I love taking the first week of the new year to reflect on the past year and plan new goals for the next. It has been a crazy year of change and learning to let go of expectations. The first half of my year was full steam ahead for Tiny Curl, then July came and we sold our home in Miami, moved to Atlanta, and found out we were expecting a baby girl! It really felt like the year was divided in half – before the move and after the move. From July on, I spent most of my time dealing with moving, buying and decorating a new home, and learning how to be a functional pregnant woman.
Even with all of the life changes, I had some big a-ha moments for my creative business Tiny Curl. Some of 2018’s lessons confirmed what I had already known – that I love designing and teaching! But some lessons really surprised me – that taking a break is SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Keep reading to see what I learned and my goals for 2019!
P.S. If you’re in the market for a really great (and FREE) self-reflection workbook, I can’t speak highly enough about the Unravel Your Year workbook by Susannah Conway. It is such a powerful tool for self-discovery and intention setting. In one part of the workbook, you describe what your ideal day would look like in the new year and it SCARED me how accurate my day was – it described me being 5 months pregnant (YES) and enjoying a chilly morning in Atlanta (YES and YES).
WHAT I LEARNED IN 2018
1. DESIGNING IS STILL MY FAVE
In 2017, I realized I didn’t really love making finished products to sell and actually most preferred the design process. Throughout 2018 I definitely still felt this way which is great because I know I’m developing my business in the right direction. But, a new discovery was realizing that commissions from publishers and yarn companies are probably my favorite aspect of designing (over releasing independent patterns).
Why you ask? Because I LOVE structure, but find it really challenging to give it to myself. With commissions, it’s like having a manager who gives you deadlines and direction for your project. I love having immediate feedback for my work and not worrying about how I’m going to market a pattern or whether it will sell well or not.
Knowing this, I can position myself as someone who does design commissions, develop a portfolio of commissioned work, and prioritize pitching designs to publishers and yarn companies.
The takeaway: Hone in on the specific aspects of your business you love and prioritize doing them! Even small tweaks to what you’re already doing can help you narrow in how you should be positioning your creative business.
2. TEACHING IS A CLOSE SECOND
Kind of a continuation of my 1st lesson – I learned that I really love teaching, especially online. After launching my first Skillshare class, Product Photography for your Handmade Business, I was blown away by the positive response! It has been so rewarding to share my knowledge with other creative business owners. (P.S. Use this link to get a 14-day free trial of premium Skillshare to take as many classes as you want!)
One of my tenets for Tiny Curl is to be open and honest about owning a creative business and share what I know to help other creative business owners have the businesses of their dreams. Through teaching online classes (and eventually more YouTube tutorials), I can create resources for fellow crocheters or biz owners to grow their skills and businesses. I’m currently in the editing phase of my second class (which will be all about expanding your creative business!) and can’t wait to launch it within the next few months. So keep an eye out for the launch!
Initially, I was thinking too narrowly about what I could teach – thinking I could only provide crochet-related content. But a big revelation for me was that I know a lot about owning and growing a creative business in general and a large portion of the Tiny Curl audience is made up of creative business owners as well as crocheters. This massively opened up the resources and skills I could share!
The takeaway: Think holistically about what knowledge and resources you can provide to your audience, not just within your niche but in a broader way. You’ll be amazed with all of the skills you have and that your audience is probably itching to learn them, too!
3. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO BE OKAY WITH TAKING A BREAK
This was a big one for me this year. As I mentioned earlier, my husband Kyle and I sold our home in Miami and moved to Atlanta this year. We also found out we’re expecting a baby girl in April 2019! So it was a big year of life changes. And with those life changes came swaths of time that I didn’t have the time or energy to work on Tiny Curl. And I hated that! I bucked against it, feeling guilty and unproductive even though I was packing up and selling an entire house, buying and decorating a new house, oh and GROWING A BABY INSIDE ME.
But it’s difficult not to feel that when I’m not working on Tiny Curl, I’m stalling its growth (see #4 below). And it’s hard not to feel like everyone that follows my work on Instagram or reads the blog won’t just disappear into thin air. But I realized the rather obvious point that I can’t do it all. And, thankfully, I’ve cultivated a lovely group of supporters that understand and will wait for me until I can come back!
The takeaway: You’re one person and can’t do it all at all times. If you need to take a break from your work for any reason, DO IT. Don’t feel guilty or worthless because you aren’t producing. It’s just a season and it will pass. Instead, relish the break! Do something for fun! Crochet a sweater for yourself! Take a long bath! Because soon you’ll be back to work.
4. GROWING A BUSINESS TAKES FOREVER
I feel like I knew this before, but didn’t REALLY know it or accept it until this year. It’s like those quotes that go something like “every overnight success takes 10 years.” It couldn’t be more true. Sure, there are some true overnight successes, but the vast majority of business take a super long time to become successful or profitable. And even longer when you are working on your business part-time or even when you are working “normal” hours and not busting your ass every day to get things done.
I had a part-time job for a portion of this year and had to take many breaks from working (see #3 above) and it definitely impacted Tiny Curl’s growth. I wasn’t able to accomplish as much as I wanted and felt guilty about my halted progress. But I had to accept this season of my life and circumstances and refuse to let it deter me from continuing on my creative business path.
The takeaway: Don’t beat yourself up because your business isn’t where you thought it would be by this time. Owning your own business is hard. And comparing where your business is with someone else’s is sure to leave you feeling like a failure. Remember that everyone’s circumstances are different and you may not be seeing the whole story about someone else’s business. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be evaluating your business frequently and making sure that it’s still what you want to be doing and that it has the potential to become a successful (by your definition of success) business. Remember why you started your business in the first place and use that as a mantra to keep going.
REVISITING GOALS FROM 2018 aka WHAT I ACCOMPLISHED
1. Design more patterns!
Because I didn’t make this a quantitative goal (a specific number of patterns) then YES, I did succeed at making more patterns! I designed 8 patterns this year. I remember wanting to design a pattern a month, which didn’t happen, but I am happy with 8! Going forward, I will be setting more concrete goals, so I can really gauge my progress.
2. Submit designs to magazines and yarn companies
I didn’t independently pitch ideas to magazines or yarn companies, but some did reach out to me! I had opportunities with Mollie Makes, Hobbycraft, and Rico Design! I discovered that doing commissions for publishers and yarn companies is probably my favorite thing to do as a crochet designer, so this was a huge win. Definitely my biggest Tiny Curl achievement of 2018 was having my Watermelon Girl pattern on the cover of Mollie Makes!
3. Try to get sponsorships for content
I didn’t prioritize pitching content to companies last year and I don’t know if 2019 will be the year for this either. But it is definitely something I am interested in for the future.
4. Create a crochet workshop or tutorial series
I didn’t create a crochet workshop, but I did create a Skillshare class called Product Photography for your Handmade Business! So this is a partial win.
5. Put together crochet kits and supplies to sell
I didn’t get to do this in 2018, but I do have some fun crochet swag coming in 2019!
6. Draw more, explore more, have fun!
I always need more of this! But I don’t think I made this a real priority.
7. Post 1 video a month on YouTube
Definitely did not complete this goal! I have wanted to post videos on YouTube foreverrrrr, but recording and editing videos is still super tough for me. One day this will happen, but probably not this year.
8. Take a vacation!
Kyle and I went to West Palm Beach for a long weekend and it was AMAZING.
9. Give my website and branding a mini-makeover
I redesigned my website at the beginning of the year! Still need to create more branding elements, though.
11. Keep discovering my “why”
I did continue to hone in on why I do what I do and my current iteration is “Make things to make yourself and others happy.” I think that really gets to the core of why Tiny Curl exists.
12. Get really clear on what my version of success is
I totally did this! I even wrote a blog post about it.
13. Figure out profitability for Tiny Curl
Still working on this. Because I only worked part-time and took many breaks, this was a hard one to achieve in 2018. And with baby coming in 2019, I’m not stressing about it this year either. It will come eventually.
14. Get better about marketing on multiple channels
I did get better about promoting my blog content on Pinterest, but I still have a long way to go to maximize traffic to my site. I also wasn’t as active on Instagram as I would have liked.
15. Spend more time outside
In Miami, we did a lot more biking and beaching in the lead up to moving to Atlanta. We wanted to soak up as much Miami sun as we could!
16. Move more – especially riding my bike
Did do some bike riding, did some walking, but never enough!
17. Make a content calendar and stick to it
Nope, did not do this. Rolling it over for this year!
18. Learn how to bake really good sourdough bread 😉
YES! I did this!!!!! My sourdough isn’t perfect yet, but I did bake a lot of bread in 2018 and it RULED. This book is my bible for baking bread.
GOALS FOR 2019
1. Take a solid 3 months off after Baby Curl comes!
2. Publish 2 Skillshare Classes
3. Release 4 independent patterns
4. Do 4 commissions for yarn companies or publishers
5. Write 2 blog posts a month
6. Take a walk most days
7. Get really good at making sauces and dressings
8. Create a content calendar and stick to it!
9. Go on a vacation with Kyle before baby comes
10. Get dressed and ready every morning (LOL, sadly this does need to be a goal for me)
11. Be gentle with myself
12. See the magic in every day (magical is my word for 2019!
I’d love to hear from you – what did you learn in 2018 and what are some of your goals for 2019?