Thursday, November 29, 2012

Treasury Thursday: A Little Holiday Sparkle

"Stardust" Wire Wrapped Goldstone Necklace Set

I finished this goldstone necklace 2 weeks ago and listed it this week... it inspired this week's trasury, "A Little Holiday Sparkle", full of shimmering, sparkling blues and golds.  As it turns out the necklace wouldn't really fit with the colors I picked... but I really love the shimmery eye candy I picked :)

Merry holidays, and keep calm and sparkle on!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Treasury Thursday - Just for Today

Modern Buddha Artwork Meditation Print by Ancient Artizen on Etsy

It's been about three years since I took my Reiki I course and for some reason, today, the Reiki principles are really resonating with me:

Just for today, do not worry.
Just for today, do not anger.
Express gratitude for all your blessings: for food, for family, for friends, for fresh air.
Earn your living honestly.
Show kindness toward every living thing.

I really like the "Just for today" part.  If we can focus on living in the now and not worrying about what might happen tomorrow, how much better might we feel?

So, I made a Just for Today Treasury on Etsy.  See if you find some inner peace while browsing... I thought maybe you and I could both use it as the holiday season approaches ;)


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shinies! Colors!

Anodized aluminum color sampler
I've been in the process of getting my website updated with current listings and different options.  Eventually I want to have a section where you can choose from options and build your own designs.

My ring suppliers, primarily C&T Designs but also The Ring Lord, have been coming out with some great new anodized aluminum colors, and square aluminum rings are also becoming available (like Sky, above).  Because there are so many more colors available I wanted to make something that had all the available colors on it.  Since not all colors are available in all ring sizes I had to vary the weave a little, but I think you get the idea.  Please note that all the purples, from violet to purple, are much more blue in this picture than they are in person . Violet looks more fuschia.

Etsy now has a great drop-down options feature menu, which I plan to utilize so that you can pick your colors right on the screen when you order.  This is SUCH a handy feature for custom creations!  I'll be updating my custom listings in the near future.

Now it's really easy for you the customer to design something that's absolutely perfect for someone on your list, or for you.  I hope to keep up the website with what options are available for which pieces... still figuring out the best way to do that.

I'm such a sucker for color, and I'm so excited by all these options.  Even better, the new ring styles are, for the most part, SUPER SHINY!  *hoards*

Friday, November 2, 2012

Treasury Thursday: May the Force Be With You

Getting back in the swing of blogging is easy with a treasury.  I'm a nerd, and the big news this week is that Lucasarts has been sold to Disney.  Not sure how I feel about that... I don't want to see Donald Duck in a Stormtrooper costume, but it seems inevitable.  On the other hand, they did a bangup job with Avengers so all I have to say is.... Joss Whedon.  He'd probably do a better job with Star Wars than Lucas has of late.

Without further adieu, I present to you my May the Force Be With You treasury!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pin It

Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media out there.  I love it.  It's eye candy.  I've noticed that it's overwhelmingly women that use it, and I have a theory about that. 

Let's think for a minute about the way women shop.  Women, from the dawn of time, are the gatherers of the species.  They browse, they pick through things, they put things in their cart that they like, and finally take home what they think is worth having.  Men?  When men shop they want to know exactly what they're after, they want to hunt it down, conquer it in the least amount of time possible, sling it over their shoulder and take home their trophy. 

Pinterest is for gatherers.  I am not really that big on shopping, but I do love to browse the Internet.  From the beginning of my Internet access many moons ago I enjoyed saving graphics to use as desktops, bookmarking websites, that sort of thing.  Pinterest caters to that, and women love it.  Women also love pretty things, eye candy, daydreaming about the perfect house, the perfect romance, the perfect meal.  (I'm generalizing, and certainly there are lots of women who won't fall into this category, and despite being the least girly-girl I know, I fit this stereotype).  They also love cataloging tips and ideas about how to make life, dressing, raising kids, cooking meals, and being busy easier. 

Pinterest is PERFECT for this.  I love stashing pins for recipe ideas later, especially.  Craft ideas.  Stuff to DO... heck, I may never get around to doing it, but I have it there handy when I want it, and it's way easier to browse than my stupid over-long, poorly titled browser bookmark list.

Okay, so... let's say you've got something to market and you want to try out Pinterest (I recommend that you do) as a marketing tool.  Here are my tips.

First:  Follow this person.  Marketing on Pinterest with Jason Miles  Great tips to be had there.

A few of my own, now.

1.  Don't spam your product.  If someone posts 50 pictures in a day of just their own product and nothing else, I'm not likely to keep following.  It's the equivalent of jumping up and down in someone's face saying "LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME!  I SELL THIS!  BUY IT!"   Unless there is more content than that, followers will not stay.
2.  Get followers.  It's social media, so be social.  Follow your Facebook friends list, then look at random stuff in categories that you might be interested in, follow them, and repin stuff.  BUT!  And here's the biggie if you're an eye candy addict like me:  Control it!  Devote a specific amount of time each day to Pinterest, following new people (who will often follow you back), liking and repinning things.  It can definitely get out of control if you let it, and then you've got nothing to pin because you're spending all your time online.
3.  Know your market.  You can't market to everyone.  Who's your niche?  You make geeky things?  Pin geeky things.  You make pretty, feminine things?  Pin things that will appeal to people who like pretty, feminine things.  Make sure there's content.  Tips and tricks are HOT, and so are ideas, recipes... but so is eye candy. 
4.  Put the "Pin It" thingy on your toolbar.  You're browsing the Internet for stuff anyway, right?  You can pin the pretty things while you're doing that, and share useful tips and tricks.  Anything you think is cool may well appeal to people who will think your product is cool.
5.  Plug people who do something similar to what you do.  If you follow those people and say "Hey, my friend makes this really cool ___, check it out," they're very likely to do the same for you, and word of mouth is the best marketing tool there is.  Pinterest just makes it really easy to spread word of mouth marketing.
6.  And finally, pin your stuff.  If you're pinning regularly, pin one or two of your own products on a daily basis.  I'd say a ratio of 10 other things to 1 of your own things is reasonable, but this may be largely personal preference.  MAKE SURE the link when the picture is clicked goes to wherever they can buy said product. 
7.  Blog.  I suggest that you post pretty pics on your blog and Pin your blog articles.  That way, there's eye candy and useful info in one place.  I sell Jamberry Nails and I discovered that I can pin the pictures from my Jamberry site, but... honestly I don't think those pics are the greatest and I prefer pics of the product on real live people.  SO... I started a blog with Jamberry pictures and I pin to that blog, with tips on using the product and nail care, and then have a link on where to buy in the blog post.  More possibilities for Google hits that way, too, but that's another article.

Here's another site that I haven't explored completely but looks very interesting:  7 Useful Pinterest Tools

I hope you found something useful here.  While you're at it, feel free to follow me on Pinterest.  Expect me to post lots of art, jewelry, recipes, pets, and homemaker tips.  Maybe some more how to market stuff, too.  See you there :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Using a Facebook Page for Marketing

Facebook has made some changes to the way their pages work recently, and I've done a few things that seem to work, so I wanted to share some insights.  This is something that has worked for my jewelry business but I'm certain it could be adapted to work for any kind of online business.

First, what is a "fan" page and why should I have one?
The main reason you should have one is because it keeps your personal stuff separate from your business stuff.  This isn't to say they should never intersect, but it's pretty easy to share your page statuses to your personal page if you've got something to share that you want all your friends to see.  But this way, if your friends are getting annoyed with all of your promotional posts, they just don't subscribe to your business page, and they don't have to see it unless you share it.  You can send all of your friends an invitation to your business page, and then leave it to them whether they want to.

Also, Facebook's recent changes (a blessing and a curse) have made it so that you can see exactly who tracks your posts, and who interacts with it, all in handy graph format so you can see how far your posts are reaching, what people like to see and what you should do more of.

Here's the problem.  According to Facebook it has always been this way, but when they went public they started with the admin panel and it became obvious that something like 12% to 35% of your fans - people who took the time to say they did indeed like your page and want to see your updates - are seeing anything you happen to post.  Whaaat?  That's right, all the work you're putting into posting might not be seen at all, by the majority of your fans.  How to fix this?

First, tell your fans to go to your page and hover over the checked "Liked" button and make sure it says "Show in news feed".  Then, you and they should go to the home page and in the left column near the bottom you'll see "Interests".  Click "add interests" and then you can go through and choose the things you want to see active updates from.  You can go any time to "subscriptions" then, and see updates from business and other interest pages.  Do most people do this?  No.  But doing it makes it more likely to show up in your regular news feed.

Okay, now that you've done that (and I suggest doing it again from time to time without becoming obnoxious about it), there are a few ways to go about getting your message out there.  You can pay for it… and of course this is what Facebook wants you to do.  I haven't tried it, and I probably won't because it irritates me.  They need to make some sort of perk for money that doesn't seem to be something we thought we already got.  Different rant, though.

According to Facebook execs, your fans are much more likely to see your posts if they interact with your page -- either by liking your posts, visiting your page, commenting, sharing, etc. 

So here's what I did.  I created an incentive to have people interact with my page in all those ways.  I have done a monthly drawing for my Facebook fans for something like a year now trying to entice people at craft shows and friends of friends, customers online, etc. to fan my page because it's a great way to stay in contact with your customers.  They're not likely to visit a blog or even a website on a regular basis but they are sure likely to be reading their Facebook news feed.  So, every month I give away a piece of jewelry or other item. 

At one time every fan had an equal chance of winning that item, but I recently changed over to a point system as follows:
1 point automatically every month for just being a fan
1 point - Liking something from my page
3 points - commenting on something on my page
3 points - mentioning @me (so there's a link) on one of their own FB posts
5 points - becoming a new fan
10 points - sharing any post or picture from my page
25 points - writing a recommendation on my page

You want big points for sharing your pictures and status updates because when someone does that they open your business to their entire friend list (usually hundreds of people) and people can then click, go to your page, and become a fan themselves.

So I have an Excel spreadsheet with my basic fan base, and then I go through the posts and type in names (excel makes that pretty easy) for each point someone gets down the list.  I then use a random number generator (google it, they're all over the web) to come up with a number, and whatever name is next to that number on Excel is my winner.

I then go to their page, post a pic of what they've won and congratulate them.  I think that I'm also going to start sending winners business cards and ask (not demand) that, if they don't mind, they send me a picture of them wearing their prize.  

Do I get people who just go through right before drawing time and click like and post random comments retroactively on everything I posted that month?  Yeah.  So?  They're increasing the likelihood that they see my next post and I'm cool with that.  People like free stuff, and when it comes right down to it the cost of my prize item is pretty minimal in anything other than time (obviously, I don't use my most expensive stock for drawings).  Plus… it's advertising so you can write the value of that item off on your taxes.

When I started this incentive program I was really frustrated because out of my then 170 fans or so I was reaching 55 people (that includes fans and whoever their posts reach).  Within a few days my exposure was up to 1800 people, and my percentage of fans reached is topping 40% a lot of the time.  It goes up hugely around drawing time.  Use that time wisely to post amazing things they can like and share with their friends and gain points.

This morning I noticed that I have a new fan, someone I have one friend in common with… the friend who won my prize drawing last month.  So just having people show your stuff to their friends will send them back to your page. 

I hope this helps you increase traffic, exposure and sales to your Facebook business page.  I'm happy to answer any questions you might have, and if you don't mind… go like my jewelry page, You've GotMaille. If you have a business page please drop me a recommendation - exchanging page likes is a great way to share fans, especially if you have a similar fan base.

Thanks for reading !

Thursday, May 31, 2012

June Giveaway...

This month's Facebook Fan drawing will be for a custom wire-wrapped pendant.  You get to browse the stones available on my website, pick the one you like, pick a wire for me to wrap it in, with or without crystals or beads, and I'll do it up and send it on. So if you're not a fan, make sure you head over to the YGM Facebook page and "like" it so you'll be entered in the drawing, which I will do on Saturday. 

The stone choices pages need some updating which I will do in the next few days (I've used some of the stones that are on there). But even if you're not the lucky winner, the choices for custom wraps over there are very affordable, so check them out.  Or, you can browse my gallery on deviantArt and find something you like and I can do something similar for you (although many of the stones are one of a kind).

Good luck!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gold- and Silver-Filled

Solar Quartz Necklace set available on Artfire
I'm moving quite a bit away from full on sterling and toward "silver-filled" wire both in maille and wire wrapping.  The main reason is affordability but as always quality is a huge concern of mine so I want to tell you a little bit about what "filled" wire is and why I've decided it meets my quality standards.

I try very hard not to use plated anything in my work, although sometimes some findings may slip through, or I may use them in cases where I can't find anything comparable in a better material.  This is because the plating on an electroplated item is pretty quick to come off, leaving an item so dingy-looking it's only fit for the trash.  I have been using gold filled for years because the cost of solid gold is absolutely prohibitive; and fairly recently silver filled wire, chain and findings have become readily available.  

The process of plating involves placing a base metal item into a bath that includes gold/silver material, then running an electric current through the item, causing the gold/silver molecules to adhere to the metal.  This means that your plated item has a gold/silver layer that is several molecules thick.  The process of plating is not regulated in any way, which means the quality of that metal layer is questionable.

I sort of hate the term "gold filled" because it sounds like something else is filled with a gold core, when actually the opposite is true.  It's a layer of gold or sterling that is heat- and pressure-bonded onto a core of another metal, usually brass or sometimes copper.  The Federal Trade Commission does regulate what metals can be called filled, the minimum quantity being 1/20th the weight of the item for gold and 1/10th for silver (although you will see 1/20 silver as well).  That means that the precious metal layer is hundreds of times thicker than plated and it should stand up to years and years of wear, even in a chainmaille piece where there is constant friction against neighboring links.  Consequently you can trust that the quality of a gold- or silver-filled item is uniform. If you see a 1/20 or 1/10 stamp on an item that means it's filled  (.925 means it's sterling silver).  This layer is thick enough to stand up to tumble polishing, buffing, even some light etching.

The cost of silver filled wire is about two thirds the cost of solid sterling.  That means an item that is virtually identical to full sterling, but much more affordable, and I'm very excited to be able to pass those savings on to you.

It should be noted that silver filled is sterling and will tarnish, and is therefore covered under our tarnishable metals lifetime care policy, which can be found here:

The one notable thing that silver filled is not as good for is soldering, which I hope to do more of, so I will continue to use Argentium and sometimes sterling for that.  More about that in a later blog post, there are some exciting developments on that front. Stay tuned :)