Today’s post is a Q & A between myself and Scoutie Girl Tara Gentile. Tara, well she’s an inspiration to me! She’s been getting artists and other indie business folk to think differently about money. To not feel guilty if we try to actually make money with our passion. Her e-book 52 weeks to blogging your passion was a huge helper when I was searching for my “blogging voice”. And she’s now helping me again, answering some hard questions I’ve been struggling this month:
Most of the students who signed up for my online class have come from a very very small niche (readers of a couple of online email lists having to do with fabric dyeing) Do you have any ideas on how I can reach out to a slightly bigger niche?
Yes. In marketing speak, you want to look for new vertical markets. Yeah… doesn’t make much sense to me either. Here’s what it means:
Think about who needs to learn how to dye. Whose work would be easier if they knew how to dye fabric? Who would have more fun if they knew how to dye? Who would have more control over their end product if they knew how to dye?
The trick with branching out to new markets is that these are customers who don’t necessarily perceive the need you are offering a solution for. So you need an intermediary. Who is the top dog in those markets? Who gets the most respect? If you can create a relationship with a respected authority in that market and have her explain the need or desire to learn to dye to her market, you can fill in the details.
Halfway through my first class, I’m already planning 3 more. I’ve got more ideas for magazine articles, but I’ve got to make the items that would be featured in the article before I can pitch. I need to build up my stocks for my upcoming spring shows. I should be marketing myself to local quilt guilds as a fabric dyeing teacher. (I need to be present for my family occasionally). ACK! So many ideas, so little time. Do you have any recommendations on pacing? There’s riding the wave, and then there’s being consumed by a tsunami. I’m in this for the long haul, and really need some help in figuring out how much is enough.
Hate to say it (no I don’t) but this sounds like a spend-money-to-make-money scenario. What are you spending time on now that doesn’t require your expertise? Probably lots. Customer service is generally the first. People don’t actually need to talk to you, they just want to feel taken care of.
Can someone else answer your email? Be there for troubleshooting? Probably.
Next, I prioritize in two ways. First, what’s going to make money now. Your classes are making money now. That’s a top priority because it makes things easier in the long run.
Second, what’s going to make money into the future. I would say your PR (magazine writing falls into this category) efforts come into play here. The more exposure you get the more money you’ll make in the long run.
Finally, I would say what do you think you’re “supposed to” do but have actually outgrown the need for. It may be time to back off from in-person shows and concentrate on more scalable ventures.
Pricing my online class – there was more than a bit of guess work there, but I did make sure to leave room for an “early bird” discount. Do you have any advice on pricing an online course?
I’d like to tell you I have a tried & true formula — but I don’t.
Pricing an online course is like pricing a service. You’re pricing for outcomes. How much is are those outcomes worth to your customers? Once you determine what it’s worth to them in terms of convenience, time, energy, and actual cost. Consider how much you can reasonably reduce the price to reflect the fact that it’s a leveraged product.
Access here is key! The whole point of an online course is access. You’re going for scale. More people learning more stuff. So, while considering the value of the outcomes (and possibly similar courses on the market), you choose the lowest price that makes sense for you.
This may be broad, but…What exactly IS this You Economy of which you speak? Can I pursue making money without alienating the people I’ve been connecting with online? Is it okay to even talk about the fact that I am indeed looking to the bottom line, rather than pursuing my art for arts sake?
The You Economy is the next evolution of capitalism – built by you, for you. It’s all about having an other-focused service culture in your business.
You are looking to the bottom line in your business but, in fact, you have a whole series of values & artistic constraints that also affect your decision making. It’s not a new way of doing business but it’s never caught on like this before.
Your customers know you’re running a business — or else they wouldn’t be customers. They want to buy what you’re making. And they want you to continue making it. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that isn’t someone you need to worry about.
You take care of your customers. You are generating wealth for them in the form of beauty, self-confidence, and expression. That’s what You Economy businesses do. And that’s what allows them to thrive financially, as well.
So, as always, amazing advice! I AM part of the YOU economy! Tara is now “taking it to the streets” – meeting with folks IRL (Philadelphia) as well as virtually for a fantabulous sounding event: The Art of Earning Live, which is a day long “business building party”. If this sounds like something you’d like to be part of, click on the ticket below, where you can learn more!