Thursday, July 29, 2010

Link Love Facebook Fan Pages

I'm going to try something a little different.    Let's post just Facebook fan pages and show some link love.  I created this with Etsy, Artfire, and indie business in mind but any small business or blogger is welcome.  Please retweet or post on your fan page.  The more we get to participate the more exposure we all get. 

For URL of blog post just put your Facebook Fan Page URL. When you click next it will give you the option to select available photos for the thumbnail.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pineapple Recipe Box Custom Order

I had so much fun with this box!  She picked this pineapple and it was a bit of a challenge to get it transfered but with some transfer tape it worked perfectly.  Normally I decorate the cards with bits of patterned paper but she picked all solid colors.  I was stumped!  I made a stencil using the pineapple and the wonderful laides on my SCAL yahoo group gave me the idea to use a stencil brush.  I love how it turned out!  It took a bit longer than I'd like but the customer loved the photo so it's worth it.  Her initials are on the inside of the recipe box lid.  It's completely custom and I hope she loves it as much in person.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Branding Your Small Business

Branding is an important part of your small business.  Branding is the personality of your business, if you will.  Branding is more than your logo and packaging, it's what your company stands for and what it has to offer to your current and potential customers.  If you don't define your brand, your competitors will and it won't be attractive.  Focus on two or three things that your company stands for and make sure your customers are aware of them.

Are you eco friendly?  Tell your customers you use recycled or upcycled materials.  Tell them how you reuse clean mailing materials for shipping. 

Organic and vegan is another popular branding technique right now.  Soap and bath products and also clothing companies are becoming more eco friendly by offer vegan products.  Their consumers are seeking vegan products and most will only purchase vegan products.  Let your customers know often that you offer only vegan products and nothing tested on animals. 

Many small business owners mistakingly think their logo is their branding.  It can be a very small part of your branding in that it gives a visual image to associate with what your company stands for.  I hope that when my customers see my cute owl they think of cute, trendy, and high quality handmade items.  The owl isn't my business, but the owl is part of the look of my business and products. 

Your brand also reflects the one or few things you are good at.  If you sewed clothes, made soap, sold jewelry supplies, and fine art paintings your customers won't have one thing to think of when they think about your shop.  I'm not saying don't have just one product, but if you have too wide of a variety your customers might get confused about your brand.

I'm by no means an expert.  I'm learning as I go and sharing some tips with my readers.  If you have more to add please leave a comment.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract Recipe

I love to bake, especially during Christmas.  I've always wanted to make my own vanilla extract.  Real vanilla is so expensive and, like anything else, I'm sure homemade is better.  Homemade vanilla extract also makes a great gift for just about anyone on your gift list.  It does take at least 8 weeks to make, so if you want make it for a gift you need to get started now.

I wish I had taken pics while I was making it tonight, but seriously it's so easy you don't need them.

Ingredients

2 cups of alcohol (rum, vodka, brandy)
6 vanilla beans

Cut vanilla bean almost to end with kitchen scissors or a knife.  Pour alcohol in glass container and put in vanilla beans.  Push them down so they are covered.  Store in a cool, dark place for at least 8 weeks.  Swirl it around every few days while it sets.

Tahiti grown vanilla bean

That's it!  How easy is that??  I used vodka because I had it and it's relatively cheap.  I've read on the 'net that rum or brandy give a different flavor, but I haven't tried it.

I paid $4 for 3 beans at Giant Eagle.  If you want really high quality beans you'll want to order them from the internet or go to a specialty store.  I've had good luck with Giant Eagle brand foods, and I wanted to get it started for my holiday baking.

I've also heard that after you use a little you can top it off with a little more alcohol and throw in a new bean every so often when the color starts to fade.  If you do it this way it will make the next batch so much cheaper than the first.  

If you've made it before please post your results!
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New Recipe Boxes

I'm happy that my recipe boxes are selling well because I do enjoy making them.  I've gotten to play with some color combinations I normally wouldn't use in my personal scrapping.  Every time I've tried something new I've loved the outcome.  I've made some great boxes with some great ideas from customers.  I'm working on a really cool pineapple recipe box right now.  I'm excited to see it done. 

I recently found a source for wooden boxes at wholesale.  I really likes the look of them better and I think my customers prefer the wooden boxes over the paper mache.  These seal so nicely and have a great finish.  All of my premade ready to ship recipe boxes are in my Etsy shop.  If you'd like a custom box please email me.  I know it's hotter than heck outside and it's crazy to think of holiday shopping, but last year I was shipping these boxes until December 21st.  Right now I take about a week to finish one.  In October I imagine that will be more like 2 weeks if I am even doing custom orders then.  If you want one for a gift order early.  I will most likely be increasing the price on them soon as well.
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