Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Week in Pictures

Awwwwwesome beads from potterygirl1 - these little blobs are so sweet and creamy coloured..!


Vintage buttons bought from ingrandmasattic to use on textile cuffs and brooches


Gorrrrgeous Moroccan beads from Yvonnesjewels - they were sold as clay but they're stone.

Incredibly pretty ceramic pendant from boonepottery - I'm going to have to keep that pink heart one for myself!


Forget-me-nots by the garden shed


Jasmine by the garden fence


Happenstance layerings of antique paper and lace

earrings on the go



Finished pieces of jewelry waiting to be photographed and listed (soon!)



And a cake I made for Mum's birthday- first proper attempt at icing! Don't judge me. And this is as fancy as my food presentation is ever going to get. I caught a few minutes of Masterchef on the telly earlier tonight (I'm alright now, thanks) and it made me angry to see people dicking around with sauce in squeezy bottles and little wafers of shit. Just put the damn food on the plate and give it to me already! I hate pretentious food presentation. Almost as much as I hate it when people sift icing sugar over desserts. Am I still talking?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation time

I'm having a sudden break from the shop for 2 weeks- shipping is delayed till October 5th. I do have to go to the Post Office tomorrow but that's it for 2 weeks, so if you are very lucky and go buy something right now... you might get through in time! Otherwise...I need a break from my own brain, and the only way that's possible is if I can stop it worrying about housekeeping on Etsy. And the only way to do that is to switch it off. Etsy, not my brain. OH if I could do that...

Some loot from a parcel I received from boneflowers - look at the graphics!!! They're killer!!!!

Fagin's Daughter is on complete vacation- the only reason Sparrow Salvage isn't on complete vacation is because Etsy removes you from search when you do so, and as so many people search for me by name on a daily basis, putting the shop on vacation would mean I wouldn't show up for them and they'd think me gone for good! Not the greatest set-up Etsy, but since you haven't bothered to change it all this time I'm forced to work around you.

Inside, we have teeny vintage pearls, little flower beads, and this eeny weeny box with even eenier weenier little beads in! I think they're watch parts...

In the next two weeks I hope to do what I was supposed to do the last time I took 2 weeks off- clean up this darned blasted freakin' mother loving studio! There's so much stuff in here I may- no, will- never use. I've counted 5 boxes of vintage/antique paper and book scrap that I'll never use, as well as a suitcase of leather, another newly discovered suitcase of textiles for kits, a huge tub of pretty linens I once had bunting dreams for, etc etc and etcetera.

I made cake! Black forest, from scratch (no box mix!) - I don't make enough cakes.

So hopefully in 2 weeks I'll have a ton of kits both of the textile and paper variety, vintage fabric and antique supplies up the yin-yang, as well as lots of new jewelry, a spanking clean studio and some sort of huge announcement about the future of my world. Yes kids, this is one of those 'changing my life' vacations that I have a fetish for. And this time I mean it. With cake.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mail tiemz

I love getting things in the mail, and this week I received TWO presents from my fellow creatives!


This incredible stash of crystal beads from corvidDelights - those huge rose quartz chunks (the biggest one is about the size of a marshmallow) are beads!! They're drilled through! The spears were in her de-stash shop a while back and I always meant to buy them- they're even more amazing in real life.

I love the little pink druzy (between the amethysts) - that's going in my special collection on my bedside table, can't let that one go.

Then I got a lovely little package from Numinositybeads...


Headpins she's made herself! They're all pale pink and spotty and lovely, I can't wait to find something that's good enough to put them in! Sometimes I get supplies that are so awesome I get scared to use them, in case I ruin them with something terrible. Does anyone else get this? It's only these last few months that I've been able to crack into the 'precious' stash (after Fanci goaded me) and use things that are just way too divine to be bought down to earth in my crafty rubbish. :P (That's how I feel.)

Then, while traipsing about on eBay I ran into these curious critters:


The description for them read 'These anodised buttons along with hundreds of thousands of other various types of buttons ( no exaggeration ) were found buried under sheets of corrugated iron which in turn were buried under soil under the floor boards of a garden shed on an abandoned semi rural property.'


How cool is that!?! Under soil, under iron, under flooring! What a mysterious occurrence. Naturally stuff flike this gets me all in a frenzy of wonder, and I had to have them. I've never seen anodised buttons before, these are from the 1960s and will make great details on doily brooches and cuffs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Iceberg

A few days ago I did some tinkering as I am want to do- I bought some etching cream designed for people to fancy up their wine glasses and applied to it the usual dose of inappropriate use of tools (one thing about being pioneery is that you have to use tools for things they're not designed for.) In this case it wasn't too much of a stretch- this cream is for etching glass and that's exactly what I did with it.


It wasn't exactly the power house of frosty permanence I was looking for. You're supposed to brush it on and leave it for about 5 minutes, then wash it off. I brushed it on then left it- for 5 hours. Because I completely forgot about it! I went off and made a cake, because that's what I usually do while I'm waiting for some toxic stuff to finish doing something fun in the laundry.


The pink ones show obvious frosting, and I'm pleased with that- on the right you can see their original condition.


The green bicones here you can see have barely frosted at all. The frosted ones are on the left- I think...


Here's some Czech leaves- all it's really done here is strip the colour off (frosted ones are on top), but that's okay because they're now original at least, and they have a snowy feel to them.

So that was mildly successful- I shall do more of that later. And for funs, here some random shots of my desk:


Technically these were a couple of days ago, my desk is now awash in thoroughly uninspiring (to me) elements as I bag up the final mountain of destash.

I feel lately that my blog posts are somewhat sober and uninteresting. It's funny when I look through my blog, I think 'if someone wanted to get an idea of who I was, they'd end up with a pretty skewed picture just going from this!' It's not that the blogs not me, it is- but well, it's a bit of a Disney version. In real life I'm buckets of fun! Here I'm probably a bit too professional for my own good.


While I make attempts to remedy this, here's a few things about me you don't see exhibited here:

1. I swear like a dock worker. Not every second word; let's just say I cruise permanently on Billy Connolly mode. I try to get creative with my cursing when I'm in losing my patience with something, though that usually ends up with me just muttering a string of obscenities. Being within earshot of me is not for the faint hearted.

2. I like bloke's movies. People assume because I'm a girl and I'm wearing pretty floral print things and generally being nice that I'm going to want to see some heartwarming tale about some woman moving to a small town after a divorce and falling for the local half-her-age who drives a beat up truck. No thanks! I'd much rather something with explosions, aliens, car chases or all of the above.


3. I'm a domestic diva. Keeping house is probably my number one biggest hobby/passion, to the point where I'm trying to find a way of making an income out of it. I like being at home- baking, housework, decorating... it's all my bag, baby. I don't see any reason what so ever why people can't have a lovely clean and nice looking home no matter how poor they are. I live on the poverty line and I've managed it well.


4. I feel like I'm the only person involved in 'nostalgic retail' who doesn't want to go live in the past. 'Born in the wrong era' is not applicable to me. To me the past is a dull, unhygienic, labour intensive, repressed misery devoid of TV and internet (and electricity if you go back far enough). What I like best about being alive now is that I can pretend it's the 1940s or 1840s or whatever, and then once I've done that for a few hours I can have internet and TV. I love the design of things made in the past, and though I do think there are some things that were nicer then (people had better manners/fashion/attitudes about life), I doubt even a certain bow-tied chap in a police box could get me to go back there for more than a day trip.


5. In my previous internet life, I used to write fictional stories about certain well-known pirates and wizards. They were fun and did wonders to exercise my writing skills since writing with known and popular characters gives you an instant world to dive into and an instant audience to get feed-back from. I wrote mostly pirate stories- so many in fact that I can be informally credited with inventing a commonly used term in that fandom. And no, you can't see them!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gruel and honey

There are some kits available in the shop!


Only 5 up right now and one is gone already, so quick sticks my dears. There will be more available next weekend, possibly the second or even last lot as my 'unwanted' textile supply is very sparse now.


On the supply front though, I had a massive clean out this week and now officially have more supplies I don't need than stuff I do! So jewelry-making takes a back seat this next week and probably the next one while I spend some time making up little 'bead soups' for fagin's daugher.


There's also a massive amount of Victorian supply left. I feel like half my studio is 'stuff I gotta sell'. I'd like to get it out there as quick as possible so the place feels a bit more clear.

It's lucky that photographing little antique things is one of my favourite tasks ever.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the sum for the whole

Working steadily at my desk, developing mostly elements of things but not getting much done in the way of finished pieces. Determined to get more finished product out of my desk than custom orders, I've rented two seasons of Cranford and a small collection of dumb Hollywood comedy in an effort to stare at a screen, because there's nothing like watching TV to make me want to sew at the same time.


I am in half a mind to do a challenge of sorts, some time soon. I have some cuff bases that I feel I ought to finish, but I'm wondering if I should offer them to a select few of you instead, to see what sort of world you can build on a scruffy lace base. Still ruminating over that one.


In the meantime here's some pictures of pretty fabrics littering the studio, soon to be cuffs and brooches and possibly even kits, if I can persuade myself to let some of it go. It's easy enough kitting up the dark and murky tones, but when it comes to the dusty pastels I'm still a little clingy! I know there are quite a few of you waiting for kits and I'm trying to get some done, hopefully there will be 6 to 8 of them available this Sunday coming.


And here are some headpins I made using Fanci's technique. Just the same as her I used stone beads, UTEE and never-gunna-wear-it make up minerals.


Due to my make up being more powdered than hers I've ended up with a sort of copper gold covering rather than a glitterfest, which if I do it right only partially covers the bead, leaving the colours of the stone still visible.

I love that the one right up the back there (which has two beads; amethyst and a smaller angelite one) looks like a seashell! I'm yet to perfect the technique but I think these are pretty good for starters.

I've also just creaked open the purse and lashed out on...


A disc cutter and dapping set! So I can make amazing bead caps (like these) and other ring things out of the myriad of antique tin things I have laying about the place here. Those caps linked to above are awesome, but no one's offering anything with quite the right level of rustic ruination that I require, so I figured I'd make my own and offer some to you chaps as well. Excitement! There's nothing quite like investing in new tools. Also as I realised some time ago, I enjoy making supplies more than making jewelry. Methinks Sparrow Salvage is about to expand.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

inspiration - artisan jewelry

Since we've been doing a lot of talking about technicals and since the only pretty stuff I've shown you lately is my own work, I think we're long overdue to see some exquisite trinkets from our fellow genius Etsians. So here are a few of my latest favourites.



Time whisperer by lejonklou all the way over there in Sweden! I've noticed many Swedish shops have a a very ethereal style and this one's no different- gorgeous snow-pale hues and elegant serenity. Those beautiful little faceted pink beads are lucite! They look like perfect rhodonite. I love the shabby edge on the focal -which she made herself; I'm very jealous of anyone who can make their own glazed pottery beads. I think that and enamel are my two biggest envies.



The Noosphere by fancifuldevices- you know she had to show up so let's get her out of the way early, otherwise she'll fuss around up the back being noisy. Seriously though these are blowing my mind even more than her stuff usually does for me- again the big chunkies in the middle are lucite (I'm warming to this vintage plastic thing) and the contrast of super rustic stone discs and delicate lace is just superb. Are we surprised? No.


Desert Shaman earrings by papvier - I adore the rough tourmaline together with the soft downy feathers! The contrast of slick pure white teeth, rustic orange on the feathers and that chocolate coloured wire... delicious.



I don't know what this used to be called- it's called reserved now! I'm usually a bit scared of super-chunky things, being that I'm the sort of person who wears very delicate jewelry. This necklace from MorningDove...I'm in love! The giant slabs of chrysophrase are perfect focals for the natural rustic and antique tribal beads between them. There's something powerful about this piece- not just the bold style; there's a real power in the stones. (This is also a great example of complimentary backgrounds!)


Dewdrops by Stregata - again I'm all over the contrasting textures (I sense a theme). Rustic rich metal drops and creamy smooth shell beads, and then the little glow of the moonstone. Luvverly.


Rustic by Vintajia (an Aussie!) - the deep colours in the raku and glass are perfectly showcasing the fire in the copper. I love the way she's wrapped the hanging beads too, not your usual head pin situation. Inspiring! (inspiring is a great word to use when what you really mean is 'I'm totally gunna steal that idea'.)


Poison Ivy by beadsnbones who always does such gorrrrrgeous work. The greens here are intoxicating to me right now- all that gorgeous patina and ceramic hand-formed shapes. The little pink seed beads are to die for!! Great contrast to the sea green too.



Birch bark rose ring by Umbellata, with the most exquisite rustic metal bezel like lava stone, contrasting with the slick glassy resin. This is a serious ring, sitting up high on the hand. And a bloody good price too! I'd buy it but again- I don't wear chunky things and this is some serious chunk.


Last but certainly not least - Mauve feathers by CorvidDelights, a seller who is not only one of my bestest friends who I like, tell everything to and junk, but who's also evolving right before my eyes into some kind of bead-wielding enchantress. Her work was always fantastic, but now there's a divinity coming out of it. The grungy wire and black chain with the delicate pink is drop-dead awesome.

+++

So you can see pretty strong themes here of rich earth tones especially green and amber gold, as well as the contrast of smooth and creamy with rough and rustic. This wasn't just a post to showcase some of my recent favourites, it was an exercise in what my mind is attracted to lately. I have tons of stuff in my faves that I could've shown you- but these were the things that jumped out at me. Looking at all this stuff my keywords that come to me are 'feminine but wild', 'pretty but rustic', 'pure but ancient'. Contrasts? In some ways. More unexpected examples of a type. femininity can be wild, pretty can be rustic, purity can be ancient.

There is often a significant lesson in these sorts of actions- the things you are drawn to always harbour clues to what you are currently seeking in your own world, creative or not. Sometimes (if you believe in that sort of thing) you can apply colour therapy to it. I know perfectly well why I'm attracted to pretty pink and dusty green right now, and I know what the smooth cream and rustic textures mean too. But I don't have to tell you every thing. :P


All images belong to the Etsy sellers represented

Monday, September 5, 2011

Relevancy - taming the savage beast



UGH. I hear you. Relevancy, SEO, tags, search words, blah blah blah. Yes it's confusing and yes there's a lot of info out there and yes a lot of it might as well be written in ancient Greek. I know there are plenty of you out there that don't understand SEO so hopefully this will help!

Before I go into relevancy I want to get one thing clear- there is more to being seen on Etsy than relevancy!! I wrote a post about how you can improve other windows of visibility here - try to keep that in mind as well. No don't go reading that now, read it later. Read this now!


How relevancy works (I know it's boring- you can skip this if you don't care but reading the instructions, really helps) - When people look for something on Etsy search, the searchbot is returning the closest listings it can find to that query. If someone searches for 'sterling silver leaf pendant' the searchbot is going to return everything that has those words in the title and tags. The more those words appear, the more relevant it thinks it is. If the title or tags matches the exact search (that is the words are right after each other like the search is) then it's even more relevant.

Imagine you went to the supermarket and you couldn't shop - you had someone running around for you instead. If you said to them 'cookies' they'll run off and come back with a trolley full of cookies of every kind and you'd have to paw through them to find the ones you wanted. So you'd be more likely to say (for example) 'choc chip cookies'. If you have more specific requirements you might say 'giant choc chip cookies' or 'gluten free choc chip cookies' or even 'choc chip cookie ice cream' (damn that example made me hungry...)

But you see what I mean, yes? You gotta be specific. 



1. It's all in the title - well most of it

I don't believe there's any one most important factor in relevancy, but a good title will definitely carry you far. When you list earrings for example, you can't just say 'earrings'. You can say 'pink earrings' but that's a bit generic- there are thousands of results for 'pink earrings' on Etsy's search. But if you say 'pink lampwork earrings' or 'pink enamel earrings' or even 'pink hoop earrings', you'll be doing better.

Making a title for the right buyer is somewhere we meet our old friend 'Know Your Market'. Get inside the mind of the buyer- to want your item, what would they be looking for? If it's a pair of earrings with crosses hanging from them, are they earrings that will appeal to a catholic lady, or are they more gothic? Are they upside down crosses? They'll appeal more to occult people. Get the picture? Buyers will narrow down their search according to their desires, so you've got to be there to provide it, like a good butler who knows his master is thirsty before the master knows it himself.




 So let's illustrate this tutorial with an example - those earrings up there. You can see the title above the image so I'm going to show you how I arrived at those words. First I had to give myself a bit of an idea what I want to call them. I wrote down doily earrings, crochet earrings, lace earrings...oh that's good. Pink lace earrings. Yeah that's good! (Technically it's not lace it's crochet, but I'm working with public perception here.)

If you've got a hard time of it trying to think of what to call your thing, look around in the shops of sellers who make similar work to you- what do they call it? (make sure they're doing well with views and sales and their term is searched for, no point learning from someone who's getting it wrong!)

The next thing I do is go to etsy's search and type in my title ideas. I start with 'doily' - sure enough, neither earrings or jewelry came up as a suggestion. (edit - at the time of writing this 'doily earrings' wasn't a thing. It is now a thing so it comes up!) I start searching 'lace e' and 'lace earrings' came up as a high suggestions. The suggestions that pop up in Etsy search when you're typing are examples of things people have popularly searched for in the past, so clearly these are the terms people are using to find what they want. The higher in the suggestion list, the more popular it is. So if you're unsure what to call your item you can use the search bar to generate ideas. I added pink because there's a lot of results for lace earrings, and colour is something people are likely to add to their search. If someone searches doily earrings they still come up, so I'm covered there as well.

Now, Etsy has put it out there that the first 3 words are the most important. Untrue. What they should have said was 'the closer to the start your keywords are, the more search weight they carry'. The most important words in this listing's title are 'lace' and 'earrings', so I put those immediately after my arty title.*



Pro tip - If you sell similar things, don't give them all the same title. it might be more beneficial for you to list them as individual listings rather than as having more than 1 available.  For example, someone might search 'pink lace earrings' but other people might search 'pink doily earrings' or 'crochet earrings' - so if I had two or more of these to list I could swap the words around in the titles get all those people. This way you can give similar items a different title and draw in a different crowd. 

2. Tags mean everything - okay half the thing

Now on to tags! Tags tags tags. You need to have your tag phrases match the keywords in your title. If your keyword in the title is 'lace earrings' you need to have 'lace earrings' as ONE tag for your listing to even start being relevant. Tags are just as important as your title. A wedding dress should be tagged 'wedding dress', a red balloon should be tagged 'red balloon' etc.

So- here's a close up of my tags on the earrings:



See how every tag I have is a double word tag? Single word tags are kind of pointless- you only get so many of these so stuff them full. Having two tags 'wedding' and 'dress' will not make you anywhere near as relvant as the single tag 'wedding dress'. So - you can see the little coloured squares up there; the green blocks show where I've used two words as a single tag- the same two words that sit next to each other in the title. This is important- words next to each other carry more weight. If someone searches 'pink lace earrings' my listing is right on top (at the time of writing this!) - if they search 'lace earrings' I'll come in high as well, since I have a 'lace earrings' tag AND the words next to each other in the title.

The blue squares are showing you where I've put tags of other words that are in my title.

The pink and purple squares are highlighting where I've used the top two keywords of my title (lace and earrings) as many times as I can in my tags- repeating your keywords will not make your listing more relevant but I tend to do it anyway because that's how I roll. By teaming 'lace' and 'earrings' with other words I'm covering myself for other titles people might search for, like 'pink earrings', 'crochet earrings' and 'lace jewelry'.

The searchbot will think 'the buyer is searching for pink lace earrings, and this listing has 'pink, lace AND earrings in it's title and in it's tags- I conclude it to be relevant!' 

 
Now we've done the critical elements of relevancy (at least the ones you can control) here are a few other things you should consider so humans can find you in search as well as Etsybots.


3. Categories matter

The category drop-downs (the 'what is it?' drop downs you fill out when you're listing) are not a factor in relevancy, but they are still very important in being found. Almost no guides to this stuff mentions them, but they are an important part of search. When you shop, you don't just enter 'earrings' and then sit there wading through 13,303941 listings to find something you like. (If you do, you gottalotta patience.) People are going to be specific about their search such as 'sterling silver earrings' or 'amethyst bead earrings' etc, like the cookies (oh don't mention them again!) Then after that they're highly likely to narrow down their search on the left side- from Handmade to Jewelry to Earrings... and then they're going to pick something from that (rather unhelpful) list of styles.

So when you fill out your categories, don't just think 'eh who cares' on the third category. I know they leave much to be desired, but work with them the best you can. If you're not sure where to put them, go to search and look for a similar item, then see where people are putting them. I have the earrings above listed in 'fiber' because although I think fiber jewelry is stuff made from spun wool or felt, looking in the category itself it seems to be where 90% of the lace earrings live (second to 'dangle', which is a really vague and unhelpful term in my opinion). And technically crochet lace is fiber. If you have a few similar listings try choosing different sub-categories and seeing what works best.

4. description

The words in your description only matter if you care about Google- Etsy relevancy doesn't look at them. I know it's a butt pain along with everything else, but you should care about Google since it's what people find us with if they don't know what Etsy is.

Your description should have the words you have used in your title and tags. So for my listing of 'pink lace earrings' I should have those words in my description - this is for Google's sake, not Etsy search. Under where you write your description in listings manager, you see a 'Preview listing as a Google search result' text block. The words you see coming up here are the words Google will use to bring search results, so make sure the keywords you used in your title and tags show up here. Don't just cut and paste the title! That looks spammy - write them in as part of the natural flow of the description.



If you have a link in your description that goes back into your shop, people are more likely to stay in your shop. This isn't anything much to do with relevancy, but once you are found you'd like them to stay awhile, yes? I found I've upped the traffic to my store front by having these 'link-backs' in my descriptions so clearly it helps people navigate my shop. Not all of my listings have them (more forgetfulness than anything) but when I do them I switch it around, some times it's a link to my shop front, other times it's a link to a particular section. Sometimes on custom orders I'll link to my sold page to help people realise I can re-make some things. To make a link-back, all you have to do is type your full URL (including http://) in the description box and Etsy's listingbots will take it live for you.


Other notes: You will only have ONE result come up on the first page. There's some kind of magical do-hickey which ensures there's no more than one item on the first page by the same seller, unless of course the search is so narrow in result that it can't be helped. This is to ensure one or two sellers don't dominate the pile, so don't have a princess moment if you only see one of your sterling silver Dalek charms on the front page instead of the 12 you have listed.

Also remember that if you're number 5 most relevant listing for 'angel costume' and you can't figure out why the person ahead of you is more relevant- relax! It matters not. You're on page one, that's good. In fact if you're on page 2 that's fine too. Relevancy might determine where you show up, but it has nothing to do with the 100 different reasons why someone would pick your listing over another. Price range, materials, picture, etc- these all factors in being clicked. It's not the end of the road when you come up relevant, you have to be a stand-out example on that page so your photos have to be super-awesome. Don't rely on being just what the shopper was looking for!


I know it seems like a brain drain now, but once you do a few listings it'll become easier. Do your listings a few at a time and don't panic about it. Generally speaking if your stats say Search is in spot #5 or higher on your Etsy traffic sources, you're good.

When all is said and done the best exposure you can give yourself is networking. Now is the time (if you're not all learned out) to go look at this forum post I wrote. It's all about using your Etsy shop stats (OH how I love stats) to find and develop the other ways people are coming to your shop.

So there you go!

footnotes:

*There's a lot of talk going about that having arty titles like mine are no good- granted this may be true for hooking in Google, but in terms of search results on Etsy I find no problems. I have arty titles on my jewelry because it's part of my shop's character - people like them and when I experimented with removing them, my sales droppped. So I keep 'em!


This post was edited on 17/2/2015 - some portions have been removed for clarity.