(After you’ve read 3 of my blog posts that makes us friends right?!)
Lets dive right in shall we? Here we go…
Last year it was a relatively easy decision to go self-employed. I had the perfect recipe to know that I 1. couldn’t go on the way that I was for much longer or 2. it’s now or never;
- I wasn’t enjoying the job I was doing,
- I was still living at home with my mum,
- I didn’t have enough time to put everything I had into my ceramics.
Therefore, it felt like a natural decision to make without having to consider too many risk factors. I do feel as though I have prioritised my career over starting a family, but then again, if I waited till after I had started a family, there would be added pressures. This made the decision easier because I knew that if I don’t do it now, I may never be able to make my hobby my career, which would’ve been the biggest risk of all.
The fact you’re thinking about making your hobby your full-time job speaks volumes already. It shows you have the passion to drive it and you will want to make it a success.
Doing the ground work while you’re getting monthly pay checks would be my one piece of advice. You can prep everything ready to go without the ‘I have 1000000001 things I should be doing’ feeling. These things could include;
- Meeting up with Katy
- Get your accounts ready to just pop the information into it.
- Setting up your brand
- Sorting out your social media platforms
- Getting yourself an Etsy shop
- Talking to a business advisor
- Listen to podcasts/audiobooks
Yep a whole section just on Katy just because she’s been incredibly helpful and supportive. Katy is one of my sister’s school friends who is an all rounder when it comes to how you should present yourself online (I know, handy right?!). She used to work for Etsy UK and is currently working in social and marketing at West Elm UK. We had a meeting just as I started self-employment. You can see the change in my instagram before and after we met.
Before our meeting on the left and after on the right (after the middle picture at the bottom…yep, thats my sister!). We spoke about everything, which was amazing, because at that point my brain was a scrambled mess and it was great to have someone to help me start my journey on the right path. Some of the things we spoke about were;
- Tidy desk, tidy mind – this couldn’t be more accurate
- Colour palettes
etc….. you get the picture!
Katy emailed me a summary of everything we spoke about too which was great. It meant that I had a set of concise notes that I could keep referring back to when it was necessary without having to go through pages and pages. I think you get how helpful this meeting was, so I won’t go on anymore! I couldn’t recommend a consultancy with Katy enough, you can reach her here.
I personally didn’t do this until a month into working for myself, I just didn’t really believe it would take as long as it did. I started off using a spreadsheet in excel which was great because I could do all the calculations I needed to in there. I felt it wasn’t easy to use and it took time to readjust the calculations in the spreadsheet, so I decided to start using Wave. This probably isn’t the time to go into it in depth, but I found this website a lot easier to use as it works out the calculations and you can look at different time periods in just a few clicks. I am extremely lucky that I had my sister’s boyfriend to set it up for me. This is something I would’ve preferred to do before I had started, just so it was there from the beginning.
I decided to call my brand FICH ceramics in November 2016, as soon as I started selling. This makes your brand stronger and means you can get all of your marketing tools all ready to go when you start selling properly. I have a business card, stickers and a stamp included in my branding. There is a lot to do to make sure your branding is strong and making it flow is so important. Before you start selling online I would recommend making sure it’s perfect, particularly when you’re packaging products. There are many different examples of packaging which I have posted on my branding Pinterest board.
If you’re able to, you want to work on your social media platforms before you take the plunge as this can really help your reputation. You want to make it as easy as you can to make the transition. Putting time into your platforms before you start, will mean it’ll be more natural to carry it on rather than having to start from scratch and trying to work it into your life rather than it already being there. I also think it’s great to have photos pre and post full-time because you will see a difference when you look back on it.
I will be talking about Etsy in a future post so I will only briefly go over it now. But let’s just say this, Etsy is a really good way of getting yourself out there. It connects you to people who probably wouldn’t have come across your work in another way. You only have to pay 20p per listing and then they take 4% after its sold so it’s worth just being on there. It’s not only direct customers that find you but I have had shops contact me through there too. While your hobby is still your hobby it’s worth getting yourself on there, just to get you going. I found that it took a while to get the first sale because people can see that you haven’t sold anything and you haven’t got any reviews, as a result, they’re being the guinea pig. So doing it now will mean you’re more likely to get your first sale when it’s still a hobby which will put less pressure on yourself when you’ve gone full time. It’ll also mean your Etsy shop will be in a better position for when you have taken the plunge.
Before you’ve opened your online shop, make sure you order everything you need for packaging. The most annoying thing is not having what you need in front of you these are the bits I need just as a guide;
- Boxes x 2
- Tissue paper
- Bubble wrap
- Wide clear collotype
- Brown wrapping paper
- Small white record cards
Yup, there’s a lot. Also takes me an hour to wrap each parcel, oh the joys of selling ceramics.
A month into going full-time I went to a meeting with a business advisor which was completely and utterly… FREE! I know right?! It’s on the GOV website but it’s done through your local council here’s the link to Oxfordshire’s section. You answer a few questions about yourself, fill in what you’d like to know and then they give you a report at the end reiterating what you’ve spoken about at the meeting, so you don’t even have to make notes! Looking back, I think I mainly went to see whether Dom would just laugh me out of the door and tell me it was a stupid idea, but he didn’t. He was really kind and talked me through what I needed to do – at this point my Instagram wasn’t great so he spoke to me about the importance of lifestyle photography and got me to compare a couple of photos like these;
I know which chairs I’d be more likely to buy, just because of their surroundings.
Because of the nature of what I do, listening to things is much easier than trying to find time to read. It’s the best feeling when you’ve found a really good podcast to listen to when you’re throwing (If you need recommendations, hit me up, I’ve got tonnes of goodens!).
I found that I needed to listen to audiobooks to make my brain go into self-employment mode. I had absolutely no idea what it would be like to run my own business so listening to these REALLY helped. I’m going to recommend 2 of my faves, because otherwise I’d have to do a whole other blog post just for books!
(I have put a link in the titles to take you to their books on Amazon)
I really enjoyed this book, mainly for the reason that she’s normal… It may sound weird but she says things that made me think “Oh thank goodness, she’s done that too!” One of the things that pops into my mind (baring in mind I listened to this book a year ago, so its a wonder how I still remember anything) is that she avoided writing the book for years for no other excuse than because she couldn’t be bothered to write it. It just made me realise it’s okay that I’m not super productive or on task all of the time. Sometimes it’s just giving yourself that break to understand you’re not bad because you haven’t got the same stamina as a kid at a play park (well at anything really…).
This book is a great way to explore your brand, what it means to you and how you want it to affect others. Simon also uses real brands to explain what he means, it’s also interesting to learn why certain brands do particular things in order to get sales/attention. Each day you’re set a task to complete, some take a day and others no more than a couple of hours. This is why I recommend listening to it before you start on your journey because I definitely wouldn’t feel as though I could put in as many hours as I did. One of the tasks was to write to your future self at different times. So a couple of sentences in the letter could be; “I’m so proud of you for achieving this” or “You’ll be coming up to a testing time but you’ve gone through so much so far”. Mine was a couple of pages of my notebook long, it’ll be interesting to have a read of it now to see if anything has come true.
Well, that’s me done for another week!
It’ll be great to hear your feedback. I’d love to hear your opinions on the books I’ve recommended or if you have your own recommendations? Comment below or feel free to email me at info@FICHceramics.com. You can read my previous posts here or here. Check out my website at www.FICHceramics.com.
Thank you for reading my rambles, I really hope they were useful!