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creative business

301: 3 Mistakes to Avoid in your Creative Business

NOTE: I recorded this episode before the world changed pretty dramatically. We'll be talking about how to manage all this in my Facebook group and in upcoming episodes of the podcast. We're in this together. 


Why do you feel stuck? Why isn’t your business growing? It could be one of these mistakes that are common in creative businesses. I want to help you avoid these mistakes, so let’s dive right in. 

I’ve been working with product makers – yarn dyers, bag sewers, jewelry makers – and designers and shop owners for the last decade! I’ve been getting up close and personal with them, in my community, the Starship, since 2011. So I have seen a lot of what holds us back in our business, and what to do in order to move forward with confidence and profit. 

Today I wanna talk about three of the mistakes I see makers and designers make, in their thinking, that holds them back. If you want to avoid the three mistakes most creatives make in running their business, check out my free workshop on the 4 Foundation Method to a Thriving Business, where I explain the mistakes AND teach you how to avoid them (or fix them if you’ve already made them!).

This is not about shaming you. If you recognize yourself in the mistakes I’m about to share, that’s ok. Realizing you’re making a mistake is the first step to fixing it! So there’s no shame about making mistakes, there’s only learning and changing going forward. Ok? Ok! 

Here are the mistakes so many of us make in our thinking:

MISTAKE #1: Waiting for everything to be ready. 

Here’s the quick solution for this: Recognize that everything will NEVER be ready. 

Waiting for things to fall into line, for the timing to be right, for the technology to all work will leave you waiting for the rest of your life. 

One of the first questions I got last week was about how much of my journey I had planned or if I went with the flow. The truth is I had NO idea where my business journey would lead. I could have NEVER imagined the work I do now or the life I have now. There is no way to plan for what your customers are going to want from you in 2 years or 5 years. You can only show up today and listen to your customers and learn. You learn through trial and error over and over again. 

Nothing will every be ready because you’re not going to know any of those things you’ll learn BEFORE you get started. 

And if you’re waiting for your plan to be perfect, you’re going to be too attached to it. If you act when it’s PERFECT, then you’ll think it’s too perfect to change and adapt, and it will absolutely fail if you don't adapt. So you see a “perfect” plan that you wait for, is doomed to fail. 

So just get started today with what you do know and be prepared to fail and learn and try something else. 

MISTAKE #2: Waiting for YOU to be ready.

Guess what? You’re never going to be ready!
And you’ll certainly never FEEL ready!

And that’s ok, you are allowed to do what you want to do even before you feel ready! 

Because, just like your business, you are going to learn from DOING. You are going to be the kind of person who has the business youw ant by DOING what the business you want needs you to do. 

And if you really feel like you’re not good at DOING things, I have news for you! 

You do not need to be BETTER, you need a plan for how to follow-through. You need a plan that’s built from who you actually ARE, not who you wish you WERE. 

This is why I talk about the 4 Tendencies so much (go to episode 122  to learn more about the 4 tendencies) – if you know how you best work, you can make a plan that works FOR YOU. If you need accountability in order to get stuff done, by all means, get accountability! If you need to work from a list, work from a list! 

If you need to listen to the reasons why you need to something, well, that’s part of my teaching style – I will tell you exactly WHY we do things in our business. 

Don’t wait to be ready, decide you’re ready enough, embrace who you are and create a plan that works for you. 

MISTAKE #3: Being afraid of other people’s opinions. 

Oh man, I feel this one, deeply! It’s why I’ve done a few podcasts episodes about exactly this! (episodes 270 + 271 ). Most of us get stuck in this mistake from time to time, whether we’re just starting or we’ve been in business for a decade. 

When makers join my free Facebook group (fb.com/groups/taraswiger )I ask them what’s holding them back, and would you be relieved to know that over a quarter of respondents say something about fear and other people’s approval (or disapproval)? But they’re definitely not alone! 

Just like the other mistakes, this one can be avoided by changing your belief.
First, realize that other people aren’t thinking of you that much. (How often do YOU spend judging other people’s behavior and actions?). 

Very few people are thinking or judging you. 

The next question is: so what? DO you even know for sure that they will disapprove? If so, do you want them to run your life? 

Do you want to stay where you are? Frozen by their (perceived) opinions?
If not, that’s the belief switch: Realize that you are not AFRAID of their opinion, you actually don’t care to live your life by their opinion. 

So there you have it – 3 mistakes you may be making in the way you’re THINKING of your business. The next step is to look at the mistakes you’re making in RUNNING your business. To learn how to avoid (or fix) those mistakes, join my free workshop!

Remember: you can always listen and subscribe in your favorite podcast app! 
iTunes | Spotify

 

3 mistakes to avoid in your business

Your questions answered: email list growth, self-publishing and what I’d do differently

Get YOUR questions answered: self-publishing a book, growing your email list, and advice on building your crafty biz!

Today I'm answering questions from my Instagram followers (to get your questions answered, be sure you're following me!). In fact, I received so many questions, I split them into two podcasts!  You can find the first Q&A post here.   Today we'll cover:

  • Email List Growth
  • Self-Publishing
  • What I'd do differently

 

Resources:

Check out these awesome handmade businesses:

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.

The truth about depression and anxiety

Today we’re going to get into some heavy stuff that a LOT of you have talked to me about privately. Over the last 6 months or so, I have been amazed at how many people have come up and talked to me about their mental health or that of a family member - anxiety, depression, and Alzheimers. Stories of their abuse, miscarriage, stillbirths, of their children with Autism and learning disabilities and physical disabilities. And this makes sense statistically, as 1 in 5 adults deal with mental health issues at least once in their life. At every event at least 2 people (if not more) have shared their story with me. At CGOA in July I started to think: I know it's common among thriving business owners, but you - my dear friends - may not. You're not hearing these stories. And for good reason - it’s personal and these makers aren't called to share it all online. But I am. I'm here to help you know you're not alone in this. Whether it's feeling overwhelmed, being broke, or even having issues related to mental health, you are NOT alone in struggling with this. And as I share, I want you to remember - whatever you're struggling with, not only are you not alone, but you can also move forward WITH IT. Exactly as you are. People are doing it. You don't have to be different, better, or "more together" to make a business thrive. To listen in, visit TaraSwiger.com/podcast123/

Get more goodness and support the podcast: http://patreon.com/taraswiger

Today we’re going to get into some heavy stuff that a LOT of you have talked to me about privately: anxiety and depression.

Over the last 6 months or so, I have been amazed at how many people have come up and talked to me about their mental health or that of a family member – anxiety, depression, and Alzheimers. Stories of their abuse, miscarriage, stillbirths, of their children with Autism and learning disabilities and physical disabilities. And this makes sense statistically, as 1 in 5 adults deal with mental health issues at least once in their life.

At CGOA in July I started to think: I know it's common among thriving business owners, but you – my dear friends – may not. You're not hearing these stories. And for good reason – it’s personal and these makers aren't called to share it all online. But I am.

I'm here to help you know you're not alone in this.

You are NOT alone in struggling with this. And as I share, I want you to remember – whatever you're struggling with, not only are you not alone, but you can also move forward WITH IT. Exactly as you are. People are doing it. You don't have to be different, better, or “more together” to make a business thrive.

Now, before we go on, I wanna give you a warning – I’m going to talk about suicide, depression and anxiety. When I’ve been at my most anxious, reading about other people’s anxiety made my own symptoms worse, so please be kind to yourself.

If you’re feeling like you can’t listen to this, that’s OK! But please use this time to talk to someone – tell someone in your life, or talk to a professional. You can call a helpline with professionals of the National Institute of Mental Illness at 800-950-6264. To find affordable options for a mental health professional, visit NAMI.org. Don’t just read stuff on the internet, tell a human being. Feel free NOT to listen to this week's episode and get help if you are feeling panicked or depressed.

If you're still in, go ahead and click on the player above to listen to the episode or watch the video below.

I am happy to hear your own story (including what works for you!) and I'd love if you felt comfortable sharing it with the community. To share your storey,  call my inbox at (567) 393-8272 and leave a message telling me how you're working on your business with depression and anxiety – you can share your name or remain anonymous. If I have more than 3 calls, I'll put it together into a podcast episode as proof that it's not just me and you.

Or you can share any part of your own story on Instagram with the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm  

Resources + Links Mentioned

  • If you feel like you can’t handle your anxiety or you feel deeply uninterested in life for more than 2 weeks and you don’t think you have anyone in your life that will help you, call NAMI: 800-950-6264 or make a doctor’s appointment.
  • Wil Wheaton on ProjectURok
  • Kyla Roma's piece on her generalized anxiety disorder
  • This is the best explanation I found for how I feel. (The bit about scenario building and “intolerance of uncertainty” was eyeopening.)
  • If someone you love has committed (or attempted) suicide: Survivors of Loved Ones to Suicide
  • I posted about this in the Starship last week, before recording this podcast and the outpouring of support and “me toos” has given me the courage I need to share this with you. The Starship is full of people who are being brave and working on their business, despite anxiety, depression, and chronic disease. It opens tomorrow, so if you’d like to learn more, head to TaraSwiger.com/ starshipbiz
  • Talk about this with me, live, in tomorrow's free webinar. Details here. 

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.

Let's talk about this more, together.

Tomorrow I'm continuing this conversation with a free webinar. In it, I'll share the specifics of how I kept my business going while taking time off, and examples from my students and friends. To join us, sign up here.

 

The 4 foundations of your creative business (aka, where to spend your time)

What should you focus on to grow your business? What really matters? You can boil it all down to the four foundations of a crafty business. Work on these, and you'll see growth and expansion! If you want to work on these foundations in your business, join us in Lift Off (it closes tomorrow!). Over 6 months you will build each of the foundations, and get greater clarity about what to do in your business. Learn more at https://taraswiger.com/podcast112

What should you focus on to grow your business? What really matters?

You can boil it all down to the four foundations of a crafty business. Work on these, and you'll see growth and expansion!

If you want to work on these foundations in your business, join us in The Starship Program.

Over 3 months you will build each of the foundations, and get greater clarity about what to do in your business.

(In this episode I mention Lift Off, I program that I updated and improved based on feedback and success stories of students. It became the Starship Program.)

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.

 

 

How to use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest in your creative business

How to use Facebook Instagram and Pinterest in your Creative Biz

 

 

I get asked about this all the time, so it's time I answer your questions about how to use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest in your creative business. You'll learn about the pros and cons of each and how each one can help you reach your specific business goal.

In this episode:

  • The three things you need to before  you start using a tool.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the platforms I get asked about most,
  • The most effective ways to use these tools

Couldn't scribble notes fast enough? Get a transcript of this podcast episode when you sign up here

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!).

 

Do you know what you’re doing?

Know what you're doing in your marketing, on TaraSwiger.com

One of the comments I get most often from makers, when we chat about marketing, is that they just don't know what to DO.

Should I bother with a Facebook page?
How important is it to have an email list?
Am I blogging right?

This leads to scattershot marketing. They don't know what to do after they list a new product. They don't know what to tweet. They don't know if any of it is worth it. Each day is filled with frustrating not-knowing and doubt.

Knowing what to do is (or being able to figure it out) is a business-transforming skill.

It saves you time, energy and stress. It keeps you enthusiastic and moving along joyfully.
Getting stuck in a swirl of “What should I do?” is the ultimate momentum killer!

But there's no easy answer to what you should do.

When you work with me, I don't tell you. (And you should probably avoid any one-size-fits-all advice that purports to know exactly what everyone should do.)
Instead, it's a process of discovery.
Instead, we look not at this ONE thing (email list, social media, blog) but at the overall picture of your Customer Path.

I'm always asking clients: How does this fit on your Customer Path?

And it's that simple. Once you know your Customer Path, you know just what to do. Whether you're listing an item on Etsy, preparing for a craft show, or building your email list, your Customer Path will inform what you do.

What would change in your biz if you knew what to do in your marketing?

Want more?
You can read this and this to get you started. Then, check out the new class that will help you order your marketing into a cohesive Customer Path! 

 

Get the help you need (and stop wasting your money)

Crepe myrtle (& tiny moon) #foundwhilerunning

Without quite meaning to, I've been writing a little series on exploring the support your business needs (this is just one area you might want to explore.)

Now that you know what you need, and you've explored your options of getting your partner's support, it's time to branch out  and get support from the whole wide world.

Instead of thinking about all the options out there, focus in on your needs.

When you thought about what you needed, what where the tasks that came to mind? (Take a moment to write them out!)

Now, for each item on your list, who would be the best person to help you with that?

 

Some of your options for support:

  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Assistant
  • Professionals (lawyer, accountant)
  • Community of peers (other businesses)
  • Community of Right People (your buyers and supporters)
  • Real-world community
  • Family

 

Go on and take notes on your list!

The next step is to find the specific person you need. 

If, for example, you are new to sharing your thing with the rest of the world, you might just want to read a book about that. But if you've read a few books and your problem is actually DOING it, perhaps you need the accountability of other explorers. If you need ideas for your newest product – don't ask a teacher or other businesses – go right to your community of buyers and talk to them about what they love, use and need.
The trick here is to remember what you need specifically – the actual tasks or barriers you currently struggle with – and then to seek out what will help you overcome (or accomplish) it.

Even though this is simple, are you doing it?

Or are you taking every class that's offered, and buying random books? Do you have lots of general knowledge, but no idea what to do for your specific situation?  I know – it's tempting to download and stockpile it (without using it) because you don't want to miss out! I'm guilty of this too! But this gather-everything-and-then-sort-it-out method is why you feel overwhelmed. It's why you still feel unsupported.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in investing in your business (and your business education). I wouldn't offer books, classes and support if I didn't know it was helpful. But it's helpful for the people who have the specific need. The best investments I've ever made  have been those that filled a need I had right then, or that related to a new adventure I was embarking on. 

So what do YOU need? Where can you find it?

 

cross_stitches

 

 

During this exploration of my own relationship to support, I made two big changes to my business, which I'll be sharing with you Thursday (you can subscribe so you don't miss it.)

 

 

How to survive the holidays as a Biz Lady

“For the busy Biz Lady, the holiday season is a time of joy (Peppermint mochas! Decorations! Candle light!) and stress (Holiday orders! The post office!). Sanity can be hard to hold on to between filling orders, fulfilling family obligations and standing in the dreaded post office line.

But sanity and profit are possible. It starts with knowing yourself, your business and what you want from the season and then setting expectations (and plans) for yourself and your community.”

Read the rest of my post on DesignSponge.

 

And if you've read that post, you might like

If this is your first time here

Hi! So nice to have you! Get to know me and say hello here. Don't miss the free mini-lesson How To Be An Explorer of your Biz. And, well, start at the Start Here page if you'd like more!

Want more survival tips? Check out the (free) Definitive Guide.

Sign up here to get more on surviving your business adventures, no matter the season.

 

The Adventures

This week was quite an adventure. An all-day doctor's appointment, a funeral and burial (my husband's great aunt, beloved by his mother), and (on a happier note!) the Starship opening for new members.

 

The view

A rainy September calls for apple pancakes with fried apples.

I'm addicted to apples.

Delicious apple pie pancakes, from @isachandra's recipe

Apple pie pancakes, from this recipe.

A good start

A typical work morning: coffee, oatmeal, to-do list and laptop.

Love the view from the library.

The view from the library (my second favorite working spot)

Tonight's dyepot brought to you by the color Leaf. #nofilter

Dyeing hemp laceweight for a wholesale order.

Thanks for all your sweet notes. We really are fine, it was Jay's mom's favorite aunt, so we're spending the day comforting, supporting and hugging her.

In the funeral procession.

 

 

The finds

  •  I (finally) collected success stories from Starshippers and have been sharing them with the Early Boarding list. Sign up here to get a dose of inspiration.
  • Kim is making a TV show that teaches SKILLS, not just projects. Support it!
  • Ack! This is so cute I want to crochet all the Doctors!
  • Serendipity! The very day I declare my intention to feel good, Anna posts about her very same experiment!

What was your week like? What were your adventures?


One year ago: What are Right People
Three years ago: Autumnal To Do

 

It costs how much?! aka, Marketing with Price

This month we're looking at marketing without promotion and the other ways to market: using Place, Product and, today, Price to share your work.

This whole marketing-with-price thing is a tricky subject. You want to think about using price to find new (or repeat) buyers…but you don't want to slip into doubting your price, or worse, trying to compete on price. So before we start thinking about pricing and marketing, let's get one thing straight:

Your customer doesn't buy on price, she buys on value.

Value = How much your product is worth to the Right Person.  (This has nothing to do with numbers, and everything to do with how it makes her feel when she buys it).

Think about your last haircut. Did you pay $5 for it or $35 (or more!) for it? Why? Was the action the same? Before you got your haircut, you couldn't be sure of the results, so you didn't really pay for a better haircut, you paid for the promise of a better haircut. And you probably paid for a nicer environment in which to get a haircut. And a friendly hairdresser.
Why yes, I did bring my own creamer to the coffee shop. #coffeewasmylastnonveganholdout

Or your last cup of coffee or tea. Did you drink it at a gas station? Or a coffeeshop? Or did you make yourself a cup of the good stuff at home (with your favorite creamer and sweetener, in your favorite mug). If you drank it at the coffeeshop or at home, it wasn't because of price, it was because of value – you wanted the experience of enjoying that cuppa.

So how do you market with Price, without trying to compete on price?

Start by thinking about your price range.
What's your most expensive item? And your least expensive? Is that a very big range?
If it's a wide range, could you fill it in with mid-range items?
If it's a narrow range, could you add a lower-priced item? A higher-priced item?

Be careful! A lot of my students immediately think of offering a low-priced item to their range. You may want to do that, but before you jump to that conclusion, take a minute to think of a few other options. What could you create that would be worth a higher price?

When considering which to do, keep your Right Person in mind. What else could she buy from you that goes with her current purchase? Or how could you reach a new segment of your Right People with a new price?

Another way of marketing with Price is to group products together (a higher price, but perhaps a savings overall), or to break up a group of products. Or you can change the way people pay for and buy your item.
Freshly shorn fleece #shearingday

For example, I no longer sell single skeins of yarn online (you can find it in yarn stores) – instead I offer Monthly Yarn Mail. 1 skein of yarn, every month, delivered right to you. You sign up and are charged monthly, automatically. Or, you can buy a whole year of yarn at once.

While I didn't alter my pricing much, I did alter the way my customer interact with the price. They don't choose to buy a new yarn each month, it's automatic, and that makes the price less of a factor.
Other fiber artists offer “clubs” – where you sign up once and get three or sixmonths of yarn. It's the same principle – grouping something together, since we know our customers usually buy multiples (repeatedly) of what we sell.

Let's look at a few examples:

A jeweler can offer a high end range of jewelry and a more affordable teen-inspired line.
A bag maker can also offer wallets – a great, low-priced add-on to your order
A knitwear designer might create multiple lines – one of affordable basics and another that are very detailed, very intricate knit shawls.
A bookmaker might add a line of handmade bookmarks.

What else? How can you market using price?

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