A Craftsperson’s Coat of Arrogance


Most craftspeople suffer from a lack of confidence, they are naturally quiet people  emotionally engaged  in their work and fear the world’s reaction to it.

Selling makes you uneasy,  you are not sure how good your work is, even in the face of compliments You try to protect your work from criticism by charging very little.

A bit of you knows that your lack of confidence is unjustified but that alone does not resolve the problem.


Did that make you smile? Did you like that? See, confidence is attractive. You felt comfortable and happy as I am going to help you.

And I am, just stay with me

I am going to help you  slip on a

Yes, that’s it at the top of the post, its body armour.

Doesn’t look very comfortable does it? That’s because it is not a perfect fit for you. It wouldn’t be. It’s like high heels, you have to get used to wearing it.

The point of this coat is to achieve things you want to achieve. I am not asking you to change your personality, you have a perfectly good one. I am just suggesting that there are times in a maker’s life when this is appropriate dress.

Just hang it on the hook on your workroom door and put it on when you need it.

It’s okay I am going to give you a whole lot of practical  dressing tips which will make it easier to wear.

And then I am going to give you a sniffer dog trail to check that there are no traces of your pre-Coat of Arrogance days.

I know you are a bit worried. You don’t want to be arrogant, you just want to be confident, but its okay because this coat is going to make you attractively confident. You see, you start as an underconfident person, a Coat of Confidence would just bring you up to everybody else’s level and I think you may need just a touch more than that. But you will still be you, but without the misplaced  insecurity.

All good isn’t it? Yeah, so off we go…

What we need to do is to take a look at the confidence destroyers, recognise them and know what to do

Leaches confidence. Recognise it. Duvet it.
Watch your mood if you are feeling negative take a break .

Do not try to explain depression Never say I am depressed because … my business is going badly/I hate my partner … You are depressed, because you are depressed: that’s all there is to it. If you observe yourself you will probably discover  your most creative phrase comes after a whiff of depression, it’s a cycle; so work with it.

Stress is a concentration killer with your brain whirring on empty chambers

Its worry about worry

The stress that comes from too much going on is helped by a to do list but you have to do the worst first

Stress can also be evasion A way of not facing something you should

Hope can be destructive  because it can crash into disappointment

Crafts businesses tend to make a spurt, then plateau.Think of it as building a sandcastle. The sea will keep coming in, leaving you with nothing, but that is the nature of finding your way. One day you will  build  further up the beach.

Remember  “Nothing is a bad as it seems nor as good as you think”

Also known as jealousy.

You are seeing their work and their accomplishments from the outside, from the inside you’d be surprised how shitty it looks to the owner

  Your viewpoint is skewed you can’t compare yours with theirs accurately.

Shit happens, it’s how you deal with it.

Accept that a disaster will happen from time to time, it isn’t avoidable.

Just know the  rules about handling it; fearing it is pointless.

Some  Stanford Graduate School of Business students came up with these pointers:

“Your natural reaction when something really bad happens is to think about the worst-case scenario.  But, that’s usually counter productive.  Think about the most likely scenario and solve based on that.

Try and make a realistic determination of how important it is to respond quickly.  Often, when something really bad happens, entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming they have to respond immediately.  In many cases, that’s both unnecessary — and risky.

Don’t  compound a bad event with panic-induced mistakes.      If it makes you feel any better (it should), know that most entrepreneurs (even the successful ones) have near-fatal events happen.”

If it’s a customer disaster then  a simple straightforward “my fault, sorry” goes a long way, topped off with a freebie.

On tech stuff, buy from a small local shop who will come to your rescue swiftly when things crash.

If its wind fire and earthquake insure sensibly.

The rule is Scream>Think & think again> Act (don’t react)

 Things have a way of being ok in the end

You will be ridiculed, everyone is, some visitors at craft shows say the stupidest things and they assume we are deaf. So what? Two minutes in their company would show you how idiotic these people they are, so there is no need to worry about their views. If someone you know and respect says something that makes you feel bad, talk to them as you probably misunderstood.

If people don’t like something you have made it doesn’t mean that they wont like anything you make. Finding the right products is a long unending process.

You create, They choose.

If you go into a shop and buy nothing you’d think the shop owner a lunatic if he felt ridiculed by your visit. So careful what you think. Try and stay this side of psychosis

It’s okay to be shy, lots of people are and they are more comfortable with other shy people.

Shyness does not preclude you from success unless you avoid people.

Talking to people is a kind thing to do, if you think of it that way, it’s easier.

In a face to face situation you will be more comfortable if you concentrate on showing people your work and telling them a bit about it, don’t worry about selling it, you just need to get them to look.

The Mitford sisters’ nanny used to say to them “Nobody is going to be looking at you”  and she was right; people are so self-absorbed they rarely take in anything about any one else. Shy people imagine everyone is watching and judging them but the reality is nobody is that interested.

“What ever you are bad at you can improve. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability .Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable”
Harvard business blog

As a craftsperson you have so much ground to cover, so many skills needed that you are going to have an uneven distribution of ability.

You mustn’t give in and just concentrate on what you are good at.

You must hack away until you have gained any skill you need

The language you use affects the way you react to situations

So, if  you try for a big show and they don’t take you, you are not REJECTED you MISSED OUT

 The labels you use affect your handling of situations, so watch which word you pick.

Now you have absorbed those Dressing Tips  you will now find that the Coat of Arrogance fits beautifully

While  wearing It you are going to be great company.

Your customers  will have confidence in your advice and pride in their purchase and be glad they found you. You will have a little more money to pay your bills so its  win win.

In wearing that Coat you have done nothing underhand or dirty you have simply increased the happiness in the world. With the coat on, you know your stuff is good and the price realistic.

You should wear your Coat for any thing to do with marketing  also for pricing and  negotiating.  If you start thinking negatively at other times march over to the back of the door and slip your Coat on

Think back to your school teachers, they wore Coats of Arrogance in the classroom, so you know how it plays. Its useful, sensible and helpful. Whats even better its free. Its going to make you grin with pleasure when you handle things so much better. You will no longer think I can’t, you will think why not?

So one more bit of housekeeping to be done and then I shall leave you to your delicious new way of being. We just need to check round your empire to identify any little bits of pre Coat under confidence which might need a bit of an overhaul.

Those dogs are fully trained for the task so lets see what they turn up…

UP a minimum of 50%

HARD with everyone you deal with

Concise, Organised and Confident on website and market place

Relaxed, interesting, entertaining ,  on your blog, Twitter and Facebook


Not in third person.

Not about your kids /pets/ health

No arts speak

No exclamation marks they are so under confident !!!!


Stop telling people why they should buy

Stop offering alternatives, they get what you offer

Size, Materials, Price That’s all

Stop setting yourself MAKING targets, set SELLING targets

Don’t pay for it.

Get editorial mentions for free ( involves persuasion which Coat owners are good at)

It’s your livelihood, so don’t rush to do what other people say.

 Assume  you are right, then think and decide.

Now I think I have done a very fine job for you

Enjoy your new Coat and please tell other people where you got it

cartoon person wearing body armour

More help? try these

 Craftsperson Types

Help! Not making a living

 Craftsperson’s Seven Deadly Sins

Will your business succeed?

56 thoughts on “A Craftsperson’s Coat of Arrogance

  1. ronpots2 says:

    Hi Dixie, Great post! Thanks so much. I will go over it again and again. I have been on the fence about raising my prices but after a long day of decorating yesterday and noticing how much time and love I’m putting into each piece I’m ready to do it. This post sealed the deal. My ‘cautious-self’ says I should wait and do it across the board starting in the new year instead of doing it now. Not sure whether to wait or not, but it will def. happen no later than Jan. 1, 2013.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      I dont see any logic in waiting. If you could get more money for your pieces then for heavens sake get it. If you have old stock which you dont like much, leave it at the old price. But the pieces you are completely behind and you consider are your best, up they go, Lots!

      You can always get more buyers at lower prices but you dont want them, you want fewer buyers at higher prices so you dont have to work so hard and you can spend time occasionally creating wonderful one off pieces that are really special.That way your reputation grows and brings up all your prices even more.

      You might price yourself out of some buyers’ budgets but you will enter the next budget up.

      Putting your prices up just isnt a big deal. Havent you noticed that everything you buy has gone up and they dont make a song and dance and it doesnt happen on Jan 1st.

  2. chrissiefizz says:

    I have made loads of items, in the hope of selling them one day, but haven’t got round to doing anything about it. I love your advice, and the way you have written it, I will be back. Chrissie

  3. Reprieve26 says:

    Thank you! This article has perfect timing. I’ve just officially launched the crafting business that I run from my home. I applied for my business license earlier this week and I’ve been lining up crafting fairs. You article described me perfectly– shy, less-than-confident about my work, and I price my stuff really low as a result. I’m going to print out this article and hang it on the wall next to my work station to remind myself to “put on my coat of arrogance.” :)

    ~~ Hannah (Reprieve’s Corner)

  4. D says:

    What a great post indeed! I must agree with what you have said from, “your lack of confidence is unjustified” to “don’t rush what other people say”. Loving the whole post! I think you just made my unnecessary worries vanished. Thanks so much! Cheers to Coat of Arrogance!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      D That’s good,thank you.
      I looked at your online places and there is a great sense of a business being built. The next thing you need to work on is your product photographs as they are pretty certainly blocking sales.
      There is a lot of help online for taking good pictures, look at how similar pieces are shot elsewhere on Etsy and use a photo editor to crop and resize and lighten where you need to until it looks it’s best. What ever you do kill the yellowness of your photos, if it’s your camera then borrow someone’s else ‘s.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Okay get a friend to visit your blog and your facebook and tell them to buy something from you and see how long it takes them to see how they can do that. I have just spent ages drilling down to find your Etsy.

      Be very very clear on both sites, whats for sale, how much it costs and where to buy. Strengthen those links think of a very old lady trying to buy some bootees for her grandaughter’s child and make it really easy for her.

      Put your prices up and you will be above the something for nothing market. Read the Juicy Customer Segment post and see if that helps you think about where to pitch your products

      You cant change the buying public you can only change your offer.

  5. Rachel Reynolds says:

    Reading this the day after being rejected for a big pitch. So today I am rejected and dejected!!!! Will go and find myself one of these suits. Can I get a rubber version that will make me bounce back?

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Rachel You have just given me more work to do, now I need to add a new bit to my post about Language and its all your fault

      You said you were rejected for a big pitch. That is bad language. If you had said I missed out on a big pitch, it would put things far more as they actually were and it would be so much easier to deal with.

      Most things don’t work out, that just comes with the territory. If you dramatise it you loose so much energy and start to convince yourself that its not working even though your reaction is not justified by what has actually happened.

      One cough does not mean you have consumption.

  6. Pete Moncrieff-Jury says:

    Oh dear, there are so many turners out there who are making much better stuff than me and everyone seems to sell more than I do and I keep seeing the faults in the things I have made and I really feel guilty charging so much for the things I have made and why doesn’t anyone want lessons from me or have me do demos I must be such a boring person and lacking in oersonality and who am I kidding trying to make a living doing this and and and and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now where did I puit that d**n coat?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think someones’ nicked mine. I saw a couple of makers around this summer that appear to be wearing more than one!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      You are absolutely right I call them Peacocks my Craftsperson Types post

      “The Peacock

      Mainly spotted at craft fairs and teaching workshops showing off. Has a loud penetrating voice, flamboyant plumage, is larger than life and  frequently male. Attractive to some and repugnant to others, has their own coterie, and  a tendency to bully.”

      interestingly no one ever seems to admit to being one but you are right they are wearing two not one. One makes you happy and nice, two is one too many and has regrettable results.

  8. tartanmoose says:

    You do make me smile! (I’m not prepared to give up exclamation marks just yet.) I can’t wait to get to the stage where I’m actually selling so that I can put all your excellent advice to good use. :) I will practise wearing my C.O.A. now. Thanks for a great post.

      • Hannah says:

        My dad did drop a hammer on my head when I was a baby apparently, I wonder if that’s the problem, I’ll tell him. What’s the website address for getting one of these coats ordered then?

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      I very rarely need it, I am far too cock sure to be nice. Sometimes at the end of an awful show when every one around me has made a fortune and I have limped along having apparently developed Leprosy, then I should put it on, but instead I just get angry with the world.

  9. Aida says:

    PERFECT TIMING! (Oops there goes an under confident exclamation) This is just what I needed. I got accepted to display my craft for the month of October at a store in a very well-to-do part of town. Excited and insecure about it. I shall hang this to my wall in front of my work table. 50% increase in price sounds very concise and precise, I like it! (oops, again)
    Love your posts! Thanks for all your help.

  10. Dixie Nichols says:

    O peoples what can I say but thank you.

    I hugely enjoyed writing it and adore my 69pence Ipad app that allowed me to annotate the photo and do the headings. (Its called Notability if you want to get it)

    I think advice should be easy to read and fun if that is how you found it then I am really delighted

    I keep wanting to use exclamation marks but I know that would give the game away

  11. Leisure Time says:

    I have to admit this is just the pep talk I needed, thanks for the C of A it will become one of my regular outfits. :)


  12. Anonymous says:

    What a great post, I really did enjoy it very much, & need to read it as well. Thanks so much for posting the very insightful & inspiring post. Have an Awesome Day

  13. Penny Graham-Jones says:

    What a fantastically helpful post, thank you so much. I’m going to print it off and hang it up on the door (with my C of A) to read when ever necessary (which is daily)

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