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294: What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back in your creative biz? Even though the answer is totally different for each of us, there are also a TON of similarities. Learn how to overcome what’s holding you back in your biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast294

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What’s holding you back?

What is keeping you from achieving a profitable, sustainable business that you feel confident in? What is keeping you from working towards your goals every week?

We’ve been working on reaching your sales goal, all month. To hear episodes about increasing and sustaining your sales, tune in to episodes 292 & 293. After those episodes, I debated over what to cover next and then I realized: what’s keeping you from your goal is different for everyone. You have your own roadblock, so let’s talk about and work through it!

One of the questions I ask everyone when they join my free FB group (are you a member yet?) is, “When it comes to your business being profitable AND doable, what do you think is standing in your way?”

So today that’s what we’re going to talk about: the things that are standing in your way. And next week, we’ll talk more about how to get out of your own way.

It’s my hope that hearing what’s holding others back will help you recognize what’s holding you back, what is standing in your way.

So what is holding MOST handmade business back?

The answers I get most often:

Focus – I just can’t seem to work on what matters, I keep getting distracted!
Time – I don’t have enough time or I’m not using my time effectively (focus!)
Self-doubt or confidence – I doubt myself and so don’t act. If I were more confident I would act
Fear – most people who write this answer don’t give any more details… so I have to guess – are you afraid of failure? Afraid of poverty? Afraid of embarrassment?

Many people answer: ME, I am holding myself back. This feels like the REAL answer to all of these other answers – YOU feel self-doubt or fear. YOU want more confidence. I think this answer is the most truthful answer.

As you read those different answers, which one resonates the most? Which sounds like your internal dialogue?

And here’s the more important question: what are you doing about it?

Most people tell me they are working on marketing – social media, email list, or something systematic.

But… that’s not what’s standing in your way. Not a single person has told me KNOWLEDGE or INFORMATION was standing in their way.

If you know that something else is standing in your way, why aren’t you working on that?

I think the reason it’s that it’s much easier to learn something than it is to change ourselves; it’s easier to listen to another episode than to inquire within.

So what is holding YOU back?

Hit pause, ask yourself this and write down your answer. Write as long as our takes for you to process it.

Now, how are you feeling?
You may be feeling AMAZING because you got some clarity and you’re ready to change.
But you may be feeling pretty bad, because OMG, WHY CAN’T I JUST GET OVER IT. 

I know!

But I have really really good news.

None of this is holding you back.

Bear with me. I know it FEELS like you need less fear, more confidence, more time, more focus to move forward but what if I told you you’re only going to feel less fear and more confidence and you’re going to find the time only AFTER you do the thing?

What if the way to move past what’s holding you back is to let go of it? To let go of the idea that you need to fix it or fix yourself?

What if you were perfectly suited to build your business, as you were?
What if you were ready to move forward on the next project or with the next client, exactly as you are?

I know, I know, you want ACTION ITEMS. You want to DO something.

So I’m going to give you episodes and resources for each of these issues, so you can get some actionable steps.

But. I can tell you, after working with hundreds of makers, designers and artists, you are going to move beyond what’s holding you back only after you believe you will.

Now, belief isn’t the ONLY thing that’s going to build your business.
But without it, you won’t actually take any of the actions that will make a difference.

So, if you’re ready to start believing you CAN move past the fear and time and focus, I’ve got some recommendations for episodes that address each of these in detail.

Focus:

The best way to get focused is to be CLEAR on what you need to focus on. This is why we set goals and then create plans. So you can wake up each day, knowing what you need to do to move forward. My best resource for this is Map Your Business, which you can find at TaraSwiger.com/map

If distraction is your problem, I’ve got a whole kit of resources for you at TaraSwiger.com/distraction – it’ll help you crush marketing distractions and internet distractions!

Time:

Over the years I have written and shared a lot about how to manage your time, get more done and create a productive workday. My absolute best strategies are all in the class Get More Done. I created it at the CreativeLive studio, so it is 5+ hours of professional-quality video lessons, with dozens of worksheets, all at the most affordable price (last time I checked it was $29). Get it here. 

Self-doubt or confidence:

I have a LOT of episodes about this, as well. I also created a BizConfidence free course that I’ll be sharing again later this year.

In the meantime, check out these episodes:

Fear:

What are you afraid of? Failure?

Ok, now the last thing: YOU.

If you were thinking, oh man, I am what is holding me back, I have a little homework for you.
Next week we’re going to go more into how you can stop holding yourself back, and in the meantime, I want you to journal a bit. It doesn’t have to be a special notebook or anything official, just get any scrap of paper and set a timer for 10 minutes and answer the question:
What am I doing to stand in my own way? Why? 

Now, no matter what you wrote on the paper, I want you to practice holding it in kindness and gentleness. Look at it (and you) the way I would, with a lot of love and acceptance, and I’d say “Hey, it’s ok. You’re doing the best you can. It is soooo good that you’re acknowledging whatever this is. Let’s work on it a bit next week.”

I’d love to hear what you think is holding YOU back! Come tell me in our free group – FB.com/groups/taraswiger

I’m wishing you a week full of forward momentum and enthusiasm.

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.

2 new kids our 5th foster care placement // Weekly Vlog

We got the call Friday at 11pm.
At 2am, 2 little girls were carried, sleeping, into my house.
The last 48 hours have a been a bit intense… and a lot of fun.
I’m officially at the stage of fostering where 2 new kids, especially, 2 girls, ages 3 & 5, is not completely out of my comfort zone.

Got questions about foster care?
Check out our whole journey: Foster parents & foster care here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcQcXZVLfFYIYGgvpm6LR_RF25YI7xEKL
And ask in the comments! I love to talk about it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

293: What’s next? Continuous sales after launch

If launches create spikes and windfalls of income in your business, creating continues sales is how to keep a steady income stream. Learn more about creating sales between launches at TaraSwiger.com/podcast293

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How do you keep sales going? When you don’t have anything new? When you’re not launching? What can you do to stay consistent?

Today we are diving in to making more consistent sales!

Recently Starship Captain Brenda asked: “I just launched a pattern last week and had a good amount of sales, but now what?”

I’m going to share with you what I told her.

This is the second episode in a series about reaching your 2020 goal of increased sales. You can listen to the first, which was about launching and find the Massive Launch Resource Kit at taraswiger.com/launch

Ok, let’s get into it: what do you do to keep sales going?

The answer is simple: Send another email.

Yes, if you send 3-5 emails during your launch and now it’s over, get right back into it! Send an email! Post on Instagram! Use the momentum to establish a consistency you might not have had before.

I know you're worried your people won’t want to hear from you too much – YOU ARE WRONG.

They want to hear from you even when you’re not launching. If they stuck with you through the launch, they are VERY interested. In fact, they are closer to buying now than they ever were before.

(If not, they would have unsubscribed or stop opening… in which case they won’t see your messages anyhow!)

Always always remember: you are talking to people who WANT to hear from you. 

So what should you send?

Well, if you’ve just held a launch that made more sales than usual, then your products are landing in the hands of your customers – which is what you should feature!

If you’re a knitwear designer or yarn maker, you can see your customer projects on Ravelry. If not (or if no one is sharing them yet), you can ASK them to share, better yet, INCENTIVIZE them to.

Yep, offer them something for sharing. Maybe it’s free shipping code for the next 5 people who post a photo with your hashtag or you host a giveaway and everyone who posts a photo and tags it gets entered to win. Now, it’s not ethical to give anything in exchange for a REVIEW. I’m not saying to incentivize reviews, rather incentivize word-of-mouth – people sharing their product on their own social media, while tagging you and using your hashtag.

Then comment on every single one of those posts and ask the share-er if they give you permission to share it on your account!

Then you’ll have customer images and stories to post!

Be sure you also collecting customer feedback when it’s sent directly to you – via DM or email. Have a template that you send in response to nice emails. Mine says something like “Thank you so much, this made my day! Would you mind if I shared this on my social media or website? I will tag you or link to you when I quote you!” (Now, the testimonials for MY business might be private (eg, if someone shares their sales numbers, they may not want to do that publicly), so I also offer to post it anonymously, but most of you sell something people are happy to talk about publicly.

Almost every time I’ve shared this strategy with a Starship Captain, the maker or designer has been SO nervous to start asking their customers if they can quote them. They are certain their customers will not agree or be upset, but you know what? In every single case their customers have been THRILLED and really flattered. People LOVE to talk about what they love!

This has held true for product makers and service providers – tech editors, yarn shops, jewelry designers, glass artists, knitwear designers, home decor brands, life coaches, knitwear designers – your customers WANT to see you succeed and share their great experience with you!

So that is going to provide a new category of content. Every time you share a customer photo or quote, be sure you link to how to get the thing.

Another strategy that it’s easy to forget is to focus attention on your older, great products. If you followed the directions for a great launch, then you know that it takes some time and effort to really highlight what’s great and valuable about a product. Of course you should do this when you have a new product, but you should ALSO give this attention and love to your older products!

Answer the questions about both benefits and value that I posed in the Launch Plan, and then focus on communicating that for a week or two for your older stuff.

A few years ago I helped a knitwear designer increase her sales when she took a break from publishing new designs with this strategy. She was working on a book, so she couldn’t also be designing and selling individual patterns. She went through her back catalog, chose some customer projects to highlight, wrote up what customers loved about it and her inspiration and highlighted one older pattern in each email and scheduled them to go out once every two weeks for six months. She was surprised that very few of her email subscribers even knew that she had these older patterns (she kept getting comments like “I love the new design!”) and she was even more surprised that her overall sales increased, while she wasn’t actually working in her business at all.

That increase in sales happened for a few reasons: 

  • She was being more consistent, her readers started to look forward to her emails
  • Every time she sent an email about a “new” pattern, it reminded people to go on and buy the pattern they were considering last month.
  • The consistency and large back-catalog communicated trust and reliability, which built her brand’s perceived value (a.k.a. people are willing to spend more money when they trust you)

Nowadays I would also add in schedule Instagram posts highlighting the same patterns she was featuring in her emails.

Even though you may not be a designer, please think through how you can apply this to your own business! You could feature older products, or the craft shows that you’ve done, or the retail shops you’re in, or your bestsellers.

Note what worked – do more of it.

This may sound really obvious, but take a minute to think – do you really keep track of what’s working, really working (not just how you feel about it) and then purposefully re-use it?

You can use the same strategies.
The same photos.
The same captions.
The same sales emails.
The same schedule.

Will people notice? 

Not really. I used to use the same exact emails to launch the Starship every 3 months, with only a few updates…and they worked as well the 2nd year as they did the first year. Why? Because new people were seeing them every time. New people are coming to you, they don’t know what they used to do.

And if it’s the same people, they haven’t opened and read and looked at and MEMORIZED every single thing you’ve done. So try it!

You can also do more of what worked by looking at WHY it worked. Do pictures of your face do better? Take more! Are captions that are long or short do better? Do that!

You can see all of this on whatever platform you’re using – your email stats, your Instagram “insights” (you have to have a “Business” account to see them, and you should definitely upgrade in order to have access to that!).

Use those stats to shape what you’ll do next.

Keep Going

Above all, the way to keep sales going is to keep TRYING new things (and old things!), to not give up when you have a dry month. To not get discouraged when you need to step back or take a break or something goes wrong.

At the heart of this philosophy is to take responsibility – to realize YOU have a job to do to increase sales. Etsy isn’t going to do it, Instagram isn’t going to do it – YOU have to figure it out by learning and trying and iterating.

It is very easy to say, well, sales are down because of… the election, or Brexit, or Ravelry made a change. But there are businesses who thrive in every condition, in every change. Giving up and blaming outside circumstances is not the way to grow. Taking responsibility for what you can control (and letting go of what you can’t) is the way to reach your goal.

If you implement any of these strategies, let me know, I’m @TaraSwiger on IG. Be sure you come join our Facebook Group – facebook.com/groups/taraswiger so you can chat about it with other makers and artists committed to their business in 2020.

Thank you for listening and have an 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.

2020 reading plans #readingwomen // Weekly Vlog

I'm participating in the Read Harder Challenge and the Reading Women Challenge. I also want to read my new collection of every Jane Austen novel.
Wanna join me? When should we do it?

Also thinking about re-reading my childhood favorites, like Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie…and Jeanette Oke.
Want to join me? What would be on your list?

LINKS:
Read Harder Challenge video here: https://www.facebook.com/TaraSwigerPa…
Reading Women Challenge: https://www.readingwomenpodcast.com/reading-women-challenge-2020
Women's Prize for Fiction: https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/
Jane Austen biography: https://amzn.to/309gM4j
Booksandlala Reading Childhood favorites: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…
Love Comes Softly, by Jeannette Oke: https://amzn.to/36D6V9v
Brock and Bodie Theone – these are the books I remember reading as a teenager, I don't know if Adult Tara can endorse them: https://amzn.to/2s9bM38

Note: I mispronounced Jeannete Oke! (it's “oak”) and I said “Brodie” when it's BODIE.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

292: Your Launch Plan: 5 steps to growth

Launches have a TON of moving pieces! Creating a launch plan is the best way to keep track of all the moving pieces. Find out how to create your best launch plan yet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast292

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You’ve put in the work to develop and create something new, something totally awesome. It may be a new design, a new line, or just a new colorway. You want your people to know about this thing, but you don’t want to feel sales-y or weird…so how do you announce your thing to the world in a way you can feel good about?

In this episode I teach you EXACTLY how to create your next launch (and I've created a Kit with all the resources you need!)

Find your entire Launch Plan Resource Guide of the worksheet right here.

 

I’ve talked about launching in the past, in fact, back in episode 162, I created a checklist. To make it easy for you to find everything, I’ve gathered it all up in one place! Get the Launching Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch You’ll get the links to every episode about launches, along with the PDF schedule I created for episode 162 and you’ll get the Launch Plan I’ve created for you in today’s episode. 

Before we dive into what you’re going to do, your first step is to get the right mindset.
A launch is making the most of your product. It’s highlighting or featuring your product. It’s putting all your time and energy behind ONE item, so that you can really highlight the benefits of that one thing. 

“But, Tara, I want to increase my sales of everything. “

Yes, and focusing on the benefits of one of your items, and giving it all the attention it deserves WILL increase sales of other things. I know this for sure, the knitwear designers I’ve worked with will launch one new pattern, but see an uptick in sales of their other patterns. 

So you see that over time, as you launch new items and add more back catalog, every launch can bring in more sales. 

Before we get into the steps, I want to be clear – you can launch brand-new products, or you can “launch” older items that you’ve had in your shop forever. Theses steps can be used to highlight or feature anything – the point is putting as much love and attention and time in order to market it effectively. 

Every launch is going to go better if you have some channels where you’ve been consistently connecting with your ideal buyer. 

That might be Instagram, YouTube, a business Facebook page, your blog, your email list – if you don’t have at least SOME people gathered someplace where they will see your message, you can’t expect to make sales – you don’t have anyone to sell TO. 

Launching regularly is going to be a way to get content and consistency in those communities, so if you haven’t been showing up consistently, this Launch plan can help you start to show up consistently, but adjust your expectations accordingly – if you haven’t already been connnecting, you won’t make a sale as quickly. 

(If you have no idea where or how to connect with your ideal buyer (or who that even is), head over to the Resources for this episode, and I’ll like a free workshop that will teach you more about this concept.)

 

Here’s your launch plan

  1. Pick a product to launch and clarify the benefits
  2. Create an authentic offer with a deadline. 
  3. Define your goals and commit to doing what it takes to reach them. 
  4. Go to where you have people. 
  5. Keep notes and keep experimenting.

 

Let’s go through this step-by-step: 

Pick a product and clarify the benefits. 

What are you going to launch?
What does your buyer love about it?
What does your need to know before she can decide?
What makes it valuable?
List the physical attributes (features) – how does that translate into benefits (what it means for the customer)

(I have episodes that dive deeper into these questions, they’ll be linked up in the Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch

Think about communicating the answers both in visuals (pictures and videos) and in words – write it up like you will share it with your audience. 

Don’t skip this step – really write out the answer to these questions and take as much time as it needs to clearly communicate this. This will save you tons of time later (You won’t be sitting down to Instagram thinking “What the heck do I want to say?”)

Create an authentic offer with a deadline.

So here’s the thing – you might not have naturally-occuring deadlines, but your launch is going to go better if it has a start date and end date, and if buyers have a reason to buy NOW and not later. 

But this doesn’t mean you just make up a deadline or you lie about what the real deadline is. Don’t say it won’t be available later if it will be. That’s what I mean by authentic. 

What I mean by offer is – what are you selling right now? 

Your product + right now special = your offer. 

Most people jump right to a sale or discount, “Oh, I’ll give 10% off until Friday, that’s my offer.”

Sure, you can do that, but that’s not sustainable and if you discount regularly, people will expect it and wait for it. (Think about those big box craft store 40% off coupons – do you ever buy anything full price from Micheals when you know you could wait for the 40% off coupons?)

Spend a little more time to come up with something more interesting, something with a naturally end point. 

If you’re launching a brand-new product for the first time ever, your offer is simply: Get the newest thing first! You don’t need to add on anything to that offer. But when you’re launching something that has been sitting in your shop, try an offer!

 

Here’s a few suggestions: 

  • A knitalong or group event for your pattern (or book or kit) at X date, so your deadline is the start of that (or the shipping deadline, if you’ve got to ship yarn)
  • A brand-new product that you’re offering exclusively to your list (or followers) first – the deadline is when it’s no longer exclusive (and then you launch it to others for a week or two)
  • Make a limited number – when the spots (or products) are gone, they’re gone.
  • Customize it for free for the next X buyers. (Put their name on it, or sign it!)
  • Give it a bonus, for a limited time (a free mini-product for next 20 purchases, a Resource Guide (aka, PDF), a free 15min consultation with you, to make the most of their product, an entry into a giveaway you’re holding with another brand).
    How do you know what will work best? Test it! 

 

Can you skip this step and just focus on highlighting one of your normal products, nothing special, without a deadline? 

Absolutely! In fact, that’s just good marketing – in between launches with deadlines you can just focus on a product at a time for 2-4 weeks! But try some special offers, once a quarter or so, to experiment with what works! 

Before you’re done, write out the offer and deadline, as you’ll explain it to your customer. If this is new, it can feel awkward to communicate, so you’ll want to clear on your words before you start posting about it. (Avoid over-explaining yourself)

 

Define your goals + commit to them

Why are you doing this? What do you want? 

It is really easy to get excited about a launch and half-way through just feel tired of it all. 

Having a clear vision of why you’re doing this and what it’s bringing to your business can keep you going when you get sick of talking about the same thing. 

 

Take time to think about WHY you want to do this. 

What do you hope to learn?
How will this impact your business? Why does that matter? 

What is the deeper reason of why you want to grow your business?

How long will this launch period last?

Are you willing to go all in and commit? 

Committing to a goal means that you’re going to do the work to make it happen, and then you let it go. Go all in on the work, the planning, the implementation, the experimenting and trying things and showing up, and let go of the results. Y’all tell me you’re afraid of committing to goals because you’re afraid of failure, or letting yourself down. But committing to a goal doesn’t mean you can NOT FAIL, it means that you are willing to keep working when it doesn’t happen right away. You’re not going to give up. But you gotta let go of “what if it fails”. So what? You’ll still be loved, you’ll still have a business, you’ll still be worthy, but now you’ll ALSO have all this data of what works and what you need to do in order to see real results. 

Show up where your people are. 

Now it’s time for what you probably think of as launching – the actual marketing! 

The good news is that you already have a ton of the thinking done. Now it’s just time to plan it, schedule it and implement it. 

First: Identify your channels.
Where are your people? 

I’m going to talk about marketing channels here (reaching OUT to people), but before you do that, you’ll want to make sure that offer is on your website, explained clearly, highlighting the benefits and sharing social proof when you have it. (Do you have happy customers? Pictures of people using your product? Use that on your offer page. This may be a sales page, or this may link to where they buy (Ravelry, Etsy, etc), but you need it all in one place. 

 

When it comes to sharing the message, define where exactly you’ll post (don’t leave this for later, write it all out so you can schedule ahead of time, if possible. 

 

My preference for where you spend your energy:

  1. Your email list (unlike social media, you know your subscribers will have the message delivered)
  2. Facebook Group (going Live)
  3. Instagram + Instagram Stories
  4. Facebook Business Page (going Live)
  5. Anything else – post on YouTube, mention it on your podcast, share it with specific people or groups.

 

Got your list of where you’ll show up? Next is to decide WHEN and how often and then plan it. 

I’m going to assume you trust me and you really want to go all in, so instead of telling you how to think about it, I’m going to treat you like you’re one of my Starship Captains and I’m going to tell you exactly what to do, ok? 

(This is what we do in the monthly Group Coaching – this is directly from a recent coaching session)

In your launch week:


Send 3 emails: 

  1. Announcing the offer, with the list of benefits, mention the deadline, link directly to the offer page.
  2. Share a customer photo, testimonial (or a test-knitter’s project and feedback, if you’re a designer).
    If you don’t have a customer story or testimonial to share, talk about your inspiration, with an eye to the benefits for the buyer. Include a direct link to the product and explain the deadline clearly
  3. Warning! Deadline is today! Grab it here (keep this short, include a direct link to buy it. 

 

Post on Instagram daily (or sub in your FB biz page – better yet hook them up so an IG post goes right to your FB page)

  1. Post the announcement of the offer
  2. Talk about one of the benefits (close up of the product, if applicable)
  3. Share a customer story or testimonial or project
  4. What inspired you (with a focus on how that impacts the buyer)
  5. Benefits + discussion of value

 

Go Live at least twice: 

  1. Announcement! Excitements!
  2. Warning! Offer is ending! 

 

If you’re launch is more than a week (10-14 days is a good length for most of my customers), add in an email between 2 + 3, where you talk about your inspiration or the benefits, and keep posting on IG daily (or each weekday) – share your process, your studio, your experience. When people buy or start to receive their thing, share every one of their posts and if they’re not posting it (yet) thank them on Instagram Stories. 

 

So that’s your plan! 

You may not have all the channels I’ve listed here – don’t let that stop you! Take you what you do have and apply this to your channels. Like I said at the beginning, if you haven’t been consistent or more than 100+ people on any platform, you can still absolutely follow these steps, but expect it to increase your connection, not necessarily make sales. 

 

Next up. you’ll need to actually WRITE the content and take the photos for the platforms YOU have, and schedule it  when you can (using your email software, or an app like Buffer or Later for Facebook and Instagram) and add the live elements to your calendar. 

Your launch is going to be less stressful if you know what to post, when, and it’s all in one doc. 

 

Not sure what to write and include? This is the kind of thing we work on the Starship. For more on that, check out the Launch Resource Kit – I’ll share the free podcast episodes that are related, and I’ve linked up to the Masterclass where you can learn how I can work with you to help you develop your most effective launch. 

 

Show up, take notes and keep experimenting. 

The magic of this Launch Plan is that it gives you specific tasks to do that will then give you data about what works in your business, but the only way to get those benefits is to TRACK what is working. 

After you’ve got it all planned and written, use the spreadsheet included in the Launch Resource Guide to track the outcomes of the actions you’re taking. 

Then track the results and tell me about it! DM me on Instagram!

We’ll talk more next week about how to keep sales going after a launch – because it’s not sustainable for you to be doing launches non-stop. 

 

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.

Fave Books of 2019 // Weekly Vlog

My fave books of 2019 in no particular order:

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor: https://amzn.to/36JajQ2
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: https://amzn.to/2FzDYzk
Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: https://amzn.to/39YUE1l
The Inspector Gamache series by Louis Penny: https://amzn.to/37UuOJO
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: https://amzn.to/30aCZio
Stolen Things by R.H. Herron: https://amzn.to/37VxF5n (@Rachael Herron )
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire: https://amzn.to/2Ta3pzp
Illuminae by Aime Kaufman: https://amzn.to/2FEcJ6I
Station Eleven by Hilary St John Mandel: https://amzn.to/2FDsoU4

My stats:
Total books: 137 books
Total pages: 36, 666
Shortest: The Gruffulo
longest: Illuminae by Aime Kauffman

What genre:
Thriller/Mystery – 49
Non-fiction/memoir/crafting – 35
Sci-fi/Fantasy – 14
Parenting – 7

See all of the books here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019/1342105

What did you love in 2019?

291: How I’m planning 2020

Planning for your year, life, or creative business when things are up in the air and you aren’t sure how the year will play out can be tricky! Learn how I’m planning my year (full of unknowns) at TaraSwiger.com/podcast291

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As a culture we talk a lot about planning the year for about 2 seconds on December 31st and January 1st, but the fact is, when you’re building a business or following a dream, you are planning and implementing a plan all the time! Today I’m going to share how I planned my New Year, warts and all.

Welcome to the New Year! Over the years I have written (and recorded) a lot about New Year and seasonal planning, so this year I decided to share exactly what I’m doing, with a bit of my feelings and experience as I do it, so you know you’re not alone.

You can get access to ALL of my episodes about planning your New Year AND a new worksheet, at TaraSwiger.com/2020Goals. Download it now!

It started in early December…

Inside the Starship, we read the book Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo, as a part of our Q4 Book Club. This book is packed with encouragement and tough love for moving forward on your big dream, no matter how unreachable it feels.

I really committed to not just reading it, but also working through the exercises. It helped me get clear on what’s held me back from setting a bigger goal (like, really big) and work through that. The book is so uplifting and encouraging, I think this helped me shed a bit of self-doubt that has held me back in the last 2 years.

Self-doubt

Actually, let’s chat about self-doubt holding me back. I talked about this a bit in episode 252, if you’d like to hear more about how I worked through it then. The thing is – I had a major depressive episode in 2018 and it rattled me.

Even after I came out of it, I had this lingering fear that I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on anything, that I shouldn’t commit to anything because I wouldn’t be able to complete it. Soon after that, we became licensed to foster parent, and since I had never been a parent before, and I had no idea what to expect, I also became convinced that I would no longer be able to follow through on things, because kids.

The thing that’s so insidious about this self-doubt is that it presented as LOGIC. Like, it’s totally reasonable to expect that I’ll be able to do less as a parent, than before… but what level of “less”? I didn’t know, so I assumed the worst. I assumed that the kids would be some kind of hurricane that completely exhausted my ability to adult, let along to show up to students, captains and partners.

Now, I can see how a lot of that was just catastrophizing – I didn’t know what to expect, either about recurring depression or parenting, so I just assumed the worst. I needed to tap back into Confident Tara in order to dream big and create a plan and follow through, because you must believe it’s possible before you’ll actually do the work.

I’m sharing this because in the middle of it, it felt very real, very logical, and TRUE. 

If you are feeling tons of self-doubt or battered by life, give yourself some grace. It is ok. You don’t have to dream BIG right now. You don’t have to be on top of everything. Get inspired a confident again, by listening to my podcast and/or by reading Marie Forleo’s book (she also has a great YouTube show!)

Where I plan

Ok, before I go any further, I wanna talk about WHERE I actually do this planning – both where I write it and where I sit physically to do it. The thing is, you need to find what works for you, but I know we all love to hear about these kind of details.

I always plan my year (and do quarterly maps and monthly planning) in one notebook. That way I can keep a whole year in one place and go back to it, without having to search around.

This year I’m using a Happy Notes so that I can add pages and different kinds of paper to it. In the past I've used a big Moleskine.

I typically do the review at a coffee shop, next to a fireplace, with a fancy latte in a mug. Last year I had a brand-new toddler at this time of year, so I didn’t do any planning until late January, and then I did it during naptime under a blanket on my couch.

Review the last year

I start by reviewing the last year, because it is VERY inspiring to remember all of the good of the last year and to get grounded in where I am in my business right now.

I use my own book Map Your Business to do this! It starts with several pages of worksheets to get really clear where you are right now.

Now, it’s easy to use this as a chance to beat yourself up.
Maybe you didn’t hit your goals last year. Maybe you didn’t do ANYTHING last year. Maybe you are looking at where you are right now, thinking there is NO WAY you can get to your goal.

Hey, that’s ok. Deep breath.
You are exactly where you need to be.
You are capable of more than you’ve done before.
You are further ahead than you’ve ever been before!  You have learned so much this year! (even if it’s not what you wanted to learn!)

This is why Map Your Business really focuses on the lessons you’ve learned and what you want to take from last year into this year.

There’s also a section on releasing all your regrets. We all have them. It’s ok, you can let go of them and move forward.

Dreaming the next year

Ok, so once I've let go of my regrets and I’ve looked at what lessons I want to bring forward into the next year, it’s time to think about the upcoming year.

I like to start with FEELINGS. There are several worksheets in Map Your Business that you help narrow in on this – the things you value, the qualities you want in your life and in your business.

How do I want to feel this year? What could help me feel that way? 

For me, I want to feel strong, confident, loving.
Strong – capable, calm, resilient
Confident – capable, trust myself, move forward on scary stuff
Loving – with my family, with everyone in foster care, with myself

What could make me feel this way? (I’m still making my list!)

I use Map Your Business to dive into the specifics of what I want to create, in every area of my business. So at this point, I already have in mind my sales goal, but there’s a lot more to my life than just sales.

For example:
Jay and I need to trade his 20 year old car in for a newer one that we can put kids into.
We want to pay off debt.
I want to have more than enough money saved up to pay my taxes quarterly.

Map Your Business has you list out EVERYTHING you want to accomplish, then zoom in on 3-5.

I also love the idea i got from Leonie to list 100 things I want to do in the year. There are so many things I want to do that aren’t really GOALS, but things I do want to do and remember to do. So I make a big list that I keep adding to, of allllll I could possibly do.

After I have a goal, it’s time to make a plan.

Here’s where allllll the uncertainty in my life comes into play. I have NO idea what my home will be like in a year. Will we have 2 kids? Will they be 6 months old or 5 years old? A new placement or an adoptive placement? Daily therapy or no appointments?

There are so many variables that it’s easy to think there’s no way I can plan. But that’s NOT TRUE!

What I can do is make a plan for what needs to be done and chunk it down into what I need to do next. In Map Your Business we do this in three month chunks. But if you’re life has a lot of uncertainty, you can still make this “quarterly” plan… and accept that something might interrupt and it’ll take longer than expected.

Here’s what it looks like with my goal.

My goal is a sales goal, that is twice what I’ve sold before (keep in mind sales is NOT profit, we go into this in my free Masterclass).

My first step in breaking it down is to chunk it into halves or quarters of the year.

If you’re increasing your sales, it’s not likely to happen in a smooth progression. For example, if you’re goal is to make 36,000 in sales this year (I picked a number it’d be easy to do the math for!), you’re not going to make 3,000 every month, you’ll likely start where you are now (maybe a little lower because January tends to be slower than December in most industries), and then increase as the year goes on. You’ll also want to look at you are already doing – craft shows? A big Black Friday deal? New wholesale customers in the spring?

So maybe you’ll make 13,000 in the first half and 23,000 in the second half of the year.
You can then break that into quarters:
Q1: 5,000
Q2: 8,000
Q3: 10,000
Q4: 13,000

If you don’t break it up and take into account industry trends, marketing plans, and natural growth, you’re going to feel very frustrated and far from your goal. If you thought you needed to make $3,000/mo and you just make $1,5000 in January, you’re going to feel SO FAR away, when in reality you may be right on schedule to grow.

(Just to be clear my goal is quite a bit bigger than this, but I wanted to use numbers that are more in line with the goal a lot of you have set). 

After I split my goal up like this in quarters I then looked at months. I looked at what I have planned – travel, events, vacations. Map Your Business has a page where you can list out what’s happening in each month, so you can see when you’re likely to have time and energy for your business.

Once you have the goal for your quarter, you do the most important step: forget all the other quarters.

I just focus on the sales goal for this quarter.

And I ask myself: What can I do to reach this goal?

For my business and my audience (you!), this is a lot more about systems than one-time tasks – I put systems in place to share my work with more people as the year goes on. And because of foster parenting, I make sure the system doesn’t need ME to keep running. I want to spend my time and energy working with Starship Captains and writing/recording podcast episodes and videos.

So my to-do list for a sales goal is related to implementing, testing and tweaking systems. I have a specific list of things to implement and variables to test. I have joined a program that includes a community where I can get these questions answered.

Now, because there’s so many unknowns in my life – so many events and appointments that come with a new placement that I don’t even know about yet – I just do what’s in front of me. I make a plan that would probably fill 2-3 months as they are RIGHT NOW, but I know that I’ll need to be flexible. If it takes longer to get a placement, I’ll go faster. If I get a complicated case, it’ll probably go slower.

So that’s it for planning! The next step is to make sure the list of current projects stay front of mind – so I typically use my map to make a list and add it to my planner and I create projects with tasks and deadlines inside Asana. I talk about both of these things in a lot more detail in episode 287 + episode 288, so if you want to more about tracking daily and weekly tasks, go listen to those!

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.

2020 Five Planner Line Up // Weekly Vlog

290: Skip the Resolutions, Transform your Life

Even when you’ve tried resolutions in the past, it can be easy to get caught up in the New Years hype. How about transforming your life instead of making more resolutions this year? Learn more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast290

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Are you setting New Year’s Resolutions?
Have you in year’s past?
How’s that worked for you?
What if we stop with the resolutions and instead we actually transform our lives in 2020?

You find ALL of my resources for creating a great year at taraswiger.com/2020goals

So the problem with resolutions, I’m sure you already know, is that they don’t work.

Think about it- have you ever met someone who said “I made a resolution and reached it!” No, because the way we set resolutions, the words we use aren’t reachable.

In a 2018 survey, one-third (31%) of Americans who made New Year’s Resolutions last year say they didn't stick to any of their resolutions. A plurality (38%) say they stuck to “some” of their resolutions.

Even the language used in the survey was “stuck to” resolutions. How do you know if you stuck to something or not?

Let’s look at the most-popular resolution : “exercise more,” with 59%, “eat healthier” (54%), “save money” (51%),  “lose weight” (48%), “reduce stress”.

These are impossible to succeed at because they’re vague and confusing. Without a starting place (how much are you exercising now?) and a measurable goal (what is “more”), you can't make it happen because you don’t know what to do.

But the reason we set them each year? We WANT to make a change. The resolution starts to define that change.

At their best, a resolution provides an aim. A way to orient yourself. A destination.

So it’s not the resolutions that don’t work, it’s the way we do it. We may think about it on January 1 and write it down and then… nothing.

Instead, if you really want something to change or transform, you need a few more steps to the process:

  1. Define what you want.
  2. Commit yourself to it
  3. Create a do-able plan
  4. Follow through.

Define what you want

Make it measurable.

Even choosing a word or how you want to feel is better than your typical resolution –  they are specific.

I want to read more vs I want to feel curious about the world. I could feel that way by going to museums, reading, watching documentaries, meeting new people.

As you define what you want this year, check that it’s measurable. Be specific about how you want to feel. What else could make you feel that way?

Ex. Exercising more.
Maybe you want to feel strong.
What makes you feel strong?
For me, it’s lifting weights, it’s being emotionally steady mom, getting through hard times.
One of my fave mugs says “strong as a foster mother”…that’s a way to feel strong.

Commit yourself to it

Here’s the thing: you can’t do anything unless you decide you are going to.

That may sound obvious, but be honest – how many times have you set a goal, but then not really believed it was possible and kinda backpedaled away from it?

I know, you don’t want to fail.

But you won’t succeed until you go all in.

I know, maybe you haven’t done it before but you can do it this year.
You are farther along.
You know more.
You have tried and failed and survived more.

Go all in.

Create a do-able plan

So just the phrase “grow my business” is meaningless, but if you got specific in Step 1, maybe you decided you want to hit a specific sales goal… and you committed yourself to it, the next step is to get super-specific. What do you need to do? By when?

I’ve got a whole workbook for this, it’s called Map Your Business. In it I walk you through getting clear on your big vision, setting a specific goal and then building a plan for it AND following up on how it’s going.

You know what you need to do, so break it down into specific projects and tasks and then add them to your calendar. (Go back and listen to episode 287 and episode 288 if you need more on that!)

Follow Through

Ahhh, I know! This is the hardest part.

This involves having a time to work, having clear boundaries around it, then actually focusing on what you need to get done.

For a lot of us, this also requires some outside accountability. Someone else saying “hey, you were going to do that.”

Needing outside accountability is NOT a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you don’t have discipline or whatever. It just means that you operate best when someone else is relying on you.

If you have a hard time following through, you are NOT alone! When we talked about this in my Facebook group, over 90% of your fellow makers and artists said they struggle with this!

You can get help, and learn my methodology for helping you follow through, in the free Masterclass. Just head to taraswiger.com/2020goals and get the worksheets and resources for creating your New Year, and I’ll send you an invite to the Masterclass!

So how about you? What’s your plan for the New Year?
Come tell me in our free Facebook group, FB.com/groups/taraswiger

Have an enthusiastic day and New Year!

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.

2019 Planner Flip-Through // Weekly Vlog

I’ve been using a Happy Planner to plan my business and foster mom life for nearly a year! Here’s a look at every single week (including my slip-ups and skipped weeks)!

I started with a vertical Big Happy Planner, changed to the Dashboard layout then changed to the Classic Vertical Happy Planner and found my flow!

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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