Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Revising & Re-Seeing Your Work

by Marnie Karger (Crafterall)

One of my favorite writing professors often reminded our class that revision is not merely editing and fine-tuning, but more of a re-vision or a re-seeing of an original piece. The start of a new year tends to cause many of us to revise and rethink what we do, how we do it, and why we do it at all. While these thoughts cover many aspects of our lives, they can also apply directly to our work as artists and crafters, and a good, thorough revision can improve your business’s performance, your own efficiency, and help you recapture your creative drive.

Fabric Push Pins from Regan's Brain

So how do we re-see our work? There are a few different approaches to this, each working from a different angle. First, you can start by making a few lists. Write down what seems to be working for you. Include relevant sales data, details about your work schedule and environment, pats on the back for what you’re doing well now. Write another list of what you’d like to be able to do but so far haven’t. This includes long term goals as well as specific tasks. What are your sources of stress? What slows you down? What struggle could you let go of, in order to make room for more of what works well? Often, just the simple acts of organizing those thoughts, admitting some of your errors or weaknesses, and getting all the behind-the-scenes details on the page can help you re-see your business. From here, work in time-management strategies, set attainable and ambitious goals, and set the groundwork for documenting your progress. Plan to reward yourself when you meet those goals.

Ice Cream wall art print from STELLAandHODGE

Another approach is to try to see your work from a buyer’s perspective. One of the best ways to do this is to show someone your trust your Etsy page. Let them browse your shop while you look over their shoulder. Encourage them to vocalize their thoughts as they peruse your shop. Make note of what catches their attention, how long they spend on a page, how well they can navigate through your listings, etc. Be prepared to listen to their criticism – you don’t have to accept it, but you do have to consider it. Then, on your own, go through each of your listings. Re-read your item descriptions. Pull up any of the myriad how-tos for description best practice and give your listings an overhaul, especially if you haven’t touched your descriptions in over a year. Go through your policies and shop announcements and make sure everything is current and relevant. Sit in on a Newbie Chat in the Virtual Labs and learn something new. One of the most important lessons I learned in my part-time jobs is that there is ALWAYS something to do. Get in there, find something that you can improve, and make it happen.

Lemon Lime Amaryllis Flower print from MaryFosterCreative

A final approach is best if you’ve done the other two already and feel like you may have indeed done everything possible to make your shop and your work top notch.

Take some time off.

Take a serious break away from your shop, away from your social networking and marketing, spend your time as you did before you even heard of Etsy (hard to imagine, I know). What will you do? Take in more movies? Play board games with your family? Exercise more often? Most likely, after a little down time, you’ll find another outlet for your creativity. You’ll pick up your knitting needles or embroidery hoop again. You’ll paint a room in your house. You’ll pull out a great cook book and plan a month’s menu. You’ll schedule an arts and crafts night in your home. You’ll offer to teach a craft in your child’s classroom. You get the idea. Just when you think you’ve lost your creative spark, it comes back with renewed vitality. Break out your sketchbook and tap into this new energy. Let your imagination run unhindered by the former constraints of your shop, and see where it leads you. You may wind up with enough material for a new section in your shop, a new approach to photographing all of your items, or a new shop entirely.

Each of these steps takes work, energy, and some serious commitment. The payoff is that there is an equal if not more substantial return on your investment. The time you put into revising your work can come back to you in surprisingly profitable ways, perhaps so much so, that you’ll need to stop again just to smile at all you’ve done. Here’s to a great new start!

Sunshine Business Set by kellyjsorenson