Friday, July 29, 2011

Favorite New Medium!

We Googled plarn and figured it out how to make, now I have gotten my whole family obsessed!  I have never crocheted before and this had been my motivation. This experience is super exciting for me.  I mentioned in a previous a post that I was thinking of making a yoga mat bag and I think that this is the material I will be using to make this bag.  Off to do a few more rounds of the basket I am currently crocheting with plarn now. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Upcycled Grocery Bags

My mom showed up to the beach this week with this great new beach bag that she received as a gift.  My favorite part this bag?  It's made from recycled grocery bags!  How cool is that!  With a house full of craft people, our research began.  How does one make the plastic bags useable for crocheting or knitting...

I'm sure my Ravelry folks are old hacks at this, but that yarn created is called plarn (creative I know plastic yarn = plarn).  I was curious how you could create plarn.  It turns out after some quick Google searches that it is super simple. 

I found a great tutorial at The basic concept is your flatly fold your bags lengthwise and then cut your strips approximately 1 inch wide.  To make it continuous yarn you loop them together as it your looping two hair ties together.  I'm sure my quick description here doesn't quite do it justice, so please follow the link for a pictorial description.

Now I just need to learn to crochet and find some great plarn patterns.  Off to Google...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Talk to me Tuesdays! - Little Asian Sweatshop

Today's featured seller is Little Asian Sweatshop.  Let me tell you, she makes some pretty amazing products.  The way she can shape her flowers with cards and paper is mind boggling to me. 

Stitch Silly: Tell me a little about yourself.

Little Asian Sweatshop: My dad calls me a comic book because by day I'm a good little corporate cube-farmer...but by night I transform into a one woman Sweatshop!  No crime fighting though...although, I personally like to think that by making the world cuter and prettier and better accessorized will one day bring about world peace :D

I've been sewing since I was little.  My mom didn't really "believe" in Barbie dolls, so I would sew outfits (OK, they were dresses) for my brother's Transformers.  I can only imagine how many years of therapy he's going to need to undo that!  Haha!  Since I'm short, I started hemming my own clothes when I got older, and from there, I started making simple little outfits for myself (mostly skirts and little tops).

Then, in college, I discovered cosplay!  My best friend is an artist and she would come up with the most ridiculous (but amazing) costume designs.  I quickly learned how to make my own patterns to turn her designs into reality.  As I was the only one who knew how to sew, I would usually be making costumes for our group in the weeks leading up the conventions...sometimes, basting hems and finishing up trims even as we're pulling up to the convention center!  Everyone used to joke that I was a "little Asian sweatshop".

Since I'm now a little too old to cosplay (well, cosplay *much*...haha), I've focused my passions into making whimsical hats, cute hair accessories and fun little bags and dresses. 

SS: How did you get started with Etsy?

LAS: I've been a huuuuge fan and long time shopper of Etsy.  It's odd, despite spending so much time on Etsy, it never occurred to me to open my own Etsy shop! I mostly relied upon word of mouth and friend referrals for my business. Finally, it was my best friend (and fellow Etsian -Paigey Pumphrey) who convinced me to start my own Etsy shop. I've never looked back!

SS: What is your favorite part of being your own boss?

LAS: I think it's really having complete control over my final product.  In my day-job, sometimes, projects don't end up the way I want them due to other inputs or someone deciding that they want to go a different direction.  With the Sweatshop, everything that leaves my hands is *exactly* how I want it to be.  If it's not perfect, it doesn't see the light of day, and I absolutely *love* that sense of quality (can you tell I'm a closet perfectionist and control freak? haha!).
SS: What are your 2 favorite products in your shop?

LAS: My absolute favorite item is my Luck Be a Lady Poker Card Fascinator I came up with this idea because my best friend is getting married in Vegas this November and I wanted to come up with something cute to wear for the trip.  As I was trying to come up with a Vegas themed outfit, it occurred to me that it would be so adorable if I could have a poker card rose in my hair.  Before you knew it, I had cut up all the poker cards we had in the house...and voila!  Success!

My second favorite is my Terrifyingly Cute Monster Fleece Hat It was Snowmaggdon (the huge 2009 snow storm we had on the East Coast), and my husband had cabin fever (which was preventing me from sewing!). To distract him, I had him look up trailers for the "Where the Wild Things Are" movie that was slated to come out that year.  So the 40" of snow and umpteen hours of YouTube videos inspired me to make this hat.

SS: I remember Snowmaggdon well! I was 9 months pregnant at the time and praying I wouldn't go into labor during the storm.  Thank fully my son waited until the roads were safely cleared until he made his arrival. Those are some great hats.

What is your greatest success since joining Etsy?

LAS: This sounds so corny, but I feel that my greatest success with Etsy has been all the amazing people I've met! Although I was a cosplayer and there is a huge and very supportive cosplay community, I've always feel very alone in my sewing and crafting (although, that could have something to do with the slightly competitive nature of cosplayers), so I've never known what it's like to share ideas and techniques. Since I've opened up my Etsy shop and joined the various teams and forums, I've been pretty overwhelmed by how willing complete strangers are to help make my shop more successful! I'm glad to say that these strangers rarely stay strangers for long :)

SS: What do you most want to improve?

LAS: I think the one thing I need to improve the most is bringing my ideas into production. I have so many ideas (I have reams and reams of product sketches and ideas), that sometimes I get overwhelmed. Currently there are about 16 new products in various stages of production sitting in the Sweatshop. I would like to figure out a way to become more focused and get what I'm currently working on perfected and onto Etsy, before allowing myself to start a new product. Of course, this is a mantra that I've been chanting for a while, so no one hold their breath! 

SS: What is your ultimate goal for your Etsy shop?

LAS:To become the next Martha Stewart! HAHA! I kid (kinda). My ultimate goal is to just have fun (which I do!)! Sewing and crafting is so enjoyable and oddly relaxing! Being able to sell my products just seems down right decadent!

Of course, I wouldn't say "no" to being able to sell out my store every day!

SS: How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie center of a tootsie pop?

LAS: I actually tried that once.  I think I got to 14 licks before I just couldn't resist and had to bite down! HAHA!

So you're hooked and you want more of the Little Asian Sweatshop? Check her out on:
and of course...on

We are always looking for different shops and items to feature here on Stitch Silly.  Please contact us if you are interested in being featured in a future post.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Slow Week

This week may be a little quiet on my front.  I am taking a bit of a vacation from my 9-5 job this week and while I will have internet access, I'm not sure how much time I will have to blog away.

Fear not, Talk to Me Tuesdays is still all set to go.  That seemed to be quite a hit last week so I'm hoping to continue the feature.  I've had quite the response from my fellow Etsians and am working to schedule and coordinate with all the people who have responded.

If you don't hear too much from me, realize I am having some much needed quality time with the family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Polka Dot Custom Order

I can't believe I've forgotten to write a post about my most recent custom order.  As I've mentioned previously, in my reviews of that I bought the fabric for a custom order.  A close friend was throwing a baby shower for a friend of hers and wanted a specific fabric pattern to go with the theme of the shower, brown and blue polka dots.  I had some fabric left over so I made a few extra that I intend to post soon.  I finally had a chance to do a photo shoot with them last night so maybe sometime this weekend I'll post them up.  The review I got from everyone was, "SOOOO ADORABLE!!!" That's actually a direct quote, you can see the proof on my testimonials page.  I'm super excited they liked the burp cloths and bibs that I made.  Keep your eyes peeled for pictures here and a new product post on Etsy.  In the mean time, stop by the shop and take a look around at our current products.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knitting Patience

A friend sent me this link yesterday.  Anna Hrachovec, the person interviewed on Craftzine has more patience that I think I can muster when it comes to knitting.  She has spent the last two years designing and knitting tiny creatures.  These are some pretty amazing designs.  I'm not sure what I would do with a tiny football, but I sure would love to give it a try in constructing an itty-bitty item like the football or popsicle. 

This site has a lot of great information and inspirational stories about some former Etsians who have "made it big" previously.  If you're looking for some new encouragement, check it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Product Idea

I have several knitting patterns laying around the house from when my mom bought me a page a day calendar a few years ago.  I kept the patterns that interested me hoping that one day I may make some of them.  I've done a few in the past, like the knit baby blanket that is currently for sale, but I haven't dug through all the patterns in a while.  The other day I was looking for something in my yarn box and dub them out.  I found a few nice patterns I liked, most notably one for a bag for your yoga mat. 

I love the pattern and am thinking of adding it as a new product to Stitch Silly.  What are you thoughts?  Would you be interested in a lacy knit bag to cart your yoga mat?  I might make a prototype and post some pictures for feedback, but active feedback right now is always welcome. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Talk to me Tuesdays!

This blog has been growing quickly over the past two months.  I've decided to share the love with other artisans.  Today is my first go at featuring another Etsian shop.  Keep you eyes peeled on Tuesdays for the foreseeable future.

Up first is Morning Valley Soaps.  She has a beautiful collection of handmade soaps.  I love the stories she tells with her soaps.  Especially the Holmes Moisturizing Soap. Let's get started, shall we?
Stitch Silly: Tell me a little about yourself. 

Morning Valley Soaps: I am an English student and freelance journalist. Writing is one of my biggest passions and I hope to publish my first novel some time in the next few years. My other hobbies include gardening, reading voraciously, the theatre arts, and archery.

 SS: How did you get started with Etsy?

MVS: I started early in 2010 with a shop dedicated to my sewing and jewelry making. It felt like the wrong direction for me, so when I started making soap, that seemed like the venue I would excel in. I opened my soap shop last August and though it was slow at first, I have started building it up and selling at local markets as well.

SS: What is your favorite part of being your own boss?

Holmes Moisturizing Beeswax Soap
MVS: Probably the time factor is what attracts me the most. I can work on my own schedule throughout the day, I can listen to music and mix herbs in my pajamas. If that isn't a requirement for a dream job, I don't know what is. I also enjoy the ability to be creative and constantly do new things, nothing could be worse for me than doing the exact same thing every day.

SS: What are your 2 favorite products in yous shop?

MVS:Tough... probably my Holmes soap for a great masculine scent:

And my new Moon Balm, I've been working on several other varieties, but this is the first of that line: 

SS: What is your greatest success since joining Etsy?

MVS:  Probably my ability to contribute to a friend's fundraiser. She was raising money for a very good cause and I was able to contribute a basket of soap which was auctioned off. I think that was a success because I was able to do something with my work on Etsy that wasn't just about selling for myself.

Lavender Hemp Seed Moisturizing Moon Balm

SS: What do you most want to improve?

MVS: I want to keep expanding in the kind of products I make, making things that smell wonderful for men and women but also offer healthful benefits to the skin from natural ingredients.

SS: What is your ultimate goal for your Etsy shop?

MVS: Ultimately, it would be wonderful if I could support myself solely through my writing and my Etsy shop once I complete my degree 

SS: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

MVS: As many as you want. Are you a savorer or are you an impatient biter? For me: 47.

Thank you Morning Valley Soaps for taking the time to sit down with us today.  Please stop by her shop and blog to check them out.

We are always looking for different shops and items to feature here on Stitch Silly.  Please contact us if you are interested in being featured in a future post. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Online Fabric Purchase Review - Follow Up

My fabric came in last Thursday and was very surprised.  I have a lot to learn on fabric descriptions!  I thought the burp cloth material I picked out would be a nice soft material, not so.  It is some great crib sheet material, but not the soft cuddly fabric I was expecting.  All in all, I am happy with the purchase.  Other than the lack of communication with the delayed shipment, I am happy with  I will most likely order from them again, perhaps not around a holiday this time.

I now have lots of material to work with.  I successfully completed my custom order which sparked this online purchase and I must say, the burp cloths and bibs turned out fantastic.  I hope the mother-to-be likes them.  I have so far been able to complete a few more burp cloths and hope to complete the set this evening.  Keep your eyes peeled for some new products to go shortly!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I try not to discuss, much of my non-Stitch Silly life here for several reasons.  One, this is a business and I do not want to babble on incessantly about my family.  I have a personal blog for that.  Two, I do not want to cause any conflicts of interest with my professional "9-5" and my Stitch Silly lives.  Today I am making an exception. 

I had my annual review last week and to put it bluntly, I was pretty bummed.  I was hoping for a promotion and thought I had done everything right to make it so, but alas I did not.  My boss is amazing.  He is my advocate and runs some great cover for me when needed.  I think he was more upset about the decision than I was.  I have some amazing mentors with whom I have spoken over the past week.  Through my review and conversations with my mentors I have done quite a bit of introspection over the last two weeks.  I've taken a lot of constructive criticism relatively well, at least I think I have. 

As I look for ways to try to improve on myself and my perceived self in my professional life, I quickly realized that this introspection can not only benefit me in my career as an engineer, but also as a business owner, mother, and a wife.  If I can figure out how to more effectively show myself as a passionate person who is thorough, detailed oriented, yet still capable of looking at the big picture I can only have good things happen in my whole life.

I don't have the answer yet.  And I'm not sure I ever will, but I want to at least work on it.  Right now my biggest hurdle is recognizing that there are more steps to a process than I may recognize.  I need to figure out how to see those steps and to properly address them to others satisfaction even I don't understand that the steps are required. 

Are there people who have had similar hurdles in their lives?  Have you been able to overcome them?  If so how?  What advice would you offer to someone in my situation? 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Buttons

Until yesterday, I had seen people discussing blog buttons and wanting to trade them, etc., but I didn't really know or understand them.  But then I was offered a sponsorship on a great blog so I thought I should look into this whole blog button thing.  Turns out it's relatively easy with relatively even with little to not experience with HTML programming.  So how do you make a button you ask?

First, you need to upload your button image to a photosharing site.  Since I use blogger for this blog, I used Picasa Web albums.  In Picasa, you need to make sure the images are shared either publicly or to only those with the link.  This is shown on the right hand side of the screen.  Next to the image it will say either "Limited" or "Public." When you click on your desired image, the image properties will appear on the right side of your screen again.  There is a link that says, "Link this photo."  Click on it. You want to use the code from the "embed image" text box, making sure the "Hide album link" check box is clicked.

Copy this code into a HTML gadget for your blog.  Your code should look something like this:

<a href=""><img src="" height="144" width="144" /></a>

To make it work we need to make a few changes.  Change the content in bold pink to the website you want to link.  For me, that was here,

<a href=""><img src="" height="144" width="144" /></a>
Now your code should look like this:

<a href=""><img src="" height="144" width="144" /></a>

Next we want to make sure when someone hovers over your image your title pops up (more advertizing here!).  Also, the height and width dimension aren't really needed so we'll delete these and replace it with the following code with the changed code in bold pink:

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Stitch Silly" /></a>

This creates the image and it's link back to your site and is the code that you will share with others to share your button.

But what if you wanted to advertize and let people grab your button at their leisure?  You can add this code around the above code to create a text box below your image:

<textarea cols=”15″ rows=”4″ wrap=”virtual”>YOUR CODE HERE</a></textarea>

Which will then look like this. 

<textarea cols=”15″ rows=”4″ wrap=”virtual”>><img src="" alt="Stitch Silly" />>>

You will need to post both the initial code and the wrapped code in your HTML gadget.  This is what your final HTML code will look like:

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Stitch Silly" /></a>

<textarea cols=”15″ rows=”4″ wrap=”virtual”>><img src="" alt="Stitch Silly" /></a></textarea>

Click save, and check out the cool new button! Here is mine:

Stitch Silly

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Online Fabric Purchase Review

I got a custom order request about a week and a half ago.  I was uber excited about and sent the customer a few image swatches for their approval.  They loved my idea so I placed my first order to  I ordered some extra fabric for some new projects to get to the $35 minimum order for free shipping.  I'm a touchy feely person when it comes to purchasing my fabric.  I like to reach out and touch it so this was a tough purchase for me, especially since the description and organization of their fabric was not what I was used to. 

I was excited when I placed the order because they say on their website how they ship orders within 48 hours.  Well apparently this isn't always the case.  I placed my order last Wednesday and it just shipped out yesterday.  I never even got an email from the company telling me my order would be delayed, until I called about it on Monday.  Strike one.

By the time they got to filling my order one of my fabrics was out of stock.  It was a monkey fabric that I wasn't sure about anyways and they still honored my free shipping so that's OK I guess.  One up.

The fabric is due to come in tomorrow via UPS so I'll be sure to keep you posted on what I think of the fabric.  It will just be a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time.  I did find their prices reasonable and their selection is large I will just need to learn their terminology and how the fabric is organized. 

Look for my final review and some images of fabric swatches soon.  If all goes well, I may place another order with them, right now the jury is still out. 

Has anyone used previously?  What has your experience been?  What are other sources you have used to purchase fabric?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ravelry Excitement

To all you knitters and crocheters out there, I read an article in the Sunday Washington Post this past Sunday.  Discussing a social network designed specifically for knitting and crocheting.  I was about to find the article on a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post.

After reading the article, hopped over to to check it out.  On first impression, it is a well designed library of patterns, yarns, and information relating to knitting and crocheting.  While I have not been focusing on knitting too much of late, I think this is a great resource that I wish I had found earlier.  I'm not sure I will use it for is social networking aspect but I believe that this is going to be a great place for new pattern ideas.  They have over 10,000 free patterns alone!  I've only been a member for a few days so I'm still learning everything it has to offer, to be honest there is so much there I don't know where to look first. 

I think this is definitely a site that could suck me into a time warp.  I may have to be careful I don't get too enthralled.  Have others hear of this site before?  Am I just living under a rock?  What do others think of the site?

If you have experience with the site, please share your thoughts with the rest of us.  What's your favorite part of the site?  How do you use it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Updated Photography

I've hear a lot of discussions of late on Etsy about people not making sales or this being a slow time of year.  Well you won't here those kinds of discussions here.  But I did feel like my photographs were lacking some how.  I'm still struggling to figure out Gimp or even my own camera for that matter.  I'm getting there, but it's a baby step at a time.

Well this weekend I decided to re-shoot a few of my products to give them more of an appealing look.  Overall I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out. Hopefully they will result in some sales, but mostly I think it is just a learning experience for me.  Here are a couple of my latest shots.  Any thoughts on these latest ones?  As I was linking these images back my shop, I noticed that a I still have a few I need to actually up load still.  I know what my project is this evening!  As always, feedback is welcome!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Creating your Own Accounting System - Inventory

I hope you liked last week's discussion on Invoices.  This is the last in the series of creating your own accounting system.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  If you decide to implement all or some of these ideas, please don't hesitate to ask, but do keep in mind I am not an accountant or a tax professional this is merely how I do business and what seems to work for me.  Now onto the fun stuff...

This week we will discuss how I track and maintain my inventory for both my sanity and for tax purposes.

I use this page in my accounting system for multiple purposes.  I track:
  • Finished products I have in stock
  • Finished products I have sold
  • Material for products in process (i.e. incomplete products or raw materials)
For each of these three items, I track (I would show a screenshot, but I think readability of the image may defeat the purpose):
  • Product Identification Number
  • Product Description
  • Posted Price (for in process products, the estimated price)
  • Tax
  • Whether or not it has sold, and it's sold date
  • Material Cost
  • My wage/commission for the product
  • Profit before any fees
  • Profit Percentage based on the a fore mentioned profit
  • Etsy costs (renewals and sold transaction fees)
  • Paypal/Square/Merchant Processing fees
  • Profit after all applicable fees
  • Profit Percentage based on the associated profit
So how do I use these categories play into the tracked products?  As you may recall from my Accounts Receivable post, your inventory is considered an asset and should be tracked as such.  This includes all finished products as well as not yet finished products.  How do I do that you ask?  Do you remember that "SUMIF" function I couldn't stop talking about?  Well it's popping up to say hello again.  In the column where I mark if an item has sold, I put an 'X' there.  To track the unsold inventory for the Accounts Summary page, I simply sum the entire posted price column by calculating


then I subtract out any sold items with

SUMIF(Inventory!E:E, "X", Inventory!C:C)

So the overall equation looks like

=SUM(Inventory!C:C)-SUMIF(Inventory!E:E, "X", Inventory!C:C)

Ok, so you link your inventory back to the Account Summary, but what do you do with all the other columns?  Great question!

For product that are not complete, I typically use it to help me develop a price for my products.  I enter the cost of the material, the wage I am paying myself for the product then I have it set up so have the remaining columns automatically calculate the percentages and dollar figures when I put in a particular price.  I have in my head a specific profit I am going for on each product and will play with the price numbers accordingly.  I also use the reason test to check my price.  For instance, I don't think I could ever sell a single burp cloth for $100, but I probably could sell it for $6.50. 

Once an item is sold, I record the paid price before taxes, mark it as sold, the date of the sale then what fees were actually assessed.  For instance, I get requests for orders through my personal networks, therefore Etsy fees don't apply, or I am paid in cash, or check, therefore no paypal fees.  

That is the general overview of how I use this tab, but what is probably more important to you is what equations are used and how do they make my life easier?  Let's work out way down the list above.
  • Product Identification Number: 
    • No equation
  • Product Description: 
    • No equation
  • Posted Price: 
    • No equation
  • Tax: 
    • In Virginia we pay a 5% tax on sales so it is calculated as such:
    • = 0.05 * Posted Price
  • Whether or not it has sold, and it's sold date
    • No equation
  • Material Cost: 
    • Summation of material to make said item
  • My wage/commission for the product
    • No equation typically, but occasionally I will base my wage/commission on the cost of the good
  • Profit before any fees
    • =Posted Price - Material Cost - Wage
  • Profit Percentage based on the a fore mentioned profit
    • = Profit / Price * 100 (or you simply can format the column to read out as a percentage, in which case leave off the 100
  • Etsy costs (renewals and sold transaction fees)
    • =Number of renewals * 0.20 +  Price * 0.035
  • Paypal/Square/Merchant Processing fees
    • Specifically for Paypal:
    •  = (Price + Tax) * 0.029 + 0.30
  • Profit after all applicable fees
    • =Profit before fees -  Etsy Fees - Paypal Fees
  • Profit Percentage based on the associated profit
    • =Profit After/Price * 100 (again, you can use the percentage formatting and leave off the *100 if you wish)
I hope that this helps with your inventory tracking.  I has helped me see the big picture of my store.  There are several built in tools that I use in excel to help me with my projects.  I generally like to know my average price point so I can roughly predict my sales for the year.  Excel has this great feature that if you highlight more than one cell at a time in the bottom right corner of the window, they will display the Average, Count, and Sum of the highlighted cells.  You can do this for price, percentage, or profit to give you an idea what your overall all average profit of your inventory.  I have found this tool more than useful on countless occasions.

For your reference here is a link to this whole series:
Accounts Payable
Accounts Receivable
Accounts Summary

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's New at Stitch Silly?

Check out these latest products now available at the Stitch Silly Shop

We now have three nap blankets available to choose from with the addition of these two purple and blue nap blankets.

Next we have my latest burp cloth creation.


Finally, we have my first knitting creation in the shop. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's this SEO thing?

So anyone who has an online presence has probably heard at least once or twice, "You'll get more page views if you focus on you SEO."  I know as I started out with Stitch Silly I heard those words a lot.  My next question was, "What in the world are you talking about?"  I was pretty lost to be honest.  That is until I set out to really understand this part of the business.  As I began my research, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of information.

For instance, sites like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines have developed algorithms to go out and crawl the internet in order to identify keywords within your site then stores them in a database.  There are some crawling algorithms out there that you must pay to be included in, for instance, Yahoo operates like that, according to Wikipedia.  Being a free, open source person, I'm quite happy to learn there are free ones out there.  Specifically you don't need to pay Google to get your website or blog indexed into their system.

Ok, so you're indexed in a search engine now what?

Well there are a few things you should do in order to optimize your visibility.
  1. Tagging:  Tagging consists of strategically marking your products or blog posts with natural search terms.  For instance, say you were looking for these burp cloths.  There are several terms you may be interested in "googling."  You may just search, burp cloth, but according to my google search 1.7million results were found in .21 seconds.  I think it's pretty hard to stand out in that crowd.  What if I tried terry cloth burp cloths, 231,000 results in .23 seconds.  That's still tough to get noticed!  So you see the more natural the tags are in your product description, the more likely the chances of you getting noticed in this crazy world of the internet. 
  2. Back Linking: Back linking also called cross linking is a method of sharing information within your own site or when leaving comments on other's sites.  For instance, the link above is an example of a back link to my Etsy shop.  The more links you have going back to your shop, blog or whatever, the more likely that these crawling algorithms will pick up on your content.  There is a fine line you need to walk here.  You don't want to link every other word in your blog post to another website, but you also want to make it easy for readers to easily understand your perspective and to access the raw data.  Another draw back could be shameless self promotion, such as look at this new product and oh here's another great one I just did too, and another and another, etc.. Another way I will back link is if I reference someone else's blog post in one of mine, such as in this post about photography, I will typically go to that person's blog and leave a comment saying I linked to their site with a link back to that specific blog post.  This typically accomplishes a few things for me.  
    1. I let the blog author know that their content was referenced on another site.
    2. It lets the other readers of that blog know about my blog thus getting the name of Stitch Silly out to others who may not have heard of me.  
  3. Paid Advertising:  Paid Advertising will increase your chances of you getting higher in the search criteria, but this really falls into a whole new category called ad text optimization (ATO).  Using this method will help you minimize traffic dips as search engines continue to refine and change their crawling algorithms.  Many Etsians saw this traffic dip recently when Google changed their algorithm.  Personally, I have not used the paid advertising approach.  At this point in Stitch Silly's lifespan, we are building a solid localized customer base which is where most of our sales are currently coming from.  I welcome comments from readers who have used paid advertising to drive their SEO, shop views, and website hits to share their experience with the rest of us. 
There are many other means and methods to optimizing your SEO and therefore increasing the likelihood of you getting noticed.  My first recommendation is to focus on tagging, whether it be your blog, website, or product description.  Second, I would focus on back linking.

As I have increased my back linking to other blogs and within my own site, I have seen a significant increase in readership.  Since this blogs inception in May, I saw a 262% growth month over month increase in site visits, on track with this month to have a 116% month over month increase.  I cannot attribute it all to increased SEO, but I believe being more knowledgeable in the area is allowing me use my tags to the best of my ability.  My Etsy shop has not seen the same dramatic increase, but there are other factors at play, i.e. I have not been posting new products as frequently as I had planned due to customer orders I have been getting locally.

I believe that Google Analytics can help with my tagging, descriptions, and product titles, but I have not dug through all their documentation yet.  That's next on my list, keep your eyes peeled for new information about Google Analytics.   

Monday, July 4, 2011

Check out our Feature

We are currently being featured at a great blog.  Please stop by an check out the Always Just a Mom blog to read my interview and check out her other posts.  She has some great stuff for sale on Etsy.  I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July.

Personally I had an action packed weekend with the family and wish I had another day off to recover from the weekend.

Happy Independence Day

Today is the day that America declared its independence from Britain in 1776.   To honor our independence, here are some interesting facts about its history.

The Second Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence on 2 July 1776, but the actual Declaration of Independence was not written and approved until 4 July 1776, two days later.  This is pre-internet era and it only took two days to draft and sign a bill?  However, some historians have disputed this stating that the actual bill was not sign until nearly a month later on 2 August 1776.  Still not to shabby for the non-internet era.  Going from introduction in June to signage in 1 to 2 months, depending on which version of history you choose to accept. 

I hope and your family enjoy a wonderful Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Creating your Own Accounting System - Invoices

Welcome back to our series in developing your own accounting system.  If you remember, last week we discussed Accounts Payable

Today I will be covering the Customer Invoices tab.  Thank you IRS for requiring us to maintain receipts for all sales that we make.  For my payments through paypal this is all tracked, but I occasionally get a cash order and therefore don't necessarily have paypal invoice from it.  This is one way of me tracking all of my sales for tax purposes. 

So what do I track in my Customer Invoices tab?  You can see from the image below that I track quite a few things. 
Most of it should be relatively self explanatory, such as date, description, customer , etc.  but there are a few columns I would like to discuss.  First being Income Account.  This column will tell me where the money I collected will go.  For me it will most likely go to Sales and Sales Tax Collected depending on what state the person I sold to lives in.  This will give you what is called a split transaction.  A transaction where the money goes into multiple accounts.
Also of interest is the grouping of quantity through total paid.  This grouping of columns are the key to calculating the amount that is owed to you.  The quantity is the number of the same item a person bought from you.  For instance, if you make soaps and they bought 4 different bars of a particular type of soap your quantity would be 4.  The unit price, is pulled from your inventory list, to be discussed next week, and is the cost of one product, i.e. in our example one bar of soap.  The discount column is to signify if you had a sale or some type of promotion going on where the person may have purchased the item for less than the posted price.

As I inferred earlier, not all sales will be taxable.  You need to know your states requirements for collecting sales tax, if any.  There are several states actually trying to crack down on this.  This article from My Money Blog discusses California's current fight with regarding this issue.  Therefore in my next column I track whether the sale was taxable and at what rate.  For me in Virginia it is 5% of all sales.  I then subtract any discount out and add in the applicable tax which gives me the total paid value.

Next I need to figure out how much is actually staying in my accounts, i.e. how much money is Etsy, Paypal, Square, or some other processing agent taking from me.  I then subtract out those values from the amount paid and viola I have the amount of money that is actually going into my bank account.  WAHOO!  I typically carry over the fees from my inventory tab which is where I do most of those calculations.

We'll discuss that next week.  Until then...Happy Independence Day!
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