Category: inspiration


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As summer winds down, I am proud to say that I realized one of my major business goals for this year – to participate in two summer craft shows. It was a large endeavor in which I invested money (purchasing tent, tables, displays, etc.) and time (building my show inventory from practically nothing), but the experience and positive feedback were more than worth it. Now my plans for the fall include getting my Etsy shop inventory back up, revamping two of my bracelet lines, launching a new bracelet line, following up with my wholesale account, and lining up two craft shows for the holidays…Wow! That is a huge agenda for a part-time business!

I admit, Ms. Easygoing is actually feeling a little overwhelmed here! So I decided to take this weekend off…spent yesterday shopping with my sister and today hanging out with Mia and Chase, the Weimaraners. I also spent some time reflecting on my business. This year, I have experienced a nice amount of growth – in addition to the craft shows, my Etsy sales revenue has increased by more than 50% over this time last year! So how do I juggle the extra time my growing business requires? Inspiration does often come in the oddest places…

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Try not to be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life…

I recently read an article about Pearl Jam in Forbes Magazine (yes…that’s right…Forbes). The basis of the articles was how PJ chose to scale down their success at the height of their popularity in the early 90’s and forge a lifestyle business that has lasted for over 23 years:

“Pearl Jam’s answer to their hot streak of hit albums was to scale back their success and become a lifestyle business. Rather than focusing on growth, expansion, and increasing return on investment, the goal of lifestyle businesses is to enable their owners to earn a living and sustain their lifestyle. Lifestyle businesses allow their owners to fulfill their ambitions without sacrificing things that are important to them.”

I think that a lifestyle business appeals to most creative types…time always needs to be available to find inspiration and nothing is as detrimental to the creative process as burnout. The main reason I started Serendipity Blu was to feed my creative spirit. I have a great job, but it is in the left-brained dominated financial industry. When I come home from a stressful day at my office, nothing is as soothing as creating things of beauty. (Except maybe Weimaraners!) The added bonus of my creative venture is beefing up my travel budget, my greatest passion.

With that in mind, I have made some important decisions for the fall. I have chosen to not do craft shows until the holidays, even though fall is the busiest show season. I was worried that, after my busy summer, I would feel burnout if I prepped for any shows in the next month or two. Instead, I am taking some vacation time to travel to Salem, Massachusetts in October to experience Haunted Happenings. I also have a couple of big concerts lined up (PJ in Philly in October and Chris Cornell in Atlantic City in November). I also have to remember that I have three months to accomplish everything on my list and it is best to just focus on one task at a time. So for the next two weeks, I am going to work only on getting my shop inventory back up and enjoying these last few precious weeks of summer…

If you are interested in reading the entire PJ article from Forbes, I have included this link:

Pearl Jam Return To The Spotlight As A Mature Lifestyle Business

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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FROM THE BRIDGE TO THE BEACH

I am just wrapping up a crazy busy weekend that began with a very fun work event at Campbell’s Field where I watched the Camden Riversharks, a local minor leaguer baseball team. One of my favorite things about the ballpark is its stunning views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline. Very early the next morning, I had to head east about 60 miles for a beach craft show in my former hometown of Ventnor.

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JUST A LAID BACK BEACH TOWN

Ventnor is simply a laid back little town that lies between Atlantic City and Margate on Absecon Island. It has a boardwalk, which, unlike its northern neighbor, has no casinos or other businesses, making it ideal for walking, running, or cycling. All of the pizza places deliver right to the beach. And, unlike the resort towns of Ocean City and Wildwood, there are no weekly renters. Just the beach and the community…very quiet and so lovely! For close to eight years, I called Ventnor home, and I miss it quite terribly in the summertime. I was very pleased when the opportunity arose to participate as a vendor in the towns’s annual Ocean Breeze Arts and Craft Show.

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BOHO ECO CHIC

This show was my second official craft show. (I participated in one last month that was a great learning experience, but rather slow with the foot traffic.) It was also the second opportunity I had to work with my friend, Alison, who owns Back Alley Chic, and creates amazing tote bags, aprons, and pillows from recycled coffee sacks. My rustic leather and recycled glass jewelry is a perfect complement to her earthy and eco friendly bags. While I am by no means an expert on craft shows, one piece of advice I feel confident in giving is to find a buddy and rent a double space like we did. We had a large area to create an inviting space where customers could feel comfortable browsing. By co-mingling our items, we also kept our displays very interesting.

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WORKING OUT THE DETAILS

For my displays, I chose natural wood finishes to complement, rather than complete with my jewelry. Since I use glass beads that have a matte seaglass quality, I was afraid stark black or white displays would not have as positive an effect as it does on more traditionally styled jewelry. I used my extensive seashell collection to accent the display. I also decided to display prints that tell the story of both types of recycled glass beads I use. I got many questions and comments on the recycled glass from Indonesia and Africa, enough that it was a definite selling point. Many customers also took photos of the prints or asked if I had copies for them so they could share the stories of the glass bracelets they purchased. Something to consider for the next show…

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INDONESIAN RECYCLED GLASS BEADS

Recycled glass beads from Bali, Indonesia are made from molten fritters of colored glass, creating a soft beach glass effect. I source my beads from a small Indonesian-owned company that believes in sustaining green principles and supports the ecosystem by using discarded items such as bottles, jars, and windows as crude materials. Each bead is individually handmade using centuries old techniques passed down generation by generation. This crude process does not use chemicals —a green process of bead production. It also helps to keep the beaches of one of my favorite places in the world clean!

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AFRICAN RECYCLED GLASS BEADS

These amazing beads are made by the Krobo People of Ghana, Africa. They are made by pressing glass into a fine powder and heating it until the particles fuse together. The glass is then poured in clay molds and the stem of a cassava leaf is used to make the bead hole. The beads are then baked in an oven, causing the glass to melt together and the stem to burn. This technique has been used in Africa for centuries. These beads are also Fair Trade Certified. The end result is an amazing piece of eco-chic jewelry!

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All in all the show was a successful outing. The day was perfect: not too hot with a glorious breeze coming off the ocean! The crowd was great, I far exceeded my sales expectations and I handed out many, many business cards. It is definitely a show I plan to line up for next summer. It also gave me a chance to meet up with two of my dearest friends, Sue and Ingrid, who were so gracious and modeled some of Alison’s amazing creations.

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Ingrid shopping for some unique burlap throw pillows.

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Sue modeling the adorable burlap bag she purchased for her daughter.

Please check out Alison’s Etsy shop for more of her fabulous one-of-kind items:

Back Alley Chic

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time…peace, love and flip flops!
~Erin

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I purchased a wonderful tutorial this summer to create leather infinity links. As soon as I saw the links on Pinterest (yes…I actually DID something I pinned!), I knew they would be a fantastic anchor for my rustic Betty Bracelets and a great way to freshen up their look for fall. I just listed five of these new Infinity Bracelets in my Etsy shop, Serendipity Blu, today. All are crafted with eco-friendly Indonesian recycled glass beads and distressed leather. Here is the round-up:

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LOVE

This feminine beauty features pale pink and chocolate brown beads and is accented with silver hibiscus toggle and love charm. Feel the love…

Love Bracelet

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NAMASTE

This enlightened accoutrement features lotus blossom shades of sea green and bright pink. The look is completed with silver mandala toggle and Om charm. I honor the place in you of light, of love, of truth, and of peace…

Namaste Bracelet

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WISDOM

This smart accessory features ice cream hues of mint and chocolate chip accented with antique brass Tree of Life toggle and owl charm. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…

Wisdom Bracelet

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IMAGINE

This free-spirited bracelet features beads in soft aqua blue and pale Coke bottle green. The fun look is completed with silver daisy button and imagine charm. Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine Bracelet

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HARMONY

This burnished beauty begins with soothing shades of aqua blue and chocolate brown accented with rich copper compass toggle and Hamsa charm. We are all one world…

Harmony Bracelet

If you are interested in learning this technique, the tutorial can be ordered from Tracy Statler through her blog here:

Make Bracelets Blog

Hope you enjoyed browsing my new fall collection. Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it is August already! So far, this summer, I have been prepping for my first two craft shows (the photo above is from one I did last month and my next one is coming up in two weeks!), which I did not realize would be so much work. To balance all of that frantic energy, I spent the rest of my leisure time hanging out with my friends at the beach and being lazy with the world’s two most spoiled weimaraners. What has been lacking, however, is the amount of time I have been spending on my Etsy shop and my blog. I am pleased that the creative juices are now flowing again and, for my first shop post in a while, I would like to introduce you to two new Betty Bracelets inspired by my recent trip to New Orleans.

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JAZZ

This delicate beauty is flirty and feminine with alternating hot pink and petal pink recycled glass beads surrounded by very chic deep brown leather. A lovely silver fleur de lis toggle completes the look. The full listing can be viewed here:

Jazz Bracelet

This bracelet was inspired by the many jazz clubs I visited in NOLA. While the hippest ones are located on Frenchmen Street, one of the most important ones, Preservation Hall, is located right in the French Quarter.

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Preservation Hall opened its doors in 1961. The hall was created as a sanctuary, to protect and honor New Orleans Jazz which had lost much of its popularity to modern jazz and rock n roll. Allan and Sandra Jaffe, the hall’s founders, wanted a place where New Orleans musicians could play New Orleans Jazz, a style, they believed, should not disappear.

Today, over 40 years later, the hall is still going strong. On any given night, the hall is filled to capacity with people eager to hear New Orleans jazz played by veteran musicians as well as younger ones learning and embracing this incredible genre.

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VOODOO

This whimsical bracelet begins with rustic honey brown leather surrounding ethereal pale aqua blue recycled glass beads. It is accented with a spirited sugar skull artisan toggle. The full listing can be viewed here:

Voodoo Bracelet

Voodoo is almost synonymous with New Orleans. On my last visit, I learned about the Bone Gangs of NOLA, which is a wonderful blending of voodoo traditions and jazz music.

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The North Side Skull and Bone Gang, based in the Treme neighborhood of the city, has been waking up New Orleans at dawn to usher in Mardi Gras since 1819! They dress in skeleton costumes, which is an homage to their voodoo roots, while playing lively NOLA jazz. I first learned of this wonderful tradition from the work of local artist, Joy Gauss:

Joy’s Clay Art

If you would like to keep up with the happenings of the North Side krewe, you can follow their blog here:

NOLA Skull & Bones

That’s about it for now…I have a crystal clear pool and two doggies waiting for me outside…

Thanks for stopping by!
~Erin

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I am very pleased to be donating these two Betty Bracelets to the Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue. The Rescue is an all volunteer non-profit organization organization which helps to place rescued Weimaraners in loving homes in NJ, PA, and DE.

I have dubbed the bracelets “The Gray Ghosts,” as this is a very common nickname for the Weimaraner breed. The bracelet on the left was crafted with larger light gray and smaller sky blue recycled glass beads accented by a dragonfly toggle. The bracelet on the right has a charcoal gray and bright pink color combo with a tropical hibiscus toggle. They will be featured prizes for the silent auction at the Rescue’s 7th Annual Fundraiser and Volunteer Picnic, which will be held next Saturday, May 4th from 12:00 to 4:00 in Lumberton, NJ. More info is available here:

Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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Now that the two doggies are getting acclimated, I feel like my life is finally getting back to normal and I am able to spend time on all of the other things I enjoy. (Although what could be more enjoyable than a new puppy!) Last night, I attended an awesome Black Crowes show in Philly and today I am working on my hand-crafted jewelry business. I am starting off by wrapping up this business planning series of my blog and then I will be weaving away to get my inventory up for summer craft shows. I wanted to share a picture of the two best buds – Mia, who will be five next month, and our new edition, Chase, who just turned seven months:

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MARKETING WITHIN ETSY

The previous posts in this series have chronicled my my business planning journey through the following areas: narrowing the scope of my craft, branding my image, adding finishing touches, setting goals, and setting up an online shop. Now, I am going to focus on what I have done to spread the word about my business and resources I use to expand my business.

Why Choose Etsy?

I originally chose to set up shop with Etsy almost two years ago because the fees were very reasonable, online support is very good, and the Etsy community is very active. At that time, very few of my friends had heard of the online marketplace, but now Etsy has become more mainstream – most shoppers use it as the go to source for anything handmade. While I do like that Etsy is becoming more well known, I am concerned that it is becoming too big to maintain an indie edge. Even so, I still think it is one of the best starting points for an online presence for your crafting business.

It’s All Karma

One of the first things I learned about being a member of the Etsy community is to share the love. One of the best ways to improve your standings in search results is to have items that have many views and fav’s. I make it a practice to add items to my favorites for any shop owner who has favorited my work. It is a simple, yet powerful practice.

Treasuries are curated collections created by Etsy members. I usually have time to create 1-2 treasuries per month. When I do, I typically follow a PIF (pay it forward) rule: if I am featured in someone’s treasury, I will promote it, add the other items to my favorites, and feature the curator in my next collection.

Both of these practices are very common in the Etsy community, and I have found that by staying active, I have gotten my shop much more exposure.

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This is a gorgeous treasury in which I was recently featured.

Build a Local Network

The Etsy community is made up of teams for members to join to network with other like-minded members. Some of the teams I belong to are the Hippie Peaceniks, Bohemian Lovers, and Beachy Things. For anyone following my blog, these surely seem like obvious choices for me. But the one team that I consider to be the most important is the South Jersey Etsians. I am a leader on this team (which just recently reached 100 members!) and maintain a very active status. As its name suggests, this team is very localized: most members live in the south western counties of the state (the ones closest to the city of Philadelphia). The main advantage of such a localized team is that we are able to host regular marketing mixers to meet in person to network. While I acknowledge the importance of staying connected in the cyber world, I must admit that I am old school and sometimes you just can’t beat face to face contact. If you are unable to find a localized team on Etsy, don’t be afraid to start one and invite members in – it will really help you cultivate a wonderful community of fellow local artisans and friends. And if you live in South Jersey and have a shop on Etsy, come join our team!

South Jersey Etsians

MARKETING OUTSIDE OF ETSY

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Social Media is such an important part of today’s world, that it would almost be foolhardy to not take advantage of the marketing possibilities it holds. There are so many choices – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogging – that it can feel so overwhelming! I fear that if I dedicated time to each social media outlet, I would not have any time left over to make my jewelry! I decided the social media outlets I would use to market my business would be the same ones that I use for everyday communication. I actually do not spend much time on Facebook or Twitter, so I do not market regularly through them. I do enjoy reading blogs and I am quite addicted to Pinterest, so I have chosen to market through those outlets. I am proud to say that I have gotten many views and a few sales from both as well! My best advice to my readers is to be consistent with whichever social media you choose. If you choose to market through Facebook because you update your timeline everyday, then you should also be updating your shop page just as frequently.

I love to take photos, so I am intrigued by the Instagram concept, and I am considering adding it as a marketing tool. What social media do you use to market your Etsy shop? Where have you found the most success? I would love to hear about it in my comments section.

If you would like to check out my Pinterest boards, you can do so here:

http://pinterest.com/serendipityblu/

BLOG RESOURCES

I have found the following blogs to be extremely beneficial in my business planning and I encourage all of my readers to follow them:

Oh My! Handmade

Handmadeology

Thanks for stopping by, and once again joining me on my business planning journey!

Shanti,
Erin

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I am planning on participating at two craft shows at Cold Springs Village in Cape May this summer. I am very excited – and a little nervous! – since this is my first “real” craft show outing. I participated in a house party this past holiday season, where 5 of us from my South Jersey Etsians Team set up tables at our Team Captain’s house for a fun grassroots craft fair. It was a great experience and a perfect trial run to see how my display works. The photo above shows the setup I used to display my Betty Bracelets – beachy macrame pieces accented with recycled glass beads.

WHAT WORKED

I really like the light wood T-bar displays – the color complements, rather than overpowers, the brown leather, and the natural texture of the wood works well with the rustic style of the jewelry. I basically placed a bracelet display in front of the taller necklace display for some interesting height contrast. I think the contrast worked well also. I also love the look of the casually strewn seashells to complete the beach theme.

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED?

While the display is visually appealing, it was not as welcoming as I would have liked it to be. I packed so many bracelets in the display that most potential customers were afraid to remove any to try on for fear of a bracelet avalanche. Also, all of the prices were listed on tiny tags on each bracelet. Many potential customers prefer to shop at their own pace and often do not like to ask for assistance until they are ready to purchase. Even though I did list all of the prices, they were not as easy to read because of the tightly packed issue.

The simplest solution was to purchase more T-bars. I now have four (2 necklace and 2 bracelet) so I can display fewer pieces on each. I also found some other great display ideas that welcome the client and encourage trying on my jewelry.

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This half moon display allows me to showcase 2-3 unbuttoned bracelets, which will definitely encourage potential customers to try them on. I also like that the natural wood matches my other displays. I purchased it from the Etsy shop Notable Notions for $8.00 with $4.95 shipping. Here is a link to their website:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/NotableNotions

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I just love these two latest editions to my setup! The mini chalkboards are such a fun way to list prices – plus I don’t have to bother with all of those tiny tags! I want to keep it simple with these Cape May shows and price my bracelets with only 3-4 options, based on the size of the beads. With these signs and the extra T-bars, I can segregate the bracelets by price, making a very easy and enjoyable shopping experience. Four of these chalkboard signs are available from the Etsy shop, Braydens Grace, for $18.00 with $4.00 shipping. For an extra $5.50, you may also want to order the wipe-off chalk pen – less messy than regular chalk!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BradensGrace

I am introducing a line of children’s bracelets – Lil’ Betty’s – at both my Etsy shop and the craft show. I was originally going to put them in a basket, so little hands can have fun sorting through all of the pretty colors, but I found this gorgeous squamosal clam shell and thought it fit the bill perfectly. It is about 8 inches wide by six inches deep and is quite heavy, so it will not topple over in wind. Check out the ruffled detail on the underside:

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I purchased this beauty from the Etsy shop Seashells by Seashore. The price tag seemed a bit hefty at $20.00 with $10.95 shipping, but was actually quite comparable for this size seashell.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/seashellsbyseashore

SERENDIPITY BLU IS IN THE PINK!

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I have gorgeous 2 inch square business cards that I absolutely love, but they are small and I was concerned they would get lost amongst everything else on my display table. I was going to order my regular design in a larger 3 inch square, but then I found these hot pink merchandise bags I purchased as a closeout a few years ago. I thought it would be fun to match the larger cards to the bags for the summer shows rather than stick with my signature aqua blue. I chose this design, which is actually a variation on a promotional magnet I recently designed. I especially love the vintage typewriter print on the back of the card! I purchased these from my usual vendor, Uprinting, and I was just as pleased as I always am with their quality and service.

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I glued seashells onto wooden clothes pins to act as anchors for my cards so they will not blow away in the ocean breeze. I plan to put 3-4 small bunches of cards around the table to encourage more customers to help themselves.

I am hoping these enhancements to my setup will encourage more serious browsing and potential sales. Keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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The fifth installment of my business planning series focuses on setting up an online shop with Etsy. This post is geared toward the new shop owner, but it is also a good review for tweaking existing shops. As a leader on one of my Etsy teams, I am in charge of our shop critiques and I will be using that model to outline the process.

BASIC SHOP SET UP

Shop Banner

Think of your shop banner as your online welcome sign. What should be your customer’s first impression of your shop? Ever since I first set up my shop, I wanted to portray a free spirited beach image. My current banner is actually my fifth, replacing others as my shop evolved and my brand became more evident. My first banner was just one of my photos of the Caribbean Sea with my shop name. It was pretty, but rather bland. After a couple of sales, I decided to treat myself to a professionally designed banner. I chose one that was perfect for my shop: a very reasonably priced mermaid image. It was quite beautiful, but it was not an exclusive design. I actually received an email from a fellow Etsian asking where I got it so she could use the same design for her shop! I immediately went on the hunt for a new, exclusive design. There are so many talented graphic designers who sell shop banners on Etsy, but be certain to choose one who designates their designs as OOAK (one of a kind). You put your heart and soul into making your unique crafts; you want something just as unique to advertise and showcase it.

My third shop banner was a lovely vintage beach girl image. By vintage, I mean turn of the century, not 60’s surfer girl. I loved the image, but it was not exactly right for my shop. I chose it in a hurry, because of the mermaid debacle. My fourth image was a rustic daisy design on a soft teal blue background. I was very pleased with it: it was simple and free spirited, just the image I wanted to convey (and daisies are my favorite flowers!) There were two things that this banner did NOT do: it did not convey in any way that I create jewelry, nor did it convey a beach theme. My shop name, Serendipity Blu, is abstract. The word jewelry is not anywhere in my name. What I realized is that my banner should be less abstract. For my most recent banner, pictured above, I decided to try my hand at designing my own. I featured some of my bracelet images along with my shop name and a beach image. I gave the photos an aged, distressed look to complement my rustic jewelry. Now when a potential customer see my banner, she immediately thinks beach jewelry.

If you would like to design your own shop banner, remember it should measure 760 pixels by 100 pixels. It can be in .jpg, .gif, or .png formats. You will upload your completed banner in the Info and Appearance section of your shop.

Shop Title

Your shop title is different from your shop name. The terminology can be confusing. Think of it as more of a subtitle. I have seen many shop titles the same as the shop name, which makes for a redundant listing in a search engine. If I also used Serendipity Blu as my shop title, I would show up in a Google search as Serendipity Blu by Serendipity Blu. Instead, I used my mission statement as my title. (For more information on developing a mission statement, please review part 4 of this series.) My shop title reads boho beach chic for a free spirited life.

Shop Announcement

The first paragraph of your shop announcement should elaborate on your shop title. This is used in Google searches, so you want to make sure you are using simple sentences and important keywords. Additional paragraphs can feature current promotions, item turnaround time, and any additional shop information you would like a potential customer to easily view.

How Is My Shop Viewed In a Google Search?

boho beach chic for a free spirited life by serendipity blu
Aloha and welcome to my cyber beach shack! This is the place to find laid-back leather jewelry, with many pieces featuring eco-friendly recycled glass.

This is where we need to find a balance: you want to be certain that potential customers clearly know what you selling and are also intrigued by your creativity in presenting it.

Shop Policies

While this is not nearly as much fun as designing a shop banner, it is an integral part of your shop’s success. You want your policies to be clear and concise, yet answer any questions your customers may have.

Welcome: a brief greeting. Mine simply reads, “I believe life should be about enjoying the simple pleasures: a sunny sky, a perfect beach day, or a fresh picked flower! I strive to convey that same easy going sense of free spirit in my designs. Please enjoy browsing and feel free to convo me if you have any questions.”

Payment Policy: here is where you list all of your payment options: Paypal, Visa/MC/Am Ex/Discover through Direct Checkout; Etsy Gift Cards.

Shipping Policy: Are your items ready to ship? If not, what is your turnaround time. How do you ship? USPS, Fex Ex, UPS? Do you supply tracking information? Do you ship internationally? All of these questions should be answered this section. Please note, if you do ship internationally, be sure to state whether you or the buyer is responsible for duties, customs, and taxes levied by the buyer’s country.

Refunds and Exchanges: take the time to set up a simple and reasonable refund policy. If you are stuck, view other shops and see how their refund policies are worded. Mine reads,

“Customer satisfaction is a top priority. If your order is lost or damaged, or if you are dissatisfied for any reason, please convo me and I will work with you to resolve any issues.

REFUND POLICY:
~Full refunds are only available up to 14 days after receipt of item.
~Exchanges are available up to 30 days after receipt of item.
~Custom orders are not available for refunds or exchanges.

Additional Information: Do you accept custom orders? Wholesale orders? What other questions do you think your customer may have?

This link will take you directly to my shop policies for more ideas:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/serendipityblu/policy?ref=shopinfo_policies_leftnav

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Avatar

Your Avatar is simply your profile picture. I have seen some avatars utilizing a product photo (like mine), the shop owner’s photo, or a graphic matching the banner. All three work beautifully; it really is just a matter of personal preference.

Personal Profile

This section is about you. Tell your potential shoppers a little something about yourself. Are you a proud parent or grandparent? An intrepid traveler? (like me!) What would you like to share. Also let your customers know what inspires you. Your Shop Announcement and About Page tell your shop’s story. This is where you tell your story.

About Page

This is a relatively new feature for Etsy, and one that every shop owner should utilize. This is where you can really tell your shop’s story (in worlds and pictures). This section is also where you can link you pr blog to your shop. My about page features pictures of my favorite jewelry model (my sister’s Weimaraner, Mia); an eco-friendly shop that features my bracelets; my craft show display; and the recycled glass beads I use. Yours can include anything you want. Did you start making jewelry for your wedding? A photo of your wedding party would be an amazing touch. Get creative!

LISTING AN ITEM

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Photos

Most Etsians will tell you this is the most challenging part of the entire listing. I am planning an extensive follow up post strictly on photographing your work, but in this post, I will outline some basics.

The collage above shows the basic layout of my photos for my Betty Bracelets. The first shot features the bracelet propped up on natural seashells placed on a piece of cream colored scrap booking paper. I always use natural light for this shot to capture the truest hue of the beads and sharp details of the leather and toggle. This is the photo I used as my “cover photo” for my Etsy listings. The second image is taken in direct sunlight on dark distressed wood. I love these shots because they really show how amazing the recycled glass beads look shining in the sun – remember, I am marketing to beach bums like myself! I often use these images in this blog. The third photo shows the open bracelet, often with a small seashell in the center. It is also taken in natural light and shows yet another angle of the bracelet. I sometimes use a fourth photo if the item name was inspired by my travels. This particular bracelet, Hua Bay, was named after a surfing spot I visited on the Big Island of Hawaii, so I featured this photo from that 2007 trip of a beautiful street mural to complement the turtle toggle on the bracelet. You can view the listing here to see see the full size pictures:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/123882128/recycled-glass-bracelet-seafoam-green?ref=pr_shop

It is imperative to make sure your photos are crisp and clear. My best advice is to purchase the best camera you can afford (don’t be afraid to buy a used camera if it is high quality), always use the highest resolution setting, and take many photos at various angles. My camera is a few years old, but it still takes amazing pictures, so I have no plans of replacing it anytime soon. It is a Fuji FinePix with 16MP and 10x optical zoom.

Titles

My titles basically went from Alive and Black to Elderly Woman Behind the Counter at a Small Town. (Couldn’t resist the Pearl Jam reference!) I name all of my pieces, and when I first started selling on Etsy, I only used those one to two words. That is a big no-no if you ever want your items to be found in an Etsy or Google search. For optimal Etsy search results, you want to make sure your defining word (what the item is) is in the first 2-3 words. When I re-worked my titles so that “woven leather bracelet,” “macrame leather bracelet,” or “recycled glass bracelet” are the first 3 words, I really moved my position up in the search results! (I now start appearing on the first or second page of those search results!) Please note that I also vary my defining words, since potential customers may search different keywords. Another thing to remember when titling your items is that search engines like Google only pick up the first 55 characters, so you want to make sure everything you want displayed in an external search is within the 55 characters. Back to the PJ reference, one of the first items I listed in my shop was simply titled Wakiki Beach, and it received little or no views. Now it is titled Macrame Leather Bracelet “Waikiki Beach” Seafoam Green Dragonfly Recycled Glass Boho Surfer Style “Betty Bracelet”, and it gets many hits and hearts!

Description

You should write your item description as if there were no photos. Be very specific and answer any questions your potential customers may have. Google search results give the most weight to the first paragraph. be sure to optimize this by including colors, materials, and keywords first. Always remember to include sizing information. If your descriptions are lengthy (like mine!), separate them into paragraphs for easier reading.

Tags and Materials

Etsy allows you to use 13 tags to describe your item. Be sure to use all 13 or you are missing out on potential search results. The best advice I have ever received on using relevant tags is to view the tags used by a shop with similar items that has a high sales volume. Another option is to show your item to some friends and ask them to describe the item using one or two word phrases. They may come up with great tags you never thought of using.

While Etsy does allow relevant phrases to be used as one tag, they do frown upon “tag stuffing.” For example, I can use recycled glass beads as one tag, but not surfer beach ocean.

Etsy also allows up to 13 materials tags. I was not fully utilizing these until recently. I now use not just leather as material tag, but also distressed leather and brown leather to help increase my search results.

Shop Sections

Etsy allows up to 10 shop sections to categorize your listings. You should try to make your sections descriptive and creative. Instead of simply using Bracelets, Chokers, and Pendants, I use use Betty Bracelets, Beach Bum Chokers, and Mermaid Tears Pendants to enhance my beach theme.

Inventory

Etsy recommends having at least 40 items in your shop. One reason is to give potential shoppers several choices. My shop has Betty Bracelets in several sizes with a whole plethora of color and toggle variety to appeal to several tastes. Also, the more items you have, the more opportunities there are to be picked up in Etsy and Google searches.

Whew…there is a lot involved in setting up an online shop with Etsy! I hope this post helps you realize your goal of selling your crafts. There is just one more post in this Getting Down to Business series. Next week, I will focus on marketing your items within and outside of Etsy. I will also be taking a six week photography course beginning next week at my community college. Once I am finished, I plan to write an extensive post on photographing your work. Please keep an eye out for both of these posts by following my blog.

Thanks for stopping by and happy selling!

Shanti,
Erin

new beads just in from java

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I just received my newest order of recycled glass beads from Indonesia this week and they are stunning! I tried some new bright colors for spring: hot pink, electric blue, bright teal. I also went for softer neutrals like black, blush pink, frosty clear. I also tried some new shapes and sizes. The photo above, taken in direct sunlight, shows how the beads can really shimmer!

Should you import supplies?

I purchased these beads directly from a small Indonesian owned company in western Java. I decided to import for two reasons: the price is significantly less expensive and the selection is amazing. The major drawbacks to importing directly are the wait (two weeks production time and 1 1/2 weeks shipping time); the high wholesale minimums (10 strand minimum per each type/color of bead); and the high shipping costs (which usually doubles the original price of the beads). After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to buy direct. I will mow be selling at craft shows this year and I will more than likely use this large lot (68 strands!) of beads. The company I work with is Kreasi Bali:

http://www.kreasibali.com/

I also import Hill Tribes silver directly from Thailand. I work with a small company based in Chiang Mai, Asia Charisma, that I discovered on one of my trips to Thailand. As with the Indonesian beads, the prices are significantly lower (which then allows me to keep my prices lower) than purchasing here in the United States. Thai post also usually has a flat-rate for international shipping. Here is a link to Asia Charisma’s website:

http://asia-charisma.net/

I do not import all of my supplies. For my leather, I have a wonderful distributor, Leather Cord USA, that has that a fantastic selection and super quick shipping. I also order my African Trade Beads from two different vendors here in the United States. I do not use as many of these beads as I do the ones from Indonesia, so it would not be cost effective for me to import such a small shipment.

Here are two Betty Bracelets created with my newest beads:

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Waimea Wahine

This flirty little stacking bracelet is extra feminine with hot fuchsia beads! The vibrant pink color is a perfect complement to the dainty hibiscus toggle. The entire listing can be viewed here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/77525100/macrame-leather-bracelet-hot-pink

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Waipo Valley

This bold statement bracelet is even more stunning with these super chunky black beads and retro butterfly toggle! More details can be seen here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/106110328/woven-leather-bracelet-black-butterfly?ref=v1_other_2

Do you order your supplies from one source, or have you acquired a varied selection of distributors? Have you considered importing directly? If you use unique supplies (like my recycled glass beads), this may be a cost-effective alternative for you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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I am up to Part 4 of my Getting Down to Business Series. I think the best way to begin is with a brief recap of the previous 3 posts:

Narrowing Your Focus

1. Why do you craft?
2. What inspires you?
3. Who is your customer?
4. What is your niche?

Building a Brand

1. Who am I? (What 10 words describe you?)
2. How can you use these words to create an image for your craft?
3. BE RECOGNIZABLE (Establish a common theme for every aspect of your craft.)

Wrapping It All Up

1. Do your printed marketing materials convey your overall image?
2. Does your packaging presentation complement your overall image?

If you have not done so already, use these questions to create a brand building worksheet for yourself. Please feel free to review these previous posts for how I answered those questions and how this exercise helped me establish my retro beach image.

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CREATING A MISSION STATEMENT

A mission statement is simply a statement of the purpose of your business. A good mission statement will provide a path for the development of your business. So, if I were to create my mission statement, it may be something like this:

“I sell leather bracelets, sometimes necklaces, too.”

Ugh! Blah! Yawn! I think I need to look more carefully at this…a good mission statement should contain these components:

1. Key Market – who is your target customer?
2. Contribution – what do you provide?
2. Distinction – what makes it unique?

Ok, so how about this:

“I create boho beach chic jewelry to accessorize a free spirited lifestyle.”

Ahhh…much better, but does it stack up:

1. Key Market: beach lovers
2. Contribution: casual jewelry
3. Distinction: hand-crafted free-spirited designs

Remember, we are in the business of creating, so your mission statement should be creative as well. It is ok to imply, rather than spell out, your mission.

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GOAL SETTING

What should this business accomplish? Is your crafting business simply a hobby? Is it also a part-time source of income? Would you like to make it a more viable source of income? Three major factors to consider are 1. how much time you have to invest; 2. how much money you have to invest; 3. how will you position your business.

Serendipity Blu started out as a hobby, but I am currently developing it into a part-time source of income.

How much time do you realistically have?

Do you work 40 hours a week?
How demanding is your job?
Do you need to travel for your job?
What are your family responsibilities outside of work?

Are you a stay-at-home mom?
How many children do you have?
How old are your children?

All of these questions pose important scenarios when determining how much time you have to devote to your crafting. I work a full-time relatively demanding job. I am not married and I do not have any children, but I do regularly socialize with friends, travel, and attend concerts. I am fortunate that I do have quite a bit of free time, but I do not want to spend ALL of it on my business. There is this wonderful quote by Monty Python actor John Cleese, “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” Many of my inspirations for designs or marketing concepts do arise from my unwind time. Since I consider my crafting business a part-time endeavor, I currently spend approximately 15-18 hours per week on it. I am willing to increase this time to 20-24 hours per week to prepare for a specific event.

How should you divide your time? There are several components to a crafting business: developing and researching your designs/materials; executing your designs into finished items, and marketing/networking of your business. I typically spend 3-5 hours per week on marketing and networking. This time includes internal marketing on Etsy, external marketing through this blog and on Pinterest, and developing new printed materials. Approximately one week a month, the balance of my time is spent on development. I take this time to read through my macrame books to find different design ideas, to create prototypes of the designs, to find just the right materials to accent the designs, and to research names for the designs. The other three weeks of the month are spent executing the designs into jewelry that I will be selling.

What is your financial budget for building your business?

I am fortunate that I have enough sales on my Etsy shop that it basically sustains itself. But since I am in the process of growing, rather than maintaining, my business, I am now in the precarious position of financing this growth. One thing I will NOT do, nor do I ever encourage readers to do, is to put more supplies on a credit card than you can pay off each month. That is just simply a recipe for financial disaster. Instead, I use a percentage of my DISPOSABLE monthly income. I define disposable income as income that is left over after all bills are paid, savings is set aside (for both retirement and long term goals), the car is filed with gas, and groceries are purchased. I also pay for concert tickets and save for vacations with this disposable income, so I am currently using about $100 per month on additional business supplies. I encourage everyone to also develop a budget worksheet to see how much you can realistically set aside each month for your business.

How will you position your business?

Is your craft business strictly online? Do you have both strong online sales and a craft show presence? Do you mainly sell at craft shows, but want an online venue for repeat sales? There is no right or wrong way to position your business, but It is important to determine this when you are setting your business goals.

I currently have just an online presence, but I plan to expand and sell at some craft shows this year. A good part of my financial budget is earmarked for buying enough materials to make a good surplus of jewelry to sell at these shows and and for purchasing display items.

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SMART GOALS

A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. To dissect further:

Specific: what precisely do you want to accomplish?
Measurable: what is the concrete criteria for measuring progress?
Attainable: is this goal realistic?
Relevant: why is this goal important?
Time-Bound: when does this goal need to be accomplished?

One of my business goals for this year is to increase my item listings on my Etsy shop to 100 by the end of the year. I plan to do this in steps: 50 items by spring; 75 by summer; 100 by the holidays.

Is this a SMART goal? Let’s check it against our criteria:

Specific: this goal precisely outlines the numbers I want to increase.
Measurable: this is a goal I can easily measure on Etsy
Attainable: I am increasing my inventory by 25 items every three months, or about 8 items per month. With the amount of time I have outlined for my business, this is a very realistic task to complete.
Relevant: this goal is pertinent to increasing my revenue – the more items my shop has, the more exposure it receives, and the potential for sales increases.
Time-Bound: this goal has distinct time limits for completion.

My other goal for this year is to participate in craft shows. This goal is rather vague; let’s see if we can turn it into a SMART goal:

Specific: I need to include specific number of shows to participate in this year.
Measurable: while vague, this is an easily measurable goal.
Attainable: I have to make certain I have the time and resources to prepare for the shows.
Relevant: while vague, this goal does focus on an important aspect of the crafting business; there is potential for increased revenue.
Time-Bound: I need to specify which times during the year I want to participate in each craft show.

This year, I plan to participate in 2 craft shows during the summer and 2 craft shows for the holiday season.

Thanks for stopping by and joining me on my continuing business planning journey. I hope that I have given you some concrete ideas for building YOUR business. Stay tuned for the last two posts in this series: Setting Up Shop and Marketing with Social Media.

Shanti,
~Erin

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