Friday, February 26, 2016

The Basics of Bead Stringing: Best Selling Beading and How To Bead Book for Years

The Basics of Bead Stringing 

I can't get over how long this book, The Basics of Bead Stringing, has been around; even before I started in the bead business over 14 years ago. And it's still a best seller for getting started with beading.   That kind of longevity is no accident!  Perhaps it's because it really does teach the basics of bead stringing and beading techniques which really haven't changed much in many, many years. It's terrific for starting in bead stringing and bead weaving for beginners and advanced students - just because your proficient in bead stringing doesn't mean you can just jump right into bead weaving.

When I first started out selling beads and bead related items I realized that instructional books were really an important category.  After some years I noticed a drop off in book sales and attributed it to videos; but finally figured out that the same books were being sold on Amazon at much lower prices often just a few dollars over my cost - and yes, videos also started to be used much more.

Quality beads and beading supplies are expensive enough and I felt, whether my customer or not, I wanted people to get the most for the bead dollars (which is one reason why I never opened brick-n-mortar as it's increases end prices significantly) since I knew I wasn't going to even try to compete with Amazon's book prices I have no problem sending people to Amazon for beading books.

So why does this particular book, The Basics of Bead Stringing, have such longevity?

If you're a long time bead art jewelry designer and you start flipping through the book you will immediately see how relevant the information still is from the what materials and tools are needed: (Now the plethora of items within each category of items listed is, or can be, overwhelming; and to be honest, especially when starting out will be one of the most confusing things to figure out.  But there are, again, a vast amount of resources to help you choose are available and of course The Bead Stylist).
  • Nylon bead cord
  • Bead tips
  • Bead caps
  • Thread cutter or Scissors
  • Cement Glue or Adhesive 
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Bead Board
Too, design fundamentals and styles, knotting, how to apply bead tips, wire techniques and thread size and function - and so much more.

Once you learn the basics and start experimenting you will find what works best for you based on what style and techniques you develop while creating your bead art jewelry designs; yet the basics learned in the book are always relevant and makes it much easier to understand other more advanced beading books as you skill level increases.

So for now just relax and enjoy your beading experience and check back for more blog post about beading books and magazines.  And check your Local Bead Shop (LBS) for some real hands on experience.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

So Where do you buy your beads and beading supplies from, a Local Bead Shop or Online?

My local bead shop store closed I need to buy beads
Do You Have a Local Bead Shop?
I hope you don't mind responding and leaving your comment below about from where do you purchase your beads:
  • A local bead store (LBS)
  • Online 
  • Other
If you're new to beading and wondering why I left off Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Walmart; even though they do carry some very lovely beads they are just not the same as purchasing from a local bead store; where not only will you find experienced sales people, probably bead artists and jewelry designers themselves, to answer your questions, but you can walk into even the smallest bead store and still be overwhelmed with the vast quantity, and volume of beads available.

I'm curious because it seems that not one week has goes by since starting 2016 without me seeing postings from at least one of the many bead groups I follow on Facebook stating that another LBS has closed.

Although I've only sold beads online I feel quite disappointed that this is happening because local bead shops really do fill a need serve such a valuable purpose, never mind that the bead shop owner probably put so much of themselves into the business to finally realize that they have no choice but to close their doors.

Even when I started selling about 15 years ago and there were many, many local bead stores where I lived at the time which was in New Jersey. I never felt threatened by their existence as once I entered the bead world I knew that there was no way that any one store, shop - online or off - could sell all the beads and related items available to us, so I soon realized that there was plenty of room for all of us to play nice.

But this phenomena is disturbing because, as with any business, when the balance of power shifts there will no doubt be an imbalance overall, including price and the impact will be felt from production / manufacturer's right down to us, the little guys and gals.

The online option has done very well by me over the years; but I do feel that the in-person interaction is still very much needed and those that benefit from online are the more experienced beaders' which unfortunately, leaves the newer, inexperienced beaders' and even some hobbyist out in the cold.

But what's even worse is that these new and aspiring bead art jewelry designers are left thinking that all that's available from the amazing world of beads can only be purchased from places like Hobby Lobby -  and this is so very, very sad!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Social Commerce: What Is it All About?

2016 is my year to transition into social commerce. It's a huge undertaking and could impact my business in a way I'm not anticipating; but the writing is on the wall and it's really now or be late to the party.

Actually, being an early adapter really does have it's privileges!  ( Social Commerce article )

I've been researching, studying and using the various social commerce platforms and tools required to implement my new venture for several months now, so having a better understanding of what's needed has given me a lot more confidence about implementing this new strategy.

The biggest challenge I'm finding initially is the need to maintain your ecommerce selling platform while, at the same time, developing your social commerce strategy. Especially a challenge if the items you sell you also design, create and make yourself - yet social commerce is exactly suited for the handcrafted sellers in marketing their items.

What are some of the challenges we currently face?

So why all the hype about social commerce and what is it anyway? Is it different from ecommerce? Can I merge the two?

There is certainly a difference between social commerce and (social) ecommerce and although very subtle in these early stages the differences will become obvious over time - and frankly, it's more than just putting our items on a page and hoping someone comes to purchase.

So we pretty much know that ecommerce is the absence of a brick and mortar retail location and in order to sell your product you must create a stand alone website or use a selling venue like eBay, Etsy, Artfire, Amazon just to name a few - I currently have a Yahoo! Store which is where I host my website.

Curated sites like Pinterest, and Wanelo came on the scene and helped us better visualize what we wanted to purchase which created amazing visual selling tools.

Facebook boosted our sales by having us create our Facebook business page from which they promoted our posts that gave us some very nice exposure and we watched our sales increase on whatever venue we were selling. Then facebook imposed varying qualifiers which pretty much required us to pay-to-play (get noticed). Now please don't get this wrong, Facebook offers some great free tools for our business pages so that we can really target who we want our paid ads to reach which is really pretty awesome - only problem is that there can be a huge learning curve which could take precious time away from the design, creation and selling efforts.

And no matter where we sell there's the issue with ongoing user interface changes, updates, upgrades that really are inevitable for the likes of Facebook, Etsy, Artfire, Amazon and Pinterest if they want to stay competitive.

But for the small, often one-person small business (owner), it leaves us wondering if these changes are really going to help increase sales or just take precious time from maintaining our businesses just to keep up with these constant, albeit necessary changes.

So how is social commerce going to help?

One of the most important changes, I believe, that social commerce will bring to the table is - Branding.

Branding is so key, especially for a small business.

Etsy is really a great place to get started in the handmade market, but let's be honest when asked where do you  sell most people including myself say I sell on Etsy, then I say I sell beads, then I say the name of my Etsy shop.

So you probably have already figured out where I'm going with this which is that the brand you're really promoting is Etsy.

Yes, it's a huge mind-shift because we as unique small business owners want to not only stand out from the competition, but we want to thrive and to accomplish this we need our brand to be immediately recognizable - we really need to give this some serious consideration.

Social commerce - when executed correctly - makes your business / shop name known first, then the personality of your business and then how / where to purchase is then almost insignificant (yet we do still need to make it as seamless and secure as possible) as all they want to do is purchase your product.  And even if they don't purchase at that time they will bookmark your Instagram page, your Snapchat, your Periscope channel, your YouTube channel, your twitter account - you get the idea.

So you may ask 'isn't social commerce just another form of marketing? And the answer would be yes,but it's marketing it can be so targeted and focused that it takes relationship marketing to another level and it makes you feel good as a business owner because you soon realize that you are actually satisfying the needs of your customer and not just enticing them to purchase.

I will explain this further in another blog post; it's a very powerful story

What do I need to do to get started?

Of course I will be blogging about social commerce in series of blog posts which will educate you nd direct you to valuable resources; but for now lets get you thinking about the following:

Do you have a presence on the following social media platforms? And if yes, is you business name consistent across all platforms?

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Periscope
  • Facebook
  • YouTube

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