Permission to Not Worry About SEO

When you’re researching ways to increase traffic to your site, you will be told to work on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When people ask me about this, I give them the following answer.

Do I need to think about SEO?

Yes, but in a more sideways manner than you might think.

is-seo-important

In the early days of the internet, there were only two real ways for your site to be found online. Through an old timey search engine (Altavista, anyone?) or from someone else’s site (remember when every site used to have a page called “links?” Some blogs still hold onto this tradition with a list of their faves in the sidebar).

To be listed in the search engines, you had to do a lot of the work – submitting your site by hand, and packing your site full of the words you wanted to be found by. Webmasters (boy, this post is feeling old-timey) used to cram these words at the bottom of every page on their site, sometimes hiding them (by using white text on a white background, for example). This was a low point in the history of the internet! The need for a way to categorize your site became obvious. Search engines began relying on “meta tags” hidden in the code of websites, to determine which keywords a site should be listed for.

The internet got crowded and became commercial instead of academic, and people started marketing themselves as search engine experts, who could do something special to get you to the top of the list for your target keywords. They started “keyword stuffing,” where they would enter all kinds of crazy keywords to the code of sites, causing search engine results to suffer. This bad behavior forced search engines to change and improve their methods, bringing us up to the current (ever-changing) state of searching the internet.

The web has evolved quite a bit, certain things seem vastly more reasonable, and there are some pretty simple things you can do that will increase your traffic naturally and have the side effect of improving your ranking in Google. Google now completely ignores the meta keyword tag, and instead looks for real content that people are reading.

What an improvement! Much like natural selection, Google’s selection pressure to reward good content has lead to websites that create a lot of good content. With all the competitors out there, though, how can you get ranked higher on Google?

How to improve your Google ranking organically

By “organically,” I mean by producing great content and getting it out in the world, rather than feverishly listing keywords.

1) Get mentioned on high profile sites.

Google wants to show relevant results to people searching, and they want the authorities to show up on top. If you can get a bunch of blogging bigwigs to mention and link to your site, that will be huge in and of itself, and also lead to Google having more “respect” for you. So my top advice is to spend more time pitching than fiddling around with keywords.

2) Have interesting, relevant content that people read on your site.

This is why people recommend you have a blog, though there are certainly other ways to do this. Google loves to see a constant stream of new info on  your site. If there is a keyword you want to be a top Google result for, make sure that keyword is part of  your product descriptions. Don’t go overboard with this and make your descriptions a list of keywords – Google can tell when you’re sucking up to it and may penalize you. The information that is the most interesting and helpful to customers will now help you with Google, so keep it natural. Also, remember to write on your site from your customers’ point of view. You want the wording on your site to match their searches.

3) Paid advertising.

You can always pay Google to show your site at the top (or side) of the search results, with the “ad” designation. You can also use their “retargeting” ad service to show your ad to people who have visited your site before. Remind them of what they were looking at on Facebook, and they may just wander back to buy it.

Learn other ways to promote your website

If you’d like to take the focus off of Google and get some real exposure for your business (to all the right people), check out our Pitch Kit PDF. If you’re at all confused about how to get blogs to write about what you do, this will be the best $44 you’ve spent on your business!

Also, let’s talk blogs! I’ve been putting together a detailed series of posts about blogging for your business. If you sign up for my newsletter now, you won’t miss any of this information about how to create all this great content that Google will love!

6 Tips for Doing Social Media Right: Erica Weiner on Instagram

How do you feel about social media? Love it? Confused by it? Feel like it’s a necessary evil? Are you like me,  just one person amid so many social media outlets that you don’t feel like you can do great on more than one at a time? I got fed up with Facebook long ago, could never maintain much interest in Twitter, and for the last year have been focusing my efforts on Instagram.

Instagram is fun! And it can be a challenge, particularly if photography is not your forte. I love finding a client of Aeolidia’s on Instagram who’s doing social media right. Erica Weiner, a jeweler in New York City, is a shining example. Erica and her team know how to tell a story!

Take a look at some example Instagram posts from their feed, and see how they’re doing social media right.

Telling a story

Instead of just showing you a pretty picture, they tell a story about the jewelry that makes people want it more and imbues it with a special value to the wearer.

Sharing behind the scenes

By showing what they’re doing behind the scenes, customers feel a personal connection to Erica Weiner when they buy a piece.

Setting rubies into these little scarabs' eyes today.

A photo posted by Erica Weiner (@ericaweiner) on

Not afraid to be unusual

The Erica Weiner team is not afraid to be weird and possibly turn away people who don’t get it. From dirty song lyrics to taxidermied bats, Erica’s personality shines strongly.

Showing their values

Not only do they tell a story about their jewelry, they also find ways to work in stories about their brand and what they stand for.

One of a kind content

They will put together photos that combine their products and their interests in a way that hasn’t been done before, creating new content that holds peoples’ interest.

Herkimer Diamond earrings + antique picture frame + typewriter + early 1900's jewelry ad.

A photo posted by Erica Weiner (@ericaweiner) on

Keeping things consistent

The Erica Weiner feed as a whole works together as a cohesive marketing piece. Everything sticks to the jewelry theme (including posts about love and style and history). Elements repeat, such as their handwriting backgrounds. It’s easy to tell when you click over to their profile what they do and who they are.

Erica Weiner on Instagram

See how it’s done

Go follow Erica Weiner on Instagram! And while you’re over there, please see us, too: Aeolidia.

How to Create Content that Connects: Your Homepage

This is the first post in a series to help you create website content that connects with your dream customer!

Every little bit of your website, from the copy to the navigation to the photos and your products, is considered “content” and is a highly valuable opportunity to grab your potential customer’s attention and draw them into your world. We’re going explore how to use all that content in a way that creates an immediate connection with them so you can start to build relationships, create trust, and make more sales!

We’ll start in the most likely first place your customers will come to your site through – your homepage.

creating content that connects

Connecting at the moment your customers land on your site: homepage content

The most important thing to consider when you’re creating your homepage content is your customer’s perspective and what their experience will be.

Take yourself out of your own head for a moment, and all the ideas exploding around the potential of what you could do with your homepage, or what you’ve heard you should do with your homepage, and instead put yourself into your ideal customer’s shoes.

Think about how you feel when you land on a new site you’ve never visited before – it’s like landing on a foreign planet. If you don’t understand what’s going on, where to go and how to get to whatever you’re interested in, if your attention isn’t immediately captured, well you can just hop back in your virtual rocket ship and be outta there in t-minus 5 seconds via the back button on your browser.

If, instead, you land in a place that captures your aesthetic interest right away, where you see familiar markers and are handed an easy map to get around with, then you’ll feel more comfortable sticking around to explore this new world for a bit.

You only have a few seconds to capture your potential customer’s interest and to help them orient themselves to your little piece of the internet world. To do this, you need to have clarity, clarity, clarity in every morsel of your content. And you want to think about the path you’d like people to take from your homepage – once they land there, where do you want them to go next? What do you want to draw their attention to most?

Let’s break these ideas down in all the different elements of your homepage…

Header 

At the very top of your homepage is generally where you’ll want your business name and logo to go, and is the very first spot to grab your visitors’ attention. Greet them with a well designed logo that is representative of your brand as a whole, and it will help draw your right people in aesthetically as well as give them immediate visual clues about what your site is all about. What does your business name and logo communicate about your brand? If it doesn’t seem to be saying what you want it to, that might be the first place to start with a homepage makeover.

The header is also the place to consider adding a tagline. A tagline can help give definition and context to your business name, and help immediately orient a new visitor by summarizing exactly what you have to offer and who you’re offering it to, in just a few simple words. This is especially important if your business name is more creative and not necessarily descriptive of what you sell – take Aeolidia, for example!

Helping your little business become a “big little” business” is Aeolidia’s tagline, and it lets you know in a millisecond that we provide services for small, indie businesses to help them grow. Bang. Clarity. Think about whether a tagline could help you better clarify your brand so those potential customers understand exactly what you have to offer from the moment they land on your site.

This is also a good spot to mention any permanent incentives you might have, like “Free shipping on orders over $100,” or “Free returns, always,” “$5 to ship anywhere in the US,” etc. You don’t have to offer such incentives, but if you do, this right at the top placement is a prime place to put it and can encourage someone to explore your site further.

Navigation

Your site’s navigation bar and/or menu are the map you hand to visitors upon arrival. You want them to be as clear and understandable as possible, which means sticking with tried and true, expected titles like, “About,” “Contact,” “Shop,” “Blog,” “Portfolio,” “Wholesale,” etc.

As creatives, we can have a tendency to want to get a little creative with everything we do, including navigation titles, but this isn’t the place to be imaginative or branded, cutesy or clever, as the goal with your navigation is to help your customer understand immediately what kind of information is hiding under that link.

For example, I call the marketing consultations I do for clients “mojo sessions,” but if I were to put “mojo sessions” as the main navigation title on my site, a visitor might be like, “Huh? What’s that? Where’s the info about the marketing consults?” because they’re not seeing the words they expect to find. Any small point where a customer might feel confused, even for an instant, is the point where they’ll potentially lose interest and click off. So, instead I have “work with me” as a navigation title, which is clear and obvious, and on that page I describe my mojo session options.

Also beware of vague titles that can be taken in multiple ways, such as “Gallery”- does that mean you have art for sale? Is it like a portfolio page? A gallery of sold items? A photo gallery of some sort? Gravitate towards what’s clear, cut & dry and easy as pie.

Main space

The main shebang of your homepage, beneath the navigation, is your place to hang a virtual welcome sign to your internet world, grab your visitors’ attention and show them where to go. This is your highest priority spot. So, if you’re a product seller, you want to get people into that shop, right? How will you grab their attention immediately and direct them there?

This is the place for big, beautiful product images, slideshows, lookbooks, portfolios, etc that show off what you have to offer in the most eye-catching way, and link directly to specific sections or items in your shop so that customers can potentially BUY them. You’re selling something, remember? Don’t shy away from that!

If you’re a service provider, this is the place to lead them to your best content, get them looking around your portfolio or the services you provide. People don’t usually buy services on a whim or as quickly as they might buy a product, more trust usually has to be built up first, so this could also be the best spot to lead visitors to sign up for your mailing list so you can stay in touch with them and start to build the relationship that will help you make sales down the road.

Whatever your main goal is with your website, use this main space to direct people right to it!

Secondary space  

Beneath your main content area is the spot to direct visitors toward your next priority goals. This could be further entrances to your shop via featured, favorite or new items. It could be a good place to direct them to your mailing list so they can stay in touch, or to lead them to your blog if you have awesome content to share or want them to learn more about the you behind the brand.

It could be a good spot for some welcome text, if you feel a greeting about what you do and why it’s unique would be helpful to orient your customers. It’s also a great place to incorporate some testimonial quotes which can often speak much louder to potential customers about your work than your own words can (we’ll talk more in depth about these later in this series!)

If you have some great press, like blog or magazine mentions, maybe you’ll want to highlight them with some graphics here. If you offer a freebie, are running a contest, or have an event coming up, put info/a graphic about it here to give it some attention!

The sky is really the limit when it comes to how you can use this area, so really consider your particular goals and your particular customer - not what you see other sites doing – and use this space to further direct your visitors’ attention where you’d most like it to go. If you can create this area to have changeable/editable elements, so it can shift as your goals shift, that’d be ideal!

Stay-in-touch system 

Of course, the main goal for your site is most likely to sell things, but it can take time to build up the relationship and trust necessary to lead to sales. That’s why it’s so important to have a stay-in-touch system to capture those potentially interested folks before they click off, never to return again. If they don’t buy right away, what’s the next best thing they can do? Give you their email address so you can contact them, stay on their brains, and start to build that relationship!

I mentioned a mailing list a couple times above, and if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to start one, as it’s really the most effective stay-in-touch system around, far beyond social media, and can help you form a familiar, intimate connection with potential customers.

The key with getting people to sign up for your mailing list through your homepage often lies in the verbiage itself. “Sign up for my newsletter” is a surefire death march to getting very few sign ups. People don’t willingly sign up for more mail to clog their already overflowing inboxes, but they will hand their email over if they feel they’ll gain something valuable in exchange. So, you want to incentivize your sign-up text, emphasize the value they’ll receive from it.

What will people get out of your newsletter? Will you offer freebies, discounts, coupons, specials? Will they be first to know what’s new, or on sale, or get behind the scenes sneak peeks? Will you offer free advice, tips, how-tos, tutorials? Will it get people inspired, or motivated?

These are the kind of specific things you want to pull out for your sign up text, so instead of “Join our mailing list,” you can try something like…

  • “Get the scoop on what’s new & on sale:”
  • “For new arrivals and subscriber only specials:”
  • “Get exclusive first peeks & discounts:”
  • “Sign up for free printables, inspiration & special sales:”
  • “Free tutorials & tips straight to your inbox:”

Be specific! Be incentivizing! And you really can leave the words “newsletter” or “mailing list” out of it entirely.

Footer 

Last but not least, the bottom of your site is for your lesser priority goals, for things that are important but not important enough to have in your main navigation or main body of the site.

Contrary to popular belief, this is where I’d recommend putting links to your social media accounts. Why? When a potential customer lands on your homepage, you have them right where you want them, right at that moment – the goal then becomes to keep them there, engage their interest, get them looking around, and hey maybe even buy something! The last thing you want to do is send them right back off to the MOST DISTRACTING SITES ON THE INTERNET where they may start following you but then forget all about what they were just looking at and spend the next hour pinning and tweeting, never to return again.

In general, you want to use social media to drive people to your site, not vice versa. Consider what your most important goals are – if, at the moment, it’s to build your pinterest following, then maybe you’ll want to draw attention to your account higher up on the page. But if your goal for right now is to sell more, then stick to social links in the footer and on your contact page. Don’t get suckered into the feeds and funnels, widgets and whatsits you see many other sites using that are eye catching, sure, but effectively sending their site traffic bye-bye.

The footer is also the place to reiterate your navigation from the top – if you have a long page, that can be helpful so your customer doesn’t have to scroll back up to navigate to the next spot. You can also include links to lesser priority info pages here that maybe aren’t in your main navigation, such as policies, shipping/returns, FAQs, etc.

This is also a great spot to include a link to your contact page, or if you’re a brick and mortar store, your shop’s address, hours and phone number would be helpful here. You can have a search bar down here (or potentially in the header if you think it’s a tool that’ll be used often on your particular site.) And of course, copyright info.

There’s always room for creativity and diversity within this general context, of course, but I hope this can help you better prioritize your goals for your homepage and really consider what path you want to lead your potential customers down and how to get them there.

Next up in the series, we’ll tackle your about page! I’ll help make it easier for you to figure out how to write about yourself and your work, and how to use your about page to connect better with the kind of customers you most want to attract, and start to build trust.

Until then, let us know in the comments if this post got you thinking differently about your homepage content, or if you have any questions!  

Moving From Etsy Successfully: Lily & Val’s Redesign

Like many creative businesses today, Lily & Val got its start on Etsy: in 2012, Valerie McKeehan fell in love with chalkboard art and began selling her hand-drawn illustrations and prints on the much-loved site. Less than a year later, sales were so strong that the shop became a full-time business. Despite moving to a Lily & Val website that they hoped would become their main online storefront, owners Val and her husband Mak noticed that about 90% of their retail business still came from their Etsy shop.

After much marketing research, PPC campaigns, and site monitoring, Lily & Val came to us for a full redesign and copy development. The goal: Help move their Etsy business to the new site, and create a web experience that entices loyal and new customers alike to fall in love and make a purchase.

home

Some of the main things Val and Mak were concerned about in their current site were messaging and navigation:

Most visitors to our website appear to have trouble understanding what we are offering. They simply browse each page, scroll up and down the products, but do not click on anything. We have attempted to fix this by updating our product photography and have seen that that does help a little, but we are still not getting the conversions that we need/expect. I feel that sight navigation is playing a huge roll in prohibiting conversions as well.

They also felt the design needed a more sales-focused approach than the one they took when originally moving from Etsy:

Visually, we would like a much simpler, feminine style with a heavy product focus. The current site was built to be a 50/50 representation of the brand itself and the products we sell. Though we want to tell the story of Lily & Val (and find that important) we do think the site needs to deliver a lot more sales.

Having worked with countless creative entrepreneurs who also got their start on Etsy and grew beyond their wildest dreams, the Aeolidia team was thrilled to help Lily & Val with this often challenging transition.

about

Our designer Christine got right to work, keeping in mind Val and Mak’s desire for a feminine, modern, “pretty-whimsy” design that’s also clean and modern. Inspired by Val’s artwork and the hand-drawn style that the brand is known for, Christine also incorporated lines, dots, and other illustrative details often found in the products. The vintage-inspired navigation menu was a work of artistry as well, both in appearance and function:

Your shop navigation is on the left side. This makes it easy for your customers to access right away all your products.

To the right of the navigation is your slideshow image with the marketing copy on top of it. I selected this image because I think these styled shots — where your customer can see your products in context — really inspire purchases.

Two additional feature areas in the form of slideshows highlight what is important for visitors to understand about Lily & Val as soon as they hit the main page.

Val and Mak loved the new design right away—many exclamation points, all caps, and virtual high-fives were enjoyed by all! In the meantime, I (resident word nerd and copywriter) was brainstorming ways to bring their story alive through copy. Val had expressed she wanted the homepage copy to be minimal, but “light and airy, written in a way that makes the user want to dig deeper into our line.”

I took a cue from their wonderful tag-line, Hand-drawn lovelies by Valerie McKeehan, to create short but concise copy that offered more specifics about their products, while still maintaining emotional appeal:

“Timeless chalkboard art, letter designs & prints. Made with love to last.”

For the About page and additional pages like Licensing Info, Val and Mak were excited for the copy to be informational and enlightening, but also reinforce their brand’s positioning:

Because the hand-crafted nature of our brand is at the forefront for us, we want the copy to feel authentic, sweet and “homey” also driving the customer to understand the Lily & Val process. A focus on Valerie as the artist is a key element. I.E. connect with Valerie, the creative force behind the Lily & Val line.

While Christine and I worked on art and copy, Aeolidia developer Jon was creating a beautiful custom Shopify site tailored to Lily & Val’s needs. He added “Favorites” capabilities so visitors can easily keep track of products that catch their eye, as well as Inventory management tools to make the process of stocking the shop more streamlined. As the site began to come together, Mak wondered if it’d be possible to add Tabs to individual product pages in order to better present information like Details or Shipping. Aside from adding this functionality, Jon made sure that it’d be something Mak could update as new products came along and walked him through the process:

You will be able to enter individual information, per product, into the details and shipping tabs on the product pages. Always enter the term “tabs” for the namespace… For the key enter either “details” or “shipping” depending on which tab you would like to enter content for.

The end result was a relaunched Lily & Val site that’s as charming in appearance and voice as it is in user experience. Mak was impressed by its fluidity and easy-of-use, while Val loved the design’s personal touches—like how Christine used Val’s hand-drawn illustrations for section headers—that truly made it their own.

lily and val mugLily & Val hustle mug

Ready to launch your own website?

Are you moving from Etsy and need an e-commerce site that’s bursting with sales and personality? Our team of designers, developers, copywriters, and marketing experts is ready to roll up their sleeves for your launch! Contact us to get started.

How to Identify & Attract your Dream Customer

Hopefully you have a good idea of your target customer, the niche you fulfill and what makes your business unique within the marketplace – good! That information is the first step into helping you better define who you’re marketing to and where to reach them, so you can narrow things down from the broad scope of “everyone.”

Even if you truly believe everyone could benefit from what you have to offer in some way, it’s just not possible to market effectively to everyone - you have to narrow the field down and get more specific in order to really take your business where you want it to go. Here is how to do that.

Who is your target customer

Customers at Renegade Craft Fair. Photo © RCF.

Narrowing down your niche

The best way to narrow down your target market is to think about not only the niche of customers you could attract who would be potentially interested in what you have to offer, but also who you WANT to attract, the type of customer who would be absolutely ideal to work with.

This is where your imagination and desires come into play to help you start to narrowly define who within that target customer range is going to be ideal for you. And I’m talking really narrow, as in boiling things down to ONE SPECIFIC PERSON - this is your dream customer.

For example: I work with independent business owners who have a web presence and need help marketing their business – that’s big, broad.

My target customer or niche, within that broader range, are makers, designers and artists who sell their work or services online, usually through Etsy, or a beautiful Aeolidia designed site built on Shopify.

That’s getting a little more specific and can help me figure out where I might be able to market to them, what their needs are and how to explain what I have to offer them a little better, but considering Etsy alone, I’m still left with 1 million+ active sellers and potential customers who fit that target. Part of me says, “Aw yeah, show me the mon-ay!” but in reality, that still incorporates way too many different types of people to be able to effectively market to, or work with, them all.

That’s where a dream customer profile comes in

Within my “creative who sells online” target customer, there’s a specific sort of person I most enjoy working with, who I really connect with and who seems to benefit from my services the most. She’s my dream customer, who I want to attract, and I have a really specific idea of exactly who she is, what struggles she’s having and how I can help.

To give you an idea of just how specific you want to get with this, here are just a few things that describe my dream customer:

She’s a thirty something, creatively self-employed woman, let’s call her Lulu (one of my cats’ names :), who works from home and lives in a unique, artistically minded city like Portland where she often shops at independent boutiques, craft fairs and farmer’s markets.

She’s very creative, not only in her business, but in every area of her life. She’s passionate about creating and loves running her business, but has so much else going on – including her partner and small child, a good group of girlfriends, a home she cherishes, hobbies she loves – that she can become overwhelmed trying to manage it all, and marketing efforts often fall to the back burner.

She’s self-aware, generally positive minded, knows who she is and what she wants from life, but is not always sure of exactly how to get there. Self-doubt can often be her biggest hindrance to achieving her goals.

She has a big vision of what her business can become, though, and is willing to do what it takes to make that a reality, but she’s currently struggling a bit, looking for direction on the steps to take to achieve that dream. She’s tired of sleepless nights spent googling and worrying and wondering what to do, and feels ready to seek help from someone she can trust.

She’s self-motivated and ready to make changes in her business, she just needs a little spark to fire her back up and a map to show her the way around the obstacles she’s currently facing. Then, she’ll be ready to take action and conquer!

Knowing your customer in this way helps with ALL your marketing 

Once you create a specific profile like this of the customer you wish to attract, it’s incredibly beneficial for all your marketing efforts.

When you know your customer’s struggles, fears, motivations, lifestyle, personality, etc, you’ll then know how to appeal directly to them in the copy on your website and product descriptions, in what you choose to share on your blog and social media. When you find blogs and mags that are good fits for your target market, you can then ask yourself, “Would Lulu read this?” to know if they’re the right one to pitch to, or advertise with.

When you know who your dream customer is, you can talk to her in her language, address her specific worries and concerns, create copy and content that acknowledges her story and lifestyle and makes her feel understood, that connects what you know she’s looking for with what you have to offer.

And when you can do that, guess what? She’ll come to you! She’ll connect! She’ll feel engaged! She’ll follow you on social media! She’ll sign-up for your newsletter! She’ll BUY! And she’ll tell her friends about you!

Ready to figure out who YOUR dream customer is?

Download the exercise by subscribing to our newsletter below and getting access to our free resources area. Print out & fill out, to create your own customer profile of your dream girl or guy. The more specific you get, the more helpful it will be in the long run. Have fun, and dream big!

Subscribe for the dream customer exercise
(subscribers: your email this week will include a link to the resources page!)

Growing My Business Online: Red Staggerwing

This post is part of our Best Next Step series, where you will hear from creative business owners like you, who are wondering what to focus on next. The background stories and questions are from all kinds of businesses in various stages of growth, and I share my ideas for how to proceed forward most efficiently and ambitiously. Today we’re hearing from Red Staggerwing.

Red Staggerwing

Business: Red Staggerwing
Owner: Lisa DeMio
Site: Red Staggerwing on Etsy

Below is a screenshot of Lisa’s Etsy shop.

Red Staggerwing's Etsy shop

Red Staggerwing’s Etsy shop

About:

Lisa DeMio of Red StaggerwingI create colorful women’s accessories that are meant for everyday use. My intent is to create a brand with a strong personality that speaks to the individual women who use my products. While I have a broad base, I can usually tell fairly fast if a woman is going to carry a RSW bag or not. I started Red Staggerwing five years ago and have doubled my sales every year! I currently sell at shows and online, with a small wholesale business as well.

Challenges:

I began in 2009, selling at small art fairs and have grown into larger national shows and will be at the American Craft Council’s flagship show in Baltimore in 2015!

In 2012, I hired some friends to help me rebrand as I felt that I wasn’t putting my best foot forward online or at shows. I had always struggled with booth design for shows and had no real logo or identity. They did a great job and I really think that’s the kick in the pants my business needed at the time. Right now I am looking to do that again, with a focus on website building. I don’t feel that my online presence reflects where I actually am in growing my business – I need to look more professional and also want to provide an online shopping experience for my customers beyond Etsy. I have very little experience or confidence in that area so I always end up feeling overwhelmed and confused – what the heck am I supposed to do with hashtags? :)

Objectives:

I would like to focus on a website and a marketing strategy after the holiday madness is over. Ideally I would have a new site in place by spring of 2015. I also need to look at pricing as I feel that at the moment I am at capacity for production if I continue to be a one-woman show. I think I will have to hire people and/or raise my prices to take my business much further financially.

Promotion:

I am currently on Facebook and Twitter and really don’t utilize those as well as I could. I mainly use them for announcements vs promotion. I could definitely use guidance in that area. (See hashtag question above)

Statistics:

I have had just over 11,000 shop views on Etsy this year and 134 sales. Some of those shop views are probably repeat browsers and the shop was virtually closed for 2 months this summer, but I am very happy with my online business. Of course, I would love to see it grow. Right now the majority of my sales are in person, at shows. I love selling in person so don’t want to change that too much, it’s just a cool thing to get real time, in person, feedback on my designs.

red-staggerwing-cosm

red-staggerwing-clutch

red-staggerwing-handb

Red Staggerwing’s Best Next Step

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for entering our Best Next Step giveaway – hoorah, you’re a winner! My thoughts follow (read them with a grain of salt, since I only have a brief outline of your business and challenges right now).

Firstly, wow, your bags are just beautiful, the photography is great, and makes me want to buy (I kind of need an Urban Tote now), and the high quality is apparent. It sounds like things keep growing steadily for you, which is great, and that you are quite certain of who your target customer is. Wonderful job so far!

Raise prices or hire help?

Since you are so busy that you are just about at capacity with how much you can make on your own, you are considering hiring help or raising prices. If you feel that you’re currently undercharging, by all means, raise prices. If you think your prices are pretty reasonable, hiring help will be a smart move. This is also a handy way to double check your pricing. Will you be able to pay someone (whether this be a single employee or a factory) to produce your bags, up to your standards, and still make the same profit? If not, you’ll want to build more labor cost into your bags, so you’re paying yourself fairly, and your new employee.

Moving from Etsy to Shopify

It sounds like you sell primarily at shows, with your online shop on Etsy providing some sales. Without decreasing the amount of shows you do, it’s time to step up the online side of your business with your own shop website. Your work almost looks too high quality for Etsy, so moving away from there and setting up your own shop takes you away from a marketplace environment where people may be comparing your pricing to others, and into your own realm, where you can make something in your style, that you control, and that is as high quality in appearance as your bags are.

Of course, we would be thrilled to create a custom website for you in the new year, with your beautiful logo. If you’d like a site by spring, know that January is our busiest time of year, and be sure to get on our schedule early on.

We like Shopify, and here is why.

If now is not the time to budget for a custom shop design, you will be able to easily add your logo to a pre-existing design theme on Shopify. Our Guided Shopify Service would be a great budget solution.

Promoting your business online

It sounds like you are promoting your work at shows, but beyond the shows, you are not making an effort to promote your business online. Pitching to blogs, magazines, and press is vital, and my best advice if you’re unsure of how to start is to purchase our Pitch Kit. Jena on our team created this for her clients, and the $44 will be the best money you ever spent on publicity once you start getting all the blog mentions and other press. You can learn more about that and purchase it directly here:

Get the Pitch Kit

Jena also offers invaluable one-on-one marketing consults, focusing on media outreach or social media, and we would love to discuss that more when you’re ready in the new year.

Best wishes for building your business online!

Thanks for the chance to learn more about Red Staggerwing. I hope this all makes sense, and I encourage you to get your website in shape, and then tell the world about it.

Are you ready for the next step?

If you’d like the power and experience of the Aeolidia team behind you, please get in touch! We would love to untangle your business priorities and take a few tasks off your hands so you can do your work. Contact Aeolidia – we never bite!

Creating a Handwriting Logo From a Signature

Rachel Post is a metalsmith and lapidarist who creates one of a kind jewelry. She cuts her own stone cabochons, and rock hounds her own material, so each piece is a very personal work of art.

When we asked Rachel about her work, she let us know:

I want people to feel a connection with my work in a way that it speaks to them. That they feel an emotional connection to the stones I use. It makes them feel special to wear it. That they know that a piece of my jewelry will be the only one out there. A connection to the earth and the world around.

Sarah worked on the designs for Rachel’s new brand identity, and as she became familiar with her work, she fell in love with the honesty in the jewelry, the way Rachel maintains the feel of rawness and natural elements. She wanted to ensure that the new logo design held that same raw and powerful feel.

The handwriting logo process

I asked Sarah about working with Rachel and she said:

Before making it to the final design, Rachel talked about what her design meant to her and how she wanted it to represent her jewellery and something I noticed pretty early on was how much of herself Rachel puts into each of her designs.

We talked about icons she liked, feelings she wanted to inspire, the process she goes through picking stones and creating her one-of-a-kind pieces. After the first round of designs I put together, it clicked for both of us that Rachel needed to be PART of her brand, not just in name but in design.

rachel post signature

She sent me several of her own hand-written signatures and from there we took a few elements from her first round of designs and matched them with a hand lettered trace of her personal signature. While she liked the idea of using owls / feathers / nature as elements in her brand, we let go of what we thought looked pretty to incorporate more depth behind the icons in her logo. The four triangle icons are the elemental symbols for fire, earth, water and air. These four elements along with Rachel herself create her beautiful products, and in the end, this made her branding a true and meaningful representation of her business.

1230-primaryThe end result is a very personal handwritten logo – one that resonates with Rachel and her customers. After the design work was complete, Rachel told us:

I appreciated the attention to details with my branding. It is a reflection of my individual style and my inspirations that I collect from nature. I commend Sarah for creating the hand lettering for my logo from my own script to make it truly my own mark.

Are you ready for a brand identity that is personal and powerful?

Our designers spend time learning about your brand and your goals so that they can create an identity that makes perfect sense for your business. If you’d like a logo that speaks to the heart and soul you put into your business, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Luxury Jewelry Packaging: Bodacious Goods

This post is part of our Best Next Step series, where you will hear from creative business owners like you, who are wondering what to focus on next. The background stories and questions are from all kinds of businesses in various stages of growth, and I share my ideas for how to proceed forward most efficiently and ambitiously. I hope you’ll enjoy these! Today we’re hearing from Bodacious Goods.

Bodacious Goods

Business: Bodacious Goods
Owner: Viola Joyner
Site: Bodaciousgoods.com
Etsy Shop: Bodaciousgoods

Below are screenshots of Viola’s websites:

Bodacious Goods' shop

Bodacious Goods’ shop

Bodacious Goods' Etsy shop

Bodacious Goods’ Etsy shop

About:

Viola Joyner of Bodacious Goods
I am a jewelry designer and created Bodacious Goods in 2014. The earrings and necklaces are hand fabricated from bronze metal and precious metal clays. The jewelry lines are created with clean simple lines that are modern and abstract.

What makes my jewelry unique is that each piece is fired in a kiln that then produces each piece slightly different every time. So each piece of jewelry is as individual as each one of my customers. No two, like people, are alike.

Bodacious Goods jewelry is created for the woman who wants to be uniquely trendy, steps to her own beat and wears accessories that are classic in style.

Challenges:

My shop has only been selling earrings and necklaces on line since August of 2014. So it is a brand new shop and up to this date, no sales have been made. I feel that since my price point on my jewelry is in the $58-$125 range, customers may be a bit hesitant to make a purchase from a shop that is new and does not have any “buzz” published anywhere.

One way to resolve this is I need to create more awareness and to build trust with my potential customers.

Another way to do this is to have my products “in front” of my customer and buyers and my goal is to have a booth at a trade show and craft fair in 2015.

Also, I think a redesign of my branding and logo to express a better message of being “Unique and Authentic Everyday!”

Objectives:

My objectives are as follows:
4th Quarter of 2014, continue to build the product lines, to have at least 60-80 products for sale.

1st Quarter 2015, get the editorial calendars of magazines/blogs and start to send out email pitches that would be a perfect fit for my jewelry. Also, send out postcards to b&m stores, to build my Stockist for wholesale.

3rd Quarter 2015 – Do NYNow trade show for wholesale customers
4th Quarter 2015 – Do Renegrade Craft Fair for retail customers

Financial Goal: My goal is to have to make over $150K in sales by year end 2015

My Internal Business Goal: To be able to feel secure that all is working towards success. To stop feeling fear of failure.

Promotion:

I am slowing promoting Bodacious Goods because at the same time, I am also expanding the product lines. My shop looks skimpy with only 24 products, all of which are earrings.

I promote on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and my own blog.

Once I have about 40 products in my shop, I will promote much more strongly. Plans also include pitching my business to PR media resources/magazines and other bloggers.

faith

madeline

cindy

Bodacious Goods’ Best Next Step

Hello Viola,

Thank you for entering our Best Next Step giveaway – hooray, you’re a winner! My thoughts follow (read them with a grain of salt, since I only have a brief outline of your business and challenges right now).

Speaking to your target client

Your website looks good (great choice to use a theme and not mess with it too much!), and your jewelry looks good, and now it’s just a matter of getting people to the website to see the jewelry, and making sure it’s all in a cohesive package that speaks to your target client.

I agree with you about the logo. If “Bodacious” is a combination of “Bold” and “Audacious,” (which Urban Dictionary tells me it is!), your current logo is too cute! You want something bodacious, uniquely trendy, and classic, none of which your current logo is.

Jewelry is a saturated market, and you need to stand out as unique (and not just by saying you’re unique, but showing it!).

Presenting a luxury product with luxury jewelry packaging

At your price point, not only does the jewelry need to be beautiful, but the packaging needs to look luxurious. Picture a Tiffany necklace with a digitally printed hang tag and a cute logo, and you’ll see that this is jarring.

The earring cards I see in your picture don’t look luxurious. The logo is too cute, the tagline is too pert (I’d lose the exclamation point, at the very least, and re-think it, because it seems vague and cliched), and the text is too close to the edges, with awkwardly rounded corners. Splurging on the tags for your jewelry (better paper stock, professional design, letterpress, foil, or a custom die cut), will wow potential customers in your pictures and impress customers and gift recipients who receive your packages.

We, of course, design logos and packaging, and I’m including some case studies below that will show you what a difference professional design will make here:

You’re a jewelry designer, not a graphic designer – it’s good to stick to what you’re best at, and hire help for the rest.

Attending shows gives you a testing ground

I agree that attending the trade show and craft fair will be valuable. Not only will you introduce your work to others, but you could see how your packaging and presentation is being received, see what price points work with what types of audiences, and learn from the experience. You can decide if they’re worth continuing to attend past the learning experience.

Add to your product line, but don’t hold off on promoting

Adding to your product line is a great idea, but don’t let your skimpy product line stop you from promoting now. Do both at once, and don’t hold off on steps that will be valuable for your business until you feel like you have enough variety.

Pitching to blogs, magazines, and press is vital, and my best advice if you’re unsure of how to start is to purchase our Pitch Kit. Jena on our team created this for her clients, and the $44 will be the best money you ever spent on publicity once you start getting all the blog mentions and other press. You can learn more about that and purchase it directly here:

Get the Pitch Kit

Keep your blog on your website

A little extra bit of advice: consider moving your blog over to Shopify. Then people can easily go back and forth without feeling like they’re leaving one site or the other, and it will be easier to get people to shop after reading your blog posts. You don’t have many posts now, so instead of struggling with the importer tool, you would just move the content over by hand, put a notice on Blogger that you’ve moved (with the new URL), and go forward with the blog all in one website.

Good luck making your brand match the quality of your jewelry

Thanks for the chance to learn more about Bodacious Goods. I hope this all makes sense, and I encourage you to get your brand and packaging in shape, and then tell the world about it. It’s a lot of work! Let me know if we can help. I can already picture your new packaging, and how it will help you set sail with the rest of these plans.

Are you ready for the next step?

If you’d like the power and experience of the Aeolidia team behind you, please get in touch! We would love to untangle your business priorities and take a few tasks off your hands so you can do your work. Contact Aeolidia – we never bite!

Pitching to Bloggers: a Lesson from Indie Untangled

Nothing makes us feel better than to launch a new website, then watch it spread its wings and fly! When you launch your site, there should be a big hubbub, all the right people should be talking about it, and you should find yourself with a steady stream of visitors – and then keep it up and grow it from there. We don’t want any dust gathering or tumbleweeds blowing by!

That is why we set up all but our most experienced clients with a consult or two with Jena on our team. She explains the ins and outs of marketing and promotion, gets personal with you about your business, letting you know exactly who to pitch to, and how. It can be hard to explain the value of these consults to people who haven’t had a chat with Jena, so it was great to get this first hand report from a client about her success in pitching to bloggers and promoting her business.

Indie Untangled brand identity by Aeolidia

Lisa Chamoff runs a website where you can get the freshest updates from yarn makers. Visit Indie Untangled here. We helped her with her business name, designed her logo, created her website, and helped her launch it with a splash. Here, she shares her experience with marketing her business.

Lisa’s Story: Pitching to Bloggers is Not Selling, but Collaboration

I decided to create Indie Untangled about a year ago, after I started reading discussions on the knitting social network Ravelry about how some of the changes at Etsy were affecting their small businesses. They were talking about finding other marketplace sites to sell their hand-dyed yarn, handmade buttons and bags, when I realized there could be a site where knitters and spinners can go just to find these products, without having to wade through (increasingly mass-produced) jewelry and other, non-knitting accessories.

But before going ahead and looking for help developing a retail marketplace, and after talking to some of my fellow knitters, I decided to start off by providing more of a useful tool than just a place to browse products. I wanted the dyers to share the stories behind their new colorways and other handcrafted items. Also, many popular dyers see their online shops sold out within minutes of putting up new skeins for sale, so I also wanted to make it easier for knitters to keep track of shop updates, giving them one place to go to find out when they’re happening, instead of wading through dozens of newsletters or keeping up with discussion threads on Ravelry.

Since my background is in writing and editing, and not web design, and because I didn’t think I’d be able to learn enough in such a short time to create the kind of site that I was looking for, I decided I needed to hire a designer and developer. I started browsing the sites of some of the yarnie people I admire, and seeing if I could find out who designed their sites. I found Aeolidia through a link on the site for Cephalopod Yarns (which sadly closed its virtual doors earlier this year) and knew I had found the perfect company to help me execute my vision.

Part of the package Aeolidia offered included “Mojo” sessions with Jena Coray, with advice about pitching my site to magazines and bloggers and handling social media. At first, I wasn’t sure if that was something I needed right away — I figured since I was often on the receiving end of pitches, and since I used social media professionally, that I was all set and should try to do this on my own — but after thinking about it, I realized working with Jena could only be helpful, since I had zero experience actually launching a brand and a website.

I’m SO glad I made that decision. Jena helped me realize that pitching, especially to bloggers and podcasters, was not so much about selling my site as it was about collaboration. One knitting blogger who mentioned my site — and who Jena suggested pitching after doing some research of her own — had knit this gorgeous sweater in a set of ombre yarns, which I ended up featuring in one of my posts. I also had a lovely experience working with A Playful Day, a podcaster who had launched a blog series about supporting indie business owners in the fiber industry. I approached her and offered to write a guest post for her series, and asked her in return to write a guest post for my blog. I’m now working with her again to promote a trunk show that I’m organizing the night before the big New York Sheep & Wool Festival in October.

As the site was in the development phase, I also came up with an idea to create custom fabric via Spoonflower out of the teal yarn ball icon that Christine had designed. One of my knitting friends, Vicki of That Clever Clementine, and an early supporter of my idea for Indie Untangled, sews project bags and notions pouches, so I approached her about making some bags to use for giveaways to launch the site. Jena provided some good advice about running an effective giveaway, including putting out one “call to action,” such as signing up for the newsletter or commenting on a blog post, rather than giving people several ways to enter at once. After getting a great response to the launch giveaway, Vicki and I decided to work together again and sell the bags through the website. The first two batches sold out, and we’re planning to sell more at the trunk show! As the site has grown, and based on the experience selling the bags, I’ve also been thinking about eventually going forward with my plans for an actual marketplace.

This kind of “collaborative marketing” is something that seems so obvious in retrospect — as a journalist, I tended to respond to personalized pitches that were tailored to me, from PR people who were willing to work with me to help craft the best story. I’ve realized that this definitely applies to marketing my own business. Of course, there have been pitches that have gone unanswered, and a blogger who at first was hesitant to promote something from someone she didn’t know, but overall my experience on the other side of the pitch email has been a positive one, and I’ve made connections with some really wonderful people.

Indie Untangled logo on Spoonflower fabric

Indie Untangled logo on Spoonflower fabric

Should You Hire Marketing Help?

Jena interviewed Lisa after her project was over to see how the marketing part of the project went:

Jena: What hesitations did you have about working with me/booking a session?

Lisa: When I first got the proposal for web design from Aeolidia, I wondered if the mojo sessions were necessary, or just a nice extra. But, after I started setting up my social media accounts and started thinking about pitching, I realized I was definitely going to need some help and I’m very glad I went forward with the sessions before I launched my site. I thought I should be able to DIY it, since social media and pitches were a small part of my professional background, but in my case, as someone just starting off with no real hands-on experience building a website and a brand, working with you was a very smart return on investment.

Jena: What changes have you noticed in your strategies to get the word out about your business since working together?

Lisa: I got a better handle on how to approach smaller bloggers about my website without feeling too sales-y.

Jena: What did you like best about our sessions together?

Lisa: I really appreciated all the research you did on my industry, and that you considered that when sharing your ideas and advice. I liked that our sessions were super productive, but also very informal. It sounds cliche, but I felt like I was talking to a very smart friend.

Jena: How have you benefited from them?

Lisa: You helped me get a good handle on what my social media priorities should be. For example, I wasn’t used to being on Pinterest so much personally, but I’ve found that it is very big in my crafty niche, and it is a lot easier — and much more fun! — to use than I’d expected. I have also looked at the mojo session PDFs as a resource in crafting my pitches.

Jena: Would you recommend my services to others, and if so, why?

Lisa: Building a web and social media presence is so challenging these days. Higher education can also be pretty pricey, and I think your personalized sessions are a very good resource for people just starting out and also crafty business owners who could use some extra help navigating the constantly-changing social media landscape.

What Questions Do You Have?

Have you successfully pitched your products to bloggers before? Where are you getting stuck? We’d be interested to write future articles to give tips on this, and of course we would love to help you out personally. Please contact me if you’d like to schedule a session with Jena. We also offer Jena’s game-changing Pitch Kit for sale directly, if you’d like to go the DIY route.

Free “Building Your Brand” Checklist

P.S.! Last week’s post about building your brand had an offer for a free checklist. Technical difficulties with the signup form may have prevented you from downloading this PDF. I’ve got that sorted out now, and you can get your checklist by joining my newsletter, below:

Get Your Branding Checklist

A. Favorite Design: An Inside Look at Working with Aeolidia

Jumping into a custom designed website project for your business is a big step, and I’m sure you’re curious about how other business owners make the decision to jump! That’s why we asked one of our recent clients if we could share her personal blog post about her project with us. It’s a fun and honest inside look into what it’s like to work with Aeolidia. Thanks so much to Amber of A. Favorite Design for letting us share her story!

Amber’s Story

Welcome to the new & improved a. favorite design website!

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After many years of hiring friends, (and friends of friends), to create our website, we finally took the plunge & hired a real company…and what a difference! Way back in February, we started interviewing companies with hopes to launch our new site in May, just in time for the National Stationery Show. Needless to say, we had some hiccups along the way. After trying to work with two different, very non-responsive companies, we had to put the project, albeit briefly, on hold. We simply needed to dedicate more time and find a company that would commit fully to the project and have a sense of urgency.

I researched many websites & kept noticing, the sites I really loved & admired, were all created by the same company. In my mind, I decided we didn’t have the budget to work with such a high profile company. However, after much frustration and coaxing from tom, (my mr. and marketing guru), we reached out to Aeolidia and I am so glad we did! From the start they were responsive to our questions, and were ready with an impressive timeline, which really helped ease our concerns. What a relief, and a huge improvement over the other companies we previously stalled with. The expertise and professionalism Aeolidia conveyed really helped make our decision much easier.

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Budget was a huge concern but to my surprise they were comparable to the other estimates we received. While it was a bit of a stretch financially, at this point in our existence, a new website, with wholesale capability was just plain necessary. I was still having reservations about the expense when coincidentally, almost the moment I decided to partner with Aeolidia, we received several emails from interested stores inquiring about a wholesale section to our website. This was a good sign we made the right decision.

To be honest, it was difficult to surrender design to someone I had never met and whose work I wasn’t familiar with. I was terribly nervous awaiting the first proof. When our designer Sarah sent us the link, I took a few deep breaths before clicking through and…it was absolutely perfect! I was smitten from the very first moment! Sarah carried our branding through flawlessly and impressed me every step of the way. This initially daunting, stressful & expensive project actually became fun. I looked forward to seeing every new update. Every solution she offered was perfect and at times I felt like we were sharing a brain, I loved it.

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I’m not going to sugar coat it, re-launching a website is a massive undertaking. I spent six and a half weeks reshooting all our products. Not to mention the time spent color correcting and editing. Fortunately, the content wasn’t from scratch, I’m very organized when it comes to work projects, and that helped a lot. I had my original outline from our first site, which I put a lot of effort into, so it really just needed tweaking. Zoe, our coder was able to import all our files from the previous site, which also saved us a ton of time. So here we are, ready to launch and I couldn’t be more ecstatic with the look and feel of our new site. I’m excited to see what our customers have to say! Please let us know your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you and more than anything we hope you enjoy the new site!

Are you ready to jump in?

If your business is ready to take the next big step, and you’re curious about working with Aeolidia, we’d love to hear from you!

This post originally appeared on the A. Favorite blog.