Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

market yourself

What I’ve learned about marketing since writing the book

What I've learned about marketing

I’ll be honest with you, this week I am deep in writing content for the new class, and I can think of very little else…so that’s what I’m going to tell you about.
(The class is a kind of read-along + deeper dive into my book. Learn more + join the class right here.)

To write the lessons, I'm reading through the book that I wrote 3 years ago and well, to be honest, it's awesome. I am thoroughly enjoying myself (I crack myself up) and am totally inspired to say a million more things, deeper and more specific things about it (which is good, because that’s what the class is!).
Luckily (well, it wasn't luck, I planned it!) the book doesn't dive too deep into any particular tool (because I knew they'd become outdated) and instead focuses on foundations of an effective marketing plan. But there's so MUCH I've learned in the intervening three years. I have worked with hundreds more small businesses. I have seen some Captains' businesses quintuple in size, and others (even ones I used as examples!) blink out of existence, because the makers burned out or just found something they wanted to do more (which is great!).

Here are the additional lessons I’ve learned about marketing:

  • New content is king. No, everyone doesn't need a blog, but everyone does need to give their people something new to share – whether that's new images, new posts, new events, or new products. You can systematize this so it doesn't drive you crazy, but you can't ignore it.
  • Ignore everyone else. I think I say a version of this about 100 times throughout the book, but you know what? Working with more students has taught me that you need to hear it another 100 times before it sinks in. IGNORE EVERYONE ELSE. Their success, failure, decisions have nothing to do with what's going to work for you.
  • You stand out from the competition by not only focusing on your sparkle and your people (which we cover!) but also by building a business YOU want. Because, you see, you're going to want a different kind of business than everyone else. So you'll make different decisions, use different tools, show up in a different way. By doing this, you're going to have a business that looks and feels different. I've seen Karen do this beautifully with Gentle Clothing. She got clear about her North Star, and then built it right into the business and she ended up with something totally new and fresh.
  • It's all about feelings. (Really!) How do you want your buyer to feel? How will your product make her feel? Take THAT and infuse it everywhere – your website, your descriptions, your photos, your emails, the way you write your contact page! The book actually has a worksheet about this in Chapter 4, but over the last three years I've become 100x more addicted to this idea, as I've seen it work over and over for clients (and my own business)!
  • The more you can strip away your I-don't-want-to-fail or I-don’t-want-to-look-stupid, the faster you’ll do work that matters and that stands out (and that sells). This is just a fact of life and it’s true in every arena.

If you’re feeling stuck or confuzzled or not sure where to start, start here. Start with what you want from your business, how you want people to feel, and keep giving your people new things to share and talk about (uh, and then share and talk about them!).

And if you'd like to get a better handle on your own marketing and create a plan that works for YOU, sign up for Craft Your Marketing right here.

A plan for sharing your work (+ a peek at my first marketing plan)

So what's your plan

Last week we talked about how to sell something:

  • Identify the person who will love it and buy it (I call this your Right Person).
  • Figure out what she cares about and why she buys your product (in the beginning you’re guessing; as you get more sales, you’ll ask her directly).
  • Explain how awesome your thing is, in terms she understands.
  • Go where she already is and talk to her there.

I heard back from lots of you that you KNOW you should be doing this, but it just feels overwhelming and like a lot to keep track of.

But it doesn't have to be. In fact, all these pieces can fit together into one plan, that you implement day in and day out, without worrying too much about it.

Yes, it takes time, energy, and commitment to set it up, but once you have it… it just works. You know what to do, every day. You'll continue to test it, improve it, and work it… but first you have to have it.

This knowing what to do thing feels AWESOME. It helps alleviate so much of the doubt and second-guessing you've been struggling with. It focuses your working time. It allows you to be consistent, which builds trust with your people, expands your reach, and – yes – leads to more sales.

This plan for reaching people is called….a Marketing Plan! (Imagine that!) Remember: Marketing = any communication you have with your people. So this is just a plan for reaching your people on the regular.

My first marketing plan was scribbled in my day job office, on a post-it note I kept hidden under my keyboard, circa 2007. It said:

  • Post one new picture to Flickr each day + add to groups (the days before Instagram!)
  • Tweet picture (ask for help naming?)
  • Reply to 3 new people (Flickr, Twitter, knitting blogs)
  • One new Etsy listing/day
  • Blog 1x/week
  • Email list every month (new yarns)

You see, your marketing plan can be as big or small as you need it to be. I added new stuff to the list all the time to see what might work, but knowing the absolute minimum kept me focused when things got busy. What you can't see from the list is the time I spent finding my possible customers (knitters who knit with handspun yarn…which was harder before Ravelry!) and figuring out what groups or tags would help my yarn be found by more people. But once I did that … I just followed the plan.

To make your own marketing plan (that actually works, and isn't a waste of your time), you need to:

  1. Know what makes you and your thing sparkle (stand out from everything else).
  2. Identify who some of your people are, what they care about, and where they hang out.
  3. Choose the methods you'll use to reach them.
  4. Put it all together in a plan that you implement, day in and day out.


If you'd like guidance and a clear path for making your own plan, check out Craft Your Marketing. In this 6 week e-course you will identify your sparkle, find your people, choose your tools and then make a simple, post-it worthy marketing plan that will bring you more fans and more sales. You don’t have to do this alone. I’m here to help with audio lessons (and enhanced transcripts!), worksheets, and FUN.

If you don’t know what you’re doing TODAY to connect with your people (or who they are or what to say), I hope you’ll join me in class: https://taraswiger.com/craft-marketing/.


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

The snow is so beautiful, but a bit inconvenient. I ordered boots (Chucks just aren't waterproof) last week after the big snow...and they were scheduled to be delivered yesterday. But it was too snowy to deliver my snow-surviving boots. #irony  #taraloves
New business cards, for TaraSwiger.com
People. Cabin fever is a real and dangerous affliction in which your warm cozy house begins to CLOSE IN ON YOU. And your loving dogs are suddenly THE WORST. And snow (your favorite!) is now THE ENEMY.     Or so I've heard. #snowedin
Sooo happy I finished these mittens before today's (supposed) Big Snow. #knitting #knitstagram
Shipping out signed copies of Market Yourself

I am so grateful for…

  • A warm house on snowy days
  • Work I can do anywhere (when you're snowed in and seeing no one but your husband, client calls are life-savers)
  • New business cards + packaging for my books!
  • Looking forward to warm sun and making new friends at CraftCation!
  • Handknit mittens!!

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating: 

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

The Adventures

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

The View

This ornament is almost vintage, made in high school I think. #tarastar
2 pies for 2 family gatherings. Wishing you sweetness & love today!
The view out front. #snow #yay
My great-grandma's fave grocery store, still awesome.
Spinning and knitting samples of mom's first roving.
Hideous dressing room, lovely bridesmaid dress.
My coworkers BOTH want to be in my lap. (That's @LindsayDrake's Sadie)



I am so grateful for:

  • Community + belonging + family
  • Decorating Mom's tree with “vintage” ornaments (the first picture is an ornament I made in Junior High)
  • The ability + resources to travel to spend time with loved ones (I'll never get tired of being grateful for this)
  • The editing + clarifying genius of my Number One. She has made this (brand-new, kinda secret) project  infinitely better!
  • Trying on a bridesmaid dress I liked. I really will wear it again!
  • Being recommended (by several sweethearts!) for an interview with a journalist! So flattering + appreciated, no matter what comes of it!


The Finds:


These are the recipes we made this week:

(With all this traveling, we ate out a lot. Or favorite: Tomato Head!)


The Adventures

Every week is an adventure. I share my adventures via images + notes, and you’re invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The View

Love you too. #foundwhilerunning
Bound and washed and perfect. Beau approves.
What kind of flower is this? A droopy bush with long boughs. #foundwhilerunning
Video editing for #ExploreYou. (10 days left!) #selfie #sorta #augustbreak2013
Again, with the laying on what I need. #caturday


Explore You starts nowThis 3 week class gets to the very core of what makes a successful business: making the right decisions with ease and clarity. Instead of looking for a book, class or mentor to tell you what to do next, discover it from the actual facts of your own business, through exploring! This is the very most material I've ever shared at once, with over 20 individual lessons, as with videos, articles, and worksheets.  (As soon as you pay, you have access to the first five lessons, so you can start exploring right away!) Join us here.


The completely free Exploration Party starts Monday! We've already got a big handful of artists, crafters, and writers who will be sharing their own explorations. Post your story any time next week, and I'll share it with the entire community. Details here.


Hate your inbox? Alex has the solution – and it's a fundraiser for Women's Earth Alliance! I truly love email (because you send the best mail!), and I think you should too. Get all the details here.


I got in a new box of books to sign! Just in time for my upcoming workshops at Arts Councils (I'll be in Morgantown on 8/19. You can join me for Social Media for Artists if you're nearby!). You can grab a signed book here, or read more here.


 Today is the last day that 10% of all sales will go towards cancer research. If you were moved by Allison's story and have been considering joining the class or buying a book, do it today! 




How to create a successful business

How to create a successful business

Before we go much farther with this me-answering-your-questions thing, let's talk about the BIG question.

The one that wakes you up at night, the one that you can't seem to find an easy answer for, the big secret everyone else seems to know:

How do I create a successful business?

I've got TWO answers, one simple and one complex, for this most-asked question.


The most important thing is to decide what success means to YOU.

What will success look like in your business? Leave a comment below or tweet it.

Got a question you need answered? Ask me!
Want to get every video + special lessons? Subscribe here.

Read-along, and a free project

This week in the Starship, at the insistence of the explorers, we started a read-along of my book.
Instead of just reading and sharing the worksheets with each other, I was inspired to make it crafty (We've all got crafty businesses, right? Why shouldn't we bring craftiness into our business planning?).

I had so much fun with it, that I wanted to share it with everyone.

Below is the email I sent to the members of the Starship:


Hello Captain!

In this week's reading (Chapter 1), we start thinking about marketing as a path. Everything you do in marketing (which is any communication with your potential buyer) is laying bricks in the path of a person who was a stranger, then comes to find you and buy from you (and comes back again and again). In the last message, I asked you to share what your path looks like right now.

But in today's project, let's use our imagination: what will your ideal path look like? What will the experience be like for your best customer be like?
And to stretch your imagination and make it even more fun, we're not going to just answer the question with words, we're going to create that path, and create that experience.
You can choose between three options:
  1.  Write a story
  2.  Draw a picture
  3. Craft (using any of the crafts you do) a charm for your best customer to take on her journey.
You can do this however you like, but if you need a few more ideas, here's some prompts:
1. Write a story: Create a story with your best customer as the heroine. Start the story before she finds your product: what's she thinking? What's she struggling with? And then! Bam! She finds you (how?) and falls in love and has the best experience in the world! Describe that whole experience and make sure that it's a real story – with conflict, plot twists and adventure (or romance, if it's a love story). For bonus points: tell it from her perspective (1st person).

2. Draw a picture: Using the paths that comes in the map-making guide you can draw the actual path, and fill it in with all of the different steps your customer takes. But don't use words! Create symbols, signs and metaphors for every part of the path (a flock of birds, for twitter, maybe?) and draw it in there.
OR, forget the path metaphor and draw the experience of your best customer. What's she feel like? What does she do to find you? Do this in your own style! It can be expressionistic, abstract, or a comic book or cartoon strip.
Note: You could paint this! Or photograph! (maybe a series that shows her journey, or something to symbolize the path)

3. Craft something: You'll have to do a little of one of the above before you get started: imagine your Right Person's experience and her life. Imagine her troubles and her enthusiasm. Now – make her something for her journey. (Perhaps it's a necklace that gives her superpowers, or fingerless gloves to protect her against the cold wilderness, or a scrapbook for her journeys.)

When you've done one of the above (take all weekend, if you like, but no more than that – don't let it distract you from the real work of your business!), sit down and write about the experience:
When you were in the flow of the project, what surprised you?
What did you learn about your person, or the path you're building for her?

Share your project, and your reflections on the experience in the Communication Station.

Ok, so if you're not in the Starship, you won't be able to share it int he Communication Station, but you can join the Starship here or share your answers in the comments, below this post.
I hope you have as much fun with this as I did (I made a painting for my Right Person/Fellow Explorer).
I can't wait to see what you make!

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.

Market Yourself launch party! A chance to win $50!

Hello friends! Today's the day!

Market Yourself is out of pre-orders and is shipping out, right this minute.
$26.95 plus shipping

Add to Cart View Cart

DIGITAL (PDF and ereader)

Add to Cart View Cart

In Boston? Join me!

Tonight I'll be teaching a workshop on Right People. It's totally free, and it's at the fabulous Gather Here. Get the details here.

Not in Boston? Tweet + win $50!

To celebrate the launch of my book, my publisher is giving away a $50 gift certificate for any of their books. To win, all you have to do is tweet about the book, and use #marketyourself in your tweet, today. Shannon will pick a winner (randomly) from all tweets + announce it via Twitter tomorrow morning.
In your tweet, you can ask me questions (I'll answer every one!), you can talk about your favorite part, or you can share your own marketing struggles.


Need some ideas? How about: 

I just bought @TaraSwiger’s marketing book for handmade biz! Get yours here: http://bit.ly/IbR5oM  #marketyourself
Ooh! $50 worth of @cooppress books? Sign me up! #marketyourself http://bit.ly/IbR5oM

Here's what others have been saying:






The difference between the different versions.

I've gotten some questions about the difference between the versions of the book. Here's the lowdown:
Print + Digital (only available from me and Cooperative Press): 
This is the actual, hold-in-your-hands print copy of the book
+ a PDF of the entire book, emailed immediately after purchase.
Digital (only available from me and Cooperative Press)
This includes a Kindle and Nook-friendly editions,
+ a PDF of the entire book, immediately after purchase
Print or  Digital available anywhere else. Yep, you can buy the book from Amazon , but it won't include a PDF of the book.

Why do I want a PDF?

Because your business is always changing!
There are a squillion worksheets in Market Yourself and while you're welcome to fill them all in on your print version, I want you to be able to come back in 6 months or a year and revisit the worksheets, and be able to look at all the questions with fresh eyes. The PDF allows you to print (and reprint!) the worksheeets as often as you need to.
And if you buy the digital-only copy, a PDF lets you print out just what you want, so you can apply pen to worksheet.

Do you have any questions?

Ask them in the comments, or tweet them!

7 ways to be part of the brunch

Thank you so much for your outpouring of brunch-love!
So many of you shared the book and the brunch, I'm just overwhelmed. I can't say Thank YOU enought!

A few of you wanted to know how you could do even more to help, so I put together a quick guide on how you can spread the book-love to those who need it!

1. Tweet it! Facebook it!

Here are some ideas:

I just bought @TaraSwiger's Market Yourself! Get yours here: http://bit.ly/IbR5oM  #marketyourself

Click to tweet

A simple system for sharing my handmade awesomeness? Exactly what I need! http://bit.ly/IbR5oM  #marketyourself

Click to tweet

 #marketyourself: It's about Right People, Delight, and  Getting Out the Door. Yes, please! http://bit.ly/IbR5oM

Click to tweet

2. Pin it!

Did you know I embroidered the book cover? I did, because I'm that in love with it:


Or you can pin the actual book cover:



3. Email your friends, family and strangers (but don't be a spammer, yo!)

If you're a maker-seller then I bet you know a bunch more just like you, who would love the book. When you think of someone, send a quick “Thought you'd like this! ” note. They'll love you for it.

4. Let's brunch together at your place.

No, not your kitchen nook (although I never turn down a brunch) – your online home. You can ask me questions or just give me a topic to write about (like making dreams coming true, or simple marketing advice).

Before you do this – think about your people: what do they like to read about? What would help them most?
Some ideas:

  • If you sell patterns or yarn, I can answer questions/write about my own journey as a knitter/spinner/dyer.
  • If you sell art, I can talk about the power of buying art to express ourselves (I go on about this in the book!)
  • And of course, if you provide services or education to any kind of business, I can write about marketing, people-finding, and map-making.

5. Bring the party to Amazon

No, the book isn't out yet, but if you preordered, you already have the PDF version and you can review it on Amazon. Long or short, glowing or tepid, your reviews MATTER! They help strangers know what the book is about.

6. Get the book in book stores.

Got a favorite local bookstore? Call 'em up! Ask them if they plan to stock Market Yourself. If they respond with “huh?”, send 'em here + here.
(My favorite bookstore is Malaprops. If you're ever in Asheville, don't miss it! If you live in Asheville, give 'em a call for me, eh?)

7. Let's get together. Live. In person. No joke.

I'm taking this baby on the road!
May 10th: Gather Here in Cambridge, MA
May 12th: Wishstudio in Newburyport, MA

And then?
San Diego, Cleveland, and Chicago in June; Portland and Seattle in August and…anywhere else you'll have me!

If you've got a great local bookstore, yarn shop, or a friend with a big living room, ask them to host a workshop. We can talk Right People and Marketing your Creative Biz, or we can talk Map-Making.
To get this started, send a note to the place and copy me on it (taraATtaraswiger.com).

(If you hook me up with a place, I really will take you out to a real, live brunch)

Thank you!

Thank you so much for all of your encouragement, tweets, and sweet emails.
Stay tuned for even more brunch wonderfulness on May 10th!







I almost forgot to tell you! The Starship is now open. Join us here, until Friday.

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