Category Archives: Business

Making Time For Social…


Like most artists and artisans, I’m not a full-time artist. I have other jobs to do, other responsibilities and hats I don. And I have to balance family and work life too.

Making time to blog and to continue the social conversations begun within my niche community is a challenge sometimes. Sometimes we’re out of ideas. Sometimes we’re self-conscious. Sometimes life becomes an emergency. Sometimes we are buried in other concerns and forget that our world is now no longer simply physical, but digital too.

It’s easy to let digital anything fall by the wayside when other parts of life get demanding. It’s also easy to think of blogging for our businesses as an extra, or luxury. But the world of marketing and communication today has evolved into something new. And that new is the digital social landscape. Especially if you don’t own a brick and mortar store front, and you want to stay in business; seriously it’s not a luxury to skip out on social – it’s a need that will break you if you don’t satisfy it.

So how do you move past the hurdles and unfreeze yourself and your message? How do you breathe life back into your blog and your social communities if you’ve neglected them awhile?

1) Forgive yourself. Stop the should haves and just get to it. As artists, it’s easy to beat ourselves up for not being more left-brained about what we do when it comes to marketing. And it doesn’t do a thing to serve us.

2) Routines. If working on social media interactions and blogging every day is too much, then scale back. Don’t promise the moon to your followers and then not deliver. Set the expectations that they can count on and then deliver. Keep investing in the conversation.

3) Give the best you can give when you deliver. Quality, engaging content and conversation will carry you when you find that you are short on time. (But don’t over think it and freeze back up because the word “quality” caught you.) Be genuine.

4) When ideas come, keep notes. Write a rough draft or queue up a title for future consideration. Save a list of links for research. Baby steps will help you be prepared when you sit down to create. Really, I view this as no different from my 50+ unfinished crochet projects – all filed away, that I may grab one at anytime to finish up as I feel moved or need inspiration. Only in this case, I also have a 50+ queue of writing and conversation ideas.

5) Stay active socially. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. I don’t have to blog every day or even every week to keep people coming to my site. But I do need to care. I do need to interact. I should be involved with my niches and my communities. And I should generate quality evergreen content on my site that aims at helping the people in my community whom I’m already engaging with.

What evergreen content should that be, you might wonder? For me, that evergreen content reveals itself as I stay engaged with my community and listen to what that community needs. When I pour care and effort into my social media relationships within my community, and reflect that care into my blog (even when I go through dry writing spells), people who want/need my help will come to find me pretty regularly. But I have to stay active in the social side.

How about you? What are your tips on how to re-engage?

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Diversify or Specialize: You Can’t Do Both – Right?


“Austin is a smaller version of New York city.”

This is what a friend of mine (from New York) told me once. I’ve heard that Austin and Seattle are similar in personalities, but I hadn’t heard it being anything like New York before.

Granted, I have not yet been to New York.  Still, I’m not sure that I can agree with her.  And certainly, it would probably be best for her to never repeat that to a native Texan who didn’t already love her. In fact, I’m not sure a native New Yorker would appreciate the comparison.

Still, if you stop and think about it, both cities are incredibly diverse in culture. Pretty much every kind of food, every kind of belief system, every kind of hobby can be found in both places. I never think about Austin’s unique nature much until I travel to other areas and suddenly realize that wait – something’s missing. Or when a friend comes to visit and comments on it.

Oddly, my friend’s comment got me thinking about competitive marketing in the Austin area.

Austin is a colorful and amazing city with a lot of talent to offer. And all of the surrounding cities take on a similar general personality. We’re laid back and friendly here.  We don’t take anything too seriously, except our food and our friendships.  And our social demographic is influenced by the fact that Austin/Round Rock is considered one of the most educated cities in the US.

There are so many diverse and interesting things that can be marketed or written about here. I figure working for Austin Monthly magazine must be a great job as a writer. Surely fun and rarely boring.

But then I was thinking about niche businesses. How marketing (and writing) changes when you specialize instead of diversify.

Austin’s happenings and culture seem like bountiful writing resources, where there’s a plethora of colorful possibilities – pretty astounding. There’s so much texture and color to explore here, all unified by the fact that is all quirky Austin.

But if I were to try to switch things up, and dedicate a specialized magazine to say – crochet in Austin – suddenly there is no diversification. Because in spite of our colorful and rich stories, Austin is still essentially a small town community.  We don’t have the kind of population you see in other cities.  Which also means that the amount of crocheters in Austin is pretty small. And hard to find. Or a least, when you need a substantial support system to justify such an endeavor.

That got me thinking.  That in marketing you can be specialized, or you can be diversified, but it’s near impossible to be both.

Unless perhaps if you walk the fine tight rope of specializing in being diverse.

Welcome to Austin Mural - Austin's Famous Street Art

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What’s Your Favorite Calendar Planner System?


People often think I’m organized.  But they don’t realize that’s not how I feel.

I exist in a constant state of seeking organization.  Never quite feeling like I’ve found it.  Guilty of high standards that aren’t easy to satisfy.

I’ve probably owned and half-used more calendars and planners than most people would think normal.   Even created a few. I can walk into someone else’s space and help come up with ways to organize them.  But for myself, I’m like a wandering Fool who can’t settle down.  And I’m the same way about purses and yarn bags.

What can I say?  I like good tools.  Nay, I probably even worship them.  But anything that falls short of the balance, I will drop in a heart-beat.  Either you’re saving me time and heart-ache, or you ain’t organizer-planner thing.

Toward that end, I’m currently in the middle of searching for a new weekly-monthly calendar planner for 2015.  Preferably one that does everything.  I want the bells, the whistles and the cup holders too.   And I’m not a fan of digital calendars for my purposes.  I remember things I hand-write better.  But I also use my calendars each year as records.

My favorite family calendar is the More Time Moms Calendar.  I’ve been using that one for our family for years – at least since the first time John deployed.  It has the largest squares to write in, it’s strong and comes with great little stickers to use.  Though I kind of miss some of their old stickers.  But I love the iconic use of imagery to be able to put more information into a space, that I can glance across the room and see in an instant.  It’s great.  Oh look, there’s a pair of scissors on tomorrow’s date. Haircut!

But… when it comes to business stuff, managing orders and contract work – I need something much different.

I prefer to use a full blown 9×12 size spiral planner with one week spread across two pages.  And the more boxes it has for me to use for lists and notes, the better.  Some of the planners marketed to moms are good starts, but I find many are just too small.  The kind of planners that allow you to write out a schedule for multiple people are nice, because you can use those extra schedules for projects, not just people.

Last year I found a great little weekly-monthly calendar by DayTimer that seemed to have a bit of everything I wanted.  It was called the FamilyPlus Planner.  I could organize up to 6 people or projects, multiple boxes for different kind of notes.  Some lines sections, some not lined (I like having both) and even a quick dinner menu list, which I found kinda handy.

Well, that cool calendar has apparently been discontinued.  What to do.  And I haven’t found anything else like it.

Certainly, one option for me is to find another Maker who’s doing free calendars.  They might have closer organizational needs to mine.

Or better yet, maybe I should give up and just design and print my own.  But before I take on a painful job like that, I figured I’d ask y’all.

What's Your Favorite Calendar Planner System? - Aberrant Crochet

What are you using?  Why?

What features do you value?  What’s your favorite?

Let me know in the comments below.  Links encouraged!

PS –  It dawned on me that I should make it clear that I do not want to design and make my own calendar.
I want to buy one and use it today.  That’s why I’m asking you what you like to use.  Recommendations and time saving.  Making my own would be an act of desperation under protest and anguish.  Just in case you’re wondering….

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But What Does That Mean?


People are always getting stuck on the names and adjectives and ways they come up with to describe their business, when it comes to marketing.  And it’s a problem.

On the one hand, you want to brand yourself.  You know – like I’m Aberrant Crochet.  Ain’t no other.  I put my stamp on whatever I can.  When I use this personality.  Pixie Worx goes on other stuff.  And I developed the catch phrase for my marketing of “Shop Outside The Flock!”

OK, cool.

But if I’m going to pay money for an advertising banner that barely has room for 10 words, or ad in a newspaper or even an Etsy listing title – while I might make sure that my logo or name or something is there somewhere, I’m going to be marketing key words that people understand.  Not spending all my money on my ego.

Do you know how many people ask me what the word ABERRANT means?  When I talk about being heretical, people ask me what that means too.

Those aren’t good key marketing words for me to use in a stripped down graphic box on the internet.  Not because they’re emotionally charged, as someone tried to tell me once, but because people aren’t Googling them and they don’t know what they’ll get on the other side of that click.  People aren’t out there searching for my brand of aberrant heretics outside the average flock.  And I’m not famous yet.  So what the heck does it mean to someone coming across a graphic ad on a website somewhere if I’m not blunt about what I want to sell people?  (Seriously, someone tried to tell me once that it was unlikely that I’d ever make acceptable friends or customers with my chosen brand name. Really…. Rock on then.)

I’m going to worry less about my name and I’m going to focus my keyword marketing on “crochet” or “articles” or “graphic work” or whatever else I’m hocking at the time depending on the room I have.  Because that’s 1) What most people understand and 2) What most people are looking for.

Sure it’s good for people to see your logo.  “Ooo! Recognize me!”  But if you want sales on the other side of that click, you need to be more specific as to what you’re offering.

Which would make sense to you?  “Get Your Certifiably Aberrant Patterns Here!” or “Unique Crochet Patterns” or better yet “Largest Spider Web Crochet Pattern – Available Here.”  Can you tell what I’m selling?  (Well, OK – I did use the word “pattern” in each example, but stick with me here.)  Which would you more likely click?  Which would you more likely trust?

Aberrant Crochet - Illustrating A Marketing Point - But What Does That Mean

Illustrating A Point

Sometimes we’re too attached to our pet phrases and chosen identities when we think of marketing.  We want to cram too much information in there.  Or we just have to use our “official” certification program on the ad, instead of making it simple on the consumer.  “Experience Certified Wompamized® Technological Advances Here!”  or “Click here to improve your WordPress skills!”  Which one are you more likely to be interested in?

Just be honest with your consumer.  Stop trying to over-dress things to make them seem more impressive.  If you have a good product, then you don’t need to create vague descriptions.  It’s OK to have an amazing brand name.  But when all you have is 10 words to grab someone’s attention, make them count.

It all comes down to this.

Dude – make your marketing messages clearer.  Just like nebulous questions – nebulous marketing messages get nebulous results.

Clarity is King.

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Building Your Social Media Presence On Pinterest


Building Your Social Media Presence On Pinterest - Article by Aberrant Crochet“I get Facebook.  I get Twitter.
I’ve tried, but I don’t get this… Pinterest thing.”

I’ve heard this and similar statements many times at networking meetings, online and from my clients over the last year.

Let me see if I can shed some light for you.

So you have a Pinterest account, because you’re in business and you know that you need a social media presence.  And you’ve pinned some of your things.  But you feel like you’re only hearing crickets, huh?  You feel pressed for time and you’re not sure if you’re “doing it right.”

With Pinterest, the key isn’t in pinning a lot or camping out online for a long time.  It isn’t really about making sure your boards are mass-full of stuff you might not even like that much. And it isn’t about pinning just your own stuff.

The key is actually in engagement and being choosy.  And being yourself.  Only instead of sharing status updates, like on Facebook and Twitter, you are sharing things.  Usually things that are somehow edifying.

How do I get followed??

Follow people!  While Pinterest is mostly visual eye-candy driven, with more pinning and less conversing going on, it is social.  So no one will really see and follow your boards if you don’t ever follow anyone else.  Unless you’re the Dalai Lama, or Oprah.

You have to participate to reap the benefits.  It’s like the lottery – you can’t win if you don’t play.

Now, even though Pinterest has by nature been less chatty than other social media outlets, it doesn’t mean the environment isn’t evolving.  Pinterest now has messaging capabilities too.  How much it’ll catch on, I don’t know.  I think one of the reasons for Pinterest’s success is actually because there’s not so much chatting going on.  How popular and helpful the new features will be remains to be seen.  I’ve chatted a little – and don’t get too hung up on it right now.  Though I always respond if someone leaves a message.  That’s an important rule anywhere.

Put your Pinterest link on your website and anywhere else you are that you can put it!  Seriously.  Same for any other social media links too.  This is really overlooked for some reason.

Who to follow??

Just as you want to be choosy about your pins, be choosy about your follows too.   Start with following your friends.  You can follow all their boards, or just some of them.  I recommend that you only follow boards that interest you. And reserve the right to unfollow anything at any time.

Are you already on Facebook or Twitter?  Start looking for the Pinterest boards of the people you follow on FB and Twitter.  Chances are you will find their pins interesting because you’re already following them for some reason.  Then look through those accounts who are following you on Facebook and Twitter too.  Especially the ones you’ve followed back. You’re just carrying on the relationship started elsewhere to a new visual platform.

From there, start paying attention to the people of complementary mind.  From a marketing point of view, look for your ideal audience or your tribe in general and follow them.  For instance, if you sell crochet patterns, follow other crocheters and re-pin their most interesting pins.  It’s a nice complement, but it also alerts them to your presence.  But also, don’t be afraid to follow other crochet designers.  Chances are, their specialty under the crochet pattern umbrella is different from yours.  But connected together, you can both use your crochet powers to draw crocheters who’d be interested in you both.

What to pin??  

Don’t pin anything you don’t particularly like or find interesting yourself.

Collect useful articles – everyone online needs good information.  Collect recipes – everyone eats.  Collect humorous things – everyone appreciates a laugh.  Collect quotes and sayings – everyone appreciates a poignant phrase.  Collect your passions – someone else out there likes it too!  Collect holiday inspirations – whatever floats your boat. Just remember that if it feels fake though, no one will follow. Only pin it if you really like it.  It’s supposed to be your collection!

You can pin from the people you follow, or you can search for a subject and see what you find.  It doesn’t even have to make sense if you are open to discovery.  A simple nonsensical search for “hairy trees” gave me this street art result: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428475352022205859.  Pretty cool, huh?

Be choosy.  Think about pinning in terms of “Wouldn’t this be great?”  If you don’t really think it would be great, then don’t.  Just don’t.

When to pin??

You don’t have to pin every day, or even every week.  But you must pin if you want your Pinterest account to perform.  So take 15 minutes when you think of it and go look for good stuff.  The goal is to be choosy, not spend tons of time and not even to spend regular time.  Unless you’re in the mood.

This isn’t blogging or tweeting.  This is collecting.  So just like successful antique shopping, you want to make sure you spend time doing it, which helps you better understand the market and what’s going on, and then you flow with it. Some days you’ll find only a couple interesting things.  Others, maybe a treasure trove.  Let your heart sing, but pretend you’re on a budget when you’re trying to decide what you like most.

What about my stuff??

Yes, you should definitely pin your own stuff to your Pinterest boards.  In fact, you want to be the first to pin them if at all possible.  Though I advise you to wait a few days after you’ve published before you pin.  (It helps your pin show up in feeds more prominently if whatever you’re sharing has already gained attention elsewhere first.)

Pin your stuff, but don’t forget that so much of social media culture is about sharing cool stuff you find.  This is more true about Pinterest than any other platform.  Pinterest is an eye-candy world, but people avoid accounts that seem stuck on themselves.  Unless they are cooks or teach instructionals or something.  Or like I said before, unless you’re Oprah.  And that’s only because she’s already built that platform and established herself.  She doesn’t have to work at it so hard anymore.

Pinterest is about imagery, so pay attention to the quality of your images.  And if you created the image and own the rights to it, always put your watermark on it.  When you create graphics for social media sharing, be sure to make your name, or book title, or website (or Twitter handle or something like that) a permanent part of the actual image.  The goal of pinning your own stuff is for those images to be shared onward, but you want your website or something embedded so that people 6 connections later can easily find you again, whether the original link stayed attached or not!  Especially for things like Pinterest.  Even if you don’t use Pinterest, a lot of other people do!  And while Pinterest defaults to including the link where an image can be found, people can over-ride that and replace the original link with another.

So optimize your images so they funnel back to you no matter where they end up or how they might be shared or scraped. 😉

Wait, but you don’t have very much stuff of your own to pin, you say?  That’s OK.  If you pace it out, you can repin your own stuff again and again.  Just be tasteful about it.  No one wants to see tons of you pinning yourself.

How to pin from the web??

Download the Pinterest browser app for easy pinning across the web.  Anytime you read or see something awesome, use your Pinterest app to pin it to one of your boards.  When you click that little “pin” button, it will pull up a menu of available photos to use for that link.  Choose a good image (I prefer the larger images) and include a description.  It doesn’t have to be detailed, but the more useful the description, the better.

Some people use a lot of #hashtags in their pins.  I don’t think this is very helpful.  Try not to use more than 3.

An important note – pinning is not only about the image you pin, but the link where that image was found.  You want to keep those two elements paired together.  When you pin from a website, ie. from a blog, be sure you pin from the article page and not the home page.

For instance, I have my blog set up so you can read something like the 10 most recent posts I’ve published – right from my home page without ever having to click on the link to the actual post.  Others set their blogs set up to show the first paragraph of an article, and then you have to click the link to read the rest of the article.  Either which way though – usually a featured image will be on that front page, associated with that article.  However, if you pin that photo from the home page, then the link for the home page is what Pinterest will pick up, not the link for the actual article.  This can lead to confusion down the road.  Because another year from now, the most recent posts displayed on my front page are not going to be the same as today.  So when someone follows the link in the pin and they come to my site, they’ll be hard pressed to be able to find the image and the link it belonged to ever again.

Lastly, a quick note on the wishes of website and image owners.  While most people love for their stuff to be pinned, not everyone does.  Photographers particularly, for obvious reasons.  Whether you agree or not, be sure to respect their wishes if they have obviously stated they don’t want their images pinned.

Anything else?? 

Be nice.  A simple rule, but sometimes people forget.  And don’t be afraid to link your Pinterest account to Facebook and/or Twitter.  You can always choose when not to share your pins, but people who are on social media will enjoy the variety of your shares.  The visuals you choose will give them insight into you and your brand.

Here are the bullet points I want you to walk away with:

  • Pace the pinning of your own stuff.
  • Pay attention to the quality of your images.
  • Watermark your own images!
  • Follow your tribe and develop connections.
  • Pin other people’s things.
  • Pin from the correct page link.
  • You don’t have to pin every day, or even every week.
  • Link to other social media.
  • Give people a reason to follow you. 
  • Always be choosy.  Always be you.

Start with these in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building a presence that will build your platform and pay you back down the road.

What will  improve your social media performance has everything to do with your social behavior and how influential you are.  Developing that comes with time. At first you start out like a stranger in a new land who can’t get a date.  But you just get out and meet people, pick away at it and before you know it, one person turns into two and the tiny growth turns into more exponential growth.

But you won’t find dates if you never leave the house.  Desirable ones anyway…. 😉

So get out there and take the time. 

Take 5 minutes, take an hour, but take it.  Be choosy.  Find your tribe.  Develop connections.  Pin more than just your own stuff.  You’ll thank me later.

I hope this helps! 

Social Media how-to can be a huge, huge study and one that’s constantly evolving.  It’s a wave you have to be in to ride.  By no means is this article a comprehensive treatise, so consider this simply Jules’ Cliff Notes for Pinterest.  It’s my opinion, but based on my years of experience and well… at least some success.  😉

Until next time….

Need help?  Have questions?  Feel free to ask them in the comments below!

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How Do You Know If You’re Pricing Your Offers Properly? – Guest Blog by Lynn Scheurell


Intro

“Starving” artists, charities, yoga teachers, writers, massage therapists, musicians, holistic practitioners – I tend to lump us all into the same basic category because often our struggles are the same. These are the things we do for the heart of it and often it’s not the easiest path. Business doesn’t always feel easy when you want to put love first. And yet, we still need healthy business practices if we’re going to thrive.

We get this.  We know we need to charge for our work and get paid for our services.  We know we need to value ourselves and put a price on our amazing talents. But… so how do you know when you’ve got it right?  A friend of mine has a good answer!  But let me introduce her first.

Lynn Scheurell - Creative CatalystI’m really blessed to know some incredibly talented people in Austin and around the world.  Lynn Scheurell of Creative Catalyst is one of those excellent people who just happens to also be an excellent teacher in business and marketing. She teaches people from literally all around the world. She’s both creative and business minded and she’s a writer, publisher and inspirational speaker.

I also trust her with anyone I send her way. (That’s a big deal to me, btw.)  And one of her recent newsletters just happened to really hit on some of the very same points we were discussing just a few weeks ago about pricing and valuing our work as creatives.

Now the letter is one that Lynn only sends out to people on her list and it is about services she offers. So I want you to know that up front. However, I felt it had some really good points y’all would appreciate. So I asked her if it would be OK to share it with you. And she said yes!

Here it is. Enjoy and check out her credentials at the end!
(And if you talk to her, tell her I sent you!)


Are You Pricing Your Offers Properly?
by Lynn Scheurell

Here’s how you know if you are pricing your offers properly…
– you feel good about your work with clients.

If you feel drained, resentful, anxious, frustrated, watch the clock, stressed about money, feel like you can’t breathe, pushed or hurried in your time with clients, then a boundary around your worth is being violated through your pricing.

The inside secret is that you are the only one who can set and honor your boundaries. You are the only person who can set your fees.

Tragically, most entrepreneurs under-value their work by at least 10% – and that likely includes you.

You may not have a pricing strategy in place, or have one that doesn’t serve you, or have pricing that doesn’t connote your true value.

In fact, I have a personal story about that to share with you… from wayyyyy back when, I was a practicing Feng Shui consultant. (Feng Shui remains one of my true loves to this day… but I digress!) ;+)

Anyway, at the time, I was charging $75 per consultation (without time limits!) – and I couldn’t GIVE them away!

I worked with a business coach, who told me I needed a higher fee. I thought she was out of her mind – raise my fees when I wasn’t attracting business as it was??? Holy cow… but, per her instruction, I meditated on a number and got one.

She was on vacation for about three weeks but I decided to put that number into action immediately. (I am a Catalyst, after all…!)

The first time I said it out loud to a potential client, I’m not sure how he heard it over the sound of my knocking knees! But over the course of the next three weeks, I had more consults using that new fee than I’d had in the previous three months at the lower fee!

When my business coach returned from vacation, we had a session. Of course, she asked if I had a new number and I said yes and that I’d been using it already.

She asked what it was – and remember, she knew my fee was $75. When I told her $450 – and that I was GETTING it! – I’m pretty sure she fell off her chair!

The point is that, once I was charging enough, people believed that I was offering something of value. I was more in line with the market in terms of fees. I didn’t need to ‘wait’ for some reason to justify my new fees based on filling my schedule at the lower rate first. And I was getting booked right and left at the new rate!

It felt great to actually be receiving my value professionally. But it took me honoring myself and following my intuition and then claiming my worth before it could happen. Only when I did could my business take off… and I haven’t looked back since (except to share this story!). ;+)

How this applies to you… you must know your value and claim it through your fees. And your rates must make sense within a strategic framework, or business model.

If you don’t have a business model, you’re flying blind and it’s likely that your business feels scattered. If you can’t predict your monthly income in advance, it’s time for an overhaul.

The fastest way I know to upgrade your fee structure and business model is to work with someone who understands revenue models AND understands you and what you bring to your clients. It’s actually rare to find that combination in an expert. (I know because I searched for that very resource early in my own business!)

Fortunately, that’s one of my signature specialties… I offer Business Vision Mapping for forward-thinking entrepreneurs who really GET that it is vital to price their offers properly within a strategic business framework.

These Catalysting sessions are designed to answer your questions about implementation, neutralize personal fears, limiting beliefs and obstacles and/or address sticky situations as you gain new momentum in your business. And they are invaluable as you begin taking action into new territory to grow your business.

Pricing your offers properly also means that you are honoring your clients.

If you undercharge, you feel drained and will look to shortcut your time and energy in delivering the product or service.

If you overcharge, your client will feel taken advantage of and look to maximize their investment in ‘creative’ ways that won’t serve either of you in the long run.

You really do owe it to yourself AND your clients to properly price what you do…

To Honoring Your Clients And Your Worth ~

Lynn


Biography

Changing the world through business starts by understanding your motivations, inspirations and purpose; in other words, changing the world starts within you. Only then can you apply your intensity through strategic business models, systems and focused action to create conscious, and often dramatic, results.

Lynn Scheurell is a visionary pioneer, spiritual teacher for entrepreneurs and authority in the area of conscious business. She is a leading proponent that entrepreneurship is one’s highest calling made manifest through service and that one’s business is the ultimate tool for personal growth. And she has a rare skill as a gifted communicator with solid experience in business models and systems.

Internationally known for her empowering and inclusive approach to conscious business, Lynn teaches entrepreneurs how to identify, align and express their true nature at every stage in business to accelerate results. Learn more at www.MyCreativeCatalyst.com.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”
Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?
Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows


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What’s Your One Thing?


I read a really good article from Entrepreneur Magazine today. It’s called: “12 Successful Entrepreneurs Share the Best Advice They Ever Got.”  I wanted to share it with you because it’s good stuff!

I like reading about other entrepreneurs, because that’s what all we handmade artists and writers are, even if we don’t really think about it.  We are entrepreneurs. And even if we’re not in a more traditionally recognized “business,” our struggles to get started and to thrive are much the same as anyone’s.

I love the entrepreneurial path as one of the most life enriching paths there is.  Being in business for yourself presents you with perspective and challenges you would never otherwise choose.  And with experience like that you can’t help but grow.

There were two stories in this article that I especially liked.  The first was Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ story about advice from Jack Cassady.  I love that a successful man took time to reach out to someone just starting out, encouraged them and reminded them to never quit.  It’s just a wonderful example of how someone can help not only enrich the life of a single man, but of a whole generation of people.  Read the story and then imagine if Mr. Cassady had never taken the time?

The second story I really appreciated was Dane Atkinson’s advice about creating clarity for your business.

He says the following: “One thing that I’ve slowly come to realize is that focus is so critically important…. Saying ‘no’ to great ideas is necessary to get to the brilliant ones.  At every step of the way you have to cut towards one path.  It’s such a hard thing to do as an entrepreneur because you don’t really have the confidence in where you’re going yourself…. We all expect services to do one thing right….  It’s a very simple formula that you just repeat and rinse all the way to success.”

One_ThingIt strikes a very personal chord for me.  I have seen more business failure based in decisions that spread a business (or organization) too thin and keep them from specializing in what they do best.

And I’m here to tell ya – artists are guilty of this!

A business or an artist gets a good focused start, enjoys some success, then starts looking at what others have, trying to do what others do, then fails and everything is lost when they would have grown if they instead stuck with honing their focus instead of spreading to areas that aren’t really them.

We talk about it all the time – know your purpose.  “Know Thyself.”  It’s the crux of all success.

A business needs its purpose as much as any person does.

Don’t covet what others have, don’t try to be something else because you see others succeed at it and you think you should have a piece of their pie. Don’t get off in the weeds and leave your purpose.  I am capable of doing a lot of things.  I like the idea of a lot of things, but my focus stays pretty clear.  And I’m not just content, but excited to let others be experts in other areas for me!  Because we all thrive then.

How do you serve? What’s your passion and purpose? What do you love?  What fires you up!  What do you bring to the world table?

Now be the best at that you can be, pouring your heart and soul into it!  Don’t add anything to your mission that doesn’t feed that!

As soon as you covet the path or success of others and try to add their purpose to your path, you water down your own success and ability to serve.  You water down your own value to the world, because you’re supposed to be you, even as a business!  Success doesn’t revolve around serving multiple masters. I’m not talking about getting too comfortable or never challenging yourself, I’m talking about getting clear about your purpose in the world, without trying to be others.  Learn from others, then be yourself!

Clarity is the key.  Find your unique business path. Does your business do X, Y or G?  Because it can’t succeed doing all A-Z.  Unless you’re God.  You don’t think you’re God, do you?

Find your own path.  The rest is for someone else to do and make their own – and thank goodness!

Special note here: One of the worst things you can put on an application to a show (and I suspect other types of applications too) is that you “do everything.” Don’t do that.  It’s like applying for a college scholarship and saying, “I want to major in everything and specialize in nothing, please award me money!”  You need to choose a focus or a specialty.  That will best help you and the show director (who is responsible for planning a successful show for everyone) the most.

You are an investment.  Clarity is king.

So what’s your one thing?


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Filed under Business

Don’t Shop-Block Your Fellow Artists


OK, I had to find a nicer way to say it.  Unfortunately inspired by true events. 

I thought about it and thought about it.  And this was the nicest way I could think of to say that and still get the sharp point across.  Don’t shop-block your fellow artists and professionals.  (And likewise don’t let anyone do it to you.)

Just don’t.

When you’re doing shows, especially juried shows, there are internal cultural parameters as to what’s acceptable professional etiquette and behavior from participating artists, and what is not.  Not too unlike wearing white to a wedding when you are not the bride and it’s not your wedding day, you never want to block or steal a sale from anyone else.  And though most of these rules should be rather common sense to everyone, since they are mostly about basic manners and professionalism, unfortunately they are too often not clear to everyone.

One of those rules is to never violate another artist’s sales space.  We all paid for space at an event, it’s your job to govern your own space, but also to support the show as a whole and to support each of your fellow artists by maintaining a professional approach to everything.  Never come over to a fellow artist’s booth and talk to the customers in their space or block them from being able to shop.  It doesn’t matter if you just talked to them a few minutes before somewhere else.  It doesn’t matter if they’re your best friends whom you haven’t seen in years.  Unless they left their glasses on your table, you don’t go after them into someone else’s space.  You just don’t do it.  Not to mention that it can be seen as stalking.  If you just must talk to those customers, do so privately and in the public arena, not in someone’s space.  Not ever.

And the same goes for friendly chatting with your fellow artists in their spaces.  It’s one thing if you’re friends with that other artist and you’re chatting privately, but as soon as a potential customer shows up, you politely exit, get out-of-the-way or at least shut up right then.  And you keep your chatter to a minimum, because everyone is there for one main reason – to serve the customers at the show.  Nothing else should have a higher focus than that.

You never stand with in front of someone else’s space and block traffic flow to their booth either.  It’s incredibly rude!  In fact, it’s a faux pas for customers too.  Congregating in front of an artist’s booth that you have no intention of shopping at, thereby blocking traffic flow so others cannot easily see or enter that artist’s booth, is a terrible thing to do to someone.  However, because we all want customers to have a good time at an event, we artists generally try to be polite and patient with customers who do this, for a little while.  (If you’ve done this unawares – now you know better – don’t do it again!)

Artists should abso-frickin-lutely know better.  Traffic flow is gold at a show.  Every booth and logo and display is all counting on traffic attention at a show.  You can only sell as much as you are seen.  And you never want to mess with that for anyone!  Talk about bad, bad show karma!  And if it’s obvious that you are doing something like that intentionally, it can get you black-listed – for good reason.

Why is all this important?  Because shows (especially juried shows) are for professionals.  Shows survive and do well as a whole marketplace.  To be respected as an artist and human being, you have to consider the long view and the reputation you build every single day with every single action and choice you make.  And how well can you represent not only yourself, but the other businesses (shows) you align yourself with.

So just on a purely professional class basis, you never, ever EVER do something that could cost your fellow artist a sale.  You know what it’s like.  It doesn’t matter if you like that fellow artist, if you do the same work as they do, or if you’re friends or enemies.  It doesn’t matter if you had the same idea they are selling out there right now or you’re so sure that your product is better and it’s killing you that they were juried into the same event.  You never show your ass or cost them a sale.  You have the decency and professionalism to keep your mouth shut and let them do business.  Express any concerns you have to the appropriate planners and then move forward being the good person and professional you know yourself to be.  Don’t stoop to lower level behavior.

These professional principles aren’t just for the show circuit though.  They hold true anywhere, even online.  It’s happened to me.

I marketed a service offer to my followers on one of my social sites once.  (I’m not just a crochet designer/writer, I work in other fields too.)  In this case, I offered some tech help to some fellow professionals whom I care about through one of my various public pages.  A page you have to subscribe to, to see.  And guess what?  Someone immediately commented about her “identical” services on my post, on my page!  She was just dying for the world of my own readership (not hers) to know that she also wanted to offer what I’m offering.  In all reality, she stepped into my booth space and hawked her wares.

Dude!  You don’t do that!

Needless to say, I took her remark down.  It’s my page, I can do that.  I didn’t choose to respond to her remark though, because anything I could say would either cost me sales, or cost her own sales/reputation.  And it would just leave a bad taste for everyone.  After all, her remark was already… professionally awkward, to say the least.  There was no way I could tolerate her move professionally.  However, I also wasn’t going to compound her mistake by making one of my own in a public response to her  either.  Taking the remark down was as much kindness to her as it was defensive for me.

Whatever your profession, you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

So here’s the thing my dear artists and colleagues of all walks of life.  I’m betting you already know this, or my title wouldn’t have drawn you in.  You’ve probably already had it happen to you at one time or another.  You know of other fields and incidences where this principle can be applied.  And if you’ve chosen an indie-business path, then you also know that you’ve entered a world where everyone expects you to show some class, to elevate your awareness and likewise raise your level of professional behavior.  Because you are everything in your business and your business reflects on your reputation.  There’s no one to praise or blame but you.  That’s part of what makes this path such a growth-inspiring one.

But it behooves us to help set the example.  Reach out there and help those newly inducted into the world of business ownership.  Be a part of discussions and local Chambers of Commerce and get to know other artists and professionals in your field.  And help everyone understand the level of professionalism that is expected of them.  By example if by nothing else. Pass this article around so others who might not realize what they’re doing can wake up and smell the coffee.

We all need to eat.  We all need to survive.  We all have medical bills, and special needs and causes we fight for.  And we all have lessons to learn.  There’s plenty of need and plenty of pie to go around.   So have some class.  We’re all in this together.  There’s no need to cost someone else their piece.

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Filed under Business, Doing the Show Circuit, Editorial, NaBloPoMo

Sometimes It Takes Being MacGyver To Succeed


You know, there’s a neat little benefit that something like the NaBloPoMo challenge gives you, as a writer, and as an individual pushing yourself to grow.

It puts you against a wall.

There are two types of fuel for success in the world: inspiration and pressure.  And while we often crave the first, it’s the latter that we need to value a bit more.  Because it often helps us the most.  Why? Because it forces us to deal with things we would not otherwise choose to.  And we need that as a balanced part of life too.  Not too much of either, but enough of either one.

NaBloPoMo is 30 days, blogging every single day, no matter what.  And of course, when you participate during the traditional November month, there’s always Thanksgiving week in there too.  So you have to make your turkey, and eat and write about it too.

But putting yourself on a daily deadline and making that honor commitment to make your posts count every day is quite something to embrace.  It creates stress, it forces you to be creative under less than ideal circumstances and it gets you to face a task you might otherwise wish to avoid.  And it forces you to adapt when things don’t go as expected.  Even when you have some ideas on what to write about, it doesn’t mean that those ideas will spark and flow the day you need them to.

The same is true in business.  Even when you prepare and have a plan, it doesn’t mean that’s how things are going to work out.  And you have to learn to be flexible.  To think on your feet and not get bent out of shape too easily over anything.

As for writing, I personally have 49 subject ideas in my queue right now.  And not a one of those ideas would flow for me tonight.   So with the clock winding down to midnight and not an idea that wants to say more than a sentence or two, the pressure pot is on.

Then it dawned on me, that pressure pot often squeezes the best out of me.  Because when push comes to shove, and all you have is a rubber band, a piece of gum and a toothpick and the timer is running out, some kind of genius takes place when you focus well enough.

And that’s a lot of what we deal with in business.  Heck, sometimes it’s why we’re in business.  We were put against a wall, our choices were pared down and we were forced to work with a situation that was not ideal or to our liking.  Like getting laid off, or having a child with special needs or whatever.  And we had to come up with a solution and rise above.

Being in business for yourself is risky stuff, and sometimes you have to think like MacGyver in one of those unexpected situations.  How are you going to fix this, or deal with that or avoid those?  The pressure is not often what I would call pleasant, and sometimes it happens as a result of some failure (learning experience) on our part, but it does often in my experience push me to elevate my thinking and come up with a solution.  And I always grow.

So don’t be afraid to feel pressure.  Sometimes it brings up in you skills you didn’t know you had.  Sometimes that wall is more support than you think.  And sometimes even, it becomes your greatest story.

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Filed under Business, Education, NaBloPoMo

I Give You Permission To Thrive!


This past week’s evolving discussion on entrepreneurial, service and creative business has been really enjoyable! 🙂

I love hearing the stories, reading everyone’s comments and even being disagreed with. We have really dug into some issues that are on the minds of the majority out there in our fields and I know that all our thoughts and input are helping others now and will in the future when they are searching.

But there is one thing I really want to give some attention to that I keep hearing in the voices of artists, and massage therapists and musicians and a myriad of other creative right-brain, heart-led thinkers out there.

And that’s this general sense of guilt that it’s not OK to thrive.

There are two angles to this: Those who don’t have confidence that they can thrive and those who do have confidence, but don’t think they should thrive.

I keep hearing things like, “My motives are not money, I just want to make enough to get by.”  “I enjoy this kind of work, so I don’t charge much because I’d do it anyway.”  “I can’t afford much, so why should I expect others who can’t afford much to pay me?”  (That’s a big one.)  “I’m not good at business stuff.”  (Another big one.)  “I don’t want to seem greedy, or too focused on money.”  “I don’t need to learn about business. Only greedy people do that.”

And on it goes.

Umm, hello!  This may be news to you, but I don’t want to just scrape by.  I know what that’s like and I don’t want to live it.  I don’t want my kids to live it!  My father was an entrepreneur with 4-5 employees, and we just got by.  Thank goodness for Grandpa’s garden some years, because when there wasn’t profit after paying everyone, there wasn’t profit.  And profit is how Dad got paid.  And he was seen as a leader in the community.  (He also had trouble getting paid by his customers.)

We survived.  Obviously I’m here to tell the story.  But we did not thrive.  We did without shoes, scraped by on food and cut every corner we could.

Stop what you’re saying to yourself and to others and really think about that.  Because I don’t think you really mean it when you say things like that.  Because that would honestly just be weird to only wish to “get by.”  We cannot grow on “get by.”

And I don’t want to just survive.  I know how to do that and it’s not enough for me.  I want to thrive.  And that’s where I’m heading.

And you know what – you can come too.

I give you permission to thrive.  And permission to say no to what’s unhealthy for you.  Including poisonous customers and relationships.

I grant you permission to create a plan, a strategy and a structure that is good for you and good for growing your business.  And if you get paid for what you do – you have a business!  It’s not a bad word!

Learning and becoming good at business is not greedy.  I give you permission to go forth and conquer – not the weak, but yourself.

I give you permission to be confident, brilliant and excellent – no apologies!  No dissing your accomplishments, talents or yourself.

I give you permission to be successful.  And you know what else?  To define for yourself what success means to you!

I give you permission to earn a living doing what you love.  And permission not to feel guilty because others don’t (yet).

I don’t however give you permission to be unkind, dishonest or apathetic.

I give you permission to be yourself fully and to enjoy making money.

I give you permission to take risks, to stray from the sidewalk, to do something breath-taking.

I give you permission to let go of “supposed to’s” and instead embrace “want to’s.”   And to release all scarcity mindsets.

I give you permission to ignore advice! And your parents and your siblings and anyone else who is harming, not helping.

I give you permission to ignore good advice and strike out on your own path!

I give you permission to fail!  And fail again!  And to not see that as a bad thing!

I give you permission to allow yourself some clarity about what you really want in life and to let go of those inner blocks that are getting in your way and standing between you and the rest of your freedom.

Why am I giving you permission?  Because apparently we haven’t all given ourselves permission.  And hopefully, if you know what I’m talking about, somewhere in here is a seed that you can adopt and take home with you.  Go with my blessing!

It’s time for us to commit if we’re going to master the calling of being an entrepreneur.  Business is like a garden that requires love and tending.  And it either thrives, or dies.  Or gets overgrown and sidetracked by weeds.  All of us artists, writers, musicians, and consultants – we’re all entrepreneurs.  Don’t kid yourself otherwise, we are in business for ourselves.  Art requires discipline and skill, just as does business!  So we know we can do this!  If an artist can sacrifice and pour out our soul to do what we love – you tell me why we can’t succeed at the core principles of good business!

I invite you to write yourself a code of ethics that embraces responsibility, integrity and ingenuity that you can embrace heart, mind and soul.

I invite you to be selfish and think about your needs: physical, emotional, spiritual, mental.  Who does it benefit if you are not nurtured?  Seriously! Who?  Kill the starving artist mentality!

I invite you to think of your business as a child you are bringing up and to nurture it and yourself.  To nurture the relationship you have with business and money.  To provide it structure that it cannot provide for itself.

I invite you to forgive yourself and to be tender and kind in your dealings with yourself.  And yet, not to be too easy on yourself either.

I invite you to analyze your business inward, not just outward.  Find your unique value to the world.  And find who benefits from that?

I say these things as much for me, as I do for you, because I need that encouragement too.  I want my children to have it someday too.  There’s been an unhealthy disconnect between the creative soul-driven worlds and business and we do not need to feed or foster it.

The key is our mindset.

What does thriving look like for you?


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Please Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet


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Filed under Business, Inspiration, NaBloPoMo

You Can’t Work All The Time


When you’re an entrepreneur, it is easy to be sucked in 24/7.  And honestly, that’s much as it should be.

Why?  Because being in business for yourself is a responsibility that requires your heart and soul in order to run and to succeed.  Your business succeeds as you will it to.  And business is work.  You will find a lot of satisfaction in working for yourself, but the catch is, there’s no clock to punch out and there’s no guarantee of income and success.

But you can’t work all the time.  You have to break sometime.  You have to switch gears sometime.  You have to rest sometime.

I tend to have my fingers in several projects at a time and work way too many hours for the pay I make.  Part of it’s because I work for myself, and that’s often part of that life.  Part of it is because I’m catching up from losing 2.5 months and missing all my fall shows to a broken ankle.  So not only did I miss out on pay because of that, but I have medical bills to pay off too.  Yippee Ki Yay.  And while it feels really good to be getting back to normal (well close), I’m pretty exhausted too. Besides being a designer, I also do social media consulting for a couple of small business clients.  So my brain is constantly going back and forth from creative to computer, as much as I can stand.  Plus there’s the fundraising for Spain and well, everything left on my mom plate at the end of the day.  Someone please do some laundry for me? 

However, this is Thanksgiving week.  I don’t like falling into the holidays at all, much less Thanksgiving.  It’s important to me at this time of year to take time and experience this week with awareness.  And to meditate on the things that matter most in life.

So today, I got ready for Thanksgiving week by spending my time baking.  And with clean up.  It’s still maintenance and creativity, but of an entirely different sort than my business.

We have a tradition at our charter school of making pies for the teachers.  This year (after all, it’s our 11th year there) I did not sign up for the usual volunteer sheet that blankets the whole school.  This year the kids took polls from their teachers and decided what they wanted to make for them and we shared the work individually.  It’s our way of showing our gratitude to our teachers for what they do for us.  And there are a couple of them who may get bonus food.  I’m very thankful for the experts who are helping to shape my children’s experiences and are helping to prepare them for life.

So I go to bed tonight in a house that smells of peach pies and banana breads.  And I make some really amazing banana bread, let me tell ya.  My daughter’s peach pie rocks too.  (Our secrets?  Over ripe bananas and unsweetened peaches.)  Tomorrow I have chocolate truffle pies to make and more banana bread I want to give to our neighbors.

I did have to stop in the middle and go buy a new mixer, but in the end it was a nice break from the usual work at hand.  The baking that is, not the going to the store on a Sunday night bit.  I actually kinda hate shopping.  Except for yarn.  And maybe motorcycles and drums.

Just as it’s important for parents to make time to still have dates even after having kids, it’s also important for business owners to still in a sense court themselves and do something else completely different than baby their business.  And you may find if your ideas are getting stuck and stagnant and you’re worrying about burning out, that this is especially important to do.  You don’t have to take a vacation or do anything expensive.  You just have to switch gears and do something different from what you normally do to survive.  It’s OK if it’s still “work,” but it has to be different than what you’ve been doing.

So unless you have a show this week, this is a good time in the U.S. to take a bit of a breather and allow yourself to do something different, that you haven’t done in a long time.  And if you’re not in the U.S., then it may be a good week to make a date for a break anyway, what with other holidays looming on the horizon.

Take a break, get some rest, let down your hair and entertain yourself in some different way.

What will you pick?


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


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Filed under Business, Editorial, NaBloPoMo

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2


I received a comment on my blog post from yesterday that shows I need to further clarify what I mean when I say – price is not really why people buy.  Mandy brought up the following, and it’s a legitimate position.

“Forgive me… but I respectfully disagree with one of your points. …. It’s not that I don’t value great art, but purchasing art of any kind, for any reason, is a luxury for me. So if your beautiful crocheted scarf that I admire deeply and would love to own is priced about $20 more than what I can allow myself to spend, it’s going to stay right where it is. No offense or disrespect intended, but my funds are limited and my hands are essentially tied. I may be the minority?

Having said that, in the past year or so I have started teaching myself to crochet as a hobby, and have started giving crocheted gifts. As a result, I’ve had ladies ask me if they could buy some of the things I make. I’m lost when it comes to pricing my work because I am a hobbyist, and a newbie. My materials and time are valuable, but maybe not in the same respect as those of you who are true artists and are supporting your families with your craft. I am guilty of thinking to myself that I’d like to offer my work for a bit less than some of the prices I have seen, because of my personal experiences, and because I know most people in my community and surrounding area are not likely to pay “artist prices.” Have any of you run into this, and do you have any advice for someone just starting out? I’m not opposed to one day crocheting to sell, but for now it is just something I enjoy and a way to give practical handmade gifts.”

Mandy, thank you for your valuable addition to the discussion and daring to disagree!  I’ll explain my position better below.  Dear Community, she’s asked a question of all of us, so feel free to respond, politely.

First, I’ll refer you to my article “How Much Are You Worth.”  Here I talk about the difference between novice and expert work and about sweatshop pricing. And that’s something we all have a responsibility to do something about. We have gotten used to being able to live off the work of others in low economies. And so when it comes to the actual cost of our materials and goods where we live, where it’s more expensive, we still think in terms of 3rd world sweatshop pricing.  But do we really expect anyone to live off 50 cents an hour? Or for anyone to pay off their degrees and training and education, not to mention materials and taxes and fees that way? Of course not. No reasonable person would. And yet, every time we price our work in par with a sweatshop, that’s what we do.  And in an economy that is much more expensive to live in.  I cannot usually buy yarn as cheap as the sweater you buy at WalMart.  So when I make that sweater from the materials available to me, cheap or expensive, it’s still going to cost way more, no matter what – even if I don’t charge for time and expertise at all.  And there’s nothing at this point that I can do about that.

On the other hand, in general, the market will not bear outrageous pricing.  So I would argue that there should be a natural cap to how much beginner level type work should go for.  Sticking a bead on an ear wire and slapping a $100 price tag on it better mean that’s one heck of a valuable bead.  Because we know how much skill and time went into it and that cannot alone bear the weight of the price tag.  Sometimes things just aren’t practical or there just isn’t a market for them.  Who wants to pay a significant chunk of money for a cashmere wash-cloth to scrub dishes with?  Unless you can provide some amazing advantage as to why this would make someone’s life better, this is just not likely to sell.  There’s no demand and even more, it doesn’t make sense.

We can’t always afford the work we love.

This is part of life. Sometimes that means we learn to make it ourselves to offset cost of time.  But even then, even with my level of expertise, I can’t myself always afford the work I can produce.

For example, I have a friend who has amazing wood carving skills, he literally works for the stars – several celebrities own his work. And yet, he has four kids, one with downs and says he cannot afford the work of his own hands. The materials and time and methods are all that specialized and expensive. Should he stop making what he makes? No. There is a demand for it and what he does is highly specialized and arguably a dying art. He’s really (I mean really) good at it. Would you have him instead do something he’s not good at? Not to mention take away the work that is feeding his family, and paying for the therapy his child needs for downs. Even so, he doesn’t yet feel like he can justify owning one of his best pieces yet.  The materials and expenses alone are cost prohibitive.

Now, my friend works in a highly specialized scenario that relies on the help of galleries and such, which also increases his expenses, but his story illustrates a point.

When you are in the handmade market, it’s important to price fairly and consider developing a range of products.

That is, if you have no plans to get that highly specialized. You want your highs, your lows and your middles.  For example: I have some amazing purses I’ve made, where the blunt, literal cost in materials to me is over $150 and I haven’t even lined them yet. Their final cost will be substantial. The silk, the beadwork, the specialized hardware to make them look and work right – all of that requires not only a lot of time and expertise out of me, but also the money to acquire materials. And because I’m not a warehouse, I cannot get warehouse prices on materials either. So I’m slowly but surely investing in the work I’m putting into them. Everyone loves them. Will everyone be able to afford them? Nope. But they are my OOAK high-end specialty art pieces and out there someone will decide to snap them up. That said, I also have made some purses I could comfortably sell for $35. My level of expertise is the same, but what is different is mostly my cost in materials.

This is why it’s important to have a range of product prices and work you are doing in business, if you want to hit a wider range of customers. The fact is, it’s my work, my service and my story that will draw you to me. (My writing even.)  Either you will like my work or you won’t.

Maybe you can’t buy my high-end expensive purse.  In that case – the price data is what helps you say “no” to that particular piece.

However, that is not the same as saying no to me.

Because if I have another beautiful piece, where the materials do not cost nearly the same, and it is in your price range, you will likely settle for that instead.

And that’s one part of what I mean about people not saying no based on pricing.

Sometimes “No” Is Really About Guilt

There’s also the reality where people say no seemingly “based on price,” but it’s really based on guilt. The “it’s not you it’s me” scenario. When a customer has money issues or financial PTSD, that is not something you can ever control. And their bad relationship with money is theirs to bear, not yours. Getting their sale will not make a difference to you in the long run. You have to look at and make decisions based on the long financial picture of a business, not the spur of the moment whim.  This gets back to knowing your market and even knowing your individual show. Not everyone will feel like they can afford your stuff. If they did, then you might as well be a dollar store and have trouble paying your bills.

Newbies who are dropping their prices out of fear that they can’t get a sale is an entirely different thing from trying to price fairly. It’s important to understand the distinction. A) Price dropping like that creates an unhealthy relationship with money and it can get you into trouble with your business. B) Most juried shows forbid it and it can get you kicked out.  C) Business is risk. Don’t get into it without embracing that fact.  It’s not if you will fail at some point, it’s when.  And it’s about you learning not to see failure as a bad thing.  Becoming a business owner is one of the best things you can do for your own personal-growth.  Kinda up there with parenthood.  You will learn amazing things, whether you set out to or not.  D) People are not turning down the artist based on price as much as they are based on their experience. If you like my work, my story, my service, and if I have something in your price range you want – you are likely to buy it. Period. It’s really that simple. If you don’t like my work, no amount of dropping my price is going to make you spend money on it.

And that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone justifies their spending somehow.

I know someone who for years complained about how she hated her shag carpet, but couldn’t afford to get it replaced. carpet was her “luxury.”  And yet, she always had the latest clothes and fine jewelry to wear. It was her choice. She just didn’t invite anyone over.

Me? Hey, I value quality shoes. I’m on my feet all the time and have a degenerative genetic joint condition that causes pain. You better believe I invest in good footwear that won’t aggravate my degenerative condition. It could cost me hundreds of dollars, and I don’t care, I will work a 3rd job if I have to not to be in pain. I also value a good dishwasher. For reasons I just stated, I try to limit the time I’m on my feet. So a dishwasher that never breaks down and practically eats the garbage from my dishes is an asset I want to own. My time is worth more than to be constantly fixing something.

I know someone else who has almost no kitchen ware, but they have cutting edge materials and sewing equipment for quilting. And yet another person who values homegrown food most of all and would sooner spend $10 on seeds than on a new shirt.

We all have those things we see the value in much better than we see in others. You want to look for the customers who will value you.

Back to what I said before about fair pricing.

I repeat, we’re not talking about over-pricing.  (Though there are cases where it can be used as a management tool, but that’s another article.) I’m talking about fairness that’s win-win.  But as Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation front said it best: “You are not a sweatshop!” And you’re not. OK? So stop working on something for hours and then charging $2 to a stranger for it. It’s wrong. And anyone who supports that kind of self-abuse is also wrong. As is anyone who raises their kids to think about money and work this way.  And those 3rd world countries everyone’s wishing could get better pay will also never be better off, as long as we all help promote this lack of value for time and hard work. If you’re giving a true gift, or you’re doing charity work, that’s one thing. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

What is my hour worth?  A sack of potatoes?  A loaf of bread?  A lunch?  Or a cheap cup of coffee?

When you dare to enter business, it’s important to recognize the value of every single part of the equation. And it’s time we grow up and get a handle on what a responsibility this really is. My customers work hard for their money, every bit as much as I. My suppliers also work hard for their money, every bit as I. When all we respect each other, we create balance and everyone can win.

There is another thing though.  We tend to be worst of all about valuing the work that women traditionally do. Even we women do this to each other.  Even in this day and age.  And we need to stop and think about this when we size things up and question whether we’re guilty of it or not.

So, I leave you with a challenge. Whether you own a business or not, it’s a good exercise to help you get a handle on what you value, how you spend and also recognizing how it might be for others too.

Stop and think about a $20 bill and just what you would justify spending it on and what you would not. Would you take a friend out to lunch? Would you buy a scarf? Would you pick up some gourmet coffee or buy a pack of smokes? How about a case of canned goods? How about a skein of yarn, or a tube of paint? Maybe an organizer? Or an iPhone case?  Makeup maybe?  A couple of crochet magazines?

What things could you do with a $20 bill and would or would not do? And once you’ve thought about that deeply, then analyze each item’s true worth in terms of the value it provides or not. $20 to feed a friend, or to keep someone warm for the winter, or to help you get organized, etc..

Money is nothing more than a tool.  How do you use it?


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


33 Comments

Filed under Business, Crochet Community, handmade, NaBloPoMo

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?


I wrote the article: When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?” a few days ago and it has really stirred up some conversation from fellow business owners.  Comments from Twitter, Facebook, G+ and this blog have poured in from around the world as other artists and entrepreneurs chime in about their experiences and frustrations.

And there’s a common theme popping up – the concern about pricing.

Often times, artisans will lower their prices because they want to be sure they will make some sales. There’s nothing wrong with making money – we all need to eat.  Still from our business side of things, we start to see our expenses pile up, and we get worried.  And then we start tweaking our prices.

Maybe we see someone else’s lower prices and we feel we have to compete.  Maybe we’re just nervous about the show.  Maybe we really haven’t thought through the true cost of our item.  Maybe we have guilt issues over making money on our own and by not working for someone else to be paid.  Maybe we truly just want to have some fun and throw a sale, kinda like how we might throw a party.  And maybe we ourselves have undervalued an artist before and we know it.  So we try to compensate for that guilt too.

Who knows?  But right or wrong, we all give lowering our prices a try sometime, for some reason.

But here’s the thing – that bit that you lower your prices to, at shows and for general public shopping, does not really make a difference in getting the sale or not.  All it makes a difference in is your bottom line.

People are not really quibbling over dollars here and there.  And people only think on the surface that they spend money with artists based on price.  Perhaps a little, but it’s not really the core place that people operate from, it’s a peripheral one.  Price is a data point by which we try to measure our true reasons for what we buy and why we justify it.  But it’s only one data point and it’s not the core.

The heart of why people buy is not money, but instead their experience of it. 

Why?  Because innately, we are after the human experience of things.  Innately we are ever seeking to improve that core life experience and either you, your story and your product fit into that connection or you don’t.

If you are truly an artist and not just a manufacturing machine, and if you will truly embrace your art, your expertise, your passion – people don’t just invest in the thing you produce.  They invest in the artist.  They invest in you.  They invest in your future and your light.  And that’s where you want to distinguish yourself.

Price your items fairly.

In no way am I saying be extravagant or unreasonable in your pricing approach.  We’re not talking about pissing into a jar and hawking it on Craigslist for a million bucks.  But you need to think about all of your overhead, your taxes, your licenses, your internet fees, your materials, your table fees, your travel fees and last but not least – your time.  Think about it fairly, set your price and then stick to your guns.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t ever tweak your prices. 

Figuring out your market usually takes time and experience.  Until you’ve been in business for at least a year, you really don’t know anything.  And never use your first show ever as a measure of what business as usual looks like.  Whether that first show is good or not, no individual show is going to tell you what you can count on.  So you will adjust from time to time as you figure things out.

But never do you want to make your prices unfair for you.  For the health of your business, you have an obligation to care for it, just like you care for a child.  In order for it to grow and thrive, and in order for that business to successfully serve your customers, you need to make good healthy decisions.

You are judged by the prices you set, for better or worse.  And if they are not right, they become your problem and not your solution.

If you don’t want to be associated with knock-off bargains, flea-market tactics or Wal-Mart mentality, then don’t look like them.  If you don’t value yourself more highly, why should anyone else?  And if you don’t stand up for yourself, who else will?  It’s your life to live and your business to run, no one else’s.

This is a really important thing, because in the handmade and service markets, prices that are too low are often a sign of inexperience and lack of professionalism to everyone in the know.  Your fellow artists know it, your buyers know it and your show directors know it.  It takes discipline to run a strong business.  If your prices do not match the needs and design of a show, it just might be what keeps you from getting in.  And it could be a whispered warning that you might be too risky to team up with either.

Pricing should not be about fear or negative emotions.

It’s fairness and it’s strategy.  Gather your data, give it the attention it deserves and then design a logical working framework with flexibility built in.

Last but not least, build in lows and highs, but remember that most of your sales come from the middle. 

Part of the human psychology is built around the justification of what experiences we choose.  And most of us will not fall into the extremes.  But we will look at those extremes as measurements to help us find the middle ground that feels right to us.  We like groupings of threes, fours and fives.  Too much more and it gets complex, too little and we innately don’t feel we have enough data to make the jump.  Make it easy for your buyers to feel good about their decisions, knowing they are looking for certain data points to reach their conclusions.  And then wow them with your amazing talent and service.  You’ll have it in the bag!


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


18 Comments

Filed under Business, NaBloPoMo

The Balance Between Communicating Too Much And Not Enough


I like details.

I like specific questions. I like specific answers.  I like conversation.  And most especially (besides sheer writing for the joy of it), I like thorough two-way communication.

But sometimes, no matter how much you like to communicate, you find yourself on uneven ground, face to face with someone else who does not communicate the same way as you.

communication_blocked_signedI’ve been told that I’m too bold, and that I’m too timid.  That I’m too detailed and that I don’t communicate enough detail.  And so often times, it begins to feel like some kind of dance.  Which direction will this dance partner take me today?  And will I be able to follow suit?

And that’s without the “do I take them literally, figuratively or read between the lines” sub-rhythm that I also know all too well.

Since I like writing, and because I like being thorough, when it comes to letters and emails I can tend to get wordy if I’m not careful.  And I tend to write the same way I’d converse with someone.  Some people really like that.

But not everyone.

Some people will only communicate over email in cryptic short bursts.  And more often than not, these are the people who tell me that I don’t communicate enough.  When the reality is, I gave them so much information, they just didn’t really read it.

Often when I catch on to someone’s short communication pattern, I will try to pattern after them, and keep my responses short like theirs.  My husband is more like this.  I’ve figured out that I need to keep any emails I send him short, focused and sweet, or call him instead.  One or two lines, no more.  Otherwise, he won’t read my email.  He just won’t.  And then I’ll hear later how I never told him something.

However sometimes, especially in business, I can’t justify using short burst communication, because there are too many important details that need to be addressed.  And this is when I really need whomever I’m working with to get over their preferences and adapt to me so we can get things done.

And yet, the cryptic short burst communication type folks will still tend not to read what the information they are sent.

Sometimes I try to relegate communication to “phone only” with these individuals, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to refuse to use phone conversations anymore.  Which to me is quite weird, because typing is such a one-dimensional way to communicate, much less in a few sentences of 8 words or less.

I’ve seen more misunderstandings take place thanks to only communicating in text over the internet than anything else in all my life.  Ninety percent of the time, if someone would just pick up the phone, there wouldn’t end up being a misunderstanding at all.

There’s a little rule of thumb my husband taught me that he used in his sales job and that I view as a golden truth: If it takes more than two emails, it’s time to pick up the phone.

But you can’t force someone to call you.

These are the times that try my professional soul.  And sometimes my PTO motherhood soul.  And sometimes my wifely soul too.  Though hubby and I have the luxury of recapping with each other every day.

So when that important communication blunder takes place, what can you do?

One idea: Try to head it off before it takes place.  Establish a particular format or a thumb-nail sketch of rules that you use to govern your communication by.

For instance, I used to require a phone number before I would work with anyone over a custom order and insist on talking with them over the phone at some point.  It helped a lot.  It kept me from hours on the computer just trying to talk to people, and it kept me from misunderstanding something because all I got was a 10 word response.  Having phone access gave my clients and I both a much clearer understanding of one another.  Not to mention it kept people from forgetting about their orders too.

However, I’ve gotten away from that practice, thinking perhaps I didn’t really need it, especially for internet sales.  And it hasn’t worked out as well.  Some things work out just fine and others, not so much.  When I’ve asked for someone’s address four times, it gets a little annoying after a while.  So I’m probably going to reinstate that rule again.  Along with a general structure of required information that I want before I even consider their project.

When push comes to shove in business and communication, we need a structure and a plan.  Since the only person in the world we can truly control is ourselves, sometimes we just have to check ourselves, try to listen to the beat, roll with the music and dance anyway.  But other times, we need to build checks and balances into our system to take care of potential issues that arise.  Like my phone number requirement for custom work.  Or a basic who, what, why, where, when, how approach.

The truth is, people really mostly want to hear about themselves, what interests them most and be pampered.  And it’s our job as professionals to figure out what all that is. We listen, we ask, we take notes.  But somewhere in there the customer has to meet us in the middle.

I’m here to serve you.

I’m not however a mind reader.  I do not offer, nor do I provide that service.

So it’s your job to 1) help me understand how best to serve you and 2) help me understand what your expectations are.  Because I cannot deliver what I don’t understand and I cannot live up to something I have no idea exists, much less never offered.

Which means all I have left is to take you at your own words.

All ten of them.

7 Comments

Filed under Business, Crochet Ruminations, NaBloPoMo, Writing

Follow Your Heart – It’s Not Really That Clichéd – Crochet Ruminations


You know the best advice I can give an artist seeking to sell for profit is to follow your heart when it comes to creativity and listen to your customers’ feedback.

Every time I’ve ever tried to do something my heart wasn’t really into, from that creative artistic point of view, it never would sell well.

In the beginning, I got a lot of shoulds on what to make from peers and others who had input to give me, but who weren’t ever buying from me.  “You should make dog clothes!”  I don’t own dogs and I don’t know the first thing about shaping for them, I don’t think so.  “You should make purses!” Well, I might make a couple, but if I’m not really a bag lady myself, how can I possibly find it interesting enough to create them for profit or be in tune with what people want in a crochet purse. “I just want to see you succeed,” another artist told me at a show after giving unsolicited advice.

And you know what else?  Not once has a customer treated me that way either.  Kind of interesting.  Maybe they like my ideas just the way they are.

And that’s just it.  I have always succeeded by being me.  And not by trying to imitate someone else.

I believe people buy handmade and art because they are expressions of someone, and they are drawn to that spirit.  When it’s authentic, they’re fans.  When it’s not, there’s nothing to distinguish you the individual from someone else.  And when we listen to fans and to the people who are actually putting money into our hands, we’re listening to people who have tapped into our creative spirit.  Which can be really helpful when we’re feeling a bit lost and need direction.

Anyway, so though it sounds clichéd, seriously – follow your heart in your craft.  Pour yourself into it.  And if you can’t?  If there’s a block? Then find an avenue that isn’t blocked.  Nowhere does it say that you have to be a yellow pencil.  Be inspired by someone?  Sure.  But genuinely do your own thing!

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Filed under Business, crochet, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, NaBloPoMo, Writing

Four Dysfunctional Attitudes About Communication


Effective communication is the key to everything. To business, to relationships, to peace.  However people often have some dysfunctional ways of thinking about the subject. Let’s take a look at these and see if any apply.

1. There is no such thing as just one solution! 

Encourage people to always get at least a 2nd (qualified) opinion, whatever the situation is, especially when there are doubts.  There are more equally effective ways up the same mountain than just one.  Seriously, if you reach the summit and find that someone else climbed up a different way, would you shove them off the mountain top for not doing it the “right” way?  Of course not!  You’d probably share a celebratory drink and take in the view together.  Wisdom is found in the midst of a multitude of views.  Holding that kind of outlook has served me far better than most.  It applies to anything in life, health or business.

2. It’s OK for someone else to be the expert.

No human is infinite enough to contain all the knowledge of a single subject, much less of the universe. We should celebrate that wonder and make use of individual expertise by adding the insight and value of others to our lives and teams.  Just because I can doesn’t mean I should or that it’s in my (or anyone else’s) best interest.  Not being an expert in something is not a negative reflection on us.  I’m thankful for the experts in my life.  I can not possibly hold that much information in this one physical and finite body.  I’m an expert in crochet.  I can be that.  Thank God someone else can be an expert in car repair and plumbing for me!  And I’m no less a person for it.

For an expansion on this idea, check out Derek Sivers’ video “Hell Yeah Or No.”

3.  Confrontation is not a dirty word.

Communication is essential to mediation. As someone who tends to communicate fairly well, others often come to me with their frustrations in dealing with someone else.  Many times they hope I will intercede for them.  I listen, but often followup with, “OK, you’ve hashed out your concerns with me, but have you gone to the source? Have you talked to that teacher/volunteer/manager/parent/business/peer that you have a suggestion/concern/issue with? Because they can’t do anything about what they don’t know.” All too often, people avoid confrontation, so nothing is ever addressed. When you feel helpless, the last thing you should do is give up.  Avoiding the person or issue will not often resolve anything.

4.  Emotional Reality and Factual Reality Are Not The Same.

When you’re having trouble seeing things straight, it is also important to keep in mind that although emotional reality is real and it does give us valuable information, that emotional reality and factual reality are not generally the same.  Making decisions based solely on feelings is not a balanced place to operate from.  Many emotions are caused by triggers.  And triggers can be very individual and personal.  What triggers you and what triggers me is not necessarily going to be similar.  Your feelings might be real, but they may have nothing to do with the actual situation at hand.  As hard as it may be, sometimes you have to step outside of that emotional reality with logical mindful intent.

What other dysfunctional attitudes about communication can you think of?
Think about it and share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under Business, Editorial, NaBloPoMo

Three Communication Tips To Help You Get Your Point Across


If I’m not careful, I can be a talker. As a natural at the art of capturing a story, it’s a gift. But it can also be a weakness. Here are three tools I’ve found useful to help me stay trim in my communications and remain effective in the long run.  This includes marketing and sales.

1. Remember that people communicate (and retain) information best in three main ways: audio, visual and kinetic. A balance of the three seems to work best. Honestly, sometimes we need to shut up and let a picture say a 1000 words or let someone get a literal handle on something. But beyond that, the truth is that some people retain and communicate best by hearing their own thoughts expressed in audio. Which means, get them into the discussion and you’ll get the best out of them.

My son is an example of someone who performs best through discussion, not just listening. He has an unusual visual impairment with a kind of blend of parallax and monocular vision (and medical terms I find difficult to describe).  Due to this, his thoughts literally form best through discussion and the hearing of his own voice. Once he’s been a part of the discussion, he’s your man and knows exactly what to do. Without it, he has a harder time putting his thought process in order or “getting it” because he has no mental black-board to “see” things in his mind. When he can verbalize thoughts as they take form, the quality of his work is amazingly better, because his brain is wired that way. It’s been an interesting path of discovery for us at home and I’ve learned to tailor my communication for others as a result.

2. There is a book that I love called: How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, by Milo Frank. I listen to the audio version on a periodic basis to remind me how to trim my words and get to the point.

3. Once words are spoken, you can’t take them back. So if it’s the wrong words, or just too many, the problem is the same. I like to keep in mind an old adage that goes something like this: “Better they wonder why you didn’t open your mouth, than why you did!”

These are some thoughts that have helped me in both my professional and personal communications, as well as marketing.  I hope they help you too.

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Filed under Business, Editorial, My Recommends, NaBloPoMo

How Much Are You Worth?


What is the true cost of handmade items at a show?  I’m not really talking about taking a bead and sticking it on an ear wire. There’s almost no training or skill involved in that.  There’s not much honing of a craft going on there.  Though it does take time to assemble, it’s small and not considered skilled labor.

How much do you make an hour for your expertise?  How much should a hand crafter make per hour?  What is right for a living wage?  It’s easy to forget sometimes the nature of how some jobs work.  In many jobs, you get paid a set wage + benefits.  Some jobs involve a commission, which is generally highly taxed by the government even if it is really what you feed yourself with.  Other jobs, like waiting tables, are often half of minimum wage with the expectation that you will make up the rest in tips.  That was a rude awakening when I landed my first waiting job right out of college.  I was taxed out of my $2.13 an hour each week as if it were twice that, because it’s assumed I would make up the other half of minimum wage on tips.  And I didn’t.  Sigh, those were the days.

So how much should a hand crafter make?  Well, one obvious thing to consider is the cost of table fees to get into the show in the first place.  Just here in Austin, there are shows that range from $40 a table to over $3000.  It’s a chunk of change, and somewhat of a gamble playing the odds whether you will sell something at the venue or not.  Space rental is not cheap.  Neither is security, electricity or many other expenses people might not think of.  If you take credit cards, you have expenses there as well.

You have the cost of materials as overhead.  When it comes to yarn, it’s interesting to me that so many buyers really have no idea how much yarn can cost these days.  To buy enough to create a garment is a pretty substantial chunk.  Are we using “That Old 70’s Yarn?”  Or something nicer like silk or cashmere or even a microfiber?  Either way, it’s way more now than it was when I was a kid.

Then there’s the amount of materials as well.  Just because a hat you find at WalMart cost $5 doesn’t mean it has a comparable amount of fiber in it to something handmade.  Nor does it mean the yarn can be purchased in the US for so little either.  Where many often use one yarn for a design, I often use three myself.  So that’s a jump in cost for me.  Plus there’s the value of other elements, like antique buttons or sterling silver findings.

And then we come to the aspect of time and of skill.  What would you pay an expert to do and what would you pay a beginner?  There should be a difference.  There’s something to be said for a skill that has been honed over time.  Because the quality of labor is much different.  Why should an expert be paid the same as a beginner?  There’s a reason why we pay doctors what we do, they are highly educated, trained and skilled.

But let’s say we have a beginner.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  Even people receiving training to flip burgers get at least minimum wage.  If an item requires $30 of materials and takes 4 hours to make, you have at minimum a $59 item, before taxes.  Right?  What if you decide not to charge minimum wage?  Even at $5 an hour (a minimum suggestion from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler), you still have a $50 price tag.  At minimum.  For beginner grade work.

I like some points Laurie made on this subject in previous years on the Crochet Liberation Front forum, “The best way I know of raising the value of anything, is to value it yourself.” 

Followed up in her article last year “At What Price?” Laurie has this to say:

“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FUZZY DO NOT…and I repeat…DO NOT UNDERSELL YOUR WORK!!  …. Materials + Time x Skill = $$…. Time is valuable. Especially in today’s fast paced world, time is PRECIOUS, your time is VALUABLE. If you spend 2hrs on a  hat and you spent $3 on the materials and you only charge $4.00, $3.00 covers the materials and you just made FIFTY CENTS an hour. Really?  You are not a SWEATSHOP…You are WORTH more than that… “

Also, I’ve heard many women make comments that should never be made, like: “Oh but I enjoy doing this so I don’t charge very much.”  WHAT? Seriously? Did I just hear that?  SO you should only get paid for what you don’t derive a sense of satisfaction from?  (I’ve never heard a man say something like this, btw.)  If you’ve ever been guilty of saying something like that, stop and consider the craziness of what you’re suggesting.  Not to mention how it undervalues the work of all hand crafters when you do that, including the ones who rely on selling their wares to put food on the table.  Just because you don’t have to rely on it to feed your kids, doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.

Factors to keep in mind as you consider pricing also include rarity, how labor intensive, precision of the work, and expertise and range of experience. Some items, you’ll have to judge.  You may have to tweak your prices or process a bit here and there.  Just because you are capable of making wash cloths out of cashmere doesn’t mean it’s practical and that everyone will buy one for what it’s worth or at all.  Hmmm… So maybe there’s a cap there somewhere on what kind of materials you expect to use for what items and the price range most of your customers will fall into?

There’s also travel time, packing materials and postage.  If I’m doing custom orders and find myself driving all over town from yarn shop to yarn shop trying to find what will make my customer happy, it becomes an expense that has to be accounted for, because they want a custom item and not something I have ready to go.  And it requires me to take time off from my regular business and work only for them until they get what they want.  That can be a lot of time, especially if they don’t really know what they want or it’s difficult to secure!  Think about the fees you would pay a graphic artist when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want.  Usually you get one or two proofs and that’s it.  Consider that custom handmade should not be much different.

So when you’re pricing, you have a lot to consider for variables.  And once you have that, stick with it and do not let buyers bargain with you.  Not only is it poor form at shows, but when you do it, you give people permission to essentially cut your pay!  Set a fair and reasonable price, based on the variables we’re discussing and decide ahead of the show how you will deal with such requests.  If you want to offer a discount for multiple purchases, that can be nice, but price your individual items accordingly so you are still coming out on top in the end. Do not stoop to the rude folks either.  They are not your market.  Be polite, but do not waste your time on them.  You want to know at the end of the year, after all those last-minute material purchases and all the time invested and you sit down to do those taxes, that it was worth it.  If you never stand up for yourself, who will?

Now that you’ve read all this and taken stock, how much are you worth?  Think about it and add to the discussion in the comments!  😀

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet


29 Comments

Filed under Business, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, Doing the Show Circuit

Online Adventures: Where I’m Learning Today


Thanks to yesterday’s efforts, I’m sitting in a fairly peaceful and debris-free dining room while I type, before buckling down and digging back into the house-remodeling-and-moving tasks at demand.  It’s nice for a break, even though I know this table will necessarily be full of paperwork yet again soon.

So I’m catching up real “quick” on Twitter and blog stats and all that this morning. My blog post from a week ago, “Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet” has received rave reviews and attention. Awesome! 🙂 It was so much fun to write. I’m glad others are enjoying it too.

I meant to post another blog entry this week, but it took a back burner (as it must) to the house business. Unfortunately, I still wear too many hats. And getting this house ready for sale is a priority. I’ll tell that story later though.

But not today. I’m enjoying the calm right now.

So this morning during my life pause, Laurie from over at the Crochet Liberation Front had me checking out http://Klout.com. It’s an interesting service that taps into your Twitter account and then analyzes what your “clout” and essentially your influence is. I have props for being influential in crochet, technology, and others. I can accept that. But I found it hilarious that I’m supposedly influential about BACON. As in the food.

Adding to my amusement with the whole thing is that I know why I rated influential in bacon at all. 🙂 All because of a simple, humorous yet pointed tweet made by Scott from UnMarketing.

“The only excuse for making your Facebook event invite ALL-CAPS is if there is FREE BACON. Otherwise, stop it.”

I retweeted his post the old fashioned way with “RT.” I wasn’t the only one who found it retweet-able. Others retweeted (RT) my tweet the newer way, via the retweet button. Hence, on Klout – I receive credit for being influential in the bacon realm. Bacon, bacon, bacon. I can’t even eat real bacon. One of my very real major allergies. Hrmph.

Anyway, my fellow crocheter Maven says Klout’s is to Twitter accounts kind of like Technorati is for blogs. Speaking of them, Technorati has an interesting article on the value of Klout.  So since I’m still learning about it too, I refer you there to learn more yourself.

Oh, and speaking of internet related stuff, I ended up signing up for Listia. It’s kind of like eBay, and yet it’s not, because there’s not really any money involved. It’s mostly about bidding on free stuff by use of credits, which you can earn. And when you join they start you out with some free credits to play with.  It’s a little hard to explain, but I think if you go look at it, it’ll make more sense.

So I’m testing that out. I might list some yarn there, who knows. Will let you know what I think about it for sure once I’ve had a good run of figuring it out. Right now, I’ve already made my first n00b mistake and bid on an auction that said “local pick up only” without it stating anywhere in the auction where the seller was actually located, other than “United States.” N00b move for us both.  I just found out they’re in NY. Figures.

Well, that’s my latest news about online tools.  Now, it’s time for me to get my work clothes on and tear into the garage. If we’re to do carpet for the kids room, we need to move bunks somewhere. I miss having a bunch of college friends I could bribe with beer and pizza. Money didn’t matter as long as friends, beer and pizza were involved. Somehow I think those days are gone.

Wish me luck and willpower to plow through amazing feats today. 😉 I wish you answered wishes back!

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Filed under Business

Tech Help For Crafters In A Left-Brain World: IP Address Conflict


Tech Ideas For Right-Brainers

Alright, I know I’m not the only one who works with computers, yet doesn’t always understand the problems that can arise.  It’s actually pretty common in the artistic, right-brain type worlds – after all we’re wired for music and art, not necessarily programming.  But we all know by now that we have to market and connect by using computers, even if we aren’t computer experts ourselves.  So I’ll try to share tips and fixes as I experience and come across them, in layman’s terms.

"Things I love that hurt me so. On the fast road to carpal tunnel." Have you met fellow Texan Stephanie Toppin, the crochet personality behind @ObeyCrochet? This awesome drawing is here thanks to her. I'm a total fan! Click the photo above to check out the ObeyCrochet site and subscribe to her humorous and ingenious crochet musings! Hook on sistah! (And tell her you want a T-Shirt!)

Today’s insight comes from personal experience: when a little bubble pops up on your screen and tells you that your computer has an IP address conflict with another computer on your network.  What to do?

This didn’t become an issue for our family until the kids acquired wireless laptops for the ever-increasing demand for their school work.

Suddenly, we had fatal printing failures popping up every where.

Now if you’re like me, when a message like that appears, you’re wondering what the heck is up, you’re worried if someone has hacked into your computer and you have no idea what to do.

I just want my computer to work when I turn it on.  I didn’t know what the heck to do about a technical address.

Well, it took some doing, but I did find a fix and from my research it’s my understanding that unless you are using a wireless network, this probably doesn’t affect you much.  But in our case, where every family member has a computer, and everyone prints wirelessly to the only printer in the house AND they all connect to the internet wirelessly through our router, when that message pops up, someone is going to suddenly be unable to print their documents at all.  Not fun when homework is due the next day.  Not fun when a work deadline is due either. And especially not fun when none of the computers run on the same version of Windows either.

I came across a lot of ideas on fixes, ranging from rebooting to hand typing a new address (which I never did find out where that would be done anyway).  I found no solutions that were straight forward and made sense and worked for us.

Until I came across the simple command based type solution.  That makes sense to me.  It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s logical and it’s simple to understand.  And I come from the era of learning to program Atari computers in Basic and the world of PROFS when I worked at IBM (administrative), so yeah work with me – typing commands DOS style makes sense.

This fix was found in the recesses of Microsoft.com’s discussion areas (go figure).  I have since cleaned my caches and lost the link to it, or I’d share it with you.  Luckily I made myself notes in a Word file for reference, so here it is for your reference:

The fix at least for a PC:

First get an idea which computer(s) on your network probably have the conflict. If everything’s fine until dear daughter turns on her laptop, it’s a clue.

1. On the offending computer, open your start menu.  This is usually a button on the lower far left corner that says start, or displays a Microsoft flag on it.  Click it.

2. Then click on run.

3. Type “CMD” (with no quotes) and press enter.  This will open a black command box.

4.  At the command prompt type:  IPCONFIG/RELEASE.  Press enter.
(This releases the IP address your computer is currently using.  It’s possible this will take a few seconds for your computer to process.)

5. Then at a new prompt type: IPCONFIG/RENEW. Press enter.
(This will assign a new IP address to your computer.  It is possible this will also take your computer some time to process.)

And that’s it!  Done.  Works!  Isn’t it simple?  Doesn’t it make sense?  Once the command is carried out and your black screen shows you the new IP address, close the black command window and you will be back in business.  You don’t even have to restart your computer.

The why’s of how this IP conflict happens? Well, I’m not that technically educated in the matter, but from what I gather, our computers are generally set up to automatically assign each one a unique IP address to use while working on the wireless network.  This way each computer can be told apart as they all connect and print and do their things on the same network.  But occasionally, an IP address is duplicated.  When this happens, it causes computer confusion on the network as it looks like the same computer exists in two places.  And we all know from our sci-fi movies that this eventually leads to breakdown.  I don’t know all the ins and outs, but hey, I got this much and it seems to be a fairly common, yet benign problem.

So there you go, a not-so-easily-found quick little fix, for apparently a fairly common problem.  And no it won’t hurt your computer.  Hope you find this helpful and stay tuned for future tech ideas for the right-brain focused! Please remember to thumb this post up and share if you found it helpful!

So until next time… see you then! 😀

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Filed under Business, Education, Tech Idea Thursday