Monday, August 6, 2018

BUSINESS: 5 Strategies To Increase Sales

Improve your marketing skills to sell more handmades.

Don't be discouraged by your lack of sales. Success is the result of a lot of variables. Don't list your handmades, services, vintage and supplies and sit back to wait for the orders to come in. Nowadays, you probably won't ever get any. 

Always be working on all of the things you need to do continuously to make your shops successes. Many new sellers wait for months for their first sale. That is not unusual. It is more of the norm. Many who have swift first sales solicited them from family, friends and customers from their other shops, events, connections, etc. Some of the sales are mercy purchases. The true unique buyer is not automatic or easy to come by. This type of highly-valued buyer generally has to be cultivated and retained.


Take time to learn about:
  • better photography
  • search engine optimization (SEO) in your product titles and descriptions 
  • color theory
  • seasonal selling and marketing
  • developing new products and discontinuing others
Get busy and do something different. Improve your marketing skills. These are just a few of the practices that can help boost your sales.

Friday, August 3, 2018

WRITING: 2 Ways To Write More


 
Ways to practice writing more.
Reaching your writing goals requires, well, regular writing. If you are not able to set aside consistent writing time, adopt these two practices. They can help you to develop more regular writing exercises of your own. 

1.

You can practice writing with short, self-devised exercises.  One way is to add a little something more to the emails you send to family and friends.  This can be done by being more descriptive or dramatic when you share experiences. 

2.

Pen your own quotes about truths that you've learned in life.  Penning your own quotes is a process that is very helpful for anyone who would like to write poetry, but is afraid to try. It is simply writing a sentence about something that you know. Most quotes ring true with other people, though they may not have thought of it before.

Extend yourself and practice these 2 writing exercises, and you'll soon get ideas for more. Before long, you'll be writing that article, story or book that you've been procrastinating about.

Happy Writing!











Tuesday, July 31, 2018

NEWS: Making It TV Show Starts Tonight

https://img.nbc.com/sites/nbcunbc/files/files/images/2018/5/10/MakingIt-S1-Logo-1920x1080.jpg?impolicy=nbc_com&imwidth=640&imdensity=1
Making It Creativity Competition Series https://www.nbc.com/making-it?utm_source=search&nbc=1
Making It



I don't care for the competition part, but will check it out a few times to see if I can enjoy and learn from it. Making It starts tonight at 10p Eastern NBC.


It is a reality show competition for crafting and arting, hosted by 2 Parks & Recreation (which I never watched) alums.

Here's some more links:

https://www.nbc.com/making-it?nbc=1

https://www.facebook.com/NBCMakingIt/

https://consequenceofsound.net/…/amy-poehler-and-nick-offe…/

https://www.nbc.com/making-it?utm_source=search&nbc=1

I wish it was just crafting and arting. So hard to find programs like that now. I don't get the DIY channel, and the only thing I can see for cable forthcoming is to get out of my life.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

BUSINESS: How Etsy Handles State Sales Tax Collection

According to their Seller Handbook article How New Laws Impact State Sales Tax Collection on Etsy, the selling venue is now collecting taxes for the state of Oklahoma. They have been collecting taxes for Washington since January, and Pennsylvania since April. Online sellers have been concerned about the impact of the new eCommerce tax laws for some time, wondering if they will have to collect for all state. In the email that I received this morning, Etsy shared that there is nothing that sellers need to do. The taxes are collected on the back end when the buyers pay for their purchases.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

BUSINESS: To Add Shipping Or Charge Shipping


Handmades Selling: To Add Shipping or To Charge Shipping
As a handmades seller, I've been skimpy on shipping  insurance in the past, but I always knew it was a good thing to do, the best practice. Now that I mostly use Flat Rate packaging, insurance it is included along with tracking too. I still use calculated shipping too, for anything that I can mail in manila envelopes. I try to always add insurance now, unless it is paper crafting. Even then, some paper crafted products I buy insurance for.

Buyers do like to see free shipping in the listings, just as we do when we shop. Many sellers roll the shipping into the price and call it free shipping. I do find this a little difficult to do with lower-priced products, because the price seems too high with the shipping folded in. With higher-priced handmades it's easier to merge in the shipping charges.

Most handmades selling venues are encouraging sellers to offer free shipping as a standard. I read an article at Etsy recently that made me start thinking a little differently about this contentious issue. It said they want us to think of the shipping cost as one of the overall costs of production and roll it into the product price. They said the belief by sellers that buyers need to know the costs of shipping and how it affects all of us doesn't seem to matter anymore. They also stated that buyers don't care about that, and that they also don't want to pay more shipping than they would pay themselves.

I never thought of the shipping charges as one of the pre-expenses. The Etsy article did help me to consider something that I never have before, that rolling in the shipping charges doesn't have to feel like deceit. That is good, because it seems to be more apparent than ever that shoppers prefer free shipping, however they can get it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

DESTASH: Lace, Ribbon, Sewing & Fabric Trim Pack

Variety Pack of 9 Sewing Trims

These sewing trims are neatly wrapped and pinned onto my ribbon savers. Each one is marked with the yardage. The total yardage for the pack  = 23 1/3 yds  (70 ft). The lengths range from 3 ft to 11 ft and all 9 are included in the pack. You receive what is pictured, polyester and cotton laces, decor trim, ribbons and piping.
 
These trims can be used for any technique, not just sewing. Use them to trim out wall art, in collage and mixed media projects, in papercrafting and more! 

Use these trims for any technique.
Sewing Supplies, Craft Embellishments


Variety Pack of 9 Trims


Total Price 0.48 Per Yard

+ 1 (one) 5 ft Length Of Free Pink Lace (not shown in pics)
 
You receive everything in the photos.

This is the only pack that I have like this, though I'll be listing a similar one, so get it while you can.

These sewing trims are neatly wrapped and pinned onto my ribbon savers.
The orange and black are good colors for Autumn, fall, harvest and Halloween crafts.


See more details at EmbellishMart at Bonanza

Thursday, July 12, 2018

NEWS: Artyah 2.0 Update Delayed Again

The Artyah 2.0 platform update has been pushed forward, yet again, to the end of the year. This news was shared yesterday by Craig Weiss, the owner of the handmades selling venue. Sellers have been waiting for an extended time for the launch of the redesigned site. Unfortunately, another holiday season will come and go without the promised upgrade. There have been some changes and improvements, but not regarding the most critical issues that plague sellers. Among them is the flawed search system and blank default product images showing up on the marketplace page.

A couple of years ago there was a influx of disgruntled Etsy sellers who converged on the site in hopes that it would take off. Many of them, however, became disgruntled with Artyah and returned to Etsy. Since then, a listing fee of .10 has been introduced. Though this is only 1/2 of what Etsy charges, and though there is no monthly subscription, it removes Artyah from the free listing sites group.


Weiss launched the site in 2015 as a place for makers to sell their handmades, as well as antiques, vintage, and craft supplies. The site is based in Auburn, CA. Keep up with what is happening at the site by visiting the onsite community forums.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Business: Fewer Handmades Listing Places?

Today I emailed with Michelle S. at Scott's Marketplace. I was confirming whether or not they still offer free shops, which they do not. They now have 2 subscriptions from which to choose. My response was,

I removed Scott's from my upcoming list of Free Places To List Your Creative Products #2. I only write about free listing sites. Unlike resellers and thrift sellers, most handmades sellers and makers are low-volume and cannot afford subscriptions. They do have the potential to bring in a lot of revenue though.

Seems like many venues are editing out handmades sellers, or making it difficult for them to be prominent anyway. Storenvy used to have a handmades category displayed in the front page navigation bar. When they did a revamp of the site that was gone. They don't have subscriptions, but the site is overrun with what appears to be reseller merchandise. Artfire is still handmades-dedicated but no longer offers free shops. Their subscriptions are also quite steep for many makers.

Handmades sites have come and gone, closing because of poor planning, and/or lack of operational funds or unforeseen circumstances. Some of them include Fervous, Silk Road, GoodSmiths, WinkElf, Artifyy and Addoway. It appears that places for the average handmades seller to list are shrinking. It's more important than ever for those wishing to remain in the game to develop alternative selling places.  

Saturday, July 7, 2018

JEALOUS MEALOUS: Yelli Kelli Hey That's Cute!

Personalized Name Pillow by Yelli Kelli


Kelly Jackson, of Yelli Kelli, does outstanding work that is always a burst of color and joy.  I call it modern-day, rustic crewel design. Of her work, which she has been doing for 25+ yrs, she says, It is a close cousin to crewel, but looser, and more freeform and silly. My style is fun, splashy, cute & original. And she is RIGHT!
Yelli Kelli Peacock Embroidered Pillow
Years ago she started designing freehand embroidered pillows using her favorite fiber, vintage wool yarn. This has become her specialty. In fact, she is the Designer of the Original Freehand Embroidered Bohemian Name Pillow! She also creates custom art for casual living, and funky, fun clothing for children and women, including plus sizes.
Girl's Rustic Pumpkin Hand Painted Tunic by Yelli Kelli

Her main Etsy shop can be found at Yelli Kelli.
Her new plus size ladies clothing shop is KellyJacksonDesign.etsy.com

Yelli Kelli's Abstract Wildflowers In Crystal Vase


Kelly has another activity as well. She is the creator & owner of Diva Do's, an all girl art & crafting class where she teaches kindergartners up to middle school. They are currently in their 14th year!
Peacock Feather Hand Painted Bookmark by Yelli Kelli

You can connect with Kelly here by searching these usernames:
  • On Facebook: YelliKelli
     
  • Instagram: YelliKelliCute
     
  • Twitter: YelliKelli

Sunday, June 24, 2018

BUSINESS: The Same As Etsy? I Don't Think So.

Many handmades sellers today are scrabbling for a tolerable place to sell in light of Etsy's recent changes. The FVF of the mammoth makers site has been raised by 1.5% and the fee will now be applied to the shipping charges. Over the years, I've heard sellers compare Etsy's success to some challenged listing sites. In some forums, the consensus is that the sellers are responsible for making a selling venue successful like the sellers did at Etsy. However, when some struggling handmades selling venues are compared to how Etsy began, I don't think a complete comparison is shared.

Etsy was launched by 3 partners and joined by a 4th. Three years later a high-profile, NPR executive was brought on board as COO. Etsy had 4 individual investors in the beginning years, a venture capital firm and the experienced founders of Flickr and Delicious. The name Etsy was chosen because in Italian it means Oh Yes, and in Latin and French it means What If. Etsy was able to please its sellers, in the first year, by adding new features and capabilities that attracted attention, traffic and exposure.

I do understand why creative sellers consistently compare some floundering sites with Etsy, but let's be real. To compare Etsy's success with the struggles of crippled selling sites, and to place the responsibility for making them a success on the sellers is neither accurate nor fair. Two years after launch when Etsy was not profitable, $27 million additional dollars were channeled into the company by the original venture firm and 2 additional individual investors.

Despite the fact that the site has degraded for many independent creatives, Etsy had quite an auspicious beginning. Without the early financial support of a venture capital firm and 6 investors, and the collective management and experience of 6 people, handmades sellers alone would not have been able to make Etsy the success that it is today.

Source: Wikipedia

Note: Wikipedia is not an academic source of info, but I've been reading the site for at least 15 yrs. The easy-to-comprehend facts that I find there have been enough for my purposes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

MARKETING: One Way To Offer Free Shipping

Sold By Bonanza Seller





Are you offering any shop incentives to encourage visitors to buy? One incentive that many say is effective in increasing sales is free shipping.

Sold by Bonanza Shop
I have not embraced free shipping very much. One reason is that I think like those sellers who insist that buyers need to understand the cost of shipping. If they are always given free shipping they won't understand how shipping changes and increases effect us all.
Paper Nirvana Listing Sold
I do feel that free shipping is a great incentive to buy. I am always seeking free shipping when I shop online, or as low in cost as possible. As a handmades seller, one way that I accept and promote it is to offer free shipping for a purchase above a certain amount. In this way, I don't have to offer free shipping across the board. This is important to me as a crafter and artist who does not want to inflate the price of her handmades.
Incentives For Handmades Buyers
My paper-crafted products do not have high price points. Because of this, I can offer a low minimum total purchase for free shipping, like over $5.00. With a free shipping shop incentive, I don't roll the shipping cost into the price of each product listed like resellers and drop-shippers do. I simply eat the shipping cost on behalf of my customers.

I sold this sweet Birds & Flowers Magnet Set pictured above at my Paper Nirvana Bonanza Shop, where I offer this type of free shipping. So, my buyer scored that bargain today.

Are you offering any type of free shipping?

Are you interested in selling on Bonanza.com? Follow this link to sign up:
https://www.bonanza.com/sell_products_online?referral_id=25440237



NEWS: Project Wonderful To Shut Down

Project Wonderful, the unique, online advertising platform that is different from the Adsense-type tools, is shutting down August 1, 2018. Though I was a sporadic user, I'll miss the website. I wish it had been easier to find good publishers of handmades blogs. Instead, there was a plethora of comic/graphic novel publishers. James Dillehay removed his publisher's account for his CraftsU site because PW had become too cumbersome to use. Despite these things, the end of a useful website is always sad. I will the PW owners and staff much luck in their pursuits.

Here is the schedule for the shut down that they shared in an email:


  • June 11th, 2018: We announce our shutdown phase. No new accounts can be created, and no new publishers will be added to the network. Members are contacted to let them know to spend or withdraw their funds before August 1st.
  • July 11th: Ad serving is turned off, so our ads will no longer appear on anyone's websites, and any existing bids are suspended. No new bids can be placed on Project Wonderful - but of course people can still withdraw their funds.
  • August 1st: This is the deadline for anyone to do anything they want with their Project Wonderful accounts before they close!
  • August 6th: After a few days of grace for any stragglers, and after 12 years, 6 months, and 12 days of service, Project Wonderful's servers finally go offline.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

NEWS: Defunct Handmades Venue

The handmades listing site, MadeItMyself.com, seems to have been closed down. Visiting the site produces this msg,

Server Error in '/' Application.
The resource cannot be found.
Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.
Requested URL: /default.aspx

Friday, May 25, 2018

BUSINESS: GDPR & No Shipping To EU Countries

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a new law protecting and giving individuals living in EU (European Union) countries more control over how their info is being used. For handmades sellers, those selling overseas must provide privacy policies about what data they are collecting, where they are storing it and how they are using it. More detailed contact info for the seller must be made available to EU buyers. This includes info that some sellers have chosen not to share.

I prevent as much personal info about myself as possible from being shared online. I'm sure everything about me is already out in cyberspace somewhere, but I try not to add it again or add more. As a seller, I want a minimum of communication avenues through my shops. For privacy, I try not to share my shop location, other than the country and the state if I must. I mainly want to do business via site messaging, occasionally email and never via phone. I don't want my phone# on display to ANYONE who has an address in an EU country or anywhere else. So, I especially don't want to add my phone# to any privacy policy, as required by some selling venues.

There's also the issue of keeping databases on my computer for email marketing and purchase followups. It is important in case the selling site has issues, goes down, etc. While we can make a blanket statement in our privacy policies about where we keep the info, what we keep and for what purpose, there's more to it.

I haven't developed any email marketing campaigns or sent any newsletters. I don't have a large file of customer info, but I had hoped to one day create a newsletter to send out using a fully-fleshed-out record of customer transactions. Now I have to rethink the future of that for me, or anything that would require keeping a customer database. I even read where someone said that a GDRP-like policy may become effective in the US. So, the potential ramifications that could complicate the lives of handmades sales in the US is great.

There's the issue of how long we keep the customer info, and that length of time is staggered as sales come in. We're supposed to be able to legally keep the info on our local computers, or where ever, for seven years. After that we're supposed to remove it AND send the party a letter stating that we've removed it. It's additional monitoring and follow-through.

I feel a little stressed currently, working through other issues. For now, I've added statements to my shops intros that I will not be shipping to EU countries. I have never embraced overseas shipping anyway. By continuing as I have, at least for now, I have eliminated the need to comply.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

BUSINESS: Discover Freelancers Union

I joined FreelancersUnion because my entire creative life is centered around being a freelance worker and independent crafter and artist. They invite a wide variety of people, who work for themselves, with this statement, Membership is open to independent workers – freelancers, consultants, independent contractors, temps, part-timers, contingent employees and the self-employed.

I'm excited to be a member because it offers so much, including listing in the members directory, newsletters, networking, advocacy, discounts, insurance, and more. It affordable, because membership is free. They invite donations to help supplement the grants and other funding received from foundations.

I look forward to learning and growing through FreelancersUnion. Read their FAQs here.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

BUSINESS: What Does SS18 Stand For?

Mexican pepper design papier mache napkin rings.

SS18 and AW18 are often used in the fashion and decor industry to indicate seasonal designs. SS18 refers to spring-summer and the year, 2018. AW18 refers to autumn-winter.

Good Vibes Crochet Necklaces

Remember, if you use industry jargon or industry-specific lingo in your product listings, you may lose some customers. Shoppers sometimes do not have time to seek out the meanings of terms. Sending sellers an email requesting info that should have been included in the listing is time-consuming and delays the purchase. They may even consider that some terms could refer to something undesirable. Many who are not in the know may move on, preferring to shop for merchandise whose meanings they understand.

I saw the SS18 notation in 2 Etsy listings today. I'm one of those few who takes time to seek out the meanings of odd terms, because I'm a writer, avid reader, and because I'm insatiably curious. If I was just an average shopper I would not care, but wouldn't want to order something that could be wrong for me either. I'd move on. It's fun to use industry language. It makes us feel professional. If we include them, we should add a notation of the meanings of unusual names and terms.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

GREETINGS: Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day From The Creative Seller



HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

from

The Creative Seller

to those who have children

and to those who have mothered others!

Friday, May 4, 2018

NEWS: Craigslist Now Charging Nationally

Craigslist is now charging $5 per listing for Services and Gigs, and the listing lasts 30 days. I had been listing transcription services there and had to let my posts lapse for a while. Went to re-post and found out today that the charge has been in effect since mid-March. I don't know whether the charges extend to the Community section or not. No obvious money to be made there, so probably not. 

I read a complaint from several people in another site's online forum that the Personals had been removed. One disappointed person said he had enjoyed this section for some time and had found a wife there.

I did not renew my listings today. While $5 does not seem like much to some, I have to rethink the value of posting services there, especially with so-so results and stiff competition. Many others feel that this new fee is too steep. I have to agree, especially for posts that last only 30 days.

The best thing about the new requirement is that it will weed out the spammers, scammers and robots. I wouldn't call it a ghost town and I didn't hear crickets, but the difference was obvious. In some categories I could read all of the postings on 1 page instead of 4.

***

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

NEWS: Amazon's Most Entrepreneurial States

Ina Steiner at eCommerceBytes said that Amazon published a list of 10 states that are tops in entrepreneurial activity: Utah, California, New York, Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Florida, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Oregon. Not sure what the exact criteria was, but some are a surprise. Dayton Daily News said Amazon snubbed Ohio.

I see that Business Wire said the Amazon list was based on small to medium-sized businesses that use Amazon's platform to grow. Since very few handmades sellers use Amazon to sell, the list does not reflect the numbers of these creatives. I'd like to get access to some real handmades figures. I need to see what Timothy Adam at Handmadeology has to share about handmade crafters statistics.

Handmades sellers get lost in the push of start-ups and small businesses that the media usually covers. We still fall under the cottage industry category (not a bad thing) because we don't generate high-volume sales nor employ permanent workers.

As I visit social media platforms, forums and creative groups online, I see the most general activity from crafters and artists living in the mid-western and northeastern states, except for Iowa, Pennsylvania and Virginia. I see less activity from the south and the southwest. The states on the list that surprised me the most were Utah, Washington and Delaware. I think that California and New York made the list because of state size and the number of people per square mile.

I'd like to see more handmades activity in the forums and groups from creatives in New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi and even Georgia. Rarely see any activity from the Dakotas, Wyoming, Arkansas and Nebraska. I think a lot of crafters are busy with a strong online presence in Massachusetts, Florida and Michigan. I see that Florida and Massachusetts made Ina's list.

Monday, April 23, 2018

SOCIAL MEDIA: Pinterest Enforces Sharing Complaints



I LOVE Pinterest. I need a t-shirt that says the same. I can see why some crafters and artists are angry about losing revenue because of shared and pirated images. Pinterest has received a lot of negative press because it is a platform where anyone can pin anything. Pinterest is like the poster child of shared images infringement. Some who would like to reverse what can't be changed in the way of our society's explosive social media sharing want to make Pinterest an example.

The Web is so big and there are so many users, that copyright and intellectual property infringement can't be stopped, or even policed by the average person. I'm not defending Pinterest, because anywhere that images can be shared, public and private, is a place where infringement can be done. Pinterest is a very popular, central location where incensed web users can focus their attack regarding their unauthorized shared content.

A lot of people use the internet now who don't understand netiquette, infringement, etc. They don't purpose to offend or steal. One good thing is that Pinterest has a very good trademark rights policy and is good at responding to complaints of infringement. They take those images down and alert all re-pinners. I believe there was a concerted effort to shut Pinterest down. I can see why it did not work because to be fair the World Wide Web, the Intranet, the deep web and others would need to be shut down. That is not possible for a number of reasons.

If I run across theft or infringement of my work online, I do address it. However, everyday I have to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what could be going on behind my back with regards to my content. If I didn't I'd remove my Web presence completely (or as best I could) and go offline permanently. I like internet marketing and sharing too much to do that, at this time anyway.
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