Monday, July 22, 2013

Top Tips :: Card payments at markets

  1. Clearly advertise the fact that you accept credit cards.  Ask your provider to supply you with a sign or create one yourself - see below.
  2. If your device does not issue a physical receipt, always make sure that your customer provides you with an mobile phone number or email address where the receipt can be issued.
  3. Keep a record of all your transactions, don't simply rely on the the device.  You'll need this information if someone disputes a transaction.
  4. Remember to have your device fully charged and you have a way of charging your device without an electricity socket.
  5. Remember not everyone trusts technology, always find out where the closest ATM is.
  6. Do your research and shop around to find the right service for you.  Remember to reveiw contract periods, monthly fees, transaction percentage and transaction fees.
  7. Think about setting a minimum spend or surcharge for transactions to avoid unnecessary transaction fees. You should advertise clearly that there is a minimum spend or surcharge.  Refer to Lifehacker's article for further information on this issue.
  8. Bring along your devices' Trouble Shooting Guide.  

Make your own sign!

We have created a simple table top sign for you to use at you next market!  All you need to do is download, print, cut and fold.

Click Here to download this template.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Accepting card payments at Markets


Loss of Sales

One common theme I've had at markets is the fact that many potential buyers did not have enough cash on them to make impulse beanie purchase.  Time after time I've been asked "do you take credit cards" and I've had to say "No". This has costed me many sales.  I've tried to keep these customers by handing out discount vouchers to entice them to purchase through my online and offering free postage but it only saw 1-2 people purchase after the market.

Having a credit card facility would of been perfect in these situations!

Accepting Card payments at Markets

I spoke with Christina Coleman from Billymac Clothing about accepting credit cards at the markets she attends.  Christina noted that she has a clearly visible sign that states that she accepts credit cards.  She also mentioned that "people will spend more with you if they know you accept cards and will save their cash for stalls without card facilities".  

Wireless EFTPOS machines

Regular market goers tend to use the traditional EFTPOS machine from their bank.  There are many benefits to using these machines including customer convenience, value-added extras from the bank to the vendor, trusted machinery etc

Jen Campbell from Multiplied Magazine uses a traditional EFTPOS machine from Suncorp. She suggest that you shop around and don't be too shy to bargain.  "I was able to bargain my credit and debit card fees (% of sale per swipe), the monthly fee, and even negotiated the first 12 months free of the monthly charge!"

Personally I've avoided getting an EFTPOS machine as I only do 2-3 markets a year and I couldn't justify the monthly fee plus it never occurred to me to bargain with my bank!

Smartphone Credit Card Readers


PayPal Here

Last year Kasia from Ink.Paper.Cloth spoke about PayPal Here.  Since then I've heard some pros and cons about this service.  To be honest back in August 2012 when we first spoke about PayPal Here I didn't apply due to reports from some handmade sellers about the lengthy application process and reports of sellers having issues with the swiper. From what I can tell PayPal stopped issuing their swiper in December 2012 and they have recently released in the UK a swiper that looks more like an eftops machine.

When I asked about Paypal Here on the CHA's facebook page last week most sellers had praise for this product.  Jacquie South from On a Whim Designs has been using her PayPal Here swiper for some time now and she loves it.

Jacquie did mention that she has only had one issue with PayPal Here and that was to do with a customer who opened up a dispute regarding a payment they made at a market. The customer said their credit card was used without their authorization. According to Jacquie she had done everything right, including checking their signature and inserting all the details of the purchase.  The customer chose not to have a receipt sent to them via email or phone, which meant that she was unable to offer that receipt as proof of purchase.

Jacquie further explained that "I had the disputed amount of money taken out of my account, plus a $15 fee, as the customer is always protected. I'm glad to say that PayPal took it up with their bank and I was finally reimbursed with the $60 the customer had disputed but not the $15 fee! I now make sure that EVERYONE enters a phone or email details so they are sent a receipt"

Paymate OnTheGo


Last week I was reading a post within the Madeit.com.au sellers group on Facebook about accepting credit cards at markets.  Some of the members mentioned using Paymate and being very happy with this service.  I hadn't heard of Paymate before so I decided to take a look.

After reading the recommendations and doing my own research I decided to join up.  It was an easy and fast process - after completing the necessary paperwork I was approved and I received my Paymate OnTheGo Encrypted Swiper within a week.  The iPhone app was easy to download and so far I'm impressed.

Holly from Puppy Dogs Tails also has a Paymate Swiper.  Her main issue with the product is that event though you can activate signature capture and have the customer sign it with a stylus it doesn't actually save it anywhere as proof of purchase.  I suppose that is where the customer details and receipt generation come into it.

Like PayPal Here there are some fees associated with this service and I suggest that you shop around to find the right service for you.  I'm okay with paying transaction fees as am able to capture those impulse beanie buyers who have eluded me at past markets.

What device/App do you use?  

Leave a comment below so others can benefit from your experience.



About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs.  Chrisitne's next market will be the Dreamers Markets on 20th July at Parramatta Riverside Theatre.  She is also the the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance and the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids.  she is also is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

{Promotion} Work With Me :: Liana Kabel

Liana Kabel, Measure Up Brooch

Hello I’m Liana and I’d like to introduce myself. I run a creative business as well as working to support others with their creative businesses. For me this is the perfect combination.

Since 2004 I've been a plastic obsessed jeweler, creating wearable pieces from mostly discarded domestic materials, including Tupperware, knitting needles and tape measures. Before that I had a business making brightly coloured paper mache homewares.  As you can probably tell from those descriptions I’ve always cared about making something that stands out from the crowd, as well as making a living from it. I did that with both those business. Along the way I learnt a lot about how to do things and a lot about how not to do things. As far as I’m concerned making mistakes is fine (and inevitable) as long as you can pick yourself up, learn from them and improve.

For the past three years I’ve been employed as a business coach, as well as continuing my jewellery business.  In my coaching work I was able to support hundreds of women set up their own small and micro businesses. These were generally businesses that were conducted at home, often around caring for small children. It was great work while it lasted and I’m grateful for it, because now I know it is something I want to continue to do as part of my own business. My focus is working with small creative businesses. These are the businesses I know and am most passionate about.

If you've been wanting to make more of your own creative business or hobby, I’d love to help you with that. The beginning of a new financial year is an awesome time to do just that. For this reason I’m offering a special package for July.  This includes an intensive two hour session where we work on improving any aspect or aspects of your business you’d like to focus on. The usually price is $300, but for July it is $160. Feel free to email me with any questions or to discuss making a booking at liana@lianakabel.com

I’m based in Brisbane, but conduct my business interstate and worldwide.  I’m also available for creative business workshops, so if you can organise a group and a venue, I will travel. Again please email me to discuss the possibilities.


 Find out more about Liana via her Linkedin resume.

I sat next to the lovely Liana at the 2012 Artful Business Conference.  I found her to be delightful and insightful.  I'm also the proud owner of a Knitwit Bangle and Measured Up hairclip which I wear when teaching crochet at my local wool shop.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dandelyne and the Artful Business Conference


I am 100% ecstatic to be virtually attending the Artful Business Conference this year. 
My business, Dandelyne, is only 2 years young. It really is trotting along nicely but, I would love for it to gallop. My ultimate goal is to stitch FOREVER and, I feel, in order to do this I need to invest in it. After investigating the speakers and content of the Artful Business Conference I knew this was the key to helping me reach my goal. I work from home, on my own, and as many small businesses do, I indulge in Dandelyne days where I feel lost and would love someone to answer the myriad of questions I have. I need a buzz, kick and knowledge … and I feel the ABC will do just that, and then some.
I would personally love everyone interested to own one of my miniature embroidery hoops. They are made in Melbourne and then hubby and I spend many nights sanding, drilling and constructing each one. It's definitely a labour of love. To be able to workshop, with many like-minded people at the ABC, I am hoping I will be able to take these little babies to the next level … YIPPEE

Smiles, 
Son
www.dandelyne.com
sonia@dandelyne.com


Monday, June 17, 2013

not a book review ... Made By Hand


A few weeks ago I went rummaging through Mr CHA's library and to my surprise I found "Made by Hand" by Mark Frauenfelder.  I've really enjoyed reading this book, as its easy to read and it talks about a topic close to my heart.

Mark's book has given me a new respect for my friends who keep chicken and how my coffee is made.  Its also awakened some long held DYI desires that I've put on the back burner while I've been building my business and being a Mum.

What was the last book you read?  Did it have an effect on you?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Handmade Stockists


After my post the other week - Is handmade all about babies and kids? - I got to thinking about bricks and mortar stores that stock handmade products.

Thanks for our followers on Facebook I've come up with this list.  If you know of a business we have missed please let me know via email contemporaryhandmadealliance@hotmail.com


ACT

Shop Handmade Canberra, Allara Street, City Walk Blvd ACT

New South Wales

Alie Jane Travel Accessories & Designs, shop 4, 200 Hunter street, Newcastle, NSW
Blackbird Corner, Darby St. Newcastle, NSW 
Follow Store, 380 Cleveland Street, Sydney, NSW
FOUND::The Store, 1011 The Old Princes HighwayEngadineNSW.
Free Range Living, Shop 1. 2 Prince Charles Parade,  Kurnell, NSW
Little Finch, 56 Wallace StBraidwood, New South Wales
Made590, 590 King Street, Newtown NSW
Made by Others, 366 Argyle St, Moss Vale, NSW
Naponda Community Store, 226 Cressy St, Deniliquin, New South Wales 2710
Olive & Co, 185 Hunter St Mall, Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW
Sew Make Create, 8 Shepherd Street, Sydney
Studio 52 creative hub and store, 2/52 Govett's Leap Road, Blackheath, NSW.
Sweets Workshop, Shop 4, 58-60 Carlton Cres, Summer Hill, NSW
The Bower Bird Project, 3/308 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty, NSW
The creative spirit centre, 43/44 40 Sterling Road, Minchinbury NSW
The Creatory, shop 3, 60 Carlton Cres, Summer Hill NSW 2130
The Nook Leura, 133A The Mall, Leura, NSW.

Queenland

Billycart Markets & Store, Shop 2, 6 Knox Street, Sandgate, QLD 
Cultiver, 2/126 Brisbane St, Ipswich, QLD
in.cube8r gallery, 368 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD
Jolie, Shop 1, 11 North Rd, Brighton, QLD. 
Karen White Gallery, 138 Wickham Street Brisbane, QLD
Lilly Cottage, Shop 4, 31 Benabrow Avenue, Bellara, Bribie Island
handmade high street, 466 Ipswich Road, Annerley QLD
mimmis, 33 Victoria Street, Foresthill, QLD
Nook, 19 Browning St, West End, Brisbane, QLD
Side Street Vintage, 85 Riding Rd Hawthorne in Brisbane. Entrance in Monmouth St, QLD
The Collective Store, 78 Bay Terrace, Wynnum, QLD
Two Create - Handmade Elegant Bliss, Shop 2/6732 Cunningham Hwy, Aratula Ql

South Australia

Add Character, 42 Semaphore Rd, Semaphore, SA 
E for Ethel, 116 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide 
LittlestVINTAGE, 91 Glen Osmond Rd, Eastwood, Adelaide, SA 
Mockingbird Lounge, 63a Broadway Glenelg, SA 
Storison, 73 Main St Hahndorf, SA 
Vintage Carousel, 26 hawker street, bowden, SA 

Tasmania 

Classwood, 52 church st Ross Tasmania
Hope and Me, Quadrant Mall, Launceston, Tas 
Squirrel & Dove, 207 Invermay Rd, Launceston, TAS

Victoria 

Davies & Son, 520 Hampton st Hampton, Melbourne, VIC
Gleaners Inc. 2 Ballarat St., Brunswick, VIC
I Dream a Highway, 259 High Street, Northcote, VIC 
in.cube8r gallery, 321 smith street fitzroy VIC 
little shop of..., 2 Woorayl St Carnegie, Melbourne, VIC
Maker's Emporium and Cafe, Shop 2/170 Warrandyte Rd, Ringwood North VIC
MiM Found Ena, 239 High Street, Northcote, VIC
Naughts and Crosses, 104 Ormond Road, Elwood, VIC
own little world,  122 Fordham Avenue Camberwell
The {East Gippsland} Makery, Bairnsdale, VIC

Western Australia

@The Den, 250 South Terrace, Fremantle, WA. 
Aster & Ruby, Dolphin Quay Mandurah Ocean Marina, WA
Behind the Monkey, Behind the Monkey 479 Beaufort Street, Highgate, WA
Common Ground, 312B Williams Street and 621 Hay Street Perth  WA
Fossick Handmade, 93 Egan Street, Kalgoorlie, WA
Montage Collective, 224a William St, Northbridge Perth WA
Mr Sparrow, Shop 3, 223 Bagot Rd, Subiaco, WA
PIGONHOLE, Forrest Chase, London Court, Shafto Lane, Perth, WA
Story Boutique, Floreat Forum Howlett Pl, Perth, WA.
The Tenth State, 2/10 BROADWAY, CRAWLEY, Perth, WA.
William Topp, 452 William Street, Perth, WA. 
Willow and the Bowerbird, 78 George Street, East Fremantle, WA


Monday, May 27, 2013

Is handmade all about babies and kids?

freesias asked
"Why do the majority of Handmade sites mostly stock babies and kids wear? Is that all that sells?"

It does appear that many handmade sellers do make for kids - I am one of them.

I make kids items because I have kids and it relates to what I'm doing right now.  I have noticed that my fellow kidswear makers are also mothers (but not all of them).  I've also noticed that these makers products have evolved as their children get older.

There is also the fact that handmade kids products sell.  Especially items for girls in pink.  Personally I don't like pink and I have spent my entire life avoiding it, but that might have more to do with my red hair.  When I started out making beanies in 2009 I wanted to make exclusively for boys but I kept getting requests for girls beanies.  After having my daughter I now understand the impulse people have to buy pretty things for the the little girls in their lives.  Its a bit likes shoes and accessories in your pre children years.

There are many sellers out there that make for adults:

Online

You can find them on Etsy, Madeit.com.au and hand-made.com.au.  

Markets 

If you are looking offline for handmade items that aren't made for kids, I would check out boutique markets like Canberra Handmade, Finders Keepers and the Rose Street Artist Market in Melbourne who cater more for adults and creative folks.

Handmade Friendly Stores

If you are looking for a bricks and mortar store that stock handmade products for adults I would check out In.cube8rCultiverThe {East Gippsland} Makery, Little shop of Handmade and similar stores.

Where do you purchase your handmade items for adults? 



About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Handmade Crossroad



At a crossroad

I'm at a point in my handmade journey where I'm wondering if I should continue.  My heart is screaming "Continue on, there is more to create" and my head is going saying "How are you going to fit everything in?".

In the last week I've been offered an amazing job, its located only minutes from my house, its during school hours, the pay is decent and its a great introduction into the world of getting back into perceived "real work" (I think I've worked harder as a handmade seller than I ever did when I worked for someone else, but that's not how many of my non-handmade friends see it).  My husband was made redundant a few weeks back and has decided to start his own business.  Financially things are tight, I've been able to contribute to the family finances which has been great but to be totally honest I can make more money working for someone else.

I've seen many handmade businesses come and go over the 4+ years I've been in operation.  A lot of them have closed their doors due to family commitments,  finances, the dive no longer being there, disillusionment,  conclusion of maternity leave  ... the list goes on.

So does a having a "real" job mean the end of my handmade business?


I hope not.  My business has become part of my identity,  its kept me sane during the 'years of tears' (the term I made up to describe the time when I had 3 kids under school age at home with me), to be honest its given me a a sense of self-worth and a much needed creative outlet.

What has your handmade business given you?


I know not all handmade creatives aren't mothers or in fact women, but seen its the Mother's Day weekend I proposed a this question on our facebook page today

As a Mum, what does your handmade business give you? 

and I was amazed at the honest responses.

Shantelle from Missy Melly "A creative outlet and I've made a heap of fabulous friends"
Blogger Bree from Me and My Two Guys "An outlet and a way to keep creating".
Clair from Angel Caprice  "My business gives me a sense of my own identity. As a mum we become feeders, nurses, drivers, cleaners and well just mummies. When im at the markets selling my wears for a few hours I'm 'Just Clair, the handmade business owner'. Its my time to create and show the world who I am."
Becci  "self worth and creative outlet for sure. Also a sense of satisfaction, some me time and that 'all important' validation when someone buys something"
Hollie from ZZ Totz  "Certainly my creative outlet and something that I am doing for me. Very satisfying!"
'kaetoo' Canvas Photo Boards "A focus. Before I started doing this, I wasn't as happy. My handmade business is something that is for me, that I fully control and that I can do as much or as little as I want with, not like parenting or working a "real" job."
Samantha from Said the Ladybird to the Turtle   "It is my sanity, and I really notice when I can't create. I'm not able to now and I've had to look for other ways to find some relief and identity."
Elizabeth  "Most def creative outlet, it also gives me a sense of contributing to family income, and satisfaction of creating something that maybe someone else will like. My children also see me sewing/creating and I can involve them by way of sitting on my lap while I sew and hopefully that inspires them to be creative. Very importantly it gives me a sense of myself, ie not just a mum who cooks , cleans( haha) etc. There are so many reasons why I create"
Kellie from Mudpuddles  "The feeling of contribution, even if its a small amount, my husband works long hours and every little bit helps. Plus I love that I can work from home doing the things I love."
Cassie from Rainbow Lollies  "A sense of achievement and of course an outlet to unleash creative mess!"
Tania from Squiggle and Stitch "Similar to the other ladies comments. Mainly it is something I do for 'me'. It is definitely a much needed creative outlet and has allowed me to earn some extra money and meet some fantastic women who I now consider friends. I started it as a way that I could earn a small income from home and still be around my kids, however I must admit I now find it very difficult getting anything done with the kids around....but that's another story."

Running my own handmade business whilst being a Mum has given me more than simply a bit of extra cash.  And it is for this reason I'll be keeping my handmade business running.  I might not be as prolific but I can't simply let 4+ years of work go waste, nor can I give away the benefits I have received.

Do you have another word to add to our Word Cloud?  

Words used:

  • Identity 
  • Self-worth
  • Creative-Outlet
  • Friendship
  • Satisfaction
  • Validation
  • Happiness
  • Control
  • Sanity
  • Income
  • Inspiration
  • Contribution
  • Achievement
  • Balance

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Making Wishes Come True


The creator behind inspiring hand-made Perth based Imogen’s Angels, Fiona Holmes is hosting the second annual Princess Ladybird Week commencing 24th April 2013 to raise funds for the Make- A- Wish® Australia.

In 2010 Fiona’s daughter Imogen earned her soft feathery wings and joined the other angels after a courageous journey through illness.  Known as the Princess Ladybird, Imogen was a loving, determined, smiley, loud, boisterous, happy, bossy character who was literally “louder than life”
says mum Fiona.

“While Imogen left us nearly 3 years ago, she is still very much with us and by creating Princess Ladybird I can help myself and my family to remain close and connected to her and at the same time we have a chance to give back to an organisation that helped Imogen to fulfil a wish of her own.”

Imogen had a unique fondness for ladybirds, something she shared with her mum and the women in Fiona’s family.  For them the ladybird represents luck, innocence, magic and joy.  During one of Imogen’s treatment sessions a little ladybird somehow made its way into the completely sterile treatment room, earning Imogen the nickname Princess Ladybird from the nursing staff at Princess Margaret Hospital.

During the week of 24th April to 1st May each year, Fiona sells Princess Ladybird brooch pins to raise funds for the Make- A- Wish Foundation with 100% of the profits going directly to the foundation.   This helps to support Make- A- Wish to grant wishes to other seriously-ill children and their families so that others can experience the magic that Fiona, her husband Jason, big brother Kody, little brother Ashton and Imogen were able to experience when they went to Queensland thanks to Make-A-Wish in
2009.

Imogen lives on each and every day in the creative magic Fiona shares with her range of high quality products she hand-makes with love and sells through Imogen’s Angels.

For more information and to find out how you can purchase your own Princess Ladybird visit www.imogensangels.com.au.

Monday, April 15, 2013

'NO' isn't a dirty word

Source: Pinterest via 24.media.tumblr.com
'NO' isn't a dirty word. In the past I would bend over backwards for customers and sometimes I would make items which were not within my defined scope.

A while back I've decided to give saying 'NO' ago.   And with that I realised that saying 'No' wasn't a bad thing, in fact this word that is commonly thought of in the negative turned out to be a positive for my business.

Saying 'No' has enabled me to focus on what I want to make, what type and quality of yarns I want to use.  It has helped me to be creative and decisive.

Sure I have lost some sales because I've said "No" but the eventual cost of saying no has paid huge dividends.




"No I won't copy that beanie"

"No I'm not going to make that in cheaper low quality yarn"

"No I'm not going to sell it for less than what it is worth"

Saying no has helped my business to grow and thrive.

So next time someone makes a request that doesn't feel right say "No", because you are in fact saying YES to keeping your brand integrity and YES to spending time doing what you want to do.





About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or Like her on Facebook.


This post was originally posted on C Percy Designs blog. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Facebook cover changes and how they affect small business


Recently facebook have altered their rules regarding what can be placed in your cover image on your business page’s timeline.

As all covers are now public and appearing in news feeds of your likers (and their friends), the push is to make them more image based and less text. All covers must now only contain 20% text (this includes any text in a logo), the upside of these new rules is that you now have more freedom in what text you use.

Previously you were prevented from including web addresses, phone numbers and pricing in your cover. Any “call to action” was also prohibited (asking likers to enter a competition, share with their friends etc..). These rules have been lifted, making it easier for businesses to comply.

Facebook uses a graphic overlay to determine the percentage of text, you can test your cover using the same grid at http://coverphoto.paavo.ch/ any box containing text counts towards your 20%.

Non compliant cover image




Compliant cover image containing 12% text



Whilst it is common for businesses to ignore these guidelines, facebook has been known to shut down pages without warning, it may not be common, but you would hate to be the exception and have to start your page again from scratch!



Clare Armstrong is a mother of 3 little girls, wife of a FIFO worker and owner of Little Waves and Bridal Waves. After working as a manufacturing jeweller for over 15 years she has left the big city workshops for her home studio, to design, create, and spend time with her daughters.




NB: The CHA is not an affiliate of pavvo and receives no payment for their mention in this post. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“Thank You and Please Come Again” - A simple lesson on customer service



A couple of months ago as a little gift to myself, I bought a handcrafted glass brooch from a fellow handmade seller. It is an original high quality piece of accessory which I am more than happy to add to my collection. I placed the order, checked out my shopping cart and paid for it immediately.

The first day after placing my order passed… no e-mail from the seller. OK, maybe she only checks or sends e-mails once a day (which is fine as a lot of people do that to minimize distractions).

Two days…

Three days…

Still no word from her about receiving my order and payment. Not even a quick note to tell me when my order will be posted. I thought perhaps this seller was really busy filling up the orders and do not have the time to thank each buyer personally. So I kept my fingers crossed that she did receive my payment and waited by my letterbox for the package.

The brooch did arrive within a week of placing the order. I did a happy dance (well not really because I am shy that someone may see me but I did do the hip hop in my head). I eagerly opened the package. The brooch was lovely, perfect and just as described in her store’s listing. I put my fingers inside the package again, expecting a business card (so I can keep and refer to it for future purchases) and maybe a little note thanking me for my order. Hmm… feels empty. I turned the bubble mailer upside down and shook it (like how you would do when you could not believe there are no M & Ms left in the packet).

Nope. Definitely nothing else in there. That was rather strange. Did she run out of business cards or notepaper or pen or ink or something? Does writing a simple Thank You seem a bit too much for this seller to fit into her busy life?

How did I feel? To be honest, a tad disappointed. Not disappointed with the item but with the service that I received. It may not seem like a big deal to some but I suppose that, as a seller and a buyer in the handmade marketplace, it makes me expect a certain level of customer service which sets us apart from the big retail outlets. I understand that some stores do sell a lot on a daily basis and for the owner to send a “Thank You and We will be shipping your order in X number of days” e-mail to each individual sales order could be a momentous task. However if you wrap and pack each order personally to every customer, it seriously only takes less than 2 minutes to write “Thank You” at the back of your business card and pop it into the package.

I am always proud about the kind of customer service that we give and receive within the handmade community. The simple old-fashioned service where we call each other by name and knowing that there is a real person behind every transaction. It is about establishing a basic relationship to show support and gratitude between two parties.

Consider this – the seller is actually missing out on a very important opportunity to reach out further to her customers. If she had sent an e-mail after the purchase, she has given me a secure and comfort feeling that my order did go through and was accepted. If she had included a business card in her package, I am able to keep it and remember her shop for future purchases. If anyone commented that they love my brooch and want to get one for themselves, I can easily pass on the seller’s details (opportunity for her to get extra business with hardly any effort).

Will it affect my decision to buy from this seller again? Maybe.

One thing’s for sure is that I am always going to associate this experience with her shop. It may not be intentional but it will be remembered.

The next time you sell something online, do not underestimate the significance of a simple Thank You.

Do you think that writing Thank You notes is overrated? Is it really such a big deal not to receive one when you buy handmade? Share your thoughts below!


Cassie Lee writes about running a creative business and being happy while you do it. You can read more of her posts here in her blog.  

She is also a mum of 2 young children and runs her little handmade shop called Rainbow Lollies where she sells cufflinks, tie clips and other accessories.  

Do connect with her on her Facebook page or over at Twitter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Survival Planning: Passwords and online security


Chances are, you regularly visit many places online where you need to use a password, from social sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to your online banking or weblog.  

If you have an online business, identity theft is probably the most catastrophic thing that could happen to you, even worse than simple fraud.  It can destroy the brand and online personality you've spent years building literally overnight.  A strong and secure password is the only thing standing between you and anyone who wants access to your Facebook or Twitter account.  You may think you don't have a high enough profile to be a hacking target, but there are a lot of bored teenagers in the world with computers, so it's better to be safe than sorry.




What makes a good password?

Firstly, there's a few things that a good password shouldn't include; anything that could be easily guessed, like your postcode, town of birth, or your pets name.  It also shouldn't be something obvious like 12345 or 'password' (don't laugh, 'password' is unfortunately an extremely popular password choice!)

A really strong password should include a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters such as & and %, and ideally it should be at least 20 characters long.  It shouldn't include any common English words, or obvious variations like replacing the letter 'e' with '3'.  An example of a good password would be something like '/,Q>A6KicZ3tWg7$f7EPWn'.  Unfortunately this sort of password is quite impossible to remember, so most people opt to either use a simpler password, or have a single strong password that they write down somewhere near their computer, and then use for everything. 

But a strong password is not enough


OK, so now you have an idea how to create a strong password, your online activites should be safe and secure, right?
Well, unfortunately it's not that simple.  Even if you use a hard-to-guess password, there's still a chance that a bad guy will get hold of it, most likely through no fault of yours.  Every few weeks, it seems, a different high-profile website gets hacked, and the stored passwords for the site are posted online.

Ideally this wouldn't be a serious problem on its own, as the passwords are kept in an encrypted form by the website's owner.  This means that you can't work out what the actual passwords are without knowing some additional secret information.  In practice though, many websites don't do as good a job with this encryption as they could, and the passwords end up in the open as a result.

Now usually the hacked site will notice what's happened fairly quickly, and notify its users to change their passwords.  This limits the amount of direct damage to the hacked site, but now your super-secret password is out in the open.  Even if you change your password for the hacked website, any other site where you've used the same password will be at risk. Even worse, since these other sites don't have to be hacked for the bad guys to get in because they already have your password, it's quite likely that no-one will even notice that anything is wrong at first.

So what's the solution?


So given that even a strong password alone may not be enough, what else can you do?  The best advice here is to create a separate, strong password for every site you use, so that even if one site is hacked, at least there's no way a black hat can get into any of your other accounts with the compromised password.  But if you do this, and follow the guidance above for good passwords, you're going to end up with dozens (or maybe hundreds) of unpronounceable passwords to try and keep track of.  Luckily there's an easier way than generating and tracking these manually, called a password locker

NB: A "black hat" hacker is a hacker who "violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain" (Moore, 2005). Source: Wikipedia 


Software Password Lockers


A software password locker mimics a common security practice used to keep track of physical keys, which is a lockable box, or key locker, that is used to store other keys.  Only a select few people have the master key to the key locker, and if one of the stored keys goes missing, only the locks for that key need to be changed.  So long as the master keys are kept safe, all is well.

I use a password locker called 1Password.  It's available for Windows, Apple Mac, iPhone/iPad and Android devices.  It also includes a handy web browser plugin which makes both generating and automatically entering website passwords extra-simple.

A single master password is used to control access to the program, and once it's unlocked you can quickly log into any site, or generate a new secure password with a few clicks.  It automatically associates each password with the website it was generated for, so it can enter your username and password for you next time you visit the site.

1Password has a number of other handy features, such as storage for credit card numbers, WiFi or modem logins, or any other general notes you need to keep secure.  It's also able to synchronise all of this information between devices, so you can have all of your password stored securely on your phone as well as your computer.


So there you have it.  There's really no excuse to be using weak or recycled passwords, so do yourself a favour and invest in a password locker application.  If you ever have a password compromised, you'll be very glad you did.


Further Reading:  



Brett, aka Mr {CHA}, is married to Christine (CHA's editor) and together they have 3 loud and energetic children.  Brett is an Electronic Engineer, who specialises in test and measurement systems.  He has a passion Macs and War Hammer.  He also suffers in silence with his wife's crafty adventures. 

You can follow Brett on twitter or follow his blog Lonely Ant.


The opinions expressed by the author and and those providing comments are theirs alone. The CHA is not an affiliate of 1Password. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Your business and Pinterest


Piinterest Frangipani designs
Source: frangipani designs
Lately I've been reading with interest Create and Thrive's series on how to Grow Your Business with Pinterest.  This series has been written by fellow ABC attendee Caylie Price, the founder of Better Business Better Life.  Its a wonder series which has reinforced my view that Pinterest is definitely a tool that handmade businesses should be using.

Last year the Jeanie from Inspired Wish and I  did a great introductory series on Pinterest

We also had Vicky from Dover and Madden drop by with a great tutorial on how to make your boards pretty - Guest Post: Make your Pinterest boards pretty

And in November 2012 we were very excited when Pinterest created Pinterest Business Accounts.  

This series by Caylie takes using Pinterest for your business to the next level and I strongly suggest that after you have the basics down you read this series.

Did you know that the CHA has its own group Pinterest Board? 

Last year we have create a group board called Australian Handmade where we encourage Australian handmade businesses to join the group and pin their products.  This board provides great exposure and it is a good way to get your products seen by a wider audience.  To join this board simply contact me at  contemporaryhandmadealliance@hotmail.com




About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or Like her on Facebook.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Survival Planning: Social Media Contingency Plan


Nobody likes to think something bad will happen to them. But sometimes they do. And what’s important is to know what to do in case of a disaster.

Disasters come in many forms, from personal injury or illness to natural disasters and man-made events.

Due to the unforeseen nature of emergencies it is a wise idea to have a plan in place in case something happens to you, or an outside force creates a situation where you can no longer be social online.

It’s a good idea to be realistic about the sort of disasters that could strike. I have split up some typical ones into two main categories. What are the disasters that could strike you and your business?

Natural Disasters

Flooding
Bush Fires
Earthquakes
Major Storms
Cyclones/Hurricanes
Disease Outbreak
Heatwaves

Other Disasters

Building evacuated
Sickness
Long-Term Illness
Being Hacked
Loss of Information
Accident
Loss of Power

Once you have assessed these for yourself and your business, you need to think about how to craft an overall plan to deal with them.

Backup Admin

Do you have a backup Admin for your social media networking accounts? If not, it might be time to add someone you trust with another admin account.

Choosing the right person can be difficult, but it is worth spending some time on. They should:
Be someone you trust
Have some knowledge of social media and how it works
Have the right personality – calm in a crisis, honest, and dependable are all good traits.

Train Them

It’s not good enough to just have someone else have access, you have to think about what they would do in case something happens to you.

Training your backup admin around what you do and how you post would be a great idea.
If you have multiple networks you post on, think about whether you want one person for all of them, or different people for each.

Tone & Style

How do you engage with your fans? If someone will be taking the reins in your absence, do they know what your style is? This is important if you need someone else to take over while you are out of action for a while.

Passwords

Passwords are something we have been trained to keep close to our heart and not share, but it is very important you have someone else who knows your passwords or at least know where they are written down.

Again, find someone you can trust and supply them with a copy or at least let them know where they can find the list.

Backup Information

There is nothing worse than realising all your hard work for the last couple of years is gone.
This is exactly what can happen to you if you rely on only one source to hold your files. Backing up is extremely important as it allows you to recover lost information due to hacking, corrupted files and natural disasters.

It is also a good idea to back up your files to an online source, like Amazon, Dropbox or similar place. This is important as it stores your files in a second location in case your first location is destroyed (by fire, flood or other disaster).

Time Out

Have you given thought to what you would do if you had limited or no access to your networks? This could be due to power outages, no internet connection, or being hacked.

Is there a way you can get someone else to post for you, or another way you can post. For example, most social networks and blogs have a way to post via email if all other options are closed to you.

Employees

If you have help from current employees, do you know what will happen if something happens to them or they leave?

Are they going to take your fans and followers with them? (See ownership below). Can you or someone else take over in case they leave suddenly? How long will it take to get a suitable replacement? What will you do in the meantime?

Ownership

Is it clear who owns the information you have on your networks? Make sure you have a clear written understanding of who owns what when you have other people posting for you.

Do they understand what they create and post belongs to you and your business? Is this clear to all involved?

Write this out and get your employees to read and sign it, saying they understand it.

Scheduled Posts

Make sure you have a quick way to cancel any scheduled posts. They can prove very dangerous to your brand in certain situations.

Imagine a situation where you have scheduled a week’s worth of posts all about your sales and then your store in forced to close due to a natural disaster or illness? This could look embarrassing at best and make people angry at worst.

Upcoming Promotions

Make sure you include a get out of jail free clause in your terms & conditions for any promotions. You do write terms & conditions for your promotions don’t you?

This can be as simple as the following:

If for any reason any aspect of this promotion is not capable of running as planned including by reason of infection by computer virus, tampering, bugs, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any cause beyond the control of the Promoter, the Promoter may elect to terminate, modify or suspend the Promotion at any time at their absolute discretion without liability to any entrant or other person.

Offline Message

If disaster does strike, have you created a standard “Offline” message you (or someone else) can quickly post to your social media sites?

The best idea is to keep it vague enough to cover most emergencies. Try this one:

Due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be posting anything for a short time. We will post more information soon. Thanks for your understanding.

Social Media Guidelines

Having a simple social media guidelines document is a great idea as it will let other know what your policy is when it comes to social media. And it is a great reminder for you as well.

Stuff to include:

  • What it covers, from social networking sites (Facebook) to company blogs (including comments) to forums and discussion boards (Yahoo! Groups) to online encyclopedias (Wikipedia)
  • Who someone needs approval from to post
  • Who they represent when posting and full disclosure of this
  • Types of subject matter they can post
  • Protecting copyrights and private information – yours as well as third parties
  • Privacy concerns and the protection of customers personal information
  • Responsibility of what is posted
  • What happens in case of bad press, or negative feedback

One of the best ways to mitigate and control (as much as possible) disasters is to prepare for and pre-empt them.

There are several ways you can do this, such as planning and creating contingency plans and documents. But you can also mitigate a lot of the fallout by building a strong and happy community in the first place.

If your social networking community believe in you and what your business is trying to achieve and have trust in you, they are more likely to have understanding (and even help out) when disaster strikes.

You cannot control disasters but you can plan for them and have a set of guidelines in place to help you deal with them.

Do you have a social media contingency plan in place? 


Further Reading:  


 passion is to help people achieve their dreams. Baked Social Media's main goal is to help small business owners grow their businesses online using social media.






The opinions expressed by the author and and those providing comments are theirs alone.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sponsor Spot: Billymac

http://www.billymac.com.au/ Billymac chalkies

Our sponsor this month is the {CHA}'s great friend Billymac.  

Last month they released their Wall Chalkies range.  Now you can have some chalkboard wall art for your home or office.  They are available in a range of sizes and shapes OR they can be custom cut to any size or shape you want - how cool is that!!

They are a matt black chalkboard wall art/decal for you or your kids to draw and write on.  They wipe clean with a damp cloth .  

The billy mac clothing Wall Chalkies art cut from professional grade Chalkboard Vinyl. Your Wall Art comes with detailed instructions and is ready to apply.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Product Photography Tips

I have been having a little look around some online storefronts - Wow!  There are some amazing items out there, but their photos don't do them a great injustice! 

Now I'm not saying my pics are truly great (far from it and I've got a long ways to go yet) but could I point out a few little things that may help if you are new.
Fashion bib necklace by Sesenarts

1. Make your item the focus of the picture. 

Make sure there are no distracting elements in the background. Eg if the item is taken indoors against a wall, make sure there are no door, window frames, tables, pics on walls etc in the background. Neutral backgrounds are best if possible and look more professional. 

2. Remember the 'rule of thirds'. 

Fill up the frame with your image, use cropping to get rid of unnecessary space around the image and try to keep the finish cropped pic square. You wont get cut off images then when you upload. 


Red Embroidered Hanging Heart by Sesenarts


3. Use natural lighting as much as possible. 

You can buy daylight bulbs from the hardware store to assist if light is lacking. Don't use a flash. I  find mid afternoon the best time to shoot


4. Use a light box.

To assist in getting a goodly amount of light, use a Light box. Or what I do is get a couple of medium sized sketch books, open them up to clean white pages and arrange them around the small object to be photographed.
Coral Felted Wearable Art Scarf by Sesenarts


5. Reflect Light. 

Use use alfoil taped to a cupboard to reflect light back onto my mannequins for the scarves.
Have a good day all. I've got some things to re-photograph!



My name is Julie Smith and I have been practising as a mixed media and textile artist for over 20 years. I have created both wearable art and wall art using wool and silk as my base then embellishing with beading and embroidery to enhance each piece. 

My work has been exhibited and sold numerous exhibitions and galleries, both here in Australia and internationally and I hope to have my my own gallery and teaching space in the near future. For now my wearable art can be found at Sesenarts.Etsy.com and Handmade Artists.com






Note:  The opinions expressed by the author and and those providing comments are theirs alone.