Maybe the only understanding of the niche is the title, such as crochet, watercoloring, ceramics.
They know they want to commit to something, and this is an option. It maybe a sideways step from something else, or a brand-new adventure. Either way you’re the one they’ve found to help them make a decision.
The beginner’s need for information will be equal whether you’re a teacher of throwing pots or an potter who wants to educate your customers about the varnishes you use on your hand-thrown espresso cups (so they don’t put them in the dishwasher!) You’re teaching the basics.
These novices can be guided from scratch and with your wealth of experience you’re the ideal person to pass on your enthusiasm. Building that kind of relationship with someone who’s found you in this early stage can become the foundation of a life-long journey.
You’ll hear, ‘I’m a beginner,’ declared proudly from the rooftops. Every coffee morning or book club meeting is filled with conversations like this in February. New Year’s Resolutions are done, but the brave few stand in their power as a new creative.
‘I’m watercoloring every Sunday afternoon with Skillshare classes, I painted a poppy last week!’
‘Oh, wow! Have you been painting long?’
‘Not long, I’m just a beginner. But I’m loving is so far.’
‘I’m designing our new look for the living room and have found an amazing set of cushions on Etsy that match the colour scheme perfectly!’
‘Do you design for others? I know I’d love to re-do our spare bedroom, it’s looking a bit lifeless.’
‘I’m just beginner really. I’ve been reading a blog by a textile artist, she’s got some amazing stuff about mixing colours and textures to create a cohesive look.’
These guys are the interns. Medical school is over, it’s time to play with the real doctors!
We’ve all been a beginner before.
Do you remember starting to walk?
But you were nurtured into the niche of walking. You were encouraged, you were given words of wisdom to get you further.
Even if you don’t remember it yourself, you will have experienced the emotions of it again and again. Maybe through younger siblings, your own children. You may even have been witness to it via the videos uploaded to Facebook by friends and family members, excited to share the first steps of their 11-month old adventurer.
The beginner’s mind is all about those first steps. Consider you have no answers and you have all the questions. You have every possibility open to you and you’re asking for help in putting those creative boundaries in place. (I mentioned the value of boundaries last week)
Where would you begin to imagine those possibilities and ask those questions?
We’ve already touched on jargon and how demo videos can be extremely useful in explaining that language. (see The How-To Condundrum)
I’ve done many videos explaining the language of knitting. I recognise that when I taught new knitters in-person the simplest steps seemed like a giant leap in understanding. And those became not just steps but hurdles. They were struggling to leap them because they were very often inhibited by the words.
Approaching words in a new context can be baffling, especially if they’re written in a book, or used by other artisans with such ease.
Just think back to when you first heard the words ‘clutch’ and ‘gear’. If you’re a driver you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. But I bet there was a point when you needed a more thorough explanation.
Take that confusion and overwhelm away by being the one who answers question newbies might be afraid to ask. I even went as far to explain in one of my YouTube videos that ‘knitting’ could be used in four contexts:
So don’t be afraid to take it right back to source and give the new recruits all the information they need to feel included and they’ll be willing to take more steps with you as the years go by.
Use dictionary definitions, go to wikipedia and pull out the handbooks you used when you were learning. They’ll all help you move into the beginner’s mind and impart the knowledge that will inform and inspire your audience.
Once your viewers know the jargon a bit better, the practical side of things feels easier. So they’re already one step towards success.
When it comes to beginner techniques we sometimes forget 3 months or 3 years later that those automatic steps were difficult.
You need to step back into the beginner’s mind when you’re in your flow of creativity and recognise the simplest steps that you just don’t think about anymore. That’s what your audience of beginners doesn’t know yet. And they’re eager to learn those steps, most probably because it’s the kind of thing they’d never ask through embarrassment or naivety. (there’s always the principle of ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ to consider too.)
Let’s take a look at some examples:
You see? Are you struggling to imagine that anyone would appreciate a video on these? Believe me they do appreciate it and videos like these are some of the most searched for and viewed.
A road map shows you the journey. The whole journey, not just one step.
Recognising where beginner’s are and how they feel is crucial to welcoming them into your world.
Show them the first steps to start with. And show them that the rest is possible. When I do videos I may only teach a very small step, but then I’ll show some items that I’ve knitted that use the specific technique so they can see the whole journey. I’m inspiring my audience into learning those small steps that create the whole.
This is especially important when you realise that even beginner’s first ambitions are small compared to the journey that might be undertaken over the following 10 years of their experience. I’ve shown how knitting simple beanies is a beginner’s ambition many times. But once that is achieved another possibility is awakened. Like a shawl inspired by Downton Abbey’s Mary, or a Weasley Christmas Jumper!
Everyone can remember a time when confusion took over and our inner critic decided that it’s our fault, we’re stupid, should never have started this in the first place, and that no one else would get this result so we might as well give up!
Perhaps you put bulbs in a flower bed but they never grew?
Did you bake a cake and no one wanted to eat it because it was soggy and flat?
Have you tried watercolour but the paper ended up all soggy and the images blurred together?
Once of my best ever YouTube videos answers a beginner’s question, Why Does My Knitting Curl At The Edges. It’s ranked either 1st, 2nd or 3rd for 9 search terms looking for the same solution and has had over 7.3K views.
Why has it done so well? One of the reasons is that it answers a specific pain point and goes into depth to explain reasons for the problem and solutions on how to solve it.
Let’s find some ideas for you:
Beginners and Interns are looking for answers and you’re in the perfect place to give them. Even if you feel only one step ahead on the creative journey, you’re still able to pass on your wisdom.
As a bonus, these are often going to be the kind of processes that you can guide anyone towards at the seasons of the year that are primed for learning. New Year will always be busy with beginners, along with September (we’re programmed in the northern hemisphere to start learning when schools go back after the summer!) and in the Spring, when creative energy is heightened.
Keep an eye out for next week’s blogpost, we’re going too look at the hidden beauty of creativity. Hope to see you there!
And if you’d like some support when brainstorming, come join me for a Blog-Busting Brainstorm. I have an uncanny knack for coming up with long lists of anything. We’ll meet for an hour and fill your content calendar for at least 6 months.