small business answers

This might sound strange to mention, but I’m not quite sure how much to talk at the beginning of posts about my day to day life. Some bloggers share quite a bit and readers love it, others bloggers keep pretty private and share only topical information. I’m not quite sure where I (should) land on that continuum. Any thoughts on this topic?

Small Business Questions: Answered!

smallbusinessadvice

On Monday, I asked for any business questions that I could answer for my Small Business series. Today I’d like to answer Maggie, Diana, and Eva’s questions. So here it goes.

Maggie – Trademarking

Oh, I love this series. You may know about this or not… trademarking. The process seems complicated. Have you done this? Is it necessary? Is there a simple guide to it (NOT the gov site? LOL)

Maggie

Dear Maggie,

Unfortunately, I have never personally dealt with trademarking. I have thought about doing it several times but always abandoned the project. However, I am a huge fan of Design Sponge’s Biz Ladies series. Other than Modish BizTips, it is the most practical resource for this kind of general information. In one post, Design Sponge takes on copyrights, this might be helpful. I’d also take a trip to your nearest Score Counselor and get some free advice.

Diana – Growing a Jewelry Business

hey jess,

love the blog! It’s been a great tool as a fellow entrepreneur!
Ok, so today I have a bit of a specific question to ask. I am a jewelry designer and my company has just ‘completed’ the following steps:

1. selling to friends, friends-of-friends, and other ‘fans’ online (Etsy.com)
2. selling to local stores (5 and counting…)
3. created a website (under construction)
4. just became an LLC
5. beginning to make contacts within the “fashion/design” world for runway, photography and collaboration opportunities

What do you suggest as the “next step” in order to continue company growth? (All listed below are goals/ideas, but I was curious to know if you had suggestions of how to prioritize, since you’ve “been there done that” :) )

– expand/develop an online store/website (outside of Etsy.com)
– continue getting into more stores (contact larger stores, “chain” stores, dept stores, stores in other states, etc)
– invest in advertising
– hire a sales rep
– ???

thanks so much and keep up the great work,
diana

Dear Diana,

First of all, congratulations on your success thus far! You definitely have all of your initial bases covered. That is important. As you consider the future steps you mentioned, I recommend making a vision for the business you’d ideally like to have. Do you want this to be a full-time career or hobby/passion? Selling directly to customers is easier to do part-time. Wholesale generally has a higher time investment during the workday.

Do you dream of selling to stores across the country and doing wholesale mostly? If so, this would lean you towards an emphasis on getting yourself into more stores, talking to sales reps, and eventually doing trade shows. I’d prioritize more stores accounts, and making sure those stores do well with your pieces. Try to get your reorder rate as high as possible. Once you have a strong relationship with the buyer of your most profitable store, ask her who would be the best sale rep for you. Chances are, the buyer knows jewelry reps that can get you started (or at least give you advice).

On the other hand if you are focusing on retail, I’d think about advertising (blogs are a great place to start) and committing to either your Etsy site or a new separate site. Holiday shows are another great way to make retail dollar with your pieces. At any event you do, be sure to get the word out about your site with business cards and collect emails for an email newsletter. And finally, blogging can always help.

Eva – Blogging Consistently

Hi Jess, This is a blogging question, how did you become so diligent in your blogging, do you have a set schedule you follow?

Eva

Dear Eva,

Hah, it’s funny you mention that I’m so diligent when lately I’ve been feeling a bit off in my writing rhythm. The motivation behind the regularity is because I genuinely believe that sharing my experiences with making under and helping others do the same is part of my personal vocation. It’s simply what I’m meant to do. And at this point in my life, blogging is the best way to fulfill that mission.

As for my schedule, it varies day to day. Ideally, I like to write posts the day before. I also try to post by 7am CST in order to catch the early readers. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, my intention is to have five posts a week about a variety of topics including my personal makeunder, exfoliating, helpful articles I’ve read, and of course the DESIGN YOUR LIFE series.

Thank you so much for sharing your questions, Maggie, Diana, and Eva. If anyone else has a question, please leave a comment.

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Elissa

    Yes! Talk about your everyday life and how it relates back to your blog topic. PS I have been following you on Google reader for a few months.

  2. Michelle

    I definitely have a hard time deciding between personal life vs. keep things somewhat anonymous…the internet is the internet. It’s vast and open to all, so privacy should be weighed in. I think some people have a great balance, keeping some things to themselves, and revealing others that aren’t TOO personal. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic more! I’m sure there are a lot of people who struggle with it.

  3. pve

    There is a fine line. I think the answer is that each and every blog is like a “thumb-print” – no two alike. There are something like 80 million blogs – but the ones I like are the ones that I feel are genuine, authentic and not trying too hard. I think the answer is so personal. Having been part of a blog Q & A- I found myself walking away always feeling like we are each on our own journey.
    I grapple with putting more out, to help me readers and my fans to create, and live a more artful life. I think we all are looking for a balance.
    For me, when I have gone through rough spots, for instance my sons health scare, the blog world was that constant source of a stream of silence yet strength.
    I think for NieNie, her personal issues make her what she is. You must know her story.
    pve

  4. Re: personal sharing on a blog. I think it’s a hard line and I’m always trying to balance it. I’m turned off by blogs that are consistently overly personal (constant day to day information that would be more appropriate if we were real life best friends) but I do appreciate it when a blogger shares occasional personal posts or tidbits of personal information. I think that sharing personal information has more of an impact if you don’t do it everyday and it can make your readers feel connected to you when you share about big life events.
    Personally, I’m pretty private, even in real life, and I do struggle with how much I want to reveal to other people. It’s tough.

  5. Magchunk

    Thanks for those links, I’ll definitely check them out!

    There is typically an anecdote or real-life reason behind my posts, so I often share that. If the post is strictly personal life or personal projects, etc, I just launch right in! A picture usually helps.

    RE: Michelle and Rachel, I am right there with you: How much info is too much info? There are definitely things in my life that I don’t talk about on the blog. And since it’s design-focused I don’t feel too weird about that – but if it ties into my day-to-day life and is design related, I think it makes it more personal and less “buy this cause it’s pretty” (for instance, my upcoming and overdue search for the perfect commuting bag). It’s a fine line for sure.

  6. julie

    dear jess,

    I am a fellow jeweler who is having a bit of trouble with pricing my pieces. When I started out, my prices were very low. After realizing they were a bit underpriced (as well as costumers telling me that as well!) I decided to raise the prices, but still I remain unsure if I am pricing correctly.

    What is the correct balance of valuing your pieces? What plays into pricing? (design, overhead, skill, materials, time, etc)?

    thanks so much!

  7. Jess

    @ Elissa, Michelle, PVE, Rachel, and Maggie: Great comments, this definitely calls for another post. I’m going to try to get to it this week or next week.

    @ Julie: This is a great question! And one that depends on your cost of materials, marketing, and labor/time. If you are selling to stores, the wholesale price needs to include the things I just mentioned. Then keep in mind that stores tend to mark jewelry up 2.2-2.8. Meaning if you sell them a necklace wholesale for $1, they might sell it somewhere between $2.2 and $2.8 to their customers. It’s best to keep your own retail price somewhere in this range as well so that stores don’t think you are going to compete with their pricing. I’d also recommend going to a Score Counselor to talk in more detail about your particular pieces and prices.

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