Tara Swiger on Craft Business and Goal Setting

tara-swigerTara Swiger is the author of Market Yourself, a system for creating a marketing plan for your craft business. She began her entrepreneurial journey as a yarn-maker, and quit her day job in 2009 to be a full-time maker. She has been writing and teaching about handmade business for over five years, via (free) weekly lessons, her weekly podcast, and in-person and online courses. Her superpower is translating complex business principles into the language of artists and makers and turning theory into doable action plans. Tara’s taught marketing and business growth to traditional artists in rural North Carolina with the nonprofit Handmade in America, to yarn shop owners at their trade show, to alpaca farmers at the Camelid Conference, to makers at Craftcation and School House Craft Con, along with four classes with CreativeLIVE.

At Midwest Craft Con, she’ll be teaching: Make a Marketing Plan, and Craft a Customer Path

Why do you do what you do?

I work with makers and artists on their business for a few reasons:

  • Watching women gain confidence and power in their own lives, their decisions, and their smarts is just THE BEST. As much as I love running my own business, I am OBSESSED with helping other women (and a few gents) build the lives they want, which often includes pursuing their art and craft with more commitment.
  • I LOVE talking business. Since my first job after college (managing a paint-your-own-pottery studio), I’ve been obsessed with small business — reading about it, talking about it, experimenting with it. I just can’t stop asking people questions about what’s working for them and digging into problem-solving what’s not.
  • On top of that, I’m smitten with finding the underlying systems between why things work and then spotting the patterns. Does X + Y always end up with Z? When I spot one of the systems and see the pattern, my first knee-jerk reaction is to start sharing it with people. I want to start teaching it, testing it, and helping others apply the pattern to their own challenge.
So the short answer is: I do do what I do because I can’t help it. (And I’m unspeakably grateful that I’ve been able to make a career out of it.)

What’s your earliest crafty memory?

My earliest memories are of painting, coloring, cooking or sewing with my Mom and Grams. Grams made bridesmaid dresses for a lot of the ladies at church, and I used her scraps to make (poorly constructed) clothes for my dollhouse dolls. Mom and I puffy-painted and bedazzled a LOT of hideous sweatshirts and jean jackets.

What advice would you go back and give your younger self? 

It’s all going to be fine. Don’t worry about wasting time or materials, or even money — it’s all going to teach you what you need to learn in order to make something awesome.

What’s your favorite craft/business book?

My favorite is usually whatever I’m reading right at the moment! But I found Boss of You at the moment I needed it and it shoved my business forward in a big way. I also talked about my favorite biz books and at what stage you need them in this podcast episode.

How did you get where you are today, in 10 words or less? 

Action in the face of self-doubt, commitment, consistency + experimentation.

What are your goals for 2016? 

I’m a believer in small, measurable goals, but my bigger-picture goals are:

  • Do the things I’m afraid of. In 2016 this includes teaching internationally and writing a second book (not to mention getting a publishing contract for that book!)
  • Consistently act in integrity with my intentions — i.e., do the stuff that is in alignment with the results I want, both for my own biz and for my students.

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