Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Handmade Overhaul: The way things look!

Since opening my Etsy shop in 2009, I’ve seen a pattern of lots of sales in November and early December, and trickling sales the rest of the year. Most people associate my cup cozies with cold weather, but they can be very useful on cold drinks as well. They soak up condensation, keep your hands warm, and come on – CUTENESS lasts 365 days a year. Still – they just don’t sell that well during the rest of the year.

I would like for my shop to be more of a year-round business, so I’ve put together a plan of things I want to do to make this happen. Time will only tell if it’s successful! Fortunately, I am open to changing my mind in the middle of my plan and trying new approaches.

I’ve already written about introducing new products, improving my photography, expanding shop promotions and discounts and updating my shop banner.

Today, I’m going to write about updating the look and use of my blog, Twitter and business cards.

My blog needs a major overhaul. Look, content, organization. Phew!

· I have long pondered whether I wanted to continue with my current blog, or to come up with an Etsy-only focus, or to start a new blog entirely. One thing I knew was that if I wanted a blog to help promote my shop, something would need to change, because only a handful of people ever looked at my blog and even fewer commented.

· I finally decided to keep the same blog but to give it a new name, look and organization. I recognized that I am not going to be able to maintain an Etsy or Craft or Design ONLY blog – and honestly, I wouldn’t be happy running a blog that way. I’m not saying blogs with a singular focus aren’t my thing – I LOVE reading them – but I’m just no good at that sort of thing. I also want to use this blog to promote my shop and other people’s great stuff . . . but I want people to get to know ME, not just what I make or think is cute. So I’m keeping all my old entries and I encourage you to browse them when you’re looking for something to read. You’ll find a mix of things from social justice musings to what I planned to do on my stay-cation.

· I have ideas swirling around in my head, and have several lists and files on my computer of colors, images and “messages” I want to get across with the look and layout of my blog. I’m really not expecting to take the blog world by storm, people. But I’ve been studying blogs and what people seem to respond to. I’ve asked myself if I even LIKE those approaches, and how might I incorporate something like that, but in MY way? Sometimes what is really successful for someone else is just NOT MY THING. But even those things give me ideas.

· Right now I don’t have a deadline for the new look of my blog, but I want it to be “soon”. Honestly, what’s holding me back right now is time and money. If I was content to wait forever, I could work on things here and there, and in 9 months or so, come up with a badass blog look. I’d prefer to to turn things around much sooner than that, though, and I think I’m going to need some help. Which is where the money comes in. I probably need to find a graphic designer who can help translate the ideas I have into a blog header and overall a look that I’m happy with, but that costs money. I don’t have much of that laying around right now. So I’m kind of stuck, and taking time here and there to try to find the right font, whether or not I need to learn how to use Picnik, etc. It’s kind of overwhelming. Another reason I hesitate to work with a graphic designer is that I am just REALLY picky. I would hate to go back and forth and back and forth with someone, and still not be satisfied. I know there are people out there whose job it is to get to the bottom of what a customer wants and turn that into great banners, cards, buttons, etc – but man, I am just really picky! I also hate to tell someone I don’t like what they did, and if I already paid for their services, I might end up using something I’m really not happy with just so I won’t look like a jerk. So, yeah. Not sure what to do.


· Twitter I’m actually not too worried about. Once I get the new blog look, my Twitter page will be based on it.

Business Cards

· The business cards will also follow the blog.

· I’ve been using Moo cards, but am going to look into other vendors to see if they offer the same for less, because Moo is kind of pricey. They’re great quality, though. I use the Mini Moos and people are always impressed with the cute little size and the image on the back.

· I need to have more cards on hand, and hand them out liberally!

· I should also include more cards in my order packages so customers can pass them out to people they know.

· I need to include some blank space on them so I have room to write in discount codes for returning customers.

· What other ways can I use my business cards?

Have any ideas to share for blogs, Twitter or business cards?

Keep an eye out for upcoming posts detailing my plans for:

~ Becoming more a part of certain communities like Twitter, the blogging world, my local handmade community and my local Etsy team ~

~ Using my Facebook more effectively for community building, brand building and promoting great shops, artists and deals to my “fans” ~

You can still enter the giveaway at the Wattlebird blog to win 4 of my cozies! Annie's hosting other giveaways this week, too - check them out!

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