Shop Talk: All Fired Up!

So proving people wrong is probably not the right reason to be motivated but if implemented properly it can be like a rocket fuel in getting you out of a rut
Let me explain, I’ve been self employed for over a year now, I knew that setting up my own business from scratch would take time to build up a steady flow of customers and all that. Some people get that, you tell them you’ve just started out and they’re very supportive, offer words of encouragement, advice and basically to stick at it. On the other hand you get those who sometimes don’t even bother to ask how it’s going. When you were worked for someone else, they’d always ask how’s work but now they don’t even bother, like your job is a hobby or a phase, or because you do something you like or that it’s creative it’s not real work. I’m sorry, where do they think all their clothes, accessories, jewellery, wall art, home décor, books etc come from? Anyway at the beginning of last week I had one of these encounters and was mightily pissed that people close to me act like I or what I do is not worth anything but this was just the kick up the butt I needed.

The next day I got up and was in a no bullshit mood and started to draft an action plan for the next four months, basically covering October to January or the busiest retail months of the year. As my business is still young and I’m still finding my feet things haven’t exactly been crazy busy but I have made sales and therefore it’s reasonable to say I can make more sales. So it being just over a year since I started selling on line, I tallied up all the sales I made on line and at markets and resolved to double that score over the next four months. Now 40 sales may not sound like a massive amount of sales and for some it’s a drop in the ocean but when you’re starting out and no one knows who you are, it can be considered a challenge but also a doable challenge! So I wrote an action plan, I scoured through all the online shop/business guides I had subscribed to which to be honest they pretty much all say the same thing in one format or another, read some blogs of independent sellers on how they prepare for the busy season and wrote a 14 page action plan detailing everything I needed to take into consideration over the next four months. Now I know I should have done this already and I kind of did, in my head but when things are slow it’s easy to say I got it covered.
So last year I know I came late to the party, I was still recovering from exhaustion after quitting my job but it did give me a chance to observe and also test the waters a bit. This year I have no excuse not to be prepared other than laziness and that is not an option so here’s what I’ve done so far!
  • Started a stock take/inventory of all current stock
  • Started to photograph and rephotograph all Halloween Stock and list it
  • Research trends, look at shops that are doing well, catch up on reading my business subscriptions to get tips and hints for the holiday season.
  • stocked up on postage and envelopes
  • Decided on brand colour
  • Started to repackage all stock into less bulky and streamlined packaging. (I was bestowed a lot of jewellery boxes, which are great but increase the postal costs, so using up other supplies to make less bulky and streamlined packaging).
The major thing I’ve been concentrating on this week is photography, I received some feedback this week that told me a lot. It was good feed back, they liked their item and gave me five stars but they said ‘it looks so much prettier in the flesh’ and this made me think are the photos putting people off buying my stuff? The feedback I get from my items is always good so I know the product quality isn’t an issue, so it must be the way the product is presented. So out of my massive to do list I made, I prioritised reshooting all my stock.

So this is the old picture.

And this is the new picture. What do you think? I’d really appreciate feedback on this!

The other thing I’ve been working on is props and sets for my products, now I know the general rule is clean background, don’t distract from the product, white backgrounds are must etc but to be honest I’m not sure this always works, plus it’s a little sterile. Wearable products sell better when they’re on a model, I can’t model the earrings for hygiene purposes and they are one offs but I can put them in a seasonally appropriate setting. To be honest I’ve found this a bit more fun than I thought I would, mainly because shooting products can be a bit repetitive and boring, so changing props and finding new backgrounds means I get to use my creativity. Obviously the key is not to use too many props to distract from the products but I think creatin you’re own style can help you stand out a bit from the competition.
Anyway I think I’ve rambled enough but loved to hear what you think.