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293: What’s next? Continuous sales after launch

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

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

Today we are diving in to making more consistent sales!

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

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

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

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

The answer is simple: Send another email.

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

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

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

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

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

So what should you send?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That increase in sales happened for a few reasons: 

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

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

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

Note what worked – do more of it.

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

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

Will people notice? 

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Going

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

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

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

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

Thank you for listening and have an enthusiastic week.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

292: Your Launch Plan: 5 steps to growth

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Here’s your launch plan

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

 

Let’s go through this step-by-step: 

Pick a product and clarify the benefits. 

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

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

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

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

Create an authentic offer with a deadline.

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

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

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

Your product + right now special = your offer. 

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

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

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

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

 

Here’s a few suggestions: 

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

 

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

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

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

 

Define your goals + commit to them

Why are you doing this? What do you want? 

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

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

 

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

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

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

How long will this launch period last?

Are you willing to go all in and commit? 

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

Show up where your people are. 

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

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

First: Identify your channels.
Where are your people? 

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

 

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

 

My preference for where you spend your energy:

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

 

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

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

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

In your launch week:


Send 3 emails: 

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

 

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

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

 

Go Live at least twice: 

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

 

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

 

So that’s your plan! 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Show up, take notes and keep experimenting. 

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

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

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

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

 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

267: How to Launch Anything (rebroadcast)

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.

Your questions answered: making friends, failed launches, and why you need a business profile

Your Questions Answered: making creative biz friends, failed product launches, why you need a social media business profile. Find the answers at TaraSwiger.com/podcast164

Today I'm answering questions from my Instagram followers (to get your questions answered, be sure you're following me!). Today we'll cover:

  • Making friends
  • Failed launches
  • Why you need a business profile

Resources:

Check out these awesome creative 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.

How to launch your next product or design

Not sure how to launch the next product or service for your creative biz? Learn how to launch anything at TaraSwiger.com/podcast162/

How do you get people excited about what you're offering? Do a launch! In this episode I'll walk you through the process of launching anything in your business – a new product, service, design, or whatever it is you sell! We'll also talk about why it's important to officially launch something, rather than just listing it and doing your regular marketing.

Links Mentioned

This was originally created to answer a Starship question in our monthly Q+A. To be notified when the Starship boards next, sign up here: https://taraswiger.com/starshipbiz

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.

 

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.

How to Launch Anything

How to Launch Anything

 

A few weeks ago 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 today. 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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Launch YOUR next product more easily – make a plan and stick to it! Sign up below to learn more.

 

The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

My $2/yd fabric. I went ahead and bought the whole 5 yards, so I have back-up.  Question: do you wash fabric before you sew clothes? (It's rayon, a crepe I think)
My adorable bunny-lover. (He saw the bunny, froze, then shook it off and started inside.) #bestdogever
Huzzah! Just opened The Starship for the quarter! So excited to meet who beams aboard.  All the details in the link in my profile. But ask me anything!   #starshipbiz
Morning glories are just so happy. (And they make me feel special, being up early enough to see them) Song of the Run: Do My Thing by Estelle, feat. Janelle Monae (This song is so great!) #foundwhilerunning #yaysummer #summerjam #running

I am so grateful for…

 

The Finds:

I’m reading:

  • I love that Pinch of Yum shares their monthly income report, but the best part is how the answer the question, “What does it take to make money blogging?”
  • Not much else! Spending all my time writing class materials + welcoming in new Starship Captains.

I’m eating: 

  • Pad Thai, of course!
  • BBQ tofu sammies + summer squash rice casserole (from Cookin Crunk.)
  • THIS was amazing. My lasagna noodles totally broke apart, so instead of rolls, it was more of a lasagna with pieces of noodles above and below a layer of DELICIOUS pesto-y vegan ricotta. Topped with more pesto. I could eat this every day.

I'm listening to: 
The Songs of Summer, since 1962 – this is a great playlist for summer-ing it up!

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

Your invitation to get effective

This year Diane + I held two sessions of a live class  that was crazy popular. But every time, we'd get a pile of emails from people saying: This week just doesn't work for me, will you hold it at another time? And as we want to say yes to every single person, we also have a pile of other ideas and projects we're just dying to do.

So we made it timeless. You can take the “class” anytime, anywhere, for as long as you like: it is now in one downloadable PDF.

click here to buy

The only downside: we love the personal question-answering, brainstorming, exciting work that comes from working with someone on their specific blog.

To get our fill, and to celebrate our new book, we're holding three live video one-on-one sessions this week:

Tuesday, October 9th, 1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
We’ll be talking with Brooke Siennes of Sincere Sheep.

Wednesday, October 10th,  2:00 pm EST (11:00 am PST)
We’ll be talking with Sarah Wilson of The Sexy Knitter.

Thursday, October 11th,  4:00 pm EST (1:00 pm PST)
We’ll be talking with Melissa Gruntkosky of Pressbound.

 

You can watch, for free, right here
If you want to share your comments or ask your questions, use the hashtag #effectiveblog

And if you want to make your blog more effective, get the workbook here.

5 reasons people aren’t buying your thing.

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)

 

  • Not enough people hear about it. You can't launch something to 20 people and expect to sell out (well, you can, but those 20 people need to ADORE you, not just subscribe to your blog and never visit). However! You can start with nobody and open a shop and THEN build people (this is the difference between coaching/classes + physical products: you have to make the physical product FIRST and then make it available, and then find people. If you spend all your time “building an audience” you'll never make anything.)

    So if you launch your handmade thing and you get crickets…that's ok! All is not lost! Keep making more stuff, keep putting it out there, PLUS start finding people are into it (How? By marketing it!)

 

  • 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?


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