Thursday, May 12, 2016

On the move again, next stop: St. George, UT - Closed 5/23/16 to 5/27/16

Owning an internet business allows me to live anywhere in the world, so instead of settling on one place, I'm exploring a bunch of places. My next chosen city to try for a year is St. George, Utah.

I'm often asked, why? Cause I can. I'm single, in good health and not getting any younger. The hiking and wanderlust bug has bit me hard and I'd regret it forever if I didn't at least try it out. And why there? I found that I love warmer year round weather, so after studying city data weather patterns, I try not to venture too far above 37 degrees latitude North. I also love hiking and mountain climbing, so I search the map for any green areas which denote National State Parks. And then I pick a city close to those green areas. So, as you can see from the below Google Map pic, St. George looks ideal:

I have the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve to the north, Zion National Park to the east and the Grand Canyon to the south and so much more to explore.

So I'll be closing up shop on May 23rd, packing up my stuff and driving to UT on May 26th. I'll reopen on May 30th from my new place. I'll be checking emails and all the social media places while I'm gone, so reach out to me with any questions!!

Here's a recap of the cities so far:
Chicago, IL (where I lived for most of my life)
Orange, CA
Sedona, AZ
San Marcos, CA
Irvine, CA
Currently: St. George, UT
Next up: Durango, CO

If you have any suggestions on where to try next, please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How To Improve Your Etsy Shop Search Traffic

My daily interactions with the Etsy Forums led me to this most excellent post about how to improve your Etsy search traffic. I asked the author, Janie, and she so graciously gave me permission to share it on my blog. To see her incredible shop of gorgeous, unique jewelry, go here:

"I often see questions about low traffic in the discussion forums, from people who want to improve search traffic to their shop. I often see a lot of the same problems when I look at their shops. I'm trying to balance my desire to help other sellers, with my desire to not type the same thing many many times. :) I thought maybe if I make a thread for this, then I can link to it sometimes, more people will see it, and it's more efficient that way. :)

This is a list of fixable problems that will hurt your position in search - and how to fix them. Listed in rough order of what I usually see first when I pop into someone's shop to answer their question about low traffic.

1) Titles that don't include the name of the actual thing. For example "Rustic Lumberjack Doll" is a better title than "Rustic Lumberjack." "Rustic Lumberjack Doll, Scarecrow, Oversized Doll" is even better because it contains multiple ways to name the thing.

2) Average or bad photography. Anything less than *excellent* photography will hurt your position in search. Why? Because when Etsy users search, find, and click an item, it reinforces that item's position in that search. If your items aren't being reinforced in the search with clicks, then other people's items are being reinforced instead of yours, and that hurts your position in the search. And photography is the #1 thing that makes someone want to click one item instead of another. I often see room for improvement in:
- lighting (some pictures are better lit than others, some have the wrong white balance because they have the wrong type of light)
- staging (in stores who are asking about low traffic I often see the opportunity to create warm and inviting scenes with some items - but I don't often see it actually being done)
- backgrounds (often too busy, taking attention away from the detail in an item)
- thumbnail cropping (for example zoomed too far out and your item is de-emphasized compared to other objects in the picture ... or zoomed in on the wrong location and the item looks cut off in a weird place)

3) Missing tags. You should have 13. This is to get your item in as many searches as possible.

4) Tags not complete search phrases - too many single words and not enough phrases - or too many adjective phrases, and not enough adjective + noun phrases. I know the tag textbox has a prompt that says “color / style / etc” but that's not really an accurate description of what tags should be. Think of tags as complete search phrases, instead of color and style descriptors. As often as possible, tags should be a full and complete search phrase that someone might type into the site-wide search box. Sometimes the 20-character limit prevents you from doing that and then you need to break it up into words or smaller phrases that describe the color or style. For example "red mug" is better than "red" and "mug" in separate tags. If you have room for two tags then "red mug" and "coffee mug" will serve you better than "red" and "mug." Another example: I recently learned in my own shop that "wire wrapped pendant" is a much better tag to have than "wire wrapped." Including the noun makes it a full search phrase.

5) Not including the same tags that people are searching for most often. How do you know which tags are commonly searched for? You can go to the Etsy site-wide search box and start typing one word - they have that list of suggestions sorted with popular searches at the top.

6) Not knowing there are tools to help you with Etsy SEO. You can use for this and it's free. You enter the name of your shop and a search phrase - they tell you which search result pages you appear on, and what are the most popular tags for items that do well in that search. Tweak your tags for that search phrase, check a few hours later (or the next day) to see how you did - are you showing up in the search you tried to fix? If you are, great! Pick another popular search and fix that too. If you aren't, pick another popular search and fix that too. :) Repeat as necessary until you’re getting more views.

7) Unintentional spelling mistakes in titles or tags. Unless you have the correct spelling in there too, someone who enters the correct spelling will not find you. If you want to get into a misspelled search on purpose because you know people search for the misspelled word often, that's ok. I do that with "wire wrapped pendant" and "wirewrapped pendant" both in my tags. But accidentally misspelling is probably going to hurt more than it helps and it's very fixable.

Those are my search-fixing tips for now. And I know I need to take my own advice and tweak a few things in my own shop - I'm off to do that! :)

Note I do not plan to reply to replies here - I just wrote this so I can link to it when I see questions about it. But feel free to add your own tips to this list, or bump this thread in the comments if you feel like people would benefit from it. Just make sure your comments are polite! I have replaced all of my examples with made-up item names or examples from my own shop, so it doesn't sound like I'm making an example of anyone, and I recommend you do the same...don't make an example of anyone in the comments. And please don't turn this into a complaining thread! It's just something helpful to link to when people need help.

Thanks, and I hope this helps you - or helps you help someone else!"

Thanks Janie! To see the original post, here's the link:

Do you have any tips on how to improve your Etsy shop? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Home Fragrancing with Wax Tarts & Fragrance Oils - But How? In What?

I often get asked about the best way to fragrance your home with wax tarts or fragrance oils. Here's a list of my favorites:

1. The wall plug-in electric tart or oil warmer: This is my favorite because it doesn't take up any counter or dresser space and also doubles as a night light. It can scent a room with a couple small tarts or fill the bowl with water and add a few drops of fragrance or essential oils. The only downside is that it does take a light bulb, so if you use it frequently, buy a couple extras and keep them readily available.

2. Electric table-top tart warmer: Since it uses an electric hot plate to warm the tarts or oils, you do not have to worry about replacing light bulbs. But, it's not a night light and it does take up counter or dresser space. The bowl is bigger, so you can warm more tarts at one time or fill with water and drops of fragrance or essential oil, which will allow you to scent your larger rooms.

3. Tea-light oil diffuser: This is good in a pinch, it's really low cost and you don't need electricity to use it. But, it does use a candle and if you have pets or kids, open flames are kind of a no-no. The bowl is small, so you can warm a small tart or fill with water and add a few drops of fragrance or essential oils. The scenting effects will only last as long as your candle is burning and tea-lights have about a 2-3 hour burn time.

What's your favorite way to scent your spaces? I'd love to hear from you, please comment below and share your scenting strategies!

What's the difference between Essential Oils (EO's) & Fragrance Oils (FO's)?

Essential oils are extracted directly from a plant, usually steam distilled from the leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, tops or fruits of the plant. Perfume or fragrance oils are made in a lab and are either fully synthetic or a combination of synthetic and essential oils.

Currently I only carry 2 all natural certified 100% pure essential oils, Patchouli & Lavender. The rest of the fragrances are 100% synthetic fragrance oils or a blend of essential and fragrance oils.

Because there are so many scents that you cannot extract from a plant and they just smell so good, most of my oils are fragrance oils. It is impossible to extract scent from a marshmallow or bubblegum, but these are some of the best sellers. Why? Because they smell amazingly good and when you smell something good, you like it and feel happy.

I can tell you all my fragrance oils are:

1. DEP Phthalate Free
2. Gluten Free
3. Vegan
4. Cruelty Free
5. Paraben Free
6. Alcohol Free
7. Always Fresh

I only buy body safe oils, that is why you will never see anything with cinnamon, cranberries, black cherries, anything that can be a skin irritant. And since I only buy body safe oils, they are safe to apply to the skin undiluted in small quantities. And since they are undiluted, a little goes a long way, you don't need much to smell great. But, as with any beauty and body product, always patch test on your skin first. I personally test every oil on myself before adding it to my scent list.

Ways to use the fragrance oils:
Put a few drops onto a cotton ball, rub on your wrists and neck for a quick and easy fragrant body perfume
Pop the cotton ball into your pillowcase for sweetly scented dreams
Add a few drops to an empty spray bottle, add water, shake well and spray
Put a few drops in your tea-light oil burner (with water)
Put a few drops in your electric tart warmer
Put a few drops on your cloth car floor mats or place a scented cotton ball under your car seats
Add a few drops to a warm bath
Make your own candles, tarts and bath & body products

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Etsy Shop Layout gone live on April 5, 2016

Etsy has been warning us of the new Etsy shop layout and requesting that we check out the new format and optimize our shops for it. I'm always game to try new things, especially if it will help make the Etsy shopping experience better and easier for potential buyers.

It's gone live today, April 5th, and I'm not sure if I should go with the layout that includes a big huge banner or no banner for a more simplified look. Here's the big huge banner screen shot:

Here's the no banner screen shot:
Here's the shop layout before the changes:
Here's a link if you want to check it out:

What do you think?

If you are an Etsy shop owner, what do you think of the changes? How does your shop look? Feel free to leave a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Monday, February 29, 2016

FREE Etsy Promoted Listing Tips

I've been playing with Etsy Promoted Listings since they were announced in 2014. After getting a few $30 and $40 Promoted Listing monthly bills (not Etsy Seller Fees, but added to that), I tried to come up with a strategy to minimize my costs and maximize the sales produced.

First I just put everything in my shop into Promoted Listings. I'm relying on Etsy to sort through the products and give everyone an equal share of views (or impressions). I don't want to be that one seller that just pops up everywhere, I only want to show up when it's relevant to the Etsy users search. Based on Etsy recent search changes, it looks like that's how search is being modified.

Also, I made sure that my titles, descriptions and tags were all updated and relevant. To see that process, check out this blog post.

Now I considered the absolute maximum I would pay for a click. I set it at .05 cents. To do this, click on Settings (upper right hand corner), go to the Maximum Cost Per Click Section and click Add Max Bid and type in .05. This will set .05 as your maximum bid for a click on everything you are promoting. I also have a daily budget of $1.00 and clicked on Yes, promote new listings, as seen below.

Now I played with this number until I hit the sweet spot, which for me and my type of product is .05 cents. You may have a different approach and you can test it out by raising or lowering your maximum cost per click. My click through rate (clicks divided by impressions) is 1.6% (the same as before my experiment) and my expenses are about 5% of the sales produced, which is a decrease from 11%. I'm happy with that ratio and now I just scan the listings that are producing the highest impressions (you can sort your listings by impressions in the Listing stats and bid management section) and clicks (same).

One of the perks of Promoted Listings is the Revenue Analytics. You can find the link on the Revenue tab:
Click on the Search Terms tab and it will show you the top performing search terms with notes on the ones that have the highest click rate:
Make sure are you utilizing these search terms in your relevant listings.

I hope this helps!! Do you have any Etsy hacks or tips that have worked for you? Please post them in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you! And here's a link to my Etsy shop, just so you know I'm legit!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shout out from @jessijaybeauty on @instagram for the Tropical Butter Creams

Thanks for the love and if you want to see all her other beauty tips, check out her Instagram account HERE. Her nail tutorials are amazeballs. To try out the tropical butter cream click HERE.