day.

 

I’ll be posting each day’s prompt on the Create & Thrive IG account throughout August with a little blurb that explains a little bit about what it is. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory though!

We’ll kick off on August 1st, and play through till the 31st.

Please be aware that I’m running on Australian Eastern Standard Time – so for those of you on the other side of the world, we’ll be a little ahead of you time-wise – but just play when each day rolls around in your timezone!

 

Make sure you’re following the @CreateAndThrive IG account.

I can’t wait to peek inside your creative lives… will you be joining us?

Where could your business be one year from now?

 

Have you thought about it?

I mean, really thought about it?

Where could your business be one year from now?

How much could it have grown?

How many pieces might you have sold?

How confident will you be about your branding, your ideal customer, and your website?

How much might your social media profile, your mailing list, and your traffic grow in a year?

How much closer will you be to achieving success – whatever that means to you?

Do you feel confident you know what you need to do, and when you need to do it, to grow your business in the direction you want to go?

Or is it all just crazy-overwhelming, and you end up getting stuck because you’re not sure what to do next?

I get it – I’ve been there.

And I want to help you break through the overwhelm. To knock down the fear barriers holding you back. To give you the map and be your guide on the path.

I’ve created a lot of guides and courses over the last few years, but none of them bring everything together.

I think it’s about time I changed that. For you.

So, I’ve created something epic that will help you not only figure all of the above out – it will help you make your goals and dreams a reality.

 

Introducing – Your Year to Thrive

 

I have created a year-long (yes, a whole year!) program to guide you on your handmade business journey.

It covers everything you need to do and know to start (or revitalise!) and grow your handmade business – from foundational vision and planning; through brand and product development; venue testing and selection; your online presence; your copy and photography; marketing; social media; time management & self care, and much, much more.

In this course I have pulled together everything I have learnt over the last 8 years – it covers everything you need to learn and do to make your business a success.

This program is also deliberately designed to fit into your busy life – with one lesson on one topic every week for a whole year, it is at a pace you can actually enact, and will help you to make informed, epic progress on building your business.

Say goodbye to wondering ‘am I missing something’? Or ‘am I doing this right’? Or even ‘is this even possible’?

Yes. It is possible. I did it, and so have many, many others. You can, too.

This is the course I wish existed during my first few years in business.

 

Your Year to Thrive will begin Monday July 18.

 

So, how can you take part?

(Spoiler, it’s WAY more affordable than you might think.)

Find out here.

 

Keep thriving, 

Jess 

 


 

[55] 8 Places You Can Get Help with Your Handmade Business

When we start a business by ourselves we are limited. We only know what we know. As you grow, other people become increasingly important as a resource for your handmade business.

At first we think we think we can figure it all out on our own, but where can you turn when you need the mental, physical or emotional help of others?

Sometimes it’s as simple as finding someone who will tell us that we actually can do what we dream of.

In this episode I share where I get support and help with my businesses (and how much that help has impacted the success of my endeavours). I also outline 8 sources of support that you can turn to, which are fantastic for starting, growing or strengthening your support network.

So, if you’re not sure where you can turn to get help, I hope you find one or more ideas in this episode to help you.

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Family
  • Family are usually the first port of call when we need help.
  • You are so blessed if you have family with the willingness, time and energy to help you.
  • Be thankful to them always if you have them because not everybody does!
  • If you don’t have this family support it is important that you find it elsewhere.
  • 2. Friends
  • Often our friends are our greatest cheerleaders.
  • There will always be those friends that aren’t supportive and usually this is because they simply do not understand.
  • Think about your friends skills and abilities as you may be able to source practical help from them.
  • It is common for some people to not see how your success is possible until you reach it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, after all that is what they are there for.
  • 3. Local Organisations
  • Finding a local organisation is a great thing to do.
  • Most cities have craft groups or guilds you can join.
  • Craft and business courses are a great way to find like minded people.
  • 4. Teams or Forums Online
  • Online there are so many teams or forums available that you can ask advice.
  • Etsy has teams and forums you can easily follow or join.
  • Keep in mind the downsides such as the fact that your posts are public. Competitors and customers can all see this.
  • If you need to rant then this is not the platform to do it as lashing out publicly is never a good idea.
  • You don’t know the people you will be talking to so remember to tread carefully. You don’t want to attract the negativity of the internet.
  • 5. Blogs and Podcasts
  • These are places where people share what has worked and what hasn’t.
  • Blogs and podcasts are full of lessons learnt.
  • Make a list of your favourite blogs or podcasts to follow.
  • ‘Make yourself a treasure trove of knowledge.’ {Jess}
  • Don’t forget to explore the archives as most advice is still very relevant.
  • You need to keep in mind that not all advice will apply to you and don’t fall into the procrastination trap.
  • ‘Make sure the doing gets done.’ {Jess}
  • 6. Staff
  • Sometimes it gets to the point when you can no longer do everything on your own.
  • You can either pull back or hire someone to help you.
  • Be honest with which tasks are vital but that you don’t enjoy doing.
  • Start small to see how it goes and take it from there.
  • Don’t let cost or perfectionism hold you back if growth is your goal.
  • ‘If you reach your upper limit you need to accept that.’ {Jess}
  • 7. Mentors and Coaches
  • Most successful people don’t have much time for mentoring.
  • ‘The best way to gain a mentor is to gain a friend.’ {Jess}
  • Mentorship is built on a relationship and trust.
  • If there isn’t someone in the position to be your mentor then consider a paid coach or advisor.
  • 8. Online Community
  • The beauty of online communities is that they are full of people on the same journey as you.
  • Most offer helpful content such as e-books and courses.
  • Get to know who runs the community. What is their approach? Do you like them? Who are others in the community? Do you trust them?
  • ‘Make sure you connect with the message and the mentor.’ {Jess}
  • My own membership community – The Thriver Circle – is currently open to new members – for 48 hours only! Head to ThriverCircle.com for more information.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

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

[54] 5 Ways to Increase Your Profits

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!

 

 

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.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

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

15 Steps to Prepare for a Craft Fair, Market, or Show

 

Attending a craft fair, market, or show soon?

If you’ve never done it before, it can seem super-overwhelming – remembering everything you need to pack and take, and thinking about how the day might run smoothly.

Use the following tips to ensure smooth sailing through every craft fair you attend.

 

  1. Stock Prep

You need to take enough stock to keep your stall looking freshly stocked.

This means starting your market prep as early in advance as possible. This is especially important for your first stall – it will be the one where you find best sellers. Write a schedule of what to make over the weeks or months leading up to the event and stick to it.

 

  1. Keep a List

Write a comprehensive list. Save it and print it out prior to each and every market you attend. This will stop you turning up and suddenly realising you forgot to bring a cash float or your mobile phone. Add to the list whenever you need as things always change over time.

 

  1. Do Your Research

Do they provide tables? Will you need electricity? Do they cover insurance or is this something you need to organise? All this information will be available in their correspondence to you or on their website. If not – email someone to find out.

 

  1. Perfect Your Display

This comes easy to some and not so easy to others so it is an awesome idea to do a mock set up.

Merchandising is important because it is how your customer sees your brand. If it doesn’t interest them they will keep walking so you need to make an effort. Get someone you trust to look at it and give you feedback. Draw up a little diagram so when you get there all the thinking has been done and you can jump straight into it.

 

 

  1. Get an Early Start

Rarely is a craft fair just around the corner from where you live, if it is then congrats! If it isn’t then you need to ensure you sort two important details out.

Firstly where is it? If it is close enough go for a drive so you know exactly where – if it is too far research on maps. Once you are there you will need to know where you can drive, where you can park and where you need to set up. Most markets will email you these details in advance – so study them to reduce confusion on the day.

Secondly, though not always easy, leave on time. The last thing you want is to be running late as you really need a nice easy morning. Take plenty of extra time in case of traffic and so you can stop at your favourite café for a take away coffee.

 

  1. Take a Friend

Craft fairs are fun but they are even better with a friend. Find someone who is willing to be your assistant for the day in exchange for lunch and coffee – it’s easier than it sounds!

All they really need to do is be your support if you are tired, fill in for toilet breaks or simply be your company for the journey there and back. Of course it is completely possible too attend markets on your own, it is done by many makers, a friend can help ease you through the busy times though and is someone to celebrate with at the end of the day.

 

  1. Dress for Comfort

Flat shoes, warm clothes just in case, and something you feel confident in. You don’t need to dress up, neat casual is fine. It is about feeling comfortable and confident so you can happily sell your work and meet new people without feeling self-conscious.

 

  1. Hydration

This is something that can’t get said enough. If you do not drink enough water through the day you will be tired and probably grumpy before the day is over.

Water helps keep the oxygen running through your blood and keeps you hydrated so you have enough energy for even the longest of days. Take plenty of water bottles too because not all markets have water available to purchase.

 

  1. Handouts

Take along more than you need when it comes to this type of thing. Business cards, or more effective are fliers that tell a little more about you and what you do. There is so much to see at fairs so having information for people to take home means they will be more likely to remember or recognise you in the future.

 

  1. Work in Progress

If possible take along some work in progress. Depending on what you do this can be a simple task or it could be impossible.

Having something to work on during quiet periods keeps you busy and customers love to see what you do. So if this is possible take something along, even if it is just something small or even a notebook for planning.

 

  1. Feedback

Take a little book along and write down the things you notice so that you haven’t forgotten by the end of the day.

Write down which items got the most attention. Which colour ways attracted people the most. What positive things did you hear people say. All of this can be taken into account as you plan and make decisions for future projects and markets.

 

 

  1. Record Sales

Write down all sales. Write down what sold and the sale price, how the customer paid and what time the sale occurred. This is helpful for future market prep as well as bookwork at the end of the day.

 

  1. Practice Self Control

Many makers have a rule not to make any purchases while at the market. It can be so tempting being surrounded by beautiful items. If you don’t have this rule or at least a limit you will end up eating through all your profits.

Take business cards and when you get home look them up, follow them on social media and tell your friends. There are more ways to support your fellow market stall holders than making a purchase and this means you can take home all that you make. It is a huge compliment to have your work purchased by other makers and it does happen all the time despite the rule!

 

  1. Play the Customer

An important point to remember is not how your stall looks from where you stand but how it looks from the customers perspective. As often as possible walk around and take a look. Are there grubby finger prints? Have items been moved by people looking? Is your tablecloth wonky? During quiet periods assess this and make changes so that your stall is always looking neat.

 

  1. Have Fun

One of the most important pieces of advice is to relax and have fun. Markets are an excellent way of making and building connections, learning about what to do and what not to do, connecting with customers or potential future customers. So enjoy it, have a laugh with people and you will go home feeling satisfied.

 


Want to learn more about how to sell more at craft fairs and markets? Check out our self-study eCourse – How to Sell More at Markets and Shows.

Enrol and get your first lesson straight away!


 

 

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