Blog Archives

Jason Pike shares the importance of a post title

Jason Pike shows points out the importance of a post title.

If you were lucky enough to attend our most recent Craft Racket, then you likely took furious notes while Jason Pike of Lad Named Felix regaled with his knowledge of how to make subtle tweaks to your online postings that will improve where your website, Etsy posts, blog posts, shop updates, and more appear in Google searches.

Not only did he present more knowledge than should have been able to fit in one short hour-long presentation, he created several handouts that have all of the necessary basics. People who were lucky to attend the event were able to take them home with them. But, because we love everyone, we’re not able to share both of his handouts and his slide presentation with you folks who were unable to join us. So feel free to download the files and use them to make your business bigger, better, and more Google-able than ever.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This means that there are some small things you can do that will improve how important Google thinks your website is. Jason has shared some of his favorite SEO tips and tricks that you can easily implement.

SEO Class Handout CCM

MY SEO CHECKLIST

Basic SEO Tips and Tricks presentation

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No matter the size of our business, we all have hopes for that 1 contact, that 1 order that will be large enough for us to push our business to the next level, for us to justify quitting our full-time jobs and go solo-entrepreneur. So we are a group that is ripe for exploitation of that hope. So, consequently, we often get exploited. Today I received this email:

David Morgan <davestoresltd@gmail.com>
2:19 AM (7 hours ago)
to cinnamon

Hello, My name is DAVID MORGAN, I want to order some product items from your store to my below address in Scotland but before i proceed, i will like to confirm the type of credit card you accept as payment (VISA OR MASTER CARD) and if you can ship to the below address. Please let me know asap, so i can proceed with my request.

Best Regards

DAVID MORGAN

DAVE STORES LTD

18 Pulteney St, Ullapool,

Ross-Shire,

Highland IV26 2UP Scotland

Phone: +35722661000

Email: davestoresltd@gmail.com

My hear leapt with joy for a second before my cooler head, “research this guy and see what you find.” So I did, and discovered that this name has been used on shipping scams. Thankfully Smitten Kitten has a collection of scam emails to share that should show up fairly prominently in Google. The hardest part to realize in all of this, is that the scammer doesn’t care anything at all about your product. They only care about the shipping they con you into paying. Amy gives a great breakdown of the scam. But essentially the scam artist gets you the craft artist to pay for the shipping cost upfront and then you charge back the cost to the scammer. However, the scammer uses stolen credit cards so even if you do get a charge to go through, it will get reversed and you’ll be out the exorbitant shipping charges, and quite possibly out product if the order goes far enough before you realize you’ve been duped.

So, if you get an email from someone overseas, or even within your own country that just seems a little too good to be true. Use your Google skills to see what you can find out about the company, never pay upfront for shipping, and be suspicious of every order you didn’t solicit.

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Makers Mini Conference

Lillstreet Art CenterDabble, and Renegade Craft Fair hosted the Makers Mini Conference at the Lillstreet Loft a couple of weeks ago. It was a great opportunity for makers to hear the experiences of other artisans and the assistance that the Chamber of Commerce can provide for entrepreneurs.

The panel was made up of Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry, Marco of Alapash Meaningful Terrariums and Nora Renick-Rinehart of Fiberista Nora.

Questions centered around how they started, how to balance creativity and running a business, that whole work life balance thing and what advice would they have given to themselves as they started out. What was great about the panel is that they each had varied experiences. Nora mixes teaching with making and has had an Etsy shop since 2008. Katie opened her business after taking a class at Lillstreet. After taking a class she decided to do Renegade and took off from there. Marco made a couple of terrariums as a gift and then the demand for more came pouring in. He has also opened up a storefront in Ravenswood.

I would say the key takeaways from the panel were-

  • Collaborate: each panelist mentioned that collaboration was also how they became inspired.
  • Budget: Marco would take half the money from each terrarium he sold and put it to buying new terrarium supplies and the other half towards opening a store.
  • Set goals- each panelist talked about how important it was for them to set goals. Marco finds it useful to write those goals down.

Rudy Flores from the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce stopped by and talked about what the Chamber of Commerce can do for local businesses. He said that is probably the best place for a business to start. They are particularly adept at helping people navigate through the red tape of the City of Chicago.

I hope they will have more events like this. It was educational and it was great to have some time to talk to the panelist afterwards.

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Why did I apply and become a member of the Chicago Craft Mafia?  I wanted to network with other creative entrepreneurs.  I wanted a forum to ask business questions and get a range of answers.  While there are scores of business groups across the Chicago region, the Chicago Craft Mafia is unique in that we are all involved in the craft industry. Many of us have full-time or part-time jobs on the side, but our craft and our business is our primary focus.

I joined the Chicago Craft Mafia in 2009.  While my intention was to develop my little Etsy shop, I was also developing a growing interest in project designing – designing patterns and products for craft magazines, books, and companies.   Everyone in the Chicago Craft Mafia has been incredibly supportive of this dual path and have offered invaluable advice and connections along the way.

The other week I had the opportunity to submit a project design to a large media organization, but I needed stellar photos.  I’ve been getting along fine with my little digital point-and-shoot, but it had recently died.  I had this fancy DSLR camera, but I didn’t have a clue as how to use it.  I didn’t even have the manual as the camera was used.  So, what to do?  I called upon fellow Chicago Craft Mafia member Michelle Kaffko of Organic Headshots and Snarky Sleeves for a tutorial.  Yep, that’s me in the photo practicing what I had learned (photo by Michelle).

My time commitment to the organization has ebbed and flowed over the years.  We each participate in committees related to our interests and skill sets which in the past included organizing the DIY Trunk Show. I’ve especially enjoyed developing the Craft Rackets which will resume in the fall.  As a trained teacher, it’s a natural fit for me to develop educational programming.  I also like attending the Rackets and meeting other business owners.

Every month the members meet for a few hours to discuss Mafia-related matters, share upcoming show deadlines and discuss what’s new for each of us.  It’s a great way to set personal and professional goals and feel that there is some sort of accountability.  As a full-time professor, artist, project and knitwear designer, as well as mother, I find the balance to be more than a tad challenging.  It’s incredibly easy for me to let things slide and remain static, so these meetings have been an immensely valuable format for me to keep myself moving in a forward direction.

If any of this seems like it would be a good fit for you and your business, then take a moment to fill in the application.  The deadline is June 30th.

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Art Fair Insiders is an art fair network providing useful advice from its membership.  Get an insider’s perspective on the best and worst shows.  Keep current on entry deadlines.  Membership is free!

http://www.artfairinsiders.com/

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Did you miss our Craft Racket on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO)?  No, worries!  Heidi Gustad of HandsOccupied.com and a speaker at the event has graciously shared her notes.  Add them to your growing file on crafting a business.

Download them here: craftmafia-seopost-072012

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The Illinois Artisans Program focuses national attention on the rich heritage of the fine crafting that exists in Illinois.  Our juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals, exhibitions and other events held at our locations in order to promote their work. The Illinois Artisans Program markets crafts through four locations:

Illinois Artisans, James R. Thompson Center, Chicago
The Museum Store, Illinois State Museum, Springfield
The Museum Shop, Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown
Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center, Rend Lake

The Illinois Artisans Program is continually looking for talented new artists to join the Program. All areas of arts and crafts, including folk, traditional, contemporary, and ethnic, as well as fine art forms are eligible (Media). Over 1,800 artists have been jury selected into the IAP. Once selected, their work can be shown at one or more Illinois Artisans Shops without re-jurying (Application). Application deadlines are March 28th and October 12th. Juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals and other events held at the shops in order to promote their work. (Application Overview)

For more information:

http://www.museum.state.il.us/ismsites/chicago/store.html

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We got this email and thought you all might like to know about this as well.

Applications for Impact Engine
Available Now thru June 30th

Calling all Social Entrepreneurs,

The Impact Engine is looking for great entrepreneurs getting ready to start or already running early stage for-profit organizations that positively impact today’s societal and/or environmental challenges. They want to find and support entrepreneurs who use business principles to change the world, improving the human condition in creative and innovative ways. Please forward this email to anyone who you think might want to know more.

The Impact Engine (TheImpactEngine.com) is a 12-week venture accelerator designed to help socially and/or environmentally minded for-profit companies move to their next level. The first group of approximately 10 entrepreneurs, Impact 1, will be matched with experienced mentors, provided access to vetted legal and accounting professionals, given help in building their business models, assistance in landing early customers, ideas on growing their organizations and access to hundreds of investors on Investor Day.

Chuck Templeton (founder of OpenTable) and Arun Sivashankaran (seasoned entrepreneur and technical guru) will be working with the Impact 1 companies on a day-to-day basis, helping them think about how to best grow their business. Chuck and Arun are surrounded by an experienced team with an extensive network that will maximize the reach that each company has. The goal is to increase the chances of success for the entrepreneur/s and condense the timeline to market adoption for their organizations.

The Impact Engine is accepting applications for our first cohort (Impact 1) of companies until June 30th, for a class that runs from September to December. For more details, please go to www.TheImpactEngine.com or you can contact Chuck Templeton at chuck@theimpactengine.com. There is an early application bonus so get your application in now!

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The When: Thursday, April 12, 2012 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Where: Chicago Cultural Center

73 E. Washington, 5th floor

The What:

Edmund Dantes Hamilton, , Founder, Chicago WordPress Meetup Group, and  Scott Winterroth, Founder, Country Music Chicago will take you through:

  • WordPress Basics
  • PayPal and Ecommerce
  • Installing a Shopping Cart Plugin
  • Configuring Store Settings
  • Setting Up Product
  • Setting up Shipping
  • Test Live Purchase

For more info click here.

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A huge thank you to all the crafters who came out last Wednesday night to participate in our Craft Racket!

We collected a fantastic list of tips for selling at shows, from a variety of crafters. Download the Selling at Craft Shows Tipsheet, or just take a quick look at a few excerpts:

  • Get people to touch and try on jewelry. Some studies say people are 40% more likely to buy if can touch first.
  • It’s a good idea to include a picture of what you make on your business card.
  • If you’re doing a demo [in your booth or at a show], take a photo or make a checklist of what you’ll need (including all the supplies); when you’re packing up, you’ll be sure to have everything you need.
  • Don’t make everything so perfectly neat. People will be intimated to look at – and certainly touch – anything because they don’t want to disturb it.

Join the Chicago Craft Mafia mailing list (in the column over there ->) to find out about upcoming events like this one, or follow us on Twitter (@chicraftmafia) for more great tips and info relating to crafters and upcoming events!

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