Business Friends – It’s going to be ok! – Updated 3/31/2020

UPDATED! If you are a traveling teacher like me, you’re probably watching your income sources dry up in real time. What should have been a super busy spring season, with bookings taken close to two years ago, are canceling and some are not rescheduling.

It’s a scary time for those of us who rely on our quilting incomes. We have to do a lot of scrambling and business adjustments in order to see a way through the next few months. I’m going to put a few tips for you below so you can start to see your way through this mess. (I’m not going to talk about the virus or saftey tips here, though, since the CDC is probably better suited to do that…)

  1. Be the light. People, including all your customers and fans, are scared. This is scary. Or they are frustrated. They are mad this is impacting their life. Your business should be a lovely oasis of calm and inspiration during this time. Your online posts should be full of what makes you the creative genius you are. Start showing sneak peeks of what you are working on, etc.
  2. Do not disparage your cancellations online. This should go without saying, but lambasting the events that canceled you, or berating an event for not closing earlier, is a surefire way to never get invited anywhere again. Even on your personal pages. People screenshot stuff and send it around. Just be positive.
  3. Ramp up those online services. Do you have a shop online? Now is the perfect time to start working on one if you do not. If you have a shop, now is a great time to remind people that you have one! If you haven’t run a sale in a while, try one out. If you haven’t refreshed your listings in a while, now is a great time to do it. As you do, tell your customers what’s changed as a gentle nudge to have them go look.
  4. This is also a great time to revisit your website. Does it have all of your current offerings? Are your fees and more up to date? Do you need to update that headshot? Now is a great time to do this.
  5. Be visible online. Start thinking about doing the occasional Facebook Live videos so you pop up often for your online customers to see you. Remember, be positive and show what you are working on so your customers get excited about what is next for you. Plus, automatic social distancing.
  6. Engage your audiences with lots of questions they can answer. People are going to be home and bored. By engaging them you are building those connections. Remember what I always tell my social media students, every comment deserves a reply!
  7. Start an online challenge for your customers. The comic book industry is doing a 1000 comic book reading challenge. What can you challenge your customers to do, that’s related to your business, that you can start today?
  8. If you are sweating the income part of it, then there’s lots we can do in the short term. Take a look at these freelancer artist lists of income ideas that can help you. Side gigs may be your friend:
    https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/
  9. Don’t panic. (I say this as the most anxiety filled person on the planet.) reach out to your friends. Ask for help. It will all be ok.
  10. ***NEW ***Here is a list of resources from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund regarding how the CARES act and Unemployment Insurance can help you. If you are a small business owner, there’s probably relief in here somewhere. It’s a great resource to determine where you fall and what may be available to you:
    http://cbldf.org/2020/03/how-the-cares-act-helps-retailers-creators-other-comics-businesses/
  11. ***NEW*** The Craft Industry Alliance has a list of resources you may want to look into, including information on grants and relief from organizations you may be connected with like Facebook, Etsy, and Quickbooks :
    https://craftindustryalliance.org/small-business-aid-for-craft-business-owners-during-the-covid-19-crisis/
  12. ***NEW*** If you have to fax anything and you don’t have access to fax machines, this is the built in fax driver for PC users. This came in handy while filling out loan applications.
    https://support.office.com/en-us/article/install-the-windows-fax-driver-or-service-to-use-internet-fax-in-office-bc394947-df2d-4a40-a249-7e891858bce8?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US
  13. ***NEW*** The National Retail Federation has resources for Retailers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a list of state resources that may help all kinds of small businesses:
    https://nrf.com/resources/retail-safety-and-security-tools/coronavirus-resources-retailers
  14. ***NEW*** The company I use to do my accounting and payroll has a nice site of small business support for COVID-19. I am a VERY happy user of their accounting platform for over 5 years and it was super helpful to use to get my EIDL application filed:
    https://www.waveapps.com/blog/covid-19-resources/resources-for-employers-affected-by-covid-19
  15. Are you a Quilt teacher that had an event cancel? Get yourself added to this list of teachers who are affected so quilt guilds or other events and shops can book us:
    http://muppin.com/wordpress/index.php/quilt-teachers-who-could-use-your-help/
    h
  16. Are you a vendor who was supposed to set up at a quilt show? Get yourself added to this list of vendors who could use an extra boost due to your canceled events:
    http://muppin.com/wordpress/index.php/quilt-show-vendors-who-need-your-help/

I’m putting together a list of Teachers and vendors who were affected by cancellations so we can get a list of people who could use a little boost when this is over to help people (see above). Also, I’ll be updating this list as I come across more resources and more tips to help you. We are all going to be ok.

Check back here often for more tips!

Like this kind of info? You can buy me a coffee at Kofi, or you can hire me as a business consultant too! Have something to add to this list? Send a PM to Cheryl on Facebook with your tips and I’ll review them!

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Storage Tip: Ladders

If you like to make lots of quilts, or you just happen to have lots that you want to display, then finding a storage solution that isn’t a huge piece of furniture is a challenge. One of the ways you can display lots of quilts and have them at hand to wrap around you on the sofa, but easily move them, is to use a ladder. At one time or another you may have used a ladder to try to take pictures of your quilts, but I mean to actually hang your quilts on the ladder as a decoration that doubles as storage.

Ladders for quilt display have been the rage at Quilt Market booths for some time now. They can display a few quilts in a small space and it can be easily moved. The quilts are easily accessible, and easily replaced.

This ladder is from my old bunk beds from when I was a kid!

There are plenty of ways to find a ladder to use for your quilts. Searching online for “blanket ladder” will get you dozens of styles and types, in a huge variety of price ranges. By going to a local vintage flea market, I found several wooden vintage ladders under $25. I also found several woodworkers selling “blanket” ladders that came in variety of finishes, also for around $25. One of the differences is that a ladder meant to climb is going to be more narrow, whereas a ladder made for displaying your quilts is going to be wider and will show more of the front of the quilt. Where you plan to put your ladder may help determine which you want.

This blanket was made by a local woodworker.

One of the tips I recommend is to wrap the rungs of your ladder in acid free tissue paper. This way, the wood treatment of your ladder will not mark or transfer to your quilt over time. Another good tip is to rotate the folds of your quilts every few months, so that creases do not become permanent and any fading from light is not concentrated on one area for too long.

Tell me how you like to store your quilts by leaving us a comment on this post on our Facebook page! I’d love to see some photos of how you store your quilts.

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Day 29 – Top 5 Blog Posts from 2019

Last year I posted about the top 5 blog posts according to the number of hits they got, and I thought I would do that again! Be sure to click through to read them!

#5 is “Spool School _ Which Way Does It Go?“, which I published back in January about how to tell which way a spool of thread should be positioned on your machine. It’s super helpful if you are new to quilting or sewing.

#4 is “Honoring the broken needle – Hari Kuyo” which was published in February. This was about the Japanese tradition of honoring your broken needles that happens in February.

#3 is a throwback to Nov 2018’s popular post on the Facebook Quilt Scams. More on this one later…

#2 is from April, and is all about “Basics for Labeling your Quilts“. This one surprised me as being so popular, and wow, so many of us are bad at labeling our quilts!

And last but not least, #1…again for the second year in a row… is the 2018 post about Facebook Quilt Scams. I get messages all the time from people who have been taken in by these and want to know what to do about them, but unfortunately, I have no way for them to recover their money.

So there you have it! Top posts from me and my blog for 2019!

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Day 28 – Financials… The Income vs Expenses chart

I’m starting the beginnings of my data analysis for 2019 and this surprised me… this year my expenses were up and my income was down. This surprised me for a couple of reasons.

First, I traveled SO MUCH this year that in my mind the income had to be greater than before. I mean, when you do over 50K miles in travel and 122 days on the road, the income should be amazing, right?

Second, I really felt that this was an up year. It’s not that it is a bad year, but comparative to last year, it’s down.

Here’s a look at why the year was down. While I booked more workshops at shows, the sales AT those workshops were down. My sales to distributors was down and flat (again). Freelance writing was also way down. Sadly, with the bankruptcy of F+W Media, my royalties on things like my DVD, etc, were also down.

As with any business, it’s good to take in the numbers and not try to get too focused on the “down” part, but to focus on how to make those categories viable again. It’s important to always look for new revenue streams too!

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Day 27 – Absence and Change

I’ve been away from the blog in the middle of my own blog challenge. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but it happened.

On Dec 16th I flew to Orlando to pick up some very special cargo. That would be my boyfriend, and all of his belongings, and a very long and kind of rainy drive back to Chicago.

I had every intention of blogging during that time, and well…. It didn’t happen. And then, there was the move in, and all the things that happen when you merge two lives into one. Finding places to put everything in a house that’s already full. Who gets this or that side of the bathroom, the bedroom, the closet…. a life. He helped me decorate the tree and get a little of my Christmas spirit back. I’m enjoying this time immensely, and he’s a fabulous person to have all of this to do with.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying having someone to geek out with, to see Christmas lights with, and to share my adventures with. The cats immediately loved him, so he must be a keeper, right?

So… I’m sorry I have been away, but I’m back now, and I hope you all had wonderful holidays!

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