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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dipping In a Toe

So, back to entrepreneurship.  Last post, I was talking about being sure that this is really what you want to do and are committed to do.  Well, I'm going to take a step back here because I think there are some things you can do to test the waters before you really have to commit to anything.  Now, another disclaimer -- I'm talking mainly to creative, artistic types who want to explore whether they can make some $$ from their artwork.  I think many of my basic principles should be applicable to others too, but I don't want to lead anyone astray either.

Let's say you make incredibly beautiful (or at least that's what your mom and friends say) rhinestone widgets.  You've given them as gifts and made some custom order for friends who have been more than happy to reimburse your expenses for materials.  But, will anyone actually buy these things at a retail rate?!  Well, with the internet, it really doesn't cost much to find out!  And, that's what I mean by "dipping in your toe".  Exactly how you ask?!  I'd suggest three basic steps:  1) set up a blog, 2) set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and 3) list your widgets on Etsy or another one of the crafts selling sites (more on this later).  And, link them all together.  Except for listing fees on Etsy, everything else shouldn't cost you a dime, but should afford you ways to let the world know about your rhinestone widgets and how people can buy them.

The blog should be your hub -- these days, with all of the functionality offered on blogspot and wordpress, it's almost as good as having your own (expensive) website (though, you might want to at least reserve the name you want to use for your potential business, and there's yet another topic for a post!). 

The Facebook and Twitter accounts are a way to make connections to others who can get the word out about your product.  Start with your friends, especially the ones who say they love your work -- well, have them say it out loud to their friends and provide testimonials that you can use on the blog so that potential customers don't have only your word for the greatness of your product.  I'll warn you, at first, you feel like you are shouting into a black hole.  Your updates and tweets are going into an empty forest where they and the falling tree are not heard.  But, amazingly, a wonderful person who is not your mother or already a friend actually responds, "likes", or starts following you.  It is indeed a happy day!

Ah, and yes, exactly where can people go to buy your product?  Etsy is the big kahuna marketplace for all things crafted, but there are others who are trying to establish similar models (small or no listing fee and a cut of the purchase price on the back end.  I'll post more about the pros and cons of such services next time).  Nothing like getting an email telling you that an item has sold and to "ship now".  And, once you get over the shock, you really had better be ready to ship!

Ok, I've given you some tidbits to think about, and I'll be following up with more details and more ideas soon.

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