Well, if you've been following me you know that I'm a small business owner, writer, designer, blogger, dreamer, & much more, but did you know I LOVE to travel?
Now you do. I'm a gypsy soul. It's in my blood. Feel free to follow all of my travel endeavors by clicking TRAVEL under my blog categories.
Today I share with you my Alaskan adventure. About a year ago our dear friends were re-located to Alaska ....... FROM THE MIDWEST! Perfect place & people to go visit! So, for my daughters 10th Birthday present we decided to have an adventure, just us girls, involving some of our greatest friends, whales, the open sea, & The Last Frontier, otherwise known as Alaska. I hope you enjoy my magnificent photographs.
Disclaimer: Do not steal our photographs. Re-posting & sharing is great, but make sure you include links to where they came from. Thank you.
Birds, waves, & Sea Lions, oh my!
Don't go chasing waterfalls! Haha (get it?).... Because they are EVERYWHERE!
A random resort... on an Island... somewhere out in the ocean. Next bucket list check when I go back will be to stay here!
Just me, the open sea, & tranquility. (See what I did there ;) ?)
Have you ever heard of a Dall's Porpoise? We hadn't either! Until now! They are referred to as the cousin of the Orca whale. They enjoy bow riding with fast-moving vessels. There were SO many. I couldn't even count how many we saw!
The adorable town of Seward, Alaska will forever hold a place in my heart. This is where we took our whale watching tour at Kenai Fjords.
We went at a warmer time of year (May). It was in the 40's & 50's, but to show you how cold it is for a larger part of the year- the school is equipped with an ice skating rink! Not to mention- that view of the mountains is breathtaking!
There are hiking trails GALORE! I went from Eagle River to Seward & back. I cannot tell you how many places there were to hike.
Side note: There aren't all these crazy restrictions that there are in the lower 48. One minute you'd see a house like a mansion, the next you'd see a crazy shack thrown up somewhere (looking like a gypsy resided there... my kind of shack!)
The mountains. They are no secret, right? You think of Alaska, I'm sure you think mountains. I had no idea how amazing they were going to be. EVERYWHERE you look, EVERYWHERE you go, you will see mountains. Absolutely gorgeous.
All kinds of UN- touched nature.
The Marina in Seward, AK ... and of course, the mountains.
The Historic Iditarod Trail.
I may be the only one that was amused by this, but I found a few things on the plane quite interesting. #1: I had T.V.! Direct T.V.! I don't have television at home so I found this luxury quite AWESOME! The remote was built into the armrest! #2: The gentleman I was sitting next to showed me where to find the flight channel. I never knew such a thing existed, but this channel showed a map of where we were, speed we were going, & altitude (see pic). How neat! #3: The flight map sure made me realize how close I was to Russia (in comparison with the Midwest y'all!). Crazy.
Well, that concludes my Alaskan adventure. Tears were shed when we left, for sure. I'll definitely be back. I've been all over the United States & I haven't see anything else quite like it. If you ever start to doubt that the world is still a beautiful place- travel. Until next time, AK!
What's on your bucket list? Where have you been or do you want to go that really stands out? Tell me in the comments below! If I've been there, I'll blog about it for ya!
Defining your target audience can be one of the most difficult things to do when you're building your business, but it can also be the most detrimental thing to your business if you don't. One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is not knowing who their target audience is or the fear of excluding people. I promise you, you will work twice as hard at what you do & come up with lesser results if you do not narrow down your target audience & gear your marketing & advertising strategies towards them. I am going to outline some pointers you will need to know on how to define whom your target audience is.
WHO? Ask yourself, "Who is my ideal customer?" Put yourself inside their head. If you were searching for your product, what would you be looking for? What words would you use to search for what you make/provide (this is also a good rule of thumb for SEO)? What would your interests be? What would make you buy your product? What is your ideal customers average income? Do they shop high end? Retail? Department store?
WHERE? Where does your ideal customer live? Are they in a particular city, state, country, countries, or can you cater to them worldwide? Do they live in upscale areas or is your item/ service something more for money saving middle classer's on a budget? Do you offer extremely discounted items that would help with the lesser fortunate? If so, where are they located geographically? Define your WHERE.
AGE? How old is your target audience? This one is probably the trickiest one. I'm guilty of this when I first started out. I wanted to appeal to everyone, BUT you're not going to, so realize that now. If you have a unique product & you market it right- you don't have to appeal to everyone to be successful. Just stay focused. Take myself, for example. Sure there are 17-21 year olds having babies and going to baby showers, but do they have jobs or are they still in school? Are they more likely to buy my unique, handmade (in the USA) product or are they more likely to run by the nearest Wal-Mart & grab a cheap-o pack of baby bodysuits, most likely made in a sweatshop in China? You probably guessed Wal-Mart & for most you're probably right. Therefore, my target audience starts at 23.
My business is an online based business so I rely on customers that are savvy with the internet. Sure, there are many 50?'s and up that are amazing with their internet navigation & may even be more social media literate than myself, BUT chances are, where my baby and maternity items are concerned, my target audience cuts off at around 50. My crop top & tank top apparel probably cuts off around age 40.
GENDER? This one can be super easy for some & some not. Take jewelry, for example. As a person that doesn't make/sell jewelry I would automatically assume that the target audience were female - and IT IS. Where business owners get lost is thinking they should appeal to men as well because, "What if they're shopping for a gift for their wife or girlfriend?" We aren't talking "what ifs" in defining your target audience, we are talking "most likelys". Chances are if a female wants a certain ring, necklace, bracelet, etc.- she's already got it picked out for herself & she'll send her guy in that direction. I had a hard time with this because I do make Men's t shirts as well, but after tracking my analytics & stats, I was able to see that women are most likely to buy for their men than men were to actually be searching.
Remember: LESS>MORE. Less is more & it couldn't be truer in defining your target audience and figuring out where to gear your advertisements. Being in front of 5 of the right people is better than being in front of 100 of the wrong people.
How did you define your target audience? Tell us in the comments below!
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Keywords: Small business, Etsy, Online business, Handmade, How to be a successful small business, Defining your target audience, Knowing your target market, advertising, marketing, Liv & Co.
Make Your Pins Go Viral. The Power Of Pinterest & Your Etsy Business (Or Any Other Small Business)
Yes, these are my very own Etsy statistics. Why am I showing them to you, you ask? Simple: To show you the power that Pinterest has to drive your small business & show you how to use it to your advantage!
As you can see, Pinterest is ranked 3rd in my traffic sources! That is ahead of Google, Facebook, & every other source! Clearly you can see Pinterest is a platform you NEED for your business!
Here I'm going to highlight 4 tips for making your pins go viral and being successful on Pinterest.
Join group boards. Why? A.) Because your products will be seen by a much larger audience. B.) You can pin daily without worry of spamming people. Group boards expect you to pin everyday or a couple times a week. Just don't pin repetitively with the same items over & over. Keep it fresh. C.) Because you are pinning in a community that supports you. People on these group boards are in for the same reason as you. Therefore, most of us want to help each other & re-pin each others items. Join my Small Business group boards here: I OWN A SMALL BUSINESS & ADVERTISE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS HERE . Make sure to follow the instructions at the top of each board. Most group boards will require instructions on how to be invited.
Hashtag your pins. Don't go overboard, though. I suggest 2-4 tags. 1-3 on words that pertain to your business/niche & hashtag your business name. I do this so I can find all of my pins easily. All I have to do is put #LivAndCo in the Pinterest search bar & boom! There I am! All of my pins.
Try to stay at or under 200 characters with your pins. Anymore & research shows that people aren't as likely to re-pin. Too many words overwhelm people & they tend to get lost in them. Keep it simple.
Pin at the right time of day. I bet you didn't see that one coming! You're probably asking yourself, "How will I know what times of day to pin?" First you can pin 2-4 pins at the same time, once per day, for 7 days a week. See which pins take off. You can hashtag them with different names in order to find which ones you've pinned for each day for tracking!
Second, much research has been performed to gauge when Pinterest is most used. Think about your target audience. Who are they? Men? Women? What age group are they? Are they in school? Do they work? Do they have kids? Ask yourself all of these questions & then ask-what time would this person be on Pinterest? For me, my target audience is working women & Mothers of age to purchase my baby bodysuits, kids t shirts, women's apparel, & accessories. So I ask myself, "When would that person be online? How can I put myself in front of that person?"
First, she is probably up sometime between 5-7 a.m. sipping a cup of coffee before work, scrolling her phone. She probably has a lunch break from whatever type of occupation so she is probably hanging out & scrolling her phone while eating between 11:30 & 1:00 p.m. She probably works until 4 or 5. She might go to the gym afterwards, pick the kids up from daycare, or run errands. She'll come home and most likely cook/prepare a dinner of sorts, & hang out with her kiddo(s) until bedtime which will most likely be between 8-9 p.m. She'll have herself in bed between 8:30-10 p.m. so she's probably going to scroll her phone one more time to see if there's anything fun going on.
If your target audience is a college student, for instance, putting yourself in front of them on Pinterest during the day is probably not a good idea. They are probably in class or sleeping. They are most likely going to be your late night/early morning pinners. Find your target audience & pin accordingly.
Lastly, the most popular days to pin to Pinterest (according to research studies) are Mondays & Thursdays. You're welcome ;)
How has Pinterest served your business? Tell us in the comments below!
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Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but seriously, where have Facebook scheduled posts been my whole life?! I'm usually very business savvy & when it comes to all of the latest trending topics, I'm one of the first to be in-the-know. Not. this. time.
I figured since my Instagram account was linked to my Twitter, Tumblr, & Facebook fan page that would suffice for my photo uploads. DON'T FIGURE THAT. Do both. I re-arranged my Monday mornings to schedule my Facebook fan page posts for the entire week & it only takes me 10 minutes! This makes life so much easier than fumbling through my phone photos to find an old product to make relevant again. Now I just go straight to my photo album on my computer, select the photos I want relevant for the week & voila!
My advice: Schedule your posts for totally random times throughout the week for the first couple weeks & see what times receive the most interaction & keep scheduling for those times. For instance, one of my best times to schedule a post is Monday morning at 6 a.m. since so many hard working parent's (because that is my target market being that I design/make/sell baby, toddler, kid, & adult clothing & accessories) in the United States (my largest market) are normally scrolling their feed over a cup of coffee at this time.
My products are also extremely popular in Australia (Sydney being in my top 10 cities that most view & purchase from my shops), Canada, & the UK, so I schedule posts according to their time zones as well. Once you have your target audience narrowed down it should be very easy to figure out their Facebook habits & schedule away! It's SO easy!
HOW TO DO IT:
1.) Start creating your post at the top of your Page's Timeline.
2.) Click next to Publish.
3.) Select Schedule Post.
4.) Choose the date and time you want the post to be published.
5.) Click Schedule.
Do you use the Facebook "schedule post" feature? How is it working for you? If you don't use it, will you now? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.
Follow all of my small business blog posts for amazing advice for your small and/or handmade business HERE.
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Why You May Not Be Getting Any Etsy Sales Part 2: PUTTING MONEY INTO YOUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE (Great Info For All Small Businesses!)
Hi! Welcome to Liv & Co. If you've been following me then you already know that I run a very successful, small, handmade business.
I have spent the ladder of the past 3 years researching how to make my Bodysuits, T Shirt's, & Accessories business a success. I spent way too many 16 hour days researching Search Engine Optimization, how to be successful on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, & all other social media platforms, keyword relevancy & placement, how to create ads with Google & Facebook directed towards my target audience & more. (We will cover how to find your target audience in another post). To sum things up- I pretty much call myself an expert & so do those that I teach.
13,000+ sales later....
Yesterday I covered the first part of this series; how to take click worthy PHOTO'S. Click HERE to see that post. Today we are going to discuss putting money into your business; more importantly your Facebook fan page, & why you should. This will be lengthy, but stick with it - you're going to learn A LOT! If you don't have time to read this all now, you're going to want to PIN, TWEET, BLOG, EMAIL, OR SHARE this to your social media & go back to reference it when you have time. Please click "register" at the top of this page to follow me!
You're probably saying to yourself, "Why should I put money into something I just started? What if it doesn't work out?" First of all, if you believe in yourself & your business, questioning whether it will work out or not is the last thing you should be asking yourself. You are setting yourself up for failure if that is your mentality. Your mindset should be, "I know I'm going to be successful so what are the best tools to utilize to get me there?"
All of us have a different set of "tools", so to speak. Some people really WORK their Facebook fan page, but I choose not to go that route & here's why: I don't have time to focus on that. I didn't have time even when I wasn't uber busy with orders, but I definitely don't have time now. I have other social media to tend to & I have to keep creating. If I'm stuck on Facebook waiting all day, that hinders me from coming up with fun, new, fresh items for my rock'in customers. I seriously saw someone in a Facebook group I'm a part of say, "I'm not paying to advertise on Facebook. Why should I have to pay?" Ummm....
Facebook has a very nifty advertising tool. They've collected a lot of data & have a lot of employees working round the clock to bring you a tool that other platforms do not offer right now & virtually everyone who is shopping online is going to have a Facebook page. That's not going to come free & it shouldn't. Why work hard when you can work smart? Facebook has an unrivaled ad setup, in my opinion. They have come such a long way from when I first started advertising with them.
Once you have your target audience narrowed down, Facebook has their Ads Manager setup so that you can gear your ad toward only your target market.
Why is this better than working your page 24/7? Because Facebook will work it for you for a very small fee if you're doing it right. This frees you up to work on your craft, your other social media sites, or spend precious time with your family- which is priceless. While you are at the park enjoying a picnic with your kiddo's your Facebook ads are hard at work putting impressions of your business in front of your target audience instead of people that may have only liked your page because they are already your friend, or because of a giveaway you were hosting.
You can set your ad up for any age bracket. You can set it up for one particular city, state, country, or multiple countries. You can choose whether your ad shows up on desktop or mobile device or both. Why wouldn't you want both? Because if you get more traffic from people that are clicking from their mobile device, for instance, you don't want to waste impressions on mobile users that aren't likely to click. Get it?
You can set your ad up for clicks to your website, to get likes on your Facebook fan page, to boost your posts, & more! You can narrow down the demographics by your customers purchase habits, residential status, interests, marital status, gender, parental/family status, & MORE.
You're probably thinking this sounds really expensive, right? Wrong. If you're familiar at all, you've probably clicked "Boost Post" from your fan page before & it gave you a $5 minimum & you may have said, "To heck with that!". That is an entirely different tool that I'm referencing. The advertising I'm referencing starts from your Facebook homepage where you'll click 'Ads Manager' on the left column as shown in the photo below. Once you are in your Ads Manager, Facebook will walk you through, pretty much step by step, on creating your ad. There are also several YouTube tutorials to help you with this, but none of them will matter if you do not know your target audience ;) .
For me, I started out with a $1.25/ day budget. That's all & that's not a lot. That is $37.50 in about a month (30 days). That is dirt cheap advertising for not having to babysit your Facebook fan page all day. That is why Facebook advertising is worth the cost. I now have 4 ads running. One for "likes" on my page and 3 others geared towards website clicks on 3 different categories of my shop.
Of course, you may always snag some advertising space for dirt cheap here on my right column & be seen by my all of my awesome, loyal followers by contacting me HERE for rates. Click HERE to join us on my "I Own A Small Business" Facebook GROUP for buyers & sellers!
What advertising tool do you utilize that works best for you & why?! Tell us in the comments below!
Click HERE to shop Liv & Co.
Keywords: Making money online, How to advertise on Facebook, Is Facebook advertising worth it, Ways to advertise my small business, How to be successful on Etsy, Storenvy, BigCartel, Artfire, IndieMade, and Shopify , How to sell on Facebook, How to get traffic to your Facebook fan page, How to use Facebook for your business
I hear it every day, "I'm not getting any Etsy sales! What am I doing wrong?"
If you've been following my blog you know that I have been studying how to become a successful small business for approximately 3 years. I've spent 16 hour days with, what felt like permanent blood- shot eyes, for the better part of 3 years researching, teaching myself about SEO, taking eye catching pictures, how to work social media to the fullest, & every other aspect you can imagine, to grow my own successful small, handmade business, & now I teach others.
This is part one of a series I'm going to address so if you'd like to follow along, please register yourself at the top of this page where it says "LOGIN/REGISTER". You may also click the "Small Business Blog Posts" listed under "Categories" to the right of this post.----->>
Let's start with pictures because they truly are the most important asset to your business. You can have everything else going for you, but if your pictures suck-no one is even going to see your content because they aren't going to click on your product. I look at people commenting on threads on Facebook, Twitter, & other social media sites that complain about not having any sales, then I click on their product photo's on Etsy & I think to myself, "Do they really not know?"
I sit in amazement that some photo's are literally so horrible & wonder how a person truly cannot know. I look at my photo's, then I look at photo's of my competition & I can tell that mine look awesome, but when I first started out I could tell exactly where I needed to improve.
I've never seen this done before so I'm going to try to go about helping you with this by posting some photo's of a bracelet I purchased from The Jeweled Feather, a shop that pays meticulously close attention to detail in their photo's. I'm going to examine a bad picture vs. a good picture with you.
If you aren't having sales- the first thing you need to examine is your pictures. Request honest opinions from people & make sure you have thick enough skin to handle it. Don't get offended. These people will be trying to help you with your business. Sometimes it's not always sugarcoat-able. I'm so straight forward when giving advice about photographs. If you want a no B.S. assessment on your shop photo's, post a link to your shop in comments & I'll briefly check them out for you and let you know if I think they rock or not.
When you are going to have a photo represent your product- it needs to be a 10/10. Bottom line. People cannot touch your product or see it close up so the visual has to be spot on. If you think you lack the "eye" for a good photo then it is wise to invest in a photographer for your business, especially if it's something you can make and sell over & over again. If it isn't, I strongly recommend investing in a photography class or seminar of sorts if you are serious about selling and taking your business to serious levels.
I've had seller's argue with me that they don't photo shop their pictures because they think it takes away from or makes the item look different than it actually appears in person. Out of over 13,000 sales in the past 2 1/2 years, I have not had someone tell me that my products do not look the same in person as they did in the photo except MAYBE a time or 2 where they thought the bodysuit was a different color, which depending on pixilation and computer screens-colors can vary slightly, which I mention several times throughout all of my shop's and make sure to note in all of my policy sections.
To show you how different taking a picture can be I am going to show you several different photo's of this bracelet I bought from The Jeweled Feather. I've taken photo's with flash & without on 2 different backgrounds. I'm going to show you a good picture from a bad picture. Please let me know in comments which photo's you thought were honestly acceptable.
<<<--------This is photo C. Taken on a hardwood background (very popular background for a lot of sellers) without flash & without being photo shopped. This photo does not represent any of the detail in this bracelet. It is very dull and lifeless.
This is photo D. ----------->>>>
Taken on the same hardwood as photo C, but taken with flash on. Do you see the glare on the table? Do you see how dark the photo looks? Two no-no's right there. Are you starting to see how enhancing your photo is necessary? It does not mean you are altering the item itself or making it look different, you are simply removing the "clutter" from your photo's.
<<<------- We'll call this photo E. Photo E was taken on a white table with flash. Though, the detail of the bracelet is better shown here, the background is too dark. It will not attract buyers.
This is photo F. ---->>
Photo F was taken on the same white table & right after photo E except photo F (this one) was taken without the flash on. See how photo's can vary drastically simply by the flash alone? This photo does not contain the same details of the bracelet as photo E, but it is brighter. That's where you need to learn to make the photo brighter while keeping the detail and removing any shadows, speckles, & imperfections in the background.
<<<------Photo G. Photo G is getting there. It is definitely more acceptable than the others & will probably render you several more sales than any of the other photos. This is the EXACT same photo as photo E. Looks a lot brighter, doesn't it? All while still keeping, and even slightly enhancing the detail to the product. It was rotated, cropped, and both the brightness & contrast were adjusted. I can personally tell you since I purchased this bracelet and currently have it on my wrist right now, that this is the closest photo to representing the product in person so far.
Photo H. Last, but obviously not least since this is the photo that captured my eye and secured me as a buyer! This is the original photo of the infamous bracelet. Now, hopefully you can see how different pictures can look & why it IS so important to capture the right look for your product!
I bet you're asking yourself, "How did she take these pictures?" or you're telling yourself, "She must've had a big, fancy camera to take these photo's". WRONG. These photo's were taken with my cell phone & photo shopped with an app!
After examining the photo's above, please give your honest opinion, in the comments below, on which photo's you thought best represented the bracelet & why. If your thoughts were that it doesn't really matter because you liked the bracelet in every photo- I want to know that too & why!
If you'd like honest opinions on the photo's in your shop or for your small business, include a link to your shop in the comments below & I'll do my best to respond to you all with honest assessments!
Get more traffic to your small, handmade business. Liv & Co. advertises for small businesses all the time on this very site! If you want to advertise your business on Liv & Co. contact us HERE for bi-weekly & monthly pricing.
Keywords: Etsy, Etsy Seller Guide, How To Be Successful On Etsy, How To Take Good Photo's For My Handmade Business, Crafts, Handmade, Liv & Co., Liv And Company, Promote My Handmade Business
Some of these may sound like they have A LOT, but in comparison, they do not. They also do not revolve as quickly as just using #Etsy, leaving your product photo to linger a bit longer in front of those searching that tag. The Etsy hashtag alone currently has 4,012,296 posts it is tagged in. While you should most definitely always use it when posting your Etsy items, you should include some of the smaller time tags as well.
Of course, if you love my posts & love my products make sure you're following Liv & Co. on Instagram by clicking HERE to keep up with the latest news!
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What hashtags do you use on Instagram? How has Instagram helped to build your Etsy business? Tell us in the comments below!
Let's talk hashtags. Many of us know what they are, some of us are clueless. Hashtags have become so important in today's society in easily locating things that are trending, things that are for sale, and much more. Today we will focus on the "things that are for sale" aspect & more particularly, hash tags you should be using on Instagram if you have an Etsy shop.
Instagram is a HUGE tool for your business. Why? Because it is photo based & it is free (as of right now). People are using Instagram more & more as a shopping site, which is why if you don't have an account- you need to get one & if you do have an account you need to understand the importance of hashtagging.
I'm sure most of you know to #Etsy , but it's a fast moving tag so photo's tend to get lost quickly in the feed. Below are 11 hashtags you should totally be using on your Instagram account when you are uploading your Etsy items. I've even included a few that are linked to big time Etsy promotional accounts that love to love your stuff even if they don't feature it. (They are ran by independent people that love to support Etsy. They are not run by Etsy, nor are they affiliated with Etsy.)
Etsy Hunter is an Instagram account that features Etsy shops. This tag is how they locate items that shop owners wish to have them feature. Plus, it's a popular hashtag that Etsy sellers search. With 61,710 current posts it makes this hashtag just popular enough, but not enough to get lost.
Etsy USA is another Instagram account that features Etsy shops. They have 13.6k current followers & are growing by an average of 300 followers per day. With 13,990 current posts you won't be drowning in the whirlpool of the "too broad" hashtags.
Etsy finds is another popular hashtag to locate great Etsy shops & products. Currently, there is a nice flow to this hashtag. 91,773 posts are tagged with it.
Hashtag EtsyForAll is an upcoming hashtag gaining popularity fast.
This one is pretty self explanatory, right?
You're an Etsy Seller so tag it!
Running a sale in your Etsy shop? Tell everone about it with this popular Etsy sale hashtag.
If you're looking for some extra lov'in on your Etsy product posts, tag Etsy love!
Now that you're here, feel free to shop our amazing, handmade apparel and accessories for babies, toddlers, and adults by clicking the photo below.
This hashtag is linked to the Instagram account @Etsypreneurs. They too love to feature fab Etsy products. They currently boast 5800 followers & growing so go follow them & get tagging.
This is a popular hashtag for people who want to, you guessed it, shop Etsy! This hashtag currently has 85,000 posts. Again, enough to be reputable, not enough to get lost in.
Proud Mom of 3 beautiful children. Creator, designer, & owner of Liv & Co.
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