Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Google-y eyes

Here I am again with another guest blog!
With all of these "newfangled" technologies that we can use to promote ourselves and "network", what is good  to use?
I personally have been quite happy with the tools from google. The first tool I use is G-mail, it is their e-mail hosting website. Things are very easy to find, and it is extremely easy to organize e-mails, from sellers, buyers, wholesalers, people you meet randomly on the street or your local yarn shop :-)

The second tool I had heard about from someone on Etsy: Google Analytics
This tool shows you the amount of traffic that goes to whatever website you choose, Etsy happens to be affiliated with this, so it is extremely easy to link them up with your shop. The great thing about this tool is that the traffic is partitioned by where it comes from, google search, direct traffic (people you tell to come to the store), referring sites (facebook, twitter, etc.) it show when traffic is highest, and where  in the world it is coming from. All of this information can be used to optimize your shop for the internet.

The last tool that I have used is Google websites; this is the link for our site http://sites.google.com/site/createcrochetteam/
this tool is so versatile, and I am still figuring it out moment by moment. My advice for anyone looking at these tools or any other online tool, is give yourself time to get used to them, take a day and work on it. Read everything you can about it, look at the forums, post a question  in the forums and see if anyone has advice for you!

So not only does google have a great series of tools, take a look at Etsy's storque 
there are hundreds of  possibilities out there, so take a look, it could mean more sales to your shop right away!

-Benjamin Krudwig

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Createcrochet Team Charity Event: HeartsforHaiti Etsy Shop

HeartsforHaiti is a new online Etsy shop. Sellers participate by donating items from their shops to sell from this shop. 100% of the sale proceeds (minus Etsy/Paypal transaction fees) will be sent to Doctors Without Borders (http://doctorswithoutborders.org/ ) to help with their relief efforts in Haiti. All sellers also ship items at their own cost. This shop is 100% volunteer run.

To take part, please send the following information in an email to etsyforhaiti2@gmail.com and put "Hearts For Haiti Donation" as the title:
Your shop name as YourShopName.etsy.com

Your location and country

Item Name/TitleItem Price (please do include this! we don’t want to undervalue your work :)

Item Description

Category & up to 6 tags

Materials used

Up to 3 clear photos of the item - (*we need to cut this back in order to get everything listed in a timely manner)

Important Notes:*Please go to http://www.thecraftynaturelady.etsy.com/ and convo her to let let her know you’ve decided to participate. She'll be posting as many participants as she can on the blog and elsewhere to spread the word and try to increase sales.

* All donated items must be in compliance with Etsy's rules. Donations of heart-themed items are encouraged to direct Valentine’s Day buyers to shop the store, but donations of any kind are gratefully appreciated.

*Please be sure to attach (or upload) all of the photos to the email. Make sure you are sending the sized-for-Etsy versions of your photos. Make sure they are full size, not the gallery pics. If there is a problem with the photos being transmitted, Etsy will let you know. Please do not include lengthy promotions in the item descriptions. We will include your shop name at the top of the listing.

*Quantity: if you have a quantity greater than one of this item to donate, please note it in your email and send a convo to HeartsforHaiti shop with the link to the sold item to RE-LIST it when it sells.

*When your item sells one of the shop administrators will contact you with shipping information. Please ship items within 3 days of purchase. If you ship on a different timeline please indicate that in the listing and ship accordingly.

*Shipping: HeartsforHaiti encourages everyone who can to offer worldwide shipping but understands that some items need to stay domestic due to customs restrictions. If you would like to restrict your shipping parameters please be sure to note that explicitly in your listing! Shortly after your item sells, HeartsforHaiti will be in touch via convo with the buyer’s shipping info. They are trying to be quick with this information, but please allow 24 hours to pass before getting in touch.

*Please be patient as Etsy sorts through the hundreds of inquiries, donations and purchases that they receive each day. It can take a couple of days before a donated item is listed, sometimes more—if you do not see your item listed in the shop or in the sold items after 48 hours of submitting, please contact etsyforhaiti @ gmail.com

Thank you so very much for considering a donation. It is wonderful that so many are willing to help the people of Haiti recover from this tragedy.HeartsForHaiti.etsy.com

This article has been submitted by http://www.thecraftynaturelady.etsy.com/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yarn Organization

Hello team, My name is Jessica I am Jdfootloose on etsy.

Ok here goes my first guest post. There a numerous ways to store and organize your yarn and Hooks. Today I will show you just a few ideas.

If you have cats or any animal that likes to chase or get into your yarn, a shoe box works great to keep out those pesky pet hairs. They also work great when your crocheting with more than one yarn. As you can see in the Pictures this is a pretty easy project, just save the shoe box from your next shoe purchase, I used a pen to poke holes in the side, so my yarn can come through. I left the holes raw but, if you have gromets those would work nicely to let the yarn slide through easier.
You can decorate your box with scrapbook paper or paint, whatever, Just use your imagination and go crazy.

My Next Item is a reused Frozen Yogurt container, I got the one pictured from http://www.boxingday.etsy.com/ She decorated it and put a gromet in the top so the yarn wouldnt snag on the plastic. These Yarn Barns are made for Smaller skieins of yar. like your cotton yarns or maybe even scrap projects. A Coffee can or the new Plastic coffee containers would work awesome for this too. and they would fit your bigger skeins of yarn.

Ok as far as Storage goes, Mine is not the prettiest or most original. but as alot of you know I gave up my craft room when my brother moved in with me. So all my yarn is stored in plastic dressersin my bedroom, and my yarn overflow is stored in a cardboard box. But it serves its purpose it keeps the yarn nice, it keeps critters and hairs and odors away from the yarn.

As far as Hook Storage goes,I used to have my hooks in a cute decorative vase I decorated, displayed on the table by my telephone. Then for christmas my mother bought me a little tool box (Craft Box), full of Crochet hooks. So now thats where I store all my hooks n things.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Full Frontal - Etsy Style

Well, I guess I ought to introduce myself to those who might not know me. I am Benjamin Krudwig, and I am the Guest Blogger on the CreateCrochet Team.

Here I am with my first post!

We all know what that is; the elusive “Front Page” posting of our item. Do you wonder why none of your photos have made it? I have a few observations I have collected over time. I understand this is text heavy, but stick with me to the end on this and your photos will be geared up and ready to compete with the “front-pagers.”

When I started on Etsy, I thought ‘as long as I get some sort of picture on here it doesn’t matter, it will sell.’ Well, it was a few months until I got my first sale and this gave me plenty of time for me to skim the stores of Etsy and see what shops were doing well and which ones weren’t. The picture quality…. No one told me that I would have to be pro-photographer to make a sale. I realized it wasn’t that I needed to be a pro, I just needed to take the time and be very careful in the “staging” of my shots and get great shots. I was antsy in getting my product on the web to sell it, so I didn’t give the photography the needed attention.
I wanted to change this, so after creating something I took extra care and thought about each photo carefully, and edited them if there was a need for it. I wanted to give the buyer an accurate representation of my product.
After my interweb travels in the land of Etsy, I have decided to re-shoot most of my items to increase “front-page visibility.”

Here are a few tips and tricks I have found to be quite useful in my quest for the FP grail.

I would like to preface this with a comment. This is not meant to be an attack on anyone, and no one was specifically mentioned because all of these problems affect at least a few of us. Also, if you would like any further help, let me know!

We all have a style, a personality that is unique to us. How do we translate that into a photo that is front-page worthy? I decided to take a look at the front page of Etsy, every time a new set was out.
The styles I found to be most often chosen were those that were slightly artsy, but still showcased the product.
Choose an appropriate style for the item you are selling, and the image you want your shop to project onto buyers. However, don’t change your style because it is different; just learn how to incorporate your style into a quality photograph. One way I thought useful, would be to take the fun shots, but put those as pictures 2-5, leave picture 1 for the hook to snag buyers.

I think it is important here to muse about the grocery store. What? Yes, the grocery store, when you walk down the aisles, there are products that can only entice you by the photos on the box. If they look rushed or kinda “blah” you won’t buy it. Imagine you are in a foreign town at a local supermarket that doesn’t sell any of the brands you buy. In fact, you have never seen these brands or products before. You want some potato chips. Do you buy the bag that has a badly lit bowl of chips, or the one that has the rich golden chips pouring out of a bag? Most would choose the second bag.
I realized that most sellers on Etsy don’t understand that the pictures for their item aren’t just a quick shot to show what the item is, they are advertisements.

Below are tips for taking better pictures, and more effective advertisements.

Many of us work out of our homes with our craft, and thus take our photos in or around our home. These are some tips for photographing within the home.
Think about what you are selling.
What are you selling, the couch or the afghan on the couch? If it’s the couch, why are you on etsy, and if it’s the afghan, why is it all folded up and pushed to the side? My suggestion to you, if your couch is a complex design, cover it with a white sheet, or solid color that is mute enough to not over-power the attention that your item is supposed to get. Pretend your house is a show-house and it is to be featured in Better Homes and Garden.

Are you selling hats or apparel of any sort?

 Find a wall in your home, or outside your home that gets plenty of light (preferably natural light) that is a neutral color, put your model in front of that (whether they are human or mannequin) and snap plenty of shots. Ask them to wear a solid color that isn’t too bright or “loud.”  Dark-muted colors and light shades of certain colors are preferable. No the clothing doesn’t need to be “matchy-matchy” with the product, but you don’t want to create a dissonance between the colors of the item and whatever the model is wearing. Make your model comfortable (if you are using a living being), no one likes an awkward shot, if they look like they are having fun, your buyer will see that and feel the whimsy and comfort from the photograph. Pay careful attention when photographing a baby in this, nothing says “buy me” like an adorable happy baby. Crying and screaming says “I hate this product, and why is it on me????”

What about accessories?

 Small goods aren’t necessarily in need of a model, a plain background, or a light-box (plenty of tutorials online to learn how to make them) is a perfectly acceptable way of photographing them. However if it is a product that can be used, why not have a photograph of it being used as it is supposed to be? If it is meant to be an appliqué, show it being used as one.

White is boring...

I am not necessarily saying that the background must be a plain background, I have seen many backgrounds that worked well, but they are strongly related to the item being posted, or they are simple enough that they add to the experience of seeing the item. What you want to watch for is a background that over-powers your item. Think about what you want buyers focused on.

Up until now, I have been talking about the style and “staging” of a photograph, and not much on the technical aspects of photography, because you don’t need to be a professional, but you do need to know something.

The most common mistake I see usually involves lighting. A flash doesn’t automatically give you great lighting, and in some cases it make it worse. I always try to use natural light, but if I can’t get that, I use daylight light-bulbs in my light-fixtures. Try to get the most even light you can, light has the natural tendency of creating shadows, so by evening out the light, you can potentially eliminate large, unwanted shadows. This will help in keeping colors true and the need for future editing is minimal.
Also watch out for flat light (most commonly caused by overcast days or not enough light) this can wash out the colors of your item, no amount of editing will fix it to a “real-life” look.

Flash…. Try not to use this as much as possible. Most cameras have an uneven flash that usually washes out (bleaches) the model and the product and often creates harsh shadows and glare from any reflective surface.

Ritalin for your camera!

Another very important item here is the notion of focus. No one wants to look at a blurry picture, there are a few causes.
First off is at the camera level. Make sure you are in focus before snapping the photo. Using a tripod helps reduce camera jitter and a timer (most digital cameras have these built in) also helps reduce the shaking of the camera due to the actual act of pressing the button to take a snapshot.
If you get past the camera stage, and the photos look great, but when you post them on Etsy, they look fuzzy, make sure you are sizing the image properly, don’t down-size too much, or you run the risk of blurring a photo. Use the file-size that Etsy recommends.
Another mistake I have seen made a few times is the time-stamp of some photos has not been edited out of the pics. This sends out an air of hurriedness and nonchalance. This tells me that someone didn’t care enough to take it out of their shot and frankly it looks tacky.
Hopefully you read this and the examples were good enough for you to see the difference between a good shot and a not-so-good shot.

Here are the examples: note, I never moved the bear once during the shoot, I only changed the techniques used for photography.

Original listing photo: as you can see, he is cute, but it's a little busy, even with the out-of-focus bamboo. This shot would be acceptable as a "fun" shot.

Here is a shot where I used flash: notice the awkward shadowing and glare.

Now I alternated using one light and two: the even light in the first provides great visibility, the uneven light in the second produces harsh shadows on half of the bear

I don't  need to show any blurry pictures, because we all know what those  look like :-)
but here is a shot of my set up just to show that there wasn't anything fancy except for my macro lens.

-Benjamin Krudwig
p.s. If you want to see any other tips and tricks on specific topics, let me know!