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[74] 5 Key Steps to Setting Up Shop Online

If you are still on the fence about selling your handmade goods online – or, you’ve started the process but don’t really know where to go next, this episode is for you. In it, I outline 5 important steps you need to take in order to set up your online store successfully.

With my flagship ecourse – Set Up Shop – opening for registration next week, I wanted to give you a taste of the sort of content we cover in the course, as well as giving you 5 concrete steps that you must take in order to start setting up a well-planned online store.

These 5 steps are just the tip of the iceberg, but they will stand you in good stead – whether you’re just starting out, or looking to revamp your online presence.

If you’d like to join me for Set Up Shop, registration opens next week! It’s a 30-day intensive course, during which I’ll teach you all the steps you need to follow in order to set up an awesome online shop for your craft (no matter what venue you want to sell on).

Click here to find out more about the course!

 

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Decide where you are going to sell
  • There are so many website providers and online venues that it can be overwhelming to decide where to sell.
  • There is no one size fits all.
  • You should have your own website and you should have your own domain name to keep professional.
  • 2. Work on your photography
  • Once you change from hobby to business you really need to be thinking about your photography.
  • Photography is super important in order to attract your customers.
  • 3. Brainstorm your keywords
  • The title of your product and the first few lines of the description are the most important places to have keywords.
  • A keyword is a word or phrase that people will put into a search bar to find something.
  • When thinking of keywords you need to put yourself in the mind of the customer.
  • 4. Think about shipping
  • Will you be shipping domestic, international or both?
  • Never undercharge for shipping – you need to ensure you are covering these costs.
  • 5. You need policies
  • You need to have clear and up to date policies to protect you and be up front with customers.
  • Your policies will always develop as your business grows.
  • Read the policies of established businesses to get a good idea of what you should cover.
  • Registration for Set Up Shop opens next week! Click here to find out more.

 

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(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[73] Handmade Holiday Biz Checklist 2016

I know it’s only September, BUT – for those of us in handmade business, the time to start thinking about the holidays and Christmas sales is now. Why? Because it takes a lot of time to get prepared for the Christmas rush, and by getting ready early, we can ensure we’re organised, stocked up, and don’t miss any potential opportunities.

No matter how many years you’ve been in business, it is worth setting aside a bit of time around the beginning of September to plan your holiday strategy.

How? Well, that’s exactly what I’ve got for you today. I’ve created a checklist of the most important tasks and steps to take in order to have your best Christmas sales season yet.

Sound good? Right on! Let’s make this the best sales season ever!

P.S. If you’ve been around since this time last year, you may remember the body of this podcast from then – this week’s ep is a replay (with new intro and end) of the core content from ep 20 last year. It’s such useful content that I wanted to replay and highlight it again for you, and for all the new listeners who might not have gone back and found it!

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

I reckon the checklist is enough for you to be getting on with this week – so download the image and/or the pdf printable version below!

I go into a lot more detail about each step in the podcast (including sharing a few stories where I got these things VERY wrong and learnt my lesson the hard way).

Please feel free to share the image of the checklist below wherever you’d like – Pin it; share it on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram; email it to a friend; print it out and stick it on the noticeboard at your local craft shop or cafe – whatever! – and help other makers get prepared for their own holiday sales.

(If you want a pdf download of this checklist, make sure you’re subscribed to the C&T mailing list, and you can then access the Handmade Business Toolkit here.)

 

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(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[72] Stop Focusing on Number of Sales and Start Focusing on the Numbers That Really Matter

Do you find yourself focusing on the ‘number of sales’ you (or others!) are making as your main metric of business success?

It is easy to compare yourself to others based on the number of sales made – but I’m here to tell you: this is not a helpful way of looking at your business.

You should always be celebrating your sales and be always thankful for them – but the bare number of ‘sales made’ should not be the measure of how successful your business is. Success is not just about money, of course – but even when we do look at the numbers, this is not the best one to focus on.

If you focus on the number of sales you are making in comparison to others you really need to take a step back. Do not compare. Your business is not their business.

A more useful and accurate measure of ‘success’ (at least, financially speaking) is the profit you are making – both per sale, and overall.

In this episode, I explore this idea, and hopefully, I can help you to shift your thinking away from a focus on number of sales, and towards profit per sale, instead.

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Keep in mind that an Etsy shop (or other venue) may only be one aspect or one slice of a person’s business. It is not a full view of the person’s business!
  • The more sales made, the more time is taken in administration, packing and shipping.
  • Product crafting is only one part of what you do.
  • Next time you look at a shop and lament on their sales – take a moment to consider all other aspects.
  • A better way to look at is by asking yourself what is their average price per sale?
  • What is your average price per sale?
  • This is a much more accurate view of success.
  • If you double your prices, and halve your sales – you are still making the same amount of income, for half the work!
  • ‘Most customers are not going to come along and scroll through your sales history.’ {Jess}
  • Focus on great products, customer service and fantastic reviews as customers will be looking for this.
  • There is nothing wrong with setting goals for number of sales – a more profitable goal, though, will be financial – a certain amount earnt.
  • There is more freedom in this, and financially it is what you should be focusing on.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[71] Why You Should Treat Social Media Like a Cocktail Party

In this episode, I share a helpful little analogy that will guide you through your interactions in the world of social media.

The fact is this: you cannot be part of every conversation that happens online. So often, when we start out, we feel like we should ‘keep up’ with all the conversations happening. We feel the dreaded FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – and it can stress us out!

Instead, I encourage you to think of social media like an eternal cocktail party. You can catch snippets of people’s stories and their lives, but it is never possible to always keep up with everything – especially as your networks expand.

In this episode I outline the do’s and don’ts of working the crowd in this virtual cocktail party.

 

 

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • ‘Social media is like an eternal cocktail party that is always going on.’ {Jess}
  • ‘Let go of that fear of missing out, because it is impossible to keep up with everything.’ {Jess}
  • Remember they are real people, which can sometimes be harder than it sounds online.
  • Have a party pitch ready. A short snappy way to introduce yourself.
  • Be quick, interesting and engaging.
  • Don’t just sell all the time. Would you do that at a cocktail party face to face?
  • Be a real person and be human.
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. You don’t have to be perfect.
  • Think about how you can be educational, informative or inspiring.
  • What parties are your ideal customers going to?
  • Which social platforms do you and your ideal customers use and feel comfortable using?
  • You need to find the right party and then be there to network and socialise.

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

PicMonkey Vs. Canva – What to Use When in your Handmade Business

 

Do you use PicMonkey or Canva? Have you tried them both and decided that one’s your ‘thing’ and you just don’t get the other one at all? And even though you love a whole bunch of things about the one you do use, there’s some tasks that you can’t do in it and it just frustrates you?

They’re quite different beasts for sure – and the difference really stems from their purpose. PicMonkey is aimed at everyday photo-editing – so it covers all your basic edits plus filters and overlays (including a few special tricks especially designed for correcting/enhancing photos of people), whereas Canva is aimed more at producing graphics that are suitable for a range of digital and print applications such as images for social media and blogs, infographics, special document layouts, letterheads, business cards, posters, etc.

In both systems, you can upload your own images, layer things, and alter their transparency to create interesting texture and effects. Both allow you to do basic edits to photos, adjusting qualities such as brightness, contrast, saturation and more, and both offer a range of pre-set filters.

But as you’ve no doubt discovered, each platform has its limitations.

So, have you ever considered using them in tandem?

PicMonkey to do the the things that Canva can’t, and vice versa? Their capabilities are quite complementary, if you’re looking for cheap/free image editing solutions. I’ve put together a summary of the best points of each, as well as some of things I find the most limiting/annoying.

Also, I’ll mention that in each system, the paid versions extend their functionality considerably, so you might want to consider that option too (PicMonkey Royale is $64AUD/year and Canva is $157AUD/year… although if you’re prepared to fork out moola, I’d probably get a sub to Photoshop CC instead as it’s around the same price as Canva for Work and has a huge amount more functionality).

 

Canva

 

Some things I love…

  • The huge array of perfectly pre-sized canvases for almost any application you can think of, from social media posts to e-books to desktop wallpapers to business stationery and a whole bunch more
  • Intuitive layout, easy to find your way around and get what you want
  • The great series of tutorials on design, as well as a fab blog on various aspects of graphic design
  • Some nice pre-made (and free) graphic templates, so all you need to do is alter the text and colours to suit your needs and you’re done
  • A fabulous ‘snap’ functionality, which helps you centre your work, or snap it to the edge of the canvas
  • A good range of preset filters, with a dialogue box that shows you what changes the filter has made to the image, and allows you to tweak aspects such as brightness/saturation/contrast/tint/blur/etc at the same time
    you can create a free account, which will always keep the graphics you’ve already made (AND they remain editable), as well as all of your own images that you’ve uploaded
  • Canva auto-saves your work as you go. Download it whenever you want

 

Some things I don’t like about Canva

  • You can’t stretch many of your elements; photos can be resized by holding down the shift key and dragging, and lines can be extended; but generally, the rest of the elements you can only resize them in their correct proportions
  • You can’t upload your own fonts in the free version (you can in the paid Canva for Work)
    you can’t make an image with a transparent background, so creating logos is not an option (you can in Canva for Work)
  • You can’t change the image size once you start (you can in Canva for Work), although you do have the option to save for either low quality (.jpg) or higher quality (.png), and in two different resolutions for PDFs
  • Making a text mask (where you have an image showing through text) is painfully slow, and you can only use the one block font they offer frames in

 

 

PicMonkey

 

Some things I love

  • You can make overlays with transparent backgrounds for your brand which you can use for your images wherever you need them. You could also make a simple logo in PicMonkey which you can overlay onto any graphic you choose. Consistently branded images are great for blog posts, social media, etc
  • You can use your own fonts from your computer
  • Stretching anything to fit is easy – hold down the shift key while dragging a corner of the image or overlay
  • Making a text mask is a piece of cake, and you can use any font and any image you like
  • A MASSIVE range of filters and effects, so you can really make your images distinctive
  • A draw tool, and an eraser tool so you can do spot-editing, pixel by pixel
  • A good series of tutorials, written for non-designers

 

Some things I don’t like

  • You can’t save any of your designs into their system, and you can’t save editable images to finish later – when you save, the layers are automatically flattened before it’s downloaded to your computer
  • Update: you can now save editable files in their Hub, which is an add-on to PicMonkey Royale (the paid version)
  • It’s SUPER hard to centre anything (like text, or shapes) – PicMonkey doesn’t have any ‘snap’ function, nor any other easy way of figuring out if things are lined up (and that’s why I made this handy overlay grid a little while ago. You’re welcome)
  • It’s much harder to find your way around because you have to click in and out of the individual sections each time to test the effect of each one, and some effects and overlays are also hidden in the Themes section

 

What I’d use when

 

Creating logos

Firstly, I would definitely use PicMonkey to create any sort of logo, or other brand element that you intend to use as an overlay in your graphics, because it allows you to create a shape with a transparent background.

The thing that you need to remember when you’re saving your shape with its transparent background is that it needs to be saved as a .png file – if you try to save it as a .jpg, it will automatically convert your transparent background to solid white – which means that it becomes completely useless as an overlay.

With this example, there are two steps – first creating the separate shape file so you can use it again and again; and then creating a new file for your chosen image including the overlay.

In the first step, I used PicMonkey’s Design option to create a canvas with a transparent background, then into Text. Click on ‘My Own’ at the top of the side panel, before choosing the fonts you want (I used a combination of Goblin, Times New Roman, and Helvetica Neue). To do this, you’ll need to load up three separate text boxes so that you can make them different colours, change their sizes slightly, and layer them up. After moving them around, then I simply save (remember, it has to be a .png to preserve the transparent background).

Once you’ve saved your logo, every time you need to use it on an image, you can simply go into Overlay / My Own, and choose it from your files (but you’ll have to load it up again, every time you need to make a new graphic).

EVEN BETTER, switch over to Canva now, and upload it into your Canva account – that way you’ll always have it handy for every graphic you want to produce!

 

Image editing

PicMonkey every time. Canva will only add filters or change simple aspects such as brightness, contrast, tint, and blur to a WHOLE image; there’s no “Draw” tool to add in your own bits.

PicMonkey has a “Draw” tool in Effects; you can change the size and colour of the tool, and you can alter things as small as 1 pixel. It also has an eraser so you can erase parts of one layer or effect so that the original image shows through. Clever use of the eraser and the pencil together can create elements that look like they wrap around each other.

 

Templates

Always, always in Canva for this! For two reasons:

1. It always keeps your files editable, so all you need to do is make a copy of your original template (from the main page that shows all your designs, click on the little arrow in the top right of the image you want, and “Make a copy”).

2. Good graphics need good alignment, and I LOVE their snap tools to help you get everything centred/justified. Perfect for when you need to change text and other elements around frequently.

 

Resizing

As I pointed out earlier, once you’ve chosen your canvas size in Canva, you’re stuck with it. If you want to resize things, or start with a flexible size because you’re not really sure what you want to end up with (like when you’re creating a logo) use PicMonkey, every time.

These are a few of the specific situations I’d choose one over the other. There are many, many other specific situations where the flexibility of one outweighs the flexibility of the other – it’s up to you to choose what suits you best. Hopefully the list of likes/dislikes above will help you figure that out.

 

Have you used the two in tandem? Have you only stuck to one and now you want to try the other? If you have combined them already, I would LOVE to hear what you’ve made and why. Pop a comment below!

 

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