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Author Biography:

Catherine McGinnis  is the creative mind behind Soaping101. Catherine earned her MBA, Summa Cum Laude from MSU. With a background in marketing and a keen eye for design, soap making was a perfect fit. She founded newt+fig Soaps which soon gained a faithful following and led to requests for video tutorials. She now helps Soapmakers sharpen their skills through free online classes. www.Soaping101.com



Maximize Your Downtime
By Catherine McGinnis Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Maximizing your downtime is not only a great way to refresh your mind, but it is the perfect occasion to breathe new life into your business.

As the weather begins to turn colder and the outdoor craft fairs and farmer’s markets wind down, the busiest time for many soap makers has reached a close. Fall is in the air and many of us find ourselves with extra time on our hands. Take a small breather (you deserve it) then jump right back into the groove by using this downtime to your advantage. 

Network. Who better to talk to about soap making than other soapers? Don’t think of other soap makers as your rivals but rather as your competitive allies. They are the people who understand your work, can answer your questions, understand your objectives and can help with troubleshooting. The greatest advantage of networking is that it brings people with the same interests together and builds friendships.  

You do not have to travel outside your home to find networking opportunities. Just hop on the internet. Facebook is overflowing with soap making groups of various types; cold process, hot process, melt and pour, liquid soap making and so many more. Use Facebook’s search tool to search for the key words that interest you. Take advantage of the abundance of varied information that is shared by joining a few. If chatting is not your thing, there is no foul for just reading and absorbing the knowledge of others in your field. 

Learn a New Technique. Is there a new swirl design or soap additive that you have been itching to try? Now’s your chance.  Take advantage of your downtime by experimenting. If you are lost for new ideas, head over to Youtube where you will find a plethora of soap making videos. When learning a new skill a visual is often preferred. Enjoy spending an afternoon or two watching tutorials, walkthroughs, and guides to help you get your creative juices flowing. 

You could also spend some time in your soap room playing with new ideas, additives, colorants and the like. Make small batches as not all will turn out the way you expect. There is never a failure when making soap because the end products all have the same results, soap cleans.

Modify Your Web Presence. If your business does not already have a dedicated location on the internet, now is the time. Current and potential customers do not know what you are up to unless you tell them. Give your followers something to become excited about. Maybe you are not ready to take the leap into managing your own website. Not to worry because there are many other means of web communication that can help create a buzz about your products.

A web log (blog) is one of the easiest steps to take with social media. If you have an internet connection and something to say, head over to Blogger and within minutes you will be up and running. What a blog can do for you is provide you a place on the web to share information, interact with other people, stimulate conversation and show off your beautiful soap images. In addition, Facebook offers you a similar means of communicating socially by building a Facebook page. With over 500 million in one central web location, your audience is built in. Lastly, if you do have a website, take advantage of your downtime by sprucing it up. Are your products and pricing up to date? Is your color scheme aesthetically pleasing? Is everything spelled correctly? A professional looking website is a direct reflection of your company.

Be Inspired. Enjoy the crisp fall weather and the changing colors of the foliage. The beauty of the great outdoors is one of the finest inspirations for the creative mind. Bring along a camera to document the trip. Once back at your soap studio, create a soap inspiration board with the images. A visual image is much easier to work with than just a memory. If staying indoors is more to your liking, sit back and enjoy perusing over a fashion magazine. The colorful images, patterns and graphics are sure to peak your interest. And don’t ignore the advertisements. They are created by graphic designers to jump off the page and garner your attention. Isn’t that the same reaction you want from customers who are looking at your products? It’s quite easy to get stuck in creative blocks and sometimes even harder to get out of them. Look at the world around you with an open mind and wide eyes to find your way back to the creative you.

Each minute you focus on experimenting, networking, exploring and moving your business forward will come back to you two-fold.


 
 
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