STENCIL SALE!!

As I have mentioned before, I buy many of my sign making stencils from    “Maison de Stencils”.   If you have been considering making some signs of your own, NOW is the time to buy them during their biggest sale of the year with 40% off ALL stencils.  Click on the link to go to the site and get the ‘code’ for the sale.

As for my ‘to paint of not to paint’ conundrum, all your comments have convinced me to NOT paint them.  At least not before I TRY to sell them ‘as is’.  I think I just get a tad ‘nervous’ about buying / selling PINK, because it has NEVER sold well for me.  sigh.

Back when we had our own shop, and I was able to divide the floor into multiple little vignettes, I had a cute little PINK area. Pink furniture and accessories, all arranged in a room-like setting.  I got more comments and ‘OOOoo00oooohs’ and “Ahhhhhhs!” on that pink area . . . .but nothing ever SOLD!!

And even when I took the ‘pink stuff’ to a show after our store closed, none of it sold.  I eventually gave up, repainted all the pink furniture and it sold right away.  Hence, my ambivalence over the pink on the vintage plaster cherub plaques.  But, I SHALL take your advice and see if they sell ‘as is’ before I potentially ‘ruin them’ by painting them all white.

I’ll be taking my Valentine inventory to my booth at Stars soon, and will include the cherub plaques.

 

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REALITY CHECK: So you want to rent an antique booth?

How exciting!  You’ve decided to ‘take the plunge’ and look into renting a booth in a local antique mall.  You have a bunch of your granny’s old stuff in the attic and you LOVE going to garage sales.  Why not ‘make a little extra money’ doing something you love?

I literally CRINGE when I get an email from someone telling me that they are ‘going to do what I do’.  I fear that I make it look and sound TOO easy.  But I don’t want to discourage them.  Oftentimes they will ask for my advice (mostly regarding the pricing of items).  I started a blog post on “My advice for renting a booth” YEARS ago.  I revisit it every so often and then leave it unfinished.  It’s just TO DEPRESSING!  And it’s a lot of MATH!!  And you really NEED to ‘do the math’!  Most people do NOT do the math, thinking ‘ignorance is bliss’, but it’s NOT!  That ignorance is going to COST you money.

SO YOUR HOMEWORK!  DO THE MATH!!

The REALITY of it is that it IS a lot of hard work for very little income.  But it CAN be done well and can earn a decent secondary income.  I’m just not good at ‘sugar-coating’ the facts and my ‘advice post’ would probably scare most potential booth renters away!!  I just couldn’t figure out HOW to say what needed to be said without sounding like I was trying to ‘burst their bubble’ or without making it sound TOO complicated.

HALLELUJAH!  I just came across a post by another blogger who has explained it all PERFECTLY!  I tried to ‘copy and paste’ her post, but wasn’t able to.  You’ll have to go over to HER BLOG HERE to read it.  It is absolutely a MUST READ if you are considering becoming a vendor in an antique mall.  Forewarned is forearmed I always say!

She shoots straight with the facts with a bit of humor without being too overbearing.  (something I never could figure out exactly how to do!)  It’s an INVALUABLE read if you have ever considered being an antique vendor! i sincerely hope you will read it.  Even if you already have a booth.  It will perhaps help explain WHY you aren’t making as much money as you thought you would.

VARNISH

Someone recently left a comment asking what kind of varnish I used and I realized that I’ve never really talked about varnish very much.  So, here it is, THE POST ABOUT VARNISH.

I go through a LOT of varnish, using most of it on my signs.  On my furniture I typically only varnish the TOP or areas that need the extra protection.  Why NOT just varnish the whole thing?  I like to leave my things with the capacity to continue to ‘additionally distress and age naturally’.

P1150396

I ONLY USE WATER BASE PAINT PRODUCTS; INCLUDING VARNISH.  The product I buy says on the label “CLEAR MATTE FINISH”.  Then water thinned acrylic-urethane.  I’m guessing this differs from POLYUrethane in that poly is most likely an OIL based product.

Since I go through so much of it, I buy my varnish by the GALLON from Miller paint stores.  (I think Miller might be a NW only paint store)  Really ANY brand will probably be fine.  What ‘makes the difference’ is the ‘sheen level’ you get.  Glossy, satin or matte.  I ONLY use matte finish, which has the LEAST amount of sheen to it.

Why a matte finish?

The less amount of sheen, the less dust and scratches will show up.  If a glossy table gets scratched, you are REALLY going to notice it.  If a matte finish table gets scratched (especially if it is distressed!) the scratch will barely be noticeable.  Shiny and glossy surfaces are much harder to photograph too . . . .you’ll always have that darn GLARE to deal with.

Also, matte finishes require less (if ANY!) prep work (sanding or priming) when and if you ever decide to re-paint.  New paint just does ant adhere well to glossy, slick surfaces.  I know I’ve mentioned that many times when giving shopping tips.

I think the last time I bought a gallon of varnish it was over $80.00 (yes EIGHTY!) but hat will last me close to a year, and much more economical than buying a quart every four months.  BUT, it does tend to ‘settle’ quite a bit and require a VERY good stirring before use if it has sat unused for very long.

BE SURE to ask the paint store to ‘shake’ your can of varnish (like they the paint).  They WILL frown at you and advise you NOT to and tell you that it will cause bubble in your varnish; which it MIGHT, IF you are going to use it right away.

I made the mistake of NOT having them shake the first gallon I bought and the ‘stuff’ at the bottom was SO thick and hard that I never was able to ‘mix it in’.  And as I already said, it will re-settle pretty quickly.  To minimize the amount of hand stirring I have to do AND to better insure the proper mixture (of the stuff that settles to the bottom) throughout my entire gallon of varnish; as soon as I bring a new gallon home, I pour it into 3 or 4 smaller plastic containers with screw on lids.  AND place a piece of was paper or freezer paper over the top of your jar before you screw your lid on.  That will keep it from getting ‘glued on’ and make it much easier to remove.  And since the portions are smaller, it’s easier to stir up the gunk that settled on the bottom.

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And that is everything I know about varnish!

What is the name of the paint color you use?

If only I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question!  If you HAVE asked me that question before, you already know the answer; which is “I mix my own paint colors” so I cannot give you a color name.

P1140843If you look closely at the different items in this picture, you will see MANY  ‘shades of aqua/turquoise’.

6.14.14 projects etsy 091Here you can see my four basic colors that I use/mix the most.  I don’t use any ‘formula’.  I just EYEBALL it.  Apparently I am gifted with a good ‘eye for color’.  One ‘starter gallon of paint will last me for YEARS, because I mix it to create all these color variations.  The color in the top left, is the closest to my ‘starter color’.

P1140892And I did just happen to buy a new ‘starter’ gallon of paint, which I used ‘as is’ on these two night stands that I just painted.  I always buy the Ralph Lauren brand of paint.  It’s crazy expensive.  ( I just spent close to $90.00 on 2 gallons!  ack!)   Usually Ralph and I like the same colors, but this time there was ONE color sample missing from the RL color board at the paint store, and it was probably the color I wanted.  the one above it was too dark and the one below was too light.  sigh.

6.25.14 projects Stars 037So I had to ‘find my color’ on a different sample board and ask them to create that color for me in the RL brand of paint.  The color is from Behr brand and it is called ‘Embellished Blue’.

P1140896I used it ‘unaltered’ on this round table with a checkerboard design too.    But here it looks a tad ‘lighter’ than on those 2 night stands.  Reason being, that the BASE color and any added detail colors will also affect the overall color.  Distressing can sometimes ‘considerably’ change the tone of any given color.

And this is WHY I prefer RL brand paints.  I have found that other ‘cheaper paints’ don’t always distress well.  It’s almost like the components of the paint color ‘separate’ as it dries and as I sand away aqua, mostly GREEN shows through.  RL is a more highly ‘pigmented’ paint so your colors stay truer and you need much less of it for full coverage.

P1140225Here is another good example of my various colors.  The one on the right being my ‘base color’.  I added some pale green to get the aqua color in the front; and some darker blue and grey to get the color on the left.

P1140259Notice how the added black lettering makes all the paint colors seem darker?

P1140646And how they change still more when distressed over a black basecoat and lettered in black.

P1140917I personally PREFER ‘varying shades’ than all the exact same color.

WORTH READING! If you have ever wanted to ‘do what we do’ read this!

A crafting friend sent me this link and boy did it ever hit home!!

So similar to what happens to me with my blog.

This blogger, however,  handles the ‘how do you  . . .???’ queries MUCH more gracefully than me!

So, if you have ever wanted to ask how to start your own little business like this;

PLEASE read this first:

Opportuniyu_1806674922_n

 

FAQ: How do you paint signs with stencils?

Here is the much requested TUTORIAL on I make my signs using stencils.

I use ‘reclaimed’ wood that I buy locally.  ANY kind of smooth surface wood will work.  After cutting my sign boards ‘to size’, I sand the edges on a 4″ belt sander.  The surface is usually already smooth enough, but if it does need some sanding, I use a hand held orbital sander.

I usually ‘prep’ a whole batch of wood like that, so that when I’m ready to paint, I can just focus on painting.  Think ‘assembly line’.  
4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 146I almost always have a stash of ‘ready to stencil’ boards on hand for sign making.   That prep work is kinda BORING and when I feel like creating, I don’t feel like having to do the boring part first!  BUT, there are also times when I’m NOT feeling creative at ALL, but I still need to use my time wisely and be PRODUCTIVE.

That is when I sand and base coat my sign boards.  PLUS, I can sand, base coat, topcoat, touch up the edges and distress a good FIFTY sign boards OUTSIDE on a dry day.  If I have to do that work inside on my craft table I can get maybe five done at a time!  So I really TRY to never have to prep sign boards inside; except maybe for an occasional custom order.

My process for painting the sign boards is:

I use small foam paint rollers; smoother finish that with a brush.

Black paint the edges and front.  Let dry.

Paint the topcoat color.  Let dry.

If some of your color has gotten onto the edges; tough up with black paint.

SAND!  I use my orbital sander for this; and I use COARSE sand paper.  (yes, really!)

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 141This way, when the creative mood hits and I’m ready to stencil on the sign designs, I can get LOTS done in one day.  I almost NEVER make one sign at a time.  Even custom orders get sandwiched in with more ‘like signs’.  It’s just a better use of my time to do several at a time.   It takes the same amount of time to set up and clean up, and to clean a stencil after TEN uses as it does after ONE.   So, why not use it ten times and save on clean up time?!?

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 124I store my sign stencils in manilla folders.  I have WAY too many of them to just put one per file, so I file similar themes together and use paper between them in the folder.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 137BEFORE I start stenciling I set up my sink for cleaning the stencils.  The SOONER you get that left over paint on the stencil into soapy water, the easier it will be to clean.    I’ve found that DAWN dish soap works best.  I put a couple of squirts into a dish pan and fill about half way with warm water.  As you can see from the above stencil, not ALL of the paint always comes off.  And some people will tell you that you don’t need to clean the paint off at all.  But if you want to get more than 10 uses out of a stencil, you’d best clean off some of that left over paint!  If it builds up enough you will no longer have a ‘sharp’ (as in PRECISE!) edge to your stencils and your lettering will be sloppy.

5.8.13 StarsCURIOSITY 109

I use acrylic craft paints for my sign making.  And FOLK ART brand is the only brand I will use for the lettering.  It’s thicker than any other acrylic craft paints and has more pigment.    I KNOW they make special ‘stencil paint’ and special brushes for that special paint.  (I remember stenciling a sunflower border in my kitchen 20 years ago like that.  The paint came in little round plastic cups and was more like a soft CRAYON than paint.)   That is NOT the stuff you should use for making signs!!  Use the liquid craft paints; the thicker the better when it comes to using stencils!  (if the paint is too thin, you will get ‘paint bleed’ on the edges of your letters.)

4.1.13 etsy STARS 003These are the kinds of  ‘pouncers’ that ‘they‘ tell you to use.  THEY are wrong!  These do not work very well at all.  And trust me, I’ve made THOUSANDS of signs, and  I  KNOW what works best!  These sponge or soft rubber pouncers just fall apart after a couple of uses, and they don’t give you a very sharp line at all.  I used to spend HOURS touching up the messy edges of my lettering before I happened upon the BEST applicators ever!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 004YEP!!! Cosmetic make up wedges!  These work like a dream, and are much easier to hold onto and my hand doesn’t get all cramped up when I am making a lot of signs.

*CLEANING YOUR PAINTING SPONGE AFTER USE:  I actually don’t  bother cleaning mine.  I just wrap in a plactic baggie and store in a sealed plastic container.  They don’t stay as “moist and ready for re-use” as the brushes and rollers that I save  for re-use in a similar way,  as shown here.  But it still saves a lot of water otherwise wasted for cleaning such a small item.  Besides, I usually make SO MANY signs at a time, that I practically wear them out in one use!  Still I save them.  If the paint has dried out on the end, I can usually just trim off the dry crusty part and get another use or two out of that same sponge again.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 139I use a scrap piece of cardboard for my ‘paint palette’.  Squirt out a blob of the black paint and VERY LIGHTLY dab the wide end of your sponge into the paint; just enough to get a little bit of paint.  Then you POUNCE your sponge around on a dry area of your palette to work the paint down into the sponge.   You want it to be ‘moist’ with the paint, but not WET.

Using blue painters tape, tape your stencil into place, then POUNCE your paint loaded sponge over the open parts of your stencil.  DON’T RUB it.  POUNCE it.  Quick, short dabbing motions until it’s fully covered with paint.  You WILL need to re-load your sponge with paint often.  DO NOT try to speed up the process by using more paint on your sponge.  All that does is make your edges BLEED.

4.1.13 etsy STARS 010This is what your lettering will look like if you have too much paint on your sponge (or are using the wrong kind of applicator).  The edges will BLEED and be sloppy.  So, yes it takes longer to use a very lightly paint loaded sponge; but you get a better product!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 008THIS is how you want your lines to look!  When you are completely done stenciling your design on your board, immediately take your stencil and submerge it into your pan of soapy water.  I let mine soak for a few minutes.  Then lay the stencil flat in the sink, put a drop of Dawn dish soap onto a kitchen scrubber and GENTLY scrub the paint residue off your stencil.  As I already said, not ALL of it comes off.  And DO be careful to not ‘snag’ the pointy parts of your stencil with your scrubber.  I lay my washed stencils on a towel to dry.

4.1.13 etsy STARS 002I kind of got ahead of myself a bit there.  FIRST, right after you remove your stencil, your lettering will have ‘gaps’ in it.  That is just the nature of a stencil.  For example, they can’t completely cut out the middle  of the letter “O”, so they leave little ‘tabs’ to hold the center in place.  PLease, PLEASE, PLEEEEASE  never leave your signs looking like this with the ‘tab gaps’ showing.  It’s very quick and easy to fill them in!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 005Use a very fine paint brush with just a tiny bit of paint on it and ‘connect the lines’.  Be sure the lettering is dry before you do this so you don’t smear your paint.  And you might need to thin your paint a little for this process.  But only thin ‘a dot’ of paint on your palette.  NEVER add water to the bottle!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 006On some signs, you can barely notice the gaps (top sign); but still, please take ONE minute to fill them in.  It looks SO much more professional with them filled it.  I literally CRINGE when I see a sign made from a stencil with the gaps showing!!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 012And with a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to stencil HUGE signs like this!  I actually did FIVE of these signs in one ‘sitting’!

Do add a coat of varnish to your finished sign.  I prefer MATTE (NO SHINE) but it can be hard to find.  I just had to spend $56.00 on a GALLON of matte varnish because they were out of quarts and are discontinuing it altogether at the paint store!  sigh.

I buy my stencils from several different places on-line.  MOST of them have the very same stencils and pretty much the same price ranges, so it doesn’t much matter who you buy from.  Be prepared for a bit of ‘sticker shock’!  Stencils are NOT cheap; and probably not really worth buying if you are only going to use them ONE time. I    Most of the stencil supply companies have ‘% off sales’ throughout the year; I try to wait for those sales to stock up on new stencil designs.

While I cannot tell you ‘which stencils I got from whom’, here are the sites that I have purchased most of my stencils from:

http://maisondestencils.com/     Scrappin Along Stencils      The Stencil Smith

Happy sign making!

FAQ: How do you get people to read your blog?

Was asked this recently in a comment here on my blog and thought this was a question that many others might be interested in knowing the answer to.

 There ARE a lot of blogs out there these days!  HOW do people find YOUR blog?

My blog gets at LEAST a thousand hits a day; some days as many as two thousand.  I can look at my site stats to see WHERE most of those readers came from.  Usually they have used a search engine to look something up, and MY BLOG was one of the links that came up for them.  THAT information itself is very helpful, because when you know WHERE most of your hits are coming from, you KNOW where to focus your efforts in promoting your blog.

KEY WORDS!!!!  You MUST use key words, or TAGS.

Scroll through these OLD posts, and look at the very END of each post. Notice anything?  A bunch of TINY words at the end of EVERY POST?  I know they are hard for YOU to read.  They aren’t meant for you to read.  Those are my key words.  The words that when people used them in a search term, the search engine would send them to MY BLOG.

These are the words that the ‘search bots’ pick up on ANYTHING on the internet to tell them that a site probably has information that someone is searching for.  I didn’t do the tags at the end of every post like that for a very long time.   Just long enough to get my blog noticed.  Once you get noticed and other bloggers start adding you to their blogroll, the whole thing just SNOWBALLS.  

I also put a LOT of effort into ‘advertising’ my blog on internet bulletin boards that focused on crafting, retail sales, antiquing and trash 2 treasure.   These ‘communities’ are great ‘support groups’ for just about ANY thing in the world.  I’m no longer involved in any (don’t have the TIME!) so I can’t make any specific recommendations except for some general ‘board etiquette’ suggestions.  Don’t just join a group and pop right in and say “LOOK AT MY BLOG!”  Participate first.  Get to know what others re doing.  Comment on other posts.  Compliment others work.  Ask for input.  And just ‘slip your blog link in’ at the end of all your posts.

DO NOT ‘PUBLICIZE YOUR BLOG UNTIL YOU REALLY HAVE A BLOG.

HUH???  What I mean is, one or two posts is NOT a blog!  Sure, it’s a start.  But it’s usually NOT ENOUGH to get readers to say, “I MUST follow this blog and see what they do next!”  Be SURE that you are WILLING & ABLE to consistently and regularly add new posts to your blog.  When you have 10-20 posts under your belt, THEN you are ready to ‘greet the world’ !  

I cannot tell you how many blogs I have gone to that had less then five posts in them over a years time,  and the blogger whines that no one reads their blog!  HERE’s YOUR SIGN!

PICTURES!  PICTURES!   PICTURES!  PICTURES!!! PICTURES!!!

LOTS of pictures.  Even “I” am guilty of mostly just looking at pictures in blogs.  IF the pictures REALLY get my interest, I’ll read the text too.  But PLEASE do not post FIFTEEN PICTURES OF THE SAME THING, FROM SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT ANGLES AND DISTANCES!  I get soooooooooooooooo annoyed at bloggers who do that.

And while I’m talking DON’T. . . . PLEASE DO NOT use the blog format that only shows one paragraph and one super small picture of each post; then you have to click to read the entire post and see ALL the pictures.  I visit those blogs ONCE and NEVER go back.  And I sincerely don’t understand WHY some bloggers think this is a good format!?!?  When I find a new blog, I will usually read EVERYTHING that shows up on the first ‘page’ scrolling all the way to the bottom.  IF I like what I see, I’ll add it to MY blogroll and go back on a regular basis.  (Regular for me is maybe once a month!) 

And PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEase do not do black or dark colored ‘wall paper’ and light colored text.  (this is popular amongst ‘primitive’ bloggers)  I, and probably most people ‘my age’ (who need reading glasses)CAN’T READ IT!   And what’s the point of having a blog that no one can read!?!?

ADVERTISE YOU BLOG EVERYWHERE YOU CAN

Get business cards with your blog address on them and put them wherever you sell your product.  I put them out in my booth at Stars, and when I did shows I’d have post cards.  I also put stick on return address labels with my business name and blog address on all the product I sell.  You can get these from ANY company that makes the stick on address labels, just put your BLOG address instead of mailing address.  

I’ve mentioned this before, but I order all my ‘advertising materials’ from VistaPrint.  They have frequent free offers where you can get a small amount of ten different products FREE; just pay shipping.  I order things like: 

business cards (use them as PRICE TAGS!)

post cards

rack cards to enclose with etsy orders

business card size magnets

pre-inked address stamps (again with my BLOG address for when I run out of labels)

magnetic car door signs

bumper stickers

sticky notes (with a printed thank you message to tuck in with etsy orders)

note pads (again with message to go with etsy orders)

thank you cards for etsy orders

Admittedly I had a bit of a ‘built in’ readership when I first started my blog.  We had our own retail store and I would send out emails every few weeks, and originally give a link to a Picturetrail site where I’d posted pictures of what was new in the shop.  Once I started the blog,  I referred my email list readers to IT for the latest pictures.  

When I advertise on Criagslist, I put my blog address

My blog address is in the ‘signature’ of EVERY email I send.  (you can set it up to do that automatically)

I advertise my blog in all my etsy listings.

When I go to thrift stores and they ask me what I’m going to do with what I bought, I give them a business card.  Same at Dollar Stores  and tell them about my DOLLAR DIVA blog (that link is on my T2T blog list of links)

So, to GET people to read your blog; FIRST have a REAL BLOG.  With INTERESTING content and lots of pictures, and regularly added NEW content.  Then plaster the link to your blog anywhere and everywhere and by any means you can think of.  

Just DON’T let how many readers you do or don’t have, be what motivates you.  BE SINCERE.  Share what you love to do.  Share your passion, whatever it be.  And do it because you want to help and inspire others.  And not just because you want to have a ‘popular blog’ with lots of readers.  

You never know whose life your blog will touch, or how!  Just put your best out there and let it happen!

Published in: on September 9, 2012 at 9:21 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags:

Business Advice

I must really SOUND like I know what I am doing when it comes to ‘my little crafting / vintage / re-purposing business, because I sure do get a lot of emails ‘asking for my advice’.  MOST of the time my reply is the same, READ MY BLOG.  I really DO pretty much ‘tell all’.  Only a very few tidbits of information are kept as ‘trade secrets’.  

Since I just got another such email, I thought I’d go ahead a do a post on the topic to ‘get it all in one place’.  First of all, I am NOT an expert.  I have learned by trial and error, and in the end, that is how EVERYONE should learn.  You will MISS many valuable lessons along the way if you don’t ‘push the boundaries’ and ‘experiment a little’.  BUT, perhaps you can learn a little from MY experience and ‘expedite’ and I can help make your journey more FUN and less stressful.

FIRST AND FOREMOST:

“There is no easy way; but there IS a way.”  That is a quote form a greeting card I saw once.  It has stuck with me though, and it’s a good reminder when ‘tough times’ come you way.  And in business, just as in life, there WILL be STUFF that comes along to knock you off balance and sometimes just plain knock you on your BUTT! 

The thing is, to remember it’s ‘just a thing’.  It’s your business.  It’s your BABY.  It’s your DREAM!!!  But still, it’s just a thing.  And sometimes things just don’t always work out the way we imagined.  SO, when the going gets tough, and you think “This just ISN’T working for me!”  This was SUPPOSED to be fun!”  This was SUPPOSED to SUPPLEMENT our income, not DRAIN it!”  Sometimes, is IS time to ‘let it go’.  

IF it is HURTING rather than helping your financial situation.  HERE’S YOUR SIGN!

IF it SUCKS THE LIFE out of you and you are crabby with your family/friends or just no longer have TIME for family or friends. HERE’S YOUR SIGN!

Now that SIGN isn’t necessarily telling you to GIVE UP.  Maybe you just need to RE-THINK.  Put what is MOST IMPORTANT FIRST in your life, your family and friends; then model your business to fit AROUND that.

It’s better to start small and GROW, then to start BIG and have to downsize.  

If business is GREAT, don’t mess with success.  BUT, at the same time, “Don’t put all your eggs into ONE BASKET”.  Try to have ‘multiple streams of income’.  Craft shows, craft malls, farmers markets, on-line venues, home parties . . .are ALL good options to explore AFTER your initial business is ‘up and running smoothly’.  

ADVERTISE.  ADVERTISE.  ADVERTISE.

The great thing about selling via more than one venue is that each will be advertising for the other.  Start a business blog.  MANY great blogging sites are FREE.  I actually don’t like the ‘pay’ blogs because they have ADVERTISEMENTS on them. And they just distract the reader FROM my information.  You want to KEEP THEM on your blog. (or send them to your other on-line venues!)Add new content to your blog AT LEAST once a week.  Show what’s new.  Talk up your upcoming sales venues in your blog.  Show LOTS of pictures in your blog.  Put your blog address on all your price tags.  

You can get business cards and LOTS of other kinds of business advertising products from Vistaprint.com.  VERY inexpensively, sometimes even FREE, you just pay shipping.  They have TONS of design options.  AND you can design your business cards so that they can be ‘cut in half’ and used as hang tags OR price tags.  Other things I order from VistaPrint are:

Address labels to use as product labels

Address STAMP with my biz name and blog address to stamp on the backs of items if I run out of labels.

Thank you cards to enclose with etsy orders.

Sticky note pads with a thank you message to enclose with etsy orders.

Rack cards to also send with etsy orders.

Business cards to put out in my booth at the antique mall

Small magnets with biz name and blog to put in my booth.

Post cards to put in my booth

Lawn signs to use as booth signs

Banners to use as booth signs

Car door magnets with biz name and blog address to advertise.  

YEP!  I have gotten ALL that stuff FREE; just paid shipping!  You can usually order up to TEN items free at a time.  Although LATELY they have only had the biz cards and post cards for half price instead of free.   Of course you only get a small amount of free things, like 25 of the magnets at a time; but as a SMALL business that is all you really NEED!

It’s also good to advertise on sites like craigslist or other local on-line places that offer free advertising.  But your BLOG will be your BEST advertising, so ALWAYS set aside time in your week to update the content and add pictures.

You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  It’s a good thing to remember.  But at the same time, remember that things can CHANGE; so always have a plan B.  If black furniture has ALWAYS sold well for you, keep it up!  But also try ‘adding in’ other colors now and then to EXPAND your color repertoire.  You just never know when that color trend is going to bottom out.  

I’ve been doing the ‘beachy blue’ for nearly five years.  And it continues to sell very well for me.  BUT I also complement it with black furniture in the fall and winter; and whites and creams in the summer.  I’ve tried PINK many times and it just NEVER sells well for ME!  When we had our own store, the pink section always got the most ‘Oooooooooooh and aaaahhhhs!’  but it never SOLD!  I usually ended up re-painting it!  

When you DO introduce a new color to your palette, be sure to add enough of it to ‘make a statement’.  You want people to see it as a color TREND they should consider.  Not just a few random mis-matched pieces!  

The BEST way to ‘protect your bottom line’ in business is to SPEND WISELY, of course.  Find out if your local thrift stores have any kind of discount programs.  Most do.  And if you are over 55, don’t be afraid to ask if the offer a senior discount.  Go to the BIGGER estate sales that are done by a professional estate sale COMPANY.  MANY of them will offer discounts the last day of the sale.  Locally, we like Kathy’s Estate and Moving sales.  On their last day, everything under $50.00 is HALF PRICE.  Works great for me because I’m usually buying that really beat up stuff that everyone else has passed up.  Occasionally we’ll go the first day for some high end stuff and again the last day for the ‘deals’.  Ask any estate sale rep if they have an email list, and sign up for it.  MANY times they will have PICTURES for you to preview before the sale.  

Pricing.  That’s another ‘hot’ topic that I get frequent inquiries about.  There is a separate post  about that.  There are MANY who would entirely DIS agree with my pricing philosophy.  But, it works for me.  It’s LESS work.  And sales are good.  You do what works BEST for YOU in YOUR AREA.

Just ALWAYS remember, that a ‘small business’ (or hobby as it really is for many of us) should be ENJOYABLE.  Not that EVERYTHING in life has to be fun.  But if it’s something you put your ‘heart and soul into’ it should be fulfilling, not DRAINING.

If I forgot to touch on anything. please feel free to leave a comment.

I’ve got the BEACHY BLUES! (My color formula for success)

Latest pictures of my booths at Stars.  LOTS of beach blues and whites:

I honestly don’t know if I’ll EVER tire of this beautiful ‘beach blue’ color!

Beach themed decor is pretty ‘timeless’ and will always be ‘in style’ .

Sprinkle in LOTS of vintage white dishes and watch it SELL!

SOME of the white dishes seem to sell better ‘seasonally’ (like tureens and gravy boats at the holidays).  But the basics; plates, bowls, canisters, PITCHERS and sugar bowls etc are good sellers ALL the time.

But I still ‘gather’ and stock the ‘seasonal’ white dishware year round (when space permits!).  It’s not just about making a sale TODAY, but also CULTIVATING future sales.  Those customers who NEED some new serving dishes for the holidays will remember where to get them if they’ve seen them in your booth year round.

I suppose  I’d HAVE to come up with a ‘new favorite color’ if the beachy blue stuff stopped selling.  But for now, I’ve got NO WORRIES in the department!

It all sells as quickly as I can get it stocked!

Building up a successful selling venue (of ANY kind!) is about finding OR creating your own little niche in the marketplace.  It can take a bit of trial and error.  But when you find that niche, don’t be afraid to really go BIG with it.

I seriously doubt that most shoppers in the antique mall will remember the NAME of my booth.  Or even which AISLE it is in (and there are ONLY 4 aisles!) But they WILL remember the turquoise!  And the staff will know exactly which booth they are talking about when they say ‘the booth with all the blue’!

Fancy Schmancy marketing companies would call that ‘branding’.  It’s JUST as important for a small business as it is for a big business.

I TRIED to ‘go with the popular flow’ when we had our other booth at Camas, and did mostly whites.  And I DO like that look too; to an extent.  But EVERYONE DOES WHITE!  And every booth looks the same.

And the white just did NOT work for us.  Not at ALL!  We pulled out of our space at Camas due to slow sales.  Meanwhile, things continue to be quite good at Stars.

And of course I add in snippets of other colors now and then.  I like to add a lot of whites in the spring/summer.  And they DO sell well for me at Stars, and mixed in the the beachy blues.

And in the fall I try to add some browns, then some black in the winter months.  But the beachy blue is my STAPLE.  MY SIGNATURE COLOR.

What’s YOUR signature color/item/ style in your selling venue?

USPS Flat rate priority boxes

If you sell on-line or do a fair amount of shipping packages via the USPS for any reason, I bet you have said to your self at one time or another, “I wish they had a BIGGER flat rate box!”.  Well, guess what, they DO!

https://www.usps.com/send/priority-mail-flat.htm?

AND they have LEGAL size Flat rate envelopes and padded flat rate envelopes too!  They just don’t ADVERTISE them OR even stock them in the Post Office.  But you can order them FREE on-line via the above link.

I still wish there was ONE MORE bigger and THICKER box, but I’m grateful for this bigger ‘gameboard’ size box for now.  It would have saved me $12.00 on an order that I just shipped to California yesterday!

Just remember, it is against FEDERAL LAW to use the FREE Priority Mail products for ANYTHING other than shipping via USPS.