Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


What to do with all those Pinterest followers?

What do I do with all these Pinterest Followers

Last week during the #omhg chat* Marisa asked a great question:

“What do I do with my nearly 1 million Pinterest followers?”

Yes! I jumped all over it and Marisa and I got to emailing with ideas and suggestions for what she could do with all that possible-traffic. I've come across this question (and some great answers) so often that I know you're probably wondering the same. So here's my 4 tips for doing something great with your Pinterest account:

I forgot to mention it in the video, but I recently read and enjoyed Pinfluence. If you want more ideas and some technical how-tos it's a great book! {Buy it from your local bookseller!}


Do you use Pinterest for your business? How's it working out for you?

I get quite a bit of traffic thanks to Pinterest, but I'm just starting to use the kind of pin-able images on my blog posts (like this, for example). How about you?




Got a question you need answered? Ask me!
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*Next week I'm co-hosting the chat! Come hang out, Thursday 1p-2p!

The Adventures

Every week is an Adventure..and this is round-up of the view, the links and the inspiration that made it special. You can see all the adventures here.

The View

Reason to love this town #324: this is the view. Everywhere. #nofilter
The lovely Johnson City
The finished tree
Spinning this month's Yarn Mail by Christmas tree-light.
Yarn Mail by Christmas-tree-light
This is happening. (Both get on back of couch behind me) #snorgling
Back-of-the-couch snorgling
Everything is better by Christmas tree light. #quiltsbychristmas
Sewing by Christmas tree light
Love the reactions to this hat. #amusementorpity
This hat gets the best reactions…because it's a Happy Hat!

The Finds

  • “Yarnover Truck is your local yarn store on wheels, implementing the food truck business model and applying it to a mobile yarn store.” How cool is that? Support these clever entrepreneurs right here.


  • It's official. We're a total trend. This morning NPR did a story about what we're doing here: young (ish) entrepreneurs with no outside funding, who are succeeding thanks to….the internet! Read or listen here.




  • Planning your New Year in your creative business? Tammie has a list of 10 things people + spaces that can help you with that!


 What were your adventures this week?

2 years ago: Sabbatical 
3 years ago: My real-life yarn shop
4 years ago: Seattle recap


The middle of the ride

When you first got on this ride (and started your business), you had enthusiasm. You had books. You read stuff and made a list (maybe even a map) and figured out where to go next.

The destination was clear: Selling My Thing.
So you figured out how to get there, and you did it! You sold a thing! Hoorah!

But then you realized the destination had shifted. It wasn't just enough to have a place to sell your thing, you also needed great pictures, compelling descriptions. No wait, that's not enough either, now you need to keep doing that, every week. And so now the destination isn't just to sell one of your things, the destination is to keep going with this, to keep it going even when you don't feel like it.
Oh! You need something outside of just your own whims to get things done…you need a whole system of getting your thing made and sold…it's….It's a business.

And so you read more books and tried more stuff.
You've figured out how to keep making things, photographing them, listing them.
You've met some of your clients. You've had conversations.

Now you have a business…but now you're destination-less. It's  not a place that you can point to on the map and be  all done with it.
It's ongoing.
It's iterative.
It's everyday.

You have to live with not having a destination.
You are realizing more and more each day that the plan is now to build something you love, something that's sustainable and that you like doing and find out all the ways you can keep it healthy and fresh and full of enthusiasm.
But when you turn to books, there just aren't any books for where you are. And they wouldn't help anyhow because all your questions are so specific to you and your business.

This is a place of journey-ing, of realizing that your business is this ongoing thing and you kind of won't ever have it “figured out”. This iskind of a lonely place. It's definitely a difficult place.

I know because I've been there. When I quit my dayjob to make yarn full-time, I came smack up against that on-my-own-ness, and it took me months to realize that I didn't need to power through, I needed to surround myself with others doing the same. And not just in an occasional Twitter conversation, but on a regular, business-specific basis.

And I know it's not just me, because last week I talked to all kinds of people (gym owners, jewelry-makers, vegan coaches) and real explorers (mountain climbers!), and everywhere it's the same. You feel like their questions are too specific, and that you're all alone.

What you need in this place isn't more books, it isn't more articles about 10 ways to make more sales, what you need is provisions for the journey. You need to embrace that you are no longer a person starting a business, you are a business explorer, one who will now live and learn and experiment in the wilds of business-land.

And every explorer knows, you can't do it alone.
You need a team who helps you explore, who shares ideas and who just keeps you from calling off the whole expedition when something goes wrong.
You also need to feel like you can ask your questions, your strangely specific questions about your incredibly unique business, and get the feedback from people who know it, and know you, and know what's worked for them.

That's why I built the Starship. Because all around me, from my classes and my twitter stream, were smart + clever businesses. But they felt discouraged and alone. They wanted regular encouragement. So I built a space for  them (and you) that  combines straight-up business advice in monthly classes with the accountability and encouragement of weekly live chats. It's for the middle of the journey, for when things feel like they're taking too much time, for when you're past needing the books, and you need daily movement. You can come aboard here.

But whether you come aboard or not, I want you to know that the middle is ok, it's normal, it's to be expected. It's not unusual to feel lonely or lost or destination-less. It's not unusual to be frustrated you can't find books about where you're at. Find encouragement in others who are going through the same thing. Seek out stories of the middle, and examples of people living in the middle. And maybe listen to this song.


How to decide if you *should* do something


You're allowed to build the business that you want, the kind of day that you want, and that you can interact with your products, people, and time in a way that works for you. You don't have to do what you've heard you should do in order to be succesfull in biz.

I talk and write and think about this (shoulds + permission) a lot, because you're thinking and talking and asking about it too. Nearly every conversation I have with a craftybiz explorer starts with them saying “Well, I know I really should… {blog, tweet, send a newsletter, blah}

I always answer with two questions: Why? How?

No, really: Why?

 Why do you think you need to do it? What is your goal with it? Which one of your specific goals will it help you reach?

Everything you want to do, everything you think you should do – ask it: WHY?
This one question can keep you focused, can keep you with the effective, important work. It can wipe away the shoulds, and direct you towards what you really want.


One of the giant-est shoulds in the crafty world is that you should be blogging. And after being part of the blog-reading and blog-writing world for nearly 10 years (we're counting that Diaryland I had in college, because I made my first “internet friends” with it), I'm still not entirely convinced*.

*I get into why you should/should not blog  in a free mini-course you can get here.

But for a lot of us, we slice the should with a Why and our answer is simple and clear: because we love to connect.

We love to have a place to share our words, or our photographs. We have a business we love and we want to share more than 140 characters about it. We create products we love and we just want to talk all about it. We've met our customers and they are lovely and we want to have a way to communicate with them.

But blogging [personal, cooking, gardening, crafting]  is totally different than blogging for your business. Yep, you want to share your you-ness, you want to speak in your voice. But your purpose is different, your readers (and your relationship with them) is different, and your end result is different (do you want comments? or do you want sales?).

It's time for that second question: How?

Once you know WHY you want to do something (blog), HOW does it help you reach your goals? HOW do you do it in a way that's effective, creative and still fun? How do you connect to your Right People, and not just other crafters?

In the upcoming class, we explore these questions. We've put together everything we know about blogging (Diane's a genius at building an audience) and marketing your sweet crafty business (I kinda wrote the book on that) and we came up with a systematic approach, a series of worksheets and questions that helps you answer HOW for yourself. It  makes sure you spend your time creating a blog that's effective. You can join the class here.

And whether you join the class or not, turn these questions to the shoulds that are rattling around your mental To Do:

 WHY do you think you should do it?
And if you decide you really do want to: HOW? How will you make it effective and you-filled?

The bravery in sticking with your just right people.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being a guest (again!) on my friend David Cohen's radio show, Be a Beacon.*

We talked about filtering out the not-quite-right-people (by, for example, calling your signature product The Starship) so that you can focus on the just-right-people. David said something like “Why's that so scary, to think about leaving people out and just focusing on the people who love it?“…and that's what I want to talk about today:

Focusing on your Right People IS scary. 

When you're starting out, and you have NO people, you think, “I want everyone! I want to appeal to everyone!” You can't imagine ever wanting anyone to walk away from your product.


But the simple fact is: There are people who won't like it. There are people who won't “get” it.

And that's ok.

That's perfect, in fact. Because you can't make something people gush over and long for, if you don't make something that is dislike-able by others.

The secret to not going completely crazy (well, one of them) when you put your very heart and soul into what you make, and then you put it in front of people, is to focus all your attention on the people who do (or will) love it. 

Write your product descriptions for them.
Take photos for them.
Show up in the shops and the craft shows where they're at.
Love them with every new product, with every blog post, and ignore the others.

When you meet those you don't want it or get it (or even if you're imagining them!), remember: they're not for you. And that's ok! You've got (or soon will have) people who do love it, who do want it.


*You can listen to our whole conversation here:

Listen to internet radio with David Cohen on Blog Talk Radio

Even more giveaways

One week after the book launch and I am still…floating. That's the only word for it. The launch party, the giveaways and the reviews have all been sparkling and delightful and perfect.
I promise that next week we'll get back to talking about YOUR small biz, but before we do, I have to fill you in on a few more book-related things (like chances to win it!).

Gather Here is the best.

Seriously. If you're in the Boston area, you do not want to miss this yarn + fabric shop. Friendly, well-stocked and filled with a wonderfully sweet community.

I was totally thrilled to make it home to the Launch Party.

(And they had signs all over! Even in the window! Nothing will make a girl feel fancier than a window sign!)



Reviews + Giveaways

Not sure if the book is right for you? Check out these reviews:

“Let me just tell you – this book is HEAVY. It’s full of advice, full of theories and ways to practice them. Full of material to follow – from friendly to professional, from personal to business. This book doesn’t have tons of drawings, tons of diagrams or lots of colours. It’s straight to the point.”

Read the whole thing at Rock + Purl + enter win a copy


“Market Yourself by Tara Swiger does not disappoint. Tara Swiger knows marketing and after you read this book (heck, after reading the first chapter!) you will believe that Tara Swiger knows you.”

Read the whole thing at Handmade Success + enter to win a copy



“Market Yourself is oriented toward people who make and sell handmade objects (including, ahem, knitting patterns) but could be just as easily applied to boutique service companies or pro-bloggers looking for the right audience; pretty much any business with a small-to-non-existant marketing budget will find invaluable tips here.”

Read the whole thing at Ropeknits


“What you need to do is straightforward (know who your “Right People” are, for example), but it can feel overwhelming. That's where this book went from being interesting to being gripping for me: Tara breaks all this down in a friendly, conversational way and provides worksheets and helpful tips (like “16 Questions To Help You Write A Douche-Free Bio” by Kelly Parkinson). “

Read the whole thing at MK Carroll


Vianza's just straight up giving away a copy (enter by tonight!)

And I think that's everything?

If you've reviewed the book (or you'd like to!) leave me a comment with a link! And if you've bought or won the book, leave a comment and let me know what you think, mkay?
Thank you for making this week utterly magical.

Find your FAB: features, advantages and benefits

The day I turned in my manuscript, I immediately went to the library and stocked up on books. Every kind of book. Books about writing, about faith, about veganism.
Imagine my delight when the very first book I read post-book, reiterated what I had written!
Write to sell

My book is a system for talking about your thing from two angles: what makes you and your thing unique, and what your people (the buyers) want from your thing.
Write to Sell starts right off with your customers and figuring out what they want. In fact, the first chapter starts like this:

Write to sell


If you've ever written anything for your business (a product description, an about page, an email) then you're familliar with the struggle to put what you know and think about your item out of your mind and focus on what your customers care and think about what you sell.

And as Write to Sell points out, your buyers are only thinking ONE thing about your product: What's In It For Me?

This is where makers get mixed up. They think that buyers are thinking “Oh, this is handmade! I love handmade! I want to buy it!“, so they write about how handmade it is, what they used, what their process is like.

In reality, buyers are thinking “Oh, this is handmade and buying handmade is better because….(it reinforces my self-image as someone who doesn't buy mass-made stuff, it's sustainably-made, it makes me feel like I'm supporting an artist, it's longer-lasting, etc).”

Your job is to fill in that blank for the buyer, to explain why buying this handmade thing is, in fact, better.

The author shares a helpful equation for filling in the blank.

Features ->Advantages -> Benefits

For example:
Feature: my Monthly Yarn Mail is spun-just-for-you and sent automatically, once-a-month
Advantage: You get the colors you want, delivered right to your door
Benefit: You don't have to “hunt” for the perfect yarn, it comes right to you.

Let's do another example, this time with something technical:
Feature: This bag is double stitched
Advantage: It's very strong
Benefit: You never have to worry about it busting, even if you have it stuffed full of your kids toys and food and books.

Walking through this equation in your product description or sales page makes it obvious to the buyer why they care and it how it benefits them.

What's the FAB of your product?

Do you want fries with that?

Using Product as a marketing tool.

This month, we're talking about the difference between self-promotion and marketing. Marketing is made up of 4 aspects: Place, Price, Product and Promotion. Last we talked about using Place to market your work and today we'll look at how 2 makers used Product to reach a new market.

Cthulhu necklace
Collaborative Cthulhu necklace


Amy makes art.
Shannon makes laser-cut jewelry.


They met in the Starship and got to know each other while chatting in the Holodeck (our Starship-only chat room). When Shannon visited San Fransisco and stayed with Amy (a side effect of the Starship: you've always got a couch to crash on), they got to see each other's work up close. And they realized that their target markets (or Right People) aren't that different.

Shannon makes jewelry that geeks (math and science geeks) like, and Amy makes art that geeks (horror and sci-fi geeks) like.

They collaborated.

They talked, they asked the Starship questions, they sketched different ideas.
When they decided on what to make, Amy created the art and Shannon took those files and turned them into the right sort of files for the laser cutting software. They figured out the costs (and paid them up front) and now they each sell the work in their shops.

spider necklace
Collaborative spider necklace

This collaboration is a really great example of reaching a new market by creating a new product. Amy now has a high-end jewelry to offer her card-buyers. Shannon now has geeky/gothy jewelry with a slightly different aesthetic to offer her current customers.


The trick of creating a new product is to look at your existing customers.

What do you offer them? What do they use it for? What else might they like?
(Bonus points: what could you give them to help them use your main product?)

You want to be careful not to create something for an entirely different kind of customer. For example, If you sell geek-themed wall hangings, you might not want to make cutesy, Disney-themed baby blankets. (But baby blankets that go with your wall hangings = perfect!).

The mistake I see a lot of crafters make is to branch out into products for other crafters. This makes sense if you already sell something to crafters (patterns, yarn, supplies), but not if you sell the finished work to non-crafters. Remember, the girl who buys your jewelry probably doesn't make jewelry…so what else would she like?

Whether you choose to collaborate to create a new product or just come up with something yourself – what kind of new product might introduce you to a new market?

Here are a few ideas from the makers I've worked with:

  • A knitter who sells scarves can make custom-ordered blankets
  • A fine artist can sell cards
  • A knitwear designer can teach classes
  • A lotion-maker can make soaps
  • A jeweler can create a line of men's jewelry
  • A purse-maker can create wallets, or big beach bags
  • A yarn shop can create their own kits with yarn + patterns
  • A yarn-maker can carry someone else's handmade kitting needles
  • A glass artist who makes beads can make holiday ornaments
  • An embroiderer who makes wall hangings can create embroidered jewelry

How about you? What new kind of product could you make?

A manifesto. A philosophy. A question.

Lo, these many weeks, I have been digging into what we're doing here.
What I believe. What  my mission is.

What I believe about you.


And here it is, all at once:

The gist: I don't want to create ANYTHING that makes you doubt yourself.
Instead of telling you WHAT to do in your craftybiz, let's dig into your particular smartness and look at how you can apply THAT.

But I'm still figuring it out: How can I best do that?

What do you think?

Experiment: stop explaining

spring road

In case you didn't notice, I talk about experimentation a lot.

My entire CraftyBiz philosophy can be summed as:

“Experiment to find what works for you and your biz and then do it.”

But yesterday Kate asked me about the natural extension of doing your own thing:

When what works for me is very much not what ‘everyone else' thinks should work for me.

I started to reply about ways to convince the person.
Ways to show them “yeah, that's right, I'm a rebel and I'm ROCKING it.

But then I remembered:

I've yet to convince anyone else that this was a good idea (whatever “this” might be: self-employment, working weird hours, gluten-free baking) if they weren't already willing to trust me.

An example.

M and I are great friends.

But sometimes she doesn't get me or my work. And when I tell her I'm now doing x (taking a sabbatical from selling, dyeing my hair blue, etc) and she starts listing all the reasons I should NOT DO IT OR ELSE I WILL DIIIIEEEE…I get defensive.

I try to explain.
I have thought this through, thoroughly!
I'm a responsible adult!
I have my reasons!
And soon I find myself thinking “You HAVE to understand“.

But, wait. Does she?


Will it change what I do (or what works for me) if she doesn't understand?

What do I need from her?

Support? Flexibility? Encouragement?

I decide what I need (internally!) and then ask her for it.

“Hey, M, I've decided to start work at 3pm from here on out. I need you to not call me from 3-10 because I'll be at work, like if I was working in an office, ok? Thanks!”

When it comes to you, you get to decide.

It's as simple as that.

The people in your life don't have to understand the why or the how.
Trying to convince them with your well-reasoned argument (I LOVE a well-reasoned argument) usually won't help things.

And I mean the things that really are YOURS to decide (examples: what time you start work or the way you do your work or if you wear pjs and a tiara all day).

But for all the you-stuff (which is most everything IN your business), it's yours to decide.

Without explanation.
Without apologies.
With piles of fun and experimentation and an open heart.


This single fact has changed so many conversations. And has released me from so much responsibility (I have to explain!) and so many arguments (Why won't you understand?!).

Try it. Experiment.

Let me know how it goes.

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