Monday, March 30, 2009

Inspiration from a restroom

Today I'd like to point out how you can get inspiration from a shopping mall restroom.
Business inspiration.
Every time I visit a local mall, there are fresh flowers in the wall urns. Lovely.

Restroom flowers, originally uploaded by passitonplates.

This is a prime example of a joint venture. Who ever thought that a florist and a mall would be able to strike up a nice joint venture arrangement?

The mall will not disclose the details to me, which leads me to believe they're paying full price for the flowers, but if this florist and mall worked together, they could work out a nice win-win agreement.

I'd like to see the florist provide the flowers at a deep discount or for free in exchange for a little free advertising such as a plaque by the flowers that states something like "Flowers provided by (name) Florist, (city or phone number)" The florist's cost to do this per month would be far less than their price to buy traditional advertising.

The mall gets a deal on flowers to impress their guests, the florist gets 'free' advertising. Bonus to the florist if they are located nearby the restroom. (In this case, they're across the walkway and ladies exiting the restroom look directly into the florist shop.)

What kind of joint venture can you imagine for your business?

Do you sell body care items such as liquid soaps and lotions? Why not partner up with a nice restaurant or women's clothing store to supply the items for their public restroom sink in exchange for a sign announcing that the products are provided by your business. Put the sign in a pretty frame and set it on the counter next to your products.

Are you a jewelry artist? Contact local clothing stores, bridal stores, and offer to loan your pieces for use in a fashion show. Do you have connections to any local celebrities? Give or loan them a piece of jewelry in exchange for them being seen wearing it in public and talking or blogging about your shop. Yes, loan them pieces. Just like some well-known figures have ever-changing wardrobes, they also need ever-changing jewelry to coordinate with their wardrobe.

Ditto if you make handbags, scarves, hats, or other garments.

Do you paint or create other wall art such as with stained glass or ceramic? Find a local business that shares your customer demographic and arrange to have your work hang on their walls. Make sure your business card hangs on the wall along with the piece, and don't forget to note the price or mention that the piece is for sale. This will help the business decorate their walls and will serve as a gallery for your work. Change out each pieces periodically to keep them fresh (and give the regular customers the impression that the pieces are selling.) Businesses to consider:

  • restaurants, bistros, coffee houses, upscale cafes (make sure they're smoke-free so your work stays clean)
  • medical office waiting rooms (specialties such as plastic surgery, ob-gyn... think women clientelle and/or elective medical procedures) - if your work is geared toward children, you will want to consider what kind of fingerprints and abuse it may receive at your local pediatrician's office.
  • pediatrician - if your work is geared toward children
  • legal office waiting rooms
  • spa and massage therapist waiting room

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. I'd love to see your comments about your own business and your joint venture ideas. If you're stuck, comment here, too. I'll brainstorm a couple things to get you started.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blog Header for Etsy Tutorial

About six weeks ago I showed you a fun tool called a Blog Header Generator. While this would be nice for a blog, this could be awesome for Etsy.

If you missed the earlier post, you can check it out here:

I am currently building a website for my high school. The school closed in 1990 when the school district dissolved (very sad for all of us) and now we have an all school reunion being planned for next year. I'm using this technique to create a header for the website, but you can use this technique to a header for your Etsy shop, your blog, a website, or wherever.
This is soooo easy.

1. Find a picture you want to use.
In this example, I'm using a photo scanned from an old yearbook.

2. Run your picture through the blog header generator (There's a link in the sidebar, too.)
After trying it with Center, Upper Left, and Lower Right, I decided on Center. Here's the blog header that was generated. Save it to your computer.

Why not just crop and edit in flickr or another program? I could, but this crops it to ideal dimensions and scales the picture to the correct width. It's just easier and faster this way.

3. Upload the picture you just saved to your flickr account.
Click Edit, then click the tab that says Create.
Now click Text to add your title. Adjust the color, size, font, and placement until it's perfect.

In this case, I used the name of the school, since that's also the name of the website. You could use your blog name, your Etsy shop name, and if you're using this header for a special sale or special event you can customize your text to promote this event.

Ta dah! Finished product. You can see that after adding text, I also clicked Frames and added rounded corners.

If you want to see this in action, you can take a peek at the school website at

Meanwhile, if you try this, please comment here with your links so we can all visit your shop and see your handiwork!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Adding an Etsy Mini to your site

Many, if not most of you have put an Etsy mini on a blog, either your own blog or someone else's. Here's an Etsy mini idea for you to play around with...

One evening when I was fiddling with Etsy, I received a message from SweetSeaJewelry who asked,

"How how how did you do that with the etsy mini? it looks GREAT on your website, but when i tried to do it it didn't work on mine. i have the google apps site... "

She is talking about my use of a giant Etsy Mini on my main website,

Here's a screenshot:

My reply was:

Oh, no bother at all. I built my site with FrontPage, so I just popped in the code...
...I wanted my home page to look like a store and that was the fastest, easiest way I could think to do it. :o)

That was the key. I wanted my website to look like a store and I had been driven to tears trying to configure shopping cart software. Adding Etsy's mini to my site was the fastest, easiest way I could set it up without throwing my computer out the window in frustration.

While SweetSeaJewelry mentioned using Google sites, I tried adding an Etsy mini to a Google site I manage and while I think Google is wonderful, their sites just won't accept the code.

Had you thought of making a big Etsy Mini (should we call it an Etsy Maxi?) as the main crux of a website?

Where else could you put a maxi sized Etsy Mini?

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

New widget test

I'm testing out a new widget for a blog I manage. The computer I'm presently using has several things blocked, so the widget doesn't show up for me.

Can you see a big play button? If you click it do you hear what sounds like a school song? Please comment here with your observations.

(Extra points to you if you can identify the school...)

Click the button to start the song

Thanks for the help!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Here's a new resource for all you folks in the crafty business. Shalana, The Funky Felter, created this site to help you find all kinds of helpful information and related links for your indie business.

It's still a work in progress, but there's already some very useful info available. Please check it out at

Last week I was reading some older articles in Etsy's Storque and was interested in this article about how to get noticed and blogged about by high traffic blogs. Only six of the high traffic blogs were mentioned in the article, but there are many many more.

Shalana's list of blogs and sites, which is under the button "Crafty Sites": is the perfect compliment because she lists more than 20 of the "big (glue) guns" of crafty and indie and design blogs all listed in the middle column. to work my way through that list with my Pass It On Plates...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Building my resume

As a marketing coach starting out on her "solo career," I'm always looking for projects that I can work on to build my resume. One kind of fell in my lap and I'm both excited like crazy and nervous... I've got to share.

A little background: I was one of 45 students in my high school graduating class. Yes, 45. And that included the exchange student. My school was K-12 and the entire student body was like one giant family.

In 1990 the entire school district closed and the building was sold to a private party. (Can you imagine buying a 80 year old high school with a K-8 addition on it? And a gymnasium? Don't forget the playground and track and field areas.)

Fast forward almost 20 years and a long time and very dear friend joined a Facebook group for my old high school. I immediately joined and found a bunch of people I either knew or who had familiar names. The big news on that group is that an all school reunion is planned for about 18 months from now.

Of course, I have all kinds of ideas about what we could do in terms of online social networking and in terms of marketing. I mentioned to the website guru that I had and idea and bing! I'm on the IT team. Then I asked the head honcho of the entire project about some online stuff and bing! I'm the go-to person for the online stuff.

Am I overwhelmed? Ummmm, ask me in about 12 months...
Meanwhile, I just wanted to mention that I'm using some of this work (all volunteer) to build my resume. Maybe you can watch what I'm doing and use the same tools and techniques to promote your business and build a community around it. I call this Concierge Marketing, since I'm managing several different aspects of marketing like website, blog, social media, press releases, radio public service announcements, branding, media coverage, etc. All these and more, not just one single area of marketing.

Here's what we've got so far:
The main website (built my another alum) is
I'll add links to this site and work with the other IT guy to finish building it into an amazing site, hopefully with photos and a history of the school.

I've added a blog:
And a photo album:

Of course, it's all just starting, but I'll post an occasional update as stuff is added or more marketing tools and techniques are included in our prep for the big event.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tips and tricks for uploading photos to Flickr

My mom is starting to upload photos to her flickr account. Since she is the "keeper of the family photo album" with pictures from almost 100 years ago, I have been encouraging her to scan and upload all the photos so they can be shared with our extensive family scattered across the globe.

She's going to practice on a few more recent pictures first.

I wish we lived closer, but with over 1700 miles between us, I emailed her some instructions that I would like to share with you as you learn to navigate the wonders of flickr.

How to upload from the flickr website:

  1. Go to and log in to your account. If you don't have an account, you can log in with your Yahoo identity.

  2. You can upload photos in a couple of ways. The easiest is to click "Upload Photos & Video" then click "Choose Photos & Video." Then navigate to the folder on your computer where you have your images stored and click on them.

  3. Click Upload.


  • When you open the folder where your pictures are, click View on the top task bar then click Thumbnails to see the actual pictures.

  • Use your mouse and drag to select several pictures in a block.

  • To select several in a linear manner, hold down the shift key on the keyboard and use your mouse to click the first and last image in the series that you want to select. Let up on the shift key when you're done clicking with the mouse.

  • To select a few pictures from the group, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and then use your mouse to click the pictures you want. Let up on the CTRL key when you're done clicking with the mouse.

How to upload via email:

  1. The first time you want to do this, you will need to log in to your Flickr account and click the dropdown arrow for You and select Your Account.

  2. Click the link that says Email.

  3. Click your Flickr upload email address and attach the photos to the email that opens up. You can also save this email address and email pictures to your flickr account without having to go to flickr.

Note: When you email photos to your flickr account, they will be public and visible to anyone. If you want to keep them private, just email them to your flickr email address and add +private to your address so instead of it will be You can change the photos from private to public later, when you log into your flickr account. For more flickr email tips, follow the first two of the email steps and click the edit link to the right of your flickr email address.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Tiny URL

Do you use Twitter, Facebook, My Space, or any other social networking site to promote your stuff? Here's a quick tip I know you'll love.

Instead of sharing links that look like this:

You can turn them into tiny URLs like this:

Both the long URL and the tiny one are for the same exact webpage - a Greek restaurant up in Portland that I love. (Heck, I even love the big purple octopus above the door. But that's me; I'm a little goofy. Click on the street view to see what I'm talking about. Yes, it's overcast. It's winter in Portland! But I digress...)

I've added the link to in my sidebar. You can also play around with it below.

Enter a long URL to make tiny:

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Make a clickable photo link

Today I'd like to share a basic blogging tip on how to make your photo a clickable link. This will come in handy for all you Etsyians and Art Fire-istas. (Art Fireians? Art Firens? What do you call yourselves, anyway?)

This tip is pretty easy (for blogspot blogs - sorry to other platform users, I'm just not familiar):

Insert a photo into your blog post. You can either upload a photo from your computer or you can upload from a URL. Once the picture is uploaded, click on the photo to highlight it. (You'll get the little white squares in the corner.) Then click on the link button next to the text color button.

When the window opens, paste in the URL (make sure it only has the http:// once, not twice) then click ok.

Ta dah! Your picture is now a link.

Now here's something EVERYBODY should be doing, regardless of blogging skill.

People like clicking on pictures, so make your pictures clickable links as often as possible.

Is this a picture of something you're selling? If you uploaded it from a flickr URL, then it must link back to its flickr page. Make sure it's organized into a set of similar items so people can view your "portfolio," so to speak.

If you uploaded it from your computer or from another URL like Photobucket, then by all means link it to your sales page or shop. Give your readers and viewers every nudge and assistance to make it easy to buy from you.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Don't want to host your own giveaway?

Sweet 'N' Sassy Girls

No prob.
Just have Sweet 'n' Sassy girls host it for you, but keep in mind, there are pros and cons to giving away your merchandise in this manner.

1. These kinds of sites have a lot of steady traffic. Sweet 'n' Sassy Girls frequently has over 100 entries in their giveaways, so whether you use this site or have any other blogger host your giveaway, there's an opportunity for a lot of traffic to clamor over your loot.
2. Less planning, no dealing with advertising on sites that announce giveaways, no advertising to worry about, to comments to babysit (to weed out any possible comment spam.)

1. These giveaways are hosted on another site which may not necessarily increase traffic to your site.
2. Because you may not get the increase in traffic generated by a giveaway, there's less opportunity to market yourself and the other items you have for sale.
3. No chance to encourage people to subscribe to or follow your blog.

Remember - hosting giveaways are not to get rid of product, but to boost your marketing efforts.

Giveaways on your own site will:
1. Expose new prospective customers to your product line.
2. Generate new traffic to your site in hopes they will like what they see, then return again and again.
3. Add one more name and address (the winner's) to your contact list for future marketing, such as snail mail newsletters, post card advertising, etc.
4. Encourage visitors to subscribe to your site or your email newsletter so you can continue marketing to them on a regular basis.
5. Bottom line, your giveaway is part advertising and part lead generation for your ongoing marketing efforts. If your giveaway doesn't provide a way to bring new traffic to your site, you're not only missing out on a fantastic marketing opportunity, but you're throwing away the money you spent on creating and shipping the prize.

I'm not bashing sites that host giveaways for you, but I want you to understand the difference between hosting your own vs. having someone do the work for you. If you are still interested in having Sweet 'n' Sassy Girls or another site host a giveaway for you, make sure that you have a way to capture the audience for your own marketing program.

If you remember, I posted about Handmade Showcase a couple weeks ago (read that post here.) She hosts giveaways for other shops, but also includes a full interview and gives her readers a more in-depth look into you and your shop. While you may not be able to capture a lot of marketing info like if you host your own giveaway, this is a great way to drive extra traffic to your site where you could include a few posts inviting people to sign up for your newsletter or use other techniques to market to the new crowd shopping by.

(And yes. The Sweet 'n' Sassy badge is in the sidebar for easy future reference.)

Any thoughts on this?
Have you done giveaways?
What worked the best for you?

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

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