How To Stay In Control Of Your Creative Business, In 5 Easy Steps

How To Stay In Control Of Your Creative Business In 5 Easy Steps. Practical, easy to follow advice for creative businesses covering promotion, time management, and keeping calm, written by textile designer Victoria, the mastermind behind accessories brand TORIA by Victoria Jowett

Practical, easy to follow advice for creative businesses; covering promotion, time management, and keeping calm. All written by small business owner and textile designer Victoria, the mastermind behind accessories brand TORIA by Victoria Jowett. Click the heading and scroll to the bottom to download your FREE self promotion help guide.

 

Hi, I’m Victoria and I run a small independent design company that makes limited edition, one-of-a-kind bags and homeware accessories. My aim is to keep designs fresh and forever evolving, to create something vibrant, unique, and practical for people’s homes. However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing! I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what I’ve learnt the hard way.


1)      Don’t get bogged down with the things you can’t do
I let this hold me back from actually starting for waaaay too long. All I could see were the things I couldn’t do, like finding the right suppliers or not having a shop function on my website (still not done this!). I had a list as long as my arm of all the things I felt I needed to get right before launching a product range. Everything felt really overwhelming and I just didn’t know where to begin, so I began with the things I could do and knew how to do. It’s that simple.
As soon as I started ‘ticking’ my list, then all the things I couldn’t do fell into the correct priority AND one at a time were much easier to problem solve!
 Action step 1 – Make a to-do list but keep it manageable, I try and give myself 3 main priorities for the day, remember things always take longer than expected.

2)      You can’t do everything at once – and that’s ok!
I had so many things that I felt all needed to be done before I was ‘professional’ enough to even start telling people about it. Making my website, getting good product photos then editing and reworking, getting an online shop set up, the tags, the descriptions, the SEO… PANIC sets in and mind spirals out of control! But when I let my business dictate my to-do list, and by this I mean not what I perceived was an important job but what I most needed to do to move my business forward,  things fell into place as I did them one. at. a. time!

Action step 2 – Look at your to do list, evaluate your jobs that will help generate an income, ie get your products listed on Etsy BEFORE you start drawing a new design. You need to make your products available for people to buy otherwise you’ll have no idea which designs are successful.

Designers: How To Manage Your Time (plus some free tools to help you)

 

3)      Expand your social media bubble
I generally used Instagram for my own inspiration and to keep in touch with the Surface Pattern Design world. However, this lead to serious self-doubt, everyone I followed was probably years in front of me business wise, so much more experienced, excellent product photography with a strong brand – how could I compete?
The answer was I couldn’t, but I started to reach out to other crafters; I have a textile degree and specialised in knitting, so naturally I find constructed textiles really inspiring. By expanding my IG bubble not only did it have a positive effect on my mind-set, it actually started to engage another audience which is has led to sales. In short, I felt more inspired than before and my business benefited.

Action step 3 – Look up #meetthemakers or #marchmeetthemaker on Instagram or Twitter, you can find some really interesting creatives out there with a breath of design skills at all levels.

Designer Interview: Georgie St Clair (and how to improve your Instagram following)


4)      Make the mind switch
Although of course for most of us our businesses are, first and foremost labours of love, you still need to take it seriously, otherwise nobody else will! This means treating your business like you would any other job. This is where I went wrong at first; my ‘real’ job was at work and my ‘fun’ job was at home. This meant that, although I was incredibly disciplined, everyone else around me just thought I was ‘at home’, so would just call to pop round, catch up for coffee or just not quite get it when I’d tell them “I’ve got design stuff to do”. It meant that I got more and more stressed because I felt so up against it time wise, it has almost bought me to breaking point on several occasions! When I started saying the words “I’m still at work, I’ll be finished at …” then not only did people take what I was trying to do more seriously but it opened up communications with friends (and then friends of friends) who wanted logos or design advice and actually lead to paid work.
Action step 4 – Be disciplined and stay focused.  Keep your phone away from your desk, this way you should limit getting distracted by a text or call, only look at social media when it is truly for business reasons, schedule the post (or whatever it is you want to do) and shut it down again.


Which leads me on to my final tip…



5)      …Tell people!
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with self-promotion! I asked a very successful freelancer what her advice would be for someone just starting out and the advice was;

“I told everyone and anyone that I was a designer (pause)… especially the hairdresser, they talk to a lot of people!”

OH SO SIMPLE – So, I had to get some test prints done at the local library. The printer broke and the lady that came over to help said “oh these designs are beautiful!”. Very bravely, I took a deep breath and said, “Oh, thank you! They’re mine. I’m a designer and they are for cushion covers”. What happened next is slightly unclear because I was SO nervous about saying those simple words that I didn’t take in much else, but before I knew it I had others gathered around me all discussing my designs! Cutting it short, the manager came over and said when the samples are done to bring them in as she’d like to stock them in the library shop! I genuinely think if people ask, they are interested, and it’s not that hard to say “I’m a designer”. If people aren’t interested they will change the conversation and you’ve lost nothing, BUT if they are interested you never know what doors may be opened to you!


Action step 5 – An easy way to do this is 1) make sure your personal Facebook profile is updated under the work section, this way when you participate in groups it’s easier for others to find your business without knowing the name. 2) Use a pinned Tweet or Facebook post on your business page that communicates quickly what you do and/or how to get in touch with you (see my Twitter example here and my Facebook example here ).

9 Creative Ways To Use Personalised Fabric To Promote Your Business (without having to ‘sell’ or be pushy)

Running your own business is HARD, but remember it’s a long game not a sprint, nothing happens overnight and most of the time things go wrong before they go right! If you only do one thing from this list, my advice would be number 5; this has been an absolute game changer for me. I know self-promotion is scary but have a look at my self-promotion checklist for some ideas, the main thing is, take a deep breath and say “I’m a designer” and see what happens.

 

 

Have a look at Victoria’s gorgeous bags and accessories, and keep in touch with her on social media:

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