Crafty Business: Project Development

I’ve had quite a few people comment to me lately, “If only I was as adventurous as you, I could have gotten so much done by now.” Or “How do you do so much? How do you get so many opportunities?” I think the crafty business series is a good place to approach both. Breaking projects out into steps is the best tool I have for approaching any project that seems crazy overwhelming.

People often follow up their questions with complete shock when they learn I struggle with anxiety and depression just about every day. This is something I don’t bring up a whole lot, but I do have a lot of issues with anxiety and depression.  Thankfully, I’m doing pretty a-okay lately because of sleep routines, diet, exercise, light meds (the right birth control oddly enough or maybe not so odd), and vigilant self examination to make sure I’m not literally driving myself crazy.

I would think many of the projects below were impossible if I looked just at the end result. It would literally send me into a panic attack, immobilize me. By stepping them all out, they are approachable, some are even easy. As I complete each step, the end objective doesn’t seem so crazy and overwhelming. It’s just the natural next step.  Getting started on a project is often the largest milestone.

You may have noticed that within my weekly schedule, I have Tuesday marked down as project development. What does that mean? Well, a bunch of things. It’s obviously for planning out which kits to add to the shop next, research for new patterns, and research for new posts. But, it’s also a day to check in on myself.

Project development for me has both short and long term meaning. Sure I map out the above, but I also set goals on readership, mailing list numbers, shop sales, and which craft fairs I want to participate in. I also look at long term goals for myself, the blog, my work. What do I want CLM to look like in 6 months? Twelve months? How many contributors do I want to have? What’s my goal for my studio work? Do I want to show my studio art publicly?

There are so many projects at any given point that it’s a great idea to have a day to take a chunk of time to examine it all, to see what needs to get done in the short and long term. What steps do I need to take move from having a modest to a large readership?

Making the statement “I want to increase my readership by 2011” means nothing without the specific steps in place. So let’s take that goal as our project development example. The project heading would be “Increase Readership.”

Note: I like saying “project” vs. “goal” because it’s implicit that I’m acting on something. It’s in the works. It’s not “someday I hope it happens.” Goal smoal. It’s in the mix. It’s started. It’s my current ongoing project.

Project 1: Increasing Readership

Start with as many questions as you can think of then seek out the answers. Most likely those answers will lead to more questions. Jot those down too and find more answers.

Increase by how much? What’s my specific target number? 37k unique visits a month? 50k? I think having 41k by 2011 is a pretty reasonable goal. That’s about a 25% increase in readership. Doable. Last year I increased readership by 65%, from 22k a month to 35k a month. But I think things are starting to level out a bit, which is natural and not a bad sign at all.

So new project title:

Increase Readership by 25% by January 2011

How the heck do I do that?
-tweet about all new posts
-facebook status all posts
-focus on putting out quality posts each day
-increase posts per day
-comment on other people’s blogs
– read other people’s blogs in general.
-go through “Making a Great Blog: A Guide for Creative People + Worksheet Pack” again to brush up on ideas.
– go through “Creating a Blog Audience: An Unconventional Marketing Guide + Worksheet Pack” again to brush up on marketing ideas.
– guest post on other people’s blogs
– increase twitter followers
– tweet more throughout the day–things other than blog post and shop updates.
– increase the number of people who rss feed
– add more a prominent way for readers to subscribe to the rss feed on the blog pages

As I start doing each one of these things, more questions will arise–especially when I go through Diane’s ebook series again.

Once I have a pretty good grasp of what needs to get done, I start setting up task lists for myself. Put little things to get done/work on each day and each week. Some things I can even add into my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

Each Tuesday I always check in on all the statuses of all my ongoing projects.

Right now, I’m working on a few big projects:

1. Writing a book (post about that coming soon, I swear, haha)
2. Writing an ebook (actually just finished, check out the post later this afternoon for the details and where to get your copy).
3. Painting a 12×80 foot community mural this summer.
4. Showing my work in galleries more with the objective of a solo show in the beginning of 2011 and applying for a few residencies in Feb./March 2011. (just posted about going from not showing work to applying for residencies in a year’s time on KroStudio).
5. Drawing everyday.
6. Working out 3 times a week.
7. Increase the scope of Ames programming.
8. Increase Craft Leftovers readership.

All 8 of these projects are huge. Each take a lot of time and commitment. Each one would be quite impossible if I didn’t have about 10-30 steps planned out that will make each one happen, a step at a time.

The first step for having a solo show was “draw every day.” The second step? “Post about daily drawings.” After that? “Submit one work a month to an open submission show.” All the small steps build up to an impressive body of work and CV after just one year.

I read an great article on this topic in the current issue of Art Calendar (Feb. 2010). I am also currently reading a book called the Now Habit that has quite a few insights into getting starting, stepping projects out, and overcoming procrastination. I highly recommend both!

Happy crafting and good luck with your crafty business!

10 thoughts on “Crafty Business: Project Development

  1. This is a really inspiring post.

    I’ve been struggling lately with working on large projects. I often break down them down into smaller steps but not always about writing them down. Definitely need to get back in the habit.

    Thanks for the boost.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I really appreciate the time you take to explain how you make this work for you. I often get daunted by how much there is to do and as a result get paralyzed and get little accomplished. Thanks!

  3. What a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing all this great insight with all of us. I’m totally tweeting this out tomorrow. XO

  4. I’m always feeling overwhelmed by all I have before me. This post – it helps. I’ve never thought of what I do in terms of “project development” but this is really, really helpful.

  5. Wow, this is wonderful! I’m so impressed and inspired. And a little less overwhelmed now. Your tips are fantastic. I’ll be linking.

  6. Very inspiring and thought provoking. I do not suffer anxiety, but certainly struggle with my get-up-and-go in the winter months here in MI. These last couple years crafting has really helped save the day, and I can see how doing a better job planning as you do would make it even better. Thanks for your openness and generously sharing your hard won wisdom. :)

  7. Great post! Very good advice. I’ve heard of people who actually plan out all the crafts they’re going to do for the whole year – which sounds like a little much for me, but I think I could definitely benefit from some more planning.


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