I have worked jobs that I pretty much hated. Okay – maybe I didn’t hate the whole thing, but there were elements of it that I loathed.
Tellingly – I never stayed in any of these jobs longer than a year. Even in my late teens/early 20s, I realised that I only have one life, and if I was going to enjoy life, I needed to enjoy the work I did.
We spend such a huge portion of our lives working. If we don’t love what we do – if it doesn’t profoundly fulfil us – that’s a huge chunk of life that we’re spending badly.
The line about ‘inner peace’ in today’s MotiBright really hit home for me. I may have been superficially happy when I was working various jobs over the years, but it’s only in hindsight – comparing how I’ve felt in the last few years being self-employed with how I felt all those years doing various ‘jobs’ – that I realise just how deeply unsatisfied and vaguely unhappy I was back then.
There truly is something profoundly, deeply satisfying about doing what you really want to be doing to earn a dollar.
Doing something you enjoy, where you feel in control. I think everyone should have the opportunity to feel this way in their life – which is why I do what I do. I want everyone to find ‘their thing’ and bring it to life.
Sure – even when you’re doing ‘your thing’ there will be stuff that you won’t love about it. Things will go wrong. Stress will happen. There will be boring bits.
But… overall? The deep and profound sense of peace and self-determination makes it all okay. Truly.
This quote is from a truly excellent article on The Holborn, written by founder of Hiut Denim Co. David Hieatt. The article – Ten Lessons from a Maker (This site/resource is no longer available) – was shared by one of my Set Up Shop students in our private class forum (thanks Rachel!) and it is a must-read for makers.
I could probably put most of the ten lessons on separate MotiBrights – but I pulled this one out because not only was it number one – it’s the very thing most makers struggle with the most when starting out.
I wrote about this topic very recently – that, when you’re starting out, marketing really must be your first priority for a LONG time. And it never ends. You’re never done marketing – it’s something you need to work on – dilligently – every. single. day.
There is no way around this. No short-cut. It is your job to tell the world about what you create, because no-one is going to do it for you.
You need to spread the word – whether that be via social media, blogging, pitching your products to blogs and other media for a feature, markets, a mailing list (This site/resource is no longer available), selling in shops – there are many ways to tell the world about what you do. But there is NO way to become successful without doing so.
Stop thinking that your only job as a maker is making things. It’s not.
If you love making things, but you don’t love (or even kinda like) the business side of running a business…. don’t start a business.
Just keep making things for the sheer love of it, and work out another way to make a dollar.
Considering last week’s MotiBright, as well as the fact that we’re launching a new C&T guide this week, (Getting Started With Social Media), I thought this was an apt quote to think on.
I’ve always tried to tell my story – and the story of my business – through my social media use. I guess I’m lucky in that it always seemed a pretty natural thing to do, so I got in on the social media bandwagon pretty early on – back in 2007/2008.
As a solo-preneur, telling your story is a pretty easy thing to do, because the story of you and the story of your business are usually pretty tightly interwoven. But why is this important to your business?
Because by telling your story, you build an emotional connection with your customers.
I’m always drawn to brands that seem really open, honest, and personable. When I buy something handmade, I love that I can picture the person who made it. That I can email them and have a real, genuine conversation with a person who actually cares about me and my happiness. That I can help someone live their dream by buying from them.
The thing is – just because you are a micro-biz does not automatically mean that you will come across this way. I’ve seen many handmade brands that are run by one person (or maybe two) that speak about themselves as though they are a large corporation.
You know: they don’t have photos of themselves or their workspace or their lives. They speak about themselves in the third person on their ‘About’ page. They use generic messages to communicate with their customers. And if they use social media, they generally use it as a broadcast medium, sending out ‘buy my stuff’ messages and not much else.
When I see this, it makes me sad. And also frustrated. I want to virtually shake that person and say ‘you are making a mistake! You’re missing out on such amazing possibilities and real, genuine connection with your customers!”
After all – why do people buy handmade?
Sure, it might be because they stumble across your product on Google and it happens to be exactly what they’re looking for. But I think that most people who buy handmade do so deliberately.
They shop on Etsy or Madeit. They visit local markets so they can buy directly from the maker. They do it because they care. They love the connection with the maker. They love that their product is one-of-a-kind in a way no factory-produced item is. They want something unique and creative and special. They love that they’re giving their hard-earned bucks to a real person rather than a faceless corporation.
They want to be part of the story. They want to feel a connection to the item and the person who made it.
THAT is why many people choose to buy handmade rather than going down to the local mall.
Blogging and social media are the channels through which hand-makers like you and I can literally capitalise on this desire. Especially those of us with an international online businesses.
99% of my customers are never going to meet me face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean they don’t know me.
If they follow my blog or my social media channels, they can get to know me pretty well!
They might know I live in the country. That I work with my husband, Nick, from a solar-powered converted shed. They know I have kitties, a slight obsession with ceramic bird ornaments, and that travel is one of my top priorities in life. I hope they know that I love what I do – I love freedom and I love helping other people work out how they can have their dream life, too, because I know how damn good it feels. That’s why Create & Thrive exists, after all.
Have you ever met someone in person that you’ve followed online, and started talking to them as if you’ve known them for years? It’s because you’ve already formed an emotional connection with them.
It’s human nature that we prefer to deal with those whom we like – those with whom we have a relationship.
As a micro-biz, social media is your golden ticket to build these relationships with past, current, and future customers.
Are you doing this already? Or is it something you need to focus on in 2014?
I believe that misunderstanding – or just not being aware – of this concept is where a lot of the controversy on pricing comes from in the handmade community.
If you’re competing on price – trying to be the lowest – then you’re really treating yourself like a commodity.
What you really need to do is to establish yourself as a brand.
People care about brands. They don’t care about commodities.
As a micro-business, you are perfectly placed to tell your story – and build a brand around that story. To link what you make to something meaningful.
This concept has lead me to totally re-write the messages I send my customers upon purchase, checkout, and when they give me feedback (more on that tomorrow) because I realised I was not telling my story in a compelling way in these basic communications.
Today’s MotiBright quote is from Bernadette’s book The Fortune Cookie Principle, which I’m reading at the moment. It’s well worth the read if you’re struggling to tell the story of your business and brand.