Running a handmade business is not for the faint of heart! The journey of creating and selling your handmade work can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also feel scary, overwhelming and uncomfortable.
Author and speaker, Mastin Kipp once said that your business is your therapy. Creating and running a handmade business is a lot of work and often times all your insecurities and unhealed stuff will come up. What you think and how you feel about yourself has a profound impact on your business and your ability to work through things when things get hard.
If you’re a craft business owner who feels stuck and overwhelmed at times, let’s go over how you can work on getting unstuck so you can keep moving and growing your business.
You’re scared to put yourself out there
I get it. Putting yourself out there can feel weird and uncomfortable. Maybe you don’t want to seem too showy or come off like a sleazy car salesman who’s like “what can I do to get you in that car today?” But you’re not a sleazy car salesman. You’re an amazing, talented artist who deserves to show the world what awesome stuff you’re making AND get paid for it!
When it comes to marketing your business, remember that it’s not about you. It’s about how what you make and how it impacts the life of another person’s.
Let’s say for instance you make and sell hand lotion. How would this help someone in their life?
- It makes their hands feel hydrated and smooth
- It makes their hand smell good
- The essential oils and scents in your lotion help them feel more relaxed and calm
- They’re not as self-conscious about their painfully, cracked, dry hands
- Their nails and cuticles have become stronger and healthier
In the example above, think about how many people need a good hand lotion to heal their dry hands. Think about the long term impact of what using your product can mean for them.
What if a person who had dry hands was really self-conscious about them and didn’t like holding hands with their SO? Then after they started using your lotion, their hands started to feel better. As a result, they were more open to holding hands with their SO and in doing so, their SO was much more happy! What if the lotion you’re making actually improved someone’s relationship? How cool would that be???
The next time you’re scared to put yourself out there, think about how your work makes a difference in someone else’s life. You may think you just create hats, jewelry or hair scrunchies, but your impact can go pretty far if you think about the bigger picture.
You have a gift that needs to be shared with the world and that means show up for your customers who need your work.
You’re trying to do it all on your own
There are so many things to learn when running your business whether it’s customer service, marketing, copywriting, photography and so on. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and there are certain things that are frustrating or time consuming for you to handle, get support!
Getting support whether it’s in your business, personal life or both, it can be a total life saver. If you struggle with social media or need help creating a website, see if you can hire someone to help you out or take over these responsibilities. If things at home are overwhelming you, see if your family or a friend can help pitch in whether it’s walking your dog a few days a week or having someone watch your kids for a few hours so you can work on your business.
As small business owners, we often strive to do everything ourselves because we often don’t want to give up control, burden others with responsibilities or look like we don’t know what we’re doing. On the flip side, all of that comes at a price like neglecting our health, our relationships and other areas of our lives.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a form of self-care because the more you do things to take care of yourself, the more you can show up for those in your life and your business without feeling burnt out.
Your to-do list is too long
I’m sure you have a long list of things to do in your business (or personal life), but there’s only so much time each day (and week) to do them. Managing your priorities is something you have to learn to do when running a business because there’s too much to do.
I watched a video recently where The Bullet Journal creator, Ryder Carroll talked about the 4 questions he asks himself as to whether or not to keep a task that’s incomplete on his to-do list. He asks himself:
- Is it vital?
- Does it matter? (To you or to someone else)
- Will there be any consequences if I don’t do this?
If you answer no to all these questions, he then says to ask yourself, "Then why are you doing it?"
These 4 questions are a good way to weed out distractions and focus on what really needs to get done. Keep these questions handy, especially if you feel overwhelmed by your to-do lists.
You’re scared to charge more for your work
Just because you’re a maker, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get paid for your work. And get paid fairly too!
Money is a touchy subject because there is still this idea that you can’t earn a good living from your art. You may have had someone in your life who said “You can’t earn money form your art! You should get a REAL job instead.”
Often times people think artist are just having fun and not doing any real work. But they don’t see that you too had to spend time (let’s say years) learning to perfect your craft. They don’t see how much money you’ve invested into your work to create it. They also might not be aware of what the process is to even create one of your pieces too. They just see the end product and think you should be charging whatever price they have in their head.
You have a right to get paid for your handmade products and you can’t get other people to value you or your work until you start valuing yourself.
Customers say your work is too expensive are not your customer. Value is subjective and not everyone will see your value. But the right people who are your target audience will and will be happy to pay your prices.
If you think about it, brands like Hermès and Prada are marketing to certain type of customer who want a luxury product and doesn’t have a problem paying $2,000+ for a single handbag. Would a customer who primarily shops at Walmart or Target want to spend that much on a bag? Probably not. They’ll likely balk at the price and say it’s crazy expensive. But Hermès and Prada don’t care because that person isn’t their target audience.
While you might not be Hermès or Prada, know that there are people out there who will purchase your work, even if you raise your prices to something that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Communicate the value of your work through your photos, your descriptions and your marketing. The more you’re able to educate people about your work, the more they’ll value your work and purchase from you.
You’re striving for perfection
Perfection kills progress. It’s too easy to get caught up in wanting to have things be perfect, especially when you’re putting your work out into the world.
Many times we don’t want to look like we don’t know what we’re doing or that we’re inexperienced at something. Sometimes imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and holds us back from taking next step. We often want to have all the answers and all the right information before we do something. That may have worked back in school, it doesn’t work in the real world.
In the entrepreneur/small business owner world, you learn by doing. It means you take action, see what happens. Based on what happens, you will figure out what your next step is.
You may not know what you’re doing, but that’s okay. You will figure it out as you keep going. If taking action on something feels uncomfortable and scary, know the more you do it, the less uncomfortable and scary it will feel. Yes, you will make mistakes and mess up, but you’ll learn so much in the process!
Your mindset is what is going to carry you through the highs and lows of your journey as a craft business owner. You may doubt and question yourself. You may feel like you’re faking it and feel totally confused. And sometimes you may wonder if you should give up and just quit.
"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” - Steven Pressfield, author
I’m here to remind you that your art matters whether you believe it or not. Surround yourself with people who support you, your art and your business. These are the people who will remind you to keep going when things get hard and who will celebrate your successes no matter how big or small they may be.
Keep making and keep showing up there even when it’s scary and uncomfortable. The world needs you and your art!