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What Will You Make Of 2016?

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I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. I find that slowly easing into 2016 is my preferred way to tackle the new year but when the team at Etsy told me about their Etsy Resolution idea which asks makers and designers around Australia and the world to turn creative dreams into reality I couldn't resist getting behind such a great cause. 

Kicking off today, Etsy.com, the online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods, is helping makers and designers around Australia - and the world - turn their creative dreams into a reality in 2016 with the launch of Etsy Resolution, a free four week online bootcamp kicking off on 25 January. 

Mentored and led by four Australian makers and small business owners who have succeeded in making their own creative business dreams come true on Etsy, Etsy Resolution aims to harness the momentum of the new year and help creatives make the most of 2016. 

The comprehensive - and free - four week online program will give participants access to tried and tested tips, tricks and lessons, direct from the people who know best, walking them through the process of starting an Etsy shop and growing it into a thriving online business. 

According to Etsy’s Managing Director for Australia and Asia, Helen Souness, confidence, time and fear of failure are often barriers that Australian creatives encounter when considering selling their goods online, all of which the Etsy Resolution program aims to tackle. 

“We know there are so many talented creatives out there who have long considered sharing their work with the world and starting an Etsy shop, but need a little extra information, inspiration or just some encouragement,” she said. “Etsy Resolution aims to deliver all that and more, making the whole process simpler with fun, practical and collaborative lessons for anyone from aspiring full time creatives to those looking for a creative outlet or just a little extra income.”

The program comprises a series of self-paced online lessons released over four weeks with participants also invited to join a dedicated Facebook group where they connect with mentors and others taking part in Etsy Resolution, share their progress, ask questions and get feedback.

Etsy Resolution 2016 builds on the success of the inaugural 2015 program which saw thousands of creatives around Australia connecting with mentors and each other to learn how to turn their creative ideas into successful Etsy businesses. This year Etsy Resolution goes international with online programs running in France, Germany, Japan, Canada and the UK alongside the Australian cohort. 

Etsy Resolution 2016 starts on Monday 25 January. Anyone interested in participating can find out more and join at etsy.me/etsyresolution - AND as a special New Year's gift from me to you, simply by using the code: blogsociety2016resolution when signing up you will get 20 free listings!

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How to Balance a Creative Business With Kids in 15 Easy Steps!

By Cath Young

My name is Cath and I have creative business on Etsy called My Bearded Pigeon. I live with my husband who is a chef and our two girls, who are eight and almost three. Our girls are at such different stages, our eight year old is pretty self sufficient and can entertain herself. Our almost three year old.... not so much with the self-entertaining.

While I have been writing this post I have put a tutu on her and taken it off. Put dog ears and a tail on her and taken them off. Put them all back on her along with a "lead" and walked around the house with her saying 'c'mon doggie’ while she pants. So I know that lots of mums out there are asking - how do you manage running a small business when you have small children?

Step 1. Accept whole heartedly with all your might that the best plans in the world will be thrown into chaos at a moments notice. I am not saying I do this perfectly, but I am saying it is a thing I try to be better at. Kids will get sick, have nits, need help with homework, have a tantrum, want you to colour in, come outside, play in the sandpit - of course they do because they are your kids and they want to hang out with you!

Step 2. Let go of the guilt. You are ALLOWED to be frustrated when you really need to do things and your children have other plans. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you will get back to it later.

Step 3. Quickly write down your new ideas/inspirations in a notebook or in the notes of your phone because otherwise you will forget it and you will cry. From experience I can tell you that this will be tragic and sad when it happens.

Step 4. Get help. If you can afford to get a cleaner, get one. If you can get a friend to watch your kids for 2 hours and then maybe you have hers, that’s a good idea too. You are ALLOWED to get help, it is not a treat! You are a small business owner. You have THINGS TO DO!!

Step 5. Get up early or stay up late. When children are sleeping GET BUSY. You might get an hour or two or three. Children always sleep for 3 hours when you don't have much you need to get done and for 45 minutes when you have heaps to do. I have discovered, as I hurtle towards middle age, I don't actually need very much sleep - so I stay up late and get up early and probably lots of you are the same.

Step. 6 Acknowledge and accept if you have school aged children the hours of 9-3pm on weekdays are the fastest in the universe, what is up with that? Every day I am home I look at the clock and freak out because ALL OF A SUDDEN IT IS 2:30PM!!

Step 7. This is a business, think of it like that. Have to do lists, short term/long term, goals, plans etc etc WRITE THEM DOWN. I never get to the long term, like the stocktake I have been trying to do since January. I have about 200 different products in my shop and keeping track of everything is very time consuming, which leads me to...

Step 8. Have systems in place. Yes, pack multiple orders at a time on "packing day". Have a day where you get supplies ready, another day when you make things... break everything down into smaller tasks that may mean you can snatch 20 minutes here and there.

Step 9. Can you get outside? If you feel you are frustrated by constant interruptions - just step outside, take the kids and go out. Kick the ball, jump on the trampoline and just try to leave it for now. YES, this will be REALLY hard.

Step 10. It's not just WORK time. You may have your little one in preschool or day care of some kind so you can work on your creative business - that is brilliant - but you know what- it is ok to catch up with a friend for coffee in the time too. You are ALLOWED to still have time to yourself that doesn't involve your business.

Step 11. TV yes! Don't beat yourself up if your kids watch TV or play on the iPad while you send some emails - Play School is awesome. YOU ARE ALLOWED to have some time to get work done.

Step 12. TV NO! Speaking of the TV it is not your friend. The TV is dead to you. You will never watch it again. OK, you can watch a little bit but think of the potential hours of time you have to build your creative business! My husband works nights so I can always grab a couple of hours in a row of silence to work.

Step 13. Have or find an incredibly supportive partner who is ace. Or a supportive Mum. Or Bestie. Or Dog! Find someone to say "waaaahhhh!!! it's hard I'm not coping!!!" to and then they will say - “it is ok”.

Step 14. Choose your space. Initially I thought I needed a completely quiet space to work. I have a great studio where all my fabric is and a desk and cutting table and WIFI is and at the moment it's too far from the house to leave my girls so I moved the computer into the house. Now I work in noise and chaos a lot of the time. This means I can quickly do something in 5 minutes rather than waiting to get to the studio to do it. It works for me. If I need to get things done and the kids are wanting me to play I will often set the timer on my phone and say- "10 minutes" and they are getting better at leaving me for 10 minutes and when the timer goes off - I am up!

Step 15. Join the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. The what? I tell you it is a GREAT THING! Have you ever thought about turning what you make into a business but you are a little bit nervous? Well sign up to Etsy Creative Courage Challenge and get some lessons and support and how to's and what not's! Myself, Pip Lincolne and Etsy are going to make you feel COURAGEOUS!! And help you kickstart your creative business and be HAPPY!

Cath is one of Australia’s most successful Etsy sellers. She opened her shop, My Bearded Pigeon, in 2010 after waking in the middle of the night with the idea to put maps on cushion covers. Since that night she has sold her map cushions, and many other products, all over the world and now employs her husband and a local seamstress to help her keep up with the demand for her products. Cath runs her thriving small business from her home in northern NSW where she lives with her husband, Neil, and two daughters.

Use code BLOGSOCIETYxCREATIVECOURAGE to receive 20 free listings on Etsy.

Finding Your Creative Courage

By Pip Lincolne

Excerpt from lesson one of the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. You can join this free online program to help kickstart your Etsy shop today...

Battling with creative confidence? Join the creative kindness revolution!

We live in fabulously democratised times. The internet (and social media) have given us a voice many of us might never have had, a way to broadcast our views and introduce ourselves to people we may never have previously encountered. What a wonderful opportunity to make friends and influence people! Thanks internet!

It’s interesting, though that so many of us (especially the creative us) are so reluctant to back ourselves and proudly share our work. Why, when we’ve been given the opportunity to speak are we a bit frightened to step up? There are lots of reasons, I think, but most of them can be filed under FEAR. Ugh.

Fear looms large when we’re taking a punt, exposing our work or ideas to people we might or might not know. What if they don’t like it? What if they think I copied them? What if my work/idea is not good enough? What if they say mean stuff about it/me? What if I am kidding myself? What if I am going to be exposed for the fraud that I secretly think I might be?! Shudder. Perhaps you’ve ‘what if-ed’ like this at one time or another? I know that I have.

The things we secretly say to ourselves in these ‘what-if’ moments are often WAY WORSE than the things others might share about us and our work. Start standing up to yourself and replacing those fearful ‘what-ifs’ with some more supportive self-talk and you’re on the road to creative confidence (and a happier, less anxious life!) Have the courage to say good things about your own work OUT LOUD and you’re instantly kicking goals. Maybe you don’t 100% believe the good things you are touting out loud JUST YET, but learning to say them and accept compliments from yourself is half the battle won. Not only are you reframing your own view when you do this, you’re taking the pressure off the people you’re interacting with too. It’s not up to other people to prop you up and urge you on (although, of course, we love that too!)

It’s MUCH better to back yourself from the get-go, stop talking your work down and let others respond to the things you are doing in a more equitable way – without the emotional baggage of making sure you’re okay.As the late Sister Corita Kent – genius printmaker, nun and LA Immaculate Heart College art teacher and chair (circa 1960s) says – ‘Don’t belittle yourself. Be big yourself!’ Be bigging is infectious. There’s nothing more inspiring that talking to someone about their work from a positive opening stance. You’re operating from a much more delighted, adventurous perspective! It’s also super-affirming and heartening to see people back themselves and talk proudly about what they are doing. Spread that stuff around! Much better to say ‘I made this thing. It took a while, but I’m really pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m looking forward to working on my next project because this one was really satisfying and motivating. I like it!’ (Or whatever your kind-to-you truth is.) Better that than: ‘Do you really like it? I’m not sure…. That bit is a bit wonky. I think Blah-Blah’s work is much better. Are you sure it’s okay? Really?! I’m really not sure, myself… Ugh’.That’s a much more excruciating, alienating exchange, right? Let’s not choose that.

You are doing YOURSELF and the world a huge favour by choosing to speak positively and with humanity about yourself and your work. Let’s not conform to the culture of criticism and trot out that unhelpful ‘are you sure I’m good enough?’ piffle.

Instead, let’s be part of a creative kindness revolution.Let’s know that everything we do is an important step in our creative process and creative lives. Talking nicely to ourselves and taking consistent courageous steps towards a more positive self-view are key.

Not only does a gentle, brave approach benefit us emotionally and creatively, others notice our ace-to-us behavior and it sparks the beginnings of a creative kindness revolution! As the aforementioned Sister Corita says ‘Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.’ So let yourself off the hook: Love yourself. Like your work. Talk about your creative projects. Inspire others. Back yourself. Join the creative kindness revolution.

Five steps to a build creative confidence (and be part of the creative kindness revolution!)

1. Watch your negative self-talk – replace every snarky thing you say to yourself with something kinder.

2. Remember that there are no mistakes – you learn from every part of the process, so embrace the things that didn’t go the way you expected

3. If you’re feeling a bit fearful of sharing your work, combat nerves with a mini-meditation. You could try the Smiling Mind app. I like that one a lot.

4. Rewrite the script and talk about yourself and your work in more glowing terms to others. Positivity is catching.

5. Find a creative gang to share your insecurities and triumphs with. Facebook is a great place to find supportive online groups (start your own, if you fancy!) or meet up in real life for the bonus feature of hugs and shared pots of tea!

What are you waiting for? Join the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge today!

Pip is the founder of everyone’s favourite craft blog, Meet Me At Mike’s, and has published five books about creativity and making things and would like to write a whole lot more. She has three kids and a love of toast and tea. Pip likes to make and write every single day.

Use code BLOGSOCIETYxCREATIVECOURAGE to receive 20 free listings on Etsy.


Are You Looking To Start Or Grow A Creative Business In 2015?

Etsy

By Jess Van Den

I'm right there with you. I've been running my own online handmade jewellery business - Epheriell - since I started it as a hobby back in 2008. I never expected it to become my full-time business - I had a career in education, and a job I enjoyed - but life did its thing, and in 2010, I took Epheriell full-time. It now keeps both my husband and I busy every day, making modern, sterling silver jewellery for men and women all over the world.

A few years later, I decided to draw upon my teaching experience and started a side-business - Create & Thrive - where help other creatives turn their handmade hobbies into full-time, thriving businesses. I love the life my own jewellery business has allowed me to craft for my family, and I wanted to do more to help other people achieve their creative dreams, too.

I adore both parts of my 'job' - the teaching and the creating - and have learnt many, many lessons the hard way over the past 7 years in business. I've also helped thousands of other creatives make progress towards realising their business dreams.

So, I was honoured when Etsy invited me to co-teach their new bootcamp for Australian Etsy sellers - #EtsyResolution. I, along with the fabulous Clare Bowditch, will be leading this fun, free, and focussed 4-week bootcamp that aims to assist creative businesspeople like you to kick-start the new year, and help YOU turn your creative dreams into a flourishing business. We'll be teaching participants how to turn their idea into a fully functioning Etsy-based business, with direct access to tried and tested tips, tricks and lessons.

In the bootcamp, we cover a lot of practical topics, such as finding your ideal customer, business storytelling, product photography, seo, shipping tips, customer service, pricing your work, and more. These are all vital components of a creative business - especially an online handmade business. Today, however, I want to put aside those nitty-gritty details, and focus instead on four pieces of foundational advice that apply no matter what sort of creative business you've created.

So, here are my top tips to make 2015 your best year in creative business yet - whether you're just starting out, or already well on the path.

1. Know What You Want
When you're growing a business - especially a creative business - it can be really easy to be distracted and go off on tangents. Creative people often have an overwhelming amount of ideas - the challenge is deciding which ones to enact, and putting the rest aside (at least for now).

But how do we decide which ideas and opportunities are the 'right' ones for now? The key is having a vision for what you're trying to achieve - knowing what you're aiming for.

What's your ultimate goal for your business? Where do you want your business to take you? What do you want it to grow into? When you envision yourself 'making it' with your biz, what does that mean? Is it a lifestyle goal, a financial goal, a personal achievement goal... or all of the above? Take the time to write down your ultimate goal for your business. Why? Because, by working out what your goal is, you can test all of your ideas against the ideal. Enact the ideas that you think will take you towards your goal in the fastest, most effective way... and put the others aside until they, too, fulfil this criteria.

2. Manage Your Money
Could you tell me, within the next 5 minutes, what your gross business profit is so far for the 14/15 financial year? Can you tell me how much money your business made last month... and how much it cost you? Do you know how much of each sale you're keeping in profit, and how much is going on expenses? If your answer to any of these questions is no, listen up.

I see so many creatives make this mistake over and over again. And not just beginners, either! There's a myth out there that creative types are no good with money - the myth of the 'starving artist'. But it is just that - a myth. Anyone can get a handle on their finances - it doesn't have to be complicated or overwhelming. And it's an absolutely non-negotiable part of growing a successful business. If you've got a business, the goal is to make money. Of course that's not your ONLY goal. But if you're not aiming to make money, there's not much point in running a business - it might as well remain a hobby.

How much money you are aiming to make is tied up in the ultimate goal you envisioned above, but no matter why you want to make money, or how much, you'll struggle to succeed if you're ignorant of what's going on with your business finances.

Knowledge is power, and you will feel so much more confident and in control with your biz if you can pull up a spreadsheet or open your accounting software and immediately see your income, expenses, and profit for the week, month, and year. I have an example income/expenditure spreadsheet on my blog here as a free download, so check that out if you're literally getting started with business money management. If you want something a little more advanced, I personally use and recommend Xero - it's pretty easy to learn, and is affordable, to boot.

If you do nothing else for your business this week - do this.

3. Work Out Your Upper Limit
If you're a solopreneur, you have an upper limit - the amount of time you can spend working on your business. If you are a maker like me, you have another upper limit - the number of products you can actually make by yourself in the time you have allocated to work on your business (while making sure you're not working every hour of the day - you need a life outside your work, too, no matter how much you love it!).

So - and this goes for my maker friends particularly - you need to work out this upper limit. How many of your items can you make per day in the time you've allocated? How much money do you keep (subtract your expenses from the product price to find your profit) from each of those sales? If you were working at full capacity every work day, what is the maximum of money you could make in a week/month/year with your current products and current prices?

You may be surprised... and this exercise may make you re-think your product offerings and/or the prices you're currently selling your work for. Or, you might realise you can never reach your money goals alone, and so you need to expand - either hiring someone to help you with making, or with other parts of your business (marketing, bookeeping, email) so you can spend more of your time making.

Bloggers and those who sell digital products - you have it a bit easier, because digital products are scalable - once you've created them, you can sell them over and over again. You need to think about your upper limit in terms of how many products you can realistically create and market and launch in a month/year to keep your business viable. Not only how many products you can produce, but how many your current audience/market will bear.

By getting clear on your upper limit, you get clear on how much money your business can actually make within its current boundaries... and you can decide whether that is enough, or whether you need to think about ways to grow your team/change your business in order to reach your ultimate goal.

4. Play the Long Game
Have you started a new business this year? If so, this particular lesson - that you're playing a long game - mightn't be something you've really internalised yet.

You're probably caught up in the euphoria of new beginnings - full of passion and drive. And what a wonderful feeling that is! But, there will come a time when that energy flags. There will be times when things go wrong - a product flops, a customer is unhappy, you feel like you've 'lost your mojo'. It happens to all of us - and it's perfectly normal.

The key to getting through these lulls is simple. You need to remember that you're playing the long game. If you're serious about making your business a success, you shouldn't be thinking in terms of weeks or months - you should be thinking in terms of years. You need to know that success isn't a straight upward curve. It's full of hills and valleys. And it only occurs when you have dedication, patience, and commitment.

Having a business - especially a passion business - is a bit like like falling in love. In the beginning, everything is new and wonderful. Nothing can faze you. You are full of delirious happiness and energy. But limerence doesn't last forever. It wears off, and you eventually realise that you don't like absolutely everything about this business you've fallen in love with and committed yourself to. In fact... some parts of it are downright irritating! And possibly even (gasp) boring! It can come as a shock... but it's a necessary stage in the growth of your relationship with your business. And it's okay! Nothing is perfect, and everything is in a constant stage of flux. The only certainty is change. Just like a committed relationship or a marriage, creative business is full of ups and downs. It's full of work. But, it's also full of joy, fun, passion, and brings you a sense of fulfilment that you'll probably never find elsewhere. It's worth it! You just have to go into it with the realisation that not everything will be all fun, all the time - and that it has to have the time to grow organically.

You're in it for the long haul. And by making that commitment - the commitment to learn, evolve, grow, and be patient - you are setting yourself up to create not just a business, but a lifestyle - one that allows you to make your creative dreams a reality.

If you want to join Clare, me, and over 1,500 other creatives already signed up for #EtsyResolution, click here to register before January 25.

Jess Van Den is a self­-employed silversmith working under the Epheriell label. She's been making jewellery since 2008, when she opened her Etsy shop to sell her jewellery as a hobby, and turned Epheriell into her full­time occupation in 2010 ­ bringing her husband Nick on board soon after. She specialises in eco sterling silver wedding rings, and works out of her solar­-powered home studio in the countryside north of Brisbane,Australia. She's also the founder and editor of Create & Thrive, where people learn how to turn their handmade hobby into a full­-time business from those who've done just that.

Get Crafty // Etsy Craft Party

Etsy

I talk a lot here about the power of community and no brand understands this better than Etsy. When they asked us to be a part of their global craft party, a yearly worldwide celebration, we couldn't say no.  We happily paired up with our friends from Happy Families Design and Heart You Forever And A Day to create a DIY, colour-filled evening of craft and cocktails.

Following their theme of 'Recapture' we embellished old photos and pushed our creative boundaries all in the name of community.  It was a complete team effort and thanks to Work-ShopIn An Instant Photography and the team at Trolleyd, the night was a complete success and was the kind of event I absolutely loved to be a part of - great people, great music and copious amounts of sugar.  If you missed this party we hope to see you there next year...

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