[53] Why You Need to Find Your Micro-Niche

Ep 53 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Your micro-niche is your super-speciality. It is the one product (or product line) that defines your business – and the one that makes you recognisable amongst your competitors.

We all begin creating because we love it – but taking that step from making for fun to making to sell changes the playing field completely.

We can’t make everything we want to all the time – we need to try and find a micro-niche. Something people want that you make really well. Something specific, that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Once you discover this micro-niche you, will find it much easier to run a profitable business.

If you are yet to find your micro-niche or are yet to consider this idea – take a listen to this podcast for ideas on how to find your own micro-niche.

 

Ep 53 quote - Jess

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • The key point here is the moment when you change from doing craft for fun to trying to sell it.
  • This ‘When parents find out their daughter makes jewelry‘ video made me laugh – I appreciate the satire, because as much as I value what I do (and what all artisans do) there is an element of truth in it.
  • ‘Growing a business is hard work, it will take a long time and you have to be patient.’ {Jess}
  • You need to get more specific with what you are making, you need to find your micro-niche.
  • ‘You want to be the master of one specific type of thing.’ {Jess}
  • Look to successful people and think about what they make. Do they have a micro-niche?
  • When you find your micro-niche you will be able to define your target market.
  • ‘Constraints are a beautiful thing when it comes to creativity.’ {Jess}
  • You are more likely to become successful with a small group of people than with everyone.
  • Remember that less is more.
  • You may have to give some stuff up – and that is ok.
  • Your micro-niche may be a theme rather than a product.
  • So, how do you figure out what your micro-niche is?
  • 1. Follow the market – what are your best sellers and why? Don’t be afraid to ask your community.
  • 2. Consider your niche market. Who are they?
  • 3. Do some research and see what your competitors are doing right and wrong.
  • ‘Your brand story is going to be incredibly powerful here.’ {Jess}
  • Finding your micro-niche may mean you need to change things, re-organise or drop products.
  • If you don’t have a micro-niche it will be incredibly hard to have a profitable business.
  • Finish this sentence: “I am the person who sells…”
  • ‘Be the one that people think of.’ {Jess}

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

Don’t Give in to Fear and Guilt

Fear and Guilt

There is this feeling that can suddenly appear when you notice someone paying attention to your work.

It is excitement that someone appreciates your hard work and skill but… it is also a feeling of fear.

Fear that they will change their mind, walk away, or make one of those comments that make you shrink back into your shell a little like “I could make that” or “that’s too expensive”.

This fear makes us feel the need to do everything in our power to please the potential customer.

Discounts, changes, or unrealistic time constraints, making us feel like we are suddenly grovelling, hoping for approval and acceptance from someone we don’t even know.

If you run a creative business you have felt this.

It is an immense pressure to put on yourself to try and please everyone.

It can’t be done. You need to take a step back and have a good hard think about how to treat customers that aren’t giving back. Because after all we are in this to work for ourselves doing what we love.

I have a good friend who is in small business and when it comes to this subject she is my biggest inspiration.

She has a large following of loyal customers she has built over the years. She also (like all of us) has the occasional hard to please, difficult, or demanding customers that no matter what are just impossible to please. And her reaction to these people who are so clearly not her ideal customer?

She lets them go.

She finds she can’t help sometimes, and so she lets the customer go, she laughs it off, and she puts her focus back on the real customers.

She feels no need to give more than she has, and she feels no guilt.

It sounds simple, but these two things can be some of the biggest challenges of running a handmade business.

There are people out there who love what you do. Find them and embrace them and simply let the others go.

They are not worth the fear and the guilt. They will never be your supporters so don’t try and convert them.

Of course kindness and understanding of all people needs to be projected and never make a potential customer feel like they aren’t valued.

Thank them for looking. You never know, if you leave a good impression they could become your ideal customer in the future.

lemon tea

To assist in this make sure you also look after your mental health to grow your courage, spend enough time with your loved ones to know you are supported, and eat a good diet to help your body deal with any stress you encounter.

You are doing this for you and you are number one.

Fear and guilt have never been on your ‘to do’ list – so remove them for good.


 

 

How to Overcome a Creative Block

Creative Block

 

We all know how hard it can be to switch on our creativity when we have so many things to think about in our daily lives.

And I’m not just talking about the business side of what we do. Rarely are any of us simply running a creative business: we are also parents, siblings, friends, employees or carers – not to mention regular, relentless day-to-day chores.

Creative block can often be caused by too much workload, stress, or simply lack of motivation.

 

Here are a few simple techniques to help you conquer creative block.

 

Do something completely different – Maybe if the creative juices aren’t flowing then you just need to trake a step back and do something completely different.

Go for a walk, cook up a feast, do some non-creative business work or even go play paintball!

Your brain may need a little rest so it is important to grant that when needed. Make sure you keep it guilt-free though – you have to actually switch off.

 

Learn to work when you aren’t feeling inspired – Sometimes just going through the motions is all we need to get things kick-started.

It’s kind of like exercis – we may not love the thought of it, but once we are out there for that jog we actually do enjoy it! (Sometimes!)

So head to your workspace and just start. Pick up whatever you are working on, set yourself a short time frame to avoid frustration, and more likely than not you will be back in the swing of things before you know it.

 

Embrace block as part of the process – I don’t actually know a single creative person who hasn’t faced creative block.

Keep in mind that is is part of what you do. Knowing its there, knowing how to best deal with it, and being aware that it will pass can actually help clear the block quicker. If there are tears, who cares? Make a cup of tea, take some time out and just know it is part of the process.

We all knew when starting our creative business that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This quote sums it up perfectly!

 

Lotta quote

 

Let your imagination run wild – Do something for you. Make art. Scribble, experiment, make mess, involve friends or the kids and just have a good old silly time!

This is like a day out for your creativity. Feed it what it needs so that it can continue to grow and flourish.

 

Talk about it – Open up about how you are feeling.

Find someone willing to sit and listen, write it down, or even talk to it. Yes that’s right, talk to your creativity block!

Why is it there? What is stopping you from being your incredible wonderful creative self that you know is there? Ask these questions out loud or on paper and then answer them.

It may sound a little silly but it may just help you find your block and begin the process of removing it.

 

Whatever you decide to do don’t let a creative block get the best of you.

 

We all know we can work through it. It could take hours or it could take days, even longer in some instances!

Look back at previous blocks to learn from the past, be aware of when you are in a creative block so you can deal with it effectively, and prepare for future blocks by staying strong and keeping positive.

You’ve got this!

 

5 Ways to Ensure Clear Communication with your Customers

clear customer communication

Thinking of our art as a business can be a challenge for some of us.

While we may be experts in our craft, we are often still learning many of the aspects of running a business – especially customer service.

It is super important to protect ourselves and our businesses. We need to keep our reputation intact. We need to be organised enough to avoid mishaps. And we need to make sure us and our customer are 100% on the same page about their order.

It’s such a compliment when someone wants to buy our work or commission a custom order or supply their retail outlet, but we can’t let emotion lead us to making a poor business decision.

As creatives we often think with our hearts first – but it is important to remember these 5 steps in order to keep your business mind ticking away when it comes to customer communication.

 

1. Keep and Save

Emails, sales, conversations, whatever has transpired between you and a customer needs to be kept or taken note of. It becomes a resource for fact checking, confirming details or even just contact details. Keep everything on file for a certain amount of time to ensure you have all information available to you if needed.

Action tip:  Keep a general folder on your computer/in your email program for all customer communications and individual ones for each commission. That way any conversations will be easy to find.

 

2. Get it in Writing

So your customer wants you to make 100 of an item? Get them to email or write the figure down so that you have it on paper.

It is so easy to confuse quantities or dollar amounts. We all mumble sometimes or hear wrong. Be sure to avoid any misunderstandings.

Action tip: After you have had a phone or face to face discussion regarding an order, a commission or a sale, send them an email outlining the details. That way they can reply with a yay or a nay and you know you are on the same page.

 

3. Always Ask

If you are unsure, ask. No one will ever be annoyed that you want to confirm details. This is just you making sure you can deliver on exactly what is wanted.

Keep communication channels open at all times, build the relationship and enjoy the customer relationship.

Action tip: Keep your customer in the know at all times, that way if they have a question they can askwhenever required. Share photos of progress on social media (unless of course it is private), email photos to them, give them a call. This way there will never be any surprises.

 

4. Don’t Over-Commit

Work out realistic time frames, costs and materials. Over-committing will only cause stress and pressure to both us and ultimately customer. If you over promise you will never get anything done!

Action tip: Have a commissions schedule. Depending on what you make they can take hours, days or weeks so have some rules about how many you do a month, or even year. Customers won’t mind being on a waiting list if they are serious.

 

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5. Avoid Disputes

If you follow all of the above tips you shouldn’t end up in any disputes. If you do – fix it immediately.

You don’t want to have to leave a bad taste with anyone when it comes to your business. There will always be someone unhappy – we can’t go our whole lives avoiding conflict but a quick resolution is best. Prioritise sorting disputes. Letting them drag on is stressful. You want to be always moving forward in your creative business.

Action tip: If you get a complaint, first things first – stop and think. Don’t jump straight back into it without taking a moment to look at it from both points of view. Draft correspondence and check before sending. We all know that non verbal communication can often be taken in the wrong tone.


 

[44] The Ins and Outs of Selling Handmade Goods Wholesale… from a Retailers Perspective

Ep 44 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Meredith Ireland runs a retail space in Tasmania promoting local makers and creatives. She is also a weaver and my right-hand gal here at Create & Thrive.

In this episode, we discuss what the process of wholesaling your products looks like from a retailer’s perspective, the do’s and don’ts of approaching a retailer, and also the reasons why retailers charge what they do.

As a maker and a retailer Meredith sees both sides of this relationship and so we discuss this and how best to go about approaching retailers with a good chance of success!

If you would like to hear what it’s like to be on the other side of the handmaker-retailer relationship, don’t miss this one.

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Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Meredith Ireland runs the retail space Old Franklin Store.
  • Meredith is a weaver and also runs weaving workshops in her retail space.
  • The decision to run weaving workshops felt natural.
  • Customers wanted more than to just buy her products, they wanted to know how and why.
  • Old Franklin Store started with only consignment based suppliers to keep start up costs low but is now moving more towards wholesale.
  • Makers are selected based not only on what Meredith likes but what fits aesthetically in the space and what doesn’t directly compete with other makers work.
  • The best way to approach a retailer is via email as turning up unannounced can be confronting for both parties and the timing will almost always be wrong.
  • Within your initial contact email make sure you include good quality photographs of your work.
  • Send a back story as an attachment to the email. This means the retailer only has to read it when they want to and gives you the opportunity to keep the body of your email short, sweet and to the point.
  • Are follow ups OK? Yes! Retailers are so busy and have so many offers coming in that it is easy to put them aside even if they are very interested.
  • Never be offended if you don’t hear back. This usually has nothing to do with you or the quality of your work.
  • ‘That first contact has to be respectful of the retailers time, feelings, and energy.’ {Jess}
  • Remember that one ‘No’ is not the end of your wholesale journey.
  • ‘Having confidence in your work and letting your work speak for itself is important.’ {Meredith}
  • Social media is one Old Franklin Store’s most effective marketing tools as well as local radio and newspapers.
  • ‘It is important to start local and grow from there.’ {Meredith}
  • The time and expenses involved with running a handmade retail space are incredible. As a supplier it is important to remember this as the reason why rates are sometimes as high as 50%.
  • A big lesson for Meredith was to ride out the hard times because they make the great times worth it.
  • If you are unsure with any aspect of packaging or displays for your retailer just ask. All will be different.
  • The relationships built with suppliers and customers have been one of the biggest rewards for Meredith.
  • Old Franklin Store focuses on promoting the maker and encourages relationships between the maker and the customer.
  • Decide prior to contacting a retailer if you will sell only wholesale or consignment or both so you can be prepared.
  • Have a basic wholesale list ready with photos and pricing information
  • Don’t be afraid to approach retail spaces and put your name out there. They can only say no.
  • ‘Keep trying until you succeed.’ {Jess}
  • You can find Meredith and Old Franklin Store at her websiteInstagram or Facebook.

Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

 

P.S. If you want to dive into the world of selling your goods to retailers, but don’t know where to start or what to do, our eCourse Wholesale Know-How is perfect for you!  Check it out here.