I’ve been selling online since the 1990s as soon as I coded my first website. It took me zero seconds to grasp the concept and potential of the internet. Since that time, I have had a website selling my art and designs, which means this was before eBay, Amazon, Google and definitely before Etsy.
Since there were no payment processors online, I used a little known site called Kagi to process payments and mail them to me, or people wrote me checks and mailed them.
Anyway, I’ve been selling online for all these years, and I’ve always had my own website that I designed or coded until 2016 when I moved Blue Morning Expressions (2004) to the Shopify platform.
In all fairness, I have/had three or four Etsy stores since 2006 and have done a decent amount of business there over the years. That changed dramatically when Etsy decided to let people outsource in 2015. I changed directions and never looked back.
Today, I still throw things up on Etsy on occasion, but here are the Etsy things that I don’t have to deal with by having my own site:
Ads on my listings directing people elsewhere
Twitchy SEO that seems more like keyword stuffing than true SEO
Ending up on page 15 in a search result because they decide to give new shops exposure
Pretending that there are no shipping costs
A star seller ranking that comes and goes
Independence from people who don’t have my best interests at heart
Some crazy offsite ad program that doesn’t allow you to see the metrics involved
Limited buyers who are on the Etsy platform
I sell on two platforms: Shopify and Amazon Handmade. Amazon Handmade is the bulk of my handmade sales while my Shopify website comes in second, but both of these are relatively hassle-free, so I am good with that. Amazon Handmade has some hefty fees, but the exposure and sales make up for the difference. Shopify is less expensive than Etsy and have way more bells and whistles than you’ll ever use.
If you sign up for Shopify, I might make a little money, so thanks!
Greeting cards are a hot commodity, and when you can design and sell your own, you have an extra revenue stream for your website or your Zazzle store.
If you are looking for art to use, then check out the backgrounds and images available on Creative Market. I used some sort of Creative Market image for all of these example cards. I have a soft spot for watercolor art.
You can get your own Creative Market art by clicking the ad below. I will earn a small commission for your support. Thank you!
If you need a place to host your creative greeting cards, then check out Shopify – I’ve been with them for seven or eight years now – or IndieMade where many of my handmade friends have shops.
Click the banner for more information.
If you don’t have a Printify account, open one today and start making extra income with your prints and photos. I use them for all of my hot rod mugs and prints!
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When I scheduled this article into my calendar last year, Twitter was a stable platform with reliable levels of performance. Since that time, it has undergone new management and has become less stable with skewed reports. This article is based on the way it has performed for me in the past with the anticipation that it will return to a stable social media site in the future.
Pros and Cons of Twitter for Business
As a small business owner/writer/artist, the best way for me to get my products to the public is through social media platforms like Twitter. Like all social media, there are pros and cons of using Twitter for marketing. I wrote about a few of those in my Pinterest article.
I have found that all of the platforms go through upheaval along their lifespan and sometimes changes are necessary on your end to determine whether or not to continue with your promotions on the sites. Since so many of the newly minted business school graduates like to disrupt to motivate growth, it is best to not rely on one place for all things. It will change.
There are a couple of types of marketing available to you on the Twitter platform. One is free and the other is paid sponsored posts. I do not pay Twitter to post, so all of my marketing efforts use the free version. This means that I do the posting and work with a networking group of handmade artists to retweet their posts.
Here are some of the pros of using Twitter for business:
You can engage with people responding to your tweet on a personal level;
Feedback on your product or service can be instrumental in growing your business;
It is a good first step toward getting someone to look at more products;
You can build a community by asking people to follow you;
Tweets are short and sweet, so you can write several of them and schedule them to post at various times;
Your tweets go around the world while you sleep;
Hashtags help you track your reach;
You can connect with friends and set up a tweet network (this is how I manage my tweets);
You can hire someone to do this marketing for you.
Here are some of the cons of using Twitter for business:
Getting followers can be difficult;
You need followers to get more eyes on your products;
You need to respond to tweets and keep them alive;
You are open to negative comments that can break your business;
Not all followers are engaged;
Your message may be considered spam that can turn followers off;
Your ROI can be low;
If you hire someone to tweet for you, make sure you know them and approve all tweets;
Trolls can break your business for fun.
If you are wondering how often you should post on Twitter for your business, my networking group posts at least three times a week, and we do retweets the rest of the time. Anytime I am on Twitter and I see tweets from my friends, I hit the retweet button to give the tweet a boost.
Twitter can be a toxic place, which brings me to the disclaimer I added at the beginning of this article. I have used Twitter for my business since 2008, and over that time, I have found that it does a reasonable job of getting traffic to my website. Whether or not that will continue in the future is yet to be determined, but I hope that it will still give me and my handmade artist friends a place to share our wares and make some sales.
There are a lot of books on Twitter available, but if you want to really delve into marketing, this might be the book for you. It is an older book, so it won’t take into consideration the current 240 character limit and it is only available in paperback, but the marketing principles and the actual platform are the same. Check it out for yourself.
If you liked this post or want to add something to it, then hit me up with a comment. Share this with all of your social media friends. I appreciate it.
If you’re running a business, then you know how important word-of- mouth advertising is to your bottom line. This is particularly true when your business is online. Unless your business is very new, you ‘re probably already sharing on social media
While not a social media site, Pinterest is an integral part of online ecommerce. In 2010, this new site gave the public a place to pin (as in bulletin board) their favorite ideas, photos and content as a visual idea board.
Creatives will recognize this as an inspiration/design board and wedding planners may have been the first to really grasp the concept. Once people realized they could visualize their ideas, Pinterest took off.
As a jewelry designer and bead maker, I was on board from the beginning. Pinterest has made some changes over the years, but for the most part, pinning still offers artists and online sellers a great place to show off their wares.
Here are some pros and cons that I have found over the years:
433 million global users a month;
Qualified audience with an average income of $75,000;
The search engine is accurate without any “suggestions” from the site;
Conversions are higher;
Marketing budget can be almost zero;
Photographers and graphic designers can set up a samples board for clients;
Private boards can be set up for clients where ideas can be worked out;
All boards are public, so everyone has a chance to see your content;
You can add a link to your photo driving traffic to your site;
Users find it to be a positive site without negative images or advertising;
Posts have a longer life-span around 4 months;
It is a great source of inspiration and mood for artists and designers.
It takes a while for a post to gain traction;
It can be very niche oriented, which is good if you have a niche;
You need to constantly share in order to get traffic;
Images can be shared without the link to your site;
Images can be stolen and uncredited later;
Design ideas can be copied without your knowledge;
There are specific image requirements such as size and dimensions;
It can be time consuming to post several times a day;
Scheduling software can be expensive.
I know that Pinterest drives a lot of traffic to my site, but it’s also very easy to get into trouble with the site. They only want certain content, products and information on their site, so it can be tough to get your site okayed.
I’ve run afoul of their requirements by having the same “About Me” across the internet. I’ve been selling online since 1996, so yeah, it can be a duplicate. If they send you a rejection, just comply, as they are a great source of traffic and sales.
If you need a site, then check out Shopify. They have a free trial.
With Shopify, there is an addon that will do scheduling for you. I use Outfy to run all of my product posts. If you need help, you can hire a freelancer to do things for you.
Decorate Your Store for the Holidays! You wouldn’t shop in a mall store that didn’t have holiday decorations up in December, so why would your online customers want to shop at your website if there are no decorations to enjoy?
Decorating is really easy. There are so many freebie graphics available on the internet that you can use to spruce up your logo or even create a banner.
If you’re a creative soul like I am, the first thing you do when you create something is wonder what you’ll do with it. Or you might wonder, how can I make money from that?
I created hundreds of fractal art images in the 1990s that I wanted to put on products, so I spent a good amount of time trying to get posters printed, cards done and the occasional mousepad. It was the 90s! I bought the HP Photo printer of the 1990s and did my own card line, and I cobbled together foam and t-shirt iron on transfers to create my mousepads.
I fiddled with decals and stickers, and I really wanted to make mugs. In the end, I didn’t have the budget for a sublimation printing set up that would accommodate all the products I wanted to make, and my local print shop was limited to sizes of posters that didn’t suit my needs. The colors on my fractal art were brilliant, and I couldn’t find anyone who could reproduce those colors other than me printing on silk or cloth.
I stuck to small things like cards, keyrings and magnets, but I was never quite happy with that. The internet aged, and I kept creating more art like pencil sketches and colored pencil drawings that I would print into greeting cards or little things to sell.
When I discovered CafePress, I was so excited! That quickly dissipated when I had to jump through hoops to set up my fractal art work. I had to open a store for every image. I had over 80 images. I suppose that I never gave being a power user a thought. In the end, I had 85 stores and products that were strangely colored when I got the product. They were heavy on the reds.
Enter Zazzle and Spoonflower. I used Zazzle to create my mugs and cards, and Spoonflower does fabric. Spoonflower makes you buy fabric from them before they will print your design for sale. I have some cute fabric with my colored pencil horses on them that I occasionally get a few dollars for, but I never put any more designs up.
Zazzle was a good source of income for a while for my classic car photography. When I go to car shows and swap meets with my guy, I use the time to take photos of the classic cars. We’re talking 40s and 50s cars with an occasional 60s car like the Mustang or Chevelle.
At some point, the car manufacturers decided they didn’t want anyone but themselves to sell car art, so they purged everyone selling car art. I still sell on Zazzle, but it’s my National Park and Western Art that sells now.
I’ve made the mistakes, so here’s how to make the money you want from your art. This is what I do, and this is what I found to be successful.
Open a Shopify storefront
Open a Printfy, Printiful and/or Art of Where account
Integrate those print on demand companies with your Shopify account
Open and Etsy or Indiemade account – or set up an Amazon account
Integrate your print on demand on your Etsy store – manually add them to Indiemade or Amazon
Create your products and populate your site if it is integrated – I use Shopify and Printfy, as well as Etsy and Printify. I also have Printiful and Art of Where integrated in my Shopify and Etsy sites, but don’t use them as much. Other print on demand options include Redbubble.
Push your products to the sales channel and then work on your SEO and advertising.
While I have all of these set ups, I prefer my Shopify/Printify account lineup. There are products on Art of Where that I can’t find other places, and there are products on Printiful that I can’t find anywhere else. Depending upon what you want to sell, you may have to search the available products to find the POD company you want to use.
The nice part about integrating your Printify account with your Shopify storefront is that you can create your product and push the publish button. It goes to your shop and is ready for sale.
Both Printify and Shopify have FREE TRIALS, so click ABOVE to start yours today! Get your products online in time for the holiday shopping season!
You can make unlimited amount of money by creating your own products. Some companies have been known to try to suppress the markup percentage, but I have not found that to be true with any of the companies that I use. Of course, it still comes down to what the market will bear and how unique your design is. I do find that my car art does well, so I stick with that for the most part, and throw in occasional home décor.
Some of my home decor items like the coffee mug above come from art that I have purchased through Creative Market. They have a lot of freebies, as well as paid goodies. Sign up and get their daily email or find some art you like and create your first product through Printify.
Set it and leave it
No upfront expense
No shipping issues
No stock to keep
Updated shipping templates
Shipping costs rise
Print quality (I have not had that issue with my work on these companies)
Broken shipments (there are easy returns with these companies)
Profit margin can be low
Limited product lines
If you’ve got a lot of art sitting around, or you want to use artwork from places like Creative Market images (click above to get there), there is a whole market of potential customers looking for unique or clever gift ideas. Create to your heart’s content and then load up social media with your promotional posts!
Check it out – there’s even a book on Kindle Unlimited on how to sell on Etsy with print on demand! Sign up for Kindle Unlimited and read for free today.
The holidays will be upon us before you know it, and then it will fly by as you run around filling orders and shipping them out. The key to the whole process is to make sure that you have all of your supplies together before the first rush of customers.
It doesn’t matter where you sell, if you do your own shipping, here are some things to check on right now before it gets too late or shipping prices go up:
Packing bubble wrap
Boxes in a variety of sizes
Paper for invoices
Toner/ink for printing
Thank you cards – if you do them
Tissues for packing
Plastic bags for items
This is the lull before the storm, so use this time to get prepared. I hope you have lots of sales!
I’ve made all of these marketing mistakes so you don’t have to. Not only are these marketing mistakes a waste of time, but they can also become quite expensive. Especially if you have advertising dollars attached to your promotion, which I did. Social media ads and Google ads seem like they are inexpensive, but when everything is added up, they can be costly.
While my marketing failures are all around my handmade products, these mistakes can apply to any product, handmade or manufactured, product that you want to promote and sell. Even e-books.
Here are some product promotion marketing mistakes to avoid:
No Marketing Plan
When deciding to do a promotional event like a giveaway or discount, have a plan in place that covers all of the steps leading up to launch day. A marketing plan starts with a goal.
Do you know what you’re trying to achieve with the event? Are you looking for more subscribers? Do you want to sell more products? Will you be collecting names? Or just more traffic to your website or blog?
Until you can define your goal, you can’t make a marketing plan, and without a plan, how can you measure your results?
Marketing to the Wrong Audience
If you don’t know who buys your product or reads your blog, then you’ll end up marketing to the wrong group of people, which is a waste of time and money.
Start your marketing plan by finding out who your customers are. It’s important to know things like their age group, financial situation, gender, similar interests and more.
If you’re using social media or search engine ads, you can narrow the groups down to a small, select target. It’s better to market to a small group than a broad target, and you can’t know what that small group is until you figure out who your customers are. If you want to read more about digital marketing, check out this post.
Fail to Track Your Marketing Results
When you finish your ad campaign or promotional event, you won’t know if you were successful in reaching the right people until you see the analytics from the event. If it’s a social media ad or search engine ad, then the analytics are available to you on the dashboard.
If you’re tracking traffic on your website, you should be able to tell where the traffic went and where it came from. While some web hosts make you pay for upgraded analytics, most have a basic traffic analysis on the admin panel.
You may be able to get an idea of its success rate by how many products you sold, how many people signed up or how many social media shares you got for your blog post, but they won’t tell you where the traffic came from or how they found you.
Fail to Measure Your Marketing Results
From the traffic information you get on your website, the advertising campaign or email campaign dashboards, if you don’t measure these results and apply them to your next campaign, you might as well just throw the money away.
No matter how hard you plan, how much your target your audience, how far you track your statistics and how you measure your results, some campaigns are doomed to fail. However, all you can do is tweak it and start over. Sometimes the timing isn’t right. Sometimes events out of your control happen like a hurricane hitting the place where most of your customers come from, and sometimes, your product falls flat like a deflated balloon because no one wants a trick or treat bag in June.
While taking these promotional mistakes to avoid into consideration, also consider that you aren’t the first to make a mistake. If you want to see some spectacular marketing fails, then check out this story from Eventbrite in the U.K. You are not alone.
You might find the following books helpful in creating your marketing and promotion plans. Some of them are Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read them for free as long as you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. Try out Kindle Unlimited here.
The following ecommerce marketing books are all available to read for free with the Kindle Unlimited plan, but they are also inexpensive to own.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan – Allan Dib
How to Sell on Etsy with Facebook
The Book on Facebook Marketing
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