Thursday , 23 October 2014
Janee is a great example of how to create an interactive and thriving relationship with customers through social media and blogging.

Janee of Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard on How to Create an Interactive and Thriving Relationship With Customers Through Social Media

Yellow Bird, Yellow Beard Home Shop

 

Interview: Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard

Please welcome Janee of the Etsy Shop and blog, Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard. Janee’s a maker, and everything about her brand represents her ever-expanding creativity. Her shop is full of garlands, banners, toys, and holiday decorations while her blog features everything arts, crafts, and handmade-related.

Janee is a great example of how to create an interactive and thriving relationship with customers through social media and blogging. You can find her anywhere, from Twitter to LinkedIn (and everywhere in between), sharing her adventures with all.

Today, she’s agreed to share the secrets of her success with us! So without further ado, enjoy the interview:

Let’s start with how much I love everything you have going on. Your shop is a handmade-lover’s playground. Your blog is a crafter’s paradise. It left me wondering this chicken- or the egg-style question. 

Which idea came first–the blog or the Etsy shop?

Actually they were basically simultaneous. I started making garlands for myself and my friends the same week I opened my Etsy shop. The motivation behind them went hand-in-hand and I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t succeed at one without the other. Both the items I make and my blog serve as a creative outlet and social enterprise for me. I love every aspect of it.

Is Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard (the overall brand) a full-time creative career for you?

Yes! I’ve been extremely blessed in this area. I was laid off my previous job several months after I started Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard and my husband’s job combined with the meager income I had from my shop was enough to keep us afloat. Now that YB+YB has grown it’s helping pay the bills while The Beard goes to Grad School. One of the biggest reasons YB+YB has grown so quickly is because I’ve been able to commit myself to it full-time. It’s my biggest dream that by the time The Beard graduates from Grad School YB+YB will be large enough to completely support us financially.

I read your first blog post ever, dated January 31, 2011. In it, you stated that you planned to blog every weekday morning. Looking through your archives, it seems like you’ve kept up with that promise pretty well! How do you come up with so many new ideas?

Well… I suppose that’s a multifaceted answer. First and foremost my weekly series posts give me the mental break I need to come up with new ideas for the “free” days. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays always have a series post which make them “easier” days because the content is mostly external. Other series have come and gone, sometimes I struggle with having too many series going at once and not enough free form posting. Also, my friends and sponsors are always welcome to guest posts on my blog and they do so frequently. That definitely ads to the fresh creativity. The other biggest contributors to coming up with new content all the time are my husband and his abundance of creative juices and my desperate desire to provide my readers with worth-while material. I do my best to have high-caliber posts consisting of great photos and interesting {or at least funny} writing.

Please describe your “zone.” Where do you create and what’s the atmosphere like when you’re working?

Well my “zone” has changed several times since starting YB+YB. When I first started I was a nanny full-time, which meant I would write in the mornings while the little man ate breakfast and played. After I was laid off I worked in our home studio. We used to live in a two bedroom apartment where we had converted the second bedroom into an art studio for the two of us. You can see photos of what it looked like HERE and HERE. It was dark and messy and poorly arranged and I hated it, but that had as much to do with where we lived as it did with the room itself. Now that we’ve moved to Boston we live in a VERY tiny one bedroom apartment where are living room, dining room {a.k.a. the couch} and my workspace are all combined. We are lucky we don’t have to try to fit The Beard’s art supplies in there too! However, the atmosphere in our new apartment more than makes up for the lack of space. My area is right under our three bay windows so it’s always full of glorious light. I used to have to go outside and set up this crazy contraption to photograph my items, now I can do it at my desk. Hallelujah! Plus I’ll admit, it’s really nice having the TV in the same room so that The Beard and I are able to be in the same room even if I have to work late. To make this answer even longer, as far as mood goes when I work, I mostly work in silence. No joke. I love it when it’s quiet. Luna {my bird} sits on my desk with me pretty much all day and he is quite the chatty Cathy so silence here is a relative term. It’s only really silent when he’s napping. Other than his talking and warbling though we listen to music occasionally but that’s it.

This next question is inspired by your “interrogations”.  What is your favorite item in your shop and why?

Hahaha… You use my own weapons against me? That’s really a good/difficult question {not to pat myself on the back or anything}. I think my favorite items to make are my garlands because they’re the easiest to make. But when I don’t factor in the time it takes to manufacture the items my plush animals are pretty high up on the list of favorites. Speaking of my plush animals, The Beard has designed the patterns for all of them {with several more on the way!}, isn’t he the best?

He sure sounds like it!

What has been your best marketing strategy for Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard?

Honestly having the blog to advertise the shop and the shop to give additional content to the blog has made an enormous difference. My blog has been in the top 5 traffic sources for my shop from the very beginning. But as far as advertising for the brand as a whole goes, taking the time to visit other people’s blogs and comment / emailing people to make new friends has been my biggest success. I love the fact that I’ve become good friends with people in Germany, Alaska, Australia, Canada, and my own city all through my business.

What has been your biggest waste of time or money in business?

That’s a hard question too. I’ve been pretty frugal with my money as far as advertising goes. But I think the best advice I can give is, when advertising with other websites or blog, be certain that the audience of the person you’re advertising with is the same audience you are trying to attract. Advertising with the wrong person/business can be a complete waste of money. And to speak to time-wasting – I’d say that the amount of people who don’t actually read the details in my shop listings also cost me quite a bit of time. There’s not much I can do about that, other than to make sure my listings are clear and complete.

What is the best tip you could offer to someone just opening shop on Etsy and looking for their first sale?

PHOTOS. GOOD PHOTOS. Etsy has bajillions of items. The number one way you are going to make yourself stand out in the crowd is with your product photos. When you’re scrolling through listings what stands out isn’t the price or name of your shop, it’s the photos you see. Obviously you need to have an interesting and desirable product. And obviously you need to make sure your products are high quality. But don’t even bother opening your shop until you’re confident that your photos are going to catch people’s eyes. Also, treasuries. Create Etsy treasuries. It’s a fabulous way of meeting other sellers and introducing yourself to the community.

Thank you, Janee. It’s been a lot of fun!

 Alright friends, be sure to check out all of Janee’s wonderful offerings in her Etsy shop, as well as on her popular blog, Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard. As always, you can read more by me at Marketing Creativity. Until next time and all the best, Lisa Jacobsblog ad1

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