Friday, February 28, 2014

Making a Beautiful Mess of Our Own

Sometimes change happens slowly and other times it gets in your face and it's just right there....right now!!

My daughter and son-in-law have been looking for a new apartment for months and one became available this past weekend. They put in their application and were accepted almost immediately. Moving day is this Saturday.

A rain storm is coming in this week. It's supposed to be a good one...which is great because we really need the rain. My sister reminded me that moving in the rain is good luck. We have done it a couple of times! But it won't be raining on their moving parade this weekend. They will be staying nice and dry in their stairwell because their new address is right down stairs!


Amongst the flurry of packing is the opportunity to do a few projects that have been on their wish list. Heather and Eddie are great thrift store shoppers. They have found some great pieces of furniture for their small living space. A dull colored dresser is getting a face lift in my garage this week.

Inspired by a project from A Beautiful Mess, Heather purchased a pint of Sail the Seas by Valspar. There is nothing like some happy colors to bright up a home!! With paint brushes in hand we quickly added the first coat of paint before dinner.



We've been dodging the rain for the last couple of days so the bit of sunshine yesterday was welcome. I have a mind that comes up with crazy problem solving ideas. I hung the old hardware on tomato cages in my garden so I could give them a fresh coat of silver paint. Silly as this looks, it worked great!!




I never did get a chance to see the cabinet all put together but all the parts of it looks awesome!!


Inspiration brings on more inspiration!! When we were at the paint store we grabbed some swatches of other happy paint colors so we can try out this project too!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Etsy Science and SEO: Word Weaving

In part one and part two of this series on Etsy Science and SEO we looked at how important keywords are, and the way they are placed in your title, description and tags can improve the success of your shop. Today we're going to look at some components of our shop appearance that we may easily overlook but can become vital keys to getting found on Google. Our Shop Title, Shop Announcement and Shop Sections can be key worded too. So let's learn how to do some more word weaving.


Your Shop Title is different from your Shop Name. It is an title bar that can be personalized with 54 characters. Without the knowledge of the power of this small area of your shop you might be tempted to repeat your shop name or put something cute and non-signification here. 


I suggest that you string together some of the keywords that most identify your shop. Check out the way this shop, this shop and this shop effectively use keywords in their title to tell you what they are all about.

The next area of importance is your Shop Announcement box. We learned how to weave the words from our Item Title into our Item Description last week. Using this same technique, you want to weave your Shop Title keywords into the first 2 lines of your Announcement. The difference here is that you can have words strung together without building a paragraph to read.


One other area you need to look at is the Sections. If you have dozens to hundreds of items in your shop, organizing them into sections can help your customers find what they are looking for. It is important for you to use those same keywords here as well.  This can get a little tricky because are limited to the length of your words.


I mentioned in our first week that "getting found on Etsy and getting found on Google (or other search engines) are different....and the same. The method for each is to help your customers find you." Matching your Item Title, Item Description and Tagging keywords help you get found on Etsy. Matching your Shop Title, Shop Announcement and Shop Section keywords help you get found on Google.

When I started doing research for this training three weeks ago I was not ranking well on Google. I took my own advice and moved some keywords around so they would work more efficiently for me. To my surprise and delight, today I Googled the phrase "personalized wedding clutches" and my shop now shows up on the first page of that search!! This is definite proof to me that using this technique works!!


You'll see that my Shop Title shows up in purple and my Shop Announcement echoes the same words below. I believe that is one of the main reasons my ranking is high on the search.

With all of this said, keywords are not the only keys to getting found on Etsy and Google. Etsy likes it when you are active in your shop. Google likes it when you are active on the web. Like I said before...this SEO thing is a big nut to crack. There is a lot to it and we'll look at how our activity can increases our success too.  



Monday, February 24, 2014

Personalized Wedding Gifts from Mama Bleu Designs

I love how the world of Etsy allows me to be exposed to a global community. I never know who is going to contact me and from what part of the world they are from.

Recently I collaborated with Angela Marie Events and I had the best time creating things for a staged event that was professionally photographed and will be published in some media form later this year.  I will be sharing more with you about this later.

This whole experience got my idea wheels turning and I started creating a whole new line for Mama Bleu Designs. They are hand painted and free-motion stitched hoop art!! Some are ready-to-ship and others are custom made. I am especially excited about these personalized wedding gifts!!

I'm having so much fun with these!!!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/180366777/pink-embroidery-hoop-art-personalized?ref=shop_home_active_6

https://www.etsy.com/listing/180443334/personalized-wedding-gift-embroidered?ref=shop_home_active_3

https://www.etsy.com/listing/180452628/wedding-wedding-table-decor-unique-place?ref=shop_home_active_1

https://www.etsy.com/listing/180463163/table-place-card-hoop-art-table-decor?ref=shop_home_active_2

Friday, February 21, 2014

Etsy Science and SEO: Building Successful Shop Listing

As I mentioned in part one of Etsy Science and SEO , keywords and key phrases are an essential part of the SEO process for Google and Etsy searches. So today I'm going to do my best to help you build a successful shop listing.


BUILDING KEYWORD PHRASES

This is something I have struggled with for a long time. And to tell you the truth, until I started to dig into it further for this training, I didn't completely understand it. I'm hoping to help you get past the fundamentals of this and get you to the point where it starts to sink in and make sense.

Let's start by playing the role of a consumer who is looking to buy a car. You sit down at your computer and type some words in the Google search box to help you with your shopping. Think about this. Would you simply type in "CAR"? Probably not. You'd probably be more specific with a Year and Model and Color. New or Used. You might type in "Used Car" or "Blue 2010 Honda Accord".

Now translate this into keywords. The words CAR or USED CAR have a lot of competition because the terms are so broad and getting to the top of those search lists would be extremely tough. And really, because those terms are so vague, I don't think that getting high ranking for those keywords would be as valuable as something more specific. When people are shopping for a car, they would likely use more specific words and phrases to describe exactly what they hope to find.

With Etsy it is the same way. Perhaps there are some people who are going to type in one word and hope to find something. But realistically, they usually have something more specific in mind and type in phrases rather than single words.

So let's translate this over to your Etsy shop. Consider one of your shop items and identify the MAIN keyword for it. Then add 1-3 of the other keywords that you identified in the exercise "stepping into your customer's shoes" from my previous post. By doing this you are narrowing your competition and helping your customers find you!

Using the example above, the main keyword may not be "car". It may need to be "Honda". That narrows the choices right there! Adding 1-3 words around that to describe the car more clearly will narrow the competition even more.

With your keyword phrase ready.....let's start building!

YOUR LISTING TITLE

In everything I've read so far, I think the jury is out as to whether you should keep your Listing Title short and to the point or if you should use as many of the 140 characters as you can. I have started experimenting with this to see if it really makes any difference. No matter how many words you decide to use in your Title, it is definitely important to put your focus on the FIRST 3-4 words. They are the FOUNDATION of your listing and where you want your keyword phrase to be!!

YOUR LISTING DESCRIPTION

Google loves repetition so it is important to scatter your foundation keywords from your Title into the first 2 lines of your item description. It is tempting to just repeat the title at that beginning of the paragraph but it is not recommended. Avoid stuffing the words into the two lines just to get them there. Google prefers that you write something that helps the customer understand your item. This will take some time but it's definitely worth it!!

Here is an example of a Listing Title:

Black Personalized Wedding Clutch, Bridesmaid Gift, Black and White Wedding, Made to Order

And the first couple of lines in the Listing Description:

With black and white trending as popular wedding colors for 2014, this simple personalized clutch is the perfect bridesmaid gift. 
 
YOUR LISTING TAGS

Even though the 13 item tags on you Etsy shop listing are not used by Google it is still important to place your keywords there as well. Each tag is limited in length so you can't stuff all 3 or 4 words together. Google doesn't like word stuffing and neither does Etsy. It is likely that you will have to break up your foundation keyword phrase into one or two word tags. That's okay. They will still work.


BENEFITS OF KEYWORDING

Shortly after you add a new listing or adjust an existing listing using these tips, you will likely see your item appear on one of the first 3 pages of the search results. I appreciate that with Etsy we don't have to wait long to see if our work has paid off.

However, the process takes much longer with Google and there are many other factors that help you increase your rankings there. These factors are outside of what happens on Etsy and I'll cover that in another Etsy Science session.















Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flowers + Cupcakes = Party

The second weekend of February was all about celebrating Valentines Day and my daughter's birthday. Some flowers and a dozen mini cupcakes turned out family meal into a party!




My husband was so sweet to bring home a huge bouquet of flowers for me on Friday. Instead of gathering them all into one big vase I decided to break the large bouquet into smaller arrangements. That way I could enjoy these flowers all over the room rather than just at the center of our table!




A couple of years ago I picked up this fun little cake plate music box. My family thinks it's silly but I think it's pretty fun. Wind it up, flip the on switch and the cake plate twirls and plays Happy Birthday!!




If it's your birthday....awesome! If it's not....pretend it is! Blow out the candle and make a wish! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Playful Patches



My grandson plays hard just like his daddy did at his age.  Playing hard means scrapes and bruises and worn knees of all his little pairs of pants. Instead of putting a regular patch over the holes I thought I'd have a little bit of fun with them!

I started out by ironing a patch over the hole and chose pink because the torn opening reminded me of a mouth.  Robots are one of Micah's favorite things right now so I did some free-motion stitching around the patch to resemble a little robot head.....with a big smile!




Micah calls these his "comfy cozy" pants and I didn't want to put a stiff patch on the torn knee of his sweats. Taking the sleeve of an old t-shirt, I cut a double layer of circles to free-motion stitch over the opening. Since t-ball practice started last week Micah is all about baseball right now. Turning the circle patch into a baseball with some red thread was easy and made another playful patch for my mending project.






Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Heart Garland



My grand daughter loves to paint with watercolors and when I noticed that I had collected a large pile of her little masterpieces, I thought it would be fun to do something with them. The idea came to me when I collaborated on a project with my son over the weekend. He had cut out paper shapes to match the graphics on a t-shirt he designed. My job was to stitch the shapes together into paper garlands for his shop window.

I was inspired and I had some pretty watercolor art from Kyla's collection. Being Valentines month I just had to cut out loads of hearts!




When Kyla arrived at my home Tuesday morning and saw the garland taped to the wall in my entry hall she said, "you have Happy Hearts grama"!

This project is so easy!

Paper Shapes + Sewing Machine Stitching = Happy Heart Garlands for your home!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Etsy Science and SEO: Keywords

Whenever I think about SEO and getting found on Etsy, my head starts to spin. This topic is a huge nut to crack because it is always changing and evolving. I am often asked to explain how it works and how we can use it to improve our shop visibility on Etsy. I don't claim to be an expert at any of this by any means but I'll do my best to slice it up into manageable bites. In fact, I may need to do a series on this because the subject is so broad.

According to a training website that I recently logged many hours on, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is "the process of making improvements on and off your website in order to gain more exposure in search engine results. And more exposure in search engine results will ultimately lead to more visitors finding you for the right reasons and going to your website. At the heart of it all, search engines are just trying to find and understand all the content out there on the Internet, and then quickly deliver relevant and authoritative results based on any phrase that a user might be searching for."

First, let me say that getting found on Etsy and getting found on Google (or other search engines) are different....and the same. The method for each is to help your customers find you.

In fact, Google's SEO Starter Guide states "we'd like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site. They're the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking.... may not deliver the desired results. Search engine optimization is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines."

I want to point out to you that Etsy is doing a great job of getting high page rankings on Google in searches for the various markets represented on their website. Since they are helping people find Etsy, then we need to do what we can to help people find our shop items on Etsy. Our keywords will help us do that. 



KEYWORDS

Some of you might be asking why keywords are so important. The simplest way I can explain it is that Google uses these words to connect people to your site and Etsy uses these words to connect people to your shop items.

I just watched several trainings on lynda.com about using SEO keywords to get high ranking on Google searches. Although this information is valuable, it is also very complicated. It's certainly not something that we can digest in one sitting. I encourage you to watch all of the trainings on their site concerning this topic if you really want to understand how it all works. I also encourage you to join the Etsy Relevancy, SEO and Stats Team because they post lots of valuable information for shop owners.

Also, if you are seeking out specific info about keywords, you can find out more on my blog posts Let's Get Found and Golden Key Words.

With that said, I believe researching SEO keywords on Google (or other word search sites) is vital, but I also think that often it is up to YOU to try out some of your own keywords. Think about it. What is the identity of your shop.....of your products? What keywords describe what you offer? Let's look at other ways that can help you identify some of those words.


CLUES IN YOUR SHOP STATS

If you already have a shop on Etsy you can view your shop stats and gather some useful information there. The two top boxes are about traffic sources (which I will analyze for you on another blog post) and there is a larger box below that shows a list of keywords. These are words that people used to find your shop. In other words, they are strong keywords for you! Congratulations! Well done!!

You will notice that there are 3 categories of keywords in this box: Etsy, Google and other. The Etsy list refers to the words or phrases that people used once they were on the Etsy site. The other words refer to those that were used outside of Etsy....from a search engine site like Google.


STEP INTO YOUR CUSTOMER'S SHOES

This is where you need to ask yourself about WHO your customer is and WHAT you have to offer them. What words will link their search query to your shop items?


Put yourself in your customer's shoes. How can you help them find you? Brainstorm from THEIR perspective.

Look at one of your shop listings and write down everything that describes it.

What is it: small purse, wristlet, large wallet, cell phone bag, small purse with strap, large wallet
Color(s): natural color, beige, neutral linen, pink, yellow, salmon, ombre
Description & Style: polkadot, dotted, personalized, monogram, initial letter, circle print
Occasion: wedding, prom, bridal shower, 
Who it is for: women, hostess, teacher, bridesmaid, flower girl, mom, babysitter, grama


Brainstorm on your own. Ask others to give you their feedback on descriptive words. Then try them out. See how they work. Believe it or not, successful shop owners are always looking for ways to improve the performance of their keywords. They keep the words that are working for them, try new combinations of poorly performing words and identify new words to try.

When looking for new keywords sometimes you just need to experiment with them and see how they work. Your shop stats and your sales will tell you just how well they are working. It takes a while for the changes to be found by Etsy and Google. It takes time before you see the full result. 

It's a constant journey!!


LOOK AT WHAT'S TRENDING

I wrote a post earlier this year about Trends for 2014. During the first couple of years as an Etsy shop owner I ignored trends. I didn't think they were important. I didn't make the time to stay informed. And, I thought they would take me away from my style.... my aesthetic. My thinking was wrong in that respect. Being influenced by trends helps you stay in touch with your customer. It might be a color. It might be a design element. It might be a style.

What do trends have to do with keywords? Using those colors or design and style descriptions as keywords in your shop (if they are appropriate for you item) may be to your benefit!


CHANGE THINGS UP

Once you identify strong keywords and word combinations it may be tempting to use the same line up of words on all of your similar listings. By doing that, you will be limiting your reach to the marketplace.

A way you can change things up is by rearranging the order of your words and varying your descriptive language. This allows more people to find your item

For example:
Small Polkadot Purse with Initial
Initial Purse with Polkadots
Pink Polkadot Purse

Each of these describe the same item!

Since my strongest market at Mama Bleu Designs is to brides I use a lot of keywords targeting those customers. But, there are many other words that I experimented with this past year that helped me find other customer groups who identify with my items too. It may take some "outside the box" thinking, but it is worth it.


In summary, keywords are valuable for Etsy shop page rankings. They are used to filter through all the shops that are featuring similar items and help your customers find YOU. In another blog article I wrote about Defining Etsy Relevancy, I explain how to use those keywords once you have identified them.

But.......the success of your shop is not completely wrapped in a nice package of well chosen keywords! More about that in part 2 of Etsy Science + SEO






Monday, February 10, 2014

The Art of Journaling: Morning Pages

Every once in awhile I'll take a break from my work and walk the 3 blocks to our local library. Sometimes I peruse the shelves for a certain topic and other times I just browse to see what catches my eye. What's funny is that both of those things happened at the same time this past week. I was looking for The Artist's Way and what caught my eye was The Sound of Paper. They were both on the same shelf. It never occurred to me to notice that they were both by the same author!!

I checked out the books and strolled home.

That night I picked up The Sound of Paper and started reading. I was enthralled with her encouragement to "undertake" 3 creative tools: Morning Pages, Artist Dates and Walks. I thought yah, yah.....like I have time to do all that.

A couple of nights later I started reading The Artist's Way and guess what (that's when I noticed that the books were by the same author).....she mentions it again. You don't need to tell me twice!  Well, I guess she kinda did.

http://www.pinterest.com/mamableudesigns/heart/


What are Morning Pages? Author Julie Cameron describes them like this:

~ Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page and then do three more pages tomorrow. ~


I've been an on-again off-again journaler most of my adult life. My latest journal is a tangle of chapters on things to do, inspirations, doodles, blog ideas, and daily thoughts. In response to Julie's encouragement, I purchased a journal JUST for my Morning Pages.

Good habit are sometimes just as hard to start as bad habits are to break. I am still working on being consistent with this morning practice. It's not that making the time is hard. It's the distractions that get me side tracked.

www.mamableu.com

Like meeting the morning sun streaming through my living room windows that make me feel good about starting a new day. That is what my Morning Pages are about. I love how Emily Freeman puts it.

~ If prayer is a deep breath in, the Morning Page is a cleansing breath out. ~

Yes!!!




Friday, February 7, 2014

Creative Inheritance

The creative spirit that brews in me every day, that grabs my attention when I wake and keeps me up late into the evening, is an inheritance that I value. I know that we all have the capacity to create.  I love how Emily Freeman lays this out so beautifully in her book - A Million Little Ways. We each do it every day whether we're aware of it or not. But for some of us it is a way of life.

I took it for granted. I thought every little girl was taught to sew and knit and create scrapbooks out of bound newsprint pads. It didn't occur to me that while I was learning to add embroidery stitches to my jeans, my friends were learning to play the piano or pitch a soft ball. I didn't know that I was being uniquely equipped for a creative lifestyle.


http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamableudesigns

I realized just last week that there is so much about my upbringing that is unique. People chuckle a bit when they find out that I was born and raised in this little town I still call home. It only takes me 20 minutes to walk from my front door to the house that I grew up in.

The center of town used to be filled with businesses that met every need of our family. It was a Saturday ritual for me to walk into town with my sister Julie. Even though we loved getting our bag of candy and visiting my grandma at the Fashionette, our ultimate goal was to spend the afternoon at Garland's Fabric store. Time would easily slip by as we poured over the pages of every pattern book and walk up and down the rows and rows of fabrics. 

Those memories, and the years that I've spent sitting at a humming sewing machine, are woven into every stitch I make to create the things for Mama Bleu Designs.

I know, from the stories she used to tell me, that sewing and crafting was a way for my mom to keep her sanity while raising 6 kids. She made a few outfits for us but mostly she made things for our home to make it beautiful. I wonder sometimes if she really knew how much she taught me from her example.


http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamableudesigns

Time and time again a friend will remind me that what I do, what I know about art and crafting, is not the norm for most people. The things that are easy for me, like sewing on a button, is a mystery for some people. I think of a doctor who has gone to years of medical school to learn their skill. I'm sure that stitching up a wound is something they would (for the most part) consider "easy".

I am becoming more aware that the gift I have is unique and precious. It is a gift that keeps on giving....from me, through me and to me. This gift that my mom started sharing with me so many years ago is still giving, even though she is no longer here to enjoy it with me. I am blessed! I am thankful! I am a gift receiver and I'm so very grateful that this gift has taken root in my children and is taking root in my grand children!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamableudesigns

http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamableudesigns

I wish my mom was here to see what her gift to me has yielded!