Each year there are a few vague prompts that are widely open to interpretation but can also leave people feeling a little stumped. There are also some which can be a little more difficult than others, so, I thought it would be a great idea to put together a blog post with some of my ideas and interpretations of the prompts. These are just my ideas and I'm not saying you should follow these! I'd like you to interpret them in your own way! Just think of this as a little help if you are a bit stuck!
If you're yet to download the planning sheet, you can do so by clicking here!
This prompt is hugely open to interpretation as it could be a story about anything in your making life! It could be a story about how you got into making, why you started your business, where you are from and how you ended up there, how you learnt your skills, was there a light bulb moment? At what point did you quit your day job (if you have!). What do you want to tell the world about you? There are so many opportunities to tell a story about your small business. The hardest part will be choosing one!
2. Hands at work
Show your hands mid make! What do they do? How hands on are your makes? Perhaps it's as simple as holding a pen or paint brush. Or perhaps they are dry from saw dust or are covered in clay from throwing pots. How do you use them? What do you put them through?
How long have you been doing this? How long did it take to learn your craft? How long does your average make take? What do you spend your time doing? Do you have a limited amount of time to get things done? How is your time spent?
Do you have a logo? What is it? Perhaps you have a certain style? A precise colour palette? Are you known for bold out there colours? Pretty pastels or monotones? Do you always use the same fonts? What is your brand about? What do you stand for? How do you tie it all together? What do you want your brand to say when people see it?
5. Close up
This is an opportunity to show a specific part of your product or process. Is there a detail you really like adding to a product? Perhaps it's a label, a stamp, or a hidden message. Or maybe a colour, a texture, or even a character singled out from an illustration. Focus on something that could be over looked or something that you particularly like or is special.
6. Reducing waste
What are you doing to reduce your impact on the environment? It could be as simple as switching from cello sleeves to eco sleeves or none at all. Perhaps you're trying to buy less plastic. Perhaps, you have some systems in place meaning nothing goes to landfill? Maybe your makes are made from recycled materials? Or maybe you're still in the research stages of it all and are looking at ways you can make a small difference. It doesn't have to be a huge gesture. All the small ones add up to bigger things!
Tell the world about the maker behind the makes. Who are you? Is it just you? Do you have a team? Introduce yourself. What do you like? Where are you based? Do you have any fun facts? What makes you, you?
8. Love to make
What do you enjoy making the most? Why do you love it so much? Is it the over all design, the process, the reaction from your customers or followers, or is it as simple as the colours or materials used? Why does it make you happy? Is it rewarding in some way? Perhaps theres a back story?
9. Rough / Mock up
What does your work look like during the design process? Do you create rough sketches? Do you make quick, scruffy looking mock ups to test the way it works? How does your design process look? Do you keep neat and tidy notes, or are you a scrawl over anything around you kind of person? How does the idea look before it's a polished piece?
10. Authentic space
This one is about showing how your space really looks! It's not about tidying it for the 'gram. It's about being honest, mess and all! Are you generally immaculate or are you surrounded by paper, lists, materials, off cuts and chaos! Workspaces can be spare bedrooms, offices, sheds, kitchen tables, and even your sofa! It's where ever you get creative! There is no right or wrong for this one.
Show us a product range (or even just a product) and tell us everything there is to know about it. Why did you make it? Why do you like it? Does it have a story? Who is it aimed at? What have people said about it? How long have you made these? Is it a new range? Perhaps it's your best seller. Either way, show off something you've made!
12. Learning curve
What has been your biggest learning curve or challenge that you have had to over come? Perhaps you're still in the middle of it? Are things how you thought they would be? What have you learnt from it? What you say to anyone else going through the same thing? It doesn't have to be anything big, perhaps you've had to learn a whole new skill set? Perhaps you've had to learn a new piece of software and it wasn't as easy as you expected? Or perhaps there has been something in your personal life which has made finding time to be creative difficult. It's all valid.
USP is your 'unique selling point'. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes you different or unique? Don't shy away and undersell yourself here. Be proud and really sell yourself! What do you have that your competitors don't? Are there unique materials, patterns, illustrations, or style? Or perhaps you're the first person to ever create this product?
14. Current project
What are you working on at the moment? How many projects have you got on the go? Are you working on new things? Are you working on your social media? Are you designing? Are you thinking up a new range? What's on your list? Perhaps you're giving your brand an over haul or working on your website? What is your current project?
What are you struggling with right now? Is there anything you need a little with or a second opinion on? Is there anything you'd like to know? Ask your audience a question, ask for their opinion or ask for help? Have you asked for help recently?Do you have any regular helpers? No matter which way you decide to look at it, it's important to remember to never be afraid to ask for help!
16. Self care
How do you unwind and take care of yourself? What do you do to chill out? Are you a get outside person? Or perhaps a big blanket and a book person? How do you switch off after a stressful day. Whilst this challenge is about your business, it's also important to show that it is okay to take to take a break and let your brain refuel.
17. Proud of
What are you proud of? And don't say 'nothing'! Because that's not true! It's not being big headed. It's all about celebrating things we are proud of today no matter how small. Perhaps it's having the courage to push yourself to do something that you were really nervous about and you did it anyway. Perhaps it's opening your Etsy shop or getting your first sale. Perhaps you've reached a milestone lately? Maybe you made a huge decision and you're so pleased that you did it? Or perhaps you said no to something and you feel loads lighter? Did you push yourself out of your comfort zone? Did you make 100 sales? Did you do a custom order that you really enjoyed? Perhaps you've had a tough week/month/year and you've managed to pull yourself through. Have a good think. It can be anything, I know you've got something!
18. Technique / Skills
Does your craft require a particular technique or skill? What have you had to learn to be able to make what you do? Is there a technique or skill that you are currently learning?
How do you pack up your orders? What do you use? Do you have branded stickers or stamps? How do you display your products? What do they come in? What materials do you use? Is it bright and colourful? Is it eco friendly? Perhaps you want some advice or feedback on yours? Or are looking for some ideas?
How do you market your products? Do you have any tips for others? Perhaps you're looking for new marketing ideas? Do you have a mailing list? Why should people join it? Are you on other social media? Why should people follow you there? How do you feel about marketing? Does it make your skin crawl? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why? Have you nailed it? What tips have you picked up over the years?
This one can be interpreted in so many ways! It could be how your business has changed over the last few years, or even something about it that you're thinking about changing in the near future. Maybe you've changed your mind recently about a style, product or material. It could be a completely new change of direction, craft or skill set.
22. Tools & Materials
What do you use to create your masterpieces? Do you have any fancy machines or beautiful materials? Needles and threads? Pots of pens? A well used paint palette? A great big slab of clay? What can't you live without? What do you use on a daily basis?
Where do you take your photos? Do you take them or hire a professional? Do you have a set up? Do you balance your makes in a window or use the kitchen table? Do you use a DSLR or do you use your phone? Do you use props? Do you have any fancy backgrounds, hints, tips or tricks?
24. Personal touch
How do you add a personal touch to your products or service? Do you create personalised items? Do you write a hand written thank you note? Do you add anything extra? Do you offer gift wrap? Or a send direct service?
25. How it’s made
Don't panic! I'm not asking for a step by step! Just a part of the process that you feel is interesting, enjoy, or doesn't get seen very often. What do you use? Materials? Are their specialist tools? How do you use them? Where do you make this product? Boomerang videos or hyperlapses (sped up videos) can work really well here.
26. This or that
Think of this as an opportunity to gather opinions! Do you prefer this colour way or that one? Do you prefer this design or that one? Would you buy this or that? Would you do this or that? Do you see where this is going?
27. Future goals
Where do you want to be in the future? What goals do you have for the next year? Next 5 years? Or even just for the next few months. What are you working towards?
How do you plan your time? How do you stay on schedule? How do you plan your makes? How do you plan anything? What do you use for your planning? Are you a notes every where person? Do you draw all over the walls? Do you have a monthly or yearly planner? Perhaps you write everything down in a diary or bullet journal?
29. Self promotion
It's exactly what it says on the tin. Get out there and promote yourself. Don't feel gross about doing it because you've been given permission to really go for it! (Not that you need permission or anything!). Tell us about something you've added to your shop recently? Tell us where to buy it? How much is it? Why are you good at what you do? Promote, promote, promote!
30. Work life balance
How do you balance your work life with your home life? Are you a workaholic? How do you separate the two? What do you have in place that ensures you get an equal (or as close to!) measure of both? What does your balance look like? What are you balancing? Is it more of a juggling act?
FAQs are your 'frequently asked questions'! Use this as a space to answer the questions you get asked over and over. Use it as an opportunity to do a little Q&A! If you don't have any FAQ's, make some up! For example, 'can you do XYZ in a custom colour?', or 'can I personalise that with a name?', or 'do you ship internationally?'. Use it as a chance to tell people about what you can do for them.
I hope these ideas have helped with anything that you have been stuck with! I look forward to seeing what you come up with! See you on the 'gram!