How I Quit My Day Job: Q&A27.11.14
I was asked so many questions after telling you all about how I quit my day job I decided to write this follow-up Q&A. I tried to ...
I was asked so many questions after telling you all about how I quit my day job I decided to write this follow-up Q&A. I tried to keep my answers as succinct as possible and if you still have questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments section.
What is your educational background?
I studied Media and Film along with English, Psychology, and Geography at A Level in college and I went on to gain a university degree in Media and Popular Culture where I specifically focused on advertising, branding, and social media.
Did you take any courses to learn jewellery making?
I am completely self-taught and haven't taken any courses to study jewellery design or craftsmanship nor business management. I believe my self-taught skills in web coding and my degree in media has been incredibly beneficial to the success of my business since branding is a huge focus of my business model. I also learned a lot by using free resources.
Were you scared of opening a business?
I think I would have been if I had realised that building a business was what I was doing, but I saw it as a hobby for so long that by the time I realised Oh My Clumsy Heart could be a business, it already was a business. I didn't give it much thought, which means I didn't get the chance to be scared or doubt what I was doing.
Were you scared of failure?
No, because I had (and still have) huge faith and confidence in the products I was creating and selling. You need to be confident and proud of the work you do. If you're not confident of your skills and the business you are creating, how can you expect anyone else to be? I never thought "this is not going to work," I never doubted that I was going to succeed. I knew I was creating great products, it was just a case of working hard to get them noticed. The only time I felt unsure was when I took the leap of faith to become full time self-employed; I never doubted the business but I did fear the "what if's."
Why did you quit Etsy?
This is a question I feel deserves an entire post all of its own because the reasons for quitting Etsy are quite complex. In essence, I found Etsy incredibly restrictive for anyone who wishes to run a business rather than a hobby shop. Etsy has changed a lot since I quit and even before then it had already started to change, I saw those changes coming and it made me want to leave. It's now very competitive and there are a lot of outside influences that stand in the way of your shop being a success; the SEO algorithm changes far too frequently and it's become a game of jumping through hoops. There are a lot of "Etsy politics" and it's not really handmade orientated anymore, which is a shame because it used to be an amazing platform for independent start-ups.
How realistic is it for your passion to become your job?
As realistic as you make it. Not everyone will succeed but if you work hard, have confidence, and are willing to learn and adapt quickly then you give yourself the best chance possible of making it work. Not everyone is cut out to be their own boss and run their own business, ideas won't always work and products don't always sell. Running your own business is tough, it requires huge dedication, hard work, and patience.
How much income do you generate through your business?
This is another question I feel deserves a post of it's own - creative incomes, not my personal income! - but I'm not quite sure how I want to deal with it just yet. I'm not entirely comfortable sharing details of my own personal income but I do think we need to talk more about money in the creative community. I don't feel the option to run your own business or become self-employed is discussed enough at a young age, it's not seen as a viable option, which is ridiculous. People need to know you can earn a really good wage from running your own business, that getting stuck in a traditional 9-to-5 isn't the only option - you can make a career for yourself, doing the thing that you love, and it doesn't mean you have to live like a "struggling artist." But to answer the question as truthfully as I can without revealing exactly how much I earn: my business earns me more money per month than I have ever earned in my entire life - even when I was working a full time marketing job alongside my business.
What books did you find helpful or inspiring?
I wrote a recommended reading list for creatives awhile back but I would specifically encourage you to read Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod and Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. If you're looking for specific handmade designer-maker books I'd suggest The Handmade Marketplace as a good starting point.
What resources did you find helpful?
I wrote a list of useful links for business marketing but specifically The Independent Retail Academy and The Design Trust were the most influential resources I used. I'd also recommend googling everything and using YouTube to teach you skills you'd like to learn, for free. I'd recommend steering well clear of any e-courses, everyone seems to be shilling these lately and I've yet to see one that offers anything worth the price tag. You can learn everything you need to know about running your own business and blogging for free if you spend time researching online - I know because that's how I did it. If you need help finding information on something, please ask me and I'll try to help as much as possible.
Where do you buy the resources for jewellery making?
Finding resources and suppliers takes a lot of time and effort, it's a huge part of running an independent business and, in such a competitive market, discovering supplies - like gorgeous gemstones - can be worth their weight in gold. I'm enthusiastic about helping other small independents and start-ups but sharing this kind of information is counterproductive. It's all part of the learning process of running your own business and something we all have to discover on our own.
How did the blog come about? Was it jewellery first or blog first?
Oh My Clumsy Heart came first; I had been blogging for years before I created The Private Life of a Girl but not consistently or with any kind of dedication. I suggested I might write a beauty blog to some friends and they all encouraged me to do it, so I did.
Have you changed focus at all on the blog since you went full time self employed?
Yes, but it was a natural development rather than a forced one. I realised I was becoming more passionate when it came to writing about what I do daily - my job, my lifestyle - rather than just the beauty and fashion aspects of it. I originally started the blog as a pure beauty blog and slowly added new topics like fashion and books, and now I'm adding more and more creative lifestyle content. I think it's a natural progression and a sign of a healthy blog.
How does the blog feature in the future of the business?
The blog has been hugely influential when it comes to the business; I blog because I enjoy it, not just to enable the business to grow, but it definitely helps reach wider audiences. I never want it to become a giant advert for Oh My Clumsy Heart, that isn't what this is about, so if The Private Life of a Girl is going to continue, it will continue as its own entity not as a marketing prop.