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The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

The best part of handquilting is that you are UNDER A QUILT. #snugly #yearofmaking 43/365Really, very snowed in (that's my car in the bottom right), which I was looking forward to, since I have 50 cupcakes to bake by Saturday (for a wedding). And then we ran out of flour. #dohBinding off Color Affection! (k2, k those 2 sts together) #yearofmaking 40/365I've been wearing my newly-finished Color Affection around the house all day -with bed hair, my dad's old thermal & slipper-boots. #keepinitrealRemember how I was looking for (& couldn't find) motorcycle cupcake toppers? My solution: make my own! With good dark chocolate. #yearofmaking 44/365 #veganThe bride brought me flour, so cupcakes are ON! (I had to hike down to the main road so she wouldn't get stuck.) This is the first of four (dozen).

I am so grateful for…

  • Restful Snow Days (+ giving in to the lazing-around-the-house)
  • the opportunity to help friends create their wedding day (the brownies + motorcycles above are the groom's cake!)
  • a successful and stress-free launch of Pay Yourself
  • Getting to know my smart + clever readers (when you subscribe I send you a personal note, which often leads to great conversations!)


The Good Stuff

This week I started a Pinterest board full of Pay Yourself-related resources. You can find all the great articles, books, and ideas here.

I finished my second Color Affection and I really really love it. I call it Boston Affection, because the gray yarn is Toil + Trouble (Ana's responsible for my last trip to Boston!) and the blue is from Gather Here (my fave Boston yarn shop, bought after teaching there).

I love how Elise Blaha is willing to try new things + crazy ideas for her handmade shop. Her Make29 project is proof that you don't have to do things the way everyone else does.

I've been obsessing over two cat fabrics: Lizzy House's Catnap and Aneela Hooey's Hello Petal. I think I need them both TOGETHER for the ultimate in a cat-lady sewing. A pillow for the couch, perhaps? (Know of another cute, modern, not-too-girly cat fabric? Share it in the comments, please!)

The Wardrobe Architect series by Collette Patterns is rocking my world. As a hater-of-shopping, this is very useful in defining my style (I have a very easy time saying a firm NO to anything I don't love, without being able to articulate why…leaving me with very few clothes. I think this series is going to help. )  A huge thanks to Kim Werker + her newsletter for pointing me towards it!


In case you missed it, Pay Yourself is now open, for only ONE week (it closes next Friday). Read more and sign up here. 

Let’s explore profit

let's explore profit

Money. Profit. Pricing.

These are some of the hardest things to talk about in our businesses (and lives!), for a many reasons: because of our culture and its messages, because we might use it as a measure of our self-worth (and thus, it becomes a tool of self-doubt), and  because it is so easy to get lost in the Comparison Game.

This is exactly why we should explore it. Not just explore the ideas of profitability or making money – but explore your actual, real-life numbers, no matter what they are.

You see, in my work with creatives I find two things that routinely get in the way of their doing what they want to do:

  1. They don't have a plan, they don't know exactly where they want to go. (Which is why I created this.)
  2. They don't know where they are, they don't know their actual numbers. (Which is why I created this.)

If you want to go somewhere else, you have to know where you are right now.
If you want to make more money, you need to know what your money is doing right now. You need to know your expenses, your profit margin, your minimum break-even point and your most profitable products.
With this knowledge, you can grow, build, and expand. You can spend your time on what works and stop doing what doesn't.

But this doesn't have to be hard or stressful or self-flagellating. We can pull out these numbers, run a little math, and then learn the lessons. We can explore instead of hoping, comparing, or grasping.

If you'd like to join me in this exploration, it's time to learn how to Pay Yourself.




Image by Lacey Atkinson

Instead of comparing, explore


instead of comparing explore

“I'm just not doing enough. I thought it would have already happened. I might be missing *something* because everyone else is doing so much better, faster.”

I hear this all the time, from Captains, clients, friends…and inside my own head.

If you read some blogs, it seems that everyone is always killing it. That they're making a lot, selling a lot, and generally rolling around in piles of money, while working on a beach.

Apparently, everyone in the world is measuring the success of their business in figures. And they're all large. And successful.
{Click to Tweet this!}

Perhaps I'm especially sensitive to this because in the last year of teaching Pay Yourself (a class about calculating profit) to a variety of artists + makers, I had the chance to dig into real numbers from real people.
And in every instance, the things that were not profitable were the things they didn't really want to do. They were only doing them because someone else did. Or someone “successful” said to.

So I've got this unique perspective. I see the loud claims of showy success and I see the real insides of some amazing creatives. I see what really works and what is supposed to work and doesn't.

But when you can't see the insides – when you're just you,  working away at making your dream real – all these “success stories” can wear you out, discourage you, or worst of all – kick off a new round of the comparison game, where you start measuring your success by everyone else's. 

No matter how many times you tell yourself to ignore it, it can be discouraging. You forget that gross income (or, the money you take in) is not the same as net profit (the money you get to keep after paying all your expenses)…and most people are talking about their gross income. You can think that every month is a big blockbuster month for everyone and that no one else has slim (and fat) months.

(They do, they really do. In a recent Starship chat every single member present spoke up to encourage another and said: Yep, I've been there.)

All of this confusion about what's real + the non-stop comparison game going on in your head is why you won't hear me talking about “how to make six figures.” I'd rather help you explore where your profitability already is. I'd rather you  set a doable goal for the next three months and work towards that. I'd rather you explore what you want, so you can pursue it wholeheartedly. I'd rather connect you with other explorers who are real and encouraging and honest.

Because THAT is the real secret to how you get to those huge numbers – you slowly build to them step by step, by expanding on what's working and sustainably growing your capacity and your audience. 

That's how you get the small successes that lead to the bigger picture.

It's not a sexy message, I know. But it's real and true and encouraging and full of so much HOPE. Your tomorrow can be different. If can be what you want, but you have to make it so*.


*A Captain Picard nod for my fellow geeks

Tomorrow I open Pay Yourself. 
In it, we'll work with your real numbers to determine where the profitability is (and isn't) so you can laser-focus on the aspects of your business that support sustainable growth. It's not sexy, but it's gentle and encouraging and you only have to do math on ONE day. Registration opens tomorrow + it closes in just over a week, on February 21st. This is the last time I'll be holding it live online with a community of fellow explorers.

If you'd like to get real about your money, the downloadable class is available any time, right here!

If you'd like a sneak peek at how we'll talk about budgeting as a tool for earning more inside Pay Yourself, you can read my post here on OhMyHandmade.

A messy path to profitability

A messy path to profitability

Last week I shared a bit of my story, of what it was like to have to figure out how to pay myself once I quit my dayjob. But I left out the messy middle. The part where I had to take apart my whole system of profit and look at it piece by piece.

When I first started selling yarn, I did what most of us do, I looked around and priced my work according to what else was out there. But it soon became clear that I could barely afford the skein of yarn I was dyeing at that price. I had to buy in bulk, at wholesale prices in order to have ANY kind of margin.

But then, I had to look beyond the expense of that particular skein (also called Cost of Goods Sold) into my overhead: paper, ink, dyes, time, and figure out how that was going to get covered.

And when I get to this part of  a conversation with a maker, I usually get two reactions:

But I can only raise my price so much! 


But I can only reduce my expenses so much! 

Also true.

And this is where the exploring breaks down, because you just know there's nothing else you can do so you better stop looking at it before you discover something really awful (maybe you shouldn't have a business, maybe you'll never be a success, maybe this is crazy).

Honey, I know. I know that looking at these numbers brings up all kinds of panic. And I know that you're afraid that there's nothing you can do to make it work. I know because when I got to this point of my numbers-crunching I freaked out. I wanted to stop looking and just hope that the math would magically resolve itself if I just worked harder. 

But it didn't. (And I gave that magic solution a good long time to show up.) What did resolve it was looking at other options. Revisiting the numbers and figuring out what else it told me. Just like with your marketing: explore what has worked and build from there. 

So now I also know that there are lots of things you can do to make it work. You can introduce a new product, you can try a new income stream, you can shift your focus a bit.

There are a zillion things you can do to make it work, and none of them involve giving up. 

These zillion things are what we're going to explore in Pay Yourself. We'll find out what's not working, sure, but then we'll focus on what is working and build more profit from there.


What has your path to profitability been like? What have you learned? What are you afraid to look at?

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure and this is the view and the finds that made this one special. You can follow all my adventures here.

The View

Snow day = spending allll afternoon making a  #vegan apple pie.
Actually, this whole neighborhood reminds me of Downton. #ifnotforthestripmalls
Just posted a short #monthofloveyarn spinning video on Vine! (I'm taraswiger, of course!)
Hanging art! #momsfirstexhibit
Yay!  Mom and her art are in the paper with my press release!

The finds

  • On my car trip yesterday I listed to this interview from On Being, with Seth Godin. It is so good. Every maker, artist, or thinker should listen in.
  • Tammie Bennett made the MOST AWESOME map. Check it out here.
  • Confession: I know nothing about who comes to my site or how they got here. I check Google Analytics every once in a while, but I'd like to be smarter about it. Thank goodness Diane is teaching this series of classes.

My path

  •  How to plan your daring adventure – my post on the Karina Chronicles
  • Right now I'm in Cookeville, for my mom's first EVER Art exhibit! There's an opening reception tonight at Corner Coffeebar + Arthouse. If you're nearby – stop by and say hi!
  • The best part of this week was opening the new class and meeting the new students! Join us here.

The first step towards a profitable business

First Steps toward a profitable business

When I quit my dayjob to make yarn full-time, I had worked for months towards an income goal. But then, life fell apart. In one month, my car caught fire, my husband lost his (only-part-time-anyhow) job, and my house was broken into (yep, everything electronic was stolen. Thank goodness they didn't how valuable my little wooden spinning wheel is!)

Since that inauspicious start, my creativity has been my ticket to paying bills, traveling the country, going to movies and generally living life. In the beginning, I didn't know what to do except: SCRAMBLE. And, to be honest, sometimes it's still a scramble.

But I make it work.
 I take my family to a hotel + fancy dinner + the Chocolate Lounge for Mom's birthday. I take a week off to be in San Diego for my Dad's birthday party. {This was the year both parents turned 50. It was a big deal. But don't mention it to them!} I get stuck overnight in an airport and can afford to get a hotel room at the last minute. I drive 3 hours and get a hotel to visit my husband's grandpa before he dies, then the next week for the funeral…then the next week for Thanksgiving.

These aren't glamorous rolling-in-the-dough stories. But this is real life.
I'm a 30-year-old married French major who likes to eat at Plant at least once a month, and can't bear “office casual”.
I bring home the puppy chow from my ideas and my words and my hands.

And in the nearly 4 years of doing this full-time, I've learned how do it, and do it with some ease.

And so, I think long and hard before I answer a question like the one Laura asked: “How do you create the income of your dreams when creating the products by hand?”

The answer is GINORMOUS.

But it's also kinda small: Profit. 

Everything you sell, every project you work on, and every new “opportunity” you jump on must be profitable for your overall business to be profitable.

But doing that! It involves…math, my dear friends.
And it involves bold honesty. And we tend to avoid the things we're not-so-comfortable with. So I created a class that walks you through all of it. From individual product profit-testing, to the things that keep your whole business paying you. It's the systems I use (and that I've helped other crafters in the Starship use) to launch new products, find new income streams, and pay the bills.

The class is Pay Yourself, and you can register for it here.

But in the meantime, I can begin to answer Laura's question in today's video, with the very first step of profitability: Knowing your numbers.

Once you know your numbers, it's time to Pay Yourself

Got a question? Ask me!
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The Power of Pricing

Last weekend, I did a really fabulous local craft show (the Lavender Festival) and once again, I learned the power of having the right price. I spent two full days meeting lovely knitters, crocheters, and wanna-be-crafters. I noticed them pick up my yarns, check out the price tag and I watched their reaction. This is maybe the hardest part of selling in person: watching and hearing reactions. Will they be negative? Positive? Indifferent? This tension can throw a normally-sane business-gal into a tizzy. It can cast doubts on all the math you did to figure out that price.

Because your price is not just a number. It represents value.

The value you place on your work and skill and passion. And the value your customers place on what they hold in their hands.

What I’ve learned through 4 years of selling my yarn in person is that the right number on the price tag is just the first step.

The  clincher is how I feel about that number.

Do I apologize for it? Do I hem and haw? Do I trip myself up trying to explain that it’s ohmygoodness it’s made by hand from local wool and really rare and and and

Or am I confident? Am I proud of my work?
Do I truly believe I deserve to make what I put on its price tag?

My confidence my belief in my work is communicated to the customer and allows them to feel accept the price. My comfort with being paid for my skill and time, gives them comfort as they reach for their wallet.

This comfort may not come naturally, but it can be learned. And if you’re going to sell (online or in person), it’s vital that you learn it.

The combination of the Right Price (one that pays you fairly and reflects the quality of the work) and the Right Person (someone who loves your work and is happy to pay for it) turns the sale into an easy, fun experience for everyone.

Oh, and at the festival this weekend? I heard not a single word about prices. Every Right Person snatched up what they wanted and whipped out their wallet with glee. I had a great time, they had a great time and we all ended up with what we needed.


Is that the experience you have selling your work? If not, why do you think that is?

PS. Not sure what your Right Price is? Wish you just had a simple formula and some ideas for becoming comfortable with it? Learn how to figure it out in Pricing 101, a bonus class in Pay Yourself. 

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