Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekly Linky Party - Through 8/31

Each Sunday, we will start a linky party on our blog - add your latest blog post or a new item in your shop and check out what others are adding as well! This is a great way to promote what you're working on and to learn what others are working on. Every once in a while, we'll have a theme - pay attention to the themes! We'll give you advanced notice when a themed linky will be going up so you can prepare for it.

Questions? Leave us a comment!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Instagram for Business Use

Instagram is yet another social media place where people go to upload photos and collages instead of status updates. These posts are then seen by people and "Hearted", and can take people to your business page.

How many of you knew you could use Instagram (IG) for business use as well? I know I barely found out a few months ago. Well. How many of you knew, you can use hashtags on Facebook to link people to help find your IG? That is also a new feature.

Instagram:
http://instagram.com/

How it works:
1) Get an Instagram Account (Mine is Crystals7Creations)
(Should use your business name so everything is consistent. Leave your privacy unlocked so people can find your work, if not, it won't be very helpful!

2)Upload , edit,and  frame your pictures. If that is what you choose after you finish exploring the features , that is.

3)Watermark them with the features available . 

4)Add a description of the product(s) you are uploading.
(Etc, Zipper Flower Hair Clip)

5) Add Hashtags so people can find you , much like Pinterest. 
(Ex. #Crystals7Creations #EtsyMom #Zipperflowerclip.)

By setting up an account, either on your phone, tablet, ipad, or computer you are essentially giving your business free advertisement. What could be better than that??! Don't be afraid to play around with it at first, and learn on the features Instagram offers.

Using Instagram with Facebook:
1) Upload your pics as usual, and after you enter a description, enter some hashtags, which will be clickable to viewers after , and take them to your IG. 

2) On Status updates use any of your hashtags to help take people to your Ig, and get more followers, customers, and people seeing your work!

Since starting up my own business IG, and using it, I have had many people see my work, more than just who lives in my state and city. It is much like Pinterest, where you find awesome ideas and directions, however, Ig is only pictures and hashtags, #.

One you set yours up, link it to Etsy Mom so we can all follow one another!! I can't wait to see how it works for you!

Crystal

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekly Linky Party - Through 8/25

Each Sunday, we will start a linky party on our blog - add your latest blog post or a new item in your shop and check out what others are adding as well! This is a great way to promote what you're working on and to learn what others are working on. Every once in a while, we'll have a theme - pay attention to the themes! We'll give you advanced notice when a themed linky will be going up so you can prepare for it.

Questions? Leave us a comment!



Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Write a Creative Business Plan In Under an Hour


Most people view writing a business plan as an arduous process or a necessary evil. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be difficult, and not only is it possible to write your plan in under an hour, it can also be a fun process. Seriously. After all, you’re thinking about and documenting your strategies for selling your products out in the world — this should be an enjoyable experience. There’s no reason your plan can’t be as creative as you are.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan doesn’t need to be a 75-page document that you write, print, and place proudly on a shelf in your office. Those days are long gone — thankfully. A business plan can be done on one page, and should merely have brief descriptions for each of the following 10 categories. Channel Twitter in that each section should not contain more than 140 characters:
  1. A one-sentence description about your business. (Value Proposition)
  2. The “problem” your product is responding to by being in the market. (Market Need)
  3. A description of your products (photos are always appreciated). (Your Solution)
  4. Who else in the market is doing similar things and why your products are better? (Competition)
  5. Who buys your products (or will buy your products)? (Target Market)
  6. How much does it cost you to produce one of your products? How much do your products cost, how many of them will you sell this year, and how will I make a profit? (Financials: Budgeting & Forecasting)
  7. How do (or will) you market your products? (Sales Channels & Marketing Activities)
  8. What are your business achievements? What are you working toward? (Milestones)
  9. Who are you, and why are you the right person to lead your venture? (Management Team)
  10. Optional: How much money you need to launch or grow your business, and what specifically will you use the funds for in your business? (Funding Needs & Use of Funds)
 

Pitch First, Plan Second

As you’re thinking about filling in these planning areas, don’t think of the experience as “I’m writing my business plan.” A better philosophy is to think, “I’m pitching my business.” The “pitch first, plan second” philosophy is a best practice in business anyway, and a “business pitch” conjures a much better image in one’s mind than a “business plan” does.

An Example Business Pitch Built in Under an Hour

One of my fantasy businesses is to create and sell vintage-inspired hats — and maybe one day I’ll actually get around to doing this. For now, I wanted to share a sample one-page pitch for a fictitious Etsy store called Haley’s Vintage Hats and show how you too can easily create a one-page business plan (or pitch, if you will).


LivePlan Pitch Page thumbnail
Click image to enlarge.

Let’s Break It Down (in under 140 characters)

To stick with the spirit of Twitter, here are descriptions of what’s needed in each section of your plan/pitch in under 140 characters.

Value Proposition: Think about what you would tweet if you had less than 140 characters to describe the gist of your business. This forces you to hone in on what you do and what’s special about it.

Market Need: No market need = no need to market your product. If you’re not sure, ask your customers/potential customers why they like your products. You’ll get your answer.

Your Solution: Describe your product and why it’s so great. Think what you’d say if someone asked you “what do you sell?”

Target Market: Be specific about who buys your products (ex: gender, geography, age, shopping habits, etc). Segment your markets if you plan on reaching them differently. Learn more in How to Find Your Target Market by full-time Etsy seller Brenda Lavell.

Competition: Think about who your customers will buy from (or do buy from) if your products didn’t exist. Knowing your competition is as important as knowing your customers. Learn more in 5 Tips to Stand Out From Competition.

Funding Needs: You may need some funds (even if it’s just $1–3,000 to purchase materials). Be sure you understand how those funds will help you, and when you can pay off the debt.

Sales Channels: This is where you will sell your items. Example: Your Etsy shop is a sales channel. Perhaps you also sell at a local boutique or craft fair, and your goal is to land several wholesale accounts. It’s good to have multiple channels.

Marketing Activities: How you will market your products. Examples: Etsy Search Ads or advertising on a design blog. You may need different activities for each market segment.

Financial Projections: How much does it cost you to make/market your products? How much do you plan to sell in a given time period? These questions will help you develop your financials.

Milestones: What have you accomplished so far, and what other milestones are you shooting for? This will help you stay on track. Examples: Buy supplies, hire a bookkeeper, create a pitch, etc.

Management Team: Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself and your team if you have one. Share why you’re the right person to be leading your venture. Also note the roles that are missing on your team.

Ready to craft your own creative business plan? LivePlan is offering Etsy sellers special pricing to build your creative one-page business pitch/plan. Get started for less than $10. Good luck — and remember to have fun planning!

How do you feel about creating a business plan for your creative business? Share your thoughts and questions in comments below.


Caroline Cummings is a technology entrepreneur and has a passion for anything vintage — especially vintage fashion. She has raised close to $1M from angel investors for her two startups, and she enjoys mentoring other women entrepreneurs. Caroline is currently the VP of Business Development for Palo Alto Software, makers of LivePlan.com, the #1 online business pitching, planning, and financial tracking software.  [originally posted on the etsy blog]

Monday, August 12, 2013

How Do You Define Success? Week 4

4. When I’m Successful, I’ll Feel…

Write down five important ways you want to feel as a successful person. Maybe you want to feel supported, creative, powerful, innovative, on the cutting edge, calm, joyful  there’s no right or wrong here. Only you can know how you ultimately want to feel in your life.
Next, for each feeling, think of five ways that you can start creating more of it in your life and your creative business right now. Consider what would change if you used those feelings as guideposts in your decision-making and strategizing. Doing more things that make you feel the way you want to feel will lead to more success.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekly Linky Party - Through 8/17

Each Sunday, we will start a linky party on our blog - add your latest blog post or a new item in your shop and check out what others are adding as well! This is a great way to promote what you're working on and to learn what others are working on. Every once in a while, we'll have a theme - pay attention to the themes! We'll give you advanced notice when a themed linky will be going up so you can prepare for it.

Questions? Leave us a comment!



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blog Series: How Do You Define Success? Week 3


3. Assess Your Current Beliefs About Success. Question Everything.


Take five minutes to quickly write down all your beliefs about success. Don’t think about it too much  just get your initial thought on the page as fast as you can. Look over the list. Really think about each belief you wrote down. Is it something you truly believe? Is it something you picked up from childhood? Are there beliefs that need updating?

Cross out all the beliefs you disagree with.

Make a list of new beliefs about success. Take a new mental snapshot of what success looks like to you. If it’s helpful, start with this phrase: “I am willing to believe that success is…” Sometimes this phrase is helpful because it can give you some space to move into the belief and try it out. Read this phrase every day, to remind yourself of your new belief.
(How Do You Define Success? Etsy blog)