Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: The Taffy Box

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

The THREE PART SERIES is brought to you by Koryn of The Taffy Box
Applications - Use them to your advantage!
Hello Fellow Homefronters! The New Year has begun and with Christmas season just behind us, Valentines Day  isn't far off!  I hope your shops are all seeing new business and steady growth in 2011 so far!

Starting this new year I am keeping very close and tight records of my business expenses and write offs. Why now? Well, if you hadn't heard,starting with 2011, Paypal will begin requiring anyone with an account that accepts 200 incoming funds transactions or $20,000 in sales in a calendar year (which ever comes first) to report their SSN# to them for IRS tracking. I kept pretty good records before, but now more than ever I am looking for tax shelters for my business. Never did I think my Etsy shop would bring in enough income that this would even matter to a person like me!  I use Outright.com to track my income and expenses on a daily basis...it is free to use and very basic. It graphs reports so you know just how much you are spending on various categories such as supplies, postage, payroll, office supplies, etc.  You can also import CSV files from Paypal or Etsy (if you know how to do that sort of thing). I do it manually and you can to if, like me, you are technology impaired!

I started on Etsy about 3 -4 years ago.  I was just dabbling at the time, having fun making things and earning a little fun money as a part time pre school teacher and mom of 4.  I discovered hand stamped jewelry and the rest is history! I was hooked from the first blow of the hammer!  Then, in 2008 breast cancer struck, and I was thrown into a full year of surgeries and chemo therapy treatments that forced me to quit working and stay home and fight. I used that time to pour myself into the business and to keep distracted doing something that made me happy. I gradually grew my business to where I am able to work full time from my basement studio now, have several part time employees, and don't have to trudge off to a job anymore. I work in my PJs most days, and throw a little bit of housework in there now and then! Oh yes, and I am thankfully showing no evidence of cancer!

I was asked to share with you a couple of things that have helped my business become successful and hopefully you can incorporate some of them so that you can be a success as well. I am by no means an expert, and I find myself learning new ideas from fellow Etsians all the time, so this list is certainly not exhaustive or complete. I'd like to share some of my marketing strategies and shop ideas with you here. Etsy has already done some of the homework for you with some of their new features so first things first - take advantage of what Etsy already provides! 


 Etsy has a whole apps menu under Your Etsy so go browse and see what might work for you and your business. Facebook ALSO has an Etsy app so the first thing I recommend is that if you have a Facebook account, create a Facebook PAGE for your business, then go to the app feature at Facebook to add that Etsy tab to your page so people can browse and shop right at your Facebook page! Here is mine so you can see what I mean:
http://www.facebook.com/TheTaffyBox?v=app_169505045786 I do not personally recommend Faceboook ads. They are very expensive and there are better ways to put yourself out there. You can start with your own network of friends and their friends and their friend's friends!

Etsy also offers coupon codes now (see Your Etsy page under "promote") so you can use these to your advantage to share with your Facebook friends who "like" your page! Tell them that Facebook fans receive discount coupon codes and they will be sure to "like" your page and be privy to new listings and specials that you post there as well as the coupons!  Guess what happens next? Your page shows up on their profile page and their friends see it! It is like wildfire! It will spread! Who doesn't love a coupon! I offer coupon codes specifically to team members as well.

EtsyOnSale is a new app that allows you to put all or part of your Etsy shop on sale. You decide the discount %, the section or sections, and the start and end date of your sale. A Gmail account is required - but it's free! Great idea for Fathers or Mothers Day, for instance.

Join Etsy teams that apply to you, as you have already done here with Homefront. So what's the Homefront code for my shop, you ask? It is SAVE10 . You enter SAVE10 at check out and save 10% off every purchase just for being an Homefront team member! Return customers get a different code for even better deals! And so on...you can make them for any amount- whatever you can afford to offer - anything to get them looking and shopping!

You can also create a Facebook page link such as mine http://facebook.com/TheTaffyBox

Etsy also now offers shop stats so you can track your sales and income. You'll find that under Your Etsy on left side of page as well.  Etsy also now offers "Circles". (This is new! Check it out!) Add people to your circle with whom you share a commonality. Maybe you love photography but you create hand knit items. Doesn't matter. By adding to your circle, more shoppers will view your page and photos of things you create and possibly come browsing in your shop.

Build a free web site! I use Webs.com . They offer unlimited pages and a cool Etsy App! Yeah! You can shop right from the web page and it looks like you are at the on line shop! Take a peek! http://thetaffybox.webs.com/apps/etsystore/ I have a domain name managed elsewhere but webs offers one as well. You can purchase the domain name and eliminate the "webs" part of your shop name so that it looks like this http://TheTaffyBox.com but for free you can have your domain be http://theTaffyBox.webs.com . Private domain names are as low as $17 a year with Godaddy.com

Thank you Koryn! If you have some tips to share, contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

5 comments:

Sally said...

Thanks for sharing! great insights! Glad youre cancer free =)

Heartmade Creations said...

The website information was very helpful thank you :0)

Glitterbird Glamour said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain all this. Very helpful!

Cinna Sue said...

Thanks! This was great info and am happy to say I'm following through on your suggestions.

ssaaty said...

Thanks sister-friend. Very helpful when my hands aren't full!