July 31, 2008

Wordle.

When I was about 8 years old, my mom joined the local theatre group and I spent the rest of my growing-up years backstage, on stage, or involved in a theatrical production one way or another. Part of the fun was learning how to take on the characteristics of the people portrayed on stage. Even as a props girl or running a follow spot light, it was fun to pretend to be someone else (and the other back stage personnel was my only audience.)

One year, Mom directed the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma!" and the title song required nearly all the members of the cast to take turns and sing one solo line. Some people could sing very well; others couldn't carry a tune if you put it in a bucket for them. I learned how to mimic the singing voices of the entire cast. (What can I say? I was bored one evening at rehearsal.) With an operatic old lady voice I would belt out "Flowers on the prairie where the June bugs zoom," then I'd change my voice to a soft and gravelly gentleman's voice "Plenty of air and plenty of room." For a week or two I kept it to myself, then one day I sang the whole song with all the voices for my mom. She was dumbfounded as I began, then burst into fits of laughter as I sang the line from the one guy who could not sing no matter how much coaching he had. I warbled out his line just like he did and Mom just lost it. From then on, I loved learning how to mimic voices and accents. I only do phrases that I've practiced, but it's a lot of fun.

A little footnote here: In 2005, Mom was cast as the Old Woman in an indie horror film, "Harvest."

Have you ever seen the ad on tv for the Magic Bullet blender? At one point the Australian guy exclaims that you can blend and serve smoothies "Right in it's own frosty mug!" We make smoothies for breakfast at least once a week and when I serve them, the Aussie guy's exclamation comes out of my mouth. And my too cool for words 12 year old daughter rolls her eyes, takes the smoothie, and exits the room. (I secretly think she's impressed.)

In fact, most of the time I like to embarrass my very hip 12 year old daughter by not acting my age or demographic. At home, I keep the voices alive by using a fake French accent, a fake Indian accent (which Indian? Both feathers and dots; I'm lousy at both,) as well as talking like I'm from the 'hood, Marlon Brando, Casablanca, you name it. Poor embarrassed Rachel nearly blanches when I refer to her friends as her homies (and I say that in my best suburban-mom-goody-two-shoes accent) and when she questions my authority, I give her my little speech about 'respecting the mom' and end it with "Word."

Why so I do this to my tortured middle schooler? Control. I can threaten to talk like this in front of her friends if she "disses" (disrespects) me. No, I don't threaten-threaten her; we have a strict rule at home about treating people with respect, regardless of the situation at hand. But she does know that I can break out in Valley Girl if she's with her friends and things get out of hand. I know she doesn't want any funny talking from me and she knows I don't want any back talking from her. One snotty comment out of her, especially in front of her friends and it's "OMG! Gag me with a spoon!" She's very polite after my outburst.

On the other hand, she's just as goofy as I am, talking like a German Chancellor while making spaghetti with me, or her latest: "LOL Speak" via email to me while I'm at work. What's LOL speak? A sample email from her would go like this.

"OH HAI, MOMMEH. DO U KNOE WER I CAN FIND MAH BLU HAT? IF U DOAN KNOE, I CAN HAS UR BLU SCARF? LET ME KNOE, K?"

(Hi, mom. Do you know where I can find my blue hat? If you don't know, can I have your blue scarf? Let me know, ok?)

At home we love words. A few years ago, Mr. Pass It On Plates and I built a ten foot wide by six foot tall wooden bookcase to hold all our books. (Problem is, it doesn't hold them all.) Words are interesting in print and interesting when spoken. The funny thing is that even though we're fascinated by words, Mr. Pass It On Plates is Deaf and we communicate at home in sign language. Yes, I have a fascination with signs and that's a whole 'nother blog post.

That said... (*sigh* ok you have just been exposed to my innate weirdness. I had been holding it back for several months now. Yes, I agree - I think it is hereditary. Maybe the last 9 paragraphs were just TMI - Too Much Information?)
Here's a 180-degree turn from what I just told you but ... (and BTW, I love the name of this website and my have to work it into my various languages with my 12 year old punk.)

What the heck is Wordle? It's a super-nifty bit of programming that takes text that you type in OR it takes text from a URL that you provide and pulls out words. Wordle then arranges the words into a word cloud. You can choose from a long list of interesting fonts that I (the "font queen" at home) have never heard of, and you also get to mold the shape of the words. You also control the color.

I absolutely love this. I think I'm going to have to put this on a shirt or tote bag.

**Promotion tip - you could use your Wordle on promotional items such as shirts, hats, tote bags, jeans, book covers, magnets, business cards, your website, pillow cases, baby onsies, program an embroidery sewing machine with it, coffee mugs, mouse pads, etc etc etc, ad nauseum. And you're allowed to sell these items for a profit. I checked the Wordle FAQ and they say it's ok.

This collection of words captures the essence of what I'm doing here, and I got to pick my favorite colors. I think this looks a lot like my business personality. (My personal personality is a lot more of the goofy accents and weird language shared with my daughter. Some day I'll make a wordle based on that part of my life. Maybe around Halloween would be a good time to unveil that part of me...)

So this is my Wordle, in all it's happy-colored glory. I saved the picture and uploaded it to my Flickr. If you click on the picture it will take you to my Flickr and if you click the link atht e beginning of this paragraph it will take you to Wordle.net where you can see the original (and a better quality image.) The words are based on what was on the first page of this blog on July 21, 2008.


wordle from 7-21-08, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

I have to give credit to the fun artists who got me on to this. I first read about Wordle in a post at KMC Designs entitled: Duct tape wallet with an American Trilogy. Next, I read the comments under the post and wanted to check out Eskimimi's word cloud.

Are you as intrigued about this as I am? Go to Wordle and make your own word cloud. Save it, and then please leave a comment here with a link to your own wordle. If mine is a visual wordle-y representation of my personality, I'd love to see what yours looks like.

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July 29, 2008

Promotion tips from Joanna Goldman

Dear readers, in following up with more interviews with Etsians and bloggers, I present to you some valuable information from Joanna Goldman. She is doing an outstanding job using many different places to market her Etsy store, and when she replied to my request for people to interview for this project, I immediately recognized her work from the car loaded with Ikea packages to the soulful little elephant with the big eyes. Perhaps you have seen her work here and there?
So Joanna, please tell us about the techniques you use to promote your Etsy shop.

As an Etsy seller, I'm basically trying to get my name and shop out "there" (the mega-giant world wide web!).

All my promos have a consistent branding feel to them. I think that this is important. I recently had a customer who saw my shop a while ago and liked my stuff, but didn't buy right away. What got her to purchase something was seeing one of my ads on majaba.org. It just goes to show that a strong presence makes a difference.

I use a number of different promo techniques to get recognized:

Blogs: http://www.joannagoldman.blogspot.com
I blog mostly for promo purposes. On my blog you will find my latest creations, articles that i was recently featured in, and coupons etc for my Etsy shop.

Website: http://www.joannagoldman.com
My website useful and more "professional" looking than my blog. It basically cuts out all the fat and shows who I am and what i do. I try and keep it as clean and simple as possible.

Other sites:
I use flickr, facebook, myspace, Etsy forums, other forums, (and a whole bunch of other stuff that I'm forgetting about) as promo tools. This kind of marketing doesn't usually lead to immediate sales, but I've had success months down the line.

There is a great forum post that lists a billion places to list yourself on the web. http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5703544
I'm am steadily making my way through this list, and I think it's helping!

In addition to the free promo-ing, I've been sponsoring events, donating my items to be sold for charity, and participating in online contests.
I've started doing paid advertising too. So far I've done majaba.org, project wonderful, and I have the handmade children's showcase on Thursday. All of these have gotten me tons of hearts and more exposure. I am sure they will pay off in a few months time.

In addition to Etsy, I am also consigning out my stuff to 3 stores: 2 in Toronto, Canada, and one online (http://www.trendyshoppes.com/)

It is important to keep in mind that building a business takes time. You have to plant many, many seeds before you can start to see any results. So far I've only sold 71 items off Etsy, but I'm still relatively new to this. I'm confident that this holiday season will be a successful one.

Stay positive, stay motivated, work hard and success will follow.


Thank you Joanna, for sharing your many different avenues for promoting your Etsy shop. I too, will go check out that Etsy forum post to work my way through the billions of places on the web to list my own shop.

Dear readers, when Joanna touches upon her consistent branding as part of her promotion (in her second paragraph) that basically means that once you see one of her promotions or ads or visit her shop, you recognize and remember her every time you see another promotion or ad. This is important, because it takes a while for a new advertisement to sink in. As long as your message is consistent, each view will work its way deeper into your customers' subconscious until they can't live without what you have to offer. This was true more than 120 years ago and is still true today. Joanna has figured this out and her consistency is paying off.

Now please go and check out her Etsy shop and her links! I bet you'll find a favorite or two!
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July 27, 2008

Poppy Paradise with Chunky Bee

Isn't this cute?

July 26, 2008

Bottlecap Magnets

Maybe it's stalling or procrastinating.


Last Thursday I was making a bunch of Pretty Little Doo Dads and was busy making a bazillion hot pink bows. The glue gun was out and I became distracted by some bottle caps on the fridge.

Digging through a drawer, I found a handful of other bottle caps and a package of round magnets. Here is what I spent the next half hour making:

bottlecap magnets, originally uploaded by passitonplates.
I sent this package to a friend half way across the country. She said she likes beer, and she loves the magnets. (Hey Michelle, can you send me some Corona bottlecaps?)

Would you like to make some? Easy peasy.

1. Plug in your glue gun to heat it up.

2. While waiting for the glue to heat up, drink a bottle of pop for the cap. Or you can have a beer. Just make sure that if the cap is not the screw-off type it doesn't get warped by the bottle opener. Have you been collecting bottle caps for such a project? Go find em. We'll wait for you.

3. Pump about 3 or 4 triggers of glue into the bottle cap, and let cool until just barely firm. This will elevate the surface the magnet sits on so the magnet will be able to contact the surface you'll stick it to...
Like the fridge, as it holds up your grocery list...
...the list that reminds you to buy more pop. Or beer.

4. Squeeze a blob of glue to the magnet and carefully place it in the center of the cap. Be careful not to burn yourself as you hold it in the center. Use a toothpick if you're chicken. The magnet will want to slide to the rim and stick there. The rim is metal, after all. Push on the magnet, if necessary, to level it out.

5. When cool, stick it on the fridge. Or wherever. I stuck three to a card and sent it to my friend.

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July 25, 2008

I don't send thank you notes anymore...

I send Thank You plates.
With cookies.

Sometimes I feel guilty doing this because I get a Thank You note back for my Thank You plate.

It's a Catch-22.

July 24, 2008

Another Technorati Experiment

Like the Technorati Experiment post, I found another similar experiment solely for Blogger blogs on Trestin Meacham's blog and decided, why not add this, too?

Here is what to do:
1. Be a Blogger user with a blogger blog (this includes .coms that use a blogger platform)
2. Copy and paste this list into your blog (you can do it as an older post so it does not interrupt the flow of your blog.)
3. Make sure the links in your post are working links
4. Add your Blogger link in the comments, and the link to the post you copied the list in.


THE LIST

1. BLOGGER IDEAS
http://trestinideas.blogspot.com/

2. NATHOLOGY
http://nathanlawis.blogspot.com/

3. TRESTIN HOME
http://trestinmeacham.blogspot.com/

4. Sound Libraries by Discovery Sound
http://samplecds.blogspot.com/

5. World Ethnic Sample CDs
http://discoverysound.blogspot.com/

6. TRESTIN HISTORY
http://trestinhistory.blogspot.com/

7. LDS STUFF
http://ldsstuff.blogspot.com/

8. Super Space Cowboy
http://superspacecowboy.blogspot.com/

9. TRESTIN POLITICAL
http://trestinpolitical.blogspot.com/

10. Jill's Grumbles
http://jillsgumbles.blogspot.com/

11. Trestin Sports
http://trestinsports.blogspot.com/

12. Flotsam and Jetsam

http://iamtolkienreader.blogspot.com/

13. ASK TRESTIN
http://asktrestin.blogspot.com/

Join us and spread the word!

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Technorati Experiment

The day after I published this post about using Technorati to promote your blog, Laurie posted this Technorati experiment on her own blog. We'd love to have you participate!
Please copy the text below:

Technorati Experiment
Copy the list below into a blog post of yours.
Add your link to the list
Comment on this post so that we can update the list with your link
Watch your Authority skyrocket..

1. Brad Blogging.com - Personal Blog Tips And Blog Help 2. Daily Blogging Tips At The Daily Rambler 3. Blog Chews - Blog About Anything 4. Steve v4.6 - Big Made Small 5. GIVEAWAY CITY 6. Indo Contest.com - Find the Latest Contest Here 7. POTPOLITICS-We Smoke the Competition 8. ATA - AskTheAdmin.com 9. Dolly’s Daily Diary 10. The Tech Juice - Tech Tips And More 11. Wendy’s OBA, Blog Tips & Tricks 12. Wendy’s Reel - Fact And Fancy 13. A Grateful Heart 14. 50+Whatever..Just some Ramblings in Life 16. The Blog for DesignCreatology 17. Contest Whiz - The Blog Contest Expert 18. About Blog Contests 19. Esmeraldasblog - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati 20. Best Widgets for free - Blog Widgets 21. New life by Pitonizza 22. Todo Seiya - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati 23. Blog for Spanish Readers 24. The Blogger And The Blog 25. Hero Help 26. Makmalcyber 27. Forex Study 28. Techyplus 29. 8 30. Darn Good Reviews 31. Blogger Tips - DotBlogger 32. Lilyruths This and That 33. That Blog 4 Me 34. Pinoytek - Make Money Online and SEO Blog 35. Snigit(blogspot) 36. Snigit(.com) 37. Best Of The Web 38. Swat the Fly 39. Area3000 40. Shut Up And Eat 41. Find Torrent Blog 42. Cebu in the World 43. Web Design 44. Trestin Adventures 45. Ask Trestin 46. Trestin Autobiography 47. Trestin Ideas 48. Trestin Gallery 49. Trestin Games 50.Trestin Hall Of Fame 51. Trestin History 52. Parnell Forever 53. Trestin Political 54. Trestin Spiritual 55. Trestin Sports 56. Trestin Store - Yep, Each One Of These Are Different Blogs. 57. The Ordinary Agung 58. Il blog di Luca Marchi 59. What About Brazil? 60. Shri Radha Krishna Blog 61. Hawaiian Travel Blog 62. Hawaii Cruise Superstore 64. Over The Sky 65. Yavinator log 66. I Travel to Work do you? 67. The Home Page of Tony Smith, Writer of Comic Books, Articles & Screenplays 68. Ultimate Credit Online 69. The Rhythm of Write 70. A Hoosier Family 71. Analyzed Marketing Solutions 72. O2S Media 73. Project Swole - Fitness and Nutrition 74. Life is simple, Don’t make it complicated 75. Yet Another Blog from Marco Ciacci 76. Freebies, Making money and More 77. Babysitter On Board 78.Vhiel’s Corner 79. Anything and Everything in Between 80. Designs By Vhiel 81. Can of Thoughts 82. Only in Silence 83. Everything Nice! 84.Reference Notes 85. It’s a woman’s world! 86. Ramki’s Blog 87. THE MOM WITH BROWNIES 88. Picture Clusters 89. Maiylah’s Snippets 90. My Wanderings 91. Confessions of a Supermodel Wannabe 92. Tiklaton: We are the Witness! 93. Aeirin Collections 94. The Big Dog 95. O’Joy of my life… 96. Through the Rain 97. More Than A Mom 98. Say Cheese 99. The Journey 100. Photo Hook 101. Life Quest 102. Dew Drops - Making Sense… Somehow 103. The Small Business Marketing Blog 104. TheSuburbanFarmer 105. Konaini Blog 106. Worldly Economic Thoughts 107. Esperto Seo 108. gd labs gianfranco davide reppucci Blog 109. insidetheworld Italian Linux and Security Blog team 110. The Back Forty 111. studentefreelance 112. The Barber Bunch 113. Doremixy 114. CoffeeCoffeeCoffee 115. This Side of Eternity 116. Think Creative 117. Moomettesgram’s Musings 118.The Daily Dollar Report 119. The Sweet Life 120. Box 5150 121. Your Fun Family 122. No Nonsense Internet Tips 123. Brazoscowgirl 124. Pandu Cari Duit Blogging For Profit 125. Cash In Style - Making Money Online 126. Speedcat 127. The4thWall 128. Sconicle 129. Heap Up 130. Zchelle’s World 131. My Life…. My Journey! 132. God’s Creation 133. Family Health & Relationships 134. My Inner Feelings 135. PICTURE THIS !!! 136. Ezekun 137. Welcome To Our Homeschool Adventures 138. Schlossy’s Blog 139. Teasas Tips 140. Affiliate Revenue Resources 141. DouDy Sketche Watercolor Paintings 142. Pictures in Egypt 143. Painting Artworks 144. Optimizing for Search Engines 145. Creaky Easel 146. The Loquatious Artist 147. Straight from the Heart 148. Advertising for Success 149. Take It To The Limit 150. Il Migratore 151. MsTrisMusic.Com 152. Viaggi 153. Monkey Giggles 154. Supla Online 155. Daily Reflection 156. Techno Zone 157. Free Blogging Resources - Blogoninja 158. Wcgiligan 159. Stranger 160. Runjun Blog 161. Scelto 162. GBLOGS 163. Rajiv’s Blog! 164. Codexofdreams 165. The Artist's Muse 165. Laurie Beggin's Glass Musings http://lauriebethbeggin.blogspot.com/ 166. Pass It On Plates and the Pass It On Plates Blog 167. Pink Crab Creations 168. wizeguyztees
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July 23, 2008

Interview with UneekDollDesigns

Today we have an interview with UneekDollDesigns, who makes the most amazing little dolls based on historical figures from all periods in history. Just visiting her Etsy store is an interesting history lesson. Each doll is one of a kind, as she does not use a pattern. This talented lady took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk about what she does to promote her Etsy shop.


Lady Jane Grey in Red

What online tool, technique, or activity has been the most successful in generating sales?

That's a good question! Being fairly new at this, I am sure there are better ways that I just haven't found yet, but thus far I would have to say photo sharing websites have been a help to me the most. Even though you can't blatantly advertise your wares with your pictures in most cases, you can get pictures of your items out there where many people can see them. That sparks curiosity, and that may lead to a sale. I also participate in forums. You don't want to get on there and seem like you're just there to advertise yourself- but participate in the actual topics and adding your URL if allowed also gets you out there!

Is is easy to get your pictures into photo sharing websites or participate in forums?

Not being computer savvy, blog savvy, or computer savvy, I'd have to say this activity(ies) as stated above are what I call "anyone can do this if I can". That is really what I look for- easy and uncomplicated tools to promote.

How much time do you spend doing this?

I would say a possible 15 minutes a day- give or take. If it takes too much time from me in creating my art, I just don't think it is worth it.


King Henry VIII Miniature Character

How has doing this increased product views? How about overall sales? How long did it take for you to see results?

It is really hard to say. I have honestly not tracked every sale to see how they found me in most cases. I did have a customer (repeat customer, by the way) find me by seeing my pictures I had posted on Flickr and seeing my profile there. Unless you ask every customer, you would have difficulty knowing what gets you the customers for certain. I do a little of whatever I can afford to do and figure it can't hurt. Just getting yourself out there as much as you can without being a nuisance is good. (By being a nuisance I mean forcing business cards for the umpteenth time on your friends to the point they run when you enter a room!)


Eliza Doolittle

What advice would you like to tell other Etsians who want to increase their traffic and/or sales?

First, make sure you have something that doesn't look like what 50 zillion other sellers have. Being different helps.

Second, watch your manners at all times, especially in the forums and to your potential customers. You'd be amazed how being polite and personably professional will help your business grow.

Look for every opportunity to let others know about your shop. Keep business cards handy at all times...if an opportunity knocks, answer it for Pete's sake! (smile!)

Lastly, keep your chin up. This really is an up and down type of thing. Sales come and go, they occur in clusters, or they may space out over weeks. Just realize each sale is one more step in a chain reaction- someone buys your item, they like it, they tell someone, and on it goes! Also, the less you grumble about lack of sales, the better your attitude will be and that will reflect in other areas, too.

Thank you for this opportunity, it is very kind of you!

And thank you, UneekDollDesigns, for sharing these promotion tips with us.

Dear readers, please take a moment and check out
her Etsy store as well as her flickr photostream. I am sure you will be amazed at the talent, skill, and keen eye that went into creating these truly unique dolls.



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July 22, 2008

More Technorati tips

Laurie Beth Beggin and I often chat with each other through our comments. Both on her blog and on mine. We met a few months ago through a link exchange on Indiepublic and have had our eye on each others' blogs ever since. I look to her for inspiration for my creative process and ideas to polish and improve my blog. Yes, I know here we have a lady (me) who makes plates with a Betsy Ross kind of bonnet looking at stained glass to become inspired, but hey whatever works, right? Seriously, Laurie B's blog is a fun and down to earth mix of craft, talent and skill, family and pets, flowers and country life... Just go and check it out. Trust me, you'll love her.

Anyhoo, in one conversation she mentioned that she had added the Technorati thing on her blog and wanted to know how to get more reciprocal links. That can be the tough part. Technorati counts reciprocal links once per blog. This means that even if I was to mention Laurie B's blog in every one of my blog posts, Technorati would only count it as one, since my blog is only one (out or many) places mentioning her blog by name.

I believe that Google, on the other hand, counts the number of times a blog is mentioned. So if I was to include a link to Laurie B's blog with every post, that would increase her Google rank.

Participating in link exchanges is a good idea to help those within a group improve not only their Google rank but also their Technorati authority. When she and I participated in the link exchange, most participating artists and crafters added links to the blogroll on the side of the blog. This is helpful with Google, but sadly, I have discovered, does nothing for your Technorati rank.

**Promotion tip - if you participate in link exchanges, not only add the participants to your blogroll, but make a little mention in your blog about the fact that you're adding these blogs to your blogroll. In fact, take a minute and mention what you like best about the links you're adding, and invite all your readers to visit the links you're adding. This will do four good things:
  1. It helps that blog's Google rank
  2. It helps that blog's Technorati authority
  3. It shows that you care about the quality of your content when adding only those links that are relevant to your blog to enrich your readers' experience,
  4. It can also bring in more traffic when those whom you've mentioned visit your blog to see what nice things you've said about them, and post about it on their own blogs.
It's a win-win in so many yummy flavors.
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July 21, 2008

Interview with artist Jessica Simanowski

....

Continuing to share what other bloggers and Etsians do to promote themselves, today's interview is with Jessie Simanowski, a talented painter and creator of plushies and fun accessories with two distinct Etsy shops: her paintings are sold at http://www.jessicasimanowski.etsy.com/ and her fabric designs are at http://www.jsartist.etsy.com/

If you are an Etsian, what online tool, technique, or activity has been the most successful in generating sales?

I think the best tool on Etsy is the renewing items function because it makes people find and see your stuff. Also the treasury is a great promotion tool. Making it on the front page is indeed the best promotion on Etsy.


In your opinion, what is the best way to promote yourself on Etsy? What method do you use?

To be added to treasuries it is best to make yourself known on Etsy. That works again with renewing your items everyday or show up in the Forums to connect with other Etsians.

How much time do you spend using this, per day? Per week?

Usually I spend around one hour a day on Etsy.



How has renewing items increased product views? How about overall sales? How long did it take for you to see results?

To renew your items makes more people come to your shop, therefore you automatically will get more views and more people who will heart your shop. If you are lucky some of these people put you in one of their treasuries and maybe you even make it to the main page. From there on many more people will heart you and put you in their treasuries.

Being on the main page has not always been a guaranty for me to sell something that day, especially not with my original paintings which are higher priced. If I had an item from my other Etsy Shop (JSartist.etsy.com) on the front page I sold something the same day.



What one piece of advice would you like to tell other Etsians who want to increase their traffic and/or sales?

I would say to renew everyday. And sometimes it helps to write in the Forums to make connections to other Etsians, that will always cheer you up.



One thing Jessie also mentioned is that she has a promo video about her paintings! She only mentioned this is passing, but this is a fun technique she has found to promote a lot of her paintings as if they're all part of a very curious dream.


Thank you Jessie, for taking the time to share some of your promotion tips and a lot of your creative work with us! Dear readers, please visit Jessie's two Etsy stores (links at the top of this post) and see more of what she has to offer.

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July 20, 2008

New PlateWrap!

My friend Susan wanted a Pass It On Plates made with a special fabric so she could take it to a family wedding in California. I told her I'd see what I have and went home and looked through my fabric collection. (Please tell me you're not surprised to hear that I have a pretty huge fabric collection.)

This lovely sheer fabric with squares slid out of the stack and I knew that was the one. I cut up and sewed the entire piece of fabric and have a total of four PlateWraps made from this sheer bit of lovely. Look - you can see the chocolate chip cookies and flying plate logo through the PlateWrap. It really is so pretty.


Sheer white squares, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

The back band is a white-on-white calico and I was careful to use white and neutral threads when sewing it so the stitching would not be so obvious if seen through the sheer top.


Sheer white squares back, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

Susan wanted her sheer fabric on a red plate because the wedding colors are red and white. I'll share a picture of her plate in a couple days - I just wanted to show you how nice this turned out. Oh, and the black thing behind the bow is the paint pen that travels with each plate. The pen could be pinned to the inside of the white band on the back if you want to hide it.

July 19, 2008

A sneak peek at what's coming

Do you bake? Do you sew? Can you write your name with a pen?

If you can answer YES to at least one of these questions, stay tuned for something BIG coming up this fall.

If you can answer YES to at least two questions, this just might be what you've been looking for.

Oh my gosh, if you can answer YES to all three questions, this may eliminate a lot of your holiday stress this year.

(Oh, no, I didn't just hint at Christmas. It's July - too early to breathe that word, My apologies!)

We've sent out several of these babies to be tested by seasoned Etsians and when they give us the royal thumbs up we'll tell you more. In fact, we're so darned excited about this that we're going to have a gi-normous giveaway as soon as they're ready.

Stand by . . .

July 18, 2008

Promotion Tip - Tell Etsy when you're mentioned

Over at Etsy, they have started an Etsy Press Club.
Jodie at Pretty Little Love Objects suggested letting Etsy know whenever you are mentioned in the press.

I checked into this and found a link to the new (as of January 2008) Etsy Press Club and also some info about how to let Etsy know when you're mentioned in the press.

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July 16, 2008

Interview with Jodie of Pretty Little Love Objects

Last week I posted a question to bloggers and Etsians, asking how they promote themselves. The response was tremendous and I'll be posting the interviews here as they come in. My hope is that this interview series will help a lot of newbies figure out where to start and also give seasoned bloggers/Etsians some ideas on where to focus their promotional energy for the best results.

Today's interview is with Jodie of Pretty Little Love Objects, an indulgent Etsy shop featuring her handmade jewelry and paper goods.



Do you blog for the sake of blogging or do you blog to promote another activity?

I blog over at 'Pretty Little Love Objects' http://prettylittleloveobjects.blogspot.com primarily to promote my Etsy shop http://www.blinkingmouse.etsy.com, where I sell individual love objects in the form of jewellery and cards. I talk a little bit about my general life but mostly I'm focused on my crafty side of life and I have my Etsy mini up at my blog permanently.

I also promote the beautiful things that other handmade sellers create. I have a Flickr group that I choose people from, regularly ask for tutorials at different crafty sources and have just got a big crop of seller interviews by appealing on the forums.

Of all the blogging tools, blogging communities, blogging techniques, and widgets and gadgets, what do you think has made the biggest impact for you?

I think when I placed the Buy Handmade button on my website that made a big impact in my blog traffic. I was getting 40 hits a day for about a month.

Also I find that when I do seller interviews with someone who belongs to a street team that massively ups my blog traffic as the whole team will pop along to see what's been said about a fellow member.

In terms of web search traffic most of my Google traffic comes from people looking for tutorials. Almost every day a few people will be brought to the blog by searching for a mini food tutorial or a way to make leg warmers.

What is the Buy Handmade button and how does it work?

I found the Buy Handmade button on Etsy. You sign up to take the Handmade pledge, stating that you will try to buy mostly handmade from now on. You just insert the code for the button in your blog layout and you get a pretty pink, green and white button.

As for finding tutorials and sellers to interview I usually post notice on the Etsy forums and at Craftster or Indiepublic to say I'm looking for someone interested in a little bit of exposure on a blog to help me out with some content.

How has the Buy Handmade button increased your blog traffic? How long did it take for you to see results?

Buy Handmade had results straight away but it's become less of a massive draw over time. It gets you a great amount of initial traffic though and shows that you really support the handmade movement, making you more popular with your fellow sellers.

How much time do you spend on blogging?

I try to have something new at my blog at least 3 times a week.



When selling on Etsy, what online tool, technique, or activity has been the most successful in generating sales?

Truthfully I think so far Facebook has been the best tool so far in terms of sales. I've made a lot of sales to friends by putting up pictures there and some of them have also agreed to hand out business cards for me.

Views have been generated by posting on Craftster, Myspace, Etsy forums, Flickr and various social networks as well as contributing articles to a few places. I'm also starting to do a lot of offline advertising.

How do you use Facebook to promote your Etsy?

I put pictures up at Facebook after I do a big product photo shoot. I put in my full Etsy description and a link to my shop. If someone wants to help me advertise they can find the link easily.

How often do you do this?

I don't do it that regularly, usually once a month.

How has using Facebook increased product views? How about overall sales? How long did it take for you to see results?

It's increased views and sales to friends are good as they boost my overall Etsy 'scores'. Friends tend to think of me if they need some fun and different jewellery now. I've also opened a business Facebook page to see if that makes a difference.

What one piece of advice would you like to tell other bloggers or Etsians who want to increase their traffic and/or sales?

Online advertising is all well and good, social networks are great places to meet other crafters and get fast, free advertising. However I think many customers are not viewing these adverts and are more exposed to traditional forms of advertising like fliers, business cards, bulletin boards so remember to diversify your marketing strategy.



Jodie, thank you for taking a moment to talk about how you promote your Etsy store. It looks like you are finding success using many different kinds of places to promote. Your comment to remember traditional forms of advertising, I think, is also one that many of us tend to forget about when working hard at promoting ourselves online.

Dear readers, please check out the pretty little love objects over at Jodie's Etsy and visit her blog to read some interesting interviews, find a tutorial, and learn about other very useful tips.

Thanks again Jodie, and I wish you continued success!

July 14, 2008

Do you use Technorati?

I've been seriously surfing blogs for the past couple of months and am incredibly impressed to see that so many artists, crafty people, SAHMs and WAHMs are online. Many, if not half of the blogs I read and creative businesses I visit (such as Etsy) are new this year. Reading various forums, I have started to notice a particular topic over and over:

How do I promote my blog and/or store?

The next several blot posts here will touch on some of the most commonly seen tools and techniques for blog and store promotion. Hopefully you'll find something new to help you out. Comments are encouraged - I'd love to hear how these tips have increased your traffic. Please comment with any other ideas, too.

Today's tip: Use Technorati.

What is it? Technorati is the mother of all blog tracking websites. It tracks who's saying what, who's blogging about whom, which blogs are linked to other blogs...

How do you use it? Go to www.technorati.com
Once you sign up, add your blog or blogs.
After you add your blog(s), you can click on "Blogger Central" on the right and get a little widget to put on your blog, like this:

Add to Technorati Favorites

Why do I need it?
1. Technorati tells you who is linking to you
2. Technorati ranks your blog according to how many other blogs link to you - the more blogs link to you, the higher your "authority."

3. Technorati tells you who is blogging about you

4. You can search and chart any word(s) you like, and can search for blog posts using this word/words. Here is the graph for a search on Bayfield, a beautiful little town in northern Wisconsin.
Posts that contain Bayfield per day for the last 180 days.

Who is using it?
Well frankly, a LOT of bloggers. You'll find the Technorati widget on these fine blogs.
Flora at Bone Head Studios
Waterrose at Waterrose Handcrafted Obsessions
Stacie at You Go Girl! Soaps (and check out her Technorati link to see how it looks)
Tanya of At The Honeysuckle Tree
Spincus of Considerations - The Art In Marketing

To sum it up:
Because Technorati finds blog feeds on its own, your blog may be listed without you even knowing it. Once you go there, and sign up/sign in, you can search for your blog and "claim it" as yours. You can also favorite other blogs. To boost the ratings of the blogs I read regularly, I have favorited all the blogs on my sidebar. The mention and link to the blogs in the paragraph above has increased the "authority" of each of them by one point. If I publish the links in the above paragraph a second time, their authority rank will increase by another point again. Authority is Technorati gold, so as you plan your blog posts, talk about other blogs and link to them to help their ratings.

For more information, you can check out Spincus's forum post at Considerations - The Art in Marketing.

Do you use Technorati? Please share how it has helped you!
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July 13, 2008

Getting to know Pam

I grew up in a small town way at the tippy top of Wisconsin, near Lake Superior. My town has a Catholic Church (big surprise) a cheese factory (again, big surprise) and a bar. (What? A bar??) No, actually two bars.
Our big town motto was Eat, Drink and Be Saved.

"Blink and you'll miss it" didn't apply due to the 90 degree curve in the road. Driving eastbound, you couldn't blink or you'd run directly into the Plywood Palace (when you click this link you'll see my comment; scroll up to see the picture). If you were coming from Ashland and heading west, you didn't dare blink to miss the town or you'd drive smack into the wall of the cheese factory and knock over the Virgin Mary's blue bathtub.

If you grew up in the upper midwest, you know exactly why Mary needs a bathtub and what shade of blue it is.

Of course I was an outcast there because we went to the Lutheran Church.
We were rebels, I tell ya.
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July 12, 2008

Scissors


Scissors, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

Purple spring loaded sewing shears and green pinking shears are my favorites, along with a hefty pair I picked up at Ikea.

My daughter is a lefty and the spring loaded ones and Ikea shears seem to work well for her, but other non-left-handed scissors are impossible when she needs to cut something.

Anyway, the purple and green ones both get used a LOT on sewing days.

Do you have a favorite pair of scissors? Comment here and share!

July 11, 2008

You Rock!

You Rock! award
I'm still relatively new to blogging and professional crafting and I'm amazed at the new tricks I learn every day. I don't learn these things by reading the online help files, but by reading other blogs, checking out other artists and crafters, and observing how they do things.

Because I have found inspiration and have learned valuable techniques from these other artists and bloggers, it's time for me to share some long overdue thanks and kudos to those who have unknowingly helped me along the way.

You Rock!
(in no particular order)

Jessica at How about orange...
Stacy at Psilology
Laurie Beth Beggin at Laurie Beggin Glass Musings
Megan at Brassy Apple
Heather and Tiffany at The Secret is in the Sauce
Kim at Today's Creative Blog

Ladies, grab the award and pass it on to a handful of other people who have inspired you or taught you some valuable things... and let them know that they totally rock!

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July 10, 2008

How do you promote yourself?

Reading various Etsy forums, I have started to notice a particular topic over and over:

"How do I promote my blog and/or store?"

I'd like to use my blog to post interviews with several Etsians/bloggers about their experience using various tools and techniques to help everyone else with this question.

By tools I mean those little badges you have on your blog sidebar, like:
  • As seen on Delightful Blogs
  • Blog Catalog
  • The Mom Blogs
  • Entrecard
  • Advertising via Project Wonderful or Indiego

And techniques such as:
  • Posting in the Etsy forums
  • Commenting on other blogs
  • Participating in communities like Indiepublic or MySpace

When publishing the interview with you, I'd like to include a little bit about you, share links to your blog and/or Etsy store, and show off some of your pictures.

Hopefully this info will help others figure out where to start and which direction to head with this overwhelming amount of choices for promotion.

If you are interested, please post a comment here with links to your blog and Etsy store, if you have one. I'll work my way through the list and contact everyone and start sending out interviews.

Sound good?
Good.
Can't wait to hear from you!
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July 9, 2008

Despite my cute girly plates...

... I have a very dark and warped sense of humor.
(No, I really don't know how to carry that over to my plates or PlateWraps. Any suggestions??)

Anyhoo, I was poking around the internet, as usual, and found this interesting local LA area blog called Franklin Avenue. It piqued my interest since I lived near Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis off and on for 13 years, and I was hoping it would be the same diverse street. Nope.

But...
I LOVE their toy store photos. "Lost" is great but I especially love the one with the sharks doing a little demo of their own.

Showing off what sharks were best known for.

Back in 1974.

You have got to see this: Franklin Avenue - Lost in San Luis Obispo
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July 8, 2008

Do you have a ™ ?

Last week I discussed how to create and start using a logo as part of your branding process. Part of the discussion included a bit on searching the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to make sure nobody else was using your design. (Read that post here.)

Let’s expand on this a little and go into trademarks and service marks. (A trade mark is for goods and a service mark is for services.) These are often words or phrases that uniquely identify you, your business, or your products. I’m paraphrasing here, and for a complete description, visit the USPTO page on Trademarks or check out CIPO, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

According to the USPTO and CIPO, registration of your trademark is not required. All you need to do is start using it to establish that it is yours*. You can, of course, register your mark, which among other things will help you in the case you may need legal protection or if you plan to register your mark in countries outside the US.

* I should clarify that first you must make sure nobody else is using the mark you intend to use. Thank you Stacy for pointing this out!

Once you establish that a mark is yours, you can place the ™ behind it. (Or the SM symbol, if you are using a service mark instead of a trademark.)

Some of our own trade marks are:

  • Pass It On Plates ™
  • PlateWrap™
  • Flying Plate™

Things you may be able to trademark or service mark could be:

  • Your blog title
  • Your Etsy store name
  • Unique products you design - an example of this could be "Tina's Tiny Tiles" "MorningSun Farms Goat Milk Soap" or "Shoobidybop!"
  • Your product names
  • Your product attributes like color, scent, sizes...
  • A DIY kit you create and package
  • A regular promotion you have at your store
    (remember, though, the term needs to be unique to you)
  • A specific online community that you manage


One note: in the USA, the ® symbol indicates a registered trademark or service mark and unregistered use of the symbol is illegal.

The USPTO and CIPO websites are well-written and easy to read. If you are interested in incorporating a trademark, service mark, or want more information about copyrights, check them out. If you live outside North America, you should be able to find your own country's trademark information by doing an internet search for the word "trademark" and your country name.

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July 6, 2008

Plate 0803049 with the Hot Peppers PlateWrap

We've got several new Pretty Little Doo Dads that will be added to our Etsy over the next month.

This one is Curls and it's in primary colors. It coordinates nicely with the Hot Peppers Plate Wrap, shown here. Some of the curls have wrapped around the green paint pen which is pinned to the PlateWrap to the left of the doo dad.

The Curls Pretty Little Doo Dad also comes in soft pastel colors and bright pastel colors. Check our Etsy store for these fun new additions to our Pretty Little Doo Dad line!
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July 5, 2008

Laundry tags


What's the laundry situation like at your house? Do you have baskets of dirty and clean sitting on the floor, waiting for a little action? Well, I hate to admit it, but we do. We're all so darned busy that sometimes laundry has to wait.

Problem is, sometimes I grab a load and start folding it only to realize that the top half is clean and the bottom half is dirty. Eww. Guess someone emptied the dryer into a basket of what they thought was clean laundry.

While waiting for inspiration to hit before digging into a big project (with a deadline, I might add) I made up some laundry tags. The glue gun was already heated up, so it was quick and easy.



Laundry tag back side, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

There were several wooden oval discs in a craft drawer, so I placed some self-stick scrapbooking paper on one, edged it with a black sharpie, then hand lettered the word "Dirty" on the disc. A line of hot glue on a clothes pin on the backside and Voila! Something I could clip to the top sock on a basket of dirties so there's no question what's in the basket.

Dirty laundry tag, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

When the mood strikes, I think I'll make up some Clean tags in a different color. Maybe tagging the laundry will help get it taken care of faster. I can't tell you how many times the hubs has pointed to a basket of something and asked, "Clean or dirty?" Maybe if he knows what's clean he'd be more apt to fold it and put it away. ...Nah, who am I kidding?

Anyway, the tags have helped me see what's what. Wonder what else could benefit from these kinds of tags? Hmmmm... Maybe I could tag bath towels when we have overnight guests. (We only have one bathroom with one towel bar in our tiny apartment.)

July 4, 2008

Mix-n-Match

Isn't this a pretty color combination?

When setting up the art show in Lincoln City, "Mr. Pass It On Plates" was helping to set up plates with treats. He asked what plates go with which PlateWraps and I said, you can just pick and choose. Whatever you think looks good is fine with me. This was one of his color selections.

...and the idea started...
Why not offer all Pass It On Plates as a Mix-n-Match?

Watch our website near the end of July when we unveil a new way to buy Pass It On Plates:
Mix-n-Match.
Pick your favorite plate color, decide which pen color will look the best on your plate, select your favorite PlateWrap, then choose the Pretty Little Doo Dad you like best.

We've got lots and lots of choices for you to mix and match your own combination and can't wait to see what ideas you come up with!

July 3, 2008

Branding part V - more ways to use it

An interesting comment by Lindsay at spreadshirt.com on today's earlier post suggested checking out ChrisBrogan.com for more ideas on how to use social media for branding. My post barely whispered in that direction, but since you're reading this, you are obviously using social media and it only makes sense to give you more information about how to use this to your advantage.

Please check out Chris's post 100 Personal Branding Tactics Using Social Media. While you're there, go ahead and check out the rest of his blog. You may find more information to help you on your way.

Excellent tip. Thanks Lindsay!

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Branding part IV - Putting it to use

Once you have a logo designed, and you know you can start using it to identify your products or services, the fun begins. Go nuts with your logo! Here are some places you can use it:

Duh:

1. Business cards and other stationery products
2. Avatars
3. Websites, blogs, e-commerce store fronts
4. Product packaging

Aha:

1. Have a vinyl cling or magnetic sign made up and stick it to your vehicle.
2. Make bumper stickers.
3. Work your logo into decopauge, decorative items.
4. Sew your logo into a quilted or fiber art design.

Genius:

1. Go to http://www.cafepress.com/ or http://www.spreadshirt.com/ and print your logo along with your phone # or website address on shirts, caps, aprons, etc. Use these items for yourself, as gifts, and as promotional giveaways to promote your business. (Seriously. How many people do you see walking around wearing the logos of Tommy Hilfiger, Element Skateboards, or Dale Earnhardt's number?)

2. At craft fairs, print your logo on bright colored, re-useable tote bags and use them instead of shopping bags for big sales so your logo will walk around the fair for all to see.

3. Encourage people (customers, blog readers, etc) to send in pictures of themselves with your logos. Post them all on your website or blog and have visitors vote for the best one. Award prizes for different categories.

4. Have a rubber stamp made of your logo. Stamp the image all over solid color wrapping paper and use it on gift items purchased from your e-store.

5. Try an Andy Warhol-inspired approach and turn your logo into artwork.

6. Use a permanent ceramic paint pen to draw your logo and website on a coffee mug and give it away.


Any other ideas? Post your comments!
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July 2, 2008

Branding part III - Making it yours

This next step requires a little research, but it's critical to look into before you plan to start using your logo: make sure nobody else is already using your logo.

In our case, with the flying plate logo, we needed to make sure nobody else was using a logo that looked like ours. A visit to the USPTO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, got me started on a logo/trademark search.

I did a search to find out my design codes, which are:
11.03.09 Plates (empty)
03.17.01 Wings
and 24.03.25 (other emblems and insignia) when a wing design comprises an emblem or insignia.

Then I went to search for logos using those codes at the USPTO search site. A search for PLATE and WING and got a lot of hits including one for something called Violent Vegetables (?!) After a little tinkering, poking around, and some help from our local business development office, we got our flying plate logo off the ground, so to speak.

For help with this step, you can contact your local Small Business Administration, or SBA. You can also find information online at http://www.sba.gov/. For specific information regarding this post, you can check out the SBA's information regarding copyrights.

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July 1, 2008

Branding part II - Developing a Logo

The first step we took in establishing the Pass It On Plates brand was to create a logo.

Wait - Before telling you about creating the logo, I should explain why sometimes I use the term "Me" or "I" and sometimes I use the term "Us" or "We. Even though I'm the chief cook and bottle washer here at Pass It On Plates, and I'm pretty much "it" when it comes to producing plates and PlateWraps and things in the Oregon studio, I've got a crew helping to develop this business in our Wisconsin studio. The reference to "We" and "Us" includes the whole group of talent at Pass It On Plates.

The head of our Wisconsin studio is my smart and clever mother, Donna. Yes, this is a mother-daugher project, 1,763 miles wide. She not only creates plates and works with making PlateWraps and Pretty Little Doo Dads, but she works tirelessly on our marketing, sells plates at local art shows and at the Hayward Flea Market, and works with local business development experts to put Pass It On Plates on the map, so to speak. Donna also found some local talent to help make PlateWraps and help out with other related creativity.

Back to the logo:
Our first step was to decide on a logo to use. Since this logo would be plastered on everything sent out of our studios, it had to be simple, easy to recognize (not some obscure shape or random photograph,) easy to put on our plates - which means it has to be easy to draw by hand, and unique. We did a little brainstorming and Donna came up with this:


Logos 1, originally uploaded by passitonplates.
Sketches from the first brainstorming session to figure out a logo for Pass It On Plates.


Logos 2, originally uploaded by passitonplates.
More logo sketches. The idea is starting to come together. Donna got several friends involved to see if they could figure it out.



Logos 3, originally uploaded by passitonplates.
Still playing with the concept of the plates and working out some kind of visual graphic for a logo. Even if they don't fit our criteria to be simple and easy to duplicate by hand, it was important to sketch out every single idea. You never know which idea will lead you to the one that ultimately gets used.



PIOP+Logo1, originally uploaded by passitonplates.
Here is the very first incarnation of our Flying Plate logo.


From here we tweaked it and made minor adjustments. We showed it to friends and business developers and asked for their opinion, then we made a few more adjustments. In the end, our logo developed into this:


The Pass It On Plates logo, originally uploaded by passitonplates..