Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Sale - Friday 6/26-Midnight Sunday, 6/28

I need to make room for new pieces, so I'm having a huge sale this weekend! Take 20% off your entire order at any of my shops! Difference will be immediately refunded or you may convo before purchasing and request a revised invoice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet the Middle-Man at FindAFeature

(Win $25 gift certificate and FREE advertising)

Hello, today I'd like to introduce you to my little middle-man. Throughout history, the middle-man has always gotten a bad rap, but today I'm going to introduce you to a new middle-man who will force you to leave that prejudice behind. My little middle-man lives at FindAFeature.

FindAFeature or 'FAF' (as it now has a pet name) is a new project I started to tackle a common dilemma I see in the handmade/blogging community. I always need (lefthanded) people to feature on my Lefthand Madens blog. So, each time my well runs dry, I go back into the forums at various venues and start requesting more participants. While I'm there, I always see other folks doing the exact same thing for their blogs. So it dawned on me that this is highly inefficient.

FindAFeature was created to fix that problem.

How it works:

If you're a blogger, and you need people to feature on your blog every day, week, month (whatever your need is), you can submit your request at FAF and let people come to you.

If you're a blogger, and you want to host a giveaway, and you need participants, you can submit your request at FAF and let people come to you. For example, if you're an established jewelry seller, and you want to host a giveaway to promote newbie jewelry sellers on your blog, you can post a request on FAF and people who meet your criteria can respond to you.

If you're a columnist or reporter covering a handmade news story, and you're trying to reach a particular segment of the handmade community, you can submit your request at FAF and let people come to you. For instance, there's a request on FAF right now from a columnist at who wants to interview small, sustainable, organic farmers.

If you want to feature certain products or have other needs that FAF can help you out with, you can submit your request at FAF and let people come to you. For instance, I have a request up now for Lefthand Madens because I want to feature handmade products that are specifically made for left-handed people.

All you need to do is read the submission guidelines and then email me at findafeature [!at] gmail dot com or convo me via Etsy with your request, and I'll post it for you and send you the link. If you like, you can then post it on your blog or just hang onto it. Since I started posting listings on Monday, we've had 9 connections already!

If you get a response to your listing, please let me know so that I know if FAF is working for you. You also need to let me know when to remove your listing if it doesn't have an expiration date.

How Do People Know The Listings Are There?

FindAFeature has a Twitter account where all new listings will be immediately tweeted, and unfilled listings will be re-tweeted. FAF will soon be on the Entrecard network and will be advertised through Project Wonderful,, and through word of mouth. If you'd like to put a FindAFeature button on your blog, you may grab the one on the FAF sidebar. You will make my little yellow stick man very, very happy!

But I Want to Be Featured On A Blog!

Yes, I know. That's the ultimate goal of FAF. If there isn't a listing that meets your criteria, the best thing to do is to follow FAF on Twitter and to follow the FAF blog as well so you'll see the new listings as they go live. Then you'll be able to respond immediately to one that's a match for you or tweet your best friend because you saw one that's a good match for her!

And, I know that there are many of you out there who want both. You want to feature people and you want to be featured yourself. So why not put up a listing and keep the torch lit?

But I went and looked at your site, and it's dark and black and scary.

No, it's not. It's just classy. He's a little yellow man; what other color do you want him to wear?

Can I just see your site without having to look at it?

Sure. Here's a screen shot. If you look at the green words, you can see how easy it is to navigate. You can see right next to 'Instructions' in green, that you can click and get right to "How to Use FindAFeature" and the submission guidelines. All of the actual posts are color-coded as well. You can only see 1 of them in the screen shot.

Blog Features

Okay, but I read a lot of blogs while I'm supposed to be working, and then my boss comes in and scares the crap out of me, and I forget everything I was reading, so can you give me an easy way to remember this site?

Sure. It's easy. Just remember:
You asked for info; I gave you info.
Or for those of you who are extremely visually oriented: FAFO

I have a question.

Please ask. I might have the answer.


FAF is a free service, so me and my little middle-man are very grateful to those who've already spread the word, tweeted, done blog posts etc. In fact, if you blog about FAF, tweet about it, or spread the e-word about it in some other wonderful way between now and midnight on Sunday, 6/28 and come back and comment here with proof of your efforts, you'll be entered to win a $25.00 gift certificate to my shop, Risky Beads, and a free month of advertising on this blog.

Thanks and good luck,

Lori & FAFO (the middle-man)

P.S. please leave your email address when you comment so I can contact you if you win. :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How To Write Good Copy

Once customers are dazzled by your photography and are visually interested in your product,they’re going to read your copy to see if it matches the picture they see. If the picture and the words don’t feel right together, you’re going to lose the sale. Technically speaking, ‘copy’ is the description you write for your items. Be sure to spell words correctly, use correct grammar, and give your customers all of the pertinent details (color, size, condition, purpose, material) they need about what they’re buying. And just because I see it all the time and it drives me cuckoo, there's no ‘a’ in any of the following words:


But copy is much more than basic information, and you can take the most beautiful pictures in the world, write crappy copy and kiss your shop good-bye. Let’s look at a couple examples. First, let’s look at examples of ‘bad copy.' I'm using my own pictures, and I'm making up this bad copy so no one comes after me with a pitchfork.

Example #1:

These are 3 pairs of earrings look like fruit for only $17 which is a good deal. One is red, one is orange, one is hot pink. The picture only shows one earring, but you really get 2. Like I said, this is a really good deal Please check out my other items. I have a lot of things on sale. If you would like me to make you something, just ask because I don’t charge a lot to make things. If you like my shop even if you don’t buy anything please tell your friends about my shop. I have been selling a long time and nobody is buying anything and I don't know why maybe its the economy.


Do either of those made up descriptions make you want to buy anything at all? No. In fact they make the biggest mistake that untrained copywriters make: they reveal the seller’s insecurities and weaknesses. No one is going to buy from you if you aren’t confident enough to represent yourself well or describe your product well. Another copy killer is cutting and pasting copy directly from eBay straight into Etsy so that you have auction verbage listed. There are no auctions on Etsy. Care enough about your shop to make that your copy reflects the correct venue.

Now, let’s look at good copy! One of the most popular bath & beauty shops on Etsy is Gudonya Too. With their permission and my serious handmade soap affliction, let’s look at one of their listings and see how a great picture and excellent copy sells the everloving yum-yums out of this soap:

Gudonya Whipped Clean (tm) - Wild Blackberry --- vegan ---8oz Jar


OOH LA LA! Can I just stop here and ask you something? Do you like loads of fabulously-smelling bubbles running down your body? Yeah, we do, too. And that's just one of the reasons why we love this stuff! (RELATES TO CUSTOMER ENTHUSIASTICALLY & PERSONALLY)

But before we go on and on about the great lather, the wonderfully strong scents, and the fact that one jar of Whipped Clean seems to last forEVER, let's talk about the fragrance.... Wild Blackberry-- This one is a true Southern Blackberry scent; very pungent, sweet and fragrant aroma of ripe Blackberries ready for picking. Dark and delicious, a heady full bodied fragrance. Great "comfort" scent just for you!!! Now back to Whipped Clean and why we think you should be showering or bathing with it... All you need, literally, is 1-2 swipes through it with your bath pouf and you've got enough bubbles and aroma for a car wash! Honestly! (FANTASTIC IMAGERY)

The NEW WIDE MOUTH plastic jar is bathroom-friendly (yes, ahem, one of us is always dropping things in the shower. Perhaps it's all the lather, perhaps someone's just a klutz, but the point is that we haven't broken a jar yet.) We especially like this packaging with kids/teens in the house. And believe us, if you have this fun stuff in the shower, there's no WAY they're going to stay out of it! It's pretty easy to access the Whipped Clean in the bottom of it, whether you use a bath pouf or not, which is another plus for us.

So why do we call it Whipped Clean? That's easy - it looks like whipped cream but that phrase was already taken. It's a pretty solid mixture that lathers easily in the hardest of waters and is kind to your skin. (More advertising coming your way here... ) Of course, we always recommend following up your daily body cleaning ritual with a sMOOchy! (BRINGS CUSTOMER IN ON PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS)

Being trained by a MASTER bath and body formulator, we make and use all of the items ourselves and stand behind the quality. We use only top-shelf oils and ingredients, including fragrances and essential oils, and the scents are very strong. All bath and body items are labeled with our brand name of Gudonya (pronounced good ON ya). Gudonya.... the way it SHOULD be! (EXPERTISE)

PLEASE…Convo us with any questions, comments, suggestions or custom orders! (ACCESSIBLE)

Thanks for spending time with us and have a Good on you TOO day!!! (GRATITUDE)

All Content, including product names, in and is ©Copyright 2005-2007. All Rights Reserved (PROFESSIONAL AND TRUSTWORTHY)

Now, I will grant you that that is a lot of copy, and you certainly don’t have to write something that long, but I chose it as an example because it demonstrates every aspect of what good copy can and should do. It draws the customer in, excites them, engages them, relates to them, involves them in the entire process of the product, empathizes with them, over-delivers on customer service, guarantees the product and ends by solidifying trust with the potential customer.

Any copy you write always needs to reflect your personal style. If you're not a stream-of-consciousness type, then the copy written above wouldn't make sense for your shop. Here's a much simpler example of successful copy from blacksheepbeads at ArtFire.

These funky vintage plastic beads remind me of antique pottery - they have the appearance of clay with a carved design visible beneath the finish. They measure 16mm and are drilled through the middle; you'll receive 10 in the lot.

That copy is simple, engaging, and it adds value to the product. You get all the information you need and feel comfortable purchasing the product.

Writing copy isn't difficult; it's a skill that once practiced over and over, can become an art in itself. If you love what you do and know what you're selling, you can write good copy. We live in a 24/7/365 world where anybody who knows anything about anything can become a self-proclaimed expert on any subject in ten minutes by setting up a blog with the right keywords and posting articles about the current hot topic and the next thing you know, they’re being quoted as a reliable source on CNN. If Joe-the-Plumber can get a book deal, you can write copy that engages your customer and keeps them in your shop! Trust me!

Parts of this article are an excerpt from my e-book How to Make It Small When Your Trying to Make It Big. Top photo is The Writer by emmaklingbeil. Save $4 on the book when your register your shop on the Handmade Highway, the living directory of handmade sellers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How to Link a Button On Your Blog

I've gotten a couple requests to explain how to do this, so I thought I'd do a blog post about it. This tutorial will explain how to link any image/graphic that you have on your sidebar to a particular website.

Since I made this post, I stumbled upon this site where you can make your own neat-o buttons really easily, so I re-did mine. I'll leave this post up though for those who are curious about the process.

A few people have asked where I got these buttons for my shops:

Etsy Blog Bar 2

ArtFire Blog Bar 2

Zibbet Blog bar 2

1000Markets skinny blog bar

Risky stash blog bar

I made them.

In this example, I'm going to show you how I link the first button from this blog to my Etsy shop.

Step 1: Make a button or grab a button. In this case, I made my own button.

Etsy Blog Bar 2

Step 2: The next thing I did was host it on photobucket. You can host it on Flickr, too, or any other image site you want. So because this image is now hosted on photobucket, it has a web address:

Step 3: Now let's look at code. This looks complicated, but it's really not. We're going to break it down. You know what a link looks like from step 2. "Hard-coding" a link in html is the code you use to make a word 'clickable.' This is the framework of that code. Please note that the * you see need to be taken out of the code when you use it.

<*a href=" target="_blank"*> <*/a>

Think of it as what the 'h'tml is 'referring to.' Let's do a simple example. I'll show you how I'm hard coding CraftyKids, the department I run at Again, the * are there so that the code doesn't compile and leave you with just CraftyKids on the page as I'm trying to teach you this.

<*a href=" target="_blank">Crafty Kids<*/a>

The pink is the link and the aqua is the words that I want to show on the page. The rest is code. The reason you see a target="_blank" is because I want that link to open in a new window when someone clicks it. I don't want them to have to leave my page. Click it in the above paragraph and you'll see.

Now let's take it to the next level and involve the button image. It gets a little more complicated, but we're going to break it down the same way. Again the * are only there to stop the code from compiling.

The first part you just learned:

<*a href="this is the link that where we want the reader to land target="_blank">this is what we want them to see on the page<*/a>

Now, for an image, instead of putting WORDS in the code as if you're hard coding a link in text, you put the link to the IMAGE that you want to see on the page.

<*a href="" target="_blank"*><*img border="0" alt="Etsy Blog Bar 2" src=""/*><*/a>

Reading backwards, I'm color coding it to show you that the red is the basic link to my image, but the aqua in front of it tells the link that it's going to appear on the page as an image. My Etsy shop link in front of that tells it that when it does, it will lead people to my Etsy shop.

<*a href="link to your shop" target="_blank"*><*code specifying that link will appear as an image"link of image"/*><*/a>

That code came right out of photobucket. See below.

I got all of that info from the orange arrow. I just had to change what was originally in the red part and make it my Etsy shop. Photobucket doesn't know where I want my button to go. I did the same thing for all of my other buttons. You don't need to know all the fancy color coding; it's just helpful to know what the code is doing in case you have a snafu and you're baffled.

Step 4: Now that your code is ready, log into blogger and go to customize layout. Choose 'add a gadget' on your sidebar.

Step 4: Now that your code is ready, log into blogger and go to customize layout. Choose 'add a gadget' on your sidebar.

Next, choose 'HTML' under 'Basics.'

A dialog box will open up. This is where you'll paste your code.

There's no need to use the title space unless you want to. Just paste your code in. Here's what mine looks like but remember that mine has several buttons in it.

You can see where each one of my shops is listed in that code as you read down the page. I know this seems complicated, but after you've uploaded your image to flickr or photobucket a few times, you'll get the hang of it. Like I said, you're only really replacing one link in that case, just the link that comes after the "a href" as I call it and telling the image to point to your shop.

I do the same thing for every ad that runs on my blog or link to any other site. Once you know how to do it, you're good to go. Good luck and feel free to comment if you have questions.


If you need someone to make buttons for you, I'll make you a set of up to 6 in your size and color choice for your blog for $15. Just email me riskybeads at gmail dot com. If you'd like even more information about running your shop in general, please click here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why the Public Option Means Everything to Me

This is my story, and it's one of many that sound exactly the same.

I have chronic migraine headaches. I've had them since I was a child, but they became debilitating when I went to college and got worse and worse and worse. In college, Imitrex wasn't out yet, so I would walk to Student Health where they would pump me full of Demerol and Phenergan, put me on the shuttle, and drop me off in front of my dorm. It wasn't uncommon for someone to help me up to the third floor (no elevator). I would sleep for 24 hours, wake up the next day and go to yesterday's classes, not even knowing what day it was.

When Imitrex came on the scene, things got a little better, but it only works if you catch the migraine at the very beginning and unfortunately, I tended to sleep through my aura and wake up with a migraine that was past that point. Turned out to be a good thing, though, because regardless of what my neurologist prescribed me, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, United Healthcare and any other insurance plan I've ever had, thinks it's unsafe for me or anyone else to have more than 6 injectable doses or 9 tablets of Imitrex a month. Despite appeals from my neurologist, they think they know better. It's fun to play 'is this going to be a real migraine or should I not waste this dose?' You should try it sometime.

I can't work an 8-5 job because of my migraines and the now associated health problems. I can work, don't get me wrong, but I can't keep a schedule. You can't rely on me to be anywhere at anytime, especially in the summer. I've lost more jobs than I've ever had. Every time I lost one, I had to carry COBRA because if you let your insurance drop, then the next insurance you get will rider you for at least a year before they'll cover your pre-existing conditions.

Had there been a public health care option available to me when I lost my job, I could've have transferred to that. I could've not carried COBRA and all of it's horrific financial side effects. I would've been able to make a better choice for my life. I could've taken a less stressful job and not worried about trying to push myself to make enough money to stay in the game for medical insurance because that's all I was ever doing. For fifteen years, every occupational decision I made was made based on health insurance.

My self-esteem took a nose dive all the way to Hell, but not anymore. There isn't an insurance company, a politician, or a pharmaceutical company who's going to dictate one more day in my life. I'm done. If the people that we elect to run this country can't figure out something so unbelievably basic as health care, then shame on them.

Shame. On. Them.

Do I care if they taxes to pay for it? No. You took my tax dollars overseas and killed a bunch of people. You took my tax dollars and gave them to bunch of unbelievable idiots on Wall Street. I'd really appreciate if you'd use my tax dollars to do something decent for a change.

Do I quiver in fear of a 'government run health care program?'

Give me a break.

An insurance company has dictated the care I'm allowed to have my entire life. They don't give a #$%^ what any of my doctors think I need. Do you really think I'm the least bit worried about the government? Are you insane? Do you get what this is about? This is people's lives. Sick, suffering, and often extremely poor people. They aren't the least bit afraid of the government 'rationing health care.' They're afraid of politicians rationing health care. You're the ones causing the problem. Grow up.

Super sick people can't get to the polls to vote, you know? Did you ever think of that?


Top image is Inside Trying to Get Out by Carapace.