tag: savoir faire

Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

hello love birds!  first off, what do you think of the new shop help banner? i think it makes the etsy business page prettier, ha!  today’s post is going to be more about generating a discussion, rather than full of information.  it’s something i’ve been thinking about a lot lately: outgoing packages.

pretty package

{fabric thank you note}

i’m always trying to find new ways of sprucing up my outgoing packages. one of my favorite things about buying on etsy is to see how the seller dolled up my goods!  when it comes to shipping packages, there are a few things i feel are essential, and a few things i think can be optional- so today i want to hear what you think!  this post was inspired by an article i ran across recently over on smallerbox about the things your outgoing packages should always include.

smallerbox’s list of essentials:

 
 
1. branded invoice: don’t simply print a receipt from etsy or paypal.

2. return information: included on your invoice or elsewhere.

3. contact information: your website, email and, if possible, a customer service phone number.

4. swag: a little something extra that will surprise your customer.

what do you think?  her post received quite a few comments and a bit of controversy as well.  some thought invoices were a total waste of paper while others felt they were absolutely necessary.  i’ve never even thought of including an invoice (oops?) which is why this post interested me so much!

my list of essentials:

 
 
1. the cuteness factor: fluffy yarn, colorful tissue paper and maybe even a little japanese washi tape.

2. business cards (doi)

3. handwritten thank you note (admittedly i occasionally run out of time, which is why i’m working on my time management skills. so sorry if i missed this in your package!)

4. a discount coupon for a return visit. even though not many people have ‘cashed’ them in, i think it leaves them excited to visit again in the future.

now it’s your turn. what do you think about these essentials? what does your list include?

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Posted by in handmade, indie biz

etsy shop help

when it comes to selling online, i’ve made so many mistakes it’s a wonder i’m still afloat.  here are what i think my top ten have been and how i’ve learned from them.  i’ve also mingled in some dad’s day goodies- it seemed fitting since he’s always helped me learn from my mistakes!

Vintage Tennis Rackets

vintage tennis rackets

1. practice time management. sometimes i can be the ultimate procrastination station and it’s just not a good habit. running in an all out sprint to make it inside the post office door in time is just not professional (or fun).  my advice: schedule your days on paper and try your best to stick to it.

2. follow through. i’ve been called out before for not following through on something i promised.  people will hold you accountable and it’s embarrasing to be caught slacking off.  my advice: always be a person of integrity and own up if you end up not following through on a promise.

 Vintage Mounted Trophy Antlers

vintage mounted trophy antlers

3. be present. i once forgot to update my ‘vacation announcement’ and have even accidentally misplaced a convo before without answering it- never good! my advice: make communication and up to date announcments a priority.  getting to know your customers will always be beneficial (and fun!).

4. photos matter. i’ve said this before, but having great photos really is the most important factor for an online business.  i’ve certainly posted pics that i’m not proud of, and guess what? the items never sell! my advice: get a good camera and don’t rush through snapping pictures of your products.  if you need help editing, seek help!

Docking Station Steampunked Royal Typewriter with Speakers

docking station steampunked royal typewriter with speakers

5. pursue publicity. at first i assumed that press and publicity would just come knocking after i opened a shop- oops was i wrong!  my advice: you need to put yourself out there to get found.  contact bloggers for write ups and self promote your work via your blog, twitter, facebook or the like.

6. be truthful and complete. i’ve forgotten to add the sizes of a product or gotten questions to things that should have been obvious.  it’s never good when a customer is surprised at what they recieve or can’t find the answers they are looking for.  my advice: make sure you’re proud of everything you put your name on.  having complete, truthful and thoughtful listings will only improve your customer satisfaction and business reputation.

 Attache Case

attache case

7. research research research. i’ve certainly learned that researching how to do something before i get started is the ultimate way to success.  my advice: look at what other sellers are doing and notice what works and what doesn’t.  take note about what etsy prefers to feature and read all the material you can get your hands on (starting with the storque!)

8. relist, relist, relist. i boycotted the idea of relisting items for a long time.  after a bit of experimenting, it’s fair to say that i always sell more when i relist items on a daily basis.  my advice: relist 3-5 items every day when you’re just starting out (that’s $0.60 – $$1.00 a day) and count it as part of your marketing/start up costs.

Wood Parts Bin

wood parts bin

9. be original. there’s a big difference between getting inspired by something and straight up copying it.  i’ve struggled before with feeling original, because everywhere i look there seems to be another ‘me’.  my advice: learn how to tune out other ‘yous’ and try not to refer to other’s work when you sit down to sketch/write/brainstorm.

10. take a little, give a little. one of the best lessons i’ve learned is to always give back. my advice: don’t be afraid to ask for freebie advice or help, but always try to find a way to return the favor. i think this should be called ‘how to be a friend 101′.

so there you have it! my mistakes and how i’ve learned from them.  what are some of your most learned from mistakes?

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Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

hello love birds!  spring and summer craft shows are officially here, so today i’m telling you my top ten craft-show-booth tips!

{paperleaf at handm@de cambridge}

1. keep it simple and keep it lovely. a booth that is organized and easily navigatable will always be pleasing to your customers.  clutter will annoy some shoppers and may make others doubt your professionalism.

booth

{christmas bazaar}

2. make a list! it’s a good idea to write a checklist and stick to it!  make sure to read this fabulous checklist that jen from indie fixx wrote recently!

katie daisy's booth

{katie daisy’s booth at the big crafty}

3. keep business cards handy. having a great business card accessible and ready to hand out is a vital part of craft shows and networking.  i’m always surprised at how many people forget to bring them!  added bonus? make it memorable.  one idea i used once was to make an ‘i’ll be back card’. when a shopper left (w/out purchasing anything) and said, “i’ll be back”, i made sure to give them an ‘i’ll be back card’ promising them 10% off if they indeed returned!

{chomp and stomp}

4. tag your goods. check to make sure that each of your items are properly tagged.  it’s important to include all of you business info as well as the price.  having to search for answers to commonly asked questions (i.e. how much is this?) will discourage some shoppers to wait around for the answer.  it’s also important that the buyer knows how to find you when they get home with your product (or where to point their friends who love it so much)!

{market stall}

5. collect info. now is a perfect time to collect some info!  if you have a newsletter, make sure to have a form out so that people can add themselves if they like.  also, if someone has their own business or is there for press, you always want to make sure to gather info about them. learning about your shoppers, browsers or interested guests is an essential part of networking.  added bonus? send a little follow up thank-you to everyone you gathered business cards from!

{eyepopart booth photos 1}

6. plan your booth. plan ahead for your booth and consider setting up a mock trial before the big event.  having a theme to your setup will help you come off as polished and cohesive. it’s also a good idea to step back from your setup, and even take a picture of it to see it as other’s will.  working with different height levels and colors will help draw shopper’s eye to your booth.

{cozies}

7. go beyond the table. some of the best advice i’ve heard!  try to think outside of the box, or should i say table!  anytime you can incorporate a piece that will intrigue those walking by will help them notice you.  think fabric, unique displays, and furniture items- especially vintage finds that can help doll up your booth!

{rockton show2}

8. talk, talk, talk. ok, maybe not too much, but if someone shows interest, at least introduce yourself!  i’m always sad when i get to a booth and don’t get addressed.  if someone is looking around your booth, you can bet they would like to meet you and possibly find out a little more about what you do.  of course, some shoppers like to be left alone, so don’t forget to judge their character and let ‘em be if they like!

{paper pastries set up}

9. show yourself. make yourself shine through in your booth!  most businesses have an aesthetic that they like to portray, and what better place to show this than at your booth.  let yourself, your business, your shop and any website you have portray a cohesive look that shines through to your buyers.

{renegade booth stamp your own postcard}

10. stand out. don’t be afraid to be a little different in order to catch they eye of any passer by.  bright colors, fabulous signs, a giveaway or shopper involved activity will catch attention and help you stand out from the crowd.

speaking of craft shows, have you heard of the art start craft bazaar? this much anticipated yearly event is coming up this weekend!  it’s an outdoor retail art and craft show juried by philadelphia’s art star gallery and boutique.  over 100 local & national artists have been chosen to set up shop and sell!  if you’re in the area, it’s certainly a must-see.  it will be held on may 15th and 16th in philadelphia, pa at penn’s landing great plaza.  i wish i could be there in person, but i’ll be there in spirit (and product!) at hello bluebird’s booth.  if you attend, make sure to take lots of pics to share! ;)

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Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

sometimes, i take terrible photos (see below).  lucky for me {and you!} there are plenty of ways to aid our poor photography skills!  i switch between a few programs when editing photos and working on posts, but one of the easiest, not to mention free, programs i use is picnik.com and today i’m going to walk you through editing some photos..

picnik tutorial

terrible photo number one.  this is me, with my bird nest in full mode.  it’s hard to be your own photographer sometimes, but i set up my tripod and give it my best go.  first things first, go to picnik.com and upload your photo.

picnik.com screen capture 2010-4-28-11-48-28

for my picture, the first thing i want to do is cut out all the excess surroundings- i.e. crop the photo.  at the top of picnik’s header, go to edit then crop. crop according to the size you would like, then hit ok.

picnik tutorial

whew! that’s better.  now for my favorite feature on picnik- the exposure tab! click on over to exposure, and since many of us won’t always have perfect lighting, here’s is where you can compensate for it.  generally, all my pictures look a bit better when i slide the exposure up, then slide the contrast up until it’s looks good. you’ll have to play with this back and forth, but it can make all the difference in your photo.  here the exposure is set to 24 and the contrast is set to 23.  hit ok when you’re done.

picnik tutorial

now it’s time for another setting that many photos can benefit from- the colors tab. if you want to bump the saturation (i.e. enhance the colors) here’s where you do that.  it’s easy to go overboard here, so make sure you’re only enhance the colors to where it looks like it does in real life.  many times, the camera or lighting can drone out the colors, so my goal is to only enhance photos until they look like the original again.  here, i bumped the saturation up to 13.  temperature can compensate for different color casts your photo may have.  sliding to the right makes it warmer, and sliding to the left makes it cooler.

picnik tutorial

finally, you can play with your photo!  picnik has hundreds of frames, stickers, effects and text features that you can doll up your photo with. here, i’ll keep it simple and add the word ‘flowers’.  click over on the create tab, then click on text.  type your desired text in the box (top left) and hit add. then, it’s simple to pick the color via the box on the right, and choose your font from the options on the left.

picnik tutorial

here’s the before and after! how thankful i am for picnik!

picnik tutorial

you can do tons of other things with picnik as well, for example, make simple collages. head over to the collages tab and choose your layout from the options at the left.  you can also choose at the bottom, where you would like your photos from (i.e. your computer, photo bucket, picasa web albums etc.).

picnik tutorial

from the list at the bottom of your screen, simply drag and drop your photos into the desired spots.  you can also edit the spacing between your photos and what color you wouldlike that spacing.  here i’ve chosen 4 for the spacing and white for the color. after you’re happy with your collage, hit done.

picnik tutorial

then, you can add effects, borders, text and the like to your finished collage!  here, i added a simple border.  click on create then hit frames. i then clicked on border from the list on the left.  i chose the color yellow for the outer border and white for the inner.  you can also edit the spacing and caption height.

picnik tutorial

and voila! a simple collage that looks great and only took about 3 minutes!


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Posted by in handmade, indie biz

etsy shop help

while wholesaling your products may not be for everyone, when done correctly it can be a great benefit and wonderful experience.  today we’re going to talk about how to get you started wholesaling and some things you should consider before you do.

twitter birds decal

let’s first talk about why you might be interested in wholesaling, and the difference between that and consigning.  wholesaling your product means you fill medium to large sized orders for another company at a discounted rate and get paid up front.  consigning means you send items to a company/store and get paid only as they sell your item.  there are benefits and negatives to both but the main benefit to wholesaling is that you get paid up front which leaves out a lot of the guess work.

sweet cafe 5×5 print

now let’s talk about the 3 p’s: products, pricing and policies. first of all, it’s important to have a number of items that you can easily make multiples of.  you’ll most likely have to reproduce the items you wholesale time and time again, so make sure your materials and your processes and uphold that.  products that have mass appeal and aren’t season specific usually do the best.

easter egg lasso necklace

pricing: you’ll have to make sure that your retail prices are high enough to allow you to offer wholesale.  your wholesale cost should be discounted enough to allow your venue to make money as well as cover the costs of your materials and your time.  pricing your products will be the trickiest task.  as your prices need to remain in line with your competitors as well as make wholesaling worth your effort.  many sellers offer their products at 50% off their retail, but for handmade artists, that’s usually not feasible, especially since many of us don’t charge enough for our products in the first place. also remember, that the venue may be able up their retail price which may help both of you out.

pretty in pink -free shipping- 5×7 art

policies: it’s important to come up with a set of guidelines and policies for your wholesale accounts.  outline what you expect, your shipping policies (who pays for what) and who is responsible for damaged goods.  whether your items get lost in the mail or someone robs their shop and steals everything, it’s good to figure out who’s reliable for what from the beginning. also outline whether or not you’ll accept refunds and or exchanges and the timeline and conditions for both.

peekaboo by schmooks

putting together an order form and general wholesale packet for interested retailers is a great idea and will further your professionalism in the industry.  having an outline of what you offer and their prices that includes an easy to follow order form will help the experience run smoother.

mini cup turquoise/green

benefits of wholesale: though it may seem a bit crazy to offer large quantities of your products for less money, wholesaling definitely has it’s benefits.  first off, if you’re able to put the time in, it’s a great way to up your total sales amount and therefore, profit.  having a few continuous wholesale accounts can do wonders for keeping you afloat during hard times.  it’s also a great way to get your gain brand exposure and reach many more potential markets.  being in a cute little shop in a big city will allow a completely different set of consumers find you goods.

rowhouses – limited edition screen print

now that you know more about it, just how do you land a few wholesale accounts? often, by simply putting a statement in your shop welcome, profile and/or policies section of your shop stating that you accept wholesale orders will do the trick.  if you want to be a little more proactive, you can research a number of potential businesses and simply email them and ask!  having a professional packet of your wholesale info will be extremely beneficial.  also, try not to mass email, but rather make it personal and let them know that you’ve done your research.  along with your packet, include who you are, your credentials (homepage hits, blog features and etsy sales!) and some photos of your items, then the waiting game begins! (don’t you hate waiting on return e-mails?).

glass reflections – flowers in a bottle fine

as mentioned before, wholesaling isn’t for everyone.  it can be time consuming and may not work with your particular business, especially if you only offer one-of-a-kinds.  it can also be worth experimenting with, so everyone will have to feel it out for themselves.

pastel picture frame from barn wood

do you have any advice on wholesaling?  what’s been your experience?

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Posted by in handmade, indie biz

etsy shop help

have you joined an etsy team yet? joining an etsy team provides so many benefits and is a great way to become more active in the community.  it allows you to meet other etsyites, collaborate, and increase your opportunities to network and promote your shop.

large heart frame 3-d picture

by joining a team, you’ll be able to share your skills and expand your social circle.  you’ll be able to work together with other etsy sellers- and, the possibilities are endless when so many creative minds come together!

red heart cuff links

ok, so you might be interested, but how do you know which one to join? here’s a list of all of the active teams, and yes, there’s a bunch! so grab a cup of tea and enjoy browsing.  once you find a few you’re interestd in, you can check their team’s pages (usually off-etsy). some teams have open membership, and others have selection criteria or a juried process for admitting members.

hand cut red and white felt heart

many teams are very specific, so once you read through them you’ll most likely only have a few that spark your interest.  you can then click on the team and get info about requirements, how to join and what’s expected.  that will narrow your options down some more and when you’ve got a few that you’re really interested, you can contact the leader and see about joining.  there’s nothing wrong with shopping around for the right team!  you’ll need to find one that fits you, your goals, and your schedule.

red hearted felt box

there are over 150 etsy teams and etsians are forming new ones all the time.   if you can’t find a team that suits your needs, you can always start an etsy team yourself!  we won’t dive into that today, but here’s a great article if you’re interested in starting one.

red heart carnival tickets

some teams require more involement than others, so it’s important to look into what’s expected.  the key to benefiting from a team is being an active member, so when you decided to join, make sure you have the time to commit.  being active in a team will certainly pay off and can be a very fulfilling!

shining sparkly heart

etsy has so many great articles on teams, but here’s a quick list of helpful information for team newbies:

how to join an etsy team

all about esty faq series: getting to know the etsy teams

etsy team guides

etsy teams

etsy teams frequently asked questions

etsy team’s articles

list of teams

valentine’s hearts ipod case

are you a part of a team?  we would love to hear your experience and advice!

xoxo, bonnie

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Posted by in handmade, indie biz

etsy shop help

moo

the first time i was handed one of these adorable moo mini cards i was enamored. i was at a little handmade fair and the artist has always stuck in my mind.  they are not only of beautiful quality (the finish is satin smooth) but they are so much more chic than your standard business card.  they scream, ‘remember me and my oh so adorable business card’!

the haystack needle

the haystack needle

moo as bookmarks

moo offers mini cards, standard business cards, greeting cards, post cards and other accessories- and the best part? they are all affordable! (plus you can sometimes snag deals for etsy shop owner)  you can upload your own photos or artwork, use ‘ready made’ moo cards or mix and match designs from a number of moo artists- see below for some of my favorites artist picks.

moo mini bird gossip & ballentina

moo mini pattern 8 & owl

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