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

Month: August 2015

Abby Glassenberg on Email Marketing for Crafters

AbbyG

Abby Glassenberg has built a thriving sewing pattern company, she is the podcaster behind the popular interview show, While She Naps, and the writer of my favorite blog. I was happy to get to talk to her about her own experience with creating a (massive!) email list with content I look forward to and how she helps makers do the same.

 Links we mention

 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Adventures in Business with Fiber Artist Riin Gill

Today I'm happy to share the adventures of Starship Captain Riin, who is the owner of Happy Fuzzy Yarn. Riin knits, spins, dyes, runs Happy Fuzzy Yarn, and drinks a lot of strong black tea. She lives with her boyfriend, two rabbits, and a really astounding amount of wool in Ann Arbor, MI. Connect with Riin on Twitter, Facebook,or Ravelry.

 

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

Ha! There is no such thing as a normal day! Ok, there are some similarities … I get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, the minions start arriving … and after that, I could be redesigning labels, or writing a blog post, or fixing a spreadsheet whose formulas went wonky, or coming up with a new colorway, or dealing with petty bureaucrats, or designing a shawl … There is always a lot of strong black tea involved!

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 the beginning I did everything — the soaking, dyeing, washing, rinsing, labeling, packing, shipping, getting things online, maintaining the inventory, all of the social media, all of the response to store inquiries, all of the advertising, all of the designing, all of the writing, all of the editing, all of the everything. As Happy Fuzzy Yarn has grown, all of that has grown to much more than one person can do.

I've been moving into more of a Creative Director role. The brilliant and amazing Carol Ullmann has been interacting with stores, writing, doing social media, and designing, and she's working on a business plan. The extremely talented Heather Sauntry has taken over most of the dyeing, and is also doing some designing. Other minions are doing things I never had time to do when I was trying to do it all, like make lots and lots of little sample skeins.

Aside from money I've spent on things like my mortgage and groceries, I've put nearly every penny back into the business, so I'm not sure I actually am making a living yet. I've got a roof over my head and I'm not starving though, so I guess that counts for something!

starrysocks-heelandsoledetail

What new thing are you exploring now?

I just started advertising in Yarn Market News (the trade magazine for the yarn industry), so that should increase my brand recognition among LYS (local yarn store) owners, especially ones who don't make it to TNNA (The National Needlearts Association – a trade show for the needlearts industry).

Also I've been working out formulas to do gradient sets. I am really excited about that!

What's your definition of success in your business?

To be honest, I have two.
On the one hand, I just want to make enough money so I can enjoy what I'm doing and make beautiful things and not have to worry about whether I have enough money to pay wages AND taxes AND my mortgage AND order supplies, but just know that yes, there is enough, and I am happy, and my employees are happy, and our customers are happy.

On the other hand … ok, let's face it. I want fame and fortune (or as much fame and fortune as one can get in the yarn world anyway). I have had people tell me my yarn is nicer than Wollmeise or nicer than Madtosh or nicer than anything else at TNNA, and obviously those are subjective statements, but if a lot of people think my yarn is nicer than yarns which are thought of as the holy grail, I think my yarn should be just as famous and fast selling as those yarns! So I want that, plus everything on the first hand!

tnna2015-corriesock

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

We desperately need to move into a larger space. We've been starting to scope out commercial real estate, seeing what's available, what it would cost, and figuring out how that would affect, well, everything! Happy Fuzzy Yarn has grown to the point that it simply doesn't fit in my house any more. We need a light industrial space so we can dye more at a time, have more drying space, more storage, a larger shipping area, and so on. We're thinking a small retail area at the front would be a natural addition.

 

Want to learn more about other Starship Captains like Riin? Sign up here for an Early Boarding Pass and be the first to know when the Starship reopens for boarding!

Get More Done: a sneak peak at the CreativeLive class

getmoredone

If you are listening to this episode as it’s released, on August 19th 2015 – first of all, thank you! You’re awesome. Secondly, if it’s between 9am and 4pm PST, go to CreativeLIVE.com right now and click “watch live!” and you’ll be able to watch me teach! Live!

If you’re not listening RIGHT at that moment, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at what I’m teaching, so that you can start to have a more productive day RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can purchase the class here and get anytime access to over 5 hours of videos, the full 20+ page workbook, and a discount to Lift Off!

Imagine that it’s the end of your workday. You close your computer, walk away from your sewing machine, put away your supplies. You take a moment to look back at what you just got done. Instead of feeling frustration, or that it’s never enough, you feel calm. You feel GOOD. You’re proud of what you got done, and you know that it matters – that it is moving you, bit by bit, towards your goal.

That is what I want for you, and that is the aim of this class. So that soon, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, you’ll get done working, and you’ll feel GOOD.

In this episode I share the Three Keys to Getting More Done. 

 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

You’re invited to Get More Done! Live + Free on CreativeLIVE

Tara_Swiger_How_To_Get_More_Done_Instagram_612x612

I'll be honest with you, ALL I can think about this week is “Getting More Done”, both the class I'm about to teach with CreativeLIVE AND the act of getting more done. If you follow me on Periscope, then you know I've been asking you: What keeps you from getting more done?

I've taken all the responses (and all the questions my readers have sent me for the past 5 years!) and put together a solution, that will work for YOU, whether you've got 30 minutes a week or 30 hours a week to work on your creative business.

Along with the questions I’ll answer in the class (like “How do I balance admin time and studio time?,“ “How can I build my business with SUPER limited time?”, “How do I decide what's important and impactful for my business?“), I've also been asked some questions I'd like to answer NOW.

How does this work?

Go here and click “RSVP”. You’ll get both the bonus Holiday Sales Calculator worksheet right away (along with bonuses from Tara Gentile, Abby Glassenberg, Lisa Jacobs, and Megan Auman), so you’ll be ready to start class Wednesday morning. At 9am PST (Noon EST) on Wednesday, August 19th, class will begin! You’ll get a reminder email to log on and when you do you’ll see me teaching, in real time! There’s a chat room for you to ask your questions (the hosts will be lobbing your questions at me on the regular) and a hashtag (#CraftWeek2015) so you can connect with your fellow students.

What’s the schedule of the class?

Note: Times are in PST!

9:00-10:30AM What do you NEED to get done?

10:45-12:00PM What's in your way?

12:45-2:15PM Find the Time (no matter how little you have

2:30-4:00PM Make Your Plan

 

Who is this class for?

This class is aimed at makers who sell their work and want to get more (of what matters) DONE each day.

This class is for you if…

  • You struggle to find time to work on your creative business.
  • You’re frustrated with trying to balance all the aspects of your business: making, marketing and admin.
  • You have a list of things you really want to do, but find yourself NOT doing them.
  • You don’t know where to find the time to work on exciting new projects (like a new product, book, marketing plan)
  • You’re a curious explorer. You’d love for this to be a fascinating adventure, not a boring slog. You’re ready to learn + move forward, not judge or guilt-ify the past.

 

What's up with the Holiday Sales Bootcamp?

My class, Get More Done, is part of a weeklong series of classes aimed at making your crafty shop ROCK the holiday summer.

On Monday, Tara Gentile will cover pricing and value.

On Tuesday, Abby Glassenberg will teach you how to write and send an effective email newsletter.

On Wednesday, I'll help you get more productive.

On Thursday, Lisa Jacobs will improve your copywriting (ie, your product descriptions!)

On Friday, Megan Auman will walk you through putting together your marketing plan!

By the end of it, you'll be ready to have a fantastic holiday season in your shop!

 

What if I can’t watch live?

Watching live is free, but you can purchase anytime access. You can get my class here for $79 (the price will go up after class, so jump on it!) or you can buy the entire 5 day bootcamp. Each Day’s page tells you what we’ll cover on that day, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Whether you can watch live or not, you may want to purchase the class to get some amazing bonuses:

  • Anytime access to the videos (so you can revisit it again and again!)
  • Full workbook to guide you through making your OWN system of getting things done
  • Resource Guide with links to my favorite apps + tools
  • $50 off Lift Off

 

I’m bummed I missed the Wrangle Your Time class, where can I get it?

Well, you’re in luck! While you can't take Wrangle Your Time  as a stand-alone class (it is in the library of both the Starship and Lift Off) – it is ALL covered in this class! In fact, this class digs even deeper and gives more tips and software recommendation.

 

I don’t have a business yet, I just have ideas.

Ready for some tough love?

If you are still just “playing around” with “some ideas”, but you really REALLY want a business (and not a hobby) – step away from the internet. Stop taking classes, stop reading books, and stop looking at what other people are doing. Go into your creation cave and create your best work. Make 5-10 of them (whether this is products, designs, artwork, whatever). Ask yourself if you enjoy this enough to make 50 more. Then, take some pictures and make it available for sale (either online or in a craft show).

THEN, you are ready to start thinking about becoming effective with your time.

In other words, this class is going to be most useful to you if you know what you make and it’s available for people to buy, somewhere. If you’re not sure how to move from Idea to Business, check out Kari Chapin’s class on getting started.

 

What's Periscope?

Periscope is a live-video streaming app. Even if YOU have no desire in sharing live videos, you can join (just download the app!) and follow me, so you get notified of any of my live videos. There's a chat room, so you're not just watching, you're also talking to me! Periscopes only stay online for 24 hours, so if you miss watching live, you miss it!

I've been using Periscope to answer quick questions about your small business, help viewers prioritize their week (or celebrate what they've accomplished) and share behind-the-scenes of my own projects (I've been announcing new projects and inviting participation on Periscope before I do anywhere else). While I’m traveling, I’m shooting live videos of any cool place I visit (coffee + yarn shops + dinners with other makers!)

I interact HEAVILY with the chat room, so Periscope is the best way to get some personal interaction. (You can always book a 1:1 session here and get my personal attention for a full hour. They're VERY limited and book up quick, so if you've been thinking about getting personal help, grab it here, then hang out on Periscope in the meantime!)

 

Don’t forget to register to watch the class free: https://taraswiger.com/time

Got a question?

Ask on Twitter (I'm @taraswiger) or Facebook and I’ll answer (in between traveling). Hope to see you in the class!

 

 

Megan Auman on visual marketing, neuroscience of desire, and MBAs

MeganAuman

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith and educator, who makes gorgeous jewelry. She's teaching  Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan at CreativeLIVE during the Improve your Holiday Sales bootcamp, where I'm teaching Get More Done. You can watch it live, for free, if you sign up here.

Today Megan's joining me on Explore Your Enthusiasm to talk about:

  • Turning points in her business
  • How she discovered she didn't need an MBA
  • The importance of visual marketing and getting what you're worth

Links we mention

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

My exact system for getting everything done

howigeteverythingdone

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a massive post  about how I got things done, which quickly became the second most popular post of the year (this is the most popular post). But a lot has changed during the last year. I got a new planner, I tried new apps, I hired another team member, (more about how to do that in last week's podcast!) and started using project management software.

In preparation of my class on putting together your own system for Getting More Done, I wanted to share an update to my own system, along with alllllll the gory details of what I use and why.

I'm going to break this up the same way we'll build your own system – by looking at the three parts vital to a system.

Those three pieces are:

  1. Setting aside a specific time to work.
  2. Keeping track of what you need to do.
  3. Doing the work that matters.

Now, before you dive in, please remember that my business is probably really different from yours. YOU need to build your own system, one that works for your business and your life. I'm going to help you do that in this class.

My time to work

I work M-F (never on the weekends.) When I'm not working, I try not to even check my email, unless we're in the middle of the Starship launch and I know I'll be getting time-sensitive questions.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I usually work from the coffee shop, from around 10am-4pm. If I get started late, I work later. On Fridays, I often stop a bit early (2pm or so) and go start my weekend. These days are my time for writing – these weekly blog posts, guest posts, podcast episodes, new classes, magazine articles, a new book – and replying to emails and the Starship forums. On Wednesday at 2p, we have the weekly Starship chat.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I usually work from home, so that I can do all the things I need quiet for – client sessions, podcast recording, class recording, interviews. I usually work from around 11am – 5pm (which is when Jay's out of the house, working at the comic shop). I used to try to start earlier…but we've got a tiny apartment, and I can't really get away from him, so I just enjoy our morning together. I let these days feel slightly less work-y – I stay in my PJs, I tend to put only 2-3 things on my list: hour-long client sessions on the phone wipe me out, and if I have 2 sessions…that's  all the thinking I have in me for the day; recording podcasts (and broadcasting and answering follow-up questions on Periscope) takes around 2-3 hours.

As you can see, I don't work 40 hours a week. I've learned, through 6 years of self-employment, that I don't have 8 hours a day of uninterrupted focus in me (I don't know anyone who does – in most office jobs you spend a chunk of the day talking to your coworkers, futzing about online, and walking around getting more coffee. Or was that just me?).

But here's the important factor: When I'm working, I'm working. I don't open my personal Facebook. I don't scroll through Instagram. I absolutely don't visit Pinterest or Amazon or play any games. This is my time for work, and I might get distracted replying to a customer email, or researching something, but I try to limit myself to truly work. In that way, my non-work time is 100% NOT work. I play games, read blogs, and endlessly scroll through Instagram and Pinterest in that not-working time.

If I find myself incredibly distracted and I haven't gotten my 3 Most Important Things done for the day…I change something. I either stand up and walk around, change locations or just stop working for the day. There's no point in forcing myself to sit at the computer if I'm not getting work done.

Knowing what to do

All of the working time in the world doesn't matter if you don't know what you're spending that time on! I keep track of things a few different ways.

Whenever I start any new project, I break it down into  it's individual to-dos. This includes every piece of content, every image, everything. I put these in Asana and assign the tasks to the appropriate team member and give it a due date. Some projects, like launching a new class, have a lot of pieces. Some, like writing my book proposal, have just a few tasks that are all “Write X chunk.”

But new projects are just a tiny slice of what we do week in and week out. Most of what the team does repeats weekly or quarterly. So we have Asana projects that repeat!

An example: the podcast episodes

  • I write it and share the transcript with Jess
  • I record the episode + upload it to Libsyn
  • I write the blog post that includes the description of the episode + schedule it
  • (If it's an interview, Jay edits it and uploads the edited audio to Libsyn)
  • Jess edits the transcript
  • Jay lays the transcript out
  • Jess links it on the Transcript Page
  • Jay makes the image for the blog post
  • Jess edits the blog post and pastes the MP3 link into the player software.
  • She schedules (using CoSchedule) the social media posts about it, using what I've written.

That was actually more complicated for me to write out than it is in Asana. We figured out the steps, put them in Asana, and now everyone's tasks repeat each week on the same day. Repeating tasks cover 90% of what the team works on: podcasts, blog posts, the quarterly Starship boarding, regular review, editing and updating content regularly. I am responsible for setting the direction we’re going, conceiving and planning new projects, and writing and creating everything with my name on it. Jess serves as Project Manager for most projects, as she's the final editor and scheduler..so if any piece is missing, she checks in with the appropriate person. Jay’s the producer – he makes the graphics consistent, PDFs pretty, and the audio/video edited.

When it comes time for me to start work, 99% of what I need to do is waiting for me in Asana, with the date I'm going to work on it. However, I do a few things to make everything more do-able for me. (As far as I know Jess and Jay just work directly out of Asana and go through their list and check it off. Because I've got to prioritize for the whole team, I need to do a bit more thinking before I dive into work.)

Each Monday, before I start work, I open up my planner (I use Elise's Get To Workbook) and write down everything I need and want to get done this week. I'll look at Asana and add anything from there. I split it up by project, so I understand all the pieces of each product that need be done THIS week. Yes, most of it is in Asana, but I like having it organized in front of me, in my handwriting, so that I don't have to keep going online to check. The writing process also helps me remember anything I might have forgotten and really embeds this week's priorities in my head.

Doing the Work that Matters:

Once I'm tracking all the things that need to happen in my business, and I know what I need to do THIS week, I identify the three most important things I need to get done this week. This ensures that the most important things always gets done, even if something comes up (I get sick, a system melts down, whatever). It also gives me a filter for the week – I can always ask myself if I'm moving forward on the most important things. (I make sure that my goal for the quarter is always reflected in this step!)

Once I have it all done, it's simple to figure out what to do each day. At the beginning of every work session, I write down everything I wanna do during that session, and then I pick out the 3 Most Important Things. I start FIRST on these things, then work on the other stuff.

Yes, I am writing down each task a few times (it's in Asana, it's in my weekly list, it's in that day’s list)..but I'm not going for efficiency but effectiveness. The more I write it down, the more important I've made it, and the more likely I am to do it on the appropriate day or week. When I talk to my students about their to do list, the biggest complaint I hear is that they don't get it done because they never look at it. I've set up my system so I'm looking at the most relevant part of my list (what I need to do NEXT) every day.

The other part is actually getting it done, and my system for just buckling down and working changes with the day. As I mentioned above, I'm sure to only be working when I work (no TV going, no podcast listening, no for-fun internet browsing) and when I'm done working I STOP (even if it's far before my usual quitting time, if I get finished with that days' tasks, I stop work!).

That helps a LOT – knowing that I only need to focus (I only GET to focus on work!) for a very specific amount of time. But if I find myself distracted (or just avoid-y), there are a few things I try:

  • Close all tabs and turn off all notifications. I have 99% of the notifications on my phone turned off, but if I'm really distracted, I put it in airplane mode and close ANY open tab.
  • Get up and walk around, get water or coffee and stretch. This is like a reset button and it's the quickest way of interrupting a not-productive use of time.
  • Start my favorite playlist. (I write best to bouncy beats)
  • Start a pomodoro timer and commit to working on a MIT until it rings. If I'm working on something really stressful or I'm having a bad day, I promise myself that if I do at least ONE pomodoro session, I'm allowed to be done for the day. I usually get in the flow and don't want to stop then, but if I'm not, I stop and close up for the day. It's important not to try to trick myself, or else I'll never believe it next time, and I'll start taking breaks in my workday.

(I have a theory that your productive self is like a puppy, or a toddler. You can't expect her to show up every day and work endlessly, without any fun. But you can ask her to focus for at least 20 minutes, with a break for fun. If you lie to her and never let her have a break, she'll revolt and will never show up when you need her. Taking physical breaks (dancing, listening to music, drinking something tasty) can reset her for another work session, but you can't just push her.)

 

And that's it! That's how I get stuff done, from the project-planning down to the every-day habits that keep me productive!

 

If you want to focus on only the work that matters in YOUR business, my FREE weekly planning sheet will help you do just that! Sign up below to download it!

Get your FREE "Week at a Glance" planning sheet to help you prioritize your To Do list, focus only on what really matters, and Get More Done in your business! At TaraSwiger.com.

 

 

FOCUS: How to get it and keep it

Focus

Distracted by the internet? Find it impossible to focus? You are not alone.

Today I share 3 of my best tips to get focused on your work, avoid distractions, and keep your focus until you get a project done. This is vital for productivity and making progress in your business and so many of us struggle with it. If you'd like to learn more about getting stuff done, join my upcoming class with CreativeLIVE. It's totally free to watch live on August 19th, and you can sign up for reminders (and get a cool Holiday Sales Forecasting Calculator) here.

 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

What I’m reading: August 2015

 I 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.

image

Looking at the list of this month's reads made me think about why I choose to read what I read. I realized it might help you in your own choices if you understood what I'm hoping to get out of the books I read. Sometimes it's just for pure fun and relaxation (novels), sometimes it's to learn something I don't know, or because I want different perspectives on an issue I deal with/teach in my work (many of this month's reads), and sometimes it's just to learn from the structure  or style of the book. As I work on my own book proposal, I need to understand what already exists in the market so my book is different and complimentary. Often I'll read a book for my clients or students, to see if it answers their questions (and then I'll recommend it to them!).

No matter why I'm reading a book, if I find myself avoiding it or just not moving forward through it quickly, I put it down. I'm a big fan of quitting (wow, I wrote that post 5 years ago!). If I don't like a book, I don't put it on the list here (or if I do, I'll tell you why I didn't like it).

 What I read

  • Landline, by Rainbow Rowell – Oh man. This is the book that solidified my love for Rainbow Rowell. While her other books are categorized YA, this is definitely adult. It's full of moments I've recognized in my own marriage, and insights into what it's like to spend a lifetime with someone. Totally recommend.
  • Radical Self Love, by Gala Darling – This isn't available anymore, but I think it's because she got a traditional book deal to release it. Fun, sweet, full of the kind of stuff you'll find in her best blog posts … but it could definitely use an editor for structure.
  • The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield – I heard the author on a podcast, and he seemed smart (he's a multi-time best-seller author!), so I picked up the book. At its core, it talks about the same kind of thing as Gala's book (above), but in a more structured format. If you have NO idea what you want to do with your life, and you're very very stuck, I recommend it.
  • Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell – Loved it!
  • The Soul of Money, by Lynn Twist – The title turned me off, but the author worked as a fundraiser for The Hunger Project and has used her experience in the third world and the super-rich fundraising world to explore our relationship with money. The book is much more about our cultural relationship than your personal relationship, but I'll be using some of the insights I gathered in the updated version of Pay Yourself.

What I’m reading

 

What I read last year