Wordless Wednesday #1

Wordless Wednesday #1

It’s almost over, right?


Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2

Oooook. I have been feeling very anxious about this week’s Top Ten. Overwhelmed. Do you understand the sheer amount of info out there on these topics? Check out Pinterest. Just do a quick search for “social media tips”. I’ve even set up my own Pinterest board just for this stuff. There is a TON of info on how to use social media for your business. And my goal? To whittle it all down to just a few key points, and to keep it simple so that I, and all my readers, can use it. Sounds like a pretty lofty goal, right? Yeah, it does to me too.

So even though I think I might be crazy to continue this, here goes…

Top Ten Social Media Sites for Small Business Part Two


Top Ten Social Media Sites for Small Business Part Two - Twitter

A lovely representation of the Twitter logo

It was tough choosing this week’s social media site. I was torn between Tumblr (which I don’t really understand), Pinterest (which I’m getting better at) and Twitter. Don’t ask me how I finally decided; I’m not sure myself. I don’t think I really decided until I started to write the word “Twitter”, actually.

I’m terrible at Twitter. I have an account, obviously, but I go long periods of time without actually tweeting anything. I have a whole bunch of other social media accounts tied to Twitter so things still get tweeted, but most of it’s automated and therefore much less personal. But before we get into why this is a bad thing, let’s get the basics down.

Twitter = France?
Twitter is kind of like a foreign country in the social media world. It even has its own language. Here are a few terms that you will absolutely need to know (and know how to use) to be successful on Twitter:

Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2

Since I tend to be a bit wordy, I went with this short and simple image instead.

These terms, of course, are just the beginning. If you’d like to dig a bit deeper into the Twitter-language, go here. Some of them are really silly, but a lot of them are very useful.

Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2

Well, they do.

So you want to start a Twitter?
But why? Why is it important to my business to do this whole tweeting thing? Whoa there buddy, hold your horses. First thing’s first. You need to set up the account before we can delve into any deep philosophical questions like that.

First you need a user name. This is how people will find you, and should be easily recognizable. Mine is @madebymegshop, so a Google search for my Etsy shop will come back with my Twitter in the results. People can also easily search for me on Twitter. This is different from the display name. I used my actual name for that.

Then you need a profile image so people know that you’re not a bot (not an actual person, in other words). You can use your business logo here, but I’ve chosen to use a picture of myself. Personally, I like knowing that there is a real, live person behind the business, but that’s just my preference. I’m not alone though. According to PC Magazine, uploading a photo that shows your face can result in as many as ten times more followers. It just adds a more personal touch, in my opinion.

You also need a good description of who you are and what you’re about. Again, this shows potential followers that you’re real.

Finally, you can include the link to your website. If you don’t have a website, link to your blog or your Facebook.

Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2How the heck do I use this thing?
Hell if I know. Really. But because I’m relatively masochistic, I’ve been doing my research.

First of all, you need to develop a following. This is obvious, right? I mean, you can talk and talk about interesting, valuable things all day long, but if no one is listening it’s kind of like the tree falling in the forest with no one around. No one cares, because no one is seeing it. If you’re brand new to Twitter, this means you need to start following people. You can follow blogs you read (most have social media buttons on their homepages to make this easy), real-life friends, and people who run other small businesses (even your direct competitors). If you know what your target market is, go ahead and do a hashtag search for a term that relates, and follow users who talk about it. But don’t follow every account that you come across, because there is a limit to how many accounts you can follow. I hit the follow limit fairly quickly, so I use a service called JustUnfollow to weed through the accounts that I follow, and get rid of the ones that I can live without.

Once you’ve followed some people, you are going to want to build those relationships by interacting. You can do this by mentioning them, retweeting them, or DM’ing them. And if someone takes the time to mention or retweet you, make sure you respond. It’s actually pretty easy, and I think I’ve got a good handle on this part. Interacting is what normal people do in real life, right? So this part should come naturally.

Top Ten Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2

I’m not really yelling at you

The Deets
So you have a Twitter account. And you have a following. And you’ve made some good connections. You’re done, right? NO! You aren’t done yet! There are some details that you need to keep in mind here…

*Keep your tweets short and sweet. You are only allowed 140 characters, and you want to leave room for other users to reply or retweet. Also it’s been proven that tweets that are less than 100 characters long have a 17% higher engagement rate. You want that, trust me.
*Know when to tweet. Just like on Facebook, there is an optimal time/day to tweet. On Twitter, your best days to tweet are Saturday and Sunday, with Wednesday and Thursday showing the lowest rate of engagement. You do want to try to tweet several times a day, but know that your most important tweets should probably be focused around the weekend. And on those days, it seems that the best time to tweet is between 5pm and 6pm.
*Use relevant hashtags, sparingly. You want people to be able to find you, but you want to make sure that the right people are finding you. Try to only use one or two hashtags in each post.
*Don’t be afraid to ask for retweets. You will easily and effectively amplify your message if you do this. But make sure that you use the word “retweet”, instead of just “RT”.

And if that isn’t enough, here are a few more quick and easy tips to use.
Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Part 2

I’m spent. I hope that helps build a greater understanding of how to use Twitter, but really, I’ve just skimmed the surface. There is much, much more info out there that can help you get into it deeper. I’ve found that Pinterest is a great place to go for that info, or at least a good place to start.

So, do you use Twitter? Any helpful tips you’ve found to make Twitter work for your business? Any questions that I didn’t answer? Feel free to comment, and I will certainly help if I can.

That’s just my face…

Have you ever been accused of giving someone a dirty look and thought they were nuts? Do those around you tend to recoil when you make eye contact with them? If you answered yes to either question, you may suffer from BRF, otherwise known as “Bitchy Resting Face”.
That's Just My Face

My coworkers used to ask me a lot, “what the hell was that look for??”. My response was always “that’s just my face.”. Because it really was. And they always laughed like I was the crazy one. But I actually don’t have any control of my facial expressions at all. It’s very strange, but I guess I make ridiculous faces all day long without even knowing it. The rough part is that it’s almost impossible to hide how I’m feeling. Fortunately some people just can’t read facial expressions. Usually those are the people who I find most irritatingly stupid. So there’s that.

Anyway, I don’t intend to give people dirty looks (most of the time, anyway). And until the above video came out, I suffered in silence, without even a name to assign my condition. At least now I have a diagnosis. But sharing that diagnosis with the general public still remains an issue.

That's just my faceI’m a server. I work at a pretty well-known chain-restaurant, and I happen to work at the highest grossing location in this chain. I deal with a shit-ton of people on a daily basis. This past weekend was particularly crazy, being Valentine’s Day weekend. By Sunday I was beyond worn out and ready to blow that particular Popsicle stand. But of course all the crazy, cranky, irritating people decided that Sunday was the best day to go out and harass a random stranger. That random stranger was me.

That's just my faceMy BRF must have been in a full-blown flare on Sunday. Either that or I really was pissed off, but considering that I started the day feeling fantastic, I doubt that was the case. Maybe. Who the hell knows. But anyway, I had this one table that started out their visit by interrupting me before I could tell them my name (which I have to do, by the way), which is always a bad sign. Always.

I finally got to tell them who I was after they had given me their drink order, and I walked away thinking, “damn, this is going to ruin my day, I know it”. I must be psychic. Either that or I was having a particularly hard time controlling my BRF and I was just exuding negative energy. I’d like to think that it’s the former; it’s probably the latter.

I brought their drinks. There was a slight problem with the wine that they ordered, but that was quickly rectified. The next problem was not so easily fixed, however.

One of them was a vegetarian. Now, most chain-restaurants may have vegetarian options. Either that or their servers just don’t tell you that almost every single item on the menu is made with some kind of animal product. But we are not a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, and I am not a liar. I explained to this table that the only things on the menu that were actually completely meat-free were salad and steamed broccoli. Everything else? Nope. Soup? Mixed vegetables? Nope, and nope. Just salad and broccoli. But what about…. NOPE. I must have said it six times.

They were starting to get irritated with me. I was starting to get irritated with them. I started embracing my inner bitch, which I never ever do. I think I even told my coworkers that I would be willing to pay for their drinks if they would get the hell out of the restaurant. Then, for some reason, even though I was starting to let my irritation shine through, their mood did a complete 180. The rest of the meal went extremely smoothly. By the end of their meal I had them laughing and joking around with me, which was even more surprising. And when I went to pick up their check…

They tipped almost 40%. Along with the tip was a note that simply said, “thank you, sorry”. And just like that, my inner bitch was gone. I hadn’t thought about how visible my irritation was, but it was clear from their note that they noticed how pissed I was getting. This time, my BRF worked in my favor.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t just go around telling my tables that I have this condition. And if I had a penny for every time a customer asked me why I was giving them dirty looks, I’d have exactly zero pennies. I really hope that this was an isolated incident, and that all my other tables either know about BRF, or just can’t read facial expressions.

But either way, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I will suffer with BRF for the rest of my life.
That's just my face

Do any of you have this issue? Do you have any fun/horrible/hilarious stories to share about your BRF? I love stories. Tell me stories.

Oops, my bad.

I meant to post yesterday. I really did. It wasn’t going to be all that impressive, but it was still going to be something.


This is NOT a Lil Wayne quote…

But I ran out of time. I made a pair of fingerless gloves, took pictures of six items for my shop, and drank a lot of coffee. Oh, and I watched figure skating. Then I tried my best to look like a hooker for work, but I failed miserably at that too.

In fact, my boss told me I looked like a “church hooker”. I’m not sure what that means, partially because I don’t go to church, but I guess I’ll have to try harder tonight. It’s been proven, by me and my extensive experience, that servers make way more money when they dress slutty. I think where I went wrong was with the fake eyelashes; I just could not get them to stick. I worked at them for about 20 minutes before I finally gave up.

Anyway… I meant to post yesterday, just as I meant to edit all those pictures, but I got neither of those things done. I feel terribly behind my goals, but I finally got the edits done this morning. Everything is posted, so all the items in this post are up for sale. And without further ado….. Here they are!

Baltic Heather boot cuffs

Baltic Heather boot cuffs

Lady Slipper boot cuffs

Lady Slipper boot cuffs

Beige fingerless gloves

Beige fingerless gloves

Mustard fingerless gloves

Mustard fingerless gloves

Red tweed fingerless gloves

Red tweed fingerless gloves

The other item is a pair of yoga socks that I relisted. I did get to use my new tripod, which works amazingly well. It’s a bit hard to take pics of fingerless gloves on my own, but it’s totally doable.

So there’s my intended post from yesterday. Like I said, not real impressive, but there it is just the same. And with that done, now it’s back to work! Happy Saturday everyone!

Saturdays are made of yarn


Throwback Thursday

Guess what day it is? Not hump day.

It’s Thursday, which means that today, I have an excuse to be lazy and post old shit. Shout out to The Bloggess for the idea, and for randomly showing up on my Facebook feed a few minutes ago. Great idea.

Me, my mother and my little sister.

So this picture is kind of grainy, because it’s actually an iPhone picture of an actual picture. I was looking for pictures of the last time I was this thin (I was ten by the way, have I mentioned that?), and I came across this little gem. I’m pretty sure it’s from Christmas time somewhere around 1989. It’s me (obviously), my mother and my little sister. I’m fairly certain that my sister is smacking me in the face, my mother is yelling at her, and I’m probably teasing the crap out of her. Since that was a pretty standard thing. And my sister just looks happy to be smacking me in the face.

So there you have it. And now I will go back to knitting a pair of stupid yoga socks.


Because anything related to Wayne’s World is awesome.

Guess what day it is?

aka Wednesday

Or Wednesday, as it’s sometimes known. In my world, it’s actually Monday. Better customers than actual Monday though. Anyway…

Yes, my weekend is over and I have to go to work today. It’s going to be a rough week, what with Valentine’s Day on Friday. I don’t know why I thought working on Valentine’s Day was a good idea (yes I do, I’ll make mucho dinero), but I do know that it’ll take all my energy just to stay upright until Sunday. Do you know what makes it better?

Smoked PaletteOddly, this palette makes going to work so much more bearable. I’m not going to do a product review; I’ll let the folks over at makeupandbeautyblog.com handle that part for me. But I will tell you that this stuff is fantastic, and well worth the money.

I’ve always been willing to pay a little bit more for a great product. I only buy bareMinerals makeup, because it covers up any off-color spots on my face without looking or feeling like I’m wearing too much makeup. It’s easy to use, and even better, easy to wear. I’ve always lusted after these Urban Decay palettes, but I was skeptical because of the price. I asked for this Smoked palette for my birthday, and when I opened it the day after I knew it was going to be fantastic. Not only are the colors awesome, but it comes with a little book that gives step-by-step instructions on how to create different looks.

Another reason I love this thing so damn much is it has incredible staying power. It’s like freaking glue. I have a hell of a time finding makeup that will last through a busy shift at the restaurant, and most times I have lost all of my eyeshadow by the end, and I look like a raccoon because my eyeliner has run down my face. But this stuff? No running. No smudging. And at the end of a shift, the rest of my body is greasy and dirty, but my makeup still looks like I just put it on. Seriously, if it can handle the stress of a 4-hour dinner rush, it’s totally worth the price in my book.

It is pricey. But Urban Decay may have won a customer for life. I actually look forward to putting it on, which is a feat in itself because I am not a girly girl. And I only wear makeup to work. So yeah, as exhausting as I know this week will be, I’m looking forward to it. Weird.

Goat to Cow

Yeah, I dunno.

Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business (part 1)

I’ve decided to split this week’s Top Ten list into smaller, more manageable pieces. This week, I’ll be discussing Facebook, and how/why you and I should be using it for small business. I had intended on doing the whole list today, but the Facebook part of it got way too long, way too quick, so I’m posting it on its own. Hopefully the next few I’ll be able to post together, because if not I’ll be writing about social media for the next two and a half months which would be terribly tedious. But anyway, here it is…

Top Ten Social Media Sites for Small Business Part One

Hopefully you all have a personal Facebook account, so you have a bit of basic knowledge about this one. If you don’t, let me know and I’d be happy to walk you through how to get one set up. But even if you have a personal page on Facebook, maybe you don’t know why, or how, you should be using it for your business.

*As you’re reading, please note that all of this assumes that you’ve already started a Facebook page for your business. If you haven’t, start here. There are a lot of resources out there to help you get it set up, including this one which has videos along with text. Once you’ve got it set up, check out this site for more simple but valuable tips on what it should include.*

Why use Facebook as a part of your marketing strategy? Mainly, the sheer size of Facebook means that it will be a valuable tool in marketing your small business. As of last March, according to socialbarrel.com, the site had an estimated 1.5 billion active users. Billion. So basically, it’s huge. And even better, it’s free. Of course you can choose to pay for advertising if you’d like (I don’t), but even if you don’t you can still get your name/brand out there by doing a few simple things:

Make sure you are posting status updates regularly. Most advice will tell you that you should update daily. I don’t. I think a couple times a week might be enough, depending on your business and what you’re posting. You don’t want to post updates just to fill space. But you don’t want to overly self-promote either. Basically, what I do is when I have something meaningful and business related, I post it. Pictures of my works-in-progress, finished items before I list them, updates about shop issues, or even the random cat-stalking-yarn pic… They all make it onto my page.

A small note about this; the “experts” will tell you that pictures and/or links do better in terms of engagement than straight text updates do. I don’t find this to be the case. For example, I posted an update about a sales milestone last week and it got 141 views and 15 likes, while a link to my blog post from yesterday only got 36 views and 1 like. I say, find what works best for you and do it. If it happens to be text as opposed to links, then post more text updates. You can always post links in the comments.

You want people to see your updates, and either “like” them, comment on them or share them. Every time someone “likes”, comments on or shares your page or a post from your page, all of their friends see it in their feed. This not only boosts engagement, but it can also build your fan base.

My biggest issue with Facebook is engagement. A while back, Facebook changed how fans see page updates. Not everyone who “likes” my page will see every post. In fact, while I have over 1,200 fans, only about 100-150 see each status update. Here are couple suggestions that I’ve found, that I will try to use on my page in the near future.

Use hashtags. Facebook added the ability to post clickable hashtags recently. You can even search for which hashtags are used most, and find out which ones are used by your target customers or competitors.

Share quotes. This one I will definitely use. I have a whole book of knitting-related quotes. The idea here is to share quotes that your audience can identify with and will either like or share or both. You can also post a picture along with the quote if that’s what works for you. If you don’t have ready access to brand-related quotes, search using the hashtag #quote on Twitter or Facebook.

Ask questions. This suggestion is so awesome because it’s so open ended. As long as it’s appropriate to your page, it works. But keep it simple.

Connect with competitors, and comment on their content. I don’t use this suggestion currently. Actually, I’ve always been relatively opposed to it. But I may give it a shot, because why not? Obviously, you don’t want to actively advertise on competitors pages, but a relevant comment here or there on something they shared couldn’t hurt. You don’t want to step on any toes, but connecting and even cross-promoting with other small business owners can’t be anything but helpful.

Like vs. Share posts. kb-like-share-walmartThis one is interesting. I’m not sure how I will be using this one, but I’m definitely going to be trying it out. You could also use a different version of this idea by posting a “like vs. comment” update. Basically you are asking your fans to vote for one of two options, by either liking the post or sharing/commenting. It does require pictures, however. You want to create a picture containing the options you are asking your fans to choose from, and also include simple instructions for participation (which you can do using Photoshop or one of the many free photo editing options on the web). Again, every like or comment is shown to friends of fans, so this is a simple but very effective marketing tool.

I have to say, in looking for pictures to use as an example for this, I tried really hard to find one from somewhere other than Walmart. I detest Walmart. But that was the best example available. I feel a bit dirty for using it, but I didn’t have a lot of options. Anyway, back to the business at hand.

The last important thing, or at least most important thing because I’m sure there are many more tips out there, is that you should know when to post updates. In my case I’m marketing an online business but my main audience is still within the United States, or at least that’s where the vast majority of my sales come from. If you are marketing an online business as well, time zones are a factor that should be accounted for.

That being said, the best times to post to your page are generally around 1pm to 4pm. Traffic on Facebook starts to get steady around 9am and drops off around 4pm on the weekdays, but 1pm-4pm is when you are most likely to get the most exposure for your posts. The worst time to post, according to socialbarrel.com, is any day between 8pm and 8am or on the weekends. I’m not really sure how time zones factor into these times, but I would assume that they mean local time. You can post whenever you’d like, obviously, but I would suggest using the “schedule” feature to get each post maximum exposure.

I hope this little “guide” has helped. If you need more advice, check out the links I’ve included, or even do a Google search of your own. And if you have any strategies that you use with your own page that I haven’t mentioned, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear them! If you are still unsure about setting up your page or building a fan base, feel free to check out my page and/or send me a message.

Actually, it's my Sunday. And I'm not all that happy about it. But whatever.

Actually, it’s my Sunday. And I’m not all that happy about it. But whatever.