Today we visit with JaNell Golden whose shop is:
1. What drew you to opening an online store? Were you in a related field?
I've always doodled and come up with little poems and puns, and I have a degree in Advertising Art, although you couldn't tell it from my site, which is a standard CP template.
2. When did you open your store?
Fall of 2004. I think. I had a Basic shop earlier with a different name, but that's about when JaZilla started in its current form.
3. What is harder about doing this then you thought it would be?
The sense of frustration during those times when you're burned out both creatively and with marketing and networking. There's also keywording; I spent several months uploading photos to a few microstock photography places prior to re-starting at CafePress this past fall, and accurate keywords are important when doing that. It's a real brain stretcher, figuring out how many different ways people from different parts of the country (and world) would search for your photo or product. It's all about the synonyms, I think, and some understanding of colloquialisms...
Then the fun part, where you research and find out which of those word are searched most often, and throw out most of your list, and try again.
4. What do you like best about being an online shopkeeper?
I enjoy keeping my own hours and being able to work on the front porch of my favorite coffee shop while other people labor at the cube farm. The very best part, the part that would keep me doing this even if I had a regular job, is the satisfaction of having another person think that my creative work is good enough to spend hard earned cash on. That's really the truest compliment. All your friends can praise you, your family can compliment you, but the only way you know that you've succeeded with a design is when it's compelling enough for a total stranger to buy it.
5. During the very first month, what do you wish you had known then that you do now?
That I could, in fact, sell this stuff! I'd not have let years go by without adding products if I'd known that. There's also the keyword issue again; I was describing the designs very succinctly, which is my preference but WRONG. Now I try to cram as many variants of a keyword or two into the descriptions and still have it make sense. Sometimes I'm burning out and the descriptions end up surreal or even nonsensical, but they've got those keywords. I occasionally even deliberately miss-spell a commonly miss-spelled keyword to catch searches that way, too. All of that I learned in the last year from reading the forums and any SEO info that I could get my eyes on.
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?
Google ads didn't work well for me; I tried them after eComXpo because they offered a $100 credit. I couldn't get just the right ad going to make it worth it before that credit ran out. Yahoo gave out free credit, too, but their ad building and submission process was so frustrating that I never did use it. Yahoo free classified ads are much easier to work with.
Nancy’s comments – I really liked “Iced Gold” and “Sea Blossom” – look for them and see if you don’t too!