Friday, August 26, 2011

Time to Send in Your Applications!

It's that time of year! Check your calendars a bunch of times, because you should start thinking about application deadlines for the craft fairs you want to do. It's rare to be able to email them the week beforehand and get it. Like the show in the image above--Holiday Handmade? It's a juried show, and they will probably get over 200 applications for 65 spots. I sent my application yesterday. Wish me luck!

I've also applied to another show already (Sugar Plum Bazaar!), and I'm waiting on a third. Plus, I've got two more French Nest markets, and the regular Sunday farmer's markets. Fall is so busy for a crafter!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saving Money as a Small Business -- Trade, Trade, Trade

Saving money when in business or starting a business is crucial to its success. I try my best--here are the two things that I do well:

1. Buy in bulk.

With a small crafting business, you may be tempted to buy small to begin with, and then reinvest that money again and again, until you can afford to "buy bigger."

I recommend against this. I think you should learn the value of buying in bulk to start. I know many of you are loathe to use your credit card for business purchases, but this is the reality of business: if I can buy my materials for less money overall, then I will make more money in the end. Those bottles of organic jojoba oil up there? I snatched those up when I learned about their price. I took all she had left. It will last me a year.

Buying in bulk means you can price your wares for profit, as well. If you only buy supplies in small amounts, you are paying a premium, and your profit is smaller.

2. Barter whenever possible.

There are lots of benefits to bartering. The most important one is that both parties are getting full retail value for the trade. You can barter items or services--whatever you have that is of value, you should consider trading, as you can.

I am not suggesting that you offer a sack of potatoes to an online supplier as payment. I am suggesting that certain expenses in your life can be handled by bartering, in order to reduce your monthly cash expenditures.

For example, I regularly trade editing services for haircuts. My hair goddess has been cutting my hair for 16 years now. We recently came to an agreement: I edit the monthly newsletter for her business, and she cuts my hair when I need it. We both get full retail value for our services. She hates editing her writing, as it takes too long and is too laborious for her. Since it is not much effort for me, I'm happy to do it for her. She is the master of cutting my hair so that it curls just right and I don't have to "do" it every day. If I took scissors to my own hair? Girl, please.

We both benefit from this arrangement by getting the full retail value of the services. (How much do you pay for hair services? She's expensive!) Sometimes I do data entry work for her, as well. Again, she LOATHES that kind of work, and for me, it's just second nature. A bartering situation works best when both people involved think they are getting the better end of the bargain. Both folks win.

Some people come up to me when I'm vending at the farmer's market (usually other vendors) asking me if I want to trade. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. If their wares are something that I want, then yes, I always trade for it. I have traded for: hot sauce, salsa, vegetables, fruit, a massage, lemonade, lunch, herbs, flowers, spices, cookies and pie. All were even retail value trades.

Heck, sometimes a trade just falls into my lap. I have several longtime customers who interact with me more like a friend. Last week, Russ came up to my booth and said, "Look, I picked a little squash and some cucumbers for you this morning." Fresh, organic produce, right out of his garden. Of course, I picked up his favorite soap and gave it to him. It was a treat.

I'm going on and on about bartering, aren't I? In these economic times, I think it's wise for everyone to consider what we have of value already. What skills or products do you have that are worth trading?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I Am Not an Imbecile

"Really, dude?" she seemed to say.

I got an email the other day, asking me, "What does it take to get a link on your soap website to mine? I'm a fellow soaper." death?

Seriously, why would I link to your soap website from my soap website? Why would I send people to you when I want them to buy soap from me?


So I emailed the guy back, saying the links I have just show a bit about who I am--my chiropractor, my web guy, soap information, things I find funny, my Facebook, my Twitter. It's a separate links page, so if people are there, they are really digging deep into my site. I was polite.

He replied with a lecture about SEO, and how he's an SEO pro, and how exchanging links will bring both of us more traffic. He said "most soapers" don't know how to exchange links properly, and ended with this: "Honestly, just linking out to friends won't get a site anywhere."

I replied to him that I am the first result on a Google search for "handmade soap Denver," and that's good enough for me.

This post was supposed to be helpful to you for your business, but I'm not sure how to wrap it up. Saying something about ignoring requests to exchange links might be part of it. Another part might be, "Don't let rude emails get to you."

Or you could blog about them. Do you receive emails like this?