Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dog Play Interview

Here’s Diane’s main shop and some of her thoughts:

1. What drew you to opening an online store?

An internet friend opened one just to create a mug of her dog. I started exploring around. CafePress looked like it might be fun. That I didn't have to pay anything to try it, and that I didn't have any commitments at all was a big factor in my deciding to try it. I really like playing with the artwork. CafePress gave me a reason for doing it.

2.Were you in a related field?

Not at all. My images are in support of, and a mirror of, my Dog Play website which is devoted to helping dogs keep their homes. The Dog Play website was opened in 1996.

3.When did you open your store?

December 2003

4.What is harder about doing this then you thought it would be?
Writing the sales pitches and marketing. And maintaining the shop. I had no idea I would create so many designs. And keeping up with which designs have been added to which products (or rather which products I've accidentally skipped) is a challenge.

5.What do you like best about being an online shopkeeper?
The ego boost that comes when someone likes something I made enough to actually pay money for it. They see something there that speaks for them, and that's my goal.

6.During the very first month, what do you wish you had known then that you do now?

I really can't think of anything that would have made a difference then, except maybe to discourage me. Since I didn't start out taking it too seriously most of the things that cause stress (no sales!) weren't a big problem. Nice thing about being pessimistic is you can get pleasantly surprised when you are wrong. It is good to be wrong.

7.Could you share some of the marketing you’ve tried so far (on or off line) and what has worked and what hasn’t?

I haven't done the kind of marketing I could or should. Partly I have a mental block but also I committed myself that my primary web site would come first. I tried a blog, but couldn't keep at it. Generating income from sales should come second to keeping my web site a great resource for people to learn about their dogs. I'd like to do it all, but there aren't enough hours in the day. And I'd much rather teach or help than market.

Since I know I can count on traffic to my web site, and that will target my audience, I spend most of my marketing efforts there. This weekend for example, I've been working on extracting product and section images for a new script based display that I hope will work better than others I've tried.

I do very well in Google where I've made the effort to do good section descriptions.
I'd say the best side effect of working with CafePress is that it has convinced me that selling stuff on Dog Play can be a benefit for my visitors. That these things can support what I'm doing philosophically as well as financially.

8.What other sites, blogs, etc. do you have if any?

In addition to my premium shop I still have a LOT of basic shops, and I make sales through them.

I also have:
http://www.dogplay.com - what I call my primary web site.
http://www.dogplayshops.com - my affiliate shop.
Just because I have to check things out:

Nancy’s comment – I have found in my four months at CafePress that the shop owners are not only talented, but passionate people. Some have a special cause close to their hearts, others care about everything. They are all talented and willing to put themselves out their for their beliefs.
I read somewhere that making a commitment and putting yourself out there invites success even though it may not come instantly or through the obvious channels. Most of the shop owners I’ve interviewed don’t get in it strictly for the money, they don’t expect overnight success. They have a talent that needs to be expressed somehow and a passion that needs to find a purpose.
Diane is providing a service for dogs and you can tell she’s passionate about them, but she is also talented and smart.

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