This week has definitely been an adventure. A travel-cross-country, get stranded in an airport, totally exhausted kind of adventure. But! I loved it! And it inspired me to add a new section to this here weekly round-up of Adventures: The Lessons. Scroll down to see 'em!
Seattle skyline from Bainbridge Ferry :: Teaching an EtsyRAIN workshop :: Knitting the TARDIS shawl with a DALEK :: Captain Kirk's actual chair :: At the baseball game :: first Pumpkin Spice of the season, as I waited for my much-delayed flight
Captain Kirk's chair isn't that impressive in real life (kind of a peel-y vinyl), reminding me again that the symbol is the thing, and the value we bring to objects.
Support is all around. Again and again during the trip, I'd worry about something (like which busses to take to get to my workshop, without getting sweaty) only to have support show up (within an hour, three different people texted, unprompted and offered to drive me.) This happened so many times I lost count. Note to self: Keep your eyes open, the help you need is within reach.
Setting goals is powerful. I've had a dream/wish in mind all summer, but didn't know how to make it happen. Way back in June, I wrote that I wanted the Starship to my full-time focus by September. But it seemed impossible, so I didn't make any plans for it…and then a series of random events made it possible to extricate myself from long-term client projects (happy on all sides) and dedicate myself full-time to the Starship this month. Magical. Also, freaky.
- Breezy – A life-saving app! I had to print worksheets for the workshop (and couldn't print them ahead of time or they'd get all squished in my luggage), and Breezy lets you send any document to any local, public printer (like, Kinkos!) right from your phone or iPad.
- I like what Cairene is saying here about commitment leading to magic. I've been learning this lesson over and over again lately, and I'm so glad she wrote it.
- This is a pretty impressive handknit sweater for a baseball fan. I'm kinda tempted. Recognize the pattern?
- Marlo! We had lunch after my workshop and she is just…well, it's hard to talk about her without sounding cliched. Smart! Great! Hilarious! Also, so so in tune with what crafters need to know. Since I don't work one-on-one with clients anymore (unless you're already in the Starship), I'm referring everyone to her.
And that's it for my Adventures this week – what were yours?
Another lesson learned? I love talking to you. So now, for this month only, every one boarding the Starship gets a free jam session. We'll talk about your questions, your dreams and your plans, so you enter the Starship prepared to get exactly what you need. Offer ends (and the Starship closes to new members) on 9/14.
This morning I had a great conversation with some business-y friends and I just have to share it with you, because it's the kind of question that gets asked a lot in the periphery. People moan about it on Twitter, they email about it and despair. But it's something nearly everyone experiences and it's time to bring it out of the darkness and into the light.
It's the Cricket Launch.
It's when people we love and admire have this experience we've seen over and over: super smart people create a program, a product, a service and they work hard on it, and then they launch it…to crickets. Nothing. No sales. Why?
Here are some of the reasons I've spotted in real life Cricket Launches:
- You don't have a business, you have a Thing you're into (a hobby, an idea, a passion) and you offer something that doesn't help anyone with anything they care about. You don't have a system in place to support the product, or for telling people about it, or for continuing to interact with it. (You can just announce: I have this thing! and expect it to continue to sell.)
- It's all about The Maker. MY process. MY stuff. Here's what I need in MY life, and I explain it (on the sales page) by telling MY story…but without ever translating that into YOU and YOUR stuff and YOUR life. (In other words, if you're solving a problem I didn't know I had = crickets)
- However! The Not Enough People thing isn't the biggest thing (even though everyone wants to obsess over that). The biggest variable (in the crafty businesses I know) is that people have to understand that you Do A Thing That They Could Buy. If I don't get that in the first 15 minutes I spend with you (which is, like, 8 hours in internet time), I'm not going to buy it. No one's going to buy it. This is really #2 all over again. I have to know you SELL it and get why I would buy it for ME (not why YOU make it.) If your website is all about your love of sewing, and there's not a clear link to your fabric shop anywhere, it doesn't matter what marketing you do – no one will know they can buy.
- You're only talking to each other. (This might actually be the Biggest Thing in some groups.) The internet is an echo-chamber, especially if you only hang out with one community of people. Your one group might be the forums on Etsy, or your knitting group, or even the Starship. If I only ever talk to my business-mentors group, I would never sell anything. I do the kind of work that isn't FOR any of them. It's for crafters who are in the awkward middle of their business, who want a accountability + feedback. So even though I check in with my mentors, I have to spend my time getting to know crafty businesses who have already started.
- If you only hang out in one group, you'll start coming up with a version of your Thing that will serve things people in that group, which might not be your best work, or your best next step. And you'll be limited to serving the people you already know (and that can make it awkward when they don't buy.)
- You know how I said that stuff about talking so your customers understand? Yeah, if you're speaking in your group's language only people who will know that language will get it. You have a better shot if you speak your language, but an even better shot if you make sure the words you use make sense to your really right person, not the language of some tiny community they don't belong to.
Well, that was bracing!
It's no fun to talk about the things that aren't working. But most likely, you've already experienced this. You've already felt crappy about crickets. And it's time to know that you aren't alone, and all is not lost.
In fact, it's the opposite of lost!
If you found yourself and your crickets in this list, you've been found! You've figured out what brought the crickets and you can figure out what will exterminate* them.
*It'll cheer you right up to say “Exterminate!” in your best Dalek impression.
There are lots of things you could do to rearrange, change, or improve on everything on this list. You can turn it on it's head. You can expand the group you hang out with online. You can translate your language into something your customers will understand. You can find out what your people really want, and give them that. You can get out of the echochamber and into another space, for even an hour a day. Just experiment.
Do you see your crickets here? What have you done to exterminate them?