Saturday, 6 March 2010

Niceness and Networking

In my blogospheric wanderings, I have come across a couple of articles lately about the importance of niceness. Well, they didn't actually say that's what they were about, but I think they were.

One blogger wrote about recommending an online shop to a friend and feeling bad because the package arrived with no extras, no note. No 'niceness', in fact. It struck me as odd to complain about just getting what you ordered. But I must admit, I've felt the same when buying on Etsy. There is a culture of sending little extras, and when I placed a multiple order with a vintage seller, I felt a bit let down when I opened the parcel and just got my order. I wouldn't expect it with single items, but if I'm placing a large order, it's a nice 'thank you' gesture. (I always include a little extra with my Etsy orders - a badge or sweets or some pretty ribbon, whatever I think is appropriate.)

Pretty packaging is another expectation, I've found. (The disappointing package I received from Etsy was tied up prettily with thread. But I have to say I just found that mildly irritating. I'd rather have a free gift! Or a cool business card, at least.) I struggle with packaging. Sometimes literally, but mainly just with the appearance of what I'm sending out. Even if I try hard, I can never get my packages to look neat. I always try to keep postage costs down for my customers, so I use the lightest packaging possible - usually bubble wrap. It's practical rather than pretty.

For myself, I'm very uncertain about the value of a lot of pretty packaging. So long as what I buy is safely wrapped, I'm not sure I care. Certain packaging will appeal to me, but it's not a deal-breaker. However, I know a lot of people find it hugely important, so I'm trying to improve the look of my packaging for my new shop. Apologies to those of you who have received my lumpy parcels in the past - they were packaged with love and care, if not with beauty...

The other aspect of niceness I've been considering is about how to network. A blogger wrote an article about Twitter which advised how to tweet. Her advice is not to send too many tweets (makes sense), and not make them all about yourself, with links to your site. As an example of how-not-to, she gave an example of an Etsy seller who didn't respond to questions. However, she also said this person had over 30 000 followers. Apart from the logistics (how many questions might this person get in a day?). this number of followers seems to indicate that a lot of people were quite happy just to get updates about this seller's products, and weren't bothered whether they responded or not.

I'm in two minds about this one. I'm not a natural networker. I don't use Twitter (yet?). I'm addicted to Flickr and I enjoy reading blogs, but I don't always feel the need to comment. Sometimes I only comment, because I think it's about time I did! I can think of blogs and Flickr photostreams that I follow with interest to see what work someone has produced, but I have no need or desire to interact with that person. And I think that's okay.

On the other hand, I know that I like receiving comments, and I know that the blogosphere can only work through links and networking. This last fact has been preying on my mind for a while, because I never got round to having a list of blog links on my page. For one thing, I couldn't decide how to do it, what to include, etc. Shops I like? Other kinds of sites? The other thing was that I thought people could just look at my profile to see what blogs I follow. And the final thing was that I'm just rubbish at networking, like I said.

Anyway, I'm in the process of giving the site a bit of a facelift, and I finally got round to adding a list. It's fairly arbitary, but I've focussed on vintage/textile/craft blogs. I might look at other subjects later. How do you find blogs? Is it usually from other bloggers' lists? Or from blog posts about a particular person and their work? I want to do more on this, and I plan to start more regular posts about other people's work. However, for the time being, I seem to have just talked about myself again. Oops.


BusyLizzie said...

Hi Elaine, I like seeing the list of the blogs you enjoy.. I keep meaning to do it, but never quite get around to it! As for the packaging. I am a great believer in practical, secure & safe. I am afraid that in all my years of selling on ebay those have been the priorities (and NO ribbons or bows.. sorry!) I plan to steer clear of twitter as I waste quite enough of my day visiting blogs.. facebook... and replying to emails! Have a fab weekend. Lizzie x

Sal said...

Hi there!
I read that with interest ! The pics were great too!
I always include a freebie when people buy things from me but I don't go mad on pretty packaging which I know will go straight in the bin! Like Lizzie,safe and secure is top priority.
I don't tweet! I find that blogging takes up enough of my internet time...and then there's crafting and my other 'real' job. In fact I don't know how people fit all the online things into their day!!

Menopausal musing said...

Well I read ALL your posts, but dont comment all the time. I dont mind if stuff comes with free gifts or not, just like it to arrive. I seem to leap from blog to blog sometimes only because I see an interesting name attached to a comment...... or because the comment itself was interesting. What I have loved is having contact with people who have similar interests.

Hen said...

Interesting! To be honest, I'm not sure there's any such thing as a "free" gift, a bit like "free delivery", it still has to be either bought or made and therefore comes with an attached expense which has to be factored in somewhere. Sometimes, it's nice to get a free gift, like you say when you've made a substantial order, but other times, it's just a little something I really don't need. I certainly don't expect anything for free and I'm a bit shocked people do, it's the sort of thing I'd tell my child off for expecting! I think if the item you're selling is well made/chosen and priced, your customers will return.

Country Cottage Chic said...

I like things to be well packed - in other words, if it's fragile make sure it's packed well enough not to break. I'm often surprised at how poorly some people do pack.
I've been selling on ebay for about 10 years & my shop for the last 2 years & have had very few items that I've sent arrived damaged in all that time.
But, I do like my packages to make a good impression when they arrive so I take care when wrapping & usually wrap in colourful tissue paper & I always include a business card or postcard.

I certainly don't expect anyone to add anything extra, but it is nice when they do. I tend to do it around Christmas time as a small thank you to my customers - something useful like a pen for instance.


Wanda said...

I love this post...I've had those same thoughts for awhile now. I'm too chicken to post something like that on my blog. I have an etsy shop and I try to add a little something extra with my business card, but you never know if people enjoy it or not. Thanks for putting it out there. :)

TK said...

It's a bit different, but when we sell merchandise at work, we often pop in a leaflet. Costs are minimal and some of them have interesting designs on so people are likely to pin them on a notice board or pass them on. It's not so much about being nice as spreading the word, especially if you have a logo or a distinctive name.

I've learnt that you have to pimp your blog, sometimes quite shamelessly. It feels awkward at first but everyone in my sphere does it (does that make me sound like a goldfish in a bowl?). I'm more than happy to give anyone's blog a read once.

a mermaids purse said...

lovely blog and wonderful treasures and goodies ;0)...i loved reading your post!- i know what you mean. i felt sorry for my nearly 9 month preggers twin who runs an etsy shop she recieved a very angry message off a buyer about one of her hand made badges saying it wasnt like the one her friend bought!- even though in the piccy on etsy you could cleary see from 3 angles what the badge would look like!...i think some people expect more for less...i know the more swapsies ive strated to do that my packaging has improved! felt awful on my first ever swap- id send stuff in a brown boring envelope with no real pretty touches!...but ive become abit more arty in the swapsie styly hehe

Camilla said...

I'm terrible at doing the freebies/nice packaging thing! I do try and wrap things safely and use pretty tissue paper as well, but really i'm more concerned about making sure I send them out on time to the right person. As for freebies, I don't tend to add anything extra in, but on occasion i'll add an extra card or some badges, especially if someone has been really nice to deal with. I just sold a bunch of clothes via ebay and included a postcard with each one, just with a short thankyou on, and I actually got people writing that it had made their day to receive that! For me I think sticking a postcard in is a win win thing- i've got hundreds of them, they have a nice image on, and they've got all my details on- they will either get chucked in the bin, pinned to the fridge or maybe even direct people to my website.

I have to say i'm loving Twitter, which maybe one of the reasons i'm blogging less- the fact that you are so limited in what you can say makes it really immediate and means i'm more likely to respond. I've already won freebies to the Tate and been able to book tickets for events via it at short notice, which works wonderfully for someone like me who hates using the phone!

Annie @ Birdcages n Butterflies x said...

Hi There!
I came across your blog from 'Blog Surfing' A past time which for me entails clicking on a bloglink that has been displayed in the sidebar and then doing the same when you finished with that blog and so on....
Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post!!!!
Annie x