Where are you on your business journey – and what do you need help with?

21 replies, 11 voices Last updated by  Kayte Ferris 1 year ago
  • Camilla Westergaard
    Participant
    @camilla-westergaard
    #6023

    Hi everyone!

    I’m Camilla and I’m one of the contributors to the Sisterhood Summer Camp. Most of my experience is in helping designers and makers grow their online businesses, but hopefully I’ll be able to answer any other questions you have, as generally the same principles apply whatever field you’re in.

    The lessons I’ve written centre around selling online but I also have experience of selling to retailers, so if you need any advice about how to pitch to indie shops or pricing etc, just ask and I’ll see if I can help.

    To start with, I thought it would be good to find out more about all of you, where you are in your business journeys and what kind of help you need.

    Have you already started your business? What you do? Is it online or offline? Is there anything you’re struggling with?

    Give me a shout if you need me! I might not be able to reply straight away but I’ve set up email notifications, so it will give me a little ping if you do.

     

    Lou Archell
    Keymaster
    @lou
    #6086

    Thanks Camilla

    I’m really looking forward to watching this thread grow, and how we can all help each other.  7 Years ago I started a small folksy shop, with some prints.  I wish I had this group, filled with knowledge back then.

    Lou x

    Natasha Jackson
    Participant
    @natashajackson
    #6114

    Hi Camilla,

    I’ve got a few ideas, but no idea how to start selling 👀

    I’m hoping by doing your course I will feel less intimidated to just ‘start’.

    Natasha xx

    Monica Dunkley
    Participant
    @monica
    #6171

    Hi!

    I’ve been thinking of starting a workshop based business for years… now my kids at an age (teenagers.. urgh..) they are more independent and this would allow me the time to do so… just don’t know where to start.  I’ve been teaching quilting/knitting/crochet here and there through the years ( and I could teach macrame too… ) but I’d like to do it more ‘structurally’ and properly and I have so many ideas and don’t know where to start.  Also… I’m terrified.  I KNOW I can do it… but can someone give me a kick up the backside please?

    Gaelle Jolly
    Participant
    @gaelle
    #6256

    Hi Camilla,

    I am only at the ideas stage… I practise calligraphy and would love to turn it into a business, but I am, ever awkwardly, not that attracted to the wedding scene, which is the bread and butter of most calligraphers. Instead I’d like to offer bespoke and semi-bespoke items to help people capture and treasure memories (eg personalised maps, books of collated text messages etc). While I first need to actually develop these product ideas, I also feel generally clueless about business matters and would feel more confident if I could see the route forward more clearly, so I hope your course will help me with that!

    Gaelle

    Laura McMahon
    Participant
    @smallestlight
    #6324

    Hi Camilla,

    Just finished reading through lesson one and feel that the course is going to be really helpful for me, so thank you! I make and sell aromatherapy candles connected to the seasons, started up about 8 months ago selling through Etsy (mainly marketing through IG – @smallestlight) and from knowing practically zero about setting up online its been an amazing period of learning for me…with plenty of ups and downs along the way! In a few weeks I will be getting my website online, so at this stage I guess I am mostly looking for help around launching the website, attracting email sign ups and transitioning from being so reliant on IG marketing (as per your advice in lesson 1!!)

    Laura

    Emma Kidd
    Participant
    @emmak
    #6364

    Hi Camilla;

    Just done lesson one and it has been a really helpful starting point. I’m starting from scratch really . All I know is that I don’t feel fulfilled in my current job and would love to start something, at least as a side hustle in the beginning, that excites me. I need to do some soul searching so Jen Carrington’s blog on how to be your own creative coach is next on my list to read.

    I have a bit of land and a shepherd’s hut that is nearly ready to start renting out. I’m also starting to think about developing a programme of workshops which I could run along side, I would need to collaborate with people to do this so wondering how financially viable that would be.

    Emma

     

    Anonymous @
    #6416

    Hi Camilla,

     

    I’m excited to learn through your course, as I’m in the process of trying to begin a small creative business.

    I love making and have an interest in many crafts, particularly fibre arts such as macrame, weaving and more recently punch needle. I have also run some workshops in these locally ( as well as Christmas wreath workshops, but that’s another story!)  I love teaching and sharing a love of making with others and I also love making just for the sake of it.

    I’d love to run more creative workshops, and to perhaps sell online too. Part of the problem with me is that I’ve never really narrowed down what I do to one thing, and so I feel I like I lack focus and am all over the place. I have lots of ideas but I suppose I need help to work out which (if any) of my ideas has legs!

    I’m loving the summer camp so far, excited to learn more and to interact with others here in the forums.

    Clare x

     

    Camilla Westergaard
    Participant
    @camilla-westergaard
    #6447

    Hi Natasha! I think you’re right – sometimes we just have to make the decision to start. As I say in the Lesson 1, there are things you can do before you start or at the beginning that will help prepare you and make sure you’re building the right kind of business for you, but it’s such a shame when the fear of failing stops people from ever starting. All businesses will have mistakes as part of their journey and that’s how you learn. What kind of business are you planning?

    Camilla Westergaard
    Participant
    @camilla-westergaard
    #6449

    Hi Monica! I have one teenager and one very nearly teenager – it goes so fast, doesn’t it? Are you thinking about doing online courses – like the ones Craftsy offers – or in person workshops? Or a combination? If you know that it can help you focus your efforts – eg if you want to offer local workshops, Facebook advertising could work really well for you as it’s cheap and you can target your ads to a particular location and interests, like people who also like Craftsy and Folksy in Manchester.

    Have you got a social media presence at the moment? That can be a great way to start and build your audience: you could begin by building an Instagram account (backed up by a Pinterest account) where you just post about quilting, knitting and crochet. It might be worth choosing one to focus on as it’s then easier to find the right hashtags? What kind of quilting/knitting/crochet is it you do? There are so many people out there who want to learn these skills but there are also so many other people who want to teach them, so it could be good to specialise in one particular aspect of one of the crafts and build a reputation for that – eg contemporary block quilts.

    Do you follow Marna Lunt and Craft Lab? They both run really successful workshops – Julie from CraftLab doesn’t have a huge following on Instagram but she does everything so well and her workshops are usually sold out. She teaches a range of skills like punch needle but in a contemporary way with emphasis on colour and shape. Marna runs amazing embroidery retreats in North Yorkshire that also have a mental health aspect, which really appeals to people.

    Camilla Westergaard
    Participant
    @camilla-westergaard
    #6451

    Hi Gaelle. That sounds really interesting. Are there other calligraphers doing something similar? Or any other people in related fields where you feel there is a crossover? If so, it would be useful to have a look at their prices to get an idea of what people expect to pay and then work out whether that will give you a profitable business based on the time and costs involved in making your products. That might actually help you work out what kind of products are possible – eg totally bespoke books may not be feasible.

    One of the difficulties you might potentially have is explaining the concept to potential customers as it’s something people won’t really have seen before so they won’t be familiar with or necessarily feel they ‘need’ to buy your services. One of the best ways you could do that is through video content – people generally absorb information better through video… plus the stats on how many words people read in blog or social posts are really depressing!

    Camilla Westergaard
    Participant
    @camilla-westergaard
    #6453

    Hi Laura. This is such a great concept and your Instagram account is beautiful and really well done. Having a seasonal product is great in terms of finding an audience on IG as you can really tie it in with all the seasonal tags, and it’s also very clever as the market for candles is traditionally very seasonal – I would imagine that’s one of the biggest tasks you’ll face though: convincing people that candles aren’t just for the winter months so that your business has steady streams of income throughout the year. Have you thought about styling a photoshoot for summer evenings lit by candles – midsummer is coming up so you could hone in on that and show people how your candles would be perfect for a midsummer evening celebration?

    Lots of magazines do midsummer or evening garden shoots, so you could approach them with some of your products for next year. To be in the June issue you’d probably need to get in touch by the end of January. I’d definitely recommend The Simple Things magazine, as it’s probably spot-on for your audience and I would think you’d be perfect for their pages. You could also try approaching influencers who celebrate midsummer, someone like Hannah Bullivant maybe?

    • This reply was modified 12 months ago by  Dan Lou.
    Jane Lindsey
    Participant
    @snapdragonjane
    #6992

    Hi Camilla,

    I am founder and designer at Snapdragon Online, an online gift shop, and I am transitioning it away from being about selling stuff to become more about my audience’s creativity, living in tune with the seasons and creating a joyful life.

    I used to sell 95% through online marketplaces and it was very much about making and selling masses of things – then, when I reached my 100,000th order, I decided it just wasn’t interesting me any more, so now I have a membership site so people can support my business and get lots of perks and a subscription box scheme.

    I am still very much in the early days of this – my membership has been going a year, my subscription box only a month.

    I want to learn about creating community and how to give value with things that isn’t necessarily a physical product – but I am not interested in doing e-courses or the like.  I am creating a members magazine at the moment.

    I used to blog and sell from my blog back in 2003-8, before the whole marketplace thing took off, and it is largely those readers who have remembered me and joined my membership and bought the boxes . . . I need to reach new people too.

    Thanks, Jane

    Anonymous @
    #7044

    Hi Monica!

    It’s lovely to see you in here, I’ve been following you online for years.  I would definitely be interested in a quilting workshop run by you x

    Anonymous @
    #7109

    Hi again Camilla,

    Just a quick question. I’m considering opening an online shop to sell my fibre art pieces (macrame, punch needle, weaving).

    My question is what are the main differences/positives/negatives between using Etsy, Folksy or my own website?

    Thanks

    Clare x

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