craft business tips

Craft Business Ideas

 

Craft Marketer Newsletter 
Arts & Crafts Business Help

Issue Number 11, November 26, 2000 
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IN THIS ISSUE 
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1. Do you really need a merchant account for accepting credit
cards?
2. Tip for keeping visitors on your arts and crafts website
3. Back up your computer files or else!
4. Subscription Management 
5. Contact Information

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. We've been
experiencing a colder winter here in the mountains of New
Mexico this year and I wondered if snow was going to
keep us from getting a turkey and stuff. But we got our
shopping done and prepared a great feast. 

Seems like a lot of folks took the whole weekend off to rest. 
I can usually tell whenever everyone is doing serious
relaxation because my business comes to a stop. But that 
equals a nice break for me, too.

Since we're into the holidays, I imagine everyone who is
selling their arts and crafts is staying busy. For those who aren't
already accepting credit cards for sales, here's something you
should know about.

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1. Do you really need a merchant account for accepting 
credit cards? by James Dillehay
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Almost all arts and crafts business owners agree that having
the ability to accept credit cards means more sales and
often, larger dollar sales. I remember when I first got
my merchant account through my local bank, my craft show
revenue went up 30% to 50% after I let customers know I 
could accept credit cards.

Now, with the Internet, you almost can't afford not to 
be able to accept plastic. But what if you don't have a 
merchant account and for some reason, can't get one?

There's hope and good news! Several companies offer a 
variety of options for processing credit cards for small
and craft businesses. With some of these programs, you only
pay a percentage of each sale for the credit card 
transaction. There is no monthly charge or set up fee.

Other services can set you up with your own merchant 
account and arrange real time processing online. For 
example, someone makes a purchase from your shopping cart
and their credit card is checked to see if it is a valid
card. If so, their account is debited and your account is 
credited the amount of the sale. If not, the customer
is prompted to enter another card number.

Still other sites provide a complete ecommerce package, 
including shopping cart, merchant account and reports on
transaction activities.

How do you decide which service is right for your business?
I put together a web page with descriptions of several
reliable credit card/payment providers at:
http://www.craftmarketer.com/accepting_credit_cards.htm.

Be very cautious when selecting a cc processor. Some have
"hidden" charges you don't find out about until you're 
ready to sign up. Be sure to check out any company's 
references. Have other merchants used them? What do they
say about the service? If you can't find statements from
other users of the service, look for providers with 
testimonials from satisfied customers. Also, make sure
you know all your costs up front.

Happy Christmas selling!

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2. How to keep visitors on your website
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You may already know that most Internet browsers are in a 
hurry. How do you keep them on your site long enough to 
learn what it is you want them to buy?

One way is to construct your web pages so that links 
on your pages open up a new browser window instead
of wisking the visitor directly to the page the link points
to.

For instance, I recently redesigned my home page so that all the links
opened up new browser windows. This gives the visitor a way
to check out references they are interested in while 
leaving the crafts page open. Now a visitor can go off on
any path through my site, but they will still be able to
see the page they started from. This provides opportunities
for the visitor to linger, to read more and to follow 
other links.

Here's the HTML code to get a new browser window to open 
when someone clicks on a link. 

<a href="some_url.html" target="window_blank">

To convert a text link to a new browser window link, add 
the phrase [ target="window_blank"] after the URL you are 
linking to. Leave a single space between the end of the
URL" and the beginning of 'target="window_blank"'.

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3. Back up your computer files or else!
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Backing up your files is something many of us forget about.
But, recently Barbara Brabec (http://www.barbarabrabec.com)
shared some of the frustration she experienced from a 
computer failure which resulted in the loss of hundreds of
hours of work.

Something similar happened to me a couple of years ago. I 
live in the mountains of New Mexico on property that 
borders the Cibola National Forest. This puts me at the 
tail end of the power line with the result of dips and 
spikes in the power flow. The dips are worse than the 
spikes because they cause your hard drive to slow down which 
it's not built to do. 

Suddenly, one day my hard drive failed and I couldn't get
back into the computer. After a couple of weeks, I was 
able to get back in with the help of a friend. We managed
to restore about 3/4 of the data, but many, many hours
of work was lost forever.

Here's a couple of tips for minimizing the losses of an
unexpected computer failure.

* Invest in a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) that can
protect your system from spikes and dips. A good one is 
going to run you around $200 at least.

* Invest in a phone line surge protector. Prices vary. 
Cheap is not good.

* On your hard drive, create directories for all your
created files. For instance, correspondence could go in
a directory called "Letters". Mailing lists could go in
a directory named "Maillists". Avoid saving and storing
your created files inside the directories of the 
programs you use to create the files.

* Back up once a week, at least, if you use your computer
frequently.

* If you are using 3.5" discs to back up files, create
two extra back up discs. Those discs are always likely to
fail unexpectedly.

* A better choice is the 100meg Zip discs which need a 
Zip drive (around $150 to $200 and worth the money.)

Okay, you're wondering about all this extra expense. Look
at it as insurance. If you pay yourself $10 per hour and
you have accumulated 200 hours in computer created files, 
you have an investment of $2,000 or more. Some 
references might be irreplaceable. Would that not be 
worth a couple of hundred dollars protection?

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4. Subscription Management 
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