Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some Tips on Placing Ads

I plan to do a much larger post specifically on some of the ad networks later on but after a Twitter exchange today I wanted to write a short post about setting up an ad campaign. I've had some moderate success with ad campaigns using Project Wonderful so I feel like I have learned something about what works and what doesn't.

DO target sites or keywords related to your business such as: handmade, etsy, crafts, jewelry (if that's what you sell), or bath and body (again if that is your product type).

DON'T target an unrelated keyword just because it's popular. Project Wonderful has a lot of web comics offering advertising space so "comics" is a very popular keyword. However if your products are unlikely to appeal to comic readers you're wasting your money using that keyword. I sell cephalopod related jewelry so I do advertise on some comics with octopus, squid, or Cthulhu as characters because people who like those types of comics are likely to also like my jewelry.

DO monitor where your clicks are coming from, a site that sends you a lot of visitors (especially if those visitors also shop) is worth extra to keep your ad on the site. This only works with a service that allows you to select specific sites to advertise on though.

DON'T keep your ads on a site that isn't sending clicks. It doesn't matter how many pageviews it gets, if no one is clicking on your ad then it's not worthwhile.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Quick Tip #2 - Mini Cards

Several custom printing services such as Zazzle and Moo now offer mini cards, these are 1"x3" cards similar to business cards but much narrower. These are a perfect side for custom tags! Just make sure to design them with space at the end to punch a hole and use ribbon or string to attach them to your products.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is the Recession a Benefit for Handmade Businesses?

I don't have the answer to that question, it's much too big and complex for me as a single businesswoman to draw a firm conclusion just from my experience and talking to other business owners. My sales this holiday season have been much more than I expected and I don't know if that's a result of more people buying handmade or the effect of my marketing efforts or luck or some combination of that.

However one writer for the New York Times does think that the recession and people wanting to save money has had the effect of helping craft businesses and suppliers. Go check it out here: For Craft Sales, the Recession Is a Help

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quick Tip #1 - Fee Calculators

If you accept paypal payments this is a great PayPal Fee Calculator. There's also one for Etsy but I've yet to find one for Google Checkout so you still have to do that math yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Thoughts on Business Cards

If you read my site review of Zazzle you know how happy I am with my new business cards. Why have a business card though? My business is online you say, I do lots of marketing online. That's true but I don't want to limit myself to just marketing online. For example I often wear my jewelry designs when I go out and if someone compliments them I want to be able to hand them a card. So what do I need in a business card? Contact information of course, it needs to communicate what I do well, and it needs to be memorable.

So lets break down my card:

Business Name - Not surprisingly I put Noadi's Art in the biggest font size on this card. I used the same font for this as I do on my website for the title, partly because I love the font and also to have consistency in my designs. I also picked a gray-blue color instead of black to soften the look a little and pick up on the background of the photo.
Description - I wanted to keep the description simple and too the point so I listed what I sell with the cuttlefish jewelry first because it's my most popular item but also kind of funny. I used the italic version of the font I used for the contact information.
Contact information - Since I sell primarily online I listed my web address and email prominently under my name and put my address and phone number at the bottom.
Image - I wanted to pick a photo that was beautiful and illustrated my work well. I didn't take the cup full of cuttlefish photo specifically for the card but it really turned out to be the most perfect for that spot.
Back of card - This photo I did take specifically for the card, I wanted to show a wide variety of things that I make and my sorceress sculpture made a nice centerpiece for it.

Here's the business card template I used. I loaded it into the GIMP (a free open source image editor) as the background layer and built everything on top of it to make sure the positioning worked well and then hid it with a solid white layer. I kept the original file with all the layers in case the next time I have cards printed I need to change anything, then I exported it as a .jpg at the highest quality setting so it would be nice and crisp then uploaded to zazzle to make my card.

Links to articles on designing cards:
Business Card Design in Photoshop Video Series
10 Step Guide to Designing Awesome Business Cards
Leave a Creative Calling Card
10 Steps to a Stupendous Business Card

Here are a few ideas for using your business cards:
  • Include you business card in all orders
  • Fill a basket or card holder for people to take one at art/craft shows
  • Post them up on public bulletin boards and other places that let you leave your card (or a small stack of them)
  • Include your card with everything you mail out. I've even heard of people including them with their bills!
  • Get your friends and family involved, have them post your card where they work or have a few to hand out. My mom is a teacher and since my jewelry often appeals to science teachers she has some cards to hand out at conferences.
  • To sum it up, don't be stingy! Hand out your cards all the time, if someone asks for extras give them extras. You want as many people as possible to know about your business.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Creative Packaging Ideas - The Basics

This will be an ongoing series because I really think having great packaging helps a handmade business stand out and be memorable to your customers (you want repeat business right?).

This post is on the basics of what I think is important for good packaging. Make sure you check out my Squidoo lens Make your Handmade Products Stand Out! Using Creative Packaging for even more ideas.

The photo to the right shows some of the packaging that I use. It's a mix of fabric gift bags and boxes but you can see that they have a consistent look to them. There are many ways to package your products depending on what you are selling. Small bags and boxes work well for small items like jewelry, paper strips wrapped around handmade soaps with a label are simple but look great, if your products come in a jar or bottle have custom label stickers printed up for them, custom tags for fabric items, the possibilities are endless. Wander around your favorite store looking at how products are packaged or check out the Die Line blog for ideas.

General Tips
  • Include photos of your packaging in your shop, let your customer know how their items will arrive.
  • Plan your packaging ahead of time and keep all your packaging materials organized in one place (I just use a large box).
  • Keep things looking consistent, I don't mean everything has to be the same, but the style and theme of your packaging should all have a similar feel.
  • Make the product and packaging match. If it's retro styled give the packaging a retro look. If it's Victorian don't put it in a tied-dyed box.
  • Make it professional. Make sure glued items don't have edges sticking up, corners aren't ripped off tags, all text is correct and spell checked.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Site Review: Zazzle

For my first site review here on Handmade Biz I'm going to cover a site that doesn't let you sell handmade products directly but has some very useful services for your business. is a print on demand site that also lets you sell your designs through them and make money. This is especially useful for those working in 2D media like pencil, paint, or digital art in that you can offer your artwork for sale on a wide variety of products at no direct cost to you. It's a fun additional way to promote your art work.

Zazzle offers a really wide and unique variety of products to put your designs on from clothing to bag to cards to skateboards. They even offer embroidered designs though those require an upfront artwork processing fee. When you sign up you get your own customizable storefront, you can take a look at Noadi's Art on Zazzle to see my store as an example. The way you make money on Zazzle is when you create products with your designs you can add them to the marketplace (which will put it on your store along with in Zazzle's search) and put a percentage markup over the base price on each product, if someone buys one you get that percentage. When you make products to buy yourself you pay the base price.

What makes Zazzle really useful for a handmade business is their paper printing options, they offer business cards, postcards, greeting cards, stickers, and postage. All of these can be used to create your own promotional products which is exactly what I used Zazzle for this week. You could also make custom t-shirts to promote your business and wear them to craft shows.

I was running out of my home printed business cards and decided that I really wanted some that looked more professional so I looked around at different online printing services and not surprisingly there is a huge range of prices available depending on quality of the cards and whether you want color and two-sided printing. I wanted full color with two sides and Zazzle's prices were pretty good and I already had an account with them so I decided to give them a try.

First I had to design my cards. Zazzle has pre-made templates already that make designing a card really easy or you can upload your own images and then you can add whatever text you want. I wanted a little more control over my design than that so I downloaded a business card template and used my own photos and the Gimp photo editor to design my card. I then uploaded my images and deleted all the text boxes that Zazzle puts in automatically for business cards.

I went through the order process, Zazzle was having a half-off promotion for business cards so I only paid $25 for 300 cards which was the lowest price I found for 2-sided full color printing, even the full price of $50 for 300 was in the middle of the price range I found. You can find much cheaper business card printing but those usually restrict your design choices and/or put their logo on your cards.

I was given a delivery estimate of 6-10 days after printing. Printing apparently doesn't take very long because they shipped the next day and I received them in only 4 days which is impressive considering I'm on the other side of the country from Zazzle's headquarters.

So my opinion of the cards? They are gorgeous, the cards are a nice weight of cardstock, a satin finish (just a little more glossy than matte), colors are bright and the images are very crisp not grainy. Overall I'm very impressed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photographing Your Work Part II

This part of the series we're going to talk about setting up the display for your jewelry before you photograph it.


You don't want to be taking your photos against a background that makes your work look terrible so a good backdrop is important. They're also very simple to create. The best backdrops are either fabric or paper because they are the easiest to handle and find. The best backdrops are simple, a solid color or subtle pattern/texture is best to not distract from the object being photographed. Colors shouldn't clash with the object being photographed either, I recommend neutral or soft colors because you can use them with the widest variety of colored objects so you won't need multiple backdrops.


You can of course just photograph your work against the backdrop and I do that often but props can really help show off your items well. Here are some options you can try:
  • Display stands. Most jewelry supply stores sell display stands for necklaces, bracelets, etc.
  • Dishes. I use a pretty wine glass to hang earrings from in my photos, you can also use bowls, jars, etc.
  • Books. A stack of nice hardcover books or an open page can make an interesting display.
  • Branches, driftwood, etc. Hang ornaments from a branch, drape a necklace over a piece of driftwood, there are plenty of interesting ways to use these natural items.
  • Rocks. A pile of river pebbles or a large smooth rock would contrast well with metalwork jewelry.
  • Dressforms and Mannequins. If you create clothing you can either get a model or use a stand-in. In particular many people are squeamish about buying hats that have been modeled on a real person.
  • Fabric. Tulle netting can be used to hang earrings from, you can run a piece of fabric through a ring or bracelet, it can provide a splash of color to a neutral backdrop.
This is just a small list of props you could use, just look around your home and see what you have that would set off your creations well.

The next part of this series will talk about composing your shots.

Photographing Your Work Part I

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Kick Off Report

So I don't typically do sales and that sort of promotion (my promotion focus is on getting the word out) so this weekend was an experiment. Here's what I did:

Free tentacle charms for certain orders - Cost negligible.
Free shipping - Average shipping cost for me is $5.40.
Advertising - I use Project Wonderful to run ads, my usual ad budget is $5 a week. I ran a campaign costing an extra $10 from Thursday until Monday.
Blogging, Twitter, Social Media - Using my blogs and social media accounts to promote my sale. Only cost was time.
Paypal and Etsy fees - $.20+3.5% for Etsy and $.30+1.9%-2.9% for Paypal.
Sales - Sold 2 necklaces and an ornament.
Total sales: $95.00
Total costs: $33.79
Profit: $61.21
By comparison last weekend when I wasn't running a sale I actually made a few more sales (including some higher priced items so my profit was much higher) so while my sample size is quite small I'd say that Black Friday/Cyber Monday did not seem to have much of an effect on my sales. Maybe it was the fault of my promotion not being effective enough or the economic uncertainty but at least from my experience it seemed to not be worth the extra costs. Especially the free shipping because that was a big loss on each order, maybe a more aggressive ad campaign would have been more effective but I need to do more experimenting with ads first.

So what was your experience like this weekend? Did you have increased sales? What sort of things did you do to promote your sales?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...