Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Craft Business Finance Binder

Check out this awesome Crafty Business Finance Binder

This cool craft finance binder was made by Christine. This is really easy to make and she has provided a tutorial on Flickr with complete instructions if you would like to make one for your craft business.

If you run a business, you need to keep track of customer receipts and expenditures. She has created a few good cash flow spreadsheets that you can use for inspiration.

I love the idea of having pocket pages for saving your receipts. What a great way to stay organized.

If you have any craft business organization tips you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

Many thanks to Christine for making that terrific tutorial. Christine has a website called Flapper Girl where you can check out her work.

I love these vintage aprons she makes. They remind me of growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, and watching all those silly sitcoms, like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, after school.

She also makes these fun vintage pinup Valentine cards. Christine sells these, the vintage aprons and many other crafts at her Etsy Flapper Girl shop. Stop in and take a look around or visit her blog and say "hi."

Using Google Analytics on Your Craft Site

I mentioned Google Analytics in a previous post and wanted to expand on that topic today. If you are using a regular web host for your crft site or blog, the odds are you have some kind of website statistic program through your host. If not, you may want to use Google Analytics to track your site's statistics.

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google. It is easy to sign up and use on your website. When you sign up you are given a small code that you paste into your blog template or web pages.

After you have correctly added the code to your site, you will be able to track your site statistics from that day forward. Google Analytics updates your site statistics every 24 hours, so you only have to wait a day to start receiving valuable traffic information.

So, are you wandering what good this does for your craft site? The information gained from Analytics can help you better tailor your site to meet the interests of your readers which in turn will lead to more targeted traffic. Google Analytics provides you with the following site statistics on your own dashboard.

Visitors - You can learn how long visitors stay on your site, whether they are new or returning and what part of the world they visited from. There is a great deal more visitor trend information included, but I think it is very important to learn whether or not you are getting new or returning visitors.

Ideally you should have a both. If your site statistics indicate a very small number of return visitors, that means you are not providing what your visitors are looking for. Too small a number of new visitors would mean you ought to be doing a better job of marketing your site.

Traffic Sources - There is a ton of helpful traffic source information that you can use. Referring sites (sites that link to yours) are listed, as well as which search engines sent you traffic. You can find out what search terms people enter in search engines to find your site.

This is very helpful information if you want to increase traffic. Studying your keyword stats can help you figure out what your visitors are looking for. Keep in mind that although people may find your site for a specific keyword, that doesn't necessarily mean they found what they were looking for.

One of the most useful features of Google Analytics is the information included with the keywords. It lets you know the average time spent on your sites and number of page views for each keyword term.

If you find that a number of people are finding your site for a particular keyword, but they are not spending time on your site, that is a good indication that they are not finding what they are looking for. You can capitalize on this information by providing additional pages or posts on that particular subject.

Content - Google Analytics will tell you what your top content pages are, what your top entry and exist pages are and a site overlay that shows you a breakdown of what links people are clicking on while on your site.

This is of great value in determining what you are doing right and wrong with your content writing. When you take a look your most successful page (posts) and compare them to your least successful one, you can look for the differences. Evaluating those differences can help you build better and more successful pages in the future.

This is just a brief overview of some of the features Google Analytics offers. I don't think it is a good idea to get too wrapped up in statistics, but they certainly can help if you are looking to improve your site.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cleaning Up Rubber Stamps

I just purchased a few used Stampin Up stamp sets from Ebay and received them late last week. One of the sets I ordered, All Natural, was very dirty and gunked up with old ink. The other set, Basket of Blossoms, arrived in excellent shape.

I was quite concerned that the All Natural stamp set was too far gone to be of use and afraid I had wasted my money (or would have to deal with trying to return it). The leaf and pear stamps in particular had so much ink in the crevasses, that it didn't appear they would leave an accurate impression. The rubber also seemed very hard and dry on most of the stamps.

My sister did some investigating and found some tips for cleaning dried on ink from rubber stamps, which I tried. It worked surprisingly well and I didn't follow directions very diligently. Here is what I did...

  • Clean the stamps using the Staz On Stamp Cleaner. I should have used a small toothbrush for this, but I didn't. The Staz On Cleaner worked amazingly well at getting most of the ink off, although I did have to repeat this step a few times.
  • Wipe off the Staz On solvent with a clean, damp towell.
  • Apply a small amount of glycerin to the rubber portion of the stamp to condition it.
  • Store the conditioned stamps in a plastic bag overnight. I actually only left it on for a little while, because I was in a hurry to use the stamps, but it did make an improvement even that fast.
  • Clean with a damp towel.

This process worked very well. There is still some staining, but no longer any caked in ink. The rubber is also much softer after doing this. I plan to go through the process again and leave the glycerin on overnight to give it time to finish the job.

I don't know if you can tell the difference or not. The photos are not very clear. The one at the top of the post is with it still dirty. This one is after I cleaned it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Few Crafty Projects

A Valentine Candy Holder

My sister showed me how to make these. She gave everyone one for Christmas and hung them on the tree like ornaments. She filled them with Lindor truffles.

I did this one with a Valentine look. I used the heart stamp from my Stampin' Up Priceless set to decorate the tag and the small swirl stamp to create a background image on the paper.

I think this would make a cute gift for co-workers or even for you kids' friends at school.

This is a pretty simple craft project to make and you could even let your kids help. If you would like a tutorial, I have written one up on my website. You can see it Here.

Criss Cross Box - Note Card Holder

I really love the criss cross cards and got an idea to make a box using the same design. I wanted to make it so that I could use it to hold cards, so that is how I chose the dimensions.

I wrote up a tutorial for this one, as well. You can see it Here. Once again I put my Stampin' Up Priceless set to use to embellish this project.

After I made mine, I decided I couldn't be the first person to have the idea to do this and sure enough there are others out there. Nicole at Capture the Moment has a nice guide to making a smaller version of the criss cross box on her blog.

Let me know if the tutorial is understandable. Sometimes I re-read what I have written and realize I am leaving key elements out. Have fun and happy crafting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Advertise Your Etsy Store

Here are a few great sites that will let you advertise your Etsy store for free.

Shopping Can be Fun! is an Etsy promo blog that will allow you to make blog posts, spotlighting your crafts. Etsy shop owners are allowed to post up to three times a week and can include pictures of their products and a link to their shop.

Be sure to include a good product description and gift ideas in your blog post and include a keyword or two.

Another blog, All Things Handmade will promote your Etsy products. In this case you are instructed to add your shop details in a comment in the appropriate category listing. Then the volunteers at All Things Handmade will add your listing.

Be sure to follow the directions carefully at each site to get an accurate and speedy listing.

Thanks to Barbara at All About The Buttons. I found the those sites when visiting her blog.

Barbara made these cute Valentine ornaments that she sells in her Etsy shop.

She also makes some cute little coffee mug cozies. You really should check out her blog. Barbara does an excellent job at using her blog to promote her shop and crafts, by making interesting and useful posts.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What New Craft Supplies Did Santa Bring You?

I had a wonderful Christmas and birthday (Dec 29) and received some terrific new craft stuff. My husband and daughter gave me the Color Box Inks and Versa Mark ink pad. My sister gave me the Stampin' Pad.

My sister also gave me the Priceless Stampin Up stamp set. I am already having a great time with it and will post a pics in a few days.

This is the Holiday Tag Team stamp set, also from Stampin Up. My mom gave me this for Christmas. I've only used a few of these stamps so far since the holidays are over, but I will make good use of it next fall.

For my birthday, my sister gave this Crop-a-dile to me. She also gave me some brads and grommets to go with it. I have always had to borrow hers in the past and now I am so happy to have my own. This is a fantastic tool and I highly recommend it. I also got a Michaels gift card which is burning a hole in my pocket.

Anyone else out there get any fun new crafty stuff for Christmas? I would love to hear what you got.