Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Upcoming Plans for the Handmade Business Blog

I've been rethinking some things about this blog and how sporadic my posting tends to be. Since I don't think that's the best way to run a blog I'm instituting a schedule for posting. Hopefully I'll be able to stick to it.
  • Monday - Link roundup or Quick Tip
  • Wednesday - In depth article, book review, etc.
  • Friday - Weekly Inspiration. This is a new idea I had to highlight a cool bit of packaging, business card, shop design, etc.

If you run across something cool you'd like the blog to feature please drop me an email at NoadiArt@gmail.com please include your name and shop link so I can credit you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Etsy Assistance

I just joined the Sellers Assisting Sellers Etsy Team. This is a great resource for Etsy sellers, members are all willing to help out other sellers during SAS Critique chats in the Virtual Labs or directly answer questions via convo. Check out the blog which is packed full of good information.

Remember my post on earring cards? Well I took the template file I had and designed a bunch of new ones that you can customize on Zazzle along with adding some ideas for using them on this Squidoo lens: Get Customized Earring Cards on Zazzle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Skepticism and Business

Generally I write about positive things you can do for your business but today I want to talk about things to avoid doing. There are always people out there willing to scam you (just look at the spam in your email account) and a recession really brings them out of the woodwork because people are desperate. To be honest here I am involved in the skeptical movement (though not as actively as I would like to be) so this is a subject I have a lot of personal interest in.

There's a lot of sketchy information and advice out there on business. You need to look at things with a skeptical viewpoint before jumping in. What does this mean? What it means is that just because someone says they are an expert you shouldn't automatically believe everything they say, you need to critically evaluate ideas before you put them into practice and if they don't work for you after a reasonable amount of time stop doing it. That goes for this blog as well, I'm simply sharing my thoughts on running a business and what has worked for me. Not every piece of advice I give out will work for everyone.

Some Basic Skeptical Tools

Skepticism isn't about being closed minded or rejecting things out of hand. It's a tool for finding the truth and to help protect yourself (and in this case your business) from being deceived. It involves thinking critically about claims you are presented with, requiring evidence, and spotting common arguments that obscur the truth. A good primer on skepticism in this great video by Brian Dunning called Here Be Dragons

Skeptical Links

Some Advice to Be Skeptical Of

This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few example of how unscrupulous people will try to play on your hopes to get money from you. A comprehensive list could (and does) make up many books.

Easy Money: Remember the old saying "if it sounds to good to be true it probably is"? Get thousands of sales in 30 days guaranteed without really trying! Just pay me X amount of money to get the secret! I don't think so, the only one possibly making all those sales is the person trying to sell you their plan. Running a business is work, anyone saying otherwise is either deluding themselves or trying to scam you.

Home Business Offers: It's tempting when you already have a business from home to add an extra source of income. There are some legitimate ways to make money working from home such as article writing, putting affiliate product links on a site or blog where you get a commission if someone clicks it and then buys something, and some others. However there are a mountain of scams, some big red flags are if they charge you money to get started or worse won't give you the full information on the offer until you fork over money. More information from the Federal Trade Commissions here and here.

Grant Money: The government really does give away a good bit of money in the form of grants and you may be eligible to apply for some. However you don't need to buy any book, software, subscription, etc. to find out where to get grants. The US government very kindly offers a website where you can get all the information for free at Grants.gov

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Link Roundup

Time once again for me to share useful links I've come across.

Internal Tracking with Etsy Stats This article shows how to set up Google Analytics to track internal Etsy traffic. This will give you more information about Etsy Searches, and whether someone found you from the front page, Storque, showcases, etc. Make sure you follow the link to the video, it's worth watching for more info.

The rest of the blog also has a lot of good information on stats tracking.

Tech Update: Checkout Updates Details on the changes to Etsy's Checkout system.

Handmadeology: Handmade Directory A new directory for handmade shops, blogs, and twitter profiles.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Accepting Help

In the words of Douglas Adams "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space." The same could be said for life and knowledge. We don't know everything, our brains just aren't big enough and we don't live long enough to find out all there is.

Okay that's enough philosophy for today, what I'm getting at is that sometimes we need help. It can be frustrating to have friend or family say "I think you should do this" or "Maybe you could try that" about your business when the ideas aren't very helpful. However rejecting all help and advice because you think you know best is a dangerous thing to do.

There's nothing wrong with admitting you need some help. Of course you should find someone to help you who is more knowledgeable than you about your problem, a good place to look is your local Small Business Administration or Chamber of Commerce. Talk with other business people and bounce ideas off each other, not all of them will be good ideas but it often helps to have someone take a look at things with fresh eyes.

If something isn't working try to figure out why, if you can't you should ask someone else to take a look. Several times on forums I've seen fairly new online sellers complaining about not making sales, when told they need to work to bring in buyers and given suggestions on how to do so they get offended that someone would dare tell them how to run their business. These people are setting themselves up for failure. If you are going to succeed in your business you need to learn all you can.

Now this article is going to seem a little funny compared to my next article. Not all business advice is good advice, you need to evaluate all ideas critically and that's what I'll be writing about.

Some good links
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