Posts made in January, 2014

Every so often, we like to scour the Internet for articles and tips on topics we think our readers will love. Join us for today’s edition of Round ’em Up, where we’re rounding up the best of the web finding advice for providing excellent customer service when you’re a handmade business owner.

photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via photopin cc

photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via photopin cc

Before you start thinking about your own shop as the owner, take a minute to remember the last time you were a customer. What was the experience like the last time you shopped in a big-box multi-departmental store? In a small, local shop or restaurant? Online at a site like Etsy? Take a minute to list out the best and worst examples of customer service you’ve experienced from the customer’s end, and keep those tips handy when you craft your own plan for rocking the customer service in YOUR biz.

Then keep reading, because we’ve got more tips in store for you!

  • Tim at Handmadeology discusses the idea that in today’s world of online buying, it sometimes feels like our customers want MORE from us all the time, but they want to pay a lot LESS than they ever have before. Try to resist getting caught up in the emotion of that situation, and work with it instead! Tim’s list of 4 Tips for Stellar Customer Service will have you sailing to the top in no time, and your customers will come back for the service every time – deal, or no deal. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that last bit!)
  • At Going Home to Roost, Bonnie offers 5 tips to help you become a Customer Service Whiz. Among them? Think like your customer! Put yourself in their shoes to encourage positive communication, and try to find the good things in every complaint. After all, a complaint today can potentially improve your business tomorrow! Besides, as Bonnie points out, when you go the extra mile for a customer then they’re going to sing your praises across the Internet, and you can’t buy marketing that good!
  • At the Creative Income Blog, they’ve got an idea that just might make your customers all come back for more: treat every customer like they’re going to be a repeat customer. Of course, you can’t guarantee that everyone will return for a 2nd (or 200th) purchase, but if you treat all of your customers like you’re building a relationship with them and you want it to last, the odds are definitely in your favor. Read more about Encouraging Repeat Customers from Creative Income.
  • Whether you business is based online or in-person, your customer service is the make-or-break scenario for getting happy customers. Victoria Tane offers tips for Creating an Unforgettable Customer Service Experience at Handmadeology. Her tips are designed for selling in person, either in a brick-and-mortar store or at a craft show. But her advice, which runs the gamut from creating a welcoming environment to inviting customers to come back and see you again, will work for any situation where you’re representing your business to the public.
photo credit: jm3 via photopin cc

photo credit: jm3 via photopin cc

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the articles we’ve pulled together for you today! If there’s a topic you’d like us to cover in the next Round ’em Up, leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear your feedback, and we hope you’ll come back and visit us again sometime!

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Join us each week as we take a moment to think, reflect, and create something in the midst of a week full of To Dos and Don’t Forgets. Every #ThinkCreateReflect post will give you a chance to respond to a prompt, in writing or creative media, to stretch your creative muscles just a bit.

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This week, get out those art supplies and make a collage to represent Winter. Use clippings from magazines, paint, chalk, pencils, crayons, or whatever else you’d like!

Take a moment to reflect on your collage – how can you apply something from this project to your business, to keep it current with this chilly season?

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

Snap a photo of your creation and post it on Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to tag it #ThinkCreateReflect so we can all enjoy it!

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Sometimes I just don’t have the heart or energy to finish a project. ¬†Sometimes it’s the tactile act of creating that is what I need. ¬†Sometimes it’s the journey not the destination.

I’ve decided to be OK with that.
What projects – finished or unfinished – are you working on this week? Share your creations on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #projectwednesdays so we can all see them!
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Do you ever look at the uber-successful business owners you admire and wonder how they got so lucky? Guess what – they probably aren’t. Chances are they didn’t win the lottery or inherit a million dollars from some rich uncle they’d never heard of. Instead, they’re simply very good at managing their time, and their productivity is the key to their success.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

The good news is that you, too, can harness your own inner productivity powers and put them to work for you. Here are some tips we’ve gathered for improving your productivity:

1. Take care of yourself. 
This may sound like it has nothing to do with actually working, but in reality the well-being of your body has a lot to do with your ability to focus on a task and get stuff done. Take time out of every day to exercise, drink plenty of water and keep up with as many healthy eating habits as you can muster. If you feel good, you’re going to be good at getting your work done.

2. Marry your routine.
Seriously, even if you work from home, “setting your own schedule” can’t be a euphemism for “hanging around all day not getting anything done.” Set a routine for yourself that’s just as strict – if not stricter – than the type of routine you’d have to follow if you had a typical 9 to 5 job. If you DO have a day job, bring the routine and habits from the workplace into the time that you work at home. Dedicate yourself to a schedule you can keep, and you’ll be more likely to stay on task throughout the day. Make sure to plan your day so that you’re working during your peak feel-good time (for me, that’s first thing in the morning, but I know other people do their best work later in the day so that might be how you need to schedule your working time). During the times of the day that you tend to get easily tired or distracted, give yourself easier tasks to do like reading and responding to e-mails or checking in with your social media sites. If you need a quick pick-me-up, take a 5-minute break to stretch or do a few quick sprints up and down the nearest staircase to get your blood flowing and your brain back on track.


3. Avoid distractions.
Yep, I know, this one’s easier said than done. It can be soooo tempting to take a “quick break to check in on Facebook,” and then all of a sudden you look at the clock and realize you’ve just spent an hour stalking your high school boyfriend. If you know that certain things will trigger you to get off-track with your day, avoid them like the plague. You can even use them as a reward to yourself – for me, I allow myself to check in with my knitter pals on Ravelry only after I’ve finished all of my working tasks for the day. That way I use the social media site as a carrot to dangle on the proverbial stick and it keeps me going to finish my tasks more efficiently.
Of course, sometimes distractions come in the form of people – your kids run into the room every five minutes while you’re typing a blog post, or your husband calls you in the middle of your work day because he’s got a break at his job and he’s bored. Do what you can to minimize these distractions by asking your family members to respect your working time and setting boundaries. If you have to, turn off the phone for a while; if there’s an emergency you can get a message via text.

photo credit: f_mafra via photopin cc

photo credit: f_mafra via photopin cc

4. Tidy up.
If you work in a messy space, your brain will become just as messy on the inside. Keep your work space de-cluttered and streamlined so that the clear space around you allows you to think with a clear head. Make it a daily ritual to tidy up your space at the end of the day, when you don’t have much brain power left, and ban anyone from entering the area until your next work day so it doesn’t get messy in the meantime. This is also a helpful tip if you have a production-based business: you’ll make your products faster if you have all the necessary supplies in places that are neatly organized and easy to reach.

5. Get out of bed. Now.
Sure, you’re not a morning person. You work for yourself so you don’t have to be, right? You can sleep until noon! The problem with that scenario is that you’ve wasted half your day just lying around in bed. Try giving yourself 30 extra minutes every morning by just turning back that alarm clock by half an hour. You’ll be amazed at how much more you accomplish in the day.

6. Make your goals visual.
When you’re working hard, and you’re all by yourself, it can be helpful to remember WHY you’re doing it. Write out an affirmation, print a photo of the vacation destination you’re saving up for, or make yourself a chart you can use to reward your progress with stickers. Whatever you’ve got that motivates you to keep going, put it up on the wall, front and center in your work station. That way, every time your mind starts to wander, you’ll see your goal up there in front of you and remind yourself to keep your eyes on the prize.

Need more ideas for a productive life? Check these out:

Going Home to Roost: Streamlining Production

Handmadeology: 7 Productivity Pitfalls to Avoid

Robin Sharma: 21 Tips to Become the Most Productive Person You Know

Daily Good: 12 Productivity Tips from Incredibly Busy People

Handmadeology: Tips to Increase Productivity in the Studio


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Welcome back! It’s time for #ThinkCreateReflect, where we take a little time to think about the past, reflect on the present and create something for the future. We’re glad you could join us today!

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This is the time of the year where the “G” word comes into focus: Goals! Whether you call them To Dos, dreams, resolutions or aspirations, everybody’s got them.

As a business owner, you probably have several goals that you work toward at any given time. Eleanor Roosevelt said that “Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct.” What do you think about that, in relation to your business goals?
Let us know! Leave us a comment below or use Twitter or Instagram to share your response with the world, using the hashtag #ThinkCreateReflect so we can find you!
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