Wanted: House with indoor slide, climbing wall, and swing

You know what I love about being an adult? You have the power to fulfill all of your childhood dreams. I have to remind myself of this when I get busy and my brain gets full of work.

Enter, House With Slide. This is AMAZING. (Though John's first reaction was, "What is that flower thing? Is that a couch. Uggh." Seriously John....that's what you noticed?) More on Handmade Charlotte.

Transient

Girl seeking happy house :)

Thinking about moving is a little overwhelming...there's so much to do to get our place ready to sell to someone else! The thing that keeps me going is thinking about the possibilities a new space might bring us. Like more light! And a chance to actually design it! (Which, we just realized yesterday, we've never taken the time to do before.)

I saw this beautiful home in Amsterdam and I thought to myself, "Sarah, that is so you." Because it is. Even if I had no kids, it would be totally me. You can ooh and ahh over the whole house here.

Transient

Content strategy smartness #1: Do NOT write what you know

Hey, you're back...yippee! (Or if you're not back, you probably missed last week's intro to content strategy...take a look, then come back). Today, we're going to talk about your target market.

...

Oh, sorry. I fell asleep for a second. No we're not. We're going to talk about one of the biggest mistakes companies make when they start blogging, newsletter-ing, video-ing, tweeting, facebooking, or engaging in any other kind of content production. They write what they know.

Take my friend Ted, for instance (and please don't say anything about his lack of ears...he's pretty sensitive about that). Ted is a stand-up guy. He runs an indie letterpress studio with his brother Gerald. Ted is a good writer and pretty personable, so he decides that he's going to be the face of the company and start getting into the whole social media scene.

Ted figures he'll start with a blog. What to write about? Oh, that's easy! He'll write about the letterpress printing process. Maybe he'll post some designs and resources that inspire him. He'll talk about design and illustration and what it's like to be in a small startup indie biz.

Ted starts to blog. He starts getting comments! People are subscribing! His work is getting featured on letterpress and illustration sites! But wait. Nobody's buying. Sales haven't increased. Ted bangs his head on his desk in agony and defeat (I will admit, Ted is a little dramatic. I've tried talking to him about it, but you know those artist-types).

So I ask you...what's wrong with Ted's blog?

It's interesting, witty, and definitely shows that Ted's studio has serious talent. It's the perfect content...to attract his colleagues and competitors. The thing is, if he were to run a letterpress printing workshop, he's got a bang-up start to his content-strategy. He's attracting letterpress aficionados, hobbyists, and wannabes right and left. But where, oh where, are the customers?

This is where Ted needs to go back to his Business 101 handbook and flip to the "target market" section. Oh yes, there it is. As Ted looks over his fill-in-the-blank "find your target market" worksheet, he finds his answer. (If you don't know what a target market is, or have no clue what yours is, skip over to Naomi Dunford's monster-in-her-pants post for a raunchy, yet helpful, visual.)

Ted's target market lives in the suburbs. They know and appreciate good design when they see it, but they are not designers themselves. They have day jobs as managers, executives, or something else equally high-paying. They buy beautiful objects for their home. They shop at West Elm and Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. They also like things that are sustainable and green and handmade. Most of them are women. They would buy Ted's work if they knew about it. But the thing is, Ted's customers don't read blogs about the letterpress process. It would simply never occur to them.

Someone, please help Ted!

He has no ear to cut off, so I'm afraid he might try a finger. Except he has no hands. This could be bad.

Ted? Listen up. You have a couple of options here.

You could...think about what you know in the context of what your customers want to read, watch, see. In other words, think about your blog as a magazine. What magazine would your customers read and subscribe to?

Or you could...decide that your customers don't read blogs (gasp!) and focus less energy and time on your blog. Instead, use it as a trust-building place that's updated less often, and focus your attention on building your mailing list and bringing people in using other marketing methods. Whatever the case, when you're selling products, the heft and quality of your mailing list is super important. We'll talk more about that later.

Or you could even...choose a different target market that's easier to reach online. You need to know where these people live. And if you can't get to their house (figuratively, you stalker, you), you've either got to find a way or find another neighborhood.

There there, Ted. I'm sure your customers read blogs. Just not your blog. Yet.

We'll be fixing that over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, let's all give Ted a big giant hug. He really will get through this, I'm sure of it.

P.S. Today's illustration brought to you by my 5 year old son, Nolan. I have no idea why we even hire David Billings.

And we’re back!

I was going to write "I missed you" or even "hello", but I walked 5 blocks picking up shells and could only manage enough to say hey. Apparently the ocean is being stingy today.

So hey! I am officially back from excursion-ing. I have so much that I want to say, but for now, I can only manage to point. So here's me, pointing at the people who put on their mining hats with me to dig for gold in the depths of their website.

Plus a few good people I couldn't find photos for:

Laura Brodniak Dee Brower Lisa Gold Alison Habermehl Paula Parker Pamela Paulien Liza Pascal Jennifer Saunders Rochelle Schieck Anne Smidt Leah Snyder

And also, a huge thanks to Leah of Leah Creates for her help in the cave dwelling! (She's lovely to work with, folks).

These are phenomenal people. Get to know them. Great things are emerging out of the work they're doing.

More to come soon. Also, I've got a huge, gargantuan surprise for you in the coming weeks. It feels good to be back!

Content schmontent: Reaching outside of the blogging box

The other day, I heard someone on a mainstream pop radio station referring to the information in his newly revised book as "content". "More content than ever before!" I gasped, "'Content' has reached the masses!" and my husband stared at me. Anyway, I've been thinking about content a lot lately. We talk about it, complain about it, strive to produce more of it. Because that's what brings the shiny new people and helps them to love us. And we love love.

A lot of the questions that I get revolve around content. People complaining, "But I don't want to blog, I just want people to love me and buy from me. How much does that cost?"

Errrm. It costs whatever it costs to hire someone to produce amazing content for you. Information is the pony on this carousel. People don't want to hear all about you, you, you. "We have been in business for 400 years! We sell cheese fries that are delicious!" Who cares? But man, I bet they'd love your cheese fry recipe. And your hilarious video entitled "How to eat cheese fries while standing on your head".

That's content. That's why I emphatically recommend a content-driven website strategy. For anyone, everyone, and yes, even you.

But uggggh...I don't want to BLOG!

It's not about blogging. That's why I don't use the term. It's content. Think about all the different types of content that you encounter on a daily basis. Actually, why don't you step on over to my chalkboard so I can show you a few of the types of written content that there are in the world. (This isn't even including other types of media...just written for now).

Yowza, right? So forget blogging. If you don't want to blog, don't blog, ever. Brainstorm what kind of amazing content fits in with your business...whether you're a retailer, a service provider, a public speaker, or part of a juggling circus. And then publish it consistently.

And bloggers who are thinking "Umm...yeah. Obviously content is the main thing. I knew that in 2005." I challenge you (and me) to reach outside of how you've previously defined your content. "Content" does not have to equal "blog post". Or, more clearly, "blog post" does not have to equal "list of things I think everyone should do because I'm doing it" or "[fill in the blank with some sort of technology that we love] is dead" or "rant about my mother-in-law's cooking" (although you know how I love food analogies).

P.S. You know I gotsta remind you that the early-bird pricing for our Gold-Digging Excursion is ending soon. Don't forget to put your registration pants on and sign up before the deadline!