Well, our new site has been up and moving for over a month now and we are pretty darn happy with it! So pretty and functional too! Arianne over at Aeolidia just wrote a nice post about how it was working with us on the site. Get the inside scoop over on their blog
A vital first step before creating a website is working on content strategy, and a very important part of your content strategy is going to be figuring out your site map: what pages will be on your website, and how are you going to organize your navigation so that people can find what they need?
If you already have a website, it’s always good to take a look at it after some time has passed, reassess your goals, and adjust your pages and navigation. It can be great to do this on an existing site, because you will hopefully now have some data and feedback to use to inform your decisions.
At Aeolidia, my web design studio, we have built content strategy consultations into all but our simplest projects, because we’ve realized that without a good content strategy, you are not going to have an effective website.
I polled our designers and developers for their thoughts on site pages and navigation, and together we came up with some great questions to ask yourself to get started, and some general tips. Come to my web content strategy class and let’s work on building your site map!
I thought it would be fun to share an example of a well-planned site map. Working with the 1canoe2 team was a highlight of our spring! The design process was fast and fun,and we’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the site.
Beth, Carrie, and Karen’s goals for the site were all shopping-related. They told us:
“We need a total website design. Blog, info pages, shop for retail, wholesale, and a custom work page for invitations, birth announcements and custom notecards.
We love the way Etsy works, and we’ll never give up that shop, but we would like to be able to bypass the Etsy and PayPal fees, and we’d also like a wholesale login and shop page, as well as a custom item page. The custom item page will probably need to be a Phase 2 thing, as we don’t have those elements designed yet. We’re hoping to have a line of wedding invites/notecards/announcements done by the end of the summer.”
We took this info, and went through the process of planning a smart site map.
1) Define goals: 1canoe2 had done this step.
2) Consider the shopper’s goals: 1canoe2 had an existing Etsy shop, website, and blog, and had developed a good idea of what their customer is interested in.
3) Brainstorm pages: we got this list from 1canoe2:
- About Us
- FAQ/Shop Policies
- Press/Where to Find Us
- Mailing list signup
- Social media (FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram)
- Contact info
- About us
- Custom orders page
4) Narrow it down and 5) Prioritize: As you can see on the website, only seven links made it into the main horizontal navigation.
The FAQ page includes the shop policies (no reason to have two separate pages for this!). Press was left out, and Where to Find Us was renamed to Stores for clarity. The mailing list and social media links are in the footer of each page, where they’re simple to find, but not taking up valuable real estate. Rather than make a page for custom orders, we made it a category in the shop. This section also serves as a bit of a portfolio gallery, as it uses photos of custom items they’ve created.
6) Group: Once you have real content ready, navigation usually falls in place pretty easily. The 1canoe2 site has a clear area for the cart and account links, one that contains the main informational links, and an area in the footer for external social media links. When in the Shop section of the site, a vertical navigation bar is included with the shop links.
The 1canoe2 site is clear and easy to understand. It has all the info needed to shop, and it’s packed with personality (check out their super adorable “About” page!).
Beth’s testimonial for us almost brings a tear to my eye, because she expresses all my goals for how I think Aeolidia projects should go, but from the client perspective. It makes me so happy!
“Understandably, we were completely overwhelmed by the idea of designing our new site. We knew it needed to look like us and that it needed to be clean and robust. Because of their specialized client base, Aeolidia already knew the type of company we were, without hours of explanation or exhausting revisions. We were so blown away with the first design draft that we only made a few small revisions, and that’s saying something from people as visually picky as we can be. It was intuitively 1canoe2, in a way that we weren’t able to express on our own.
Every step of the process was easy, educational, and organized. I just don’t think it could have gone any smoother or faster. And on top of all that, the final website is above and beyond what we dreamed up ourselves. We are enabled to go create more hand-illustrated products and effortlessly sell them ourselves in just the way we want to present ourselves to the world.”
How about you? Are you ready for a smart, useful website, with an intuitive navigation? Bring your plans, ideas, questions, and join me to learn about web content strategy!
If you are a procrastinator consider some of these tips from Julie Moberly, our upcoming instructor for Overcoming Procrastination: Get it Done with More Joy and Less Stress.
- If there’s a particular job you dislike, such as doing the dinner dishes or making the bed, conduct an experiment: set a timer and see how long it actually takes you to do it. Most people spend significantly more energy and time dreading a task in proportion to the actual time it takes to do it. This one will surprise you!
- It’s easier and more fun to check small, quick tasks off your to-do list than it is to work on larger, more focused tasks. However, the emotional payoff for sustained effort is huge. The next time you’re having trouble settling in and getting focused on a task, set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes and commit to sitting in your chair for that length of time. It’s guaranteed you’ll be in the flow of it by the time the ringer goes off.
- Make decisions by limiting your research to no more than three reputable sources, set a deadline, then commit to making it the right decision. Your commitment creates the correct path.
And don’t wait to get tickets for this class.
Start your new non-procrastination ways now!
I read an article in Hacker Monthly recently about what happens to those who try to take their passion for crafting (in the author’s case, it was code, but it resonated for makers like me, as well) and run their business as a CEO. In essence, he said that you can be great at what you do, but if you don’t have the soft skills to be social, network, and market your start-up, then you’re not going to get very far.
So I’ve finally honed my hard skills (five years later), but it is definitely those soft skills I lack, and I think a lot of artists and crafters are in the same boat. We feel daunted by marketing, or socially awkward at the simple idea of handing out business cards. And that is why Sheri Hauser’s Tools for Marketing your Business class at the Studio of Awesome sounded so appealing. Here are just a few things I learned.
1. Marketing opportunities are literally everywhere. In the age of digital, we forget to look beyond the Internet. You can be on as many social networks as you can count on one hand – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr – but not everyone is online. You might actually be missing opportunities to connect with people interested in your work. Postcards, mailers, and print ads still work to get your name at the top of a potential customer’s mental pile. Getting involved in your local business organizations will also help get your name out there.
2. People are innately curious about each other. It’s easy to get bogged down and feel intimidated by connecting with other humans about your work. Just be yourself! Talk to your neighbors in the grocery store line. Meet people at craft shows, even if you’re just attending. Getting over the fear of shaking hands – even if you just let new faces come to you at events – is going to give you the courage to ask how they can help your business grow.
3. Having an elevator pitch ready will help tailor your networking. Speaking of asking for help, networking is all about cultivating a list of people who can help you. When networking with others, it’s best to have an elevator pitch so that each of you can decide whether or not the relationship is worth exploring. Tell them about your brand, product, what problem it solves, and what you’re looking for. End by asking them a question – it helps to form this almost like a challenge. “You wouldn’t happen to know anybody who does ____, would you?”
4. If you have to, schedule an event on your calendar to get involved in your marketing agenda. I have a pretty hectic work life, and I know that many of us who run our own businesses do. I work almost 80 hours a week. Finding time to market can be stressful – but guess what! I’m doing it right now. This blog post is a form of marketing! I set aside an hour this morning to finish it up and get it to the wonderful folks at School House Craft. It can be little things or big things – you don’t always have to go for broke – but if you can get into a routine of reaching out, it will just come more naturally over time.
Hopefully those are a few tips you can use to get started marketing your business! I definitely recommend Sheri’s class to anyone who needs inspiration on how and where to market and network your small business. Her tailored Q&A sessions with each business owner were positive reminders that we all have different needs and goals, and there are many, many opportunities out there to live long and prosper with your small business.
About the author:
Meredith Smith is the nose behind Sweet Anthem Perfumes, a microperfumery from Seattle, WA. A writer and designer who took her love of literature, art, and music into the ethereal world of perfume, Smith is always busy, but she still likes to learn and share. Follow along with her many adventures at www.betweensoups.com (her personal blog) or visit her shop at www.sweetanthemperfumes.com.
We are excited to announce that School House Craft is now offering weekly classes and hands-on workshops for artists and crafters!
The School House Craft Continuing Education series is a new weekly program of classes leading up to our annual Fall Conference here in Seattle. With classes from beginning to advanced, taught by instructors from all over the area, School House Craft is now your year-round place to learn how to start and grow your creative small business empire!
Take a look at our 2013 Class Catalog for info on current classes and be sure to keep in touch with School House Craft by signing up for our email list and adding our Facebook pageto your timeline. Most of our new class and sign-up announcements will go live there before anywhere else!
- Pricing for Profit: Beyond Formulas: Feb 5th - Go beyond the formulas and learn how to make a profit and make a living doing what you love!
- Get Ready to Wholesale! Feb 11th and repeated March 5th - Learn what you need to have ready before you start approaching wholesale buyers for retail stores in this in-depth workshop.
- Focusing Your Product Line: Feb 4th – Having trouble deciding what to make to sell? We’ll help you get focused and build a product line that you can grow into a successful business!
Other classes coming soon:
- Sales Techniques for Craft Sellers
- Working with Shop Owners
- Line Sheet Building Workshops
- Apply for Your WA State Business License
- Marketing for Creative Small Businesses
- Licensing Your Work
- How to Find Shops and Galleries
- Etsy Shop Critiques
and many more!
To be among the first to find out about our newest classes, sign up for our mailing list and “like” our page on Facebook!
- DATE: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
- Location: Phinney Neighborhood Association
6532 Phinney Avenue North Seattle, WA 98103
Room 31 (in the lower brick building)
- Time: 7:30pm – 8:45pm
- Cost: FREE
We are excited to announce two classes in October that will help you get you ready to grow your business, move toward wholesale selling, and make the most of your craft fairs this holiday season!
- In just a short time, you’ll learn:
- What to look for in a craft show to improve your sales
- How to identify your customer – the one who is most likely to buy from you
- The difference between enthusiasm and pushiness
- Things to avoid when working your craft show booth
- Read your customers body language and communicate better with them
- Overcoming objections and turning them into sales
- How to close sales on the spot without feeling like a smarmy salesperson
- And more!
- Topics covered will include:
- Readying your business to combine wholesale and retail sales
- Preparing a simple product line sheet for wholesale sales
- Encouraging buyers to attend your retail show
- Attracting wholesale buyers to your booth
- Talking with wholesale buyers during a busy show
- Preparing a production calendar to handle wholesale order fulfillment
- Following up and closing the sale with wholesale buyers after the show
So…. the conference starts tomorrow! I don’t know about you all but we’re pretty freaking excited to meet everyone and get to breaking down the business of craft!
I asked one of our founders, Kristen Rask of Schmancy to answer a few questions for us. Kristen is also the president of Urban Craft Uprising and the organizer of Plush You! She’ll be teaching a couple of classes this weekend on Craft Show Vending and giving us a peek at what goes on behind the scenes at UCU.
How did you get started in the business of art and craft?
I have been making stuff since i can remember and then I started selling at craft fairs when I was young. I actually started a friendship bracelet business in the summer of like 1987. There were three of us and we each made $13! That was a lot of money back then! Then I started doing craft shows and selling to shops in the 90′s.
Why did you choose plush as your medium? What is it about plush that you love so much?
I actually started making other things and then when I opened Schmancy I started doing more stuff in the plush world since that’s what I was selling. I really love it as each thing has a unique style. Everyone’s work is so different that it’s fun!
What is your favorite part about being a crafty small business owner? Do you have a favorite out of your many projects?
I love who I work with. I love being my own boss. I love having a shop that represents what I love and people seem really excited about it and seem to like it too. Last week my shop turned 8! So crazy. Favorite projects…oh man. I think Plush You! is still one of my favorites. I really am so lucky. I love everything i do…except banking.
I think it’s really important to continue educating yourself and inspiring yourself in your business so to be able to do School House is so great for that. UCU is awesome because I love everyone I work with, the vendors, my roles. It’s really stressful but I love it.
Oh man. I wish I knew the key. I feel like I work all the time but I am also good at taking breaks. I don’t have kids so when people think I get a lot done, I think that’s one thing that allows me to accomplish a lot. But I take lot’s of notes, prioritize and I guess I work pretty fast. Know shortcuts on your computer!