I am such an occasional writer these days, but I have had many ideas to share with little time to share them aside from twitter. These end in long form rants that are in fragments that get my point across, but may sound a bit insane. As you may or may not know I have been a part of a group called I Heart Art PDX that has been putting on low or no cost programming around building your small creative business, professionalism and valuing your time. Okay, maybe that isn’t the official tag-line, but that has been what it has turned out to be. We are nearing the end of our second year, and making some decisions on sustainability for our program, and we just put on a conference about sustainability called Hello Etsy. I am not going to talk in depth about these things here, but you can read about them on their own sites. Right now my involvement with I Heart Art is inspiring me to write about a variety of more business related topics.
A bit of background: I seem to have a knack of knowing where to put myself at the right time. I can see in the room the person to stand next to, or what show to go to or what corner to turn or what place to be for my next opportunity. I am not particularly aggressive about it, I just look for where my next opportunity might lie and go there. I don’t always know what the opportunity will be, just that I need to be open to a possibility, and go to the place. It isn’t about being in the right place at the right time, it is about paying attention to where your next opportunity might lie, and go there. The next time you are drawn to someone, just go up to them and say hello, and see what happens. I happened to be at a talk with Matt Stichcomb from Etsy, and I just happened to run into some friends there, and I just happened to find myself in a meeting with Matt and about a dozen people at eight o’clock in the morning (and for those of you who know me, I am NOT a morning person). I went because I was drawn to an opportunity. I had no idea where it would lead me, but I knew that it was important.
These few people (some have moved on, some are still here on the leadership council) are the group that started I Heart Art Portland. A pilot program sponsored by Etsy, PNCA, The Museum of Contemporary Craft and the PDX Etsy Street Team. We have brought innovative education programs, and events to the arts community here in Portland, Oregon. The opportunity to be a part of the creation of this group and this program came at a time where I was seeing some success on the Etsy site, and gaining an online following. I had recently left my old art collective; which had left a bit of a hole. I found myself being asked by a few too many acquaintances to help them start their Etsy shops, organize sales events, or general things that I had experience with. I didn’t feel that I was willing to give up my experience and expertise for free, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of charging for it either. I Heart Art Portland came along at the exact right time. It gave me a group to work with who provided to a broader spectrum of people what individuals were asking of me. It gave me a place to refer people looking for advice on starting and running small creative business.
The group of people behind the scenes at I Heart Art Portland are truly amazing. Our first event went off without much fuss. It was incredibly well attended. Etsy sent us people. We had beer and cake. We all got along, there were no real disasters, no technical glitches, no bickering or infighting; in short a extraordinary group. Most of the last two years has gone this way; even when we were thrown some major events with short deadlines. Even though I was a part of these accomplishments, I am still in awe of what we have managed to accomplish. In a way, I think that is part of allowing yourself to be open to the possibilities. I placed myself in the right place at the right time, because I saw an opportunity there. I have gained a ton of knowledge, and I have been allowed the opportunity to share that with my community in a way that makes more of a difference than if I sit at home behind a computer all day.
Last Sunday, on the heels of last week’s Hello Etsy conference, I got to spend the entire day with the leadership counsel reviewing the year’s accomplishments, tossing around ideas, and writing a plan to make our program sustainable. All of these discussions and Hello Etsy made me feel a grand shift in my thinking about my own business too. An overall theme of my life seems to be a realisation of something that I was missing that had been there all along. For instance: using timed tweets and writing an editorial calendar with all the links in one place to market the Hello Etsy conference. I knew about timed tweets for two years, but why had it never occurred to me to use them? And why didn’t I research links and write a plan in advance for the marketing? Such a time saver! I wouldn’t have to research the same thing over and over. It was right there all along, and I didn’t do it. A small thing, but a major revelation. And I have been meaning to write business posts all along, but have never gotten around to doing it.
I came home from our day long council retreat exhausted, but inspired, and I wrote quite a bit. Enough for several blogs worth. Things I was afraid to say, but need to be said. This blog is about process, but this is part of my process too. There is so much more to running my business than making things. Part of my creative process is ideas. My ideas are just as much of a creation as something I make with my hands. Ideas are meant to be shared and discussed. Today’s idea is putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It works for me; it may be something you might like to consider too.