Planning For A Great Year

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As we race towards the end of the year, I always think that this is a great time to review what you have achieved so far, and to plan for 2017.

Planning for a great year takes structure, and not just the odd to-do-list. This is more about looking at what you want to achieve, and setting those points as markers for how the rest of the year will be structured.

I explain how to do this in the podcast that you can listen to below.

I still use to-do-lists (I know they can be addictive!), but if the major events aren’t planned out, it makes it hard for you to know when you need help, support or finance to get the project done. It is also crucial to make sure that you have given yourself enough time to complete the project.

Too often we think that we can achieve something in a certain time frame, and then life gets in the way. Make sure you build in contingency planning, both in terms of time and money, in case something goes wrong. It is better not to need it, than to wish you had it!

A challenge for you

At the end of the podcast I talk about a challenge for you to plan your own year ahead. Here are some of the key things you need to think about:

  • Do you know the deadlines for your project?
  • Do you have all the people you need to help you?
  • Have you got finance in place for the project?
  • If you don’t have finance in place, have you planned how and when you will need it?
  • Are there press and PR moments that you need to plot out for the project? (Remember that some magazines have 3 months lead times!)
  • Do you have support plotted out for the year, so that you are able to achieve what you need?
  • Have you plotted out holidays and fun times with family and friends? It is so important to take breaks so that you have the energy to go back and finish the project.
  • Have you plotted out points in the year to review your progress? By making moments to review, you can see if something is working or not, and whether you should continue with it or try something else.

Above all have fun with this. Things are flexible, and can be changed as we go along. Unless we know what the big challenges are, we can’t prepare for them. It might mean that you only focus on one big thing a year rather than several, but it is better to have achieved one thing, than to fail at several.

Let me know in the comments below what you are going to aim for next year. Is there any help that you need with it? 

Going Pro

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Going pro is all a matter of belief and confidence in the work that you are producing. Obviously if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it! So I’ve recorded a podcast to talk you through real things that you can do to turn pro.

Often it is about how you present yourself and your work. From the way that you handle clients, right down to the way that you communicate in emails and on phone calls. Over the years I have seen people’s work that is of a professional standard fail, as they haven’t taken into consideration the other areas of their career that they need to have a professional attitude towards.

You can hear about what you need to think about in the podcast below, and I set you a challenge to help you review your own career and work right now, and what you can do to improve on it.

The best way to start is to look at what you do right now. Think of the areas that your work, you and clients or commissions interact. Look at the list below and think about what areas you can improve on.

The list (do add your own)

  • Emails- How are you writing them? Is it in a formal or friendly voice. Choose what feels right for you and your industry.
  • Telephones- Is your answer machine message clear and concise? When you leave a message, do you repeat your phone number twice, so that the person at the other end has time to write it down? When you talk to someone on a call, are you friendly and helpful, or shy, blunt and uncomfortable? These are things you can work on.
  • Website- Even if it is one page, do you have a website? When people are looking at your work, or thinking about hiring you, a website gives them proof that you are professional. It is also a way for new clients to find you. Don’t under estimate how important it is to have one.
  • Contracts & Agreements- do you use these for every bit of work, no matter how large or small? They not only give you protection, but they also help you come across as professional and serious about your career and work.
  • Model & location agreements- if you work as an artist, filmmaker or photographer, this is something that you should think about. I talk more about it in the podcast.
  • Delivery notes- if you are sending work, this helps with your own filing, but it also makes you look more professional to the client.

There are lots of other things that you can add to the list. The key is to think what your competitors or heroes are doing, and how you can appear as professional as them. Chat with your friends as you might be able to share legal costs to produce contracts. Anything to help you get started on the road to being professional has to start with you.

Often turning pro is a self belief  in you yourself and your work. Doubt never goes away, but how you manage it can be the difference between you succeeding or giving up before you have climbed that hill.

I’ve set you a challenge in the podcast to review your own professional work and attitude. Let me know in the comments what things you are going to change, and any tips you have to offer. 

Mastermind your career

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When you are starting out and building your career, it is important that you have support from your peers. They are on the same journey as you, and understand the fears, doubts and needs that you have.

We often seek out those who are ahead of us, such as mentors or coaches without seeing the value in those walking next to us on the career path.

I have created a FREE download  explaining how you can find your own accountability partners and  form your own Mastermind groups.

Having someone to support you when you are building something new, or trying to make a break through, can really help you to keep focussed. Sometimes things go wrong, and that is when it is also so beneficial to have a support network.

In our creative careers we will face many rejections and set backs. Making sure that there is a safety net and support, will help you to deal with it, learn from it, and move on.

You can download the help sheet here: CLICK

In the comments below let me know what you would like from an accountability partner or mastermind group. It is something that we are looking at creating in the future, and I would love to hear your thoughts about it. 

Pricing your goods & services

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Pricing your goods as a creative can seem like a daunting task. There is no guide to follow and rarely an industry standard pricing list. This can make it seem like some sort of alchemy calculation, especially when you are starting out.

Pricing is one of the subjects I get asked the most about by CWI members, creative start-ups, and University students. It brings out the most amount of panic and anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This week’s podcast is all about how to work out what your worth is, and how that then affects your pricing structure. You can listen to it below.

Once you have worked out your worth (that is what you as an individual needs to keep the lifestyle you already have- nothing to do with your work finance) you can start to look at all of the other elements that you need to think about when you price your goods and services.

Pricing goods

Pricing goods is slightly easier than pricing services- so let’s start here. You know that there is a fixed cost to making something. You know how much it cost in materials and in your time, but there are other things that you need to think about as well.

  1. If you make a piece of work in a studio you need to take in the costs of rent, heat etc as well.
  2. When you work out your hourly rate- does it make it feasible to sell that piece of work to the market you are currently talking to? Or do you need to look elsewhere?
  3. Making one of something will always be more expensive- is there a way to make multiples or have your work manufactured?
  4. If you are selling your work through galleries they often take 50%. Have you added that to your costs?
  5. Can you look at licensing your work to make more profit? This isn’t for everyone, but it might help when you are starting out and trying to build a name for yourself.
  6. Have you added aspirational value?

Aspirational value

Aspirational value is the alchemy element of your work. It is one of the hardest things to price for and it can take time to build it into your work. You’ll see plenty of artists raise their prices as they go along, rather than jumping straight into a high value piece.

The key is to look at the people you admire and the kind of career you want to model yourself on. How have they priced their work over the years? Do they have their work for sale in limited places or have they licensed it for all sorts of things? This will make a difference to the value of the pieces.

Pricing services

Pricing services is slightly harder to do. It isn’t as if you buy them off the shelf at the local store, but you can compare yourself to other service providers doing the same thing in your area.

If you are running workshops it helps to look at what your competitors are charging. Remember to think about who they actually are though. Often councils or Government funded workshops and classes are heavily subsidised, so you need to think why having you as the training makes them more valuable.

It might be that you have a wealth of experience, or fantastic contacts that you can share. Or that you have been on the same journey as the people you are teaching, so you understand how they are feeling. Or you are so specialist at what you do, they can’t find it anywhere else. All of this adds value.

When you look at your pricing remember these things as well:

  1. Your travel time and mileage to and from the venue.
  2. The cost of hiring the space, or if it is at your studio- remember to add the cost of rent, heating etc for that period of time.
  3. Preparation time- this is one that most people forget to add, but it is part of the cost as you are still working when you are preparing.
  4. Post time- as above, you might have to sort things out after the event. All of that time and work counts towards the cost of the workshop.
  5. Any materials that you will use or even just photocopies of worksheets.
  6. Any refreshments.
  7. Press and marketing materials- even you posting on social media is your time!

There are many other things that you might now realise you need to add to the cost. You need to think of everything that you use or need, to create and complete the workshops. Your time before, during and after, counts towards it as well.

Final thoughts

Pricing is something that you need to test and review. It might mean that the market you were hoping to enter is now unable to afford your goods and services, so your entire customer base changes. This will then affect your marketing, branding etc.

At the end of the podcast I share ways that you can find out how to price your goods and services when you have no idea where to start.

Let me know in the comments below what you find so hard about pricing your goods and services. 

If you still find this hard, there is an online Creative Business course coming up in 2017. To be the first to sign up for it at the early bird rate, let me know that you are interested by emailing me at:

Philiy@CreativeWomenInternational.com

Giving back can help your career

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When you start out on a creative career, the last thing that you are probably thinking about is giving something back. What if I was to tell you that there is a great benefit to thinking about giving something back the moment you begin your career?

You might think I’m crazy when you are worrying about the finances and how you are going to make the rent. But actively building this into your career plan can actually help you get ahead.

When we try to help others, they in turn will pass it on and help those coming up through the ranks. Obviously there are going to be a few who take things without giving back, but if we all helped each other up the career ladder, rather than trying to climb over each other we would have a stronger and more stable career.

Some people are great at giving back, but often do it at the detriment to their own success. There is no point cutting your own arm off, if that stops you being able to help more people with two! Sometimes we can’t do everything we believe in straight away, but having an idea of what we plan to do, will enable up to structure our career around it.

In this podcast I explain why it is so important to do this, and I have set you a challenge to complete this week to give something back yourself.

Continue reading “Giving back can help your career”

Planning for success

Planning for success

We plan for a journey or what we want to do on our holidays, but we rarely plan for success.

When we see our competitors or people we admire having success we forget about all of the private sacrifices it took to get there. Or the years of slog and failure before they had a success. all too often we compare our beginning to someone’s middle. As the saying goes “It is amazing how many years it takes to have an overnight success!”

If we don’t plan for success we are going to end up unfocused and treading on the spot. If we don’t have a goal or dream to aim for, how do we know if we have made any process towards it, or had any small successes on the way?

In this podcast I talk about why it is so important to plan for success, how to do it with out feeling overwhelmed, and how to use the tools and contacts you already have, before you go hunting for for new ones.

New shiny things are tempting, but they can move you off the path to success. I talk about how you have everything you need right now and how to make the most of it.

Continue reading “Planning for success”

How to deal with negative feedback

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At some point in your creative career you will be the giver or receiver of negative feedback. Understanding the science behind how your brain deals with it, can make the difference between whether you take the feedback as a negative or positive experience.

We all need feedback. If we never receive any, we never know what we need to do to improve or move forward with our work and career.

Over the course of my career I have been on the receiving end of negative feedback, and I have had to give it to my employees as well. There is an art to receiving and giving feedback which is what I talk about in this week’s podcast.

Continue reading “How to deal with negative feedback”

Leaving things behind

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Sometimes it is beneficial to leave things behind. This isn’t something that we talk about very often. We tend to be all about the looking forward, rather than behind. But I want you to change that pattern for a moment…let me explain why.

As children we are taught to eat everything on our plates, to finish the book we started, and to complete the work we began. What if as adults we stopped thinking that we always had to finish everything?

Sometimes we need to take a moment to see how far we have come and what we have achieved already. It might be that the project we are working on has already run its course, and it is time to drop it- and yes that means before it is finished! Or the book we started, but are actually hating, is ok to donate to the charity shop. It’s ok to stop if it is better for you than completing it.

In this week’s podcast I explain why it is important for our creative careers to sometimes leave things behind. I talk about the benefits of doing it, and I set you a personal challenge to look at your own career in this way.

Continue reading “Leaving things behind”

Becoming a furniture designer

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I have had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Farmer, designer and maker of Luno furniture with her husband, Dan Knowles, in Los Angeles. I’m pretty obsessed with their work. Not only have they added beautiful speakers to the furniture, but there is room for a Whiskey bar inside as well. Ticking all of my boxes! You can see more of their amazing creations on their website: http://www.iamluno.com

Jennifer was great to interview and she spoke candidly about the struggles and the wins along the way. She began her career in the music industry in LA before discovering her love of furniture renovation, and with her husband’s sound engineering skills Luno was born.

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Sometimes we feel like we need everything in place before we start. Jennifer explains that sometimes it takes a jump into the unknown to get going and figuring it out on the way down. Her bravery is inspiring to me and I hope she encourages you to make a leap in your own creative career.

You can listen to the whole interview here:

What do you feel is holding you back in your creative career? What one thing would you do if you could take the fear away? Share your story in the comments below.

Get a grip on copyright

 

Be original

Getting a grip on copyright can be one of the greatest tools in your creative kit. I have met so many creatives who don’t understand copyright law, and this so often puts them at a disadvantage with their clients.

I have studied copyright law, but it does change quite often, so it is important for you to check what the latest laws are in your country. Most countries follow the same copy rights laws, apart from China. In this article I am going to talk about the UK copyright laws.

Copyright law doesn’t have to be scary. I’m going to talk you through a few basics, and explain a few exceptions to the rules. This should be enough to empower you to make the right decisions when selling your work or taking on a commission or employment.

In the podcast below I talk through the basic principles of copyright law, how it can make you money and how to explain to your clients what your rights are.

Here are the basics

  1. As a creative, when you produce a piece of work, whether it is a painting, photograph or writing, you own the copyright.
  2. You don’t need to register your work, for you to own the copyright to it. In the states and the UK you can register your work to prove that you own the copyright, but this isn’t a requirement.https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/register/
  3. You can add the copyright symbol © at the bottom of your website or work, but again it isn’t a requirement. I like to add it to remind people to respect my copyright.
  4. If you sell your work (like a painting or photograph) you retain the copyright. Even if the work is a portrait of the client, you have the rights to the copyright. They have no right to make copies of the work, whether they sell them or not.You can sell them the copyright- but I’ll cover this later on.

Exceptions to the rules

There will always be some exceptions to the rules, so it is important that you check with your own country’s law as to what the exceptions are. They also change regularly, so it is important to make sure that you are up to date with your knowledge.

Continue reading “Get a grip on copyright”