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Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

A week or so ago, I got a tweet from Mr. Artfire about something called Rapid Cart. Basically if you have a shop on Mr. Artfire, you can set up a window on your blog or website, and customers can buy right from there without having to go to your Mr. Artfire store. That’s a convenient tool for the customer in a rush!

And then today, I read about Toldya!, a new service that lets you build a portable store on social networking sites or your blog or just about anywhere you’d like it online. There is no fee to set up your store. You pay a $.99 fee if you sell something. However, you don’t get paid until you ship and you have to ship through UPS. That would be inconvenient for me.

But hey, if you use Facebook, MySpace or any other networking sites to promote your products, it might be worth a look.

http://mrartifire.com

http://toldya.com

You can read more about toldya! here: http://tinyurl.com/dl9sz6

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A couple of months ago, I learned about Google Base from an Etsy forum. I found a great tutorial on how to use LetsEts and post on Google Base. It was a little tricky, so I wrote my own blog post about posting to Google Base based on my experience. LetsEts picked it up and apparently it’s been helpful to others. I’m so glad!

One of the recent comments on that post was from a woman who called herself a Geek-in-Training (thanks Carla!). I loved that!!! As crafters, we are in tune with non-technical processes. As a bookbinder, I use board, fabric, a scissor, an iron and a cold glue process.  I love working with my hands. But to be able to even afford my craft, I need to make some money from it, and with the Internet, I now have easy avenues for that purpose. So I’ve also become a Geek in Training.

There are so many ways to sell on the Internet, and many of them are relatively inexpensive  or even free. You really don’t even need a website. However, if you are considering selling your crafts online, and you should, you need to know about a couple of tools that can help you and are relatively easy, even for us non-technical folk.

The next time you are on your computer, consider learning about the following tools for selling your crafts and building a following:

Etsy (of course)

eBay (yes, eBay is still a great place for selling handmade items)

Blogging (wordpress, blogger, typepad, take your pick. They are free and relatively easy to learn). Personally, I like wordpress, can you tell?

Twitter (micro-blogging site that is just the hottest networking tool right now. It’s quick, easy to use and a great way to send new potential customers to your website, etsy store, ebay store, blog, etc. You do want to have somewhere to send your potential customers though.)

Facebook, which is a great social network for connecting with family and friends, as well as setting up a page for your business, connecting in groups where you may find the folks who are looking for what you are selling and a way to find new followers.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, you can get so caught up in doing all of these techno things, you might find you have less time for your actual craft, but if you aren’t selling it, you won’t be doing much crafting anyway.

So don’t be afraid. Look up information on the above on google and get fearless. It’s really not as hard as you think. I am still a geek-in-training (the web moves so fast I don’t think we ever stop training), but I’ve learned a lot and I love the technical stuff almost as much as the crafting!

In the following weeks, I will be blogging about getting started on etsy, ebay, etc. These will be very elementary for the true beginner. I hope they help!

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You have a craft business, you have an eBay store, you have a website and you’re on Etsy. All great ways to promote your business. But are you on Twitter? Twitter is the latest social media craze, allowing you to microblog (only 140 characters at a time) from your computer, your blackberry, or even your phone! Posts are short enough that they never feel like work!

You can let others know what you’re doing, blog posts, new items you’re listing, or great sales you’re having. You can link to anywhere from twitter (just remember to put the http:// in front of your web address.) And unlike Facebook, where you are a “person” first, promoting your business on Twitter seems to be the norm.

And if you are worried that you’re URL will be too long, just go to http://tinyurl.com to shorten the web address and give an air of mystery to your link!

The idea behind Twitter is to follow those people who interest you and to have those and others follow you back. You’ll be able to see posts of people following you, you can comment or email them directly and they can be in touch with you.

Want to find your target market? Go to Twitter Search, type in keywords or phrases that you think your potential customers might be using and see who’s tweeting about what. Find someone you think might be interested in your products? Follow them. I bet they’ll follow you back and you may even get a customer out of the deal!!

Already have a Twitter account or getting ready to sign up for one? Follow me twitter.com/irisandlily
I’ll be happy to follow you back.

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When you start your business, almost any seasoned business owner or your counselor at the Small Business Development Center will tell you that you need a business plan. Basically, writing down your goals for your business and how you get there.

There have been numerous books written on this subject too. If you want something, write it down. My favorite is Write It Down, Make It Happen.

And if you’ve read or seen The Secret, you know that the Law of Attraction works this way too. Write down all the things you’re grateful for. And then write down your intentions as if they’ve already happened. To be honest, some of this has worked for me in some very big ways. Some, not so much. Of course, I’m not always clear on my intentions too. For example, I’d love a thriving bookbinding business, but I’d also like to sleep. So while I know I’d rather be in business entirely for myself, it has its pros and cons. And until I can get clear on those, this goal may continue to elude me.

But I digress…. I recently stumbled on a very cool website called 43 Things. It is a social network of sorts with the sole purpose of giving people a place to write down their goals, share their successes and be cheered on to completion. For now it’s free and kinda cool. And you don’t have to have 43 goals, but hey, if you start setting intentions, you might be surprised!

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I read lots of blogs when I have the time. I wish you could get paid to read blogs. It’s so much fun and there’s so much to learn.

But sometimes, when there’s just not enough time, you have to be a little choosy. There is one blog though that I read religiously, no matter how little time I have, and that’s Seth Godin’s. He’s a marketing guru who has written a bunch of amazing books and created squidoo.com. I was fortunate enough last year to hear him speak at eBay Live and I even met him. I was star struck!

But I digress. If you have an Internet business or are planning on starting one– in any industry– you should check out Seth Godin’s blog every day. He’s brilliant. And you’ll learn stuff. Promise.

Go there now.

sethgodin.typepad.com

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Iris & Lily Etsy Hearts

I’ve been participating in Etsy forum discussions a lot since I’ve joined. There is so much great information there and everyone is so helpful. It’s definitely helped me get up to speed quickly on Etsy so I understand a bit about the navigation and the process. For example, renewing listings (which costs just 20 cents) gets you back on the home page of Etsy, if just for 30 seconds, where new listings are posted and rotate. It’s a great way to be noticed.

On the forums, there is a lot of discussion about “hearts,” or marking your favorite items or stores on the site. Etsy store owners get disappointed when hearts go away (it does hurt a little when that number goes down, I’ll admit), and there just seems to be this push to have tons of hearts. But really, if you are participating in a heart promotion on the forums or doing the “I’ll heart you if you heart me” thing, are you reaching actual customers?

The holidays are fast approaching. So my question is “Where are you promoting your store?” You can promote in the forums or on crafting networks like WeLoveEtsy.com or indiepublic.com, but are you reaching the folks who will eventually buy from you? I’m not saying that crafters don’t buy other crafters’ work; that happens all the time. We are a supportive bunch. But we are also all trying to make a living at this so we are less likely to purchase than say that fashionista or new mom.

Now is the time to think about your target customer, those people who are most likely to buy your products. And then seek out venues, social networks, Facebook groups, etc., where your products will not only be seen and marked as favorites, but purchased as well.

Hearts are great. Sales are better.

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While having found indiepublic.com, poshmama.com and others have been wonderful from a community standpoint, I’m having trouble getting my work done!

I’m addicted! I have found so much information already and I’ve checked out so many very cool etsy shops, but I have to figure out a way to condense my social networking activities into a shorter time period. If I’m not careful, the social networking scene, which is oh so much fun, becomes a complete time bandit. I’ve had trouble enough with email and listing new items on eBay and Etsy….the products I make are customized from top to bottom so I communicate A LOT with my customers and often those emails take time. Add to that the blogging (I’m writing this on the train as I head into a social networking class….so I can find out even more ways to spend time on Facebook, tee hee.).

I love being part of a community and I love blogging and sharing what I’m learning and the creative stuff along the way, but man, I need more hours in a day. I work full time, and I need a 36-hour day!

I’m sure this is happening to many of you too. I had started a program a while back called Simpleology, but you know when you get so overloaded that you just don’t have time to learn one more thing? So I stopped. I realize now though that Simpleology may just be the answer to my dilemma. It’s a program that teaches you how to prioritize and get the bigger things done first. The smaller things….and of course the more fun things….have to be put on a schedule. Isn’t that always the way? It’s like chocolate. It’s good for you in small doses, but too much, well we know where that gets you.

I have a long list of things I want to get accomplished this year. I want to write a book, develop new crafty stuff, really develop my marketing plan for my online ventures, and I want to make friends, build a community and feel the support and encouragement of sites like indiepublic and weloveetsy along the way. Oh, and I want to make money, so that means making albums….and that means time away from the computer. And my day job requires me to have gotten some sleep.

Let me know what you do to manage your time. I can guarantee I’m not the only one with this particular problem. Most creative people I have met have what I like to call creative ADD…so many ideas, so little time. It’s hard to stay focused.

And if you want, check out Simpleology at Simpleology.com. It’s free for the organizational stuff. I’m going to give it a second look.

Hey and last night, I learned quite a bit about Facebook and Twitter! I’ll be sharing some of that very soon.

Happy creating.

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