How to decide what to name your blog – part two

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Last week, we began the process of how to name your blog. As you may recall, there were three questions to answer that are designed to help point you in the direction of choosing your blog’s name.

These three questions were:

What do plan for your blog to be about?
Who do you want your target audience to be?
What type of voice is your blog going to have?

Now that you have thought about it and have better idea of what the purpose of your blog is, we can move toward actually deciding how to choose a name. Interestingly, just as there are three questions, there are also three ways to approach choosing a name.

First, you can use descriptive words. These words should hint or tell what your blog is about. As an example, if you are named Frank and sell fishing lures you might call it, “Frank’s Fish Talk.” You could then either discuss different types of lures (linking to the ones you sell in your store), or talk about fishing, which is a way to establish yourself as an expert.

The second approach to naming your blog is to actually create a brand name. As a seller, this means that you would want to name your blog the same name as your store. With a brand name, you could then either discuss the items you sell or your actual online business.

The third approach is to simply call it by your own full name. This helps to build you as a brand and makes your business more warm and personal.

Still undecided? Here, are some additional tips to help narrow it down.

1.Keep the name simple, easy to remember and easy to spell
2.Make the blog name appropriate to the blog’s topic
3.Make it convey what your blog is about to ensure that it is different from the competitions -this not only helps you stand out, but keeps you from getting into trouble for copying someone else’s brand name
4.Consider a play on words
5.Use humor or an alliteration to find a name

Finally, remember to think long term before naming your blog. While creating a blog name that is all about the items you sell is great if all you ever plan to do is sell that particular item, if you think that at some point you may want to branch out and sell or talk about something else, then you may want to consider other options that will let your blog posts grow and change the same way your online business does.

How to decide what to name your blog – part one

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If you sell online, you know the importance of having an online presence. You Tweet, post on Facebook, use SnapChat, and Instagram. You may think that if you’re doing all that, you don’t need a blog…but…not so fast.

Although using these faster types of social media have kind of pushed having a blog to the back burner, it should still be an important part of your marketing strategy. While Tweeting with the 140 characters is good for directing buyers to your items, blogging (if it is done right) helps you build your brand.

The problem for many people is that they don’t know what to name their blog. Even worse, they do know what to name their blog and have the absolute perfect name, but then they discover that someone came up with the exact same name a long, long time ago (and usually the blog is inactive, which just makes it worse) and now they are drawing a total blank.

Before you dive into the world of blogging and the first step of naming your blog, take a moment and decide what you actually want your blog to represent. Is it going to be primarily for posting the items you are selling? If so, you are probably fine making an extension of your online store name. If you are building your brand or want to go outside the box a bit, however, you may need to think it through a little more and come up with something else to call it.

So…how do you find a good name?

Well, here’s your homework for this week:

Ask yourself these questions:

What do plan for your blog to be about? Decide if you will blog about your items, selling in general, or maybe talking more about your niche. Maybe you don’t primarily want it to be about your online store, but want to build your personal brand instead.

Who do you want your target audience to be? You could decide that you want it to attract buyers or perhaps you want to indirectly draw people in by blogging about your niche, such as vintage clothing, toys, or records.

What type of voice is your blog going to have? Serious, funny, business-like? You will want the name of your blog to reflect the type of blog you want to have.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will have a better idea of what direction your blog name should go in. We’ll cover the process of actually how to choose a blog name next week!

How to safely remove price tags and other pesky stickers

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Whether it’s a yard sale find or an item from your favorite department store, one of the most annoying things to deal with when you find an item to sell is a price tag or other type of sticker. Yes, sometimes using your fingernail does the trick and in some cases, you can even just soak the item in soapy water, but did you know there’s often an easier way?

Get a Scotty Peeler

There is actually an item designed specifically for the purpose of removing price tags and stickers? I know, right!? The Scotty Peeler is all plastic and is designed to go up under the sticker and help peel it off. There’s also a metal version with a plastic handle that has metal razor-blade edges for extra hard to remove stickers. Known as the SP-2, it’s perfect for removing stickers from glass and metal.

Use a heat gun

The idea here is that when you heat the label the sticky part will soften and become much easier to remove. A heat gun looks a lot like a hair dryer (which some people also use successfully to remove stickers), but the heat is much hotter and more concentrated, so it’s important to make sure that you have it aimed at the sticker and not elsewhere. Take care to not burn yourself or the item, and be especially cautious when using it on something plastic because the item might actually warp or melt. Also, if there’s any possibility that it might burn the item, you’re better off trying the Scotty Peeler or looking for another way to remove it.

Try a Goo remover

Goo removers, such as Goo Be Gone and Goo Gone aren’t really all that great for unsticking the paper part of the price tag or sticker itself, but once you get the paper part of the tag or sticker off, Goo Be Gone (or other similar products) is the way to go. These products have kind of an oily substance and work great for removing sticky residue from glass, metal and other surfaces. In a pinch, you can also use lighter fluid, but regardless of which product you try, keep in mind that it can stain some surfaces so do a test in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t damage the item you’re trying to remove the price tag from. Works really well after you get the majority of the tag off with the Scotty Peeler.

Damp towel and a little elbow grease

Interestingly, sometimes you still have to resort to the basics when it comes to price tag and sticker removal. Wet the area as much as you can, then wait a minute or two. Use a damp towel to gently, but firmly rub the sticky area until it no longer remains. This method works especially well if you are able to soak the item in warm soapy water first.

What tricks do you have for removing price tags and stickers? Leave a comment below.

4 things to do before naming your online store

Cash register: "Welcome to our store"

You’ve brainstormed, agonized, brainstormed some more, and finally, finally, you have the perfect name for your online store. Before you make it official on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or another marketplace, however, there’s some things you need to do first.

Check the marketplace
Depending on where you are planning to sell, you will first need to see if the name is available. Almost all of the marketplaces are designed where you will type in the name you want for your store and it will let you know if that name is available. Don’t be surprised if the name is already taken. If it is, you will either need to choose another name or get a little more creative with the name you selected (we’ll discuss that in a moment).

If the name is available, you still need to do a few things before you make it as your final selection.

Google it
Google the name to see if any similar names come up. As mentioned, don’t be surprised if you find one, or two or even three names that are the same as the one you’ve selected. It is really hard to come up with a completely original name. If you do find the name has been taken by someone and is being used on another marketplace, it is not necessarily the end of the world, but you will have to do some additional legwork to ensure you can still use it.

Trademarks and the law
Some names and even some words are trademarked. This means that someone owns the name and using it could actually get you in legal trouble. As an example, even if you discovered that the name Nike was not on eBay, you could not use it because the name and brand is trademarked. In the United States, you can check to see if a name has been trademarked by checking the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you are outside of the US, you would check with your local trademark authority.

Here is where things can get interesting. If the name does not have a trademark and isn’t on the marketplace where you want to sell, you may be able use it, but you should still proceed with caution.

As an example, if the name is unusual such as Carol’s Candles and you and the other Carol both sell candles, Carol may become very unhappy to find out you are using her name even if it’s on another site. It could also become a source of confusion for Carol’s customer’s or even yours, so even though you can use it, you may not want to. In this case, slightly changing the name may help since it will distinguish between the two and help avoid this kind of confusion. For instance, you could use Carol’s Candle Creations and this could help to distinguish you from the other Carol.

Ask for Feedback
Once everything has checked out, it is still a good idea to run it by some other people to see if you are missing anything. You may find that you have inadvertently come up with a name that has a slang meaning or double entendre that could cause you embarrassment or be a real turnoff to buyers. Finally, ask people what they think a business with this type of name would sell or what kind of branding it would have. Just because the name is cute and people like it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate for your store.

How to get more stuff done with less stress

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Do you manage your time well?

If you’re like most online sellers who haven’t gotten their time management act together, you probably don’t. Such was the case of Sarah, an online seller who recently decided that she had to make some changes after realizing that her eBay and Amazon sales were suffering because she was overworked and burning out.

When Sarah first opened her eBay store, nearly six years ago, she was like most sellers and tried to not only do everything, but often tried to do it all at once. Sarah was constantly checking her emails in between photographing her items and listing, all while trying to handle shipping of her items that needed shipping. Since Sarah worked alone, she thought that it was necessary to put in all the hours she could and do as much of the work alone.

As you can imagine, her endless work schedule began to take a toll and Sarah constantly found herself losing track of time and prone to distractions. After three years of being a top seller, Sarah suddenly found herself not wanting to list new items anymore and would often find herself at the end of the day having accomplished very little.

When she accidentally sent the wrong item to one buyer and had to issue a refund to another because she couldn’t find the item they bought, Sarah realized it was time to do something different. After a conversation with another seller, Sarah decided to take some of the ideas they gave her and incorporate them into her online business.

Today, Sarah is not only a Top-Rated Seller on eBay, but also has a successful Amazon business as well. Below are some of the things Sarah does that she says makes all the difference.

Make a to-do list the night before

When preparing for the next workday, determine what three things you must complete. Once you know what your top tasks are for the day, it is easier to stay focused on them and not get side-tracked working on other less important things.

Create a daily routine

As your own boss, it may seem like a downer to have a strict daily routine. After all, freedom to do what they want and when they want is usually the reason most people want to work for themselves in the first place. Sarah says that by making it a goal to start work at 8 a.m. everyday, she is then able to resist the temptation to stay in bed longer or spend “thirty more minutes” on Facebook.

Track your time

You make think that since you spend all day in front of the computer, you are being productive, but once you start actually tracking your time, you will see where all your time is actually going. In Sarah’s case, she found that she was constantly updating her existing listings, but getting very few new items listed. Once she saw this is where a lot of her time was going, she was able to make listing new items a priority and soon began to see her sales move once again in a positive direction.

Do you have any productivity tips that have helped you become a better seller? Leave a comment below.

How to stop your store from having an identity crisis

Making the sale. That’s really why you opened your online store and became an online seller, right? If you’re like most sellers, you’ve tried to learn as much about marketing as you can, so that you can reach as many potential buyers as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of sellers try to use their marketing to be all things to all people and end up with their store having what you might call an “identity crisis.” In other words, they’re selling things but there is no clear definition of what their store is really all about.

Although a lot of a store’s identity crisis has to do with sellers not having a niche, it’s really a bit more than that. Your store should ultimately reflect the real you, but it’s often easy to lose your way and turn your store into something else. If your store is having an identity crisis, here’s some things you can do to help.

Define your reason for selling

Obviously, the number one reason to sell is to make money, but take it a step beyond that. Why are you driven to sell the items that you sell? Maybe it’s that you want to share your love of fashion or that you’re fond of old books and want to share your discoveries. Take the objective of making money out of your reason and look at what’s left. Once you know the answer to this, you can begin defining what the purpose of your store and what it’s identity is really all about.

Discover yourself within your store

Is the real you present in your marketing materials and your store’s message? As an example, if your sense of humor is a big part of who you really are, is it present in your store? If you love to make people laugh, but your store logo is something contemporary or elegant, your store is not reflecting the real you. In turn, your store’s identity most likely does not feel authentic and your listings can actually reflect this. If this is the case and you’re not selling as much as you’d like, it may be time to give your store a new look or even choose a new name that is more authentic with the real you.

Target your ideal buyer

Who is your ideal buyer? More often than not, it’s actually people who are just like you. They have a love for old things or they like the newest styles. Imagine that you are buying something from your store for yourself. What are the words you would use to describe the item you want to buy? Keep in mind, this isn’t about using the best keywords. This is taking your listing to an emotional level and finding clues as to why you would want to buy the item (if you weren’t selling it). Once you understand your reasons for liking the item, you can then use the clues you have discovered to help describe the item in your listing.

Does your store reflect your personality or is it having an identity crisis like so many others? Leave a comment below.

Why is my item not selling and what can I do about it?

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If you’re like most online sellers, you probably have at least one item in your store that you think should have sold by now, but just isn’t moving. If the item is out-of-season or was simply a fad, it may make sense why it’s still hanging around. If it’s a good quality item and actually a good value, however, then there are probably other reasons that your item isn’t selling.

Here’s some reasons your item isn’t moving on out the door and some things you can do to help get it sold.

You’re using the wrong keywords

Both eBay and Amazon have search engines that use sophisticated algorithms to determine what a buyer is looking for. If you aren’t using the correct keywords that most buyers would use, then your item isn’t going to show up in the search. As an example, you list a women’s billfold and call it a wallet, but women who are looking for a billfold like the one you are selling call it a “clutch.”

The cost is too high
Overpricing an item is usually the number one reason an item doesn’t sell. This is especially true if it’s a popular item and multiple sellers have it listed, but at a lower price.

Or…the cost is too low
You would think that having a rock bottom price on an item would get it out the door, but buyers also associate low prices with cheap quality. If you are competing with other sellers, try to keep your item priced somewhere in between the highest price and the lowest.

The listing description doesn’t have enough details

If you want a buyer to purchase your item, you have to tell them what they are buying. Use good listing descriptions that feature the key points as to what the item is and how it can help the life of the person that buys it.

Bad photos, not enough photos, or “there it is again”

There’s a reason that Amazon insists that all of the photos you use have a white background. It helps accent the item you are trying to sell and also gives the images a more professional look. While eBay doesn’t insist that backgrounds be white, they do stress that more photos allow buyers to understand and see what they are getting. They also advise that you use a solid background so that the attention stays on the item and doesn’t draw the buyers view to the clutter behind it.

Of course, there is another reason your photo may be hurting you. If you’ve been listing the item for months and months, potential buyers have most likely seen the photo you use and will remember that there was a reason that they didn’t purchase the item from you the first time they saw it. If your item doesn’t sell after multiple listings and you’ve done everything else, try taking new photos to give the item a new look. It might surprise you and sell right away.

How do you move slow items out of your store? Leave a comment below.

How to build trust with your buyers – part two

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As we discussed last week, when you sell online it is often harder to build trust with your buyers since they not only can’t see your items in person, they also know only as much about you as your page or website tells them.

A few ways that you can earn their trust include creating a brand that differentiates you from everyone else, having a photo on your page that help people identify with the person behind the brand, and an About me page that gives buyers a sense about your backstory.

This week, let’s take a look at some additional things you can do that can help you build a buyer’s trust.

Give a quick response

When a buyer asks you a question, providing a quick response lets them know that you’re readily available not only for them to make a purchase, but also lets them know that you will be there for them if they have any concerns once they make the purchase. In addition, responding quickly allows you the opportunity to make a personal connection with a potential buyer and may even encourage them to become a repeat customer.

Provide clear photos and listing descriptions

Since the buyer can’t physically see your items in person, they must rely on the photos you provide and listings that you create. When taking photos, show all of the different sides of the item to help the buyer understand exactly what it is they are buying. If the item has an area that is damaged or worn, make sure to include up close photos that help visually explain what the issue is. You should also describe the issue in your listing description, so the buyer understands exactly what it is that they are purchasing.

Review your store policy

Store policies are one of those things that many sellers “set and forget.” If you haven’t looked at yours in a while, read over your policy to ensure that it is simple and easy to understand. Since your store policy is what both you and the buyer will look to if something goes wrong, it is an important element in building the trust you want to establish. While having an extended return policy makes many sellers uneasy, providing one (such as 14 to 30 days) is another way to build a seller’s confidence and put sellers more at ease encouraging them to make a purchase.

Do you have any tips for building trust with buyers? Leave a comment below.

How to build trust with your buyers – part one

Trust

When you have a brick-and-mortar store, buyers not only get an up-close and personal look at your items, they also typically have an opportunity to meet you and your employees. When you sell online, however, it can take a little more work to instill their confidence and trust.

You may not have a thought a lot about it, but when it comes to online selling, it’s all about the little details in your store that offer buyers an inside look at your business. It’s the photos of your items, the way you word your descriptions, even your About page. All of these offer the buyer clues as to how your business really operates. In the end, it’s really all those tiny things adding up together that make them feel confident about buying from you. Below are three ways you can help build trust with your buyers.

It’s all about the branding

Branding is a marketing term used to describe the practice of creating a name, image, and symbol or design that differentiates you and your products from everyone else. It might not seem all that important, but having a cohesive and professional looking store helps build trust in buyers and can actually make them feel more confident about making a purchase from you. If you don’t have a logo or your logo is looking outdated, it may be time to create one or update it to give your online store a more polished look.

Smile and say cheese

You might think that simply having a familiar looking logo is enough to inspire trust in your buyers, but this isn’t always the case. When you buy online from someone you don’t know, it often feels like you’re taking a risk. Having a photo on your About page (which we’ll discuss in a moment) can inspire confidence in buyers who aren’t familiar with you or your products and help give you an identity, since the photo will make buyers feel like they know and can trust you.

Getting to know you

It’s a page you probably don’t think a whole lot about, but your About page is often the first place a buyer will look if they want to learn more about you. If you haven’t taken the time to fill this page out and it doesn’t have your photo (or at least your logo image) on it, buyers may be less inclined to trust you enough to make a purchase. Use your About page to tell buyers how you got started selling, what inspires you, or what your mission statement is.

Next week, we’ll explore even more ways that can help instill buyer’s trust. In the meantime, do you have a tip for building trust with buyers? Leave a comment below.

How to outline goals for success in the new year

Happy new year!

I don’t know about you, but as the year draws to an end, I usually take a step back and reflect on how the year went, or rather, what went right and what went wrong and more importantly — how I can do better. Once I’ve evaluated the year and took a hard look at this, I can then take this information and outline my business goals (and personal goals!) for the new year.

Keep in mind that outlining your goals is a little different than actually setting your goals. During the outlining phase, you are determining what you need to work on as a way to improve your business. Once you have this figured out, then you can use the information to actually set your goals.

Below are some questions to ask that can help you outline the areas that you may need to work on.

What areas of my business need organizational attention?

Look for areas of your business that may be lacking in organization. For some, this may be their inventory or shipping stations. For others, it may be their bookkeeping or their actual office space. Once these areas have been identified, you can then formulate goals that will help you take control of these problem areas in your business.

How much do I need to make in the coming year?

This is perhaps the biggest goal you will be outlining for your business and if often one of the hardest. To help with the process, consider the different types of expenses you have both in your business and in your personal life. Look at your previous year’s sales numbers as a base for determining the amount of money you need, then use a percentage of that to determine how much you more you actually want to make. Some sellers try to up their sales by 20 or 30 percent each year, but the ultimate amount you need to make is really up to you and is based on what you are making now and how much you actually want/need to make.

How can I improve my inventory?

If you have been selling for any length of time, you know that the way to have a successful online business is to constantly expand and update your inventory. Take a look at what items in your store have worked and what products didn’t. Are there new niches you can sell that relate to the products you already have on hand? Are there products that you need to move out of your store by either marking them down or donating them so that you can make room for new merchandise?

Once you have completed your outline by answering these questions, you can then move on to setting your new goals for the upcoming year.

What are your goals for 2016? Leave a comment below.