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Under the Apple Trees

Alpaca Cabled Afghan 1

I have no illusions to how incredibly fortunate I am.  I love my work.  I love my home.  I work from my home.  I love to sit by my window with the piece that I am knitting or stitching or hooking, an audio or podcast burbling in the background, a batch of cookies in the oven.  That’s the fun part.  The more tedious bit, that bit that reminds me that it is a job, is when it comes time to marketing all the new wonderful things I’ve created.  The photography, the editing, the social media, etc, etc, etc.  Not my favorite part.  But a funny thing happened the other day:  the weather finally warmed, the grass and trees were turning green, and I had a number of things that needed to be photographed.  Never has a photo session been so inspired.  I threw open the doors and hauled a favorite chair out under the apple trees.  My dogs padded behind me befuddled, but delighted with the diversion.  And never was I happier to be taking care of the business end of business.

Latte Alpaca Afghan 5
This is my favorite blanket. I love the variegated creaminess of it. It is like be embraced by a latte. lol.
Moss Stitich Alpaca Throw Rug 1
It was even a fun day for some indoor shots!

 

 

 

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Pursuing Perfect: Resources for Crafting a Better Business

I don’t want to say that I’m a perfectionist, but the moniker seems to apply.  This isn’t to say that I’m perfect by any means (please don’t tell my husband).  Nor does it apply to such areas of my life as housework or errand running.  I’m not real picky about whether or not my socks match, either.  But if I’m making a birthday cake, I’ll make two so there’s a backup if one fails and dinner menus take into account every single guest’s food preferences and allergies, usually assuring that I make several meals for one sitting.  And certainly when it comes to my textiles and fibers, I return endlessly to a piece reassessing, adjusting, and even redoing.  Sound familiar to anyone?

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, there are so many new hats I’ve taken to wearing since I’ve returned to the world of fiber.  In addition to craftsperson in residence, I’m now a photographer and graphic artist.  And it pains me to say it, but I spent many, many hours the other day studying html code trying to be a stellar web designer, too.  Can I make my web site better?  Can I simplify the buying platform?  Can I improve the user’s shopping experience?  Ha!  I’m not sure where this craziness comes from.  But in the end, let’s admit it, it is all about finding success as an artisan in business.  As I travelled to the far corners of the internet that day, I came across some resources and websites that many of you may find useful, too, so I’ve compiled a list of some of the best and or most promising I came across.  I haven’t used them all, yet, but I am excited to do so.  And I’m pretty sure all of them are free.

For Everyone:

Hands down, the best resource for publicity I’ve come across thus far is Craftgawker.com.  This site is a cornucopia of eye candy for the creatively minded.  Not only will you be inspired by all the stunning shots of handmade goods, but if you submit (and they accept) a photo from your own blog, it is web traffic pay dirt.  Every time I’ve had a pic posted, the site visits to my blog have gone through the roof (if your curious, Jwrobel on CG).  Beyond that, browsing through all the featured photos provides a gold mine of blogs to shop through.  Look, see who suits, and SUBMIT, PITCH AN IDEA, OR OFFER TO WRITE SOMETHING for these blogs.  Free editorial publicity is the best!  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Even so, you may find one or two blogs that you feel are worth advertising on.

And it gets better:  Sister to sites to CG are dwellinggawker.com, foodgawker.com, and weddinggawker.com.  Depending on what you do and make, these may all prove to be additional venues to expose yourself on—properly, of course.;)

Jenna Coray’s Modish Biz Tips , while no longer updated, still offers an archived wealth of business to-do’s and to-don’ts.  Get your coffee and peruse.

If you’re geekier and/or have more patience, check out 2Createawebsite.com:  Website Tutorial Creation for Beginners.  Here, you will find all the tools you need to customize your blog or website to best draw a crowd.  And don’t worry about the geeky bit.  I’m positive that the only reason I can manage some basic html is because I’ve had to rip out and save lace knitting for too many times in my day.  It is all about being able to look at something and identify patterns.  Really, it’s not that scary and once you get the hang of it, it’s rather heady empowering stuff.

Facebook goes without saying.  If you’re not doing it, do it.  If you find it intimidating, get a kid to set you up.  That’s what I did (no pride here).  And from there it is easy.  Maintaining the thing is as easy as gaining weight while eating pie.

For Etsy Folk:

This little diddy, the Craftcult Treasury Widget, will help you make a customizable widget of a treaury to use on your website or blog that is fully linkable.  It is more than just a screen shot, it actually clicks back to all the items featured.  I took this quote from Etsy’s app page to explain it best, “That means you can also use the Treasury widget to feature your own items, or any collection of items you’d like to share with your blog readers. You just go make a Treasury list, then go to Craft Cult & make a snapshot widget, then delete the list from the Treasury if you want to – you still have the widget!”

Along those lines, Craftcult.com is at it again with their Pocket Shop Widget.  Etsy minis are fab, but they can also be limiting.  CraftCult’s widget is the only that I’ve found that will let you make a mini storefront that is specific for a particular Section of your shop.  This is huge.  If you’ve been waiting for this, you know why.

I have  to say CraftCult.com has some great and easy to use tools.  One of my favorites allows you to search through the archive of front page treasuries by  shop name.  I encourage you to take a good look through all of their easily navigable site.  Go there.

EtsyCatalog.com allows you to “Create an [editable] PDF catalog with all the listings in your shop, use your PDF catalog at trade shows, craft fairs, in emails and with your newsletter to increase sales at your Etsy shop!”

All in all:

Most importantly, make sure to make time for marketing, publicity, and promoting.  I’ve heard too many times that people just don’t have time for this.  Frankly, that’s ridiculous.  If you don’t have time to market yourself, you don’t have time to be in business.  Go take a nap.  But if you are serious, schedule it in.  Whether it is daily, weekly, or what.  Make it a priority.

There is so much out there to look at, investigate, and the like.  Twitter is on my list of deeds to do…  But there is more, always more.  I’d love to hear what other people are doing, and I will certainly update with any new goodies I come across.