20 Apr10 Second Test
When a new person visits your website or shop, you have to make a good first impression right away. That’s why I taught you The Website Squint Test a while back. But today I want to teach you another great tool for evaluating your website’s efficacy so you can avoid having visitors hit the X, leaving your site for good.
Today’s tool is called the 10 Second Test. Grab a friend, family member, stranger… seriously, just ask the person next to you at a coffee shop to give up 30 seconds of their time.
1. Pop open your site and set a timer for 10 seconds. Have the person look at your homepage for just 10 seconds, trying to take in as much as they can.
2. When the 10 seconds are up, close the website and ask them what they know about it.
If they can tell you what you sell and describe who it might appeal to, you’re in good shape. But they might not be able to do that, which can give you really great information about where your site is ineffective.
For instance, if you sell hand-painted silk scarves alongside watercolor portraits and the person you tested says, “I think you sell scarves.” you know instantly that you haven’t given them enough information. They couldn’t discern that the there was something special about the scarves. And they had no idea that you also sell watercolor portraits.
So to improve your site, you might feature a watercolor portrait next to the picture of scarves and you might have some large text saying something like, “the personal touch of a hand-painted scarf takes every outfit to the next level of chic”.
Go find someone who hasn’t seen your site before and doesn’t know what you do. You can find people in relaxed settings like a church gathering, a park, a coffee shop, or even catching your neighbor as they get their mail. Then give them the 10 Second Test. Write down the results and what you can do to fix any problem areas. Then add those to your work calendar so you get them done!
12 JanArtist’s Block
Ever get stuck? You’re trying to sketch out a new design or maybe you’re just staring at a totally blank canvas… it totally sucks!
Everyone always talks about the ways to get past it. It’s good advice like taking a walk, changing mediums, eating a good meal, flipping through a magazine… I always recommend that artists keep an inspiration file (either digitally, like in Evernote, or physically in a sketchbook) that’s available in their studio space.
But when it comes down to it – you just have to start.
Put the pen to the paper, dip the brush in the paint, grab a skein of yarn… just start.
When you’re building a business around your art or craft, finding the meaning behind your passion, your gift, your skill, is crucial to your ability to market your work and to continue feeling fulfilled by your work. It is important, then, to discover what it is that gives your work purpose in the world. Today’s action step is to figure out the sweet purpose behind your art. This is a personal process, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Doodle. Just sit with your sketchbook and doodle about your customers, your finished products finding their homes, the way people feel when they see your work, etc. Get a sense for the mood that results on the page. Often, that is what you are giving your customers and yourself.
2. Meditate. If you aren’t into this kind of stuff (I’m not), don’t think of it as meditation. Think of it as quiet reflection. Get in a a space all to yourself with no distractions (turn those gadgets off!). Maybe light candles. Give yourself two or three questions to ruminate on. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes of reflection to tease out what wonderful things you bring to the world through your art. By the way, if you are usually strapped for time or find your attention divided by kids, the day job, or any manner of other issues, you could just extend your shower tomorrow. No one will bug you while you’re in there (I hope!) and the things you have to do (washing your hair, soaping up, shaving your legs, etc.) are very mindless so you can easily be deep in thought while you do them. Still, make sure you give yourself 30 minutes, minimum.
3. Survey. Ask previous customers why they purchased your art. The responses will surprise you and as long as you get permission, you can use them as testimonials on your website and social media to help set the stage for a new customer making a purchase. Plus, you’ll discover, straight from the source, exactly what benefit you are giving your customers*.
4. Assess. If you’ve got an analytical mind, you can spend some time going through your statistics. Match up highs and lows in traffic and sales with different marketing language you used to discover what feelings entice people to check out your website and what feelings are behind their actual purchases. The bonus in this is that you immediately align your discovery (what benefit you bring your customers) with tangible action you can take (using more of the successful marketing).
5. Call in the troops. If you’re really struggling to figure out why you do what you do, it might be time to ask for help. Friends and family are better resources than you think and they offer a perspective you may never have considered about what your work does for you and offers to others. Failing that, speaking with a career coach could be just what you need to get things clear in your head and on paper.
What things have you done to discover the purpose behind your art? I’d love to hear them in the comments and hopefully it will help someone else on their quest for that sweet purpose in their work.
*Because every sale in the history of sales is driven by a benefit to the customer in some way. No exceptions.
01 JanNew Year Declaration
Take a moment to make some sort of declaration for yourself about the year to come. I find resolutions too specific to stick to. When you screw up and eat that piece of pie after swearing you would only have sweets on Sundays, you feel awful. And frequently it means you just throw away the whole resolution altogether because you “already screwed it up”.
So instead, I think it’s appropriate to revisit how you want to feel in the coming year and the bigger ideas behind your intentions for 2013.
I hope you had as lovely a holiday season as I did!
15 DecThe Myth of Readiness
When you start selling your art, really when you start any business, there’s this driving force in your mind that is always telling you to wait just a little longer before you take the next step.
You say to yourself, “My site doesn’t look good enough to link it in a magazine article yet.” So you don’t answer the media callout you saw for unique glass blowers, despite feeling well-suited for the article.
Or perhaps you say, “I haven’t really hit my stride as an artist, so I should wait a little while until I look for media opportunities.”
Or even outside the media world, you avoid most ways to advance your business because you think you’re just not ready.
Well the truth is: you aren’t ready. Nope, you are not ready for whatever big (or little) opportunity that has presented itself. But you’ll never be ready. There hasn’t been a single time in my business that I’ve thought, “Gosh, I am so prepared for this.” It doesn’t happen. And if it does, the opportunity will probably turn out to be a dud.
It just so happens that good things don’t come when you’re “ready”. They come when you decide to take action despite not being ready. And that means moving past any fears you have about your ability as an artist or as a business owner. Every amazing artist and every amazing entrepreneur started at square one, with no experience and little ability (if any). The only way to move past “no experience and little ability” is to take action and move forward, ready or not.
Action Step: Your job this coming week is to move forward on something you’ve been putting off. Stretch outside your comfort zone. Maybe you’ve been thinking about taking new product photos but you don’t know much about your camera or editing software? Well then schedule time in your week right now to play with your camera and test out different buttons in your photo editor until you learn what’s useful for you. Then go ahead and schedule time in next week’s calendar to actually take product shots and edit them.
Whatever you’ve been setting aside for when you’re “ready”, let’s get it crossed off your list. Time to take action. Feel free to report back here with your results or with problems you run into and I’ll walk you through a solution or celebrate your accomplishment with you.
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