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finding your voice

Do You Struggle Blogging For Your Business?

coffee

Do you blog for your business? Do you find it exciting or daunting? Or both? I fall into the both category. Many of our posts here on Handmade Success are written by guest contributors; so when it is my turn to write a post I often get nervous about whether or not it is going to be received as well as our guest posts. Here are a couple of things that have helped me write posts that create a connection:

1. Share what you love:

Any time I find an e-course or links I love that I want to share I always pause and wonder if anyone else wants to hear about it. I push aside any doubt (difficult but rewarding!). Then I write what I love about it and why I wanted to share it. Every time I get a warm and enthusiastic response. People love discovering new ideas, items and classes so share away! This can even include your own work. Be proud!

2. Be vulnerable:

This one can be challenging but can ultimately help you make strong connections. In the past year, I have lost my husband’s grandmother, moved across country and started my boys in 3 new schools. Every time I shared on the blog how I was struggling with time, energy or emotions it was received with a tremendous amount of love and support. I also discovered that many of you were going through similar experiences. It made me feel less alone and more connected. Don’t worry about looking perfect. More people will relate to the real you.

3. Share what works for you:

Last year I shared my new approach of reaching my goals on the blog and that post got some of most comments ever. I also learned more about my readers’ approaches to goal setting from the comments which in turn helped me. People love learning about something that you have tried and found to make your life easier or better. This could be a technique related to your craft, this could be a way to simplify shipping or something not specifically related to your business but that benefits your life in general. We want to know about it!

Start with a piece of paper to jot down ideas or start bookmarking or pinning things you want to share. Soon enough you will be overflowing with ideas. After that, just be yourself. The right people will connect with you and you will then be able to grow more than your business, you will also grow your group of friends and supporters!

Follow along…
Today’s post is part of the series called Branding, Blogging & Social Media for the Handmade Business. For this week, fellow creatives will be sharing information for handmade businesses to succeed. You can follow along and get more details on the blog series here. Participating bloggers include: Best2KeepitSimpleStudioMMEHandmade Success & again Best2KeepitSimple.

How to Find Your Voice As a Business Owner

blogplannerkitBlog planner kit from Eva Fer-Per Shop

When you’re working through the first few years of your business, you have lots of things to worry about. How to pay the bills, handle taxes, and get your shop up and running. How to find customers, keep customers, and make all those customers exceedingly happy. How to balance your business life with your personal life, and vice versa. How to find time to eat, shower, and otherwise care for yourself and your family.

It’s no surprise that finding your voice as a business owner — as in, expressing who you are and what you do in the most unique way possible — falls through the cracks.

You market the way everyone else is marketing and you keep up with your responsibilities. You have a blog and you post to it occasionally. Maybe you sell ad space, maybe you invite guest bloggers…only having a blog doesn’t really light you up, so it’s a low priority.

Consider — just for a moment — that writing and expressing yourself in a completely transparent way could be the key to increasing your income without putting any more effort into your business.

 

Here are three blog post types that mean you’ll increase reader engagement while drawing those who love you even closer into your fold.

  • Voicefinder #1: Express your opinions.

You could keep talking about the latest seasonal stripes and patterns if you’ve got a fashion shop online. Or, you could strike a nerve. You could start writing about trends that make you crazy (we all know some trends are just plain HIDEOUS) or trends that make you happy to be alive. You could push the envelope of what’s possible, talking about how to choose investment pieces that AREN’T trendy to layer in with the Andy-Warhol-meets-Kate-Spade-meets-skateboarder look that’s coming into season for the next 13 minutes.

The more useful ideas and articles you share with your community, the more your business will grow. What comes easily to you doesn’t necessarily come easily to others, so start with an article answering a question that you’re commonly asked.

  • Voicefinder #2: Express a secret, or at least something you would normally keep hidden.

Often, the things that are the most personal are also the most universal. Maybe you secretly hate having to pay for shipping, or you can’t stand shops that never have sales (I mean, don’t we deserve a discount every now and again?), or you’d really like to start changing the world but you aren’t sure just how to start.

We think we have to have it all figured out before we say it to the world — when in truth, our uncertainty is universal. Ask for feedback, ask for help, ask for opinions. It means your readers will help you shape your business — and then buy what they’ve helped to shape. Modcloth does this exceptionally well with their Be the Buyer feature. (No reason you can’t have your own!)

  • Voicefinder #3: Let go of what it means to be “professional.”

We’ve all been taught that swearing isn’t allowed, that talking about religion or politics isn’t good for business, and that we mustn’t offend anyone if we want to get the most customers possible.

Bullshit.

The more we express who we are, without trying to be someone else, the closer we come to the hearts of the people who will become our biggest fans.

If you’ve created a line of pro-choice shirts, there’s no way to skirt the issue of politics. If you swear like a sailor, whitewashing your shop will only make those who meet you in person wonder what the hell happened!

One of my most popular articles about pricing involves a hooker and some inappropriate actions — it gets the point across, makes people laugh, and teaches, too — all those things I try to do in my business.

In the coming week, I dare you to be YOU in your business communication.

Use one of the three options listed — express a strong opinion, express a secret, or let go of what it means to be “professional” — to start breaking out of your own mold.

When you’ve completed this exercise, post a link to your goodies in the comments! Let others see your boldness and channel some of it for their own. I’d love to see Handmade Success readers kicking ass and taking names in this department!

kristenkbiowashi

Kristen Kalp — Brand Camp

Kristen Kalp is a (ghost)writer who believes people should have fun being in business.  She blogs at Brand Camp for like-minded folks.

What will you create for 2013?

2013 Diary from Greengrass

January is a great time to make a fresh start. If you haven’t already considered what you would like to accomplish this year, it’s not too late! 2013 is yours to mold.

Here are a few things NOT to worry about:

  • You have too many ideas, and you don’t know where to start.

Pitfall number one! The key here is to choose one idea and start working with it. What needs to be created will take shape.

As you’re working, another idea might take priority over the project you started, and that’s okay. It’s all in the spirit of progress. Write your ideas down on paper, pick the one you feel needs to be done first, and then number the order in which you think the others should follow. Remember to keep that plan fluid, let your most pressing creations take priority, and soon you’ll know which one to complete first.

  • You might fail. 

You could dance with potential failure for the rest of your life, and I could pull 8,000 inspirational quotes right here about why going for broke is better than giving up on your dreams. I’ve personally made a lot of mistakes, and I’ve seen a lot of failure. I also live an exceptional lifestyle: I get paid to do what I love to do, and I work from home. I’m able to create a flexible business schedule around my number one priority, which is my family. The reward always outweighed the risk.

The thought of failure now reminds me of this Pinterest pin. I’ve cried like the girl in that picture before, and it’s such a real and vulnerable moment; it’s sort of gooey sweet. Moments of rejection are an absolute prerequisite to moments of unadulterated triumph and elation.

Successful big leaps are the result of numerous missed attempts. Enjoy every part of your journey, and relish in those gooey sweet, vulnerable fails. Each one of them is making your story that much better: you’re writing the kind of tale that will give the room chills when you tell it.

  • You might succeed. 

Some artisans are paralyzed by the idea of opening a shop and being inundated with orders, dealing with the sudden popularity that comes with listing your products online for the world to see. Everyone will see their work! How will they keep up with the demand? The rest of us are smiling at the naivety of that idea, because we’ve all been humbled by it. Let me tell you, dear friend, that’s just not how it works.

You’re only ever given as much as you can handle. I used to wish for thousands of orders … when I had less than 30 items in stock. Last year, I took two wholesale orders (100 bracelets each), and it’s just too much for me to handle while I’m running an online store (the Energy Shop) and blogging.

There will be space in your schedule in the beginning, and it’s there for a reason. Use it to grow into the success you wish to become.

Share Your Gifts

Make 2013 the year that you share your gifts with the world. Until recently, when I thought of “God-given talent,” I imagined a singer with an amazing voice. I’ve always admired the people who were born into such voices because, no matter what I do, my voice will never sing like that.

I realized that while singing is not my talent, I am just as amazing at my own thing as great singers are at singing. I think we’re all made to be brilliant at something, and it’s often a greatness we don’t even realize we’re creating. I just finished recording an interview with the amazing Leonie Dawson, and she reaffirmed my newfound belief when she said:

“I believe that every single soul has miracles inside them waiting to be birthed, and all we need to do is choose which miracles we’re ready to birth right now.”

I think that, more often than not, people lose their way. We’re steered in another direction, or we stubbornly try to do what we think we should be doing, and we ignore our calling. People don’t always go inward to find their true north. Oftentimes, we try to think about what would be right, rather than do what feels good. And more often than not, thinking and trying are the main ingredients of an unhappy life.

I have a talent for inner-expression. Wherever I go, I imagine how everyone else is feeling. I’m very tuned into how I’m feeling. I mirror moods. I cry easily: I shed tears through arguments, songs I love, football games (or, winning moments in general), prayer, laughter, and when I see babies being born on TV. Events, people, and nature move me; I care very deeply about the the things I care about. And I can’t not process my feelings.

One of the things that I care very deeply about is you. I love that you’re putting yourself out there, taking a chance, and exploring your true potential. I love that you create because I really love creators. I think we are all, each one of us, put on this planet to create and play and explore this beautiful playground of Life.

I want to help you showcase your unique talent and birth your miracles in 2013. I want your spirited creativity to take center stage. It’s time, and this is going to be your year.

May your 2013 be filled to the brim with love, laughter, gratitude, spirit, and prosperity! Until next time~

Lisa Jacobs — Marketing Creativity

Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She leads group webinar programs and offers one-on-one coaching designed to help you get paid to be … you.

Why Being Genuine Matters

When it comes to selling and promoting our products, we are often told to “be genuine.” Or in other words, “be yourself.” An empty cliche, right? Well… not necessarily. It IS important to come across as “real” to your audience. Whenever you are trying to market yourself, your services, or your products, it makes a vital difference in how you are perceived by your audience. When people find you believable, they will also perceive you (and what you are selling) as trustworthy. Trust on the internet is vital to sales on the internet. No one wants to purchase anything they are unsure about.

How to Keep it Real:

1. Use your own voice

Whether you are writing a blog post, product description, or Facebook update – stick to your voice. Voice can be determined by the words you choose, the length of your paragraphs and sentences, and the comparisons you like to make. You want your audience to be able to tell it’s YOU on the other end of that latest tweet, blog comment, or interview response as soon as they read it.

Two very different voices saying basically the same thing:
200 treasures now listed in my online Etsy shop. This is a positively splendid thing!

Finally reached 200 Etsy listings! Holy crap that took for frikin’ EVER! (Guess who needs a drink?!)

2. Refer to your own experiences

If you’re going to write a blog post about why someone should do something, then it helps if you have had some personal experience in the matter. For example, not having had any children of my own yet, it would be pretty far-fetched for anyone to think of me as an authoritarian voice on how to handle going into labor. (Unless I was a doctor or something, but you get the idea.) Your point is much more hard-hitting when you are writing from personal experience. It’s worth a lot more to my readers when I tell them that listing more items in their Etsy shops will get them more sales, because it has helped me, versus because I think it might even though I haven’t tried it yet. Advice without experience feels empty and flawed, but advice backed up with experience and recollection of that experience is trustworthy.

3. Show your scars

Nobody is perfect. No business is perfect. Sometimes that “experience” mentioned in (2) comes from messing up, and learning from your mistakes. However, you will gain trust by confronting those mistakes head-on, and letting your audience know how well you deal with them to set things right. Maybe this consists of a Facebook update letting your customers know that even though you do your best to package your items, you’ll offer a full refund to anyone who receives a broken item, because you never know. Or perhaps it’s a blog post about some of the obvious mistakes you were making when you first started selling online (like undercharging, and losing money in the long run), but what steps you’ve taken to overcome those mistakes.


Sometimes sellers are afraid to be themselves, thinking their own personalities will “taint” the professionalism of their business. This is so far from true. Especially in the handmade business, a huge part of what you are selling is the handmade by YOU part. People want to know just as much about the creator as the created item, and will feel more inclined towards your items if they can relate to your personality. So don’t be afraid to add your own voice, experiences, and lessons learned while conducting your online marketing. Everyone prefers to deal with a real person over an automated robot.

 

Megan Petersen — Megan’s Beaded Designs

Megan Petersen is a graphic designer by day, and runs the Etsy shops MegansBeadedDesigns.etsy.com and Glamour365.etsy.com by evening and weekends. She loves both the creative and marketing side of selling her handmade jewelry, and is an avid blogger at megandbeadeddesigns.wordpress.com.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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How to Sky Rocket Your Blog?

Our second guest post this week is from the adorable Mayi Carles and it continues the theme of improving your blog. After reading her post here, go have fun getting lost in her blog heartmade. It is filled with inspiration, advice, printables, diy, podcasts and tons of pretty images.  So, how do you sky rocket your blog?

DIY Recycling Crayons on heartmade

That’s a good question.

I gotta be honest with you, growing my own blog is something that I’m constantly working on + tweaking.

If a had it down to perfect science, I’d probably have to charge you a million dollars to read this post. But since I’m still working on constructing that magic overnight success pill (wink), I’ll have to settle for Plan B: share with you the things that I know maximized my blog’s growth potential. I hope they give you the kick in the pants you need to come up with your own actionable blogosphere domination blueprint.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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