Craft a thriving business. Do what matters. Crush Distractions. Get the Kit:

Month: July 2012

Got a question about creating an effective blog? Ask it. Live.

Ever get an idea and just DO it?
Right away in a flush of inspiration and excitement?

Well, that's what happened in a quick flurry of emails between Diane and me, yesterday afternoon.

We decided to do something we've never done before, and we don't ever do: Answer your questions live, for free, on air.

Hangout about crafting an effective blog

 

Tomorrow, at 10a PST/ 1p EST we're going to hold a live Hangout On Air. Watch it here.

We'll both be sharing what we've learned from our own experience of blogging, and we'll be answering your questions about making your blog effective for your business.

To get in on the action:

  1. Watch the video, right here. We'll livestream the conversation on the class page. So come back here at 1pm EST on Wednesday to watch.
  2. Ask your question off-air (in your pjs, even!) below in the comments or on Twitter. Just put #effectiveblog in your tweet between now and tomorrow 2pm EST and we'll answer it!
  3. Tell your friends you're chatting! Click below to share on Facebook or click here to tweet.

Our Special Guests include:

 

 Want a step by step system for making your blog effective?

Join the class. In it, we answer all of your questions with depth and consideration…and you get the fabulous feedback of a classroom full of other craftybiz smarties. Sign up here.

 

The Adventures

Welcome to a new little weekly thing, wherein I practice being me, here. Each Friday I’ll share pictures (from Instagram), my favorite links (I usually tweet them), and whatever else I think you’ll like. This is totally inspired by Colleen and Elise.

 

The view

This is a two-notebook day. #brewingaqesomesauce
Catching up #projectlife
Striping away. #knitting
#nofilter #blueskies
Dal Makhti (with cashew cream), samosa-stuffed potatoes, jasmine rice #vegan #yum

Working on the new class, catching up on Project Life*, knitting, working at the library, Dal Makhti with cashew cream, samosa-potatoes, and jasmine rice

The finds

 

Notes to self

  • WHY + HOW: this is how I answer every idea or question, ever. Read more here.
  • I've been getting ready for the Effective Blogging class, and have been thoroughly enjoying finding all the past things I've said about the subject:

     

     

    That's it for me! Where have your adventures taken you this week?

     

     *I'm totally in love with Project Life and how it's pushed me to actually PRINT the photos I take. I've got a little system for doing it each week, but it's totally unrelated to running a craftybiz, so I'm curious: is this something you'd like to hear about? 

How to decide if you *should* do something

howtodecide

You're allowed to build the business that you want, the kind of day that you want, and that you can interact with your products, people, and time in a way that works for you. You don't have to do what you've heard you should do in order to be succesfull in biz.

I talk and write and think about this (shoulds + permission) a lot, because you're thinking and talking and asking about it too. Nearly every conversation I have with a craftybiz explorer starts with them saying “Well, I know I really should… {blog, tweet, send a newsletter, blah}

I always answer with two questions: Why? How?

No, really: Why?

 Why do you think you need to do it? What is your goal with it? Which one of your specific goals will it help you reach?

Everything you want to do, everything you think you should do – ask it: WHY?
This one question can keep you focused, can keep you with the effective, important work. It can wipe away the shoulds, and direct you towards what you really want.

 

One of the giant-est shoulds in the crafty world is that you should be blogging. And after being part of the blog-reading and blog-writing world for nearly 10 years (we're counting that Diaryland I had in college, because I made my first “internet friends” with it), I'm still not entirely convinced*.

*I get into why you should/should not blog  in a free mini-course you can get here.

But for a lot of us, we slice the should with a Why and our answer is simple and clear: because we love to connect.

We love to have a place to share our words, or our photographs. We have a business we love and we want to share more than 140 characters about it. We create products we love and we just want to talk all about it. We've met our customers and they are lovely and we want to have a way to communicate with them.

But blogging [personal, cooking, gardening, crafting]  is totally different than blogging for your business. Yep, you want to share your you-ness, you want to speak in your voice. But your purpose is different, your readers (and your relationship with them) is different, and your end result is different (do you want comments? or do you want sales?).

It's time for that second question: How?

Once you know WHY you want to do something (blog), HOW does it help you reach your goals? HOW do you do it in a way that's effective, creative and still fun? How do you connect to your Right People, and not just other crafters?

In the upcoming class, we explore these questions. We've put together everything we know about blogging (Diane's a genius at building an audience) and marketing your sweet crafty business (I kinda wrote the book on that) and we came up with a systematic approach, a series of worksheets and questions that helps you answer HOW for yourself. It  makes sure you spend your time creating a blog that's effective. You can join the class here.

And whether you join the class or not, turn these questions to the shoulds that are rattling around your mental To Do:

 WHY do you think you should do it?
And if you decide you really do want to: HOW? How will you make it effective and you-filled?

The adventures

Welcome to a new little weekly thing I'm starting, in an effort to bring more of my real self, my every day life to this space. Each Friday I'll share pictures (from Instagram), my favorite links (I usually tweet them), and whatever else I think you'll like. This is totally inspired by Colleen and Elise*.

 

The view

I started an email to @kpwerker, paused for a fortune cookie...

This doe came shambling through the yard while I drove into my driveway.

My gift to baby Drake: onesies embroidered with lyrics his mom & I sang along to (the Indigo Girls cd I bought her as a bribe, the Dasboard concert we went to)

Making...a book of all the things I love this summer

I saw the AC repairman's face & for the 1st time, I realized: I have a LOT of fiber art.

My fortune, an unexpected deer, onesies with lyrics from concerts the mom + I went to, a photo-book of things I love, just a bit of the fiber in my living room.

 

The words + places

The finds

  • This article in Fast Co. about why Millennials don't buy stuff is very encouraging for making things with meaning.
  • My favorite new music video (and I don't have cable, so I pretty much don't know anything about any other music videos)
  • I just love this conversation between Sarah + Ronna about faith and how it fits into our online conversations
  • A great video on framing embroidery, from Sublime Stitching. I plan on doing this, this weekend!

*Elise's blog is the first new one I've found (and become addicted to) in a long, long time. She's a fabulous example of a creative entrepreneur who share's her Elise-ness and thus, attracts her Right People.

 

 

That's it for me, but what about you?

What adventures have you had this week?

 


This is not about getting more done.

this is not about getting more done Donuts have nothing to do with anything

Do you ever end the day with frustration that you didn't get more done? Even if you marked stuff of your list, it just wasn't enough. You sat at the computer, or dye pots, or jewelry table for 8 hours and yet…you just didn't get everything done.

Yeah. I hate that feeling.

I mean, I really hate it. It ruins everything. It makes me grumpy in the evenings. It sucks momentum away from projects. It totally kills my enthusiasm.

To avoid it, I tried to do more. I tried to beat back that I-didn't-do-enough feeling with doing more. I played its game. I accepted that the feeling meant something, that it was objective, and that I wasn't doing enough.

I put more on my list, tried to figure out how to get more done in the time I spent.
But that didn't fix anything.

It was exhausting and not very much fun.
And it looks a lot like a day job, which I left, to work for myself.

Something has to change. And just as soon as I acknowledged that it wasn't me that needed to do more, it's that judgement, the “I didn't do enough” at the end of the day that had to change.
I don't need to get more done, I need to stop staring at the screen when I'm not getting anything done.
{Click to tweet this!}

This isn't about taking breaks so I'm more productive, it's about changing the standards.
I'm not seeking productivity, I'm seeking fun. I'm seeking fulfillment. I'm seeking that feeling where I'm satisfied with what I did, that I believe I'm enough, that I'm not holding myself to some ridiculous standard.

 

It's not about the productivity

Productivity is about getting more done. About making more products, more money, more connections, more traffic, more followers. And it's enticing, because you know you do need to grow those numbers, get stuff done, make connections. Getting stuff done become the highest priority. So you fill in your time with getting stuff done. It doesn't matter if it's the right stuff, or the effective stuff, you just try to get more and more done each day. But getting more done for more's sake won't get you anywhere. And it'll leave you tired, and bored, and unenthused.

Let's circle back to what started it: making products, connections, ideas, making. If I want more of that, the way there isn't through more productivity. The way to doing what I want to do is to follow what I want to do.

Let's take productivity off the list of things that are important and replace with other stuff. Stuff that really propels our business. Stuff that really fuels us.

It is about

Having fun
Having space and time for creativity
Writing
Watering my enthusiasm
Following the momentum

What does that look like?

For me, following momentum, enthusiasm, etc means that I walk away from the computer once I've reached that slow, can't-think-time of the day (around noon; I start at 8am). I go get lunch, or go to a yoga class. I put away the computer and read. Or write. What I do doesn't matter, what's important is that I'm allowed to, nay, expected to, because my goal isn't to get as much done as possible in one day, but to follow the momentum and water my enthusiasm.

And even writing that, I can feel all the worries rise up: Will I ever get anything done? Will I have a huge to-do list I just have to power through?

Those are smart concerns, and I've struggled with them since I first decided to do away with productivity a month ago. After rigorous scientific testing, I'm happy to report that nothing exploded. Everything got done. In fact, I added a big new pile of work by doing a read-along inside the Starship (2 extra emails/week, full of projects, links, resources, and brand new thoughts).

What is different is me. I've had better ideas. I've acted on inspiration. I've been smarter and quicker for my clients.
And I've got much more important stuff done (yeah, a lot of the unimportant stuff has fallen away).

But that's not the goal.
I have to remind myself of this everyday: It's not about productivity. It's not about getting more done. It's about being present with what I'm working on. Noticing when I'm done. It's about exploring the possibilities, the various ways my days (and thus, my life) can unfold.

 

If your days weren't about productivity, what would they be about?

 

 

 

 

Read-along, and a free project

This week in the Starship, at the insistence of the explorers, we started a read-along of my book.
Instead of just reading and sharing the worksheets with each other, I was inspired to make it crafty (We've all got crafty businesses, right? Why shouldn't we bring craftiness into our business planning?).

I had so much fun with it, that I wanted to share it with everyone.

Below is the email I sent to the members of the Starship:

***

Hello Captain!

In this week's reading (Chapter 1), we start thinking about marketing as a path. Everything you do in marketing (which is any communication with your potential buyer) is laying bricks in the path of a person who was a stranger, then comes to find you and buy from you (and comes back again and again). In the last message, I asked you to share what your path looks like right now.

But in today's project, let's use our imagination: what will your ideal path look like? What will the experience be like for your best customer be like?
And to stretch your imagination and make it even more fun, we're not going to just answer the question with words, we're going to create that path, and create that experience.
You can choose between three options:
  1.  Write a story
  2.  Draw a picture
  3. Craft (using any of the crafts you do) a charm for your best customer to take on her journey.
You can do this however you like, but if you need a few more ideas, here's some prompts:
1. Write a story: Create a story with your best customer as the heroine. Start the story before she finds your product: what's she thinking? What's she struggling with? And then! Bam! She finds you (how?) and falls in love and has the best experience in the world! Describe that whole experience and make sure that it's a real story – with conflict, plot twists and adventure (or romance, if it's a love story). For bonus points: tell it from her perspective (1st person).

2. Draw a picture: Using the paths that comes in the map-making guide you can draw the actual path, and fill it in with all of the different steps your customer takes. But don't use words! Create symbols, signs and metaphors for every part of the path (a flock of birds, for twitter, maybe?) and draw it in there.
OR, forget the path metaphor and draw the experience of your best customer. What's she feel like? What does she do to find you? Do this in your own style! It can be expressionistic, abstract, or a comic book or cartoon strip.
Note: You could paint this! Or photograph! (maybe a series that shows her journey, or something to symbolize the path)

3. Craft something: You'll have to do a little of one of the above before you get started: imagine your Right Person's experience and her life. Imagine her troubles and her enthusiasm. Now – make her something for her journey. (Perhaps it's a necklace that gives her superpowers, or fingerless gloves to protect her against the cold wilderness, or a scrapbook for her journeys.)

When you've done one of the above (take all weekend, if you like, but no more than that – don't let it distract you from the real work of your business!), sit down and write about the experience:
When you were in the flow of the project, what surprised you?
What did you learn about your person, or the path you're building for her?

Share your project, and your reflections on the experience in the Communication Station.

***
Ok, so if you're not in the Starship, you won't be able to share it int he Communication Station, but you can join the Starship here or share your answers in the comments, below this post.
I hope you have as much fun with this as I did (I made a painting for my Right Person/Fellow Explorer).
I can't wait to see what you make!