Nov 212013
 

My husband, John, bought his first pair of fake eyelashes this week. Yes, really.

Eyelash Kit

Okay, I admit that opening sentence begs for an explanation. As I mentioned in my previous post, I sold  my crocheted hats, gloves and scarves at the local Beaverdale Holiday Boutique last weekend. Among my more interesting customers was a little girl who stood about four feet tall who stood in front of the mannequin heads sitting on my display tables.

Booth 2

“Sister, Mother, Aunt,” she recited, pointing to each head. “Mom, why is the mother missing one of her eyelashes?”

Sure enough, my observant little sprite had noticed what I had not—that one of my mannequins had a naked eye. So, John (who does all of our grocery shopping) added eyelash glue to his list of eggs, bread and milk. He came home with a one dollar Elf packet that included one tube of a thick, sticky substance that I think is mostly wax, and a pair of fake eyelashes. If you ever watched Sandra Bullock struggle to become a beauty pageant contestant in the 2000 film, Miss Congeniality, you can imagine me struggling similarly to glue eyelashes to my mannequin’s eyelids. I have come to the realization that those things stick to anything but their recommended target. Eventually Gypsy Rose (below) got her act together.

DSCN8056

Another interesting customer was a little boy who latched onto one of the hot pink hand mirrors sitting on my display tables. He held the mirror up Romper Room-style (yeah, I know I’m dating myself here), turned his back to me, and began talking to my mannequin heads. At least, I think he was. My husband swears he was being greeted. Or maybe both. In any event, I thought I had time-warped back to the early 1960s.

The next thing I knew, the little boy walked to the booth next door where his sister was begging Dad for a seven-dollar necklace. “Dad,” he said. “I found what I want.” Of course it was the mirror. In the end, after he was informed by his father that the mirror was not for sale, he settled for a stretchy beaded bracelet. But on his way out of the room, he picked up the hand mirror once more, and turned his bracelet-clad wrist this way and that so the Mirror could admire his purchase. I have never been so entertained. Apparently, the same was true for the little boy.

Mirror

The third interesting customer was an elderly lady using a walker to propel herself from booth to booth. She was not funny or entertaining, but instead made an interesting remark that turned on the proverbial light bulb inside my head. “Your hats and scarves with those big flowers on them,” she said, “remind me of the Roaring Twenties.” I had never really thought about it, but I sew over-sized flowers on almost everything inside JN Originals. “Flapper girl,” I thought, “that’s my style!” And I started using that tag for listings in my shop. If you don’t believe me, look at these other Etsy items that feature a similar look.

[sh-etsy-treasury treasury=”NjIyMjQyNHwyNzIyNzQ0NTI3″ size=”large” columns=”4″ display=”complete”]

This November marks six years since I first began selling on Etsy. I started with crocheted, felted coasters and business card pouches, crocheted cotton spa cloths and crocheted, felted java jackets. When my shop expanded to include hats, scarves and gloves, I realized that not all of the items fit well together. This relates to the subject of cohesiveness, about which I have written previously in End of year shop review. Recently a fellow Blogging Business Artisans team member asked me if I had thought about consolidating my Etsy shops, since I manage three presently and have been contemplating a fourth for a long time. It’s a very good question because time management is already an issue when you make merchandise by hand for one shop, photograph it, write product descriptions, list it, advertise it through social networks, and track sales for the Tax Man. The answer for me, however, is not shop consolidation but instead branding. According to Etsy’s staff member, Michelle, in her post, How to Create a Cohesive Shop, a shop whose style can be identified easily by its customers keeps them coming back:

Creating a cohesive shop is the most important tool for branding yourself, and one of your biggest allies in your search for repeat customers. Customers who love your style will share your shop with others and come back again and again.

So, opening a fourth shop—possibly in 2014—may be in the cards. It all began, of course, with a pair of fake eyelashes.

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Aug 282013
 

In both the last post, Taking time to make time, and Finding time to create, I have focused on how precious time is for the things we find important. Obviously, different things are important to people for different reasons. In a marketing context, however, there are only so many hours in the day. If you are selling a product or products (as I do when I sell handmade goods online), it is critical for you to make good decisions about where to concentrate your time and energy. If you don’t, you will achieve neither your creative nor your marketing goals.  You just can’t do it all, at least not well.

ID-10076584 A Cartoon Dog As a Clown - Grant Cochrane

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Decades ago, motivational writer and organizational consultant Stephen Covey penned an entire series of books designed to help you make good use of your time: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, First Things First, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, and the list goes on. Underlying all of these books is Covey’s four-quadrant model of time management, or the idea that that you can compartmentalize your life into categories that will help you prioritize what should be done first.  If you approach all tasks with the same degree of urgency, you’re basically “seeing the forest for the trees,” a phrase that refers to getting lost in the details and missing the big picture.

IMG_2486

Some people will tell you that for the best quality in life, you should aim to get done the tasks that fall into Covey’s Box Number 2, “Important, Not Urgent.” A very busy friend of mine who feels forced to concentrate only on what’s important and urgent in his life comments that the time it takes him to assign categories to everything is probably important but not urgent, thus negating the need for the entire exercise. But in reality, we all sort things consciously or unconsciously to determine what tasks we are going to tackle first, and ultimately which ones will simply fall by the wayside.

Covey ModelI have been selling handmade goods on Etsy for a little over 5-1/2 years now, and during that time I have learned a bit about marketing.  It’s one of the parts of selling that probably falls into the “important, not urgent” categories, but if you do no marketing at all, or you do so poorly, you tend not to sell. Part of marketing involves the use of social media such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and much more. There are so many social networking vehicles, in fact, that you must be choiceful about what you use. This is where quality is more important than quantity. I attended a conference a month ago at which social networking was discussed in the context of marketing. The speaker, Kim Carpenter, stressed that instead of using many social networks, it is more effective to use one or two well, and then drop the rest.  I would add a few more tips to this advice:

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Know your social network (and whom it reaches best).
  3. Adapt your message to both your audience and your social network.

So, how do you choose your social networks? If you are selling specific products, then good photos can be more impactful than words. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest may be great choices for you. If you want people to associate you with a particular area of expertise, then words may be more important than pictures. According to HootSuite social content writer Evan LePage in his post, Google+ for Business – The 3 Best Types of Google+ Content, “Be it information on a product update, social media tips or new tools for learning, Google+ users have clearly expressed their thirst for knowledge.”

Whether you agree with LePage or not, it’s a fact that some social networking venues work better than others, depending on your intent. “It’s a big time suck,” say many users about social media. Yes, they can be. (See Covey’s Box Number 4: Not Important, Not Urgent.) But if you use the ones that are appropriate for your purposes, and use them intelligently, they can be great marketing tools. Manage your social networks; don’t allow them to manage you. As German playwright, poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Aug 282012
 

Four-and-a-half years ago, when I first became an Etsy seller, it felt like everyone was talking about Moo cards—miniature rectangles of thick, slick, premium quality card stock that you can use as gift tags, price tags, design labels or mini business cards. What is different about Moo cards from standard business cards is the quality of the card stock and printing, and the ways in which you can customize your order without having to pay extra fees. The cards are so different from standard business cards that they are attention-getters. I have a few left from my first order; you can see one below.

Moo cards actually come in two different sizes, miniature rectangles measuring 2-3/4 inches x 1-1/8 inches, and standard-sized business cards. Upload your own photos, pull your images from Etsy or a social network like Facebook or Flicker, or select readymade images or designs from the Moo site. You have the option of printing on one or both sides, with a photo on one side and text on the other, or text on both sides.

Front side

Back side

You can upload as many photos as you wish (or pull your photos from your Web site or Etsy shop), and divide them up into equal batches of different cards all in the same order. For example, over the weekend I ordered 100 free mini Moo cards (see special offer at the bottom of this post) and uploaded five photos, requesting 20 of each one. Zoom in on an image, or zoom out—it’s your choice. You can also change the orientation of each card from portrait to landscape on a card-by-card basis.

Portrait orientation

Landscape orientation

Don’t limit yourself to using Moo cards only as business cards. Instead, consider these options:

  • Print a thank you message on one side and attach it to your wrapped package.
  • Use Moo cards as garment care or size labels.
  • Use a Moo card as a discount coupon; print a discount code along with your shop address on it.
  • Offer your buyer the option of a mini gift card if the item is intended as a gift.
  • If you have a special message or cause that’s part of your shop identity, print it on the cards and attach them to packaging.
  • Visit Moo’s Inspiration Gallery to come up with more ideas about how to use their products.

Right now Etsy has partnered with Moo for a special deal where you can get either 100 mini Moo cards or 50 full-sized cards for the price of shipping. To learn more, just click on FREE Etsy MiniCards from MOO, and place your order. If you are not an Etsy seller, but have never ordered from Moo, you can get a special 10% discount on your first order by clicking on 10% OFF 1ST ORDER.

Right now I’m eagerly waiting for my free 100 mini-cards to arrive; I hope you’ll take advantage of this offer, too.

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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