I've gotten several emails asking for more information in regard to expanding the horizons, moving on, reaching out, (I refuse to use the eggs and basket analogy, tireder then the deadest of horses) and so forth.
So I thought I'd share with you what I know, it isn't a lot, but, if I can do it you can. Mostly because I hate change. I'd stay with a venue for months (well, I did really) after things go downhill, in the face of all reason, remarking on the pretty colors the implosion casts rather then move on.
Because I hate change and I'm kinda lazy. Maybe it will get better, right? But at some point you become the girl who is always complaining about her boyfriend and never leaves. We were all her or knew her, or both, at some point and let's face it, that's annoying and pathetic and at some point everyone stops listening and avoids you. Not unlike a venue, when you do finally leave, there's a half dozen dewy eyed girls vying for your place.
I say welcome to it.
Venues can be a good source of revenue, advertising, etc. But I do not believe they should ever be the end all be all basket in which those tired eggs are placed. Because for one thing, it dooms you to hearing that analogy over and over and another, that venue can just decide it doesn't like you anymore, it wants to change everything, you should pay more (sounds like that boyfriend, huh?) or as some have experienced, shut you down without rhyme or recourse. Which does happen to perfectly legitimate sellers.
And there you are. Years, possibly, invested, gone. Business cards, wasted and no one at what they call support seems to give a flying rats ass. (Note: This didn't happen to me, I have seen it happen to others. So there's no personal bitterness here, relax, you viewing cupcakes, go back and frost something.)
So, what did I do? After waiting much to long?
1. I bought my domain name.
This is crucial for many reasons, but one of the coolest being business cards. If you are at or switch venues you can forward the domain name. No more crossing out the venue's name so you can still use the cards (This I DO know from personal experience.)
You own it and that's cool. It's actually quite the motivator, feeling all official and stuff.
There's other reasons but I've only had one cup of coffee and it's before 8 am so hold onto those for now.
2. Get a website. There are a few hosts. I used godaddy.com for domain registering (great customer service) I would recommend everyone pay the extra few dollars for privacy. Otherwise anyone can go to whois.com and get your address, personal info. This leaves you open for all kinds of online unpleasantness. Yes, there are people that vile. Trust me.
I ended up going with pappashop.com for both the GMA and the Uppityminions site. They cost me $12 a month and have great customer service (in fact once you get free from some of these venues you realise most everyone does) and while I am tech ignorant, I was able to do it.
Once you get the hang of it it's really one page listing. I found Pappa to be the most recommended and the most affordable. You get neat things like stats, inventory management, everything you wish that venue had.
I used enmariepaper from Etsy for my templates as I didn't really like any of the free ones, her prices are good, her service is excellent and she will load everything for you.
You don't get the traffic, but, chances are if you've made it this far along this post, you aren't getting the traffic there either. Even with a venue, a site is a good idea. For branding, for security and you can redirect your customers there (all within the TOU's of the venue of course).
Pappashop comes with a cart, it's idiot proof and I should know. I've attached my blog. Actually I couldn't figure out how, so I paid the $5 to do it, but you probably good. They have tons of tutorials.
Even better is to get together with a few friends like Uppityminions.com did. We share dues, promotions responsibilities and are there top support one another. Even two or three people who sell different things, ideally, will give you a bigger presence then being out there one your own. That being said, lots are successful being out on their own, it really depends on you and what motivates you.
The cooperative setting will either go wonderfully as people sort out who will lead, who has what strength (we are fortunate to have some really tech savvy folks) each member has and so on or be a flaming hot mess as egos battle each other and everyone assumes the Little Red Hen will do everything.
Don't expect your first attempt to work. Ours did, part luck, part persona and a big dose of desperation as we watched out venue screw with us over and over and over again while our income dropped. Dramatically. We've had bumps and bitchings and will again as we continue on, but the understanding is it's the way a dynamic group works.
You will be at odds with one another over something, along the way. We handle that by voting on shop issues and handling personal disputes privately. A train wreck on a forum is entertaining, but one on a team is a disaster and puts everyone is an awkward position. Delegation is important too. Crucial even and a good team has responsibilities spread over the board.
Expect to end up with a core group as others drop off for one reason or another, there is strength in numbers, but I think more so in determination.
If you go it along, with enough determination you can kick as much ass as a team of ten. That being said, still have a group or community to run things by, get support from, bitch too. It can be overwhelming out there in the great webby beyond.
So, that's as far as I've gotten. I'll post as things that may be helpful to you come up. I'm happy to answer any questions as best I can. I think too often we crafty folk underestimate just how pragmatic we can be when we have to. You can create and succeed. This is something I remind myself of daily, sometimes hourly and on bad days several times in the course of a minute.
But I shall never rely on a venue again (Scarlett O'Hara voice) as my sole source of revenue or presence. Rather I will see it as a mutually beneficial relationship, when needed, not as a dependent one.
Uppity is still a work in progress, but feel free to check to out to get a feel of a group dynamic. I expect it will change a bit here and there as we learn more, but the fundamentals will remain the same. Our goal is to present a unified group without well, becoming The Borg. So far, so good.
(reminds self to do bio for UM page)
As for me, I will continue to let my listings expire on the venue I have lost total and utter faith in. I'll leave my shop open, hope springs eternal and all that, but even if it were to turn around, no, I'd not go back to it (or any venue) as my one and only ever again.
Monday I'll post some ideas about promoting from both myself and the team. That is a work in progress but I do have some ideas, to be frank I've never promoted before (see above comment regarding lazy) and both the sole and the team site present challenges. But it's good stuff, you know?