Thursday, April 18, 2013

Using Social Media...It's Right Up There With Getting a Website

Last time I talked a little about using the Internet as a marketing tool for your business. It can be a scary adventure, especially if you are not really sure of yourself on the computer. Questions pop into your head like "How am I going to learn to do this?" and "where am I going to find the time when all I want to do is my art?"

Then there is the use of Social Media...a whole different and complex animal. Most of us use Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, and a host of others to stay in touch with our friends. Why not move over a little and start pages or incorporate attached pages that reflect what you love to do?

I think that when we consider adding Social Media to our already growing list of things to do for our hobbies or business, we just freeze. Not only are we creating more responsibility for ourselves, but when we put our "art" out there, we are showing others our soft underbelly, the innermost part of ourselves that is the most vulnerable to criticism and rejection. And we tend to be driven not to engage in this marketing expansion by fear alone.

We use the excuse of time, even though we are already on those sites. We worry that our presentation won't be good enough. We worry our product will be rejected, or worse yet, not even looked at. We worry because our art comes from deep within us. Am I right? or am I right...So...stretch those
marketing muscles!

I was right there with ya! I knew from experience that having a website and keeping that up was going to be stressful enough, but extending my outreach to more than one social media site was going to be excruciating! I searched other blogs until I found on that told me I didn't need to use Social websites to market my products, that they didn't work. For about two weeks I felt completely vindicated! Whew, was what I thought to myself.

As those two weeks passed, there was this little voice inside my head that kept nagging at me. "You dumb dummy! You had your own marketing business! You have to do what YOU think is best!" ugh...It is marketing 101. It is called networking. It is called FREE ADVERTISING!

So, I jumped in, and with both feet. My motto has always been either both feet in or none at all. I had, about six months earlier quit using Facebook all together. All I did there was play games for hours on end any way. It was tough swallowing that thought and getting back into it. I was sure I had lost most of my gaming friends by then from no more than lack of conversation and game play. To me, it was like admitting I was wrong or something! The head games we play with ourselves...

When I did go back to Facebook, I searched out groups that had support for peeps like myself and found three that I joined in my field. Basically I searched for Wire Wrapping. It was just that easy. Facebook, then Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn (a site for professionals of all kinds), Google +, and I know there are more, but my brain is a little mushy this morning.

I will be honest, at first it did take a little more of my time than I liked, like almost all day for the first few days. I had to set up the accounts, play around on them, get lost in all the information, and wade through all the needless stuff that I didn't think pertained to me. I did, however, get it done. Now it only takes a couple of hours each day to update and throw a few pics out there. Pinterest I do at night usually because I find sorting though mounds of photos relaxing. Okay, I'm a little weird...

Some guidelines to doing this? When you are setting up your account(s), try to keep the account names the same or really similar if at all possible. I will use mine as an example. My website is My Facebook fan page is GGChambers designs LLC, my Pinterest is ggChambers designs, my LinkedIn goes by my name but it listed under ggChambers designs, my Etsy and Artfire sites are ggChambers designs, and lastly I will tell you about Twitter. Twitter only allows you so many letters in your title. ggChambers designs was too one letter...ugh. So I used ggCDesigner. I figured it was close enough and since ggC is on my logo tags, in enough time, maybe others would catch on.

The cool thing is that Google caught on quite fast and if you search ggChambers designs, I fill up the first result page. If you Google just ggchambers, I still fill the first page. And guess what...Artfire and Facebook are the two top hits, along with my website.

So, be consistent. Start out with one or two Social Media sites and go from there. It does give you added exposure, and the best part is it is all free advertising. And we like free!!!  Plus, you incorporate the all important networking with your peers.

Secondly, find your comfort zone. Figure out how much you can handle and how quickly. If you only feel comfortable starting with one Social Media site and working that for a week or two, do it. Then gradually work that second site into your daily schedule. Pace yourself. It's okay! No body is going to stand over you with a bat and demand you get on 10 sites in one week, honest! Some people CAN do that, but most cannot. Don't stress yourself out about it, cause then you will really hate it and not do it at all. I don't want that for you.

Remember, in the beginning this all takes time, but if you get an additional sale or two from it, what does the loss of an hour or two a day matter. If your rely on your worldwide exposure from one location, you have just narrowed your ability to reach that ultimate customer that will buy time and
time again. Plus, you can check it anywhere you go! Love it!

So...What can it hurt? Be consistent, be patient, be persistent! All it will cost you is a little time, but the rewards can be wonderfully fulfilling!

Until next time...Stay Wired Up! Gail

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Using the Dreaded Internet...Do I Have To?

I hear from artists that work in many different mediums that they just want to work at their art and go to shows. They absolutely do not want to get involved in the time consuming job of a website. I smile at them because I used to be one of them.

I neither wanted to take the time to do a website or felt I had the need to. After all, I loved doing shows of all types and so did my husband, who goes with me a lot of the time. What more did I need? After all, I picked up some pretty loyal customers from those shows!

My really good friend, Joy from CJ Beadstore, convinced me that I really needed to get my name out there using the Web. Every time I saw her, she asked me if I started yet, and would continue to admonish me till I had to leave the store.

You see, in my not too distant past I had my own marketing business where we (I had employees) did websites of all sorts for small businesses. Not only did we do that, but we performed many other Internet marketing functions for businesses, as well. (i.e. website placement on search engines, keyword search, website hosting, etc. etc.) I was tired of poking my keyboard, while surrounding myself with books that fed me the information I needed to perform certain programming tasks when my memory failed me. I lived it, ate it, and slept with it. I had no choice. My office was in my home. I considered myself a "burnout" and fought the idea of getting back into it tooth and nail. Even though I loved what I did, thinking back on those days even now makes my blood pressure go up...

Anyway, I broke down last June and started doing research on getting a website. I had to have a domain name, my www. I went to my favorite guys at 123ehost, where I did business for years. There are many places to get your domain, like, godaddy. com, and yahoo, to name just a few. I go to 123ehost because I had used them before.

Ok, I purchased about $100 worth of domains....couldn't make up my mind at first...and called my boys, who said that Wordpress now offered websites you could sell from. Having used Wordpress in the past, that seemed logical to me, and the website, was born. That is not to say that Wordpress e-commerce is the end all of website software out there. There are a ton of others that other artists use, like Storenvy or GoDaddy. You really need to do the research and see what suits you and your level of talent the best. (There are a ton of places to start a store out there, and just cause I listed these, doesn't mean I've used them, unless I stated I did.)

As far as the cons go, having a website is tedious at times, until you get a system down. If you've been making your product for a while, you are already used to taking photos of your stuff. (We will reserve that lesson for another time.) You need photos ( I recommend at least two of each product), a title for each, detailed descriptions of each product, pricing info, and shipping info. That is the minimum. There are other things you can add, like variations, your store policy for returns, etc. We can touch on that later, as well.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and in the beginning it is. But let me tell you, it will be well worth it. You can list your website on your business cards, on your Facebook page, and people will go to it. It doesn't have to be fancy. And actually, you don't have to sell from your site if you don't want to, although I highly recommend you do.

Some website programs allow you to download your store from one site to another. I am on Etsy, too, and started and Artfire store. Artfire allowed me to download all my info from Etsy with just a few keystrokes. It saved me a ton of time!!

More pro's to all of this chaos??? I have gotten great customers off of every site I am on. I have been in the jewelry design business for one short year, but have managed to develop a relationship with people from all over the world via my websites. I spend about two hours a day checking or tweaking my websites and checking all my social media sites. I do it over my morning coffee. If I need to take photos and work on descriptions, I reserve one day a week for that. I have developed spreadsheets to house my titles, descriptions, and prices and I just copy and paste. I work on all three sites at one time that way, and it's done.

And as soon as I can figure out how to get the spreadsheets downloadable, I will have them available for you. They won't be protected, so you can tweak them to satisfy your business, or you can message me and I can help you with that.

The moral of this story...the Internet is a tool, just like your favorite pair of pliers. The use of it can cost very little in relationship to the return. You can market to just a few via shows, or you can market to the world. It is definitely your choice.

Any questions or comments are welcome, and I hope you Stay Wired Up!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taking a Vacation Can Be...

Since I've been gone for a while, I think it only fair to tell you that not only have I been on vacation, so has my computer. The day before I left for vacation, my computer decided to take a trip of its own. Much to my dismay, Gamer (her nickname) went by way of Tennessee to the technical hospital, while I headed to South Padre Island. Parting was such sweet sorrow...but I managed to get a new tablet out of the deal.

When you manage at least three websites, a slew of email accounts, and various and sundry social media sites, you cannot afford to be without Internet for long. One day amounts to withdrawal, two days brings misery, but three days or longer can mean a possible disaster for a small business woman like myself. Mostly I just had withdrawal, until I figured out how to use the tablet. Even then, it wasn't the same. Darned learning curve!!

Having the need to connect to the outside world is an evil we business people must deal with. And really, it isn't an evil because it allows us to be in places and touch people we would not ordinarily be able to. We can provide the products we love to make to the entire world via the Internet. We can teach what we do to others without even meeting them personally. We can expand on our own knowledge with a click of a mouse or a tapping of a keyboard. When you think about it, technology is quite amazing and quite helpful, if used appropriately and within the boundaries we set for ourselves.

My point is twofold. Don't be afraid to grab technology by the tail. It can be time consuming but most often it's well worth the pain and the time. Technology can bring you sales. It can help you teach others. It can help you learn. It can help you make friends among others that feel like you do or do what you do. Ok, maybe that's more than two points...not sure cause it's late.

I do know this. I missed my computer, but I missed my connection to the world more. Did it kill me? No, but I made sales while my computer and I were both on vacation. Enough said.

Stay Wire Up! Gail