Thursday, March 24, 2011

Benele Bakery Featured Team Seller

Enjoy these treasuries we made for Rhonda, and get to know her in this little interview-

First, if you could tell the story of why you went glutenless, that would be great.

I went gluten free about a year and a half ago after 10 or years of health problems going undiagnosed by doctors. It was the start of my healing journey. Which I am still on :).

I think you were selling your mixes in shops before you came to Etsy, is that right?

I sold some baked goods before Etsy but not mixes. It was mostly by word of mouth.

Tell me about being invited to join Etsy.

My friend, Rachel (from the very successful Orange Thyme and Rachel323), thought my mixes would do well on Etsy. She urged me to open my shop and helped me a ton from getting started to photographs to questions, questions, and questions.

How has the Etsy experience been so far?

It has been great. I was a little obsessed at first watching my shop :). But now I have calmed down a bit about it! I still have very few sales, but I am hopeful it will pick up once I open back up.

Anything you want to share about your personal/family life?

My family is my life! I have an amazing husband who is my soul mate. He works hard so that I can stay at home with the kids. He is also writing a book and runs a website as well. {A little side note: if you were in the Spokane area in 1994, you may want to check out his website}. My son, Ben, is 7 and is a kind, funny, and brilliant boy. My Daughter, Eleanor, is 5 now and is a funny, beautiful, and brilliant princess. Tooting my own horn now! My kids amaze me and make me proud (and a little crazy) everyday.

What has been the most memorable feedback you have received on your products.

I haven't had a lot of feedback yet on Etsy. Baking for family and friends, they seem really impressed. I can make food taste really good, even without gluten! I think I can even fool gluten eaters with some of my recipes.

What should we be watching for in the future from Benele?

I have more mixes in the works. It takes a lot of time to create them since I am writing the recipes from scratch. I will not create a mix based on a recipe until it has been tested several times with great results! I would love to write a cookbook but the competition is pretty stiff right now in the gluten free cookbook arena.

Thanks so much for letting me be on this team. It has been a great experience!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Notes from Team Meeting on Marketing

Some of this will be review for many of you. If you are anything like me, sometimes you have to hear something a few times before you pick it up for yourself. There are a couple of new strategies here as well, so I hope this meeting had/has something for everyone.

When people talk about marketing online, they talk about inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Inbound is people coming to you.

Outbound is you paying to have placement, advertising in other words. First, we will talk about maximizing your inbound. Then, we can discuss finding the best place or places for you to do some outbound.

Obviously, the more inbound we have, the better because that is free. So let me walk you through some questions and exercises you will each need to consider to maximize your inbound marketing.

"Content" is an important concept to understand for marketing online. The internet is "content" driven.
 For our purposes in maximizing inbound marketing, we will define content as
anything you have online that can be useful or interesting to people - hopefully to the people who would buy your product.

Every item you list is "content." The fresher the content the better. This means you need to be continually creating new and different items. If you have best sellers, of course keep those too. Etsy runs on keeping things fresh and new. You can make your old items new with new descriptions and new photos.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your product as content:
Are you making something people already use?
Can they recognize it as such by the photograph?
Remember, art has a use, so I am not just talking about soap or teapots.
Are people already searching for your product online?
Check this by going to the google keyword tool
When you are at the keyword tool, type in words that describe your product to see how many people are searching for it on Google.
Use the tool to find the most searched words that describe your product and be sure to include those words as tags in your item listings.
 Use those words in your shop title and in your item
titles and descriptions.
So the point is- your items are content.
1. Determine if there is a need for your content.
2. Use keywords so your content can be found by the people who need it.
Here is the place you might need to get pretty specific about your ideal customer. For example, the search term travel bag is extremely popular and has something like 65 million possibilities. This means I am a pretty small fish swimming in a sea of choices. My duffles are pretty different from most of the choices, so I need to revamp my product titles to make them less generic and attract my specific customer.

I should take a second to tell you about your shop title.
If you go to your account, and then to shop settings, Info and Appearance, shop Info, title -
This is an important place in terms of online marketing that is frequently misunderstood.
Find a way to describe your shop succinctly that uses the major keywords that people are already using to find products like yours.
This is not a place for your shop name.
It is a place for you to describe what is found in your shop that is most likely to attract buyers.
You do not need to be extremely clever or have a tagline that people will hum while they wait for their toast to pop up in the morning.
 If you can be short, use the keywords and still be poetic or funny - great!
It is the keywords that are vital here. The first 30 characters is what google will see.
I took out a descriptive word in favor of a keyword to improve mine.

The next question is: what makes your product the one they should buy?
This is the question you answer in your product description.
Point out how yours is better, more valuable, a better deal, more useful, whatever it is that sets you apart.
If you have a reason they should buy it now, all the better.
Is it one of a kind? The last of a limited edition? Do they have an event they should have it for?
So that is your product as content.
Your photos as content.
We work hard to make our photos the best they can be.
They should be working for us.
Here are some ways other people might like to use your photos online to add to their content - 
Maybe they want to share them in a treasury. When they do, the potential is to reach the treasury makers sphere of influence and the Etsy community in general to some degree.
Let's talk about reaching a wider than Etsy sellers who like to promote one another.
How can your photos be used to reach the people who are looking to buy items like yours online?
Flickr is a place that gives anyone online easy access to your product photos.
From flickr, your photo could get picked up and added to google's image search.
From Flickr, a high traffic blog could find interest in your products and photos.
A high traffic blog who's readers are interested and buying products like yours is the ideal target market for you.
These people are always on the hunt for content.These are the kinds of blogs that run on a schedule of features and may have several authors.
So having awesome photos on Etsy and on Flickr makes you findable by these blogs.
A blogger may just want to illustrate a point they are making.
Or they may want to blog about your product, or the idea behind your product.
An author or magazine editor might ask you to use your photo in an upcoming publication.
With all this potential behind one photo sharing site, you want to optimize your use of it.
You do this by tagging your photos.
Try to think of all of the reasons someone would want to share your creation with the world, and use the tags.
Flickr does not allow selling on the site, so make sure you do not have any links to your Etsy shop. You can link to your Facebook page or to your blog. From those places people should be able to find your shop pretty easily.

Now I want to talk about blogging.
We need to look at blogging as a way to add useful content online that will attract an audience. The audience can also become buyers and attract other buyers to your shop.
You can be a source of your own content, and you can do something called crowd sourcing. First I will throw out some ideas on content you provide.
What kinds of questions do your buyers have that you can answer?
This is an important question. If you can become a source that people turn to with their questions and concerns, you win them over and they want to promote your business.
Do you have crafting tips?
Cooking tips or recipes?
Organizational tips or tricks?
Did you recently find a great source for something that might also be useful to your readers?
Did you meet someone special that your readers would love to hear about?
Did you figure out how to solve a problem they might have too?
Think about it a second. When you have any question at all from spelling to medical concerns to how-to's you go online for the answers, right?
So does everyone else.
Be there with answers on your blog. Answers that are relevant to your product or expertise.
This should be one aspect of your blog.
Realizing how huge this is, I have made it a goal to include one free project on my blog for every pattern I release, starting with this months release. I will be publishing a gym bag pattern and the free project on my blog will be the yoga mat carrying strap.
That goal is a little intimidating, but without goals, there is no progress.
Other content you provide on your blog...
Valerie and I both enjoy writing. Her creative writing is bound to attract an audience.
Her stories are set in time that is in sync with her products. Readers who enjoy her stories will also enjoy her bags.
I was cast in a show coming up on Mothers day - reading from my writings on motherhood that I originally did for my blog.
The timing will be great since I plan to launch my clothing shop in April - so of course I am planning what to wear and what to carry to the event.
Does that make sense how Valerie and I have expanded our audience and seized opportunities through creative writing on our blogs?
Books are another way that people connect. Publish your own book reviews and include an affiliate link to Amazon.
That way when your readers click and buy the book you recommend, you get paid.
If you are a magazine reader, you can certainly point out the great stuff in the current issues of your favorite magazines.
Seamstresses love pattern reviews.
Everyone love product reviews.
Can anyone think of other things you could review on your blog?
Crowd sourcing - this is the concept of allowing other peoples content a place on your blog.
Here are some crowd sourcing ideas.
I would include in this featured seller interviews.
It may take a little time to ask the questions and get the answers, but for the most part, it is like having someone else write the blog post for you.
Have a guest blogger.
Invite someone who interests you to write something for you to publish on your blog.
Post your favorite treasury of the week and say something about it.
If you go here:
and enter a seller name, you can pull up their treasuries and choose one to share very easily.
Link to other peoples tutorials and tell why you like it.
If you come across another blog that you think your readers may like, blog about it briefly and link them there.
One last thing to keep in mind to make your blogging count - tag your posts!
If you don't have relevant keywords as tags in your blog posts, they won't be found. So use tags on your blog that same way you do in your shop items and on your Flickr photos.
Okay so we have covered 3 ways to think about your content-
1. Your product
2. Your photos
3. Your blog
Number 4 is your video. This is a powerful tool.
If you are not already using this, I hope you have plans to use video to promote your business.
Etsy loves video!
Go here to get some ideas for videos you could do
You will see process videos, portrait videos, how-to videos, lifestyle videos...
My goal for this year is to make an awesome video and submit it to Etsy.
Anyone willing to commit to that goal for themselves in the next 12 months?
Active ways to promote your content:
Etsy makes our listings easy to share, so I won't cover promoting your listings per-se.
Promote your photos on flickr very simply by finding groups on Flickr that might like to see your photos - people who share your interests.
Add your photos to those groups.
Groups create wonderful pools of photos for authors and publishers to find what they need.
Promoting your blog content:
Make it easy to share.
If you don't already have a prominent link where people can click to share your blog content on twitter, facebook and other places, make sure you add that widget today!
Submit specific blog posts as possible content on other blogs.
Tutorials and recipes are popular for that type of sharing.
I have found hootsuite to be a valuable tool for sharing. I can link to my blog posts on twitter, facebook and linked-in simultaneously through hootsuite.
Anyone have questions or comments about sharing your blog content?
Sharing video would be similar to sharing blog posts.
I also want to briefly cover outbound marketing. This is also called advertising.
It will take some time, but if you have done your homework, and you have a product that people want online, you will have found those people who connect with your products.
In the course of doing all of the things we have talked about regarding content, you will meet the people who will lead you to your target market.
When you find the major places where your target market spends time online, you might want to advertise there.
If it is a blog that already sells advertising, you may want to ask for a small test before buying to see if your product resonates with their readers like you think it will. It can't hurt to ask.
Other than just letting it happen organically, you can actively seek the places that are having the conversations online that apply to your product.
Some ways to look:
1. Search Yahoo groups. Mommie groups if moms are your market. Professional women, nurses, vintage lovers...
If you join a Yahoo group, don't be spammy. Just participate in a meaningful way. You want people to trust you.
Watch for those people to lead you to blogs where you can effectively advertise.
2. Sign up for a google alert. Google can be working for you and doing searches all of the time, letting you know when a certain topic is mentioned online.
Of course you have google alerts set up to let you know if people mention you, but being more proactive, what about an alert letting you know if people are searching for authentic 1950's furniture, or whatever applies to your wares?
I just added several alerts. You can preview the results of your new alert before you decide to add it.
Try using your topic of expertise with the word question after it. So one of my new alerts is "sewing pattern question."
This way I can answer peoples questions directly as I get the alert, or at least see where they are posting their questions which may lead me to new places to advertise or participate.
3. Etsy's blog
Etsy frequently publishes great ways to promote yourself.
Some great reading here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

featured seller VintageUrbanCowgirl

Enjoy these treasuries we created for them, and get to know Brande and Amanda in this lovely interview: Visit them at VintageUrbanCowgirl

So can you tell me the first thing that you two created together when you were in highschool creating stuff?We began our business adventure in high school making large birdhouses to sell at local shows and give as gifts. They were really intricate and detailed. We salvaged door handles, pocket watches, vintage architecture and ceiling tiles to set them apart and show are creative side. We made birdhouses on and off for quite a few years, but materials got harder to find and they became to time consuming and expensive to create.

Do you each have a favorite vintage find you could talk about?
Brande: Through the years we have found so many unique items its hard to choose a favorite. Right now I have an extremely old set of vintage lockers. Twenty-four numbered wire baskets sit on a rusty, white shelving unit. It was a great find and a fabulous addition to my collection of vintage furniture!
Amanda: While digging through an old barn we came upon a large red bakers table. The top is rustic metal detailed with large brass brads. It opens to reveal sliding drawers and bins. "Spokane Bakery" is painted on the side which is why I love it so much. Its home grown and absolutely fabulous.

It seems you two are in harmony with one another. Is there anything you diagree about or something that sets you apart from one another dramatically?It really is amazing how long we have been friends and how few disagreements we have had. Having the same values and the same goals minimizes any arguments and the fact that we are completely open and honest with each other about everything from what to pay for a vintage item to how we should handle a situation with are kids. One of the things that keeps us close is the fact that we really have a ton of fun together. There is not a day that goes by that we do not break into hysterics over something!! We really can be are true selves, there is defiantly no faking who we are when we are with one another. We are both outgoing, spontaneous and love adventure. If there is one thing that sets us apart its Amanda's "by the book" attitude while Brande is more "just do it and we will figure out the details later". But we have balanced each other out for 23 years creating an amazing friendship and wonderful business relationship.

Brande, if you could give the perfect gift to Amanda, what would it be?. When I think about the last 23 years the one solid thing in my life, the person always standing beside me has been my BEST friend Amanda. Through junior high drama, high school boyfriends, college, pregnancy, marriage and divorce she has been my number one supporter. To try and come up with a gift to express my love, appreciation and thanks is nearly impossible. If I am being cheesy I would say I would give her a life free of worries and full of laughter. If I am being realistic I would buy her a new car. Hers may be paid off, but Lord knows she needs a new one!

And Amanda, what would you give Brande that would express your lifelong friendship to her?There is nothing in this world that I could give Brande that could truly express how much I adore her. Her friendship has blessed my life more than she could ever realize. I would want to give her a gift to express how she has influenced my life for the better. She has helped mold me into the person I am today. Her laughter, her smile and her wit could never be matched. There is not a day that goes by that she does not make me laugh until I pee. She never takes life to serious and is always up for any adventure life has to offer. I am truly blessed to have such a beautiful friendship.

Anything else you want to say or add?
We just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us for all these years. To our grandmothers and mothers: Not a salvaging day goes by that we do not discover something that reminds us of you! To our children: We promise we will not fill up the truck with junk and then try and find a place for all SIX of you to sit this garage sale season! To our friends: Thank you for supporting us and buying our stuff even when we went through are "awkward" stage! And to all our new friends and Eastern Washington team members on Etsy: Thank you for your patience and for inspiring us! Happy Trails!! Brande & Amanda

This picture is hilarious! Last summer on the way to the lake we could not resist hitting a few sales. In this car: Two adults, six kids, two dogs, backpacks, sleeping bags and coolers and a few wonderful finds: a metal bucket, vintage metal bed, a large wood bench and a few rusty door handles! Nothing beats a great sale :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Featured Seller Interview with Catherine Freshley

Enjoy these lovely treasuries we made for Catherine, and learn more about her below.

How was it that you came to Spokane from New Orleans?
I was living in New Orleans after graduating from Tulane University, where I got a degree in economics and English. Though I love the city, I was wanting to be closer to home, which is Portland, Ore. When my boyfriend found it he would be moving to Spokane for work, I was happy to come with him.

Are you adjusting to life in the Pacific Northwest?
I suppose I’ll take a very particular approach to this question. If I was from New Orleans, I would consider Spokane part of the Pacific Northwest. But since I am actually from Portland, there is not much “Pacific” about Spokane in my opinion! That said, I am really liking the “Inland Northwest” a lot and being back in the Northwest in general is great. However, I was just in New Orleans for a week and I remembered how much I love 70 degrees in March, among many other things.

Say something about your love of art, or your journey with regards to your art.
My parents are both very artistic so my sister and I grew up always doing art projects – stringing necklaces, making paper, drawing, painting, you name it. I have had a few lessons here and there but most of my learning has come from doing. I had a few other hobbies growing up, but art was the one that ran throughout.
I tend to go through phases, frequently changing the subject matter and media that is of the most interest to me. Right now – though not reflected very much in my Esty shop – I have been inspired by the beautiful landscapes of this area, of Willapa Bay in southwest Washington, and by some photos I took while driving here from New Orleans. I have long been interested in multiples and collage, which you see more of in my shop.

Can you tell me something about the direction you see yourself going from here with your art and or life.
Though I have always been making art, I had never tried to sell any until just over a year ago. I made the wood block collages that fill my Etsy shop. Though I haven’t yet had much success on Etsy, I was very successful selling these in New Orleans – at a market, in a gallery and to friends. The quick success I experienced was exciting and made me seriously consider the possibility of making money on art for the first time. At that point, I was working full time. Now I am only working part time and have been keeping very busy getting 15 large acrylic landscapes ready for a restaurant show at Picabu Bistro on the South Hill starting March 23rd. I am anxious to see if I am able to sell anything, which will help me determine if I should consider full time work again or if I should keep devoting so many hours to painting.

Any thing else you would like to say or tell us to help know you better?
I have always loved to bake but since graduating from college (almost two years ago) I have really been enjoying learning how to cook, which my boyfriend appreciates though he is quite a cook himself. I like to run and be outside and am looking forward to my first summer here. Spokane doesn’t have quite the music scene that New Orleans does, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find a few good live music venues. I love going out dancing.
Though I am not very good at participating on this team, I enjoy at least peripherally being a part of the camaraderie and reading everyone’s advice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Featured Seller last week DistinctlyIvy

Last week we all made treasuries to show off Ivy's beautiful jewelry. I just did a little belated interview with her to post here. Enjoy it after these lovely treasuries featuring DistinctlyIvy:

Tell me something you are passionate about and how that relates to your work.

I am passionate about being able to stay home with my kids in the future. I don't have kids now but hopefully we will in another couple of years and I want to be able to stay home with them like my Mom did with us. I believe this business will get me there!

Is there anything that frustrates you?

It frustrates me when I don't have that one charm or pendant that the customer wants. I might have it in red, but not blue. That frustrates me because I want to be able to give them what they want and make the sale but I just can't for whatever reason.

Is the Etsy community more or less than you expected it to be?

The Etsy community is way *more* than what I thought it would be. There are so many shops and so many buyers!! It's amazing though, how small it can be at the same time. For instance, my sister and a friend and I mentioned a shop we had individually found that sold the cutest headbands. Turns out we were talking about the same shop!! I guess that shows that even with all the shops, you can still make a name for yourself.

Can you share a piece of customer feedback with us?

My favorite piece of feedback: "Timely shipping. And it was even gift-wrapped!! Perfect as this is a birthday gift. I've never had this level of thoughtfulness!"

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I live in Spokane, WA and have been there for the last 10 years. I love that it doesn't rain like Portland but I'm not big on some of the super cold weather we get. :) All in all, though, it's one of the best cities... I love the people!! I have been married for 5 years and we have two kitties who are truly our kiddos right now. Our family is all in town which is so great. I absolutely *love* making jewelry; it is truly my passion.