30 Jan 2008

Business Cards

A great form of promotion for your business is business cards. When someone asks me "Where did you get that gorgeous hat?" I tell them that I make and sell them and rather than scribbling my web address to my shop on a bit of paper I hand them a business card. When I'm out hula hooping in the park and someone runs over excitedly and asks if they can have a go, I say "sure and would you like one of my business cards, so you can get a hoop like this one for yourself?"

Good looking business cards can make you look professional and serious about your craft, which can inspire people to come and buy from you. They can be any shape and size you like, but if you want people to keep hold of them it's best to make them small enough to fit inside their wallet/credit card holder.

What information should I put on my cards?

The bare minimum would be the logo of your business, your name, a business email address and a tag line that lets people know what it is you sell. If you have a website that sells or advertises your goods add the address for that too.

Many people worry about putting phone numbers on their cards as they run their business from home and don't want to give out their private home number. If this is the case I'd advise you to either get a separate business line installed or have a business mobile/cell phone. You don't have to get an expensive one with all the whistles and bells. You can get very reasonably priced phones with a pre-pay tariff rather than a contract. The person phoning you won't know. I have had many customers ring me to order goods after being given my business card. Not everyone is comfortable using the internet and they prefer to do business with a person not a computer.

All you people with bricks and mortar shops should add the shop address too. If your address is hard to find, sometimes a mini map helps.

I'm a keen fan of the double sided business cards because it means you can have all the written details clearly set out on one side and great images of your goods on the other side. Some people do manage to get all that information and pictures on one side, but I just like to use all the space the card has to offer.

This is the front of my Hyperloop Hoops business card.

(Obviously the real cards have our phone number on them)

Here are a few of the backs for this card.

We have 10 different photos for the backs of this card. The variety of photos have lead to people chatting about our cards and showing each other which back photo they got. This all leads to people remembering us and our business more, which is all good!

What if I have no design skills to draw up my own cards?

There are lots of people running small design businesses. You see them offering their services on places like Etsy, Dawanda, Mintd, etc. Check in your local press for local businesses and if someone hands you their card and you like the way it looks ask them who designed it.

So where do I get my business cards printed?

There are companies online that offer free business cards, but those will usually have ads for their own company on them and I feel this detracts from the impact the card has. They are rarely free either as they charge you for lots of added extras before you reach the checkout. Try not to go for those if you can afford to. There are many online services that allow you to upload your own designs. Shop around for the best deal and quality of print that you can afford. Remember google search is your friend!

Very often small local printers are more than happy to help you at a very reasonable price. Phone around a few and ask for quotes. Some offer design services too.

I print my own cards. It took me a while to perfect doing it, but it wasn't really all that hard and now when I need more I can run off as many as I need. Be aware this isn't always the most cost effective way of making cards, because of all the printer ink you use and the price of good card. It also takes time to cut them all up even with a guillotine. The reason I love it though is I'm quite forgetful and only remember the night before that I need 100 cards to hand out the next day and there is no way of getting them delivered to me from the printers in that time.

(again I've removed my telephone number from this due to it being online)

So a good business card is one that is eye catching, has all the information in an easy to read form and it gives the person receiving it a good idea of what your business is all about.

29 Jan 2008

Favourites and etsy mini

I love the favourites feature on etsy, because it allows me to keep a track on what's new in the shops that I adore. I do wish it would give me a way of sorting those shops out into sections rather than having it in the jumble that it does, but I guess we can't have everything! Etsy also has this little widget so we can show our favourites to each other and give each other a bit of promotion off the etsy site. These are a few of my current favourites.

The etsy mini tool is great as a promotional tool and for fun. It's much better than just a written link to your shop from other sites. It gives people a visual of what you have on sale right now and it updates itself as things sell or expire. I think it's great. Here is mine as an example.

For those that didn't know they had this tool or are unsure as to how to use it, here is a step by step guide to setting it up.

1. Go to "Your etsy" and this page will open up. Press on "etsy mini" at the bottom of the list on the left hand side (ringed in purple on the picture)

2. This page will open. Follow the 3 steps and build yourself an etsy mini. You will get a preview of what your choices will look like in the box underneath.

You can fiddle around with the image sizes, rows and columns so that the mini will fit the space you want it to go in, be that your blog, a networking site, or you own website.

3. If you now scroll down the page you will see two boxes full of text. these are the codes you need to copy and paste into the page you wish to set your etsy mini.

The top box is code you would use on your personal websites, blogs or anywhere that runs javascript. The second is a flash version that you can use on social networking site that don't allow you to enter javascript. Chose which script you need and click that box. On your keyboard press "ctrl" and "A" at the same time, this will select everything in the box. Now press "ctrl" and "C" at the same time, this will copy everything that was highlighted. Now you can paste that code into the page you want to show your etsy mini on and there you go, you have a perfect little, self updating shop window on another site directing people to your shop!

27 Jan 2008

Artisan of the Week, Susan Hume of Callooh Callay

This week I'm proud to present to you Susan Hume. Re-cycling, re-using and up-cycling are topics dear to my heart. I think it's high time we humans cut down on the amount of waste we produce. Susan does her bit in a very stylish way. Using vintage items she creates new and beauty goods. I'll let her tell you about it in her own words...

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?

Hi, my name is Susan Hume and I have an Etsy shop named Callooh Callay (a phrase from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem), which carries a few vintage items but primarily jewelry that I make out of vintage buttons. I started out with a lot of brooches but have been adding pendants, bobby pins—earrings and collaged boxes next, I think.

2. What led you to take up your craft?

My whole career has been in writing, editing, and corporate communications, but for the past five or six years I’ve been freelancing and, in my spare time, also writing short stories and a novel--a whole lot more exciting than working in an office. I’ve always done some artwork on the side and decided it would be fun to try selling it. I started out with the button jewelry because it was something I’d been making anyway and I like the results (and hope it will sell).

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?

I like looking at little things, little beautiful or bizarre or unique objects, and playing around to see what fits together. Sometimes I’ll get in a new bunch of buttons, and two of them will find each other like magic. No other combination could even be considered. My new pin with the large red Bakelite is an example of that. Other times I have buttons laid out on trays and play around with them for a few weeks before deciding what goes together. Sometimes the combinations are subdued and elegant, and other times they’re a little quirky or weird, and I think, why not? I’d wear it! An example of this is the funky pink pin with the red ball on top—strange but compelling.

Two more things I enjoy: the hunt for cool materials and the late night forums with other Etsy artists.

4. Which part do you find hardest?

There are so many other jewelry makers on the Internet, it’s hard to attract people to the site. As I’m writing this, I’m in my third week with the store open, and I haven’t had time to do all the marketing they say you have to do to succeed (like this blog!). So I just keep plugging and try to be patient and try to do a little each week—with my freelancing jobs still having to get done and kids to get to school and….well, just like everyone else, I guess. Not enough time.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?

I’d like to see my art evolve to more creative pieces, incorporating vintage items but also going off in different directions. Of course, it all should sell. And I’d like to be writing more, which I’ve been neglecting since I started my Etsy shop. It’s difficult to balance the two and to find a way to make them symbiotic, rather than one of them taking all my attention.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

This isn’t really advice (and some would question whether I was wise to heed it), but at my last real job I had an index card on the bulletin board with a quote from James Thurber: “You might as well fall flat on your face as lean too far backwards.” I took that to mean, take a chance, speak up, don’t wait for things to happen, and don’t let the bastards get you down. The results at that particular job were not happy (another story), but as far as my life in general goes, it’s been great. I guess with this new shop I’m trying to take that advice to the next level.

7. Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?

Oh my god, so many talented people out there. Just to pick one category, mixed media assemblage, four Etsy artists that I’ve been looking at this week (with envy and despair) are ravenwolf, indiandollartworks, colleenbang, and junkyardgypsy.

8.What is your favourite sandwich filling?

A slice of good cheese with a fresh, warm tomato from my garden (only available a few months out of the year, in years we actually get around to planting).

Thank you for being our Artisan of the Week Susan. I very much look forward to seeing your shop becoming a top seller. Good luck for the future!

26 Jan 2008

Eat me!

The following is written by Jon of Hyperloop Hoops

My favourite food in the world is egg and bacon sandwiches (with a nice dollop of Ketchup) so I thought that the first item I should feature are these beautiful cufflinks. These are perfect for a night out with your friends, but im sure that once the beery munchies had set in, given half the chance- I would eat them! Im sure you will agree with me, that they really do look very realistic.

This work was added at the request of my partner. I thought it rather an odd request as she is a vegetarian - so she wont eat meat, but she is more than happy to wrap herself in it! (unless she wants to wrap me in them!) The pictures on this artists shop are.. hmm.. well.. erm.. "odd" to say the least! Words cannot describe the pictures, so im not going to even try - they are excellent however and some of the team could be classed as "mentalists". The nice sort of mentalist though!

Wow - that really does actually look like half an Oreo (well, without the writing on the biscuit of course!). I love biscuits, as anyone who knows me, or plays World of Warcraft with me can assest to. My offical title is "Biscuit Mistress". So what better way to show your love of the biscuit, than by attaching one to your phone!

Oooooooooooooooooooooooh. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yum-arificly-tasticly-lischous! However, please, for your own safety - do NOT try to eat this item. It is made of felt, and not only will you end up with the worst drymouth in the world, your tongue will be all furry too! (Not to mention your poo looking like small furry sausages!)

To quote my favourite ever cartoon ( Invader Zim ): ".....mmmmmchicken". This is a rather silly item (just like the "pocket bacon" you can get on etsy), however I really like this a lot. Its a great thing to make and pull out with your friends just to see their reaction. Alternativly, try serving it up to your family for sunday lunch! See if they eat it!

25 Jan 2008

PollyPosy shows off the work of new Etsy sellers

Today we have our first guest writer, PollyPosy, who crafted these beautiful Calla lillies . Don't forget to check out her lovely new shop on etsy as well as the other artists she has featured. Thank you PollyPosy for drawing to our attention some gorgeous pieces of work.

For as long as I remember, I’ve been drawn to certain colors: deep chocolate browns, soft tans, and the crispness of a clean white. If you want to get a strange look as a child, tell people your favorite color is beige. Neutrals have always comforted me, in a way that the other colors can not, and you only have to give one look at the following items to find that neutrals are anything but boring.

Chromatics, a “newbie” on Etsy like all the other artists I plan to feature, takes vintages fabrics from around the world and turns them into spectacular wall art. The bold, yet simple, patterns are striking yet comforting, like stepping back into time when these same patterns would be seen on your grandmother’s apron.

There are some items I come across that astound me with how they were created. BittyStar’s shop is full of them. She cuts original designs out of paper and then lays them atop fabrics she’s rescued from anywhere they’ve been discarded. This one of a kind piece with its neutral colors and retro design is one of my favorites.

Gray, ivory, ecru, pearl, tan, charcoal, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This necklace in Hypho’s shop is only one of her many pieces that is intricate, yet simple at the same time. The chunky stones arranged with the delicate pearls give it an overall look that could be worn formal or casual. If it was mine, I might even wear it to sleep in.

There is nothing more neutral and natural than pottery. This stoneware heart from BridgeManStudios’ shop is a one of a kind piece made with no molds or forms. Appropriately for must of us, it shows a hole in it, but it is being stitched back together. If you’ve given someone your proverbial heart, maybe you could give them this one as well.

Finally, we have a sweet, but hilarious photography print from ArtRogue. The colors are soft, the subject is hilarious, and the artist is very, very talented. Hang this in your bathroom if you want a chuckle every time you go.

All of the above artists are new to Etsy, but in my opinion they are starting out perfectly with these stunning pieces in colors people often overlook.

Written and compiled by PollyPosy

24 Jan 2008

Soft and cuddly, but not always cute

Yesterday in a conversation about evil, Jon told me I was the least evil thing he knew, apart from maybe soft cuddly things like bunnies... He obviously hasn't seen some of the bunnies I've seen! Have you watch Monty Python's Holy Grail? Hmmmm... or maybe he has and he thinks I have a wicked streak a mile wide hehehe.

Today's blog is going to feature some of the less cute, but still cuddly creations of a few independent artists.

Arrrrgh! It's a zombie!!!!!! Underroos makes these great sock zombie. Not something you want sneaking up on you on a dark night... Take a read of underroos descriptions of her creations and you'll understand the reason you need one of these fellas on your side.

SpiderCamp is one of my all time favourite sellers on Etsy. I know some people might find her bunnies offensive, I just find them funny. The perfect antidote to the "politically correct" culture that I live in. I'm so tempted to order a custom embroidered one with a few choice words to send to my local MP!

This is the Pete Doherty Gaborg Monster Doll and I think he is fabulous! Made by LoveFromHettyandDave, this brilliant doll is a great way to have the maestro in your home without having to worry about him vomiting on your carpets, because lets be honest, he would wouldn't he? Check out the shop for other celebrities.

I'm old enough to remember the Sex Pistols starting out so the lovely Sid made by Jellibat was a perfect choice for the cuddly but not cute collection, for no one could ever accuse Sid Vicious of being cute!

Some of Bunniesofdoom's creations are far from cute, although some how you still do want to give them a home and a cuddle. Take for instance evil leopard bunny, despite the big claws and the grrrrry mouth, don't you still have the urge to tickle his belly, right there on the skull & crossbones? I do.

So there you have it cuddly doesn't always have to be cute. Watch out for those zombies!

22 Jan 2008

How to improve your Google page rank
(a.k.a - "How to win at Google....)

Hello, my name is Jon and I am an IT manager.

One of the first things that I was asked to do when I started my job was to drastically improve our website's page rank on Google. I was told we need to be in the top 10 on the first page at least. So I read and researched, and researched and read and came to the conclusion that there is no foolproof way of getting to #1, no way of doing this, this and this to result in you being top of all the Google searches. There are however a few things you CAN do to greatly improve your positioning.

The way that Google ranks your page is much more complicated than you first think. The technology that the creators of Google invented has been worked on for about the past 10 years. They have tweaked, chopped, copied, deleted, recreated and re-deleted parts of the code. It will never be perfect (in my opinion) but it is quite good.

There is an actual equation/ algorithm that Google uses to determine where a page comes in their searches, however it looks overly complicated so I’m not going to write it here, but it boils down to a few things.

They are (in no order other than the one they occur to me in):
1) How many links you have to your website.
2) How many sites link to the website that linked to you.
3) Where those other sites are shown in Google searches.
4) The content (words) on your site
5) Your page/ website's title

So, now you know what it is, you need to know what to do.

Point one obviously means; the more links you have pointing to your website, the more important that Google sees your page as - no one would link to it unless if it was rubbish. Get linking to your site - go round doing "ethical spam" - Don’t just sign up to a forum or a website to only ever make one post advertising your goods. Become a member in your own right and make a positive contribution - then you can go and link to your site!

Point two means; Say website "B" links to website "A". That is worth one webpoint. Now say that for every 5 sites that link to site "B", the link from "B" to "A" is twice as important (two webpoints). There isn’t really much you can do about this one, other than spending time advertising someone else's website.

Point three means; the higher the rank, the better the website content and more relevant to the search criteria the website is. The higher the page rank of the page that links to you, the more "webpoints" you get to increase your rank (by the way - these "webpoints" are only imaginary and are being used to make explaining page rank a bit clearer). There is nothing you can do about this one.

Point four; Say for example, that someone creates a website on elephants. A site that says "elephants" is obviously more relevant to the topic "elephants" than one that says "Big grey things with massive ears that live in Africa". Make sure your subject is mentioned in your website - this may sound stupid, but I have seen lots of pages on the Internet that don’t mention what they are actually about. Its one of those things that you don’t notice unless you are looking for it though!

Point five; Like with point four, Google smiles more on websites with titles like "The biggest elephants in the world", rather than one that is titled "The biggest big grey things with massive ears that live in Africa". Make sure you have relevant titles.

You need to remember though, that there is no one thing that you can do that will guarantee being in the first page of results. Even if you have umpteen gazillion links to your page, if all those links are from blacklisted sites (for example sites that people will pay for a link to their website), and if your content also has no relevant words, then you will not be ranked highly.

You can forget all about meta keywords (the words that the creator of a webpage uses to help search engines categorise their site) - Google takes as much notice to these, as people in aeroplanes do to ants (Google ignores meta keywords as so many bad/dodgy sites would just put the entire dictionary in their meta keywords to make sure they were more likely to be found for ANY word).

Meta descriptions (the description that the creator of a webpage uses to help search engines categorise their site) on the other hand, are noticed by Google, and are very easy and quick to do - a word of warning though – don’t go over about 50 words as Google will see this as spam and will take away "webpoints" from your site. HOWEVER - if you want to increase your page rank for all search engines (it may be well worth putting in keywords anyway - it wont harm your site). Something to note though- say someone was searching for "eskimoes", and one site's key words were: "eskimoes" "eskimos" "arctic" "inuits", and a different site's keywords include "eskimoes" "inuits" "huskies" "igloos" "tundra" "sled racing" - Google sees the first site as more relevant as it matches 1(2) out of 3(4) (some are brackets as Google has started to automatically search for misspellings of search terms), whereas the second site only matches 1 out of 6. So - the more keywords you have, the wider your search area, but the less specific and more generic your website is to each of those. It is best to come to a happy medium.

There are loads of websites out there that go into much more detail than I ever could regarding page rank, however I will leave you with 2 more VERY important points.
Sign up for a Google analytic account and a Google webmasters tools account as together they will help you see where your traffic is coming from, what people are typing into Google to find you, how long each person spends on your site, what screen resolution they are using, as well as the countries that are visiting you.

Good luck!

21 Jan 2008

For the love of Monkeys.

The title of this blog says it all really. I have a love of all things monkey. I have fond memories of watching the program "Monkey Magic" in my childhood and going to a spider monkey sanctuary where they were trying to save some very rare species from extinction. I guess my love for them started way back then. I hope you enjoy my selection for today.

Every good article should start off with an all time favourite item and this monkey from TheDevilsWallpaper is one of mine. I gave one of these gorgeous monkey pants magnets to a very good friend of mine for Christmas and he loves it too. His very words to me when I asked him if he liked it was "Pure Genius!"

Wouldn't all those suited and booted business men you see commuting into the cities every day look so much more exciting and interesting if the carried a sock monkey with them like the man depicted on the front of clothmothclothing T-Shirt? Stop being dull all you pinstriped suit wearers. Get yourself a monkey!

Susarto has titled this little simian as "shifty - the monkey weirdo". He's called Shifty because he sells used cars and apparently is not to be trusted, hehehe, but he is just so cute! How could anyone that wears their heart on the outside be shifty?

This pendant from bencandance says it all. Monkey Love! Made from Polymer clay, this cheeky little monkey would look great hanging around your neck.

I know a Gorilla is an ape and not a monkey, but I saw this picture and loved it so much I wanted to include it. This was drawn and painted by Sarah Pittman. I'm in awe of the amount of texture she has captured in this picture. I love his nose most of all but the fur on his forehead is also amazing.

Cirrusskooter has created this pin depicting 2 of my favourite things. Sporks and Monkeys. The inventor of the Spork was a genius in my eyes, so how could I not feature it? Cirrusskooter also prints this wonderful design onto bags and T-shirts.

Have a great day all and keep on monkeying around!

20 Jan 2008

Artisan of the Week, Erica of Moon's Harvest.

This week we have the lovely Erica from Moon's Harvest to tell us a little about why she loves to make the gorgeous bath and body products that she sells. The site has a beautiful Gift Section where you will find a whole range of great goodies including a Valentines day trio. Not only does Erica make these items for you to use and give as gifts, but also she makes goods for your pets in her PYP collection.

1. Hello Erica, Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?

Hi, my name is Erica Moon. I am 28 years old and am a Partner of the company Moon's Harvest which we started over 7 years ago. We work around the clock it seems, creating wonderful handmade bath and body products for women, men, children and their pets.

2. What led you to take up your craft?

We love animals and we started out with pet products because one of our dogs was allergic to everything on the market. We needed an alternative to the chemical ingredients that are found in commercial beauty products for pets. We loved them so much that we were using the products ourselves. Therefore human products were suddenly in the making.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?

I love researching the internet for relevant information, finding the latest trends in beauty and cosmetics, and experimenting with the results that result in a great new product.

Which part do you find hardest?

Names for our products especially the bath bombs. We name our bath bombs after girls names
from the 80's and quite often we get stumped.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?

Our goal is to have a brick and mortar store of our own by the fall.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

If you are going to do something, do it all the way.

7.Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?

Micky Byrd has a beautiful website and products. Nahia Creations a husband and wife team.

What is your favourite sandwich filling?

I love a big fat Rueben Sandwich

Thank you Erica! I hope your plans for a bricks an Mortar store work out well. As a self confessed chocoholic your Diva chocolate covered cherry bath bomb is calling me! Time for a bath I think.

17 Jan 2008

Promotion on a budget

Lets be honest, promotion is a topic many of us sigh at when we hear it mentioned. Most of us just want to get on with creating our goods because we love making them, otherwise why would we be doing this? I don't know many people that wake up in the morning and think "Yippeee! I get to spend a few hours on promotions today!" I know for one, if I had the cash, I would pay someone else to do it for me, but the nature of being someone that hand makes their goods and sells them, I don't make enough cash to do that..... yet!

So how do people on a tight budget promote themselves and their goods?

Today I'm going to list some ways of promoting that are free, by which I mean don't cost cash, but might cost time. This is in no way a definitive list, so if you come up with more ideas please feel free to add them in the feedback section and I'll be happy to add them to the main list. Now before you start reading this go get yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

Free Promotion

1. Networking-Never under estimate how effective word of mouth is. It is a very powerful promotional tool. Get out and about, on-line, as well as off-line. On-line, join social networking sites, such as Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, etsy street teams, Artfire Guilds, Twitter etc. Join forums relevant to your skills and be active on the forums. If site rules allow it, put a link in your signature, so every time you post people can link straight to your shop. Be vocal about your love of your work, start a blog in which you can enthuse passionately about your craft. Off-line, it's the same. Join local groups that are relevant to your skills, maybe offer to give evening classes in your local collage. Chat to people you meet in queues and let them know what you do. I spend lots of time in post office queues and as I'm often posting large hula hoops, people are only too ready to chat to me. If you go to pick up kids from school, stand and chat with all the others picking kids up. Basically get a buzz going around about what you make and where you sell them. Remember this is a very powerful tool so it can turn against you if you don't give good service to people that buy your goods. Don't let the chat turn sour. Give great service as well as wonderful products and the power of gossip won't turn against you!

2.Web Directories-submit your website to as many web directories as you can find. The more you are added to, the more traffic you are likely to get. Research and implement as many ways of getting your name pushed up the listing to the top. Each one maybe different so research each on you submit to. They are not the same as search engines. They work by categories rather than searching for keywords, so make sure they put you in the best category for you to get noticed.

3. Local traders websites-Search the internet for websites dedicated to promoting businesses in your area. There will be a "Submit your site" link, and it is this that you will want to fill out.

4.Newsletter-Start collecting together a list of people who have consented to being on an emailing list. Send these people regular newsletters about your business. Don't go crazy and send them letters every couple of days, because most people find that a turn off and will ask to be removed from the list. Once a month or quarterly is better. It reminds people you are there and lets them know about new products you are making or when you are running sales etc. without being too in their face about it. It can also make customers feel valued if you tip them off about up and coming events before anyone else knows, thus allowing them to be the first in the queue. In many coutnries, it is illegal to send people newsletters without their consent (it is considered spam), so make sure you have an "unsubscribe" link that allows them to stop receiving the newsletters if they wish.

5.New content- Adding new content and keeping your website up to date gets you a higher placement with Google. It also keeps your pages looking fresh and new, which entices people to keep coming back to check up on the changes.

6.Link exchanges-This is a way of increasing traffic to your site and other peoples sites. You gather together a group of people with sites that compliment each other, so for example lets say we have 3 people, one sells shoes, another sells shoe polish and the third sells polishing clothes. If each of these sites puts a link on their site to the other two it increases all three peoples sites viability. The more people involved in the exchange the more links each person get on the World Wide Web pointing to their site.

7.Local free ads- Get your name anywhere you can. Sign up/apply for a local newspaper free advert and get the message about what you do out there! There are also free classified web pages you can sign up to.

8.Be your own Billboard-If the items you make are wearable do it! Always put something on, that you made, when you go out. You'd be amazed how many people will admire it and ask you where you got it from. It's a good idea to always carry business cards with you so you can hand them out to interested people. Do you make home goods? Yes... then use them in your home. Anyone that comes to visit, make them a cup of coffee in your hand thrown mugs. Friends coming to dinner? Where did you put those table mats you made and that gorgeous tablecloth you embroidered? Do you make and sell soaps? Leave label wrapped sample bars in all your bathrooms so that visitors see them... Use what you make and let other people see you using them. I make and sell hula hoops. I love hooping. I could do it in my own back garden, but instead I go to the local park, because not only does it mean I have more space but it never fails to draw a crowd.

9.Local Newspaper article-Most local newspapers have slack weeks where they find it difficult to fill their pages. You can see when it happens because they will have some strange article on a pet rabbit that has learned to swim or how a stain on a wall in the local library looks like the Virgin Mary if you squint at it and turn your head to the right. Well, take up the slack. Send them in pre-written article about your craft with photographs to illustrate what you do or organise yourself to be at a local carnival and dress up in the most outrageous outfit you can find so they take a photo of you. Just be sure that when they name you, the photo credit says your name and mentions your business... "Skully, owner of Hyperloop Hoops". Most local papers are only too happy to feature local small businesses if you ask them in the right way or fit into a theme they are running. If you don't ring them up and ask you'll never know!

Aren't you glad I told you to make that drink now? More tips on promoting on a budget coming up soon. Keep checking back!

After reading this post AshleyBug directed me to a blog she has written about places to promote etsy. Most of them are good links to promote any website you have. Go take a look.

Fibre Fetish

*Stands up*

My name is Lynne and I’m a Fibre Addict. I’ve been addicted to wool since I was very small. I was taught to knit by my granny at a very young age and I figured out how to crochet when I found a crochet hook in an old bag of knitting needles. I took the hook and messed about with some wool and a knitted square I’d made and I figured out how to put a frill around the edge. It was a bit messy, but I got the idea of how the wool and hook worked together. Ever since then I have been crocheting like crazy. I recently inflamed my addiction more by taking up felt making. The feeling of taking raw wool fibres and turning them into an item of beauty still wows me every time. So, to feed my addiction this morning I’ve been on a hunt to find some items to share with you.

Looking for fibres in the raw? Then try the TheFiberDenn where you can find washed Merino, and cross breed fleeces. This beautiful dark brown cross breed wool is a great example. Straight from the shepherdess sheers, and carefully hand washed, this wool is now ready to be carded for spinning or felted. It's such a stunning colour.

If natural coloured wool doesn't float your boat, it can be dyed. Fibrespace supplies these gorgeous coloured rovings that are perfect for felting. You can get rovings in a whole rainbow of colours ready dyed or you can buy natural coloured roving and dye it yourself.

Spinning is something that I want to try. I’ve been so inspired by so many beautiful handmade yarns. You only have to sneak a peek in shops like Cazza’s, Shunklies, and The Painted Tiger to see what I mean. This gorgeous yarn was spun by alltheprettyfibers. It was spun from luxuriously soft Australian Merino wool.

Needle felting takes much practice and skill to perfect. I think KayK9s must have practised her craft a great deal to get this good. Her perfectly formed miniature dogs are amazing. The patience and time taken to create each piece must be immense. I am in awe.

This item made me giggle when I first saw the title. It's called a Veggie Sporran. I had images in my head of a sporran stuffed full of tasty vegetables, but no, it is a sporran made from hand felted merino wool rather than made with the traditional leather or fur. Earthly Treasures makes them in a variety of colours so you can match them up to your kilt! Her website is chock full of other handmade goodies too. Take a look.

Yarn does not always get made of natural fibres. Some, like the ones kraftyladykreations used to make these pretty little booties, are made of manmade fibres like acrylic, good for those people out there with wool allergies, so there is something out there for everyone in the world of fibres. Go out and take a look. Maybe you'll become as addicted to fibres as I am!

16 Jan 2008

Make me want to buy your goods-Part 1

This is the 1st blog of hints and tips on how to make your items appealing to online shoppers. Whether you have an online shop on a site of your own or a host site like Mintd, Dawanda, Trunkt or Etsy etc you need to grab the buyers attention and keep it long enough for them to make a purchase. So how do you do that?

Firstly you need to have great pictures. You cannot under estimate the power of great photographs. Customers very often pick items to buy in seconds flat just from that first view they get of the goods. So you only have seconds before they move on by to the next shop. You have to grab them and draw them into your shop before they go.

To achieve great photographs you need a fairly good camera. With the recent digital camera revolution, these thankfully do not cost the earth any more. Look for one that has macro/super macro settings. This is an investment in your business so take your time finding one that suits you and makes taking great pictures of your goods easy.

Try to take your pictures in natural light. Defused light is best as it will cause less shadowing. You can achieve this by either setting up next to a bright window that isn’t in direct sunlight or a bright space outside that again isn’t in direct sunlight. If you are photographing smaller items and you live in a place where it can be a bit dark and grey for 6 months of the year, as I do, it might be wise to invest in either making or buying a light box. Strobist explains how to make a light box on a budget. Well lit photos are key to getting that great shot, so spend time on getting the lighting right. Do not use the flash! Flash lights adversely affect the colours of your photographs and mess with the natural shadows an item casts. This will make your items looks somewhat unreal.

Backgrounds to Photos are also important. If the background is too busy it can detract from the item you are selling. The background colour can affect the way the item looks, so try your items on a variety of colours to find out which one really makes the item stand out/pop from the picture. Too many props in a picture can also be a distraction. Remember that if the customer can’t work out which item in the photograph is for sale they will probably move on somewhere else to shop.

A customer’s perception of your cleanliness is very important. If you’re photographs include pet hairs, toenail cutting (Yes, I have seen this. I won’t name the shop) fluff, cigarette butts, litter etc inadvertently in shot there is no bigger turn off for most people. Make sure your work space and photography area is clean, tidy, hair and litter free.

So how many shots of each item do you need? Imagine you are in a shop and you want to buy your item. Think of how you would pick it up and what parts you would look at. Those are the photographs you need to show. Close ups on details like stitching, welds, clasp, fabric, gem stone, button hole as well as back, front, side, top, bottom. Your customer can’t pick up the goods and look at them so you have to do it for them. If you mention a detail in the description of the piece be sure to have a photograph of it.

Scale or size of a piece can also be shown in photographs by using items in one of your shots that are of an internationally recognisable size. This, for me, means not using coins. Coins can be all shapes and sizes around the world so if you truly want to sell globally I suggest use a ruler with both inches and centimetres on for tiny items, or a hand and for larger items a person or a mannequin work well.

Lastly I’d say, try to make all your photographs have an overall vibe to them. If you do your shop will have a cohesive classy look to it rather than a look of a garage sale or flea market. Again customer perception of your goods and you is very important, so spend time perfecting the look of your shop.

All the photos I’ve placed in this piece are from people I consider have got it right. Take a look around their shops by clicking on the photos.

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