Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Creating an Item Feed for Google Base

Google is the most popular search engine, and most people use the regular Google search engine when they arrive at the home page. But Google has a lot more to offer. More and more people are searching on Google Products, a shopping search that is part of Google Base. This is a great way to get your items in front of people. Here’s what happened … I was doing my usual SEO stuff, and looked up the results for silver chain. Above the listed sites were three links with pictures. They were not sponsored links like AdWords advertising; they were from Google Products. After checking it out I found info on what it was. This used to be called Froogle. Guess that didn’t work. But this is very cool. I’m seeing big stores up there – Target, Kohls, Wal-Mart … but also some smaller sites. So I decided to try it. Here’s how it works … You need to create a comma delimited text file. For those of you who know how to use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program that can save a file in this format, it’s an easy thing to do. Basically, columns and rows … each box is called a cell. Your item information goes into these boxes. If you don’t know how to use it, try asking a friend for a few tips – many people have to use Excel at work. Lots of kids use it in school, too. I set up an Excel file with column headers labeled with the attributes I needed: Item title, description, picture URL, price, page URL, brand name (Jewelry24Seven), condition (new) and (required) expiration date of 31 days – the maximum time allowed. Then I entered my items – I did the chains on my website first – filling in each cell with the attributes of the different chains. When I was done I saved this as a .txt file in a comma delimited format. Name the file something you will be able to find and save it to your My Documents folder. Very easy! Most JET members have a Google account already. If not, register for one. Sign in, and look for the link to Google Base on your account page. First you have to “register” the file (or feed) with them. This process is very easy; basically you are giving them the name of your file. Next comes basic information … URL of your site or Etsy shop, company name etc. Then you get a box with a Browse button to find the file you just saved. Simply find the file and click the Upload button. That’s it! Next thing I knew … my feed was approved! It took about a half hour for the approval confirmation to arrive by email. Approved items are searchable within 24 hours. Next, I’m going to do all the items in my Etsy store! Did I mention … this is FREE!!!??? Try it! Looks like a great way to promote … Bob Edwards Jewelry24Seven Handcrafted Silver Jewelry

Robert Edwards is a proud member of the Jewelry on Etsy Team - JET. He is a jewelry designer and metalsmith in New York City with over 30 years experience in the jewelry trade, specializing in artisan made silver jewelry and custom sized silver bracelets. This article may be reproduced provided it contains this author's statement and all links remain intact. ©2008 Robert Edwards

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No Excuses (part 2) Setting Goals- Defining a Specific Target

Often times, we think of our on-line business as an extension of our favorite hobby. This is disastrous thinking if we intend on making that business a success. Our hobbies are what we use to escape the ugliness of “work”, but once we cross that line from creating for enjoyment to creating for income, we have to change our way of thinking. That’s not to say that you have to give up your hobby. Just know that the things you create but don’t intend to sell are your hobby items now. Those items that are created to sell or use as promotional tools are your business. Ok, so having established which are your hobby items and which are your business, ask yourself this question: Is my business as successful as it could be? I’ll bet each one of you reading this heard a resounding “NO!” in your head. I’ll even bet some of you said it out loud. Many of us start each year, month, week, or whatever telling ourselves that some day we’ll sell more…some day we’ll be so successful that we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Well…how, my dear, do you plan on doing that? You can’t get to Disney World without a plan. And once you get there, you’d better have a map and be prepared to wait in line…unless… you know exactly where you want to go. Wandering aimlessly around the internet, listing items wildly on every site you find is about as effective as if you were at Disney World, standing in every line for every ride, when all you really want to do is get to Cinderella’s Castle. Have you figured out the analogy yet? The castle is your goal. And it can represent anything, you just have to define it. Once you do that, your odds of meeting that goal will be much better. So what now? We need to identify our individual goals. No wait, screw that, it sounds too much like homework. Just answer this question: What is it that you want to accomplish with regard to your business? Do you even want to be in business? If your answer to the second question is “No, this is just a hobby.” then stop here. Take your items off-line and stop cluttering up the web with mindless junk. In this scenario, on the road to success, you are either a speeding two-ton truck or you are road kill, creating speed bumps for the rest of us. Now, if the answer to the first question is “Total World Domination”…ok, well, you’re still dreaming, but at least you’re headed in the right direction. Why don’t we start with something a little more attainable like, “I would like to double my sales from last year.” Or, if you don’t really have any sales to speak of from last year, pick a number. It could be 50 sales, 100 sales, or a dollar amount like $500, $1000, $5000. Whatever the number, be realistic. That does not mean pick a low number. It is perfectly realistic to pick any one of the numbers I mentioned, even if it’s at the high end. Other sellers have done it, why can’t we? I’m going to set my goal at doubling my current sales. Now, that isn’t random but I have to state that clearly in order to have a set number in mind. As of my one year anniversary on Etsy, I had made 49 sales in my on-line shop. To keep it simple, I’ll round that up to 50. According to my goal for this year, I should make 100 additional sales by March 27 next year. I have picked a particular number, a clear target to reach. I am now 5 weeks into my second year on Etsy and already, I have 16 sales in my jewelry shop. That’s 1/3 of my total sales from my first year, made in just over a month. Not a bad start. The idea is to keep that going. We are headed into summer in the US which is notoriously slower in retail, generally speaking. It is, however, a busier time for those who choose to sell their handmade items at art and craft fairs. I cringe at the thought! Sitting behind a table in the hot summer months hawking my jewelry is not my idea of fun in the least. But it is definitely one way to boost sales, big time! It is also difficult for anyone in my position who works a 40 hour a week job and needs to be at work on the weekends. (Did I tell you I love retail?) That makes it very difficult for me to sell at art fairs and festivals since I don’t want my jewelry business to disrupt my full time job if I can help it. Another option for me might be to do house parties during the week. A few hours selling at private parties has often put an extra $700 or so in my pocket. Not a bad gig if you can get it. So, if you haven’t done it yet, a very important goal for this coming summer should be to book a few festivals or parties to keep the cash flow a little steady. If you’re lucky and have the time and energy to devote to one of these a week or every two weeks, you should be sitting pretty well before the holiday shopping season in the fall. Don’t forget to plan your inventory accordingly! Check out your local and state government web pages to find festivals in your area. In Illinois, check out the Illinois Arts Council for a yearly schedule of all the arts and craft fairs in the state. They put out a book each year with a list of all the festivals and art fairs, dates, entry fees, contact information, and deadlines. If you are not in Illinois, try checking out a great web site called Eventlister.com to find events in your area. Many of these fairs have entry deadlines way in advance of the actual fair date, so now is a good time to plan for next year as well. Get your goals in order and stick with the plan. A clearly defined target is by far the best motivator! ************************************** Mary Ryan is not an expert in Marketing and Promoting, just a keen observer in the retail business of which she has been cursed to work in for most of her adult life. She is an Interior Design Consultant and Jewelry Designer and sells her jewelry online in several venues (some still under construction) including http://littlebrownbird.etsy.com http://littlebrownbird.silkfair.com http://littlebrownbird.icraft.ca Her blog can be read at http://thelittlebrownbird.blogspot.com

Monday, April 7, 2008


A multi-part series on marketing, promoting for your online shop. As a jewelry designer, I always wish I had more time to play around with my shiny beads and findings, creating new little pretties. But as a business woman, I get very frustrated when those same little pretties sit in my on-line shop too long. I would love the day when I can say that I am a full time jewelry designer. But if my pieces don’t sell, that will never be a reality. I just started selling on-line in March of 2007 on Etsy. And now, at my one year anniversary of opening my Etsy shop, I am taking a look at some much needed changes for my business. Last year, my biggest goal was to get off my butt and get my on-line shop open. I had wasted so much time in previous years wishing and dreaming, and trying to build my own web site with absolutely no clue what I was doing. When I came upon Etsy, it was like a godsend! A ready-made shop to which I only needed to add my jewelry. It was such a no-brainer for someone like me in order to get up and running as quickly as possible. Mission accomplished for 2007! I was so proud of myself. By the end of July, I was beating my head against the wall with very little sales and no clue how to increase them. I had been reading the Etsy forums religiously and trying to gather all the information I could on how to promote my shop. Here’s what I learned: *Post in the Forums often to get your shop noticed *Join the chat rooms to get your shop noticed *List often to get your shop noticed *Add a funny comment to the treasuries to get your shop noticed Guess what I noticed…none of these things worked. I was spending lots of time doing nothing but watching my little avatar on the screen and checking my shop for hearts and views and no sales. Why didn’t I have any sales? I even read those forum threads entitled “Why Don’t I Have Any Sales?” hoping to get some answers. The more I read, the more depressed I got. Everyone sounded like me. At least I wasn’t alone in my misery. I felt like one of those blind mice, walking into walls and never getting anywhere. I marveled at sellers who seemed to have the magic touch. One such seller has been on Etsy only 3 months longer than I have, yet her sales in her jewelry shop alone are pushing 1000. I still would like to know all her secrets but I am starting to realize, they aren’t secrets at all, just good business sense. But try teaching business to an artist! Having just basic business classes in school, from which I learned nearly nothing, I am left to either wing it or learn from the masters. I started looking at what the top sellers were doing. Not so much what they were selling as HOW they were selling. And I began to make a list that answered the most often asked question, “WHY DON’T I HAVE ANY SALES?!” This time, instead of retreating to the old forum threads, I took a look at my own shop. Here’s what learned this time around: *Your pictures suck! *Your one sucky picture in each listing is the only picture in the listing *Your descriptions suck! *You don’t have sizes listed *You don’t ship internationally *Your domestic shipping charges are outrageous *You don’t have any tags or have only a few tags in each of your listings *Oh yah, and your tags suck too! *You believe that the tips you learned from that famous forum thread actually work *You believe that it just takes time *You believe that if serious buyers want your items they will come and find you *You think it’s cute or a signature trademark to have a family photo or weird picture as your avatar *Your location is a web address, or worse, not even listed Well, it’s time to wake up from La La Land, sweetheart, and realize that you are running a business! In the following posts I will attempt to explain away some of the mystery of why sales just aren’t happening. Here are the things we will be focusing on to help us hit our target. 1. Setting goals (Define a specific target to aim for) 2. Your product (Step up your game) 3. Your pricing (Get what you are worth) 4. Descriptions (Really? Are you kidding?) 5. Photos (What the heck is that? Vs. Ooh! What’s that?!) 6. Merchandising (Dressing your best) 7. Marketing (Are you where you need to be?) 8. Promoting (Passive vs. aggressive) Stay tuned for the first step in our 8-step rehab program…Setting Goals. ************************************** Mary Ryan is not an expert in Marketing and Promoting, just a keen observer in the retail business of which she has been cursed to work in for most of her adult life. She is an Interior Design Consultant and Jewelry Designer and sells her jewelry online in several venues (some still under construction) including Etsy http://littlebrownbird.etsy.com/ Silkfair http://littlebrownbird.silkfair.com/ iCraft http://icraft.ca/littlebrownbird Her blog can be read at http://thelittlebrownbird.blogspot.com/