Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall-time Knitting

It's fall again and while I haven't posted in a while, I am thinking about what projects I can start working on. As I near the completion of the first year in my MBA Program, I am taking note of the many things I have been required to set aside so that I can find time for my studies. Knitting and other fabric related projects have been one of those things.

Yet, as the cool weather sets in, I cannot help but think about all of the scarves and hats and mittens I would like to create as gifts for my family and friends. How do I find the time?

Stop by and share your new fall projects. At a minimum, I hope to live vicariously through you.

For inspiration, check out this "Either-Or Capelet" I found in Fringe's Etsy shop or this "Blooming Trim Scarf in Thistle" I found in Fray's Etsy shop.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Craft Fairs

Recently, I have been searching for craft fairs. Obviously, I must be looking in the wrong place - I have yet to find a local craft fair. Although many from across the country are advertised as upcoming - there seems to be a fascination in the western part of the country with craft fairs.

So you ask... what's so special about craft fairs? Why do you want to know? I am interested in what's new as well as the opportunity to sell my own merchandise from TabiHats (my Etsy shop). Locally, many may be looking forward to summer; however, Fall is right around the corner and once again moms will begin the search for hats and scarves for their precious little one. Knit products to protect infants and babies from the cold, inclement weather of Fall and Winter.

So, each week I conduct Google searches to no avail. Well let me clarify, to no avail locally - I have found numerous craft fairs in every state but Ohio. Are we Ohioans not participating in craft fairs or do we not advertise them? If you live in the tri-state area - Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, please provide any information you have available on upcoming craft fairs. Also, how did you find out about them? Perhaps you can give me some search tips.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Knitting For Dummies

When I learned to knit, I learned the "throwing" technique. Due to my lack of patience, I never learned any other techniques nor did I have any interest. Yes, call me the lazy knitter. This is the precise reason I learned to crochet - the basic stitches are a lot easier to master. (In my humble opinion) I am sure there are master knitters who would beg to differ. Don't get your panties in a bunch, I already admitted that I am a lazy knitter.

So while surfing the net... as I always do, I decided to make a pit stop at You-Tube. The sole purpose - to find a knitting tutorial. I was not disappointed - I found a great knitting tutorial by Craft Sanity highlighting the differences between the throwing and continental knitting techniques. Who could ask for anything more?  So, tonight in between being a mom, wife, and student (again) I plan to try the continental technique.

Watch the video THEN wish me luck! 

Friday, May 2, 2008

Project Wonderful - Update

On April 5, 2008, I created a Project Wonderful account with the goal of selling advertising space on my blog. Today, is May 2, 2008, almost one month since the activation of the account. I plan to keep my account open for a few more months to test things out, but I cannot say that I am overly impressed with the service.

First of all, I have three available ad spaces for sale on my blog through Project Wonderful. (Not to be confused with the ad space I sell direct with payments made via PayPal.) Additionally, I have played around with the daily cost of the ad space to determine the price that will generate the most interest. Currently, I reside at about .30 cents per day which equates to a whopping $9.00 per month... IF the owner of the ad remains on my blog for an entire month. If this were the case, I would be ecstatic. Who doesn't mind making a few extra bucks simply for doing what you love. I would blog whether I utilized Project Wonderful ads or not. Herein lies the conundrum. By using Project Wonderful, I am required to daily check their website for the following reasons:

  1. New Ad Approval. To be fair, you can allow ads to auto-accept and populate your blog/website. I am not comfortable with this concept. I may only visit my blog once daily and I do not want ads posting that I deem questionable without my knowledge. Therefore, my Project Wonderful settings state that new ads must be approved by me, while previously posted ads can be auto-accepted and populate my blog. This a great segue into my next point.

  2. Ad Turnover. My ad space is bid upon it seems all day long with new bidders outbidding old bidders which requires me to check Project Wonderful multiple times per day to make sure I can keep up with all of the new bidders. My experience, is that not only are originally approved ads outbid by new ads now requiring my approval, the approved bidders often voluntarily remove their ads anytime between 6 to 24 hours.

  3. Insufficient Funds. At least twice per week, I have to remove an ad because the advertiser has insufficient funds to cover the cost of the ad.

In light of all of the above activity, I have approved a new ad almost daily, sometimes two or three different bidders within the same day. Within the month, it seems possible that I would have accumulated at a minimum $9.00 in ad sales. Right? Well, let me provide you with the actual statistics:

  • Almost 30 days using Project Wonderful
  • 8 different advertisers
  • 57 ads generated by those 8 advertisers
  • Insufficent funds requiring ad removal at least 2 times per week
  • $2.01 profit

So, I ask myself... is all of the time and energy worth it? I will decide within the next 60 days. What's your feedback?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogs as Marketing Tools

When I began blogging two years ago, I was amazed by this new world that had opened up to me. Up until that point I had never heard of a blog. I thought, "Blog? What's that... a new type of slime only found on Nickelodeon?" I then became very concerned about the purpose of blogging. I remember thinking, "Who puts their personal information on the Internet?" Only weirdoes not afraid of being stalked by other weirdoes would put their personal information on the Internet!"

After conducting some research of my own, I discovered that this is not the case. That Web Logs also known as Blogs have a great deal of valid uses. Over the course of the last two years, I have seen writers develop blogs to assist in the book writing process not to mention increase potential readership. I have seen the emergence of writers as they hone their craft. I have seen news and radio stations use blogs to increase news coverage. Additionally, I have seen blogs used for both personal and business purposes.

As a crafter a common question I receive from other crafters new to the blog scene is... "Do blogs really help generate business?" Yes, I absolutely believe that blogs help generate business. The real question is how much. Unfortunately I cannot answer this question, but I can say that the benefit for small and large business owners alike is increased exposure. In the black hole we call the Internet; it is easy to be lost in cyberspace. Regular blog posting increase your searchability on the Internet thus increasing the number of opportunities that a potential buyer may find you. For example I have a dog. Last week, I was not looking for a new dog collar, but I was checking out a new blog someone told me about. When reading the blog, I discovered the blog author has a shop where she sells custom handmade dog collars. I now am in the market to purchase a custom dog collar. Looking at this from another angle, you may be in the market to purchase tea accessories - so you conduct a Google search. Amazingly, the search results return a vast number of links to websites and blogs whose tags and posts contain the phrase "tea accessories."

Another common question I have been asked, "Do people prefer blogs that are business related, personal or a little of both?" My number one answer... Your blog is what you want it to be. You will never be everything to everybody. Focus on what is most important to you and write what you are passionate about. If you are not passionate about it, blogging will feel like a job and you will not post often, if you don't post often you will not have repeat visitors or any visitors - thus decreasing your exposure. Not to mention the fact, your posts will become boring and lack energy. However, I do have a few helpful tips:
  • Once you identify the direction of your blog - occasionally poll readers to determine if there are any specific topics they would like to read.
  • Make sure you include pictures in your posts. You don't need pictures in every post, but there should be a good variety.
  • If generating sales is the main purpose of your blog include posts and pictures about your products.

Now that your blog is up and running many new bloggers ask, "How often should I add blog posts?" The short answer is daily. The long answer is you should blog at a minimum of 3 to 4 times per week. Avid blog readers are constantly seeking new content. There is always something new to discover and as the blogger you are meeting that need for your readers. Blogs with infrequent posts are stale and lack life. The more infrequent you post the lower your blog rank on major search engines like Yahoo and Google. When searches are conducted, low ranking blogs, are retrieved last. Who will find you?

If you notice your blog has little to no traffic, it is because you have not participated in one of the following activities:

  • Registered your blog in blog directories like Blog Catalog, BlogDigger, Blogher, etc. There are many to choose from. You can find several links on both my TabiHats and Tea Escapade blogs.
  • Visit other blogs weekly and leave meaningful comments.
  • Respond to comments left on your blog.
  • Ask other bloggers to exchange links with you. If you tell another blogger that you are going to add a link to their blog onto your blog - make sure you do so. Not doing so is downright tacky!
  • Register with social networking sites like: Technorati, Zimbio, Squidoo, Delicious, Digg, etc.
  • Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. You never know who may become a regular visitor on your blog.

Finally, use tags and categories wisely. Some blogs allow the use of both so I believe a good definition is in order. Typically categories are used to search your blog. Limit the number of categories used - even though you may write about a variety of topics there should be some central theme like: relationships, kids, pictures... you get the point. Tags are like subcategories - feel free to be more expansive in your use. If your category is relationships, your tags may be mom, dad, husband, wife. Again, you get the point, so I won't move into overkill. There is one caveat... If the blog software you use only allows the use of one or the other, tags or categories, then you should use them like categories as defined above. Just make sure they are highly searchable terms. If you wouldn't search by those terms on the Internet, who would?

Blogging can be extremely enjoyable, almost addictive. Use the tips above to make the most of your blogging experience. There is nothing like reading the first comment made a new reader. It makes all the time you spend worth it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I was contacted via email by a representative for Until now, I had never heard of Wise and thought I would check out their website to learn more. Especially since the subject of the email was "Can we sell your products through our stores?" Of course, I was intrigued.

According to the "About Us" section of the website, WiseRep was built with a single vision, to streamline the wholesale industry. "We believe there's a better way to wholesale. As the industry moves towards the Internet as the preferred way to find products, WiseRep has emerged as the leading wholesale marketplace."

Additionally, the site claims that other stores visit this site to find products and wholesalers showcase their items. is purported to have a variety of functions that simplify the wholesale process. "We've done the work and have built the destination of choice for wholesalers and retailers from around the planet. WiseRep is a one-stop destination providing users with a better way of doing business that saves time, saves money, offers global reach, and creates business efficiencies."

After a brief email exchange with the representative, I learned that charges sellers a onetime set-up fee in the amount of $185 USD to add products to their site. In addition, there is a monthly fee of $30USD. As a seller, you’re agreement with is on a month to month basis allowing the seller to cancel use of their service at any time. What comes with this service?
  • Individual product pages created by based on questions answered online.
  • Unlimited product postings.
  • Ability to bulk upload products to the site.
  • Unprecedented access to the nation's top retailers
  • Pick and choose who you want to work with so you can grow with your business.
  • Set payment terms and delivery dates that work for you.
Currently, my Etsy shop is not ready to handle the bulk orders of Macy's, Target, or Walmart. What's your take?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brittain Road Designs

Today is a great day for shopping! Spring is finally here and many of you are probably looking for cute items to trade for your winter wardrobe - especially if you have kids. Fortunately, you don't have to look any farther than your computer where you can find Brittain Road, the online children's clothing store owned by stay-at-home-mom Kate. Brittain Road carries a variety of appliquéd apparel from t-shirts to sweatshirts to cardigans to blankets. Regardless of whether you are shopping for a boy or girl, Brittain Road is sure to have exactly what you need, including custom designs.

Kate began designing these adorable creations for her rambunctious daughter when she was very small. "I couldn't find things in stores for babies that had much personality, mostly just frills and pastels. So, I made them myself." How ingenious! I cannot say that I would be so inclined to design and create, by hand, a shirt because I could not find exactly what I was looking for within Macy's or Saks. The end result would be...well disastrous! Not to mention the finished product would be something I would neither wear nor pay someone else to wear. Fortunately, there are creative designers like Kate.

Kate finds herself inspired by countless things. She cites her daughters books and toys, cartoons, and things read when travelling to name a few. "Sometimes I find a great piece of fabric and know right away what I want to do with it." When asked, "How long have you been creating," Kate recites a recurring theme... "all my life". She was always involved in art clubs and spent a great deal of her childhood painting, drawing, and making collages. I was surprised to discover that Kate even studied Fine Arts in college and has a degree in Interior Design. "My favorite part of my design career was always the drawing. I started making appliquéd things about a year and a half ago, and really love it. It had never occurred to me to put artwork on clothing before!"

With all of this talent I could not help but ask the proprietor of Brittain Road, if designing and selling on Etsy is a full time job or hobby? With a toddler at home, I was amazed to hear that Brittain Road " more of a part time job I squeeze in around taking care of my daughter. I try to figure out new designs during the day, and do the sewing while she is napping or after she's gone to bed. I hope to have it become my full time job when she's old enough for school."

Every handmade seller on Etsy has a unique story to tell. This is why I ask every shop owner I interview, "What word of advice would you give to fellow Etsyians or crafters?" To this Kate responded, "Talk to other people about what your doing. Ask questions, lots of questions from anyone whom you think might offer good advice. Try to stay as organized as possible, it will help you have more time to be creative. The most important thing, I think, is to stay positive, enjoy what your doing and don't lose your motivation when the business aspect of it isn't exactly what you dreamed."

What great advice! Thanks Kate, I look forward to your continued success!