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Archive for August, 2008

Let us assume that you want to go somewhere a thousand miles away. You have no vehicle. You can only set off walking and hope that somehow, sooner or later, you’ll get a ride. There’s a risk involved. You have to make a gesture of intention, faith and determination and then see what it leads to. The alternative, however, is to stay at home and decide that as the journey is impossible, the destination can never be reached. With this, there’s no gamble. You can be quite sure that nothing will change. So which is it to be this month? You have no choice. You have to try.

The above is my horoscope for September from Jonathan Cainer. He has an uncanny knack for writing a general horoscope that I feel was meant just for me. I’m a Taurus by the way, so any of you other Tauruses out there, this is your horoscope for September as well.

When I started selling crafts some 22 years ago at craft fairs, I just jumped in. We were fortunate to get a good list of shows to try out and we came up with some products that sold well right off the bat. I left the shows for full-time work and when the creative bug bit again, I started on eBay, again, with little knowledge and not sure how my products would do.

Along the way, I learned the ropes, made some mistakes and revamped my products until I was happy with them. Has it been success all the way? No. I’ve paid my dues, spent some money I didn’t necessarily have and I’m still working to figure out how best to make the most of a craft I love.

Would I trade anything I’ve been through? Not for a million bucks. I’ve learned so much and I enjoy what I do for the most part. I’m still learning and evolving and I’m ready for the next 1,000 miles, wherever that will take me.

The point? Don’t let fear stop you from doing something you think you’ll enjoy. Etsy and eBay are easy places to get started selling your crafts. If you’re considering selling this way, I say go for it. You’ll never know unless you try.

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When you start your business, almost any seasoned business owner or your counselor at the Small Business Development Center will tell you that you need a business plan. Basically, writing down your goals for your business and how you get there.

There have been numerous books written on this subject too. If you want something, write it down. My favorite is Write It Down, Make It Happen.

And if you’ve read or seen The Secret, you know that the Law of Attraction works this way too. Write down all the things you’re grateful for. And then write down your intentions as if they’ve already happened. To be honest, some of this has worked for me in some very big ways. Some, not so much. Of course, I’m not always clear on my intentions too. For example, I’d love a thriving bookbinding business, but I’d also like to sleep. So while I know I’d rather be in business entirely for myself, it has its pros and cons. And until I can get clear on those, this goal may continue to elude me.

But I digress…. I recently stumbled on a very cool website called 43 Things. It is a social network of sorts with the sole purpose of giving people a place to write down their goals, share their successes and be cheered on to completion. For now it’s free and kinda cool. And you don’t have to have 43 goals, but hey, if you start setting intentions, you might be surprised!

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I’m excited! I got my 100th Etsy heart today!!! Yippee!! And I haven’t been participating in forums where people critique stores or exchange hearts lately. And I haven’t really even been updating or paying very close attention to my store. Real work has gotten busy again and I had orders that had to get done before promoting could begin again. And yet, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten at least 20 new hearts and that’s so cool. Lots of them are strictly customers too (not other sellers).

What this tells me is while sales might be slow this month for me on Etsy, people are getting ready for their holiday shopping and bookmarking to come back when it’s time to buy gifts. I’ll be getting ready because I’d sure like to turn those hearts into sales and lifelong customers.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Everyone on Etsy wants to know how to create these little black heart symbols to add to their descriptive copy. ♥ I don’t blame them. I like them too. Unlike eBay, Etsy gives you very little creative range in the description area, so little hearts add something to the copy. They make neat bullet points.

On the Mac, like I am on today, I find that cutting and pasting works best. But on the PC, there are several ways to create the little hearts:

&heart; (all closed up like this) or

alt key  and the 3 on the number pad (obviously this might not work on a laptop, which doesn’t have a number pad).

now you know. And if those don’t work for you, cut and paste.

Here’s to lots of hearts, big, little, black and full of promise.

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created at wordle.net

created at wordle.net

In the Etsy forums the other day, there were a couple of posts about getting your Etsy shop visibility in the famed Google search. I thought I might condense some of the information and make it a little easier to implement what appears to be a pretty cool— and free— way to let those outside the Etsy

community know all about your fabulous work!

STEP 1:

First, there’s the way Google finds you. According to one Etsian who seemed pretty techno-savvy, while on Etsy, your tags may be your most important search tool, Google only picks up your title. I’ve noticed that a lot of Etsy shops get creative in their titles but leave out the all-important search words customers are looking for. For example, I have an album titled “Innocence” in my store. It’s a baby pic and that title provides the right sentiment. But…in the same title I have Personalized Baby Photo Album, which is what I would expect customers to search. I also have “photo album” and “baby” in my tags, because I think the important search terms bear repeating. Some Etsians try to only use search words in one place. But this isn’t eBay and you have unlimited space in your title. What can it hurt to use an important search word twice?

And I know I’ve said this before but remember to think like a customer when developing your keyword strategy. How would potential customers search for your products?

STEP 2:

There’s a tool on Google called Google Base. I’ve just gotten around to listing my items here, but wow, this is cool. You need a gmail account to access google base, and if you don’t have one of these, it’s free and there’s lots of space and it’s userfriendly and keeps the spam out. Get a gmail account and sign into it.

Then, search for Google Base in google…. or just click the underlined google base… I looked and looked but could not find the link through gmail but because I was signed in, I had instant access when I searched for it in the search engine.

Now, you need to go to a website called LetsEts.com

This is a great tool that will pull all of your Etsy listings and format them exactly the way they need to be formatted for the Google Base tool. All you need to do is a “Save As,” remember what you called it and where you saved it on your computer. The file is an XML file. Make sure when you do your “save as” you save the document as an XML file.

Next, you’re going to go on Google Base, enter the information they ask you for and upload your XML file. You don’t need to worry when they get to the formatting part. It’s already been done at LetsEts. How cool is that? You don’t need to be a techno-geek to do this!

And that’s it. Supposedly in just a couple of hours, your items will appear on Google under the keywords that are in your titles. There are great tutorials on Google too for how to do this. I’m a first-timer myself.

So I’ve uploaded my listings. They take a while to process, but I’ll definitely let you know how it went. Don’t wait for my results though to do this yourself. It’s free. And free google listings are good!

Just make sure to pump up those title keywords!!!

word image is courtesy of wordle.net

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When you create all of your shipping labels online, you get to bypass lines like these at the post office and just drop your packages at the counter.

That’s one reason I just spent 20 minutes going through all the forums I’d posted in to find the one with the link to paypal shipping when the customer hasn’t paid through paypal.

I’ve been doing some sample freebies, and every now and again, I do have customers who pay by check or money order. I’ve always gone to usps.com to create the shipping labels for these orders.

I like shipping through paypal though because it keeps my records all nice and tidy. I try to keep all of my expenses in one place. So this link to paypal shipping when you don’t have an order through paypal is super helpful.

I can’t find a word link to this anywhere on Paypal. I must be missing something. So if you need to ship something where you haven’t gotten payment via paypal, here’s the link:

https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

Now I won’t have to search forums for it again, since I’ll have it right here on my blog!

Thank you glasstasatictreasures for the information!

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Rumor has it that eBay is getting ready to change their listing fees again.

This time though, supposedly, listing fees will not go up. They will go away. Final value fees, however, will go up. How might I know this? For more on this subject, check out Ina Steiner, at AuctionBytes.

What does this mean for any of us crafters who are selling on eBay or are considering selling on eBay?

There are some sellers who think eliminating listing fees would be a great thing. I fall in that camp.

There are others who think it will just overrun the marketplace with redundant stuff. Why use store listings if the auction or fixed price listing are free? And initially, it could be overwhelming. But in case you’ve never listed anything (on eBay or Etsy), it is time-consuming and I think a dramatic increase in listings would eventually fall off.

For me, this would be fantastic. My products are unique because they are handmade by me, and I don’t have all that much competition. Not that I want to pay higher final value fees, but if I could list as much as I wanted for free, I could sell more…and then I wouldn’t mind those final value fees so much. You might be thinking the market is already saturated for what you are selling. But if you craft your keywords carefully, you can carve out your own eBay niche, where the competition will not be as much of a hindrance.

I’ve always looked at eBay as a marketing tool, a place for customers to find me. Once they’ve found me, I don’t encourage them to buy from me again on eBay. I encourage them to come to me directly through my website or email, or through my Etsy store.

So fee changes may have already started. According to this article, eBay Motors Fees are being eliminated for the first four cars listed…..a test? http://auctionbytes.com/cab/cab/abn/y08/m08/i14/s02

Sign up for our Iris & Lily Crafter’s Tips newsletter, and I’ll send you a free report on the benefits of selling on eBay!


For Email Marketing you can trust

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When I started selling my handmade photo albums, scrapbooks and journals online, I started on eBay. It was the easiest place to start and at the time, the only game in town. Now I sell on my website and on Etsy too, but I do still sell on eBay and I have to admit, when I’m putting my energy there, it’s still my most successful venue. Let’s face it… with 250 million-plus registered users, the audience is there.

Something bothers me a little on eBay though. Well lots of things about eBay bother me lately, but this one is specific to trying to sell handmade items there.

On a whim this morning, I searched “handmade” on eBay. And I got 48,971 results. That’s a lot of handmade in what has primarily become a commodities marketplace. As I sifted through the results though (and believe me I didn’t sift through them all or I’d still be doing it), I noticed that many of those “handmade” products are not handmade by the person selling them, which really muddies the waters if you are looking for products that are handmade by the artisan. There’s lots of fair trade products on eBay, and lots of items that I’m not sure I would believe are actually handmade, but hey, who am I to judge?

So I searched Indie… 3,000 plus listings here but these referred mostly to vintage indie-designed clothing, s that won’t work.

eBay has categories for finished crafts and artisan jewelry. I don’t make jewelry but I know I don’t use the finished crafts category often because I don’t get great results there.

Self-representing artists have their own category and they also have EBSQ, which is an association for self-representing artists. When you see this tag on an art listing, you know it has been created by the person selling it.

We need something like this for eBay artisans as well. A tag, an acronym, an organization we can promote on eBay listings that defines us as self-representing artisans and crafters.

Yes, we have Etsy, and it’s growing and making a name for itself. Based on views vs. sales though, I still think I’m being checked out primarily by other sellers. I have less visitors on eBay but a much higher sell-through. That’s because eBay is established and reaches a mass consumer market. And I’ve been there longer.

Most eBay pundits feel that niche marketing is the way to build a future on eBay. Actually, that’s the way to build an Internet business. And you can’t get more “niche-y” than a handmade line of whatever it is you are creating.

So I think we need to come up with a new keyword for our eBay titles that makes it clear that the items we are selling on eBay are handmade by us. And then we need to let the masses know. It will certainly help our target customer find us without having to sift through 48,971 listings.

Any suggestions?

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