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/
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  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!