3 Business-Boosting Tips for the Upcoming Holidays

 

 

 

 

3 Business-Boosting Tips for the

It’s almost November… so welcome to the busiest season for all retail businesses – both big and small!

It’s such an exciting time, and today I’d like to share some ways to encourage more sales and gifting.

 

1. Always keep the gift recipient in mind.

As we head into the gift-giving holidays, it’s important to remember that your customers aren’t always buying for themselves at this time of year. They’re buying for friends, family, party hostesses, etc., and they’re looking for unique gifts. Encouraging customers to gift your product is a great strategy during the holidays because when your customer gives your items to friends and family, the gift introduces you to a new customer. It’s the best possible form of recommendation!

As you plan for the holiday shopping season, try and imagine who your customers might be buying for:

  • Female friends
  • Husbands, boyfriends or partners
  • Parents
  • In-Laws
  • Grandparents
  • Teenagers
  • Children
  • Babies
  • Party Hostesses
  • Coworkers and managers
  • White elephant gift exchanges/Kris Kringles

What items in your inventory can be presented as gifts for any or all of the above recipients?

 

2. Cross-promote with other artists.

One of my favorite Etsy sellers sent an email last year that I thought was simply brilliant.

She contacted her customer list with a list of handmade gifts from various sellers that she was giving to her friends and family.  Just imagine if you collected a handful of your favorite sellers and introduced your favorite shops and they agreed to return the favor? How many new customers might you share and gain?

 

3. Offer free shipping.

Free shipping has tested as one of the very best sales you can offer your customers. People simply don’t like the added amount at check-out; it’s not a fun surprise!

I always offer free domestic shipping in December, and my products already come gift-wrapped. If you want to ship 5 bracelets to 5 of your friends, I’m happy to eat the shipping costs!

Calculate what this would really cost your business, and see if you can swing it. Because of the price and light weight of my products, free shipping only equals a 10% discount off every order … completely doable! How much would free shipping cost you?

 

Here’s to a happy, healthy and fruitful holiday season for us all!

5 Must-Have Offline Organisational Tools for the Home Office

 

 

 

5 Must-Have Offline Organisational Tools

Technology has come leaps and bounds in helping us organize and schedule our daily routines. Yet in my heart I know that nothing on a screen can ever replace a brand new, sturdy 5-subject notebook. I love paper, planners and desk products, so I’m thrilled to share some of my offline organizational tools with you today.

Most of what I do on my desktop revolves around personal business planning and the work I do with dream clients. Pretty desks make me happy, so in addition to my favorite paper products, I’m always look to add unique items such as my porcupine pencil holder from Lenny Mud on Etsy.

 

Here’s my list of 5 must-haves for the home office:

  • Paper Mate stick ballpoint pens (the cheapie kinds that come in qty = gazillion). I’ve fallen in love with more expensive pens in the past, but it seems that as soon as I give a new pen my loyalty, its quality falls off. I can buy a huge package of Paper Mates for a few dollars, and they write like butter (+ it never matters if someone steals my pen – I have dozens!).
  • Legal pads! I’ve recently discovered the pleasure of an old-school legal pad. While a quality 5-subject notebook will always have my heart, I find that legal pads are the best place to record the thought or dream of the day. There is something to be said for flipping or ripping the page rather than turning it (notebook-style). It reads less like a book and more like a task list, and it’s a handy tool for the desktop!
  • Pretty file folders. When I’m working with my dream clients, I keep their goals and my case notes on a legal pad stuffed inside a designer file folder with their name on it. It’s all so practical + pretty!
  • A good planner. I’m partial to one in particular (Your Best Year 2015 will be released in October!), but truth be told, I keep many. I’m a planner-aholic.
  • A strong cup of coffee in a pretty white cup. Because it fuels my dreams.

 

That’s what’s on my desk! What’s on yours?

4 Profit-Boosting Ideas for Your Creative Business

 

 

 

 

4 Profit-Boosting Ideas for Your Creative Business

 

Here are four profit-boosting ideas that will help you take your creative business to the next level!

 

1. Create multiple streams of income

The phrase “multiple streams of income” is music to my ears. I love the imaginary doors it opens, I love the way it rolls off my tongue, and I love the peace of mind it brings.

I work with a lot of creative business owners, and for every talk, interview, or lesson I gave, I was transparent in that my online storefront is only half of the work I do. My blog (specifically the e-programs I create and services I offer) also generates an income. The course I co-host with Tim Adam (Handmadeology) is another source of income. And my part-time editing position with Create Hype is yet another source of income.

The steady flow of cash provided by these multiple sources equals one calm creative business owner. I’m able to keep my head on straight and think clearly about new projects. My working hours are free of desperation, high pressure or anxiety.

 

2. Partner up

Some of the biggest leaps in my career (and in my income) have come from my community partnerships. Tim Adam and I have co-hosted the Build a Better Creative Business Course three times in the last eighteen months. Not only did our course’s success make a healthy contribution toward my annual salary, it also taught me how energy-saving a partnership can be.

I didn’t know this going in, but it turns out that Tim loves to do all the things I dislike about launching an e-course (building websites, creating landing and sales pages, processing payments, building affiliate programs, etc.). And likewise, I love to do all the things that Tim dislikes when launching an e-course (blog writing, sales copy, scheduling and organizing).

By working together, we eliminated all of the stalls we might encounter had either of us taken the challenge on our own. We launched the first semester two weeks after having come up with the idea, and it’s a phenomenal project – one we’re both very proud of.

If you’re looking to partner up in business and don’t know where to start, I highly recommend the community membership program over on Oh My! Handmade Goodness (This site/resource is no longer available) . It is an amazing space for inspiration and collaboration, and I’m a proud member.

 

3. Respect the business of turning a profit

Recognize where you’re getting a return on investment and where you’re not. For example, if you’re spending the majority of your day methodically producing one-of-a-kind designs and listing them in your online storefront, be sure to ask yourself if it’s paying off for you. I work with countless shop owners who spend months, if not years, stocking their virtual shelves toward a goal (# of products, # of pages or # of product in each shop category).

Having inventory and a strong selection does help your shop, it’s true. However, I’ve had sales with only four items in stock. Inventory doesn’t make or break your storefront. If customers see something they have to have, well, they buy it.

If you’re all production and no sales, it’s time to ask yourself if your current strategy is working. You’re giving all of your designs and creativity away for free! Stop producing and start examining your business model, marketing strategy and shop cohesiveness. Tweak the business until you start seeing a return on your investment of time, resources and energy.

 

4. Do more of what you know works

I coach too many creatives who treat their businesses like a hobby, often abandoning a best-selling product because they’ve grown tired of making it. A hobby is about doing what you enjoy all the time; it’s a form of entertainment. A business takes work, and that means sometimes doing what you know needs done – regardless of whether or not you like the task.

I built a career doing what I love for a living, but that certainly does not mean I always love what I’m doing!

There comes a point in business (I also face it in every project I produce) where excitement fizzles and your goals require effort. It’s an easy place to pivot back to another new and shiny idea, and so it is the ultimate test of every would-be success!

Push through the hard and/or tedious work. Keep the best-selling product in stock because it’s what your customers are telling you they want. Finish that big profit-earning project you’ve been putting off. Let the hard work fund your bigger, more exciting ideas and fuel your vision.

 

Can you make any of these strategies work for you?

 

Image source: danka peter via Unsplash

How to Harness Your Creative Energy Throughout the Seasons

 

 

 

 

creative-energy-Lisa-Jacobs

If you’re anything like me, you start a new year with an inner restlessness so intense that it’s practically palpable to the people around you.

You then take that intense energy burst and apply it toward every great idea you ever had, starting projects left and right.

Within a few months, your energy fizzles and most of your great ideas are left unrealised.

You worked so hard and used so much of that buzzing creative energy, but you have very little to show for it aside from the piles of unfinished business around you.

This was my pattern.

With every change of season, this energy seems to renew within me, and I used to burn the midnight fuel chasing multiple inspirations.

When we changed over to 2014, I realized my pattern … particularly the aftermath of unfinished business and burnout that left me feeling utterly unaccomplished.

I decided that I needed to temper my creative energy and give it boundaries so that it would last much longer and produce much more.

This may seem paradoxical to the issue, but in order to produce more, I decided to reduce my working hours and work off a task list: a task list that was built to help me achieve my goals and get closer to my dreams.

I have a full-time, work-at-home creative career, but this idea can be applied to whatever number of hours you have to work on your business each week. I have a potential seven working hours every weekday (while my children are at school and the house is quiet). That’s thirty-five hours a week to myself.

Up until this year, I’ve tried to fill those thirty-five house with laser-focused production and an occasional day off here and there.

This approach to my work has produced epic failure, major burn-out and unhappiness.

I’ve given it some thought: I don’t know anybody who works a laser-focused eight-hour day without losing their marbles. And when I say laser-focused, that’s what I mean: I set the timer, the only task in front of me is the task at hand. No phone calls, no chit chat, no email checks or Facebook updates … just work that allows me to cross important things off my professional to-do list.

Most people go to work and take plenty of breaks, interact with their co-workers, and get up for a stroll. Meanwhile, I’m locked up alone in my house with work that needs to be done. That uber-strict regimen simply wasn’t working; it resulted in two weeks of production, four weeks of burn-out.

At the start of the year, I decided that I’m only going to work four hours per day, Monday through Friday, with two personal days and one family day scheduled each month. I’m also taking off the months of June, July, and most of August and December.

I’ve also kept a public log of how I spend each hour (This site/resource is no longer available), and then! Well, then I reveal to all the world how much I’ve earned in those hours spent.

The reduced work-week is not only resulting in amazing accomplishments, it’s also helped me to complete personal unfinished business, lose some weight, stick to my budget better and eat healthier having so much more time to focus on my overall wellbeing.

What I’ve realized is this: Creative energy isn’t cheap; it’s quite costly on both the mind and spirit.

Most of what you do with your working hours requires great innovation. Your work involves less mundane tasks than you’d expect to complete during a typical 9-5 at a traditional job.

A creative career is full of new ideas that are taxing to manifest.

Having made the switch, I’m so excited for the end-year results; I can hardly wait to see how a year’s worth of harnessing my creative energy will work out.

In the meantime, please share:

How do you manage your working hours?

Image source: Lisa Jacobs

How to Create a Killer First Impression with Your Website

 

 

 

How to create a killer first impression

For every online visitor you receive, your shop has approximately two seconds to capture and keep their attention.

After two seconds, your potential customer is either going to click to browse within your shop or click away altogether.

 

This is the sequence of events that feed into the customer’s overall first impression:

The first key element customers notice: Can I immediately make sense of what I’m seeing? (Cohesion)

The second key element customers notice: Are the photographs mouth-watering delicious, leaving me hungry to click? (Presentation)

The third key element customers notice: Is it a strong brand? Is this a professional business? If I were to make a purchase, can I trust this shop to deliver what I expect? (Branding)

I want you to read over the above sequence of events and realize that, if ever the answer is “no”, the next subsequent event will not occur. A winning first impression is vital to your handmade business’ success.

 

The Ingredients of Good Shop Cohesion

When visitors come to your shop, can they immediately make sense of what they are seeing? You’ll need good product photography, a uniform look (matching backdrops, style, and theme), and professional branding to create strong shop cohesion.

I prefer to leave an online storefront with a clear understanding of the seller’s style, and to become a paying customer, I have to feel that the shop’s style matches my own. When I’m hired to help clients perfect their shop’s cohesion, I start our session by asking:

If you created a Pinterest board of images that realize or remind you of what your shop represents,what would it be composed of?

If you don’t already have a shop-related board, please start this exercise right away! It will not only help you clarify your brand identity, it will also attract like-minded people. Follow the link to my Energy Shop Pinspiration as an example. Everything on that board is magical, true, or Energy Shop-related. And since I’m already hanging out on Pinterest, it takes no extra effort on my part.

Strong shop cohesion creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for your storefront. The customer can more easily admire your wares, and the ambience you create helps build trust and admiration of your brand.

 

How to Create a Solid Look to Your Shop

  • Pick a style and stick to it. By that I mean, if you’re selling kitschy, country-cute items, don’t try to sell mod decor in the same shop. Go with your favorite style, and stick to it. Like-minded customers will appreciate your passion and authenticity.
  • Show products as a collection. On occasion, make the collective shot the main listing picture. I often feature armfuls of bracelets when I’m only selling just one in the listing. Not only are collective images more share-friendly and pin-able, many customers like to see what a collection of your products would look like. When I buy artwork, for example, I fear that it’s going to be floating alone in the room, mismatched and unnatural-like. A picture of a collective gallery of artwork above a dining room table helps me understand the character the paintings would add to my own home, and invites me to purchase more than one!
  • Create helpful categories. Don’t get too clever with listing titles, and be sure customers can navigate through the shop without becoming confused.
  • Be sure the products you list compliment each other. Boutiques can be done, but they’re not easy to pull off because everything has to match. Make sure every product you list matches your overall theme: Are you a cozy knitted goods store, or a flashy jewelry store? Do you sell vintage books or felt supplies? Pick your favorite type of product and go strong.
  • Pull the customer in by creating an atmosphere. Make sure your profile matches the storefront, the banner matches the listings, and the listings compliment each other. For example, if you sell pillows of all different sizes and fabrics, use one uniform background for every listing – the fabrics are already adding the variety. If you sell dainty jewelry, use a few different backgrounds that match.

 

Image source: André Spieker

 



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