Thursday, January 7, 2016

Building Your Biz in 2016 and Why You Shouldn't Stand Alone!

While we're looking around to find where 2015 went, we're already into the first week of 2016!

Before we get into the subject of this post, we want to firstly congratulate The CraftStar sellers on a great selling holiday season!  Many have been reading the blog, watching the LIVE shows, and are getting really good at listing items - it works and well done!  (PS.  If you're not watching the LIVE shows on Tuesdays, you should!  You get a lot of good info on e:commerce selling.)

Onto Building Your Business in 2016 and Why You Shouldn't Stand Alone ... starting with a few tips for your biz.  You can add some of these to your New Year resolution list.

~ Create a Daily Plan:  If you're serious about building your small business, you need a plan.  That doesn't mean you need a full on 23 page business presentation, so maybe it's better to refer to it as a schedule.  We suggest a 70/30 rule.  While working on your business, 70% of your time should be doing what you love to do - creating or curating, and 30% spent promoting (more info on that below.)  If you get yourself into a rhythm, it makes life so much easier!  And if you start to look at the promoting part as also creative (as you should), it won't seem so much like a chore.

~ has an article "Six New Year Resolutions to Grow Your Business" and one of the points is a great one:  talk to a new prospect every day.  You don't need to take this literally, as this can be done via social media. Below you'll find more info on social, but the main goal of it all is to make connections.  If you turn Kabbage's suggestion from "prospects" to "connections", you'll be off to a flying start in 2016.

~ Another point from Kabbage: "I Will Give Back."  By giving back, whether to a national charity or a local one (these are actually better for small businesses as you can connect directly), you're not only doing something great, but you're also building awareness of your business.  We've seen first hand what donating a part of your profits can do for your sales.

~ Social Media: There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this, if you're a seller, you NEED to be on social media!  In fact, it's so crucial, you should add it to your daily "to do" list ... even if it's only for 15 minutes.  With all the established social media sites out there, along with the new ones that seems to pop up every few weeks, this can sound very daunting, but it really needn't be.  Don't attempt to conquer them all at once - if you do that you won't have any time to do your creative stuff and you'll burn out in about 3 1/2 days.  :)  Decide which routes are best for you based on what you're best at.  If you're a great photographer, stick with Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter.  If you're a great writer, Facebook is still the top dog no matter how much people complain about it (!), and blogging.  Whichever routes you choose, make sure you're using them in the right way.  Again, this is something we discuss in our LIVE shows, and you can back and look through them on our YouTube page (link below).

If you're wondering where you fit into the social media world, this is a great article explaining them one by one:

~ Get Involved With the Community:  Although it may not seem like it, we're still the new kids on the block.  We're still building awareness and are doing so every single day.  We KNOW people want an alternative to other sites out there, and we want to be that site.  We work on this relentlessly but we still need your help.  Sharing our posts, telling your friends, joining us for our Tuesday night LIVE shows ... they're all great ways to get involved with the community and spreading the word.  The CraftStar fee is $5.00 per month for unlimited listings and unlimited shops.  That's the best deal in town!  While keeping in mind that customers go where you send them, you could save a lot of money in relisting fees while being part of a site that is for HANDMADE and CRAFTING SUPPLIES.  We do not tolerate shops opening and reselling items from overseas as handmade ... they get one warning, and then they close.  We promise you that.  Get to know your fellow sellers by joining us LIVE - you learn, laugh, and make new friends all during the one hour show!

~ A Warning on Stand Alone Sites:  We've been saying this for a long time now ... because it's true!  Unless you have A LOT of repeat customers, or you have a HUGE marketing budget, stand alone (vanity) sites don't work.  How do we know this?  Because we've seen it enough to know the numbers don't lie.  There is even a name for it: "The Three Monther (!)"  It took us awhile to figure out, but as soon as we clocked it, it was totally obvious.  This is what happens:  someone would close a shop and then return in 3 months.  What were they doing in those three months?  They were building a stand alone!  They would spend one month creating it and making it look lovely, one month promoting and hopefully getting some traffic from mom, dad, friends, and neighbors cruising through, and then one month wondering where everyone is.  The Three Monther.  

Creative small business owners NEED other sellers around to pull people in - back to the community.  When anyone is promoting an item from their shop, they're also promoting yours - bringing traffic into a website with multiple sellers benefits everyone.  The e:commerce world is tough ... we talk about this in the LIVE shows ... if you're selling online you have a massive competition base.  You're not just competing against other sellers in your genre on the site you're on ... you're competing with the big boys!  Target, Macy's, Free People, Amazon ... any store that has an e:commerce element (which almost all do), those are your competitors!  

The thought of competing with names like that is pretty daunting ... but you have a unique element that none of those have no matter how big they are  ... and that is YOU!  When people are shopping on sites like The CraftStar, they are buying into you.  Your talent, your story, your item (s).  If you want to read more about this, check out our How To Guides on site where you'll find great tips on how to sell yourself and your work.

Making it "all about you" is a great place to end this.  YOU are key to small business and even if you don't have the confidence to believe that about yourself, we have all the confidence you need to keep you going.  And you know how to find us if you need to be told personally!

Wishing you an amazing 2016!

~ The CraftStar Team

For LIVE show events, keep your eye on our Facebook and Google + pages:

The CraftStar YouTube channel:

Kabbage article:

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