Was your first time embarrassing too?

Was your first time embarrassing? I know mine was.

And noooo, I’m not talking about that.

(Though, admittedly, I am doing a little bit of the *wink* *wink* nudge* *nudge* thing with a post title like this one.)

(At least you get to be in on the joke.)

Screen caption image credit Monty Python

Screen caption image credit Monty Python

What I AM talking about is the first time you wrote a blog post.

Or the first time you posted up pictures of your handmade products.

Or sent out an e-mail newsletter.

Or e-mailed a magazine editor or shop owner.

Or posted on Twitter.

If even just thinking about these things makes you cringe, please know this: you are not alone.

First times are embarrassing for everyone. We can’t all expect to be amazing right from the get-go. There has to be a learning process.

Olympic gymnasts aren’t able to do triple back-flips the first time they try. Just like a professional football player wouldn’t be expected to make a touchdown without ever having played the sport before.

You have to learn how first, and the most effective way to learn is through taking action.

So if you’re lizard brain is keeping you from sending out that first e-mail newsletter, starting the blog you know you should be working on, or putting your hand-crafted goods out into the market place, maybe this post will make you feel better about it.

BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO SUCK.

But that’s okay, because we all have to suck before we can get better.

If you look at some of the first items under my sold transactions from my Etsy Shop you’ll see how terrible my images were.

(They’re still not great, but they’re getting better.)

Or if you go through the archives in my original WordPress.com blog there are some doozy posts, for sure.

(Again, they’re still not novel-worthy, but they continue to get better.)

My point is this: start.

You don’t have to be afraid you’re going to be terrible, because you can go in with the confidence that you FOR SURE are going to be. Everyone is.

Best to get the embarrassing part over with.

 

Ready to ROCK 2015? {Free Planner Download}

The year-long goal planner is back, and it’s here to help you get ready to ROCK 2015.

This planner is yours to download for free. Because you’re awesome, and I know you’ve got an awesome year ahead of you.

Click here to download your free 2015 planner.

Rock2015

This planner is meant to be printed out and filled out with an old-fashioned pen or pencil. I find it best to take a quiet moment (an hour or two if you can spare it) to go through it and chart your course for the upcoming year.

Let’s rock it!

*cue guitar music*

Planning specific goals always makes me PUMPED to take action.

I hope this makes you feel the same. But more importantly, I hope this planner gives you a kick-ass jump start on your best year ever.

Also, if you know anyone else who might be interested in snagging their own copy of this planner, please point them to this blog post.

And if you’re looking for a little more accountability, leave a comment with your goals for the year. Announcing them to the world will give you even more motivation to get going!

The Art of Selling Art: Part 3 – Discover the REAL Value of Your Products

The Art of Selling Art - Part 3

Hey there friend! Welcome to Part 3 of my mini-blogging series entitled The Art of Selling Art, in which I attempt to make you feel better about exchanging your handmade creations for cash, (and teach you how to make it happen more often.) In case you need to catch up, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Today I’m going to talk about how to assign a value to your art.

But first I’d like to talk about shopping for clothing.

(I’ll connect the dots! I promise.)

Here is the northern hemisphere autumn is sliding into winter. As the temperature decreases we inevitably become more conscious of the function our clothing serves.

We start reaching for blouses with longer sleeves leggings lined with fleece, and overcoats covered i9n faux fur for warmth.

But of course, there are still those of us who remain  fashion conscious and still want to make sure that our blouse is a flattering fit, and our fleece-lined leggings will match our booties and earrings.

Still others within the same and separate division want to ensure that the blouse and leggings are comfortable enough to wear for long hours. Some even consider whether or not the items could be realistically slept in.

Can you see how the function of something originally thought to be intended for warmth starts to evolve? It comes from a item created to cover, protect, and heat our largest organ (our skin) to something that expresses our personality, makes us feel comfortable, confident, and individualized.

A shirt isn’t just a shirt. A blouse isn’t just a blouse.

These can be items we wear to identify and define ourselves with. They are more than the sum of their basic functions.

And so is your product. It is not just a necklace, scarf, picture, mug, or whatever its original, utilitarian classification may be.

Function is only a small part of why people buy products, and often times, it isn’t even the most significant or relevant part. While function does count, it isn’t the whole picture.

Yes, it matters if the item is the right size / fit / material. But beyond that? After someone is sold on the basics, then things start getting more abstract. They want to buy something that feels specialized for them.

People will pay extra for something they perceive as unique and personal–something they can view as an extension of themselves.

When someone is looking for a new blouse, to go back to my original example, she may try to find one that not only looks fantastic on her, but that she also knows will match most of what she has in her closet. If she can locate one matching both qualifications, then it’s probably going to be okay if the cost is a little bit more than what she was expecting to pay.

She isn’t just buying a blouse. Now she is buying something that will make her feel more confident to speak up in work meetings, more comfortable running errands, and more attractive while getting herself ready in the mornings. If these are things she values, the perfect find is worth it to her.

When someone buys one of my beaded barrettes, they start off by observing the practical functionality of a quick and easy way to fix their hair.

But then it goes beyond that.

They become attracted to the intricacies of the beadwork, and start to view the piece more as a work of art than a basic clip. They feel the rich colors will compliment their variety of hair tone, and they know that the combination of both together will trigger lots of attention and compliments, making them feel more confident as they go about their day. Because my pieces are so different from any of the usual barrettes anyone can find at a depart store or chain hair salon, they feel they are purchasing something that is a direct expression of their own personality and style. They may even be buying a piece that they know they will wear almost everyday, making nearly any price tag worth it in the long run. The sense of confidence and overall work of beauty that will be shipped to them is worth so much more than the asking price, in their minds anyway, and that’s all that really matters.

I think you get the idea.

Yes, your product probably serves some kind of function, whether its to complete an outfit, decorate a wall space, serve a beverage, or be used to complete a different project. But it is so much more than that.

When communicating the features and benefits of your products, strive to demonstrate its offerings beyond its basic function. Your own confidence in your work and its value will increase as you learn and discover all of the underlying motivations of your customers, and asking for the right price will get easier.

It will always be hard to sell your own creations, but knowing and believing in the real value of what you are offering will make it lesser and lesser of a struggle.

 

Thanks for joining me for this mini blog series! If you liked what you’ve read, please share it with your other biz friends–because even the most confident-seeming among us can use the occasional boost. ;-)

The Art of Selling Art – Part 2

The Art of Selling Art Part 2

Hey there friend! Welcome to Part 2 of my mini-blogging series entitled The Art of Selling Art, in which I attempt to make you feel better about exchanging your handmade creations for cash, (and teach you how to make it happen more often.) If you miss Part 1, you can catch it here.

Today I’m going to talk about sell-outs.

Being labeled as a “sell-out” is a very real fear for a lot of talented people within the art community, and it amplifies the already existing fears we have around selling in general.

I remember back when I was in college, attending art classes, and this subject would come up from time to time.

During an in-class critique session we would all stand around a single piece of work from a student and delve into our interpretation of it. We would talk about technique, composition, visual themes, aesthetics, and the emotions emulating from the piece. We would be sure to note if the work touched on irony, philosophical judgement, and analyze how it compared to other works from the well-known masters we were currently studying in all of our art history classes.

No one ever dared to mention the question floating around in all of our minds: “Would anyone actually buy this?”

The unfortunate thing about a lot of art schools, including the one I attended, is that we were taught a lot about making art and art theory. We weren’t taught a thing about selling art. In fact, the very thought of selling art was dangerously close to the idea of selling out. And no one wants to be a sell-out.

For example, one of my classmates was a painter. He would take extremely large chunks of discarded wooden boards and paint abstract landscape-like shapes in a variety of bright colors across the entire humungous pieces.

This student would proudly proclaim that he could make a living off of painting, if he wanted to sell-out and paint medium-sized sunsets that could hang in people living rooms.

But of course he refused to do so. Instead, he would make money doing back-breaking landscaping work and other odd jobs, while continuing to paint his large brightly-colored abstract pieces in his down-time, purely for his own artistic fulfillment.

Here’s where he was mistaken: this student was assuming that just because his audience wasn’t the largest audience, he didn’t have one at all.

Please allow me to correct this lines of thinking. It needs to be stopped right here and right now.

You don’t have to completely change what it is you create in order to sell your artwork. (click to tweet this!)

Mainly it’s only a matter of finding your niche audience, the people who feel that your style speaks to them and will like what you make. Chances are, you’ll be even more successful for your ability to sell something different, and stand out from the masses all selling the same thing. It’s a mistake to think that merely because there is a lot of something selling within the marketplace (generic sunset paintings) that you need to disregard what you like to make (abstract paintings on re-purposed wood) in order to make any money at what you do. On the contrary, you simply need to find the people who also like what you make, but are unable or unwilling to make it themselves.

Your integrity as an artist is not compromised if you choose to make a living off of what you do.

You are not a sell-out if you can find buyers who want to purchase your work. Likewise, you are not a sell-out if you choose to optimize your work for the purposes of increasing your business. For example, creating prints from your larger paintings to enable your ability to sell smaller works (that, yes, could fit in someone’s living room.) This is not selling out, it is simply allowing your work to be more accessible to the audience that LOVES your work already. You are merely giving them an opportunity to share in it.

They don’t really teach you this in art school, but it is possible to be an entrepreneur and and artist at the same time. In fact, it is not only possibly, but can actually fuel the growth of your artwork and the expansion of your talent. When you no longer have to squeeze in time only when you aren’t busy working multiple day jobs just to pay the bills, you’ll be able to dedicate more time and effort into improving and expanding your chosen art form. Choosing to sell (which isn’t the same as selling out) could very well be the best decision you could make for the very sake of your art.

 

I hope that this post has helped to feel better about making money off of your creative work. Now the next step, of course, is going to be convincing other people that you work is valuable enough to pay for. I talk about that here, in part 3.

The Art of Selling Art – Part 1

The Art os Selling Art - Part 1

Hey there friend! Welcome to Part 1 of my mini-blogging series entitled The Art of Selling Art, in which I attempt to make you feel better about exchanging your handmade creations for cash, (and teach you how to make it happen more often.)

I’d like to start things off by talking about the big green monster.

Oh, how we artisans, craft-persons, and creative sellers swell with envy at the mention of other commodity sellers in the overall business realm.

Easy for them, we think, they are selling a practical good that people actually need.

We think that when one is selling something that people are going to buy anyway, the marketing can just take care of itself. We are wrong of course, but we think this nonetheless.

We think, for example, that people are going to buy a new washing machine when theirs breaks. They don’t really need to be persuaded or led through a sales funnel, or cozied up to on social media. Chances are, they are going to buy a new one regardless, simply because they don’t particularly like trekking to the laundry mat or the even less appealing alternative: letting piles of dirty clothes gradually build into mountains on their bedroom floors over time.

Those washing-machine sellers have it easy, we think.

It’s much harder to sell a luxury good like fine art photography or jewelry, right?

But of course we are wrong, because when we really stop to think about it, we just might realize that, sure, while there is a pretty good demand for such a product, most people only go out into the market for a washing machine when their old one kicks the bucket, or starts shredding all of their clothes back into the threads from whence they came. Then, when their machine finally implodes, there are several different brands they can choose from and only so many selling points with which a company can differentiate its utilitarian product before it has to start competing on price. Before long, the company is running on razor thin profit margins and cutting corners and sacrificing quality just to stay competitive.

Does that sound like fun to you?

I didn’t think so.

You can replace my arbitrary “washing machine” example with any number of “need to have” goods and you’re going to find strikingly similar results. What at first seems like a easy sell (the done-for-you persuasion of being able to wash your clothes at home), starts to get more complicated as you delve into the details.

This is why I, for one, would never want to sell technology, or any other product that other vendors could potentially be selling the exact same thing as me. Eventually, you end up competing in a price war that leaves no room for a positive customer experience. (This has become an even more obvious  issue with online shopping and its consequent side-by-side comparison sites such as Amazon and shopping search engines.)

In contrast, when I sell one of my handcrafted necklaces, I don’t have to wait until someone loses  or breaks an already existing necklace – because it is perfectly acceptable to own two necklaces. Or three. Or five hundred. (No judgement.)

It’s also a lot more common for something like a necklace or a painting or a handmade scarf to be purchased as a gift than something utilitarian. Other than for weddings and the occasional home warming celebration, most people aren’t out shopping for major appliances or furniture to give to their loved ones.

A pair of earrings tends to fit better into a stocking than a new oven.

People also like to have a variety of pieces to go with all of their different outfits. You’re never going to give someone a pair of earrings and have them respond to you with, “Oh, sorry, but I already own a pair.”

Conclusion? Stop feeling bad about selling something that people don’t “need.” (click to tweet this!)

We humans buy a lot of shtyte we don’t–technically–need.

(Though if you asked me in person, I would keep a completely straight face while I told you that, yes, my collection of over a hundred pairs of shoes is, in fact, a necessity in my life.)

In fact, MOST of what we buy we don’t “need.”

And when you think about it that way, selling a luxury good doesn’t seem like a cause for such an envy-induced pity party, now does it?

Everyone thinks its easier to sell what the other guy is selling, especially when we look over and see a different product or industry doing well. But selling is hard, no matter what you’re offering. It’s an art that takes practice, dedication, and mastery to get right. If it were easy, we’d all be millionaires by now. But even though it isn’t, doesn’t mean it isn’t something worth learning how to do.

 

Still feeling uncomfortable with the idea of asking for money in exchange for your art? Click here for Part 2 of the series, in which I address the difference between “Selling Out” and “Selling Art.”

Beaded Moonstone Shoe Clips Tutorial

Moonstone Shoe Clips Tutorial

The following is a step-by-step tutorial with aided pictures for how to make your own set of beaded moonstone shoe clips.

Supplies Used:

#13 Smoke Topaz Transparent Hex cut beads

#11 Transparent White Seed Beads

5mm Moonstone Gemstone Beads (Source: Gemstone beads from Auntie’s Beads)

14mm Moonstone Teardrop Gemstone Beads (Source: Gemstone beads from Auntie’s Beads)

Beading Needle

White Beading Thread

Stiff White Felt

White Non-Woven Fabric Backing

Scissors

Metal Shoe Clips

Beaded Shoe Clip Supplies

Step 1: Thread your needle with about a yard of the white beading thread. Bring it up through the center of a piece of the stiff white felt, cut to a square of about 4 inches. String on the 14mm teardrop gemstone bead, and bring your needle back through the felt on the gemstone’s other side. Tie the end tail of your thread to your main thread in a secure knot. Thread back through the gemstone a couple more times to secure it in place and the center of your design.

shoe-clip-tutorial-18shoe-clip-tutorial-16 shoe-clip-tutorial-17

Step 2: string on 2-3 of the white seed beads. Bring your needle back through the back of the felt at the point where the beads end, when being place against the teardrop gemstone bead.

bead embroidery tutorial

Step 3: Bring your needle and thread back up through the center of the beads added in the previous step, and thread through the remaining beads until you are coming out the end of the beads just added.

shoe-clip-tutorial-14 shoe-clip-tutorial-13

Step 4: Repeat the last two steps until you have added a row of bead embroidered white beads that surrounds the teardrop bead.

shoe-clip-tutorial-12

Step 5: From the bead you end up coming out of, string on a single white seed bead, and, skipping a bead, thread through the next single white beads from the row you just added.

shoe-clip-tutorial-10

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 all the way around the beaded embroidery row.

shoe-clip-tutorial-9

Step 7: Now, thread a single white seed bead in-between each of the beads added in the previous step, creating a peyote bezzle around the teardrop bead.

shoe-clip-tutorial-8

Step 8: Bring your needle and thread back though the bezzle created in the previous step, until you are coming out the back end of the felt. The bring your needle back up next to the first bead embroider row you created, and add another rose, this time of #13 hex cut beads.

shoe-clip-tutorial-7

Step 9: Embroider another row, this time of alternating hex cut and white seed beads.

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Step 10: Embroider another row, this time of just white seed beads.

shoe-clip-tutorial-5

Step 11: Embroider another alternating row.

shoe-clip-tutorial-4

Step 12: Embroider another row of only hex cut beads.

shoe-clip-tutorial-3

Step 13: Cut around your beaded design, being careful not to cut your beading thread, and leaving a small lip of white felt around the design for a final row of bead embroidery.

shoe-clip-tutorial-2

Step 14: Embroider a final row of white seed beads around the edge of your design.

shoe-clip-tutorial-1

Step 15: From where your needle and thread come out, string on 1 hex bead, 1 5mm gemstone bead, and 1 hex bead. Skipping 3 of the white seed beads from the embroidered row you added in the previous step, thread through 1 of the white seed beads from the row.

shoe-clip-tutorial-25

Step 16: Add 1 hex bead, 1 white seed bead, and 1 hex bead. As in the previous step, skip 3 white seed beads and thread through the following white seed bead. Repeat this and the previous step in an alternating pattern all the way around the bead embroidered row. Go back through the lacework added in this and the previous step a second time to give it durability.

shoe-clip-tutorial-24

Step 17: tie off your thread on the back side of the felt and cut off the access. Then, glue or stitch the white fabric backing to the design to cover, hide and protect your stitch work.

shoe-clip-tutorial-22

Step 18: After the glue dries, cut away the access fabric backing form around the design.

shoe-clip-tutorial-21 shoe-clip-tutorial-20

Step 19: Glue and/or stitch the metal shoe clip to the back of your design.

shoe-clip-tutorial-19

Step 20: Repeat all of the above steps a second time to complete your pair.

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If you would rather purchase a pair of these shoe clips than make them yourself, they are available in my web store here.

 

15 Ways to Get E-mail Subscribers

If you read my previous blog post on why you should have an e-mail list for your business and decided to go for it, then, well… awesome! But now you might be wondering, “Okay, smart-ass, so how do I get more people than my mom to actually sign up for it?”

I’m glad you asked.

There are lots of things you can do! In fact, here’s a whopping list of 15 different ways to get e-mail subscribers so you can hook those new readers and build your numbers fast.

1. Have a place where people can actually give you their e-mail. (This sounds like a DUH piece of advice, but hear me out.) If you have a website, this is generally the opt-in box (like the one I have on my sidebar for this blog), or if you are only on Etsy at the moment then it’s the page created through your e-mail provider with your opt-in that you can direct people to with a link. (However, if you’ve been considering getting your own website, then having one even just for a landing page to send customers to give you their e-mail addresses and direct them to everywhere else you are online is a very valid reason to start, among others.)

E-mail opt in example

2. Have a pop-up on your website. Yes, these things are annoying. Yes, everybody hates them. But at least for now, they work! You can make them less annoying by having a delayed period before they show up (the one on my website is twelve seconds), or even get all advanced and have it so the popup will only show up the first time someone comes to your site, never to show its face again, depending on your visitor’s cookie saving settings.

3. Bribe people. (Otherwise known as an opt-in incentive.) This can be an e-mail in exchange for a discount, free shipping on their first order, a free sample (like the one I offer on this blog of my Run a Handmade Business and Keep your Day Job course), a care guide or your products, a free gift with their first purchase, and so on. Get creative and see what free goodies you can pass along! (Just be careful not to do anything that will get so expensive it puts you out of business!)

4. Let them know what they’ll actually be getting in their inbox. Will you be passing along style advice? Tutorials? Early bird sale specials? Weekly jokes? Inspirational images? Whatever it is you will be e-mailing your list, let them know! There will be people who will sign up simply because they look forward to what you’ll be sending their way, and it helps to set up their expectations properly.

5. Run a contest. Make the prize something awesome (and relevant to your business, you want to be collecting the right e-mail addresses here) and require that people have to give you their e-mail address in order to enter. Make some bonus entries available if people share the content with their friends, spreading the word and the number of e-mails you’ll have the opportunity to collect.

An example of a contest I ran on my website a couple of weeks ago.

An example of a contest I ran on my website a couple of weeks ago.

6. Have someone else run a contest. Use the same requirements as above, but partner with another blogger or website so you can gain their readership and the exposure of their audience along with your own. You could even team up with multiple sellers to all pitch in for one big, awesome prize that no one would be able to pass up.

7. Add the link to your sign-up page in the “message from seller” portion on the orders you get from Etsy.

8. Add a sign up box at the bottom of your blog posts. If someone has read all the way through one of your posts, there’s a good chance they want to keep hearing from you!

9. Collect e-mail addresses at craft shows. (Hint: offering the chance to win some kind of prize in a random drawing will increase the number of sign up you get.)

10. Add a link to your sign up page in the bio paragraph on your guest posts. If the guest post is awesome, the readers of the blog you are posting for will want to keep hearing from you, and signing up for your list is their way to do just that.

11. Invite your social media followers to sign up. Every now and then your Facebook fans and twitter followers need a reminder. Also, you can place your sign-up link in your About page or in your profiles to increase the chances your followers will act on it, and include a tab for sign-up on your Facebook page depending on your e-mail service provider.

The e-mail sign up tab on my Facebook page

The e-mail sign up tab on my Facebook page

12. Ask your current followers to share the love. Something as simple as asking them to invite 1 friend to join in the fun at the end of one of your newsletters should get at least a few of them to act, even more so if there is something in it for them! (A coupon for them… and their friend perhaps?)

13. Give your list some exclusive advantages… and mention these advantages in passing to the people who aren’t on your list yet. Remarking in a blog post, for example, that the people on your e-mail list got an additional 10% off during your last sale, or were the only ones given access to your latest, secret collection of products will make everyone else feel left out–and motivate them to join in on the good times.

14. Put a link to your sign up page in your personal e-mail and forum signatures, if and where links are allowed.

15. Pay attention to what other brands are doing. Great ideas come form industries that have nothing to do with yours. Observe how other small and large businesses are persuading list-sign ups and let their tactics inspire you to come up with some of your own.

 Have any other ideas for us? Share your own list-building tactics in the comments below!

When Your People Don’t Support Your Business

friendship and reading

Your people: they include your friends, your family, your acquaintances, your mutual friends, your connections, and so on.

You heart your people. But they are people, which mean they don’t always behave or respond the way you might want them to.

For example…

Ask a room full of new small business owners how their family and friends feel about them being in business, and you’ll undoubtedly sense the atmosphere tense up.

Why is that?

You love your business, and you’re so excited about the possibilities and opportunities it represents. You love learning about more ways to run it efficiently, and your soul lights up every time you think of a new product line or marketing idea. So why can’t your loved ones feel the same way?

(By the way, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, they all DO feel the same way!” Then fair play to you. Go ahead and skip this blog post and treat yourself to some spicy apple cider and cinnamon cookies. Or better yet, treat your loved ones to those things, because they totally deserve it for being such good sports. As for the rest of us… read on.)

Hang on there, though! Before you give out an exasperated sigh and whine about how much you wish your peeps would back you up, there are a couple of things I want you to consider.

The first thing is the most obvious: if your peeps are criticizing or discouraging you it’s probably for the right reasons. Meaning, they have good intentions, even if their actions are misplaced.

For example, when your friend suggests that you tone down your business activities so you can make room in your weekly schedule to work a part time job, for example, she’s probably concerned that you’re going to run out of money soon. Most people have a difficult time grasping the slow-build concept of most businesses (most don’t make a profit in their first year or two) and are genuinely concerned for your livelihood. That’s a true friend who’s worth keeping, and taking the time to explain yourself to.

Likewise, when your spouse starts to question all of the craft store purchases made to the family credit card, it’s worth taking the time to explain yourself to relieve his or her anxieties. It’s not always good enough to say, “You gotta spend money to make money!” when you could present a more formulated business plan with projected sales growth that would ease everybody’s state of mind. (And might not be a bad idea for you to do for yourself, anyway, just to make sure you’re on the right track.)

Finally, there is the possibility that some of your peeps might be envious of your success. When your sister knocks you for getting to “stay home all day and watch Netflix” it could very well be because she is resentful of her own “regular” job and wishes she had your courage to chase her own dreams. Instead of getting angry or defensive, instead, consider empathizing with her to get to the root of the hurt behind the snide remarks. Taking the time to explain, for example, that your business wasn’t always such a reliable source of income, might give her a view of what is really going on inside your home office space. Sure, it might occasionally include season-binging on the tube while producing your latest line of bracelets or ankle socks, but it hasn’t come without its share of anxious late-nights finishing up on orders, months where you weren’t sure whether or not the light bill would get paid, and your fair share of disgruntled customers, learning curves, and technical headaches.

Finally, it never hurts to hint to your peeps that running a business can feel lonely. Even if they can’t understand exactly what you do, let them know that you appreciate their ears when you need to vent about the latest search engine algorithm change, or that you appreciate their ideas for upcoming blog posts.

It’s easy to become so submerged in the world of business that we often forget how little the outside world thinks about or understands much of what we do. It never hurts for us to explain a little bit more, and empathize a lot more, when confronted with doubts or questions we may at first feel affronted by.

 

The Big Secret to Creative Business Success

Fill in these blanks for me, will ya?

As soon as I have _____, my business will be successful.

As soon as I get _____, my business will be successful.

As soon as _______ notices me, my business will be successful.

 

So many of us, particularly those of us in the beginning, growth stages of our business, tend to think like this. As if there is just one thing we need to accomplish or get or offer, and then our cash flow worries and business stresses will fall by the wayside.

Our mind tells us things such as, “When I get my e-mail list over 1,000 subscribers, then I won’t have to worry about where my next sale will come from.”

Or… “As soon as I finish developing my latest collection, then I’ll have so many customers I’ll have to start putting people on a waiting list!”

Or… “If only I can get a major magazine to feature one of my products. Once that happens, my business will be successful forever after.”

The problem being, of course, that even what these kinds of big things happen, they don’t magically solve all of our business woes. Not in the same way we imagine they will. (Sometimes, they can cause even more headaches than we can anticipate, but that’s for another post.)

We keep waiting for success to be this big thing that suddenly happens to our business as a result of a single action or event taking place.

The real picture, as many successful entrepreneurs will happily tell you, is very different.

Creative Business Success

A business that continues to grow and thrive, especially in the handmade world, is one that generates and celebrates a continuous series of small wins. The smart business owner learns through experience that it’s all of these small wins building on top of one another that equals “the big win.” There usually isn’t a single event that their success can be tied to.

Success, as boring as it sounds, comes form showing up and working every day. Systematizing your schedule so that you are doing something everyday that will contribute towards the growth of your business. It might be networking, PR outreach, sales and marketing, product development, content creations, or all of the above.

In any case, it’s the businesses that don’t get discouraged and keep going–who know that slow and steady wins the race–that will come out on top at the end.

Big and splashy is fine. Talent is great. But a solid foundation, dedication, and everyday commitment and contribution is more valuable for your business in the long run.



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Tutorial: Chainlink Loom Bracelet

southwest bead loomed braceletMaterials used:

Beading pattern (source: Megan’s Beaded Designs)

Delica bead colors 771,  221, 734, 763 & 3×5 Antique Brass Flat Oval Chain (source: Auntie’s Beads & Supplies)

Nymo beading thread & needle

Tan fabric

Jump rings

Lobster clasp

Standard bead loom

Step 1:

Cut 18 13-15 inch lengths of thread.

Cut thread lengths

Step 2:

Tie the collection of equal-length threads together on either end,

Tie threads together on both ends

Step 3:

Place the group of threads on the beading loom, separating each thread by the spaces within the loom’s spring.

separate threads on loom

Step 4:

Tighten the loom, so that one end wraps the excess thread around its spool.

Tighten the bead loom's spool

Step 5:

Cut two equal lengths of chain, the size of the beaded portion of your bracelet. (In this example, 6 inches.)

cut two bracelet length pieces of chain

Step 6:

Thread your beading needle with a long length of thread to work with, and tie the end of it to the edge thread on the un-spooled side of the loom.

tie your thread to inner loom thread

Step 7:

Thread on the first bead of the design and thread through the first link of the chain for the tip side of the bracelet, and then back through the first bead, attaching the chain to that side of the bracelet.

thread through chainbead-loom-tutorial-8

Step 8:

Thread on the rest of the beads of your row, and separate them so that each bead is push up between two of the loom’s threads, with the final bead dangling at the end of the row.

bead loom row

Step 9:

As you did with the top of the row, thread your needle through the end link of the other piece of chain, and thread your needle back through your first row of beads, keeping it above the threads of the loom to secure each bead in its place.

bead loom tutorial

Step 10:

Add two more rows of the pattern, continuing to loop through the chains on both ends.

bead-loom-tutorial-11

Step 11:

Thread back through your work to come out an end of your first row.

Step 11 bead looming tutorial

Step 12:

Weave your thread over and under each of the individual threads, back and fourth several times to create a 1/4 of an inch of tightly woven thread for an end cap.

bead-loom-tutorial-13 bead-loom-tutorial-14 bead-loom-tutorial-15

Step 13:

Thread back through your beginning rows and continue to follow to pattern to complete your beading. Unspool and tighten the threads to achieve the desired length on your bracelet. Repeat step 12 at the opposite end of your beadwork.

bead loom bracelet instructions

Step 14:

Add some glue to the end caps of thread on both end of the bracelet. Let dry and remove from the loom.

bead-loom-tutorial-17

Step 15:

Cut off the loose threads and cut out two rectangle piece of fabric that, when folded in half, measure just over the length of the thread caps on your bracelet.

bead-loom-tutorial-18 bead-loom-tutorial-19

Step 16:

Apply more glue to the thread caps and fold over the piece of fabric over each side. Let dry.

bead-loom-tutorial-20 bead-loom-tutorial-20-1

Step 17:

Cut out two lengths of 10-links of chain and link both end to either end of the chain attached to your bracelet on both sides.

bead-loom-tutorial-21 bead-loom-tutorial-22

Step 18:

Finish off both ends of the bracelet by attaching the jump rings over the loops of chain added in the previous step. Add the lobster clasp on one end, and multiple jump rings for optimal size on the other.

bead-loom-tutorial-23 bead-loom-tutorial-24



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