We’ve been talking a lot about strategic business growth this week, but let’s not forget about another area of growth – creative growth. Specifically, I want to talk about how investing in your creative growth can actually help your business.
One of the biggest challenges in the crafts community, especially if you sell in a marketplace like Etsy, is that a lot of products start to look the same. It’s not surprising that this is the case. Most of us have the same aesthetic influences. (Hello, Design*Sponge and Anthropologie.) And many people are working with the same skill sets. The result is that it’s difficult to differentiate from many of the other products on the market.
So how do you get your products to stand out?
Learn a new skill.
And by learn a new skill, I don’t mean jumping to another form of craft. If you’re a knitter, don’t feel like you should learn screenprinting. (That might confuse your brand.) Instead, think of your chosen craft as a ladder. The most basic skills are the bottom rungs. And there are a lot of people hanging out on the bottom rungs. But what if you were to investigate your craft and learn a new technique or a more complicated skill, you could climb further up the ladder, where it’s less crowded. And a new technique doesn’t necessarily mean something that takes longer. (I make most of my jewelry through welding – the process doesn’t take any longer than most other metals skills, but the technique sets my work apart.)
Of course, you can differentiate your products through good design as well. But good design and a unique skill – that’s a one-two punch that might deliver the knockout product you’ve been looking for.
So how do you go about developing your skills?
- Take a class. Local art and community centers, your local crafts guild, community colleges – these all have places where you can take a class or workshop to learn a new technique and hone your skills.
- Teach yourself. You can certainly pick up a book or use the Internet to learn a new skill. Just beware, many of these are the same basic skills that everyone else is learning. Look for books that help you master more advanced skills.
- Go to craft summer camp. What could be a better way to develop your craft then spending a few weeks in a beautiful location, with a well-stocked studio, surrounded by other makers? If this is your idea of heaven, check out places like Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont, and Peters Valley.
While the idea of taking a class or spending a week at Penland may seem like a luxury, you should actually think about it as an investment in your business. Your products are the core of your business, and learning a new skill may just be the thing you need to set your business apart and see it grow.