Links in today's episode:
- Judah's birth announcement
- My business classes on CreativeLive
- Hashtag Authentic book
- Sara Tasker (Instagram expert)
- Megan Auman
After publishing an episode every single week for 6 years, the pandemic and life really threw me for a loop and it's been four months since a regular weekly podcast.
Well, I have good news – the podcast is back to it's normal weekly schedule!
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This week we're going to talk about the big changes in my life in my business, why I made the changes that I did, and what lessons you can learn from my process. Next week we'll talk more about navigating the transitions you may be experiencing in your life and business.
We have a baby!
First, the biggest, most life-altering change is that we are adopting our son, Judah! We have been his legal guardians since he was born, on July 6th, 2020 and the story of how he came into our lives (not foster care, not traditional adoption through an agency) is amazing. We're going to wait to share that story until the adoption is complete, which will be around January or February.
In the meantime, just know that I'm over here with a newborn and I'm loving it. You can see the birth announcement here.
The Final Starship Boarding
The second big change is what I want to talk about with you today. Before I even knew Judah existed – I opened the Starship for the very last time in mid-June.
As you may know if you've been listening for a while, I opened the Starship in 2011 and it has guided hundreds of makers, artists and designers through building profitable businesses through classes on marketing, pricing and following-through on your goals. Those classes were combined with a community of fellow business owners (Captains) who got together each week for a check-in and in a forum where Captains could ask questions and get feedback as they built their business.
The Starship has been my primary job for the last 9 years. It has generated multiple six figures in sales and some years has been 80-90% of my family's income. The Starship was the first community and had the first classes of its kind.
2 reasons I won't be opening it again
The first reason, which is something I've been thinking about for the last year or two is that there are now more classes available, really good classes, classes that dive deep into one particular thing, and I recommend many of these classes to makers.
Also, the online business and social media landscape has changed dramatically.
When I started teaching people how to build their craft businesses, the culture around business and selling was completely different. The women I worked with told me that I was the only one in their life saying “hey, if you want to do this, you CAN do this! It's worth your time and attention to make it profitable. It is ok to make money from this.”
Now, of course, the messages we receive as a culture have shifted dramatically “follow your dreams! Make money at home! It's not that you CAN sell what you make, you SHOULD sell what you make! Create another income stream! Do what you love! Not only CAN you grow your instagram, you SHOULD grow your Intstagram! Why? So companies will pay you talk about their products – you can get paid just by living your life!”
Lemme be clear, I am super happy that the cultural beliefs about what we can be paid for, what counts as “work” is shifting. I think that a more holistic approach to our life and work is healthy. But the problem is that the message has been, especially during the pandemic, shifting to you SHOULD make money online. You SHOULD build a business. If you can sell something, you should!
And here's the truth – owning a business isn't for everyone. Just like being a doctor or a teacher or an engineer isn't for everyone. It's a great career, but I don't think we help anyone by glamorizing one career path over another.
So although my message never has been “everyone should do this!!”, I just feel less comfortable shouting online about a profitable business.
But here's the thing – at this point, it doesn't come down to knowledge (all of the knowledge you would need is out there – watch my CreativeLIVE classes or read my books) it comes down to follow-through.
In my experience, Follow through comes from 2 areas –
- knowing yourself and what you need and building the structure around you that supports YOU and
- Your mindset – getting real about what it takes and committing to it and continuing to have a growth mindset as you work.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I’d rather spend my time helping you follow-through on your goals and dreams.
So all of that, that is a big change in our culture and how we think about businesses that has really affected how I think about what I'm doing here with y'all and what I communicate in my own marketing.
*Here's a takeaway for your own business – you are never marketing in a vaccuum. Your marketing messages (talking about what you sell) is in context with everything else going on, both in our work at large and in the lives and subculture of the people you're talking to. So what might have worked 5 years ago, may not work today. What mattered to your customer in December may not matter to them in July.
Now, I want to be clear – I could absolutely keep selling and marketing the Starship and my business classes in the new environment. I feel I have shared my business classes in a very authentic, encouraging way that stayed in integrity with my values for my entire business life. If I still wanted to, I absolutely could.
That brings us to the real reason I won't be opening the Starship again or selling more business-based classes.
I feel done. I feel like it's complete.
I don't feel bad or negative or anything, it just feels like it's come to its end. I've thought about marketing and social media and profitability and learned and researched and then packaged into courses and podcast episodes that would clearly communicate it to you in a way that would help you transform your business – I've done it for a decade and I feel like that's enough.
There is absolutely so much more I could learn – i could learn about the different platforms, I could dive in to what's going on with Etsy or Ravelry, I could learn more about what's new and different in email marketing or Instagram or YouTube and create classes from that but…well, I don't want to.
I think this is the hardest thing to do as an entrepreneur – to see that paths you could take and just say “nah, I don't want to“. But this is also the most important thing – to really be clear about what you want to do and what work you can do consistently, sustainably, and build a business around that.
I don't think that focusing on how to use a specific tool is really where most of my community needs to spend their energy. Yes, I could sell you a class on it – but is that what's best for YOU? Will your business be revolutionized by optimizing Instagram?
Eh, I don't really think so.
So doing that wouldn't be in integrity for me.
What WOULD be in alignment with what I find fun and what I think will actually help most of you listening is to talk here on the podcast about follow-through and emotional well-being and accepting yourself enough to build a life that actually suits you. We’ll dive into what I mean by emotional well-being in upcoming episodes. It’s what is holding a lot of us back from following through on our dreams and goals.
Now, here's the thing – you might still really want to learn about Instagram or email marketing or whatever, and the good news is – you can! There are so many places that are teaching about it with integrity and smarts – for example, I heartily recommend you check out the book and podcast, Hashtag Authentic, and the Instagram classes taught by Sarah Tasker. Check out the business classes by my friend Megan Aumen, she teaches on Pinterest and marketing basics.
What does that mean for me and my business? What's next?
Well, I'll be honest with you – I don't know.
I was going to wait to record this episode until I DID know, but then I realized that it would be much more authentic, much more REAL, to share it now, while I still don't know. Then I can share the journey of figuring it out, of building the next phase of my business, with you here on the podcast.
That's one aspect that I am sure about – i love doing this podcast and it feels in integrity (hey, it's free! If it's not helping you, you don't have to listen!). So I'm going to keep doing this podcast every week, and I'm thinking of this next period of time (I'm not sure how long it'll last), as Season 2 of the show. Yep, Season 1 was 6 years long! In Season 1, I helped you build your creative business through marketing and pricing.
In season 2, I'll walk alongside you as I pivot my business and I’ll share that process. I’ll share how I’m making decisions and thinking things through. We'll still be talking about goal-setting, follow through, mindset, enthusiasm…and whatever else comes up as we navigate a very weird time that is full of transitions and change for all of us.
If that doesn't sound like what you need, unsubscribe!
If you know others who are going through transitions right now, whether it's related to business, or the pandemic or general life stuff, please share the podcast with them! I've always had listeners who don't have a business but season 2 will be even more accessible for those who are looking to build a life with enthusiasm, whether that involves a business or not. Share the podcast in whatever app you're using to listen, share it on social media or send them to TaraSwiger.com.
I hope today’s insight into why I chose to make a huge change in my business was helpful or interesting to you! If so, come tell me about it on Instagram, right here.