Thursday, 27 February 2014

Marketing Tips: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Your B2B Pinterest Strategy

As we’ve discussed before, Pinterest can be an excellent platform for you to market your Misi Store and your beautiful creations in a unique way. However, sometimes, developing a good Pinterest strategy can be tough. To help on your endeavor, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of 10 “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for your Pinterest marketing strategy.

1. DO use the 5+5+2 model in creating your first boards. If you haven’t started pinning yet, we have a simple formula to creating your first 12 boards:
  • Make 5 boards for things your audience loves.
  • Make 5 boards for things your audience has a hard time finding.
  • Make 2 boards centered on your company.
Add a few pins to each board, and voila! You now have a bouncing baby Pinterest account.

2. DO have awesome cover photos. Your boards’ cover photos are the first thing a user sees when they land on your page so you better make sure they’re pretty. I mean, you wouldn’t have an ugly landing page on your website, would you?

3. DON’T have boring images. Part of the beauty of Pinterest’s design is that it’s almost entirely a visual experience. When creating pinnable images for your site, don’t be afraid of color, unique fonts and beautiful design. The more eye-catching the pin, the more repins it will receive.

4. DON’T only pin your own content. This is huge. DO NOT ONLY PIN YOUR OWN CONTENT. Pinterest users do not want blatant advertisements all over their Pinterest feed. So, rather than only pinning your content, pin articles related to your sector, interesting images, funny memes and mix in your products and articles.

5. DO spy on your competitors. If your competitors have a Pinterest account, go ahead and spy! Find out what they’re doing particularly well – or particularly horrible – and learn from their actions. 

6. DON’T be hard to find. It’s a good idea to keep your profile specific to your company, so anyone searching for you on Pinterest will know, at a glance, that is in fact the right profile. One great way to insure this is to have your profile verified by Pinterest.

7. DO engage influencers. Chances are you don’t have a million Pinterest followers, yet. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have fans that do! You can find and engage your most influential fans from our Fans & Influencers page. By building those relationships, you can always have a heavy hitter on your side.

8. DO use a secret board to save content for the future. When you’re on the prowl for great images to repin, don’t worry about getting your timing wrong. Just create a secret board, pin the image to that board and include the original pin’s URL in the caption so you can go back and repin it publicly later.

9. DON’T forget the “Office” board. Although users might not repin these images very often, it’s a good idea to have fun pictures from around your office. Even Pinterest has an office board! These boards help humanize your brand to fans, thereby helping to foster a deeper connection. You can even link to the board in the “About Us” portion of your website to have an easily updated place that showcases your company culture.

10. DO check for SEO value. Believe it or not, your Pinterest page can give you a serious SEO boost. Our ultimate Pinterest SEO guide can help ensure you’re getting the biggest bang-for-your-SEO-buck.

DIY ~ Styles Eats: Acrylic Trays

A lot of caterers use acrylic trays as a way to present food. It is a really clean and modern way to serve food to your guests. This project shows you how to make your own tray. We’ve done it here for cotton candy but you could use it for just about anything on a stick. It is really simple, all you need is to be able to drill a few holes. I think these would be great for a cocktail party or baby shower, or making an awesome Amy Atlas style dessert table. I also really like that you would be able to reuse these over and over for future parties!

Full instructions after the jump…
To make the cotton candy you can rent a cotton candy machine. We decided to buy one of these at-home-machines for $40. I was pretty pleased with the results. They work great for small parties but if I had to produce a lot for a school class or large group I would still rent a large machine from a party supply store. (Tip: we found we had better luck spinning the cotton candy on a wood stick rather than acrylic so we transferred them over to the acrylic sticks afterwards.)

Materials Needed: Thick acrylic slab, 1/8″ drill bit for plastic, 1/8″ acrylic sticks.

To make acrylic trays like this cost effective, the key is to hit the remnant bin at an industrial plastic store. Here in San Francisco we have TAP Plastics. They have large thick slabs in various colors and thicknesses for about $10. (If you don’t go the route of the remnant bin they can cost from $30-$50!) In addition we picked up 1/8″ thick acrylic sticks that we cut down to the size we wanted–about 7″ long. We also purchased a $5 drill bit in 1/8″ that was specifically designed to drill through plastic. All the supplies for the tray came out to about $20 and every tray after will cost about $10.

Step 1: Figure out how big you will make your cotton candy and decide how far apart you want your holes. Mark the liner on top of the slab where you are going to drill your holes.

Step 2: Using your drill bit for plastic make a hole 2/3 of the way through the slab. Check if the stick fits, if it doesn’t work the drill in the hole to widen it until it fits.

Step 3:  Peel back the liner and voila! You’ve got a tray for your party!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

DIY: Grow an Indoor Compost Garden

Stews certainly help to take the chill out of winter. That's why we make a lot of these warm and hardy meals in our house. But it seems a shame to consign all the lovely leftover vegetable scraps—the roots, the bulbs, the carrot tops—to the compost bin. 

So, let's see how you can make your own little inside home garden:
Compost Garden, supplies, Gardenista
Above: Root vegetables such as the carrots, potatoes, and beets above lend themselves quite well to compost gardening, as do beans and bulbs like onions and garlic. You can also try citrus seeds that have been soaked in water or even pineapple (though neither of these worked for us).
Compost Garden, cutting the stems, Gardenista
Above: For leafy vegetables like carrots and beets, select specimens with the tops intact. Then solicit your little helpers to cut off all but 2 or 3 inches of stem.
Compost Garden, gravel bed, Gardenista
Above: Prepare a bed of gravel, small stones and/or soil in a shallow dish or pie plate. We chose an antique cash drawer from Oh Albatross, which we lined with plastic. You can find a similar vintage divided drawer onEtsy.
Compost Garden, planting, Gardenista
Above: For carrots and beets, push them into the gravel cut side down and add water to the top layer of rocks. Keep well watered. Plant beans a couple centimeters deep in soil and keep moist. As a bulb, garlic takes well when placed shoulder-deep in either soil or gravel.
Next, place your compost garden in a sunny spot and wait.
Compost Garden, potato sprouts, Gardenista
Above: Remember this technique with avocado pits? It works with potatoes too.
Compost Garden, sprouting carrots, Gardenista
Above: After a couple of weeks, our carrot tops are coming along nicely.
Compost Garden, bean sprouts, Gardenista
Above: Our beans began to sprout too.
Compost Garden, sprouting garlic, Gardenista
Above: Garlic greens can actually be harvested to add a bit of flavor to future soups and stews.
Compost Garden, beets, Gardenista
Above: Here come the beets.
Completed Compost Garden 2, Gardenista
Above: Here is our whole garden after about three weeks. We're going to keep it going.
Compost Garden and kids, Gardenista

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Pricing – How to figure it out?

One of the biggest questions that comes up in the hand-made crafts selling business is “how do I price my products?”  I’m not an author yet, but I’m sure that this question also comes up there.  Well, there are several different methods that you can use to answer this question.

First of all, it’s going to depend on your purpose for selling?  Are you selling your crafts for the purpose of funding those crafts?  In which case, you simply charge for materials and shipping.  If you are wanting to actually turn a signicifcant profit, well, that takes a bit more calculation.

The easiest way to price your products is to price similarly to similar products.  This would take a bit of research (which is probably more fun than doing math).  Be specific in your research.  For example, I make crochet newborn photo props.  If I search that, I’ll get a multitude of products ranging from $3.00 all the way up to $50.00.  However, if I search Newborn Ladybug Crochet Photo, well, that limits my competition greatly and I can then decide how to price my product competitively so that I can offer a good deal but still turn a decent profit at the same time.  The key here is “competitive” not “lowest”.  Some people might aim for the lowest price and then they are not being fair to themselves and customers often equate a low price with a cheap product.

The basic formula for pricing (AHHH, here’s the math I was talking about) is (Cost of Goods + Labor) x Overhead= Price. Overhead refers to the other resources that were used during the production of your product:  Electricity, water, rent, air, etc.  Labor considers the time and energy that you put into it.

I like to use a completely different method, we’ll call it the minimum wage (again, it uses math).  Let’s say that minimum wage is $8.00,  It takes me two hours to make up a single newborn photo prop.  That’s $16.00.  Then, I add in the cost of materials (for the prop that I have in mind (the newborn turtle shell cape and hat set), that’s two skeins of yarn), which totals up to $4.66.  Roughly, it comes up to $20.00, which is what I charge for it.  Makes me feel like I’m making $10.00 an hour :-P

However you do choose to price your products, don’t cheat yourself.  You have worked hard to make your product.  I know that you want to sell it.  Selling is exiting, and gives you motivation and energy to keep going.  It’s awful tempting to price your products lower so that you can make more sells.  DON’T!  You are cheating yourself, and you are not offering a competitive market place for other crafters.  Also, as I mentioned before, cheap products are…well…cheap.  The materials are not good quality, the work you put into it may not be the best (after all, you are working for pennies, why put forth the effort?).  It just isn’t worth it.

Monday, 24 February 2014

5 Ways to Make Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets are back and bigger than ever, and here are a whole stack of cool bracelets to make with string, thread, cord, or rope.All you need is some string, some time, and a few great bracelet ideas to make your own homemade wristwear.

1. Friendship Bracelets, All Grown Up

It’s the same technique practiced by summer campers everywhere. But when fashioned in sophisticated colors and luxurious strings and yarns with metallic accents, these knotted bracelets become great adult accessories. Read more

2. Braided Bead Bracelet

After playing with some materials that were already on hand, we’ve created a tutorial for a braided bead bracelet, which is a not so distant cousin of the hex nut and wrap bracelet. Because honestly, you can never have too many… Read more

3. Fun Fringe Bracelet
This bracelet mixes leather, linen and beads into a sweet summery design. Make a longer, necklace-length project by increasing the length of your cording and the number of beads you use. Read more

4. Leather and Yarn Bracelet

These bracelets are super easy to make.  You could make them longer, as well, to wrap around the wearer's wrist multiple times.  It closes easily with yarn through a loop in the bracelet that's low profile enough that it won't irritate the wrist.  Read more

5. Rhinestone Cowgirl

We can’t talk about rhinestones without talking about stylish cowgirls, can we? Read more

Happy Crafting!

How to Get a Verified Account on Twitter

Wouldn't it be cool if you had that white check mark in a blue cloud on your Twitter profile? If you get one, it means you hold a "verified account." Twitter uses verification to establish the authenticity of tweeters, and does so proactively—they concentrate on "highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas." If you (or your boss/client) fit the bill, here is how to go about getting your Twitter account verified.

  1. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 1.jpg
    Determine if you qualify for a verified Twitter account. Twitter verifies as few accounts as possible and only for legitimate reasons. Reasons for asking Twitter include being a highly recognizable public figure (athletes, artists, public officials, public or government agencies, etc.), or if your name and likeness is parodied or impersonated on multiple Twitter accounts, leading to identity confusion.[1]
    • Though Twitter does not have an official stance on this, several Twitter-verified companies have indicated that spending $5000/month on Twitter advertising will also get (and keep) your account verified.[2][3]
    • Twitter will not consider you for verification based on your number of followers. Twitter urges Tweeters to "Please note that follower count is not a factor in determining whether an account meets our criteria for verification."
    • Twitter recommends embedding a Twitter "Follow" button on your official website as the best alternative to verification. You can learn how to do this here. This allows you to obtain followers directly from your official site, which is very helpful if there are multiple Twitter accounts that use your name.
    • Twitter also recommends including a link to an official website as an alternative to verification.

  2. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 2.jpg
    Read the Verified Account terms. These terms explain what a verified account is, what it means to be verified, who has the verified badge, identifying a verified account, etc. They can be found here.
  3. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 3.jpg
    Find out how to apply for a verified account. Send a direct message to this address. Be sure to have the following information ready.
    • Account name
    • Full name
    • Location
    • Official website (you will be given a suggestion to put the Twitter logo or badge on your official website to speed up verification)
    • Bio information (information about yourself in fewer than 160 characters)
    • Primary contact name (referring to the individual who manages the account)
    • Additional Contact Information
  4. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 4.jpg
    Wait for Twitter to respond. If you don't get a reply shortly, you can contact Twitterby snail mail or through Twitter. Keep in mind that Twitter deals with a high volume of verification requests, and that it focuses first on the most "highly sought users."[1]
  5. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 5.jpg
    Follow Twitter's instructions for verifying your account. If Twitter decides that you qualify for a verified account, they will reach out to you via direct message. Click the link in the direct message to be taken to finish the process.
    • The final part of the process has 3 parts, Learn how to Tweet effectivelyConnect with other Interesting Twitter Users, and Protect your Account.
      • Learn how to Tweet effectively gives you a choice between 2 tweets and asks you to choose which one is better. It has the form of a quiz, but there will be no negative effects if you do not answer correctly.
      • Connect with other Interesting Twitter Users gives you the option to follow other verified accounts. Twitter believes that this gives you more legitimacy as a verified user.[6]
      • Protect your Account asks you to enter a phone number that Twitter can call if there are any problems with your account. Once you have completed this step, your account will be verified.
  6. Get a Verified Account on Twitter Step 6.jpg
    Do not change your account information. Once you have received a verification badge, it is important to keep your account information the same. Changing information, such as your profile image, can cause Twitter to remove the badge, forcing you to contact them again.

Friday, 21 February 2014

What Marketing Really Is ( and How It Can Help Your MISI Shop)

Hello MISIANS! It sounds like the biggest thing keeping you from sharing your own handmade goodness with the world is the you are terrified by “marketing.”

So let’s clear this right up!

Marketing = all communication with the people who will (and do) love your work.

This means 3 things:

  1. Marketing can be as simple as talking to people who love what you make.
  2. Everything that communicates is marketing; including your labels, your photographs, every word on your website, some of your tweets, and of course, your product descriptions.
  3. Your job with your marketing is not to convince people to like you or what you do. It is not to convert a non-believer. It is not to put your work in front of people who won’t buy it (either because they can’t afford it or don’t like it.)

Isn’t that better?

So what are we talking about when we talk about marketing?

Getting really clear in your message. Your message includes who you are, what is special about what you make, and how it benefits the buyer.

Sharing that message so that the people who will love your work know it exists.

Identifying who those people are and where they hang out, so you can speak to them.

Now, instead of despairing at what you haven’t done yet, can you celebrate the bits of this list that you are already doing? (Hint: if you have a website – you’re already sharing your message! If you’ve made even one sale, then you’ve identified at least something about your people.)

What is the marketing (ie, communicating) you’re already doing with the people who will love your work?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Trust ~ How to Increase your MISI Sales

Trust is a huge piece of the buying process. I’d wager that trust matters the most, not only when a customer buys something, but also when he recommends that product to another person.

Before you buy a product or service, you need to trust that you’re going to get what you pay for. Trust can mean the difference between zero sales and LOTS of sales, no matter what product or service you’re trying to sell.

You could sell the most amazing product in the world, but if your customer service sucks and you ship it two weeks later than the customer expects it, he’s going to be disappointed. Your customer won’t pass along the information for the amazing product that he got. Instead, he’ll probably warn people about the negatives.

The best and most effective way to sell without selling is to get referrals from people who fall in love with your product.
If a customer trusts you and your company, she won’t hesitate to tell her friends and family members about your services.
But, if she doesn’t trust you due to bad experiences she’s had with your company, she won’t. You want people to boost about your products in such a positive way that others have to check them out.

Once you’ve developed trust, you won’t have to worry about selling your product, because other people will do it for you. Pretty cool stuff. You’ll be able to focus on creating new products and improving the ones you have instead of spending lots of precious time on selling.

This probably sounds great, but you might be wondering how to put this plan into action. Follow these 5 steps to build trust with your customers:

1. Be honest about what your customers will get. 

Some small businesses make the mistake of promising their customers things they can’t deliver. If you want repeat customers, you can’t do this!

Action: Look through all of your product or service descriptions, and ensure that you can back up every statement that you make.

2. Exceed your customers’ expectations. 

To get repeat customers, always try to go beyond what your customers expect. For example, you might have a policy that says you always ship within four business days. Exceed expectations by doing your best to ship within two business days. You’re giving yourself a cushion just in case something comes up, but you’re also trying to go beyond what your customer expects.

Action: Figure out at least two ways that you can exceed your customers’ expectations and put them into place today.

3. Offer a 100% money back guarantee.

A lot of creative businesses already do this, so it’s something a lot of customers expect. I often see small businesses who won’t offer this, because they don’t believe in their products. If you’re confident in your product, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Action: Add a 100% money back guarantee to your policy today. This gives prospective customers a safety net, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

4. Admit when you make mistakes and do everything you can to fix them. 

If a customer contacts you to let you know that her bracelet arrived broken, apologize, tell her you’ll send a replacement to her that same day if possible, and ask her if there’s anything else you can do. Send a little something extra with her new bracelet. Most of the time, your helpful customer service will override the issue with the product. She’ll let her friends know how fast you responded to her and what a great experience she had with your company.

Action: Respond swiftly to issues and fix them.

5. Try to get feedback from your customers 

in order to improve your products and services. Contact each customer through email after they’ve received the product. Do not send out an automated message. Type something personal, and ask each customer for feedback. Keep the email short and to the point.