Sunday, August 30, 2009
If you are building a business, you must recognize that your business is not just about you. It's about people and helping them. Think about it. For example, let's say you are a beauty products provider, when you sell a detoxifying dry skin cleanser you are not just selling a face product, you are offering help to obtain cleaner, more moisturized skin that ultimately becomes healthier skin.
Another example, let's say you sell pain relief products, you aren't just selling your clients pain management products, you are providing them with a solution so that they can have better days, more peace, a better night's rest etc. You get it right?
One of the ways I want to help others while building my own successful business is to offer free business features on this blog.
If you or someone you know is building a home business that offers: hair care, jewelry, flowers, clothing, paper products, electronics, household items, services or informational products, please feel free to post a reply. I will then request for you to send me a short personal bio , 4 images of some of your best products, and your website address. We'll take it from there.
Michelle Howard Smith is referred to as an Infopreneur Extraordinaire. She runs a multi-faceted home based business researching information related to alternative health, skin care and more.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Many businesses fail, small and large due to not understanding this critical element.
I too have struggled with understanding my target market and how to market to them. I figured that since I sell natural skin care products, my target market was women who prefer natural products. That's a broad market view and had me earning zilch. I needed to go deeper.
After some research and examining my past customers, I realized that my target market, while it may be women, it's actually women of color. Now, that's not because I'm a woman of color. It's because of the types of products I sell along with their benefits.......dry, sensitive skin and who suffers with those skin conditions the most? Women of Color! Specifically women of color in a certain income range (of which I won't share :-)
It was as if a light bulb went off. Now, that's not to say that my products are not for women of the Caucasian persuasion because they can also have dry and sensitive skin. The key to understand here is that when marketing, you can't please everybody....unless of course you are a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Finding your niche and knowing your target market BEFORE starting your business will certainly save you a lot of time and disappointment. Regardless of the fact, even if you've started your business, you can always back track (like I did) and go after your target market.
In my next post, I will share some resources that I've come across that can help you with finding your target market. Stay tuned!
Michelle Howard Smith is referred to as an Infopreneur Extraordinaire. She runs a multi-faceted home based business researching information related to alternative health, skin care, pain management and more. Michelle has helped a number of people to achieve natural pain relief, stress relief and healthier skin.
Subscribe to Michelle's The Skin Natural newsletter to receive information on black skin care and similar topics OR The Stress Less newsletter to receive tips and info on healthy living.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Rob Toth is offering a free download of his “How Can I Get Visitors To My Website” audio course, which tells you how to generate traffic, leads, prospects, opt-ins. This download consists of 4 “CDs”, a booklet , and a cheat-sheet.
You can download the e-course here: http://www.howtogetprospects.com.
Michelle Howard Smith is President of Reviyve LLC, a distributor of stress and alternative pain relief products. Subscribe to the Stress Less Newsletter to receive stress management tips, alternative health info and exclusive offers for subscribers only.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
- Kathy, tell us a little about why you decided to start your own business?
I worked in the insurance field for many years. In 2007 I became unable to work outside the home anymore due to chronic back problems. After several failed attempts at finding a legitimate work from home JOB, I decided to try my hand at a business.
- What encouraged you to build what appears to be a full online shopping mall?
I thought I would have more success if I offered a variety of products and several choices for each product. I have tried to offer something for everyone, which is why my site will always be a work in progress.
- What challenges have you experienced as a result of starting your own business?
I am fairly new to this, so trying to find ways to market my business has been a lot of work. Also, I don’t know a lot about SEO so that has been a real challenge.
- How have you met or how do you plan to meet those challenges head on?
I have been doing a lot of reading and asking advice from people who have done this and have been successful. I’ve joined several networking sites also.
- How are you currently marketing your business?
I market on the networking sites to which I belong. I also have begun to use Twitter. Finances are tight right now, so I look for ways to market for free.
- What appears to be your most effective marketing challenge (bringing in the sales)?
At this time, I would have to say contacting friends and family. They are also helping get the word out about my online mall.
- What are your business goals?
I would love for this to be a business that brings in enough money to help with our bills. I am not looking to get rich.
- Hey nothing wrong with being rich but how often do you run specials and how do you determine what deals to offer?
All of the stores on my site are affiliate stores, so I am unable to offer specials on my own. However, the majority of the stores do offer specials. I frequently get emails from them telling me of the deals they have going on and I add banners to the home page of my site advertising them.
- Any advice for others looking to start/build an online store?
Do your research and have a lot of patience!!!
- How can my readers get in touch with you and where can they view your selection of products?
I can be reached at kathykandlesko (at) aol (dot) com. My products can be viewed at http://www.the-eclectic-mall.webnode.com
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
(¸.·´ (¸.·`¤... Jamie...
1- Tell me a little about yourself and what inspired She's Batty Designs
I'm Jamie Sabot and I'm the owner and artist behind She's Batty Designs. I'm also a university student finishing up her bachelors degree in psychology with a minor in fine/visual arts. I started off doing a double major in psychology and fine/visual arts but quickly realized that a major in fine/visual arts was not where I wanted to head (more on this below).
I'm highly passionate about animal welfare and worked for a number of years with the Ontario SPCA. Animal welfare is by far the cause I advocate the most for. I find a lot of my strengths and skills complement a career in animal welfare, and perhaps I'll end up working in that field again some day. Right now my efforts are focus on my 3 rescue dogs and my turtle. Each one of them has a unique story. I would love to share these stories but I think I'm already going to have too much to say for this blog feature! Contact me if you want to hear more or check out my brief (and a bit out of date) profile at the ASPCA ning community site.
My favorite time of year is autumn. It's when my all time favorite holiday takes place (Halloween), and I love all the sights, smells and weather that comes along with autumn. I decorate for Christmas with a lot of the same decorations I put up at Halloween because a lot of them are inspired by the Nightmare Before Christmas. I've started growing pumpkins this year and can't wait to harvest and carve my very own - home grown - pumpkins.
My love of arts and crafts was what inspired She's Batty Designs. After attending Fine Art school and not feeling totally satisfied with the direction my art was headed, I threw out all the "rules" and "norms" that has been drilled into my head. I gather up a bunch of art supplies that inspired me, a few pictures, and a lot of glitter. I crafted like I was a kid again and made art that made me happy. It was very refreshing to make art that didn't have to have a purpose other than my own enjoyment. It was inspiring, and enlightening to drop all the Fine Art baggage and make art without a struggle. Friend and family members embraced my works so I decided to start offering them publicly via She's Batty Designs.
2- What types of products do you sell?
Most paper products - greeting cards, tags, die cuts, and scrapbooking supplies. I'm getting more into candle making and currently offer a few different kinds of candles and melts.
I also offer my services as a photographer - one of the only things I didn't throw out the window after Fine Art school.
Graveyard cupcake candle
I love Halloween so much that I just had to make a spooky inspired cupcake candle to celebrate! I hadn't seen any candles like this before so when the idea popping into my head I wrote it down in my idea book, did a sketch and then sadly didn't come back to it for about 6 months. I was flipping through my idea book (6 months after the sketch was done), the pages immediately fell to the page with the sketch of this candle! I got super excited about my long lost idea and jumped into action! Now I'm super excited to release this candle under She's Batty Designs so everyone can share in the spooky fun :)
House on a haunted hill card
This is one of my fav recent creations. I love the colour scheme in this card. The golds and browns are so deep and give it a really "rich" look. I also got to use a lot of different techniques in this card including spray painting, crystal effects, stamping, and embossing. One of my most favorite things is glitter so this card is extra special to me because of the amount of glitter I was able to use in it without "over doing it".
3- How long have you been selling online?
I started selling online in April of 2008 at Etsy.
4- Do you sell your products offline at any events?
If so, what types of events are most profitable for individuals who make their own products
I have done a few events but they aren't something I participate in regularly because I haven't found any in my area that are worth while.
5- When deciding on a new design, what factors influence that design?
Mostly the supplies I have on hand and what I'm currently trying to create. Half of the time I walk into my studio without a pre-determined project in mind. Other times I walk in with a vague concept like "Halloween Tags". What is created from there depends on the supplies I have on hand. I focus on one holiday at a time so for a few months the tables in my studio are covered with Halloween supplies or Christmas supplies, etc.
6- Have you ever experienced creator's blocK? If yes, what advice can you give to others to come out of it who may be experiencing it as well?
If I have a creator's block it's usually not due to being out of ideas or supplies, it usually because of fatigue. I only get short bursts of energy due to having Ankylosing Spondylitis, so when I have the energy I do a lot of creating! When I don't, I spend a lot of time online listing my items, surfing around for inspiration, and talking with other artists on plurk and the AF forums. Although this cycle is not ideal from a health stand point, it really works well to keep away creator's block! When I'm creating I'm solely focus on that, and when I'm drained of energy, I'm solely focused getting passive inspiration and doing the less creative tasks of online selling. I used to get depressed about not having the energy to create more but I've realized over the last few years, that taking a different perspective about my whole situation has really helped me to be super productive when I DO have the chance to create.
7- Jamie, in your opinion what's best way for someone with a home based business to get more exposure?
The need to look at what venue they are using to sell. If they are selling online then that is where the majority of their marketing efforts (and money) should be spent. If they are working from home but selling at a market on the weekends, then they need to focus on creating enough stock for each weekend and encourage people to come and to their booth at the market - so they would need to market locally.
Online sellers have a really vast market to try to reach so they need to narrow down their reach. First they should figure out how their target audience is and focus their marketing efforts there. Once they've reached that target audience they can start to expand their online marketing efforts. Project wonderful ads have worked rather well for me as well as keeping a blog and sending out a month email update.
Online sellers should also try to list often and at targeted times. I find that if I list a few new items on a Saturday or Sunday, I do better than if I listed those same items on a Monday or Tuesday. Listing is free advertising if you're listing on ArtFire so it's a win-win combo! I would also suggest listing a couple items a couple days a week rather than listing them all on one day. You'll get more exposure throughout the week if you stretch out your listings. It will also give you a chance to really market each listing without overwhelming your contacts and social networks. Those are just a few of the basics that I have found worked for me. There's lots more info on Handmade News. I'm the editor of the marketing department so as you can imagine, marketing is something I'm highly passionate about.
8- Do you take custom orders?
Yes, I do! I really love custom orders because it give my creative muscle a workout! Custom orders help keep things fresh and innovative in my studio. I also love helping people so if I can help fill a need they have with my art then all the better! A lot of my "local" business comes from custom orders, particularly for custom photo invitations and cards. I really love creating these because not only do I get to work with a personal photograph but I also get a chance to use my graphic design skills :)
Add'l Featured Products:
Gocco Halloween party invitations:
Besides photography, the medium I loved the most to work with in Fine Art school was printmaking. I adore my gocco printer - it is my most loved "tool" in my studio. These invitations hold a special place in my artsy heart for a few reasons. One of those reasons is obvious - they are for Halloween! But the other reasons are so obvious. I designed these invitations my self on the computer using my graphic arts skills (which are self taught :)), I then transferred my designs to gocco master screens and printed them on card stock. I used two different screens - one for the black and one for the green pearl link. I really love the use of the green pearl because it's so shimmery and really holds its own next to the black. I really love making pieces that I can incorporate computer skills and traditional arts skills.
These postcards are super simple in their design but they are very special to me. These are made using my gocco screen printer again (like the Gocco Halloween party invitations), and were another design that I made on the computer. They are special to me because these were the exact postcards we sent out when we moved last year. I made twice as many as we needed. For the ones we sent out, I made a second screen to print our "moved" info on the back of the postcards and kept with a "batty" theme. I'm so happy to be able to offer the ones I left blank on the back to the public because perhaps there is someone out there as batty as me for this kind of simple, halloween-ish design.
9- Finally, where can people find your products online and how can they reach you?
They can find my products at:
I can also be reached via email: shesbattydesigns (at) hotmail (dot) com
Friday, August 14, 2009
If you've ever heard of Squidoo then you will understand the way the site works. On Squidoo, you create what are called Lenses. On Hub pages, you create hubs. Essentially what you are doing is creating an article about whatever topic of interest you want to write about. You can include, videos, photos, links, RSS feeds, you name it. The beauty about it is, you can also monetize your Hub pages. Join an affiliate program or Google Adsense and you can have ads posted on your hubs. Lots of people are making a decent residual income with Hub pages.
Creating a Hub page also helps you to spread the word about your product or service. Of course you can't be overly promotional but you can get your links out there and start creating Hub pages to show your authority in your area of business.
I wrote my first two hubs last week (I needed something to do while I was being pissed off for having people steal my articles online):
I encourage anyone with a business to start creating Hub pages. Two reasons:
- When business is slow, get to writing and earn some $$
- Get exposure for your business
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
However, with the low response rate I've decided to discontinue. Hopefully, my other content is more useful.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I work with glass. I have two kilns and a torch, and use a variety of techniques to create unique home decor pieces, jewelry, and beads. People usually see glass as very fragile - I endeavor to make beautiful, yet sturdy pieces that will last a lifetime.
About four years ago, I dropped out of law school. I knew I didn't want to be a lawyer - there was too much of an emphasis on convention. I didn't want to have to wear a suit to work every day. And at that point, I started thinking, now what? I have always been "hopelessly creative", always seeking new ideas, and new things to learn about. So, while searching for some other career path, I turned to art. I had no idea that would become my path! It took me a while to realize that I could sell my artwork. I played with a bunch of different techniques, selling in local craft fairs, just trying to earn some spare change to buy more art supplies. I met other artists, and discovered glass fusing. As soon as I saw a piece of fused glass art, I knew that was what I wanted to do! I saved for and bought a small kiln. In teaching myself to fuse glass, I've developed a style of my own. The more I work with my glass, the more I decided that was all I wanted to do. In October of 2008, I decided to "get serious" with my business. I developed a business plan, began selling online, exhibiting at more shows, and investigating wholesale options. My plan is to be a full time glass artist by September of 2010.
3- How did you learn how to create and design glass art?
I am primarily self taught. Early in my explorations, I took a stained glass class, which helped me with glass cutting and other skills that are very much a part of what I do now. However, most of what I know now I've learned through experimentation. Glass fusing is 80% creativity, but 20% chemistry and physics - I've learned a lot more about science than I ever knew before! I wouldn't be where I am now, though, without the help of a few books. Warm Glass is one I would recommend for anyone beginning fusing.
4- What inspires your creations?
I find inspiration everywhere! I am influenced by nature, but also by man made things. Sometimes even flaws in the glass itself lead me to interesting ideas. Emotion is probably the biggest influence on my artwork; art for me is a highly emotional process.
Probably this piece: http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=14959614. It is made from recycled glass pieces, and the method used adds a lot of randomness to the piece, so that no two are alike. I really like how this one turned out!
6- You sell quite a bit on etsy. What are your best sellers?
7- Please share any challenges you have experienced over the years with running a home business and how you overcame them.
My biggest problem is time! Since I have a full time job outside of my glass art business, it's very difficult to juggle orders, craft shows, and customer requests. Sometimes I can budget a whole day for my business, and then realize at about three in the afternoon that I haven't left the studio, and I really need to pack up orders! Instead, I have decided to stick to a schedule. Before I go to work, I get up and process any orders that are ready to be shipped. When I get home, I deal with the business work that needs to be done, like budgeting and listing new items online, or packing things up for a weekend craft show. After that, I reward myself with studio time. Early on, another problem I had was budgeting. I spent every dollar I earned on new supplies. While this helped me build up a full studio quickly, I realized that if I wanted to make a living off of my artwork, I couldn't keep buying supplies. So I created a budget. Now, I only buy supplies once a month, and I only buy the things I really need. The additional money I make goes to paying off debts or gets squirreled away so I have a nest egg when I quit my day job.
8- Do you do custom designs on request?
9- What advice can you give individuals who want to get into the glass art business?
Develop a unique product. That's probably helped me out the most. I can count on sales from certain items - the unique items - every time I make them. Also, if you're serious about business, develop a business plan. It will keep you on track to know what your goals are.
10- Lastly, tell my readers where to find your beautiful work online and how they can get in touch with you
Friday, August 7, 2009
"You want to talk about stress, how about the fact that I just discovered that two different people stole original articles that I have written and not given me credit for it!
I contacted both websites and no response so i'm blowing them up right here as well as reporting them. I work too hard writing articles and dumping my brain every day onto paper for people to come along and claim my work.
So here the two lying article thieves have stolen my work and now they are so cowardly they don't even have the decency to reply.
I wrote an article entitled, "STRESS: Is It Your Silent Killer?" and I submitted a copy of it to Ezinearticles (http://ezinearticles.com/?STRESS---Is-it-Your-Silent-Killer?&id=1080550) in March of 2008. The article thief posted it on their blog at burnettconsult.com/stress-is-it-your-silent-killer.htm (and no i didn't create it as a link because why should I help their search engine rankings) word for freaking word! On top of it, he or she has no contact info. on their blog other than a comments form for each post. He/she has not responded to me. The original article is on my site at http://www.stressreliefbyrv.com/stress. You'll notice in the article that I post scriptures in the Bible and everything. I even talk about a situation where I at work and had a difficult time with a co-worker. This person probably doesn't even believe in God!
The other article I wrote, "Understanding Adult Acne and Hormones" was stolen from ezine articles (http://ezinearticles.com/?Understanding-Adult-Acne-and-Hormones&id=2637614) where I am credited as the author but it's posted on kissawayacne.com/2009/07/understanding-adult-acne-and-hormones as if they are the author. The original work (mine) is also on my site at http://www.deadseastorebyrv.com/adult_acne_and_hormones. I talk about how I got adult acne and didn't have it too much as a teen. Notice however that on the original article posted on my site, there is one little line at the very end that does not appear in the ezinearticles version or the thief's copy. It says "I suggest the latter." It's on my site because I'm the author!!!
I guess I shouldn 't be shocked since there are always going to be devious dishonest people in the world but I am. I am so pissed off I can't even begin to express. I have experienced some horrible people talking about me like a dog for the last few days and now this. I don't bother anybody and I keep to myself. Is it too much to ask for people to treat me the way I treat them???
Blogging is a great outlet for me to write but I certainly don't appreciate that all of my writing is being done to be stolen and profited by someone else. However, the Bible says that you will reap what you have sown so for all of the article thieves, back biters, liars and the like I say this: "You will have your day when you have to stand before the God of the universe to give an account for every evil deed and you WILL pay for everything you have done unless you repent.
That's all I have to say. I'm going to try and enjoy my weekend and I hope everyone reading does the same."
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
A Home Based Service Business has many benefits including
- If you have a certain skill set or certain talents, you can meet a need that exists in the business world and get paid for it (cha-ching!)
- You can run your business right out of your home
- If your new service business consists of doing things that were once a hobby, hey you now probably have most of the supplies and equipment you need to take it to the next level
- You have very little overhead. No need to rent office space. You are already paying rent or a note on your home, not to mention other utilities. All that's left to buy now is any equipment you may need like a computer and fax machine (if you don't have them already)
- While you are accountable to getting work done for your client, you can now set your own hours
Here are some resources on a few popular home based service businesses that you may be interested in:
Sunday, August 2, 2009
2- Tell us a little about your professional background in the graphic design industry.
Right out of college I began doing freelance work and then interned at a denim store where I did all of the graphics for the company. I also started working for a clothing line, Vintage Blue, branding and doing all the graphics and marketing as well. I became so involved in both companies I became a partner. I continued to do my freelance design work on the side. For the two years the denim store, Denim Society, was open I was completely focused on the two companies and my design work was put on the back burner except for the business design work. Once our store closed down I started really focusing on getting my graphic design career off the ground.
3- Michelle, what have you discovered to be the most important marketing tool for small businesses and home based business owners?
I'm a big fan of just networking- through the internet, in person, whatever. Make conversation with people because you never know who you are talking to or what they may be in need of. It never hurts to ask- but it sure will help you.
4- Tell all my home business owners out there the basic items they should obtain to promote a professional image.
Obviously the quality of your product is important, but your brand identity is essential to providing a professional look. There are far too many businesses out there that look extremely unprofessional and that will reflect on your business. Make sure you have a logo, color scheme, and overall look and feel that fits your business. Make sure it is readable to your demographic. Invest in a good functioning website and email address that ends with your domain name because the online market is immense and if someone finds you on the internet and has no reference for who you are you may lose them.
5- Besides being a graphic designer, do you use your expertise towards any other business ventures you are connected to?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier I am the sole graphic designer at Vintage Blue, an eco friendly sportswear line for women.
6- Please tell us more.
I have some other side projects that are in the works but they aren't ready to be revealed yet!
7- I once read something you said about a brand having a consistent look and feel. Please explain further.
It's so important for your brand to be cohesive. It needs to look like everything fits together and makes sense. So for example, Vintage Blue is vintage inspired but is also putting a twist on the old and making it new. Our brand is old looking, but still vibrant and exciting. If you went to one of the pages on our website and all of a sudden started seeing really masculine fonts and black backgrounds it wouldn't fit. Each element implemented in your brand whether it's an email blast, printed flyer, business card, or website should all mesh together.
8- In your professional opinion are there any standards for website design?
Yes, of course. Usability is super important. If you have a pretty site and no one knows where to go you will lose them, which defeats the purpose entirely. You also typically want to keep your main navigation simple and either horizontal at the top or vertical to the left. A really great reference is a book I read in college called Don't Make Me Think! by Steve Krug. It's about keeping it simple and making sense. But still make it look good!
9- What should a small business owner or entrepreneur look for in a graphic designer?
Make sure they click with you. When you look at their work look at the details- make sure they are clean and forward thinking. I think it's important to build a lasting relationship with a designer you can trust who can really get to know your brand. This will help it evolve.
10- Lastly, tell my readers how they can get a hold of you and where they can find you online