Your Best Year 2017 Book Review

This week I’m stepping out from my normal crochet book review and doing a different kind of book review. Your Best Year 2017 is a workbook & creative planner, but it is also SO much more. If you struggle with being productive, staying on track, not getting discouraged, etc. this book is exactly what you need.

 

Your Best Year 2017 is a productivity workbook & creative business planner. Stay on track, boost your sales, be more productive, and so much more with this workbook. Best investment I make with my business (and personal life) every year.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love! Not all links are affiliate links.

 

I found Marketing Creativity about 3 years ago when I was very close to giving up on my business. I was burnt out and wasn’t sure I had any more to give. The very first post I read from Lisa made me feel like she was an old friend. And the more I read her blog, the more it was obvious that she speaks to you in a down to earth tone, gives practical advice, and doesn’t make promises of getting you millions of sales or customers that just won’t happen.

With that being said, her workbook has put my business back on track. The first year I used it (Your Best Year 2015) I honestly didn’t use it to its fullest potential and I’m kicking myself now! This year (Your Best Year 2016) was my 2nd year using it and I’m already seeing a great return from the work I did put in. One of my main goals was to double my community of crochet readers and go from 10k readers (over all social media accounts) to 20k in one year. As of right now I’m on target to actually hit that goal! My tech editing income will come close to doubling what it was in 2015 also.

What seemed impossible back in January will now be a reality come December. Lisa’s workbook guides you through your biggest goals and dreams in order to make them a reality. My only regret….I should have made bigger goals, and reached for bigger stars – but they just seemed too big, audacious, and unrealistic at the time.

 

Your Best Year 2017

 

Planning for a successful year with the Your Best Year 2017 creative planner and workbook.

 

The new and updated yby2017 is full of new prompts to help you review 2016, get you thinking about your goals for 2017, and activities to make sure you accomplish those goals and stay on task. Lisa’s also added a time management worksheet (I need this one most!), a “getting your goals” section, as well as sections to work through about being vulnerable, building trust, and breaking through limitations – to name just a few. There are also action steps you can take, progress logs to show you how far you’ve come, and my favorite – the abundance tracker. I started using the abundance tracker when Lisa first mentioned it a few months ago. It’s truly amazing to see where my income comes from daily and for me I’ve learned to set smaller daily income goals as well as a yearly overall income goal.

 

Creatives aren’t all Business

 

But honestly, I think the best part of this business planner is that it isn’t all business. As a creative entrepreneur our home life and our business end up blending together. Without us even realizing it the lines can get fuzzy and the two become one entity sometimes. So, instead of fighting it, Lisa’s workbook has us consider both together. Genius! This book is 138 pages of strategies and actionable steps to help you meet every business and personal goal you have.

 

To be fully honest in my review…

 

I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I first opened the planner and realized the monthly overview calendars are gone this year. I had started using my yby2016 as my monthly blog planner in addition to everything else it had to offer. But the more I dug into this new version, the more I realized it is fully worth going back to a separate monthly calendar. This year’s version is pure business building strategies that have left me feeling like anything is possible. 

 

Do What Scares You…..

 

Never again will I sell myself short by not believing in myself. I worked through the exercise of writing down how much I wanted to make, how to get there, etc. When I saw the numbers I doubted myself. It seemed too out of reach. I saw the goals I did stick with come true, so I won’t make the same mistake twice.

This year I’m reaching for the moon! Even if I don’t hit it, I’ll land among the stars. 

I guarantee if you purchase this planner, and use it to it’s fullest potential, you will not be disappointed. It will be the best $20 you spend, as you will reap long term investments.

 

Happy Planning!

  
*Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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17 Before 2017 – Plan Ahead, Finish Strong!

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about how fast this year flew by and realizing how many things we didn’t finish. After creating a 16 Before 2016 last year, I decided this is a great practice to get into for the 4th quarter of the year. So, I’ve spent the past week thinking and contemplating on what is important enough to be added to my 17 Before 2017 list, and what can just be deleted or forgotten about.

 

17 Before 2017 - Plan Ahead, Finish Strong -List 17 Things to accomplish before 2017 *This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love! Not all links are affiliates.

17 Before 2017

 

As the end of each year approaches, most people make an decision to finish strong. You start running around like crazy to get things done, you reflect on your resolutions that you never followed through with, and you vow that 2017 will be different. Am I close? I know, because I used to be one of those people.

Then I decided to start planning and be more intentional with my time and my hours. People ask me all the time how I do it, and my response is usually, “I don’t think about it.” But the reality of it is actually the opposite, I think about it all the time. That’s why I always having a running to do list, and I never seem to be able to get caught up. And if I leave home without my planner I freak out!

17 Before 2017 - Plan Ahead, Finish Strong -List 17 Things to accomplish before 2017

 

Making a Plan

My days are crazy, even with a routine. I homeschool 5 of our children, we are at the dance studio 5 days a week, and I own my own business. Because all the aspects of my life fit together I made a list with both personal and business goals for the end of the year. I’m sure you can relate. We all have crazy schedules. It’s time to make a plan and finish strong! That’s where the 17 before 2017 list comes into play.

 

Personal

 

1. Lose 15 lbs  This might sound like a lot, but it should be doable. Last summer I had just gotten down to the weight I was after my 4th child (I have 6). It took me 3 years to get to that point, but I felt so good. Then I had knee surgery and gained 18 lbs in 7 months. That was 13 months ago. Long story but I’m back in a leg brace (broken ankle) so I’m going back to my no-impact workout that helped me lose the first 20 lbs I had lost. I’m determined not to stay stuck at this weight. I want to feel good again! I was going to aim for 4 lbs a month, but decided to work for 5 lbs each month, for the rest of the year.

2. Exude Confidence (in a totally healthy, good way)…. It’s my word of the year for 2016, so I thought now we be the perfect time to go back and reflect on the post I wrote in January. While I feel like I’ve made progress, I know I still have a long way to go.

3. Read 3 books – I try to do some personal development reading every day. For the remainder of the year I want these books to focus on confidence (see #2).

4. Finances – Track income and expenses daily. I’ve always had a feeling/fear of not having enough. I’m hoping by tracking income and expenses daily it will help me see the abundance that I do have.

5. Finish schoolroom – When we moved in here all our unpacked boxes went in our schoolroom. It was out of the way while I was recovering from my knee surgery. Well, the boxes are still sitting there. It’s time to finish once and for all.

6. Clean/Destash girl’s room – I’m embarrassed to admit that my younger girl’s room is a mess. When I couldn’t really do stairs for 3 months after my surgery it was one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things. Now it’s in a condition I can’t stand. It’s time to get rid of the extra clothes, etc. and make it a happy, resting place again.

7. Block schedule my time. This is for both work and personal, but I feel like I’ll get more done if I can implement some kind of schedule.

 

 

Business

 

8. Finish all unpublished patterns – Seriously! I have about 6 patterns I made, and even started to write, but never finished when we moved last year. It’s time to get them published!

9. Yarn Destash – Sell approx. 50% of my yarn stash. This is a twofold goal: it will make my stash reasonable so my kids will stop telling people I own a small yarn store, and it help pay for some of my girls’ dance competition fees.

10. Double My Crochet Community: One of my goals for 2016 was to grow my followers over all of my social media platforms to 20K. At some point I just decided to reach for the stars and add that extra couple thousand and double it. Rather than focus on the monthly increase I am hoping for, I’m just going to focus on the year-end numbers.  Some of my accounts won’t even come close to doubling and others are picking up that slack. This has been an interesting process for me to watch and see which platforms work better for me. The total is listed at the bottom because this is not all of my social media accounts, just the bigger ones.

Growth Goals:
Blog Newsletter – 1,110 to 2,220 – 1,269 
Facebook – 6,433 – 12,866 – 6,929
Pinterest – 1,352 to 2,704 – 6,717 
Twitter – 486 – 972 – 651
Instagram – 0 – 500 – 301
Total – 10,941 – 21,882 – 17,675 

Mathematically that’s a little over 60% growth so far which means I still have quite a ways to go.

11. Organize bookkeeping for taxes – I want to be prepared ahead of time – before tax season gets here. Getting this done before the end of the year will be a huge relief off my shoulders.

12. Work through YBY2017 – Absolutely the best planner for goal setting. If I had to attribute only one thing to keeping me on track this year it would be Lisa’s workbook. (Be on the lookout next week for my review of her 2017 workbook!)

13. Batch my work tasks – I’ve heard of this before and as I’ve been tweaking my schedule to try to accomplish more I’m thinking this might be a huge help. Now it’s a matter of sitting down and working tasks into my schedule where they’ll fit best.

14. Create an editorial calendar – I did this for my Design Your Own Pattern Series. Plan everything in advance. It makes a HUGE difference in your stress level – and it feels good!

15. Treat my business like a real job – I love my job. Designing and tech editing give me passion. But I don’t have hours and I just wing it. It’s time I started treating my business like a real job instead of a hobby that I only do when I feel like it. I will create and implement work hours, and stick to them!

16. Create a marketing plan – I’m terrible about emails, social media, etc. and I go through phases. I will go weeks and be diligent, then fizzle. A simple marketing plan will be key to keeping me on track.

17. 24 response rate – I used to have a 24 hour response rate, most of the time it was just a few hours. As I had more kids and got busier my response rate started to slip, as well as my inbox. My goal: start with inbox 0 and return to the excellent customer service I was always told I had.

 

SEPTEMBER

To keep in line with my promise to track my goals for the entire year, here is my Sept. review.

DAILY GOALS:

  1. Personal/Business Development
  2. Review my monthly goal list daily
  3. Track my business income daily
  4. Track my personal expenses daily
  5. Workout (limited while my ankle is still in a brace)

MONTHLY GOALS:

  1. Track income and expenses daily.
    I tracked my income but wasn’t as diligent about tracking my expenses.
  2. Finish creating editorial calendar for 2016.
    Started this.
  3. Make my holiday t0-make list.
  4. Create holiday budget checklist.
  5. Create 2 new patterns to publish.
    Baby Heartbeat Reversible Afghan set
    Climbing Ivy Super Scarf
  6. Finish and publish 2 unfinished patterns.
    Moved to 17 before 2017.
  7. Publish 8 blog posts.
  8. Spend 10-15 min/3x day on social media growth.
    Growth Goals:
    Blog Newsletter – 1,258 to 1,300 – 1,269
    Facebook – 6,929 – 7k – 6,929
    Pinterest – 6,474 to 7k – 6,717
    Twitter – 651 – 700 – 651
    Instagram – 272 – 300 – 301
  9. Stay on track with the goals that I made in YBY planner.
  10. Create block schedule for work/family/homeschool.

 

17 Before 2017

To sum it up in one phrase; we’re all just a work in progress. Take one baby step, then another – this will give you momentum towards getting your list done. Be productive and you’ll start to see progress which will push you forward into 2017.

If you’ve made a 17 Before 2017 list I would love to read it. You can either link in the comments or tag me on social media.

 

Happy Crocheting!

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The 3 P’s of a Professional Crochet Designer

I’m going to go out on a limb here when I say that there is a difference between a crochet designer and a professional crochet designer. One word can make a huge difference and that word is professional. The word professional when used as an adjective (as I did in my title) means “following an occupation as a means of livelihood.” Someone who is designing patterns as part of their livelihood or using it for income is a professional. But if you’re going to be a professional there are certain things that you should be doing to make sure you’re also acting the part.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - The 3 P's of a Professional Crochet Designer

 

Welcome to Part 8 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series will guide you through the basics of crochet pattern design. If you are just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

 

The 3 P’s of a Professional
Crochet Designer

 

 

Process – Make a process that works for you. Don’t try to follow someone else’s lead. Be your own original.

Product – Don’t skip any steps. Have someone test your pattern and even have a tech editor look at it before you publish it. You want your patterns to be as close to perfect as they can be when your customers purchase them.

People – In addition to your patterns, please don’t forget about your customers. People are the most important thing, no matter what! In fact, I believe that customer service is a key element. I can’t tell you how many emails I get asking for pattern help because the designer they purchased a pattern from doesn’t return their requests for help. Respond to emails and be polite in your replies even if your customers seem rude or belligerent.

 

Be a Professional Crochet Designer

 

Almost anyone can design a crochet pattern but you should want your work and your patterns to stand out above the rest. Acting like a professional is a good way to put your customers first so you will have happy, returning customers.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

Should you charge for patterns or offer them for free? That is the question many designers struggle with. It’s even been a popular topic in some crochet groups, and it can become a heated discussion at times. Before you make any decisions there are a few things to consider.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Should You Charge for Your Patterns - The free vs paid dilemma

 

Welcome to Part 7 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series guides you through the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

Should You Charge for Patterns?
The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Should you charge for your patterns? There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, it’s more of a preference. But there are some things you should at least think about and consider. The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you’re just sharing your patterns as a hobby or do you want this to be a business? If it’s going to be a business venture then you need to decide how you’re going to make money (Ex: Are you going to have a website set up, or if you’re going to use a site like Ravelry for your patterns, or even both). There are various reasons each designer chooses the path they take. If this is your hobby, you can pretty much choose either without recourse. For today’s purposes, I’m only going to list one very obvious difference that comes from a business perspective.

Free Patterns

When a designer offers their patterns for free, the majority of the time they have ads on their website and that’s where their income comes from. I personally decided from the very beginning that I did not want ads on my website. (I do have a few affiliates which is slightly different.)

 

Paid Patterns

When a designer charges for their patterns it is because they are charging for their work, and not relying on outside sources of income. I charge for my patterns – this is my business and I need to make money – but I do from time to time offer a free pattern on my website, or even coupon codes for a discount or free pattern.

 

Another thing to consider is this – most paid patterns will be tested and possibly even tech edited. That cost is somehow left to the designer if they don’t charge when they sell them.

There are always exceptions, but the majority of designers I know would fall into one of those 2 reasons. Whichever way you decide to offer your patterns just make sure you believe in your decision because you will always have those who will not agree with you or question it. Stand firm and know you’re doing what’s right for you and your business.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters

 

Happy Designing!

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Basic Copyright for Crocheters

Most designers have seen a pattern and thought that they could take it and put their own spin on it. Or they’ve come up with a great idea by seeing something else. There is a fine line between an original design and copy someone else’s work. Some things border on that fine line, while others are just plain and simple wrong. Let’s take a basic look at some copyright issues.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Basic Copyright for Crocheters

 

Welcome to Part 6 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series guides you through the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

Basic Copyright for Crocheters

 

The term “copyright” gets thrown around a lot in the crochet world, but what exactly is copyright? Copyright, by webster’s definition, is “the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 70 years after his or her death.” 

What does all that mean in layman’s terms? It means don’t copy someone else’s work, plain and simple. There are a bunch of legal aspects that I am choosing not to cover because I’m not a lawyer and don’t want to misspeak, but here are 5 things that are a given.

 

Do Not . . . . 

 

Copy Other designs

Some people claim they look at an item and can figure out how to crochet it so they don’t need to buy the pattern. That’s great, but that doesn’t mean you can then write the pattern and sell it as your own. Plenty of designers get ideas from crochet pieces they see. But they come up with their own ideas or spin on what they’ve seen. I’ve heard figures of everything from 10% – 20% needs to be changed, but an article from Vogue Knitting states that there is not legal percentage. It has more to do with whether or not your interpretation relies too heavily on their idea. Even if you take their design and write your own pattern for it, it’s still violating copyright.

Rewrite or Share Patterns

Do not take a purchased (or free) copy of a pattern and rewrite it into your own words/terms. Just as you cannot copy a pattern and “reword” it to make it your own, you also cannot share a pattern you have purchased with a friend. Even if the design is free, send them to the designer.

Use Someone Else’s Photos

Do not share photos from a designer to sell your finished product of that item, or for any other purpose. I once purchased a crochet book and to my surprise found one of my tutorial photos used in the book! That’s copyright infringement!

Make or Sell any Logo Items

NFL, NASCAR, Star Wars, Disney, Pokemon, etc. – they are all copyrighted, and without permission you are violating a copyright law. And believe me, they will take you down if they choose to. Companies like these have been know to police Etsy on a regular basis, not to mention they have had shop’s that violate their trademarks closed. That’s being nice. They have the right to sue you for thousands if they choose to.

Make or Sell Characters

If you create a pattern, or a physical item (hat, blanket, etc) to visually look like a character from a movie you are still infringing on their trademark. Most companies (like Disney) register the look of the character as well. (Ex: Storm trooper helmets have a trademark attached to them and you cannot make any helmet/hat to look like it.)

Use Character Names

Come up with your own original pattern name. Honestly, there are some names you could easily argue and get away with (Ex: Pocahontas headband). But there are others that are too obvious to be your original idea (Ex: Minions). Many companies also trademark their character names. (See the Star Wars link above. Disney is suing a company that makes holograms because they are calling themselves LEIA – and Pokemon is suing a company for using the word Pokemon in their name).

 

Be Original

 

Things like the granny square do not have a copyright, but if you were to copy either the design for my Vintage 60’s prayer shawl, or the written pattern itself, that would be copyright infringement.

You want your pattern to be original because it will represent you and your brand. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it, but it’s not worth it. Be original. Be yourself.

If you need help coming up with design ideas, see my post: Finding the Perfect Design Ideas.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Creating Your Crochet Brand

When I began designing 9 years ago I didn’t think about things like branding. I didn’t ever think that almost 10 years later there would be hundreds of designers and I would need to distinguish myself from everyone else out there. Yet, here I am trying to be seen in a sea of creatives that are doing the same thing as me and I’ve been wondering – would my customers be able to pick my patterns out of a lineup with other designers? I’m not sure the answer is yes. So I’ve been working on creating a brand for my crochet designs that will help my customers know my work from other designers’ and make it easier for them to find me.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Creating Your Brand

 

Welcome to Part 4 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series will guide you through some of the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

 

Creating Your Brand

 

The definition of brand is “a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic.” Tons of brand name companies have made themselves distinctive in some way. Nike has the all familiar check mark logo. In the crochet world you would be able to pick out the Red Heart logo, or Tulip Crochet Hooks with their signature gray cushion on the handle. I don’t even need to show you the photos! These brands have distinguished themselves among the competition because of their branding.

Branding is the action (verb) form of the word brand. It’s creating a brand for your crochet designs that will make you stand out. What will you do to set your brand apart from everyone else? How will you make your items/patterns recognizable?

 

Branding Ideas

 

Earlier in this series we talked about finding your designing niche. While your niche is more about narrowing down what you want to specialize in, branding is more about how you’re going to market your items to your customers. Your brand doesn’t always have to be a logo. Sometimes it’s just a “look” you have adapted into your business such as color, photography, and designing elements. Here are some designers and businesses that have done a superb job at their branding!

 

Color

 

Color is a great way to brand your designs. Below I have 2 very different examples of how these 2 ladies have perfectly branded their designs using color. Heidi from Snappy Tots uses bright and happy colors, mixed with fun and sometimes whimsical designs. Heidi May from The Velvet Acorn uses neutral colors and has an outdoor, woodsy feel to her designs. But both of these ladies patterns are fully recognizable by the way they have branded their designs.

 

   Snappy_mediumSnappy Tots

 

The Velvet Acorn

 

 

Photography

 

Photography is another great way to brand yourself. DROPS Designs has done an amazing job making their patterns recognizable by their photography. All of their photos use either the water or the mountains in the background and I can pick out one of their patterns very easily.

 

Free PatternDrops Designs/GarnStudio

Design Elements

 

I’m spotlighting Shelby Allaho’s designs here because she has done a fantastic job with branding her designs. She creates items that stand out as her own and I can tell one of her designs as soon as I see it. She uses things you would see in every day life and then finds a way to incorporates them into her designs. The reason I’m including this here, instead of in my Finding Your Niche post, is because it’s about her using this as her brand. Anyone can use neckwear as their niche, but you won’t be able to spot a specific designer unless they brand themselves.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series: Creating Your Brand - Shelby AllahoShelby Allaho

 

Please note: Do not copy these ladies! Come up with your own strategy. These are just examples of what can be done with branding.

 

You want your customers to be able to spot your patterns before they know that it’s you and branding will be such an important way for you to get recognized and noticed. Narrowing down your niche and then creating your brand will help you create patterns your customers will love.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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