Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: August 2011

Amy makes a map

I am SO excited to have Amy, artist, map-illustrator, and Starship Cadet, sharing her map with us today! Amy illustrated the Fairytale map that you get with the guide, so I love seeing how she took her idea of what to share with YOU and actually used it in her own business.
Amy's Map

What’s the endpoint on your map, the thing you’re working towards?

It's coming up time for me to get a new work computer, and there was a symmetry that pleased me in paying for the work computer with art money. So, my endpoint is to sell original art, commissions, and Etsy items equal to the money for the computer and some new software. I gave myself a 6-month timeline, from July 1-December 31, which felt reasonable to me since a lot of the work was prep in the first three months towards sales in the second three.

How is the map helping you work towards this endpoint? What tools did you use to make your map?

It really helped me see where there was specific work to be done, and when in the process it needed to happen. I used the Fairytale Map, since it was my art and idea  and because I really liked the little extras I'd made for it.

First I put in my goal! I wrote the number I was going for on the pot of gold and pasted it at the very end of the path.

Second, I added the extra path-loop with the castle at the top labeled Etsy, so that the two Etsy-related milestones would be visually separated from those more focused on my fine art business.

Then, I added in the other 8 flags in the spots along the path, including some things that needed to be done right away, and some that were longer-term.

After that was done, I took the other little clip-art things {which come with the Guide!} and put them in the places that felt right. For instance, I stuck the dragon down with rewriting the copy on my sites, because copy is always a monstrous task! I put the little purple monster up with “New Online Venues” (and wrote “Scary! Rawr!” on him) because that's a hard thing for me, increasing visibility when my instincts are always to stay in the background.

I peppered the pine trees in the blank spaces, and then put the apple trees near the end and wrote “fruits of my labor” on them to represent the delicious moment when I go to the Apple store and buy my new laptop. Daily Art, which is my 6-times-a-week blogging of a new art piece every day, went near the end because while it's not the sort of milestone where you can say “there, done!” it's an ongoing part of my business that I felt deserved acknowledgement in my Map.

I cleaned my painting studio while I was still working on the Map, so I added a shiny sticker and a note in one of the open spaces to commemorate unearthing my easel again. I also got some ridiculous shiny bling to go on the flagpoles as I complete things, too, so that I don't just let the Map stay static. I think that show of change as the Milestones are reached will help keep me focused on my goal.

Did you learn anything new about your business during the process?


I actually spent a couple of weeks contemplating my Milestones & all the steps they're going to take to complete before I finished the map, and it really helped me to see where the things are that I'm avoiding or wishy-washy about.

For instance, I was totally comfortable putting Daily Art on there as a forever-milestone, because I've been doing it for over a year now and it's quite habitual at this point to keep track of it during my week. But I waffled a lot about doing some kind of birthday celebration on the blog in September, because last year's was largely unsuccessful — it really showed me that I have a hole in my knowledge of what my audience wants in a promotion.

How has this changed (or not) what a normal day or week looks like in your biz?

I've really stepped up the time I spend on making and listing my art on the site — I take more photos, and I've set up a much easier-to-browse Art Shop on the site where people can find just the art that's for sale.

I also have put a higher priority on new projects and collaborations — I'm going to be doing some awesome laser-cut necklaces in collaboration with  Shannon of Polymath Labs (who I met through the Starship!), and I've started a whole line of awesomely gothy fabric designs on Spoonflower. Both of these things totally count as New Online Venues, but I've managed to sneak them past the monster because they're not things like blogs or forums.

Sssh, don't tell him!

I love having the metaphor of going on an adventure to my pot of gold — it reminds me of Neil Gaiman's wonderful poem “Instructions,” and really makes my goal seem like more of a game than a job. And, weirdly, makes it feel more attainable at the same time.

Even if I am still wishy-washy about my birthday celebration.


Thanks for sharing with us Amy! My favorite part is your use of dragon and that you have an apple tree at the end to symbolize your trip to the Apple store! So cute!

If you are thinking your craftybiz could use some direction and insight, check out the Map-Making Guide and you'll get 2 full pages of Amy's art (which includes the dragon and the path she used!), along with step-by-step instructions and a friendly make-sure-you-do-it email course. Get yours here.

On quitting the dayjob, making everything creative, and starships: A Podcast

I am so honored to be today's guest on one of my most favorite podcasts, Creative Living with Jamie.

We talk about

  • quitting my dayjob (the steps I took to make that happen)
  • making everything an exercise in creativity
  • why I hang out in a Starship

It was SO fun to do the interview and I'm happy to share it with you!

You can  listen or subscribe to the podcast here.

(I recommend subscribing! I'm subscribed and I listen to it weekly while I wash the dishes…talk about making a boring job more creative!)

PS. Wanna interview me for your podcast, website or newsletter? Just shoot me a note with a link to your thing!

A Birth Announcement

Last week, I signed a contract with Cooperative Press to write a book.

It will be about, well, what I write about: marketing your crafty goodness.

And just like that, my tiny sweet BOOK (that's what she insists on being called) came into my life. She's small and tender and not ready to go out into the world. Or to be poked at. Or questioned.

But we're spending time together each morning, BOOK and I.
I write her letters and she tells me what she needs to grow up (since I haven't found the What To Expect When You're Expecting Guide to Raising a BOOK).

And today (with my publisher's blessing), BOOK wanted me to announce her entry to the world.

We (BOOK and I) are accepting well-wishes, excitements and congratulations (in the comments, or on Twitter, or with gifts).

(just kidding about the gifts. sorta)

Over the next few months, as I write (er, raise) BOOK, I'll be sharing more details (she's very into story-telling and we've some pretty great stories already) but if you're anxious to hear about her release date (since she's a Southern girl, she'll probably want a debutante ball) you can sign up for Cooperative Press's newsletter.

And if you'd like a chance for your craftybiz to be featured in the BOOK, make sure you get twice-monthly SparklePointers, so you'll get our request for your stories, later this fall.

 Well, that's it.
We are…mostly Too Excited. Overwhelmed with oh-my-goodnesses and Ready to Party!


Curious how I got a book contract in less than 2 months after deciding I wanted one? I used the Map-Making Guide to get clear, figure out what needed to be done, and then, yep, do it.






Happy Birthday, Gene Kelly!

Why yes, it is that beautiful man's birthday.

Gene Kelly

In honor of his birthday, we're throwing a craft-along.

You can join in by sharing your GK-inspired craft (all mediums welcome!) in the Flickr group. There's no deadline, there's no rules, just a bunch of crafters in love with the dancing man.

For me, the crush started the first time I saw Singin' in the Rain. I was 8 or 9 and we rented it from the library. I'm pretty sure it was the first musical I ever watched. It's definitely the first time I saw dancing like that.

I was completely transfixed…until the weird staircase scene (the woman, with the length of fabric…I just don't get it. Still.)
The most quotable scene, this one! (Long people, have short faces and short people have long faces…)

It soon became my watch-when-sick movie and it's never failed to lull me to sleep or make me forget about how icky I feel.

Which is why it was tragic when it was one of the movies stolen when  our house was broken into.

It was also the very first movie we replaced (just a week later Jay came home with another Singin' in the Rain. And a Wayne's World. But that's a story for a different craft-along.)


But confession:

I've never seen another Gene Kelly movie. Clearly, this is to be remedied. I've got Summer Stock and An American in Paris on hold at the library (so retro!) and Xanadu (never seen it! my child-of-the80s-cred is in question!) and (thanks to Rachel!) Anatomy of a Dancer cued up for tonight on Netflix Instant.

And for the craftalong?

I'm thinking an amigurumi Gene (like my Wimpy Kid) or perhaps a series of yarn, one for each movie I watch?

What will you make?

PS. Wanna OD on GK? Check out this great YouTube Playlist while you read the posts from the other craft-alongers: DianeRachel
(share your link in the comments and I'll add you here!)

Radio, success, and hanging out with you

Right now (as you read this, not as I write it), I'm on a plane somewhere over the middle of the country.
Instead of waiting until I can come up with something clever or helpful to say, I'm going to share a bunch of randomness at once (much of which will be useful, I hope!)



  •  Wednesday I wrote for Handmade Success about Defining Your Own Success. This is a huge part of making a map – knowing what YOU really want and giving yourself permission to work towards that (no matter how it might compare to other businesses).  Read it here.


  •  I'll be in San Fransisco (for CCE! yay!) Thursday – Sunday and in Portland Monday – Thursday.  If you're in either town, I would LOVE to meet up and get to know you better (yes, you)!
    Like I said in my interview, every time I meet one of you (readers, crafters, business-builders) I get inspired and creative and have SO MUCH fun. I'd like to do MORE of this, so please, email me (taraATtaraswigerDOTcom) and we'll grab a cup of coffee together.


  •  Because I'll be out of town and hanging out with you, I won't be answering my emails, tweets, facebook messages in anything close to a timely manner. Thanks for your patience!