If you’re waiting to be discovered, try this in the meantime. : The Maker's Business Toolkit

If you’re waiting to be discovered, try this in the meantime.

I’m willing to bet that, whether you’ve been selling what you make for years or for just a very short period of time, at one point you landed a magazine feature, or you bought some advertising, or you got accepted into a gallery, or your product got tweeted or Instagrammed by a celebrity, or you bought a stand at a big event and you thought to yourself: “This is going to be the thing that changes everything. This is how I’m going to get discovered”

I’m also willing to bet that for 99% of us, that didn’t happen. Maybe you got a nice boost in sales. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you got a bit of recognition for a while. Maybe you didn’t.

Maybe you went straight off in search of the next “big opportunity” or maybe you felt seriously depressed and disappointed. Or maybe this opportunity was a serious financial outlay and things were tough for quite some time because of it.

We all want to believe that we’ll be “discovered” but the truth is that there is almost never one big event that changes everything

Looking at other people’s lives and careers from the outside we might think so, but we never really know what goes on behind the scenes and how much work has gone into that “overnight success.”

Not only is it an illusion, but it’s a dangerous belief for us to hang on to.

It makes us afraid to turn down opportunities, even if we have doubts, because this might be “the one.” And it also makes us vulnerable to advertising salespeople who are very aware of this mindset and will often prey on it.

We’re not silly, or naive, or crap at business so why do we keep risking so much when common sense tells us that our success doesn’t come down to whether or not we do one big event or take out one magazine advert? is it FOMO? Maybe. Is it fear generally? Possibly.

I’ve been wondering about it for a while and I think this is the answer.

I think we all have this dream (consciously or not) that one day someone else will take all of the sales and marketing off our hands and we will be able to just make stuff all day.

It’s what all of us want.

We got into this because we love making our work. I’m pretty sure there isn’t anyone alive who became a maker because they love business and they chose to sell handmade goods just because they thought they could. That person is off selling weight loss pills or internet marketing training.

Following what we love and living our dream has got us this far, which incidentally is further than the majority of people ever get. But the thing is that we HAVE to be able to make the best decisions for our businesses too. We can’t just dream our way into a thriving business.

This means that we have to let go of waiting for a knight in shining armour to come and do all of our marketing for us. But we don’t have to let go of that desire to get off the computer and back into the studio.

We just have to find a way of actively creating the circumstances for us to do it, rather than hoping and wishing that an opportunity will show up.

So what can we do?

Here are five tips for spending less time on marketing, without waiting to be discovered.

1. Automate some of your marketing using templates and email sequences.

Marketing doesn’t have to take as much time as it often does. Creating repeatable sequences of emails can mean that our marketing is working for us even when we’re busy elsewhere.

Create a sequence for new signups to your email newsletter. Create a sequence for offering a discount to your customers on their birthday. Create a sequence for your Christmas marketing well in advance so that you’re not worrying about sending emails at your busiest time of the year.

For anything that you do regularly, create a template and use it. Creating everything from scratch is very time consuming. If the software you’re using to create graphics for your business allows you to save your fonts and brand colours for quick and easy access, make sure you take advantage of it.

How much time have you spent googling the ideal pixel dimensions for a Facebook post or looking up the HEX code for your brand colours? I know I’ve spent more time on that than I want to. Those minutes all add up to more stress, more frustration and less time making.

2. Create Processes for your Business

You can even take it further and create processes for things you do regularly in your business.

For example, I have a checklist for my monthly accounts. It includes everything I need to do, and the order I need to do it in. It has links to all of the documents I need so I don’t spend any extra time searching through my files.

It sounds like it wouldn’t save a lot of time just to not have to open up Google Docs and search for my document but actually it speeds things up quite a lot. It also means that I don’t forget anything.

I don’t know about you but in those moments when I’m thinking “what was I supposed to be doing next?” I’m on Facebook before I know it. Having a checklist to follow stops that wasted time.

3. Batch it.

It’s quicker to write five blog posts all at once than it is to do them one at a time because you get into a kind of rhythm.

It’s quicker to write all of your Christmas marketing emails in one go, and it helps you make them into a coherent sequence.

If you make quote images for social media, it’s quicker to do all of those in one go.

Our brain is easily distracted in the moments where we switch tasks and a lot of time gets wasted with distraction and getting back up to speed.

And how great would it feel to know that all of your blogging for the next few weeks is taken care of?

4. Set yourself targets

Do you have a goal for how many potential new wholesale customers you want to reach out to this month?

How about the number of magazines you’d like to approach about being featured?

Do you have a plan for how you’re going to promote your products to your customers?

How about what you’re going to do to try to find new customers?

Taking small actions each month means that you are constantly searching for leads and prospects for help to grow your business. Something is always in the pipeline and this is so much better than not doing any outreach at all for months and then panicking because your sales are slowing and contacting 50 galleries in a month.

When your marketing efforts are feast or famines, your sales start to reflect that too. You get overwhelmed by work and orders, so you stop marketing while you catch up. Eventually that work is done and you now have nothing coming in, and the cycle repeats itself.

Set yourself achievable targets for your marketing and customer outreach and make sure it gets done, so that you can get back into the studio.

5. Do One Thing At a Time

As much as possible, try and keep your marketing separate from your making.

This is another form of “batching” – keeping similar tasks together so that you don’t lose momentum as you switch from one type of work to anotherr.

Marketing can also be creative and should be, but it definitely requires a different kind of creativity to your making.

Maybe you can have specific days of the week for your marketing and for your making. Maybe you can do admin work in the mornings and making in the afternoons or vice versa.

Try different things out and find which works best for you. But try to complete one task before you get started on another as this is how you make progress on your projects and avoid having a bunch of half finished experiments laying around.

All of this seems like common sense but don’t confuse knowing something with actually putting it into practice.

If knowing was enough, we’d all be living our dreams.

The knowing is the easy part, the action is the hard part. It all comes down to just a little organization.

I'm Nicola Taylor

I’m the founder of Maker’s Business Toolkit and I help artists, makers, and handmade business owners to make more money with less stress.

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