4 Reasons Why Teaching is a great Idea

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As makers, we have a wealth of information and skills at our disposal.  We know how to make every shade of neutral grey with watercolors.  We can bend ear wires with our eyes closed.  Or we can knit the most intricate pattern for a sweater. 

Well, guess what?  More and more people want to learn those skills to!  Teaching a class, whether in-person or online, has a lot of benefits for makers.

New Revenue Stream

Let’s be honest: we all have slow months of the year where our stress levels soar and our bank levels dip.  Being able to teach a class in that down time allows you to negate that stress and add some cash flow to your income.  Many courses can be set up to run on their own via email autoresponders, which means there’s minimal effort for you.  This is a perfect example of working smarter vs. working harder.

Network

You never know what amazing connections you will make by teaching.  Someone may become your customer after seeing how hard metalsmithing can be.  Or they may be a writer for a magazine who wants to feature you.  Or they may simply tell all of their girlfriends about you and help you rack up extra sales.

Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Since we work from our studios so much, we can become isolated and introverted.  We fall into ruts that make us feel safe.  Teaching a class helps break up that pattern and gets your creative juices flowing.  When you work in-person with people, you also learn what they really want to learn and that allows you to get to know your customers better.  The knowledge you gain from a class will help you write an e-book, tweak a product, or design something new that fits their needs.

Become an ‘Expert’

You get to step into your ‘expert’ role.  So many of us belittle our skills.  We don’t think we have the right to call ourselves ‘experts’.  Well, guess what?  As the teacher, you are the undeniable expert.  You’ll not only become more confident in your skills but also in your products when you teach others a skill.  Confidence sells, ladies, so be assured that you know what you’re doing.

Most people worry that teaching others one of their skills means those people will become copycats who steal their secret formula for purl stitches or their signature style of painting.  If you set up your class the right way, there’s absolutely no reason to fear copycats.

Megan Auman, an amazing metalsmith and business coach, is running a new program called Do/Teach.  This 6-week program shows you how to create a signature class that sets you apart online and ensures your students won’t follow exactly in your footsteps.  By the end of Do/Teach, you’ll be ready to launch your first signature class!

Learning from Mistakes – or – What handmade business owners wish they knew when…

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{A note from Jess: Hey awesome creatives! I’m in Portland, Oregon this weekend, gearing up for the World Domination Summit! I’m sure I’ll have HEAPS of inspiration and awesomeness to share with you afterwards, but I don’t have the time to answer a Q&A this week… so here’s a fantastic post from Katia on why making mistakes is a good thing…}

Every year, when it comes closer to July, I feel like looking back and thinking about what I’ve learned and what would I do differently if I knew what I know now.

The journey between the first toy that I created and today has been such a learning curve!

Every new year I meet with one or two things that I’ve learned to take with me in order to make next year bigger and better.

Learning from the experience is so important, and knowing that other handmade business owners went through similar experiences and faced similar problems that they had to overcome is very comforting. Learning from each other does make the journey so much more easier!

When I meet successful handmade business owners, one of the first questions I want to ask them is “What you wish you knew when you just started?”

Thus, I asked a few of my fellow handmade business owners to reply to the same question:

“When I started my handmade business, I wish I knew…..”

Here are some of those replies:

…that all artists, creators and makers have days when they feel hopeless and failures and others when they feel that they could take on the world. The secret is to push through the negative days, they will and do pass. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

…to be aware of the fact that consumers very much dictate the market and no matter how creative and how much ingenuity you display with your designs, if the consumer wants what is on trend, then that is what my display shall be filled with. Hollie, Little Goldfish Invitations & Stationery 

To be so very aware of all of the different types of hats you must wear regularly and sometimes quite a few at the same time when running your business. From all the great stuff to the in-between and the boring – eg: designer, creator, accountant, marketing, warehouse, dispatch, customer service, financial controller, buying and many more. There is so much more to running a business than just the front face that people see. You always need to be on top of your game at the back end and on your toes every step of the way to make way for constant change. Greta, Colour & Spice

….that success can take a while. An over night success can also be a short lived one and anything of quality takes time. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

….to get the branding correct from the beginning. Including a logo, business cards, stationery & website, all have proved so very invaluable. Sonia, OSONiA Designs

…how important it is to have confidence and place value on your time and abilities…and to keep clear accounting records from the start! Annaliese, Cordelle Jewellery  (This site/resource is no longer available)

… that while people may try to copy my ideas, they will never replicate my quality and attention to detail. Have confidence in your products and never stop developing ideas”. Debra, Very Debra

….that I’d be spending most of my day on the computer, learning how to use accounting software, editing pictures, using photoshop, creating invoices e.t.c. The sooner you accept this and take the bull by the horns and learn how to overcome your computer fears, the quicker your business will grow. Being scared of obstacles that stand in your way, will not help you or your business to thrive. Be proactive from the start. Jump on to a computer course, ask for help, write down the advice you receive and keep it safe. Just don’t hide from it like I tried to, trust me, it won’t go away! Alison, Cheeky Pickle 

….who to ask advice from and get it right from the start. Find out as much information as you can and then make an informed descision to either keep it as a hobby or turn it into a business. Deena, DeeZigner Papercraft

.. that is impossible to do everything and asking for help is not so difficult. Managing my time as a mum at home with 2 young kids, work was and still my big challenge” Anne, Anou Design

…that markets aren’t so super scary – but they are a LOT of work!” – also for me it was VERY important to have the right insurance… running my business from home actually voided my original home-insurance – so I had to search out another company to cover me properly for business and separate home insurance. – this is something I always warn people about! – Melinda, A Little Creative

……that sometimes your creations will sell quick, sometimes they will be looking for the right customer for a while. Don’t feel discouraged, move on, make new things and keep being creative brining new creations to your customers. What is the worst that can happen?! If no one buys some of the items, clear them out on sale or re-design and just don’t make them again.” Katia, Plushka’s Craft

To sum up, here are the quick 5 top tips…

  • Work hard and pace yourself, success takes time and making mistakes is part of the journey.

  • Have confidence it what you make and be prepared to follow the customers’ taste.

  • Learn as much as you can and don’t hide from developing your skills when necessary.

  • Keep your records and correct branding from the start.  There is much more to the business then just making.

  • You are not a super-woman, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Do you have your own gem of wisdom to share?

Small Success Stories

Every other week we share the success stories of full-time makers but Jess and I wanted to make sure we were also celebrating your successes!  So every month we’re hoping to feature a few Create & Thrive readers who have had a recent success story of their own.

Emily’s Small Success:

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Balloon Ball Cover – Pretty Birds

I opened up my Etsy store approximately 3 weeks ago, not thinking I would see many sales/traffic through my store, as Etsy is such a huge, awesome marketplace for handmade. I assumed I just wouldn’t stand out. I have had plenty of success selling via Facebook and moderate success in the past 3 years selling via madeit.com.au. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to get to markets this year due to my husband doing lots more work away and having 3 growing boys, so I thought branching out to Etsy would help reach more potential customers.
 
Last week I made 3 sales in 3 days! I have now sold Balloon Balls to the US, New Zealand and to NSW via my Etsy store. My hubby said, “You are taking over the world 1 Balloon Ball at a time.” Not sure if that is true, but it does make me smile when I think of my products spreading through the world.

Check out Emily’s cute Etsy shop: Signed with Love

Melinda’s Small Success:

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Felt Tea Pot Brooch

I made a goal this year to triple my sales from 2012 and mid year and with a lot of work , I am well on course to doing this.

I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty darn impressive!  Check out Melinda’s Made It shop: Creative Wishes

East is East Night Market’s Small Success:

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I’m super excited to be launching my second market next month and to be surrounded by such talented and passionate stallholders who make amazing handmade goodies.

You can find out all about Sydney’s ONLY night market that takes places every Thursday evening on their Facebook page: East is East Night Market.

***Want to be featured in our next Small Success Stories feature?  Email me at megan@epherielldesigns dot com and tell me what we get to celebrate!  I promise to eat a piece of chocolate cake for every success you have.  (I don’t think my boyfriend will object to always having cake in the fridge.)***

Success Stories ~ Dear Colleen

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Colleen of Dear Colleen

Nothing makes me happier than sharing a very cool maker and this week it’s the New Zealander, Colleen of Dear Colleen (This site/resource is no longer available).  Her graphic design work is sweet and a little cheeky.  She answered our interview questions so honestly, I know you’re going to fall head over heels for her and her Ryan Gosling tea towels.

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

I’ve always been a ‘creative’ so it started a long time ago when I was a kid. I used to sit in the back of my classes in school and doodle, instead of focusing on anything and everything else. I chose to study graphic design at college and then I worked in the design industry for a number of years before taking some time out and going travelling. When I was travelling in 2009 is really when I started putting a lot of the ideas together for what became ‘Dear Colleen’ (This site/resource is no longer available)

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

I think having your own business, that is your living, is a daily challenge but often in a good way, as long as you keep learning and finding ways around the problems. I find the hardest thing to deal with is copyright infringement, when someone basically steals your whole idea, layout, colours. The ‘Lemons’ design I did back in 2009 has been copied so many times by so many people now it’s getting to the point where people aren’t even copying my original anymore. I’ve fought and won a number of cases but it’s so joyless and time consuming. I wish it wasn’t something I have to deal with.

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Large Lemons Print Signed

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

I guess I should say the whole Ryan Gosling holding my tea towel on YouTube thing but really having one of my tea towels bought by the National Museum of New Zealand (where I live) was just a huge honour and something I’ll be proud of for the rest of my life.

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?

Oh goodness, yes and yes. What I do is my rent, food, bills and there are a lot of lean weeks/months. I’m constantly frustrated that I can’t fill wholesale orders very often as I rarely have the spare cash flow to put into enough goodies to meet the demand. Cash flow is an ongoing sleepless nights head ache. I also have a number of new designs waiting to be produced but again it’s a slow process saving the money to put them into production.

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Hey Girl – Dishes I’d Rather Be Doing Tea Towel

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

Sometimes I get creative block, I never find myself short of ideas but I can’t always get those ideas out of my head into a reasonable looking design. If I’m really stuck on a piece I’ll usually put it a side and just focus on another design or admin. For me, at least, there’s no point forcing it. Usually just leaving it for a day or two fixes the problem.

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

I have no typical day and that’s one of the things I love most about working for myself. If you’re a one person business you do it all; meetings, packaging, designing, accounts, admin. Everyday is pretty different.

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Skills to Pay the Bills Tee

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

It’s hard to explain but really it’s down to doing work that captures peoples imagination in some way. I don’t really do any marketing as such, on the whole I just put things online and then people somehow find them and share them. I love word of mouth advertising and only market this way.

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

Work hard, be nice.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I don’t know, I’m not a goal setter, I’m more of a ‘let’s see where this crazy ride will take me’ kind of a girl.

You can find more of Colleen’s work online:

In her online shop: Dear Colleen (This site/resource is no longer available)

In her Etsy shop: Dear Colleen (This site/resource is no longer available)

On her blog: Dear Colleen

On Facebook: Dear Colleen

Set Up Shop Registration Closes Midnight Tonight!

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Just a final reminder that you’ve only got twelve hours left to register for Set Up Shop – doors close at midnight tonight (Saturday the 29th of June AEST).

If you want to join an amazing group of dedicated and passionate creative entrepreneurs in the course this July, make sure to pop on over here to register now so you don’t miss out.

Jess xx

P.S. There are still a couple of Gold and Platinum Memberships left, too!

 

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