Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Spanish Chicken

Just doing a quick post this week as I'll be busy celebrating my 30th birthday this week so here's my recipe for Spanish Chicken!

Spanish Chicken (serves 4)

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
100g chorizo, sliced
500g passata
1tsp paprika
8 chicken pieces (wings, thighs, drumsticks)
chilli flakes
salt and pepper

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and fry for another minute.
2. Add the peppers and chorizo and continue to fry.
3. When the chorizo begins to release its oil, add the passata and paprika and bring to the boil.
4. Transfer to a deep roasting tin and place the chicken pieces on top.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chilli flakes, if using.
5. Roast in a pre-heated oven for 40 minutes at 200 degrees C.  Serve with rice or potatoes.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Opening an Etsy Shop

I decided this week that I would finally open an Etsy shop.  With my usual excellent timing, I've chosen a week when Lochlan's third tooth is coming through so I've not got anywhere near as much done as I'd like, and the stuff I have done isn't to the standard I'd like.  Still at least it's there now and I can dedicate my efforts to stocking and improving my shop.

My initial instinct was that I didn't need to join an online marketplace because it would increase my costs and  mean that I would have to divide my marketing efforts across two sites.  But as the Christmas period approaches I've begun to feel as though Cute Kids Clocks could benefit from the increased exposure offered by a large marketplace.  Also I think being part of a recognised marketplace makes your shop seem more trustworthy than an independent website the customer stumbled upon on google.

So once I'd decided to join a marketplace, I had to decide which one.  There's a large and ever-growing selection of sites offering to help you sell your handmade goods online but for me it was a simple decision.  There are only three sites which I had heard of before I started looking into selling my clocks - Not On The High Street, Etsy and Folksy.  I disregarded  all other sites thinking that if I hadn't heard of them, then my potential customers probably haven't either.  Not On The High Street has a high joining fee, which was too expensive for me at the moment so I disregarded that too.  Given the choice between Etsy and Folksy I chose to join Etsy as it is US-based and so has more international customers.

Before I joined Etsy I did some reading about how to create a successful Etsy shop.  There's a lot written about it on the Etsy blog but, to be honest, I found it quite overwhelming and went to check out what bloggers said on the subject instead.  I've linked to some of the blogs I enjoyed below.  They're a little contradictory but I like that as it gives me more to think about.

Joining Etsy was simple but not as fun as I'd expected.  There's lots of sensible stuff to think about like returns policies and sales tax, but if you set sections up right then you won't have to worry about them again.  To set up your shop you follow a few simple steps and then it's work, work, work until you get it looking great.

Shop Name - The general consensus is that your shop name should be product neutral as it can't be changed.  If you call yourself 'cutekidsclocks', it'll seem a bit odd in a few years time if you are now selling sock monkeys.  I've ignored this advice as my website, blog, facebook and twitter are all 'cutekidsclocks' and I want my Etsy shop to be consistent with my other web presences.  And it means noone else can use cutekidsclocks for their shop.

Shop Title - I've gone with 'More than Cute Kids Clocks' which isn't the catchiest title but it reflects my plans for the shop.  I  don't want my Etsy shop to just be a replica of my website, instead it's going to expand my range to include other products featuring the same cartoon animals (shopping bags coming soon).

Shop Banner Image - For this shop I've ditched my usual cartoon characters (above) for a new banner featuring photos of my clocks (below).  I'm not entirely happy with the new banner.  As the first thing my customers will see when they visit my site, it makes sense to have my clocks on the banner but I don't think this banner does them justice.

Shop Announcement - This bit is very important and subject to conflicting advice. The problem is that it is the text at the top of your shop and so is the perfect space to promote any special offers and new products, but it is also the text which will be displayed on google search results.  It needs to be short so the full message is displayed on the top of the page and in the google search results - you don't want your potential customers clicking away from your shop front to read your mission statement, you want them to look at your products.  It also needs to make sense in the context of a shop announcement, while being enticing enough to encourage people searching on google to visit your shop.  I think this section will be rewritten many times in the coming months.

Message to Buyers - In some ways this isn't a very important section of your shop as your customers won't see it until after they have made a purchase, but it's very important in terms of happy customers, good feedback and repeat purchases.  

Policies - The boring serious bit...  Writing your payment, shipping and refund policies isn't fun but it's probably the most important part of your shop.  Put a bit of time and effort in to create policies which cover any situations which may arise and you'll save yourself problems in the future.  I think it's better to have strict policies which you can relax if the situation requires (making you the good guy, going the extra mile for your customer), than to leave something out of your policies.

Shipping Profiles and Payment Methods - It sounds obvious but weigh your products with the packaging you will be using and look up the postage costs for different regions before you set your shipping profiles.  You'll need a different profile for each product if there is a big difference in sizes and weights.  I've set up my shop so I will ship any where in the world but I'm only accepting payments through Paypal.  If I were only shipping to the UK I would also accept cheques and postal orders but I've had issues with payments from overseas on ebay in the past, so for ease I'm just accepting Paypal payments from everyone.

Once you've done all that you can start adding items to your shop and with some great photography and well-written descriptions you should see the sales come flooding in.  Currently I only have 2 items in my shop (thanks to my grumpy teething baby) so I'll revisit this topic in the near future when I've had chance to research photography and descriptions.  Until then I'd love you to leave any tips you may have for creating a successful Etsy shop in the comments.

My Etsy Shop
Kellbot! - The Secret to Selling on Etsy
Everything Etsy - 20 Tips for Selling on Etsy
Crochetgal's Etsy Shop Tips
Every Little Thing Top Ten Tips for Selling on Etsy
Bachman's Sparrow - Selling on Etsy

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks & The Scary First Blog Post

I've been considering blogging for a while but I've been too scared.  I probably have the same concerns as many first time bloggers - Will anyone read my blog?  Will anyone like my blog?  What if I'm really boring?  Do I have time for this?

So far it's not going too well.  It's taken me 3 days to get past the title!  So apologies to the first 11 visitors to my blog who just got to see a pretty background and the words 'No posts.'  It's not that I'm a really slow typer (although I'm currently cudddling a sleeping baby with my right arm and typing with my left hands, so that's slowed me down somewhat), I've been busy with the grumpy, drooly mess that is my son.  Lochlan's 8 months old and expecting tooth number 3 so it's a full time job trying to keep him happy.  

As well as raising Lochlan, I make clocks which I sell on my website Cute Kids Clocks.  I won't get rich making clocks, I just want to make enough money so I can stay home with Lochlan.  Being able to make a living doing something I love is an added bonus.

As I can only blog one-handed during naptimes, this blog is going straight from my brain to the internet so apologies for any errors or typos.  I try to proof read as I go but I'm sure some mistakes will slip through.  My plan is to write about whatever it is that I'm up to.  So some posts will be about my crafting, some will be about marketing and there'll stuff about Lochlan and whatever else is on my mind that day.  If I come across any good craft tutorials or useful marketing tools I'll share them with you.  I'll share my craft makes and maybe a few recipes (but only the ones with the best results).  Hopefully there'll be something you'll enjoy reading.  I think my first "real" post will be about advertising on Bing or joining Etsy, as they're both on my to-do list and it might encourage me to actually do them.

Until then if you'd like to know more about me or Cute Kids Clocks why not have a look at the following pages.
website - www.cutekidsclocks.co.uk
facebook - www.facebook.com/cutekidsclocks
twitter - @cutekidsclocks