Sunday, September 27, 2009

Online Sellers, Start Your Engines: Are You Ready?

It is hard to believe that October is knocking at our door this week! Although I plan ahead for the holidays, it always creeps up on me! Are you ready? For artists and crafters who are online sellers, it is especially important to be organized.

Many of us work day jobs and work our online business in the extra hours. Others of us have children and families that need our time, over and above our shops. Therefore, we must be organized. Here is a checklist to help you. See if you are ready for the holiday rush!

First, take a deep breath. Think about what you want to accomplish this holiday, both for business and family. Write all of it down on paper. Then, start crossing off some things. Be realistic with your time. The holidays are the busiest for your shop AND for your family. Don't shortchange both by taking on too much! Here is your list for your business!

For a printable copy of IndieCEO's Holiday Checklist for download - click here.


  • Determine the designs you need to start to create or finish before Oct. 30
  • Plan to expand your inventory in numbers - 50 to 100 items is a good start, more is better
  • Add a "stocking stuffer" product line that is lower priced - create many and promote them heavily for increasing visitor traffic to your shop
  • Order all supplies needed for these designs (mailing times and availability may be limited during the holidays for urgent orders later)
  • If you exhibit and sell at craft shows this time of year - take that into consideration for product inventory volume for your online shops - don't be caught short with your online inventory
  • Schedule on your calendar, "appointments" to create and finish your designs, photography, and listing - help family to understand that these are real business appointments - even if it is 1 hour a day


  • Order shipping materials - bubble mailers, boxes
  • Obtain the Priority shipping boxes from your post office NOW (if you use them) - availability will be limited later
  • Obtain a stack custom forms from your post office now - may not be available later
  • Check your label paper or sticky paper stock for printing out PayPal shipping labels
  • Check your shipping tape stock
  • Design and order or print/cut the components for your product's finished presentation - jewelry boxes, organza gift bags, earring cards, ribbons, stickers, etc...


  • Will you add a free gift or sample in your orders? If so, plan now to make or buy
  • Will you be offering holiday wrapping? Figure that process out - pricing, how to list, etc...

Online Shop

  • If you sell on multiple venues, decide strategically where you will post your product lines - you may want some of each type of product on all venues or you may want to keep the venue shops more specialized - just know what you are doing
  • Create your shop announcement now while your head is clear and not rushed - keep until you are ready to post
  • Tweak your shop's policies. Be sure they are clear, especially return/exchange policies
  • Tweak your shop's "About Me" page - update it for fresh content
  • Tweak your shipping profiles - at least check them out for accuracy
  • Determine a "buy by date" for receipt of items by December 22nd or earlier and add to your shop announcement, policy page, and all your listing
  • Retake photos that are gray-ish or not so good - re-stage older product - it will make them look like new listings

Marketing, Advertising, Promotion

  • Order business cards, post cards, thank you cards, etc... now (to include in your packages and to hand out)
  • Design, print, and cut anything you need, such as earring cards, backing for cello bags, etc…
  • Decide on any sale incentives - sales, discounts, incentives (BOGO, etc...), free shipping
  • Do you send customers holiday cards? If so, organize now, address envelopes, or if ecards, gather email addresses
  • Do you send out holiday newsletters? If so, organize now by writing the content, getting the format design completed, and gather email addresses
  • Write up your holiday sale incentives marketing blurbs and decide where and how you will post or distribute (blogs, Ning, shop announcements, twitter, Facebook, ProjectWonderful, advertising, etc...)
  • If advertising online, create your graphics especially for the holidays
  • Prepare fliers or post cards with these incentives - to drop off around town locally
  • If you are on a venue like Etsy, determine your relist budget for November and December - you may want to bump up the number of times during the holidays
  • On the venues where you sell - look into in-house holiday promotional opportunities offered - make decisions on budget
  • Always have business cards with your online URL with you and hand them out freely during the holidays - these could have your incentive on the back if you wish
  • Give business cards to friends to hand out during the holidays

The Most Important of All!

  • Put on your Santa hat, grab a cigar, and have a hot toddy and holiday cookies!

Wishing you the very best selling season - ever!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Advertising Your Blog with Entrecard - The Experiment

If you follow this blog, you know that I like to experiment before I have an opinion of a source. You can check out IndieCEO's experiment with ProjectWonderful advertising to see what I mean. I have been eyeing Entrecard and thought I would give it a good try.

Entrecard is touted as "The Ultimate Networking Tool for Bloggers." It is a way to advertise your blog to gain readers and boost traffic by adding an Entrecard box to your own blog. You can see IndieCEO's Entrecard box to the right of this post. That is where people will "drop" their cards or have their requested/approved advertising show.

Entrecard is like its own little country because it has its own economy system! No cash payments are needed.

You simply earn credits by dropping your card on other blogs. By purchasing advertising with those credits, you can select the blogs where you want your ad to show. There are other opportunities to gain credits listed on the site that you might explore. I was able to earn enough credits when I first signed up to actually advertise on others' blogs right then and there.

There is a system to receive advertising on your own blog. You can either approve each one or choose to have an automatic approval. I prefer to approve each one because the content and look of ads on my blogs are very important to my brand.

Here are the Pros and Cons of Entrecard that I have found:

  • Free advertising that costs no money - just time and thought.
  • Fun - there are a variety of categories for artists and crafters to surf through - I have found such interesting blogs
  • Networking - I have begun to see favorites and tend to comment there and receive comments back
  • A way to gain readers
  • A way to boost traffic
  • A way to gain followers to your blog
  • A way to have your blog promos seen, like your shop minis, twitter link, those kinds of things
  • Most traffic is just that - traffic - and not specifically readers
  • Many will "hit and run" by going to your blog, dropping a card to get credits, and zoom out of the blog
  • It takes time - whether little or a lot is up to you
  • You must participate consistently to gain benefit by spending a little time each day to drop your card
Here is my summary of Entrecard:
I do like it, given my expectations. I don't expect tons of readers and commenters. I don't mind the ones who "hit and run" because it boosts traffic numbers. I also have ProjectWonderful ads on my blogs and the increased traffic boosts the bids on the ad boxes.

Those that linger to read and comment are the jewels of the process. You can gain a great networking group long term if you stick with Entrecard and participate. It may take a while but that is what I am going for while I am building traffic. I have also added to my blog "followers" through this method.

If you want to try it, click here for Entrecard!