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Archive of ‘Explore YOUR Business’ category

Boundaries for Business Health

Boundaries for Business Health1

How do you have enough time to grow your creative business and still eat, sleep, take care of your family, and, ya know, live life? 
Every week I talk to Starship Captains with four kids and Captains with full-time jobs and Captains (like me) with only a pet to disturb us…and everything in between. And every single one of us struggles with this having enough time thing (at least occasionally).

Like almost everything we talk about around here, there’s not an easy answer. But there is one way to make this a whole lot easier and less hectic:

Set boundaries.

Set boundaries around your working time, and stick with them.
Set boundaries around your not-working time, and stick with them.
What the boundaries are don’t matter. (You could work for one hour a day or one day a week or 120 hours a month. You can work in the mornings, evenings, weekends, full moons. Whatever works for you and your family.)

What matters is that you consciously choose boundaries and that you communicate them (more on how to communicate in tomorrow’s podcast).

You don’t know when to start, so you struggle to get started. (Oh, I’ll just do this first).
If you don’t know when you are going to be working, you may feel guilty every moment that you’re not working. (I could be working now!)
And when you do work, if you don’t know when you’re going to stop, the work can just drag on forever. (I don’t know when I’ll get back to this! I should do it now!)
When they don’t know when you’re going to stop, your family (anyone around you who wants to spend time with you) is going to be less understanding, because they want to know when they can go back to hassling you. (She’s always working!)

(If you feel like I’m describing your life, trust me, you are not alone. This is informed by many other makers who have the same experience).

So you see, knowing when you’re going to work and for how long, allows you to know:

  • When to start (no procrastinating!)
  • When to stop (no dragging it out!)
  • When others can engage with you (with no guilt!)
  • That you’re going to get your stuff done at a specific time, so you can stop obsessing about it right now. (In theory. I’ve yet to meet a maker who can stop obsessing full stop, but this certainly helps.)

Remember: The boundaries can be WHATEVER. They don’t have to be a specific time, they could simply be: One hour today, and I quit at the end of the hour. No blogs/social media/phone in that hour.
I’ve found that most people do best setting up their plan for the upcoming week (instead of waiting to figure out when you’re going to work each day), and the more ritualized you make it (I always start writing after my first cup of coffee or I sew for one hour after the kids go to bed), the less of an internal struggle it is.

What are your boundaries?

Do you need to set new ones?

 

How to make more money (with math)

How to make more money (with math)

One of the most-asked about topics in my inbox is money: what to charge, how to make more, how to thrive.

Last week in my free Q+A, Beth asked:

“How do I increase my rate of pay? How do I make more for every hour I work?”

The simple answer is: You change your numbers. Usually, you change your prices. Or it might be that you need to change your expenses. Or you change your efficiency.
You see, there’s no easy answer I can give you…but it’s very simple to find your own answer.

Do the Math

 

The math will show you how much your item costs, how much you can charge for it, and how many you need to sell in order to be profitable and in order to make what you want to make.

Instead, I talk to many makers who have set their prices randomly. They change their prices willy-nilly. They base it on other people, “the market,” or what a stranger said to them one time. They exclaim, “I couldn’t charge a fair price for all this!” They feel frustrated and confused, because they’re just guessing.

So stop guessing. Do the math.

The math is not that hard, and I’ve collected all of it for you in one place: Pricing 101. I’ve totally refreshed this popular class with 2 recorded audio lessons: the first with 3 equations for finding your right price and the second on how to actually get the price you deserve.

The class is only available in two places: As a bonus to Pay Yourself, and in the Starship Library.
Why? Because knowing the right price isn’t enough. You absolutely need to set your price…but then you need to test it in the real world of your business. You need to know your Break-Even point, your production capacity, and your monetary goals. And that’s what you’ll do in Pay Yourself.

So grab Pricing 101 (2 hour-long audio lessons + transcripts + apply-it-yourself worksheets) with Pay Yourself right here.

 

Pay-Yourself-button

The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

This tree is one of my favorites & I wanted to catch it now, before it changes.   Song of the run: I Believe In a Thing Called Love by The Darkness   #foundwhilerunning #taralovesmorningsMy best amigo endures the sombrero.   #becauseJayisthebest
Jay made delicious #vegan tacos, with red cabbage slaw.  #whatveganseat #becausejayisthebest
Loove the architecture in downtown Asheville.  Even better: the people! Insta-friend @carolinspinner came to tonight's class and made it that much better! (Her biz is gonna ROCK.)  (The picture isn't crooked, the hill is that steep.) #avl #taralovesadvent
Teaching at Haywood Community College tonight, so I drove over to Asheville early for a solo-adventure day. First up: haircut, followed by coffee & pancakes & soysage. #avleats

I am so grateful for…

  • An easy and engaging class (Pricing 101) at a local community college
  • Making new friends with awesome students
  • A fantastic birthday celebration for my love

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating:

  • Tacos with red cabbage slaw (no recipe, just saute up some filling, and douse your red cabbage/kale mixture in apple cider vinegar, oil, salt, pepper)
  • Tempeh Chili con frioles

In case you missed it: 

  • Monday I was interviewed by Michele Schism on her radio show! Listen in here (I join the call at the 30 minute mark)
  • I updated my Live Workshops page with dates in Spruce Pine, NC and Ventura, CA (Craftcation!)
  • Today is the LAST day to help me out by voting for my panels at SXSW. Please vote here and here.

What adventures have you had?

 

Sometimes, being an explorer means asking for help.

True fact: I have a hard time asking for help. But with the encouragement of the #starshipbiz, I'm trying to get better, especially in service of something scary and big and exciting.   Newest scary thing: I've proposed panels for #SXSW!  You can help by
Remember when I told you about TNNA and how it inspired me to commit to being OPEN to new opportunities, even if I didn’t see how I could possibly do it?

Well, more than halfway through this year, I can assure you that that commitment has definitely challenged me. It challenged me to teach for 18 hours (a good 9x more than the longest class I had ever taught), on video, in a fancy studio, in front of 5,000 (and counting!) students. It challenged me to start a podcast. And then another (knitting!) podcast with a friend. It challenged me to teach to my largest-ever in-person audience (alpaca farmers!).

And now my dedication to being Open is challenging me to do something new: Speak at SXSW. At the insistence of Shannon and Heather, I’m joining them in submitting two workshops.

And I could use your help.

You see, the panels are open to voting, and anyone can vote (whether you attend or not!). Voting makes up 30% of the decision (the other part: 40% by Advisory Board, 30% by SXSW staff). It will help us tremendously if you vote.

Here’s what we’ve planned

1. For SXSWedu (the education conference, for educators of all types), we’re going to talk about different platforms (like the Starship!) for adult education + how to choose which one is right for your goals.
2. For SXSWi (“Interactive”, for tech and entrepreneur-types), we’ll discuss the power of educational platforms in building your community…and how to actually find the time for it.

Voting is quick and simple:
1. Create an account.
2. Visit both of the class links (above) and hit the little “thumbs up” sign next to it.
3. That’s it!

To be honest, it was challenging for me to ask for this. I’d rather be useful and provide help, not ask for it. But my Starship Captains convinced me. So! Deep breath!
If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, the blog posts, the free weekly lessons, or just hanging out online with me, please vote here and here.

Thanks!

How to find your buyers

FInd your right PeopleThis is the single most-asked question I receive:
How do I find buyers? How do I let them find me? WHO THE HECK ARE THEY?!?

(You can hear the panic, can’t you?)

Well, here’s where you start:

(Click through to watch the video)

 

You see, instead of thinking about the buyer, you can back into figuring her out by first identifying what it is your (awesome) product does. What does it do for the buyer? And then, what deep need does that fill in your buyer’s life?

 

If you’d like to know what to do after you identify the need, check out the entire class here.

4 steps to make your dream more do-able

(If you’re reading via email, click through to watch the video)

Whenever I talk to makers about their goals, I hear the same frustration over and over:

I’m great at setting goals…but never seem to succeed with STICKING with them.”

In my CreativeLIVE class, we spent the whole third day translating your marketing and your dreams into a do-able plan, that will take you towards your true goals (and not just what you think you should do.

In the above video snippet, I share 4 actionable tips for making your goals more do-able. 
1. Get Super Specific
2. Recognize the support you have + the support you need
3. Keep it in line with your North Star
4. Be Flexible


If you want to get clear on your marketing and how they shape your dreams, you can buy the entire class (and watch a few more sneak peeks), right here: http://cr8.lv/taraswigerclyt

Marketing for Crafters

How to Market your Crafts, on CreativeLIVE with Tara Swiger

Eep! It’s nearly here and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

 

This week I’m teaching a FREE three-day class on all aspects of marketing your handmade business. From your Right People, to clarifying your message, to crafting a Customer Path that effectively connects with your people, to deciding what (of the hundreds) of tools to use, to crafting a plan you’ll actually stick with…we’re going to cover it all, in detail. And best yet: We’re going to apply it to your business, exactly where you are right now.

Awesome, right?

In the last few weeks I’ve gotten a few questions more than once, so in case you have them too, I wanted to share them with you. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments, and I’ll get to them as fast as I can (while flying across the country!)

How does this work?

Go here and click “RSVP”. You’ll get both the syllabus and the workbook right away, so you’ll be ready to start class Thursday morning. At 9am PST (Noon EST) on Thursday, July 17th, class will begin! You’ll get a reminder email to log on and when you do you’ll see me teaching, in real time! There’s a chat room for you to ask your questions (the hosts will be lobbing your questions at me on the regular) and a hashtag (#swigerlive) so you can connect with your fellow students. Each morning you’ll get a reminder email so you don’t miss anything!

What’s the schedule?

July 17, 2014
Goal for today: You will end class with the language you can use to talk directly to your customer (and you’ll know exactly who that customer is)

9:00am – What Marketing is (and isn’t)
10:30 – 10:45 – break
10:45 – 12:00 – Crafting Your Message: Spot Your Sparkle
12:00 – 12:45 – lunch
12:45 – 2:15 – Your Right People (who they are, where to find them)
2:15 – 2:30 – break
2:30 – 4:00 –  Translate your message into your Right People’s language.

 

July 18, 2014
Goal for the day: You will understand how customers find you, fall in love with you, and buy from you – so that you can take focused, results-driven action.

9:00 – 10:30 – How to build (and improve) your Home Base
10:30 – 10:45 – break
10:45 – 12:00 –  Hi! How people find you.
12:00 – 12:45 – lunch
12:45-2:15 – Come Closer! Enticing a buyer into your world
2:15 – 2:30 – break
2:30 – 4:00 – Buy! That magic moment (and what comes next)

 

July 19th, 2014
Goal for the day: Create a concrete plan that aligns with your goals, and learn how to filter out everything that doesn’t.

9:00-10:30 -The power of knowing what you want.
10:30 – 10:45 – break
10:45 – 12:00 – Choose your tools: from Instagram to craft shows
12:00 – 12:45 – lunch
12:45 – 2:15 – How to hold an experiment (and learn what really works for you)
2:15 – 2:30 – break
2:30 – 4:00 – Make your own map: Create a do-able plan to get things done.

Keep in mind the times are approximate. Each segment might go over or under a smidge.(You can download this with a description of each segment here)

What if I can’t watch live?

Watching live is free, but you can purchase anytime access. You can get the whole class here for $59 (the price will go up after class, so jump on it!) or you can buy each day separately (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). Each Day’s page tells you what we’ll cover on that day, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Whether you can watch live or not, you may want to purchase the class to get some amazing bonuses: 

  • Anytime access to the videos (so you can refresh yourself!)
  • Free access to Craft an Effective Blog
  • Free access to Automagical Email Series
  • $100 off the Solo Mission

Should I  take this class if I bought the book?

YES. Although I’ll hit on some book bits in Day 1 (specifically, Right People and Your Message), I’ve updated it all based on the last two years of working with designers, makers, and artists. I now know more about what really works in businesses just like yours, since I wrote the book over 2 years ago. Also: Day 1’s first segment is entirely new material (not taught in any class), and Day 2 and Day 3 aren’t in the book anywhere.

Should I take this class if I took the Customer Path class?

YES! We’ll cover the Customer Path in Day 2, but we’ll also hit on the big piece we couldn’t get to: How to build an effective Home Base (so your Customer Path leads people to someplace great). Plus, Day 1 and Day 3 will be totally new to you.

I’m bummed I missed the Customer Path class, where can I get it?

Well, you’re in luck! The Customer Path material is no longer available anywhere other than the Starship or in this class! (Day 2, Segment 2-4).

I don’t have a business yet, I just have ideas.

Ready for some tough love? If you are still just “playing around” with “some ideas”, but you really REALLY want a business (and not a hobby) – step away from the internet. Stop taking classes, stop reading books, and stop looking at what other people are doing. Go into your creation cave and create your best work. Make 5-10 of them (whether this is products, designs, artwork, whatever). Ask yourself if you enjoy this enough to make 50 more. Then, take some pictures and make it available for sale (either online or in a craft show).
THEN, you are ready to start thinking about marketing your work.
In other words, this class is going to be most useful to you if you know what you make and it’s available for people to buy, somewhere. If you’re not sure how to move from Idea to Business, check out Kari Chapin’s class on getting started.

 

Got a question? Ask and I’ll answer (in between traveling). Hope to see you in the class! 

The Power of Practice {podcast}

Power of Practice
“How do I get comfortable talking about my work?”
A client asked me this a few weeks ago and my answer surprised her. In order to get comfortable sharing your handmade business – you practice! Don’t worry if you don’t sound natural and comfortable yet, you’ll get there with practice.
In this episode I talk about how I practice – before a craft show and before a class (it’s kind of embarrassing), and we talk about the three things you MUST be doing in your handmade business.
To figure out WHAT to say when you talk about your work and find the most effective actions in building a business you’ll love, join me in my (free!) class with CreativeLIVE here.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).
  • Get all the blog posts, email lessons + podcast episodes in your inbox, subscribe via email.

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

Never miss an episode!

How to pick your goal

Set your goals for the rest of 2014 with the Explore Your Enthusiasm podcast, on TaraSwiger.com

Play

Happy Middle of the Year!

How’s your 2014 going? Have you come closer to your goals for the year? Or have you forgotten all about them?
Either way, this is a great time to reset your intentions for the rest of the year and make a new map.

But where are you going?

In this episode you’ll hear my favorite ways to set a good, clear goal that will bring you to a business you really want. I also share an embarrassing story about getting lost, and the importance of not just setting your destination, but paying attention the entire way there (with regular review!)

Links mentioned:

 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).
  • Get all the blog posts, email lessons + podcast episodes in your inbox, subscribe via email.

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

Never miss an episode!

 

 

Stop calling it “self-promotion”

This week I’m deep in my writing cave finishing materials for my (free!) three day class with CreativeLIVE. To keep writing AND keep you exploring,  I’m revisiting and refreshing one of the most popular posts I’ve written from 2012. 

Revisiting & refreshing one of my most popular blog posts.

I’m allergic to the term “self-promotion.”

Lots of crafters call the process of getting their work in front of other people “self-promotion”, and it’s not just a malapropism; it’s dangerous! It  distracts you from what you should be doing.

Self-promotion sounds gross. In fact, just promoting yourself, telling everyone how great you are, is kinda gross. No one wants to be around the girl who can’t stop talking about how great she can sing. (You know the girl.)

But calling it self-promotion is dangerous.

If “promotion” is the only way you’re thinking of marketing, you’re avoiding it. And that’s dangerous, because you’re probably avoiding all the other aspects of marketing, too.

(Or you’re the other kind of creative, that just accepts the gross aspect of self-promotion and fills your twitter stream with “just listed [link to shop]“…but I’m pretty sure that’s not you.)

Marketing, however, is the process of communicating with your people, about your product, your business and how it can help them.

Promotion is only (a small) part of the marketing equation.

It might help to know that traditional marketing (as defined in my past-life, MBA marketing classes), Promotion is just one of the 4 P’s of Marketing.
In other words, it’s only one quarter of all the marketing you do for your business. In creative businesses, I have a theory that it’s even less than 1/4, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

The 4 P’s of Marketing is a framework for thinking about your marketing mix (all the things you do to communicate with your people). Inherent in the concept of a marketing mix is the belief that Promotion isn’t everything; that your focus should not only be on telling people about your work.

The other P’s:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place

Product

It all starts with what you’re selling – Is it something people want? If so, what about it do people want? Is that clear? Is there a new product you can add (or delete) from your line to reach a new market?
Read more about marketing with Product here.

Price

We already know that pricing is not a benefit…but it is a tool for marketing. Not just special pricing (a sale or discount), but the overall pricing strategy: Do you have a range of prices? Do your prices appeal to one market over another? What does your price say about the quality of your product?
Read more about marketing with Price here.

Place

Where your product is sold directly effects the market it reaches. Is your product where it’s people can find it? If you only have an online store, do you know your Right People shop online? When you pick a craft show, do you make sure your people will be there? How do you pick a shop to carry your goods? Where does news of your business show up? Is that really where your buyers are?
Read more about marketing with Place here.

 

See, there’s lots of marketing to do that doesn’t involve promotion.

What Ps do you use in your marketing mix?
Is there one you want to explore?

Want to learn more about your marketing?

Check out my new (free!) 3 day class with CreativeLIVE. It’s going to cover EVERY aspect of your marketing, from finding your Right People to how to write content that connects to making a plan to get your marketing done. Enroll here.

 

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