Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Tis the Season...

...or at least it is somewhere. It's 70 degrees here and for this East Coast kid California is somewhat lacking in holiday atmosphere. Since we can't have snow we just glitter-bomb everything that stands still long enough to get tagged. My husband and I are sort of low-key about holidays and our biggest annual tradition is the ritual of his holding down the animals and forcing them to have their picture taken wearing the dumbest antler headpiece in the world. I think that this one of my long deceased cocker spaniel is the best example of "Why me?" that we have in the collection. He was the sweetest little guy. We rescued him when he was so neglected that he had already almost lost an eye due to untreated infections but he lived on for years as a happy, sunny little fluffball who loved everyone and everything. Merry Christmas!

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Logos, Banners, Avatars and Ads

Steph's last post reminded me that I never followed up on my previous post about branding confusion or showed you what I ended up with. Branding is much more than just your graphic images (see Umlaut's OP in this great thread for details) but I'll stick to the images for now. Umlaut does a much better job of explaining it all than I could at this point.

I started with a vague idea of a plus size mannequin with something yarny draped across it but all of my attempts made it look like she was wearing a beauty pageant sash. They were awful. One day there was a trainwreck of an Etsy thread about branding and as a result I ended up working with the graphic designer UmlautGraphics who brought it all together for me. Not all designers there do the same things. Many if not most appear to put banners together out of different pieces of existing art or product photos, look nice and are fairly inexpensive and others are professional graphic artists who can also create the whole package from scratch and cost a bit more. I had been feeling stuck because I thought that I had to know exactly what I wanted before anyone else could give it to me but it turns out that I didn't after all. Umlaut had a pretty interesting process where she had me make a list of likes and hates to pull inarticulate ideas out of my head. My hates (in terms of my products ) were things like cutesy cartoons, fairies and unicorns, Victorian images, hard-edged modern metal and bedazzled glitterpoop and I liked things that were more mature, sophisticated and curvy. I probably drove her crazy by calling things by the wrong name and confusing her but I absolutely love what she created for me. I have a great logo, an avatar and banner and a little ad box with my tag line for blog advertising. I developed the tag line in a thread with lots of plus size women and it was really fun. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the logo but it's perfect to use as a banner in my new shop. So instead of having a bunch of fuzzy purple stuff I now have this great look:

She made me some beautiful business cards too but they're a pdf so I can't post them here. I'll have to go back to her to change the URL to point to my new shop when I'm ready to open but luckily I only ordered a small batch of the first run because I had the feeling that I would want to be branching out from Etsy sooner rather than later. Relatively speaking it wasn't all that expensive to use a professional, the process was fairly painless (for me, anyway - Umlaut might roll her eyes at that statement), and I'm very, very happy with the result. Unless you're very good at this sort of thing yourself I would definitely recommend letting a professional do it for you. My business name is a mouthful and not very easy to remember but my logo is unique and easily recognizable. I love my sweater girl so much that I want to stick her on everything.


Snark of the day (I wish I could say these things without getting muted):

"No, dear, you don't make smart people laugh, you make dumb people think that they're smart".

"You want Etsy to be juried? Are you nuts? Their idea of juried art would be to make you provide a link to the Pottery Barn item that you copied".

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


So Stephanie Makes All is kind of.. a mouthful? weird? Bad enough that Hey Michelle once told me to start a new shop back when I only had 1 sale? ( HeyMichelle is one of the admins on Etsy)

I've been thinking about this for some time, but was on the fence about it. Then I realized that almost everything else with my branding has One Stitch Designs on it anyway, and I already have the DBA form.

So I got hold of phaniemarie yesterday, and asked her to do a little bit of tweaking for me.

Not a big deal, I'm still the same shop, but with a much better name now.

Then I went ahead and finally purchased a domain name, which took 8 hours to become live. For the moment, One Stitch points to my main etsy shop, but only until I get the Supadupa shop up and running.

Now I have a bunch of little things to change, the mailing list is one of them, so I have to go change that now!

Plus I need new business cards!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Take Your Milestones Where You Can Get Them

It can be a little depressing over at Etsy when people start celebrating their gazillion sales and hard to remember that one of my sales equals the revenue of at least 10 average sales there and often 100 times the amount of the little stuff like basic supplies. My stuff sells so slowly there compared to offline that I feel like I'm failing most of the time. Oddly enough, I'm not. I just ran the numbers for my on-Etsy sales this year and after yesterday's sale they totaled over $1500. I've made back my initial investment and even after yarn costs I actually paid myself something. If I include all of my offline sales I've had a great first year since most new small businesses fail right away. So $1500 might not be much to celebrate but I'm doing it anyway...

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

My pets never got that memo.

I haven't done a thing with my new shop yet so here's an overdose of cute instead. I have dozens of pictures of various cats and dogs snuggling together - the puppy is just the latest confused cat lover in the household.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


OK, so like Karen, I was able to squeeze into supadupa before the early bird special ended.

So far, I'm really liking the site, it has clear directions, is really clean looking, and it's super easy to import all of my etsy listings in there.

I'll be mixing both of my shops into it, and deleting anything OOAK.

I do believe this is where I am going to put my domain name. the supadupa shop looks like it'd be perfect for my .com it's about time i found something!!

The editing on 280+ listings is going to take forever though! glad I have the shop set to where no one can see it yet, or I'd be in trouble with the Google Overlords.

It will probably go live after Christmas, when I have just a little more time on my hands.

Now back off to crocheting, orders to fill!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Evaluating Hosting Platforms

Even though I grabbed the free Supadupa offer I'm still looking into others and comparing them to each other to see which seems the best to me. There are so many but I think that I'll stick with Supadupa, Weebly and Goodsie since I can get the most information about them from small sellers.

So far I have seven main issues to consider on my list. Of course I can get the most information about Supadupa because I can see all of the details and I have to look at demos for the others. There is an Etsy team for each one so I can learn a lot by reading through threads to see what kind of experiences other people have.

1) Stability of the company: Weebly wins since the other 2 are too new to have a track record yet.

2) Technical Qualifications: I can't find out much about that other than PR pieces but Goodsie often hangs up on me and I'm not sure why. Both Goodsie and Supadupa are so new that their servers might start bogging down as they get more traffic but there's really no way to predict that without asking a lot of questions that are none of my business. I've been out of the business for too long to do a decent evaluation of hardware and platform software anyway. Weebly probably wins because they're bigger and most likely have a larger and more well-paid staff.

3) SEO Capabilities: This is the most important thing to me so far. In order to figure this out I went to shops on each site and dumped the page source to see what they were sticking into the title, description and keyword HTML tags. The only real difference between them is in the use of the keyword tag. As far as I can tell neither Goodsie or Weebly is even using it at all and Supa is using them in just the way that I would want other than the keywords for the home page view. I wish that they would use our categories as keywords but instead they are using the words of our title separated by commas. It's not awful and I can somewhat work around it by using my keywords judiciously but I'd get a bit more bang for my SEO buck if they used the category names in full. They plan to implement a more granular level of control in the future so that will be fun to learn to use. IMO Supadupa wins on this one.

4) Cost: Obviously Supadupa wins since I just got a premium membership that is free for life and I can list up to 450 products. I'll die of old age long before that point. Weebly and Goodsie aren't expensive if you go for more than the stripped down free version but I can't get anywhere near this much for nothing on those sites. All I have to do on Supadupa is be a guinea pig and since I plan to do this slowly and not open until late spring or early summer I have time to see if something yucky comes up first.

5) Aesthetics: Goodsie sites look pretty nice and there appears to be a reasonable amount of template choices and customizable features. Some looked very nice and others made my eyes hurt because they were so busy. I looked at about a dozen weebly sites and didn't see even one that I really liked. The landing page is some "about" thing and I want people to see my products on the first click. That may be a choice but the shops all took too many clicks to get to the actual items and they all looked mostly the same and sort of bland and boring. It wasn't reassuring that most of them were just redirecting people to Etsy. Chances are that I'm only seeing some free accounts and that there are more interesting choices when you start to pay for them. IMO Supadupa wins this one. There is a really big selection of free templates, it's as easy as can be to run through them all and see your shop with them and most are very elegant and upscale looking. I can play around with all sorts of combinations of my logo and banner and switch them out for a preview. I think that I've narrowed it down to two choices and I like both of them so much that I can't choose one.

6) URLs - As far as I can tell I can redirect a main URL to all of them but Weebly charges for it, I think.

7) Ease of Use: I can't imagine how anything could be easier to use than Supadupa is. As I read through the Weebly and Goodsie team threads I don't get the sense that they're as much of a breeze to use. They also have a great feature that lets you put items in more than one category at a time and arrange each section in the order that you want your items to be in. I haven't looked into the payment methods, shipping and tax parts yet but no one else seems to be having trouble with them.

I'm sure that I'll find out new things that I should have considered as I go through the process of setting up my shop and redoing everything in it but for right now I think that Supadupa is the best choice for me.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Selecting a Hosting Platform

So I've finally started to look into hosting platforms so that I can be ready to set up shop on my own once sweater season is over. So far 3 of them have stood out as the most used by people on Etsy - Weebly, Goodsie and Supadupa. I have a few primary concerns in no particular order:

1) Stability of the company: I'd like to choose a platform that has some history and record of stability. How long have they been in existence and is their customer base growing or shrinking? Weebly wins hands down on this one because they've been around for ages and get great reviews from most people that use it. Many professional web developers recommend it to their DIY clients as an easy way to get going.

2) Qualifications of administrative and technical staff: I probably won't be able to get answers to this one but again, Weebly has a great reputation and the others are too new to have a track record. I'd like to see something that has at least 99.5% uptime but I might not be able to get an answer to that either.

3) Ability to control SEO. They all give you some ability to do this but I'm going to have to do more research to be certain that I'm at least going to be able to have a strategy that includes my shop title, shop description and section names in addition to item titles, tags and descriptions. So far I've only looked into Supadupa in detail and I already see a problem with section names. I need to keep researching this by dumping the page source for a shop and an item on each platform and take a look at what ends up in the main SEO tags that google uses. I also need to figure out if weebly gets better google placement because of backlinks than the newer ones will. TBH it's somewhat stunning to me that so few people see this is a major issue even though they are going to have to drive all of their own traffic there from search engines.

4) Cost - I dove in and started a Supadupa account about 5 minutes before their "free for life" deal expired. I may not end up using it but it's hard to beat that price. So far the interface seems incredibly easy. Goodsie has a monthly fee and it sounds like Weebly has a free basic account but it doesn't have all of the available features that the paid accounts do.

5) Aesthetics - I have to be able to make it look nice and use my logo, banner, etc. Thankfully they don't say Etsy anywhere on them.

6) I have to be able to use my own URL and redirect it there without some host name plugged into it. I can live with a small logo on the bottom of the page but I'd prefer not to have one.

7) Ease of use. I'm pretty technical but I don't want to spend my time writing amateur HTML code. I want easy uploads and drop and drag functionality.

All in all I feel safer going with something that has been in existence for more then a few years but there are also advantages to getting in on the ground floor. In general the reason that sites give out free accounts to the first comers is to get feedback from them and give the whole thing a trial run so someone technical like me often gets to have some input into how to improve things like SEO. Since I have the free Supadupa account I'll start researching there and I'm sure that it will raise additional questions for me.

My first step was to close my Zibbet shop. I don't want to have to come up with 3 ways to describe the same thing without duplicate content because thinking up 2 of them is hard enough. Zibbet is dead anyway. I'm going to try to spend at least 30 minutes each day looking into this so that I'm ready to set up shop in the early spring.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crochet is not Knitting

I think that I need to make a sign with that on it and hang it over my desk. Customers always think that my sweaters are knitted because they don't really know the difference but some things that are easy to knit are nearly impossible to crochet and many crochet stitches can't even be approximated in knitting. Whenever I try too hard to make something seem knitted or sewn the bottom line is that the item should be done in the right medium with the right materials and I should quit trying to fake it. I just got asked by someone that bought one of my sweaters to do a custom order for another one based on a knitted Burberry cable one that costs over $1700. Look at this thing - it's amazing and even without their name it's probably worth almost as much as they're charging if it's hand done. I'm not sure if knitting machines can do that but I doubt it.

Incredible Sweater

It has 5 main components and 4 are easy - small 2 strand twists, larger 2 strand twists, popcorns and ribbing. The last is that huge basketweave cable down the front and my brain is starting to bleed from trying to figure out a way to do it. I can do 3 strand cables and I think I just did a pretty good job of mapping out a 6 strand one but that isn't what she really wants. I can give her a big fat complicated cable but it will never look like the one in the picture. I'm doing the mature and fair thing and talking to my favorite sweater knitter who says that even though it would be mindboggling to crochet it's actually fairly easy to knit if the woman can wait for her to have the time. I'm going to make the most complicated sample that I can come up with to show her because even if she doesn't want to do it I'm going to make a cable sweater anyway now that I've spent hours playing around with them again. I forgot how much I liked doing them even if they use up a massive amount of yarn.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Saturday, December 3, 2011

True Confessions - Things I never heard of before I came to Etsy pt 2

OK, so Karen did her thing, now it's time for me to do mine :)

Etsy is definitely it's own little subculture. I had never heard of a lot of the things there, like fingerless gloves. that's a newer one on me, and a decent seller I may add :)

Or scarves made out of shredded t shirts.

Or sticking a dictionary page into your printer and sticking clip art on it.

But the ones that get me the most are the business ideas.


"someone's selling an item from my pattern!! I'm going to report them for copyright infringement"
Not infringement honey, unless your pattern has complicated color work or a piece of artwork on it (like a horse or something), copyright protection does not extend to the pattern itself. If you do not want someone selling items made from your pattern, you really shouldn't distribute it. I get crochet magazines every now and then, and usually you can find a pretty item from one on Etsy or elsewhere online 2 days after the magazine goes out.

"Someone didn't use my coupon code, I have to refund"
No, you don't have to, you can if you want, but businesses put out codes with the knowledge that a % of the people will not use it. If you want everyone to have the discount, edit your listings, because that will save you a lot of time over refunding everyone. Plus you can have issues from PayPal when you refund money often.

"You have to have pretty packaging" It's nice on a high dollar item, but seriously, as long as it gets somewhere safe, it's fine. A lot of people realize that the pretty ribbon costs money. That said, don't stick your item in a really torn up bubble mailer, and if your target market is the type that is into pretty packaging, it might be a good idea to pretty it up.

That's all for now!

Join my mailing mailing list and get a 25% off coupon to either of my shops!

Monday, November 28, 2011

True Confessions - Things I never knew before I came to Etsy

(Warning - this might be tl;dr for most people but at least scroll to the end to see the picture - it's hilarious.)

In case it isn't already obvious, I'm not the crafty type. I love to design and crochet things but that's about it. There are so many things that I've seen on Etsy that I never knew or heard of before but you can't swing a cat around there without offending dozens of people so I'll confess/laugh here.

- I have never seen a hot glue gun, never mind used one. Everything that I glue falls apart in the rain.

- I've worked with yarn all of my life and I have no idea what felting is or how it's done. I think that it has something to do with needles and a phenomenal amount of patience. I always thought that felt came in little sheets from the craft store.

- I can't even pronounce the name of those cutesy little crocheted animals. I think it's something like amigurami. Don't ask me why they can't just call them little crocheted whatevers.

- Adults wear tutus and not just on Halloween. Seriously? I thought that I lived in the weirdest place on earth but grownups don't dress like aging ballerinas.

- People wear cowls that come all the way up to their eyeballs. I have no idea of how they breathe that way. I feel like I'm choking in turtlenecks.

- Fingerless gloves are phenomenally popular. I don't text and my fingers are always freezing. I wish someone would make the fingers without the gloves part.

- There is something called a hipster that is native to Brooklyn. They wear painfully tight jeans, Buddy Holly glasses, spout pseudo-intellectual nonsense about literature and philosophy that they've never read but glanced at on Wikipedia and like owls, mustaches and little woodland creatures. I refuse to believe that there is any definition of hip that includes stuffed animals on bicycles and fake mustaches. . They like a color called greige which is what happens when you mix up white, grey and beige and toss it all over everything. I think that Pottery Barn invented it. These kids are seriously lacking in imagination when it comes to designing a subculture. There is also a heretical sect called the Loud Spandex Tribe that lives deep in the jungles of Brooklyn. Their core belief is that if they make you look at their tights every day you’ll eventually buy them so that you can burn them and never have to see them again. I'm guessing that the schism had something to do with using one color too many.

- People will pay for someone else to put sticks in a jar for them. Pet rocks, move over.

- In Etsy jargon, cupcake means nauseating suck-up who will never, ever state an opinion that is not already approved by the powers that be. Another confession - I never ate a single cupcake during the whole fancy cupcake phase. I avoid bakeries like the plague. Also, an incredible number of people call a sale a sell. Yay - I got a sell today! WTF?

- They have some pretty funny acronyms over there. My favorite is BNA, which stands for Be Nice, Asshole. It happens when someone starts a thread asking why we all can't just get along while simultaneously insulting everyone with their OP.

- Forums comprised of over 90% women are way more vicious than the ones that are mostly comprised of men. It's just amazing to see someone with a lovely delicate bridal shop spewing venom in every direction and calling other people's stuff hideous crap.

- It's a bit dangerous to be a yarn snob over there. Some things are best kept to yourself. There is also a seriously scary knitting mafia who will hunt you down and kill you (or at least snitch on you) if you dare to call crochet a knit. Never mind that the entire fashion industry does it - on Etsy it's a technique only and the rest of the dictionary definitions are verboten. I'm pretty sure that you have to earn your cupcake status to be considered for membership but that might be a coincidence.

- It turns out that something can be both unique and trendy at the same time and you can shop locally while simultaneously supporting the global economy. Who knew?

Yesterday I saw this wonderful painting by the artist ArtdeJoie on Etsy that sums this all up perfectly. Every time that I look at it I see another funny detail. She does beautiful work so go check out her whole shop if you can. If you click on the photo below it will take you to the full size version. I'm going to buy the print instead because I'd have to sell a lot of sweaters to afford a real painting by someone other than my nieces and nephews.

Etsy Hipster Satire by ArtdeJoie

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Choosing a Hosting Platform or Venue

Sometimes I can be a real idiot and forget the most obvious and basic things. When I decided to get serious about this I wrote up a very detailed project plan that covered the first two years of operation in terms of what I had to do to have a fully functioning business by the winter of 2012. So far I'm right on track - I've set up shops on Etsy and Zibbet, started a blog here and a facebook page, learned all about SEO and how to use google analytics to analyze performance stats, had someone do a professional logo, banner and business cards for me and sold enough online and locally to end my first year with more than twice as much cash as I started with plus all of my inventory. I knew that I wouldn't ever be able to afford models so my pictures still stink but I'll figure something out. What I didn't do was research venues carefully or even make a list of what I should evaluate before making a platform choice. Instead I just jumped into Etsy assuming that it was the best place to start. This was not very bright because making a list of questions and issues should have been my first step. Chances are that if I had bothered to check Etsy's target demographics and sales data I would have never considered setting up there. When the target is women under 30 that spend about $10-$20 per purchase I'm obviously in the wrong place. When combined with the perception that Etsy is a mistagged joke when it comes to plus sizes it's clear that I blew it with this decision and that Etsy's market standing is of no use to me at all. I've been turned down by 2 blogs already that have shopping lists of resources because they won't link to Etsy for anything that has to do with plus sizes. They don't want to risk their reputations by endorsing a site that allows the kind of misleading tagging that E does even though everything in my shop is ready to ship at the stated prices.

So, it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm not going to change anything until the end of sweater season but I'm going to start making a list of all of the issues that I need to consider and questions that I need to answer before choosing a hosting platform for my own .com. If there's one thing that I do know how to do it's to evaluate software and technical infrastructure options so that I don't choose something with no track record of stability or very limited abilities to control my SEO.

Today is for finishing an alpaca sweater though. I've been dragging it out because I love touching the yarn so much but I can be done in an hour if I stop dithering around.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday - Support Handmade

So here we are, it's finally black Friday, and the masses are flocking to the big box stores. But not all of them :) Some of us have the sense to stay home, maybe looking for deals online.

So this holiday shopping weekend, buy handmade!! even if it isn't on sale.

You will get handcrafted goodies made by someone who cares about the product.

The item will be unique, or not very common. The price will not include pay for a wealthy CEO, board of directors, and supervisors; nor the cost of transporting it several times between facilities.

You will be supporting a small time indie artist (who sometimes can not find other work- I know I can not).

So go against the grain, and buy handmade! (or vintage) no designer knockoffs, no Hello Kitty or Disney or any major brand. Gift something unique this holiday season!!

BTW, I'm having free shipping worldwide on everything in Stephanie Makes All this weekend!

And 25% off of everything in my supply shop, One Stitch!

Friday, November 18, 2011

So Much To Do, No Energy To Do It

So, my depression has hit uber hard again, and every time that happens, my sales and views start taking a dive.

I find myself not hitting the social networking stuff as much (or at all), find myself not joining in discussions in the forums I frequent, find myself not wanting to even make new items, even though I have a million ideas.

I find the best way to bring myself out of the funk enough to do something is to make a list of all of the crap I need to do, and maybe I'll get half of it done!!

So here's my list of things needing done- the things that aren't housework anyway.

*set up sales for black Friday/ cyber Monday (still undecided)

*make new designs, or at least new colors of some older designs that I only made one or 2 colors of)

*write up a couple of the patterns I've been meaning to write up

*and retake pictures of the tam I decided to make. Because for some reason, that pic turned out really dark, and I'm not that good at the photo editing software.

That's just the current list. I'm sure I'm missing about 10 things :) Hopefully I'll get all of that done!

Now where do I find the energy to do it??? Anna girl's been super needy, and I've been a deer hunter's widow for several weeks!!! Steve, come home and watch the baby for a while!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Have a Complaint

Yeah, I know, so what else is new? At least this one is about a new subject.

I started a Facebook fan page like a good little marketer even though I have no idea of what to do with it or how it's supposed to help me other than to datamine and spread my and my friends' personal information all over the internet. Don't get me wrong, the one lady that comes and talks to me is very nice but it isn't like I've got some big following. I wander around liking things that have anything to do with plus sizes in the hopes that someone might know I exist there.

I think that I might be one of the only people that designs plus size clothes that doesn't wear them but now every one of the ads that show up on my page is either for dangerous fad diets or junk food. Talk about a mixed message! It's like the marketing people can't decide whether to kill you by starving you to death or loading you up with enough empty fat calories to stop your heart. The pages that tell you to eat less and exercise more oddly enough don't have anywhere near the number of likes as the ones that tell you that you can drop 100 pounds in 6 months and keep it off forever. No wonder so many women have body image and self-esteem problems. Something tells me that when someone likes straight size shops they don't get bombarded with food ads.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SEO - I'm doing the happy dance

When I first started it back in August with a bit of work I had most of my plus size sweater coats showing up on the first two pages of google. Once all of the major department stores started their fall and winter advertising I was bumped back but a few could still be found on the first 3 pages. Then I made one change to my shop-level SEO in both shops and all but one of my sweaters disappeared. I started to panic and then realized that my shop itself was now on page 1 when I searched on "plus size designer sweaters" "plus size handmade designer sweaters", "plus size sweater coats", "plus size handmade sweaters", "handmade designer sweaters" and my Zibbet and FB fan page are all over the first few pages too. On a straight "plus size sweaters" I don't turn up until page 4 but that's not bad considering that there are huge numbers of them out there and it's a very general search. I have to keep pinching myself to believe that my shop name is all over the place right before the start of the holiday shopping season. Buying Mary's guide was the best thing that I've done for my shop so far.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Monday, November 7, 2011

What I Love About Custom Orders

So my last 3 orders were all custom. they were:

A set of 4 trivets in the shapes of pumpkins,
A set of 3 soap savers in a special yarn for sensitive skin.
And a pair of lace fingerless gloves, that are elbow length.

All 3 were a challenge, and this is what I love the most about custom orders!!

For the pumpkin trivets, I wound up making 2 brand new designs, one was rejected, but I was able to put it into my shop.

For the soap savers, I had to hurry up and contact a member of (site for knitters and crocheters), and get a skein of the special yarn quickly.

And for the lace gloves, I had to completely re-do the glove pattern to make sure it would fit the bigger part of the buyer's forearms.

And now I have a 4th custom order :) simple little flowers appliques :)

The challenge on this one, to design several little designs. and make a bunch up quickly.

I sure do love to take on a challenge!! Now back off to work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who do I work for anyway?

This week's Etsy drama is about their new practice of including ads for other shops within our transaction confirmation emails. Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Is it a business practice that I find to be completely tasteless, tacky and inappropriate? Absolutely. It raises a lot of important issues for me in terms of how I define my business and branding. I'm retired from professional work now and one of the things that I love about this is that I feel like I'm finally working for myself and not for a Board of Directors or CEO. I never have to feel ashamed or embarrassed by anyone else's behavior anymore. I tend to see Etsy as my landlord and not as my employer. My landlord (if I had one) could raise my rent and enforce whatever legal limits that he wants to but he can't come in and sign my mail or redecorate my house. Clearly Etsy can and it's their site. I just hadn't realized how much taste control I'm giving up. It's certainly food for thought. I'm pretty practical and I understand that if I want to play in Etsy's sandbox I have to deal with whatever they decide and I have no issue with that but it isn't what I envisioned when I decided to have a hobby/business. I'm not sure what the point of having a little side business is if I can't even control my branding in a way that I feel would help me to grow. This combined with the never-ending push toward trendy disposable consumerism over there is making me feel a little bit dirty.

There's no fast answer or venue with comparable traffic but I'm learning now that this is something that I should have given more thought to right up front. Given that this is a hobby and I don't need the money badly enough to compromise my principles, what are my ethical boundaries? Is there a point where I would say "enough is enough, this is not me at all" and where is that point? I don't know yet but I'm surely going to be thinking about it. The miniscule number of sales I get there may not be worth this icky feeling that my brand spams customers with trendy items that the customer didn't ask for. I just hate spam so much and I'm not sure that I want another job that I'm not in control of or to work for kids half my age that don't appear to have a mature business ethic when it comes to how they treat their customers.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Youtube, maybe?

I've been watching a whole bunch of YouTube vids lately, and I've noticed a lot that are useful and helpful, but also promo.

It's making me wonder if maybe I shouldn't try YouTube as a possible means of promotion?

I'd have to do a lot, like clean so i have an area to do vids in, and learn how to edit videos that come off of my easyshare, learn how to do anything with youtube, etc.

I'll look into it some more, as long as they are useful vids, i should at least get eyeballs on my URL!!

can't hurt

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crochet and Design Bliss

Sometimes I get so caught up in learning the marketing end of having an online business that I forget to talk about the main reason that I do it which is that I just love to crochet. I can't imagine not doing it every day or what it would be like not to be able to dream up designs and turn them into reality. I love talking with plus size women about the styles that they love and wish that they could find and about what flatters different body types. I've realized that I design for pear shapes because that's what I was and what comes naturally to me but I'm leaving out a lot of people with apple figures. In honor of that realization I'm making a modified babydoll style sweater with a fuller front than usual in these gorgeous designer yarns. It should be at least a 2X and maybe even a 3X. I'm in heaven just getting to feel the softness and feast on my favorite colors of purple and turquoise.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Branding My Business - Help!

I've started to look into branding and I sure have a lot to learn. Having a good and consistent logo, banner, avatar and business card design are only part of it but they're essential parts.

Since I have no artistic ability beyond crocheting and designing gardens I'm working with a professional on Etsy to get it all done. She's been great at pulling ideas out of my head but now we're up to the tag line and I have to write that myself. It can't be so wordy that it won't fit on a business card and I've been staring at a list of words for 3 days now but they won't form into anything good in my mind. Somehow I want to convey luxurious designer sweaters and accessories that are mostly in plus sizes. I do have a few sweaters in the shop that are small or medium sizes so I don't want to call myself an exclusively plus size shop. The hats and bags can all fit under the word "accessories" and the blankets are too out in left field to fit into a short line so I'm just going to leave them out.

There are so many euphemisms for plus size but I'm not sure that everyone would recognize them. "Womanly" can mean anything, "real curves" is a bit much and I'm just stuck. I think that I spent way too many years writing tech documentation and grant proposals and I can't write pretty things anymore without it feeling like torture.

"Luxurious Designer Sweaters and Accessories" doesn't indicate plus sizes and I really need to get that in there because eventually that will be the only kind I make. You're great at writing, Stephanie - do you have any ideas? Somehow I have to fit luxury, sweaters and plus sizes (but not to the exclusion of all else) into a short phrase.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Monday, October 17, 2011

How To Feel Miserable As An Artist

We artisans have a tendancy to let depression get to us (I know I do!!)

Here are a few things I've found to be very, very bad to do:

Undervaluing your expertise.

Setting overwhelming goals that have to be accomplished by, um, now.

Constantly comparing yourself to others.

Letting money dictate what you do.

Expecting your family to be super, uber supportive (that doesn't always happen).

In the family thread, making only what your family would love 

Basing the success of your entire career on one project.

Sticking only with what you know.

Bowing to societal pressures.

Not knowing your limitations (but do try to push them, you never know what you are capable of)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finally - a Super-Plus Size Sweater

I've been wanting to get a sweater into my shop that's at least a 4X/5X for ages now but I keep ending up with only enough yarn to get to 2X/3X. I finally broke down and bought 3 big cones of fine cotton chenille so that I could triple-strand it for bulk and warmth and make it a full knee-length tunic. I can even make it somewhat affordable because I got a great deal on the yarn and it worked up very quickly. Bulky sweaters without detailed colorwork always go quickly. Of course it's 3 sizes too large for my mannequin so the pictures aren't great but I can't wait for google to crawl it and start getting hits for those sizes too.

Here it is:
Size 4X 5X Sweater from MirabilisFashions

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Experience With Etsy Search Ads

Ok, so I did those search ads, just to try them.

spent $4, got 26 views, and 1 favorite

In my supply shop,, I spent $2, got 5 views, and one of those views led to a sale for $5. though the buyer looked through my shop a little bit before buying, so it doesn't come up in my stats. 

While not a complete waste of time and money (of which I don't really have, so I'm wondering why I did it in the first place!!), I notice several issues that need to be addressed.

The main one is the keyword choices. While they are based off of a person's keywords, The keywords you get are often a part of a perfectly Etsy-legal keyword phrase.

It would be nice to choose your own keywords, even if they aren't on the list of keyword choices. Maybe automatically value anything that's not on the list at $1 per 1,000? then modify the list as time goes on.

And the ads themselves could be more smart. if your item is a baby boy's blanket in blue, and someone searches for a men's tie in blue, your baby blanket will come up if you used the keyword blue. Now those are not your target customers. Therefore, the impression is totally wasted.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Yay! I sold a ready to ship sweater this morning to a returning customer. It wasn't one of the more expensive ones but it was one of the smaller sizes so that works great for me in terms of my goal of focusing on plus sizes. I'm so happy. It's amazing how a few sales can make me feel optimistic again. Sort of :)

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Etsy Search Ads

Well, I tried my experiment for a week and I have to say that the results were less than impressive. I had pretty decent keywords and I was able to whittle it down to a list that made sense and didn't bring up a bunch of nonsensical stuff that's completely irrelevant to what I sell. I got some views out of it but in every single case I got more views on those same generic short tail keywords through regular search and google than I did from the ads. In my opinion the most useful thing about them was getting to see the stats that they generated for each of those words because it prompted me to add some tags that I had previously thought would be so broad as to be useless. All in all I'm still pretty convinced that people are only browsing when they search by something as general as "plus" to see every plus size that Etsy has to offer. I'd much rather target my ad for "plus size sweater" but that isn't an option. I won't be using them again unless they allow us to choose our own longer keyword strings.

Stephanie, what was your experience with them?

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Things You Should Avoid When Chosing A Craft Show

So I did another show Saturday, it sucked big time!!

This turns out to have been another learning experience (and boy I cannot afford learning experiences!!).

So what have I learned this time??

#1: Never go to a show that is more than 50% resellers.

2# Never set up next to costume jewelry and "1200 thread count sheets" that aren't

#3 bring more than preemie sized hats.

#4 Never depend on my mother for anything!! (If it weren't for my neighbors having brought an extra table, I would have been without one).

#5 This town really and truly does suck, and it seems that none of my target market lives anywhere near. Which completely rules out all local prospects for my business :(

Friday, September 30, 2011

Facebook, Procrastinating and My Birthday

OK, so I haven't really looked at Facebook ads yet because I got kind of sidetracked by the rollout of Etsy ads. I'll have more to say about those when I have some more data at the end of the week but so far it's an interesting experiment.

I've already had one big result from setting myself up on Facebook. A neighbor mentioned a little local group to me comprised of other mountain residents and within an hour of joining someone followed my profile to my shop and I was asked to set up a booth at one of the most upscale events around. It's a very fancy equestrian show and vendors are individually invited so I'm pretty excited. I sure hope that it doesn't rain because I can't take my sweaters out unless it's a nice day.

Yesterday was my birthday and my husband gave me two yarn bowls that I love. He bought them from a great Etsy shop called redhotpottery and she has all sorts of great items. Aren't these beautiful?

Yarn Bowl from Redhotpottery

Yarn Bowl from Redhotpottery

I ate so much dark chocolate ganache cake that I made myself sick and have a sugar hangover today but chances are that I'll do the same with the leftovers today and then starve until Thanksgiving.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How do Facebook Ads Work?

I'm going to start looking into those next week but if you have any words of wisdom is the meantime, Stephanie, please let me know what you think about them.

Stephanie adds Never done 'em. Never tried a single form of advertising i paid for (until this search ad thing)

If your market could be on facebook, it's worth a shot

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Etsy Search Ads

The etsy forums are on fire again, this time over Etsy's new ads. There's seems to be several misconceptions. So I'll try to clear up as many as possible right now.

People are NOT going to be buried again.
These ads only take up 4 spaces on the search, the same 4 spaces where the 4 most recently listed items are now. everything else on the page stays the same. This is how it will look:  Search ad pic

This is NOT something you have to do to be seen on etsy 

People who spend more will be able to be seen more, your paying for impressions, if someone else is paying for 20,000 impressions, and you pay for 5,000, yes, they are going to be seen more. All advertising works like this.

Who is seen will be random, if a lot of people choose the same keywords for advertising, then they will be rotated.

Each keyword costs different amounts per thousand. Here's the full list :  search ad keyword cost list

Yes, it has some bugs, like lack of flexibility in keyword choices, but etsy is not "diabolical," "evil," etc. Repeat after me kiddies: "Etsy is a for profit company."

And for the record, I'm sticking a couple of bucks into it. someone has to be the guinea pig.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creating a Facebook Fan Page - What's Next?

Well, I finally figured it out and got my page set up. I'm pretty sure that I didn't get there by the shortest path but it worked. First I started to register using "Mirabilis" as my first name and "Fashions" as my last. I guess it's smart enough to recognize certain words so I got a message that it appeared that I was trying to set up a business page and sent me there. That was pretty self-explanatory and I ended up with a fan page. Then I found out that there were some things that it seemed like I couldn't do such as add friends so I went and set up a personal page under my real name. Then I decided that I didn't want to have to maintain 2 pages and set the personal one to private. I may find out that it wasn't a good idea but I can always make it public again once I figure out why I would want to. I have my Etsy tab set up as my landing page.

Now I'm just lost. I know how to find individuals and I can see that I can advertise but I have no idea of how to find groups, games, etc. Stephanie, what do people do out there and where do I find things other than personal pages?

Can you tell me if the link takes you to the Etsy tab and not the wall? That's how I think that I set it up. If you go like my page I'll go like yours :)

Stephanie Says: friends, games, and groups are for personal pages only. But you can be found by liking other pages and posting comments on their posts as your fan page. People get curious, and they look!

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Facebook for The Anti Social "I- Don't- Want- My- Name- Out -There" People

I am an anti- social person, and I can't stand twitter, facebook, and the like. But I use them, because they could be a useful tool.

The facebook fan page is one of the best long term ways to keep in contact with your customers.

You have to have a personal page (under your name) to create a fan page (under your business name), but nothing says you have to use said personal page (I do, I play those facebook game to get "friends" to spam every now and then, plus it's useful when entering a contest!)

Facebook TOU specifically prohibit use of your personal profile strictly for business. 

Your fan page is separate from your personal profile, set up your setting to where you always post on your fan page as the page, and no one will ever be able to find your personal, and very private page!!

When setting up your page, use your business name, and as soon as you get to the required 25 followers, you can change your facebook URL to your business name.

Be careful when getting your facebook URL. I accidentally set Stephaniemakesall on my personal page, had to change that, then COULD NOT GET THE NAME ON MY FAN PAGE so now it's . so be careful with that!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Facebook for Dummies

I should have titled this "Facebook for antisocial older people who really don't want to do this" but it was too long. Stephanie, I really need help here.

OK, keep in mind that none of my friends or family use Facebook for anything so the only people that I know there are a few Etsy sellers. I don't understand what name(s) I should use to register with when I sign up. I know that I want to end up with a fan page that uses my shop name even if I have to break it in half to look like a first and last name. Is the first and last name that I use to register with going to end up as the title of my fan page or are they separate? I don't want my real name out there unless I absolutely have to in order to get it all to work right. I'm not worried about figuring out which buttons to press once I finally register but I can't do that until I understand what name(s) I should use to link my fan page to my home page with my business name. Can you explain this to me? Thanks.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's OK to be a Hobbyist

I sure have been getting myself all turned around lately and feeling a lot of pressure to get it together by the holidays but the reality is that I'm exactly where I should be according to the business plan that I put together when I decided to make sweaters. Thanks to a very big local order I'll end the year with the same amount of money that I started with and a few thousand dollars in inventory as well and that's better than I ever thought I would do. There is no way that I can get up to two pages quickly unless I compromise and make smaller, simple things that are no challenge for me and that I won't enjoy making. That's a job, not a hobby, and if I want a job I'll go get one in my field that guarantees that I'll get a regular paycheck that I can count on.

After a lot of soul searching over the past few days I've come to the conclusion that I'm not doing this retirement thing right. I never wanted a job and as much as it's nice to have more money we don't really need another income. We'll never be rich but we're comfortable and I have a great life. When I start to think like a business person all of my old professional standards kick in and failure is no longer an option and nothing but perfection will do. The whole point of having a hobby is to entertain yourself and stressing myself out over it is not entertaining me in the least. So, in the spirit of doing only what I want to and only making what I enjoy I spent all day yesterday ripping out a poncho that I don't think is good enough even though it wasted a week of my time. Retired people have all the time we need...

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Never giving up

So today if exactly one year since I joined Etsy, I've had 91 sales, and did a whole other slew of things :)

Karen's last post reminded me of when I first started. I had 2 sales in 2 months, and was pretty sure I was stupid for trying this thing.

I don't have any stores locally that will carry my work, I don't have transportation to go to any more than 2 craft fairs annually, I don't have a day job to look forward to quitting. All I have is my Etsy shops, and a teeny tiny bit of income from writing. And none of that helps my lifelong battle with depression any.

So the vast majority of people's ideas for making handmade a full time business won't work for me.

So why do I continue to work so hard for very little money? 

1) I have no choice, there is no other money to be had. 

 2) I have my daughter to think of. Maybe one day this will be big enough that I'm able to support my family again.

3) I keep remembering how fer this little business has come in the last year, and also remember that I love my stuff, and there has to be another out there who appreciates it too.

And that's how I keep my depression at bay!
Never give up, believe in yourself, you can do it!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Moments of Doubt

I'm going through another one of those phases when I really question whether or not this is a good idea. I get so many views but my sweaters are so expensive that I don't have much confidence that I can make the switch from brick and mortar sales into online ones. Things sit in my shop for months and months that would have sold in a week or 2 in a store. It's so hard not to give up on filling the shop and start taking things out to sell. Unfortunately that also means having no outlet at all in a few years because everyone retires eventually. I hate admitting defeat and giving up.

I think that it's the pre-holiday excitement over on Etsy that's getting to me. My plan all along was to forget about this holiday season and aim for 2012 when I have a respectable number of items but when everyone is making special marketing plans I start to feel like a slacker and under pressure to do what all of the bigger shops do. I know that it makes no sense for me to spend money on ads when my shop is so small but now I'm bouncing back and forth making and unmaking decisions all day long. Maybe I just need to stay away from the forums and all of the preparations for the big influx of customers that everyone else seems to expect and tune it all out for a while so that I stop feeling so pessimistic. Maybe all new business have these kinds of days and just have to push through it and see if it gets better.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How I Do Blog Ads

Yesterday, Karen asked me to tell how I do blog ads. So I figured I'd do a post on it.

First of all, the way I find blogs is probably not the way it should be done, but I'm a very, very poor woman, so I can only do free stuff, which generally isn't quite as effective as a well placed paid ad.

If you can do picture ads, do them! the best text ad will never be as good as a bad picture ad, in my opinion-I know I don't notice them!

Step 1: know the size of your ad. I use Project Wonderful for all of my blog ads. They have a few preset sizes, so this makes it a lot easier to design ads. You will need a good photo editing software for this (I use GIMP, which is, yep, you guessed it, free!)

Step 2: have a nice bright picture that showcases what you make. crop said picture to size (in Project Wonderful, if I'm off a little bit, it'll re-size it for me), then add text

You want your text to be large enough to see, covering a little part of the object you have photographed if you have to. Text should be a color that doesn't clash too much with the rest of the photo, but still stands out. You are also going for branding here.

Have an action word, like click, or buy now. This part's all about psychology.

On Project Wonderful, there is also hover text, text that pops up when you hover over the ad. This is also important. Even though the text itself is nothing special, the wording can make a difference.

Step 3: Choosing your blog. If your going through the blog itself, then you've already done this, but if your going through PW or something similar, you will need to choose which blog(s) you want your ad to run on. This depends on many factors, budget, size of the ad, and most importantly, your target market.

When I advertise my goth stuff, I advertise on blogs targeted to goths, when I advertise my soap savers, I pick a soap maker's blog.

Only doing the free ads, I can't afford to be picky, I do them all.

Step 4:  how long you want to run your ad-depends on your budget really. doing the free ads, I'm only allowed 2 days at a time, so have to constantly re-do ads. Generally, a person needs to see an ad several times before it clicks for them.

Here's the picture from one of my ads. I'm thinking about changing the font to something more frilly

Friday, September 9, 2011

Advertising on Blogs

I promised myself that I would learn about and start one new marketing task every month but I haven't started one for September yet. SEO will be an ongoing task but it doesn't take up enough time any more to give me an excuse to skip a month.

I'm still feeling very resistant to setting myself up on Facebook and twitter. Doing an unscientific poll of all of my friends and family that are over 40 and finding out that not one of them had ever even bothered to look at facebook was not encouraging at all and the last thing that I need is a new time sink on the internet.

Now I'm considering paying for an ad on a well-known plus size fashion blog but I have to learn all about it first. I get confused when I see a rate sheet that refers to text links but then can't find anything that looks like a simple text ad on their site and all I see are banner ads with pictures. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing yet.

Stephanie, can you tell us how you go about designing your ads and anything else that you know about how it all works?

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Starting to Not Hate Google

Stephanie's prayer to the gods of google might just work because now that my pages are slowly but surely getting crawled I'm getting some very good placement in my most targeted google search. Thanks to Oprah plus size sweater coats are popular this Fall and I get more hits on that keyword phrase than anything else. If I run a search today on "plus size sweater coat" I have one item on page one and another on page 2. I have a pretty good idea now of why the third one is buried. If I do the search on the plural "plus size sweater coats" I get one on page one and one on page 3 but unfortunately they're the same coat but one is on Zibbet and the other on Etsy. Still - I BEAT Lane Bryant and Roamans!

Oh yeah - I listed a new item this week. I love this one because it's casual and warm.

Plus Size Crop Sweater 2X

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding advertising that works....

While Karen's been looking into SEO, I've been on my continuous hunt for advertising.

I'm keeping them for now, but the usual route of advertising for a small business (and even for a lot of larger businesses), Twitter and Facebook, are not working for me. But I think it's partially because I do not go around following everybody and anybody, which I refuse to do.

So I've been doing small, inexpensive targeted ads. Things like advertising goth stuff on goth sites, soap savers on soap makers blogs, etc. So far, I'm not even getting many clicks.

I'm thinking maybe the targeted advertising isn't working because my ads are not so good. A high possibility, as I'm not a marketer by any means.

Experiment #1: Make new, brighter ads with words on them instead of just words that pop up when you run your mouse across them. Run on the same blogs as before to gauge the effectiveness of new, brighter ads.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Etsy Relevancy and Google SEO

I've spent the last several days learning about SEO for google and the concepts are the same but google focuses much more on our titles and descriptions than it does on our tags. This presents a problem for me. In order to be the most relevant on Etsy I have to use the word "women" near the front of every title because they lump genders and ages together and that's not very google-friendly and titles like that don't do well when you look at them in the keyword tool. It's particularly bad for plus size items since using women is redundant in that case. Plus size is only used to describe women's clothes so very few people use it in a search. The way that I'm going to get around this is that I've opened a second shop on Zibbet that will only carry plus size sweaters. I don't have many if any expectations for sales there because it's so tiny and has relatively little traffic but there I can optimize the shop however I want to for google. Plus size sweater coats and variations on that phrase are the keywords that get me the most hits (along with wool blankets). The shop will be pretty empty for a while because I only have 5 plus size items right now but I'm working on another and plan to do all of them in plus sizes in the future unless I only have enough of a particular yarn for a smaller size.

I'm still finding my way around Zibbet but so far I really like the layout and the way that I can customize the colors of my shop. One of the best things is that I get to change my shop name to the one that I want instead of the one that I have on Etsy. I'm still getting set up and working on my titles and descriptions there but it shouldn't take very long. Another thing that I've discovered is that google seems to crawl Zibbet much more frequently than it does Etsy which makes testing my changes much easier. I don't know how spiders decide which parts of a large site to crawl and when but maybe it has something to do with the size.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Easy Etsy Relevancy

Looking for a fast and easy way to be relevant on Etsy?

This might not get you to page 1 of search, but it will help some, and is a great start. (and not everyone can be on pg 1 anyway)

Take a look at your shop in gallery mode. You notice that only a little bit of the title shows that way.

Now read those little bits of titles. Do they say what your product is???

If not, you need to make sure that your titles say what the item is in gallery mode.

Easy peasy.

This is a good start to SEO too. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Changes: Calm Down Take A Deep Breath- You're Still in Control

I see so many people freaking out about having to do this or that, all the little things necessary to run a micro business.

While I understand being apprehensive a bit, (especially when all of your income comes from the business), there is no need to be in terror over it. Unless of course you have been running a profitable business for several years and haven't paid taxes, in which case, your screwed.

Has your venue changed (like etsy's recent switch to relevancy as a default)? Then you need to change with it.

Have your sales dropped? maybe you need to find better promotion, or switch up what you are doing.

You need to have a little bit of fluidity in business, because things change- and the internet changes the fastest.

I've seen brick and mortar stores move to stay in business because a neighbor who brought them business moved for some reason.

You might have to add more streams of income, or new product lines, or work an extra hour a day.

But you are still in control of your business, even if it feels out of control.

So take a deep breath, calm down, and analyze what it is you need to do to stay, or become, successful.

Being a business owner is not easy, nothing worth having is.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

SEO for Major Search Engines

So both Stephanie and I found that it's not terribly hard to figure out how to be relevant on Etsy if you're willing to do the work of researching your categories and items to see how things work there. I check mine every day to make sure that they're still in the number one spot in case someone has figured out something that I might have missed. From looking at the titles that I see my guess is that most people haven't even started to change their listings yet and we might see different results when that happens.

Now I've moved on to getting my shop in shape so that I get found by search engines like google. This part is a lot harder because you have to consider your entire shop in context with your items and come up with keywords that make sense for the part of the shop that you put them in. You also don't get the instant gratification of being able to test each change in isolation as you make it. Not repeating content is really difficult for me because I have to give the measurements of both the item and the mannequin. Like it or not I have to give up my nice neat orderly boilerplate and mix them all up in different orders.

So why am I not confused and terrified? It's because I finally found the perfect resource for solid and accurate information. Misinformation about SEO runs rampant in the Etsy forums and much of it contradicts the rest. (See my SEO Rant for more angst on the subject.) Every now and then SEOWebDesign who is the one person that really seems know what she'd doing there pops into a thread to correct the worst of it and she also starts great threads that are jam packed with SEO information. I'm always impressed not only by her accuracy but by her demeanor. You can always tell a pro by the way that they handle confrontational know-it-alls. They never get angry or upset or feel the need to start playing dueling credentials because they're confident in what they do and it shows.

She offers a guidebook for sale on Etsy for less than $10 that takes you through it from beginning to end. Whereas most resources that I find do a great job of telling you what to do they rarely get into the technical details of how to do it. It's not so technical as to be over the heads of most people but it has all of the information that a geek like me needs to feel like I'm on solid ground. For example, I was using the keyword tool all wrong and one of her tips resulted in changing all of my major keywords to more realistic and useful ones. I've started my SEO all over again because now I understand so many things that I hadn't before. If you're trying to figure this all out and you only want to do it once I can't recommend strongly enough that you buy this guide and get moving so that you're done in plenty of time for the holidays. Just click on the image below to get your own copy. It will be the best SEO investment that you ever made.

Great SEO Guide

The other reason that you should buy it is because I'm not giving up any of the details here. It's not because I'm selfish but now everything good that I know came from her guide so you have to go pay for it to find out for yourself :).

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Joy, Joy: Testing Relevancy When You Have 200+ Listings-Relevancy is working

So, Etsy recently decided to make it so that relevancy search is default, and as Karen said before, the forums are all up in arms over it.

As someone who can't throw 20¢ at renewing often, I decided to try to get into Google search from the get go, so I don't really have all that much to do in my shop for relevancy.

But I do currently have 161 listings in Stephanie Makes All, 52 listings in One Stitch, and 20 listings in the soon to be closed (at least for now) Stephanie Re-Makes All to test and tweak a little.

Joy, Joy, I feel for the sellers with even more listings who just threw money at renewing, I really do.

The good news is that in One Stitch, I must have done something right, because I only have 3 fingerless glove patterns there right now, and those 3 patterns are spread out between the first 3 pages of the fingerless glove pattern search. And I have started selling several of the one that is on the first page!

I still haven't sold anything in Stephanie Makes All since the change, but I'm coming up pretty high in some searches, so I believe it's only a matter of time :)

Happy Selling!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm So Relevant!

All of this SEO work really paid off because now I'm in the #1 spot of every one of my targeted searches. My views have quadrupled and I sold something that had been sitting there for ages. I even make the first row or page of the more general searches. I'm so happy about this. I've tuned up my descriptions for google and all I have left is to figure out if my category and subcategories are considered to be the first 3 and most important tags to google or the first 3 of the 13 that I get to fill in. I asked a question on Market My Shop and I'll post it here when he has time to answer me.

I also want to show off my latest sweater of course.

Mostly Mohair Sweater Coat

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at