This is a useful trick if you use Twitter. TwitterFeed will take the RSS feed from your shop and when you list new items it will send tweets through your account announcing them. Here's how it works:

1: Set up an account on TwitterFeed
2: Click Create New Feed
3: Input your Twitter username and password
4: Input the URL for your RSS Feed
5: Select update frequency. Every hour is usually good.
6: Select the maximum number of tweets it will send at once. This is important, send too many automatic tweets about your items and your followers will get annoyed. I use 3 and I wouldn't go over 5 especially if you add new items very frequently.
7: Include title and decription. Probably a good idea to leave this alone but if you want you could have only titles displayed.
8: Prefix each tweet with: Write something short and simple to go at the beginning such as "New from my shop:"
9: Click Create to start sending your feed to twitter. You should see the tweets show up the next time you list an item for sale.

If you have multiple shops or want to include your blog as well just repeat steps 2-9 again. I would suggest that the more feeds you have the fewer max tweets you set for each feed since if you have 2 feeds set to 5 and update both with 5 or more items in an hour Twitterfeed is going to send 10 tweets to your timeline.

So you've signed up for Google Adwords or Project Wonderful and set up a few ads but you're not getting clicks. Now there are several things that might be causing this problem, maybe you're targeting the wrong sites or keywords, you're bidding too low, or your ads aren't inviting clicks. The first two are for a later post, today I'm going to focus on the third: making an ad that gets clicks.

As a disclaimer, I'm not an advertising professional this advice comes from my own research and experience not any formal training. Like any of my posts please take this as a starting point upon which to build your own ideas and do further research.

Text Ads
The most basic ads are of course simple text ads such as those sponsored links beside Google search results. These can be the hardest to create, a graphic ad you can show your products with text you can to attract interest without the benefit of someone seeing what you sell. Simply stating what you sell isn't enough.

The headline for your ads is what people will see first since it's usually in a larger font size and different color than the rest of the ad. Grab attention with it “Handmade Soap” just isn't that interesting compared to “Delicious Blueberry Muffin Soap”. That second headline makes you want to find out if the soap really smell like blueberry muffins and maybe if it shaped like one. You can also use it to ask a question like “Are you looking for vegan candles?” this will grab the attention not only of people interested in vegan candles but pique curiosity in those not sure what they are. Use a call to action, words like buy, purchase, order, etc. it encourages a user to click if they are looking to shop. Don't forget your keywords, try to slip one or two big ones in your headline and more in the rest of the text.

After you have a good headline you can use the rest of the ad text to elaborate on your products. Describe what your products are made of, are they organic, are they precious metal or other premium material like angora, silk, etc. Suggest a use, gift for mother's day, pamper yourself, pamper you pet, etc. If you're having a sale or promotion create an ad to promote it and get the word out.

Graphic Ads
Many graphic ads also contain text and you should follow many of the same principles for that text as you do for writing a plain text ad. Okay, now what should the graphics be? Most ads aren't that large so choose product photos that are clear even when reduced in size. Even better shoot new photos specifically for your ads so you can fit them within the size constraints of your ads. I find shooting photos for banner ads to be especially tricky because of the combination of narrow height and wide width.

Animation or not? Animated ads can definitely grab attention but can also be very annoying. If you choose to create animated ads don't make them rapidly flash especially between bright colors. Aim for an animation speed that any text is easily read before changing and your photos can be absorbed. Most animated ads are still .gifs (though an increasing amount are flash) which are limited to 256 colors that means the quality of your photos will be reduced so choose carefully.

General Advice
Look at other ads. Take time to see what other ads look like and what words they use. If you see an ad that catches your attention take a close look and try to figure out why. Test multiple ads and see which come out on top.

Here are some links to more articles on creating web ads.
How do I optimize my ad text? - From Google Adwords Help
Ads, Writing Effective Print
Write the ad, I pray you

If you haven't thought about doing any art or craft shows this summer now if the time to decide. A lot of shows have registration deadlines in April and May. I almost missed the deadline for a show I really wanted to do, I managed to get one of only 2 spots left.

If you want help getting ready for a show check out this Squidoo lens: Preparing for an Art or Craft Festival

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After beta testing it's API with some developers Etsy has now opened it's API up to anyone who would like to develop tools using it. They've also launched their Developer Community which has discussion forums for developers along with a list of applications using the API. This is pretty big news for sellers because it opens up a lot of new possibilities.

First off what is an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. When software developers "publish" their code — to a website or to the iPhone for example — in essence, they display information to you in new ways and give you tools. What an API does is organize code into usable streams of data for other developers to work with. In the case of Etsy, our company's engineers can open the doors to third party developers, who can then innovate and create new tools for Etsians (some of these developers are motivated because their friends or relatives sell on Etsy; some charge a fee to use their tools; or some simply "craft code" for the love of making things and may ask for donations to support their efforts). An API is basically a set of tools that allows developers to build new applications based on the unique data and capabilities provided by, in this case,
To give a few examples of how developers use APIs consider all the Facebook Apps there are available for users or all the tools for Twitter users. Those are all built using an API.

So what does this mean for Etsy seller? New tools and lots of them. Now that any third party developer who wants to can create tools for sellers there will be lots to choose from. Some already using the API from the beta testing are Etsy Hacks, Maker Spot, CraftCult, and SoopSee. I've already reviewed Etsy Hacks and CraftCult's Heartomatic before but I'm eager to try out the other two new tools and review them here soon. In the next few months I expect an explosion of new tools for sellers, some great, probably a lot that are so-so, and probably a few really bad ones.

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I've been writing on Squidoo for about 2 years now, I have over 140 pages (called lenses) on various topics. This blog was actually a way to take what I had been doing with some of my Squidoo lenses and make it more focused. So here's a rundown of the lenses I've written, I hope you find them useful.

Make your Handmade Products Stand Out - Using Creative Packaging
Preparing for an Art or Craft Festival
Tools for Etsy Sellers
Running a Handmade Business
How To Make Your Own Business Cards
Selling Handmade Jewelry Online
Using Twitter to Promote your Handmade Business
Etsy Sellers: What is your favorite way to promote?
Using Squidoo to Promote Your Handmade Business
Branding Your Handmade Products

As I'm always saying packaging matters. It really makes a difference to your customers to open up a plain shipping box to see a beautifully packaged item. However not all handmade products are as easy to package as jewelry, soap, or other small items. Some may just be very large, or fragile so safety when shipping is a higher priority than pretty, or maybe you ship in an envelope so space is limited. How do you package a fragile lamp or vase and still be able to pack it securely for shipping? Here are a few ideas:

  • Tags. Make or have printed some pretty tags and tie it on with a colorful ribbon or string.
  • Tissue/wrapping paper. If you have to wrap an item with bubble wrap or packing paper use some colored tissue paper as the first wrapping layer. Then as they upwrap the packing materials they get to this final colorful layer right before their item.
  • Colored bubblewrap. Yes, you can get bubble wrap in several colors. One place online that sells it is Fast-Pack.
  • Stickers. Instead of plain tape securing bubblewrap or a box use a custom printed sticker.
  • Boxes. A very secure way to pack some items is to double box them (pack the item in one box then nestle it in a larger box with packing peanuts cushioning). Boxes give you the option of decorating them with a label.
  • Flat or rectangular items. If you make cards or anything rectangular an easy way to package is to cut a strip of colorful paper, wrap it around the item(s), tape the ends together on the bottom, then use a sticker or rubber stamp to add your label to the top. Soap makers often use this type of packaging so go check out Etsy's soap section to see some examples.

I hope this gives you a few ideas for sending out those harder to package items. I'm sure there are many ways to package that I haven't listed. Just be creative and have a little fun with your packaging. There's a great group of Etsy sellers on Flickr showing off their packaging.

So I recently read this post on Etsy Marketing about Promo Packs but also this thread about them on the Etsy forums. People definitely seem divided on whether they're a good idea. With this controversy over promo packs you should really think about whether or not it fits your business. Also keep in mind that if your shipping very light or thin items a promo pack may increase your shipping costs some depending on the type of shipping your using.

Personally I like the idea, it's a simple little extra to include in your orders, cheap marketing, and I like getting free stuff. However keep in mind that your packs should have balance, I don't think anyone likes just getting a bunch of business cards in a zip bag. So If you decide to do a promo pack swap make sure you are getting not just business cards but also samples or other freebies like stickers, bookmarks, etc.

I've said it before and I'm going to keep repeating it: packaging matters. Make your promo packs look like a gift. One idea would be to get some little cello bags or colored cellophane (the crisp kind for gifts not the soft stuff for saving leftovers) and tie it off with a little ribbon and a tag.

Time again for another showcase of great handmade business links I've come across lately.

First a few pieces of Etsy news:
Tech Update: Pay Your Etsy Bill with PayPal Now Available
Tech Updates: Improving Search

Some useful new sites:
Craftopolis Search to see if you are currently in any Etsy treasuries
Modish Biz Tips To go along withe already great Modish Marketing is now a collection of business tips from Modish.

I was recently contacted by a customer who had a suggestion that I can't believe never occurred to me because it's so simple. If you sell wire hook style earrings include those little rubber stoppers so they can be worn more securely.

These are also useful if you display your earrings on hang cards at shows they they won't fall off the cards when people handle them.

These are really easy to find, most jewelry supply stores carry them as do most department store jewelry sections (but in smaller quantities and they cost more). You'll usually pay between $2-$5 for 100, even less if you buy in bulk.

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I found this tip on the Etsy forums posted by roundabout. She noticed that her husband had some problems navigating shops because the link at the top back to the shop is not very prominent, this is her solution:
This got me thinking to how I could more easily get shoppers into my shop from my listings. I decided to add this to the bottom of each of my listings:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Enter my shop here:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I've had this up for a couple of weeks and this is what I've found:

Hearts are more evenly distributed throughout my shop, not just concentrated on my first page of items.
Normally when you type a url into Etsy it won't be a link unless it leads to a page on Etsy like your shop. So it's worth it to add a link at the bottom if item listings to help get visits back to your shop's front page, the more people browse aroudn your shop the more likely they are to buy something.