Small biz how-to : HTML basics ~ 5 commands you should know

HTML BASICS
headless chicken by barbaranashop on etsy

headless chicken – artwork by barbaranashop on etsy

{here}

 

Do you look at other people’s blogs and sites and sigh wistfully at how fab they look and wonder how they get it looking like that? Are you scared witless by all the techy stuff, and just go with whatever the program spits out for you? What the hell is “html” anyway?

 

You don’t have to be scared of html – the basics are easy peasy! And a few simple words of code can really make your text
pop.

 

There’s lots of places you can use tags – in your blog posts or websites (if you’re in Blogger, there’s an “HTML” button at the top left of your “compose” screen, or if you’re in WordPress, use the “text” tab at the top right of the screen), on your emails and so on. You can also use it in a lot of the comment boxes that are on other people’s sites (you can do it on my blog here – read the rest of this post and then go ahead and leave me a formatted comment, I dare you! 🙂 ).  Once you know what to look for, you’ll find lots more places to use it too!

HTML stands for “hypertext markup language” and is basically a coding language that tells the computer how to format your screen page – where to put images, and what your text should look like (big, small, colourful). It operates with a system of tags that are used within a very specific set of rules, or syntax.

Tags are the various commands you can use in html and are always written inside the symbols “<” and “>”, and syntax is the order they are required to be written in for them to work properly. Each tag has two parts – one to show when the special formatting starts, – <command>, and one to show when it ends – </command>. For instance, when I’m writing something and I want to make the word “large” bigger,  I would write the html like this :

<big>large</big>

and it would look like this – large.

Easy, right?

 

So here are my absolute favourite tags that I use all the time.

1. Bold or italic :

In lots of places, changing your text to bold or italic is as simple as clicking on the “B” or “I” button at the top of your page. But what that actually does in html is insert tags – for bold, html uses the tags <b> and </b> ; italic uses <em> and </em>.

 

2. Text size :

There are a few different ways to change the the text size (including using headings of course!), but at its simplest, you can make the text small by using the tags <small> and </small> (great for subtexts); and making it larger by using the tags <big> and </big> for something that’s important, but not quite worthy of bold or capitals.

<small>little</small> = little
<big>large</big>         = large

 

3. Centre, left and right.

Again, often these formats are easily managed with the on-screen text editor, but it’s still useful for those times when it isn’t available, like when you’re loading widgets into your side bar. Usually, the default is left-justified text. But there may be occasions when you need to actually specify it.

It all starts with the paragraph tag. This is shown as <p> (insert your choice of text here) </p>.  This will insert a paragraph break after the closing  tag.

The obvious reason to have centre, left and right in with the paragraph tag is because you can’t centre one word in a sentence, unless it’s on a different line to the next words. So, the tags become

<p style=”text-align: center;”>centre</p>

which looks like this;

 

<p style=”text-align: left;”>left</p>

which looks like this, and

 

<p style=”text-align: right;”>right</p>

which looks like this.

There are many other “style” tags to choose from too.

 

4. Colour

Colour is another very favourite thing. Sure, in many instances, your editor will have a built-in colour option, but it may only offer you a limited range of colours. You can get any colour you want by editing the hex key part of that tag – that’s the 6-letter/number combo that appears after the # in the colour tag.

The tags for crimson look like this – <span style=”color: #e31e3c;”>crimson</span>

And yellow looks like this – <span style=”color: #f9d53f;”>yellow</span>

 

5. Hyperlinks

This is THE beauty of html!!! Hyperlinks allow just about anything – images OR text – to be clickable – speeding you through the interwebs as fast as your carrier will take you….

Want to find more about nudibranchs? Click here!
Want to find out how to service your sewing machine? Click here!
Heck, do you want to find out more about tractorgirl? Well then, click here!

Hyperlinks are the bread and butter of the internet. They take the format

<a href=”[site address here]” target=”_blank”>[text]</a>.

I KNOW that looks like a big slab of stuff to remember to write, and don’t you dare get even one character in the wrong order or your link won’t work… 8(

So here’s my secret – copy and paste the hard stuff!! When something else is doing what you want it to (like a hyperlink, or some of the trickier text formatting), copy and paste the whole lot of the html, and then just edit the bits you need.

To produce the hyperlink to my Facebook page, I would write

<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/tractorgirlmakes” target=”_blank”>Facebook page</a>.

If you want to make the image clickable (like the fabulous Headless Chicken at the top of this post {btw, </head> means “the end of the head section of text”}, then you need to write this string of code, which firstly tells the editor the site address to go to when it’s clicked (shown in red), and then where to find the image (shown in green. It’s stored in my WordPress files, hence the ‘tractorgirl.com.au’ at the beginning of the address). It also tells the editor how big to make the image (570px wide x 570px high).

<a href=”http://barbarana.etsy.com” target=”_blank”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-11790″ src=”https://tractorgirl.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/html-basics-barbaranashop-etsy-headless-chicken.jpg” alt=”headless chicken by barbaranashop on etsy ” width=”570″ height=”570″ /></a>

Like I said, when it gets complicated, just cut, paste and edit – it’s absolutely what I do! So go and set up a few draft posts on your blog and have a play; the more you practise, the more sense it will make. Trust me.

 

*

OK!! got all that? Now, I want you to leave me a comment using tags. For instance, if you write <i>fabuloso!!</i> it will look like this – fabuloso! (Hey, you could even just copy and paste that red bit…) Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time – have fun and experiment! And if you use the tips above to make your blog prettier, tell me about it, and leave a link 🙂

 

Julie X

My 4 most powerful takeaways from the Artful Business Conference

My head has pretty much exploded from all the INCREDIBLE (and that is an understatement) information that I heard when I attended The Artful Business Conference last week. OH!

I was a bit sad that I could only attend virtually this year, plugged into my computer at my kitchen table. BUT from the time I logged on in the morning there was a palpable buzz in the conference room that I could feel from my kitchen … I spent the day glued to the screen.

There was SO much – from good ol’ get-down-and-get-your-hands-dirty practical advice on stuff such as using specifically targeted Facebook Ads (apparently very good value – I’ve yet to try) and reminders on working out your hourly rate and sticking to the important stuff (keep a timesheet; if you had to write down that you had spent an hour floating around Facebook then you’d think twice about doing it!), right through to the gobsmackingly-incredible-in-anyone’s-books Lisa Messenger who started with no money and no publishing experience and has now managed to author/co-author 20 books and head up the Collective Magazine, currently distributed in over 30 countries (and done heaps more than that too).

I will take the next week or two to digest it all I’m sure, and re-watch it – and I’m positive I’ll pick up even more insights. But for now, there are a few points that have really stuck.

 

“It’s Not a Tattoo”

Karen Gunton (buildalittlebiz.com) has said this before and I know she’ll say it again, and I absolutely love being reminded of it! (this quote would make a great tattoo, no!? 😉 ).

Everything about your brand – colours, fonts, logo… NONE of it is a tattoo. Don’t feel like if you put something out there, you’re stuck with it. Very definitely, plan it all out and make sure what you have is cohesive, but don’t consider that it’s been set in concrete. Get it out there! Launch it! Live with it!

As you grow and evolve, so will your brand. You’ll know when it’s time to change. You will! Just get it out there.

 

 

Upgrade your life

Denise Duffield-Thomas (LuckyBitch.com) is great. So very definitely the fun, can-do person you need to get you opening your eyes and ready to grab life and biz with both hands.  She got me thinking about several things – but the best thing was how to upgrade my life.

Many people, especially women (myself included) tend to defer things and/or make do – we don’t buy new clothes, we delay getting something fixed (including our health), or we just buy the cheaper brand. We do these things for all sorts of reasons for sure, but Denise told us that when we invest in ourselves, the results often far outweigh the reason for scrimping.

When you upgrade your life, you become more positive, happier and therefore more likely to recognise opportunity and act. You have higher expectations and achieve better results. Better than that, other people – in personal relationships and in business – respond to your energy.

Don’t live your whole life in economy class. Upgrades can be incremental – don’t feel like you suddenly have to be Oprah; and in fact, doing it a bit at a time gives you a chance to adjust and feel solid at that level. But keep going, and upgrade constantly.

 

I started upgrading my life by cleaning out my cupboards. It IS cathartic and I feel gooood.

 

 

“Tell your story. People want the hero to win.”

Valerie Khoo, founder of the Australian Writers’ Centre (writerscentre.com.au), says that stories are one of the most powerful things we can have in our business. She described to us the classic hero story, and paralleled its structure to the story of our business.

In the hero story, we as the audience always want them to win. The hero has a quest (although the goal may not always be clear at the start); but when we see them try we cheer them on, when we see them stumble and they get up again and keep going, we cheer them on more. When they stand up, determined and crystal-clear on their goal, we cheer them on. When they face more challenges, beat them and emerge transformed, we are ecstatic.

(And we soon forget those who stumble and give up.)

So take your audience along with you for the ride; they want you to win. Let them in on your story, let them spread the word; you are worthy of winning!

 

“WHY?”

As I said at the beginning, Lisa Messenger (collectivehub.com) was an absolute stand-out for me. Her message was simple and powerful.

What’s your business “Why?”

It was a message told by many of the other speakers too.

It’s about figuring out why you do what you do. What makes your heart happiest? What change do you want to see in the world?

It’s about having an absolutely unwavering belief in you and what you do. Lisa told us to “Figure out your biggest hairiest most audacious goal, and when you are clear on that, then everything else will fall into place.”

When you’re clear on your WHY but you don’t know how to do something, you’ll figure it out. When you’re clear on your WHY and you don’t have the money to back yourself, you’ll figure out a way around it. Any problem you have, when your WHY is there, you’ll figure it out.

Lisa had her WHY in buckets.

 

 *

 

At this point I must also send seriously enormous thanks to Elle Roberts (StudioExsto.com) for pulling it all together.
On behalf of everyone there, thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!!

 

It was SUCH a fabulous conference; so good to connect with others there – during the chat while the videos were streaming, and afterwards in the Facebook group. Everybody is STILL buzzing!!

 

And for me, for now, GAH!

 

my brain

 

 

One thing is certain: I am damn sure I’ll be there again next year. IN PERSON.

See you there!

Julie X

 

(And the good news is, you can STILL get Virtual Tickets to the Artful Business Conference, and that gives you access to ALL the videos from this year, a virtual goodie bag AND the recordings from the last two years as well!. Yep, get tickets here (click on the “Tickets” tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Visual biz : Monday Mini Makeovers {part 5}

Monday Mini Makeovers {part 5}transformations - this way - photo - lulus thai noodle shop - RedHedgePhotos etsy

{image – Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop by RedHedgePhotos.etsy.com}

 

Welcome to Part 5 of Monday Mini Makeovers! I hope you’re enjoying this series, but more importantly, I hope you’re learning some great stuff too! I know I am – the more I figure out what works and what doesn’t work for others, the more I learn about how I can improve my own biz. AND I get to meet some wonderful people and see some great products too!

So, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock or something and wondering what this is all about, this segment is aimed at showcasing the websites of creative micro-businesses just like yours, and giving them the once-over. For each biz I feature, I will give my honest opinion about my initial impressions of their site, with the idea that not only do these lovely people benefit from having a fresh set of eyes over their online presence, but that everyone who reads this can also get tips on how to charge up their own websites and shopfronts.

Would you like one for your biz too? You can! Monday Mini Makeovers are open to the public, so if you’ve got any sort of creative small biz and you’d like me to take a look at your online shop or website, read more about what to do here.}

OK, let’s meet this week’s lovely folk!

 

Belinda from Bell Designs

belldesigns.etsy.com

belldesigns.etsy.com

 

Hi to Belinda from BellDesigns.

Belinda has a beautifully crafted range of jewellery that she makes in her home studio on a rural property just outside Adelaide. She’s got some lovely work, and her shop is doing OK so far (excellent reviews with a 5 star rating is definitely admirable). I think just a few little tweaks will help her shop to really ‘pop’!

Most of Belinda’s work is in silver, and she has styled her product shots with various backgrounds to present a generally monochromatic theme to her whole shop – a range of white, grey or black stones, with the occasional hint of wood. This is fine, but it’s important to make sure that lots of greys don’t make it all too dark.

Starting with her shop banner, I would lighten and brighten the image; I would probably also turn up the colour saturation a little to show off the gold and make it seem a bit ‘warmer’. In the same way, several of her product images would also benefit from being brightened up a little – some of them are a bit dark, and/or need a bit more contrast to show them off.  I would probably also limit the backgrounds to two or three types – consistency makes for a neater looking shop.

‘Bell Designs’ is a lovely name, evocative of bell-like sounds and everything lyrical and beautiful. It would be great if the shop banner reflected this a bit more – think of the flowing curves of many of the jewellery designs. Inspiration might come from the flowing lines of nature, using plants like lilies and ferns as a starting point.

With regard to her Policies page, the Welcome message could be improved. Don’t send your customers elsewhere for information – it doesn’t hurt at all to repeat your happy welcome and brief intro. Customers like to see friendly and happy! There are also a few typos and grammatical errors that should be fixed. If you’re stuck for what sorts of things to include or change, go to some of your favourite Etsy shops and have a read through their policies; after reading half a dozen or more, you are bound to get a better idea of what does and doesn’t work!

I love Belinda’s photo of the country on her About page! And it’s good to include general shots of the workshop and jewellery display. Cute puppies are also always a winner in my books – but I’d suggest getting them out and about in the countryside being happy – grab a great photo of them there, to re-emphasise the rural/handmade setting and convey a sense of how much you enjoy where you are.

It’s great that you give information about caring for your jewellery in your Shop announcement, but perhaps this info could also be included elsewhere? e.g on your policies page somewhere, and most certainly in a little info sheet when you post their order.

Now to the DESCRIPTIONS of items. I’m glad you give the definition of what gold-filled jewellery actually is, and how thick the gold is. Lots of customers still have no idea and might think that it’s actually filled with gold!!

Two other things would be helpful in each product’s description.

  1. Your first paragraph is the most important one – give them a beautiful reason to want this item! If they like it, they will want to read more about it. For instance, your intro could read, “This is my most popular bracelet – called the ‘jingle-jangle’ because it makes such a wonderful sound when it’s worn!”

  2. While you give the actual measurements of each item (and note, it would be helpful to list these in both cm AND inches), we all know that bodies come in many shapes and sizes, and so a link to proper measurement guides would be very helpful. Direct them to size charts somewhere, either on the web, or offer them as a printable PDF so they can figure it out for themselves. I have also seen useful pictures that show you how low different length chains hang around your neck .

 

Phew! I know that might sound like a lot, but really, each one is a general tweak. It’s the little details that add so much to the overall finish and professional presentation – for your items AND your shop.

 

Justine from Yarn for Baby

yarnforbaby.etsy.com

yarnforbaby.etsy.com

 

Hello and welcome to Justine from YarnForBaby.

Justine makes a very cute range of clothing and accessories for babies and small kids – I encourage you to check out her Giraffe set, or the Elephant suit!

Generally speaking, this is a very lovely, fresh looking shop. The product photos are good – clean white backgrounds, and colourful, bright clear images. One thing I’ve noticed though is that there are very few images of babies wearing the items. I know it’s not practical to have photos of your items being worn for EVERY product, but think about doing it for some – especially those items that are reproducible, and are made specifically for photo shoots. It could be a good investment in your business to collaborate with a photographer and get some great shots of a few different sets being worn (perhaps set on a pale background so they fit in with the rest of your photos). Do you have friends with small children you can borrow? Previous local customers that you can contact? Having the occasional picture of a worn set interspersing the ‘standard’ images will make your shop look more interesting and add some reality/depth to what you do.

Your shop banner would benefit from a little more consideration of your shop’s style. Certainly, it’s good to see some sets being worn here, but the images should be better than just snapshots – the lighting and styling is inconsistent. Think about what the feeling is that you want to convey. A professional looking banner will have consistent styling and colouring, and will convey a mood and say something about your shop – the logo and product images for a discount store are very different to that of a boutique. Spend some time looking around other online stores in your niche, and take notes of what you do and don’t like.

Justine’s About page gives an excellent description of who and what she is, and how much crochet means to her. If she could add the same enthusiasm and passion to her Policies’ “Welcome” section, that would be awesome! It doesn’t have to be more than 1 or 2 sentences, but it would really lift it.

Getting yourself noticed is not just about having a good-looking shop either (although it’s certainly part of it). When you use Social Media, really USE it! Share things from around the internet that interest you; ask questions (not just about your products) – get your customers to talk about themselves, and get a sense of community happening. There are lots of other ways to connect with customers online too – I talk about a few here and here.

fabric dot

Now it’s over to you readers again!

How did YOU go with all of that?

Can you think how the suggestions I’ve made today could be applied to your biz? What would you change? What would you keep the same? Have I still not solved your problem for your biz? Maybe the previous Monday Mini Makeovers  might help. And as always, if you’ve got a specific question let me know in the comments below. – I’m more than happy to help anytime!

AND, if you would like a Mini Monday Makeover on your biz, you can join in too – all you have to do is pop me a line at info@tractorgirl.com.au, with a link to your shop. If you want more information about how the MMMs work, you can read about them here.

See you then!
Julie X

Small biz how-to : Monday Mini Makeovers {part 4}

Monday Mini Makeovers - caterpillars and butterflies

{undergoing renovations – photographer unknown}

 

Welcome to Part 4 of Monday Mini Makeovers! This is where I showcase some websites of creative micro-businesses just like yours, and give them the once-over. {And hey, I know it’s Tuesday’n’all, but life’s sometimes messy… ha! so apologies 🙂 }

For each biz I feature, I will give my honest opinion about my initial impressions of their site, with the idea that not only do these lovely people benefit from having a fresh set of eyes over their online presence, but that everyone who reads this can also get tips on how to charge up their own websites and shopfronts.

{And if you’d like to get involved yourself, you can! Monday Mini Makeovers are open to the public, so if you’ve got any sort of creative small biz and you’d like me to take a look at your online shop or website, read more about what to do here.}

OK, let’s meet this week’s lovelies!

 

Sonia from Happy Spirit Handmade

MMM - happyspirithandmade

 

Hi to Sonia from HappySpiritHandmade.
I’m glad that you’re a happy spirit! The world needs more of it. But your shop banner needs to shine and express that too.

Your shop banner is your “Welcome to the shop”. What kind of feeling do you want to give to your customers when they step in the door?

Use some more bright, fun colour, with radiating lines, like sunshine! I think your banner feels a bit blank at the moment. I would also try some more inventive fonts. There’s oodles available for free on the internet – just have a poke around and see what you like!

Your product photos would benefit with a bit more attention. Your lovely signs don’t look at all natural sitting on a chair. If they’re intended to go on an outside wall, then see if you can find an outside wall to hang them from. Or even prop them up on a wooden fence. Spend some time shifting them around your yard and house to find the most appropriate backdrop and the best lighting. In most cases, in the shade outside in daylight is best.

Several of your photos are too dark and suffer from colour cast (they all look a little blue to me. Use Photoshop or one of the many free online image editors such as PicMonkey or Pixlr to lighten and brighten your pics. (It’s something I do to pretty much ALL of my pics – brighten them, up the contrast and then tweak the colour balance to get more realistic colour). {Jess at Create & Thrive has some AWESOME photography tips, including a case study.}

I also think your prices are too low! As makers, we often get trapped into thinking we have to ‘compete’ in the marketplace by providing our wares at the lowest possible price. This is SO wrong. You are not a sweatshop, and you are not competing with bulk-manufactured goods. By pricing your goods too low, you are also doing other makers a disservice, by reinforcing the expectations of the consumers that that is how much they should pay for handmade. Increase your prices!!

You not only have to think about how long it takes you to source the fabrics, how much the materials cost and how long it takes you to make the item, but you also need to consider the other ‘hidden’ time and effort – things such as styling and photographing your item, time spent writing descriptions and listing on Etsy; then the time spent packing and posting your orders, doing your accounts and all the rest of it. It’s a whole business that the product is only a small part of.

I’ve seen a few useful guides to pricing around the interwebs, so feel free to google around and see what others have to say. Pricing can be a very complicated and difficult part of the biz for small creative biz. Create & Thrive got several makers to say how they dealt with pricing; and Ink & Spindle gave an excellent discussion of the matter, and proposed a simple formula for the basis of figuring out your price.

 

 

Melissa  – Sweet Never Endings

MMM - sweet neverendings

 

Hi to Melissa from Sweet Never Endings. {Melissa lives just down the road from me in Griffith, NSW!}

Firstly, your logo is lovely! Pastel-y and sweet, and reminiscent of childhood treats.

But the very next thing that strikes me is your product photos. Your choice of a wooden table as background is very dark and heavy and doesn’t really suit your light and happy logo – a plain white background would probably be better. I also think that part of the problem is that your products are photographed at all odd angles, and it makes your shop seem a little untidy. Perhaps you could photograph all your products from directly above, so that they are all square? Or, you could make your products look more inviting by styling up your pics – e.g having a small bowl of the sweets next to the packets (if the branding of the sweets is important to your product). And you need MUCH more information about your products! I couldn’t even see a size for your peanut brittle.

Looking at it a bit broader, having your own .com says HEAPS about your professionalism. We’re dealing with perceptions here – and so if you include the .bigcartel.com extension which everyone knows doesn’t cost anything – well, it says something about your biz. Domain names are cheap, and web-hosting is very reasonable (and defs, shop around! There’s lots of providers out there, with varying levels of service).

I noticed you said you stock pinatas and party supplies – well, you definitely need to put these up too! Some photos of happy customers would be awesome, as would some written testimonials. It’s all part of sharing with your customers what makes you a special place; what you do that is different to everyone else. Go check out some other sites in your niche and have a good hard think about what YOU like reading on other people’s web sites; I know I always love to go straight for the “About” page.  So spruce it up! Tell a great story, and half your battle is already won.

Getting your name out and about should ALWAYS be part of your strategy.

There are lots of different social media platforms,and you need to figure out which one is best for you. Where are your customers mostly likely to hang out? Concentrate on one or two, as nobody has time to do all of them (and it’s not very productive either). Certainly, on your contact page you could include links to your Facebook page and other social media, as well as your normal email address (not everybody likes using the contact form), and your postal address, if appropriate.

Another EXCELLENT method for getting your name about is to do a few guest blog posts. You can expose your name to a whole new audience! Find other blogs in your niche, and write about some aspect of the biz that you’re involved in – a tutorial, some aspect of the biz that bugs you, something that inspires you, or even a roundup of other people’s work you admire. Also, spend time commenting on other people’s blogs – and not just naf things like “awesome!” or “love it”. Provide thoughtful feedback, and the bloggers as well as other readers and commenters will come and check you out. If your comments are interesting enough, you will have a whole new tribe of adoring fans reading your comments and  visiting your blog.

 

Enormous thanks to today’s participants! Thanks for putting your neck out there, and thanks for the opportunity to share some of your solutions.

Now it’s over to you fabulous readers again – how did you go?

Can you think how the suggestions I’ve made today could be applied to your biz? What would you change? What would you keep the same?

Have I still not solved your problem for your biz?

If you’ve got a specific question let me know in the comments below.

AND, if you would like a Monday Mini Makeover on your biz, you can join in too – all you have to do is follow the instructions over here.

Catch you next time!
Julie X

 

Small biz how-to : Monday Mini Makeovers {part 3}

closed for renovations - combustionglassworks

{image from CombustionGlassworks – here}

 

Welcome to Part 3 of Monday Mini Makeovers! Here I’m showcasing more websites of creative micro-businesses, and giving them the once-over.

For each biz I feature, I give my honest opinion about my initial impressions of their site, with the idea that not only do these businesses benefit from having a fresh set of eyes over their online presence, but that everyone who reads this can also get tips on how to charge up their own websites and shopfronts.

{And if you’d like to get involved yourself, you can! I am opening this up to the public – so if you’ve got any sort of creative small biz and you’d like me to take a look at your online shop or website, read more about what to do here.}

 

OK! Let’s get stuck in.

 

Erin Hayley of KiddieCreate

MMM - kiddiecreate

www.kiddiecreate.com.au

 

Erin and her partner have been running Kiddie Create for two years, but she says that sales haven’t picked up and neither has traffic, and they’re not sure why.

Let me start by saying that this isn’t a bad website already. It’s easy to find your way around, the branding is colourful and bright, it’s fairly easy to see what the product is. So Erin’s query made me put my very serious thinking cap on.

KiddieCreate have a slide show on the landing page; this could be used better, by showing off a variety of things that kids have made, add in some more happy faces and little hands proud of their achievements. Make it sing with their joy! Think about who you are actually appealing to as well (the busy mums, of course!) and so you could include something about what problems your product solves (e.g. how to keep thinking of new stuff to keep kiddos entertained). I would also suggest that on the slide show, all the slides should be crisp – make sure images are big enough so they don’t have to be stretched, pixelated or blurry.

One of the slides mentions Fundraising, and yet I can find no further information about it anywhere. If it’s something you do, let people know what it is, otherwise, get rid of the slide!

I couldn’t find anywhere to subscribe to a newsletter – is there one? A newsletter is an excellent way to keep in touch with previous customers, and/or keep potential customers informed about new products and developments in the business.

Add in some free printables – for instance pictures for colouring, a face mask or simple origami, to encourage more traffic to the site.

I would add more information in the “About” section – I can’t even see your names! Just some excellent photos, which demonstrate you both have children. What are your backgrounds? Do either of you have any professional experience in working with children? More importantly, why and how did you start KiddieCreate?

Tell a great story, and people are much more likely to trust you, like you, visit you and buy from you.

To generate more traffic, you need to think outside just tweaking your website. KiddieCreate are using Facebook well, with frequent postings and engaging photos, as well as Instagram and Pinterest. They could also try a variety of other strategies to get themselves out there, including guest posting on blogs in their niche, and approaching magazines and blogs to feature their products.

Your website is only one part of your overall strategy for publicity about your product. Do some research and discover what else is happening in your niche and the most likely places your customers hang out. Then hang out there with them.

 

Susan Fowler – About the Place

MMM - about the place

etsy.com/shop/abouttheplace

 

Susan has a fascinating shop full of vintage from many eras, as well as a selection of handmade cushions and other items made from vintage fabrics.

As I’ve noted in previous posts for the MMM series, when you have a shopfront on Etsy, there is a lot of Etsy’s branding which takes up the screen space, and so Susan is limited in what she can do. Having said that, I think she has done OK – her shop banner and backgrounds of the photos are fairly consistent in their use of soft greys, and she has chosen her featured items well so that they fit in with this colour scheme too. The only tiny thing I would suggest is that her shop banner looks a little blurry! – a very minor detail overall.

Her product photography is very good – I really like how she has arranged her items with a few very well chosen props – a flower here, a succulent there – great for adding a splash of colour and/or texture contrast.

I also took a look around the rest of the shop. She has written a good shop ‘About’ page – we get a solid sense of who she is, what she likes and why. Her shop policies are clear and reasonable, and she seems friendly and approachable.

If Susan is concerned about traffic to her shop (which is why she contacted me), like KiddieCreate above, I would suggest that she needs to get outside of Etsy more and find other avenues to communicate with her customers. Susan has a Facebook page, but she doesn’t use it frequently enough to be useful to her business.

Even though we all say we love to hate Facebook, we all still end up there – I know I do!! It’s a great way to connect with customers when you use it well.

The way Facebook works is that they have algorithms to sort through the most ‘engaging’ stuff (i.e. the most commented and liked) and put that into people’s feeds. So the more you interact with your customers, the more you get seen. You also are more likely to be seen by those customers that interact with you the most. So, I see posts from Colossal because they’re incredibly popular, and also from Middlemost, because I ‘like’ her posts frequently.

Susan could also do a bit of research and thinking in order to get quite specific about who her ideal customer is, then figure out where they hang out, and go there and meet them. She could find some good blogs in her niche, and then write a blogpost or two on how to look after vintage wares, what her favourite era is and why, or even how to identify various eras. There’s lots to write about vintage!

 

Sue Flewell-Smith – Ivy Rose Design Studio

 

MMM - ivy rose design studio

 etsy.com/shop/ivyrosedesignstudio

 

Sue designs and makes a range of dresses, from casual right through to the very glamorous, formal gown end of the spectrum.

She has some beautiful photographs of her more formal dresses being worn by women in the open air, and I love the natural backdrops with open skies. However, there are other photographs with a variety of backgrounds and lighting – outside against a brick wall, on the catwalk in artificial light, indoors, in a studio with a white backdrop, with and without models. The result is a real mix, and doesn’t convey a clear message about who Sue is and what her style is.

My first suggestion to Sue is this.

 

Be consistent in your photographs, in their lighting and their backdrops – it helps to create a tidy-looking shop. Your photographs are another opportunity to confirm and enhance your branding.

 

If she has easy access to the country, then take images in rural settings – they look fantastic. If that is not always possible, then in the studio as much as you can, with consistent lighting.

Looking at her garments, I would suggest that Sue’s style is more elegant and formal than casual, and that her branding and shop approach need to reflect this. You can have a very lush and beautiful looking shop, and still sell casual clothing – but in my opinion, it’s a bit harder to do the other way around. Think about what upmarket shops you’re attracted to, and why. Research how they present themselves – colours, backgrounds, fonts… then relate what they do and how they style their clothes to your own shop. Show off your best pieces!

I have also noticed that Sue has several items in blue, and several more in black – I’m not sure if this says something about the colours she is naturally drawn to, but if it does, perhaps she could use these in her branding somehow.

In her shop policies, Sue needs to think more carefully about first impressions – her “welcome” section could be much more welcoming! And it only repeats information that is shown elsewhere. The Welcome section is another great opportunity to say hi to your customer and to let them know who you are and what you’ve got to offer. Imagine you’re the customer and then go through each of your policy sections, and think about how you would react to each one, and rewrite them where necessary.

 

fabric dot

 

Thanks to all of today’s participants! I wish you all the very best.

Now it’s over to you fabulous readers again – how did you go?

Can you think how the suggestions I’ve made today could be applied to your biz? What would you change? What would you keep the same?

Have I still not solved your problem for your biz?

If you’ve got a specific question let me know in the comments below.

AND, if you would like a Monday Mini Makeover on your biz, you can join in too – all you have to do is follow the instructions over here.

Catch you next time!
Julie X