I’m addicted to consuming. In between checking my email and Twitter, I’m reading one of the kajillion blogs in my always-open Google Reader tab. Inside that kajillion, there is a small, select group of blogs that truly light my fire. I read every word of them. When Google tells me there’s a new post, suddenly the most important to-do of my day is to read that post.
IttyBiz is one of that select group. And today’s post, What do YOU do? The un-meme redux, gave some homework, which I’m going to do right here and right now.
(I don’t always do the homework Naomi gives her readers. See “addicted to consuming” above — most of the time I’d rather go read something else than sit down and take action on something I just read. But this particular un-meme just happens to dovetail perfectly with questions I’ve been asking myself about my own business lately, plus I’ve set a goal of posting more frequently, so here goes.)
Here are the questions Naomi posed, and my answers (keep in mind that all these answers are versions of works-in-progress, which is just how it should be).
What’s your game? What do you do?
I build websites and invent recipes for using them. I snap together all the behind-the-scenes technical bits like PayPal buttons, newsletter subscription forms, widgets, themes, and other stuff that makes normal people’s eyes glaze over. I make web technology work.
Also, I like to answer questions and share what I know…but more importantly, I want to spread the idea that regular people can bring their normal resourcefulness to bear when it comes to web technology. I don’t want my people to be dependent on me and my mad skillz. I want to teach myself out of a job, over and over again.
The way I do this is by teaching teleclasses (also webinars). Something about the conference-call format is perfect for me, and it allows even really shy people to listen and learn.
Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?
Here’s what I love the most. There’s a specific moment when one of my people Gets It. Let’s say you call me during Open Office Hour to ask me a question, or join me for WordPress Swimming Lessons, and I explain something to you. And the light dawns: You realize that you Get It.
It can be something huge like “I really can run an online business!” or it can be something comparatively small, like “Oh, hey, now I understand how to add a link to a blog post!” The point is, you came in not knowing how to do something, maybe even not believing you’d ever know how. And yet you learned how. Not (entirely) because I’m such a genius teacher, but because you were willing to learn. Technology is just a thing you can learn, like anything else.
And apparently I have a creepy knack for leading friendly and intelligent teleclasses. I’m actually energized by teaching over the phone, which is weird because I’m an off-the-charts introvert who normally hates making phone calls.
Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?
The kind of person who cares a lot and wants to make a difference…people who have a capital-M Mission. Maybe it’s a second career, maybe it’s just making a few hundred bucks on the side, maybe it’s knitting and selling beautiful penwipers because the world needs more hand-knitted office supplies.
These people are naturally curious and resourceful, and they just happen to be temporarily stuck and overwhelmed by technological questions. They have a DIY mindset but they’re not sure how to apply that to the confusing world of websites and shopping carts. They need some handholding, some encouragement, and some practical steps. And they’ll take it from there, thanks.
What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?
Well, you, Naomi, specifically, should probably not buy from me (you’ve got ninjas to handle all the tech stuff for you anyway).
But for those who don’t have your own personal ninjas, here’s the scoop:
- I talk (and try to write) in plain English. I won’t talk down to you. I believe you are smart enough to learn what I teach.
- I can tell you exactly which tech ingredients you need. So even if you start with a broad goal like “I need a website so I can sell my penwipers,” I know the questions to ask you so I can figure out whether you need a shopping cart, how you’re going to follow up with customers, and so on. Which means that I won’t try to sell you a bunch of fancy technological tools you don’t need.
- I want to teach myself out of a job. I’m like training wheels for your website. At some point you’ll be riding all by yourself and I’ll wave and cheer as you disappear down the block.
What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?
Up until now, the bread-and-butter of my business has been installing WordPress. And the truth is, one-on-one services like that don’t scale.
So I’m going to be teaching more classes and doing less actual tech tweaking in the future. I’ve already decided that WordPress Swimming Lessons will be a quarterly event, at least for the next year. I’m doing lots of guest- and co-teaching with awesome peeps (stay tuned to this blog for details!). And I’m thinking up crazy new class ideas all the time.
I also just released my first product, a home-study version of a class I co-taught with the fabulous Shannon Wilkinson. We taught people how to get started with AWeber, and turned it into an audio-and-PDF do-it-yourself course called Love Your List.
I want to create more products, and I’m figuring out creative ways to do that because for me, the energy is all about the live class. Doing post-production work is very draining, so I get very very very stuck there (note to self: Hire some ninjas).
And that’s what I do. At least for now.
How about you?