Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Downplay Yourself or Your Business! - Day 33

Don’t underestimate yourself, and never downplay the value of your business, skills, and talents.

I have an acquaintance that I talk to you every so often. One of the first things she always asks me (in this exact phrase) is 'How is your little side business going?'. She's a really nice person and I know she is genuinely interested in how my jewelry business is going, but it has always grated on me whenever she refers to my business as my 'little side business'. Last time she asked, I sort of bristled and said 'Well, it's not so little anymore.' Then I moved on to another subject.

During one of my morning walks, I started thinking about how people unintentionally minimize my business efforts with their off-handed remarks and how easily I get offended. But then I had a sudden epiphany. As in the example above, it wasn't her fault that she refers to my business as 'little' and 'side'. It's my fault! I must obviously be conveying that message to her otherwise she wouldn't use those words. In fact, each time she asks that question I only reinforce her belief by quickly changing the subject - and I do this all the time! If someone asks me a question about my business, I usually make a brief statement that it's going well and then move on to another subject. I find it difficult to talk about myself and always have a tendency to downplay what's going on in my life, and especially my business.

But if I don't take myself seriously, how can I expect someone else to?

So, next time someone asks me how my business is going, I'm going to respond like this:
It's going great! I was finally able to quit my corporate job late last year and I'm really excited with the direction my company is taking. I've added some new product lines and they have been really well received. I have some exciting plans for this year and I've been really busy implementing them.

Now, isn't that so much better! Why haven't I done that before?

Is this common? Do most of us have a tendency to downplay our business achievements? Are we sometimes too wrapped up in our identities as mothers, wives, corporate professionals, etc. that we don't give ourselves the same recognition as independent business owners?

I'm sure I'm not alone in this mode of thinking. I think many of us do this unconsciously and it doesn't serve us well. I am going to work on presenting myself and my business more enthusiastically. I wonder how many opportunities have passed me by because I gave the impression that I wasn't serious or confident about my business.

What do you think? How do you present yourself to others when asked about your business?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Theresa Rose Designs April Giveaway

April's giveaway will be for a sterling silver bangle with your choice of birthstone.

Sterling Silver Birthstone Bangle

The contest begins today and will run through Wednesday, April 30th.

Please read the following before entering:

1.  This contest is open to U.S. entries only.

2.  Only one bangle will be awarded.

3. Invalid entries will be deleted. I will check all entries before picking a random winner. Make sure you fill  in the correct information required for your points. Otherwise, your entries will be invalid for the drawing.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

How To Twitter by Stacey Myers - Book Review - Day 32

Every Accomplishment Starts With The Decision To Try

How To Twitter Book Review

Getting started with Twitter can be a daunting experience. I must admit that I've only dabbled in it from time to time without any real sense of purpose. Why would anyone want to follow me and who do I want to follow? What interesting topics can I discuss in 140 characters or less?

However, the more and more I research social media, the more I see that Twitter is an extremely important platform and one that should be considered if you are going to grow your business (and that's what we're doing, right?!) So, I picked up the book How To Twitter: Getting Started with 30 Daily Do-ables by Stacey Myers. I figured this would be a good starting book, especially since I still didn't quite get why I wanted to be on Twitter.

I'm happy to say that it was money well spent. It's a quick read, which is good because I wanted to get started right away once I finished the book! This book doesn't overwhelm you and is filled with a lot of images and examples to help you to understand Twitter.

I categorize the book in 3 sections: Beginner Basics, How-To, Advanced Topics.

Beginner Basics
The first part of the book starts with the absolute basics. If you don't have a Twitter account and don't know how to start, Stacey goes step-by-step helping you to get your account activated and explains all the terminology needed to understand Twitter-talk. Since I already had an account and had been tweeting for a while (albeit not very well!), I skipped this part. But, I could tell there was a lot of really well explained basic information while I skimmed through it.

The How-To section covers the ins-and-outs of tweeting and the all important etiquette involved.
Areas Stacey covers in-depth are:
  • Retweeting and Favorites
  • Starter ideas for what to post
  • @mentions, @replies, and direct messages (etiquette is very important here!)
  • Scheduling tools
  • Hashtags
  • Lists - what they are and how/why to use them (she gives great examples of how you can build relationships using lists)
  • Link shorteners
  • Twitter search
  • Finding people to follow
  • How to be retweetable
  • When to post
  • Posting images
  • Trends

Advanced Topics
The last section deals with more advanced features of Twitter. Once you get comfortable with Twitter and want to increase your presence, there are a multitude of widgets, apps, and general suggestions for managing your account that Stacey discusses. I'm not at that point yet, but it's good to know that I have the book available for when I'm ready. Topics she explains include:
  • Website widgets- one great widget you can install is to display your Twitter feed on your website
  •  Linking to individual tweets - used when you want to reference a tweet in your blog, Facebook, etc.
  • Managing followers and who you follow
  • Promoting your Twitter account
  • Mobile Apps
As you can see, this book covers a wide variety of Twitter topics, but is done in a fashion that is very do-able. I felt much more comfortable with using Twitter after I read this book and in the 1 1/2 weeks since I started applying her suggestions, my Twitter followers have increased quite rapidly. More important, I'm having fun with it and I don't feel the least bit overwhelmed.

I downloaded the book from Amazon for $2.99 and I'm extremely happy with my purchase!

Do you have any books that you suggest? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Creative Photography for Social Media - Day 31

One of the most important things you can do to grow your Etsy business is take great photos! This is an area that I think most of us struggle with on a regular basis. Captivating photos don't just stop at Etsy and creative photos can really make a difference on your social media sites.

Quotable Necklace

Most of us have spent more hours than we care to admit trying to get perfect pictures of our products for our Etsy shops. Unfortunately, Etsy limits us to the number of pictures we can use and the shape of those photos. As a jewelry designer, I know that having the ability to post longer vertical images would greatly help me in displaying my long necklaces (that's just one example). Square images just don't cut it. While we may be limited on the Etsy site itself, we do have the ability to showcase our handmade goods in a variety of ways on other on-line platforms. However, how many of us really take advantage of this?

If you are going to expand your business, it becomes just as important to also expand your photography skills and creativity. While you may have the basic Etsy product shots down to a tee, why not mix it up a bit with some creative shots to show on the social media sites. Since a well photographed photo is key to selling on-line, it makes sense to create visually stimulating photos that are unique.

Social media sites that are perfect for creative photos include:
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter 
That's just a start. There are other great sites also, but I see Etsy sellers using these 4 sites the most often.

Do's and Don'ts:
  • Don't post the same photo to all of your sites at the same time. While it is tempting to reuse a photo in as many places as possible, try to take different angles or versions of the same product.
  • Do consider your audience. A picture that is appropriate for one venue may not be appropriate for another.
  • Don't post images that may be controversial, unless your shop is specifically designed to be edgy or controversial.
  • Do try something new and completely different than what you have done in the past (as long as it is tasteful). Part of the fun is to gauge the response. You may be surprised.
  • Do choose just one or two themes at first. Maybe show your product at various vacation spots or set next to a similar item. You don't need to stick to one theme, but some consistency is good and helps to brand your photos. As you take more photos, add more themes.
  • Do consider your brand when taking creative photos. If you sell beach-themed jewelry, photos of your jewelry at a rodeo may not make sense.
  • Do take it slowly. There's no need to overwhelm yourself by taking creative photos of every product you sell. I'm actually planning on only 1 to 2 creative photos per week. By adding this new task to my already busy schedule, I will slowly build up my gallery of photos and it won't get in the way of all the other things I'm doing to grow my business.
What do you think? Are you ready to think outside-the-box and get creative with your photos?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 30 - This One Little Detail Can Cost You Business

“Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.”
-  Danny Wallace, Yes Man

In all the craziness of running my own business, it's easy to overlook little details that seem unimportant in the moment. As I hurriedly answer an e-mail or list a custom order, I want to be done with the task as quickly as possible. But, forgetting small details can really hurt in a big way. One example that always comes to mind is spelling - and I don't mean just lousy spelling that should be caught with spell check. I'm talking about the spelling of people's names. This particular topic really hits home with me because of my name - Theresa. It can be spelled two ways - either Theresa or Teresa.

I cannot count how many times in a week I see my name misspelled. In most instances, it's no big deal. If I'm at Starbuck's and the cashier asks for my name, I don't care how she spells it. I just want my coffee. We're having a quick business interaction and the spelling of my name is not important for the transaction to be completed. However, if I am a customer and having a long-term business relationship, then I hope the business owner makes an effort to spell my name correctly.

Case in point: I signed up as a consultant with a company a while back. My mentor was very high up in the company and I was really excited to learn from her. From the get-go, she spelled my name as Teresa. No big deal at first, but after a few e-mails and interactions, I very politely mentioned that my name was spelled Theresa. The next e-mail from her still had the spelling incorrect and I received no response to the comment about my name. Well, this told me two things:

1. She didn't care enough to read my e-mail thoroughly.
2. Spelling my name correctly wasn't important to her.

It took me another few weeks and several attempts on my part to get her to finally start spelling my name correctly. Since I thought we were going to have a long standing business relationship, I felt it was important that she know how to spell my name.

In the end, I stopped working with this company. The mentor didn't follow through in a number of ways, and looking back, ignoring my attempts to notify her of the correct spelling of my name was the first red flag.

Little details do matter and it's important to me that customers know they are appreciated and important. Taking that extra moment to double-check the spelling of their name before sending any communication is so crucial! Think about it - when you receive an e-mail, the first line usually contains your name and you will notice if it's not spelled correctly. Why have that be the first impression your customer gets from you?

What do you think? Is this important to you?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 29 - March Social Media Results

If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.
- Thomas Jefferson

Last month's social media results were very interesting and quite different from February. For the month of March, I concentrated much more on Facebook and less on Pinterest - and the results definitely show it!

March Promotions
  1. One Facebook contest for a sterling silver bangle - see my post about it here: My Facebook Contest.
  2. One general contest for a $15.00 gift certificate (advertised on Etsy Giveaways, Facebook, and newsletter).
  3. 2 day 25% off sale just for Facebook fans and newsletter recipients.
  4. 16 Facebook posts throughout the month.
  5. Semi-daily Pinterest pins (not as many as I had planned!).
  6. Sent out 2 newsletters.
While I felt busy all month with my social media and other promotions, looking back on this list really shows me that I should be doing a lot more. It's great to write all this down and review it. When I'm going through my day, it can feel that I'm keeping up on my goals, but I can now tell I have more work to do for April.

Facebook Wins This Month
By far, the best promotion I had was the Facebook contest. It generated a lot of views and new likes. I also received quite a few sales from it.  Facebook interactions were up and continued for the rest of March. I gained almost 100 new fans!

I only gained 24 new Pinterest followers and even fewer for Twitter. I haven't concentrated on Twitter this year and still don't know how much I will ever get on board with that platform. I vow to work harder on Pinterest for April. We'll see if it has an impact at the end of the month.

Social Media Referral Data

I obtain my referral data from Google Analytics and you can see that I had a huge jump in Facebook referrals. 

 The main thing to remember with social media is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. I enjoy the interactions with my customers which is why I like Facebook so much and want to spend most of my time on that site. It gives me the biggest connection and best feedback.

I'm also slowly getting more comfortable with social media. I have to admit that I was worried about 'selling' on these sites. I didn't want to be spammy and I think I've succeeded in that area. For April, I plan on stepping it up a bit. Now that wedding season is here, I hope to focus on more wedding themed posts and Pinterest pins. 

I'll post April's results early next month.