This is a sponsored post with Lil Packaging that has been marked in line with my disclaimer/policy.
I can hardly believe it, but this year I’m celebrating a wonderful 10 years of having a small business with Beauxoxo.
This has been a true moment to pause, reflect, celebrate and share the joys, secrets and wisdom I have learnt along the way.
If I could ever hope to inspire anyone else to start their dream business, this is everything I would tell them.
Although I parted ways with the main part of Beauxoxo in 2019 due to health issues, I still run my Etsy Shop selling some limited edition treasures and also maintain a small boutique here on my blog through Woo-Commerce.
I’m deeply passionate about handmade businesses and how to curate and bring these ideas to the world. It truly lights up my heart.
I thought it was about time that I sat down to discuss how potent starting your handmade business can be right now in 2020 despite all the uncertainty that surrounds us.
This post will hopefully give you some food-for-thought with a special emphasis on curating a sustainable business for your blog if you’re looking to have everything in one place.
What’s Your Niche?
Let’s start with one of the most important things before you start: what’s your niche?
If you’re going to start a shop on your blog (and by the way, it couldn’t be easier!) then it makes sense that it encompasses the niche that you have developed through your blog posts.
My blog niche is ‘seeking everyday whimsy with a heart full of wanderlust’ so it really follows on from Beauxoxo where the tagline was ‘bespoke hair accessories with a playful, whimsical charm’.
But does this mean you must search to find a completely new product or idea? Absolutely not!
I can assure you that the search for a completely new and unique idea will be futile. What your creativity and new business will demand is you showing up in all your beautiful authenticity to make your personality shine.
There has, and never will be another you so nourish what makes you so special and make that shine!
If you want even more wisdom on this topic I so highly recommend Grow & Glow. Launching a business has so many parallels with how you can curate your own blog and I so highly recommend this incredible resource.
The Power of Photography
If I could bottle the success of Beauxoxo into one thing it would be very simply: photography.
I grew up being completely infatuated with fashion photography and so when I had Beauxoxo, it was my dream to take that vision into my brand.
Many of you have wondered over the years how I have found photographers, models and makeup artists. I’m about to reveal all!
So back in the day, 2010, Model Mayhem was very prominent in the indie photoshoot scene and so I would say over 90% of the beautiful models, makeup artists and photographers were from there.
What I loved about Model Mayhem is that you could search from your location and, back in the day, truly everyone was hanging out there. It was so incredible to be constantly surrounded by so much artistic talent and to this day I am still in touch with so many of these wonderful creatives.
In the last year or so I also used Purple Port (very similar to Model Mayhem) and I also had the privilege of working with bloggers and influencers.
Some of you might be selling products that don’t need to be modelled. In which case I highly recommend taking some time to develop your photography style.
I know some sellers who take breathtaking photography on their phones with the macro setting. The key ingredient is to create imagery that truly encapsulates the vision you are wanting to put into the world.
If there was another shimmering ingredient to my business over the years it was SEO.
The SEO algorithm is constantly changing here, there and everywhere so I know this can seem like a really bewildering topic.
However sometimes we make SEO more complicated than it has to be. We think, as a result, the SEO Stars are only the big business owners, but you can definitely do it too!
And how did I become an SEO Star? Very simply: I thought like a buyer.
So for example, let’s look at this turban example.
When I come to list an item I ask myself: what keyword phrases would a buyer search for to find this product?
In the example for the linked turban headband, the title is literally what it is: A pastel floral turban headband!
In the description, I then lead the description with these same words and make sure I elaborate on any keywords from the title. Then, I link to other similar products and add tags that resonate with my title.
And honestly and truly, whilst I wasn’t necessarily sure what I was doing all those years ago, I was creating solid SEO!
SEO is obviously not as simple as the above example alone however if you think like a buyer and create meaningful content and words you are halfway there.
In addition, if you are able to add new products consistently, certainly every month, this will make a huge difference to your SEO. Have you ever noticed how much your blog views go up when you’re consistent? This exact same principle applies to the growth of your small business.
If you need more training I would yet again recommend Grow & Glow.
From SEO star to being a marketing queen and putting all that hard work together!
So many people think marketing is some hugely bewildering complex that they need to hire a whole team of people to achieve but actually it’s very simple. It’s about you and your heart and what you do with it.
Good marketing relies on you being able to pull all the above steps together to truly bring your gifts to the world.
Moreover, marketing is all about finding your authentic avenue to amplify and shine. And actually, if you think of it like that, it’s a really exciting avenue to embark on.
If I could give you just 4 things that I believe will help you find your way to start they would be as follows:
- Who is your dream customer? This involves heart and soul. Once you have discovered your niche I believe this is the next important step. Who do you see buying your products? How do you want to help them? What do they value in this world? For me, it was anyone and everyone who had a playful and whimsical imagination who nourished their individualism.
- Be wary of the social media black hole: Honestly? Social media was never that important to Beauxoxo however Pinterest was monumentally important. Be wary of time-wasting and endless scrolling on social media thinking it’s the only thing in the marketing equation to consider. You don’t necessarily need to give attention to everything just focus on one thing at a time and monitor the results.
- Copywriting & Blogging: When you learn to write good copy you will soon discover how to write head-turning headlines for your emails, blog post titles, video titles, social media updates and so much more. Practise with your blog and trust me, it’s so much fun and will have a really powerful impact.
- Start a Mailing List & Create a Lead-Magnet: If you don’t already have a mailing list I would SO recommend you start one. Right now! But as you do, also have a think about what your freebie will be (your lead magnet). For Beauxoxo, I had an exclusive discount for those that signed up for my newsletter as well as a downloadable pdf of hair tutorials for how to wear my hair accessories. For my blog, my newsletter is called Whimsy Wednesday, and the freebie is an ebook called ‘Whimsy Wellness’. Why is a mailing list so powerful? Because if social media vanished tomorrow you would lose your community overnight. However, with your mailing list, you are able to control that database.
Packaged with love and sustainability
Now you know what value you are adding to the world, become a marketing queen and have captivated the heart of beautiful souls all across the world the next question is: How can you infuse magic and delight your packages to send to your customers?
Just as you’ve spent time nurturing your method of marketing with heart and soul it’s time to apply that to the sustainability of how you send your orders and operate your brand.
Here are 3 ways to make your business more sustainable from the start:
- Build a sustainable workspace: This is something I have worked on so deeply over the years. How can I assure my workspace is eco-friendly and nurturing. Simple things include: work in as much natural daylight as possible. For earth-friendly lighting seek out low-energy light bulbs.
- Your supply chain: For example, if you’re making beautiful wood paintings, you should explore what that supplier is doing to preserve the world’s forests.
- Your packaging: I highly suggest you invest in packaging that is eco-friendly and has sustainability values at its core. My favourite supplier is Lil Packaging. Their Cardboard envelopes feature a special rigidly-protective design recycled board with an easily stackable format for storage. They are also 100% recyclable ensuring eco-friendly credentials and are a significant move away from single-use plastic in e-commerce packaging. I also love their Lil Bag envelopes for clothing and non-fragile items.
When it comes to adding those little extras, think about what could, not only delight your customers, but also the world.
Did you know you can create business cards and leaflets that are made from plantable paper? How beautiful and special is that? You could also add some seeds.
Finally, sourcing eco-friendly tissue paper and shredded paper is something so important to consider. It’s more than possible to care for our world and also leave an impact on our customers.
We’ve been on quite the journey already but now you are starting to make sales and your business is flourishing, hurrah!
So, what’s next?
Simply: Nurture your community.
How can you do this? Well, that’s why I adore mailing lists because it’s so easy and fulfilling to create additional lead magnets and exclusive gifts for your customers.
If you want to do something through social media what about a Facebook Group?
Finally, encourage your customers to send you photos and create a hashtag so you can connect with all your customers.
Above all remember that every single customer is a real person. Sometimes I look at my stats and I picture my customers in a real room. It’s such a powerful exercise.
Nurturing community is all about humanness at it’s most sacred.
Balancing it all
I believe being powerfully productive in what we do requires two huge elements: Rest and Balance.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that burnout is hideous. And as you wade through it, it seems like it will last forever.
Throughout my late teens and early 20s the burnout spiral was one I was constantly trying to free myself from.
And what did eventually release me from burnout? My health.
I don’t say this to ever scare anyone, as I was already a poorly child, however, I truly believe that we, as humans on this planet right now, don’t value rest. So many people think it’s this decadent thing that must be earnt but it is a necessity if we want to show up in life and add our gifts to the world.
Here’s a question I asked myself that truly changed my path: What’s in your zone of genius?
Clarify in your mind what makes you unique, strong, motivated and confident.
We simply cannot do it all. We just can’t. Here’s a secret trick I will save with you now.
Grab some post-it notes and write down all the tasks that your blog/small business involves. Eg, SEO, branding, tech, design, customer service, spreadsheets etc. Get every single thing down no matter how small.
When you have all your tasks in front of you, separate them into two piles. On the left, for things you love and that you can competently do. On the right-hand side add all the things you struggle with.
The left-hand side are the qualities of your zone of genius. Go forth and give them all your power and energy.
As for the right-hand side, allow yourself to be able to ask for help bringing these skills to life. As you do this, eliminate any limiting beliefs that are causing you to self-sabotage, but simply know exactly what and where to put your energy when you lead from your zone of genius.
If you can learn and implement the fundamental ways and tools to use your intuition organically craves I promise it will result in a more balanced life that will lead to an even greater business.
If you’re reading this and you’re looking at this world feeling afraid I want you to know this is your call to change this landscape we are living in.
If you have beautiful dreams to start a business with inclusivity and sustainability at the core, then we need you to shine your light brighter than ever to make this world so much brighter and fairer for all.
I hope there has been something in this post to spark your inner light.
Would you like another post in the future about life as an Etsy seller? Or something else around having owned a variety of small businesses?
If I could give you one big takeaway from this post to cherish and reflect on it would be to lend your heart and gifts to the world if you feel called to.
I know in these uncertain times people are fearful of starting anything as audaciously big as a business right now but I truly believe the world has never needed creativity and big dreamers like yourself more.
Finally, dear friends reading this: As readers of my blog, you will all get the exclusive discount of 30% off everything with BEAUXOXO30 at checkout.