Wednesday, January 28, 2009

EntreCard is a waste of time

(I hope I don't catch any flap for negative comments about EntreCard...)

I tried it for several months and discovered three things:
1. You need to take the time to drop your card on a lot of EC users in order to get a lot of traffic to your blog. This takes time even if you have a program to help you with this.
2. When dropping a lot of cards, there is no time to actually read the blogs where you're dropping.
3. Even if you get a lot of traffic on your blog, people are just stopping by, dropping their card, and exiting without reading the content.

I'm just not so impressed with EntreCard.

I've seen high traffic blogs with the EC widget. Once they take the EC widget away, the traffic drops way down. The number of comments on the blog, however, remain the same.

My opinion:

If you want a lot of traffic, join EntreCard and drop your card everywhere.

If you want a lot of quality traffic who reads and appreciates your blog, don't bother with EntreCard.

A friend of mine summed it up by saying "EntreCard is the freeway through blogland. You speed through and miss all the little towns along the way. I like to take the country roads so I can stop and enjoy the little towns I pass through. If I like a particular town, I'll probably visit again."

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another important tool for your Giveaway

Several weeks ago I posted about how to host a giveaway on your blog. If you're using this info, you must add this brilliant blogger to your arsenal of giveaway tools: Handmade Showcase. The link has been added to the sidebar under Giveaways Toolbox.
See it there?

What makes her site so special?
She conducts an interview with you, posts several pictures of your products, and conducts a giveaway of your item(s) for you.

According to her Project Wonderful stats, she has a lot of steady traffic, which means a LOT of people will see her feature of you and your shop. (Yes, I looked at her PW stats. I always look. More on that subject later...)

I browsed through the items and Etsy shops featured... she features some beautiful, high quality items ranging from baby goods, jewelry, other sewn items, paintings, paper goods, bath and body products, scarves...

Please go check her out and consider contacting her to sponsor a giveaway for you.

I'm heading over there myself, to see about sponsoring a giveaway with my plates.

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

: : Giveaway : :

Just a little self promotion here: I'm having a giveaway at one of my other blogs, The Pass It On Plates Blog.

If you have a minute, hop over there to enter. Would love to see one of my readers over here win over there.

Good luck!
Click here to enter!

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

A nosy peek into bloggers' PW stats

I admitted it before and I'll admit it again: I'm nosy.

Not out of curiosity or boredom, but I'm nosy in the same way a mother wants to get to know her childrens' friends and their families. I want to make sure I'm making the kind of alliances I think I'm making.

First I'll tell you how to look at Project Wonderful stats of other blogs, then I'll tell you why you may want to do this yourself. If you're offended, I'm sorry. Hopefully you'll understand when I explain why.

How to check stats of other bloggers:
Yes. You can do this even if you don't use PW (Project Wonderful,) and this info may be useful to you outside of PW. I'll explain why in a minute.

Find the PW ad boxes on the blog you're looking into. Click on the link under the ads as if you were going to advertise on the blog. This will take you to Project Wonderful where you can view the daily visitors and page visits for the past 30 days. If you scroll down you can see where today's visitors came from and where visitors came from over the past seven days.

Don't forget to count comments. Not every blog uses PW, and of course PW only shows the stats of blogs using them. If you're interested in the traffic for a blog not using PW, you can look at the amount of comments to get a general idea of their traffic.
  • Does every post (or nearly every post) have comments?
  • Are the comments a single conversation between two or three people or are there a variety of commenters?
I don't know what the exact stats are for the number of readers who actually leave a comment* but if you figure that a high guesstimate of 20% of a blog's readers will leave comments, then a blog with about 10 regular comments may have approx 50 regular readers. That's just to give you an idea as you peek through blogs.

*I searched but couldn't find a number. Anyone know what % of readers will comment on a post?

That's the how.

So...why do it?

Most of us bloggers have developed some solid business alliances (and yes, some have turned into great friendships.), either with other bloggers we visit regularly or with our own readers who leave regular comments on our blog posts.

When looking for a new business alliance, it's handy to know what kind of traffic their blog is generating so we know if this is a good fit for us. If a blogger puts the word out there that they would like donations for an auction or giveaway, you may want to know if this will put your product in front of 20 different people each day or 600 people each day. Since donating your item to an activity on their site is advertising for you, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck.

One last note. If you look at the PW stats and see a lot of visits from Entrecard, please keep in mind that Entrecard members visit a lot of other members' blogs, click on the Entrecard widget, then leave without reading any of the content. Stats showing hundreds of visits from Entrecard may not indicate a number of people who actually read the blog you're looking into, so I'd recommend subtracting the Entrecard stats from the overall traffic on that blog.

What do you think?
Do you look at stats of other bloggers? How do you use this information?

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Newsletter Tools and Techniques

Last week I told you (with a great example) why newsletters are such a powerful marketing tool for your business. You saw in the example, an easy way to encourage people to opt in to your mailing list.

Today I'd like to share some newsletter tools for you to explore for your own newsletter. I'll also share a few techniques you can use to make it the best marketing experience possible.

Newsletters work by both email and snail mail and there are advantages to both methods. You may find that you have both types of contacts, as well. Ask visitors to your site to opt-in to your email newsletter and retain names and addresses of people who:
+ purchase items from you
+ win giveaways (if your prize requires their shipping address)
+ sign up for your mailing list - if you do craft shows, encourages interested people to sign up

When you ask people to sign up, be sure your privacy policy is easy to locate and easy to read.

It's ok to offer an incentive to people for signing up. (In fact, this is a good idea):
+ special discounts
+ admission to members-only type events
+ free merchise or a free e-book on a topic related to your offering
+ automatic entry in a regular drawing


Email newsletters are low cost or free, it's easy to quickly build your contact list through opt-in offers, and you can include links for readers to click to purchase immediately. I did a quick Google search on Email Newsletter Services and found these:

Bravenet (free, supported by their ads)
Constant Contact
My Newsletter Builder

There are many others available, but this will at least get you started, and you can compare what you find with your specific needs. (Please note: I just grabbed these names off Google. I don't know their track record and am not affiliated with them nor do I receive compensation for linking to them.)

Whichever email newsletter service you decide to try, I'd recommend making sure you have a way to copy all your contacts' information and back up on a CD, thumb drive, or other storage device. The contact list you build is your own personal gold mine and you do not want to lose this information under any circumstances. If an email newsletter service doesn't have a way for you to back up your contacts' information, move on to one that will.

Snail mail newsletters have printing and postage costs, but can be mailed on bright paper, in a bright envelope, or be made so irresistibly attractive that your contact has to open it and see what it is. Attractive snail mail newsletters are rarely deleted or thrown away unopened. If your contact list is small, or you have the time and ambition, you can hand-address each one to give it a personal touch. You can also hand sign the bottom of each one.

You can print black and white on colored paper, use a newsletter publishing program to make a newspaper style letter, print color pictures, include coupons, etc.

Tip: If you can create an email newsletter that can be printed out, you can email your newsletter to your email subscribers and snail mail a printout of the same newsletter to your snail mail contacts. (Just make sure the header and footer don't show the URL of the page. It still has to look professional.)

One last thought... While browsing around, I discovered that Vistaprint offers a postcard marketing campaign, and you can use your own snail mail list or you can buy one. Yes, buying a mailing list is a whole other topic, but if this interests you, it's there. Since this is a whole other topic, I'll post later about this idea.

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Got a Brilliant Idea?
Here Are 3 Things You Need To Do First

Last month, one of my dear online friends introduced a new design idea that she plans to develop and market. While I'm not going to spill the beans here, I thought you might be interested in learning a little about what to do if you come up with a new product idea or concept.

1. Protect your idea.
Is your idea patentable? Some things can be patented, some things cannot. Figure out if yours can be, then take the initial steps toward a patent. At the early stages, you can do some of the legwork on your own. Visit and learn about patents. If you are in Canada, replace my references to the USPTO with CIPO at If you are in another country, you should be able to Google the words "Patent office" and your country name to find the appropriate link for your location.

I also recently discovered Google can provide some help in this department. (Maybe just USPTO?) Go to and in the upper left corner you will see:

Images Maps News Shopping Gmail More
Click More and at the bottom of the list click Even More.

Holy smokes! Did you know all this information was packed away in Google? About 2/3 of the way down the left side of the list is a link to search for patents. As I told my friend, if patent searching has been "Googlesized," it's probably been made a lot easier to use than the gov website. (Sorry, Uncle Sam!)

One caveat: Doing a patent search does not replace professional assistance when you are ready to move forward and apply for a patent. Read through (or have someone help you read through) the information at to find out how to apply and to learn the US Patent Office's recommendation regarding hiring a patent lawyer.

Oh, and if you think your idea can't be patented and don't want to take the time to look into it, check out this patent. Now you see why it's at least worth a look?

2. Name your idea.
If you create it, it's an entity. If it's an entity, it has to have a name. This isn't a law, but a piece of savvy marketing advice. Name all products, designs, concepts, sales, programs, etc.

When coming up with names for your creations, make sure they can be trademarked. This means, make sure you can trademark the name(s) that you come up with. From a marketing standpoint, your trademarks can help build your brand, develop name recognition, and do all kinds of other good things for your business.

I won't go into too much more detail here about trademarks, but if you want more info, please read my earlier blog post on the subject: Do you have a ™ ?

3. Copyright your process.
Write up, in as much detail as possible, your idea, concept, or product. Include drawings or photographs if possible. Explain how it's made, what it's made from, and any process or technique used to make your item. Describe its use, features, benefits, accessories, and care/maintenance.

Copyright this very thorough description (see the USPTO "copyright refresher" for details), then store it in a secure location. This will not only flesh out your idea and help you figure out some of the details, but can be the document to which you refer when you're writing up your product description, use and care guide, and marketing materials. This will also serve as a back up to your idea as you work though the other steps.

You can also visit for more info on copyrights. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that (as this is written) covers 50 jurisdictions around the globe.

Tip: While an official copyright is recommended, there is another method you can do in the interim to establish a beginning date for your idea. Name this document you just created, and include a serial number with the name. You can make up anything you want for the serial number. For example, "Three Speed Hair Curlers, serial # 52648912"

Take this document to a Notary Public, have them notarize it with the current date, and in their ledger, write the name and serial number of the notarized document. (In my ficticious case, I'd write "Three Speed Hair Curlers, serial # 52648912") Make sure the serial number is included in the Notary's ledger.

Why? If someone takes your exact idea and uses it as their own, your notarized copy can help to establish when the idea originated, what the idea entails, and who came up with the idea. The serial number in the title links the notarized copy to the same exact copy you hold, which can help to identify your copy as the original, and not a different version of the same idea.

Hope that helps you get started. Any additional tips or suggestions? Have you had any experience with this process? Please share!

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Friday, January 9, 2009

160 bowls of food

I have to toot my own horn for a minute...
My other business, Pass It On Plates started a new program called Plate Diary Dollars in December. This goes hand in hand with our other program, Plate It Forward. Both programs are designed to help non profit organizations with their fundraising efforts. (For more info on the programs, click the links.)

At this time, Plate Diary Dollars is helping to feed hungry people across the US, and today I calculated our donation based on December's Plate Diary activity. Here's the announcement made in both our Plate Diaries and Pass It On Plates blog:

Our Plate Diary Dollars have been calculated for December 2008. In our first month, there were 5 Plate Diary comments, and Pass It On Plates donated $1 per comment to

This $5 donation, while small, was matched by Kraft Foods and provided
160 bowls of food to hungry people in the US. That's amazing!

Let's keep those plates moving and see how much more we can donate for January.

Remember, there's no charge for you give a Pass It On Plate to anyone, and you will not be asked to pay anything or donate any money.

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A brilliant giveaway strategy... continued

Continuing this from the previous post, I just have to tell you what is so darned brilliant about the rules of Sharon's 1000th Jewelry Creation Giveaway.

Shannon of Fox & Prince commented, asking if it's because she asks other bloggers to post an image. That's very smart because it uses viral marketing to advertise the giveaway (and her brand) but that's not the piece de resistance in this particular giveaway.

Look at Sharon's third rule where she asks readers to sign up for her newsletter on her website. This is the biggest winner of the giveaway; not for people who enter, but for Sharon.

Think about who is signing up for the newsletter:
People who really want to have her jewelry
People who want to her from her again and again
People who are (or will become) familiar with her, her products, her shop, and her brand
People who trust her (or are willing to trust her)
**People who are most likely to buy from her.**

Get it? Pretty smart, eh?

By encouraging interested people to sign up for her newsletter, she is building her list of contacts. This valuable list consists of both existing customers and prospective customers. Long after the giveaway is over, she'll continue marketing to this select group of people.

Sending a newsletter is one of the least expensive and most successful marketing tools out there.

It's the most effective way for you to target your marketing information to a receptive audience.

And just in case you are wondering, what Sharon is doing is 100% ethical because she's asking people to opt-in. It's not spammy or underhanded in any way.

I'll let you think about this marketing technique and how you can use a regular newsletter to further market your business to your contacts...

Next week: Newsletter tools and techniques

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

A brilliant giveaway strategy...

I'm a long time reader via my Google Reader (and yes, I admit, I haven't commented... my bad...) and this particular giveaway caught my attention. Not because of the prize, which is lovely and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be thrilled to win, but because of Sharon's giveaway rules.

After entering the 1000th Jewelry Creation Giveaway, I added the Bravenet link to my sidebar, which I'll tell you about later this week. Sharon, you are a genius.

Dear Readers, go to Manna Moon Studios and see if you can figure out why the Bravenet feature has me so impressed with Sharon's marketing savvy.

If you can figure it out, comment here with your thoughts.

Oh, and of course please enter her giveaway as you browse through the rest of her interesting and entertaining blog...

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Become a blog sleuth...find out where bloggers get their bling

Remember when I told you about My Live Signature? (It's in this blog post.)

I told you I looked into a blogger's code to find out where she got her signature from. Maybe I'm nosy or overly curious, but I like click on a lot of stuff and learn all kinds of interesting things.
And then I share it with you. :o)

(Ok, so there's a little of my dirty laundry. Still friends?)

Here's the secret to looking at the code on any blog (or website):

If you use Firefox, highlight the section you want to look at. Right click your mouse on the highlighted section, and a little menu will pop up. Click on View Selection Source. A new window will open, showing the code of your selected area.

If you use Internet Explorer
, it's little trickier. Right click anywhere on the page and a new window will open, showing all the code for the entire web page. It's a little tricky because now you have to look for the code you're interested in. If you're not fluent in web design languages, this can be a daunting task.

To make this a little easier, look again at the web page you're digging into. Find some text near the code you're interested in. For example, in the case of this blog post, if you wanted to find the code for this neat widget (and please ignore the "get Widget" thingy. Widgetbox always makes it easy to get their cool stuff):

You would just need to do a search on the words "Kitty Clock" (Hold down CTRL then hit the F key on your keyboard to bring up a search box.) You should see the code right above the words you searched for. Go ahead and try it. The code would be sandwiched between
cool stuff): and You would just
See it?

Now that you found the code, go to the website that features it. In the case of the clock, you'd go to Widgetbox. When I looked at the code for the signature, I went to Sign up (if required,) customize what you like, and add it to your blog.

Now for the ethical stuff that is equally important. If you find some interesting code that you want to use, make sure you are allowed to use it. If it was created specifically for that blog, it's theirs to use and falls under copyright laws. You can't use it. You could always go to widgetbox or other widget sites and look for something similar, or contact the blogger who has the cool widget and ask where they got it. You may have to pay for the code, but if it's that fantastic it might be worth it.

If you find some code that you are allowed to use, give credit where credit is due. Introduce the new widget to your readers in a blog post and publicly thank the blogger or give them credit for finding it first. Include a link to the blog or site where you found the widget. You don't have to disclose how you sleuthed around to find the code, but it's a nice gesture to credit them for finding it for you.

And always, if you found some cool code and added it to your blog, post a comment here with a link so we can all visit and admire your handiwork!

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)

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