Here's the thing: quality content

Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I’ve written about quality before, but this time of year, when you’re still holding your nerve and waiting for the big sales to hit, it requires a little reminder.

When you’re busily fulfilling orders, or prepping stock, or managing and training staff, you’re in the thick of it and it can be hard to come up with a marketing message (on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or in your email newsletter) that’s clear, true to you, and something customers are going to respond to. In short, a quality post. Couple that busy-ness with worry about low sales or no sales, and you’ve got a recipe for reactionary, half-baked and potentially desperate messages that turn customers off.

And I don’t want that for you.

Your business, your brand, your products, deserve high quality marketing. They deserve to be shown in the best possible light. You’re putting your all into this. We want that to shine through to the world.

Of course, ideally, you’d have a marketing plan all mapped out, and great ideas and content coming out of your ears. You wouldn’t have to discount your products to make sales, because they’d just be coming in anyway. In a dream world, you wouldn’t have to compete with the likes of John Lewis making heart-wrenching ads about penguins, because your customers would understand that you’re a different kettle of fish: independent, small, creative, and high-quality.

But the reality is, it doesn’t always get planned down to what exactly you’re going to say on Facebook, you know? And we all fall in love with John Lewis and almost (okay, maybe completely) forget that they’re going to grab the attention of what could also be your customers.

I know you are capable of connecting with people who want to buy your products. I know you have great products. I know they (and you) have a story that will get people engaged and interested and purchasing.

So here’s the thing:

Tell your story. Bring your posts and emails and tweets back to what makes you, you. Start the conversation. The positive, brand-affirming conversation.

Here are some ideas and tips to use to connect with your audience without selling yourself short:

  • Tell people what you’re always up to. This isn’t just about getting sales at Christmas – you’re not that shallow. This is about your dedicated approach to your business. You craft products by hand. You spend hours designing, creating, testing, developing ideas. Show people what’s behind the finished item.
  • Feel festive. Get some Christmas decorations up and post photos of them. Are you buying from other small creative businesses for your Christmas gifts? Show people, and tell them it means a lot to have their support too.
  • Put your products together in a new and interesting way. Simply directing people to browse your whole range isn’t the strongest message ever – every brand and their dog is doing that at this time of year. Put together a new collection or category of products based on a colour, a personality, a new theme, and link to it. Tell a story about how you’ve really been inspired by metallics or musicians or travel this year, so you’ve created gifts to reflect those passions.
  • Share positive reviews and customer feedback. Perhaps someone had a really touching story. Ask them if you can tell it on your blog, or Facebook, and get more people sharing their stories and ideas with you.
  • Be kind and generous, but not desperate. If you’re going to do a promotion or offer, consider how you might find something that doesn’t cheapen your product, but makes customers feel special. Perhaps you add a little gift rather than discounting. Maybe you could offer gift wrapping for free for a limited period.
  • Post a photo of your products in progress. Either as you’re making them now, or a shot of you making them from earlier in the year. Show customers that you put time and effort into each order.

It’s not easy to always be “on it” at this time of year. But I know you’ll come out stronger in January if you keep your messages and marketing consistent with your brand.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Jenny x

PS This quote remains one of my favourite business mantras. Disclaimer: not suitable for those who are averse to swearing.

Here's the thing: Abundance

I hope we all make itEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I know, I know. “Abundance”. It’s a Stephen Covey Americanism. I don’t think I used, thought or wrote the word until long after I read his book several years ago. And I didn’t realise it then, but the idea of abundance has (slowly, gradually) had a really big impact on my beliefs. Cheers, Steve.

So while I appreciate it might feel a bit cheesy, I’m going to ask you to bear with me, because I really believe that abundance – the idea that there’s enough and more for everyone – will have a profound impact on your business.

Money. Customers. Ideas. PR features. Holidays. Food. Friends. Lovers.

There are things we believe we’ll never have enough of, but in our minds, they are in shockingly limited supply. You may worry about some or all of that list above. You might have your own unique additions, but those are broadly the biggies for small businesses and people in general.

We believe that we need money to live – four walls, ceiling, food, tax. We believe that we need customers to give us money (and boy do we worry that there won’t be any customers left for us in six months). We believe that we’ve only got so many ideas inside us, that they’ll run out and then no one will want to work with us.

I’m not about to tell you to stop thinking about how to get more customers, or whether your profit margins are healthy. These are all important things to think about. It’s the way we think about them, and our beliefs about them, that are important.

The opposite of abundance is scarcity. If we believe there aren’t enough customers for everybody, that we’ll lose out, that it can’t be done if we’re not chosen for a homepage feature, then we limit ourselves. We’ll stop seeing the opportunities to find customers, connect with them, be nice to them, because we don’t believe they exist.

I see this in my clients. They’re still in scarcity mode, where they don’t have enough. They’re worried about investing in another staff member or stock. They’re worried they won’t sell enough to justify the cost. And my face says ‘huh?’. They’re serious. They can’t see how much it’s going to benefit them and, honestly, how much it’s going to be fine. When you invest, you step up. You make it work.

When we believe we don’t have any (or enough) money, so we don’t spend any money, so we don’t get any return. We create our own false economies – hey, look, I bought this cheaper version! Oh, wait, it doesn’t work so I have to spend just as much if not more on making it work. Or, I can’t afford to hire someone, so I’ll have to say no to new opportunities.

When you believe in abundance, what you value changes. You see things differently. You see that hiring someone with more experience or enthusiasm gives you more than hiring the person who’ll do it for less.

You see that there are enough customers for everyone. Yes, competition exists and it’s important to think about where you sit in the market, what you offer that others don’t, and all those things. But when you simply focus on connecting with the customers who want your products, rather than the customers who want someone else’s products – that’s when you make meaningful connections and things start to grow.

Here’s the thing:

Fear takes over. A lot. Especially if you’ve been in places that felt truly scarce, where you really didn’t have any money, or a safe place to live, or anyone to call on when you needed help. The recent recession didn’t help, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s completely over when you read the headlines these days.

It’s hard to un-remember those times, but they’re just a memory. You did survive them. There’s much more than there was then.

Imagine you’re in a world where everyone has enough, if they choose to see it. There are people who want you to do your thing, successfully. They want your products, your brand, your voice. They see value in what you offer. But you have to give them something so that they can see it.

Believing in abundance is very much connected to your self-esteem. Do you believe you’re worthy of everything you want and need? And that’s not something one blog post can instil in you.

But my parting message is this: believe, just a little bit, that there is more than enough for everyone. Take this little nudge towards being relaxed about buying in more stock than you think you need, or employing someone really good. When you step up your input, it shines through. You’re taking yourself seriously, and so will your customers.

Here's the thing: Self-promotion

I believe in youEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

One of the most challenging things about running a business that’s just you and your creations is talking yourself up – also known as “selling yourself”. (Which sounds dodgy and undesirable. So let’s call it self-promotion instead.)

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had several conversations with people who are pretty uncomfortable with putting themselves out there for PR, about pages, acknowledgements, and even awards.

Now, I’m not saying you have to do anything. I’m not saying you have to move drastically out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of successful business that quietly go about their business, creating awesome stuff and selling it. They don’t have awards or trophies. They do just fine.


There are benefits to being able to talk confidently about yourself. Putting yourself out there can be good for your business. The trick – and the challenge – is to do it with authenticity.

Being authentic in what you say about yourself not only gives people a realistic impression, it is also absolutely vital for your own sense of self. Go out there and say something you don’t really mean, and you’ll get the heeby-jeebies afterwards. You’ll feel like you did yourself a disservice, that you let yourself down, that you can’t ever see those people again because what you told them wasn’t true and they’ll think you’re a fraud.

And guess what? Self-promotion won’t seem like something you want to do at all.

On the other hand, if you talk about yourself with confidence, courage and compassion, you’ll very likely have a totally different experience. We all know when we’ve read something authentic, that’s from the heart and honest. Not honest in that too-honest, nervous breakdown way, but really thoughtful and considered. You can do that, too.

I promise, when you’re really in touch with your own authenticity, your audience (whoever they may be) will connect with you more.

That’s not to say everyone will love you and you’ll suddenly win 10,000 awards. But you’ll have put something good out there into the world. The people who like you, the ones who comment or buy from you or give you the press feature – they’ll be doing it because they really mean it.

And I believe anyone who sticks their head up over the parapet with something honest and authentic to say is worthy of all the awards. In fact, I think anyone running their own business deserves a big old trophy on their wall. You’re awesome. FACT.

So here’s the thing:

Write yourself up. Not because there’s one specific award you want to enter or PR feature you want to win. Write yourself up because it’s good practice for when you do want those things. And it’s great to have stuff on file that you can refer to.

Some tips for finding good and authentic stuff to say about yourself:

  1. Find three things you’re really good at or proud of. Maybe no-one else has done them before, or you really beat the odds to do something. Maybe you’re always the first to see the silver lining. Or your business is completely eco-friendly. Or you’ve built a business with no external investment. Or you’ve built a business and a family all in the space of 5 years. Or you’ve designed incredible bestsellers in between hospital visits (for whatever reason) – it’s not a sob story, it’s your truth.
  2. Uncover the story. Whether it’s an award or a journalist, they want a story. They want to know the beginning, middle and end of your success. How did you start out? What were the obstacles? How did you overcome them? What’s the next bit? Where will it take you? And you don’t have to try to seem perfect. If it was bloody hard and took you 25 goes, that shows that you’re resilient and hardcore, which might just be what they’re looking for.
  3. Think of yourself as a friend you love and respect. Or a daughter or younger relative you adore. What would you say about yourself through those eyes? Maybe you suddenly see the quiet but passionate light in your eyes. Perhaps it’s suddenly clear how amazing it is that you’ve made 10,000 customers happy. It’s all true.

This is an exercise is self-belief. No two ways about it. And the dark, sinister voices in your head (let’s call them Fear and Vulnerability) don’t want you to believe it for a second – too risky. Well, F and V, you can F right off!

There is business sense in believing in yourself. There’s a whole load of other stuff too, but I have a feeling if I tell you it’s for the good of your business, it might seem a bit more essential…

Just do ten minutes this weekend. I dare you.


What’s your best foot? Do you have tips on presenting yourself? I’d love to hear!


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.