Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shopping Bags for your Books

Shopping bags from Big Lots (left) and Hobby Lobby (right)

Do you use shopping bags for your book events? If you're doing a signing at a book store, they will be the ones to provide strong, professionally made bags for your books at the cashier. But what about other events such as speaking engagements, parties, craft fairs and fundraisers?

In the past, I have been very frugal, watching all my pennies, recycling crumpled-up store bags for bagging my books. It wasn't very professional, but it worked. It's always good to recycle grocery bags. Customers never complained, in fact they were always glad I had something to use so they wouldn't have to risk dropping or damaging my books while they continued their shopping.

This has been a good year and I got an idea that I want to share with you. As I shopped at our local Dollar Tree store I passed by rolls of decorated kraft paper. The paper was fairly strong and I liked the design. It occurred to me it was time to learn how to make my own shopping bags. For only a dollar, I bought the roll and went home and found a couple of  Youtube videos on how to make your own gift bags.

With some tape, paste or glue, scissors, yard stick, and recycled cardboard, I got to work. Here are a couple of links, if you want to try this out.

Paper bag tutorial
Boutique Gift Bags

Using a roll of paper gave me the freedom to make various sizes of paper bags and I managed to make 13 paper bags from just one roll! That's about 10 cents a bag if you include the glue, tape and ribbon handles. I made several small bags, a few mediums and the rest large.  After making the first two bags, the rest were easy and quick to make.

I can't tell you how proud I was to be able to hand out my fancy shopping bags to my customers at the Fall Women's Expo. Now I am thinking of adding my name or logo to them for the next fundraiser. But what if you just don't have time to make your bags? Did you check out some of the sales last weekend at Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, or Hobby Lobby?  I did!

Now is the time to shop for holiday decorated gift bags at bargain prices. I was thrilled to find a 10 bag set at Big Lots for only $5.99 (See the photo above) and even better, Hobby Lobby was selling their kraft bag sets at 50% off last weekend. I got 12 plain sturdy medium size bags (see above) for only $3! That's only 25 cents a bag, and you don't have to do a thing unless you want to decorate them. And if you keep the receipts, you can write this off on your business!

Image means a lot when you are out in public. My business cards, mini flyers and brochures have all done their job in promoting my books and crafts. Now it's time to invest a few dollars into packaging. I plan to store several bags in my car trunk with my crate of books so I am always ready to sell my books in style to customers whenever I am out on the road. You'd be amazed how often I sell my books during my travels.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. May the next few weeks be filled with holiday cheer, love and joy! God keep you all safe and well. Thank you for following my blog and being my friends.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 Fall Book & Craft Events

I hope everyone did well for Halloween. I went to the local "Fright Night" event that takes place here in town. It was crowded, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the cool evening giving and receiving candy. My husband and I went out to dinner and then I milled about the many princesses, zombies, etc... to give out all my candy. It was a good evening and I saw some really creative costumes.

With the holiday season underway, I am getting to work on marketing and creating. This includes some mini-flyers that easily fit in my purse. Promoting your events is important if you want folks to come see you. Online announcements are good. Social media is good, but don't forget to carry flyers on you to pass out at friendly local businesses who don't mind sharing/posting your flyer. Here is what I came up with that is working really well. I get two double-sided flyers that are made from one sheet of 8.5X11 paper. I use MSPublisher to design and make these.

On the back of the flyer are the events I will be attending:

Please note: My book signing at the Book Exchange has been changed to Nov. 18th / 1 - 5PM.

As you may notice, most of these events are fundraisers for local area organizations. I enjoy doing such events so that it helps people in our city i.e. the seniors, students and veterans. Havasu is a patriotic city, and my husband and I are both veterans. We are proud to live here and help out as we can. My books do well at craft fairs too. If you are self-published like I am, there is nothing wrong with you taking your books to sell. Make sure you tell visitors at your table that your books are your creative endeavor that took a lot of work, time and creativity. Show your pride and smile a lot, whether they buy your book or not. Show them you're professional and friendly. I have and some customers come back later to buy simply because you had a good encounter originally.

I hope you find this mini-flyer idea helpful if you are planning to do any events this holiday season. It doesn't cost much to design, print and cut in half so that you can take them with to pass out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below or contact me.