Posts in the ‘The Business Of The Internet’ Category

Check out a Maker Faire Near You!

maker-faire

This weekend I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California and it was awesome!  As a maker myself, I was totally inspired. It's a combination of DIY, technology, and crafting.

There are Maker Faires all over the US and all over the world. Since many of you are makers yourselves, I recommend one.

My highlights...

Here's an Ultimaker 3D printer printing a plastic bowl. When the prices drop, I am definitely getting one.

ultimaker-printer

Instead of origami, this display was made of tape, hence the name "tapigami."

maker-faire

A car with animatronic fish and lobsters that dance when the car stereo blasts.

maker-faire

An aircraft carrier built completely out of Legos.

maker-faire

An entire floor full of Legos for kids to build.

maker-faire

A Kickstarter funded company called Roominate, started by two women engineers at Stanford, to inspire girls to build their own dollhouses. My daughter has one and loves it!

roominate-toy

Another Kickstarter funded company called Goldie Blox, also started by a female Stanford engineer, to teach girls about engineering. We bought the game at Maker Faire for my daughter, but they will be in Toys R Us soon.

goldie-blox

Foam interlocking shapes to build stuff with from a company called Itsphun. We bought the starter pack and now they are all over our living room in lots of crazy shapes and combinations.

itsphun

I heard Brit Morin from Brit+Co speak about what inspired her to start her company. An artist was right by the stage, drawing an image of her speech.

brit+co

And here she is... I wish I had a photo of her shoes because they were fantastic.

brit-morin

And here's my little maker (who believes she can make anything) building a structure with wood.

maker-faire

6 Cool Companies from the MamaBear Conference

toca-boca-2

Last week I went to a conference called MamaBear, which was a family tech conference. I saw so many great family-oriented companies, I had to share my favorites...

toca-boca

Toca Boca makes digital games for kids and my daughter can't get enough! We have every single one of their games. They are interactive, fun, and very open-ended, which I think leads to more creative play. Her favorite game is definitely Hair Salon 2 (see above). You can see the crazy hairstyles she comes up with. Possible career choice?

urban-sitter

I just started using UrbanSitter about a month ago to find babysitters, and what I love about the site is it enables me to find babysitters recommended by my friends and people in my community. It makes me feel much more comfortable leaving my daughter with some one new. With UrbanSitter, there's no more freaking out on a Saturday night with no one to watch my kid!

citrus-lane

I was so inspired listening to the CEO of Citrus Lane, Mauria Finley. She is a woman who loves what she does and loves providing value to moms. If you have a baby or young child, you should check them out. They will provide you with the latest and greatest in baby and kid products, and the best part... it's like getting a present in the mail each month.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 3.39.43 PM

I had never heard of Life360, but once I did, I downloaded their app immediately. It's a simple way to keep track of your family, see where they all are, and stay in touch quickly and easily. Brilliant, right? This is the perfect site for today's mobile family.

artkive

ArtKive is an app I also downloaded right away. It's a way to store all your kids' artwork without having to buy a new filing cabinet. I just take a picture of my daughter's latest creation, tag it, and it gets stored by ArtKive. I can then share it with friends and family or even create beautiful books of her art.  I know what the grandparents will be getting for Christmas this year...

kiwi_crate_logo_2x

Kiwi Crate delivers a box filled with fun projects to your kids (ages 3-7) each month. Each box has a theme, so your kids get to create, explore, and discover all on their own (or with a little help from you). Perfect for a rainy day activity when you kids tell you they're bored!

I'm always on the hunt for sites that make our families' lives better. If you have any recommendations, please add them in a comment or on Facebook. I'd love to discover them.

 

Have You Heard of Kickstarter Yet?

Have you heard of Kickstarter yet? If you haven't, it's a "funding platform for creative ideas." And what does that mean? Well, it's a very cool way for creative people to raise money for their projects.

Here's how it works: the person with the project sets his or her funding goal and deadline for raising money. If the project reaches it's goal in the time allotted, the people who "back" the project have their credit cards charged and the person receives their funding. If the goal isn't reached, the person receives no funding and no credit cards are charged.

I thought since we are such a creative community, I had to to share about it. Also, I'm very excited because I just contributed to my first Kickstarter project called Roominate: Make it Yours!

Roominate is a "toy that makes every young girl an artist, an engineer, an architect, and a visionary!" Given that I have a daughter, and I want her to know there's nothing she can't do, I couldn't think of a better project for her.  Also, since they've reached their funding goal of $25,000, I will actually get a sample Roominate room sent to me for the cost of my donation ($49).

Here's a video about Roominate: Make it Yours!

Clever, right?

So if you have a creative project you want to get off the ground and need a little funding, Kickstarter might be worth checking out. Also, if you want to see what cool ideas people are dreaming up these days, take a look. It's a very fun site to browse.

SkinnyScoop - Your Cheatsheet to Everything

I had the pleasure of talking with Eden Godsoe , founder of SkinnyScoop. When she told me about her "list making" platform and site, I knew she had to share it with our readers. Come on, what woman doesn't love a good list!

How many of you get your best information from your go-to girlfriend or that mom maven who shares her knowledge and recommendations with the rest of us? Well, it just got a lot easier.

Meet SkinnyScoop, a place where women come to create, discover, and share all of the things they know and love.

Whether you're planning a birthday party for one of your kids, or thinking about of all the graduation gifts you need to buy, the SkinnyScoop platform makes it easy and fun to keep track of everything you need by creating lists.

Moms use SkinnyScoop lists to catalogue their favorite iPhone apps, put together travel tips and stockpile family friendly recipes.

Hungry for some inspiration? Check out this fun list from Jessica M, who lives in North Carolina. She used her list to organize all of the things she wanted to buy for her son's pirate-themed birthday party:

After you've created your list, you can e-mail or post it to Facebook with one click. The bonus to putting your collection of items into a SkinnyScoop list is that your research and favorites live on long after an e-mail is deleted or a Facebook post is buried. You can find or update your list on SkinnyScoop.com anytime you get a new idea.

Not a natural list maker? That's OK - you can visit and see what other moms have shared if you're just looking for expertise. From the best green baby toys to maternity must-haves, new lists from those in the know are popping up daily. SkinnyScoop is your virtual cheat sheet to everything.

So what are you waiting for? Come "unleash your inner Oprah" and be recognized for your knowledge and influence.

Women use SkinnyScoop's social curation platform, including collaborative list building tools, to share and discover parenting tips, product recommendations, travel advice, go-to books and apps, and much more. The SkinnyScoop network reaches more than 300,000 women each month and includes SkinnyScoop.com alongside 400 blogs and content partners.

Thanks, Eden. If you could see the lists on my desk right now, you'd know how much I need SkinnyScoop!

For Etsy Shop Owners: Making Tags & Descriptions Work for You

I’m excited to bring you Part 3 in our series directed at Etsy Shop owners.  This is another guest post from Natalie Gowen, a marketing expert who focusing on helping Etsy shop owners increase sales and visibility.

If you haven't already checked out her Part 1 on How to Charm the Etsy Search Engine and Part 2 on Tips and Tricks for Discovering the Right Keywords, you might want to read those first.

And now, we get to learn about tags and descriptions, and how to make them work for you... Take it away Natalie!

Now that you have your keyword down pat and your listing title is brimming with them, it’s time to move on to your item description and your tags.

PAINT A VIVID PICTURE

The description is mostly for your viewers, to help them fully understand what their money will get them. However, sprinkling in a few of the primary keywords and a few secondary ones will help you come up in the search results – if not on Etsy, definitely on Google.

And hey, who wouldn’t love a little bit of love from Google!

But really, as far as the Etsy results go, descriptions don’t really boost your results – so here’s your chance to really write for the people rather than the robots.

Give them what they want to know before parting with their money.

  • Be thorough, try to give people an understanding of the product as if they were holding it in their hand.
  • Put yourself in their shoes – what questions would you want answered?
  • List any exclusions or limitations
  • Describe the materials used
  • Give ideas for coordinating products in your shop
TAG -- YOU'RE IT!

Tags on the other hand are not at all important for Google, but they are very important for the Etsy results.

Remember that list of keywords? You picked the most important one and put it in your title. But there are plenty of other keywords and phrases that are relevant to your item. They tap into the “long tail” results of a keyword search.

The long tail is marketing speak for all the people who don’t search by the most popular keyword or phrase. If 35 percent of people looking for a bunting banner type in “bunting banner” there’s still a large share of the market that uses other terms like flag banner, party banner, fabric banner, etc.

fabric-or-fiction-christmas-bunting
Photo courtesy of Fabric or Fiction

To make sure you don't lose this larger share of the market, fill your tags with these outlying phrases.

Here’s a few helpful tips for getting it right:

  • Because the bots are looking for exact matches, use short phrases – two to three words at the most.
  • Use as many of your keywords as you can.
  • Add in descriptive words – texture, color, size, style
Also – check out the Etsy Seller’s Handbook. There are strict rules about making sure your tagging is relevant. They’re mostly for people trying to trick the system into pulling up their listings.

If you’re not trying to be sneaky, you’ll be just fine in most cases – but it’s always wise to be up to date on those policies.

Thank you once again for all your insights and knowledge, Natalie!

Natalie is a craft-a-holic with a wickedly nerdy marketing streak. Her blog, MoxieTonic.com is the love child of her two passions – educating, enlightening and empowering Etsy-shops owners towards greater success through tried and true business practices. Check out the blog or follow her on Facebook.

Also, if you are an Etsy shop owner and haven’t joined our Catch My Party Etsy team, please do so! We will be announcing our second Design Challenge just in time for Valentine's Day. Did you see our first one?

 

 

 

 

 

For Etsy Shop Owners: Tips and Tricks for Discovering the Right Keywords

I'm excited to bring you Part 2 in our series directed at Etsy Shop owners.  This is a guest post from Natalie Gowen, a marketing expert who focusing on helping Etsy shop owners increase sales and visibility.

So without further adieu, take it away, Natalie...

Customers get on Etsy with a picture in their mind. They’ve imagined the perfect party for their kiddo and they have to somehow translate that picture into words to begin a search. If you can get inside their mind and figure out what words they’re going to use – you have hit the search engine jackpot!

In my last post I talked about coming up with a list of possible keywords. There are undoubtedly some golden phrases on your list – but how do  you separate the good ones from the duds?

Google It! Of course.

Google is a treasure trove of Internet data. Every day millions of people enter searches on their site – and Google, being a smart little cookie, keeps track of this data.

Then, because Google is great at sharing information, it lets you see just how many searches are performed on any keyword or phrase you can dream of. And even though it’s Google’s data, you can bet if people search for it on Google, they search for it on Etsy too.

To access the data you need to visit Google AdWords. This is where Google sells the ads that appear at the top and side of your search results. Their keyword research tool is going to tell you how popular a search term is and give you ideas for alternatives.

Take your list of keyword ideas and go to Google AdWords Keyword Tool. For the sake of this example I’m going to be searching keywords for my delicious cake pops. (Photo courtesy of The Sweet Source Cake Pops)

When you open up the keyword tool:

  • Take the most basic description of your item as your first keyword to search
  • Enter it in the “Word or phrase” box
  • Select “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms”
  • Jump throw the CAPTCHA hoop and prove you are a human being
  • Hit "Search"
Understanding your results

The first row shows you the results for your exact phrase. In the case of cake pops – 368,000 people search this term on Google every month. This is a lot of people! Granted, not all these people are looking to buy, but it’s a great indication of the popularity of my product.

etsy-google-adwords-keyword-tool

The next set of information is Keyword Ideas. This is the area where you can find alternative keywords for your title listing.

etsy-google-adwords-keyword-tool

 

etsy-google-adwords-keyword-tool

The cake pop results tell me a couple of things.

  • Most people are searching for recipes or tutorials on making cake pops
  • When searching for cake pops, people like to enter in the occasion they are shopping for
  • Baby boy cake pops, bridal shower cake pops, etc.
  • They also like to look for the ingredients – red velvet cake pops, chocolate cake pops, etc.
This little window into the shoppers mind is priceless.

When I go back to Etsy to write my product title, I’m going to try and incorporate the last two search methods as I come up with my title. I should also repeat the process with a variety of keywords to see which one yields the best results.

Actual Title Options

  • "Cake Pops." This is a hugely popular term. A general rule of thumb is to make sure you have about 5,000 monthly searches. In this case we have over 300K.
  • I want to tell people what the occasion is. So I could add “Baby Shower” to the title
  • People want to know what’s inside that pretty frosting. So my title becomes “Baby Shower Cake Pops, Dark Chocolate Cake Pops”
Adding this last bit to the listing not only tells people what’s in it, but it gives me a chance to sneak my keyword into the title a second time. This plays right into the search engine bots hands. The more times it sees the phrase in your title, the higher ranking you’ll get.

Keep in mind that the closer the keywords are to the front of your title, the more weight it gets. So I might want to rearrange my title to put cake pop at the front: Cake Pops: Baby Shower Cake Pops made with Dark Chocolate.

And that’s it! No need to be cutesy or creative with your titles. Pour all your creativity into your product and the product photo - that’s what pulls people into your listing. The title is more for the robots – so speak their language with tons of key phrases!

Thank you, Natalie, your posts are always so enlightening!

And stay tuned for Part 3 of our series...

Natalie is a craft-a-holic with a wickedly nerdy marketing streak. Her blog, MoxieTonic.com is the love child of her two passions - educating, enlightening and empowering Etsy-shops owners towards greater success through tried and true business practices. Check out the blog or follow her on Facebook.

Also, if you are an Etsy shop owner and haven't joined our Catch My Party Stuff Etsy team, please do so! We have a lot of great stuff planned.

Our First Catch My Party Etsy Team Designer Challenge... Snowflakes

I just started a team on Etsy called Catch My Party. It's open to ANY Etsy shop owner who sells party related products AND  who joins the free Catch My Party vendor directory.

I'm also kicking off our first Etsy Team Designer Challenge for the holidays.  The theme is "snowflakes."

By entering and designing items that incorporate the theme, not only will you get a chance to show off your handmade "snowflake" holiday goods on our site, but you could also win an HP Officejet 7500A Printer.

So here's how you enter:

  • Have an Etsy shop
  • List yourself in our free Catch My Party vendor directory: catchmyparty.com/vendors (Click on the light blue link in the upper right-hand corner of the page that says "Add your listing to our vendor directory." If you're not a member, please join our site, then head back to the vendor page to fill in your info. Once you're done you should see your listing immediately on our vendor page.)
  • Add your handmade snowflake-themed items to your Etsy shop by midnight (PST) November 30th and tag them "CMPsnowflake."
  • You will automatically be entered into our HP Officejet 7500A Printer giveaway.
After the deadline, we will feature all your snowflake items on our site. I will also be posting my top 10 favorites.

Then I will do a random drawing on Thursday, December 1st to determine the winner of our printer giveaway!

Happy crafting! I can't wait to see what you come up with! And please share this challenge with all your Etsy teams and Etsy circles.

For Etsy Shop Owners: How to Charm the Etsy Search Engine

I met Natalie Gowen at Bloggy Bootcamp Denver. She is an a marketing expert who focusing on helping Etsy shop owners increase sales and visibility.

I asked Natalie if she would do a few guest posts directed at our Etsy shop owners on how to get your listings on the front page of Etsy. Here's what she had to say...

SEO

It stands for search engine optimization. And it’s so boring it can put you to sleep before you even get to the end of the sentence. But changes to the way Etsy displays search results has suddenly made understanding SEO the only way to keep your listings in front of buyers.

Even buying ads requires a little SEO knowledge. The shops that get it, end up on the first page of search results. The shops that don’t, are watching their business dwindle.

SEARCH ENGINE WORKER BOTS

Every search engine – whether it’s Google or Etsy – relies on little robots to comb the Internet and catalog all the pages. It’s not a small job. There are lots of little bots scurrying from site to site and from page to page trying to make sense of it all.

When an Etsy robot views a new product listing, it doesn’t look at the page the same way we do. Our eyes immediately focus in on the fabulous product photos that show us color and size. and tell us immediately what we are looking at. This is what you see from The Things I Sell on Etsy.


This is what you see

This is what a search engine bot sees:

search-engine-bot-code
What the search engine bot sees

Your web browser translates this mess of letters and numbers into rows and columns, separating words from pictures and rendering a pretty web page. But all the search engine bot cares about is a few key indicators that tell it what the listing is.

By placing words and phrases in key places within the code you help the bot identify and catalog the listing. The next time someone searches for something using the keywords in your listing – the little bot says – “Oh! I’ve got the perfect match” and pops your product on the front page.

GET READY TO SPEAK SOME ROBOT

Lucky for us, Etsy takes all the hard work of SEO off your plate and leaves you with the easiest bits.

The words you enter into your listing titles and product tags are placed in the code right where the bots will look. All you need to do is load the title (especially the title) and the tags with tons keywords that buyers use in their search.

GET IN THE RIGHT MIND FRAME

Finding the right keywords is going to make all the difference – if you miss the mark you won’t get found. So it’s worth it to spend some time researching your keywords.

There are lots of technical ways to come up with keywords but the first step is to brainstorm. Start with a pen and paper (and maybe even a thesaurus):

  •  Write down as many adjectives as you can think of to describe your product: color, texture, materials, alternate product names
  • Ask a friend to help you – go through the same exercise with them
  •  Check out your competitors – what keywords are they using in their listings?
  •  Get someone totally unfamiliar with your craft or product to describe it
Most importantly, stop thinking like a seller and try and crawl inside the mind of a buyer. Which elements would become most important to you when searching for a product?

This list is the first step in determining the right keywords to use in your titles and tags. Next week we’ll talk about how to decide which ones are going to get you the best results.

Thank you, Natalie!

Natalie is a craft-a-holic with a wickedly nerdy marketing streak. Her blog, MoxieTonic.com is the love child of her two passions - educating, enlightening and empowering Etsy-shops owners towards greater success through tried and true business practices. Check out the blog or follow her on Facebook.

Also, if you are an Etsy shop owner and haven't joined our Catch My Party Stuff Etsy team, please do so! We have a lot of great stuff planned.

 

 

The Creative Process in Blogging (and Life) - My Presentation from Bloggy Bootcamp Denver

I just got back from Bloggy Bootcamp in Denver where I spoke about the "creative process."

Having been a writer all of my life, I understand the creative process from the inside out -- both how hard it is to create, but also how rewarding it can be.

Here's the presentation I put together with the tools I use everyday to get my work done. I hope you find this useful as part of your creative journey.

Also, if you are looking for a one-day conference with supportive women and lots of relevant information about taking your blog to the next level, I highly recommend Bloggy Bootcamp. Tiffany and Francesca, the women behind the conference, are both smart, engaging, warm, and know what they're doing. You will learn a ton and walk away with new friends, I promise.

The Creative Process in Blogging (and Life)

How to Brand Your Blog by Amy Bradley-Hole

I love Amy Bradley-Hole of TheBeeDot. She's a brazen, funny, Southern gal with big hair and good advice.

She spoke at Bloggy Bootcamp San Diego about how to brand your blog. She broke it down into these five questions, which I think are so right on at helping us bloggers figure out what's unique and special about our blogs.

1) What are my distinguishing characteristics and personality traits? (How would my friends describe me?)

2) What are my guiding principles and values? (What values do I live by? Things that don't change about me.)

3) What is my role on the web? (What service do I provide?)

4) What is my promise? (To my readers, followers, customers, etc...)

5) What is my story? (What brought me to this point in my life?)

What I love about these questions is that it gets you to your own personal mission statement, something you can revisit over and over again to keep you focused and on track.

Thanks Amy, you've given me a lot to think about.

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