Set Up Shop Registration Open Now!

 

 

Set Up Shop Square (1)

Yes, it’s time… the first class of Set Up Shop for 2015 is now open for registration!

I’ve had the honour of guiding over 400 creatives through this course over the past two years, and I’m looking forward to helping you turn your online shop into something that you can both be proud of, AND that sets you up to actually bring in sales and grow your business. In this course, I’m coming from a place of hard-won experience – I’ve done what I’m teaching you, and I have a successful online craft business that supports me and my little family (and employs both me and my husband).

I have (and am still) ‘walking the walk’ of running an online handmade business.  I’m right there in the trenches with you, every single day. This is not something I theoretically know how to do – it’s something I’ve done, and continue to work on.

I know the system I teach in Set Up Shop works. Both because my students tell me so, and because I used what I teach here to get my own business up and running.

I created this course because I’m passionate about sharing what I learn, AND helping others to realise their dream of having a successful craft business – because I want you to enjoy the freedom, joy, and fulfilment that comes from doing just that.

Registration is open now, and will close midday Sunday the 22nd of March AEST (that’s Australian Eastern Standard Time!).

Class begins Monday the 23rd of March, and runs for 30 days.

To find out exactly how the course works, the options you have for Membership, and what we’ll be covering, head on over to the course page here.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford this course, because you’ve seen all the super-expensive courses that are out there – don’t be.

The entry level Membership to Set Up Shop is just $85* – because I want every single person who needs this course to be able to afford it.

I want YOU to be able to invest in this course and experience the huge positive changes it can help you make in your life and business.

Set Up Shop Alumni Carolyn Grill says this of her experience:

It has been eye-opening and inspiring and I can say, wholeheartedly, if you are thinking of opening up an online shop this course will save you so much time and frustration.  Plus, you’ll meet a host of other talented, helpful creative types.  Money so very well spent!

If you have any questions, please just leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.

I hope you can join us and get your shop up and running in 2015!

Register Now

Jess x

 


 

(*price in AUD, and GST applies to Aussies)

How to Bring Quality, Targeted Traffic to Your Online Shop

 

 

 

 

How to find quality, targeted traffic

This is a guest post by Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia.


 

I’ve discussed conversion rate on on the Aeolidia blog before, and this is a useful companion piece, about how to get serious buyers to your website in the first place.

It can be very puzzling figuring out how to get people to visit your site, especially if you’ve been relying on a service such as Etsy to drive traffic to you. Once you have a website of your own to promote, you need a plan to reach out to all the right people.

I have a lot of great email chats with creative business owners who receive my newsletter, and I was recently asked:

Another thing we are currently working on right now is probably something a lot of new e-commerce site owners are trying to figure out – good quality traffic. We are working through our marketing plan/checklist now, but I know it’s just going to take time to get the traffic flow we want. I think all the pieces are there – good quality site, good products, and good social media interaction. We just need to grow our trickle of customers to a steady flow!

This question shows a lot of insight, because the biz owner knows she should be looking for good quality traffic, not just traffic. “Traffic” is how we refer to the flow of people onto and through our websites. Your traffic is how many visitors  you get. If you have low quality traffic, you may get hundreds of thousands of people on your site, with only a few remaining there to purchase.

High quality traffic will give you a lot of sales with less people visiting (and less marketing effort on your part).

startup-593328_1280

Why you want targeted traffic

Many of our clients run creative businesses that are so unique and out of the mainstream that they’re going to want highly targeted traffic – meaning visitors who understand the type of business they are, and who are looking for the kind of stuff they sell.

For instance, we featured Finspo on our blog recently, a business that creates wearable mermaid tails. You can’t just tell a random person on the street about Finspo and expect them to bust out their wallet. Advertising someplace for everyone to see will likely be a waste of Finspo’s ad dollars. But advertising in places where she knows mermaid tail lovers are hanging out will pay off well, such as a sci-fi/fantasy conference where people dress in costume, or a mermaid-loving Facebook group.

Your business doesn’t need to be wildly unusual to want targeted traffic. Most readers of a blog like Design*Sponge, for example, are interested in design, naturally, so a business selling design-oriented products or services would much prefer the targeted traffic of a Design*Sponge editorial post than a mention on a website that caters to an audience who don’t value design.

The more unique or niche your business is, the more carefully you’ll want to target your marketing efforts. If you feel like you offer something most everyone would want, go ahead and send a firehose of untargeted traffic to your site and enjoy! But generally, it’s easier to distinguish yourself by not appealing to the masses, and instead speaking to your own group of likeminded people.

Research your target customer

So, how exactly do you do this?

Research your target customer

Things to know when marketing your products or services:

  • Who is my target customer?
  • What problem can I solve for my target customer?
  • What desires can I fulfill for my target customer?
  • Where does my target customer hang out?
  • How does my target customer communicate?
  • What motivates my target customer to make a purchase?

Spend some time in your customers’ shoes and find out what blogs they’re reading, what hashtags they’re following, what Pinterest boards they build, what language they use.

This will allow you to do the right thing when trying to attract them.

Make a plan to attract the right people

Understanding your target customer will help you know:

  • What blogs you want to be featured on
  • What sites to advertise on
  • What keywords to pay for
  • How to word your pitch, advertisement, or website
  • What benefits to point out
  • What offers to make
  • What collaborations to forge

How can you apply this research?

Here are some ways to market your business and get the traffic that will convert to sales on your website:

  • Get editorial features, do giveaways, or guest post on blogs that you know your perfect customers are reading.
  • Pitch your business to niche publications.
  • Use Google’s retargeting ads to only advertise to people who have already visited your site and are likely to be interested (best quality traffic!).
  • When purchasing keyword ads, use very specific keywords, rather than vague or broad ones (for Finspo, “mermaid tail,” not “costumes”).
  • Adjust the copy/content on your website to speak directly to your target customer, and remove anything that’s trying to pander to a wide audience. This will help with retaining the traffic you get, and making sure Google shows your site to the right people.
  • Post regularly to a blog on your site that is very specific to what your target customer is interested in. This will make you show up on Google when these people are searching for their interests.
  • Be familiar enough with your audience that you can keep them subscribed to your newsletter and  your social media feeds, and share with their friends.
  • Collaborate with a non-competing business that has an audience that will like your stuff, to promote each others’ work in a win-win way.

How do you market your business?

Are you trying to reach a lot of people, or enough of the right people?

How do you know when you’re doing things right?

What questions do you have about applying this advice to your business?

Please share in the comments!

 


Get your targeted traffic workbook

Arianne has created a free PDF workbook to research and pin down what you know about where your best customers are hanging out. It explains the concepts above in more detail, and you can use the included tips to make a plan to get high-quality, high-converting traffic to your website. Click here to get the worksheet and bring buying customers to your site!

5 Things You Need Before You’re Ready to Sell Your Craft Online

 

 

 

 

5 Things You Need Before You're Ready to

I wrote last week about how to work out whether or not selling online is the way to go for you and your handmade business. Today, I want to address the issue of readiness – that is, are you even at the stage where you’re ready to think about starting an online craft business?

When you’re growing a business, there are always things to learn. The list is endless, and always expanding.

However, there are 5 absolutely non-negotiable things that you need to get a handle on if you’re considering selling your work online.

 

1. An Attractive & Useful Product

When you move from making something because you love it, to making something to sell it, you need to shift your thinking.

It’s no longer just about you – it’s about your customer. This doesn’t mean you can’t make what you love – you should be making something you love – but when you design and make a new product, you need to consider whether it’s something your ideal customer will love… and pay good money for.

If you’ve done the work to figure out who your ideal customer is – what their wants and needs are – this will be infinitely easier. And, if you have a brand in place, your new products will naturally have to fit in with that, rather than being a random mish-mash of things you just ‘felt like making’.

 

2. A Brand

Successful businesses have a brand. Full-stop. And it’s not accidental, either – it may have grown organically, but smart businesspeople quickly realise the power of branding in all they do. It makes their work recognisable. It gives customers and fans something to connect to. It makes designing new products and marketing strategies easier because everything you do needs to fit with your brand. Constraints are the best friend of the creative.

It doesn’t matter what your brand is – what matters is that you have one, and that your imagery, photographs, visual marketing, and copy (all the text you use on your site/in your communication) reinforce and align with your brand.

 

3. The Ability to Take Stellar Product Photos

Once you have a brand and attractive + useful products, it’s time to show your products off to the world. When you sell physical items online, your photographs will make or break your business.

There are, of course, a stack of obvious basics that you need to get right, but you also need to capture that elusive ‘wow’ factor that makes your product stand out from the rest. This is somthing that takes time and experimentation – but chances are you’ll know it when you find it. You’ll see sales increase, features increase, and that’s the only true way to know for sure you’ve hit on the right photography formula.

 

4. A Basic Understanding of SEO

Sure, your photos are what will draw someone in and convince them to buy – but how are they supposed to find you in the first place? Via text search. We have yet to reach the point where we can plug our brains into the internet and search for what we want via images (though I’m sure it will happen one day). There are, thankfully, a lot more visual channels for people to find us (such as Pinterest and Instagram). But, for now, you need to understand how SEO – search engine optimisation – works, at least at a very basic level, because in order to search for something specific, our customers still need to use words.

You need to ensure that the titles, description and tags (if any) attached to your product are full of keywords that customers will use to find your product.

 

5. Courage

Honestly, I should have put this first, because without courage, you will never succeed. Business is all about experimentation. You have to be willing to take risks, fail… and then pick yourself up and try again. You have to live with fear every day. You have to be comfortable with uncertainty. There are no fail-safe formulas for business success.

Everything I’ve covered here can be taught and learnt. Yes – you can even learn to be more courageous! However, a certain level of self-confidence is definitely a pre-requisite to creating a successful online business.

You need to believe in yourself – that you are capable of facing challenges, learning what you need to learn to overcome them, and that you are worthy of success. You need to believe in your brand, your products, your photography, and be proud of what you are offering to the world.

Because if you don’t believe in yourself – why would your customers?

 


Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time?

Want access to a proven system that over 1,000 makers have used to set up a stellar online shop?

My flagship course -Set Up Shop – is running again right now, with a one-time-only 20% discount offer!

Find Out More

Set Up Shop Registration Open Now for October 2014!

Set Up Shop Square (1)

 

Yes, it’s time… the final class of Set Up Shop for 2014 is now open for registration!

I’ve had the honour of guiding over 300 creatives through this course over the past two years, and I’m looking forward to helping you turn your online shop into something that you can both be proud of, AND that sets you up to actually bring in sales and grow your business. In this course, I’m coming from a place of hard-won experience – I’ve done what I’m teaching you, and I have a successful online craft business that supports me and my little family (and employs both me and my husband).

I have (and am still) ‘walking the walk’ of running an online handmade business. I created this course because I’m passionate about sharing what I learn, AND helping others to realise their dream of having a successful craft business – because I want you to enjoy the freedom, joy, and fulfilment that comes from doing just that.

Registration is open now, and will close midday Sunday the 5th of October AEST (that’s Australian Eastern Standard Time!).

Class begins Monday the 6th of October, and runs for 30 days.

To find out exactly how the course works, the options you have for Membership, and what we’ll be covering, head on over to the course page here.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford this course, because you’ve seen all the super-expensive courses that are out there – don’t be. The entry level Membership to Set Up Shop is just $85* – because I want every single person who needs this course to be able to afford it.

According to conventional wisdom (and what many of my past students have told me) I should be charging a lot more for this course, but you know what? I don’t need a Ferrari (my campervan is just fine). I don’t need a fancy house (my two rooms are enough). I don’t need to make a million from this course: just enough to make you value it, and for me to justify spending the time on it. What I need is for YOU to be able to take this course and experience the huge positive changes it can help you make in your life and business.

Oh – and one last thing… if you’ve been considering doing the course for a while now, and you were planning on signing up for Gold Membership (where I give you a full shop critique after the course) OR for Platinum Membership (where you also get a one-on-one skype session with me) – this is your last chance!

I’m reorganising the Gold and Platinum Membership levels after this run of the course – and you will no longer get a full critique with Gold Membership – only with Platinum (which will be changing to the 3-month-mentorship model similar to what I offer with SHIFT). I currently charge $95 for a full critique outside of the course, so getting it in the current Gold Membership is quite a bargain. If you want one, and you want to do Set Up Shop, don’t miss out – there are only 20 Gold Places available.

If you have any questions, please just leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.

I hope you can join us and get your shop ship-shape just in time for the Christmas rush!

Jess x

 

(*price in AUD, and GST applies to Aussies)

Should You Sell Your Craft Online?

 

Is selling your craft online right for you? Or would you be better off selling it via markets, shows, or to shops via wholesale and/or consignment? Or should you do a combination?

I think it is pretty clear these days that you at the very least need to have a presence online. That means a basic website and blog, as well as a few social media channels. No matter how you actually sell your craft, you still need an online presence so people can find you, connect with you, and become (hopefully) raving fans of your work.

But does that mean you have to sell online? Not necessarily…

The decision as to whether to sell your craft online or focus on offline sales is a personal one, but there are a number of factors to consider when you’re trying to make the decision. I’ve put together a list for you to consider below.

 

1. It will take longer to make money

No doubt about it – if you decide to focus on selling your craft online, it will take longer to make decent money. Markets allow you to make money on-the-spot much faster (provided they are successful), and selling to shops via wholesale means you get a nice chunk of cash straight up.

That said – once you’re established, you’ll be making money every day – even while you sleep! I love waking up in the morning and checking my sales from overnight. By selling online you will get smaller bursts of money more regularly – whereas markets and wholesale will give you larger chunks of money less frequently.

 

2. Is your item easily shipped?

If you make small items and/or light items, selling online is pretty straightforward. Shipping costs can be kept relatively low (especially in Australia if you can ship via a large letter size rather than a parcel) and it’s not too hard to carry a bunch of parcels to the post office.

However, if you make large or heavy items, shipping – especially internationally – can get pretty darn expensive. You might be better off selling at markets or to shops in your town/city to eliminate this problem.

Expensive shipping can definitely put off some customers – however, you’ll be surprised what some people are willing to pay for shipping if they REALLY LOVE what you are selling.

That brings me to…

 

3. Are you happy to sell internationally?

If you’re selling online, you’ll grow your business faster and make more money if you’re willing to ship all around the world. Don’t be put off by slightly higher shipping costs, or any other fears – it’s well worth the effort of working out a range of shipping costs up-front to get those international sales.

Around 75% of my jewellery sales are international – mostly to the US, Canada, and the UK, but I’ve also sold to Russia, Italy, Singapore, and many, many other countries.

If you’re worried about parcels going missing – don’t. I usually have around 4 parcels go missing each year (out of thousands) and they are just as likely to be within Australia as overseas! For me, lost parcels are just another one of my costs – I write them off as expenses and send a replacement piece.

The language barrier is also no longer a barrier thanks to Google Translate. I love being able to write a message in English, pop it in GT, and send it to my customer in their native language (with a disclaimer that I’ve used GT in the case that I’ve said something awkward, of course!).

 

4. Is your work easily reproducible?

This is big one. If you want to have a successful online craft business, at least some of your products must be reproducible. Why? Because when you sell online you not only have to do the work of making your piece, you also have to photograph it, edit the photos, upload them, write a description, calculate shipping costs, choose keywords… and the list goes on. If you’re doing this for OOAK products (unless they are very expensive – like high-end jewellery) you’re going to hit a wall and not have enough time to make products and do all of this work AND make a decent profit while actually enjoying life rather than being a slave to your work.

By having reproducible products, you do all this secondary work just once – then you can sit back and sell the same design over and over again. Each one can be and is unique and handmade, but you do have to have a design that you can reproduce to be almost identical to your online display item.

 

5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?

If you’re an introvert, then selling online is perfect for you. You can interact with customers and potential customers on your own time, at your own pace. You don’t need a phone number (I don’t make my number available – I work exclusively via email and in the 6 years I’ve been in business this has never ONCE been a problem).

However, if you’re an extrovert, and you adore face-to-face contact with your customers, then you might find selling online a little disheartening. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from selling primarily online and still attending a market here and there to get your ‘customer fix’.

And, you can still interact with your customers via email and social media – I do this every day and it’s part of my job that I love.

 

6. Do you have the products to do markets?

Because I have focussed on online business – and reproducible designs – I no longer do markets. Why? Simply because I don’t have stock to sell at them! When I make a new prototype design, I make it, photograph it, and then, more often than not, keep it for myself or Nick. It means we have a nice bank of our own jewellery to wear when we’re out and about – which is of course one great way to market your work.

So, for me, markets don’t make financial or time sense – I can make as much online in a day as I make at most standard markets, and I spend way less time and effort to do it.

If, however, you make the sort of thing where you’ve always got stock laying around, or you can make lots of stock quickly, then markets are a great idea!

 

7. Do you like having your weekends free?

This is another reason I don’t like doing markets, personally. I know I’m self-employed, so I can set the hours and days I want to work… but most of my friends aren’t! So, if I want to hang out with them, I have to do it on the days they have free – and that’s generally the weekend. I don’t like having to get up super-early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and schlep myself and a car full of stuff to a market, then stand around all day in the hope I make a few sales.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done many a market, and there are lots of fun things about it: interacting with customers, hanging out with my crafty peeps, seeing how people respond to my work in-person… but I can do most of this by just attending a market (and spending lots of money on other people’s stuff… ahem…) so that’s my preferred thing to do.

Some folks, however, adore markets and everything about them! If that’s you, then go for it.

 

8. Are you willing to invest the time to learn how to take and edit stellar product photos?

When you sell online, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling the photo. If you’re not willing to invest the time (or money) in getting stellar photos of your work – don’t bother starting. I know that sounds harsh, but with SO much high-quality competition out there, you have to be willing to step up and get your photos right. Nothing else matters until you get this sorted – truly.

That said – if your photos aren’t stellar just yet, don’t let that stop you from at least getting going. Start where you are. Do what you can. Then LEARN and experiment until you end up with high-quality photos. This may take a week – or a few months – or even a few years. I don’t think anyone is ever 100% satisfied with their photos, but once you can put them side-by-side with the best in the business and compete, you’re doing okay.

 

9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?

There’s no way around it – if you start your own business, you are now a salesperson and a marketer. No matter if you decide just to sell to shops in order to avoid having to sell and market your work direct to customers… you still have to sell and market your work to retailers. There’s no way around this fact.

So – do you enjoy telling your story? Because really, that’s all marketing is – storytelling. If you can change your mindset and come from a place of telling the story of you and what you do, then marketing becomes much easier, authentic, and less ‘icky’ feeling. You might even end up enjoying it…

 

10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?

When you sell online or at markets, you of course get the full retail price for your goods. Wholesale and consignment are a different story. For wholesale, you should expect to be paid 50% of the retail price of your work (of course, you set the minimum volume/minimum value that the retailer has to order to make it worth your while). For consignment, you can expect to get a little more – maybe 60-70% of the retail price – but of course you don’t get paid upfront, you only get paid when your work sells.

Consignment is a good way to get the foot in the door when you’re just starting out, OR to get into a specific shop or gallery that don’t work on wholesale. However, consignment isn’t really a viable way to make a living long-term, because the money is just too iffy. If you want to focus on selling to shops, you want to focus on gaining wholesale customers who end up being repeat buyers – that’s the way to grow a sustainable wholesale business.

Of course – you should be pricing your products so you make a profit on the wholesale price – not just the retail price. If you’re not doing this, then don’t start selling to shops, because you’ll end up running your business into the ground through not making enough money to support its growth.

 

11. Do you have the time/skills to set up an online shop?

I included this one because it’s often the excuse I hear from people as to why they’re not selling online. Look – no matter what avenue you take, it will take time to get and keep your business going. If you do markets, you need to invest time in creating displays, sourcing markets, applying, getting to-and-fro, actually attending etc. If you sell to shops, you need to research possible buyers, contact them, follow-up, do trade shows, etc. If you sell online, your time will be spent working on product photos, building/tweaking your website, sourcing new venues to sell on. No matter which path you choose, it will take a good chunk of time to run and grow your business.

As for skills? Photography is really the main thing. You can set up shop online SO easily these days, especially if you start out somewhere like Etsy, where all you have to do is upload pictures and words, and they do all the techy stuff for you. Don’t let a current lack of technical know-how stop you from going the online route. You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started!

 

In the end, this decision will come down to your products, your personality, and your business goals. No-one can tell you the ‘right’ way to sell your craft – it’s something you have to work out for yourself.

Of course, once you do, you can find folks who’ve done it before you who can help you figure out the ‘how’ a whole lot sooner!

 


 

Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time?

Want access to a proven system that over 1,000 makers have used to set up a stellar online shop?

My flagship course -Set Up Shop – is running again right now, with a one-time-only 20% discount offer!

Find Out More

 

Pin It on Pinterest