Combining a business with your job

22 February 2021

For many businesses, juggling other responsibilities, whether that be family commitments or other jobs, is a fine art.

We asked Mike Aspinall, the fabulous creator behind The Crafty Gentleman brand, how he manages to combine his business with his job.

Hello. I’m Mike

Crafter Mike Aspinall - The Crafty Gentleman - in his craft room.

I’m a crafter, blogger, and soon-to-be author! I run a craft business and DIY blog called The Crafty Gentleman, where I share hundreds of free projects you can make yourself at home. I’m also one of the ambassadors for Cricut here in the UK (which is a dream role!).

Alongside my craft business, I also have a part-time day job in digital marketing. I work from Monday to Thursday, which leaves Friday as my main crafting day. Unsurprisingly, it’s my favourite day of the week! It’s also usually the busiest day too. I invariably have a lot to catch up on, and cram into one day…

A (Fri)day in the life

It’s a cliche, but every day is different when it comes to running my craft business! Some days will be spent catching up on admin, like invoicing and taxes, emails, and project planning. Others will be spent creating and photographing new projects for the blog. That could be anything from sewing in my craft room, to woodworking in the garden. And other days are spent at TV studios, having interviews, or doing live recordings. I love how varied this career is – it keeps things fresh and doesn’t leave any room for boredom!

My advice for anyone wanting to combine a business with a job is that it’s all in the planning.

Plan to succeed

The one thing about my crafting Fridays that is constant, is that they actually begin the night before. I always take 10 minutes to write myself a list of what I want to achieve the next day. This helps me hit the ground running as soon as I get out of bed, and allows me to be as productive as possible.

Generally, I’ll set myself 1-2 ‘big’ goals for the day. For example, a project I want to make, or a series of blog posts I plan to write. I’ll then add in a few smaller, quicker items – like emails I need to send, or some admin tasks to get done. I’ll invariably set myself more to do than I actually have time for, but I’m learning to accept that that’s okay!

There’s only so many hours in the day, and it’s impossible to be 100% productive, 100% of the time.

I’m also a big advocate for batch working (grouping together similar tasks and working on them at the same time). So I’ll often have a ‘sewing day’ one week, then a ‘photography day’ the next. Then maybe a ‘writing and editing’ day after that, and so on. Although let’s keep things real: it’s not always this fun, there’s also the ‘admin and taxes’ days…

My book project

Not only am I combining my business with a job, I am also writing a book…

Recently, a lot of my time has been spent working on my very first craft book (exciting!). The book is due to be published in spring 2021 – you can read more about it here.

I’m currently in the thick of writing the book. I’ve designed all of the projects and made half of them. (I can’t wait to share them!)

I’m definitely starting to realise how much time and effort a book demands, especially as I’m designing, making, and photographing all of the projects myself! It’s a challenge juggling it alongside my other craft work, and my day job. But I’m really enjoying the process so far, and it feels like a natural progression from writing a craft blog for so many years.

Cricut x The Crafty Gentleman

I’m fortunate enough to have worked with lots of really cool brands over the years – but Cricut is, by far, the most significant.

My partnership with Cricut goes all the way back to 2017 when I first worked with the team on a few sponsored blog posts. Since then, I’ve represented Cricut on Hochanda TV, run Cricut demos at lots of events across the UK, designed projects for Design Space, and even spoken at the global Cricut conference in Utah (best week ever!).

The Cricut Maker is my must-have craft gadget. It’s no exaggeration to say that my Cricut machines are some of my most-used craft gadgets. I’d struggle to run my business without them. Especially my Maker, which I turn to again and again. It helps me create customised and professional makes for so many aspects of my business. This includes my online shop, where I sell a range of accessories for crafters, as well as props and tutorials for my blog. I’ve also used it for lots of ad-hoc projects, from organising my craft space right through to making a shop window display for a local business!

(I’ve also written a detailed guide to the various Cricut machines, which is now one of my most-read blog posts of all time!)

I’m endlessly thankful to the Cricut UK team for their generosity and support over the years. They really are a great bunch to work with! Going forward, I’m really excited to continue working with them on future product launches and events. (Hopefully, we can start doing physical events soon…) And, even after all these years, there’s still so much more I want to make with my Cricut machines – I’ve got so many more ideas that I can’t wait to share!

More information for uisng Cricut in a business

To see more examples of small businesses using Cricut, head to our Make to Sell pages or this blog post where we showcase a number of creative businesses using Cricut products including Mike’s Iron-On decals and ready-made gifts for crafters.