Doing What Other People Will Like vs. Doing What Inspires You

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 10

by Rena Klingenberg.

How I discovered that doing what inspires me is actually more successful than doing what I think other people will like.

Transcript of This Video:

Today I want to talk about doing what you think other people might like, versus what you are really inspired to do.

This lesson really hit home with me when I first started my jewelry business.

I started out thinking that I had to do what other people would like – and I based all of my jewelry design decisions on what I thought people would like as far as materials, techniques, styles.

And I was afraid to create the things that I really wanted to, because I was worried that people would reject them, and that felt too risky to me.

But after awhile I realized that this “safe route” of doing what I thought other people would like was boring.

It was boring to me, and it was obviously boring to them because they weren’t buying my jewelry!

So that’s when I realized that I needed to change.

I needed to be more creative and to put more of my unique self into everything I did.

I realized that the more I do what really resonates with me, the more it lights a spark for me, the better of a response it gets.

And that’s true whether I’m making jewelry, or crafts, or writing, or anything that’s creative.

If I’m using materials and ideas that really inspire me, that’s when it really lights that spark.

Some people will really connect with your creative spark – and other people won’t.

But that’s totally okay, because what you want to do is to really connect with and attract the people who resonate with your spark.

That’s how you gather customers and fans who will support you and your work.

And that doesn’t happen by playing it safe.

It happens by putting more of your unique self into everything you create – and when you focus on creating things that you are really inspired to do, and that really resonate with you.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the “creative spark” – your experiences with it, and what you think about the difference between making things you think other people will like, versus making things that you are really inspired to make.

I want to thank you so much for stopping in for another lovely coffee with me, and I will see you next time!

The Jewelry Rena’s Wearing
in This Video:

Fabric-wrapped neckwire and square copper earrings

Neckwire: Fabric-wrapped brass neckwire by Rena Klingenberg; see my Fabric Wrapped Choker Necklace Tutorial.

Earrings: Etched and alcohol inked copper earrings by Southwind Design.

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  • Tamara says:

    Good Morning, Rena! Thank you for coffee together this morning!

    This is absolutely the same process I went through earlier this year – shifting from making what I thought would be right, to taking the chance to explore what is really me. And it is scary. I felt that too. But it has been such a delight to do that! And yes, it can take you to a place more “out there”, and some people won’t like it. But there will be ones that really will love it.

    I loved what you said about people “connecting with your creative spark”. That is so neat! It’s taking it a step further than them connecting with your jewellery. Thank you for sharing that!

  • zoraida says:

    You’re soooo right, Rena! Doing what you like (love) is the only way to go. I started out trying to please everyone else. Not only was that boring, it was limiting and totally against my creative nature. Now I follow my own instincts no matter what fashion dictates. It is wonderful and so incredibly satisfying when someone appreciates my style. I literally don’t care what anyone thinks is fashionable or trendy and I LOVE it!!!

  • Nikki Bishop says:

    Dear Rena,

    Thank you for this enlightened video clip. When I first started, I used to make things that I really loved, but over time, tried to make things that “most people” would find appealing. I’ve found that I’ve been less inspired by my own work, and less apt to sell it as efficiently. Recently, I’ve also seen that I wouldn’t even want to wear most of what I make. That’s sad, I think, so I’d better get back to making the beauties that I used to!
    Thanks again for the inspiration!


    Nikki in Montreal

  • HI Rena, it’s funny your “coffee chat” is exactly what I have come back to as an artist. When I started and opened my Studio, I was worried about expenses and wanted to make things that would “sell”. What I learned is exactly what you said-Make things that resonate with you- and guess what?

    You were also right- that is what sells.

    The more I work on pieces that I am excited to make- the feeling a creative person gets, heart pumping eagerness to get to see the finished item, the more inspired and well received the jewelry ends up being.

    This is great advice to those who are maybe struggling a little in this economy.

    Kind Regards, Karen

  • Yep, I couldn’t agree more. I started making a bunch of things that I just “knew” would sell, and none of it did (well, almost none). Not only does it waste your valuable time to make something that’s not in your heart, but it’s doubly disappointing when no one buys it. There are a few things that I make that doesn’t really ‘light my fire’, but they sell like hotcakes so I keep making them. It only takes a minute to assemble so it’s no big deal. I balance this out by making sure that I can create something from my heart too. I finally have a small following of people that compete with each other to buy what I just made (more more unique pieces) and it feels amazing! Stick with what you love, the best advice ever! If no one ever buys it, then you’ve found yourself a nice little hobby that’s just right for you. If everyone buys it, now you’re in business. Good luck everyone!

  • Rena, your coffee tip is right on time!!!! It is funny how you fall back in that trap of trying to please everybody instead of doing you. Last weekend I had this inspiration on a collection and when I sat down to work it was breeze. I used what I had learn in the process of desiging and jewelry making and just when with it. If it is liked or not liked it’s ok. I like doing one of kind pieces which really inspires me and classics pieces. Thank You so much for reminding me and other to do our thing!!!!!

  • I agree that we need to create pieces that inspires us. Typically the polymer clay beads and beaded jewelry I create are inspired by thoughts, photos, and experiences. Often, I’ll draw the design, but other times, I make the item from a visual in my head. I design with my own inspiration in mind, and hoping that customers will like them is secondary. What I need to improve upon is pricing my items at their true value, rather than “under pricing” for sales. I realize that under pricing devalues my work and creativity. It is better to have a small dedicated group who appreciate and are willing to pay for your items than trying to please everyone with an enormously diverse line–that could be tiring to create such items and then try to sell them.
    It is important to do what inspires you-that is when you get excited to keep on creating!

  • Diane Smith says:

    Rena ~ One of the things I love best about you & this beautiful gathering place is your practicality and the subject you shared about today does not disappoint. Thank you!

    I agree with the other gals here that trying to guess what someone else will like usually doesn’t work. In the past, I’d see something that was in style for the season and think “Oh, I can make that & if that’s what customers want, I’ll sell tons!”. Nope! The jewelry just sat there. I found myself becoming bored with what I was making and didn’t even want to wear the style myself! If I’m not interested in wearing my own designs, why should anyone else? I also found myself losing enthusiasm for selling those pieces at my shows. It was as if someone had popped my balloon and I’d lost helium ~ I was quickly losing altitude! The only way I know to stay creatively happy is to create from within and then watch to see who “clicks” with my designs. At that point, there’s a customer-base sprouting!

  • Ann Nolen says:

    Thanks Rena, another good reminder that the best path is to follow our own instincts and passion. I believe that is what facinates our customers, and they want to be part of that by buying our work.

    I am working on something new for me, to create and make “coins” with quilt designs on them so I can hand paint them like I already do with coins. No country makes these types of designs, so I am making my own with PMC etc. I went to a Quilting Retreat with my husband recently (he is the quilter), and it was the perfect place to work on the project.

    Many of the quilters suggested I do quilt blocks, but I quickly found that boring. When I started just playing and coming up with my own thing, all of a sudden the quilters got excited about the designs. Funny I didn’t put that together until listening to your chat.

    I have been pondering where to go next with this project, and your talk has reminded me of what I already know but easily forget. So, I have a new resolve to follow my passion and do the designs in my head. May not be traditional quilting, but it is what is right for me and my art.

    Thanks again!

  • Jocelyn says:

    It is so much easier and fun creating jewelry that I get excited about. I love the feel of letting that creative energy flow and feeling the piece fall together. This is so much more satisfying than creating a piece that someone else had the idea for and wants me to create for them. You may get a piece that is ok but it is not as fulfilling as one I am excited and thrilled by. There’s nothing like the feeling of a piece coming together in the vision I had for it.

  • Diane Smith says:

    Ann ~
    I am not a quilter but I would love seeing photos of what you’re creating. They sound interesting. Please post. And best of luck to you in your creative endeavors!

  • Maria says:

    Dank je wel Rena, ben erg blij met jou koffie advies en heb het boek besteld.
    Ben nieuw in de verkoop van mijn sieraden ,sinds een jaar bezig met maken van sieraden , alles wat jij zegt klopt!Wat een angst als je iets zal maken wat niet in de mode is of wat mensen niet mooi vinden.Ook ik ben mezelf tegen gekomen,ik maak nu alleen wat me inspireert en een geluk gevoel geeft.
    Mijn liefde gaat uit naar bead embroidery en nog zoveel meer.Ga beslist vaker op jou site kijken en veel leren.
    De koffie was gelijk een stuk lekkerder……….liefdevolle hug x Maria

  • Dank je wel, Maria! (Ik hoop dat Google Translate heeft dit recht!) πŸ™‚ Hou dat gevoel van geluk – het zal u leiden in de goede richting! Ik zou graag uw kraal borduren te zien. Ik heb geen die vaardigheid. Hugs voor jou. πŸ™‚

  • Maria says:

    Hallo Rena,wat fijn dat je gelijk een reactie geeft!Daar ben ik blij om,ik sta alleen hierin en heb geen vrienden en kennissen die sieraden maken.
    Elk advies is zo belangrijk voor mij,en ik ben zo blij dat ik jou website gisteren heb gevonden bij Google!!Als je op mijn naam klikt,kom je in mijn webshop en daar staan de sieraden die ik maak,tot nu toe.Ik ben mezelf aan het zoeken ,het verkopen vind ik ook 1 van de moeilijkste dingen vandaar ook jou bijdrage met het boek.Ik kan niet wachten,maar dat komt goed.Nu met jou website ben ik al weer een stuk rustiger en het voelt vertrouwd ,dat ik het gevoel heb eindelijk een vriendin gevonden te hebben die me begrijpt!
    Hug x

  • Thank you all for your lovely comments and for sharing your experiences and epiphanies on this topic!

    It’s fascinating to hear your stories of discovering, as Ann said so well, “the best path is to follow our own instincts and passion. I believe that is what fascinates our customers, and they want to be part of that by buying our work.”

    Yes, that’s so true! I think about some of the artists’ work that has deeply moved me, and that I’ve purchased. It has a compelling force that I never get tired of. It definitely doesn’t feel like the artist made it according to what they thought people would like – but by following their own unique muse.

    And the funny thing about making something we think people will like – they never actually like it as well as they do our own inspired creations!

  • Felicia says:

    This is something I have to constantly remind myself of. I am all over the place with my jewelry creations. That is just part of who I am. I like all different kinds of styles and love mashing things up for a crazy new look.

    I spent a long time making what I thought would sell. Well I still have a box full of that jewelry, I can barely give it away!

    I get incredibly inspired when I reorganize my huge stash of supplies, so when I am in a slump I just begin opening boxes and containers and before I know it I am assembling 4 or 5 pieces at once! I have gained a good following now that I make whatever I want! Sometimes I make several similar items and sometimes the piece is completely unique and can not be made again. I like that, and so do my customers. I also love learning new techniques for my jewelry, and my customers are happy to come with me on these adventures. There is nothing better than the looks on their faces when I tell them I made that piece they are marveling at entirely by hand.

    Yay for letting our creativity dominate our sales and not the other way around! That is every artist’s dream!

  • Diana Redlin says:

    Dear Rena,

    I have been thinking of this very thing lately. It has been awhile since I had a sale and I have been kinda depressed and started feeling like maybe if I made “this” instead of really stretching my creative spark I might make a sale. But I just couldn’t do it. Well I did start and now I have half finished pieces laying around that will eventually make it to the “drawer of lost causes” sometime soon and I will pick up all the seed beads laying around and tools and threads, well this is when I know that I need to come back to who I am and make things that I want to.

    But there are even times when I do come back to my unique style that it is not always easy. Because I don’t have the skills yet to create what is in my head. So I draw my ideas in detail in my journal, and then come back to them at some future time when I have learned something new and it will help me get to where the image becomes the reality. My journals are an amazing tool because many times I forget ideas I had a week ago or even a day ago. I have journals for each year I have been beading and when I look back at them they nearly always give me inspiration and a new spark of creativity.

  • Felicia – I couldn’t agree more with your “Yay for letting our creativity dominate our sales and not the other way around!” πŸ™‚

    Diana – I’m so glad I jot down my ideas in my journals too. I often leaf back through them and am amazed at the ideas and creative visions I’ve scribbled in there and then completely forgotten!

    One thing you said that really struck home with me – “I don’t have the skills yet to create what is in my head”:

    I don’t think my finished designs ever look like what was originally in my head when I dreamed them up. Sometimes it’s because I couldn’t figure out a way to make things work the way I envisioned, and sometimes it’s because I let go and let things flow in a different direction than I originally intended. And of course often it’s because I’ve flubbed something in the process so the original plan is void! πŸ™‚

    But I’ve seen your gorgeous work, Diana, and I’d like to suggest that there’s room for both – what you originally envisioned, AND the the way the finished piece turned out.

    And of course, you’re the only one who sees that it didn’t turn out the way you planned – the rest of us see only your artistry! πŸ™‚

  • Diana Redlin says:

    Thank you Rena,
    Diana πŸ™‚

  • Rena and everyone – It’s sort of a woman thing to accommodate others at the expense of what makes us truly happy. Since we started making jewelry as a creative outlet for ourselves, maybe it’s a God given opportunity to nurture our own souls for a few moments. Maybe that’s why others respond to the work that makes us happy – just maybe happy design speaks to folks looking for a little more joy in their own lives. Of course, I am no psychologist, but I think it may be true just the same.
    Great thoughts everyone! I appreciate reading everyone’s ideas.

  • Yes, I too am so over trying to think of what people would want, or buy. I just do my own thing. I wear it if no one buys it anyway. I really create just to do it. I am a polymer clay artist, and make my own beads, along with other bought beads. And I’m very happy doing it!

  • I am inspired by so many different things, from vintage to chic to sea glass! But my sister told me I should make what is popular not what I think is unique. I beg to differ as most of what we treasure is usually one of a kind! I think I’ll compromise though and take ideas from what’s popular and make it more special. That should work, I hope! LOL By the way, my life was blessed the day I came across your website. I have learned so much from you and cannot thank you enough Rena.

  • coraNation says:

    Whenever I try to adapt my creations to someone else’s vision I end up with a “craft fail”. It can be discouraging when someone sees your art and says “Maybe you should do this or try that.” So we listen to them instead of listening to our own instincts. Also, it’s easy to let money (the lack of) send you in directions that have no connection to you as an artist. We need to FEEL our work regardless of the feelings it elicits in others. Thank you so much Rena for this forum. It continues to empower, uplift and enlighten.

  • First of all I have to apologize for my website, it is a free on set up by a friend, and I challenged when it comes to websites. I started out as a seamstress, doing alterations and custom made clothing and found everyday sewing by patterns for others Boring. Doing alterations I found kept me away form being more creative, but I find teaching others to do them more fun. Then branched out into personal and home accessories. My fabric of choice that excited me was an African cloth. At my first craft show, I made beautiful checkbook covers, book covers, fabric covered boxes and did not sell one. It was suggested by the coordinator of the event that maybe if I made them in calico. Calico, I have never been inspired by calico. I have come to realize when I create form my soul and gather inspiration form other artists the right person will find me. I also find it rewarding when I can bring someone else vision to life. Now my focus is jewelry, wearable art, and dolls, with a hodge podge of other creative stuff thrown in. “If you ever want to know what a creative persons mind feels like, Imagine a bower with 2,857 tabs open, ALL THE TIME!” PEACE!!

  • Barbara Herndon says:

    This video means alot today. I just did my first show in about four years, and a woman came up to me and asked, “Do you do any of the trends?” I have to admit, that messed with my head for awhile. I like classics – liked mid-century before it was cool – Guess I will continue to do what makes me happy. Thanks, Rena.

  • Cathy Stewart says:

    Well, I think you are right on with this. Afterall if you can’t use your creative side why bother at all. Thanks for all of your insight. Cathy

  • Hi again,
    I just did an indoor show yesterday. Most of the people were interested and bought my original polymer designs. I thought they would only buy the simple beaded earrings I make ‘because I think they will sell” I am so truly happy, and feel as though what I am doing is validated. I have signed up to do several more small indoor shows. Plus I was invited to do one while at the show yesterday!
    So yes, I am gonna do what I like to do, what I would wear, and yes, there are people who like it too.
    Thank You for this entire site. I purchased your Holiday e- book and that helped me a lot too.

  • That’s fantastic, Patti! Thank you for sharing your success – it’s great to hear you did so well by doing what you like to do! Thanks also for letting me know my ebook was helpful. πŸ™‚

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