Over the course of the last few months I have been playing with the idea of sharing my journey month by month through this year. (If you want to read the full post about that go to: How to Write your Own Success Story post.)
I think sharing my journey will be good for me for a number of reasons.
When I first started in the stationery world I made plenty of mistakes and made bad assumptions about so many different things.
I also joined a group of other industry peers, took online and in-person classes, and took on way too much (in the form of going to the National Stationery Show with basically no anything). It was these decisions that slingshot me forward, and gave me years worth of industry knowledge in a very short amount of time.
Whenever I get together in a group atmosphere with other hand made, woman run, business owners–the desire that I have to help and give advice is overwhelming.
I feel obligated to pull others up with me, even those in my industry. I don’t see my peers as competition. (Someone buying my cards is going to do so because of my personal brand style and message. It’s not because it’s a piece of paper with an envelope.)
When we all rise up and move forward–and we bring others with us–it can only be positive for the industry and the world as a whole. Imagine how much change and positivity can be brought into the world if we have a ton of people sharing their light? As opposed to one light trying to do the work of everyone–while simultaneously trying to put everyone else's lights out.
Doing my B&O taxes in mid January was a bit of an eye opener for me. I was not even close to where I wanted to be (business wise). If I kept going the way I had been, I was going to be out of business before the middle of 2017.
2016 was a year of big changes for me and my business. It is the foundation on which everything moving forward is going to be built.
At the beginning of 2016 I hadn’t been sleeping longer than 2 hours at a time for months (because baby), I was in the process of redesigning my logo, starting my line of paper goods over from scratch (I scrapped my entire line towards the end of 2015). I also decided to learn and focus on hand lettering, while simultaneously designing and developing the brand for my new website and binging on business podcasts.
I will say it again: 2016 was the year of foundation. I was in learning mode, I was starting fresh, and I was beginning to find my visual and literary voice.
And after going to seanwes conference in October:
When I write that out it seems crazy, my monthly sales will have to be close to what I made the entire year in order to achieve this goal.
BUT, last year I was focused on building my base and not focused at all on selling. Any sales I made were the result of luck and circumstance.
I am planning on the majority of my money to be made towards the end of this year. I expect my marketing plan to take a little time to bake (relationship building is more of a marathon than a sprint–especially when you want to do it right and actually make long lasting relationships with the people you are going to be partnering with), and as with any retail buying cycles–I am expecting a bit of ups and downs as opposed to steady income.
I set a big goal for January that is about 45% of what my monthly goal should be (when averaged for the year to 10X). Having just begun my wholesale outreach I was hoping to capitalize on stores buying for Valentine’s Day after the holiday season, so my marketing was aimed at getting my Love and Friendship cards front and center.
Since I am starting from square one I was reaching out to new businesses and boutiques who have never heard of me. I am introducing myself and beginning to build relationships with store owners and buyers.
These were all pretty much cold leads (meaning that they have never heard of me or my line), or they were stores I had worked with before but back when my line was completely different.
*note neither one of the orders I received was in direct relation to my marketing outreach.
I was way short of my goal I had set for January (like 60% short). I was banking on stores placing orders from me for Valentine’s Day. This just didn’t happen. Of the responses I received from stores that responded to my emails, I gathered that they were ordering from lines they already had relationships with and that they weren’t bringing in new lines at that time.
This tells me I need to keep in contact with them and keep pinging them every time I have new cards launching or value to add for them. When they see that I am serious, that I am not going away, and that I REALLY REALLY want to work with them, they will give me a shot.
(I am writing this post a little delayed and it is already mid February but I am going to pretend that I am sending this out at the beginning of the month as I plan to do moving forward.)
February is Valentine's Day month and I will be:
My income goal for February is going to be half of what I set for January. The reason I set a lower goal for this month is that buyers have likely spent a bunch of money on Valentine's Day orders and NYNow (a big gift and stationery show that happened in the beginning of the month) and they will be most likely holding off on more orders until The National Stationery Show (NSS) in May.
I will be continuing to introduce myself to new stores. Sending postcards, my promo, and samples to stores I have already contacted with the aim of taking advantage of the next buying cycle.For the creative side of my business:
I am going to be creating some new cards and products to launch in sync with NSS. Even though I won’t be showing in person there, it is a great time to get my line in front of buyers who will be receiving tons of NSS Promo Mailers. Even if they themselves aren’t going to the show, they will be ordering from the brands that are all contacting them and launching new things.
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