Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Treasures: Queer Etsy

This Treasury West list is inspired by the lovely members of the Queer Etsy Street Team.  As you may already know, we have a collective team shop which you can visit here.  The purpose of the shop is to support LGBTQ charities by donating 100% of proceeds to the organization of our choosing.  Right now, the Queer Team is sponsoring the Trevor Project.  The Trevor Project is the "leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth."  To read more about the Trevor Project and our efforts, check out my previous blog post on the organization and visit their website directly.  

All of the items you see here are works made by members of the Queer Etsy Street Team.  These are not items pulled from the shop, but are made by members who have donated something to our collective shop.  Be sure to check out both the individual shops as well as our collective shop.

Thanks for looking and please consider supporting our efforts to benefit the Trevor Project.  Want to donate directly to the good folks there?  You can do so at this link:  We hope that you'll take the time to mention in the field provided that you found out about them through us, the Queer Etsy Street Team.  Thanks!

Until next time,

Friday, May 28, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Tools4Etsy

Tools4Etsy markets itself as a helpful site for buyers, sellers, and developers alike.  The site offers tons of different features, but I'm going to talk about the ones I think are most useful here (and ones that don't require me to download Microsoft Silverlight...if you visit the site and don't have it, you'll see what I mean.)

This feature is a little confusing to me but I'm going to try to explain it as clearly as I can.  The Tag Wars feature allows you to compare two tags to see which tag is used more often in listings.  You can select the results to show up based on relevancy, average views per day, popularity, or probability.  I selected two tags, "adjustable" and "one size fits all" and compared the two based on relevancy.  The results show that "adjustable" is used on over 50,000 listings while "one size fits all" is only used on 906 listings.  According to the blurb at the bottom of the page (my interpretation of it), Tools4Etsy would recommend you use the tag "adjustable" over "one size fits all" because it's more commonly used and therefore more commonly searched for.  I think.  It's best if you go to the site and read the information for yourself, because like I said I found it quite confusing.  You also get tag and material tag clouds under both of the tags you pitted against each other.  The tag clouds you get are based on which search you're using (relevancy, average views, etc.)  When you hover over the words in the cloud, statistics are displayed.  I do not understand based on what's written what these statistics mean, but if you can figure them out, perhaps it is useful.

Love or hate the gift guides and Etsy finds, you can find them all on Tools4Etsy.  The left sidebar lists all of the available guides, making for rather easy and user-friendly navigation:

I know that a lot of sellers resent the gift guides and for good reason.  Many times the same sellers are featured over and over and smaller, less popular but equally talented shop owners don't get to have the same promotional perks.  I don't know why this happens - maybe those who pick the featured items on Etsy do it by accident, maybe it's by design, or (most likely) it's somewhere in the middle ground.  At any rate, it doesn't hurt to examine the photos of the shops who do get featured and see what they're doing right.  Contact with fellow sellers and the shops of your competition should always be treated as an opportunity to learn.  

(There is also a featured seller feature on the site where you can see all past featured sellers.  This is something NOT available on Etsy and can be an additional source of information about people who Etsy sees as successful and worth showcasing to the community.)

By incomprehensible, I mean to the layperson like me who knows how to operate a computer and navigate the internet but doesn't know squat about codes and computer languages and technological jargon.  For someone more sophisticated than me, this area looks like a gold mine.  Tools4Etsy provides an Etsy Screensaver (need Silverlight to use it though), instructions on how to build your own Etsy search page, and some developer libraries.  If this sounds interesting to you, be sure to check it out!

Tools4Etsy seems to have some interesting features if you know how to use them.  Check out their website and see if they have anything you can use to improve the way you handle your shop.  

Have anything to add or clarify about Tools4Etsy or their features?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekly BEST: Off the Wall Expressions

Tina and Mick are a husband and wife craft team making vinyl decals for their business Off the Wall Expressions - Helping you to Express Your Personality.  They have over 20 years of experience in crafting and design and their work has been featured on Good Morning America.  Their work is appropriate for displaying on walls, windows, refrigerators, bathtubs, picture frames, and more.  Check out some of their beautiful designs:

Dandelions Blowing in the Wind, vinyl wall art decal stickers

Just Married  personalized wedding decal

Funky Numbers growth chart vinyl wall art decal

Chalk Thoughts, vinyl chalkboard decal

As you can see, many of these decals can even be personalized to meet your needs and reflect your personality and style.  To see more of Off the Wall Expressions, visit their Etsy shop here.


What do you think of Off the Wall Expressions?  Talk about this dynamic duo and their work in the comments.

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST.  The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts.  Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Weekly Treasures: Jewelry Picks

I've been fortunate enough to have been featured in a Treasury West list this week, created by okbuyer.  Please check it out and leave your comments:

I'm quite pleased to have been chosen for this treasury as the other jewelry selected is very beautiful.  Bangles, brightly colored luminous stones, and clusters of beads all seem to be in high fashion these days.

Have you been featured in or created a treasury lately?  Leave us a link in the comments!

Until next time,

Friday, May 21, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Update Edition

So, since I've written blog posts on IndieSpotting, Craftgawker, Craftopolis, and more, they've upgraded, updated, and changed their policies.  This blog post will give you a quick rundown of what's changed on my recommended sites and why you need to be aware of it:


If you're not familiar with this site, visit the above link and check out my older Hotlist post giving the ins and outs.

This site was originally intended (apparently) to be a showcase for artistic work without being a "marketing tool."  Here's more straight from the owners:

"Our ideal submission would link back to an art or craft blog post, which would discuss the item, provide tips on how to make it, or present a DIY guide. The key component is the content on the page. If you only post an image and link to an Etsy listing, we will decline it. If you provide more details about the item, we'll most likely accept it.

Clarification: We won't require a blog post with a tutorial or DIY guide for acceptance, as some message boards have suggested. That's the ideal submission. All we want is a blog post that is more than a photo and a link back to your shop. Just tell us something about the product, why it's unique, why we should get it or make it."

So what does this mean for you?  Well Craftgawker is still a place for artisans to get free publicity, but not to drive traffic directly to your Etsy, ArtFire, or other shop.  Instead of providing a link to your Etsy item listing and a photo, you now have to add more content to your submission and use a non-commerical link in order to be considered for inclusion in the gallery.  For example, if I write a blog post with a picture of my item and describe it I can be considered for inclusion.  If I post the picture on Flickr and describe the item, my Flickr link can be considered.  If I write a blog post that just says my item is for sale on Zibbet and post a picture, I've got no chance now of inclusion.  For examples of what's being accepted now, the best thing to do is to go to their site and check out the current front page.

I personally understand the rationale behind the change, but I think anytime you are asking artists to showcase their work, you are going to be essentially providing a marketing tool for them.  In a way, Craftgawker has made itself more like Flickr - a place where promotion can be done, but must happen discreetly.


You'll have to forget most of what I've said previously about IndieSpotting.  On May 15, 2010 they completely redid the website, got rid of the Craftgawker-esque gallery style, and came up with something that looks like it will actually be much better.  Here's why they changed it:

"For the past year, IndieSpotting has been a photo gallery showcasing fantastic indie and handmade goods available for sale online. It’s been a place to be inspired and “window shop” for unique, one-of-a-kind and cool products.

We recognize the passion behind the handmade movement – from the people who make a living from the goods they sell, to the consumer who appreciates the value and quality of an item made with skill and care, to the crafty person who simply enjoys the feelings of satisfaction that come from making something with his or her own two hands.

That’s why we’ve reinvented IndieSpotting, to become a community that appreciates handmade and to foster communication, inspiration and relationships based on this shared passion."

Here is a quick rundown of the main features available with the new

1. Shop - This section appears to have mini-curated galleries of items following certain themes chosen by staff.  According to IndieSpotting, they pull items from Etsy, ArtFire, 1000Markets, and other venues.  Readers can submit their ideas for themes and theoretically could ask that their item be included, but that seems to be the only way to get involved with this section of the site from what I can see.  I do not think the themes are announced ahead of time and then submissions are asked for - I guess you must either come up with a theme in which your items fit OR just be spotted.

2. Make - Just like it sounds, this section is for DIY tutorials.  Pictures of the finished products are shown in the same mini gallery format with links to the tutorials below.  You can submit your tutorial that you've posted on your blog or website for inclusion on the IndieSpotting site.

3. Win - The giveaway section is both for IndieSpotting hosted giveaways and outside contests.  Giveaway items can be submitted for inclusion as well.

4. Meet - This is the Shop Showcase category of the site where artisans are given very brief features, complete with links to their shop items and a gallery-style collage of their work.  You can submit your shop for consideration and must include a brief bio about yourself to catch the interest of the site operators.

5. Inspire - This is the Why Handmade part of the site, which includes guest posts from readers.  Anyone who is a part of the handmade community is welcome to submit a guest post for consideration.

IndieSpotting is really a whole new site now.  The best thing to do if you're interested in promoting with them is to visit them directly and check out the changes.


Craftopolis has had a makeover too since the last time I wrote about them.  They still have the treasury clock and treasure hunt but they've added Google Analytics data in order to show users even more information.  The main benefit of importing your Google Analytics data is being able to see if you're in Treasury East via Treasure Tracks.  Since Treasury East is not flash-based, the only way Craftopolis can track whether a certain user is included is if someone has clicked on your item from the treasury.  They show a small thumbnail of your item and a link to the treasury.

The shop lovers feature has also gotten a facelift.  It now shows item and shop page views on the hearts calendar so you can see some of your Google Analytics data right from their website.

Here's the catch - you have to make sure that if you track more than one website in your Google Analytics that your Etsy site is the one Craftopolis is using.  Mine defaults to my blog information and I have to manually select my Etsy shop from a drop down list.  Also, if you don't have Google Analytics information for your shop or you don't trust Craftopolis to not store it, you won't be able to use these new features.


Check out the new features and new direction of these sites and let me know what you think in the comments.  Found any new great sites?  Make sure to leave a link in the comments as well.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weekly Treasures: Colors and Light - 100th post!

This is my 100th blog post!!  I hope you've enjoyed reading my posts so far.  If you haven't already, please feel free to follow me via Google Friend Connect or Blogger!

I was included in a treasury today.  Please check it out, click, and comment:

Do you have a treasury you'd like us to check out?  Post a link in the comments!

Any suggestions or ideas on what you'd like to see from The Elle's Beads Blog in the next 100 posts to come?  Please leave a comment!

Until next time,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekly BEST: The Garden Room

I joined a new Etsy team last week called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST.  The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts.  Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

My first BEST feature is on The Garden Room, an artist specializing in watercolors and colored pencils.  She describes herself as a mostly self-taught artist with some professional training and a diploma in art.  She is also interested in crafting and jewelry making.  Here is a sampling of some of her work:

Be sure to check out The Garden Room's entire shop on Etsy.  She can also be found around the web in these social media outlets:

Thanks for checking out my team member's shop!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Until next time,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Marketing Tips and Tricks

First, I apologize for posting this late but I had a very important date with my elderly grandparents to play Scrabble and the game ran later than usual. :)

Anyway, this week's Hotlist has some tips on marketing that you may find useful for your shop.

I came across a great article this week at At a Glance Graphics' blog giving "9 Marketing Tips from a Six-Year-Old's Lemonade Stand."  While the post is written with graphics designers in mind (for obvious reasons), you can still take away a lot of great points from it regardless of what it is you're selling. The seventh tip from the blog is "Build Anticipation."  Instead of launching your new product line right away without telling anyone, let people know it's coming and have them excited and waiting to see what you will have to offer.  I know that worked on me with The Tiny Fig and the launch of her new website.  She showed us screenshots and dropped little tidbits of information in her newsletter prior to the launch of the site.  I found myself looking forward to seeing what the new layout would look like and what new features the site would have to offer.  So, when the time came, I ended up browsing her site - the work she did to build anticipation resulted in traffic.  Find out the rest of the nine marketing tips by reading the article directly at At a Glance Graphics.

There was an interesting post on the Etsy forums this week (and no I'm not referring to the debacle that is the new suggested shops feature and the related backlash).  Swan Mountain Soaps wrote a post entitled "It's not a job interview.  It's a first date." in reference to shop announcements.  Christina suggests that the shop announcement is too often used as a resume for artisans to list all of their credentials, everywhere they've been featured, etc.  It's also too often used as a place for artisans to say very generic, non-exciting things like that they make "special, one of a kind items.  Just about everybody here does...Cut to the chase. Get some chemistry going. There are a lot of fish in this big Estian sea, and if you don't set the hook right away, I'm going after someone else's bait."  Her interesting take on shop announcements is nothing if not a great reminder to go back and refresh what you've written.  Does your announcement tell me why I should buy from you over the potentially dozens or hundreds of other people doing your craft?  Do I feel your excitement and passion?  If not, maybe you should rethink the way it's written.  Food for thought!

Starglow Studio is another Etsian with popular forum threads, a series of which were featured in the Etsy Success email a little over a week ago.  Her 7 pieces of advice relate to common mistakes that artisans make with their Facebook "like" (fan) pages.  Mistake #4 is treating all fans equally.  As new fans join your page, Lori Lee suggests you repeat some of your older, valuable content for their benefit.  "Now I'm not referring to your "ads & promotions", I'm talking about the meaty stuff, the interesting tidbits about you, what you do, the theme of your page and those questions you ask fans to help get them engaged. (uh, you don't have posts like those? Hmmm, I better make that my next MISTAKE article.) BUT don't just copy and paste - rewrite what you repeat so that even older Fans will think its new!"  Getting fans engaged and interacting on my Facebook page is something I'm still working on and this particular tip is great advice for getting new fans involved.  Check out all of the Facebook Mistake threads here in the Etsy forums.

Well those are the marketing tips for this week which can be applied to your shop, advertising outside of your shop, and social networking.  Consider what advice might work for you as you work on improving your Etsy, ArtFire, Zibbet, or other shop.

Do you have a marketing tip to share?  Be sure to post it in the comments!

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekly Treasures: Eco-Friendly Blues

Check out this lovely treasury I created!  It features eco-friendly items in beautiful blue tones found using Etsy's search:

Do you have any eco-friendly items in your shop?  Put your shop link in the comments!

Until next time,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Art on the Haw River Wine Trail

This show was a good learning experience for me.  I think the biggest two things I took away from this weekend were:

1. Always bring extra tape.  One brand new roll is not enough.  Seriously.  You can never have too much tape, especially when you're going to be selling outdoors in unpredictable wind conditions.

2. Be persistent and don't give up.  I was ready to pack it in and stay home Sunday after a disastrous Saturday.  I barely made back the booth fee Saturday and most people were in attendance for a separate event (Farm Day) where they could have free activities for their children.  This was the farthest I'd traveled for a show (1 hour each way) and I spent a ton of time and money getting a new display and getting my items just right.  I did so poorly the first day I literally cried half of the way home.  I didn't want to go back but did because I made a commitment and didn't want to disappoint the owner.  Luckily for me, only three artisans including myself were set to sell on Sunday and I was the only one selling jewelry.  I did MUCH better than the first day (when there were more vendors) - still not enough to see a profit all things considered, but I made back my gas and my lunch money (and my self esteem).  I learned that my pieces sell much better when there is less competition and that there really is such a thing as an over-saturated market.  I'm hopefully going to be able to select small shows in the future that don't have an overwhelming number of jewelry artisans signed up to vend.  I also kept my reputation of being a reliable vendor and have been welcomed to come back any time (the owners are really nice people).  I'm happy with the way things worked out and I hope it's only up from here.

Enjoy these photos and videos of my display and the Iron Gate Winery:

Hope you enjoyed the picture tour!

Until next time,

Friday, May 7, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Animoto

This week's site is perfect for sellers on any venue, not just Etsy.  If you have a YouTube account or have browsed the channels of fellow crafters before, you've probably seen the PowerPoint presentation turned video used as a promotional tool.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, see below:

Simple in style and not that fantastic visually, right?  But it's a common way of making YouTube videos so I learned how to use Windows Movie Maker to put the slides into a video format.  Then one of my Twitter friends, Finding Charm, shared a video that she'd made with Animoto and I instantly decided to never make a PowerPoint video presentation of my work again.  Animoto is an online video generator that takes your images and/or video clips and makes a graphic montage which you can set to music.

The difference between Animoto and making your own videos with PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker is quality.  Animoto doesn't kick out a generic slideshow, but uses visually stimulating effects to highlight your pictures.  Let me show you what I'm talking about.  You've seen the video above that I made myself.  Now check out this video made with Animoto using just my product pictures I uploaded to the site:

See the difference?

I use the free account on Animoto because it fits my budget nicely.  With a basic account you can make as many 30 second videos as you like and select music from the library that complements the work you're showcasing.  You can't download the videos directly to your computer, but you can use the export function to send your videos instantly to YouTube.  (And for those who don't know, there are plenty of ways to download video content from YouTube to your computer if you find that necessary.)  If you don't think 30 seconds is enough, you can opt to pay per video, getting full-length movies for $3 or DVD quality full-length movies for $5.  You can also subscribe to one of their plans.  The $249/year professional package is probably more than any artisan really needs to promote their work but you do get a commercial license and a whole slew of licensed music to go along with your videos.  The more reasonable option is the $30/year All Access Pass.  The pass gets you unlimited full length videos and allows you to use a little bit longer video clips.  It's still not what I recommend since you would have to make 10 full length videos during the year for it to pay for itself, but if you really have a lot of work to showcase it could work out well for you.  $2.50 per month is what the cost boils down to - not much more expensive than the yearly fee for a pro-Flickr account.

To make a video, you select your theme (I use the Animoto original which sets the speed of your slideshow to the tempo of the music you select), upload pictures and/or video clips, and select music from the sound library.  Animoto does the rest for you.  Once the video is finalized, you're free to export it to YouTube.  The process is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

I highly recommend using Animoto for your next promotional video.  I have yet to come across another site that makes slideshows this attractively for free.

Do you have a YouTube account?  Subscribe to my videos here:  Be sure to also leave a link to your account in the comments!

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Weekly Treasures: More Features

My increased participation on Etsy and listing more items seems to have helped me be included in more treasuries.  Check these lovelies out:

I hope you'll enjoy checking out the other sellers and their fantastic creations!

Have you been featured in a treasury recently?  Created one?  Post your link in the comments!

Until next time,