Tips On Approaching Design Blogs, Buying Ad Space

The European Etsy Street Team has put together a very informative blog over at Handmade-Europe.com.  We are launching a series covering some of the top posts from their blog that we feel will help improve your handmade/craft business.  We hope you enjoy!  Today’s article covers the topic of buying ad space and approaching design blogs get get your work featured.

OK, there you are with your shiny shop, with beautiful products, and you try to figure out how to spread the word about your awsome goodies. Nowadays there is much talk about utilizing networking tools – such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc etc – for marketing, and a lot of “how-to”-s in this field urge everyone to start networking now. No doubt, networking can be powerful marketing tool if wisely used, but today I want to talk about something more conventional: banner ads and features on design blogs.

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Advertising on blogs
Let’s jump into its core: there are endless debates about the effectiveness of banner advertisements, if it worth or not to spend money on it, or it is better to spend that amount of money on product developement for example.  I think two factors define the perception of a banner’s effectiveness, that are more or less results of subjective and individual decisions.

1) First of all: No one should expect miracles from paid advertising, since CTR (click through rate) is very low, it is less than 1% on average. This means that out of 1000 appearances of a banner only 1 percent of the visitors actually click on the banner. This ratio might be a little higher on blogs devoted to certain topics (like fashion, handmade etc) since their readers are basically interested in the topic so your banner have a little higher chance to be clicked.

Banners are good for showing to a large audience that you exist, nothing more. At least that is how I see them: I do not expect sales directly from them. It is more like an investment: people see my name – most of them do not click – and they start to learn, that my name exists.

photo by Ben Heine

2) It is very important that your banner ad is on the right site or blog. Choosing the “right” is often not easy; you have to check a lot of blogs or sites and decide on each if your product fits to that particular blog and its  audience or not. Checking a bunch of blogs is one thing, but the moment of truth can come only by trials and errors. What works for others may not work for you, and vica versa. For example I wanted to be accepted to a very famous online marketplace for a year at least, but I did not succeed. After many trials I got accepted, but what worked for many fellow Etsy sellers, did not work for me: in that period I got far more views from a design site where I had a banner campaign, than from the famous online marketplace. Lesson learned.

As a 2nd and half wisdom I would like to suggest this very practical guide to banner ads: it is written by Jen from Indiefixx, who obviously have a lot of experience in this field.

Approaching (design/handmade/indie fashion) blogs

How can you spread your name around the (blog)world, if you don’t like and/or don’t believe in paid advertisements? You can contact them directly with your shop, new line of product etc.: bloggers are always searching for new shops, people to feature, and they don’t always have time to browse social media outlets for new talents.

photo by Ben Heine

OK, but what to write? First of all: you do not have to be witty, you do not have to write novel, you do not have to explain your life – just be yourself in a few simple sentences, and do not forget to attach a few photos (under 1 MB!) and your shop’s and/or website’s link.

A while ago Jena from Modish collected all her very useful tips in one post: as a well-known blogger she really knows how to approach them. Here are some of her key points.

– Address the blogger by name
– Answer the the who, what, and where that bloggers are looking for succinctly and creatively
– Try not to get too lengthy

See more of her tips here. Also, I found a similar post on Design Sponge, written with different method: well-known bloggers answered the question of DS: what type of approach do they like and why. Though it is a long post, it really worth to read!

And again: try to contact that blogs that you think your products fit into their line. But how do you know which blog is for you: either for featuring you or for advertising? Well, it is a work you cannot save: browsing through some of those dealing with design, handmade and indie art. Here are some to start browsing, and you can continue to check their blogroll to see more blogs.

Scoutiegirl, Rikrak, Paper’n’Stitch, Designismine, Lushlee, Modish, Indiefixx, Pikaland, Lovely Clusters, Poppytalk, Lillyella…and many more, don’t forget to check out their blogrolls as well!

10 Easy, Thoughtful Gifts to Make for Crafters: On-the-Go Knitting Bag: Guest Post Series by Julie Anne Eason

Handmade gifts are appreciated so much by other crafty-type people. They understand the gift is an expression of your regard for them. They know you spent time thinking about them while you made the object and that each stitch and every cut is filled with warm wishes and creative spirit.All  the trading systems have been developed by the experts putting themselves into the shoes of the traders, taking up their roles and realising what would be the expectations of a normal, casual trader. Visit the following site of the various trading systems to know how and based on what have they been developed. And it’s even better when the gift is something beautiful they can use every day. So, what are you making for the maker in your life? We’ve got 10 ideas for knitters, sewers, scrappers and all around craft enthusiasts. Just for fun, we’re going to unwrap one at a time. And because we’re all super busy this time of year, each project takes just 15 or 20 minutes and little (or no) money. You might even be able to complete all 10 with items you have sitting in your craft room right now.

Here’s gift number eight: On-the-Go Knitting Bag

I like to knit on the go, while I’m watching a soccer game or waiting at the airport. So, I keep lots of these knitting bags on hand with a project inside I can pick up and put down without thinking about it. I keep one in each car, one in my gym bag, anywhere I might have a few minutes to knit. The special thing about these bags is the extra long shoulder strap. You can sling it across your chest and knit away without worrying about my yarn rolling around or falling out. You can also add an outside pocket for a pattern and an inside pocket for a measuring tape, stitch markers and small pair of scissors.

You can use just about any fabric for this bag, though I prefer using heavy tapestry printed upholstery material. The size you make really depends on the size yarns your gift recipient knits with. I tend to knit socks and lightweight items, so my bag is smaller. If your knitter uses bulky weight yarns, be sure to adjust the size accordingly. This is a super easy bag you can make in about 30 minutes with scrap fabric you have on hand.

Step 1. Figure out how deep and wide you want the finished bag. Then cut out a strip of fabric that measures the same width and three times the depth. So, if you wanted an 8″ x 10″ bag, you would cut a strip 8″ x 30″.

Step 2. Fold the rectangle up from the bottom until the folded part measures the same as your desired bag depth. So, in our 8×10 example you would have 2 pieces at 10″ and a 10″ piece left over. The folded part is your bag and the single piece is your front flap.

Step 2-A. If you want pockets, now is the time to sew them on. You can make any size rectangles you want for pockets, hem and sew them onto the main pouch section. I usually add a full-length pocket on the outside to hold my pattern. Also, if you’re going to embellish any part of the bag, with embroidery, applique, or whatever, now is the time to do that.

Step 3. Pin the folded part together. Sew or serge up the sides of the folded part, and hem the flap either with a facing strip or just folding it under. I usually serge all the way around the raw edges. Then iron the serged edge of the flap under and hand stitch it down.

Step 4. Cut a long strap about four to six inches wide. I go for a good 40″ long piece, but adjust according to your preference. With right sides together, sew it in half lengthwise and then turn it right side out and press flat. Now you have a long finished strap and all you have to do is attach it to the sides of the bag (on the inside.) For bonus points, you can decorate the flap and add a fancy closure. Why not throw in some handmade stitch markers while you’re at it?

Julie Anne Eason is making her list and checking it twice. In addition to writing for Handmade Spark, she also runs a number of websites including SeriousSewing.com. She writes helpful reviews on items like the Brother CS6000i sewing machine, Janome Xpression embellisher, Juki sergers and cutting tables.

See the rest of Julie Anne’s tutorials here.

How To Make A Copper Wire Ring

The ring I made before went well so I wanted to play around with that some more. Here I have a gauge 22 and 18 wire. The smaller the number the thicker the wire.

One in both sizes, each a little different. I didn’t get this wire at the craft store, this is wire that Lois from “A Beaded Affair” brought me. I had initially planned to visit some stores personally and carry out a survey of the available varieties. That would have taken some time and effort, but the result would be worth. It was during a friendly discussion with one of my friends who dealt with craft items online that she recommended the item from Lois. She also gave me the full review and I was easily convinced. Great price in lots of gauges and shapes and she’s got nice beads too.

Yes, it’s a handle of some sort. This end makes a bigger ring, something like a size 8. the other end has a metal collar and is more like a size 6 1/2 – 7. The beads I used today are a semi-precious amethyst and they fit both wire sizes.

This is the 18 gauge which I’m wrapping twice. The 22 gauge I wrap three times. I brought the wires together and bent one up and one down in the center.

Work one bead at a time.

Once strung with a bead each wire goes behind in the opposite direction.

Like so.

Time to put the ring back on our “form”. This is when you want to tighten everything up and make sure the wire is going where you want it to go.

Now you want to make the wire and beads symmetrical. What you do on the top, do the opposite on the bottom. I do feel my way through each ring, for me it’s an organic process. I’ve also snipped the wires to and inch, inch and a half. This depends on how big you want your spirals.

I prefer smaller ones so I snipped mine to an inch. Use the round nosed pliers to start the spiral.

With the thicker wire especially I need to get the spiral into my flat nosed and really crank. Let the spiral sit in the bottom part of your pliers and the wire feed through the top.

This spiral will sit below the top bead.

Like so.

Again, what you did with your first spiral do the opposite with the other.

One in both sizes, each a little different. I didn’t get this wire at the craft store, this is wire that Lois from “A Beaded Affair” brought me. Great price in lots of gauges and shapes and she’s got nice beads too.

To Wholesale Or Not To Wholesale? Experiences And Opinions.

The European Etsy Street Team has put together a very informative blog over at Handmade-Europe.com.  We are launching a series covering some of the top posts from their blog that we feel will help improve your handmade/craft business.  We hope you enjoy!  Today’s article covers the in’s and out’s of selling wholesale.

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Piggy Bank Pinata by dollhead
Article by Brenda from Lindecise

If you are selling your handmade products mainly on the internet you’d be likely to want to try other sources to make your sales get higher, and offering your work to retailers has probably crossed your mind sometime already, maybe at this right moment you are asking yourself why wholesale? or some other specific questions about the “how to’s” of wholesaling.
Luckily, there are several sources of good tips on the internet about wholesales (here is a useful link), but the best way to find out how wholesale works and to determine if it’s suitable for your business interests is to review other’s experiences. I asked some EST members (Karlita, MGMart and Swiedebie) and a USA seller (tamar) to share their point of view about wholesales based on their own experiences.
I hope that after reading this article you will have more insights to make your own opinion and decide whether or not to jump in the wholesale adventure.

Karlita said:
I do wholesale but very limited. I have experience selling wholesale to a fashion museum (and they give more than wholesale prices) and to one other company. I sell in the fashion museum and that allows me to have a physical address for Belgium buyers who are not so familiar yet with buying online.
I get asked regularly to sell wholesale but I have decided to be against it because of two reasons:
1. It changes the prices you can ask for retail (since you normally get a lot less for wholesale).
2. I’m already short of time to experiment for new creations, so I don’t want to spend that time only to reproduce things.

MGMart said:
I have been asked lots of time if I do a wholesale, my first my reply was: No, I can’t afford to do a wholesale, as my prices are so low and so many I can do by myself alone in one day, while I am looking after my children.
But I was offering a multiple items deal (what you can see now on my shop announcement), as so many people was asking about multiple items purchase.
Example :
For 5-8 items 5% off,
9-20 items 15% off,
21-30 items 30% off,
For more than 31 items 40% off from the retail price.
Couple of times I was offering a 50% off from my items price, but it just not worked for me, as how long I am working on one piece, I hardly had any profit on it. It’s just breaking my heart to put so much of my money, energy, time and effort to create something and under price my own work to offer it on half price.

So, that is my wholesale experience so far, but I never now what the future brings for me.

Money wallet by giusypatch

Tamar (USA seller) said :
About 25% of my business is wholesale, so far I’ve had excellent experiences with it and I sell all over the world, I have an online “catalog” which is really excel pages with all the items I wholesale on it and an explanation of my terms which basically consist of a minimum of 10 items per category, my shipping dates and payment options, this works very well both for me and my clients that can easily view my items and what is available at the time.

Swiedebie would like to share her so useful do’s and don’ts on wholesaling, here is what she said:

Wholesaling is a long term business. If it is done well, it gains a long term trust and contract. You have to make sure you are willing to do what it takes for the following.

Do you want to craft full-time? This is a question one will ask because wholesaling requires working on long and unusual hours, and it means a full time commitment. If your body and health forbids, don’t wholesale.

In wholesaling business, you have to be ready to feel stressed. Because it can be a moment when you feel that what you do can gain or probably break up your business into pieces. It is a normal situation and one has to be prepared for this level.

You have to buy wholesale supplies in bulk. A question to ask: can you afford that? When you wholesale, you have to make sure you purchase sufficient amount of supplies in stock to make sure you can produce a huge amount of products.

Photo by Artmind

Be daring to raise your prices high enough, so that you can accommodate to a 50% discount. I have done so far a maximum of 40% (not a half price comes by yet, so I guess I am lucky in a way).
When it comes to pricing, you have to determine your prices by being sure to add in all your costs, otherwise your final result will be below what you expect.
Do not compare to online competitors. Make a trip to a store you want to see your items in. The prices of your competitors in the store are the ones that you should be checking out. This will give you a very good idea of what your items should be sold for.
If you are still not convinced, ask a competitor for help! These people are very honest to advice you on your price collection.

How To Make A Barn Quilt

In a previous post, Barn Quilts Across America, I talked about creating a barn quilt to hang at my orchard. Well, the process has begun and I plan to keep you all ‘in the know’ on how it’s progressed and have some basic instructions if you ever feel the urge to make one yourself!

When you decide to decorate your orchard with something handmade and creative you needn’t worry. It is completely easy and interesting to accomplish the same with few quick trips to the shops to procure the required items. Once that is done then making it is easy with few tricks. I have made a humble effort to give you the entire process what I followed to do the board.  Hope this will help you in your mission too. The tag to Andrew king’s creation will give you more leads for the same.

Step One: My husband went to Menard’s and purchased two pieces of 4’ x 8’ treated plywood – top grade. He then put the boards together (with our 2 year old Capri’s help – turns out she’s a good carpenter) and framed the back out with treated 2×6’s (specs say 2×4’s but we happened to have 2×6’s laying around).

How to make a barn quilt

Step Two: Coat the ENTIRE piece (sides too) with high quality exterior primer – I used latex. I also put on four coats to seal it real well.

How to make a barn quilt

Step Three. Using a ruler and a level, I drew on the quilt design for my barn quilt.

How to make a barn quilt

I am going to be painting a slightly tweaked ‘Constellation’ quilt block for the orchard. I know I could have used an more apple-y pattern since it’s going on an apple orchard but I just really liked this block and the rest of the family agreed.

How to make a barn quilt

Step Four. This is the last step I’ll talk about in this post. Using painter’s tape I taped off the design of the first color (it will be orange) of the quilt block. I had to use a straight edge and razor blade to get the points in the middle really nice.

Tune in next week to see how my barn quilt has progressed!

Expectations Not Met – Words Of Encouragement For Etsy Sellers

 

Time
I have never been into games much.  Always thought they were a waste of time.
Time I could be creating new things, or doing fun activities that produce something.
Spending too much time, looking at and desiring things I cannot afford or attain, can be just as much a time waster as playing too many games!
I have caught myself browsing new homes, in other states, always more expensive than what I have.  Or, spending too much time sketching yard designs, remodels we cannot possible do for another 5 years.
When we spend too much time dreaming of things we currently cannot afford, we will definably bring on a feeling of discontent and discouragement.  This can be, for a artist trying to sell their art a huge detriment.  This will pull us away from the real important things in our life!

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We must learn to focus on what we can do, with what we have at this time and space for today.
Not leaving our visions for tomorrow, but carefully protecting our fragile heart towards
producing accomplishments for today.
Make A Plan
If you are a consumer, seeking new things for your family and home, you can find ways to decorate and attain with a list.  Writing things down, will keep you from either compulsive buying, or buying things you do not need, or want.
Some list ideas are:
#1  gift list for family:
Many sites online let you place items in a “favorite” list.  Etsy has favorite stores, and favorite items.  This can then be accessed when the next birthday comes up.  No more running downtown to just buy whatever you see first.
#2  things to re-organize at home to improve how your space looks
#3  learn to make some of your gifts for Christmas this year.
A homemade gift is a treasure!  Even if you are not a artist, craftsman, you might find some easy things to make. Or have a artist make some custom item for you!  Many artists LOVE to customize things.
#4 for Artists, keep your visions of how much traffic you get to your store, or how many sales you make reasonable and attainable.  Do not place such a high expectation that you loose heart and quit. The only ones who fail are those who quit. If you do not NEED the income, just take a deep breath, learn to enjoy the creativity.  Keep putting new things in your shop, do what you can when you can. Learn a little each day. Don’t overwhelm your self with trying to learn too much too fast.
Overcoming Discontent
If you have already been overcome with discontent, use this option:
*Make a list of all the things you accomplish each day.
*Add a list of all the things you already have, that you are thankful for.
Then add the list of things you would eventually like to accomplish or attain but put no
dead line to this.  You can cross things off as they are done or accomplished.
I know many people want a deadline but for many of us, it just brings
about discouragement when we do not meet these high expectations.  It is a fine line to keep ourselves moving forward but not so that we fall off the roof.
We want to keep ourselves with MOTIVATION, but not be overwhelmed.  For example. I want to exercise a little each day.   If I say I am going to walk five miles a day, I have already set myself up to fail.  BUT, to say, ok, for now I am going to walk 1 mile or 20 minutes a day.  I motivate myself by thinking of what new things my neighbors are doing in their yards each day, and how good I feel mentally and physically after each walk.
I keep a calender in a easy to see spot, where every day I do walk, I put the miles. At the end of the month, it becomes a competition with myself to do better next month.
Motivation! Accomplishment is attained!
It is not our expectations but our inspections that will move us forward.  Be ready to see NO improvement as well as achieving our goals.  One is going to happen as much as the other.  Times of no progress, as well as true progress.  Allow both to happen.  Do not quit.  Steady and sure will give us that fulfillment we desire.
All photos by Brenda Salzano
top photo Self photo taken in Canada
Photo 2          vintage typewriter at the beach
Photo 3          rusty bike used by man who lives on his boat
Photo 4          my hubby, John Salzano who makes me laugh!

Make What You Love Or What The Market Wants

The European Etsy Street Team has put together a very informative blog over at Handmade-Europe.com.  We are launching a series covering some of the top posts from their blog that we feel will help improve your handmade/craft business.  We hope you enjoy!  Today’s article is about deciding if artists should sell and make what they love or what the market wants. Click here for the original article

scrabble pendant by LaVieIllustree
article by Minna from karuski

Have you ever wondered why online selling seems so challenging? Sales usually don’t pick up right away, you probably need to do a whole lot of marketing to spread to word and make yourself visible. Meanwhile you might be even thinking, are you on a right track at all. Be assured you are not alone with your thoughts. To make you feel more comfortable when the times are hard we decided to put together an article to gather opinions from an experienced Etsy seller Ira of iragrant (gorgeous bags made from Switzerland) and Tuija of Tuuni (lovely home ware from Finland) with a newer Etsy shop. Hopefully you will find some useful and encouraging ideas and perhaps some new points of view from the interview below. Enjoy!

Being an artist today is not easy, well the creative juices may be eternal, but one has to understand what market wants from them and adjust to tweak in their passion and find a good way to cash in the wave of online digital marketing of handmade products. HB Swiss robot trading investment tool and ,this review  will help beginners in the financial world to navigate and make profit .

The first important question to ask yourself: Do you make what you love or what the market wants?
IRA:
I make what I love but I don’t turn a blind eye and hope for the best! I follow the trends and see what is going on out there but I always make something that I love and I can be proud to use it anytime I want. For me it is this simple: How do you expect someone will trust, buy and love your product if you don’t.
TUIJA:
I started my business by doing what I felt passionate about: rescuing old handmade bed linen from flea markets (you know, the white sheets with beautiful handmade lace) and turning them into something useful and up to date. During my first craft show I learned that white wasn’t the most popular choice of color for home décor in peoples minds. Gladly, when I started looking for more colorful materials it opened up a whole new world of ideas for me! Conclusion is, I adjusted to what market wants and I’m still doing what I love. (And there is a growing market for white items too. At least I’d like to think so).

About your items: How did you come up with your current product line?
IRA:
By looking the latest trends, believe me or not I bought Vogue, Elle and Harper Bazaar monthly. They show the latest colours, style etc. and helped me to decide which bag I will make or which one will stay as sketches in my drawing book.
TUIJA:
It all starts from the materials I find. The fabrics sort of “tell” me what to do. I let them lead the way and greatest ideas always occur to me when I’m sewing or shopping in flea markets.

the key to my heart by ArtMind

Story telling is everywhere today. Is it important to have a story behind your collection?
IRA:
I don’t know about this, I know the story behind my collection but unfortunately I’m not good in telling them!
TUIJA:
That helps a lot. It adds value to the product and gives it a soul. It is very nice to give gifts with meaning and story behind them. It feels more personal. And if you are showing off your new home with handmade goods, there is always a topic of discussion when guests arrive.

pop art pendant by VKnO

How much do you think about existing markets and your potential customers when designing something new?
IRA:
I don’t really think about that, the first thing I do before I make a dummy from my sketches was asking myself, does anyone will use this bag?
I don’t want to make something that is so fantastic that people love them but don’t want to buy them. But Having said that, it’s important also to really believe in your design and product. If you can afford of course you can just go for it even though you know the result won’t be all that popular.

In fact that’s how I came with my Burlap Bags. I didn’t have any clue if those bags will sell at the first time, but I love them and after some time I find buyers who love them too. Maybe I don’t sell them enough to make any profit yet but I feel good about them already and that’s important for my creativity proccess.
TUIJA:
My creative process starts from the material. I’m always looking for materials that have a strong sense of history. Something that is recognizable. So that way I think about customers – can they identify with this color, pattern, texture etc.

happy happy poster by farouche

Handmade life is not always easy. What motivates you?
IRA:
My answer might be little bit silly, beside the sales which I need, I always get excited to see ‘iragrant’ bag spread up around the world!
TUIJA:
The fact that I can create something new every day is a good motivator for me. My dream is to do this full time someday. Its good to have goals (even if they seem like daydreams).

Are you happy with your current situation (sales wise, how your items look like, how to get customer feedback etc.)? What would you like to improve, if anything?
IRA:
I’m ok with my current situation not too satisfied though, sales could be better if I had more time to make and list new products. My pictures aren’t the best but I continue learning to make them better. And for the feedback, I always convo my buyers once the bag has been shipped and ask them to let me know once they received the bag which usually leads to feedback and some friendly convos too.

Etsy is my sole income, I don’t do craft fairs, consignment or wholesale. I just don’t want to do that, I have my own reasons why. So it means I have to make my Etsy shop work for me!
I always want to improve everything but I make peace with myself, for now with my current situation or family wise, this is the best I can do. Of course I want much better situation for the future, but I will do it one at the time.
TUIJA:
Sales could be better. But I’m happy for the time being. I’m taking small steps and learning on the way. The one thing I struggle with is the consistence of my product line. I have two very different “groups” of items -housewares (pillows,
baskets etc) and accessories. Most of my sales comes from the houseware section on Etsy but there is a wider market for accessories in my local resellers. The question is, should I focus on one thing or make everything? Would I sell more on Etsy if my shop had only the home décor items? I’ve been thinking about opening another shop just for accessories, but I don’t think I would have the time to manage them both.

letterpress mini callingcards by sweetharvey

To find your buyers can be a challenge itself. Do you know your target group and does it affect your creative process?
IRA:
I do, sometimes it does but not necessarily.
TUIJA:
I haven’t done any research on this subject. Online, it is hard to know your target group when customers are anonymous. I can only assume what that is. Well, I know the country they come from and that they are mostly women, but that’s about it. From local shops that sell my creations I get information from shop keepers about who is buying what. They have also very different customers and I offer them different kind of product lines. That clearly affects my creative process – I have to think about what kind of products I offer them to match the shop’s product range.

custom card by nounces

Do you know what your target group/customers really like and what they might need? How do you collect customer feedback if any?
IRA:
I don’t go to specific details with what my buyers want from me, I do custom orders for them when I can personally cater their needs.
TUIJA:
I send them a message after purchase to thank and info about the shipping times. I usually also say: “if you have the time, please give me a quick note when item(s) arrive.” I avoid asking for feedback but when customers reply to this message, they usually write something nice about the products too. I also add: “you can contact me with this e-mail if you have any questions”. (I know that line has brought me at least one custom order!).

Do you ever feel like creating something that might sell really easily? If yes, do you get mixed feelings about this?
IRA:
Let’s be honest, I love if my bags sell really well, but I only can make certain numbers of bags every month. [editor’s note: I assume Ira feels she does not want to offer bargains because the time to create is so limited]
TUIJA:
Yes. Sometimes. I’m usually thrilled when I finish something new and cant wait to get it listed. Then, it gets only few views and no hearts… this kind of disappointments happen and its frustrating when you put your time and effort to something you love and then there is no audience for it. But I try to think that maybe it was a wrong time for this item (like flowers in December or candles in June). If it doesn’t sell in few months, I usually move on and focus on other things. There is also big difference what sells off Etsy and online. That is very confusing sometimes.

art print by pocketcarnival

Any advice for your fellow Etsians who might be depating all these questions?
IRA:
Little bit advice from me for my fellow Etsian, it takes time to establish a shop on Etsy and I notice some of the products just don’t work on Etsy. Don’t beat yourself too harsh when sales don’t come as you want. By working hard and improving your shop does make your situation better!
TUIJA:
Try different things. Don’t be afraid to “play” with your shop a little. Look your shop from customers perspective – what would you buy and is buying from this shop easy or does it take effort to find what you are looking for.

These were all very valuable opinions for each of us, Thank you Ira and Tuija

Crafty Biz – 10 Tips for a Successful Blog

This post outlines the 10 steps that Jess believes to have contributed to the success of her blog, which has over 1,200 subscribers, and growing!

Jess Van Den loves to blog about handmade style, indie art + design, and crafty resources at EpheriellDesigns.com.

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When she’s not blogging, she’s working on jewellery for her eco-friendly, modern label, Epheriell.

Crafty Biz – 10 Tips for a Successful Blog

This is a post for those of you who blog – and who want to make your blog successful! I actually posted this on the Etsy forums a while back, when this blog passed 1,000 followers/subscribers.

That was only a month or so ago, and the count has grown to over 1,200. Welcome to all of my new subscribers… and of course a big hug to those of you who’ve been with me for a long time now!

I love this blog, and I’ve worked hard over the last few years to keep it going, growing, and evolving. These are the 10 things that I believe have contributed to the success I’ve achieved so far…

1. Love it

If you don’t love it don’t bother – because honestly, it’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward for a long time. I’m staring to see the concrete benefits of all my work now (getting sales from the blog, as well as a little advertising income) but for a long time the only reward is the warm feeling of nice comments and hearing how people have made sales after being featured – all of which are awesome, but not worth the effort for some.

2. Be consistent

Decide on a posting schedule, and stick to it – or at least blog a few times a week. My blog is a business in itself for me, so I blog every day and I’m working harder at having consistent weekly columns to draw readers back. If you’re all over the place with your posting, it’s a lot harder to build a loyal audience – not to mention, the more you blog, the more chances there are for someone to just stumble over your blog because they’re searching for something!

3. Leave credit, and inform people you’ve blogged about them

My blog, being about handmade style, indie design, and crafty resources, is very image-heavy. I try very hard to always link back to and/or credit the source of images. And I also do my best to always e-mail or convo someone when I’ve featured their work. Everyone loves to know when they’ve been featured, so not only will you make them happy, but they’ll spread the word about your blog, too!

4. Decide what you want from the beginning, and choose a platform accordingly

I always knew I wanted to be serious about my blog, so right from the start I bought my own domain and blogged with self-hosted WordPress. It means I own my blog, I have a professional address (no ‘blogspot’ tacked on) and I can do whatever I want! Of course, when I was doing my research it was against the blogspot rules to have advertising on your blog – that’s obviously changed now.

5. Schedule ahead

I would go mad if I didn’t do this, due to the frequency of my posting – while I’m trying to run my jewellery business as well! As you’re browsing Etsy or the web, save interesting sites in draft posts – and when you get a little downtime, do up as many posts as you can ahead of time, then schedule them to post. I very rarely publish something right after I’ve written it – I usually have a regular schedule to stick to, and I try to have at least a week’s worth of posts scheduled ahead of time. That way, if something happens in my life, I know my blog is a-ok for a week at least without me

6. Promote! You can’t just wait for folks to find you – get the word out!

I actually have an ad or two out there for my blog, but the best promotion for me has always been word of mouth, and through forums. My street team here (DUST – Down-Under-Street-Team) has also been great! Oh, and twitter, and FB, of course. Don’t spam people, but share with them when you’ve blogged about something you think they’ll enjoy! I’ve also been featured by Etsy a few times, and by the Australian site I sell on – madeit.com.au – which helps a lot.

7. Engage your audience

I love to run projects and other things that get my community involved (a good current example is my Great Australian Granny Square project). Give people something to care about – a reason to return!!

8. Be positive

It will take time to build a following… but it will happen if you stick to it.

9. Be professional

In your blog’s appearance, especially – I work hard to make my blog look slick (and I’m sure it could look better!). I do all the work myself, but one day hopefully I’ll be able to afford someone to do it for me! (One day… a looong way away… )

10. Be yourself

Only you can be you – and a blog is a personal medium – don’t be bland and boring, inject your own personality into what you do – people always respond.

Hugs and good luck in your blogging adventure!

Teaming Up on Etsy – Finding The Right Etsy Team For You

I first joined etsy five days after I had my second child (February 2008) – not the smartest move.  I had so much to learn and so little time to do so!  Over the next six months or so I slowly started to gather different advice on how to make a real ‘go’ of it on etsy – one of the things I heard over and over again was – ‘Join a Team’.

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I decided in November of 2008 I made the decision that ‘Yes, I really do want to sell my crafts and art on etsy and yes, this is going to take some time.”  One of the first things I did was look for some teams that I would be a good fit with.  Those turned out to be Team Wist, Quiltsy Team and Team EtsyBaby.

Each of these teams had a different advantage for me personally.

Seashore Beaded Necklace from ThreeFatesDesign

Team Wist has been a great source to find out what’s going on local – different shows, having meet-ups and keeping up to date on various local rules and regulations.  I’ve also made some great business connections as well as friends.

Painter’s Canvas Quilt in Lantern Bloom by Laura Gunn – 69 Inches Square from SFOQuilter

The Quiltsy Team is such an amazingly supportive team.  Everyone is so encouraging and supportive.  They work magic on treasuries by clicking and commenting, love oohing and awwing everyone’s newest quilted creation, having fun swaps, cry with each other when something sad happens, and celebrate the happy moments (we all worked together and made two beautiful quilts for a members newest twins recently).  My quiltsy group has become like an extended family to me.

Black and Yellow – Bumble Bee Earflap Hat from TotzHatz

Team EtsyBaby is a very active team.  There are more guidelines than most to be a part of the team but they are worth it.  I have gotten much exposure from this team and it does a fantastic job promoting the individual members.  One of my favorite parts of this team have been the monthly challenges – they have really made me step outside the norm and inspired me to create some fantastic items.

Rustic Beauty a Treasury curated by TheJoyofColor

One of the teams I have joined more recently has been the Etsy Treasury Team.  This team has increased my exposure in the etsy community ten fold.  Their enthusiasm for creating great treasuries is infectious.  Not only do we help create exposure for each other but a fantastic support system has been created.  A fantastic format for critiques within our group has been created and I was lucky enough to be the critiqued member just a few weeks ago.  The feedback I received was priceless and I will be able to apply it to both my shops.  These critiques are not just helpful for the person who is being critiqued but those that attend as well.  When you bring the group together you can find out what everyone is reading and the different things that have been learned regarding promotions, SEO, and more.

If you are not on a team yet, I strongly encourage that you go and browse the list.  Find one or two to join that fit what you sell, your passions or where you live.  Start with that and see where it goes – add more slowly as you find the time – I am probably spreading myself a bit thin with all the teams I am on but I cherish each one in a different way so I make myself find the time.  They have all been such a boost in my etsy experience (both business-wise and socially) that it makes the time each takes well worth it.

Tips And Tricks For Hosting An Open House Party

The European Etsy Street Team has put together a very informative blog over at Handmade-Europe.com.  We are launching a series covering some of the top posts from their blog that we feel will help improve your handmade/craft business.  We hope you enjoy!  Today’s article is about hosting an open house for your handmade goods.

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article by Greet From Fleurfatale

Some time ago, my friend Veerle and I wanted to come out with our creations. We had the feeling that friends, family and people in our neighbourhood did not really know what we were busy with. Not everyone strolls around in the blogosphere or on internet so much as we do  . So we decided to organize a real life event to show our creations to the world!

We both don’t like the Tupperware kind of home sale and decided to make at a kind of exposition open House. People could come and learn to know and admire our work with the opportunity to buy our creations, but not feeling obliged to it, like you often have with home sales.

That worked! Lots of people came to visit us and also bought, others got to learn to know our creations and contacted us later, or are frequent customers know. Since then I’ve done other Open House exhibitions and all of them were successful.

In the tips below I want to share my experiences. Of course this was a jewellery exhibition, but I am sure you can use the tips also for other handmade goods. Are you ready? Here we go!

Pick a date
Plan your exhibition a few weeks before an upcoming feast or event.
For example: Mothers day, Christmas, end of the year.
There are lots of other (local) feasts where people give presents. Keep that in mind when you chose your date.
Consider to mention in your invitation that there will be stuff that can be bought as a present.

In some countries and regions, special events are organized, like open ateliers for artists , (you visit the workspace of the artist) be sure to hop on that train, because then you are included in a brochure or flyer, that is spread by the organizations of these events. (This is free publicity for your event and you reach lots of people).


Spread your open house over the weekend, starting on Friday evening .
Ok, then you spread the visitors too, but you reach more people that way. We started with a vernissage on Friday eve, where we offered a drink and snack as a welcome. The exhibition went on on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 AM.

Be sure to have a little kids corner (especially when you expect young families) with books and toys, mum can look and maybe shop while kids are playing. Perhaps one of your teenage kids will be willing to keep an eye on the kids corner.


Promote your event
Make special invitations for the event, we had them printed, but you can also make them yourself. Use pictures that tease the reader.
Printed invitations can look more professional, but handmade invitations do have the handmade touch, up to you to decide where you are good in.
Make little posters in the same style of the invitation.
Use this invitation to spread the word on internet too.

Define your target group and how to reach it…
Think hard about who will buy your stuff, try to figure out what is your target group.
Do you make little kids stuff, then you need to reach young families, young women with babies.
Do you make jewellery, try to figure out which type of women could wear it.

As we were selling jewellery we invited mostly women. (But also their partners!)
I contacted women organizations in the town where I live and asked if they could spread the word among their members, and gave them an invitation they could send by e-mail.
Send an invitation to your own relatives , friends and family and does your cooperator!
Facebook, Twitter and your own blog are great promotion tools!
Think about places your target group frequents and ask if you can spread your invitations there : shops, library, crèches (for kids stuff), hairdressers (for jewellery), beauty institutions,…
Mention on the flyer that everyone is welcome (it’s not a private exhibition) and that each can bring friends with them.
Add a description of the address where it takes place, so that people can find you easily.

Cooperate
Organising the event with 2 or 3 creative participants gives the possibility to invite more people, each can invite his relatives, friends and family.
Bring different products, but do find a link between your creations.
For example:
-Kids plush and kids clothes
-Jewellery and bags
-Jewellery and home decoration
-Jewellery and soap
-Clothes and accessories

Try to find a link between them:
maybe you both make eco friendly stuff (repurposed jewellery and eco soap) maybe you both make kids stuff ( little kids clothes, plush, baby accessories…) maybe you both create with paper ( paper jewellery and journals….)

Organizing with more participants has more advantages:
-more ideas -more practical help -sharing costs (for printing and
offereddrinks and snacks)

Work with a theme.
Do you both make eco friendly stuff, then this can be a link and a theme.
Do you both make very colorful creations (jewellery and paintings) this can be the theme!
For ex., are you both inspired by ‘ethnic tribes’, it’s obvious to use that theme.
Material you both use can be a theme, for ex. paper jewellery and journals.


Last year I organized an exhibition with a painter and a graphic designer.
A year ahead we decided to create around the theme: once upon a time, fairytales.
I made fairytale inspired jewellery, the painter picked ‘the wolf’ as inspirations for his paintings and the graphic designer created lampshades with that theme. There was a link between our creations which was quite fun.


How to present the handmade goods in your house
Make it look like an exhibition, not a separate table for each (like on a fair), we used the whole interior to show our creations.
You don’t have to investigate a lot , use what is in the house: your sidetables, shelves , the clothes hooks, etc….
Even kitchen ware: pottery, plates, and teapots is fun to expose your stuff.
Remove furniture and decorate onto make place to show your goods, so they don’t drown in the other stuff of the house. Put furniture you don’t need in another room. Do a try out ahead and make a plan where and how you will put your stuff.
Plan a whole day (the day before the exposition) to put the stuff in the right place, you will need that time!
Veerle and I mixed our creations and matched by color, we did not separate our goods.

Some ideas to stall out your stuff:

Cookoorikoo, Birribe, kraplap, wickedmind

Find some great ideas about how to store your jewelry here and here.
This and this is also an interesting read.

If you have a darker home, with smaller windows, a winter house as we say, then organise the exposition in winter.

Use lampshades to create a cosy atmosphere. Use vintage accessories to show your stuff on, create a Bric a Brac look. Offer hot soup and chocolate as a welcome!
I once visited an open door in Ghent, where the lady of the house sold handmade crocheted shawls and hats. She presented them in old vintage suitcases, very original!

Do you have an open house with much of light and big windows, then plan the exposition in spring or summer!
If you live in a country where you can count on bright weather, consider to do your exposition outside.


Some goods, like ceramics, can be exposed very attractive in gardens. But also felted goods, handmade soap will fit perfect in a natural atmosphere. Visitors can wander in the garden while discovering your creations, they do take there time to look at the creations and enjoying the weather at the same time…
In the garden you find lots of ways to present your goods: hang your kids clothes on laundry lines, Present your jewellery on gathered stones or branches you have put on a table.

Organize a special guest during your open house weekend and how to welcome your guests
Veerle and I invited a lady who did color scans.
A color scan is a study of your skin type, so that you can find out which colors fit the most your type of skin. We asked a little price for this service and people had to contact us to make an appointment. After people had figured out their colortype, they could stroll around our house and look at the jewellery that fitted for them (and also buy them)


-Give a demonstration or invite someone who can demonstrate:
For example soap making, book binding, fimo creations, needle or wetfelting,….
Don’t do this yourself, as you have to welcome your visitors, have a chat with them, you have to be there to advice them when they are trying your stuff, you have to explain, to talk about what inspires you, etc….
– Let people have a look into your atelier with unfinished projects.
– Offer a drink (coffe tea or wine) and some snacks (for example home made cookies) as a kind of welcoming , people will also stay around for a longer while then.
– Find some lounge music to play in the background, I am sure there is music out there that fits your stuff

and at last:
be sure you have a place or table for packing your stuff and arranging the payments. Give the packaging task to someone else so that you can concentrate on the visitors.

That ’s it for now!
I so hope that these tips will be a great help for organizing an open House Party at yours.
It’s a cool way to show your handmade work to friends and neighborhood.
but well, a lot of planning is needed, as you see,… and afterwards you will be dead tired, I assure you! But it’s worth it, you’ll see!! Good luck!