Archive of ‘Explore YOUR Business’ category
One thing that comes up every time I talked about money-making with a group of women is “need” and who needs what and how much and how this impacts their work. This is a loaded, emotionally-charged issue, but it’s time we talk about this openly and without shame.
The simple fact is:
Some makers need to make money from their craft in order to pay the bills + some makers do not need this money to pay the bills.
I think of this as the Spectrum of Money Need. There are some of us on the far side of MUST make this money to pay the bills. If you’re single or if you’re the main “breadwinner”in the family – your business, no matter how much you love it, has to support you financially. On the far other end are those who have another income that pays all of their bills (this might be a day job or a partner’s income). Most business owners are somewhere in the middle. (Perhaps you have a part-time job, or your creative work brings in 35% or 70% of your needs.)
Everyone, no matter their need, deserves to be paid for the work of their hands.
This is why I created Pay Yourself and this is the reason students across the spectrum love it – makers are ready to start valuing their work.
This is a common rallying cry around the craft community, but it usually get stuck in the “people should charge more” debate. I take it a step further. It is not your buyer’s job to be sure you’re paid fairly. It’s not the community’s job to set a standard of fair prices.
It’s your job. It’s your responsibility to price your work competently, to know your expenses, to be aware of your Break Even Point. It’s your responsibility to not only know these numbers, but to make smart decisions informed by them. It’s your responsibility to keep paying attention to what your business and customers are telling you. And it’s your responsibility to stay open to change.
No matter what you need in terms of income – you have this responsibility if you want to build a sustainable, satisfying business*. No matter what you need, you have no more (or less) right to be paid fairly, and no more (or less) responsibility to make that happen.
There are differences – where you are on the Spectrum of Money Needs will impact what you struggle with. Makers who don’t feel a pressing “need” for the money often feel weird about charging for their work, or making decisions based on the numbers. Makers who desperately need the money so that they can continue to eat often feel overwhelmed and frustrated. They want to know exactly what to do to make it all work out. (Triple the stress if you have other people counting on you to feed them as well.)
You see, your hesitations and fears are normal. You are not alone. You are not more or less deserving than the crafter next to you.
No matter where you are in this spectrum – you deserve to be paid.
Your work is worth the effort. Your gifts are worth the work you’ll do to find the profitability. Only by truly believing this, and taking on the responsibility for your own business, will you find your way to what you want. (And remember – you get to define success for yourself.)
While you’re at it, while you’re working on believing in your own worth, take a moment to accept the worth of everyone else. Let’s stop debating who has a “real” business and let’s stop trying to figure out who is making “real” money. You just don’t know. You don’t know how hard anyone else works or their own issues with self-worth. You don’t know, so stop using it as a yardstick (or excuse) for your own goals.
If you’re ready to get real about your own numbers + take responsibility for making money, check out Pay Yourself – it’s now a self-paced e-course and for this week only it’s on sale – $20 off. If you’re ready to value your work and get paid, this class will help you find the profitability and improve on it.
*Don’t care about making money on your craft? That’s ok! Check out: Is it a business or a hobby?
Welcome! Come right in and make yourself comfy!
I’m so so happy to introduce you to my redesigned site! It’s been an amazing (and overwhelming) experience and I’ve learned SO much.
(If you’re reading this via email, click through to see my brand new site!)
The changes represent a massive visual re-branding, created + implemented by Jessika Hepburn. Well, it can hardly be considered a “re”-branding, since I didn’t have visual branding to begin with.
And this brings us to the lessons I learned:
- Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you have a visual brand.
A website designer is not the same as a visual branding specialist. (Although some do awesome visual branding, you should be clear up front on what you’re looking for.) You see, a website designer will design your website – give you a cool template, and maybe make a few buttons for you. But they’re not looking at the entire visual identify of your business. And for many of you graphic designers + artists – that’s perfect, because you are skilled at creating your own visual identity.
But I am not. I can use Photoshop and I know what I like, but that doesn’t mean I can illustrate or even come up with the ideas of what will communicate what I want to communicate. As Jessika said when we started this process: Your voice is SO clear in your words, you just need your visuals to match it.
Although there was also a change to my website’s layout, the focus was on creating a cohesive visual presence, that matched with my words + my work, so that as soon as you land here, you can get it.
- You are responsible for knowing what you want. But often someone else can spot your sparkle better than you can.
Whether you’re working with a designer, an exploration guide, or a hairstylist – you have to know what it is you want. You need to be clear on what you do, who you serve, and how you want them to feel. So your first step is to get crystal clear on that (which is what the first 2 chapters of my book help you do.)
But then, once you’re really in it, sometimes you can’t see what makes you so special – that special blend of happiness and delight that you bring into your customer’s life. This is where working with a professional is so important – they can see what you do well + how that’s different from what other people do + how to communicate that. (This assumes you’re working with someone who really *gets* you.)I hope that what I really wanted out of the redesign (for you to feel comfortable and happy and encouraged) + what Jessika spotted in my work (silliness + boldness + adventure) comes across in what you see on the page. (I think it does!)
- Prioritize what you want your reader to do.
Even though I literally wrote the book on this (Chapter 4), it was still super hard. This is where knowing your customer’s path comes in.* I’ve learned that the path most customers take is –>read blog + like it –> subscribe to email lessons –> buy book or class –> join Starship (once inside the Starship, we work together one-on-one). This leads to the best, most productive relationships, with the biggest transformations in their business, so it’s my job to make that path clear + easy.
*I’ll be teaching a brand-new class about this next month!
How can you make your Customer Path even easier?
Now that you know what went on behind the scenes, here’s what actually changed:
- I have a home page! It’ll help you navigate to whatever you need.
- I have a shop! Finally, all of my classes, guides, books, and adventures are in one spot. (And I have a cart! So you can buy more than one thing at a time without checking out multiple times! Magic!)
- A brand-new page for new readers. If you’re not sure where to start, this page will introduce you to what you can find (and where!)
- Check out the new footer – no matter what page you land on, you’ve got a chance to meet me (hi!) + learn a bit about being an explorer.
- Stars, smiling planets, and pink! Jessika did a glorious job designing my new logo (up top!) and adorable illustrations for my products.
The smiling planet is my fave. Isn’t it adorable?!
A note for subscribers
- If you subscribe to the blog via email, you don’t have to do a thing, you’ll still get the messages same as always.
- If you use an RSS reader, you’ll have to update it to link to taraswiger.com/blog/feed.
- If you only get the weekly message but you’d like to get the blog posts too, you can always edit your subscription by heading here, putting in your info and “update subscription”
And that’s it!
Do you have any questions about the process or the new site?
PS. Jessika isn’t just a designer, she’s also a genius community-builder + supporter. If you’d like to meet more of our community + get away from it all, check out her Maker’s Retreat.
For the last year, I’ve had the same project on my to do list – my next book. Last April, I made it my Destination (the bigger goal you’re working towards in a map) for the quarter. I made VERY little progress on it. I was disappointed, but I learned: I have a lot going on that I’m not willing to put aside to give this my 100% attention. (I’m equally excited about this book and my online and in-person workshops.)
So I adjusted. I got more specific. In Q4, I set the goal to just finish the outline. Well, that didn’t really work out, but I DID work on it every week and got a lot clearer on what I’m really writing.
In 2014, I decided it would be one of my big goals for the year: I’m going to write and self-publish this book sometime during the year. (It’s also alongside my goasl to teach at least 4 workshops around the country (1 down!), and to create one completely new digital class (coming soon!), and overhaul Pay Yourself (done!) and to continue to add content to the Solo Mission.)
I looked back at what I’d already done, and what else I had going on and I decided that I would be satisfied if I wrote on it every weekday. That went great through February, but when Pay Yourself got crazy, it went out the window.
Now we’re at the beginning of a new quarter and I’ve got two options:
- I can be bummed that this project I’m totally in love with hasn’t gone farther. I can recognize that my life is too busy for this project. I can give up on it, or put it aside, or let myself fall out of love with it by judging its progress too harshly.
- Or. I can look deeply at what’s gone well so far. When did I write the best bits? What could use expanding? I can review what specifically led me to put it down. How can I protect against that? I can learn the lessons of this book – what does it need from me?
You have the same choice.
It’s time to review the last quarter and everyone inside the Starship and Solo Mission is busy looking back and making new maps. (I’ll be sharing the review worksheet for free here, if you want to play along.) They are finding bits they are proud of and bits they wish were different. Between all of us, there’s a big list of things that didn’t get done. There is a big list of mistakes.
If you find a big list of things you didn’t do: You are not alone. This is a normal part of growing, expanding, and trying new things. So the question isn’t “Why didn’t I succeed?!”, it’s “What now?”
This is an important moment. This is where you find out what kind of business, success, and life you’re going to have. It is this disappointment (and how you choose to handle it) that determines whether you have a business or a hobby.
If you’re committed to your dream, your business, and what you want, you bounce back. You become resilient.
The reality is, everyone falls short. Everyone misses the mark. The difference between success and failure is what you do next. Do you give up or scale down your vision? Or do you make a new plan?
Make your choice. Choose resilience.
The Starship closes for the quarter, today. If you want to join, do that here.
In April 2011, I sent a message to 10 of my most-committed students and I told them about this idea I had. There wasn’t a name (they helped me name it), there wasn’t a big plan. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it for more than a year. There was just a seed of an idea, based on what I had learned from my own students.
They wanted to support each other.
At the end of each class I taught, I’d have a Q+A time where student’s could ask me questions. After class, I’d get a few emails: “I really wanted to tell the question-asker THIS about my own business.” So I added chat rooms to my classes. But these felt temporary and the smarts that students shared was soon lost. The solution: a forum, where the shared smartness is searchable.
They wanted to feel less alone.
The regular refrain of my class chat? “It’s so nice to know I’m not alone.” Even today, after three years of weekly live chats, someone always expresses this, every week. And you know, I feel the same way. It’s lovely to be surrounded by people with the same goals, the same trials, and the same hope.
They were ready to commit.
At the heart of my new, nameless idea was commitment. If you joined, you’d be in for a year. Your participation could be ANYthing for the year, there’s absolutely no guilt and no expectation. I felt that this commitment to working together on their business, for a calendar year would be the impetus for real change. Instead of taking classes and here and there and just jumping around, you could really dig in and focus on one area, or one goal.
Over the last three years, I’ve had push back about the year-long commitment (you should make it shorter! More people would join!), but shortening your commitment changes the nature of the relationship. Instead of feeling safe, you’d feel adrift. You’d always be deciding if it was “worth it”…and if you’re busy evaluating your experience, you aren’t really living it.
Why do I only open it for 10 days, once a quarter?
Because we’re all in this together. When new people are drifting in all the time, they might come in during the middle of something (a class, a series) or they might not get my full attention. But when everyone new comes in at once, everyone, new and old, makes their own map at the beginning of the quarter. We’re all starting at the exact same place (wherever we are in our own business path). So we go through the agony of choosing, the strain of dedication, the everydayness of continuing to work towards it, together.
From these three tenets (supporting each other, feeling not-alone, committing), has sprung everything else – the weekly chats, the 1:1 sessions, the forum, the classes. I actually write all of my new classes based on what the Starship member needs. (And it turns out my classes are better than ever..and better attended.) This quarter I’m creating a class about your customer path — all of your marketing that leads your customer closer to you.
Throughout the last three years, Captains have inspired me, challenged me, and shaped the Starship into what it is. They’ve named it, created the culture, and requested the classes.
If you’d like to get the new class for free, and your ready for support + commitment, join us!
PS. It really does close at 4pm today. So don’t dally!
When you start making your work and selling it, you wonder if it’s going to go anywhere. But you start. And you build. And then…you still wonder if it’s going to anywhere. If it’s going to be any of the things you dreamed it could be.
Business is daily. Ownership is a constant process of making, tweaking, experimenting and reassessing.
So you get dragged down. You get disappointed. Your doubts bubble up.
Instead of just wondering, now you’re downright doubting.
Could this work?
Does this work?
How in the heck will I know what works?
You are not alone.
Everyone doubts. Everyone feels totally lost.
Doubting is not a sign that you’re not going to make it. It’s an indication that you’re doing something worthwhile.
Let me be clear: You can have the business you really want.
There are two parts to this:
1. YOU CAN DO IT.
2. It can be what YOU want (not what others have or think you should have).
1. You can do it.
Seriously. Amy’s doing it. Ana’s doing it. Katie’s doing it.
You can do it. (You don’t have to be exceptional.)
No, it’s not easy.
No, even though they’ve reached the goals they set a year ago…they’re not done. They’re not content. They’re setting new goals and working just as hard as ever.
As long as you clearly define what “it” is for you (the kind of business you want), as long as you take responsibility, as long as you commit to doing the hard work consistently and strategically: You can do it.
Will it be awesome?
Will it be everything you imagined?
Will you change your mind once you get “it”?
2. It can be what you want.
You can build exactly what you want – whether that’s quitting your job, or filling your savings account, or going out to eat more often. Whether you wanna wholesale, do craft shows, or never leave your house. Your business can look any way you want. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules and you don’t have to achieve certain markers of success.
The thing is, this is the ONLY way to do “it”. This is the ONLY way to have a business you love.
Define what you want.
Review what’s working.
You are not alone.
Even when you doubt, even when you succeed, even when you change your mind completely (hey, it happens). There are other makers, writers, and designers who are going through it. If you’d like to get together with them, talk about it, celebrate with them and generally feel less alone and less overwhelmed, The Starship is now open.
In the Starship, you’ll be guided to define exactly what YOU want in your business. You’ll create a plan (with our help!) to get there. You’ll review and experiment and build on what’s working. All with some one-on-one help from me, and the encouragement and insights from over 3 dozen other gals who have been there. You’ll quash those doubts and know what to do and if it’s worth it.
You can join here.