business goals

Product photography for the person wearing all the hats

We asked Alexis, of Whipped Up Wonderful, to share some of her product photography tips with us. Her product photos are always so dreamy and beautiful. Here are her helpful suggestions for photography that will definitely up your Etsy listing and Instagram game!

If you are like me, you not only make your product; you package, label, ship and do all the marketing and photography. I’ve taken a lot of bad photos: I’ve tried an “edgy” crooked look, busy backgrounds and overlooked blurriness. Like anything, I improved with practice, and a little revisiting my photography class book from high school. Of course, I’ll also guess you don’t have a photo studio. The cool thing is all you need is a bright sunny window, and a few props, if any, and of course your camera or smartphone.

The White Background:
For your minimalist needs look no further than Amazon for a pop up studio. These fold away boxes offer a full white background, diffuse the light around the subject and make your handmade items “Amazon” ready.

The Catalog:
When you need a look that is more like a catalog style, or you want to try to sell by hitting an emotional key with your customers, then grab your items and let’s look around the house.

Your bath products might look great beside that lovely tub. Your candles might look great on your coffee table. Open those windows wide and get creative.

Pro Tip : Your house isn’t exactly House Beautiful? Pop over to your local home improvement store to create some unique backdrops using wood or tile. Not super handy? Try scrapbook pages or poster board for smaller items.

You might want to experiment with the lighting at different times of day in your house. Sometimes you might only have a few workable hours.


Invest in a tripod. If you need anything to keep a cohesive style, get a tripod, even if you are using your smartphone. You don’t need to drop a lot of money on it either.

Now for the editing. Very rarely will you take a photo from camera to computer and find it to be listing ready. Your computer might already have some photo editing software. If not, there are quite a few easy editing programs online that are cheap or free.

Pro Tip: Steer clear of filters. While trendy and eye catching, they will distort colors and rely on gimmicks (such as bokeh or color washes) that aren’t catalog caliber.

Focus on brightness, white balance and just a touch of saturation to balance and color correct your photos.

And there you have it! Smartphones and the internet have given us all a little leg up in the photography department. Good luck!



Creative Small Business Goals for 2017 with Alexandra

My favorite thing about being a member of Etsy Dallas is growing and learning with other like minded creatives.  We are all in different places on our entrepreneurial journeys, and we learn what works and what doesn't, and support each other throughout.  Alexandra of Wandering Paper Co. is back with a follow-up to her last post with her goals for 2017.  I am so excited to see where her bright and minimal brand goes this year!


A little while back, I wrote a recap of my 2016 small business goals, so this week it’s time to focus on 2017. I can’t wait to share my goals with you, but before I do, I’d like to ask for your help! In order to accomplish these goals, I need some honest feedback from the general public. I’ve created a short branding survey to help guide my decision making for Wandering this year. If you are willing to fill it out, I would be most grateful! Thank you in advance for giving a little bit of time to help make Wandering Paper Co. better. I couldn’t do this without you!

Okay, on to the goals. It’s taken me a while to write this post is because I’ve had such a hard time narrowing down my list of goals. There are so many things I want to do, but some of them are just going to have to wait until next year. After giving it a lot of thought, here’s my final list of goals for 2017:


That's my new branding mood board up there! Now that WPC has a year under its belt, I’d like to thoroughly think through my storytelling and messaging, and build out a recognizable brand that my customers connect with. I put together this mood board to help guide the visual portion of branding, which includes color schemes, materials and textures, typography, and graphic elements. 

I also want to think through the way I choose to tell the Wandering Paper Co. story. This will mean thinking through a few key questions—namely, what sets Wandering Paper Co. apart, why has it been successful so far, and how does it connect with its audience on an emotional level? I’m excited to get started on this goal—stay tuned!


My goal with the WPC Pinterest is to showcase my work, but I also want to create a resource for other aspiring printmakers or creative business owners. The Pinterest page will provide solutions to common business questions and problems with links to helpful articles. It will also have lots of printmaking ‘how-to’ articles and inspiration. Plus, it will have boards dedicated to beautiful global décor examples and light-filled creative spaces to help us stay inspired and dream about the future. I really wish I'd had a resource like this when I was first starting out, so I can't wait to share it!

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This one's pretty simple. First, I will conduct a study of relevant search terms and keywords though Google Adwords and the results of my branding survey. Then I will optimize the WPC site for these terms with the goal of growing site traffic from Google searches. It's actually a really big undertaking, but it will be interesting to see how it affects site traffic!


Create more prints in the City Streets series, City Skylines series, and Pattern print series to round out each collection. A few prints currently in the works are New Orleans, Austin, and a new Fort Worth print to match the Dallas one. I've also been experimenting with some floral patterns, which brings me to my next goal...


A few items I’m considering: tea towels, napkins, notebooks, and calendars, as well as a line of wedding invitations (hence the florals.) What kinds of items would you like to see? Tell me in the survey!

So, there you have it—my 2017 goals. I’d love to hear your thoughts about these, so if you’d like to help me out, my branding survey is here. Thank you all so, so much for participating and being part of the Wandering Paper Co. story. I can’t wait to get started on these goals and see what 2017 has in store—it is humbling and scary and exciting all at once. Here’s to 2017!

Reflecting on Resolutions with Wandering Paper Co.

The new year is a great time to reflect on the successes and failures of the previous one. And we read recently that March is an excellent time to make resolutions. Alex Hughes of Wandering Paper Co. shares what she learned from her small-business goals from last year, and offers a sneak peek at what's next for her globally inspired paper goods business. 

Well, it’s a new year, and that means new goals! Yes, I realize it’s a little late to write a “New Year’s” post, buuut one of my goals this year is to “get more rest” so you could say I’ve gotten a jump on that one. :)

Anyway, before I write about my goals for 2017, I want to go back and revisit my 2016 goals. Here is a quick summary of last year’s goals, and ways I’ve addressed them:

1. Implement Systems to Maximize Efficiency and Minimize Costs

One of the big ways I’ve done this is by buying materials in bulk. This has forced me to address my fear of commitment, because now that I’m sitting on one thousand each of envelopes, packaging, and shipping materials, I’m forced to come to terms with the fact that I’m in this thing for the long haul. 

Another way I’ve done this is by keeping track of my inventory and sales throughout the year. Now that I have a year’s’ worth of numbers under my belt, I can make educated long-term decisions about how many supplies to order, how many prints and styles to make, etc.

2. Create a Thorough Accounting System & Maintain Organized Financial Records

Ugh. Let me be the first to say that numbers and financials are not my strong suit. The mere talk of numbers makes me tired. That said, I think I did an okay job with this one, and learned more than I ever thought I’d know about Excel (let’s just say they don’t teach you about spreadsheets in art school.) Huge thanks to my friend Will for getting me started, or as I like to call it, pro bono work for the mathematically challenged. Anyway, here are a couple things I did that were helpful:

  • Opened a separate bank account for my business
  • Made a spreadsheet of all business materials and expenses and used this to calculate wholesale and retail pricing.
  • Made a spreadsheet to track sales and inventory
  • Used accounting software (I used Wave Accounting, which is free) to track expenses and profits

Having these systems in place helped me identify expenses that were hurting my bottom line, as well as to figure out where I could afford to invest. The graphic designer in me really wants nicer business cards and packaging, but the numbers hold me accountable and force me to grow slowly. It helps me ensure that I have a healthy profit at the end of each month, which is pretty awesome.

Okay, enough talk about money. On to more fun things!

3. Explore Additional Sales Avenues: Craft Shows, Farmers' Markets, Wholesale

Check, check and check! This year I tried out lots of different craft shows, and sold at our neighborhood farmers’ market as well. I was excited to learn that the prints sold really well at both the craft fairs and farmers’ markets, but my favorite thing about doing these events was meeting other creative people. Some of the friends I met even turned into wholesale relationships!

4. Make Prints That Give Me Joy

I’m really glad I had kept this as a goal last year, because when you’re selling your work, the temptation is always there to make products that you think people will buy. This goal has helped me carve out time to make prints for their own sake and to experiment more. I’ve found that the unstructured “fun” projects are where I generate my best ideas or discover new and exciting things. These projects keep me excited about Wandering, because I am challenging myself and growing creatively.

Big thank you hearts to Alex for letting us see behind the scenes! Head over to the Wandering Paper Co. blog for more small business tips and to shop the collection of colorful multicultural paper goods!