Category Archives: Business Growth

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THAT I DO NOT USE AND LOVE MYSELF. READ MORE ABOUT THIS IN OUR DISCLOSURE POLICY.

This is a question I see pop up A LOT. We all want to start our business out on the right foot. We want to know that we know what we know… before we ever take that leap. While I can’t exactly answer what is the perfect direction for your business, I will absolutely share what I have learned and what has worked for mine.

I know people switched to groups because of how Facebook algorithms made it harder for your page posts to be seen, but while that is a factor to consider… the same is still happening with groups as well. If people do not interact with your group, they will not see your posts. So once again you’re hitting that “I’m invisible again” wall.

I know your whole goal is to be seen. I think that is a lot of crafters’ goals. But I think another goal is to be seen without having to spend loads of valuable supply shopping money!

So what works the best? Here’s my take on it. Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s just like any professionally confused person would do.

Pros: Facebook Page

  1. Public. Meaning anyone can see your posts even if they don’t “like” your page. If they’re searching around and stumble on your page, they’re much more likely to be ready to browse. If they have to push “join” and then wait for approval. They may move on before they’re accepted.
  2. Sharable. I can’t tell you how many times I want to share posts that are in groups and I can’t! We know the phrase “sharing is caring,” right? A share by a fan will go a super long way for your exposure. Do we want to beg for shares? No. But if you put out good content that your audience WANTS to share, we want to make it as easy as possible to do so.
  3. Found On Google. If someone is going to google searching for a “red ruffle raglan for toddlers” and that happens to be something your business sells, you have a good chance in showing up in those search results. Obviously other SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play here. But since pages show up on Google, that’s a huge plus for the page vote.

Pros: Facebook Group

  1. Control. Since you manually have to “accept” each request, you have full control over the people in your group. Don’t want competitors seeing your stuff? Don’t let them in. Now you CAN ban people from your Facebook Page… but they have to “like” your page first. If they don’t ever push that “like” button, then they can just keep trolling along and you can’t do anything about it. So if you want control over who sees your posts, then a group is a great option.
  2. Community. Groups make it easier for people to post and ask questions. This builds a community that is AMAZING for your business growth. When you look at the “selling” aspect of your small business, people don’t like to buy from businesses. They like to buy from people. Building relationships, showing your personality and ability to connect, is very important in small business. If people don’t/can’t connect with you. They will move on to the person they feel they can.
  3. Comfort. Some people are very careful of what things they post on. I am one of those people. With closed groups, the public can’t see posts or members, but things like the member list is available for every joined member to review. This comes into play if your customers may have customers or competitors of their own in your group. Original Olivia may not want to comment on things if she can see that Copycat Carla is also in your group. But if Olivia can easily check the member list to make sure Carla’s not around, she may feel more comfortable to declare “I WANT 8 OF THESE!!” on your posts. If you sell finished items, you may also see that people want to feel comfortable in the fact that family members can’t see what gifts they’re getting for Christmas, etc. Or ya know, that their husbands can’t see what they’re googly eyeing in your shop.

 

Cons: Facebook Page

  1. Visibility. This is the scary one that turned people away from pages to begin with. It is a little harder to be seen on Facebook pages because the way Facebook looks at it, you’re a business and businesses need to pay for advertising. There definitely are ways to be seen without paying for exposure, such as content that your audience reacts to in the form of a like, comment or share (without begging them to, of course.) Videos & Facebook Live are the #1 way to get your posts seen the most. Too many salesy type ads and your customers will just move on. You must get them engaged without looking needy. Build that relationship with them with great content and they’ll give you the responses you’re looking for.
  2. Consistency. Consistency is another key with Facebook pages. If you aren’t posting regularly, and I mean daily (if not multiple times a day,) you’ll get swallowed back up in the irrelevant category again and it’ll be harder for people to see your posts. But if you’re posting consistent and relevant posts, you can overcome this con with no problem.
  3. Algorithm Changes. This is one that will always be a con and there is no sugar-coating or overcoming it. Facebook is constantly revising and updating algorithm changes to make things more efficient. Sometimes what works for you one day, will not work the next. However, this isn’t something to be mad about, it’s just something we have to accept and know that when something changes, we may have to spend some time in the library learning how we need to evolve along with it.

Cons: Facebook Group

  1. Not Public. We mentioned this before but one thing to think about is the fact that not only are your posts non-sharable, but your chance of going viral on a post goes down to nil. You also have to do triple the work when you have a new item for sale because not only do you have to post in your group, but you have to go post in all the other relevant groups or on your personal page. When you have a new product with a page, it’s much easier to target a marketing ad to hit an area of your market that may not have seen your page before.
  2. Notifications. Ever see the dreaded “f” on Facebook comments on a page? They put the “f” because they want updates on the post. (PSA, some phones have the ability to click the top right arrow on the post and choose “turn on notifications” and it’ll keep you updated when someone posts.) But these types of notifications can be a huge turn off for a lot of people. Say someone just wanted to say, “this is pretty” now, every time someone else posts, they’ll get a pop-up in their notifications that someone else has commented on that post unless they turn off notifications. This can steer people away from commenting because they don’t want their feed clogged with updates. It’s a quick fix, I know. But it can still lead to people unfollowing your group completely because they don’t like the unnecessary updates when they didn’t really want to be a part of the conversation.
  3. Time Consuming. I say time consuming because it IS more of a community rather than a business platform. Since people can post directly to your page, there are more questions and comments that you need to be ready to answer. For me personally, this has been hard as my group has grown. So take into account if you have the time to devote to one-on-one conversations as well as running the ins and outs of your business.

In Summary:

I do not think a Facebook Group is BAD. In fact, I think it is very good and I know my business wouldn’t be where it is without it. But I would never say to JUST have a Group. I believe that with only a group, you are drastically limiting your reach.

The first year of my business, I only focused on my group and I grew it to just over 3,500 people. My page had only 1,000 or so. By the end of year two, the group had grown to 11,000 and the page to 7,000, Now, this year, my third year, my group is at 25,000 but my page is over 45,000! The page definitely stayed smaller for quite some time, but once I became regular about posting and giving content people WANT to engage in and share… it started to explode.

Don’t limit yourself and your potential. Constantly look for ways to grow. If you started with a group, it’s not too late to start a page and get that growing. You may find that you post less on the group, or post to the page and share it with the group. Or you may find that you end up writing different posts for each and sharing posts from the page here and there. There’s no right or wrong way.

CraftMama University opens back up this Fall and we go over creating Facebook Ads and targeting your market. Sign-up here if you want to be notified for when the doors open up!

We’re all in this small business thing together. My goal is to help you grow so that you can accomplish your goals. Whether those goals are being home with the kids, or just creating an extra income for your family. I know how it feels to want to succeed, and I’m so glad I can share my experience with you.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THAT I DO NOT USE AND LOVE MYSELF. READ MORE ABOUT THIS IN OUR DISCLOSURE POLICY.

Okay so you may or may not have seen that as of 9/19/17, PicMonkey no longer has a “free” option. I know that this may totally throw a wrench in your product photography editing. So I wanted to suggest a few other options for you to explore!

Before I move away from PicMonkey, though. I do want to say that it is a FABULOUS site! So that is why I’m starting with it as the first of the six sites we’re going to look at today!

1. PicMonkey has been the go to for many crafters. It has great features and it’s super easy to use. They did do away with their free option but you can click here to get a Free 7-Day Trial to see if it works for you before purchasing. Pricing is $3.99/mo when paid in full for the year, so $47.88 for 12 months,  and $7.99 if you pay monthly. In the grand scheme of things, if you use and love PicMonkey, you have to weigh the pros and cons of sticking with something you know and love, or going through learning a new product/software. At the end of the day, it’s a write off for your business and if it keeps you moving at a better speed… you may think about sticking with it. It’s super powerful and arguably the closest equivalent to Adobe Photoshop in terms of “final result” of your images, but with a much simpler user interface.

2. Adobe Photoshop. Speaking of Photoshop. This is the top of the line with photo editing. There is a steep learning curve, but the possibilities are endless! If you purchase through the website you can do month to month for $9.99/mo. That may not be in the budget for everyone, which I understand. Photoshop is very powerful. But if you don’t have time to learn it, take that into consideration because there is a learning curve… but it’s worth it!

3. Pixlr Editor is a free cloud based editor similar to PicMonkey with a little bit of a different feel. It is pretty powerful but does also have a little bit of a learning curve with it. One cool thing about it is that it has a mobile app as well if you were use to PicMonkeys mobile experience. If you use BigCommerce as your webhost, then this is the built in editor they use! So you may already be familiar with it! If you’re looking for a new photo editor as well as a website host. I do love BigCommerce! And if you click here, you can get a 2-week trial for free!

4.Fotor has free and paid options. Their paid options are similar to PicMonkey but their monthly is more expensive at $8.99/mo and their yearly being a little cheaper at $39.99/yr ($3.33/mo.)  Their free option has the same feel as Pixlr’s cloud interface. If you’re looking for collages, you can easily do them with Fotor! They also have a lot of design templates if you’re looking for blog or social media branding.

5. Canva. Canva isn’t so much for photo editing as the others, but it is a great thing to mention nevertheless! It’s database is growing exponentially! You can do so so so many things with Canva, easily! You can create social media text images, or Facebook page banners, or even brochures and greeting cards. There are many different options and layouts. It is just super, super simple to use. There are many free items, but some do require a small payment of $1 or so for the “nicer” things. But they’re free library is great! It’s super easy to look like a pro with Canva! You can even upload your own images if you have images, logos, or backgrounds you want to use. Again, it doesn’t have the same photo editing options as the others, but it is a fun thing to play with!

6. Befunky is new to me and I haven’t played with it too much yet. But many people use and love it! They also have free and paid options but they are lower than PicMonkey. Monthly being $4.95 and yearly paid in full being $34.92 ($2.91/mo). Like I said, I haven’t played with this one much… but it seems… funky! If you try it out, let me know if you like it!

 

 

 

I hope this is helpful to some of you. I know there are other sites out there so if you use one that you absolutely love, feel free to share it in the comments!

What it all comes down to, is that you have to be efficient when you own your own business. If you were using PicMonkey and loved it, I suggest to just bite the bullet and pay the yearly amount and just keep on going. No reason to stop everything to learn another program. If you are looking for a heavy duty photo editor, and have time to learn it, no doubt go with Photoshop.

Most of the time, your pictures are the ONLY thing your customers see before having the item in their hand. That means your pictures are WORTH investing in. <3

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read more about this in our Disclosure Policy.

If you're wondering if Etsy is a smart move for your craft business, I do believe it is! But I believe that Etsy has a place in your business and it is NOT to be the only thing you do! Here are my reasons why.

The HoopMama Facebook group has had a lot of talk about Etsy and their fun little trademark bullies lately. So I just wanted to explain what I think Etsy’s roll should be in your business. Some people avoid Etsy like the plague, which I completely understand. It is frustrating when you’re running your business the right way and then someone comes along crying and yelling that you’re infringing on their trademark that they just APPLIED for yesterday. Trust me, I’ve been there, too. With rolling eyes and gritted teeth, I’ve been there.

Etsy is a platform that is owned by someone much larger than us. Therefore, they get to call the shots. Period. Their house, their rules. One of their rules is that they do not mediate trademark allegations. That means any Betsy on Etsy can cry trademark wolf, and get your listing taken down. Etsy does this because they are not lawyers and if they said they would mediate, then they would legally be responsible for their actions. So they take a hands-off approach and sadly, trademark bullies end up running the show sometimes. But again, their house, their rules.There isn’t much we can do to change that.

However, their house…. is a big one….. and it gets LOTS of visitors. Visitors that you wouldn’t ever get on your own. For that reason, I think Etsy can have a good place in your business if you are not relying on it completely as your entire income.

But before we dive in, I want to say this before I say anything else…. YOU NEED A WEBSITE! Not just a Facebook page. If you want to grow a brand and appear as a professional… you need a website. Whether it’s an entirely free one from Weebly, a $30 plan from Shopify or BigCommerce, or a self-hosted site through WordPress, you NEED a website! (I said it three times, which means I mean it!)

I personally have BigCommerce currently for my HoopMama website, and WordPress with Bluehost hosting for CraftMama. HoopMama will be moving over to WordPress as soon as I have time to devote to it because the freedom of it can’t be beat. But there is A LOT to learn. And there’s ZERO support like you have on the other platforms. I mean, if you’re a YouTube ninja you can definitely work your way around your site. But if it breaks… good luck, Chuck! You have to figure it out or hire someone. Over time you do learn what breaks your site and you do get comfortable with it, but there isn’t a “help” button to push. So if you want to do it this way, just know that it is very hands on! But with hands-on…. it means you learn SO much in the process!!

You can get a FREE 2 week trial for Shopify or BigCommerce if you use my links! If you’re thinking of going the WordPress route, if you use my link for BlueHost, you can get your hosting at $3.95 a month instead of the normal $7.99!

But back to Etsy and Trademark trolls.

Here are 3 reasons you SHOULD be on Etsy.

  1. Shoppers! As mentioned before. Etsy has a large audience that you will most likely never reach on your own. Etsy has over 25 million active shoppers! People know Etsy. They are comfortable buying from Etsy. They go to Etsy probably before pulling out their list of small websites. Since Etsy is a marketplace, shoppers know they can look at LOTS of items on one site and not have to go to a million websites.
  2. Competitors. Wait… what? Yep! I’m saying you SHOULD be around your competitors! If your competitors are on Etsy, then they will get 100% of the sales from Etsy-only shoppers. YES, you want to draw your customers to be loyal ones, but that is why once you get your customer through Etsy, you entice them to sign up on your newsletter through inserts in their packaging, and then draw them to your website! OR entice them before they ever make a purchase! For example, my SVG shop on Etsy’s banner looks like this:Then in the shop announcements, I have the link to my Mailchimp newsletter. Mailchimp is completely FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers! I have a blog post about why you need a newsletter that I will be adding onto shortly about how to build your list. But if you have an Etsy shop, having an offer like this in your banner is one great way to help!
  3. Get Experience.. and Some Tough Skin. Etsy shoppers are ruthless sometimes. They are brutally honest and live in a Amazon Prime “get it to me in 2-days” world. Don’t get me wrong I LOVVVVE my Amazon Prime, I did the 30 day trial a few years ago and I now use it for everything. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, click here and you can get a 30 day FREE trial, too! But as handmade shops, we just simply AREN’T able to pump out items AND have them delivered in 2 days. I mean, I don’t know about you but my magical delivery fairy is out partying with my cleaning fairy and it just isn’t going to happen. But since these customers are so honest, they will provide a LOT of valuable feedback that you can consider and then make adjustments to your business. Some things may be a little hard to hear, but I read a the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz many years ago and I the one agreement that has always stuck with me was “don’t take anything personally.” Learning to do that, has really helped me so much in my business. Etsy shoppers will challenge you, but will make you stronger.

Here are 3 reason why Etsy should NOT be your focus.

  1. Fees. Etsy has a lot of fees. They have 20 cents per listing, plus 3.5% of the total sale. Not to mention the other fees like PayPal fees and direct checkout fees. HOWEVER, you will have PayPal and credit card fees regardless of where you go. So it’s really just the additional .20 per listing and 3.5% of total sale that is the big difference. That is actually a small price to pay for the reach that Etsy provides. On a $20 item, your Etsy fees will be $.90 cents. Not too bad when you consider that the sale may have come from an Etsy-only shopper that you may not have been able to reach on your own. But when you start building your e-mail lists, and start growing your brand, those fees really add up fast! So you don’t want your customers to STAY shopping on Etsy! You want to get them… and then move them over to your website for future purchases!
  2. Not Yours. This one is the scariest one to me. It’s not mine. If Etsy goes under, or if they decide to close me down… I have no say in the matter. It’s completely theirs. Which is one reason why if you do have an Etsy account, you should be backing up your data every so often. You can do this by going to: Your Shop – Shop Settings – Options – Download Data. Then downloading your current items for sale as well as your orders. This way, if your shop does get closed or suspended, you can still have access to all your item descriptions and details. You items SHOULD already be on your website *ahem* but in case you don’t have that fully operational yet, it’s helpful to have all of this information just in case you need to reference it in the future.
  3. Trademark Tolls. Sigh. I know many of you just rolled your eyes. I have nothing bad to say about people who go through the steps to trademark something the right way. It’s the people who put in an application on Monday and come out guns-a-blazing on Tuesday! It takes 3 months to be reviewed by an attorney, and that’s just to be reviewed! No promise of if it actually is going to go through or not. Many of these bullies are known for trying to enforce things that they don’t really have full rights to at all, which can be very frustrating and confusing to those of us who are trying to play our cards right. It is very important to understand your legal rights. As a mompreneur, sometimes it is hard finding the correct information and resources but thank goodness there are people like Joey Vitale in the world! He is an attorney for creatives and he is focused on businesses like us! His firm, Indie Creative Law, has a WEALTH of information listed on the website. His blog is full of trademark and copyright guidance that will leave you feeling empowered. He is truly an answer to the “small-business” world!

In Summary:

I personally believe that Etsy does have it’s place. But I also believe that you will and SHOULD grow out of Etsy. You should one day get to a point where you say “I don’t need it.” Which is where I got to last year with HoopMama. It’s such an awesome feeling to own your own website and not fear a huge company shutting you down for a reason that you’re not even clear of.

I know it said it three times at the beginning of this post, but YOU NEED A WEBSITE! Etsy cannot, and should not be your only revenue source. But if you look at with knowing that it could be gone at any moment, then that is when I believe that it is okay to have a shop because it can be a great extra income source as well as a way to grow your customer base if done properly.

If you don’t have an Etsy shop, but want to try it out. You can get 40 FREE LISTINGS by using my link. However, if you’re doing just fine on Facebook and still have zero interest in Etsy, I HIGHLY recommend trying out the free trials of Shopify or BigCommerce and getting your website up and going.

If you go the website route, and find that you need a little more freedom than what the Shopify or BigCommerce templates provide, then going to WordPress with BlueHost hosting will be a great move! No matter what you do though, I do recommend to purchase your domain name from somewhere like GoDaddy because if you do the “free domain” that the other’s offer, sometimes they hold on to your domain and you have to wait until a year is up to point it to another host. Meaning, if you start with Shopify, then later want to go to WordPress. Shopify will hold on to that domain until your year is up, regardless of if you cancelled your website plan with them.

The more people you have coming to your website, the more chances you have of them not going anywhere else! If you give your Etsy shop, they may be distracted by a competitors item and even though they went to visit your item… you lost them to your competitor. I always say to let Etsy customers find you on Etsy. You should promote your website only.

Building your business is hard and expensive, I get it. But the ultimate goal is to be able to hold your own. If you rely on Etsy for your businesses success… you will only be as successful as Etsy algorithms allow you to be.

So one more time, just for fun, GET A WEBSITE!

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THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. BUT THESE ARE ALL PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND AND USE MYSELF.

So you have your Etsy, you have your Facebook and Instagram, you may even have a website… but do you have a newsletter? If not, you’re just leaving money on the table!

The idea of “the build it and they will come” just isn’t a reality for crafters. There’s too many people doing what you’re doing. You need something that makes you stand out!

That’s why promotion of your business is so important. You could make 100 items but if you keep them in a closet, no one will ever know about them, right? You have to let people know about your business so they know who you are and where to find you! A newsletter… is one of the best ways to do that!

I use MailChimp for my newsletters and LOVE it! Plus, it’s FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers!

Newsletter With MailChimp

 3 Reasons Your Craft Business Needs A Newsletter

  1. Can’t Be Missed. Unlike Facebook and Instagram where things can be scrolled by, an e-mail is there until the recipient reads or deletes. No worrying about algorithm changes or hoping your customers are online at the right time. Many people don’t use social media. And MANY MANY people don’t join groups or like pages. I personally have many websites that I go to regularly but don’t follow them on any social media outlets. Even though I’m on Facebook A LOT for my HoopMama group! If I weren’t getting newsletters from the places like: My Vinyl Direct, Craftsy, or Happy Crafters, I probably wouldn’t know about any of the deals they have going on at all!
  2. Efficient Use Time And Space.  If they open your newsletter then obviously you have their attention! You can put more information in a newsletter than you can on an Instagram post or Facebook. You can promote sales, categories of items, giveaways, blog posts and new items all in one e-mail!
  3. Drive Traffic To Your Website. Obviously this one is pretty much a “duh” point. But think about this viewpoint of a newsletter. If someone is checking their e-mail, they probably aren’t in shopping mode necessarily. If you can get their attention and get them to open up your newsletter, chances are they’ll visit your site. Even if they don’t make a direct purchase right now, they may hang on to your newsletter for future reference. On social media… if you don’t get them RIGHT THEN… they close out and forget about you. But their e-mail is there to stay and refer back to when they’re ready to shop.

 

MailChimp is easy to use and hey, you can’t beat free! If you’re lost with ideas for content, or how to get people to sign up for your newsletter, stay tuned because I have a whole list of ideas I’ll be posting soon!

 

In the meantime, want to be challenged? Check out the CraftMama 30 day Crafter’s Challenge here!

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS WHERE I MAY RECEIVE A SMALL PROFIT FOR USING MY LINKS. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOUR PRICE IS HIGHER, IT JUST ENABLES ME TO KEEP WRITING THIS BLOG AND STAY HOME WITH MY SON. BUT I PROMISE THAT THESE ARE ALL PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND AND USE MYSELF.

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