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

Month: February 2020

298: How Instagram creates sales

It can be easy to waste time on social media, especially Instagram. Learn how to use Instagram to make sales in your creative business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast298

Play

Is Instagram worth it? How do you make sales with Instagram? I know! This is one of the ongoing questions my students have about any tool, and Instagram in particular. Today I’m going to explain EXACTLY how you can increase your sales by using Instagram.

Before we dive into Instagram, we are coming right up on episode 300, and I am including YOU in this episode! To participate, head over to my free FB group: fb.com/groups/taraswiger and the info on how to be involved is right there, pinned to the top!

Today’s question comes directly from the FB group: Does Instagram actually make sales for anyone? It seems to be just a waste of time, a bunch of content going into the void.

First of all: yeah, it can DEFINITELY feel like a waste of your time!

The good news is: YOU are in charge of whether it's a waste of time or not. It’s true! You don’t have to wait for Instagram to send you people, or for your right buyer to just stumble upon you.

Instead, make Instagram effective for your business by creating a plan and using it to find, connect with, and build trust with your ideal buyers. You will make sales with Instagram when you talk to, connect with and build trust with your Ideal Buyers.

So how do you connect and build trust on Instagram? 

  1. Identify your Right People.
  2. Talk to your Right People on YOUR profile
  3. Find and connect with your Right People on their profile.

Now let’s get into it deeper.

Identify Your Right People

Who buys your item? Who wants what you sell? These are your Right People. This is who ALL your marketing should be for. This will impact what photos you use, what captions you write, what hashtags you utilize, everything about all of your marketing.

This is a deeper process than just answering a few questions and it is what I do with Captains inside the Starship. So if you want to know more about your people, check out the free workshop at TaraSwiger.com/Foundations and we can work together to identify your Right People.

On Your Profile

If you’re taking the time to post photos on your Instagram, then take the extra time to make it effective at making a connection with your Right Buyer.

How? Captions.

A photo might grab someone’s attention, but captions are how your customers get to know YOU, get to know your brand and what you stand for, and feel connected to you.

Yes, you could just write three words and be done, but if you’re taking the time to post, shouldn’t you take the time to make it worthwhile? Writing a longer post (over 65 words, which is the average), it will take longer, but it will also be more valuable.

The data shows that posts with longer captions generally have higher engagement than those with a shorter caption. Engagement is when your followers interact with your post (comment, like, save or share it). And more engagement leads to more people seeing your post.

Ok, so what do you write? This is where you come back to your RIght Buyer – what is she interested in? What does she need to know about your product or your company? We answer all these questions in the Starship, so you create effective posts.

On Her Profile

How does your customer find you?
Well, she may be searching, she may click on hashtags, but the most direct way for your customer to find you is… you find her.

Stop waiting for your Right Buyer to find your photos, or to find your shop – find her!

How? 

This goes back to the work you did to identify your RIght Buyer – once you have a very clear idea of who she is, you can look at who she follows, what sites she reads, what she’s into. One of the easiest ways is to look at your Actual Customers. See what they’re posting, who they’re following, what hashtags they use.
And… connect with her! Follow your customer on Instagram, comment on her posts, when she asks for a recommendation, give it! You’re not going to be SELLING to her, but you will be CONNECTING with her.

Look at who else they follow and who follows them. If that person seems like your Right Buyer, follow them! And connect.

Does this work? Doesn’t it take a lot of time?

Oh, I know, I hear you moaning now – but Tara! Doesn’t this take a lot of time? Does this work? 

And the answer is yes and yes. It does take time. But you are already scrolling on Instagram. Right? You are already spending time on social media that is not building your business. I’m not asking you to spend MORE time, I’m asking you to spend your time EFFECTIVELY. As in, doing stuff that will make a change.

As for it working, listen. I don’t recommend you do only this. This is one strategy in what should be a full plan for marketing, that includes clear messaging, email marketing, in-person marketing, along with Instagram.

This is not linear. You don’t get a 1:1 result. Or even a 10:1 result. Some posts will connect with people and get 5 new followers. Some will have a strong call to action and hit someone at just the right time and generate 2 or 10 sales. And some will just build a relationship and build trust, so that when you post your newest product, your followers are ready to click over and buy.

How does this actually work?

Well, here’s the thing: I’ve actually said all of this backwards to how your customer will experience it. How it’s going to work is that you are going to go out and connect with your Ideal Buyers on her profile. Leave comments, make recommendations, answer questions. Then, she will move from her profile to yours. You will be building a profile (full of photos and captions) that connect with her so she’ll stick around, maybe click through to your products, maybe follow you. Keep posting, with calls to action that lead her to click, and she’ll click through to your website and buy when she’s ready.

As I was sharing this in the Facebook group, I had someone ask “What about commenting on a post that already has tons of comments? Won’t I just get lost?”

Yes, yes you will. For marketing purposes, don’t bother with accounts that are super big, with dozens of comments. Your comment will mean so much more to someone who doesn’t get very many.

What I’ve noticed is that people have so much resistance to this idea. They don't want to do it because they don’t see immediate results. They don’t want to comment on other people’s posts, but they want people to comment on theirs.

Why? You show people how to interact with you. If you are never in comments, no one else will be. If you never follow anyone or interact, you can’t expect anyone to interact with you.

Yes, you will do work – captions, comments, stories, that won’t get a response.

So what? You’re learning, you’re creating a library of content. You are trial-and-error-ing it. You are getting better at your marketing messaging.

And guess what?

This podcast is built on the very principles you’ll apply to your Instagram. I create content that will delight you. It takes me a LOT of time and energy to create each episode I give it to you for free. I connect with you on social media, you may listen for a month or two years, all the while feeling more trust and connection with me, until you feel ready to join the Starship and work with me.

Are all those episodes I create where you didn’t buy a waste of time and energy?
No, they were building a relationship.

But don’t forget – your posts aren’t building that relationship with ONE person, they are building it with many people who are seeing today, and people who will scroll back and read it a year from now.

If you’ve been listening for a while, and you are curious about learning more to work together, check out how we can work together in my free masterclass – 4 Foundations to a Thriving Handmade Business. You can find it at taraswiger.com/foundations

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.

297: Favorite books of Winter 2020

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast297

Play

What is the best book you’ve read lately? In today’s episode, I’m sharing my favorite books of this winter – from December – February.

Every quarter I round-up my most-favorite books and share them here. If you are subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may recognize some of these books, as they were part of my Best Books of 2019. If you like learning about great books and you are NOT subscribed over on YouTube, you are missing out! I share reading vlogs, monthly round-ups, and all kinds of fun bookish stuff in my Monday videos at TaraSwiger.com/YouTube. You can scroll down and see my whole Reading playlist or click on Videos to see my most recent videos.

Stats
I have read 16 books so far, and I will likely finish another 3 before the end of the month. 4 mysteries, 2 giant YA space operas over 600 pages, 3 personal memoir essay-ish things.

All three of the memoirs were great, so I’m going to just quickly tell you, you should read them:

  1. Enough, by Shauna Ahern, who you may know as Gluten-Free Girl. I read her blog years ago, and so I picked this up when I saw it on the New Book shelf at the library. It is totally different and so good. Shauna tells the story of how she began to feel as if she is enough, after a lifetime of living by the girl code (criticizing your body, trying to be smaller), a traumatic childhood and trying to make money on the internet. I think anyone who is a woman or works online should read it.
  2. How We Fight for our Lives by Saeed Jones, is the memoir of a young black gay man growing up in Texas. There is violence, there is sexual content, and there is a really beautiful story of finding himself and figuring out his relationship with his mother.
  3. Thick and Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom, is a series of essays about her experiences being a black woman academic living in the world. It’s about thickness, of body and of thought, and explores beauty and twitter and class mobility. Read it if you like Roxanne Gay or Lindy West’s Shrill.

Now, the fiction books:

Such a Fun Age by Kelly Reid might be my favorite book of the year, ALREADY. A young black woman is babysitting for a white family and has a very racially charged experience in a grocery store. The story unfolds from that tense beginning, but the book itself manages to be fun and compelling and build a momentum that had me up until 3am finishing it. It’s really about white privilege and how “good” white people try to do the right thing while completely ignoring the black person’s agency and selfhood. This book is complex and real and although it sounds like it could be heavy, it’s actually just great fun.

Illuminae, by Amy Kaufman is so weird I can’t believe it’s so good. It’s a kind of YA space opera with horror. I only think it’s YA because the protagonist is a teenage girl, who is saving absolutely everyone. But it’s a little dark and splattery for like, 12 year old Tara. It is really about survival and sacrifice and telling your own story. I’ve read the second book in the trilogy, Gemina, and I liked it almost as much. I’ve got the last book, Obsidio, on my shelf.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo has been on my shelf forever, but I had been avoiding it because it’s written in prose. It took me a minute to sink into it, but when I did, man! It beautifully tells the story from the perspective of a young Dominican girl living in Harlem who is figuring out adolescence and her conservative family, while starting to write slam poetry. It is just the most gorgeous and most true book I’ve read about what it means to be a girl when you start to get unwanted male attention… but it’s not even really about that.

Ok, so a few more books I read and loved but am not going to go into detail about:

These were a few really good reading months! I think I got to some deeper books, like the memoirs, because we didn’t have kids for a few of the months (in case you don’t understand how we only sometimes have kids – we’re foster parents).

When you purchase the book using my links, I earn a tiny percentage, which frankly, goes to buying diapers. I get most of my books at my local library, so check yours out because libraries are amazing. Lots  of my faves came from the Book of the Month Club (referral link).

In a few weeks I have my 300th episode – to learn how you can participate in my celebration, be sure you’ve joined the Facebook group – facebook.com/groups/taraswiger

Thanks for listening and have a book-filled enthusiastic week!

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.

296: Fix your mindset

Play

Now that you’ve worked on your fear, what about your other beliefs that are holding you back? What do you need to believe in order to move towards your goals?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about what’s holding you back.

We’ve talked about how a lot of you say what’s holding you back is… YOU. Fear is at the heart of a lot of it. Another aspect of what’s holding you back is what you believe – about yourself, your business, and how the world works. This is your mindset, the set of beliefs that form your frame that you look at the world through.

Now, before you think, “yeah, yeah, I gotta have the right mindset. But what I really need is 5 steps to grow my Instagram!”…let’s take a minute, just like 10 minutes, to go deeper on this.

If your mindset and your beliefs are holding you back, it won’t matter how many tactics and tricks you learn for Instagram or Etsy or craft shows. It won’t matter because YOU will keep holding YOU back.

Mindset

We’re going to talk about a few different ways your beliefs can hold you back. The first one is your mindset – what you believe you are capable of and how the world works. Over the years you’ve heard me talk about the research in the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck. As a researcher she looked across areas – school, business, sports – and found that people think of themselves and their challenges in one of two ways – with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

Fixed mindset = believing that you are the way you are and you’re not going to change.
Growth mindset = believing that you can grow and improve and learn to reach your challenges.

You’ve probably heard this before. And you’ve probably decided, I wanna have a growth mindset.

But this is actually WAY harder than a one time decision and it comes up again and again.

Here’s what I’ve noticed in the last few years of thinking about this and talking with makers about it:

  1. You probably have different mindsets in different areas.
    You might have a very growth mindset when it comes to your relationship (We can figure it out!) but a very fixed mindset when it comes to your finances (we’ll never figure it out!)
  2. Time and experiences can change your mindset.
    I’ve found that the more you become experienced in an area, the easier it is to become fixed in the belief that you’ve learned everything and figured it out. This is when you start to say “That won’t work for me.” “I tried that, it never works.”
    Those are actually the two phrases that are red alarms when I’m talking to a business owner. I know that they’re coming at it from a fixed mindset and there’s not much I can help them with unless they shift their mindset from “I already know what I know” to “I can learn and keep trying”

But I’m guilty of this too! I started out my business with a growth mindset – I knew there was so much I didn’t know and I knew I could learn it.

Over time, I learned more, and my mindset became more fixed. I think I know what works, what doesn’t and what is worth my time. My challenge, all the time, is to try new things with the mindset of: I can learn how this works for me. I do this through trying new tools (TikTok!), trying new strategies (webinars) and even trying new business models.

So when we’re talking about how you’re in your way – the question is: Do you believe you can grow or change? What areas feel really “fixed” or stuck? What areas do you feel really open to learning?

To learn more: 

Expectation

Another aspect of your belief that affects your business is your expectations and flexibility – what do you expect will happen? In what timeline? Or else…what?

I am so surprised when people tell me that they’re quitting their business because it didn’t reach a really outsize goal in a short time frame.

It makes me wonder: did you really want a business (which is doing the work every day forever) or did you just want that goal (probably money)?

I’m going to say this really clearly – having a business is doing the work day in and day out, whether you reach one particular goal or not. It is learning, changing, experimenting and being flexible. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t want a business.

And hey – that’s ok!

If you want a for-sure amount of money for your amount of work, you’re going to need to get a job where you are paid a specific amount of money for a specific amount of work.

Owning a business is not like a job. AT ALL.

So what are your expectations of your business?

As you know if you’ve been listening for a while, I don’t believe in lowering your expectations – I believe in setting big goals and working hard towards them. But I believe in expecting your business to behave as a business – to need tending and changing and flexibility. And to adjust your expectations as you learn more about what your business is.

Having the wrong expectations of your business can hold you back from appreciating it for what it is and for putting in the work you’ll need to, to reach your goals.

Belief in yourself

So this last point is a little bit about growth mindset, but it’s also about confidence. The most important belief you hold in your business is your belief about yourself. The number one indicator of what your business will do is what you think is possible.

Yes, YOUR belief in what you think YOU can do is going to shape how far or fast your business goes.

Why? Because if you don’t think you can do it, you won’t. If you don’t think it’s possible, you won’t do the work.

Wait, what about realistic expectations? Yeah, you need to expect your business to act like a business. But how big you dream and what you think YOU are capable of is going to determine how hard you work at making it happen. So EXPECT that your business is going to have ups and downs, that it will take work and growth and challenge you. But BELIEVE that you can do it. You are capable. You can learn.

Here’s what I can tell you for sure: if you believe that you aren’t capable enough to make this happen, it won’t. NOT because you aren’t capable, but because you won’t do the work. You won’t put in the time to learn and grow.

This isn’t some “believe it and it will happen” stuff… this is the hard fact that if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen.

And listen, maintaining that belief is NOT easy. I shifted how my business works about six months ago and I believe it is absolutely the right thing and that it is absolutely going to allow my business to grow more than it would have… but it’s taking some time to see that change, as dollar bills. It is taking me learning and growing in a bunch of ways. If that belief wavers, I’m going to stop moving forward. I’m going to stop midway and try something else, which will kill my momentum and confuse customers and cost me money and sales.

But if I maintain the belief and keep moving forward (while being flexible), I’m going to see results because I believe in what I have to share is valuable, it transforms businesses and I want it to help as many people as possible.

Maintaining belief in yourself and your business direction is not going to be easy. But giving up or stopping halfway isn’t a better option. It may be easier to stop or to try something else, but when you do that too often, you start to feel scattered and confused and unfocused.

And hey, that’s where a LOT of makers are today. They have tried so many different directions, so many different marketing strategies, that they’re all turned around and confused. If that’s you, I’ve got a workshop that will help focus you. You can find it at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.

I hope this series about what’s standing in your own way and how to move past these blocks have helped you reach your goals! Next week I’m sharing my quarterly round-up of favorite books and in 4 weeks we’ll have the 300th episode SPECTACULAR. It’s going to involve YOU and YOUR questions, so be sure you’ve joined our private FB group to get all the details and be involved, at FB.com/groups/taraswiger

Have a confident, enthusiastic week.

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.

Contemporary-a-thon and #blacklitchallenge TBR // Weekly Vlog

This week I’m joining the #contemporaryathon & the #blacklitchallenge!

Here’s the announcement and challenges for #blacklitchallenge: https://youtu.be/jqI5BRPBsqE

Announcement for Contemporaryathon: https://youtu.be/LC9V1vshvYo
My beloved BookTuber, BooksandLala: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmT3…

What are you reading this week?

⭐️⭐️⭐️

GET MORE:
Instagram: http://instagram.com/taraswiger
Facebook Group: http://facebook.com/groups/taraswiger
Facebook: http://facebook.com/taraswigerpage

Free Defeat Overwhelm Training: https://taraswiger.com/overwhelm

295: Get out of your own way

If you’re struggling to grow in your creative business, you might be the thing holding yourself back. Learn how to get out of your own way at TaraSwiger.com/podcast295

Play

Are you getting in the way of your handmade business moving forward? Yeah, it’s time to get out of your own way.

Lately we’ve been doing a series on how to make your 2020 goals come true. In episodes 292 and 293, I gave you lots of applicable, step-by-step advice on how to increase sales, so be sure to head over to TaraSwiger.com/launch if you missed that.

But as I said in those episodes, only a small percentage of people will follow through with the action plan.

Why?

Well, for some listeners, what I shared just isn’t applicable. Maybe you don’t have a business.

Maybe you are just starting and you don’t have any products yet.

For some listeners, growth isn’t their primary goal in 2020. Maybe you have more demand than you can supply. Or perhaps your work day has gone wonky, and what you want to work on this year is working LESS or taking more time off or stopping work at a certain time.

We’re not always in a place of growth.

Or maybe you’re like I was in 2019, where your life has been upended and your main goal is to just HOLD ON and try to figure out a new way to move forward (or even stay in the same place) with totally new circumstances. Last year my own focus wasn’t the growth of my business, it was the growth of my family.

Wherever you are is perfect.

But what about those listeners who DO have products, who have a way to sell them, and who have the goal to increase their sales in 2020?

Why don’t they follow through?

We hit on some of the reasons last week (in episode 294) – you may feel unfocused, feel like you don’t have enough time, or feel overwhelmed and stuck in self-doubt.

In other words, you’re not moving forward because YOU are holding yourself back.

Last week I gave you some homework – to write down HOW you were holding yourself back and WHY you might have done that.

(If you skipped the homework you can hit pause now and write it down, or even record it as a voice memo to yourself!)

Why are you doing this? Well, without hearing your answers, I can make a guess, because this is what stops me: Fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear that I won’t be safe.
Fear that everyone will realize I have no idea what I’m doing and they (you) will think it’s all a scam and everyone will hate me (and I’ll be broke and alone).
Fear that I’ll get it wrong, that people will see me get it wrong and then will all leave and my business will fall apart (and I’ll be broke and alone).

That’s kind of intense, right? 

But that’s why this fear is so good at holding us back – we never look directly at it, so it just bubbles up underneath the surface and we feel a kind of uneasiness or nervousness or self-doubt. We don’t feel “quite right” so we don’t step forward.

What do you do about it? 

Good news: We’ve already done the first step! The first step is to bring it to conscious awareness so we can SEE the fear, so it stops running the show from the background.

Then, we need to acknowledge it for what it is. It isn’t that WE suck. It isn’t that we need to do more or learn more or get more confident.

Fear holding you back is a NATURAL part of growth and exploration. Your fear is your sweet little brain trying to keep you safe. That’s it’s whole job! It’s saying “Hey there, I don’t know about that, I need to keep you alive so BACK AWAY FROM THE UNKNOWN.”

If you’ve experienced trauma (whether it was one-time acute trauma or ongoing trauma like an unsafe childhood), your brain is a SPECIALIST in spotting danger (maybe where there isn’t any!) and keeping you safe. This may be why you experience something that SEEMS simple  (like talking to strangers in your craft booth, or posting a personal post on Instagram) as terrifying and flight-fight-freeze inducing.

Understanding and accepting this about yourself and your sweet little (confused) brain is vital to you moving forward. It shifts your focus from “pushing forward” to “gently finding a way forward.” Because when you push? Your fear pushes back. When you gently find a way to feel safe while doing the thing?” Your fear settles down.

Your fear just wants to be noticed and heard.

So we’ve identified it, we’ve recognized that it’s trying to keep us safe, but how do we hear it without letting it run the show?

Let it have it’s say – let your fear tell you what’s the worst that can happen.

Tim Ferris calls this “fear-setting”, it’s like the opposite of goal-setting, but is important if you’re going to move forward with a goal. Marie Forleo has a version of this exercise in her book Everything is Figureoutable. In other words, this works. So try it.

Pull out a piece of paper and answer:
What am I afraid of actually happening?
What is the absolute worst case scenario if that fear comes true?
And then what else horrible will happen?

And now that you’ve listened to your Fear, you’ve let it really unspool its dark fantasy,  it’s time to apply some reality to your fear.

If that happened, the absolute worst case scenario… what would you do?

How could you come back from it?
What skills, abilities and experiences do you have that you could use?

When I’ve done this with Starship Captains, we always take a deep breath and feel a little shaken and a little relieved. It is SCARY to think of all that can go wrong! But I bet you noticed that your worst case scenario is actually kinda… figureoutable? There’s very little you’re going to do in your business that’s going to shake the core of what you value. Your Etsy shop isn’t going to kill your loved ones. Your email newsletter isn’t going to push your friends away. Unless you’re becoming a skydiving instructor, your business is unlikely to cause you bodily harm.

So, how do you feel? Deep breath! Do you feel a little more able to move forward?

(If not, did you do this in your head, or in writing? When you just think it, your brain often distracts you with other stuff and you don’t really go all the way. Write it down.)

Now, listen. This is not a one-time thing. If it were, I would be fearless and unwavering since the first time I did this back in 2006!

Instead, this allows us to take the NEXT STEP. Which is all we need for now.

But it is very likely the fear is going to jump back up when we come to the next unknown thing.

Elizabeth Gilbert says (in her book Big Magic, which is great) that we may not ever be able to get Fear out of the car, on our journey. But we CAN stop Fear from driving the car or grabbing the steering wheel or pumping the breaks. We can ride with Fear next us. We can acknowledge the work it’s trying to do (keep us safe), appreciate that, and still choose to not let it run the show. (This is a lot like driving with a screaming toddler in the backseat.)

Sooo, bad news! You’re going to have to do this a lot. I need to acknowledge and listen to my Fear every time I set a new goal. Every time I start a new project. Sometimes I have to do it before a speaking gig, when my nerves get bad! I had to do it when I became a foster mom! Every time I level up or my business levels up, I have to do it again.

But here’s what I hope you take from this podcast episode – YOU are holding yourself back, because your brain is trying to keep you ALIVE. YOU are a smart, capable, adorable human who is capable of so much more than you think, if you find  a way to gently move past your stuck places. You don’t need to feel (or be) fearless to take the next step. You will build confidence through ACTION.

I am wishing you so much peace and courage this week.

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.