Ah, the irony.
When I left my job at Google, I thought that not having a day job would free up more time and energy for creative work. How wrong I was!
True, my schedule is now more flexible, since I don’t have to go to a job from 9-5. But – because I am starting up a teaching business – I’ve been finding my time and energy totally consumed by the business, leaving almost no time for my own creative work. (Or, rather, my creative work right now is the business.) Thus, the dearth of posts here, on my personal blog. I hope to get more time to blog once my first course is launched in January 2018.
Starting up the business has been an interesting experience. On the surface, it looks relatively straightforward: put together some online classes, slap them up on a class platform, and open it up to students. Simple, right?
Well, no. There are a TON of new skills I’ve needed to acquire:
- Web design/content – How to create a visually appealing website, and write copy that will sell people on your classes
- Email marketing – How to write effective marketing and sales emails (there’s a lot more to this than you’d think)
- Social media management – How to promote your business/classes effectively on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (LOTS of etc.)
- How to build a mailing list, and the mechanics of running one
- How to build an effective online course: What platform to use, how to design/structure the class, whether to have a student forum (and what tools to use, etc. to create one), how to price it, etc.
- Shooting video: How to set up a video studio, what equipment to use, how to edit video, etc.
- Various legalities of running a business, hiring contractors, etc.
And so on.
In addition to acquiring skills, of course, I actually need to do the work. Here is a small fraction of my to-do list for the next 7 days:
- Put together a marketing plan for the business – target demographics, positioning, pricing, etc.
- From the marketing plan, put together a social media marketing plan
- Talk with and/or hire a potential social media manager (which also means researching how to hire a contractor, how to write a contract, etc.)
- Weave three color gamps and write a blog post for Warp & Weave about why and how to use a color gamp
- Weave three scarves and write two articles for Handwoven (deadline: October 26)
- Start weaving the 53 samples needed for my first online color class
- Figure out whether I want to switch email list providers – evaluate the pros and cons of two different providers and what it would take to migrate from one to the other
- Fiddle with my course platform provider (Thinkific) and figure out the mechanics of putting up a class
- Finish drafting the text for the last three slide decks for my class
- Start planning for chocolate season
The list seems endless, and each item seems to spawn three other items. For example, the marketing plan and social media marketing plan were both precipitated by a huge stroke of luck – finding someone who might be the perfect social media manager for me. Of course, in order to hire her, I first need to know what I want her to do…and I need to be able to communicate to someone else all the marketing strategy that I have thus far kept only in my head. By Friday, because that’s when I’m meeting with her. (Etc.)
I’m not really complaining, as this is by far the most interesting and exciting “job” I’ve ever had. I’m learning a ton of new things, experimenting with ways to apply my new knowledge, and building something that is far more complex than anything I’ve tried before. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming – but this is my dream job! So I am grateful to be able to pursue it, and greatly enjoying the entire process. However, it does mean a lot less time to spend on my own projects. Pretty much all the weaving I’ve done in the past few months has either been my stole commission or for my Warp & Weave blog posts, upcoming classes, etc.
I hadn’t planned to blog about any of the business-building things, thinking that building an online business/Internet marketing is probably not that interesting to most of you blog readers. But then a friend pointed out that the process of business-building is an intriguing story in itself, and that many of you might be interested in doing similar things (starting an online fiber-related business). I also enjoy writing these blog posts, and it’s becoming patently obvious that I will have nothing to write about, if I don’t write about the things I’m doing for the business. So, in addition to the usual creative endeavors, I will be sharing some of the behind-the-scenes business-building stories here – I hope you find it interesting!
Meanwhile, of course, time is marching on, and chocolate season is approaching. (Yes, chocolate is that important to me. I’m considering the business more or less on hold during the month of November, in favor of chocolatiering – a girl’s gotta have her priorities!) The test kitchen for new flavors opens as soon as I get back – plus I’ll be placing my usual 100+ pound chocolate order soon – so stay tuned for details on that!
be careful of burnout. weaving is/was my passion but after 9 years it wasn’t fun any longer. much happier as a hobby weaver now.
Your wisdom is always appreciated. I don’t weave and I always read your posts because your process is so clearly laid out and I appreciate the perspective. As always, you amaze me. Xo
Keep writing about these topics. As I am thinking of going down some of the same tracks, it is good to hear I’m not the only one facing these things.
Mary Coburn says
I WILL READ WHATEVER YOU WRITE!!!!!
Ruth Temple says
How fun is all of this! Of course you’re tackling parts that are of great interest, and oft-times least known, to artists.
Looking forward to peeping over your shoulder at the creative blog as you progress!
I love reading your thorough accounts of everything! So glad to have your thoughts down in blog form to learn from and read. Thank you so much for taking that extra step of documenting and writing about what you do. It’s definitely a huge step beyond the actual “doing,” and the doing is huge as it is.