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

Month: March 2014

How I learned from my customers to create something new

beamaboardstars

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Business with Gabrielle Krake

Gabrielle Krake
Gabrielle Krake

Today I'm talking with Gabrielle Krake, a Starship Captain and the owner & designer of Bee Wise Goods 

People have this fantasy of what it's like to be a full-time maker, or to own their own shop. But what's a normal day for you really like?
Well I often joke if I can shower, brush my hair and teeth and eat at least one salad then I’m doing great! As far as making things, I get to make inventory on Mon – Wed when I’m not in my shops. I have to get super motivated, usually by some unknowable spark of creativity and then I make my things in assembly line mode, cranking out 10-20 of one item and then I move to another. I personally make over 25 handmade items and 16 sewing patterns (I only have to print these and package them, but I have several I would like to develop but do not have the 30-40 hours it takes to draft one, right now). On Thursdays I’m back in my shops and have to catch up on spreadsheets, accounting and merchandising. On Fridays and Saturdays I work for my daughter in her bakery and we start at 6am making her goodies, displaying them and selling all day. Sunday is an “off” day for me but I usually make something fun or watch movies all day. Oh and jammed in all the cracks between business tasks I have four kids that we homeschool (three have graduated but still live at home) make meals, and clean my house (it’s really only clean and tidy when we’re sleeping). We have chickens and dogs, a cat, and chinchillas.
There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and just read books and go to coffee like my friends, but I know deep down I would be bored in about a week of that and start another business, haha!
Bee Wise Goods
Bee Wise Goods
There are so many ways to make a living as a maker – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?
In all honesty I started my business because when the economy collapsed in 2008, my husband's income was cut in half (at least). I had started a blog and was posting crafty ideas and tutorials so when we realized we were going to need extra money I decided to start making reusable grocery bags and do repairs to bring in money. Over the course of the next few years we had made and sold thousands of products in a very unconventional way, at the time – through a blog and my website that I did myself. There were very little resources to promote tiny enterprises like ours but Etsy and PayPal played the biggest online role and getting my things into stores was the second component to not starving.
The business was a huge miracle in many ways, we were able to barely keep our house and each other but all other peripheral luxuries and necessities were culled. It made life simpler in ways that we adopted permanently.
Three years ago I realized I was giving away much of my income in rents, commissions, wholesale orders and co-op hours so we opened our own shop in 2011, added another one in 2012 and now a bakery in 2013. (The shops are all connected, we’re slowly taking over a 1951 strip mall.) There are days when I daydream about not working so hard but then I see that the legacy we’re leaving for our 4 kids is priceless. Even if they do not emulate us by being business owners, they have a very realistic view of finances, they understand options and they know they have choices about how to make money.
Gabrielle's family bakery
Gabrielle's family bakery
What new thing are you exploring now?
I am in the process of inventing the creative magazine called Makers Unwound. It will start with a local focus and depending on how it goes we can expand regionally and beyond.
What's your definition of success in your business?
The joy I feel, the relationships we have developed and the legacy of income choices we have given our kids is true SUCCESS for me.
Dolls from Gabrielle's product line
Dolls from Gabrielle's product line
What's the next destination you're working towards?
I want to start taking a backseat in operations. Two of my kids are slowly becoming equipped with the skills to allow me to make inventory, create art and work on the magazine. Accounting, spreadsheets and invoices takes up about 15-20 hours per week that I can begin to have back for creative purposes. We are planning on expanding the bakery and offering more products.
Gabrielle's studio
Gabrielle's studio

 

 

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

Crocus! #foundwhilerunning #signsofspring cc: @pennyshima
YAY! First full-sized daffodil! #signsofspring #foundwhilerunning
These tiny buttercups are suddenly everywhere, making today's 3.1 mi run FANTASTIC. #foundwhilerunning
I'm wondering if the Orchestra often gets people dancing in the aisles... #indigogirls
Forgot to share this yesterday! I think it's saying: This way for orange clovers? Regardless, it was a cold, breathless, 40 sec/mi-faster-than-usual 2.5 mi run. (Still embarrassingly slow) #foundwhilerunning

I am so grateful for…

  • Spring is springing! The daffodils, the redbuds, YAY!
  • A lovely evening at the symphony, with the Indigo Girls and my dear friend
  • Running, and the opportunity it gives me to watch spring unfold.
  • The Starship launch is going fabulously. Since I only do this 4 times a year, every time is a huge deal!

 

The Finds:

Check this out:

 Don't forget! 

The Starship is open for just one more week! Check it out here.

 

What were your adventures this week?  

 

Can you really craft the business you want?

Can you really craft the business you want?

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?
Yes.
Will it be everything you imagined?
Probably not.
Will you change your mind once you get “it”?
Probably. (Definitely.)

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.
Pursue it.
Review what's working.
And repeat.

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.

beamaboardstars

The business tools I use

Writing about the tools I use in my business for tomorrow's post. What do you use?

As you know, my mission  is to help  you build the business that best suits YOU. All of my classes, books and adventures are built to help you discover what's true in your business and what will work for you

This means that although I write about the journey of my own business exploration, I don't do a lot of recommending, or telling you specifics of what I do. It's not that I don't want to share, it's that I don't want you to get distracted by what I use instead of figuring out what works for you.

That said…I love reading these kinds of posts. And there are a few questions that I end up answering via email and Sessions, so I'd like to put all the answers in one place. (This was inspired by Elise's Baby FAQs. If you have a new baby, you should read this).

Keep in mindthis is what works for me, with my specific business. I work with many creatives who use an entirely different set of tools.
(You can ask them directly, inside the Starship – which opens tomorrow. Sign up here if you're curious.)

My website.

My domains are registered with NameCheap. Nathan does my hosting + WordPress pampering. My entire website is built on WordPress. I love it and tell everyone to use it. (Even my mom can use it easily for her site.)

Design

I built my first few websites on my own, with a combination of free WP themes + a couple of edited images (BCB is all me, baby). If you can add some text to an image with Gimp or Photoshop, I highly recommend DIY-ing it until your business can afford to hire a designer. Why? Because you'll want to know how to do absolutely everything in your business.

Even so, there are many  things to keep in mind to make your site as effective as possible. Be ready to tweak it endlessly and make it better and better. I go over the necessary parts in detail in Market Yourself, so if you want more, check out Chapter 4.

That said, at some point, you are going to want your site to match the awesomeness of what you sell. And unless you sell website design, you probably can't do it on your own. Once your business has started to make a profit and pay you, then think about hiring a designer.

The one thing I wish I would have understood earlier?
There's a vast difference between a “website” and a “visual brand”. Getting a website designed does not mean that your company has a visual brand. So if you're totally graphically-thinking-impaired (as I am) – you probably want someone to create a visual brand for you, before you worry about website design (you can always implement their branding into your existing website.)

Right now I'm working with Jessika to create a visual brand and I love her. The main thing is to find someone who's aesthetic truly matches your own and who gets you AND your community. Jessika totally nailed my visual branding in the very first try.
(You're going to see it soon!)

Shopping carts and buy buttons

For the past 3 years I've used a combination of PayPal buttons + E-junkie buttons (with my own button images.) Paypal is quick and easy. E-Junkie is also super-quick and has the added benefit of sending an automatic email with the info you need when you join a class or buy a download. (But it does cost at least $5/mo.)

Next month I've moving everything to WooCommerce, which will also let me send you an automatic download and will have the added benefit of everything being in one place. (This has been the biggest failing of this website so far – there's not a very clear “this is what I sell” space. You can find it all linked here, but that hasn't been effective at communicating it. How do I know? I answer the question “How can I work with you?” weekly.)

However, if you have a product-based business, I suggest you go with something that “manages” your shop for you and is super-easy to add items to. I recommend most brand-new-to-online-selling folks use Etsy. After you get the hang of that and you build up your own audience (through your own site and newsletter), then move over to your own shop, with Big Cartel or one of the other options. There are many, and I haven't tried any of them, so I recommend asking other makers. (We have a thread on this in the Starship.)

Newsletter software.

You know I heartily believe everyone should be communicating with their biggest fans via email (I talk a bit more about it in this podcast). And that autoresponders are the easiest way to get everyone on the same (ready-to-buy) page. I love Mailchimp for managing all of this. I've been with them for 5 (!) years and couldn't be happier. A few of my students found it overwhelming, so they went with TinyLetter which is much simpler.

 

Social media management.

Even though I have a Number One (a virtual assistant), I do ALL of my own writing. That includes the blog, newsletter, and everything I post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Everything you see online is actually me.

I think it's important to get that out of the way, because there seems to be an assumption that people get assistants to deal with social media. And to me, this makes no sense. Social media might be the first place you meet me (either because someone you follow retweets me or tweets directly to something I made), so why would I want that first impression to be anything but personal?

That said, it makes sense to make sure that what I write actually gets seen by my followers, so I use Hootsuite to schedule some Twitter + Facebook posts. It's very simple (and free) and I like that it allows me to share a zillion things as soon as I find them (which is often all at once), without overwhelming you, the reader. It also allows me to share a new blog post a few times a day, whether I'm online right then or not.

Even when I'm posting in “real time”, I don't hang out afterwards to have conversations. Instead, I log on to reply and have conversations when I have the time throughout the day (taking a break from other work, standing in line, etc). This time-shifted conversation is exaclty why I like Twitter! Although some conversations do happen in real time, I don't think anything's lost by time-shifting it.
What is gained is a lot more productive time and keeping my focus. While I love having conversations and connecting (love it!), I can't let it take over the equally-important creation time. To keep it reasonable, I often work with a Pomodoro timer (and go to social media on 5 minute “breaks”) and I have Nanny for Chrome installed. (But I very rarely trigger it.)

E-courses

There is SO much software out there for e-course development…and I actually use a lot of it!
The easiest way to hold an e-course is to load your content into an autoresponder in Mailchimp and when the person buys, send them an email with the sign-up page for the email list. I've used E-junkie to automatically send this email immediately. This is how my Automagical Emails class works.
That'll work for an independent study class, but what if you're holding the class “live” and you want everyone to discuss things? For a fixed-time class with automatic course delivery (you load it in and it goes out on your schedule), I really like Ruzuku. I used it for the last live Pay Yourself and for Explore You and the students really seemed to like it.
Now, that works for a specific timeline of the class, but for an ongoing community (like the Starship), I use Ning – which provides both the forum we use for conversation + a live chat space. You can also use a private Facebook group for this, but I find it a little more difficult to track the conversations and I don't like that things aren't archived and easy to search for. There are multiple WP plugins you can use to create a forum + community on your own site, but I haven't found one that works as intuitively (for the user) as Ning.

 I'd love to hear if you have a favorite?

 

Planning.

Here's the system I use to plan everything from my big years-long goals to my daily to-dos:

At the beginning of each year (and again at my birthday in June), I think through all the high-level stuff, using the Chart Your Stars Guide (available only in the Solo Mission or Starship). I set big goals and try to list all the little things I wanna do.

Each quarter, I use the Star Chart to pick a Destination. This is my Big Focus for the next three months. I use the Map Making Guide to break it down into all the Mile Markers and tiny To Dos. (I also review the last quarter so that I can learn from what did and didn't go well.)
(This is also when I create a content calendar and start filling it in.)

Each month I review where I am and what I need to do to get to my Destination (I send these reassessment questions out to the Solo Mission Starship). I use it to figure out what I need to get done this month. (Often I've already set deadlines while Map Making, so this is already mainly figured out for me.)

Each week, I make a Master List of everything I wanna get done this week. I double-check to make sure there are actions moving me towards my Destination + all the little stuff that has to be done week in and week out. (Blog posts, email ketchup, shipping books)

Each day, I check my weekly list and pick things from it to do today. I write a new To Do list everyday. I try to keep it reasonable (what I could really get done that day), but I find I actually get more done when I have more listed. (When I have few things listed, my brain thinks: Oh, you have 8 hours to do 3 tasks! You should read quilting blogs for a while!) I do star the things that HAVE to be done today and there's NO guilt if other things don't get done.

The actual TOOLS I use to do all of the above:

 

Writing.

 Every (workday) morning, I write, at least 750 words, using 750words.com and a Pomodor timer, while listening to Spotify (usually this playlist). Sometimes I use this time to write blog posts (like this) or email lessons, it's often on a bigger, less immediate project. Sometimes I just write out any problem-solving/thinking I need to do. (But I wouldn't call this a journal or free-writing, as I almost always write with an audience in mind, even if the audience is myself.) If I want to keep what I wrote, I copy it into an Evernote note.

Two to three days a week I have a second writing time, after my Morning Writing. While Morning Writing is dedicated to the writing I might skip once the day gets started (writing for the new book, thinking through a deeper subject, anything that doesn't feel immediate), the second writing chunk is usually devoted to my current projects – my “work” (blog posts, email lessons, class material.) I make the distinction in order to not let the everyday writing edge writing about whatever I'm enthusiastic about, whether it fits into my content calendar or not.

 

Email

I use Gmail for everything. When I have a pile of emails that I don't need to deal with right now (but I will need them in the future) or when my inbox just gets overwhelming, I use the Email Game to sort through them and boomerang messages back to me in the future.

That's basically it, I have no special email skillz. I try to close my inbox when I'm not directly writing or replying, and I set aside time once or twice a day to check it (I get no pings or alerts when an email arrives) for questions from customers. Twice a week I go through and answer everything (or delete it, or boomerang it). I spend a long time crafting useful answers to everyone who writes, so it's important that this both gets my attention and that it doesn't take over my life.

Jess, my Number One.

You already know that I do all my own writing and “showing up” in the online world, so what does Jess do? She makes everything better and she makes sure everything works right.

  • Every week she loads the Explore Notes I write (and the weekly Starship Lesson) into Mailchimp, editing it as she lays it out.
  • When I'm creating a new class, she edits (for clarity and grammar) my written lessons, she turns my questions into a pretty worksheet, she takes notes on the video lessons for a transcript, she uploads PDFs and text to the class space.
  • When I sell anything, she double checks that the buyer signs up for what they need to sign up for (especially important if it's an email-delivered product, like Solo Mission + Starship).
  • She updates autoresponders (like this) with updated info.
  • She notes absolutely all of our systems, so that I don't reinvent it every time (which has made me a zillion times more efficient).
  • When I write a really hard or important post (like this) or guest posts (like this), she'll edit it and give me feedback on where I'm overexplaining or glossing over something important.

(I wrote a bit about this when I hired her.)

In other words, whenever you interact with me, via reading my writing or emailing me your question or taking a class, you're interacting with me. And I have time to write long, thorough (free) answers to 5-10 non-clients every week, while writing 2 email lessons (one for free here, one for Starship members) and 2-3 blog posts each week, creating a new class every quarter, traveling + teaching around the country every few months – because Jess is doing all of the other not-writing stuff. Since hiring her, every area of my business has increased: my own output, my reader stats, and my sales.

How? I'm now focused 100% on doing what only I can do, and she makes sure my work looks (and reads) its best*. (I don't actually work any less hours now than I did before, I just spend my hours on more effective work.)

*She didn't edit this blog post, so all typos are my own fault.

 

Hardware

I recently got a Chromebook and I LOVE it for writing + traveling. It's super-light and I can fit it in my purse. I do 90% of my work on it. When I want to edit docs or videos, I use my very 4 year old Toshiba laptop. I take all photos with my iPhone 4s.

 

 Phew! That's a lot of tools + systems! 

Now it's your turn – what business tools and systems do you use?

If you write about them on your blog, leave the link in the comments!

 

 

The usual disclaimer applies! 

 

Social Media for Makers: a Primer

Social Media for Makers: a primer


I resist writing about using social media, because I find that many (most?) new business crafters get totally distracted trying to get it “right”. So before I go any further, let me totally clear: It is MUCH more important for you to make your product and make it available for sale, with clear compelling descriptions and photographs. 

Get really good at doing that, consistently, before you worry about other tools. Seriously.

That said, I get asked about Instagram, Pinterest or (to a lesser degree) Twitter in every Flight Plan Session, by established business owners. Over the last year, I've written up answers to the most-asked questions, so today I'm going to collect it all in one place.

 

1. Know why.

If you're going to use social media for “business” purposes (and  not just chatting with your internet friends), make sure it aligns with your overall goals and your you-filled brand. I go into detail on how to do this in my book, along with how to experiment with different tools to find one that works for you.

 

2. Make it a part of your Customer Path.

“This pathway of connection includes absolutely every way you interact with people who may or may not be your right people – your blog, email newsletter, social media, guest posts, sales pages, and (once they cross over into Right People territory and pay for something), your connection pathway continues through your products, classes, clubs, retreats.”

Read about creating this path here.

 

3. Instagram for Winning Friends and Influencing Buyers.

The magic of Instagram is that it feels personal. It allows you a peek into my world, through my eyes. Instead of approximating the beauty (or quirkiness) of what I’m looking at with words, I can quickly show you.”

Today I've got a post on how to use Instagram in your business, over at Sarah Von Bargen's site.
You can read the whole thing here.

 

4. Do something with all your Pinterest followers.

In reply to a question I received, I put together four ideas (via video!) on using your Pinterest account. You can watch it here.

 

Remember: You might not need social media.

“Social media is not the solution to your business problem.

It is not going to quickly improve anything (in fact, it’s going to take time to build an audience, time that might be better spent on building a community of buyers.)”

You can read the rest of this post here. 

 

Got a social media question? Ask it in the comments and I'll answer! 

 

 

 

When getting great press disappoints you

Great Press

A few weeks ago two amazing things happened: One Starship Captain was featured in a big national magazine and another Captain was interviewed on a HUGE blog.

But then, something weird happened. Their sales didn't increase. So they both asked the same question: What happened? Did I do something wrong?

I wrote the following inside the Starship to answer their questions, but I bet this applies to you too! (Got your own question you want answered? The Starship opens again next Wednesday. Sign up here to find out!)

If you've been featured in blogs, magazines, or newspapers, I want to reassure you that it is really normal to not see many, if any, tangible results from your feature.

However, be encouraged that this has done something for your biz. Even if the reader never clicks through to your site, she has now heard of you – from a source she trusts! – and when she comes across you again (by googling, seeing your ads, seeing you mentioned on social media) she'll be that much more likely to remember you, trust you, and stick around to see what you do!

Over time (like, years) this kind of attention does build up. I get emails now from people who read about me (a super-short paragraph) in the 2009 NYT bestseller Crush It. Even better, people who read a guest post I wrote over a year ago are just now becoming paying customers.
(That may be how you got here!) 

 

But you might be wondering WHY being featured in national media or on a popular blog doesn't do more?

There are a few reasons, and it has nothing to do with you!  

1. The reader is reading, not buying.

Think about the reader, in the moment she comes across your feature. Is she thinking “I need to buy a {thing you sell}?” Probably not. She's in passive-reading mode. While she might click through, she's not in the frame of mind to buy right-this-second. She's in consume-media mode, not make-decision mode.
This is not your fault. This is not the blog's fault. This is not a problem, this is just the truth.
Think about it from your own experience. How often do you sit down to read blogs and end up buying something? Probably not very often, unless you are reading because you want to buy something (you're researching or trying to find something specific) or because you're already on their customer path.

2. Remember the Customer Path.

It usually goes like this:

  1. Person finds you.
  2. She gets to know you.
  3. She thinks about the purchase.
  4. She buys.

Getting press put more people on the first part of the path – she finds you! She might not stick around (or look you up, if it's a print magazine) to get to know you, but if she does, there's that tricky step #3 where she thinks about it before buying.

This is why it's vital to have something for her to do OTHER than buy. She could follow you on Twitter (not too effective since she's unlikely to see any particular tweet in her stream), she could like you on Facebook (again not too effective), she could subscribe to your blog (a good option if she's an avid blog reader and keeps up with her feeds!) or she could sign up to get emails. Ya'll know this is my MOST FAVORITE, because she doesn't have to do anything to be gently reminded (by your clever, interesting emails) that you exist and that she wanted to loop back to check your stuff out.

 

3. The reader doesn't yet have a connection to you.

Now, you might have the most fabulous email sign-up form ever, that's super effective (something I'm still working on!) and one of two things will happen:

  1. The reader won't sign up. Why? Because she's just not right for you. She's not compelled by what she's reading, or she's just not ready to make that commitment yet. That's ok! Remember – she came because she's a fan of something else.  She didn't start her day looking for what you do, she just clicked around and landed here. So she's not who you're spending your marketing energy seeking out, she's just an internet traveler. The best you can do to grab her is to do  your best to make your site:
    –easy to navigate + take action on
    –interesting, compelling, and useful to your Right Person
  2.  The reader will sign up! Celebrations! 
    But even now, she doesn't have a huge connection to you. She likely found you, liked what she saw and signed up to remember that she liked you.

So what can you do to bring her closer? 

  • Send her fabulously useful, entertaining or interesting emails. You know I love a good autoresponder for this, to make sure you connect with every person in the same way (instead of her just getting whatever the newest thing your writing is, she'll get your foundational material!)
  • Talk to her! Send her a note thanking her for signing up and asking her if she has any questions.

Even if you do all that, I've found that people who join my list after I have a big feature or guest post tend to be the least engaged. They're more likely to unsubscribe quickly or to just never open the emails. This is totally ok. This is either a person who isn't into what you're doing or signs up for a bunch of stuff and never reads it.

Despite all of the above, I still find writing guest posts and being interviewed to be an effective way to build my audience. 

There are things you can do to make press work for you, and I'm sharing them in this week's Explorer Email. But as you seek out press (or not), I want you to keep your expectations grounded. 

How about you? Have you found this to be true?

 

 

PS. The above photo is from my feature in Crafty Magazine, in the June/July 2013 issue. It was a 4 page spread with an interview and photos and an illustrated headshot…and due to a printing error 2 of the pages are just completely missing. So even though it was a huge honor to be asked, the actual article makes little sense with a big gaping hole in the middle. (I'm not sure if the printing error is the reason, but this is the only issue that I can't find at any bookstore.)

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

Afternoon tea! My favorite to unsquinch from a day of editing & planning. #totallyaword
Yesterday. Sure I was way too late to get anything in, then Jay worked late, went to bank and I got 1.3 mi and a sign. Better than nothing. #foundwhilerunning
Making Spaghetti Cake (baked spaghetti with cashew ricotta) from Bake & Destroy, with the spicy sweet sauce from @isachandra's Isa Does It. #vegan #whatveganseat #yearofmaking
This one is my favorite. Ginormous pink cabbages. #yearofmaking (quilts)

I am so grateful for…

  • Great running weather
  • The opportunity to learn, learn, learn (my favorite!)
  • The upcoming weekend with NO plans
  • Creating a plan and sticking with it

 

The Finds:

Read this:

Inspired by this: 

I've been falling in love with rainbow-y sampler-y quilts.

 

Recipes we tried

What were your adventures this week?  

 

 

 

What I’m reading: March 2014

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list in the comments and find all the posts here

And now I'm in my pjs, on the couch, with a post-run smoothie and this fabulous stack. #fridaynightpartynight

Snow days are great for reading! I got through so much during the very short February!

 

What I read

$100 Start-up by Chris Guillebeau. As I hoped, this is going to the top of my to-recommend list for those where-to-start questions. This is for you IF you're not sure how to get started. IF you are seriously excited to start a business. Even though I'm 8 years past “start-up”, I still learned stuff – I used the Launch Checklist while opening Pay Yourself (and had my biggest class launch ever!)

Money: A Love Story, by Kate Northrup. In preparation for leading Pay Yourself, I wanted to read up on some of the emotional side of money. This book is a good look at the emotional stuff, particularly if you're afraid to get started.

No Meat Athlete , by Matt Frazier. If you're not sure where to start with eating more healthily, this book's first half is GREAT. Not only does he give you the knowledge of nutrition you might be missing, he really focuses on habit change. Because it's not just about knowing the thing to do, it's about doing it.

If You Can Talk, You Can Write, Joes Saltzman. The title says it all! I used the prompts to keep up with my 1,000 words a day and found myself quoting it to the writing-scared.

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I wasn't sure if I liked this novel, but I kept going (and it's huge!). I enjoyed it, but didn't love it.

Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi. Read this sci-fi classic (it is a classic right? It should be!) in one long weekend. Fun!

 

What I'm reading

 

Slow Motion by Danie Shapiro.

Knowing your Value, by MikaBrzezinski. Another Pay Yourself-inspired read, and it came just at the the perfect time -I've been helping one of my clients double her rates.

Ready Player One, by Earnest Cline.

A pile of quilt books, including Word Play, The Quilts of Tennessee,and Tula Pink's City Sampler.

 

How about you? What are you reading? 

 

Disclaimer-y Disclaimer!  Or course I’m biased when my friends write a book, but I don’t mention things I don’t like. Read the usual disclaimer here.