Category Archives: Shop Owner Tips

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Build Your 3D Printing Reputation

This is the first in our new series, Shop Owner Bootcamp: 10 week countdown to Black Friday. Every week we will be discussing advanced tips and tricks for optimizing your holiday sales. This week’s focus is reputation. 

Can you feel it? The churn of excitement that only comes with Holiday season and sales? We are just 10 weeks away from Black Friday and it’s time to whip our Shops into shape.

Vijay-Paul-Dotsan-Stag

Wired Life Stag by Dotsan

This week we’re focused on Reputation. Customer trust is the single most important factor when it come to repeat business. Knowing that they can get something unique, custom, and awesome from you that works as expected is crucial to the growth of your business. How do you build this customer trust? Back when I was on the UK roadshow, Vijay Paul of Dotsan, one of the most trusted designers on Shapeways, was kind enough to discuss reputation and tips for building it with us.  He’ll be guiding us all as we ramp up to holiday with our new Shop Owner Series.

Video produced by Stephen Greenwood, with help from yours truly

Consider this checklist your challenge for the week:

  • Print Your Models- Much of what we create has never been done before, and unexpected things happen to even the best designs from the best designers. The only way you can ensure form and function will be as you hope and expect for your customer, is to print it for yourself first. We know that with nearly 50 materials offered now, from plastic to platinum, that printing in all of them may not be an option. That’s okay, focus on ways you can paint the best picture for your customers. For example, even if its not possible to print a product of yours in a premium alloy like gold or silver, our stainless steel finishes can give the customer a very good idea of what to expect.
  • Document Your Process- One of the most compelling things about Shapeways is that every product has a story. Taking photos of the iterations that didn’t make the cut and illustrating how you’ve improved a design over time lets customers know you care about your products. It gives them the confidence that you’re not selling something you wouldn’t try yourself, and shows them your keen design eye.
  • Engage With Your Customers- Shapeways now shares the user name of a customer if they made the purchased logged in. Make a note to check back with them after the product should have shipped and see what they thought! Encourage them to post their photos in the comments on your product page, letting others browsing know how great your work is. Be open to updating your design based on their feedback, these early adopters can give you great UX advice!
  • Be Yourself- In your brand, in the products you design, in the product descriptions you write. This is your business, your baby, and the more it aligns with who you are, the more it will sing. Talk about your inspiration for the piece in the product description, upload photos to your personal and shop profile; and make the Shapeways Shopping experience personal!
  • Complete your Profile- Seeing a face and lineup of great products instills confidence in any consumer. Knowing who is behind the brand encourages people to try it out. Uploading your avatar is more critical than ever, now that your designer card shows up on every product page. Include your twitter handle so shoppers can chat with you easily on the go. Make a sweet shop banner. Invest in this now, so when traffic floods your shop around holiday, you like the reputable, fabulous business you are.

Next week we’ll be talking about the importance of photography and tagging in the getting your products discovered. Feel free to get a head start!

What help do you need to take your shop to the next level? Feel free to ask for guidance here or in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop thread on our forums.


 

Refining the presentation of products in your Shapeways shop

by William Seligman

From Eleanor: William Seligman is a jewelry designer who creates pagan and Wiccan themed Jewelry on Shapeways for his Kickin’ Wiccan shop. He posted a version of this entry on his blog and we enjoyed his thoughts about how to effectively edit, curate and present products in your Shapeways shop so much we wanted to share them with the broader Shapeways community.

The three Kickin' Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

The three Kickin’ Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

On my 53rd birthday, I lost an intricately-designed custom-made ring that was precious to me. The ring was made 15 years ago; the original jeweler no longer had the molds. So I started looking into ways to recreate the ring from photographs. I discovered Shapeways in the
process. After months of experimentation with 3D software and many test prints, I finally had my ring again.

I emerged with a self-taught skill set in 3D design and printing. I decided to put those skills to use in a market I knew well from being a consumer: Wiccan and pagan jewelry. It’s my first experience with setting up a storefront on-line.

Recently, I consulted with the talented artist Vann Godfrey about Kickin’ Wiccan, my jewelry shop on Shapeways. I’ve spent the past few days putting his advice into practice. Vann’s advice was similar to that of Shapeways’ advice to its shop owners. Here’s what I’ve figured out, both from Vann and from my own investigations:

wovenringkickinwiccan

No more plastic or renders for shop images

Plastic models, no matter well I photograph them, will never look as good as pictures of metal jewelry. Plastic models of metal jewelry detract from the look of the shop. A single plastic photo will drag down all the other pictures, no matter good those other photos are.

This has two corollaries:

  • I’ve had to pull items from my shop because the only pictures I have of them are of my plastic test prints.
  • I can also create rendered scenes from the same 3D graphics program I use to design the rings. I’ve reached the point where my scenes are slightly better than the photographs of plastic, but they still look artificial. They’re not good enough to put on my storefront. Even if I did, Shapeways frowns on rendered scenes; if I used them, Shapeways would not consider my store for promotional purposes.  Eleanor’s note: We now feature material renders, which you can read about here, but still encourage actual product photography as the best way to show off your designs. 

 

So some of my designs will have to wait until I get metal prints and take pictures of them. I won’t add a new design to the shop until I can print it, or arrange for someone else to print and photograph it for me. Eleanor’s note: we also encourage designers to try out Beta products for this purpose. 

This can happen: I designed a heptagram ring for a friend. To my surprise, the response was so positive that I was encouraged to make it available for purchase even though all I had was a rendered image. I’ve asked the buyers to send me photos. This is nice reinforcement. It tells me that maybe, just maybe, I know what I’m doing.

WGS-kilt-full

No more plastic jewelry

I’ve stopped selling plastic versions of my designs. For one thing, it helps the shoppers if they have fewer options to choose from. For another, I have to value my time and skill in creating the jewelry.

Most of my designs are rings. When the shopper buys a ring, they have to specify the ring size. I customize the design for that particular size. This takes time. It’s barely worth doing for the stainless-steel versions of the rings; for me it’s not worth doing for cheap plastic versions.

In general, there many good reasons to work in plastic, but the jewelry I am making is not suited to it.

What choices have you made to edit the products you sell on Shapeways? How do you decide which designs to offer and in what materials?


 

Tweet Your Best Tweet Forward

We recently added Twitter to your Shop Owner profiles to allow you to share updates with your followers. You can have a shop/brand handle on your Shop page and your personal handle on your profile page. As the social media specialist at Shapeways, I believe that Twitter is an exciting platform for Shapeways Shop Owners and users to showcase work, market products, and generate conversation around your Shapeways Shop.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.16.13 PM

If you’re already on Twitter and follow @Shapeways, I’m often the eyes that get to see all of your tweets. My favorite part about Twitter is that it’s only 140 characters and it’s a great way to provide frequent updates to your followers. If you’re a Shop Owner or designer looking to tweet about your work, following these best practices for composing a tweet will significantly increase the likelihood of engagement (retweets, favorites, mentions, replies).

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.25.38 PM

Here’s an example of a quality tweet by Brandon George, the owner of the Shapeways Shop 3by3D. Let’s breakdown what makes this tweet a great tweet in my opinion.

1) It includes a quality photo relevant to his tweet. Everyone is competing for eyeballs on your Twitterfeed so having a attractive visual image in your tweet gets twice the response rate than a tweet without a photo.

2) The tweet uses hashtags like #Flower #mensfashion #Style which relate to the product being promoted, and using popular hashtags increases the chance of exposure of your for people searching for that hashtag.

3) The tweet includes a shortened URL linking back to his Shapeways Shop where interested followers seeing the tweet can be directed to find his shop.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 12.25.26 AM

(Shop Owner Jeremy Mallin tweets about his Mobius Cinquefoil Knot Pendant)

I plan to continue to share more social media tips and tricks to help the Shapeways community win on social. In the meantime I can be reached at eric@shapeways.com if anyone needs any advice on social media strategy.

Remember to tweet your best tweets forward and you can engage with us on all of our other social media channels below!

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shapeways
Follow us on Instagram: http://instagram.com/shapeways
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Shapeways
Find us on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/shapeways
Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Shapeways
Follow us on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shapeways


 

Sneak Peek into new ways to design products on Shapeways: First To Try & Beta Products

Here at Shapeways, we’re changing how products are made and by whom. We have makers and designers from all over the world in our community, some of whom are making their first product and others who have been professional product designers for their whole lives. They’re creating everything from jewelry to rocket ships, GoPro accessories to chess sets. No matter what they’re making, though, we know how involved the creative process can be. Taking a great idea and making it real takes a lot of hard work and iteration before amazing products come to life.

With 3D printing, designers are not alone in the creative process. They don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get the form and function just right, and they don’t have to wait to go to market until they’ve undergone extensive testing. With the support of their friends and fans, they can share their products with the world and get the feedback they need — wherever they are in the product development process.  We’re committed to helping you create great products, by embracing iteration and encouraging your customers to actively participate in earlier stages of product development. Step one is setting the right expectations, and step two is opening up the conversation around products.

Today, we are excited to give our community and particularly Shop Owners a sneak peek into two new ways to get support and feedback on early stage products that we’ll release later this summer: First to Try and Beta.

Shop Owners, you can see all of the new tools on your model edit page today and preview what your products will look like when this is released to shoppers later in the summer.

Beta 

BetaProduct

Design is becoming far more collaborative across companies big and small, and we’ve already seen thousands of examples on Shapeways in which designers and customers work together to tweak products and make them more personal. We want to make it easier for Shapeways Shop Owners to tap into this trend and develop deeper, ongoing connections with their customers.

The first way we’re fueling this kind of collaboration is called Beta. Products in Beta are in active development and are being improved upon through product iteration.  As a Shop Owner, you will be able to invite your friends, fans, and communities to support you in the product development process and get feedback to improve the design. You can ask for feedback on how it fits, whether they like the design, or anything else you need to get your product over the finish line. More and more, people want to be a part of the creative process — we’re excited to help open up the doors with you.

How will this work?

The purchase area on your product page will prominently announce that this product is in Beta, and has space for you to briefly explain to customers your goals and what you’re looking for in the Beta testing. You can opt to make your product a Beta Product or to move it out of Beta at any time.

Beta Materials

By positioning your product in Beta, you will have a private comment stream to collaborate with your customers and solicit their feedback. We see a lot of this happening in comment streams today on Shapeways, but we also want a private place to encourage honest feedback and collaboration on products. Elaborate on your goals, ask specific questions, and keep customers up to date on the progress of your product and new versions you’re working on. We’ll be encouraging customers who buy a product in Beta to come back here after they receive their product to share photos and let you know what they think.

Learn more about how to use Beta Products

 

First To Try
First To Try Product

3D printing a model in every material finish you’d like to offer for sale can be quite expensive. We’re working hard to reduce the barriers to entry and we don’t ever want to make you 3D print a model in every finish yourself unless you prefer to. However, because 3D printing is still new, some customers don’t understand the risks subtleties involved with 3D printing and can be disappointed if their product doesn’t turn out the way they were expecting — or especially disappointed if it can’t be printed at all.

As a part of our efforts to increase transparency about the manufacturing process with designers, including the Print Success Rate

we are also going to provide more information to shoppers by showing the “First To Try” label on any product that hasn’t been printed before in that material. This helps shoppers understand our level of confidence that we can successfully create the product that they are looking to buy.

How does this work?

When your product has First To Try materials enabled, your customers will see a different set of choices on your product page. We’re also investing in beautiful material renders that match the color and finish of all of our materials, so you can show a shopper exactly what the product will look like, while also helping them understand that they are one of the first to 3D print it in that material and are seeing a computer-generated render, not a photo.

Once you or your customers have successfully printed your product in each material you’re offering for sale, the First To Try label won’t apply any longer. There are a few ways to progress through First To Try:

  • You can enlist your friends, fans and community to buy your product and share a photo, which will be important for your long term product success
  • You can print the product in your preferred materials and ensure you meet the Print Success Rate before you launch your product
  • You can disable the materials that haven’t been successfully printed before

Learn more about how to use First To Try

 

Beta vs First To Try

When you are really hoping to get feedback on your product — from fit to form to function and everything in between — we recommend using Beta. It’s a great way to solicit feedback and build a community around your products and ideas.

If you’ve already tested your product and are trying to understand whether you product can be successfully made in a given material, First To Try is your best bet. It sets the right expectations for your customers and helps you enlist support.

 

The Future of Product Development at Shapeways

With a process as new and rapidly-changing as 3D printing, expectation setting is critical. But we know there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We’ll continue to build more tools to help you solicit support from the community and help them understand how the process works. We’re really excited about these new additions to our marketplace, and would love for you to join the discussion here in comments and the forum to let us know what you think!

Learn more about Product Development at Shapeways, or jump into the tutorials on how to use Beta Products & First To Try in your shop today.


 

How to generate supplemental income using your Shapeways shop

Posted by in Shop Owner Tips

by Mike Sill

From Eleanor: Mike Sill is a 3D prop designer, modeler and pinball enthusiast living in Pittsburgh who is a member of Shapeways Crew. His Shapeways shop is Mad Hat Studio

Own Your Business!

Take the mindset that you now own a business. You are in charge of all aspects of your shop, from presentation to sales. Look professional, act professional, be professional.

Find Your Market!

Find a specific, unique niche for your shop on Shapeways, or create a print that is different enough to get noticed. Don’t copy and paste from other models. This might get you a sale, but the stream of sales from that model will dry up quickly as the market becomes oversaturated. Find a target audience that is interested in what you want to sell on Shapeways, and theme your shop around attracting that audience.

Stay Busy!

Brainstorm a quick and dirty list of potential models you would like to make. Then motivate yourself by creating on a regular schedule.

Stay Smart!

Find the balance between selling at a markup that is affordable for your target audience yet high enough for you to make a decent wage.

Network!

Talk! Be it online or in person, your best chance of making a sale is to get people talking about 3D printing. There are countless people who want something to be 3D printed, but have no idea where to go or what to do. That’s where you come in!

Continue reading


 

Build your maker business with Shapeways and 3D printing

Posted by in Shop Owner Tips
To celebrate National Small Business week our May New York City meetup was focused around a panel discussion on how tools like 3D Printing, e-commerce and a robust website and social media presence can empower maker entrepreneurs. 

The panel featured Shapeways shopowners and designers, including digital artist and sculptor Ryan Kittleson; artist and designer Sophie Kahn; and entrepreneur and 3D printing artist Melissa Ng. I had the honor of facilitating the talk and asking these three about how they have built their creative businesses.

We are excited to share this conversation with our community as a whole and are happy to share the discussion in full with you. 

For me, the key take aways from this discussion were:
  • Because you will be spending a lot of time with your business, spend time finding your voice as a designer and making work you are truly interested in 
  • Using Shapeways for 3D printing has enabled these designers to incoporate it into their work because they can access different printing processes for “Tens, not hundreds” of dollars
  • Use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to tell your story about who are as a designer
  • Make sure potential customers can find you online. Have a website, as well as a robust social media presence
  • Selling products on Shapeways is an great venue for selling multiples of a work and can help build a designer’s reputation and portfolio when they also offer one-of-a-kind and commission work
We look forward to hearing your thoughts about this discussion! If you are a Shapeways shopowner, maker, or entrepreneur we’d love to know about the tools and strategies you use for building your business. Thanks again to our panelists and to Wix.com for hosting us at the Wix Lounge! 

 

New Shop Owner Tool: Pricing

You have finished your design, uploaded it to Shapeways and put it up for sale. Now it is time to set your prices. Pricing is a key part of product merchandising, but we often hear from shop owners that it is challenging to choose the “right price.” Today, we are making changes to help on this front. 

When it comes to choosing the right price, there are many factors to consider outside of base price and markup. These can include: What type of product am I selling? Who is my ideal customer? What’s the value to my customers? The right price will resonate with your audience in the same way that descriptions, photos, and videos do. And that means you could improve your sales.  

The best way to do this is to always think about the prices your customers will see. With the new pricing tool, you will find the following changes to make the experience simpler and more efficient: 

  • Dedicated space for pricing, with a cleaner interface
  • Ability to edit prices for multiple materials at once
  • Emphasis on editing total prices
  • Customized tips to help with pricing

Shop Owners in European countries will also find the following changes:

  • Price entry in USD, while viewing both USD and EUR prices 
  • Prices displayed with VAT

We’re excited to share these changes with you today. Improving our pricing tool is just one of the many steps we’re taking to provide you with a great Shop Owner experience. 

If you’re interested in helping to test other shop owner improvements, please reach out to our Community team at community@shapeways.com. And as always, we welcome your feedback either here in this blog or in the forums.

Notes for advanced users:
The CSV Wizard will be changing, and the current APIs will still be supported. Please check out our forum post for more details. 

Continue reading


 

Welcome to the Golden Age of 3D Printing: Introducing 14 Carat Gold to Shapeways

Update: As of May 22nd, Gold is now available worldwide and can be set as the default material for the products in your shop. 
Featured models from left to right: Hibiscus Ring by alaswadi, Cousin Gabriel Ring by cousingabriel, Rock Ring by thefuturefuture, and Arrow Ring by courtneyetc

Today, we’re proud to welcome the most precious of metals to the Shapeways family - 14k Gold. We’ve been inspired by the accessories and jewelry you’ve made with our Silver, Brass, Bronze, and Steel; and we have heard your requests for more premium metal options. 


Droplet Pendant by LIFIC

Our solid, hand-polished 14k Gold is simply stunning. It’s meticulously polished to a beautiful, smooth sheen. With a high-shine look that’s perfect for rings, cufflinks, pendants, earrings, charms, or whatever you decide to create. Not to mention, wedding season is right around the corner, ladies and gents!
Greek mythology deemed the people of the Golden Age the “golden race” of humans who came first. You’re all part of the Shapeways Golden Age, so which one of you fearless designers will try our Gold first?

Continue reading


 

Shapeways Launches Automated Wall Thickness Visualization for all models

Turning digital ideas into physical reality is not without its challenges, so Shapeways is starting the year off with an incredible new tool to make 3D printing even easier. Shapeways’ Wall Thickness Tool gives you instant feedback at upload to improve your model by detecting areas that are below our Thin Walls thresholds for each material offered

Continue reading


 

Prepare your Shapeways Shop for Black Friday

Is your shop ready for the biggest shopping day of the year on Shapeways?

Vertigopolka is ready for the rush with these Star Holiday Ornaments

We’re just one week away from Thanksgiving here in the US and the buzz surrounding Black Friday is already louder than Midtown Manhattan. We want to see all Shapie Shop Owners break their sales records in the next two weeks so consider this your friendly reminder to get ready for the surge of traffic!

Here are 5 tips to help you get there:

1) Tag: Tag your products well! People will be searching the site at a faster rate than any other day of the year
2) Photograph: Post those great photos you’ve had trapped on your iPhone, Photos sell more!
3) Merchandise: Organize your shop! Do you offer a wide variety of products? Curate them well for easy shop ability
4) Title: Make sure your title is descriptive, your model description includes keywords that people may search to find your product and your photos are up to date – we are running a marketing campaign through Google Shopping and your product may show up if people search for those keywords
5)Share: People are looking for new and interesting things to buy every holiday season, so take advantage of the opportunity to share your shop with friends! Tweeting: “Check out the deals going on in my Shapeways Shop and give a unqiue 3D printed gift this holiday” or “Hey #BlackFriday shoppers, check out my custom product line” etc. goes a really long way! Many of you shared the gift guide, and it’s showing in the sales of your shop :) .

If you’re looking for even more tips, recap the Shop Owner Challange!
We hope you’re excited, Shapies, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and for many of you, the most historically lucrative month on Shapeways.
What are your goals this holiday season? How else can we help? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Shop Owner Challenge Day 20: How to Go Viral

Have you ever wondered how to go viral? How to see a traffic spike in the five to six figure range? Well, while it does take a bit of timing and luck, there is a formula to it. Today, Christopher, our resident reddit master and general knower of all things cool breaks down how to design timely products and go viral! Take it away, Chris!

I’m going to start this blog post by making the following statement; virality is often based on the following few criterias:

Humor
Personal Connection
Cleverness and Wit
Inside-References
Pop-Culture
Innovation & Originality
Altruism

… or any combination of the above.

When attempting to create virality, it is important to think about the above aspects in context of sharability. Let’s face it; it’s easy enough to get your friends to share something for you. What becomes a true test of virality is how many of your friends’ friends re-share what they saw. 

Then you might say: “Great! They shared stuff; I’ll be popular very soon!”

To which I say, hold your horses just a little there. It is also important to understand your product and target audience/market fit. For example; it may be very easy to get a cool 3D printed cat themed product viral and shared within Reddit; however if attempting to broadcast this on other websites/communities with a different culture and set of inside-references, your product might not get shared at all.

Which brings up an interesting question: do you design for a specific community (supply/demand model), or do you design something completely different that plays on other tangents of virality (new market creation model) and attempt to hit a cross-section of existing communities and markets.

Well, the answer to that is you. In almost all cases, that choice beckons what you, yourself, are truly passionate about, and what will make you put the extra effort into making your product become a hit. Whether it’s something you create for a personal or innovation reason, or it’s something you think is “hilariously awesome” and want to use to make other people smile with, and dig the idea that just snuck up on them. From there on out, it’s all about letting your inspiration and creativity lead you.

You can even combine markets and interest factors with pop-culture and contemporary inside-references. For example, things like “Twerking iPhone 5 Case” or “Internet Meme Poker Chips Set”, right now, have a virality potential that is higher than for example just “my new iPhone 5 Case”.

In almost all cases, when you find yourself looking for inspiration to create that runaway hit that everyone talks about; scour the media; the interwebs; popular online communities; and your friends for fads, interests and clever references that you can incorporate into your designs.

The bottom line of virality is to keep everything mentioned above in mind while you are creating. It’s easier to hit virality with existing trends and fads than it is to do with something completely new and original. At the same time though; the rewards (both financially, and emotionally), scale across that spectrum of easy to tough.

Ultimately, you are your own master, and experimenting with examples that hit nicely across the spectrum of inspiration from “riding a bandwagon” to “this is completely groundbreaking” is what is going to give you the experience needed to nail a product/market fit.


 

Shop Owner Challenge Day 19: Selecting the Best Material for Your Product

We’ve recently launched a bunch of new materials at Shapeways, so for today’s Shop Owner Challenge, Raphael, one of our Materials Geniuses, shares tips for selecting the best material. Enjoy!

When picking materials for your model, think about how the material will help to position it as a product. Is it an exclusive piece that you want to only offer in Premium Silver? Or a versatile design that looks great in a range of materials and price points? Using different materials, a single design can become a variety of different products. For example, a model of a ring could become a fun, inexpensive piece of costume jewelry Alumide, or a precious keepsake in Polished Brass. Each deserve unique photos, descriptions, and price points.

Choosing the right materials for your products isn’t always easy, and has a huge impact on the value and success of your product. Here are some tips from the materials team to help you make the best choices.

Gotham Smith Cufflinks

Bicycle Chainring Cufflinks by GothamSmith in Stainless Steel, Raw Brass and Polished Brass

Brass, Bronze, or Steel?
With our recent launches, there are a wide range of steel finishes, and high-detail cast metals available. Both make for great products, but at different price points and levels of finish. Steel tends to be a bit rough, almost vintage looking, and lower resolution, with a lower price point to match. Our various steel finishes, including Gold and Nickel and Bronze offer the highest surface quality and consistency, while Patinas such as Matte black, and the basic steel is better for more rustic or steampunk pieces. To achieve much higher resolution and surface finish, our Brass and Bronze use the same casting process as Silver, and reproduce the finest details at high-end shopper ready quality.

Polished vs. Raw
While all our steel finishes are polished to improve print quality, Brass, Bronze, and Silver use such a high resolution production product that we’re able to offer both Raw and Polished version of these materials. Both are shopper ready materials, so the choice here is mostly an aesthetic one: Raw is rugged and rustic, while Polished is elegant and refined.
While we offer unpolished WSF and Alumide, you should think of these as low-end materials for prototyping and functional parts. Aside from special cases such as large or delicate designs and functional parts, we’d recommend disabling WSF for shoppers and directing them to polished materials, including Polished WSF, Polished Alumide, Black Strong and Flexible, or Colored Strong and Flexible.
Polished vs. Premium Silver
The difference between Polished and Premium Silver often causes confusion. Both are polished, but the key distinction is the amount of polishing time invested in polishing internal details and hard to reach spaces. A simple ring may look very similar in both finishes, while something like Bathsheba’s Ora pendant will look very different;
Miniatures as Products
Many successful shop-owners already have amazing miniatures on Shapeways that they offer in FUD or Detail Plastic. With cast brass and bronze, you can now offer these models in all their glorious detail to a much wider range of customers, and at a higher price point. When we launched these materials, we bought some popular miniatures in brass and bronze, and they haven’t left our desks since!
While you’re at it, you may want to consider enabling you models in Detail Plastic as well. While FUD offers stunning resolution, functional parts and supports the fine parts that miniatures enthusiasts love, our black and white detail materials offer a more shopper ready finish that can make these designs accessible beyond the finish-it-yourself market.

Choosing Materials that wear well
While great for visual models and items which don’t see extensive wear, our Black and Dyed Strong & Flexible aren’t recommended for things like iPhone cases which see constant surface wear. They look great at first, but eventually the dye can wear through, creating lighter spots in the finish, and potentially disappointing your customers. White Strong & Flexible doesn’t wear through in this way, but because it’s white it can look dirty with wear. For functional parts, or things where you don’t mind a bit of a worn-in look, this can be just fine. If that’s not what you’re looking for, Polished Alumide is a great alternative.
On the materials team we’re surprised Alumide isn’t a more popular material: it’s relatively inexpensive, polishes up to be very smooth, and wears well. The speckled grey color hides wear and helps to prevent discoloration, making for long-lasting products. The powder has the same color throughout, unlike our Dyed Strong & Flexible plastics; you can keep it in your pocket all day and the color will stay consistent. All that, and it sparkles too!
For smaller and more precious items, Brass and Bronze, in both Raw and Polished finishes, are durable solid metals that will wear beautifully, adding to their character. Steel is similarly long-lasting, but offers lower resolution, and a lower cost. Gold Plated Brass, is durable, but can eventually wear through if exposed to constant rubbing on clothing, skin, or when used as functional parts.

 

Shop Owner Challenge Day 18: How to Pitch Your 3D Printed Products to the Press

The task of pitching media can seem ominous at first. Today, I want to ease your fears and give you the tools to feel confident getting the press exposure you and your shop deserve. Here are six tips for product pitching success: 

Do Your Homework
The more you know about a reporter and their beats (what they cover) the better off you are. Knowing what is timely and topical to them shows that you value their reporting and deserve their attention. I typically start by doing a Google news search for whatever I’m pitching to get a feel of what existing conversations are happening. I then figure out the key voices in that conversation and they become the top of my pitch list. This may sound extensive, but it will pay off. You would like them to learn more about you, right?
Email Reporters/Bloggers Directly
Now that you’ve done your homework, send a personal email to the writers you want the attention of. Did you love the last piece they wrote on 3D Printing? Great, let them know. You can usually find a reporters contact on the publication’s website, or if you’re like me and prefer stalking them on social media, Twitter is an invaluable resource. 
Be Succinct and to the Point
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and author of “Without Their Permission,” keeps his emails to five sentences or less. You can do this (or close to this) with your emails to press. Most reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of pitches a day. Be personal, poignant and direct them to your Shop so they can do nothing but write about you after seeing your awesome products.
Target Multiple Outlets of Varying Size
Make a list of the publications you would like to be featured in. Do you solve a unique need or cater to a specific niche? There are hundreds of blogs and forums specific to almost every topic you can imagine, in addition to the “top tier” outlets we’re all familiar with. Don’t discount the little guys, often the more specific the subject matter, the more sales a press mention drives. Treat each pitch equally and you’ll certainly be rewarded.
Have High-Res Photos on Hand
So you want to go big time? Well the first question a reporter is going to ask after interviewing you is, “do you have an high-res photos of your products?” Likely followed by, “and a headshot?” Do yourself a favor and have both. It translates well in your Shop and in the news. 
Remain Positive
No one appreciates an entitled attitude and your best bet for getting reporter’s attention is to be patient, persistent and positive. Try not to get frustrated if you don’t hear back right away or at all. Some reporters take content and run with it (so make sure you have a google alert set up for yourself) and others will conduct a thorough interview. Keeping a smile on your face will help with every step of the process.
Let us know when you get featured so we can share it with our community! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want a pitch reviewed or have any questions as you begin press outreach.
Have a great weekend, Shapies!

 

Shop Owner Challenge Day 17: Show at a Shapeways Supported Event

I’m fortunate enough to be here in the town that Shapeways started, Eindhoven, NL for Dutch Design Week. We’re featuring a variety of Shop Owners in our booth over the course of the event, and anyone in the area with a complete shop is invited to come show! It’s been an incredibly inspiring 48 hours in Holland and today your challenge is to join us, or throw a Shapeways event of your own! Dario Scapitta is a long time Shapie and a Shop Owner who showed with us today at Dutch Design Week.

Reach Out to Us
Let us know where you are and how we can help. We may not send the fleet, but we can always support your efforts to be at, or host, an event/fair/bazaar etc. 
Find Great Events
You know your city/region/country better than we ever could, so be our eyes on the ground and alert us to the awesomeness in your area! We love sharing the Shapeways spark with new communities.
Have Your Best Products on Hand
Sometimes events pop up unexpectedly. Having your favorite models on hand (or preferably on display in your home ;) can be handy when getting in on something last minute. No need for inventory though, as shoppers can buy the products they see in real life, online instantly. 
Brand Your Shop Well
All of the designers at our Dutch Design Week booth have well designed business cards and collateral to give away. These little touches make the experience with your products and the power of Shapeways memorable. 
Have a Positive Attitude
We feed off positive energy, the people visiting our booth feed off it, and it will keep you going through a long day! Every Shop Owner I’ve worked with leaves feeling exhausted and inspired- signs of a good days work :) .
Don’t Be Bashful
Everyone wants to hear about 3D printing, your design process, and how they can get your products so they can tell their friends about it all. Seriously. *Drops Mic*
Hope you’re all having a fantastic week! Best wishes from here in Eindhoven. 

 

Shop Owner Challenge Day 16: 5 Tips for Writing Outstanding Copy

Today’s Shop Owner Challenge comes from Stephen, a welcome new addition to the Shapeways Marketing team. He’s a fabulous master of words and is channeling the greatest authors of all time when he delivers these tips.

He’s a big fan of Michiel Cornelissen’s The Wrap – Cable Winder for iPhone so it’s featured today! 

Hi Shapies! 
This is Stephen, Shapeways Resident Wordsmith. For today’s Shop Owner Challenge, I’m going to give you Five Quick Tips From Famous Authors On How To Improve Your Copywriting, citing some of my favorite writers whose work I have learned to appreciate, trust, and ultimately love. Remember, you can always use words to dazzle your potential customers and sell products, so don’t be shy with them! 
1. George Orwell has 6 legendary writing tips, but the one that is most relevant to the Shapeways community is “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.” In short, remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid! 
2. Tell stories! James Patterson said, “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished. I’m very conscious of an audience. I’m very conscious that I’m an entertainer.” Be an entertainer. Don’t bore your audience! 
3. One of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing is to “Laugh at your own jokes.” Humor is an excellent and proven way to build trust with your customers. So don’t be afraid to be funny in your copy! 
4. Mark Twain, one of my all-time favorite authors, wrote, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” (Yes, Mark Twain just used a semicolon, but he’s Mark Twain…) My advice to Shapies everywhere is to be cognizant of repeating phrases, because if your ceramic vase is very lovely and very nice and very cool, your potential customers may think it is actually very, very, very boring.
5. Finally, as Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Even if you lack confidence in your writing abilities, it is surely better to have some product description written when the alternative is to have none written at all. Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or family member for writing or editing help! 

I hope that these tips helped you, and if you want to reach out with any questions, my email address is Stephen@Shapeways.com. 

Write on!