small business tips

Skratch helps small business owners access affordable workers

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The wonderful people at Skratch App understand that Etsy sellers often don’t have access to low-cost dependable labor. Skratch solves for that.

Skratch is the mobile app that gives small businesses access to an affordable worker — the teenager. Think: helping with inventory, prepping products for shipment and setting up or promoting an event.

Getting started is simple! Small business owners download the app, post a “gig” with instructions and details for the task, and a teen accepts the gig based on their location, interests and qualifications. Use promo code ETSY to try for free!

Other small businesses in DFW such as Samantha’s Slime Shop and Reful are using the app to assist with inventory and packaging. Want to learn more? Email support@skratch.co or visit www.skratch.co.

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.

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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!

 

 

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!