Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Know Your Selling Venues - Bonanzle?

I came across this excellent review of as a selling venue from

The link to the was posted in a comment on another great review of Bonanzle by the Rose Works Jewelry blog. Rose Works Jewelry has done some good focus group marketing on forums by soliciting comments about experiences on selling venues.

The Rose Works Jewelry Selling Venue Series is still ongoing so check back there to see if she reviews your selling venues. As of this writing, there are reviews on Bonanzle and Etsy, as well as a growing list of selling venues and a post about the series.

In addition, at Indie CEO, you can see a comprehensive list of 47 selling venues put together by GalleriaLinda over the last year.

GalleriaLinda has a shop on Bonanzle and I find many unique features offered to sellers. Although Bonanzle is not a "handmade only" venue, you will find professional sellers of all kinds of merchandise, including handmade and vintage. According to and, Bonanzle is making great strides with traffic and seller shops for the seven months they have existed.

Try them out! You will love some of the features, such as such one-page listing process, image-cropping, live chat in the store, price and description estimator, and options to receive instant messages (IM) through AIM, Gmail, MSN or other networks. You have options for local pick ups and an option to take offers on your items or a fixed price.

It is free to list as many items as you wish and are allowed four photos for each item. A final value fee is charged only when items sell.

All-in-all, my few week's experience with GalleriaLinda at Bonanzle has been great in setting up shop and the live chat facilitates getting to know your fellow sellers. It is like walking down the mall and popping in for a quick "Hi!"

Blogging is an Art - Should I Start a Blog?

As GalleriaLinda, I participate in a variety of indie arts forums online find many comments and questions continually brought up about blogging. The questions I see are about why to blog and the comments are about how to blog from a content perspective.

Over the years, I have created two blogs. IndieCEO is a business blog that is targeted to a specific audience - the Indie Arts business owners online.

My second blog, gallerialindashowcase, is my jewelry blog that is targeted to both my customer and other online sellers. While I consider it somewhat businessy, it contains lighter topics relative to creating jewelry, photography for online stores, some tutorials, and more.

In the next few posts, I will work through some of the basics of blogging for you in this "Blogging is an Art series".

  • Should I start a blog?
  • Will a blog help sales?
  • What should I write about on my blog?
  • Who will read it and do I need to promote it?
  • Where do I go to create a blog?
Q. I am an Indie CEO and should I start a blog?

In short, the answer is YES!

Early blogs were setup to be fun, personal diaries with daily life antics that allowed friends and family to keep up with what you are doing. Today, blogs are big business.

Think about using a blog to enhance your online Indie arts business. Some advantages to having a good, targeted business blog include:
  • Name recognition for you and your business
  • Can set you apart as an expert in your field
  • Great SEO & search support if you plan your blog with this in mind
  • Features your work to your audience and works for you 24/7
  • A place for potential customers to be sent by you to learn about you and your products/services
  • An extension and enhancement to your web site and online plan
  • An important part of your marketing plan if used correctly
  • Once seasoned, a potential for utilizing advertising opportunities

WHY do you want to start a blog? Because everyone else has a blog? Because you want to use it to promote your business? Because you want to ramble on about your inner musings in life? Because you want to make it an extension of your creative expression?

All of these are good, but my experience suggests that it is best if you pick one reason why you want to blog. If you don't know where you are going, you will never get there. If you don't know who you are writing for, no one will read it.

Some things to think about before you actually start your blog are below:

  • Why do I want to blog? What is my core reason - pick one. Everything else will fall out of this one objective.
  • Do I want to blog about business topics, personal topics, a targeted craft topic, a specialty topic, or all the above?

  • Who will be my target audience? Fellow indie artists? Friends and family? A targeted group within the arts community? An outside group supporting a cause? Or all the above?
  • Where will I find this audience?

  • How do I plan to promote my blog?

  • Who benefits from the blog? Me? Them? Others? All? (goes back to why you want to blog)
  • Do I have time to nurture this blog with rich content that is interesting to my target audience?

Once you have worked through this, you will have a better idea of how to plan your blog. Blog planning can be as simple as understanding what you want to do with your blog from the questions above, or as complex as a written plan to include promoting and marketing methods; advertising; statistics review, measurement and improvement; content editorial schedule, and more.

Check back for the rest of the "Blogging is an Art" series!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Selling Venues Galore!

It wasn't but a little over two years ago that I was looking for a way to post products online for GalleriaLinda without doing the auction thing. I really dislike the auction process, although many sellers love it.

A friend of mine in another state who does not even make crafts, told me about A friend of hers discovered Etsy and was setting up shop, and told her, and she told me. That is how we find out a lot of information! At that time, there were very few venues online that I found, other than Ebay, which was not an option for me.

Since then, and since Etsy has been a successful pioneer and benchmark in targeted handcraft selling, a lot of venues have popped up. Now, there are a variety of venues to select and the decision can be overwhelming. I personally found and documented almost 50 selling venues...not including auction sites.

You might be interested in the post on the INDIE CEO blog called "Selecting the Right Online Selling Venue" that will give you a few pointers on where to start when thinking about the best selling venues for your products and customers.

For traffic ranking on many of these selling sites, GalleriaLinda found Shiny Adornment's blog post here.

For your use, here is GalleriaLinda's List of 47 Selling Venues. At this writing, this list is just a list. It does NOT include auction sites and there are likely a few more to add.

The venues listed can be categorized into what can be sold, US sites, sites from other countries, those that bring in traffic, those that don't, and various other categories.

There are so many other things we can research on each, such as traffic to each as Shiny Adornments posted, as well as demographics, fees, listing limits, payment vendors, and much more.

Why do I care about all of this? Simply, to keep up with competitive research and to see where my target customer shops.

I have a feeling that many readers have blog posts that may present some of these. If so, please leave a comment with your blog post URL.

As you work your way through this list, I would love for you to comment back about your impressions of the venues that you like or dislike.

If you currently sell on venues on this list, please let me know about your experience in the comment section!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Ice is Broken by The Jeweled Rabbit

Congratulations to JeweledRabbit who bravely stepped forward where no man has gone before to be the very first to follow the INDIE CEO blog!

JeweledRabbit is from one of my favorite countries, Canada, and is a fellow jewelry lover. Take a look at JeweledRabbit's friendly blog for warmth, information, and a fabulous post on Twitter web tools! What better way to start your business new year?

Visit The Jeweled Rabbit on ArtFire for exciting jewelry and tell her that GalleriaLinda sent ya!

Your friend and fellow Indie CEO,

Selecting the Right Online Selling Venue

It seems to be the time of year to try new things!

As a business owner of the online jewelry business, I read forum posts in the various indie arts areas online and have found that when one person discovers a new or little known selling venue, everyone jumps on board and clamors to set up additional shops. Much discussion is had and I too get caught up in the excitement and sheepishly admit I have a variety of shops setup all over the Internet, some which are empty! Many, as it turns out, are not conducive to selling to my target customer.

Surely, some of the criteria that I read in discussions are very good, such as the technical aspects of a site (ease of use), the look (cluttered or clean), type of products sold (handmade or not), statistics (for shop, site, items), and even the response rate of the Admin running the site. To be sure, ALL of these are important.

However, I see that we are leaving out the MOST important factor in this mix - that of your target customer and where to find him or her.

Defining your target customer and the demographics surrounding them is the core of all marketing and promotional efforts that you take on and should define where you spend your dollars and energy. Without that juicy bit of discovery, you may as well be throwing darts in the dark.

How does one make the important decision of selecting an appropriate online venue before going through all the work to set up shop and list product?

Check out demographics web analysts, quantcast. There, you can enter the URL for the selling venue and discover a lot of statistics and customer demographics.

I created a quick Handout from GalleriaLinda that compares several popular online selling venues (ArtFire, BigCartel, Bonanzle, eCrater, Etsy, HandmadeFuzion, iCraft, and ShopHandmade). Not all the statistics are on this page, as I focused only on customer demographics and also the comments by quantcast. Some of the information was surprising. Visit quantcast and see what you can find out about the selling venues that you use.

Download GalleriaLinda's online selling venue customer demographics overview here! And, be sure to visit to see how stores in several of these venues look.

Warning...You Are Entering a Business Dead Zone....

WARNING!! You are entering the business dead zone....

That vacuum is what we call the last week in December. As the wrath of the main holiday is over and we are left in a steaming pile of gift wrap, clutter, and lethargy, we struggle to get back into our routines. And, there is more!! Here comes the New Year's holiday. Oy!

The short week between the Christmas holidays and New Year's Day is a business dead zone. While there are people who work this week, many don't and vacation times make many desks empty. What does this mean for you? It means that you cannot move forward with much that involves other business associates, whether they are vendors, employees, or customers.

In my many years in the corporate business world, I discovered early on that business does not crank up from the holidays (here in the US, at least) until about January 15. People are recovering from the holidays and are slow to get into their routines. Years ago, I quit the frustration of trying to “do business” during this time and started PLANNING for this welcomed slow time.

This is a GOOD TIME for:

  • Remembering your customers, writing notes
  • Nurturing your online marketing plan
  • Updating, checking all of your online venues for policies
  • Continuing education
  • Updating and researching certifications
  • Creating new products
  • Planning out new services
  • Catching up on administrative work, like taxes, data input
  • Updating your business plan (yes, you heard me!!)

For my marketing consulting business, I am planning out my scheduling and working on obtaining new clients locally.

For my online jewelry business, I am implementing and nurturing my online marketing plan that is outlined in my business plan (yes, you heard me!!).

This is the time to make the slower business activity work to your advantage!

Even though you may not make the sales you desire, what better time to use this vacuum than to enhance your business through planning that will increase your business throughout 2009! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Launching INDIE CEO!

T minus 5, T minus 4, T minus 3, T minus 2, T minus 1....and.....we have liftoff, ladies and gentlemen!!! (The crowds roar)! I thought this fitting since I live near Florida's space coast and this scenario is quite common!

Welcome to INDIE CEO, a blog that strives to be helpful to independent business owners (who, by default are CEOs of their businesses), especially those individuals within the indie arts community. I am very excited to launch this venture, as it has been on my mind for over a year, and now, through careful planning, it has become reality!

I mention "careful planning," because that is what we all should be doing when we start any venture, even a blog. You need to know where you are going in order to get there.

It is my hope that you will find a lot of helpful things here such as, non-intimidating ways to plan your business, street-smart marketing, basic business structure, forms, downloads, guest articles, and ideas to help your business grow within the boundaries of your own situation. Oh, and motivation too!

This is the beginning of a wonderful conversation with all of you that will allow us to capture your ideas, as well as mine. We are in this together and are, by default, CEOs!