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HANDMADE + CREATIVE BUSINESS

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)

How To Craft The Perfect Newsletter

feat_hsIf you are business owner or even just a blog owner, you should perfectly know how vital a newsletter is in the marketing process of your activity. Not only it is vital, but if looked after with particular care it can bring great revenues and, most importantly, a one-to-one connection with your followers, leading them to trust both you and your activity more than ever. Making readers want to sign up to newsletter services is a big issue, as nowadays spamming is all over us and we only want to read interesting information that really appeals to us. And that’s the key, making your newsletter as readers would want it, with all the content that you think they’ll love and all the extras that they can gain by suscribing to your service.

Remember these 4 golden rules:

1. Always state the frequency of the newsletter, so that readers can make a conscious choice;
2. Explain why subscribing will give them extra stuff that just blog readers won’t have and state some examples of typical content they’ll read;
3. Use a simple and un-stressfull opt-in process, asking fundamental data only (probably e-mail and name): you don’t want people running away just because they’re obligated to give their phone number, it’d be unfair and counterproductive.
4. Use Call to Actions! We’ll never stop saying this. Use them everywhere, in the subscribing process, on your shop, in your emails, on your website, on blog posts, on social media.. wherever you can put them, it means you must. People are curious and love buttons!

Once all of this is set, the techy part of setting up the newsletter can be an itch of a problem, but with this step-by-step guide you’ll be able to set up your MailChimp Newsletter in a bit. What we’re going to make will look something like this. The whole process takes up to about 2h of work the first time, the process will then speed up to 1h if you get confident. Let’s dig in!

11. Subscribe to MailChimp and login. Your home screen might look different from ours if it’s the first time you use it. Don’t worry, search for “Campaigns” and hit “Create Campaign > Regular Ol’ Campaign”. (more…)

Improve Your Handmade Product Descriptions in Minutes

Got a few extra minutes of time to devote to your handmade biz? Spruce up your handmade product descriptions with these quick and simple tips!

Wrench Charms
Wrench Charms from Qutie Supplies

Handmade sellers have many “plates” to spin: product design, copywriting, product photography, marketing, customer service, etc. You’re busy.

Extra pockets of un-scheduled time are few and far between, but when they do come along, I have an idea for you: use that time to make some improvements to your product descriptions.

The following tasks take just a few minutes of time but can have a lasting impact on your customers (and your bottom line).

Add Testimonials or Positive Feedback (10 minutes)

Handmade artisans who sell their products online already know the importance of social proof.  A great way to include social proof in your online shop is to include testimonials or positive feedback in your product descriptions. If you sell similar items, gather testimonials or feedback you’ve received about those items, and include them in the product description. Customers love to read about others’ experiences with your products, and some won’t make a purchase if they can’t find any positive reviews.

If you sell on Etsy, you have access to your customer feedback in your account, but you’ll need some sort of system for tracking and/or gathering your product testimonials.

Testimonials often arrive in the form of:

  • Comments on your business Facebook page
  • Emails from customers
  • Convos from customers on Etsy

Create a document called “Customer Testimonials.” Copy and paste testimonial wording into the document (along with the name of the customer, if desired), and keep it handy for including in your product descriptions.

Answer some FAQs about the Product (10-15 minutes)

If you’ve ever received an email or an Etsy convo with a question about the product, consider including that question (and your answer) in the product description! If one person had a question, it’s likely that others will too!

Creating a section in the product description called “FAQs” draws the potential customer’s eye to that section. If the product details are buried deep within the description, the customer might skim right over them. Pull out the important details in an FAQ section.

Add Upselling Links (5-10 minutes)

I’ve talked about upselling here and here on my blog, but in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, upselling is linking customers to other products you sell that are similar or complementary to the product you are currently featuring.

There are two ways to include upselling in your product description:

  1. Add links to coordinating items (think matching pieces).
    1. If you sell necklaces, add links to matching bracelets and/or earrings.
    2. If you sell pillow covers, add links to the pillow inserts that go inside the covers.
    3. If you sell tablecloths, add links to the matching napkins.
  2. Add links to items from the same category/section in your shop.
    1. Use wording such as, “Click here to view the other ___ in my shop.”

Remember that on Etsy, links to other Etsy listings or shop sections become clickable, making it easy for customers to click over and view your additional products. Your goal should be to keep customers in your shop as long as possible.

Organize Your Product Description Layout (10-15 minutes)

Customers can easily become overwhelmed by a lengthy product description. In fact, if your description is long, they might just skim over it or not read it at all! Yikes!

Organize the description however you wish, but here are a few sections to include:

  • keyword-rich description of the product
  • product details (dimensions, materials, etc.)
  • FAQs
  • your creative process (if desired)
  • your inspiration (if desired)
  • upselling (links to other products in your shop)

You could even use characters to separate the different sections of your product description. I like how this seller sets off certain parts of her product description with lines above and below the sections:

JillianReneDecor Pillow
Pillow from Jillian Rene Decor

NOTE: Avoid using creative characters in the beginning of your product description. Remember that the Google snippet comes from the first several characters of your product description, and you don’t want to waste that SEO juice with nonsensical characters! Read more information about the Google snippet for your handmade product listings.

Proofread Your Product Description (10-15 minutes)

We talked about proofreading in this post, but just to re-cap, a product listing with errors could cause potential customers to doubt the quality of your product. Check your product listing for wording errors by using a free online editor such as PaperRater or Hemingway Editor.

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I’d recommend that you schedule a regular check of your product listings. Create a monthly calendar and update one listing daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly—whatever you have time for!

The next time you have an extra 10-15 minutes to devote to your handmade business, use this list of tasks to improve your product descriptions. You’ll be glad you did!

Juliebio

Julie Corbett – On The Dot Creations

On the Dot Creations features handmade creations and shares biz tips with those who sell them. Check out Julie’s free video series3 Reasons Your Product Photography Might Be Turning Customers Away, or her brand new online workshopDIY Product Photography.

New Look and A New Direction Around Here!

shopsmallnewGood morning creatives! Notice anything different around here? The look of Handmade Success has changed for the first time in years and we couldn’t be more excited about it!

Here is a little update about what is happening:

New look

– this site was long over due for a little refresh of the logo and I am so excited about this new look. You will see this carried over in social media as well.

New Instagram account

– our Instagram account had been part my life and part Handmade Success. I have decided to make it specifically geared towards creative entrepreneurs by making it a separate account. Come follow us here: https://instagram.com/handmadesuccess/

New help

– I have decided to bring on some of the contributors here in a larger role so Handmade Success can become more of a collaborative site. I believe this will be a tremendous benefit to all of you. I can’t wait to see how this evolves!

I would love to know your thoughts and feel free to let us know in the comments what you would like to see happening here on the site and on social media!

Stranded Treasures: Wearable Hand Sculpted Blossoms

strandedcollageWhether or not is feels like spring outside where you are today I want it to feel like spring on your computer! I am so happy to introduce you to Stranded Treasures designed by artist Sharlene Maher. I think her colorful work will definitely brighten your day! I have absolutely fallen in love with the beauty of her designs!

Purple-Iris-Necklacepurple iris necklace

Sharlene started sculpting flowers from clay 12 years ago and is now making a living from what she once considered just an enjoyable pastime. She has taken her passion that was inspired by memories of flowers and scents from living in New Jersey, San Francisco and Florida full-time and is loving discovering new ways to grow and share her work with the world.

Pink-Lily-Studspink lily earrings

She does not use any molds to create her flowers – can you believe that?! She loves to focus on the art of sculpting and mixing colors to bring her visions to life. Her attention to detail comes to life in each photo of her jewelry and also in all of the options she offers. Customers can have the flowers in different sizes, on rings, on lockets, as clip-on earrings (perfect for my mom!) and she even has a scented variation!

Red-Rose-Studsred rose earrings

A big reason she has such a diverse selection is due to balancing her creative nature with listening to her customers. As her business has grown she has learned a lot about her customers and that they are similar to that of a florist – people shopping for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, romantic gestures and more. She has now created a site full of gorgeous designs that she loves creating because she know her customers will love them too.

Red-Poppy-Sterling-Silver-Braceletred poppy bracelet

I encourage you to spend some time on Stranded Treasures today. Allow yourself to be whisked away as if in a meadow of every flower you have ever seen. Did I mention there will be butterflies there too? Be sure to follow Sharlene on her Facebook page too. I hope you enjoyed starting spring with these gorgeous creations and be sure so share this post with a friend who might enjoy a little bouquet today!

Hibiscus-Pendant-Necklace2hibiscus necklace

This post was kindly sponsored by Stranded TreasuresAll views and ideas here are my own.