Saturday, October 30, 2010

Harvest day in the garden

This year I wasn't able to get outside and garden as much as I would have liked, in fact, the garden had to run on auto-pilot this year.  That, coupled with the dreaded Japanese beetle, resulted in a pretty small harvest from the garden.

But we did get some lovely grape tomatoes, which were kind enough to seed themselves around the compost pile.  The compost pile is always a source of surprise plants.  :)

Now that it's Fall and the beetles are gone, the roses are blooming again.  And there's always the hope of next year, and hopefully a glorious garden.  And now, the glorious colors of Autumn.

Thanks for dropping by, wishing you a blessed week!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Walk in the Woods in Autumn

Here's a couple pictures from a walk I went on Saturday.  The leaves were starting to turn on the trees, it was a perfect Fall day, sunny and crisp. 

Those red berries looked delicious, but I doubt they're edible.  At least, I didn't sample them to find out.

Hope you get a chance to take some walks in the forest this Autumn too, and enjoy the beauties of God's creation.  :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tropical Leaf sterling silver earrings

I'm really excited about my newest listing at Dalkullan Jewelry .  It's a pair of earrings, called Tropical Leaf sterling silver earrings.  I crafted them using a technique invented by Charles Lewton-Brain, a master gold and silver smith. 

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lewton-Brain at the 2010 Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee.  He's a very nice gentleman, and it was great to see him in person, and exchange a few pleasantries.  He's also one of the founders of a wonderful website for jewelry artisans, called Ganoksin , which means 'orchid'.  If you've never been to Ganoksin, it's definitely a website you'll want to visit.  There's tons of information on jewelry fabrication, including videos, and it's all free! 

Back to the Tropical Leaf earrings --- I started by cutting out the basic leaf shape from sterling sheet, then folded it in half after first annealing the metal.  Annealing means to heat with a torch, then quench, or cool, in water.  This makes the metal soft (for metal, that is) and bendable.  After folding it in half, I began repeated cycles of hammering along the non-fold edge, alternating with annealing the metal.

After a course of hammering, the metal becomes work hardened, and becomes stiff and brittle.  Annealing changes the molecular structure of the metal, making it maleable again.  When I'd completed this cycle 4 times, I carefully opened  each leaf, and it arced into a lovely leaf shape along the spine.  I used pliers to carefully manipulate the edges of the leaf, creating extra folds. 

The next step was melting the end of a 20 gauge sterling wire to form a little ball at the end, then soldering it on the front of the leaf, to create a stem, which is also the earwire.  Some more shaping, filing,  sanding, polishing, and patinating, and the earrings were complete.

If you're interested in learning more about fold forming, Mr. Lewton-Brain has written a wonderful book on the topic, called Foldforming it's available at Amazon, among other places.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Twitter Tips -- how to get people to follow you

So you've followed some people on Twitter, and now you're hoping they'll follow you back.  I've got some ideas that could help to make that happen.

1.)  Tweet about more than just your shop.  If all your tweets are buy buy buy, unless you're Jim Cramer, people are might get bored pretty quick. Interacting with people is enjoyable, there are a lot of wonderful Tweeples, give yourself the joy of meeting some of them. :)

2.) Retweet other people's tweets that you find interesting.  It shows that you're not just on Twitter for what you can get, but that you're also interesting in helping others.  Good in life, and also on Twitter. :)

3.) Thank people for RT's.  It only takes a minute, and it's polite and friendly.  If I RT somebody a couple times with no response, I learn my lesson, and stop RTing them.  RT's are helpful because they get sent to all your followers, and also the followers of the person who was kind enough to RT, potentially resulting in a lot of new people reading your tweet.
4.)I know there's a lot of opinions out there on this one, but I almost never DM, or direct message.  If I'm tweeting with someone and want to make it more private, I'll DM, that's about it.  I almost never read the DM's because they could be scams or what's worse, a virus.

And here's my Twitter pet peeve, people who put up quote after quote after quote, especially when the people they attribute the quote to aren't the ones who actually said it.    "Dance as if nobody who could commit you is watching ~ Mark Twain"   Funny, I agree, but not something Mr. Twain ever said.

Please leave a comment, and be sure to add your own tips, I'd love to hear from you!

Here's today's mystery photo.  I have no idea who the gentleman in the photo is, he just walked by as I was taking the shot.  The question is -- where was this photo taken?  Here's a hint, it wasn't anywhere in Europe.

Extra hint, it was taken in southern California. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some ways to find people on Twitter to follow

There are a lot of different ways to get more Twitter followers.  There are apps to do so, but I've never used any of them, so I can't comment on that.  I like the direct, hands on approach.  It takes longer, but in my estimation you end up with followers who are more interesting, and are real people, not bots.  What good is having 10,000 followers, if they're mostly bots?

Method 1.) Put up a thread in the Etsy forums, under Promotions, and ask for new followers, and offer to follow them back.  This results in followers who are already on Etsy, have an account set up, and know the mechanics of purchasing on Etsy.  All big pluses.

Method 1.a) Search the Etsy Forum for old threads asking for Twitter followers, go down the list, and follow them -- hopefully they'll return the favor.  This method involves less time on your part than the first Method, but the disadvantage is that you're not directly interacting with people on a thread.  Of course, add yourself to the end of the thread, which will put it temporarily at the top of the Promotions group, which could result in a lot more people following you.

Method 2.) Do a search for #FF on Twitter.  On your Twitter home page, about halfway down on the right hand column, there's a box with "search" in it.  Click on the box, and enter #FF, and it'll pull up all the latest Tweets with the hashtag #FF.  That stands for "Friday follows" and each Tweet will have a bunch of Tweeps listed.  Click on them to follow.  I like to actually go to their home page and make sure that I want to follow them.  Sometimes they tweets about things I don't want to read about, or they only tweet things for sale.

Method 2.a)  Like method 2.) but this time search for #etsy.  Or you could search for anything you think might be helpful, like #jewelry, #knitting, #vintage, etc.

Method 3.)  When you're on a blog or Facebook, look and see if they have a Twitter account, and if they do, follow away.

That's my ideas for finding new people to follow.  I'd love to hear your tips on finding new people to follow, just jot them down in the comments!  Next time, I'm going to blog about how to get people to follow you!

Here's the mystery photo of the day.  I'm looking for what city this picture was taken in, but if you're really feeling sassy, tell me the intersection and the name of the body of water shown.  Bonne chance, mes amis!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some Twitter tips

Twitter can be a wonderful way to drive traffic to your Etsy shop.   But if all you do is tweet about your shop, you probably won't get many people reading your tweets.  So, what to do?  No worries, here's some ideas about using Twitter:

Try to be interesting.  This is a difficult one, at least for me, to accomplish.   Coming up with something witty or humorous in 140 characters or less is a challenge, one that perhaps not everyone is up to.  So when words fail, go with pictures, which bring me to my next point.

Use Twitpic to post interesting pictures.  I enjoy seeing beautiful things, and you most likely do too.  Put some up, then tweet about them.  I always enjoy beautiful flowers and cute baby or animal pictures, for instance.

Retweet other's tweets that you find particularly interesting.  That is a friendly thing to do, and maybe they'll reciprocate and retweet some of your tweets.  Then you'll reach their followers, too.

I always try to thank someone for a retweet, RT in twitterspeak,  of my tweets.  It only takes a minute, but it's polite and friendly to do so.  I make a mental note of people who don't do this, and stop RTing their tweets.  Nobody likes to be ignored.

How do you know if somebody has RTed you?  Go to your Twitter home page, and on the left hand side, under "Home" you'll see @yourtwittername, which in my case is @DalkullanJewel.  Click on it, and you'll see all the tweets sent to you specifically.

There's more than just RT's here, there are also all the tweets that were directed at you.  You'll probably want to reply to them, too. 

Here's today's mystery picture.  Can you guess what it is?  I took this picture while on vacation with one of my beautiful daughters a couple years ago.  Happy times!!!

This is the first post of a series on Twitter.  Stay turned for further developments. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Great Shop Promo Advice from BrickHouseFabrics

I was doing some reading on the Etsy Forums the other day,  when I stumbled on this fount of great advice on promoting your Etsy shop from Barbara of BrickHouseFabrics .
Brick House Fabrics is an online fabric store that specializes in novelty home decorating fabric, and they carry fabrics that showcase a person's loves and interests, including  Braemore, Covington, Duralee, P.Kaufmann, Ralph Lauren, Robert Allen, and have Laura Ashley, Schumacher, Thibaut, and others.

Barbara was kind enough to let me blog about it, so the following is a quote from BrickHouseFabrics


" BrickHouseFabrics says:
The first thing I would do is to step back.
Renewing does not work for me, and it is only good for people on etsy.  Here are my basics:

My basics for being found on the net, and places I use:

The shop title is searchable. Fill it w/ keywords about your product.

Get your announcements set for search engines: fill the first paragraph w/ keywords about what you make/sell. Move everything down below it- no one googles hello, or welcome.

Titles: the title should be what a person would google to find the item. 54-56 characters are pulled by search engines. Fill them w/ keywords. The first 2 words are the most important. Remove words like and, the, or, they lower searchability.

Reuse the keywords in the first sentence of the listing.

Give measurements in both inches and metric. I use an on-line metric convertor:

Write the description as if there weren't a pic. Take the pics as if there weren't a description.

The thumbnail is crucial to being successful: the average buyer on the net spends 3-5 sec. before clicking or moving on. Take pics of everything about the item.

Use an photo editor: pic nik, picassa, photoscape are all free.
And use a tripod! It eliminates a lot of issues!

Artists- most people show a picture of the item very cropped. Take another one of the item on an easel- table or full sized, to give a sense of scale, and to let the buyer know exactly what they are gettting.

Make certain, if you sell internationally- to have a disclaimer that the buyer is responsible for all customs fees, duties, and import charges that are levied at the time of delivery.
I have it on every listing, and add a link to

Make certain your policies are filled out, and your profile, and location.

Join twitter; even if you don't tweet- you can use twit pic to upload a keyword filled message, and link it back to the shop w/ Bitly. That message is searchable, and the link is good.

Upload items to Kaboodle.

Do a Squidoo lens about your shop:

Then do another about your things, your craft, whatever, and link it back as well.

These are all fast, free ways to do some promoting.

Also remember- the net works off of new. Once a month change the announcement, or titles, or shop categories. If you do a lens, or publish anything on the net, make certain to tweak it, or add to it, even a RSS feed, anything to keep those bots happy and coming back for more!

Here's another sample of just one of the gorgeous fabrics available at BrickHouseFabrics:
Wonderful advice, and all things you can do for free!  I'm a major fan of Twitter, I've found great info there, made some internet friends, and bought some lovely items from people I would probably never have know about otherwise.

Hope you've found something in this post to help you achieve the success with your Etsy shop that you're working towards!  Wishing you prosperity and the joy of creativity.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Crouching Bunny, Hidden Rodent

My darling hubby took some pics in the garden this weekend, and I thought you'd like to see them.  He focused on the animals that enjoy the backyard.  We have a lot of different kinds of plants, and having a varied habitat attracts a wide range of insects and other animals.  At least, that's what I try to tell myself when I don't manage to get out there and weed, lol.

Here's the famous "Crouching Bunny, Hidden Rodent.  He gets those beautifully shiny eyes from all the flowers he eats.  Lots of vitamins.

Do you like Autumn Joy sedum?  The bees and butterflies sure do.  Here's a little bee enjoying his morning nectar.  In my opinion, nectar's got nothing on a steaming cup o' joe, but to each their own.

This amazing butterfly has such beautiful markings.  I would have thought it was a kind of moth, but I would be wrong.  I never have figured out the distinction between moths and butterflies, outside of the fact that butterflies don't wreck havoc  with my winter wardrobe.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my garden. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pocket Shop Widget!

If you're like me, you're always looking for new and fun ways to market your Etsy shop.  And the kind folks at CraftCult have come up with a great new widget.

To see what it looks like, take a peek to the right of my blog, it's the black widget that looks like a cell phone.  Pretty cool, yes?  And getting your own is as easy as pie, and completely free (yeah!).

Just click on the "Pocket Shop" logo at the upper right of the CraftCult page.

Then you just follow the simple directions -- enter your Etsy shop name, pick your preferred background, follow the detailed instructions, and when your done, just cut and paste the code and follow the directions to install it in your blog.  It's really easy to do, honest!  :)

Pocket Shop is compatible with the following blog formats:

Blogger, Typepad, Tumblr, self-hosted Wordpress blogs, and your own website.

I really like my new widget and hope you'll have fun with your new "Pocket Shop" too!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Latest Projects

I've been working on some new additions to Dalkullan Jewelry lately. That, and a secret project, which is going to be a gift -- I'll be blogging about that after I've given it to the intended recipient -- don't want to spoil the surprise. :)

I'm planning on doing more jewelry in solid 14K yellow gold. Here's a picture of something that's currently available at Dalkullan, my Hammered 14K Solid Gold Earrings. I completely handcrafted these earrings, and its a lot of fun to anneal and shape the metal using a couple of my favorite hammers.

I'm working on a couple of pierced earring styles in solid gold, one will be set with gorgeous Tsarovite Garnets. Tsarovite Garnets are an incredible green color, simply gorgeous gems! I'm very excited to be offering these lovely and luxurious gems at Dalkullan.

There is also a genuine Ruby and Pink Sapphire ring, set in opulent 14K yellow gold on the drawing board. I'm thrilled with this ring, in fact, I'm making the first one for myself. Ruby is my birthstone, and I've always wanted a ruby ring. Maybe you've always wanted one, too. ;)

If solid 14K gold and genuine Rubies are out of your price range, no problem. Here's a pretty ring, with a lab created Ruby, set in handcrafted sterling, at a very affordable price. The Ruby and Sterling Ring.

There are other new adornments on the way at Dalkullan Jewelry so be sure to check back for the latest info.

Thanks so much for dropping by, it's been grand having you here!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Buying American Made & Vintage

I've been looking for a new toaster for the past couple of years. I wanted to buy one made in the United States, and believe me, the search was a long and fruitless one. I was willing to compromise on one made in Canada or Europe, but definitely not one made in China.

I was surprised to find that even high end toasters, that try to give the appearance of being made in Europe, are actually made in China. You have to look hard to find the "made in China' label, but it's there. A $300 model at a famous kitchen wares store, and you guessed it, made in China.

Then I had the happy thought of buying vintage. There must be a lot of old toasters out there, from back in the day when we still made toasters in the U.S. And what better place to find vintage items than dear Etsy? A quick search revealed a lot of excellent toasters, reasonably priced, which were indeed made in the United States.

I decided on this beauty from Bliss Vintage:It was made in the 1940's, and as we all know, they don't make 'em like they used to. This toaster is a shiny chrome wonder, and makes excellent toast. And it was made in the U.S., in Elgin Illinois, which is only a few miles away from where I live.

Christine, the owner of Bliss Vintage, was a joy to interact with, so friendly and kept me informed all along the way. My toaster arrived quickly, and beautifully packed for its travels from Canada to the U.S. My toaster had returned to its' roots, back to Illinois, after its' adventures.

I have a wonderful, American made toaster, beautifully styled and classic. And while enjoying a crispy, buttery slice of toast with my morning coffee, I have the satisfaction of knowing I shopped successfully, getting what I wanted instead of just settling, and purchasing from an independent business person.

Don't you just love happy endings?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We're having a sale at Dalkullan Jewelry!

I've never had a sale at Dalkullan Jewelry before, and decided now is the time. Well, I've had sales, as in sold jewelry, of course, but I've never marked down my prices on certain items before. I'm taking Dalkullan Jewelry in a different direction than I was charting originally. I'm going to be focusing on fabricating jewelry from precious metals, and incorporating precious and semi-precious gems. I'm very excited in the new work I have in my shop, and in the lovely creations still on my jeweler's bench and my sketch book!

This new focus brings with it a great opportunity for you to own some gorgeous handcrafted jewelry at a very favorable price. I've marked down all the beautiful flameworked bead jewelry, 9 different colors and styles of earrings, all with sterling handmade earwires. The entire Lifesaver Line, shown in the picture above, is marked down from $25.00 to $20.00, and the shipping to U.S. and Canada is free. They'll arrive in a jewelry box, gift wrapped, and ready to give to that special someone, or for you to treasure.

This is a one of a kind earring, and it's on sale, too. I bought these lovely flame worked beads at the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee a couple years ago, and thought they'd make a gorgeous pair of earrings. Hope you agree!

Don't you just love that shade of green? So fresh and spring-like. And they ship free to the U.S. and Canada.

There are more earrings on sale, just drop by Dalkullan Jewelry to see them all.

Happy shopping! Wishing you joy today and always.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School Doldrums

Things have been a bit on the slow side at Dalkullan Jewelry. I noticed this last year, too. I call it the back to school doldrums, when internet traffic to my etsy shop slows down.

There aren't any major holidays that involve jewelry coming up soon. Mother's Day, June weddings, and Christmas are all a long ways away. I think a lot of people are focusing on school clothes for the kids and trying to get back into the regular routine again. That's my theory, anyway.

I'm working on some secret projects. Dalkullan is going to be offering more jewelry in 14K solid gold. I love working with gold, it's wonderfully malleable and the soft gleam of gold is like no other metal. The fact it doesn't tarnish is also a big plus.

I don't have any photos of my secret projects to share -- yet -- patience gentle reader, all will be reveal in time! But here's a lovely ring, with pink tourmaline I hope you'll enjoy:
I've been mulling over the idea of buying some ad space on a blog. If anyone has any experiences they'd like to share on this, please do! I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by, you're always welcome. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some advice on naming your Etsy shop

If you've ever wondered why I named my Etsy shop Dalkullan Jewelry, here's the story (If you're wondering what that has to do with the title of this post, have patience, gentle reader, all will be revealed shortly):

Dalkullan means "a girl from Dalarne" which is a province in Sweden. My Aunt was born in Dalarne and moved to the United States, where she opened a Swedish import shop, which she named Dalkullan. To honor her memory, I chose Dalkullan for my shop name. The photo above shows two Dalkullans wearing the tradition clothing of the region.

As a marketing strategy, my Aunt had a great plan, since she was selling principally to other Swedish speakers in the Andersonville section of Chicago. As a marketing strategy for online retailing, I probably should have chosen another name for my shop. But hindsight is always twenty/twenty, as the old saying goes. If you're trying to pick a name for your new shop on Etsy, you'd be better off picking a shop name that is easy to remember, and says something about your product.

If I could re-name my shop, I'd pick "Heather Braun Studios" because I would like to build product recognition and brand my jewelry under my own name. I'd like to make it easier for my customers to find my shop, and with the thousands and thousands of jewelry shops on Etsy, picking an easy to remember name is important. Outside of Swedish speakers, I suspect "Dalkullan" isn't all that memorable.

Just something to consider, if you're thinking about opening an online shop on any venue, not just Etsy. And it's also a good idea to use the same name for all your online venues, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., because that helps people to identify with your product and find your shop more easily.

Thanks for dropping by! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bead & Button Show Class

A couple weeks ago, I attended the annual Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee. Very exciting place to be, if you are at all interested in jewelry. I don't do much beading anymore, I've been making jewelry through fabrication techniques, but it's amazing to walk around the colossal show floor and see all the gorgeous things for sale.

What does fabrication mean, you might be asking. Fabricating jewelry involves the traditional jeweler's tools of saw, torch, files, etc., all the fun stuff that gets your hands dirty. Nothing like using a torch and heating metal and seeing that magic moment when the solder flows like a skinny silver thread.

Which brings me back to the B & B Show -- I took 2 classes there in goldsmithing. Not that we worked in gold, we used silver, but when you make an object that's smaller than the human fist it's called goldsmithing, and when it's larger it's silversmithing, regardless of what metal you're using.

The first class I took was taught by Leslie Frumin, and it covered making silver leaves. Here's a picture of the leaf I made:
It's made out of sterling. We started with a photo of a leaf, transfered the design onto metal, and began sawing away. After a whole lot of hammering, bending and soldering, voila! a lovely oak leaf emerged. A quick dunk in a patinating solution, and the amazing color you see above emerged. The addition of some fresh water pearls, and the project was completed. It was a fun class, Leslie is a sweet lady with a great sense of humor. And I walked away with a lovely new pendant. What's not to like? :)

Hope everything is going great for you, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sapphire Trilogy Ring

I've been working on a new ring design for the past few days. It's a sterling band, with three tube settings I crafted from sterling, and then set with 3 colored sapphires. The sapphires are all genuine, and so sparkly and pretty.

I've recently bought a new camera, the Nikon D3000, and it's a sweet piece of hardware. My photography looks so much better. It's a digital SLR, the first I've ever used, my old camera was a trusty point and shoot, which met a tragic end when it leapt to its death off the desk during a download.

The ring is a sleek, minimalist design, that showcases the dainty little sapphires. They're 2 mm in diameter, and as you can see, they're one each in pink, yellow, and white. I'm going to do some more work with sapphires -- they're a really hard and strong gem, which takes some of the pressure -- for me, not the stone, :) -- out of stone setting.

Hope you're having a great week, and thanks so much for dropping by.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Gift For My Daughter

My lovely daughter Angela graduated from the teaching program at San Diego State University last month, and received her teaching certificate in bi-lingual education. To commemorate this very happy occasion, I decided to make her a one of a kind ring.

It's the most elaborate ring I've made yet, and is completely hand fabricated. I started with some silver wire and tubing, and 3 royal amethyst stones, each 2mm in diameter.

It required many soldering operations, creating the dainty leaves, and melting silver to form the tiny spheres. After I'd put the ring together, there was the matter of cutting the dinky little seats in the tubing and setting the amethysts. Thank goodness for magnifying visors!

It's so gratifying to put a design on paper, and then to actualize it in metal and gems. I'm very thankful to have a skill that I can use to make a unique and lasting gift for my loved ones. A special ring for my beautiful and brainy daughter!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ups and Downs

Running an online shop can have its ups and downs. Getting on the Etsy Front Page for the second time and having 5 orders in quick succession (for me, I'm not a major force on Etsy, lol) was quite exhilarating. I was hoping that things were really starting to gel, and that getting a couple of orders a week would be the new norm.

Sad to say, that hasn't been the case. Since then, things have been exceedingly slooooowwww at Dalkullan Jewelry. It's times like these that try women's souls, or okay, maybe it's not that bad, but at least try one's patience. But when the going gets tough, the tough make lemonade, or something like that.

While maintaining the requisite stiff upper lip, I've been working on some new designs. I'm not ready to list them yet, but here's a sneak preview of a new earring design. It's got carnelians, lapis lazuli, and turquoise cabochons.

It's really hard to hold the earrings securely to set the stones, so I'm going to try sinking the backs of the earrings in thermoplastic mounted on wood in a vise. Then a setting punch and a chasing hammer to smooth the bezel cups around the stones. That should get the job done. Afterwards, I'll just pop the earrings out, and polish them up bright and shiny.

Thanks for dropping by!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Copper Flower Necklace & Earrings

I just finished making a necklace in copper. Copper is a lovely metal, soft and easy to work with, and it has a pretty, warm color. The affordability factor is also hard to beat!

I call this set Copper Flower Necklace and Earrings, and it's completely handcrafted.

I made the clasp, chain and little copper balls using wire wrapping techniques. The central motif of the copper flower I sawed from copper sheet metal.

After filing, sanding polishing and drilling, I added the flamework cobalt blue bead with a copper wire wrapped tendril. Don't you just love the mix of cobalt blue and copper?

The little horse in the picture is from Sweden. I inherited it from my Aunt, the lady who ran the original Dalkullan, which was an import store. I named my Etsy shop after her store.

Thanks for dropping by, and hope you have a great day! If you'd have any comments, I'd love to hear from you! :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Second time on the Etsy front page

Dalkullan Jewelry had the wonderful experience of being on the Etsy front page for a second time! My lovely Hammered 14k Gold Earrings were in a Treasury that was featured.

Christine of dollcloset was the curator of the Treasury. Christine makes beautiful things for American Girls size dolls, drop by dollcloset for a fun shopping experience!

I didn't make a sale of the earrings, but did get 3 sales of other items, and the gold earrings garnered a lot of clicks and hearts.

As luck would have it, I was without computer access at the time, and missed all the excitement. It was quite a wonderful surprise when I could finally log in, though!

Thanks for dropping by!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hidow Fiber Farm

I stumbled upon a truly amazing shop while on the Etsy Forums. Veronica Dowling is the owner of Hidow Fiber Farm, a gorgeous shop that truly exemplifies the finest in handcrafted excellence. The following is excerpted from the shop profile for Hidow Fiber Farm:

"Hidow Fiber Farm is located on over 100 acres in the Thumb area of Michigan. Our farm has been in the Hirons family for over 125 years. Grandma and Grandpa Hirons only had girls, so when we bought the farm the name changed to Dowling. The name of Hidow was thought up by Grandma, it was her way of combining the family names to represent the farm, we have kept it in her honor.

"Currently on the farm we have Huacaya and Suri Alpacas and a flock of Shetland sheep. Our animals are organically raised with love and care.

"I am currently trying to clear out the fiber stash in my closets, fiber is an addiction! you can NEVER have enough. But shearing season is coming soon and I need to make room. Not only do I have fibers from my own animals, but over the past year I have also picked up some interesting fleeces from other places. If you are looking for something in particular, let me know, I may have it in the closet.

"Each step in the process adds to the value of the fibers so I price accordingly. If you are on a budget, try buying unwashed raw fleece, I will be happy to tell you how to wash it. If you don't want to bother washing it yourself, then look to my washed fleeces and if you don't want to card, let me know and I will be happy to hand card a few ounces for a special order."
This amazing needle felted Sheltie figure is a one of a kind work of art, which Veronica created using alpaca from her own animals with a bit of Icelandic Sheep fiber for accents. Since Veronica also breeds and shows Shelties, you can be sure it's an accurate depiction of this most adorable breed of dog. Veronica has a lovely selection of needle felted animals, including a cuddly bunny, just perfect for Easter! She is also a talented photographer, and has some gorgeous fine art photo prints in her shop. The Burgundy Lily at the start of this post is just one of Veronica's prints. Be sure to click on the link and read the beautiful story behind this stunning photograph.

Hidow Fiber Farm is a wonderful source for wool -- all you knitters and crocheters be sure to enjoy the woolen eye candy at Veronica's store. Just imagine the lovely things you could make from this marvelous wool.
For those of us who are looking for goods all ready to wear, Veronica has a cute hat, felted from fiber from one of her own alpaca, Sid. Here's the beautiful Needle Felt Woman's Hat, and also a picture of Sid. How cool is that?

For the ultimate in handcrafted goods, just stop by Hidow Fiber Farm!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Promoting Your Shop Via Facebook

Facebook is a useful social networking site for promoting your online shop. I've had a Facebook business page for about 7 months, and found it to be an effective and cost effective (free!) way to get the word out about Dalkullan Jewelry.

After I set up my FB business page (it's also called a fan page, it's the same thing) I fanned myself. Yes, I know, a bit pathetic, but then I can see everything that the future fans are receiving, which I find helpful. I like to know what my fans are getting on their personal page about my shop. And at least I had one fan, lol.

The next step was letting all my Facebook friends know about my business page, so they could fan me if they liked. I actually set up a new personal page to use to create my business page from, instead of using my Facebook page I'd set up a couple years earlier to keep in touch with family and friends. I want to keep my personal and business doings separate, but that's just me. And I like to use a picture of my jewelry for my profile picture on my business page.

I started putting up a link to my FB fan page on the promo section in the Etsy Forum, and got some fans that way. I also have a link in my profile at my Etsy shop. Having a contest, in which each fan who got a friend to become a fan could each win a pair of earrings, was a successful way to add fans.

Gradually people will start fanning because they see your work on a friend's page, and it appeals to them. Also mentioning the fan page on your blog and using twitter to promote it are good ways to garner new fans.

So, now you have some fans, what's next? Here's my list of FB does and don'ts. This is just my opinion, please comment and add your own!

1.) Try to post only once or twice a day. People are following other businesses, and their friends and family, and don't want you to monopolize their news feed.

2.) Try to read and comment a few times a week on the businesses you are following. Nobody likes to feel ignored. :) It's fun to see what others are doing, and being an encourager is always a happy thing!

3.) Remember, it's very easy to block someone, so it looks like you're following them, but you actually don't receive any updates from their page. The more spammy stuff you post, the more likely this unhappy event will occur.

4.) Your page is promoting your business, keep it professional. There are those who are offended by swearing, off-color comments, etc.

How effective is FB on getting sales? I don't have a lot of sales, so I've got a pretty small data pool to extrapolate from. But I have made sales to my Facebook Fans, and I've made purchases from businesses I'm a fan of. Businesses I heard of only because they had fanned me, and I fanned them back.

Facebook is free, it doesn't take a lot of time, and it is a useful marketing tool. I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to increase their online sales.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Wishing you happy crafting!

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Info on Treasuries

Here's some useful info from MaryMary, an Etsy staffer, about how to get your Treasury on the Etsy front page. I cut and pasted it from a thread on the Etsy Forums, "When Do Treasuries Show Up On The Etsy Front Page"

"Not all Treasuries are featured on the homepage, but we do try to mix things up. Some tips to keep in mind if you are making a Treasury with the goal in mind of it being featured on the homepage are:

* Use all 16 item slots, including all 4 alternates spaces.
* Make sure all 16 slots are from different sellers.
* Try not to use an item from one of your own shop/s.
* Include a variety of represented categories throughout your collection.
* Include a variety of price points throughout your collection.
* Use items with clear, crisp, and most importantly, inspiring photos.
* Try not to use the same sellers or friends frequently when you make new collections. We are trying to use more community made Treasury lists moving forward and will be looking for lists with broader variety. For example, using items or sellers that have been featured on the homepage recently isn't a best practice for having your list featured on the homepage. "

Very interesting info, because getting on the Front Page can be a major boost to your shop. Having other people put your items in their Treasuries is a great promo for you, it's free, people will see your item who wouldn't ordinarily view it, and maybe they'll visit your shop, too.

The best way to get in Treasuries is to have great photos. I've found making a light box and getting a couple of full spectrum light bulbs to illuminate it to be a big help; then I'm not dependent on the weather for when I can take photos. There are a lot of great tutorials online about taking good photos.

Wishing you every success with your online marketing, and happy crafting!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Promotional Efforts -- Part Two

I have an earlier blog posting about how to make an Etsy Treasury, take a look at it if you'd like to find out how to make one. It's on Monday, Nov. 9th in this blog.

How do they work as a promotional tool? That is difficult to fully answer, because a lot of promotional efforts are impossible to really define as far as how much traffic they bring to your shop, and how many sales result from that traffic. I operate under the assumption that getting your shop better known is always a plus. Treasuries are free, you can list one of your own items in them, and sometimes they're picked for the Etsy Front Page.

I wouldn't spend too much time on Treasuries, because there are better ways to promote your shop. But they're fun, you might get on the Front Page, and sometimes a person you put in your Treasury will reciprocate and put you in one of theirs. Taking really good pictures, using a tag to state the color of your item, and relisting often will get you in Treasuries. Of course, outside of making lovely things that people want, taking gorgeous pictures is the biggest thing in online promotions. The most beautiful bag or ring won't sell if you only have one blurry, badly lit photo of it at your shop.

I've only had one sale of an item while it was in a Treasury, and that Treasury was moved to the Front Page. But I've seen a slight increase in traffic, and gotten some hearts for an item while it was in a Treasury. In my opinion, Treasuries have value as a promotional tool, worthy of some time, but not a major source of traffic or sales. Treasuries are free, and you get the happiness of helping fellow Etsians by promoting their shops in your Treasury. And while putting one together, you'll have the happy experience of seeing a bit more of the beautiful handcrafted and vintage items on Etsy.

Thank you so much for stopping by, wishing you many sales, and happy times with your craft!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Promotional Efforts

I've been selling on Etsy since April 2009, and I've tried several different promotional methods. Here they are, in no particular order:

Etsy Showcase
Ad on Craftopolis
Renewing listings on Etsy
Etsy Forums
Etsy Storque
Etsy Treasury
I've also been chosen for the Etsy Front Page and a Gift Guide.

Some are/were very effective, others not so much. Let's start with the one I'm not going to use anymore.

For me, the Etsy Showcase was not worth the money. I didn't get any sales; I did get a slight increase in site traffic, but not enough to justify the 15 dollars spent. One thing in its' favor, it did bring some new people to my shop, but again, only about 10 or so, nothing dramatic. This is the only promotional method I'm not going to try again.

The ad on Craftopolis ran from the weekend after Thanksgiving for 2 weeks. There was an increase in traffic to my shop, and some were new views, from the ad. It was $28 dollars for the two weeks. I don't know if any sales resulted from the ad. I had 1 sale during the time the ad ran, but I don't ask my customer's about where they heard of Dalkullan. Those two weeks definitely saw an increase in site traffic, and hearts. I'd like to run an ad on Craftcult and compare the results. If you have any experience on advertising on either site, or other promotional methods, I'd love to hear from you!

Renewing listings is something I do when I haven't listed anything new in the last couple of days. It puts your item temporarily at the top of searches, but that certainly doesn't last long in jewelry-world. The 20 cents doesn't sound like much, but they can certainly add up. I look at it as part of my advertising budget, and try not to do it too often.

Etsy Forums are a good way to meet people on Etsy. I've found a lot of gorgeous shops that way, and also learned a lot. You can start a thread, or just post to one. It gets your shop some recognition factor. It's a good place to start a thread in the Promotions section asking for twitter followers and also blog followers or Facebook Fans. Always try to be polite and upbeat on the Forums. There are some real sour lemons there, and some bullies, I can't imagine they're doing their business any good with that kind of attitude. But to each his own.

The Etsy Storque has some very informative articles, some lovely finds from various shops, and you can leave a pleasant comment and also hopefully garner a little buzz for your shop. If you're fortunate enough to get an item picked to be in the Storque, you're one lucky person! I'm still hoping to attain that happiness. Someday! :)

And the Forums and the Storque are free, which is a big plus. I'm going to leave the other methods for my next blog post. Thanks so much for visiting, and wishing you all the best!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Changes are occuring at Dalkullan Jewelry, I've opened a shop at 1000Markets! If you don't like the hassle of having to join Etsy, you'll love 1000Markets. There's nothing to join, no PayPal transaction -- unless you prefer to use PayPal! All major credit cards are accepted, and it's backed by the guarantee of Hope you'll come and visit, I've only got 8 items listed, but more are on the way.

Santa was very good to me this year. A new jeweler's bench, lovely new Flex Shaft, and a propane/oxygen torch system. I'll be posting about my new workshop setup in the coming weeks, with some pictures.

Thanks so much for reading my blog, I really am humbled and so thankful for your interest.

All the best,