Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Easily Import Your Etsy Items Into Your Shopify Shop

If you are an Etsy shop owner with at least a couple of pages of items, the thought of opening a Shopify shop and transferring all of your products over may feel like an overwhelming task. There is a much easier way to do this other than entering all the data one listing at a time. You can easily import them with just a few steps!

Have you ever wondered if there is an easy way to import your Etsy shop items into Shopify? The thought of adding your items one by one may be enough to keep you from opening your own shop - a dream you've had for a while. This step-by-step tutorial will show you how easy it is to import all of your Etsy items into Shopify with just a couple of steps.
 BACKING UP YOUR INFORMATION 

Whether or not you are happy with your current Etsy listing photos and descriptions, it is still valuable and helpful to backup your information into a CSV file. If something were to happen to your shop, either your choice or not, this file will collect all your information as a backup and the process only takes a few minutes.

I suggest that you do this a couple of times a year even if you don't intend to transfer them.  You've invested a lot of time in creating your listings so this will ensure that you don't lose any of this valuable information.


HOW TO CREATE A CSV FILE FROM ETSY

You’ve probably stumbled upon the page where this is found and not even known it. There are several resources available in the back end of our Etsy shop that get overlooked. Clicking around and taking a look at some of them may answer some questions you've had for a long time. 

To find the download location simply click on your Shop Icon for the drop down menu to appear. Click on SHOP SETTINGS > OPTIONS > DOWNLOAD DATA tab. Easy peasy!

Referring to  the “Currently for Sale Listings” box, click on the blue download button and click OK when the download prompt box appears.

tutorial on how to easily import your etsy shop items to your shopify shop

tutorial on how to easily import your etsy shop items to your shopify shop



IMPORT YOUR CSV FILE INTO SHOPIFY
The navigation menu for Shopify is fairly easy to understand. Since this import file is for your products, you will find the link in the PRODUCT section of your Admin Page.

Once on your product page you’ll notice three choices in the top right corner - Export, Import, Add a Product. You’ll need to click the IMPORT button and a box will pop up asking you to browse for the file that you want to import.

As I walked through these steps myself for the first time I kept wondering if I was really doing things right. I was comforted to know that Shopify understands that. Once I clicked on the Etsy file for downloading another box popped up and asked if this file (showing me a preview) looked familiar. Phew…..I did it right!!


www.mamableu.com

www.mamableu.com



EDITING YOUR IMPORTED INFORMATION 

Another thing I was hesitant about was showing all my Etsy information on this brand new website without double checking that it all looked good. Well Shopify makes that easy too. While you are still on the PRODUCT page you can check the box of all the newly imported products. This will then activate a menu with a “bulk actions” option. By clicking “hide selected products” your customers will not be able to see any of these listings until you are ready to make them available. 

Tutorial on how to easy import your etsy items into your shopify shop



I appreciate finding out tips that are time saving and make it easier for me to handle the daily tasks of keeping my business running smoothly. If you are have a shop on Etsy & Shopfiy and have any business tips that help you I'd love to hear about them!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

How I Became a Stitched Calligrapher

My story is much the same as most entrepreneurs and makers in that I didn’t start my journey with this place in mind. I never thought I’d be known for my stitched calligraphy! In fact, even though I know a lot about sewing and have years and years of experience, I didn’t know the first thing about free-motion stitching until 5 years ago. That’s the honest truth!!

stitched calligraphy | Mama Bleu Designs

If I’m interested in learning something new I quench my appetite with lots of books, web articles and videos. I devoured everything on the topic I came across until I finally got up the courage to try it myself.

The technique is fairly simple but mastering it is an ongoing process. I was so used to the machine being in control of the forward or backward movement of my fabric. And the speed of the needle movement normally increases the pace of the stitch. As that all became MY choice when stitching “free-motion” I had to literally learn how to sew again. 

stitched calligraphy | Mama Bleu Designs


So how did I become a stitched calligrapher? I combined my love of calligraphy with my passion for sewing and started using the machine thread as my ink! With the ability to write in my own handwriting with my sewing machine I practiced and practiced and practiced!! I’m always looking for ways to improve and change my stitched writing and I’m delighted that my customers love the personalized touch it brings to each of my handmade items.

If you are interested in trying free-motion stitching for yourself you may find this video helpful.

stitched calligraphy | Mama Bleu Designs

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY Watercolor Photo Backdrops

There are several ways to create a backdrop for your shop photos depending on what mood you are trying to create. You don’t want your backdrop to be too busy or else it will distract your eye from the item being featured in your photo. I shared some of these ideas in an earlier post and briefly mentioned the option of making your own watercolor backdrop.

I know that many people shy away from watercolor because they think it’s “too hard” but really, this technique is very easy. To help you make a watercolor backdrop of your own I’ve put together this DIY tutorial for you!!

A DIY tutorial on how to create watercolor photo backdrops

Watercolor paper is available is a variety of sizes. You’ll need a sheet of paper that is 22” x 30” if you want to duplicate the size that I created. You’ll find these at any art supply store that sells large art paper. 

As for the type of watercolor paint to use, you’ll find that the color of artist quality paint is much richer and more brilliant than your craft quality paint. Also, when the paint is wet it will appear much darker than when it is fully dry. I used to water down my colors quite a bit because I was nervous about how dark they looked on the white paper. As a result, I was unhappy with the washed out color that resulted. Be brave when adding color to your paper. I think you will be much happier with the results!!

A tutorial on how to create watercolor photo backdrops

Creating a watercolor wash for a photo backdrop


Your first step is easy! Using a fairly large brush (mine is a 1 ½” flat brush), add brush strokes of water to your paper until it is coated. It doesn’t need to be saturated. The coating of water allows the paint to spread more easily across the paper.

Now wet your paint brush, load it with watercolor and start adding it to your paper. Use long brush strokes from one end of the paper to the other. Let some areas stay dark and others blend out soft and muted. If you’ve never worked with watercolor before it may be tempting to keep “working” the paint by brushing it over and over and over. By doing that the paper starts to break down and the paint loses its carefree quality. Less is more when it comes to watercolor. I posted a short video on my Instagram feed so you can see what I mean.

Let it dry completely. If the paper feels cool it’s probably not dry yet. That’s pretty much all you need to do. 

Since watercolor paper is thick, you can create another color wash on the flip side. This way you can create two handmade watercolor backdrops with each sheet of paper!

What are some other ways you can make some simple photo backdrops? Do you have a favorite?

personalized cosmetic bag

personalized cosmetic bag





Thursday, September 17, 2015

Easy To Create Backdrops for Branding Your Product Photos

Branding your product photos can be a easy as choosing a backdrop that fits your style. If you are feeling challenged about coming up with some fresh ideas I have a list here that may help you get started. They are easy to create or purchase inexpensively. 
  
WHITE BACKDROPS
 
I love the freshness of a white background and there are several portable products that can be used to set up a backdrop. Art supply stores (and even the art section of office supply stores) have oodles of paper and other materials that can be turned into photo backgrounds!

Easy to create backdrops for branding your product photos | Mama Bleu Designs


LARGE SHEETS OF PAPER
I love a big ol’ sheet of paper for my white backdrops! I can lay it flat on a table or curve it for a more dimensional photo display.

ROLLS OF PAPER
If you need something even larger a roll of paper works great. They are available in various widths and I most often find them in the the kid’s art section.
POSTER BOARDS

These boards come in a variety of sizes and may be easier to handle than paper because of their sturdiness. Even though they are more rigid than paper they still have the flexibility to curve them.

PROJECT DISPLAY BOARDS
If you’ve ever helped a child create a science project board you probably know exactly what I’m referring to. They fold up easily to make a portable backdrop and can stand up on their own.

WHITE CANVASES
One of my new favorite backdrops is a large white canvas. They aren’t as portable as a poster board or a roll of paper but they come in a much larger selection of sizes.
  
SOLID COLOR BACKDROPS

POSTER BOARDS
When you are purchasing a white poster board you might want to check out the various colors that are available. Think about your product and what mood a bright or pastel color might create for you brand.

PAINTED CANVASES
If you have a couple of signature colors for your brand, consider picking up some tubes of paint and a paint brush while you are at the art supply store. Why not paint a couple of custom canvas backdrops. If a stretched canvas is too large for you to store, maybe a couple of yards of canvas is a better purchase for you. After it’s painted and dry, simply roll it up for safe keeping!

WATERCOLOR BACKDROPS

Speaking of painting, watercolor backdrops are really easy to make. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience to create something beautiful. Just add water and a bit of paint on a brush and add it to your paper. Once it’s dry I think you’ll be surprised at how beautifully it works for a soft colored backdrop.

What are your favorite photo styling or backdrop tips?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Six Creative Resources to Help You Stay Motivated and Inspired

During times of burnout or stagnation in your business it can often be hard to stay motivated. If you are in this season of your business, believe me, you are not the only one to ever feel this way. Staying continually motivated is an ongoing process but there are some things that you can do to trigger that place of creativity again. 

Six Creative Resources to Help You Stay Motivated and Inspired

BOOK STORES

One of my favorite pastimes is walking through a bookstore. Since they are far and few between these days it is a real treat for me to spend an hour or more checking out the books on business,  creative processes and more. Just flipping through and reading the pages of books and magazines is an incredible source of inspiration.  I’m constantly adding to my personal library because I believe that being a student of your field can help you keep things fresh and continually motivated.

Style Your Brand - Creative Inspiration


YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY

The next best thing to a bookstore is your local library. Our library is quite small but I still find several books that I don’t own myself. When you purchase a book it may sit on your shelf for a length of time before you read it, but when you borrow a book from the library it gives you a sense of urgency to dive into it immediately. 


AUDIO BOOKS

Although audio books are not a source of visual inspiration, they can help you get through some of your reading list much quicker. I don’t always have the time to actually read a book, but listening to one while I’m working is so convenient. 


PODCASTS

Another convenient way to listen to amazing information is through podcasts. Learning about this resource of information has changed my business. If I’m not listening to music while I’m working, I’m enjoying the stories and insists of other entrepreneurs!


INSTAGRAM

A constant stream of inspiration, Instagram is a living magazine of photos and stories. It’s like flipping through your favorite publications on a daily basis. 


ARTIST DATES

Setting aside time for  “artist dates” is a great way to stir up those creative juices. I’ve experienced significant benefits from scheduling these into my monthly calendar or letting them happen spontaneously when I’m out doing errands.

An artist date can be spent walking through a book store or visiting your local library.  Try strolling through an art supply store and picking up a new color of paint or a brand new sketchbook. Anthrolopogie is always a great  field trip. The level of creativity in the store displays is enough to load you up with inspiration. My daughter and I took a free workshop there last Fall and it was so fun. 

Finding your Creativity and Inspiration


Whether you are in a stuck in a place of stagnation or completely burned out from overwork or somewhere in between, schedule some creative inspiration time for yourself. It will pay off in dividends!!

I’d love to hear about resources you have found to be inspirational! What are you reading? Where do you like to go? What is your favorite podcast?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Things to Consider When Hiring Help for Your Small Business

I experienced a tremendous growth spurt in my business in 2013 and couldn’t see keeping up with my orders without hiring someone to help me. This was something I had never done before so I learned a lot as I went through that season.

When the year ended and things slowed down, I no longer needed extra help but the experience was eye opening for me. There are parts of that process that I did well and there are other parts that I could have done better if I had known more going into it. I'm sure it would have at least helped my stress level through it all!

Things to Consider When Hiring Help for Your Small Business


WORK WITH AN ACCOUNTANT

One of the best decisions I made was to work with an accountant that specializes in working with small businesses. I asked her lots and lots of questions. I called and emailed her about anything that was confusing.

She emailed me all the forms for each person to fill out as they were hired on. She filed all of the paperwork and made sure I knew about things that needed my attention. It was a relief to know that she had my back in areas that were completely outside my understanding and comfort zone.

For help in choosing an accountant you may want to read about the process I went through.

DECIDE ON A SCHEDULE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

This was something I struggled with because I thought more about what worked for the ladies who were helping me than what worked best for me. I literally worked ALL weekend just to get things ready for them on Monday.

I also thought that we needed to start at 9am. This eliminated any possibility of getting exercise in the morning before my work day started.

The best lesson I learned from working that kind of schedule was what DIDN’T work for me. I now start my work day later and realize I was delegating some of the wrong tasks.

DELEGATE THE RIGHT TASKS

It may take a bit of extra time to train someone to do a task that they aren’t familiar with but it will be well worth the time invested.

If your items have lots of little details as mine do, having an extra pair of hands helping with them can make a huge difference. With deadlines looming I was feeling a bit panicked so I did most of the detail work myself. I would definitely have taken the time to hand more of those little jobs to someone else.

After a few days of working together I found out where some of the rough spots were and it was tough to ask them to do thing over and over again until they were right.

Building a Small Business

Details of a Small Business


HAVE HONEST CONVERSATIONS AND SET EXPECTATIONS

Working closely in my small studio made for an environment where spontaneous conversations could happen. I knew that we needed to start off our working relationship with an honest and open talk about how I run my business, what my customers expect and what they could expect to happen each day/week. I also knew that the volume of orders would drop considerably after the first of the year and I may not need their help anymore at that point.

KEEP THINGS OPEN ENDED

For me, keeping things open ended was the best solution. I could not guarantee a set number of hours each day or days per week of work for them and I made sure they knew that before we started working together. This goes along with setting expectations. I was so grateful to have women working with me who could handle a flexible schedule.

HAVE SYSTEMS IN PLACE

In order to hand off responsibilities and tasks to someone else, it is really important to have some systems in place. Whatever information you have in your head that someone needs to know in order to duplicate what you do, needs to be put into some kind of format or organized in a way for someone to easy learn and follow.

Samples of finished products, reference notebooks with written instructions and measurements, photos or drawings, categorized materials, etc. are all systematic tools that can help someone work independently and efficiently. 

Hiring Help for you Small Business

Details of a Small Business

 HIRING VS MENTORING
In 2013 I was desperate and couldn’t see any other option but to hire some people to help me. This past April, when my daughter was getting ready to take the Summer off from her teaching job, she was hoping to join me in my studio so she could be mentored in how to build her business. We work side-by-side, bouncing ideas off of each other, making products and trying new things. She is learning-by-doing about how to manage and grow her small business. 

It may be that you need to hire someone during a busy season of your business. It may be that you just need to bring in a student intern or someone who wants to be mentored. Whatever your choice, I encourage you to have open conversations with them about your expectations AND talk with your accountant about what you can expect in the way of taxes, paperwork and other things you may need to consider when hiring someone to help you.

Whatever your situation, unless you’ve been down this road before, be prepared for a huge learning curve. For instance, I learned the hard way that I can’t start my work day at 9am. I now start at 10am after I’ve taken my morning walk, taken a shower and had a good breakfast!

If you have a small business and have brought someone on board to help you in one way or another I would love for you to share your tips and insight here in the comments! Thanks!