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LeeU    330

Well, it seems I have a new PT job: learning how to put together my own web site, plus the associated links, buttons, tools, text, etc. etc. that goes with "marketing" via certain selected social media portals. I am learning SEO terminology, copyright law, best practices for e-mail, privacy/security measures, table top product photography, color theory, eye tracking in an "F" pattern), recommended point sizes for text, the use of <H> to leverage which crumbs the spiders might pick up while trolling for Google ranking factors, time-intensive review of a comprehensive array of resources...I could go on...and on...and on. It's a lot of freakin' work!  

 

The good news is I find the process and the control of it exciting and satisfying. It suits my nature and I am good at making detailed trackers so I have truly useful running to do lists, spreadsheets for inventory and finances, and I am not buying any software assists. My store is on my site, so I am not using anything like Etsy or Shopify.

 

The bad news is I have limited real-life website development experience and rely solely on resources such as community forums, webinars, free small business  advisers, savvy friends, and support techs to progress. 

 

SO..............since y'all are part of such a large and expert group of artists, many with robust online presence, I have a few questions:

 

(1) what are a few UNCOMMON (not likely to be readily known from the standard instructions/tips that are out there) things you wish you had known before building your own web site ;

 

(2) what are a few things you did or learned that really HELPED you when building your site, and;

 

(3) what are some CRUCIAL tips from your experience with linking your web site to social media outlets? 

 

Also, if you spent any MONEY that you either really regret or are very happy you did, describe that. (I am happy I bought a camera and a simple table top photo set up and stopped trying to gerryrig the whole process of making decent images.)

 

 

THANKS in advance. post-63409-0-92622300-1488340111_thumb.jpg

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I did mine using Go daddy web builder.

I thought it was easy compared to other ones I have tried. I built a site way back using html commands.

Marcia

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GEP    863

(3) what are some CRUCIAL tips from your experience with linking your web site to social media outlets? 

 

Also, if you spent any MONEY that you either really regret or are very happy you did, describe that. (I am happy I bought a camera and a simple table top photo set up and stopped trying to gerryrig the whole process of making decent images.)

 

 

I am still somewhat new to using Instagram, but I have been using a Facebook page for my business for years. I find that Facebook is incredibly effective for driving visits to my website, because I can include a link within my facebook post. I can post "I just finished a new blog post," and readers come running. Instagram is not good at that, because links are not allowed within a post. So far I haven't found any good integration between Instagram and my website (which is ok, Instagram is fun for other reasons). When I had my online sale in December, I did go through the (cumbersome) process of changing the link in my profile to my online store's url. No idea if that generated traffic or not. Seems like too many steps for me and a potential customer.

 

I pay for my domain names and email addresses, and I use Weebly's free services for everything else. Yes, there are some features of not-free Weebly that I think would be nice to have, but I can't bring myself to pay for it. I don't consider the website to be my actual business, it's just a support element of my actual business. So if my business was based on online sales, then I would consider paying for better features.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I use my website as a teaching tool. It has about 20 pages. There are links. I am happy with the results and I get over 3000 hits/month.

 

Marcia

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Chris Campbell    1,088

The best money I spent was on Sandvox, a Mac website building tool. $80

If you can cut, paste and click you can build and publish an awesome site with all kinds of options in hours, not weeks.

Editing is as easy as using Word. Drag and drop images. Lots of template choices.

Not a freebie, but very friendly!

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Because different age demographics tend to hang out on different social media platforms, Instagram only works as a sales funnel if your demographic is currently looking for pottery with feathers or arrows on it, is made of a speckly clay with a white glaze over it, or has a handle that looks really good in pictures but may or may not function well IRL. Bonus points for gold lustre use. Please note, I'm not disparaging anyone's work (I like white glazes and lustre too), it's just that style of work is what appeals to the current crop of 25-35 year olds, who are the age group of non-clay people that hangs out on Instagram. Professional marketers generally use this social media platform to flesh out a brand story, and maintain contact with their customer base in a fun, informal way.

 

In the instance that you don't make this kind of work, Instagram offered many, many excellent clay community benefits to be had from that platform of your work doesn't fit that very specific genre. Do participate, it's a lot of fun. The platform appeals to a lot of artists purely for recreational and community buIdling purposes for good reason.

 

I've heard from a number of other creative entrepreneurs of my acquaintance that they still find Facebook to be their best sales funnel, despite it being a pay-to-play game. Apparantly the ROI on a 1week campaign can be quite good if it's executed properly, and it's relatively inexpensive to test out. I have not yet forayed heavily into Facebook, and haven't put any money into it yet. I can say that the people who interact with me on Instagram are mostly other artists of one kind or another, and the tiny following I have on Facebook are the people who are actually more likely to purchase my work. They're slightly older, and tend to have more disposable income, and tend to get their info about where I'm going to be next from either my website or my list of events on FB.

 

Now, I love being on Instagram, and it has taught me a great deal about a certain style of photography, and I have met a lot of amazing people and had a lot of amazing opportunities through it. But if I knew then what I know now, I'd have focused more energy into figuring out FB sooner. I think it's something I have to remedy if I want to give my business an online boost.

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Oh, and money well spent was on a workshop specifically about how to compose a good shot for Instagram, using your smartphone, and being able to edit those photos on some good, free photo editing apps. (I favour Snapseed, but others like VSCO, or A Colour Story) That was held here in my city, but I think I've seen a few similar ideas on CreativeLive. Or check with your local camera store, if you have one. They'll probably have a line on someone in your area.

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Chilly    331

 

(1) what are a few UNCOMMON (not likely to be readily known from the standard instructions/tips that are out there) things you wish you had known before building your own web site ;

 

(2) what are a few things you did or learned that really HELPED you when building your site, and;

 

 

 

(1)  Ask everyone you know, what words they would use if searching for your product, then use those words on your website.  I'm a Cycling Instructor, and never use the word "kid", so it wasn't on my webpages.  

 

When I asked the question, lots replied with that word, so I added it to the pages, and every other similar word, slang or otherwise that I could think of.  

 

Now my site comes out quite high on Google.  If you ignore all the motorbike courses, that is.

 

 

(2)  I got a 30 day trial copy of Dreamweaver and used that to build my site. I maintain the site by opening the html files in Notepad and modifying words every month, to keep Google and the spiders (on Mars) on their toes.  

 

I pay for the website and e-mail addresses.  When I see other businesses using @hotmail I wonder how professional they are.

 

 

 

Keep your site clean and tidy, not too many pictures, make sure it opens quickly - click away time is 3 seconds - and is clear.  Proof-read it late at night when you are tired and have had a bad day/glass of wine.  If it winds you up, it will wind your prospective customers.

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RonSa    189

  When I see other businesses using @hotmail I wonder how professional they are.

 

 

+1

 

That goes for @gmail.com too.

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docweathers    79

One cheap, effective and essential tool for SEO is scrapebox.

You can get it at www.scrapebox.com.

 

SEO is a huge amount of work, but essential if you're going to make this thing pay either on your own website, Facebook or elsewhere.

If you want to go with your own website either WordPress or Joomla! are the best choices. They are free, have an immense number of add-ins and work well.

WordPress is more SEO friendly

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LeeU    330

Gotta disagree about gmail...I use it because it is simple, familiar, recognizable, has decent settngs, is free, and is associated with google/chrome, which is a plus, in my view. I don't think that a paid e-address is somehow more "professional". At base, all any of them do is send/receive mail.

 

I also hold the value that the more free resources there are on the Internet the better off we all are; I support what bit of equity and fair access open source and free products provide for individuals, communities, and the general culture. 

 

I got my new cards today-love 'em. And appreciate Vista Print-very affordable. Yep, got my gmail address right on them LOL

 

post-63409-0-95135900-1488598137_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-43492200-1488598150_thumb.jpg

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RonSa    189

But consider this Lee@leeuceramics.com.  Now doesn't that look nice?  With only that email address anyone can also find your website and know your name.

 

Since you have hosting from google you already have that capability at no additional cost. Its even powered by the same people as gmail!

 

Any way, good luck with your business. I wish you the best.

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GEP    863

Of all the free email services, I've always thought that the names "yahoo" and "hotmail" were aimed at teens and college students. And that "gmail" was the first one that was meant for grownups. I don't have any problem with businesses using a gmail address, as long as the username sounds professional (such as leeuceramics). I feel a little jealous at the simplicity, and that it's free. I only look askance at those who are trying to run a serious business with a username like "cutecats4ever@gmail.com."

 

I am a long-time Apple product devotee, and used Apple Mail for most of my adult life. But I switched to using gmail as my email client two years ago, and now must admit that gmail is a far more functional product. I wish I had adopted gmail earlier, when I still could have claimed "mearhee" and "goodelephant" usernames. I missed out. Anyways, I think I made a tactical error by using my goodelephant.com email address so much. It has now become my main personal email address as well. Most of my friends are potters, or people I met through pottery, therefore this is the address they know. The problem is that someday I plan to retire this business, and would love to stop paying for the domain name and email addresses. The transition is going to be a little messy.

 

I guess when I was 30 I wasn't thinking about retirement, or even if my business would make it this far. Now I'm 46 and thinking about the future. If I had to do it again, I would have adopted gmail early enough to claim "mearhee" and "goodelephant" gmail addresses, and used those instead. Then there would be no need to transition anything when I retire.

 

These thoughts might not apply to business practices IN GENERAL. But in terms of a tiny business like a pottery studio, the phrase "what's in a name?" applies. Your business will seem professional because of you, not your domain-name email address. Everything we do is on a personal level. I've said this many times in other contexts. A tiny business has different needs from businesses in general. Free and simple is always a good choice.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Just edited my website and added a lot of photos on my Bio page.

 

http://www.marciaselsorstudio.com/about-marcia-bio--exhibitions--publications.html

 

I felt the need after meeting several of the young people at the Red Lodge Clay Studio and being treated like a little old lady. Not that I mind when they carry a box or a couple of bags to my van. I have been testing clay bodies for this upcoming wood firing.

 

Marcia

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

The best money I spent was on Sandvox, a Mac website building tool. $80

If you can cut, paste and click you can build and publish an awesome site with all kinds of options in hours, not weeks.

Editing is as easy as using Word. Drag and drop images. Lots of template choices.

Not a freebie, but very friendly!

Chris,

on your advice I bought Sandbox. My brain must be very right brained. I could not get it.Did not get anywhere with it. I know some people like yourself love it. I guess its just the way our brains are wired.

Marcia

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LeeU    330

Maybe I will revist the email address thing.

 

Next question...any important tips about setting up a manual (Excel--not a purchased program) inventory tracker?

 

What I have come up with is a sequence across the sheet that captures: Item Number; Type Code (i.e. CA for catchall; ICH for incense cone holder etc.); Size (specific measure ments or S-M-L for ranges, such as under 4" is Small); Body; Glaze dominant; Treatment (incised/stamped/embellished); Sold.

 

I have separate sheets for financials and firing notes. Is this sufficient?I don't have a lot of quantity nor many duplicated items. 

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oldlady    1,323

why not just use photos?  put a price in front of the item and take a picture, gives you a visual and a place to show sold or not.

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Joseph F    867

Just to make sure this is known, you can use google mail as your provider and still have @yourdomainname.com. This used to be a free service from google, but now I believe it starts at 5 dollars a month. : https://gsuite.google.com/intl/en_us/

 

Just for those who are interested.

 

I personally use josephfireborn at gmail.com just because I have prefer to keep things as simple as possible. Like Mea said, as long as your email isn't some crazy name or something I don't think the part after @ matters as long as its professional. Potter6969@bingo.com probably isn't going to do you any favors on that business card.

 

As far as the inventory stuff goes, keep it as simple as possible until it doesn't work, then add to what ever you need. Over complicating things is the number one reason why businesses never get started or fail quickly. 

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Chilly    331

 

Next question...any important tips about setting up a manual (Excel--not a purchased program) inventory tracker?

 

What I have come up with is a sequence across the sheet that captures: Item Number; Type Code (i.e. CA for catchall; ICH for incense cone holder etc.); Size (specific measure ments or S-M-L for ranges, such as under 4" is Small); Body; Glaze dominant; Treatment (incised/stamped/embellished); Sold.

 

I have separate sheets for financials and firing notes. Is this sufficient?I don't have a lot of quantity nor many duplicated items. 

 

Make sure you make full use of features like freeze so your headings stay in place when scrolling, and filters if you want to only see certain items.  Double-check after any "sort" to ensure all rows stayed together.  Angle headings to keep column widths as narrow as the content, to see as many columns in one screen width.

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RonSa    189

Maybe I will revist the email address thing.

 

Next question...any important tips about setting up a manual (Excel--not a purchased program) inventory tracker?

 

What I have come up with is a sequence across the sheet that captures: Item Number; Type Code (i.e. CA for catchall; ICH for incense cone holder etc.); Size (specific measure ments or S-M-L for ranges, such as under 4" is Small); Body; Glaze dominant; Treatment (incised/stamped/embellished); Sold.

 

I have separate sheets for financials and firing notes. Is this sufficient?I don't have a lot of quantity nor many duplicated items. 

 

Since you are working in Excel its easy to add or delete a column, so start with what you have and change as needed.

 

If I had to suggest an additions

A column showing which cone the item was fired (maybe link to a page or sheet that lists your standard firing sequences)

Note:  (a good catch all)

Price:

 

Just to make sure this is known, you can use google mail as your provider and still have @yourdomainname.com. This used to be a free service from google, but now I believe it starts at 5 dollars a month. : https://gsuite.google.com/intl/en_us/

 

I beveilve you can forward up to 100 email address to your gmail account at no cost

 

Email forwarding

 

Create up to 100 email aliases with your domain, such as help@your_company or sales@your_company, and have them forwarded to existing email accounts, like you@gmail.com. For help with this process, please see Email Forwarding.

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LeeU    330

WIX gave me a deal at $25 for 12 months for lee@leeuceramics.com, (same features as Google, which is what it's through anyway). So I did it. I'll lose a bit on the cards I got for the gmail acct., but at least I did not put any out there yet!  

 

Thx Chilly--the "angle type" is a great tip. I have a friend who is going to tweak my Excel to maximize it for my needs. What a blessing--so many people helping me and cheering me on! Lady...I am using the Excel for an inventory tracker, so I need to log those details. Ron-thx-I  will add the cone#. Plus I will have reference photos of each piece.

 

This is actually fun (doing the web stuff and inching closer to launching a hobby business. It is taking much longer than I had hoped, as far as taking pics (1-3 views, no less) of every piece and then the whole "store" has to be set up & the photos uploaded...another friend is going to do the initial batch for me. I have to bring 3 huge bags of "stuff" to my favorite charity in order to make the (former!) dining room functual to have the photo set up on a table in there. .

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Chris Campbell    1,088

Your target buyer for pottery is likely a woman, 35 - 45 years old.

What lures that person in and what does that person care about the most?

 

I doubt she cares that much about you having a gmail account since she likely has one too.

I would bet she cares about what the pottery says about her, if it gives her a good feeling about herself.

She cares about price point but not to the exclusion of taste or style ... look what she pays for coffee!

 

I think she wants to buy it easily and enjoy the experience.

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Polydeuces    1

Hey there, long-time lurker here that just made an account. I've got experience building a few websites (not pottery related) and I've tried a few different things (different wordpress themes & platforms) and if you're getting into it for the first time, here are a couple things I would share with you.

 

Wordpress is great in that it is very flexible and there are thousands of themes you can choose from (check out www.themeforest.net). Wordpress itself is free & open source if you have it hosted using GoDaddy or Bluehost or some other hosting provider, though you likely will have to purchase a theme to get a look you want. That's all well and fine, but the most challenging thing about wordpress is learning some of the coding basics to get around, and it can be difficult to change things around unless you really know what you're doing. 

 

I've actually been porting my existing website and redesigning using SquareSpace. In relativity to Wordpress, there is a somewhat "limited" selection of layouts, but they are far easier to customize. The builder itself is drag-and-drop, "What you see is what you get," style builder. The site comes out looking clean and automatically adjusts to whatever device it's being viewed on (PC, tablet, phone). They have a business package that doesn't seem too expensive for what they offer: inventory & invoicing, professional email, so on and so forth, which can be really awesome depending on your needs & desires. The whole thing is VERY easy to use, and if you have any trouble their website is packed full of how-to videos -- they even run a free weekly webinar on Wednesdays to help people get the ground running.

 

I would say if you've never designed a site before, look into SquareSpace. Their software is great, the system is really tight and the platform is very worry-free. Price-wise, I would say it's pretty comparable to any other web-hosting service. Wordpress can get insanely expensive pretty quickly, depending on your aesthetic. Many attractive site features & options come in the form of plug-ins, which are like tiny bits of code that you upload to your website -- things like image carousels, fancy contact forms, and so on -- many of these require a purchase or even a subscription to maintain! SquareSpace gives you pretty much all of that in the package. The basic is like $8, and I think the business is like $12 or $16 when you pay up front for the year. 

 

Best of luck!

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LeeU    330

Thanks all--my first two self-designed sites were via Weebly and GoDaddy web builders. Now I am using WIX's and so far, am the happiest. Just never got into Wordpress or Square Space, though most comments about them are very positive. 

 

A friend worked wth me to kick-start my product ID and inventory system. I have many trays of "smalls" as in the pic, and have devised a coding system for 12 discreet categories and 25 subcategories (the other pic is 3 incense holders (type) cone (sub) as ID'd on the back. On my Excel, I add the number of the piece, and the detail notes, measurments etc. and use the product code as the base file name for the photos. I have 1 tray done---15 to go! 

 

post-63409-0-69765400-1489954576_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-51073800-1489954733_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-69765400-1489954576_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-51073800-1489954733_thumb.jpg

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Roberta12    135

Lee, that is very organized!!!!!   Nice job!  Will that be manageable at a show or sale?  That is always the problem I have, things happen so quickly at a sale that I don't know how I would keep track of individual items.  Usually I have a list, 20 dinner plates,  20 salad plates, 40 mugs.....and so on.  But if you are running it through your square reader or whatever, then maybe you would know??

 

Roberta

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