Mums Inc. – Homecoming Mum Professionals

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Mums Inc #bettertogether

Mums Inc. #bettertogether

As many of you know my primary business is based on the Texas based tradition of Homecoming mums. I wanted to take a moment to talk about a brand new organization in the Homecoming industry called Mums Inc. Mums Inc. was founded in 2012 to promote the growth and unity within the Homecoming Mum business. I personally have been making homecoming mums for over 20 years and as a business for the last 13. During this time I encountered a lot of struggles trying to find vendors, supplies and figure my way through the trials of starting a business. 


It became important to me as a small business to have and create valuable business relationships with other members of this industry. From this need Mums Inc. was born. In the beginning I started out by looking for any mum maker I could find on the internet. I emailed them, sent them messages on Facebook and low and behold, they responded. Now we have over 125 members on the roster. This includes some of the largest mum makers in Texas.


Together we are becoming a positive force in this industry. We have a very unique and exciting business. Our season runs generally from August to November and then its over. Everyone understands seasonal business but this business is not only seasonal its rooted in lots of long term tradition as well. We spend our time coming together for group purchases, educational events and just good ole fashion support from one another. I am proud to have founded this group and we are very excited about the path that we are on.


So with that said; Are you in the Homecoming Mum business? Are you looking to grow your business or learn new ideas? Please check out our website at http://www.mums-inc.com or email mumsgroup12@gmail.com for more information. 

Till next time,
Kisha Crooks
Owner\ Senior Designer
DK Florals Inc.

Winning at Pinning

It’s easy to get lost spending hours pinning everything beautiful that comes across your screen. For a small business, its important that you put just some thought into creating a strategy that works for you. Results from social media are not always quick but with consistency it can pay over time. Pinterest has quickly proved to be invaluable for small businesses. Having really established themselves as an emerging leader in the new social marketing genre. People naturally gravitate towards what they can see. We are a visual people and we most certainly shop that way.

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Finding a rhythm with Pinterest takes just a little but of work on your part.  This comes without saying but I am going to say it anyway. For every social media account you establish for your company. Take the time to make sure that you complete your full profile. Complete all fields with addresses, store links and verify your website or blog URL’s. Leave no stone unturned. Incomplete information looks unprofessional to the customer.

The vision is simple. Create boards that appeal to your customer with genuine pins. The idea is to create a relationship with followers that have like minds which could create a potential sales and even more followers. My company specializes in a product that appeals to moms and teens, so my boards are geared towards that type of shopper. I have boards for teen fashion and prom. All activities that appeal to my customer.

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Think of it this way, most social media platforms assume that we are like minded. We follow people who like items that we like as well. We do that because usually they have a trend of pinning items that in your opinion favor your style or preference. That being the case, it makes sense that as a business your followers will be likely to follow your style. Keep the like minded theory in the for front of your mind here.

That being said there are two common issues I often see with pins on Pinterest by small businesses or anyone for that matter. The first is not the most coming but is the absolute worst. I click this awesome pin to read the article and there is no URL on the Pin. This can outrage a person like myself. The idea that someone took the time to get my attention but not keep it, is a complete turn off as a customer. Make absolute sure that you have added a source to your Pins. Adding a URL is done in the source field when you access the edit menu of a pin.

 

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The next most frustrating but even more common than my first complaint, bad pictures. Pinterest is all about the visual which I am almost sure I have said at least once already. We buy first with our eyes. Our eyes are drawn to clarity, beauty, sparkles, creative text to mention a few. By our, I mean women which is the grand majority of the users on Pinterest. I don’t think we need much of a visual to describe what a bad picture is. Just be sure to take photos with good light and a clear background. Nothing is more unprofessional than your messy bathroom counter in the photo with your product. My counter looks that way too but this is a secret we can keep between the two of us.

Ladies and gents the bottom line is take your time, do the research and use your head. Pinterest is filled with information about everything you can imagine. Take pretty pictures and use keywords to describe them. Verify all of your information, and make your pins genuine to you and your business image. There is nothing more productive or creative than being true to you. That is most rewarding.

Till next time friends,

Kisha Crooks
The Glitter Gazette
glittergazette@gmail.com

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So you want to run a Homecoming Mum business……..

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The craft of making a homecoming mum is really exciting. For those of us who like to make things pretty and and happen to be distracted by shiny things it can be challenging as a business. There is a lot to accomplish I a short period of time. However with focus and dedication it can be one of the most rewarding businesses. As a Homecoming Professional you can have a few things to consider. You need to determine how you want to run your business. Website? At Home? Store Front?

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It can be a complicated decision choosing your marketplace. There are so many things to take into consideration. Cost? Location? Marketing? The world’s current most popular market today is currently the internet. Having a website today is not a second thought when planning out the start or growth of your business. Many options exist for creating a budget friendly website all on your own. For those that are not so inclined there is no shortage web designers readily available. Just be sure and do your homework when working with professionals. Get references and speak to past customers.

There is also a great middle ground with options like Etsy, E-bay and Facebook. These are options for those who don’t feel web savvy but still want to have a presence on the internet. Consider these very good options for visibility and decent trending in search engines. Etsy is very good at keeping their customers listed fairly in Google. Facebook has also become a pretty popular place to sell items or create a selling group. Consider the following:

1. Choosing a designer with good references?
2. Do I feel confidence enough to run my own e-store?
3. Cost?

If you choose to sell out of your home, which is the most common choice at first. There are a few things you need to think about too. Having a home based business can be challenging when you think about customers being in and out of your living space on a consistent basis. Make sure you have the space to separate living and business. A space where at least your customers are able to come in and place an order comfortably without interruption. Keep things organized and neat when your customers are in the home. Consider the following:

1. Available space?  
2. Loss of Privacy?
3. Separating life and business.

Lastly, we have the traditional brick and mortar store front option. In the Homecoming business this is almost always a growth move. Once you have been in the business and established a customer base, a move to a store front can be very lucrative. This all depends on your goals for business growth. Homecoming is a seasonal business, so a store front can present its challenges including costly overhead. At this level planning goes without questions. If you are considering moving into a store front. You should definitely reach out to members in our group who have experienced this and seek guidance from the local SBA. Consider the following:

1. Cost? (Inventory, Marketing, Misc. Overhead)
2. Location?
3. Risky and Seasonal?

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This is the first of many articles in a new series about a business I love so dear, Homecoming Mums and the business of them. Please check back each week for updates on how to become a Homecoming Mum Professional.

Till next time friends,
Kisha Crooks

Check out our new Professional association for mum makers by searching for Mums Inc. on Facebook.

It’s been tooo long, but we are back!!

It has been way to long since I have taken the time to update my blog. I have just been so busy with the business and life that I haven’t been able to sit down and write any meaningful content. Although during that time I have compiled ideas and thoughts I think will really interest my readers.

First things first, I have decided on a new writing schedule. New content and products will be published every two weeks. I have decided to add a few product reviews to my schedule and some really cool How To’s that we are really excited about.

Check Back with us in a few weeks and check out my latest blog post called ” The Professional Crafter”. Have a great week!!

Everything they didn’t tell you about owning a business….

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Part 2 – The Stuff we don’t do so well.

So, as we discussed in the previous article, one of the keys to being successful in business is most definitely taking the time to figure out what you are good at and what you are not good at. I have found, that spending time breaking down each of my business operations, has helped us grow quite a bit. With that said, I also decided to split this article up one more time. This entire blog will be dedicated to organizing, the collection, and managing of money. What could be more important?

After sitting down and evaluating the topics I wanted to cover, with regards to financials, I quickly found it a little overwhelming. So often, you read articles regarding money and the eyes begin to glaze over after the 15th time someone has said debit or credit. My other favorite is usually when they speak about the tons and tons of things you WANT to be doing but cannot yet afford or dream about yet.  I want to know the meat and potatoes of the topic.

Taking the Money   money

 

In this day and age, there are so many things to consider when you own a small business. Do I need a store? Should you sell online? Where should you sell? How much is selling online going to cost me? What’s the difference between EBay, Artfire, or Etsy?

Once you decide to sell online, at home, or in a shop, you need to begin to think about how you will collect the millions and millions of dollars you will be making. (Yeah Right!!) Will you take payments by phone, in-person or directly on your website? Whichever choice you make, one or all, there will be a price attached. For instance, we often make the mistake of thinking that selling online has no overheard. It’s definitely smaller than your average brick and mortar store but there are still things to consider. Shipping costs and supplies, credit card fees, Seller fees, etc. These things can add up. When you are pricing your items, you will need to take into account how much it costs you to accept payments, shipping, and seller fees (PayPal fees). For each channel of business we sell in, there is a specific fee that I add into pricing that covers those costs. Starting out, forgetting these types of costs, was one of our biggest mistakes.

There are a million vendors out there that make accepting funds credit cards very simple. The biggest tip here will be determining how often you need access to your cash flow. For instance, PayPal offers debit cards for easy access to cash. While most other vendors have a 1 to 2 day turnaround. Traditional merchant accounts can take as many as 3 days. We all know in small business that 3 days can be a lifetime.

paypalwepay

Other things to consider WePay offers payment sites to users without a web page for easy payment acceptance, in case possibly you run a Facebook only store or a service based business. Square is a free mobile credit card swipe, simply pay a percentage per transaction. No monthly fees attached. It all depends on your needs. PayPal offers a similar service. Again, we do not endorse any companies, these are just the most commonly used out there. Although, I have been a PayPal customer for a very long time.

When it comes to one of the most troublesome money management tasks, SHIPPING, it can often be a silent but deadly killer. The beast that seems to drain you and your customer’s wallets. There have been some real advancements from both shipping vendors and a few new applications that make managing shipping much easier.

Both Shipstation and Shipworks offer packages that almost seem to good to be true. Anyone, that has been shipping online for more than 15 minutes knows what a pain it is to ship packages and get accurate rates, on-time deliveries and accurate reporting. I would recommend spending at least 3 months shipping and build up a decent rate of business before adding one of these tools. It’s not a tool to use, if you will be shipping 2 packages a month. But if you are going to be shipping 20 packages a month or more, its MORE than worth it.

These two applications pretty much do a lot of the same things but differently.The first thing to do is make sure your cart is compatible with the products. Then possibly try the 30 day trials that each offer and figure out which one is a good fit. These tools automate shipping emails, integrate your e-commerce cart, and offer reporting that can save you money. They sort of keep your shippers honest. If you have ever tried to get a report from the Fed-Ex website, you know what I mean. Both of these tools offer real time shipping quotes as well. The absolute BEST thing about them both is getting all of your shipping in one place, no more manual entry from multiple channels.

shipstationshipworks

Collecting The Money    money

Now, lets talk about keeping track of the money. This is one of the most common issues with money management. We have tried paper systems, computer systems, and many other methods to easily track the money we have going out and the money we have coming in. In all honesty, they all do they same things, Cash vs. Accrual, Stand alone applications, Web based applications, or even the most primitive the paper method. Below, I have listed a link to a comparison chart of the popular accounting packages out there. Both online and stand-alone. (None of which are endorsed or paying for mention) These are just some of the systems we have tried in the past.

Some Popular Accounting Suites

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Once you get past the dreaded idea of book keeping or accounting, you then needs to make some choices about what works best for you. I hate to break the news to you but there is NO easy way to track finances. No matter which option you select, the key point is to take the time to work the process. In todays market we have so much more to keep track of than just money. We have to keep track of all the channels in which we take money in also. What those channels cost us and at the end of the day, is it all worth it?

Spending the time to keep up with your finances will make a lot of these decisions easier. It will also make things a lot easier when it comes down to asking for financing or speaking with potential investors. Keeping an up to date financial picture of your business is absolutely key to getting financial support.

A few things to consider when choosing an accounting suite….

1. Access – How will you gain access to your application? Is it web-based from any browser, phone access, stand-alone software? Easy access to your finances will just simply make your life easier. Nuff said!

2. Support – I cannot stress enough how important it is for support to be easy to access. Unless your skill set is in accounting. Which would make this article a little pointless for you, lol. Make sure that when you select a suite, you determine how much support you have and for how long?

3. Usability – Ok, we are talking about your money. This application needs to be useable for you. An application that makes this dreaded time drainer, not a horrible feat of death right out of the gate. There is always a learning curve, take advantage of trials. Feel out an application before you commit to it. Every popular software out there give you a trial to feel things out before you commit long term.

4. Professionals – If you can afford a professional, GET ONE! That is all there is to say about that. Do your research and ask for references.

If you take a moment and examine some of the items I have listed, this process can change from dreaded to less dreaded. The easier a process is, the better and more likely it will be for you to commit the time to manage it. The most important thing to remember, your financials sum of the worth of your business. As small business owners we put our heart and souls into our business, tracking your hard work takes time, but the outcome is worth it.

I hope this article gives you some tips on some of the things, that I know stumped me when I started my business. If you have questions, feel free to email us at glittergazette@gmail.com

Till Next Time Crafters,

Kisha Crooks
The Glitter Gazette
glittergazette@gmail.com

Everything they didn’t tell you about owning a business!!

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Part 1

I was one of those people who started their business thinking “this is soooo simple”. All I need is a few business cards, a basic website, and customers will be calling me non stop. Well, not only was I wrong, but I learned that even the best of ideas need well thought out plans.

I started Divine Kreationz ten years ago, and it was created with the idea that it would never be more than a little “money making” hobby. Just something to do on the side. Once I got into the business and fell in love with what I was doing, it became so much more. Of course, you understand, in the first years it was nothing more than a single set of pee wee mums, four or five sales, and what seemed like a million freebies. To make a long story short it worked. By 2006 we opened an online supply store (the only one online at the time), signed a contract with a major pee wee league, and started signing fundraisers. It was awesome, and then it happened………..

90 emails a day, a phone ringing off the hook and a ton of orders and only a few people to fill them. The moral to this story is I wanted success so badly I FORGOT TO PLAN FOR IT! We were so busy trying to be successful that we forgot to think about what would happen when we became a success. Who’s going to answer all of the phone calls, respond to the emails and STILL get the work done?

This was most definitely me at all times!

Postit cartoon  Frantic

There are a million “start your own business” classes, but not many people talk about the keys to running a successful one. I am almost sure I know why too, because you have absolutely no time when you’re running a business. No one mentions that there is no customer service line when you’re in business. You are customer service, returns, sales, shipping and anything else that needs to be done.

My business ran at chaos level for about two years, and then I took a step back. My business was running me. I come from an IT background, and everything in IT is based on procedures and processes. It never occurred to me that my business needed the same type of structure. It was time to re- evaluate my business and see where improvements could be made. These improvements weren’t just involving the business itself,  but for me personally too. Being a business owner is a lot more personal than we usually realize at first.

So I decided to break things down into two categories. Things I am good at and things I need pay someone to do. Please understand that just because I could put it into the “pay someone to do it field” didn’t mean that, at the time, I could afford it. What it did do was allow me to take the time to create goals and to plan to move toward that. Most of us are really good at our craft but that doesn’t mean I am a guru at shipping, accounting or organization. Which is exactly the conclusion I came to, when I started putting some thought into this. Someone else needed to do those things for me, so that I could be better spent doing what makes the money.

I did, at this point, also take inventory of the things I was used to as well. The emails, the phone calls, all of that needed tweaking as well. If I was going to focus on the hard stuff then the easy needed to get easier. This is the point where I made a list of things I could do better. A list of all the things I know how to do pretty well but didn’t have enough time to do as well as I would have liked.

Emails – at anywhere from 50 to 90 emails a day on average, its hard to keep up. You also need to be there for your customers. When you operate a business online, email is your customers’ primary method of contact. Not to mention most people’s preference.

Here are some of the tools and ideas I used to get things under control.

1. Outlook – I know this seems like an odd tool to note but a lot of people are still using webmail like Gmail or Yahoo. These tools don’t allow for Rules which are my life saver.

    • Rules – in outlook this feature allows me to split emails into folders without EVER having to touch my inbox. You can set rules from specific senders, create rules for vendors assign and assign emails to folders. click on the link below for “How to’s”  on how to create rules from outlook.
    • http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/create-a-rule-HP005242897.aspx
    • Out of Office Replies – when I am in the office or working and cannot answer, my auto replies do.
    • Flags – Flags allow you to mark things for follow up(and to remind yourself when you need to follow up).
    • Calendar – You can attach emails to dates, set even more descriptive reminders, and the list goes on and on.

This was, and is, one of my most valuable customer service tools. I know what you’re thinking though. Its too expensive. Well not anymore. You can do MS Office 365 with Outlook for as little as $12.50 a month. In my line of business, missing an email from a customer can easily loose me upwards of $150.00 so its more than worth it. It also provides you with 25GB of cloud space (space to store things online) and all the other office apps as well. For legal purposes I need to say I am not affiliated with Microsoft or Office 365. These are just tools that we find save our lives more often than not.

So, as we all know, social marketing is one of the most time consuming things to do as much as we should all be doing it. For me remembering every day to take time to post to my customers on several mediums was just plain difficult and took up time I didn’t really have. You have all heard me rave about Fanchimp but it truly takes out some of the guess work for folks who use social media as a tool. It allows for customized posts and helps with creating links from info you select as well. It does this all day for you without you having to touch Facebook or Twitter. I love it.

Here again is the legal part where I state that I have no affiliation whatsoever with this company, its just a tool I use and love.

2. Fanchimp – Most of you that have read my blog have heard me speak ions and ions about Fanchimp. I absolutely adore this product. It takes a lot of the hassle out of social networking today. We want to keep our customers informed and engaged, and this tool allows you to do so by building your own program you want to deliver via Twitter and Facebook. Any reader who bothers with social media at all knows how time consuming it is to have to try to spend 2-3 times a day engaging your viewers. Setting Fanchimp up to work for you successfully will take  about an hour, one day a week to setup and organize.

http://fanchimp.com/en/index/howworks

Most of us are home based businesses. So you all know how tough it can be to continue loving what you do while your home life is all mixed up in it.

3. A dedicated work space – I know this sounds odd, but a lot of us work from home. We have craft spaces or kitchen spaces or just plain wherever we could find room to work spaces. I have worked in my own home for probably 70 percent of the time I have owned this company, and, honestly, I had no choice.

I know some of you don’t have a choice either, but if you can, try to make a space that is just for working. Work Corner, work closet, work room. Sometimes as business owners running full time its easy to forget how to love your craft. Mixed in between the kitchen, tonight’s dinner and the kids toys, we forget why we are doing what we are doing. Having a dedicated space can allow you time to bond with your craft. I know it sounds crazy but when I spend time alone with my craft it helps me process a lot of what is going on within the business. I have time to think things out and focus for just a moment on the craft I love, all by itself. I often feel rejuvenated, and it gives me a boost to just keep going.

4. You time – As small business owners, it takes a lot of work to stay afloat, to stay relevant and to keep your business in front of your customers. We have to remember at all times to take a moment and reinvest some of that energy into ourselves. As the makers, crafters, artisans or whatever you call yourself, refueling is needed. You can’t ignore it.

    • Take an hour a day or a day a week to gather your thoughts and focus on what brought you here in the first place.
    • Leave it all behind for a moment. This is instrumental in staying sane. You have to walk away sometimes. This is why even the smallest of dedicated spaces is important so you can close the door or just leave the area.
    • Pamper yourself with anything that makes you feel special.
    • Never forget how important the self is in self employed!

I know that looking at this up front, you are probably like “Yeah Right”, but this is something I know from experience. It’s hard to have everyone depend on your for everything. This is even more reason to take time to yourself. Find moments to meditate, to breathe, anything at all that allows you a moment to re-focus. This will make you more profitable as a business, as without you, there really isn’t a business at all, right? So take this as seriously as you take your taxes, as self perseveration is imperative to keeping your business successful.

All of these ideas can be a work in progress. Maybe only one of these things is an issue for you, or maybe it’s all of them. That is totally normal. Pick your battles one at a time, and try to take baby steps to bring things to order. A lot of these things are daily battles for DK. I still struggle to remember to eat properly during peak season and to walk away. First thought when you walk away is about everything you COULD be doing, but I’ve learned that comes at a cost. So now I still attend Yoga, take breaks and just step outside. I even managed to set Football Sunday’s aside for just reading emails. It makes a difference in who you are as a person and as a good healthy business owner.

In Part 2 of this issue, we will discuss all the things we don’t do well. We will cover some shipping tools, some awesome accounting ideas and the ever eluding organization. I am sure we all know how aggravating it can be to buy something 5 times just because you cant find it!

As always contact email us anytime. Join our Facebook group (click link up top or search Facebook for TGG) for small biz discussions.  I look forward to hearing from you. We are always accepting new ideas for blogging!

Till next time crafters!

Kisha Crooks
The Glitter Gazette
glittergazette@gmail.com

Branding Your Craft. Part 3–To Craft Fair or Not to Craft Fair?

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Greetings Crafters,

So every handmade crafter has pondered the idea of working craft fairs. Some crafters swear by them, and others condemn them. So what is the secret? Can they be lucrative to your business? You have to think that since there are hundreds of these things each year, there must be something to it. Well this blog is dedicated to figuring out the mystery of the craft fair. At the end, hopefully the muddy waters will be a little clearer.

How to choose your craft fair

There are several things to consider when choosing your show. A lot of this can be determined simply by the name and who is holding it. You have to look at what you are trying to accomplish when you are selecting your craft fair. Sometimes these events may not be the biggest sellers, but they may offer you some much needed exposure to the public. When choosing where you are going to sell, always keep the audience in mind.

Craft fairs are often held by churches, school organizations or teams, or a company. The host of the craft fair is more than important. The enthusiasm of the event holder will determine how well they promote and organize the event. Below are some quick tips I find are useful when choosing a fair, regardless of who is hosting. Consider this a check list for choosing.

  • Always ask the three W’s when choosing your craft fair: What, When and Where? What are vendor expectations as far as what can be sold, will there be duplicate sellers (other vendors selling what your selling) , donation expectations, and most importantly, what do my fees include,etc. When are setup\teardown times and when are payments due? Where is the event going to be held (inside\outside)?
  • Next, make sure to check for the size of the event spaces and utilities before you pay and commit to an event. If you only have a 10×10 display setup, a church fair with 6×8 spaces will not work for you if you don’t know beforehand the needs for your event. This is also the time to check for electricity needs and tables and chairs. I have had my own personal mishaps here and unfortunately had to stand up for two hours until we could get chairs to the event.
  • Most importantly, be sure and check the HISTORY of your event. Its important to know who your customer is. Most events will bring in a variety of customers with a variety of spending ranges, but more than 60 percent will spend a certain amount. So, if possible, try to do a walk through or check the host website for info or pictures of the previous years events. If you cannot determine price points for the event, just make sure to have a wide range of priced items so you have something for everyone.

When I follow these simple rules and ask the vendor a few questions after a little research, I usually find success at my shows.

So now you have chosen the venue, what the heck do you do now?

Once you have selected the event, now you must prepare. The presentation you make always (and I mean always) determines how much time, if any, a buyer will spend at your table. Buyers at craft fairs have tons of eye candy. What will draw the customer to your table?

Can the customer see from afar CLEARLY what you sell? I cannot stress enough the need for clear product identity. People are walking around looking at everything, how do they see you stand out in the crowd? I have seen customers walk into craft fairs and make a B-Line for the biggest display in the fair. Why?  Because they can clearly see the item they are selling. Check out these examples of clearly defined craft displays.

display Photos provided by Aunt Matilda’s Jewelry Box

http://auntmatildasjewelrybox.com/
http://www.etsy.com/shop/AuntMatildasJewelry

display (7) Photos provided by Aura Rose Treasures

http://www.etsy.com/shop/AuraRosesTreasures

The next step to a successful show is business identification. Who are you? Having business cards, postcards, pens, price tags, or anything that has your business name and a way to contact you in the future is ideal. A small banner with your business name and/or an 8×10 frame with your website and contact number is a great idea. A lot of us in the craft industry live on custom orders. Providing a portable and/or memorable way for customers to remember your information is key. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Tons of Etsy friendly designers and printers are located right on Etsy. Just search business cards or banners. Most of them are much cheaper than large printing companies.

banner displaybanner2

Photos provided by Bears Graphic Design http://www.etsy.com/shop/BearsGraphicDesign

These are the basics to finding your way through the muddy waters of surviving and being successful at craft fairs. A lot of handmade business owners make their bread and butter from craft fairs. However, it all depends on your market and your customer. Sometimes craft fairs are really just marketing events which is not a bad thing. I have had several fairs that I have attended produce very lucrative business later on after the fair. Customers always say, “Oh I got your card at that fair you were at in November”, etc. So try to gage your success on more than just sales at the event.

Thanks for listening and we look forward to hearing your comments and other tips you can provide about your successes at craft shows. As always, email and questions to glittergazette@gmail.com

Till the next time,

Kisha Crooks
The Glitter Gazette
glittergazette@gmail.com

More Places to find us!

Follow my Pinterest Board: http://pinterest.com/dkflorals/the-glitter-gazette/
Our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/165561310249846/

A few other websites and blogs with great craft show tips.

www.craftshowtips.com
http://www.designedbysarah.biz/2011/09/ultimate-craft-show-handbook.html
http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2010/craft-show-display-tips-must-haves/

Branding your craft Part 2–Facebook Ads, Friend or Foe?

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Greetings Crafters,

 

Since the age of social networking, we have seen the world of advertising change quite a bit. We no longer race to put ads in the paper or spend thousands to put up a bill board. Today we race to our emails for coupons, check our FB pages for sales postings and tweet everything. With so many social networking outlets, it all seems to be like mud, very clouded and thick. There are a million pages and accounts to have, groups to join and, last but not least, the ever growing blogosphere. We are going to take a look at the most prominent of these avenues and evaluate weather it can work for your business or if your efforts should be elsewhere.

FACEBOOK facebook-like-icon

Over 800 million users are on Facebook everyday. We use Facebook for everything; to plan events, to stay in touch and most importantly to SHOP. Since the invention of social networking, we have changed the way shoppers spend their money. No more waiting in eternal lines, no more sales ads. Today, we are using coupons on our phones and buying Group-ons with our girlfriends for a Mani-Pedi, and all by email or text.

Facebook has several uses that can aide in growing your customer base. The most simple options are to host a Facebook page to share information with your customers. Second, you can create a Facebook group to teach your customers how to use your products or to have a special customer discount group, like your own personal Sam’s club.

You can promote these Facebook pages by running an ad campaign. Make sure that once you have created your Facebook Fan page that you have established your identity. It is important that your web identity has a cohesive look. After all, once the customers start to click like, they will be looking at everything you are on the web. The message needs to be clear to establish trust with your new potential customers. Check out part 1 of this blog series for more info. Facebook offers two types of ads: Likes Ad and Likes Sponsored Stories. Lets take an in-depth look at each.

AD TYPES

Facebook Likes Ads are designed to introduce a new audience to your business page. As you see below, these are ads that are shown on the sides of the page. These ads are shown to the customer group you select, and their success is based on choosing the right customers. For instance, for our own business, we chose women, over 30, in the entire US. You can even select income and interests. Our first ad campaign which ran for over 60 days provided over 350 likes for about 100.00 spent. That is beyond cheap for advertisement and the opportunity to get in front of a potential customer everyday for FREE.

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The second option would be Likes – Sponsored Stories. They are designed to to display ads to friends and family of people who have already liked your page. A lot of people notice what their friends or family are paying attention to. Not to mention, if your friends or your mom like a product page, potential customers are much more likely to attach to your page simply from association. Sponsored stories are known to attract more likes. However most people run both ads simultaneously.

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These ads are pretty easy to setup, but they use terms that we may not all be very familiar with. Here are the key terms that you really need to know and understand to complete your campaign properly.

Daily Budget– This amount determines how much money you will spend per day on your Facebook ad.

Cost Per Click (CPC) – This is the cost amount for each time a customer actually clicks on your ad or sponsored story. This option is really for advanced users who expect a certain return on your investment or you are very certain your specified customer is making a purchase. This is often a more expensive option.

Cost Per Impression (CPM) – This is the cost amount for each time your ad is seen on Facebook not clicked on but viewed. By default Facebook offers their ads by impressions. You are basically paying for the amount of people that see your ads. This is VERY key because if you identify your target market correctly, this can turn into a lot of likes and followers.

Campaign Schedule – By default the schedule is set to run continuously, so unless you want your ad to run indefinitely, you much uncheck this button. Once this option is unchecked you can set a schedule for your budget as seen below.

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TARGET AUDIENCE

So over and over again you are going to hear me express the importance of your TARGET audience. In about every business, no matter the product, you have a specific audience you are speaking to. It’s a total waste of money to target your ads to everyone (for example, the 16 year old boy who could care less about wedding jewelry). That’s who you will be wasting your impressions or clicks on if you don’t narrow down your audience.

GETTING STARTED

Overall, Facebook Ads can bring you a greater audience to speak to, and they also help grow your audience, as Facebook now allows for shares of things your current viewers like. This gives you more exposure, which, after all, is what we are all looking for. Facebook allows us to have better business relationships too, which over time always means more loyal customers and long term sales.

Quick Starter Tips

1. Set a modest budget:  Don’t spend more than you can afford.

2. Set your target groups:  This may take a few minutes to think about. Use your past sales as examples.

3. Set an END date:  If it works, extend the campaign, and if not, only a modest investment has been spent. Nothing like the hundreds and thousands we spent on mail outs, flyers and radio ads in the past.

 

Good Luck All! Check in with us next time for Branding Your Craft Part 3, The Road to a successful craft show! As always, if you have any questions regarding this topic, email us at glittergazette@gmail.com.

Branding your craft. Part 1.

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Greetings Crafters,

Over the past 10 years that I have been actively involved in the craft business, I have collected many tools and ideas to build my business brand. I launched Divine Kreationz over 10 years ago, and back then we sold 5 orders per year. Now, we sell over 250 Homecoming Mums per year, over 1200 pee wee mums and dozens of boxes of supplies. Over 75 percent of these sales take place completely online without ever speaking to a customer. We ship nationally and internationally. I built this business from the ground up, and, like many of you, I didn’t have a lot of money, but I did have one skill that most did not. My background is in technology, so the technical aspects of creating an online business were not foreign to me. Below are a few of the tips I used to build Divine Kreationz into what it is today. Today we are DK Florals, and not only do we specialize in Homecoming, but we also specialize in occasions of all flavors. One of our new locations on the web is now Etsy. Check out or store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/DKFlorals. I hope some of my tips help answer questions you may be having about being in the online craft industry. This is the first post in a series about being a professional in an industry that most consider hobbyists. Please feel free to email us about additional topics you would like to see at glittergazette@gmail.com.

Four basic steps to starting your craft brand.

Audience.

The craft business is known for being born out of a simple hobby. You made one for your friends, two for your cousins and “Bam”, you’re opening a business. When transitioning from hobby to business, it is important to realize that a successful craft business will require the same effort that Apple or Honda put into their marketing. Your craft business needs a niche; in other words, you must know who your customers are. Are they women, men, or teens? Are you targeting stay at home moms, the elderly, day cares, hotels? Who are you speaking to? The united states is populated by over 500 million people, and they are NOT all your customers. Decide the who your audience is and chase those customers first. Believe me, narrowing down your customer base not only gives you direction but it also makes advertising much easier, not to mention cheaper.

Vision.

I know this seems extreme, but vision simply means deciding what your business stands for or what you do. When I started my spirit business I wanted to sell everything (we can make everything, we can do everything…NOT so much). Narrowing down your product offerings and sticking with a distinctive line of products makes things crystal clear for your customer. At DK Florals, we are a silk florals business. We specialize in occasion based floral designs. Our vision is simply designs for every occasion. We use this because we offer several lines all occasion based. We list it under our business name. Between our business name and our tagline\vision, it’s clear what we do and for whom. This is what your vision needs to say for your business.  It says this is who I am and this is what we offer.

Web Identity.

In this day and age, everything we do is online. The most successful businesses in the world are known for their identity. Apple, Microsoft, Target. None of these are craft businesses, but once they all were small business that no one knew about or believed in. I know that most of you have heard the phrase “dress for success”. This applies to your business identity as well.

From Facebook to your website, your customers only see what you show them. When they visit you online at your Etsy store and\or check out your Facebook, they should be able to see the same company from one to the other. Do your logos match? Do your pictures have the same background? Do you have a clear professional identity? Take a moment and think about what you buy online. We are all skeptics; we are looking for the cleanest, most professional website. We want to make sure we are buying from a reputable source.  Consistency is key here as your customers expect the same. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune, as there are plenty of Etsy and Facebook web designers that are cheap and specialize in craft design.

I host my blog through WordPress.com they offer free services along with paid. I host my website with netidnow.com, they offer several packages from the novice to the beginner at very reasonable prices for web hosting and ecommerce. You can do a simple Etsy search for several Etsy graphics artists. I have been using Bears Graphic Designs (she is an Etsy seller also). Vanessa offers reasonable pricing, with a custom touch.

For example my company DK Florals carries a similar look on each selling platform you find our brand.

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Photos.

I cannot stress enough the need for what I like to call professional-ish photos. It doesn’t matter what you are taking a picture of, but it does matter HOW you take it. You do not have to be a photography professional to take good pictures. You just need a decent camera (8 mega-pixels or better) and an area that is either staged for the product or a simple blank background. You always want to use the same type of staging environment over and over again. It shows consistency. Take pictures of your products in use. If it’s a wreath hang it on a door. If you are a fashion designer or seamstress, use live models.Your customer needs to believe you run a professional business, so you don’t need your kitchen table, your husbands hand or your kids toys in the background. The key to taking pictures again is natural light and a clean setting.

You may also watermark your photos for protection, but be careful with your watermarks. It is meant to protect you, but a huge watermark can also hurt you. Protecting your work is always key but also keep in mind not to let the protection over power your product. There are tons of free tools available for editing pictures that are simple to use. Picmonkey.comoffers editing and collages on their site for free, however they do not offer storage of these files. Picasa is Google’s free web editing application. It offers simple photo editing and an picture organizer for all of your photos.

Personally I use both of these, Picmoney is great for collaging your photos but Picasa is better suited for editing the actual original photos. This also means you have media read photos available at all times. When bloggers, advertisers, and craft fairs call you will be ready in a flash to send them photos of your product.

Picmonkey.comallows for easy and simple photo editing and the best part for FREE! Below there are some screenshots of the Picmonkey interface.

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Go to Picasa.comto download this FREE software.

Check out this link below to see a video from the Etsy staff on how they look at staging products and what Etsy and bloggers might be looking for in a Etsy or online seller. http://livestre.am/4alW1

Using some of these simple tools will allow give you the building blocks to create a craft brand. Starting a business can be daunting, starting an online business can be even more tiresome. If you keep in mind the details that you use when you are shopping, you can easily see how to refine your business identity. Once you build this foundation your company can go anywhere. You can build anything on a solid foundation.

Sign up for to follow our blog to catch next weeks topic. Facebook Ads, Friend or Foe? How can social networking grow your business?

Follow our blog and join our Facebook group for more elaborate details into each one of these topics and many more. If you have questions or need free guidance on any topic feel free to email your questions to glittergazette@gmail.com.