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Let's explore what it takes to craft a sustainable, profitable, FUN business, while staying enthusiastic and motivated.

Whether you just opened your first Etsy shop, or you've been selling your art, design or writing full-time for years - you struggle with doubt, loneliness, motivation and getting it all done.
In this podcast we'll explore what you REALLY want from your small business so that you can follow your enthusiasm, make your art and make money.

Each episode is a mini-lesson in exploring what you want out of your OWN business, so that you can craft a life and business that fills your life with enthusiasm. Find more lessons at http://taraswiger.com

Explore Your Enthusiasm, with Tara Swiger | Craft | Art | Business Tara Swiger

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Let's explore what it takes to craft a sustainable, profitable, FUN business, while staying enthusiastic and motivated.

Whether you just opened your first Etsy shop, or you've been selling your art, design or writing full-time for years - you struggle with doubt, loneliness, motivation and getting it all done.
In this podcast we'll explore what you REALLY want from your small business so that you can follow your enthusiasm, make your art and make money.

Each episode is a mini-lesson in exploring what you want out of your OWN business, so that you can craft a life and business that fills your life with enthusiasm. Find more lessons at http://taraswiger.com

    296: Fix your mindset

    296: Fix your mindset

    Now that you’ve worked on your fear, what about your other beliefs that are holding you back? What do you need to believe in order to move towards your goals?
    Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about what’s holding you back.
    We’ve talked about how a lot of you say what’s holding you back is… YOU. Fear is at the heart of a lot of it. Another aspect of what’s holding you back is what you believe - about yourself, your business, and how the world works. This is your mindset, the set of beliefs that form your frame that you look at the world through.
    Now, before you think, “yeah, yeah, I gotta have the right mindset. But what I really need is 5 steps to grow my Instagram!”...let’s take a minute, just like 10 minutes, to go deeper on this.
    If your mindset and your beliefs are holding you back, it won’t matter how many tactics and tricks you learn for Instagram or Etsy or craft shows. It won’t matter because YOU will keep holding YOU back.
    Mindset We’re going to talk about a few different ways your beliefs can hold you back. The first one is your mindset - what you believe you are capable of and how the world works. Over the years you’ve heard me talk about the research in the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck. As a researcher she looked across areas - school, business, sports - and found that people think of themselves and their challenges in one of two ways - with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.
    Fixed mindset = believing that you are the way you are and you’re not going to change.
    Growth mindset = believing that you can grow and improve and learn to reach your challenges.
    You’ve probably heard this before. And you’ve probably decided, I wanna have a growth mindset.
    But this is actually WAY harder than a one time decision and it comes up again and again.
    Here’s what I’ve noticed in the last few years of thinking about this and talking with makers about it:
    You probably have different mindsets in different areas.
    You might have a very growth mindset when it comes to your relationship (We can figure it out!) but a very fixed mindset when it comes to your finances (we’ll never figure it out!) Time and experiences can change your mindset.
    I’ve found that the more you become experienced in an area, the easier it is to become fixed in the belief that you’ve learned everything and figured it out. This is when you start to say “That won’t work for me.” “I tried that, it never works.”
    Those are actually the two phrases that are red alarms when I’m talking to a business owner. I know that they’re coming at it from a fixed mindset and there’s not much I can help them with unless they shift their mindset from “I already know what I know” to “I can learn and keep trying” But I’m guilty of this too! I started out my business with a growth mindset - I knew there was so much I didn’t know and I knew I could learn it.
    Over time, I learned more, and my mindset became more fixed. I think I know what works, what doesn’t and what is worth my time. My challenge, all the time, is to try new things with the mindset of: I can learn how this works for me. I do this through trying new tools (TikTok!), trying new strategies (webinars) and even trying new business models.
    So when we’re talking about how you’re in your way - the question is: Do you believe you can grow or change? What areas feel really “fixed” or stuck? What areas do you feel really open to learning?
    To learn more: 
    Failure as fuel: https://taraswiger.com/podcast263/ Mindset: The key to success: https://taraswiger.com/podcast49/ Expectation Another aspect of your belief that affects your business is your expectations and flexibility - what do you expect will happen? In what timeline? Or else...what?
    I am so surprised when people tell me that they’re quitting their business becaus

    • 18 Min.
    295: Get out of your own way

    295: Get out of your own way

    Are you getting in the way of your handmade business moving forward? Yeah, it’s time to get out of your own way.
    Lately we’ve been doing a series on how to make your 2020 goals come true. In episodes 292 and 293, I gave you lots of applicable, step-by-step advice on how to increase sales, so be sure to head over to TaraSwiger.com/launch if you missed that.
    But as I said in those episodes, only a small percentage of people will follow through with the action plan.
    Why?
    Well, for some listeners, what I shared just isn’t applicable. Maybe you don’t have a business.
    Maybe you are just starting and you don’t have any products yet.
    For some listeners, growth isn’t their primary goal in 2020. Maybe you have more demand than you can supply. Or perhaps your work day has gone wonky, and what you want to work on this year is working LESS or taking more time off or stopping work at a certain time.
    We’re not always in a place of growth.
    Or maybe you’re like I was in 2019, where your life has been upended and your main goal is to just HOLD ON and try to figure out a new way to move forward (or even stay in the same place) with totally new circumstances. Last year my own focus wasn’t the growth of my business, it was the growth of my family.
    Wherever you are is perfect.
    But what about those listeners who DO have products, who have a way to sell them, and who have the goal to increase their sales in 2020?
    Why don’t they follow through?
    We hit on some of the reasons last week (in episode 294) - you may feel unfocused, feel like you don’t have enough time, or feel overwhelmed and stuck in self-doubt.
    In other words, you’re not moving forward because YOU are holding yourself back.
    Last week I gave you some homework - to write down HOW you were holding yourself back and WHY you might have done that.
    (If you skipped the homework you can hit pause now and write it down, or even record it as a voice memo to yourself!)
    Why are you doing this? Well, without hearing your answers, I can make a guess, because this is what stops me: Fear.
    Fear of the unknown.
    Fear that I won’t be safe.
    Fear that everyone will realize I have no idea what I’m doing and they (you) will think it’s all a scam and everyone will hate me (and I’ll be broke and alone).
    Fear that I’ll get it wrong, that people will see me get it wrong and then will all leave and my business will fall apart (and I’ll be broke and alone).
    That’s kind of intense, right? 
    But that’s why this fear is so good at holding us back - we never look directly at it, so it just bubbles up underneath the surface and we feel a kind of uneasiness or nervousness or self-doubt. We don’t feel “quite right” so we don’t step forward.
    What do you do about it? 
    Good news: We’ve already done the first step! The first step is to bring it to conscious awareness so we can SEE the fear, so it stops running the show from the background.
    Then, we need to acknowledge it for what it is. It isn’t that WE suck. It isn’t that we need to do more or learn more or get more confident.
    Fear holding you back is a NATURAL part of growth and exploration. Your fear is your sweet little brain trying to keep you safe. That’s it’s whole job! It’s saying “Hey there, I don’t know about that, I need to keep you alive so BACK AWAY FROM THE UNKNOWN.”
    If you’ve experienced trauma (whether it was one-time acute trauma or ongoing trauma like an unsafe childhood), your brain is a SPECIALIST in spotting danger (maybe where there isn’t any!) and keeping you safe. This may be why you experience something that SEEMS simple  (like talking to strangers in your craft booth, or posting a personal post on Instagram) as terrifying and flight-fight-freeze inducing.
    Understanding and accepting this about yourself and your sweet little (confused) brain is vital to

    • 12 Min.
    294: What's holding you back?

    294: What's holding you back?

    What’s holding you back?
    What is keeping you from achieving a profitable, sustainable business that you feel confident in? What is keeping you from working towards your goals every week?
    We’ve been working on reaching your sales goal, all month. To hear episodes about increasing and sustaining your sales, tune in to episodes 292 & 293. After those episodes, I debated over what to cover next and then I realized: what’s keeping you from your goal is different for everyone. You have your own roadblock, so let’s talk about and work through it!
    One of the questions I ask everyone when they join my free FB group (are you a member yet?) is, “When it comes to your business being profitable AND doable, what do you think is standing in your way?”
    So today that’s what we’re going to talk about: the things that are standing in your way. And next week, we’ll talk more about how to get out of your own way.
    It’s my hope that hearing what’s holding others back will help you recognize what’s holding you back, what is standing in your way.
    So what is holding MOST handmade business back? The answers I get most often:
    Focus - I just can’t seem to work on what matters, I keep getting distracted!
    Time - I don’t have enough time or I’m not using my time effectively (focus!)
    Self-doubt or confidence - I doubt myself and so don’t act. If I were more confident I would act
    Fear - most people who write this answer don’t give any more details… so I have to guess - are you afraid of failure? Afraid of poverty? Afraid of embarrassment?
    Many people answer: ME, I am holding myself back. This feels like the REAL answer to all of these other answers - YOU feel self-doubt or fear. YOU want more confidence. I think this answer is the most truthful answer.
    As you read those different answers, which one resonates the most? Which sounds like your internal dialogue?
    And here’s the more important question: what are you doing about it?
    Most people tell me they are working on marketing - social media, email list, or something systematic.
    But… that’s not what’s standing in your way. Not a single person has told me KNOWLEDGE or INFORMATION was standing in their way.
    If you know that something else is standing in your way, why aren’t you working on that?
    I think the reason it’s that it’s much easier to learn something than it is to change ourselves; it’s easier to listen to another episode than to inquire within.
    So what is holding YOU back? Hit pause, ask yourself this and write down your answer. Write as long as our takes for you to process it.
    Now, how are you feeling?
    You may be feeling AMAZING because you got some clarity and you’re ready to change.
    But you may be feeling pretty bad, because OMG, WHY CAN’T I JUST GET OVER IT. 
    I know!
    But I have really really good news.
    None of this is holding you back.
    Bear with me. I know it FEELS like you need less fear, more confidence, more time, more focus to move forward but what if I told you you’re only going to feel less fear and more confidence and you’re going to find the time only AFTER you do the thing?
    What if the way to move past what’s holding you back is to let go of it? To let go of the idea that you need to fix it or fix yourself?
    What if you were perfectly suited to build your business, as you were?
    What if you were ready to move forward on the next project or with the next client, exactly as you are?
    I know, I know, you want ACTION ITEMS. You want to DO something.
    So I’m going to give you episodes and resources for each of these issues, so you can get some actionable steps.
    But. I can tell you, after working with hundreds of makers, designers and artists, you are going to move beyond what’s holding you back only after you believe you will.
    Now, belief isn’t the ONLY thing that’s going to build your business.
    B

    • 14 Min.
    293: What's next? Continuous sales after launch

    293: What's next? Continuous sales after launch

    How do you keep sales going? When you don’t have anything new? When you’re not launching? What can you do to stay consistent?
    Today we are diving in to making more consistent sales!
    Recently Starship Captain Brenda asked: “I just launched a pattern last week and had a good amount of sales, but now what?”
    I’m going to share with you what I told her.
    This is the second episode in a series about reaching your 2020 goal of increased sales. You can listen to the first, which was about launching and find the Massive Launch Resource Kit at taraswiger.com/launch
    Ok, let’s get into it: what do you do to keep sales going? The answer is simple: Send another email.
    Yes, if you send 3-5 emails during your launch and now it’s over, get right back into it! Send an email! Post on Instagram! Use the momentum to establish a consistency you might not have had before.
    I know you're worried your people won’t want to hear from you too much - YOU ARE WRONG.
    They want to hear from you even when you’re not launching. If they stuck with you through the launch, they are VERY interested. In fact, they are closer to buying now than they ever were before.
    (If not, they would have unsubscribed or stop opening… in which case they won’t see your messages anyhow!)
    Always always remember: you are talking to people who WANT to hear from you. 
    So what should you send? Well, if you’ve just held a launch that made more sales than usual, then your products are landing in the hands of your customers - which is what you should feature!
    If you’re a knitwear designer or yarn maker, you can see your customer projects on Ravelry. If not (or if no one is sharing them yet), you can ASK them to share, better yet, INCENTIVIZE them to.
    Yep, offer them something for sharing. Maybe it’s free shipping code for the next 5 people who post a photo with your hashtag or you host a giveaway and everyone who posts a photo and tags it gets entered to win. Now, it’s not ethical to give anything in exchange for a REVIEW. I’m not saying to incentivize reviews, rather incentivize word-of-mouth - people sharing their product on their own social media, while tagging you and using your hashtag.
    Then comment on every single one of those posts and ask the share-er if they give you permission to share it on your account!
    Then you’ll have customer images and stories to post!
    Be sure you also collecting customer feedback when it’s sent directly to you - via DM or email. Have a template that you send in response to nice emails. Mine says something like “Thank you so much, this made my day! Would you mind if I shared this on my social media or website? I will tag you or link to you when I quote you!” (Now, the testimonials for MY business might be private (eg, if someone shares their sales numbers, they may not want to do that publicly), so I also offer to post it anonymously, but most of you sell something people are happy to talk about publicly.
    Almost every time I’ve shared this strategy with a Starship Captain, the maker or designer has been SO nervous to start asking their customers if they can quote them. They are certain their customers will not agree or be upset, but you know what? In every single case their customers have been THRILLED and really flattered. People LOVE to talk about what they love!
    This has held true for product makers and service providers - tech editors, yarn shops, jewelry designers, glass artists, knitwear designers, home decor brands, life coaches, knitwear designers - your customers WANT to see you succeed and share their great experience with you!
    So that is going to provide a new category of content. Every time you share a customer photo or quote, be sure you link to how to get the thing.
    Another strategy that it’s easy to forget is to focus attention on your older, great products. If you followed the d

    • 16 Min.
    292: Your Launch Plan: 5 steps to growth

    292: Your Launch Plan: 5 steps to growth

    In this episode of Explore Your Enthusiasm, I'm walking you through my Launch Plan Worksheet, so that you can great a clear and thorough plan for your next launch.
    Find your copy of the worksheet right here.
    Then track the results and tell me about it! DM me on Instagram!
     
    Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast292

    • 32 Min.
    291: How I'm planning 2020

    291: How I'm planning 2020

    As a culture we talk a lot about planning the year for about 2 seconds on December 31st and January 1st, but the fact is, when you’re building a business or following a dream, you are planning and implementing a plan all the time! Today I’m going to share how I planned my New Year, warts and all.
    Welcome to the New Year! Over the years I have written (and recorded) a lot about New Year and seasonal planning, so this year I decided to share exactly what I’m doing, with a bit of my feelings and experience as I do it, so you know you’re not alone.
    You can get access to ALL of my episodes about planning your New Year AND a new worksheet, at TaraSwiger.com/2020Goals. Download it now!
    It started in early December... Inside the Starship, we read the book Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo, as a part of our Q4 Book Club. This book is packed with encouragement and tough love for moving forward on your big dream, no matter how unreachable it feels.
    I really committed to not just reading it, but also working through the exercises. It helped me get clear on what’s held me back from setting a bigger goal (like, really big) and work through that. The book is so uplifting and encouraging, I think this helped me shed a bit of self-doubt that has held me back in the last 2 years.
    Self-doubt Actually, let’s chat about self-doubt holding me back. I talked about this a bit in episode 252, if you’d like to hear more about how I worked through it then. The thing is - I had a major depressive episode in 2018 and it rattled me.
    Even after I came out of it, I had this lingering fear that I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on anything, that I shouldn’t commit to anything because I wouldn’t be able to complete it. Soon after that, we became licensed to foster parent, and since I had never been a parent before, and I had no idea what to expect, I also became convinced that I would no longer be able to follow through on things, because kids.
    The thing that’s so insidious about this self-doubt is that it presented as LOGIC. Like, it’s totally reasonable to expect that I’ll be able to do less as a parent, than before… but what level of “less”? I didn’t know, so I assumed the worst. I assumed that the kids would be some kind of hurricane that completely exhausted my ability to adult, let along to show up to students, captains and partners.
    Now, I can see how a lot of that was just catastrophizing - I didn’t know what to expect, either about recurring depression or parenting, so I just assumed the worst. I needed to tap back into Confident Tara in order to dream big and create a plan and follow through, because you must believe it’s possible before you’ll actually do the work.
    I’m sharing this because in the middle of it, it felt very real, very logical, and TRUE. 
    If you are feeling tons of self-doubt or battered by life, give yourself some grace. It is ok. You don’t have to dream BIG right now. You don’t have to be on top of everything. Get inspired a confident again, by listening to my podcast and/or by reading Marie Forleo’s book (she also has a great YouTube show!)
    Where I plan Ok, before I go any further, I wanna talk about WHERE I actually do this planning - both where I write it and where I sit physically to do it. The thing is, you need to find what works for you, but I know we all love to hear about these kind of details.
    I always plan my year (and do quarterly maps and monthly planning) in one notebook. That way I can keep a whole year in one place and go back to it, without having to search around.
    This year I’m using a Happy Notes so that I can add pages and different kinds of paper to it. In the past I've used a big Moleskine.
    I typically do the review at a coffee shop, next to a fireplace, with a fancy latte in a mug. Last year I had a brand-new toddler at this

    • 31 Min.

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