This weekend I spent my time networking, chatting, presenting and generally having the best time at the Outlaw Craft Fair in Cornwall. I was really honoured to be asked to host an evening for the exhibitors at the end of their first day, alongside Poppy Treffry and Kirsten Edwards - two incredibly inspirational women. I had been so excited about this weekend, but as soon as it arrived I was a quivering mess!! I like to think that I am now quite experienced at public speaking, as I present workshops on pretty much a weekly basis, but this was a completely different level. To say I was out of my comfort zone is a massive understatement!!
The weekend itself was amazing. I had a smile on my face as soon as I walked in the door and it didn't leave for the duration of the weekend. What a room - full of a bunch of lovely, talented creatives and definitely what I call my happy place.
Judi & Kirsty (organisers of Outlaw) asked me to talk a little about the 'business' side of running a creative business and then I had the privilege of interviewing Poppy, before Kirsten spoke from the side of a buyer, having years of experience working in creative retail. I'd prepped, I really had, but you know when you're having an out of body experience, your hands are shaking and you keep forgetting what you are talking about?? Well, yep, that was me! I was told I came across well, but I'm sure I missed so much out that I should have said! So I thought I would summarise what I wanted to say here in case you were interested in what I spoke about - or you were there and didn't understand a word of what I was saying!!
So, grab yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and have a read...
I recently went to a networking evening and the keynote speaker (a young musician who’d been through a tough time) spoke about authenticity and the importance of it in your online marketing. I hear it a lot. I talk of it a lot. More and more, especially at the moment I am feeling the need to be it, and to be surrounded by it.
I was also reminded of it during my few days away with the marvellous Helen from Guilty Mothers Club. She helped me see through the gloss and polish, but also the mundane and generic, and delve into what is authentic to me.
I even wrote recently about it in my Keeping it Real blog, but I guess I hadn't fully listened to my own advice... well, not on social media anyway. I do believe that here I am truly me, but all over the wonderful online platforms that I find myself in, well that's a different story.
*warning - slight swears below*
I’m reading numerous blog posts at the moment about the new year – or rather the new academic year. There have been some brilliant pieces about how this time of year is a time to make plans, reassess your business, start afresh with renewed energy and structure the next few months in an exciting and energetic way.
I love September. I love this time of year, when the light changes and the colours alter and everything becomes a little ‘crisper’ – the smells as I walk through the woods are ones of anticipation and I can almost see the season shifting in front of my eyes. I know some see the end of summer with sadness, but I feel the opposite. I think more than any other month, September has that power to really make me feel that everything has potential, and it helps me focus.
We’re over half way through the Summer holidays and I’m not actually quite sure how I’ve made it this far! I’ve found this year more of a struggle than most, and I know I’m not alone in that.
I’m married to a teacher so in theory I should have loads of spare time to work during the holidays but bizarrely it hasn’t really felt like that. We’ve both had to take on second jobs during the last few weeks for financial reasons, he’s in the final month of writing a book (deadline is looming), we’ve got a 15 year old daughter who requires us to be her taxi on a daily basis (what is it with teenage social lives?!) and a son who would rather be on the Xbox all day than do anything else so we need to manage that diplomatically and calmly...! We’ve dog sat, child-minded and had family and friends come and stay. I’ve had to prep and deliver workshops and stay on top of emails and calls. And we live in a small house with just one open plan living space so we’re all on top of each other. It’s been loud, messy and chaotic.
There’s no space – in my house or in my head. Is there ever any time for us to take care of ourselves within all the juggling?
How do you all do it?
How open are you with regards to your business? By that I mean the blogging, the online platforms, what you put out there? Are you all ‘take me as I am’ or are you more ‘must retain professional at all times’?
It’s a tricky dilemma when you are running your own creative business. Do you want to show the warts and all or do you want to give a glossy overview of what you do?
I get asked quite a bit about best ways to market yourself online and I do talk a lot about ‘telling your story’ and ‘finding your voice’ but what does that voice have to sound like?
It’s going to be different for every one of us, and of course there are a few things you have to figure out before you start talking to your followers online, but it’s important to get that voice right.
I spoke quite candidly recently in a blog post about my struggles in direction, and I didn’t know initially whether to share this with my readers and followers, but after a while I knew I had to. After all, what that voice has to be, how you talk, is all about authenticity.
Why do we find it so hard to take our own advice? I’m so good at dishing it out to others, but not so good at taking it.
Something I’m trying to learn at the moment is based on a podcast I listened to a few weeks ago (did I tell you I’m a recent convert to podcasts?? Yes, I know I’m behind the times but I am literally loving them right now...)
So this podcast (Melissa Griffin interviewing Danielle LaPorte) spoke about being your own guru. And I’ve since been hearing a similar message in so many different places (don’t you just love serendipity?) so I’ve been looking into this a little bit more.
It’s good to take advice from others. It’s essential to talk through things with your friends, or hire a mentor if you need one. There are experts who deal in things that you may struggle with, so it’s hugely beneficial to learn from them. But above all, it’s so important to listen to yourself. What is your gut telling you?
I could start this blog post in so many different ways, each one leading to the same conclusion and I’ve been unsure how to begin it. I didn’t write a post last week and I didn’t write one yesterday (my weekly blog posts go out every Wednesday) and I think there are probably a number of reasons for that. I’ve allowed myself the break, but also I haven’t been in the right headspace to write anyway – so many things whirring around.
I’m also having crazy dreams at the moment. Last night I dreamt I had to get the train to London to pick up my car, and I was walking with my phone showing me the way to get to the train station, but the sat nav broke and I didn’t know where I was going, or how long it was going to take me, or why my car was even in London when I was somewhere completely different! I woke up, told my husband and he said; ‘hmmm, you’re lost, you don’t know where you’re going, or how to get there – what could this possibly mean?’ He was being sarcastic of course, and as ever is very intuitive of why I am feeling the way I am.
So maybe this is where I begin my post…
Over the last few weeks I’ve been falling a little bit in love with Instagram stories. You may be aware of them, you may already be using them, or you may not have the first idea of where to start, so I thought I’d do a little introduction to them for those of you who want to know more.
My favourite kind of stories are the autobiographical ones, the ones where the user is chatting away to me, where I find out more about what they’ve been up to, new products and the like. My most favourite is Chambers & Beau – I love how Amy connects with her audience and lets you have a little insight into her day. She’s funny and engaging and shares what she’s been making to. Just fab.
You can find Instagram stories all along the top of your newsfeed. Each circle will be surrounded by a pink border, and once you click on that story you will be taken to 20 second snippets of that users day. They can be moving videos, chat, still images or a boomerang, but each one only lasts 24 hours from when it is first published.
Thank you all for your suggestions a few weeks back when I asked for your help. I have been conscious for a while now that many of you can’t make it to our events as you are limited with distance, time or children. It’s a shame as the ‘in the flesh’ workshops and networking can give you so much, but I also appreciate it’s difficult for many of you who struggle with groups of strangers in an unfamiliar environment.
So, one of my goals for this year was to create some online workshops. Since I have been doing the digital marketing workshops at Exeter Phoenix and Colliton Barton, this has proved even more of a goal as I have had so many of you emailing me to say you can’t make them and when will I be doing them again!
Today is on a par with the night before Christmas for me. My favourite weekend of the year is almost upon us, and boy, it couldn’t come at a better time!
I don’t want to sound negative, but the last few weeks have had an overwhelming feeling of foreboding. The news hasn’t been all that positive – political debates and terrorist attacks are making us feel afraid. Businesses I work with are feeling run down and burnt out. Friends are struggling with many different issues. I’ve had to cancel workshops – numbers are down on events and some of the passion felt in recent months seems to have disappeared. I know I’m not alone when I say things are pretty tough right now for many of us.
So, it’s the perfect time for creatives, artists and families to come together to celebrate craftsmanship in all its forms. Yep – it’s The Contemporary Craft Festival, and I can’t bloody wait!
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