I take a lot of notes about how to make my way in the world from my toddler. She’s ballsy, brave, fearless – she knows what she wants and she’s gonna demand it! She spends her day advocating for her needs (which are always tv shows and cheese, btw), and brushing off rejection. We can all learn a little bit from a 3 year old.
Get comfortable with “No”
While launching my first side hustle, I was also starting a new career path in Business Development. We did a ton of sales training and I spent my day calling people and asking them to do something. I heard a lot of “No.”
Sales trainers will tell you that the second best response to a question is a no. Why is “no” good? It helps you to learn the prospect’s objections, overcome them, and make the sale. For me, the real reason that I like hearing no is that it makes each one easier – that’s it! Every rejection makes the next one easier to stomach. I used to be terrified of asking for something because I was terrified of rejection. But is rejection really that bad?
Leverage your network
I’ve heard “no” way more when working for someone else than I’ve ever heard when asking for myself. The maker community has always been so warm and welcoming, even before I was part of it. The fastest and easiest way I’ve gotten anywhere in this community was to use my network. I know – “What network?” right? The network you’re going to create by asking for it!
I started creating connections in the maker world by asking someone I admired to have coffee. That first meeting has expanded into an ever-growing group of maker friends in my area. The Copper Bell is not yet a year old, but I’ve expanded my network far beyond what I ever imagined I’d be able to.
I really leaned on that network when I wanted to start up another business after a Covid-related layoff. If I hadn’t had those connections, I wouldn’t have had a huge group of maker friends to draw from when creating Artisanly.
Expanding that network
How did I create a network of creative friends? I slide into a lot of DMs. I respond to stories, I comment on posts – but I do it authentically. I don’t comment “Wow great post!” just for something to say. Be present, be authentic, and keep asking! Do your leg work first though.
“What leg work, Katrina?” Great ask, I’ll tell you! If you’re messaging someone to ask for something be sure you’re asking them in the right way. Does their bio say “no DMs”? Do they have a FAQ in their linktree? Are they telling you exactly how to connect with them to get what you want? Do that. Approach people in the right way and you’ll get a lot more positive responses.
Enough about your peers – how and what to ask your customers
Here are some things I’ve recently asked my Instagram followers:
- “I’m listing new products on the website, do you want them like this or this?” (AKA – How do I make it easier for you to buy my stuff?)
- “Is it too late to launch a new summer scent?” (AKA – If I make this, will you buy it?)
- “Do you know any cool, large, indoor spaces?” (AKA – I’m planning something and want to know places you already know and love so that you’ll come out.)
- “Do you want to see even more Artisanly branded goods?” (AKA – If I made mugs would you buy them? I’ll totally make you guys mugs.)
What I’m trying to get at here is that you also need to practice asking your customers. (Or the people you want to be your customers – hey Instagram followers!) Don’t assume that if you just keep making things you love that you’ll eventually find the right customer who loves it too. What do you like? What don’t you like? Is this format working for you? I ask my Instagram followers and newsletter subscribers for feedback constantly. Asking your customers goes so far beyond saying “Here’s something I made, do you want to buy it?” Asking is an ongoing conversation that gives you important feedback to help you improve.
Throw some confidence on it
Okay, one last lesson. Let’s do a little role playing and you tell me what sounds better.
Option 1: “Thanks so much for asking me to do that custom order for you! Sorry to be a bother, but if it’s not too much trouble for you I’ll need a 40% deposit to get started.”
Option 2: “I’m really excited to get started on that custom order for you! The total cost is going to be $500 and I take a 40% deposit to start the work for a total of $200.”
Asking for money can feel shitty, can’t it? If you’re introverted or shy, asking is terrifying to begin with. Now you have to ask confidently? Yikes. Practice what you’re going to say, psych yourself up, and re-write the email until it sounds like someone who’s a grown-ass adult with a business. Show people that you believe in what you’re saying and they’ll believe in you, too.
Now go forth and ask!
Connect with the author of this post, Katrina Bell (she/her), on Instagram @the.copper.bell and @artisanly.ca.