Saturday, April 30, 2011

Build The Community: WINNERS!

Shop Handmade Australia Final basic 150A massive thank you to all the businesses that rallied to spread the word about
Shop Handmade Australia.

This brought many more shoppers of Aussie handmade to the Facebook page and blog, which is so important for the success of SHA; and in turn brings valuable exposure and selling opportunities to the businesses who are featured.

I am very pleased to announce that the following businesses have won 1 month’s worth of blog sponsorship on the Shop Handmade Australia blog valued at $20 each:

Candice Lee Accessories

Selkie Smith Design

Calamity Bolt

These business have won space to add their business button to the blog as well as 4 Spotlights over the course of May 2011.

Again thanks to everyone who has support CHA in promoting it’s new sister site Shop Handmade Australia!

If you are interested in advertising your business for just $5 through meaningful and easy to read promos on the Shop Handmade Australia blog and Facebook page, please click HERE for more information!

Cheers, Chicken

Friday, April 29, 2011

Build the community and WIN @ Shop Handmade Australia

Win logoHelp us attract more handmade shoppers to SHA and WIN a month’s FREE blog sponsorship worth $20!

At Shop Handmade Australia (CHA’s sister site), we connect handmade buyers and sellers via a mutually beneficial dialogue of quick and easy to read promos. Offering valuable information about handmade makers, special events, sales, discounts and competitions, the old adage ‘The more the merrier’ certainly fits.

Get involved:
Please use your business’ facebook page to help us grow the community and you will go into the running to win a month’s FREE sponsorship on the Shop Handmade Australia blog worth $20! There are 3 spots to be won!

What do I do to enter?:
1. Cut and paste the following shout-out as your status update using @tag + link:

If you love buying Australian handmade items, you can access all the latest information about Aussie designers and their sales, discounts, new season releases, special events, competitions and more by liking @Shop Handmade Australia. PLUS just by being a part of the community, you can access special benefits just for SHA followers! Follow the link and ‘like’ SHA today!

Attach a link to the SHA page to the status update:!/ShopHandmadeAustralia

2. Comment:
Post a comment on the bottom of this blog post to enter, stating that you have spread the word via your business page. Be sure to paste the address to your Facebook page for verification purposes.

The prize:

  • A 150 X 150 button on the Shop Handmade Australia blog (static or moving images are welcome)
  • If you are a handmade bricks and mortar store or market, you will receive an automatic free listing in the Shop Handmade Directory and free promotion of any events you may have (up to 4 times per month).
  • If you are an online business, you can request information such as a store spotlight, special event, discount, product launch (and more) to be published to our blog and Facebook page up to 4 times during the month.

That’s it. Thanks for helping!

The Rules:

  • There are 3 sponsorship packages to be won for the month of May 2011 and are for the Shop Handmade Australia blog.
  • Competition closes Saturday April 30 2001 at 8pm EST.
  • Your status update post must be the above listed text, with an active @tag and link to our Facebook page to be eligible.
  • Your comment must contain a link to your facebook page for us to view and verify your shout out.
  • The 3 winners will be contacted within 24 hours. Please make sure that your blogger profile has your current email address listed or you publish your email address in your comment, so that we can contact you to make arrangements. If we cannot communicate with you within 48 hours of the competition closing, the prize will be re-drawn.
  • Competition is only open to Australian pages with relevance to the Australian handmade industry only.

Cheers, Chicken

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What aren’t you telling your customers?

Info TabWhen I visit your Facebook page, I can tell a lot about you in roughly 5 seconds flat. From the photos lined up across the top, to the information on your wall and comments made by likers. But mostly, it’s what I can’t learn about you quickly that has me concerned.

Time after time I find that Facebook business pages have real a lack of vital business & contact information on their Info tabs. If I can’t work out who you are, what you are about, and how to contact and/or buy from you quickly, I’m outta there!

So it’s time to ask yourself… what aren’t I telling my customers?

About you/business description: Do you have a business story? A mission statement? What is your business all about? Who are you making products for? Do you do custom orders or only sell what is available in your store? Do you cater for children and/or adults? Don’t let it be a mystery. Tell them clearly and concisely what your business is all about.

Is there a bit of who you are in there too? Without going into too much detail (we don’t need to know what you had for breakfast) make sure you paint a small picture of who you are. Remind them why they are buying from a WAHM or artisan who has taken a leap of faith and is following their dreams.

Your location: where are you? In Australia? Which state? I especially find that many pages that advertise markets fail to make it clear which STATE they are. Listing a suburb without a state can be very misleading and frustrating; many people who visit your page won’t know where you are. Business lost. Make sure you make it abundantly clear what your full address is, including state.

Your contact points: Tell them every possible way to contact you when they are considering buying from you! Clearly list your email address, business phone number, postal address, website, online store address, blog address, twitter account, LinkedIn details and more. If you’re there, don’t let it be a secret!

Product information: You might have lots of lovely pictures of your product in your photo albums, but have you listed the item description, size, colours availability, price, postage, stock availability, how to contact you to order and lead time underneath? If customers have to leave a comment under your picture to ask, you have probably lost the sale. Remember that Facebook does not notify you when someone comments on a photo. So by the time you find the comment and respond, it could be too late. And this does go for people who have online stores too; sometimes people just don’t bother to go to your online store.

Oh and do you offer gift vouchers?

Payment options: Do you only accept Paypal, or do you also accept EFT and Credit Cards? People need to know when planning to make a purchase from you.

Terms of sale: How quickly does payment need to be received? How long do you ship after receiving an order? Do you accept returned products and issue refunds? If so, under what circumstances? Do you offer exchanges? It is best to clearly list this information ahead of time to save argument and confusion should an unfortunate situation occur. In fact, have you even considered it yet?

Postage: Do you offer/insist on registered post or offer Express Post? Is the charge built into your item price? Do you have flat postage for all products or does it vary? Do you charge for packaging and handling as well as Australia Post charges? Do you post internationally? What if an item goes missing or is damaged during transport? Again, think about it now and make it clear for all to see.

Now quick, go and check your Facebook pages and plug any information holes!

Cheers, Chicken

P.S. What drives you nuts when visiting Facebook business pages? Leave your comments below, we would love to hear them!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mother’s Day Treasury

Make Mother’s Day this year a WIN/WIN occasion!
Buy your Mum a lovely handmade gift (win for Mum) and support handmade creators/members of the CHA (win for the handmade industry)!

Check out these lovely card and gift ideas for your Mum: from $6 to $55 and lots in-between. Get in now to make sure your item arrives in plenty of time.

Links to each maker’s store are at the bottom.

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

MD Treasury 2011 black

  1. Cheeky Pickle: Card $6
    Facebook Page
  2. Here We Go Loopy Lou: Card $6
    Madeit Store
  3. loopty Loop by connie: Card with faux case and removable flower $8.50
    Etsy Store
  4. Ragged Blossom Beauty: Eye shadow $9
  5. Apooki: Earrings $9.50
    Madeit Store
  6. Oopsidaisi: Sleep Mask $10
    Madeit Store
  7. Poppy & Bea: Necklace $15
    Madeit Store
  8. Plushka’s Craft: Pin Cushion $16
    Madeit Store
  9. Saira Rose Designs: Charm Bracelet $22.50
    Etsy Store
  10. Olive Bay: Necklace $25
    Facebook Page
  11. Body’roma: Sweet Espresso Face Scrub $25
    Facebook Page
  12. Wrapped in fabric: Book $37.15
  13. Bella Stationery Studio: Gift Pack $40
    Madeit Store
  14. Little Wise Owl: Vintage Fabric Handbag $46
    Madeit Store
  15. White Raven Designs: Charm Bracelet $49
    Etsy Store
  16. Little Bird Decor: Flower Mirror $55

Cheers, Chicken

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken’s Pick: Top Facebook Pages to Follow

Love FacebookMeylah:
“At Meylah, our goal is to help creative folks succeed in building their businesses online. We know it can be tough, but with our weekly entrepreneurial advice and social networking know-how, you’ll be one step closer to success”.

Scoutie Girl:
“Where passionate crafters, designers, & artists connect, converse, and commune”.

Crafting an MBA:
“Business thinking for designers and makers”.

Build a little Biz:
"helping busy mums kick ass with their little home biz idea!"

Handmade Spark:
“design and inspire. connect and promote”.

“Handmadeology exists for the purpose of teaching artists how to successfully sell their handmade goods online, and to feature the newest handmade, vintage and supply items found on Etsy”.

Social Rabbit:
“Social Rabbit is a social media business to help you to engage your customers to achieve your business goals through social media, and in particularly through Facebook pages”.

Market Me:
“MARKET ME offers affordable marketing solutions for businesses. From Graphic Design services & Business Branding services, Consulting services, & Marketing Services & Training”.

Women in Business:
“Inspiration and advice from women who've made their own success stories. A daily blog designed to help you live your online business dream”.

CRAFT Magazine:
“Celebrating the DIY spirit, CRAFT's goal is to unite, inspire, inform and entertain a growing community of highly imaginative and resourceful people who are transforming traditional art and crafts with unconventional, unexpected and even renegade techniques, materials and tools; people who undertake amazing crafting projects in their homes and communities”.

Go follow them all now! Oh and what is your favourite Facebook page to follow for your craft business? Do share, we’d love to know.

Cheers, Chicken

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Handmade originality in an online world

CHA Square Pledge 300You’re surfing the net on websites like Facebook and handmade stores, admiring stunning handmade creations, and then WHAM - it hits you in the face. There is your product; only it’s not being sold by you. It’s being made and sold by someone else.

If this has happened to you, then no doubt you have struggled with the feeling you get when you see your work replicated. Your stomach sinks and your blood boils. How can this be? Knock-offs of your products are out there in the market place for people to buy, and someone else is making a profit from your creativity and hard work.

Why is this happening? Why are we doing this to each other? Surely it goes against everything this industry stands for. The handmade movement encourages creativity - not copying! It also embraces the beauty and satisfaction of making something by hand; it supports the ideals of moving away from mass produced, poor quality and disposable wares, instead offering more sustainable options which (more often than not) come from our own region. I believe the Australian and international crafting community is unique and beautiful because (for the most part) it has an undercurrent of love, sharing, responsibility and support. These are things not seen in mainstream retail. But copying other’s products is in direct contradiction to the ethos of the handmade movement. Our lovely community is being damaged from the inside... by some of its own people.

The internet and social media has given us unprecedented access to our customers. But it also means that our products, ideas and designs are more vulnerable than ever to being copied, because an online business presence not only attract potential customers, but also competitors who say "Hey I can make that...they will never know". Sometimes the copying is blatant; an exact replica. Other times someone has changed it just enough to be able to claim that they had no idea their product was like yours, and that it is just a coincidence. But you know your own work (or a knock off) when you see it. Your gut tells you so.

It is important to clarify that I believe common products should be considered part of the public domain: that is that no one has copyright to make cushions, T-shirts and earrings (for example). It’s how products are created and put together, and what the finished products looks like which is in question here.

For some time I have watched conversations and declarations taking place online about copying. It has been a topic on the CHA Discussion Board and other forums, and I have seen different Facebook pages tackle the issue in different ways. Some people choose to ‘name and shame’, others write to the copiers asking them to stop. Some just complain to their friends, or change products; but most despair at what to do. No matter how people choose to handle it, the resounding feeling is that copying is not a compliment, it is not cool, it is upsetting and morally wrong.

Copyright law is a massive topic relevant to this discussion, and one that I am not qualified to write about. Yes you do have rights; but no, I can’t tell you how to go about putting these things in place... or enforcing them for that matter. (You can read information about copyright posted here by White Raven Designs who did some research and kindly shared her findings).

Besides: I want to come at this issue from a different angle. One which is more suited to the nature of our industry. And that is, one of conscience. We don’t need lawyers to tell us that copying is wrong. We were taught that in school. That little voice inside our head tells us when we are doing the wrong thing. We need to listen to the voice because it is it knows the truth.

If you are copying someone else’s work, you need to stop it. Dig deep into your own creative spirit and push yourself to move past the seemingly easy answer to copy what works for someone else. Find your own voice. Find your own creativity. Your will feel so much better for it, because when people compliment you on your products, you will know that you genuinely deserve the kudos. Being in this industry is not just about the money. It’s about being creative first and foremost. It’s about following your passion. And if you can make a profit from that, then that is a bonus.

So to this end, I am drawing a line in the sand. I ask everyone reading this who runs a crafting/design business to take the CHA Handmade Originality Pledge. Let people know that you will not stand for copying in this industry, nor will you participate in it! Below this post in the comments section, declare your pledge. Tell us your business name (feel free to provide a link) and state that you are taking the Handmade Originality Pledge. Then grab the coding for the pledge badge and add it to your blog to show your support and involvement, and post about it on your Facebook page so that your customers know about your pledge as well. It will tell others that all products made and sold by you come from your own creative soul and that you have not looked at someone else’s work and decided to rip it off!

I know that this topic will elicit a strong reaction. Talk about it on the discussion thread (please leave the below comments section for pledge making only); and get it all out of your systems. But don’t be nasty, or point fingers. That is not the way of the handmade community.

Together we can let people know that copying is not going to be tolerated or accepted in our community and that now there is a way to stand against it.

Cheers, Chicken

ADDITION TO ORIGINAL POST: I just want to clarify the this pledge is NOT retrospective. If people who have copied in the past wish to make amends, change their ways and take the pledge, I whole heartedly invite them to participate. This is about drawing a line in the sand HERE AND NOW; and moving forwards with the right intentions and behaviour!
FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION: Blogger Angela of Yes, Dear has gone on to provide the customer's perspective on this topic after reading this blog post. A very interesting read. Please take a few more minutes to click through and read on.

Pledges are welcome from around the world; just be sure to tell us where you are from if not from Australia!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pay It Forward

Craft Swap WrappingSharing the love; it’s what we do so well in this industry. And the Pay It Forward idea is a perfect vehicle to spread the love far and wide. So I am adding myself to the end of the Pay It Forward chain. Following on from Natasha from Piper + Lily/Little love: home of the small, who is following on from Bec at Little Shop Of…

So what I have to do is this: I promise something handmade to the first five people to comment on this post. To be eligible, those five people must make the same pledge & post it on their blog & so on & so forth. The rules are that it must be handmade by you & it must be sent at some point during 2011. So, who is going to join me? I will be participating with some products from my own Chicken Ink. Creative business!

Please make sure I can access an email address for you so that I can contact you to make arrangements!

Cheers, Chicken