Posting Schedule

Monday - Design Inspiration
Tuesday - Tips to Know
Wednesday - Website Know-How
Thursday - End of Week Inspiration
Friday - Freebie
Saturday - Weekly Wrap-up

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What’s it Worth to You?

What a fantastic Tuesday - I've got some great ones to show off this Saturday during the weekly wrap-up! Still struggling through all the rooms in my house, searching in vain for my digital camera that has apparently gone MIA ... driving me crazy, with some of the beautiful new printed items that are coming out and I can't even show them off!

Anyway. So yeah, long design day, a break to run the hubby to an appointment, more design, and I'm finally stopping work now and moving water around the garden doing little happy dances looking at how big the cabbage and tomatoes are getting.

Today's Tuesday Tip is one that comes from the heart, and one that since I've begun putting it into use (finally following my own advice) I've already seen the rewards of. Phwew! So seriously, take a few minutes to look it over and see what you can take away from it to apply to your own business practices.

Recently, I asked for feedback on pricing my items. The question that I was asked in return most often was, “How do you price your items in the first place?” … and I had to admit that I’d been preaching something I hadn’t practiced: going beyond the numbers.

Granted, it’s been more than a year and a half since I wrote my “What to Charge for Your Etsy Products” article, but when I was asked how I priced my products, I was finding myself constantly ashamed to admit that I hadn’t even bothered following my own advice. And it’s good advice. It’s worked for lots of people. I’d somehow fallen into this whole, “We’re in an economic slump, so I really want to be as fair as possible to my customers” thing that wound up – literally – costing me so much money that I wasn't only not earning a profit, but I was putting myself in the hole.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to charge double profit. But there is one thing that I’d like you to keep in mind when you’re pricing your products: never undercharge yourself.

When you set a price on your products, it says something about what you make or represent. The price is, literally, the first indicator of value to a customer. Think about the last time you were checking out a new printer. On the one hand, we know that the $30 inkjet that prints the same number of pages in color as quickly as the $120 one aren’t all that different. Something else tells us, though, that you’re going to get a better quality, longer lasting printer at the higher price. The packaging of the high price printer really focuses on this, too, pitching the quality and uniqueness of its technology.

So it’s about perception. But it’s also about self-worth. You need to think about what your creativity and time are worth, and charge appropriately.

Here’s an exercise taken directly from the Etsy Storque that can get you going:<

Imagine if you will, a complete stranger asks you to create an item (something you currently sell in your shop). That’s not all, they want you to photograph, list and promote this item as well. Whew! “Is that all?” you ask. No, they have one more request: package that item, print a shipping label and drop it off at the post office. Now imagine they want you to do all this for the price you currently have this item listed for in your Etsy shop. Would you do it happily? Would you grumble? Would you deny this task altogether? Reality check: it’s up to you to determine the value of your time and efforts. Make sure you take a step back from your work and your prices and look at it from all angles.

Posted by Lolaness

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sweet & Sassy Design Inspiration

Gearing up for what I hope will be a very productive Monday - I've got a couple of Etsy Kits and some custom printed items to focus on wrapping up - I am doing my morning ritual of drinking coffee, browsing shops, and generally dreaming of what the day holds.

So today I'm posting early ... very early, for me, since I don't "officially" start work every day until 9. And I'm sharing the first of my "Designs to Inspire" posts this morning. I hope that it gets your creative wheels turning the way that it does mine!

Sweet & Sassy Accessories -

When looking for designs that inspire me, I always find myself most drawn to concepts that are clean, simple, and usually nature-inspired. It’s just a personal thing that is reflected in my own work.

When I ran across Sweet & Sassy Accessories, I was inspired on a couple of levels.

First, notice that the artist has taken two basic images and used this for all of her display cards. 300+ products, but they’re all beautifully coordinated on the two designs of card. This helps keep her shop and her product line look crisp and professional, and it will save her a lot on printing costs. She gets a look that works best with specific products, without trying to get cards printed for every single possibility.

The reason this pairing of displays works so well is that the one is very simple, minimalistic, and clean. It puts focus on the product by offering no competition. The second design is much more complex, very detailed and rich in color. By using all this as a “border” for the product, emphasis is placed on the product because your eye is naturally drawn to the white space. Absolute perfection.

Finally, the products themselves are graphically inspiring. Sweet soft birds in clean retro lines, little pink flowers pulled into a pair with chic white and pink fabric button centers and partially lined alligator clips, and trios of barrettes slanting across the card.

From the display to the product, the artist behind Sweet & Sassy Accessories has taken the time to make sure her product line stands out – and it does so, inspiringly.

Posted by Lolaness

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up: Blizzard of Design

This has been one of the busiest, and most inspiring, weeks I've had in quite a long time. I've worked my way through a number of projects that ranged from beautiful transparent listing ornaments to logos and a series of custom prints that should be ready for printing and assembly in the upcoming week.

As always, I'll eventually get the completed projects shared in the portfolio but here's a pretty good overview of this week's wrap-up:

1. Bower of Bliss: Transparent Listing Ornaments - I absolutely loved this project from the second it was proposed. With some very minor changes (mainly, the ability to change the color of the flowers on the second image), the first draft was exactly what was wanted, and I got to do a happy dance of celebration.

2. Charmed for Sure: Business Package - The full package Charmed for Sure received included press-printed business cards and address labels, in addition to the Etsy display graphics and editable PDF templates in the design shown ... all colors were specified by Charmed for Sure, and I've got to admit that while they're much more "warm retro" than I normally do, they suit her beautifully!

3. Legacy/Beautiful Diva: 1" round transparent stickers - The artist behind Legacy/Beautiful Diva products wanted to re brand her product line, as she didn't feel there was a consistent brand identity going on. What we wound up with were a series of 3 label designs thermal printed on transparent sticker stock that are elegant but will certainly stand out on the shelf.

4. Crafts by KJ: Custom Etsy Kit - Oh I'm loving loving loving the recent swell of projects that I've been able to use forms of damask in. I swear it's one of the most elegant, stylish, and classic pattern concepts ever invented. Paired up with this lovely silvery-blue requested by KJ, the look is simply stunning.

5. Works in Progress - In a single week, I average the completion of anywhere from 5-15 projects, including print orders that require no design work and new pre-fab lines that are added to the boutique and Etsy shop. The number varies so much because every project I work on, I communicate with the people I'm working with every step of the way. Nothing and no step of the project is considered "final" until it's been approved. So, here's a sneak peek at a few of the designs I've been working on this week but are still in progress:

Here's hoping you all have a lovely weekend filled with laughter and sunshine!

Posted by Lolaness

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reality Check

It has been several weeks since my last post, for which I apologize. I do intend to get my hiney in gear and get things back to normal - but lately, I've been so focused on an overloaded project schedule that I honestly haven't had time.

Which leads into my reality check.

I've had an accountant look over my business plan and review my products, and after an excruciating session (I'm certain I made his head hurt), he crunched down the numbers. Based on all the income and expenses, I've actually been averaging a grandiose total income of -82.57 per week.

Now I'm faced with what is, for me, a truly gut-wrenching situation. On the one hand, I have a 9-yr-old daughter that I want all the best things in life for, and I've a wonderful husband who is currently recovering from injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I absolutely love my work and I am addicted to creating things of beauty for all my loyal customers - and I refuse to be one of those designers who charge unreasonable sums just because they can.

But something has to change. I've raised the prices of my current product line very slightly (not more than $5) and will be carefully looking at the pricing on the newest products just waiting on my finding the digital camera that has mysteriously disappeared.

In the meantime, I'm going to do what I try to do with everyone who chooses to work with me: namely, to listen.

I am asking you, my customers and friends, for advice. At the end of the day, I must do something to make my business solvent but like everything else I do here, I absolutely continue to put the people I work with first. Please, let me know your thoughts and share any advice you might have on ways I can adjust pricing, enhance the quality of my products, or generally help me as I face this reality check and start going through my business from the roots up to reorganize so that I can continue doing what I love and helping beautify all the fantastic indie and small businesses as I've done for years now.

Please offer your thoughts - via comment or email, I appreciate it so very much.

Posted by Lolaness

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