assistant/hiring

How To Recharge Your Inspiration When Your Creative Batteries Are Drained. Or At Least What Works For Me

judiglassAutumn Yellow Sunflower Wine Glass from Judi Painted It

Are you the jack of all trades in your small business? Do you always feel there are not enough hours in the day or that you need a clone, or two or three? Are you constantly pulled in 10 different directions on a daily basis as a small handmade business owner? Me too!

I set high goals in a short time frame and dream big, with that mindset comes being consumed with work and stress. After all, you want to succeed at what you do and if you love your craft and have an insane desire to keep it your full time job or make it one….. be prepared to work your ass off! Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life.

It’s one thing if your reselling an item someone else made, it’s an entirely different animal when you physically make something and sell it. You need craft time (the easy part), then the battery draining part of everything that comes with marketing yourself. That is when the hard work really starts.

Some of the things that I have learned the hard way to keep me in touch with loving what I do and keeping me inspired.

  1. Stop with time wasting tasks! Some things I just totally suck at are writing and visual marketing ads. If you need help with something and have a small budget Fiverr.com has been a life saver for me, along with reaching out to those who are looking to build their portfolio like HS kids. Ask family members or friends to help with what ever they can. At times, I put my entire household to work.

  2. Create a work schedule and stick to it! This, I will admit, I struggle with because I work from home. I cannot just leave the office and walk away calling it a day. I have found that my family time suffers. As hard as it may be if your really backed up, start your work day and hour early or pick it back up when the household went to bed.

  3. Clean, organize and de-clutter your office or work space. If your home office is anything like mine in a matter of one week it can easily look like a tornado went through. Between orders, accounting, show schedules, marketing plans, other projects, etc it can get nuts. I have found if I keep it clean and try to follow the rule I tell my little one “When your done playing with it put it away”, but I’m never really done playing with it. If I walk in my office and my brain is overloaded with a mess… it drains my creative juices and all motivation to get through my work day.

  4. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You would be amazed what cool creative things I have come up with just by messing around and trying something new.

  5. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF that is not work related!! Im 100% honest here when I tell you I watch 1 hour of TV a week and that is the only time I sit on my couch. Don’t let your craft take over your life. I’m a very energetic and on the go person. BUT I do schedule a full body massage every 6 weeks or so (partially because I have to with my neck always looking down painting), but the rest is a treat to myself. I also go to kickboxing classes about 4 days a week. Find what works for you and take care of you.

These are just some of the things that I have found work for me. I would love to hear what works for you.

Editor’s note: Judi has been a reader of Handmade Success for a while and was our 1st reader interview last year. We have made a lovely connection over email and social media. I love following her artwork, craft fairs and adventures. I added the photo above to give you a glimpse of her amazing work. I hope you check her out too! Her new Pumpkin glasses are now on my “must-have” list for my favorite fall pumpkin beers  :)

judibiowashi

Judi Jamieson-Rader – Judi Painted It

Judi Painted It started out as a hobby that took off to new levels in 2010.

She believes in hard work, dedication, quality and getting the best possible value for your hard earned money.

The name came about when people would see her work at friends or family members home and ask “Wow, where did you get that?” and the answer became the name of her new business as the response was always the same…. “Judi Painted it”.

Judi is a mix of self taught artistry and artistic family traits, she is a workaholic who pushes for perfection. She is also wine lover who enjoys sweets, red and white. Deep sea blue fishing and sky diving were two activities she enjoyed in the past.

Hard work and determination does pay off over time if you stick with it and don’t quit.

If you would like to read more about Judi and her learning experience growing this business, you can read some of her blog posts by clicking here.

I’m a ninja. You can be, too.

Wooden Toy Ninja by Goose Grease

In a few days, I’ll be heading off to Kenya. You take a plane to Nairobi, then you stay at a hotel because it’s unsafe to travel anywhere in the dark, then you get into a Jeep and drive into the mountains for about an hour. Needless to say, I’m not going to have internet access while I’m there.

BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t keep my business running while I’m gone!

Here are the three tricks I rely on to keep my business afloat, ninja-style, while I’m off hugging orphans.

1. Schedule blog posts.

I’m devoted to my regular editorial calendar, no matter where I am on the planet. Scheduling blog posts with WordPress is super-easy, here’s a tutorial. Scheduling means I’m able to hook my peeps up with amazing articles without missing a beat.

2. Schedule social media.

So long as there’s new stuff on the blog, there’s new stuff to be sharing on social media. Today, I sat down and scheduled a month’s worth of Twitter and Facebook posts for while I’m away. Hootsuite makes this simple and intuitive — just write your post, choose the profile you want to post it to (your personal versus professional Facebook page, for example), and schedule away. If you’re not into choosing precise times, Hootsuite will auto-schedule your posts for maximum effectiveness.

This makes sure your blog posts are seen, your videos are watched, your images are viewed, and your business goes on even when you’re at the Mall picking out Grandma’s Christmas slippers or last-minute shopping for gluten-free, dairy-free Thanksgiving side dishes for your picky Aunt Irene.

3. Find and keep a virtual assistant.

Suzanne, the Inbox Mistress for Brand Camp, will not be in Kenya while I am. She’s still around to handle e-mail while I’m gone, so everyone who needs to be taken care of gets the love they need. Bonus: I don’t come home to 3,000 e-mails and jet lag. I know it can be hard to give up control of your inbox, but knowing your business is in good hands while you’re away is a priceless feeling. To learn more about what a virtual assistant could do for your business, check out this great article on Zen Habits.

There you have it…three simple ways to keep your business humming while you’re at the mall this holiday season. I know you’re busy and with the holidays approaching, you’ll just be getting busier — but with these tips in play, no one has to know you aren’t spending every waking minute working. 😉

Kristen Kalp — Brand Camp

Kristen Kalp is a (ghost)writer who believes people should have fun being in business.  She blogs at Brand Camp for like-minded folks.

There Is No Such Thing As The Summer Slump

Summer can be really tough for small businesses. People are focused on saving for their summer vacations so they aren’t spending money on your handmade stuff, or people are just too busy with their kids home to even get into the buying mindset. In lots of places it’s hot (hello 100 degree weather in Mississippi!) and heat just makes people grumpy and sleepy.

At least, summer is a deceptively tough time for your business. Your revenue may be a little lower, but there are lots of productive and fun things you can do to grow your business over the summer beyond planning what you’re going to do when you have to live in a box with your favorite pet.

With some careful planning, summer can actually be one of your most productive times of the year. This helps your business grow during the busy times and can help diminish your stress year round.

1. Get help.

No, not that kind of help (stop thinking about the pet and the box, you won’t ever get there). However, if you’ve been thinking of taking on interns, an assistant, or some other kind of help summer can be a great time to get started. It’s hard to train someone when you’re overworked and overstressed, much less find someone to train! If you need to take someone new on, try scheduling it during the summer. You won’t believe how smooth the rest of the year will be as a result. (more…)

HELP! (and how to get it)

Now that the summer show season is in full swing, how are you are holding up to the demands of running and growing your creative business?

Between creating inventory, traveling, setting up your display and then turning around to do it all over again every weekend while trying to keep the business and personal ends of your life above water is tough for even the most seasoned crafter.

Help by Jenna Ebert Photography

So, what can you do to ease the pressure?

Handmade Success reader, Lauren left a comment on my last post asking, “Has anyone had any experience hiring or gaining an intern to help with show season? Any words of wisdom?”

(more…)

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