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Quilt Market Roundup

May 25th, 2016 by Morna

quiltmarketroundup

I got back on Sunday evening after four days in Salt Lake City, which has to be one of the friendliest cities around. Yes, I just confirmed that it ranks second in a Travel + Leisure poll. I started my stay with a trip to Harmon’s Grocery to pick up flowers for my room, and a young woman actually took me part of the way so I wouldn’t get lost. As for Market itself, I loved catching up with long-time friends and making some new ones. I loved being inspired, and I definitely was.

In a few words, the themes that kept popping up for me are flowers — large flowers — glamping/camping, handwork, and navy and gray.  Here’s just a bit of what I saw.

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Grow Your Business With a Business Journal

May 18th, 2016 by Morna

Business Journal

 

One of my favorite practices as a creative arts entrepreneur is to keep a business journal. As the leader of your business, you have so many hats to juggle that it helps to have a place to track those ideas. It also helps you make decisions about where to grow your business and yourself.

I find that my clients who keep a business journal, find it extremely valuable, a real difference-maker in their businesses. This is true regardless if journaling is done in a pretty book, on an iPad, or with our weekly Success and Strategy Summit tool.

Have you been putting off journaling for your business? Here are six reasons why you should start:

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Our 2016 Creative Arts Business Summit Highlights

May 12th, 2016 by Morna

By all accounts the 2016 Creative Arts Business Summit was a success. Lots of aha moments and business shifts. Lots of laughs. Lots of connections and collaborating.

We had two great speakers — IP attorney Kathryn Goldman from Goldman and Minton in Baltimore and Kelly Ann Richardson, shop owner from Kelly Ann’s Quilting in Warrenton, Va. — and thank them for particpating.

Thanks to our sponsors: Checker Distributors and Palmer Printing. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support.

Enjoy the highlight video and join us in 2017. You can sign up for more information here.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

May 11th, 2016 by Morna

Comparison Trap

Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you look around and start to compare yourself to others — their art or their business success?

You start to think that no one will every want what you have.

And, then you start to believe the one or two people who have ever commented negatively on your work.

And, then the spiral starts. Really, who are you to do this anyway?

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5 Steps to Getting Your Work Done

May 4th, 2016 by Morna

5 Strategies to Get Your Work Done

Have you ever found yourself procrastinating, overwhelmed or just plain stuck when it comes to getting your work done. Last week I did a free webinar called “From To Do to Ta Da Done!” about how to get more — and the right — work done. I think of it as a simple five-step process. Of course, simple does not always make it easy.

Step one is all about clarity. Are you clear on the big picture?

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5 Strategies to Grow Your Email List

April 27th, 2016 by Morna

build creative arts email list

 

Are you growing your email list? “What email list?” you ask. “I’ve got loads of followers on Facebook and Instagram. Who needs a list?”

You do! Without a list, your business will not produce profits on a consistent enough basis to sustain and grow your business. You might really just have a hobby and enjoy social media connecting. You need to look at building your list as building equity in your business. And, aim for quality over quantity.

And, yes, you may have a list of thousands of followers on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site. Have you thought about who owns that list? It is not you. While none of us expect Facebook to disappear, if it does, your list goes with it.

How do you get started building a list? You likely already have the start of a list. You have probably built the list from online sales, from a class you taught last week in the shop, or from speaking or vending.

It is a way for people to get to know, like and trust you enough to spend money with you.

You may have a list of 10, 100, 1000 or more that you are trying to grow. It does not matter since we all started in the same place with zero subscribers to our list. Here are some strategies to consider.

1. Start with an email marketing platform. Think of this as your customer relationship management tool. Options include Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft, AWeber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, and countless others. (You do not want to use your Outlook email program.) Each of the options mentioned will have free trials or demos so you can become familiar with them. The difference is in the sophistication of the tool and what your needs are. The reason you want an email platform is that it allows people to opt themselves in and to opt themselves out. You may be able to segment your list and build a level of autoresponders.

2. Create a lead magnet. This would be a freebie that you give someone who visits your website in exchange for their email address. It is like the free taste that you get at the ice cream shop. It allows someone to try before they buy. This can take the form of an e-book, a pattern or a training video, for example. Do not get stuck on what you need to create, just create something of value for your potential customer. The freebie will drive people to learn more about you and your products.

3. Create an email marketing strategy. In its simplest form, you create content on your website, share it with the people on your list, continue to build a relationship with your list on a consistent basis, periodically send an offer to your list, always continuing to provide more value. People did not join your list to buy from you. They got on your list to get the value you have to offer. You need to be consistent in communicating with them, for example sending your newsletter once or twice a week on the same day. Remember that people join your list at various stages and you need to continually work to nurture the relationship with the value you offer.

4. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your business objectives. You need to identify a variety of themes that relate to your message and then come up with content topics for each. If your message has five key themes and you have five topics in each theme, you have a half year’s worth of content. Your strategy can include written, video and audio formats. Start to share your content in your newsletter, your blog and on social media, and engage with your peeps through your content.

5. Place an opt-in box on your website. You can do this in a variety of places. You definitely should have one on the home page. Do not send your visitors to another page with a link that says “Sign up for my newsletter here.” You can add one on the right column of pages on your website. You can add one at the end of your blog posts. And, you can add a pop-up box. I just added one. Sure people find them annoying, but they are effective, so do not discount adding one.

Building your email list does not happen overnight. These are some simple strategies to get you started. What is your most effective strategy to build your list? What questions do you have about building your list? Would you share it in the comments below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

 

Is It Time to Spring Clean Your Calendar?

April 20th, 2016 by Morna

Is it time to spring clean your calendar-

With the change in seasons, I am in a spring cleaning mode. I have gone through some of the clothes in the closet. I have begun to go through the clutter (because that is what it is) in the basement and garage.

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Are You Waiting For Permission?

April 13th, 2016 by Morna

Are you waiting for permission-

Anyone who has been around small children knows they ask questions, lots of questions. And many of those questions start with “Can I.” Can I have one more cookie? Can I watch TV? Can I stay up late and read? Can we get a pet?

I think we are conditioned early on to ask for permission. We did it as kids with our parents, it continued in school with our teachers. Even as adults, we may find ourselves asking for permission. Women, in particular, tend to have what’s known as upward inflection, the habit of raising their voices at the end of a sentence, in essence turning it into a question, and giving up their power to someone else. (As a young adult, I distinctly remember my grandmother pointing this out to me.)

Why are you still waiting for permission today?

I think it comes down to:

  • Waiting until you think you are good enough
  • Waiting until you know enough
  • Waiting to be assured that you are on the right track, because you don’t trust your own judgment. What if you are wrong?

Do others really have the answers? Are they smarter, more important, more knowing than you about you? Seems highly unlikely, especially once you stop and think about it.

And, waiting just turns into more waiting. You remain frustrated by not taking action.

I know more than one business owner who has not stepped fully into her vision of her business. She either was afraid to take the leap for fear of what others would think, their judgment and disappointment taking precedence. Or she was stuck in someone else’s vision of her business waiting for that to be fulfilled before she could take on her own.

Why are you waiting? Give yourself permission. You are the only one who can.

Have you overcome the waiting game? Would you share how you did that with the rest of us? Post your response below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

7 Steps for Success After a Workshop

April 6th, 2016 by Morna

Creative Arts workshop success

Last week a wonderful group of creative arts professionals from across North America joined me for our annual Creative Arts Business Summit. They spent three days working on, rather than in, their businesses. They learned new social media strategies, ideas for improving SEO, and how to manage a booth at a retail or trade show. By the end of the three days, they all left with a revenue plan for the year as well as a 90-day plan to move forward.

When was the last time you attended a workshop, returned excited only to get stuck with what to do first? I know it has happened to me. So much on my list and a sense of overwhelm happens. How do you figure out where to start? Here are some thoughts that will work whether it is a business workshop or an art workshop.

1. Make a list of the top five ideas you got. This could be to update your Facebook page or to add a new technique to your tool box. Pay attention to those that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line or business growth. Once you accomplish these five, you can always go back to your notes.

2. Prioritize the ideas/strategies and set deadlines. You need to determine when all the tasks/to-dos need to be done for the goal you set to be completed. For example, if your idea revolves around a trade show that takes place in four months, you can create a schedule backwards showing when display materials and class materials need to be shipped. Do not forget to build in a little extra time. And, you might find out that not everything on your list will get done, so focus first on those activities that have the greatest impact on your business results.

3. Make a daily schedule. Take time either first thing in the morning or the night before to plan your day. Then take daily action toward your goals. How you work toward your goals will vary. You may like to work on one project to completion or divide your day into large blocks for different tasks.

4. Create and use systems if possible. If your idea is to finally start to send out a newsletter, look for ways to systematize it with an online mailing system and to post it in social media automatically.

5. Not everything on your list will get done. Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your activity results in 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on work in the 80 percent; that is where your ROI (return on investment) will be.

6. In addition to picking your top five ideas, also identify five people with whom you will want to connect with going forward. These people will help you stay accountable and keep progressing.

7. And, finally, let go of perfectionism. This is a hard one for me. One of my mentors says to work to “good enough.” It might be that you set a timer for some of the tasks and what you accomplish in that time is “good enough.”

Bonus tip: One of my favorite resources for getting things done is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The book’s title references a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Brian goes on to offer his own two rules about “frogs,” your most important task. “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” So when I have lots on my plate, I look for the frog and start there.

How do you handle all your big ideas when you get back from a workshop? You may have some tips or entertaining analogies of your own. If so, I would love to hear your thoughts, questions or suggestions. Share it below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

 

6 Keys To Creating An Advertising Plan

March 30th, 2016 by Morna

Six keys to creating an advertising plan

 

How do you get the word out about your business? One effective way is with advertising. Advertising is used to persuade an audience (your potential or current customers/clients) to take action with respect to your product or service. And if that action is purchasing your product, the results are not always immediate. I have read numerous studies that it can take anywhere from 13-17 times for someone to see your print ad before they purchase. Much of the initial viewing of your ad puts your name in the mind of the buyer. They begin to recognize your name or brand. Once your name becomes familiar, the prospect moves along a continuum to become a customer and hopefully a long-term client. While it may be quicker with online advertising, you still need to build your brand first.

While you can advertise online or offline, I want to focus on advertising in general first. I will write about online advertising in a few weeks.

I do think some form of advertising belongs in your marketing plan. When I think about advertising I often go back to the basic questions I learned in journalism school: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

Here are six keys to consider when it comes to creating an advertising strategy.

1. Who are you trying to reach?

The more you know who your ideal customer is, the better. Before you can decide where to advertise, you need to understand your customer. Often people just think they are trying to reach all quilters or all art collectors. If you really look at your customer, you might find that you are trying to reach beginners or appliqué lovers or avant-garde artists.

2. What is the product you are selling and what problem does it solve?

Remember when you look at your product to look at its benefits, not its features. Benefits tell the customer the problem you are solving for them. Another what to consider is what your budget is.

3. Where will you find your customers?

It is easy to look at all the craft magazines and online advertising opportunities and get overwhelmed thinking you need to advertise in all of them. Take time to figure out where your target market hangs out. Are they traditional quilters who read traditional quilt magazines? Are they more art focused and read art-focused magazines? Are they shop owners who read trade magazines? Do they get most of their information from the Internet? Once you determine where you can find your customer, it lets you narrow down where to spend your advertising dollars.

4. When will you advertise?

It is valuable to set up an advertising schedule outlining how often you will advertise. As I noted earlier, it takes time for people to find you, and you need to advertise on an ongoing basis to expect results. Sure you will get customers from your first ad, but you will get more as you advertise more. Your customers will begin to recognize your name and your brand.

5. Why are you advertising?

I like looking at this from two standpoints – yours and your customer. You know why you are advertising: name and brand recognition, more sales, etc. Consider your customer’s why, too. Why should they care about what you are advertising? Why are your products or services different from the other products or services they already know about?

6. How will you advertise?

You have lots of options with advertising  these days, and you will have to answer a lot of “how” questions once you get through the “W’s.” How will you connect with your customer – print, online, google adwords, etc.? How will you structure your ad: with lots of information, lots of visuals, testimonials, etc.? How often will you change your ad? How will you know if your advertising is effective? You need to create a system to track your results. In the end it is all about your ROI (return on investment). You cannot make decisions about future advertising if you do not.

If you spend time considering these questions, you will be well on your way to an effective advertising plan. What questions do you ask yourself when you try to create a plan? Do you implement these principles? I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions or suggestions. Share it below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

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