Sunday, February 22, 2009
Just a quick update to let you all know that I've posted some new items up in my eBay store. I made a trip to town to do a little shopping, and I found some pretty nice little treasures, including a pair of Pfaltzgraff Latte Mugs in the Heritage White pattern. A little research showed that this pattern was first introduced in 1963. I don't think these mugs are from 1963, as i don't think there was much call for lattes back then, but they are nice none the less. The treasures I like the best, though, are four pieces of Lefton China in their Fruit Fantasia pattern. I found a covered sugar bowl, matching creamer, napkin holder and spoon rest. I was unable to find out much about this particular pattern, other than that is fairly rare, and there aren't too many pieces of it for sale. When I checked with Replacements.com (I telephoned them), I was told that even though they knew of the pattern, they had never been able to find any to have in stock.
At any rate, there are some more treasures up that I thought my great customers may like to take a look at. And if you have any questions about any of them, please feel free to ask. Until next time, this is ol' Whiskey Jack sayin' Adios!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
For the past several months, the economy, not just of the our country, but globally as well, has been heading straight into a hole. It astounds me how many people have lost their jobs, and how many more are losing their jobs each day! Not to mention those who are losing their homes! And this is something I do happen to know a little about. After 22 years in the same job, I have suddenly found myself unemployed as well. And in case you're wondering, the answer is no. I did not receive a severance package or a severance check. I did get a nice plaque, however. No, I will be cashing in my retirement in order to have something to live on and support my wife and grandkids. Not that this is a bad thing in light of the fact that the private company that is managing not only my retirement but that of many other public employees, is going under at an alarming rate. So, the sooner I can get my retirement money out of there, the better! And this is something that is affecting millions of people everywhere!
The way I see it though, is those of us who find ourselves in this predicament have two choices. The first is the easiest, and that is to whine, cry, and bemoan what is happening to us. Let's face it, this is the easiest way to handle this kind of situation, but in the long run it doesn't really get us anywhere. The second method of handling this situation is to create our own economic stimulus package, and by that I mean get back to work as soon as possible. Yes, I know that jobs are becoming increasingly harder to find, but we can always do something. In times like these it is important to remember the words of Dan Reeves, former Head Coach of the Denver Broncos football team: "Tough Times Don't Last, But Tough People Do!" And also, the words of Joseph P. Kennedy, "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going!"
In other words, don't just sit around, get up and do something about your situation! There are jobs out there. Believe me. All you have to do is find them. You may have to take a cut in pay, but a cut in pay is better than no pay at all. And, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, there is always online sales. Whether eBay, or Bonanzle, or any of the other eCommerce sites. But it does take some work. Hard work, and also long hours, dedication and education. Not the kind of education that comes from a public school, but self education. Go to the library and check out some books on eCommerce. Read some of the many many blogs and forums regarding eCommerce. There is a wealth of information and help out there, and it is all free for the asking. All you have to do is get up and go get it.
Then take that knowledge and apply it to your situation. Sales may be slow, and may be nonexistant for a while. One thing you have to remember is that internet sales will not make you rich. I don't care what those late night infomercials claim, you are not going to make $5,000 a week selling info-products online! But you can make a living selling online. However, as I said, it does take a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of dedication.
So don't despair. You can do it. You can make it. You can survive. Things will get better, they always do, so don't give up. Just get busy and hang in there! Okay!
Until next time, this is Ol' Whiskey Jack sayin'
Today's Word of Wisdom: "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending." ---Carl Bard
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Collector’s Quest – Where Hunter’s Gather!
Today’s article is a review of the Collector’s Quest web site, a site where they claim that hunter’s gather! The Collector’s Quest site is not necessarily a site for specific antiques or specific collectibles, but rather a site for collectors and collectibles, as defined in the broadest sense of the term that a collectible is simply nothing more than something that people collect. Using this definition, virtually anything can be a collectible, from bottle caps to pez dispensers, as there are folks who collect these things as well as a plethora of other things.
On this site you can find articles and blogs, videos and notes on just about everything that people collect, whether Pez dispensers or Cookie Jars, Action Figures or Dinosaur toys, matchbox cars, guitars, Tea Pots, Elvis Presley, Snow Globes, Corkscrews, or, well, you get the idea.
When I visited the site, and began perusing the various pages within it, I found that it is an enjoyable site to visit. The videos section contains different videos relating to collectibles and collecting. When I visited, I found there were three groups of videos available for viewing. There were videos of their coverage of the New York Comic Con, the NE Pez Convention, and the Scarsdale Concours (covering collector cars). All in all I found the videos to be fairly informative, and very entertaining.
The Community section of the web site is really nothing more than a place for web site members to upload photos of their personal collections, with a space to leave your comments about the collections. Almost like a photo blog. Interesting and a nice addition for this community. I felt is really added to the web sites appeal by allowing its members to share their collections, which is something every collector loves to do – show off his or her collection. Watch out if you come to visit me, I’ll be dragging out my autograph collection and my John Wayne collection. Collectors I have found, are just as bad as those neighbors who continually bring out their vacation slides!
The Marketplace section, which the site claims is a new section, was not very impressive. Although the purpose behind it is good – that being one of giving members their own place to sell collectibles – I found this section to be somewhat limited, and most of the items offered were from one person. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can’t really see myself paying $3300.00 for a piece of “art” that consisted of a giant credit card made from the arms and legs of Barbie dolls. Perhaps this section will grow as more and more of the sites members begin to take advantage of it. I also found that in order to purchase any of the items, you must first be a member of the website. I would think that the sites members would find this a bit to restricting. I have to wonder why the site owners have not opened up this particular section to non-members as well, and thus providing their members with a larger group of potential buyers.
Perhaps the most interesting section I found on the web site was the Blogs section. In it I found a collection of very nice, well written, enjoyable and informative articles covering a variety of different collectibles and even some antiques. The blog section is categorized in six different groups – Reviews, Decorating, Interviews, Flea Market Finds, Collecting FYI, and Events. I personally found the interviews, the flea market finds and the collecting FYI articles the most interesting.
Another nice, and very helpful feature of this web site is the Calendar section. The calendar features a calendar format listing of various antique and collectible related events occurring around the country. The calendar also gives you the option of looking only at specific categories such as auctions, conventions, shows & fairs, trade meets, and more. Or, you can also see only the latest additions to the calendar, or search the calendar. You can even promote events by submitting them to the site for inclusion in the calendar.
And then there is the obligatory Links section. The links page features categories that are shown by title and icon. Each with an rss feed button so you can subscribe to the various sites and blogs within each category. Clicking on the icon will take the viewer to a page of links that are related specifically to that category. Very nice, very helpful, and much nicer than a lot of sites where one is forced to go wading through a long list of links that are not in any categorical order and often do not work. I found the rss feeds for each link category to be helpful as well, allowing you to subscribe only to the category you are interested in, rather than all of them.
All in all, the Collector’s Quest web site is an enjoyable and informative site. True, there are a few things that the site owners could improve on, but these are overshadowed by the benefits of visiting this site. Check it out, and sign up for their free eNewsletter. I think you’ll find it worth your while.
Thanks again for stopping by the Trading Post blog. As always, please leave you comments and suggestions – they are always encouraged and welcome. If you enjoy these articles and find them helpful and informative, why not subscribe to this blog and sign on as a follower. Well, until next time, thanks for readin’, and I’ll see y’all later.
Today’s Word of Wisdom: “A smile from a good woman is worth more'n a dozen handed out by a bartender.”
Friday, February 6, 2009
Self Promotion: How To Get Noticed For Less
Unless you are financially well off and can afford to hire an advertising agency to market your ecommerce site for you, you will have to tackle this important aspect of online sales yourself. It can be a bit overwhelming, but with a little planning, some prioritizing and scheduling, it can be done with minimal frustration and hair pulling.
There are several things you can do as a small eCommerce entrepreneur, to promote your web site and products, and that is the purpose of this article. I’ve tried to break it down into easy to read sections, so you can absorb each aspect of self promotion (at least as far as this limited article goes), and implement them as best suits you.
How many of you know who Vickie Hogan, John Carter, Jenny Anastassakis or Thomas Mapother are? Probably not too many of you. That’s because these are the real names of some very famous celebrities who used “stage” names to build their stage or film identities. In other words, they branded themselves. They created an identity that their fans would be able to easily recognize. That’s what branding is all about. Creating a unique identity that your fans – your customers – will be able to recognize. By the way, these “stage” names are the real names of Anna Nicole Smith, Charlton Heston, Jennifer Aniston, and Tom Cruise.
An important aspect of your brand is your avatar. It could be as simple as a photo of yourself. Or, you could find or design one that best fits your personality, either online, off, or both. And add a little personality to your screen identity and avatar / logo. Not something that is completely foreign to your own personality, but something that complements it or enhances it.
When I started in online sales, I chose the name Whiskey Jack, because I was finding things to sell all over the place. Yard sale, thrift stores, auctions, everywhere. I would gather these treasures up, take them home, and put them up online for sale. The reason I chose the name Whiskey Jack was that it is the name of a bird that does essentially the same thing. This bird is also known as a Camp Robber, or Gray Jay. Initially I used a photo of a Whiskey Jack as my avatar, but after I found one that actually looked like a caricature of myself, I decided to use it. I’ve been using it, and the name, ever since. It is my online avatar, my business logo, and my business name. Everything I do that is related to my online business, it tied in to the name and logo of Whiskey Jack. All three of my eCommerce sites use both the name and logo, every invoice I send out, my business cards, my email address, even this blog, are distinctively Whiskey Jack. There’s no mistaking it.
The reason for this is simple. I want people to know who I am, and to recognize the name and logo, and identify them as being synonymous with honesty, trust, and respect. I go the extra mile in every customer service situation. In my book the customer is the most important things in my business that there is. It should be in your book as well. So put some thought into your online identity and avatar/logo. Make sure you’re comfortable with it, and when you get it figured out, stick with it. It’s how folks will find you and recognize you.
Although blogging isn’t for everyone, if you are comfortable with it, then do it. But be careful with it. You don’t want your blog to be nothing more than an online infomercial for your eCommerce site or your products. Plan to write blogs that are informative and enjoyable. The goal here is not to simply promote your business, but to provide a service to your readers that will draw them in and keep them coming back. You want to develop a following with your blog. Your eCommerce business should be a side light to your blog. You can add widgets to your blog side bar that highlight your web site and/or products. Widget Box is an excellent source for creating great widgets. Of course I’m a little biased because that’s where my Bonanzle widgets came from. The ones on the right hand side bar of this blog. But what really convinced me to use widget box is not only the great looking widgets you can create there, but how easy they are to create and the very important fact that signing up for and using widget box is free!
Not only should you keep you blog entries informative, enjoyable and relevant, but you should do the same when leaving comments on other blogs. Try to make it a point to visit other blogs that are relevant to your eCommerce business and leave a comment or two that is intelligent, respectful, and relevant to the blog you are commenting on. At the end of your comment, you can then put in very brief plug for your own web site or online selling platform. Something along the lines of “…. Your comments …. Thanks, (Your screen identity name), try something new at www. your eCommerce site . com! Well, you get the idea.
Merchant directories are also a great place for some free promotion and exposure. Two of the best that I have found are Every Place I Sell, and Explorz. Both of these sites are free to use, and I highly recommend them both. Listing your eCommerce venues with online merchant directories is sort of like advertising your store in the yellow pages. Consumers go to these sites to use the sites search engines and shopping / online store categories to do more specialized online shopping. People get a little tired of just going to Yahoo or other internet search engines and typing in what they are looking for, and then being served up a couple hundred thousand web sites that may or may not have what they are looking for. Online merchant directories make it much easier for people to shop online. If at all possible, get listed with some. Of course, there are many such merchant directory sites. Click here to see a list of some great self promotion sites, including some great merchant directory sites.
Although I just said that people really don’t like to utilize internet search engines to do their online shopping, especially due to the overwhelming number of web sites those search engines will present them with. That being said, however, there are still a lot of people who will always use internet search engines, and you want to be there at the top of the results page when they use them. Probably one of the best ways you can utilize internet search engines to get your eCommerce site noticed is to make your website search engine friendly. You want these search engines to find you, not someone else. There are several web sites that are dedicated to helping you do this. For a fee, that is. But since I’m all about free and low cost, that is what I will talk about here. There are at least two options that fall into this category. The first is Google Base, and the second is Self Promotion.com.
Google Base is set up so that those who are signed up to use it (and its very easy, all you need is a gmail address and a little time). Once you’re signed up and signed in, simply follow the online instructions, and before you know it, Google will have your products in their search queue, and when someone goes searching for a product you have, you could very easily end up at the top of the heap. Of course this isn’t guaranteed, and I don’t want to build up false hopes in anyone. However, I can say that after I signed up with Google Base and after I had the data feeds for my Bonanzle booths set up with Google Base, most of my products did show up at the top of a Google search page, in the “shopping” results section.
The other site I mentioned, Self Promotion.com, provides a service wherein they will submit your site to several of the many search engines, and they will do it for you. Best of all they do it for free. Mostly anyway. They do ask for a donation if you are satisfied with their work. They suggest a donation of $10.00. Personally, I think this is remarkable for all that they do for those who register with them. And they don’t force you to donate. All in all, I think that a $10 donation is money well spent, and you should really consider donating more, if possible, simply because they will do so much for you. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is no. I have no affiliation with Self Promotion.com. In fact, I’m not even registered with them. I’m basing my opinion of them on the word of others that have used their service. Although, there may come a time when I do sign up with them. When I think I can donate a fair amount to them. Just my personal convictions, that’s all. But give their site a look and judge for yourself.
Engage with a community to tell others about your online store or booth. Sites such as Bonanzle, and eBay, have forum boards where members can leave their comments and comment on entries made by other members. The Selling Lounge is an online web site that provides a forum for those who sell online, and is an excellent place to learn about other online selling venues, and also to do a little self promotion of your own. As I mentioned above, however, when posting to these forums or leaving comments for the postings of others, remember to be respectful, and leave intelligent and relevant comments. Don’t just jump out there and use the comments to promote your booth. That will just turn people off. Leave your comment and add a very brief note at the end of the comment and after your name, to point people to you online store or booth.
Business Cards & Flyers
Next to your eCommerce identity (your brand – logo, avatar, etc), business cards and flyers are going to be your main source of self promotion. Every customer and potential customer should receive one or both. Make sure that you include not only your store or booth name and URL (web address), but also your avatar/logo and a tag line or motto if you have one. Also contact information such as your business or contact email address.
These can either be designed and printed up by you on your home computer (sheets of business cards can be printed up on card stock and then cut into individual cards), or there are several web sites that offer free or low cost business cards and flyers (as well as shipping labels, return labels, calendars, refrigerator magnets, and more – all great for self promotion). Four of these sites are Vista Print , Free Printable Business Cards, Prints Made Easy and Giggle Print. Each of these sites offer a limited number of free business cards (although they may ask you to pay shipping and handling charges), and can be good source for the small eCommerce business owner.
Well, I think that’s enough to chew on for awhile. There are other aspects of self promotion that I haven’t gone into, such as Email marketing and internet coupons, but I think I’ll save those for another time. This article is long enough already! I apologize for being so long winded, but there is just so much information that I’d like to put for my readers this could easily become a “blog book”! So I reckon I’ll say goodnight for now, and I hope to see y’all again here at Whiskey Jack’s blog. If you found this article informative and (hopefully) enjoyable, please feel free to leave a comment or any suggestions. They’re always welcome. If you haven’t subscribed to signed on as a follower to this blog, why not do so now? We’d love to have ya! Until next time, take care.
Today’s Word of Wisdom: “Reciting poetry is like a haircut. If it's good, ya feel like a million bucks. If it's bad, ya hide yer head under yer hat.”
Well, I think I've got the glitch figured out. This old computer picked up a nasty bug somewhere along the line, so I sprayed a whole can of Raid on the hard drive and it seems to have killed the little bugger! Not really, but I can say that it does pay to have some good anti virus and anti spyware programs!
In other news, I have decided to cut back on the blog a bit. I will no longer do web site reviews and online selling tips. The reason for this is two fold. First, in looking at my google analytics, it appears that not too many folks are reading these entries anyway, and I don't want to waste my followers time by writing articles that they may not be interested in. Please let me know if I'm wrong. Secondly is the time factor. It takes a lot of time to do the research and then write the articles. Especially when I do a web site review, which can take up to a week to really examine a web site. That being said, however, I will continue to do the antiques and collectibles articles. Not only do I love doign them, but they seem to be the main reason that folks read this blog - at least according to Google Analytics. Not to mention that as I do the antiques and collectibles articles, it is an education for me, which goes a long way to furthering my knowledge of antiques and collectibles which I am trying to make the main focus of my online sales venues. I still have a couple of web site reviews and online sales tips articles "in the queue" so to speak, so I will out them up. The antiques and collectibles articles may not be limited to once a week, as I will continue to do them as often as I can. There's a lot to write about!
Plus I will be, occassionally, writing about my experiences with my online sales, but hopefully not so much as to bore you all. Well, there you have it. That's what I've been up to lately. Squashing bugs and trying to fine tune this blog. Until next time, a big thanks to all who follow and read this blog. As always, please feel free to leave your comments and ratings. They are always welcome. Take care and I hope to hear from some of you!