Friday, April 5, 2013

Struggling Jewelry Artisans Read Here- These Ladies Rocked My World!

For those following their dreams and working hard to sell their jewelry it can be full of struggle, joy, doubt, fear, wonder, and many challenges.

I felt I needed to share this with those who feel like they don't have a community, aren't making enough profit for themselves, or don't know what the next step is for them and their jewelry endeavors.

Just breathe..... I want to tell you about Flourish and Thrive Academy. These have been the most inspiring ladies that I have had the pleasure of working with.


The whole mala making and jewelry thing just seemed to blossom organically for me. Only until recently did this become something real and tangible....something that made my heart thump when I thought about all I could do. Something that allowed me to be artistic and authentic and create a profit.

But I realized I needed help. I was stuck swimming in my own set of limitations. I was so full of joy as I created, but I wanted to create something that would sustain me and my family. I wanted to move forward and to focus on what truly brought me happiness, to simplify and streamline, to have a supportive community where I could be open about my struggles and ask questions but I had no idea how or where to get this or even if it existed.

This is where Flourish and Thrive Academy came in. Tracy and Robin helped me in so many areas, including areas outside my business. (And the fact that they were both serious Yoginis made it clear that I needed to hear their message!)

I signed up for their free trainings (I never signed up for any trainings before) and listened in on their free calls. From the very first email I was hooked. Being a native New Yorker I have to admit I am skeptical about these things. But once I heard how genuine these women were, how much knowledge they had to share about their own business and how eager they were to truly put all that good energy out there and create a community, it felt like everything came together for me. So much that I signed up to be an affiliate. Something I never thought I would be doing at any point in my life. But man, these ladies truly rocked my world. I can't say enough about how generous and knowledgeable they are. Good karma is swirling around these women!

They showed me how to optimize my site, connect more with my clients, and create amazing newsletters. I learned how to create collections that would sell and stay true to my art and my vision. They also demystified pricing for me (a real biggie for me personally!) and helped me focus and identify my dream client to create abundance and more sales. There were videos, worksheets, 2 hour calls each week and an awesome online community that supported me and helped me through my struggles.

This isn't an overnight thing. But since taking their course two months ago I have launched brand new collections in higher price ranges. My most expensive pieces have sold already and I have more newsletter sign ups each week than I have had in months. I feel like I am being even truer to my voice and my passions. My income is steadily increasing and I am feel so much smarter about how I am conducting my business. And I am not scared of calling it a business! I have also begun the amazing journey of casting my pieces for mass production, something I had no clue about before. I would never have tried this without their support. I am literally jumping out of my skin with excitement when I think about my new projects, and I feel really confident about how to promote them and get noticed.

You can easily sign up for their free trainings by clicking below. Some serious knowledge and love will be sent to your inbox. And after getting the free trainings do come back and tell me what you thought of them!

They have inspired and helped me in so many ways, I hope they do the same for you!

Love and Light,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Difference Between Customer Service and Mail Fraud ~ Important Tips from Leal

Many of us who sell on Etsy have had this experience, and I think it's something that should be addressed so that those that are new to the world of Etsy and selling have a reference.

When you sell Internationally, as many of us do, you occasionally run across the odd customer who wants you to help them circumvent their customs fees by marking "gift" on the customs forms or by claiming the item's value as less than the purchaser's paid price.

This seems harmless, and because most of us are focused on providing exemplary customer service, you might even feel tempted to agree to this request.  But, you might want to re-consider this decision because, contrary to your first instinct, this is not good customer service.

It's mail fraud.

Mail fraud of this type may seem harmless, but it's a felony. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.

Are you willing to go to federal prison for a sale?

One way to ensure your customers are aware you're not willing to participate in this is to add a note into your shop policies under your Shipping information.  If you've had a request or two like this, or are concerned about getting these kind of requests, I encourage you to do this.

Here is an example from our shop - "INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING shipping is available at reasonable rates that are listed at the bottom of each item description. Please note that we are not responsible for any VAT/Customs fees that may be related to to your order nor will we help you in illegally circumventing these fees if they are applicable to you. Falsifying customs declarations or having an item marked as "gift" in order to avoid customs fees is classified as Mail Fraud and is a felony."

Although good customer service is everything in any type of business, please remember that stepping over the line from good customer service into fraud or illegal action is often a line that the unscrupulous can try to blur.

Be careful out there!

- Leal

This article was written by Leal Kim, a 21 year old full time college student and artisan that makes handcrafted jewelry and accessories. Coconspirator of Bits n' Beads by Gilliauna on Etsy ( ) and proud member of the Queer Etsy Street Team ( ).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Google Analytics For Your Etsy Shop by Leal

Google Analytics, if you haven't heard of it, is an excellent tool whenever you have a website or blog that you're trying to grow a following on.  It provides a great deal of information about your visitors including what times of day are your busiest times, how people come to find your site and much more. It's well worth the time it takes to install it on your site and learn the ropes of using this terrific, free service provided by Google.

For many, installing this tool on your site is confusing.  Especially so when you're working with a site that has it's own templates like Blogger/Blogspot.

I hope this will help you understand the process.  Once you have it down, you can then adapt the process to get "GA" (Google Analytics) installed on nearly any online page or site you have.

  • First, if you don't have an account, now's the time to sign up for one. You can do that here... 
  • From there, look on the right hand side. There should be a link that says " + Add New Profile " Click it. The page that comes up will be titled "Create New Website Profile"
  • On that page select "Add a Profile for a new domain" Then, put your blog's address in the box where it asks "Please provide the URL of the site you would like to track." ( example: Ours is )
  • Click "Finish"
  • The next page that comes up is titled "Tracking Code". Scroll down and under "What are you tracking?" Select... A single domain (default)
  • To the right of that, there's a window with some code in it. Copy this code and then open your blog in a separate window. Make sure you're logged into your blog if you aren't already.
  • Go to your blog's dashboard (there should be a link at the top of the page that takes you there). From the dashboard, choose the link named "layout".  

  • In the "Page Elements" tab, choose "add a gadget".
  • In the pop-up window that comes up, click the + button on the gadget entitled "HTML/JavaScript". It will open a box that asks for a title and content. Leave the title blank. Paste the code from Google Analytics into the "content" box then click Save.
  • Go back to the Google Analytics page you got the code from and click the "Save" button at the bottom.

It will take approx 24 hours (possibly 48 if they're bogged down) for the GA to start reading your site. Once it does, when you open your GA account, your blog will be listed and it will have a green checkmark under "status".

From there, you can click on "View Profile" to explore your site's statistics to your heart's content.

This article was written by Leal Kim, a 21 year old full time college student and artisan that makes handcrafted jewelry and accessories.  Coconspirator of Bits n' Beads by Gilliauna on Etsy ( ) and proud member of the Queer Etsy Street Team ( ).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Organizing A Giveaway

I have to say organizing a giveaway is one of my favorite things to do! The excitement of running a giveaway can be contagious!

If you are new to giveaways here are a few basic tips to get the wheels turning.....

First, what kind of giveaway do you want to have? Will it be through your blog, your Myspace, Facebook, or Twitter? There are so many ways to do it! Although it is not imperative that you use social media, these are by far the easiest and the most successful platforms. If people are following and interacting with you already, they will surely want to be a part of your giveaway!

Choose an item (or two!) you think many people would enjoy receiving and spend time on creating quality photos of it.

Some ideas if you want to work through your blog:
  • Your blog is great place to make your official announcement, reveal your start/end date and explain the rules to participate.
  • You will need to decide how they will participate. One suggestion would be to have them follow your blog to enter, or leave a comment on the post. A really fun interactive way to do it is to have a theme. For example, say you are having a Valentines Day giveaway. Have participants tell you how they fell in love with their significant other in their comment to enter. This way your followers get involved and enjoy being part of the process!
  • Don't forget to post numerous lovely photos of the giveaway item and explain what makes it so special!  If you can make more than one of the same item, post one for sale in your shop as well, and offer a discount during the giveaway period.
  • Don't have a blog of your own? Head to the forums and search for a blog looking to sponsor a giveaway. They sponsor it, promote it etc. and you are responsible for mailing the item. You can even post a thread in forum saying you are looking for a blog that will do this. It is great promotion for both parties!
Some ideas if you want to do a giveaway on twitter:
  • If you use twitter you have less space to explain the rules, so don't make too many!
  • One way to do it would be asking your followers to retweet a given text to win. For example, "Win this http://link_to_item, 500 to RT wins!"
  • You need to be careful and specify one RT per hour or other limitation. It is also some work to count them up in the end!
Some ideas if you want to do a giveaway on your facebook page:
  •  You can ask your fans to post something on your wall to enter. Their favorite item from your shop, their favorite color, a story, just about anything. There is room to get quite creative!
  • Another idea that works well is simply tell all of your facebook (or blog) followers that they are automatically entered if they are following you. It is a great way to show your appreciation for their support and no one has to do a thing! 
Other tips:
  • To be fair, use a random number generator to choose your winner or have a friend/family member pick the winners name from a hat.
  •  Remind participants to leave a way for you to contact them if they win.
  • Once you have winner, contact and congratulate them and don't forget to ask for their mailing address. Assure them their info will not be used for any other purpose.
  • Have a deadline for them to respond if they do win.
  • Include a discount code with the giveaway item. They may want to share with friends or be encouraged to visit your shop and make a purchase!

With so many options, it is really up to you to find the best strategy for your giveaway. It all depends on what you feel is beneficial for your shop and your customers. Do you do it for the love of it and enjoy interaction with your fans and followers? Do you want to boost your twitter and blog following? Need more facebook fans? Just get excited at giving stuff away? It is all up to you!

Once you have it all figured out, promote it! Get into the forums, blog about it, tweet about it, post in on your fanpage, tell your friends or mention it in your newsletter/mailing list if you have one.

Have fun and enjoy the ride! You will be surprised at how excited your fans will get when they have chance at winning a free item from your shop!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Screen Shots! - Quick Tutorial

Even wonder how some sellers make a screen shot of their awesome treasuries? Or a section of a blog that they have been featured on?

Wonder no more!

On a Mac:
  • If you want to capture your entire screen- hold the command key (little apple) + shift + 3. It will be automatically saved to your desktop.
  • If you want to capture a portion of your screen- hold the command key + shift + 4. A little icon that looks like a target will appear. Click and drag the area you want a snapshot of.  In both cases, the snapshot will appear on your desktop as a png file.

On a PC:

  • Use the [PrtScn] button on your keyboard then open an editing program and paste it in! 
  • Use the crop tool to select the portion that you want.

That's it!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Q&A with Valorie - Tax Basics For Your Shop!

Valorie, our resident tax specialist here on the blog, has offered some more great answers to very common questions sellers may have about filing with the IRS........just breathe and read further.

     Q.   I just started selling in June and didn't make $400.  Do I need to file?

  1. Ok, this one I researched because I really wanted to see the answer.  I have seen other websites and advice, forums etc mentioning a $600 filing requirement.  There is no minimum requirement if you own a business.  I think they confuse the magic number there with the 1099 issuing requirements (that’s a whole other ball of wax.  Just because you don’t receive a 1099, it does not mean you don’t have to declare the money.)

    According to IRS Publication 334, Chapter 5, “You must report on your tax return all income you receive from your business unless it is excluded by law. In most cases, your business income will be in the form of cash, checks, and credit card charges. But business income can be in other forms, such as property or services.” 

    I researched the databases I had access to and found no answer so I am assuming that you must indeed report all of it, even if it is just a little bit.  However, by claiming the income, you also get to claim any expenses you had.  If your expenses were more, then your business loss would be deductible from your income so it isn’t a bad thing!  Just remember that your business needs to make a profit at least three out of the last five years or the IRS can rule it a hobby (this limits your expense deductions dramatically.)
Q. What else do I need to run my shop legally? I don't need and EIN- no employees, yes?

A.  If you don’t have employees, you don’t need an EIN.  You can get one easily online if you choose to.   Some prefer to put an EIN on documents versus your social security number.  Realistically, unless you have an LLC, Corporation or Partnership, your business return is filed with your personal one so it doesn’t matter if your SSN is used.

Q.  If/when I file? Do I file under self-employed? Or is there another way I should be doing this?  What next?!   

A.     Your sole proprietorship tax return (Schedule C or C-EZ) is due the same time your personal tax return is due:  April 15.   Your business return is part of your personal return and it all goes together to the IRS.  Most Etsy jewelry makers will have to file the C because the C-EZ is not for use by those who have inventories, business losses, expenses over $5000, or business use of home deductions.

Q.  Do I need to register? Get a license or is that only state?

A. You do not need to register with the government as a business for federal tax purposes unless you are an entity other than a simple sole proprietorship (corporations, etc.).  You can register with your state Department of Revenue to file and pay sales taxes (all of which can be done online).  You can also obtain an occupational license if your city requires one.  Seriously, they are usually under $20 and worth it to just go get one for peace of mind.

*Please keep in mind that this blog is just to advise you that you should think about it before you act.  Your best course of action is always to consult your tax advisor or accountant.  I really hope this helps!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Waiting for Your Next Sale? Don't!

It is a helpless feeling.....putting all your love into creating and posting your items, only to find slow traffic to your shop, low views and no sales. But don't pout! Turn a negative into a positive!

Now is the time to get creative and revamp your shop!

  • Have photos that don't seem to fit? Blurry? Dark? Now is the time to retake and experiment with new backgrounds and lighting! Even just adjusting them a little more in photo editing software can give it that something extra to encourage more views.
  • Maybe your photos aren't so hot to begin with? This does take a lot of time and practice, but with so many blogs dedicated to offering photo tips (including this one!), you can't go wrong! Try researching more in the forums on how to improve them. The better your photos, the more views you are likely to have. 
  • Keep your shop looking fresh by arranging it every so often and featuring different items.
  • If you have an item that seems to get low views, try switching the photo with another one in your set of five. This can sometimes work magic!
  • Head to the forums for some critiques. Etsians are kind and will really help you! 
  • Why not try expanding on your descriptions? What makes the item special? Have you described the color, texture, size sufficiently? Who could use the item? Is there a story behind why you created it?
  • What about rechecking the spelling of your listings and shop announcement? Typos make your shop look less professional and are so easy to fix!
  • Are your policies clear? Maybe there is something else you would like to add to help your customer understand the checkout process? 
  • Always keep your shop announcement current. There is nothing worse than a sale announcement for last month there!
Avatars and Banners
  •  Try changing your avatar every so often. Choose your best photos of items that really stand out. You never know when a seller in the forums will get tempted to click!
  • What does your banner say about your shop? Are you using crisp photos and clear text? There is a great article on how to create your own banner on Etsy.  But if you don't have the time or the graphic design skills, don't worry. There are shops that sell branding packages with banners, avatars, and business cards rolled into one! Just do a search on Etsy!
Free Exposure
  • Search the forums for blogs looking to feature shops.
  • Have a Blog? Host a giveaway! Tweet about it, tell your friends, post a promo thread in the forums!
  • And I am sure you know all about social networking on Facebook. Myspace, and Twitter!
But most importantly......keep crafting! Keep adding new items to your shop and enjoying what you love to do!!

*What do you do while you wait for your next sale?