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Monday, August 30, 2010

Putting Words into Action

I'm putting my words into action.  Remember the article I wrote last week about 5 Things to do TODAY That Will Bring You Success?  Remember #4?

"Create Content.  It's important for people to know you off Etsy, too!  Let people know more about you through other venues.  You can post photos on flickr,  create a facebook fan page, or just post a comment on a blog that you follow.  Be funny, smart, weird... let people identify with you, and they'll feel more comfortable making that purchase!  Just don't be spammy.  Nothing will turn them off faster."

Turns out, that's easier than you think.  Last night I was browsing through the Etsy forums and saw the question "Does Anyone Know the Buzzwords for September?"  Well, it just so happens that I knew the answer to that question.  I researched it a few weeks ago for my article September Merchandising, and included a link to that post in the forums.  That link brought my blog a lot of traffic.  Most people just stopped by without comment, and that's fine.  I hope they learned something and will be back soon.  That  link also brought me two new subscribers (welcome to my world).
This map was created with my Wibiya widget, and shows the traffic to my blog in the last twenty four hours. 
I'll fully disclose that I actually posted two items on the forums last night (the second post was a question of my own), and the map doesn't differentiate.  I can tell you that I posted my photographic question at 11:35pm last night, it's now 8:53am and I had four clicks to that link on my blog since that posting..  My link about September Merchandising  was posted at 12:25am and now at 8:53am that article has had 43 views.  (BTW, that information was gained using my feedjit widget.)  Considering both posts were made while my part of the world was probably sleeping, I'm pretty excited about this.

And if you're wondering, I still haven't heard from Jason Calacanis.  That's okay, it's only 9am on Monday morning.  To be fair, I did start my experiment  Saturday around 1:30am.  I'm sure Mr. Calacanis is a busy man... but I expect I'll hear from him soon in one way or another.  And you'll be the first to know! 

Happy Monday!  If you're having trouble getting started this morning, this is what I did to get going... danced the Mambo with my two-year-old and Gloria Estefan on Elmopalooza.  The day is looking better already!

Have a great week!

All the best, Jessica

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Photographic Standards for Etsy?

Just for my sake of understanding, when does a photograph become "not" a photograph?  I have both of these photographs listed in my Etsy shop right now.  The bottom photograph is the original, although I, of course, use a photo editor to bring out the best in my work.

The photo above, I have obviously done more than just a basic "touch up" to the photograph, and I'm not sure at what point it would be considered "art" and not a photograph, by Etsy or anyone else's standards.  Any thoughts?

I have the original described as an "artistic photograph" and the kaleidoscope described as a "manipulated photograph".

Now I wonder if I should use "fine art photograph" for photos such as the original, and "artistic photograph" for ones that I have truly manipulated.  Or if there is another way altogether to describe it. 

I couldn't find anything specifically about this in the forums.  Is there a standard for this type of thing?  I did see several posts in the forums about the difference between "fine art photograph" and just a "photograph", but nothing that referenced manipulated photos. 

TaraFlyPhotos   recommends altered, digital, and maybe pop art to describe these photos... does that sound good to you?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

So who is Jason Calacanis, anyway? Link-Bait and Headlines

Exerpt from The Daily Feed #12 on Feedjit
At the end of yesterday's post, , I left a teaser about Jason Calacanis.  Who is he, anyway?  Jason Calacanis was born in Brooklyn and is the CEO of   The beginnings of his career include Silicon Alley during the dot-com boom, where he was former Editor of Silicon Alley Reporter, he was GM of Netscape  and he was co-founder of Weblogs. Inc.  Jason always keeps his trusty bulldog Toro by his side and  he must also be a Knicks fan, because he sounded excited about them signing Patrick Ewing Jr. to a free-agent deal on twitter.

So you can see why his attention could bring your blog or  website traffic.  His is a respected name in the internet world, and if he links to you it could bring a ton of people to your website just by association. 

The reason I wrote about him is because I had just received the Daily Feed  from Feedjit, and Daily Feed Issue #12 talks about link bait, and how to make it work for your blog.  This issue links to New Calacanis Link Baiting Rules, of which he is the author.  His article explains link bait step-by-step, and I'll let you know Monday if they worked.  Jason, if you're here, will you leave a comment, please?  (By the way, that view from 100 Wilshire is amazing!  The water and the sky seem to go on forever!)

(Did you do the 5 things I recommended in yesterday's post?)

Now onto headlines.  That's the topic of Daily Feed #14.  Feedjit's blog explains that creative headlines inspire people to want to link to you, which then creates a pyramid of traffic.  They explain that people love lists, so anytime you have a headline that includes a promise of a list, people automatically click on it.  Okay, I know it sounds weird, but Feedjit claims this is scientifically proven.  Just read their blog for the explanation.  That's why I titled yesterdays blog 5 Things To Do TODAY That Will Bring You Success.  I then posted the title in the Business Topics forum at Etsy with the 5 steps, and invited readers to my blog to read more.  The views on my blog are up 3330% right now, and my Etsy shop is up 125.31% .  So, I think that headline helped a little.

Be sure to check out my latest treasury, featuring Piedmont Triad NC etsians!  You'll find links to the treasury on the right hand side of your screen.

Click Here to See the Full Treasury

Oh, and Jason?  Yesterday was National Dog Day.  I made a  treasury on Etsy in celebration of that, too.  And I'll bet you find something great for Toro there.

And if it's not too much trouble, could you leave a comment on the treasury, too?

All the best, everyone!  Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 Things To Do TODAY That Will Bring You Success!

Kitschy and Vintage Yellow Rolling Pin
Etsy has been busy!  They have been rolling out so many great improvements for us, both as buyers and sellers!  They've made treasuries searchable by keyword, you can now browse etsy in the currency of choice, wider pages, new checkout ... it's a lot keep up with!  There are several things that you need to do today to keep your shop running seamlessly and bring success.

1. Update your sales tax setting.  Etsy is rolling out the new check out this week, and if you have sales tax settings at PayPal, the new checkout will ignore these settings.   Make sure you set sales tax rates on Etsy today!  The deadline was at 12am this morning (Thursday, August 26), and if you have not yet done it, any sales you have through the new check out are not being charged any sales tax.  You can read Etsy's update about collecting sales tax here.    You can also learn about individual state's sales tax requirements here.

2.  Check your tags.  Use words that describe style, texture, color, size, theme.  Vary your tags between items so that your work will be seen in different searches.  Use all fourteen available tags!

3.  Set your location.  Not only will you get invites to art and craft shows, more people are choosing to support local business people.  Etsy makes it easy for those shoppers with the shop local page.

4.  Create content.  It's important for people to know you off Etsy, too!  Let people know more about you through other venues.  You can post photos on flickr,  create a facebook fan page, or just post a comment on a blog that you follow.  Be funny, smart, weird... let people identify with you, and they'll feel more comfortable making that purchase!  Just don't be spammy.  Nothing will turn them off faster.

5.  Promote others as you would have them promote unto you.  Okay, I'll be honest about this.  My Etsy shop isn't doing that great.  I could get frustrated and hang it up, but to me it's about more than that.  I see other people being successful, and I know that will be me soon!  I believe that it's really important to promote other etsians just as much as I promote myself, because right  now, Etsy's success is my success.  If I were a shop at the mall, it would be awful for the other stores to start closing down around me.  Who would come shop at my store if I were the only one left?  If I know the shop around the corner has awesome gifts for Grandpa, I'm going to share that... even if it means the customer shops around the corner today, instead of in my shop.  The customer will appreciate the fact that I pointed them in the right direction, and the other shop owner will appreciate the recommendation, and maybe recommend me when someone comes to them looking for beautiful bracelets or artistic photos.

So go put on the coffeepot or teakettle, and get moving.  Make your shop successful.  Get these five things done and make it work!

By the way, last week I mentioned feedjit, a widget that helps you track the traffic to your blog or website.  I also mentioned their awesome newsletter.  I caught up on two newsletters today, and I learned two great tools about creating traffic to your blog or website.  I'm using both techniques today, and we'll see how it does for me... I'll tell you more about both tomorrow!  Jason Calacanis,  I'm onto you!  Thanks, feedjit!  Wish me luck!

All the best, Jessica

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Piedmont Triad Living: Movie at the Park: Harmon Park in Kernersville NC

Click the link to see my review of Movie at the Park!
Piedmont Triad Living: Movie at the Park: Harmon Park in Kernersville NC: "Kernersville Parks & Recreation Department, we had a fantastic time at your first Movie in the Park last Friday! We had been anticipating t..."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

K'ville Indie Flea

On Saturday, the girls and I went to the K'ville Indie Flea at 134 North Cherry Street in Kernersville, NC.  This is located in the Time Warner Cable parking lot in downtown Kernersville.  Vendors set up every Saturday April-October from 8am-2pm.  When we went, there were five vendors, and I was happy to see that several of them are etsy shop owners!

First stop at the Flea was  Bee Gracious.    What craftmanship, what woodworking, what color, oh my!  These beautiful woodworked masterpieces are the creation of Darrell and Frankie of Hamptonville, NC.  I just love the birdhouses and bird feeders, and I especially love their butterfly houses!
The vendor next to Bee Gracious was jewelry designer Jessica Allen, with Nailed at the Cross.   Her husband, Bradley, was manning the booth when we were there. They make beautiful necklaces, handcrafted with real nails and wire.  Each one was a little different, with various beads intertwined and an assortment of colored wire.  Jessica has a large selection of beautiful cross necklaces, and if you can't make it to the K'ville Indie Flea, she can email you photos of the different styles and colors available. 
Fit To Be Dyed  was next, and their shop features upcycled high end, new and gently used articles with original colors and design.  They have added fabulous color to more than just tee-shirts!  There are beautiful strapless dresses, button down shirts, baby onesies and toddler outfits, too!  Fit To Be Dyed is also committed to donating 20% of their profits to deserving organizations, such as Leslie's House homeless woman's shelter and the Brenner Children's Hospital.

Marla Kurzec of MAK Designs creates one-of-a-kind artisan jewelry that is uniquely and painstakingly wire wrapped.  Her jewelry is extremely intricate and very, very beautiful.   Marla uses semiprecious stones, sterling silver, estate/vintage/antique beads, crystal, copper, brass and glass.   She also created this glass mosaic gazing ball, which is fantastic beyond belief. 
Last but not least is Chris Federico, founder of the K'ville Indie Flea.  She has a lovely space filled with vintage jewelry, glass and home decor.                                                                       
 We did arrive after 1pm... my apologies to the vendor that was packing up as we got there.

The participating vendors vary from week to week.  More the reason to stop by every Saturday!  You never know who or what you may find at the K'ville Indie Flea.  I'm planning to vend there myself in September and October... I'll keep you posted as to the dates I'll be there!

Follow Marla of MAK Designs here
Follow Darrell and Frankie of Bee Gracious here

All the best, Jessica

Monday, August 23, 2010

Braided Wire Cuffs

Spontaneous Braided Wire Cuff by soulenergy
Sooo... I'm trying something a little different.  If you follow soulenergy on etsy, you know that my shop is filled with beautiful, colorful and unique bracelets made on memory wire.  I've been experimenting with the wire a little, and I've created several cuff bracelets, braiding the wire.  Please take a moment to leave a comment, tell me what you think!  
Lentil Curry Braided Wire Bracelet by soulenergy

Autumn Leaves Braided Cuff Bracelet
My favorite is the one up top, with the white glass pearls, black glass and spontaneous hot pink beads!  And the one to the right, with the yellow background is also fantastic... that one I'm keeping for myself!  The two on the bottom are more creations in the popular earthy autumn colors.

All the best, Jessica

Digital Scavenger Hunt- Summer 2010

I'm participating in a digital scavenger hunt sponsored by Pink Dandy and I'm ready to go live with my finds!  My girls and I had a great time completing the list, and you'll see that we were able to find most of our items at our favorite parks!  First item on the scavenger hunt list, Love.  Love was easy... I took this photo of my girls on the birthday of my youngest.  I love them, they love me, and they really, really, love each other!
Next word on the list, crime.  This one not so easy, and not able to fulfill at the park.  Since we were trying to complete our list at the parks we played at, I thought maybe I could find some litter... I'm happy to say we didn't.   I did, however, see these nice police officers outside of the next building yesterday... and I don't think they were visiting.
Man, has it been a hot summer!  Heat was the next word we were scavenging for.   This digital reading in the van was actually lower than we've been seeing most days... I wish I had photographed it when it said 102!  Got this photo on the way to the park, of course!
I wanted to be sure I knew, really, what organic means, so I swung on over to Wikipedia's definition of organic.  Their definition for organic is: matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or the product of decay, or is composed of organic compound.  The next day the girls and I explored Old Salem, a living history museum.  In the Single Brothers' Garden, there was a peach tree, with fallen, decaying peaches scattered below, and busy bees nibbling away.  This was quite a sight!  As you can see, there were no less than twenty bees on this one peach.  I named this photo Organic Peach Feast.
Nature is next.  There is almost nothing more perfect in nature than a butterfly.  We have found the perfect butterfly bush with many willing models!
The tree sits at the side of the walking trails in our park... it sits broken.  I wonder what happened.  Could it have been hit by lightning years ago?  Now, it's trunk hollowing out and decaying, it's broken edges smoothing as the time passes.  I expect that at one time this was a very grand tree. 
Our town has really great parks!  There is awesome playground equipment at nearly all of them, and this one has bright and colorful blues and oranges! 
This photograph cannot even express how tall the tree really is!  I set my camera in panarama mode and it filled two full shots.  This tree seemed to stretch clear up to the sky!  If you look closely, you can see where the other trees end, and this one keeps going.

We had a blast participating in this scavenger hunt!  Please check out the other bloggers participating!
Blog Links That Are Participating In The Digital Scavenger Hunt
All the best, Jessica

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just Get Here if You Can-- Treasury Challenge! Come Look and Vote!

Just Get Here if You Can...

Hello, all!  I'm participating in my first Treasury Challenge, (Thank you Fiona Designs for mentioning it on your blog!  I voted for you... and then created my own!)  I love curating treasuries!

Please click on the caption to view the full treasury, then go here to vote for me and/or enter the challenge yourself!

This challenge was based on the green American Tourister suitcase featured in the second slot of my treasury.  One of the rules was to  use the suitcase... and we could take it from there!  I hope you enjoy my treasury... and please vote!

All the best, Jessica

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hooray for Etsy Publicity!

Shibori style felted scarf-ivory by BlackbirdDesignHouse
How cool!  Etsy got a front page mention on!  The article features Christina Hendricks of AMC's Mad Men fame,  who models for her friend  Tamara Mello,  shop owner of BlackbirdDesignHouse on etsy.

The article does misspell etsy (esty?), but I added a comment at the end of the article that will (hopefully) direct people properly!  I wish Tamara all the best, and hope that her publicity will bring all of us etsians some traffic to our stores, as well! 

Civitan Park and Mt. Gur Cemetery

Civitan Park is at the corner of Bodenhamer and Nelson in Kernersville, NC.  It is a wide open space, with tennis courts, volleyball court, a shelter, a baseball field, and a track that travels around the baseball field.

The playground equipment has plenty of fun slides.  The monkey bars... well, I'm not sure they're really monkey bars.  Definitely not for small kids, built more for older kids... or a weight lifter.  No swings, or rock climbing walls here... but for a quick day at the park, really the slides are enough. 

These pretty crape myrtle are by the tennis courts...

Unexpected Hot Pink at the Foot of the Forest by soulenergy

While the girls continued their fun on the slides, I took a stroll up to the woods surrounding the park.  I found this really pretty, unusual bloom right on the edge.
     Usually, I can put in google keywords and scroll through the images until I can figure out what it is I'm looking at. This beautiful bloom, high in the sky amid the trees on the outskirts of a forest... I just can't figure it out. Google "tree pink tendril flower pods"... the closest I can come is the Samanea saman, also known as a Rain Tree or Monkey Pod Tree, but that is a tropical tree and probably not supposed to be here in North Carolina. NC has beautiful weather and hot summers, but tropical, we are not. I wonder if it's a hybrid of trees, because while the bloom looks like the Rain Tree, the pod does not. Whatever it is, it is beautiful, bright pink and cheerful among the solid green of the rest of it's world. It gives my soul energy.

As I explored the edge of the forest, I realized the Mt. Gur Cemetery set just beyond the Civitan Park.  I love strolling through cemeteries, especially old ones.    Mt. Gur was organized in 1894, and there are many headstones dated prior to that.

What a magnificent entrance into the cemetery!  These beautiful pink crape myrtle line both sides of the drive.  How it must comfort the families and friends of the deceased to know their loved one has such beauty surrounding them. 

At the end of the tree-lined entrance stand these two brick columns, donated to the cemetery in 1964.

It is such a special thing to read inscriptions of the loved ones.  This headstone honoring Mrs. Blanche Rumley is so sweet.  "It's wonderful how much He loves me."

I wonder if those were her last words?

And this one, for Gypsie Bowman Norman, simply "Our Mama".

Justice by soulenergy
A beautiful plot for the Justice Family. The first family member was buried at Mt. Gur  in 1914.  There is a stone bench  with a stately tree nearby, perfect for thought, contemplating, and remembering.

And as we cross back across the field of Civitan Park, I look forward and see this beautiful sight.

Breathe Out the Sky by soul energy

Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky.
- J. Daniel Beaudry, Breath

All the best, Jessica

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feedjit is Fun! How It's Helping Me with SEO

I've recently added feedjit, a live traffic feed, to my blog.  Feedjit lets you know, right now, who is visiting your site.  Maybe it's the "nosy" in me that likes this information, but I think it's very helpful to see who's visiting, where they're from, and what links they're clicking on from my blog.  When I added this feed to my blog, I also  signed up for their daily newsletterI usually find these highly boring and quickly deleted, but this one is a little different.  Each day this week they have focused on ways to improve your SEO  (search engine optimization-- you know, how people find you!)   They summed up SEO and how to make it work for you in one, colorful sentence:

"Create new, unique and useful web pages, host them on a user-friendly website that Google can understand and make sure the right people know about them."

Makes sense, doesn't it?  I hope that I am doing all of the above.  I'm learning something new every day... As I've said before, I am  not an expert.  But, I know how to learn from other people's experience and expertise.  And I'm glad that you're coming along for the ride.  

All the best!  Jessica


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Etsy Selling Tips, Tagging, and Strawberries!

Birds A-Z Alphabet by Bold & Noble
I love Justine Smith!  She's a former etsy seller turned Media Consultant, and her her knowledge has been very helpful to me.  When I first started on etsy, I received a weekly email from her that was always chock full of great information.  She decided to take a turn in her endeavors, and that newsletter stopped... so, I'm happy to see an article by her on Outright, a place to get advice, and share your small business knowledge and experiences.  (I follow Outright on facebook and highly recommend it for you!)  Today, Outright featured etsy selling tips from a to z  by Justine.  This is a print-worthy article!  (Print-worthy would probably be my highest rating!  Ink is expensive!)  Justine is currently revamping her blog, but I'd bookmark or subscribe now, because I know she'll  continue to inspire when she's back.

How well are you tagging?  It can be hard to think of fourteen tags sometimes (and sometimes it's hard to only stick to fourteen.)  Here's a great article from the Storque with descriptive keywords useful for tagging your items.  I think it's important to tag with your location, also!  More people are shopping local on etsy, and don't always know that there's a shop local category   .  They will use their location as a search word instead.   Make sure those customers are finding you!  I read in the forums that a lot of people search specifically by country, with shipping cost in mind.  After reading that post, I started using "North Carolina USA" as one of my tags.

Mmmmm... Still Strawberry Season Here!
Now click on over to my latest treasury! 
Sadly, strawberry season has passed. No more locally grown, juicy red bites of sweet pleasure 'til spring. I do have a couple of jars of my mom's homemade strawberry jam to get me through autumn and winter... and this beautiful treasury to drool over until next year!

I usually only feature handmade items in my treasuries, but today I included several vintage items as well.  Are you selective in that regard when creating your treasuries?

All the best,

I love the Wider Etsy! Brand Your Business, Find Your Name... Old Salem.

Old Wachovia Meet New Wachovia

There's lots of buzz about this on the forums... I love the wider format in my etsy shop!  I actually love everything about it. My jewelry and photography look bright, brilliant, and beautiful. The shop announcement is perfect (yes, I know that's very controversial in the forums.  But really, I was saying way too much, and so was everyone else.  Just let me shop... I'll get to the information you want me to see before I purchase).  And the left-side format makes sense to me.  What do you think?
Salem College
Single Brothers' Workshop

Old Salem Coffepot

Private Residence Old Salem
I wish I had seen this list of services... oh, about a year ago.  On etsy and email, I'm soulenergy... on yahoo, blogger and weebly I had to use soulenergyjewelry because soulenergy was already taken.  Well, take the time now to check out this article about Seven Services to Find and Reserve Your Name Across the Web.   I just did, and went ahead and reserved my name in a couple of places... and even then couldn't always use soulenergy, my preferred hanger, since I'm expanding my art beyond jewelry. 

I took the girls to Old Salem yesterday, and we strolled through the eighteenth-century living history grounds.  Old Salem is a 15-20 minute drive from us... and it's been years since I've been!  If you'd like to learn a little about the history of Salem, NC and my hometown of Winston-Salem (the cigarettes are named for the city-- not the other way around), click on the pictures.  I've included the history behind the picture in my etsy description. 
Broken Sidewalk By a White Picket Fence
Organic Peach Feast