Blogging can become very inclusive within a niche; within fashion blogging exists a niche of blogs dedicated to Anthropologie. A few weeks ago posts leaked off of Get Off My Internets about Anthroholic (see here, here, and here. Also, don't pretend you don't secretly read GOMI, too.). Suze also writes a great piece explaining the scandal, while talking about our relationships with personal finance.
In short: the young lady running Anthroholic began a personal shopping service on her site– she'd buy things from Anthropologie for those who were unable to get the items themselves (such as for those living overseas). Then items stopped being shipped, though they had been paid for, and excuses started to fly: “Anthropologie sent the wrong size,” or “Oh, didn't you get my email.” This happened at an alarming rate, people did not receive products, and many were not receiving refunds.
The point of this post isn't to judge the gal behind Anthroholic, and I urge you not to do so either. Rather, I want to use this scenario as a lesson for bloggers running their own businesses off their blogs.
I've worked with a lot of indie designers over the years, especially those that make custom items (like corsets and clothing). In that time, I've come across this problem more times than I'd like to admit.
Nowadays many bloggers use their blogs as a platform for launching their own businesses: online shops, style consulting, freelance writing, personal shopping, and more. For many of us, running those businesses, on top of blogging, other jobs and lives, can prove to be challenge. This is especially true when we're just normal men and women, not MBA students!
These are tips I find can help alleviate the problems that rise when running your own online business:
- Even if it's a hobby or just for friends, treat your side business like a business. Don't change the rules for yourself as you go along.
- Don't overextend yourself or your business by offering more than you can realistically handle.
- Always act with your readers & clients in mind. You're launching this business to earn extra money, to gain experience, build up clientele and your resume. Don't let your own pursuits get in the way of the fact you're offering a service to others.
- Build your own standards of ethics of how you would want to be treated & treat those you do business with accordingly.
- Use contracts to protect yourself, your reputation and work, and your clients.
- Utilize third party sites for handling financial transactions, such as Paypal, that offer dispute protection for seller and buyer. And buyers– don't let the dispute period for Paypal slip away from you!
- Most importantly–always, ALWAYS be open, honest, and communicative with the people you are working with. Your clients won't bite if something goes wrong. They won't chase after you with pitchforks if things get delayed. But if you lie or hide that there is a problem, they'll feel like you are stealing their money. And that's when the internet WILL chase after you with an e-pitchfork!
Any tips you'd add? What do you think helps alleviate the drama between running your indie business and the expectations of clients?