Monday, January 26, 2009

Blogging is an Art - Who Will Read My Blog?

Fourth in the series "Blogging is an Art," we will figure out who will read our blogs and where to find them!
The series includes:

Q. Who will read my blog and where do I find them?

Once you have decided to start a blog and are now getting into the joy of writing, it can be disheartening if you do not have any readers!

How do you know if you have readers? It is easy. There are many free "counters" that you can add to your blogs. I currently use but there are several on, as well as others on the Internet. These counters are installed on your blog in your dashboard layout.

Of course, no blog should be without Google Analytics. Read GalleriaLinda's post on Google Analytics to find out why.

If you are serious about blogging, especially if your blog is related to your business, figure out who your customers and readers are and where they can be found.

For example, this Indie CEO blog is serious to me and to my business, GalleriaLinda. I know that I am specifically targeting small volume online sellers, small indie businesses, and a great deal of the handmade community falls into those categories. The reason for this specific reader demographic is the mission of Indie CEO, which is to support very small businesses with information they may not otherwise have, such as easy-to-understand and easy-to-do marketing, promotion, and business processes. I purposefully go out and find this audience.

You can find a lot of your readers through these methods:

  • Forums of all kinds, such as industry, business, product specific, interests - post each time you have a new blog post and start a conversation within the forum
  • Search these forums for specific topics where you can share your blog content as an answer to a question
  • Join blog rings, researching key words that will fit your content. Check out Xanga and Ringsurf and always be sure your blog settings allow your blog to be in your blog venue's directory

  • Social networking, such as Facebook, Twitter, Ning groups - you can RSS feed your blog into most, as well as post an announcement of your newest topics

  • Don't forget the people you meet locally on the street - have a business card prepared for that presents your blog

  • Customers you sell to can receive your blog business card in their packages

  • Your email signature is a good way to expose your blog link

  • Email campaigns - send out newsletters specifically about your blog or include information about your blog in your regular newsletters about your business or products

  • Join local blog meet-ups - this can be fun - start one if you cannot find one
  • Read blogs, comment on blogs, always put your URL after your signature (never do this without truly reading and appreciating the blog content - do not, do not spam)

  • Profiles all over the Internet are opportunities, such as on Flickr, Ning social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, directories, selling venues, and more...anywhere you are allowed a profile is perfect

  • Local organizations you join are good places to promote your blog

  • Advertising - look into Entre Card, Project Wonderful, plugboard and other ways to do advertising for your blog (none of these are specifically endorsed by Indie CEO)

I hope this inspires you to embrace your blog and spread your joy to everyone around! I will leave you with my own Indie CEO business card that I hand out along with my GalleriaLinda business card.

Please comment with other ideas on where to find readers!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pricing Your Products for Online Selling

Let's face it folks, a lot of you are "in business" because of the love of your craft, art, or design. In order to obtain exposure for your creative pieces, you have decided to sell things online, and are in business.

Along with the joy of creating are things that you have to do for the business end of the deal. We all struggle with the business aspect of things that must be done if we are to continue to create and sell. Pricing is one of those confusing topics. I see pricing in selling venues for like items that go from the ridiculous to the sublime. It can be confusing to a buyer to see like items with such a wide range of pricing and it shows that someone is not being realistic.

One of the first things I did for my GalleriaLinda Artist-designed Jewelry shops when I started selling online was to research pricing formulas for retail. I came up with several different ones. After studying them all, I decided to use one that best suited my business.

One pricing guide, Pricing Your Handmade Jewelry, impressed me the most with the details of pricing and is a resource guide from The Beading Emporium by Ebay powerseller cloudninecat. The guide uses jewelry as examples but you can easily translate the process to any product you may sell.

From a strategic standpoint, did you know that your pricing becomes a part of your branding? Are you known for inexpensive items, expensive items or moderately priced items? This is a part of "who you are and what you do," and how you position your products, your business, and yourself as an artist.

As you read resources and mull over where you fit, here are a few things to think about relative to your pricing:

  • Know the actual cost of materials in a piece
  • Know your annual operational costs (utilities, equipment, rent, etc..., so you can assign a percentage to each item)
  • Assign a labor cost for your work (some start out at $8-$10/hr and work up as they become more known and proficient)
  • Select a pricing formula that best suits your business in the moment - your pricing needs may change as time goes on - be flexible and fluid (be conservative if you are new to the craft)
  • Keep in mind wholesale pricing for inquiries (don't price your goods so low that you cannot give any discount for wholesale. You may not want to wholesale at this time, but you never know if you will want to in the future - now is the time to be proactive and prepare)
  • Research your product's competitors - it is very important to understand the market in which you are entering and what your competitors are charging for like items
  • Research what has sold online that are similar items to yours - research frequency of sales and the prices, if available
  • Understand your selling venue audience - some target those who spend a lower amount, others target a more affluent audience*
  • Above all, once you work through this entire process and come up with a retail price, be realistic with what the market will bear (you may have to back down your retail pricing on an item if it is "priced out of the market," and this goes back to the importance of buying raw materials at the lowest cost)

*A note about your choice of selling venues: each venue targets a different type of buyer or audience. It is important for you to know what that is in terms of affluence, average price of sales, and the aesthetics appreciated from the buyer. See Indie CEO's post on selecting the right selling venue as a good resource to help you research these things.

ThePrettyPeacock has posted a good pricing article on her blog that is worth reading! Checking the blog roll of resources here on Indie CEO on the left side will unearth several articles on pricing.

Let me know through your comments if you would like to see more links on pricing handmade goods - I will research for you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Newsletters are Meant to Be Shared

I found an interesting blog from Pam Hawk, who makes "Pass it on Plates." What a great concept these plates are for sharing goodies. You must visit her Etsy store to find out all about it.

Pam has a blog about street-smart business, promotion, marketing, and a lot of excellent topics! I was so enthralled with the blog's rich content, that I wanted to share it with you.

Her latest post is about using newsletters as marketing strategies. Just like "Pass it on Plates," newsletters are meant to be shared and she shows you how.

Keep Pam in your sights for good, usable strategies for your Indie Arts business!

The Pam Hawk blog will go on the Indie Business Blog Roll on the left. I am building resources for you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Handmadeology is Coming to Town! (The Internet "Town," That Is...)

Handmadeology is yet a mystery but soon to be revealed on January 26, 2009 by TimothyAdamDesigns! Billed as "a teaching the formula that I use to sell handmade goods online," I know we can all learn practical and easy-to-understand processes to gain more traffic to our stores and web sites, online advertising, and other mysteries.

TimothyAdamDesigns is known for cool, contemporary metal jewelry. He has made a reputable name for himself in his knowledge of the online marketing process and how to use online tools to his advantage. Always sharing his knowledge in his blog, we look forward to the Handmadeology class. Sign up for the handmadeology free newsletter today!

I think handmadeology will have highly useful content, based upon the blog content for the last year and will be recommended for all Indie CEOs!

Know What is Working For YOU with Google Analytics

The indie arts blogosphere is all a-twitter about Google Analytics this last week! Two top selling venues recently added Google Analytics to their features for sellers. rolled out Google Analytics for their sellers a few weeks ago. just announced the working feature last week. The bugs are being worked out on the Etsy site so please keep up-to-date on their fixes so you can know when you are getting accurate information.

Google Analytics (GA) is a FREE web utility from Google. To access GA, you will need to create a free GA account. Once the account is set up, you can add any number of web sites or blogs to be tracked.

Why does it matter to you? Because, Google Analytics...

  • Tracks your "hits" to each page of your web site or to your blog
  • Tracks where you are getting your hits from in terms of referring web sites, searches, countries, and more
  • Tracks how long visitors stay on your site (hit and run? Or hit and interested enough to stay?)
  • Tracks key words that were used in searches that took someone to your web site
  • Tracks international traffic
  • Offers even more - a huge amount of information about your online visitors and their habits relative to your online sites

I cannot tell you how critical this information is to your future marketing plans. Someday, you will be glad you did this. If you are still not convinced of the value, go ahead and get set up now, even if you don't address it for a year or two. You will have the traffic history.

For example, my GalleriaLinda web site had not been getting many hits in the last 2 years. I had not "worked it" either, so no wonder. (That is a testimony to why you need to promote)!

Now that I am paying attention to my web site traffic, I can see where visitors come from, how long they stay, and what pages are of interest.

Here is a practical example to illustrate what I mean:

  • I joined Facebook about 6 months ago and have had one hit on my web site from my Facebook page.
  • I joined twitter about 3 weeks ago and use it to network and promote. Over half of my hits to my web site and 2 blogs now come from twitter.
  • So, I guess I want to continue twitter! And….Facebook not so much.

Those are the kinds of decisions that help you to funnel your energy and costs into what works. That is why it is important.

This past week, I have read a variety of blog posts about GA from online sellers since Artfire and Etsy offered the feature. Three posts I found are so excellent that I have listed them here as a resource for you.

TheTinyFig, who makes the cutest illustrations on accessories and stickers, is on Artfire and Etsy.

LivnGoodJewelry, who makes the most beautiful chainmaille jewelry, is found on Etsy and on

TheTinyFig offers a great tutorial on how to set up Google Analytics in both of your Artfire and Etsy stores.

Tips and Tricks:
LivnGoodJewery expands to offer excellent tips, tricks, and important things to know about Google Analytics.

Inside Look into Google Analytics for your Etsy Shop
TimothyAdamDesigns has consistent and useful online promotion tips and tutorials that are clear and easy to understand. Check out TimothyAdamDesigns new video on "An Inside Look into Google Analytics for your Etsy Shop."

Contemporary metal jewelry is found in the TimothyAdamDesigns' Artfire and Etsy shops.

I have added these blogs to the blog roll on the left because they offer many business subjects that will help you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sales, Orders, and Tax Organization for 2009

It's done. It has been procrastinated since the last week in December, but it is done. I pay my business taxes on a quarterly basis, but some pay annually or biannually and it depends upon how your business is setup.

I have a simple tax certificate that allows me to purchase raw materials without paying taxes on them at that time. This is because I will be collecting taxes from the customer on those raw materials once they are used in finished products and sold to a customer. More about that around April 15.

Today, I finished my quarterly sales taxes on orders I received and sent out in Q4 of 2008. My state has a state tax plus a county usage tax and each county can be a different percent, therefore, I had to do a bit of sorting, calculating, and merging to fill out the form.

I wanted to share with you GalleriaLinda's Sales, Orders, and Tax spreadsheet that I set up. It may help you and it may not. I have found that looking at and trying out a few of these kind of things can help you to identify what your custom needs are regarding your sales information. A call to your local tax office or accountant (even if it is hubby in the next room) will help you to understand what you will need to document.

Now is the time to get your documentation procedures in place so you are not left in a mess at the end of the year!

Disclaimer about the spreadsheet: I am not an expert at Excel. I do not know your state's tax requirements. I am not an accountant. I can barely add 2+2. SO, this is shared as a resource in concept for you to take and make your own.

I have formulated the calculating cells for what I have in this spreadsheet. If you change or tweak this sheet, they may not work for you. I suggest you find a person proficient in Excel to be sure your calculations work well when you finish making it your own.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blogging is an Art - What Do I Write About in My Blog?

The series "Blogging is an Art" continues!

Q. I am an Indie CEO. What do I write about in a blog?

This question often freezes up new bloggers. New bloggers know they want to blog, but when the blog is setup, writer's block sets in.

If you are new to writing especially, this is quite normal. Be encouraged, though, that the more you write, the easier it becomes, and the more you will enjoy it.

Keep your audience engaged with your content by keeping your topics focused. This goes back to your decision about your target audience and why you want to blog in the first place. What do you have to say? We discussed this in the first part of this series, "Should I Start a Blog?"

There is nothing wrong with wanting to write about everything! In fact, I encourage you to have several blogs that you can strategically use to cross-promote, thereby sustaining traffic on each (more about promoting in the next part of the series). I have this IndieCEO blog, plus my jewelry blog, GalleriaLindaShowcase.

Often, I think of topics and content at the oddest times, so I keep crazy notes about topics with a few little bullet points. These notes get me started on a short post when I have time to sit down and write. Remember that a post should be short. It is not an article.

Think about writing a shop/product/business blog, a crafty technical blog, and a personal blog and target specific content to each. If you decide upon a business blog, you might be inspired by the topics list below. (This is the abbreviated article and list. Download more ideas in the entire “Blogging is an Art – What Should I Write on My Blog?” article here).

Potential Blog Topics

  • About you, your background, how you got into your business
  • Your expertise as an artist, designer, creative
  • Where you learned your expertise
  • How you happened to become passionate about your craft
  • What media or processes you have worked with, antics, experiences - could be fun!
  • Your works in progress - include background and interesting facts that are not found elsewhere - this could be at least 50% of your posts if it is a promoting blog
  • Tutorials are very popular for keeping readers and bringing traffic
  • What you do locally relative to your business, such as shows, exhibits, etc...
  • Interesting facts, such as a favorite cause you support through your business
  • Where you are found or featured online

(Eleven more topic suggestions are found in the entire “Blogging is an Art – What Should I Write on My Blog?” article here).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Selling Jewelry

Handmade jewelry is a saturated market online and is usually one of the largest categories on selling venues.

Therefore, you will be most successful selling your jewelry in person, especially in the business atmosphere of 2009. All it takes sometimes is for a potential customer to hold one of your pieces, admire how the light sparkles through it, and then try it on. Sold!

That is one of the downsides of selling jewelry online - people cannot experience it and right now it is the rich experience of a product that will win the sale.

I have a couple of resources for you that have proven to be informative about jewelry business tactics and selling opportunities. For a quick read and they sometimes inspire a direction for GalleriaLinda's strategies.

I have benefited from the newsletter from Dr. David Weiman - Although there are resources for sale on his web site, he offers a free newsletter and a free eBook. It is worth a look.

In addition, there are many jewelry selling tips on the blog, Home Jewelry Business Success Tips, by Rena Klingenberg. This is a site that is rich with all kinds of useful information on selling jewelry, displaying jewelry, craft show planning, packaging, and other aspects of a jewelry business.

I will be posting these sites on my blog roll over on the left where I am building a list of resources for you!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Nimble Businesses Will Win in 2009

It is the first week in January 2009 and already I hear of friends being laid off of their jobs or salaries cut. When times are tough, the tough get going. Are you tough?

You are in control of your own universe. Make choices everyday focusing on those things that you can control and not those things that you cannot control. That makes a lot of sense, especially in these economic times.

As we gently dip our toe in the water of the year 2009, we realize that we are all in this together and are affected by the downturn in the economy. Many of our customers are spending much less, eliminating luxury items from their purchases, are anxious about their job security, and are facing losses in retirement programs.

I do marketing communications consulting work for a large real estate land office and you can only guess the challenges there. I appreciate so much the real estate broker I work with, as he is a staunch supporter of the marketing effort. His mantra is not to cut spending but to rev up marketing efforts in this sluggish market in order to be seen above the clutter. He will have the company well positioned at the time the economy improves and will win business in the meantime by being responsive to clients and their situations.

Realize that it is time for different business strategies.

Rigid business practices will not work anymore. Nimble business practices will win the business of 2009. What can your Indie Business do to review, rethink, and retool?

  • Position your company to be above the clutter
  • Position your products to be needed - take them from an impulse buy to a need buy
  • Position you, as the Indie CEO, to be helpful, flexible, understanding, and supportive of your customers and their situations

Three pages of strategies are available to you by Indie CEO and GalleriaLinda's resource page, or directly Download this 3-page report on how nimble businesses can win in 2009. You can do it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Painless New Year's Planning for Your Indie Business

It is time! The celebrations have given way to new days for our indie businesses. Away with the old and in with the new!

Has anyone ever asked, encouraged, cajoled, or otherwise arm-twisted you into writing a business plan for you business? Ah....I though not. My famous line is,"If you don't know where you are going, you will never get there." And, I could add, "If you don't know where you have been, you will repeat the same old results."

*Puts on marketing hat.*

Business plans are like math, even to me. They are boring, stodgy, stiff, suck-your-brains-out exercises that are supposed to help you direct your business strategy. Heck! A lot of us did not start this to be a business, anyway...right? GalleriaLinda was born out of encouragement from friends to sell. If you are selling anything, you are in business and you need to listen to this.

I have a fun, painless informal business plan for you. Just answer the questions and you will be surprised at what you see on paper as your business. It is created to identify where you are now, where you want to go, and if you need to change anything. It is not a formal plan but valuable marketing tool for you. Pretend it is a fun quiz! I am calling it a "Think-it-Through list because that is what it is.

If you want to get fancy, you can go to to download great business templates for business plans and other business documents. After this exercise, maybe you will want to do a formal business plan.

Get your GalleriaLinda Painless Business Plan "Think-it-Through" handout today!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blogging is an Art - Will it Help sales?

In the next few posts, I continue to work through some of the basics of blogging for you in this "Blogging is an Art" series, utilizing my background in marketing communications, as well as my experiences with blogging for GalleriaLinda.

  • 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. If I start a blog, will it help sales?

The answer could...if you play your cards right.

My experience considers blogs to be a "soft marketing" strategy and there are many online sellers that have gleaned some sales from featuring their work on their blogs. These sellers are also successful in bringing in reader traffic that is their target customer.

What is "soft marketing?" Soft marketing is really relationship marketing, where you build a relationship over time between you and the reader. This builds trust, familiarity, friendship, and warm fuzzies. Who wouldn't want to buy from a trusted, familiar friend?

Here is a great 30-min audio on soft marketing from Blog Talk Radio.

Soft marketing includes those things that you do for your business that are not blatant promotional selling efforts. Blogs and Flickr photos are examples of soft marketing opportunities. Sales can be had through these methods and are the result of successful "schmoozing!" It takes time and patience but can be very rewarding, not only as a customer builder but as a friendship builder.

Some ways you can utilize your blog content to enhance soft marketing for your products are:

  • Be friendly and professional

  • Some personal content could be good but be careful to come across as a true professional that runs a viable online business

  • Open the doors to your life as a business owner, artist, designer, creative - give a glimpse into these worlds

  • Build your brand by optimizing your content for SEO (using appropriate links)

  • Showcase your products and creations, giving history, information, and perspective beyond what is found in your shops

  • Know where and how to promote your blog to your target audience

  • Encourage comments to start a "conversation" with potential customers

You can also create your blog to be your own selling site!

This is good, especially if you do not have your own web site and do not care to list on selling venues or it can be an extension of your selling strategies. There are several ways to do this that include:

  • PayPal "buy now" buttons - individual buttons from PayPal that you place by your item photo

  • - selling format that can be placed on blogs, Facebook, MySpace and other areas

Don't expect the money to come rolling in, however, you can make good strides in increasing views of your work, becoming better known, branding your business, and making friendship sales from your blog.

One last reminder is that you must bring in the right people to see your blog in order for the relationship marketing to work well for you. That is another blog series to come about finding your target customer, so check back very soon!

The "Blogging is an Art" series continues in the days to come.