Friday, February 29, 2008

Be Careful With Outgoing Links

Who you link to can harm you
When search engines crawl your site, they see what links to other sites you have and follow them, counting them as you giving a vote to that site. So what about when you link to a poor quality site? Well, that can count against you.

Search engines calculate links to your site as votes for you and links out of your site as votes for those other sites. Another factor that goes into their calculations is the quality and relevancy of the sites you link to.

I have suggested submitting your site to link directories and participating in link exchanges as a method of improving your site's page rank. One thing you should avoid, however, are directories that require you to provide a return link.

Link directories that require a reciprocal link back, particularly if they don't do manual reviews for quality, are considered link farms. Linking to a link farm is bad from search engine perspective.

You want outgoing links from your website to be to quality sites that are relevant to the topic of your site. That being said, search engines give special consideration to blogs (at least at this time) with regard to out going links and seem to give a bit more leniency.

Now suppose you want to add a link to your site and are concerned that it will harm your search engine ranking. There is something you can do to tell search engines not to follow that link.

The code to a typical link should look something like this:

To prevent search engines from counting the link against you, modify the code to add a "no follow" attribute, like this:

If you ordinarily use an editor like in Blogger, you can add your link like normal and then go into "edit html" or "view source," find the code for the link and add rel="nofollow" to the link code as shown above.

So keep building those links back to your site, by submitting to quality directories and participating in link exchanges only with high quality sites. And if you do add an link that may not be beneficial, use the code above.

If you are looking for a free craft directory to submit to, I have a craft directory you are welcome to make a submission and I will review it as expediently as possible.

The card above I made using one of my sister's stamp sets by Stampin' Up called "Be Happy." I also used Le Jardin paper and chocolate chip ink.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Ways to Promote Your Craft Website

I have been busy working on promoting my sites and thought I would share a list of sites you can use for your own link building campaign. The sites below are all relatively new to me (with the exception of Squidoo, which is excellent) and so I can't say how beneficial they will be. is very much like You can create a page about any topic you like. It could be a page specifically about your site or one about the craft of your choice, of course, including a link to your site or blog. This is another way to make your links count. Go here, create an account and add your site to an existing list. You can also start a new list. Very similar to Listible. You can search for an existing list and add your site or make one of your own. Each new addition gets a page of it's own. I created a list there that you can add your site to if you would like.

WhatAList - This is another list site. It is relatively new and I had to create a craft website list there, too. Once you create an account, you can add your site to the list here or you can create a new list.

On My List - Here is yet another list site. This one is a little different in that you are the only one that can edit you list. Try putting a top 5 list of something related to your niche and include your url (there is an option for that).

I think On My List might be a good one if you can make funny lists that will get a lot of attention.

About Us is a unique wiki site that is more like a website directory.

You can create an account there and enter your domain name in there search engine. If your site is not already part of their database, it will automatically create a new wiki page for it. Now if your site uses a sub-domain (ie you will have to go here to create an about us page. It is a great way to get a quality link back

The card above is one I made a few weeks ago. I used the acorn from Stampin' Up's All Natural set (retired) and the square stamp from the same set. I first stamped the square stamp in a yellow ochre ink and then lightly went around the edges with a brown ink.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Having a Hard Time Pricing Your Crafts For Sale?

One of the most difficult things to do is put a price on your hard work. There are several things to consider when choosing a price point.

Cost of Materials. Save your receipts. You need them for tax purposes anyway. Try to factor in the appropriate cost for all the materials that go into your crafts.

Cost of your time. Don't forget to pay yourself for your labor. Keep track of how much time you spend

Cost of overhead. Do you have ongoing business expenses, such as office and marketing supplies? Maybe you have webhosting fees and tools to be figured into your costs. These sorts of expenses should be factored into the price of your crafts. Obviously, you should not expect to recoup these expenses in just a few sales. Rather they should be aportioned over your entire collection for sale and over time.

Shipping Costs. Don't forget the packaging, postage and time that goes into shipping your craft products. Although, this may be a separate charge, it is important to have a clear idea of what these costs are so that they may be accurately reflected in your Shiping and Handling policy or added to the cost of your product if you offer free shipping.

This is just a very rough guide to pricing your crafts effectively. For a more in depth look at pricing strategies download the free guide, Make Your Price Sell Masters Course.

If you are still having a hard time, you may want to head over to Craftster and the Crafty Business Advice Forum and you can ask for advice from other crafters about your website, online craft store and pricing sugestions. The folks over at Craftster are generally fair and honest in their critiques, so you can get a lot of valuable feedback there.

In the card above I used Stampin' Up's Embrace Life set. I stamped the flower first and then blocked it out to stamp the bamboo. I then used water color pencils to color it in.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Avoid Loosing Craft Sales - Take Better Pictures

Do your crafts look their best?

I was cruising through Etsy ealier and was a bit dismayed to see how many crafters don't take the time to take good photos of their crafts. To be successful online, you need to do all you can to set yourself apart from the crowd.

To this end a good clear photo of your products will go a long way to you achieving your sales goal. Poor quality photos imply a lack of professionalism that will hurt your sales.

You don't have to be a professional photographer.

Although, I think most shoppers looking for handcrafted products do not expect do not expect the kind of professional photos you might find in an upscale catalog, they do see the quality of your images as a reflection of the quality of your crafting.

There are a few things you can do to spruce up your photos, without going to the expense of hiring a professional.

Be certain your image is in focus. Many crafts are small and may be difficult to focus up close because of the focal length available on your camera. In this case, go ahead and back off on the zoom and get as clear and focused an image as possible. You can always go into an image editing program and zoom it there.

Center your image within the viewfinder. Also, make the image fill as much space as possible while keeping it in focus.

Pay attention to the background or negative space. If people notice the negative space in your photos, then they are not paying attention to your crafts. Unless the background image serves a purpose, such as showing how your craft can be used, then the background should fade away.

Try placing your craft in different settings. Use scraps of solid colord fabric or papers for a backdrop. Choose backgrounds that allow your product to "pop."

Make use of natural light. Taking your photos during the day is usually best so that you can rely less on artificial light which is not as complimentary to your crafts. If you do use artificial light, it is best to have it diffused or try to have multiple light sources at multiple angles to prevent shadows.

Use photo imaging programs to edit your photos. Photoshop is a very popular image editing software program that you can use to crop, rotate and resize your photos. It is a bit expensive, but you can download a free trial version to try it out if you want. A free option is The Gimp, which is very similar to Photoshop, but completely open source.

Try to view you photos with your viewers in mind. How will they see your photo? Here is an article on taking pictures with digital cameras.

The photo above is a Criss Cross Box I made using my new Le Jardin paper from Stampin' Up. The stamped image is from Stampin' Up's Too Terrific Tags using Chocolate Chip ink.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Improve Craft Site Traffic With Alt Text

stampin up card stem silhouettes
Alt tags or alternative text for images is a great way to improve your craft website or blog traffic. Many people do image searches and crafting in particular lends itself to this type of traffic.

While search engines can recognize that there is an image, they cannot determine what the image is. So images themselves do not count as content on your site. By providing alternative text you are letting the search engine know what the image is.

When viewers use a search engine to seek pictures of some topic, your images may come up in the search results if you have included alt tags for your pictures. You can use site relevant key words that relate to your image as your alternative text.

To add alternative text to your craft images you need to edit the html and place alt="sample text here" within the image tag. So your image tags would look something like this:

Alternative Text

This is the html code for the card you see above. The highlighted portion is the alt text. If you add alternative text to your craft pictures, it is likely you will see people finding your site through image searches.

I have to confess I am quite lazy about doing this myself, but I am going to make more of an effort to do it consistently in the future.

The card you see above is one I made when I was at my sister's house last week. I used some of her Stampin' Up Wild Wasabi paper and a stamp from the Stem Silhouettes set. I also used the word window punch.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Want to Create a Craft Blog?

Well you have probably gotten tired of me harping on the rewards of blogging, but I am going to do it again. Search engines love blogs, because, by their very nature, blogs are full of fresh content.

Sometimes doing new things can be intimidating, so I created a tutorial to guide you through the steps of making your own blog. You can find it here.

Another point I like to stress is the importance of marketing your site. One way to do that is by article submissions, where you include a link to your site in the resource box.

I submit articles to Ezine Articles and recently became a platinum author. Well, I got a nice surprise in the mail the other day. I received this mug and coffee as a thank you for my submissions.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My First Stampin Up Party

Well it wasn't really my party, but it was the first one I have ever been to. My sister hosted it and I managed to go. She lives three hours away, so it is just not always possible to get away.

I had really been looking forward to going since I have become somewhat addicted to Stampin Up. I had a really great time and won the first door prize, which was a Stampin Up set called Very Punny.

We made this card to start with. The flowers are from the Be Happy set and the birthday greeting is from the Hugs and Wishes set.

Next we made these cute little bags of candy. The tag stamp is from the Happy Heart Day set. These little tags are sooo easy and quick to make with the tag punch tool. My sister ordered one for me with her hostess benefits. Yay!

Our third project was this cute Valentine card. I had never made a card in this size before. It is just a 6 inch square, folded in half. I really liked making this shape and plan to do more. The elephant stamp is from the Happy Heart Day set and the greeting is from Holidays & Wishes.

The background is plain white paper. We brushed it with a red stamp pad to add texture. This technique was another first for me and I am afraid I can't remember what she called it.

If you get the opportunity to go to a Stampin Up party, I recommend going. It is so much more fun to craft with others. This was a fun bunch of ladies. They teased the demonstrator mercilessly for how often she says "pop" and "texture."

I spent too much money, but I am looking forward to getting my order. I am getting three of the Sell-A-Bration sets, four sets from the spring catalog and some designer paper and a scallop punch. Do you think that is enough to keep me busy for a while?