today we’re in for a real treat- some great business tips from leaders in our industry. vanessa and daniellexo of etsy‘s blog, the storque, are joining us today to share “10 biz tips for indie online newbies“. if anyone knows about online indie biz tips- it’s the gang at etsy. so i’ll cut to the chase and just say thanks to vanessa and daniellexo for their great advice!
Top 10 Biz Tips for Indie Online Newbies
from Etsy’s Blog, The Storque
(by Vanessa and daniellexo)
— Think ever so carefully about the name you choose for your business. Before you commit to a name you like, do some research on the web. Is the url taken? Would it be confused with a trademarked brand that already exists? On Etsy, we do not currently offer a way to change your username, so once you register and get started, it’s hard to change your mind. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a catchy, easy to remember, meaningful name for your business.
Graphics, packaging, branding
— Like your new business’ name, it’s crucial to have that name conveyed visually. Think about what your colors, fonts, patterns or images communicate about your business. Get professional help if you can’t do this yourself. There are so many talented graphic designers out there who can help represent your business as the professional operation it is. These graphics or extensions of them should be on your website, your social networking profiles, your Etsy banner, and on your packaging materials, business cards, etc. I’ve bought so many items from Etsy, but when getting compliments on the street, I go to look for a label and sadly there’s no “artist’s mark” — and shame on me, I can’t remember the name. It’s like a branding “missed connections.”
SEO, Tagging, Measuring Results
— When getting your business web-ified, you should do some research about SEO (search engine optimization). In a nutshell this is that magic potion that search engines like Google use to find search results and hopefully send traffic to your business. You might hear people referring to this as “Google juice.” On Etsy, sellers should think about which words to use in their items’ titles, descriptions. And further — tagging your items accurately and thoroughly will help shoppers find you on Etsy and other group websites. You should also set up a free Google Analytics account. This will allow you to track where your traffic is coming from and give you some insights into what you’re doing to promote your business online.
— As an online entrepreneur you have the opportunity to provide excellent communication, create a friendly face for your shop, and promote repeat business. Having good, reliable and customer service is one way to guarantee repeat customers and new ones, through word-of-mouth. Make sure your customers know about your great service by drafting your policies on returns, exchanges, shipping and payments. It may seem a little dry but trust me, thinking about it before you dive headlong into business will save you (and your customers) a lot of heartache.
— Haven’t you twittered your twitter twitteringly? Every day is Facebook Day! Everyone needs to find their mix (it’s a spectrum where one end is sad, neglected memberships and the other far end is the dangerous, extreme compulsion). Try to set goals and boundaries. The fact of the matter is that many indie business people swear that social networking drives traffic and sales when you have fun with it and aren’t a total spammy self-promoter.
Be an Expert
— We haven’t exactly written a post about this yet, but one of the things we’ve noticed about successful Etsy sellers is that they share information about techniques and business. (We’re not talking about sharing your secret recipe, but giving back some tips to the community of up-n-comers.) Especially in the crafty side of business, DIY and how-tos blur the line between buying and selling and we end up talking about the handmade lifestyle and helping each other out.
— We posted a whole series about this topic. Our number one tip? Think long and deep and wide about your expenses and then determine your pricing. Chances are your handmade goods or unique service won’t have budget prices offered by big box stores and big corporations. What you do is valuable and you need to price and market it as such.
— You must have bright, crisp, clean quality photos (or art school photos that are an expression of your aesthetic). This will help get you reblogged by all those amazing design blogs out there who have such excellent taste (like design*sponge of course) and it will help your potential customers grasp what you are selling. Danielle’s #1 tip? Use natural light and turn off that flash! If you’re not a good photographer, find a friend or someone in your arts community. Or do a little research, we have a some awesome How-To’s on our blog to help.
When writing, “Do You”
— When you’re selling online, you rely on the written word in addition to your photography. Yes, you want to communicate all those details that a customer might ask you in person. But you also have to find your voice. Tell a bit of the story behind what you’re selling, open up a bit about your creative process or inspiration. Your voice will create that special experience of buying from an independent business rather than a faceless corporation. We’ve posted a number of how-tos on this topic.
This one is harder to sum up in a pithy, non-cliche way! So I’ll go with the classic “Follow your heart.” Whether you call yourself a designer, a crafter, a maker or an artist or whatever, what you are deciding to do is bring your unique expression to the world. You need to start somewhere, so start with what you love. You might find that you’ll refine that according to what your customers like. But keep making new things and trying out new ideas that tickle your fancy. There’s nothing worse than your passion becoming just another day job. Being an indiepreneur is all about giving yourself the flexibility to suit your creativity.