Updated: Apr 22, 2020
It's blooming nerve wracking launching. I feel as though I've kinda launched several times- first when I made the huge decision to really 'do pottery' rather than steady employment, it's like launching into the abyss. Then later when I joined social media under a business name- my name and feeling like I've launched myself into some spotlight and it's just me squinting and squirming. Then finally, when I launched my online shop I found that difficult for so many reasons- self doubt is a bitch.
My dad taught me many things growing up but perhaps most important for me right now, is to JUST DO IT. So although fear was taking a very real grip in the form of sleepless nights, occasional nausea and eating way, way, way too much- I did take the leap.
These are the things I've found helped:
1) Keep putting things into the perspective of: I am learning.
It's the 'I'm new here' card- cling to it for as long as you need. I'm onto that baby for at least 5 years. At each new hurdle allow yourself the room to learn (make errors). My pricing doesn't have to be right, it just has to be a start. My promotion doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to teach me something. My website doesn't have to be spot on, it just has to say what I want it to say. My social media doesn't have to have loads of followers, just ones that are genuinely interested.
2) Get reassurance
It is totally fine to seek reassurance. Not everyone is built swimming in self confidence and seeking a little pep talk from your most enthusiastic of friends doesn't make you weak or even dependant on what others think. It means you need support and tell me, what human doesn't need support and positivity around them. Just don't go talking to negative nelly - if they start offering their jaded view on things politely tell them your kettles just boiled, must dash.
3) Don't compare yourself to others
Social media is a great thing, it really is. You can self promote, display your skills and best pieces and generally get a great following by being honest and yourself. Brilliant. But it's also swamped full of other people also doing the same and in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. I've spent many a 3am insta-stalking session feeling deflated (and tired). But just don't look if it's going to make you feel bad. For genuine interest and research, yes. But 3am online stalking is a no. Probably any kind of stalking is a no.
4) Plan your steps.
It was seriously and sickenly overwhelming thinking of all the things I had to do- website, social media (which ones?), stocking up, sorting out the studio and so on. I picked two things I HAD to do to launch- for me it was an online shop and choose one social media channel to start with to send people to my online shop. I chose my own website and Instagram. Once these were up and running comfortably and I had launched I then looked at what else to introduce and next came Pinterest and then later a Facebook page. My next steps will look at etsy, collaborations with other creatives and upping my photography game.
5) Don't take it all on
Similar to the last one, but remaining true to limiting what you do, to what you can actually do. If I had a choice I'd be flooding all social media channels with my ceramics to drive sales but the truth is that I neither have the time, knowledge or the inclination to do that. I want to potter not spend my life on Facebook! I strongly feel that it's better to do one or two social channels well rather than barely keeping 5-6 mediocre pages afloat.
6) Doesn't have to be perfect
Nope. Repeat IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. I would LOVE to spend more time on better photography, better videos. Even more than that I would LOVE to already have my niche- what is recognisably my work. But if I waited for the money to afford a good camera and waited to learn how to use that good camera then I'd be starting out two years from now. And if I waited for me to find my niche- well I'd never get started now would I? That's not to say those things aren't important. They are crucial to the longevity of your business. But hone your skills ON the job not BEFORE the job and I reckon you'll learn quicker and do it differently adapting to your audience as you go.
It's been a massive learning curve but I am so glad I jumped in. It's like ripping a bandaid off a hairy arm and trying to keep a big smile on your face. GO (OUCH) TADAH! If you have a dream that you are obsessing about, then I urge you to jump too. Remember it's a massive learning curve (isn't life always). Allow yourself the room to 'fail' - and the courage to look at that failure and to let it teach you something.