The Three Pillars of Online Sales with Megan Auman
4:12PM Aug 16, 2021
other people's audiences
What I have discovered with pretty much all of the artists, makers, designers that I work with is that they try to like do a little bit on every platform, because they think that they should, and they end up not doing any platform and the reality is that every platform has its own kind of content.
Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing and scaling your business. So you can spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make money. You ready? All right, let's do this.
Welcome to Thrive by Design podcast, Episode 311. Hey there, it's Tracy Matthews, Chief Visionary Officer of Flourish and thrive Academy and I am excited to be here today with a very special guest, Megan Auman. I've met her years and years ago, and you are going to love this episode, because today we're talking about the three pillars of online marketing and before I go into an intro, I just wanted to share something that I'm really excited about. I brought back a masterclass one of my favorite master classes and turned it into an on demand class that I wanted to welcome all of you listening to the podcast today to watch for free. It's called How to Stand Out in a Saturated Market with a Timeless Jewelry Brand.
It is one of the best classes that we've ever created over here. And I retired it a couple of years ago because as a creative myself, I was like, Oh, I want to do something new and different and I realized it was such a good class that I needed to bring it back because it's so helpful. I cover the biggest lie ever told about finding your target market and I have to be honest with you, it's keeping your sales from skyrocketing. Plus, I'm going to talk about the five critical steps to making customers fall in love with your brand. Even if no one's ever heard of you and your biggest customer is your mom. The rarely understood success secret that has nothing to do with talent skill set or formal training, you're going to love this one and a commonly practiced yet totally silly strategy that's actually hurting your chances of getting noticed by influencers, the press and the media. So I am excited, I would love to invite you to head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/timelessbrand to save your seat and watch the class right away and tell me what you think after I had such a great response after the last class that I knew I had to bring this to you on the podcast. So head on over there. And you can also check out the link in the show notes. So you can click right over right away.
Now let me introduce to you my guest. Today we're going to be talking about one of my favorite topics which is online marketing and online sales. Megan Auman is an artist, a metalsmith and the founder of Designing an MBA. She's passionate about helping artists make a profit from their work and loves to share her business experience with others. She also wants to help you sell without shame. So I'm excited to talk to her today because she dives into her philosophy of three pillars of online sales. And I think you're gonna really love this episode. So let's dive in.
Well, welcome to the podcast, everyone. I have an amazing guest on the show today. Megan Auman. Megan, welcome.
Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here. When did we meet? when did we meet?
I was trying to remember that it's been? I don't know, it's been such a It's been so long like I Well, it's also been so long last time I saw you in
So crazy. Yeah, I think the last time you know, maybe we met at WDS. Oh, oh my gosh, I forgot about that show.
Yes. I feel like that is where we met. And that was so long ago.
That must have been like 2012 or something. I feel like that's like right when I started Flourish and Thrive Academy. You were starting your mentoring too? Yep. Yep. I think that that sounds all about right. Oh my gosh, anyway. So Gosh, it's been a long time. That was about eight, nine years ago. So it's great to have you on the show. Finally, I feel like I should have had you on here. So long ago. We've been talking about it just never happened.
Yes. You know what, that's okay, though. I think we've got a lot of good stuff to talk about. So you know, probably hopefully worth the wait. Perfect timing. We're gonna be talking about my favorite thing online sales today. So Megan, before let's do might you tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey into the jewelry space and etc?
Yeah, so I actually went to school for metal smithing. I says that on my diploma, I have always loved art. I've made things since I was little. I, you know, like I made art. I had this bead loom. I actually found this old recipe box that I had when I was a kid where I would like make things on my bead loom and then I would take pictures of them and then I had these little index cards, where I would write out like time and materials. I don't know where I got that from but apparently like it's in my blood, so I was gonna go to school be a painter, but I took a metal smithing, wax cast workshop when I was in high school and I was like, wait, you can go to college for this. Sign me up. So I ended up getting my BFA in metal smithing, and then because I had no idea what to do with a BFA in metal smithing, I was like, well, let's just go get my MFA too. So I got my MFA, I thought, okay, I'm either gonna start my own business or I'm going to go be a university professor and I ended up getting a one year sabbatical replacement job at university. And I always say what I learned in that year is that turns out I did not want to be a university professor. I love teaching. I'm so passionate about it. But the bureaucracy was just not for me. So I was like, Okay, let's pivot, then to launch my own business. So I launched my, my jewelry line, which is just my name Megan Auman
So I watched that, like, kind of 2017 as I was, like, sliding out of my teaching job, did my first trade show in 2008, which was the New York gift fair. And then 2009 happened. And I actually made a big move in that show, I had moved to the excellent design section, I had this big booth, I had designed out line of metal furniture, metal accessories, like home decor. And, you know, if you would like roll a bowling ball on the aisle that show it was really it was so so sad. And so I was like, okay, like, I don't really know what to do. And I so there's a theme here, which is that I like school. So I said to a friend, I don't know, maybe I should go get my MBA. She was like, No, that's crazy. You could teach this stuff. And I was like, Okay, well, it's 2009. Like, how do you teach this? And I was like, I'll start a blog. So I started a blog called Crafting an MBA. It's now called Designing an MBA, where I just started talking about business for artists and makers. And it really, at the time, hardly anyone was talking about that online. And so it really just sort of hit this sweet spot. And I was like, Okay, well, now I'm gonna start teaching classes online. So I started teaching and speaking and, what, 12 years later here, I am still running my jewelry business, still doing the teaching, speaking coaching, and I love it.
That's awesome. Well, I mean, a lot has changed in this year, I feel like so you know a little bit about my history, like 2008, because I'm about 10 years older than you or maybe even more than that, I don't know, it doesn't really matter. But like, I started my business in my late 20s, and my first business and closed it 11 years later, and that happened to be in 2009, when I closed the business because of 2008 when the market crashed, so I feel like I mean, what did COVID bring up for you like, last year during that time?
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, because it in some ways, a lot of things didn't change for me. So, like, I work from not from home, but I work alone, I have a studio space, my husband was actually still going to work, he works in manufacturing, and he needed to be there. He's the manager. And so he needs to be there, physically, and so really just kind of give me a lot of time to work. But for me, it really kind of let me shift and focus. So I had been kind of transitioning a little bit out of the wholesale side of my business. And for me, when COVID had I actually just decided, you know what, like, I'm gonna let that side of my business go. Because I knew that there were other designers, other jewelry artists who, like didn't have these other revenue streams that I did, like, I had already grown a really robust email list. So I had, you know, my direct to consumer online sales, I had my teaching business, and I just thought, you know what, like, this is a chance where I'm going to let some other people step into that space. So that was the biggest shift for me is like, I really scaled back my wholesale business last year to double down on my online sales and, and also my teaching and coaching.
Yeah, I know that that a lot of people were maybe not didn't necessarily want to do that. But they were forced to do that. I was actually messaging with one of our students this morning. And she had a really successful business but she had she had like the the dreaded thing where they have that one huge wholesale account that's almost like all of their sales, but it's so good, you can't let it go and then, you know, you know, what happens when like something like this happens like the sales go away, because they're not getting the sales and that trickle down effect. So wholesale was interesting last year, it's safe to say,
Yeah, it's been you know, it's been really fascinating and, and in my group coaching program, ours and profit makers, like I work with a lot of different artists and designers and makers and so really a lot of it dependent on kind of like genre and space you're in so if you were selling wholesale for a lot of like home decor type stores, that still seem to be doing really, really well in 2020. You know, one of the women in my community she does these gorgeous metal, and like rainbow Prisma wallhangings and she had a really, really good wholesale year and a lot of growth because people were stuck at home and they wanted whereas definitely for those of us making jewelry, it was a little bit more challenging. I will say that one shift that I had done is, you know, because, like, Yeah, I was lucky because I have an ru built up this online business. And so I was like, okay, you know, what do I think my customers want? And so I had rolled out like, some, like these colorful stacking rings and things like that just like the a little bit more like fun, playful impulse buy, where it's like, Okay, well, I'm sitting at home. But like, I still want to wear these fun rings. Because like, Lisa dresses up my sweatpants a little bit.
Exactly. I think people who are definitely shopping online, I think that for sure thing was stressful. And it makes total sense that home decor would be crushing it. I think people were like, Oh, well, we can't leave the house, you might as well, decorate our own.
Exactly what I think if you spend so much time at home, you're like, Oh, these are things I could I could fix this like, like, I felt really fortunate. And then I had spent, like all of 2019 making my studio, I had to move studio spaces because I'd had some flooding. And so I'd spent all 2019 like really making my studio, this vibrant, happy place that I loved to be at and so when everything hit, I was just like, I'm gonna go hang out my studio, cuz I love it there and it's amazing. But a lot of people, if you hadn't put that energy into your home, you're like, Oh, this is bad. I have to fix this.
I know, like, I think I always say that your surroundings are so important to your ability to succeed or your creativity or like whatever is coming out. I really do believe this, like if you're in a place that's uninspiring. Like it's really hard to like, get motivated to do anything. Oh, for sure. Yeah, a little random off topic. Anyway, let's get back to this methodology. What what are your what you mean about buy selling without shame? Tell me a little bit about that.
Yeah. So last year, I launched a course called Sell Without Shame. It was like I, for me, it was the thing I'm most proud of that I did in 2020. And what I was hearing over and over again, and this was not a problem that was specific to 2020. This is something that I've been teaching and working with the ideas for a long time. But what I would hear over and over again, from artists and makers and designers is like, I don't feel like I can promote my work right now I feel bad about promoting it with the state of the world. So whether it's, you know, people losing their jobs, or, you know, everything that was happening, like realizing that systemic racism is still a huge problem in this country, like all of those things, and our speakers my like, I don't think that I can promote my work. And I have this really firm belief that it goes back to what we were just talking about, about your space, impacting how you feel, I really believe that art and craft and design and all of those things have a huge impact on the world in in such positive ways and so when artists and makers don't promote their work, for me, that's a huge loss, right? because the world needs our work, we you know, whether it's earnings to make you happy, or stuff in your home that makes you feel that like the world needs our work. And so to say like, Oh, it's not that important, I can't promote it. Like that breaks my heart. And so what I've realized is that a lot of artists, designers, makers, we take pleasure in the process of creating our work, whether that's actually making it or whether it's the design phase, and you're handing it off, whatever it is, we take pleasure in that. And so we sort of see them the selling process as being very self indulgent, right? Like, who am I to expect someone to give me money for this thing that makes me so happy to do and so what I really encourage artists and makers to do, and what I do in Sell Without Shame, is I say, Okay, you know what, like, I get it, this is this is really important to you, but also it has value to the world. So we're going to take the time to discover what makes your work amazing to the end user, we're going to figure out what it is about your work, that's fantastic. We're not gonna we're not gonna worry about it solving a problem, I don't believe that all things have to solve a problem. Sometimes it's okay that it's just beautiful or funny or happy, or whatever it is. So we really, it's about figuring out the value of your work to the person who owns it, and uses it and experiences it and once you understand that, it's so much easier to step forward and say, Hey, buy this thing. Because now you understand that really does have value to the world.
Yeah, I mean, people need art, people need beauty. Oh, for sure. The thing that is, I mean, there are so many great nuggets in what you just said. But I also really believe like, in particular, like with jewelry, since we both are jewelry designers. It's like people like when people wear it. Like, there's feelings that come up, like maybe someone weren't like and they got the job, you know what I mean? Or it makes them feel sexier. It was like the thing with the earrings that they're wearing on the first date with their husband or something like that. There's so many reasons why the products are valuable. And I think bringing us back to 2020 people just wanted something else to think about what was going on in the world and so like anything that you can do to like bring a little bit of joy into your life.
And I also think too, you know, jewelry is the oldest art form, I'm assuming You saw the jewelry show that was at the Met in 2019. I went to it like five times and I didn't even live in New York. Because for me, it was so life affirming to see what we do, like, just presented in a way to understand like, this is really important. And so like jewelry is the oldest art form it predates, you know, it predates writing, it predates capitalism, like jewelry existed before, all this, like, BS that we're going through now. And it wouldn't have persisted this long. And throughout so many cultures in human history, if it didn't have really real powerful values for people.
Exactly. You mean a personal adornment is like part of our history, as you said, it's and it for a variety of different reasons. And it's important to remember that as you're putting yourself out there, yeah, what I was going to say to you is that one of our students, Karina, she was like, I don't know, like at the beginning of COVID, I don't want to I was about to launch this new collection, I don't want to put it out. And she decided to go with the messaging, like everyone needs a little bit of sunshine right now, you know, it's like, they don't want to be thinking about this other thing and she had one of the best years she's ever had online and replace all of her show income, which I think is really important. Which brings me in to this next question. perfect segue about online sales. So what are your three pillars of online sales?
Yeah. So I started looking at what actually drove my growth in online sales and I realized that there were three really important pieces and I think that for most artists, designers, makers, if you're struggling, you're missing at least one of these three. So the first one is EMAIL MARKETING, and really making sure that not just that you're collecting emails, but you are actually emailing your list on a consistent basis, and that the next one is CONSISTENT CONTENT CREATION. So consistent content creation does not mean trying to be like half assed on 6 million platforms, it actually means picking a platform, whatever platform and going all in on that particular platform. And then the last piece is OTHER PEOPLE'S AUDIENCES So you can email your list, and you can do all the right things on whatever platform you're choosing. But both of those things are a slog, unless other people are talking about and sharing your work. And so that's why leveraging other people's audiences is also really important.
Amazing. So let's, I don't want to break these down. So let's talk about the email list. or emailing your list. First, I think this is really important and something that everyone needs to remember, because I will tell you, when I ask any of our successful students at Flourish and Thrive Academy, what happened when they had record breaking sales in 2020? And they all say, I emailed way more than I felt comfortable with.
Yes. So what I recommend is that you email your list every week. Every week, at least Yeah, I tend to go with every week. Um, so and I'll kind of let people slide like every other but it's been more than like two weeks or less, hasn't heard me better send out an email immediately, like, pause this podcast, go, go write an email, it gets that important. But I think the other thing that keeps people from emailing their list that frequently is that they get stuck on this idea of newsletter, and in my world newsletter is a dirty word like I do not use it. I cringe when people say they know not to say that around me. Because we're not sending out these lengthy newsletters that are piled full of stuff like the email strategy that works the best for me and the people that I that I know that implemented is literally like, here's a beautiful image, here's a sentence or two about it. And here is where you go by it and that is it full stop and those kinds of emails are easier and faster to create, you can do that every week and they work better.
Oh, yeah. And with a really strong call to action, and not too much going on. Totally with you. And I know that people just I think the other thing, the other reason why they're worried about emailing so much is the unsubscribes I always tell people, like don't worry about that.
Yeah, turn off. If you're getting unsubscribed notifications into your inbox, turn those off, like do not look at them, it doesn't matter. People are going to unsubscribe that as part of the process. It's fine. Think about it like one you don't follow every brand forever to at some point, your email list is probably going to get to a point where if you're trying to actually run a successful business, your email list is gonna get to the point where you're paying for it right? You're going to have enough subscribers that you're paying for it. So if someone's not going to buy, you want them gone Anyway, you don't be paying for that dead weight. So and really the only metric people be like, Oh, I got this percentage of open right there, this percentage of click through I'm like, I don't care. The only metric that I pay attention to is how much money my emails make. And yes, I look at individual emails but I also look at the full trajectory of what it is. So not every email is going to make the same amount of money. That's fine. You know, when you launch new products, when you run sales, those tend to be bigger than the kind of in between touch base emails. But still, it's the sum total of, you know, how much money am I making for my list in a year? I'm always looking at those metrics.
Awesome. Okay, so now let's talk about consistent content strategy. This is important. So what's your philosophy on that?
Yeah, so two things. The first one is pick a platform. What I have discovered with pretty much all of the artists, makers, designers that I work with is that they try to like do a little bit on every platform, because they think that they should, and they end up not doing any platform well and the reality is that every platform has its own kind of content rules content game and so to try to like, do a little bit of everything, you end up not winning on any single one. That doesn't mean that you can't push content to other platforms. But I think the first thing is that you have to, you have to go hot and heavy and pick a platform. And then once you've picked a platform, then you have to play by the rules a little bit. So you have to understand, you know how much content that platform is looking for. And it's it's very different, right? So like, if you're going all in on YouTube, typically, it's like one video a week. But if you are going all in on Instagram, then you're like 1 to 3 posts a day plus stories. Now Instagram is like, if you're not playing with reels, we're gonna get mad at you. So you really have to think about like, what's your platform? and and what are the rules so that you can create content, that the platform is going to reward you for creating?
Awesome. So, you know, one of the things that people get hung up with is like, creating enough content, or they get overwhelmed by doing it every day. So do you have any tips on creating content without sacrificing quality?
Yeah, so first thing is like, quality is important, but actually, so is quantity. So don't get yourself too hung up on like, I have to create the perfect piece of content, because chances are like you don't, and one perfect piece of content is never going to get you as far as like consistently showing up on your platform. But the other thing for sure is like figure out ways to batch your content. So I'm a person, I'm not a big scheduling person, I actually like to like pin or post or whatever. I like to do it every day. But I definitely like to batch my content. So like I will do for instance, for my blog, I'll go and I'll do like a whole bunch of production typography or like, I use myself as a model a lot for my jewelry. So I'll go and I'll do a ton of photography, all in one day. Usually, it's when I wake up and I'm having a good hair day race, my good hair day, let's photograph a bunch of stuff. And then I will edit and drip it out over time. So that it's not like, cause I think that's the worst thing is when you wait to do the content creation, you're like, oh, shoot, I'm supposed to post on Instagram right now. Okay, let me drag out my camera or my phone and get the setup. Like No, do a whole bunch of content, and then post it over time.
Awesome. Alright, so let's talk about the third pillar. I love this one. I'm curious to know your your take on it, but leveraging other people's audiences.
Yeah. So when people hear leveraging other people's audiences, I think the first thing that they go to is like working with influencers. And depending on your personality, that's either like, oh, cool, that sounds fun. Or like, Oh my gosh, that sounds horrible. Like I work, I work with a lot of even like jewelry designers who are total introverts. And they're like, I don't want to like interact with fashion influencers. That sounds terrible. That is not necessarily what I'm talking about when I talk about other people's audiences. So what I mean is just literally any way that you can use someone else to connect your work with a broader audience. So selling to stores selling wholesale, that's leveraging other people's audiences, retail shows, or leveraging other people's audiences selling on other platforms, say like artful home or design melk. Those are leveraging other people's audiences. So if you are doing, you know, one of those strategies, and those things are working for you, then you may not need to dive into kind of other things. But then if you're not, then maybe you're looking into things like getting press, getting featured on blogs, yes, potentially working with influencers, maybe working with stylists, if you're, you know, for jewelry designers and that's something that I've leveraged like working with a woman who does personal styling and styling classes, who wears my work a lot. That's a way that I've reached other people's audiences and honestly, like, for me, even just, you know, giving my jewelry to my friends who are online entrepreneurs, and they wear it when they're speaking or teaching and people are like, oh, like some of you may know, Tara McClellan used to be charged until late Tara owns so much of my jewelry, and she used to wear it all the time when she was speaking when we could still go to speaking gigs and, and that right, there was a way to leverage other people's audiences, celebrity gifting, there are so many ways. And so I think it's really just a matter of figuring out what makes sense for your product, your personality, but you just you can't sit there and wait for people to find you because you use like 30 hashtags, hashtags on every Instagram post. You can't you got you got to get other people talking about you and your work.
And there's so many ways to do it too. And you know, we have this one strategy, which just like I don't, I don't explain it this way, but we basically have so much there. So much cohesion and what we teach. But like another way to leverage another person's audience is leveraging your friends and family and their friends and family. I mean, that's like super basic for people who are just starting out. And I know that even grassroots marketing and friends and family networking is like one of my favorite things. Because, you know, people are always talking to, oh, I want to get out of the friends and family zone. But if those people love what you do, they're going to be wearing your product all the time, especially if it's something that can physically put on like jewelry and they'll be talking about it all the time. And then that spikes curiosity and piques people's interest, and they go looking for you. And it's a great way to expand your network with like, real people instead of these people that instead of like big celebrities and stuff like that, I think sometimes these like grassroots kind of efforts are more impactful than getting your piece featured on a celebrity.
Oh, for sure. And actually, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear someone be like, Oh, I made a sale, but it doesn't count because it was to like a friend or it was like to someone I went to college with. And I was like, No, no, that 100% absolutely counts. Because in some ways, it's actually harder to sell to your friends and family. Because sometimes they think you should just give them your stuff, right and there are instances where I do for sure. But really like, just because someone has a close tie or or even like a weak tie, doesn't mean that their sale isn't valid. Those are the people that you should start with like my all time best jewelry customer online is a woman that I have actually known since she was born. She's like three years younger than me, our moms were best friends before we were born. Like I've known her her entire life almost my entire life, that does not make her money worth any less than someone I've never met before.
Exactly, exactly. Well, this is such a great conversation. Megan, thank you for coming on the show today.
Yeah, thank you for having me.
You have any final tips? Before we go? Yeah,
I want to just say that with all of these strategies, and really, with everything that we're talking about here, none of these are one and done. And I think that that's the biggest thing to remember is like, you can't be like, well, I emailed my list once and it didn't work or like I posted a video to YouTube and it didn't work or like I reached out to one stylist and it didn't work like all of these strategies require consistency, it's never going to be one thing that makes or breaks your business. It's always it's building these habits and doing these things over and over and over again and as you do these things over and over and over again, the momentum builds, like if you go to the artists, profit makers, Instagram, which is just at arts and profit makers, I actually illustrate these three pillars as a wheel, because that's what they do. Like they build momentum. And that's what moves your business forward.
I love it. And it's so great. Because I think at the end of the day, like sometimes you might spend all this time crafting the most amazing Instagram posts, and you're like, Why didn't anyone like that, but they end up liking the thing that I wouldn't even have expected them to like,
Exactly. So it's all about the consistency and the showing up over and over and over again. Even if even I would say especially if it feels uncomfortable. You just have to keep showing up.
All right, Megan, thanks for being here today.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for listening to the show. today. I want to remind you if you want to really get your sales, skyrocketing and taking off by a holiday season, head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/timelessbrand and watch one of the best master classes you're ever going to see about selling your jewelry. And this is perfect if you're in the startup phase in business, and you're trying to get your business kind of off the ground past that six figure annual revenue marker, how to stand out in a saturated market with a timeless jewelry brand. Head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/timelessbrand and watch it right away.
This link in all the other links that we spoke about in this episode will be over in the podcast show notes. So make sure that you check that out right away. And I just want to tell you, it's so fun because sometimes on the end the podcast will be like, find me on Instagram. I love connecting with you guys because I'm actually responding to all those comments and stuff in addition to help from the lovely Courtney on my team. So if you want to come say hi, I would love to hear what you're enjoying about the podcast. Come find me over @TracyMatthewsNY or over at @flourish_thrive and say hello and tell me which episode you've been enjoying the most. Thanks so much for listening today. This is Tracy Matthews signing off. Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. It's my mission to help thousands of creative businesses inside and outside the jewelry space use their creativity to make money. Make sure that you're subscribed to thrive by design on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are played. And we'd love to hear what you think. Please rate and review the show and if you're inspired, please share this with your friends. Cheers to seeing you flourish and thrive.