Sunday, December 17, 2017

Small Craft Fairs vs. Juried Art Fairs

(This was written in response to a post in a local Facebook group lamenting the poor turnout at a school-sponsored craft fair.)

I've done craft fairs for more than 40 years, so have a little bit of experience with these things. 

High booth fees should not be seen as a guarantee of anything other than a high booth fee. 

High booth fees should not be taken as an implication that there will be great advertising, a large number of shoppers, better sales, or anything. Only that they are high booth fees. 

If you're a serious artist, you shouldn't be doing school, church, or retirement home/senior center shows. The shoppers at these shows tend to be the parishoners, parents & teachers, and residents & their families; very rarely are there many outside shoppers. Do what it takes to get into the truly juried shows in your area (or as far away as you're willing to travel. I live in Sacramento and did a small antique show in Los Altos for many years. The drive was (at least) 2.5 hours each way, sometimes 3 hours or more coming home due to the traffic on 880. 

Some of the better art fairs in the Sacramento area include the Kiwanis Arts Fiesta (June), Harvest Festival (November), Sacramento Arts Festival (November), Crocker Holiday Artisan Market (November), and the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale (December). These are all VERY juried shows. You will need to have awesome photos of your products & booth. Don't even think about applying if you sell trademark-infringing goods or if you're a rep for a direct sales company! You want to see high booth fees? These shows have that too! But they've been around for years and their promoters know the importance of advertising. See you there!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Etsy SEO Tips

I just helped another Etsy seller with SEO and wanted to share this here. Maybe it will be helpful to you too!

This seller's current title is:

Frosty Ice with Iridescent Swarovski Crystal Beads with 3D Silver Reindeer Charms Women's Christmas Holiday Dangle Drop Earrings

I suggested a better title:

Reindeer Earrings, Holiday Earrings, Christmas Jewelry, Women's Dangle Earrings, Girl's Holiday Jewelry... keep going with different phrases like this until the entire title field is filled up.

The title should begin with "reindeer earrings" because that's what they are, right? While they may be "frosty ice" to the seller, that sounds like a Summer drink! And definitely move the word "earrings" closer to the beginning of the title. As Etsy has written in a Help article about "How Etsy search works," the first few words of the title have the most weight in search.

Try out potential search phrases in Etsy search. Just start typing the phrase (not the whole phrase) into the Etsy search box and see what the suggested searches are. Type another letter ... do the suggested searches change? Type another letter, and so on! Etsy says the suggested searches are what shoppers are searching for, so if any of them are relevant for your item, use them!

Now, repeat those title phrases in the tags. Tags are limited to 20 characters, so that means longer phrases will need to be broken up. "Girl's Holiday Jewelry" could become "Girls Earrings" and "Holiday Jewelry," for example; doing this should allow this item to rank well if a shopper is searching for "girl's holiday jewelry." Since there are currently 6,420 items shown in the results for this search, "ranking well" may be a challenge, so be sure you're also using accurate sub-categories for the type of earring, etc.

Back to those suggested searches for a bit. They do change from time to time, depending on what shoppers are searching for ... which is why having really good SEO can be a never-ending job! Personally, I mostly "set it and forget it" when it comes to my SEO. There are things I change once in awhile, such as heart ornaments which are "Christmas ornaments" in the Fall and thru December 25, then they become "Valentine's Decor" until mid-February. After that, they could become "Bridal Shower Decor," "Rustic Wedding Decorations," or something else. If the items have Americana colors, I will add "Americana" SEO at some point. Of course, most of my items sell before I need to change the tags (YAY!), but that hasn't always been the case.

This article is not intended to be a thorough discussion of Etsy SEO, just a bit about tags & titles. Also, Etsy is in the process of integrating AI (artificial intelligence) into their SEO mix and they have hinted that, at some point, more clearly written titles will work better. But I don't think that time is yet here. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Late Summer Update

I know that nobody is reading this (I only get a rare comment on anything I write here), but I thought I'd post an update to my last post.

Serendipity brought me to a cute apartment across town. My concern about trying to find an apartment while being "semi-retired" was quickly resolved when the manager said all I needed to do was show that I had the same amount of money as an employed person would be required to have (3x the rent), though she asked for proof of that for each month of the 6-month lease! She accepted my IRA statement as proof and assured me that she wasn't putting a lien on my money, but I'd have to show proof of income (or savings) each time I renewed the lease. I was thrilled when she told me that I scored 9.5/10.0 on the survey they use to determine whether to rent to someone ... she said most of her tenants don't come close to that! 

I like it here except for the traffic noise which I am subjected to for about 21 hours a day; it's especially bad when the windows are open! When the apartment is closed up, it's more quiet, but I like letting the fresh air in (such as it is in a big city!) when the weather permits it! It's fairly quiet between about 1am and 4am! One of the most pleasant surprises is that there are FAR fewer sirens in this area than at my last apartment!

This apartment is maybe 600 square feet, compared to 850 square feet at the previous place I called home. There is some storage space here, which is much appreciated! 

I don't think I'll ever understand how apartment complexes can get away with not showing an actual apartment to prospective tenants. The manager of this complex showed me 4 or 5 photos on her computer and handed me a floor plan. I had to put a "holding deposit" on the apartment based on that limited information. However, since I knew I could no longer afford to live where I had been, not to mention that complex had gone to hell in the 5 years I lived there, I felt I had to go for it. 

The neighborhood seems safer, unless one is a pedestrian. Sidewalks are apparently not mandatory and it seems to be the property owner's choice whether they want to build their own sidewalk. This means pedestrians often have to walk in bike lanes, even on very busy streets! I am still trying to find places to walk. I've ventured off in several directions thus far; I miss being able to walk amongst million-dollar homes, as I did prior to my move. LOL!

My sewing room is in the "dining room." I need to find a loveseat or small sofa to replace the queen-size futon which takes up tooooo much of the living room. I've had to
get back to my sewing ... for Etsy, fairs, and wholesale orders, so haven't done much decorating yet. I sold my big antique work table (a farmhouse-size dining table) to a friend for about what I paid for it 8 years ago. I am considering selling this cupboard, though I'd need to find something to keep my new fabric in. I'd like a blind-door cupboard or, better yet, an antique dry sink; definitely something with old paint!

Well, I need to get going for now. Doctor's appointment then more sewing ... and hopefully I'll get a few more things listed in my Etsy shop before the day is over!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Big Decision Time!

I got a rent increase notice this week. They're raising my rent by $75/month as of August 1st. I have until June 20th to let the management know if I'm staying here, otherwise they will charge me the month-to-month rate which is $100 more than the new rent! I have lived in this apartment for 5 years. I am quiet and, if I do say so, I think I would be considered a good tenant. But I'm not sure this apartment is worth $910/month, at least in its current condition. There are two major problems with this apartment: a diesel fuel odor that nobody can identify and the ancient carpet. Both of these issues would need to be addressed and resolved if I am to stay here.

The "big decision" from the title of this blog mostly pertains to whether it's time for me to bail on California. If I stay here another year, am I just putting off the inevitable? Will there come a time that I absolutely can't afford to live here? It feels like that time may have arrived this week.

I have a friend in East Tennessee who has a small apartment building. She will have a vacancy as of September 1st, and says the apartment is mine if I want it. It's about the same size as my current apartment, but I am sure it is taken care of MUCH better! Oh, and the rent is less than half of what I'm currently paying. It's really hard to think that I could be paying $460/month rent! But I've never even set foot in Tennessee. Everyone I know who has an opinion about East Tennessee says it's beautiful. While that would be nice, I'd be moving primarily for the cheap rent! My Tennessee friend was an antiques dealer for many years and has said that we'd do shows together if I move out there. I also have a friend in the Dayton, Ohio area who would like someone to do shows with too. I have done craft fairs (aka "shows") all my life, mostly alone, so I don't need someone to do shows with, but the prospect of being able to show my primitive folk art at antiques shows, even if it were just a few things in my friend's booth, is very appealing. Over the years I have learned that shoppers who collect antiques are some of my best customers.

Then, to throw a monkey wrench into my already confused state, yesterday I was contacted by an employment agency recruiter about a year-long temp assignment in this area. The pay isn't fantastic, but it would be a job and I could then look for a new apartment (which I really can't do locally since I don't have a regular income). Today I decided I would check in with a few temp staffing agencies that I registered with many years ago. I check in with a handful of agencies on a regular basis, but there are other agencies which rarely, if ever, placed me after I registered with them and I mostly forgot about them. So I'm trying to track some of them down. The agency I contacted this morning is very excited about my law firm experience and may have an opportunity for me. This sounds like it would be a direct-hire position and the pay would be considerably better!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any input or suggestions for me, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SEO & Etsy

It seems like whenever I'm in the Etsy forums, I'm always trying to explain to sellers how to optimize their SEO (i.e., Search Engine Optimization). Here's a quick review I just did this morning. I chose one item at random from Alyssa's shop, AlyssaScarfer:

These are the tags she was using:
  • Accessories
  • Scarf
  • Knit
  • scarf
  • scarves
  • infinity scarf
  • infinity scarves
  • arm knit scarf
  • arm knitting
  • knit
  • tan infinity scarf
  • tan scarf
  • chunky knit scarf
  • chunky knit infinity
  • chunky knit scarves
  • soft scarf
My initial response to Alyssa was that she is wasting several tag slots. Etsy provides up to 3 categories and sub-categories for each item; these are the three capitalized words at the top of the list which serve double-duty as tags, so there's no need to waste a tag slot by repeating these words on their own! 2 tag slots saved!

Next, I explained how, when a seller is using a multiple word phrase, they don't need to repeat any of those words (in the same order) as separate tags. Since this seller has "tan infinity scarf," she didn't also need "infinity scarf" as a separate tag. 1 tag slot saved!

"Scarf" and "Scarves" show the exact same number of search results on Etsy; this means it's likely that shoppers are seeing the exact same items, so that's another tag slot which could be put to better use. I told Alyssa that I would use "scarf" since she's selling a single scarf, but it would seem not to matter. The same is true for "infinity scarf" and "infinity scarves" and, although this search result was actually off by ONE, it's still likely showing the same exact items (except for one!) since the number of search results is nearly identical. 2 tag slots saved!

Now, of course, comes the challenge of trying to think of five new tags to replace the ones which were just deleted. I have enough of a challenge trying to think of tags for my own items, so I ended my tag review at this point. :-)

Friday, December 13, 2013

I Just Bought the Winning Mega Millions Ticket!

Ok, everyone, you can go on back home now. You don't need to stand in line at the mini-marts, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. to buy a Mega Millions ticket for tonight. Why, you ask?

Because I just bought it!

I believe in the power of positive thinking, so if I think it, it will happen ... RIGHT?????

What would YOU do if you won $425 million dollars? 

Me? The first thing I'd do is celebrate because there's no state tax on lottery winnings where I live! Goodness knows the OTHER taxes are high enough to make up for that though. LOL!

Federal income tax is a whopping 35%. At least I think that's the highest federal income tax bracket. Since I would probably take the cash payment (I am north of 50 ...), that takes a big chunk right off the top.

So back to what I would will do when I win tonight! Near the top of the list is buy a house. But WHERE? After all, I can now afford to live ANYWHERE I want to live! I've always thought I'd enjoy living on the Coast, and probably the California coast, as I don't relish the thought of dealing with hurricanes (which rules out much/most of the East Coast and pretty much all of the Gulf states, not that I can see myself living in the South in the first place! Capitola is my favorite beach town here in California, but I'll take some time to travel a bit just to be sure that I still want to stay in the U.S. With a gazillion dollars just less than $425 million dollars to invest, I'd like to think that even Canada would take me now! But, yeah, I'd probably stay in the U.S. I don't have any ties to Canada these days (R.I.P. Chris). Other than the South, I also don't want to live where there's a LOT of snow, so that rules out about 2/3 of the country. I'll have to think about this one some more!

I would buy a new vehicle. My current transportation is a 1998 Toyota Tacoma. She's holding up very well, and I might just keep her for a 2nd vehicle, at least for awhile. My current taste in vehicular transportation runs towards small and medium size SUV type vehicles. Maybe a Subaru Forrester, but probably something just a bit bigger. I used to really want a Nissan Pathfinder, but the current model looks a lot like a minivan and that doesn't appeal to me! I've got a few friends who are really into cars, so I will be seeking their advice.

Once I have my new home, I would buy more primitive antiques. I've had an early dry sink on the top of my antiques shopping list for several years. Suddenly $1,000 doesn't seem like a lot of money for one piece of furniture! I would need more furniture (much of it antiques) to furnish my home. I would finally be able to go to Round Top and Brimfield and, best of all, I would be able to buy pretty much anything I wanted at both shows!  

I would donate some money here and there. I just saw a story on CBS News about a "Secret Santa" who gives out $100 to random strangers. I like that idea!

And that's as far as I've gotten so far. Oh yeah, I have to let that temp agency know that I won't be returning to the law firm in January. Or maybe I will go back to work anyway ... I really do like having some "structure" in my day; otherwise, I just end up playing games on Facebook and eating too much ... while waiting for the "cha ching" from the Etsy app, letting me know that I've made another sale in my Etsy shop!

Ok, your turn! What would YOU do if you were the Mega Millions winner tonight ... instead of me? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

This ALWAYS Freaks Me Out!

This is the second or third time I've seen one of my creations in an Etsy ad on Facebook. Pretty cool, eh?

And here's where you can adopt this charming pumpkin fellow!