Persistence is Key / August in Review

PersistenceisKey-starmagnolias

I was recently watching Chase Jarvis LIVE with Gary Vaynerchuk, who recently put out a new book that I am interested in reading, and the whole conversation was very enlightening. I mean, it's not anything I was surprised to hear; it's something that I've been thinking about a lot as I work on getting my name out there and trying to find a balance between doing the work and doing the marketing. I know I have to do both. And I know I have to have patience. Though, to be honest, a slow build isn't a bad thing at all. If this whole thing had exploded in my face, it would've been amazing BUT I'd have to deal with the possibility of burn out as well as an inability to meet deadlines. Remember, this isn't my only responsibility - I have a family. I have mouths to feed, bills to pay, a home to keep, relationships to maintain, kids that have play dates and play groups, a preschooler who's starting pre-ballet this month and possibly swimming lessons in the near future. Some of these entrepreneurs (not Gary, but a few others) seem to come off as if everything else has to take a backburner to your dreams. There are those who run these retreats and events and don't appear to have a life outside of that. For me that's not possible. Not that I want it to be that way. I'm sure there are still some time wasters that I could cut out of my day, but many of those are also an outlet, a mental break of sorts. I need a routine. I need to find my balance, and within that, I need to find a balance between creating and marketing. I am grateful for the slow build, because it gives me a chance to adapt and work things into my schedule. It seems to be going faster than it did for Gary, who mentioned that he was filming his wine show every day for 18 months before anyone watched it. Patience is key!

MARKETING/ANALYTICS:

Despite the fact that I didn't do any promo group activities this month, my Facebook page JUMPED this month in comparison to last month. I attribute that to the new addition to my line-up, that being my Youtube channel. And that got 10 subscribers already! So let's look at the social media:

Social Media Analytics for August

Look at that jump on Facebook! (tip, if you hover over the bars you can see the actual numbers) Engagement increased by 444% since July, and my reach hit over 10k, which is a 1174% increase! As much as I hope that each thing I do goes semi-viral, I don't think that's something I can maintain on that scale from month to month. Though Twitter doesn't appear to have moved much, I did get far more retweets than last month. The hard thing with these is it's hard to track unfollows, so while I may get new followers I did lose one or two along the way. Overall, I'm just looking for a pattern of growth.

My blog seems to have hit a pattern, now that people know I rarely post mid-week. I used to get at least one visitor on a daily basis, but now there are days that go by without a visit. In any case, let's look at the numbers:

Blog Analytics

I think the drop is from not doing much in the way of promoting the blog this month. I focused more on starting up my Youtube channel and getting my videos out there. So I definitely need to keep up with that to help grow the number of readers. That and start thinking about putting out additional content mid-week in addition to the Sunday posts.

PRODUCT:

eweandlamb-starmagnolias

This month I only added the Ewe and Lamb art to my Etsy shop; however, I did sell the little Lithops #1! I also got a sale in my TPT store, so despite not a lot of current shop activity on my part, it's still getting noticed and even got a few more followers. That is my goal with that one, to get enough digital product in there that it becomes a nice bonus income. It's a lot of work to put in up front, but once it's done, it's available in there unless I delete it. 

THINGS MADE:

On to the fun stuff (because I know how much you love the analytics above, lol)! While only one of the things I made went into my shop, I did make a few more things:

snowowl-starmagnolias

This snow owl is one I'd been working on for a little over a year, as a gift for my daughter. Last year we updated her room from a nursery to a little girl's room and went with an owl theme due to her love of owls (which is thankfully still the case). I shared this across several needle felting groups on Facebook, and it ultimately made it's way in to Living Felt's newsletter that week. For those of you who aren't familiar with the medium, LF one of my favorite suppliers of wool (there are a few). 

handselfportrait-starmagnolias

Funny story about the hand: It's for the needle felting exchange group (I've shared some of the other things I've made for that group on here), and this month was self-portraits. At first, I considered making a pincushion, because in the context of needle felting, I have a habit of pricking myself quite often, especially with making three dimensional objects. Ironically I probably pricked myself the most while making this hand. So then I thought of making my left hand. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed appropriate to make a hand as a self portrait. My hands are one of my most important assets. I use them to make the food that feeds my family. I use them to rub my kids on the back when they need comforting. To hold their hands when we walk through a parking lot, or keep them out of harm's way. I use my hands to clean my home, and tend to my garden. I use them to communicate with my friends, most of which is done virtually. I use my hands to do my work, make my art. My hands are very important to me - I'm not sure what I'd do without them. I did film the process of making of this, which will be going up on Youtube in the coming week. I think it would double as a great halloween prop when not being used as a pincushion (or needle holder), and I had fun chasing the kids with it.

treelogo-starmagnolias

Of course, I couldn't forget about this one! After reaching 100 likes on my Facebook page, I held a gratitude giveaway - people who entered got a chance to win a three-dimensional needle felted work (but I didn't tell them what I was making). So the winner, announced on the page, will be receiving this star tree. If it looks familiar, that's because it was inspired by my logo. I will continue to hold gratitude giveaways for big milestones (so the next would be 200 likes), but they will not be the same thing each time. 

August goal review:

  • Continue participating in the blog promo group, and possibly join others. - I did one, otherwise it didn't happen because my focus went to making videos. This goes back on the list for September.
  • Continue tweaking the look of social media channels. - I didn't tweak them any more, didn't really see the need to do so, but I did continue the branding through to the Youtube channel. 
  • Work on adding more product to the Teachers Pay Teachers shop as well as Etsy. - There is one item I'm in the process of making for TPT with a few other ideas floating in my head. Also, I did list the Ewe and Lamb on Etsy.
  • Get a jump start on more blog posts so I'm not writing them at the last minute (like now). - I'm having a hard time with this one. I do have ideas in my head, but the weeks fly by so quickly. This also gets moved to September's goals.
  • Focus more attention on Instagram, post more often. - I did give IG a bit more love this month and it seems to be working. I'd like to continue this.
  • Continue focusing attention on Twitter, since it seems to be working for me. - It isn't growing as much as I'd hoped, so I need to think about tweaking my posts.
  • Start thinking about big art projects - this isn't just about selling and marketing, there's a deeper reason behind all this, and one that I have not forgotten. - You saw this with the Ewe and Lamb piece and the completion of the Snow Owl. 

goals for september:

I joined a new needle felting group on Facebook (because I guess I'm not in enough of them, lol), and wow, some of the things people are sharing in there are amazing. Let's just say that I know I still have so much room for improvement in my work. I wouldn't classify my art as beginner or novice by any means, after all I've been doing this for three years. But, it's nice to see how much further I can take this medium. I really appreciate all the inspiration. So, in addition to the ones that got moved from August, here are a few other goals I have in mind:

  • Make more stuff! Seriously, I did craft quite a bit more this past month, by which I mean completed more larger scale projects than I have in the past. But I really would like to get more than just one item in the shop this month.
  • Add two more products to TPT. Two shouldn't be difficult to attain.
  • Find my balance. It's difficult keeping up with both creating my art and marketing it, but think I'm finally getting the hang of it. So really, this is more about planning out my week and setting up a routine. It's about strategy.
  • Since a good portion of my new followers are other needle felters, I'd like to get some posts on the blog with helpful tips on needle felting. Maybe an infographic or few that can be printed out for easy reference.
  • Be on the lookout for calls for artists. I'd like to get a nice collection of work going, enter a few contests and who knows, maybe get an invitation to exhibit my art.

Thanks for reading! Here's to a successful and productive September!