Turn Your Creative Skill Into a Business (Part 2)

This is the part two of an article by artist and workshop leader Amelia Critchlow. You can read How to turn your creative skill into a business (part 1) here.

11. Be visible: once you are up and running you need to be visible: on the net, in magazines, via business cards, by adverts in local shops, libraries, centres, tell people. You won’t sell or get work if people don’t know you are there. So tell the world in whatever format you feel comfortable! Network like crazy on the net, leaving comments on other blogs, guest posting, doing give-aways and so on.

12. Once you have a web presence, get a business card printed up stating clearly what you do (or even what you intend to do!;), with an image that speaks volumes about the nature of your work and contact/web details on. Carry them with you at ALL TIMES ready to give out appropriately

13. Create a signature email so that all emails you send have a link straight back to your website or any url’s, and state what you do ie. jewellery designer, writer, tutor etc.

14. Have a single name that you use consistently for all web url’s so people get to know who you are and make the link. for example  same name for; website, blog, twitter, facebook, linkedin etc

15. On any web spaces make it clear and easy to contact you ie. name and email address at the top/front (avoid making it hard for people work to find out how to contact you)

16. Ask! Ask for help, support, babysitting, write ups, ask questions, ask for freebies, for tips and strategie.

17. Swap skills: for example, if you need some-one to read over or edit the text you’ve written for your site (or you want them to write it in the first place) and you can’t afford to pay then swap skills. I do this frequently and people are normally flattered to be asked.

18. Talk: talk to everyone you meet about what you do. Be excited, say it confidently, often I find speaking positively and passionately about what you do leads to offers of work, commissions, workshops, sales, interest etc

19. Ideas-storm with yourself. Once you are up and running and out there or once you hit an obstacle, or maybe before you have even started, I find one of my best and most helpful techniques is to ‘ideas storm’ with my self. Sit quietly, get a note-book and write out the question you want an answer to – frame it as a ‘how’ question, rather than a ‘why’ question. Then quietly let ideas come, and however ludicrous they may seem jot them down. Or go to sleep with your trusty notebook nearby and when you wake up jot down any ideas fresh in your mind. I can honestly say that some of my best and most helpful ideas – that I have then implemented – came to me like this.

20. Last of all I would say just GO FOR IT! There is nothing more fulfilling than earning money from what you love, it gives working a whole new dimension and fulfils parts of you that money never can. I live by the motto that a winner never quits and a quitter never wins, but only you can define what your definition of winning or success is – often it’s not about the money, but being able to live each day fulfilled and content doing what we love .

Oh and by the way I am still learning too and am in the thick of it right now – I am continuously picking up tips and ideas and know I still have a way to go, but the main thing is I love what I am doing and it balances out the things I find tough at times.

You can find out more about Amelia here:

Her website: www.ameliacritchlow.co.uk

Her blog: 101 Bird Tales

Her Experimental Art E-Course

I started a business with a baby: Karen Fullerton of Chloe’s Mummy

Tell us a little about your business

Chloe’s Mummy sells handmade personalised photo board books for babies and toddlers.  Customers upload their text and photos to make a family photo album for little one to enjoy, a story book of their fun little lifes and all their clever achievements or a special keepsake book for a special person e.g. a “I Love My Daddy Because…” book to be read at bedtime and given to dad on Father’s Day.  I opened for business in Nov 2009 (when Chloe was 2) and have been making my books in my spare room ever since.

What was your job before starting your business?

I have had various jobs including High School Teacher, IT Trainer and Network Manager but was a stay at home mum to 1 year old Chloe when I had my business idea.

How did you go from your old career to your new business?

I handed in my notice whilst on maternity leave as I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Chloe.  It is such a personal decision but I fully believe you have to do what feels right for you and your family and totally ignore any comments from the outside world.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

My desire to spend my days with Chloe but continue to provide the little extras in life for my family motivated me to find a way to make extra money.  Also, as any mum will tell you we are strange creatures of guilt.  Those of us that go back to work feel they should be at home and those of us that stay at home feel like they should be working.  We are all just striving to find the perfect balance for ourselves.

Did you use any childcare?

Don’t use any chidcare but my mum is sometimes called upon for an hour or two to let me make some phone calls or do some last minute orders and my husband is so supportive during evenings and weekends (he also created and maintains my website).  It was fairly easy to manage my time in the first couple of months but since Chloe has stopped her daytime naps I am having to be stricter with myself in the evenings to get the job done.

How did you get your business idea?

I was looking for a personalised board book to give as a gift when Chloe’s nephew was born but couldn’t find one anywhere.  With all the photo gift companies out there I was surprised at this gap in the market so ended up making my own books for Chloe and her friends.  When anyone asked where the books were bought the answer of course was “Chloe’s Mummy makes them” and so my business and it’s name was created!

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

Getting appropriate suppliers for the raw materials required to make my books, especially with no contacts in the business.  However, all that it took was a little perseverance and much time on the phone.

What training, information or advice did you need to get started? Did you get this, if so where from?

Needed info on setting up my own business which I got from HMRC and info regarding toy safety regulations and the CE Mark with which Trading Standards were very helpful.

If you could give one piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?

Definitely go for it!  If you don’t you will constantly be wondering what if.


Women Wednesday – the Final One

Over the last few weeks I’ve been supporting Creation Collaboration’s Women Wednesday Blog Hop. Today is the tenth and final one.

Creation|Collaboration was set up by eight women, all existing friends, who run small businesses from their homes. They started Women Wednesday blog roll to link up with other women in business, spread the word about Creation|Collaboration and basically just have fun visiting interesting blogs!
Join in each week and you could be the following weeks blog feature.
Heres how you can join in with Collaboration Women Wednesday:
  • Link up your blog name and URL to your Women Wednesday blog post using the McKLinky below (you only need to add on one blog to be seen on all of the McKLinky blog roll’s) Please note that it’s for blogs only and not links to your websites or shops.
  • Follow our Creation|Collaboration blog and the hostesses listed in the first 3 slots.
  • Grab our Women Wednesday button and feature it on your blog or Women Wednesday blog post.
  • Follow and comment saying you’re from Women Wednesday on as many blogs as you likes listed in the McKlinky box.
  • Follow back any new followers from Women Wednesday!

Turn Your Creative Skill into A Business (Part 1)

Artist and workshop leader Amelia Critchlow has turned her art into a business.  She has very kindly agreed to share the ideas and strategies that have worked for her, so over to you, Amelia!

Returning to art a few years back – I always had a yearning to study art – and finally honouring that calling has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am mother to two children: one teenager and one seven year old who has special needs and only myself at home working and parenting. I have a lovely partner, but we don’t live together.

This year I have fully committed to making my passions my income streams too.

Whilst doing my degree in art, I also took a teaching qualification to become an art tutor and workshop leader, and after having spent time teaching, finally decided to write and run my own on-line art course, geared toward those desiring to fulfil their creativity or reach their creative potential, and parents who can’t always afford to go ‘out’ to art classes because of childcare or financial constraints (or those who lack of confidence artistically).

The experimental art e-course was launched this year as an accompaniment to my already existing art practice and website. I added a blog to my website last year too which I feel has been key to creating a successful on-line creative business.

You might benefit from sitting back with a nice glass or cup of something and a notebook to hand – I am always one for ‘capturing’ ideas when they pop into my head!

Here goes with my ‘top 20’ list:

  1. Confidence: confidence is key. How you get that confidence will be down to you. It may be studying a little more to get that level of confidence you need, or develop your skill. It may be having a show, or just telling some-one your idea, but only you will know when you ‘feel’ ready.
  2. Write out or collage your dream work scenario, and how a working day would look like and feel – revel in that feeling. Clear intentions are crucial
  3. Step past the fear and make a personal commitment to your art
  4. Take it seriously – if you don’t take you and your creative business idea seriously, no-one else will either (they will forever think it’s a whimsical ‘easy’ hobby – it isn’t!)
  5. Carve out time dedicated to pursuing your dream job – an hour an evening/week, an afternoon when kids are at nursery/school. LEAVE the housework whilst you get going on this
  6. Buy yourself some time: if money is an issue save up enough money to live on for a few months without having to do any other work and ‘buy’ yourself some time to launch your business (I did this by saving up, getting some-one to cover my other job, and taking a cut in income). Or work part time and cultivate your own business in the evenings (I no longer watch TV as I prefer to do my own art related work)
  7. Research: research those who are making it ‘work’ in your eyes. look at their websites, research their CV’s and/or ask them out to lunch to pick their brains – I did this and it was the best research and fun day out too! I grabbed ideas from this book: The Four Hour Work Week.
  8. Keep an ‘ideas’ book with you at all times, starting from NOW. I sleep with a notebook next to my bed, and I carry a notebook in my handbag, you never know when you will read, see, hear or get an idea for your art or business
  9. List out your current resources: think of all the things you have right now that you can use to start up that cost you nothing: the web (website, blog or network forums), people, your own hands/voice/personality, printer, phone, computer, camera, knowledge, skill, pen, paper, ideas etc
  10. Action: action is so key to starting off. One action always leads to another one. The minute I graduated from my art degree I applied to do an open house art show (at home) with my local borough. I didn’t think. I filled in the form, paid the cheque and made art for a few months. I was so nervous, but so glad I did it. Doing leads to new ‘happenings’: I met people, got invited to participate in shows, sold work and more. Other actions: start a blog or website. (My art website is with www.clikpic.com and my blog with www.blogspot.com the first is cheap, the other is free). Have a launch party at home, send an editorial to a magazine, make enough stock for an etsy shop: www.etsy.com

Amelia continues with Turn Your Creative Skill Into a Business in Part 2.