Monday, December 21, 2015
These are really simple and easy to sew up. I very casually only sorta measure a package when I have to make one, but since they're used for years, at this point I'm not making a ton. I sew the side seam and follow up with zigzag stitch. Then I sew the bottom. Then I pin and hem the top. People aren't looking too clearly at the stitching or hems so I either pin or iron but never both - it takes five minutes to make one of these things.
Then I either tie the top closed (bag-style) or I fold the top inside the package like a pillowcase:
Finish with a ribbon and you're done!
This is a great "thread user" project, use up the end of a spool that you don't need around, since long zigzag stitching uses lots of thread and as I said, these are cheap and casual and nobody pays attention to whether your thread matches. They'll get re-used for years, unlike paper gift bags. They can hold a ton of weight, get thrown in the back of a car and they don't get mashed up.
Dark fabric with busy patterns works best because it's gift wrap, you can sometimes see through white!
In my family we set a price limit every year and every person gets gifts from everybody so the pile of wrapping paper used to be bags and bags of throw away paper, but between my sister introducing random yards of fabric and me making them into bags we keep and send around, we're barely trashing or recycling anything these days! Less mess and less time spent on wrapping, we are definitely going the right direction!
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Treasury of trending colors for 2016 - bright, happy, ready for a new year!Handmadeology
Friday, November 13, 2015
A roundup if I may! I loved so many things, I just have to...
14th place November 12th, 2015
Theme Thursday! Shark items from $1-$50.
Shark tablet cover/case fits the Kindle Fire HD, Samsung Galaxly 3 and 4 , Nexus 7, Noria 7", Nextbook 7", and the RCA 7" tablet
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Mom says this works better with an 11x17 sheet, but we had 8.5x11 so that's what's in these photos. It's okay to use a scrap paper that's been printed on one side, your blank side will be the only one showing.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
So I made my own.
And now they're available on open clipart:
Hope you enjoy!
Thursday, July 2, 2015
artologica: If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet
It's about internet marketing - but not the way you think. The gist is that you can't just put a photo out on the internet and assume people will come running to buy your wares. You also can't broadcast onto twitter and pinterest like a robot, reading nothing, and assume people will read what you're saying.
So get out there, people! Be the kind of internet user who you enjoy hearing from, it'll do you good!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
1) You joined twitter (I love twitter!)
2) You clicked "follow" next to some profiles of folks who shared some interests with you.
3) Sometimes after you'd follow someone, you'd get a direct message (DM) right back telling you that the person you followed uses the TrueTwit validation service, and requesting that you visit an external website so you can prove that you're "valid".
If you clicked, you were asked to type in a word (captcha) to prove you're not a robot. And then... nothing really happens. Whether or not you type in the captcha you're still following the person. Whether or not you type in the captcha they can still decide you're cool (or not) and follow you back (or not). Bots are certainly capable of typing in captchas these days, and spammers are welcome to join the truetwit network so they can escape the captchas all together. So what's it all about?
If you got a few of these messages, you'd wonder how you could stop them from flooding your message box, and consider joining TrueTwit so it would forever know that you are not a robot. That's when you'd find out that to join TrueTwit, you must also give TrueTwit access to your twitter account, so they can send all your new followers DMs to their website asking them to "validate".
Or, if you don't want to send DMs, you can pay them $20.
Does that sound fishy? It did to me. I love twitter - my main account is @spacefem but I also run @etsytrades for people who like trading handmade items they've posted on Etsy, and I run @wichitaswe for my local Society of Women Engineers to let people know about free technology events for kids. I love meeting new people on twitter, so I'm always clicking "follow" buttons!
I also like to reserve the use of Twitter's direct message system for very important things - so I hate getting messages that tell me to go visit a website that really does nothing.
When I complained to @GoTrueTwit about this, here's the nice message I got back:
@spacefem Why are you bugging us about this? What makes you think we care? What makes you think anybody cares?— TrueTwit (@GoTrueTwit) January 7, 2015
I noticed I wasn't the only one... when I searched twitter for "truetwit", nearly every tweet was about how people hated it!
If I get a "True Twit validation" DM when I follow you, that says you think your time is more valuable than mine. It isn't. #PleaseDont— Christin Kardos (@ChristinKardos) January 14, 2015
Another TrueTwit spam message. Those things make me rage!!!!!!!!!!— Sean Munger (@Sean_Munger) January 14, 2015
People who use truetwit truly are twits— Phil Fersht (@pfersht) January 14, 2015
NO! No TrueTwit validation! If you doubt that I'm a real person, please visit your psychiatrist! Your meds need adjusting! XD— James Christopher (@JJCAuthor) January 14, 2015
Yes all those tweets are from a time period of just a few hours, because they're really easy to find. No tweets thanking truetwit for a great service - no one appreciates truetwit. They're just annoyed into it.
TrueTwit, in return, says this about their critics:
So because I don't like truetwit, I'm a slutbot? I thought I was a 34-year-old married mom from Kansas who tweets about arts and crafts. I don't think this is a service that any of us should refer to for evaluating people, especially on Twitter, a place where 160 character bios make it really easy to quickly determine who's worth following back and who isn't.
So that's why I launched @StopTrueTwit. I'm sad that TrueTwit has been able to annoy so many twitter users into signing up for their service and sending out all those DM spam messages to new followers. Some people don't even know they're doing it! To me, TrueTwit is running an extortion service: either pay us, become our spambot, or suffer annoying DMs every time you dare click "follow" on a potential new twitter friend.
They're also a spam advertising service - they constantly brag about how much traffic their site gets so they can make more money on ads. In other words, they've gotten thousands of twitter users to send out links a website where only TrueTwit gets ad revenue. Their users give them free advertising, and they make money!
If TrueTwit has lured you in, visit http://twitter.com/settings/applications and see if TrueTwit is listed. Click the "revoke access" button next to them to free yourself so they can't use your account.
And please never click a link you get via DM to "validate". Real people on twitter can decide for themselves if you're a real person. When you click those links, you're not showing that you're real, you're showing support for DM spam.
My @StopTrueTwit campaign has several goals:
1) Let people know that TrueTwit is really spam, if you don't like it you are not alone.
2) Serve as a resource for people trying to get truetwit's grabby teeth out of their account, with screenshots, Q&A, and quick tips for how to disable it
3) Get the attention of Twitter and the API team to ask them to shut down the service altogether. I realize this will take a bit of a following. @support has ignored me so far. But some strength may come from numbers.
Yes, I realize there have been anti-truetwit campaigns before that were launched and then abandoned, I will not do that. I am darn persistent. I've been running spacefem.com for 12 years now. I still blog on livejournal - very 2003, I know, but I don't abandon stuff I care about. So trust me, and stay with me. I may not be a social media expert, so if you are you can definitely shoot an email to email@example.com with tips on how we can stop truetwit.
Let's work together to free twitter from DM spammers, and make it the great place that we all love!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I've written before about how to use Etsy's suggestion tool to find titles - those suggestions will tell you what people frequently come here to shop for, so you can start your title with those words.
But don't start every title with those words. Not exactly the same, anyway.
Every listing you create is a tiny doorway into your shop. So if you have 10 listings that all start with the term "tote bag", they're all competing for a top spot in the search for "tote bag". You're competing with yourself.
Or you could re-arrange each title so that one starts with "tote bag", another with "canvas bag", another "cotton tote bag", etc. The "canvas bag" won't rank as high on the search term "tote bag" it's true. But it'll be higher for a search for "canvas bag"! You're just made another tiny door into your shop. Once a potential customer clicks, they might notice your other items on the side or your shop links, they'll click around. But you've got to get them in first!
People are different, you never know exactly what they'll type in. So do your best to aim each listing at a different group of people. Cast a wide net out into the ocean of Etsy searchers, and you'll catch a few more!
Monday, November 10, 2014
But luckily through teams I got shop critiques, support, learned helpful tips, got dragged into the shop opportunities prototype, made a ton of friends and got to be the etsian I am today!
I've even started several of my own teams, and captained a number of them. You know my biggest team, EtsyTrades.com, I did not even start! I inherited! But more on that later.
How To Start An Etsy Team
Step 1: Don't.
No really - as I said, I inherited my biggest project. It's a trade team, there are lots of trade teams, it would be a silly idea to start your own trade team when you could use your talents to contribute to an existing one. Go searching for a team with a purpose similar to one you'd start, and jump in - so much easier than starting from zero! You might even ask the captains how you can help or volunteer to co-lead.
Some teams have no captains, or their captain went missing a long time ago. If your team captain no longer responds to convos, you might just start a thread asking the team whether anyone has heard from the captain or would support you in becoming captain. If your team is okay with it, you can contact Etsy, tell them the team captain has gone AWOL, and volunteer to captain yourself. I've done this a couple times and they always respond within a few business days - I clicked the "help" link on Etsy, looked for help on Community Guidelines > Teams, and used the contact form to get in touch.
Recently I found myself wishing I was in a team for people looking to increase their followers. I found The Circle Clicking Team - which had thousands of members and seemed to have that goal, at one time. But the captains hadn't started new threads in months. So I asked if they needed help, and guess what - they made me the captain! I am so glad I didn't start my own team from scratch, this was much easier!
Step 2: Or do
Then again maybe there is no team that fits your idea, so you start one, and that's okay too! Be sure to give it a cool icon and fill in as much info as you can about the goals and purpose of your team.
Step 3: So now you're a captain!
I say the first thing to do is get some threads started! Nobody wants to jump into an empty box. If your team has no active threads, you must start at least one. Make it an easy question that people will want to respond to. Make sure it demonstrates that you are here for others, not yourself.
Step 4: Invite invite invite
Etsy has a great feature on the left side of every team that leaders can use, it just says "invite" and you can type in any shop name, user name, or user ID and it'll resolve to a real etsian.
I invite shops to my teams like a crazy person. Who do I invite?
1) People who post nice things in the discussion forums
2) Shop owners posting cool new listings
3) Etsians who are favoriting the same things I favorite
You can send out 100 invites a day, and the first day you open a team I'd suggest using all 100!
Unlike convos, invites are unobtrusive and cannot be flagged as spam because they don't use the convo system. They just put up a message for people to respond to; they either accept or reject the invitation, it sits there until they do something so it's not as easy to ignore. Members can convo you back with questions about an invite, but you're not bugging them in convos, so I love them.
Step 5: Encourage other thread starters
I don't like starting all the threads myself, I think people get bored seeing my same icon over and over :) So I'll convo other people and ask them to start threads, especially easy ones like "post your items here" that everyone feels that every team should have (sigh). Having different people start threads makes it feel more like a "team" anyway.
Step 6: Join the Captains Quarters
Yes, Etsy has a team about teams! And it's awesome, you get an insider look at what the admins are doing, recommendations, help with staying active. It's a wonderful thing to join.
Step 7: Recruit more leaders
I think every team should have at least two other leaders besides the captain. You can't be there all the time. If you add a co-leader you get their help and perspective. My trade team has nine leaders which is a lot I know, but we have 3500 members and a mountain of activities so I appreciate the help. They all have a purpose - starting a monthly thread, maintaining the team page, cleaning up spam. Plus when there are other leaders involved, team members really feel like they're in a team, not just one person's idea. In my teams all the leaders get email addresses and email one another to coordinate so we can all talk at once, it works out great.
Step 8: Take suggestions!
Make sure your team is really a team of people who are networking and getting to know one another, not just a holding place for post-and-runs. Feel free to change up the direction every few years, accept new leaders and be open to new ideas.
So that's it. I've been running forums for years and a lot of what I've learned, I just carried right over to teams. I've made some friends and learned a LOT and hope to see you around!
Monday, November 3, 2014
"You should work on your SEO."
I hate it for so many reasons. It's buzzwordy. It's an acronym. It sounds like a huge, complicated topic that you need a masters in. A newbie will ask "well what's my first step?" and get a reply like "there is no first step, no easy way to do it, it's a JOURNEY" and you imagine climbing mountains, and the poor new etsy person is just thinking "all I want is to sell a damn mug cozy!"
I feel your pain, newbie.
They do a little reading and get into even more questions and controversy - two or three word tags? What order should the words be in? Do I repeat words? It's so confusing!
I think the confusing part is that we're trying to think like search engines. Computers.
And the funny thing is, the computers are trying to think like searchers. People. Us!
Maybe the reason I hate "work on SEO" so much is that it implies there has to be this computer in between us and people. Why not just say this:
"Think like your searchers."
Searchers are people! You are a person! It's true that when we make an item, it can be hard to separate yourself from the processes. You'll want to describe it as a "carnival sky: a unique handmade multicolored knitted stocking cap" but that's not a great title for one simple reason: it's not something that people search for.
I've written before about how to type words into the etsy search to get suggestions and hints about what people search for. I still do that all the time. I also do periodic tag makeovers by comparing my shop stats to my existing tags and adding new ones to try to get views. Here's what to do:
1) Check your listing stats to see what key words and phrases have gotten it some views
2) Ditch the tags that are NOT getting it views
3) Time to brainstorm and use up your new free spots! Ask yourself... what are some things I'd search for if I was looking for an item like this?
4) Type some of those in the search box up type. See if they come up as suggestions.
5) Be sure to include any unique niche words - if your item features a fox, a pear, the color teal, you can appeal to fans!
6) Do NOT include words that could apply to almost any listing on Etsy. Everything is "unique" and "handmade". It's Etsy.
7) Use all 13 tags
8) Come back next month and repeat! Every listing is an experiment to see what key phrases will win for you.
I recently started a thread asking lots of sellers to tell us their top 5 keyphrases for catching views. They are as unique as all of Etsy! Some are simple one-word tags like "space" or "florida". Most are 2 or 3 word phrases... "steampunk hair accessories", "coconut candles", "wolf pendant". The point is that there's no magic formula to tell what will work, you've just got to keep trying different combinations of words to see what works.
SEO isn't a magic wand that you wave over a listing to get it views. No one can tell you for sure what will work best. But through brainstorming and trying everything that comes to mind, you'll get there.
Monday, October 27, 2014
I use cheap $30 cameras I buy off Ebay to take my photos. The camera, I've found, is not that big a deal. You can spend $3000 on a camera and your photos might be better than mine, but not 100 times better than mine, despite the staggering cost difference. What matters the most is the environment you're taking the pictures in.
So here's my setup:
It's pretty darn basic. You could use almost anything to accomplish this. My light box is made from:
1) PVC pipe, for the basic structure
2) White ripstop nylon to bounce and reflect light around inside
3) Poster board background
4) Clip on lamps
5) Full spectrum compact fluorescent light bulbs
6) Assorted props for photo time
The lamps are from a few places. First I got some clearance desk lamps at Target, but if they hadn't been clearance they might have run my budget up quite a bit. They're okay.
I experimented with several backgrounds - white curtain lining fabric, projector screens, all flavors of more expensive stuff. The cheap white posterboard turned out to be my favorite.
If I had it to do over again I would do it with just these shop lamps, which I got at Home Depot in the electrical section and I just adore. They're cheap, aluminum, and will take a bulb up to 100 W (try that with a desk lamp!) And the clips really hold them in place. Not as pretty but much more functional!
Don't laugh at the whole at the top of my nylon there... it's to stick my camera lens straight through the top and take pictures from above. Works awesome!
The one place I would not cheap out is on the light bulbs. I special ordered full-spectrum daylight compact florescent bulbs from 1000bulbs.com because they don't get as hot as incandescent. I can put a "120 W equivalent" in my "under 100 watt" lamp because when you use CFL, it only actually uses 32 watts! These light bulbs run $6-8 each but they last a long time and have a wonderful effect:
And finally, I keep my photo props handy inside my light box at all time. I wrote before about how at least one of your five photos must give your customers a sense of scale, so I have things like a ruler, cards (because I make card holders), and sometimes coins or markers around to show what the item I'm selling looks like in comparison to everyday objects.
Then it's photo time! Afterwards, I'll still retouch my photos in GIMP to get a really white background. But my light box gives me a great start!
Monday, October 20, 2014
The first question I ask is just how many views and favorites they're talking about here, because they may feel like 50 views is a lot but it isn't. The vast majority of Etsy shoppers look around at tons of listings before making a buying decision. It's a sad truth, but most of the time your item is viewed, it will not be bought.
To quantify this I asked some fellow shop owners for their stats to find out just what a normal views/sales ratio is... in other words, how many views does the average item get before it sells? They told me their sales, views, and favorites over the past few months and I did the math to make those into ratios so we could find out just how many people favorite an item before it sells. Here's what I found:
|Etsy Shop||Views per sale||Favorites per sale|
Thank you to all these shops for providing these sample numbers :)
The average favorites per sale number was 46. The range was even wider: 7-276. So one could argue that favorites are not as good an indicator of an items' sales performance - the people who click the hearts may not have anything in common with the people who actually spend the money.
Here's what I take away from the data: It can easily take 200-300 views to make a sale - and that's organic views, from people finding it on Etsy's search. That's not you posting it in teams and telling people to view it, because most of those people are not on Etsy to shop today. In fact, I say it's a bad idea to clutter your statistics with those sorts of promotional activities, because then you don't know if you're being found in the search or not.
You've got four months to sell an item before it expires on Etsy. That's 121 days. If an item isn't getting at least 2-3 search views per day, it's not likely to sell.
I may sound like a broken record, but I still say the secret to getting more views is shop critiques. Ask another set of eyes: do your thumbnail photos look like something someone will want to click? Are your titles clear and well-worded for search? Do your tags contain phrases that people are searching for?
I also recommend joining a trade team to figure out if you're offering things that people need. And if you're wondering about your prices, start up a clearance section.
If your ratios are way off, you may need a different set of questions. Say your item has had 500 views but not a single sale. Then you might want to ask if the views are coming from a "clutter source" - like teams, promotion games, social media, or other places that drive gawkers but not shoppers. If the views are coming from Etsy's search, are your prices too high? Shipping out of whack? Does your description leave out some pressing information that people are wondering about? Do you have weird or non-existent shop policies that make people worried about buying? Hate to say it, but customers who read will not buy from a shop that says "I don't take returns and if it gets lost in the mail it's all your fault."
The shop statistics page can get addicting, when I started my Etsy shop I just wanted to stare at it all day. Then I'd rearrange my shop, post in a team, and stare at it again. None of that did me a bit of good. What made the difference was getting off the darn internet, making something to list, posting it up and drawing customers in with new items. So when you feel yourself staring at your view count, break away! Go get back to work crafting and let the items sell themselves!
Monday, October 13, 2014
So I've updated this page as part of my Etsy Widgets: Pounce
Every time you load this page up it'll show you some shops that just opened in the past few weeks, with their three newest listings:
I'm using it to collect shops for a list in my favorites collection: Pounce: The Best New Etsy Shops.
The other thing to do if you love new shops is go check out EtsyContest.com every Wednesday for our Welcome Wednesday Contest. We vote on favorite items from new shops every week and find some great ones. Here's some items that were featured last week, I love these and they're all from shops that are less than a month old! Go show them some love, we were all new once!
14th place October 8th, 2014
Welcome Wednesday! The newest Etsy shops' items from $1-$50.
Hippie Pants Elephant - gypsy clothing harem pant design one size fits all elastic waist ankle in Black White unisex
Monday, October 6, 2014
So when months go by and I've got a listing about the expire off the bottom of my shop, I start thinking about taking action. And I have no shortage of options for stuff that's not selling! Here is my list of actions to take:
1) Listing makeover - maybe the item needs new tags, new photos, extra words in the description to get found. Pretend you're listing it new, using everything you've learned in the last three months, surely there's something you can change!
2) Get a critique - it's easier for people to critique a single listing than a whole shop. Ask the shop critiques team what they think of your listing. Maybe there's something obvious to improve on it.
3) Trade it - seriously, I cannot say enough about the trade team. Trading is the best way I've found to connect with other artists, find out quickly what your "in demand" items are, and move the stuff in your shop that isn't moving. A good trade team will have an active thread where you can post things you're looking to trade the most.
4) Start a clearance section - I know this tip might be controversial because we're all artists and worth a lot, yes. But a clearance section is a good way to find out if your prices are too high... if your items sell like hotcakes at lower prices, consider lowering them. If they don't sell with lower prices, well then it's not your prices keeping people away, you'll feel confident keeping your prices high!
5) Grab bag listing - for the truly expired, I'll sometimes combine them into one big random listing. Crazy, sure, but I've had people throw it in with a "real" purchase.
6) Save it for 4th quarter - around the holidays, sales spike like crazy and all kinds of things can move that sat around in the summer. Mark August 26th on your calendar - anything you list on that day or past it will be an active listing all through Christmas, when you really want your shop to be as well stocked as possible. The holidays are the only time when I renew expired items. The first week of December is my busiest day of the year so I try to have everything but the kitchen sink listed in November.
7) Sponsor a giveaway - Find a popular blogger and offer up an item to their readers in exchange for some free publicity. It really creates some buzz! There are some nice giveaway and blogger connection teams to help you find hosts.
8) Craft fair - It never ceases to amaze me how items that fly off the shelves at craft fairs will go nowhere on Etsy, and items that fly out of my Etsy shop get no love at a craft fair. You just can't predict how marketplaces will be different. I have a craft fair box of things that I will never relist on Etsy but they'll take up space on a table. Split a table with a friend if you're just starting out and still small, it's fun.
9) Donate to a fundraiser - Lots of charities host silent objects with gift baskets to raise money for worthy causes. They'd be happy to have your business cards out on the table along with an item from your shop.
10) Local consignment - where do shoppers buy handmade in your area? Find a local shop and ask if they'll stock some of your items. They'll likely want 40-50% of the retail price but if your prices are set correctly you'll still make a profit. I've found that certain items, like my Kansas-themed gifts, can't seem to find their market on Etsy but they sell like hotcakes in stores!
So that's my list! You may notice, no where did I say to spend more time "promoting" the listing, spamming pinterest or twitter with it. Always remember that social media is nice but your target audience is people who come to Etsy to search, not people who are checking twitter to see what their friends are up to these days. So when a listing doesn't sell, change your game plan, don't just overbroadcast.
And my list may not be exhaustive, I'd love to hear from anyone else what works for you! With a few tweaks you can turn an about-to-expire listing into a sale, a promotional tool, basically an opportunity! Kinda nice to have some things to play with an experiment on... see what works, right? Good luck, everybody!