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Friday Blog Round-Up 7/10/15

10th July 2015

Friday Blog Round-Up 7/10/15

Happy-Friday-Carnival-FIHappy Friday everyone!   Since I promised you two Friday Blog Round- Up posts a month,  I figured it was time I got one done.   Luckily,  I can always find good content to share in these posts.

First up is a post from the Designs in Machine Embroidery blog about how to stay relevant in the marketplace.   It discusses some resources for finding new customers,  and some ideas for what you can sell those customers.    Staying relevant and thinking about events that are coming up  – back to school,  off to college,  for which your customers might need or want the goods you can make is key.    This is a good reminder that we always need to be aware of what’s happening around us.

Second on the list is a post from Joyce Jagger which details 9 ways to sink your decorated apparel business  and gives you tips on avoiding these hazards.   One of my favorite pieces of advice from this post is when she talks about not depending on a small pool of customers.   One of the reason EnMart is constantly adding new products and reaching out to new markets is because we want the broadest customer base possible.   It’s good advice for any business – don’t put all your eggs in one basket,  because if that basket fails,  it’s your bacon that’s in the fire.

Third at bat is a post from Erich Campbell about why smaller customers and smaller orders matter.    I was just having a conversation with an EnMart customer this morning on this very topic,  so this post is very applicable.     Erich makes several good points in this article,  but the one that really struck home with me is the point that you never know who,  or what,  is behind a small order.    Yes,  small orders might be annoying or a pain at times,  but they can also be the path to big orders.    This is a terrific post,  and a great way to think about what some companies might consider an imposition.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Sadia Sews about multi-hooping.   Since I would probably have trouble lining up one design,   I’m in awe of people who can stitch out multiple designs and have their line up properly.    This is a nice tutorial on one way to make that happen.

Fifth in the queue is a post from the Stitchworks blog listing some dos and don’ts when it comes to press releases.   In my opinion,  press releases are a publicity tool that many small businesses overlook.     This post offers a lot of good tips for a businessowner who may be writing their first press release.    My two favorite tips are the one about not sending your release to everyone – having worked at television stations and newspapers in the past I can tell you from personal experience how annoying that is,   and the one about making sure the photos you include with your release are high quality and suitable for print.    There are several great tips here so you should check this post out.

Finally,  we have a post from John Morgan about six things on which business owners should stop focusing.   While some of what he says seems counter-intuitive to most business advice that’s out there,  his advice really does make sense.    I especially like the advice about being a trendsetter,  not focusing on staying up with current trends,  and the reminder that we all need to stop focusing on our fears.

 

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5th June 2015

Friday Blog Round – Up 6/5/15

Yes,  I know,  the criroundup2ckets have been chirping on this blog for a while,  and I apologize for that.   Sometimes,  although the intentions are good,  things go by the wayside because other tasks demand priority.    In any case,  I want to try to get back to blogging more regularly and figured a Friday Blog Round – Up would be a good way to start.

First up,  we have a great post on punching from All Things Embroidery.    Since our parent company started in 1974,  I’ve heard stories about punching and what was involved.    I tend to find the history of embroidery and how it has evolved fascinating,  so this was a fun piece to read.

Second on the list,  Black Duck Inc.,  the home of our friend and digitizing guru Erich Campbell,  was named one of the Top Shops of 2015,  by Stitches Magazine.    Anyone who knows of Erich,  and has seen the work he and Black Duck create knows that this was a well deserved honor.   Congratulations to everyone at Black Duck for making the list.

Third at bat is a great post from Joyce Jagger about your mindset and how it impacts your business.   I love what she says about valuing your time and how changing her mindset led to increased business.    She makes a good point.   What you think impacts how you act and you also have to be wary of projecting your thoughts on to others.   Charge a fair price,  do good work,  and always value what you do and your business will prosper.   Love this post!

Fourth on the docket,  a plea from Erich Campbell,  made in his “On Links and Needles” blog that we hear every voice in the industry,  not just those who are considered to be experts.   Every voice is valuable,  and people just starting out have a different perspective and perhaps different interests than those who are years into their journey as decorators.    Everyone has something to add to the conversation,  so don’t be afraid to put your two cents in and speak your mind.

Fifth in the rotation is a post from Peter Shankman about knowing when to break the rules.    He makes a great point in this post –  when you stick to a rule and it causes you to lose more money than it would had you broken the rule,  you’ve made the wrong choice.    Good customer service means being flexible.

Finally,  I do want to try to update this blog on a more regular basis,  and suggestions for posts are always appreciated.   If there’s something you’d like me to write about,  or a particular topic you’d like this blog to cover,  please let me know.

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26th December 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 12/26/14

roundupSince it is the day after Christmas,  and the end of the year will be here before we know it,  I thought it might be nice to do a blog round-up and spotlight some of the great advice that’s out there.    I have to confess,  a round-up is also a great way for me to do a post without having to think of a topic.  I’m all for that today!

First up is a post from All Things Embroidery about fonts.    I sometimes think fonts are the bane of everyone’s existence.   Finding a font you like,  finding a font that works with your software,  finding a font that matches something the client saw once on Facebook three years ago,  finding the right font can be a chore and a challenge.    This post gives you some helpful vocabulary and explains a bit about the types of fonts available and how they can be used.

Next up,  I’m pimping one of my own posts,  which I don’t usually do,  but I think this one has a good message that is applicable,  particularly at this time of year when people start new things.   The post is about all those people who,  with good intentions,  will tell you not to try to follow your dreams.   My advice –  don’t listen.   You have to follow your path,  and all those people who are telling you it won’t work just don’t know what you know –  you’re willing to do your absolute best to prove that it will.

Third on the list we have a post from Retail Minded,  which details four characteristics of a great manager.    I agree with all of these,  particularly number four,  holding people accountable.   I’ve seen workplaces suffer because the rules and responsibilities aren’t the same for everyone.   I think this post details a good basic blueprint for what makes a good manager.

Fourth at bat is a post about the lending site Kiva from Tim Andrews of ASI.    I love this sort of stuff,  and I think sites like these can make such a difference.   I know, when I was struggling,  there were people who helped me out,  and I always believe we should pay that sort of help forward.  Kiva, and other sites that do similar things, are a great way to help others.   Keep in mind,  you can also pay it forward by sharing your knowledge and experience.  If you’ve had success,  share a bit of it with someone else.

Fifth on the docket is this hilarious post – told in gifs,  from Urban Threads.    The subject is Christmas crafting and it’s hilarious.   I especially like the “Hulk Smash” gif, because who hasn’t felt like that on occasion?  I know the Christmas work is probably over for most everybody now,  but I still think this is worth sharing.

Sixth in the batting order is a post from Peter Shankman about how your business can be better than everyone else’s this holiday season.   I think most of these tips apply whether it’s the holiday season or not.   I especially like the advice about knowing your customers –  since this is something I preach in regard to social media all  the time.   He also makes a really good point about the fact that customer expectations have sunk so low that just doing what’s expected can be a win.   A great deal of good food for thought here.

 

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29th August 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 8/29/14

roundup2Since I posted on the EnMart Twitter feed asking where people look for inspiration this morning,  I thought that it might be a good idea to do a blog round-up and point out some of the inspiring things I’ve found lately.

First up is an post that makes you think from All Things Embroidery.   The question being discussed is whether or not you would do embroidery work for a company or organization with whom you don’t agree or who’s aims you don’t support.   The blogger comes down on the side of “business is business”,  but I know other business owners who have refused work because they didn’t like the business or organization that was offering the work.   If a business or organization that didn’t coincide with your particular beliefs came to you,  would you do the work, or would you decline?   It’s an interesting question.

Second at bat is a post on speed techniques for handbags.   Since bags are a big seller for many people,  particularly with a monogram,  getting them done quickly is always a benefit.   Creating handbags in less time is also a very good thing,  the faster you make them the faster they can be sold. There are some very cool ideas here,  and the finished bag is quite nice.

Third on the list is a post from Retail Minded about how to make decisions decisively.   The one tip that got me in this list was “embrace ambiguity”.   I always want to know what all the possible consequences are and how things are going to work out.   Ambiguity is a tough things for me.    I also like the advice about slowing down when you’re making decisions.   Sometimes we’re so caught up in getting things done that we simply jump to a conclusion and a decision too quickly.   All these tips are useful.

Fourth in the line up is a post from the Stitchworks blog about why businesses fail.   This echoes the article in Stitches Magazine on the same topic.   I have to agree that lack of marketing is definitely one reason why businesses don’t succeed.   You have to let people know that you’re out there before they will buy what you have to sell.   I also agree that underselling your work is dangerous and can be a big problem for this industry.

In the fifth slot we have a post that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.   I think the issue of creative people undervaluing their work is an epidemic,  which is why I love the “We are $ew Worth It”  movement.   Creative people,  whether they quilt, embroider,  draw,  sew or write,  need to value their own work before anyone else will.  It’s also up to us to change the public perception that handmade is easy or isn’t worth that much.   We’re artists and should be treated as such.

Sixth on the docket we have a post from John Morgan about asking the right questions not the easy questions.  As someone who is passionate about helping people learn and grow their businesses,  I love this post.   I think he’s right,  so often we don’t ask the questions that will tell us what we really want or need to know because we’re afraid of looking stupid or vulnerable,  or of being too personal.   The only way to learn is to ask,  and the better the questions you ask,  the better you will become.

 

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16th May 2014

Friday Blog Round-Up 5/16/14

roundup2Haven’t done one of these in a while,  but got the urge today.   Let’s see what’s out there for me to share that’s useful and/or helpful.

First up today,  I’m spotlighting one of my own posts, mostly because I think it touches on a topic that is problematic for a lot of people.   In this post I discuss the art of the unfollow,  and how to determine when and why you should unfollow someone.     I know from the seminars I did this year that figuring out who to follow and who to unfollow can be tough,  and I intended this post to provide some guidelines and advice for the times when you realize that someone doesn’t need to be cluttering up your feed.   If you’re using social media for business purposes,  you have a specific reason for being on whatever platform you’re on,  and that reason should extend to who you do, or don’t, follow.

Second at bat is a piece from Erich Campbell about educating your customers.    I like this post because it points out that you can’t assume that customers know what you can do, you have to show them.    The show and tell shouldn’t, however, only involve what you can do,  it should involve information about what you can’t do and why.   The more educated your customers are,  the better able they are to appreciate your expertise and understand your pricing structure.   There’s a lot of meat in this post and Erich makes some very good points.

Third on a list is a story mentioned on a blog (Stahl’s) but I chose to link to the full article from the New York Times instead.   I like getting behind the scenes glimpses of how things are done,  and this glimpse of how the shirts are made for the NFL draft is very interesting.   It never occurred to me that shirts would have to be made in the small space of time between when the draft pick is announced and when the person hits the stage.   It’s interesting to read about how that’s done.

Fourth in the queue  is another behind the scenes piece,  this one from Urban Threads.   I’m an unabashed Urban Threads fan,  so getting to see how a design goes from concept to finished embroidery file was interesting to me.    I especially like seeing all the different ideas they start with before narrowing it down to the design that will be used.  I remember going through that process when designing what would be come the EnMart logo.    Winnowing it down from many to one can be torturous.

Fifth in line is a piece in praise of reading.   I taught myself to read when I was four and I’ve been devouring the printed (and now digital) word ever since,  and I can’t say enough about the benefits of reading.    This blog discussed two myths about reading,  one that people are reading less (not true) and one about finding the time to read.     The post points out that we make time for the things that are important to us.   Staying informed and educated is important, so make time to read!

Sixth is a post about what makes you memorable.  In this case,  the post is asking in a social media context,  but it’s a good question for anyone who is building a personal brand or a brand around a business they own.   What makes you stand out,  what will stick with people after they’ve left your business or your presence,  what is the first thing people will mention when they speak of you?   It’s a good question to ask and something to consider.   These days everything contributes to a person’s brand and reputation,  so you need to be aware of what you want your brand and reputation to be.

Finally, just because I think it’s cool, this  piece from the blog for Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine,  which turns a multi-needle embroidery machine into a work of art.   I love when ordinary items that we use so often we don’t even see them anymore are examined from a different perspective.

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3rd January 2014

Friday Blog Round-Up 1/3/14

Cowboy Twirling LassoWow,  the first post of the New Year!  I want to wish everyone a happy, prosperous and productive 2014!    Here are some things,  both some old favorites and some new items, that will hopefully help you achieve those goals.

First up,  we have 10 Tips to Increase your Productivity from Joyce Jagger.    Joyce knows her stuff and these tips will help make you more productive as an embroiderer.   I especially like the tips about maintenance.    A well maintained machine is a productive one,  and allotting time each morning and on Friday afternoons to make sure your machines are well maintained will pay off in increased productivity with less down time.

Second on the list,  we have a post from Fashion Incubator “One Way Or Another, It’s Going to Hurt“.   I think I like this post because it’s on the same theme as a post I did for the DecQuorum blog about the downsides of working for yourself.    Neither my post,  nor this post,  say that working for yourself and running your own business is a bad idea,  both posts just point out the fact that there are costs to be paid if you’re an entrepreneur,  just as there are if you work for someone else.   I think we all need a reminder about this every once in a while.  It’s easier to think the grass is always greener wherever you aren’t,  and a bit of realism always helps.

Third at bat,  we have a replay of a post from Erich Campbell outlining some basic digitizing skills for non digitizers.  Since I see requests on Facebook all the time for designs to be digitized or altered so they can be stitched out more smoothly,  I thought this post was a good one to include.    Every embroiderer is not,  nor do all of them want to be digitizers,  but knowing some basic skills can save you time and effort when you run into a problem design.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Retail Minded about how to deal with upset customers.   This task is something no one likes to do,  but handling an upset customer the right way can help save a situation that might otherwise be unpleasant for you and your company.   What I like about this post is the emphasis on listening to the customer.   It isn’t enough to put a bandage on the situation,  you have to know why the customer is angry and what they want before you can resolve the situation satisfactorily.

Fifth in line is a post from John Morgan about why you should share your success and your knowledge.    One of the things I like best about the decorating community is how willing most people are to share what they know and to help others.   Hoarding your nuggets of knowledge doesn’t protect you from competition and it doesn’t keep your business safe.  Sharing and forming relationships and helping others is the way to true success.   This post illustrates that beautifully.

Finally,  we have a post from Peter Shankman about a simple thing that could totally capsize your whole marketing and promotional programs.     We all like reviews,  and people who sign up for our mailing lists and those who leave recommendations,  but how often are we checking to make sure the mechanisms by which people can do those things work?  It’s a small thing,  but it could mean the difference between a great review and no review at all.    If you want people to review you and help spread the word about your company on social media,  make sure you’ve given them the tools to do so.

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27th December 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 12/27/13

roundupIt seemed only right to end this year of blogging with a Friday Blog Round-Up.  Sometimes I get tired of the sound of my own voice, and it’s fun to share what other people have to say.

First up is a post from Eileen’s Blog from the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.  This post details how to stitch lettering on fur.  Judging by the number of embroidered Christmas stocking pictures I’ve seen this year,  a lot of people have been doing this sort of thing.   It’s definitely a post to bookmark and pull out for next year.

Second on the docket is a discussion of the skills every retail team member must have.   These skills also apply to those working your checkout station at a trade show,  or really anyone who deals with customers.  A lot of these skills also apply if you’re doing customer service over the phone.  I especially like the advice about not getting flustered when you have multiple people needing assistance.   That’s a tough one,  but if you can stay calm,  your customers will be calmer too.

Third on the list  is a post I really like,  probably because it dispenses some tough love.   When you’re a creative,  however you choose to express that,   the road to success can be winding and there can be a lot of obstacles.   John Morgan’s post points out some self created obstacles to avoid if you want to be successful.   I definitely agree with what he says,  particularly the advice about negative environment.  Nothing can sap your creativity and ambition faster than people who tell you that you can’t do something and why you’ll never succeed.

Fourth at bat is the best discussion I’ve seen so far about Facebook’s new algorithm and what it will mean to company pages and marketers.   There’s been a lot of ranting lately about the changes Facebook has made and how it hurts company pages but,  as this post points out,  Facebook wasn’t conceived as an advertising venue,  it was conceived as a way to connect with friends.  Facebook is doing what they need to do to keep their core users happy and that makes sense.

Finally,  if you have plans to up your game and your profits in 2014,  you need to read this post from Peter Shankman.   Personal power is becoming more an more important in today’s world,  since we all have a platform now and we all can influence others.    This is another post I really like, and I’m going to start practicing some of these techniques in my own life.  I thought it might interest some of the rest of you as well.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and truly amazing 2014!

 

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29th November 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 11/29/13

roundupI hope everyone in the U.S. had a lovely Thanksgiving,  and everyone in other parts of the world had a lovely Thursday.   It seemed like a good idea to finish out the week with a Friday Blog Round-Up,  since I hadn’t done one in a while.

First up we have a post about customer supplied garments.    This subject is a bone of contention and a point of discussion for many who decorate garments for a living.    Some embroiderers flatly will not take work with anything customer supplied.  Others do,  but have a waste policy and make customers sign a waiver regarding damaged garments.   The decision you make on this subject will be unique to your business,  but this post can give you some advice and food for thought while you’re making that decision.

Second on the list was have a post from Erich Campbell about the main reason you’re not starting new projects.  A lot of times people will say it’s because they don’t have the time,  or the space,  or the money, or the materials,  but generally the real reason for hesitation is fear.  We’re all a bit afraid of trying something new,  and certainly many of us are afraid of failure.  This post examines that fear and helps you move past it.    If you want more ideas on how to get around your fear,  you can also listen to this discussion Erich and I had on the 2 Regular Guys podcast.

Third at bat,  we have a great post from Retail Minded on how to capitalize on Small Business Saturday,  which is November 30 this year.  Some of these tips will apply only to brick and mortar shops,  but others can be used for online shops as well.   Remember also,  to practice what you preach when encouraging people to shop small business.  Make sure you support small businesses in your community and online as well.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Sadia’s Blog,  about adding a bit of zen to your embroidery.   I like this idea very much.    The end result is very pretty and it’s a fun technique.   She also gives you design files in the post so you can try the technique yourself.

Fifth in the queue  is a post from Urban Threads.  I’m not a fan of Black Friday sales,  and don’t generally do a lot about them,  but Urban Threads has put their entire store on sale.   Since I’m a fan of their designs and their company,  how could I not share that?  Everything is on sale until Sunday, December 8,  so stock up now!

Since I’ve already mentioned one podcast this week (listen to the 2 Regular Guys podcast every Friday, people,  it’s good!),  I don’t feel weird about recommending a second one as well.    Scott Stratten from UnMarketing recently started doing a weekly podcast.  I have to confess,  I haven’t had the time to listen to many of these yet,  but what I’ve heard is good and definitely helpful.   If you have some time,  check these out.

Last on the list we have a post I just love about how to be married to an entrepreneur.    Many who read this blog have their own business or are working toward taking their art to the next level or doing something that may not involve a normal 9 to 5 and a steady paycheck.  This post is a great read for the spouses,  family and friends of such people.   Lots of good advice!

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27th September 2013

The Friday Blog Round – Up 9/27/13

roundupYes,  I know,  it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.   Believe me the spirit is willing,  but the time just isn’t always available.  Hopefully I can find some good stuff to share with you to make up for my lack of posts these last few months.

First up we have a post from All Things Embroidery which speaks about the importance of teaching your customers about digitizing and what’s entailed in digitizing a design.   If customers understand that changes to artwork and stitch count can also change counts and production time,  they might be more likely to keep such changes to a minimum,  or to make sure that digitizing happens only when the artwork is finalized and approved.   This post makes some good points about why helping your customer understand all that is important.

Second on the docket we have a post from Fashion Incubator that I really like.  The topic is people who are benignly arrogant,  those people who,  while nice,  just don’t listen and are always certain they know better than anyone else.    I’m sure if each of us were to think about it,  we can pinpoint some people who suffer from this problem in our lives.  To me,  this post is a good reminder for two reasons.   One,  it reminds us that such people do exist and everyone encounters them.  Second,  it reminds us not to be one of these people.   Always listen,  always be open to learning from anyone, and never be sure you have all the answers because it’s likely you don’t.

Third at bat we have a post from Retail Minded about photographing your merchandise.   These days knowing how to take good photographs of your products is more important than ever.   With the advent of Pinterest, Facebook and other sites where you can share photos,  having good product photography can be vital to selling your products or your work.   It isn’t enough to snap a picture with your cell phone camera and post it online.  Good quality photography that puts your products in their best light is very necessary,  and this post will give you some tips on how to take the photos you need.

Fourth on the list is a post from Tim Andrews from ASI.   I’m including this post on the list for two reasons.  First,  I like the fact ASI pays their interns,  as a lot of places don’t do that.   I’ve never understood why people should be expected to work for free simply because they’re in college or high school.   I also like the attitude this post takes toward interns,  they’re not free help to fetch coffee,  they can contribute and provide ideas and new insights.  That’s the way it should be.  Second,  I like this post because it talks about reaching out to those who mentored you back when you were starting out.  I think,  a lot of the time,  we forget the people who helped us become the professionals we are today.  This post is a good reminder to remember and thank those people when you can.

Fifth in the line-up today is a post that harks back to what I said in the podcast on social media I did last week.  (Did you listen?  I’ll include a link at the end of the post.)   One of the things I talked about was being your genuine self and being a well rounded person not just a customer service or business owning drone.  This post illustrates that point beautifully,  as well as making me want to do my banking with Simple.

There’s more I want to share,  but I think I’ll save some of it for next week, since I also want to share some stuff I’ve been doing.   Since I write the blog,  I think it’s only fair that I get one paragraph that’s all me, me, me!    First,  a link to the podcast I mentioned in the previous paragraph.  I’m really pleased with how this came out and had so much fun with Aaron and Terry.    Second,  a link to my first article for Printwear Magazine which came out in the October issue.  I’m so pleased with this as well, and I think Printwear did an awesome job designing the article.    Finally,  a link to my latest blog post for the DecQuorum blog,  which is about an important subject, disaster plans for your business.   If you don’t have one,  you should get one made,  because you never know what’s going to happen.

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14th June 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/14/13

roundupFirst up,  a great idea from Designs in Machine Embroidery ,  an embroidered care package for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  My mother died of liver cancer,  and I remember how she tried to make the chemo appointments less tedious and more bearable for herself and those around her.  A care package like this one would have helped,  and it’s also a great way to show support and love for those who are battling cancer.   It’s a great idea!

Second on the list,  Stahl’s is having a Summer of Bling design contest.  If you use Stahl’s Glitter Flake product,  you might want to consider entering.   The prize is a rhinestone covered heat press.  While I’m not entirely sure about the rhinestones,  the heat press would definitely come in handy.

Third at bat,  SnapRetail is offering 12 webinars this summer,  all of which are aimed at brick and mortar retailers, but many of which might be helpful to people who sell online as well.    The buy local webinar may be of interest to those of you who do have a brick and mortar shop.   The webinars on e-mail design and working with bloggers could apply to anyone who sells whether they make those sales online or offline.   I betting most of these webinars wouldn’t be longer than an hour,  and isn’t a hour a wise investment if it helps you build your business?

Fourth on the docket is a wonderful quilt project from Urban Threads.  It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the designs from Urban Threads and really their whole attitude toward embroidery.   This quilt is yet another example of them taking a subject,  in this case insects,  and turning it on its ear.  Best of all,  they offer a free pattern for the quilt at the end of the blog post in which it’s discussed.   Hmm, wonder who I can talk into making this quilt for me?

Fifth in line is a post about content marketing that I wanted to share simply because I agree so much with what it says.  A lot of times businesses who market focus on creating awesome Facebook pages or fascinating Twitter feeds but don’t carry that energy and commitment through to things like customer service or their website.   This post makes the point that good content is only a small portion of the battle,  it’s what you do day in and day out in every aspect of your business that really matters.

Finally,  I wanted to share two pieces of EnMart related information this week.   First,  EnMart is having a webinar on June 25, and you’re all invited.   If you embroider and are considering adding sublimation to your business,  this webinar will be very helpful.    Second,  it’s time to rate the Stitches Power 75 list again.    EnMart is on this list, as our some of our other industry favorites (Urban Threads, NNEP, Erich Campbell).   Please take a minute and go vote all of us as more influential.   We’d certainly appreciate your support.

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