Thursday, 5 August 2010

On the Radio

Trade Secrets from working on the airwaves

I have always been fascinated by radio. When I was a teenager (add singsong 'so long ago...'), I wanted to be a radio presenter and DJ, putting on the coolest (vinyl!) records preferably late at night to an admiring audience. We had a huge old 1950s radio with big white keys, and I listened with fascination to the voices and songs that came out of it (and tried to guess the bleeped out bits...).

So, to fulfill a dream, last month, I did a Podcasting course with Trans. We learnt how to script and produce a 6 minute Podcast, using a digital recorder, sound editing software and our interview skills. Yes, interview skills! When I heard that we had to go out and interview bands and random audience members of an electronic music event, I wanted to roll up into a fetal position and mutter:

'No, not me, not me!'

I was terrified!

You are by now wondering what this is all about, and what does this have to do with Trade Secrets and selling on Etsy. Well, we are coming to that in a moment.

To make a good Podcast, you have to think about what you want to have in it. Sounds easy enough, but when it comes to interviewing people, you have to think about the questions that will give you a good response, a fluent and chatty response, and not just a 'yes' or 'no' answer, which doesn't sound good on a Podcast.

And now we are coming to the selling bit. As I said before, I can't even sell a date with George Clooney, but being out and about with the microphone certainly gave me some valuable insights into my own selling attitude.

The first time I went out to sell my products at a market stall, I really didn't have much of a plan. I am not a planner, but there are things you can watch out for. And one of the things that can make a difference is...your voice.

I know what I am like when somebody asks me about the price of one of my products. Nervous, quick, one sentence answer and an apologetic voice. When you sound like this on a recorded interview, you realise that it is really not particular useful. I got the impression the tone of my voice nearly invited a 'no, don't want to do an interview with you' response, or in terms of selling 'no, don't want to buy from you'.

Listening to my own voice recording for the first time was horrible. This person with the timid 'little voice' who muttered and skipped ends of words was really me! I was stunned. The next reaction was:

This looks like a good hiding place!

I was desperately looking for a mouse hole to crawl into when my voice continued to boom through the classroom. It sounded worse in comparison to the recording of one of my classmates, who has a phantastic radio voice. After the 'I am so awful' feeling passed (and I crawled out of the proverbial mousehole), I was paying attention to what he was doing right. He spoke
  • clear
  • confident
  • not too fast
  • and his voice didn't lose its own individuality
Your voice really does tell a lot about yourself, and when you sound nervous and timid, it doesn't create much confidence in you - when you sell and sound as if you don't want to be there, people might think your products are not good. You don't get a positive reaction. And a positive reaction is what you want, both in Podcasting and in selling. So I will definitely pay some attention to how I speak, because unlike in Podcasting, you cannot cut out the 'erms' and 'ehs' or the embarassed mutterings when you talk 'live' to somebody.

Also planning really does help. If you think beforehand about what you are saying, what you are asking, and how you came across, you have the information ready in your head about what is great (and useful) about your product. This helps to put the nervousness aside that blinds you to looking or listening to the reactions of the person in front of you. Like in an interview, where you have to ask more questions if you want to find out more, in selling you need to ask what the customer is actually looking for. Maybe you've got something for them, but if you don't ask, you won't find out. So thinking through what you you want to say and what the customer could ask about your products is a good way to be helpful to potential customers. And it also helps you to be more confident, because you are not put on the spot and start to panic!

I learnt lots more in the Podcasting class, also that I was really no longer young and hip (as I had flattered myself), because teachers and classmates were years younger, and THEY knew all the new and upcoming bands. But I was learning...and I am now happily old and hip!

I also realised that I had established a huge comfort zone which was very comfortable, but it was even better to break out of it! In fact, when I listened to the final Podcast, I was feeling rather proud! So, there might be an Etsy Ireland Podcast in the making, once I can afford a digital recorder!

And then something else happened...

Last week, Alyson McElroy Jones from the Fashion Souk asked me on her Saturday Morning Show on Feile Radio (a local radio station here in Belfast) to speak about knitting and selling handmade products. If I hadn't done the Podcasting class, I would have been in a total state of panic! But having been an interviewer, I knew how difficult it can be to get a good interview, so I thought I better contribute to it being good and think about what information I wanted to convey. OK, I didn't plan it that much, but at least I brought a list of my shop links, Twitter links and the Etsy Ireland Blog link with me. I still managed to get my own shop wrong though, but I think I gave a good plug for the team and the handmade sector nevertheless! I had an absolute ball and just loved being in a radio station. So maybe that Radio DJ is still in there, screaming to come out?

(The beautiful fluffy cat on the photos is called Teddy - also known as 'Big Teds', 'Leave the Birds Alone Teddy' and 'You know not to annoy the magpies Teddy'. He belongs to one of our neighbours and loves our garden.)


  1. Very interesting post Purls.

    I have a background in tour guiding and I have also taught English, so I'm no stranger to speaking in public, yet I still found it hard to get a conversation going my first two, recent markets. I totally dried up. Some great advice there.

    And well done you!!!

    And hey - I'd buy a date with George Clooney off ya!

  2. Thanks :)

    I'll come back to you if George calls...

  3. Excellent Post and congrats on the radio interview!

    Emmm about the George Clooney thing..... :)

  4. OOops signed in by wrong account
    that last comment is me
    Ellen :)

  5. Nice one Purls! delighted to hear you sneaked in a mention for the team blog! woohoo you! ;D

  6. YOu might have to auction that date with Clooney!

  7. Great idea, Anne-Marie :)

    George, can you hear me...?

  8. Do you have any dates with James McEvoy going? This could be a new business for you Purls!!

  9. I'd love to! If only the men in question would sing up to my service ;)