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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!! Featured Prdouct for the Day!

I know, I know, to commemorate Halloween I should feature something orange and black...but instead I am offering 20% off this lovely pink crystals and pearls coil bracelet for today only!! Use the code BLG1031 when ordering and the 20% discount will be refunded to you through PayPal.

This sparkling and sweet 6 ring coil bracelet is made with smaller beads such as crystals, pearls, coral, and interesting spacers, this bracelet is both delicate and solid and would make the perfect Christmas gift for your special girl...or even for yourself!!!

Pink goes with everything from black to white and many colors in between and this little bracelet is a wonderful accessory for work attire, casual attire, or that little black dress! Check it out at my Etsy Shop and remember, Zur Designs offers free shipping which makes this even more of a bargain!

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Week's Featured Etsy Shop is: Lunarbelle and She's Having A GIVEAWAY!!!!

This week's featured Etsy Shop is Lunarbelle! Her shop and her designs are just beautiful!

She is located in Australia and loves making jewelry. She almost feel like beads have taken over her life! When you start dreaming about them then you know it is a passion! Many of us know what that's like!!

The name Lunarbelle was derived from: Lunar because her sign is Cancer and Belle is her daughter's nickname.

She started making jewelry about five years ago and has been plying family and friends with her creations! She also sells pieces at a local gift shop and on ebay in Australia.

She found Etsy and thought it would be a wonderful place to list some of her work. She is a proud member of the DUST Team on Etsy, a group of Australian Artists, Crafts people and Artisans who support Etsy and wish to promote independent Handcrafted Goods here in Australia and
worldwide.

Take a look at her wonderful shop for yourself!


Etsy
Buy Handmade
Lunarbelle


Here are some places to find Lunarbelle:
To commemorate being the Featured Etsy Shop this week, Lunarbelle is having a GIVEAWAY!!! In addition, for this week only she is offering a 15% discount on all items in her shop to all my blog readers!


Take a chance at winning this lovely pair of dainty crystal cathedral bead earrings.
The beads used are a cathedral cut and are lined with copper which gives them a lovely pink/purple glow. A little gold plated bead cap sits on the bottom and a little gold plated heishi bead sits on the top. The earring hooks are gold plated and are an elongated shape which is flattened at the front. The drops measure 15mm from the bottom of the hook.

Okay here's how it works:

1. Go to Lunarbelle's shop and choose an item you love and leave a comment at the end of this post about your choice
2. Follow Lunarbelle's Blog

Completing those two basic tasks will earn you one chance into the giveaway!

Extra Credit

1. Follow this blog--Zur Designs
2. Follow Lunarbelle on Twitter
3. Follow Zur Designs on Twitter
4. Become a fan on Zur Designs Facebook Fan Page

On Monday, November 2nd I will tally it all up, run it through the random drawing software and announce the winner!

Oh, and if you would like to promote your blog, Facebook page, etc...mention it in your comments!

Thanks everyone and good luck!!!

And The Winner of Featured Etsy Artisan Crystal Pearl's Giveaway Is...


Natalie Jean of Suitcase Art on Etsy! Suitcase Art is about providing what you need for any vintage inspired home or craft projects. Specializing in pyrex and fireking kitchenwares, home decor, and tschokies for every other room in your house.

Natalie Jean is a photographer and you can learn more about her tremendous talent on her blog, her website, and her Twitter Channel.

Congratulations Natalie Jean!

Crystal Pearl and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered this giveaway! And as you can see...the next featured
Etsy Artisan is up and running--Lunarbelle! And she is offering a giveaway and a discount to all my blog readers!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Very First Featured Etsy Shop is: Crystal Pearl! And There's A GIVEAWAY!!!

Crystal Pearl offers beaded t-shirts, tanks and lingerie, plus beautiful vintage and antique jewelry, including gold and silver, brooches, necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, etc.

The shop's proprietor comes from a family well-versed in the art of needlecraft. As a child, her mother made a lot of the clothing for the family, her aunt worked in the center of London as a seamstress, and she herself, from a very young age, designed her own doll clothing, studied needlework and continues to make clothing for herself today!

Crystal Pearl offers high quality vintage jewelry and unique upcycled and hand embellished items of clothing using a variety of materials such as faux jet, amberite, metallic buttons, acrylic buttons, ribbon, synthetic fur, and 80 year old glass Chinese trade beads specially imported from Thailand!

Take a look at some of the offerings in Crystal Pearl's Etsy Shop!!

You can also follow Crystal Pearl on:



Etsy
Buy Handmade
CrystalPearl

As featured artisan of the week, Crystal Pearl would like to offer a special giveaway, her amberite whirlygig pendant, to all my blog readers. To the lucky winner of this week's drawing, Crystal Pearl is offering this beautiful handmade silver and amberite pendant on a colored plaited leather thong. Various thong colors available (please specify if you have a color preference and she will try to accommodate.) Great for clubbing!


Here's how it works:

1. Become a follower of this blog--Zur Designs
2. Become a follower of Crystal Pearl's blog

Those two steps will win you one chance at the amberite whirlygig pendant.

For extra credit (for all you over-achievers out there!) each one of the following activities will earn you one extra chance in the prize drawing:
  • Become a fan of Crystal Pearl on Facebook
  • Become a fan of Zur Designs on Facebook
  • Follow Crystal Pearl on Twitter
  • Follow Zur Designs on Twitter
  • Become one of Crystal Pearl's contacts on Flickr
  • Become one of Crystal Pearl's contacts on Burdastyle
Leave a comment at the end of this post telling me that you have completed the two basic steps and what extra credit steps you took and on Monday, October 26th I will tally it all up and announce the winner! Also, if you'd like to mention your blog or other sites...feel free and I will follow you back!

Also, if you have an Etsy shop and would like to be a featured artisan on my blog, leave a comment after this post with your shop link and I will convo you!

Thanks in advance and Good Luck Everyone!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Something New!!! Featured Etsy Shop!!!


Beginning Monday, October 19th, I will be starting something new! I am going to be featuring a different Etsy Shop every week. There is so much talent and so many great gift ideas on Etsy...I just wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some great shops and let you see for yourself! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tips On Making An Etsy Treasury



An Etsy Treasury is a curated collection of Etsy items chosen by Etsy users. Each of these collections are posted on the Etsy Treasury page for a limited amount of time for buyers and sellers to look through.

Anyone with an Etsy account can create a treasury and they can choose anyone from the many Etsy shops available within the Etsy Universe to be a part of that treasury.

Usually these treasuries are themed by color or idea or concept. All the treasuries I have looked at are quite lovely. To your left is an example of an Etsy Treasury.

There are actually two treasury types of Etsy Treasuries: the traditional treasury and Etsy Treasury West. This gives you two opportunities to either put together a treasury or be chosen to be in one.

I ran across some resources that may prove helpful:

  • Rachel Lucie, Jewellry Designs posted a wonderful how-to on her blog. I picked this information up in one of the forums of Indiepublic and wow it was quite a find. Take a look for yourself! Don't forget to view the comments on this post because there is useful information there too! One commenter mentions the Storque Article on Treasuries as a good resource.
  • Here's a Treasury Tutorial from the Etsy Forums by Fishstikks that gave a lot of good information
  • I also found this blog post by Owl on the Sill that was very informative.
  • And once you make your first treasury, you will want to take a look at this post by Jessica Poundstone. I found this on Associated Content (AC) under Lifestyle, Crafts and Hobbies.
  • And I love this article on why we make Treasuries by Etsy shop owner saltandpaper!
Hope these help!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Timothy Adam Webinar On Driving Traffic to Your Etsy Shop


So Tuesday night, October 13th at 9PM EDT, I attended Timothy Adam's webinar that covered topics involving driving more traffic to your Etsy shop (although it could apply to any online selling site). The material was awesome! Tim and his colleague Andy Drish began with the premise that there were over 1.5 million items listed on Etsy per month. Given that staggering number, it is necessary to develop new marketing strategies to drive traffic to your Etsy Shop. That is not to say that the tried-and-true strategies are no longer effective such as renewing items in your Etsy shop every day; this is just no longer enough to get seen due to the proliferation of items available for sale. As a matter of fact, Tim stated that renewing certain or all of your items (depending on the amount of items you have in your shop) gives buyers the impression of a fresh shop that is open for business each and every day.

In addition to the renew strategy, Tim also mentioned what we all know is important--the photos of our products. Without buyers being able to feel or touch our products, we have five pictures to convince them that this is the item they want to buy. I know for myself, I have a bunch of photos that need replacing because they don't show how beautiful the item really is!

Pricing was also discussed and Tim pointed us in the direction of the Etsy calculator tool that helps you determine the right pricing for your items. Andy explained the phrase "price framing" to us which simply put means that people like to regress to the mean when purchasing products. This bit of psychology can be very helpful for those of us who struggle with pricing!

Offline marketing efforts were also mentioned such as art shows, fairs, and utilizing business cards to get the word out there about your online selling shop.

But the meat of the webinar was about tapping into social networking sites and blogging as an effective means to not only develop a customer base but to create a community-based network within the handmade industry. Some of the highlights of information and advice he gave to us included:

  • Use your blog as your home base and then send out to Facebook and Twitter sending them back to your blog in order to enhance the amount of traffic to your selling site
  • Facebook is the fasting growing viral network out there and has the ability to show your network not only text but pictures to promote your work and the work of fellow artisans
  • Utilize the Facebook Fan Page Insights to track your demographic information and see exactly where your fans are coming from
  • Go out and find followers on Twitter by using directories like We Follow or follow who follows Tim on his Twitter channels so that you have a base of people who are truly interested in your industry and work
  • Sign up for HootSuite which is an application that helps you manage your Twitter channels and actually has the capability of scheduling tweets for later so you can have steady timed tweets even if you are not able to be at your desk to tweet them!
The remaining part of the webinar was devoted to one of Tim's latest projects: Handmadeology University (HMU). This is a subscription based site that gives you all the benefits of Tim's knowledge and expertise plus the feeling of community amongst all other members of HMU. Here are some of the benefits you receive by being a part of HMU:
  • Valuable ebooks about Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Time Management, and Google Analytics
  • 8 hours of recorded personal coaching calls
  • Fabulous forums
  • Tim's Product Launch Formula regarding building a solid email list
  • A free webinar per month
And much, much more! Contact Tim Adam at one of his many places on the web for more information on how to become a member!
Here's an earlier post about resources for marketing and promoting your indie artisan business, in case you missed it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Is StumbleUpon And How Can It Enhance My Web-Based Business?


I must confess, I "stumbled upon" StumbleUpon a few months ago, installed the toolbar that allows you to be shown a certain website and you can either choose the "thumbs up" if you like it, or choose the "thumbs down" if you do not. It was fun...it allowed me to see content that matched my interests and I saw sites that I ordinarily would never have run across. But, I never equated it to my business and never really though of using it as part of my overall marketing strategy.

StumbleUpon is a social website which allows its users a new way to experience the Internet. Instead of searching for specific items on search engines like Google, StumbleUpon users only have to tag specific personal or professional interests and then ‘channel surf’ the web by simply clicking on a button on StumbleUpon tool bar.

Enhancing Your Online Business

The first step, after signing up for StumbleUpon is to check to see if your website/blog/selling site is already listed. You can do this by going to this page.

If your website is not listed, you can start using your newly installed toolbar to tag and review it by clicking on the blue thumbs up symbol which has “I like it!” next to it.

This will open a pop-up panel which allows you to categorize your website, write a short description and tag with specific keywords. Following which, your website will be included in Stumble Upon’s database and will show up when other users with interests similar to your tags use the Stumble Upon toolbar to surf the internet.

Here are a list of benefits from using StumbleUpon as part of your social networking strategy:

  • Traffic from StumbleUpon ordinarily has the lowest bounce rate. The bounce rate tells you how many users instantly ran away after landing on your site. Latest data indicates that traffic received from StumbleUpon has about a 30% bounce rate which is rather extraordinary. Even very targeted Google traffic typically yields a bounce rate of between 70-80%.
  • Tying into the low bounce rate, StumbleUpon users tend to have a large page view rate--averaging two pages per visit.
  • Because each StumbleUpon user chooses categories based on their own interests, you will be receiving approximately 95% new visitors to your site that are interested in your products
  • Each time one of the almost 8.5 million StumbleUpon users likes your blog post or your site, you get a new burst of traffic. That tends to create a rather steady flow of traffic when you are looking at almost 8.5 million users.
  • StumbleUpon users tend to be a bit more polite than some of the other social networking voting sites. Therefore, there is usually no biting comments that can impact the opinion of other visitors to your site.
  • StumbleUpon's almost 8.5 million users are from all parts of the world therefore giving your site international traffic.

How To Optimize StumbleUpon to Drive Traffic to Your Site

Naturally, once you have these deluxe visitors, you want to do what you can to keep them. Here are a few things you can do in order to keep the stumblers coming back to your site:

  • Provide good content--try only to stumble the best content on your site
  • Offer email subscriptions--having various options to view your site can help attract all different kinds of visitors and keep them involved
  • Hold a giveaway--everyone loves free stuff! This will keep your visitors coming back more frequently
  • Make StumbleUpon users feel welcome--if you notice in your analytics that many of your visitors were stumblers, welcome them to your site. Remember to post your richest content after you have been heavily stumbled to attract them to come back and stay on as a loyal follower

How Many StumbleUpon Visits Are We Talking About?

One can expect anywhere from 100 to 10,000 visitors from StumbleUpon every day and these are completely unique visitors! One of my fellow Etsians reported that her Etsy site was stumbled and she received 600 views to her shop in one day that ultimately culminated in sales if I recall. She didn't even know who had stumbled her and was anxious to find out so she could thank that person!!

Of course the number of users is going to depend on a lot of factors. Some of these factors are:

  • The number of thumbs up you received from these stumblers
  • The number of users in your StumbleUpon network
  • Number of StumbleUpon friends
  • Number of profie reviews you have which tends to make the user more credible

If you have a user stumble upon your site that has a large number of friends in their network and is known as an authority, you can expect to see the higher end of StumbleUpon visits each and every day.

So it appears that you need to have other Stumble friends and create a rich well rounded profie of stumbles; broad within your categories and take the time to review the sites you stumble upon...you can begin to generate a large volume of traffic to your site that will be a rich mix of people who are genuinely interested in the content you write and/or the products you sell. Did you sign up to StumbleUpon yet?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Optimizing Twitter As A Marketing Tool


I really enjoy using Twitter to market my indie business. I've developed some nice contacts within the handmade industry that promotes a sense of community. What I've learned is that you can develop a following if you put a little personal in with your promotion, be respectful by not constantly inundating people with with rapid fire tweets; but using Twitter to keep followers informed of items in your shop, giveaways, and features or resources from other shops within the industry.

Like many people who join Twitter, I followed everyone and happily tweeted for awhile and then began to see the significant impact Twitter had on the number of views to my shop and the number of contacts made within my industry. I became compelled to find out what tools were available to track the impact this and enhance my overall use of this fabulous micro blogging tool. The simplicity of Twitter warrants the use of some third party applications in order to maximize your Twitter space and experience...so I went off to check in with reliable experts about what types of tools and auxiliary sites were available to "pimp" my Twitter ride.

Well I soon found that there are thousands of amazing tools and sites out there related to Twitter!

Here is a small sampling of some useful applications and sites for Twitter:
  • TinyURL--with only 140 maximum for each Tweet; shortening some of the lengthy URLs comes in very handy. I have TinyURL right on my toolbar so that it's at my fingertips when I am ready to tweet. This one is probably a no-brainer for most Twitterers but certainly a must have for those just getting started in the world of tweets.
  • Twitterfeed--have feed from your Etsy Shop (or other selling venue) and your blog linked through Twitterfeed. This way whenever you post a new item to Etsy, it is posted directly to Twitter and every time you make a blog post, that goes directly to Twitter as well. This saves a great deal of time.
  • Twitter Background applications--there are many of these to choose from! Some offer free backgrounds; others cost a nominal amount if you want to customize the background with photos and information about where else your followers can find you on the Internet. I've had good luck with MyTweetSpace but do a search and choose for yourself!
  • TweetStats--tracks your Tweets per hour and per month and presents it in graph form. Additionally, the site gives you the ability to view your Tweet Cloud which shows you all the tags you have used. Good stuff!
  • Twitter Grader--uses a special algorithm to rate the power of your twitter profile. It looks at a variety of factors including the number of followers, power of those followers and the level to which you are engaging the community. It takes just a few seconds to generate your free report.
  • TwitterCounter--tracks the stats of over four million users and helps predict your projected users based on your Twitter statistics. You can also put a remote counter on your website or blog.
  • iFollowBack--sign up at this sight and join groups that are closely related to your market or area of interest. You agree to follow back all users that follow you and it is simple to do this right on the site. This is the planful way to build a follower base and establish yourself within a community.
  • TwitPic--share pictures on Twitter. You can post pictures to TwitPic from your phone, the TwitPic homepage or your Twitter account. I just signed up for this one to check it out.
And the list goes on! Here are some other resources I ran across that might help you optimize Twitter, whatever your goal might be:
  • Timothy Adam--his Timothy Adam Design blog has quite a few informative articles on Twitter and how he has optimized the use of it to market and brand his business.
  • Check out the information on The Crafted Webmaster and download her Twitter Newbie's Guide if you are just getting started with Twitter.
  • Check out Mashable--The Social Media Guide for lots of good articles and information about getting the most out of Twitter.
  • Here's an article from Smashing Magazine that lists "The 99 Essential Twitter Tools and Applications"
And don't forget to Tweet any good information you find!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

And The Winner of the Zur Designs Giveaway Is...


First of all, I would like to thank all the people who entered my
very first giveaway! Thank you all for following my blog!

So I used one of those random number generators to make it
fair to all the participants. I matched the number against the followers list to determine the winner. It was really cool!

And the winner is...



Congratulations Kim and thank you for following my blog!

Check out Kim's blog, and visit her Etsy Shop, her ArtFire shop, and find her
on Zibbet. You can follow VA Beach Quilter on Twitter and check out
her Facebook Fan Page.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated!




Wednesday, October 07, 2009

FINAL DAY OF ZUR DESIGNS GIVEAWAY!!!

Zur Designs is having a GIVEAWAY!!! Today's the LAST DAY!!!

All those who sign up to follow my blog TODAY will be entered into a sweepstakes to win my Emerald Isle earrings! They make a great gift to start your holiday shopping or a great treat just for you!!



These earrings are made with bali headpins, potato pearls, swarovski crystals, natural green stones, bali spacers, and sterling silver fish hooks. They are elegant enough for dressing up but you'll want to wear them every day!
So here's how it works:

* Just click the "Follow" button on the right hand side of my blog
* Your name will be automatically entered into the drawing for "Emerald Isle Earrings"
* I will announce the winner on this blog on October 8th!!


Oh, and if you'd like me to follow your blog...leave a comment on my blog!

Thanks everyone in advance and GOOD LUCK!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fall Foliage Designs

Yes, the leaves are changing here in the Berkshires and the landscape hues have inspired me to create some special fall pieces!

Like this Fall Foliage Coil Bracelet made with ryolite, yellow rounds and orange bicone swarovski crystals, dreamcicle adventurine, ukanite rounds, a variety of natural stones, bali spacers and bead caps. Can't you picture wearing it for Thanksgiving? Or any of the fall parties coming up over the next few weeks?

I also designed a pretty ryolite ring wrapped in 14K gold filled wire with a pearl and a little natural stone surrounding the ryolite oval.
All the fall colors are represented in this sweet little ring!

Then I went wild with a variety of natural stones and made The Natural, a chunky coil bracelet. The large focal beads are grossularite and I used every shape and size of natural stones, bloodstone, and honey jade in between! Plus some bali spacers in two shapes. It's chunky, it's colorful, and it's great for fall!

Still working on a few more designs for this collection...so off I go to my studio to create some more! Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Zur Designs Giveaway Starts Today!!!!

Beginning today, October 1st (do you believe it's October?) and running through October 7th, Zur Designs will be running a giveaway! All those who sign up to follow my blog between these dates will be entered into a sweepstakes to win my Emerald Isle earrings! They make a great gift to start your holiday shopping or a great treat just for you!!



These earrings are made with bali headpins, potato pearls, swarovski crystals, natural green stones, bali spacers, and sterling silver fish hooks. They are elegant enough for dressing up but you'll want to wear them every day!
So here's how it works:

* Just click the "Follow" button on the right hand side of my blog
* Your name will be automatically entered into the drawing for "Emerald Isle Earrings"
* I will announce the winner on this blog on October 8th!!


Oh, and if you'd like me to follow your blog...leave a comment on my blog!

Thanks everyone in advance and GOOD LUCK!!

Twitter Updates

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    About Me

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    I am an MBA Jewelry Artisan and owner of Zur Designs.  I create handcrafted jewelry using only the highest quality materials such as sterling silver,semi-precious gemstones, swarovski crystals, and pearls.

    My designs are inspired by life, love, and the beauty that surrounds me from the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the wonderful beaches in Rhode Island...both I consider my home.