Oct 27, 2011

hex blanket stage one

Every fall my nesting and hibernation instincts kick in and I get the urge to make myself blankets. Makes sense, right? I got started at the first sign of such an urge this year and am mid-way through knitting a hexagon lap blanket. I'm using a big chunky 100% wool Burly Spun yarn from the Brown Sheep Company (thanks mom + nan!) in hand dyed "strawberry fields" and "forest floor." Red and green are my favorite pair of complimentary colors, though these yarns are so much more than just red and green. 

I found a really sweet pattern for knit hexagons at Cotton and Cloud. It's simple and clever and really quite easy to knit once I got the hang of the double pointed needles. The hexagons actually knit up circular and are then blocked into hexagon shape. I love-love-love this method, I found many-many patterns for knit hexagons while researching this project and this one made the absolute most sense to me and I think looks the sharpest. 

(Look at the range of colors on that left hand needle! Gorgeous!)

I've sort of been designing the blanket as I go, I started knitting the circle/hexagon pieces before I knew where I was going with them several weeks ago (actually I started a few last fall but never followed through). I figured out the pattern and layout for the whole blanket last week and just finished knitting all the pieces I'll need for it within the past few days. Next step is to turn all the circles into hexagons by blocking them, something I've never done before! I read up on a few different methods so hopefully one will work well and make the process relatively painless.

I haven't figured out how I'll put all the hexagons together once they're blocked... sewing? crochet? What yarn will I use? a contrasting color? maybe cream? If you've got a recommendation I'd love to hear it!

Oct 19, 2011

in progress :: crystal portraits

I've been working on my miniature linocut crystal portraits again and I think I totally nailed it on the amethyst!

I am so happy with the way these came out, even better than I hoped and definitely better than I expected. (They're only two and a half inches square!) Before I started the amethyst prints I had completed a run of Tibetan clear quartz, but now seeing the quality of the amethyst I'm going to re-carve and print them.

Each print in this series (a third stone is coming, tangerine quartz!) will be printed with two blocks, one for the shape and one for the outline. I've already carved down the outlines on the Tibetan quartz so the line weight is thinner and I'll reprint it in black, the shape will stay white but maybe with a little pop of yellow somewhere. Lining up the registration on the amethyst prints was fairly easy because I made sure the carved images on both of the blocks were positioned identically, unfortunately I didn't make sure of this on the Tibetan quartz blocks and the images are positioned at slightly different angles making proper registration much more difficult. Hopefully I can find a way to compensate for this with out having to carve one of the blocks again. I've posted this image before, but here are some of the drawings that started these portraits.

Oct 9, 2011

search ads vs. relevance

Etsy's had all this info about "search ads" up in my grill since mid-September, they seem like a pretty affordable way to get some exposure so I decided to give it a shot. With search ads you can advertise single items, a section of your shop, or your whole shop; when a shopper searches a term relevant to your item(s) one of your listings appears in a row of other search ads at the very top of the search results. It looks like this ➷ (the listings in the blue box are search ads).

I chose to advertise the BLOCK PRiNTS section of my shop, I went for the broke-and-just-experimenting plan and bought 5000 impressions for $5 over the course of a week. One day into my week of search ads I had a sale. "Jeepers!" I thought, "they really work!" And I rushed to my stats to verify that search ads got me this sale... but no, apparently search ads could not take credit. In fact I'd only raked in a view or two from search ads at that point. "What they hey?" I say.

Now, right around the same time that I signed up for search ads I started to pay more attention to the relevancy of my listings. Etsy recently changed the search results default from "recently listed" to "most relevant," meaning that instead of furiously relisting to appear at the top of search results, Etsy sellers are maniacally shoving hot keywords into their titles and tags to appear most relevant. (I won't go into the details of all this but if you want to know more there are lots of articles out and about.) So anyway, I had just spent some time rehashing the titles and tags on my block print listings so they'd appear within the first few pages of search results and THAT is what I think got me the sale.

Lets look at some stats for further illustration. The first set of stats are from my search ad campaign: 25 views, 1 favorite, no sales. (Pause for a moment to differentiate between "impressions" and "views" -- an impression is when your listing pops up in the blue box on the search page, a view is when a shopper clicks on that listing to view your item.)

This second set of stats is for my shop overall, little more than a week into October and I've been favorited 12 times (only one of those from search ads) - that's as many favorites as I received in the entire month of September! Interesting.

The search ad stats are great because I can see exactly what sort of traffic I'm getting from them, if there's a simultaneous increase in traffic and it's not from the ads then I know it must be from something else. In this case, I think it's from my work on relevancy. My listings are showing up sooner in search results and getting more views, and as I think the favorites show they are getting more views from people who are interested in them. Excellent!

I think Etsy search ads are alright, I just think time and effort spent on your listings' relevance is more worthwhile and effective. It does take quite a bit of time and effort though, and some real brainstorming skills. I found several EXTREMELY helpful articles at Handmadeology, probably couldn't have done it without these honestly.

If you care to share, I'd love to hear about your marketing adventures and experiments and what you've learned from them.