Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some More of my Challenge Pieces and Another Free Photo-Editing Tool

Went to BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza) in Oakland last Saturday. Mostly to see my good buddy, but it was a nice treat to see all the lampwork beads in person I usually only get to drool over on the internet.

JC Herrel never ceases to amaze me and continues to move forward with innovative and breathtaking work. Have a look


I have some vintage JC beads… hope to update my collection soon.

I don’t think I showed you the piece I made for the weekly challenge that had a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior theme. 


http://brackendesigns.com/product/medieval-or-post-apocalyptic-style-gauntlet-wrist-cuff-leather-chain-maille-and-metals?tid=60

Oh and here’s a silver ring I made for the Lord of the Rings challenge (sort of fairy or elfish). 



And I made this Edwardian style necklace for the Downton Abbey challenge. 




MISC STUFF I COLLECT THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Did I already show you this? This Russian photography makes fairy tale scenes. Yes, when I was a kid (and then some), I was obsessed with fairy tales. In retrospect I think to my detriment, but not sure that’s material for a blog post.

Anyway, these photos are breathtakingly beautiful… have a look


http://www.boredpanda.com/fantasy-photography-russian-photographer-margarita-kareva/


And for my metal clay friends… how about this for a little inspiration… the PMC Master’s Registry’s Pinterest board


http://www.pinterest.com/hart2901/

 

On the lookout for a free photo-editing program?  Give Pixlr a try (https://pixlr.com/)... nothing to download!

According to this review: “Pixlr is also free to use, with an impressive feature set for an online image editor. It supports many of the most common features that are found in regular software editors. Layers, shapes, airbrushes, scaling, gradients, color adjustments and a number of filters on top of that.”

And wiki: “Pixlr is a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities, including a number of photo editors, a screen grabber browser extension, and a photo sharing service. The suite was intended for non-professionals, however the apps range from simple to advanced photo editing. It can be used on PCs, and onsmartphones or tablets using a mobile app. Time put Pixlr on its list of the top 50 websites of 2013.”

While this didn’t fill me with confidence… 



… we all make mistakes and I’ve read enough to be more than interested in trying it out. I wonder how it compares to GIMP.  And remember, since it’s cloud-based, that means you don’t have to download it… love that. 






Saturday, November 8, 2014

New Earrings, Kitty Help Replacing Kiln Coil, and all about Jo-Ann Fabric Coupons

Got some new earrings listed this week… 


http://brackendesigns.com/catalog/earrings

Along with finally listing the charm bracelet I made for the Picasso challenge a few months back… 


http://brackendesigns.com/product/picasso-influenced-vibrant-charm-bracelet-crystals-vintage-beads-and-polymer-clay?tid=60

Replaced the coil in my kiln… 



… with assistance that doubled my working time.


Had an idea for a product that may be useful to other metal clay artists (I’ll announce it when I get it listed). Just putting it out there so I’m more apt to not forget about it.

This website seems to have a lot of useful info for jewelry makers: http://jewelrymonk.com/

Got a text yesterday from Jo-Ann… a 60% off coupon for one regularly priced item in the store. Since my friend and I had planned to go out today anyway, we decided to include Jo-Ann's and by the afternoon had a brilliant idea what we wanted to use our coupons on.

I had been showing Dawn examples (from the internet) of colored pencil on metal. Here’s an screen shot from an image search: 




So we get all excited about trying this technique and think about using our Jo-Ann coupons on Prismacolor pencils.

We determine the set we could afford was 24 pencils. 



Normally priced at $40, the 60% off coupon would make them $16 per set. The computer tells us that there are 2 left in stock at our local Jo-Ann’s so I call to find out if I can order them online and pick them up from the store. No. Will they hold them for us, then? Yes, but they look and say there are none left.
We can use the coupon to order online, but $7 shipping and it would be two separate orders so that we could each use the coupon.

I decide to check Amazon and what do I see… Prismacolor Premier pencil set of 24 for $15.79 and free shipping.

Yay! Okay, it’s not instant gratification, but there’s plenty of other things we have to occupy ourselves in the three days until our pencils arrive.

There were two other products we need in order to try this colored pencils on metal thing… gesso and fixative.

So we start the scavenger hunt in my workshop. Man, I have A LOT of stuff! In no time I find a bottle of gesso… it says clear. Before I have much of a chance to debate if I want this clear or if I’d rather try using white gesso, I… yeah, find a bottle of white gesso too.

Fixatives, no problem. I have a choice of about 3-4. The two we end up selecting to compare are
Krylon Workable Fixative and Winsor & Newton All Purpose Varnish (matt). 


So now we can use our Jo-Ann coupons on other things. I wonder what the odds are that they not only carry Alcohol Inks, but that they have the one color I want (watermelon). After experimenting with a few things, I’ve decided I want alcohol inks on my folding screen for project #2 of my welding class. Now I just have to pick a design I want… still experimenting there, but Dawn gave me lots of good ideas yesterday and she spent most of the afternoon playing around with the alcohol inks and scrap steel pieces. 



In regards to Jo-Ann's price matching, I wonder if Amazon counts as a "club"...

Q: What is Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores Price Match Pledge?
 

A: Joann.com® does offer a price match policy. Seasonal items do not qualify for price adjustments. Patterns on Joann.com® are not eligible for price match with a Jo-Ann Store price. Please note that pricing may be different between the web site and Jo-Ann Stores for many reasons, including the timing of promotional events and product source. The Price Match Pledge will be honored on Joann.com® in U.S. Dollars (USD). Please see your local Jo-Ann Store location for their posted Price Match Pledge. Joann.com® will match prices when the following conditions are met:
  • Applies to identical, in-stock item only
  • Price to match must have been advertised within the past 7 days
  • Includes ads for competitors
  • Requires proof of lower price via original/current ad or print-out of online price
  • Excludes special buys, liquidations, doorbusters and club purchase

BTW, if you haven't already, you may want to sign up to get these weekly coupons from Jo-Ann Fabrics (and Micheal's almost always honors Jo-Ann coupons).
Print: http://www.joann.com/coupon/
Phone app: http://www.joann.com/mobile/
Text: text the word BEADS to 56266 (then don't forget to reply "y" to confirm your subscription to weekly text coupons).












Sunday, November 2, 2014

Etsy Search Engine and Relevancy... Getting Your Etsy Listings Higher in the Search Rankings

But first... I mentioned on Facebook that Hadar’s latest book included six of my pieces. A couple people asked me to show them which pieces so this seemed like the easiest place. 

  
If you’re interested in the new book (filled with awesome projects), here’s the link to purchasing it.


Making Etsy's Search Engine Work For You


Then I mentioned on Facebook about a little experimenting that I was doing while listing some items last night and I thought I’d come here and give some more in-depth details.

So around 6pm, I listed a couple pair of earrings on Etsy. I came back an hour or two later (giving them time to get into Etsy’s search engine... which actually seems to be more like 15 minutes for new items) and decided to see where they “ranked”. After all, who wants to be on the 20th page of any given search, eh?

The key is to pick words to search on that are generic enough so as not to really isolate/target my own listing. Like if I searched on “Laura Bracken pearl earrings", I have little doubt that my listings would show up on the first page.

As a matter of fact, my listings are the ONLY thing showing up if I search with those keywords. 


So too specific is out of the question. But so is too general. If I just search for “earrings”, the odds that my listings would be on the first page are slim to none (notice almost 2 million listings show up for that search). 


So the keywords have to be specific enough that I should be able to find my item in a search but not so broad that it will be a needle in a haystack.

Here’s the first pair of earrings. 





I try to put myself in the mind of the customer who may be interested in purchasing these earrings. Would they search for “large round disk earrings”? I don’t think so. I feel these earrings might appeal to a person who’d search for “petroglyph earrings”. So that’s what I search on.

And my item is on the first page of “petroglyph earrings”.

Discounting the promotional listings (the paid ads), I’m on the 10th row. Not ideal, but better than being on the second page.

Searching for “petroglyph enamel earrings” puts me on the first row but I feel that search is too specific and unrealistic.

My second pair of earrings is this. 



Since ‘blue earrings” is rather generic, for this one I search on “"blue enamel earrings".

By the way, I also click (over on the left menu) on the word “handmade” since I assume my customers are searching for handmade items. I just hope enough of them know to click that option. 



For the record, clicking on “handmade” makes the difference between my blue enamel earrings being on page 2 (not clicking on handmade) or being on page 1 (clicking on handmade).

So I'm on page one out of 5856 listings for blue enamel earrings.  I'm happy with that.

You’re not going to get every listing on the first page of searches, but getting as many there as you can will definitely help.

I’ve got a pair of pyrite earrings that I can’t seem to get any closer than page 3. 



I tried “pyrite earrings” (a pool of 4751).

If I go as far as “pyrite wire wrap earrings”, I am on the first page (of 973 listings) but I’d love to be found without being that specific.

And I wonder what puts me on page three and others on page one or two.

I look at the first page, thinking maybe I need to have “pyrite earrings” be the first words in my listing title, but no… very few of the first page listings have those words first.

Is it the number of views an item has had? I check mine… 75 views, 8 favorites. I check the listing next to mine. 8 views, 3 favorites. And on the other side of my listing? 156 views, 17 favorites. And next to that? 496 views, 13 favorites. Hm… not much of a pattern evolving.

Maybe it’s to do with how many items a person has in their store? 756, 674, 223… and me? 69.

Is it a combination of tags/titles along with views along with how many items are in your store? I can control my tags and titles. I’m working on number of items in my shop, but I’ll never have 700 so there is a limit there. And views? That’s out of my control, right?

By the way, I’m not saying ANY of these things have to do with how to rank in the Etsy search engine… I’m just shooting in the dark trying to figure out what does. J As a matter of fact, I just read an article that specifically said Etsy’s search algorithm is not based on number of views or how many items you have in your shop. Ha ha ha! But I’m stubborn… and still look for patterns anywhere and everywhere.

I decide to do one more test.  Even though my item was renewed three days ago, I go ahead and renew it again.  Within 15 minutes, it appears on the first page of the search "pyrite earrings".  Too bad that's a change that costs.  And I wonder how long it will remain on the first page.


I have seen my items leap from page 4 or 5 of a search to the first page by just changing a few words here and there.

For me, one of the most important keys is to imagine what my customers would type in if they were looking for THAT item.

I’ve also heard it said that quality of views is more important than quantity of views. As in, getting the RIGHT customers to look at your work is more important than getting a mass amount of the general population to look.

Okay, I’m going to take one more item and show you exactly what I do.

My threshold for searches is page 3. If I’m beyond page 3, I want to fix/change things.  I lie.  I really want to be on the first page of the searches, but I will definitely not allow anything beyond page 3, how's that.



So I take a necklace and start looking it up.



One thing that makes me not happy is to search on “silver snake necklace” and see in the pages proceeding my items all kinds of non handmade non silver snake necklaces… manufactured chains, necklaces having nothing to do with snakes, etc.

I’m wading through pages of listings and way too many of them are not handmade. I’m trying not to get angry as that does me no good and I don’t have all day to “flag” them even if I believed it would result in any kind of action (which I don’t).

All I can do is try to change the things I have control over.

The problem here is that, aside from the manufactured listings showing up, any silver necklace on a snake chain is also showing up.

By page 15, my customer realizes the same thing. They’re looking for a silver snake necklace but they’re seeing all kinds of things not relevant to what they’re really searching for. So they change their search to “silver snake pendant”, because in fact that is what they want.

Interestingly enough, it only changed the “items found” from 5666 to 4268. But now, at least, we’re seeing necklaces with snake pendants.

For a few pages, anyway. Then we start getting into the irrelevant stuff again. And this is EXACTLY why I need to move my listing to the first couple of pages.   The further in you go, the less relevant the items.

I could change my search to “fine silver snake pendant” but I don’t think most customers will be that specific. Although doing that would put me on the first page (but out of only 165 listings).

So off to do some editing.

First, I change the title from:

Snake Pendant of Fine Silver on Sterling Silver Chain Unisex Necklace by Laura Bracken
To
Silver Snake Pendant Necklace Handcrafted of Fine Silver by Laura Bracken

Next I change the first line of my listing from:

I created this 25x15mm snake pendant out of pure silver using the techniques of forming, texturing, firing, sanding, and burnishing.  

To
I created this fine silver snake pendant (25x15mm) using the techniques of forming, texturing, firing, sanding, and burnishing.

I also add “silver snake pendant” as a tag.

I’ve already got all five photo slots used, so that’s about all I can do for now.

Previous to these word changes outlined above, I wasn’t even on the first 15 pages of the search “silver snake pendant” (in a pool of just under 6000).

After one full hour I check one last time.

Whoa! I’m on page one, third row. Whoohoo!

And that was before I remembered to click on “handmade”. With “handmade” selected, I move up a couple spots.

Just to be sure I know what I’m doing, I’m going to take one more listing.

I test this one out by searching on “square garnet ring”. 



No good as an example, I’m already on the first page, second row.  Yay!

Let’s try this one.




Okay, searching on “lampwork copper necklace”, I’m not even on the first ten pages (1300 items).

Searching on “blue lampwork necklace”, I’m again not on the first ten pages (6000 items).

I look at my item again, trying to determine if those are appropriate search words.  Are these the kinds of words my customer would use if they wanted to find a necklace like this.  Yes, I decide they are so off I go to change things in the listing verbiage.

Checking two hours later, I’m still not in the first ten pages searching on “blue lampwork necklace”.   6000 items is a tough pool to crack.

However searching on “lampwork copper necklace” ( a pool of 1300 items), I’m on the first line of the first page.  That’s pretty good considering previously I wasn’t even on the first ten pages.




Conclusion

My advice is to look at each of your listings and think about how your customer would describe your item in 2-4 words. Those are the words/phrases you want to make sure are in your titles, descriptions, and tags. 



I told one of my friends, "Imagine your jewelry is all piled up on one table and you need to get a complete stranger to hand you a particular piece. Think about the words you'd use to describe the piece so this non-jewelry person could find it fast."

Then you have to use those keywords in your listing (title, description, tags).

And although they say it doesn't matter if the keywords are actually touching, my little bit of experimenting shows that it does make a difference. 

You can have the words "silver" "snake" and "pendant" eight times in your listing, but if someone is searching "silver snake pendant" and you don't have that exact phrase in that exact order, it won't rank as high.  I've tested this.

Until proven otherwise, I'd say whatever keyword string you think is appropriate for your customers to use would be one you'd want to repeat (as is!) a few times within the listing.

Making jewelry isn’t as simple as making jewelry. Well, it is if that’s all you want. But if you want to sell, there’s definitely lots of work that has nothing to do with making.

I’ve mentioned this before, but here again is my work formula. I spend a third of my time making, a third of my time marketing, and a third of my time managing.

Thanks for visiting my blog!