My April and May Progress reports are being lumped together.
The main reason is that I don’t really have much to report growth-wise in April. I basically shut down my wholesale outreach funnel to focus on drawing, digitizing, printing and creating marketing collateral for my new product launch for May. My available business hours were basically cut in half because of my childcare availability so if I was going to get anything accomplished I needed to focus, and sadly blogging fell low down on the list.
Now it is June and I am finally getting back to my new wholesale account acquisition. I have a few other things coming down the pipeline which I will go into more detail about a little towards the end of this post.
Pitched: 4 new stores by email
Sent: 10 standard promotional mailers
Sent: 144 NSS no-go promotional mailers that included samples
Sent: 40 follow up emails
PR Pitched: 2 press outlets and one podcast
Side Project: Created a 30 days of letter writing PDF lead magnet and posted the corresponding content daily on Instagram for the entire month of April.
Picked up more than 100 Instagram followers
Applied for and was accepted into 2 craft fairs and 1 local wholesale trade show.
Taught a design and letterpress workshop.
Took on a custom design client: Created a New Baby Suite- birth announcement, thank you note, meet the baby invitation
Finalized designs for and printed 26 new products
1 new wholesale account acquired
Writing all of that out looks like I accomplished a lot in 2 months. I think with the slow start of the year and knowing that creating my new release would take away from my outreach efforts, I wanted to jam a bunch of things in my schedule to try to make up for those 2 possible setbacks.
Moving forward I need to do a better job of splitting my time between new account acquisition and new product creation a little better. I have been operating as one or the other for the first half of the year. This needs to be something that is more of a side by side process. Especially since I’ve learned that I need to account for a lot more time to adequately prepare for my new product releases.
One thing that will help me will be to do smaller releases. But I definitely need to plan more time in the implementation stage. That stage includes updating my line sheet, website, Etsy Wholesale page, and sending out emails or snail mail announcing the release, and sending follow up emails after the fact.
My wholesale account list isn’t growing as fast as I would like it to so I have had to get a little creative about different ways I can diversify my income with my limited time schedule.
Sending emails is a slow process. There isn’t a lot of feedback one way or the other and it’s something that is going to build overtime as I continue to reach out to the same stores over and over.
If I want to get more accounts quicker I need to go where they are and where they are looking to buy.
So Diversification #1 is trade shows and wholesale events.
I am not financially ready to make the leap into a larger trade show so when the opportunity to do local events that have a focus on wholesale buyers opened up for me-I jumped at the chance.
I will be set up for wholesale buyers at the Urban Craft Uprising Wholesale Event on Monday, June 26. (Click the link to register as a buyer and come visit me!)
I will also be exhibiting at the Seattle Gift Show August 18th-21st. This show is strictly for Wholesale Buyers and I will be in the Urban Craft Uprising section with many other handmade vendors.
Diversification #2 is Craft Shows and Pop Up events.
Meeting my customers and introducing my brand to a larger audience is another way to grow my business. The best part about in-person events is the ability to talk with people who like my work and find out why. I love hearing which cards people are drawn to and why they resonate with them and their friends.
I will be doing 2 PopUp Shops in June.
I will also be vending at 2 Craft Fairs this summer:
Diversification #3 Workshops.
I have a student that I have been teaching design and letterpress workshops to. For our first project we created a Valentine’s Day card and for our second project we made an invitation for her Grandparent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.
These workshops are broken down into 2+ sessions. First we design, and once we have final artwork I order our letterpress plates. The second session is reserved for letterpress printing. We focus on mixing ink, cutting paper, and using the printing press.
Diversification #4 Custom Work.
This is something that I take on on a case by case basis, project and time permitting.
For my most current custom project I designed a thank you card, birth announcement, and new baby invitation with an elephant theme.
I also recently had someone order a large quantity of a temporary tattoo I designed for the Women's March back in January for her daughter's high school Grad Night party.
Having my income come from a few different places not only expands my offerings but also takes all of my eggs out of one basket so I am not 100% reliant on one revenue stream.
I believe that one of the secret ingredients to a successful business is Press. This is something that you need to go out and get. It doesn’t matter how far along you are in your journey, if you have something interesting to share, people will help you share it.
Editors for blogs and other content offerings (blogs, local publications, magazines) are always looking for new stories. You can help make their job easier by pitching your story to them.
I am making a conscious effort to make Press a part of my business strategy. I feel like this is the secret ingredient that can help make your efforts snowball. Ever notice how it seems like the successful businesses seem to be everywhere and you seem to hear about them all at once. This is not a coincidence.
• I recently had a blog post published on OSBP. This was a story that I pitched, wrote and provided photos for.
• I also have an interview style blog post coming soon on Sass Punch Blog. This blog is curated by a friend of mine and when she mentioned she was looking for other stationery companies to feature i jumped at the chance.
• I signed up to record a Podcast with Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp called Proof to Product. Now this one scares me. But I have made a promise to myself to pursue Press opportunities that come my way. If I have fear, then I need to push through and do it anyway.
Growth happens outside of your comfort zone and that fear I am feeling is only telling me that this is going to be uncomfortable and the positives in this case outweigh all the negatives.
I hate regret and I am trying to live my life with as little regret as possible.
The more people who hear about me and my brand the better. Being able to provide value and talk about my story across multiple mediums will only result in good things for me. And being able to link to all of these things when I reach out to prospective retailers help provide me with credibility which is key when trying to build business relationships.
I have really 10Xed my efforts this year. I am going all in and working really hard to get my business running. BUT if I continue at this pace I WILL burn out. It’s good to take time to relax, and it’s also good to let go sometimes and delegate.
Promises I am making to myself to protect my health and really the business in the long term.
So that is basically all. It’s been a busy 2 months and this summer is looking to be very busy as well. I am looking forward to all the events I have planned and meeting and talking with as many people as this introvert can possibly handle.
I can’t wait to report my results and lessons learned from all the events.
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