Nobody said it was easy, but why does it have to be so hard?

My dad died on Friday. 

Since then, that Coldplay song, The Scientist, has played through my head on a loop. Except, not the whole song, just a single couplet. 

Nobody said it was easy
But why does it have to be so hard…

It played in my head as I talked to hundreds of people at Los Angeles Comic Con. I played as I laid in bed at night. It played as I drank two bottles of wine to numb the pain.

But I never actually listened to it until this morning. And goddamn it all if I didn't play it wrong in my head. Here are the actual lyrics-- 

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard…

I personally like my way better, but who am I to criticize one of the most popular songs of my lifetime. 

I've been thinking a lot, even before my dad's death, about how hard it is to do anything of value in this world. 

Then, I realized it went deeper than that. It's so hard to do anything in this world. It's so hard just to live. 

Fuck. 

It's so hard to just get through the day. 

Any day. 

Ever. 

Why is that? 

Why is it that every single human I talk to, from the most successful to the least, find life so unbearably hard, no matter whether they love the struggle or not?

I want to have an answer. I do, but the truth is that I don't. 

I have no fucking clue why it's so hard. 

But I do know that you aren't alone if it's hard for you, too. I do know that the human condition is about struggle, and persevering in the face of impossible odds. 

And if you are struggling, no matter the reason, you are in good fucking company, cuz everybody is fighting unfathomable odds. 

I try to remember that as I look into the eyes of friends and strangers alike. No matter who it is, they are fighting a struggle so hard it's nearly impossible for them to get out of bed every morning...

...and yet they do it anyway. 

Just by getting out of bed today, you are a fucking rock star. Anything else is goddamn gravy. 

And if you just can't get out of bed today, well that's okay too. 

This shit is so hard, y'all

pexels-photo-88654.jpeg

When people compliment me on my Kickstarter success, or praise me my audience size, or give me kudos for the foresight I had in using general business tactics to sell books/comic, I smile and thank them.

But in my mind, I think about the thousands of creators who called me an idiot, the authors who said it would never work, the people who laughed when tactic after tactic blew up in my face, and the writers who denounced my plans as shitty for years before they started paying dividends and eclipsed even their our businesses. I am so glad I didn't listen to those people.

And I think about the very few creators who were as crazy as me to delve into marketing in a new way, and how many of them are killing it right now.

Finally, my mind drifts to how hard it is to do anything that matters, and how many failures it takes. I think about how many dozens of projects I launch for every one success, and how much bullshit I sent out into the world before anything worked, even a little bit.

I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm further than I thought I would be right now, which is nice.

This shit is so hard, y'all.

It's not complicated, but it's hard as shit. Even now there is so much more to do, but sometimes it's nice to just appreciate how far you've come, and how many failures you accumulated for even one success.

There is an old saying: Successful people have failed more than you have even tried. I really, really believe that.

Facebook isn't suppressing your posts

Alright, y'all. Here's the deal. Facebook isn't surpressing your posts.

Facebook shows your post to 1-2% of your feed.
If those people like it, then Facebook shows it to more people.

If nobody in that 1-2% likes or comments, they don't bother.

So, maybe it's not Facebook. Maybe you just wrote a shitty post.

That's okay. They aren't all winners.

We all do it.

But Facebook isn't trying to "suppress you". They are trying to deliver the best content to their customers.

Facebook has been around a long time, and they've been doing this shit for a while now.

Same. Exact. Shit.

Quite bitching about it. Learn to game the algirithm, already.

It isn't that hard.

Facebook likes quality posts that people engage with quickly. Make a post people like and Facebook will spread it like wildfire.

Those first 5-10 minutes are critical. If you don't get any traction by then, your post will die. If you do Facebook will open it up to more and more people.

As long as people like and comment, Facebook will keep sharing it with more people.

The minute engagement stops, Facebook no longer works for you.

There's the secret. Now, Quit it with the bitching.

A Facebook account isn't a birthright. You can leave any time. If not, play the game.

Success Rate

I want to address something I've heard a lot, especially during this campaign.

Many people have emailed or messaged me about being bummed that every human being they know hasn't backed their campaign.

They've asked about my magic secret to get friends and family to back the Monsters and Other Scary Shit campaign and complained they can't get people to back theirs.

So I'm going to let you in on the secret.

By all accounts, we've had a massively successful campaign up until this point, so let me run some numbers by you. This is how my audience breaks down, roughly.

  • 36,000 Twitter followers
  • 2,300 people on my weekly mailing list
  • 3,300 additional people on my Kickstarter specific mailing list
  • 2,300 friends on Facebook
  • 12,200 followers on Instagram

That's something like 55,000+ potential people in my audience, assuming there is no overlap.

Even if you assume 50% overlap...that's still over 25,000 unique people in my audience.

That doesn't even include the audience of the 50+ other creators working on this project. Add those in, and I'm sure the total audience is over 100,000.

That's led to...

360 total backers

That's a success rate of just over 1% of my audience, and .3% of the estimated overall audience for this project.

1% is a shitty number. Percentages can't get any lower that that without ceasing to exist...and everybody says this campaign has been massively successful.

1%.

And honestly, that's very common number. I see it crop up all the time in every industry. If you can get 8-10% of people who hit your website to convert, that's an amazing number, but that's not even total audience size because most people won't even go to your website or landing page. 

Most people believe there is some magic formula, and if they just knew it backers would come out of the woodwork, but that's just not true.

The truth is that success is a function of your audience size, and how targeted your audience is to each product.

That's it.

Everybody wants more of their audience to back, but what's true is that almost nobody backs anything, successful or not, including you.

So, instead of moping about why people won't back your campaign focus on the people who do back, and try to find more of those people.

Then, enjoy your friends for what they are...friends, not $20 bills, and not people who owe you things.

Cherish those who love your project enough to back it, but cherish people who morally support you, too.

Oh, and if you like monsters, check out www.monsteranthologycomic.com.

Help us get to a 1.000001% success rate.

Or don't. I like you either way.

The Magic formula for making money in comics

Alright. Here it is, the magic, secret sauce for making money in comics. 

1. Make a comic issue for a reasonable price = less than $3,000/issue. You might need to cut page count or something, but honestly $2,000 is the real sweet spot. 

2. Make sure your books are no more than 150 pages at the end of the day. Write arcs or complete stories to those specs. 100-150 is the sweet spot for selling it high and buying it low. 

3. Invest in the production of 2 issues ($4,000). Expect to spend another $2,000 on printing to print 2,000 book. Selling those books out will net you $10,000 if you sell them @ full price. 

4. Now you are in the hole $6,000. You need to do some sort of preorder campaign to raise the funds for those books. Kickstarter, your own site, however you do it. 

5. With a good campaign, you can expect to raise $1000-$2500 on book one, and $1500 to $3000 on book two. If you do this right, you will either break even on all costs for the first OGN, or come close. 

6. Now, you have 100-150 pages of art, that is completely paid for, or close to it, you run another preorder campaign for the trade, which will net you the most money (Since you've built your audience with single issues) AND it will be all profit after you pay print costs. If you can raise $10,000 to print books, you will most likely be able to print 2,000 copies and only need to send out 400-500, giving you 1500 books of pure profit, or $30,000 of profit on a $20 trade. 

Then, rinse and repeat. I don't care how much you research. That's how you make money in comics. Argue, bitch, complain, all you want. Try to find another trick. There isn't one. That's how Marvel and DC have done it for years. That's how I do it. It's how it's done.

Crippling Self Doubt

I have spent most of my adult life, and certainly all of the last 18 months, building up to the release of Monsters and Other Scary Shit, my new anthology that releases on Valentine's Day.

I am calling in every favor, turning over every rock, and crossing my fingers that I've done enough good in the world and for the creative community that they show up next Tuesday and back the fuck out of the book.

I know $40 isn't chump change, but I think I've done a pretty awesome job building the page, showing the value, and building something awesome with a team of awesome creators.

Still, I won't lie. About 20 times a day I'm hit with a crippling, ungodly fear that it's all gonna come crashing down, all the work I've done will be for nothing, and I'll be back to square one again because I'm a fraud that everybody is just pretending to like so they can laugh when it blows up in my face.

That's a real, overpowering fear that is happening right now, as I write this.

This is not a call for sympathy. After all, intellectually I know it's not true, but emotions are a biiiiiitch. You can't logic your way out of them.

I'm writing this because I've heard several times in the past week that people think of me as a creator that "has his shit together"

If you believe that, and you are freaking out about your launch, then I want you to know I feel that way all the time.

You are not alone, and you can do it.

SDCC SPECIAL! Get your head right before pitching your comic

 

Comic-con is coming this week, also affectionately known as nerd summer camp, and with that comes hundreds of thousands descending on San Diego to pitch their wares, meet with publishers about jobs, and talk about their work. Yes, yes there is amazing stuff to see. More importantly, there is amazing stuff to sell. 

And many people down there are thinking one thing: Fuck. I have to talk to people all day?! I can’t do that. What if they reject me? What if they hate me? What if they punch me in the neck and scream “SHAKIRA!” as they run away like Zoidberg? 

Well if that last thing happens please catch it on video first of all, but I totally understand that anxiety. 

It’s really tough for artists to pitch their product. It’s a little piece of our souls we’re baring for people. When they reject our work it’s hard not to take it personally. It’s even hard for me and I’m a master at pitching my books. 

The rejection wears on me like it wears on you. It’s tiring to fail over and over again. 

Last year we sold 350 units, which is awesome, to a total of 160,000 people in attendance, which is a horrible ratio. 

That means just a little over 159,000 people rejected us. 

I don’t care how good you are as a salesperson or how confident you are in your work, 159,000 rejections in five days is enough to bring you low.

But if you have the right mindset, you can keep going. Mindset is everything when it comes to sales. 

I’m going to give you the strategy I use to get my mind right even when rejection is everywhere. I ask myself three questions all day every day when I’m at a con.

These are the same three questions I’ll ask myself this week while I’m tabling at SDCC in Small Press Booth N-2 (come on by for a free button!)

I ask myself these questions: 

  1. Do I believe my product can change lives? 

It doesn’t have to cure cancer, but do I believe that my work can enrich souls for the better? Yes I do. 

This is the most important question because it means you are morally obligated to tell as many people about it as possible in order to be a good person, and most of us think of ourselves as good people.

2. Have I given everything I can to make this product the best it can be? 

It might not be the best product on the market, but it is the absolute best product I could make with my skills at the time? Yes. For sure. I give my all to every one of my products. 

If you made an excellent product to the best of your ability, then it is salable. If it is salable, then it will sell if enough people know about it. 

3. Do people enjoy my product? 

It doesn’t have to be thousands of people, but does even one person enjoy what I have to say? Has even one person told me how much they liked what I do? Yes. 

If people like your work, then you can scale than with enough people. Not everybody will like it, but if you can focus on the victories then you can keep going. If one person liked it 100 people can like it, and if 100 people like it 1,000 people might like it. From one you can build an empire. 

Those three questions might not seem like much, but they are everything. In the face of rejection, if you can remind yourself that your product is good, people like it, and you believe in it then the rejection doesn’t sound so bad. 

In the face of that kind of adversity, it’s easy to keep going because you know success is right around the corner. 

Come find Wannabe Press in the Small Press Area, booth N-2 this weekend and pick up your free button and indie passport! 

 

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts the twice-weekly podcast The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us) If you like cool shit, then check out his stuff. 

“I Wish I Had Money to Do What You Do” or All the Times I should Have Given Up

We just went to press on a new print run for Wannabe Press’s two most popular books. We spent $8,500 to get 3,000 copies total: 2,000 copies of Katrina Hates Dead Shit and 1,000 copies of Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter.

This is not something we did lightly. We agonized over buying more books, but the truth is that we were spending too much and needed to reign in book costs. This was the only way to do that in the long run.

Since we’ve gone to press I’ve been telling people about my decision and the reactions have been consistent across the board. I’ve heard things like “I wish I had $8,000 to spend just on books,” or “I don’t have $8,000 to spent on books.”

To which I always respond “You think I have $8,000 to spend on books?”

Newsflash: I don’t have $8,000 to spend on books. I don’t have $8,000 to spend. Period. I work in a very low margin business and every dollar goes back into growing it. 

Product sales is an industry where you can be defeated by success. Every time I sell out it’s a hollow victory because I just have to turn around and buy more products. 

On top of that books aren’t cheap. I spent $6.00 a book on a short run of 100 books and sold them for $20. 

I was ordering books every couple weeks. I spent $3,000 buying 500 books. I was constantly in the hole. Every con I was pissed off when I did well because it meant I needed more supply. 

It sucked and was unsustainable. Something had to change.

I decided to make an investment in myself and move from paying $6.00 a book to paying under $3.00 a book by ordering a larger print run. 

Not only does this save me money in the long run, but the books are a much higher quality. I was able to get better paper quality and a hard cover version of the book for less than half my original costs. 

Now I can pay $3 and sell a book for $30. That a much healthier profit margin and sustainable for the future. 

But should I have done it? 

I don’t know. It’s certainly a risk for my company. $8,000 is 10% of projected revenue this year. But that same investment can net me $90,000 if I sell out at full price. So it felt like a good risk. 

I haven’t always made good risks, but I’ve always taken risks. Heck, owning any business is a risk and I’ve owned six. Four crashed a burned. One folded after less than two weeks.

I’ve been a serial entrepreneur most of my adult life, for better or worse. I’ve always needed capital to grow and sustain my companies. Capital is always a problem. 

Right now I have a little working capital in my business, and I did have money to pay cash for this print run (even if it ate into most of my profits from this year). 

This wasn’t always the case.

I want to take you back to the origin story; back when I had nothing, and tell you all the times I should have thrown in the towel but didn’t, and how I got capital to invest when I didn’t have a pot to piss. 

Note. I’m not telling you to do any of these things. In fact, please god find a better way. 

The time I went $40,000 in credit card debt to buy gear

When I graduated college I wanted to be director of photography for movies and TV. I had a decent job doing live shots on Capital Hill for Fox News, CNN, and others, but I wanted more. I wanted to shoot narrative films. 

There wasn’t a ton of narrative film going on in DC, but I wanted to get in on the small scene that existed. I tried and tried but nobody wanted to hire me. 

Why?

I didn’t own gear. I was constantly losing work to people that owned their own gear. 

In order to get in the game I had to buy gear. I figured that if I owned gear (audio, video, lighting) I would get more gigs, and they would pay a kit fee for the gear I owned. 

However, gear cost $40,000+ that I didn’t have. 

I really believed in myself though, and it just so happened that I was approved for a high limit Costco Amex credit card, which I signed up for and promptly went on an epic spending spree

Eventually, I ended up with a video camera, lighting, audio and editing equipment. I also owned $40,000 in debt. If you’ve never been $40,000 in debt let me tell you it isn’t fun. 

I was making just enough to pay my half of the rent and make minimum payments to my cards. I wasn’t eating down my debt, but I was breaking even AND shooting stuff for my resume. 

I was getting gigs all the time and because I owned the gear I could undercut other companies and get business. On days I wasn’t booked I could shoot my own stuff because I owned the gear. 

It was the first time that I had an asset. I used that asset to be hired on non-profit documentaries where I worked on shoots with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and narrative films where I was was flown to Denmark to second unit DP a movie for a month. I shot student films and small indie productions.

I also created my own web series which I wrote, directed, and executive produced which you watch here. I learned about editing and graphic design. I still own the editing and graphics packages I bought back then to this day.

But it couldn’t last. In the end the minimum payments were so crippling that I had to take out a debt consolidation loan to get that nightmare under control.

We ended up taking on tenants for our second bedroom to help make ends meet. My dad stayed with us for a while before he retired and my best friend did too before we moved out. 

Was it weird to live with somebody else while my future wife and I were learning to live with each other? Sure, but we did it and we made it out the other side. 

In the end, I didn’t stick with that career. After a bad accident I couldn’t lug around the gear any more, and frankly I was never very good at shooting stuff. 

That company was a bust, but I did end up with a tangible asset; the web series I made (even though it wouldn’t be out for years afterward), and the connections with other people in the industry that I’m still in contact with today.

More importantly it gave me my first tastes of real business, owning both RPN Photography and BNS Media Group. I previously owned an idea house called Insert Name Here Productions, but that folded relatively quickly. 

These were the first companies I owned for a while. It was in their failures that I was able to pivot to where I am today.

The time I used my settlement check to fund my first graphic novel

Between 2008 and 2010 I kept my head low. We were in the worst financial crisis of my lifetime. I couldn’t get steady work. We were still reeling from all the credit card debt from my failed company and accident.

I also couldn’t get anywhere as a writer. 

I had a couple of projects optioned and pitched around town, but mostly I was writing for my wall and my manager. 

It was a very demoralizing time for me. 

I no longer had gear, so I wasn’t valuable to anybody. I was also new to LA with no contacts, so nobody took me seriously. Even my web series Connections was stuck in editing and wouldn’t make it out into the world until 2013.  

I had nothing and it sucked. Well that’s not true. I had something; crippling debt. It was a struggle just to survive. 

Then we got a settlement from my accident and that all changed. Instead of massive debt I actually had a little money in the bank. Woohoo! 

Most people would invest that money, but we decided to make something. I knew I was either going to get something out into the world or I would never be a successful writer.

It was at this time that my manager brought me back into the world of comics, which I hadn’t read in years. I fell back in love and decided to do an ashcan of our first book, The Wannabes.

Now, this was relatively cheap by my current standards, but the book was going to be about $600 to create and print. Not a small investment for anybody.

But I couldn’t give up. 

I ate into the settlement money still left over from my car accident and took a leap. My career was stalled, and either I was going to try something new or give up.

I don’t like giving up, so I tried. 

And I failed. 

Nobody wanted my comic book when I pitched it at San Diego Comic Con 2010. It was demoralizing. I went back home with my tail between my legs.

Now remember at this point, I just dug myself out of a $40,000 hole with my only tangible assets being a web series (which wouldn’t come out until 2013 and an eight page comic book which was unsalable.

So what did I do? 

I doubled down on books and made ashcans for two more comic books; Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter and Paradise. That was another $1,000 investment with what little money I had left. 

The time I funded a graphic novel with an IRA

After making the Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter ashcan and shopping it around, a publishing company came along and offered me a contract to publish Ichabod! 

Yay! 

I was in the money, right? 

Oh yeah, except not at all. They would publish the book, but they weren’t going to pay for any production costs. 

Which meant I had to either find the money for production or turn down the only contract I had ever seen. 

I couldn’t turn it down. I had to move forward.

So I cashed in an IRA in order to fund the production costs. I paid the penalty and everything. 

In the end I made Ichabod happen; 4 issues, epilogue plus back matter content. In total it was about $8,000 for production costs. Not an easy pill to swallow for somebody barely making $20,000 a year. 

Today, Ichabod has more that doubled that initial investment in four years. That’s today though. Back in 2011, I cleared -$8,000 on my taxes. 

The time I used Kickstarter to fund my first print run.

It was a long and strange road, but eventually I got back the rights to Ichabod from the publishing company and decided to print it myself. 

With no money, it wasn’t going to be easy. So how did I do that? Kickstarter.

I figured if I could raise enough money through Kickstarter, then it would be a good proof of concept and allow me to buy all the books I needed to start my company.

This is the first time I ever used any outside funds to generate money for my business. 

Luckily, it worked! We made enough for Ichabod and to cover the costs of starting Wannabe Press.

More than the money, this gave me a boost of confidence that people wanted the thing that I made. 

The time I used my salary to fund the rest of my first slate of books

Around this time I also had 13 of 22 pages of Paradise #1 finished, a kid’s book with a publisher, a middle grade fiction novel with that same publisher, and needed to edit my next novel while getting a cover done. 

I wanted to finish the final nine pages of Paradise #1, buy back the rights to both my kid’s book and novel, and pay for editing services/cover design for my new book. This would be the foundation for my company, Wannabe Press, which publishes graphic novels, traditional novels, and kid’s books. 

However, it would cost me $2,500 in order to make all that happen. How did I fund this? 

I dipped into my salary. 

Around this time both me and my wife had jobs and I used what little remaining income there was to fund this $2,500 extra expense. 

Total return to date is over $7,000 BTW, and it grows every month. 

The time Wannabe Press started self funding itself

by 2015, it was time to debut our first slate of books. I didn’t want to be an online only company. My strength was in face to face sales and that meant going to shows. Lots of shows.  

Shows cost anywhere from $35 for a very small show up to $1,000+ for the big ones. We didn’t have a slush fund put aside for things like this, so I paid for the first cons and print books out of my own pocket. 

I didn’t have to dip into my own wallet for long. Almost immediately those shows started paying for themselves AND turning a profit. 

People bought Ichabod. They bought my novel and they bought my kid’s book. The books were now paying for the shows and giving me enough left over to let me invest in new shows and products. 

After we launched our second slate in 2016, revenue at shows doubled! Hopefully in 2017 it can double again with our next slate! 

So there you have it. 

I have funded my company in almost every way possible. I funded them with credit cards, with a settlement check, and with my salary. I used renters to lower my bills and crowdfunding to print books. I even cashed out an IRA to make things happen.

I am proof that there is always a way to get money if you are passionate enough and crazy enough. 

The only question is how willing you are to take a risk on yourself. It’s not always easy. In fact it’s never easy, but the question is this…how bad do you want it? 

If you are ready to start your own company today and take a risk, book a free 30 minute strategy call with me today by clicking here

Russell Nohelty is writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press and hosts the Business of Art podcast, which you can find here

Guilt can’t scale

I had a conversation with a creator recently. What we talked about gnawed away at me all weekend. It’s something I hear all the time. It’s something that impedes so many creatives from moving onto the next level.

He was bitter because nobody he knew wanted to buy his book.

He went to them hat in hand and couldn’t get anybody to take a chance what he had to offer. He didn’t understand why his family would forsake him while they bought whatever celebrities told them to buy.

“It’s not personal,” I told him.

“But why?” he asked me. “They are my family. They should be supporting me more than some celebrity.”

I only had one reply. “Guilt can’t scale.”

You can’t guilt people into buying something. It makes them bitter and resentful. They see your panhandling as an obligation that they want to get rid of as soon as possible. They won’t become long term customers. Even if you do somehow get their money, all you’ve done is make yourself a nuisance. You haven’t made a customer for life.

Make no mistake, that’s what you are after in the end. One of the biggest predictors of overall success is customer lifetime value. Obligation does not build a happy customer. Obligation is never appreciated.

Think about the things you are obligated to do. You are obligated to pay your mortgage. You are obligated to do chores. You are obligated to take your dog to the vet.

All those things suck.

Nobody willingly takes on obligation with a smile. You can only force an obligation on somebody. And you don’t want to force anybody into buying your product. You want them to buy it happily. You want them to buy all your products because it fits a need in their life, even if that need is just edifying their soul.

Let me give you some statistics. I’ve run three Kickstarter campaigns in the last year. The first one for Katrina Hates the Dead raised $8,500 from 294 backers. The second one for My Father Didn’t Kill Himself raised $3,300 from 155 backers. The third for I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story raised $2,100 from 65 backers.

Now, I have over 20,000 twitter followers, 2,000 Facebook friends, and 7,000 Instagram followers, on top of 2,000 people on my mailing list. That’s a reach of around 30,000 people.

And yet I only had a total of 500 people back those projects combined. That’s a little under 2% of my reach that decided to buy from me.

I could be really mad about that. I could sulk. I could cry. I could pound my fist in the air. I could yell at the people that didn’t back.

But what will that get me?

It won’t get more people to back. It won’t make me more money. All it will do is ruin friendships and destroy family ties. On top of all that, it would make me an angry, spiteful, vindictive man. That’s no way to go through life.

So I left the 98% alone and focus my products on the 2%. Those are the people that really like my sense of humor. They are the ones who resonate with my message. Those people want to buy my products. They have the highest customer lifetime value. They are my target audience

That’s no different than every other company. This is how all companies succeed. They focus their message on the 2% of the marketplace that resonates with their message.

If I know that 2% of people will back my projects, then I can develop a plan to find more people that are just like my ideal market. It’s incumbent on me to cast the biggest net I can so that 2% is as big as humanly possible. If I have 3,000,000 people in that net, then the 2% that buy will get me exponentially more revenue than the 30,000 I have right now.

There are multiple ways to increase your profit, but focusing your attention on who isn’t buying from you isn’t one of them.

You don’t want people to buy things out of obligation or guilt anyway. You want them to buy because they WANT to buy. Those are the people who are in your ideal market. Those are the people you can build a business around. You will never convince somebody your product is cool if they don’t see a need for it.

Maybe along the way you’ll guilt a couple people into buying from you. But those people are short term gain. They aren’t going to buy every one of your products. They aren’t in in for the long haul. They aren’t going to support your entire career.

You will do well to remember that and become okay with it. In the short term it hurts when your family doesn’t buy from you, especially when you are just getting started. In the beginning you are clawing for every dollar, but that’s why strategic planning is so important. That’s why you can’t focus on the short term. You have to focus on the long term.

And in the long term, understanding that it’s not personal is one of the most important skills you can learn for your business and for your sanity. After all, guilt can’t scale.

If you would like to discuss your own short term and long term goals, I’m offering free 30-minute strategy sessions. You can book yours by clicking here.

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts The Business of Art podcast (www.thebusinessofart.us). His stuff is awesome.

8 Ways I Keep Going Even on Days I’m Super Depressed

 

I suffer from massive depression. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed. Some days moving physically hurts. 

I’m not alone. Almost everybody I know suffers from some form of depression. It feels like this is an epidemic in my generation. Even though we have access to everything, our brains eat away at us. Even though we can do anything, our bodies fight against us. 

I read a lot and depression. Some of it helps, most of it doesn’t. Sometimes I find a tidbit that turns me around. I never know what’s going to help in the moment, but I know right now I’m cycling in a bad way. 

So I want to tell you how I keep going even on days when I can barely look at myself in the mirror. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a doctor. I’m just a guy that deals with my own fight all the time.

1. I remember what I do has value. 

I don’t mean monetary value. I mean it has value to the world. I remember that my life has value to the whole of humanity. 

Even if that value is to help only one person for the rest of my life, that is enough value for me to continue, because if I don’t then I can’t help that person and they will suffer needlessly. 

Chances are I will help more than one person, which means my life has exponential value to the world. If I can help a million people then my suffering is worth it, but even if I can only help one it’s worth it too. 

2. I set a project for myself. 

The hardest thing to do when you are depressed is anything. I want to lie on the floor and go catatonic right now, but instead I’m writing this article. 

I force myself to do something. Even if it’s just write an article or draw a picture. It’s something. I sit myself down at my desk and work away until it’s done. Sometimes it takes an hour. Sometimes it takes a week. But in the end I finished something.

I find that just releasing those creative energies helps my mood immeasurably. A lot of my depression comes from helplessness and completing something proves I have control. 

It’s hard at first to do this. Your body will fight against you. But over time it gets easier. Now, I barely have to fight to keep going. 

3. I remember life is long and there’s always time to turn it around. 

Life is long. I’m 33 now and I feel like I’ve been here forEVER! Statistically, I have more than double my life left. 

Even if I’m bankrupt today, tomorrow I might be the presumptive Republican nominee for President. A couple of years ago I had a great job, and now I’m running my own company. 

Are there skids along the way? Of course. But there will also be a chance for greatness. There will be loss, but there will also be time for love. 

There is always time to turn it around. Always. 

4. I know my emotions ebb and flow.

I charted out my emotions and found that I am almost always depressed on the first of the month (when my mortgage is due) and the 20th (When I pay my credit card). I found that I’m happiest on days when I’m speaking and about half of that joy bleeds over into the next day. 

I have about 2–3 bad days and 4–5 really good days a month on average. Once I knew that it became about maximizing the good days and riding out the bad days. 

5. I remember that people love me. 

It’s hard sometimes when you are in the deepest parts of depression to remember people love you. When you are in a spin cycle of depression it’s all you can do to breath. 

It’s easy to think about how much easier people’s lives would be if I was gone. If I was gone then my wife wouldn’t be saddled by my business, after all. My business has good months and bad months, but it is never steady and stable. It would make life so much easier for her never to worry about money again. It’s easier to think about the positives to your death when you are depressed. 

But there is also a crippling emotional cost that comes with my death. There is love and support that my wife and I give each other. There is her happiness to think about, which outweighs our finances by a country mile. There’s always time to make more money. 

I never want to hurt her, so by extension I must stay around. When I’m depressed I desperately want to see all the things that would be better if I was gone, but I force myself to see all of the things that would be worse. 

6. I accept that it’s not logical. 

My depression isn’t logical. It comes when it wants. Sometimes it comes on the good days. Sometimes it comes when I should be elated. 

My depression colors everything I do. It makes me think my work sucks even when it’s good. It makes me think meetings went terribly even if they went well. It makes me think everybody is against me even when they are helping me. 

So since I know that, I try not to let myself get caught in the cycle. I try not to make decisions depressed. When I have to make decisions, I understand they will be colored by my emotions. 

7. I never cancel meetings because of my mood. 

I know that my body wants out of human interaction. I know that it wants to dig into a hole and disappear. I know that it doesn’t want to see people, but I force it out anyway. 

If necessary I will tell people the truth when I see them, but it almost never comes to that. If anything my mood improves. I find myself happier when I get out. 

I can easily cycle when I’m by myself, but seeing other people prevents me from doing that. It’s hard to think everybody hates me when I’m hanging out with a friend who clearly likes me. 

8. I talk openly about my depression. 

It’s hard to start the conversation the first time, but when I openly told people I suffer from depression things got so much easier. Just saying it out loud made me unashamed of my condition. A huge part of depression for me is shame, and talking about it took that shame away. 

It puts everything I’m doing into perspective. It doesn’t make it better, but at least I took some control of my depression. At least I have some power. 

That’s how I survive. I work within the confines of my depression. I complete projects so that I don’t seem helpless. I see people so I don’t feel alone. I understand my triggers so I don’t do anything stupid. 

When I recognize my depression, I have a sort of mode that I enter. It’s like power saving mode on a computer. 

I know that my work probably doesn’t suck, it’s my depression saying it sucks. I know my life isn’t horrible. It’s my depression saying it’s horrible. Even though I can’t turn depression off, it allows me to still function, because I know it will pass. 

I know that I will live and that I should live. 

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He runs the publishing company Wannabe Press and hosts the twice weekly podcast The Business of Art. To book a free 30 minute strategy call, click here

 

I made a mistake. Actually I've made about a million.

Mistakes. They are the bane of our existence, right? I mean they are the reason projects fall apart. They are the reason we don't get the job. They are the reason the love of our lives rejected us. If we could just turn away from mistakes then everything would be peachy keen like a jelly bean, right? 

Wrong. Come on. You had to know that was coming. The post can't be over after seventy-five words. 

This is the prevailing logic of most humans and it's one of the main things holding us back from succeeding. You see, mistakes aren't the reason we fail. They are the reason we eventually succeed. 

Let me tell you a story about babies. 

I was recently at my sister's house, hanging out with my 15-month-old nephew. He's adorable, energetic, and fearless. I watched him pull himself up on a banister a dozen times and fall on his butt every single one. Everybody else was scared stiff he would hurt himself, but he was having a ball failing miserably. 

I watched him open every drawer in their house and bang on every pan until his ears hurt. I watched him touch every noisy button he could find until he started crying. I watched him play with blocks and fail to get them to fit together...until he did.

That kid was failing HARD and loving every minute of it. Failure didn't matter to him. Thing is, he'd been failing hard at everything since he was born. First, he couldn't roll over. Then, he couldn't sit up. Then, he couldn't crawl. Eventually, he mastered all of those things by trying and failing. 

Last time I saw him he was crawling. He was crawling his little butt off unable to stand even if he wanted. In the intervening months since I left, that all changed. 

The kid went from unable to stand to wobbling for a few seconds, to toddling around the house like a terror. It's really amazing if you think about it, just how much failure went into something so simple that we take for granted. 

Yes, he had to grow his strength and develop his motor skills so he was able to walk, but he also had to try walking a hundred times before he figured it out once he had the skills. 

Which is how we've worked from the beginning of our existence. It's how all things have worked from the beginning of time eternal for all animals. We mistake our way into success. 

We don't think about this much once we're grown, but failure and mistakes are what made us great. They are why we know not to touch hot stoves and how we know 2+2=4. The mistakes set up back at first, but they also leaped us forward. 

Then, somewhere along the line we got it in our heads that mistakes were bad. Maybe it was in high school when grades mattered to get into college. Maybe it was in college when we went to get a job. Maybe it was in that first job when mistakes could cost us a raise or get us fired . 

I don't know where it was, but somewhere most of us decided risks were bad because mistakes were unconscionable. But we forget that the only reason we even got the job in the first place was because of a million mistakes we made along the way. We forget the hundred horrible job interviews and the million problems we got wrong in school. 

We forget that the only reason we are any good at something now is because we sucked at it and that we only got good because we kept doing it until mastered it. It was that way with walking, riding a bike, driving a car, and whatever work it is you do now. 

I see it in my own life for sure. Every time I master something I systematize it and then I find something else to learn. You would think because I'm great at one thing I would be immediately great at that other thing day one, right? 

Nope!

I suck at it for a long while. I end up making tons of mistakes. The kind of mistakes I used to think were horrific. But you know what? Those mistakes end up fading over time and I end up being pretty great at that new thing too. 

Then I master it, systematize it, and fail at another thing. And another. And another. Even the things I never get great at end up teaching me so much that the experience was worth it. I ended up as a better person and more capable workers by realizing mistakes and failure aren't the enemy.

Which brings me to my point. If you want to be an entrepreneur, or even just a well-rounded person, failure is part of the game. Mistakes are part of the game. Staying idle isn't going to move your forward, and in this world of rapid change, it's increasingly dangerous not to constantly learn. 

So I urge you to come to terms with your mistakes and understand they molded you into who you are today. If you want to learn. If you want to grow. If you want to be great at something, you have to understand that failure and mistakes are part of the game. 

You can't fail forever, but you have to make mistakes to succeed. 

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts The Business of Art podcast (www.thebusinessofart.us)

 

I Quit My Job One Year Ago Today

This is the one year anniversary of me quitting my job and going off on my own. It's been harder and more rewarding that I could have ever imaged.

Every day I think about going back to my old company and groveling for my job back, or finding a job that will pay me a steady check, or ending it all because I'm too crippled with depression to move.

Every. Single. Day.

On the good days, I think about how much more I would have in my bank account if I also had a job. On bad days, I collapse from the depression and can't move.

Most days are the middling days. Nothing really happens in them. They aren't up and aren't down. On those days I keep moving forward, wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life.

But I don't stop. I keep moving forward. I regret it every day, but I also could never see me doing anything else. It's hard to image living those two emotions simultaneously, but they are with me constantly. Pride and regret. Shame and joy. Love and Hate.

I have been a reluctant entrepreneur my whole life. I wanted the stability of a job but hated every job I ever had. I've gone from job to my own business and back to job and then back to entrepreneurship so many times. I've come to terms with the fact this is my life. I am this thing. I am me.

I have not taken the easy route of selling established products either. I've not taken the easy route to sell popular products. I've sold my own products, building my own name, on my own terms. That I'm very proud of. When people buy my products it's because of me and the products my team created with our bare hands.

I'm not a carpenter. I'm not a mechanic. I don't build that sort of stuff.

I build companies. I build content. I build dreams. I am very proud of that.

Now let's just hope the shaky house of cards lasts until I can find some hot glue.

 

Chill out. Your Heroes Didn't Start Out Doing Everything.

I speak at a lot of conferences. It's something I added into my arsenal this year and it's going well.

I also have a weekly blog, a twice-weekly podcast, a strong social media presence, exhibit at dozens of cons a year around the country, and run a publishing company. Even with that I'm still able to attend to clients and get projects finished.  

If I looked at me from five years ago, I would hyperventilate. I never thought that was possible. Like ever. I was struggling to even get a few hundred words a day written. 

Yet, now I do it without a second thought. That's because I've had time to figure it all out. Everybody you respect has had years to build a following, learn how business works, figure out how to add revenue channels, and make it all seem easy. You need to quit comparing yourself to them. You'll get there if you work at it. 

I see people just starting out worried because they can't do as much as me. They ask me for my secret, and it's very simple. 

I didn't do it all at once.

What you are seeing is a decades-long culmination of me becoming great at one thing, then systematizing it so I can do it with the least amount of time commitment possible, then adding something else, and becoming great at that. Meanwhile, I'm cutting out stuff that doesn't work. So just like the robots in the Matrix when they destroy Zion for the fifth time I am getting exceedingly good at doing what works for me. 

When I started, though, I didn't know what worked. I tried everything. I was doing things that wasted my time with no gain. I was spinning my wheels more than I was being productive.  I was like a duck, kicking furiously just to stay afloat. 

But that's what you do as a young creator. Like a child, you don't know the stove is hot and the dog is friendly. So you touch everything until you figure it out. Parents, like coaches) can and should guide you, but you have to be the one learning what works for you.

And just like a child, you grow over time. You learn what works and what doesn't. You learn who likes your work and who doesn't. You learn your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can double down on those and cut out the ones that don't work for you. 

And that's where I see a lot of young creators going wrong. They think they can get the following with mediocre content as long as they have several dozen social media profiles. They want quantity over quality.  

However, it can't happen overnight. First-time authors do become best sellers, but that's a fluke. You can't base your career on a fluke any more than you can base your life on winning the lottery. 

So I recommend focusing on creating great content first. Write or draw or bake or whatever it is you do. Get great at that one thing first.

Of course, you are going to have a blog or a podcast, and social media is a key, but while you are sucky at a thing or mediocre at a thing, don't worry about not having a big audience. Don't worry that you aren't David Baldacci. Worry about being great at being a content creator. 

Before you can start supercharging your audience you MUST be able to give them great content they want to see. You need to put up your work in progress because your small audience will guide you into becoming the creator that will speak to your needs, but you're not focused on audience first. You are focused on creating first. That's the key. 

Before people will ask you to speak at their shows you need to have a track record of success they can Google. Before success, you need the work. 

There is a process of growth that comes over time. You just get better at stuff you work really hard at improving. You can't help but get better. 

 Whenever I teach people how to make money on their work, my first statement is always "This is all assuming you have great content. If you don't have great content already, then you are in the wrong place."

Because great content is the barometer. Everybody has great content. Everybody from Tim Ferris down to Stephen King and to me and so on are going after audience eyeballs. We already create great content. 

But if you do have great content, then it's about doing it better and quicker so you can start really building your audience. 

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts the twice-weekly podcast The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us)

Where Are You Now vs. Where Do You Want To Go?

I was on a plane this weekend headed back from Vegas. My wife and I were sitting next to a very lovely woman. We got to chatting and found out she was a professional host and model with a decent sized fan base. You might not know her name, but I’ll bet you’ve seen her face at least once in the past few years.

 We talked the whole trip back and eventually the conversation turned to her career. “I’m so over modeling,” she said. 

“Why?” I asked. 

“I want to do something else,” she said. “Plus I’m sick of constantly traveling.” 

That’s a pretty good reason. I’m sure it went deeper than that, but on the surface it was a common enough reason clients gave me for wanting a career change. 

“What do you want to do?” I asked. 

She replied to me without batting an eye. “I want to be Giuliana Rancic.” 

For those that don’t know, Giuliana Rancic is a television host on E! who interviews celebrities and hosts shows. She’s kind of a big deal, but not a big enough deal that it’s completely unattainable, especially given this woman was a minor celebrity in her own right. 

Of course, this led to the most famous question I ask people. “What are you doing to become her?” 

She was tongue-tied. “Well, I’m going back to my commercial agent. They dropped me because I was traveling so much, but I’ll be able to book things really quick now that I’ll be in town more.” 

“That’s great,” I replied. “But that’s what they are doing to help your career. What are you doing yourself to get from where you are to where you want to be?” 

Another moment of silence. A long moment. She didn’t have an answer. 

She’s not alone. That question stumps everybody. It is a problem common with my clients. They know they are done with their current career. Some even know what they want to do next. Nobody is doing anything to get from where they are to where they want to end up though. 

Luckily, it’s a problem with a solution. There is a path to find the answers to move your career in the right direction. 

And you need a path. Paths lead to action. Actions lead to results. Without dedicated and specific actions to get from point A to point B, you will never get where you want to go. 

We’re going to go through in more detail exactly what I talked about with this woman on my podcast The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us) this Friday.

If you want to hear me break down our conversation and the exact steps I told her to take, subscribe now and join me Friday for an in-depth look at our conversation. It’s time to get off the fence and move forward in the right direction. 

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and host The Business of Art Podcast (www.thebusinessofart.us)

How to Psych Yourself Up to Sell your Art

I used to train clients on the nuts and bolts of the sales process on my first call with them. When I did that they would inevitably fail and fail hard. It’s not because they are bad sellers or because they have a bad product. It’s because I trained them how to sell before I got them comfortable with why we sell. 

The biggest issue I face with creators is the confidence to talk with people about their projects. They don’t think it’s good enough. They don’t think they are good enough. They are wrong. 

If you are feeling like that you are wrong too. You can do it. You can do it all. You can be a great sales person and stalwart for your projects. In fact, you MUST be the best stalwart because at least at the beginning there is nobody else that can sell your project as well as you. 

So here are a few of my favorite ways to get comfortable selling, especially when it scared you to talk to people. 

Start with your existing network. 

The people that know and like you will put up with a lot from you. So if you need to practice your pitch the best way is to start with the people you know. They might not be the best judge of your pitch, but they will encourage you to practice and that is more important. Once you are comfortable with them, you can expand out into other networks. Just the simple act of speaking about your product out loud makes you a better and more confident seller.  

Expect to hear a no.

One of the biggest mindset blocks that inhibits people from selling is that they always expect to hear a yes. That’s backwards. You should expect to hear a no. A yes should be something amazing and incredible. It should be something you cherish because they don’t come around that often. The good news is there are 7.4 billion people in the world, so there’s plenty of room to find your tribe. 

It’s not personal. 

You can’t take things personally in sales. The truth is that most people don’t care about your thing, just like you don’t care about most things. It’s not that you hate McDonald’s, you just don’t want to eat there. So when somebody comes to offer you McDonald’s and you say no, it’s just your preference. You’re a Chick-Fil-A type of person. 

It’s the same with any business, including yours. Not everybody is in the market or mindset to buy your stuff. Instead of focusing on them, focus on those people who DO want to buy. 

It’s all about the numbers

Sales is a numbers game. If we know almost everybody will say no, that saying no is not personal, and that we should focus on people that want what we have to offer, now it’s just about finding those people. 

That means we have to hear a lot of nos and we have to deal with a ton of indifference in order to weed that 7.4 billion into the few thousand that will make our businesses profitable. If we find enough yeses we have a viable business. 

Any business can become viable. The question is will you find your profitability point before you run out of money. The more people you talk to the better your chances are or being successful. 

It’s like that guy who always had a date on Saturday night. He wasn’t particularly smart, or fun, or good looking. He just asked everybody until one person said yes. 

Do it with passion.

Nobody knows your brand. Nobody. You are competing in a marketplace, any marketplace, with a ton of established brands that people know. 

In order to shake them loose and be interested in you, there needs to be passion in your voice. They need to know you love your product and would do anything to make it succeed. That passion drives sales.

You are trying to wake people up and take notice of you. Don’t be listless. If your passion doesn’t come through in your voice and attitude, NOBODY WILL CARE. 

Make it about them.

One of my favorite sales techniques is not to sell at all. The more you talk about somebody else, ask them questions, and find out what they are about, the more likely they are to identify with your brand and buy your product. 

After all, Dove isn’t coming to ask about their hopes and dreams. They aren’t talking about Star Wars or football. So if you make it about the customer, engage them, and get them to like you before before you start talking about your stuff, they’ll more likely buy from you.

If you are scared of something, do something even scarier.

This is a rather famous trick, but I still love it. If you are scared to sell, go sky-diving, or scuba diving, or do something that is absolutely petrifying. Once you have done that the rest of your life…it doesn’t seem so scary.

Do you have any techniques that work for you? Let me know in the comments. 

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts The Business of Art Podcast (www.thebusinessofart.us

You don't have to be poor and broke

I hear artists cry broke all the time. I hear them complain about not being able to make any money, that they don’t have any clients, and that nobody will buy their work. 

Here’s the problem with that. 

They simultaneously refuse to spend the minimal amount of time learning how to market themselves, sell their products, build a brand, balance a budget, develop cash flow positive strategies, and implement long term planning. 

It’s baffling. This is such a fatal flaw in the world of artists. 

It really is our hubris. You would never start a McDonald’s without taking a course on business. You would never found a tech company without forming a corporation around it. You would never start a product without developing a strong brand. 

Yet we creatives think we are above that. We think we are above learning business. “I just want to create.”

That’s the mantra.

I hear it all the time. Guess what, the guy who fixes cars just wants to fix cars. The guy that builds shelves just wants to build stuff. The guy that sells phones just wants to sell phones. 

Yet, in order to own a business they are constantly pulled from those chores we want to do in order to keep our business running. 

You are not alone in wanting to create. All businesses just want to do the thing they love. 

Creatives are alone in not learning how business works. That is our failing. 

Unfortunately, that’s a you problem, and you need to get over yourself. You don’t have to be poor and broke. It doesn’t have to be our credo. 

Because you can do this. You can make money. There are tried and true things you can do to make a living doing the thing you love. 

It’s all your choice. 

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He’s screamed into the void about creatives learning business for years, and will do it for as long as he’s able. Check out his publishing company www.wannabepress.com and his podcast The Business of Art. 

If you say you cant do it too you are only bullshitting yourself.

Here’s the problem with people. We are very good at convincing ourselves what we’re doing is right and making a change can’t happen. 

If you’re not starting your business, you’ll make an excuse. If you’re not writing your book, you will figure out a reason to make yourself feel better about it. 

It’s all horseshit. All of it. 

The biggest excuse I get when I talk to people is “Well, it’s easy for you. You’re outgoing.” 

Horse. Shit. 

I am more outgoing than some, it’s true. But I’m also intrinsically unlikable. I used to hate everybody on principle. I was incredibly polarizing. I easily made enemies. I had no filter. I just wanted to create. I was a pill. 

Frankly, most people didn’t like to be around me. 

There’s a really good chance most people STILL don’t like me. But regardless, even though I had that one positive I was riddled with negatives. Riddled with them, and still am. 

But I worked through them. I still work through them. 

The thing is I didn’t let all that stuff stop me. I made a list of all the stuff I wasn’t good at, namely sales and marketing. Also, just generally being a good person who people liked to be around. 

I took all that stuff and I worked on them until they were strengths of mine. Until I could go out and make people want to buy my book because I was personable and nice. 

Yes I could always talk to people, but they would usually be turned off by me. I had to take the part about me about being outgoing and mold the personality around it so it worked for my business. 

We’re not going to be the same. You will have different strengths and weaknesses. They might be the exact opposite as mine. But the point is you can do it. 

You are only lying to yourself if you say you can’t. 

 

I had a Great Month, so How is my Bank Account Still Going Down!?

I had a great month, why am I bleeding money?!

 

If you are like me, this situation has happened to you at least once before. 

You are rocking and rolling along. You just had a great month. You sold a lot of merchandise. You got a lot of new followers and people subscribed to your mailing list. You feel pretty good about yourself.

Then you check your bank account somehow it’s the exact same as when the month started.

How does that happen? 

You know you made a bunch of money that month. General reaction to your work has been great. People were buying your product by the barrel load! You If anything, your bank account should have shot up, and yet it didn’t.

Worse, it’s actually lower than where you started the month. That is so depressing.

But why is it happening? Let’s throw out some reasons and some fixes.

1. Your expenses are too high. If you are selling product for less or around what it costs you to make it, then there’s no way you can get ahead. Expenses aren’t just your time or the cost of goods and materials either. They are overhead expenses for your space, labor costs, appearance costs, marketing costs (aka customer acquisition costs), and all the costs that go into making your product.

Fix 1: Lower your expenses. Maybe you don’t need your co-working space, or maybe you can buy in bulk and cut costs. Maybe you can split tables at cons, or buy less marketing material. Regardless, lowering your expenses while selling the same means more profit. 

Fix 2: Raise your prices. If you need to sell 30 pieces at $20, you would only need to sell 20 pieces at $30, and your expenses would be less too b/c every piece would cost less to make in materials and time. This also works if you have a profit maximizer offer for your rabid fans.

2. Your spending habits are out of proportion to your income. Maybe your business is actually doing fine. Maybe you are profitable. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll get ahead if you are a Spendy McGunderson in your personal life.

Fix 1: Make a Strict Budget. There are a lot of free budgeting softwares like Mint and Wave, but if you want a good business one I use Quickbooks Self Employed, which we got on discount for $4.95/mo. It’s the cheapest of the paid solutions, and it’s quick. You have to know where you stand so you’ll know how to fix it.

Fix 2: Get multiple bank accounts. One way to fix this is to get 4–5 different accounts for your business. One of them for expenses, one for your salary, one for profit, and one for taxes at least. Then, you can split everything into their appropriate categories and you’ll know exactly how much you have left to spend on personal stuff. You can also do this with envelopes at home, but then you need cash. 

3. Find more, better clients. Maybe you are drowning in low profit clients who demand the world from you. This could be fixed with just raising your prices, but let’s say you’ve already done that and you still are stuck. You’ll need to find better clients and more of them, but how do you find the good clients and not the time sucks?

Fix 1: Discover your ideal client. In any group of clients, there are 20% that give you most of your profit and provide the least headache. You need to identify those people, what makes them unique, and talk to them about why they have chosen you as a vendor. Then, once you have a good profile of those people, you can target your marketing those those ideal clients who have the lowest customer acquisition cost. 

Fix 2: Cut out draining clients. You’ll probably have to do Fix 1 before doing Fix 2, but there are an additional 20% of your clients who give you 80% of the headaches while giving you absolutely nothing in return. If you can cut those clients, you will be able to focus on your high profit clients and deliver more for them. This is really scary I know, but it is also really effective.

So there are three of the most common problems when you’ve had a great month, but still aren’t getting ahead. If you like this I can show you some ways to keep getting ahead month after month, once you’ve fixed these issues.

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher and consultant. He runs the publishing company Wannabe Press, and The Business of Art podcast, which helps creatives build better businesses. 

Introverts...you gotta step up your con game! Here are some tips to help you talk to people

I go to a lot of cons. A lot. In fact, if there is a con in Socal, I'm usually there. If there's a con in Norcal, I'm probably there. 

I love cons. We try to do 30+ a year in all sorts of genres. I walk the aisles at every one trying to find new stuff, and am constantly met with artists and vendors that shy away from talking to me, or engage me with their eyes low and voice squeaky. People's con game is weak, son. 

Engaging at shows is so important to get fans and make more money. Fans want to meet you. They want to buy things that excites them. They want to find a cool indie person and say "look at this! They are gonna blow up!"

You are the product as much as what you are selling. They want to go back to their friends with a story. They want to hang your art on their wall and remember that cool person they met at that awesome con. 

With that being said, I know not everybody is as outgoing as me, so here are a couple of tips that can help you get you talking to more people. 

1. Smile and say Hello - I know it's hard, but the simple act of smiling makes your more approachable and sends endorphins to your brain to help you get over the con mopies. If you are ever down at a con, just smile like an idiot for 10 seconds and you can force your mood to improve. Once you are smiling, just wait until somebody looks your way and say "Hello". The advanced move is saying "Want to see something cool?" If you can get to that point, you'll get tons more foot traffic, and with more foot traffic, more people will buy your stuff. 

2. Eat - Everybody gets hangry when they don't eat, and most of us eat terribly at cons. Spending a few minutes at a supermarket getting grapes, water, and some pre-made sandwiches will do you a world of good. Candy and sugar is going to make you drop like a rock and make you harder to be around. 

3. Focus on your best selling product(s) - Most people get overwhelm at booths, including the vendors. If you know which product sells the best, then just ask if they like that product, and then you can talk about it. If they say NO, then you can ask what they DO like and it's easier to engage with them. 

4. Be a fan - We are probably the biggest fans around. I mean we love comics, or art, or books, or photography so much that we created something. We are the Super Duper Fans. So you can geek out with people about what you love. Talk to them about other books and why you made your project. Talk to them about what it means to you, and why you exhibit. Be you. 

5. Let people feel your product - If you can, put a product in somebody's hand. People are many times more likely to buy if they are holding a product, feel it, and can imagine owning it, than if they are just looking at it. If you do art than frame it and show somebody what it would look like. If you write books then let them hold it and flip through it. 

6. Finally, remember that people want to buy - People are there with money to spend. Remember that. At a big con they have probably been saving for months. They want to buy stuff. They've thought about what kinds of stuff they want. It's up to you to show them your stuff is their kind of cool. 

You aren't going to sell everybody. In fact you aren't going to sell almost anybody, especially at first. However, if you can get comfortable selling then you'll have a better time at a cons and you'll even leave with some money in your pocket. 

Just don't forget this. If somebody BUYS from you, make sure to get their email and give them ways for them to follow you!