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HANDMADE + CREATIVE BUSINESS

Etsy Shop Critique – our newest kit!!!

One of the biggest things I wish I had when I started Zenned Out was a pair of expert eyes on my Etsy shop and someone telling me I was doing a good job. After figuring out all of the ins and outs on my own I went on to have a hugely successful Etsy shop.

I want to help you avoid all of the trial and error, and loads of your valuable time! To help you, I created an Etsy Shop Critique and asked Kerry to come in and add some self-care love to the process.

If you feel like there’s endless advice about running your Etsy shop but don’t know where to start, this is your kit! By focusing on some key topics we can help you narrow down what areas you need the most help with.

This critique will help you target the areas you’re already amazing at, areas that may need some love, and give you insight about what you need to focus on to take your shop to the next level.

You are not in this alone! We will be with you every step of the way asking you to check in with yourself and make sure you’re are taking care of yourself as much as you are trying to take care of your shop.

We’ve broken this critique down into 11 sections that all need some attention in order to have a well oiled Etsy shop. You can tackle them all at once, or skip around to sections you know you might need more help with, or slowly work through each topic.

Here are the sections we cover in the kit: 

  • Branding
  • Photography
  • Listings
  • Pricing
  • Getting Found
  • Stats & Analytics
  • Shipping & Packaging
  • Retaining Customers
  • Social Media
  • Self Care

Each section is a mix of yes or no questions, open-ended questions that require a bit more reflection, and a notes area to jot down ideas, inspirations, and todos. Plus, each section ends with a check-in so you can touch in with how you feel about each topic.

As with all of our kits, this kit also includes some beautiful affirmation cards for you to print out to help get you in the right frame of mind.

Click here to grab your downloadable Etsy Shop Critique Kit!

Looking for some individualized guidance? We also offer a personalized Etsy Shop Critique that includes the downloadable kit and a one page review by Cassie of your Etsy shop.

Click here to check out the personalized Etsy Shop Critique.


Start Before You’re Ready // Building Your Own Website

Looking to build your own website in addition to your Easy shop for your handmade business? This blog post will help you get it done!So, you’ve put countless hours into your Etsy shop, right? And the thought of putting even more time into creating your own website might be enough to make you want to crawl in a hole and never come out.

Creating your own website might seem like willingly jumping into a rabbit hole. Yes, if you’re talking building a robust ecommerce site, it can be an in depth, timely, and expensive process. Fortunately that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about today. Today, we’re just talking about getting your website started.

Your mental chatter might sound something like this, “Isn’t creating my own website a huge time commitment?”, “Is it even worth my time to create my own website?”, and “I’ve barely got Etsy figured out, how could I figure out creating my own website?”.

Let me clear up one of those concerns right now. Yes, creating your own website IS worth it.

Here are a few reasons why…

I love Etsy and my business wouldn’t be where it is today without Etsy, but Etsy does have it’s downfalls. Etsy is an unstable marketplace that you do not have complete control over. Etsy features can happen one week causing an unmanageable influx of orders, get pulled 2 weeks later causing a dry spell when you just hired extra help, they change their SEO and format constantly, and their traffic can change with no warning or explanation. Zenned Out has been subject to each of these uncontrollables, with mixed results.

Need some more reasons?

  • A website is a more powerful extension of your brand
  • Customers and retail buyers (especially) will take you more seriously
  • You can have a blog (more on why you’ll want this later!)
  • You can capture customer emails with proper opt-ins (more on why you’ll want to be doing this later!)
  • You have COMPLETE control over everything. No one can change your website or suddenly change your traffic without your permission.
  • Oh, also, those pesky Etsy fees, you won’t have to pay those anymore! Side note, building a website might cost you some $ eventually, but in the long run you’ll be saving, why not start now?

Are there any downsides to building your own website?

The short answer, no, there’s no downside to creating your own website.

Creating your own website can be costly, depending on how robust you want it to be. Creating a website is also a time commitment. Downsides, maybe? I like to think of it as an investment.

Still not sold? I’m going to map out how to start before you’re ready with your website so you can ease yourself into it with confidence.

r handmade or creative business. Tips, tools, and more!How to start before you’re ready building your own website

Here are all of the things you DON’T have to have starting out: a shop, a checkout cart, an expensive graphic designer, a blog, an SEO expert, terms and conditions, an about page.

Let me take the fear out of starting your own website right now. Getting started all you need is a landing page, which consists of the following:

  • 1 product image or modeled shot of a product
  • 1 logo
  • An opt-in box of any kind to start collecting your ideal clients email addresses. This will require a email newsletter program, which I’ll go into more detail about on later blog. Starting out on MailChimp, is free and easy.
  • A “Shop” tab that links to your Etsy shop

That’s it! Even better, you could create this for free in an afternoon.

Boom, website started.

Let’s dig a little deeper. You might be wondering what platforms are best to start out on. I’ve broken them down into a few categories for you here:

Free and easy

If you’re planning to stick with a simple landing page for a while and want to start with a free option, these are your best starting points:

  • Wix.com
  • Weebly.com

Affordable and moderate work

If you’re hoping to build off of your landing page pretty quickly with a shop or a blog, or you want more control over your page layout here are some good and affordable starting points:

  • Squarespace.com (This is where I started)
  • Weebly.com (paid version)

Investment with lots of work

If you know that you’re going to hit the ground running and will want a robust website sooner rather than later here are some good starting points. These option may require outside help from a web designer and web developer:

  • Shopify.com
  • Woocommerce.com
  • Bigcommerce.com

Next steps…

With the basics of your website started you can plan accordingly for building onto it. This process could take anywhere from a few months to a few years, it’s totally up to you. For Zenned Out, our site spent time as a simple landing page collecting emails, to adding a blog a year later, and eventually to where it is now as a robust e-commerce site. Our website evolution, overall, has taken about 4 years. Your process may look similar or very different, both are fine as long as you’re moving forward!

Here are some suggestions for how to continue the growth of your new website:

  1. Create your landing page (outlined above).
  2. Create an about page on your new website. Hopefully you already have this completed on your Etsy shop so you can copy and past away!
  3. Add a blog (though you could hold off on this step until later if you wanted).
  4. Create a “Terms and Conditions” page. Similar to your Etsy shop policies.
  5. Add a shop and shopping cart to your website.

Yes, getting all the way to the end of this list will require time, effort and money. But, we’re not talking about finishing this list today, all we’re talking about is getting started.

No more excuses, it’s time to take your website fears by the hand and jump into starting your own website!

Have questions or tips about getting started on your first website for your handmade biz? Leave them in the comments below!

Build you own website for your creative business. Learn about landing pages, gathering emails, and more

Disappear your Fear with Facebook Live

Just like Shakira sang about how her “hips don’t lie”, I’m not fibbing when I blast you with these video stats.

  • After watching a video 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online
  • 90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process
  • Enjoyment of videos increase purchase intent 97% and brand association by 139%
  • ⅓ of all online activity is spent watching video
  • Dr James McQuivey (whoever he is but he sounds smart) says that 1 min of video is the equivalent to 1.8m words

So, ask yourself honestly….are you fully utilising video to grow your craft & art business…specifically Facebook Live?

When I performed a quick survey in my Facebook group of makers about Facebook Live I was overwhelmed at how intimidated, under confident and downright scary people believed it was!

“What if no one shows up live?”

“What do I say about my crafts? I have no idea how to make a video about them!”

“I’m too petrified to be face on with the camera – it feels waaay too exposed”

“I’m too boring to make a video that people will want to watch”

Resonating at all?

I know it feels scary and uncomfortable but with stats like the above, can you afford to ignore this HUGE opportunity for getting in front of new potential customers? Especially if your competitors are staying in the wings building up their confidence.

We’ve all heard about the ever elusive Facebook algorithm and what it likes and doesn’t like, but I can guarantee that Facebook Live videos are definitely in the “like” camp.

Already businesses are seeing a huge surge in their likes, sales and awareness purely from adding Facebook Live videos to their marketing plethora. Take Guy Kawasaki, a financial and business guru who shares tips and help via FB Live – his Facebook page has lit up purely from this one easy and FREE tool.

Why are Live streaming videos more powerful than pre-recorded videos?

Live streaming videos are all about connecting with your audience in real time. It’s as close as any of us can get to meeting our customers and fans face to face. It’s more authentic than pre-recorded videos (people know you can’t go back and edit them!) and in the shiney, 24k coated world of the online business, it is SO needed and wanted by consumers.

Jackie, I’m still petrified, can you help me?

Well I’m so glad you asked!

I’m running a free 3 day mini course on how to disappear your fear with Facebook Live starting 17th April.

Join me for a daily Facebook Live (of course) where I break down:

  • Why this tool is a MUST for your craft business in 2017
  • Ideas for video content specific for makers and product based businesses
  • FAQs – let’s break down the tech and tips for getting confident to step out of the wings onto the stage!

Click here to see the event on my Facebook page and hope to see you there!

 

Jackie Muscat

Jackie Muscat helps the confused maker & artist create a successful brand and business on Facebook. In 2015, she transformed her kid’s mural business with zero likes, zero online presence and zero authority into a flourishing side hustle, with a 12 week waiting list in just 6 months. All achieved by using proven Facebook tactics. She now packages up her Facebook & online marketing knowledge into videos, blogs and courses for creatives serious about turning their hobby into a business online. You can read more about her here and join her free Facebook group where she’s hanging out like a bad smell that reeks of super helpful advice bombs here

http://www.craftmysuccess.com


Start Before You’re Ready // Social Media

Now you know some good reasons why you should start before you’re ready and Kerry gave you a breathing technique and an exercise to help you get in the zone to start before you’re ready! If you missed either of them, click here to check out my post and here to check out Kerry’s.

There are some key areas that I see makers avoid starting all the time. No judgement, I’ve been one of them! Starting something new, especially in your carefully created handmade biz, can be scary and super intimidating.

Avoiding trying new things in your business might feel nice for a while, but in the long run it could be the death of your business.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be diving deep into the 6 key areas that I see makers avoid the most.  I’m going to give you the support you need to start before you’re ready on the following topics:

–  Social Media

–  Building your own website

–  Starting a newsletter

–  Wholesale

–  Blogging

–  Hiring

Each of these areas will most likely force you out of your comfort zone in some way and into being more authentic and open in front of your audience. So, it’s no surprise that these 6 areas are some of the most commonly avoided by makers, this stuff can be scary!

Take a deep breath, I’m going to walk you through each one of these areas and tell you exactly how to start before you’re ready in each category.

Let’s jump in! Embrace the uncomfortableness of the unknown as we get started with the first topic I see makers avoid totally or avoid taking seriously: social media.  

On your long maker to-do list social media might be the farthest thing from your mind. Maybe you’re avoiding it completely or have a personal page that you randomly share your products on.

If you’re avoiding social media you could be missing a treasure trove of your ideal customers that are ready to buy.

Social media doesn’t have to be a chore, and you absolutely do not need to take on more than you can commit to.

Here are 4 steps to start before you’re ready with social media, you might be surprised how easy and fun it can be!  

Step 1: The snowball effect

Start with one social media platform. If you already have some, but aren’t really taking them seriously, pick one to focus on. Once you have one mastered and running like a well oiled machine, move onto the next one, and repeat with as many platforms as you’d like!

I know what you’re thinking…

“How do I know which social media platform is right for me to start with? “

Answer these questions to find out.

  • Where do your ideal customers hang out?
  • What social media platform do you enjoy the most?
  • What social media platform is easiest for you to commit to using on a regular basis?
  • What social media platform works best for your business budget right now?

The platform you answered the most questions with is your starting point. Don’t even worry about the others yet.

Step 2: Commit to a posting schedule

Repeat after me: I do not have to post on social media everyday unless I want to.

I talk to so many makers that say they can’t do social media because they don’t have time to do it everyday.

This is not a good excuse.

So, right here, right now, commit to a posting schedule that works for you. 3 posts per week is a good minimum to start.

  • 3 per week/ 12 monthly
  • 4 per week/ 16 monthly
  • 5 per week/ 20 monthly
  • 6 per week/ 24 monthly
  • Everyday/ 28-31 monthly

Step 3: Batch and schedule

The key to your time quandary: batching and scheduling. Schedule a couple hours a month to take all of your social media pictures for the month and schedule them out.

How much time do you spend a day thinking about all of the social media related things you should be doing. If you’re like me, WAY TOO MUCH. Haha! Batching and scheduling out my social media posts changed my world. It was one huge thing that was completely off my daily to-do list.

Some social media platforms allow you to schedule posts in advance for free, like Facebook and Twitter. Scheduling for Instagram and Pinterest isn’t built into their platforms so you’ll need to purchase a third party app.

Many of these scheduling apps are affordable and easy to use. Here’s a list of awesome scheduling programs to get you started:

Step 4: Prop bag

Your next question, “What do I take pictures of?”.

This is my favorite part about social media! Creating your prop bag is your opportunity to express your brand in another way outside of your products which is a great opportunity to be creative in another way, and it might even involve some tax write off shopping.

Side note: Make sure you’re crystal clear on your branding before committing to a crazy big prop arsenal.

With a prop bag in hand taking a pictures of your products, completed or in process, will be a breeze and on brand. At woo woo central, aka Zenned Out, our prop bag includes a multitude of crystals, smudge sticks, oracle cards, and minimal backgrounds. A good way to brainstorm good props for your brand is to ask yourself “What kind of products would your ideal customer have in their house as decoration?”.

Now you have all of the tools you need to seriously commit to one social media platform of your choice. My hope is that I’ve taken some of the guess work out of getting started with taking social media seriously and that you might even be a little bit excited about it!
Have a question? Let me know in the comments below! Already have a solid social media commitment? Comment below with your favorite tips for getting started.

Why You Should Start Before You’re Ready // A Maker’s Guide

You’ve got all of the ideas in your head, you know how you want your business to grow and what you want it to be, but taking that first step can be so daunting. Want to know a secret though? Those “first steps” never truly go away, there’ll always be something new, and it will always be little (or a lot) scary.

So, why do we wait, why do we sit on these new ideas we have for our businesses for so long before taking action?

Here are a few reasons…

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of financial loss
  • Fear of what other’s might think

Are you seeing a trend here? Fear, fear, fear, and more fear.

Running a business can sometimes feel like you’re constantly walking up to another precipice of unknown territory. Your inner chatter might go something like this…

“Great, I’ve got my Etsy shop up, let the money roll in!”

“What! I need to be authentic on social media?”

“Ok, perfect, social media is up and running, I feel good about this!”

“Should I have my own website? I don’t know how to put together a website!”

I’m sure you get where I’m going with this! As business owners we’re inundated with new things that we could be doing. What is a sensitive soul to do?

First, I want to tell you that you’re not alone. I’ve run Zenned Out for six years now and in the beginning I used to think, “when I have over 10,000 sales on Etsy everything will be fine” or “once I hit 20K followers on Instagram the sales will always be rolling in and everything will be good”, sound familiar?

In my six years, that moment has yet to come and when I talk to other business owners they mimic the same thing. Life happens, markets change, your business will change, and you’ll change. There will always be a next thing or a next step, and because we’re creatures of habit there will almost always be some resistance to it.

So, why should you start before you’re ready?

Because there’s always going to be another thing, and the fear of starting might never go away. My advice to you is to jump in and learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortableness of the unknown, change, and fear.

Running my own creative biz I’ve come across my fair share of “oh, hell no” scenarios including getting started with: social media, hiring, blogging, and wholesale.

Each of these hurdles, fear inducing as they may be, are important aspects of growing any business! Next week Kerry will be walking you through steps to get you energetically prepared to get started on what’s scaring you, and then I’ll be back to walk you through getting started on some of the top maker hurdles I’ve encountered.

Until then, let’s get the discussion started! What are you scared to move forward on right now? What are the big plans you’ve been sitting on and avoiding?