Set up Shop is now open for registration (with an extra ebook, too, if you register in the next 12 hours).

1-Set Up Shop

I’m so excited to announce that registration is now open for Set Up Shop!

I sent out a sneaky email to the C&T list last night, and we’ve already got an amazing group of women signed up and ready to go on April 1st (thank you, everyone who’s already registered!).

Everything you need to know is on the course page here.

Now, if you’re worried about cost, I want to reassure you, I have not made this a ridiculously expensive course to take… in fact, the Silver Membership will cost you less than $3 per day over the 30 days.

I feel very strongly that this course should be affordable for everyone – I did NOT want lack of money to hold you back from participating!

For those who want that next level of support, the Gold and Platinum levels are also available… but due to my limited time, they are limited to only 20 and 4 places respectively. (About half of the 20 Gold places are already sold, so make sure to register asap if you want that extra level of support.)

Head on over here to lock in your place now.

From all the stories that the C&T community have shared over the last few weeks, I know you are ready and willing to get serious about your business – you just need that little bit of help and guidance to take your business to the next level. That’s what I’m here to provide.

I’ll give you structure and guidanceyou’ll bring your unique passion and drive – and together we’ll craft a beautiful shop that will highlight your fabulous creations in their best light.

I can’t wait to see you in the course and help you transform your shop into something you can be immensely proud of as you take your next step on the path to crafty business success!

Jess xx

P.S. Click here to check out the prices and membership level deets.

P.P.S. if you register in the next 12 hours, you’ll get a nifty bonus – a FREE copy of my ‘How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List’ ebook. Ace! (Offer ends 7pm Monday 25th, AEST.)

C&T Q&A ~ Should I use social media under my name, my brand name – or both?

social media conundrum - me or my brand - create and thrive

Today’s question is from Emma, who asks:

I am looking into creating pinterest and blog accounts (following your free ebook advice) but I have two separate businesses under different branding, one offers products the other services. Do you think it is best to create separate accounts for both or create one under my personal name to encompass both?

This is an issue that confronts so many creative business owners – because we often have more than one business or project on the go at the one time!

How do we separate them? Do we separate them? How do we manage innumerable social media channels/blogs/emails?

It’s certainly something I’ve struggled with. This blog, for example, came after years of combining my crafty biz posts with my jewellery and other crafty posts over on Epheriell Designs. I finally took the leap to creating a separate site and brand for this info when I decided I could do more with a distinctive brand.

Of course, I made this decision fully aware that it meant I wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to the Epheriell Designs blog as I had been previously – and that was okay. It meant I changed the direction of that blog, and made it more about my jewellery business and less about handmade in general. When you multiply your channels you multiply your work – and something’s gotta give somewhere.

The only social media channel I have that is dedicated to my distinct brands is Facebook – where I have an Epheriell page and a Create & Thrive page. All my other social media – twitter, instagram, Pinterest, G+ etc, is under my own name, rather than a brand.

Why?

Because I think different social media call for different approaches. For example – on twitter and instagram, I am me – I share stuff from my life, my work, and my travels. I think people are on those channels because they want to connect with people (or news, in the case of twitter). So, I feel it’s more effective to just be myself, and be active – rather than trying to juggle multiple logins/handles and keep them all active and growing. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the TIME to do that!

Facebook, however, is a little different. If people want to connect with me personally, they’d be my friend. If they want to connect with my brand, they’ll like my page. This is why I’ve separated off the brands on FB. It’s easier to build up a fan base (or, more technically, a ‘liker’ base, but I hate how that sounds) and to be more on-message.

Pinterest is a tricky one – I think it comes down to how you use it. If you – like me – aren’t terribly strategic, you might just want to be on there under your name, and have boards that relate to your separate brands, like I do. I do it this way because I’m also on Pinterest purely for my own enjoyment – so I pin a lot of stuff that is just for me, personally – like paleo recipes, workouts, home designs, fashion, art etc. Sure, some of this ties into my businesses, and some of it ties into my overall ‘lifestyle’ brand – but some of it doesn’t and I don’t care. It’s for me.

Also – I think the handmade niche, in particular, is quite forgiving of this approach – because a big part of a handmade business is the personal touch. People are buying handmade for a reason – often because of that personal connection to the maker.

I do, of course, have my various websites in my blurb across all of these social media – in fact, I pretty much have the same blub (and the same photo) across twitter, IG, Pinterest and G+. That way, I keep personal brand consistency, remain a real human being, but still make it easy for people to check out what I do for a living.

Emma, to come back to your specific question – I think, in your case, I would say do what I’ve done. Have one Pinterest and have different boards illustrating your different businesses. I say this largely because I think your two businesses are complimentary – in that they support each other and might have a cross-pollination of customers. If you had two widely different businesses, my advice might be different… but, in the end, it comes down to personal preferences, and this question:

How many social media channels can I manage, and manage effectively, while delivering awesome content and impact?

Because it’s better to have just one channel chockers full of fabulous content than multiple channels that are mostly neglected due to overwhelm.

I’d love to know what you think – how do you manage this issue?

How to Know When You’re Ready to Get Help

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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}

And the Set Up Shop Winners Are…

I was totally blown away with the response to the Set Up Shop giveaway – truly.

SO many of you shared your stories – stories of hope, dreams, and determination. I knew there was a place for this course in the world, but I didn’t realise just how many of you feel that you just need that guidance and direction to take your shop and business to the next level. I’m so excited about sharing that with you throughout April!!

It was really hard to pick a winner – I read and responded to each and every one of you, and goodness, you really opened up and shared your lives and wishes with us all. That takes courage. Thank you.

So, without further ado…

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{image from bonbon balloons}

The Silver winner was the random draw, and the winner of the Silver Membership is:

Cat of Tiny Lion Jewellery

After reading over all your comments numerous times, a few stood out to me – but one really captured me. And so I chose…

The winner of the Gold Membership is:

Sally Steele!

Sally, I trust you to take what I teach you and run with it – run with the wind!!

To everyone else who entered – thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you’ll join us in the course – I’d love to see each and every one of you achieve your goals and dreams!

Registration opens Monday the 25th, at 7am AEST – prices will be released then (but just so you know, the Silver Membership will be well under $100 – my aim is to make this course affordable for everyone).

I’ll be sending out an email prior to that with a link to the registration page… so if you want to be the first to register (especially if you want one of the limited Gold or Platinum places) make sure you’re on the email list. Also – those who register within the first 24 hours will receive a bonus – a FREE copy of my ebook – How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List. Just my way of saying thanks for hopping on board!

If you have any questions about the course, please leave them on the comments, or just shoot me a quick email 🙂

Congratulations to the winners, I’ll be in touch very soon!

Success Stories: Leah Duncan

leahportrait

I have a lot of role models (and hopefully you do too!) who I’m continually looking to for new ideas and inspiration.  I’ve been following the success of Leah Duncan, an American textile artist and illustrator, for nearly a year now.  Every time she comes out with a new line of work, my jaw drops into my lap.  Today, Leah sat down with us to share some of her amazing journey.  I hope it inspires you!

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I’ve always been an artist at heart, but my professional career didn’t start until after college when I worked as a graphic designer for advertising firms and screen printing companies. While I learned a lot as a graphic designer and am grateful, I never felt creatively fulfilled with the type of work I did in those positions.

When my husband and I moved to Austin after our wedding, I was determined to make a living doing work I was truly passionate about. I started with putting my drawings on Etsy and my shop evolved to include textiles and stationery. That was in 2008 and, at this point, I think it’s safe to say, with a lot of hard work, I’ve made my dreams come true.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

Having your own business is almost always a challenge. I think one of my biggest weaknesses has been that I’m a people pleaser and will almost always do whatever it takes to make other people happy. The truth is as a small business owner and working artist you’re always pressed for time and you consistently have to look out for your own best interests.

This means being firm when needed and saying no when it doesn’t work for you. Looking back it seems so silly, but I think it’s something many women can relate to. It was a hard lesson learned with time wasted or people taking advantage of my kindness, but I got there in the end.

leah towels

Triangles Tea Towel

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

They happen every single day! Sometimes simply getting a wholesale order out on time or signing a print without my signature veering off and up to the right is the greatest thing I can achieve. The two biggest challenges I’d say have been taking a leap of faith financially to attend Surtex (an art licensing show) in 2011 and getting my latest collection ready to release last Fall. As a small business owner risks like this have to be taken and it feels amazing when it pays off.

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Absolutely! Doubts are a given but are also something that drive me to achieve more. I’d love to one day have my own brick and mortar shop/studio and also have a home goods line released with a well known retailer. I know I’ll get there one day, doubts and all.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Yes, and it’s a horrible feeling! I always find the best thing I can do is clear my mind and that usually involves yoga, a run, or a walk with my dog. If that still doesn’t work, sometimes it’s better to walk away for a little while and come back when my focus arrives. Or simply call it a day and have a nice dinner and a glass of wine!

leah print

My Heart to Your Heart print

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

It’s tough! It varies depending on the time of year and comes in cycles, but generally during the slower months I like to have two days set aside for creative projects. My typical day could be anything from sourcing textiles to creating a new collection to taking care of my books. It’s amazing how many hats you wear when you’re self-employed.

In a good week I’m able to take two full days off to focus on my friends, family, and general well-being.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Hands down, signing up for Etsy has been the single best way to connect my work with my demographic.

leah scarf

 Elena Scarf

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Follow your passion and don’t let anything stand in your way. Make it happen no matter what. Also, mistakes are lessons learned so never be afraid of making them.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

With my own shop and studio, hopefully creating two full lines a year, with a great team working for me so I can focus on starting a family and making memories.

You can find more of Leah’s work in her shop: LeahDuncan.com

On her blog: Freshly Chopped

And on Twitter: @leahduncanisme

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