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Dream Clients – The ULTIMATE Guide to Defining Your Target Audience (& Approaching Them!)

Defining your target audience can seem like a pretty daunting task. I mean, as artists, makers & small business owners, we want EVERYONE to want to buy our stuff. But when we are marketing to everyone, we are wasting time, energy and resources because (hard truth) only a tiny portion of the general populace are actually the demographic who would purchase products from us.  I have revised and condensed my series on identifying your target audience, their interests, personality traits, online habits & how to approach them to help makers & shop owners narrow down their niche so you can use your time spent marketing & your advertising budget into a powerhouse avenue for generating sales!

Commonly, when I mention finding your target audience, people reply with “But I sell necklaces, everyone wears necklaces” or something along those lines. 1. Sorry, but that is not true. 2. Defining your dream clients does not mean that if you currently sell products to people in their twenties AND their seventies that you would no longer be selling to them – it means that you are identifying the social class, personality & interests of the people you want to buy from you, people who are influential about products similar to yours, so that you can maximize your marketing to bring in even more sales beyond the sales you are already generating. There’s a saying that goes: If you are marketing to everyone, you are marketing to no one. However – if you are speaking to just the right people, in just the right way, at just the right time, imagine the possibilities! Increased engagement on social media posts, less money spent advertising because your approach is hitting it just right, every single time, and more sales.

That is what identifying & marketing to your dream client is all about!

For instance, I make toy storage solutions and plush toys. Using the market to everyone concept, I could ask all my friends to like my Facebook page & follow me on Twitter & Instagram, but let’s be real – do I really think that my boyfriend’s 24 year old brother or people that are his age/gender has any interest in my products, would buy them regularly & share them with their friends? Would those single male friends also buy my kid’s toys? What about my single female friends who have no desire to have children? Or what about all those people in the craft forums I’m a part of? Do you really think that other makers are my target audience for handmade toys? Do you really think if I get any of those people to like my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram, it will result in more sales? A few, perhaps. Maybe even a dozen! But not as many as if I was marketing my brightly colored, ecofriendly toy storage solutions specifically to young moms who have eclectic tastes & want sustainable, ecological toy storage solutions & toys for their small children, don’t ya think?

So, as you can see, while you may make sales to a few people who aren’t in your target audience, if you identify and market specifically to the people most likely to buy & share your products, you have a much higher ROI (return on investment). In this post, you will find a series of questions, printable worksheets & topics to research to help you through the process of seeing better results through your marketing efforts. Each step is integral to really begin to understand how your target audience views & consumes products – and how to approach them so that they want to buy YOUR products. So grab a cup of coffee, a note book, dive in & get ready to launch your business into Success mode!

dreamclients

Let’s start at base one – identifying your target audience, AKA, your dream clients. Dream clients are popular web-celeb personalities you would LOVE to see sharing your products, raving about them to their followers. Think of three popular influencers that you want to buy your products.

Got a visual? That is who this series is about reaching. And in those post, we will be focused on identifying them, getting to know them, figuring out when they are online, and learning how to approach them.

When you think about the most popular, influential people you know that you would love to see sharing your products on social media…..

Are they male or female? 

What is their style like?

How old are they?

What is their favorite social media platform?

Do they live in the suburbs, city or country? In a house or apartment? 

What kind of hobbies do they have? 

What sort of job do they have?

What is their average income like? 

Are they blissfully single, or happily married? 

If neither, are they planning a wedding?

Are they parents? 

If yes, are they natural parents?  

Do they have pets? 

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Remember, this is not about your current clientele but your DREAM clients. The most influential people you can think of that you want to see buying, using, wearing, and sharing your products! 

Expand on as many questions as you can – the more you can identify about your target audience, the easier it will be to learn to market to them! If they are parents, how many kids do you think they have? If they live in the city in an apartment, how do they decorate & use their space? If they are trendy, describe how you imagine their personal style.

You can either print out this worksheet, or fill out the questions in your notebook – whatever works!

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Download this printable here

How to use this worksheet:

Again, this is not designed to analyze your current customers but to help you identify & define your target audience. These are the most popular & influential people you can think of that you would want to buy & showcase your products on social media.

Parts 1-3 help you identify their style and how your brand & products fits into their life by helping you determine where they live, how your products fit into that space, and why they would like your stuff to begin with. No matter what you make, your dream client has to want to bring it into their home/life, or they won’t. It’s as simple as that. By identifying where & how they live, how they decorate & use their space and how your products fit into life, you have a better chance at staging photos & writing copy that translates into sales. A dream client who has a very bohemian vibe & all natural, sustainably sourced furniture will probably not be attracted to monochrome, ultra modern art in your product photos for your dream catchers or throw pillows. Make sense?

Parts 4-6 help you define your dream client’s interests and spending habits, as well as what sort of marketing tactics they are attracted to. Understanding your dream clients interests and consumption habits help you understand how they respond to marketing from larger industries & how your products fit into their consumption habits. Did your dream clients rush to Starbucks for the limited edition Unicorn Frappe? Or do they take moody shots of their home brewed coffee overlooking the lake they live by? This knowledge helps you analyze your own social media and marketing habits and alter them to appeal to your dream clients better.

Parts 7-9 help you to understand what type of content your dream client likes on social media. This is SO important – knowing what type of content your audience enjoys, actively pursues & shares is the keystone to how your social media campaigns should be administered, from photo styling to product modeling to how you talk about your products – recognizing the type of content your dream clients actually consume and respond to will help you create a killer social media campaign!

Try to think of at least three-four people to put on this worksheet that your target audience follows. It can be celebrities, indie brands, bloggers. Who already has your dream clients flocking to them for products or advice? Now, determine why they would follow those four people. Is it because they are all funny? Inspiring? Spiritual? Are they all kids clothing designers & parenting lifestyle bloggers? Are they all trendy moms? Photographers? What is it about these people your dream client loves? And of course – does your dream client share content from these people? By sharing, I mean do they buy their products and share them modeled in their home/on their bodies? Do they repost their images or recommend people read the blog?
Understanding what sort of content your dream client is looking for & how you can produce similar content that is unique to your brand is essential to making sure you are “on point” with your marketing. Explore the people you think your dream client would follow. Look at this objectively – do not try to find similarities between the people your dream clients follow and you.Look for the differences. Learn from them. Look at how they style their images & present themselves & their brands, if they are businesses. You use this knowledge from this worksheet to create social media feeds, take product photos, write copy & create ads that appeal to your dream clients.

Now we are going to explore how to use this information so that we can assess where online & offline our dream clients are hanging out! I will be sharing my responses along with some ideas of how to use this information to find your dream clients.

Here is the low down on my dream client for luanded.com, using the worksheet abovet:

My dream clients probably live in the suburbs in a house. They would use a Mon-stor in their kid’s room for fun & convenient storage. Their decorating style is eclectic, colorful & fun, most pieces probably upcycled or from IKEA or a thrift store, so they are probably attracted to my products because they are bright, functional and sustainably made with textile discards and upcycled materials! 

My dream client likes kids fashion, coffee, natural parenting & Instagram-ing all the cute stuff their kiddos do, so they probably also breastfeed and cloth diaper &  like blogging,  sharing brands they like on social media, & baby wearing. If they live in a house in the suburbs they probably like to shop at Target & thrift stores. They are probably total Starbucks-aholics or drink lots of coffee at home. 

They probably follow BabyJives, Opposite of Far &  Bamboletta because their photos are so beautifully styled & reminiscent of a beautiful childhood & gentle parenting. They share their content because they are influential in the baby/kid industry & want to communicate their parenting ideals & tastes with their friends & followers.

Let’s explore my dream clients – they are natural parents with eclectic style. So they probably frequent parenting forums, breastfeeding advocacy blogs, cloth diaper supplier websites, local parenting blogs/publications & event guides, natural living and unschooling/homeschooling forums/blog/websites. Acknowledging my dream client’s natural parenting interests helps me know I need focus my social media campaign to focus on the ecofriendly aspect of my products; it also is beneficial for many other reasons, including deciding which blogs & brand reps to partner with, which stores my products would be best represented in & where I should invest my hard earned marketing dollars to the get most bang for my buck. Using the information from the worksheet, here is 5 ways I could reach my dream clients where they are:

 

  • Paid ads on popular sites my dream clients frequent.
  • Guest posting on blogs my dream clients read.
  • Offering products for reviews on natural parenting blogs.
  • Sponsoring giveaways that these sites host on social media.
  • Become an active member of the forums & network with fellow parents.

 

Since I know my dream clients are into Instagram-ing every cute thing their kiddo does, I know where I need to focus the majority of my social media efforts in order to get the best impact, too! I also know that they love beautiful, well lit, clutter free images & gentle marketing tactics based on where they shop & who they follow on social media.

By knowing who your dream client is & what their interests and hobbies are, you are able to organically connect with your target audience in what I like to call their “natural environment”. This means that the exposure to your products is not forced-meaning you are not actively sharing a link to purchase with your dream clients but rather speaking to them about their interests.

Marketing to everyone – “This pencil case is perfect for back to school! *link*”

Interacting authentically in your dream clients “natural environment” –  “Is anyone else finished back to school shopping? Here are the school supplies for my kids!” with a photo of a backpack, YOUR pencil case, folders & other accessories where you share your personal experience, and you can write about how fun it was to make the pencil case and how much your kid loves it.

See the difference in how you approach someone in an organic way vs pushy marketing? Organic, authentic connection with dream clients increases engagement on social media posts, on forum threads & invites conversations. Posting a statement about your product and a link is like hitting a wall.

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Knowing when your dream clients are online gives you a powerful upperhand on the market – you can cater your social media postings & paid ads to exactly the right time for maximum exposure, meaning that you get better results with less effort – so you can spend less time at a computer & more time making awesome things! Yay!

 

Using the worksheet below, fill in the times for each part of the day to the best of your knowledge about your dream client. Do not pull numbers from your current statistics – you are trying to determine when your dream clients will be online to maximize future exposure of your shop. While your current clients are incredibly valuable, maximizing your marketing to your dream client means increased exposure to people who are the most likely to buy & share your products with others, meaning more sales.

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Download printable worksheet here

Note: Even if your dream clients don’t have a day job or go to school, try to use this work sheet to pen in what they would be doing through the day & evening – if they are stay at home moms, they are probably getting kids up, fed, dressed, ready for school, cleaning house, doing laundry, running errands and so forth. Use this worksheet however you need to outline the day of your dream client!

First things first, when does your dream client wake up? What is the first thing they do after they wake up? Check Instagram? Read their emails? Brew coffee & take a shower? Get the kids up and ready for school? Getting ready for work? Heading to the gym?

Know when they wake up & their morning routine gives you insight on when to post content that will resonate with their routine – for instance, if your dream client is a mom who wakes up around 7am & rushes around getting the kids ready for school and on the bus, posting a product photo on Instagram at as your first post doesn’t make much sense. However, if you post a picture of your coffee & ask if any other moms out there can relate to the Monday morning blues around 8am, you’re bound to get a much better response to your content. If the first thing they do is roll over and check their emails, maybe a newsletter that goes out first thing in the morning to give them some happy content to wake up to would be a good way to reach them. Make sense?

Another example – say your dream client is a young professional who works in an office in the city and has to be at work by 8am. Odds are they aren’t checking social media right out of bed – they brewing coffee, making breakfast, showering, getting dressed, finishing up last minute projects and getting out the door. If your dream clients are hustling to get work done in the morning, don’t waste that time marketing to empty air.

Knowing when they leave for work, school or are getting the kiddos off to school is super important – if your dream clients have a day job or go to school, and they’ll be in transit & getting started on their day between 8-10am, that means you can better utilize that time to set up a creative morning routine for yourself than plastered to your computer trying to reach people who aren’t there.

*Bonus tip: If your dream client spends a lot of time jogging, at the gym or in transit in the mornings, you could consider setting up playlists on Spotify & sharing them with your audience, or maybe consider a podcast talking about topics that you & your dream clients have in common. (Abby Glassenberg has a wonderful podcast that speaks directly to her dream clients & allows her to connect with them even when they are on the go.)

Lunch time, baby! That sweet spot when most people finally sit down, whip out their phone & start to catch up on all the goodness they missed this morning. It’s your chance to get noticed, so make it good. Lunch time is prime time, and you want to curate content for this period that is valuable – most people have limited time to sit down for lunch, so strategize where they will be spending that time online & make your content as relevant and interesting as you. Keep in mind if your dream clients are professionals on a brief lunch hour, they won’t have time to shop a sale, so plan sales promotions based on when your dream clients have the most free time!

Lunch time doesn’t just mean 12pm – really think about when your dream clients are online, what their day looks like. If they get up at 6am, odds are they eat lunch earlier than noon. If they are a stay at home mom, “lunch” would most likely be naptime, that sweet – & brief – moment of respite when moms can curl up with a snack & check social media. Again, you are operating on limited time at the middle of the day, so make your content king. Make it something that is quick & easy to take in & respond to, even if it’s a like or one word response to a question like  “I can’t decide what fabric to pair with this print for the purse I’m making – what do you think? Option A B or C?”

Knowing when they get off work/school or start picking kids up from school is as important as knowing when they’re busy in the mornings – it’s dead time. Your dream clients are not online right now, so you shouldn’t be either – go make stuff! Your dream clients are busy hustling and shuffling around!

After the afternoon chaos, what are your dream clients up to? Try to think of 3-4 things that probably happens in their life in the afternoons: Gym, grocery store, coffee with friends, homework, soccer, ballet, karate, choir & gymnastics for the kids? Odds are, their afternoon is pretty full right up until dinner time. However, knowing what your dream clients are getting into is vital – you can use this information to curate content that your dream clients will respond well to – do they have a little ballerina? I bet they would love to see pictures of your darling little ballerina, too, if you have one

And then there’s dinner, then there is that sweet, sweet spot where you have a chance to catch them online – that is, if they aren’t lining up kids for showers, doing laundry from the day, packing lunches for the next day, and so on. If your dream client is a mom, odds are they stay busy right up until those kiddos are in bed – and your best chance to reach them is then. Probably between 7-9 pm, when they are unwinding with a glass of wine, their favorite TV show & social media. If your dream client is a college student, are they in evening classes? What time are they most likely to be wrapping up for the day and hanging out online? If your dream client is a young single professional, they are probably online more in the evening, giving you a larger window to get your content to them.

Goodnight, dream clients. When you see your dream clients heading to bed for the night – you should too. Or at least stop posting on social media, because they aren’t there. Market smarter, not harder – use your answers & best judgement from identifying your dream client to know when they are online, and when they aren’t – and when they aren’t online, get off the computer. Use your time better to make awesome things & take care of yourself! As makers, we feel the need to be eternally connected, to see our stats update in real time & overshare on social media, shouting to everyone & hoping someone hears us. No more. Use the information from this series to better utilize your time, to reach people more likely to purchase, and to spend more time doing what you love – making & creating.

Beyond the daily routine, think long term & seasonal schedules for your dream clients. In summer, many people are on vacation, traveling, visiting with family, at the pool, park or zoo – so you can relax your marketing efforts a bit if you find that your dream clients are busy jetsetting to Disneyland and spending their summer by the pool during the day with the kids. During the beginning & finals/end of school term time, college students (and parents) are spending a significant amount less time online, so use this time wisely to build up inventory.

approaching your dream clients

Let’s dive into this last leg of the journey to identifying your target audience with gusto! We know who our dream clients are, what they like,  what website they frequent and when they are online. Let’s strike up a conversation with them!

Before you approach your dream clients, your profile should reflect their interests that we defined throughout this series, because approaching your dream clients is like saying hello & inviting them in for coffee. You have about 10 seconds to get that “like” or “follow” so make sure your profile speaks directly to your dream clients.

If you are approaching people who like fashion, you should have fashion content on your profile. If you can pair your products naturally in these photos without telling people only about your product, that is the best way to approach them & let them know you aren’t in this just for the sales – for instance, a picture of a new top paired with skinny jeans & your latest necklace would most likely interest fashionistas more than a picture of your necklace. Show your dream clients you truly care about topics that interest them & help them relate to you. If you approach them, and make yourself approachable, your dream clients are much more likely to follow you on social media & buy from you.

Yup, it’s that simple – approaching your dream clients has nothing to do with marketing your products.

Crazy concept, right? But hear me out!

Let’s say you are on Instagram & want to connect with your dream clients there. You could post a picture with 37.5 million hashtags (half of which won’t even put you contact with your dream clients, but more on that later) – or, you could review your dream clients interests (let’s say they are into natural parenting) and search relevant hashtags (like the #babywearing hashtag). Ding! Hello, dream clients! You are now staring at tens of thousands of photos by your dream clients – natural parents!

Approaching your dream client is easy – as easy as leaving a comment on social media. Some examples of good ways to approach your dream clients (using the natural parenting tags for our first examples):

“Oh my gosh, your baby is so adorable, and I love that wrap. What brand is it?

“The color of that wrap looks fantastic on you! Did you dye it yourself?”

“Love this image of you & your baby, you’re adorable! What is your favorite way to carry your baby? I’m new to babywearing & wraps intimidate me!”

Notice what all of these have in common? It has nothing to do with you or your products. Nope. Instead, you are a person who appreciates their interests & their lifestyle, not a seller trying to shove your products down their throat. You are complimenting them about something that is important to them. You are building the foundation for conversation & an organic connection, and are exponentially more likely to capture their interest.

Of course there are times you can give a little nod to your business. Let’s say your dream client is into fashion. Search that #ootd (outfit of the day) tag & find outfits that relate to the style of your products. Here is some ways you can approach them:

“I LOVE this outfit! Where did you get the top from? I have a necklace in my shop I would love to pair with that shirt for photos!”

 

 

“That sweater looks incredible on you. I need to start working on my fall line of jewelry, I have some designs in my head to pair with bulky sweaters that I can’t wait to work on! What sort of colors do you think will be hot this autumn?”

“Ah, I love sweater dresses!  My favorite way to dress mine up is with this layered necklace I made or some fancy earrings. What accessories do you usually pair with yours? I’m always looking for new ideas!”

Again, it’s all about your dream clients – you start out with a compliment revolving around their content and when appropriate, your products can naturally be brought into the conversation without trying to sell them. This will usually interest the original poster & they will pop over to your profile & take a peek – so again, this means that your profile, no matter what platform you are on, should reflect your dream clients interests which I can pretty much guarantee isn’t only your products.

Another way to find your dream clients & approach them is by following larger brands similar to yours (for instance, if you make toys for preschoolers you could follow people like Melissa & Doug & join conversations in the comments of their posts – again, not talking about you, but talking with peers. Example, you could reply to someone & let them know that your kiddo also plays with X toy – do they have any others they would recommend? Or maybe “My kiddo takes his “insert relative item name here” everywhere too! I just designed a new tote bag for him & ended up adding some to my shop too – it makes getting around so much easier with all the toys in tow!”

Now that you are armed with a few wonderful methods to approach your dream clients, let’s talk about two ways you should never approach your dream clients:

Do not ever post on another businesses social media trying to drive sales. Casually mentioning your products is okay – saying “You can buy that in my shop” or “I make these, too” or telling people “if you are interested in one message me” is never, ever okay on other people’s social media accounts. It is tacky & will most likely result in you getting reported for spam. Just don’t do it. If you can’t organically bring up your products into the conversation without trying to sell them or mentioning your shop, just don’t bring them up.

Bad example: “I have a toy in my shop that you would love for your nursery.”

Good example: “I am loving this nursery! I literally just made a toy that matches the colors you used – I am obsessed with these colors together right now!”

Bad example: “I have a necklace that matches your dress in my shop, you could check it out!”

Good example: “I love your fashion style! I just finished making a gorgeous necklace & your post just gave me a great idea for how to style my outfit for photos!”

The bad examples do nothing to build a connection and are not likely to do anything but get ignored, while the good examples are more likely to strike a conversation or pique their interest so they visit your social media account

Never directly ask people to visit your profile or shop. Again, if you can’t organically mention your work, then don’t mention it at all. If someone asks you where they can check out your work, then by all means tell them your URL. But if it doesn’t come up, don’t mention it.

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At the end of this post, I cannot stress enough: when approaching your dream clients: Be authentic. Never fake your interests or post comments that aren’t genuine. And remember – have fun getting to know your dream clients! The more you engage with your target audience the more you learn what sort of content resonates with them.

And with that, that’s the end of my series on getting to know and learning to approach your dream clients!

Thank you to everyone who joined in on our dream client series! I hope you had fun identifying & getting to you know your dream clients, and hope this post was informative and helpful! 

In the comments, please feel free to share your thoughts on this process! I would love to know how it has helped you identify your dream clients & approach them! 

 

 

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Save with a snap!

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I thought long and hard about what sort of campaign I wanted to run this year to grow Lu & Ed. I knew I wanted it to be organic and authentic. I don’t like icky marketing campaigns where I feel like I am pushing pushing pushing products in everyone’s face. I don’t think anyone else likes those marketing campaigns, either.  I didn’t want to use a program to buy followers or pay to shove ads in everyone’s faces on social media. I didn’t want to pay a blogger to say they liked my products. I wanted something real.

I decided to create a campaign to connect with my customers, find out why Lu & Ed fans love their monsters, and have my products and previous customers speak for my brand & organically spread the word about it – a campaign that is perfectly authentic, raw and real. A campaign ran by real parents, aunts & uncles & grandparents  who have actually adopted a Mon-stor, Wall Monster or stuffie, a sensory blanket or library bag or any other product from me, while rewarding them for lending their voices & giving me their honest reviews.

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In an effort to drive authentic growth for my little monster making biz with this customer-led campaign, I’m asking my monster loving friends (you guys!) to help me out. If you have ever ordered from Lu & Ed, I’m asking you to simply post a photo explaining why you love your monster product to your personal Facebook or Instagram account. To reward everyone who takes the time spread the monster love, I’ll be distributing sweet, sweet 30% (the highest discount I EVER offer) off exclusive coupon codes, good for any single product in my shop, to everyone who creates a qualifying post! (details on qualifying posts below)

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To get your exclusive code, simply:

  1. Snap a well lit photo that shows off your monster product in use (extra virtual hugs from me if your kiddos are feeding their Mon-stors toys or playing with their stuffies in the photos!)
  2. Write a caption explaining why you love your monster(s). Posts must start with “We love our monster(s) from luanded.com because…” (In order to qualify for the discount, posts must have my URL luanded.com and not just my brand name, Lu & Ed. This makes it easier for people who aren’t familiar with my monsters to find them! Yay!)
  3. Once your post is up, screen shot it and email me a copy of the post to cody@luanded.com – easy peasy! I would say tag me, but private Facebook or Instagram accounts prevent me from being able to see tags or posts, so this is the most effective way to verify qualifying posts. You can still tag my page or Instagram account in your photo if you like, but in order to qualify for your exclusive 30% off code you must put the intro sentence “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…” AND email me a screen shot.

That’s it! Snap a photo, caption it with “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…”,  email me, receive exclusive coupon code! Super easy, huh?

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I am so stoked about this campaign and cannot wait to see what you guys come up with! ♥

Got questions, thoughts, ideas on how to make this customer-led campaign even better? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email! 🙂

 

 

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2017: Achieve

It’s been a wild year and probably the worst year yet for my little biz, so I’m excited to wrap it up and head into 2017 with a blank slate & lots of ambitions, new products, and plans for improvement!

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See, my word for 2016 was Grind – I knew it was going to be a rough year: I got divorced and moved halfway across the country in November 2015, so I knew I’d be starting from scratch, struggling financially and trying to reestablish myself, my son & my biz. I had chose Grind because this year was all about breaking off the rough bits, uncovering the ugly and grinding it all smooth so I can polish my life & biz into exactly what I wanted it to be. Throw in an unexpected pregnancy & birth that were both exceptionally difficult, and woof. What a year. Grind was the perfect word for 2016.  

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My word for 2017 is going to be Achieve. Inspired by Lisa Jacobs, I decided to set monthly numerical sales goals – and I plan to shatter through them each month! I am going to Achieve more by focusing my efforts where I see the highest conversions for my business – here on my blog, through my newsletter, and by supporting other makers through community and collaborations. I will be relaunching my swag bag program & I am also going to book (at least) 3 events this year to continue establishing myself locally & spreading the word about my monsters, and also putting products up for sale in a local children’s boutique as well.

Besides the stereotypical “I’m going to get back in shape and do yoga every day and meditate more often” personal goals, I also am going to start attending a weekly mother’s circle, to help network & grow my local community, as well as attending more local events/dinners/shows/festivals. As a mother & maker, I feel like having a strong local community is imperative to growing personally & professionally. It’s so important to build your village!

I chose Achieve for my word for 2017 because I am going to achieve big things for my little monster biz, and in my personal life as well! This year is all about achieving my hopes & dreams. I want to spread roots here in Western North Carolina, to start making connections and friendships, and really make this place my home while growing my monster business to better support my growing family. ♥

Do you pick a word of the year to focus on? If so, what was your word for this year/will your word for next year be?

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!

 

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Making Back to School Monstrously Awesome – Qiana K Photo Shoot!

Just because we’re homeschooling this year, didn’t mean I didn’t get to have fun with back to school photos! I was honored to be able to send some of my monsters to the awesome brand photographer Qiana K to be a part of her Back to School shoot – and boy, I love love love what she did! Here’s a collection of images from the shoot – Qiana made it easy to make back to school monstrously fun, with cute clothing, great fall accessories and fun monster toys to give as back to school gifts from yours truly. 😉

Other brands featured:

Little Nugget KnitsThe Wishing Elephant Bright Eyed Baby  / Greyson & ColeFJ’s Pop ShopPegheads / Sunshine by Channon / Spunky Onion

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Aren’t these images darling?! Those grins! Gah, these little dudes stole my heart!

If you are a maker looking for awesome brand photos, definitely be sure to book a session with Qiana – her work is amazing, she is incredible to work with and her fun style & great attitude is infectious! Coming soon: A gallery of images from my monster mash Halloween collab shoot by Qiana, with Opposite of Far!

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Home schooling as a maker mama – it’s not easy, but I love it.

In years past, back to school was always a little hectic, but as a work from home monster making mom, it made it a little easier to get out the door in the mornings. We had our system – clothes laid out the night before, breakfast items on the counter, lunches packed & in the fridge ready to be grabbed on the way out the door.

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This year, like all other routines & just life in general since our move, is totally different. My son hated the public school he went to here in WNC last winter/spring. Here’s a quick example of just one of DOZENS of examples of my son’s horrendous short time in Haywood County schools last year: during a science discussion, the teacher told the class the Milky Way is NOT a galaxy, galaxies don’t exist. She told them there’s just one universe, and that’s the Milky Way. When my son tried to correct her by telling her, actually the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, one of at least one hundred billion of potential galaxies in outer space, he was reprimanded and given a silent lunch for “lying” & I received a note about how disrespectful he was. Oh, and first week of school, when I tried to ask for more challenging work for him because he had already learned what they were covering in first grade, she told me right in front of Gauge that he wasn’t as smart as I think he is, even though right before we moved from Missouri he was testing at 8-9th grade level in almost every subject in 4th grade… so it didn’t take much convincing when he asked me if he could be home schooled this year rather than go back to school in this district.

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So, we officially “started” home schooling July 1st. We started in the middle of summer because when the new baby gets here, we’ll be taking a week or two off to bond & adjust as a family. A little over two months “into” home schooling, we are finally starting to find a little balance & normalcy – though with this pregnancy nearing it’s end, it’s been a lot more difficult to balance this new life style, home schooling, running Lu & Ed, and growing a tiny human all at once. But we have found a few things that work really well and for any other maker mamas out there considering home schooling while running their biz,  cheers! You can do it! Here’s what has helped me balance lessons & making monsters!

wake up before the kid(s)

Usually way, way easier said that done. But thanks to baby brewing in my belly, most mornings I am up between 4-5am. It’s rough. And I won’t lie, a lot of times in the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to muster the energy  to get out of bed and do productive things. But some mornings I somehow find the spunk to roll out of bed, brew some coffee, soak up a few minutes of me time while I set intentions for the day, and then get some work done before Gauge wakes up (like right now! 6am & I’m up blogging! Go me!!!). You can read my previous post about making the most of summer mornings as a maker mama here – a lot of it is still applicable as a home schooling mom, too!

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create lots of opportunity for independent studies

This will vary based on the age of your child, but for us, after we work together through math, vocabulary words & science, my son has the rest of the day to work on reading, creative writing or studying history/social studies independently (right now we are covering Early American History, from the discovery of America to the Industrial Age, and I let him pick which time period to study in the evenings that week – right now he’s obsessed with the Revolutionary War!), which is usually done through reading historical stories/biographies, work books, or watching documentaries. While he is doing his independent studies, I get in some sewing! If he finishes up daily lessons while I’m still working, or before his dad gets home/dinner time, his options are educational programs, reading, art projects or outside play. This gives me about 4-6 hours a day to dedicate directly to my business. There’s a ton of ways to provide resources for independent study that allows you time to balance your handmade business – from work sheets to iPad apps, nature documentaries to free play with creative toys (Legos, blocks, fort building, marble mazes, obstacle courses, creating Rube Goldberg contraptions) or “recess” outside if you can work from a place where you can supervise your children!

make your creative business a priority

Home schooling while running a creative business from home means your kids are around you 24/7. It can be a little overwhelming at first adjusting to the new schedule and constant contact if in previous years, you’re child went to school outside the home. This is why it’s so important to set boundaries for you, your partner, and your child(ren). I made sure before we started my son knew that just because he was going to be home, didn’t mean he would 1) play video games all day & 2) have my undivided attention all day long, because I do have a business to run. So he knows during independent study time, to work through problems on his own, research & try to find the answers himself & we’ll review materials/lessons the next morning – so there’s no need to bust into my room while I’m sewing eleventy billion times to ask me questions about his current lessons. (Note: providing age appropriate study material with clear directions is essential to making independent study time, and therefore time for mama to make things, a success!)

get creative: utilize activities & classes

As moms, and makers, and creative business owners, we often feel as we have to do it all alone. You don’t! There’s so many amazing resources, both conventional and more creative, to utilize to make home schooling easier & more enjoyable.

Find your tribe. This was hard for me, because we couldn’t afford a co-op this year, but even if it’s just one other home schooling parent you can meet to have coffee with, chat about your day, share lesson time with or swap kids with for a day for a few hours to get some work done, find those people, love them, give them coffee and chocolate, and schedule a bunch of play dates! Finding a few great home schooling buddies (for both my son & I!) has proven to be the greatest home school aid. Taking time for social gatherings is essential for mental health, plus getting out of the house regularly keeps the creative juices flowing.

Consider outside specialized classes & use community resources. Not only does this take a load off of you if say, you aren’t feeling on par with current math or science standards, or your child wants to learn something you have no clue how to teach (like coding, sign language, Spanish or theater), there are many community resources that offer once a week classes for 1-6 hours a day that your child can participate in – which gives you a little more time to invest in your creative business! If you are in the WNC area near me, check out Elevate’s class list – they have a huge list of interests and subjects, from history & science to dance & parkour! Local zoos, museums & nature centers often have programs for home school students as well. And don’t forget to check your local library’s list of activities – most libraries have “after school” clubs for 1-3 hours a day, once a week. Ours has a Lego club that meets every Tuesday from 4-5:30, a Minecraft club, and a few other specialized interests clubs. Not only does specialized classes & community resources like these give your child a chance to socialize & explore new interests, you can bring your laptop & get some computer work done, or bring along your current hand sewing/crocheting/knitting projects to work on, while your kid enjoys their classes/clubs! This winter, my son is taking coding & Spanish classes. 🙂

teach your child(ren) about entrepreneurship

Having your kids home with you while you run a creative business is a great opportunity to teach them about commerce, budgeting, consumer math, graphs & charts, conversion rates, scheduling, money management, ROI (return on investment, AKA measurable data for an action & it’s corresponding reactions, like purchasing an ad on a blog & tracking traffic/sales that it generates to gauge how much value that action garnered) and most importantly – the value in hard work & dedication to making your dreams come true! Involve them in the process. Give them simple, age appropriate tasks to do to help make the functions of your creative business run more smoothly – my son helps me a bit each day with things like stuffing monster bits, pairing fabrics, sewing, cutting things out, packing orders, and doing postal runs. He also has learned a lot about conversion rates, profit/loss charts, income projections, marketing, photography, public relations & more. He’s always been an active part of my business, but this year I’m really showing him more of the functionalities & processes that go into running an ecommerce business & how he can apply those skills to other parts of his life.

accept that some days, you aren’t going to get it all done

At first I was completely, totally overwhelmed, and between trying to find a good rhythm for lessons & try to find time to sew while dealing with third trimester exhaustion, there was a lot of bad days. For instance, I like to sew first thing in the mornings – Gauge does better with his math first thing in the mornings, and it’s one subject he does need more supervision & guidance on. So I have had to sacrifice my most creative time to do my least favorite thing ever (ugh, math), which sometimes ruined an entire day for me creatively because it just saps my juju; but after a few weeks of this, settling into a new routine of sewing after lunch (while not as creatively charged) is still a routine capable of productivity. It just requires a bit more effort!

I know here in a few weeks when Baby Z gets here, that’s going to throw our entire system out the window and we’ll be starting from scratch again. And that’s okay, because I also know we’ll find our rhythm again (eventually). If you are considering embarking on a home school journey as a maker mama, stay flexible, don’t be afraid of adjusting your schedule time & again, and know that once you find what works for you & your child(ren), it gets easier to balance productivity for your business & lessons for your kids!

Any other maker mamas out there home schooling their kids?

I would love to hear your advice, opinions & thoughts on balancing it all, what works for you, and what concerns you may have about running a creative business while educating your child. Let’s discuss in the comments!

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5 Tips for getting more exposure in the Storenvy Marketplace (or possibly getting featured on their social media accounts!)

A lot of people struggle with leveraging the Storenvy Marketplace. While the dream is being able to just throw some listings up, walk away and make sales, unfortunately, that’s not how selling online works. You have to put in a lot of effort, do a lot of research, network and make connections, and become established as a Marketplace seller to start to really see the benefits of being a part of the Storenvy Marketplace – or any online e-commerce marketplace venue!

But! There are a few things you can do to get more exposure as a Storenvy Marketplace seller, and possibly even get featured on their social media channels! They have over 67,000 Facebook fans, 23,000 Twitter followers & almost 10,000 Instagram followers, so anything you can do to increase the possibility of getting your products selected as an Editor’s Pick or featured by Storenvy should be a priority!

Have amazing, well lit, clutter free product photos.

Have you SEEN their Insta feed?

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Storenvy rocks a highly curated, drool worthy Instagram feed featuring unique items with bright, well lit product photos. There’s no clutter, distracting backgrounds, dark shadows obscuring any details of the products. All of the images singularly focus on the product, they all have excellent lighting and composition and they are all very unique products – however if you visit the shops they are from, you’ll notice the branding from one photo carries over to all the images, providing a very consistent, professional look in their stores. In order to possibly one day see your items hit this line up – you have to deliver photos of ALL of your products that are equal to the quality of images found in their Insta feed. If your product photos don’t meet the aesthetic Storenvy is trying to create, they won’t get featured. Besides good images increasing the likelihood of being featured on their social media channels, they also increase your odds of becoming an Editor’s Pick (meaning your product shows up in every single Storenvy users feed, plus it’s been proven again and again the better your photos, the more likely people are to purchase your products.

Have an active marketplace store

Storenvy loves all of their sellers, but won’t feature shops that don’t have active Marketplace stores on their social media pages, plus you can’t become an Editor’s Pick if you aren’t in the Marketplace – so make sure all of your products are listed for sale in the Storenvy Marketplace! But active doesn’t just mean having listings up, either. The more traffic, Watchers, Envies & sales your Marketplace store is generating, the more likely you are to be featured. So be sure to join the Storenvy Community Group & The Storenvy Collector’s Group I run on Facebook – both will get you active and involved in the Marketplace & increase your odds of getting featured! Also be sure to let people know about your Marketplace side store – pin items from it from time to time, blog about it, let people know they can Envy an item to save it for later if they aren’t ready to purchase. Obviously our goals is to promote our custom Storenvy websites, where sales are free, but the more you work to generate traffic to your Marketplace store the higher your products will appear in search results, which results in more organic traffic as well!

Tag #storenvy & @storenvy in all your posts

Make sure to use the #storenvy hashtag and tag @Storenvy in all your Insta and Facebook posts. This gives them an easy way to find your posts & discover your goods! Plus it groups your posts with other #storenvy posts, so people browsing for Storenvy shops to buy from can find you!

Make sure your Storenvy URL is in your bio or linked on your fan page

Obviously, if Storenvy is going to feature goods from a seller, they want link backs to benefit them. So make sure your Insta bio links to your Storenvy shop, not your Etsy or blog URL, and the same goes for Facebook. As an aside, NOT linking to their Storenvy shop is the main reason a lot of people AREN’T making sales on Storenvy. If you want people to find you on Storenvy, you gotta make sure that you are directing them there. Having the links on your social pages direct to Storenvy will also increase inbound traffic, which boosts your listings in search results. Yay!

Encourage people to shop the Storenvy marketplace

Do you know why Etsy is so successful? Because everyone just says “I got it on Etsy” or “have you tried looking for it on Etsy?” So, it stands to reason, the more people talk about Storenvy, the more sales sellers will generate through the Marketplace.

But also replying to posts on Instagram or Facebook & tagging @Storenvy will show them you’re an avid supporter, which is a lot more likely to put you on their radar than anything else. See a post where someone is talking about selling online? Suggest @Storenvy. Tell them why you love it. When someone asks where to shop for something? Suggest @Storenvy. Put up a post about why you love Storenvy & why people should sell/shop there. Wear your support for the platform on your sleeve and encourage others to as well! It will help the Marketplace thrive, increase organic traffic for all shops, plus let Storenvy know “Hey, guys, I love you. You are doing a great thing here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.” Active community members are more likely to get noticed than silent sellers – so be active and an advocate!

These are just a few of the tips I have for increasing your presence on Storenvy & also increasing your odds of getting featured on their social media channels – I hope you find these tips helpful!

Do you have a specific question about selling on Storenvy? Feel free to leave a comment & I’ll do my best to get a post up with an answer. ♥