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. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Interview with Michelle Boswell from Homemade Scents

A new weekly feature of the INW Team Blog is the interview. To start things off is Michelle Boswell from Homemade Scents. Her shop is a delightful collection of specialty candles and tarts, sure to warm your heart as well as your home.

1.      Tell us about yourself. Your ‘real’ name and shop name, where you live, do you have children, pets, married? Etc Michelle Boswell - Homemade Scents. I live in small town in northern Idaho called Lewiston. I am 42 years old and married with no children except the 2 dogs that might as well be my children.
2.      What is your product? I make highly scented candles and wax melts or tarts some call them. I use premium oils and a special blend of paraffin wax for extreme scent throw.
3.      How long have you been selling on Etsy? I have been selling on Etsy a little over 2 years now and have sold online and locally for the past 15 years approx.
4.      What do you like about your shop?  What I like about my shop is I am at peace while making candles and nothing else is on my mind except the creation I am working on and the excitement always builds up as I wait to see the finished product. Plus, smelling something good always makes me happy. What would you like to change? If I could change anything about my shop it would be my hours. I work a part time job and run my shop, so I would like to be in my shop full time so I could always be making new creations.
5.      How did you come up with your shop name?  My candle shop is inside my home and my candles and melts are all highly scented so I thought Homemade Scents was just perfect.
6.      What is your creative style? I like things with a lot of detail. Neatly done and made with love. Is your work area neat and tidy or a disaster? My work area is neat and tidy right until I step into it and start working. I try to keep it organized but if I am working on a order that requires several different scents, then it can become cluttered quickly with all the different bottles of oil for scents and colors and containers for pouring each candle or molds for my melts.
7.      What inspires you? My customer's wonderful comments about my product. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to hear the happiness in their words as they tell me what they think of my product.
8.      Do you have any advice to offer to your fellow team mates on how to be successful on Etsy? Love what you do and it will show in your work.
Thanks to Michelle for sharing her story with us, check out her shop
I bet you find something you like!
Here is a treasury full of Michelle's wonderful candles.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How To Have A Successful Craft Show

 It is that time of year when many of us will be packing up our handmade treasures and setting up our display booths at one of the many area craft shows or fairs. It may be the first time for some of you and others may be seasoned vendors. No matter what your experience, here are a few tips that may help you have a more successful event. Many of these tips came from the Etsy forum; others are from my own personal experience over the years. I hope you will read and add to this with your own tips. 
  •  Know your market. This may seem like a no brainer but it is essential to know who your market is (who buys what you make) and find shows that will bring in the most marketable customers. (If you sell toddler tutus, do not go to the gun show.) That means you also need to know what kind of customers the show brings in, how many and what they buy.  
  • Know the rules of the show you are attending. Do they supply signs and backdrops? Is there electricity? Do you need electricity? When can you set up and tear down. What is there policy on tearing down early? Most shows will not allow you to leave, before the show closes on the final day. If you do; you will most likely be removed from the vendor list for the future. Do they advertise? If so, how and where? How many vendors are there? How many vendors sell a similar product? Do you need to bring your own snacks and food? 
  •  Branding is very important. According to the article I read in Bruce Baker’s craft report, the modern day consumer is very much into brands. We all need to have a brand. Take a subjective look at your logo. Do you like it? If not, now is a good time to change it. If you do, promote it in every way you can. Add stickers with your brand to your bags, invoices, receipts etc. Make sure all of your promotional materials including business cards, receipts, invoices, letterhead, website and blog all have the same logo and look. Consistency is important. 
  •  Your display needs to reflect you and your product. It should be professional looking, uncluttered and well lit. Make sure it provides a functional place to complete a purchase. This includes writing the receipt, swiping the financial card, having room to write a check, wrapping the product and sending another happy customer on their way. If your product lends itself to live demonstration, that can be a huge advantage, but you must allow space for this. It is advisable to set up your display at home first, to work out any problems. Be creative in how you showcase your products. Think outside of the box for ways to display your merchandise. This may be using a Christmas tree to display jewelry items or customizing your tables with ways to add visual interest. Create ways to add different heights to your tables. If you are hanging items on a peg board or similar surface make it visually appealing. When you are done stand back and look at the booth with a critical eye. What catches your attention? Is it what you want customers to see? If not, change it. You have about thirty seconds to bring someone into your booth, capitalize on this and make your booth open and inviting. If at all possible, be eye level with your customers at all times. Do not sit while they are standing.
  •  Make sure your personal appearance makes the statement you want to make. You should look and act professional if you want potential customers to believe you are a professional with a product they need/want. SMILE A LOT!! Maintain a positive and friendly attitude no matter how sales are going. Nobody wants to buy from a grump. 
  •  Price all items. There is some discussion about this either way. Some say not pricing gives you the opportunity to start a conversation by saying; “if you find anything without a price just let me know.” The general consensus is most customers prefer to know the price of an item they are considering purchasing. As a customer I like to know what the cost of things are without asking. You may feel differently but if you find customers looking for a price but not asking, it is time to re-evaluate your position.
  •   Bring them in. Again you have about thirty seconds to bring someone in, everyone loves candy. Have a dish of individually wrapped candy or suckers in your booth. It may make someone stop long enough to actually take a look at what you have. Hint…the kids always spot the candy first. Offer a give-away or drawing to bring people in. Personally I have a drawing for $50 in free merchandise at every show. I have slips that are filled out with customer name, phone number and email address. I tell them up front I am offering a give-away, if you would like to be added to my mailing list and invited to my open house the first weekend in December, give me your email address as well, if not, then don’t. It will not impact your odds of winning. I have added a substantial amount of customers to my open house with this method.
  •   DO NOT be pushy. Greeting everyone with a “Good Morning, etc” is fine but some customers prefer to be left alone. Greet, wait for them to initiate conversation, react. Please fight the urge to tell them everything about all of your wonderful products. You will sell more by saying less. 
  • Be prepared. Honestly this is one of the most important aspects of a successful show. Prepare a list of everything you will need. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what is crucial. Start a list early and jot down everything you will need. Put all of these items in one place. I personally use a bin for this. You may use a bag, a box etc. You will never appreciate the function scissors perform until you don’t have any. Have an adequate supply of business cards and pass them out like Hershey kisses. Make sure you have change for your cash customers. Many people still come to these events expecting to write a check or pay cash. Be prepared for both.
  •   Take credit cards. This is very important. If you do not have a smart phone or some other way of taking financial cards, you are at a serious disadvantage in this market place. You will find that being able to accept cards will positively impact your sales. There are so many companies now that offer this service. I personally have the Square and absolutely love it. You may have other providers you like. The important thing here is you really do have to enter the 21st Century and take financial cards to make your business grow. 
  •  Take care of yourself! Bring water and drink it. Bring snacks and eat. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be on your feet a lot. Protect your personal belongings. Do not keep your purse in open sight. I have not had problems with theft but in larger cities this is a real problem. Protect yourself, be smart and savvy.
  •   This last one is something I honestly had not thought about. But the forum really had a lot of posts about not eating in your booth. Perhaps this is a locality thing and in some parts of the country it is just not cool. Or perhaps it just never occurred to me that I was expected to go an entire day without eating, ever, in front of a potential customer. Either way this was a tip that was brought up a lot so I am passing it on. Do not eat in your booth. Ever!! Or, not.
 Here are some links that I found while researching this article that could be beneficial to you growing your business! The crafts report is full of lots of valuable marketing information. If you hover over the ‘articles’ tab, then ‘craft business’ and click on ‘show basics’ there is a lot of information on marketing your products to the best potential.

I am sure you have other tips that have proven successful for you and your business. Please post those so we can all benefit from each others experience. Happy Sales!