tag: shop help

Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

sometimes, being a craftster can can mean being lonely.  many of us work out of our home and sell solely online, so it can be hard to even see the light of day!  often times family members or other professionals simply don’t understand crafting, let alone leaving the workforce to pursue it full time.  the good news is, there are many of us who do understand!  with craft communities and forums popping up all over the place, it’s easy to find like-minded supportive people, doing the same thing you are.  today, i’m going to share some of my favorites with you!

craft community

the first craft mafia was founded by 9 crafty gals in austin, tx.  now there are groups located in over 30 cities and new ones being started all the time!  craft mafia is a community of indie biz owners in the handmade market out to serve other entrepreneurs by meeting together and empowering each other’s craft.  they offer resources and advice through their website and even give you the opportunity to start your very own craft mafia in your town!

craft community

craft sanity is a unique blog and podcast site for the craft community where you can tune in to hear your favorite artists interviewed and latest books reviewed.  the site is dedicated to all the crafty souls out there, so you’re sure to  feel right at home!

craft community

crafster is a nationally renowned online community where people can share hip diy projects and get involved with the crafting movement.  it’s the largest online community indie crafts and is regarded by many as one of the cornerstones of the recent renaissance in crafting known as the “indie craft movement.”

craft community

get crafty is an online forum where you can create an account, post pics, share your blog and discuss topics with other crafsters in a forum setting.  with plenty of articles on projects, a diy guide and stories from around the community- you’ll be busy for hours!

craft community

supernaturale is an indie site dedicated to the diy culture in all its glorious forms. from simple afternoon home improvement projects to radical lifestyle choices- everyone is welcome.  they celebrate ingenuity, creativity and the handmade and with an online magazine, a bbs and group blog called glimmer, they’re a bursting community ready for you to join!

craft community

the switchboards is a place for indie business women to get together and talk ‘shop’ in a creative, supportive atmosphere.  founded in 2004, they’ve done a lot to publicize creative women in business through using forums, product displays, mutual link sharing and joint advertising.

craft community

whip up is a community of artists, crafsters and makers who share ideas in a central space. it’s about experimentation, innovation, self expression and the sharing of information and ideas.  take time to create and let them support you in moving life into the slow lane to better enjoy the experience of it.

craft community

cafe handmade is where the craft community can come together, discuss topics, share their blog, shop, join groups and even attend a virtual craft show! with tons going on and lots of ways to get plugged in, you’ll find a spot for you in no time.

what are your favorite ways to get involved?

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streamlining production

July 21, 2010

Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

now that your craft room is organized and your creativity is nourished, let’s talk about some tips on how to streamline your production and be most effective at your craft!

stream line your handmade production

vintage samsonite suitcase

sometimes i find myself walking from one end of the room to another to gather different supplies, not being able to find something, or just taking a haphazard approach to my craft production.  instead, i want to try to envision my process as a big production factory and figure out which things they would streamline.  would they cut out all the appliques in one sitting? outsource an item that would save me money?  hire extra hands?

stream line your handmade  production

4 corning pyrex cups

first, figure out your craft from the inside out.  the first time i make something, it usually takes me forever and i make numerous mistakes.  but, by the 10th one i’ve made, i’ve usually figured out better approaches to take, how to save on materials, and in what order i should do the steps.  it’s not until you really learn your craft that you’ll be able to start streamlining it.

stream line your handmade production

fabric moth ornaments

crafting in batches. if you’re making one item at a time, break it down to see what the quickest method to make it will be.  can you do 3 steps in one area of your room before you move to the next?  if you’re making 10 (or 100) at a time, it will most likely save you time to set up a production line and work on all 10 items at once.

stream line your handmade production

club chair

time yourself. grab a clock and time the different approaches you take to production over the next week or so.  which method saved you the most time?

stream line your handmade production

mason jar votive

organize, organize, organize! think through your materials and supplies and keep them in sequential steps throughout your room, or have them all conveniently located in one place.

stream line your handmade production

bubbly basil wobbly bowls

get help. do you find yourself using most of your time printing postage and packaging goods? cleaning your room?  consider hiring help for tasks that take away from your production (and creativity).  here’s a great article by megan aumen on how hiring can boost your sales.

stream line your handmade production

a  day at the museum

minimize. are you making every part of your product, when in fact you could outsource some parts to save yourself time and money?  even something as simple as business cards are worth consideration for outsourcing if handcrafting them is taking up too much of your time.

stream line your handmade production

box-0-trix

set goals. once you’ve determined your most efficient production method, set quotas for yourself.  it will help you stay on task, focused and extra-efficient.

how do you remain most efficient?

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Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

do you ever feel like you just need your own personal squad of cheerleaders to keep you motivated?  there are so many ways that owning a small business can chip away at your motivation, and that’s often what you need the most of!  whether it’s from boredom, busyness, or stress from trying to break even- we’ll talk about some motivation boosters today.

bee hive print

try to limit your time-wasters. in particular, time spent on the computer.  it’s amazing how i can sit down at my mac and not really even know what i did when my consciousness returns 3 hours later!  with everything that can ‘suck you in’ it’s important to set some boundaries for yourself.  between computers, ipods, phones, emails, convos, twitter, facebook, formspring, & flickr, there are many reasons to step. away. from. the. computer.  else, you may find yourself there all day, then stressed and unmotivated when it comes time to work.

harris tweed yellow harris no more

try something new. when you make the same things over and over again, it’s really easy to feel like you’re in a rut.  work on some new designs or try learning a new technique.  maybe take a break from your workspace and online shop to do a local craft show or trade event.  whatever it is, try to break your habits and spice things up again!  when there’s something new to look forward to, your motivation will surely begin to bounce back.

yellow warblers watercolor painting

make your space inspiring. one of the quickest ways (i’ve learned) to kill my motivation is to have a messy workspace.  sometimes i try to work through the clutter, but it never fails to effect my inspiration, and nag on my motivation. surround yourself with things that make you happy like flowers, artwork or pictures and reflect on them when you’re feeling a little bogged down.  it’s also helpful to just take a break and change the mood.  go for a walk, open the windows, fix some lemonade, or anything that will help rejuvenate your spirits.

the bluemoon. flying earth headband

slow down. sometimes motivation can lack because you’re not selling enough, other times it can be because you’re selling too much.  if you’re the latter, don’t forget that you’re a one woman (or man) show!  try to slow down or find some help.  if you’re flat out selling to much to keep up with, and you can’t make-one-more-(fill in the blank), you’ve got to find a way to take it down a notch.  hire a nanny, or someone to help you with shipping.  raise your prices, don’t relist as much or just close your etsy shop for a few days until you can regroup and pick yourself up again.

those are all things that i’ve done to help boost my motivation.  what do you find works best for you?

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etsy shop help

excellent customer service is the number one way to ensure happy customers, repeat business and a profitable business.  as small business owners, we’re lucky to be able to make all the customer service decisions ourselves! it’s solely up to us how we want to deal with certain situations and what kind of relationships we want to build with our clients.  how lucky we are!  today, i’ll share my 5 suggestions on how to be a customer service whiz.

dreaming

1. think like the customer. reflect on you own buying experiences.  what made them wonderful, or maybe less than desirable?  after you’ve decided what other businesses have done that make you feel really happy and satisfied (or the opposite), visit your shop like a customer.  can you switch the roleplay?  how does browsing your shop make you feel?  do you feel welcome, at ease, and satisfied with the information provided?  if not, make sure to edit the necessary areas.

forest.

2. provide thorough information. your shop welcome, item descriptions and policies page are the perfect place to provide your shoppers with all relevant info.  make sure to outline exactly what the customer can expect in the policies section (shipping info, payment methods accepted, return policy etc.).  in your item descriptions, give them more info than the bare minimum. things you can add to the essentials (i.e. dimensions, weight etc) are the feel of it, the texture, what inspired you and ideas of how they might use the item.  get creative and make sure that the shopper has fun reading your descriptions.  the best rule of thumb, is try to answer as many potential questions as you can, right in your shop.

BIG SMOKE

3. go the extra mile.  adding little ‘extras’ to your buyer’s shopping experience goes further than you might expect.  treat them with special care and show them that you’ve thought things through.  special packaging will let them know you took the extra time to make their ‘opening’ experience special, and adding a little freebie and thank you note will send them over the top.  if you make shopping with your business fun, you can bet they’ll spread the word, and likely be back!

grunge typewriter

4. communication. having a conversation with each buyer will help their shopping experience become personable.  be prompt in replying to convos and help each customer feel like you have all the time in the world to dedicate to them.  make sure to send an immediate thank you for items purchased and include all relevant info, especially the estimated ship date.  checking in with them after they should have recieved the item will let them know that you truly care and that you’re there for them.  also, be careful to maintain an upbeat, friendly tone no matter what you’re discussing with your buyer, it will make all the difference!

the playing bird original drawing

5. learn to appreciate a complaint. occasionally, you may get a complaint or two.  now’s your opportunity to really excel at providing excellent customer service!  remember, to always use positive language and go the extra mile to ensure they have a happy experience.  you may end up losing a buck or two or maybe the entire sale, but statistics show a dissatisfied consumer will share their lament with 8-10 people and some will push that number to twenty.  the good news is 8 out of 10 customers will shop again with a business if their complaint is resolved in their favor relatively quickly (stats from how stuff works).  to me, that’s worth considering doing everything you can to send them away with a positive experience.  after it’s resolved, take what you can from the complaint as a positive learning experience, and move on!

do you have any customer service tips?  share in the comment section!


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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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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

we’ve talked about twitter for newbies before, but today i’d like to discuss the benefits of twitter for a little more experienced user.  twitter has always been kind of funny to me, and i’m still figuring out how to best use it.  so learn with me, won’t you?

metal drawers

there are many ways you can use twitter to help drive traffic to you business or blog.  this problogger article outlines the top ten ways, and i’m going to touch on the ones i think are most important.

#1: personalize your twitter page. before you start building relationships on twitter, it’s important to brand yourself.  fill out your profile bio and give your potential followers an insight into who you are and what you do.  then, update your profile picture with either your logo or self portrait.  either way, you want your picture to look inviting, professional and clear.  lastly, change your twitter background to something that suits your business or blog.  there are many ‘default’ backgrounds you can use, but choosing something a bit more personal is a great way to connect even further with your readers.  think photographs, collages, or matching backgrounds to your existing site will get your followers intrigued.

sailboats

#2: get engaged and hang in there. just because you open an account, doesn’t mean the masses will come knocking.  it’s important to show up, be consistent and engage with others using twitter.  twitter is a tiny bit like a blog, you’ll have to consistently use it (at least once a day) and hang in there for at least a few months before you begin seeing the advantages it has to offer.  for a while, you may feel that you’re speaking to no one, but hang in there.  tweet sincerely, and you’ll begin to gain the trust of your followers.  rather than push people to always support you and click over to your blog, provide advice, ask questions, and treat the masses as if they were your buddies.

vintage 1960′s golden clock book

#3: build relationships. it’s not only important to gain followers, but it’s equally important to follow others in your industry and connect to them via twitter.  you can start building useful and meaningful relationships with others, and it’s an easy way to connect to people you might otherwise never have.  i ran across this handy jpg from jessica hische the other day, and it cleared up so much about how exactly twitter works! you can click here for the full size image which is much more legible.

#4: provide useful information. many business owners use twitter to only push links to their own shops/sites/blogs.  not only can it be a tad annoying, but it doesn’t really do much for your gaining followers.  your self-promoting posts should be intertwined with other relevant info. shops you find that you love, discounts and sales you find, helpful articles, etc.  posts that are resourceful always get retweeted the most.

rainbow easter eggs- felted

#5: engage by using pictures. i don’t know about you, but when other’s tweet pictures, they are always my favorite!  by using twitpic, it’s simple to post pictures from your computer, the web or your cell phone straight to twitter, and it goes a long way to engage your readers.

7 rainbow natural seed pods

this article from crafting an mba discusses the difference between using twitter for broadcasting vs. conversational reasons.  i love the article, because it’s something i’ve struggled with for a while.  i tend to use my twitter in more of a broadcast way, thought i want to start bringing in a more conversational aspect to it. how do you feel about the difference?  what do you prefer in your own twitter?

vintage 80s red and white crested canvas skimmers 7

please read!: i’d also like to let you know that i’m switching going home to roost’s twitter account.  if you’ve been following me, please click here to follow my new account, where i’ll be posting all the relevant blog info, personal finds, handmade advice and hopefully lots of conversations with you all!


do you have a twitter account? please leave it in the comments section, so i can follow you, too!

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etsy shop help

hello dear ones!  since our last shop help column was on wholesale, today we’re going to talk about consignment.  you may say, what’s the difference? simply put, when you wholesale your items, you sell them at a discounted price.  when you consign your items, you supply (usually a shop) with a product for free, and get paid a percentage of the sale when your item sells.  there are benefits and negatives to both, and we’ll cover all of them pertaining to consignment today.

multiply

generally, any exposure is good exposure, right?  one of the bigger positives to consigning your work is that you get to build relationships with retailers and get your work into new places around the globe.  it’s beneficial for the retailer to do consignment, because it’s basically ‘risk free’.  they don’t have to pay you until your items sells.  but what’s in it for you? consigning (especially when you’re new) is a great learning experience. usually, you’ll be able to receive feedback about what’s selling and what’s not and begin to understand what your consumers like the most.  you may even be able to go in and rearrange your display or at least ‘change things up’ frequently.  by replacing stagnant items with new creations, you can really test your market, a bit of knowledge that i find invaluable!

bird vase

now let’s touch on the negatives to consigning.  first and foremost, you create items, send them into the world, and have to wait to see if they’ll sell.  there’s no real security in the amount of income you’ll receive.  you’ll also have to keep up with what you have and where it’s at.  keeping detailed inventory sheets of what items you have that are waiting to be sold is a must.  you’ll most likely have (or should have) a contract with any retailer you consign with.  make sure to read it thoroughly and pay attention to the liability section.  who’s responsible if the store burns down or get’s broken in to?  what if the items are lost in the mail? it’s best to discuss these kinds of questions well before you have to deal with them.  finally, you’ll be putting a certain amount of trust in you retailer. it’s their responsibility to sell your items, keep track of them, and pay you in a timely manner.

nesting bowl set

so now you have it, the down side and the upside to consignment.  if you’ve decided it might be something for you, here’s some more info you should consider.  do some research and figure out just how much profit you’ll need to make off of each product.  most stores have a percentage they keep, so you’ll need to find out what it is and get to calculating.  one important thing to remember is that if you have identical items in your etsy shop and in your consignment shops, they’ll need to be priced the same.

post card easter 5

make sure that your items not only look professional, but that they are tagged professionally as well.  having a way for the buyers to find you is essential and will do wonders in promoting your work. try to be as involved as possible with your shop.  keep up good communication and if you’re local, make sure to stop in frequently to check your display and freshen things up.  as mentioned earlier, make sure you have a contract and read it thoroughly.  if you find anything you don’t like or don’t understand, make sure to discuss it.

bird egg linen tea towel on aqua

with home to roost, i have a few consignment accounts as well as a few wholesale accounts.  i like each of them very much for different reasons, and have built amazing relationships with both types of clients. consigning is fun and educational, but can take up bit of time, so be careful not to get in over your head. and even though you don’t get one lump some of money for an order, it’s kinda fun to get surprised by a few checks at the end of the month!

our little friends aqua bird giclee print

do you have any experience you’d like to share? i’ll meet you in the comment section!

resources & recommended reading: the ins and out of consignment, wholesale vs. consignment, advice for those wishing to do consignment

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