Your online shop has great potential, but I’m willing to bet it’s underused right now. The problem is figuring out how to get more website traffic to make your ecommerce shop more profitable.
I’ve found that the answer to this problem is straightforward:
You need more people to visit your website
You need a higher percentage of those people to buy
Get more website traffic, then make more sales.
Because the solution is simple doesn’t mean the process to get there is easy. It’s one thing to say you need more traffic and a higher conversion rate. It’s another thing to get there.
Getting more website traffic and increasing conversion rates are both long-term, ongoing projects. I’m here to help you get started with both: get more visitors to your website and get more of them to buy something.
Website traffic is how many people visit your site.
Calculate your conversion rate by finding the percentage of those visitors that purchase.
2 sales divided by 100 visitors equals a 2% conversion rate.
First, I want to explain how powerful combining more traffic with a higher conversion rate is.
Get More Website Traffic and Improve Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Many growing businesses neglect their website, because it’s working “well enough.” But have you considered that if your website is only performing half as well as it should, all your marketing efforts will be half as effective?
At a healthy 4% conversion rate, instead of 2%, every Facebook ad could make you twice the money. Every influencer mention would double in value. All your social media efforts would pay off twice as well as they are now.
Imagine you get 4,000 visitors a month at a 1% conversion rate. That’s 40 sales, and you want 200 sales per month. Here are three things you could try:
Drive more traffic: at a 1% conversion rate, you need 20,000 visitors.
Improve conversion rate: at 5%, you only need 4,000 visitors.
Do both: 20,000 visitors are now 1,000 sales at a 5% conversion rate.
Option A and Option B each increase sales by five. If you do both options (Option C), you go from 200 sales to 1,000 sales by multiplying traffic x conversion. Optimizing both results in 25 times as many sales.
To seriously boost online sales, you need these two things working in partnership. Yes, you need more traffic. But you also need to increase your conversion rate.
That’s the formula for success. So, are you ready to get started?
How Much Traffic Can You Expect?
The sky is the limit when it comes to traffic. But how do you know what is reasonable to expect?
Now that we’ve learned a bit about conversion rate, we can use that information to see how much traffic we need. Let’s assume a 1% conversion rate for a new business that hasn’t optimized their site or grown a customer base yet. How many sales do you want per month? If you want 30 sales, you’ll need 3,000 visitors in a month.
To figure out how much traffic you need, work the equation this way:(Sales you want) ÷ (Your real or expected conversion rate) = (Visitors you need)
30 sales ÷ 0.01 = 3,000 visitors
If you have a 1% conversion rate, you can’t expect ANY sales until you’re getting at least a couple hundred visitors to your site per month. When your traffic is very low, it’s often a result of a poor (or no) marketing strategy, which means your random visitors aren’t likely to become customers.
No fear, though, we’re going to get to the bottom of how to get visitors who are excited to be on your site, and ready to shop!
Get the Guide
You’ve been reading the first two chapters of my new PDF download – a document about getting website traffic, and then improving your ecommerce conversion rate to get more sales. After over 15 years of making online shops for creative businesses, I have a bird’s eye view of what works and what doesn’t. I’d like to get you on the track for success!
Included in your free downloadable PDF:
Why You Need to Consider Both Traffic and Conversion Rate
How Much Traffic Can You Expect?
What Kind of Conversion Rate Can You Expect?
Should You Focus On Traffic First, or Conversion First?
5 Ways to Get More High Quality Traffic
5 Ways to Get Press and Publicity That Leads to Sales
This thing is a meaty 31 pages, and if you’re confused at all about how to get more sales on your site, it will be enlightening. I haven’t seen advice quite like this from anywhere else. Please grab it, read it, and get in touch if you have any questions about your traffic or sales.
If you plan to apply to a juried craft show, fair or market, we’re here to answer all your questions! Our friendly friend Nicole Stevenson of Dear Handmade Life joined us in the Shipshape Collective Facebook group recently to help out.
Watch the video below, or read the transcript immediately following the resources on this page.
Why Your Craft Show Application Was Rejected
Grab the top ten reasons your craft show application was rejected that Nicole mentions right here:
Prepare For Success With Craft Shows
Nicole teaches a workshop that will get you all set, and has shared some blog posts as well:
Craft Show Success is an online workshop that gives you the tools, resources and confidence to prepare for and make the most of your time at craft shows so you can make money, build your customer base as well as your creative community plus get exposure for your brand. Whether you’ve never sold at a craft show before, have done a few, ever got that dreaded rejection email from producers or are a veteran vendor looking to sharpen your skills Craft Show Success gets you there.
Arianne: Hi everybody. We are here, live now, with Nicole Stevenson of Dear Handmade Life, and she also puts on an awesome conference called Craftcation. She has a ton of experience with crafters and craft shows and things like that. Nicole, I’d love for you to just share what your experience with crafters and craft fairs, to start off. Can we get a little back story from you?
Nicole: Sure. I, myself, am a crafter. I don’t make my living as a crafter anymore, but at one time I had a clothing line, and had a product line. I sold at hundreds, I would say 3 or 400 different craft shows during the life of my line. So I have a lot of experience as a vendor, but I also have been producing a large-scale craft show for, I think this year was our 10th anniversary. So, with my partner Delilah, who’s also my aunt, called Patchwork Show, that’s our show. We’ve produced over 60 of those shows, and then I’ve also juried art shows and all kinds of things, so I have a lot of experience from that side, too.
I work really closely with our jury for Patchwork Show. We get 1000 applications every season, so I’m the one that’s going through there, teaching our jury how to make judgment calls, what to look for, helping them formulate decisions, and coming up with the criteria for which the makers will be judged.
Arianne: Yeah. That’s great. So you’ve been the jury and you have also taught the jury. I feel like that really helps me understand something better when I’m trying to teach it to somebody else. It all starts making more sense then, so I would say you’ve got a lot of experience in deciding whether an application is a good fit or not. So, I’m curious, when you’re deciding who gets into a craft show, about how long do you spend on each application deciding if it’s a good fit or not?
Nicole: It depends on the application. One of the things that I do teach our jury is to trust your instinct, so that gut reaction. That’s the first thing.
If you’re looking at an application, usually the way that we do it it’s digital, so there’ll be a link. So the first thing we would look at is their website or Etsy shop. Right when you go there you’re going to have a gut reaction. That reaction is definitely going to be based on your personal tastes, which as a jury it can’t really be all about your personal tastes, but it’s important to take that into account, of what you think. If you’re looking and you’re thinking, “Ew, what is that?” Or “Ah, cute.”
Then once you have that initial reaction, then you need to go in and start to separate your personal opinion from the criteria that you’re looking for. So, for example, me personally, I’m not a huge beaded or precious gemstone, kind of, gold and silver jewelry person. So when I see that I can tell right away, “Yes, this is a possibility. It’s not my style but I can see that for what it is, it’s high quality.” The photos are clear, well taken. I can tell what it is. There’s a clear brand. I can see the aesthetic of the line is clear, the price point fits, etc. So those are just some of the criteria that we’re looking for. But sometimes there’ll be something that I am in love with for my personal taste but I realize the people who are coming to our show, I don’t think this vendor’s going to sell as well at the show because the guests that are coming are not 4000 Nicoles. So it might be something that I’m in love with but it’s very, very specific to someone like me.
Arianne: That’s a good thing to keep in mind. So when you’re putting on a craft show, you have a target audience there for the craft show. You know what type of people are coming, so that’s something that really needs to align with the vendors you’re selecting too. So people who are applying for a craft show, they shouldn’t be applying to every possible craft show that exists, because there are different styles of craft shows and different audiences coming. I’m sure you’re trying to see how that target customer syncs up with the target customer of the people who are going to be vending there. Because you want them to have a positive experience at the show, I’m sure, and you want the customers to have a positive experience, so that all matches up.
Nicole: For sure, and that’s a big thing that we take into account is we try to predict how the vendor will do at our show. Which is impossible in many ways, but it’s definitely part of the criteria that we take into account. Just for example, we have a craft show in Long Beach, which is a beach area, and then we have another one that’s in a downtown location, inland. Somebody, for example, that maybe does photographs of beach scenes, or does some kind of found object thing with shells or something like that, we probably wouldn’t let them into our urban location, where we may let them into our Long Beach one. We’re not only taking into account the general demographics of our show, but also the specific one per location.
Arianne: Yeah, and that makes sense. So if you get rejected with your craft show application, it doesn’t mean that there’s necessarily a problem with your business or even your application, maybe it just wasn’t a good fit with that show. It doesn’t mean you need to get discouraged, you just need to check the fit a little bit better. Are you, I feel like the answer to this is probably “no,” especially on a bigger show, but are you guys able to respond to people to give them tips about why they got rejected, or that’s just, they have to figure that out themselves?
Nicole: We’re not able to respond. Well, yes and no, actually. Over the years, over the ten years that we’ve been doing this show, I have basically compiled a list of every reason why anybody’s ever been rejected, and it’s about ten different things. I send out a form rejection letter with these ten things, and I say, “If you were rejected, 99% of the time it’s for one of these things. So, take a look at this list and see which one applies to you.” Then, I do offer a personalized review of the application, but not while we’re in the season of the show. So, I say, “If you would like specific feedback on your application, please send me your question after the shows are over, so it would be after this date.”
Arianne: That is very generous and helpful of you. So is there anything that stands out as a must-do thing for makers that want to get into a craft fair? Like, what always stands out positively when you’re looking at an application?
Nicole: Well, great branding. I know that I’m talking to the branding guru here, but your website or your Etsy shop, which includes the photographs you take of your stuff, your actual products, your branding, the aesthetic, everything, is kind of like putting on your clothes and taking a shower and brushing your hair before you go outside to meet somebody. So, if you just imagine that your website, online shop, all of those things together, that’s how we’re seeing you. So when somebody’s branding is off or their photographs are … There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking photographs with your iPhone, as long as their clear. I mean, iPhones are great now. You don’t need a DSLR anymore. But, make sure they’re clear, they’re not blurry, you’re not taking a busy background that I can’t tell which thing is your actual product.
So if all of that stuff is off, it’s like going to a job interview in your pajamas, with unwashed hair, and unwashed face, and unbrushed teeth.
Arianne: Yeah. And that’s interesting, right. The first thing you guys are looking at is the website and I feel like a lot of people get frustrated with their website. They just go, “Oh, it’s good enough.” But that’s the first thing you’re going to use to decide if it’s a good fit. So it’s definitely something … Spend a little time brushing that hair on that website.
Nicole: Yeah. And if you don’t have a website, that’s fine. I would rather have somebody not have a website and send me a link to their Etsy shop, and have a really well curated, well laid-out Etsy shop, than to have a website that says, “Under Construction.” Or you can tell that it’s their old blog and nothing’s been done to it since 2002. I would even rather have somebody just send me to their Instagram, to their business Instagram than to be looking at an out-of-date, unprofessional website.
Arianne: You want to see a well-curated collection and know exactly what you’re looking at at the start. Not digging through somebody’s blog posts.
Nicole: Yeah, and along that same line, one of the things that I’ve found has been really helpful to our jury is having a link to what a vendor’s booth looks like, set up. When the jury first goes through, vendors are categorized immediately into the following categories: “yes,” “maybe,” “no.” Then “maybe” gets expanded into: “maybe yes,” “maybe,” and “maybe no.” So anybody that’s in that “maybe” category, they’re getting a lot of attention on everything. We’ll be together looking at products and everybody’s kind of on the borderline and then we’ll hop on their Instagram and see that they happened to take a picture of their booth at a craft show, and their booth is awesome. We’re on the fence about their product but their booth is so professional, looks so great and inviting that everybody’s just like, “Yeah. Yeah. Yes.” So, if your booth is awesome, it’s helpful to have a picture of it.
Arianne: Yeah, that’s great. That’s a good idea. I feel like sometimes people get so caught up in what they’re doing that they forget to take that picture of all their hard work making the booth. So even just taking the picture so you have that for future shows is a great idea.
Arianne: So Erin is asking us what the ten things are that you send people as the 99% of reasons why they get rejected. I don’t think we need to go through all ten, because I have a bunch of questions to get to here, but maybe you could mention your top two or three that are just like, “Absolutely not. Next.”
Nicole: Photographs. That’s really what we see, photographs.
Price point. If somebody’s doing, let’s say for example, super fine jewelry that the pieces are $500, the customers that come to our show, that’s not going to work. At the same time, prices that are too low. So somebody, maybe, that’s a hobby crafter, that they’re not pricing their products according to, they’re not making a profit and they’re undercutting and underselling other vendors. Someone, for example, that’s making this coffee mug for fun and they’re like, “Oh, I’m just going to sell it for $5 because that’s what I pay for a coffee mug.” Then we have a vendor on the next row who’s making a coffee mug, who’s actually making a living at it, selling it for $15. So, prices that are too high, prices that are not properly figured out.
Not following directions.
Arianne: Yeah, that’s a big one.
Nicole: That’s super frustrating, and that can be an automatic no. Not taking the time to get to know our show and see what our aesthetic is.
Arianne: Yeah. You need a good match.
Nicole: Yeah, or to see what our requirements are. Like, we don’t accept vendors that sell, what’s it called, like a Mary Kay or a LuLaRoe or something like that where you’re reselling something that somebody else is making or designing.
Arianne: Right, like the multi-level marketing thing?
Nicole: Multi-level marketing. Yeah. So, a lot of people-
Arianne: That’s not a craft fair item for you.
Nicole: Yeah. But I would say photos. Photos, branding, researching to see if they’re a good fit, and then, I’m sure there’s one more but I can’t remember it right now.
Arianne: You probably have something about this on your blog, right?
Nicole: Maybe I can share a link after this. I don’t, but it’s something I should add. Let me see because I probably do have something on there, reasons rejected. I look it up and try to send you something to share.
Arianne: Nicole’s going to dig something up for you guys. So I have a couple questions about getting started with craft fairs. So Erin asked, “I’ve never attempted a craft fair or any live selling events,” but she’s very interested. She wants to know how you find craft fairs to attend.
Nicole: Erin, I would love to know where you live, first of all. I feel like you probably live in a pretty small place if you’re not sure where craft shows are. There’s pretty much, most major cities have a craft show. The best way to find out is Googling. I would just put in there, like let’s just say you live in Cincinnati, Ohio. So, “Cincinnati, Ohio craft show,” “Cincinnati, Ohio craft fairs,” “Cincinnati, Ohio craft festivals,” “DIY markets,” and just try a bunch of different Google terms and see what you come up with.
Oh, Sequim, I don’t know. That feels like it might be a small town.
Arianne: Sequim is out on the peninsula here in Washington, so you’d probably want to travel over to Seattle and go to the Renegade Craft Fair, which they’re doing once or twice a year now, or Urban Craft Uprising, which is the really big one we do here. I know a lot of people who will travel back and forth to Portland craft shows, as well. They’ll drive down.
Yeah, Portland’s got Crafty Wonderland and probably some other good stuff going on. So that’s a load everything into the station wagon situation I think, and see what’s going on.
Nicole: But I also think if you’re just starting out and you haven’t really done craft shows yet, and you do live in a smaller town, there might be holiday things at a local church or arts community center for you to kind of get your feet wet and get in there without having to fork out a really big booth fee, application for a larger show like Crafty Wonderland or Urban Craft Uprising, or something like that.
Arianne: That’s a good point. Even in my neighborhood in Seattle, we have the Phinney Neighborhood Association that does a little craft show in an old school house. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s a great place to get started.
Nicole: Or if you know other makers in your town, you might want to do just like a little thing at a house or something. I’ve definitely done all of those thing before. And then the other thing is you’re lucky to be in Arianne’s group. So reaching out and asking in there and just saying, “This is where I live. What are your experiences with shows? What would you suggest to a beginner?”
Erin, I’ll put a link to, we have some posts for early craft show people on our website. Oh, shoot, I forgot, I also did a whole workshop called Craft Show Success. It would be perfect for. So, I’ll make a discount code and I’ll send it to you for that. It’s really inexpensive, it’s like $45 or something.
Arianne: So, related to starting out doing craft fairs, Yolanda asks us, she says, “I’ve done several fairs last year, big and little, and I’m still perfecting my booth and methods. How many fairs are too many?” She’s worried she’s spreading herself thin, there.
Nicole: There’s never too many. I think you’ll know when you’ve done too many. One of my busiest years as a craft show seller I had three or four different people working for me, and me, all doing craft shows at the same time. So, it’d be a Saturday and my stuff would actually be at four different craft shows all over southern California. I was kind of done after that, needed to take a break, but I think the ones that you’re making money on, continue, or where you’re getting some other kind of ROI, some other kind of return on your investment. Whether it’s maybe you don’t make tons of money at a certain show but the booth fee’s only $30 and it’s only five hours, and it’s in an arts community center and they serve you free sandwiches while you’re there and everybody’s super nice, and 10% goes to charity or something, you have to look at the bigger picture and decide which shows you really want to do.
I have an evaluation thing that I go through. So after each craft show I look at, “Okay, how much money did I make? How much did this cost? What are my other returns on my investment that I got? Did I meet fellow makers? Did I connect with wholesale accounts? Did I get some press? Did I do this, did I do that?” And kind of go through there so that the next season I can whittle down that list into the ones where my effort is going the furthest.
Arianne: Yeah, that makes sense. We’ve had clients who, they’ll just do the circuit, they’ll do every Renegade Craft Fair across the country and it’s like one of their biggest income streams. Some people love doing that, and some people absolutely hate it. When I did my course this fall, the main goal of one of my students was to get out of the outdoor craft fairs and never have to sit outside in a tent again. So it also depends on your personality. Do you enjoy going out to craft fairs? Do you get energized and have a good time selling, or are you just sitting there like, “I hate my life?”
So, let’s see, I have got some good questions here about once you’re actually at the show. So Erica wants to know about show discounts, would you advise them or not advise them? She says, “The retail cost mark-up should be covering my expenses to do the show,” so of course she’d prefer not to do discounts and she doesn’t want to decrease the value of her products, so she is wondering how you feel about offering people discount at a show.
Nicole: I feel the same way that she does. She basically answered herself. I think she probably has some experience definitely doing craft shows. I think she just wants us to say that that’s okay. But I totally agree with you. The right customer isn’t going to need a discount. So just keep that in mind. The way I think about it is discounts and sales are there for a reason. If you think about a department store, they’re not just randomly like, “You know what, it’s a Sunday and it’s raining outside. Let’s just do 25% off underwear today.”
Arianne: They’re not.
Nicole: Everything is very, very, very well planned out there. They’re doing it for a reason. They’re doing a discount or sale because it’s last season’s stuff and they need to get it out of there to make room for summer bathing suits or winter coats, or whatever it is. This does actually happen in department stores, but things that are imperfect. Maybe somebody returned something and there’s a snag on it. For a maker with a smaller business, that might be you’re screen printing your T-shirt and one of the prints was a little bit crooked and it’s not perfect. Well, you can have a sale bin and have that there. I just don’t believe in random discounts. I feel like they should be strategic and planned out.
Having said that, when I was selling at craft shows I always had a two-fer discount. So, on my T-shirts, if it was, I can’t remember how much they were at this time, but if they were $25 each, they would be $25 each or two for $45. That worked out really well for me, but-
Arianne: Yeah, that makes sense, and it’s also giving you something. You’re getting people to increase their order when they might not have otherwise. Another thing I’ve seen is if somebody’s traveled a long distance, maybe they don’t want to bring all their inventory back home with them. Maybe towards the end of the show they might do a discount. That’s serving them, there’s a purpose to that. But for me as a craft show attendee, usually it’s like a one-time event that’s just happening just once per year, I’m not expecting a discount. I feel like it’s a special thing already happening for me.
Nicole: Well, and they’re saving on shipping…
Arianne: Yeah. There’s that too. Right, not only did they save a bunch of money to ship to their home and they’d have to wait. That’s great. So, let’s see here. Erica has another question. She wants creative ideas to entice her booth visitors to join her email list. She says she’s seen some interesting approaches like having a raffle for all email joiners at the end of show for a gift product. Have you seen anybody do anything interesting there?
Nicole: Yeah, I actually love the raffle idea, and I have seen people do that and that was something that I did back in the day. I definitely did the raffle thing. But I think when we’re thinking about newsletters, you have to think about why would your customer want to sign up for your newsletter. Although we are not our customers, it is helpful to think about why you sign up for a newsletter from a brand with a product line. Maybe it’s because you want to see behind the scenes, and you want that peek at that behind the scenes. Or maybe it’s because you want to see what their new product is that’s coming out. You want to be the first to see that, or you want to be the first to know about sales.
Or, one of the ways that was really helpful to me when I was getting people to sign up was, “Sign up for my email list if you want to hear about other shows like this.” Because people are at the craft show, and they’re having a really good time there. Sometimes they randomly found out about it, and I always would let people know the frequency of the emails. So, “I send out an email once a month with behind the scenes peeks, sales or discounts, or whatever, and any other local craft shows like this.” That worked really well for me and I didn’t even have to give them anything. Plus it was a very honest approach, which I think people appreciate.
Arianne: That makes sense, and I think it helps people stay on your list. Because if they only joined because they wanted something for free, you now have a list full of people that want free things, which is maybe not the best way to sell things online. So, it’s not that you should never do a raffle, but you should know that a lot of those people are probably going to unsubscribe from the list once they realize they didn’t win the freebie. They may not be interested in hearing about your upcoming show schedule or anything like that. So the more you can tie your offer to what they’re actually getting, the better.
I feel like the first step to getting people on your mailing list is first figuring out what’s fun and interesting about your mailing list. If there isn’t anything fun or interesting about your mailing list, it’s going to be really hard to sell it. Then once you do have some fun or interesting reason for people to be on your mailing list, then it’s easy to talk about it.
Nicole: Yeah, I fully, fully agree with that, and the kind of authenticity in advertising of, “This is what my newsletter is about. This is what you can expect.” Because you’re trying to build a relationship with that customer, you’re not McDonald’s where you’re just trying to get people in, get them to eat, and get them out. It’s not a business of convenience, you’re trying to build this lasting relationship with this person. So, how are you going to build that relationship? You’re going to open that conversation. You’re going to talk about yourself. You’re going to invite them to talk about themselves. You could even do things in your newsletter where you have, “Pick our next product,” and you have three products that you’re going back and forth, and really involve your customers in that creative process.
Arianne: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I’m even thinking, like for instance, if you sell scarves, you could offer people that you have 101 Ways to Wear Your Scarf, or something. That could just be an automated email they get the second they sign up for your list. Then they’re so interested and intrigued they’ll stay on there. Now you’re talking to people who are interested in scarves and fashion and it all makes sense. They’re happy to be there, you’re happy they’re there, and they might buy another scarf because now they have 101 ways to wear it.
So, okay, we have got another good marketing question. Trisha says, “I get quite a few buyers that come into my tent and ask for my card to purchase online later. What’s the best way to get the sale that day? 90% of them don’t end up placing an order.” Imagine that.
Nicole: Oh, yeah. That is such a pain in the behind about craft shows. It’s hard for me to say because as a shopper at a craft show, I’m like that too. I think you can always mention, “Sounds great. I’ll be here until five, and if you get it at the show remember you don’t have to pay for shipping.” Or just some little thing. I think the worst thing is trying to press them, like, “I’m only here today. Are you sure you don’t want to get it right now?” That’s not going to work out as well as, “Okay, sounds cool. Be here till five.” Just real casual about it. “Be here till five, you don’t have to pay for shipping if you get it here.” You know?
Arianne: Yeah. If they’re asking for your card, I would be tempted to see if they want to exchange cards. Then maybe you have a way to follow them on Instagram or be on your mailing list, or something like that, like just to keep the conversation going.
Nicole: Yeah, I actually went through a period where I didn’t have business cards on purpose. If somebody would say that I would say, “Well, I don’t have any cards but you’re welcome to sign up for my newsletter list and I’ll send that.” Or, “You’ll get a link to our website when we send out our newsletter.”
Arianne: That’s genius.
Nicole: If somebody really cared, they would sign up for it.
Arianne: Yeah, I like it. But I know what you mean, as a shopper myself, I’m often the perfect target customer for the businesses there. I see tons of things I want, but I can’t buy everything. Then I do feel like, at a craft show, you do just forge a personal connection there. So it feels bad to be like, “Oh, I love this. I love all this. Okay, but I got to go. I’m not buying anything.” So I do think you get a lot of people to make the request for your card or something like that, because there’s only so much their wallet can handle that day.
Nicole: Yeah, and it’s going to happen. I mean, think about your own experiences as … I’m talking to the person who asked this question. Think about your own experiences as a customer. When you go into a store there’s going to be stuff that you pick up, and you look at, and you like, but it doesn’t always mean you’re going to buy it.
Nicole: And sometimes there’s nothing that anybody can get you to say to buy it.
Arianne: Can you talk about Craftcation for one second?
Nicole: Sure, I love talking about Craftcation.What do you want to know?
Arianne: How about if somebody has not heard of Craftcation, what would you tell them Craftcation was all about?
Nicole: Craftcation is the annual business and makers conference that I produce with my partner Delilah in Ventura, CA. It happens once a year, every spring. Arianne will be there teaching. She’s amazing and we have over, I think, just about 200 different classes, business classes and hands on classes. Everything from how to do branding, to accounting, to finance, to website, to SEO, to any business topic, PR, that you could possibly think of. Then we have craft classes too, block printing and indigo dying and sewing, and jewelry making. There’s ten different classes happening simultaneously at any time, so you have a lot to choose from.
Then we have parties and lunches, and dinners. We have a dance party, and this year the theme is, “Thank you for being a friend,” i.e. the Golden Girls. We have yoga and meditation on the beach to feed your self-caring side, your woo side. I don’t know which side that would be. But then we also have crazy dance parties where people drink beer. There’s really something for everyone.
Our early bird registration ends, I think, February 1st. Or, it’s actually regular registration and then it goes into late registration. So if you’re thinking about coming, get your ticket before February so you can save some money. We have a private Facebook group where you can reach out and share hotel rooms to save money. We have a blog post on doing it on a budget.
Arianne: It’s just darn fun. It’s so much fun. Okay everybody, well that was really fun. If you missed the start of this you’ll be able to replay it in the Facebook group after we close out here. Thanks for coming and asking your questions. And thank you so much, Nicole.
Jeanie’s hand-painted, wooden necklaces are gorgeous, quirky, and fierce. When Jeanie started working with us at Wholesale In a Box, she had 3 stockists but wanted to grow her wholesale business.
“If I get, say, 30 store accounts, I can quit my day job. It will even out the seasonal craft market madness and I won’t have to be away from my kids 30 weekends a year.” The line, she told me, sells beautifully in her three shops but she hasn’t been able to attract the attention of other store owners. “I have a line sheet, I’m reaching out to great stores, I believe in my line—I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!”
So I asked Jeanie to send me all the materials she’s been using to reach out to stores. When I opened her line sheet, the problem was clear right away. She simply wasn’t representing her work well in it. So, over a weekend, we threw ourselves into improving her line sheet from cover to cover. And within two months, she got 4 new store accounts. She knew that if she continued like that, within a year, she’d be able to quit her day job. Jeanie was thrilled and so were we, but her story isn’t unusual.
We’ve worked with more than 250 makers at Wholesale In a Box and the truth is that for 9 out of 10 makers, their line sheet is a major obstacle to wholesale growth. Of course, a unique and high-quality product is the most important thing for any handmade line. But all else equal, makers who have 80+ stockists tend to have a much more polished, passionate, beautiful line sheet than those who struggle to grow their wholesale accounts.
The good news is that the gap between a line sheet that is in the top 5% and one that is in the bottom 95% isn’t impossible to bridge. It just means investing a bit of time in refining your line sheet and avoiding some key mistakes.
7 Key Mistakes to Avoid in Your Wholesale Line Sheet:
1) Using the same kind of line sheet for every wholesale strategy.
If you are reaching out directly to stores, your line sheet isn’t just a line sheet—it’s the entire representation of your business, in a single document. If you’re going to trade shows, then your line sheet can be a more traditional rundown of your products, without bearing so much responsibility for selling the line (since the buyer visits your booth). In each case, the line sheet is doing different jobs. With your wholesale strategy in mind, consider what job you need the line sheet to do—Sell? Convince? Remind? Provide details?—then tailor its structure and content to do that job as well as it can.
2) Not telling your story well.
People buy your products because the aesthetic, story, making process, and brand weave a story that inspires them. Sadly, makers often omit their story from the line sheet, tell their story incompletely, or tell their story inauthentically. Remember:
Use a writing style that is authentic to how you really speak.
Make sure your photos’ aesthetic matches your line’s aesthetic.
Describe your products and process in a way that draws out what is unique about them.
Craft a bio that is concise but illuminating.
Come out from behind the camera and show yourself in the studio.
3) Overlooking design.
If your line sheet is cluttered or not visually harmonious, you are not telling your story effectively. If your line sheet looks alright but is not aesthetically aligned with your products, then you’re weakening your story, too. Don’t fall into the “all or nothing” trap—invest as much as you can into making your line sheet’s design as good as you can, even if that’s not as much as you’d like to invest. (Note: it can absolutely be worth it to work with professionals like Aeolidia on a cohesive brand and design strategy. That way, you’re not reinventing the wheel with everything you create.)
4) Having bad photos.
Store owners are usually visual people. If your photos are unclear, aesthetically unpleasing, or don’t match the ethos of your line, then you are at a disadvantage. Yes, it’s hard to get perfect photos—it can be expensive and time consuming. But it’s not hard to get good photos. A few things to keep in mind:
Don’t settle for photos that are subpar in lighting, clarity, and composition.
Do include a handful of model or in-context shots of your line, in addition to the product-by-product photos.
Do ensure that the aesthetics of your photos and props “read” the same as your line’s aesthetic.
5) Being unclear and confusing.
Even if the store owner’s heart is sold on the line, if she ends up confused, then she’s not going to place an order. Make sure that your line sheet makes it crystal clear:
What the front, back, inside, outside, and sides of each product looks like.
How much each item costs wholesale, how much the store can charge retail, and what your payment, shipping, and turnaround terms are.
What each product is made out of and how the production process is the same or different across the line.
Which product name/number goes with which.
How things will be packaged and/or arrive at the store.
How to place an order.
6) Not putting yourself in the store owner’s shoes.
If there is only one thing that you take from this list, let this one be it. You have to look at your line sheet from the store owner’s perspective. For the most part, store owners are busy, multitasking, inundated with products, and under a lot of financial pressure. So your line sheet needs to quickly, simply, and beautifully tell the story of your line and answer the questions store owners have (even if subconsciously):
What is new, exciting, and meaningful about this product? How is it different from everything else I see?
Who will buy this and how will they use it?
How am I going to display these products in a way that will sell?
7) Making the store owner work for it.
Even if every other piece in in place, store owners are still busy people. So do not make her work just to review your line:
Do send her a single document (not terms, products, order form, spread out in 5 places.)
Don’t send her a 100 MB attachment that will crash her email.
Don’t make her sign up for something or create an account to see your wholesale line.
Do make sure there is an obvious, simple way to place an order.
If there’s any part of you that feels overwhelmed thinking about the above list of mistakes to avoid, remember that even small improvements to one of these categories can yield big results. Start where you are, with what you have, and improve as you go. Wherever you are in your wholesale journey, “done” is always better than “perfect.”
This post was shared with us by Emily from Wholesale In a Box, a subscription service that helps handmade businesses grow wholesale. You can learn more at wholesaleinabox.com. And until January 5, 2018, Wholesale In a Box is offering a free Wholesale Care Package to every new subscriber. Learn more here: wholesaleinabox.com/carepackage
We’re big on shopping small here at Aeolidia, and value handmade goods and well-designed products from independent small businesses. Here are some of our favorites this year: things we’ll be gifting and hoping to get. I love how these lists give you a little peek into each person’s style, as well! Which Aeolidian do you match best with?
Katherine has been working on our content marketing, creating courses and educational downloads for us, as well as writing for the blog and putting together our portfolio posts.
I’m moving away from Chicago next year after living here for 20 years. Sad face! We have an awesome maker community here that I will miss. Here are some of my favorite recent Chicago makers.
Little Fire Ceramics planter: You can’t go wrong getting someone a plant, and a pot to put it in. I’m a sucker for wood + ceramic pieces, too. I love the minimal design of these.
Po Campo bag: I’m not a cyclist, but I’m friends with so many people who are. I love Maria’s company because she makes stylish bags that are SUPER practical because they attach to bikes. And they even have a couple that aren’t super bike-centric, so you can give them to anyone in your life.
Sorry Design poster: If I could start my life over I’d be a screen print designer. I love these designs from Chicago-based Sorry Design — not your typical poster art. Classy, and I always think cool posters make the perfect gifts.
Lilla Barn dress: If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a little toddler, Lilla Barn makes the most amazing Scandinavian-inspired children’s clothing, all handmade in the U.S.A.
Ann is an Aeolidia designer, creating brand identities and websites for our clients.
I am featuring all Southern based businesses for my list.
Scout Southern Market – bracelet: Anything from Scout Southern Market from right here in Beaufort, SC. I love absolutely everything in their store and can always find the perfect gift – not to mention they have amazing Sweet Tea Floats!
Indigo Collection vintage: My friend and former co-worker started an awesome vintage shop called Indigo Collection. She carries unique and interesting pieces for the home. Another Southern based business for the win!
Candlefish candle: I love a Lowcountry small business! Candlefish started in Charleston and now has a location in Atlanta. I’m a candle lover and these are the best!
Blabla Kids doll: One of my go-to kiddo and baby gifts, Blabla. An Atlanta based knit children’s product line, their dolls are some of my son’s most treasured friends. And you can’t believe how soft they are!
Natalia is our copywriter, and helps our clients brainstorm business names, write compelling product descriptions, and describe their businesses winningly for About pages, among other things.
Floret Flower seeds: Pretty packaging + the hope of cut flowers!
Kaufmann Mercantile – rice cooker: The perfect rice cooker.
Sugar Paper notepad: For popping notes into lunches.
Flax and Twine knitting kit: fun and useful DIY kit.
Caroline helps our clients with one-on-one marketing and business consultations. When a business owner is almost-but-not-quite ready to work with us, we’ll often set her up with Caroline first, so she’ll be prepared for success.
Sugar Paper card holder: To carry my business cards in style (bonus if monogrammed!).
Rare Device – necklace: A pretty necklace simple enough for everyday.
Mapamundi Kids – book: A book to browse with my kiddos.
American Heirloom candle holder: For all those dinner parties I will someday throw.
Holly takes care of our clients and keeps all the details of projects organized. There are a lot of moving parts to a design project, and Holly keeps these under control while keeping our clients informed.
Email pop-ups. Love them or hate them, they’re well known to improve e-commerce email signup conversion rates, which is why so many online retailers use them. But writing copy for them isn’t easy! You know they’re a bit of a nuisance and you want to acknowledge that, but you also want your website visitors to sign up for your email list despite the slight annoyance. How do you convey all that in just a few lines of text?
We’ve written previously about best practices when adding an email pop-up box to your website. In that post, we included examples of pop-up email subscribe boxes that were well-written, nicely designed, and offered a compelling reason to join a list. In this post, I collected 24 additional examples of email pop-ups used by independent online retailers.
Because so many online shop owners wonder if they have to provide a discount or some type of incentive in order to get people to join a list, I divided these examples based on whether they offered a discount (or some other form of incentive), or just asked politely for people to join without offering anything. I included some of the pros and cons are of using each type of incentive (or no incentive at all) in your pop-up box, and detailed some ways you can incorporate these lessons into writing your own email pop-up calls to action.
Offering a discount is probably the easiest — and most popular — way to get people to join your list. The most common discount offers seem to be 10% off your first order or free shipping. Some retailers go as high as 15% off the first purchase or offer a flat dollars-off discount.
Easy to communicate value
Usually increases conversion rates
People sometimes join just to get the discount, then unsubscribe
You have to discount your merchandise
Some more examples of email pop-ups that offer a discount or free shipping (as you can see, this approach is very popular):
Offering a free gift to be included with a customer’s purchase is another way to add value to subscribing to an email list. The free gift is usually something small that doesn’t add too much to shipping costs. For example, a skincare brand might include a free facial mask with each purchase, or a stationery brand might throw in free stickers.
A gift adds tangible value to being on the list
The gift doesn’t have to cost you that much
Unlike offering discounts and free shipping, you have much more control over the cost of this giveaway
Hard to quickly communicate the value of the free gift (what is it, exactly?)
A handful of retailers offer a downloadable freebie as an incentive for joining an email list. This is less common in the e-commerce space as it is in the services space, but we’re beginning to see more retailers offer PDFs as email sign-up bonuses. Some examples include: recipes, checklists, calendars, and worksheets.
Except for the time it takes to create it, you’re not cutting into your bottom line by giving away content
It’s hard to communicate the value of a free PDF in just a few lines of copy
Some customers don’t think free information is as valuable as discounts or free stuff
Some retailers just don’t want to offer an incentive for joining the list. That’s okay! You don’t have to use discounts, freebies or giveaways when you ask people to join your mailing list. If you don’t offer anything as an incentive for joining, you still need to communicate the value of being on your email list. Some of these intangibles might be:
First access to sales
News of events (trunk shows, sample sales, classes, pop ups, etc.)
Sneak peeks on new products
Being part of a community
Doesn’t cheapen the value of your products or train people to expect to pay less, like discounts do.
More likely to build an engaged list of people who really do want to hear from you.
May be harder to get people to sign up without a specific offer.
One of my favorite email signup incentives (and one that I’m surprised I don’t see more often) is entering to win a contest or giveaway. I’ve seen this done using gift cards as well as product giveaways.
You control the giveaway amount and frequency, so it’s easy to budget for
Contests make it easy to communicate the value of joining the list
Some contests require you to post terms and conditions
You need to handle fulfillment and winner notifications
Once you’ve decided what your incentive is, you need to figure out how to write it into your pop-up copy. I noticed two ways retailers tend to do this: making the incentive your headline, or incorporating it into the secondary copy.
Most retailers that had tangible incentives made that incentive their headline.
Enter to win a $2,500 gift card
Get 10% off your first order
When those incentives are the first thing you read in big, bold letters, you immediately get the value of joining the list and you’re probably less likely to click away.
This is difficult to do when you’re not offering a tangible goodie. In the examples above from companies that were not offering a discount, gift, freebie or contest entry, the intangibles (early access, sale notifications, etc.) were usually mentioned in the secondary copy, not the headline. The headlines were reserved for more direct calls to action (“Join our Newsletter”), or branded greetings (“Hello, Friend,” “The Party is in Your Inbox”).
Example of Discount-Based Email Pop-Up Copy
Use your incentive in your headline.
Headline (contains incentive): Get 10% off your first order
Secondary copy: Plus updates on sales, new products, and in-store events when you join our email list.
Button copy: Sign up
Example of Non-discount Based Email Pop-Up Copy
Mention the intangible benefits in your secondary copy.
Headline: Hello there, friend.
Secondary copy (contains benefits): We’d love to send you occasional shop updates, info on sales and discounts, and party planning advice from our blog.
Button copy: Subscribe
Always Be Testing
Many of the email pop-up apps that are available for Shopify incorporate A/B copy testing as part of their suite of tools. This means you can test out copy to see which is higher converting. You can even test different incentives. (I highly recommend using the same design to test different copy so you’re comparing apples to apples.) What works well in one online shop may not work in yours, so run tests to see which incentive — and what copy — converts the most visitors from your site to your email list.
What incentive are you currently using to entice people to join your email list? How is it performing? Have you ever thought about trying a new approach, or simply rewriting your pop-up copy to better communicate the value of being on your list? We’d love to hear from you!
We get questions all the time about the capabilities and limitations of Shopify blog design. Shop owners want to know: can I make a Shopify blog look exactly how I want it to? This includes: colors, logos, fonts, social links, graphic elements, etc. They also want to know if their blog will function how they want it to. Can I add an email signup to the sidebar? Can we embed our Instagram feed? The short answer to all this is yes, you can make a Shopify blog look and function any way you like. It all depends on the level of customization you want to invest in.
Picking a Shopify Theme vs. Using a Custom Theme
Your first choice is simple: do you want to use an out-of-the-box theme, or invest in a custom a Shopify blog design?
To help determine the answer to this question, ask yourself:
How important is it that your blog’s design exactly matches your shop’s brand?
How actively are you using your shop’s blog as a sales and marketing tool, both to acquire and convert customers?
The answers to these questions are based on your specific business goals. If blogging is an important part of your marketing strategy and design is important to your brand, you might want to think about investing in a custom Shopify blog design.
An out-of-the-box theme is less expensive, but it’s usually limited in its customization options, which includes where certain important elements are displayed within your blog design. If you’re not planning to use your blog as a sales tool or you haven’t nailed down your shop’s branding yet, a custom blog design might not be as important to you.
Limitations of Shopify Themes for Blogging
All of Shopify’s themes have blogging capabilities, but some themes have more built-in blog functionality than others. If you’re going to use a Shopify theme without any customization, check whether its blog capabilities will work for your needs. You can do this by carefully reading the theme descriptions and checking out examples of Shopify stores using that theme to blog.
Customizing a Shopify Blog Design
Customizing a Shopify blog design opens up a lot of options. In fact, if you have a custom theme created for you, your Shopify blog can look pretty much however you want it to. Rather than trying to find a theme that contains all the important blog functionality you’re looking for, you can design it from the ground up.
This is particularly important for shops that plan to use a blog as a content marketing tool that drives traffic to the shop. You have a lot more control over not only what your blog looks like, but how it functions as a sales tool.
Shopify Blog Design Basics
Here are some things to think about when assessing a Shopify theme’s blog functionality or considering whether you want to customize a Shopify blog design.
What do you want your blog’s homepage to look like?
What should a search results, or index page look like? Is this an important page on your blog?
Where do you want your most recent posts to appear on your website? Anywhere aside from your blog home page?
Do you want a side column? If so, what should be contained in it?
The benefit to working with a Shopify developer is that you can design your blog to look exactly how you want it while giving it the functionality you’re looking for when it comes to organizing content. We thought we’d share some recent Shopify blog designs we’ve worked on so you can get an idea of the platform’s design versatility when you’re doing something custom.
Shopify Blog Design for Jewelry Designers
For jewelry designer Dani Barbe, we designed a Shopify blog with a minimalist look and feel that matches the shop’s sophisticated branding (right down to the diamond-shaped social sharing buttons!). Because the blog is designed to sell products, we included links to the collections in the sidebar.
Love, Georgie‘s Shopify blog design also matches her jewelry shop’s branding, and like we did with the Dani Barbe blog, we included links to the shop categories. This blog also includes an email signup bar, so readers can subscribe to shop updates from the blog page.
Shopify Blog Design for a Bath & Body Brand
With Mafu, we again designed a blog that matched the shop’s branding, and we included a personal snippet about the founder in the sidebar, which helps readers connect with the brand.
Shopify Blog Design for Home Decor shop
We knew blogging was going to be very important to for Nest Interior Design, so we designed a minimal custom blog that really helps the images in each blog post stand out. We used the blog sidebar to provide some background information on the business as well as promote both archival blog content and products in the shop.
Shopify Blog Design for a Children’s Clothing Brand
The blog we designed for children’s clothing brand Well Dressed Wolf matched the shop’s branding and also had a minimal look and feel to allow the images and content in each post to stand out. Again, the blog sidebar links to popular shop categories for a seamless connection between content and product sales.
What questions do you have about Shopify blog design? How do you plan to use your blog to promote your shop? Do you think you’ll need a custom design or are you searching for an out-of-the-box solution with a Shopify theme? Let us know in the comments!
We have been showing our clients a single design concept for websites since Aeolidia’s beginning. For a few years now, we’ve been showing just one concept for logos as well. This means instead of presenting several different logo design options when revealing the work we’ve done on your brand, we only present one.
This process doesn’t mean you won’t be involved in design. Nor does it mean you could end up stuck with a logo or website design that you don’t like. Instead, it’s how we set your project up for success and satisfaction. Here, I wanted to explain why we take the single design concept approach for logos and why we think it works best for our clients.
How many design concepts should you see?
When you work with a designer, an early step is to communicate what your brand is about. Our goal is to make something just right for you, and we start with learning as much as we can about your business.
If you’re a designer or have a specific vision (many of our clients do), we have many ways to collaborate with you. We share Pinterest mood boards, use your illustrations or handwriting, and include you every step of the way.
The designer, armed with the information and ideas you’ve shared, then goes into research mode. She learns about your products, niche, competitors, and customers. Foremost in her mind are your project goals.
Next, she begins sketching, and may go through dozens of ideas and concepts before arriving at her best proposed solution to your design problem.
A few of the many logo sketch ideas for Puzzle Patterns.
Logo sketch ideas for Cajun Heritage
She then shares a design presentation with you. In this example, let’s say it’s your logo idea. Aeolidia design presentations show one logo concept to focus on, and they are detailed, with examples to help you envision your logo “in the wild.”
As the client, your job is now to review the logo design concept. You need to report back to the designer how well you feel it’s working and what revisions you’d like to see.
There will be a big difference in your experience depending on how many design ideas you’re shown. I’m sure you can imagine that needing to give feedback on 50 ideas would be quite overwhelming. In fact, it would feel like you were doing the designer’s work for her, right? She should be able to take 50 ideas and pare that down to a smaller group of good solutions.
How many would you want to see? Five? Three? Let’s say she sends you three to look at. Now you have a tricky responsibility. You’re not a logo designer (that’s why you hired one). But you’re supposed to choose now? All three would work, but the fonts are different and graphics are different.
You don’t know enough about fonts to feel confident making a choice, and the graphics look beautiful! What to do? Maybe you could ask to see Option A’s graphic paired with Option C’s font? What would that look like?
Red alert! You’re wading in muddy waters now. This almost always leads to a weak and watered down logo, when focus strays away from one idea.
We used to work this way, it was often a total mess, and we moved on to a more effective method. Here’s why.
Why we don’t believe in presenting multiple design concepts
At Aeolidia, we show you a single design concept at this stage. One design concept doesn’t mean that the designer is single minded, or isn’t open to ideas. Our designers usually sketch out dozens of ideas for you. They explore many concepts and directions, add things in, throw things out, mix and match.
It’s a tough process, and takes a trained and experienced eye. They don’t stop once they’ve pared down to a few concepts and then leave the rest of the work up to you. They continue the work they’re skilled at, and choose the one best idea to then refine with you.
I can understand why it might seem beneficial to be able to see more than one design concept. After all there is no single “right” solution, so how could a designer claim that any one is “the one?”
There are many designers that show multiple concepts. In my experience, when your designer shows you more than one concept, she already knows which is the best, and she is hoping you will pick it.
We decided to skip this risky game of giving clients choice for choice’s sake. We no longer present our 2nd and 3rd best ideas to you. Instead of leaving the work of refining a “not quite right” logo to you, the client, we put more upfront work into understanding your brand.
If we understand your brand, we can hit on one best solution out of the gate. We want to create a design that exceeds your expectations, delights your customers, and helps you meet goal after goal.
Real life examples of how well this works
We have seen outstanding results since we began focusing on one best solution. It’s now common for our designers to present a logo concept and end up with instant approval.
It’s a win when we get no revision requests from our client. Not because it makes less work for us, but because it shows that we understand the brand. It’s what we aim for now!
Here are a few recent “home run” client responses to our initial design concepts:
Miss Design Berry Shopify site launching soon!
“I LOVE it! It is so clean, straight foward, but still showcases our brand and vibe. I honestly have no feedback this point other than at the bottom where we have ‘Let’s be Friends’ the light pink behind the dark pink is giving me a weird visual effect of fuzziness so lets just switch that. Other than that, LOVE.”
“Hi! I agree with Kristin completely. I love how clean and simple the site looks, yet all the key elements are in just the right places! I’m loving the side navigation — makes so much sense.”
—The Miss Design Berry team
Logo and brand identity design for Lonestead Range.
“Oh Ann, take my breath away! This is such an amazing start, I’m having a hard time imagining it better! Okay, I will spend some time drooling over it all and give you my feedback, however I’m not sure there is anything else to say, other than AMAZING! You put in words what is in my head and heart.”
—Susan Merkle, Lonestead Range
Logo and brand identity for Puzzle Patterns.
“Oh Jess! I was feeling very confident after our chat last week and you really delivered. This is beautiful and the design is so simple and clear but I keep looking at it and seeing more and finding more to love. I am so pleased, I can’t wait to see how everything ties together from here, fabulous work! I trust your judgement and can’t wait to see your vision.”
—Aimee Randle, Puzzle Patterns
This type of reaction happens so often now that we’ve started to expect it.
What if I don’t like the initial design concept?
What if we don’t hit it out of the park on the first design concept? Are you stuck with our idea anyway? Absolutely not!
We never force a client to accept a concept, or press forward trying to revise the wrong concept. In our partnership, we are the design experts, but you are always the expert on your own business.
We take that seriously. If you don’t believe our design idea will help you meet your goals or work for your brand, we’ll start again from scratch. If the first design is not right, it’s almost always because we didn’t have all the info we needed. So we go back to the research and discovery phase, and then begin again with a stronger understanding of the project.
This is something that almost never happens. I’m devastated whenever anyone leaves Aeolidia feeling disappointed. So if it does turn out that we didn’t understand something important about your brand, of course we go back and make it right.
Every client gets multiple rounds of revisions for every piece of a project. No one is stuck with our first idea if it’s not right.
In a nutshell?
Aeolidia shares one design with you, which means you will only see our best work. Our initial presentation is in-depth and well thought out. It usually is exactly what our client needs. When it isn’t, though, we do what it takes to make sure the design is right. Even if that means going back to the drawing board a time or two.
Our clients’ satisfaction levels are through the roof. They love being able to relax knowing that they’re in good hands. We really listen to everything they tell us about their brand. We are deeply invested in helping them meet their goals.
A single best design concept not only makes the process easier for our clients, they end up with a stronger brand because of it.
Logo & brand identity design for Cajun Heritage.
“My designer, Jess, was truly magical. She delivered exactly what I envisioned, and then some! She just “got” me from the very beginning. It was like she took everything I pictured in my head, and was able to make it a reality. She was reassuring when I was hesitant during the design phase. She graciously accommodated every request that I made. I really appreciated how she designed with my ideal customer in mind. She not only gave life to my brand, she inspired me to grow my business far beyond what I imaged. She helped me envision my brand on a much larger scale.”
—Lindsey Baudoin, Cajun Heritage
Logo design for a gift company
“After a thorough interview process, customers have to trust the process and expertise by turning over the “designer” reins to Aeolidia. This isn’t a common approach and I value this because that demonstrates confidence and understanding the customer’s needs. Too many designers want the customer to be in the driver’s seat although the customer hired them to do a particular job that he/she may not be skilled at.
I view Aeolidia as platinum-level graphics design services company. If you want a design company who has extensive expertise in brand development and creating a website to reflect your brand in the best light, hire them despite the price tag! They are worth every penny spent.”
—Patricia, Indigo Ember
What about you?
Have you worked with a designer before? I’d love to hear about your experiences. What works best for you? What would you have done differently, or what did you learn along the way? What questions do you still have about this process? Contact me if you’d like to talk more, or see how well this will work for your business.
Shipping charges have a major impact on shopping cart abandonment in online shops. If you have big goals for your conversion rate, you have to be proactive about choosing a shipping rate strategy that makes customers happy while ensuring you’re not losing a ton of money on free or flat rate shipping.
Choosing a shipping rate strategy that works for your shop
There are two major factors that cause people to abandon carts over shipping charges.
Not knowing what shipping will cost
Thinking shipping is too expensive
You don’t have to jump immediately to free shipping to keep customers from leaving your site, you just want to pick a shipping rate strategy that is easy to understand and feels reasonable. If a customer is buying a bar of soap for $8, they might not want to pay $9.25 to have it shipped.
Let’s examine your options for dealing with customer skittishness around shipping.
Use a shipping calculator
With a shipping calculator, customers can provide their shipping details to get an estimate of shipping costs before checkout.
Customers understand exactly what their shipping charge will be
You pass the shipping charge on to the customer
No shipping calculator is 100% accurate
Shipping is expensive, so customers can still get sticker shock from shipping rates, leading to abandoned carts
Offer flat rate shipping
With flat rate shipping, you charge a single, uniform amount for shipping no matter where the customer is located or what they order. (You can offer a different flat rate for international orders.)
Flat rate shipping is easy for customers to understand
You make an extra margin on shipping small items that cost less to ship than the flat rate
You can lose money for shipping single large items
Customers don’t want to pay flat rate for small items
Offer free shipping over a certain order value
By offering free shipping on orders totaling more than a certain dollar amount, you encourage customers to order more. If customers don’t reach the free shipping tipping point, you can charge a flat rate for shipping or use a shipping calculator. You should aim to set the dollar amount of your free shipping threshold higher than your average order value (AOV), if you know it. This way you don’t give away free shipping on order totals you’d likely hit anyway, and over time, your shipping rate strategy can help increase your AOV.
Customers might order more to for more savings
Over time, your AOV increases as customers strive for free shipping
You lose money on shipping for high-value orders, especially bulky ones
If you sell high-priced items, it’s too easy for customer to hit your free shipping threshold
Offer free shipping on all orders
Free shipping is the clearest shipping rate strategy and the one that makes customers the most happy, but it leaves you eating all the shipping costs.
Customers love free shipping, so your cart abandonment rates will stay low
Conversion rates on sites that offer free shipping are typically higher
You have to find a way to absorb shipping costs or lose money on shipping
You can’t use “free shipping” as a sales incentive if you offer it all the time
Our favorite shipping rate strategy
After years of helping clients determine which shipping rate strategy they should use in their shop, we’ve hit on a favorite that seems to work for most shops most of the time.
We like the combination of offering free shipping on orders totaling slightly over your average order value, and combining that approach with a flat rate shipping on orders that do not meet the free shipping threshold.
Why this approach works
We’ve already talked about why offering free shipping over a certain dollar amount encourages shoppers to load up their carts to higher than your normal AOV (which is awesome for you). But by charging a reasonable flat rate for orders that don’t meet the threshold, you also encourage customers to add more to their cart as they try to get the most of the flat rate.
For example, let’s say you sell natural skincare products and you offer free shipping on orders over $75. You also offer a flat $8 shipping rate on orders that don’t meet the free shipping minimum. If a customer orders a tube of lip balm, she may not feel like an $8 shipping charge is fair. But knowing it’s flat rate means she can add items to her order without increasing the shipping charge, something that is not the case for calculated shipping. So she might add another item or two just to get the most perceived value out of a shipping charge she’s already paying.
How to track and measure shipping rate metrics
While we do have our favorite, there simply is no one-size-fits-all approach to shipping for e-commerce. It depends on what you sell, who your customers are, where they’re located, how loyal they are… too many factors to count!
Whatever shipping rate strategy you choose, you should track the following over a given time period:
Your shipping costs
What you charged for shipping
What you made or lost on shipping
Cart abandonment rate (especially from the shipping page)
Overall site conversion rate
Average order values
When you know these numbers, you can easily decide whether a particular shipping rate strategy is working. You might decide a lower conversion rate is okay if your average order values are increasing and you’re not losing money on shipping.
Now it’s your turn
We would love to hear about your struggles and approaches to choosing a shipping rate strategy in your shop! What has worked for you? What questions do you have?
Online shops make a huge chunk of their annual sales during the busy holiday season. Retail sales skyrocket so predictably between Black Friday and New Year’s Day, even if you did nothing to promote or prepare for the holidays, you’d likely still see a boost in your shop sales. But if you really want to maximize sales — and limit headaches! — during the busy holiday shopping days, you need to have a plan.
We talked to a handful of seasoned online shop merchants to get their best tips for boosting holiday sales, and they all said pretty much the same thing: plan ahead. Most everyone had a version of the same strategy.
Make a holiday sales calendar that outlines key holiday shopping days with shipping cutoff dates for your shop
Plan your holiday promotions around those dates
Create all marketing collateral in advance, scheduling it if possible
Focus your time on fulfilling orders and customer service, not on last-minute promotions
Sounds awesome, right? Let’s take a dive into what it takes to execute a smooth holiday sales plan in your online shop.
Plan your marketing around key holiday shopping dates
Even if you aren’t creating promotions for big holiday shopping events, be aware of when they are. Holly Marsh, Aeolidia project manager and owner of the handmade accessories business MarshMueller, suggests avoiding Black Friday or Cyber Monday for your big holiday promotions. “I’ve found better success doing a sale either the weekend before or weekend after,” she says. “There’s usually too much noise with big TVs, Amazon deals, etc.”
Key holiday shopping dates for online retailers:
November 1st (the day we put the Halloween decorations away and the holiday decor comes out)
Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, with big brick-and-mortar shopping events dominated by big box stores)
Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving, dedicated to the concept of “shopping small”)
Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving, generally considered to be the biggest online shopping holiday)
Green Monday (a term coined by eBay to describe the second Monday of December, also a big online holiday shopping date)
Day after Christmas (December 26, and Boxing Day in Canada, when after-Christmas sales go into effect)
Determine your custom order cut-off dates
If you offer made-to-order items in your shop, you should have a cut-off date for delivery of custom goods before the holidays. Clearly communicate timelines for custom order fulfillment so customers know if they still have time for ordering custom gifts. This applies to both your online shop and selling at events.
“I usually do a craft fair in the second or third weekend in December that is my last big selling event,” says Jennifer Montgomery, owner of the online shop Paper Sushi. “I can guarantee customers who buy a custom stamp at that event that I’ll have them produced and shipped within 3-4 days. That makes Christmas delivery pretty certain and is the only reason so many people buy them at this event.”
Determine your shipping cut-off dates
Figure out when your final days will be for guaranteed holiday delivery. Include:
Holiday delivery cut-off dates for in-stock items
Holiday delivery cut-off dates for custom orders
Final day for guaranteed holiday delivery (regular shipping)
Final day for guaranteed holiday delivery (expedited shipping)
Make sure your marketing and website copy clearly communicates your shipping cut-off dates.
Don’t forget to order product packaging, too! Stock up on shipping supplies, labels, ink, business cards, and whatever else you need to get your orders out the door well in advance of the holiday rush.
Prep for holiday pop-up shops and craft fairs
What craft sales or holiday pop-ups are you planning this year? Add them to your holiday promotions calendar. To maximize holiday sales both in-person and online, your booth should:
Promote gift-y items
Have posted information about custom gift orders and shipping information (“Yes! We can ship these to your aunt in Arizona! Here’s how.”)
Be stocked with lots of business cards and print collateral that customers can include with gifts
Be stocked with gift certificates, if you offer them
Include an email signup list with incentive, like signing up for post-holiday sales alerts
Plan your marketing calendar in advance
Now that you have your important dates figured out, you can start putting together your holiday marketing calendar.
Figure out what holiday promotions you’re doing, if any
“I’ve learned not to go overboard in my holiday promotions,” says Jane Pearson of the shop Janery. “I keep my sales limited all year long, and then find that a simple 20% off, short-term promo starting on or after Black Friday is sufficient. In the past I’ve tried to be more like big box stores, even offering 50% off for Black Friday one year, and that was just silly. It devalued my brand and sales were just as good with the smaller discounts.”
So what holiday promotions will you plan on running? Some ideas:
Gift with purchase
Special holiday-only products
End-of-year clearance sales
Decide how you’ll communicate your promotions
You don’t want to scramble around at the last minute putting a panicked 20% off email together. So before the holiday season kicks into high gear, figure out how you want to tell your customers about your planned holiday promotions.
Some marketing ideas to get your holiday promos out there:
Social giving campaigns
Figure out what assets you need for promotions
Once you decide you’re going to do a 12 Days of Christmas countdown giveaway on Instagram, for example, spend time creating the images and graphics you’ll use to run your promotion. Stuff to gather beforehand:
Holiday props for staged photos
New product images
Email copy and graphics
Gather everything you need and put it together before busy holiday sales kick in!
Schedule your content in advance
To maintain your sanity during the busy holiday season, stay focused on customer service and order fulfillment, not last-minute marketing. Schedule as much of your holiday marketing content as you can in advance. This should be a lot easier now that you have everything in a calendar, planned out, and with all your assets collected already.
Schedule time for yourself, too
You might want to figure out what your own work cutoff date is for the holidays. This is a busy season for online retail, but you don’t want that business to cut into your ability to enjoy a little downtime yourself. Build your calendar so that you can take time off during the holidays, too!
Last year, Instagram rolled out a new feature called Shopping on Instagram, which allowed merchants to tag products in posts, linking them directly to product pages on their websites. But it was only available to big brands.
Starting this month, Instagram started rolling out Shopping on Instagram to the little guys, too. Thousands of Shopify merchants now have the ability to tag products on Instagram, creating a direct link in individual Instagram posts to products for sale on their websites. In other words, no more annoying “link in bio” calls to action when promoting your products on Instagram!
Why Shopping on Instagram is good for small merchants
This is a game changer for shop owners on Instagram, especially those who have lots of followers. I talked to Kristin Gonzales, owner of the online store Gigi and Max (check out their Instagram), who says she’s already seen a 14% uptick in Instagram traffic to her shop since she started using the Shopping on Instagram feature. (It’s important to note that Shopify and Google Analytics group these new Instagram product tag links with the rest of your Instagram traffic reporting, so as of yet it’s not possible to attribute a specific amount of traffic to the product tags alone.)
Because previously Instagram only supported one hyperlink per account and did not allow users to include external links in posts (they still don’t), Kristin used to use the “link in bio” workaround to direct her Instagram followers to products that were available in her shop, meaning she could talk about her products in an individual post, but if she wanted people to click through to them, she had to replace the link in her profile (which usually links to a shop URL) with a link to that specific product. Most merchants on Instagram were using this same hack, which created an extra step to view products that many shoppers didn’t bother with.
“People like to click quickly, they love easy,” Kristin says. “They do not want to go find your bio, or wait for an answer from you on where your link is. Some don’t have the time to browse the site to find the exact item they saw on Instagram.With the product tags they can easily see exactly where to go and it takes them right to the listing they need.”
Gigi and Max is using the new Shopping on Instagram feature to promote products within their feed, rather than directing followers to a “link in bio.”
Eventually this feature will be available to everyone using Instagram with Shopify, but until October 16, 2017, Shopify is only rolling out the feature to a select group of testers.
What do you need to do to get the new Shopping on Instagram feature on your Instagram account?
Use the Instagram app from an IP address in the United States
How to Take Advantage of the New Shopping on Instagram Feature
Once this feature becomes available to you, how will you use it to sell more products? Here are our thoughts so far.
Grow your following, but keep it real
The more people that follow you, the more people are likely to click through to purchase products on your website. Consider this: if a typical Shopping on Instagram post has a 0.1% conversion rate (right now we don’t have stats on this, so I’m using a lower-than-average e-commerce conversion rate) and you have 1,000 followers, you’ll make 1 sale per tagged post. But if you have 25,000 followers, you’ll make 25 sales with every tagged post, assuming the same conversion rate. This is why we’re already seeing merchants with more Instagram followers having more success (read: more sales) with the new feature than those with fewer than 5,000 followers.
But if your followers aren’t engaged, those conversion rates won’t stay the same. Your Instagram should be about making authentic connections with customers and having real conversations. People who feel connected to you are more likely to buy from you, so you could see high conversion rates from just a few hundred followers.
Work your products into your editorial content
Your Instagram feed should add substance to your shop, not just be an extension of it. Instead of simply posting photos of your products with a tag, showcase your products in context. Demonstrate them in action, showcase seasonal items, and inspire your followers with ideas that incorporate things you sell in your shop. In other words, tell a story with your products that inspires people to buy. Don’t expect people to click through and purchase from a plain ol’ product photo.
Lionheart Prints does a great job of staging product photos. Here you can see the new Shopping on Instagram tags added to a recent Instagram post.
Beautiful images still matter
Instagram is a visual channel. You can’t connect with people or grow a following if your images don’t cut the mustard. You’re also not going to sell products from Instagram if your images are dark, blurry, cluttered, or just plain meh. If you want people to buy from you, you have to inspire them, and beautiful, nicely styled images are the best way to do this.
What’s Next for Small Online Shops on Instagram
Instagram will eventually roll out the Shopping on Instagram feature to all Shopify merchants (they’ve also started working with other online platforms like BigCommerce).
We’re excited to hear what the conversion rates shape up to be for merchants using Shopping on Instagram, but in order to accurately assess how many people are buying from tags, Shopify and Instagram will have to allow specific campaign tracking of shoppable links so they don’t get lumped in with the rest of Instagram reporting. Eventually it seems like Instagram will add the ability for shoppers to check out directly from within the app.
As of right now shoppable tags are only visible to Instagram users in the United States. And you can not put tags in an Instagram ad… although we’d bet on that being an eventual offering.
Let’s hear from you
Are you using the new Shopping on Instagram feature? What do you think of it so far? What results have you seen?
Does your shop allow you to take advantage of multi-channel shopping? If not, it might be time to see what you can do with Shopify’s free trial period.