Friday, January 29, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: The Selling Lounge

I found out about The Selling Lounge from Cafe Handmade user and fellow environmentally-conscious artisan Diana. (Click her name to be taken to her website.)  It's described by the operators as a "peer support" network where artisans are able to promote themselves by promoting others.  It's also a good resource for learning more about important topics like advertising, social networking sites, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Membership to the forum is free (my favorite price!) and must be approved by the administrator before your account becomes active.  The approval requirement is not likely to be a hinderance to anyone, as I found myself approved within 30 minutes.  Now it is important to note that unlike other tools I have reviewed in the past, this website is NOT specifically for handmade goods and artists.  Any online shop owners are welcome as long as their products are family friendly (PG).  This may be ideal for those who sell both on handmade venues and on an auction site like eBay or a sales site like Zazzle.  Why might I recommend checking out this forum for those who are only on handmade venues?

Reason #1: Store Directory - This forum offers a free directory that uses keywords, links, and descriptions to allow members to provide information about their online stores in a format that is Google/search engine-friendly.  This is a free way to promote yourself and potentially increase your rank in online searches.

Reason #2: Link Exchange Opportunities - If you find someone else whose site attracts visitors that would be interested in the products you sell, you can get free advertising by adding their advertising banner to your site/shop/blog.  In return, they add your advertising banner to their website, driving traffic to you.  You'll want to do this with some discretion because otherwise you won't see much of a traffic increase.  What I mean is that if you sell crocheted scarves, you may be more successful in driving traffic when you do a banner exchange with a jewelry maker than with a graphic designer.

You also want to build up a reputation for reliability on your website just like you want build up your credibility on Twitter.  Your readers/site viewers should know that when they click on a banner on your site that it's going to be a site you've at least reviewed and decided is appropriate to post.  Do not ever do a link exchange with someone whose site you've never visited!  Your customers will most likely see your promotion of another person's site, even just via banner ad, as an endorsement.  Just take care with who you choose to exchange with and make sure their style, language, graphics, products, etc. are going to be something you can reasonably support and that won't shock and offend your customers.  (i.e. If you run a family-friendly children's clothing webstore, you may want to browse the other person's site - otherwise, for all you know they could be constantly dropping f-bombs in their blog or selling adult-themed items.  Adult sites aren't welcome on the Selling Exchange, but it's your responsibility who you link to, not theirs!)

Reason #3: SEO Information - There is a plethora of information in the forums about keywords and how to optimize yourself for ranking on search engines.  This is absolutely crucial information for anyone that wants to be picked up by Google by customers searching for products to buy.  A huge number of people are going to find your Zibbet or Artfire shop by searching for the product they want on a search engine and not on or  You need to be an SEO guru to make sure that your products are listed high in the results.  If you have no or little idea of what I'm talking about here or you think you could improve your optimization at all by getting tips from others, this section of the forum deserves a once-over (thrice-over?)

Reason #4: Blogging Information - If you're reading this post you clearly know what a blog entry is.  You're also most likely someone who's interested in why it and other online activities can be good for your business.  If you'd like an index of articles and comments about why blogging can be such a beneficial part of generating traffic to your site and exactly how you can use blogging for increasing your sales, there is a forum section dedicated to that.

Clearly, this site has tons to offer.  There are some small things I dislike about the site though.  At first glance I found the format to be a little overwhelming. Because it's a forum site, there is a great deal of text displayed all over the homepage and on the forum index which can be a little intimidating when you're trying to scan for information. There is just an incredible amount of information and it can't be digested all in one sitting.  The site also uses BBCode which not favorite forum formats because of its appearance and user-ability (not a word, I know but you get my point.)  The main thing I think that some will not like about this site though is that it is not limited to the same type of sellers you will find on an Etsy-esque venue.  If you're only interested in promoting handmade, vintage, and/or craft supplies, you'll need to be absolutely clear that there is a lot of online seller diversity when deciding whether or not this site is right for you.

Reason #5 - Now to my favorite part!  The absolute best part of this website is the community.  Everyone I've spoken with has offered helpful advice, warm welcoming messages, and even Twitter and Facebook follows.  I'd give this site some serious consideration if you're interested in networking because everyone there seems to be ready and willing to participate in building the community.  There are monthly contests, blog features, a newsletter, and other promotion opportunities I haven't even touched on here.

*NOTE: The site is called the Selling Lounge.  Don't be dense like me and google The Seller Lounge as you'll get a marketing website and a bunch of complaints about how it's a scam.  I don't want my readers signing up for the wrong thing!*

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

To my favorite people in the world...

Thank you all so much for reading and commenting on my blog.  As you know, I read and respond to every comment and there's nothing more I enjoy than conversing with you.  However, today was sort of the last straw for me personally.  I'm having some issues that need to be dealt with right away and so I'm taking some time away from my shops.  I am leaving all of my items listed, but I won't be working on any promoting or anything in order to focus on my life.  I'm also not going to be able to update the blog.  I'm really hoping that I can get the most major problems resolved within the next couple of days and be back to posting as usual.  I can't guarantee this though, which is why I decided it would be appropriate to post this message.  I hope that you all will stay subscribed so that we can still connect when I return.  Thanks so much for your support!

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I've Been Spotted! Hotlist: IndieSpotting

I've been checking the website for what felt like days and days and I've finally been selected on IndieSpotting!  Go, click, view the front page before my fabric flower gets moved to page 2 to make room for new finds!

My fabric flower is not Valentine's Day specific like many of the other entries on the front page, but it was selected anyway and I couldn't be more thrilled!  Because of this, I've decided to do a special Tuesday edition of my EB Hotlist and give you guys all the scoop on IndieSpotting.  Yup, that's right.  Get excited! ;)

If you've checked out my previous post on CraftGawker and their gallery of handmade items you're going to already be familiar with the IndieSpotting concept.  (Keep reading anyway though.  You'll want to hear the site-specific features.)  Artisans are allowed to submit photos of their work with direct links to the product.  Then IndieSpotting staff reviews the submissions and posts the ones they feel are of the best quality.  According to their website, the reasons most photos are rejected are because of:
  • Improper exposure (too dark, blown out, etc.)
  • Lighting (color cast, harsh shadows)
  • Poor resolution or distortion
  • Out of focus
  • The photo is smaller than 200px square
  • The photo doesn't appear at the link provided
  • The photo contains distracting text or a watermark
  • The link provided is dead or incorrect
  • Your item sold out or your shop is closed
  • The item has already been featured
Fans of handmade can submit products from other people but are required to give appropriate attribution.  If your products are listed on the site and you don't want them to be, you can just ask to have them taken down.  I'm not sure why you'd do this though because having your items in the gallery equals free exposure for your business and allows you to connect with people you may not have otherwise reached.  Over 5000 people subscribe to the twitter feed, they're the #1 Google result for "indie handmade finds" and front page for "handmade finds" so I would assume that their website receives quite a bit of traffic.

Once your photo has been accepted, it is featured in the gallery on the front page.  When people click on your photo, they're taken directly to that listing in your shop.  This increases your traffic and allows your target buyers to purchase that item and/or browse the rest of your store for similarly styled products.  On a regular basis (usually daily) the site is updated with fresh finds on the front page.  Not having photos added on a continual basis throughout the day allows for prolonged front page exposure for those who have just been accepted.  Right now there are 56 pages in the IndieSpotting gallery which means that your photos also don't just drop off into complete obscurity as soon as they move from the front page.  The same can't be said of some other front pages, like Etsy for example.

If you make soaps, beauty products, or other replicable items, pay attention to this part.  When you go to, you're actually viewing a portion of a larger website called  They've got a much more in-depth submission form on the main site, but it's worth taking the time to fill everything out.  No one-of-a-kind items are accepted.  You can highlight your promotions and/or charitable giving (if applicable) and you can even submit non-returnable samples to their staff for a chance to get a huge Editor's Pick feature at the top of the front page:

There's also plenty of space for advertisement if you want to place a paid ad with them.  You'll need to contact them to find out their ad prices.  I generally stick with sites that use Project Wonderful, but if you have the budget you may want to consider requesting a media kit from here.  You can also list yourself in the ShoppingByMail directory for $25/year or in a Holiday Gift Guide for $5.  I missed the deadline for the Valentine's Day guide by a couple of days because I had to wait on my paycheck (yes, I'm a bit brokish) so unfortunately I can't review that feature for you from a seller's point of view.  If you're on IndieSpotting and go to the bottom right corner, you'll see a graphic to connect you to the guide:

There's only one page of items displayed so participating in these guides may be a way to increase traffic to your shop.  If this feature is any indicator for future guides, they will be available on the site for a month.  $5 for 1 month is thrifty enough even for me (well, most months)!  There are other opportunities via IndieSpotting and MyShoppingConnection to be featured, to have your work displayed, or to view fashion trends so be sure to explore the "Reading" tab on the MyShoppingConnection page for more information.

If you're a consumer of handmade, these sites are relatively easy to browse.  There is a lot of content and there are advertisements on both sides of the page at MyShoppingConnection, but you'll find a lot of great products listed there and links to the ones at IndieSpotting.  IndieSpotting is much more streamlined and trendy looking and can be fun to browse when you have time just to click through the pictures and see what grabs you.

Have you been spotted or featured at IndieSpotting?  Have you purchased something you've seen on IndieSpotting or MyShopping Connection?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

*P.S. The picture that got featured here on IndieSpotting was rejected by CraftGawker for being, and I quote, "dull/unsharp."  Dull?  Ouch!  While submitting photos and hearing rejection is not fun, don't give up if your first submissions don't make it through.  Keep taking pictures and submit your best work, preferably to more than one website.  What one staff team may not like, another may decide to feature!*

Monday, January 18, 2010

Do You Zibbet? The Top 5 Reasons I'm a Zibbeter

Zibbet is an online marketplace where I've chosen to set up shop to be a part of what I hope will be their eventual success.  They are a small but growing venue and everyone has to start somewhere - myself included!  I've decided I'd rather keep my handmade magnets listed separate from my jewelry and in order to do that I set up shop at  These are the top 5 reasons I chose to experiment with selling on Zibbet:

1. Cost: Overhead costs are important to consider when setting up a business.  If you're not making anything, you probably don't have a lot to shell out upfront.  Zibbet offers a basic membership for free that includes 25 listings and absolutely no seller's fees after an item is sold.  There is also an option for a pro membership with additional features that's only $7/month for those who sign on during its beta/infancy stage.  We all know I'm all about the inexpensive and free tools and this seems to fit the bill!  (See the underlining in the image below for some of my favorite tools and check out for more detailed information.)

2. Newness: There are pros and cons to this point so weigh them for yourself and see what you think.  Sites like Etsy are so difficult for new sellers to get noticed unless you're selling a product that virtually no one else is selling.  For someone like me whose primary products are jewelry and accessories, it's extremely competitive.  Since Zibbet is a newer site, it's easier for your items to be found among the listed products - it's like buyers are searching for your products in a lake instead of an ocean, if that makes any sense.  The downside?  There are more people who know about Etsy than who know about Zibbet so the traffic to Etsy's site in general is higher.  I think this can be overcome though by putting forth the effort to promote.  Etsy's features like forums and teams are also already established.  (I do want to note though that they are ahead of ArtFire right now with respect to the shop rearranging feature.)  I'm staying connected with Zibbet staff via annoucements, emails back and forth (some personal, some not), and conversations on Twitter and I will be evaluating the features they roll out in 2010.  If you're not ready to sign up with them and watch the unrolling of new features for yourself, stay tuned and I'll let you know what I think of them!  (As you know, I'm never shy of an opinion!)


3.  Ease: It's very easy to set up shop.  It's not quite as concise as ArtFire's one page listing system but it's certainly a faster process than listing on Etsy.  It's nice to be able to upload all of your pictures at once and to preview what your listing's thumbnail will be before you go live with it.  I hear that there is an import feature in the works as well.  Zibbet makes it pretty easy to see your listings, stats, and sales all in one place.  It seems to be seller-friendly in that respect.

4. Community: So far, Zibbeters have been communicating off-site via a Zibbet Ning community.  The community seems to be generally pleasant, supportive of each other, and interested in networking.

5. Staff: Yesterday there was a bug in the system that incorrectly informed a whole lot of us that our accounts were past-due and that we needed to pay up to unfreeze our accounts.  While this upset me at the time, the staff reacted quickly and had apologized to me via "form" email, Twitter, and a personal email within a few hours.  I appreciated this kind of personal service and it made me more comfortable about dealing with them in the future.  Any new site is going to have glitches (well, established ones will too) - it's not if, but when.  It's how they deal with those bugs that determines whether or not they're going to be easy to work with when something goes awry.  The staff is also very open to suggestions and constructive criticism and is willing to promote individual sellers and products when given the opportunity.  For example, when I've tweeted about my magnets, they've RTed (retweeted) my messages to their followers.  There is an opportunity for sellers to get featured on the site, which will likely increase in visibility now that they're unrolling a weekly email feature.  The staff truly seem like a great bunch of folks who genuinely care about the success of the community and I really hope their venue takes off if for no other reason.

Now I have heard that there are problems with the Zibbet check-out process that they are working through as you're reading this.  So far I haven't purchased anything from there, but I will let you know what I find out in terms of that process.  In the meantime, check out the site, visit my shop, and let me know what you think in the comments.  I'd especially love to hear about your experiences if you are/were a seller or shopper there.

I've just found out while writing this entry that they're offering a free 30 day Premium trial so if you're interested in Zibbet, set up an account and upgrade using the coupon code 30FORFREE.  Be sure to tell them Elle sent you!  (No I'm not asking you to email them and tell them I referred you, though that would be kind of cool.  What I really mean is, if you sign up for Premium membership via my referral link it helps give me credit towards eventually one day having a free account - so help a sister out and if you sign up for one, please do it via  Then contact me to let me know so I can feature your new premium Zibbet shop on my blog and let my tweeps know you're open for business!)

*I also want to note here for artisans that it's VERY important not to put all of your eggs in one basket - or to be more clear and less cliche, it's always better to have at least two venues you use for selling your wares.  This can be your own website complete with a shopping cart and items listings plus an online marketplace or it can be two marketplaces (or more).  This is important because you can never anticipate what's going to happen with a particular venue and you don't want your business to tank because you temporarily lost all of your selling ability.  For example, quite a few people lost their eBay power seller accounts at the end of 2009 because of flagged listings on (a sister site).  At least one or two people reported losing thousands of listings.  You want to make sure that you have products on different sites in case for some reason, legitimate or not, your account is suspended, the website crashes, the site owners run out of capital and have to shut down, etc.  It's better to be safe and diversify than lose your customer base because they can't get to your products!  Setting up shop in a site like Zibbet that offers a basic account with no fees can be a way to do this without any additional cost to you.  Keep this in mind when shopping around for the best venues to meet your needs!*

Until next time,

Friday, January 15, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Totally Tutorials

This week I'm featuring a fellow blogger, Dotty at Totally Tutorials.  This blog is exactly like it sounds - jam packed full of interesting tutorials for artisans and fans of creativity to try for themselves.  No matter what kind of crafts you make, Dotty's sure to have a tutorial you haven't seen yet!

Totally Tutorials is a great site for two reasons.  The first is obvious - you can learn a lot of great new ideas from there!  Originality is never completely original.  We're all inspired by something or someone which we interpret in our own way when we make our crafts.  Just flipping through the pages here can spark an idea that you may be able to incorporate in your current work or tempt you do something new.  All of the tutorials are submitted with the understanding that artisans may use them to create their own works for sale.  Putting your own spin on something posted there may be just what you need to jump-start or reinvigorate your stock!

The second reason Totally Tutorials should be your go-to site for crafty ideas?  You can get free exposure just for participating in a Tutorial Exchange!  Dotty doesn't create all of these on her own - supply sellers and handmade artisans are brought together to make these tutorials happen.  The supply seller...well...provides the supplies.  I guess that was obvious! :) The artisan then uses them to create a unique tutorial which is uploaded to and featured on the Totally Tutorials popular blog site, viewed by hundreds of people per day.  Dotty details the benefits of this exchange and how it will get you exposure as either an artisan or a supplier:

Whether you make your crafts for profit, you're looking for a new hobby, or you want to get more exposure as a supplier to the handmade community, Totally Tutorials can be a site that will meet your needs.  Be sure to check it out and let me know if you try anything from the site!

Know of any other great tutorial directories or exchanges?  Post them in the comments!  Feel free to link to your own tutorials as well!

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pay It Forward - A Positive Trend in Online Crafting Communities

Here are two facts you may not be aware of:

1. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and a depression that cripples my ability to function normally.

2. When you see "PIF" on a for-sale listing, it means "Pay It Foward."

What do these two facts have to do with each other?  Because of the mental battle that plays out for me every day, I'm always seeking to find positivity with which I can surround myself.  It's the reason I started crafting and networking in the first place and it's the main reason I'm so excited about PIF!  If you haven't seen the movie or heard the expression before, to pay it forward means to perform an act of out-of-the-ordinary kindness because such a gesture has been extended to you.  According to my good friend Wikipedia, it is to "ask that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead" (see article) and the concept as we understand it has been used at least since Ben Franklin's day.  By paying it forward, one is allowed to multiply the impact of a single act of kindness.

Paying it forward is a trend that seems to be popular on artisan marketplaces.  An artist creates a listing for craft supplies or a product they've made and labels it as "PIF."  If there is a listing fee, the artist then only charges the minimal amount necessary to cover the price of listing the item(s) and the shipping fees (if desired).  For example, on Etsy PIF items sell for only 20 cents, which covers the marketplace listing fee.  On Artfire, since no listing costs are ever incurred, PIF items generally vary between 20 and 50 cents.  Unless the items the artisan lists were obtained free of charge, they're selling them to the general public at a loss.  The whole idea is to benefit or "bless" someone with something of value for less than the price it's worth.  Generally, the listing will specify that the purchaser must pay this generosity forward by listing their own PIF item or by performing an act of kindness to someone they come across.  If this promise that the seller agrees to by purchasing the item is followed through on, the goodwill of one person has been multiplied to at least two others.  It's truly uplifting to me to see the handmade community embracing this concept and spreading it to fellow artisans and consumers alike.

In the spirit of PIF, I've decided to participate by listing my destash as pay it forward items.  I have multiples of jewelry findings and beads that I've used in different pieces but don't desire to use in the future.  I'm going to pass these along to others via PIF and hope that I can contribute to its impact.  I'm not a spiritual person, but I do believe that what one puts out in the universe is often what one receives back.  I'm hoping that putting out some positive vibes in the universe will ultimately benefit both others and myself.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Scrap Exchange in Durham and an EB Update

This weekend I discovered my new favorite store, the Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC.  It was recommended to me by a fabulous tweep (Twitter + peep) that goes by the username BlueCuddlyDes.  I got incredibly lost on the way there (Google Maps is not omniscient and I got the wrong telephone number from Verizon 411 twice before I realized it was on my directions printout). It was definitely worth every wrong turn though.

Essentially, this store is a gold mine for crafters.  They have just about anything and everything you can think of, including vintage magazines circa 1970, rolls and scraps of fabric, ribbons, glass odds and ends, test tubes, old trophies, vinyl records, etc.  The list goes on and on.  I wish I had taken my camera so you all who are unfamiliar with this store could see how it looks, but I only had my cell phone and this one doesn't have a USB cable like my phone that's at the repair shop.  (By the way if you know where I can get a cheap one for a Motorala Two Way, please contact me immediately!)  Anyway, there is a large selection of items in large blue bins including bottle caps and lids, old floppy disks, empty VHS boxes, plastic tubing, old neckties, etc. which you can put into different sized bags.  Each bin is labeled with a bag limit (i.e. 2 scraps of vinyl fabric per bag, 10 lids per bag, etc.).  You fill the bag with as many items as you can cram in there and as long as it still zips closed and you only pay a flat fee.  I purchased a TON of fabric, metal whatchamacallits, glass and plastic boxes, bottle caps, tubes, flowers, painted pinecones, stickers, cards, photos, and other materials for less than $15:

13 in x 8 1/2 in x 5 in bags

 The rest of my finds that weren't eligible for the flat rate bags

So what's the best part about this great find?  Everything in the store (besides a few items like the store labeled t-shirts) was donated by someone else.  That means that it's the perfect place to find supplies for upcycling projects.  You're able to purchase someone else's "trash" and turn it into a brand new treasure.  Check out some of what I crafted this weekend:

 Funky Fabric Flowers coming soon to Etsy!

This shop is going to be a great resource for fulfilling my resolution to create more upcycled crafts this year.  Have you been to the Scrap Exchange or a similar store?  Have you upcycled anything fun or found any great green finds this week?  Post your crafting experiences and fresh finds in the comments!

EB Update: I'm redoing my Etsy shop to focus it on my vintage and other thrift store finds.  I think I am going to focus my funky, modern jewelry in my Artfire shop to give the two shops distinctive character.  Stay tuned for a new look and a new feel that will hopefully revitalize both shops!

Until next time,

Friday, January 8, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Craftgawker

I found out about Craftgawker for the first time this week through the ArtFire forums. This site is a gem to be bookmarked by crafters and shoppers alike.

The very first thing that should hit you in the face when you arrive at their website is the sheer professionalism of their photos:

These photos weren't necessarily taken by professional photographers though - each item was submitted by an artisan or fan like yourself.

Craftgawker is a great resource for artisans for several reasons. First and foremost, the site is juried. The staff takes two days from the time you submit a photo to actually get back to you on whether or not your item and link are going to be accepted. They have strict guidelines they adhere to about the lighting, contrast, focus, size, and other artistic aspects of your photo to make sure that their pages are held to a higher standard than the sites on which you can purchase these items. What that means for you and me is that Craftgawker is a measuring stick. Compare your photos to those on Craftgawker by using the Etsy Poster Sketch Tool or by submitting a photo to the site (you'll need an account to do so).  If your submission is rejected, the Craftgawker crew promises to let you know which error is the most egregious with your photo:

- Poor presentation/composition
- Poor lighting/exposure/color balance
- Etc.


While rejection is never fun, if you are rejected you're able to learn what it is you need to improve in your photography and that can in turn lead to more item views and more sales.  The second thing that Craftgawker does for artisans is the most obvious - for those who are able to get their submissions past the lords of photograhy, it provides an attractive venue for free publicity.  Anyone who reads my blog knows by now that I value inexpensive ways to promote one's work and a free feature is one of the best ways to do that.  Craftgawker takes so long to approve submissions because they want to allow the most recent ones the longest possible time on the front pages.  (Please note that even though their site promises you two submissions at a time, they're currently only allowing one pending submission - make sure you put prioritize your entries!)

Now, while the EB Friday Hotlist is really geared towards artisans, I do know that many that may come across these blog pages are suppliers, vintage resellers, or just plain consumers.  Why should you care about Craftgawker?  Simply put, it's a pictorial catalog of some of the freshest indie finds around from candles to pottery to needlecraft to woodworking.  There are items designed to meet the needs of men, women, and children with many different style preferences.  Each photo includes a brief description of the product.  When clicked on, you're taken to that item's sale page (or, as is often the case, a message telling you the item has sold with a link to other items from that particular artisan).  Between their category list at the very bottom of the page and the search function at the very top, you're bound to find whatever product you're looking for if it's available.  (Not to mention their sister site Foodgawker has fantastic recipes with food items photographed in the same style - I "veganized" a fantastic spicy sausage dip recipe from there last night...)

Have your items been accepted by Craftgawker?  Link to them or describe your products in the comments!  Found something original, creative, or otherwise awesome from Craftgawker or Foodgawker?  Pass it along to the rest of us (after you've purchased it, of course - I wouldn't want your great find to be sold out before you have a chance to buy!).

Until next time,

Have a website you'd like featured in the EB Friday Hotlist?  Curious about an online artisan resource but want someone else to try it out first?  Have something unique, environmentally-friendly, and economical that you'd like featured in one of my posts?  Want to link to one of my posts or have me guest blog on your site? Email me at elles.beads [at] and send me all the pertinent information!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't Just Recycle, Upcycle!

This is a great mantra for both crafters and consumers alike.  Are you familiar with the term upcycle?  Read all about it here:  To me, upcycling means taking used items and creating something new from them.  Some people have been doing this for years before the term became popular by making purses from jeans they outgrew and making quilts out of fabric scraps.  With "going green" as a huge trend in popular culture today, it's more fashionable than ever to upcycle.  Keeping items out of the landfil not only benefits the environment but it helps keep money in your pocket.

A trend in emerging virtual marketplaces is to include artisans that sell the "green," upcycled products.  Their customers are those who want to support the handmade and/or environmental movements.  The second most popular trend on ArtFire according to the ArtFire homepage is that of green products.  These are some of my favorites:

My ArtFire Hotlist: Uniquely Upcycled

    (Image copyrighted by Mojo)

(Image copyrighted by jhkeditions)

(Image copyrighted by ThreeRingCircuits)

(Image copyrighted by wearwolfs)

(Image copyrighted by CDChilds)

My ArtFire Hotlist: Green and Sexy
(Disclaimer: Sexy as in awesome not as in sexual, 'kay? Sorry!)

(Image copyrighted by Moonflowerpads)

(Image copyrighted by holisticallyheather)

(Image copyrighted by Mayleesgarden)


For more green and upcycled items, visit  What am I hoping you'll take away from this post?  Scroll up and look at the items again.  Each one of them is $20 or less plus shipping.  That means you can shop green without breaking the bank - my kind of shopping!  You can find both practical and fun products in an infinite number of styles, scents, and flavors.

One of my goals this year is to make more items out of recycled goods.  Check out my upcycled bottle cap magnets on Zibbet:  Do you have upcycled products that you sell?  Any you've seen on virtual marketplaces that you just have to have?  Post a link or a description in the comments!

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jewel It Out! - Mini Jeweled Boxes Tutorial

I hadn't posted a video  in a while so I wanted to make sure I did this week.  YouTube hasn't finished processing my tutorial vid as of the time of this post but hopefully it will be up and running soon.  This tutorial is fun, easy, and best of all cheap!  Who says you can't make great gifts on a budget?  Make a bunch of these for about $.60 to $1 a pop and give them out for Valentine's Day or resell them in your shop!  Experiment with rhinestones, different types of beads, or anything else you can think of!  Happy Crafting!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Promoting on a Budget: Get Featured on Top Handmade Creations of the Week!

If you've seen my blog post Branding Your Blog on a Budget, you know I'm all about free and cheap business tools.  If you've read anything from my EB Friday Hotlist series, you also know that I regularly blog about different websites and services that are designed and/or utilized by handmade artisans to improve their businesses.  One important key to remember is that commerical websites are not the only ones offering great services to artisans.  Fellow bloggers are a great resource for promoting your items and getting yourself noticed by a different group of readers than you already have in your blog's following.

One blogger you should add to your subscription list, whether you're an artisan or a buyer of handmade, is Creations With Heart.  Julie maintains a list entitled "Top Handmade Creations of the Week" where artisans can have their items featured in a beautiful graphic display on her blog.  My "Orange Leaves" earrings made with round earring findings and bright glass charms are being featured this week (lower right-hand corner):

Week of January 4, 2009

Getting yourself featured is as simple as leaving a comment on her blog and waiting to find out if you've been selected.  Doing this immediately connects your product with her 70+ subscribers, plus her Twitter followers, ning community members, and showcase viewers.  Take advantage of your social media connections and learn how to cross-promote and get featured whenever possible.  Doing this will increase the number of visitors to your shop and, hopefully, the number of sales. 

(NOTE: Buyers of handmade can also benefit by checking out this and other blogs in order to find out what hot new products are available in shops that they may not otherwise find.)

Do you know of any other great sites on which artisans can be featured?  Leave a link to them in the comments!  Also, let us know if any of your promotional efforts via other artisans' blogs have translated into a sale for you!

Until next time,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Weekly Treasures: I'm featured in an Etsy Treasury!

Today started off supremely poorly with me barely able to stay awake on the drive home from my parents' and my undesired rendezvous with a State Trooper (who I didn't even see until it was too late because I was 1/4 of a mile from my exit and focusing on getting home safely - and quickly!).  Needless to say, I was in a really bad mood by the time I got home but an email from fellow Etsian Yaara Netzer, whose lilac stockings I featured in my treasury here, definitely put a smile on my face.  Over the weekend, she featured me on her treasury "The sky is blue."  Check out the screenshot here:

My item is the blue pearl set in the bottom-center.  I'm super stoked to be featured in a treasury for the first time!  Treasuries do expire so I'll link to the blue pearl set below for those who read this after tomorrow morning:

Many thanks to Yaara for featuring my item. Do you use the treasury feature to promote others you like?  Why or why not?  Have you made a sale from being featured in a treasury?  Let us know in the comments!

Until next time,

Friday, January 1, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: SoopSee

I hadn't heard of SoopSee until this week when I joined, but it's a very interesting resource for artisans.  Currently they only support Etsy, but essentially the site links your shop, blog, and twitter all on one webpage.

Basic accounts are free and you are able to customize your page based on several different layouts.  This is what my page looked like at first when I signed in and viewed it:

As you may have noticed if you clicked on the image to zoom in, there was a notice at the top of my page about Pro accounts.  Apparently I wasn't too adept at understanding the difference between Pro and Basic accounts.  To me, SoopSee's one flaw is it's current lack of available layouts.  If you want more than a very simplistic web design, you need to be a Pro member.

Currently the Basic layouts are just too basic for me.  My advice to anyone trying out SoopSee at a basic level is to make sure that you select a non-Pro layout - the system will not prevent you from selecting the wrong type on your own.  Let me show you what I mean.  This is what my SoopSee page looks like with the "Green Ribbon" layout in my browser when I'm not signed in:

Gross, right?  This is the Basic black and white theme entitled "Simple" and it doesn't match my brand image at all!  So this is my one criticism: I have no problems paying for advanced features, including special layouts, but I feel like the site would have much more value to Basic users if they were able to have more control over the look and feel of their site.  The good news?  I fully expect this to occur in the future as SoopSee promises on the layout selection page that they will be uploading more layouts than the 2 Pro and 6 Basic that are currently available.  I would not want to discourage anyone from trying a Basic account based on the lack of available themes since there are additional ones in the works.

I changed my site's theme today to "Rustic White," which is a plain but much better look for my site than "Simple":

Let's move on from the layout issue.  Now my favorite SoopSee feature has to be the statistics.  You're able to see who has "hearted" your Etsy shop and when as well as monitor your views.  The stats page even tells you how much your shop is worth based on the prices of the items you've listed:

I don't currently use another site for monitoring statistics so I will likely maintain my SoopSee account whether or not I go and stay Pro in order to keep this feature.  It is available with any Basic account.

Advanced features for Pro members on SoopSee are pretty extensive.  You're able to add multiple Etsy accounts and blogs, set your SoopSee site to your domain name URL, download your SoopSee site for editing and hosting with another service (which will let you edit your CSS/HTML code and make the site match with your branding much better than if you use a layout), and more:

I still haven't decided whether or not it's worth it for me personally to pay for the SoopSee Pro account since I only have one blog and one Etsy shop, but if you're seriously considering a subscription I encourage you go ahead and sign up now.  Once the site leaves "Beta" testing the Pro fees will jump from a locked-in price of $5 per month to the much steeper price of $15 per month.  Perhaps when they add Artfire, 1000 Markets, Zibbet and other popular artisan marketplaces (which I was told by SoopSee staff via twitter is an additional feature currently in the works) the service will be worth $15 per month to you - but there's no sense in waiting if you think you'll utilize the Pro features since the monthly fee can be locked in at a 66% discount.

Do you use SoopSee?  Put your site URL in the comments so other readers can visit you and evaluate whether or not the site is right for them!  Are there reasons you don't use the service?  Be sure to let us know that as well!

Until next time,

Find me on SoopSee: