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Craftpreneur Advice From the Pros

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Is craftpreneur even a word? I’m not really sure. But I’m going with it for the sake of this post because I think it fits. It fits the description of any crafter who works hard at turning his or her crafting pursuits into a successful business. It covers the “craft” (as in what you do) as well as the “preneur” (as in, well, entrepreneur). But let’s be honest. Most of us craftpreneurs are more comfortable with the crafting side of things, as opposed to the actual business side of things. That’s why we need the pros to guide us through those murky waters of sales, marketing and social media.

 

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My Go-to Online Business Advice Pros

Tweak Your Biz

One online pro source that I turn to for advice is Tweak Your Biz. As the name implies, Tweak Your Biz deals with all aspects of business including sales, marketing, finance, management and technology. It’s an online business publication as well as a community. They encourage you to share your opinions and ask questions of their contributing experts. I’ve found their blog posts to be pretty insightful as well as humorous. For example, one of my favorite posts is entitled, “Eat a Bowl of Dog Food, Improve Customer Service.” I’ll admit I was intrigued. And the post did not disappoint. I’ve found that Tweak Your Biz is an invaluable resource for craftpreneurs at any stage of their business.

Arts Business Institute

Another online resource that’s sure to jump-start a craftpreneur’s business side is Arts Business Institute. ABI keeps me up to date with timely business strategies, sales tips and marketing ideas for my handmade vintage jewelry business. Topics run the gamut from regularly featured artist profiles to how to start a wholesale production studio.

Launch Grow Joy

If you’re the type who prefers to receive your business advice with more of a personal vibe to it, I highly recommend Andrea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy. She’s both a savvy entrepreneur in the online business consulting industry as well as an actual craftpreneur who successfully launched her own handmade soap company from the ground up. You can find her honest hard-won business advice for craftpreneurs on her blog, Launch Grow Joy, as well as in her free instructional videos that cover topics such as growing your online sales and getting your products in stores.

Social Triggers

Now I can’t mention videos without mentioning my all-time favorite business guru Derick Halpern of Social Triggers. Social Triggers encompasses his blog, podcast and web tv-show. And don’t say that I didn’t warn you: Derick’s approach is pretty unorthodox. And that’s what makes watching his videos so much fun. He shares practical, in-your-face advice on topics such as building your email list and increasing online sales. He shares his fresh perspective in such a way that you can’t help but think to yourself, “Now how can I apply that to me and my business?” Which is pretty awesome when you think about it. Learn something and laugh while doing it. It’s a win-win.

Time to Get Productive

I hope my little list of references at least gets you moving in the right direction with regard to your “business” side, and that it gets you started on a productive phase in your crafting business. While focusing on the business side of life may not be most craftpreneurs’ idea of a good time, it can still be accomplished effectively with the help of my favorite go-to business advisers. And that leaves you with more time to devote to your creative pursuits, whatever they may be.

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Is there anyone you think is great when it comes to giving business advice? Leave a comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

 

Easy Crafts To Make And Start Selling Right Away

If you have been thinking about starting a handmade craft business, it can be overwhelming when deciding what to sell. Maybe you already have a craft business and you’d like to add a little variety, without having to invest a lot of time.

Easy Crafts to Make and Start Selling Right AwayThe internet is full of ideas. Pinterest alone can cause creativity overload! I’ve found five easy crafts that require only a few materials and are suitable for any skill level. Most can be made and sold today!

Chalkboard Frames

I’ve seen them all over Pinterest and they’re very popular right now. You can make these chalkboard picture frames from vintage or plain frames, picked up for next to nothing at yard sales or thrift stores. Create a chalkboard on the glass and add color by painting the frame. Cyndy at The Creativity Exchange will show you how simple and useful these chalkboards are. Be sure to check out her video link!


Mod Podge Glass Pendants

Jewelry is always a popular item at craft shows. These pendants are very cool and can be made from anything you have around the house. Crafts Unleashed uses photos and paper embellishments on theirs. I think you could also fussy cut pictures from magazines, craft paper scraps or recycled greeting cards. So many possibilities.

Handmade Soaps

Most soap recipes can be time consuming and use the potentially dangerous chemical, lye. I’ve found an easy method that doesn’t use lye and is called “melt and pour”. With this melt and pour soap making tutorial on Craftbits, you will be selling attractive and deliciously scented soap in only a few days It is so easy you’ll want to make several batches and experiment with a variety of ingredients and recipes.

Superhero Masks

Crafts for children are irresistible. Especially if they help foster their imagination. Red Ted Art shows how to make superhero masks with paper or craft foam and includes templates. I think felt would work really well, too. You could create a matching cape and sell them as a set.

Painted Heart Bags

This last craft is SERIOUSLY so easy and so cute! Vanessa Christensen of V & Co. teaches us how to make a painted heart bag. I can see this bag done with lots of other simple designs and colors. What about a watermelon slice with green and red paint and black seeds for summer? Make one giant star or maybe several smaller ones in both red and blue for Memorial Day or Fourth of July. Can you see where I’m going with this? What about monograms? Somebody stop me!!!

These are only five simple crafts you can whip up and start selling right away. I know there are many others. What ideas can you share? Do you know of any other websites with quick and easy crafts to make and sell?

Five Easy Peasy Summer Jewelry Tutorials We Love

I am so in the mood for summer. When I think of summer I think of bathing suits, flip flops, funky clothes and even funkier accessories. But let’s be honest, that killer Anthropologie jewelry you’ve been loving comes with some crazy high prices. So how about beating the system this summer and making a few of your own bits of bling sans the high price tags?

To that end I want to share with you five different, funky and easy jewelry tutorials I recently came across and immediately fell in love with.

Color Pop Necklace

 ornamentea felt ball necklace

Ornamentea has been one of my favorite crafting websites for years. It’s a jewelry supply website that also shares really cool jewelry-making tutorials. I can’t wait to try out their Color Pop Necklace tutorial, simply made out of felt balls and ribbon.  I love the combination of ribbon and felt, and the colors really do pop.  It’s so easy to make — I think you could actually throw it together before you head out for the evening.  Heck, I’d probably make one into a bracelet, too! For extra help be sure to watch the Color Pop Necklace video tutorial as well.

Parakeet Mirror Necklace

Now here’s where things get pretty funky.

Mitch L. in L.A. came up with a really ingenious way to create and personalize some bright, fun, summer jewelry — with parakeet mirrors.  Yes, I said parakeet mirrors!  Her clear and easy-to-follow tutorial will help you create a true fashion statement, quickly and inexpensively.  The possibilities are endless with this no muss, no fuss parakeet mirror tutorial to guide you.

Friendship Bracelet

And what would summer be without friendship bracelets?

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Erin over at Thanks, I Made It shares with us her take on the Ariel Gordon-style friendship bracelet that’s been in the news lately.  All you need is a small bit of chain, some silk string, a clasp and some jump rings.  Did I say easy peasy? Love the colors, too.

Dangle Shell Bead Earrings

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an earring tutorial, so here’s a great summery one — it’s made out of shell beads!

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Amy over at Artsy Mama really hit a home run with these delicate dangle earrings.  They take only minutes to make and they look like a million bucks.  Not bad for some shell beads, ear wires, head pins and jump rings.  I’m not a big blue-lover, but I do have a huge stash of mother-of-pearl coin beads that would be perfect for this!  It’s all spelled out in her quick and easy dangle shell earring tutorial.

Crystal Bracelet

Last but not least I want to share with you a J-Crew-inspired crystal bracelet knock-off from A Splendid Assemblage.  I am all for sparkle.

jcrew crystal bracelet DIY

Let’s face it.  Anytime we can make our own jewelry, versus paying exorbitant retail prices, it’s a win. And compared to J. Crew’s prices, this bracelet is quite inexpensive.  The crystal bracelet tutorial is easy to follow and will have you sparkling things up in no time.

I hope I managed to get your creative juices flowing.  I know mine certainly are!  Which one’s your favorite?  Do you have another great tutorial or jewelry-making website you’d like to share?

What’s Your Favorite Crafty Blog?

In my opinion, blogs are beyond awesome! They have definitely changed the face of the internet, and allow people to communicate and build relationships from a long distance.

I ready many types of blogs, and crafty blogs are no exception! Some of my favorites include blogs from Handmade Detroit, Craftzine, Martha Stewart’s Craft Department, Naughty Secretary Club, Vickie Howell, and Sublime Stitching.

What are your favorites? I’d love for you to leave a comment on this post with the links to your favorite crafty blogs! So don’t be shy – let us know what you’re reading online!

Craft Fairs: What to Bring With You

Your items are all made. You’ve done your research as to how the best way to price these treasures you’ve been working on for so long. Now it’s time to get packed up and go! There are some essential and not-so-essential items that you should remember to take with you on the big day. I’ve compiled a checklist here to help you get ready!

 A Friend: First and foremost, bring help with you! Don’t think for a minute that this is something you can do entirely on your own. Running a booth is a constant juggling act, so having your “right-hand man” is key to having not only success, but everything is more enjoyable when you can share it with others! Having a 2nd person to take payments is a great asset so that you re fully available to answer questions and show your products. It’s also valuable for transporting items, being able to take a restroom break, or even grab a lunchtime meal.  This person also becomes your “cheerleader” to help support your efforts throughout the day! I promise, you will be so grateful if you can find that special friend or family member to help you on the big day.

 Your Products: How many you ask? That is a good question. Bring what you can, but make sure you have a sign-up list available for those who would like to special order.

 Bags for Customers: Shoppers need bags! There are a number of resources on line of how to obtain bags, but one of the best resources may be in your very own area!  Before doing a show several years back, I went to our local drugstore as I knew their bags did not carry the individual store’s name. Instead there was a rose and I figured if I could get them at a good price, it really didn’t matter what was on the bag! So I went in and asked the manager if I could purchase some bags from them and indeed they did let me! The cost was unbelievably cheap and I now was ready to take my bags with me to the booth!

 A Possible Credit Card Machine: If this is doable, you may want to seriously consider opening up this method of paying to customers. By doing so, you are offering a convenient service to them. If you don’t, you may lose some potential buyers. I say this not to scare you, but perhaps intrigue you by looking into this option more seriously. It not only makes your booth look even more professional, but it is also a much safer route to go rather than accepting personal checks. You must obtain a merchant account in order to offer this, so be sure to check with your bank on how to do this. Taking credit and debit cards can really boost your sales!

 Your Money Center : Some craft fair organizers provide these for you and some do not, so be sure to check into your options. The small table is a great place to set up your money center. Along with this, don’t forget your calculator, a receipt book, a sales tax chart, cash box or machine, and the credit card machine if you go that route. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to bring change! A copy of your sales tax certificate and your business license to hang up in your booth is also a nice touch.

 A Small Cooler: Bring some snacks and bottles of water to keep you at your peak performance all day. You may easily get worn down if you wait too long before taking a break. Sometimes a small snack is just the right energy boost you need!

 Office Supplies & Other Misc.: These include: pens, stapler, tape, a garbage bag, sales tax chart for your area, extra price tags, markers, business cards and brochures, tape, your cell phone, a camera so you can document this fun day, and possibly some candy in a bowl. Don’t believe for a second that the candy is just for the children! The grown-ups love it just as well!

 Any Hang Tags or Care Instructions: If you’re offering any item for sale that requires special instructions, be sure to include those attached to your products. Your customers will truly appreciate your efforts.

 Tissue or Newspaper: If you have any items that are fragile, you’ll want to be sure to have these on hand to help package the items in the customers’ bags.

 Shelves: If possible, see if you can find some shelves that you can put onto your tables. Keeping items at different levels is more pleasing to the eye. So lift! Keep the booth interesting by doing this. Crates and stacks of blocks also work well with linen cloths draped over.

 Company Name Sign: Make it big and make it something special. If you have a website, be sure to include that on your banner as well.

 A Sign Up Sheet: This will help make future contacts for your business. A name and an email is a perfect way to contact interested customers in the future and keep them updated of new products and upcoming shows.

What items do you take with you when selling at a craft fair? Did I leave anything off the list that you would suggest?

Tips on How to write good SEO blog post titles

The title of a blog post is important for search engine optimisation (or in other words ranking high up on web searches) because the words in your title are used by the search engines to fish out sites for web search results. If you’ve spent yonks on writing a blog post (that you’d love to share with a wider audience) you don’t want it to get lost in sea of other blog posts and sites by not giving your post an equally strong title. In this post I am going to give some tips on writing titles that will hopefully please readers and the search engine robots. This post was inspired by Shannon who was kind enough to share some of her knowledge of good SEO. Thanks Shannon!

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Tips on writing blog post titles that will help your blog stand out:

  1. Is it a tutorial? – if yes than say so. I enjoy writing tutorials and folks generally love a tutorial. How many times have you web searched for a tutorial on how to do something or another? Lots of times I bet. Make your tutorial easier to find on the the web to find by beginning the blog post title with ‘Tutorial on…’ or ‘How to…’.
  2. Does your post include a list of information or a breakdown of points? If yes than say so in your title eg. “My 10 top tips for….” Lists/bullet points are easy to digest for the reader and they are an easy way to organise information for the writer (that’s why I like them so much!)
  3. Is your post about a rant, a happy experience, a memory etc.? If yes than say so in your title eg. “Why I love nothing more than…” or “The …est day of my life was…”. Blog posts which offer an intimate peek into the life of the writer always stir an interest in readers because as humans we are fascinated by each other. Great isn’t it?
  4. Keep your titles shorter rather than longer. Try to be succinct, but at the same time informative. Search engine robots only read a certain number of words so longer titles tend to get cut short. So your title needs to have the most important words in the first half of the title (just in case).
  5. Writing the title for yourself vs writing the title for search engines. If you are not bothered by appearing high in search engines than (arguably) you would write your posts and your titles in a way that suits you eg. they could be funny, daft, abstract etc. etc. etc. BUT search engine robots/spiders are ultra efficient and totally unfeeling, they don’t care for writing with flair, they are just after cold hard keywords (see below for more info on keywords)
  6. Try to put yourself in the mindset of your readers – what search terms/words do you think they would type into the search engines? Including words in your title that readers are likely to search for will help your post will appear higher in the search engines.

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Further Reading