Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had a backup plan for your life? I have! I like to set big goals for myself but I’m also always thinking about the backup plan. This probably goes against what a lot of business owners teach but I like having a backup plan. It helps me manage my expectations if my plans don’t work out exactly as I imagined.
Hannah Braniff, of Hannah Handmakes, also had a backup plan. She started out selling physical products then added some digital products, including an online class on how to cross-stitch. But she had a backup plan in case she couldn’t grow her business into a consistent income. She planned to go back to school, finish her degree, and get a “normal job.” Last fall she enrolled in school part-time, with plans to go back full-time this fall when her kids started school.
Well, guess what! She doesn’t need that backup plan anymore because her business has been growing so well recently after joining the Facebook Ads Intensive!
You may be feeling the same way Hannah was. You may be wondering how much longer you can keep working so hard without seeing a paycheck and without seeing good results from all that hard work. Stick around to find out more about Hannah’s story.
Press play on the podcast player below to listen to the full interview.
How Hannah Handmakes Started
Hannah started selling completed cross-stitch items shortly after having her first baby and moving to a new city with her military husband. She quickly realized that this wasn’t sustainable because cross-stitch projects are time-consuming and she could only finish about one per month. She started also selling cross-stitch kits and soon people were asking her for videos teaching how to get started. As a response to those requests, she started a blog and eventually added the course.
Initially, Hannah sold her projects and kits through a Facebook page then gradually moved to other online platforms – Etsy and Not On the High Street (a site similar to Etsy that is very popular in the UK, where Hannah lives).
At Christmastime in 2018, she was asked to present in an in-person workshop as part of an Etsy pop-up holiday market that she was selling at.
“They asked me to do a workshop along with it. And like one person turned up. So that was the first and last time I've ever done an in-person workshop. Later I was talking to a friend who asked ‘why don't you do a course?’ but I didn't really know what online courses were then.”
The seeds had been planted though and not long after, she heard about someone that offered an online knitting course, which set the wheels in motion for Hannah. She began to research and found a course about the Teachable platform. The next step was to film all the video tutorials for the lessons.
Room to Grow
The lack of sales consistency in her business made Hannah feel that if things didn’t improve, she was going to go back to school and get a job instead.
“I've got to see a little more progress to feel like I'm going to keep doing this. It was the consistency for me, you know, some months did really well with business but then sometimes, especially on digital, it'd be like zero. I was sick of the up, down, up, down. It was kind of like the last chance.”
Her initial course launch went well but Hannah had followed some bad advice about selling her course with a set open and close date. She closed enrollment for her class which left her with no digital income during a period with low sales of her physical kits. Last September, she started school part-time to study business.
“My youngest starts school this year in September. Hopefully, she starts full time and I thought to myself, if I'm not consistent by September 2020, then I'm going to just keep the blog as a hobby, but go and find a normal job. My sister convinced me to start part-time last September rather than waiting.”
Hannah says “I think looking back now, part of the reason I probably went back to school was also for the validation side of it as well. It sounds awful but when you work from home, no one really knows what I do every day all day and I wasn't really making a full-time income even though it felt like it was working full time all the time.”
The Secret to Growing Your Online Business Is To Focus On One Strategy at a Time
Hannah felt frustrated by the different, and often conflicting, advice given by various experts but once she joined the Ads Intensive, she put on her blinders to focus on just one thing.
“I was following the wrong models before and before joining this Intensive I was listening to so many different people doing different things. And once I joined the Intensive I stopped listening to business podcasts completely. I stopped opening emails. And I just really went all-in on what you teach and followed everything that you said. I did it all. And it just completely changed everything.”
Hannah brings up a really good point here. I see this a lot and I was the same way early in my online business, listening to a ton of different voices. We’re excited and just want to pick up every possible nugget and strategy that we can. We don’t realize that by not going all-in on any one growth strategy, we’re just overwhelmed and not getting great results. There are tons of ways to grow an online business but one of the trickiest parts is truly just picking a strategy that works well for you, for your business, for your personality type, for your values- all those kinds of things. And then you have to shut everything else out.
One of the things that drew Hannah to the Facebook Ads Intensive is the fact that we teach ads for both digital and physical products.
“I love how you do both sides. I don't know anyone else who teaches ads for both physical and digital products. I think that's pretty unique. And obviously, it really appealed to me because I do have both sides.”
Profitable Facebook Ads Require Work
I want people to know that it can take a while for your ads to work. My students don’t come into week one and suddenly start making all kinds of money. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. For some students, it takes a lot of tweaking and testing different offers to find what works best.
Having a good sales page in place before starting ads is very important and often overlooked. We all want to spend our time playing with audiences and tweaking ad copy but even just a 1% improvement in sales page conversion can make a big difference to the bottom line.
Facebook Ads Intensive Can Increase Organic Sales Too!
Hannah, like a lot of students in the intensive, found that the work she put in on improving her website, sales page, and funnels, led to an increase in organic sales too.
“I think my organic sales have been like the big game-changer for me, actually.”
Beyond the sales that she has been making, Hannah has also been increasing the number of people she is adding to her email list which grows her audience for future offerings.
She says, “I've got an extra 3,200 people on my email list since we started, from organic and ads. I've even got like 110 leads in one day. That's crazy for me!”
Hannah’s sales from ads have started slow but combining her improved organic sales with those additional targeted leads she has added to her email list is helping her to build momentum going forward.
Don’t be afraid to invest in tools that will help your business.
Hannah admits, “When we started I wasn't using LeadPages. I was like, I can't afford LeadPages so I created all the pages on WordPress but after a couple of weeks I decided to start all over and use LeadPages and it is so much easier to use and quicker to set sales pages up.
“I also moved from MailChimp to ConvertKit during the Intensive as well.”
These pricier tools feel expensive at first and it does take a commitment of knowing that you’re in this for the long-term. But once you’ve invested, they are a small expense compared to the sales that you’re bringing in.
A three-tiered offer can be a game-changer!
Three-tiered offers are amazing for showing your audience what a great value they are getting when they purchase your product. In a three-tiered offer, when you show a comparison of the different levels, you're able to charge more for a product or a course than you can when it is a standalone tripwire offer.
“I do give quite a big discount but the reason I do that is because the course is the main product, and that's $37 on its own and I’m selling it in a bundle for $47. I’m also getting more sales and income from ebooks that don't sell well as standalone products, because I usually give quite a few patterns away in my emails and in the course. Since not many people buy a lot of patterns from me anyway, I don't mind doing that big discount because I’m making more overall,” Hannah says.
Knowing your intended audience is also important.
“I really focus on beginners to cross-stitch but I think people were signing up for my previous offer who weren't beginners. They just wanted maybe some extra tips or a free pattern. So when they got the course that was included in the single offer, they were like, ‘I don't need a course I can already cross-stitch.’ So when I get people in now, I can sort them. If they're not a beginner, they can opt for something of value with all those patterns. And if they’re a beginner, they see the course straight away as well, and choose that option.”
Additionally, adding the course into a three-tiered offer rather than selling it as a stand-alone product really allows your customers to see the value and the great savings in the offer.
Hannah agrees. “That higher tier is the one that's selling the most. I wasn't selling the course on its own but now it sells.”
Growing a customer list to grow your business
Physical businesses will sometimes offer a free trial of a membership or a steep discount on a spa treatment, for example, as a way to get you in the door. These tiered offers and steep limited-time discounts are similar. It’s the same principle, just packaged up slightly differently. We advertise to our warm audience but to grow the business, we need to reach that ice-cold traffic and entice them with a super juicy offer. This irresistible offer gets them in the door and then you have a new, happy customer that will purchase again in the future.
Getting the Right Customers On Your List
Hannah does stitch-alongs several times a year which include a digital pattern. Having customers on her list who purchased digital patterns already makes the transition even easier.
“When people are coming in and they're getting those ebooks or whichever option they choose, they know how to use the Teachable platform which really, I think is going to help me when my new launch comes for the next stitch-along.”
Hannah says, “I'm really excited for that launch of my Christmas stitch-along actually. I'm so excited to see how it goes this year because for my Christmas stitch-along last year, I think I had 2,500 people on my email list which generated a £3,000 launch. So this year, I've got 6,300 email subscribers and hopefully will add even more by August when it launches.”
Do you already love to cross-stitch or want to learn how?
Find Hannah online!
Helpful videos on YouTube