Friday, August 31, 2012

Blogging Tips and Post Ideas for Artists

In a previous post I discussed the importance of having a blog for your online shop or business. But having a blog is not enough; you actually have to post to your blog regularly to retain the attention of your audience. But writing for the sake of having new content can actually work against you. If a reader feels that your blog is frivolous or unprofessional, they will easily be turned away.

Limit the Personal Posts

While your blog IS about you, the focus should remain on your shop or business. That means you should limit the posts relating to your personal life, family and pets. The harsh truth is that customers may not be all that interested in your personal life. You don’t have to avoid the topic completely. Instead seek to find a good balance.
Think for a moment, do you care if Etsy’s graphic designer got a new puppy? Or are you more interested in how your shop's new user interface will influence your sales? Do you care that the Artfire CEO’s grandson just learned to walk, or are you more interested in their new advertising campaign that will promote your shop to a wider market (one can hope)

Avoid ‘Spammy’ Marketing Posts

People hate the feeling of being overly marketed to. HOW you market will make all the difference. If I come across a blog with nothing but ‘buy this’ or ‘purchase that’ I will leave in a hurry, and maybe even un-follow. If your blog is all about making that sale, readers are not likely to turn in to fans or customers.

So what CAN you blog about?

You can certainly blog about your items, as long as the posts are engaging, with the marketing aspect being more subtle. You have to connect with your readers on a level that captures their attention and gains their confidence and trust before attempting to turn them into a buyer.

Picture this scenario: You are introduced to a stranger as a person who is really into fashion
Stranger 1: “Hi my name is so-and-so, buy my beautiful handmade piece of art”
Stranger 2: “Did you know that the color ‘x’ is trending for this fall? You don’t even have to go all out to look fashionable. You can turn your simple work outfit of slacks and shirt into a fashion statement by accessorizing with simple yet colorful add-ons. You can add a pop of color by wearing ‘x’ colored shoes, or perhaps a piece of jewelry with an ‘x’ color focal stone like this ring on my hand. I actually handcraft and sell these. You can view them in my shop (hand over business card)

Now these are both exaggerated scenarios, but we frequently see these approaches in advertising. Stranger #1 likely rubbed you the wrong way, earning unspoken thoughts of ‘go away’ while Stranger #2 likely caught your interest enough to make your visit their online shop.

The second stranger evoked the response you should aim for in your blog posts. If you engage your audience with your post, you can capture their interest, and then add your subtle marketing pitch. Your reader will be fascinated rather than turned off by your post and therefore be interested in what you have to share. This is more likely to result in the mouse-click into your shop

Post Ideas to Capture the Readers Interest:

(with subtle marketing undertones)

Fashion Tips and Trends
This is a very useful and reusable topic for jewelry and clothing sellers. Buyers are always looking for fashion tips and trending themes. Keep your blog posts up-to-date with the latest styles, and link an example from your shop after the post

DIY posts loosely related to your product
Readers love Do It Yourself posts. So why not show your reader how to create or do something loosely related to your product, and of course link your item after the post. If you sell themed party invitations, create a post showing how to do a themed kid's birthday party. And if you sell spices, perhaps do series of posts on interesting ways to use your spices

Tutorials showing your product in action
If you sell art-related supplies, perhaps show a tutorial on how to make a bracelet or necklace. At the end of the tutorial you can include a well-placed link guiding the readers to your shop to purchase the supplies used in the tutorial. Even craftier would be including product links when each item comes up within the tutorial. So when you introduce your ‘soft sterling silver wire’ the words link to the product in your shop

A look into YOUR process
If your methods are special or unique, give the reader a look into process. Not everyone knows what a glass cutting station looks like, nor how a glass kiln operates. Give your reader a look into your studio setup, and the work you go through on a regular basis. These are fascinating to read about and will make your art more realistic to the reader. And of course link a shop section or item at the end, to give your reader a look at the products created by your process

The story behind your product
Many products have a story to tell. This can range from what inspired the product, how they came about, or a story that the actual item has to tell. You capture the readers interest by bringing the product to life before their eyes. With the story complete they will want to see the product, and hopefully also buy the product. This idea is illustrated beautifully by Katie from Kater’s Acres in her post featuring her new steampunk pet rocks. She spins a tale of fantasy how Parker found an old abandoned… (don’t let me spoil the story, click HERE to read)

Featured Item Set or Product Theme
Do you have a theme to your products? For example, are you rolling out a new line of products inspired by an overall color or season? If so, tell the story and link a number of your products. If done correctly, say once a month, this is a fun way to capture readers’ attention and introduce your new line at the same time. Fragrence of the Month by D’lights By Dorene is a perfect illustration of this idea. Strawberries, my favorite, were featured as June's Fragrance of the Month. In this post she discusses a bit of shop history, strawberries, and how it inspired a number of new items in her shop. And of course the post is dotted with a few well placed item images giving the reader a chance to view and purchase a strawberry scented candle.

Sales and Shop Discounts
This can be a rather touchy topic. Sales may come across as spammy and 'buy this' for readers unfamiliar with your shop, but a welcome concept to potential buyers and past customers. I recommend limiting the sale related posts to the holiday season, and instead sharing discount information with your mailing list via your shop newsletter. Remember, a buyer needs to feel that they 'earned' something with your sale, and so this cannot be a frequent occurence. If a buyer has to WORK for a discount, they are more likely to appreciate it. (I will discuss this concept down the line)

You knew this one was coming, but there is a reason I left this post for last. Giveaways tend to generate traffic, but not neccessarily the type of traffic that you WANT. Giveaways tend to atract freebie-hunters and internet browsers looking to get 'something for nothing'. Yes they will follow your blog, heart your shop, even join your newsletter; but they are likely doing this for the sake of entering your contest and may never glance at your shop again. On the off-chance that you do find a true customer with this method, giveaways can be entertained once every now and then. If your readers get acustomed to seeing 'free' they will be discouraged for spending money on your shop. After all, why pay for something if you can wait to get it free?

Now these were just some examples that I could think of for creating quality posts to interest your readers. Do not limit your posts to the above, and be sure to mix and match ideas. Remember, NOT every post has to have a sales pitch. You are looking to build a following of interested fans after all. Do you have additional ideas for creating captivating blog posts? If so I (and other readers) would love to read about them, so leave a comment below. Please include your niche/what you sell, and your advice for artists in your field.

This post was brought to you by Leah from MagicByLeah
MagicByLeah is a place where fantasy and magic come to life in polymer clay.
If you'd like to read more about Leah visit her website:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Featured Shop - Chanelled Creations -

My name is Ana Goncalves originally from Portugal (born in Lisbon) Have been living in the UK for 21 years now. I have always been very expressive since a young age whether it be through writing, dancing, acting, painting, or crafting and believe that it is the gateway to the soul. I have always been very in tune with my feelings through creativity, and it is here where I can see the power of it and how much of a difference it makes.
Rainbow Art Print Eco Friendly Blank Greeting Card  - 'Believe'

Chanelled Creations was born out of my need to share and empower others through the creations that come through the art medium in a positive light. Creativity has always been very important because it is one of the tools that I use to express how I feel inside and get clarification, and understanding through direct experience. Being able to tap into how I am feeling and expressing it through Art is one of the ways in which I can enjoy the process even more because of it's meaning on the path of self awareness.

The shop's name came to me almost automatically one day, and without giving it any thought. As it came to me, I just knew that it was the right name for the shop. It is about expressing and sharing meaningful creations from the heart with purpose and intent.

My shop has a mixture of Abstract and Classic original paintings, ACEO's, Bookmarks, Greeting Cards and Prints infused with loving energy inspired by life, reflections and nature.

My work reflects a great part of who I am, and how I connect and feel about life. I am inspired by life, self awareness, feelings, and reflections through daily experiences. I am also inspired by nature and animals, which bring peace and clarity in every day presence and always bring me joy.

 Nature Photo Inspirational Quote - 8x10 Fine Art Photography, Flowers Home Decor

With creativity comes my life long commitment and enthusiasm to help others, and in that my creations are a gift to people. Currently I am a Holistic Counselor and Coach and help people on a one to one basis, as well as do voluntary work and help others when needed in a mixture of fields.

I feel that we are Artists at heart in whatever we do from being a Teacher, to a Cross Stitcher or a stay at home mom, we are constantly creating and designing ourselves around what we are and what we do, in turn creating our own very master piece of life. I believe by creating we are always helping and healing ourselves and others, and through sharing we can make the world a more empowering and positive place.

Thank you for the opportunity, I really appreciate it and wish you all an abundant and joyful journey.

Feel free to visit my shop:

I blog here:

I am also on Facebook:

Interact with me on Twitter:



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Birthstone - Peridot

Last month we featured July and its stone ruby.  The next month is August, and we will feature its stone!

Peridot is the August birthstone. This green gemstone is believed to help with nightmares, bring prosperity, fertility and healing. Peridot was once called the "gem of the sun" in ancient times.

Peridot stone

Peridot is actually a variety of the mineral olivine.  Good quality peridot looks like a delicious green apple. The best peridot comes from Italy and has a rich olive color. Peridot from America is a light yellow green color.

Peridot is a unique gem in that it is formed in volcanic fire. The best source of peridot is in America on the San Carlos Native American Reservation. Peridot was once known as chrysolite in ancient times. Peridot comes in only one color, green. This is unusual as most gemstones come in at least a few colors. Top quality peridot should have no inclusions even under magnification.

Now for some finds on Etsy:
Peridot pearl bracelet
Peridot necklace
Parker with Peridot birthstone
Peridot watch band handmade

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Blogging is Good for Your Online Business

Used to be, you would build a shop, fill it with art, and the people would come. Not anymore
The world of commerce and of buying art is very different from back in the day. We are no longer limited to our small location and locally known artists. An artist is competing with a much larger market these days. Not only do we compete with local and international artists, we even compete with forgers who undersell the real artists with their cheap knockoffs.
So how can you possibly stand apart?

With a blog of course! If you sell art online, then it should seem natural to compliment your online shop with an online blog. I’m talking about an Etsy, Artfire, or even self-hosted shop.
So you wonder, how can ‘wasting’ a few hours writing blog posts possibly help your shop? I have thought of just a few good reasons, and would love to hear any additional ones in the comments below

1 – The Total Buyer Experience

If a customer walks in shop they won’t necessarily purchase artwork right away. They will likely browse your selection, and maybe even pick up a few pieces for closer examination. Assuming you are the gracious host, they will communicate with you about your art and process, and maybe even about topics that are unrelated to your shop but rather family and life in general. In this communication you have a unique opportunity to show them who YOU are, as an artist, and as a person. When they finally decide to make a purchase they are buying YOUR art after having come to know you on a somewhat personal level.

A blog replicates this experience for the potential customer. If your customer browses your online shop, all they see are photos, hopefully good photos, but still not quite the personal experience. They don’t always know or understand the work that went into the artwork, the passion of the artist, or the person behind the multi-letter URL.

If you have a related blog, then you get a chance to post about the topics you may discuss with your customer in a physical setting. You can blog about your passion, your inspirations, and about what drives your art in general. You can blog about your process, give the reader a tour of your shop, and maybe even show a tutorial (unless your process is secret). You can also share your personal stories as you see fit.

2 – Communication with Buyers

A blog provides you with a means to communicate with your buyers. All too often a potential customer will browse the internet and come across your shop or site when not in a buying mood. They will admire your shop, and then they leave.
Perhaps a week or a month later they will think ‘hm… I saw this great handmade candleholder last week, where did I see it again?’ and they typically have NO WAY of coming back and finding your shop.

But if you have a blog, you can provide them with the means of return. The simplest means of inviting return, though least effective, is providing your reader with a means to like your blog, or follow via feedburner or RSS. I say least effective because not many check their RSS, and people tend to delete emails that come from the same sender too frequently.

The more effective and professional means of maintaining contact is via a newsletter styled mailing list, with an obvious and inviting subscribe form located prominently near your header or sidebar. This ensures that your viewer does not miss the opportunity to follow you if they feel so inclined. If they like your work, and know they will not be spammed, they are likely to subscribe.

If you use your email list wisely, you will create and maintain a loyal following over time. With a regular newsletter you will be reminding your fans that yes, you still exist, and yes, they did like your products. After all, they chose to sign up. You give them a gentle nudge and the means to return. Be careful not to spam your list though. Approximately once a month makes for an ideal newsletter mailing time-frame.  

3 – Search Results

On the internet, you are no longer ‘THE’ art shop in town. Even on and art site like Etsy or Artfire, there are still many other similar shops. By having a blog filled with well written posts using target keywords and SEO, you give your buyers many ways to find you.

Search engines and ‘spiders’ constantly crawl the internet looking for new content. Perhaps you fill your shop with new items on a regular basis. Perhaps you have your core offerings and rarely add new information. If the ‘spider’ found your shop once, how will they find you again?

If you post new blog material on a weekly basis, then you are constantly ‘feeding’ the spiders. And if they learn that they are fed regularly, they will return regularly. Now when a potential customer types a related term in their search bar, your shop or blog is more likely to show up. Therefor if you keep your posts constant and your content fresh, you will be found on a regular basis

4 - Backlinks

Let’s not forget the importance of backlinks. When people click outside links to find your shop, you get backlinks. Increased legitimate backlinks helps increase your shop ranking in search engines, which then increases the visits to your shop. Backlinks help your shop get ‘ranked’ and getting ranked is a sign that your shop is ‘worth’ being found via searches.

When viewers read your blog and click on links back to your shop, you not only get a valuable backlink, but you also get a viewer who is entering your shop with a much higher interest rate. After all, if they found a specific item in your shop by following a blog link, they are looking to see that particular item, and thus more likely to purchase.

Backlinks don’t have to come only from item posts. You can discuss anything relevant in your blog, and then grab the reader’s attention with a quick conclusion such as ‘view related items in my shop’ that links to your shop. You can also have a well-placed widget, or perhaps your most popular item listings in the sidebar to get your readers attention.

And last but not least, you can have backlinks from OTHER blogs. You can agree to feature a fellow shop owner’s link on your sidebar, and they will feature your shop/blog on their sidebar. This is especially true for the Promotional Frenzy Team. Check out the sidebar to the left of this post and you will notice that we have a list of shop links for all the members of our team.

5 – Item Exposure

This is something to consider if you are feeling super adventurous. Every blog gives you the option to add a ‘page’. These are useful for about pages and sales pages, but have you thought of gallery pages?

You’ve caught your reader’s interest, great! Now make them realize that they really do want to see more. You can create a gallery page on your blog where you showcase anywhere from 5 to 20 of your best or in-season shop offerings, where each item links directly to the purchase page for the item.

If a viewer is interested enough to read your blog, view your gallery, and click your item link, they are likely interested in purchasing your item. And you have just made the entire experience a lot more personable and enjoyable for them.

Perhaps in a future post I can even show you how to create this gallery (leave a comment if interested)

But for now, I just want to leave you with this notion: We are artists, but we are also business owners. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, or shop. And if a blog helps facilitate your dreams as an artist, how can you say no?

This post was brought to you by Leah from MagicByLeah
MagicByLeah is a place where fantasy and magic come to life in polymer clay. If you'd like to read more about Leah visit her website:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time Management for Small Businesses


As indie business owners, one of the elements most of us struggle with is time management. It can be so difficult, especially when we probably most enjoy the "making" of our goods.  And I know that I can also become consumed in various aspects of my business, wanting to pretend I'm "marketing."

I say “pretend I’m marketing” because while it’s imporant for a business owner who relies upon social media strategies to market our products, it’s also extremely easy to be pulled into the Internet, becoming a “computer potato.”  Sound familiar?

So these are the times I return to my good ol’ college textbooks for guidance.

Several marketing strategies are defined, and intuitively we gravitate to one or another without being strategic in our thought:
§  Product Leadership - being the best in our field...think Google for search engines. 
§  Concentrated Growth - resources are directed to the growth of a single product, in a single market with a single strategy.
§  Market Development - opening additional geographic markets or market segments. E.g., for social media, expanding into another online marketing venue; advertising in a new media.
§  Product Development - modifying an existing product for a new market. For example, Philadelphia Cream Cheese broadening into flavored cream cheese products and cooking ingredients.
§  Innovation - developing a new product or service. Apple created few new products or services of their own, but they took the concepts to new mass markets.
§  Horizontal Integration - acquiring product lines in the same stage as yours. For example, jewelers specializing in earrings begin to develop necklaces and watches.
§  Vertical Integration - acquiring vendors or suppliers for sales growth. Many Etsy vendors begin to sell supplies as a way to increase their revenue.

While basic and certainly not exclusive, this should give us a few examples of how to increase our business.  Many of you may doing some of these strategies already.

If you create bracelets, are you also creating and selling watches?  Horizontal Integration.

If you create necklaces, are you selling supplies you no longer need? Vertical Integration.

For myself, I've expanded my product line about as full as I can go with horizontal integration in simply the candle market.  I have three options for container candles, tea lights, then I moved into votives, then naturally into candle tarts. My horizontal integration is the home fragrance market, as I recently expanded into reed diffusers and other air freshener products.

So what's next?

Unless I add more fragrances (product development), I will need to explore other opportunities for growth.  While I realize Etsy is an extremely competitive market for home fragrances, I prefer not to venture into other online opportunities (market development). I believe social media can only handle one marketplace and prefer to direct these efforts to one online shop. I do explore market development by trying to land my products into bricks and mortar retail environments and personalized products with event planners.

So, this is a sample of the internal dialogue I have when looking for business opportunities and growth.  If you don't have a business background, I recommend you do some simple online research to learn how best you can grow your business as well.

Happy sales!

Written By:  DLitesbyDorene

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Are Your Colors On-Trend?

The Pantone 2012 Fall/Winter Color Report is certainly not new News ... but with many of us well under-way creating for the Fall/Winter season right now, a little reminder can't hurt!

When Pantone speaks, Retailers listen, and these are the colors that women will be seeing when they are in the stores. It may still be hotter than heck, but Summer Clearances are going on and the Fall items have shown their pretty faces everywhere!

There will be a lot of women wearing these colors, and they want to accessorize in the very same shades. If you create jewelry, knit & crochet pieces, handbag accessories - just about anything that will be worn or toted around - these are the colors you should be thinking about.

For those who carry and/or create supplies, these are the colors your customers will want. Those who create personal items like Bath & Body, using these shades in your items will be au courant and much more likely to catch the eye of shoppers.

Items for the home are not exempt from color trends. If a woman is attracted to the so-much-fun bright colored jeans we are seeing, they'll also be excited by the same hues when they're looking for cool stuff to put in their home. And don't forget all the college kids decorating their dorm room!

Here's a quick roundup of the Shades of Fall that you can keep in mind when creating ...

To see Pantone's palettes for the home, visit this site

Contributed by Jill Q of jQ jewelry designs

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Product Photography Tips

  A few important things that come in handy when photographing product:

1. A light box with simple backgrounds.
FYI - You can build your own light box (which didn’t go well for me and I didn’t like the fact that it didn’t clean up nice and compact).
photo from

2. A tripod and a remote shutter release.

3. Bright daylight bulbs.

4. Photo editing programs.

5. Focus...make sure you focus on your object, not on your other props!

6. TIME. Don’t rush yourself. Take the time to get things right!

Take pictures of your items at different angles. Stage your product with something that lends to it, not takes away.

Simple backgrounds are often best as your main focus is on the product itself.

I do tend to shoot in manual mode, rather than in Auto, giving me a lot more control over how my photo is going to turn out. This means adjusting your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance.

Here's just a small glance at the difference between Auto white balance and me adjusting the white balance:

REMEMBER, your customers can't pick up your objects and inspect them, so your photo has got to sell it!

If you have a product that you can easily reproduce a lot of and don't find yourself loving the photography end, consider hiring a professional photographer to do your photos. Even if it's just one to use as your man selling photo to grab the attention of potential customers.

More information on product photography along with some question and answers at Crystal Gayle Photography blog.