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right people

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!

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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 Article That Changed the Way I do Business

The article that changed the way I run my creative business. Improve the marketing for your crafty business with these tips!

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In 2009 I read an article that totally changed the way I thought about my small business and shaped the way I do… everything in my business and how I make every decision.

Today we're going to talk more about the article I read, how it shaped my decisions, and how you can use the same concepts to grow and improve your creative business.

Resources 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.

How do you find your people?

how do you find your people

The past few weeks we've been learning how to talk to your customer — but talking to her is just one part of the process. To actually SELL your goods, you need to:

  1. Identify the person who will love it and buy it (I call this your Right Person).
  2. 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).
  3. Explain how awesome your thing is, in terms she understands.
  4. Go where she already is and talk to her there.

The thing is, the first three are all about you doing the work, alone in your studio/office/kitchen, thinking and working and guessing. You can spend hours, days, months just thinking and guessing about your Right Person. You can even put some stuff in your shop with the descriptions and photos you think will speak to her. You can write blog posts aimed at her.

But that's not enough. It's not enough to stay in your own world and hope that she finds you.

But I can hear you now, you want to know: HOW?! 

It's entirely dependent on what you sell and who you sell it to.

You can show up where your person is in a zillion ways:

  • You can write a post on her favorite blog.
  • Your product can be featured in her favorite magazine, blog, or TV show.
  • Her friend will tell her about your work or forward your email.
  • You'll vend at the craft show she attends.
  • You'll comment on HER blog or be in the forums where she chats.
  • Someone she follows will retweet you, or share your FB post.
  • You'll write an article for her favorite magazine.
  • She'll search for a product, and you'll show up in the search results.
  • You'll meet on social media, in a FB group or Twitter chat.
  • She'll see your ad (on a blog, on Facebook, anywhere).

You see, not every option makes sense for every business (or buyer). If you try to do them all, you'll waste your time. If you try to do everything  at once, you'll be distracted and ineffective.

But if you pick the one that makes the most sense for your business and your Right Person? And you do it consistently, week after week? You are sure to find your buyer and connect with her. You'll learn so much about your person, where she is and what she wants from you. You'll also learn where she isn't and what you're wrong about.

I can't tell you exactly what will work for you.

But all of us can answer a few questions to get started:
Who is going to love and buy what I make? (You gotta know this first!)
When does she buy my thing?
What influences her decisions?
Where does she look for information? (What term does she search for?)

By answering these questions, you'll get an idea of what to try.

And then it's up to you to do it, to actually TRY something and keep trying it, with consistency.

PS. We're going to walk through this entire process+ get specific about what you actually DO in the upcoming class, Craft Your Marketing. Sign up below to be notified when it opens, and in the meantime I'll send you some free marketing goodies to make it easier for you to communicate with your Right People.

 

Listening in

I've been quiet. Not just on the blog, but on the Explorer Lessons, the Twitter, and even on Instagram. It started out unconsciously…I just didn't have anything to say. I wanted to read all day. Dye yarn. Do quiet-ish things.

Plotting with beet/carrot/ginger juice. #unpluggedadventureday

But then Thursday, I purposely took break from the constant stream of feedback. I didn't check email, twitter replies, or even likes on Instagram. Instead, I drove to Asheville, explored, wrote. I didn't really know why I avoided all feedback until I was driving home at the end. And then it hit me.

I spend a lot of time (maybe most of it) listening. When I'm answering questions on the Starship or taking part of a Twitter chat or just reading blogs, I may be talking, but I'm also listening for the connection. I'm watching for the chords that tie it all together, for the deeper question people are really thinking about. (This book opened my eyes to my system-spotting + building – it's part of my personality type!)

Once I spot the connection, I dive into it. I write a blog post, shoot a video answer or, if it's a deep and twisty question, I create a class. For example, In December I got an email from a Captain about how she'd had a banner year…but paid herself nothing. Then I saw a few comments on Twitter saying “I invest everything back into the business.” I spot the connection right away: People don't know how to measure (and improve)  their profit. So I wrote, asked questions and taught a class about doing just that. It might not be my favorite thing, but it's undeniably vital to every business…and no one else seemed to be talking about the equations that I use…so I did it. (That's another part of listening – watching for great resources I can recommend – and making sure I'm not spending my time creating something that already exists in way that my people can absorb.)

I LOVE this deep listening and connection-spotting. It's the way I process the world and my brain does it even when I'm not working. But, if I'm not careful, all that listening can result in only thinking about things other people need…instead of creating what I need and want to create. So when I finish a period of intense listening and responding, it's time to stop in and listen to myself again.

It's  just like I'm always saying about finding and listening to your Right People. If you listen in, you'll definitely make what they want.

But that's only one part of the equation. The other half is YOU. You have to spend some time listening to yourself, learning what your skills are, and expressing (or trying to express) what you need to create in this world.

So I took the week to listen in quietly to myself..and I got a whopp of insight (at 7pm while washing the dishes) about how to clarify my message (see the Start Here page for the changes) and what I need to work on next (opening the Starship for the quarter and a BIG exciting project).

When was the last time you took a break from your listening stations and tuned into your internal frequency?

You’re invited! Seattle Workshop 9/1

Eep! I'm so excited to invite you to my first-ever live, in-person workshop!

At the bus stop

Find your Right People: How to woo + keep more customers

Customers.
Fans.
Your tribe.
Your community.
Your people.

Whatever you call them, your business needs them.

Those people who love your work and feel a deep thrum of recognition when they see your newest creation.

These are your Right People.

They are the ones you  buy from you, rave about you and support you.
With your Right People, you don’t have to wonder.
You know they’ll love what you make.
You know what you make will sell.

But how do you get Right People?
And once you have them, how to get them coming back? 

Seattle library

In this one hour workshop, you'll discover WHO you want in your business and HOW to get them there. The class will include instruction, worksheets and plenty of time to ask your specific questions. We'll cover:

  • Finding Right People
  • How to let your Right People know they are right for you
  • How to keep them happy + satisfied
  • Any questions you have about your Right People
Saturday, September 1, 2012
12:30 PM
Phinney Neighborhood Center
6532 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
Price: $35.00 per person
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Got questions? Ask 'em in the comments.

The bravery in sticking with your just right people.

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

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

Focusing on your Right People IS scary. 

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

 

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

And that's ok.

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

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

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

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

 

*You can listen to our whole conversation here:

Listen to internet radio with David Cohen on Blog Talk Radio

Right Action

You might remember that last week I asked you for your questions (I answered them and recorded it for you here!).

I love doing this because it helps me see what it is you're thinking about your business and how you're feeling about the mass quantities of business-y advice out there.
And it always sparks at least a zillion blog posts, so that's a bonus.

Today I want to talk about a question I didn't get to answer on the call, because I got it after the call was over.

The asker asks:

What are some actionable steps I can take to reach new customers?I have a really great base of regular customers; they like me, they like my product, they come back for more. This is awesome. But I need more people like that, b/c the few great regulars I have aren't enough business on their own. How do I find more regulars?
I just don't know for sure what I can do, and I'm tired of reading stuff about infusing my business with my personality or using my blog properly, etc. I want actual steps I can take to find and get new customers, you know? I'm just not sure how else to get my product in front of the people who will buy it and love it and come back for more.

Emphasis mine

I love this because, as you know, I'm always talking about infusing your stuff with your you-ness and I can totally understand the frustration when that doesn't feel like action.

After getting this email (and responding to her with actual action steps!), I went back to my notes for the Right People class…
And I threw it all out.
I went to my BOOK draft and I found everything that is actionable…and that's going to be tomorrow's class.

I'm going to say very little about infusing your you-ness into everything you do because although that is the foundation  of everything, this is Right People 2.0.
This is for those of you who know what you make, you know a few of your Right People but you are ready to dig deeper, to get more, to stretch out and fill your capacity.

If you're ready for it, register here. The class is tomorrow, but if you can't make it, you'll get a recording if you register in time.

How Right People Changed my Business, revisited

In writing the chapter on Right People (for the BOOK!) and getting ready for the new class, I found this old post on Right People and I love it so much, I wanted to share it again (updated with what's changed)…

Last week we talked about what Right People are and how they can change your business.
Today I’d like to share what happened to Blonde Chicken Boutique when I started applying the concept of Right People to my work.

It started by Havi saying

Everyone has Right People

and

Your Right People are Right if they love what you do. That’s the only requirement.

And I wondered, what would this look like if I really believed it?

If these people love what I make, then I should make something truly ME.

Instead of worrying about the trends or what other yarnies were doing, I started focusing on yarn that I really love. Textures, colors, styles.  My love of my work grew and I created a line of yarns that really went together. I began to develop a look for Blonde Chicken Boutique.

If there are people who love what I make, then I should be talking to THEM.

Instead of spending money reaching tons of new people, I turned to my current people. How can I serve them better?
For starters, I ask them. I create products they want (the Learn To Knit Kit was inspired by people who loved my yarn but didn’t knit) and I keep them up-to-date (with a customers-only newsletter + a bi-weekly Yarn-Love Note)

My Right People love my thing, so why worry with those who don’t?

When I realized I don’t have to appeal to everyone or make everyone happy, I can focus on doing what I do best and serving the people who are already happy.

This means I could stop selling online, I can focus on my Monthly Yarn Mail customers and my yarn shops.

My happy, delighted Right People are the best advertising I could ever want.

If I make it easy for them to share my stuff, they can spread the more to more Right People.
Without doing anything, yarn shops have approached me. They have customers who asked them for my yarn, so now they carry it. ALL of my wholesale business (which is now 90% of my yarn business) has come from referrals!

The more I thought about Right People,  I realized I was actually thinking about Marketing.

But instead of asking “How do I tell people about my thing” (like many crafters do)
or “How do I tell my target market of 30 year old college graduates who make $40,000/year who knit about my thing” (like marketers do),
I’m asking “Who are my Right People already? What do they love? What could I do make them happier.

This changed every part of my marketing.
(and started attracting attention of people who needed marketing help, from companies who want my advice to publishers who want me to write books) 

The result?

My time is spent working with people I love, instead stressing over finding more people. My people are happy and tell their friends. My sales have greatly increased.
But best of all, I’m doing what I actually love.

A totally unexpected, non-yarny result?

When I started really listening to my people (not just my customers, but all those people who I liked and liked me, including other crafters, my online friends, other business owners), I realized they wanted something else.
They were asking me business-y questions; about marketing, about sales, about crafting a business AND a life.

So I started offering classes and tools.
Every single one of my classes (including this week’s class on Right People) have been sparked by specific questions I’ve been asked. I always answer the asker, but when the answer becomes huge,  I know I have a class.

The best part? 
I genuinely love teaching. I love talking about business. I love love love brainstorming for other people’s thing.
And the love is so obvious that last night Jay said, “Wow, I can see how happy this makes you. And it’s so perfect for you!” ).

Following my Right People? Led me to bliss.

What would change in your business if you focused on your Right People?

If you’d like to work with your adoring fans + find your Right People, check out the class!
Registrations close this Wednesday!

What are Right People, re-visited

In writing the chapter on Right People (for the BOOK!) and getting ready for the new class, I couldn't find a better way to explain it than I did in a post I wrote last year…so instead of trying to find a new way of saying it, let's just have a look at that older post: 

“Your Right Price will be right for your Right People”

I said this in the Pricing class and a few people piped up to ask , “But who are these Right People? How do I find them?

We’ll talk about the how to find the Right People and how to make them happy in this class, but before you register for that, let’s answer the basic question:

Who are Right People and why do I care?

I first heard the term from Havi, when she said:

Your Right People need whatever it is you have in whatever form you give it.

I read that and thought, yeah, ok.

But then I started to explore it (and talked to Havi about it in more depth).

As I experimented, it reframed and transformed every area of my business.

Let’s start with a definition, from Havi:

Right People = anyone you like and appreciate who likes and appreciates you.

My definition, as it relates to our crafty pursuits:

Right People = the people who love and adore your thing, the way you do it and you.

Your right people is anyone who really loves what you make.

This includes:

  • customers
  • friends
  • cheerleaders
  • mentors
  • partners

Not all of your Right People are going to buy from you, but even those that don’t will sing your praises to new Right People.

Without a focus on your Right People your business may be:
  • Unfocused: Which way should I go next? What should I make?
  • Uncertain: Will this sell?  Where should I advertise?
  • Insecure: Will people like it? Is it worthless? Will anyone ever buy?

Focusing on your Right People can reverse all that.

When you’re talking to your Right People, you can be yourself:

Because that spark of YOU is what spoke to the people in the first place, it’s why they are here, checking out your thing.

When you talk to your Right People, you know what to do next:

They’ll tell you what they want either directly (I want yellow!) or indirectly (yellow sells out quickly).

When you share your thing with the Right People, you’ll make sales:

They will feel a sense of kinship or a recognition of awesomeness and it will *click*. Yes, this is for me.

It’s not about manipulation, convincing or cajoling.
In fact, it’s the opposite! When you speak to your Right People, you don’t have to persuade them that your thing is right, they will feel it.

Sound awesome?

Learn how to do it October 12th in the Right People class.  We’ll cover the specific how tos of finding your Right People, talking to them, learning from them and keeping them blissfully happy.

 

Rob + Sam are crafting a (photography) business

This is the third in a series of  interviews with smart people who are crafting a business. Part friendly chat, part case-study, all helpfulness!
If you know someone I should interview (even you!)
let me know.

Today I'm talking to my friend Rob, who has the dubious honor of being the first of these interviewees that I knew pre-Blonde Chicken Boutique. In the 6 years I've known him, he married the gorgeous Sam (who I taught to knit!), made an adorable baby (see below) + grew a photographry business.

How'd you get started in photography?

I have liked photography as far back as I can remember. I always like learning a new skill, even if I don't pursue it beyond learning the basics, and both my grandfathers were amateur photographers.

My father is a bit of a photographer, and so when my sister was old enough to start learning photography she took his camera. And he eventually bought a newer, slightly nicer camera. Once I was old enough to start really experimenting with photography I took over that camera. No doubt, in a few years my son will have his eyes on my camera.

For me, it was the first form of art where what I produced matched or approached what I had imagined. My drawings, and later my prints and sculptures, rarely end how I hoped when I started.

What led you to start the business?

I never planned on photography as business.

Photographers become known for their style and themes, and I had a hard time imagining my path to success would be a nationwide fame for documenting my parents' back yard.

My mother is a ceramic artist, and we went to a lot of craft shows.  In my mind, craft show photography and gallery photography were my two choices.
Service photography, I hadn't thought about.  Later I would consider
journalism, portraiture, studio, and event photography, but that all
came after my first professional work.

How it really began…

One day, I go over to my friend Westen's house.  Right after I arrive,
I overhear her mother say,

“It's ok, Rob will take care of it.”
“Hey Westen, what am I going to take care of?”
“Rob, you might be a little annoyed.”
“Why don't you tell me while I make a sandwich.”

A delicious sandwichis very calming, so I started making a sandwich.

“You're going to be my wedding photographer.”
“Westen… there are normally steps, like, ‘Hey Rob, guess what, I'm
engaged' and then maybe a ‘Hey Rob, can you do my wedding photography?' and so I feel like me overhearing you already telling people I'm the photographer is kind of doing it wrong.”
“But that's not what I did.  So now you're my photographer.”
“Okay then.”

And from then on I was a professional wedding photographer.

How has your business changed through the years?

What's changed the most, and continues to change, is the amount of not-photography that my wife and I do as part of the business.

We had a very unique business model for our location when we started.  Sam
was my just girlfriend at the time of the first wedding, but I realized I was in over my head, and needed a partner to help me through.  So we always shoot a wedding with two photographers.  Not a photographer and an assistant, but two full photographers.

And does that make you different from most wedding photographers?

When we moved to Madison, what made us unique in Dayton (2 photographers)  made us part of a regular subset of wedding photographers: husband and wife teams.  So
as I started to realize how much more competition we had, I wondered
what would make us stand out now.

What makes us stand out from photographers in the sames groups?  It's our experience, and how we share it with the customer.  As we learn from each wedding, we are able to share with our customers what we've learned about making the day go smoothly.

We share so much information with our customers, starting right at our
first meeting.  We make sure that we're the right fit for the customer.  As much as we would like everyone to hire us, we have a specific service we offer, and it's not right for everyone.  It's better to make sure you really are the customer's ideal, than to have a large base of unsatisfied customers.

We start fishing out what the customers' are looking for, and giving back to them a sense of how we will be able to meet their needs.  There's a balance that every artist who offers a service has to strike, between flexibility and sticking to who you are.  There are services we will never offer, because that's not who we are, and there services we will do by request only.

Right away we make ourselves clear on who we are, and what we can do for you.  But then we start asking questions about the plan for the whole of the day,  and that's when we really start sharing our non-photography part of the business.  Often our questions are met with “I don't know” and “We haven't talked about that” or “I didn't even know that happened.”

Sam and I have coached couples through cutting the cake.  We've trained ushers.  We've been the phone line from the girls getting ready to the guys getting ready.  I often teach the guys how cuff-links work.  For eight hours, we work with the couple, we work with the videographer, we work with the mc, we work with the officiant.  We become part of the day.  And that knowledge and involvement, grows a little with every wedding.

What has changed about the way you look at your craft, now that it's also a business?

Photography really appeals to me, not in spite of being a business,
but because of being a business.

I am able to earn part of my living capturing moments.

Especially with weddings, Sam and I are able to share scenes from a day to audiences who have personal connection to the images.  The bride and groom get to see what the other was up before the ceremony.  Family get to see pictures of three or four generations of relatives all interacting.  Invited guests who were unable to attend can watch the story of the day.  We, as photographers, effect how the day will be remembered in the years to come, and that's an amazing feeling.

Isn't that delightful?

You can find more about Rob + Sam (along with even more of their gorgeous photos at their website or hang out with them on their Facebook page.

My favorite bits of Rob-wisdom:

  • “There's a balance that every artist who offers a service has to strike, between flexibility and sticking to who you are.  There are services we will never offer, because that's not who we are.”
  • “It's better to make sure you are their ideal, than to have a large base of unsatisfied customers.”
  • “A delicious sandwich is very calming.”

You see? It's all about Right People!

Finding your People starts with paying attention to what you do + don't want to do and making sure you don't take on any clients that expect something else from you.

How do YOU make sure you are working with only your Right People?
Tell us  in the comments!

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