I don’t know about you, but I love looking at inspirational images and spend many hours each week perusing Pinterest, Google Images and pretty pictures in magazines. I also love using glossy photographs to create my vision board for the year. You can see my board for 2019 which I shared in a previous post here.
A while ago, I spent several days considering brand identity and core values for my Etsy business. My shop has been open for over two and a half years now but I wanted to make sure that my products reflected what my brand was all about. I worked on developing a list of adjectives which describe what I want to be at the core of my business. Then, alongside this, I chose a range of images which reflected my beliefs about what LJ Designs NE is all about. Below is a list of what I came up with (in no particular order of importance!) and a photo story of how I went about making my vision board some weeks later.
After spending a good while cutting the above out I had a very sore wrist and a big pile of gorgeous images.
When I’d finished cutting out all of my images, I laid them all out on the floor to see how much room they would need to be displayed. I then popped to The Range and bought an A1 piece of mounting board in a lovely charcoal grey colour and a large Perspex clip frame. I chose a Perspex frame as I’ve had issues with clip frames getting broken in the past and didn’t want a recurrence of this.
To ensure I was happy with the placement of the pics, I started by placing them onto the board with small pieces of Blu-Tak so I could play with the arrangement a little.
I did have the intention of using double sided tape to adhere the images permanently but in the end, I glued them on with Pritt Stick so that if I put them on a little wonky I could sort them out!
I’m so pleased with how my brand vision board turned out and can’t wait to put it on display in my craft room / office. I hope you find it visually appealing too and agree that it reflects my key ideas about my little Etsy shop.
Have you ever tried a similar process for your handmade business? If not, I thoroughly recommend it. I had great fun and I now have a board full of beautiful pictures to remind me of what’s at the heart of my brand and to inspire me when I’m working in my craft room each day.
The time of year is upon us when the best Etsy shops get ultra busy as buyers search for supplies to get creatively involved in a range of Christmas crafts, for beautifully handcrafted gifts for friends and family and anything which might make them feel a little bit more organised as we head towards 2019.
For my customers, the search might be for beautiful handmade paper goodies to change up their planner and get it looking festive, the ultimate little stocking fillers for planner girls and trinket lovers (or as a little reward to oneself for being good at this stressful and busy time of year!).
Or, maybe their super-organised, planner girl thoughts have already turned to 2019, in which case, they’ve begun eyeing up new planner systems which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be complete without some pretty handmade accessories such as cute nature inspired dividers, page markers or useful dashboards (for all of your sticky notes and stuff!).
Wherever a buyer’s head is at right now, there are several types of customer who are browsing your virtual shelves. Those well prepared goddesses of organisation who, by the end of September, have already made all of their Christmassy purchases (lucky them!) and there are others who leave it until the last minute and want their goodies and gifts popping through the letterbox, like now, stalking the ‘postie’ and sighing with sadness when their front door is bypassed in favour of next door or a neighbour across the street (no, it’s not just you!). Or, those who fall somewhere in between (that’s me by the way and I like it like that!).
That’s one of the things about online shopping – it’s easy and you can view so many things in such a short amount of time, all without getting pushed and shoved, having to pay gigantic parking fees or having to visit rammed coffee shops and cafes for lunch / a lie down / some respite / feet relaxing purposes
or all of the above!
– but, and it’s only a little one: You need to find a little bit of patience (if anyone finds a dose that’s ready to ship today, can they please share the online link in the comments!?!).
For me, at least, shopping from home has so many benefits that I absolutely love it – as long as the items are accurately described, beautifully photographed and make me want them in my life or to give to my loved ones as a lovely surprising and thoughtful gift (but that’s another post entirely and one which I may do in 2019, watch this space).
Whichever type of shopper your shop attracts most (and let’s face it, they come in all different shapes and sizes!), this is the time of year when everyone is stressed and busy (and often feeling under the weather with various ‘lurgies’ doing the rounds). We all want to feel super organised and show the world how well prepared we are and how we haven’t left anything to the last minute (even if we have!). So, you want shoppers to trust that your little shop is THE place to visit, surpassing all others (now wouldn’t that be nice I hear you cry – Yup! The Very Best!).
One step to achieving customer confidence in you and your Etsy business, is to keep yourself organised, calm and ready for action (don’t you just love it when you radiate all of these things?). It also helps you avoid mistakes – yes, we all make them I hear you cry, but, it’s vital that they are kept to a minimum if you want to retain customers and get good reviews!
With popular sayings such as ‘two heads are better than one’ (originally stated by John Heywood back in 1546 don’t you know!) and ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’ (wise words from Helen Keller, a famous American author), at the forefront of my mind, I turned to the Etsy forums to ask seasoned sellers for tips (I checked their sales data and they had thousands of, often extremely happy, customers!).
Here’s a summary of the best (in my humble opinion) of what I learned:
1. Print the packing slips for all orders and use them to your advantage.
You might not want to include them in the parcels but they can be a very useful organisational tool. Highlight them or tick off as you make each item (if you make to order), or simply tick off parts of the order as you get them together to package, wrap them up and place in the packet or parcel. Use different colours for each step of the process e.g. red for making, orange for getting ready to package, green for all packaged up (more colours if you have more steps, get the idea?). Or, if highlighters aren’t your thing (WHAT????? lol!) other stationery items work just as well e.g. pencils to scribble notes, circle, draw arrows, underline important bits etc, sticky notes or flags.
Also, if someone convo’s you with a change to, for example, shipping address you can amend it there and then. Anything which helps you avoid issues further down the line is good here.
If you want to save on paper and personalise the process, you can even make your own packing slip template that’s small and neat and fill it in with your own handwriting and pop in the package – I’m all for the personal touch and so are many customers who shop handmade.
2. Talking of supplies…. have lots!
As well as stationery goodies (in pretty colours if you’re an obsessive like me), make sure you have plenty of them for packing too (who needs last minute dashes to the shops for overpriced packaging?) – different sized envelopes / boxes, grip seal bags, tissue paper, (*insert your preferred packing supplies here*).
Also, have them in a dedicated area and neatly organised (a topic for expansion another time maybe?) so you can select from all which is available with ease (we all like quick and easy, right!?!).
3. Take it one order at a time
It might sound counterproductive in terms of working efficiently, but working carefully and doing just one order at a time until it is completed sounds like the best way to go to avoid mistakes. If you only have the packing materials for one order on your desk, you unlikely to pack the wrong items (unless you accidently wrap up your highlighter pens!). Also, if you combine this with a colour coded system you can be even more organised (go you!).
4. Orders in progress
Another tip I received, which I think is a mighty good one, is to print orders off as soon as they come in and use Etsy’s feature to mark them as ‘in progress’. That way you can see at a glance which orders are already in your head and which need your attention.
5. Check, check and triple check
You want to avoid mistakes don’t you? Checking takes time but it’s worth the effort I think and I’m sure you’ll agree. Did the customer want one of the item or more than one? (don’t just rely on the primary image photo on the order form here as the text next to it is key here) What colour / size / pattern (etc) did they select? (Use your preferred checking method here – see ideas above!)
6. Turn off your phone
Yes, you might wanna hear more cha-chings, who doesn’t, but you don’t want to be distracted, right? Distraction = mistakes and you know it!
Well, I think that’s enough to be going on with for now, I don’t want you feeling overwhelmed (sorry if you are already – deep breaths now!) I’m sure there are hundreds more ideas out there but, ultimately, it’s about what works for you and your own shop – and you know your small business (or whatever you call it) better than anyone! As a fellow Etsy seller said to me this week:
Create a system and rhythm to your orders and you should work like clockwork!
(The lovely Janice at JJJewellerysupplies on Etsy)
and who doesn’t want a shop that runs like that?
I’m super excited to hear more top tips from my lovely readers (that’s you by the way!) so don’t forget to share in the comments below. I know we’re all super busy but you took the time to (skim) read these nuggets of information, and you might just revolutionize a fellow online seller’s methods (doesn’t that give you a warm Christmassy glow inside!).
I hope these ideas helped, even if it’s just in some small way. Thank to all those sellers on the Etsy forum who contributed and to you for reading. I wish you lots of sales over the Christmas period and beyond! Also, if you can find time in your busy schedule, let me know in the comments how your shop is doing right now (or during the post Christmas slump whilst you sup a glass of chilled rose wine and celebrate your huge successes is absolutely fine)!