When you’re first starting out in business, it can be a bit overwhelming. There’s so much to do! For most people, making the product, whether that’s writing a book, designing jewellery or sewing a scarf – that’s the easy bit. You’re following your passion, and that tends to be fun.
But the rest? That’s business. The sort of stuff people in suits with MBAs do. They use lots of acronyms and long words that don’t make sense to anyone else, and possibly not to them, either. They use numbers, too, lots of them, and talk finance, and taxes and net gains and-
Sorry, I’ll stop. It scares me too.
Before you get into all that stuff, before you end up with fifty tabs open in your browser about SEO, start at the beginning, with the most important question of all: who is your customer?
I’m not talking about the lady who bought your earrings last July at the craft fair. I’m talking about your ideal customer. Think about who you’re aiming your product at. How old are they? What do they like – what are their favourite books, movies, foods? Gender? Job? Income? Single? Get as specific as you can – write it down, as much as you like.
For example: for The Book Cover Store, I see my ideal customer as a woman in her late twenties, who’s been writing for herself for years but this is the first time she’s decided to actually publish. She’s a little scared, but she’s proud of her book and wants to do her best by it, so she wants a good cover. Her job as a shop manager doesn’t come with a huge salary, and most of her money is going towards saving for her wedding next year, so she doesn’t have a huge budget for her cover. She loves the Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, and it’s no coincidence that she’s written a fantasy novel. She’s not an artistic person at all, but she knows what she likes. Though she doesn’t have any ideas what she wants on a cover, she’s sure she’ll know it when she sees it.
Okay, that’s maybe more detail that you need (FYI, she also loves doughnuts and feather jewellery), but I am a writer! However much you’ve written, nail down the key points. This should include a couple of things about your customer, and why they want what they want.
This is what I wrote:
“Self-published writers with a small budget, who want high-quality pre-made, publish-ready covers.”
That covers their budget, why they want a cover, and what kind of cover they want. In turn this tells me what my price point should be, and what kind of covers I need to create.
You NEED to know who you’re pitching your product at. This will help you refined your product. If you’re setting up a blog for brides who want a fantasy wedding and have the budget for it, there’s no point writing a post about dresses under $100. That’s not what your audience is interested in, and you’re wasting your time as well as possibly putting potential customers off.
When you know who your customer is, make for them. Market for them. Write for them. It makes everything so much easier when you have that kind of focus.
And don’t worry if you’re not my fantasy customer – I absolutely love you anyway!