Build Your Own Creative Business: Q&A {Day 16}

Build Your Own Creative Business Series by Lisa Jacobs on Marketing Creativity

Welcome back for some Build Your Own Creative Business Q&A! This is {Day 16}, but you can catch up from Day 1 by clicking here. I love to talk shop, so let’s get right to it!

Saba says: I have been struggling with blogging. I have so many insightful stories/ideas to blog about, but I’m hesitant about what others would think – what if readers don’t like my topic and criticize my brand that I’ve worked so hard to start?

Thank you, Saba. As I said to your original comment, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes, but let me expand. I talked about how much I love and recommend blogging a few posts ago, and I think it’s very important to your creative business.

In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about identifying your ideal customer, and I always refer to them as “your people.” I believe that if you craft a product for a general “everybody,” you might as well make it for nobody because nothing is for everybody.

The same is true for your opinions, ideas, and insight. It won’t be for everybody, and neither is your brand. As you refine your message, you’ll tune in with your people, and they’re who matters. They want to know what you think. They care what you have to say. The rest of the world will look elsewhere, and that’s as it should be.

On identifying a role model, Knitnrun4sanity says: I make crocheted and knitted jewelry, but when I searched for my role model I mainly came up with books and patterns. Do I go down the knitted and crochet route or jewelry to find my role model?

When you have a unique niche like this, the category in which you can identify your role model actually widens rather than narrows. You’re looking for other jewelry designers with a unique niche as well. What you want to watch for is how they take their specialty craft and stand out from the crowd.

I’m an example of that because I look for people with metaphysical interests who will appreciate my jewelry. There’s a look and a style to wearing crochet or knit as jewelry. It’s your job to really tap into that. Think of your ideal customer: what does the rest of her outfit look like? Is it hippy? Vintage? What’s her attitude like? What are her interests?

Learn more about your ideal customer, and this will help you discover some bigger businesses where they shop. Figure out what jewelry they’re already wearing, and you’ll find some role models. Best of luck.

On this 31 Day series, Michelle says: When will the next day of the series be posted? Is there a specific schedule for the post, i.e. weekly, bi-weekly?

Michelle, I can’t tell you how many times this question has made me smile as I’ve planned this Q&A post. I laugh because when I originally had the idea for this series, I was in New Zealand about to move to Virginia. As is typical for me, I said to myself: “I’m moving to the other side of the planet … And I will write a post a day, for 31 days. Easy!”

Obviously (three months later), that did not happen. To answer your question, many of the posts in this series have taken an enormous amount of time and research, and the schedule was unpredictable. The earlier posts (where I write about things that I’ve been methodically doing for years) were incredibly challenging for me to write!

As you can see, now I’m more into the groove of things: marketing and business-building is my sweet spot. The series is coming more rapidly now, at about 2-3 posts per week. I’m also settled into my new home with a happy routine, which is another enormous boost in productivity. I hope to have the series completely wrapped by the end of August … but, I wouldn’t write it in stone! 😀

Thanks for the smiles, Michelle. I appreciate your question.

Katharina says: I try to market my handmade (sewn) book bags to book lovers (like I am). I only have one problem: Obviously nobody on Etsy searches for my “book bags”, because there is not really a word for it. In German we say “Buchtasche”, but a “book pouch” is not really what I sell, is it? And a “book bag” in most cases is a big rucksack for books. Do you have any suggestions how to name my bags/pouches for books? (At the moment I experiment with different product titles.)

I like this question because it brings up keywords. First of all, when you have a unique product that’s not available everywhere, I do suggest giving it a catchy name. In my last running of the Build a Better Business Creative Course, one of the members had these amazing crocheted baby booties, and the way she styled them made them look like little knit Uggs. I kept shouting at her, “Give those booties a proper name! Brand them! They’re your golden ticket.”

So, I suggest naming your product. As an American, I’d call what you have a “fabric book cover.” But, like the baby booties, I do think your product needs a branded name. Afterwards, you can still mix up the keywords you use for each listing in tags and titles (book cover, pouch, bag, protector, etc.) to catch different searches, but your branded name can grow in recognition.

Thanks for asking.

In response to my suggestions in the post, How to Sell on Etsy: 1,000 Sales in My First Year of Creative Business, Meagan says: I have a question about offering discounts with each purchase. I used to do this, but then stopped because I felt like I was losing money. I price my products for wholesale, then double them for retail in order to make enough money to save up or use for big expenses. If I’m constantly offering a good discount, then I’m losing profit and not as able to grow my business. Is my thinking off on this? I’m just wondering because I may not be looking at it from the same perspective as you are. I definitely want to reward my loyal customers and give them perks… I’m just not sure about every time.

Hi, Meagan! The discount you offer to repeat customers does not have to be huge. I get so super excited when my grocery store gives me 5% off my next order, and the last time I cashed it in, it was worth all of $3.56 (on a $70 trip). The point is that I have it and therefore, I want to spend it. As long as I have 5% off for that specific grocer, I’m not going to go anywhere else while my coupon is active.

Not every shopper cares about 5%, but those who do care about it, really care about it 🙂 Once you think of it this way, you’ll realize that some of your customers are going to toss that 5%, and others are going to really try to cash it on it. The good news is, I don’t see a scenario where the seller loses.

As loony as it sounds, I spend more to make the most of my 5% coupons. Therefore, the savers are going to revisit and spend more because you gave them a coupon. The others will return and give you the sale regardless of the 5%. Thanks for the question.

In response to my request: What Are Your Experiences in Building a Creative Business? Kate had this to say:

What made you decide to take the plunge and open your online storefront?

I couldn’t find a job in an overly crowded graphic design market near Seattle so I created my own.

How did you decide what to name your business?

My business name was named after my studio in the woods bear Seattle, it has a round window through which I can see the moon and cedars at night hence CedarMoon – one word. My brand that I am excited about is Flamingo Incognito which named itself about one minute after I decided to do it. The CedarMoon Esty shop was the logical place to start selling pink, plastic flamingos that are …PrestO ChangO… NOT pink, plastic flamingo anymore. They have undergone a complete identity make-over with used, recycled, upcycled parts, paper mache and weather resistant glues and paint. They have become everything from Steampunks to Dragons to seahorses (and horses) and even cupcakes.

What were your biggest mistakes?

Not doing clean bookkeeping right from the start. I didn’t think it would be hard to keep track of just a few Flamingo Incognitos…I was wrong and now I’m in something of a muddle with a bag of receipts and an old version of Excel. Now I’m getting an order a day and even though they only take about 4 hours to make, there is a considerable amount of waiting for paint and glue to dry before continuing on to the next step. Maybe one of my Flamingo Incognito should be an accountant-mingo. I am swamped and not even able to update my blog or clean my studio which now looks like a tornado-mingo hit it.

Who is your business role model?

My husband and I have had an editing, writing and graphic design business together…at a home office…for 25+ years…and we are still married. He’s a technical editor/writer, I was/am the graphic designer (he files, I pile) I learned a lot about marketing from my clients and their businesses by osmosis.

Do you strongly agree or disagree with anything I’ve said so far (for example, that a crowded marketplace is a good thing)? Let’s discuss!

A crowded marketplace does increase competition and hopefully your ‘cream’ will rise to the top. But I have discovered that creativity is key. Creative presentation, creative marketing, a creative brand and foremost a creative product is what creates sales. People like something new but not too new to be threatening and not so creative as to be really weird. I call them “safe” creative products.
Be different enough to stand out and still fit into an ordinary ‘normal’ life style that appreciates different but doesn’t brand the new owner of that product as too bizarre, scary, nuts or eccentric It won’t sell if the reaction is, “Please, please Mom, hide that when Jessie (or grandmother) comes over.”

Kate – I married my left brain – Higgins
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CedarMoon (home of Flamingo Incognitos!)
Blog: http://kathleenhiggins.blogspot.com/
Illustration site (still in progress…but hey, I built it myself!):
http://www.cedarmoonstudio.com/

 Thanks, Kate! Very cool 🙂

Speaking of Q&A, starting your own FAQ page or doing a Q&A blog post with your customers is a great way to encourage a discussion. They’re often some of my favorite articles to write. Thanks again for the submissions. Until next time~

P.S. In honor of the 31 days to Build Your Own Creative Business Series, I’m offering my complete business-boosting e-program, Shop Fundamentals ($57) for $31 while it runs! Click here to learn more.

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