What does success even mean?

Success is a subjective thing – what matters for me might not matter for you. For some it’s a target to be hit, others an activity to undertake. Some of us have never even stopped to think about where we’re headed or what we’re trying to achieve. What does success mean to you?

Regardless of what our measures of success are, having a clear picture of them makes everything else immediately easier. Deciding what to do next is simpler, writing excellent descriptions becomes more effortless, and it can clear the path for a more authentic voice and presence on social media if that’s a helpful tool for you.

Here are some thought-starters, a few micro snacks for the brain, to help sharpen up the pointy end of ‘success’ for you. Flick through the headings and find one or two that resonate with you, the blurb may be helpful.

Success for me is…

…having a great lifestyle.

Being creative or making things is part of a way of life that you really enjoy. If you’re casually selling your work you need to be careful to properly value it so you’re not undercutting full-time creatives. Ask yourself “How do I want to fill my days?” and write down the list of things, including how often you want to do them. Where does your creative work fit, and is it fitting well right now?

…earning a living from this.

Earning from creative work is exactly that – work. How much money do you actually need to make, and how many items can you make? Pricing becomes really important in this equation so start with a clear understanding of how money is made. Your focus should be getting good at your craft, then good at photography and writing excellent descriptions. Ask yourself “What are all the ways this could be seen as valuable?” and trial new and different ways of describing (or making) your work to try and connect with different customer groups (more on this in our next post). Don’t forget to have fun!

…being a world-famous social-media-influencer bazillionaire.

There are plenty of creative professionals who have enormous social media followings, and the lucky among them have managed to monetise that following to earn a living. Social media is a dark art, but you’re a creative so arts shouldn’t scare you too much. You’ve gotta make sure that you’re actually making money in here somewhere, and social media can be a very powerful channel to speak with potential customers. Be careful that your desire for the feeling of being successful (more followers, more likes etc) doesn’t get in the way of actually being happy, making some money, and living a good life. Again, it’s a dark art, tread carefully.

…when I’m enjoying myself and covering my costs.

This can be a great place to be, and is where I’m currently sitting with my relationship with music. If you’re smart about your descriptions and get a good sense of who your customers are, there can be a helpful little income stream that keeps your passion projects/side hobbies going. Be careful not to sell yourself short and undercut full-timers by pricing too low. There’s a real skill to appearing professional and full-time whilst maintaining the front with minimal effort – attention to detail in a few small ways can make a huge difference.

…constantly learning and improving.

Some of us just want to get better and better at what we do. If that’s you, you have a real shot at becoming a world-class artisan creator, as the pursuit of perfection is a powerful driving force. It’s important to take the time to ensure you’re actually making money, and catering to the needs of real customers in the real world. As we get better at our craft we get better at seeing the imperfections. The challenge is to see our work through the eyes of other people who do not have the same level of skill, and who will value it at an appropriately high level. Treat your learning as a business, and get paid to do it.

…being able to flex all my creative muscles.

Constant creativity and exploration is a superpower. Unleashing this energy in response to the wants and desires of real customers is a highway to a successful creative business. Many of us will create things and see the inherent value through our eyes, but fail to present our work in a way that is valuable to others. Train yourself to do both and you might just be a master of the world one day. More on this in our next post!

…all of the above!

As Freddie Mercury once said “I want it all, and I want it now!”. Great! Use that energy and chase everything for as long as you have energy for it. At some point you might find yourself struggling with motivation on one aspect or another, which is totally natural. That’s a great time to reflect again on what success means to you, make some changes, then get back to it. It’s a revolving wheel that changes all the time – ride it!

We regularly see sellers doing things that are not in the best interest of being a successful business, doing more of their creative practice, or both, and that makes us sad. A lot of these challenges can be overcome by having a more clear idea of what success looks like for ourselves.

So what does success mean for you? What do you need to dial up, dial down, start, or stop, to take steps towards success?

Cover image: 3D Printed Fox Cookie Cutter by

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