When You're A Technical Dinosaur
- - the steep learning curve - - In a recent video, I mentioned the steep learning curve to setting up the business and a subscriber asked me to talk about that, saying it would be encouraging to know that even experienced makers struggle... which only now am I realizing was a question about the learning curve to do with a medium as opposed to do with a business. It's entirely possible I misinterpreted what she was asking for BUT...it's not all that different. For instance, working with polymer clay uses colour and design skills that I also use with textiles for clothing, bags, and wall art. The step-by-step process is similar to working with scraps so I'm able to bring that same way of thinking to the polymer. What I've had to learn are the technical things like conditioning and cutting the clay, how to avoid air bubbles and shiny spots, what can be included and what can't, how to build layers... and so on. Developing technical polymer skills is the same as developing technical sewing skills... like learning to put a zipper in a dress. I research and then practice, doing it over and over again until I become proficient, my hands move with ease, and I don't have to keep referring to notes. Then I decide if I like putting zippers in dresses and how often I want to add one, if at all. Perhaps, I'll opt for dresses that go over my head! At this point in my creative journey, I know from experience that I will get there - wherever there is - a lot faster because of cross over skills and that's VERY encouraging. However, when there are no cross-over skills, as with the business, it's a whole different level of frustration. With my web host, I'm with a company that has excellent customer service and whenever I request a callback to walk me through an issue, I start the conversation by telling them I am a technical dinosaur because, when you're a technical dinosaur, you need the "for dummies" version. This has been a year long adventure as the site becomes more developed.
I started with a simple website with three or four pages. And then I added a newsletter. And then I added a classroom. And then I added a shop. And those are very short sentences that fail by a long shot to illustrate the frustration and learning. Right now, both the classroom and the shop are ready, but I'm waiting for the financials to be approved so I can get paid. I thought I'd already done that and it took a few weeks for me to realize there were more steps. A lot of it makes no sense to me. I don't think in web design but I can tell you that when you import a contact list and it doesn't automatically make them subscribers , not only does that not make sense, they don't actually get the newsletter you thought you just sent them. And then you have to find that one little box on some random page that needs to be checked so it all will work. It's like asking someone to slip stitch a binding without telling them what a binding or a slip stitch is and without telling them to use a needle with thread. It can take a lot of searching through information you barely understand to figure out what went wrong as happened recently with the platform that is, but won't be much longer, hosting my workshop. There was an issue. They could see it. They kept telling me do this and do that but it wasn't fixing the issue only they wouldn't just fix it and they wouldn't call me and walk me through it because in their experience email and chat works fine. I don't think I cared about their experience. I cared about my experience which went so horrendously that I said I would be leaving... and then they fixed the issue. I have since set up the workshop at my website where, with one callback request, it was all done. That's vastly different than a month of frustration for nothing. Good customer service is a huge component of my technical choices or the product better be more than worth the frustration. For video editing, I use a program called Descript. It's so amazing that I'm sticking with it even though the customer service is not. Using it, the video is edited as a word file which was a cross-over technique and helped somewhat even though video was a foreign object. I can learn technical things... when I want to... for a purpose... as I need them... but never just because. Next week, I'll be working on SEO - search engine optimization - which my accountability partner has been trying to get me to do for almost a year now. This is coding all my images and pages to better drive traffic to my site... which ideally equals sales of products... which meant there needed to be a shop with products for sale... which meant there needed to be products to sell. You can see why I did it in that order - products, shop, SEO. After that is Instagram and Pinterest. It's seems more logical to me to do one thing at a time, hopefully correct, than a whole bunch of things at once, most likely wrong. When I get to Insta & Pin, it'll be a matter of uploading pictures and a short description that I'll already have figured out and the pictures will already have SEO attached to them. That makes the two platforms more approachable although each has an optimal way of working that I don't yet know. A huge learning curve that is now more comfortable was YouTube. Creating a channel and making regular content isn't just a matter of shooting something on your phone and uploading it, especially if you don't have a phone. It included... but isn't limited to... learning about lighting and acquiring two light stands; learning about the camera and finding an identical second one even though they were discontinued... and two tripods; figuring out how to get a level image with a boom arm; learning how to merge two different videos to create a sequence; figuring out a filter for the window; figuring out the previously mentioned editing software and how to recover from accidental deletes, learning how to shoot and edit the videos including how to enunciate clearly and stand natural in front of the camera. And... and... and .... creating subtitles, writing descriptions, adding time stamps and... how to create the correct size of thumbnail in yet, still, another, new software program. And how to not care about the statistics and just keep doing what you like to do. It's a LOT. The point of a business is to make money. With every money making idea explored, there is a long learning path that has to be taken before you can even begin to evaluate if this thing is working. Take designing patterns. Developing the idea involves making numerous prototypes, developing supply lists, instructions, and more.
Once at the pattern stage, I needed to hire an illustrator to develop the draft illustrations and then tweak those illustrations in a yet still another, new to me, drawing program that I learned at the same time I was formatting the pattern and drawing the pieces, accurately, to size, with seam allowances, and getting the pieces to print to size. Read... watch a lot of videos to figure out how and get extremely frustrated when that didn't work. There were tears. AND THEN... once you know what's involved, only then can you evaluate if this works for you and if it will get you to the goal you're aiming for. My goal was to teach how to fill the form. I chose the form of a bag because it's a very repeatable blank canvas and a practical luxury. I developed three patterns to give my students a choice of forms to fill, and to give me the potential to earn income from pattern sales. And then I realized how much time, money, and energy that would take not only to develop the patterns but to market them. I realized that spending my time doing that would take me further from, rather than closer to, my actual goal. And so I pivoted... to making a workshop. The goal of the workshop is to teach students how to fill the form with the form being whatever the student choses for it to be. I already knew how to make videos but, for this, I needed to learn how to co-ordinate them into a cohesive whole and then get that whole uploaded to a platform and connect all the dots so that when a student signed up, I got paid. And then, I had to find students . The first workshop took about three months to put together, was released a month ago, is about to be moved to a new location, and now I'm evaluating the time, money, and energy of that avenue and whether I'll do more workshops. While I am getting some students from exposure on my channel, it certainly hasn't been a tsunami of students... which would have been nice... but, the numbers are within the predictable results range. That's quite good considering what there is a tsunami of is everyone creating a course and if my students are like me, they want to be in a real classroom with real students and a real instructor and real snacks and real conversations and real lunch breaks and... they want real. I could be on the wrong end of the online, on-demand, learning curve. For myself, the online workshops I look at are the ones that allow me to study with an instructor of note at a price I can afford. I keep that in mind and aim to be noteworthy.
For this week's video, I sewed a bucket bag. While I was researching 2023 fashions to see if anything I wanted to sew for my upcoming holiday might accidentally be on trend, I also researched bags and jewelry and discovered that bucket bags were popular, denim was popular, and so were denim bucket bags. I've never sewn a bucket bag before and I may never sew one again. The technical part of it was all cross-over. The bag came together easily and after that, it was more a matter of asking what do I think of this bag and realizing that bucket bag is not my style. And I think that's what we do with all learning. We have a tickle. Try something. See how it feels. Decide if it's worth digging deeper. Try it again. Evaluate the results against what we know to be true about ourselves and about where we're heading and decide if it's a go or not. Along the way there are hills and valleys, smiles and tears, a beginning and an end. Have a though to share. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk soon,