4 Things To Consider Before Working With Your Spouse

The first thing I want you to be clear on is why you’re bringing them on in the first place. If it’s because you feel like it’s the logical thing to do, then rethink the crap out of that idea. Three things come to mind there - resentment, obligation and push-you-off-a-cliff-because-you’re-driving-me-mad annoyance. You wouldn’t hire your friend, your next door neighbor or your dog because they were close to you, so you need to separate your business brain from your Mrs mind.

But, you’re still reading this so you’ve decided that bringing your spouse on board is going to make your biz into something it couldn’t have been if it was only fueled by you and too much coffee. Sweet! It won’t be all fun and games, much like delegating the housework, but if you’ve got solid answers to these four questions then you’re already one step closer to Bey & Jay Z status.

1. WHAT WILL THEIR ROLE BE?

I doubt you’re paying your love to come in to make you coffees all day (although that would be amazing), so what are they bringing to the table?
Set the boundaries and the expectations based on ability, not preference. If you love has put their hand up to do your social media but shrugs when mention FB ads, you might need to rethink the role. Coffee sounds good now, right?

2. WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY?

Potentially messy, but laying it out from point A is crucial. It might be that you’re each responsible for a different zone of genius. It might be that you’re still the head honcho and get the yay or nay vote. If you’re brought them on as a partner then you’ll know what portion of the control they have, but if they’re your employee, you can’t be afraid of pulling them up if need be.

3. WHAT'S THEIR WORKS STYLE LIKE?

You like to work in the morning because you’re not a functioning human being after 9pm. Your spouse is a night owl and wants to be working on that project at midnight. Evernote is your second brain, where all the ideas and brain fart goodness is kept, but your spouse has pieces of paper all over the desk, all over the floor and “hang on, I’ll just find that super important page somewhere… here… it’s here, I know it is… I’ll just… FOUND IT!”.
Delegate work that can be done solo, get them on the bossy babe train or find a happy medium between both work styles. Either way, be prepared for it - just like any other colleague.

4. WHERE ARE YOUR SWITCH OFF BOUNDARIES? 

“The couple that plays together stays together.” You’ve heard that before. But when have you heard, “the couple who works together, lives together and occasionally plays together because they’re always talking about work stays together?”

If your waking hours are together for work and together to chill, you’ve got to have your boundaries. Pick a time to switch off and stick to that, or you’ll still be talking about branding instead of bonking, constantly. Life still needs to be functional for you both outside of your work.

RELATED POSTS

How To Get Your Spouse On Board With Your Biz Goals

ABOUT JESS

Jess is an Australian born and bred relationship guru for entrepreneur and career women who are balancing the building of their empire and the connection with their spouse. She helps you tweak the good to make it amazing through Heart Speak and simple, powerful twists in thinking. Jess’ own relationship shift was the catalyst for her business and she uses what she knows to completely transform other couples’ relationships. Her self-paced program Relationship Rebalance (http://bit.ly/relationship-rebalance) covers it all. You can find her sassiest, juiciest stuff at thefirestokers.com and connect with her on Facebook.

How To Create Shipping Profiles + Set Up Shipping Upgrades On Etsy

It’s September which means, it’s almost Christmas. And that means things are about to get busy!!

One way to get ahead of the holiday insanity is to have things ready to go or publish way before you think you’ll need them. Shipping is a huge concern during the holidays of course, so making that aspect of business more streamlined is in your best interest as a shop owner.

Etsy allows you to create what they call “shipping profiles” and you should take advantage of them if you aren’t! There is also the option to allow shipping upgrades which is of course something shoppers will want to see at holiday time.

Here’s how to get ahead and set these things up now so they are ready to go when you need them. 

First, go to your shop settings page and click “shipping profiles” in the sidebar. This will bring you to a screen where you will see a blue button to “create shipping profile” in the top right corner. Click it!

There are so many possibilities here for profiles but as an example, let’s create a profile for a Free Shipping Black Friday Sale! For this sale, we will offer free shipping vis USPS first class mail to addresses within the USA. We will offer this on all our products - a ready to ship item and a made to order item. These items have different “processing times” (amount of time before the item is ready to be put in the mail.) So we will create two profiles:

1. “black friday free domestic shipping - ready to ship”

2. “black friday free domestic shipping - made to order”

Go ahead and begin creating your first profile for this sale by naming it name it“black friday free domestic shipping - ready to ship” (just FYI, customers won’t see this title.) 

Etsy will ask you if you want to use calculated shipping or “create your own”… I’m selecting “create your own” because I think in most cases, sellers are sending similar or standardized packages of similar weight and size. (Calculated shipping is great for vintage sellers who sell all sorts of items of varied weights and sizes.)

Now you’ll fill in the country you ship from and your processing time. Remember, ythis is the processing time that applies only to the ready to ship item in your shop! (You can batch apply the profiles later on to the items.)

Since this is a free shipping sale, just plug in “$0.00” as the shipping price to the United States for the item “by itself” and “with another”:

Now you can input your usual shipping costs for “everywhere else” or the specific countries you send to. Beneath this you’ll see a place to create a “shipping upgrade” (if you are in the USA, it will say “…within the USA”)

This is a feature you can use here and on other existing profiles or future profiles. Input the amount ADDITIONAL it will cost to upgrade the shipping! In my example, I’m offering an upgrade to USPS priority shipping, and since my starting price is $0, i’m inputting $7.00. If you want to offer an upgrade on international shipping you can do that as well.

Now to complete the profiles needed for this sale, you will have to create a second profile for the made to order items in your shop. Once both are made, you can batch edit your listings and apply these profiles to the products in your shop!

Another tip for using shipping profiles to prep for the holidays is to create staged processing time profiles per product. Example: the made to order product might increase in lead or “processing” time after the black friday sale, so you can create a store a profile to apply to those items AFTER the sale which will change the processing time to 2-3 weeks. 

Get creative with this and be smart! You can create profiles and publish them months later. I like to keep a free shipping profile on hand for any flash sales I might feel the urge to run at the last minute. 

If you are interested in prepping your shop even more for the holidays, now would be an excellent time to take my Etsy Training Course! (LINK: http://members.merriweathercouncil.com)

How else do you use shipping profiles to streamline and simplify the business you do on Etsy? 

RELATED POSTS

How To Get Featured On Etsy

ABOUT DANIELLE

Danielle Spurge, founder of The Merriweather Council, is a crafter and craft business consultant to handmade shop owners who want to optimize and leverage their work, and build better brands and businesses. Danielle works and writes to inspire and support makers in business by sharing insights from her five+ years of experience selling handmade work online. Danielle's Etsy Training Course (bit.ly/etsytrainer) teaches Etsy sellers how to position their shops and listings for increased traffic, more sales and improved customer relationships. More info can be found RIGHT HERE.

6 Key Elements of A Perfect Logo

Chances are if you’re reading this, you need a logo. Congrats! You’re about to join the really awesome branded-business-babes-brigade! At the end of this post, we’ll take a proper moment to celebrate your radness. 

But first, let’s do real talk. 

I’ve been designing logos for babes like you for quite a long minute now, and usually at the start of a project, I get an email with a link to a Pinterest board entitled “branding / logo ideas”. And pretty consistently, these boards all are filled with nearly nothing besides logo after logo after logo. Some are logos from brands, some are pre-made template logos that inspire them— you get the idea. 

And I can already hear you saying, “Well duh, Zie. What else would even be in a logo or branding board?” 

Literally anything else, please.

When you’re redoing your bedroom, chances are you’re looking at bedroom decor boards on Pinterest. Same for when you’re wanting a new hair style— you’re probably pinning looks that are really similar to the style you’re going for. So you should totally pull up other photography logos when you’re trying to create your own photography logo, right? Nah. 

Let’s take a look at what a logo is for a sec. Logos are the visual mark that represents your personal brand. They’re often the first thing anyone sees and help to identify your brand anywhere. And just like your personal brand, your logo should be as unique as possible and represent you. So when you’re bringing a list of logos for other brands to me as your designer, what I’m seeing is a shopping list of frozen dinners, rather then an original recipe. Make sense?

Instead, let’s look to your mood board. What elements would lend themselves to a style or theme for your logo? What’s the thread that’s going to stitch your entire brand’s visuals together into a cohesive, but unique blanket? (Don’t have a moodboard? Now is a great time to make one!!) 

SIX REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT A LOGO

1. Keep It Simple Silly- One thing that was drilled into our heads in my college design classes that I 100% agree with: Less is always more. Especially when dealing with logos. The more frills & frippery you add to a logo, the more cluttered and confused it is.

 “But I don’t like just text logos” -- This is a conversation I recently had with my mother (and one I’ve had with quite a few clients). If you’re the kind of person that wants some kind of icon or graphic element to go alongside the text, that’s totally ok! I know so many people who honestly don’t think a logo is a logo if it’s “just text”.

This all boils down to personal preference. Just remember that your logo is not your advertising!You’ll have a million other opportunities to make sure everyone knows who you are and what you do. Keep it simple.

2. Am I Going to Remember You?- While you want to keep it simple, there is a balance that needs to be maintained. You want to be remembered, and remembered for good reasons too-- like having a great logo! So don’t make it bland either. :)

This can be achieved in numerous different ways. Your icon or graphic element being interesting and unique, the font you choose, the colors you choose to use (or not use! black and white are totally ok!), or even how you use the logo.

3. Does This Feel too Hipster? - You want a logo that’s going to last a long time. If you’re having to change your logo every year or even every couple of years to keep up with trends (or undo last year’s trends), you’re setting yourself up for failure. Because if we’re being honest, these very trendy logos are all white-washed and completely forgettable.

 You’re not setting yourself apart and you’re not instilling any long-term brand recognition with your audience. The logos that are green with leaves on them are usually meant to feel very “fresh” or “healthy” or “green”. And while I’m not saying green logos with leaves are horrible and should be erased from the archives, they’re not really fresh anymore. My advice on this is still to simply avoid looking at other logos for inspiration.

4. What If I Expand My Brand? - So what if you’re currently a wedding photographer but next year you decide you also want to start doing pet photography? That’s totally cool! Unless of course your logo is a camera with wedding bells or wedding rings around it. Then you’re kind of in a pickle.

 If instead of starting out with wedding bells, wedding rings and a camera, try something that’s a little more versatile. This will save you time, money and a whole lot of grief down the road.

5. Know Your Audience - Again, if you’re wedding photographer, you’re probably not going to want to have a skull and cross-bones for your logo. Unless you specialize in pirate themed weddings.Then def. do a skull and cross-bones.  \m/

6. What Does This Say? - The worst thing you can do for your personal brand is to have a logo that is illegible. I’ve seen quite a few logos over the years that use really crazy fonts with zero space in-between the letters (kerning) in a bright color, displayed over bright images. This kind of thing kills me. 

If you make it hard for your audience to read, they won’t read it. It’s as simple as that and it goes for everything from the logo to the blog posts, etc. So if you’re worried if your logo is legible, show it to your grandma (or anyone over a certain age). See if they can read it easily and quickly.

These are just a few things to consider when creating your own logo or hiring your designer. (Which, if you need to hire one, get at me, bebes.> ziedarling.com) But as long as you are staying true to your own brand image and avoiding looking at other folks, I think you’ll do just fine. 

And now, let’s celebrate! You’ve just joined the really awesome branded-business-babes-brigade! Throw some glitter in the air, listen to some Nicki Minaj and pop open some champagne! Now, let’s go take over the world with some fab logos, babes. 

ABOUT ZIE

My name is Zie Darling! I'm your fairy godmother, here to motivate and inspire you, teach and guide you. 

I fully believe that every brand has a story and I'm here as your own personal storyteller. I am all about women who want to live their own glamorous lives, who are excited by lifting other babes-in-business up and who are actively choosing to live happier, more glitter-filled lives. 

I also happen to live in Nashville, eat a staggering amount of hot wings and have a cat named Napoleon Fitzwilliam Bonaparte.

How To Get Your Spouse On Board With Your Business Goals

Thanks so much to the gorgeous Caitlin herself for giving me the floor! As solopreneurs and seriously driven lady bosses, it's pretty easy for us to push our biz to the top of the priority list and let the other stuff slip. You've got big plans for your little blog and visions of big bank accounts and copious amounts of time for your family and your love are forefront of your mind - but your spouse can't see that. 

You've spent money on another course that you know will boost your skill set, but they're just seeing dollar signs. You've dropped down to one income so that you can hustle your ass off, but they're not seeing the traction you've assured them will come. You're balls-to-the-wall on a Sunday creating your best content yet, but they're frustrated that you won't get off your damn computer.

It's all for you, darling but-sometimes-clueless spouse of mine! Why can't you get on board with my business goals?

1. Know your why. Know why you get up in the morning, know why you tie your shoes the way you do, know why you breathe… You hear it in the entrepreneur world all the time and I get it, the term is tired. But knowing why you’re getting on the laptop and not getting off with your spouse is your key to getting that point across. You’re sacrificing more than you probably realise while you’re building your empire and if one of them is time with your spouse then prepare for that to come up in a shit storm of ways. If you can say with total confidence that what you’re doing is worth it and WHY it’s so important then you’re one step ahead.
 

2. Recognise your spouse’s values. Everyone loves differently and needs their cup filled with different juice. There are a ton of names for it and I just happen to call it Heart Speak - essentially, its how you love. Knowing how you love and how your spouse loves is such a freaking big deal. You can have anything in the bag with this little nugget of wisdom. In trying to get your spouse on board with your business goals, you'll want to concentrate on their Heart Speak.
To work it out is simpler than you might think.

  • take note of how your partner spends their time and the hobbies or activities they prioritise.
  • observe their interactions with you, even the ones that you don't resonate with (it might be their own loving coming through as a default!)
  • check out any words or phrases that pop up commonly and keep them in your back pocket.

3. Fit it all together. When you next have the usually-awkward chat about when the money is going to start paying for all those courses you're signed up to, use what you now know.
Instead of: "I'm doing this for our family!" try "I'm doing this so that the extra income I'm bringing in will let you drop a day at work. You'll be able to go surfing in the morning without rushing for work. Won't that be rad?"
You'll insert whatever knowledge you've gathered to make sure the message you're sending to your spouse is getting heard in the right language, pushing the right buttons.

I can't tell you that after one conversation your spouse is going to be drafting your emails or sharing every one of your Facebook posts, but you need to stick to this, babe. Mindset shifts take time, but if you're tailing that message to their needs as well as yours you will make waves, I promise.

ABOUT JESS

Jess is an Australian born and bred relationship guru for entrepreneur and career women who are balancing the building of their empire and the connection with their spouse. She helps you tweak the good to make it amazing through Heart Speak and simple, powerful twists in thinking. Jess’ own relationship shift was the catalyst for her business and she uses what she knows to completely transform other couples’ relationships. Her self-paced program Relationship Rebalance (http://bit.ly/relationship-rebalance) covers it all. You can find her sassiest, juiciest stuff at thefirestokers.com and connect with her on Facebook.

How To Turn Down A Customer

Here’s the deal: Etsy continually promotes items that can be personalized or made to order and they foster an environment that favors custom and personalized work. Open any Etsy finds email, there is sure to be at least one section that highlights pieces that can be made to order in any capacity.

Regardless of this fact, it is common for people to ask for custom or personalized pieces on their own volition without influence from Etsy because that’s just human nature. We see things, and we imagine them suiting us better. So you will likely get a custom order request at some point… probably a few.

Custom work is an awesome way to expand your product line and make more money. It’s important that your work stays true to your unique vision and perspective though, and sometimes you just flat out can’t or don’t want to take on a specific request. Here are 3 easy ways to turn down custom work you aren’t interested in.

1. Refer a friend. This is my favorite thing to do recently. If I get a request for something I don’t really want to do, don’t have time to do, or that simply isn’t in my jurisdiction as far as technique goes, I will refer the client to a fellow embroiderer. This works well for a few reasons, firstly it’s a great karma booster! When you refer work to someone, you are basically instantly awesome as far at they are concerned. Neatly, it totally makes you look like a caring shop owner to the client. Just because you cant fill the order, doesn’t mean you can’t help. It is best to refer clients to people whose work is similar in style or aesthetic to yours so that the connection is clear. Remember, this isn’t about competition, you are choosing to refer a friend, and you are freeing up time in your own life to focus on work you really want to do.

2. Redirect. If you get a request for something that seems similar in design or purpose to another item you already carry or make, you might redirect the customer to that item. “This piece would work well in a baby nursery and can ship immediately!” might be enough to close the sale. Sometimes people don’t see everything in your shop, so it’s never a bad idea to try this tactic!

3. Decline with grace. If something really doesn’t suit your style or schedule, and you cannot refer the work to someone else, it’s usually best to just decline. No one will be happy with the end result if it’s too far outside your usual style and approach. One thing I like suggest is putting the customer’s needs and wants in the forefront of the response - let them know that you care about this project and you want them to be happy. Try “I don’t think I am the right person to make this vision come to life” or “I cannot dedicate the time that this project deserves right now."

ABOUT DANIELLE

Danielle Spurge is a crafter and craft business consultant to handmade shop owners who want to optimize and leverage their work, and build better brands and businesses. Danielle works and writes to inspire and support makers in business by sharing insights from her five+ years of experience selling handmade work online. Danielle's Etsy Training Course (bit.ly/etsytrainer) teaches Etsy sellers how to position their shops and listings for increased traffic, more sales and improved customer relationships. More info can be found at merriweathercouncil.com 

5 SEO Tips To Prepare For Holiday Sales

It may seem crazy to even mention preparing your shop for holiday sales in the middle of the summer, but if you want your product-based business to have a fat bankroll come New Year’s Eve, now is the time to start thinking about how to boost your holiday sales. A bit of hard work now will pay off big time this December. Here are 5 SEO tips to get your e-commerce shop in shipshape for the holidays.

Update your product listings with gift-related long tail keywords.

You may have heard that including keywords in your product titles and descriptions is important for SEO. And oh boy, is it. When you begin thinking of relevant keywords to include on your product pages, be sure to also brainstorm gift-related long tail keywords.

“Long tail keywords” are short phrases, usually made up of 3-5 words, that people use when searching to find very specific things. When people use long tail keywords in searches, they often intend to buy the thing they are looking for.

“Head” search terms aka “short tail keywords” might be something like “Christmas gifts,” whereas more specific long tail keywords might include things like “gifts for my geeky husband” or “funny gifts for coworkers.”

If you want shoppers to find your product pages when they search for specific types of gift ideas, be sure to include those specific phrases on your product listings.

Optimize your Pinterest for gift-related searches.

For many e-commerce companies, Pinterest is a top source of traffic. This aesthetically pleasing time-suck is more than just a place to bookmark your favorite recipes and craft tutorials. It’s also a search engine.

Now that you’ve narrowed down relevant long tail keywords for your products, be sure to also include those phrases throughout your pin descriptions where applicable.

If you haven’t already done so, I also highly recommend building out Pinterest boards that function as gift guides. If you sell handcrafted cufflinks or fancy one-of-a-kind bowties, create a Pinterest board featuring all of your favorite gifts for men. Be sure to give the board a keyword-rich title and include your long tail keywords in the board’s description as well as in the individual pin descriptions.

In June, Pinterest rolled out their much-anticipated “Buy it” button. While most of the stores participating in the initial launch are major retailers, indie brands who use Shopify have the chance to be among the first Pinterest merchants.

Do you have Rich Pins enabled for your site? If not, now is the time to make it happen. Need to give your most important product-related pins a jumpstart? Promoted Pins are a great way to give new pins a big boost.

Create gift-themed blog content.

Want to drive organic search traffic to your e-commerce site all holiday season long? Create amazing gift-themed blog posts that help your potential customers save time finding the perfect gift.

People often do their gift shopping by searching for gifts for particular types of recipients: think about creating gift guides featuring unique gifts for grandparents or what to give to the co-worker who has everything.

After you’ve rounded up plenty of amazing content for your holiday gift guide blog post, make sure to include a Pin-worthy cover image. In order to create gift guide images worthy of going viral, I usually use Pixelmator, an image editing program for Mac, but Canva offers a great free alternative.

Create a holiday PR plan for getting in gift guides.

Now is the time to start thinking about getting your products featured in gift guides put together by magazines and bloggers. Most magazines plan out their content months in advance, so if you want to have any chance at a feature during the holidays, now is the time to pitch yourself.

Don’t forget to think local either… while getting a feature in a national magazine’s gift guide may seem next to impossible, hometown newspapers and magazines are often looking to feature locally made products during the holidays. Develop a strategy for yourself and decide what local publications might be a good fit for your work. Create a spreadsheet detailing which magazines you want to pitch your products to, along with any contact information you find for their editors. Begin engaging with the publication on social media now, in a natural, non-spammy way, and if possible, find the individual editors on Twitter or other social channels. Building authentic relationships with local journalists and pitching myself when the time is right has been one of the main ways I’ve gotten press for my biz over the years.

While it’s always great to get free press mentions, there are also plenty of affordable gift advertising opportunities for indie business owners as well. When I was running my e-commerce store, I regularly participated in co-op advertising sites and sponsored gift guides put together by my favorite bloggers.

Plan your holiday social media and e-mail strategy.

During the holidays, you’ll undoubtedly have a lot on your plate, but you can’t let your social media marketing or e-mail list suffer. Create a plan for yourself NOW.

Make an outline of any holiday sales and products that you plan to promote, along with important dates, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You might even go so far as drafting out social media posts using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. You’ll want to set a reminder for yourself to double check everything in November or December, in case any of the details have changed, but the more you can plan ahead now, the better you’ll feel during the holiday rush.

What are YOU doing this summer to prepare your online store for holiday sales?

Let me know in the comments below!

ABOUT MALLORY

Mallory Whitfield began her journey as a creative entrepreneur in 2004, selling her handmade creations at local craft shows. In 2006, she started blogging at MissMalaprop.com. Through trial and error, and a whole lot of Google searches, she taught herself all about blogging, HTML, WordPress, social media marketing, SEO, affiliate marketing, and so much more. To save you some of the trouble, she’s created a free online course, the 30 Day SEO Boot Camp for Bloggers & Badass Creatives. Mallory is also part of the organizational team for Pursuit Creative Conference, a new conference for creative entrepreneurs in New Orleans, which takes place on October 3, 2015.

5 Branding Mistakes to Avoid

As a personal brand mentor and designer, I get -a lot- of emails with business babes asking me for advice. Recently, I’ve received a couple dozen along the lines of: 

“Dear Zie, 

Please help. I’ve been working so hard on building my brand. I’m constantly hustling but I’m not seeing any growth. I don’t have any new followers, and I feel like no one is reading my stuff. Which means I’m not making the sales I need to in order to leave my day-job, etc.” 

And I feel their struggle. I’ve been there. We all have. So of course, I pop over to check out their social media, their blogs, their websites. And pretty consistently, I see a few problems. 

1. Private accounts!! 

This one is HUGE. I’d say almost half of these babes had private accounts. They’d been posting beautiful, helpful content regularly, but no one was able to see it or access it. 

I personally, have never followed a private account (unless it was someone I knew) on any platform. I like to know exactly what I’m going to get when I follow someone, and when you’re private, it feels like a weirdly huge risk. 

Now, if you’re using your Instagram or your Twitter to connect with family only, and you’re not trying to build a brand, that’s totally fine. However, if you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume you’re interested in building a brand and my advice is to switch to public immediately.

“Switch to public? But what if I don’t want people to see my children or see me in my bikini?”

Don’t post it. If you’re trying to build a brand, focus on that. Save those snaps of you looking absolutely fab in that hot pink number for text messages or create a separate private account. 

Unless of course that has something to do with your brand, which brings me to my next point… 

2. Completely unrelated content. 

Unless you in a hot pink bikini, sipping on a drink with an umbrella is actually relevant to your brand (which, it totally might be!) I say skip that post. I’m 1000000% pro-selfie and encourage my branded babes to share snaps of themselves. As long as they are relevant and on-brand. 

When you’re building a brand, you’re telling a story. And how weird would it be if you were watching Cinderella and in the middle of the Prince popping down on one knee, you had a clip from Star Wars pop up? Totally weird, right? 

Same thing applies to your brand. If you’re a wedding photographer who’s story is delicate moments between couples, you’re probably not going to post a photo, etc. from that Nikki Minaj concert you went to last night. (Even though it was totally rad and she’s a babe!) That just doesn’t fit with your story. 

3. Premade logos.

I have slightly mixed feelings about sharing this tip, however, I feel it must be done. If you have a premade or template logo or if you even make a living from making these, I totally understand. I’m not condemning you and I still love you with my whole heart. 

But when there are 5 babes in business and 3 of them have the same (or very similar) logos, it gets confusing. 

I totally understand trends and I completely empathize with not having the budget to pay a designer to create you a one-of-a-kind-gem. 

But I want you to succeed and to have this dazzling brand that no one else can replicate because YOU are so stinking awesome! 

4. Start how you intend to go on. 

“But Zie, I’m just starting out. I’ll just use this premade logo for a few months but then when I have a bigger budget, I’ll hire someone.” 

OR 

“But Zie, I’m just starting out. I’ll figure what my brand story is later!” 

Take it from me, that doesn’t work. Way back when I started out, I was just a dumb design student who thought that I would start a blog about who-knew-what and maybe figure out how to make some money off of it. I didn’t really even understand what a brand was back then, and if I did, I didn’t really care. I didn’t have a plan and I certainly didn’t have my shiz together. 

I’ll let you in on a secret: this has made my life so difficult. Because I never set guidelines and rules for myself and because I never defined who I was, what I was doing and who I was doing it for, I had -years- of chaos. 

If you look deep into the archives of Zie Darling (please don’t), you’ll see a time where I was a pretend-fashion blogger with a lazy attempt at an Etsy shop selling whatever I wanted. There definitely wasn’t a logo and I’m pretty sure my business name was something horrid and moody like “A Bruise Pear”. *cringe* 

My point in this little flashback is to say that if your end goals is to create a lifestyle for yourself where you are the boss babe who is an expert in your field…. you gotta start how you mean to go on. 

So take this as permission to skip over Blogger and start on Wordpress or Squarespace. Or to hire a designer or do it yourself. Or to invest in a nicer camera. Whatever. If this is your dream, invest in it. 

5. Envious-energy is a hideous shade of green. 

Repeat after me: “Her success. Is NOT my failure.”  

You may be like “Zie this has nothing to do with branding” and I’ll argue that it’s the most important part. 

In fields like ours, it’s really easy to feel envious or even bitter towards others. Especially when we see how successful they are becoming. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this (even still!) from time to time. This new brand designer shows up in my feed and she’s really rad. She’s -killing- it with her Instagram, her designs are fabulous and she’s such a wonderful person. Her biggest flaw in my eyes? She’s got more clients then I do. #wut

That’s a pretty spiteful thing to think, if we are being honest. And when we break it down and really analyze what we are feeling & why we are feeling it, it boils down to fear. 

Fear that there’s yet another person in the market doing a similar thing to what you’re doing. Fear that they might be better than you. Fear that they’ll have all the clients / readers / followers and that you won’t have any. 

But let’s pause for a moment. There are literally billions of people in the world. Which means there’s like zero chance that the “market” will completely dry up. Someone will always need a logo, or a photo, or a new fashion expert, etc. in their lives. There is more than enough for all of us and the best thing we can do is promote and lift each other up. 

And here’s where I feel that this is such a HUGE part of branding mistakes to avoid: if you allow yourself to wallow in that envious-energy and become bitter, you’ll fail. It’s that simple. 

If you are constantly focused on what everyone else is doing and how horrible it is that yet another person popped up in your market or niche, then you’re not focusing on that new reader, follower, client, customer that you could have. 

So refocus that envious-energy into something far more productive like hustling smarter or joining my Personal Branding for Creatives class ;) 

I have a million percent faith in each of you, sweetlings and I cannot wait to see what all you create! 

Have another branding mistake you’ve seen or even a branding pet-peeve? I would love to chat with you either in the comments or over at Twitter or Instagram

I just want to briefly thank Caitlin for hosting me today! It’s been rad & I’ve absolutely loved popping in. 

Until next time, darlings. 

RELATED POSTS

ABOUT ZIE

My name is Zie Darling! I'm your fairy godmother, here to motivate and inspire you, teach and guide you. 

I fully believe that every brand has a story and I'm here as your own personal storyteller. I am all about women who want to live their own glamorous lives, who are excited by lifting other babes-in-business up and who are actively choosing to live happier, more glitter-filled lives. 

I also happen to live in Nashville, eat a staggering amount of hot wings and have a cat named Napoleon Fitzwilliam Bonaparte.

How To Collaborate Like A Boss

Have you ever had a collaboration go horribly, horribly wrong? It happens, but it's not the end of the world. I've created this handy little guide to help the next collaboration for your creative business run smoothly.

Click here to access your How To Collaborate Like A Boss Worksheet and our entire private collection of downloads exclusively for newsletter subscribers.

If you already are a newsletter subscriber and have the super secret password, click here to access all our digital freebies.


1. What do you want to get out of it?  Be specific. Are you interested in tapping into their social network or newletter list? Do they have a specific skill that you do not, which would benefit your audience? A good creative business collaboration is like a good marriage. Communication, communication, communication. 

2. What do they want to get out of it? You need to know this. Get clear on what their expectations are and decide whether or not you can meet them. Be honest. It's fun to think about a "best case scenario" that occurs when every single one of your followers on social media decides to follow your collaborator, too.  However, part of your job as a collaborator is to manage your partner's expectations. It's always better to under promise and over deliver.

3. Create a joint mission statement. This is a good litmus test to see if you can really move forward. If you have a hard time creating a joint mission statement, then your collaboration is going to be a nightmare. Trust me. It's easy to jump right into the superficial aspects of a collaboration, like the design, because that's the fun part. However, if you don't have a mission, then you will run into major problems later on. 

4. How will you split the profits? A collaboration isn't always a 50/50 split, and there isn't anything wrong with that. You don't always need a 50/50 split to ensure your collaboration is profitable for you and beneficial to your audience. If you want a 50/50 split, think of what you can do to justify it. If you want to plan a loop giveaway with someone that has a bigger audience than you, perhaps you can make a larger financial contribution to the prize. 

5. Why did you decide to split them that way? Remember, this is a collaboration. You both have to feel like you are getting a great deal. If one party feels the least bit slighted, it won't work. Be generous. I always like to err on the side of generosity to increase my chances for future collaborations. You don't want to build a stingy reputation for yourself.

6. How long do you propose this collaboration continue? There are two types of collaborations: Open Ended and Finite. Even if you are doing an open ended collaboration, you may have very different definitions of what that means. To you it may be 1 year or more, but to your partner it may be a few months. 

7. What is your plan if either of you decide to bail? Life happens. Unforeseeable circumstances may lead to an abrupt end to your collaboration. In order to avoid bad feelings, it's best to plan for the worst. What exit strategy will leave both parties feeling respected? It is disappointing if your ideal scenario didn't work out, but that doesn't mean you can't work together in the future. Remember to keep your reputation in tact. If your collaboration doesn't work out, your partner will be talking. Ideal comment: "I'm so bummed this didn't work out, but Caitlin handled it like a boss. I hope to work with her again in the future." Worst thing ever: "OMG. I'm never working with Caitlin again." 

RELATED POSTS

How To Handle A Bad Etsy Review

Etsy is a whole world in and of itself, and I am lucky enough to know an expert on all things Etsy. Danielle Spurge-Swavely runs a successful handmade business selling embroidered art and kits, called The Merriweather Council. She also offers a variety of mentoring services for craft biz owners, including personal Etsy shop critiques. I encourage you to check out her blog and sign up for her super newsletter. I look forward to it every week! When you sign up she gives you a list of 12 Instagram hashtags she loves for sharing creative work. I hope you enjoy Danielle's guest post as much as I do. Enjoy! XO, Caitlin

The fear of a bad review or negative feedback is a big issue in the handmade community, specifically on Etsy where reviews are public, and play into an overall star rating for your shop that appears on every listing and is prominently displayed on each page. Of course we are all trying our best to deliver the correct item, in a timely fashion, without incident. But hey, things happen.

Here's what to do if you do find yourself in a negative feedback situation:

1. Deep breath

Deep inhale, long exhale. Repeat. 

Settle down and know this is not the end of the world and your business will survive. Keep telling yourself this until it sticks. Yes, it might take a while.

Okay, feeling a little better?

2. Examine

Does this person have a legitimate complaint or issue? Or are they just being a rude negative Nancy? Either way, it's probably fixable.

3. Communicate

If something is broken, non functioning, or flat out wrong in one way or another, message the person and apologize for the issue first! Then, make it clear you are interested in fixing the problem and working out a mutually agreeable solution. Sometimes it's as simple as "I'm sending the replacement out ASAP." Other times, you might need more info. Be calm, rational and understanding. 

If the person is making a claim about the product that simply isn't true, or has a complaint that is fully out of your control, I suggest writing them as well.  A short note to open the lines of communication and let them know you are eager to make their experience with you better can really turn the situation around. Ask them what they'd like you to do. It might be outside the range of your policy, but it might not be. Ask and listen, then decide how to move forward. 

Sometimes people just don't realize they could have contacted you directly, that their feedback is public, or that it impacts sellers at all. Just be honest with them and do try to resolve it so you are both happy.

4. Respond

Once you hear back from the customer, respond promptly. Getting issues resolved quickly will make both parties feel better. 

5. Resolve

Most people are very happy to work with you to solve an issue once you've made it clear that is your primary goal. These people are wonderful to work with - they love your work, they just have had an issue - and they are understanding that things happen. Other people are not so pleasant to work with. If you encounter someone who just cannot be satisfied, you do still have some options, so stay calm. If the feedback is 1, 2 or 3 stars, you can leave a public response to it on Etsy, this can be effective in "telling your side" of the story, but can also easily turn ugly so be sure to chose your words wisely and remember, it is public. If the customer is truly unruly or abusive, you can report the issue to Etsy. They can review it and advise or possibly even intervene if needed.

Sometimes a customer hasn't yet left you feedback, but is unhappy and certainly WOULD leave bad feedback. If you cannot reach a resolution from your standard offers, I suggest refunding and canceling the order. I know it totally sucks, but sometimes the peace of mind that comes from being done with a difficult customer is worth more than the sale price. 

One way you can deflect feedback that would be negative is to include a note with your orders that tells the customer how to contact you via email if there is any issue with their order. This immediately lets them know you are opening the door of communication and implies you are ready to help solve the issue. This simple addition can change the whole trajectory of a bad sale, and the buyer never even came in contact with the feedback screen.

Something to keep in mind: bad feedback is very uncommon. Focus on making your orders as well as you can, and package them so they arrive safely. If your customer sees you put effort in, they will put effort in to resolving it with you. 

RELATED POSTS

ABOUT DANIELLE

Danielle is a crafter and craft business consultant to handmade business owners who want to optimize their shops,  leverage their work, and build better brands. On her blog, The Merriweather Council Blog, Danielle writes to inspire and support makers in business and share insights from her five years of experience selling handmade work online. Danielle believes that a creative life is a happy life and works to empower creatives to share their work with confidence. More info can be found at merriweathercouncil.com

 

5 Things I Learned My First Year Of Owning A Creative Business

5 Things I Learned During My First Year.png

This year at Craftcation one of the most talked about panels was Confessions Of An Entrepreneur, moderated by Tiffany Han. Unfortunately, I was taking a nap in my hotel room and missed the whole thing. Boo. Luckily, one of the panelists, Elise Blaha Cripe, shared her answers on her blog. You can read more about Elise's entrepreneur confessions right here. Elise's post got me thinking about my own business journey. Little Farm Media had its first birthday in March and I want to share some of my reflections on entrepreneurship with you today.

1. Anything is possible. When I started Little Farm Media, I was 34 years old and had just spent the last two years as a stay at home mom. Before I became Mommy, I was an elementary teacher for 8 years. I ran the blog and social media for our teacher’s union at night while I taught kids to read during the day. After I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to take a break from teaching elementary school and wanted to pursue a career in social media. While I had loads of experience doing this for my teacher’s union, I knew I still had a lot to learn. So, I started working…for free. It’s true. Since I wasn’t pulling in a paycheck, we couldn’t afford daycare. As soon as my daughter went to sleep at night I was working at my computer. She stopped taking naps really early, so my only time to work was during the evenings. As my skills improved, so did my rates. As my income increased, we put my daughter in daycare a few mornings a week. This REALLY freed up my time and gave me the space I needed to focus on work. TAKEAWAY: You are never too old or too inexperienced to start. Just start.

2. Be targeted. The best thing I did when I started my business was to be laser focused on my target market. At the time, I wanted to provide social media management services for interior designers and makers in the home space. I did a ton of research on what they read, cared about, and which Twitter chats they participated in. I began to have a really good understanding of what their needs were and how I could be helpful to them. If I tried to be everything to everyone, my growth would have been MUCH slower. TAKEAWAY: Know EVERYTHING about your target market.  Everything. 

3. Don’t get hung up on rejection. Toughen up, ladies and dudes. You will get rejected. People turned down my pitches, but I kept pitching. I paid more attention to why people were hiring me than worrying about why they didn't. Sometimes I offered packages and services that nobody was interested in, so I got rid of them. I could have cried myself to sleep in a puddle of wine, but I didn't...mostly. Okay, maybe I did that once or twice. TAKEAWAY: Focus on what's working and stop worrying about what isn't.

4. Be flexible. Your business will go through many changes and you just need to go with it. I started Little Farm Media with the intention of being a social media management business. I successfully managed Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts for multiple clients at once. Initially I found it incredibly exciting, then I did not. Like most creative people, feeling bored is the kiss of death. I love to strategize, but over time I became less interested in managing the accounts of others on a daily basis. Plus, I was spending all my energy on growing the followings for others and spent zero time doing it for myself. I didn't start working on my own social media in earnest until December 2014. I knew if I was going to start moving my business into consulting and away from management, this had to change. TAKEAWAY: You have permission to change your mind.

5. Be original. Do you know how many social media consultants are out there? Approximately one gajillion. My challenge was to figure out a way to stand out in a sea of noisy tweeters. I noticed that no one was successfully marketing their social media services directly to creative business owners in a way that was both informative AND fun. I was able to draw on my years of teaching experience to take a complicated task and break it down into simple steps. Do you know what got me through eight years of teaching a class full of 30 five year olds how to read? Humor. I use humor to make a stressful task seem fun and less daunting.  TAKEAWAY: Use your individuality to make yourself stand out in a crowded marketplace.

If you are feeling stumped for what how to make your business stand out on social media, then schedule a One On One Brainstorming Session with me today. You will walk away with a clear understanding of how to grow your following and increase sales. 

Can't wait for a One On One? Start increasing sales right away with my social media marketing e-course, Bossy Biz Ladies. If you are a busy creative biz owner then you need this course. You will love it.

RELATED POSTS

Separate Yourself From Your Brand

You would think that because I am a graphic designer that branding myself would come easy. Confession - It’s the most difficult thing to do. EVER! Branding is something that has always come naturally to me BUT only for other people. Since I am a designer, I am constantly looking at inspiration everywhere. Naturally, I like good design so I like a lot of styles, color palettes, and fonts. Since my options to brand myself are endless, it’s so hard deciding what will feel good for my business and visually speak to my potential clients.

When first branching off on my own and starting my own branding company, I was really into black and white with a pop of mint. I liked the playful illustrations and imperfection of hand drawn elements. I was like BAM! This is what I want my branding to be! A week later, I was onto the next thing.. and then the same cycle happened the next week. I was going branding crazy!! I couldn’t commit to one style for my brand. I realized that I had to calm down because not only was this an extreme time suck, it’s important to create a solid brand identity. This is something I teach my clients and apparently had to teach myself too.

Then it hit me - I needed to gently separate myself from my brand. If I didn’t I was going to go NUTS! Instead of trying to represent all the visual aesthetics I loved, I chose a couple that were important to me and narrowed it down to one. I also thought about what my ideal client would want to see. What would make her excited to work with me? I married these two ideas and I’ve never felt more clarity in my business.

A common mistake I see with my clients is that they want to be all things at once. They get lost in the mush of the many things they are trying to convey through their logo, website and copy. They want to serve everyone! When we hone in on who we really are as a brand and what type of audience we want to attract, then we can better serve our readers, clients, or customers. We can’t be scared of losing the people who aren’t necessarily attracted to our style. When you speak and show up in your business with clarity, even people who don’t like your aesthetic will notice and respect your sharpness. Experiencing this first hand has helped me better serve my clients. I can guide them out of confusion and into beautiful brand precision.

RELATED POSTS

ABOUT JESSICA

If you aren't following Jessica Safko on Instagram yet, I REALLY encourage you to do so. You can tell she is a Creative Director within the first five seconds of looking at her Instagram feed. It is just that beautiful. Jessica writes for her own blog, Love Plus Color, where she offers inspiring mood boards, healthy recipes, biz tips, and an interview series called Creative Crush. Ahem...she totally interviewed me so please check it out. Jessica also offers a full suite of branding services, which you can read more about at Love Plus Color

Create + Implement Systems for Your Business

Prior to coaching other female creative entrepreneurs, I founded and owned a wedding and event planning company for 11 years. It started with me and my computer and that was about it. I didn't have a business plan or a background in event planning, but I was determined to create and maintain this amazing wedding and event planning business. As time passed and I became more successful, I began to feel overwhelmed and didn't know how to keep everything running efficiently and effectively.

Four years after founding the business, I gained a business partner who bought 50% of the company. What we quickly realized was that we needed to streamline our business better and it was necessary to implement systems and processes in order to remain consistent and be efficient. We began implementing systems for email, blogging, project management, social media, and our entire client experience from when they contacted us on the website until we finished their event. 

As we grew our team, it became even more apparent that we needed to update our processes in order to accommodate the entire team and determine what was working and what wasn't. We delve into the internal workings of our company and decided what systems stayed, which ones were being deleted and which ones needed to be tweaked a little. After we included everything in our Guidebook, a document which includes all of your company processes and step-by-step details on the client process, we saw a big shift in how our clients viewed us...business savvy, consistent and established.

A few years later, requests from other wedding professionals all over the country started rolling in about how we streamlined our business and keep getting more efficient with our processes. We quickly realized that a lot of creative entrepreneurs did not have these systems or processes in their company and were continually reinventing the wheel, forgetting steps and not feeling as though they were giving the client the best customer experience. 

Now, in my current business coaching practice, I not only help businesses create strategies to take their business to the next level, but I also help them create systems, automate as much as they can and delegate the things they are not good at. I find the best online services that are a good fit for their company structure and team. 

Implementing these systems has allowed me and my clients to remain consistent, organized and get more clients, since we are not worrying about what step comes next or which online business service I will use. Your Guidebook includes your company information, your brand information, all of your teammates, your step-by-step process from inquiry to client and all of your online business solutions you use.

I like to think of your business as a house. If you don't have the foundation built properly for your house, everything can start to crumble. The same goes for a business. You need the fundamentals and foundation of a business in order to get clients, keep them and continue to grow. Creating strategies and systems for your business are crucial to creating that solid foundation for your business to be built upon.

RELATED ARTICLES

ABOUT HEATHER

Follow Me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/heather_crabtree

Website: heathercrabtree.com

Business Blog: heathercrabtree.com/blog

Join my private FB group of Savvy Female Business Owners and get weekly FUNmail: heathercrabtree.com/join

My Streamline with Systems course officially launches in May 2015.

You Can Will It But You Can't Force It

Sharon Fain is a Boss. She runs Right Brain PR and Academy of Handmade. We met on Twitter and shortly after I became the co-leader of Academy of Handmade's San Francisco Chapter. The main reason I love working with Sharon is that she is all business. The first time I got off the phone with her I told my husband, "Damn. Sharon has her s--t together." Whenever I need a sounding board for whether or not I am jumping to ridiculous conclusions, Sharon is there get me back on track. She is most active on Instagram (follow her here), but you can find here all over the place as @academyofhandmade. XO, Caitlin

I've always been a pretty anal planner and my personality is one that tends to believe that if you do the right things and plan well enough, then everything magically just falls into place. WRONG! A chronic pain condition I developed in grad school was my first lesson in You Can't Plan For Everything. Good thing, because when I started my own business (to allow me the flexibility to deal with said pain condition) things not going as planned is just routine. When you are running your own business and carving your own path, your strategies and plans are largely guesses. Educated guesses, hopefully, but still guesses.

In the beginning I would get frustrated when things wouldn't work. I would follow the plan that experts give you (and my own training) and would try to prepare as much as possible. I have lots of experience and education in marketing and PR so I would get annoyed when things wouldn't work in starting a business the way it will often work when a business is already established.

I quickly learned that running your own business, especially one that is much more entrepreneurial, you have to just be okay with things not going the way you plan in the short term, but that doesn't mean you need to give up on the long-term goal. When you are working on a project or something that needs to be done to reach your goal, that's when you power through and zig and zag when things get rough.

For instance, when we had our past awards show it seemed like just about everything that could go wrong did. Our MC backed out last minute, I had an apartment that flooded and I needed to completely move less than two weeks before the show, the awards we made got ruined through no fault of our own, the wifi didn't work the night of the event so taking payments through our sponsor Square became difficult, a sponsor who had promised us VIP bags bailed, the people who volunteered to play music at the event backed out that evening and you get the idea. All of this was stuff I couldn't just be "oh, whatever" about. It was all stuff I had to basically will workarounds into existence. 

While these were all "little things" figuring out new ways to go to get to the big picture of an awards show was crucial. Each of these circumstances wanted to make me go into the fetal position in a corner with a baby bottle full of wine and a box of chocolate. Even though all of this was incredibly discouraging and I had to scrap some short-term things, I never gave up on the overarching goal of the show because I knew that this is at the core of my business.

I think that when you get into this, you've got to have incredible discernment over which things are the "small" things that you have to just be okay with falling apart or not working that you just can't force to make right and the things that are the big goals that you can't let die no matter what. Both are discouraging to have go wrong, but only one will kill your business and the other is just a pothole (uh, maybe sometimes a sinkhole!) in the road. 

RELATED POSTS

Networking for Introverts

What if nobody likes me? How do I introduce myself without seeming like a weird Clinger? What if I forget to wear pants and show up in my undies?

Listen up. Everyone has thoughts like these at one time or another. Even me. In fact, I've learned that most people that excel at social media are introverts. It feels safer to interact and be open with others online in the comfort of my own isolation. Am I right, fellow introverts? Ha. So, with Craftcation right around the corner I thought it would be great to offer up some tips for conferences that will help you work the room and have fun doing it. 

1. Nobody cares about you. :: What I mean by this is that everyone is too focused on their own s--t to notice whether your biz card looks amateurish and your socks don't match. Don't worry about people judging you because they will probably be too busy judging themselves. Once you really internalize that, it will be incredibly freeing. People are not watching your every move. A word about hygiene: The one thing everyone will notice is your odor. Take a shower and pop a breath mint. I always have a pack of gum, so come and find me if you are in a bind. Unless it's my last piece, then you're on your own.

2. Everybody wants a friend. :: People are there to network, so DON'T feel embarrassed to introduce yourself. If someone walked up to you and introduced themselves, that would make you feel pretty good, right? Let that sink in. People want to meet you. They didn't pay all that money just to take an email marketing workshop. If that's all they wanted they would have saved some cash and taken a class on CreativeLive. People are there to meet you. Yes, you.

3. Have an opening line. :: How did a crafty blogger like you end up in a place like this? OK, not that one. "I'm really excited about the block printing workshop with Lisa Solomon. Which workshops did you sign up for?" Keep it positive. Don't open with how bad traffic was and that your room sucks. Your mom was right, nobody likes a Negative Nelly. Complaining can be fun, especially if you have a good sense of humor. However, connecting with someone for the first time over something negative will leave a bad first impression. If you have a few go-to opening lines in your arsenal, you will feel more confident about approaching people.

4. Plan an exit strategy. :: "I don't want to keep you. Let's talk later." It is important to spend time speaking with a variety of people. Sometimes you will find yourself talking to someone for way too long. Having a pre-planned exit strategy will help you get out of there quickly. You could be having the time of your life with talking with one person, but you can reconnect with them later. Be respectful of time for yourself and others. 

5. Use social media ahead of time. :: Look up the hashtag for the particular conference you will be attending. See who else will be there and start connecting. Use the hashtag in a social media post to let everyone know you will be there. A word about following people: Just because someone doesn't follow you back doesn't mean they hate your guts, so just relax. Maybe they want to get to know you first, or maybe they will never follow you. Who cares? The point is to make a few connections ahead of time so you will feel more comfortable when you arrive.

6. Find me for a hug or a high five. :: If none of these tips work and you want to run for the hills, find me. I will have candy in my purse and embarrassing photos on my phone that will instantly make you feel better about your life choices. I want to meet you. 

RELATED POSTS

How To Create A Perfect Workspace At Home

Working from home can drive you bananas. Let's face it. Piles of papers, unfinished projects, and misplaced business cards can seriously hinder your productivity. 

Enter interior designing wiz, Lauren Dahl. Lauren runs Dahl House Interiors, an e-design service for people who want their home to look like a magazine. She also writes a blog, teaches art workshops, and sells her art on Etsy. So, yeah. She's pretty busy. Lauren will show you how to create a workspace that is stylish and organized. I couldn't resist pinning a few of my favorite workspaces from my Work Station board on Pinterest. Enjoy! XO, Caitlin


Create a Workspace at home you can live with

This is huge. It's not realistic for you to get out all of your supplies each and every day, then put them up, then back out, and back up, and so on. How ridiculous is that? Just no. It's bananas. Your business deserves so much more than that. Ideally, you could have a large room that's just for you, but that's not always the case for new creative businesses. I'm lucky to have a small extra bedroom in my home that I turned into a home office, which currently houses all my work stations. Again, that "luxury" is not always the norm.  In dream land, you would say to yourself: " What's up Suzy Home Maker Self? I'm richy rich from all the creative products I make, so  lemme' go spend all my rich people money to pay someone to build me a brand new studio/work space". 

Apparently in dream land, you refer to yourself as "Suzy Home Maker". So weird. Also, in dream land, you have become rich from your creative career. So not real life. You do need to figure it out though, and designate permanent areas as your work stations. Here are six work stations you need to create a functional home workspace.

6 stations to make your work area werk It

Station 1: Where you make things.

 AKA, your creative work station. Paint, yarn, needles, canvas, etc. This needs to be a space that remains a work area at all times. This insures that any project, can be left and re-visited at any moment. It ensures that all of your supplies are readily available for your use. It also guarantees that there will be no excuses for not getting your work done. 

Station 2: Where you compute.

This is one of the most important stations that will help your business grow. You need your computer area to email clients and customers, to keep track of orders and shipping, to blog or document your work, and to grow your business via social media. Moving your laptop from room to room all hours of the day isn't going to cut it. Set your laptop in a specific area, buy a bulletin board, and get to work. 

Station 3: Where you store things.

Luckily, this could be attached, or unattached from your regular work space. You do need a space just for storing "stuff" in an organized way. Labeled. Easy to see. 

Station 4: Where you store more things. 

AKA, The "Not necessary to be visible" Business-y Stuff space. Ugh. Awful. But yes, you do need to have binders and files designated to keeping track of all that business-y stuff we wish didn't exist. Taxes, invoices, receipts, etc. This also can be unattached. Labeled. Easy to Sort through. 

Station 5: Where you display visual reminders.

AKA, The "Extremely necessary to be visible at all times" business-y stuff space. Calendars, current orders, your weekly goals, work schedule, etc. 

Station 6: Where you tweet, pin, and post.

 I know I mentioned a computer area, but somewhere you need to have a social media area. Trust me, it will help you in the long run. A bright window for natural light, and a white table or poster board will do the trick. Now, at all times, you can run over, photograph your product, and quickly upload to social media. #easyascake #omgcakesoundssogood

RELATED POSTS

ABOUT LAUREN

My name is Lauren Dahl, and I am the creative force behind Dahl House Interiors – an interior design business focusing on E-Designs, blogging, and artful illustrations.  I love making things, eating fancy food, interior decorating, and if my husband would allow it, I would be a crazy cat lady. I mean technically, I can do whatever I want (just one of the many things I believe), so maybe I will become one. Follow me on Instagram!