Editor’s Note: If you’ve been to our Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference, then you probably already know (and love) our friends at Darice who have been our official craft supply sponsor for the conference for the past four years! We’re usually talking about all the great craft supplies Darice has but we invited our friend Meighan O’Toole to the blog to share her summer checklist for your maker business. Summer is the perfect time to revisit your goals and reevaluate your business to make sure your getting the best return for the time and money you put into your business. Darice is here to help you with that! Darice caters to small business owners and makers with low minimums and a freight-included program. If you’re not ready to start buying wholesale, at least make sure you’re getting the best retail price possible. Darice has a sister business Consumer Crafts that has excellent prices. -Nicole S.
By: Meighan O’Toole
We’re coming up on the middle of the summer, and for most creative businesses that means things will slow way down. In some ways, this is a welcome respite. I know you’re excited for downtime in your business, because it means you’ll get some breathing room to enjoy the warmer months; extra time by the pool, friends and family BBQ’s, and more. But while business may slow down, and I absolutely want you to enjoy that extra time, I also want you to use this to your benefit!
Now is the perfect time to create a summer checklist for your maker business and take care of things that will help you when the busy season starts to pick up again.
And as we all know, that’ll come sooner than we think!
Below, I’m going to share eight actions to help you work on your business now so when the busy season comes, you’re set and ready to make the most of it! By doing this stuff now, you’ll not only save yourself time in the long run but it’ll help cut down on stress in your business and give you room to run your business in a way that feels great and manageable.
1. Check off and revisit your goals: Can you believe we’re halfway done with the year? Now is the time to look over the goals you made in January and check in and see what you’ve accomplished and what needs to be reassessed and added. Don’t run past those goals you’ve achieved though! Make sure to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Once you’ve given yourself a little party for one of the goals you have met, check in on what’s left. How does your list look now? No doubt you’ve changed a bit since January. Are there some things you don’t care about anymore? Are there goals missing? Update them now and plan out how you’ll meet them in the second half of the year, break your goals down to days, weeks, and months. Then hang them up or keep them somewhere that you’ll be able to keep on top of them and tend to them often.
Pro-Tip: Make a date with yourself for this check in and bring some fun pens, washi tape, and stickers! Celebrating what you want to achieve in your business will make it not only easier to create room to dream, but it’ll hold you accountable too. Don’t be afraid to have fun and nerd out on this!
2. Plan research and discovery for new products: Now that things are slow, block off some time in your calendar for a few hours a week this summer to conduct market research on new offers and products. Pull out all of those notebooks and slips of paper where you’ve scribbled down thoughts and dreams for products and ideas. Line ’em all up on a spreadsheet and see what’s feasible to get cracking on now for fall and in the upcoming year! Next year may feel far away, but making plans now to get products in place for the following December will be a gift to your future self!
3. Survey your audience: When was the last time you surveyed your audience? This is a brilliant way to learn about what your audience really wants to hear from you on social media and what they want to buy from you too. Don’t be afraid to ask your current customers, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers to fill out a quick survey about things you want to know about them! Use Google to research the best kinds of market research questions to ask your audience. You’ll find a ton of helpful information to drill down on. This is an excellent opportunity for you to get to know who your audience is so you can tailor your messaging and products to them.
4. Schedule your social media: If you haven’t started scheduling your social media, I highly recommend doing so now. You’ll be blown away by the amount of time you’ll save. Plus, planning out your marketing allows you to see the big picture – and make sure you’re posting consistently. This means further brand reach and more selling for you! A few of my favorite schedulers: Tailwind for Pinterest & Instagram, Planoly for Instagram, and Hootsuite for everything else (here’s how to access their free plan). Planning out your content now will give you the opportunity to really get the hang of it, so when fall roles around it’s part of your process and you don’t have to waste hours doing it.
5. Establish your marketing calendar for fall/winter: Create an editorial calendar and map out everything that’s happening in your business: social media, email marketing, advertising, press, product launches, events, sales, holidays, etc. Creating this calendar allows you to plan out and view your entire business’ marketing and important events at a glance. You’ll be amazed at how much freedom this tool offers you. Here’s how I use Asana in my business to organize my marketing and content, and if you need more you can check out how I use Asana to plan my content.
6. Research and organize press/outreach contacts for fall: Don’t let press come to you! Too many businesses expect social media to do the job for them! Don’t make this mistake, build DIY publicity into your business. Create a spreadsheet of all the possible press and opportunities you’d like to explore for your business. Dream big! List other small businesses that are adjacent to your industry that you can partner with for social media or blog giveaways, research conferences you want to attend or speak at, track down publications, blogs, and podcasts you would like to appear on or that you can create content for. Use Asana or Airtable to create a list that you tend to on a weekly basis. Shoot to reach out to at least one or two of these contacts a week! And be sure to track your results in your spreadsheet.
Pro-Tip: Create multiple scripts that you can personalize for outreach and press interest. Each email you send should be personalized and speak authentically to the person you’re reaching out to – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a script you can use as a framework. It’ll save you a ton of time.
7. Set up a photoshoot, get fancy, and batch your product shots: You’ve most likely heard a lot of people talk about batching your content. You can do this with your product shots too! It’s a great way to ensure your branding is on point and everything looks great together. Plus, if you do this with your product photos, you can also take this time to take coordinating social media photos. This is a massive time saver – but don’t be fooled, it’ll take some time so be sure you block off a day or two to make this happen. Take a look at our course Photo Styling 101.
8. Update your systems & operations: Now is the time to get organized, and set up systems that will make your life easier when things get super busy. Pay attention to the things you do over and over again in your business and create templates and checklists for them. All systems are is a process of recording and duplicating activities so it saves you time. There’s nothing complicated about systems, don’t be fooled. Here’s a great starting point for a system that will be an enormous time saver: If you attend a lot of shows, use Asana (or another project management tool) to create projects for each craft show with all of the details you need for that event (and leading up to it). Include contact info, website and application links, maps, costs (booth, hotel, etc.), create a checklist of what to bring for your booth, things to remember, specific dates, etc. By ironing out all of this stuff now, and continuing to tend to it you won’t feel like a chicken with her head cut off when it’s time for each show because it’ll all be there ready to help you!
Use This Time Now to Enjoy Your Business Later
There’s so much you can focus on this summer, and this is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a good start to get you prepared for the fall. Think of other things you can do now that will help you down the line. Being a smart business person is all about being prepared and ready for everything. If you stay on top of everything we’ve covered above, it will save you time and energy in the long run so you can do more of what you love! Maybe that’s spending time by the pool or crafting, whatever it is if you take the time now to plan and create systems in your business you’ll thank yourself later!