Running a business? I am very excited about Modish’s new Biz Tips blog! It’s all about running a business for crafty and artsy types. Check it out! I am just now getting caught up with my blogs, and discovered this. Had to share!Comment
This weekend was the second annual Lovely Details show, and also my second (apparently annual) bridal show appearance. I’m trying to figure out if doing bridal shows–like, really doing them–is worth my time and money. A lot of the bigger shows can run vendors $1500+ per booth. Needless to say, I’d have to get a lot of business to justify that price tag.Thinking about the bridal shows has got me thinking about my marketing strategy in general. What is my marketing strategy, you might ask? Well, up until this point, it’s consisted of ideas floating around in my head and no action. Marketing makes me feel a little lost.
Figuring out how to market oneself can be a little bit difficult. I’m totally not skilled in this area, and I’m finding that there’s a pretty steep learning curve (at least for me).
My plans for now include mostly free advertising–that is, marketing without advertising. I’ve been contacted by Yelp and a few other advertising companies, and I’m just not interested in forking over that kind of dough yet (Yelp asked me for $300+ per month–no thanks). If you’re planning to advertise, you definitely have to do your research before you decide where to advertise, too–for example, I’ll never advertise with Yelp. It’s too much money for only a small area of people, when my business can be nation- and even world-wide.
So on to the marketing. Most types of businesses can find blogs that might be willing to do a feature. There are also magazines–both specific to your industry and a little more general. Although you can put out an ad in a magazine, I don’t think it’s as effective as actually being featured in said magazine (this is me speaking as a consumer). I’m much more likely to pay attention the stationery Martha Stewart is recommending than the advertisement next to it. The key is having a marketable product.
I have a list of magazines I’d like to send materials to, but I’m a little lost on how to begin. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to send samples, informational postcards, press releases, or something I haven’t thought of yet.
I have been contacted by a couple of blogs who wanted to feature me (which was awesome) and a local news channel which will be doing a feature on me next week (super cool). Not everything is going to come to me, though, so I have to figure out how to get my name out there.
There will be more in the future on my marketing adventures. In the meantime, I’m looking to you guys for help. Do any of you have experience with press releases, sending info to magazines and blogs, etc? Any tips for us newbies?Comment
Hey everybody! I had to completely reformat my hard drive yesterday. My computer has been on the fritz, but I think it’s fixed now (knock on wood!).
Anyway, I still haven’t exactly restored my photos, so I’m going to go with a text post today and share some business books I’ve found helpful. Reading a bunch of inspirational business books has convinced me of one thing: the entrepreneur has a very specific way of thinking. They think big. They see business opportunities everywhere they turn, and in every thing they do, they think of ways to make it bigger. Successful entrepreneurs are also down-to-earth. They can figure out what’s realistic and what’s not, and they take calculated risks. I have changed my thinking in the past few years, and now when I am frustrated by something, I think of ways to make it better. I try to think outside the box and come up with ways of doing things that might not be totally straightforward.
I like to buy books for business stuff. For the most part, I even read them all! Admittedly, sometimes the boring textbooks are put by the wayside…but the inspirational books? I’m all over that!
My favorite business books are:
Bags to Riches: 7 Success Secrets for Women in Business
This one is filled with all sorts of great tips for people just starting out. My book is marked up and highlighted in places (I tend to do this).
The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart
This book is fun to read–it’s written by the woman who started Build-A-Bear. Y and I were originally planning to start a business making a special kind of stuffed animal but didn’t have the capital to do so (think $75k minimum!). I think this book is good for anyone who wonders how someone starts a big business.
Starting From Scratch: Secrets from 21 Ordinary People Who Made the Entrepreneurial Leap
This book was totally inspiring to me. You need a good idea to be successful, but entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. It takes the kind of person who thinks big, not small.
Testosterone-Free Marketing: The Yin and Yang of Marketing for Women
I am totally shy. I don’t like approaching people and asking them to buy my products. What’s funny is that I’m not actually afraid that they’ll say my drawings suck. I don’t really care if anyone thinks they suck, or if they’re trite. I was on Weddingbee and got a lot of nasty comments from people. I can take it. For some reason it’s the act of asking someone for something. I’m in the middle of this book right now, and despite the cheesy title, it actually has some great tips.
Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
Thinking outside the box is an absolute necessity when you don’t have very much money. This book is recommended all over the place.
These two are great if you’re an artist or graphic designer. From reading these, I learned that I don’t want to submit illustrations to magazines or books. It looks awesome on the resumé and would be pretty exciting, but it pays diddly.
- 2009 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market
- Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guideline
Anybody else got some great book recommendations? Something I’m missing?Comment
Because I live in America, land of ridiculous lawsuits, it’s probably best to start off this entry by saying that I’m not a lawyer and you shouldn’t go around making wild decisions based on my advice and then try to sue me if it doesn’t work out. That’s just rude. Now, moving on.
When I decided to start my business, I was totally clueless about what I had to do. After I finally figured it out, I decided to review all the different government agencies and create a list on Yelp. This was less about actually reviewing the agencies and more about helping people figure out what the heck to do!
Unfortunately the process varies by what city and state you’re in, so this likely will not be exceedingly helpful to the majority of you (unless you happen to live in an unincorporated area of Alameda County, California!). The point, though, is to start you on the right track. There’s a certain order to these things.
First, you have to decide what kind of business you want to own. I decided to go with a Sole Proprietorship for now. This makes things very simple. A sole proprietorship means you and your business are one and the same, tax-wise. Your business’ income = your income. To start a sole proprietorship, here’s what I had to do:
- Register my business name with the county by filing my fictitious business name (also known as “doing business as” or “DBA”). I did this at the County Recorder’s Office, and it cost me $29.
- In order to have a valid fictitious business name, you have to run your business name in a newspaper for four weeks. Obviously, this is a pretty common practice, so your newspaper people should be familiar with it and probably have a special rate for running the announcement. The people at the Oakland Tribune charge $60 to do this and they try to convince people that they are the only valid newspaper to run such an announcement. LIARS. Ask the people at the Recorder’s office for a local, inexpensive paper to run your announcement. For me, it was the Inter-City Express. No one’s ever heard of it, but who cares? It’s legal, and it only cost me $35 compared to the $60 the Tribune charges.
- Next, you can get your business license. I had to visit the Tax Collector’s Office for this. It was really easy and kind of boring. You have to wait six weeks to get a copy of the license, and when you get it, double-check it for typos. When I first got mine, my business name was “Stinker Pants Desgigns” and my emergency contact was someone named Yorken. Seriously. How hard is it to type in some information? Apparently pretty difficult.
- If you need one, you can get a Seller’s Permit. I needed one in order to open wholesale accounts with envelope distributors and get my printing done without paying tax to the printer. I went to the State Board of Equalization for this. And it was free.
- Once you get your business license in the mail, you can set up your business checking account. If you want to cash checks addressed to your business name, you will need to do this. Plus, you just should. You’re supposed to keep your personal accounts and your business accounts separate.
If you’re looking to start your own business, I highly recommend buying (or checking out from your library) books by Nolo. I bought the Small Business Start-Up Kit for California and highly recommend it. Obviously you might want to look into a different title if you’re not in California. :)
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