Category Archives: Business

Product Review: Mobile Laptop Desk from YesComUSA

YesComUSA granted me the privilege of receiving one of their mobile laptop desks in exchange for a blog review. I received my package on Thursday, and put together the desk Friday evening. You can bet I have been using the thing ALL weekend long, and will most likely continue to do so. This desk makes working form my living room couch soooo much more comfortable and efficient than when I try to balance my laptop on my lap or the kitchen table.

A space for my laptop AND my tea? Works for me!

A space for my laptop AND my tea? Works for me!

While there is some assembly required, the illustrated directions were easy to follow, even for me, a person generally guaranteed to screw stuff up in one way or another. Plus, the part came with the necessary tools, and some spare parts in case I were to inevitably lose a piece or two during the put-together process. (I didn’t but the security of knowing I could was nice.)

assemblyassemblyassemblyassembly

This desk is very versatile. Its wheels allow you to move it around smoothly to wherever, it’s super light (I was able to carry it up and down my stairs no problem), and the desk surface can easily be adjusted to tilt back and forth as desired.

laptop desk in black

The only issue I had with this desk’s features (and it could be partially my fault for how I put it together, though I can’t say for sure) was the desk’s ability to go up and down vertically. There is an adjustable knob at the base spine of the desk, which should allow the desk to be used for standing, or increased height (such as if I wanted to use it while sitting on one of my higher stools), but the knob doesn’t tighten enough to hold the desk in place. The moment I place any weight on the desk, it sinks back down to its couch-height.

DSC06914

Regardless of this minor flaw, I definitely plan on continued use of this desk. It’s perfect for getting some quick work done from my laptop before I head to work in the morning, and also works great for beading off of come evenings, especially if I want to bead along side my husband while were watching a movie in our downstairs area.

Interested in grabbing your own? Check out this mobile desk and more at YesComUSA now.

Earn Money by Sharing Megan’s Beaded Designs!

Love Megan’s Beaded Designs? Now you can earn extra money spreading that love!

Introducing the new and easy referral program. Now offering a generous 15% commission on referred sales at www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

How it works:

Apply to participate by submitting an application form. Once you are accepted, you will be sent a unique referral coupon code for 10% off to share with your friends and followers. Every time someone uses your unique code, you will earn 15% of the discounted sale.

For example:

If someone purchases the following necklace and earrings set (regularly totaling $76):

…and applies the unique referral code you’ve shared with them for 10% off, their before-shipping price will be $76 – 10%, or $68.40.

You will then earn a 15% commission on the sale price, or $10.26 for a sold amount of $68.40.

It really is just that easy.

Accepted applicants will be e-mailed custom graphics that feature their your referral code, so that you can share then on your social media sites, blogs, and so on.

Referral-Graphic-300x300Commissions earned totaling over $10 will be paid via PayPal the 15th of every month, for the amount earned the month before. (Further details included on the application form.)

So what are you waiting for? Submit an application and start earning today!

Meet Christi from HydraulicGraphix & Enter to Win a Free Custom Design

Can you sum yourself up in 3 sentences? Give it a go!
I am a sweet, southern girl from Mississippi with a little bit of rebel inside. I draw my graphic design inspiration from music, love, traveling, horror movies, and thrift store finds. I play drums for a band called Black Leather Jet.

Vintage Nautical inspired Cruise Ship Postcard Save the Date for wedding or birthday on a ship – $26.50

Tell us about what you sell:
Hydraulic Graphix specializes in designs for weddings, parties, showers and other events by using inspiration from early twentieth century advertising.

What is your favorite thing about creating?
My favorite thing about graphic design is how relaxing it is to me. When I am focused on a design, my head just gets quiet. Nothing is bothering me or stressing me out while I am designing.

50’s Tea Party Invitation for Bridal Shower, Birthday, Baby shower, Bachelorette Party with damask pattern – $26.50

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from music, love, traveling, horror movies, and thrift store finds. Sometimes even tv shows.

Do you have any advice for other sellers?
If you are just starting your shop, keep working on items until you have at least 50. The more items you have, the more likely it is for people to find you.

Zombie Costume Party Invitation for Halloween or Birthday Party 28 Days Later and the Walking Dead inspired – $26.50

Do you have a coupon code for us?
HYDRAULICOUPON for 10% off

Where else can we find you?
facebook.com/HydraulicGraphix
twitter.com/hydraulicgrafix
couchnews.tumblr.com/
pinterest.com/printcess/


Impressed with HydraulicGraphix? If so, don’t miss your chance to enter to win a FREE CUSTOM DESIGN from Christi!

Check out all of the easy ways you can enter below:

Enter to win a free custom design from HydraulicGraphix! (Shown here: Wedding Invitation and RSVP card for an organic, rustic, vintage, antique themed wedding – $26.50)

1st Entry:
Subscribe to the Megan’s Beaded Designs e-mail newsletter. (Or let me know if you are already a member.)

2nd Entry:
Favorite HydraulicGraphix on Etsy, and let us know you’ve done so in the comments below!

3rd Entry:
Like HydraulicGraphix on Facebook, and let us know you’re Facebook username in the comments below.

4rd Entry:
FollowHydraulicGraphix on twitter Let us know how you’re @username in the comment below.

5th Entry:
Follow Christi on Pinterest, and let us know your username there here afterwards.

6th Entry:
Tweet about this giveaway. Let us know your twitter ID afterwards.

7th Entry:
Share this giveaway on Facebook.

8th Entry:
Pin this giveaway on Pinterest. Share the link to your pin here afterwards.

Contest ends September 4th at midnight. The winner will be selected via Random.org and announced on Thursday, September 5th. Good luck everyone!

A New Destination for Marketing Articles

My fabulous fellow business owners,

I’m super-psyched that you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback you’ve given me, and touched by every word of thanks you’ve ushered my way. Each comment, message, and tweet gives me a glorious warm and fuzzy feeling I can’t get from anything else. Even sexy-time.

While I’ve decided to steer this particular blog into more of a customer-friendly direction, there was no way in heck I could leave you guise behind.

I considered it, but your messages and words of thanks changed my mind.

You needy mother-cluckers, you!

beading for Business Blog

So I’ve created a new web space for all of those business-oriented blog posts that you’ve come to love. While it’s directed towards beaders in business, most of the articles will apply to any handmade business owner and aspiring entrepreneur. I hope you’ll join me over at BeadingForBusiness.com. I’ve got some big plans for the new space; you can expect a good time.

I’ll Take Your Questions Now

Hello there dear readers,

500 of you are official followers now (the coolest among you), and this silly blog is coincidentally reaching 500 published posts.

Woah. 500 is, like, half of a thousand, and THAT is a really, really big number.

Speaking of big numbers, I’ve also reached well over 1,000 Facebook Likes and Twitter followers. All brag-worthy milestones I’d like to celebrate now.

Megan Petersen

I want to give you all a chance to get your questions out there, and have an “ask me anything” session.

Want to know how I come up with jewelry design ideas? Interested in a specific marketing strategy? Want to know who I had a crush on in the 7th grade? Ask away.

Go ahead and place your questions in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to respond to each one. No question is too ridiculous, trifle, or personal.

I’ll take your questions now.

Saying Goodbye to the Bargain Hunters

I have a confession to make. It’s a pretty major business decision that I made early on, and I am embarrassed of it now. I read plenty of good advice and chose to do the exact opposite of its instructions. I was stubborn and too sure of myself when I shouldn’t have been, and even a little offended by the advice. I purposefully ignored what all of the handmade business experts were recommending me, and strut off in the other direction.

The good advice I shunned so fiercely: Don’t use price to attract the bargain hunters. You don’t want these people to be your customers.

My initial reaction to this advice was, of course, what’s wrong with bargain hunters?! Everybody loves a good deal, and most of us don’t have money growing on trees in our back yards. Of course we want a good price! I wanted my stuff to sell, so I went low. And by low, I mean, LOW.

beaded bracelet

Here’s where my logic was flawed: a good deal is not the same as a cheap deal.

I was offended by the notion that bargain hunters are lousy customers. This was because I thought of myself as one, being the thrift-store-shopper and coupon-code-googler that I am.

When I first started selling my beaded goodies, I stubbornly set my prices as low as they could go, and in some cases, even lower than that. I was able to get some sales, but wasn’t really making money after supply costs and payment fees were taken into consideration. So, after a few months, I raised my prices a little bit (just a little) so I wouldn’t be recording yet another loss come tax time.

It was after I raised my prices (again, this was only marginally) that I realized I had been attracting some of the wrong customers in the beginning. One particular customer, for example, had me create a gigantic custom order for her. As with all of my custom orders, I only ask for payment upon completion if the customer is satisfied with how the product turns out. This particular customer ended up having me remake several pieces before she purchased. This part was fine with me, I pride myself in the costumer service I offer for my custom items along with everything else I create.

blue necklace

Here’s the thing though: I thought, that after all of that work and the raving feedback this customer had left for her finished pieces, she would be more than happy to purchase from me again–even after my prices had been (only slightly) raised. BUT, a few months down the road, she contacted me regarding yet another custom order, and asked for a price quote. I sent her a quick response, letting her know how much the price would be and that I would love to be able to work with her again. I never heard back.

A few weeks after that, I was casually browsing through Etsy (Christmas shopping, actually, you guise all know how much I adore getting handmade gifts for my peeps), and I spotted a reserved listing, and my previous customer’s name was in the title. I am a guilty snoop: I had to check it out. The listing was for the exact custom order she had asked me to do for her, but from another seller who was willing to go cheaper.

Even though I had worked so hard and gone above and beyond for this customer, a minor increase in price was enough to make her go somewhere else. That is the real crux of the bargain hunters: they are not loyal. Bargain hunters will look for the lowest possible price. You can do the best job in the world for them, but if they can find it lower somewhere else, off they go.

Being thrifty on how much you will pay for a factory-manufactured blouse is not bargain hunting. Bargain hunting is trying to convince an artist to lose money on something they hand craft especially for you. Bargain hunters hurt the handmade community as a whole, and from now on, they can find their cheap deals somewhere else.

If you are a handmade seller, I hope you can learn from my mistake. We all put too much love and work into the creation and design of our pieces to have anyone scoff at the value we’ve placed on them. You are worth so much more than what the bargain hunters will give you, and so am I.

How to run a successful handmade business and keep your day job

Confidence is Sexy, Being a Douche is Not

I’ve written here before about what a difference being confident about our own work can make for our business and our bottom line. Confidence is sexy after all, and it attracts followers, fans, and buyers.

As artists, our natural instinct is to feel insecure about our work, at least until we feel it’s been validated. And by validated, we mean ordained by someone super-important, published somewhere super-recognized, or making us so much money we can afford a dozen mansions and a yacht to boot. The oxymoron of this kind of thinking is, of course, many of us won’t get that kind of validation until after we start to exhibit confidence in our own work.

A lack of confidence from the maker instills a lack of confidence from potential buyers. We can’t expect our customers to think our stuff is awesome unless we do. While this makes sense, it’s still hard to actually practice in real life. So we fake it ’til we make it. (As you should.)

post earrings

However, I feel like I need to warn everyone here that there is a vast difference between being confident in our own work, and criticizing the work of others. Sometimes handmade creators do this to try to make their work look good by comparison. It doesn’t make your work look any better, it just makes you look like a douche.

Negatively criticizing other artists, especially newbies who are just starting out and trying their best to learn their way, reflects poorly on you.

turtle earrings

One of the many jobs I’ve had was working in a big-box department store. When it came to new employees, my co-workers often treated them in one of two ways. The first group would complain about having to work with them, as it meant more work for them and having to train someone who didn’t know the ropes yet. The second group gladly took up the challenge, and was happy to show the new face the how-tos, knowing very well that proper training in the beginning prevents bigger mistakes from occurring later on. Plus, this second group knew that positive relationships all around make for a better work and business environment.

So if you want a boost of confidence in regards to your own work, create better, higher-quality products that you can feel proud of and confident enough to brag about. Using your social networking platform to put other artists down, no matter how much “better” your work actually is, makes you look low and sleazy. Don’t do it.

Enjoying the Here and Now

Setting goals is awesome. Setting goals with specific dates of fulfillment is even more awesome. It’s awesome-er.

Planning for the future motivates us and fills us with hope. It gives us the push we need to get to work and get shyte done.

Reflecting on the past helps us to consider what mistakes to avoid, and what good choices to repeat while we work on those future-goals.

pie earrings

But what about the here and now? The part we are currently living, but don’t often think very much about?

It’s great that you are working on your goals, but don’t forget about right now. By this, I don’t mean that you should stop working on those goals, but I do mean that you should enjoy your journey as you head in that direction. Too many of us hold off on happiness, on congratulating ourselves, until the work is finished and the goal is complete.

You have plenty of reasons to be happy right now. You may not be at the level of success you are aiming to be at by next year, but you are getting there, and that is most certainly something to be proud of and to celebrate.

You’re on a journey. Enjoy every step. Reward yourself for the progress so far, and give yourself permission to be happy now.

I didn’t know I needed THAT

I make and sell handmade jewelry. The thing about selling a non-necessity like jewelery is, well… it’s a non-necessity. No one ever really NEEDS a new necklace or pair of earrings. Come to think of it, most people don’t really NEED a new smart phone, pair of dress shoes, or package of cookies either. Turns out, people buy a lot of things they don’t really need.

When people want something badly enough, they will convince themselves they do in fact NEED said thing. It’s up to the sellers to convince their potential customers that they want what they have to offer.

For example:
Susan Smith WANTS to go on a vacation. She sees some brochures and advertisements for a cruise line deal and these images and messages further deepen her want for the vacation. Eventually, the presence of these advertisements make it more and more likely that Susan will convince herself that she not only WANTS this vacation, but NEEDS it. She will tell herself that she has been working way too hard lately, and could use a break. She will convince herself that a vacation would be just the thing to reboot herself, and she would return feeling more productive and ready than ever.

In the above example, the cruise line company increased Susan’s desire for a vacation by placing their ads in front of her often enough for their message to sink in.

Relax. Enjoy. Take a break. You need this.

Susan is the company’s target audience (working, upper-middle class income, with vacation time to utilize.) The marketing campaign of the cruise line turned Susan’s original want into a specific NEED for their product. Susan no longer just wanted a break from work, but to go on a cruise during her time off.

Consider the above example when promoting your own products.

When marketing your products, be they jewelry, bath and body, or baked goods, market your items in such a way that places the emphasis on WHY someone would want them. Discern what your target audience’s desire is, and explain to them how your product fulfills that desire. Turn your non-necessary items into the solution to a problem.

How to Identify Your Opportunity Costs

Let’s take a moment to discuss a really dry term. I probably first heard it in Economics 101, and you’ve probably been tested on what it means in a similar classroom setting: opportunity costs.

*yawn*

Starting to get as bored as you were when you had to listen to a professor lecture on micro economic theory? Hang with me for a second, because I do feel like this is something important that we should brief on, particularly if you are trying to run a business with a limited amount of time at your disposal. (Hint: time is limited for all of us. Nobody gets more than 24 hours per day.)

An opportunity cost is essentially what is lost because you were too busy doing something else.

If we break it down into a simple example, it looks like this:

Jack and Susan are both good at peeling potatoes.

Jack can peel 2 potatoes per minute and Susan can peel 5 potatoes per minute.

Susan can peel potatoes more than twice as fast as Jack.

HOWEVER: Susan can season and cook the potatoes so that they are so mouth-wateringly delicious that the customers at their restaurant can’t wait until their next meal so they can come back and order more potatoes. Jack can cook the potatoes too, but they usually end up burnt or just not as good. It’s a process that takes time and skill that only Susan possesses.

Susan needs time to cook and season the potatoes, so even though she is better at peeling the potatoes than Jack, it makes more sense to have Jack do the peeling. The opportunity cost is what is lost if Susan were to waste her time on something less suitable for her talents.

Now let’s take this example and apply it to your life and your business:

What are the things that only YOU can do, or would really suffer if you didn’t do them? If you are running a handmade business, this could probably be answered with the design and much of the creation of your items, perhaps your blogging talents, or your personalized responses to customer questions. In your life, some of these things could be playing with your kids, taking your spouse out on a date, and consoling a friend with a problem.

What are the things you are currently doing, that someone else could be? This list will generally consist of things you may be good at, but would not suffer if someone else did them for you, like house-cleaning, product photography, sorting e-mail, writing ad copy, packaging, etc.

Now I want you to take your list of all the things YOU don’t have to be personally doing, and identify which of those things are taking up the majority of your time. Which of these things, to put it another way, are causing the greatest opportunity costs? What would you spend your time doing if you didn’t have to do those things?

You may be costing your business (and your life) some serious growth potential if you are spending too much time doing menial tasks that could easily be outsourced to someone else. Crunch your numbers, and if you can determine some real increase in business if you have more of your time freed up, budget to do just that.