This advice was awesome and I felt like I needed to share it. And to just have it on my blog so I can continually come back to read it! There are 5 tips for aspiring artists and business owners AND 5 tips for bloggers.
Everything is from A Beautiful Mess Blog by Elise and Emma. Make sure to check out there blog here!
5 Tips for Aspiring Artists and Business Owners...
If you're like me (well, a younger version of me) you dream of the day you will be able to quit your job and support yourself solely on an income you create by doing your dream job! It's an exciting thought, but a slightly more scary reality. How do you know you're ready to take this step? How can you be sure that doing your favorite 'hobby' (ie photography, painting or sewing) as a career won't change the way you feel about it in time? These are valid questions. I want to share a few quick tips that helped me, as a young artist, to put things into perspective and gain a little bit of mental staying-power for my creative career. Don't be naive about 'how great it's going to be', be prepared and do your research! Owning a business is considerably more work than working for another company. Doing a 'dream job' requires a level of sacrifice that can be overwhelming at times, but the payoff is that you have the opportunity to create something that love! Owning an independent business is not for the faint of heart. Here are 5 quick tips for those considering this lifestyle and are just getting started...
1. Good planning means more than hard work.
When I started my business I felt like the key to success was to never stop making things, never sleep and never get caught up with one project for too long. Boy was I wrong! Good planning is infinitely more important than hard work. You need both, but without the plans your work will not get you very far. My tip is to spend quality time each week making a goal list and carry it with you everywhere! You'll also want to plan 'big picture' ideas at least once per season (and plan a few seasons ahead). Post your goals where you will see them and make sure that all the hard work you are putting in on individual projects is also serving a larger purpose!
2. Time is not money.
This old adage might be true in some scenarios, but I feel it can be an unhealthy mindset for small business owners who are just getting started. The fact is that when you start a creative business you can (and should) expect to do hundreds of hours of groundwork in the first few years that you will never see a penny for! It's the only way to get a small operation set up for long term success. Tasks like photo shoots, blogging, bookkeeping and online advertising are jobs you'll need to perform for no pay. Keeping a mental checklist of the hourly rate you are earning in the first few years can be just plain depressing. In fact, many new business owners choose to reinvest all of their profits for the first few years! Instead of focusing on the hourly rate you are earning (or not earning) focus on the value of the business you are creating!
3. Marketing to the masses is a BAD move for small businesses.
In many conversations I've had over the past few years I've heard new business owners explain to me how they can't understand the lack of interest in their product because they feel that their items have a very wide appeal. It's important to understand that marketing to a mass audience (the way Wal-Mart or Target does) is a smart choice for large corporations, but an unwise choice for small, creative businesses. The number one reason it's better to market toward a small audience is that it makes your business stand out.Being different is an advantage, not a disadvantage. If you don't believe me yet, think about your last few shopping experiences on Etsy. There are seas of sellers selling similar items in similar styles, but who stands out to you... which sellers do you remember?
My advise is to choose a small niche for your company or product line and make your products VERY distinctive. Use ideas that aren't being used and be a trend starter, not just a trend follower.
4. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
I'm not very good at answering my e-mail. I need rewards, reminders and encouragement to stay on top of it. I feel discouraged and drained just thinking about it. This is a big sign that it's a weakness. Admitting to myself that this is a weakness and that it's never going to be a strength has given me more power to manage it. There are lots of ways to improve, but I didn't realize that until I was able to admit that it wasn't my strength.
I am really good at illustrating and thinking of new ideas. These things take me almost no time at all and make me feel HAPPY and inspired. This is a sign that it's a strength. I know that after a long night of doing these things that I will be over-the-moon excited and will be able to fall asleep with a smile on my face! This is also a great thing for me to realize and admit. When you know your strengths and weaknesses you understand more about yourself and how to create a schedule that's more productive and inspired!
5. Market for the audience you want.
This is your dream job. You owe it to yourself to make products you LOVE and you'll need an audience who 'gets it'. Once you know what you want to create you need to test your current audience/market and see if they respond well to it. Locally or online you already have a market, even if it's small. If your market is not responsive to the product you are so proud of, don't shelve your idea. It's your responsibility, as an artist and business owner, to develop an audience that loves your vision as much as you do! This may take years, but it's worth it! If you run a primarily local business you may need to move. If you run an online business you will need to focus your blog, branding and online marketing toward an audience that loves what you love. It may sound overwhelming, but out of all the tips I've given today this is the most important!
Thanks so much for reading my new '5 Tips' feature! My next 5 Tips will be for bloggers, coming next week. XO. elsie
5 Tips for Bloggers!
I started my first blog about five years ago, just for fun. At the time I had no particular goals or plans for my blog outside of posting photos of my craft projects and family. Through the years blogging has become a special part of my life and through this blog I've been able to connect with like minded people throughout the world. I truly love sharing both little snapshots of my personal life and things that inspire me here. I thought it would be fun to share a few things I've learned along the way. These tips are primarily written with personal/lifestyle bloggers in mind. The number one question I receive, in regards to blogging, is 'how did your blog become so popular?'. While I can't answer that question, I can tell you that I honestly believe that blogs grow when they are written with pure intentions (not just to get 'hits').Blogs written with a genuine voice will always be more fun to read. Focus on the quality of your blog, first and foremost. Your readers will love you for it! Here are my 5 quick tips for blogging...
1. Create a blog you'd enjoy reading.
Don't allow yourself to feel pressured to write about anything other than what you absolutely love! You'll connect with other bloggers who share your interests, and most of all you'll be proud of what you're creating! If you're a new blogger, make a list of the five things you love most in life. These are topics that should reoccur often in your blog.
Blogging is a lot of work and it's not worth doing if you're not creating a blog that you wouldn't read yourself! Quality blogging takes a little bit of time, sometimes a little research and when you're proud of what you are creating, it shows. A great blog will grow and change over time with the author. As a reader, I love to see blogs developing and changing slightly over time. A huge part of keeping a blog is staying current, so out with the old and in with the new.
2. Develop regular features that are fun to write.
I started writing regular features a few years ago with '10 Things I Love Sunday' and have added several more since. This feature is really fun to write, which keeps me consistent. The features that I continue to write are all very enjoyable. I strongly feel that if it's not fun to write, it's probably not fun to read.Choose topics you enjoy.
Another tip is to choose topics that you play off of your strengths! Do you love trend watching, photography, story time or online shopping? Choose one or two regular features that you are knowledgeable about and very interested in. Think of your blog as a mini magazine. What monthly magazine features do you love to read?
3. Your blog is not your best friend.
(This next one is purely my own personal opinion.)
A common mistake new bloggers often make is using their blog to vent about problems and small annoyances in everyday life. The first time this is done the blogger will get lots of concerned and sympathetic comments. Maybe even a few times. But after this becomes a regular part of the routine readers will often begin to avoid the blog because of the negativity they know they will find. The truth is, most people read blogs to get inspired or learn about things they are interested in. Not many people want to spend their coffee break reading about someone's problems... reading blogs is supposed to be an enjoyable escape from everyday life. I mean, we all have problems.
Solution: When you need to get something out of your system, e-mail your best friend! If you want to write something negative on your blog, sleep on it and see how you feel the next day. I appreciate bloggers who save heavy blog posts for important times instead of every bad day that comes along.
4. Make friends.
Don't be shy! There are hundreds of beautiful and interesting blogs out there. Become a reader, leave comments, make friends and promote each other. Don't be afraid to try guest blogging for friends (or allowing them to guest blog for you while on vacation or during a busy week), adding links to blogs you enjoy and finding ways to support each other. Be kind and friendly and others will return the favor.
5. Trust your instincts.
Listen to your intuition. If something doesn't feel right, don't do it. You don't always have to do what other bloggers are doing. Years ago I had a series of experiences that led me to value my own privacy. If you are a private person (even a little) this tip is for you!
Since there are no rules when it comes to blogging, make your own. I have a mental list of certain things that I absolutely never discuss on my blog. That list makes me feel like I have a healthy balance of private vs. public life. Outside of that list, I can and will blog about anything I feel like. This keeps my blog feeling personal! Learn what you are comfortable with. You don't have to share 'everything' to keep a warm and personal blog. :)
Thanks for reading! If you have any tips from your blogging experiences I'd love to hear them. XO. elsie