Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekend Links, February 26th

Weekend Links is short but sweet today – we’ve got double the kids in our house so I’m busy making pancakes and playing dress-up!

Read It
How I Raised My Prices and Lived to Tell the Tale from Crafting an MBA.  Like most new business owners I’m struggling with my pricing.  This article reassured me that it’s not as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be; in fact, it’s probably beneficial to raise your prices.

Blogger/Mompreneur Amy Turn Sharp Talks Biz, Social Media, Work-Life Balance from ShePosts.  Amy Sharp owns Little Alouette, where she makes modern wood toys.  This interview is really refreshing – Amy talks about the struggles she’s had balancing work and family, and how it’s not all a party.

Join It
Pinterest.  If you haven’t already joined, go check it out now!  You can save pictures you see pretty much anywhere to inspiration boards that you can share with friends.  For real, this site is so much fun.  You do have to have an invite since it’s in Beta, but I’ve got a few invites that I’m happy to share!

Feel free to share your favorite reads from this week!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Works in Progress

I've got a slew of random, half-done projects piled up on my pool sewing table this week.  The past week or so I haven't done anything start to finish, just bits and pieces here and there.

I did finish a dozen crayon aprons two nights ago during a Glee-a-thon.  Those threads take a long minute to trim so Brittany and crew helped me power through. I’m hoping to get the new designs photographed and in the shop this weekend.
2 25 11 bib pieces bobaloo!
Heather asked for some girly bibs to restock the Little Green Bean Boutique.  I also really need some fresh bib designs for my Etsy shop, so there are various bib parts all over the place.
2 25 11 nest corduroy blanket bobaloo!
I'm making an adorable blanket and baby shoes set like this one for a silent auction to benefit Building Tomorrow, a local organization that builds schools in Africa.  I still need something cozy to back that sweet Nest corduroy with for the blanket.
2 25 11 nicey jane bobaloo!
Last but most urgent is a surprise for someone.  I'll tell you more about this one soon, but the important part is that it needs to go in the mail by Monday.  Doesn't that Nicey Jane look great with that Midwest Modern?  I love finding new fabric combos!

Do you guys have a bunch of loose ends or am I the only one with this problem?  Share your unfinished projects with me so I don't feel so bad!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Advertising My Etsy Shop on A Blog

2 23 11 bobaloo ad

As I mentioned before, I decided to finally buy some ad space on a blog for my Etsy shop.  I had a few criteria.  The blog needed to be:

  • one I read already so I’m familiar with the content
  • about design somehow, since my products are all about strong patterns and vibrant color
  • supportive of handmade
  • not a how-to craft blog (not because I don’t love them – I read a ton – but I don’t think that’s what my target market reads)

So after digging through my Google Reader a little I decided on one of my fave blogs, In Honor of Design.  Anna’s a graphic designer and a jewelry artist and is super supportive of handmade businesses.  Make sure you check out both her blog and her gorgeous jewelry, mmmkay?

2 23 11 ihod

The ad went up on February 9th, so it’s been up for two weeks now and I feel like I can give you a feel on how it’s going for me.  I did a little digging on Google Analytics to check my numbers and see if the ad is helping drive some traffic to the shop.

Of all the traffic to my shop, IHOD is the #4 source of traffic to my shop with 8.31%.  In fact, it’s only behind direct traffic, Google searches, and my Facebook page.  It’s even ahead of my blog!  That means it’s my #2 referring site, sending just a few less visitors to my blog than my Facebook page.

2 23 11 bobaloo google analytics top 5

It’s great traffic too. The bounce rate for traffic from IHOD is about 48%, which means most of the people who visit are hanging around for a bit.  Visitors average 2.5 pageviews and stick around the shop for a few minutes.

I’ve had a noticeable rise in shop hearts and traffic over the past few weeks.  The ad is not the only contributing factor – I’ve been renewing twice a day thanks to the Statsy Clockbot – but it’s certainly helping things along.  Although I wouldn’t say I’ve been overwhelmed with sales by any means, I am starting to see the results of my efforts.

2 23 11 bobaloo etsy shop hearts

So is it worth it?  In my opinion, absolutely!  Lots of great bloggers offer super-reasonable rates that make it easy to get into advertising.  Don’t hesitate to contact your favorite blogger for advertising information because you may be surprised at how well it fits into your business budget.  Also, you’re supporting another small business owner, so it’s a win-win!

I know we’ve chatted about advertising before, but I’d love to hear more from you guys!  Let me know if you have an ad somewhere and how it’s working out for you, good or bad.  And if you don’t advertise now, are you considering it?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Links, February 19th (on Monday)

Evidently I forgot to click "publish" on this post, so here's the weekend links a few days late!

Read It
Legal Lesson Learned: Copywriter pays $4000 for a $10 photo from WebcopyPlus (via ShePosts).  This is a really good example of how publishing photos you find online without checking for a copyright can really bite you in the keister.  This article will be a good reminder for when I use images from google search.

Upgrading to the New Facebook Fan Page Layout from Handmadeology (via Martha at Sunday Afternoon Housewife) A great visual guide on upgrading your page with lots of screenshots.  After you upgrade, don’t you want to make a new landing page, too?

Search Still Sucks from Tech Crunch (via ShePosts).  After all my obsessing about SEO this is kind of a welcome relief.  Can I really compete with companies who hire people solely to get their results at the top of Google search?  Nope.  Maybe I should stop stressing about it.

2 19 11 kojodesigns pants 

Make It
Pieced Pants from kojodesigns on MADE.  If you’re not following Celebrate the Boy month on MADE, go NOW!  These little pants made from old t-shirts are just silly cute and would work for little boys or little girls.  Love it!

Dapper Little Man Bow Tie Tutorial from Larissa at Just Another Day in Paradise.  To be honest, I probably won’t make a whole Easter outfit for my little man like I always do for my Bobaloo.  This bow tie would just be RIDICULOUSLY cute on him with a little button-down shirt – I can’t wait to make it!

2 19 11 heidi and finn pic

Buy It
Urban Unisex Hoodie pattern by Heidi & Finn.  I just bought this pattern with the little guy in mind, but I think I’m going to make one for Bridget too (the pattern includes sizes 6 mo. through 5T).  All of the Heidi & Finn patterns are so stinking cute and modern that I want most of them in my size!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Make a Facebook Landing Page for the New Page Layout

2 17 11 facebook landing page

If you haven’t seen them yet, Facebook landing pages are typically seen by first-time visitors to your Facebook page.  You can create a large image that replaces the plain old Wall view on your page.  This image usually presents a call to action - such as liking the page or clicking on a link to your website – and (in my opinion) makes a stronger first impression than a list of comments on a white background.

I used this article by Thomas Sinfield on Standout Blogger to guide me in making the image for the landing page.  I spent a good hour putting it together in Photoshop, then uploaded it to my Facebook page and realized it was the WRONG SIZE.  I completely forgot about the new page layouts on Facebook.  Boo.  So I started over.

The article still has great tips but you’ll definitely need a differently sized image.  I started with a blank file in Photoshop sized at 510 pixels wide by 450 pixels tall (I’m pretty sure you don’t have to use Photoshop – that’s just what I’m comfortable with).  I added on some product pictures, my logo and tagline, and a little “shop now!” graphic.  Thomas points out that the whole image is going to be a link, but people need direction as to where to click so some direction helps.

FB Landing Page Feb 2011 2 copy

You’ll need to save that image somewhere online.  If you haven’t already, you can open up a free Photobucket account and upload your image as a jpeg.  After uploading, click on your image – it should have a few links listed underneath it.  Keep this page open while we get your Facebook page ready – we’ll come back to it in a minute.

Next is the part that’s a little trickier.  I used this article by the same guy for guidance.  The article is on setting up a business Facebook page from start to finish, so you’ll need to scroll down a little to get to the instructions on how to get your landing page up and running. 

2 17 11 facebook landing page adding fbml

First, you’ll want to log in to Facebook and head to your business page so you can install the FBML app.  Click the “edit page” button on the top right, then click on “Apps” on the left side of the screen.  You’re looking for Static FBML – it showed up in the suggested apps section for me.  In the picture above, mine is titled “Welcome!” because I had already installed it when I took this screenshot.  Yours should be called “Static FBML”.  Click on “add”, then click “go to app”.

2 17 11 facebook landing page fbml fields

The title of this page is going to be what shows on the tab on your Facebook page, so type something short in the title field.  I just used “Welcome!”.  Next, you have to add some code in the FBML field.  Now I know virtually nothing about html, so I just copied Thomas’s code from his article.  It includes a link (so when someone clicks on the image it takes them to my Etsy shop) plus the image source link (from Photobucket, more on that next).  Here’s the code I used:

<center><a href=">
<img src=" />

The first link to Etsy (in quotes) is where you’d swap in your own shop address, blog address, or whatever site you want to send people to when they click on your image.  The second link (also in quotes) is where you’ll want to put the image source, which you can copy and paste from the “direct link” field in Photobucket.  After you’re done pasting in links, click Save Changes.

2 17 11 facebook landing page photobucket

We’re almost done!  Now you’ll have to change your settings in Facebook so the landing page shows up for new visitors.  Go back to your wall and click on “edit page” again.  Next, click “manage permissions” on the left side of the screen.  In the “Default Landing Tab” drop down menu, choose “Welcome!” (or whatever you named your landing page tab).

2 17 11 facebook landing page settings

Go find someone who isn’t already liked your business on Facebook and beg them to help you test it out!  I sent out a Twitter distress call and Tonya from Love of Family and Home helped me out.  Then, I logged in as my husband, unliked bobaloo!, then checked it out for myself.  It works!

I’m by no means an expert, but if you have any questions ask away.  If you’re not a fan of bobaloo! on Facebook already, I’d be forever in your debt if you would head on over there and tell me if the landing page works for you.  If you’ve already liked bobaloo!, we’re totally best friends forever and you can take a peek by clicking on the Welcome tab.

Now go make one for your page, then let me know so I can check it out!  Good luck, and report back on your progress!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Odds and Ends

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day!  Last night we had a double date at our kitchen table with the ever-charming Bridget and Graham that included knock-off Chicken Bryan, candles, and 80s love songs on Pandora.  My birthday is a few days after Valentine’s Day so we usually just go out once to cover both days.  This weekend my best friend (whose birthday is a few days after mine) and I are being whisked away to Bloomington by our husbands to pretend like we’re 22 again.

2 15 11 ihod logo

I finally picked a blog to sponsor!  Head on over to In Honor of Design to check out my ad (it’s on the right sidebar) and read Anna’s great blog.  This is my first time designing an ad and I must have reworked it ten times.  Thanks to all the bobaloo! Facebook fans for helping me pick which product to include – I think you all made the right choice!

I’m inching closer to finally signing up for the wholesale fabric account.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with Westminster/Free Spirit because I love a lot of their designers (and how great is this new line?) and I know I can use a TON of their fabrics.  However, it’s probably going to take me ten years to pick which fabrics I want to buy.

2 15 11 outright screenshot

I started using Outright for my accounting – anyone else use it?  So far it’s been pretty easy.  It automatically syncs with my Paypal account and categorizes my expenses, which is pretty nice.  I haven’t had any luck linking my business bank account, so I have to log all those expense by hand.  I set up all of my expense and income categories right after filing my taxes so that the different designations were fresh in my mind (like supplies, marketing expenses, etc).  I might post more about it later, so let me know if you want more info.

Last but not least, I’m feeling like it’s time for a giveaway here.  What would you guys like to get your hands on?  A crafty book? Fabric? Something from my Etsy store?  Cast your vote in the comments and help me decide!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weekend Links, February 12th

2 12 11 heart crayons

Read It
Project Run and Play.  I got hooked on this blog after a few of my favorite bloggers (including the lovely ladies behind No Big Dill and kojo designs) kept posting about their entries.  It’s a challenge-based kids’ clothing design contest where the winner is chosen by the readers.  It’s AMAZING what these ladies come up with!

Template Designer: How to increase entire blog width beyond maximum from Blogger Tips and Tricks.  I can’t stop rearranging the blog lately.  It’s always seemed a little narrow to me so I used these directions to increase the width.

 2 12 11 pillowcase

Make It
Sleep-Over Pillowcase from Sew4Home.  I have no idea why I have never made pretty pillowcases for me and the kiddos.  Bridget’s REALLY into picking fabrics and helping me sew right now and this would be a great project for us.

Sour Cream Enchiladas from Centsational Girl.  I made this for dinner the other night and my husband loooooved them.  Seriously, he probably would have bought me these awesome jeans if I asked, he was so smitten. 

Have you seen anything good this week?  Tell us in the comments!  Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Craft Show Recap: Hand Made Market at Little Green Bean Boutique

Last month, Heather from the Little Green Bean Boutique contacted about participating in a craft show to benefit the Warm Heart Warm Home Foundation at her shop and I signed right up.  This frigid weather has made me very thankful for our nice warm house so it’s great to be able to help those that are not so fortunate.

2 10 11 hand made market bobaloo! 2

The show was last Friday and Saturday during the lunchtime hours.  Like most of you, Indianapolis got hit with a whopper of a storm last week.  Indianapolis Public Schools were closed for four days (and they NEVER close).  Then, on Saturday, we got an out-of-the-blue downfall of snow in the morning!  Despite the crummy weather, a good number of hardy souls came out to shop.

The Little Green Bean Boutique is right next to a nice open area that serves as a community space, so most of us set up shop in there.  I brought my cool clothesline display from a few months back but I forgot the clamps to hook it to the table (not enough coffee).  Luckily my inventory is not back up to pre-Christmas levels so I had less than normal to display.

2 10 11 hand made market bobaloo! 1

I was next to some buddies (like Martha from Sunday Afternoon Housewife and Shan and Jarod from Green Illuminations) and met some new people too.  You should definitely go check out Sweet Revenge Lingerie – I WANT those striped jammies!

Truthfully, the best part about the show was getting out of the house after being iced in for a week.  My husband referred to it as a grown-up playdate, which is pretty accurate.  Plus, we got to raise money for a good cause – all of the vendors donated 10% to the Foundation and Citizen’s Gas matched that total.

What did you guys do in last week’s winter weather?  Did you indulge in some retail therapy?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Make Blogging Easier With Windows Live Writer

I usually try to participate in the Crafterminds tweet chats on Monday afternoons.  Blogging always comes up, and Live Writer is inevitably mentioned by a few people as a way to make blogging easier.  I made the switch from using the Blogger post editor (which made me want to stab myself in the eye with a pencil) to Live Writer a few months back and boy oh boy am I happy I did.

2 8 11 bobaloo! live writer 1

In case you’re not familiar with it, Live Writer is almost like a word processing program that will post straight to your blog.  I type up my post, add my links and pictures, and export it straight to Blogger.  Easy peasy!

Here are my fave Live Writer features:
  • Hyperlinking.  The best part about inserting links in Live Writer is that you can choose to permanently connect a url to a typed phrase.  For instance, whenever I type my Etsy shop Live Writer automatically inserts a hyperlink to my shop’s url.  This has come in handy for the Weekend Links posts – it makes it so much easier to link to sources!

2 8 11 bobaloo! live writer 2

  • Pictures.  The first time I inserted a picture to a post, I set everything exactly how I wanted it - width in pixels, rounded corners, watermark, centering.  I then saved that as the default for all pictures.  Now whenever I insert a picture, all the images are consistent.
  • Drafts.  I have a bajillion drafts going at one time, including one that is all post ideas.  Live Writer keeps them all lined up on the side of the screen so I can easily view them.  There’s also a list of recently posted entries.  You can view how your post will look on your blog by clicking a button.

The one downfall so far is I can’t tag my posts, so I have to remember to tag them in Blogger before I publish.  Once I got used to that it wasn’t really a big deal, but it is something to consider.

My process with Live Writer is pretty simple.  I type up the post and save the draft in Live Writer.  I then post the draft to my blog (a prompt pops up for the blogger user ID and password).  Then, I switch over to my browser, go to my blogger dashboard, and the new blog post is right there.  I typically read over it really quick, add my tags, set the publish time and date, and I’m done!  No messing with the crazy Blogger editor!

2 8 11 bobaloo! live writer 32 8 11 bobaloo! live writer 4 

I know there’s a bunch more I can do with Live Writer – heck, there’s a list of links to the right of this post as a type that I haven’t even investigated.   Evidently there are plug-ins available too. 

Where do you write your blog posts, and what do you do to make blogging easier?  If you’re a Live Writer user, what am I missing?  Share, please!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weekend Links, February 5th

Read It
Mommy Bloggers Are Going to Rule The World by Kari Henley of the Huffington Post.  Kari decided, on a whim, to go to Blissdom.  Evidently she was impressed with what she saw there!

Backing Up Your Blogger Blog and Template by Rita at the CoffeeShop Blog.  I am ashamed to admit I have never backed up my template, and I had no idea that it is possible to back up your whole blog.  I’m going to do this ASAP.

Google Analytics Tricks for Crafters: Comparing Stats Reports from Crafty Pod.  This would be so helpful for comparing traffic on both a blog and an online store.  Make sure you scroll down to the bottom and click on the link for more Analytics tricks – there’s so much great info in Diane’s posts!

2 5 11 cupid

Make It
Cupid Printable from Heidi Kenney on Danielle Thompson’s Blog.  I’ve expressed my love for Heidi Kenney’s fabric before, and now here’s an ADORABLE Valentine’s printable from her!  Go print it – as soon as I pick up some color ink for my ink-black-hole of a printer I’m making my own!

How To Make and Use a Light Box on Handmadeology (via One Pretty Thing).  I don’t use a light box per se because my products are too big for a little light box and I don’t have room to store a big one.  This set up is similar to what I use, though, and would be great for those of you with smaller products.  This post also includes some good photo editing tips.

2 5 11 handmade market postcard

Go Shopping Here
Little Green Bean Boutique.  I admit it, I’m biased.  My stuff is in this shop and Heather is sweet as can be, so you should at least go check out her brand new website.  But really, the store has both children’s resale and local handmade goodies, including items from Sunday Afternoon Housewife and Green Illuminations, amongst many others.  If you’re local, come by today from 11 to 3 to say hi and shop the Hand Made Market!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advertising – I’m Lost.

I know I typically share with you guys how I did something for the business, like filing the LLC paperwork or running an Etsy shop during vacation.  Today, though, I’m going to chat about one of my goals that I’m really in the dark about accomplishing – advertising, both for my shop and on my blog.

I’ve had advertising on the brain lately.  I’m ready to start advertising my shop, but I just have no idea where to start.  Also, I had decided a while back to start looking into adding ads to this blog once I reached 10,000 page views, which happened last month (completely arbitrary number – it just seemed like a whole lot of people).

I’m pretty sure I want to start advertising my shop on blogs, mostly because it seems reasonably targeted and definitely affordable.  My problem is the blogs I read are not necessarily geared toward my target market.  I love me some crafty blogs, that’s for sure, but I’m not convinced that’s the best place to reach my customers.

2 3 11 facebook ads screenshot

I’m also considering trying out Facebook ads.  These two articles have definitely encouraged me to try it out – Do Facebook Ads Really Work? and Stronger Evidence That Facebook Ads Work.  When setting up a Facebook ad, it’s posssible to define your targeted demographics so narrowly that I feel like I could really reach my market.  Also, you set your budget for the campaign, which makes overspending pretty much impossible.

As for advertising here on the blog, I’ve pretty much decided to add a small AdSense ad somewhere on the sidebar to try it out.  Since all I have to do is enable the ad though Blogger,  I figure this is a good way to try out the whole advertising thing without a huge time investment on my part.

I see a lot of information on running ads on your own blog.  There is a really great interview with Jena Coray of Modish on CraftyPod about running your own ad program on a craft blog.  It’s tempting, that’s for sure, but is my time better spent running an ad program on my little blog or making new products?

I’d love your feedback on advertising ‘cause I’m sure struggling with it!  Have you guys done any kind of advertising, and was it successful or a waste?  How do you feel about blog ads – love ‘em, hate ‘em, hardly notice they’re there?  As a consumer, what kind of ads grab your attention?  Maybe together we can sort this whole advertising thing out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Closed Due to Inclement Weather

12 14 10 snowy playhouse

So evidently we’re gearing up for Icepocalypse here in Indianapolis so I’m going to spend the day battening down the hatches.  It looks like our chances of having electricity this time tomorrow are pretty slim, so if you can think of any ways to entertain a rambunctious preschooler and a sick toddler without electricity, PLEASE share!

And don’t worry, we’re stocked up on Pop-Tarts and board games.  Hopefully we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming by the end of the week!
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