Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Year New Beginnings

Whether you are an avid resolution setter, or a firm believer that New Year's resolutions are a waste of time, I think we can all agree that there is something inherently fresh and new about the first month of the year. Something that urges us to look forward, not backward and forge ahead into what we hope to be a bright new beginning, no matter what we have left behind.

It is also a perfect time to take a fresh look at your shop. Take your heart out of the equation, put on your business hat, and look at it from a completely impersonal viewpoint. What do you see?  What would you feel about this shop if  you had stumbled on it during a search? Is it inviting? Is your bio and shop policies up to date? Are your shop sections still relevant? Are your featured items really the first ones you want potential customers to see? Look at every aspect with an impartial eye. Perhaps you need to re-take some photos or update your banner. What is working and what is not? Evaluate your sales data from last year. What was your best seller? What was your worst? You may decide to add or remove some inventory completely. What needs to change to accomplish your goals for 2015?

These can be daunting questions and it is easy to get our hearts in the way of a good business decision. And this is a business. Even if you think of your Etsy shop as more of a hobby than anything, it is still a business. It requires record keeping, inventory control, shipping and receiving, customer service......It is a business. You are the heart and soul of your business but you must also be the head and brain that leads your endeavor to success in the coming year. This may mean making some hard decisions and tough choices or it may mean you are exactly where you want to be. Whatever you find, it will have been worth your effort and will map your course for 2015.

Much  success to us all!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

For those artisans who participated in the Custer Spring Arts and Craft show in Spokane, spring started a couple of weeks ago. With over 20 new vendors and almost 400 total it was a great place to see many different products.

I spoke with three of the vendors from our own Inland Northwest Team.

Jennifer (on the right) and her daughter from Jennifer Sumner Designs
Megan from Megan's Beaded Designs

Rachel from OrangeThyme

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Amazing Diversity

The Inland Northwest Team is comprised of a very diverse group of extremely talented and amazing artists and artisans. As we start the New Year I wanted to take a moment to explore the variety of shops and products offered by this team. Come along with me on a short excursion into the Inland Northwest Team. This in no way is a complete list but a sampling of what we have to offer.

I found some amazing ladies and their sewing machines. StudioCherie is not only the shop of our Captain but it is one of the most successful shops I know of. With nearly 10,000 sales Cherie has shown what hard work, perseverance, talent and determined marketing can achieve on Etsy.

I first met Jan from JanKanSew at the very first meeting of the original EasternWashingtonEtsy Team. The meeting was held downtown Spokane at the Olive Garden. It was evident that Jan was passionate about her craft.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Jan from BoudoirPlus but I sure like her shop!

Hey ladies you may want to check out Laura's shop LCSCottage
She has some amazing fabric.

We have a variety of jewelry artist in the Inland Northwest Team. They have different styles but each share a passion for creating something beautiful. I have featured just a few of them here. I encourage you to search for INWTeam and you will find many more very talented jewelry artists and some amazing items in their shops.

This is from Terabliss

Here is one from FlowYogaDesigns

RareSpecimens is a wonderful collection I loved this one:

We also have several artisans that create yummy personal care items. Luxurious soaps, lotions and lip balms can be found in these shops.

Rachel from Orangethyme has a shop full of lip balms and soaps.

Megan from CountryBlossom has a nice variety of soaps, candles and balms.

And here is one of the many treats you will find at Sagegold

And we have candle makers. Check out Michelle's shop HomemadeScents for some amazing tarts and candles.

And coaster creators. SentimentalStones has an amazing variety of coasters and other home decor.

And EtchedinTimeLLC with an eclectic variety of really cool stuff.

We have vintage shops that have everything from Accessories to Wagon Wheels.

DeniseBrain is the place to go if you are in the market for vintage clothing and accessories.

And DallyGirlVintage has some wonderful items for house and home.

We fiber artists like LadyJaneDarcy with her warm and welcoming shop.

With over 200 members there is a lot to choose from in the Inland Northwest Team. I hope you spend some time exploring some of these shops and find many new favorites.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Here is a link to Megan Peterson's (of  MegansBeadedDesigns) blog where she shares some inspirational and motivational information on setting and accomplishing goals in the New Year. I highly recommend you read this post. She has a free download to keep you on track all year long.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Benefit from Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is described in Wikipedia as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.”  So what does that mean to people like you and me trying to get noticed on Etsy? I did some research on this subject and though most of what I found applied to websites and more specifically to webmasters designing sites, much of what I learned could be used to help drive traffic to your product pages or your Etsy site.

The first thing  you want to keep in mind is that search engines do not look at your page the same way a human does. The next thing is to know that key words are key in getting found by a search engines. This starts with the item title when you are listing an item for your Etsy shop. Titles should not be longer than 65-75 characters as engines quit crawling after that. It should also be descriptive of what your item is and should include appropriate keywords. For example if you are listing a painted wine glass with poppies on it you would want the item title to read something like this: “Hand Painted Wine Glass With Poppies.” “Or Hand Painted Poppy Wine Glass.” It is helpful to think how you would ‘Google’ your item if you were looking for it. Ask yourself, “If I was searching for hand painted wine glasses what would I type in the search box?” Chances are what you would type is exactly what your customer who is trying to find you would type as well. 

In the description area you want to reinforce the key words from your title in the body of the text. In the Poppy wine glass example you would want your description to read something like this: “Hand painted wine glass has Poppies surrounding the 20 oz goblet. Imagine enjoying your favorite wine from this beautifully hand painted Poppy wine glass.” You do not want to get carried away with the repetition as search engines can read that as spam and will then not store or index your site for searches. Remember the first few lines of your description will be shown in the search result on Google or Bing so what you say in the first line or two is crucial to get customers to click through. 

As an experiment put your Etsy shop name in any search engine you use. See what comes up. Take note of what a potential customer’s first contact is with you.  Play around with your item titles and descriptions and watch your shop stats to see if it makes a difference. You will not notice anything over night but if you consistently use descriptive and appropriate key words in your titles and content you will get noticed in the search engines and start to move up in the search results. Will you make it to the first page, maybe not but you will increase your exposure. 

The next thing to keep in mind is that search engines look for longevity as well as how often sites or pages are updated. What this translates into for you and me is that if you have sold an item that you can reproduce and then update pictures of it is better to relist it than to create a new listing. For your shop it is good practice to add new items regularly. It not only keeps people coming back to see what is new it also keeps the search engines looking at your page. 

There is a lot of information available on this topic; try ‘Googling’ it and you will see what I mean. I have a list of the sources I used in this article below; I would encourage you to check out the links for a more in depth analysis than I have time to present here. If you have anything you would like to add please post a comment so that we may all share what we have learned to help our business grow.

Google has a great guide if you want to learn more than I have time to share here. 
Another great source is

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Interview with Megan Sweeney of Vintage Automobilia

Megan from Vintage Automobilia is our "Person of Interest" this week. Her shop is a reflection of her love of automobiles. I think you will see why she loves what she does. 

Tell us about yourself. Your ‘real’ name and shop name, where you live, do you have children, pets, married? Etc
My name is Megan Sweeney, and my shop is Vintage Automobilia. I live on Fairchild AFB with my active duty husband and our cat, Dino. We have no children, but are currently pending the addition of an adopted retired racing greyhound to our little family.

What is your product?
My shop sells exactly what the name suggests -- vintage automobilia. Automobilia can be anything from old car ads to badges to the various posters I currently have on offer. I’m currently working to expand my offerings from just vintage automobilia to some handmade automotive-themed items as well.

How long have you been selling on Etsy?
I opened my shop on September 15th of this year. I’m proud to say I have made six sales to date and only one of them was to family. :)

What do you like about your shop? What would you like to change?
I really love the theme of my shop -- cars are pretty much my entire life, so to be able to go out and hunt for vintage automotive items is a great addition to my hobby! I like that I get to share a little bit of that with the Etsy community.

One thing I would like to change about my shop is the size -- I wish I had more inventory to offer. I’m hoping that will come in time.

How did you come up with your shop name?
Nothing spectacularly creative here -- it’s just what I sell!

What is your creative style? Is your work area neat and tidy or a disaster?
I can go either way when it comes to being neat or completely messy. When I build a scale model car, my area is always neat and organized. My room that holds my inventory and shipping supplies, however, is a total disaster space. Organized chaos, as I prefer to call it!

What inspires you?
When it comes to my shop in general, it’s the car hobby that led me to create it. As I mentioned before, it’s great to be able to share a piece of my hobby with more people. I really enjoy going out to hunt for inventory; it’s definitely not a job to me at all! But when it comes to being creative myself and making things, I get my inspiration mostly from other creative people. I love browsing Etsy and seeing what people can make.

Do you have any advice to offer to your fellow team mates on how to be successful on Etsy?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to give out advice on how to be successful yet, am I? Haha. I feel too new to be doing that! The only thing I feel I could offer is to keep doing what you love, and don’t give up. 

Megan's favorite shop is Old Vintage Goodies 
She tells me, "it helped inspire me to create my own shop".

Many thanks to Megan for sharing her story and her shop Vintage Automobilia with us. Check out her collection of memorabilia. I especially liked the 1957 Chevy pictures since that was my first car. Sure wish I still had it! Enjoy this treasury of Megan's fantastic items!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Interview with Tera Larson of Creativity is Messy

This week's person of interest is Tera Larson. Tera is the creative talent behind Creativity is Messy. Her shop is a wonderful mix of function and fancy that you will love.

11.      Tell us about yourself. Your ‘real’ name and shop name, where you live, do you have children, pets, married? Etc
My real name is Tera, but in the land of Etsy I go by “Messy”.  My Etsy shop is Creativity is Messy ( 
I recently moved from Spokane, WA to Coeur d’ Alene, ID and I am loving it.  I’m a very outdoorsy person, so living in that area is ideal for me.  There is so much to do!  I love to hike, fish, hunt, ride 4 wheelers, boat, walk the trails… pretty much anything that gets me out of the house.
I live with my 14 year old daughter, my amazing boyfriend, his three kiddos (11, 9 & 5), and our two goofy dogs.  It’s a houseful!  But it’s awesome.  I love all the activity and commotion in our house.  It keeps me on my toes.
22.      What is your product? 
I sell unique, fun and funky jewelry mostly, but I dabble in many different things.  Besides jewelry, I am also currently selling small house wares like magnet sets and coasters made from bottle caps.  I love to repurpose – finding different treasures and making something new out of them.  The majority of items in the shop are repurposed, but not all.  I also have a section of painted brass jewelry, and love making jewelry and other items from Polymer Clay.
33.      How long have you been selling on Etsy?
This January will be 4 years.
44.      What do you like about your shop? What would you like to change?
When I was a bit younger, a poor and a single mom, I couldn’t afford a lot luxuries like jewelry.  And the kind of jewelry I enjoyed wearing was usually fun, unique, and wasn’t very affordable.  One of the reasons I got into repurposing was to keep my costs down.  I want everyone to be able to afford my work, so I try my hardest to find ways to keep my pieces as affordable as possible, using quality materials, and still “paying” myself for my work.  It’s something that I am very proud of.
If I had to change anything about my shop, it would to have more specific focus.  I would love to have the time to manage and stock two or three separate shops.  I would love to have one separate shop with just repurposed items, one shop with my painted brass jewelry, and maybe another shop with my polymer clay art.  And of course I would want to have 100-200 items in each shop.  However, I just don’t have that kind of time or energy.  I have a full time job on top of my Etsy shop, not to mention the time I devote to my family and my hobbies.  So instead my shop is just a big modge podge of craftiness, and I’ve come to accept that.
55.      How did you come up with your shop name?
When I create, I get in a zone.  When I’m finished with a project, it usually looks like a tornado hit my work space.  And what’s worse is I often work on several projects at once, so the mess can usually get a little out of hand… okay, A LOT out of hand.  And when I say “usually”, I mean “always”.
66.      What is your creative style? Is your work area neat and tidy or a disaster?
Messy, messy, oh so messy.  Hence the name.
77.      What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from everywhere, and will come to me at the craziest, most inopportune times... like in the middle of the night, at my day job or driving around town running errands. I can't control my creativity... It runs wild and free within me.  
88.      Do you have any advice to offer to your fellow team mates on how to be successful on Etsy?
You get out of it what you put in.  And don’t expect Etsy to help you get your product noticed.  They are just the marketplace.  If you want to get noticed in the marketplace, you have to find ways to stand out.  And if you happen to get a feature in the Etsy emails, or on the front page… It’s a bonus.  But you just can’t depend on it.  You have to put the work in.  

 I also asked Tera what her favorite shop on Etsy was, besides her own of course. She said this, "And as far as my favorite fellow etsy shop, I am a true believer in OrangeThyme's products.  Love Rachel and her shop! " 

Thank you Tera for sharing your story with us. Be sure to check out her shop, Creativity is Messy, you are sure to find something that puts a smile on your face. What better gift can you give than that?

Here a few of  Tera's creative products to enjoy in this treasury.