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The Merriweather Council Podcast

The Merriweather Council podcast, hosted by Danielle Spurge, is all about celebrating the reality of gainful self employment through craft. This is a podcast for art and design entrepreneurs - makers, etsy sellers and shopify users! Featuring tips, insights, advice and tough love for handmade business owners in concise format. Focused on sharing realistic ideas and personal experiences with the nuances of handmade business in mind. If you are working to turn your crafty tendencies into profits, tune in every Tuesday and Thursday.
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Aug 2, 2022

Pricing your handmade products sucks…

That’s just the truth. It makes the impulse to do some of these things very real! It is true that pricing is hard, and it inevitably involves math which, for me, makes it even worse.

There are lots of best practices for pricing your handmade products, I’ll point you in the direction of our top pricing resources in this post! For now though, let’s make sure you know what NOT to do.

Before we get started, I want to remind you that underpricing is bad for everyone, not just you!

Here are the 4 things you definitely do not want to do when pricing your handmade products for sale on Etsy, Shopify or anywhere else.

 

For full show notes please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/174

 

For a full list of all episodes please visit merripodcast.com

Jul 26, 2022

The idea of launching handmade product lines usually brings up one of two emotions: YAY or UGH.

(Both are entirely valid!)

If you feel more UGH than yay, I get you. I, too, dislike using the launch model in my own business.

The handmade product lines launch model I am referring to is one you are probably familiar with. It starts with teasing out a new product line for a few weeks before launching it live for sale at a certain time on a certain date. Usually, there is some fanfare in that build-up process and on the launch date! It might involve a mailing list, email blast, social media campaign or even the help of influencers. It tends to be a multi-faceted project and quite a bit of work concentrated on a single ‘event.’

Launching is a semi-popular approach particularly for product-based businesses and many handmade business owners enjoy it! (I’m not one of them but many sellers do love it.)

 

For full show notes visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/173.

For a list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com

Jul 19, 2022

Hitting a sales goal is a milestone, hitting a revenue goal is a milestone. Revenue is not purpose, and neither is a number of sales. You did NOT wake up this morning just to make progress on hitting a milestone.

Ask yourself why you’re working toward that milestone. That’ll get you closer to knowing what your purpose really is.

We work for a bigger purpose. For those moments of “HELL YES, this!” For that surge of excitement about being able to do something you REALLY wanted to do. For that giddy feeling you get from actually doing the things you could have only dreamed about doing when you were 18. For the pride that comes with knowing you can support your family.

You do NOT work for “I have 4,500 sales on my Etsy shop.” But you CAN celebrate that, because maybe, if you are doing it right, it gets you closer to achieving your purpose.

The other difference between purpose and milestones is that milestones come and go, they are fleeting moments – purpose maintains. Purpose is ongoing.

Your business should be mostly enjoyable and should help you make these other ENJOYABLE things possible.

The absolute first step is believing it’s possible to have a business that helps you get closer to your purpose + surrounding yourself with others who believe it too. Don’t skip it!

 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/172.

 

For a complete list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com.

Jul 12, 2022

As you know by now, my team and I support and encourage a small handmade business structure that makes use of one marketplace and one autonomous off-Etsy website. 

Specifically, we recommend Etsy as the marketplace and Shopify as the platform for building your independent domain shop.

Whenever I speak about Shopify, inevitably, the question of other platforms comes up

“What about Wix?”
“What about Squarespace?” 

Today I want to answer that fully and in a meaningful way. Not just so you what my answer is but so that you understand why that is my answer.

 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/171

 

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes please visit merripodcast.com

Jul 5, 2022

Today’s episode is not about disliking the social media algorithm or marketing platform algorithms.

I know that many people have issues with algorithms, particularly Instagram’s algorithm, and trust me, I’ve done my fair share of complaining about it.

However, this episode is about something much more sinister: the culture surrounding those algorithms and the widespread messaging that we must appeal to these algorithms or we are doomed.

My issue is with the culture surrounding the algorithms – and the messaging that seems commonplace to appeal to the algorithm or don’t expect to get anywhere. This is not a positive or encouraging message.

For too long, I let this message about the social media algorithm get to me. I allowed the idea that unless I work on the preferred schedule and create the preferred content in the preferred formats, I won’t be successful. And that is incorrect.

My job is to share my message with YOU. If the algorithm wants to assist and make it more likely that you see my message, that’s great. Very helpful. But when I sit down to create things, I do it with YOU in mind, not the algorithm. I feel like we live in a world where the algorithm is the priority, not the human – that includes the human creating it and the human consuming it.

Share your message. Share what you want to share. Share what you WANT TO CREATE. Just because your artwork or product doesn’t fit the Instagram aesthetic doesn’t mean it can’t connect to people there, and it certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it.

 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/170

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes please visit merripodcast.com

Jun 28, 2022

FIRST STEPS WHEN SALES SLOW DOWN

Remind yourself, it’s normal, and it happens.

Next, consider this a bit of a gift. We are all continually trying to find time for things, aren’t we? I think most people are looking for some extra time on most days. Consider a slow spell, an opportunity to catch up on something that’s been lingering, or a chance to explore something new that’s been on your list.

You might have tasks that have moved from one month’s to-do list to the next several times already. Get those things done! Take the time and make it useful to you. Anticipate that things will not stay slow forever and prepare for things to pick back up.

QUESTIONS FOR SLOW OR SLUGGISH SALES

I know that telling yourself it’s normal, and looking on the bright side won’t always make your worries about it go away. Likely, that will not be enough, which is why we have a list of questions you can ask yourself if sales are slow or stalled in your handmade business. 

For full show notes for this episode visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/169

For a full list of all merripodcast episodes visit merripodcast.com

Jun 21, 2022

Of course, when we say Etsy SEO, that means Search Engine Optimization specific to Etsy’s native search engine. Etsy SEO is a common focal point for Etsy sellers, maybe even to a fault.

Here are three things I want you to know about Etsy SEO off the top to get this started:

1. The factors that go into Etsy SEO and how it is calculated and achieved do not change as often or as dramatically as people seem to think it does. 

2. SEO is not the be-all, end-all to Etsy success! This applies anywhere. SEO might get you found, but it is not the thing that makes sales. SEO is a marketing strategy, not a sales strategy!

3. You shouldn’t focus so much on SEO (on any platform) that you forget about other important areas of optimization.

To get the full show notes for this episode visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/148

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes visit merripodcast.com

To find out how to make your Etsy shop work harder for you visit merritrainingcourse.com

Jun 14, 2022

I’ve posted about this on Instagram before, and it always seems to ignite a little fire. No one cares about your Etsy sales number besides you.

Etsy is not a perfect platform, but it is a damn good one. We believe it is the best marketplace handmade business owners have right now.

Sellers (and some buyers) often gripe about Etsy changes, but for me I find this one UNCHANGED thing is my biggest gripes: displaying the seller’s sales number on the homepage of the Etsy shop. It’s been this way since day one and hasn’t changed.

The fact that Etsy publicly displays your sales number has ALWAYS seemed ridiculous to me.

To get the full show notes for this episode, visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/144

To see the full list of all merripodcast episodes, visits merripodcast.com

To make your Etsy shop work harder for you, visit merritrainingcourse.com

Jun 7, 2022

Today I'm sharing with you some big news. Probably the biggest news I've ever shared here.

I've always tried to keep the podcast timeless and evergreen, so I haven't shared much "news" here. But I digress.

This is the last new episode of The Merriweather Council Podcast.

Not for the summer, not for this season - but actually forever.

First, I want to thank you for being here today and for every time you streamed the podcast. It's truly been an honor to create this content and share it with you, knowing that it ultimately might impact your business, and I appreciate the trust you've put in me and my team not only here on the podcast but throughout the business. 

There are many reasons for this decision, but most are highly personal or boring. I'll share the key reason with you here, though. 

There are many different ways to define success, but I can't accomplish all of them within this business. And there are other things I want to do that would bring me to other versions of success. But I need to make space for them.

I want to be clear before going forward. I have absolutely no intention of sharing this as advice. This is just what's happening for me. 

 

For full show notes and links mentioned, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/166


For a complete list of all Merripodcast episodes visit merripodcast.com

To join the free masterclass while it's still available visit merritrainingcourse.com

May 24, 2022

Etsy shop audits. What are they? Is that the same as a shop critique? Should you invest in one? And why I don't offer them!

Years ago, I DID offer this as a service. I have done hundreds of Etsy shop audits.

I did shop audits for sellers at all levels, in all different niches, for all different types of products – handmade, vintage digital- all of them.

And what I found was that I was repeating myself quite a bit. Even in the follow-up written points, the additional resources, the extra input, and beyond – even when people would write back with questions… they were the same questions.

I know now that this is because until a certain baseline is implemented, the information that people receive in audits is not personalized.


For all the links mentioned and to get full show notes for this episode, visit merriweathercouncilpodcast.com/165

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com.

May 10, 2022

Worried you might be you are underpricing your handmade product? I’m glad it’s on your mind because pricing properly is the foundation on which you build a sustainable business.

Regardless of your niche, style, medium, or experience level, pricing properly is key to having a handmade business that can endure, grow, and thrive.

To put it simply: if you aren’t pricing for profit, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby. There is nothing wrong with hobbies, of course, but they are best when you know you have one, not when you are trying to accomplish something else for a year and then realize you were on the wrong track.

In this episode, I reveal the 5 sneaky signs that you need to adjust your pricing.

For all the links mentioned in this episode and for full show notes, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/164 

 

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com.

Apr 26, 2022
Does it ever feel like no one else struggles quite as much as you do to identify or define their ideal customer avatar? There’s a reason for that… 

What if I told you that the key to finding your ideal customer avatar is your product seller profile?

This is my theory about how the way that you become a seller of original products impacts how you determine who your ideal customer is. 

 

I think there are 3 ways you can become a seller of original products and i’m going to cover each one and provide insight into the ideal customer discovery for each

There are three primary ways I believe people become sellers of original products:

The Shark Tank way

The natural-born entrepreneur way

The maker way

There are probably others but they likely would fit into any of those ultimately and for the purpose of the lesson, these three provide enough context. And as you’ll see there can be overlap between these.

For full episode notes visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/163

To see a full list of all Merripodcast episodes visit merripodcast.com



Apr 12, 2022

The absolute best way to find customers for your Etsy shop will probably surprise you. 

As you know, I am a huge proponent of Etsy and I think it’s a powerful tool that all craft-based business owners would be smart to make use of. I also believe that you should not send prospective buyers to your Etsy shop.

It might sound like those two statements contradict each other, but by the end of this episode, you will understand exactly why they don’t.

*Please note: This episode was recorded before Etsy announced their fee adjustment which is now live. The fee % mentioned in this episode reflects the rate it was before April 11th 2021. The explanation around the fee is still accurate!*

For full show notes for this episode visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/162

For a list of all Merripodcast episodes visit merripodcast.com

Mar 29, 2022

I’m excited to share with you what happened when I deleted 3000-4000 Instagram followers from my @merriweatherc Instagram account! 

 

This episode covers my own experience and what happened when I deleted followers. I hope that it can provide some insight that you can benefit from if you also use Instagram as a marketing tool in your handmade business.


There were no hard and fast rules here, but I did have some key points I'd look for when determining if an account should be removed.

 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/161.

 

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com.

 

Mar 15, 2022
As you know by now, my team and I support and encourage a small handmade business structure that makes use of one marketplace and one autonomous standalone site. 

 

Specifically, we recommend Etsy as the marketplace and Shopify as the platform for building your independent domain shop.

 

Whenever I speak about Shopify, inevitably, the question of other platforms comes up

"What about Wix?"

"What about Squarespace?" 

 

Today I want to answer that fully and in a meaningful way. Not just so you what my answer is but so that you understand why that is my answer.



To get full shownotes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/160

 

For a full list of all Merripodcast episodes, visit merripodcast.com

Mar 1, 2022
Etsy Predictions for 2022 and 2021 Recap 
At the end of 2020, I wrote a blog post about 3 things I predicted Etsy would do in 2021.
I went back to check in on them, and at first, it was a little murky deciding on if my predictions materialized or not. Conservatively, we saw half-correctness of 2 of my 3 predictions. 

I had another prediction that I didn't publish when I wrote the original article, mainly because it was boring. I did anticipate that Etsy would implement payment plans, and they did! You can now pay for Etsy purchases over several payments through a service called Klarna. So that's a cool feature; it's just not a particularly exciting one to talk about.


For full show notes and a list of all Merripodcast episodes, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/159

Jun 15, 2021

I don’t want anybody to feel bad if they did this, but this is not a good strategy.

It’s not wise to do this. This concept can apply to any platform. This is not specific to Etsy. As I said earlier, this is something that came about because of Etsy but many platforms already offer more than ten image spaces. You want to always be mindful of what you are including in listings. Don’t just use space because it’s there. Use space wisely.

If someone discovers your listing (yay!) and they click into it (yay!), they explore some of the info (yay!),  scrolli through some of your images (yay!) that is all exactly what you want!! If someone has gotten that far into your listing, and is that deep into looking at your product, why on earth would we want to distract them with a graphic that indicates they should stop what they are doing on the listing and leave the page to do something else? 

If you put a social media handles or opt-in coupon image in your listing, you are interrupting the buying process.

If someone has gotten through image one, image two, image three, image four, image five, image six, image seven – if they are that far into your listing, if they have gone into your listing that deep, it is your responsibility and opportunity to convert that person to make a purchase! Your listing’s purpose is to convert sales, not to grow your social media following. 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/157

Jun 10, 2021

Do you ever feel like you know how to do a lot of things and how much knowledge you have from your years of random online learning and freebie gathering and yet… still struggle to make progress in your business?

I've been there!! (I do not feel nostalgic for it, but because I learned some vital lessons, I will revisit those wayward years today for the greater good!)

On this episode, I am diving into why that happens. I'll be answering the age-old (just me?) question: Why do we struggle to achieve our goals, and what do we really need to reach those goals a little bit easier? 

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/156

Jun 8, 2021

It’s no secret that as a business owner you will, at some point, usually multiple points, have unhappy customers. While unhappy customers are less frequent than happy customers or customers we never hear from, either way, customer service is a daily activity in any business.

It is true that customer service exists at every turn, but the part of it that I’ve noticed is trickiest is at the very end of the transaction, specifically if someone is unhappy.

What should you do, as a handmade business owner who wants to remain human and friendly but also not have anxiety and stress over what to do with customer service issues that might come up?

Drum roll, please… You have actually probably already done it: it’s your policy.

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/155

Jun 3, 2021

The idea of launching a product line usually brings up one of two emotions: YAY or UGH.

(Both are entirely valid!)

If you feel more UGH than yay, I get you. I, too, dislike using the launch model in my own business.

The launch model I am referring to is one you are probably familiar with. It starts with teasing out a new product line for a few weeks before launching it live for sale at a certain time on a certain date. Usually, there is some fanfare in that build-up process and on the launch date! It might involve a mailing list, email blast, social media campaign or even the help of influencers. It tends to be a multi-faceted project and quite a bit of work concentrated on a single ‘event.’ 

Launching is a semi-popular approach particularly for product-based businesses and many handmade business owners enjoy it! (I’m not one of them but many sellers do love it.)

I get asked about product launching quite a bit and I’ve heard a variety of concerns. I am going to address as many of those today as possible!

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/154

Jun 1, 2021

Today I am diving into the quandary of consistency in business. So elusive! What does “consistency” in business actually look like? What does it mean when we say we want more consistency? And why does it sometimes seem unattainable or frustrating to accomplish that at times?

We are ALL always looking for consistency in business, usually, that means sales but it could mean other things like subscribers or followers, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Is this achievable? I believe that is! BUT we have to work on what we REALLY mean when we say it. Like, truly define what we mean when we say we want consistency.

Consistency is too loose of a term for most of us to feel secure with. 

If we give ourselves a more liberal and realistic view of consistency then we have the opportunity to celebrate and ‘succeed’ more often!

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/153


May 27, 2021

Here at The Merriweather Council, we are VERY pro-Etsy. That is probably pretty obvious by now. However, we are also huge proponents of having your own standalone eCommerce site in addition to Etsy. (We recommend Shopify for building that standalone site!)

We wholeheartedly suggest handmade business owners have both!

We love Etsy and believe it’s the best marketplace handmade business owners have available right now. 

Are there things I wish they would change? Of course!

I’ve been in a relationship with Etsy for nearly 11 years. Just like any long-term relationship, there are things I have found I don’t LOVE. But, for me, none of these issues were deal-breakers. 

There are a lot of great features of Etsy, and one of those is choice. Sellers can CHOOSE to use many functions or not. Such as shipping labels, sales and couponing tools, listing videos, and on-site Etsy ads.

You’ve likely heard me say I do not recommend using Etsy’s on-site ads. I am not against on-site ads; I just don’t think you need them - I know you don’t need them! Further, it’s not the best use of a marketing budget.

But a little explanation might be helpful here!

For full show notes and all mentioned links please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/152


Disclaimer: This content is published by The Merriweather Council. The Merriweather Council is not affiliated with Etsy Inc. Etsy is a trademark of Etsy Inc. We write about Etsy, from our own experiences, not for Etsy.



May 25, 2021

Every year I make an effort to deliver this message regarding the summer sales slump to help you get proactive and manage expectations during this time so you can turn your slump into your most valuable season.

This is about using summer wisely to avoid a lack of focus and preparing for a successful holiday season!

My hope is to make this summer sales slump feel less scary and to assure you that it is very, very normal!

I want to give you the heads up on what you need in order to maximize this season of summer and the season that's coming after it based on what I know from real-life experience.

In this episode, you’re going to learn the three major pitfalls that most makers fall into during the summer months that you definitely want to avoid. It will also cover the timeline that you need to understand and know how to work with. Plus, the five key pieces to turning your slump into the most valuable season.

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/151



May 20, 2021

I don’t work for an algorithm.

I understand that every platform has best practices and things it’s good to be aware of. I’m okay with basic rules and guidelines, but I’m not okay with being told I shouldn’t even bother unless what I want to do will make an invisible robot happy. That is so discouraging and toxic.

I don’t have any issues with the existence of the algorithms on any platform. I understand and support that there has to be an algorithm in place; otherwise, things would move so fast it would be useless. 

Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and other massive platforms handle so much content from so many users and deliver it to so many users; there needs to be a system (algorithm) to manage it. 

The algorithm is a huge part of what makes those platforms functional and enjoyable as a user. Are they perfect? No. Are there a million things about it that we don’t know and don’t understand? Yes.

My issue is with the culture surrounding the algorithms - and the messaging that seems commonplace to appeal to the algorithm or don’t expect to get anywhere. This is not a positive or encouraging message.

For full show notes and all the links mentioned in this episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/150








May 18, 2021

At one point or another, I believe all makers will receive a message requesting information related to HOW they make their products and with what materials exactly.  I know this is a moderately controversial topic in the maker space, and as always I want to remind you that we do not have to agree on this at all.

Everyone gets to choose how they run their business - it’s important that we all respect the choices other business owners have made even if they aren’t the same as the choices we would make for our business.

Of course, those kinds of prodding supply questions could come from potential buyers who have a particular interest in something that is not currently outlined in your shop, for example, ‘is it vegan’ or similar.

Often though, these inquiries come from people who just want to make what you make, either to bypass the purchasing process thinking it will save money (does it ever?) or because they do already (or want to, or think they want to) sell that same sort of product that you do.

It’s entirely up to you how you handle these situations. Some people don’t mind being asked and will share freely. 

Others feel it is an invasion of privacy, and that it threatens their business in some way.

Some people simply don’t want to spend their time teaching or educating, as it is not their jurisdiction - not their thing, not what they are here for.

There is no right or wrong answer here. 

You don’t even have to react or respond the same way each time. 

In any event, here are three possible ways you can react or reply to questions about suppliers or when people inquire about your trade secrets.

For full show notes and all links mentioned in the episode, please visit merriweathercouncilblog.com/149.






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