Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Dream Sample Boxes Now On Sale

January's My Dream Sample Box is now on sale. They offer two sizes for their monthly samplers: the small size feature 15-20 samples and costs $22.50, and the large size features 21-30 samples and costs $44.00 - prices include Domestic (US) Shipping.

So.....what is My Dream Sample Box? Well, they feature Handmade Businesses and cater to a very targeted audience: "We also get your samples out to some of the top party and event planners out there." This does not mean that you have to be a party planner to buy one of their just means that the samples are geared toward party and event planners.

They also offer a Direct Sales Sampler 6 times a year (next one will go on sale on Jan 31st) that features businesses such as Avon, Mary Kay, Scentsy, etc. These samplers provide information about the various direct sales businesses (in case you're looking to go into direct sales) as well as product samples.

Want to learn more about My Dream Sample Box? In addition to their website, be sure to check out their blog and Facebook page! And be sure to let them know that you heard about them from us!

I have not yet personally tried one of their samplers, but I would love to hear from anyone who has!

Sample Z Boxes Now On Sale

January's Sample Z Box is now on sale. From their product listing:

An assortment of wonderful samples from over 15 Zibbet Shop owners to give you a premium look at what we can do!!

That's over 15 samples and coupons that you will receive UP TO 6 pieces of JEWELRY in this BOX, not to mention ALL THE OTHER WONDERFUL GOODIES!!

One of the many samplers listed over there in the right column is Sample Z Box. This sampler features only Handmade sellers with shops on Zibbet. What is Zibbet? Well, it is another selling site, similar to Etsy and Artfire. So, if you want to meet some new Handmade sellers and check out a new selling site, then head on over to Sample Z Box and try one of their samplers! These samplers cost $18, which includes Domestic (US) shipping. To learn more about Sample Z Box, go to their blog or their Facebook page. And be sure to let them know that you heard about them from us!

I have not yet personally tried one of their samplers, but I took the plunge and ordered one of this month's samplers. I will post a review when it arrives. Anyone else tries one of these samplers, would love to hear from you!

Till we meet again...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Issue of Selling Samplers...

As I mentioned in my last post, we need to take a look at the very popular question, "So let me get this straight -- these businesses (samplers) SELL the products that the Handmade businesses send them for FREE???" Actually, here's an example of this question that I have received since taking over The Little Black Boxes: "Crafters send in samples of items for free and The Little Black Box packages them into boxes and sells them for money, right? Why would I want to give someone 100 pairs of earrings so they can sell them?"

Some sampler owners, as I have witnessed in the Etsy forums, get very defensive when asked this question, but I LOVE the opportunity to explain this!

First, businesses must consider the samples they submit to TLBB (or any other sampler on the market) as part of their advertising costs, in the same way that they would pay for an ad in a magazine that is then sold to customers by the publisher.

Yes, all samplers on the market (and there are several) do ask for businesses to submit samples which they then package and sell to their customer base. The sampler businesses DO NOT take credit for the work of the contributing businesses and are in business for the sole (or at least the primary) purpose of providing an advertising service for those businesses. Yes, they must promote their samplers as well as the individual businesses, but without promoting (and selling) their samplers, the contributing businesses' work would not get into the hands of potential customers.

And, yes, folks who buy samplers do go on to buy from the contributing businesses! This type of advertising does not work for everyone, but IT DOES WORK!

As to the issue of the sampler business making a profit off the work of the contributing businesses -- The $20 we charge for TLBB Boxes barely covers all of our costs. It has to cover packaging and packing materials (I do get USPS Priority Mail boxes at no cost from the post office, but I have to buy boxes for International customers as well as paper and ink to print the shipping labels, packing tape, tissue paper, gift boxes, ribbon / bows, business cards & postcards), the costs of the website and newsletter services, shipping, and PayPal fees. Plus, I advertise our boxes on a couple different sites, and these costs come out of this $20 also. And this does not pay a wage at all for me or my mother (co-owner), who spend countless hours each month promoting the Boxes and contributors, in addition to the time it takes us to sort, package, and post the boxes. We are not in this to make a profit -- we took over TLBB because we believe in the business concept and truly want to help Handmade businesses advertise and grow their businesses.

Any questions? Please post them! Would love to hear any feedback and suggestions for future articles, too! Till we meet again... 

PS -- Forgot to mention that income taxes also have to be taken out of that $20 per box charge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What are Samplers???

Let's start with the basics, shall we? What exactly is a sampler???

A sampler is a collection of products submitted by a variety of businesses. Some products may be "sample size", while others are "full size" products. Either way, they should be accurate representations of the businesses' products that they offer for sale through their websites.

Most samplers limit participation to Handmade businesses, but some do not. The reason that most samplers focus on Handmade is a simple one: selling Handmade online is tough! Samplers came about as a way to help Handmade businesses advertise. Think about it for a moment -- when you go to a craft sale, do you walk through the show with your hands in your pockets? Or do you pick up things that interest you in order to inspect the workmanship? And let's not forget about sniffing the scented items and maybe even trying out a few samples (I know many of the shows around me have food vendors who offer samples, and even some of the bath & body vendors offer samples). This interaction is lost online. There's no sniffing, trying, or inspecting.

Samplers provide a way to sniff, try, and inspect before purchasing from an online Handmade business. And they are a great way to "meet" new Handmade businesses! The bath and body market, as well as the jewelry market, are quite flooded right now. What better way to bring attention to your products than by putting them in the hands of folks who love and appreciate Handmade and want to support Handmade businesses?!?

Samplers really are a great investment, for both the Handmade businesses and the buyers! We'll be discussing this more as time goes on, and tomorrow we'll be looking at the question, "So let me get this straight -- these businesses (samplers) SELL the products that the Handmade businesses send them for free???" (LOVE this question!)

Any questions you'd like addressed, please post them in the comments! Till we meet again....

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Welcome to Samplers and Such!

I hope you will enjoy learning about how to make the most of samples for your Handmade Business, whether you are contributing them to samplers (see the side menu for a list of samplers), submitting them to be included in "swag bags" for craft shows or other events, or using them in other ways to promote your business.

Happy 2011!!!