Inside DesignSponge: Interview with Grace Bonney

Inside DesignSponge: Tara Gentile interviews Grace Bonney

For the latest episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., I sat down with Grace Bonney, founder of the iconic design blog brand DesignSponge.

DesignSponge started in 2004, which means it’s seen the ups, downs, twists, and turns of the lifestyle and design blog industry. Grace has weathered all of these, plus big personal changes, too.

Last year, Grace moved to from Brooklyn to Upstate New York. Brooklyn had been a main character in Grace’s story and a huge influence on her point of view. So I was eager to find out how she had changed her relationship to her company, the site, and the world of blogging.

She said that in the city it was so easy to get caught up in the push to be #1, to land the big deals, and to be on top with page views. Moving upstate has put that all in perspective. The change was noticeable.

While she might not use these exact words, I loved how Grace talked at length about the craft of blogging and the craftsmanship of running a site like DesignSponge—from the way she approaches her team to the way she developed the concept for her forthcoming book.

Grace also shared her thoughts on creatives being paid for their work—something she’s been vocal about for years. Her views are nuanced and evolving and it was a real treat to talk with her about this important topic.

As always, I probed into how DesignSponge generates revenue, how the team is structured, and the role of collaboration in her company. Grace also shared about how her attitude toward “being the boss” has evolved over the last 11 years.

Pay close attention to how Grace balances ambition and the pursuit of what’s important in her personal life. She does it beautifully, and she should be a role model for creative and idea-driven entrepreneurs who don’t want to give up their lives to pursue their dreams.

Click here to listen to my interview with Grace on iTunes.

If you’re loving Profit. Power. Pursuit. be sure to subscribe in your favorite podcast player and leave us a review on iTunes.

Learn more about Grace’s forthcoming book on women in business here.

Photo of Grace by Christoper Sturman

Don’t Be Cheap: Megan Auman on the Investment Mindset

With all the talk about how cheap it is to start a business today, it seems like that old adage “you have to spend money to make money” has gone the way of the fax machine. And, it’s true that you can put up a website and offer your product or service for next to nothing.

Yet, it’s also true that once you get started you realize the copious amount of ways you could be spending money: a designer, a virtual assistant, a trade show, an advertising account, a coach, etc… Even the little subscriptions add up fast.

Tara Gentile interviews Megan Auman on the investment mindset

I know many creative and idea-driven business owners who decry the expenses associated with running their businesses. But it seems successful business owners figure out how to not only become comfortable spending money to make money but become excited at the prospect of investing in themselves.

Running a Business With an Investment Mindset

Megan Auman, designer, educator, and metalsmith, is one of those successful creative business owners. I’ve always been impressed with Megan’s investment mindset and her ability to quickly make decisions about spending money (and even using debt) in order to further the goals of her business.

Megan has never been attracted to doing things the cheap way. She’d rather get results and get them fast by making investments in quality tools, materials, and opportunities.

When you listen to my interview with Megan Auman, take special note of all of the factors that go into making an investment decision. Spending money is fun—but it has to be smart, too.

Click here to listen on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe & leave us a review! Thanks!

Finding Confidence To Make the Big Promise with Sue Bryce

When I talked to Sue Bryce for the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, I wanted to find out how someone so open, vulnerable, and approachable could also be so confident and self-assured. Sue doesn’t just have presence and poise—she has a conviction about the value of her work that borders on bravado in the best possible way.

Sue has no qualms telling women, “I will take the best photograph of you that you’ve ever seen.

Can you say that about your work? Do you?

Tara Gentile interview Sue Bryce

There are so many creative and idea-driven business owners who love their work, delight in their ideas, but don’t have that conviction. It shows in the way they talk about what they do, market what they offer, approach sales conversations, and price their wares.

Sue says, “People who devalue money devalue themselves.”

And, I think the reverse can be said as well. People who devalue themselves devalue money. If you find yourself constantly cursing the need to sell, if you find yourself regularly decrying the almighty dollar, you might want to reconsider what you think about yourself.

When you find deep-rooted confidence in your work and in yourself, you can come into a much easier relationship with money. Sue does a lot of hard work on herself and her personal growth to facilitate that relationship. And that, I found, seems to be the connection between her openness and vulnerability and her unwavering confidence. It’s a beautiful combination.

Listen to Sue Bryce’s interview on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast and subscribe to receive new episodes automatically.

 

What’s Gotten You Here Won’t Get You There: The Tutor House Case Study

It doesn’t matter how much time, energy, blood, sweat, or tears you put into marketing and selling what you’ve already created if it isn’t designed to get you where you want to go.

The beauty of starting a business today is that it can be rough & tumble, fast as lightening, and fly by the seat of your pants. You don’t need to know what you’re doing and you don’t need to plan ahead. But I often see business owners stay stuck in this cycle of unintentional creation.

They keep creating products or programs. They keep creating marketing campaigns. They keep creating content.

But they don’t create a true system for growth.

They end up frustrated–sometimes at the edge of burnout–and tell me, “I’ve realized that what’s gotten me here won’t get me where I want to go.” Yes, exactly.

You can make money, change lives, and create great stuff without a plan. But if you want to take a break, realize a big goal, create a legacy, and level up your earnings in a big way, you need more.

When Adrianne Meldrum, founder of The Tutor House, came to Quiet Power Strategy, she was ready to make some changes and try things she hadn’t done before in the name of creating an intentional, cohesive strategic plan. Here’s her story:

Adrianne Meldrum, Quiet Power Strategy alumna

Adrianne Meldrum, The Tutor House

324 hours lost.  Hours I couldn’t get back no matter how much I wanted to.  These hours were not lost watching television or browsing social media.  They were not on account of making mistakes and fixing them.  The hours were the victim of worry. Worry was starting to take the joy out of running a small business for me.  At night when my entire home was quiet, I was awake worrying if I had made some serious mistakes in my business.  It had to be something serious because I did a lot of things right in my business.  

I had  opt-ins, products, a podcast, a new app, and a tribe of dedicated followers.  I often would feel hopeful that the launch of my newest idea would be the ticket that would finally set me on the path to profit.  It just had to be some huge mistake that I was overlooking.  It had to be!  The question that always ended this barrage of thoughts was, “Why was I spending so much time working without much in profit?  Is this really worth it?

Just when I was ready to throw in the towel with my business so I could claim my life (and my sleep) back, I got an email from Tara inviting me to her free webinar about doing business your way.  This caught my eye.   I attended the webinar and then devoured her eBook.  So much of what Tara was saying made sense to me.  The way I was doing business is what other people were advising and in fact may not work at all for my own business.  For the first time, I felt the weight of what Tara was saying.  My unique talents were the key to my business success and she could show me how to harness them.

During my time in the Quiet Power Strategy program, I felt empowered after each lesson.  I understood myself better as a person and why my tribe is attracted to what I have to offer.  Tara taught us about personal archetypes, or how the world perceives you.  When I saw my results, I couldn’t believe how well they fit me.  I found a lot of value in understanding how to use this knowledge to make decisions in my business.  It made writing sales copy easier and also allowed me to embrace some of my limitations so that I would look to add other team members that had different strengths than mine in the future.  

Quiet Power Strategy taught me to start with the end in mind when creating a product first.  This was a game changer for me!  My flagship product resonates with my audience because I was able to make the benefits clear.  Before I would slave away at the new product and then write my sales page when I was exhausted and just ready to be done.  By swapping those actions, I was able to use some of those key phrases that connect my audience and I, directly into my product bringing it full circle.  

Quiet Power Strategy has also completely changed my mindset.  Tara taught us about valuing ourselves and our unique craft whatever it may be.  During one of our group phone calls, she was able to help me bust through some assumptions I had about my audience and make a plan to succeed.  I’ll be honest, there were tears when I realized that the pricing I chose was one of those big mistakes that I didn’t see and lost sleep over.  Pricing based on value affects so many pieces of your business.  Now I have the confidence to take my business and navigate it back onto the right path.

Tara and her team taught me how to re-work what was already working in my business for maximum impact right away.  After completing Quiet Power Strategy, I have earned ⅔ of what I originally invested within three weeks of finishing and I am on track to earn the rest back within a month.  This was some of the best money I’ve ever invested in myself.  

I sleep really, really well these days because I know how to confidently move my business forward with tools like the Business Model Review, the Quiet Power Inventory, the Customer Perspective Process, and the Chief Initiative.  With the help of QPS, I’ve had my first ever successful launch!

To echo other QPS-ers, “This process is freaking changing my life!”  I am excited to work through the lessons again and uncover new insights.  Thanks Tara and Team!

***

One of the biggest realizations Adrianne made was that she was actually underselling her products. By not connecting them to outcomes that her customers already knew they wanted, she was convinced they wouldn’t pay more than $10 or $20. We tied real, urgent results to what she was already selling, put it into a complete package, and raised the price by a factor of 10.

Now she’s selling more than she’s ever sold before.

If you’d like to learn more about Adrianne and her Tutor Business Framework program, click here.

This session of Quiet Power Strategy is half sold out. Join us for the Fall Session (we start September 28) and create your personalized strategic plan with our hands-on support. Click here to learn more.

Price is About So Much More Than Cost

Think about the last thing you “splurged” on: Why did you buy it? How did it make you feel? What story did it tell you? What story did it tell about you? What part of your values or personality did it confirm?

When it comes to the things we care about, we rarely make decisions based on price. Price might be a factor but it isn’t the make or break detail we worry it is as designers, idea people, and business owners.

If you create things that you want people to care about, you have to use price as an opportunity to tell a story not just pay your costs or your salary.

Price is about so much more than cost.

Price isn’t just what ends up on the tag. Price isn’t the only thing that determines whether something is affordable or too expensive. Price isn’t even the determining factor in whether someone decides to buy something or not. 

Getting the price right for your products and services is important. But if you’re basing your prices solely on how much it costs you to create, how big or small it is, how complex or simple it is, how much you’d like it to be affordable, or what assumptions you’ve made about how much people are willing to spend, you’re missing the pricing boat. I’m often asked for rules of thumb when it comes to pricing. 

Beyond a few calculations, an imperative to price for profit, and gentle urging to analyze the market, I don’t have any. There is no magic formula for getting to the right price for your new product or service. There is, however, an awful lot of strategic work you can do to determine whether your pricing strategy is going to succeed or fail. 

You need to know who you want to have buying your product and what they expect to pay for something like it. You need to know what problem you’re solving and how the resolution of that problem can be quantified. You need to know who your customers aspire to be and what community they want to fit in with. You need to know how you want your business to be positioned and how it is already perceived. 

And beyond knowing all of that, you need to choose. Most pricing struggles come down to trying to be too many things to too many different kinds of people (kind of a universal life problem, isn’t it?).

Of course, if your whole business is a little wishy-washy, you’re going to have problems pricing. Use price as a way to make a statement about the strategic direction of your business and then follow-through with every other aspect of your business. You’ll feel more confident about what you charge—and so will your customers.

[ FREE COURSE ] Break out of your money rut and create the life and business you crave!Look, I know pricing feels like…

Posted by Tara Gentile on Sunday, April 3, 2016

Make More With What You’ve Got: Lacy Boggs’s Case Study

Want to make more money? Afraid it’s going to take a lot of time to create something new or devise a fresh offer so you can do it?

It doesn’t have to. An important concept we work with Quiet Power Strategy™ clients on is reworking what you’ve got to make it easier to sell. We also show our clients how to develop sales cycles that sell those offers throughout the year–and how to plan those sales cycles so you always know where your next dollar is coming from.

Last week, I heard from Lacy Boggs about a big success she had with very little work. It’s exactly the kind of result I like seeing from clients because it means they’ve developed a process they can use time and again to make more money. Here’s her case study:

How Lacy Boggs Used an Unplanned Sales Cycle to Make Money Fast & Easy

In January 2015​, I made my Blogstorm course (my lowest priced, introductory offering) ​evergreen after doing the revenue planning exercise in Quiet Power Strategy. I had realized that launching and running the course live was waaaaay too much work for the amount of revenue I was generating from it, so something needed to change.

​I saw a nice spike in sales when I made the evergreen announcement, and since then ​I generally get 1 or 2 sales a month without doing anything, which is fine by me. When I mention it in a blog or newsletter, I usually get 1 or 2 more.

Since the course helps entrepreneurs get 6 months of blogs planned in an editorial calendar, I was inspired by a random comment on Facebook about the year being almost half over to do a “launch” push for June. ​ ​I decided to​ offer a value add of going through it “live” with me in the Facebook group. ​And ​I made the decision to do this “launch” about a week before June 1st!

Note from Tara: This is what we call a sales cycle. It’s the same type of content, pitch, and follow-up you’d use in a launch, but it’s used to boost sales of an existing or evergreen product or service offering. Normally, I recommend using our Revenue Planning tool to forecast these sales cycles. But the power of an unplanned sales cycle to boost your revenue unexpectedly–and pleasantly–can’t be overstated!

But, I’ve had great success! I sent one dedicated email to my list, and​ wrote a blog post promoting it using Tara’s CEAD content framework (it’s usually spread out over four posts or emails, but I didn’t have time).

​I also had my message fresh in my mind from working on it with Tara and Brigitte at the Quiet Power Strategy™ retreat, and tried to really drive home what I want to be known for in both the blog post and the email—no more being polite about my opinions, no holds barred.​ ​ ​ Since the email went out on Monday (the Memorial Day holiday, no less) I’ve sold 20 courses ​and made about $1200​ in unplanned income five days later.

That’s more than double my last “live” launch in 2014!

​By tweaking my sales message for this course based on the work I did in Quiet Power Strategy™, I realized I don’t have to run a lengthy, all-consuming “launch,” but rather focus on giving people what they really want. The course hasn’t changed, even my “value add” is the same as when I ran it live, but my message made a huge difference.

​At this point, it’s like the best of both worlds. I have the trickle of income from the evergreen product, but I can run it “live” as a value add—with my newly improved messaging—twice a year for a healthy ​boost in sales without all the DRAMA of a big launch​. ​Just one more example of Quiet Power Strategy™ giving me the guts and permission to do things my way, and having it pay off almost immediately.

***

Let me recapped what worked so well here for Lacy:

  • She created fresh messaging for an old product to make sure it was obvious it’s exactly what her customers need.
  • She reinvigorated her sales by creating content for a sales cycle and publishing it to her blog and list.
  • She planned for the future by incorporating new sales cycles for this product in her overall Revenue Plan instead of just waiting for sales to come.

These are all things we create strategies for in Quiet Power Strategy™ and these strategies are something that Lacy can use over and over again for other products and new offers. It’s timeless, effective, make-more-money technique.

Put this to work for yourself. Look for a product that you know you could sell more of. Create messaging that ties that product to a problem or goal your customers are regularly talking about. Then create content that supports that messaging and send it out to the people most likely to buy from you. Finally, make a plan to do this throughout the year.

In the mean time, you can find out more about Lacy Boggs, the Content Direction Agency, and how to get more from your blogging effort: get instant access to her resource library.