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

Month: November 2014

Holiday Survival for Introverts

How to survive the holidays as an introvert

Play

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States, so it's the perfect time to talk about how to survive the family-filled, party-going holiday season, as an introvert.

In this episode:

  • How to use your introversion as a superpower for enjoying the holidays.
  • Overcome any introversion guilt or shame.
  • Feel good and refreshed even if you spend more time than usual with other people.

Links mentioned

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Holiday Sanity

Definitive Guide to Holiday Sanity

Over the last five years of leading Holiday Sanity (now only available aboard the Starship or Lift Off), I’ve written quite a bit on surviving – even thriving – during the holiday season. With the official beginning of the season (here in the US) this week, I wanted to share a bit of what works for me.

As we leap into Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, I hope this collection saves a bit of your own sanity.

On Design Sponge:

On CraftyPod:

On Karina Dressess:

I gather all my favorite sanity-saving posts on this Pinterest board (new articles are added all the time!).

 

 

 

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

Homemade cinnamon roll + coffee + knitting + Gilmore Girls = perfect Saturday morning. #taralovesmornings
I woke up to uneasy snuggles. This is the closest they've ever been (touching!) and the peace holds only if they don't acknowledge the other exists.   #taralovesmornings #catsofinstagram #caturday
Pho for dinner.  With roast broccoli, cilantro, lime, pickled ginger, tofu and noodles. #whatveganseat

I am so grateful for…

  • A warm home on cold nights
  • A fantastically warm welcome to my newest thing
  • Saying yes to something new and big and exciting

The Finds:

I’m thinking about:

  • Since reading this post (and a zillion other studies) on the importance of standing up every 20 minutes, I downloaded Timer+ and set up a timer to go off every 20 minutes until 8 or 9 at night. I'm walking more steps and feel less achy at the end of the day.
  • You know I love CoSchedule (I go into detail about how I use it here), and this is a great post about fixing your Bounce Rate. (It convinced me to rewrite the headline on my Home page.)
  • Jay is not into sweaters, so when he asked if I could knit something like this, I was thrilled. But now I can't find any patterns that are similar. Suggestions?

I’m eating: 

In case you missed it: 

  • Be a Professional. Make the shift.
  • Overcome by self-doubt? You're not alone!
  • I announced my newest thing (an awesome new class series, built to give you your best biz in 2015) to my email list and the reaction was delightful. If you aren't on the list, and you're curious, sign up here.

I've had a few questions this week about how to listen to the podcast, so I wanted to answer them here, in case you were wondering: 

  • If you don't usually listen to podcasts (and don't use an app on your phone), you can simply listen via the player in each post (it's a little arrow button under each picture. If you click it, it will play!)
  • Or you can download each episode! In the “How to Listen” section of each podcast post, there is a link (embedded in the words “download it”) to the MP3. If you click it, the MP3 will start playing right away . If you right click, you can save it to your computer.
  • If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can use the “Podcast” app to listen – just click “add podcast”, search for “explore your enthusiasm” and select “subscribe”. This will ensure that each new episode will go write to your phone!
  • No matter what device you're on, you can listen to the podcast via Stitcher here.

What adventures have you had?

Fighting Self Doubt {Podcast}

Fighting Self Doubt

Play

 

Self doubt. Everyone deals with it from time to time. It can be niggling and annoying or paralyzing and dangerous. It keeps you from trying new things, from working just a bit harder, from reaching just a bit farther. It may keep you from starting, or growing, or really believing that you can take on a big new project.

In today's episode, we'll discuss:

  • Why it's so convincing.
  • How to defeat the self-doubt NOW.
  • How to deal with it long-term.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

Be a professional

Be a Professional

Last week I read several great posts about professionalism in our craft world. Abby wrote about the changes to the professional organization CHA to include bloggers and in reply Kim wrote about the importance of being a professional in this industry. It might seem unrelated, but I found Diane's post answering if it's “worth it” to write a craft book and Abby's post about what fabric designers earn really seem to me to be even more proof of the importance of treating this, your career as a craftsperson, as a professional. Let's discuss what this means for you.

First, there's an important distinction in this conversation about bloggers and the trade organizations, between Professional Bloggers and Professionals Who Blog.

  • Professional Bloggers make their money from their blog, they sell the eyeballs (views) of their blog to advertisers.
  • Professionals who Blog make their money from either a service or product that they sell, and their blog is one part of the Customer Path for their buyers – it helps them connect in a deeper way with the people who buy what they sell.

I work exclusively with people who sell something (whether they blog or not!); my people sell their writing to magazines, their dresses to buyers, their yarn to knitters.

Now, these people (you!) don't always think of themselves as “professionals.” In fact, many of you came to your business first as a hobby and then started selling some stuff and that's where you are now. Some people don't care to go beyond this, and it's a fun hobby and gives them some extra spending money. That's perfectly fine. I work with people who very much want to go beyond this – makers who want to build their craft into a sustainable business that supports their creativity. In other words, they want to have a career in this field. They want to become a professional.

I've found, by working with people as they make this transition from hobby to career, that there is a moment where it happens. But it's not where you might expect it. The moment is not when they make their first or fiftieth sale. It's not when they make a certain dollar amount. It's not when their work is featured in a magazine.

This moment happens the instant their thinking changes. When they go from “I make some stuff” to “I'm building a business.” From “I hope this works” to “I'm going to make this work.” From “I‘d like to be as awesome as XX {Insert current rock star in their craft}” to “I specifically want to make $XX and spend X amount of time and focus my energy on X project.

The moment you flip from hobbyist to Professional is the moment that you decide to. The moment you commit to doing the work, to making the plan, to learning what you don't yet know.

If you've made this flip, you know it. It might be the first time you made a map, or held an experiment, or just committed: “I'm actually going to do this.
If you feel fuzzy and you're one of the hundred of people who email me asking “Could this be a  business?! Can I do this?!“, that's OK! Spend some time thinking about your life and what you want from it and go with your gut (not with what looks awesome).

Once you've made this flip, it changes your decision-making process. Instead of wanting to write books or design fabric because it seems professional, you'll need to research what that will actually mean for you and your goals. (That's why I love posts like Abby's and Diane's that draw back the curtain.) Instead of saying yes to every opportunity, a Professional gets clear on what she really wants and then pursues a path that will get her there.

I'm absolutely fascinated by what happens after the flip. The systems you build, the decisions you make, the work you have to do. That's why I make tools and classes for the post-flip journey (which lasts the rest of your life). I'm working on a new thing to support those immediately post-flip, who are ready to go from “I have a shop” to “I have a business.” I'm opening it first to email subscribers on Nov 20th (and everyone who joins early will get a free Holiday Sanity class!) and then to the whole world on December 2nd. It will begin January 1. If it sounds interesting, sign up here to be the first to find out (and have lots of pre-holiday time to think about it).

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

Two of my favorite things: new pink chucks, coffee.
Today, the first snow, is a day for All The Hanknits. Cowl by @toiltrouble, hat by me in Malabrigo.
Two seconds into my first cup of coffee, I was colonized. What you can't see is the rest of her ample body draped across my whole lap. And the purrs.   #taralovesmornings #catsofinstagram

I am so grateful for…

  •  Warm handknits on cold days
  • Gilmore Girls on Netflix!
  • Roast squash
  • The gorgeous golden leaves in the setting sun.

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating: 

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

Networking for Introverts

Networking for Introverts

Play

Connecting with others, from colleagues to gatekeepers to your buyers, is at the foundation of a successful business. In our internet-based businesses, it's increasingly easy to connect shallowly – liking a post, favoriting a tweet, following or friending – but you gotta get deeper than that, to build real working relationships. I write and speak a lot about building those relationships with your buyers, but how do you connect in a meaningful way with your colleagues and gatekeepers (editors, publishers, etc)?  Especially if you're an introvert?

In this episode we'll talk about: 

  • How to reach out in a non-icky way to those you want to connect with
  • How to follow up without feeling like a loser
  • How to fit this connection into your week so it doesn't suck up all your energy

Links mentioned

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

Adventures in Business with Knitwear Designer Denise Twum

Today I'm sharing an adventure with Starship Captain and part-time knitwear designer, Denise Twum. Denise was introduced to knitting by her supervisor while working at her college’s science library in 2006. Knitting kept her company as she traveled to five countries for a year of independent research, and she’s been addicted ever since.  You can see more of her designs on Ravelry  as well as her website.

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

I used to be a full-time maker when I was at home with my newborn baby, and each day was different. What I realized very quickly was that, if I didn’t lay out a plan for the day, or list out a few things I wanted to achieve, the day would go by quickly without me achieving one thing.

I’m currently a part-time maker and it’s definitely very challenging, balancing my passion and love for this with a full-time job that I also love, but which is unrelated to my knitwear business.

On a typical day now, I spend most of my day at my full-time position, sneaking quick looks at my knitting emails during lunch time to see if there’s a sale or an interesting email for possible collaboration. After work, I spend a couple of hours with the family, eating dinner and relaxing together. After the little one is asleep, that’s when I get to party!!! …Okay not really, but I love my knitting work so much that it feels like a party for just me, from around 9pm to midnight every day.

Usually I bust out my needles and start knitting anything, with a vaguely formed idea of what I want to knit. I often undo my work a number of times before I find a design I like. Once that design makes me happy, I try to knit it in multiple color combinations to see how it looks.

In recent times, as I think about how I want my business to grow, I’ve realized that I also need to concentrate on the non-knitting aspect of the business, so some evenings, I’ll dedicate some time to conducting research on what the current market looks like, what color trends are being set for fall, what my competition is doing, and ways to market my work and get it out there some more.

Denise's "Procragratification Infinity Cowl" patternDenise's “Procragratification Infinity Cowl” pattern

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?

Once I accepted that it would take a lot of work for me to convert this business to a full-time endeavor, I no longer feel that pressure and burden on me to succeed right now. I’m learning how I can use the seasonality of my sales cycle to my benefit, shoring up and knitting a lot of items, or coming up with ideas for new patterns during the summer lull, in order to get ready for the holiday and winter season.

I’m also getting more aggressive about improving and scaling the designing portion of my work. Compared to a handknit item, patterns are a lot cheaper cost-wise for my customers to purchase, and those sales will also boost my visibility on the outlets I use.

I’m also looking into selling in multiple channels, as opposed to my Etsy/Craft Fair combo that I’ve worked for the past few years. I’m very excited to see how that goes.

 

Denise's studio space

What new thing are you exploring now?

Right now I’m exploring a more unified packaging for the items I mail out. Right now I wrap my items and add a label, and it looks nice, but I’m looking to create an experience even with my packaging, so people are excited to open a package from NiseyKnits.

 

What's your definition of success in your business?

My definition of success right now would be to break even, be able to forecast how much I’ll make each year, and to become one of the vendors people think about when they are looking for quality, handmade knit items.

 

Denise's BlockTure scarf designDenise's BlockTure scarf design

 

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

I’m hoping I can get some of my items into some shops in the coming year, and publish some more designs.

 

Want to learn from other  Starship Captains? Sign up here to read their stories!

 

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

A few last beach photos before I post the snow photos of home, while my current view is boring airport. #taralovesadventure
Quesadillas at a raw, #vegan shop next to the beach = so SoCal you can't stand it. Also, delicious. #whatveganseat
The most photogenic day ever. #oceanside #taralovesadventure
The New York skyline...in Legos. So awesome. #taralovesadventureI so wish I could properly capture the fantastic ORANGEYNESS of this tree.   #taralovesmornings

I am so grateful for…

  •  A fantastic visit with my family + my newly-graduated brother!
  • The fact that when I visit my family, I get to also swim in the ocean. 
  • The systems that allowed everything to run smoothly while I was totally offline.
  • The brilliants craftspeople at LegoLand for inspiring me to not be afraid of big, crazy projects. (That photo of the NYC skyline above? All legos, to exactly 1:20 scale)

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating: 

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

How to Launch Anything

How to Launch Anything

 

Play

A few weeks ago a Starship captain asked for ideas and resources for launching a new product line and I wrote a long and thorough answer, and wanted to share that with you today. This can apply to how you launch a new business (if you already have an audience), how you launch a new product or how you launch a book.

We'll cover: 

  • How to come up with launch content
  • How to fit it in your calendar
  • How to continuously improve

Links mentioned

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Launch YOUR next product more easily – make a plan and stick to it! Sign up below to learn more.

 

1 2