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A Social-Media Plan You Can Stick To

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Social media marketing can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking for an easy way to rapidly grow your business- having an online presence is key. Here are a few reliable tips to simplify the process and get you started.

  1. Setting realistic goals: When it comes to your weekly social media schedule, it’s okay to start small. Test out a few different social media platforms, and determine which are tailored to suit your needs. When you’re ready, write down a few weekly goals you would like to achieve and realistic ways you can meet them.
  2. Building a Following: Encourage customers to follow you on social media. One advantage of being a small brand is your ability to interact one on one with your customers. People are more likely to appreciate and trust your brand when you initiate person to person interaction/connections via the social web. A great way to find new content and make new connections is by following other bloggers, brands, or like-minded businesses you admire.
  3. Creating content for your audience: Before seeking out content to share, ask yourself: Who is my audience? What are they interested in? What might entertain them? or What expertise can I share with them? For example, if your company specializes in wedding supplies your audience might be primarily women, ages 20-40. They are likely to be interested in wedding related news and tips on how to prepare for their special day.
  4. Making a schedule: Determine how much time you want to devote to social media marketing per week. It’s important to consider if you have very limited time, or you just hate sitting in front of a computer. Check out your page analytics to get an idea of specific time frames when your followers are engaging with your posts and work from there. Once you have found your “optimal” posting times, you can simplify by scheduling posts ahead of time.
  5. Be Patient and be flexible. It’s not likely that you’ll become a Twitter celebrity overnight. Customizing a schedule that works for you and focusing on consistency will be two of your most important tools for success!

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Colleen Peddycord: ShopTender

ShopTender is a quick easy and insightful tool designed to enable independent online shop owners to sell on social media. ShopTender is free of cost and currently available for sellers on Etsy, Storenvy and Shopify. To learn more visit http://www.shoptender.com.

Are you ready to be a tough boss + a good employee?

toughboss1Here is the deal.  I really should fire my employee and here is why…

She comes to work late and leaves early.

She takes personal calls while at work (she doesn’t even get off when I come in the room!).

She calls off for reasons like taking a walk with a friend, lunch invites, school parties, and even a great sale at target.

She checks facebook, instagram, and email every half hour (or more).  

She takes regular breaks to get drinks of water and ends up chatting up the babysitter about her grandchildren for like 20 minutes.

Her work space is a total mess (usually).

She does not accomplish important business tasks I give her like getting her photos edited and blog post written and instead sews her adorable 2 year old a new dress.

She watches English period piece mini series on her ipad during work hours.

She is terribly indecisive about fabric purchases and waits until the last minute to get important sewing projects done.

She even uses old needles and dull scissors because she is too lazy to go get new ones even when I have set aside money for her to order them.

She has the GALL to complain about wanting a raise…

Maybe I am too tough of a boss?  Is it too much to ask this woman to shape up and do her best?  I know she can do it!  She is smart and motivated!  She has been with me since the beginning and she works really hard when she is under pressure.  She has made such cute and successful sewing patterns in the past but what am I supposed to do with her now?

It’s true, I cannot fire her.  But she does need a reality check about her work performance.  Did you guess who the employee is?   Yes- the employee is ME and I am sick and tired of my poor work ethic lately!

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Recently I laughed with a friend about getting my annual job review back when I worked in the city many years ago.  I remember being surprised by criticism that I was too tough on workers that I was in charge of during large projects.  Me?  Too hard on people?  I just expected them to work hard and get their jobs done!  Maybe my expectations were too high?

It did get me thinking about my current job performance and how that tough boss would treat me.  How did I get to be such a slacker?  If you are the sole worker in a handmade business, have you ever tried to give yourself an honest job review?  BE TOUGH.  Are you really using your precious work time efficiently?

Here is how I have gotten better…

I try really hard to be ready for work as soon as my sitter gets to my house. 

I turn off my email, facebook & instagram during work time.  Unless using them to promote my handmade biz of course!  

I listen to classical music (or nothing) and no more watching shows (even if downtown abbey  or the good wife is calling my name with a new episode) or listening to podcasts/ audio books.  Even regular music is distracting to me so I have switched to classical which I find really good for work.

I don’t take phone calls or send texts that are more than very quick scheduling things.

I schedule all friend and school stuff  on my non work days.

I make a list of what I want to accomplish that day and give myself rewards for getting that hard stuff done. Rewards are checking instagram or going upstairs to chat for FIVE minutes with my beloved babysitter.  She is on board now with my tenuous work situation and makes me go back to my studio ASAP!

I did tell my tough boss to chill out about the messy work space and give me a break about indecisive fabric choices.  I am doing the best I can!  AND, I told her that I work best under pressure so if it seems to her that I am waiting until the last minute, that is simply how the best creative me reveals herself.  She still wants me to work on those, but understands they are not such a quick fix.

Here is a check list for you from one tough handmade boss to another…

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I actually printed mine out and it is hanging by my desk to remind myself not to be such a slacker.  It’s pretty ugly too, so the sooner these good habits (40 days makes a habit!) take hold, the sooner I can take that ugly piece of paper off my pretty studio wall!  Here is the PDF so you can enjoy the ugliness too…

So, what do you think?  Do you have something to add to the tough handmade boss checklist?  How could you be a better employee for yourself?  How would you want an employee to act if you could hire one?  I would love to hear what you think!

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Virginia Lindsay — Gingercake Patterns and Design

Virginia Lindsay designs sewing patterns for Gingercake Patterns and Design. She loves the to sew practical, fun, and stylish things! Several of her patterns have been published by Simplcity and she has also written 2 books. Sewing to Sell and Fabric Stash Cuties:  Pretty Little Birds.

Win A Ticket To Maker Mentors!

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 8.46.20 PMA few weeks ago I told you all about the Maker Mentors Conference coming up online. I will be talking about optimizing your day for creativity and I am so excited. I am even more excited to announce that I am giving away a ticket ($200 value) to one lucky reader! Woohoo!

To enter just comment below with one thing that keeps your creativity from flowing. It can be anything from comparing yourself to other artists, lack of sleep, fear, etc. I want to know! I have written my section for the conference already and would love to tweak it based on your responses.

Go here to learn more about the conference: makermentors.org. Giveaway ends Thursday night at midnight (PST). Winner will be announced on this post on Friday, May 8th, 2015.

Winner announced!!!
It is Dionne Siegrist. Congratulations, Dionne!
I will be in touch shortly. I loved reading everyone’s responses. I feel like I could offer a whole course to help everyone deal with their creative blocks. Hmmm…. maybe in the future! (The winner was pick using Random.org)
 

The Network: Cultivating a Support Group of Empowerment

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The saying goes “Behind every successful man is a great woman”, an antiquated adage that acknowledged a woman supports her successful man, but she herself could never achieve success. There is still a lot of work to be done, but these times, finally, they are a’changing. Women have become great successes of their own accord, but often, it could not have been done without a powerful support system.

I recently came across the quote “Behind every successful woman should be a tribe of women who have her back”. This quote, which came from one of those very women who have my back, speaks volumes about how women need to support each other to be successful. In fact, I would change the quote to “Behind every successful woman IS a tribe of women who have her back”.

When I started the grand adventure to launch my own jewelry company, which meant doing everything from designing to fabricating to marketing to financials, I leaned on friends and family for support. And they have delivered in spades, but I did not expect to develop such a strong network of female empowerment. Through every aspect of this journey, there has been a woman that has supported me, taking me one step further in the path of success. The opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences, while also learning from others comes through this very site, a virtual network of support, knowledge and experience. Through a variety of events and markets, I have amassed a collection of fellow female independent makers. Whether it is as simple as a like on social media, an answer to a question via email or a brainstorming coffee break, this group is a foundation of support. I am thankful for the web of “brand ambassadors”, connected women that wear their Crusoe Jewelry with pride, pointing all inquiries directly to the website. And of course there are the dynamic women, who took a chance on an unknown designer, who own some of the stores that carry Crusoe Jewelry that continually push the brand to their clients.

Without this powerful network of women, Crusoe Jewelry would be nothing more than a passionate idea. I count on each of these women for support, inspiration and knowledge. And of course, there are the incredible men who have bolstered Crusoe Jewelry along the way, but there is something so potent about the power of women. Embrace the power by creating and expanding your own network. Connect with fellow makers via social media, by email or take the conversation offline. Think about who have helped you in developing your business and pay it forward by supporting their endeavors. Express gratitude for the relentless encouragement. Share in the comments what your network has done for you.

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Maya AhluwaliaCrusoe Jewelry

Maya Ahluwalia is the designer behind Crusoe Jewelry, a fashion jewelry line inspired by nautical motifs, but interpreted into stylish designs for the fashion-forward consumer with an appreciation for quality with an artisanal approach. Each design is hand-crafted in her Brooklyn-based studio.

In addition to creating Crusoe Jewelry, Maya is a marketing consultant with expertise in jewelry, fashion and luxury. Clients include Michael Aram Jewelry, Shawn Ames Fine Jewelry, Wells House Bed & Breakfast, and the LOU Lookbook App.

Business Shopping with a Tax Refund

$Did you get your tax refund yet? How do you plan on spending it? Are you putting it back into your business?

How can creative entrepreneurs can use their tax refund to grow their business? What items do you have on your business shopping list?

“Tax refunds are a great way to put some fire under back burner business plans.  And with the average personal return over $3,000 (according to the IRS) people can accomplish quite a bit.  They can also extend a return further with an injection of capital from P2P lending, credit cards or small business financing from Kabbage .

Some projects may include consulting, website upgrade, brick and mortar makeover, POS or tech upgrades, training or seminars, inventory expansion, advertising and marketing, trade show or festival fees…the list goes on.  How might businesses prioritize for the most impact?”

The real reason I want to share this post is to see what you are planning on spending your refund on if it is business related. I think your answers can inspire and help other business owners discover smart ways to invest in themselves.

So are you planning on spending your refund to grow your business?

(this is NOT an affiliate post – I just loved the idea so much I wanted to share and hear from you on this subject)