Friday, September 30, 2011

Twitter Tip Follow Friday

Follow Friday (Now #FF) is a tradition on Twitter where people would suggest people to their followers so that they may follow them as well. It is not as big of a thing as it once was but there are still many who do it religiously. The format is quite simple: #FF @user1 @user2 @user3 @user4 @user5 @user6 @user7

Some people get quite creative with their Follow Friday. Though you lose room for as many names it gives your Follow Friday a bit of a personalized look and that can be helpful. Being witty and humorous can really help you to gain more followers. Here is an example: If you don't #FF these people you are square @user1 @user2 @user3 @user4

You can post as many #FF's as you like but try not to repeat the user names. I tend to have a text list of all the users that I will FF and mix them up each week, This way you are not listing the same names to the same people week after week.

It is considered good etiquette to thank people when they #FF you. Just remember that there will be some people that will return your FF and there will be some who do not. Thank those who do and for those who don't just don't include them the next Friday.

There are several variations for #FF for each day of the week. People have created all kinds of reasons to follow each other in this manner. One that I saw recently was #SteamTuesday. This is just one of the many ways to get a few more followers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Get More Views On Etsy

We are all looking to get more views for our shops. More views mean more potential for sales. Of course, it only takes one view from the right one person to make a sale. There are a few things that you can do to help increase your views. Today I would like to point a few of those out.

1. Add more items to your shop. A lot of people talk about a magic number of items in your shop. At that magic number you start to make sales. While everyone seems to have a different magic number most agree it is around or over 100 items. More items means more results in searches and more items to look through.

2. Link to your shop sections. If you have 10 pairs of earrings you can have 10 potential views. Within your listing say something like "For more variety see my Earrings Section" This will get people to view more items in your shop per visit. If you have an item that isn't in a section link to the main page of your shop. Every listing should have a link to somewhere in your shop.

3. Blog about it. If you have a blog, mention and link to shop sections as well as the items. Directing someone to a section in your shop gives them far more options than just to an item, even if there is a link to the section from the item.

4. Tweet about it. Tweet about the sections in your shop. It will get people to go to your shop rather than look at the item in Twitter. It is easy not to go to the item if it is shown in Twitter.

5. Put your best face forward. Put the best items you have on the front page of your shop. Enable the Rearrange Shop function and move the best to the front. Try to put a variety of items on the first page. Also put a broad price range on the page. When you renew or add items remember Etsy puts them on the first page of your shop so you need to rearrange after adding new items or renewing items unless you want them on the first page. Also make sure that you are not duplicating your "Featured" items.

Maybe something here is a new idea for you or maybe you just forgot about doing it. Every little bit you can do to offer your potential customers a variety the better chance you have to convert them to a sale. Please feel free to add items to the list in the comments. Or if you don't understand, ask a question.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Share Your Shop

I wanted to give you all the opportunity to share your shop today. So, in the comments put the URL of your shop or Facebook fan page. This gives you the opportunity to share your shop with someone who might not have actually seen it through other means. Give a one sentence description of the goods you have available.

I'll start with mine:

Tangled Metal has Steampunk and chainmail jewelry, accessories, fashion and home decor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 Customer Service Tips

Good customer service is the key to making sales. People tend to ask questions before they buy and your answers and attitude can mean the difference between a sale or never hearing from them again. Here are 10 things you can do to help make your customer's experience a positive one.

1. Offer shipping options in your Shipping Policy.  Priority, Express, FedEx and UPS cost more but the customer may be willing to pay to get it faster, especially around the Holidays.

2. If you make jewelry give the customer the option to modify the size. Allowing someone to make a 7" bracelet 6 1/2" could mean the difference in a sale or not.

3. Offer a different color option in your listing. As long as you can make something in different colors offer it.

4. Send a freebie with your order. A small gift can create a repeat customer.

5. Put links to shop sections in your listings. Make it easy for your customer to browse.

6. Theme your "Thank You" notes. If a Holiday is near wish them a happy whatever. If no Holiday is near tell you customer "Hope you're having a great Summer!"

7. When someone asks if you can do something, modification, change color or something else and you can do it, be sure to make a call to action. "Yes, I would be happy to. When you order please put that in your comment so I will remember who you are."

8. Follow up if you do not understand. Sometime you'll get a note attached to an order that you just do not understand. When in doubt, ask. Get on the same page.

9. If you can't do something suggest someone who can. A customer will remember when you helped them out with something. Plus, it helps your fellow sellers out.

10. Be sure to address the entire email someone sends you. Nothing is more frustrating than to have all but one question answered. It could turn a potential customer off.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Etsy Surprise Etsy Search Ads

By now most of you know the surprise, Etsy is launching their new Search Ads. More than likely you have already signed up but is your shop ready? Are your pictures perfect? Is your title relevant? Are your tags good? Are your descriptions informative and engaging? It is never too late.

The first thing people will see in your new ad is your picture. If you do nothing else, make sure your first picture is a great one. Make sure it is clear and easy to tell what it is. Make sure the background isn't too busy and distracting. Make it look like the pictures you see in front page treasuries on Etsy.

Though it hasn't been said, I am guessing that the title will at least partially show up under the picture in the ad like regular in search. make sure that your first three words are accurate for your image and contain relevant key words. You probably already have done this when you were optimizing but check to make sure.

Your tags are going to be used to decide when to place your ad. Make sure your keywords are ones that would cause customers to find you anyway. This will help with items that have a lot of competition like Steampunk jewelry. Etsy created a list of keywords that are searched a lot and made a list along with a description of how pricing plays into it. Search Ad Keyword Pricing It might be a good idea to look at this list for ideas on keywords. I know I did.

Lastly, the description is what is going to convert your lookers into your buyers. Describe the item. Describe the shape, the feel, the measurements, how it works, how it was created and how it will make your customer feel. That is right, describe the emotional response your customers will have by putting it on, using it, looking at it, smelling it, etc. That is the way to sell the item, describe why they need it.

I know this is a lot to take in on a Monday morning. It was a lot to write! As always please let me know if you have questions or comments either here or via email at

I am starting to get the website together but it is not even to a point of uploading yet. I will let you all know when it is done. Hopefully before the Holidays.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Word Of Mouth Advertising

The very best form of advertising is word of mouth. You just cannot beat it when someone recommends your product or service to someone. This gives your shop an endorsement of someone who has dealt with you. This is the kind of advertising that we all want. How do you get it?

It does not matter if you are in front of your customer at a show or emailing half a world a way, there are some important things to always remember. The customer may not always be right, but they should always be treated with respect. You cannot make every customer happy but it should be your goal to always try.

Always be up front with them. If you set a time for delivery of a custom product, either deliver on the day stated or contact them BEFORE the deadline to let them know if there is a problem and find out how they would like you to proceed. People are much more forgiving if you let them know that there will be a delay before a deadline. That way, if the item was a gift or time sensitive they have time to figure out if they will have time to get it to the recipient or if they need their money back. Even if you end up issuing a refund, chances are you have not burned any bridges and the customer will remember your honesty and order from you again one day.

The point is, you must go above and beyond at every step of the way to help your customer to remember just how good you and your product are. The better you treat them, the more likely they will be to spread the word. I leave you today with a few tips that may not always help but surely couldn't hurt.

1. Put more than one business card in every order you send out, especially during the holiday season.

2. Take the time to write a thank you note in every order. If your handwriting is hard to read, at least print off a note. Either way, sign it by hand.

3. Offer a discount code to customers that spend money with you. If they buy a $2 product or if they buy a $500 product. 10% off isn't going to break the bank for you and it could mean a repeat customer.

4. Answer questions as soon as you get them.

5. Ask your customer if they would like to be added to your mailing list for snail mail or email or both. Believe me, getting a Holiday card in the mail will be something your customer will remember forever.

6. Follow up. After you are sure the package has arrived, send an email asking how they liked the product and maybe remind them to enter some feedback for you.

7. Be polite. If you are a grumpy person before coffee, answer emails after coffee.

Please feel free to help add to this list with some comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Etsy Search Ads

Etsy has a new way for you to get some more exposure. After the change to Relevancy as the default search, shop owners have had to work just a little harder to be found. Before you could renew your items and keep near the front of the search.

The new Etsy Search Ads promise a way to help get you some exposure. Though it seems at first glance to be based off of the Google AdWords and Facebook Ads model, the pricing is far more reasonable and there is no bidding for key words. It gives you the option of a lower dollar amount based on your renewals from back when that was the way to go.

I averaged about $6 a week with renewing so that is my base rate for the low tier. The rate of "ads" for the money is very nice as well. $1 will get you 1,000 impressions. When you set up your "ad" Etsy gives you a list of keywords based on your existing Titles and keywords. I opted to delete the very generic terms from my list but left a few somewhat generic terms. I deleted "glass beads" and left "necklace."

The best thing about the ads are that you can start and stop them at any time. Only time will tell if it is helpful or not but Etsy was smart enough to tie the ads to your stats so that you can see the results in real time. I plan to revisit this topic after it has been running for a while.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Etsy Search Vs Google Search

Etsy and Google use very different search algorithms. It is sometimes difficult to grasp trying to optimize for both Etsy and Google. Learning what they share and do not share can be the key to being found in both places. Do your best to optimize for both.

They both give weight to the title of your item. Etsy gives strong emphasis on the first three words of your title. Google gives a little weight to your entire title. Put the most important words first.

Etsy gives heavy weight on tags, Google all but ignores them. Using multiple keyword phrases is good for tags on Etsy. Repeating the same word on different tags is good because the Etsy search algorithm is looking for EXACT keyword matches. For example if you have a vintage red leather belt, try to think of ways people would search for it. "vintage leather" and "vintage belt" both describe the item and optimize you for two different phrases. Avoid tag stuffing. If you have a belt that is three colors "red orange blue" is not a way to describe it. You'll want to use the colors in separate tags like "red belt" and "orange leather" and "blue buckle".

Etsy does not use the description in their algorithm but Google uses it very heavily. Try to make sure that you have the keyword phrases listed in your description. Try to use them multiple times as long as you can make it sound conversational or descriptive without sounding too repetitive. I try to use the keyword phrases twice in the description and have some of my other keyword phrases spread out in the description since Google does not look at tags. Please note that since your tags are listed in the main body of your description it is possible that Google does see and use your tags slightly.

There are a lot more factors and variables that go into both search algorithms but I feel like these are the main ones that you have control over. Make your words count. Etsy and Google do not release all of what goes into their search algorithms so we may never know exactly whet they look for but taking steps to optimize for what we do know they are looking for will at least give us a better chance of being found.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Take Better Pictures

"How do I take better pictures?" That is the second most asked question I get. The answer is simple, I really don't know. I am not a photographer. In fact I could not even define some of the most simple photographic terms if my life depended on it. Fortunately I have the Internet.

My photographer was recently out of town for a week. I needed some pictures to list some new items. I called my sister and asked to borrow one of her cameras. She has five kids, so I knew she had at least one camera. She loaned me two. One was some type of Sony and the other was an Olympus.

I know about how to set up a light box and how to light things by watching my photographer work.(This post about Photography can be helpful to you as well) I always wondered what she was doing with all the knob turning and changing settings and such. Now was the time for me to learn all about that.

The very first thing I did was search for a tutorial on the camera I was using. Now, I didn't look up just any kind of tutorial, I got really specific in my search. I searched for "How to take closeup pictures of jewelry with the Olympus model number." It turns out that several people had taken the time to talk about how to set the camera for great pics. I did not even have to read the owners manual.

Now, my lighting wasn't perfect so I had to figure out how to fix that after the fact. I am very fortunate to own a copy of Photoshop CS4 and I do know my way around some of it. I searched on the Internet for "Ways to lighten a photo in Photoshop CS4." Yes, you guessed it, there were tutorials galore. Now, I will say that some of the tutorials on Photoshop were too far advanced for me to have a clue what they were talking about but after looking through a few articles I found what I was looking for.

I realize that most people cannot afford a high dollar camera or expensive photo editing tools. You can make the best of what you have. Photoshop Elements is a great program that costs a fraction of what Photoshop will cost you. You can also try out some really great FREE open source photo editing software. Gimp is a great open source program much like Photoshop, in fact, you can use the add on for it that makes it even more like Photoshop. There is a bit of a learning curve with it. Fortunately there are tutorials galore.

Using a 10 mega pixel or better camera makes a lot of difference. You can buy a camera for under $100 that will shoot great pictures. Just make sure it has a Macro setting. That is what helps you take close up pictures. Around Christmas time, especially Black Friday, is a great time to pick up a good camera. You can get a $200 for under $100 sometimes. Just do a little research and look for tutorials on the exact camera model before buying one.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Let me know what kind of camera you use for your pictures and what kind of experience you have had with them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Advertising Your Business

You have to spend money to make money, or so they say. "They" must not have seen my bank balance. A lot of us are in the same boat. We want to make money so we can advertise more so that we can make more money. It is a never ending processes. One which you will have to eventually start if you want to be a successful business. Even companies like Coke and Pepsi spend millions and millions of dollars every year to advertise their products.

This blog has AdWords ads. Small ads appear on the page and if you click on them I make a few cents. Actually even if you do not click on some of the ads and enough people read my blog and have an ad in front of them I might make a few cents. There are two ways that AdWords work. Cost per view and cost per click.

Cost per view means that you pay a small amount for your ad to be shown. It could be clicked on many times but you still only pay a flat rate per impression. Usually you pay per 1000 impressions. The other way, your ad is placed as many times as it takes to get a click, and you only pay for the click, not the amount of times your ad shows up.

Facebook and Google AdWords both are very similar. You are generally bidding for the impression or the click based on the popularity of the key words. The really great thing about both of them is that you set your budget so that you do not go over a certain amount of money. The other great thing is that you can get very targeted in who you advertise to.

One person I know has his ads targeted to only show up on Facebook pages of people who like his competition. That is about as targeted as you can get. It really seems to work for him too. He started out with a $50 a month budget and he is up to a $200 a month budget because he is making back his advertising dollars in a big way. The more he spends the more he makes.

Google and Facebook are just a couple of ways to advertise. You can also buy impressions on blogs or on webzines. I could talk about the different ways to advertise until the cows come home but what it really boils down to is this:

1. Set a budget
2. Target your market
3. Track your progress
4. Rinse and repeat

My advertising campaign, when I can afford it, will consist of placing some ads on Facebook and in magazines that fall within my target market. There are several Renaissance themed magazines that I could advertise in and I will more than likely pick the ones that give you an ad on their website as well as in print.

I would like to hear what advertising has worked for you. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email to

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shipping Ups And Downs

Shipping is the one thing that we all have in common, from vintage seller to handmade jewelry shop. If you have an online shop you will have to ship items out. The question is what is the best way to ship? In most cases USPS is the best way to ship. That is if you live in the US. As far as different countries, if you live outside the US let us know how it is.

I use PayPal to collect funds on the items I sell. Paypal has a handy feature that allows you to print a shipping label directly from the order. Every label printed comes with "Delivery Confirmation." It does not have any insurance included. At least you have the word of the USPS that the package was delivered.

The way I figured out how much to charge for shipping was simple. I chose different weights and found out how much each would cost to ship to the farthest location in the US from me. That gave me my baseline for all shipping in the US. I also checked the same with the farthest location in Canada to get Canadian shipping. As far as International shipping goes, I took a look at the most expensive place to ship and dropped a few dollars off to get my Everywhere Else taken care of.  If it weighs over 4 pounds you have to do International Priority which is very expensive, about double what it is under 4 pounds so keep that in mind.

Some of my items weigh over a pound so I use a lot of Flat Rate boxes. One item might cost $7.50 to ship priority but only $5.00 to ship flat rate. Another thing to take into account is packing material. If you use bubble wrap you know it isn't cheap. Shredded paper is a good alternative in some cases and it promotes recycling.

If you want to keep your shipping charges down so your customers don't freak out, you can put part of the cost into the item. This especially works well with insurance. On items that are higher dollar ($100+) you can add in $8 to $10 to your price and just say insurance is included. You could actually have free US shipping this way as well. Something to think about in the upcoming Holiday season.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Selling Holiday Items On Etsy and ArtFire

When do people start buying for the Holiday Season? There is no simple answer to that. Hobby Lobby and other supply stores leave some of their Christmas items up all year. There are even Christmas stores that keep their doors open all year long. I started working on my Christmas Ornaments, pictured above, in August and plan to have them up for sale next week. After that, I plan to leave them up all year long.

It is a good idea to use one of your 10 shop sections on Etsy for Holiday and Seasonal items. It is a little easier on ArtFire because they allow many more shop sections. I think it is worth it to keep the items up all year, even if it will cost you $0.80 a year on Etsy. It is free to keep your listing up on ArtFire all year long.

The rest of the Holidays, other than Christmas, should also be left up all year. There are plenty of people out there that decorate for Halloween all year long, believe me, I know a few. You just never know what people are going to buy. People may stumble onto your item in May and bookmark it to buy it in November.

Leaving items up all year long will help to prepare you for any and all Holidays. It will give you a bit of a head start on everyone else, too. Etsy sent out a newsletter that was a preview of Christmas and that will get customers started to get into the Holiday spirit and just maybe get into the buying spirit!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Get Your Shop Noticed

It would seem that there are a lot of artists, crafters and vintage sellers all after the same bit of disposable income out there. How can you get noticed enough to get a leg up on the competition. There are several things that you can do. You can do free advertising. You can spend some money on advertising. You can write press releases and interviews and submit them to the media.

Free advertising is the only option some of us have. We are already living on a shoestring budget and just do not have the money to advertise. Social Marketing is one really great way to help spread the word about you for free. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and many more sites allow you to spread the word about you and your product for free. Some do not allow actual links to a shop but any exposure you can get can be a good thing. Trial and error here is free of cost but can take a lot of your time. Time is money so try and make sure you are getting your money's worth.

Paid advertising is good if you can afford it and if you can track the results. Back in the days before the internet the only way to track if advertising was working was an increase in revenue. With all the stats available today you can see how many times your ad was viewed and how many times it was clicked on. Being able to track a paid advertising campaign is great because if it is working you may want to extend it and if it isn't working you will want to move on. Trial and error can be expensive here. Ask your fellow shop owners what has worked for them and try to get as many details as possible.

Lastly, getting interviewed for a blog, newspaper, magazine, radio or TV can really help boost your brand and your sales. Look at the team forums on Etsy and forums on ArtFire or anywhere that a large group of bloggers hang out. Bloggers are always looking for things to blog about. It seems that blogs about people seem to do very well for all involved. Many times it is just a matter of letting a blogger know that you are interested in being interviewed. You can also write up an interview type letter asking and answering interesting questions about you and your business. Make it so easy on the blogger that all they have to do is copy and paste!

Writing press releases and articles and sending them to your local media is a great way to get some exposure. When writing press releases make sure that it is for something that is press worthy like a craft show or fund raiser and how you are donating a portion of your proceeds to a local charity. As for articles, most newspapers have a spotlight on locals. Be sure to send it to the appropriate editor. Make your story concise and to the point and include high resolution photos. 300dpi is usually good enough for print. Be sure the photo is in CMYK because this is generally the color scheme that is used in print. It is also a good idea to send a B&W version of the photo as well. If you are emailing this is easy, if not be sure to either not expect your photo back or send an S.A.S.E. with your submission.

Free advertising is great! Remember to watch how much time you spend on it. Paid advertising eliminates the need for a lot of time being spent on it but can be costly. Writing articles and press releases take time but can get huge amounts of exposure. Remember that the more work you do for the editor the less they have to do. If it is written well enough it will go in the media right away, but it might sit until there is a need for it.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top 10 Tips For Your Shop to Succeed

It is time for another installment of the Top 10!

1. A Picture is Worth 1000 Words- Always strive to have the best photo that you can take. It might mean retaking your photos if you get a new camera. It might mean retaking your photos for seasonal or holiday settings. If some of your items are not making it into treasuries and you think they should be, inspect your photos. What is causing people to overlook them. Try and change the angle or the lighting.

2. Title Relevancy- Titles may need to be changed to stay on top of the game. Remember your first three words are the most important. Be sure that the first three words are what you want to optimize. Make sure that the first three words are the most popular search phrase for your item.

3. Check Your Tags- Do you still have some one word tags lingering after your relevancy makeover? There is no time like right now to go and check. Remember that tags are keyword phrases that people type to find your items. Using the keyword "red" probably won't help anyone to find your product. "Red Glass Beads" may be exactly what needs to be there for someone to find you. 20 characters may not be a lot, but it is better than just using three characters.

4. Use What is Given to You- Use all five photo slots. Use your shop sections. Use all 13 tags. Use the Recipient, Occasion and Style sections in your listing. Use your materials. The more complete your listing the less likely that there will be questions.

5. Ask For Help- Everyone starts out like a newbie. There, I said it, experts are not born they are taught. Try to learn from the mistakes of others so you can make new fresh mistakes of your very own. Teams are a great way to find help. Just be polite and ask for help. Remember, the only stupid question is the one that is never asked.

6. Read Everything- There is so much information on how to do anything that you'd want to do that is might be impossible to read it all. Tutorials on how to use your exact camera. How to start a Twitter account. How to market through Facebook. If you have a question there are tons of answers. Google can help you find the answers.

7. Change Your Plan of Attack- Is something you are doing not working? Switch gears. Reassess what you are doing and why it isn't working and try something different. It is as simple as that. With all the info out there, you'll find more than a few ways to do just about anything from photos to coming up with good tags.

8. Take a Break- Getting frustrated? Take a break from what is frustrating you and do something different. If your photos are giving you a hard time move to tags. If the computer is making you want to pull your hair out, go to the studio. If nothing is going right, go for a walk. Do not let anything cause you too much stress, it isn't worth it.

9. Try New Things- It is just fine to try new things but do not completely redesign your shop on a whim. Try working on a section at a time. Do 10 listings and see how it goes. If it works, try 10 more. If it doesn't work try something different with the first 10. If you change your entire shop and it does not work, now you have to change your entire shop again.

10. Be Yourself- Whether you are on a team forum, Facebook, Twitter or at a show, be yourself. When you are writing your descriptions be yourself. You are your Brand. Make sure you are selling yourself in every item. One great thing about making handmade items is people love to hear the stories behind why you are doing what you are doing. Selling yourself helps to sell your items.

I hope these tips will help to make you even more successful. Do not get discouraged, the fact that you opened your shop puts you above all those people who never will have a shop. If you have questions feel free to ask. I am always looking for great tips so please be sure to let me know if you have a tip or suggestion.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Price Your Handmade Items

There has always been an ongoing discussion on how to price your handmade items. While there are several formulas for doing this, they may or may not work for you. I wrote this article in hopes that it will help you to price your items so that you can make a profit without overpricing to the point no one wants to buy.

First you must establish a baseline break even price for your items. Take into account the material cost + the cost of shipping to get the materials to you + fees from Etsy and PayPal + your minimum wage. By your minimum wage I mean the amount of money that you feel you deserve for your craft. I will give you a hint here. NEVER work for less than you would at a minimum wage job otherwise you are just doing what you're doing as a hobby. Other things to take into account are fluctuating pricing on materials. If you are working in Silver or Gold your baseline pricing will be based on current market value. When pricing your materials you need to price it not as what you paid for it but as what it would take to replace it.

For example you are making a pair of earrings. The cost for materials is $3.85 including shipping and fees, you spend 1/2 an hour making the earrings. You feel like you are worth $10 an hour. (This is assuming you are relatively new to crafting. People with over 10 years experience charge a craftsman wage which is anywhere from $25 to $100 an hour) So, in this example your baseline is $8.85 for your pair of earrings. Now we figure out your wholesale price. My wholesale formula is baseline x 1.5 so, this would be $8.85 x 1.5 = $13.28 This allows you to make a small amount of profit on your wholesale orders.

I also have minimums on wholesale orders to keep individuals from buying 3 or 4 pieces and expecting a huge discount. I set mine by dollar amount usually and will not accept a wholesale order for under $250 wit the exception of my higher priced items which are only available for wholesale on a multi-unit situation. Meaning my $350 chainmail coif is not available for wholesale unless they are ordering 5 or more of them. You can set your wholesale any way you like but make sure you are still making a profit.

Retail is simple. Just at least double your wholesale price. In some cases you may be able to multiply your wholesale by 2.5 to 3. It depends on what the market will bear. In our example the retail price would be $13.28 x 2 =  $26.56 I generally round up to the nearest $.25 so these would be $27.75

The main point is that people expect to pay more for handmade. They do not mind paying for the knowledge that someone made the item by hand and it is a better product than one that is mass produced. If you price your items too low people will think that you probably did not make the item and that you imported a mass produced product.

I hear a lot of people say that they will price low to undercut the competition and make it up on volume. That is the mentality of importers and resellers. Don't undersell yourself with the hopes that you will make it up in volume because that is not the case. You'll lose out on all the customers that appreciate handmade goods.

One final note. I see people who have sales where they put everything in their shop on sale for 50% off. I think that is pretty silly. The message you portray with that is that you do not value yourself or your product. Even if a few people jump on the sale it can hurt you in the long run by sending the wrong message. I would never offer anything more than a 20% discount unless it is a closeout item that you will never produce again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Art Of Tags And Keywords

I have been asked by a few people to try and explain tagging a little better, so here goes. Lets try to think of tags as search terms. Try to get the idea that a single word is a poor search term. If you are looking for an item like a "purple beaded chunky bracelet for a woman" would you try and look for it by typing "woman" into Google? Probably not. Depending on your search filter you may not like what you find.

The same thing goes for typing the word "purple" into Google. You are not going to find what you are looking for if you are not specific when you are searching. "Beaded bracelet" might get you a little closer, but it still does not say what you are looking for. When you search for something on the Internet you want to find it as quickly as possible and avoid as many unrelated items as you can.

Etsy allows you 20 characters to tag your item. That really is not a lot but it is plenty if you break up your tags. With relevancy, the Etsy search algorithm looks for exact keyword matches in exact orders. So, if you cannot fit all the words into one tag, break them up: "purple beaded chunky" and "bracelet for a woman" would work to get the exact keyword phrases listed. To me "purple beaded chunky" sounds a bit like tag stuffing so that isn't the best example, but I hope that helps a little.

Another question that has come up recently is repeating the same word in multiple tag phrases. Here is an example: "Steampunk Jewelry" and "Steampunk Necklace" and "Steampunk Choker" are all three different terms. Since the Etsy search is looking for exact matches, this is a good way to tag the item as long as it is relevant to the item. Each tag is treated individually. It would also be good to describe the item with all three terms in the description so that you are also making it easier for other search engines to pick up these terms. Some search engines do not put any weight on the tags you are using.

If you get stuck, take out a piece of paper or open a text editor and start entering all the words you can to describe the item you are tagging. Does a color describe it? Is it round? Does it fit into a holiday? Is it seasonal? What kind of person wears it? How was it made? Is there a special material involved? Is there a certain type of process used in the making? Though you may not use all of these for tags you may be surprised at how many ways there really are to describe it. You may even rewrite your descriptions because of it.

Try not to make tagging any harder than it has to be. Instead of not having enough ideas to fill the 13 slots, you should be looking at the way too many ideas and putting the best ones into the 13 slots. I hope this helps to clear a little bit more up on tagging. As always, I am here to answer your questions so keep them coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Relevancy: Changing Tags and Titles On The Fly

If you look above, you'll notice that there are currently 7,758,086 items listed in the Handmade category on Etsy. That was of the time I started writing this article. In a field of so many items how can you possibly get your item found? The very first step is knowing how people search for things on the Internet. (I wrote an article about How People Search Here.) The second thing to do is Title and Tag your items in a way that they come up in the searches. (Here are articles on Titles and Tags.)

Today I would like to talk about changing your Titles and Tags 'on the fly' when special circumstances present themselves. Take for example the Etsy Wedding Newsletter that is sent out weekly. They always have certain trends that link over to a search. This week my Renaissance Wedding Costume Knight's Chainmail Coif was featured in the costume section of the newsletter. If you were to click on the "Full Costuming" link it would have taken you to an Etsy Search page that had the search "Wedding Costume" already filled out for you with the first page of listings shown.

If you were to take some of the items in your shop that are considered "wedding costume" elements and change the title and tags to include the search phrase "wedding costume" you would certainly have a good chance of being seen when someone clicks on the link from the email. You do not have to be featured to utilize the current trends within Etsy's many newsletters. You just have to be willing to do a little bit of research and jump on the band wagon.

This goes beyond just the Etsy Newsletters, (you should sign up for all of them) it translates to what is going on in the world of entertainment and fashion. If a movie is coming out and one of your items has something to do with that movie, changing the title and tags to match what people might be searching for can help you be found. With Google it can take a little bit longer to be picked up with the new titles and tags, but Etsy is within minutes.

Being found in the first few pages of an Etsy search is great as long as it is a search that many people do. Being found in an Etsy Search that an Etsy Newsletter has already set up is even better. Follow trends and never consider your shop to be to the point where it is done. Things change and you have to go with the flow.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject so please leave your comments and questions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Twitter Tips And Tricks For Your Business

Twitter provides a few tools to help you out on their website. From adding a follow button to your page to widgets that show some of your tweets. These tools are very helpful. There are a multitude of tools created by other companies for Twitter. Some of these are far more valuable than you can ever know.

Setting up automated tweets can make your life a bit easier, however, it can make you look look a spammer too. Do not get into the mindset that you need to be anything other than yourself on Twitter. You do not need to make money tweeting other people's ads. You are on Twitter to help only one business - yours. I would not set up automated tweets until you have a lot of followers. The exception is if you have a blog I would set Twitter to tweet when you have a new blog post. I will explain how to set that up when I get to the series on blogging.

Another handy but underused automation is AutoDM. Basically you set up a message to be sent to all new followers when they follow you. DMs are, in my opinion, a complete waste of time. Twitter never really intended DMs to be much of a way to have a private conversation and it shows. You can only delete one message at a time, so if you have thousands of followers it is very difficult to keep up.

There are many programs for managing your Twitter account out there. TweetDeck, HootSuite, CoTweet and many more. Each one has its benefits and limitations. Most have a free and paid version. Do a web search on Twitter Management Software and you'll get tons of different tools. Look at each one and see if it is for you. I prefer the "less is better" route myself. I do not do much automation on my account. I feel like I need to just be myself and tweet when I do.

Tweet about the process of what you do. Tweet about a sale you just attended. Tweet about a new product line. Try to just be yourself. When you add a coupon code tell your followers about it. Ask how the weather is where they are. Try to relate to your followers and help them relate to you. Don't post 20 new items in a row. If you are going to add multiple items, list them all and tweet with a link to the category saying you added many new items.

Ask questions and answer questions when you see them in your feed. I sometimes ask people about jewelry shops in their area. That has actually resulted in a new shop carrying my work. Ask for people's opinions on your new items. It will get them to view it without being a push for a sale and seeming spammy.

Add people who have the same interests as you. Twitter has a decent search feature. It has a simple search and a more complete search. Be sure when you are adding people to follow that they have tweeted in the last few days and that their tweets are not mainly just links. You want real people to tweet to. I will leave you with a little tutorial on #HASHTAGS I wrote a while back on another blog. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

"From #followFriday to #tips, hash tags are a great way to organize and categorize conversations on shows the most recent group tweets on Twitter

To see which groups have already been created, visit - the official site that creates, organizes and displays these groups. Use the search box in the upper right corner to see if your group name is already available. If it isn’t, you can create it simply by tweeting and including the hashtag (#) within your post.

It is now time to familiarize yourself with hashtag commands, so that you only broadcast a message out to the people you want to receive it, those being the members of your hashtag group. Here’s a quick rundown of the more useful ones:

1. Follow #tag - (example: follow #tip) - lets you follow all updates tagged with #tip. 

2. Follow username#tag - subscribe to all updates from a certain person that are sent to a group. (Example: Follow @ClearNetworking#tip will give you every post by @ClearNetworking sent to the #tip group)

3. #tag message - Send a message or question to the group. (Example: #tip Don't set up an automated message with a web address in it.)

4. #tag !message - Send a message only to people who are subscribed to updates from #tag. (Example: #tip !How many tips have you retweeted today?) 

5. Leave #tag - Unsubscribe from the group. If your friends are subscribed to this group as well, you’ll still get messages from them that include updates for the group. (Example: leave #tip will unsubscribe you from the Tips group, but you’ll still get messages from your friend whenever send a message to #tip).

6. Remove #tag Unsubscribe from the group and from friend messages that include this tag. So if @ClearNetworking posts directions to #party010 and you’ve typed Remove #party010 in your Twitter status bar, you won’t see the directions even if @ClearNetworking is on your followers list.

It might be a good idea to print out this list and keep it with you for a while until you remember what command does what. Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear them!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Power Of Twitter For Your Online Shop

Twitter is a powerful tool. Those who learn to use it can really bring more traffic into their shop. The problem with Twitter is that most people who use it for business are not using it right. If you constantly post links to your shop or your items people will start to ignore you. They may even report you for spam and Twitter could delete your account.

Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows you to write 140 characters about what you are doing right now. 140 characters isn't a lot but it is enough to engage your customer base, tell them about a new product and carry on a conversation. Used correctly it can drive a lot of traffic to your shop and help you to convert people into customers.

There is no "fine line" when it comes to Twitter spam. Either you are spamming or you aren't. Twitter should be used as another way to show your customers and potential customers that you are in fact a human artist or someone who seeks out vintage items and puts items out there for people to buy. The key here is the word "human." People would rather hear about your thrift store finds or the process you go through to create an item.

If you don't already have a Twitter account, let me know and I will create a tutorial on how to set up your account, otherwise I am going to assume you already have an account. I am also going to assume that you have your shop URL listed under your website section and/or in your profile. If not, make sure you do that. That way people can get to your shop without you spamming your links.

So, what do you talk about? Talk about the new items you just got at the thrift store or yard sale. Talk about how you choose the color of fall line of crocheted baby hats. Talk about the fluctuating prices of sterling silver. And every 15th or so Tweet you can put a link to your newest item.

Tomorrow I will be discussing some great Twitter strategies, some fun Twitter tools, the Dos and Don'ts of the Twitter world and a few other things. In the meantime you may want to check out my article on Time Management because you can get lost in Twitter and end up tweeting all day instead of working! Be sure to check out the other archived articles as well. I hop you all had a safe and fun Holiday weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

10 Tips For Etsy Success

How do you measure success with your Etsy shop or ArtFire Studio or where ever you sell your items? Do you measure it through how many sales, how many views, how many favorites? No matter how you measure your success there is always room for improvement. Today I offer 10 tips that can help you become successful with your online shop.

1. Keep A High Inventory - Some say that there is a "magic number" of items to have in your shop before you start to really make sales. Most agree that it is somewhere between 50 and 150. This comes from the old saying "You can't sell what you don't have." Keeping your inventory up will help with sales. Giving the customer many choices seems to really help.

2. Organize Your Shop - Have you ever been in a store where nothing really seemed to go together? It was just a mess. You can't find what you are looking for in a messy shop. There are two ways to organize your shop and I suggest using both. First use your shop sections. On Etsy you have 10 sections and on ArtFire you have considerably more. Group like items together in the shop sections. A note about sections is that they have some SEO power with them. So try to use good keywords in your sections such as "Beaded Bracelets" or "Silver Earrings" so that the search engines will pick the sections up. Using just "Bracelets" or Earrings" works okay just for your shop but it does not help outside of that.

3. Never Undersell Yourself - People expect to pay more for handmade items. Having items that are very inexpensive in your shop will make your customer wonder if you are importing the items for resell. Now, some people go over the top and price things very very high. Unless you have made a name for yourself pricing a small painting at $5000 is probably going to cause someone to chuckle and move on. Try to stay within the competitive market with your prices but never try to undercut prices just to make a sale.

4. Add To Your Circle - Circles are a great way to gain more attention. Adding people who make things you like can help a lot. Many of the people that you add to your circle will add you back. When you create a new item it shows on the "New items from your favorite shops" of everyone who has added you to their circle. When you make a treasury or favorite a shop or item it gets published to your circle feed. When someone favorites you it gets posted to their feed. It is a way to become viral on Etsy.

5. Participate In Teams - Join teams that are within your type of shop medium. There are tons of teams. Joining a team isn't enough. You need to be active on the teams. Participate in discussions. Ask questions. Answer questions. Participate in team challenges. It is fun and will draw attention to you.

6. Spread The Word - Tell the world about your shop. Use social media to spread the word about your new items, shows or whatever you are trying to promote. Write a press release for your local newspaper. If you are going to be in a show ask the show to feature you in their advertising, provide them with a good write up and nice photos. Make it easy for them and they can hardly refuse.

7. Pay Attention To Your Stats - Check what keywords people are finding you with. See what time of day you get the most visits. That is a good way to know when yo release a new item. Don't just check your Etsy stats, check Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Google Blogger Stats and any others that give you hard facts about how you are doing.

8. If It Isn't Working Change It - If over a period of say 2 weeks or more no one has clicked on your items using the keywords you have optimized your item for it may be time to change your tactics. You might need to reevaluate your title and tags and try to figure out why you are not getting the traffic you want. You may need to optimize for a smaller niche.

9. Help Someone New - If you know a little, you know a lot. Helping someone to not make the same mistakes you made is not only a nice thing to do, it will make a friend. Helping someone out will show that you are a person who isn't just in it for the money. You never know when you might need a friend to give you an honest critique.

10. Ask Questions - Don't assume that you know it all. I have been working with the web pages since the internet was just a wee baby. I do NOT know it all. Things change in the blink of the eye. What worked great yesterday won't work today. If you find yourself in a position where you don't know what is wrong, ask a question. If you think you know the answer but are not sure, ask a question. The only dumb question is the one that goes unasked. Asking a question does not make you look bad, it makes you look intelligent!

I hope these tips will help you out. I am always looking for more great tips to add to my weekly top 10 so please feel free to share, I will give you credit. This blog is 100% free to you and I am always happy to answer questions so feel free to ask.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Making Facebook Work For You

This week I have been discussing how to set up your Facebook Fan Page and ways to get more fans. Today I would like to talk about how Facebook can make money for you. Facebook is one of the greatest promotion tools you can use to spread the word about a sale you are having, a new item listed, a show you are vending at or just about anything. The more fans you have the more potential customers you have.

I talked a while back about QR codes and how to get one for any website you have. (QR Code article) It is tie to start using that code to gain more fans. Put it on your business cars, print it on a piece of paper and put it in your booth at your next show, put it on flyers, put it where ever you print something dealing with your shop you can even put it on a sticker and put it next to your return address on your packages.

Adding the Etsy Facebook App is a great way to make money with Facebook. People can buy directly from your Facebook page. The app can be found here: My Etsy for Facebook It is easy to set up and starts working for you as soon as it is live. You will have to switch back to your profile page to install it, just make sure you install it on your Fan Page. Some people set the My Etsy App page as their default landing page. I do not recommend this.

Speaking of landing pages, there is a neat way to get more likes to your page. You can set up a landing page that encourages people to click on the "Like" button. You then set your default landing page to the newly created page and every time someone new comes to you page they will see your custom page. I will not go into the creation of this but if you Google "How to set up a custom Facebook landing page" there are many tutorials. Please note that there are some free options out there. So, if you are on a tight budget you can still do it.

I talked about organic vs direct traffic the other day. When people find you organically it is more valuable than if you are found through an ad or you ask someone to visit. The same thing applies to Facebook Fan Pages. When people find you naturally and become a fan it is far more valuable than if you tell someone to come be your fan. I know people with few Facebook Fans that have a better customer conversion rate than people with thousands of fans. I am not saying do not advertise your page, just that natural fans tend to become customers faster.

This concludes the series on Facebook Fan Pages. Next week I will be talking about Twitter and how to make it work for you. In the meantime if you have questions please feel free to ask.