In today’s Q & Cake (our own fancy version of Q & A) Elisabeth and Cami are answering several listener questions discussing their best advice for those shifting away from the wedding industry and for niching down. They’re also announcing the Black Friday & Small Biz Saturday Specials coming up for Biz Birthday Bash! And make sure you stick around until the end of this episode because it’s not all biz strategy. Elisabeth and Cami are answering a FUN question and revealing their go-to podcasts, everything from true crime to homesteading (no boring recc’s here!)
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How do you photograph or mock-up your products, especially greeting cards? I feel like a digital mockup would look the cleanest and sharpest, but I’m wondering how I would get the envelope and paper stock colors accurate. Is it best to just use a lightbox? The photography is the most frustrating element for me, and I want to streamline the process. Thanks for your help! – Jessica.Flores.Design
Well, this question actually is like one of the questions that helped spark the idea for a mock-up madness in the first place, but we had never officially answered it because the only way to answer it was by creating videos to actually show you guys how to make good mock-ups it does not answer like the photography element of things.
I feel like you would need to hold another course, maybe from somebody’s episode on that now. Yes, we do have a DIY photography episode. So that is one that you can listen to. But I picked this question just because I wanted us to be able to segue into the sales we’re doing for black Friday. So that’s what we’re actually talking about.
Mark your calendars! These deals will be live on Black Friday & Small Business Saturday! ⬇️
When it comes to the holiday season, how do you schedule out custom orders to ensure you are taking as many as possible but not overdoing it? Thank you so much! @allyaikendesign
This is always so hard. Um, but you’re, you really need to have a sense of how long those custom projects take you. Like if you’re doing 10 custom pet portraits, that’s what your spots are open. Like you need to know, it takes me approximately two to three hours to do each one of those.
Like, this is a time like you have to put those schedules and deadlines in place and to make sure that. The huge part of keeping those schedules and deadlines in place is getting that information from your client for those custom orders. So you need to be very upfront with your customers being like, if you don’t have your picture or your information or your spelling or whatever it is that you need by this date, your project is not going to get there by Christmas.
You have to be very, very strict about those things. Um, because the last thing you want is scrambling the last. To try to gather that information and the customers like it, didn’t get here and it’s like, well, you didn’t provide your end of the deal. Um, so it’s going to start with knowing how long it takes you to complete each custom project.
And not only how long, but how much lead time you need as well in between. Like, if you needed to print something, how much time you actually. And for shipping and then just kind of basing it off of that as well as like the rest of your holiday schedule. Like, are you just doing custom orders? Are you doing custom and shipping actual products too, because that can start to eat into your time.
And that’s something that’s hard to quantify because you just don’t really know how many orders are going to come in. So yeah, lots of things to consider and I will say. You can start a little smaller. Like I wouldn’t go super ambitious with it because if you do find yourself like feeling like you could take on more, you could always do a last-minute spot. It’s like I have two more spots last minute and fill those.
How do you know when or IF you should REALLY niche down? I am not talking about just dropping some products, but really NICHIING down. I do sell a decent amount of other personalized paper products that are beginning to gain some traction though. Since everything is completely made to order, I do not have to be concerned about stocking inventory, so I just really struggle with whether it is even necessary. Thanks so much, and keep the podcasts coming! – julie, @thenotehouse
I don’t think the question is about niching down as much as it is about figuring out how your business can scale and. Actually feasible to keep going longterm for growth. Um, so custom products like, yes, right now with the amount of orders you’re getting, it might be like very easy to do and very feasible.
But is that we’re comfortable where you are right now? Like, are you trying to grow that? So you’re trying to grow that. The custom stuff does get, you know, you have to figure out how that’s going to work. Cause it just printed. Is it just this and how that’s going to scale? Um, so if they’re working well for you, I mean go with what works, but also go with what you love.
So what do you really enjoy doing? Like I reached a point where I just. The custom projects we’re taking away from some of the other things I wanted to do. And I was like, okay, well, realistically, I want to have my hands out this business as much as possible, or I just get to be the creative and not so much having my hands in every single thing.
So for me, that made the decision really easy to start gearing more towards products and inventory and that kind of thing, although that comes with its whole other set of issues. So I think you just need to figure out where you’re really trying to scale and see your business going in the next few years.
Yep. I definitely agree with all of that. Um, because when I’m scrolling through her feed, it looks like she is doing customized greeting cars, customized note paths, customized stickers, customized address label. Um, almost like semi-custom like these, this could scale, like what I’m looking at, you know, where you’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely.
I am just starting my wedding stationery business so I missed out on the Stationer’s Summit! It sounds like it was a huge resource to creatives! Will this be coming back again or is there an option to purchase the courses now? @suitescape.design
I thought it would be good for Cami and I too, like formally announce to the world that The Stationer’s Summit is not ever going to be for sale ever again.
I know that’s really heartbreaking to say it feels so sad. And like, I don’t know Grinchy to say, but here’s the honest truth of it guys is that our contract with those educators went through the end of 2020 and Cami and I, aren’t the kind of people that like selling content. I don’t know that like selling content that other people like provided for us, it was supposed to be a very big collaborative effort, which it was, and it was really amazing and really wonderful at the time.
But that content is never going to come back in the way that it was before. Um, so I’m sorry to like, give you that, that like sad news, um, to tell you that, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have summits in the future.
What advice can you give someone who wants to get out of the wedding industry and into educating others, watercolor artwork/products? I want to move away from the wedding industry (I am so sick of making signage) but I am feeling stuck as it’s a major source of my income right now. Also just logistically, did you take down the inquiry form on your website when you decided to transition etc…. – anonymous
I think it just depends on like, how are you like being like, yeah, there’s no way I’m doing the one of these anymore. Like I’m not doing any of that.
Then take out the inquiry form if you absolutely have no desire to do. Get rid of it. If it’s more just like, oh, I’ll see what, I’ll leave it up. And if I get something that sounds like a fun project that I really want to do, or is a really good price point, I’ll take that. Like, that’s going to be, you have to ask yourself that question.
If you were like completely sick of it and everyone has to do another one and sign again, then don’t like, just get rid of it. Your business won’t fail. It’ll just pivot into something else. And that’s totally fine. So ask yourself that, um, I am transitioning away from wedding invitations. I haven’t made any formal announcement or anything like that.
Because I’m going to have a baby and I just leave my inquiry form open because I was like to see what kind of people come through and I refer those people out. So I’m, I’m just a funnel for other stations at this point, which is fine. Um, and if I see a project that I’m going to have time for, that would be a good fit. I would, I would take on that client. So it’s. It’s kind of like fishing, I guess for me. So I haven’t taken that down or formally announced like I am not taking on clients currently.
In terms of shifting into educating, like the biggest thing I think was that Cami and I did was the free webinar in 2017 and 500 people signed up. And I think that made us realize that people were interested in what we had to say. So I think that is the first thing that you have to check. It’s like, do you have an audience? There are people wanting to learn from you? Are people asking you questions? I know, are people in your DMs being like, ah, I want to know this.
That is a good clue that you might have a good audience for educating. If they’re not, then maybe start putting out some behind the scenes of you doing the work or how you do it, or whatever you want to educate about or talking about some business strategies. And just kind of see how your audience reacts to that and see, you know, are you bringing something new to the table with that?
Like, there are so many peoples educating all the time. And honestly, I love watching people’s stories where they’re just talking about stuff they’ve learned. Um, so just kinda test the waters with that and see how it goes. Um, yeah. I took you to a solar panel because if you do ask me anything boxes and you’re getting a lot of things about like techniques, materials, printing, methods, all of that stuff, that’ll open the doors for you.
Um, and then you have to decide like how you want to educate. I mean, this has been like such a slow burn for Cammie and I quite honestly, cause that’s why we’re like, how, how did we get here? Um, it’s taken like years, like literally from the point when we started that free webinar to now, like incredibly enough has already been four years.
So, you know, we did a free webinar. We did another thing a year later. Then we actually made our business official and got an LLC. Then we put together a summit. It’s kind of like, there was like little stepping stones along the way for every, every element we did a start at the podcast. Right. So that was like the beginning of 2019, which is crazy to think about.