“Megan, I don’t know how you do it all.”
Yeah. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I hear this one a lot. The truth is though, I don’t do it all. I do just enough to be effective, not too much to cause myself to burn out. There is a balance. It can take a little while to find your own perfect “sweet spot,” and a little bit of experimentation to get there. The important thing is that you don’t burn yourself out in the process. Here are 5 different things I’ve learned to avoid so I can place my energy where it can be best used to get the most accomplished.
1. Join ALL the social networks!
There’s always a new social network or photo sharing site that everyone seems to be all hyped up about. It’s one thing to join a few to see how well they end up working out, but unless you can really commit, they won’t be worth the effort. Stick to a small handful that you can easily manage (and that you like!) My list includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. My Flicker account is an example of something I started but couldn’t follow through on, and at the moment I don’t see Tumblr, Google+, DeviantArt, etc. as quality uses of my time either. I can easily update to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn via my Bufferapp account or from my phone, so they don’t take up too much of my time. Social networks can be valuable promotional tools and great as a means of expanding your professional network, but they shouldn’t take up such a huge chunk of your day.
2. Make EVERYTHING!
Artists tend to be a multi-talented populace. A lot of us know how to make all kinds of things. I am personally good at graphic design, beading and other jewelry making, and fine art (painting, drawing, etc.) When first joining Etsy, it is rather tempting to create a different shop for each skill and think that you can manage all of them and make everything that will be needed to fill them up. Sure go ahead. If you want to burn yourself out.
Reality: your shop(s) will be of much greater quality if you can focus on just one or two things you are good at making and be a provider for them. There is only so much time in each day. If I were to work on creating a custom graphic design packages, and a custom portrait painting, and a custom wedding jewelry set all at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to work on all of the other things necessary to market and fill up my shops. There would be an obvious lack of quality and sense of neglect that would reflect badly on my efforts. Better to make one or two GREAT kinds of products than 10 semi-decent ones.
3. Run a dozen blogs!
I’ve seen it happen. Someone finds out what a great thing blogging can be, so he or she starts a blog for recipes and cooking tips, a crafting blog, a marketing blog, a book review blog, a fashion blog, a spiritual blog, a music review blog, a humor blog, and a personal journal blog.
Goodness gracious I feel tired just thinking about how much that would be to keep up on.
Blogging is great. but it only remains great if you can keep up on it and manage to keep creating quality content. I have >>>1<<< blog that is "my blog." Not 2, not 3, and not 10. I publish a post every weekday (occasionally 2, because I can't help myself.) But I don't have to worry about writing 3 or more posts every day in order to keep a constant rhythm of posts flowing on a whole bunch of different blogs. Instead, when I have that extra urge to blog more, or about subjects that wouldn’t really fit on my own blog, I write them up and offer them as guest posts on other blogs where they might be better suited. Guest posting a great way to promote your blog and/or shop, and is a lot more beneficial than trying to run a dozen different blogs that will end up impossible to maintain without giving up on something else important.
4. Say yes to ALL the favors!
I’ve stressed in some of the other posts in this blog that you need to limit the number of requests you agree to. Especially the “will you do this for me for free?” kind. If you joined every Etsy team you were invited to volunteered to be a leader on every team that asked you to, you would eventually start to question the benefits of Etsy teams in the first place. You can’t always make up a free piece of artwork to donate to every fundraiser that asks you to, and you most certainly cannot agree to do that creative project for every family member and friend that requests it. You time is limited, so must be the number of favors you agree to.
5. Promote on ALL the Blog Giveaways!
As your shop becomes more successful, you may be approached by several bloggers who offer to give your shop a spotlight on their blog in exchange for a giveaway item or a review item. Either way, you will be giving away something you have had to take the time to make and spend the money on supplies to make it for free. I’m not going to tell you not to do this ever, because it can be a very effective way to promote yourself on the cheap, just be weary of who you agree to do it with. Sometimes some relatively new bloggers start making such requests too soon. Check out their blog before agreeing to anything. If they have less than 50 or so followers, and only a handful of posts to boot, then anything greater than an interview feature would not be worth it to you.
Also be sure to check to content of the blog. Even if a blog has gobs and gobs of followers, it may not have the kind of quality content you should be keeping an eye out for. Avoid giveaway-only blogs, that are basically nothing BUT giveaways. The people who follow these blogs follow them because they can win free stuff, not because they are genuinely interested in supporting handmade with their money. They are not as likely to become return customers as on a blog that evenly spaces out their giveaways with ACTUAL CONTENT that shares entertaining and/or useful information. (What you calling a shameless plug? ;-))