Friday, April 20, 2012

My Favorite Online Business Tools

Happy Friday, everyone!

This week, I want to talk about some online tools that have helped me define my work and my purpose when it comes to making jewelry. My credo is that this should be simple, fun and effective to do!

When I started seriously making jewelry in 2006, I started my online life with a blog hosted by Blogger. I would upload the projects I was working on, and developed a great community of online friends via this medium. Everything was rocking right along, until I developed a passion for website development and design. Then I went crazy bones over trying every platform out there...Typepad, Wordpress, back to Blogger, back to Typepad, then I settled on buying my own domain and self-hosting with Premium themes built on the free Wordpress platform.

But that wasn't enough...I eventually bought some web design software, along with Photoshop and went to town learning about photo editing software and design principles and immersed myself into graphic design for a while.

Like with my jewelry practice, once I had experienced one design, I was ready to move on to the next one.

This is a terrible way to build a brand!

So...I opted out of any website presence for a while and got quiet about what I really wanted to achieve with my hobby turned business. A couple of years ago,  I took a walk in the woods while staying in Arkansas and heard the words, Soul to Substance, whispered to me by my muse. what do I do with that? I kicked it around for a long time. I knew that I wanted to incorporate spiritual purpose and inspiration to my passions of writing, creating jewelry, photography and being in this world. I wanted to use my work as my platform. But how in the world do I actually convey this desire and link it to my jewelry?

I had to wait for awhile for it all to click, and just be present and dig deeper within myself and really acknowledge what I felt my purpose was.

As I renewed my commitment to myself and to making jewelry, I came back online in a serious way. I decided to start again with a premium Wordpress theme, but it still just wasn't working for me. I was having to spend more time trying to keep up with SEO plug-ins, feature boxes, blah, blah, blah. It was getting to be too much work. I had a website that I was beginning to like, but it still wasn't what I wanted. I like clean, crisp and to-the-point. But I wanted a passionate color too...all the templates out there were either this, or that, and nothing really appealed to me.

And after spending all of that time immersed in website stuff, I just couldn't pay someone else to do it. I needed a solution that was easy, required no learning curve and not expensive!

Then last weekend, I found Weebly.   I found a place where I could design, with incredible ease, the website and online look that I have been striving for. It is so EASY! It is so FUN! And I can run the website from any computer too.

Another big plus is that it has an extremely easy way to run my own shop with its fully functional and customizable e-commerce feature. I currently have my jewelry on Big Cartel. But I am at that point in my own journey where I want to run my shop directly off of my own site.

Weebly will allow me to do that easily. I like to use Paypal, and if you have a business account with them, you can easily set up your shipping preferences and even take international orders too. Weebly's e-commerce feature automatically links up your products to either Paypal or Google Checkout. You decide how you want to go. So, next week I will be making that transition.

Another website that is really helping with my online presence is Mailchimp.  I wanted to write a monthly newsletter for my subscribers. Building a permission based email list is important to do as you grow your business. With email, you can be a little more intimate with your readers, and you can offer them goodies and give them any important announcements first.  I will be writing my 3rd newsletter in a few days, and so far, I have been getting a great response. I give away a piece of my jewelry to a subscriber monthly as a thank you for allowing me, my work and my message into their lives.

Saving the best for last, Danielle LaPorte just released her Fire Starter Sessions in book form on Wednesday. I love, love, LOVE Danielle, and just received my book from Amazon yesterday. Online tools aren't just websites, blogs, shops and newsletters...the internet is rich with personal growth people that are doing what they were born to do, and that is helping you jumpstart your own journey into living an incredible life, whatever that happens to look like.

I think all of us that have a passion for handmade, whether it is jewelry, painting, crafting...we are all looking for a tangible way to birth our ideas, thoughts and feelings out into the world. The internet is the most efficient and creative way to do it.

These are some of the ways I am incorporating to Make IT Happen!


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks for all of the information, Stacie. I found myself so absorbed in learning more about websites, blogs, etc. that I was neglecting the other side of the business which is actually creating the product. It's a balancing act. With Bill retiring, he is now working on the balance between continuing his blog, listing on Etsy, posting pics on Tea Chat (a group he gets lots of business from), creating, shows, etc. He is going to try to mostly sell online, so I am hoping he will find a balance.

stacilouise said...

It was great to read about your journey! GREAT ADIVE too! I too use weebly and have reccomended it over and over. I (unlike you) know nothing about web building), and I found it so easy to use, and yet its so high end. I have hidden pages, slideshows, fancy stuff;)

now if I can only figure out how to use adobe photoshop elements. LOL!

Kathy Van Kleeck said...

Wow - Wonderful post!

Thanks so much ... it totally mirrors my own circuitous on-line journey, the desire to put soul inspired work out to the world, the craziness of trying different platforms and tools and conflicting advice from all the 'in the know' types out there. I'm also right in the middle of a massive re-evaluation with a equal desire to rebuild and expand my brand and web presence.

I got my FireStarter book on Tuesday as well and even did a Fire Starter session with Danielle 3 years ago (which I need to listen to again). So far I'm really loving the book. Tons of essential wisdom to absorb.

Thanks for sharing your journey and links. It's generally overwhelming trying to sift through the myriad options out there and find one that fits my own needs and aesthetic. I've been contemplating , but the templates seem very limiting. I'll definitely look into Weebly.

Looking forward to your new web presence. l i g a - kvk

Izzy said...

Oh Stacie, I could give you a great big hug for this information. I think my muse has taken a vacation for a while and refuses to come back until I've revamped some items on the "business" agenda. I've been avoiding it because I simply haven't wanted to do the research. Then you post this. I'm inspired, encouraged and ready to move things along. I miss my muse and hope she'll return when she gets word that you've helped me out with a few things... =)

Julie Holmes said...

Stacie, such a great and informative post! I have stumbled around on the internet for years wondering what am I doing here! My 84 year old mother started a beginning computer class two weeks ago and was having trouble in class yesterday getting fonts to change color. Isn't it amazing how much there is to learn? As someone who grew up before there WAS an internet, I must say you youngsters constantly amaze me! Thanks for this great information, I will be studying!

mairedodd said...

thank you stacie, for sharing your knowledge and danielle laporte - just ordered the book... meanwhile - i think i may just take a peek at weebly...

Stacie Florer said...

Hey, I am so glad you all found these ideas helpful...My online stuff is usually a work in progress..but with weebly and mailchimp...things are looking up!!!

Casey Poehl said...

Using blogs for your online business is a great way to create visibility and connections with your customers. There are lots of businesses that are using blogs and social media to reach out to their market. At the same time, you can also earn a few bucks through PPC! :)


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