A lot of my coaching clients spend hours searching for information about how to run a craft business before they come to me and I see lots of mixed results from their efforts to understand how to run a better Etsy shop. So today on the podcast I wanted to put together a quick-fire list of places to search for information about running a small business, or an Etsy shop.
Before we get to that I want to discuss why ‘free is’ not always best and why free shouldn’t be your only avenue of learning, because there’s a massive misconception out there that you can grow a sustainable and successful business without spending any time or money on it and this myth-bubble I need to burst!
The truth about 'free' business information
Free business information is just that; it is a free of charge product for you to digest.
That’s great, right?! Totally free information designed to help you grow.
Yes, it’s true that many of us business coaches provide a limited range of free informational digests in forms of; blogs, podcasts, tutorial videos, sometimes even seminars and eBooks. All of which are designed to help you with a specific topic. You can find some of mine on my Resources page as an example. Each of these free downloads, or guides are designed to give you a quick action on a specific topic, like my ‘Why your Etsy sales SUCK!’ video course where you learn to ‘what’ to update in your shop to increase sales opportunities.
What free information does is it tells you ‘what’ you need to do in order to act on something, but not the specifics of ‘how’.
I can see that some of you might find this frustrating, but here’s the thing… just like you I have a business to run (and mouths to feed) and so the ‘how’ comes in the form of an inexpensive eBook that I mention at the end of the free video – ‘30 days to a better Etsy shop’. This is the next step information that you’ll need to follow to perfect your Etsy shop business in 30 days (in other words the ‘how’). A far quicker result than you will get leaping to another free course, or blog post which will just give you another set of undetailed (maybe even conflicting), but still actionable directions on what you need to do.
So yes, please do go and digest free information from various sources but know that it won’t be complete coaching advice. I challenge you to use that free information to access the source advice giver in each case. Are they someone who’s advice you feel you can trust? Are they someone who has experience in your problem area? And if the answer is yes, then sign up to their newsletter to find out more about their business and how you can work with them to help you truly grow.
The best places to get help with your Etsy shop!
Without further-a-do let’s get to the nitty-gritty of today’s post… what are the best places to get help with your Etsy shop.
Blogs are a great way to digest free micro-information about a wide array of topics. There are many coaches and fellow Etsy shop owners who write on the subject of Etsy shops and include the good, the bad and the ugly about running a successful business. My best advice is to spend a bit of time going through several blog posts on each site you visit. Ask yourself; what experience does this person have and is it relevant to give a valid opinion on this subject? Checking their about page is an easy way to do this (mine is here).
Once you find a blogger you’d like to follow add their details to an RSS feeder like feedly.com, so that you can read their latest releases weekly. If you like what you read, then join their newsletter because this is where the important secret sauce of how to solve your business problems will be, in the form of products, or services.
Podcasts and vlogs are for the most part a quicker informational format than the traditional blog, but certainly no less important, especially if you are looking for a quick answer to an immediate problem, like ‘how to do….’. Podcasts come in audio or visual versions, but for my money to get a real sense of who you are getting your information from I’d check out a video platform like YouTube (I’m on YouTube here with the Handmade Business Podcast), because video is a great way to meet someone whereas the written word, or a scripted audio format can be deceptive occasionally. If you do prefer audio though, then check out iTunes.
Once you have found someone you can easily subscribe to their show to get notifications on new episodes and decide later if you want to sign up to their newsletter.
Online classes can be a great way to learn while you earn, and I’ve taken quite a few of them in the past. My advice is to try something free from the business coach, or service first. That way you can get a clear idea of teaching style and if you feel that the tutor will be able to help you learn what you need in a way that suits your capabilities and learning style, because everyone is different!
I have already mentioned one of my free courses above. I mostly teach with slide shows, or as follow along tutorials. This way I can show you exactly what you need to do with an action point. I also provide handouts where necessary on my paid courses, so that you can follow up and complete your training more effectively.
Online communities There are free and paid communities, both have a value. Free communities can usually be found on dedicated industry specific forum websites, or on social sites like Facebook. You can find my free business group on Facebook here. Depending on the group format usually free information is sourced by asking the community for answers on specific topics. This can be a great way to learn and meet people, but can occasionally be inaccurate, unless you have a business expert heading the group and, or a team who have the time to vet every post.
Paid groups can usually be a little different and that’s for two reasons; firstly, the group host is obliged to vet information to a certain degree and usually is much more organised in discussion threads and secondly, the group is usually geared towards a specific topic, providing extra learning bundles of information, like a dedicated newsletter, or some form of learning library.
In April 2019 I will be launching my own community for craft businesses, called the Craft Biz Incubator!
I've been where you are, and I know that you are looking for;
Success built on proven techniques
'I want step by step guides from someone who has been there and done it.'
'I want relevant information to help me get to my next step.'
'I'm sceptical about the advice I find online and I want to hear from someone who has run a successful craft business.'
Understanding of what it takes to run a business
'I know my craft, but I struggle to understand better business practices.'
'I want to be guided through learning and not just given a quick fix, so that I can understand how to expand my regular sales.'
'I want to get started, but I need to know how to start my business in the right way, or even find my perfect customer.'
Not to feel alone and worthless
'I need motivation and support throughout my learning process.'
'I want to meet people who understand what I'm going through.'
Hey, I have you covered with the Craft Biz Incubator!
Mentors and coaches
Finally this is the only source of information that is 100% paid for in every case and this is because mentorship in what ever form requires someone to mirror your growth efforts with their specific and detailed knowledge on a given subject. For example, I myself recently undertook coaching to help me perfect my blog writing skills and social media tactics for my craft business coaching. Yes, I could have read a ton of blog posts and watched free courses and I have done that for over a year, but I can honestly say once I chose my perfect coach, I had more success in 3 months than I did in a whole year of trying to succeed on my own. The other thing that coaching gave me was confidence in my own brand message and belief that this is my chosen path and I can do this!
Coaching should be motivational, inspiring and result orientated.
As you know I offer coaching to craft businesses, so I thought I’d explain how that works for you.
How does your coaching work Sara?
Coaching varies from person to person, business to business and so I tailor my guidance dependent on several factors we discuss in our first session. This being said I like to start our work with a plan of action;
Session 1 - getting to know you and your business and what your biggest struggles are.
Session 2 - working on a map of our journey together. Mapping out your goals.
Session 3 - working on time blocking and workflow, so you have time to work on your business goals each week.
Session 4+ - starting your first growth project
I work in this way because I believe that to add value to your learning and business, we need to first take a step back, tighten up our foundations and then start moving ahead on a path to success.
Sara, what qualifies you to coach me?
Before running my own craft business, I was a Fashion and Textile Designer working for British Fashion Designers. It was my role to design, sample and oversee production of their collections. This taught me a number of aspects pertinent to a larger business, from; customer and competitor research, branding, designing ranges that sold (including range planning), sales techniques/marketing, production management and quality control.
Moving on to my own handmade craft business I learnt a lot more about on-line vs in person sales, social media, marketing, passive vs non-passive revenue building, audience building, finances, web design, customer service, systems, strategy and mindset.
I believe that my experience gives me a good gut-instinct and plenty of real-life situations to draw from.
My aim is to coach in a way that is clear, focused and motivating, so that you feel MOTIVATED + CONFIDENT + SUCCESSFUL.
Which ever avenue you choose to go in order to find the right information for your craft business, or Etsy shop the same thing runs true in all situations… make sure you are clear on what your problems are first of all and be open to the importance of learning what you need to do in order to solve that issue.
Free information will always be very specifically tailored and will require additional learning in order for you to see successful results. Having said that it is a great place to start your research and learn the ‘what’ part of how to solve your problem. Paid products and services should be result driven, so be clear on what result you want and check that aligns with the result you are being told you may achieve. You will find paid courses and books are a great way to learn the ‘how to do something’, while coaching is geared towards giving you the month to month helping hand either on a specific area of your business, or on your on-going business.
Still undecided about coaching?
Book a free 30-minute discovery call
Please note that no business advice will be given during these sessions, the discovery call is purely to talk about taking on coaching sessions and how they work.