How to make more sales in your creative business

Wondering how to make more sales in your creative business? In this article and video, you'll find ten tips to put you on the track to generating more income as soon as possible. // from Michelle Hickey Design #creativebusiness #etsysellers #creativebiztips

May 27, 2019

I’m Michelle.
A modern maker with a classic approach to design. Ever in search
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Wondering how to make more sales in your creative business? We’ve got ten tips to put you on the track to generating more income as soon as possible.

Wondering how to make more sales in your creative business? In this article and video, you'll find ten tips to put you on the track to generating more income as soon as possible. // from Michelle Hickey Design #creativebusiness #etsysellers #creativebiztips

Selling pains

If you’re like me, selling doesn’t come naturally. I used to think that I’d have to change who I am to become successful, but I discovered that being an introvert comes with superpowers.

So we’ve got a big problem to solve today. We’ve got something cool for sale, and nobody is buying it. I’m not even going to try to sugarcoat it. It does not feel good to be in this situation. If any of this sounds familiar to you, let me know in the comments by typing #itme. Because all of these things have been me:

Feeling like a failure.

Feeling embarrassed.

Feeling like there’s something wrong with you.

And, maybe you’ve gone here, or maybe I’m just crazy, but thinking, is it possible that all of these people who claim that it is so easy to make money online have just been lying to us? And, like, everyone is in on it?

Of course, that’s not true, but this is the path we start to go down. To a place of pity, and lack, and conjuring up conspiracy theories.

Turn around because we’re not going that way.

Tip #1 – Change your mindset

If you are operating from that dark place where you’re feeling really bad about yourself, then the next nine tips won’t work. Imagine that you have already experienced the prosperity that you want. Picture those sales coming in. Expect them to come in.

And remember this: you are positioned for success. Every single business in the history of the world started exactly in the same place where you are right now. You are not any less than Apple, Target, or Coca-Cola.

The best thing you can do to attract buyers is to stay uplifted and act as if you’ve already experienced the success you want. And I know this can take a little imagination, but you guys are creative, so put those minds to work.

Tip #2 – Collaborate with another business

Connect with a fellow entrepreneur who sells a product or a service that is complementary to yours, and team up to present a supercharged offering to both of your audiences. In doing so, you’ll double your value and reach. Many years ago, I wrote a guest post on Remodelaholic, a blog with a far bigger audience than mine. But I had a skill that they were lacking. I knew how to design printables.

In combining forces, we were able to share a value-packed blog post that still sends traffic to my Etsy shop and helps me generate sales today.

As introverts, I know that this action of reaching out to someone else is easier said than done. Especially when you’re just starting out and you don’t feel like you have much to offer.

If you’re feeling apprehensive, start by listing the skills you feel most confident in before making contact. Lead with your strengths, be yourself, and understand that you have the potential to help this business just as much, if not more than they will be helping you.

Tip #3 – Show up, consistently

Take the pressure off yourself to try to be on all social platforms. Choose one. The one where you feel the most comfortable hanging out and showing up daily. This simple act demonstrates that you are reliable and the real deal.

When was the last time you purchased a brand new business that you knew very little about? Show your audience that you are about being there for them and in doing so, establish trust, which is a key factor in any sales transaction.

Even if you only have one follower, and it’s your mom, show up anyway. When that potential customer lands on your page, they will be able to see your track record and it won’t take much convincing for them to see that you are a professional who means business.

Tip #4 – Offer incentives that add value

When you aren’t making sales, it is tempting to start slashing your prices. But this is the act of a desperate person who doesn’t believe in what they are selling, and that is not you. If you’re feeling like this is you, go back to tip #1.

Lowering the cost of your product or services is basically saying to your audience, that what they are about to buy isn’t really of value to them. Not the message you want to be sending.

Instead, think of what you can do to keep your prices the same— or maybe even raise them, and add something that would be extremely helpful to your buyer. Maybe you already have people who are stopping in to check out your offerings but they have some objections, and one of them is that they aren’t sure how to use what you’re selling.

This was the case for me. Most of the items in my shop were printables. Meaning that when the customer made their purchase, it was then up to them to figure out where and how to get it printed. I solved this problem by including printing guides with my items so that it was easier for my customers to start using their designs right away.

The act of being helpful, and addressing a potential concern, set me apart from other shops that were selling similar products. Again, think back to purchases you’ve made and companies who you’ve worked with. Make it an easy decision for your customer by overdelivering rather than undercutting.

Tip #5 – Surround yourself with success

Chances are, you decided to start your creative business in the first place because you saw or heard a story about someone else who did it. You got proof that what you wanted to experience was possible. But ever since you started your venture, it’s been nothing but doubt.

You need to stay uplifted and to continually be reminding yourself that success is possible and inevitable. The best way to do so would be to have as many conversations with high achieving business owners as possible. But I get it. We’re introverts and we’d really rather not talk to anyone if at all possible.

So let’s take advantage of the ridiculous amount of free content that’s available to us, and enjoy it on our own terms. I’m talking about reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos.

I’m a pretty positive person, and people often ask me, how are you always so optimistic? It’s because I am listening to success stories all the time, through podcasts and audiobooks. I read articles about people who pushed the envelope and made their dreams come true, despite all odds. I don’t give my mind the chance to think, “what if this doesn’t work,” because I’ve bombarded it with so much proof of what is possible.

You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, Jim Rohn so wisely said. Who are you listening to? Who is in your head?

Tip #6 – Create an email opt-in

Do you know what’s harder than making a sale? Getting people to show up. So when they do, even if they don’t buy anything from you, you do not want for that person to disappear into the abyss of the internet. You need to be able to connect with each person who lands in your shop or your sales page and the best way to do that is to offer something of value, for free, in exchange for their contact information.

This is not so that you can bombard them with sales offers, but to get to know them. Again, I know we introverts aren’t really looking for more friends, but this can all be done behind the keyboard, so we’re safe.

Having email contact information gives you the opportunity to ask questions about what problems your audience are facing and to spark ideas on how you can help. This means you creating the right products and having a built in audience of people who are ready to buy.

I recommend and use the platforms Flodesk and Convertkit. Get signed up, create one email opt-in form and a free helpful resource that your audience would love to download.

For more on email marketing tips, check out this article: How to Increase Your Email Marketing Conversions

Tip #7  – Work with an influencer

I’m not talking about the girl who is perpetually dressed in Coachella-wear. Unless that’s your audience. I’m talking about bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers who would be your ideal customer. They don’t need to have 3 million followers. A small but targeted following will serve you best.

Think of some creative ways that you can provide the right influencer with a product that you sell or a service that you offer in exchange for an honest review.

Go back and visit Tip #1 again before attempting this, because it’s going to feel uncomfortable unless you’re confident in what you’re proposing. Trust that you will connect with the right person, even if it takes a few tries.

I would start by looking at some of the bloggers and Instagrammers who you already follow, or industry friends who you may have connected with. If you’re serious about making sales, stay open to possibility, and even perhaps, reaching out to somebody new.

Tip #8 – Work for free

I realize this is completely contradictory to what I shared in Tip #4.

This strategy is about creating a track record, behind the scenes. Not out in public where you’re bearing the inner workings of your initial business growth.

I was my first customer. I used to create custom wedding invitations and well before anyone purchased them from me, I got some experience under my belt by working for free, and providing that service to myself, first, for my own wedding. And then to my sisters, my cousins, friends, and eventually their friends.

Not only did it give me confidence in my craft, but each of those free customers were able to provide me with testimonials that spoke to my skills and their experience in working with me. Another customer/client objection addressed.

Whenever someone is about to buy from you, they are wondering, is this person going to deliver in the way they say they will? Give them the proof that they need that you are the real deal so that they don’t have to guess.

Tip #9 – Hang out in the right places

When you sign up to be a business owner, you’re not just offering a product or a service. You are becoming part of a community. And if you want for your business to be successful, you have to have a presence in that community, publicly sharing that you care about what you’re selling and the people who are going to buy from you.

I know that we want to be taken seriously, and to be an authority figure but we also need to be a real person. Chances are, if you’re reading this, your business is somewhat centric to something that you enjoy. Whether that be your craft, like if you do hand lettering, or if you blog about horses, hang out with your people as much as possible.

This should be easy, because you just get to be yourself. Participate in challenges that your fellow business owners are hosting or start your own. Engage in conversations in Facebook Groups, and start new ones through private messages. Don’t use your introversion as an excuse here. You can be social in whatever way feels most comfortable and natural to you.

And above all, excercise this tip without an agenda. You’re not trying to score leads. You’re establishing yourself as a presence in your niche. When people think, “watercolor” or “art therapy,” you should come to mind.

Tip #10 – Ask

This is the tip that has the potential to truly bring you all the sales you’re hoping for— and more, but it will take a little bit of patience on your part. It starts by exercising many of the tips we already discussed— showing up consistently, engaging in your community, getting experience, and inviting people to join your email list. Once you’ve done that for a few months, you’ll have data to work with.

You’ll have had conversations with potential customers, engaged in community conversations about things that are happening in your niche, and you will have spotted concerns, questions, and people saying, “I wish that…”. It is your job as a business owner to always be in tune with the needs and desires of your audience.

What are they asking for? What would make their life better? Once you have people on your email list or following you on social media, you can take the opportunity to ask this question, directly. When it comes to (fill in the blank, with whatever your area of expertise is), what could be improved?

When you are able to obtain that answer, you can be the one to come up with a solution. Maybe it’s a new product or service, or maybe its a modification of something that you already sell.

The bottom line is, if you’re creating products and services based on what other people are selling or on what you think might work, 9/10 times, you’re going to be wrong.

If you want to create a product or a service that is guaranteed to sell, build something that people are telling you that they want to buy.

Bonus Tip!

That last tip may have tripped some of you up. It’s not the easiest thing to be patient, and expect answers from an audience, that you might not have yet, but it is worth putting in that time and trusting that they will come to you. As you are speculating what this ideal product or service might be for your business, please keep in mind that we are in the life-improvement business, not the life-saving business (unless you are a doctor).

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to feel like we need to fix every problem in the world when that’s never what our customers expect of us. I feel like I’m constantly dropping this quote from Pat Flynn, but it’s so relevant here: “If you want to change someone’s life, start by changing their day.”

In our case, when you are thinking about selling your audience what they need, it may not mean creating something new but finding an innovative way of delivering their solution. For example, Uber did not invent the idea of a taxi. That concept had been around for a long time.

But they listened to what the people of our world were complaining about and did something about it.

I wish there was a way to get a ride without having to stand out in the street and wave my hand, hoping that someone sees me. It would also be awesome if I didn’t even have to talk.

So the Uber founders said, what if you could press a button and your car will show up on demand? What if you could pay them right from your phone if you don’t have cash on you?

They didn’t invent anything new other than how we used existing products and services. And as we know they went on to influence other businesses to adopt similar models. In literally under 30 seconds, I can order my Chipotle by holding my face up to my phone and without saying a word, and it will show up at my front door in less than 30 minutes.

That is modern-day magic. And you can create that same type of wonder for your customers if you’re just willing to listen, and use that creativity inside of you!

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