A (Frantic) Facelift

mobile friendly site | the merriweather Council blog

Do you notice anything different about Le Blog? If you are a on phone you probably do! Yup, Merriweather Council Blog is now mobile friendly.

… which is nice and all of that but generally, I do not *love* mobile versions of websites. Now, I don’t know if you know this, but Google has started to penalize websites that are not mobile friendly in search results. And that was my main motivator. I want people to be able to find me, obviously, in Google.

The Merriweather Council Blog was responsive – the screen scaled down to fit your phone – but it was not ‘mobile friendly.’

So you know how I generally post on tuesdays? Well, I was taking care of fixing this blog up so it would be mobile friendly as per Google.

I wanted to share this info with you so that you would know that, no, you weren’t going crazy, the blog does actually look a tiny bit different, and also, so that you can check you site too.

Use this tool to test your URL for mobile compatibility. If your site doesn’t pass, check this list. If you are using a theme on your site, check for updates from the developer. If all else fails, find a web developer who you can work with or buy a new theme that comes with a mobile friendly preset.

Good luck out there.

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Notes from the Mothership

notes from the mothership | the merriweather council blog

I’ve spent the past three months brainstorming the bananas out of myself. There are notes of all variaties all over the place: Evernotes, Post-It notes, digital notes, email notes… you name it, I’ve used it in note form.

This year has seen the start of so many wonderful projects:

She Percolates, The Empowered Creatives and the reimagining of Merriweather Council LLC as a whole. And I’m right on track with my goals for retiring my necklaces, phasing out my hoop collection, and working on new embroidery projects – but my primary focus this year is empowering creatives to share their work with confidence.

You know where confidence comes from? Sure, yeah, it comes “from inside” but it doesn’t just show up one day and take a seat – it *becomes* – through knowing… knowing how, knowing where, knowing what and knowing who… Knowing the things you need to know, to move forward and create new reality for yourself, on your own terms.

I am so thankful for all of you who come here and read my thoughts and enjoy my posts. I have been LOVING doing this work of being a business bestie/ consultant/ cheerleader for so many awesome creatives. It’s a huge, huge deal for me to help others because I know what it’s like. I know that it’s keeping you up at night, your brain is full of ideas, you want so badly to make this work – and you feel crazy intimidated. I also know that you don’t have time to learn everything RIGHT NOW.  I get it.

Over the past five years of running this business on my own, I have learned SO much. But I totally still remember exactly how it felt to start out: What am I doing? I have to make this work. 

I’m about to invest some serious money in something and it’s scary but it’s going to be SO GOOD. And it’s for you!

I really can’t tell you much more right now – I know, so annoying. I’m getting my ducks in a row and pulling all my notes together – but ducks and notes are hard to wrangle – and I’ll have more details soon.

I’m REALLY excited.

If this has peaked your interest, you might be an Empowered Creative. And you should probably join us now so you don’t miss anything. *wink*

 

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Handmade Sellers: 6 Reasons You Need to Start Charging What You’re Worth Now

charge your worth

Did you read my post last week about pricing and value in handmade? Please do! I have some further thoughts I would like to share with you today as a follow up:

People ask me a lot, “how do I make more sales” — first of all, the questions should really be “how do I make more profit?” The number of sales you make barely matters… you could sell ten for $1 or 1 for $10. Same thing by the time it hits your bank account.

Maybe you’ve heard little silly things from family and friends like, “people won’t pay that much” or “you can’t charge that much for something like this.” Ignore, delete, trash bin all of that commentary.

We love our friends and family, but sometimes they just don’t get it.

You CAN and you SHOULD share the correct amount for your work. People WILL pay it.

Here’s the deal though: you can’t just go running over to your listings and double all your prices. High – or even, right prices mean nothing if your shop is a big fat mess. Visuals such as photos and graphics need to look professional. Your shop needs to look like you actually pop in there now and then. You need to present the work properly and cohesively to drive it home that it’s actually worth the price you are asking. No matter how well it’s made, or how beautiful it looks in real life, if that doesn’t translate to your website, those prices aren’t going to help you any, in fact that might even hurt you.

You need to charge what your work is actually worth. Okay? Please? Here’s why:

1. The rest of us are mad at you

Not really, but… kinda. Whenever I see someone selling something similar to what I sell for less than half the price, I know they are not making money. And that makes me mad because A- it’s usually an absurd price and B- it doesn’t really do the rest of the community any favors for you to be perpetuating the idea that crafts should be cheap because people have fun making them. Or whatever the case may be. It’s so far outside my realm of understanding, I don’t really even know…

2. High Volume Onslaught Fatigue

Oh, you didn’t consider that maybe someone would feature your piece somewhere and lots of folks would come and buy it all at once? And now you’re freaking out because you have as many open orders as you could possibly have and suddenly you feel very uneasy and irritated because you will spend the next three weeks working for $4 an hour? YIKES! #ThatMomentWhenYouSoldOutAndStillMadeNoMoney

3. You might actually be paying for sales

When you undercharge, you are basically paying to make sales.

Little example here:

It priced at $20

Takes you 2 hours to make

Material cost is $5

Between listing fee, Etsy commission and paypal fee, you made $13.22 profit.

This doesn’t include shipping or postage costs.

$13.22 divided by 2 hours of work is 6.61 per hour. That’s less than minimum wage in most places. ALSO this doesn’t account for the time you spent taking photos, writing descriptions, listing, editing, or shipping. It also doesn’t account for any material procurement costs – such as getting the in car to drive somewhere or even driving to the nearest post office. I don’t know about you but it usually takes me at least 15 minutes to go to the post office by the time I get to my car, drive there, drive home… So let’s just say it takes you an hour to do all these other things … 13.22 divided by 3 is 4.40. For the sake of driving this home even further, let’s say you’ve renewed this piece twice on Etsy, that’s another 40 cents off your bottom line. Let’s also imagine that you put it in one of those fancy bubble mailers – which you aren’t yet buying in bulk – and that was another $1, plus the trip to the store, etc etc… Excuse me I need to go pop my eye balls out of my face. DO YOU SEE?!! I would rather just skip Starbucks, i’d be at about the same point financially with 3 hours of my life back.

4. Just because you enjoy this work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get paid for it

Sure I love to sit around an embroider. But it’s not “for fun” – it’s work. I enjoy the process but I still have to do it even when I’m just not into it. Just because you “like” to do something doesn’t mean it should cost less. Don’t be like this: “ohhh, but it was fun” *knock off a few dollars*

5. In case you want to wholesale or send work on consignment

If you’re prices are too low, YOU will be the only one losing in this situation. You’re the one who will get a check for basically nothing when your piece that was way underpriced to begin with sells in a shop that takes a 40-50% commission. They might’ve done alright on the deal, but you definitely didn’t. And it’s gunna get real awkward up in here when you try to finagle a higher price *after* someone has shown interest in wholesale or consignment *facepalm*

6. If you want to actually like, be in business

If you aren’t making money – and actually, in fact, LOSING it – you are not in business. You are just entertaining and/ or infuriating the rest of us.

After a while you’ll get tired of spending the time you could’ve been spending with your family or friends working for pennies and get burnt out. And then you’ll realize. So why not just save yourself all that headache and take it from me? Please value yourself and your work – price it correctly, present it nicely, carry on and be well.

 

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Thoughts on Value and Pricing in Handmade

 

thoughts on pricing + value in handmade | the merriweather council blog

I had a draft of this post in WordPress from November, and I decided it’s actually still really relevant because people have strong opinions about pricing handmade.

As you know, I am currently running a special pricing offer on my embroidered initial necklaces as we lead up to their retirement on saturday! Since saturday is my 27th birthday, I have these pieces priced at $27.

Normally, the pieces are $38 and up. So this is a pretty steep discount especially if you ordered a longer chain necklace which could be as much as $46! Some folks would have me feeling bad about this, like I’m doing myself a disservice by lowering the price. I couldn’t disagree more.

Let me explain.

What originally prompted me to draft this post, was a thread I read in a Facebook group I am in. It was started about a week prior to Black Friday and the poster wanted to know who would be running a sale (the group is full of handmade artisans.)

Most folks replied and said things like “No, I can’t compete with Walmart pricing” or “I never have luck with sales” or “I don’t run sales because then I’ll lose money” or “People aren’t shopping online until monday” …

My reactions were as follows:

Okay, fair enough – people generally do shop at malls or store on black friday. 

I can see a person having a hard time running a sale, there are lots of ways to struggle with that.

For the record: Walmart is not a competitor of handmade goods. Your ideal customer isn’t going to compare your prices on handmade jewelry to the price of a necklace at Walmart and think “I’ll just buy the piece from Walmart.” If a person does that, they aren’t your person. There is no competition here.

Finally, then there were a few surprising comments:

“It’s unfair to the people who paid full price the rest of the year.”

My eyes about popped out of my head.

It’s unfair? Things go on sale all the time – I think most consumers realize this is a normal marketing practice for retail merchandise. Is it annoying to buy something and then three days later it’s on sale? Sure. But in the case of Black Friday, I think most consumers are aware there is a good possibility that the thing they buy on tuesday might be cheaper on friday, so really, that’s sort of a decision on the consumer’s end.

But it’s less about price and more about value and those aren’t the same.

From the consumer’s POV

It’s of value to me to buy the gift I need for my friend on the tuesday before Black Friday so that I don’t have to go out shopping with all the madness on Black Friday. It’s a trade off. I’m going to pay a bit more, but I won’t have to be in the store on Black Friday nor will I have to elbow someone out of my way to get the last one.

If the store i’m shopping is online, maybe the value for me is that i’ll have it before I need it – let’s say I have a party to go to on the tuesday before Black Friday, so I order the gift a week or two before that date to be sure I have it in time. Yes, I paid a bit more than the item might be on Black Friday, but I’ve got what I need, when I need it. That is valuable to me. I don’t consider this to be in any way “unfair” to me as a consumer. I see value in paying full price for any number of reasons – as I’ve stated above.

From the seller’s POV

When I price reduce an item, it’s because I want to sell it quickly or clear space in my studio or even my head. If I have things for more than a few months I begin to get antsy and want to clear them out. My prices are such that when I do price reduce them, I still make a profit. (This is important because obviously I don’t want to be essentially “paying” someone to buy something from me, because that’s very bad business.) The value to me as a seller is that I’ll make my money back and profit (less profit, but still, profit) and i’ll free up physical and mental space in my worklife. I cannot tell you how much I value that.

Another way to see value in reduced pricing as a seller is that I’ve now brought in funds to move forward. Money always comes and goes, that’s how it works. You need to spend some to make some, always! The money I make off sale items is more valuable to me than the items themselves at that point of sale. Now I can invest in a new project or tool. Follow me?

In the case of my necklaces being price reduced right now, I see immense value in selling a lot of these at a reduced price RIGHT NOW. I want to sell these NOW. Not in six months, not over time… NOW. It’s very valuable to me to clear out some supplies, make some money and move forward. I explained my reasons for retiring these pieces in this post a bit more fully if you are interested. I’m going to gain so much – in many forms, not just in the form of cash – from not making these pieces any more. So there is great value for me in selling them at a reduced price for a short period of time.

It’s not all about money. I’m going to gain space, and time to create new work. If you are an artist who sees no value in that, I’m sorry but I don’t understand.

Back to the consumer for a minute…

Does the consumer see a price reduction as a reduction of quality?

I don’t think so. The product is exactly the same as it was last week when it was full price. And people know that. This is the difference between pricing correctly to begin with and underpricing thinking that’s the best way to get things sold.

Underpricing communicates “cheap” or lesser quality. Sale pricing doesn’t.

Sellers shouldn’t be afraid of the occasional sale. (I don’t think you should run a sale every day of the year, but you can run a sale without fear of cheapening your entire brand, basically.) Sale pricing is temporary, incentive driven marketing: buy it now and save money — again, that’s VALUE to the consumer.

And you already know this but there is plenty of value as a consumer in paying MORE for something as well.

You’ll pay more for a wedding dress than you would for a bridesmaid dress. You’ll pay more for a souvenir at Disney World than you would pay to buy the same thing elsewhere. You know that. We associate objects with moments and memories, and we pay more for those because we value our experiences. How much did you pay for your wedding album? Or your baby’s first birthday outfit? Or your wedding rings? People are happy to pay more for things that represent the things they value most. Additionally, consider those little cheaper (or free!) things in your life that have a lot of value to you: chopsticks from the restaurant you went to on your first date with your husband, or the pair of socks your baby wore home from the hospital. Price and value are not one in the same.

When pricing your work, you should not simply run a formula and call it a day on whatever number pops out of the calculator. I like to think pricing as a whole picture sort of thing.

Is there room to grow in this price?

There should be, in most cases. If you are just starting out, leave some room to increase the price without it being totally insanely OVERpriced for what it is. If you get a major feature, you should increase the price. If your orders begin to come in at a pace you cannot keep up with, you should raise the price. If you do something to make your brand stronger – invest in graphics or a new site or better photographs, you should raise the price. Leave room for that

Is there something additionally special about this item?

Is it cusomizable? It should cost more than if it weren’t. Is it made of 100% organic materials and packaged in eco friendly cardboard mailers? It should cost more than if it weren’t. Why? because people value those things as well. (Does your ideal customer value those things?)

Are you the only one making it?

Are you on a whole new level? Is yours the absolutely best option available? That should be a factor.

Other considerations:

Is it limited quantity or exclusive in some way? Does it ship super fast? Has a celebrity worn it on TV? Did Justin Timberlake sneeze on it?

When pricing your work, think about the value this product has, and communicate that through your branding, copy and presentation.

Likewise, consider what you value for yourself and your lifestyle as well. Can you run a sale on this item and still make money? Are you happy to fill orders at this price, or miserable?

 

 

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