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21  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Get Product and Website Opinions / Re: Launched solo shop. Would love feedback. on: May 28, 2011 03:21:28 PM
One thing I don't like is the spacing between items, both the "Featured Items" trio and on the separate categories pages. The pictures look too close together and crowded. The spacing between categories below the Featured Items is much nicer. I don't know how much control you have over that, though, and if I weren't looking at your page with the intent of providing feedback, I don't think I would flee in horror or anything.
Yeah I can't control that. It shows three in a row no matter what.

Thanks for your feedback!
22  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Re: 6Mos. Of Soapin' Around ... IMG HEAVY on: May 17, 2011 11:24:29 AM
That banana clove sounds amazing. I did a banana oatmeal soap a while back with banana puree. What fun that was. I love the way it feels on my skin. Did you add a fragrance to that one or leave it all natural?
23  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / How to increase business by increasing traffic to your blog. on: May 17, 2011 11:18:16 AM
If you have been blogging for your business for  some time, do you feel it's helped to grow your business and bring sales. I do blog and have not found a way of tracking sales through my blog except through contests where I offer a coupon code. However, I have noticed a direct correlation between my blogging activity and sales. The more I blog, the more sales I get. And I feel it's because my blog brings in so many different eyes because of the variety of contest I post. In fact, I feel that blogging #1 and facebook #2 are my two best marketing options that don't cost me anything but a little time.

Much of my blog traffic comes from google - which is great. But I've recently increased by readership to over 20K unique visitors a month - that's over 400 unique visitors a day - with a few tricks and submissions. I've been playing around with a lot of different options like kaboodle, craftstylish and blogher blogs to pull traffic back to my own blog. I also share my posts on facebook and twitter. Additionally I have added several options for following my blog - google friend connect, networked blogs, email subscription, and blog lovin'. My top traffic sources, however, for my blog come from the following:

Google - make sure you've submitted your blog and use lots of keywords in your content and your title.

Stumbleupon - Stumble your posts. Have others stumble your posts. It works.

Pinterest - They're still new, but when you pin something crafty and fabulous a lot of repinning goes on and your work gets shared over and over.

Craftgawker - They're picky about photos, but if they like what you've got, they will send you a good amount of traffic. Don't just share posts about your products, share other content as well. Your blog should have an obvious link back to your shop so you shouldn't feel you just need to promote your stuff with them. If you have wedding lovelies, check out weddinggawker.

IShareCrafts - Very similar to craftgawker. Less picky about photos. But it must be a craft project of some kind. They also have spin offs like craftgawker does for food but also for printables.

OnePrettyThing blog - If you have craft tutorials this is a great place to submit them. They'll link to your project and send traffic your way. It must be your own original project though - not a link through to a tutorial on another blog.

Blog Lovin' - A blog directory that also lets you follow your favorite blogs and check out the daily feed of your favorites in one handy location.

Giveaway sites - If you run a giveaway and submit it to giveaway sites, your traffic will soar. You can also use giveaways to grow your social networks and blog followers.

Tumblr - I don't use tumblr as my main blog and I was VERY reluctant to give it a go. But now that it's established I've found it can work. I often blog a photo from my main blog with a short description and a link back to my blog. Be sure to TAG with keywords. I've gotten a lot of hits to specific articles through tumblr from people doing a key word search ie. DIY While it's not consistent, if your article gets featured in a keyword search the traffic surge is obvious.

Hopefully you will find these sites as useful tools as well. Also, if anyone else has had success in bringing traffic to their blogs using specific sites or techniques, I'd love if you would share them here!

If you don't blog and are reluctant to blog on a consistent basis, I would recommend starting with tumblr. You can simply reblog content on days you are not feeling motivated. I read an article not long ago that says blogging increases inbound links for businesses by 55% or something like that. And I believe it based on my own personal experience.
24  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / Re: Big Cartel, anyone? on: May 17, 2011 10:56:08 AM
I launched my shop about three weeks ago on the diamond plan through bigcartel and have been happy so far. I would like to see more coupon code options though.
25  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Selling Crafts on Etsy.com / Re: To Etsy or Not To Etsy, that is the question on: May 17, 2011 10:54:02 AM
Etsy has changed a LOT since I last posted in this thread. Even seasoned sellers who have been with etsy since the beginning or experiencing a slow down in sales numbers. Renewing to make sales no longer works and it's more difficult to get seen. Combined with bugs in registration and checkout over the past several months, you may be better off with your own venue. I just opened my own shop and have already seen sales to it without having to compete with a million other sellers in the same category on the same venue and without having to pay a commission. Plus my site has NO registration. Many folks abandon their cart if they find out they have to register.
26  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Selling Crafts on Etsy.com / Re: Does Etsy count as 'self employed'? on: May 17, 2011 10:50:47 AM
You need to check with your state to see if you are required to register as a business to sell on etsy. If so, then yes, you would be self employed even if you did NOT make $400. As a business you are required to report all revenue, but you also get to report expenses. You can safely show a loss of profit for three years in a row. Many new businesses do. So it's not necessarily about how much you make, that would make you self employed.
27  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Get Product and Website Opinions / Launched solo shop. Would love feedback. on: May 17, 2011 10:46:18 AM
I am freeing myself up from being tied to etsy - I haven't decided if I'll stay or go completely solo or not yet - but I recently launched my own web shop. I would greatly appreciate any feedback on it. It feels a little bland to me, but I don't know what to do to "spice" it up. I use bigcartel so the featured products are not optional - I have to show at least one, so I chose three since they fit nicely in one row. I made product category descriptions on my main page and chose to have the featured products on top. I'm not sure if I need more of a description or not on the main shop page. My main website http://www.soapdelicatessen.com kind of says it all but I'm concerned about those who may be just entering from my shop - though I do have an about page on my shop just in case as well as customer testimonials. My shop is here: http://shop.soapdelicatessen.com Any suggestions or things you would do differently? Or is it sufficient. Thanks!
28  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Re: Rosemary Mint Soap on: May 16, 2011 07:22:09 PM
29  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Rosemary Mint Soap on: May 09, 2011 01:38:22 PM

I have two new soaps curing. I made these last week. Both are Rosemary Mint. However, one is just a plain jane bar scented with rosemary mint fragrance and sprinkled with rosemary leaves. The other is a shampoo and body bar created for my friend Leah. It's scented with rosemary mint but then also has natural rosemary, peppermint and tea tree oils added. I added unscented goat milk soap balls added for extra love and decoration.

The shampoo and body bar is specifically for my friend Leah who suffers from seborrheic dermatitis. I used essential oils known to help aid in the relief of this problem.

Rosemary essential oil is used often for aching muscles, arthritis, dandruff, hair care, and poor circulation. While tea tree oil is great for acne, oily skin and even athlete's foot and cold sores. It's touted as being anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Peppermint essential oil is often used for  skin irritation and itchiness as well as dermatitis and acne.
30  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Solid Shea Butter Sugar Scrub Cubes - Now with TUTORIAL! on: April 06, 2011 09:32:13 PM

Strawberry Champagne Solid Sugar Scrub Cubes

I love making solid sugar scrub cubes! They're quick and easy and a whole lot of awesome in the shower. I made five scents the other day. Pina Colada, Lavender, Chamomile Neroli, Strawberry Champagne, and Cucumber. I make mine with extra moisturizing shea butter, fine sugar, fraction coconut oil, and an all natural glycerin, shea butter soap base and then add either a fragrance or essential oil for scent.

Natural Chamomile and Neroli Solid Sugar Scrub Cubes

How to make solid sugar scrub cubes.

Solid Sugar Scrub Cubes have become the new trend and are now taking the place of traditional sugar scrubs. One of the main reasons is that these scrubs are in a solid form so there's no separation and less mess. It also means it's less likely that you will transfer water into your sugar scrub during usage since you are simply removing one or two cubes at a time for use and then resealing the container before use.

While there are a handful of recipes for solid sugar scrubs floating around, I came up with my own recipe that I'd like to share with you. It's not greasy when applied and easy to make.

Solid Shea Butter Sugar Scrub Cube Recipe
Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen - For Personal Use Only

2.5oz Natural Shea Butter Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap
4oz. Refined Shea Butter
16oz. White Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fractionated Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Fragrance Oil (or 1/2 Tablespoon Essential Oil) of Choice
Pinch of ultramarine or oxide pigment (optional)

I use my soap molds to make these. One batch fits into two molds. You can use a square baking pan or two disposable tin loaf pans instead. Line your molds with plastic wrap or food service film taping the film at the top of the mold. (Alternately you can use decorative silicone molds for this.)

Weigh out your melt and pour soap base using a scale, then melt in the microwave or a double boiler. Weigh out your shea butter and melt. Stir the shea butter into the melt and pour soap base. Measure out your fractionated coconut oil and fragrance if desired using a Tablespoon measurement and stir into the melted shea butter and soap base. In a separate bowl, weigh out the sugar. If using a pigment for color, cut in a pinch of color using a butter knife or spatula. (Keep in mind if your fragrance oil contains vanilla, your sugar scrub cubes will darken and turn brown depending on amount of vanilla content.) Finally, quickly pour the sugar into the shea/soap mixture and mix well. Scoop into your mold and level with a spatula, then place in the refrigerator until solidified.

Once your scrub has solidified, gently remove the scrub from the molds by lifting it out of the mold with the plastic wrap from the top edges of the plastic wrap. Then remove the plastic wrap from the scrub. Use a Chef's knife to then cut the scrub into cubes. Place cubes in an airtight container until use.

To use these scrub cubes, simply crush one or two cubes in your wet hands and slather over your body.
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