Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nifty Wares interview

It’s Kent’s turn to share his endeavors with us:

1. What drew you to opening an online store? Were you in a related field?

The story starts back quite a few years with drawing a self-portrait sketch to put on Christmas cards. It said, "Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!" under a guy working in the garden getting rid of weeds. Then I found iron-on t-shirt transfers. (A light bulb moment!) I put the design on a shirt I could wear to the farmers market where I sell my garden goodies. From one... came other ideas and more shirts for variety. Shoppers started commenting that I ought to be selling the shirts. A few shirts sold, nothing much really, but fun to have beside the veggies at market.
Then... whilst surfing the net in January 2005, I came across CafePress, it looked like a good fit for selling the designs on the net and maybe developing some other design ideas. Another good thing... they also did books. I had been gathering recipes at the market for years and been thinking they should really be put together into a book. Yep!... I ended up with a recipe book to sell at market too. So... That's how I became an online merchant.

2. When did you open your store?

I started with a basic store in January of 2005 and later upgraded to premium.

3. What is harder about doing this then you thought it would be?

Marketing is harder than I thought it would be. Just having products and getting them listed in search engines isn't enough. Finding other ways to market isn't easy.

4. What do you like best about being an online shopkeeper?

The chance to take an idea and run with it. It's fun to create something, put it on products and actually have someone buy it.

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

How much of an advantage a premium shop has over basic shops. It's so much easier to manage designs and run a premium shop when you have more than a few designs. Also, the ability to use html is another big plus over basic shops.

6. 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've done adwords, had some success with a few ads. Found out you have to be careful and not try to compete for keywords everyone else is bidding on and ads work best when they are specific to a design. Also found that a very small change in wording of an ad can have a big effect on how well it does. It's good to run a couple of ads with different wording for each set of keywords and keep track of how well each ad does.

I sold at the farmers market where I sell my garden goodies. Recipe books did well, t-shirts not so much.

I tried blogads that was a flop for me.

7. What other sites, blogs, etc. do you have if any? - Garden Gossip - Gardening site - Grand Rapids Farmers Market

Nancy’s comments – I personally love everything that has to do with gardens – it seems, Kent and I have found two very time consuming passions. I spent all winter glued to my computer, but now my yard is calling my name!I especially like the way he has set up his gardenwares site. You can tell he took a lot of time and searched for the best garden gifts/items from CafePress’s 2 point some million shops and he’s done a great job setting it up!

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