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10 from 09

Thursday, January 07, 2010

So it's been 2010 for a week now. I think it's off to a good start- my little boy turned two, I realized there was $18 left on an old Starbucks gift card, and I won a book from the Purl Bee.

Wish Upon A Star
Image Credit LuluBugJewelry

It is, of course, a time for fresh starts. For me, this always means a bit of reflection first...how do I know where I want to go unless I can make sense of where I've been? In my personal life I've probably got a whole novel waiting there but as for my business, I'm slowly crafting (ugh, crafting, get it?) where I'd like Quiltish to go.

So here is where I've been & 10 things that I think contributed to my success so far....

1. Loyal Lassies- Over the summer, when I was in a bit of a creative slump, I began receiving orders primarily from return buyers...or people who had received Quiltish items as gifts. At first, this gave me some much needed confidence but then I realized that this is exactly what business is about. People find a product. Want it. Buy it. Love it. Share it. and then....come back for more. And since I haven't invented the new i-gizmo (yet!) most of what I can offer my buyers is an experience in buying - from the 'tidiness' of my shop (e.g. clear titles, grammatically correct descriptions, etc) to acknowledging their order & completing it with as much care as I would for a friend.

Many of my buyers have been my best promoters as well. One buyer in particular has not only purchased items for gifts and herself but has so generously 'spread the word,' -telling co-workers & friends about my shop. I can not tell you how happy this makes me when I get an order that says "Ruby Sue told me about your site. She just loves everything about it!" That is more valuable to me on a personal & business level than anything I could ever sign-up for or purchase.

2. The Best Marketing Tool- Photos. In my (very humble) opinion, photographs are absolutely the most important tool I have in promoting my products. They ARE my products. I love the items I make and just can't settle for less than great photos....because that's doing the items I make a disservice. The rewards I've reaped from improving my photos are limitless (gift guides, blog features mentions, etc.) I try to think of it this way- every single time I list on Etsy, upload on my blog, link from Twitter, I am saying 'hey, look at this! Here's something lovely I just made!" it's my own little 10 second commercial spot. If the photos are dark, boring, blurry- people just change the channel.....
*For photography tips: see my post here

3. Reputation, it's important- not just in high school - When I joined Etsy I was a brand new mom. Jack was a few months old. I was staying home from teaching & just wanted to make some extra money selling things I made as a hobby. I was excited to find forums & places to share ideas. My husband created this blog for me. What I soon began to realize (maybe later than some, because I used to actually say, "I hate technology.") is that folks have a very clear online presence- a reputation. As a business owner looking to create a profitable entity I learned quite quickly (luckily not the hard way) that everything I post, link, & share creates & molds my reputation as a business- and many people may choose to buy- or NOT buy, based on this image.

I don't have tons of money. Given the choice, I'm going to spend it on the shop that has a thoughtful & genuine owner rather than that who seems arrogant & complains a lot. Same thing for blogs & twitterers I follow- I don't always want hear how amazing people are or how they hate the lady at the post office.

4. Mind Games- Last Spring I had to make the switch. I don't just make things & kind of sell them in my "spare" time. No, I own a business. I make lovely items & try to make a profit that my family can benefit from. This IS my job.

For too long, when asked by other moms what I do, I would quietly say, "I stay home with Jack. Oh, and as a sort of extra thingy I make stuff."

Really. Get some confidence girl! I've had to learn to be firm & train how I think....

One of my fave all time quotes is from Ghandi and while it's a little deep I think it really applies: Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.

If I think I am a profitable business owner then I will talk like one. Talking like one leads me to act like one. Ultimately, I am one.

5. "Make It Work" - I wish I could carry Tim Gunn in my pocket. I had to let go of all the wishy washiness. Failure is not an option. As long as I keep my core values true (family, love, friends) then I am willing get up at 3am if that's what it takes.....

Whew, thanks for reading this far! Let's do the last five tomorrow....off to enjoy the rest of the day :)


live a colorful life said...

Allisa: You have been incredibly inspiring to me. In 2010 I want to make more of a presence on etsy. I also recommend checking out "52 weeks of blogging your passion," a downloadable book by Tara Gentile, with ideas to think/blog about for each week. The first is refining your mission statement. (her subtitle is "boost traffic, beat blogger's block, communicate your passion for creativity") so if you haven't already heard about this book, it seems right up your alley.

Thanks again!

Nicole said...

I so recognise the bit about being a SAHM and mumbling a bit about doing crafty business on the side. Well done to you to try and change that! :)