See the full list of needs here.
Sometimes I am overcome with excitement just thinking about how much knowledge is open to us. We have libraries, universities, friends and neighbors… and then there’s that vast world of the internet. Almost any question we have or interest we think of can be researched within hours if not minutes. Hobbyists and entrepreneurs are able to open business with nothing but the power of the internet and their own guts and determination.
And as polyentrepreneurs, we need this. We really don’t have time to try things out ourselves; if we’re to have any time to actually start and run our businesses, we need to take advantage of the wealth of information and experience others make available through blogs, books, and programs.
Start with the basics.
If you’ve never done x before (x=started an online shop/blog, recorded an album, used Photoshop, etc.) then you should definitely start with a source that covers all the basics. And by basics, I mean the stuff that is objective – legal matters like business licenses and finances, getting to know the ins and outs of any software or websites you’ll be using, etc. This stuff can be pretty dull when you want to jump right in and list items or play with photos, but it’ll save you lots of time, money, and heartache in the future. Etsy and other selling sites often have entire handbooks to help you get started, which I strongly recommend at least skimming.
Find voices you agree with.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to find a core of advice-givers that resonate with you. (I’ll include links to some of my favorites at the end.) No matter how good your instincts are, you want to be reading the advice of others on a daily basis. Someone will inevitably think of something you haven’t or convince you to try something you’d written off, or even just phrase something in a way that prompts your own thinking process.
A good way to start off is by just doing some kind of general search on Google – “more sales on Etsy” or something to that effect. Click on a few sites that look interesting to you, read a post or two, and if you’re even mildly interested subscribe to their newsletters. You’ll find out within a few emails if they’re really the kind of people you’re interested in – if you find yourself deleting their newsletters without even opening them, it’s time to unsubscribe!
Keep your eyes open.
Your needs and interest will gradually change, so don’t let yourself be stuck with the same blogs for the rest of your life. Take note of any guest posts you enjoy, articles you see pinned or shared, and bloggers you see promoted, and follow them back to the source. When I started my Etsy shop I was subscribed to only one blog, and almost all of the blogs I now read have come from me following links from guest posts! (I also no longer read any of the blogs I read back then; I outgrew them all or they stopped posting.)
Keep an eye on the competition, too.
There’s a lot you can learn from those in the your field. Don’t be afraid to try out a few things you’ve seen others do – imitate a jewelry technique or color scheme, cover a song, or write your own thoughts on another blogger’s topic. At the very least it’ll keep you on your toes, and may even spur your creativity to new and great ideas!
With this advice comes the caveat: be yourself at all times and don’t copy. I’ve seen some of our competitors try to copy us, and it’s never gone well for them. All the knockoffs at dirt-cheap prices in the world won’t make up for your lack of innovation.
Marketing Creativity: This blog is my current overall favorite! Lisa Jacobs writes quick, helpful, thought-provoking articles and posts several times a week. Her focus is on creative businesses.
Marie Forleo: Marie posts one or two videos a week of her answering questions and/or talking with industry experts. Focus: “creating a business and life you love!”
Smaller Box: This blog isn’t updated regularly, but when it is updated it always packs a punch. Meredith is a partner in a fairly successful t-shirt company and her advice is geared more towards bigger small business like her own (that is ones with six-figure incomes) but there’s still a lot to be gleaned for any small business owner.
What blogs or sites have you found useful? Feel free to comment below!