Friday, 5 October 2012

Tea and a Chat with Mike Carthew

I've invited Mike Carthew round for a tea and a chat today.  Mike's just co-written a book that might be of great interest to you so get comfy, pour yourself a drink and let's find out more...

Hi Mike! The kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
Hi Wendy, a builder’s tea would go down a treat. If you feel like spoiling me though I’ll go for a Lapsang with hobnobs please.
Tell me a bit about yourself – what’s your background?
I’m a real mixed bag. My loves in life, apart from my gorgeous girlfriend, all come from the outdoors. Living down in Cornwall means I can over-indulge in surfing and walking but I love nothing more than going out in our little fishing boat to catch mackerel and crabs for dinner.
Professionally I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I currently work as a Digital Marketing Specialist for a company that supports promising start-up businesses so it’s a great place to be when you’re full of ideas! I have always believed that some people just aren’t built to spend their lives working 9-5 in offices. Today we’re more mobile than ever before - anyone can start a business or become self-employed with a few basic business skills and an understanding of how to start-up on little to no budget.

So, I’ve heard you’re writing a book.  What’s it about?
Well it’s about exactly this in relation to creative people. It’s called ‘Get Paid for Your Passion’. There are so many talented creatives out there who’d love to generate an income from their skills and passion but don’t know how to do it effectively. A couple of years ago my partner founded to provide a platform for talented designer/makers to sell their work. However, it rapidly became clear that they don’t just need a platform, they need a strategy too.
We’re the generation that was raised to believe we could make a living doing what we love. Until recently though, for creatives at least, that was a hard thing to achieve. But we really are entering a new era; creative people have the tools at their fingertips to access huge audiences and really connect with people who love their work.
It sounds simple but essentially we’re talking about starting and running a creative micro-business. Like any business, you have to absolutely hit the nail on the head if you want to thrive. That means you have to know your customer like you know your friends, take fantastic product photos, use the right social media channels in the right way and really analyse your approach to commercialising your creativity. The crux of the book is that you can hugely increase your success rates when it comes to selling creations by developing and evolving a genuine strategy, which fits you and your work.
The further we got into the book the more we realised we simply didn’t have the expertise to do some of the topics justice, so we went on a hunt. We’ve got interviews and input from some of the top selling Etsy creatives in the world, incredible product photographers, illustrators who have shipped 5000 prints in 48 hours, world leading social media specialists and many more. It completely snowballed and ended up going from a mini-project to a whole book jam-packed with really clear advice from people who speak from hard-earned experience. The thing that amazed me was just how much helpful advice these successful people can offer the wider creative community.

Essentially, if you are serious about making money from your creative passion then this book is tailor made for you!
What made you want to write a book?
Well I must say the desire came from genuine empathy. Running Two Red Trees with my partner puts us in contact with so many incredibly talented people who’d love to be making a full time living from their passion. I know how hard it is to have the things you love take a back seat to 9-5 working life and I just don’t think it needs to be like that for everyone. Many creatives produce work which people out there would be happy to pay for. We wanted to help them find this audience and set the selling wheels in motion.

Is your book aimed mainly at the UK or American market?
‘Get Paid for Your Passion’ is for anyone creative looking to sell work more effectively. This said we’re from the UK so all the financial advice such as how to price work and cost overheads are in pounds sterling. There’s also some UK specific advice on how to set up your taxes the Managing Director of an accountancy firm who is also a creative herself. International readers can just skip these UK-specific pages – the real value is in the approach and the principles apply to any currency.
Why do you think so many creative people struggle with the business side of selling their creations?
To flip the question on its head, why would they be business-minded in the first place? Like any new skill-set, developing a business-savvy approach takes practice. It’s a whole new outlook which creative people often have little to no exposure to. The unexpected thing is it can be really rewarding and fun. For example we talk readers through customer profiling – who are their target audience? What magazines do they read? What words and lingo do they use to describe things? You can build a complete picture of your customers to help steer your creativity and how/where you sell your creations. I think overall it’s easy to see the business side of things as a dark art. Put simply, we just want to flick the lights on!

When and where can we get our hands on a copy of your book?
Very soon! The book will be released on Amazon in November and the downloadable e-book will be available on our website Commercial Creatives. If you want a reminder then drop me an email through the website and I’ll add you to the mailing list.
Is there anywhere we can go to find out more?
The website has some great preview material including 4 free chapters. These include one on the journey the book will lead you through and another on how to steer your creativity towards more profitable markets whilst staying true to your own style. We’re so new we’ve only just set up our Facebook page - like it to stay up to date with the book!

We’re seriously excited about releasing it and based on some of the feedback I’ve had recently I think it could prove to be a real game-changer for creatives who want to make money from their passion!
Thanks so much for popping in – it was lovely to chat with you.
You too Wendy, it would be great to stay in touch and of course we’re here if any of your readers have questions for us.

Keep reading this blog for details of how to win a copy of Get Paid for your Passion!

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