Watch Out For Poison Apples – Dealing With Negative Comments And Feedback

Vintage Pin Apple

Vintage Pin Apple | $10

Today  I wanted to talk to everyone about poison apples. No not actual apples, it’s pretty obvious we should avoid those, at all costs. Just ask Snow White!

The first film I ever saw was “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.” There where parts that I liked & parts that where kind of scary, parts that sweet & parts that where pretty dark. There was the scene where Snow White was offered a seemingly innocent looking apple by the queen, disguised as an old crone, in an effort to rid the land of Snow White & again be the fairest in the land. The apple looked sweet & unassuming, tasty & Snow White took a bite.

Sometimes life also resembles such fairy tales, where everything looks great from outside, and inside it’s a threat to your life. Even the trading platforms of cryptocurrencies too, not all are genuine and as promising as they look.

You can find the best one here, the Ethereum code, which has been the best since the cryptocurrency rolled out.

We all know what happened from there & how Snow White was finally rescued, to live happily ever after.

Now I’m not saying we’re all Snow White & that there are evil (or misguided) old women everywhere we turn, out to get us or in a way, maybe I am. I’m also not saying that we have to ‘eat the apple’ & wait for rescue. What I am saying is that are there are those who don’t get what we do, who offer comments & advice, in the guise of being helpful or thinking that they are being helpful, that are not constructive, not helpful & we need to watch out  & see these comments for what they are. Whether on purpose or not, by design or by accident their comments tear down rather than build. They make us feel inadequate, untalented, unworthy. Maybe they want to be the “fairest in the land” or maybe they truly feel as if they’re being honest & helpful. Whatever the motivation, these are the bearers of poison apples.

Red Apple (4x4 Canvas)

Red Apple (4×4 Canvas) |$24

There are different ways we can react to these types of comments.  We can take every word in, make it a part of us, make it the truth, become depressed & unhappy, inadequate,safe & secure in the idea that we’ll never amount to anything, take in the ‘poison.’ I’ve been there. A better way to look at this is to listen, objectively &  dispassionately. Look for the constructive kernel of advice, if there is one, but don’t eat the apple & take in the poison. For example, I once had a comment that went something like ‘There is nothing in your shop that I would ever want or need.’ Pretty blunt & not constructive. At first I was hurt & took it all in. I had asked for advice on my shop & quickly withdrew my request. I soon realized that I could take away something constructive from this & discard the rest. It didn’t have to be personal. She was obviously the wrong market & that didn’t have to mean that there was no market. I already knew that there where people out there who did get what I did, liked it even. I needed to find more who got me & fewer that didn’t, find a more targeted market. I also used the opportunity to update listings, tags & photos, also part of  finding a target audience. I felt happier & my reaction was more constructive. I don’t think I’ll ever make a blanket request for that kind of advice again, but it did turn into a positive.

So, this is what I’m really saying: Go ahead & ask for advice, if you want to. Take unsolicited advice even, there’s a lot of good advice out there, sweet, tasty apples, if you will. Just make sure that you listen objectively & dispassionately, you never know when you’ll be offered a poison apple. Don’t let that ‘poison’ get a hold of you & take effect. You’ll be happier & more productive for it! SAM

Poison Apple Locket RIng

Poison Apple Locket RIng | $14

  • Nicole

    Amen! Just because someone has something to say doesnt mean it should be listened to! I got some really harsh criticism of one of my paintings one day and I was really upset until I found out it came from a very articulate nine year old! Ha!

  • http://artistbrendasalzano.blogspot.com/ brenda salzano

    I have been in the business of doing my own art for over 40 years. I still remember the comment made at my first show that almost killed me! I was at a indoor show, with my paintings. A older woman came by and bluntly told me, my art looked like crap and I should pack up and go home, I had no talent. I did nothing to even spark her “critique” but I calmed down and decided to walk around and see others things. I came across the work of that fine woman and found out her work was totally not my taste either! LOL. She was a very abstract work, and I was into simple realism / country style! No wonder she did not like my things. I learned right now, to do as you said very well.
    Take the things we can learn and want to change and throw out the rest. We can always improve but do not put on a shoe if it does not fit! meaning be careful what you take to heart.

    😉

  • http://thebrasshussy.etsy.com BrassyDeb

    There are poison apples everywhere. Great blog writeup. Thanks for including my locket ring!

  • http://www.afinetoothcomb.com Julie

    You’re exactly right that negative comments (even true ones) can suck the life right out of a person! If something negative needs to be said, the “sandwich approach” (something negative between two positives) is always a good idea.

    P.S. My son recently had a bad dream about that old lady and her apple after watching Snow White. That witch scares me too! 🙂

3 Free Tools To Find Out Who Is Blogging And Talking About You

Finding out who is talking about you around the Internet is important for a number of reasons.  First you can know how well your marketing plan is working.  Second You can see if your customers and readers are liking what they buy and read.

So these reviews and recommendation what you have posted about your trading ideas and experiences would actually come back to you with better suggestions and this would help you in having a better forecast at the market aiding your future decisions. Doubts like `is the Qprofit System a scam`, etc would all be eliminated easily if you seek the help of the internet.

Lastly, you can leave comments and thank others for the feature or good comment.  Now not everything is all sugar and spice and sometimes you have to defend yourself or set something straight.

With the vast network of blogs and social media it is tough to know where this  is all going down, so here are three free tools that can help you find out who is talking about you and your business across the Internet.

Google Alerts:

The first tool I like to use is Google Alerts.  I love this tool cause you can set is and forget it.  Once you have it set up it will email you with results everyday.

Here is a little rundown of what it looks like and how it works. (click the pic for a larger view)

google alerts

To set up a Google Alert you must have a Google account first.  After you set that up head over to the Google Alerts page.  Type in the word or phrase you would like to be alerted about. You can pick what category/type, I like to be alerted about every type. Pick how often and how many results.  Make sure your email address is correct and you are done.  You can preview the current alert for the phrase right on this page.

Google Blogs:

The Google Blog Search is a great way to find out who is blogging about you and your business.  This is a straight forward tool, just enter your search terms and there your go.  There are a some options like searching by time and subscribing to the rss feed of the search.  For more advanced options you can click the Advanced Search button near the top right.

google blogs

Here is a look at the advanced options.

google blog search

Social Mention:

Social Mention is a great tool that will pick up on blogs and social media.

Below you can see a screen shot of what a search for Handmade Spark looks like.  I typed in the search “handmade spark”.  I use the quotations to make the search very specific.  I also picked the “All” category to cover everything.  You can see that Social Mention has a ton of great info on the side bar along with the search results.

social mention

Here is a screen shot a bit further down the page with more search results and useful info in the side bar.

social mention

Social Mention also provides an automatic email update like Google Alerts, you can find it HERE.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

I am a girl/woman/lady that wears many hats – a mom, a wife, a jewelry designer, a quilter/sewer/creator, Project QUILTING organizer, retired engineer, and a part owner/operator of an apple orchard. For this ‘How To’ I’m going to be wearing the hat of the part owner/operator of an apple orchard.

This season we have a challenge ahead of us – we are moving the store from our in-laws farm to my husband and I’s farm. We are only about 10 minutes from the old location but it’s still going to be different for our regular customers. One of our main goals with the move is to make the customers feel like they didn’t loose anything in the move – we’re hoping that they’ll be excited about all the new things they’re gaining!

Retaining our most loyal and regular customers is easy when we cater to their needs more personally and effectively.The well-known source of stable profits can be having regular customers visit our business often and purchase a good deal from us. For making this entire journey very special we are undertaking a new mission of making a tire playground at our orchard.

One of the new things we’ve added to our ‘new’ location is a tractor tire playground. I’m going to walk you through a quick ‘how-to’ on putting one of these in your property today along with some of the pictures from our process.

First you have to find a source for tractor tires. The great thing about this playground is that you should be able to find a tire repair shop that will just give you the tires. Normally they have to PAY to get rid of the tires so you’ll actually be doing them a favor and saving them money by taking them off your hands. My husband made three runs with the trailer to collect just over 20 tires for our playground.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

Next you need to decide how you want to get the tires in the ground. Some may find it easier to hire or borrow an excavator with a skinny bucket to dig in each tire but I needed to get some “summer arms”. Digging in the tractor tires was the perfect solution! I also did wear sandals to do the job but I wouldn’t recommend this – a person should really wear some boots.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

Remember to take your time. I had twenty tires to get in the ground which seemed a bit overwhelming at first. I then created small goals of at least one a night or else five done before we leave for vacation. These goals made the task not seem as daunting AND spread out the fun!

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

Fire tires are in…

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

One trick I learned while digging the tires was to do one go through and get all the chunks of sod out of the ground first and put that in one pile. Then I put the dirt below that in a second pile. This was helpful for filling the hole back in once the tire was placed in it. I would put the sod chunks in first and then fill it up with the loose dirt.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

I’m standing in one of the tractor tire holes.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

Jared (my husband) helped me role the tires into place – man are they heavy!

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

I managed to dig all the tires in in just under a month! Someone was wood chipping trees in the right away and they dropped the excess mulch off at our orchard – worked perfectly to fill in around the tires.

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

My in-laws found this slide at the dump and Jared bolted it into one of the tires. Luckily, that tire still has some decent tread so the kids will be able to climb up it just like a ladder!

How To Build a Tractor Tire Playground

Other miscellaneous tips if you decide to dig your own tire playground.

drink lots of water
wear boots – not sandals!
digging after rain is much easier than when the ground is dry (especially if you are digging in clay)
take off your rings

Finding your Spark : Product Photography – The “BIG NO” For Your Product Photos

Product Photography - Getting The Best Out of Your Photography
*Photography by Nay of Moonangelnay on Etsy*

Common Problems: I find myself talking about this particular subject in product photography more than any other when it comes to discussing a seller’s photos, particularly ones that I that I may review like on Link Referral as I have to offer constructive criticism in that area.  With handmade venues like Etsy you are heavily limited with what you can do to the face of your shop, and for that reason certain things are going to stand out.  Your banner being the primary thing, and the item photos being the next thing. You MUST make it look good where you can.  I won’t even say that some of those on Artfire, Zazzle, Zibbet, Folksy etc are immune to this problem.  Fact is most people that join these venues are crafters/artists just looking to share their work with the world and most are NOT photographers.  Not that you need to be to take a good photo.  But it amazes me that some people take clumsy photos, and settle with them without even considering a retake.  I can only assume that they think that a “photo is a photo” and as long as the general item is vaguely discernible then it’s good enough.  Wrong!

Does your product come in different colors or style? Selling children T shirts for example need to cover all the color combinations, prints and designs and the emotions which really could make a difference in their daily life, the focus should be on the product, the efficiency and the comfort all conveyed though the visual medium, Crypto Code trading robot does effective trading with a high winning ratio of more than 80% on the trade signals executed.

Your photo  does not only showcase your item in its finished glory, but it’s a reflection of you as a seller.  Those that take the time and care into their photos whether they make hundreds of sales, or hardly any at all look both professional and positive about what they do.  Dark, over exposed, fuzzy shots look like someone is in a rush, doesn’t have a professional approach and definitely doesn’t have the time to sort it out.  And if you look like you can’t take the time to do your photos, your customers will assume you don’t have time for a lot of things, INCLUDING your business.  That’s not the impression you want to be giving.  And I’m trying not to be harsh as I know most people hold down real jobs, have no idea when it comes to photography, or have really busy lives but I ask these people the same thing every time.

If you looked at any product with photos of the above description, would you be prepared to purchase them, or at least likely to consider purchasing from the seller if you could?  Honestly, I haven’t had someone turn around and say yes to that.  Which says it all.  First impressions are everything, and as a species we are stupidly cosmetic in our outlook to our ideals which is why the commercial fat cats use all the tricks in the book with their products to make us want them!  We don’t have to be dishonest, but we can at least give our work a chance to shine like the best of those do, and all it takes is good NATURAL lighting or a lightbox, a decent camera, a bit of composition know-how alongside great descriptions full of relevant keywords, fair pricing and good advertising.

Here is what I suggest you look out for in your photos.


Top 5 :
 1- Do NOT accept your photos as being presentable if there is glare present on your items (NO FLASH!  Please avoid your flash!), especially heavily over exposed shots.  Glare overpowers your images so all the natural details disappear only to be enshrouded by a beaming great white light.  If someone can’t see your product they won’t be willing to buy it.  Don’t take pictures at night and TRY to find a good source of daylight to avoid the flash where you can, or learn how to bounce light if it’s impossible.

2 – Do NOT submit blurry shots into your inventory.  Particularly if they are close ups.  For close up shots you NEED a macro function or lens on your camera.  Most cameras have that function now.  DSLR’s have the biggest advantage and have the least excuse for getting it wrong.  But that attractive focused image/blurry background you seek… that can only be achieved with a macro function or the technical know-how of managing your aperture and focus.  Not just placing your camera up close and taking the shot.  This may require trial and error if it’s totally new to you and if that IS the case, then I’d recommend a bit of research into both your camera and shooting macro.

3 – Do NOT submit dark or heavily shadowed photos into your inventory.  Just like with over exposure, darkness or heavy shadowing when not intended can hide the true details of your item including the finer details, color and all that love and effort you put into making it look good in the first place!  Always opt for natural light, using white walls/reflectors to bounce the light back onto your items, or if you are out on a bright sunny day, use mesh or a diffuser to take the harshness from the sun away so the shadowing isn’t so prolific.  Better yet, make a home-made lightbox for next to nothing and enjoy being able to take some excellent professional looking photos!

4 – Do NOT take photos with unintentional clutter from your home scattered in the background.  Give your photos purpose and give them their own makeshift “intentional” space.  This is one that I am always surprised to find as it’s one people generally don’t think about when they do it, but it’s not a good look to have your item’s identity tainted by the background.  It’s better to give them a setting, a purposeful space where the item is the only focus as THAT is what you want your customers to see.

And 5 – Do NOT try and disguise the photos that are bad for the above reasons with PHOTOSHOP!  I see people actually try to emulate lightboxes by cutting images away from the background and pasting them onto a white background, i’ve seen photos that have had their brightness played around with, with extremely dark photos.  I’ve sharpness used with blurry photos… my goodness the things.  The problem with photoshopping photos with the above attributes is that they are not high quality enough to work on to begin with TECHNICALLY and not just by appearance.  Dark photos for example have a lot of noise, so brightening them has a more detrimental effect on their appearance, the finer details being further destroyed by the enhanced red and green that dominates images that have loads of noise.  Blurry photos have no sharpness to begin with, so trying to sharpen them is only going to enhance the fact that they’re blurry, and not create sharp fine details.  You get the picture.  Don’t photoshop to disguise!

With a bit of research and application your photos can look amazing and your sales will come from your amazing products!  They have to look as good on screen as they do in real life you your effort is vital.  Keep positive and you’ll do great!

Dealing With Creative Block – And Why Self Promotion counts!

Creative Block Journal by Mypipsqueak

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been in a terrible creative funk.  I haven’t had the motivation to create, and even worse I haven’t even been motivated to promote my work properly.

I haven’t done all those little things I used to do –

  • listing or relisting a new item each day
  • writing regular blog posts
  • posting regularly on my facebook page
  • visiting other blogs and commenting
  • writing for handmade spark (sorry!)
  • participating in online forums
  • participating in Illustration Friday and Monday Artday

And let me tell you, I’ve noticed the difference!  When I stopped doing all these little everyday jobs, my traffic and sales dropped off dramatically – and I only have myself to blame.

This means a trader can bet whether the Bitcoin price will rise or fall above or below a specific price on some specific day.

Bitcoin options trading however are expensive. This is because of the price of Bitcoin at the moment. Also Bitcoin is a very volatile asset which leads to the high price of the Bitcoin options. As there is a rise in implied volatility the price of the option will also increase. At times the implied volatility in Bitcoin is close to 200% and this makes it very expensive.

The popularity of trading in cryptocurrencies is growing and this will widen the opportunity to trade in Bitcoin. Bitcoin options trading are popular in many countries. But before you take the plunge understand the following link that Bitcoin options trading are expensive and very volatile.

There’s no better way to prove that these little things really do count!

I’m not really sure what my excuse has been, I think it’s more a combination of factors – stress at my day job, my studio (ok, garage!) being freezing cold (it’s winter here Down Under), and just (I’ll admit it) pure laziness.

I’m beginning to pull myself out of this little funk, and I think what has helped is connecting with my customers.  I did a market today and got to chat to people who loved my work.  I met one of my facebook fans in person, and was told by 2 different customers that they were disappointed I wasn’t at the last market.  People chatted to me about the designs they liked, and things they’d like to see.  I think the creative juices might just be flowing again!

So tell me, reader – have you ever had creative block?  How did you deal with it?

Writers Spark: Interview With Lisa LeBlanc

Vintage Typewriter card set by The Craft Pantry

I have to say I am really loving the interviews I’m doing for the Writers Spark series!  It’s fascinating to hear the stories behind the blog writers on Handmade Spark – such a diversity of backgrounds and such a wealth of wit and wisdom.

When a person combines his wisdom and creativity, a revolutionary idea can develop from the sparks. This is what happened when an experienced trader thought that there should be a trading program that even the newbies could use without worrying about the complex analysis and security hacks. The following post, would tell you about this program that is called Snapcash Binary.

I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am!

In this post, we meet the wonderful Lisa LeBlanc – an artisan and independent boutique owner (on Etsywith The Cottage Nest, and on-line and in the ‘real’ world with Nest Interiors) who has a love of handmade and a penchant for chihuahuas!  On Handmade Spark, Lisa has been writing the thought-provoking and inspiring ‘business realities’ series (you can find her blog posts here).  In this interview, she shares some interesting thoughts on journalling and blog writing, among other things.

Enjoy!

1. Tough ask but…give us a bio in one sentence!

I am a retailer and craft artisan with a background in interior design.

2. What do you create?  What drew you to this particular craft?

Having my own shop, a lot of my creations were born out of necessity or from my pure dissatisfaction with what I was receiving from my mainstream wholesalers.

3. What inspires you?  How do you keep your creative spark firing?

Music is a big pull for me; a certain melody can open up a whole new world to me as I tend to visualize what is playing.  The trick is to be as quick as your mind!  I try to keep a journal or sketchpad close by to capture it all.

New Orleans book pages wreath by The Cottage Nest

4. Tell us about your day job…

I own and operate my own boutique where I sell my items and those of several local artisans.  It’s great fun and every day is different; I love working with so many talented people and our community is really embracing us and the handmade movement!

5. What kinds of things do you enjoy writing about?  Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?

I journal like crazy…or maybe I journal so I do not go crazy!  I was gifted a great book – ‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg.  In a nutshell, you are encouraged to write it ALL down, no matter how bad it is.  I carry my journal with me all the time and grab it when I need to vent, have a great idea, or if I want to reflect on an experience or completion of a project.  Blog posts tend to fall our of this.  Though it is a different audience compared to writing just for myself, I do want to share enough that the reader has a sense that there is a real person behind the business.

French charm bracelet by The Cottage Nest

6. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from running a handmade business?  What advice can you pass on to other Etsy sellers?

Make sure it looks handmade and not homemade.  People in my shop really pay attention to labels…and although they like the idea of supporting a local artist, it has to look professional.  For Etsy sellers, you need to be on Facebook and on Twitter.  Period.

7. And for blog writers?  Any advice on writing posts and engaging readers?

For my shop blog, people love going ‘behind the scenes’ – I try to give them the inside scoop…pictures of opening boxes when they arrive, what inspires me, what my typical day is like, etc.

8. How do you market your business?

Facebook has been the best!  I post something and I will either have a walk-in or online order for that item within a day.  I use Twitter too, but I haven’t see it as being as beneficial as Facebook.  I also collect email addresses at my shop and online; I send one or two emails a month to my existing customer base and it works!

Fleur de Lis tea towel by The Cottage Nest

9. Time to pay it forward!  Tell us 3 of your favourite Etsy shops that we should support…

Mary Lindsey Designs – this is one of my artisans…she has so many well priced jewelry offerings and her craftsmanship is impeccable!

Rainbow Dreams pendant by Mary Lindsey Designs

Beau & Stella – many moons ago I worked with this artist in my other life as an interior designer.  I love her pieces – sensible elegance!

Branch necklace by Beau & Stella

June Bug Art – a friend and local girl with a ton of talent!

Louisiana Pelican by June Bug Art

Thanks Lisa!

Handmade Spark Art Finds – Media Mix Up

When you browse the Art section here on Handmade Spark, you will find artists from around the world using many different types of media, including, watercolor, paint, pencil, and photography.  Here are just a few of the great Art finds from Handmade Spark!

Art forms in whatever way have an unique approach of the creator, what may seem to be a valley of red beautiful flowers painting may be depicted as the call from the people from the trouble war stricken valley of innocent people, art is self emotive, there are different views, opinion on every shade of the color that is stroked in the canvass by an artist.

When it comes to keeping up with the trend many artist start experimenting new styles, combination of other media like photography, water colors, acrylics it is an interesting fad or it is a mindless piece of art is left for the imagination of the viewer. Mixed media art has become the power to captivate the intuitive and more daring adventure interpreting new styles and techniques. when an abstract art form has the power to speak to the viewer it is fascinating, as there is no start, goal or focus on the subject, it is a form of free flowing art, instinctive of what comes at that very point of time, with new materials or simple water color.

The step by step approach of starting an abstract form is actually a tough job, and using the right amount of mix media is challenging unlike trading with the new forex trading online software which is just a three simple sign up steps and one can trade effectively getting an good profits without much knowledge about the trading world, Qprofit System can be used from any browser and the automated robot trading gives the user to trade while there are attending other important tasks, while the trading is done around the clock across many exchanges, all the winning payouts are credited into the trading account of the users, with a small amount of commission paid to the online trader for picking the robotic form of executing trades.

Click on the pictures to learn more about the artists, what media they used, and where they are from!

Lucky the Bicycle fine art original 8 x 10 by Studio M.M.E. | $40

Lucky the Bicycle fine art original 8 x 10 by Studio M.M.E. | $40

abstract modern art, urban industrial splash artwork - by Barbosa Art Modern Painting Gallery

abstract modern art, urban industrial splash artwork – by Barbosa Art Modern Painting Gallery | $122

one fell down by W Y A N N E

one fell down by W Y A N N E | $28

watercolor stationery by Cynthia Callan

watercolor stationery by Cynthia Callan | $4

Photo Fine Art Print At the Fair by Gallery32

Photo Fine Art Print At the Fair by Gallery32 | $30

Giclee Prints Red Poppy Flower Field by HJM Art Gallery

Giclee Prints Red Poppy Flower Field by HJM Art Gallery | $17

Penny Farthing Dream original drawing OOAK by ArtSnark

Penny Farthing Dream original drawing OOAK by ArtSnark | $25

Dandelion original acrylic painting by Natalie Callwood Art

Dandelion original acrylic painting by Natalie Callwood Art | $200

Featured Member: Sandie Russo is a Shop Critique Maven!

Featured Member: Sandie Russo is a Shop Critique Maven! Rhinestone Earrings Vintage 1950s Estate Swarovski Forest Green Antique Brass

Rhinestone Earrings by Zaftig Delights

Some women are practically superheros, and today’s featured member is definitely a member of that group. In between running two very successful Etsy shops (Knitzy Blonde and Zaftig Delights ) and “riding herd” on her teenage grandson, Sandie Russo also manages the SASsy Critique Team, an impressive Etsy team if we’ve ever seen one.

Ethereum Code is a crypto trading robot owned and developed by Mr. Marc Weston. This automatic trader mentioned in this full article is actually not a robot; instead, it is a designed as highly sophisticated software with precision technological tools linked to bitcoin markets. They have instant access to trading assets all around the globe. When this mechanism senses a particular pattern in motion, they initiate trade events to gain profits.This is a state-of-the-art online investment solution that has been created after years of efforts. It has been developed specifically for the needs of people interested in participating in the cryptocurrency markets, the mining and trading of those.

 

The crypto trading market is a volatile one and it is just as popular among traders. Novices sign up for such systems every day because they provide ease of access and eliminate the need for having deep knowledge of the industry.

full article

SASsy Critique Team is a dream for new Etsy sellers that need help figuring out the next steps. Here’s how it works: Etsy members request a mentor to look over their site and assist them to figure out concrete problems they can work on that will help them drive sales or improve their items. Her group of mentors and commentators work tirelessly to help Etsy members by providing critiques that help them push their shop to the next level. And despite this crazy schedule, Sandie generously sat down to talk with us last week about the top four things that Etsy shop owners can do to get found and drive sales.

Sandie Russo’s Top 4 Etsy Shop Checklist

1. Photos

The images in an Etsy shop are the first opportunity you have to make a good impression, and it’s one of the things that is the hardest to get right, according to Sandie, who shot fashion photos professionally with her husband. “Even I struggled to get my item photography exactly right in the first year or so, and I’m a pro!” Sandie exclaimed.

Good photos are well lit, in focus, uncluttered by distractions in the background, find props or settings that appropriately display the items…and that’s just scratching the surface of all the ways you can tweak your photos to drive more sales.

For more info on creating great product photos, check out this recent post on product photography.

2. SEO

Focusing on SEO in your product descriptions and titles is the next in Sandie’s top 4 list. She’s critiqued hundreds of shops since taking over leadership of  SASsy Critique Team, so she knows better than most the value of fine-tuning the language describing your items to help those dream customers find your shop.

Sandie particularly recommends focusing on the title of the photographs, making sure that you are describing the item, not just providing the title you’ve given the piece. “People often name their photos – particularly photos of artwork – something artsy.” For instance, if you titled a creative oil painting of your dog ‘Ellis the Blues Hound’ it wouldn’t help people who are looking for oil paintings of a blue dog find your work.

For more help polishing your SEO, check out this post on prefecting titles and descriptions.

3. Promotion

Getting the word out can be hard, particularly if tooting your own horn is something you’re a bit uncomfortable with. But according to Sandie, getting online and finding your audience is key to driving sales. She recommends several social sites for Etsy owners, including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Squidoo. She also recommends Kaboodle, a social site that is similar to StumbleUpon, but for shopping! What a perfect Estsy seller match!

Not sure how these different tools work? Check out our recent post on social media tools for Etsy sellers.

4. Inventory

Every interview should have a surprise, right? This one is no exception. Sandie gave us the inside scoop with her last tip, really opening our eyes to how much hard work it is to be a successful Etsy seller. “The truth is, four or five items in your Etsy shop isn’t enough to be an Etsy superstar,” explains Sandie. “You really need a certain amount of inventory to cross the threshold into a professional Etsy shop.”

So how much is enough?

“Once my Etsy shop crossed that one hundred item threshold things really took off.” Sandie’s dedication and patience in building up her work is something that she recommends that every Etsy seller strive for in order to be successful.

No wonder this Etsy seller stuff is such hard work!

Sandie RussoSandie also had two words of advice, literally! “I always tell new shop owners, especially the ones that have been open for less than 6 months, you have to remember the two P’s: persistence and patience.”

You can find SASsy Critique Team on Etsy and on their own piece of the Internet at EtsyMentors.Blogspot.com.  And don’t forget to check out Sandie’s shops – she’s an expert if there ever was one!

KnitzyBlonde.etsy.com

ZaftigDelights.etsy.com

Believing Mirrors: Do You Have Them?

By: Robin Norgren Pic #1 Photo credit: http://www.wellofcreations.com

“One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have wholehearted enthusiasm.” –Hannah Senesh

Trading cannot be forced in every single human being, it has to happen come naturally to them, they need to develop this interest in this field that would help them become successful here. For this, it is very important that they get the confidence from one or the other sources that would make them believe that their investments are going to be safe and that they would get it back in some or the other way. And this source should also try and explain the reason or the justification for any losses made. Now it is only this elaborate and in-depth explanation that would make even the uninterested develop an interest in this field.

Crypto-CFD Trader is believed to be a good source which has been doing this for a very long time and has also experienced success in many cases. It has successfully infringed in many traders the most expected confidence and has made them successful in this field.

 

Julia Cameron coined the term “believing mirrors” in her book Find Water: the Art of Perseverance. Believing mirrors are those people who are “generous enough to reflect us back as gifted and interesting.” The believing mirror in a creative’s life is vital to raising the probability of a long and inspiring – not to mention lucrative- career. I can attest to times when I need to be alone as an absolute necessity to processing thoughts, generating new ideas and executing the ideas into reality.

However, the artist must also prepare for those times when the gremlins arrive, attempting to undermine and diminish those said sparks of new ideas. The believing mirrors understand this process in an artist’s life, the glow of those high days of productivity and the dread days when you are questioning the value of how you are using your time and energy. When the well seems completely tapped of resources, those are the times when these gems are vital in your life.

A believing mirror puts the right encouragement in your conversation. He/she helps you feel “heard” and challenges wrong thinking. The person lifts the veil of the dread and holds your hand as you step forward by faith through the down days until you can feel your momentum drifting back to you.

Have you some believing mirrors in your life? If so, where have you found the best resources for finding them?

Writers Spark: Interview With Amber Jordan (aka Mommy The Marketer)

Typewriter necklace by Cute Ability

Typewriter Necklace by Cute Ability

In this installment of the ongoing Writers Spark series I interview Amber Jordan, aka Mommy The Marketer. A veritable font of marketing knowledge, Amber is a very busy lady! She maintains an Etsy shop (Tate Skye Designs), writes for Handmade Spark and her Etsy Momentum blog, and helps other small businesses through her consulting work. Amber clearly has a passion for small business and loves to pass on the tricks of the trade she has learnt along the way.

Very few people are so generous that way. Most of the successful people do not like to share the secrets of their success. I have, though seen a program that helps people trade in the financial market, as the creator was a content and happy man and wanted to share his success and expertise with others. This was the creator of FinTech LTD who generated a special program and is allowing the people to use it completely free. Read more at this website.

Sprinkled with fantastic advice and laugh-out-loud moments, I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

1. Tough ask but…give us a bio in one sentence!

Just an enterprising Mommy shouting out small business advice and the crazy musings of a parent, business owner and artist.

2. What do you create? What drew you to this particular art/craft?

I guess you could say I stir up online press releases for Etsy shops and other handmade businesses. Mommy The Marketer keeps me very busy with consulting work and writing business articles for both Handmade Spark and my blog Etsy Momentum. In my downtime my alter ego, Tate Sky Designs, is allowed to focus on my passion for photography, architectural illustration and watercolor.

The Mommy The Marketer website and my personal Etsy shop, Tate Sky Designs, are my outlets for all of my loves. I helped the ‘big guys’ get rich for far too long in my corporate job as a Designer/Project Coordinator and in-house Marketing Department Gal (they had to hire three new people to replace me when I left). It is refreshing getting back in the trenches to help out small handmade business owners. I love getting to know shop owners and seeing them meet their small business goals and find online success.

When I traded my dry cleaned suit for yoga pants and a ten year old t-shirt after the birth of our second child, I felt a huge hole in my life. I started Tate Skye Designs as a little back-burner Etsy shop to allow me to focus some of my creative energy. I quickly realised how hard it is to ‘get noticed’ in a sea of handmade businesses out there. Several years ago I successfully helped launch another small online business and got the burning desire to get the ball rolling again. After some no so subtle hints from my husband, Mommy The Marketer was born!

Cherry Kiss by Tate Sky Designs

3. What inspires you? How do you keep your creative spark firing?

I love photography and painting to help decompress but my real motivation comes from helping out others. I am absolutely thrilled to get positive feedback from my clients about their small (or large) victories after I’ve helped them.. Sometimes I feel like an ‘insider’ leaking secrets. Or the tireless cheerleader for all the underdogs out there. We can do it!

4. Tell us about your day job…

My ‘day job’ is wrangling my two very busy kids (5 years and 15 months). After I finish pulling the toddler from the curtains and washing peanut butter out of the 5 year old’s hair, I usually have a spare minute or two to work on my articles and website. Mommy The Marketer really gets fired up when my husband comes home from work and the kids are in bed. Saturday morning is also my ‘press time’ to really crank up on my upcoming features. Of course, as I write this my children are dumping an entire box of cheerios on the floor…but they are quiet so I’m okay with it.

5. What kinds of things do you enjoy writing about? Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?

I enjoy writing about the roadblocks and challenges that small handmade businesses face on my business blog, Etsy Momentum. Tutorials and honest advice on what to do and not to do as far as marketing your company and the delicate ‘art’ of selling. I guess you could call it my killer instinct side! The Because I Said So blog contains light hearted musings that ramble about all my passions: art, handmade, parenthood and my attempts (keyword there) and ever ending quest to balance it all. Stop by for a good laugh on your coffee break…or if your life is like mine the two minutes you have that should have been used to pull your toddler off the curtains.

White Goddess Tulip by Tate Skye Designs

6. What’s the biggest lesson you’re learnt from running a handmade business? What advice can you pass on to other Etsy sellers?

Know who you are. Really refine your image or ‘brand’ before you jump into an all out “hey everyone, come and buy” campaign. First impressions are everything. You have less than 10 seconds to capture the attention of a potential buyer. Be memorable, be honest and be yourself. It kills me to open up an Etsy shop or Artfire store and see a blurry logo and poor product shots. I know you are an incredibly nice person but you are selling you and your business short by not taking the time and energy to do things right.

7. And for blog writers? And advice on writing posts and engaging readers?

Ask the right questions and fill a need. My most successful posts have come from direct questions by clients. For example: ‘Why am I loosing fans on Facebook?’. My articles explaining insights into the world of social media have had a great response.

8. How do you market your business?

Well, as ‘Mommy The Marketer’ it is part of my job description to be everywhere. The Facebook fan page has been an incredible resource as well as Twitter. My Etsy Momentum blog has a loyal following. However, most traffic comes directly to my website (MommyTheMarketer.com). Great referring sites like Handmade Spark have helped as well as several other top business and craft blogs in the industry.

I rely heavily on word of mouth and wonderful referrals from clients and fans. People are much more likely to buy a product or service if a friend or colleague has referred them. Never underestimate the power of ‘your best customers’. Treat them with respect and give them your best and they will pay it forward with kind words about you and your business. I am thrilled to the ‘go-to gal’ for several of my clients. Handmade business owners have such a wonderful passion for their work nd it is an incredible feeling to be with them on their journey.

Goodbye Winter by Tate Skye Designs

9. Time to pay it forward! Tell us 3 of your favourite Etsy shops that we should support…

Just three?! I love so many! I would say a couple of standout shops (and their owners) would be:

Swanky Place – her crazy blog about ‘Betty and her dog Muffin’ and their travels in their 5th wheel around the US keep me laughing and coming back for more. Hey Betty, tell Muffin I said hi! (Muffin likes to sneak out and update blog posts when Betty is busy).

Fanny Women’s Perfect Apron by Swanky Place

Chrystalyn Jewelry – Chrystal keeps me ‘on my game’ and is a seasoned Etsy seller. She works social media to the max and has created her own network with her Redding Handmade Team. She is an example of one who is doing things right. I love seeing her next move, odds are it will be a winner.

Landscape necklace by Chrystalyn Jewlery

Edith and Elizabeth – I consider Jane my Facebook ‘mole’ (in a good way!) – she gives me a heads up when there are hot topics on discussion boards and always asks for my input. Her decals are crazy cool so that helps as well.

Chandelier vinyl decal by Edith and Elizabeth

Thanks Amber