Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Beginner’s Journey Through Etsy - Improving My Shop - Photographs

        I have been on Etsy for a little under 4 months now, but I have made quite a few improvements to my shop to make it better. I think in owning a shop on etsy, there are always ways to improve. As a shop owner, I am continuing to learn and grow. I have learned most from looking at information on Etsy, especially from reading Etsy blogs.  I am glad that I have made these improvements, and I would like to share them with you. 
It is very important to have good photographs of the items in your Etsy shop that represent your items well. This is obviously one of the first thing people see when they come to your shop, and they have the possibility of making a great impression. I have learned a lot when it comes to photographs. As a result of this, I have taken and retaken photographs of my items a few times. When taking photographs, you want to make the best impression possible. 
Photographs of my items have improved and changed a lot on my shop site. I started off with photographs that were taken directly from the top view in one uniform angle. The background was white with a wood backdrop, and I took it with the flash on my camera. Then, I saw on an Etsy blog that it is better to take photos at an angle to make them more interesting. I did this and took a second set of photos of all my items. This time I had a 4 colored background made up of construction paper. Then I saw, also on an Etsy blog, that it is better to take photos in natural light. I added this element with the photos at an angle, but had a blue and white clouds background. Some of my items still had a colorful background though. Finally, I read that it is better to have photos with a plain white background. I added this final element, but some of my older items still had a different background. I finally decided, to retake all my photos and make them all at an angle, with natural light, and with a plain white background. Was I happy with the results? Very much so. I say all this to take you through the progression I went through. Also, I wanted to share these tips that I’ve learned as a photographer of my products on Etsy. 
I hope you enjoyed what I shared, and can benefit from it. I will continue to discuss the improvements I have made in the coming blogs that I write. ‘Til then, hope you are enjoying your experience on Etsy!

Kelly Michelle

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 5: FLICKR!

I can't say that I know how to use all of the amazing features on FLICKR! to my advantage. What I can tell you is that it is an amazing site for cataloging your item photographs. We all know that if we post pictures of our items all over the place with tags (keywords) that we will get more views. For this reason, you should post your photographs on every site that you possibly can. FLICKR! is definitely one of those sites. In fact, I show a lot of activity in my shop stats from FLICKR!
The first thing that you need to do is get a FLICKR! account and set it up. They have made it very easy on us by allowing us to use an existing Yahoo! account, Facebook account, or Google account. Isn't that nice of them? So, go to www.flickr.com and sign up for your free account. If you want to get more out of your FLICKR!, you can purchase the premium account that gives you more options and a detailed report that shows your page views.
Just like Pinterest, FLICKR! can be a place for business or a place for personal life. Let's make sure that we separate the two of those, to  an extent. Post pictures of you working on your newest item, your work space, etc. Get your customers to see the person behind the website full of amazing items for sale! Also, add your products with tags, so that they can be found. Link your products to Etsy by putting your shop link in your description box.
Unfortunately, FLICKR! is not really a cross promotion site, unless you are able to pull your friends and team mate's pictures off of Etsy to post them on FLICKR! If you do, make sure that you give credit to your friend or team mate and link the photo back to their shop. FLICKR! can be an awesome playground for customers as long as you get your items on there! The person that said less is more wasn't referring to social media marketing for an online business!

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 4: Wanelo

Now that we have tackled the major social media sites, we are going to jump into some other social media sites that may be showing up on  your shop views page. The first one that we are going to  talk about is an amazing site called Wanelo. Wanelo is a place where you can list all of your items and Wanelo will actually generate a link directly to your shop and help you sell your item. Additionally, Wanelo gives you the option to easily post your items on other not so easy to use social media sites such as Stumbleupon and Tumblr, which we will eventually talk about!
So, let's get started. If you don't have a Wanelo account, get one! I generate a lot of hits from Wanelo to my Etsy site, my Zibbet site, and my company web page. To sign up for Wanelo, go to Wanelo.com and complete the sign up forms, or use your facebook profile to log in. I suggest using your facebook because everytime you post a new item, it automatically shows up on your facebook timeline that you added the item. More exposure! That is the goal!
After  you have your Wanelo account all set up, you can start adding items by clicking on Post. It will ask for a link and automatically generate the price of the item. You can write a cool little blurb about your item to make it more appealing to the others who use Wanelo. Once you  are done adding the item, your followers and other potential customers  can purchase your item right on the Wanelo site....through Etsy! Technology can be so wonderful sometimes!
To get more followers, find your Etsy friends, your Facebook friends, your twitter friends, etc. and follow them. Just like on Twitter, if you follow someone, the typical etiquette is for them to follow you! I shouldn't have to remind you that the more places that you have your items, the more shop views you are going to get! I  had my husband help me add items to Wanelo, and my shop views exploded! It was amazing! So, don't forget the little social media sites and stay tuned for the next article!
Happy Sales!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How To Use Etsy: Shipping Tips

Save Money on Shipping and Packaging

The hardest part of starting an Etsy shop for me was figuring out shipping, both prices and packaging. I did a lot of research before opening my shop and still made many mistakes. I would like to pass on what I learned so you don't have to make the same mistakes and lose money!

Buy a Scale
The best thing you can do to ensure accurate shipping prices is buy a postal scale, the weight capacity depending on what you sell. Buying from Amazon.com is cheapest.

Calculate Shipping Online
With your scale, you can accurately calculate shipping costs on the USPS site, including international rates. Play around with package weight to estimate secondary shipping costs (how much it costs to ship something with another item).

Print Labels from Paypal
Print shipping labels from your paypal account and receive a significant discount on postage for packages (for any domestic service, but only Priority or Express for international). If the person paid through paypal, you can go to your account overview and click "print shipping label" next to the transaction. The address information will automatically load. Just input the package weight (rounded up to the nearest whole number) and service type (First Class, Priority, etc.). If the person didn't pay through paypal, you can still print the label by adding the address on paypal.com/shipnow. Print the label on fast draft to save ink. 

With ready-to-ship packages, no need to wait in line at the post office! Just drop off or request pick-up online if at least one of your packages is Priority Mail.

Be Creative with Packaging
Some shops only charge postage price, while others include packaging costs. Either way, be creative to save on packaging expenses and lower your shipping prices.
  • Reuse boxes if you can. All previous postage must be removed or covered. You can cover non-postal boxes with brown kraft paper.
  • Don't send free gifts. Most of the time, they're cheap things the buyer doesn't want or need but are still included in the shipping and packaging costs (or if not, they come out of your pocket). Most people would rather not get a random free item and pay lower shipping!
  • Only use necessary, protective wrapping; no need to be super fancy unless you sell expensive jewelry or the like.
  • Make your own thank-you notes or write on the back of your business card.
Remember, packaging ends up in the trash, so be wise where you spend your money and what you charge people for. I would rather get a less fancy (but still professional) package if it means I pay less shipping. However, you can include a note in your listings and policies about requesting free gift wrapping.

Add Shipping Information to Your Shop
Include shipping and packaging information in your policies, and your listings if you sell various items that require different packaging and shipping methods. Buyers like to know what they are paying for and when they can expect to get their items.

Choosing the Right Shipping Service

Knowing which shipping service to use is vital in saving money, both for you and your customers. Here are tips I've learned:

Measure your packages 
  • Envelopes thicker than 1/4 inch or uneven in thickness by more than 1/4 inch are considered packages instead of letters.
  • Small bubble envelopes, if flat and light, can usually be sent as letters in the U.S. (only once has one of my customers had to pay extra postage, which I reimbursed), but are always packages for international shipping (I've lost money twice because I forgot this!).
  • Large envelopes that are flexible (for example, holding a paperback children's book) can be mailed at a large envelope price instead of a package.
  • Boxes longer than 12 inches on any side cost more to ship regardless of low weight.
Weigh your packages 
  • The biggest mistake sellers make is sending everything Priority Mail. Packages lighter than 13 ounces qualify for First Class parcel, which is just as fast as and sometimes faster than Priority Mail but considerably cheaper.
  • Heavier packages are mailed Parcel Post, which takes about a week. If the price difference between Parcel Post and Priority Mail is minimal, go with Priority Mail to ensure faster delivery.
  • UPS and FedEx are best reserved for extremely large, heavy, valuable, or fragile items.

The Shop at Pooh Corner

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 3: Pinterest

Ask most people who use Pinterest and they will tell you that it is highly addictive, and it is! Just remember that the customer’s addiction to Pinterest is lucrative for your business.  Your addiction to Pinterest may be a distraction and may hinder business! So, let’s keep our Pinterest vices in check when we use it for marketing. Set personal time aside to repin and favorite the boards that you follow, so that you don’t take away from promotional time for your shop!
The first thing that you need to do is get a Pinterest account and set it up. There is typically a wait list to get on Pinterest, unless you  are invited by someone who already has an account. If you do not have an account, find me on etsy at www.blackwillowsoaps.etsy.comandmessage me with your email address, I will send you an invite.  If you have a Pinterest account, great! Let’s get marketing!
Pinterest can be an awesome way to get your products, promotions, treasuries, sales, etc. to another world of customers. Make sure that you use your business Pinterest account like it is used for a business. Create boards that  are relevant to your craft. For example, if you own a jewelry shop, you can have a board that features the items that are from your shop, a board for articles about handmade beads, a board for the treasuries that  you  have been in on Etsy, and several others. I even have boards  on Pinterest that tell  people a little bit about me, such as “Images from my childhood”, where I post shows that I watched, toys that I played with, etc. As we have learned from our fearless leaders on Etsy, it is good to let your customers get to know you!
That said, the first board that is a must have is a board with your shop items in it. Add all of your current shop items and pin new items as you list them. Etsy makes this easy by adding a Pin button to  each listing. Go through your listings hitting the pin button on each listing and add it to your shop board. The next board that is a must have, is your team boards. As mentioned in earlier articles, teams are great for promoting! Link up with your teams who have pinterest boards and pin your items there. Also, favorite and re-pin other team members pins to help them promote!
Pinterest can be an awesome tool for marketing. I use it to post sales,  treasuries that I am featured in, tophatter auctions, new listings, and catalog my favorite etsy creations from other shops. 
Natalie Wright

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Beginner's Journey Through Etsy: Sales!

One of the satisfying parts about being a shop owner Etsy is making sales. I mean that is one of the reasons why we are on Etsy, to sell our products and share them with others. That is actually our initial reason for joining, right? I wanted to touch on the subject in this blog post. I wanted to not only talk about my experience with sales, and how I got them, but also why being on Etsy is not just about getting sales.

When I first started, I was initially wondering when I would get my first sale.  I did get it within the first week of opening, and was super excited! Each month since then, I have steadily increased sales. I am currently at 37 sales, which is way more than I expected, as it can be tough to sell on Etsy. I am definitely not where I want to be, but I am continuing with Etsy in hopes my business will succeed to the extent that I want it to, and maybe even beyond that point. 

So what advice can I give for making sales? Promote, promote, promote. There are so many ways and avenues to promote on Etsy. You can, as I spoke of before, join teams. You can also join BNS and BNRs, where you can buy into these special treasury boards, and get your shop on them. More information about these are found in teams or treasuries search boxes. Just type in the keyword “BNS” or “BNR”.  There is also a tutorial on BNS and BNR boards here.  You can also advertise through sponsoring blogs, or put your shop information on your own blog, pinterest, twitter, and facebook. There are also craft fairs that you can sell your goods at to get more recognition. Telling friends and family about your shop helps as well. All in all, continuing to promote your shop is the best way to get sales.

I wanted to end with this thought: being a seller on Etsy, is not just about making sales. There is so much more to Etsy than just that. Being a shop owner on Etsy, is about sharing your craft with others, and being able to connect with others on Etsy. The community on Etsy is there for a reason. In the long run, it can help your shop to be a part of this community, regarding sales and such. Yet, there is so much more to learn and experience. Wishing you happy sales, but also a happy experience on Etsy!

Kelly Michelle

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meet Our Featured Shop: Blinky

I am pleased to introduce you to our featured shop, Blinky.  Blinky's supply shop carries a fantastic selection of fabric, and even some patterns.  Her shop is cheerful and inviting, with all of the lovely fabric colors and designs.  I asked Blinky how she got started, she said "I love sewing, but I am a huge hoarder, and I buy way too much.  That's why I use my shop to detash some of my extras.  I have 3 little girls that I sew for, so I need at least 5 yards usually, but I buy the whole bolt (15 yards)."  Blinky does this by ordering her fabric at wholesale prices, and usually buys 10-15 bolts at a time.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

These lovely polka dots are available for purchase here.

These pretty stripes are available for purchase here.

Blinky's shop also boasts a great selection of patterns.  She told me that she has tried most of them out, and can answer questions about them.  She also gets the patterns from vendors.  Here are a couple teasers for you:

This pattern is available for purchase here.

This adorable skirt pattern is available for purchase here.

There is one last thing you should know about Blinky's shop, she is having a fabulous sale this month.  Use coupon code SEPT15 and get 15% off your order!

Love and Peace,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Social Media Series: What Twitter Can Do For You

Ah, twitter. The wonderful land of tweets and retweets. Doesn't it just sound pleasant? Twitter can be used to promote your online business in a couple of ways; tweeting and messaging.
The first thing that you need to do is obviously set up a twitter account. Check out this how-to guide to get started: http://www.ehow.com/how_
account.html. Okay, now that you have set up your account. Find people to follow. You can follow your friends and family. Go ahead and add any of your fellow Etsians. Most of all, you want to find ezines and marketing geniuses to follow. It is possible that they will add your items to their ezine, or retweet your tweets for some instant and free marketing!
Most people on twitter will follow you back, if you follow them first. It is nice to return the favor if someone follows you and you are not already following them. Unfortunately, this is not always possible because twitter has limitations to the number of people you can follow based on the number of followers that you have.
Now that you have an account and have started following people, you can start tweeting! Tweet about your giveaways, coupons, new products, and other goodies. Tweet your websites, blogs, and where to contact if someone wants a custom order. Tweet as much as you can! You can also go into your Etsy listings and tweet directly from your item pages. This is a great idea! I try to tweet at least 5 items in the morning, 5 items on my lunch break, and 5 items at night. You will see the difference in page views if you do this.
So, we have covered tweeting, setting up your account, and following. Now let's cover messaging. Everytime I get a new follower, I message them to thank them for following me and offer a coupon code or about my new giveaway or sale. Some followers will retweet your message to their followers. These are the people that you want to return the favor to. You also should go through your messages and tweets and retweet anything that you find interesting.
Though twitter is mostly about tweeting things to promote your shop, you can get a lot of interest in your twitter account by tweeting things that pertain to your craft. If you are a jewelry maker, tweet about an article that you read about the hippest beads that are on the market. If you are a soap maker, you can tweet about the article you read on the benefits of essential oils & aromatherapy. The possibilities are endless. You can even tweet about your latest blog post!
If you use twitter frequently, you will see a rise in page views and sales. 

Happy Sales!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Use Etsy: An Introduction

In this series, we will discuss the ins and outs of Etsy.  The dos and don'ts, as well as helpful apps that will give you options to increase your efficiency.  We all know that time at the computer is time away from our craft.  Today I am going to give you a list of sites of Etsy apps that you can explore and experiment with.

There are many Etsy apps (applications) out there to help make running a shop easier. Here are some of the more popular ones: 
  • craftcult.com: for making widgets displaying your shop and treasuries on your blog or website.  This is a fantastic tool for promoting your shop or a treasury.  The more places on the internet you appear, the better the odds are for a potential customer to find your shop.
  • craftopolis.com: for recording shop analytics and editing multiple listings at once.  Shop analytics are vital to tracking your Etsy shop's health.  It also shows you where you are succeeding and the areas you need to improve on.  It also gives you the ability to edit multiple listings at once.  The time saving potential there is obvious.
  • etsyonsale.com: for running sales easily (not free, except for 5 credits to run 1 sale; use the referral code 3BC8YJD7U5 for 5 bonus credits).  I'm sure you have seen listings that have the regular price crossed out in red with a sale price, also in red, next to it.  This is done with this app.  It is a great way to promote a sale price, as people can the original price.  And the line crossed through the original price makes it obvious you are having a sale.
  • fotofuze.com: for improving photos.  This site links directly to Etsy so you can upload your photos to your listing and touch them up from fotofuze,  No loading jpegs into photo software programs and then saving the somewhere on your computer so you can upload to Etsy.  Just touch them up in fotofuze, click the button, and your photos on Etsy are done.  Fotofuze is meant to enhance pictures that are already fairly close to the image you want and works best for white background photos.
  • shmetsy.com: for easy treasury making and contacting featured sellers.  You can make the treasury and send a mass email to everyone included to let them know that they are featured.  Super slick.
Find more Etsy apps here. The ones you use will show up in "Apps" under "Your Account." 


Friday, August 24, 2012

A Beginner's Journey Through Etsy: Talk About Teams

I have been on Etsy for more than 2 months now, and one of the best aspects of Etsy that I have discovered so far are the teams. What exactly do I mean by teams? Actually, Etsy has a lot of different teams that you are able to join as a buyer and/or seller on Etsy. Through being on teams, I have learned that Etsy is not just made up of individual shops, but it is really a community of artists and makers. 

There have been many benefits in joining teams on Etsy. First, I have been able to connect to other shop owners, both new to Etsy and those who have been around Etsy for a while. This has been great because I can learn so much from people who have similar goals and aspirations as me regarding shops on Etsy. It has also been a way to promote my shop and others’ shops . There are places to post new items, share your favorites from other shops, share sales or promotions that your shop is having, and so much more. 

In addition, teams are there for an Etsy shop owner to share their ideas, help each other out, or give advice. Another thing I have noticed about teams is that everyone is really friendly, encouraging, and helpful. I have enjoyed interacting and sharing with different people on Etsy. I think it is definitely a good thing when shop owners you may not even know in person, are willing to help you out with your shop and questions. 

If you new to Etsy, and you are not quite sure how to get connected, why not join some teams? You will gain more knowledge about Etsy, be able to promote your shop, and meet new people in the process. Just click on the “Community” link where the teams can be found.

Happy team joining!

Kelly Michelle

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Helping Another Person: A Tale of a Beautiful Experience

On Monday, I received a message from BellasBNS Founder, Rocco.  Kelly, an artisan that many of us know, had suffered a tragedy in her family.  Her son was working on an oil rig in North Dakota.  There was an explosion, and he was badly burned.  She lives in Utah and had to get to Minneapolis, which is where the burn unit is that they had air lifted him too.  She absolutely needed to get to her son, but money was tight.  Enter Annie, Wanda, and Chaya.

Annie, Wanda, and Chaya are the three phenomenal women who came together to organize a benefit BNR for Kelly to help with the expense of getting to Minnesota.  Rocco had sent me a message earlier in the day asking if I had heard about this yet.  I had not, but was instantly worried about Kelly and her son.  Unfortunately, I am flat broke, so I had no money to donate or buy into the BNR.  I faved the board so it would appear in my activity feed.  I also posted the link to every social media site I have access to, and put it on a couple of blogs that I post on.  It was the most I could do, until I received another message from Rocco.

Wanda, Annie, and Chaya could only stay open until the early afternoon because they didn't have anyone to curate the board after that.  They had several sales and had done a fantastic job, but Rocco felt the board should continue and I agreed.  He asked if I had a couple of hours to help man the board and I readily agreed to help, as did the other leaders of Bellas.  He offered to move the board onto Bellas and we would run the board and keep the donations to Kelly going.  Together we kept the board going for another 6 hours or so.

We raised enough money to cover Kelly's expenses that day.  I was happy to help Kelly, but I can't say that I didn't get anything out of it.  That day I got to be a part of a beautiful experience.  I got to see many artisans coming together to help another artisan in need.  I was blown away by how many people came to the board and were buying and donating and promoting.  It was incredible.  I am truly grateful to Wanda, Annie, and Chaya for allowing me to be a part of it, and for the opportunity to meet these wonderful women.  Their selflessness and kindness will stay with me forever.

This is not the first time I have been involved in a benefit to help an artisan, and seen the flood of generosity that comes with it.  I was moved deeply then, and I was again on Monday.  I am not ashamed to say that I cried several times on Monday.  I cried for Kelly and her son.  I cried for the amazing thing Annie, Chaya, and Wanda had started.  I cried at the sincere concern everyone on the board showed for Kelly and her family.  And I cried for the generosity and compassion that everyone showed that day.

In the world we live in, acts of atrocity have become routine.  To be a part of something like this, reaffirms your faith in humanity.  It makes me feel better about the world around me, and ties me even tighter to the artisan community.  I have been immersed in it since I was a child, and I am so grateful that I was.  I learned at an early age how the artisan community takes care of everyone around them.  Every artisan I know, and I know thousands, have gigantic hearts.  They will take you in and take care of you.  They will show you love and compassion.  They don't judge.  They are open and welcoming.  I am so appreciative of this community.  This community played a major role in the kind of adult I developed into.  I do my very best each day to remember the lessons they taught me, and Monday was a great reminder.  That to be open, loving, and compassionate is the only way to truly be happy, and at peace with the world around you.

Thank you Chaya, Annie, and Wanda!  For starting the benefit, and organizing it, and for letting me be a part of it.  I can't tell you how much I took from it, and how grateful I am to you.  I have so much love and respect for you girls, and for what you did, and how hard you worked.  I am truly humbled by it.

In a modest effort to do something kind in return, I have listed some links below.  There is a link to Kelly's shop, to every shop that worked to organize this, and to every shop that worked on a board.  Please take a moment to visit their lovely shops, like their Facebook pages, and follow them on Twitter.  They are a fabulous group of people.

Love and Peace,


List of Shops:

Kelly - Treasure 2 Remember
Annie - Aunt Annie's Antics
Wanda - GA Girl Jewelry and Gift
Chaya - Pearls Plus LLC
Rocco - Rocco's Country Spice
Luci - Idle Hands Yarn Supply
Amber - Cosmic Cauldron
Raven - Divine Deliciousness

Monday, August 20, 2012

Social Media Series: What Can Facebook Do For You and Your Online Business?

We all know facebook as the tool to reconnect with family, friends, and other acquaintances. But, this just in, there are ways to use facebook to market your online business! We all know that starting an online business is difficult and requires a lot of time and patience. Your family and friends were probably some of your very first customers, as were mine. Because of this, we need to market to our friends and family on facebook, as well as other people that we haven't met yet. How do we do this?
Start by creating a fan page for your business! Your fan page operates as a business marketing tool where you can show new products, giveaways, etc. You can also keep your fans up to date on what is going to be coming up in your shop. To start a fan page, simply go tohttps://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the steps listed on the screen. It only takes a few minutes.
After creating a fan page, now we must promote it! First, invite all of your friends and family to like your page. Go tohttp://www.ehow.com/how_8131628_invite-friends-fan.html and follow the steps. You will have a lot of followers in minutes, if your friends are constantly on facebook like some of mine are. Now that you have your friends and family covered, lets use those Etsy teams to our advantage! Go to each individual team, click on the thread in the team that says social media links or facebook links and go through each of the fan pages. "Like them" with your personal facebook page and leave a comment telling them that you are a new fan from (your business name here) and give them a link to your facebook fan page. Most fellow Etsians will like your page back. A lot of them will like and share your posts, which helps you reach more people! You can also do this with Facebook Groups such as Fan Page Promote. Fan Page Promote lists several fan pages for you to "like" and in return those businesses will follow your fan page. Make sure you tell them where to go to "like" you! I also leave my other social media contacts (twitter, pinterest, tumblr, blog, etc).
Now that we have discovered the free way to build your facebook empire, let's explore the paid way. Facebook has its own marketing system called Facebook Ads. You can run ads for your business that will show up on the right hand side of pages who match the criteria that you establish during the create an ad phase. If they like your ad, they can like your fan page. Facebook Ads sometimes runs promotions, so make sure that you keep looking back at them, and sign up for their promotions so that you can get free ad space. You can also place ads on your posts. If you want a post to get to a lot of people, you can pay for facebook to promote your post to your fans and other random people. I personally have never used this feature, as it is new.
When posting on your fan page, make sure that your post is relevant to your business. Don't use it like your personal facebook page! You want to let your fans know a little bit a bout you and get to know your personality, but they don't need every detail. Try to stay positive, but you can always make jokes out of things that you messed up on or a bad day that you are having. I joked about messing up three batches of fudge before getting the perfect batch and received a lot of feedback. Know your audience!
Happy Sales and Happy Facebooking!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meet Our Team Challenge Winner: Letha from Time For Crochet

I am please to write about our second August winner of our team treasury challenge, Letha from Time For Crochet.  Letha has a lovely shop full of goodies that range from household and kitchen items to hats and scarves.  All are beautifully done.

Letha started to crochet at the age of 10, and can also knit and sew.  She says her favorite medium is cotton yarn and she loves working on her American Girl line.  Cotton is also one of my favorites, as it is so durable.  Let's look through Letha's shop!

These beautiful pot holders are available for purchase here.

The pretty dishcloths are available for purchase here.

Letha also makes fabulous accessories!  Just look at these!

This lovely scarf is available for purchase here.

This fantastic bag is available for purchase here.

You should also know that Letha belongs to a knit and crochet club that makes and donates items to a battered women's shelter in AZ.  Visit her shop and enjoy browsing through Letha's handmade treasures.

Love and Peace,


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Etsy Shop Promotion Series: Francesca's BNS/BNR Experiences

Are you a newbie to the BNS world, not quite sure if it's the thing for you? I hope sharing my experience will help you decide.

When I first heard about BNS/BNR treasuries I was greatly confused. Reading forum discussions about them only made it more confusing and difficult. I then contacted one of the people who had replied because she invited questions and seemed really friendly. She straightened out my questions, and I decided to give it a chance and see for myself how good or bad these treasuries really were.

It took me some time to understand everything going on. But the one thing I noticed immediately was how incredibly welcoming and supportive everyone is!  These people really care. Of course, I got some sales too and many more since then, but the best reward is the friendship I have received.

Bella's BNS Team is by far my favorite. Our leadership is awesome and dedicated, doing so many things to promote the treasuries, items, and shops, and to encourage us to be involved, all resulting in boards that fill up fast (translation: sales!). The members are friendly, fun, and creative, and genuinely desire success for everyone. The support system of this team and others like it are incredibly valuable to me. To me, these are great reasons to participate in BNS/BNR treasuries!


Friday, August 10, 2012

A Beginner's Journey Through Etsy: Introduction

Hi! I wanted to start this off with an explanation of exactly what I will be writing about here on Bella’s BNS blog. So here I am a newbie on Etsy. My shop has only been around for a couple of months. Yet, in that short time I have learned so much about the aspects and features Etsy have to offer. I feel like I know a lot about Etsy at this point, but am new enough to still have a lot more to learn.  The goal of my blog will be to help other new shop owners with suggestions and tips for their shop. I will also be here to talk about my experiences as a new shop owner, the challenges and joys of owning an Etsy shop. I am here to help all those newbies out, but also to take this beginners journey through Etsy with them. Do you think maybe there is not a lot to learn from a beginnner like me? Well, you would be surprised what someone can learn through a couple months on Etsy. Also, you never know what you can learn from me, even if you are not so new to Etsy. 

I hope you can take this journey with me through Etsy and the many things it has to offer. We will be talking about teams, treasuries, rearranging your shop, favorites, and a lot more. I will also add my personal experiences, including what I love about Etsy, how my journey on Etsy began, why I joined, and so forth. Finally, I will discuss things from my perspective as a beginner shop owner, such as expectations I have had and things that have surprised me. Let’s take thing journey together, and see what we can learn. 

Kelly Michelle

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Etsy Shop Promotion Series: Natalee BNS/BNR Experiences

Anyone who is new to Etsy will tell you that one of the most confusing things about it is the BNR/BNS. I'm not going to lie. I was lost when I first saw those acronyms, but I knew that I had to be a part of them! For some reason, I just knew that it would bring sales. I asked a teammate in one of my teams what the mysterious letters meant and she was nice enough to thoroughly explain it to me.
At first, I was not thrilled with the idea that I had to purchase an item that I probably didn't need to get a feature spot. However, the items that I have received from BNR & BNS events have been awesome and everything but needless! It seems that there is always something that can be found in these awesome events! The even greater thing is that you get to be featured on top of getting that new gift!

I have had a lot of success with BNR & BNS events. In fact, the best month that I have had so far can be attributed to being featured in a lot of them simultaneously. They bring in amazing new viewers, customers, and favorites. We all know that new viewers, customers, and favorites leads to increased revenue, search engine optimization, and a lot of other bonuses that every shop owner wants!

If you own an etsy shop and are looking to boost your views, sales, etc., I definitely recommend getting into some of these events. Even if you choose to participate in a BNT, you will still benefit from it! The more exposure you get, the better off you will be!
Happy Sales!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Please Welcome Kelly from Art by Kelly Michelle to the Bellas BNS Blog Staff

Please let me introduce you to our newest member of the Bellas BNS blog staff, Kelly from Art by Kelly Michelle.  You will find Kelly's bio on our Blog Staff Members page.  

Kelly will be writing a series called A Beginners Journey Through Etsy.  She will talk about her experiences as a new shop owner and what she has learned in the few months her shop has been open.  

I know when I was a new shop owner I found a lot of support from other newbies and I am confident that Michelle will provide that here.  Her series will premiere on Friday, August 10.  Be on the lookout for it.

Love and Peace,


Monday, August 6, 2012

Social Media Series: Why Do We Need Social Media Sites?

Wouldn't it be fabulous if images of your products were automatically posted all over the internet as you listed them? If customers were automatically emailed after the start up of your shop? Unfortunately, that is not a reality for those of us who have online businesses! Selling becomes a bit tricky when someone can't stop in and physically handle one of the products that are so lovingly planted on display. Marketing becomes a never-ending job that doesn't typically consist of mailing lists, newsletters, etc. Especially when you have just opened up and have no customer base!

To get your business and your name out there to the masses, you must find a way to speak to them in places online where they already frequent. That's right, social media sites! Not only is it a way for you to keep in touch with your family and closest friends, it is also a great avenue for your business. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and several others, get your products to an audience that isn't going to just show up to take a look at your goods at home, unannounced.

As an Etsy and Zibbet shop owner, I find that it is almost impossible to get my products into the ether without using these sites. Some of them are extremely tedious and demand a lot of attention. Others have very simple steps and only take minutes. However, I can tell you that when I view my shop stats several times throughout the day, I can tell if I have not sent any information to my potential customers and fans via social media. The difference between one tweet on twitter, or one post on Facebook, can make the difference of several item or shop views. It is amazing what a few minutes out of your day can do! I even find myself tweeting and pinning products from my phone during my lunch hour!

Now that you are listening, I want to invite you back to this blog for more details on social media sites and how to make them work for you and your business. In future posts, I will be delving one by one into the many sites that I use to get views. So, don't miss out on the information that could cost or make your next sale! Until next time, happy sales!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Meet Our July Team Challenge Winner: Dana from AbraBOWdana!

Meet our July team challenge winner, Dana from AbraBOWdana.  I am very excited to tell you all about her and her shop.  She makes the most adorable bows and puts them on everything from headbands to flip flops and she upcycles!  Dana's shop is full of color and very fun to browse.  I enjoy looking through all of the pretty bows and admire all of the many styles.  I had no idea there were so many things that could be done with bows, but I should know to never underestimate creativity.

This summery bow is available for purchase here.

The first thing I always want to know about an artisan is how they got started.  Dana told me that she "had been buying bows from many shops on Etsy.  I had admired the work and wished I could do it myself.  And then one day I bought some ribbon and tried!"  I love it when people love a handmade product so much they decide to try to make it themselves!  That is what keeps these arts alive.

This elegant jersey headband is available for purchase here.

So how does learning to make bows yourself become an Etsy shop?  I asked Dana and she said, "I decided to open an Etsy store because I had purchased from Etsy myself and loved everything I had ever bought.  I wanted to be a part of the community that is Etsy!"  Etsy is a fabulous community.  I can relate to wanting to be a part of the Etsy community.  That is why I opened my shop up on Etsy too!

This Chicago Blackhawks bow is available for purchase here.

As a fellow upcycler, I couldn't help but notice all of the upcycled items Dana used.  Bows made from upcycled denim, as well as bottle cap magnets and bottle caps used in the centers of some of her bows.  I even noticed some vintage button in the centers of some of those bows.  I asked Dana about her upcycling.  She said, "I absolutely LOVE upcycling materials!!!  My aunt was a HUGE crafter and she used to work in a thrift store.  She would take buttons and fabric from the clothes that had stains and could not be sold.  So when she stopped crafting and I started she gave me an entire box of buttons and gemstones and lace and denim!  I was so excited!  To me, it's a challenge to take something old and make it look new again.  Right now I'm on the hunt for old vintage earrings and broaches to use as bridal or baptismal flower centers!!!"  My heart skipped a beat when I read that.  An entire box of goodies to upcycle???  Talk about upcycler heaven!

This pretty jersey headband is available for purchase here.

As I mentioned above, Dana has a fabulous variety of designs in her shop.  Adorable bows for everyday occasions, bows with a sports team theme, bridal bows, and on and on.  I wondered where her inspiration came from.  Dana told me, "I would say my daughter Carli is my inspiration!  I kind of go off what she is into and what she likes.  Barbie, Hello Kitty, Bubble Guppies, Minnie Mouse, anything Disney!  I also am trying to pay attention to the outfits she wears or what is in the stores right now.  I never really looked that close at fashion, but now I definitely do!"  It's great how owning an Etsy shop can open your eyes to things you had never noticed before.  I love broadening horizons.

This adorable Hello Kitty bow is available for purchase here.

I want to give a special shout out to the jersey headbands!  These are labor intensive and require a lot of sewing, but the result is beautiful.  They look very comfortable and so stylish!  I love it when comfort and style combine with such fabulous results.  Here are a couple more of those headbands.  I can't help it.  They are so fun!!

This lovely jersey headband is available for purchase here.

This darling jersey knit headband is available for purchase here.

Although Dana is a "new" crafter, she is obviously a hard working one.  I think these jersey knit headbands might be my favorite.  Dana says, "I definitely aim to please.  I am my harshest critique.  I am going to keep learning and trying new things and having a ton of fun while doing it!"  What a fantastic attitude for an artisan to have.  I think it is in our blood.  

Thank you Dana for sharing all of your wonderful thoughts and your beautiful bows!  I have tried to show a good sampling of the variety in AbraBOWdana, but you will really have to visit the shop and browse her items to see all of the beautiful work she does.  You can also find Dana on Facebook.  Please stop on her page and show this hard working artisan some love.

Love and Peace,


Friday, August 3, 2012

We Have a New Board and It's Not Like the Others!

Yes, our Customer Appreciation board is up and running!  There are many great deals being offered by the shops and you can find those on the coupon codes list.  I have been trying to make sure that it is on each page so no one will have to hunt for a coupon code.  Each purchase also enters you in a raffle!  4 prizes will be given away at the end of the month.  Let me show you what our fabulous shops donated this month...

From Art By Kelly, a lovely set of 15 gift tags and a bookmark!

From The Shop At Pooh Corner, a fun set of 4 mini Hello Kitty stamps!

From CLeasBeadwork, a beautiful set of beaded butterfly barrettes!

From Cosmic Cauldron, a fabulous set of 8 tea light candles (scent to be determined)!

You will find all of their shops featured on the board.  You will also find:
Nonoluna - Beautiful Beaded Jewelry
Agnes of Bohemia - Lovely Vintage Postcards
Creations By AAJ - Stylish Bags
Mind Body and Soul Soaps - Fabulous Bath and Beauty Products
Live Upcycled - Eco Friendly Jewelry
Birdlegs Photography - Stunning Prints and Cards
Puppy Pillows Plus - Fabulous and Functional Dog Pillows/Beds
Rock N Beads - Great Selection of Beads/Rock Supplies 
Idle Hands Yarn - Large Selection of Eco Friendly Supplies
Rocco's Country Spice - Awesome BBQ Sauce and spices
Whimsy Woodcrafts - Wonderful Wooden Signs and Magnets (and custom/personalized orders!)
Divine Deliciousness - Yummy Baked Goodies

As you can see, we have a grand selection of shops to chose from.  So stop in and take a peak.  There is nothing wrong with a little "window" shopping.

Love and Peace,


Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Winner of the July Treasury Competition (Drum Roll Please...)

Dana from AbraBOWdana will be our featured shop on the August Weekend BNS Bash!  Our semi-finalists for the month will also have spots on the board.  Please give some love to Jan from JanDavis2, Cindy from CE Crafts, and Susan from Oh Edith.

What is our treasury competition? Well, each week team members submit treasuries in a defined format to be chosen as that week's semi-finalist winner. They get the board posted on the team blog and are entered to win the monthly drawing. If they win the monthly drawing I will feature their board on the Bellas Weekend BNS Bash.  If they don't win, they will still receive one spot on each of the Weekend Bash boards for being a semi-finalist. Our next Bash is August 4-5. Once a board fills we will start another and the fun continues!

Want to enter the treasury contest? It is very easy. First, you must be a member of BellasBNS. You can join from that link. The thread for this week's competition is here. Build your treasury according to the rules on there and post the link. You are then entered!

Be on the lookout for a shop feature on AbraBOWdana in the next day or two!  Dana has a beautiful shop and you will love it!

Love and Peace,


Etsy Shop Promotion Series: Using BNS and BNR Boards on Etsy to Promote Your Business

If you have ever looked through the list of treasuries on Etsy you have seen BNR and BNS treasuries.  You will also see threads on every active Etsy team's discussion boards with links to these boards.  There are several teams on Etsy built entirely around participation on these boards.  What are BNR and BNS boards?  Well, I already covered that in a previous article.  So let's talk about why these are so popular.  Why do shops participate in these?  What makes it worth their time and money to invest in these boards?

Shops participate in different boards for different reasons.  So let's look at this board by board.  Let's take a moment to talk just about BNR boards and another to discuss BNS boards because both have different pros and cons, as each present different opportunities and challenges.

BNR Boards and How to Use Them

BNR boards are very popular.  I think it has something to do with our love of instant gratification.  You make a purchase and the item of your choice is immediately featured.  It is thrilling to see your shop immediately up on a board that is getting a lot of traffic.  Your adrenaline increases with the number of views your shop is getting.  And it happens instantaneously.  I have sold items in minutes after buying in on some boards.  I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it!  

These boards tend to move fast and have a lot of action.  There are usually several people chatting away and sales can be fast and furious if it is a busy board.  These are very social and fun boards.  There are often games, like trivia games, for a free feature in an upcoming board.  You can buy in several times.  Most boards have a max of 2 spots, but if someone buys from you then you can buy in again.  It is great exposure for your shop, as many people will see it and you have a great opportunity to get your product out there.  Once people see how wonderful it is they will be back for more!

The down side of these boards is that one buy in will only get you one sale because once someone buys from you they take your spot and you are no longer on the board.  Unless you buy in again.  Now that sale can be a significant sale, but my experience has been that money wise you usually break even.  People will often, but not always, buy a lesser priced item because their main goal is to get on the board while spending as little as possible.  BNR boards have never been a real source of revenue for me.

So why do I do them?  I consider it advertising.  Several people see my shop and get an opportunity to interact with me and experience my customer service first hand.  If they buy from my shop, they also get to hold my product in their hands and that is so very important.  BNR boards are a great way to get your product into someone's hands.  And that is the obstacle of selling anything.  Your first priority should always be getting your product into a customer's hands.  Once they are holding it, they develop a personal connection to it and can see it as being theirs.  Getting product into a customer's hands is a challenge to selling online and the best way to overcome that challenge is to use whatever tools you can to get your products out to customers.  And it doesn't stop with the customer because they will have friends, family, and co-workers that will potentially see that item and hold it and then they develop that personal connection to it and can see it being theirs.  The circle of life, retail sales version.

I recommend trying these boards out if you are looking to get exposure for your shop.  It will get you out there and known to potential customers.  You will put product into customer's hands.  You may even make a little money.  You might just break even.  But your shop name will be out there for hundreds of people to see.  And all it costs you is a buy in fee that is usually $5 or less.  That is really cheap advertising.

BNS Boards and How to Use Them

I love BNS boards.  These boards run on rounds so you stay on the board until the round ends.  A round is usually around 6-12 sales.  The buy in to a round runs around $5 or less on most boards.  Even after someone buys from your store, you still stay up there until the round ends.  This gives you the potential to make multiple sales for one buy in.  I love getting more for less.

There are often opportunities to get an extra round by buying form a certain row or column.  Sometimes you get extra rounds for buying from the curator or a featured shop.  Often a board will run a referral contest, the person to refer the most people to the board to fave it or once a person gets to 10 referrals or whatever random number they decide will win an extra round.  Sometimes the curator will give opportunities to buy in at no minimum buy in cost.  There is always a coupon list and most shops will have a coupon code for you to use.  These boards are full of great deals.

They are also very social boards at times.  A BNS doesn't have a constant curator.  They are set up to be able to kind of work as self service shopping.  So sometimes a board will be completely dead and you will just see pages of people leaving comments that they faved or refaved.  Or they will say that someone sent them for that person to get a referral.  Or you will see transaction links and the curator updating the list for the next round.  These are slow times during the board when there aren't many people coming in.  I mean this is retail and all stores have their slow times.  I have a friend who works in a shoe store.  When it is slow they all go into a back room and knit.  If a customer comes in one of them stops and goes out and takes care of the customer, but they take turns so no one is having to put their knitting down often.  I think this is awesome!  

That is what our curators are doing too when it is slow.  They may not be knitting, but they are crafting something.  They stop working and check in on the board and update it as needed.  They thank everyone that stopped in.  They may ask if there are any shoppers.  If it is still quiet they will go back to crafting or whatever they need to do and then they will check in on the board again and go through the same thing.  If there are people around that want to chat the curator will often join in.  You will often find chat going on while the curator is out.  If a group of people are on the board at the same time you will often see conversation going on.  There are friendly people everywhere you go on these boards.

These boards are also great exposure because your shop stays up for an entire round.  Usually a full day and sometimes two or three if sales are slow.  This give an opportunity for many hundreds and, occasionally if the board moves a time or two, even over a thousand people a chance to see your shop.  The visibility to your shop is fabulous!

Both boards have their unique pros and cons, but both boards do give your shop exposure.  People see your shop on them.  They will browse through it.  They will favorite items or your shop.  And they will buy from you.  Each person has their personal preferences as to which board they like best, but I recommend trying both out and see how you feel about them.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing our new blog writers Natalee and Francesca's experience with BNR and BNS boards.  I will also go into strategies to employ on both boards to get the maximum benefit of each.  Until then, I hope you will visit these boards and learn more about them.

Love and Peace,