January 17, 2012

Building Your Web Site: A Primer for Crafters and Artisans

Join us for a two-hour workshop that will give you the information you need to build and maintain a profitable web site for your craft or artisan business. The session includes:
·        A Dynamic Web site: Not Mission Impossible.
Having a great looking web site that works hard for your business is not tough to do. You just need to remember five simple rules.

·        What Makes Web Sites So Important to Crafters/Artists
Learn what artists and crafters have that so many other web sites don’t, and what can you do to exploit it to build your brand.

·        How A Web Site Can Uniquely Help You Succeed in Your Business
The three things your site can help you do.

·        What Are The Elements Of A Great Web Site?
We break down the elements of a web site, and learn how each promotes our business and engages our customers. Learn what annoys most customers. And learn how your web site can help you connect with your customers.

·        How Do You Decide What Kind Of Web Site Do You Need?
What are the different types of web sites that you can create and how can each work for you? Do you create your own or hire an expert?  Answer these 10 questions to find out. How do you ensure security for your customers?

·        Working with a Developer – and Not Going Broke.

·        You’ve decided to hire a professional developer. How do you make sure you are getting your money’s worth?

·        Web Analytics – what the numbers mean.
Your web site is up. How do you track its progress?

·        SEO Optimization – Building Your Site So that It’s Seen
Tags. Key Words. Metadata. What do they mean and how can they help you?

March 3, 2012, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
$50 non-refundable
Location: TBA

If you are interested in registering - email info@baysoapofmd.com

Coming Soon:
·        Personal and Business Branding
·        Mobile Payment Systems and other Cool Technology Tools
·        Transforming Your Craft Table into A Profitable Retail Space

October 17, 2011

Craft Entrepreneur Business Workshops Set To Begin

The Craft Entrepreneur will be holding business workshops for crafters and artisans starting December 1, 2011. If you're interested in signing up, stay tuned to this blog for more details.You can subscribe and get our blog feed directly to your computer.

Or send your e-mail address to baysoapmd@me.com

Our four-course series will include:

-   Building Your Web Site: Primer for Crafters and Artisans
-   Personal and Business Branding
-   Mobile Payment Systems and other Cool Technology Tools
-   Transforming Your Craft Table into A Profitable Retail Space

    October 11, 2011

    Is Google Wallet the Next Step in Mobile Payments?

    by Jonathan Blum, Entrepreneur Magazine | October 11, 2011

    Is Google Wallet the Next Step in Mobile Payments?When it comes to reinventing the way people pay for goods and services, Google is ahead of the pack with its Google Wallet Android application, available on the Sprint Nexus S 4G phone. It allows users to transfer money directly to merchants using a smartphone app that runs on devices that are enabled to accept "contactless" payments.

    While other, similar systems -- such as Exxon and Mobil's Speedpass program -- exist, Google Wallet is the first major deployment of the technology with wider retail functionality. And although the service is still largely in the roll-out phase, and it isn't perfect, it does offer some tantalizing possibilities for businesses considering the future of mobile commerce.

    What is it: Google Wallet lets consumers to pay for goods and services by using virtual credit card information stored on a smartphone that communicates wirelessly with a nearby payment terminal. The transaction works by tapping a smartphone against a special reader -- for now, MasterCard PayPass -- that merchants install at their point-of-sale terminals.

    Google Wallet doesn't change the relationship between small businesses and their financial institutions any more than an old-fashioned leather wallet. It's just an intermediary. A transaction processed using Google Wallet still goes through the traditional route including banks and credit card companies.

    There are no added fees for accepting Google Wallet payments, but merchants will still pay the same credit card company transaction fees.

    What you might like: It's an interesting new way to accept payments that fits the way smartphone-tethered consumers live their lives. Google Wallet also opens up promotional opportunities. Consumers will be able to use their phones to redeem "Google Offers" -- Google's version of daily deals. Small businesses will be able to offer customers digital loyalty cards through the app.

    What you might not like: Google Wallet is still in the early stages of deployment. For now, the only virtual credit cards supported are a Citibank MasterCard or a Google Prepaid card, although users can add money to a Google Prepaid card using any credit card.

    A business also needs the infrastructure in place to accept payments. That requires upgrading your point-of-sale with a MasterCard PayPass terminal, with varying cost.

    The app is only available on the Sprint Nexus S 4G right now. So, presumably a fraction of your customers will be immediately able to use the service.

    Bottom line: Google Wallet is a lot like many things Google does: It's a marvelous idea that is a step or two ahead of its time. For businesses that serve a niche market, with dedicated smartphone-using customers, there could be near-term upside in supporting the technology.

    September 26, 2011

    STEER CLEAR: Nothing Consumer About This Company

    Imagine chatting on your cellphone with a client and about to close a big wholesale deal and the line suddenly goes dead.

    Your first instinct may be, "Did I pay the bill?" But you did. Then, is the phone broken? No, it's fine. So you find a landline and call the cellphone company and they tell you that you were in danger of going over your allotted minutes, so they suspended your service.

    That is the policy of Oregon-based Consumer Cellular. They just terminate your service without much warning if they think you're on track to go over your minutes...they just cut you off.

    A company endorsed by AARP, the organization that advocates for the 50+ crowd, touts its service as one that is senior friendly. It markets older model phones - many with poor voice quality like the Nokia C3. And they just started pushing a touchscreen Motorola Android phone that recevied borderline reviews from the technology critics.

    Basic monthly service charges range from between $10 and $60.  Data plans are roughly $10 a month.

    When Craft Entrepreneur questioned Consumer Cellular's policy about suspended service to push customers into a higher rate plan, the customer service representative said the goal was so that the company didn't "get stuck" with high bills.

    But here's the kicker: Try to cancel your service and you can't. You have to agree to a higher rate plan FIRST so Consumer Cellular can bill at least one month at a higher cost before you can terminate. 

    For artisans and crafters who depend on reliable, cost-effective service, you may want to think twice before considering Consumer Cellular. The unreliability, scam potential and lack of respect for customers gets the Craft Entrepreneur's "STEER CLEAR" recommendation.

    September 9, 2011

    It's Not About Your Art...

    One of my favorite books and one that has become a bible, of sorts in my arsenal of business books, is Howard Behar's "It's Not About the Coffee." 

    Recently I encountered a man who has been working with people in a human resources capacity and who has failed to realize that it's not about what jobs he finds them, or even how many companies he signs up for the staffing agency. What matters is whether he goes the extra mile and shows the people he comes in contact with that they aren't just assets or revenue, but people. He should want more for them than he wants for himself. Until he does that, he'll never find success or significance in his work.

    The same goes for artisans. It's not just about your work. Your business is about making your employees, clients and customers feel comfortable, appreciated and  valued. That is what separates Craft Entrepreneurs - and other small business owners - from the Big Box stores. With that perspective, it leaves room for others to truly appreciate and trust your work.

    It's really not about the coffee.

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