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Month: April 2014

Podcast: Enthusiasm – your business needs it

Why your business needs your enthusiasm, on TaraSwiger.com

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Welcome to the second episode of Explore Your Enthusiasm! 

This week we're talking about ENTHUSIASM. It's right there in the name of the podcast + it's a vital tool in a sustainable business. We'll cover why it matters, what to do when you don't have any, how you can learn from your craft, and how to make even the most boring tasks more fun. I also share a bit about my own crafting funks, some burn-out horror stories and what I've learned when I follow the enthusiasm in my own business.

Links mentioned in the podcasts

How to listen

Your turn!

How do you follow your enthusiasm in your business? What have you learned?
If you're feeling burned out or bored, how are you going to start experimenting with your enthusiasm?

 

 

Adventures in Business, with Vanessa Laven

Vanessa Laven

Today I'm sharing an adventure with Starship Captain Vanessa Laven. Vanessa writes at Mixed Martial Arts and Craft about kicking cancer's butt with grace and flair + makes  plushie body parts over at Survival Organs

People have this fantasy of what it's like to be a full-time entrepreneur. But what's a normal day for you really like?

A normal day starts on my house chores as I figure out what needs to be blogged about and what items need to be made for my shop. This is assuming I'm also not working through a headache or migraine. I get them so frequently that I only let myself sleep them off if they're at a pain level of 8 or 9 out of 10. Anything less than that and I have to suck it up and push through. If I wasn't that hard on myself, nothing would get done – either biz wise or in my personal life. Oh and as a cancer survivor, I also have doctor's appointments and support group meetings to juggle and I have to see if I'm physically feeling up for a martial arts class. While my doctor's appointments aren't every week any more, they do take up most of my day so I need to account for that. Often I end up working after dinner or on the weekends.

There are so many ways to make a living as a biz owner – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed?

I'm doing it by taking my time! One step at a time and I keep track of what's working and what isn't. Since this is a new path that I'm finally strong enough to go down, I'm writing down where I want to be, what that looks like and how I can get it. I do this by keeping track of my expenses, making notes on what my customers respond to (or don't) and generally what does success look like, feel like, act like? Trying to capture what my dreams are, using all of my senses, has helped make them more concrete and achievable.

wbc_large_1

What new thing are you exploring now?

I'm currently exploring new organs for my shop, new expressions for their faces and writing more about how to take life one stitch at a time! I'm also exploring how to teach people that they are their own guru.

What's your definition of success in your business?

For me, success is more about how many people reach out and let me know how I've helped them. During chemotherapy, there were almost no personal blogs that I could find talking about the day to day aspects of cancer. I found lots of clinical websites but I wanted to hear from a cancer survivor's mouth directly. I've taken it upon myself to do just that. But it's more than just about reaching cancer survivors. I want to help people who feel ready to make a lasting change in their life. With Survival Organs, I'm reaching out to people who need a good laugh or a reason to find something humorous in their life.

What's the next destination you're working towards?

My next major project is to finish the first round of edits to my surviving cancer and chemo guide! It's huge, it's a scary task but it's something that needs to get done. When I really think about doing it, I get really scared and I want to avoid it but then I remember how lost I felt when I was sick. I've held on to that feeling as a reason to conquer my fear and give birth to this book because there's another person just like me who needs this. I've never written a book before, much less published one, so it's a whole new set of skills for me to explore. I love that I'm now charting unknown personal territory!
Vanessa's little thyroid soft toy

Thanks so much for sharing your workday and adventure with us, Vanessa!

 

Vanessa's a Captain in the Starship. You can meet more Captains + learn if it’s right for your adventure when you sign up for the free mini-course here. 

 

 

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

Happy Easter! May it be full of flowers!
Knitting & stripey at Roller Derby. #yearofmaking
Over the mountains, to teach Pay Yourself at Haywood Community College. A lovely drive!
The blueberry cashew #vegan cheesecake tastes amazing, but looks pitiful. Realized too late that recipe called for 7" pan but I only have 9". #keepinitreal

I'm so grateful for…

  • A sweet, calm Easter.
  • A great live workshop at Haywood Community College
  • Feeling the momentum + following it.
  • My upcoming, massively anticipated trip
  • Your sweet comments to my new podcast! Thanks!

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating: 

 

In case you missed it…it was Podcast Week! 

 

 

 

What adventures have you had?

 

How to launch a podcast in one week

How to launch a podcast in one week, on TaraSwiger.com


 

I mentioned yesterday that I love podcasts and that I've long wanted to start my own. The truth is, I started working on one THREE years ago. In 2011, I took a great class with Diane, that taught me everything I needed to know about starting a podcast. I bought a travel mic. I sent a million emails to friends about what I wanted the podcast to be. When I went to Chicago on a trip for a client, I interviewed two of my long-time fave crafters (their interviews will eventually be on the podcast).

But then..the idea withered. I know myself: I failed to follow my enthusiasm and just make it, so I got bogged down in the details and never moved forward.

When the idea hit me again I sat right down and wrote out all the reasons I shouldn't do it (that's a short list). And then I wrote all the reasons I should do it. I wrote what the podcast would be about. I wrote a rough outline of my first podcast. And I sent an email to Heather asking if I had the different steps of it right.

The next Monday, I decided: Yes, I'm going to do this project. I recorded the audio, recorded an intro, edited it together and by Thursday had it all uploaded and ready to launch. The day after I got everything set up, Elise wrote this great post about how to launch a podcast on a Mac. I use a slightly different workflow and set of tools, so I wanted to share that with you.

This is rather long, so instead of reading it all and getting overwhelmed, I strongly recommend that you save it (maybe pin it?) and open it back up when you're ready to start your podcast. 

Here's an overview of how each episode moves from your brain into your listener's devices:

  • You record it, edit it + send it to where it will live on the web (where iTunes will “read” it from).
  • You write the summary + title, then publish the episode on that platform (or you schedule it for the future).
  • When it goes live, iTunes (+ all other podcast readers) will “catch” the feed and post it on their site with the information.
  • Subscribers will magically have the episode!

How to launch a podcast in a week.

  1. Decide what you want to talk about.
    Make a big list of possible topics. Figure out who you're making this for and what you want to say. (You could use Craft an Effective Blog to generate topic ideas!) Now, summarize all that for your first episode. Listen to a few of your favorite podcasts to get a feel for the organization of it all. What do they say at the beginning? The end? Write down a general outline of what you want to say (be as scripted or as free-flowing as you like).
  2.  Pick a name.
    This took me forever, but don't stress about it. If your blog has a name, go with that. If your Etsy shop has a name, go with that. (I'm just “Tara Swiger” everywhere, so I had to find something new.)
  3. Make a cover image.
    It needs to be 1400×1400 and still look good at 150×150. If you're totally new to image design, hire someone. (This should be pretty inexpensive. You can find lots of designers here.) Or just put the name of your podcast on a colored background. Really.
  4. Set up your recording + editing + feed.
    -Set up an account on Libsyn (I went with the cheapest: $5/mo). Put the name of your podcast and the summary in there.
    -Set up an account on Auphonic (free!) then download the Auphonic phone app.
    -Go to the “services” page on Auphonic and add your Libsyn account. This will send all of your episode to Libsyn. (This makes everything so super easy.)
    -Also set it up to send recordings to your Dropbox/fttp/computer (wherever you wanna save your files).
  5. Record your first episode.
    -Open the Auphonic app and click the big Record button and start talking.  I recorded the first episode ON MY PHONE.
    -Save the recording + name it.
    -If you want an intro and outro to be the same on every episode, record each of those and save them.
    – After you're done recording, click “Start Production” on your episode file. (You can do this on your phone, or on the web app.) If you recorded an intro and outro, put those in the intro and outro section. On this production page, you'll name the episode, write a summary, etc. Be sure you've selected Libsyn in the outgoing file, so it's sent automatically.
    -Click “Start Production” at the bottom of this page. Your file will be edited + sent to Libsyn. Yay! You're all done creating the audio file!
  6. Your episode will soon be in your Libsyn account.
    If you need to, edit the title, summary, etc and publish it (or schedule it).
  7. Submit your feed to iTunes!
    Libsyn creates the feed with all the details you've already put in,  so you just need to copy + paste the feed onto iTunes. (Your feed will look something like taraswiger.libsyn.com/feed).
  8. Wait anxiously for their approval.
  9. Share it with your friends + customers!

This list may seem long, but none of the technical things will take any more than 10-15 minutes each.

Once you've done this the first time, you only need to do Step #5 + #6 for all future episodes. Two steps!

What takes the longest: YOU – deciding on what you want to say, what you want to call it and how you want to describe it!

Here's how it worked for me, in a normal work week where I did a zillion other things, including proposing and landing a new contract for a teaching opportunity.

Monday: Decided on a whim what it would be all about (after three years of thinking about it on and off).

Tuesday: Set up all accounts, made image (with a name I decided to change), recorded intro (with the wrong name), recorded first episode.

Wednesday: Did lots of other work. On my breaks, turned my YouTube videos into podcast episodes.*

Thursday: Asked Twitter what to name it. Decided on something else entirely. Redid the image with the new name. Rerecorded intro. Re-edited first episode (I just sent the original file back through Auphonic, attaching the new intro + outro files) – all from my phone. Edited the feed page with a longer description. Submitted the feed to iTunes.

Friday: Waited! When I got the “you've been approved” email, I sent the link to two friends to test. Tested it on Jay's phone with the Podcasts app. Tested in on my phone with Downcast. Wrote the introductory blog post. Danced around!

*This took me some research, so let me tell you how I did it.

How to turn your own YouTube video into an audio podcast:

  1. From your Video Manager page on YouTube, download your video as an MP4.
  2. In Auphonic, add the MP4 as your audio file. Fill out the details (summary, description, intro, outro). Make sure it's set to send it to Libsyn.
  3. Click “Start Production.”
  4. Bam! That's it! Now it'll be on Libsyn just like any other podcast and you can schedule it for whenever you want!

Your turn?

Ready to start your own podcast? If you do, I'd love to hear it! And if this tutorial helps you create yours, PLEASE leave a comment with a link to your show!

 

 

 

 

Introducing my new podcast – Explore Your Enthusiasm

Explore Your Enthusiasm, with Tara Swiger - The Podcast!

Like I said yesterday, I've been falling in love with podcasts (and their hosts) since 2005. Podcasts introduced me to some of my favorite friends-in-person people: Guido of It's a Purl Man (he took me on a tour of his neighborhood when I taught at Gather Here); Diane of CraftyPod, now real-life friend + collaborator; Abby of While She Naps (she totally won me over with her straight-talk about money over a chai in Wellesley).
All along, I wanted to jump in and join the fun. In my real life, I talk…a lot. I love leading live explorations (ie, workshops) and I live for long conversations with creative women + biz explorers. Writing just can't communicate the easy flow that comes when I'm teaching a class or having a great conversation.

When the idea hit me again two weeks ago, I wrote all the reasons I shouldn't do it. Then I wrote the reasons I should. And after reading over what I wrote, I added one more line:
FOLLOW YOUR ENTHUSIASM. DO IT.

(I'll talk more about how I launched a podcast tomorrow).

So here it is, my brand new, weekly podcast, Explore Your Enthusiasm.

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In the inaugural episode, I share what I hope to do with the podcast, and what I hope it does for you. I want a casual space to talk about the more complex issues that I write about: motivation, profitability, and map-making. I want to introduce you to crafters that are doing their own thing, experimenting and following their enthusiasm, and making it work. I want you to know you're not alone, in whatever it is that feels like a struggle in your creative business: making money, finding motivation, being consistent.

I also share a bit about my own story of becoming a full-time crafter and the real story behind how my yarn company started. (I don't think I've ever told this story!)

I'll be adding new episodes each Wednesday + sharing them with you here on the blog. There are already a few bonus episodes in iTunes – podcast versions of my most popular videos! These are shorter than normal episodes and will be added to the podcast feed whenever I make a new video lesson (about once a month).

How to listen

I'd love to know what you want to hear and who you want to hear from! You can leave a comment or email me privately. You could also give me some ideas by filling out this 5 question survey!

More than anything, I hope you like it. I hope this helps us connect in a new way and helps you feel supported, encouraged and part of this great community of amazing makers.

 

 

 

Five Podcasts I Listen to Every Week

5 podcasts

Podcasts have been by my side at every step in this creative journey, since 2006. From dyeing my first skeins, to spinning every night after my day job, to my first big craft show prep (spinning for 5 hours per day is booooring – ya need some entertainment), to my first days self-employed. I talk about the books I read every month, but I hardly ever talk about this super-influential medium and I'd like to fix that.

This week I'm honoring the medium with a kind of “podcast week” here on the blog. Today I'll share my favorites, tomorrow I'll introduce you to my podcast and on Thursday I'll tell you how I started a podcast in one week (after three years of thinking about it).

The whole process of creating my podcast has me thinking about my favorite podcasts and how much the “scene” has changed since Jay bought my very first iPod Shuffle in 2006, to listen to the very first podcasts I discovered: Cast-On + KnitCast (This episode of Cast-On influenced my entire business direction.) Soon I was mainlining CraftyPod and CraftSanity and This American Life and Stash + Burn.

I listen to  different podcasts today, but I love them just as much as ever. Before I share my own tomorrow, I wanted to talk about podcasts from a listener's perspective. The following shows are my inspiration – not just in podcasting, but in life. (True Story: When someone gets in your head with their voice, you carry them around with you.) I find it hard to describe what's great about a piece of media, so instead of telling you what it's about, I'll just tell you when I listen and if you're curious download an episode or two and try it for yourself!

5 podcasts I listen to every week:

Unmistakable Creative

Srini is my go-to running partner. (He doesn't know. In reality, he's only consented to the Oceanside Pier while discussing exceptionalism.) His interviews with creatives keep me company as I train for my upcoming 10k. The length is just right for keeping me from looking at my watch + I always have 100 new ideas to write in my journal the minute I end my run. Bonus points for interviewing as many women as men (there's a huge gender divide in the business podcast-world. It makes me crazy.)

Slate Podcasts

I started with the Political Gabfest and now subscribe to them all, via the “daily podcast” feed. I listen every week while sewing or washing dishes. Bonus points for being one Jay and I both like – perfect for road tripping.

Alton Browncast

You know I love a nerd, and Alton's a big food nerd. Lately he's been interviewing the most interesting food-people + it fits perfectly into cooking a bit-longer meal while cleaning up as I go.

Elise Gets Crafty

This one's brand-new but has already earned a spot in my weekly rotation, usually while I'm cooking dinner – it's the perfect length for a quick dinner!

Pop Culture Happy Hour

This one just makes me happy and is the perfect sewing companion. I'm pretty sure Linda Holmes and I would be friends.

3 more favorite podcasts:

I don't listen to these every week – but they're on heavy rotation:

Nerdist – I love the casual, conversational style of interview and Chris Hardwick hits all my nerdy buttons. Jay + I save up episodes and listen together during road trips. It's often pretty long, which is perfect when you're staring down a 4 hour drive.

While She Naps with Abby Glassenberg – I love Abby's honesty and authenticity when it comes to how she runs her business. She talks to a wide variety of people in the fiber art world…but of course I'm biased because she invited me on as a guest. 🙂

CraftLit – I dip in and out of Heather's amazing podcast, picking up specific books and following along. This is a totally genius solution if you: feel like you missed out on “getting” literature (or you just never read it), are learning English, are homeschooling, or just want to seem/feel smarter.

Your turn!

You'll notice I don't have any strictly-business or strictly-knitting podcasts (although there are a zillion of each.) The truth is, after being bored to tears the last time I looked for new ones (um..3 years ago?), I haven't even tried any new ones (unless people I already read start a podcast, like Elise + Abby.) I'd love to find some new ones – what do you listen to?
You can click here to tell me in a quick 5-question survey.

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

#yayspring
Jay brought me coffee in bed, saying, "This makes me think how well you and Granny would have gotten along - drinking coffee, crocheting, being introverted." #taralovesmornings
I am TOTALLY stuck now that it's time to name my new podcast! Help?  1. Explore Your Creative Biz OR  2. Follow Your Enthusiasm.  Please vote?
Taking this #GoodFriday slow & catching up on my education, with @garyvee's take on Tumblr.

I am so grateful for…

  • Eventually I'll stop talking about flowers. But not yet! I am totally grateful for the gorgeous blooms – especially the just-burst-open dogwoods.
  • The ability, flexibility, and permission to follow my enthusiasm towards a new exciting project (podcast! details next week!)
  • The birth of the newest version of my most popular class, Pay Yourself, went swimmingly.
  • A lovely Good Friday morning full of sweetness + hope.

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I'm eating: 

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

You deserve to be paid, no matter what you need

You deserve to be paid
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?

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

One more #yayspring photo. I swoon over these trees. #foundwhilerunning

Spruce Pine is an adorable town, with a fabulous arts council. Such a great #payyourself workshop with smart artists!

Apparently my Inner Runner has the same musical taste as 6yr old Tara: Whitesnake (Here I Go Again) + Guns N Roses (Paradise City). #foundwhilerunning
It's Opening Day at Fenway: an Official Holiday in this house! We have dressed for it, got Dunkin, and made totchos.   I celebrate it as Opening Day of Sewing Season. Baseball is the perfect thing to sew to- no need (for me) to hear it & I'm not missing "

Today was the most glorious of all glorious spring runs. 4.5mi of flowering trees, daffodils, bunnies and sunshine (at a cool 50*). Spring makes EVERY neighborhood pretty.    I'm still a little high  (runner's high + so many flowers + long winter = euphor

I am so grateful for…

  • Gorgeousness around every corner – SPRING!
  • My new website design + the patience of Jessika.
  • The editing powers of Jessica.
  • The “you're in my head!” emails I get after I wrote about freaking out. (THANK YOU!)
  • This completely amazing email from a student.

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I'm eating

 

In case you missed it: 

 

What I’m reading: April 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

What I'm reading, April 2014

What I read

Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro. A fascinating memoir-ish book by my new favorite author.

Knowing your Value, by MikaBrzezinski. If you work for The Man, you're probably not being paid enough. This book will help you work through asking for more.

Ready Player One, by Earnest Cline. SO GOOD. I devoured it.

Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. I went through an Irving spell several years ago and I don't know how I missed this one. A great novel, recommended by Kim.

A pile of quilt books, including Word PlayThe Quilts of Tennessee,and Tula Pink’s City Sampler.

 

What I'm reading

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Quilting with a Modern Slant, by Rachel May. So good!

The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin

Parallel Lives, by Phyllis Rose

 

Frankly, I've lost my reading mojo. Got a book suggestion? I'd love to hear it!

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.

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