9.25.2009

Getting Ready for the Holiday Rush!!


The Holidays are rapidly approaching! For those of us in the handmade world, there's no time to waste! We need to make sure that we are ready for the upcoming rush of buyers who will start shopping with us via our on-line stores or visiting us at a local craft/art shows!

Below are a few tips that I try to do in starting my planning for the upcoming holiday rush. I thought I would pass this info along to you so that you can start your planning as well!


1. Sit down and think about what products you want to offer, especially those in the holiday line (if you offer themed products). If you've offered holiday themed items before and found them to go over well with your customers, be sure to offer those again. Also, be sure to create new holiday items for those who are return customers looking for something new!! Spend time on designing and creating these items...the extra time and attention to details in these items will be important to buyers since many of these items will be given as gifts to friends and family over the next few months!!

2. As always, market and advertise your business!! You can't wait until the middle of November or first part of December and try to get your business noticed for the holiday season. I am already getting requests and orders from people who are starting their buying early to help spread the cost of the holidays out and not get hit real hard with all the buying! START NOW with your holiday advertising and products! I bet if you take a look around at the big retailers, the Christmas sections are already starting to appear!! ;-)

3. If you don't offer gift certificates or gift cards, consider offering these! You can quickly make your own! I have found this to be a great addition to my store since some customers were having a hard time picking just the right jewelry out for their friends and family. The gift certificates allow them to give a gift, but allow the receiver to get something they want!

4. Make sure your store is stocked and ready with a big variety of items. More choices is always best this time of year!! Also, assure your customers that you can work with them to create the best gift and assure them that you can meet deadlines, etc., that they might have or need. Be flexible, patient and understanding of your customers. It will go a long way during the holiday season!! Also be sure to have plenty of shipping supplies on hand. Running out and delaying the shipping process during this time won't be good for your business.

5. Relax, have fun and try not to get overwhelmed and lose the spirit of the holidays! We know it is can be a difficult time of the year trying to keep up with everything and meeting customer demands. It is a stressful time for our customers as well in trying to find the perfect gift. Offering good customer service will no doubt win you a repeat customer.

The items listed above are just a small list of things you can do to get ready for the rush of holiday shoppers that are about to hit us! Getting prepared early will be a good gift to yourself!

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

9.03.2009

Give To Get...Have You Considered It?


Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to provide 65 earring gift packs to be put in the celebrity gift bags for the world premiere of Tyler Perry's new movie "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," which will be in New York City next week. In case you aren't familiar with Tyler Perry's movies, he writes and produces his own material based off the character of Madea (who Tyler himself usually plays!). "Diary of A Mad Black Woman" is probably the best recognized movie he's created!


When I got the email from the PR agency handling the event and got their request, I was overwhelmed with excitement, but then overwhelmed with the task as I have had less than 48 hours to design, create and package all these gifts to ship in time to NY for the event!


In talking with some friends and colleagues, their immediate response is "how much are you getting paid for that?" And when I tell them nothing, they all but yell at me! But I'm completely content with it! Here's why...


I am getting the opportunity to put my jewelry in the hands of celebrities and some potentially amazing customers for a very small investment. I am also getting the opportunity to say that I've had my jewelry included in celebrity gift bags for a world premiere movie event. Both of these opportunities for some businesses will never happen or would cost businesses thousands of dollars! So why wouldn't I take this amazing opportunity and have fun with it and promote my business?! I'd be stupid if I didn't!


So if the chance to give your handmade goods ever comes up, take the opportunity!! Whether it is on a local scale for a charity auction or on a bigger scale like for a movie premier...take it! You don't have to do it all the time, but it does make for some great PR and usually only costs you a few dollars and some business cards!


Give a little to Get a little...consider it for some great PR for your business!!


Until next time....Blessings!! ~ Dawn

8.17.2009

Facebook Does Make a Difference!

I had read several posts on various craft forums about using Facebook to help promote your business. I read good posts and bad posts. Still I wasn't sure if FB would do much for my jewelry business, but I thought I'd try it. It wasn't going to cost me anything and it was easy to use!

My on-line store is done through Etsy and recently they added a feature in which you can publish your new listing to your FB page instantly. I've been using this feature and it has really helped gain exposure to my jewelry. I have over 300 Facebook friends so when I add a new items to my store and then in turn publish that info to FB, I am getting another great advertising tool for FREE!

By adding my listings to my personal FB page as well as to my FB business page, I am creating more exposure for my jewelry. Since adding my links to my personal FB page, I have gained more sales and have opened my jewelry line to an entirely new audience that otherwise might not have seen my jewelry. Friends and family who didn't know I had a jewelry business now do and they in turn have been sharing my links with their friends and family!

So when someone asks me what I think about using FB for business, I say definitely use it. It has opened doors for my business and helped me reach more customers!

Let me know how using Facebook has helped your business! And if you want to add me as a friend on FB, feel free, the link is on the side of the blog!

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

7.23.2009

Know Your Market!!!

For those of us who have on-line stores, sometimes trying to get them noticed is a full-time job it seems! But when the hard work we put in to our stores pays off with sales and gets us noticed (whether the attention is good or bad), it's then we realize why we do what we do and why we continue to create beautiful handmade items!!

Lately, I've received some feedback from the redesign of my store logo and new tag line for my business. If you would like to see my new logo, you can visit www.shadesjewelry.etsy.com. It's nothing special, rather plain as some have put it, but I like it! It clearly represents my store and what I do.

But the tagline I have added (stylish-unique-affordable) is what is causing some to raise their eyebrows at me in the big internet world! Not that first time it has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. Some are saying that I'm not being fair to the creative world in offering my jewelry at such low prices and that I shouldn't have the word "affordable" in my tag line. When I receive these comments I simply back and laugh. Having had my business for 6 years now, I must be doing something right to continue to receive sales and interest in my jewelry!!

It is then that I proceed to share why I sell my jewelry at the prices that I do. A lot of my business comes from my off-line promotional work. I have several repeat customers that are friends and family and they like my affordable line of jewelry that I offer. They like being able to get something handmade and that is one of a kind, but without breaking the bank.

The area in which I live is one of the poorest areas in the country. We have lost hundreds of jobs and what most make in this area who work full time is well under the poverty level believe it or not! And since I have no major plans to quit my job and do jewelry designing full time, I feel that I can offer my jewelry at lower prices to recoup my cost and put a few cents in the bank afterwards! I realize that many in the handmade world are creating their items to supplement their incomes and to live off the profits. I commend those who do this!! But I'm not one of them.

Jewelry is a competitve market these days. And I take nothing away from the many who create it and sell it for much more than I do. Only YOU can know your market and what you can get out of your jewelry. If you can sell your bracelets for $20-$50, then I encourage you to do so. But my market won't pay that for my jewelry!!

In closing this article, I want to encourage you to know your market. Ask your customers why they shop with you. Is it price, quality, customer service, a combination of all these?! Once you know your market, you can advertise your business more effective to them and begin to stand out in a crowd. Then you can stand firmly on your response to those who may want to critcize or claim you are hurting your particular handmade items by advertising them as "affordable!"

And in return, figure out why a person markets themselves as they do...especially before you criticize them or get upset at them for pricing their work as they do. All of us who create handmade items have a different agenda in mind with our stores. Let's all celebrate those differences and do what we can to support the handmade idea in general!

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

7.21.2009

Leave a Comment Today and Win!

Decided to have a little fun today with my blog! Anyone who reads through my blog and leaves a comment today (7/21/09) on any article, will be registered to win 3 pairs of earrings!

Just a little break from all the writing and a way to say thanks for reading and looking through my articles and leaving me some feedback!

Blessings, Dawn

7.08.2009

New Store? Try Multi-Shop Advertisements!

We all remember when we first opened our on-line store. We feverishly created new merchandise, posted the items, then waited for the buyers to come. But when the buyers were slow in coming we realized that we needed to advertise our business.

So we did our homework, found the best advertising we could, and then realized that the best advertising wasn't in our budget. With only a little money in our pockets for advertising we quickly realized that getting a nice size, high traffic ad was going to be a little harder than we thought.

For some business owners, finding out that you don't have the extra money to compete with effective ads can be discouraging. But it doesn't have to be. Have you ever considered talking with some other store owners to see if they would be willing to do a multi-shop advertisement with you? A multi-shop ad lisiting is a creative way for small business owners to compete and land highly visible ads in this big advertising world without breaking the bank!

To start this process, browse the ArtFire and Etsy stores. Make a list of 3 or 4 stores who offer products different than what you offer. Then, talk with the store owners and find out about their business and if they would be willing to do some shared advertising. You will probably find that most store owners are open to this type of business venture and will gladly listen to your ideas. Getting a nice, large size ad on sites with lots of traffic (without breaking the bank) can prove to be beneficial in advertising your business.

Once you have decided on doing a multi-shop ad, remember to keep the development of the ad simple and easy to read. Every store involved must be clearly represented and given an equal chance of being seen. Ads that are cluttered or hard to read could discourage readers, making your ad uneffective.

Multi-shop ads are becoming a highly effective and easy way for handmade businesses to reach new customers. Network and find some new business owner friends and start your advertising adventures together. Supporting each other and succeeding together will be a fun adventure on the road of being a handmade business owner.

Until next time..Blessings! ~ Dawn

6.24.2009

I'm Back...

After a few weeks of writing for www.handmadenews.org, I have decided to step down from that position and get back to what I enjoy...and that is helping other small business owners and crafters with their businesses.

I was asked by the President of ArtFire to write and share my insights with their website and I was happy to do that. However after I got started I realized that I know longer wanted to be involved with their great project and that I wanted to get back to what I enjoyed. I encourage all of you to check out www.handmadenews.org and read the articles. There is lots of great information on a vareity of topics and I'm sure that will continue!

Over the next few weeks I am hoping to get my new Etsy group up and running, which is for several states in and around Ohio. With this group, we hope to get craft business owners together to share insights in to running a business and have a chance to talk face to face with other owners in small round table discussions. These meetings may also have a guest speaker on various topics important to business owners and crafters. This project is very early in its development, but I'm truly excited about it and hope that it can bring together the craft world to share ideas, thoughts and help small business owners grow their business more.

Any thoughts, ideas or comments you might have are always welcomed and appreciated! If there are topics or questions you would like to see covered on this blog, just email me at shadesjewelry@aol.com and share them with me.

Thanks for sticking with the blog and I look foward to reconnecting with you all again!

Blessings, Dawn

6.08.2009

Find Your Niche...Then Market

My new article has been published at www.handmadenews.org!

Please check it out....http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=1347

Feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and vote for my articles if you find them helpful! As writers we need your feedback! ;-)

Thanks and have a great week!

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

6.02.2009

Teaching As A Marketing Strategy

New Article on Handmadenews.org! In this article I share with you how teaching a class on your craft is a great way to market your business! Enjoy!

http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=889

Please leave feedback or comments on articles! We appreciate it. You can also vote for the articles if you like or dislike them! As writers, we need your feedback!

Thanks, Dawn

5.19.2009

Add Products Often...

Hi Friends...

I have a new article on www.handmadenews.org. Here is the link.... http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=893

Seriously, check out this site if you have a handmade business. There are tons of articles on various topics that will certainly benefit your business greatly. There are also advertisers starting to appear on the site that I'm sure you'll also want to check out. Maybe you might want to advertise your business there?! There is a link for that on the site so check it out!! And even if you don't have a handmade business, check it out anyway! Maybe something will help you with your business or turn you on to a new place to shop! ;-)

Thanks for reading and until next time...Blessings!!!! ~ Dawn

5.13.2009

Effective Advertising Strategies Article

New Article at www.handmadenews.org! Please check it out, leave comments and vote for me! I'd certainly appreciate it. I have new articles going up there almost every other day and will be doing a feature article real soon!

Today's article is on Effective Advertising Strategies for your handmade business! Here is the link....http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=737

Also be sure to check out the advertisers as well! That's what keeps our site going!

Thanks and many blessings! Dawn

5.12.2009

Demonstration Marketing Article

Hi Friends...

Just a quick note to let you know I have a new article on www.handmadenews.org. Here is the direct link...please read and leave your comments! Let us know what you think of this great new site full of information designed to help you, the small handmade business owner!

Thanks, Dawn

http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=823

5.08.2009

New Article on Handmade News

A new article has been posted at handmadenews.org. Hope you will check it out and tell your fellow craft friends about it as well!!

http://www.handmadenews.org/article/index.php?id=738

5.07.2009

Follow Here or Follow There!


Little did I know when I started sharing information about marketing, advertising and promotions for handmade businesses via this blog that it would lead to other ventures, but it has! I'm now a columnist for another site (read on!), I'm starting a street team on Etsy to get store owners together to have face to face discussion about their handmade businesses and the list goes on!

While still fairly new to Twitter (and still not sure if I like it or not), I've met some interesting people along the way and have gained almost 400 followers in just the three weeks I've been on there. One person whom I met via Twitter suggested I venture over to http://www.handmadenews.org and check out the site and see if I would be interested in becoming one of their columnists in their marketing section. I went and checked out the application and decided I'd apply, but thinking the entire time, there are more qualified people out there and I'm probably waisting my time on this, but I'll try it. I had to update my resume (thank goodness sister is a Certified Professional Resume Writer for over 20 years) which I did, supply a writing sample and answer several other questions. I hit send and thought, ok, end of that, move on and forget about it.

Well, that wasn't the case. A few short days later, I woke up to an email from one of the sites VP's saying that I had been selected as a columnist for the site. I honestly thought it was a joke, but it was true. I was pleasantly surprised and humbled that I'd been chosen among the hundreds of applications I know they received.

I appreciate each and everyone one of you who follows me on this blog. I will continue to post links to this blog which will be for the articles I am writing for Handmade News. The articles for that site will be on marketing, advertising, promotions as well, so nothing will change!

And if there are topics, questions or things you would like to see articles on, please don't hesitate to contact me anytime. I'd love to hear from you! Email me at shadesjewelry@aol.com or leave a comment here!

Again, thanks and I look forward to more handmade business blogs with you!

As always, Blessings!! ~ Dawn

4.29.2009

Pricing Your Creations - Do What Is Best for You


This is a subject that hits different nerves in each of us who have our own handmade businesses. And this question is the one I get asked the most about. How do you determine your prices?

My on-line business is different for me than for most. When I decided to turn my hobby in to a business, one of the first things I determined was it was a hobby for me, something I did on the side after my full-time job. It was then and still is today this same way. I don't ever plan on making it my soul source of income. I don't want to have to rely on my selling of jewelry to survive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it is wrong to live off your handmade business!! For those of you who can, I applaude you. This is simply a decision I chose to make for my business! I see my business as a way to support my beading/jewelry making habit and to also give back to a couple charities that I support.

In pricing my items, one of the biggest contributors to my price is the market/region in which I live. I live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the county in which I live (Athens Co., Ohio) is the poorest in the state. Several of my customers (even though my business is on-line) live and work in this area. In knowing this, I decided to create jewelry with quality materials, that is stylish, trendy and affordable for everyone.

Many find it hard to believe that I produce the jewelry that I do and price it as I do. I have several tell me that I don't charge enough, that I make it difficult for other jewelry designers to get more for their items that are comparable in design/materials, and the list goes on. But on the flip side of those comments, I receive feedback from my customers that is completely opposite; "what a great deal for such quality," "love buying from you because I get something that is one of a kind and is well made but doesn't cost a fortune!"
When I get the criticism, I immediately tell them why I do this and that it is my goal to provide quality that is affordable. Jewelry for many is a "luxury" and I want everyone to be able to afford it, no matter what! People are looking for good deals, especially in today's market and I am doing what I can to reach out to those who want to "splurge" on themselves, but still have a little money in their pocket!
Does that make someone else's creations not worthy of the price they charge? Absolutely not!! We are designers/creators/artists in many different formats and we create items that you can't find in "big box stores." We use our hands and our home studios to create items that are personal to us that we want to become personal to those who purchase them. And because of this, I encourage all of you to be able to justify why you charge what you charge when someone decides to criticize or question it.

So to answer the question, "what should I charge," I will answer it this way. Do what works for you. If you are doing this full-time and making a living off of it, then make sure you are covering the cost of your materials, your time, etc. If not, and you simply want to pay for your hobby, then price according to that. It is different for each of us and I believe there is no easy answer to this question unfortunately, other than do what is best for your business and stand firm that your creations are personal, unique and deserving of the price you are asking, no matter how high or how low!

Now, go create and have fun! Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn


4.13.2009

Leaving Your Mark on Various On-Line Sites

I've noticed through Google Analytics that lately, several hits to my Etsy store have come from the Relay for Life website. Your probably wondering why, so let me explain a little.

I donate a portion of my sales to the American Cancer Society. I don't really advertise that I do this, I just quietly give back. I decided to do this when I started my business because cancer has affected too many in my family and also too many friends and I felt it was important to give back, much like I give to my church. I've been blessed and I pass it on. While it's not a lot, it is something and every little bit helps towards finding a cure for this terrible disease.

I've participated in Relay for Life, been a team captain and more for the past few years as well. I posted probably two years ago on the Relay for Life site about creating a Cancer Awareness bracelet that our team was selling to help raise funds. And since that time, I still get hits from that post to my website and now on my Etsy store. I had no clue that sharing that idea would lead to exposure for my site. That certainly wasn't my intent when I posted the idea on that site!

Posting to various websites, leaving blog comments, etc., can lead to more exposure for your business. While I thought my personal post on this forum board was just sharing a fundraising idea for our Relay team, its turned out to be a lead for my store and I still get several requests from people wanting to purchase these bracelets or have special orders of these bracelets in certain cancer awareness colors.

Keep in mind when you are posting blog comments, responding on message/forum boards, using the forums section on Etsy or any other type of on-line media outlet, you are leaving your mark and therefore, you are probably going to be driving traffic to your store.

Make sure that when you do this, your posts are relevant, pleasant, and make the reader maybe want to find out more about you and you store as well. Don't ever leave rude comments or post something negative about a competitor on these types of posts either. That just makes your business look bad.

Next time you go to post, give it a couple of minutes of time and put some thought in to you. You never know what it might lead to! :-)

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

4.02.2009

First Facebook, Now Twitter!

Social networking is certainly on the rise! I must admit that it took me a long time to finally jump on the Facebook bandwagon for several reasons. But now that I have, I'm glad. The personal side of it has allowed me to reconnect and stay in touch with so many family members and friends.

But, the business side of it has been great as well. Adding my store link to my personal page introduced my business to about 90+ people who had no clue that I designed jewelry and owned my own business. They have emailed me about it, checked out my site, joined my mailing list and better yet, have made purchases! It has also introduced me to some new friends and "fans" on my business Facebook page that I also created.

If you haven't take the leap yet in to the social networking scene, I would encourage you to give it a try. It doesn't require a lot of your time (ok, it could if you let it, but don't!), its very easy to use and it can introduce you and your business to an even bigger audience!

Have fun with it and enjoy spreading the word about your business with the social networking site that are available! If you already do Facebook or Twitter, share your success stories with a comment below and also share your site! I'm always looking for new sites and friends! ;-)

Until next time....Blessings! ~ Dawn

PS...the link to my facebook page is on the left side of the blog page and if you would like to "follow" me on twitter, that site is: http://twitter.com/shadesjewelry

3.25.2009

Is your Signature Line Set-Up?

It is one of the easiest things we can do to send out a "free" advertisement for our business, but I bet there are many out there who don't use this easy to use function on their email! How many of you currently have your "signature" line set-up so that every time you send out an email, your name and business name and website appear at the bottom of those notes?

If you don't have this feature set-up on your email, I want you to stop reading this blog and go set it up! You are missing out on a great opportunity to share your business with your family, friends, co-workers and more!

Have you ever forwarded an email, whether it be something funny, serious or thoughtful? Ever notice how those continue to just be forwarded with most of the content from each email still there? Think how many times your "signature" could be seen if you do this.

Now, I'm not encouraging you all to go out and start forwarding everything that comes in to your email box just so you can get this information out there! We all know how we feel about too much of this type of stuff. :-) But, in the event that you do pass something "good" along to your email list, make sure your signature is on there in case someone you sent it to gets the urge to forward it!!

My signature line is rather simple and I will admit that I change it from time to time to keep it interesting and different and to pique interest! Here is my current signature line...

Dawn Rhodes, Owner

SHADES
Stylish-Trendy-Affordable Jewelry
http://shadesjewelry.etsy.com

The Joyful Bride
Making Wedding Planning a Joyful Experience!
http://thejoyfulbride.etsy.com

That's my current signature line that goes out on every email that I send out...whether it be personal or professional...it goes out! Now I encourage all of you to go and make sure that your signature lines are set-up and actively going out on all your emails...you never know whose reading or shopping!!

Until next time....Blessings! ~ Dawn

PS...yes, I did take on another business venture with "The Joyful Bride." :-) I handle all the marketing/advertising and day-to-day operations for this new business. Great, new product. I also have a wedding coordinator background and do that work some with my "day" job! We have a new blog for that business as well http://thejoyfulbride.blogspot.com. Thanks for checking it out!

3.16.2009

Three Things to Remember for Any Business...

I saw this post the other day while reading through the Business Topics on the Etsy Forums section. It immediately caught my eye and I asked the author of the original post if I could share it with my blog readers because I felt it was some great information!!

This was written by the owner of NeatThings who has her store on Etsy at www.neatthings.etsy.com. I encourage you all after reading this artcle to check out her store as well. She has some great products like mini note cards (great for thank you notes!!) and cards and much more that could be helpful in your store!!

For now..here are three things to remember for those of us in business....

1. It doesn't matter if people hate you.
Some people are going to love you and your shop. Some people are going to hate you and your shop. If you're me, some people might want to kill you in your sleep and never see any reference to your shop again. At the end of the day, who cares what people think? The ones who love you will buy things. The ones who hate you will talk about how much they hate you to other people, some of whom will love you and buy things. It’s win, win all around. So be yourself and everything will be just fine.

2. If you blame the economy for your business failure, you'll never succeed in business.
I mean it this time. If business has slowed down and you're looking at the DOW and deciding that the economy is to blame for your failures, you might as well close up shop now. Sure, the economy may contribute. But other businesses like yours - on Etsy and off - are moving product. If it really was the economy's fault, no "luxury" good would be selling to anyone.Instead, take responsibility for your business. Look at those businesses that are selling. Figure out a way to promote or rebrand or change something about your business instead of blaming your failure on something you cannot control.

3. Artists complain, business professionals act.
You can bet your bum that Warren Buffet didn't become the "world's shrewdest businessman" by whining to the world about how horrible things were when he was getting started. Steve Jobs didn't whine about having only 3% of market share, instead he created a new product that became an empire (iPod, iPhone, iEmpire).Sure. Sometimes things are going to get you down and you might want to vent a little.

But if this becomes modus operandi (i.e. happens more than once per year), you're going to trap your tail in the great spinning wheel of failure.If failure isn’t an option, next time you're tempted to complain, think. Solve the problem. See if you can improve your situation in some productive way that doesn't involve burdening others with your misery.

You can either be buried by your problems, or let them catapult you to great achievements. The choice is yours.

Everything she has shared with you in these three points is very accurate! The success or failure of our businesses is entirely up to us. We need to remember these things and act accordingly when they arise! :-)


Until next time....Blessings! ~ Dawn

3.13.2009

Sisterhood Award - Nice Way to Start the Weekend!


Since it's the weekend I thought I'd take a little break from the "norm" and share this post with you...

Thanks to KayzKreations for giving me this award and for the nice comments she gave me regarding this blog.This is my first "award" for my blog! ;-) It is my pleasure to share this blog with all of you and hopefully help you along the way with your businesses as well.

Thanks again to KayzKreations for thinking of me! Be sure to check out her Etsy store while you have some time this weekend! http://www.kayzkreations.etsy.com
Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

3.11.2009

I did it...I joined Facebook! Free Marketing!


I took the plunge and joined Facebook last week. I hadn't joined before now for several reasons, but after getting 8 invites to join from friends and family in one week, I said that's it, and joined.

I'm not addicted to it like my 19 & 15 year old nephews are, but it is interesting and I have reconnected with lots of friends and family from all over the country so that has been cool!

What's also been neat is that I added a link to my Etsy store and my Etsy mini is also on my box page and since adding these, I've noticed on my analytics that I've received several clicks to my store from my facebook link! So I have added yet another fairly easy marketing tool for my business by having this page. :-) Not bad!

While I can't say I've gained a sale from it yet, I have however exposed my shop to all of my friends on there (90+ as of today) and given my store another audience to promote to. Many of these people were unaware that I did jewelry or even had a store. Much like a mailing list, this keeps your name and products in front of your family and friends and whenever they are looking for jewelry or a gift, they will hopefully remember me and check out the store!

You can also set up a business page on Facebook, but I haven't explored that option yet. Right now, I'm content with what I have on there and don't want to get too bogged down with more and more things to keep up with. :-)

So if you haven't joined, consider it! And if you have, make sure you have your store mini or website link on your site! It's free promotion and that is always good!

Until next time....Blessings! ~ Dawn

PS...you can add me as a friend on Facebook if you want....there is a link to my profile on the left hand side of this blog! :-)

3.09.2009

Putting Your Small Business on my Resume?

If you watch the news at all these days we all hear the same things, job cuts, recession/depression, and the list goes on. It's hard not to know someone these days who isn't looking for a job. My sister, a 20+ year certified professional resume writer is probably one of the few people these days who has seen an increase in her business. Revisions to old resumes, people who have never needed a resume because they've been working 25+ years are now needing one and the list goes on. It's really quite sad at times and my heart goes out to those going through this.

I have had people ask me personally and I've also seen this topic in various forums about should I or shouldn't I use my small business on my resume. My answer to that (and also my sister's answer) is most definitely YES!!!!

As we all know, running a small business like we do is not easy. For most of us, we are the only employee and we are left to run every aspect of the business. We are the owner, designer, marketer, accountant and much more.

Using this information on your resume, even if its unrelated to a job you might be applying for, can tell your potential employer a lot of about you. It can show creativity, diversity, a wide spectrum of experience (marketing, advertising, customer service) and much more. It can also be used as a conversation starter during an interview. It could lead to a lot of different and good things.

So to those who might be looking for a new job go ahead and put your small business on your resume. Show a potential employer that you bring more to the table with your small business experience than most would! Set yourself apart and stand out in a huge crowd these days when it comes to applying for a job!

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn

3.02.2009

Quick Update on my Absence

Hi Everyone...just wanted to send out a brief note and let you know that I haven't been neglecting my blog. My health kind of got in the way.

I got sick last week and ended up in the hospital for a couple of days. Nothing real serious...just severely anemic and caused my heart to race a little bit. Received some blood and a strict warning from the doctor about slowing down and am now on some healthy doses of iron to get "built back up!"

I hope to be posting again in the next couple of days for you all! In the meantime, keep working on your businesses and if you have any questions or things you'd like me to respond to, let me know!

Blessings, Dawn

2.23.2009

We Never Know When An Opportunity Will Happen

I wanted to share this story even though I've talked to you before about the importance of always being ready to wear or market your work and have those business cards available as well!
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Over the years I've made jewelry for my mom and my sisters to wear. They are some of the best advertising I can ask for and they carry my cards as well. My oldest sister was wearing one of my creations the other day in her office. I told her that I should take that piece back from her because I could probably sell it and we had a good laugh about it.

Later that day a client stopped in and my sister said she noticed her starring at her necklace. The client asked her about her necklace and complimented her on it and she told her about me. She told her that she wanted to talk to me because she wanted to see about adding my jewelry to her store. My sister gave me her email address and we've chatted and it looks like my jewelry will be added to her store soon.

That same evening my sister stopped at a gas station out of town after going to dinner and she was still wearing the necklace. The lady working the counter commented on the necklace and told her she loved it. My sister told her who created it and she gave her my website and the lady said she'd be getting in touch with me. And she did!

So with one piece of jewelry, I've gained another retail location and a sale.

Are you always wearing your products (if you can) or sharing your work with others? If not, you should be! This is some of the best marketing and advertising that money can buy you! A little time invested in materials and creating the item is all you are out. But what it could gain in return is going to be more than worth it.

I encourage you to always be ready with your merchandise and also your business cards. Opportunities can happen when we least expect it!

I wanted to share this with you all as a friendly reminder to always be prepared and always market/advertise whenever you can! I've talked about this with you all before. Be bold and talk about your work. And find others who will talk and share your work as well.

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.19.2009

Home Shows - A Few Tips

I've had some email questions about home shows lately so I thought I'd take this post to share my thoughts on them.

I think home shows can be a good way to advertise your business. I have done a few and have always found them to be a good, relaxing, no pressure type of situation to share what you do with a small audience. They are usually easily done with little to no cost to you, so that's always good! Getting some good advertising without breaking the bank never hurts!

Here are some tips and ideas for this type of show that you might find useful...

1. In sending out invitations for home shows I always make sure that I send out all the info on the event myself. I never leave that up to the hostess. I want to make sure that all the materials that go out have my logo on them and match my other business items such as business cards, labels, etc. I ask the hostess for the names/addresses of those she wants to invite and I take it from there. A week or so after the event, I usually follow-up with a brief thank you note and a business card enclosed and thank them for coming and let them know that I will extend the discount offered at the show until a certain date via my on-line store as well.

2. In my invitations I stress that this is a relaxed time away for them with friends and food and a chance to see some jewelry at the same time. I don't want them to feel pressured to buy anything. While we'd all love for them to come with their checkbooks and cash to throw at us for our merchandise, we don't want them to feel they have to do that. Making the guests feel at ease and give them a chance to have some time out is always a good way to address your show.

3. I always talk to the hostess and see if she wants to offer food. Most of the time the hostess has already thought of this or is willing to handle this aspect of the event. If for some reason she isn't, then ask her if it would be ok if you brought food. Having some type of light snack/finger food is always good at these shows. It's always a good way to get people socializing and talking at the event and food usually does that with people!

4. To start the event, I usually say a few words and thank them for coming to the show and encourage them to get some food and a drink and relax and enjoy the time. I thank the hostess for inviting me in to her home and allowing me to share my jewelry with her and her friends. I tell them a little about my jewelry (keep it brief!) and also throw in that if they are interested in making a purchase that night I will give them a discount on their purchase. I tell them to browse and if they have any questions, feel free to ask. I leave it at that. I don't pressure them, follow them around, etc. I let them enjoy their evening at their leisure.

5. Try to have a nice variety of merchandise and also offer different price levels if you can for your items. Since you may or may not know everyone in attendance, this gives you a chance to "reach" everyone there. Making attractive displays or groupings of your merchandise is always good as well. Be selective as to where you set up and make sure you have plenty of lighting and space for everyone to browse. Clustering up in a small room or having poor lighting could hurt your event so seek out the best place possible for your show. Arriving early if you aren't familiar with the hostesses home will help!

These are just a few tips and suggestions for doing a home show. If you do home shows or have done them in the past, feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with the other readers in your comments.

Home shows can be a good marketing tool for your business in your local market. Even if they don't purchase that night, you have at least gotten your name out there and connected with those in attendance. This could lead to purchases in the future!

Good luck if you decide to do a home show or if you do them regularly! Let me know how it works out for you!

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.16.2009

Re-Evaluating What We Do - A Lesson Learned

Lately I've received a few emails asking me how many craft shows I do each year. The answer is....ONE! The only reason I do one anymore is because it supports the high school I graduated from and it has always been a successful show for me, mainly because its labeled as a "gift show" rather than a craft show and it happens right before the Christmas shopping season starts and most people are looking for quality gifts and are ok with spending a little more on something at this type of show than most!

I quit doing craft shows about three years ago. Not saying they aren't good events or worth doing for some artists, I've just found for me that they aren't really my target audience.

In my first two years of designing and selling jewelry, I felt this was the only way for me to get name out there and sell my jewelry. I found while doing these shows though that more and more people would walk by and look at my jewelry and say, "oh that's nice, not in my price range though," "beautiful work, don't wear jewelry," "can't afford it" and many other words of wisdom. Upon hearing those words and realizing that I was loosing money in doing this type of event, I decided it was time to stop and find a way to get my website created or find a way to sell on-line. Spending about four weekends a year or more at these shows, lugging my merchandise, tables, displays, etc. and spending 6-8 hours each day at the booth, I quickly changed my mind and thought there has to be a better way to sell my merchandise! There has to be a better way to invest my time and money!!

So I took all that energy (good and bad) and worked hard at continuing to sell my jewelry to friends and family that were familiar with my business until I had saved enough to get a website designed for me. Also during this time I did some research on-line and began absorbing all the info I could on small business marketing, jewelry business marketing and more. Once I got that site established, then I really started looking at my own marketing and advertising because having that site made me feel like I could "compete" in business. Having that site then lead me to opening my store on Etsy. My website is still up, but its now basically used for advertising and directing customers to my new store on Etsy.

My point with this post is that I took a step back from something that really wasn't working for me and decided to invest that time and energy in to other resources that I felt worked better for my business and helping me spread the word about my jewelry. I realized the craft show circut in my area wasn't a good target audience for me. They were looking for cheaper items or more bang for their buck and that's ok. There are tons of crafters and small businesses that find this IS their target audience and do amazingly well at these shows! If you are one of those people, I encourage you to stick with it and you have all my support!!

But if you've been doing these types of shows (or some other type of marketing) and you find yourself leaving at the end of the day exhausted and no money to show for it, then you might want to reconsider this. Take this time and energy and do a little research. Find other ways to market or advertise your business that are more effective in reaching your target audience.

Don't waste anymore of your time, money and good energy on things for your business that aren't working. As I've written before, spending a little time researching how you are marketing/advertise your business could be the best investment you make in it.

Remember to take a few minutes each day to "evaluate" things!

Until next time - Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.12.2009

How Do You Treat Your Customers?

I stopped by my sister's office briefly tonight before I came home to give her some papers she needed. She has owned her own business for over 20 years now; she is an award winning Certified Professional Resume Writer and has been published in numerous books. In June of 2008 her husband retired with 30 years of service as the Director of Printing at Ohio University. Since he was only 48 he wasn't really ready to "retire," so they expanded part of my sister's business that already existed under a seperate name from the resume writing service. They do custom printed clothing, promotional products of all kinds, engraving, trophies, plaques, banners and lots of other fun stuff!!

As I was in her office, a customer came in to pick up his order. My sister had just shared his story with me before he came in to the office. He'd stopped by their office earlier in the day as he was upset with a nationally known company that he'd went to here in our town to get some work done for his business he is starting. He explained to my sister that the magnetic signs he got from this company were the wrong type of magnet and caused damage to his truck when he tried to take them off. While the damage was minor, it was still a major problem and this company basically took an "i don't care" attitude with him. They offered no compensation, no refund on the defective product...they did nothing! So as he was leaving town very upset, he drove past my sister's office and decided to stop to see if they could help him with the right type of magnetic signs for his truck.

My sister assured him that they could provide him with the right type of sign for his truck and that they could have it for him later in the afternoon. And while he was in their office, he discovered they could also do his business cards for him. He left their office a happy man and returned in the late afternoon to pick up his signs and business cards and was thrilled.

He thanked my sister over and over again for the wonderful customer service they provided and said he would definitely be back to order some other things from them. He also said that he would be telling other people about their business.

BINGO!!! Just what every business owner wants to hear! A customer that is happy and goes out and tells everyone else about your business...some of the best advertising you can get and it is FREE!

Taking care of our customers is extremely important. We all know this as business owners because without them...we don't have a business! :-) As small business owners, its even more important that we go out of our way to take care of our customers and make them feel special and encourage them to return to our business and also tell others about our business. And taking care of them doesn't always mean giving them something extra, it can simply be a smile or a friendly email that let's them know you appreciate them and want them to be completely satisfied with their purchase!

So let this be a friendly reminder to you...take care of your customers! Show them why dealing with a small business is a good thing! We never know when the "big guys" might mess up and we might have to clean up after them!

Until next time ~ Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.10.2009

In Marketing Overload Right Now?


Lately I've been seeing several business owners on various sites and forums talking about how they are overwhelmed with having their small business. Running a business isn't easy, that's for sure, and its especially hard when its just YOU to do EVERY aspect of the business!

One of the main areas that most business owners seem to be struggling with is the marketing. Marketing isn't easy that's for sure, but it doesn't have to consume every second of your business time either! And I see that happening for more businesses more and more and that's not good!

Upon seeing these posts and reading the emails I receive about how I do my own business marketing there is one common factor I see for those who are overwhelmed. They are trying every concieveable type of advertsing and marketing they can get their hands on because someone else suggested it or it worked for another business.

If this describes you...do me a favor...STOP what you are doing!! :-)

I'm not telling you to stop marketing your business!! I'm simply telling you to take some time and thoroughly study all the areas that are available for your business to be marketed or advertised in. You are overloaded and stressed right now because you think you have to do everything everyone suggests and that's not always the case!!

You need to do a little homework before investing your time and money in to advertising. Make a list of all the types of advertising you see talked about, such as twitter, myspace, facebook, artfire, project wonderful ads, personal blogs and blog ads, and the countless other resources that are available. Then find out how they work. Who is reading those sites, who is seeing those pages? Who is already advertising on those sites? Is it a busy site? Where will your ad be placed? Will your blog you write attract readers?

Once you have done this research, then seek out the best advertising for YOUR business. What works for Pete's Pottery in Yazoo, MS might now work as well for your custom candle creations in Topeka, KS!! :-)

Invest a little time and money (if paid advertising) in a couple of "ads" or "promos" at first. Give them time to work. Think out well thought ads or posts for these sites. Read other blogs and see what makes them interesting and makes people follow them. See how these few "investments" go for a little while. If you don't feel they are working, then you might drop one and pick up another marketing idea or ad in another outlet.

Trying to do everything you read or see talked about when it comes to marketing your business is what is overwhelming you and makes you feel like you can't handle running your own business. You can run your own business, you just need to think it through a little bit and make wise marketing/advertising investments that will HELP you!!

You can't possibly keep up with all these sites, ads, blogs and more and still have time to create, list new items, handle the paperwork, package and ship your items and also have time to go the bathroom, among other things.

That's why taking a little time to do some research and find marketing outlets that will best market YOUR business effectively will pay off in the long run with more time to do the other aspects of your business and also bring in the sales you want and need.

Until next time - Blessings! ~ Dawn





2.09.2009

Business & Marketing Review Service

I thought I'd take a few minutes and provide some more in-depth information about this new service I am beginning to offer for small businesses. I think some are thinking this is just a quick "shop" critique and its more than that as you will see below!

To start the process, we will send you a brief questionnaire. It will ask a few general questions about your business and what you are currently doing with your business in order to promote it along with some other general questions which will allow us to fully look at your business as a whole. This will then give us the chance to give you a full review of your business from your store to your marketing to how you ship your products and more after receiving your responses!

This is more than just a quick "store" critique. This is a chance for us to review your on-line blogs, ads, off-line marketing techniques and more and give you recommendations and suggestions in to your business as a whole.

If you are looking for a full in-depth review of your business and how it is working, then this service is for you!

Still have questions about this service? Feel free to contact me at shadesjewelry@aol.com!

Thanks, Dawn

2.08.2009

New Service Being Offered

Just a quick note to let you know that I am now offering a new service for small business owners! Notice on the right side of the blog that we are offering small business reviews! After some requests from business owners and wondering if I would do personal reviews of their businesses, I decided that I would offer this service for those interested.

I'm currently offering it at a low price of $30 for a limited time. I feel this is a great deal as I will spend at least two hours or more reviewing all the information you give me on your business and I will then prepare the report which will give you detailed information regarding your business. This is a reasonable rate for probably 3 or more hours of work! :-) But I wanted to keep it affordable!

Feel free to email me with any questions regarding this new service! shadesjewelry@aol.com

Until next time...Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.07.2009

Developing A Class

Wanted to send a quick update to let everyone know that I'm continuing to work on developing a class or seminar type event to host for small business owners. My goal in offering this class is to make it a very casual, relaxed and affordable time in which small business owners can receive information that will be useful and helpful in helping their business succeed.

I feel that this class should be a learning time in which you will receive lots of information that will be helpful and useful in marketing your business. There are tons of wonderful ideas and resources out there and my goal is to compile this information for you and present it to you in a fun, exciting way!

I would also like for this class to have a question and answer time in which all of us can sit around and share additional business information and ideas. Having a chance to talk and network with other business owners is important and this class will give you that opportunity.

Having been in and around small business management and ownership for over 15 years with my sister's business as well as my own, my goal is to try to help others and bring small business owners together in a relaxed, fun format to share ideas and thoughts with other like-minded individuals!

I hope you will consider answering the survey below in the previous post if you haven't already and share your thoughts and suggestions you might have about this class!

Thanks for your interest! Until next time, Blessings! ~ Dawn

2.05.2009

A Business Survey - Answer & Win!

With this survey, I'm hoping to find out just how much of a market there is for a small business marketing/advertising/promotional type seminar. I've received emails and convos from several business owners (through Etsy and other sites) who have said they wish I would offer a class or seminar on this so they could talk and interact with others and find good resources and ideas.

I've recently partnered with my sister's business which sells promotional products of all types and also does imprinted clothing (t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) and does some work on logo design, etc. and we thought together, we could offer small businesses a great opportunity to get items they can use in their business, without breaking the bank! They can get special pricing on items and can also do on-line presentations of items you might be looking for and email it directly to you! This is a great time-saver and money-saver as well!

With this I would also be sharing some of the information like I've covered on my blog, but of course, this would be a little more in-depth and there would also be some additional information not covered!! We would also offer a time of questions and answers and a time to network with the other business owners in the class.

I would like to keep this in a very low-key, low-pressure setting that is relaxed and fun! I also want to keep the price down and affordable because we all know as small business owners, times are tough!! I would be traveling to some area cities that are larger and easily accessible by highway or plane, and be at hotels that will offer great rates with nice accomodations, in towns such as Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, KY, Lexington, KY, Nashville, TN and possibly others if there is enough interest!

Please copy and paste the following questions in to an email and then give me your response to each question. You can write as little or as much as you would like! Please email your response to: shadesjewelry@aol.com. I appreciate you taking the time to help with this!

Everyone who answers will be automatically entered in to a drawing in which you will receive a gift card worth $25 for my Etsy store and the opportunity to attend this seminar for FREE!!

SURVEY

1. Does a small business marketing/advertising seminar sound like a good idea for your business?
2. Would you be willing to travel (and how far) to an event like this if it was cost effective?
3. What type of detailed information would you expect to receive in this class?
4. What would you be willing to pay for this type of class (seperate from your lodging/travel expenses)?
5. Does having access to promotional products as part of this class sound good to you?
6. Please share any other thoughts, ideas or questions you might like answered regarding this seminar...

1.28.2009

Yet Another Day....

I don't think I'll ever wish for enough snow again to get me out of a day of work! I am well in to my second day off and by the looks of things, I'll be here again tomorrow.



We ended up with about 1/2" of ice on top of our 5" of snow last night. We woke up to rain this morning that then turned to snow around lunch time and we got about another 1/2" of snow. Tonight though, with the clear skies and snow pack, the temperature is dropping to the teens and everything is freezing hard!!

This storm that has caused so much damage has now cleared out, but they are telling us we could get another inch of snow tomorrow night in to Friday morning! YUCK! We are blessed that we have free heating gas at our home (perk of having the well on your property) so we can heat and cook and we are doubly blessed that our power is still on! And we have a great neighbor who cleaned all the driveways on our road with his four-wheeler!

My sister and her family however lost power around 6am this morning. They are part of the estimated 20,000 in our county that are without power. Fortunately for them they have a very well built and insulated home and in 12 hours their house only dropped about 8 degrees inside! But, as the temps drop tonight and with the electric company saying it could be Saturday before their power is restored, they are making arrangements to leave the house. They are bringing my youngest nephew (10 yrs) down here to stay with me and my other two nephews (19 & 15) are staying with my other sister and her husband. My sister and husband thought they would try to stick it out in the house tonight and if necessary, go to their business and camp out in there. Their main concern was getting the kids out, getting a hot meal since they can't cook and help occupy their time since they've played all the board games they can today!!

So that's been our crazy life for the past couple of days and it looks like another day at home for us on Thursday. I can honestly say I haven't been as creative today as I was yesterday, but that's ok. My nephew will most likely want to create something when he gets here so that will be fun! I've posted a couple of pics from our yard and you can see a couple of pieces I've created on my etsy store site at http://shadesjewelry.etsy.com.

My lesson for the day...becareful what you wish for...you just might get more than you wanted! :-)

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn

1.27.2009

Creative Day--Just What My "Business" Ordered!!


I GOT MY SNOW DAY!!! My boss sent me a text message at 5:30 this morning and told me to stay put---the roads were too bad and he had shut down the office for the day!! So after getting that note, I got up, fixed some coffee, curled up on the couch with my blanket and watched the news for a little while and of course, drifted back to sleep!!


After a little breakfast and a quick shower, I was off to create! It was so nice to be able to get out my supplies and take my time looking through everything and finding items I didn't know I had. Ever find that sometimes you are in too much of a rush to get some items created that you don't take time to really go through your supplies? That's pretty typical for me, but today that wasn't the case! I got a lot of the supplies sorted and put away in storage containers and got re-organized once again as well today! That's always a plus!

Once all that fun was done, I began creating! So far I've designed two bracelets and two pair of earrings. I have the beads out though on my work space to create much more tonight. ;-) I'm sure there is at least a couple of necklaces and earrings that will be made tonight, maybe more, who knows!

The night is young and by the way it sounds outside, I could be home again tomorrow!! It's been putting down freezing rain for almost two hours now and the ice is starting to accumulate on top of the 5" of snow we have right now. :-)
Remember to always take advantage of any free time you have to create or organize. It will really help you get re-energized about your business and give you a boost you need!

Until next time--Blessings! (And maybe a snow day!!) ~ Dawn

1.26.2009

Praying For a Snow Day!

WINTER STORM WARNING!!

I'm sure that title has you wondering what in the world I'm talking about. I thought I'd stray just a little bit from some of my normal blogs and have a little fun!

Talk about a flashback to my childhood! Growing up in southeastern Ohio, snow days were a big deal when we were in school. And we've certainly had our share over the years. My neck of the woods is a rural area that is just south of Athens and Ohio University. Even though I'm a mere 10 minutes from town, getting our roads cleared out in the "country" is sometimes a major task!!

Now that I work full time, getting snow days doesn't happen anymore it seems. My boss is however very understanding about my living outside of town and my road not getting cleared real quick and I sometimes have to come in to work late. I appreciate that very much.

Tonight though, I sit here praying for a snow day tomorrow as we are under a winter storm warning from now through Wednesday night. They are calling for our area to get anywhere from 4-8" of snow and then an ice accumulation late tomorrow in to Wednesday before possibly getting a little more snow on top of the ice. I'm really hoping that we get enough snow that my boss calls me and says stay put! Although I do understand that getting that much snow and ice causes problems for others and I hate that. Let's pray for a compromise!

Most of you are probably wondering why does she want a snow day? A day off and stuck in the house means that I'd spend the day creating new jewelry!!!! Why wouldn't I want a snow day?! While I enjoy my job, a day or two off stuck at home with the snow would be just the ticket for me!! ;-) I could sleep in a little bit, enjoy some coffee and then hit my design area and "play" all day. I could play with my beads, polymer clay and even my torch and work on new jewelry designs....that's almost like being a kid again in a lot of ways!! A full day of creating would be a great boost in helping me get my store stocked too. I'm half way to my goal and maybe after tomorrow, I'll be a little bit closer!

While the snow hasn't started yet, the radar is telling me that its on the way! How much we get remains to be seen at this point. I won't know until the alarm goes off tomorrow morning. What would be even better would be a text message from my boss saying enjoy your snow day!

Try to always have fun with your business!! I'm hoping I get to do just that tomorrow!!

Until next time--Blessings!! ~ Dawn

1.21.2009

Thanking You!!

When I decided to start a blog a couple of weeks ago I had no idea how it would be received. Would anyone want to read what I had to say? I'd had several people on the Etsy forums tell me that I needed one to share my marketing/advertising/etsy site help info. But I put it off.

When the convos and emails kept coming I decided I needed to start one. And in the couple of weeks that I've been writing and sharing some of my successes, you all have been reading and commenting. I wrote in a previous post about thanking my customers and it hit me tonight that I owe you, my readers a thank you as well...so....THANK YOU!!! ;-)

Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for the kind words. I hope that you are finding the information helpful and useful. I will continue to try to help you in any way that I can.

I'm writing tonight to let you know that I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to write me anytime with your questions or situations you might like some help or advice on. I'll always do my best to help you or find someone who can!!

You can email me at shadesjewelry@aol.com anytime! I wish all of you the best of luck with your stores or small businesses that you have!! Let's keep helping each other and building a great network of friendships and amazing stores to shop in!!

Until next time....Blessings! ~ Dawn

1.20.2009

A Personal Thank You...


Sunday, after I returned home from church, I was going through my Etsy store and realized that my first sale happened almost a year ago this week. That first sale came in less than 24 hours after I opened my shop and added the first few items. Talk about a surprise...it certainly was!!

Thinking back on that moment and how excited I got that someone clear across the country had seen my item and wanted it, I immediately smiled. In fact, I still smile whenever I receive an order! I decided that I wanted to personally thank each buyer that I've had in this year. Crazy I know, but they each made my first year on Etsy special and I felt they needed to be told that.

And that's what I did. I sat down with thank you cards and sent each buyer a card and included my business card and a special coupon as my way of saying thanks for making my first year special. It was a long process and yes, each card was hand written, but they all went out in the mail today. :-)

They took the time to look through my store and spend some of their hard earned cash with me, taking a few minutes to say thanks to each of them was the least I could do I. Several of them have become repeat buyers, other were one time buyers. Whatever the case, they all got thanked!!

I hope they each know that I truly appreiciate them and their business. I plan on keeping up the thank you card tradition, only this time, I'll send them a couple of weeks after the purchase. Just another personal way to show your customers you care and want to keep their business!!

If I get any response from the thank you cards, I'll be sure to share it with you all!

Until next time....Blessings ~ Dawn

1.19.2009

I Was Creative!! Wait, I am all the time! :-)

Most of you are probably thinking, big deal, she was creative, isn't she supposed to be? She is a jewelry designer and creates jewelry. :-)

That's true! But for almost two weeks I've been in a creative block. I would think about getting my supplies out and would think, no way, I'm too tired, I can't tonight and I'd do something else like posting in the forums, updating the store or designing ads. Then I would go to work the next day and think to myself, tonight when you get home and after you get dinner taken care of, you are going to get your supplies out, sit down at your table and create.

Those nights turned in to a week and then that week turned in to another week. But tonight, that changed. I got my supplies out and sat down at my table and the creative streak came back. It felt good to get back at it. It was good to look at all those beads and colors and dream! In the couple of hours I created, I completed 3 pairs of earrings and 4 bracelets!!

Sometimes I wish all I had to do what just sit and create jewelry. I wish someone would buy the supplies, keep track of the inventory, post the items to the store, take care of the advertising and marketing and most of all, the invoice and tax junk!!! ;-) But unfortunately, I'm all those people in one as I'm sure most of you are as well!

Sometimes those things get in the way of being creative. That's ok though. Don't look at being all those people as a bad thing and not being creative. Embrace it. The experience you are gaining in running your own business is invaluable. You are learning to be more self confident every day and have a deep self respect. At the end of the day when you lay down, you can look back and see everything you did. And think of it like this and you will surely smile....you were the Chief Operating Officer, the Treasurer, the Marketing Director, the Advertising Department, the Sales team, the Chief Designer and so many other titles!!

Can everyone else who works every day lay down at night and say they were all those things today? NO!! So while the creative process sometimes gets interrupted, that's ok. We are still learning and being creative...just in other ways!! :-)

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn

1.18.2009

My First Year on Etsy - Thank Goodness For the Forums!

This week I am celebrating my first year on Etsy with my store. I can't believe that a year has passed since I decided to open a store for my beaded jewelry.

Within a couple of days of posting a few items to my store, my first sale came in and I was totally blown away! I thought, how cool, someone from clear across the country saw this item and purchased it. Isn't it amazing how getting these orders from all over the world suddenly makes you realize its not that big of a place in some ways!! ;-)

In this first year of my store I've learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people. Learning the way things work on Etsy has been an adventure. I had only been a buyer a couple of times for some supplies when I opened my shop. While I had my own website, the way it worked was totally different from Etsy and I was a little nervous about the entire process at first. I had a lot of questions. That's when a friend from my Ohio Beaders group that I belong to told me to go to the forums section on Etsy. She was a store owner and was the one who encouraged me to open my store.

She told me all about the forums, how posting in them could make a difference in my store or what an abundance of helpful information was on them. Once I found them and started reading all the posts with all the different topics, I found a great wealth of information on them. From marketing tips, to general help with setting up my store to thousands of other topics, the forums section became like a new store owner's guide for me!!

When I see new store owners posting in the forums these days and asking all kinds of questions, I always try to encourage them to spend some time in the forums. Familiarize yourself with each section and what gets posted in each. Then browse the topics. You will see that not only do store owners post, but you'll also notice that some buyers post in there as well. The information you can get here is invaluable and the best part, its FREE!!!! Finding something for free these days is tough, so take advantage of this!!

I'm very active in the forums and I make sure to spend a few minutes there each day. Sometimes before I realize it though those minutes turn in to an hour or more, but I find that its always worth it because of the information I receive. I feel that this is really an investment in my business. I encourage everyone to make this investment in their business as well. I think you will find it well worth it--especially when there is no cost!

Go click on the community button at the top of the Etsy home page, then click on the forums button...you'll be glad you did! ;-)

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn

1.15.2009

Not Feeling Creative!!

Ever have one of those moments when you know you should be creating something, but you just don't feel like it? I'm having one of those weeks!! Each night this week as I left my full time job I told myself that I really needed to go home and work on some new jewelry. Have I done it? Not really! I've managed to create a pair of earrings and bracelet this week so far. Not very good for business is it?? ;-)

I guess I need to get "inspired" and get to crackin' on creating some new items to add to my store. Lord knows I have plenty of supplies that are just screaming at me to design something.

As soon as I post this blog I plan on getting out some of my bead books and magazines and browsing the gorgeous work that appears on the many pages. I find this is one of the best ways for me to get inspired to create again. I see the unique designs and creations and think of new ways to re-create those designs or to use the color combinations. Or I'll look at some of the techniques they've used and I'll try use those same techniques that maybe I've haven't used before.

Not feeling creative is not a good thing for those of us who design and create of all types of crafts! But that does happen from time to time. We hit a creative block and must take a little time away to refresh and get re-energized.

I shared with you what I sometimes do to get creating again, why don't you share with the rest of us what you do when you get the same way! I'm sure we will all learn some great tips and ideas to get inspired.

Until next time--Blessings! ~ Dawn