Hi everyone! I’m actually kind of glad to be taking a break from shows for a little bit to share some other goodies with you, though I’m still insanely excited for Sterlingfest this year. I’ll be writing a bit about some summer markets that I actually shopped, too—I’m ready for some good ones mid-July, including the Utica Antiques Market.
Today I want to share the first post in a series I’d like to do on my top resources for creative entrepreneurs (especially my mama friends out there). I’ll be talking about Jenna Kutcher’s podcast Goal Digger today, giving a general overview of what it’s like and why I LOVE her, and listing the top five episodes that you should listen to if you’re pressed for time and can’t devour all of them like I have over the past few weeks.
I love listening to podcasts in my garage as I’m working. I get good information in a condensed time, and it’s a lot less of a commitment than reading a book (even though I love to read, too). Anytime I can do two things at once (or even three), I do it; what could be better than working and getting a little professional development in at the same time? I’ve learned so much since I’ve begun listening to this podcast, and I’m super excited to share some of Jenna’s thoughts (and mine) with you so that hopefully you can benefit from her wisdom as much as I have.
Jenna is a Wisconsin photographer and an educator for small business owners. She’s really knowledgeable about branding and social media, and she’s not shy about being real when it comes to her faith, personal life, and business strategies. I think part of the reason that it’s so easy for me to connect with her is that very willingness to be real. She is super big on this aspect of being an entrepreneur, and she’s great about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. When I listen to her, I feel like I’m connecting with a real person, and not just trying to learn something from a blank voice coming out of my phone speakers.
This podcast is particularly helpful because Jenna provides some really practical workshop style tips to creative entrepreneurs that go along with almost every episode. It’s not uncommon for me to listen to an episode in my garage one day, and then come back to it at Starbucks the next morning with my notepad in front of me, taking notes and going through the exercises that she suggests as she discusses each topic. She’s also generous when it comes to things like her pricing guides and social media worksheets, and she’s got a great guide for how to write an about page that really helped me to put mine together. The best part? All of these resources are free!
It was super hard to pick out just five episodes of this podcast, since they’ve all helped me immensely, but here is my best attempt to narrow it down:
- Creating Community on Social Media (Episode 49)
I’m putting this one at the top partly because Jenna is super passionate about social media, so it’s especially fun to listen to her talk about it, and partly because I think social media is something that a lot of my entrepreneur friends really struggle with. I definitely struggle with it—it can be a huge time suck and it can also be really frustrating when you put a lot of time into it and it doesn’t seem to pay off.
There’s so much in this podcast episode, and I really want you to go listen to it, so I’m just going to give a couple of teasers:
One of Jenna’s most asked questions is “how are you trying to look like everyone else, whether that’s on your website, blog, Instagram, etc.?” It definitely comes up in this episode, and when I hear her talk about this, it makes me wish so much that I’d had this resource when I first started posting about my business on social media. When I first started on Etsy, for example, I spent a lot of time looking at what other people did with their photos, pricing, about sections, and pretty much everything else, and did my best to fit in with the general flow of vintage and antique sellers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking around at other people in your field in the beginning. I actually think that’s how we learn most things—first we imitate our parents, then our friends, and then we figure out who we are. At some point, however (and I wish this point had come sooner for me), you have to look at your business for what it’s doing for you and how you are putting yourself into it. I think imitation can get you started and get you going for a little while, but it’s so, so important to mature and grow and let yourself leak into your business in significant ways if you really want to connect with your clients on a meaningful level.
To go along with this, Jenna emphasizes that social media should be your virtual handshake—not a constant commercial of what you’re offering. There should be specific posts about what you love, and posts about you doing the things you love (other than just your work, though that’s obviously a part of it). There should be an opportunity for a connection to form between you and your clients beyond just the products that you offer and the services that you provide.
- Knowing Where to Invest in Your Business (Episode 55)
Jenna’s podcasts are so useful to me because they point out things that should be obvious, but aren’t always, like the idea that if you aren’t willing to invest in your own business, then why should you expect others to invest in your business by buying your products or signing up for your services?
I also love, however, that she emphasizes that she DID NOT go into debt to start her business, but rather built it slowly over many years. As a Dave Ramsey coordinator and apologist, I love that she is up front about this because I think it’s a terrible idea to go into debt trying to start something that you aren’t sure will even work. I’m saving like crazy right now so that I can try the whole retail store thing—but I will never, ever open a credit card or line of credit in order to try it, because I want to manage as much risk as I possibly can.
In this episode, Jenna focuses on five areas to invest in when it comes to your business (gear, education, web presence, advertising, and workshops), talking a little bit about how she approaches each one and being careful to provide tips on how to do all of this for free (or as inexpensively as possible) when you’re just starting out.
- Understanding Who and What an Ideal Client Is (Episode 57)
Again, Jenna is super up front here about how she started and the mistakes that she made. I think a lot of us can relate to this—when I first started I was so passionate about painting furniture and making beautiful things that I just assumed that my products and services were for everyone, and that everyone would love them as much as I did. I also made the mistake of thinking that my ideal client would be someone like me—creative, passionate, and without a huge budget for beautiful, quality home décor.
Not that I really thought about my “ideal client” in so many words—I do remember printing out a worksheet on Etsy and thinking for a while about what my ideal client looked like in terms of my answers to their questions, but I don’t think I really applied much of that to my listings or to my craft show strategy. It’s something that I’m constantly trying to work on as I grow this business more and more, but it’s also something that I think you have to plan for and consciously decide upon—when you’re first starting out, I think it’s really hard to say “no” to jobs, and it can be really hard to even know who your ideal client even is. Jenna has some great tips in this episode for how to figure out not only who and what an ideal client is, but also how you can communicate to just them much more clearly than you’re doing now.
- How to Price for BIG Profits (Episode 23)
I think this seems like a really hard thing to think about when you’re just starting out, but it doesn’t have to be. Both this episode and the later How Knowing Your Numbers Will Transform Your Business emphasize the importance of having goals (whether that goal is to pay for a vacation, to pay off debt, or to expand your business from within) and defining what success means to you. I think we make the mistake of always having the mindset of “when I’m a millionaire, I’ll be successful.” That sounds super nice, but are we willing to make the sacrifices to actually do that? And how would our lives and relationships look if we did? I was projected to make about $3000 last month, and I almost did it. It was a good goal, and I worked hard to try and achieve it. But would a difference of $100 or so really have made me exponentially happier?
What actually makes me happy is building new relationships (which I did last month), investing in my business (which I also did), creating beautiful pieces of furniture (hello!) and helping other creative entrepreneurs (at the time of writing, this blog isn’t exactly public yet, so I’m not doing everything I can there, but I’m working on it). Success for me (and probably for you) is about so much more than my monthly income.
Jenna focuses on pricing for profits, getting rid of emotional impulse pricing as a strategy, and how to figure out fixed and variable costs (these things scare me, too!). This is definitely not one of the fun episodes for me even though I generally love to talk about money issues (that’s the Dave Ramsey apologist coming out again), because I don’t like to put a price on my work or to talk about nitty gritty details when it comes to pricing. However, it IS super important, and I encourage you to get this information rattling around in your brain early, and to take advantage of Jenna’s free pricing worksheets as well (Etsy also has some great resources on pricing if you are primarily an Etsy seller).
- Understanding Your Why (Episode 40)
Your “why” might be a no-brainer right now (for example, when I first started my Etsy shop, my goal was to help add income to our debt snowball and pay off my student loans), but if you do this creative entrepreneur thing long enough, your “why” is probably going to change, and it might change dramatically.
When Dan and I got to the point in our lives when paying off consumer debt was no longer a part of our financial plan, I kind of lost focus for a little while. Part of that was because my life as a professor was bringing in more income and drawing my energy away from building my business, and part of it was because I didn’t need that income in the same way I’d needed it before. For a little while, it became more of a hobby than a business, and that was fine.
Now that I’m really taking it seriously again and my “why” has shifted significantly (I’m working towards a brick and mortar store now—definitely more of a business goal than a personal goal), it’s important that I evaluate what I’m doing every day and why I’m doing it, and how it is making me feel, in addition to evaluating the goal itself. This episode has some great exercises about how to examine these things and work through the emotions of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Again, it was really hard for me to narrow down just five episodes of this podcast to tell you about today—all of them are honestly just so helpful and so practical as professional development tools to really get your head in the game and get on track with your goals. I love Jenna for her wisdom, honesty, and practicality, and I’m so excited for all of you to get to know her and love her, too!
Get listening to the rest of her podcast here, or subscribe on iTunes. I think you’ll love Jenna’s insight just as much as I do!
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here soon!