June 30, 2008

Branding part I - An Introduction

Lately, I've been thinking about how to establish the Pass It On Plates brand. I expect several artists and/or moms out there reading this may wonder,

"Why the heck would Pam care about that?"

Branding is critical for any small business working toward establishing itself and standing out from the competition. While Pass It On Plates may not have a lot of obvious competition in the field of interactive traveling plates, we still compete with everyone else selling gifts.

If you are new to this "Branding" concept, it's simple to grasp. Think about who says "Snap crackle pop!", imagine a certain fast food restaurant's golden arches, or envision the shape associated with the phrase "Just Do It."

Branding is an image and/or phrase
that your customer identifies as "you."

At this writing, there is not a lot of branding going on here at the Pass It On Plates blog. Or website for that matter. We put our flying plate logo on the plates and we show it off in pictures. It's on some promotional materials that we give away, such as mugs and tote bags, but that's about it. How many times do you see it as part of our web presence? Let's count: Blog? none.Plate diaries? none. Website? none again. Etsy store? consistently, none.

Grand total: Zilch. That's not good.

At the top of this summer's To Do list is: Establish the Pass It On Plates brand. Branding is new to me and I am learning as I go. Throughout this process I will share what I have learned and I'll offer ideas on how to make this work for you, whether you have a creative business, a Mommy blog, or some other home-based business that you wish to grow.

Next: Developing a Logo
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June 29, 2008

Our biggest Flying Plate giveaway yet!


Over 20 names, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

How would you like to get a free Pass It On Plate?
How about a free set of four Pass It On Plates?

From July 1 through the end of September, you can enter to win every time you make a plate diary comment. The more plate diary comments you make, the more chances you have to win!

Whoo hoo!

What do I win?
At the end of every month we draw the winner of a Flying Plate mug with your choice of gourmet cocoa or gourmet coffee.

And...
At the end of September we draw two winners!
One winner gets a brand-spankin' new Pass It On Plate ~
and the Grand prize is a set of four brand-spankin' new Pass It On Plates.
Winners of these plates get to mix and match the plate color, the PlateWrap, the Pretty Little Doo Dad, and special paint pen color of their choice to totally personalize their prize.

Here's how you can enter:

1. Make a valid plate diary comment.
Visit our Plate Diaries at http://passitonplates.blogspot.com/ and find your plate number. Leave a message in your plate's diary, follow the contest instructions on the diary page, then load the plate with treats and pass it on. No purchase necessary, but you do need to be passing the plate as you leave comments. A valid plate comment would be along the lines of "Here is a treat for you," and not "Gee I would really like to win."

2. Send us a picture of your plate.
We love love this and will give you two contest entries for these pictures! Let us know the plate number and we'll post the picture in that plate's online diary. We'd love to see how many names you have on your plate!

3. Send us a picture of you with the plate as you Pass It On.
We love love love this and will give you three contest entries for these kinds of pictures! With your permission, we'd like to post these pictures in your plate's diary as well. Make sure you tell us your plate number when you send us the pictures.

One note about the pictures: The idea is to keep these plates flying, so one picture per plate please. Don't go crazy and send us 600 pictures of you giving the same plate to Aunt Martha again and again. If you do, still you get three contest entries.

Send your pictures in jpg format to
flyingplate [at] passitonplates [dot] com.

The contest starts at 12:01am PST on July 1, 2008. Monthly prizes will be drawn for comments and photos submitted until midnight PST on the last day of each month during the contest. Grand prize winners will be drawn for comments and photos submitted until midnight PST on Sept 30, 2008.

Do you know anyone who is hard to buy for or who has everything?

This set of four Pass It On Plates would definitely help you with your holiday shopping, wouldn't it?

For more info about Pass It On Plates, check out our FAQ.
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June 27, 2008

Garden planning


Surplus Zucchini, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

This summer as you tend you vegetable garden, don't become alarmed when you see that every zucchini plated is doing well. No worries at all about having so much zucchini you won't know what to do with it.

Just put an armful of these "almost-too-easy-to-grow" summer squash on a Pass It On Plate give it to your next door neighbor.

Let her worry about who to prepare all the extra zucchini!

June 25, 2008

The Pot Luck Pass It On


The Pot Luck Pass It On, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

Sometimes a plate is not quite the right dish when you are heading to a family gathering or pot luck. This Pot Luck Pass It On is a large 12-inch diameter bowl, 5-inches deep, and perfect for that summer potato salad, marinated veggie salad, a jello, or thick juicy slices of watermelon.

Every PlateWrap fits on this bowl, so you can get this with your choice of PlateWrap. These generous serving bowls also come with a pen so you can write your name around the inside or outside of the bowl before passing it on. Each one of these bowls also have their own unique tracking number written on the back, so you can leave a message in the plate (bowl) diary before passing it on.

This Pot Luck Pass It On is an easy way to score points with your friends or siblings at your next big gathering!

These are a limited edition, and they will sell out before you know it. If you want one, get it now because when they're gone, they're . . . well, circulating at someone else's pot lucks, family reunions, tailgate parties, 4th of July picnics, movie night, . . . you get the idea.

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June 24, 2008

The Secret really is in the Sauce

Have you seen this button here and there in the blogosphere? If you have, good for you! It's brand-spankin' new. If not, listen up and pay attention: This is big.

Two very smart ladies with way more sass, energy, and caffeine in their blood than I've ever had have started up a new blog called The Secret is in the Sauce, or SITS. This new blog promotes other blogs.
Yah yah yah, sounds boring, lots of blog try to do this, whoop-de-do.
...but wait - this one is different.

Yes, they promote other blogs. They feature one blog per day with about three posts from the featured blog. They have contests. They are forming a bond within their network of readers and featured bloggers. That's all very good. But read on...

They started their blog on June 1, 2008 and on their VERY FIRST blog post they got 329 Comments. Yep, that's right. I'll spell it out for you in case you think you read that wrong.
Three hundred twenty nine comments.
They have a legion of regular readers called "SITS sistahs" and "SITSTAS" right off the bat and growing.

Anyone with a blog, or something to sell and a blog to promote it knows that readership is silver and comments are gold. So how did they do it? I haven't asked them personally, yet, but it's obvious that the bottom line is comments. They are self-professed comment junkies, and from what I can see when I visit the blogs of some of their first-post-commenters, is that they promoted the heck out of their new blog before they officially launched and they invited all their bloggy contacts and friends and email contacts to stop by and leave a comment.

Smart.

Oh, and they have invested a lot of their own money into some pretty huge contests like their first contest to generate a lot of excitement and rocket their readership - and "commentership" - to unbelievable numbers as fast as possible. They are having more contests that are still also pretty darn huge. Can you believe those prizes??

Now for the tie-in between comments and contests: in order to enter the contests, you need to visit the (very entertaining and inspiring) blogs they promote. and LEAVE COMMENTS. That's the whole point of SITS. Comments.

Brilliant move, Heather and Tiffany. A blogging gal could learn a lot from watching you two. As I type this up most of your daily posts have over 100 comments on each one. With your keen marketing and branding techniques, I bet you'll hit a thousand regular daily readers within no time.

So why am I bringing this up? First, duh, is to tell everyone to go over there and check out the contests. Second, another duh, is to tell you to comment comment comment.

Third is more subtle, but if you look at how they're doing it and why they're doing it tis will become obvious. If you find a hobby that you love, think outside the box to figure out ways to make it more than just a hobby. I think Heather and Tiffany have created a new career.

Like they say at the end of every blog post:

And, remember, when you see this:
LEAVE A COMMENT

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June 23, 2008

The Learning Curve

When the concept for Pass It On Plates first started brewing, I had no inkling that it would turn into such a huge new idea. I also did not know that there would be such a steep learning curve to getting these plates out there. With a product this fresh and new I can't put up a few nice pictures and hope someone will come along and buy one. Thousands of talented people on Etsy and other crafty shopping sites are able simply to do that, some with great success. These plates, however, are a totally new animal to be tamed and trained.

My search for a user-friendly plate diary introduced me to the world of blogging. I'd heard of it but thought it was just for political discussions. Politics bore me, so I had never taken the time to check it out. Turns out blogging is currently my best format for the plate diaries, and it wasn't long before this blog (The Pink One, as I refer to it) was born. (It is pink today. An upcoming mini makeover may change that; we'll see.) Nowdays, I love blogging and reading blogs.

The learning didn't stop with setting up a few blogs, oh no no no... Along with the blogs I've set up an Etsy store, sewed and painted up and glued and packaged an inventory of plates to sell, wrote up some marketing and promotional pieces, and built the main website that ties everything together. Whew, that's a lot of new stuff to learn! I still have business classes to take so I can learn more about what to do with all the paperwork I'm making for myself, but at least Pass It On Plates is officially "off the ground" now.

I've gotta say, though, that most of it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Starting a business and getting it registered was a lot easier than I thought. Ditto for pretty much everything in the above paragraph. If you are reading this and wanting to switch from casual crafting and turn your talent into a full-fledged business, check back here often. I'm going to start sharing some tutorials and tips to help you get your own business "off the ground," too.

As for what's the next step for Pass It On Plates, everything is in place and a big production goal has been met, so it's time to start introducing the world to Pass It On Plates. This means another learning curve: figuring out how to get the word out there.

And getting the plates out there.

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June 21, 2008

Another Cookie Cutter Tie-In


Cookie Cutter Tie-In, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

Here's a Tie-In Pretty Little Doo Dad. Whew, that's a long name! This Tie-In PLDD is a ribbon that you can tie onto any item, then pin it to your PlateWrap. We have a bunch of Tie-Ins tied around cookie cutters, all ready to go.

This particular cookie cutter is a fish shape, and is perfect with the Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty Cat PlateWrap. But you can pair up this cute Cookie Cutter Tie-In with any PlateWrap you want.

June 20, 2008

It's a Major Award!

Last night I discovered that Laurie Beggin Glass Musings bestowed
The Arte Y Pico blog award
upon this humble Pass It On Plates blog!
It's our first award! Yippee!

Before making the acceptance speech, allow me to continue the tradition and pass it along to 5 other outstanding artists and extraordinarily creative people.

Please take a moment, check them out, and be sure to leave them your congratulations:
Sylvie at http://www.albinarose.blogspot.com/

Diana at http://amutedpalette.blogspot.com/

Stacy at http://www.psilology.blogspot.com/

Ugly Baby at http://www.indiepublic.com/profiles/blog/list?user=ugbaby

and Scott at http://considerations.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=12yl6017hyjgf

To the five winners, grab the picture for your blog, and post a caption of who gave it to you.

And now for the acceptance speech.... Uhhh, well gosh, I think this award has left me speechless. Accepting this award on my behalf, we have A Christmas Story's very own Ralphie Parker and his parents:

Mr. Parker: It could be a bowling alley!
Mother: How are they going to deliver a bowling alley here tonight?
Mr. Parker: They'll send the deed for cripsake. I didn't expect them to send a whole damn bowling alley.

[Mr. Parker reads a side of the box with the prize that he won]
Mr. Parker: Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.
Mrs. Parker: Uh, I think that says FRAGILE, dear.
Mr. Parker: Oh, yeah.

[Admiring his "major award"]
Mr. Parker: It's... it's... it's indescribably beautiful! It reminds me of the Fourth of July!

Mr. Parker: [unveiling his major award] Would you look at that? Would you look at THAT?
Mother: What is it?
Mr. Parker: It's a leg!
Mother: But what is it?
Mr. Parker: Well, it's... A leg, you know, like a statue.
Mother: Statue?
Mr. Parker: Yeah, statue.
Ralphie: Yeah, statue.
Mother: Ralphie!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] My mother was trying to insinuate herself between us and the statue.

Mr. Parker: Holy smokes. Do... Do you know what this is? This is... A lamp!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] It was indeed a lamp.
Mr. Parker: Isn't that great? What a great lamp.
Mother: I don't know...
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] The old man's eyes boggled...
Mr. Parker: Oh WOW!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] ... Overcome by art.

Mr. Parker: It's a Major Award!
Swede: Shucks I wouldn't know that. It looks like a lamp.
Mr. Parker: What is a lamp, you nincompoop? It's a Major Award. I won it!
Swede: Damn, hell, you say won it?
Mr. Parker: Yeah, mind power, Swede; mind power.

... and now, to pass this on to 5 more artists before anyone breaks this fine award...
uh oh, it's tipping over!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] The old man stood there, quivering with fury, stammering as he tried to come up with a real crusher. All he got out was...
The Old Man: Naddafinga!


Thanks to IMDB and A Christmas Story for help writing this acceptance speech.

June 19, 2008

Cookie Cutter Tie-In


Cookie Cutter Tie-In, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

Here's a Tie-In Pretty Little Doo Dad. Whew, that's a long name! This Tie-In PLDD is a ribbon that you can tie onto any item, then pin it to your PlateWrap. We have a bunch of Tie-Ins tied around cookie cutters, all ready to go.

This particular cookie cutter is a doggie bone shape, and is perfect with the Yappy Dog PlateWrap. But you can pair up this cute Cookie Cutter Tie-In with any PlateWrap you want.

June 17, 2008

Kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty cat and MeeeeOwww

Here are the two cool cat PlateWraps designed just for the Cause 4 Paws benefit for the Lincoln County Animal Shelter.

We still have a few of these left and we will still donate 20% of the proceeds from the sale of your Pass It On Plate when you choose one of these fun pet designs.

June 16, 2008

Another re-gifting thingy


Well, isn't this nifty?
It's a sail from a sailboat, recycled into a wine bag.
But they're getting in to the community-style re-gifting spirit, too. On the back of the bag is a blank list where you can write your name and date. Then you slip your wine gift into the bag, and ... well, gift it.
Guess what happens next? Of course; you're right! The next person writes their name and date on the back of the bag, a bottle of wine goes in it and they (drumroll please) gift it to someone else.
We checked out the SeaBags website and love the bags. Not just the wine bags, but the other tote bags and the little ones that work as purses. They're fresh and beautiful. Growing up on Lake Superior, we have an urge to get one (or two) of these, since they remind us of all the sailboats gracefully tacking back and forth between Bayfield and Madeline Island.
We're seeing the re-gifted packaging trend start to pick up steam and take off, and the items out there are just as fun, if not more so, than the gift itself.
Hop on the bandwagon and get going with your re-gifting!

June 14, 2008

Furkids


In the sidebar you'll see Ads by Indiego, an advertising network of independent artists, crafters, clothing and accessory designers, photographers, and the like. Each time you visit this blog a different ad appears.

Today, when I visited my blog I scrolled down to see what Indiego ads were showing up and I saw this cute -and very patient- little pooch. She is the "Furkid" of a gal who makes cute people clothes for her furkids. Check them out: http://furkidfever.blogspot.com/

If I was to put one of these outfits on our Caesar, a Dachshund/Jack Russell mutt, he'd become all emo and try to rub or eat the clothes off his body. We discovered this on Halloween when we dressed him up in a ridiculous Frankenstein outfit.

But these are cute and so is the patient pooch.
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...We have a winner!

What a busy few weeks we've had around here - including two contests wrapping up at the same time!

Congratulations to Amy of From One Mommy To Another, who won a cookie filled plate with the Pink Sunflowers PlateWrap. Amy participated at MommyFest 2008 where this plate was one of may prizes awarded to mommies.


We were so excited to see that she blogged about it on her site and took lots of photos of not only the plate but the quickly disappearing cookies. Thanks, Amy!



June 12, 2008

Oh for the love of all things pink

Pink is a controversial color.
Depending on the hue, the mood of pink can be cute babyish, smart and sassy, or dangerously old-lady. Artists report that pink items are a tough sell.

I love pink. Not old lady pink, and not baby pink but smart and sassy pink.
Rrrowr.
Hot pink. Magenta. Fuschia.

This morning I was poking around Etsy and fell into the WildMagic Design Studio.

This little bag caught my eye and I love it. Isn't it cute?



This little guy's definitely not baby pink or old lady pink. He's hot.
Rrrowr.
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June 9, 2008

It's catching on...!

Today while browsing through the June issue of Real Simple magazine, I stumbled across a very familiar gift-giving idea on page 74. In their Summer Gift Guide, they list some fresh new ideas for gift giving, including a "Plate It Forward" idea to use as a hostess gift.

How exciting! Their 'plate it forward' idea mentions just using a craft pen or marker. This makes me wonder what kind of pen or marker they had in mind, since some pens and markers are not permament on the plate and others are not food safe. I love Sharpie permanent markers with a passion, but they will wash off. We tried Sharpies on our own plate years ago and the picture we drew to test it quickly washed off. I'm also not sure about placing wet foods on a plate signed by Sharpies; I never dared to try it.

We were lucky to find some special paint pens that are perfect for this use - they're designed to be written on any ceramic or porcelain surface, like a Pass It On Plate. To cure the paint you just bake the plate in your oven. This makes the paint permanent and the names will last and last. Plus, cookies or other treats, even wet treats, on our plates won't interfere with the collection of names on your Pass It On Plate.

The most exciting idea to us is that this concept is starting to catch on. Hello-o-o! A big magazine is now touting the concept. Whoo-hoo! Never mind we weren't named; it's the thought that counts.

If you would like to use their idea on your own plate, sans PlateWrap, tracking number, and other bells and whistles, go for it. Obviously, we love the idea.

If you would like to use one of our pens on your own plate, we have several fun colors available for sale at Etsy.
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June 5, 2008

Turn your plate into a Flying Plate (tm)

There are only a couple weeks left in this fun promotion.


What you get when your plate becomes a Flying plate (tm), originally uploaded by passitonplates.

A Flying Plate (tm) is what we call your numbered Pass It On Plates when it has been passed to at least three people in a short period of time. To qualify, your plate's diary very first entry must be made between March 20, 2008 and June 21, 2008. Then, your plate's third plate diary entry must be made by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on June 21, 2008.

When your plate becomes a Flying Plate, we'll send you one of our mugs with our flying plate logo hand drawn on it, and your choice of beverage: gourmet coffee or gourmet cocoa.

All you really have to do is start circulating your plate as soon as possible and encourage your friends to keep it moving.

No purchase necessary; even if you received your plate free as part of another promotion, you can still quality for this Flying Plate promotion.