Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Benefits Of Flickr

Flickr has millions of very active users and is in the top 15 social networking/media websites!

How does Flickr work?

A Flickr account is free. You’ll need a Yahoo ID to sign up. Once you’ve joined, adding photos to Flickr is done through a simple upload system.

The typical experience for most users of Flickr would involve uploading a photo, adding the photo to a personal photo album (a “set”, as Flickr calls them), and then sharing your photos.

First, let me emphasize that it’s against the Terms of Use to “exploit for any commercial purposes” the Flickr/Yahoo service. Posting a photo specifically for the purposes of advertising your company, your products/services, etc., would be against the TOS and would turn off the Flickr community.

That said, by being a smart and active contributor to the Flickr community, your business (web site) can get indirect marketing exposure via Flickr. The MORE people that see your product the more solid your BRANDING is.

Here are a lot of ideas and options to use Flickr to your advantage:

1.) Use your web site address as your Flickr screen name. Your screen name will be attached to every photo you upload, every message you post in a Group discussion — everything you do on Flickr. Let your screen name advertise your web site URL.

2.) Use your Flickr profile to advertise your company, products, services, etc. In your profile, Flickr asks you to describe yourself and lets you give your web site name and address. Use this to describe who you are and what your business does, but keep the sales pitch to a minimum. Make it informational instead. Make your company logo your Flickr icon.

3.) Upload quality photos of your products/services, and things related to your business.

4.) Write appropriate text for each photo, but avoid the hard sell. You can give a name and write a description for each photo you upload. You should describe the photo accurately — i.e., “This is a bottle of our newest release, 2005 Chardonnay….” — but avoid any hard sell copy. Remember to keep the focus on the photography, not the sales pitch. You can also add “tags” to describe each photo. If you rely on local traffic, the tags should include the city names where you do business (but don’t overdo it).

5.) Find and join appropriate groups and share your photos in those groups. There are groups on Flickr for just about anything you can imagine. Be sure to find and join any groups related to your location — search on your city name, nearby city names, and your state. When appropriate, posting photos and joining discussions in those groups will allow you to reach a local audience. Read carefully the rules of each group for posting photos. There are usually limits.

6.) Link prominently from your web site to your Flickr photostream. There are three reasons for this: First, because people visiting your web site are likely to be interested in your photos, too. Who doesn’t appreciate good pictures? Second, some of your visitors are probably already Flickr users, and they might welcome to the chance to add you to their “contact list.” (Return the favor if they do!) The third reason is that search engine crawlers should follow a prominent link from your web site to your Flickr photos, and when that happens, you have more potential matches for search engine users. (Yes, Flickr photo pages are crawled by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.com, too.)

7.) Take part in the Flickr community. By this, I mean the following:

• Comment on other photos you like, whether they’re related to your business or not.

• Add great photos to your “Favorites” list.

• Take part in discussions in your groups (but avoid the hard-sell tactics).

Remember that every time you do one of these things, your screen name will show — with your comment, with your discussion posts, etc. And if your screen name is your URL, that’s free advertising.
Be smart and creative about this. If you find a photo from another user in your area of interest, and that photo is getting a lot of views and comments, add your own comment to get your screen name in front of a lot of eyeballs. (Just make sure it’s a legitimate comment on the photo, and as always, don’t comment to promote your business.

8.) Providing Stock Photography- If your online marketing goals include establishing your company as a subject matter expert, building brand recognition, and establishing relationships and goodwill, then providing stock photography via Flickr is a great strategy. Make sure you alter your permissions to allow others to view and use your photos. Each time your picture is used in a blog they are supposed to link back! Creating very valuable back links for search engines and the possibility of those blog readers clicking on that picture to see more of your items! Of course there are always limits and risks to this, especially if you sell photography you risk being copied. So this should be thought through carefully before doing.

9.) Load pictures on Flickr and push them out to a Facebook page. When photos are only published on Facebook only subscribers of Facebook can search for them. Pictures posted on Flickr allows anyone on the Web to find them.

10.) Build your Flickr contacts by inviting your friends to join Flickr, and also by networking with other Flickr users you meet online through your groups and so on. You will see your contacts’ new photos on your Flickr homepage and, more importantly, they will see yours too!

Don’t spam.

1. There’s no need to stuff linked keywords into your photo descriptions, into the comments you leave on other’s photos, etc.

2. There’s no need to plaster your URL all over the photos you upload.

3. There’s no need to post advertising messages in discussion groups.

If you try these, all you’ll do is turn-off the Flickr community … when the whole point is turn them on.

FINAL NOTE: Like all social networking sites it takes time to grow and network. It is important to not do the hard sell, and blatantly self promote. We have some interesting workshops to come to help us all out 

Have fun, and enjoy learning about each other through photo sharing!!

http://www.galla15.etsy.com/ - Handmade Jewelry
http://www.galla15whatnots.etsy.com/ - Beading Supplies
http://www.artisansbooklounge.etsy.com/ - Craft Books and E-books for business

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Raw Deal On Heartsy - Find out the Inside Information

Heartsy is buzzing all over Etsy lately. A fairly new website that would maybe be comparable to groupon. They basically work with shop owners to offer amazing deals to their subscribers and traffic to small businesses like Etsy shops. As small business owners many of us are starving for traffic, and sales so when an opportunity presents itself with minimal investment we all want to jump but I am here to warn you to really think through what this will entail and if it will truly be a positive and beneficial experience. It seems like a MINIMAL investment because you pay NOTHING to be featured but think carefully about your deal!!

I pride myself in being business saavy. I have spent a lot of time researching and reading about every business topic you can imagine. One of the more important topics that should be thought through carefully is pricing before jumping into a site like Heartsy where huge discounts are involved. I have most of my items set for retail prices so that I can offer wholesale and cosignment. But I do not offer wholesale on my entire inventory and Heartsy does not offer coupons to specific groups of products (it is for your entire shop.) So unless your entire shop is priced at wholesale and you negotiate a low % for Heartsy you will not profit from using Heartsy.

Wholesale pricing means the person/business wanting to buy in bulk will expect 50% discount on the pricing. You make a lower profit but because they are buying so much product it is worth it. Heartsy is basically asking for wholesale OR MORE for individual sales. So it is a risky venture to take. Heartsy expects 50% off MINIMUM to be considered for a deal, and if you should only sell a handful of vouchers it probably wouldn't be worth it financially to do it.

If you want more information on how to price your items so that you ensure a profit, and you give yourself as many options as possible for selling check out this article:


Here is the catch: They offer a large discount but based upon a limited amount of money. For instance, they will offer $16 for $36 which is a discount of 56% percent on a purchase of 36 dollars. Most of my items that sell are 30 dollars and 3 dollar shipping. So in this example, I sold 33 dollars to most for 16. (The Heartsy vouchers include shipping.) So this is just a little over 50% off. So that really wouldn’t be as bad as it seems. The customer feels they are getting a steal, but keeping it close to wholesale pricing, IF you are priced correctly for wholesale… it can be great to gain new customers.

You need to consider when negotiating your deal not just the percentage but think about those dollar amounts. If most of your items are around 10 dollars and you offer 10 for 30, you will be selling 3 of your items likely for that 10 dollars. Ideally set up a deal that will leave each customer with a credit to your shop. Don’t forget it includes shipping costs, so in my example above most of the customers I had ended up with a 3 dollar credit to my shop. That isn’t a huge amount, probably could have been a higher credit to entice more…. But try to consider that…. to promote the customers to come back!

So if you have considered the finances of this arrangement, here are all the other pitfalls and experiences I had during my deal with Heartsy. (Since my deal over a week ago their deals have already changed. They now want 70% off of my items for VIP’s and 65% off for others. They require one deal for all users and then a special deal for their VIP’s that is a minimum of $10 dollars more for VIP’s!)

I submitted my shop the 1st time, got the 30 votes required and waited about 5 weeks to get denied!! I submitted a 2nd time, they then required 60 votes. I acquired the 60 votes, waited about 4 weeks and finally got a positive response. Once you receive the required # of votes, Heartsy then sends your deal out to their VIP members and best buyers to do more market research. If they don’t receive a more positive response from their frequent buyers they do still deny your deal even after receiving the required votes. I know many people that got their minimum votes waited over a month just to be denied!!

It was indicated to me that I had a “high quality” shop and an unusually positive response from their VIP’s and so they would love to work with me. This is what they asked me in the initial contact to me:

1. What are your goals for this promotion?

>>> How many new customers would you like to attract? This will help me
understand how to help you best structure your deal.

>>> 2. Given your statistics and products, you are a perfect candidate for our VIP exclusive program. VIP Exclusives are deals that can only be purchased by our paying VIP members. This community of paying members on Heartsy is growing each day and currently represents 25% of the purchases made on the site. With a VIP exclusive deal your store receives the same amazing visibility and attention on Heartsy as all other deals, but it is targeted to a specific cohort of extremely dedicated buyers.

>>> 3. What are your thoughts on the terms of your deal?
Heartsy requires at least a 50% discount but many sellers have been achieving amazing results with better discounts. For instance, the average deal on Heartsy is between 55-65% off. After looking at your store I would suggest a "$14 for $36 in store credit" deal.

  • I made it clear that my goal was to gain new customers, would love huge views for branding, and of course sales.
The initial offer to me was around 60% off and to be a VIP exclusive deal, which I replied that as a small business I am priced for the standard 50% wholesale rate but I really can’t go much higher. They came back to me with a 56% off offer. I really had to debate this heavily, and I said the only way I could do that high of a rate is if I could get a minimum of 50 sales but I would ideally want 100. I asked if this was a reasonable amount of sales or were my expectations to high, especially if this is ONLY for VIP’s. Their response wasn’t, “50 sales is reasonable”… but that it was very likely to get 100 sales. This conversation went back and forth for many days, I asked a lot of questions…

I asked about payments, and how the vouchers would be redeemed etc. and their response was this:

“Customers are typically given 1-3 months to redeem vouchers. They redeem on your site (our account managers will walk you through that).

> Payment works through Etsy (again, we will walk you through this aspect of the deal when it's time).”

I honestly don’t know who the account managers are, and never had a walkthrough. I was told I could call or they could call me the day the deal goes live to walk me through it but there wasn’t an official form or e-mail that would allow you to prep for this.

This could turn into a very long story but basically I thought I had a VIP only deal, I was told I could very likely get 100 sales, not just 50 sales but 100, so I agreed to VIP only if it meant 100 sales. Then the night before my deal went live I was told this, “The feature will be live for 48 hours (1 day for VIP early access and the second day for regular users). The VIP period starts at 12am PDT Friday morning and it will be available for all users on Saturday morning at 8am PDT. The feature will end on Saturday evening at 11:59pm.”

I thought this is great even MORE exposure if it opens up to everyone on Saturday. I posted this EXACT message to my blog and very excitedly I told the Heartsy staff that I had blogged about the event and promoted their VIP members. That if people wanted to make sure to get my deal they should sign up to be a VIP. She asked for a link to view my blog, she read it and replied back it was great.

I then blasted this to like 10 Etsy teams, facebook, twitter etc. I have almost 7000 twitter followers, over 600 facebook fan pages, probably a 1000 or more Etsy members on all the teams…. Basically I promoted their site and my deal to over 10,000 people!

Friday I get up and run to the computer and it is crickets. I go check the website the deal is up, but nothing is happening.

I was really upset, when I was told 100 sales were likely and I was told at one point that I could sell out and they wanted to know if they could extend my deal… but I tried to stay positive and wait for Saturday when ALL users could buy my vouchers!

Saturday I run to the computer and check for a flood of convos and sales, again crickets. I look at Heartsy and my deal is still VIP exclusive. It never turned over to all users! I immediately contacted the lady who told me it would go live Saturday morning to all, and she responded about an hour later… her response? That I originally signed up for VIP she was mistaken when she gave me that information she was sorry. If I wasn’t satisfied I could always submit a new deal.  By the way their live chat wasn't available during this time and I called the number she gave me for during my deal for help and no one answered or returned my call.  So I e-mailed and she responded an hour or so later with that non-chalant response.

Honestly, that is the worst customer service ever. I should submit a new deal and wait another month to have this issue resolved? I wrote her back asking if they could change my deal or offer a new deal that I was very unhappy. She wrote me back that they have SEVERAL hundred VIP members and so they had every reason to believe I would have 100 sales. And that they have a policy against changing a deal once it goes live. Although I am truly not happy with Heartsy as a whole, for the sake of being fair…. I understood the logic. If someone bought the VIP membership just to get my deal and then it goes live they would clearly be upset. But what I didn’t understand was why when this deal ended that they couldn’t offer my new deal. The exact deal we had agreed up, but open to ALL users.

If you have been in sales or marketing for any amount of time you have heard many times that sales is a numbers game. Statistics show you have to have your brand in front of a person 7 times before they will start to recognize your brand! So even if someone loved my deal it wouldn’t mean they will buy in that moment. So you have to get in front of as many people as you can, as often as you can. I have to ask: How on EARTH could I get 100 sales out of several hundred buyers? A couple is 2, several hundred is 3 or 4?? That would mean I would have at least a 3rd of people buying from me which is an UNREASONABLE expectations.

I truly feel mislead by the Heartsy staff, and used. I understand business, and if you help me I will help you. They were getting me in front of a new audience so I promoted their VIP program (how they make their money) to over 10,000 people!! And in the end it was pure confusion on the details of the deal, they definitely mislead me, and did NOT try to make it right. The last offer to fix this was they would extend my VIP exclusive deal through Sunday for a 3rd day. I can’t see how that will be beneficial at all, since the VIP’s have seen my deal now for 48 hours, that last 24 hours wasn’t going to really make a difference.

To top it all off, they are supposed to send out a newsletter to all their buyers/subscribers to tell them of the daily deals. The newsletter wasn’t received until 4pm the day of my deal, 8 hours into my deal!! I had a boatload of convo’s to field of people wanting my deal but couldn’t get it without signing up for a 7.99 a month fee to be a VIP. They were VERY upset with me, felt I had falsely advertised. They couldn’t get my deal for $16 dollars, they would actually have to spend almost 24 dollars, AND the 7.99 is a recurring monthly fee. So they weren’t actually getting a deal on my items. It was a nightmare for me personal and for my business. Ultimately I sold 19 vouchers, several of which were very good friends that were just trying to support me. THANK YOU 

Clearly I didn’t even get the low goal of 50 and definitely didn’t reach the 100 sales they said I could get. Eventually the person I dealt with told me they have close to 1000 VIP members, not several hundred. I don’t know what to believe since everything changes so often with them. And if you go to their site it states, first 100 VIP’s get 7.99 per month, after that the fee goes to 14.99. That statement would lead me to believe they definitely don’t have 1000 VIP’s.

I eventually got in touch with Heartsy staff to complain about my experience and they finally offered to give me a NEW deal without having to re-submit my shop. But they want 70% off now! And they want me to give vouchers for over 40 dollars worth of merchandise. They now require that you offer at least $10 dollars more to VIP’s and then all users get a deal too but it is for a minimum of 10 dollars less.

Meaning I would offer $19 for $44 to VIP’s… and $19 for $33 to everyone else. When I explained that I can’t offer more than wholesale pricing, I was “taught” about marketing. And told I need to think about what it is worth to me to have new customers! I was then told that big businesses spend millions on marketing because they know it will result in new customers!

And to that I want to warn you all to NOT fall for this logic. Big Businesses have a VERY different business model from a small business and for that matter small businesses clearly have a MUCH smaller advertising budget. AND that the millions spent are on well researched ideas, and psychology to ensure results. It is a very poor comparison to put a million dollar campaign against a discount website.

Businesses are about PROFIT, making money… not about taking a loss.

THE BOTTOMLINE: Do your research. This is a coupon/discount site, so their target market is frugal shoppers. Not meant in a negative way, just that these are people truly looking for a deal… what does that mean for you? They are not big spenders. I have looked at the current deals and past deal, then I go into those Etsy shops and go through their sold items. You can get a very good idea of their sales. Many have HUGE sales, like 100 items sold. (Of course they had deals open to all users too.) BUT the BIG thing I noticed is that they are mostly low priced items that have these huge sales.

These shoppers are not spending large sums of money. They are taking the deals that are around $10 dollars or less for vouchers. Some of the shops that are bath and body had HUGE sales but for 10 or 12 dollars you can get 1-3 items so the sales look big but they aren’t spending much money. And for me personally out of my 19 vouchers sold NONE bought over the voucher amount. 2-3 owed me a dollar or two for the shipping cost, but no one bought over the 36 dollar voucher amount of merchandise!! NO ONE.

So basically 19 people spent 16 dollars. That was it, not a single one spent more actually all but like 3 have a 2-3 dollar store credit with me now! I know quite a few people that had Heartsy deals and they said many of their buyers spent over the voucher amounts, I can’t speak for them… but from my experience they did not.

And as you can tell it was not a smooth transaction.

Make sure you are pricing retail before offering discounts like this, and if you have higher priced items it is more unlikely to have a huge surge of sales.

Sellers beware :(

I hope this helps put some of the inner workings from Heartsy in perspective. 
http://www.galla15whatnots.etsy.com/ - beading supplies
http://www.artisansbooklounge.etsy.com/ - Crafting and Business books/ebooks

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Heartsy Feature 5/14 Saturday!!!

It is OFFICIAL.  I got my votes on http://www.heartsy.me/ then we negotiated and came to an agreement.

NOW I have the date for the feature!

The feature will be live for 48 hours (1 day for VIP early access and the second day for regular users). The VIP period starts at 12am PDT Friday morning and it will be available for all users on Saturday morning at 8am PDT. The feature will end on Saturday evening at 11:59pm. 

So this is a ONE time thing, for an extreme deal on my jewelry shop.  If you haven't tried my shop before this is a low risk way to give http://www.galla15.etsy.com/ a try! 

We think you will love your order with us, and hope to be able to do business with you this weekend!

Just go here to find my deal on Saturday, it will be out there for 48 hours, including the VIP time.

If you want a larger discount, or to be able to buy the deals early before they go live you can look into the VIP option that Heartsy offers.  You get exclusive discounts and deals for a low monthly VIP membership fee!

Hope you guys will help support this event, please spread the word via Twitter, stumbleupon, facebook etc.

Thanks everyone for your support.
http://www.artisansbooklounge.etsy.com/ - Crafting Books and Ebooks

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Promotional Frenzy Team Newsletter!

We are moving up in the technology world!  Our Promotional Frenzy Team on etsy is growing fast!  We have close to 200 members now, and about 40 more waiting to be accepted.  The limits of Etsy's team format make it extremely hard to keep everyone in the loop.

We all have vacations, and long work hours and things that make it hard for us to read 100 pages a day to know everything.  We do try to highlight the important things at the top of each daily thread, but still if someone isn't around for a few days they even miss those. 

So how can we all stay informed??
Well I started a team newsletter!  This will now be a REQUIREMENT to be on the team.  The newsletter will be sent anytime we have changes, or upcoming events happening.  For instance, we decided to have everyone add their shop items to the Promo Frenzy shop favorites.... we would send a newsletter to your e-mail address letting you know exactly how to do this, why we are doing it, and how long you have to get it done.

It will make it so much easier.  Of course this doesn't mean you shouldn't come to the daily threads and support each other... interact and be positive, supportive teammates.  But it will limit confusion and greatly help with time constraints!

To sign up go here:

We will not be giving this list out to anyone, it is not for personal agendas and sales and such.  Strictly for being able to disseminate information efficiently and to have less confusion.

Also, on a very exciting 2nd note.  I have also created a team newsletter for people to sign up to be notified of our team BNR's... or if we have other special events in the future.
This way we don't have to convo people via the Etsy system.  For now we still may need to do some convo's until our subscribers list grows.

Put this link on your blog, your facebook, tweet it, share it via convo to your friends.. help spread the word that will will deliver in their inbox our upcoming events!

We should also repost this information for our BNR newsletter during our BNR's and throughout our daily threads!

I hope you guys are excited about this feature, it should improve our results, and minimize our efforts.

Handmade Crystal, button and Pearl Jewelry
Jewelry Beading Supplies
Crafting Books & Ebooks