Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: February 2011

Just a little step…

daily photo 46
The first thing I read this morning was this post about finding your passion from Tara Gentile and I can't get it out of my head.

I rarely think about the finding of passion, I spend most of my day helping you DO that passion  (and doing it myself!) Trying stuff. Adjusting. And trying other stuff.

Here's a secret…

That's the answer to 80% of the questions I get asked in one-on-one sessions: Try it. And then adjust.
Will this marketing tool work for you? Try it!
Will your people like this? Try it!
Will you get into that show? Try it!

I don't know what will work for you.
YOU don't know what will work for you
But that doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong.
It means you're learning.
It means you're living.

But that vital first step is simple: Action.

One tiny step toward your dream.

You don't have to be ultra-productivity machine.
In fact, I recommend against it.

On small tiny little movement can get you there.

And for that, I love that Tara Gentile is teaching a class called The Art of Action.

Getting started can be hard

Even for me. Even for the smart people Tara's interviewing.
Especially when you add in the layer of ohmygoodness, this is my dream! ack!

Here's how I get started

  • I take classes, like Tara's to inspire action
  • I read and ponder, especially books like Lisa's Take That Nap.
  • I set my priorities and then get some gentle accountability for them (like we do in The Starship).

How do you get moving in the direction of your dreams?

And now announcing….

I'm always telling you that you make something awesome.
And that you can make a living selling it.

One way to do that is to get into a shop (so many of you had questions about that process that I taught a class on it when I owned my yarn store. You can download it here.)
But the whole process, from sourcing suppliers to designing the packaging to actually meeting the right boutique owners is hard. And disconnected.

Until now. Until Vianza.

I would be super excited to tell you about this site even if I wasn't involved, because it's exactly the sort of next-step many of you are ready to take.

It makes it easy to find suppliers, easy to put your trade show catalog online (you can organize an entire line together!) and easy to meet the right retailers and build relationships with them, around the world.

So yeah, I'd be telling you about even if I wasn't involved, but I am.

I'm a part of the Vianza team to do what I do best: hanging out with the community. On Twitter, on Facebook, on the blog.

You know how I have been helping you design a social-media marketing plan? Well, that's what I'm doing with Vianza, except that I get to actually implement it too.

What that means for you

  • If you've been thinking about working one-on-one with me, now is the time to schedule it. I'm totally doing away with hour-long IdeaStorming sessions (because every single IdeaStorming has come back for more!) and focusing all my attention on just 2 Recipe clients per month.There's just 1 spot left in March + 2 in April. Get all the details and grab your spot right here.
  • If you're thinking about wholesaling your awesomeness (or if you sell supplies), you should request an invitation to the alpha site or sign up for the newsletter.
  • You can also submit ideas for guest posts because, yeah, I'll be wrangling those. Email that you're interested to helloATvianza.com and I'll tell you what we're looking for.

That's my big exciting news that I've been dying to tell you all weekend!
I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

Experimentations in Obsession

On a lovely Thursday afternoon, right in the home stretch of daily-yarn-postings (Month of Love), right after uploading all my class materials and emailing all the students, after plotting out blog posts for the next week… my site disappeared.
Both my sites disappeared.
No yarn, no class materials.

It was a technical thing with my server and lots of people suffered outages and there wasn't anything I, or my beloved web ninja could do to remedy anything.

At about 1pm on what was supposed to be a very productive Thursday, I had a choice.
I could obsess and plot and work and fret and email everyone.
Or I could let it go and live my life.

Obsessing is easier.

Obsessing is natural.
We want to fix it. NOW.
We want to rack our brain for every possible solution.
We want to put the fire out.
(And if we can't put this fire out, let's find ANOTHER fire to put out).

After choosing to get up from my computer and spend the day doing non-computery stuff, it was still easier to obsess.
To check my email.
To check my sites.
To rant on Twitter.

I saw the obsession and I decided to experiment.

The premise was simple (but SO difficult!):
What would happen if I did nothing.

If I didn't go out of my way explaining it to everyone…
If I didn't rant on Twitter…
If I totally ignored everything I *could* do online…

If I walked away?

Results of Experimentation

Here's what happened: I had a great day.
A great Thursday afternoon shipping orders, knitting and reading.
A great Friday running errands (groceries, bank, the stuff I usually make Jay do alone, I tagged along. We had fun!) and reading and writing for Wednesday's class.
A great Saturday helping my mom prepare to sell her shawl pins to a local salon, reading (an entire novel) and knitting.

And then, without my watchful obsession, my sites came back on Saturday night. I simply tweeted the students who had noticed (less than 1/4 of my students even realized they couldn't get to the class materials!) and went back to binding off my shawl.

Sunday, I made a list of the stuff I wanted to do…and promptly took a nap.
I woke up refreshed, ready to work.

Here I am, feeling like I had a three day vacation, ready to fill a wholesale order, launch a new knitalong, and teach an awesome class.

You have a choice.

This week, something's going to go wrong (Don't Panic! It's expected) and you'll have a choice.
Obsession? Or living?

Obsession is easier, and lord knows I slipped into it every day, but living is funner. More fulfilling, more re-filling.

Bake Sale Jitters: I don’t want to be annoying!

Bake Sale Jitters is a regularish look at the stuff that keep our business from being as much fun as a bake sale. If you have something that's giving YOU the jitters, let me know.

Along with fear of rejection (we'll get to that tomorrow!), the biggest thing y'all tell me about Sharing Your Thing is that you don't want to be annoying.

And of course you don't! Who does?
(Other than 10 year old boys. They seem to thrive on annoying. If you doubt it, lemme send you one of my little brothers.)

First, acknowledgment.

Being annoying is one of the least pleasant things ever.

(I was a very talkative 12 year old. I know this feeling-annoying-thing intimately.)

And being surrounded, as we are, by annoying marketing, it's sometimes hard to see how we can share our thing without grossing people out.

Even after all this time, I still have little moments of Oh no! What if that's totally annoying?

(Top Secret: I just had that feeling, right before sending my tweet about how Tuesday is the last day to sign up for my Bake Sale Fun class.  That's when I decided I should write this.)

It doesn't have to be annoying

First, remember this: Sharing a message isn't, on its own, annoying.
It's the way you share it.

Just think of the friend who calls to tell you that gas is $.20 cheaper down the street. She shared a message. Was it annoying?

Now, if that same message was tweeted 20 times in an hour by the gas station, you'd be annoyed.

But sometimes it is

Let's figure out what annoys YOU about marketing*, especially as we see it on Twitter, Facebook and via email.

*Marketing (in this context) = the sharing of a message that the sender hopes will lead to action (sale, info, etc) .

This is what annoys me:

  • Unwanted
  • Interrupts the conversation
  • Repetitive

Your list of Annoying Things may be totally different. It'll help if you make up a little list right now and keep it in mind.

Go on, make your list, I'll wait.

Ok, now. This? The above list? Is NOT the only way to share your message.

Be unannoying

One of the easiest ways is to pretend that it's Opposite Day.

If you were one of the slimy people sending a message on Opposite Day, what would your message look like?

Mine would be:

  • Wanted
  • Timely
  • Interesting
  • Connect-y (meaning it deepens our already existing connection)

Notice that the first thing on the list is Wanted.

This is HUGE.

If people WANT the thing you're selling, than they will be THRILLED to hear about it. They are waiting to hear about it. They are on the edge of their seats excited.

So if you only ever talk to those people, in a way that respects them and your own human-ness (don't act like a robot or sales-machine), you won't even come close to annoying.

Take your own list and flip it.

What would your Opposite Day super-awesome messages look like?

I know! We so totally just scratched the surface here. We'll talk more about the specifics (where and how) to share your thing in a non-annoying way in the new course. Registration closes tomorrow.

Bake Sale Jitters: But I don’t want to put *ME* out there!

Bake Sale Jitters is a regularish look at the stuff that keep our business from being as much fun as a bake sale.

The foundation of Bake Sale Marketing is that it (all of your promotion + sharing + stuff) is coming from you: from your passions, your joy, your essence. It's not icky because it's not manipulative. You aren't faking your excitement and you're truly making + sharing your thing because it is awesome.

But this focus on you-ness can be uncomfortable.

As one of my clients recently said about her writing,

“I'm afraid to make it sound like me…because what if the people get to know me?”

This may be, a little bit, about fear of rejection (which will talk about later in the week), but I think it's also an issue of safety.

What if you're uncomfortable having YOU out there?

First, acknowledgment.

This IS hard. And scary.
It is so much bigger than just our business. It's our relationship to ourselves, others, the world.

Also, please know: It's not just you, lots of crafty artistic types worry about this.

And reassurances.

You don't have to do anything that feels uncomfortable.
We can find a way to craft a delightful and passionate business that feels safe.

Some ideas:

  • Create an alter-ego.
    I started with an alter-ego, because I was much to shy to share my yarn with the world.
    Yours could just be a nom de plume or it could be an entire character.
    This isn't inauthentic, as long as it's still you behind it all.
  • Keep it a well-kept secret.
    Whether from your mother or your co-workers, you do NOT have to tell your real-life people about your thing.
    Keep your blog password protected when you get started, if it will make it easier to write. Lock your tweets. Don't friend people on Facebook.
    Remember that it will be harder for people to find out about your thing if you keep it a secret, but that doesn't mean you have to jump out of the shadows before you're ready.
  • Be hard to get.
    For us crafters, our thing is already limited; we can only craft so many things in a given day. Play with that hard-to-get-ness by highlighting  + promoting this fact.

    Maybe you only offer things once a month.
    Maybe you only sell at select venues.
    To make this work, find a place you are VERY comfortable and work on making it a sustainable venue.

  • Set boundaries.
    Guess what? YOU get to the be the person who decides how much of your youness gets shared.
    Maybe it's just your favorite color on the background of your website. People don't have to know that's why it's there, you can just do it.
    Maybe you make a line of pins inspired by a beach. You don't have to share every memory of that beach, or even when you went there, or even that you went there. Just share the part that feels good.

The coolest thing about creating safety is that  you don't have to sit down and plan it out.
You can, if that helps, but you can also bake it right in.
As you write a description, add what feels right.
As you tweet, decide to write what makes you feel safe.

You never have to share more than you want, but I encourage you to think of some things that you would be comfortable sharing.
Knowing what parts of your you-ness you want to share will give you a starting point as we work on drenching your business with joy + you-ness.

PS. I really need to put this PS on everything I ever write, ever: everything I know about putting-your-thing-out-there and acknowledging-the-scary, I learned from Havi. Specifically her Blogging Therapy series.
Well, that and life and trial and lots of error.