Category: Online Selling

Preparing for the Christmas and Holiday Rush

Many craft sellers will be hoping that the upcoming holiday season will bring in lots of sales.  For some it can be quite a stressful prospect with long hours and rushing around.  Whether you sell online or have Christmas stalls, for a short period of time it is a big increase in your workload.

Here are some actions you can take now to help make your Christmas shopping period a bit easier this year:

1 – Shipping Materials

Make sure you have your basic shipping supplies ready in plenty of time.  As well as things like boxes and mailers, don’t forget sticky tape, Sharpy pens and the other bits and bobs you need to safely package your products.

You may also be able to save money by buying shipping supplies in bulk.  If you have a friend who also needs the product, share the cost of buying a larger quantity and you also share the savings.

2 – Materials

Whilst it is very hard to predict how much one will sell, running out of a hard to get material could scupper your Christmas production.  In particular, make sure you have ordered any materials that come from overseas and might take longer to get to you.  It might be worth making a list of alternative sources for important materials, in case you find yourself needing last minute supplies.

3 – Prepare Bases

Are there some products that you could partially prepare in advance?  For example, if you sell painted peg dolls then you could undercoat a big batch now so as to save this step during the holiday rush.  Whilst this is not practical for all shops, for some, it can be a lifesaver.

If you are making products to order, but know that some products sell regularly, have some “in stock” now.

4 – Rope the Family In

Explain to your family that you may need their help in the upcoming seasonal rush.  Allocate any tasks they can help you with.  Consider asking friends if they will be able to help if necessary.

Decide now who will be taking the children to school, who will cook dinners and so on.

5 – Start your Personal Preparations

Avoid panic over your personal holiday preparations by doing what you can now.  Plan the big dinner, buy and wrap presents, create or buy cards and so on.  Then you can concentrate on your business when you need to and still enjoy your own celebrations.

6 – Prep Your Life

Consider how you can make your busy period less busy.  Prepare and freeze meals away so you ensure you are eating properly during the rush.  Get in the healthy snacks (I have to say that, but hey, you can have chocolate if you want, I won’t judge).    Reorganise your workspace so everything is as efficient as possible.   Make sure your supplies are clearly labelled so you can grab what you need quickly.  Invest in any extra storage or tools now so you are raring to go.

7 – Hang on to Invoices

Get a box, wallet or similar to store the invoices from business purchases over the busy period.  Then you can deal with them after the rush without things getting lost in the meantime.

For example, pin a cardboard box up.  Whenever you post something, put the postal receipt into the box.  They are then all safe until you have a chance to add them to your accounts software, accounts book or however you handle accounts.

8 – Work out and Prepare your Marking Strategy

Create blog posts, social networking posts and other marketing materials now.  Use scheduling software and plugins so you can release the marketing automatically if you can.

9 – Make a Date

Make sure you know when the last posting dates are for the various places you ship to.  You could prepare a message now to send to anyone who orders after that date (saying it is after the post office’s recommend date so delivery for Christmas may not happen).  Prepare any other “cut and paste” messages you might need: for example asking for more information for personalized items, checking on details or warning of any expected delays due to weather etc.

10 – Schedule in some Me Time

A busy holiday season can be exhausting.  Stock up on relaxing bath soaks to unwind in, and music or audiobooks to listen to whilst creating.  Try to ensure you take breaks as often as necessary and get a good night’s sleep wherever possible.  You will be more efficient when rested and get more done in less time.  If you are overtired and stressed you are far more likely to make costly errors!

Have Fun!

I hope you have a fun and profitable holiday season!

Craft Llama – a New Crafting Community Website

Launching today (1st Septemeber 2017) is the new crafting community website, CraftLlama.com.

I was looking for a safe, friendly, fun crafting community to join and my son suggested: “why not make your own?”

Seven months, many sleepless nights and grey hairs later – I have!

Craft Llama is totally free for everyone. If you join before 1st November you will get Charter Member status with a special badge on your profile page.

Craft Llama is for everyone who likes to craft. All crafts, all ages, all nationalities, everyone!

 

 

Dozens of Fantastic Free Course Books From Open University now on Amazon

Just a quickie to tell you about the amazing totally free course books that the Open University have added to Amazon.

They are issued in conjunction with the free courses available on the OU’s website (or at Future Learn).

The books cover many different subjects and provide a short but detailed overview of the subject.  They vary in length from 20 or so pages up to about 128.

Of particular interest to craft sellers might be:

My Top Seven Must Read Business Books

To day I thought I would share with you the seven books (plus a few extras) which I have found most useful, inspirational or otherwise helpful with creating and running my businesses.

These books are not specifically aimed at craft sellers, but I have found them very useful in building my business, branding, marketing and generally improving my “entrepreneurial mindset”.

I have included links to the books on Amazon.co.uk and will get a small commission if you should buy from these links.  The links are for the print version but most are also available in Kindle and other digital formats, usually for a lower price.  I personally own all of these books in either traditional print or Kindle versions.

1 – Eat That Frog! – Brian Tracy

It sounds a bit dramatic (and cliched) to say it, but this book really did change my life.  Yeah, honest.  When I first read this it was a real wake up call.  I was aware that I had a big problem with procrastination, but wasn’t doing anything about it (big shocker, eh?)  Eat That Frog! explained why I procrastinate and how to stop it – well, maybe I haven’t totally stopped, but I sure do it a lot less now.  I reread this book every 6 months or so as a refresher.  It is an easy read, and entertaining.  Highly recommended to everyone who is thinking “Well, I suppose I should do something about my procrastinating, but…”

2 – Key Person of Influence – Dan Priestley

This is another book that really got me thinking.  If you can become a “key person of influence” in your niche then this is one of the most powerful boosts your business can have.  Dan discusses what a key person is and how to work towards becoming one.  I have gone back to this book many times for inspiration as I work towards becoming a key person of influence in my own business niches.

I also have “Oversubscribed” and “Entrepreneur Revolution” by the same author and found them very interesting and useful too.

3 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

This is a very fascinating book.  Cialdini discusses the psychology of why people choose what to buy, how salesmen make the most of this and how you yourself can use this knowledge to improve your business (and life in general.)  This is a best selling book for a reason – it is a real eye opener.  I found myself seeing many things in a new light after reading Influence.

If you sell things, anything, then this is a book that you will benefit from reading, simple as that.

4 – Why We Buy – Paco Underhill

I bought this book many years ago simply because it “looked interesting”.  Well, indeed it was and I have since read it many times.  Underhill talks about the way people shop and the tactics used by shops and marketers to encourage them to do so.  You will suddenly see your local supermarket in a very different way after reading this book!  Lots of useful information for anyone who is selling to the public.

5 – Maximum Achievement – Brian Tracy

In many ways this is my “comforter blanket” book.  Brian Tracy gives lots of tried-and-tested advice on many different elements of life, business and success.  I often grab this book and read a bit to give my confidence a boost or to inspire me to push on with my goals.  Lots of useful strategies that can be adapted for many different businesses and lifestyles.  Including Brian’s clear and simple goal setting strategies – now a very important part of my life.

I would also recommend Brian Tracy’s book “Goals!” which tackles goal setting in more detail.  It is a very inspiring book and one that I genuinely believe can help make a difference to one’s life.

6- Web Sites That Work – Jon Smith

This is a heavily illustrated, fun to read book and ideal for anyone who is trying to design their own website – or employing someone else to do it.  Lots of guidelines on how to make your website clear and easy for visitors to navigate – plus plenty of examples of what not to do.

Much of the advice would also be relevant for other forms of online communication such as social networking, blogs and online shops.

7 – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway- Susan Jeffers

This is a very famous best-selling book.  Someone bought it for me, and at first I was rather sniffy about reading it.  Eventually I started, and then felt rather silly because it turned out to be a really important book in my life.  I first read this when my son was  very little and I was spending far too much of my time fretting about all the dangers and problems he would face in his life.  Susan’s book really helped me dispel those fears.

There are a lot of little stories, a lot of friendly little pep-talks and a lot of good ol’ common sense in this volume.  The ideas make sense and have stuck in my head.  I apply things I have learnt from “Feel the Fear” to my life every day, literally.  There are not too many books that one can say that about, now is there?

TTMyFavouriteBooksWould you care to share some of your favourite books in the comments?

Free Course for Online Business Owners – FutureLearn Course

I have been doing quite a lot of FutureLearn (www.Futurelearn.com) courses lately.  They are free to do and last between 2 and 8 weeks.  You can do them at your own pace as long as you register during the official time period.  Once completed you can pay for a certificate or award if you choose, but this is totally optional.

FutureLearn – Online Business: Planning for Success

On Monday 8th August a new course is starting which may be of interest to those of you who run craft businesses online.  The course is called “Online Business: Planning for Success” and, as the name suggests, is all about planning a new business or reassessing an existing one.  The course lasts for 4 weeks (so you need to register before then to do it, though it will probably be repeated later in the year too).  They recommend it will take about 2 hours of work per week.  I have found some of the courses can be done much faster than the recommended times but of course it depends on whether you have any prior knowledge of the subject and how fast you absorb info.

The course is part of a series called “Online Business Success” which has three other courses to come:

Customer Profiling for Success – starts 12 September
Pricing for Success – starts 17 October
Digital Marketing for Success – starts 21 November

I intend to do all four.  Keep an eye out for me in the comments sections if you join in too.

I highly recommend checking out the huge range of courses on offer on FutureLearn.  All the ones I have done have been very professional, interesting and entertaining.  They cover lots of different subjects including history, language, business, technology and “just for fun”.

 

Create and Craft Disney Range – Angel Policy Now says Personal Use Only

This is an update to my post of 27 June about the confusion over Create and Craft’s usage policy/s for their new range of Disney themed dies, stamps and papers.

Many Create and Craft customers had expressed confusion over the repeated declarations that one could sell cards and other items made using the Disney dies.  This seemed very surprising to many crafters who are familiar with Disney’s usual strict usage restrictions on their trademarked characters.

I received a reply to the email I sent Create and Craft repeating the standard Create and Craft Angel Policy (that one could sell up to 200 items a year etc).  I then had a phone call from a lady in the customer service department.  She assured me that Stephanie Weightman had spent six months negotiating this “amazing deal”.  I did ask why Stephanie had not been singing it from the rooftops from the first tv showing (at which point the C&C website was saying “personal use only”).  The customer service lady said that there had been “a confusion” but they were a big company and knew what they were doing.  She again and again said that one could definitely sell up to 200 items per year using each Disney product. She also reminded me that C&C have lawyers and would never issue usage policies like this unless they were very sure.

Today I popped onto the Create and Craft website to have a look at what the Angel Policy said now (just out of curiosity).  The extra Angel Policy tabs are not gone from the listings and instead there is a link at the bottom of the description leading to Create & Craft’s standard Angel Policy page.   Link to Create & Craft’s Angel Policy

On 11 July they added the following Exception Note (screen shot below):

Date: 11th July 2016 – Disney branded craft products sold by Create and Craft.

“Disney has granted the rights to various third parties to design, develop, manufacture and sell a range of craft products for consumers; licensed craft products are intended for use by consumers for personal and family enjoyment, such as making gifts for family, birthdays or other private celebrations. Licensed products may not be used by consumers to sell or distribute any items they produce using the craft products outside of the private, family sphere.”

CreateCraftDisneyPolicy

Now it says what so many of us had expected it to have said all along: that Disney have confirmed that the dies are for personal use only.  Commercial use (ie selling things made with them) is indeed forbidden.

There is a new announcement on Facebook pointing to the new policy, but not apologizing for the significant confusion.

Many C&C Facebook fans have expressed feelings of anger and sadness that they were encouraged to buy these high-priced products with reassurances that were not in fact accurate.

Link to my original post on this subject – Create and Craft Disney Range – Serious confusion over usage

 

Create and Craft Disney Range – Serious confusion over usage

Yesterday the tv shopping channel, Create and Craft, proudly released the first parts of their new Disney crafting products.  There are dies, stamps, embossing folders, paper pads and even themed die-cutting machines.  The first two sets available are Vintage Mickey Mouse and the ever popular Frozen.

However viewers did not greet the new range with quite the enthusiasm that Create and Craft may have wished for.

The products are rather pricey, compared to other popular dies etc.  They have been made by Tattered Lace, who are one of the more expensive die brands, but the asking price caused many C&C viewers to post on Facebook that they were shocked.  The bundles on offer went up to a staggering £1000 package for “everything on the show”.  To get all the products for either cartoon theme you would need to spend £221.81 or £199.63 for members of their club.

CreateCraftFrozenCollection

One of the reasons that viewers were upset at the price was the Angel Policy added to the listings on Create and Craft’s website. As one would expect, Disney do not allow crafters to sell finished items made with these dies because the characters are trademarked.  Disney has a very stiff criteria list if you want permission to use  their characters commercially.  Using them without permission  is illegal, therefore a very serious matter.

DisneyAngelPolicy

Many viewers posted on Create and Craft’s Facebook page to say how disappointed they were at the high prices, especially as they could only use the products for personal use.

Tattered Lace’s Facebook page had the following message:

At no point during the day’s many tv shows promoting these products did presenters Stephanie Weightman and Mel Heaton mention the Angel Policy.  I personally would have assumed that there would have been a statement about it on the screen at all times, as it is so very important.  But nothing was said…  at all.

And then in the late afternoon things got interesting…

The following announcement was posted on the company’s Facebook page:

Quickly followed by a confirmation post from Stephanie herself.

The same post was added to the Tattered Lace Facebook page as well.

Immediately confused viewers began to express their surprise at this turnabout.

If Create and Craft really had the rights to allow their customers to sell Disney products, would they not be shouting this from the highest mountains?

Usually, obtaining the right to sell products with Disney characters on requires the seller to comply with a pretty stringent set of criteria – Details of Disney licensing requirements here

How could it possibly be the case that ” individuals are free to do what ever they want with then finished hand made craft products, this includes selling them”?

So if I want to launch a range of Mickey Mouse themed bondage gear?  Disney are definitely not going to be ok with that.  Any usage rights they did grant would be subject to usage restrictions, they do not want people using their characters in ways that are inappropriate to the family-friendly image they work so hard to maintain.

Potential Create and Craft customers urgently need to know exactly what the situation is here.  Can they sell the items they make with these dies?  And if so, what limitation are there on this?

A couple of people have today posted on Facebook that they emailed Create and Craft to ask about this and their replies included the following:

Please be advised that the Disney Craft products are for personal use only. Share the magic of Disney by Crafting with and for, family and friends.

I have emailed  Create and Craft myself to ask them to confirm the Angel Policy, and am awaiting a reply.

In the mean time there are no further Disney shows scheduled today, the next one is at 10am tomorrow morning.

If you are considering buying these dies, I would strongly suggest assuming for now that they are for personal use only, just in case.

UPDATE – 11 July 2016 – Create and Craft have now changed their Angel Policy for these products to personal use only. Link to my follow on post with this story –Create and Craft Disney Range – Angel Policy Now says Personal Use Only

Make it, Blog it, Profit! – New book for craft sellers, Now Available

Out Now!

You have read that having a blog will help you sell the handmade items in your online store.

You created a blog, or are about to, but have hit a stumbling block.

What on earth should you actually write about?

Make it, Blog It, Profit! – Blog Post Ideas for Craft Sellers is the exciting new book from Deborah Richardson of Tin Teddy.  Thousands of ideas for blog posts especially for the sellers of handmade crafts and art.

Never be stuck for a blog post again:

  • Chapters concentrating on popular hand made niches such as Jewelry, Home Decor, Wedding Products and many others.
  • Be continually inspired with seasonal, topical and daily post ideas
  • Ideas for how to make the most of each blog post
  • How to take an idea and adapt it to create dozens of different posts
  • Ensuring your blog posts are found by your target market
  • Spend less time wondering what to write and more time actually writing
  • Create ambassador posts that people will search forMIBIPCoverBig

Make It, Blog It, Profit! – Blog Post Ideas for Craft Sellers is currently available in both printed and ePub formats from Lulu.

Printed Version of Make It, Blog It, Profit!Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.138 Pages, £6.99

ePub digital version (Nook etc) version of Make It, Blog It, Profit!Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.
119.83 KB, £3.99

It will be available from Amazon and select online retailers in print, Kindle, PDF and other formats very soon.

Etsy Rank – a Useful Site for Etsy Sellers

Starting out on Etsy can seem very much an uphill struggle, and every day there is more competition to contend with.

Etsy Rank is a very useful free-to-use website that can help even the most experienced sellers polish their shop.

The two features I have personally found the most useful are the ability to find tags that have misspellings and items that do not have all 13 tags.  I was rather shocked to find I had quite a few of both!

EtsyRankSpellchecker
Here Etsy Rank has spotted that I have misspelt “digital” in one of my listings.

Etsy Rank also has a very handy “Listing Audit” option for looking at the tags, title and Google SEO of your listings in a way that makes it much easier to see where improvements can be made.

There are a other tools included too, with new ones being added. Everything is clearly laid out and intuitive – just register and have a poke about!

The Etsy Rank Profile checks to see if you have the main components of your Etsy shop in place.
The Etsy Rank Profile checks to see if you have the main components of your Etsy shop in place.

I strongly suspect that every single Etsy seller could benefit from this using this website.

https://www.etsyrank.com

Etsy Shop Critique and Review – now available

After a lot of preparation and research I am finally able to offer the Tin Teddy Shop Critique and Review for Etsy shop owners.

I will look over your shop in detail, looking at all areas including your product range and prices.

You will receive a professionally formatted, multipage document in both .DOCX (Microsoft W0rd) and .PDF formats – other formats available if required.

My aim is to offer genuinely useful, practical advice.  I will not just say what I think could be changed but explain how to actually change it – something that I know many sellers want rather than a simple critique.

The report will include illustrations  such as photos and screenshots. These will not be used to “flesh out” the report but where I think they are genuinely useful.

There will also be links to items in your shop (so you can be sure which I am talking about, these are usable if you have printed out the report too), links to Etsy policies or guidelines where required and links to tutorials, blog posts and resources that I think could be of use to you.

For more information see the Etsy listing for the Tin Teddy Etsy Shop Critique & Review.

EtsyAdvert1