Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writing Long Item Descriptions: Response to Barbara

4 Comments

Hi, I have a question. How much do I really need to say in my product description? It takes a long time to write them and sometimes I feel a piece is self explanatory. Thanks, Barbara

Barbara,

A good description can take a long time to write, but it can be extremely helpful for the success of your product. A long description can be beneficial for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and for buyer conversion. It has been proven that sellers who provide a longer description sell better, and if you spend time on the description of an item you can relist after selling, all the better.


Here are a few things you can add to your descriptions to make the longer:

Compare your Product to Alternatives – Does your specially-made handmade soap leave the user's skin softer than cow’s milk or vegetable oil soap? Be sure to say so in your description. Most shoppers don’t know the difference between ingredients and components of a piece, so show your expertise!

Give User Testimonials –Do you have kudos in your studio, or have you received an email from a customer thanking you for a specific product? Include it in your description! A buyer is more inclined to use your product if they know other shoppers have enjoyed using it as well. Note: To get the best SEO benefit from this, try not to reuse testimonials in multiple products. 

Do Keyword Research – Try including a few search terms in your description you think shoppers might be looking for. Don’t overdo it, remember, you’re writing for a person, not a search engine. However, adding some keywords can help your SEO. Remember, every word of your description is another way for shoppers to find your product!

Make It Easy to Read – Use bullet points when you can, and make sure to write in short, clear paragraphs. You want to include a lot of information, but you don’t want to make it difficult for your readers! Double checking your description for proper grammar and spelling can also help you avoid making mistakes that turn buyers away.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions for me.

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online




Have any other advice for writing good descriptions? Add it in the comments section of this post.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Customizing Your Blog: Response to Callie

4 Comments

I have been following blogs from my reader for about a year now, and have finally picked up the courage to start my own blog! But now that I have it "set up" I don't know how to make it look any better than the basic options blogger has offered me. Is there a site out there that will walk me and anyone else new to this, through personalizing their blog. I know there are ways to use more than the 7 fonts offered originally. And I'm honestly not sure where to start or how to make it mine. Any suggestions or pointers would be great, so that I can be successful! Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!


- Callie from www.seriously-handmade.blogspot.com


Callie,
Thanks for the question! I had a peek at your blog and see you already have installed a template, but you wish to customize your blog even further. I’ve done some research and located a few guides which will help you add even more to your blog.


Blog Tutorial - Tips For Blog Templates & Blog Design In Photoshop – This guide will show you how to quickly create a banner for your blog using Photoshop. It can also show you some quick tricks to dressing up a photo to make it “pop” on your blog, and discusses things like color scheme and design elements.

Customize Your Blogger Template – This guide is specifically designed for blogger, and in additional to helping you layout your new banner on your blog, it also goes into some basic HTML for changing the width of your blog, adding a photo to your blog, and setting up your RSS feed.

To address your specific question about fonts, I found this great guide on Kevinandamanda.com which will show you how to use different fonts for your title font sidebar and even date. The best part is, visitors to your blog wouldn’t need to have these fonts installed beforehand to have them show up correctly. This guide does look rather technical and complex, so make sure you follow all of the instructions.

This should help you get started. Let me know if you have any additional questions by posting in the comments below.

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Do you have a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.





Do you have other suggestions for customizing a blog? Leave them in the comments below.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Adding Emails to Signatures: Response to Anonymous

0 Comments

Hello. I noticed some people have links to their shops and stuff at the bottom of their emails. Do you know how to set that up? Thanks.


Anonymous 



Anonymous,
I believe you are referring to email signatures. Email signatures appear at the bottom of every email you send out and allow you to share your studio link with whoever you’re emailing. They’re a great way to share your studio address with new people or direct people back to your studio.

Since all email clients are different, I’ll show you how to add a signature in Outlook, Hotmail, and Yahoo.

Outlook
Depending on your version of Outlook, this process could differ slightly. If these instructions don’t work for you, open up Outlook Help and search for “Signatures” to learn how to set it up in your version.

Start by opening Outlook. On the taskbar, select the “Tools” dropdown. From here, select “Options.” This will cause the Options box to pop up. On here, select the “Mail Format” tab, and then “Signatures”.


Here, you can create a new signature, which you can name whatever you want. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you link this signature to an email account by selecting an account on the right. In the screenshot above, the account selected is “Microsoft Exchange”. Also make sure you set this signature to appear for new messages, replies and forwards.

In the text box below, enter your signature. This can be as simple as your name in a link to your studio. You can use the editor to add a picture or banner for your studio if you wish. Remember that not everyone uses the same mail system as you, and some mail systems will strip out pictures and html, so you might just want to write out the URL for your studio for people who don’t read emails in HTML and make it a clickable link for those that do.

Next, click “OK” and navigate back to your inbox. Open up a new message to test whether your signature is showing up. If it is, you’re done, yay! If it’s not, you’ll have to check out Outlook’s help to see what went wrong.


Hotmail
Start by logging into your account and clicking the “Mail” link at the top of the page. While in your inbox, select the “Options” dropdown and select “More Options.”



Under the “Customize your mail” heading, select “Personal e-mail signature”.



In the text box, enter in your signature. It doesn’t look like you can add an image with this one, but you can add emoticons and play around with the fonts. Make sure to hit “Save” once you’re done!

Double check by opening up a new message to see if your signature worked, otherwise refer to Hotmail Help.

Yahoo
 Yahoo is set up similarly to Hotmail. Navigate to your Yahoo mail by going to mail.yahoo.com. Once you’ve logged in, click the tiny blue link for “options” on the right directly above the advertisements and select “more options” from the drop down menu.



On the Yahoo Mail options screen, select “Signature” on the left.

Here you can enter your signature. Click the “Rich Text” link on the right for additional options, such as hyperlinks and emoticons. Make sure you toggle “Show a signature on all outgoing messages” and click the “Save Changes” button when finished.




Double check to make sure your signature is showing up by opening up a new message. If you’re having trouble getting it to show up properly, consult Yahoo Help.

Most other email clients should have a similar way of setting up a signature, however, not all of them have that option. If your client doesn’t offer a signature service, remember you can also manually add your URL at the end of your email.

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Do you have a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.

Do you have other suggestions for using signatures? Add them in the comments below.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Preparing for the Holidays: Response to Anna Marie

5 Comments

Christmas has always been my busiest time for my business. I know it’s still a ways away, but is there anything I can do now to make this Christmas more successful and easier for me? Or is it still too early?


Thanks in advance.
Anne Marie.



Anne Marie,

In business, it is never too early to prepare for the holiday season. That thought scares may people, but there’s no reason to dread the holidays, especially because it is the most profitable time for many businesses. With some advice from our team, I’ve put together a short list of ways to prepare for the holiday season to both avoid last-minute stress and make the season better for artisan sellers.

Top Ways to Prepare for the Fourth Quarter Shopping Season:

-Make Product. You should already be researching new trends and ideas for holiday items. It’s important you have a wide variety of pieces to choose from, so make sure to set some time aside from making new product before the holiday shopping season begins (and remember, this can begin as early as September). Also take into account what sold well last year, and try to expand upon those themes.

-Do Some SEO Testing. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be very tricky, but luckily you don’t need in-depth knowledge to test which keywords work best for you. First, research some common keywords for your products using the tools outlined in this guide. Next, do some A/B testing on these keywords. Try changing around the keywords in one of your item’s titles and noting any change you see over the following weeks. You can also try changing a paragraph in your description, or running tests on similar items. More ideas for SEO testing are outlined at the end of this SEO Roundup. The goal in doing these tests is to find the best arrangement of keywords to get your items the most exposure possible in time for the holidays.

Start Brainstorming Deals and Sales You Plan to Offer. It’s a good idea to have any special deals or sales already in place at the beginning of November. Even if it’s a Black Friday or Christmas sale, it’s can’t hurt to have it already going on ahead of time to beat the rush. Brainstorm how you can promote your sale too—it wouldn’t do any good to have a coupon sale or shopping discount if no one has heard of it!

Check Your Packaging Supplies. Make sure you have plenty of shipping goods ready to go before the holiday season begins. Buying them in bloke now will help reduce costs later. Also make sure you have plenty of holiday gift wrap available to offer as an extra bonus to your customers.

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Do you have a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.





Do you have any other suggestions for preparing for the holidays? Add them in a comment below.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why and How to Add Alt Text to Images: Response to Jay

1 Comments


 Hi Sara,
I have been reading up on SEO lately as suggested in the forums so my shop gets more traffic. Lately I’ve seen people talk about “alt tags” for images. What are alt tags, and should I be using them?
Thanks,
Jay

Jay,

Great question! I had to consult our SEO guru about this one. Alt tags or alt text basically tells a computer or search engine what an image contains.  For example, if you had a picture of a piece of handmade soap you were uploading to your blog, a good alt text would be, “Oatmeal Goat’s Milk Soap Handmade by Jay.” This can be helpful both for SEO, as well as those readers are unable to see your images.
While you can’t really add alt text to your listings, you do have an option to add it on some blogging services. Sadly, Blogger doesn’t give you an easy place to fill this in, but you can add it to your image’s HTML.
Adding Alt Text to an Item’s HTML on Blogger
First, decide on a good alt text for your image. This should be about a sentence in length and accurately describe the item.
Open up a new post in Blogger, or your blog service of choice. It will probably be easier if you import the picture you wish to use first before writing the post.
Locate an “Edit HTML” feature on your blog editor. This appears as a tab on blogger.


 This will show the HTML for your image.  It should look something like this:


< div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">
< a href= "http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_jjFt29uruVo/TBACIcAw9VI/AAAAAAAAAEc/YD7Qge9uV_s/s1600/334_avatar_thumb_crop.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">< img border="0" src=" http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_jjFt29uruVo/TBACIcAw9VI/AAAAAAAAAEc/YD7Qge9uV_s/s320/334_avatar_thumb_ crop.jpg" />



The text in bold above (note: it will not be bold in your html editor, and has only been bolded to make it easier to identify here)"" is the image tag.  After the section, add your alt text in apostrophes, with the code alt= proceeding it. For this example, I’m adding the text “This is a picture of Sara!

The code to be added in: alt="This is a picture of Sara!"

< div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">

< a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/ _jjFt29uruVo/TBACIcAw9VI/AAAAAAAAAEc/YD7Qge9uV_s/s1600/334_avatar_thumb_crop.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">< img alt="This is a picture of Sara!" border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/ _jjFt29uruVo/TBACIcAw9VI/AAAAAAAAAEc/YD7Qge9uV_s/s320/334_ avatar_thumb_crop.jpg" />



Make sure you don’t add anything else to your image tag or else your photo might not appear properly.
After you’d added your alt text, go back to the regular editor. This appears as the “Compose” tab on blogger.
 
  
Finish writing up your blog post and publish it.
To test to see if your alt text is working, view the finished post on your blog. On Firefox, you can disable images by clicking Tools then Options and then unclicking the box labeled “load images automatically.”



Now refresh your blog. Your images in your post should now be appearing as linked alt text.



Make sure you turn images back on the same way you turned them off. You can now add alt text anywhere you can edit html. Use it to help improve your search ranking for keywords and to help those unable to view images when viewing your blog.

Hope that helps answer your questions! Let me know if you have any more.  :)
Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Do you have a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting Followers and Promoting on Twitter: Response to Cindy

2 Comments

Sara,
I’ve been hearing alot lately about twitter. I’ve just signed up for an account, but I’m completely lost. How do I get friends? How to I promote my shop? Please help.
Cindy


Cindy,

Welcome to Twitter! For new users, Twitter can be rather confusing at first. If you don’t know much about the micro-blogging site, I recommend you check out our Twitter 101 guide first.

Getting “Friends” and Followers on Twitter – If you’ve just started your Twitter account, chances are, you have no one following your tweets! What you’ll first need to do is follow some new people. You can use Twitter’s search (available on your left navigational bar on your Twitter home page) and people search to start finding people with similar interests to yours. For example, if you had a knitting shop, you could search for keywords like “knit”, “knitter”, or “knitting” to find people tweeting about those topics. You can also try finding people or companies you’re interested in with a lot of followers and follow some of those people. For example, if you sell on ArtFire, you might want to follow some of the people who follow ArtFire’s tweets.

Try following a few hundred (yes, hundred!) people and see where that gets you. Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but enough will check out your Twitter profile to gain you some followers. You can also try linking to your Twitter account from your MarketHub on ArtFire, or adding your Twitter username to a Handmade roster.

Promoting Once You’ve Got Friends and Followers—One of the fastest ways to lose followers on Twitter is to spam them with Direct Messages and @Replies about your studio. Instead, try to post the right blend of personal information and studio promotion. Share interesting finds online as well. Found a good crafty article? Share it with your followers. Found a new shop you think is really unique? Share it with your followers. Had an amusing experience on the way to work? Share it with you followers. Add a tweet in there about a special deal in your studio, or maybe a new piece you’ve just listed. It’s up to you to determine the right balance of personal information, fun links, and information about your business. You don’t want your Twitter account to be 100% promotional, although it doesn’t serve your studio to have it be 100% personal either.

I hope that helps you get started! Once you’re better acquainted with Twitter, you can check out our Social media guide to Mirco-Blogging to learn about tools and tricks to using the service. Happy twitting, and let me know if you have any other questions!

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Got a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Creating a YouTube Commercial: Response to Sarah

3 Comments

Hi Sara,


I was wondering if you could talk about how to make a youtube commercial, and maybe provide some examples of good ones. I would love to make an interesting commercial, but I'm not sure where to start.


Thanks,
Sarah


Sarah,

If used properly, YouTube commercials and videos can be a powerful tool for marketing your store. Since creating videos can be a complex art, I’ll just go into some basic information in this post. For more detailed information on creating a YouTube account, promoting yourself on YouTube, and even some basic filming tips, check out this guide.

First, figure out what kind of commercial you’d like to make. If you don’t have a video camera, your best option would be to create a slideshow of product images with music, similar to this video created by ArtFire seller Swank:




Such videos can be created using most basic video editing software. If you don’t have any installed on your computer, check out these five free ones.

If you do have a video camera, you could try making an educational video. Videos that show off a tutorial or offer business tips can be a great way to build your business’s credibility. ArtFire seller WildChildDzigns has made a number of videos (you can check out her YouTube Channel here), on business and fashion advice as well as general videos which show off new products.

Regardless of what kind of video you create, it's important you promote it. Post it in your blog, tweet it, or show it off on Facebook!

I hoped this answer a few basic questions you had about creating YouTube videos. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Sara
Sell Handmade Crafts Online
Got a question for me to answer on this blog? Email me: Sara@ArtFire.com.