February 22, 2011

The 5 Best Tips We've Ever Been Given, Period.

Here at the Mistle and Toe camp, we love all things eco and upcycled! But how do we share that with others, and be successful in doing so? Well we are still learning as we near our 6 month mark, but here are the best tips we have been given throughout this experience. We hope they come in handy for you too!

1. Tell your story. We love a good story, and as upcyclers we find it critical to helping people understand just what "it" is and why "it" is something unique, creative, and a small piece of world-saving wonder. Telling your story isn't just about relating to people virtually, it's about helping them understand the who, what, where, and most importantly the 'why' behind you and your creations. We know all the big marketers are talking about storytelling as a "tool", but we think it something more like a necessity to the handmade, and especially the upcycling, World.

2. Photos That Shine. We admit, we have not yet mastered this, but boy when we started improving our photos did we see a difference! We were in a LOT more treasuries, and even got more pageviews of our new and improved look. There are some great tips out there for creating reflective surfaces with aluminum foil, and making your own "studio" out of poster board. This is one simple and almost no cost improvement, and if you have multiples of products it will save you a ton of time to photograph them once the right way. So consider your products and if they would do best on their own with the white-on-white combo or if colors and context settings will help, like props or "showroom" style photos.

3. With Love. People buy handmade for a great many reasons, but one of the top reasons is because the items are made with lots of love and care by the artisans themselves. So make sure when it arrives that there is a little Thank You note and it is wrapped in a way that reflects your store. We like to use 100% recycled kraft paper with found pieces of yarn to keep the impact low, reusable, and to reflect what we are all about. Some of our favorite Etsy purchases rose above the rest because of this simple act. Make them feel appreciated and they will return the favor.

4. Stay Positive. These past few years the global economy has seen the best of times and the worst of times, but staying positive and upbeat about the future and the positive difference your creations are making is really important. From Forums to Product Descriptions, there is a large and public community out there that is eager to get to know you, make sure you don't turn them away. Sales may be slow, or they may be skyrocketing, but either way you have one incredibly special thing that most other people don't. Your own little slice of heaven aka your store. Where you make the rules, you make the products, and you create the inspiration for personal decor, fashion and gifts. So keep in mind that you are sharing a piece of yourself, make sure you are putting your best foot forward, every time.

5. There Is No Such Thing As Failure. Just learnings. If something doesn't sell...at all... then you have just learned something. The "what have I learned" can be a little trickier. Is my product not "pretty" enough? Is it overpriced? Is the market saturated with similar items? Are people finding my site? Make sure you start asking questions, before you start getting down on yourself. There is so much to learn throughout this experience, and being open to learning is key in creating a successful shop. We recommend some of the forums that offers shop critiques to see things from an outsider's perspective. So stay positive and stay open!

One extra tip: Sign up for google analytics. You will not be sorry! You can see what search terms are used to find you, what products people visit the most (we know, this is on Etsy too...but wouldn't it be great to know if after you posted something on Facebook and Twitter how many people went and looked at it?), and how many unique visitors your site has every day. It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of help guides out there to get over this hump and start to really get to know your potential customers!

Best of luck and Happy Upcycling!
Tiff & Sarah at Mistle and Toe

1 comment: