Thursday, January 26, 2012

January Monthly Challenge Link Up!


Members of the Blogging Business Artisans are asked to complete six of twelve Monthly Challenges and Storybeader created the first one. There was a bit of confusion when the directions were interpreted as meaning that we had to do a tutorial but this was clarified as just talk about your progress. For those that did not participate this month, no worries. We have 11 more months!

As a recap:
The January Challenge asked members to blog about a new technique they attempted during the month and talk about their progress. And then link up here! The link will close on January 31 at 7pm.

Interested in joining the BBA? Take a look at what our team has to offer by clicking here.

Link Up those posts!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shipping with UPS - Small Business Tips

I had my first experience shipping with UPS recently and wanted to share my experience with you. After receiving a large order for 150 coasters, I started comparing rates online and found that UPS offered competitive rates for large/heavy packages.

Delivery Time Guarantee
One thing I really liked about UPS was their shipping time guarantee. My package cost $18.03 and was guaranteed to arrive in two days. In doing my research, I found that the same package mailed USPS Priority Mail would have cost $27.11 and would "generally" take 2-3 days to arrive but was not guaranteed.

Residential Pickups (and a fee)
One thing I do not like about UPS is that if you are shipping from a residence, there is a fee to have your package picked up at your house. I did find a drop off location that only charges $2 per package, but I had to bring the package to the location and pay the extra fee. One thing I love about the USPS is that they pick up almost all of my packages at my house saving me time and money.

Easy to Use
Overall, I like UPS as an option for large packages. It was very easy to set up an account and printing the label was much like using Paypal. And for some reason, I find UPS more "professional". Maybe that's just because my suppliers all use UPS? And I also recently found out that you can actually print a UPS label right through Paypal! There is a blue link right under the address area and above the shipping option to select another carrier and UPS is one of the options...makes it even easier!

Question: How do you ship your packages?

Stay tuned for one more installment in my Shipping Series and catch the first two as well:
*Shipping From Home
* Shipping Internationally
* Shipping with UPS
* Shipping Suppliers


Edi is the creative mind behind Memories for Life Scrapbooks (and Laser Engraving). She has been paper crafting for over 15 years and recently purchased a laser engraver that is keeping her creativity at an all time high!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Features -- Tangerine -- and a Winner

According to Pantone, tangerine is a hot color trend for spring 2012. I never thought about orange but I had so much fun selecting items that it was hard to stop! Celebrating all things citrus...

Wild Woman Jewelry

Modern Switch
Magnolia Surprise

Berry Island

Mister Pen Quin
Maggpie's Eye
Random Creative
Angee W.

And congratulations to imasupergirl  the winner of January's Giveaway! Rose will contact you.
QUESTION: How do you feel about this color?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Worktable Wednesday -- A Bird in the Hand

This week's Worktable Wednesday is brought to you by Jenny of A Bird in the Hand.

Lately, I have been incorporating vintage handkerchiefs in my pieces.  Although I typically use fabric, this is the first time I have used handkerchiefs.  I find them at thrift stores and then incorporate them into a range of pieces.  Here, I have both a bird and a ring made from one handkerchief.  It was a fun challenge to use the handkerchief in just the right way to get the right pattern that I wanted on the bird (the white belly seemed necessary).  The ring was made using a few leftover scraps.

A Bird in the Hand(Jenny)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shipping Internationally - Small Business Tips

Last week I talked about Shipping From Home and how it can be great for your business. This week is all about Shipping Internationally. I've been shipping quite a few packages out of the country lately and I encourage you to add International Shipping to your shop if you haven't already. You could be missing out on a lot of sales!

Do Your Research

My first tip is to do your research! Each country will have different shipping rates, customs fees and import laws. You are responsible for knowing whether your item can be shipped to a certain country.

Setting Your Rates

That being said, it is pretty easy to get a "general" rate for most international shipments. I have found that rates to Canada are pretty comparable to US rates when shipping First Class International. And all other countries are about double. Keep in mind that these are general rules and different weights will be different.

Choosing a Shipping Option

I use USPS First Class International for almost all of my packages. This seems to be the most standard and most cost effective option. I have shipped international packages with Priority and Express when the customer requests it and I just send them a paypal invoice for the additional shipping. There are only two problems I have run into with First Class International...There is no tracking information available after the package leaves the US. And you have to go to the post office to ship your package (unless paypal changes back to shipping through ebay). And keep in mind that shipping times may vary greatly from one country to another. I always tell my customers that shipping can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Depending on how long the item stays in customs can determine how fast your package arrives.

One main reason I use USPS for all international packages is because UPS and FedEx will charge your customers a brokerage fee upon delivery. If you use these services, make sure your buyers are aware of this fee ahead of time!

Update Your Policies

It is also a good idea to add a note to your policies that buyers are responsible for customs fees. Most buyers are aware of this, but it is a good idea to have a set policy. Buyers who have never purchased from the US may not be aware of this and you need to have a clear policy for them.

Custom Forms

There are two different customs forms depending on the size of your package. You can find this information at the usps website, or ask your postal clerk when you bring your package in. My biggest advice for customs forms is to NEVER mark a package as a "gift". The newer style of forms has a "merchandise" option...otherwise, mark "other". You can be charged a hefty fine for marking a sold item as a gift! And make sure to put an accurate description and cost on the form as well. This can help your package make it through customs quickly and safely :)

I hope you found these tips helpful and will consider shipping internationally if you don't already :)

Stay tuned for more articles on shipping tips for this blog -- Shipping Series.
* Shipping From Home
* Shipping Internationally
* Shipping with UPS
* Shipping Suppliers


Edi is the creative mind behind Memories for Life Scrapbooks (and Laser Engraving). She has been paper crafting for over 15 years and recently purchased a laser engraver that is keeping her creativity at an all time high!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shipping From Home -- Small Business Tips

Memories for Life photo

When selling online, shipping is a big part of our business process. You want the best rates, the best service and the fastest shipping for your money. You also want your package to arrive safely!

Today I'll introduce you to the main way I ship my packages. In the coming weeks, I'll have posts on Shipping Internationally, Shipping with UPS and Shipping Suppliers.

When I first started selling online, I took every package to the post office. Luckily I live in a small town, so there weren't usually lines, but I didn't enjoy the 20 minute round trip every time I needed to ship a package. So I did my research and began printing my shipping labels at home with Paypal and having my mailman pick them up. I haven't looked back!

It really is easy to print your own labels at home. All you need is a cheap scale and a printer! I got my scale off eBay for less than $20. I recommend a digital scale just because they are more accurate, but even a kitchen scale will do the job. And you can either print your labels on regular paper and tape them to your package or purchase adhesive labels made specially for printing shipping labels. (Also another eBay purchase.)

After you've got your supplies and you're ready to print your first label, simply follow the steps through Paypal and watch the magic happen :) Go online to and Schedule a Pickup so your mailman will know you have a package for him/her. My mailman is great and allows me to just leave him a note in the mailbox as to where my package is.

I encourage you to buy a scale and see how easy it is to print your own labels from home. You'll wonder how you ever survived without your scale before! And if you're a little worried at first, just take your first few prepaid packages to the post office to have them make sure your scale is correct and you've done everything right.

Happy Shipping :)

Stay tuned for more articles on shipping tips for this blog Shipping Series.

*Shipping From Home
*Shipping Internationally 
*Shipping with UPS 
*Shipping Suppliers

Edi is the creative mind behind Memories for Life Scrapbooks (and Laser Engraving). She has been paper crafting for over 15 years and recently purchased a laser engraver that is keeping her creativity at an all time high!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Artisan Spotlight -- BeadedTail

 Seven questions is our spotlight on our favorite artisans. Please welcome. . .
Sharla of BeadedTail!
Sharla & Sadie
1.  What do you sell in your shop?
I sell beaded and beadwoven jewelry with a portion of all proceeds going to animal charities. 
beadwoven bracelet by BeadedTail

2. What is your favorite thing about etsy?
My favorite thing about Etsy is my teammates on both my BBArtisans team and my Etsy Angels team!  I have been blessed with fabulous, caring teammates that have made my experience on Etsy way more than I could have ever imagined. 

3.  What is your least favorite thing about etsy?
I get frustrated with getting lost in the huge sea of jewelry designers on Etsy.  It's so hard to find the right tags, etc. to get noticed.  I also really don't like having to take photos of my items.  That whole process gets very tedious. 

4.  What does your studio/workspace look like?
My workspace is our dining room table.  I try to keep my supplies controlled since I always have furry help from my cats Angel and Isabella but it can still get rather messy!  I do my beadweaving while sitting on the couch and it never fails that Angel wants to sit on my lap so I have to put everything down until she decides to get up.  Heaven forbid I should move her!   My dog Sadie helps me with photos and sometimes even models for me.
work in progress with important assistant

 5.  What do you do to relax?
Since my day job is as a CPA, beading is my way to relax!  Besides that I enjoy going on hikes with my husband and Sadie, going to the Oregon coast or just reading with, again, a cat or two laying on me! 

6. What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to donate over $2,500 of my shop proceeds to so many charities over the past four years.  I'm also proud of the fact that I've been able to blog every day (with maybe one or two off) for the last nearly four years despite whatever life and work threw my way.  And finally, I'm also proud that I was able to learn how to beadweave.  When I first saw those teeny tiny beads I thought there's no way I could do anything with them plus have to do it with a needle when I can't sew a thing!  It may take me 6+ hours to make a caterpillar bracelet but I am always proud of myself when I finish. 
Sadie the model
 7.  What are some of your goals for next year?
My first goal is to first make it through another tax season!  For my shop my goals are to have 100 sales in my shop and to expand my horizons by creating new, non-jewlery related lines.  I'm also working with a fellow teammate on creations that I've always wanted to be a part of so I'm so excited about this venture!   I'm looking forward to a wonderful New Year!

BeadedTail (Sharla): Beaded and beadwoven jewelry benefiting animal causes

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Get Ready, Set, Goal! Share Your Goals -- a Link Party

by Lovely Trifles on etsy

Did you know that if you write down your goals in a measurable and realistic way that you are more likely to meet those goals? And that it helps to share those goals with at least one other person for accountablity?

We have read so many incredible posts on goals for 2012 and how people dealt with the 2011 ones that several of us thought it would be great to link up in one place.

So whether you are a BBA member or not, link up with your goal posts!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spark Your Business with Email Marketing

briberrie on etsy
We've discussed email signatures and using this free marketing tool to your advantage but how many of you have an email list? (You know, a way to keep up with your audience if your Blogger or Wordpress account goes wonky and you are freaking out and want to let everyone know you are still around and are having an incredible sale.)

An email list is not when you cut and paste from people that have purchased from you and begin sending them emails. That is spam and you don't do that because it is wrong. And unprofessional. But an email list is one in which you let folks sign up and you deliver content to their inbox once a day, once a week, once a month, or what ever time frame you think reasonable. But what do you send?

*Customize your Newsletters. Not everyone that reads your blog necessarily cares for all of your content so customizing newsletters allows you to send out something special for their needs. I have done this before and found it useful. Someone interested in my workshops or journals might not have any interests in my tutorials or recipes.

*Choose the Content Wisely. I made the choice to focus my newsletters on inspirational, get-your-rear-in-gear content because it was what people asked for and is something I am passionate about. I also choose to not send only links to my products (in fact, I hardly ever link to something in one of my shops).
Think about what you would want to see in your inbox.

*Have a Plan. Knowing what you want to accomplish with your email list helps with your strategy. Set up goals and map out the strategy of how you will reach those goals. I need to improve this with my list.

*Be Crystal Clear and Upfront. On my sign-up I mention what you are getting, how often, and why they want it in the first place.

Be mindful that it is not all about the numbers. Some people think they have to have a 1,000 followers on their blog and 10,000 email subscribers to be successful. If only five people buy from you or leave comments then that is not what I think of as success. If you only have 50 people on your list but those are 50 valuable customers then that is priceless.

QUESTION: Do you have an email opt-in?


Today's guest blogger is Erika. She is the creator of Artful Rising where she encourages you to get-your-rear-in-gear to Create. Inspire. Change the World. Join the conversation today via the weekly Artful Rising Newsletter and receive your own ebook on following your dreams.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2012 Challenge - New Techniques

Scrapbook Inspiration by Jennifer Sloane
One of the membership requirements of the BBArtisans is to participate in six monthly challenges.  This condition was launched to help members grow and stretch their imaginations (even if you're not a member of the team, stretch your imagination along with us!  And please link the BBArtisans Blog to your post!)

The January 2012 Challenge is brought to you by the Storybeader and is called New Techniques.  

This first Challenge was set in motion because I'm always wanting to try new projects but stress about where to find the time?  So, BBA members are hereby given permission to set aside time to work on a new project you haven't tried before.  It can be within your field of expertise, but doesn't have to be.  This Challenge also asks members to blog about your New Technique at least once during the month of January and talk about your progress.  It's a good time to ask questions and get some help (if needed) from the rest of us.

Here are some other things you might want to know about the BBArtisans Challenges:

1) There will be 12 monthly challenges with a given theme. Being a member of the BBA requires you to participate in at least six (6) challenges during of the year and to blog about your entry.
(Want to see what other challenges are coming up?  January through June Challenges are currently available to read about on the Challenges tab.)

2) One blog post must be submitted to the Team Blog linky about your Challenge between the 26th and the end of the month.

3) No late submissions will be acceptable.

4) Feel free to put any project you create in your shop, and talk about the Challenge in your description!

Convo the Storybeader on Etsy if you have any problems.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January's Giveaway -- Random Creative Gorgeous Wrap Bracelet/Necklace

Contest now closed.

Enter to win a neutral mix wrap bracelet/necklace!
This piece is made with Japanese delica seed beads and has a silver plated lobster clasp closure.  It's 15" (38 cm) long from end to end and can fit up to a 7 1/2" (19 cm) inch wrist when it's wrapped around the wrist twice.  It can also be worn as a short necklace. 
The estimated retail value is $30.

1. Visit Random Creative and share what additional product you like from her shop or what you would like to see added. 2. Leave a comment on this post and include contact information.
3. Like the BBA Facebook page and leave a separate comment on this post.
4. Spread the word on twitter with the tweet:

  Mix Wrap Bracelet/Necklace Giveaway #BBArtisans #giveaway

and leave a separate comment with your twitter name on this post.

January 19, 2012 at 11am central
Contest open worldwide

Random Creative (Rose): Beaded and button bracelets, earrings, pendants, and necklaces as well as PDF Patterns