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276: Q+A: promotion, saying no, and balancing multiple businesses 

“Email is still the most effective place to make a sale.” -Tara Swiger Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast276

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What is the BEST tool to promote your business? How do you say NO without losing customers? How do you balance multiple businesses?

Today I am answering YOUR questions in this Q+A episode!

Thank you to my Patrons

Most weeks I teach a lesson to help your creative business, but today I am answering YOUR questions! I gathered questions from my community of supporters on Patreon, and my Instagram comment section. I am going to answer your questions about the BEST tool to use right now to promote your business, how to balance multiple businesses and how to say NO.

And if you want to learn how to avoid the three mistakes I see most creatives making, come to my workshop THIS week: TaraSwiger.com/foundations.

Before we get into answering these questions, I want to thank Sarah Schira of Imagined Landscapes for her support of the show! Sarah makes best Gnome puns around! If you need more gnomes in your knitting, check her out!

Thank you to Kim Werker, longtime friend, colleague and fellow Enthusiast. She’s starting a free community, that you should definitely take a look at.

The Questions:

A patron asks:

I would be interested in hearing ideas about how to balance multiple small businesses.  I have a vintage clothing business in a brick and mortar antique store, an etsy shop selling vintage sewing patterns (both of these are very established, but small volume), and a much newer fine art business making art toys.  I also freelance as a filmmaker and event photographer (my main source of income). I feel like if I picked only one of these, doubled down and really ran with it, I would get further, but I like the variety and I like having multiple sources of income.  So all of them kind of poke along slowly. Thoughts?

This is a lot of businesses! I think your intuition is right – the way to build fast would be to focus on one… but if that leads to a life you don’t want, why do it?

Why do you need them to get any further? Growth is not the highest good – your own wellbeing, enjoyment and the business doing what it needs to do is the goal.

So DO they need to grow faster? What gives you the most joy?

What do you need your businesses to do financially? What would that look like? How could they work together to do what they need to do?

Then divide up your time accordingly.

Kristina asks: 

How to say no to a potential or current client without being mean or burning bridges. Do I always need to give a reason or excuse? 

I have a whole series of articles and podcast episodes, on how to say NO, with scripts!

The first thing is that you need to reframe this! Saying no, especially when you simply can’t take on a job at all, is not mean, it’s a part of business. In fact, someone reaching out to see if you can take a job is probably expecting that you may say no. That doesn’t mean they won’t come to you with their next project. They may even appreciate that you are so in-demand, and book ahead next time.

Now it’s slightly different if you’re not just turning down a job, but you are saying no to a current client on a current job. Like no, I can’t ALSO do X, the scope of this project is Y. But you have to remember: that’s why they’re asking. You have the choice to say no.

In most cases I would NOT give a detailed reason or excuse, the other person doesn’t want to hear it! Also, the more you say, the more they have to argue with. They can delegitimize your reasons.

For example, I have had conferences ask me to do more than we had contracted for, “oh, could also be available during this time? Could you also sit on this panel?” Quite often I say yes, because I like getting chances to talk to more people. But if it doesn’t sound fun or it will exhaust me, I say “Oh, our agreement was X, so that’s all I’m going to be able to do.”

It’s hard, but don’t give any more explanation.

You can have a standard reply, like “Thank you so much for reaching out, I would love to work with you. However, I’m booked up with projects and my timeline is X weeks out, so unless that works for you, I’m going to have to say no.” And if they’re asking for more once you’ve started working together, quote a policy. “My policy is to not….” or even, “Our initial agreement is…”

Before I answer the last question, which is quite a doozy, I want to thank Brenda, who makes gorgeous knitting patterns. I’ve linked up to a blog post she wrote on her site about the experience getting her website made, because it’s really great!

Thank you to Erin, who designs beautiful shawls.

On Instagram someone asked:

What is the best tool to promote your creative business these days? When you are just starting and don’t have time to be on every platform and do email, blogging, in-person promotion, etc? 

My answer is the same as it was 5 years ago when I wrote my first book, Market Yourself, and I’ve seen newer data that shows it is still the right answer: Email is the most effective place to make a sale. So if you want to increase sales, and you want to REACH the people who want to hear from you, email is the answer. Email reaches those who have said they want to hear from you, and people take action from emails. It doesn’t take much time at all to set it all up, so the hardest part is getting people ON the list (who are you sending these emails TO?!) and then actually SENDING the emails.

The good news is – once you have decided what you’re going to regularly send, it doesn’t actually take that long to put it together each month or each week. If it is taking a really long time (because you’ve made your emails complex), then simplify it. Simplify it down to whatever you can consistently do. That can be as simple as hooking up Mailchimp to Etsy and having it populate your 5 most recent products.

So hook it up in an afternoon and decide what you’re going to send. Every email software generates a form that you can either link to or embed, so the “where do these people come from” question is simple – anywhere you already are. Put the form on your site. Link it in your etsy profile and your Etsy thank you messages. Link to it on Facebook and in your Instagram profile. Every time you send an email, do a post WHEREVER YOU ALREADY HAVE ANY CONNECTIONS about what will be in the email and share the link to sign up.

It could be that you have a personal facebook page, and you think your family and high school friends aren’t going to want your emails? Link it up anyhow, you may be surprised! They may be super into whatever you’re selling or they may have a sister or cousin who is. My husband’s uncle shares links to my work sometimes, and I’m surprised by how many people who he knows who sign up to hear from me.

So, you may be thinking, but Tara, it sounds like you’re saying we have to be everywhere to get people on our lists! And the truth is – you do need to be somewhere other than just in your shop and in your emails. You have to GO somewhere and meet new people. For you it may be having a booth at the local farmer’s market (one of my Starship Captains has absolutely CRUSHED her local markets and doubled her sales), or it may be a FB group with local moms, or it may be talking to your local yarn shop about carrying your work. But your work (and you) have to show up somewhere where people can encounter you. And when they do, invite them to sign up for your emails because that’s going to be the most effective way to make sales.

I hope that answers your questions! If you want to learn more about how emails fit in with everything else you have to do in your business and how to focus ONLY on what matters, join me in a LIVE workshop this week! Sign up at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.

Before I go I want to thank Marianne Weber of MWsDesigns , who makes notecards and greeting cards! And the artist Rowena Roberts, who does beautiful paper-cutting!

 

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.

275: What I Read: Summer 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast275

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First off: Thank you Patrons! 

I read a LOT this summer, today I'll share my very favorite memoirs, mental health books and a lot of brand-new thrillers.

For the past 6 years I've shared my monthly reading list on my blog, and since January 2018, I've shared that list on the podcast (Starting in episode 192). I've heard from a lot of you, that you love to talk books with me, so I'm making even more bookish videos and a book club, you can find all the details below.

Here's the other thing I hear from you- you're busy, you may not read 100+ books/year, so here on the podcast, I'm going to sort through all I read and share them here with you, my FAVORITE books of the season. I'll still be doing the monthly round-up videos here at the end of each month. If you want even more bookish videos, there's even more on Patreon.com/taraswiger

Favorite books of Summer

Let's talk about my favorite books that I read from June – August 2019. I'll share these by category, like my fave mystery/thriller, fave sci-fi, etc. Now, I don't usually read that many new books, so I was going to do a category on new books, published this year…but this summer I read 15 books that were published in 2019! In part because I was reading along with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, in part because I was reading a lot of my Book of the Month Club books.

My fave mystery/thriller books published this year (so far):

All of them are about more than you think they are, they are all commenting on a social issue.

Fave new graphic novel:

Unstoppable Wasp, by Jeremy Whitley

Fave memoirs:

Fave new Mental Health Book:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb

Fave new Sci-Fi:

Recursion, by Blake Crouch

Favorite mystery series (new to me)

Inspector Gamache series by Louis Penny

Fave (new to me) Fantasy series:

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
(reading vlog here: https://youtu.be/185ncEJQlgo )

Book I was completely surprised by:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John

So many of my faves came from Book of the Month Club.

Before I go I wanna thank, Ana of ragtymedesign.com for supporting the show. Anna makes beautiful one-of-a-kind art toys, that are just stunning. Thank you to Janna Ford, for supporting the show and listening!

Remember you can join them in getting extra videos and a Book Club, over on Patreon.com/TaraSwiger. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review on iTunes, a thumbs up on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe.

Thank you so much 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.

274: How to recover from summer

“It’s so easy to get stuck in the day to day of what you think you should do without it ever lining up with and moving you towards what you really want.” -Tara Swiger Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast274

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Hello! I am back! After a summer of pre-recorded episodes and rebroadcasts, I am back with you in nearly-real-time! Today we are going to talk about how to recover from your summer – whether you took time off, or you got tons of work done, or you did a bunch of craft shows or you went on vacation – how do you get back into it and move forward and reach your goals for the year?

Today I'm going to give you an update on my summer, we're going to talk about how to learn from the summer and move forward, and I'll share some changes I'm making in my business!

First, I have to thank YOU for sticking with me over the summer – for staying subscribed, for sharing the show with friends, for leaving a review on iTunes or comments on YouTube and for those of you who supported the podcast on Patreon – I'm going to be thanking my patrons AND linking them up over the next several episodes. If you want to support the show and get some bonuses every single month, head to Patreon.com/Taraswiger.

Thank you to long-time patron, Jacie of BandofWeirdos. Jacie makes the most awesome geek-inspired pins, patches and I proudly wear my Band of Weirdos pins, Cat Spock and “Slayers Gonna Slay” on my jean jacket.

A giant thank you to long-time supporter, friend, and Starship graduate, Lisa Check of Flying Goat Farm. Lisa is a farmer with angora goats and sheep, whose fiber she dyes and spins into beautiful yarn! If you want to get yarn that is well-loved from animal to needle, head to FlyingGoatFarm.com

I had a summer that NEEDS to be recovered from – on May 30th, two toddlers came to live us, ages 2.5 and 3.5. The sisters are sweet and so loving and they have just flourished. The young one went from quiet and shy to a little chatterbox in the last few months and they are both just so totally fun and silly. ADJUSTING to living with two toddlers has been its own challenge. I spent the first month napping every time they napped or left the house. We're blessed that they were already enrolled in a preschool, and to make the transition as easy as possible for them, we've kept them there, even though it means driving an hour round trip, twice a day.

It looks like they'll be with us until the end of September, they have a court date September 26th, and we'll hopefully know a bit more after that. If you want more updates or to see the very adorable back of their heads, be sure you're subscribed on YouTube, where I share a weekly vlog or your watching my Stories on Instagram, for daily updates.

So now that we're three months in, I'm at the spot where I feel pretty capable of thought, on most days, which is significantly better than how foggy I was all summer. So I've been thinking a lot about how to get back to work, how to move forward.

I know many of you are in the same place. Maybe your kids were home for the summer and so you didn't get as much work done. or maybe you traveled a lot for shows, or for fun. Maybe you don't have any particular reason, you're just ready to move on from the summer and get back to your business.

Plus we're about 4 months from the end of the year, so you may be feeling a bit freaked out about the goals you set and how you're going to reach them.

To start with, we're going to expand on the good. Yes, I am sure that there are a million things you didn't do and a million projects you're behind on. But if you try to operate from a feeling of “behind”, you're going to feel scrambly. (Spellcheck tells me that's not a word, but I've decided it is.) And you can't be productive when you're scrambly.

Let's start by answering the following questions:

  • What went well this summer? (list anything, even things that aren't work related!)
  • What in your work was easy?
  • What were excited about?
  • What new ideas did you have? (You might need to flip through your planner or journal for this)
  • What projects are you excited to work on in the next season?
  • What did you try this summer?
  • What worked well? What didn't?
  • Why do you think that is?

(THIS is the lessons you learned this summer! It is so easy to NOT learn them and make the same mistakes again and again!)

Next, let's zoom out:

What were the goals you had for 2019?
(If you've got Map Your Business, pull that out and look at it. It guides you through doing this every quarter but maybe you need the reminder to  open it again?)

Which of the goals have you already met?
(You may be surprised! Almost every quarter I hear from a Starship Captain who already reached their yearly sales goal and they DID NOT EVEN KNOW IT.)

Which of these goals do you want to let go of?
(Maybe you just don't care about them, or they aren't the direction you want to move in.)

Which of the goals really excite you?

This is your OFFICIAL PERMISSION to let go of all the goals that don't excite you. You may come back to them later, or never. But let them go for now.

Don’t skip this!

You may be listening right now and thinking, yeah, yeah, review my goal, I'll do that later. I need to get back to work NOW. But please, don't skip this. This is a very important step in being productive AND in staying on the right track.

It is SO easy to just get stuck in the day to day of what you think you should do, without it ever lining up with and moving you towards, what you really want.

It is also very easy to get burned out and disappointed because you're not hitting your goals and you don't feel like you're making progress.

Do you know what solves both of these problems?

Regularly looking at your goals and CHANGING them based on what you really want, what's actually WORKING in your business, and focusing in on how you're going to get them.

Then create a plan:

So the next step is to look at the answers to your questions and start to combine it into a plan: how can you work more on what has you excited? How can you reach the goal based on what you learned this summer? What other ideas are you having?

At this point you may be noticing that this doesn't look anything like following someone else's blueprint for your business. Your plans and ideas might look totally weird. And you know what?

THAT is how you build a business that stands out, that doesn't blend in. Learning lessons from YOUR business, from YOUR customers, then applying them to YOUR enthusiasms. It may lead you down a weird path, but you'll be moving close to what will make you feel fulfilled and to a business and product that YOUR people will like.

I did this process myself, and lemme tell you what I came up with!

But first, a giant thank you to long-time Patron, Marrietta of Inner Yarn Zen. She dyes beautiful yarn and when I popped over to InnerYarnZen.com, I noticed that she has yarn advent packages available, inspired by both Game of Thrones AND Outlander!

Now, when I did this process myself, here's what I came up with:

Even in the busiest time with toddlers, it was always fun for me to do a few things – chat live with my Starship Captains each week, read books, watch booktube videos and make videos about what I was reading, or my planner, or whatever struck me. I participated in several reading challenges and vlogged my way through them (vlog = daily or weekly video journal) and it was SO MUCH FUN.

Now, that's only tangentially related to what I do for work (which is guiding and inspiring women to create sustainable businesses and lives around their enthusiasm). But it was following MY enthusiasm and it was giving me energy (I could do more than just nap!), so I gave myself permission to focus on it this summer.

And it's always easy for me to host the weekly accountability check-in in the Starship, which is great, because I love what the Starship provides to creative women, and I want to open it to even more makers and artists this fall. I've got a list of new bonuses I'm creating and tools I'm making for Starship Captains, and I'll be announcing those soon. You can head to Taraswiger.com/StarshipBiz to be the first to find out about it.

So that's one area of my business and focus settled – I find it easy, it aligns with my goals and with my bigger mission. Check!

But what about this area that was so fun and easy, making more videos and talking about books? Is there a way to integrate that more into my life?

One of the things I tried this summer was participating in the reading challenges, and hosting a book club for my Starship Captains and essential oil customers. That went SO well and had such a great participation and feedback I knew I wanted to do it again. So looking for connections and putting it together with some other new videos I want to make, I realized the answer was to host a new book club for ANYONE who wants to join, and give those same people all the weird videos I want to make every month.

For $2/mo you can support the podcast, get at least one extra video each month, and join my book club – where you'll vote on the book and we'll read it together. If you want to support the show for $7, you can TELL me what to add to my own reading list each month, get a shout out on social media, and pick the specific topics I cover on the podcast. Head over to Patreon.com/TaraSwiger to join the book club and get extra videos.

Nothing about this podcast will change – you'll still get new episodes every Wednesday, FOR FREE, and the full transcript here at TaraSwiger.com/blog. And if you subscribe on YouTube, you get a video every Monday, usually a bit of behind the scenes of running my own business. If you support the show, you get extra videos, the book club, and more, but most importantly you make THIS free show more sustainable, so I can keep helping more women craft the business they want, so I can keep encouraging you through hard times, and so I can keep taking time to parent my foster kiddos.

Thank you so much for being here, wishing you 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.

273: Pressure to be Perfect (rebroadcast)

Do you ever feel the pressure to be “perfect” on social media? Learn what to do when that happens, so you can continue building a creative biz that you love at TaraSwiger.com/podcast273

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In this week's rebroadcast we're tackling the pressure to be perfect.

Because of Instagram and Pinterest, I feel like I have to have it all together – I need to take prettier pictures, I need to have the perfect house, I need to only be eating organic greens and homemade cupcakes with handmade banners on them!

Do you know that feeling? Are you feeling pressured by Instagram to pretend like your life is perfect? Today we’re going to talk about this pressure for perfection and at the end of the episode I’m going to share where I’ll be next.

I've been hearing a lot that there is this pressure, from Instagram and Pinterest (and the internet in general) to be perfect, to edit your life perfectly, to have a perfect house and perfect craft and perfect hair.

And when I heard I thought, yeah, that makes sense, I've felt that. There IS that pressure.

Then I was reading an article in New York magazine about Instagram influencers in the fashion industry – how fashion companies are now paying them to wear their goods – which is something going on in every industry and it makes perfect sense – people are paying attention to their phones more than to commercials, so move your commercials to where people pay attention. But what struck me is that the women who follow these fashion influencers, they feel pressure. Pressure to have the newest Gucci shoe, the newest Prada purse. And I reflected that I never feel that pressure. It may be that I live in East TN, but it's also that I don't follow a lot of fashion accounts and I don't demonstrate my own self-identity through high fashion. So it literally never occurs to me to feel any “pressure” to have anything Louis Vuitton.

And I'm betting the same is true for you. From my conversations with you, you're not very likely to feel pressured by these fashion influencers, and like me, you may be aghast and confused that anyone DOES feel that pressure. Like: why does it even matter? Who cares?

But you DO feel pressured by home bloggers or DIY queens or #planneraddicts to have a beautiful clean home or DIY everything or make your planner really pretty.

Why?

This is going to sound harsh, but bear with me, because I'm saying it with love: We feel pressured by these standards because we choose to.

This is a red pill moment – There is no pressure. There is no real pressure. you are creating the pressure by the things you're choosing to pay attention to AND then the comparison program that runs automatically, comparing what you see to your own life.

I'm not saying you don't FEEL legitimate pressure, I'm saying there is no *external* pressure. We are making the pressure inside our own feeds and in our own selves.

If you don't believe me, think of it like this – you are the only person who follows exactly who you follow. NO ONE ELSE follows who you follow. They may follow 4-6 of the same people, and then a bunch of food bloggers. Or internet business dudes who post about taking a private jet to the beach. Or teenagers making duck faces. Or fitness bloggers who post daily workouts. So they are getting a whole bunch of DIFFERENT messages about what Instagram (or a home or a life or a business) “should” be.

And if you still don't believe me – look at people who are successful who you don't follow – do they seem to be following the same rules as the people you've been comparing yourself to? Are they beating themselves up for not looking like Elsie or Emma of @abeautifulmess? Or Stephan West of @westknits? Or @negharfonooni? Or Kristabel of @Iamkristabel? Or Sarah Tasker of @meandorla? or @garyvee? or @galadarling? Or @yespleaseplanning?

And if you are comparing yourself to one of the ones I just mentioned, go look at the other ones – all big accounts, all successful businesses (as far as i know,) and all reallllly different – in content, lifestyle, point of view.

And I can hear you right now: But Tara, if I'm going to operate in this handmade world, or in this knit design world, or build the biz I want to build, this is the world I'm living in, I have to know what's out there, my customers will be comparing, I have to live up to what the other people are doing.

No.

99% of your customers are NOT following all the other accounts you follow. In fact, they are likely following more people they compare themselves to, like Christian moms with 5 kids who find time to write daily devotionals and have sit-down breakfast, or people who color beautiful coloring book pages, or women who compete in fitness competitions, or lesbians who take beautiful nature photography while hiking with their perfect partner. So no, they're not comparing you to the other people like you, they're comparing themselves to the other people like themselves.

And if you wholesale, then yes, your retailers do know what's happening in your industry, but they care far more that you deliver what you promise, on time and that you're easy to work with, than if your house looks perfect and you posted a beautiful shot of dinner.

Now, let's be honest – some pressure isn't coming from your own internal comparison software, some comparison is coming from people in your lives. Maybe your friends talk about their fat thighs, or your mom comments on your kid's clothes or your neighbor jokes that your lawn could use mowing. There is PLENTY of pressure to conform to outside expectations, in our every day life.

So let's not make more for ourselves, ok? Let's not use social media, which can be a place to connect and learn, as a stick to beat ourselves with, ok?

I know, there is an automatic internal computer program that kicks off this comparison trap – you can't even seem to stop it before it's swept you away. So let's look at how to keep it from even running.

Who you follow

If who you follow makes you feel bad about yourself, your life, your home, or your business, stop following them. STOP FOLLOWING THEM. Really, even if it's your best friend or your biggest competitor. You can keep the computer program from running if you don't feed it images

Think of magazines – we all know that reading magazines that only show one kind of beauty, one kind of Ideal Woman, warp our ideas of what's pretty. If all you ever see is skinny 14 year old blonde girls shown in magazines, then that starts to become the “norm” of what beautiful is. And your own internal sense of what's beautiful becomes warped and anyone who doesn't look like that is no longer beautiful.

This points to the STRENGTH of the internet – we can control these images. We can't control what magazines and commercials tell us about beauty or home life or business should look like, but we CAN control what the internet tells us is the “norm”. WE get to decide what's on our internets, by who we follow and what we pay attention to.

So fill up your feed with diversity – diversity of people, of ways of running a handmade business, of content, of ideas. If you're following 50 #planneraddict accounts and you feel bad your planner isn't prettier, STOP. Follow someone like me who writes a scribbled to-do list every day (and gets a lot of stuff done). If you think your house isn't nice enough because you can't afford to buy anything except Target, follow someone who has 10 dogs, follow a food blogger who never shows her house.

When it kicks in, stop it.

So part of this pressure we create in our heads? It's there because we keep feeding it. Not just with who we follow, but with what we KEEP THINKING about it. If you notice your Comparison Software start to run. STOP IT.

You get to choose your next thought. Do you go deeper down the path of flogging your imperfections? Do you fret and spiral?

Or do you choose another thought? It’s HARD to change your thoughts, so change your environment. Stand up. Get off internet, go journal, make a cup of tea. Do something to change something. But don't keep telling yourself: OMG, I have to have blah blah. I have to do blah blah. This isn't as good as so-and-so's. It's totally normal to have those thoughts but what do you do NEXT?

So this is your prescription:

  1. Stop following those you have the hardest time comparing yourself to.
  2. Follow a variety of people doing Instagram in a different way.
  3. Choose another thought!

I wanna hear how you handle this, so come to Instagram and tell me!

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.

272: Stretch Goals (rebroadcast)

Setting goals for your creative business is a tricky thing. Sometime huge goals are super motivating, and some times they’re totally paralyzing! Learn all about the key to achieving your big business goals at TaraSwiger.com/podcast272

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This week's rebroadcast is all about stretch goals, and reaching for them.

Did you set a stretch goal this year? How do you know what the right amount of stretch IS? How much is too much? What is ridiculous and what is a good kind of challenging?

Today I'm going to answer a question I got in the Starship, my online community, about Stretch goals. How much is too much? What if you're just being delusional? Is there a way to know what's realistic?

I struggled with this question for a while because, like so many questions about motivating yourself and pushing past your perceived limits, it really comes down to YOU. Are you going to stretch yourself? And is a stretch goal motivating to you? And is this goal in particular motivating to you?

First of all, even if your goal is really really unrealistic, and there's not a chance you're going to hit it, that doesn't make it a bad goal. Really! What matters, and I REALLY want you guys to get this:

What matters is what your goal does for YOU.

I've said this a few times over the years, and it bears repeating – your goal itself doesn't matter. Setting a goal is a tool to help you make a plan. What matters is that you HAVE a plan, and that the plan will move you closer to where you really want to be. How do you know where you really want to be? Set a goal that inspires you and delights you!

Yes, you can do some math to see if your goal is aligned with the pace you've been building your business at so far. For example, if you can see that over the last 2 years your biz has grown 20% per year, then your next income goal for 2018, could be 20% bigger…but what if you're tired of doing things the way you've been doing things? What if you wanna make a quantum leap forward and you're committed to doing the work, doing launches, trying new ways of selling? It's totally possible your business could grow 40% or 50% or 100%! How would you know if any of those is “too big”?

If what you want is a doable goal, you need to be really honest with yourself: Are you willing to do what it takes, learn what you need to learn and grow in the ways you need to grow, in order to reach that goal? Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to become the kind of person who could reach that goal?

If me asking you this got you all panicky, take a deep breath, it's going to be ok! You CAN do it. But you have to believe you can do it!

The second way to figure out if a goal is too big for you is to know yourself: In the past have you been inspired by really ridiculous goals? Or have you felt frozen by them?

Look back at something you accomplished: was your aim something huge and scary? Or did you set small doable goals and work towards them?

Some people do best with crazy big goals, others do best with small doable goals – it's entirely up to you and what works best for you. And although it may be more sexy to say you have a huge goal and that you get inspired by something massive – I promise that it's far far sexier to actually get where you wanna go and feel good on your way there.

At this point, hopefully you have some clarity – that there is no bad goal if it helps you make a plan and take action, that you have to decide you are willing to do the work, and you've identified if you do best with a big or small goal. The final thing to think about when it comes to your stretch goal is your own belief. Do you really believe it's possible? Whether your goal is big or little, if you don't think it's reachable, and it's reachable by YOU, none of it matters.

I have worked with so many women over the years who have set perfectly reasonable goals, totally in alignment with what they'd already done and what they were capable of and… they never got there. They started spinning their tires or they just stopped taking action or they distracted themselves with a million other things.

Why?

Because they didn't actually believe they could reach that goal, so they couldn't take the action to work towards it. You can't make yourself take action if you don't think it's leading anywhere, if you think it's a waste of time.

You absolutely have to believe in your goal and believe in yourself – so keep that in mind when you set a big goal…do you believe or are you willing to develop the belief that it's possible.

And by the way, it's really normal to doubt yourself 1000x on your way to your goal! Just this weekend I was totally overtaken by a huge wave of doubt about my own big goals and my upcoming world tour this year. But then I remembered: Every time I've stretched myself I felt like this! Back in the saddle and back to just doing what I know I need to do!

I’m wishing you belief in your goal, and yourself, and an enthusiastic day.

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.

271: Get over your fear of disapproval (rebroadcast)

Fear of rejection and disappointment are too real when it comes to running a creative biz! In this episode learn all about how to let go of the fear of disappointing people so you can get unfrozen and keep moving forward in your biz. Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast271

Play

Are you unsure of your next step, because you’re afraid of the reaction you’re going to get? Are you avoiding rejection, because you want to have the approval and acceptance of your customers and audience? Yeah, me too.

In this rebroadcast, covering how to get over your fear of disapproval. It's a great follow up to last week's podcast on how to stop seeking approval in the first place. You can find the original episode here.

Today we’re going to talk even MORE about Rejection – so much fun! Back in episode 171, I suggested you need to get a LOT more rejection in your biz, in order to have more success. And dudes, you really liked that episode! I’ve gotten sooo much feedback about how you needed to hear that, and how you’ve been re-listening, which I totally love!

Let’s dive a little deeper into rejection!

It’s one thing to know you need to get straight-up rejection from a specific gatekeeper – like to get into a show, or get a wholesale account with a shop.

But what about all those times that a fear of rejection from your PEOPLE is holding you back?

Maybe you’re afraid to…

  • Offer a new product
  • Raise your prices
  • Go in a new direction
  • Stop carrying a favorite product
  • Or just do anything at all that someone somewhere might not like?

When we’re afraid of those things, it’s very rarely the actual ACTION we’re afraid of, it’s people’s reactions.

And we’re not afraid of their happy or encouraging reactions, we’re totally paralyzed by…rejection. Rejection from our tribe.

And this totally makes sense. We are social beings that need to be in community in order to survive and thrive. We need to get love and acceptance in order to lead a happy life so it makes total sense to be afraid of losing that.

The problem is, we don’t need the love, approval, and acceptance of EVERYONE in order to survive. And the more we seek that acceptance and approval from others, the more restricted we become in our movements, in our risks.

What’s holding you (and me) back isn't a fear of rejection or failure – it’s a fear that we’ll lose the acceptance we seek.

So when you feel frozen, worrying about other people’s responses, you need to stop and ask: Whose approval (or rejection) am I really afraid of here? And is that helpful or appropriate?

I’m just gonna tell you – getting the approval and acceptance of everyone in your audience? Not possible. Trying to get the approval and acceptance of everyone who comes in contact with your work? Or even everyone who really might buy your work? Not possible.

Not only is it impossible to make everyone happy (which we all already know), it’s really damaging, to both you AND your business.

You: it makes you doubt yourself (and your self-trust is your best asset). It kills your confidence. It holds you back from taking steps you should take.

Your business: it holds your biz back from awesome things that others might not approve of! It makes your biz bland and boring and kills the sparkle that’s going to make HUGE fans out of some people.

Look, I get it.

I don’t want anyone ever to disapprove of me.
I don’t want to get unsubscribes from my email list or podcast.
I don’t want to get judge-y emails telling me I’m wrong or misguided.
I haaaate when people misunderstand me and misinterpret my intentions.

But friends, we’re not going to get anywhere near our dream lives and our dream businesses if we try to avoid that disapproval, if we try to avoid rejection, if we seek to get 100% approval from the whole internet at all times.

Every new step you take in your business is a risk. You’ve got to take those risks to succeed. And above all, you have to trust your own gut and good sense about your next direction. Instead of turning outward for your audience's approval, or your mentor’s approval or annnnnyone else’s approval, tune in to what you know the next right step is, to the action that will lead you where you wanna go.

And then go do it.

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.

270: Stop Seeking Approval (rebroadcast)

In your creative biz, you want to listen to your customers + audience to give them what they want. But, needing their approval has you frozen or afraid or feeling kinda needy. Learn how to find the balance at TaraSwiger.com/podcast270

Play

In today's rebroadcast I'm sharing why (and some tips on how) to stop seeking approval so that you can build a great business. You can find the original episode here.

Here’s a dichotomy: You want to listen to your customers and your audience, to give them what they want, to create an awesome business. But yet, needing their approval has you frozen or afraid or feeling kinda needy. How do you balance this?

In the last week of 2017, I did a live video (you can watch it at the show notes for podcast189) about the lessons I learned in 2017. It was very honest, very vulnerable and one of the lessons I shared REALLY resonated with a lot of viewers, so I wanted to explore it deeper with you. The lesson I learned in 2017: I am not here for your approval.

Whoa! How do you feel when I say that? Do you feel defensive? Upset? I’ve found that some people just nod along, “Yeah, duh Tara.” And others go: “WAIT A MINUTE! BUT I’M A CUSTOMER (or listener).”

Your reaction is super useful! Not for me (because this is all about me trying to unhook from your reactions to my work) – but for YOU. How you react to other people needing approval can help you explore how you feel about needing other people’s approval.

So before we go further, stop and think: Do I think I need my audience (or client’s) approval? Do I think I owe them something more than just the product?

Either answer is ok! Write down your answer and just set it aside for now – this may be a lesson you need to learn, or it may not.

One of the things that keeps coming up when I chat about this with y’all is: Yeah, ok, I know I need to not seek outside approval (for my own mental health!)…but: aren’t I supposed to care about making my customers delighted? Isn’t that what you teach, when you talk about Right People and listening to them?

Yes! Exactly! This is exactly what I’ve struggled with over the years. The dichotomy is this: I am here to serve you. And yet to do that sustainably (ie, not get burnt out + to create new, useful stuff that only I can create) I need to not be hooked into your approving (or not approving).

So let’s break this down:

I am here to serve you: When you think about your audience, it’s important that you’re focused on your RIGHT people – the people who truly want and need the thing you offer. So you are NOT here to serve your family members who “don’t get it”. You’re not here to serve the other people who do what you do. And you’re not even here to serve ALL the people who like what you do. For example, ever since I started doing this 8 years ago, I’ve been working with makers who have already STARTED their biz. So if you are a maker who doesn’t know what you wanna do yet – My products and my biz isn’t really built to support you. Can you get a lot out of my podcast? According to you: absolutely! But am I going to offer products for you? Not really!

Recently, I started talking more about mental health and wellness and self-care. If you’re a person who just wants the super-measurable profitability stuff….I’m probably not the person who is going to most serve you. Are you going to enjoy some of my stuff: absolutely! Are you going to be happy with everything I do? Probably not!

When I talk about listening to your audience, it helps to PRIORITIZE people’s feedback.

  1. Your Customers, re: the product they bought. I listen 100% to my customers about the product they purchased. If you’re in the Starship and you want me to create a directory of SS captains (a real request I just got) – I will do it.
  2. Your paying customers re: the next things you make FOR THEM. (Not everything you do!)
  3. The people who follow you and encourage you – this is where it gets tricky. If they aren’t paying for your product, you can ask them what you could change to make it appeal, but you can’t make biz decisions based on them because guess what? They might NEVER buy!

So! It’s possible to listen to your people and YET, not hook your self-worth or your decision making into seeking their approval. HOW?

You make decisions on two levels:

  • Macro: big picture, like the overall direction you’re going, your mission, the TYPE of biz you wanna have.
  • Micro: the daily decisions you make, the way you word your marketing, the topics I cover on the podcast.

So for the Macro: do you

For the Micro: listen in. Write your marketing copy using the words your customers use. Take pictures from the angles they respond to. Post more content on IG that they enjoy! Answer their actual questions on your sales page.

The other way of saying it is in the process of creating and doing something: START WITH YOU. Decide what you want, no matter outside opinion.

THAT is your filter, that is your standards.

When you listen to your audience, filter it through your own decisions for what you wanna do. For example, if you want me to change the macro of my business (for example), not work with doTERRA to share essential oils anymore. Well, that’s a macro decision, so I need to make it. But if you want me to hold a webinar about how to use oils for goal-setting, there you go! That’s a micro – it passes through my filter and is easy for me to do.

And finally, if you’ve made a decision and your audience doesn’t like it: Stop listening. Especially to negative feedback. Often, it doesn’t even need a response. Just delete the email, especially if it’s in any way un-constructive. If it is genuine and they’re trying to be helpful, you can simply say “thank you”. And if they seem to want more from you – like they want you to admit that they’re right and you should do what they say, I have literally replied “I’m not looking for your approval.” I very much wanted to explain my hierarchy of who I listen to…but what’s the point?

But I want to talk about this because I know a lot of you WORRY about it – far more of you worry about it than have actually experienced it. And I want you to know: I have worried about it FAR MORE than I’ve ever experienced it. To prepare for this, I listed out every negative “I wish you wouldn’t do that” email I’ve gotten this year (because you know every one is burned in my memory) and you know how many it was? 4. I added a whole new income stream, one in a biz model that has a negative reputation (because other companies in the industry are predatory)…and I speak to 4-5k people every week and I got 4 negative emails. That’s 1/1000. That’s .1%. Isn’t that crazy? So many of make decisions to avoid conflict with 0.1%

The fact of the matter is – you’re worried about the disapproval you’re never going to receive. It’s holding you back (it’s holding us all back). So this year, in 2018, I want you to shine that light. I want you to make those big decisions, I want you to go in the direction of your dreams. I want you to create a business that delights it’s customers but is not reliant on outside approval, because you trust YOURSELF.

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.

269: Be Yourself (rebroadcast)

Being yourself isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. Learn how to be yourself even when you’re a nervous wreck at TaraSwiger.com/podcast269

Play

In today’s rebroadcast I share the biggest lesson of my biggest gig to date – I taught a three day class at CreativeLive, about creating your best marketing plan. I completely forgot to mention how to GET that class, so here’s the link! Oh, and the lesson I learned: How to be myself.

In today's episode, I'll share how the heck I figured out how to Be Myself, and how it totally changed the way I think about things.

How to Be Yourself (even when you're a nervous wreck.)

  1. Get clear on what you love.
  2. Show up and be present.
  3. Decide connection matters.

How are you being yourself in your business (and life?) How are you hiding yourself?

Links mentioned in today's podcast

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my hiatus!

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.

268: Fear of Success (rebroadcast)

“In my experience of working with creatives, what looks like ‘fear of success’ is usually a fear of something else.” -Tara Swiger Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast268

Play

In today’s rebroadcast we are revisiting a topic that I still get asked about every single week: Fear of Success. So let’s dig deeper: What is it? Once you've identified what you're really afraid of (hint: it's probably not “success”), how do you overcome it? That's what we'll cover today.

In my experience working with creatives, what looks like “fear of success” is usually a fear of something else:

  • Fear that you need to have the kind of “success” other people want … which doesn't appeal to you at all.
  • Fear that you'll change into something you don't like
  • Fear of being seen, noticed, paid attention to
  • Fear of being overwhelmed
  • Fear of disappointing others (when you're so overwhelmed you can't fulfill expectations)
  • Fear you can't handle it
  • Fear of being “found out” for being not good enough (ie, Imposter syndrome)

What are you really afraid of?

We'll discuss these fears and how to create the kind of business success you want, even while feeling the fear.

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my hiatus!

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.

267: How to Launch Anything (rebroadcast)

Play

In this week's podcast we're revisiting a topic I get asked about a TON: launching!

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

We'll cover:

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

Links mentioned:

How to listen

  • 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.

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