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Month: July 2010

Questions, answered: Right People Edition

This is a regular-ish thing, where I answer your questions about a class. I hope it help you decides if the class is right for you (and if it's not, I hope the questions/answers spark something for ya.)

We're talking about the  Right People class, which begins at 3p, today!

Would people other than crafty business people benefit from this class (because I would really like to take a class about Right People), or is it solely geared toward people with businesses selling crafts?

-Jenny Ryan, AKA Cranky Fibro Girl

Jenny, I think this class will benefit and whole bunch of different businesses (and business models). The concept that there is a specific kind of person who will like your thing certainly isn't new (but marketers call it “target markets”, bleh) and we'll cover a bunch of different ways of wooing and loving those people.

Why the focus on crafty businesses? Because that's what I know. That's what I can be really specific about, from personal experience.
I've managed a paint-your-own-pottery studio, worked in or owned 3 different yarn shops and, of course, created and grew Blonde Chicken Boutique.  Oh, and I studied for an MBA.
This gives me a both-sides-of-the-counter view into the craft world.

The awesome thing about business and marketing is that these lessons aren't just applicable to one area.
Good sense is good sense. It can be applied (with a few tweaks to accommodate your own business model) in a zillion different ways.

I'm based in the UK and wanted to know whether it would work for me to call in via skype? Do you know?

-Ingrid

Yep! It should be just fine! How it works is this: you pay and you get a phone number to call. That number is just a plain (US-based) phone number, you can call it from any kind of phone you want!

Ready for Right People Loving?

If your not in the class yet, you can register here.
Even if you can't make the call this afternoon, you'll get a recording of everything.

PS. Just so you know, you can ask me a question any time without fear that I'll make it public. These askers got their answer privately and then agreed to let me post their questions!

Do you have to choose between money or creativity?

I read this post last week which claims you have to choose between being creative or making money.

I'm not going to argue with that article, because I think the author makes some good points (go, read it!), especially when it comes to applying good business sense to your creative business. But I do want to share my own opinion on the Money V. Creativity issue.

I believe it is completely possible (and desirable) to make money while staying true to your own creative vision. I  think that giving up your own taste to serve the “market”, will result in mediocre, middle-of-the-road, could-find-this-anywhere work.

Your vision, your creativity and your taste is vital to making your product and your business a success.

Here's how to create + make money:
  1. Make something no one else does.

  2. Become obsessive over making it only and truly yours.
    Infuse every aspect of it with you-ness. Your colors, your textures, your style, your beliefs.

    It should be so amazingly, undeniably yours that your people know it when they see it.

  3. Find and talk to your Right People

    Your completely-you item is NOT going to appeal to everyone.
    In fact, you'll probably turn a lot of people off.
    Put zombies on everything and you'll turn off Evangelicals. Put Jesus on the cross on your bracelets and you won't sell to the Jewish community. Make handspun, eco-friendly yarn and people who knit with $2 acrylic won't spend the money.
    But that's ok! Because there are a LOT of people who love what you love. THOSE are your Right People. Those are the people you should find, talk to, and work for. Fellow-zombie lovers, fellow Jesus-lovers, fellow yarn-obsessed.
    (and, yeah, you can learn a lot more about turning on and tuning in to your Right People in my upcoming class)
  4. Listen to the Right People

    This is very different from listening to “the market”.
    This is listening to the feedback you get from the people who love and adore what you do.
    This is cultivating relationships and joining a community and then providing solutions for that community.
    Solutions like  zombie coffee mugs or cross necklaces or summer yarn.

Skip any of the above steps and you're going to either not make money or sacrificing your own style for “the market”.

What do you think? Do I have it all wrong?
Let me know in the comments!

PS. This is a super-simplified answer to a pretty complex issue of building a sustainable business. But it's a place to start thinking.
For all the gory details of finding and loving your Right People, register for the class.

How Right People changed My Business

Yesterday we talked about what Right People are and how they can change your business.
Today I'd like to share what happened to Blonde Chicken Boutique when I started applying the concept of Right People to my work.

It started by Havi saying

Everyone has Right People

and

Your Right People are Right if they love what you do. That's the only requirement.

And I wondered, what would this look like if I really believed it?

If these people love what I make, then I should make something truly ME.

Instead of worrying about the trends or what other yarnies were doing, I started focusing on yarn that I really love. Textures, colors, styles.  My love of my work grew and I created a line of yarns that really went together. I began to develop a look for Blonde Chicken Boutique.

If there are people who love what I make, then I should be talking to THEM.

Instead of spending money reaching tons of new people, I turned to my current people. How can I serve them better?
For starters, I ask them. I create products they want (the Learn To Knit Kit was inspired by people who loved my yarn but didn't knit) and I keep them up-to-date (with a customers-only newsletter + a bi-weekly Yarn-Love Note)

My Right People love my thing, so why worry with those who don't?

When I realized I don't have to appeal to everyone or make everyone happy, I can focus on doing what I do best and serving the people who are already happy.

My happy, delighted Right People are the best advertising I could ever want.

If I make it easy for them to share my stuff, they can spread the more to more Right People.

The more I thought about Right People,  I realized I was actually thinking about Marketing.

But instead of asking “How do I tell people about my thing” (like many crafters do)
or “How do I tell my target market of 30 year old college graduates who make $40,000/year who knit about my thing” (like marketers do),
I'm asking “Who are my Right People already? What do they love? What could I do make them happier.

This changed every part of my marketing.

The result?

My time is spent working with people I love, instead stressing over finding more people. My people are happy and tell their friends. My sales (both online, in person at craft shows and to yarn shops) have greatly increased. But best of all, I'm doing what I actually love.

A totally unexpected, non-yarny result?

When I started really listening to my people (not just my customers, but all those people who I liked and liked me, including other crafters, my online friends, other business owners), I realized they wanted something else.
They were asking me business-y questions; about marketing, about sales, about crafting a business AND a life.

So I started offering classes, and one on one consulting.
Every single one of my classes (including next week's class on Right People) have been sparked by specific questions I've been asked. I always answer the asker, but when the answer becomes huge,  I know I have a class.

The best part?
I genuinely love teaching. I love talking about business. I love love love brainstorming for other people's thing.
And the love is so obvious that last night Jay said, “Wow, I can see how happy this makes you. And it's so perfect for you!” (my bossyness is well-documented in our marriage).

Following my Right People? Led me to bliss.

How has serving your Right People  led you in new directions?

If you'd like to work with your adoring fans + find your Right People, check out the class! Registrations close next Tuesday!

Embrace your Right People (and the money will follow)

“Your Right Price will be right for your Right People”

I said this in the Pricing class and a few people piped up to ask , “But who are these Right People? How do I find them?

We'll talk about the how to find the Right People and how to make them happy in this class, but before you register for that, let's answer the basic question:

Who are Right People and why do I care?

I first heard the term from Havi, when she said:

Your Right People need whatever it is you have in whatever form you give it.

I read that and thought, yeah, ok.

But then I started to explore it (and talked to Havi about it in more depth).

As I experimented, it reframed and transformed every area of my business.

Today I'll talk about about how recognizing and hanging out with your Right People can rock your business and tomorrow I'll share what changed for me.

Let's start with a definition, from Havi:

Right People = anyone you like and appreciate who likes and appreciates you.

My definition, as it relates to our crafty pursuits:

Right People = the people who love and adore your thing, the way you do it and you.

Your right people is anyone who really loves what you make.

This includes:

  • customers
  • friends
  • cheerleaders
  • mentors
  • partners

Not all of your Right People are going to buy from you, but even those that don't will sing your praises to new Right People.

Without a focus your Right People your business may be:

  • Unfocused: Which way should I go next? What should I make?
  • Uncertain: Will this sell?  Where should I advertise?
  • Insecure: Will people like it? Is it worthless? Will anyone ever buy?

Focusing on your Right People can reverse all that.

When you're talking to your Right People, you can be yourself.

Because that spark of YOU is what spoke to the people in the first place, it's why they are here, checking out your thing.

When you talk to your Right People, you know what to do next.

They'll tell you what they want either directly (I want yellow!) or indirectly (yellow sells out quickly).

When you share your thing with the Right People, you'll make sales.

They will feel a sense of kinship or a recognition of awesomeness and it will *click*. Yes, this is for me.

It's not about manipulation, convincing or cajoling.
In fact, it's the opposite! When you speak to your Right People, you don't have to persuade them that your thing is right, they will feel it.

Sound awesome?

Learn how to do it in my class on Befriending your Right People.  We'll cover the specific how tos of finding your Right People, talking to them, learning from them and keeping them blissfully happy.

Funday #2 – Dollywood Edition

Mondays = Fundays, the day I recap my success (and failures) with my #funeveryday project.
Here’s the how it works:
I try one fun thing everyday (and so do you).
tweet it (and so do you) with the tag #funeveryday.
Each Monday (no! FUNday!), I round ‘em up: What did I try? What did YOU try? What will I do next week?

The fun that was funny

(that's a Dr. Suess thing we say to refer to real, actual fun):

Dollywood!

At Dollywood
On Tuesday I went with my family to best amusement park ever!
You know how sometimes, the excitement leading up to the day is better than the day?
Not true here! The whole day was fabulous: the family got along, the rids were fun, the lines were short, the pizza (at Mellow Mushroom) afterwards was gluten-free.

Celebrating my own Independence (from The Man) Day
The free Q+A was a lot of fun and I got some great questions.
I (finally) wrote about the joy of quitting. And that helped me remember to quit a few other things I'm not loving.

Live Music!
Completely unexpectedly, on a day that had gone ridiculously wrong (internet connection went down right before the Yarn Camp chat, etc), I stumbled into some live music. I was waiting for Jay to get off work (at Scratch) when a group of kids started playing.

Fun for the Future

The Big Crafty
This Sunday I'm peddling handmade yarn at the biggest craft show in the area! Super excited to meet local yarn-lovers and to be a part of the fabulous Asheville arts scene.  Come see me at The Big Crafty!

Something else?
I'm drawing a blank here…I need some fun-spiration!

How are you going to have a little fun everyday this week?

Happy Anniversary!

Today's my anniversary!

I have been self-employed, making handspun yarn, full-time for one year!

Instead of writing about, let me tell you what it's like:

But most importantly?

I want to say,  THANK YOU!

Without you and your support at the Boutique, I wouldn't be able to pay the bills.
Without your delightful emails, I wouldn't love what I do.
Without your encouragement and sympathy during hard times, I wouldn't be able to go back to the wheel each day.

Thanks for making this last year awesome.

Here's to many more fabulous, yarny, colorful adventures!

PS. If you have questions about this self-employment thing, ask 'em during the Twitter chat today (3p ET, but you can use #asktheChicken to ask them anytime) or on the free Q+A.

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