Why Your Craft Business Needs a Niche Part 1

Finding Your Niche- Everybody Needs Them

One of the very first things that all business owners should do is define WHO their business is serving. This is typically called “finding your niche.” We will use “niche” and “target audience” interchangeably through the rest of this post. Despite having a silly sounding name, a niche is pivotal and can make or break your business but a lot of people gloss over this part.

I explain why this is a BIG mistake here-

Let me explain further… with some fishing metaphors.

Let’s say that you are the fisherwoman (or man) in our metaphor.
The marketplace (where transactions happen) is the water.
All the customers in the world are all the fish in the water.
Your product (or service) is your bait.
The niche would be the location of your boat.
The fishing rod would be your marketing and copy.

Without losing ourselves in this metaphor, let’s get to the point.

You should not go after deep-water fish near the shore. You may catch some fish, but not the ones you’re truly after.

This is why it’s important to thoroughly study your niche and your ideal customer.

Niches are all about compatibility and connection. It’s about finding your little pocket of raving fans in the entirety of the marketplace.

You don’t need to cast a wide net

In fact, I think that casting a wide net in this day and age is a sure way to blend into the the background. There is so much noise that we as consumers (and producers) have to sift through. Where there is differentiation, there is the potential for connection. What I mean by that is that you’re more likely to connect with the right people by sticking out. This is the whole message behind the marketing brilliance of Apple, Inc. Their motto “Think Different” has enabled them to connect with the misfits, the outcasts and the square pegs of the world. This is what has propelled them into their current popularity. If they had positioned themselves the same way as Microsoft in the 90’s and 00’s, I would probably not be typing on a Macbook Pro right now.

Your niche defines your communication

Your niche is made up of all your ideal customers. Having a strong understanding of your niche will greatly influence the language you use, the imagery you employ and your actual product offerings.

We all know this at a subconscious level. It’s what makes us prepare for first impressions and what helps us win people over with our words. You wouldn’t speak to your grandmother the same way you speak to your employees. We know to consider the person on the receiving end of our text messages but forget that our customers are actually people too. Knowing who your ideal customer is will help you communicate in a way that creates true connection with your buyers.

Your niche defines your products

Let’s say your skill is knitting. Knowing your ideal customer and what they like will save you a lot of time, sweat and yarn.

When you’re first getting started, you may feel like you should make the items that appear to be best sellers for other knitters.

Statistically, there’s a chance this could work for a while. If there’s a trend around that, you might catch it and there’s nothing wrong with that. But catching that wave is more about being in the right place at the right time and it’s a really risky way to manage your business over the long term.

However, finding your niche is the best way to run the race of business. It may have a slower start, while you’re figuring things out, but those customers will be repeat customers and even super-fans that refer others to you. Think of all the marketing funds you’ll save if your customers refer you via word of mouth. Think of all the time you’ll save by NOT making things that your customers don’t want to buy.

Having a good connection with your customers allows you to test the waters with new ideas before developing and making an entire product line. I do this all the time. I will post about an idea that I have and ask for feedback on it. My customers will either rave or give me some new things to think about.

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. In the next installment, I’ll talk about what to do with all this data you’ve collected about your target audience.

Need help getting your target audience/niche straightened out? Download my Niche Workbook for free by clicking here! 

 

 

Etsy Shop Owner Interview- Thana Fauteux of JitterBug Clothing and Retro Realty

This is the second interview in the Etsy Shop Owner Series. I know Thana personally and she’s a great friend of mine. She’s just a retro girl selling homes in Washington state with her business partner, Toki the tripawd Great Dane. When she’s not searching for someone’s dream home she’s crafting one-of-a-kind vintage outfits for kids, creating big style for tiny people.

Nannette: Tell me about yourself and your shop- how long have you been in business

Thana: My shop has been in business since 2013. I was having trouble finding clothing that I liked for myself, I have a thing for mid century fashion and I obviously wasn’t going to find much of it in stores, so I decided I was just going to make my own. As I was searching online for patterns I noticed so many of them were for kids. I did a quick Etsy search and found there were a lot of rockabilly style dresses for adults, but not a lot for kids. I really started the shop as an experiment/hobby, I was curious to find out if there was a market for vintage children’s clothing.

N: What E-commerce platform do you use?

T: Right now I only use Etsy and I do my marketing on Pinterest. I really love Pinterest, I think it’s a great tool that more people should be taking advantage of.

N: What was the thing that made you decide to start your business?

T: Honestly, I started it out of boredom and because I didn’t see my product being offered anywhere else. Generally, if you search for retro style clothing you will get a lot of rockabilly fashion, which is great! But I really wanted to go for a more authentic look, and I couldn’t find much of that.
I also love vintage picking, and I accumulate a lot of vintage items that I think I need at the time, but realize later that I don’t, so my shop has been a great way for me to pass my treasures on to others who appreciate them

N: Do you sell things in person as well? Craft fairs?

T: I have not yet sold things in person, but I have thought about it. Most of my clothing is made to order because it’s made from vintage fabric. I like to know I have a buyer before I cut into material I can’t replace, but craft fairs are something I want to get into in the future.

N: What was the biggest challenge you faced at the beginning?

T: My biggest challenge was probably a lack of confidence, thinking people were expecting more than I could give, so I would under price my items. I would also pander to people by taking ridiculous custom orders that should have cost hundreds of dollars, but since I was afraid of losing the sale I would give them a really low quote. During a really busy holiday season a customer asked me to make her 3 vintage nightshirts for her son out of flannel, but she wanted them lined in fleece. She also wanted pants to go with them, lined in the same way. I had to buy a lot of fabric for this order and since they were lined I was basically making 6 pairs of pajamas then sewing them together.

I also didn’t take into consideration the cost of shipping, since they were going to be rather heavy. I think I charged her $45 for each set, and in the end they cost me about $60 each to make, not including the time I spent on them. The shipping was about $30 more than I asked her for, but I was worried about upping the price and making her mad. Once the items had been delivered I sent her an email asking if she liked them, and requesting she leave me some feedback. She didn’t respond and I never got the feedback, and I think that felt worse than losing the money. If you don’t appreciate yourself and the work you do, no one else will either.

N: How did you deal with friends asking for discounts?

T: Poorly, lol! I would honestly just make them outfits for free, and I still do, but I keep it within reason. My gingerbread pajamas are usually a big seller around the holidays, so I will make free pairs for any new babies my friend’s may have had, but that’s about it.

N: If you had to start your shop over from scratch right now, knowing all that you know, what would you do differently?

T: I think I would plan my marketing strategy better, actually have a plan. In the beginning I relied solely on Etsy searches and it didn’t work out so well for me. My business has been slow to pick up and I know that’s why.

N: Lots of people think they shouldn’t sell their crafts because someone is already doing something similar- what do you have to say about that?

T: Never be discouraged by what other people are doing. Individual creativity can never be duplicated, the products you create are unique to you so no one can ever really be doing the same thing. If you’re still apprehensive about it try coming up with a way to make your product a little different from the rest. Look at other shops selling similar crafts and read the comments, look for anyone saying “I wish it were like this..” Or “Could you make it like that?” Write down all the suggestions and then implement them into your own design. Competition is a part of any lucrative business, don’t let it deter you.

N: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to turn their craft or hobby into a business? 

T: I think with a little planning, anyone can do it. We all have that voice in our head telling us “This will never work, you need to get a REAL job.” But honestly, how can it hurt you to try? Selling online is super affordable and you’re in charge so if you want to start with one item, you can do that.

Go at your own pace, learn from others, and never be afraid of failure because it’s simply a step towards success.

N: Where can we find your shop and do you have any cool promotions we should know about?

T: My shop can be found at HERE! I will have promotions posted in my shop info closer to the holidays.
Thank you all for reading! Do you want a chance to be interviewed here? Subscribe below and I’ll reach out to you soon!

 

Etsy Shop Owner Interview- Sonya Torres of Nirvanatastic

I’ve started an interview series featuring crafty and handmade business owners so that we can all learn from each other.

nirvanatastic header

The first business owner I’ve had the privilege of interviewing is Sonya Torres, owner of Nirvanatastic. In this interview I ask Sonya about the things she’s gone through in her business and she shares loads of amazing advice.

If you’re a business owner in the creative space and would like to be interviewed, please reach out to me by email.

Nirvanatastic Shop
Nirvanatastic Instagram
Nirvanatastic Facebook

 

Brand Reps 101

Brand Reps 101

One way to get your products in front of more people (which leads to more sales) is to connect with a blogger or a popular Instagram account that specializes in representing small business brands.

You as a shop owner can partner with people to deem them either a brand rep, a brand model, or a brand enthusiast/ambassador. I will start by saying that there’s a whole subculture of reps on Instagram. In my research, I found hundreds of accounts dedicated to promoting Etsy shops. I also found that the reps are MOSTLY dedicated to promoting kid’s clothing brands. I would say 99% of what I found was specific for that niche of kid-related items but don’t let it dismay you if you are not in that niche. I have also seen a few reps promoting adult clothing brands, decor brands and personalized product brands.

The thing to remember is that if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Let’s jump into understanding the beautiful world of brand reps, models and enthusiasts.

What is the difference between a brand rep, a brand model and a brand enthusiast?

This is one of the topics I spend over an hour talking about in my upcoming 8 week intensive group coaching program but I can talk about it briefly here. There are a few things you need to know right off the bat.

A brand rep receives your products for free in exchange for professional photography and promotional links back to your shop. They post on Instagram or their blog about your product. You can also pay them a pre-set amount but this depends on your deal.

A brand model receives your products for free, photographs them and then returns the products and the photographs to you. They are under no obligation to share those posts on social media. You pay them a fee for the photographs as well.

A brand enthusiast/ambassador PAYS for their products (usually at an awesome discount but never below wholesale) and then posts their photos on their blog or Instagram. They also gush about your brand on their account. You can create a special discount code for the customers they refer to you or set up a simple affiliate program. Shopify and Gumroad both have easy affiliate program set ups if that’s the route you want to take.

**NOTE** If they are making money via payment or affiliate and/or receiving free product, they must state (according to FTC rules) that the post is sponsored. This should be included in the caption in some way.

**NOTE** It is customary but not necessary to give the rep a code to share with followers/friends/family. Like a 10-15% off. This code is great way to track what rep is bringing in the most business. Some shops keep a point system, and if a rep’s code brings in X amount of revenue, the rep receives X amount of shop credit. The value for X is totally up to the shop owner (you!)

**NOTE** Last one, promise. Sometimes shops have their own definitions of a rep, ambassador, enthusiast, model, etc. Make sure you are clear when explaining what exactly you’re looking for in a rep and do not assume that the terminology is enough.

Finding a brand representative on Instagram

From this point through the rest of the post, I will only use the word “brand rep” but it can also apply to models and ambassadors.

You can secure a brand rep/model/enthusiast by putting up an image on Instagram stating that you’re looking for reps. You can use Photoshop or any graphic creation app (I love WordSwag but it’s not free). I also recommend you use these hashtags:

  • #brandrepsearch
  • #brandrep
  • #brandenthusiast
  • #brandreppin
  • #brandrepping

These were the hashtags that yielded the most results on Instagram.

In the caption of your post, you want to include who you’re looking for and what’s expected of your brand representative. Then, the interested parties would “apply” by reposting the picture and tagging your shop in it. You can see the obvious increase in viewership this produces even at this stage. You can select one or multiple (after screening them and communicating with them privately.)

I personally love the way RVDesigns and Aria Raine & Co. are both running their current searches. I recommend you see their various styles you can see their images and calls to action. Some people do short searches and some people do long term searches but I’ve seen 1-2 weeks as the average length in search in all my research.

Do you want to be an Inchworm Alley Brand Badass-ador? We are holding a Brand Rep and Enthusiast search! We’re looking for babies up to 12 months old who love our brand and want to promote our gear (unassisted sitting and standing is preferred). Moms and dads with sweet photography skills, a love for social media and a joy for snapping their little wildlings are welcome. How to enter: 1. Follow us on Instagram – @rvdesignsinc 2. Repost this pic with #inchwormalleyarmy and #brandrepsearch (do not tag @rvdesignsinc). Tell us about your babe – name, age, location and why you want to be part of our team. 3. Hashtag a max of 3 pics taken within the last 30 days from your feed with #inchwormalleyarmy. No collages with other searches, please. 4. Not required but consider tagging a few buds who may be interested in our Brand Rep and Enthusiast search. 5. No DMs or emails. Please be aware if you send a DM, you will be disqualified. Brand Reps will receive free apparel (2-4+ styles per month), after their mandatory monthly purchase. Brand Reps and Enthusiasts will receive a 30% discount and will be required to purchase at least one item per month. In exchange, you will provide high quality, crisp, unfiltered images with excellent lighting and a creative or minimal feel that make our apparel *pop*, as well as regular promotion of our products and engagement on your feed. Brand Enthusiasts may also be provided with free items after the first month. Reps and enthusiasts will also be featured on our website and other social networks and by entering our search, you agree to have your pics posted on these platforms. Search will run until Friday, July 1, 2016. Term runs from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016. Search is open worldwide (international shipping fees apply to deliveries outside of the US). #brandrepsearch #brandrep #brandreps #repsearch #babyfashion #toddlerfashion #babystyle #toddlerstyle #brandrepsearches #brand_rep_searches #brandenthusiastsearch #brandenthusiast #RVapproves

A photo posted by RVDesigns (@rvdesignsinc) on

✨It’s that time again, ya’ll! ✨ We are ready for our summer brand rep, enthusiast and fan search!! My first team was unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did to help grow my shop in just a short period of time! I’m so excited for all the new things to come this summer and can’t wait to get the summer term started! Interested in being on #teamariarayne? ✨ HOW TO ENTER: – LIKE this photo & follow me @ariarayne_andco – TAG 3 friends below that might be interested in our shop! – SHARE this photo on your page & tell us a little about your babe (age, location, why you would be a perfect fit for our team), use #ariaraynesummerteam and #brandrepsearch & then tag us IN the photo. THIS IS YOUR ENTRY! -Use #ariaraynesummerteam on ONLY 3 recent photos of your babe(s). ✨ DETAILS -Search will run from 6/08-6/29 and the new team will be announced on 6/30! The Summer Term will start on July 1st and end on October 1st. -Fans will receive a generous discount & only be required to make one purchase during the three month term – this position is great for you newbies that are just starting out in the brand rep world. There is also room for promotion at the end of your term!! -Enthusiasts will receive a generous discount and will be required to make 3 purchases. Promotion will also be a possibility at the end of the term. -Reps will receive 2-3 free bows per month in exchange for clear, high quality photos. Reps will also receive a discount for any additional purchases they would like to make during the term. -Reps, Enthusiasts & Fans will all receive a friends & family code to share with their followers! ✨ REQUIREMENTS -All profiles MUST be public during search. Private accounts will only be considered if you have a good following. -There is no age limit. Newborn to momma are all welcome! -At this time, search is only open to US residents only. ✨ As always, this is not a cute baby contest. I’m truly looking for people that have a love for our brand and are willing to help us grow! We want clear, well styled, high quality photos. I have absolutely no idea how many of each I will be selecting yet! I can’t wait to see all these adorable entries!!!💕🎉

A photo posted by aria rayne & co (@ariarayne_andco) on

 

If you’re ready to get started on your Brand Rep Search journey but feel overwhelmed with the search post, don’t you worry!

I’ve written up a Sample Brand Rep Search Script to assist your in your brand rep search on Instagram! Get it now by entering your email below. It will be delivered directly into your inbox.


Once you’ve selected your reps, I recommend you move the conversation to email because Direct Messages in Instagram can be deleted very easily (just swiping) and you want to make sure you send a simple contract (as a .pdf or .docx file) which you cannot do through Instagram.

Finding a brand representative in the Blogosphere

This is a little less straightforward and requires a bit more research but can potentially lead to even bigger conversions depending on the engagement the blogger receives regularly. This situation would entail you searching for bloggers that share a mutual target audience with you and then reaching out to them to see if:

  1. They’d be interested in representing your brand.
  2. They have an engaged following.
  3. They are awesome photographers.
  4. They get steady views on their site. (I use this website to check views but it’s also available as an extension for the Chrome browser.)

You want to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial and that you screen them well. Set up a contract and make sure everyone agrees to the terms before sending any (even discounted) product their way

Here are a few tips for your initial outreach:

  1. Introduce yourself in one or two sentences. Keep it brief but descriptive.
  2. Tell them what you like about their account (without relating it back to your products).
  3. Tell them that you’d love to have them represent as the face of your brand and ask for their email address to continue the conversation. Some may prefer chatting by phone but an email address is still crucial for record keeping and file sending.
  4. Be aware that they may have never heard of the concept of the brand rep and might need a little more explanation.

This post is probably my longest post ever on this blog so I appreciate you reading it through. I’m really excited to support you more should you be selected to join my group coaching program.

It’s the Hobby to Business 8 Week Intensive.

An 8 week long group coaching program that will meet weekly (live in a private online group) to cover these topics:

Week 1- Target Audience and Branding

Week 2- Planning your Social Media Content

Week 3- Setting up Shop, Taxes & Shipping

Week 4- Business Plan Workshop

Week 5- Email Marketing 101 (& why everyone needs to be doing it)

Week 6- Using Facebook and Pinterest Ads

Week 7- Additional Streams of Income for Your Business

Week 8- Collaboration and Joint Ventures

The doors aren’t open yet but you can get on the waitlist to be notified as details are revealed.

How to Keep Discounts From Ruining Your Handmade Business

Copy of Copy of Happy Paint Party (1)

The very first thing I want to do is to make a distinction between a promotion and a discount.

A promotion is initiated by the seller to create demand and excitement around a product.

It lowers the barrier of entry to become your customer because your item costs less. The intention of a promotion is to generate repeat business that offsets the cost of the promotion. If you’ve priced your items correctly, you’ll have the ability to temporarily lower the price of your items without pricing below your wholesale cost.

Promotion is an investment in your business if done correctly.

When you run a promotion, your goal is to have people add a non-promoted item into their order or come back in the future and be wiling to pay full price at that time. Price drops can also be used by the seller for liquidating seasonal items and that’s totally fine, just do your best to not make your work appear cheap.

Discounting, on the flip side, is initiated by the buyer in a haggling situation.

This also lowers the barrier of entry but they are just trying to save money. They don’t see it as an investment like you would with a promotion. You’ve probably experienced this at least once and it can be very stressful. They want to pay you less than your preset retail price for one valid reason or another and it can be tempting but I recommend sticking to your price because revenue is vital to business.

When I was 21, I started a cake decorating business. It was my first handmade business venture.

I had a good friend having a birthday party who was very well connected and already loved my baking. She reached out to me asking my prices and I had a moment of insecurity and excitement. I told her, “I’d love for you to promote my items, I’ll give you a discount.”

We set terms ($25 for 50 cupcakes.) I would never recommend someone sells at this price knowing what I know now, but I obviously had a lesson to learn at this time. One day before the party, she messaged me saying that she was going to need more. 10 more people than she anticipated changed their RSVP’s and so she asked me to make a centerpiece cake but told me that she couldn’t afford to spend any more money. I had already made the rest of her order so I said yes but I regret that as well.

Overall, that order cost me $40 in ingredients and packaging. I wasn’t even accounting for labor but if I was paying myself $10 per hour, The total cost to me would have been $100. She paid me $25.

I lost $75 dollars ($15 actual dollars and $60 in labor costs) on that order.

To add salt to the wound, people loved my cakes and she was very forthcoming with the amount she paid for them.

This ended up generating a string of severely underpriced orders which ultimately led to me closing my doors. All because I didn’t have the courage to stand up for my retail prices on that initial call.

I’ve since run several handmade businesses and have learned to stand my ground on my price- even on a slow month when I don’t have a lot of sales.

Here’s what I’ve done regarding discounts in my businesses:

1. I created a loyalty program that rewarded spending! If someone asks for a discount, you can say, “I don’t offer discounts but I do have a loyalty program. For ever $50 you spend, you get a $5 coupon off your next item.”

What this does is requires them to spend the full retail price while rewarding their business. It also teaches them to understand that you price your items at the place you’re going to sell them. Point blank.

2. I gave a very low cost item in addition to their order. This is something that cost me less than a dollar to make or buy. You can say, “No, I’m not offering a discount but I’ll throw in some extra goodies that you’re sure to love.”

3. I became more direct with people who were persistent! I would say, “I’m glad you want to support my business but in order to actually support my business, you’ll need to buy the products at their retail price. In order for me to continue running this business and for me to be able to continue producing these items, I can’t shortchange the costs.” It can be uncomfortable but it is so worth it!


Some things to consider:

  • When you start discounting, it becomes difficult to stop. I had to shut down my cake business because I could never recoup the costs with the low prices I was honoring.
  • Once you start discounting, people get used to that. They start telling their friends, they start sharing those prices with other people and so when people come to you, they are expecting those low prices and it becomes a huge hassle having to tell every referred customer that your prices are actually a bit higher than they previously thought.
  • Discounting hurts your current and future customers over the long term. I had many sad customers when I finally shut down my shop but those same customers were uncomfortable with me “raising” my prices. Think of all the people who never even got to try my cakes. Think of all the people who were wanting to make an order but I had already shut everything down.

The very best way for you to continue your business at a sustainable level is for you to get your pricing strategy right in the beginning. If your pricing game is weak and you’re getting hundreds of orders a month, it won’t matter. You will be working more but making less. If your prices are set strategically and with room for short promotions, that increase in sales will actually benefit you in the long run because you’re still making enough to keep your business going AND gaining new customers.

I highly recommend my Cost Analysis Workbook to get your pricing strategy set up correctly. It’s only $7 at the moment and is available for instant download. It walks you through every step of pricing and can be printed out over and over for as many products as you’d like.

3 Ways to Use Facebook to Grow Your Business

Everyone knows that Facebook is a great way to grown and maintain your business but not everyone goes about it the right way. Success in any business (but especially handmade) is contingent on strong relationships and your ability to form them. Facebook is built to facilitate relationships so that’s really handy. There are some other ways to use the features of Facebook to grow your business. I’ve listed some here.

1. Create a Facebook business page.

Why? It’s a central hub for your fans for find you. It’s crucial that you do all your business related communications from a business page. Facebook is very particular about this. It’s best to use it like a billboard. Post relevant but non-salesy posts. It’s important to check with the social media compliance rules in your company.
Bonus Tip: When choosing the communications for this Facebook page, make sure that your readers know YOU a little better after viewing it. It’s great to talk about your products but what makes you stand out is your ability to share content that your ideal customer would love!

2. Create a Facebook group for your loyal customers.

Why? It creates a space for your raving fans to find social proof. They love what you do and so do all the other people in the group. It’s validating and makes your customers feel like a part of something special. If you don’t have loyal customers yet, add your regular customers and post challenges/games that will keep them active. The name of the game here is engagement. The more engagement in the group, the more mental advertising space you and your company hold.
Bonus Tip: Host giveaways within your group that are creative and fun. Again, branding is key here. And don’t add anyone without their permission. Share the link with your customers.

3. Use Facebook Ads.

This one requires cash but can have some of the biggest results. You can make ads to attract new customers or you can target your current fans to become top of mind again. You’ll be surprised at how easy this can be but start with a very small budget and use what you know about your ideal customer to craft the perfect audience for your ad.

Bonus Tip: Might sound like a broken record here, but remaining on brand is the best way to really connect with your customers. Make sure that you’re using the same color palette that your products and website have. This will set off a trigger in your customer’s mind because they remember seeing that color combination before.

These are just three ways to use Facebook to grow your business.
-Nannette

5 Habits You Need to Ditch to Manifest Success

And what to do instead.

 

Success is a matter of habit rather than a matter of luck. If you do things that manifest success, success follows. That’s not to say that success is easy to attain. Rather, that it’s not complicated. Here are 7 habits you need to ditch in order to find success!

Complaining

This is a habit that will eat you from the inside out and the outside in. It creates an atmosphere of ungratefulness and poisons your entire mindset. Success and gratitude go hand in hand. Complaining and failure do too.

What to do instead: If there’s something you don’t like in life, change it. If you can’t change it, let it go.

Comparing

Comparing is useless for a few reasons. One reason is that your attention, your focus, is on someone else’s life, things, circumstances, etc. If your focus is there, it cannot be on your own life. It doesn’t serve you in any way to compare. Another reason comparing is the antithesis of success is that you don’t know someone’s whole story. You are comparing from the vantage point of your whole life (including your failures and incomplete projects) to their professionally edited highlight reel.

What to do instead: Set goals for yourself independent of other people’s success. Remember that someone’s success doesn’t equate to your failure.

Perfectionism

This one is a bit more underhanded and more socially acceptable. Perfectionism looks like a good thing but is actually a hinderance. Successful people know that excellence is no more important that completion. Perfectionism is insecurity in a three-piece-suit. Don’t fall for the notion that things need to be perfect, they just need to be good and they need to be done.

What to do instead: Set deadlines, set check points and stick to them. And for the love of all that is good, don’t delay in putting something out because it’s not absolutely perfect. You will delay forever.

Fear

Fear can sometimes look like avoidance, lots of non-income-generating activity and critical behavior. If you find yourself attempting to discredit people’s success (see: Comparing) or you notice that you are in a self-sabotage loop, you might be holding on to some unnecessary fear.

What to do instead: Sit in silence and examine your thoughts. Visualize yourself as successful and write down every thought that tries to tell you it in not possible. When you’re done, look at those reasons and see that they are not true. Doing this regularly will help you keep your subconscious emotions in check.

Laziness

You might be thinking, “Duh!” It’s still worth mentioning. Laziness is just not in the realm of success! Lazy people do just enough to get by. Businesses don’t arrive at success on the bare minimum. They require work beyond that. Sometimes laziness is a form of fear or even a form of perfectionism. Laziness as fear looks like “I’m scared I’ll look foolish while doing this so I won’t do this.” Laziness as perfectionism, “If I’m going to do this, it needs to be perfect and I don’t know if I can make it perfect so I won’t do this.” It’s a loop. Break it!

What to do instead: Create a habit of excellence. Always go the extra mile. Take up working out and become more disciplined. Set small and incremental goals and make sure that they are non-negotiable in your mind. Push yourself a little harder each day. Be willing to be seen in progress.

 

<h2>The amazing thing about habits is that you can change them.</h2>

They are totally within your control and that’s awesome! Ditch these habits today and within a month, you should start seeing some differences.

Share this with your friends and family who are hungry for success.

 

Nannette Minley

Three Crucial Steps to Getting the Most Done While Baby Sleeps

This one is for those of us who are mothers AND direct sellers. Too many of us leave productivity up to chance. Productivity is like some sort of muse that comes at random inexplicable times.

Create a realistic list of tasks that you can accomplish in the “typical” span of nap-time.

The number one way to feel accomplished at the end of your precious kid-free time is to check things off a to-do list. There are few things as satisfying as plopping down after having finished all the things you needed to do.

Now, not all to-do list’s are created equal.

In fact, most stink. They are unbalanced and guided mostly by anxiety. (Must get bills paid or else it’ll go to collections, for example).

I find that how you write your to-do list is more important that having written one at all.

Depending on the type of life you live, the list will be different for you but this is the formula I use: 2 business items, 2 home items, 1 self care item.

[If you’re not a businesswoman, maybe replace the business category with a project category or omit it all together.]

The business items are normally things like responding to email or working on a blog post. The home items are almost always picking up the 23467564 toys that my children keep finding and throwing all around the house. It also includes things like starting the crockpot for dinner. The self care item is either a shower, playing with my make up or even taking a snooze myself!

I find that having 5 items on my list is sufficient but my kids nap for a while and I tend to work quickly when I know what the next task is. When choosing how many items to put on your list, consider the amount of time it should take you to complete that task and give yourself a little breathing room. If your child naps for 1 hour, don’t put 15 items on your list. This is a sure way to feel totally unaccomplished at the end of nap time and that’s the exact opposite of what we are trying to do here.

Create this list in your mind as the morning progresses but jot things down on your phone or a notepad as time allows.

Prioritize that list (start with most time sensitive).

Now that your list is created, it’s time to prioritize the items on it. This is for two reasons:

A: You never know how long your tot will actually sleep. Sometimes my kids will sleep for 3 hours, and sometimes for 90 minutes, and sometimes 15.

B: So you don’t spend the whole time working on one of the tasks that could have waited a few days.

Prioritizing that list is fairly simple. I normally abide by 2 different methods of prioritizing, time-sensitivity and difficulty. If you HAVE to get a shower because you’re getting your family photos taken this afternoon, that’s at the top of the priority list because it’s definitely time-sensitive. That same shower would be near the bottom of the list any other day. If you told someone you would email them 3 days ago and you still haven’t, that’s time sensitive. On the other hand you have the “difficulty filter.” Difficulty can mean that it’s physically going to require the most energy or it’s the thing you’re dreading the most. Calling your cable provider to dispute an incorrect bill, for example, would be very difficult even though it’s just calling someone on the phone. Prioritize those tasks near the top of your list and do not skip them. After you’ve completed it, everything else is smooth sailing and really ends your work time on a positive note.

Do the list!

This one is simple enough. When your kids heads hit the pillow, you are already armed with your list and you need to jump on it right away. A common pitfall is putting the kids in bed and then collapsing on the couch to start browsing the web. Don’t let that precious time go waste. After you complete a task, take a second to indulge in the feeling of checking that item off your list. Cheer yourself on because you did it!!

Here are some bonus tips:

  1. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by things that didn’t make it onto today’s list. Your time is limited and you are doing the best you can. Give yourself a break!
  2. Stay off Facebook or whatever social networking site is your go-to when you’re bored. It’s hard to get back on task after that because there are links and notifications that will keep you occupied. Before you know it, you hear your kids waking up!
  3. Meal-prepping/ Batch-cooking is a great way to cut down the time allocated to cooking and eating your lunch. I know that sometimes lunch is my first full meal and I want it to be awesome but I need my time for other more pressing things. Preparing meals ahead of time gives me the best of both worlds! I get to eat something yummy but need only to re-heat it and eat it!
  4. Don’t wait until the kids are asleep to clean up the clutter. If your kids are old enough, incorporate tidying up into their pre-nap routine. It gives you the opportunity to teach them how to tidy up AND it takes an item off your list!

The Top 5 Reasons People Fail on Etsy

I’m sure you’ve heard this before but something like 97% of people in the small business sector fail. 97% is a BIG number but that doesn’t mean that you will fall into it. If you’re reading here, you’re already a step ahead of most of the people that never look to learn new ways to succeed, so GO YOU! Below I’ve listed some of the top reasons that people do fail in craft based businesses! Take this info and share it out to the people in your team if you want to help them avoid these oh-so-common pitfalls in our industry. Ready? Here we go!

They never brand themselves. Well, they do, but not in the best way.

When it comes to handmade sellers, the top performing shops all have one thing in common. A strong brand that’s evident through their products and social media outlets. This is one thing that really sets the pros apart from the amateurs. When someone is new to the handmade business world, they tend to post repetitively (but shyly) about their business. They stand on the products rather than building a brand around the products- and more importantly, the ideal customer.

Nothing is wrong with that but here’s what it accomplishes: Free Advertising. For who? Anybody who makes the “same” item as you.

If I hear Suzie Q word-vomiting  about how amazing her coffee scrubs are for people’s skin and how the caffeine does magic with skin cells and she never gets to why HER product is right for me, I’m only going to remember one thing. “Hm, I should look into coffee scrubs.” I’ll walk away from that conversation knowing that coffee needs to be all over my skin but I’m not really thinking about Suzie. Make sure that you don’t spend more time talking about your products features than you do connecting with who I am as a person and why I would like to be involved with your brand.

You can mention what your products do do but it’s in your best interest to spend more time talking about YOUR value proposition. What does this person gain by buying from you? Talk about that! People shy away from this because they are scared of tooting their own. Let that go. If you want to succeed in this industry you will need to let go of self-deprecation.

They never master time-management.

Time-Management isn’t this elusive thing that only super-moms can achieve. Let’s just establish that. The way to do this is fairly simple:

  1. Think of the most time-sensitive thing you need to do.
  2. Calculate how much time you need to do that task.
  3. Arrange your day so you can do that.

If you’re a mom like me, you’ll have to learn how to hack nap time to accomplish your tasks. I know that it’s so tempting to jump on Facebook or to play Candy Crush until you fall asleep but discipline is your best friend here. Dreams don’t work unless you do. Once your finances are in good shape, I also strongly recommend delegating tasks that suck up your time (like cleaning) to people who will charge a reasonable fee. This helped me a lot and has truly made a difference in my mental clarity.

They undervalue and underutilize follow-up

Following up is the simplest thing you can do that will generate income. People often forget to follow up or straight up avoid it which is just bad business. Setting up a calendar reminder to follow up with current customers is a great way to keep the money flowing. People are generally happy that you’re following up with them and your tone has a lot to do with that.

When following up with current customers, check for satisfaction! Make sure they are enjoying their products and if they aren’t, help them. Don’t become defensive if they are not totally happy with their purchase. Remain calm and offer your help. This helps with customer retention and builds so much trust.

Be creative, pleasant and non-pushy and following up will be a breeze. Also, if you haven’t followed up with someone, it is my opinion that it is never too late but take the time to rebuild a relationship if you fell totally out of contact.

They treat it like a hobby.

This one is a little double-sided. Some people really, truly want to make crafts as a hobby. That’s okay and there’s really nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is people treating their business like a hobby but becoming frustrated when it’s paying them like a hobby- AKA $0!

If you’re reading this, you probably want to be a successful handmade business owner but are maybe having a rough time. That’s okay! It’s never too late to fix this. Just decide, right now, that you will commit to treating your hobby based business like an actual business.

They never grow their list.

Your friends and family probably love you but are often times the least supportive because they feel targeted by you and being “sold.” Especially if you use terms like “Do me a favor” or “help me out.” You may get a few reluctant sales from family that way but that’s it.

Always continue to grow your list! You can do this by asking for referrals, marketing in various ways or networking online and in person. You can use the web to build an online list (this is what I teach on) or you can be super active in your community and be on top of getting people’s contact info build your list of potential buyers IRL. Either way is fine but the online route has a more passive cadence since you won’t need to be a social butterfly to rock this out.

I do want to say that you should only add people to your list that you’d actually like to work with and would actually enjoy your products (or be closely linked with someone who would love your products). Don’t waste your time getting the information from someone you don’t enjoy working with. You got into business for yourself so you could do business on your own terms so don’t feel obligated to work with every single potential customer.

Setting Yourself Apart

These are just 5 reasons why a a large majority of people in the handmade seller industry fail. You can set yourself apart by

  • building a strong brand that shows up in your products and social media,
  • keeping a consistent schedule,
  • following up,
  • being professional and
  • continuing to meet new to people.

Have anything to add? Share it in the comments below.