How to Include Your Indie Business on Your Resume in a Professional Way

As an indie business owner, you most likely take your business seriously, considering all of the time, money, and effort you put into your business. You should not sell yourself short when it comes to acknowledging all of your hard work. If you find yourself in the position of job hunting, it makes sense to include your indie business on your resume if it is at all relevant or if you haven't been doing any other work recently. You have been working hard as a business owner, and all of that time and experience means something. It is important to include your business as professionally as possible. You should concentrate on what you have accomplished with your business, and not focus on the fact that you are working from home.

So first, what do you call yourself or your position? You could say:
  • Small business owner
  • freelancer
  • sole proprietor
  • self-employed
  • online business owner
  • independent business owner
  • independent artisan
  • self-supporting artist
  • designer
  • small
  • owner/artist: (name of business)
  • business name: position
  • full-time
  • part-time
Choose whichever position/title seems most fitting for you; however, if you are going to call yourself a sole proprietor or small business owner, you should be legally registered as such.

Once you have decided on a job title/position, you can also include the name of your business, and how long you've been at it.

Think about the position you are applying for. How relevant is your indie business to this position? Applying for a desk job? You could mention your customer service skills or your computer skills. Applying to teach a craft workshop or local art class? Mention your screenprinting know-how, photography skills, or your knitting. Applying for a bookkeeping job? You could mention how you were in charge of bookkeeping and budgeting in your successful small business, and which software you used or are efficient at.

What are some other skills or responsibilities a small, indie, or online business owner possesses?
  • product design
  • copywriting
  • marketing
  • budgeting
  • bookkeeping
  • product photographer
  • photo editor
  • customer service
  • public relations
  • advertising
  • web design
  • mailing shipments
  • quality control
  • manufacturing of products
  • filing
  • scheduling
  • your own trade skills
  • inventory
  • online sales
  • regional/local/international sales
  • time management
  • typing skills
  • software proficiency
I'm sure there is more that I cannot think of right now.

So when you go to describe these skills and proficiencies on your resume, you have two options. You could include a small, short, and sweet descriptive paragraph, or a bullet point list. Some people prefer to describe their skills, but many employers prefer a list of accomplishments, which you couldn't have achieved without your skills that would in effect be unnecessary to name.

What are some possible achievements?
  • Your sales numbers
  • the percentage of which you increased sales over a period of time
  • your turnaround time
  • your positive feedback percentage
  • your return/exchange rate
  • how many product lines you created
  • how many wholesale accounts you have
  • awards
  • any other accomplishment you feel is relevant
An example of a finalized resume listing could be:

Designer/Small Business Owner (October 2007 - present): Founded and managed an independent design business, which saw a growth of 150% between 2008 and 2009; <1% return/exchange rate; 100% positive feedback based on product quality, shipping speed, and customer service. Responsibilities include product design; bookkeeping; budget planning; marketing; packing and shipping products; writing product descriptions.

The bottom line is that being a small, indie business owner shows that you are self-motivated, driven, show initiative, are hard-working, organized, a planner, and a problem solver. When you decide to include your business on your resume, you should highlight your skills through your accomplishments, and most importantly, be confident!

Any employers out there want to chime in? Any experienced artisans or small business owners have tips they want to include?

Handmade and Vintage Dream Office :: The Color Palette

Although I am still searching for desktop accessories, wall art, lamps, and curtains for my dream office, the item photos I have already found for desks, storage, and seating have inspired the color palette for the office. I'll be using this as a base for searching for items for the remaining categories, since no doubt they will be very full of possibilities.

Color names are (clockwise from top left corner): Aqua Island; Hurricane; Satin Linen; Light Wisteria; Mountain Mist; Tradewind; Razzmatazz; Silver Sand; Vivid Violet; and White center.

Life's To-Do List: My 30 Before 30 - Experiences and Skills to Master

Earlier this week I wrote about a "30 Before 30" list I found online, and how it inspired me to sort out what I want to experience and learn in the next 5 years. Here is what I came up with:
  1.  Learn to crochet
  2. Bake and decorate a three layer cake
  3. Take a Wilton class
  4. Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago
  5. Drive around all of Michigan's shoreline and photograph the variances
  6. Write a book (doesn't have to get published)
  7. Get paid for a piece of writing
  8. Bake my own loaf of bread
  9. Grow my own hot peppers
  10. Buy our first house
  11. Start grad school, survey a grad class, or start a grad certificate program
  12. Have my own office
  13. Take my girls to a working farm to see where food comes from
  14. Paint an entire room myself
  15. Buy a sewing machine
  16. Make a dress for both of my girls
  17. Reach my ideal healthy weight (I just had 2 babies in 2 years... eek!)
  18. Have my china out of its storage bins and displayed
  19. Take the girls on a ferry to Mackinac Island
  20. Visit one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historical sites
  21. Donate blood (I've always had a fear of needles)
  22. Visit Abraham Lincoln's tomb
  23. Visit Yellowstone
  24. Wallpaper a wall
  25. Make ravioli from scratch
  26. Get my bob haircut back
  27. Buy something vintage on Etsy (I've only purchased handmade & supplies!)
  28. Try calligraphy
  29. Re-learn how to knit 
  30. Start the process of becoming a doula

Effective Online Selling Series :: Part 7 - Shop Sections

One of the biggest mistakes an online shop can make, in my opinion, is not using their sections (product categories) effectively.

Let's say I search Etsy for pillows, and found a pillow in a style that I like. I click on the item, take a closer look, and decide to see what other pillows this shop has. I look up to the top of the listing for the section that item is filed under. All too often, I either see no section designated at all, or not all of the pillows are categorized under this section. I can tell by adding up all of the items numbered in each section, and comparing that to the total number of items the site says the shop has listed. This is bad because I am sure I am not the only shopper who likes to go directly to the section I am looking for, and not have to browse through all 100+ items in shop.

Why use your sections? Shoppers are usually looking for a specific item. When shoppers browse by sections, they are able to easily compare similar items. Don't make a shopper's browsing experience any harder than it has to be: categorize your items into sections, and make sure every item is included in a section so it is not missed.

So, here are some tips and ideas to help make sure you are using your shop sections to their fullest potential.

Naming Sections

Cute section names may be more memorable, but they might not be the most effective. Naming sections for the actual types of items they include, rather than color or theme, may be more effective; at least, this is based on feedback I read from shoppers on the Etsy forum.

  • Example: Many item types. If you sell a wide assortment of items, such as vintage, break your sections into categories such as "housewares", "decor", "accessories", "toys", "apparel", etc.

  • Example: One form of art. If you sell a specific type of art form, break your sections down into the types of that art form you have available. If you sell jewelry, break your sections down into "necklaces", "earrings", "rings", "sets", etc.
  •  
  • Example: One type of item. If you only sell handbags, break your sections down into the types of handbags you sell: "clutches", "shoulder bags", "coin purses", "totes", etc.
  •  
  • Example: One type of item. If you only sell one item, such as stationery sets, themes or colors can be acceptable. If a shopper knows all they are going to find in your shop are stationery sets, it could be helpful to have sections by color: "Natural", "Black and White", "Blues and Greens"; or by theme: "Formal Stationery", "Personalized Stationery", "Everyday Stationery", "Whimsical Stationery", etc.
  •  
  • Example: One medium in shop. Sections can be named after your seasonal or annual collections. For example, if you are an illustrator and you create a new line of illustrations each season, your sections could be named for these collections, such as, "A Walk in the Forest", "A Walk on the Beach", etc. Descriptive themes can be very helpful for a shopper if they know they are only going to find illustrations in the shop anyway.

Section Tips:

Bulk sorting sections. You can bulk edit your sections by clicking Your Etsy > Shop Setup > Sections and scroll down to >> Sort all your items at once (batch sorting). This is the best way to ensure that all of your items are included in the proper section.


Section titles as long as you want. When you create a section title with the "Sections" tool, you are limited in the number of characters you can have in the title. There is a way that you can create a section title as long as you want. First, make sure you have not used all of your 10 allotted sections. Create a new listing. When you get to page 3, where you set a price for your item and categorize it into a section, select the "New Section" option. A box will pop open, and you can then create a section title as long as you want - no limit!

Section planning. Sections cannot be cross-referenced. Maybe you make jewelry, so you have single necklaces, and necklace/earring sets. Plan your sections out ahead of time, and choose the very best section possible for each item. Look at your shop as if you were a buyer, looking for a specific item, and rate your shop on how easy it actually is to find specific products.

Rearranging your Sections. You can "rank" your sections in any order you like. Some do it alphabetically, some rank by popularity, and some don't rank at all. This is your personal preference, but if you have a section for "Christmas Items", you may want to rank it towards the top when December nears so that shoppers see it first-thing when they enter your store.

So, that is my advice on shop sections. Do you have any ideas or tips to share?

Looking for a new craft? Which Craft Fits Your Personality Quiz


Short & sweet personality quiz tells you which type of craft you should be dabbling in based on your traits and preferences. My result:

Play With Clay
You're a down-to-earth, back-to-nature person who doesn't mind making (and cleaning up!) little messes if there's a big payoff. You love to dive into a project with gusto and finish it quickly. Your best bet? Pottery, ceramics or sculpture.

Tackling 120 Websites to Promote on: #1

For over two years now, I have had a list of places (now up to 120) to promote your business online. You can see that list in this previous Indie Pretty post. Once upon a time I had a presence on many of those sites, but as my business changed and my priorities changed, that presence fizzled out.

I think it is time now to give it a second run. I have re-defined myself in a way, and it is time to reflect that. My new goal is to tackle every site on this list, and for the sites that I already have a presence on, I am going to update them. This is experimental in nature, and hopefully my experiences at these sites over time will help you decide if it is even worth your time to take part in them.

The first website on the list is Squidoo. Squidoo is actually pretty cool - you can make money from having pages or "lenses" on this site. The lense I have made has nothing to do with my online business, but I do many a small monthly sum with it.

I built a page for my business' previous name, Ashleybug Designs, a couple of years ago. At some point I will make one for Ashley Pahl Designs, but at this time, I want to make a lense for Indie Pretty.

First, you tell Squidoo what your lense will be about. The second step is determining what type of lense you are making. Is it informational? Do you want to make money off of it? Is it meant to be more of a list?











Third, you name your lense, choose a top category (hobbies, arts, business, etc.) and give your lense a URL.

The fourth step is to choose tags or keywords for your lense so that others can find it easily through search. I chose handmade shopping, indie business, and craft blogging.

Next, Squidoo takes you to your lense, where you can see a layout of the page, add in a description, pictures, and modules.









Modules are the tools that build content on your lense, such as link lists, photo galleries, text, Twitter, voters, etc. Build relevant content on your lense. On my lense, I would like to have a blog roll of other handmade bloggers, photos of and links to my favorite Etsy shops and items, and maybe add a feed from my blog. A guest book would also be a great tool to get readers to interact with my page, and for me to get to know my readers.

I went for a text module (for my intro and description); an RSS module for my blog; an Etsy module; a Twitter module; a poll module; a link list module, and a guest book.

The RSS module allows for my recent blog posts to show up on my Squidoo lense. The Etsy module allows me to display either my own Etsy items, my favorites, recent items, featured items, or front page items. I opted for featuring my favorite items, since Indie Pretty is all about sharing what is great in the handmade world.

The Twitter module shows my 4 most recent tweets (you can set this to whichever number you want). I setup the guest book module so that others can leave me comments and links to their own shops or blogs. I also set up a poll, which will help me do some research for my blog.

Squidoo also adds a table of contents to your lense so browsers can see at the top what is on your page, in case they don't bother to scroll all the way down.

Here is a picture of my final product. Click to enlarge, or just visit the site at: http://www.squidoo.com/IndiePretty


































I just finished my page. It took about 45 minutes to get it exactly the way I wanted it, with all the the pictures, text, and modules. I think Squidoo has the potential to act as a springboard website for your business. If you want to give customers or friends a base website for all of your shops, blogs, social networking profiles, Flickr photos, Etsy favorites, and basically anything else you can think of, Squidoo is a great platform. It is also great because it allows others to connect with you on your lense if you want them to. Your lense might also be rated and favorited by viewers, which will help spread your lense around Squidoo and possibly bring in more visitors.

On the down side, I feel that if you already have your own website (outside of Etsy), a Squidoo lense may not be the greatest use of your time, as you probably have already established ways to bring people to your self-hosted website.

In a few weeks I will update with more feedback about my Squidoo experience, tell you whether or not it was worth my time, and grade it on its usefulness.

More Tips for the Indie Business


Perhaps some of these ideas are old news, or perhaps some of them are just a reminder. When creating an action plan for promoting your business (which is a really organized and motivational idea), keep some of these tips in mind:

1. Print fliers for Etsy or your own shop and post them on bulletin boards at your local post office, grocery store, coffee shop, library, etc. Get permission to do so when necessary - don't be spammy!

2. Post your Etsy Mini in your blog. If you have a friend with a blog, maybe they will post your Etsy Mini, too.

3. Do business card swaps with other Etsy sellers.

4. Submit samples or freebies to people making goodie bags for craft shows and art fairs.

5. Only if it is allowed, post your Etsy shop link in forums you belong to, as your signature.

6. Put your Etsy URL in your e-mail signature

7. Always put a business card in your outgoing packages. Perhaps offer promo codes or coupons with them.

8. Keep some business cards with you at all. Times. You never know when Etsy will come up in conversation, or if what you make is wearable, wear your product and when people ask about it, hand them your business card.

9. If you're too shy to promote yourself, your mom, sister, or best friend probably would! Give them your business cards or samples to give away if the opportunity arises (such as in the above situations).

10. Write a press release about your handmade business for your local paper.

11. Create a newsletter. Provide a link for people to subscribe to your newsletter on your blog, in your shop announcement, on your receipts, or on your business card.

12. Does your local paper also have a website with classifieds? Post an ad for your shop. Many times these online local classifieds are free.

13. Get a booth at your local Farmer's Market. If you know someone who already has a booth, give them a display with your business cards and brochures, if they're willing.

14. Use your favorites as your gift registry, or try http://MyHandMadeRegistry.com instead! Get others notified and interested in buying handmade.

15. Comment on the blogs of others, but only with substance - don't post and run! Make sure to really read their posts and comment thoughtfully.


16. Every now and then, comment in the Etsy forum or in the Etsy Storque. It helps to make your shop more visible to potential buyers, and it can help you build connections with other artisans.

Spring Clean Your Online Shop!

Just as you clean your house every spring, your shop might need cleaning, too! Time to clear out all of the old and outdated, and start fresh.

Shop Announcement
. Take a moment to review your shop announcement. Remove any dated information, such as past shop vacation dates, old shipping deadlines, and irrelevant sale information. Freshen it up with a new greeting for spring, and try to keep it sweet and simple.

Shop Policies. Revise your policies. Perhaps you now find some of your shop policies unnecessary or a turn-off to buyers. Don't sound too paranoid or rigid - it may scare buyers off! Sound personable, yet firm and not open to interpretation. Add any new information you may have learned by experience while selling over the last year.

Profile. Give this a big update, whether much has changed or not. Perhaps you've been featured on a blog or website? Add a link to it. Maybe you won an art contest or an award? Tell your customers about it! Perhaps you got your degree this year, started a blog, had a child, or moved to a new city? You can mention that, too! People like to know about the artist or person behind the shop. People buy handmade for the quality and personal feel of the items, so they like to know about the person that created their purchases.

Photos. Take a good look at your photos. You don't have to re-photograph them all, but maybe just a few of the not-so-great photos. It can be very time consuming to take photos, edit them, and upload them, so it's helpful to improve as you go along. Update a few item photos now, and a few later, and eventually your whole shop will be spic-and-span. Just lighten dark photos, make crisper the blurry images, and perhaps give them all a similar background for a more "together" look for your shop.

Some tips on taking great photos:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/shop-makeover-series-feature-friendly-photos-3222/
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html

SEO and Relevancy.
Search engine optimization and relevancy search are big topics on Etsy right now. With the new shop syndication, to make your listings more easily found on Google, and search relevancy, which will change the way users search and find items on Etsy if implemented, there may or may not be a lot of maintenance you need to do for your shop's titles, tags, and descriptions. Remember: SEO is happening, and search relevancy is just in a testing phase as of now. You can find more information here:

SEO:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/search/title/seo/
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6459902
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6317342

Search Relevancy:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/search/title/search-relevancy/
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6411168
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6427192
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6452050

Review your tags. Make the most of your tags! Make sure they are as relevant as can be. Also, weed through your tags to make sure any aren't outdated, such as with "Sale" if you're not having one, or "Free Shipping" if you're not offering it anymore.

Some things to remember about tagging items:

-don't tag-stuff. You can use multiple words in a tag if they go together, like "robin's egg blue", but you can't put "Purse Clutch Handbag" all together as one tag. That's cheating! :)

-don't tag items for things they could be used for. Don't tag beads as "necklace" just because they could be used in a necklace. Don't tag a blank note card "Mother's Day" just because you could give it to your mom for Mother's Day. This annoys the heck out of browsers and shoppers.

-Don't tag an item into the wrong category. An example? I make paper goods. When I look at the paper goods category, I go Buy>Paper Goods>Cards. When I am in the card category, I don't want to see gift tags! They shouldn't be there. Neither should candy be tagged under the cupcakes category, or earrings tagged under the necklaces category.

I feel like most Etsians have the common sense not to do those things, but since I see these issues every day on the site, I feel the need to reiterate them.

What can you do with tags?

- Tag with colors used. I know I almost always search with a color in mind, and I bet a lot of others do, too.

-Tag with texture. Is your clutch silky or tweed?

-Tag with location. Not everyone knows about shop local, and might enter your hometown when they want to buy locally. Have at least one item tagged with your location so that you will show up.

- Also tag a couple items with your shop name, in case people are searching for you, but don't know that they have to select "sellers" from the drop-down menu.

- Tag by occasion. Is this item for Easter or for Halloween? Enter that here.

- Tag by season - you can mention the relevant season to use your item for, be it Spring or Winter.

- Tag by theme. Is it woodland or modern? Elegant or shabby chic? People search this way, too.

- Tag by size. Is it mini or jumbo?

You can read more about tagging on Etsy:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/seller-how-to-tag-o-rama-with-descriptive-keywords-5474/
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/etsy-success-tips-increasing-your-item-views-6806/
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6440411
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/guidelines-tips-tagging-on-etsy-281

Descriptions.
Make sure they are relevant, to the point, typo-free, and not outdated.

Banner and Avatar. Are they all that they could be? Are they attractive, not blurry, and representative of you? You can use a photo of one of your items for an avatar, perhaps one of your most recent items, to keep your shop fresh for Spring.

Color-based Career Quiz


I took this fun career quiz at CareerPath.com. I felt that the results were quite fitting for me:

Best Occupational Category

You're a CREATOR

Keywords

Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or places where they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

CREATOR OCCUPATIONS
Suggested careers are Advertising Executive, Architect, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations, Fine or Commercial Artist, Interior Decorator, Lawyer, Librarian, Musician, Reporter, Art Teacher, Broadcaster, Technical Writer, English Teacher, Architect, Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Corporate Trainer, Author, Editor, Landscape Architect, Exhibit Builder, and Package Designer.

CREATOR WORKPLACES
Consider workplaces where you can create and improve beauty and aesthetic qualities. Unstructured, flexible organizations that allow self-expression work best with your free-spirited nature.

Suggested Creator workplaces are advertising, public relations, and interior decorating firms; artistic studios, theaters and concert halls; institutions that teach crafts, universities, music, and dance schools. Other workplaces to consider are art institutes, museums, libraries, and galleries.

Week of Giveaways!



In April, Indie Pretty will be hosting a week of handmade, supply, and vintage giveaways! Are you interested in obtaining one of the coveted 5 spots? Leave a comment below! Please leave a link to your shop, and indicate which item(s) you would consider for the giveaway. I will choose 5 shops to be featured and I will promote you relentlessly. Your Etsy mini will appear on the sidebar of Indie Pretty for the duration of giveaway week. Each of the 5 shops just has to send the item directly to the winner.

Again, this contest is open to all handmade, supply and vintage shops on Etsy! The deadline to sign up for your chance to get involved is March 20th (the first day of Spring!).

The Pros and Cons of Opening a Second Etsy Shop

Whether or not to open a second online shop is a common concern for many business owners. To figure out if the pros outweigh the cons is an individual task - there is no "one size fits all." I recently wrote for Indie Smiles about the benefits, drawbacks, and tips for opening a second shop on Etsy (or whatever venue you sell at), and I'd love to hear more thoughts on the subject.

Read my article here:
http://www.indiesmiles.com/one-or-two/

My 5 Favorite Cookie Recipes

Coconut Macaroons
I made these for the holidays, but they're tasty year-round. I added color to them for an added punch of fun


The macaroons are on the left in the fluted cup; they're pink and purple

No Bake Cookies
Easy favorite from my childhood. They're always the first to go at parties.


Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chip Cookies
The oat bran is key. Sandwich them with buttercream frosting for extra YUM.


Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made a batch of these last Sunday and they were gone by Tuesday afternoon...


Russian Tea Cakes
I made these twice for Holidays 2009

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