Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Inspiration

Blue stripes stud earrings, originally uploaded by KooKooCraft.

Submit your photos for consideration as a Weekly Inspiration by adding them to the Flickr Group.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Note on Etsy Search Ads

Search Ads on Etsy started this morning. The grand experiment has begun and I hope it's a grand success as well.

I've put together a tutorial lens on Squidoo all about Search Ads including a lot of how to set them up and my personal thoughts on choosing keywords and evaluating your ad results (seriously, I put a lot of thought into the evaluation section and I think it's a good method for a more objective evaluation).

Since Search Ads have only begun this is a work in progress and it will be refined over the coming weeks.

Note: I was hoping so be busy evaluating the first day and posting live updated on @HandmadeBizBlog and @Noadi on Twitter but I've had a minor emergency involving a smoking light socket and will be dealing with repairs going on in my living room today. Updates will be sporadic.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It Will Never be a "Level Playing Field"

It's an unpleasant fact of life that things aren't always fair. As a small handmade business you have to compete with bigger businesses with bigger budgets and lower prices, more successful and experienced small businesses, and sheer diversity of products available on the market. It can be frustrating and depressing at times.

There's also nothing you can do about it.

What you can do something about is your own business. You can take better photos, write better descriptions, promote your business more, write a blog, build a fanbase on facebook, and all the other things I've written blog posts about. You can only control you. As we get closer to the busy holiday shopping season it's important to remember this and to focus on those things we can do instead of getting sidetracked by the things we have no control over.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Etsy Relevancy Search 45 Days Out

When I first posted about looking at Etsy Relevancy objectively it was about a week later. It's now 45 days out and how is my shop doing? Well sales are up over this time period last year but there were things going on last year that affected my ability to make, list, and relist items so it's hard to tell how badly that affected my sales over this time frame last year. My sales are also up over the 45 days immediately prior to the relevancy switch which I think is a better gauge of how things are going. The big payoff though is looking at site search stats:
The blue line is the last 45 days since relevancy, the green line is the 45 prior to the switch.
Visits with search: +60.74%
Total Unique Searches: +59.36%
If something is hurting my sales right now it certainly isn't the new search. Of course some sellers are doing worse with this change and I am sorry this change is hard for them, anyone who wants me to help them improve their shop is welcome to contact me with any questions. However the people making sweeping statements about how Etsy is killing their business and no one is making sales or getting traffic is just outright wrong (Etsy's own statistics show sales in August were way up over both last year and July).

Google Apps highlights – 9/23/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

It’s back-to-school season, and we’ve made Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and Sites easier to use and more powerful for students and non-students alike—including some important accessibility improvements to help blind users be productive in our apps.

Multiple sign-in and other new preferences in Gmail for mobile
On Wednesday, we added some helpful new features for people who use Gmail on a mobile browser. You can now sign in to more than one Gmail account at a time, and toggle between them easily from the account switcher menu at the bottom of the mobile inbox. This can be a good time saver if you have multiple accounts or share a mobile device with family members. Gmail for mobile also now enables you to set up mobile-specific email signatures and create vacation responders right from your phone to let people know when you won't be available by email.

Calling credit auto-recharge
Now you can automatically add international calling credits for phone calls in Gmail when your balance gets low. Just visit the "Billing" area of the Google Voice settings page and click "Add credit" to put your account on cruise control.

Allow people to comment but not edit in documents
Sometimes, you might find yourself in situations when you’d like to share a document for feedback, but don’t want to make the document's content fully editable. The comment-only level of access launched last week is a nice option for these scenarios. You can let others discuss and add their thoughts to your document—without allowing them to change your work. You can allow document comments from specific individuals or groups, from anyone belonging your organization or from the general public.

Format painter, Fusion Tables, drag & drop images and vertical cell merge
Comment-only access isn't all that we've added to Google Docs over the last few weeks. Other notable improvements include a text format painter in documents, which is a fast way to copy and paste font, size, color and other text styling. Spreadsheets now support vertically merged cells (in addition to horizontal merges). In drawings, you can drag images from your desktop to the drawing canvas, then continue editing your graphic. We also added Fusion Tables as a new document type in the documents list. Fusion Tables are a powerful way to gather, visualize and collaborate on large data sets that might be unwieldy in a typical spreadsheet.

Fusion Table data visualized on an interactive map

Accessibility improvements in Google Calendar, Docs and Sites
We think technology can do a better job getting out of people’s way and helping you be more productive with less complexity and fewer frustrations. In this spirit, we’ve recently made a series of improvements to make our applications more accessible to blind users. We have more work to do, but Google Calendar, Docs and Sites now offer better support for screen readers and improved keyboard shortcuts. We hope these changes make our applications more useful to all users.

Who’s gone Google?
Organizations are moving to Google Apps for a diverse set of reasons—including cost savings, streamlined teamwork and better mobile access. We’ve even started hearing from schools and businesses who have made the switch to reduce their impact on the environment. No two organizations choose Google Apps for the exact same reasons, but in total, the momentum of Google Apps keeps growing.

We recently shared the news that 61 of the top 100 universities ranked by U.S. News and World Report have gone Google. On the business side, there are now more than 4 million companies using Google Apps, and businesses are joining at a rate of over 5,000 per day. In all, there are more than 40 million users that regularly use Google Apps in their organizations.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Defining Ad Terms

Etsy is launching their new search ad program but there seems to be a lot of confusion about some basics on online advertising so here are some definitions of common ad terms. Etsy's new ad program works a lot like Google's Adwords search ads so you can apply a lot of information about Adwords to Etsy Search Ads.

Impression - When your ad is seen. So 5,000 impressions means your ad is seen 5,000 times.
Click - When someone clicks on your ad. 5 clicks means 5 people have clicked on your ad and viewed the page it is linked to. Etsy uses the term view for this on your shop stats page.
CTR - This stands for Click Through Rate it's a percentage arrived by dividing the number of ad clicks by the number of impressions. If an ad is clicked 8 times and has 300 impressions it has a CTR of 2.6%. Generally a CTR of >1% is considered good.

How Search Ads Work
When someone searches using a keyword (say "silver necklace") ads using that term are displayed. The price of that ad depends on several factors: frequency it is searched and competition for the search term. So a term that is searched 500 times a day and is being bid on by 30 ads will have a higher price than a term with 1000 searches and 30 bidders. Likewise a a term that is searched 500 times with 5 bidders is going to be less than a term with 1000 searches and 50 bidders. Thus a popular term can actually be quite cheap because it searched thousands of times a day and even though it has a lot of bidders there's enough rotation for everyone.

Etsy has a list of estimated prices per 1000 impressions for keyword on this page but expect it to change once the ads go live based on demand for keywords and changes in what people are searching for.

Etsy Ads or Google Adwords
This isn't an either/or question, nor should it be. The fact is that Etsy Search Ads, Google Adwords, and Project Wonderful (another fantastic ad network) all serve different audiences and can all be part of an overall advertising plan. Adding a new advertising option may require that you shift your advertising budget around a little bit to make room for the new expense (though if you were a frequent relister on Etsy you can put some of the money you are now saving on listing fees towards advertising now that relisting isn't as useful a strategy). If you don't currently have an advertising budget you really should have one, marketing is a vital part of business and as much as I'm a fan of marketing that costs time not money (blogging, social media, etc) traditional advertising is still important.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick Tip #29 - Etsy Relevancy

The helpful folks at Handmadeology (another great resource for handmade business owners) have ut together a free report on Etsy Relevancy. You do need to give them your email address for their mailing list but you can unsubscribe after getting the report if you really don't want it.

Ask us your Google Places for business questions

A little more than a year ago, we collected your questions and feedback on Google Places for business via a Google Moderator page. You sent us some great feedback, and we had a blast responding! Check out our video responses here on YouTube, covering things like features of a listing, Report a problem and ranking.

It's important to us to continue hearing your great feedback — and we suspect you've had a lot of questions and ideas throughout the past year — so let's fire up another Moderator page. Starting today and for the next two weeks, you can submit your questions and ideas, as well as vote up other submissions from users. We'll answer some of the more popular questions directly on the page and post a new video or two to the Google Places YouTube channel.

Start sharing your ideas right now, and stay tuned to us here on the Small Business Blog to see a roundup of responses.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Google Maps and Places community manager

Friday, September 2, 2011

Inc. Magazine and Google want to hear your online success story

In my role at Google, I am constantly impressed by the innovative and entrepreneurial ways that small business owners take their ideas or passions, and turn them into thriving businesses. One of my favorite business success stories is of a small boutique in New York City called Loopy Mango. For over a year, their storefront was covered by a scaffolding due to delays in renovation of the building next door. To overcome this challenge, they relied on online advertising to find customers and share what their unique lifestyle boutique had to offer.

Does your business have a unique online marketing story? In partnership with Inc. Magazine, we're now asking businesses across the country to share with us how they've used online marketing tools to improve their business. The three most impactful stories will receive tickets to the Inc. 5000 conference in the Washington, D.C. metro-area on September 22-24, 2011.

Inc. Magazine is taking submissions here. Please share your story with us by September 7, 2011 for a chance to win. Winners will be notified via email by September 10, 2011. Also, visit Google@Inc on to learn more tips and tools from experts about how to grow your business online.

Posted by Ria Tobaccowala, Small Business Marketing Team