This Week I … Entered Manchester Stationery Show’s ‘Launchpad’ Competition

Stationery Matters Magazine

 

A couple of weeks back, quite by chance, I spotted an opportunity.

I was flicking through the Spring/Summer edition of Stationery Matters, (as you do), when my eyes connected with an editorial piece featuring Manchester Stationery Show's ‘LaunchPad’ competition.

I duly downloaded the entry form, which said:

"Welcome to our entry form for the Manchester Stationery Show's ‘LaunchPad’ competition.

This is a product/service design competition open to new stationery suppliers looking to break into the booming design-led stationery market.

The competition aims to find 6 winners to showcase at the Manchester Stationery Show, which runs on 31 October and 1 November at the Victoria Warehouse in Old Trafford, Manchester.

The Manchester Stationery Show is specialist trade show, offering a fantastic range of writing and paper products which attract the UK’s biggest retailers and most influential buyers and brands in the sector.  The show is creating a specific display area in the show for the LaunchPad competition winners to present their ideas to visitors.

The competition will be judged by three leading names from the stationery sector in early September.  Their task will be to find 6 products or services they think are of true interest to the stationery industry and their huge number of stationery loving consumers.

The closing date for entries is: 8 September 2017"

Hmm. Over to the small matter of what to enter...

My VDUB BUDZ wedding stationery was the standout choice. So I had three pieces printed up by the lovely folk at Redcliffe Imaging, packaged them up along with their shiny silver envelopes and posted them off this morning. I may have attracted one of two sideways glances at the post office as I sent them on their merry way.

Doesn't everyone kiss their envelope for luck before posting? OK, well maybe a snog is pushing it - we'll see!

This Week I … Wised Up to Etsy SEO!

Pop Art Pix

Think you know your way around SEO?

Having helped dozens of companies get onto Google's coveted first page for their preferred keywords, so did I.

But you know what? Selling products on Etsy, Shopify, Amazon - even from your own website - is a whole different ball game!

This week's Etsy educational kicked off with a webinar from leading Etsy entrepreneur, Renae Christine, and Renae's content uncovered some real gems. Wisdom like:

Common Newbie Mistakes:

1. If I have traffic, I’ll have sales.
2. Top of Etsy Search Results = Traffic = Sales.
3. If I put up a lot of products and add a lot of choices, it will equal sales.

Renae then goes on to outline the "7 Crucial steps that produce actual results for your Etsy shop."

And here's the real game-changer: 'Second Search.'

If you've never really considered your customers' search habits, then this will be something of a revelation to you, as indeed, it was to me. Without giving away all Renae's secrets, (you'll have to watch the video for that!) basically, your buyers are likely to conduct not one, but two searches for every potential online purchase.

As someone who is trying to wean herself off webinars, (too darn time-sapping), I have to say that, as an Etsy newbie, I learned so much from Renae's video training. It was definitely worth the time invested to view and implement her teachings.

This week I also began working with "Small Business Online Strategist", Alison Wood. Ali is helping me expand my Pop Art Pix brand by attracting more 'Likes', 'Shares', 'Follows' and sales.

But I guess the real lesson here, as with every online and bricks 'n' mortar store, is that we as business owners cannot simply sit back and wait for our customers to find us. We need to be proactive and go out and find them!

So, if you're ready to get crafty with SEO and ramp up your shop's overall marketing strategy, then check out Renae Christine's video here. (Refreshingly, there's nothing to buy and I'm not an affiliate or anything like that!)

This Week I … Made My First Sales On Etsy!

VDUB_BUDZ_JUST_MARRIED_F_F

It's positively ORGASMIC!

Okay, well not quite orgasmic, steady on now ... but pretty darned thrilling nonetheless ...

I made my first Etsy shop sales this week and I am genuinely so chuffed that my very first customer purchased a 'Lesbian Wedding Card'' chosen from my VDUB BUDZ brand of greetings cards and gifts.

Why are you so-o-o ecstatic about selling a Lesbian Wedding Card? I hear you ask. (Humour me, okay?)

Well now, (so glad you're playing along), I just happened to pitch the concept of lesbian and gay greetings cards to several companies, (including WH Smith), a mere 21 years' ago, with ZERO takers.

Of course, we're talking a fair few years before same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK, but still I felt there was a potential market for dedicated girlfriend/ girlfriend; boyfriend/ boyfriend, greetings cards and gift ranges.

So why the heck didn't you corner the market back then and bank a shedload of cash? 

Fair point.

The obvious answer: because the DIY technology wasn't there. The likes of Moonpig, Funky Pigeon et al, means that anyone and everyone can get their card and gift designs 'out there' and test the market for a just few pennies.

These days, with the boom in online selling, there really is no limit as to what can be achieved in running an Internet-based business - it's simply brilliant!

If your goal is to become a published author, then Amazon is the place to be seen. It's free to publish your works on Amazon's Kindle and Createspace platforms - the latter empowers you to make hard copies of your latest tome available for sale too!

Do you hanker after your own online shop? Consider the likes of WooCommerce, EKM, Shopify and Etsy. (Note to self: include shameless plug for Etsy store ). And if you're sourcing and shipping physical products, then Amazon's FBA, (Fulfillment By Amazon), programme, must be a major contender.

Fancy your own radio show? Podcasts are all the rage just now. What's more, as a podcaster you have a distinct advantage over your video-producing chums, in that your listeners can enjoy your broadcasts in the car, at the gym and all manner of places where viewing video is out of the question.

That said, if you have designs on launching your own TV channel then it's never been easier to produce and host your own shows using inexpensive software and equipment.

In today's burgeoning eCommerce environment, creating and implementing are surely the easiest aspects of any entrepreneurial endeavour.

It's the marketing of your online product or service wot's taxing!

This Week I … Gave Up the Vino!

Aliens

 

Wot, no VINO?

I know what you’re thinking.

  1. The real Jan Jordyn has been abducted by aliens and has returned in the body of a teetotaller.
  2. It can’t be April Fools’ Day again already.

Or if you’re John McEnroe reading this, (unlikely):

3. You cannot be serious!

So let me explain.

At 2:20 am last Sunday morning, I awoke with a start; the whole of the right side of my face throbbing like mad. The raging jaw-ache continued all day with virtually no respite. Nothing would shift the pain, not even the normally ultra-dependable co-codamol.

As luck would have it, my other half just happened to have a pending check-up appointment at our local village dentist bright and early on Monday morning and gallantly insisted I took her place. (Every cloud and all that …)

I’ll spare you the gory details, save to say that I had an abscess. It was B-A-D. My trusty dentist reckoned we’d caught it just in time and pledged she would do her utmost to save the infected tooth. So she duly drained rogue tooth, cleaned it and filled it with antiseptic gel.

As she scribbled my prescription for Metronidazole, she casually threw in: “No wine for a week, okay”. (It wasn’t a question).

What? No perky pinot grigio? No merry merlot? WHAT?

For good measure, she then added: “Nor for the next 48-hours after you finish the course”.

Are you having a larf, or wot?

She wasn’t. Clearly.

My lovely dentist then went on to explain in no uncertain terms, that should I ingest a single droplet of alcohol during my course of antibiotics, the upshot would be that I would be left feeling proper rubbish.  (Actually, she used the term, “pretty poorly” – I translated).

So that was that. My fate was sealed. At the time of writing this post, I’ve now enjoyed six wine-free days.  Did I just say “enjoyed”? I’ve even invested in some alcohol-free mouthwash to swish around my mouth whenever I clean my teeth, d’oh!

And do you know what? I haven’t missed Professore Pinot Grigio or Monsieur Merlot nearly as much as I thought I would have. Hardly at all in fact. For the record, I now have more energy, a greater spring in my step, better time management, and generally feeling sharper all round – at least I believe so. (Time will tell!)

Hey, if this behaviour keeps on much longer, even I will get around to thinking that the real Jan Jordyn must have been abducted by aliens!

This Week I… Joined Neil Asher’s Aussie Online Entrepreneurs’ Programme!

Amazon Australia

Image credit: RealCommercial.com.au

Following my New Year's vow to give up watching webinars, this week I viewed an amazing, ahem, webinar, from Derbyshire-born, Brisbane-based entrepreneur, Neil Asher, the founder of Roar Local.

The upshot is, that Amazon is expanding its burgeoning empire to a bunch of other territories, including down under in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong South. Neil reckons Amazon Australia is a great place for newbies to kickstart their own online sales empires with his low-risk, high reward strategies. 

Having viewed said webinar, I duly stumped up the single dollar it cost to test-drive Neil's Aussie Online Entrepreneur programme for a whole 30 days. Going forward I shall be using the 30-day trial period to evaluate whether Amazon's Dandanong warehouse might be a great fit for my greetings cards, gifts and books.

In which case, Amazon Australia, here I come!