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!

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