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Advice

The Uncommon Life

Instagram Challenge: HOLIDAY HACKS

December 3, 2015

Instagram Challenge | Holiday Hacks

The next Instagram Challenge theme is HOLIDAY HACKS. While the Internet makes it seem easy to whip up pumpkin hummus for an afternoon of exchanging DIY Secret Santa gifts with your pals, we can all agree that not everyone has time to nail down the little details that go into seamless holiday entertaining. As December creeps in on us, it’s time to put into practice those hacks that help us manage the chaos of the holidays. Whether it’s feeding a crowd on a budget, decorating a small space, or making your own gift tags (we can help you with that one), we want to see some of your tricks and tips for this season!  While sharing your festive photos, be sure to use the hashtag #UGInstaFun to be in the running for a $50 gift card. Visit here to see the creative entries we’ve received so far and scroll down to view our inspiration from Justina Blakeney.

Instagram Challenge | Holiday Hacks

Congratulations to @stonegableblog for winning our Thanksgiving Traditions Instagram Challenge with this detail shot of her beautiful holiday tablescape!

Instagram Challenge Winner | Thanksgiving Traditions

Maker Resources

5 Tips to Get Your Products Featured in the Media

November 4, 2015

Nothing helps catapult your brand and products into the public eye more than being featured in a national print magazine. As a product-based business owner or designer, it can seem overwhelming to try to get your product featured in magazines. It may even seem that editors have to find YOU, but it often works the other way around – you have to find THEM and pitch them your story.

Here are five ways to get your products featured!

How to Tell Your Story

1. Tell a Story

What the media really want is stories! Whether you sell jewelry, greeting cards, natural baby toys, storage containers or mugs, the media is mostly interested in one thing – your story – and more specifically, how your story fits into their readers’ lifestyles. If you only think in terms of press releases, you probably won’t be able to complete with the sheer number of other small business vying for the media’s attention. The old model of writing a press release and using a wire to distribute it is no longer as effective as it used to be.

Instead, think about your products and then browse some of the magazines that you’d like your products to be featured in. Think outside the box, too, and consider trade magazines, regional and local magazines and digital magazines, not just the large national magazines. Then, browse the pages or websites of the magazines you think your products would be a great fit for and think about what section of the magazine would be the best fit for your products.

2. Make a List

Your first step is to make a list of media you want to see feature your products this year. Think about every type of magazine and, if you sell your products to retailers, don’t forget to include the trade magazines. While these magazines have lower circulation rates, they often land directly in the hands of a very important target market: retailers.

Next, browse each publication’s website or back issues to learn if they’re a good fit for your products. Look at the types of stories each publication runs and the products it features to decide if it’s a good fit for you.

Calendar

3. Get to Know Their Story

Many magazines publish their editorial calendars on their websites for advertisers, but anyone can download them. Editorial calendars are a wealth of information as they often describe the ideal reader, themes for each issue and publishing deadlines. You can also find them plugging the search term “Publication Title + Editorial Calendar” into Google.

Gather contact information for each publication you want to reach and the editor working on the section of the magazine you want to be featured in. This information is often listed in the magazine’s masthead (the list of employees at the front of the issue) or on the publication’s website (try the “About Us” and “Contact Us” sections). When in doubt, simply call the magazine and ask.

It’s also important to research the publication’s editors, so you know who to direct your pitch to. Find someone who has written the kind of story you want to be featured in and direct your pitch to them. See what kind of articles they write and how your business could fit into it. A quick Twitter search could help you learn more about a specific editor. You can also see if they have an online portfolio to find out what other publications they write for that your business may be a fit for. This will help you foster a mutually beneficial one-on-one relationship with the editor.

Magazines

4. Pitch Your Story

Write a story pitch for each publication, keeping in mind what you learned from the back issues and the editorial calendars. The more targeted and personalized your pitch is to the publication’s needs, the more likely you are to receive coverage.

While your research and pitch are important steps to getting coverage, this last one may be the most important. So many entrepreneurs assume that if they don’t hear back from the media immediately it means no one is interested. This simply isn’t the case.

Pitches should be focused and to the point, like an elevator pitch in written form. Also, reiterate why your idea is relevant to the publication’s readers. Bonus points if you connect it with content they have written already to show how it fits and to demonstrate that you’ve done your research.

Keep in mind that you should make sure your “request” (the main point) is clearly stated at the beginning of your pitch and also in the subject line. Remember that editors sometimes get hundreds of pitches per day, so you want to make sure you’re compelling them to 1.) Open your email and 2.) Not zone out and stop reading before they’ve gotten to your point.

5. Follow Up

One of the most important lessons you can learn as an maker or designer is that following up is crucial to any business contact you want to make, whether you’re contacting a magazine or a potential wholesale customer.

About a week after you send your initial pitch, send a quick follow up email. If you still don’t get a response when you follow up, that doesn’t mean that the editor is not interested in your products. It can mean that they are not interested right now or, many times, they can pass on your info to an editor who is working on a story that might be a better fit.

It makes sense to reach out to them again a few months later, but this time with a different story idea and pitch. Persistence and follow up are key!

Dave at the 2015 UncommonGoods Holiday Showcase

UncommonGoods’ CEO Dave Bolotsky chatting with editors from Martha Stewart Living.

A Few Things to Remember

When pitching journalists and editors, keep in mind that they are busy people, just like you. If you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally. Move on and contact them at a later date with a new story idea.

Don’t forget about the importance of being everywhere! Selling through an online store or catalog like UncommonGoods can bring you even more press. While you have to do a lot outreach initially, magazines are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest products, too. They constantly scour product websites and online stores, so working with brands can mean even more press for your products!

With some elbow grease, research, and determination, you can experience the thrill of seeing your products in one of your favorite magazines.

 

Andreea Ayers | Launch Grow Joy Andreea Ayers is a serial entrepreneur who loves PR! She started an eco-friendly t-shirt business in 2007 and sold more than 20,000 tees
in four years before she sold her business. Since 2011, she has been working with other product-based entrepreneurs helping them get their products in the media, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Yoga Journal, Self, Organic Spam, and more. Her mission is to make PR less intimidating and more affordable for entrepreneurs who are ready to share the spotlight in print magazines.

You can find her at www.launchgrowjoy.com

Design

Maker Mentors Holiday: How to Make Your Holiday Season a Success!

September 14, 2015

Maker Mentors Holiday

Last spring we were super excited to team up with the folks at Maker Mentors to offer webinars with a few of the artists we work with here at UncommonGoods. We heard some great feedback about the online conference, so when we heard that the event is back for a one-day pre-holiday maker education extravaganza, we couldn’t wait to get on board.

Maker Mentors Holiday is September 19. The online conference will focus on helping makers make the 2015 holiday season a success and features 10 live-streamed sessions. (Including one with me, where I’ll talk about storytelling and content creation.)

Register now with the code UNCOMMONGOODS for $25 off, and don’t forget to sign up for the Maker Mentors newsletter for more from the Maker Mentors community.

Design

Maker Mentors: Advice on How to Make It

May 1, 2015

Maker Mentors | Sponsored by UncommonGoods

 

Taking the leap from making for fun to making professionally is a big step. A few pieces of good advice, positive vibes, and knowledgeable role models can go along way. Even better is a lot of great advice, an atmosphere alive with positivity and encouragement, and an active community of mentors–but it can be tricky to step away from the workbench to seek out educational opportunities, especially when starting a new business. That’s why we’re so proud to sponsor an innovative new conference that takes place entirely online!

Maker Mentors is online and everywhere May 14-16, 2015, so you can attend without buying a plane ticket, dealing with hotel reservations, or even getting out of your PJs. You can even get a $50 of discount off registration by entering the code UNCOMMONGOODS at checkout when you sign up! And, at the risk of sounding a bit like an infomercial, we’ll go ahead and say, “but that’s not all!” Because we’re really, really excited about this next part…

As part of our work with Maker Mentors we’re presenting a series of free webinars featuring our artists throughout May and June! First up is the ever entertaining and informative jewelry designer Emilie Shapiro on May 4th at 5 p.m. PST. (8 EST.)

Sign up for Emilie’s free webinar here and register for the Maker Mentors newsletter  to stay in the know as we add additional artists to this series.

 

 

 

Maker Resources

How to Take the Leap from Maker to Entrepreneur

October 15, 2014

Emilie Shapiro | UncommonGoods

Where do I sell my work? Is retail or wholesale better? How do I make work that will sell?

These are the questions I hear all of the time as a jewelry instructor. My students at Liloveve Jewelry School, 92Y, and Brooklyn Museum range from making their first piece to running successful businesses, but all have one thing in common–the need to create something tangible that didn’t exist before.

During my time as the production manager at Pamela Love Jewelry and Allforthemountain, I learned how the jewelry industry works inside and out from handmade one-of-a-kind pieces, small scale in-house production and outsourcing work with United States based factories. Through the years of designing my own collection which is sold at over 50 boutiques Worldwide, I’ve found what works for me.

Emerald Mosaic Ring | UncommonGoods

Where will I Sell My Work?

  • Directly from your studio. The Holidays are a great time of year to have a sample sale in person and/or online to get rid of some inventory to make room for new work.
  • Have a jewelry (or other item) party! Ask a friend or family member to host you and your work at their home or office. Bring snacks and wine and gift your host a piece for having the party.
  • Online – Etsy, bigcartel, your own Squarespace, site and so many more! There are tons of ways to make an inexpensive online presence or website that someone can shop from.
  • Retail Shows – Retailing is selling your goods directly to the public from a fixed location or online. Check out local craft shows in your area. The Holidays are great because people are looking for gifts. Be sure to ask the what the median price point is and what other vendors will be there to make sure you’re a good fit. Also, make sure to have a sign and a cohesive display for your work. Good lighting is a must, especially for jewelry, so make sure to ask about electricity. Don’t forget your business cards or postcards and packaging. (Some of these Trade Show Tips go for retail shows as well.)
  • Wholesale – Wholesaling is selling your goods in large quantities to be resold by other retailers. Set a minimum price or piece order to make it worth your time and so a retailer has a good selection of your work represented. Check out local stores you think your work would fit in with. Who else do they sell and for what prices? Would your work look good next to them? Walk in wearing your work (or pictures of your objects), be very friendly and ask who is the buyer and get in touch. Don’t waste your time or buyers time if it’s not a good fit or price point.

Production

How Can I Streamline My Production?

  • Focus on efficiency of creativity while you’re producing. Perfect your first piece (your model) on design and craftsmanship and then break down each step. Work in an assembly line fashion instead of making one piece start to finish, even if you’re by yourself. You work faster while your body gets in the rhythm.
  • Buy in bulk when possible. Stock up on supplies and materials like chains and findings. Go in with other artists to get the best prices possible.

Materials

  • Develop a clear track for your orders from the second you receive it from when it ships out your door. I use a production schedule which I find really helpful. This helps me keep track of the items I have to make for stores and clients, what I have in stock, and what I have to make.

Production Schedule

  • Think about what you’re great at, and what someone else can do for you. As an artist you want to follow your heart on how you make something, but as a business owner you need to use your brain on the most cost effective way. Try to find the balance and make your work efficiently without lowering your quality.

Jewelry Assembly

What are the Best Tips for Success?

  • Make your own decisions; you’re the boss! Whether you’re hiring an employee, deciding whether a new store is a good (or bad) fit, telling the owner of a store they can’t change your designs (this happens to me once a week – you are the designer), there are tons of big and day-to-day decisions with running a craft business.
  • Find a middle ground. As an artist, you will have the tendency to make decisions based on feelings and intuition. As a successful businessperson, you will need to make decisions based on rational calculation. I like to find a happy medium between the two.
  • When you need help, ask for it. Use the resources of friends, family, and local businesses around you. No one can do everything! Know when to delegate.
  • Be thoroughly professional.
  • Accept nothing less than the highest standards of your work. Never cut corners to make a deadline; your work will suffer and people will notice. Customers buy handmade for good quality products. The goodwill of your customers if your most valuable possession! Don’t jeopardize it by delivering late or shipping work that’s not high quality.
  • Never stop learning!