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How to Boost eBay Traffic and Dropshipping Sales

dropshipping eBayIf you are an eBay seller with an online home dropshipping business, you may be interested in picking up a few tips on how to boost eBay traffic and sales.

eBay, while its rules are stringent and unpalatable to many sellers, does have a gigantic amount of global traffic. This makes it a fantastic world marketplace for anyone with a dropshipping business who wants to make money online, working from home.

You may have heard reports that it’s too hard to make money on eBay and that only the huge big box businesses are getting the traffic so smaller sellers are shut out and can’t make any money. If you have, disregard them because such stories are not true.

It does seem that the eBay search engine, with all its faults, does reward sellers with scads of listings. But, on the other hand, it stands to reason that the more listings a seller has, the more will show up in search. Be that as it may, you have no worries about getting sufficient traffic on eBay to ensure yourself a tidy income if you go about things the right way, even as a small dropshipping seller.

Here are some tips to help you increase traffic to your eBay listings and therefore, boost sales:

  • Use your titles wisely. eBay recently increased the number of characters a seller can use in the title, which is a good thing. You now have 80 characters to play with instead of the old 55. Take advantage of this extra opportunity to write compelling titles that snag a shopper’s attention and make someone want to click through to view your product. Make your titles descriptive and your product sound appealing. Be sure to include such details as size, color and so forth if applicable.

  • Be sure to fill out all of the fields in the drop down menu for item details. This is supposed to help you in search. For example, if you are selling clothing, there are drop down choices for style, color, size, etc. Use them all and boost your listings in the search pages.

  • Use great SEO. This means using your prime keywords in your title and as close to the beginning of the title as you can get them. For instance, if you are dropshipping video games, put your most important keywords right up front, such as “video game” and the title of the game, which video game player it uses and more. Use good SEO in your descriptions, as well. Using good SEO will not only help your listings to get elevated in the search pages within eBay, but search engines such as Google can pick them up easier too.

  • Have great images! The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. That may or may not be true, but it’s definitely a truth that eBay shoppers love good photos and plenty of them. So, make your product images the best they can be. Show different views of the product and make sure your images are large enough to be seen well. This is critical for online sales! You may need to actually buy one each of your dropship products to take the photos, but it’s a great investment and anyway, you can resell them once your photography session is over.

  • Offer free shipping if possible. This will get your listings a boost in the eBay search. In some cases, you simply won’t be able to factor the shipping cost into the price of the widget, but if you can….do. Besides getting your items ranked higher in eBay search, internet research has proven that online shoppers love free shipping and will buy a product with free shipping before they’ll buy an identical product without free shipping.

Use these tips to increase eBay traffic and boost dropshipping sales!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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We Are All Artists Now

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin

seth godin icarus deceptionFew people have captured the post industrial world of work like Seth Godin. Now, you may think of him as a marketer – and he is a brilliant one indeed. I believe, however, his greatest contribution to business is the very clear message about how work has evolved from one of factories and rules to one of making ideas and art.

To be sure there are still many who play in the world of producing things by way of orderly process but, increasingly, people are trying things on the side of design and causing a good ruckus while they play.

As the cost of making things, trying things, starting companies and practicing your art has come down, so too has the cost of failure. Trying your idea out and failing is not such a big deal any more, playing it safe and normal is.

I spoke with Seth Godin for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and he shared his thoughts on some of the myths and deceptions that hold people back.

Godin recently set the publishing world abuzz, once again, by using a crowdfunding service to prove that people were interested in the notion of his next book before he ever sought a publisher to produce it. With a guaranteed large print run in hand he was able to dictate, to a large extent, the type of deal he wanted.

In his now published work, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly, Godin reveals the often mistold told story or Icarus. As most people will recall, Icarus famously flew too close to the sun against his fathers advice. This act of hubris led to his demise. The lesson of course, is don’t try to soar too high, right?

The part of the story that is rarely told is that his father also told him not to fly too low as the salt and mist of the sea was equally fatal. Godin’s contention is that the current environments of work, school and even organized religion are often to blame for people aiming too low.

The Icarus Deception is above all things a cry for a revolution of sorts. A cry to get more people to start sharing their ideas, designing their lives and telling people about their art.

One of the best ways to embrace this idea may be to attend one of the more than 1,000 Icarus Sessions happening on Jan 2. You can find or organize an Icarus Session here and read all about how the sessions work here.

If You Liked This Post. . . :

We Are All Artists Now is a post from: Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

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Home Business Idea: 3 Reasons to Dropship Gun Accessories

dropship gun accessoriesNobody in the United States and probably in the civilized world is unaware of the spate of recent tragedies such as the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut this month and if you are looking for a good home business idea, we can furnish you with 3 good reasons to dropship gun accessories.

Whether you agree or disagree with our constitutional right to bear arms, the fact is that millions of people do believe in it and that in addition to the senseless slaughter of innocent victims at schools, malls, theatres and other public places; home invasions are a very real threat to many Americans, as well as people all around the world.

With this in mind, more and more law abiding citizens are choosing to arm themselves for self protection. That makes dropship gun accessories a hot niche for anyone who wants to work from home.

Besides self protection, hunting is and has always been a popular pastime for many people. Besides sport and recreational uses, more and more people have turned to hunting for food during the economic recession of the past several years.

Again, this makes dropship gun accessories a profitable niche for an enterprising ecommerce entrepreneur!

Let’s look at three reasons to dropship gun accessories:

I. You can dropship gun accessories year round and count on having a dependable, steady flow of traffic and demand for your products. Although sales will almost certainly surge during hunting seasons such as deer season, dove season, duck season and more—there will be plenty of demand throughout the entire year to make this a profitable niche.

II. When you dropship gun accessories, you have a wide and diverse target market and can tailor your promotions and marketing to each of these specific markets. For instance, hunters comprise one market and that can be broken down into even more specific sectors as you can promote different sorts of gun accessories to different sorts of hunters, depending on what they are hunting. This gives you many more opportunities for traffic and sales.

III. Many gun accessories are smallish, which can be helpful when you take into consideration the average internet shopper’s desire for free shipping. If you were selling big, heavy products such as televisions, it would be difficult to factor the shipping cost into the sale price and make many sales. This isn’t the case with smaller items, however, and provided you find a true wholesale product source with low prices, you can easily incorporate the shipping cost into the sale price and attract a lot more potential customers who are drawn to the offer of free shipping.

Types of Gun Accessories

Now that we have looked at some reasons to dropship gun accessories, let’s see a sampling of the various types of products you might want to dropship:

  • Scopes
  • Cases
  • Cleaning Kits
  • Gun Vaults
  • Gun Safes
  • Trigger Guards
  • Holsters
  • Pouches
  • Sights
  • And More

If you dropship gun accessories, does this mean you are contributing to the violence that is running rampant in the USA?


The people who can legally buy and own a gun for self protection will buy these products somewhere and you will be serving a need to provide the products.  

The same principle holds true for selling gun accessories to hunters. You may not personally approve of hunting, but plenty of others do and you have a huge market there for sales.

If you want to work from home and be your own boss with a profitable online business, dropship gun accessories and start making money right away!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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How to Work From Home With a Dropship Internet Business

dropship internet businessIf your New Year’s resolution is to make a new and better life for yourself, you may be interested in learning how to work from home with a dropship internet business—one of the best and most lucrative opportunities around today!

Let’s face it; many of us have jobs that leave much to be desired. When you work for somebody else, you dance to their tune. You take breaks and vacations when they tell you to, work the days and hours they want you to work, often endure unreasonable demands and way too much stress for too little pay.

After awhile, you might begin to wonder if there isn’t a better way.

Guess what? There IS a better way and it’s called dropshipping.

With a dropship internet business, you decide the hours and days you work, take vacations when it best fits your schedule, and since you’re your own boss and work alone, never have to put up with an irate supervisor or irritating coworkers.

Some people literally hate their jobs but are afraid to give up that security blanket of a stead paycheck.

When you start an internet dropship business, you don’t have to worry about a lengthy period of time without any money coming in because you can start making sales and money immediately.

Here are some tips to help you get set up in your own home dropship internet business:

  • Research and find a reputable wholesale product source. This is the most critical area of starting a home dropship business. Your business can only be as good as your product supplier. So, make sure to get one that is an established business with a good Better Business Bureau rating and preferably, customer testimonials.

  • Choose a wholesale product source that really does give you true wholesale prices. You need to buy low and sell high, or at least as high as the market will bear. If you pay too much for the dropship products you intend for resale, you will not have a wide enough margin for profit and will end up working for peanuts. So, check the average retail price of the dropship products you are considering and make sure the supplier’s prices are low enough to ensure you of a tidy profit.

  • Be sure your dropship product source has high quality products. If you can get name brands, that’s even better since they are much easier to sell, especially online. If you sell poor quality, shoddy products you will have some very unhappy customers and your dropship internet business will be dead in the water.

  • You will be dependent on your dropship product source to ship the items you sell to your customers promptly, in secure packaging. If they don’t, you’re sunk and your dropship internet business is doomed to failure. You also need to be sure that your product source will notify you of low inventory or out of stock items. The last thing you want is to over sell, especially on eBay where buyers are notoriously short of tolerance for seller bloopers.

  • Once you find a great wholesale product source, simply select the items you want to sell, list them on the venue or marketplace of your choice and you’re in business. No need to buy inventory up front. With a dropship internet business, you only pay your product source for an item as it is sold and the buyer has paid you for it.

It really couldn’t get any easier! So, what are you waiting for? Get started in your own dropship internet business and make this next year the best ever!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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Home Business Tip: Firearm Dropship Sales are Going Great Guns!

firearm dropship salesThe recent tragedies and mass shooting sprees across the nation have caused gun sales to boom, no pun intended, and the result is that this is a prime time for firearm dropship sales for any enterprising ecommerce entrepreneur who wants to get in on a hot niche.

Guns are flying off the shelves in gun shops and every retail store that sells firearms all over the country. In fact, since the election in November, many gun shops report a 400% increase in sales! People are scared because of the senseless violence and buying guns for self protection. They are also panicked that the increased killings will mean stringent gun control for the United States and they soon won’t be able to purchase guns.

This is highly unlikely. In the United States of America, we have a constitutional right to bear arms and it’s doubtful that this is subject to change. However, from 1994 to 2004, there was legislation in place to ban the sale of the type of assault weapons used in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, the movie theater shootings in Colorado and several other places recently.

Unfortunately, that ban was allowed to expire. It seems possible that it will be put back in place. That being said, the sale of non-assault type weapons will probably still keep going strong.

This means that firearm dropship sales is a hot and very profitable niche for you to get into if you want to start a home business online.

Does selling guns mean that you are encouraging people to shoot and kill other people?


It simply means that there is a demand and if you supply that demand, you will make money. What your customers choose to do with any firearms or accessories they might purchase from you is on them, not you.

Here are some snippets from an article in the Huffington Post on December 14, 2012:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded more than 16.6 background purchases for gun purchases in 2012, the highest number since the FBI began publishing the data in 1998. A record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers went through on Black Friday in November, the FBI reported at the time, in part because of fears that President Barack Obama and other lawmakers would tighten gun control laws.

The FBI does not track actual firearms purchases, and the number of weapons sold could be even higher than the number of background-check calls because customers can purchase multiple guns, USA Today reports.

The firearms industry had a $31.8 billion impact on the economy last year, up from $27.8 billion in 2009, due to job creation, sales and taxes levied on guns, according to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The firearms industry didn’t see much drop off in the recession that hit so many other U.S. businesses. Gun industry-related jobs grew by more than 30% between 2008 and 2011, according to NSSF data cited by Forbes.”

Obviously, this is a hot niche.

If you want a lucrative niche for a home ecommerce business, check out firearm dropship sales today!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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10 FREE Social Media Marketing Tools for a Dropship Business

social media dropship businessIf you aren’t harnessing the awesome power of social media marketing to grow your dropship business, you’re missing the boat!

Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest are HOT. Internet stats have shown over and over again that social media marketing can definitely help an ecommerce or other business, so you definitely need to get on board with your dropship business right away.

There are a wealth of tools available online to help with your dropship business social media marketing and many of them are free, which makes them even better.

Here are 10 FREE social media marketing tools for your dropship business:

1. Social Mention: You need to know what is being said about your dropship business and products online! With this handy free listening tool, you can keep an ear to the ground and find out exactly who is saying what, where. You can get real time alerts about not only your own business, but your competitors as well—-very useful info!

2. WordPress: Since a blog for your dropship business is social media, treat yourself to a tour of WordPress and check out all the fabulous free apps they have to make blogging easy as pie!

3. Tweet Deck: Tweet Deck by Twitter is a wonderful dashboard social media marketing tool. You can arrange your feeds into customizable columns, schedule tweets, monitor and manage unlimited Twitter accounts, stay up to date with notification alerts for new trends.

4. Disqus: This great tool helps you manage your blog comments. It’s all in real time, which can be a tremendous help in responding to comments quickly and interacting with your readers. One of the main benefits of a blog for your dropship business is interacting with readers, so being able to do it in real time is a boon, indeed.

5. Tweet Reach: Tweet Reach can help measure the impact of your social media marketing and campaigns on Twitter. You can generate reports based on almost anything, including keywords, user names, tweet texts, URLs and more. Quite useful in getting an idea of how far your tweet traveled.

6. Hoot Suite: This social media marketing tool has been around for a while and is a tried and true way of helping you with your dropship business efforts on the social scene. There are paid plans and a free plan. Basically, it seems that the free plan has everything a small ecommerce home business would need. You get free reports, message scheduling, 5 social profiles, 2 RSS/atom feeds, unlimited apps and more.

7. Facebook Insights: This free tool can be a huge help in seeing and understanding who is a fan, tracking your growth and impact, as well as helping you to reach the right audience for your niche.

8. Twitalyzer: As with HootSuite, there are pad plans and a free version of this great tool and the free version should suit your dropship business purposes nicely. There are a variety of analytics that will come in handy, plus demographic data and more.

9. Topsy: Love this free social media marketing tool! Simply type what you want to know about into the search box and find out what’s trending. A good way to keep your finger on the pulse of social media.

10. Google Analytics Social Reports: If you are already using Google Analytics, consider this a bonus—a nice and very helpful bonus. According to Google, here’s the scoop on this handy tool: “Social reports help you measure the impact social media has on your business goals and conversions. Integrated web and social data provides a holistic view of your content and community.”

Use these 10 free social media marketing tools to help build and grow your dropship business!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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Get Your Social Media Moving by Reading Going Social

I was having a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is an expert in developing online content and courses.

She told me that her daily routine included spending about an hour each morning going through and analyzing what a variety of experts in her field were doing in their respective businesses.

She said:

“You can’t consider yourself a professional in your space unless you know what everyone is doing.”

She went on to say that she subscribes to everything and does her best to participate and review their content so that she can track what’s working and what isn’t working.

Jeremy Goldman’s Going Social Gives a Front-Line Perspective

When I first received the review copy of Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media, I have to admit that the words “Not another social media book!” crossed my mind.  That’s when my friend’s words came back to me – you can’t consider yourself a professional unless you watch and learn from everything that’s going on.

After reviewing what seems like dozens of social media books, I can honestly say that I’ve picked up something from each of them – a new tip or perspective or strategy.  There is something to be said for getting into the weeds of social media and Jeremy Goldman (@jeremarketer) does just that.

Here is how Jeremy describes what sets his book apart from the others:

“Unlike many books covering social media engagement, this one is written by someone who has spent the better part of the last decade on the social marketing front lines.  Many social media books are written by theorists and from authors from giant consulting firms…I’ve managed e-commerce presence and the customer service and online PR functions.”

Jeremy Goldman is a recognized expert in social marketing and communications.  He’s managed major brands such as Kiehl’s, TEMPTU, and Jurlique.  He is currently the AVP of Interactive and Social Media for iluminage inc., a Unilever subsidiary he helped found.

Going Social is Loaded With Case Studies

If you are responsible for managing social media for an organization or you are using social media as part of your own marketing strategy, then Going Social is a book that qualifies as ready you must read as a professional in the world of online marketing.  It’s loaded with case studies and front line experiences that you won’t find in too many other social media books.

Here is an example:

JamaicansMusic.com is featured in a case study about how to focus on a specific niche.  Lots of marketing books tell you that you should focus on a niche and some books will show you how big familiar brands focused on a niche, but Going Social is featuring a brand you may not have heard of – JamaicansMusic.com and how that little site used social media marketing to engage in a conversation with their audience to drive traffic to their site.

Personally, I like these kinds of examples because they show how a no-name business and a non-celebrity business  owner can use social media to drive customers to their sites and stores.

My Experience of Going Social

The double-edged sword of Goldman’s book is that in presenting how small businesses like yours have used social media tools to grow traffic and sales and drive new customers to their sites, you’ll still be left to your own devices as to how you’re going to actually put any of these items into practice.

Let me show you what I mean – let’s go back to our JamaicansMusic.com example.

In this case study, Goldman tells the story of JamicansMusic founder Alex Morrisey who started the site as a hobby for himself in college.  But then he noticed that he was getting lots of traffic (How can I do that?) and decided to start engaging his visitors using social media by “asking them questions about what they wanted on the site.”  Now you might think, “That is an awesome idea!” But you will be left to your own devices as to how to do that successfully.

You might read this as a criticism of the book and it’s really not at all.  I really want to be clear about how the author delivers the content and how the case studies are structured.   You will get lots of creative ideas about how other business owners attracted customers using social media, but you will have to create your own to-do list and follow through.

At the end of each chapter, however, there are links to more information and details for that chapter that you can follow.

Going Social Adds to Your Toolbox of Social Media Tricks

Overall, I’d say that Going Social is a book you have to own if social media marketing is part of your strategy.

It’s loaded with practical information and lots and lots of ideas from down-to-earth brands that you can easily take on as part of your strategy.

The post Get Your Social Media Moving by Reading Going Social appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Your Website: Do You Know When It’s Time for A Tune-Up?

Did you know that your business website is a lot like your car? It’s true.

We depend on our cars for many things. It’s really hard to get around town without one. Running errands, meeting clients, rushing delivery items to the Post Office just in the nick of time: as a business owner, how are you going to do these things without a car?

You could do it – but it would be tough. That’s why we make regular, ongoing investments to keep our cars in good working order. We fill the gas tank. We check the oil. We go to the mechanic for tune-ups as needed.

Now think about your business website. We’re very dependent on our business websites. In many cases, your website is the primary point of contact for new and returning customers. Sales, customer service, and brand building – it all happens on your business website.

Yet many business owners don’t do any maintenance or monitoring of their website. In fact, they hardly engage with their website at all once it is launched. This is the equivalent of getting your new car from the dealership, driving away, and never once visiting a gas station or mechanic.

How long do you think that car will last under those conditions? If you don’t want your business website to stall out or break down, you need to take charge of the situation and start monitoring your website.  Here’s what you need to look for:

Weekly Website Reviews

Spot Check: Give your website a quick visual inspection. Does everything look right? Are images and videos behaving as you expect them to? Click on a few links throughout your site – different ones every week! – to see if they take you where you want to go.

Any problems you find, you can let your tech team know about for a quick fix.

Read Google Webmaster Report: Every business owner should be signed up for Google Webmaster. This free program provides you with valuable information. The application offers some great insight including a report on any broken links on your website, information about the last time Google indexed your website, etc.  Important for effective SEO.

You can also see if there are any viruses on your site.

Review Your Google Analytics: Google Analytic reports tell you many things. You’ll be able to see how much traffic your website gets and where the traffic is coming from. This is great if you’re tracking the impact of a new marketing initiative.  How long do visitors stay on your website? What your bounce rate?  A bounce rate measures how many visitors come, view a single webpage, and then leave your site.

Bear in mind that if you have a popular blog, for example, your bounce rate might be high and that’s totally okay.

Monthly Website Reviews

Test Forms: Data collection forms, such as the one used to request a consultation, send feedback or sign-up newsletter subscribers should be tested regularly to make sure they’re still working.

Try testing your forms using different email addresses and from different devices and Web browsers.

Shopping Cart Test: If you have any type of shopping cart on your site, run a complete test order every month to make sure your shopping cart system is operating seamlessly. Review your shipping and taxes on the order and pay attention to each screen and the receipts you receive. This is the shopping experience your customers are having.

You want to make sure it’s a good one. If you identify any problems, you need to let your web development team know right away.

Review Dynamic Content: Compare the dynamic content you’ve added to your website (blogs, podcasts, videos, new merchandise) with the numbers you’ve seen during your weekly Google Analytics review. Is the content delivering the results you’d like to see in terms of traffic, stickiness, and conversion?

If not, adjustments may be in order.

Speed Tests: How quickly does your website load? How quickly do individual pages come up? A sudden change in the rate of load speed indicates that something may be wrong, and it may be related to how dynamic elements are coded or changes in the web host server.

Quarterly Website Reviews

Is It Time for an Upgrade? Open source Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are continually improving their platforms. They make changes to their codes so sites built with their technology are more secure, more virus-resistant, and load faster.

Generally, there will be a message alerting you that an upgrade is available in the dashboard area of your website. If you see this message, it’s time to let your web developer know.

Don’t try to do the update yourself.  Hitting that ‘Upgrade Now’ button can totally wreck any custom coding or third party plug-ins you may have on your site.

Review User Names & Passwords: Internal security is important. Do you have the user name and passwords for all accounts associated with your website? Accounts may include Google accounts for Analytics, Webmaster or Adwords; shopping cart passwords for tools like PayPal or Authorize.net; and website control through FTP, C-Panel or web hosting accounts.

For security purposes, passwords should be changed routinely – and always if you’ve let go of an employee who previously had this access and permission.

As a business owner you are ultimately responsible for your website. If you have an in-house team this list is a great way to start implementing a process to pay better attention to one of the most valuable marketing tools you have. If you have an external team you may want to request a cost for this level of monitoring.

The fact is that the Web changes, and upgrades to Web browsers or operating systems can cause changes.  Even good old fashion human error can occur when editing a site.

If you pay close attention to your website you can catch things before they cause any loss of business.

Tune Up Photo via Shutterstock

The post Your Website: Do You Know When It’s Time for A Tune-Up? appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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10 Essentials For Handmade Business Success

As small business owners, we cannot become so bogged down in the minutiae of business that we don’t see the forest for the trees.

For handmade entrepreneurs, this is especially challenging because we love what we do so much, it’s tempting to spend most of our time creating things, and not enough time marketing and selling them and planning for the future.  This often results in lots of nice products, but few sales.

If you find yourself in this situation, or want to avoid it altogether, don’t panic. I created a list of 10 specific essentials that will help you focus on revenue-generating activities, without sacrificing your passion for the making the products you love.

1. Develop consistent systems. Systems create structure and help things run smoothly and efficiently, but handmade entrepreneurs, who often start as hobbyists, often resist them. The shift from hobbyist to business owner is a critical one to make — I know because I made it. I want you to assure you that it’s worth it.

Set aside specific days of the week when you will make specific products. This will help you plan how to organize priorities. You won’t waste a moment wondering what to make next. You can even share your manufacturing schedule with customers (wholesale and retail) so they know what to expect.

Use a tool like Google Calendar to plan and schedule blog posts, Tweets and Facebook updates. You don’t have to be rigid, but a basic schedule will allow you to lead your business with more predictability, and you can tweak it you grow.

2. Embrace technology. Each year, business success depends more heavily on effective use of technology. Handmade businesses are very high touch in terms of products and physical interaction with customers, but tend to be less so when it comes to using technology to increase sales. The good news is that I have seen people who were once fearful of technology fall in love with it when they begin tracing sales directly to the use of a once scary tech tool.

Begin by discovering what technologies are used by businesses that are similar to yours. Make a list of 3 or 4 things they seem to use effectively and watch their methods. Adopt similar approaches in your business and put your unique stamp on them.

If anyone with credibility offers classes to help you get started, it’s worth it to buy the instructions. Technology is like arithmetic in the sense that new technologies build on old ones. You will have more difficulty figuring out the new Facebook, for example, if you have never used the old one. The further behind you get on technology, the harder it is to catch up. Don’t delay. Get started today!

3. Don’t identify yourself as a “crafter.” There’s nothing wrong with being a crafter. I’m a crazy girl and I love making all kinds of things. I still make many of my own soaps and cosmetics, but I no longer sell them. Why? Because I’m a crafter, not a cosmetics business owner. Once you start selling the products you make, you are a business owner. Linda Balon Stein of Zosimos Botanicals in Gaithersburg, Maryland, puts it this way:

“The personal care products we sell are handmade, and when people ask what I do, I say I own a cosmetics company. To me, that implies a professional career creating handmade products. Even though I know there are people who make high quality products and travel around the country exhibiting and selling their wares as “crafters,” there is a big distinction between what we do and making crafts to sell at markets and shows. We pay taxes, follow good manufacturing practices, get a merchant account and many of other things that “crafters” may not do.”

Identifying yourself as a “crafter” minimizes your professionalism as a business owner. It does not instill trust when you ask total strangers for their credit card number either. If you want to grow your business, be very wary of using this term to describe yourself.

4. Invest in yourself financially. The reason many people say they don’t have a coach or sign up for classes or attend a great conference is because it costs money. Here’s a different approach. Don’t think of it as spending money on a coach (or a conference or a class). Think of it as investing money in yourself. I host the annual #IndieCruise to so entrepreneurs can MasterMind together in an unplugged environment, and come out on the other end with guns blazing.

The transformations I witness every year are amazing. Coaching, classes, conferences and similar events are experiences that enrich your life and challenge you to push yourself, to maximize your talents, to stretch the limits of your capabilities. What’s life anyway, if you don’t do that? Create a 2013 professional enrichment budget for yourself and make it a point to go to at least one event that will force you out of your comfort zone. Your business, not the mention the world, will thank you.

5. Toot your horn. Many handmade entrepreneurs tell me they are uncomfortable with marketing because it feels like bragging. Well, it is, in a way. If you are proud of the products you make, and your are confident that they are worth every penny you ask for them, then you have every reason to proudly to tell the world what you have to offer.

Share, share, and share some more. It’s not about holding a megaphone and deafening everyone within ear shot. It’s about using your natural personality to share what you have to offer, and you’ve got to do it.

6. Solidify your niche. When I launched Indie Beauty Network, I could have tried to service every single type of small business there was. As an attorney and entrepreneur, I had the background to do it. But instinctively, I also knew that if I tried to be all things to all people, I would drown.

So I decided to focus exclusively on handmade beauty products and that’s that. Since then, we have expanded some to include items like handmade candles, jewelry and baked goods, but our core is still handmade beauty, and I like it that way.

Maggie Hanus of A Wild Soap Bar sells Texas-themed handmade soap in Austin, Texas. According to Maggie:

“Deciding to narrow our line down to “native plant soaps” was the best business decision we ever made! I mean, everybody has a plain old Lavender Soap, but you won’t find many lavender scented Bluebonnet Soaps, which celebrate the Texas state flower and which contain real Texas blubonnets.”

Since starting her business over a decade ago, Maggie has gone from her core handmade soap products to other items including body balm and facial oils.

When you have a niche, marketing and sales efforts are magnified because you’ll know exactly what you are selling, and who you are selling to. You won’t spin your wheels trying to sell everything to everyone. Instead, you’ll invest your energy in selling specific products to specific people who want those products. Score!

Ask most any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that having a narrowly defined niche is how they built their businesses — and continue to do so.

7. Leverage success in your niche to create new revenue centers. If you have solidified a niche for yourself and your business is on solid footing, you can consider how you can leverage your brand to sell new products, or sell your existing ones in different ways. For example, Tisha L. Morris has leveraged her expertise in feng shui to develop several lines of products, including a smudge spray.

By offering a variety of products in “sub-niches,” Tisha appeals to more people without losing focus. Says Tisha:

“If it is not in someone’s budget to hire me one-on-one, they can access me through an online workshop, an ebook, a hard copy of my book, or my iPhone app.”

A quick word of caution: as you expand, be careful that you don’t introduce complementary products without first making sure your core is strong. If your core is solid, and running smoothly, it may be a good time to consider adding new sources of income that complement your existing niche and create new ways for you to boost revenues.

7. Brand yourself. As your business grows, you will find more people wanting to identify with more than just your products. Your repeat customers will start talking about you *and* your products, and in some ways, the two will merge into a single brand.

Handmade entrepreneurs are in the unique position of making the products they sell. This means that when a customer sees your product, whether you like it or not, they also see you. Take advantage of this by letting people experience you personally as you market your products.

Sharing photos of you in your production studio making things people love to buy is a good way to leverage yourself as a person, as you also promote your products. In time, if you’d like, you can translate this visibility into new streams of income as a speaker, a blogger or coach.

A quick caveat: unless you think you’re the next Thomas Kinkade or Martha Stewart, you’ll want to try to keep some distance between you and your business, so you can preserve the non-you part of your business for the future. If you become inextricably intertwined with your business brand, it could become difficult to sell it or move onto something else in the future. It’s a delicate balance, and there’s a great deal of overlap.

It takes time and practice to find the unique balance of personal brand and business brand that works for you. Take this one step at a time. Evaluate how it’s going each quarter, and make adjustments as necessary.

8. Involve your family members. If you are a business owner with a family, then whether or not you like it, you are not in business alone. My members and laugh all the time about the importance of integrating life and business. As a wife and mother of two, I say:

“If mama is in business, then everybody is in business!”

There are so many practical reasons to be intentional about this … first of all, you family can help you.  They can take products to the shipping office, restock office equipment, help with filing and calendar maintenance, or watch the kids so you can work. These days, many of them can even train you on how to use computer equipment!

Involving family is also important from a teaching perspective, especially if you have children.

9. Find time for fitness Personally speaking, this is the single most challenging part of business ownership for me, and I’m terrible at it. In my prior life as an attorney, I became used to sitting all day long. I was either thinking, writing, strategizing, meeting, deposing or reading, and I did all of it in a chair.

Today, I have all the flexiblity I want and I still find it hard to get to the gym. But there is a distinct difference between how I feel when I’ve worked out and how I feel when I don’t, and I prefer the former. And so does my business.

Whether you’re fit today or not, try to make it a point to do something each day that allows our body to move, stretch, and flex. For me, running usually does the trick. It seems to clear my head and make way for new ideas. After a run, I feel like I can tackle anything — a good feeling when you have to slay small business dragons all day! For you, it may be yoga, tennis, or just walking around the block. Find what works and fit it in as best you can.

10. Collaborate with your fellow entrepreneurs. Now for the most fun part! As your business grows, you will have much more to offer than just your products. For example, if you blog, you’ll have intellectual property. If you Tweet, you’ll have followers. If you publish an email newsletter, you’ll have subscribers. Look for other people with similar appeal and connect with them to create new business opportunities.

For example, my members Mary Humphrey and Alyssa Middleton teamed up earlier this year to write a soapmaking book entitled, “Essential Soapmaking.” Another example is how this month, four of my members teamed up for a Holiday Ladies Shopping Night where local women paid $20 a person to shop and enjoy a Peppermint and Chocolate martinis and crudité. (Notice: they paid a fee to enter the store to spend money … did you catch that?)

Dawn Fitch of Pooka Pure and Simple provided the venue (her retail store), and the goodie bags included handmade candles from Yum Yum Candles, handmade soap by La Shonda Tyree, the “Handmade Soap Coach”, and lip balm from Naturally Good Soaps. Dawn told me that the event was such a huge success that they are going to grow it and make it an annual event.

Collaborations like these help everyone’s business grow, but they cannot happen unless you have something to bring to the table. An audience is a big part of that. After all, it doesn’t do any good to co-host an event with you if you don’t have anyone on your list or Facebook page to announce it to.

A Final Reminder

I am not sharing all of this to overwhelm you. On the other hand, as a seasoned business owner, I feel it’s my duty to tell you the truth about what it takes to be successful.

Do not start tackling all of these things at once. That would be too much.

Select the ones where you are weakest and start there. Add a new goal each month, and by this time next year, you will have advanced both personally and professionally, your revenues should increase, and you’ll be having more fun in your life and your business.

More fun? Yes please!

Handmade Soap Photo via Shutterstock

The post 10 Essentials For Handmade Business Success appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Is Your Dropship Home Business Ready for Valentine’s Day?

dropship hom ebusines Valentine's DayDid you know that Valentine’s Day can be extremely profitable for your dropship home business?

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest gift days in the year and can bring you a surge of traffic and sales if you play your cards right. But, it’s just around the corner so you need to get it in gear and start getting ready for Cupid’s big day!

Every year, shoppers flock to the internet to find gifts for their spouses, sweethearts, significant others…even friends, family, kids, parents and teachers. Pets, too!

This is a holiday that is beloved by many and one that can boost your bottom line significantly if you have promotions and products to snag those shoppers and get them onto your dropshipping website, or to your listings on eBay, Amazon or whatever marketplace you are using.

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day gifts are often:

  • Candy
  • Fragrance
  • Stuffed Toys
  • Jewelry
  • Cards
  • Flowers
  • Lingerie

Bear in mind that these gifts are the most prevalent, but people might buy lots of other items for Valentine’s Day gifts, as well.

Valentine’s Day Statistics

The United State Census Bureau, while it doesn’t compile data specifically pertaining to Valentine’s Day, does research and keep up with stats of the more frequently purchase gifts for this popular holiday.

Here are some of the most recent stats about certain categories of gifts bought for Valentine’s Day:

  • In February 2011 jewelry stores in the U.S. sold a total of $2.27 billion.
  • There are about 180 million Valentine cards exchanged annually in the United States, which makes it the second biggest card giving day.
  • 53% of American women say they would ditch their boyfriend if he didn’t get them something for Valentine’s Day.
  • Almost half of all Valentine cards are bought during the 6 days preceding the holiday.

Here are some interesting stats and factoids from the February 2012 issue of Time magazine online:

  • $126.03: The average expected amount, per person, that Americans will shell out for the holiday. That’s up 8.5% from last year. Consumers are expected to spend the most on jewelry, at a collective $4.1 billion.

  • 72 million: The average number of Valentine’s cards purchased by parents (40% of all cards sold). Whether they end up giving the cards to their children is unknown. Either way, 65% of all gifts will take the form of a greeting card.

  • $52.4 million: The 2010 romantic comedy Valentine’s Day raked in this much cash during its first weekend in theaters.

  • 82%: The portion of people who said they’d like an “experience” rather than a gift for the romantic holiday. What these “experiences” entail, and how expensive they are, is unclear. But consumers are expected to put $3.5 billion towards a romantic evening on the town with their partner.

  • 220,000: The average number of wedding proposals on Valentine’s Day each year (10% of the annual total).

  • $367 million: Don’t forget Fido — collectively, consumers spend this much on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets each year. (Really? Their pets? Who knew?)

So, it seems pretty clear that your dropship home business has the potential to rack up some big numbers for sales of Valentine’s Day gifts.

You might check out fragrances, lingerie and jewelry to dropship because these are proven winners with a huge global target market and a large demand.

Get your dropship home business ready for Valentine’s Day and make plenty of sales and profits!


Start your own online dropship business today!

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