I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on 2016, and contemplating goals for 2017. I was feeling a bit frustrated towards the end of 2016 because I felt I wasn’t getting much done on my Creating Craft business. I was seriously wondering why I was so unproductive, so I wrote up a retrospective on 2016, listing out all my accomplishments for the year. Holy Moly, there were a lot of them!
2016 Good Stuff
- Creating Craft
- Bought Blog Mastermind
- After multiple false starts, settled on a direction for the business
- Set up the mechanics of my business: got my business license, DBA, etc.
- Figured out all the technical parts of setting up an email list, my Creating Craft website, etc.
- Developed the Creating Craft website (UI design, content) and wrote my first six or seven blog posts
- Surveyed my customers to see what most interested them
- Got my first coaching client!
- Settled on a strategy for my first product
- Got Master Your Craft published!
- Personally sold almost 400 books
- Got 15 five-star Amazon reviews for the book
- Gave a talk at SOFA Chicago
- Did a book signing at Convergence
- Taught at Complex Weavers Seminars for the first time
- Gave programs/book signings at the Central Coast Weavers and Black Sheep Handweavers
- Put a very complicated and difficult warp onto the loom
- Created a technically complex and emotionally challenging piece (Bipolar Prison) on my jacquard loom
- Wove a large, complex piece (Ode to Joy) in just 10 days
- Got my first weaving commission and finished it very successfully!
- Got inquiries about three other commissions
- Got my first piece into an art show
- Became the study group leader for the Complex Weavers Jacquard Study Group
- Became President of the Board at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
- Came up to speed on nonprofit board requirements
- Started contracting with Firehorse Consulting
- Made 136 pounds of chocolates and raised over $5K for the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
- Researched what would be needed to become a “serious” artist and talked to many more experienced artists.
But you’ll notice that there’s stuff going on on four or five fronts. No wonder the business was languishing!
Themes for 2016
Here are the themes I found while reflecting on 2016:
- A lot of questions about personal direction. Do I want to be an artist? Do I want to make a career change/look for another job? Do I want to start a business?
- A lot of learning about unfamiliar roles:
- Starting an online business
- Being a serious artist – what it takes and connections, etc. to get me there
- Becoming President of a nonprofit Board
- Lots of commitments in different directions, making it difficult to make progress in any single area:
- Creating Craft business
- Book launch and publicity
- San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles Board duties
- Weaving commissions and other creative work
Overall, I’d say 2016 was a year of exploration, looking at many creative directions and experimenting with many different roles. A year of opening to new possibilities.
Goals for 2017
2017 needs to be different. While I’ve got enough money to go another year or so without income, I need to start working seriously on whatever professional route I choose. That means putting on hold, or putting entirely aside, many other possibilities. While the word for 2016 was EXPLORE, the word for 2017 needs to be FOCUS – distilling down and really working on one thing. That will be Creating Craft, for now.
I haven’t yet set detailed goals for Creating Craft. Ideally, I’d like to be making a full-time income by the end of the year. I recognize that is unlikely, so I have set myself a smaller, yet still ambitious target: $3,000/month by the end of 2017. To do that, I will have to write a lot more content and also do a lot more publicity. My goal is to get an e-book out in January, and to have an online class up and going by June. There will be a lot more concrete goals along the way, but those are the big ones.
(The e-book, for those interested, will actually be a series of four workbooks about how to find more time for creative work/use your studio time most effectively, finish complex projects, deliver projects with a deadline, and avoid getting over-committed.)
Those are big steps, with big learning curves at each step, and I expect this project/business will account for most of my personal growth in 2017.
The other big focus will be learning my duties as President of the Board at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. That is a huge responsibility, and there is much I need to learn and do.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be doing other creative work. In fact, I plan to do quite a bit of it! But I plan to keep my weaving relatively simple – stuff I can churn out without agonizing over each creative decision, or spending 20 hours translating from a drawing into weave structures. So the art career will be on hold, in favor of a simpler line of scarves and shawls. My long-term goal is to find a way to create a line of scarves/shawls that are interesting to make, yet can be created quickly and profitably sold. That means making relatively simple projects, unlike my usual big, complex behemoths.
I’m also planning to do some relatively non-creative “infrastructure” projects – things that aren’t terribly interesting in themselves, but which set me up for later success. In particular, I’m planning to dye about 3200 samples using Procion MX fiber-reactive dyes – one set of 1600 samples on 20/2 mercerized cotton yarn, and another set of 1600 samples on silk broadcloth (fabric). The sample dyeing process is a pretty mechanical one – once the dyeing method has been developed and refined, it’s just a matter of repeating it over and over again until all the samples are done. (If anyone is interested in reading my sample-dyeing approach, I’ve posted the Google doc with my dyeing protocol here.)
So those are my 2017 goals. I hope it will be a productive year, and that I can accomplish everything. But the main theme for the year is FOCUS, so Creating Craft – and the intellectual and emotional energy required to drive it – will take priority over everything else.
And, for those of you patient enough to read through this entire screed, I offer this 2016 feline retrospective to brighten your day. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
Linda Morehouse says
In many ways, you remind me of myself! My interests are wide and varied. I often get started on something, then put it down to start another or finish one to meet a deadline. I swear that my to-do list will still be lengthy the day I die!
Occasionally, I have to stop and focus on one thing. And I am happy when I do that. I like to explore and master a topic. It gives me a very satisfied feeling.
It took me many years to accept my personal “style” and get comfortable with it. Whenever I start to be frustrated by what needs to get done, I know that I have started off in too many different directions. I then look at all the different topics and prioritize them. Sometimes the priority is time-related. Sometimes, it is significance-related. After I have done that, I break each project down into steps and schedule them. Finally, I feel in control again. And, of course, there is always the priority of making enough money to live!
You are an amazing example! Most of us would happily live with half your accomplishments!
Happy New Year!
Teena Tuenge says
If you wanted to dye skeins instead of fabric because they represent the actual yarns you will be using, but the mounting the samples is a lot of work,
have you considered weaving fabric from those yarns and then dyeing the fabric swatches instead of skeins? Mounting fabrics is a lot quicker than winding the yarn samples.
Tien Chiu says
I hadn’t thought of handweaving fabrics and then dyeing those samples! That’s a really brilliant idea. And much simpler than winding all those skeins onto cards.
I want to a be cat in my next life. Happy New Year Tien. You forgot one accomplishment on your 2016 list – “got my first coaching client”.
Looking forward to getting on track with our coaching sessions.
Tien Chiu says
OMG! How could I have forgotten that?!? Thanks for the reminder. I’m looking forward to getting back on track with our sessions as well!
Sally Knight says
My goal for 2017, too, is FOCUS. Rather than spending so much time debating and feeling insecure, my task/play will be to JUST DO IT. I spend too much time thinking about it, debating what unfinished project to tackle next, arguing with myself about what I should do next. To FOCUS on just one thing at a time is my goal. I need mental blinders to avoid becoming constantly distracted. Yesterday and today I hand-stitched the binding onto a large quilt while watching football. This project has been draped over the back of a chair for many months. This afternoon, it is finished! (Yes, I’m keeping a record of finished projects.) Here’s a quote I pinned on the corner of my bulletin board: “If you could make one resolution for the coming year and know you would have the strength to follow through with it, what would you resolve to do?”
Sally Knight says
P.S. Love the kitty photos.