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My Self-Employment Journey – How I Created My Own Job While Dealing with PTSD

THE BEGINNING OF MY SELF-EMPLOYMENT JOURNEY


Let’s rewind to October 2018. I had been studying to become a social and health care assistant for 2 months and had tried to balance a normal life as a student while dealing with PTSD – meaning being in constant high alert.

I was exhausted all the time from never being able to relax. One day felt like a week and I knew that if I had to continue studying I would also have to do intern work full time for 1,5 years and I just realised that I couldn’t take 3,5 years of this.

MY PTSD-SYMPTOMS

Being in constant high alert for me meant having a racing heart, being hypervigilant – always being aware of my surroundings, being hyper sensitive to other people’s actions, words, facial expressions, tone of voice and body language, sweating and blushing if someone just approached me, feeling a sense of doom around every corner – that something would give me a huge shock which would send me over the edge. It felt like having a gun pointed to my head all the time, not being able to breathe freely or relax, feeling in constant danger.

At the same time I had flashbacks every day. Often a teacher would forget about me and I was sent right back into childhood and felt so shameful, that the whole world hated me and I was unlovable which made me feel more unsafe.

At the same time it was like I had another life on the side (crocheting and selling crochet tops), that was more interesting, fun and filled with freedom – but a life that I thought to myself would always be an illusion, something unattainable and unimaginable for me.

TRYING TO FIT IN



I thought that I would have to live a normal life – work a full time job somewhere so I could provide for my children, go traveling, buy a house etc. Then I realised I actually didn’t want children, that I was happy about living in my tiny apartment and not owning my own place and don’t feel a need to go traveling – I just wanted to feel safe and I was happy of the though of just earning enough to get by and feel relaxed. But it felt like my small expectations of freedom and relaxation was still not possible.

Even a 10-15 hours job would still mean I had to be in constant stress and discomfort just to earn money to pay my bills. On its own the thought of earning money was so stressful to me.

BEING GASLIGHTED BY THE SYSTEM

During the next 10 months – from October 2018 to August 2019 I was unemployed.

I was broken down, but I still had to fight the battle alone – the battle of authorities not taking my mental health serious and just wanting to get me through the system as fast as possible – into any job (even if that would mean I would then break down again, get back into the system again). It felt like screaming into an empty corridor only hearing my own voice echo back, no response, no empathy, no belief in me.

I have heard of so many people experiencing the exact same thing as me. If you didn’t look depressed, anxious or suicidal then you are not. Imagine how traumatic this is when you have been dealing with being gaslighted your whole life and then the authorities a that were suppossed to help you continue the gaslighting.

BEING IN THE SYSTEM WORSENED MY PTSD

In the end just stepping into the job center to have my weekly meeting with a social worker I would sit with the hands over my head and at the same time my thumbs in my ears to block out sound and light. I learned to be completely inside myself, because I knew that no matter how much I tried no one believed my symptoms were serious and that I needed their help – I had to change to become a person without PTSD, instead of them helping me find a place to work where my PTSD wouldn’t get so triggered.

I couldn’t imagine a life in freedom but I also couldn’t imagine a life in panic.

I WOULD RATHER BE POOR, IF IN RETURN I CAN BE FREE

So what drove me into self-employment? It was the unberable thought of living a life in fear and stress, controlled by authorities who didn’t care about my well-being. I would much rather not be able to pay my bills or not get food on the table, and then at least have my freedom, be my own authority.

I had to actually think: “what is the worst thing that could happen?” . The answer: homelessness and starving – and that sound more appealing to me than being in a state of panic and hypervigilance. The physical stuff didn’t scare me as much as everything I had already experienced.

Quitting welfare and going full time as a crochet designer was one of the easiest things I have done in my life, because everything else seemed even more impossible.

Choosing a life of self-employment and freedom was uncertain and something I had never done before – so at least I had to try it to see if it was possible, because I knew that a life in fear and stress would eventually kill me. I had no other option left, there was no way back.

GETTING OUT OF THE SYSTEM FOR THE LAST TIME

In my last phone call with my social worker I laughed ironically while I told him “I might just move into a tent and create my own job” (though I didn’t actually mean it).
So I went off welfare the 1st of August 2019 and I somehow knew that this would be the last time I would be in the system.

I was relieved but afraid because I didn’t believe that I would be able to actually earn enough to make a living off crochet. I had lived with as little as possible the past months so I had a little bit of money saved up that I could live off and I still had my part time job as a blind assistant but I usually only worked 2-5 hours a month. But having a safety net helped the fear a lot.

ADJUSTING TO A LIFE OF FREEDOM

The first many months in freedom I still woke up every morning in panic (as I had done every day for the past many years) because I thought I had to be somewhere where I would be in constant high alert and fighting to be understood. I still couldn’t understand I was free of it.

All that time (in the system, in jobs, in school, in relationships) where I had been in constant high alert worsened my PTSD and gave me another layer of trauma to deal with. I was finally free and there was a a great deal of relaxation but my brain and body was still reacting like I was a captive in my own life.

LIVING CHEAPLY

I started dumpster diving for food and I cut down all my expenses – no wifi, no streaming services, no money for any kind of unnecessary things. I only spent money on food and bills.

Six months went by and I had earned about 1/4 less than over the Summer, which meant if I put it all together I’d have enough to pay my bills and food for maybe 1 month. So I was getting a little frightened and it was winter so not a lot of demand on Summer clothes either.

LEARNING TO MAKE & SELL PATTERNS

Gradually I started getting demands on the patterns for my designs so I started looking up crochet patterns online to see how the layout is, how they are written and I tried to freestyle my way with it – I though to myself, how would I want to read a pattern?

I opened my website in February 2020 and then later I upgraded my website subscription so I could start selling phsyical and digital items there as well. I got a holiday pay that was bigger than I had expected and my friend out of the blue gave me money because her holiday pay was a lot bigger than mine. Suddenly I started having more and more money on my account. I wasn’t using my savings anymore and I started having more money than I needed to get by.

As the patterns started to sell more and more and my website got more and more visitors I started to feel that this might actually be possible. In August 2020 I officially became a registrered business – I had applied the year before but I closed it again immediately because I didn’t believe it would work out.

TODAY

The past 10 monts I have earned more than any other job I have every had. It’s hard to understand and I pinch myself everyday. I don’t wake up with a panic attack (unless I have had bad night), I feel relaxed throughout my day, even though I still struggle with PTSD and social anxiety. I am living the life I couldn’t even imagine – a life of freedom, relaxation, empathy and joy. With respect for my own boundaries, being my own authority, not minimising my symptoms and sharing what I learned with all of you.

When I look back at just 6 months ago I believe much more in myself and my abilities. I very rarely have the thought that “this won’t work out”, which I had everyday when I first started out.

It’s not just because it’s actually going well (because even though it’s going well I can still have doubt and fear for the future – will it last?), but it’s also because I am actually living a life more in harmony with my values, needs and wants. I am giving myself the life I deserve and seeing how it’s making me more and more comfortable in myself and in my life is giving me a greater sense of trust and belief in myself and the world.

I don’t have the same obsession about the future and wheter or not I will continue to do this kind of work or not. I try and focus on the here-and-now and doing the things I enjoy doing on this particular day. If at some point I want to do other things, like work as a chef, open a café, work therapeutically with other people, be a mentor or musician I have trust. Because if I could do the unimaginable, I can do anything!

I feel extremely proud of myself and where I have come and so grateful for everyone of you who has been there by my side during this whole process. Those who have bought my digital or physical products, tagged me, sent me photos, reposted/liked/commented/read my posts and written to me and shared your own story.

Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t.

A FINISHING THOUGHT

I don’t believe the saying “believe in your dreams and they will come true”.
Yes, our thoughts have impact but what if we don’t believe? Can we only start living once we start to believe?
The other day in a feeling of hopelessness I was reminded that:

Just because you lose all hope, doesn’t mean that no good will come for you.

What if it’s the other way around? That believing in yourself comes from a progress and experience of listening, being aware, showing yourself patience and comfort.

So if you doubt yourself, don’t feel good enough, don’t feel ready, don’t have a support system, have been hurt too much in the past, fear that it will only go downhill – it’s okay.
Your life doesn’t require you to be fearless.
Your life doesn’t require you to believe, imagine or visualize something for it to become a reallity.

Start now – do what makes you happy, enjoy your passion, take your time, go in your own pace.
Wanting something and going after it, is enough for it to come true!

And if all else fails, just know:
I believe in you. There is a way, a place for you too.

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QUIZ: How to Define Your Brand Vibe

Choose the answer that either feels truest to your brand now or what you want your brand to represent.

This quiz is only meant for fun – quizzes always points to specific stereotypes and we all have all the “types” within us (it’s not black and white) – so this is just to get a sense of your brand’s vibe!

Farbklecks, Klat, Farve, Farvecirkel, Farveskema
Hænder, Ord, Betyder, Fingre, Farverige, Markører
Lufthavn, Transport, Kvinde, Pige, Turist, Rejser
Solnedgang, Mænd, Silhuetter, Hjælper, Hjælpende Hånd
Kamera, Iphone, Macbook Pro, Macbook, Mockup, Livsstil
Blomst, Gren, Kvist, Efterår Farve, Kronblad, Vene
Stue, Interiør Design, Møbler, Lampe, Sofa, Interiør
Læsning, Bog, Pige, Kvinde, Solskin, Sø, Roman
Spaghetti, Tomater, Basilikum, Træske, Rustik, Træbord

1: Luxury & minimalistic vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel a strong sense of self, independent, timeless and simple – that with few things they can get luxery and satisfaction. They will feel that they have worth and strength and a voice that deserves to be heard.

2: Bold & powerful vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel that they can do anything, to have fun and be open to life, to feel fearless and courageous and that they don’t need to shrink themselves. They will feel non-judging towards other people and love to explore all that life has to offer.

3: Calm & vital vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel vital, calm and settled and that they shouldn’t live for other’s expectations. They will feel in tune with themselves and their emotions and will find a lot of joy just being alone with themselves and their hobbies.

4: Simplistic & meaningful vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel content, learn to enjoy the small things in life, that a meaningful life is not doing a lot but just finding joy right now. They will that vulnerability and being your authentic self is the best thing.

5: Romantic & connecting vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel cared for and embraced. They will feel like you are the home and loving mother/father to come home to. They feel a sense of connection with you, themselves and the people around them, that they are part of the world you have created and your door will always be open.

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Why Creating For Yourself Helps You Slow Down

Being in a rush

Sometimes I notice how I rush to get ‘somewhere’.

I am in a hurry to finish projects, because I falsely believe that my work is not good enough, so I shouldn’t take my time with it – it’s better to get it over with so I can get to the next step where I will do and be better than before.

In that state the present is never enough.

I am too hard on myself, judging myself for not doing it good enough and judging myself for rushing and not taking my time. Because I know that I am good enough, but in that moment I am out of touch with myself and the truth.

I feel behind in life and in my creations. I feel that I am not good enough and therefore I have to catch up with everything I have not yet done. I have to reach every goal I have not yet reached so I can feel good enough in the present moment. But it makes no sense as I am abandoning the present moment.

A to-do list that never ends



It feels like I’m in a race with myself. I am on negative 100 and have to rush mentally just get to zero.

It feels like having a whole list of to-do’s and everytime I cross off something 10 more things appear. And no matter how much I do, create or rush the feeling of inadequacy just becomes worse and worse.

Sometimes I find myself getting annoyed about how many ideas I have in mind because I feel like I’m out of time – that if I had create all of that I wouldn’t sleep, eat or do anything else for the rest of my life. It feels exhausting.

Enjoying the unfinished projects


Then this morning I noticed something. I noticed the dress I have been working on for weeks that I have never felt rushed with, the items that are finished yet I haven’t even woven in the ends – and I don’t care!

I don’t mind having unfinished projects and taking my time when I feel the intention to create arises from me.

I am practising telling myself:
I am enough.
I have enough.
I don’t need to do more to be okay or successful.
I don’t need the things I create.
I have and am enough right now.


Create because I want to not because I need to.
Create for myself not for others.

When my focus is outwards on the world and what I think is expected of me it will never be enough – because there will always be a need out there, there will always be expectations but it’s not my job to please others, do it the “right” way, post the right things at the right time, create the “right” things at the right time.

The need to rush comes from fear.
I get scared that I won’t be able to continue to create for a living, that what I create will not be enough to pay the bills. I always thought the worst part about having a creative job was not creating or having ideas enough but it’s the opposite. The challenge for me is to tell myself that it is enough; that I will still be able to pay my bills even if I create less.

Creating for myself

When I focus on creating for myself I feel body breathe deeper, I feel more settled, more trusting of myself and my path, because I am here now, and there is not anywhere I need to get to.

Everything happens right now, my ability to sense, create, be present, grow, find safety and slow down – nothing every happens in the future, it happens now.

Therefore I can’t rush to get somewhere because there is no “there” there. I am not rushing to get somewhere I am rushing because I falsely thing that it will make me feel less stressed, incapable and inadequate when in reality rushing makes me feel all those things.

So this is a reminder for me (and for you) to do and be right now from the intention that arises right now inside me.

Be with that. Create with that. Slow down with that.

Create for me, live for me.









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How Much to Pay Yourself

What kind of work are you doing?

ACTIVE WORK
You are selling physical items or actively participating in every sale that you make.

Example: custom made or ready-made products, coaching/mentoring, sponsored posts

PASSIVE WORK
You make the work once and then the item can be sold again and again automatically without you actively doing anything.

Example: patterns, e-books, courses, affiliate links

Is this your part time or full time job ?

There is a big difference in what you need and what you want to earn.

If this is your full time job you might both have the time and energy to focus on your job and therefore be able to make more money. But if it’s just a part time job and you don’t depend on it, you can work less (and work when you want to) and therefore you don’t need to earn that much.

If you are in-between and you want to make this your living, my advice is to keep your other job so you know that you can pay your bills – if you are able to go down in hours so you just earn what you need, then you can spend the free time you have on your own business but still be able to take it slow and do it your way.

How much to pay yourself

Penge, Card, Forretning, Kreditkort, Betale, Shopping

Example:
Money: You need/are satisfied with 175 euro per week – 700 euro per month.
Time: You want/are able to work 40 hours a week – 160 hours a month.
Your hourly rate: 175/40 = 43,75 euro

HOW MUCH THE PRODUCT HAS TO COST
Let’s say you can make 10 active products a month.

700/10 = 70

That means that your product has to cost 70 euro.

HOW MANY PRODUCTS YOU HAVE TO SELL
Let’s say a passive product costs 5 euro.

700/5 = 140

That means you have to sell 140 passive items a month to earn 700 euro.

How to price your products

Option 1.
You can look at all the individual factors regarding the product and then calculate how much that is.

TIME
– How much time did you spend making the item (and how much do you want to pay yourself an hour)?
MONEY
– How much money did you spend on materials?

You spent 15 hours. You pay yourself 43,75 euro per hour. The materials cost 10 euro.
15×43,75 = 656,2 + 10

666,2 euro is what the product should cost.

Option 2.
Forget about the time and money spent and instead find a fixed price for that item.

TIME/MONEY/ENERGY

– How much time, money and energy did you spend on this product? Is this a product you made as a “test design” where you were just playing around?
QUALITY
– How is the quality of the product and materials? Is the work kind of slobby or is it done with a lot of effort and precision?
OBJECTIVELY
– If you saw this in a shop, how much would you pay for it?

What amount do you think is fair when keeping these factors in mind?

Custom made or ready-made products

In my opinion custom made and ready-made items should be priced differently as there is much more work going into custom made products.

CUSTOM MADE
– communicating back and forth with customer
– working with their specific measurements
– making the item in the color, material and style that the customer want
– pricing can be difficult as the item may take longer for some customers than others
– the customer doesn’t exactly know what they get before they receive the item – this can cause uncertainty and stress for both creator and customer

READY-MADE
– the product is already made in the color, material, size that you want
– in the listing you can state all the details about the product – this way the customers knows what they get
– easy to price as you can just determine from the time, material or quality how much you think it’s worth

Setting a goal

It’s a good idea to have a goal in mind – what is your goal – how much do you want to earn and how much do you want to work? Even though it might seem unrealistic right now it’s good to have an idea about where you want to be so you can move towards that.

Final thoughts

Only you can decide what your time and effort is worth. Only you can decide what your hourly rate looks like and how many hours to work.


If you don’t want to work that much then that’s just perfect, there will always be people out there willing to pay a good price for your work. Remember to pick the customers that value you and your work.

At the same time it’s just as great to work 60 hours a week if that feels good to you!
There is no recipe on how to do it right. If you want to sell your items cheaply, then do that!

We are all different and the most important thing we can do is stay true to ourselves and what is important to us.












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What to Do if Someone Copies Your Work

We can’t help but be inspired by each other (even unconsiously). We can’t help but sometimes coincidentally getting the same idea as someone else, or seeing another creator make a design that we ourselves had in mind.

Mirabel top and necklace by FlurJewellery

There is a big difference in finding inspiration and copying, I think copying is okay when:

1) Recreating non-crochet items
You are recreating a regular design and making it in a crochet version. I’ve done that with a few of my designs – if the design is simple I don’t see anything wrong in making a crochet version of it.

2) Asking permission from the designer
If you have been in contact with the designer and asked if you can recreate their work and they said yes!

3) Mentioning and tagging the designer
If you are not are to ask permission then at least mention or tag the designer or write in the caption: “Design by…” or “Inspired by…”. This way people seeing the design will know who made it.

Mirabel top


THE PROBLEM WITH COPYING (AND NOT GIVING CREDIT)

Imagine there is a creator that has made a unique design. One of their followers recreate this design and post photos of the creation on their social media (wihtout any credit).

The people following this person see this and have no idea where the design originated from. These people might then either repost the photo or recreate the design for themselves, and suddenly the designer is forgotten all because one person didn’t credit.

The same goes if you recreate another’s design and sell the design to a customer. If the creator doesn’t give credit to the designer, the customer of the creator will only give credit to the creator, this way when we are at the 3rd or 4th or 5th link people will have forgotten all about the person who actually designed the item.

The person who is recreating or copying the design is responsible for mentioning the desginer (and also giving this information to their followers/customers so they can give credit too). This is so important to protect the work of the designer, this way people will be able to find their way to the source of the copied design and the desginer gets the credit they deserve.
Yes, you made their design and you did it beautifully – but someone else got the idea, made the drawing, pattern writing, measuring, trial and error and they deserve the credit.

This is also important when you make another creators design from pattern – mention or tag the pattern designer so people will know who the designer is!

Think about big brands like H&M – the only time you really hear about the designer is when celebrities design a collection. The designers working behind the facade you never hear about. Neither do you hear about the factory workers creating the clothes. It’s so important that we all get the credit we deserve.

It makes me so happy when I see someone post a creator’s work and also mention the designer! This is only possible if the creator mentions the designer too, let us make sure that at least the 3rd link from the designer knows who the designer is!

WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE STEALS YOUR WORK

I’m not gonna say “see it as a compliment! your work is so good, that people are recreating it!”. I hate that, I’m not gonna appreciate someone crossing my boundary. I’ll take is as appreciation when they credit me. Let me just say this: it’s not embarassing to mention that you copied/recreated/were inspired by someone else – we all are! better to say it too much than not enough. We won’t be mad for you tagging us all the time, on the contrary! it’s a win-win – it’s nice to be appreciated and to appreciate others.

1) Leave it

If you don’t care about it, just leave it and focus your energy elsewhere. We can’t avoid copy cats completely.

2) Reach out

You don’t have to be rude or get mad at them (maybe they didn’t intend to copy your work or maybe it’s a coincidence), but a simple: “Were inspired by my design?” or “I just want to let you know that if you we inspired by my design it would be great if you would mention/tag me”.

3) Create more
See it as a motivation to just create more designs – maybe create something SO unique and special that whenever someone copies your work most will know that you’re the designer.

4) Get design protection
It’s expensive in Denmark and needs to be done with every design, but if you want the extra protection it can be a good idea. This way no one can make or sell your designs.

5) Ask for support
Reach out to your followers or family/friends or post a story or photo in your feed about your experiences. Many people will relate and want to support you!

6) Copy cats won’t have success
Relying on others work for success, relying on other’s creativity and hard work and not coming up with idea or being creative yourself? So sad!
The worst is the people who try to get appreciated for making someone else’s work, I find it so selfish and mean, that some people won’t even admit they have copied another’s work, because they’re so desperate to be liked themselves. If you are getting likes and compliments for copying another persons hard work, then that must mean that the designer did a great job – so why not compliment them by giving them credit?

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How to Become Self-Employed

Do you have a dream of becoming self-employed?
Are you unsure of how and where to start?
Then continue reading!


I’ve been self-employed for almost 16 months. I spent years before going full time just spending time practising my skills, posting to Instagram and sketching. But it took me 8-9 months from when I decided to go self-employed to being able to live off my income (kinda).


1. Figure out what you want to do and start doing that every day.

Spend your free time doing what you love and what you’re good at and experiment and grow your skills.

2. Have a savings account or a part time job on the side.

This way you can focus most of your time on your business but still make sure you get money to pay your bills.


3. Research the market you are in.


What are other businesses in your niche doing? What are they’re prices and who are their customers?

4. Use social media.

We’re so lucky we have social media to spread our message across continents. Use hashtag to describe what kind of work you do, follow and interact with other in the same field as yours and post consistently.

5. Define your brand.

Find out why you are doing this and what your niche is – what is your talent? How can you help your customers? What makes you stand out from other people in the field? How are you working – what’s your inspiration, what kind of work do you like to do in that field?

6. Work with other people.

Find other people in the same field as you or someone who you feel you can work with to help each other get more customers or just get your name out there.

7. Hang up flyers at your local library or reach out to a local newspaper.

You can try and get your name out there in your town or local area.

8. Continue to do what you love.

Even though you are not making any money it will happen for you eventually. It doesn’t mean that you have to break yourself and work 70 hours a week to reach that goal. It takes time and hard work but remember to stay true to your work and take breaks as well so you don’t wear yourself out.


Ideas on how to earn money on your talent:


For instance if your field is in playing an instrument, here are some ideas on how to make money:

– play gigs
– start a youtube channel
– post music to spotify
– play in the street (if it’s legal where you live!)
– play at weddings and other parties (try to reach out to your friends and family first if that’s easier)
– teach music (online or in person)
– write an e-book about music
– start a blog where you share your knowledge on music or review other’s music
– sell your music as royalty free music

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The Challenge of Being Self-Employed

BEING MY OWN BOSS

Since I was a child I’ve dreamed of becoming my own boss! It seemed like something that would never happen, I believed I was not strong enough to do that but the longing kept growing inside me.

Back then I wanted to become a psychotherapist or a masseuse, but instead I’ve been taken down a different road – I never could’ve imagined that this was what I would be doing – I didn’t even know you could make money from crochet patterns!

There are so many things that drew me to a self-employed job but most importantly it was being the one in charge – that I am in control of my own time and no one else can decide for me.

I’m very uncomfortable with authorities and with someone having control over me and my life (like my parents did), therefore being in charge gives me a big sense of freedom and I still have to pinch myself everyday.

I’m doing it, I’m there!! I’m where I’ve always wanted to be.

BEING CREATIVE FOR A LIVING

Another big reward of being self-employed the way I am is that I get to make money from being creative! Something I also never thought would be possible for me.

But that is also the challenge. If I was running a non-creative business it would be more like having a list of things I could do, I could even shut off my brain for a bit and just let my hands do the work. The job would be the same way everytime, I would know exactly in what order and how to get the job done – there would only be one way to do it, and I wouldn’t have to rely on my creativity.

THE PROS AND CONS OF A CREATIVE JOB

Being self-employed gives me an immense sense of freedom and the opportunity to switch between different kinds of creative work –
writing (posts, listings, patterns), photography, editing videos, designing, sketching and crocheting.

Not everything will earn me any money – most of what I do on my website (apart from the shop) is something I don’t earn money on!

Unfortunatly relying on my creativity for earning money can be tricky. When I am creatively stuck, not motivated or not feeling the need to create, I can start to panic.

JUDGING MYSELF

These are some of the thoughts I get when I feel mistrust in my creative process:


You’ll never feel like creating again.
You should just give up now.
Find a regular job!
What are you doing!? You can’t do this.
Why did you choose to do this? You suck at it
People are maybe not complaining about you right now, but just wait – they will because they are thinking your work is bad and stupid
Look at x, x and x, maybe try do what they’re doing instead (even if it’s not your style), they have more success than you
Be what people expect you to be, don’t be yourself.
You can’t do anything, look at all your stupid and ugly projects
You should really start making other designs than what you’ve made until now
It’s not good enough.
I know you like to make very simple and neutral designs, but it’s so boring, maybe use some bold colors and do more “crochet style” designs then you might have some success!
What you’re doing now is not working.
Do you really think people will support your work? your work is not special or unique.
Do you even like doing this!? you don’t! and you probably never will again.

We can all get thoughts like these, and it doesn’t help to try and undo them or force yourself to think differently.

It’s NORMAL to judge ourselves. We all do in one way or another – some people don’t even realise how hard they are on themselves (I didn’t in the past), these thoughts were just a part of me.

But recognising the thoughts, actually realising that they’re there helps me to separate them from myself. These are my parents words that I have internalised – I know it’s not the truth but it can feel very true in the moment – I’m not perfect, and it’s okay to judge yourself.

I’m not going to start judging myself for judging myself!


ALLOWING THE MISTRUST

I know that these thoughts are fear and mistrust speaking. I’m judging myself because I feel unsafe and mistrusting of my life and myself. I try and teach myself to let go and trust that I don’t have any trust. That it’s ok not to have trust or acceptance right now – it’s still gonna be okay. I can live and still be unsure of myself, I don’t need to strive to feel good about myself, because I don’t right now.

Even if I don’t make any designs or crochet anything for a while – I will still be okay.

“MAKING IT” IS NOT ABOUT MAKING MONEY


The good thing – and what I’m realising day by day – is that making it is not about making money.

It’s more about strenghtening the community I have created. It’s about me being here. And I love being here everyday!

Creating means that I need some sort of motivation (and not to be too judging towards myself and my work) but being here has no requirements.

I can be here and be exactly who I am – both mistrusting, depressed and fearful and joyful, creative and excited.

I like sharing both my creations, other’s creations, posting from my everyday life or thoughts about healing – I like that on these platforms there is no right way to be or do.

I think that is what benefits both me, the community and my business the most – the consistency not in how much or little I create but my consistency in just being here, just being me.

And no that doesn’t make me any money, but it’s worth much more!

My creativity might not be reliable. But I am. I’m gonna keep being here – and even if I create less or not at all in some periods, I’m still here and I’m still going to share what’s on my mind and heart in whatever way, form or shape I feel like it. And that’s what keeps me going and will spark my motivation and creativity again.

Allowing to be and do and share/not share what I feel like right now, creates a sense of trust and safety and it expands so I start to trust the process again and ultimately I think that is what will make my business survive in the long run.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE CREATIVELY STUCK


I’ve written a list – both for myself and for you to use – that I will look at every time I feel demotivated or not feeling like creating:

– update your website/patterns/listings/profile bio/picture

– take photos/make videos

-reach out to fellow creators (make a poll/quiz/ask questions)

– share other’s work!!!

– unravel old projects (it’s like free yarn!)

– visit your local yarn shop (avoid rush hour) and look and feel different yarns (and buy some!)


– go for a walk – look around and up, notice colors and shapes (look at what people are wearing)


– drink water, nap, buy a plant, cry, punch a pillow, turn up the music


– allow yourself to do less than regular (leave the dishes
and laundry, wear pj’s all day, eat chips instead of dinnerchips can be a meal too _justnanna reminded me of this!!)

– what if you were not a creative? what would you be doing instead?


– breathe <3 and remember we can’t constantly be “on”, sometimes we need to turn “off”, recharge or do something completely different!


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The Small Steps of Success

Who determines your success?

I was asked back in August by @ihaveitchyhands what my thoughts on success was, and since that day the topic has been on my mind multiple times.

First, my instant thought was that success (in crocheting) is that someone pays for my designs. That success must be equivalent to money. The more money – the more success, right?

But then I thought, well that’s not my opinion on success – that’s what I was taught by the society I grew up in. That if I don’t make money on my crochet – or am able to be self-employed then I won’t be successful with my creativity.
Well, maybe if I had a huge impact on helping people or ociety on a larger scale.

If the world around us determines when we are successful, will we ever feel successful?

Will it ever be enough? Will we ever settle in just feeling successful right now or will we strive for more success?

Failing instead of succeeding


Back in I August bought a cargo bike because I have a dream of being able to sell my food one day. Today the anxiety hit me, when I – as I do most days – looked out into the parking lot where the bike is chained to a metal pole. I started thinking of all the things missing before I can sell food from it. Or the fact that I’m not even mentally ready to go out into the street and start selling food.

I felt the anxiety of not succeeding, but instead failing with something.

The goal I set for myself is a goal I’ve had for 12 years or more. How can I expect to fullfil that in a couple of months?
And won’t I be OK if I don’t reach that goal – if something else comes along? and who know if my goal changes?…

Wanting to create a success in the future


Because I’ve had trouble sleeping the past week, I tried something new the past two days.

Instead of setting the goal “to go to sleep”, I said to myself:
“OK, you don’t have to sleep right now. You just have to focus on doing something to relax yourself”

It’s a big leap of faith to just trust the Now, because immediatly a voice comes into my head saying: “But what if you still don’t sleep?”

My inner critic starts to talk when I challenge it.. and I had to challenge it back “So what? at least I will be relaxing and feeling good right now, better to relax than not to relax”

And my sleep improved alot!

So I thought I could transfer the same technique to other places in my life – like the food bike. Maybe I can adjust my goal so I will feel success right now.

The smallest steps creates the biggest success


What if my goal instead of “I want to sell street food” (big goal) was: “To fix up my cargo bike” (small goal).

Hearing those words suddenly made me breathe easier. Because I’m already doing that – whenever I feel like it.

So my conclusion is that success doesn’t have to be a goal far in the future; something that makes us anxious because we notice that we’re still not there yet, something that makes us feel inadequate because we haven’t succeeded in that goal.

What if success can be to comfort ourselves right now in the anticipation anxiety of something we need to handle in the near future?

Or what if success can be to make the first few stitches on a new project that you’ve had in mind for a long time?

The small steps are the biggest steps we can take, because they can make us feel successful right here. That we are enough now.

Success we might have in the future shouldn’t limit us to not experiencing success now!


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Dealing With Low Self-Esteem (When Running a Crafting Business) + 10 Tips

Low self-esteem can affect all of us – whether or not we’ve sold one or hundreds of products.

It can hit us when we’re doubting our creations and whether or not we (and our work) is good enough.


I struggle with low self-esteem most of the time, both when creating a handmade piece, taking and posting photos, selling items and making patterns. But it’s getting better day by day. I often doubt whether or not I’m doing it “right” and “to the standard”.

When I dig deeper it’s actually not the fear of having flaws but the fear of someone getting mad at me for not doing my job perfect – or just doing it better. I was used to having a mother who would yell and scream over the tinyiest things, and I was always blamed for something that I hadn’t even done.

Linking my fears and insecurities to the way I was treated as a child helps me to understand what and why I fear and how I can help myself.

_____________________

We have one of the most freeing jobs out there, where we can work when and how we want – there are no rules in crafting. There are no standards that determine what is “good enough”. We determine that ourselves.

If we can be proud about our work even though it has flaws, we’ve taken a big step.



Here are 10 things to remember when you are dealing with low self-esteem (when running a crafting business):

  1. It’s not black and white. It’s possible to both be a business owner and have insecurities.
  2. You’re a human. Your business might be a business but you’re also a human being – not a robot.
  3. Customers don’t pay you to be perfect, they pay for something handmade and unique.
  4. Others don’t see what you see. The flaws that can seem like is the only thing you can see, might be invisible to others.
  5. You’re not alone. You can be pretty sure that every other crafter is also feeling insecure about themselves and their crafting.
  6. It is not bad or wrong to have insecurities. We learn to treat ourselves how we were treated as children, so if we want to change that we can start by noticing when and how we were critiqued as children and noticing when we start critiquing ourselves now.
  7. “And so what?”. Whatever your worry is, ask yourself: “And so what?”. Usually we build up our fear to being catastrophical, that the crafting community will banish us, that we will never get any customers again, that people will get angry at us for not doing it good enough. But really we are magnifying our fear to try and protect ourselves from what we fear the most.
  8. Be kind to yourself. Imagine that you are a 5 year old child that is making something – that child only needs encouragement – not someone (us) telling them that they are not good enough and that they should do better next time.
  9. If you really do want to be better at your craft, this doesn’t happen with force. But by being in the present, respecting ourselves, taking all the time we need, exploring without judging. resting, complimenting ourselves.
  10. Talk to others. Crafters, friends, business owners, customers – be open about your insecurities and you will notice that other people either don’t care about the things we worry about or they can recognise the same fears that you have. It’s a relief to be open about our insecurities and it’s inspiring to others too.

Have you ever felt low self-esteem about your work/yourself? And what is your best tip to dealing with it?

Leave a comment below!

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How to Grow Your Instagram

… and your sales!


Followers are not everything. I’ve made many sales when I had 500 followers.

What is most important is engagement – how many people like, comments and share your posts and that the people who see your posts are interested in what you’re sharing.

Here I will share with you the tips I’ve used to both grow my following and my engagement on my Instagram account. I’ve gotten 5.000 more followers from January to June of 2020, but I’ve been active on Instagram since February 2017.

The first year I didn’t even use my stories and though I posted regularly I didn’t really have any planning regarding what, when and how I posted.

1. Name
Choose a simple name. Something that is easy to read, remember and write, so that people easily can search for you and quickly identify you.
My first Instagram name was Crochetedtops, which I think was too anonymous. It doesn’t tell me anything other than it’s an account with crochet tops. Then I changed it to Mati_Crochet and later to Mati_Denmark because I wanted to make sure people knew that the products are produced in Denmark.

2. Picture
Either use a picture of your logo or a photo which is easily recognisable – maybe with colors or an outline so people can tell what the picture is, even from just seeing the small icon on their smartphone.

3. Bio
In your bio you can write a few words or sentences either with your slogan, your first name or simply describe what your brand/Instagram is about.
You can also insert a link to your website/where you sell your products and attach an email or address (when you change your account to a professional account).
I’ve changed my bio (and will continue to change it) beause me and my brand changes all the time. It is for me a lot about defining my brand and that is something I think I’m continuing to do, because I have a hard time actually clearly defining what and why I do what I do in a way that makes sense to others as well, the more I keep changing my bio and my “About” page, the more I also figure out in myself where I am going, who I am and what I do.

4. Posts/captions
Post what you like to post. Post regularly and consistently, wether that be once a week or twice a day. Just get into a routine of posting, so people know what and when to expect something from you.
If you feel like writing something, do so. If not, it’s okay to just post a hashtag or an emoji or a few words.
I’ve noticed that long texts often don’t get alot of responses, but engaging with the audience like asking for advice or asking “which picture do you like the best, 1 or 2?” is a great way to get people to engage with your posts.

Sharing you insecurities, post that are not a great quality or doesn’t show your best angle is just as great, to show that you’re human too and not perfect. It gives your audience something to relate to as well.

Your feed doesn’t need to be perfect, with a color scheme, the same filter on every photo or planned all the time. People will feel the authenticity when you just post what you like to post, instead of what you think people want to see.
Play around with it, post whatever you want and see how it makes you feel, what response you get and what you like the best.

I’ve tried to take and post many different photos the past 3 years. This way I’ve found out what photos I like the most: like close-ups, photos in nature, photos focusing more on the clothes rather than the face and photos of customers. And all these are also the most popular posts.

5. Story/highlights
There is really no “right” way to use Instagram stories. Only 1 out of 9 followers watch my stories so I need to keep that in mind, if I have something important to share, this might be better to share in my posts, so more people will see it.
I like to post stories of behind the scenes, inspirational pictures, other peoples posts and also lifestyle photos – like what I’m eating that day or if I’m going somewhere. I like to see the stories as a way to get to know the person behind the Instagram more. The stories is also a great way to post something you sell. I’ve found that posting a layout with multiple items + the price and size of each item is the best way to make sales. But sometimes just posting a photo of a product I have for sale can work just as well.
Stories have so many features that are great for engagement: make a poll, a quiz or ask a question – a good idea is to ask something of your followers, because people always want to share about themselves, so give your followers the opportunity to do so!
I try to only have a few highlights regarding what I know most people are interested in.

6. Engagement
Share others posts that you like.
Repost when someone shares your posts.
Comment on and like the pictures you like. Even if it’s just an emoji.
Respond when someone comments your post.
Make polls, quizzes, ask questions etc. in your stories.

7. Influencers
Offer a free product to an influencer with more followers than you, this way you can get free exposure. Just make sure to find someone that you think can represent what your brand stands for or someone that fits your existing customers/audience.
Write them a short message, asking them if they would like to receive a free product and in return they post a photo with that item to their Instagram (and tag you). This is a great way for new people to notice you!
I’ve used about 4 influencers in my time on Instagram and that has been a great succes and all gotten me multiple sales.

8. Hashtags
I post hashtags to my comment section, so it doesn’t show in my caption. In “Notes” on my smartphone I have saved all the hashtags so I can just copy-paste. I try to use both popular hashtags but also hashtags of the name of my product (like #mirabeltop) and my own hashtags like #matidenmark and #maticrochet (which was my last Instagram name). You can search on google for popular hashtags in your niche.

9. Business Instagram
A great way to track your audience and their behaviour is to change your account from personal to professional and choose which area you work in. This way you can see which posts were saved, liked and engaged with the most. At what time of day your audience is most active, which countries your followers are from and much more. It’s such a game changer, if you want to grow your Instagram and also it just gives a much more professional vibe to your account.
Go to your profile. Click the three lines in the top right corner, click Settings, go to Account, scroll down and there you’ll see: Switch to professional account.

10. Act like you already have a huge following
This tip I got from one of my followers (and one that I also follow: https://www.instagram.com/rosycrochets/) and I thought that tip was so great. Write, post and act like a huge amount of people are already following and seeing your posts, even though your stories and posts only have 10 likes or 10 view, act as if it was 1000. Ask people for advice, share whatever you like, as though a lot of people were there to witness it.
It’s one of the mistakes I’ve made – and still sometimes make – that I forget that people are watching.

And I think this is why I didn’t write that many captions in the beginning, I thought people didn’t care about it or that people weren’t seeing my posts, but making captions and stories where you share what is within you is such a great way to let people really see and know you!