Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's Important

This will be my last blog post for a few days. Something's come up that needs my attention and I'm pretty sure I will be on the speechless side for the better part of the week.

You may recall that I recently mentioned visiting my beloved Aunt and Uncle. This Aunt is my Dad's sister and she has always been very special to me, and even more so since my dad passed away suddenly 5 years ago. My home situation was pretty crazy growing up--addiction, divorce, financial struggles...We weren't exactly the Waltons (does anybody even know who the Waltons are anymore?). In the midst of it all there was I place I could go that was like heaven to me, and that was my Aunt's house. And when my grandmother died, this same Aunt became the mother of our extended family and all gatherings, celebrations and sorrows were shared at her home. She is just awesome.

Easter, 1970'ish
My Aunt in the center with me in front and her husband behind her in the red jacket,
my mom and grandmother to the left of my uncle, and my grandfather to his right.
My four favorite cousins fill out the bunch.

Not long ago her husband's heart problems became acute and we thought he was lost, but thanks to modern medicine he received this amazing little pump that doctors surgically implanted in him that does the work that his heart is no longer capable of. This device is usually used to keep patients alive who are waiting for a heart transplant, but at 78 my uncle is no longer a transplant candidate. We must satisfy ourselves with the extra year or two that this pump is expected to give him.

Unfortunately I received a call last week from my Aunt telling me that her husband of almost 60 years had a stroke on the way to visit his cardiologist in Boston. Since that initial stroke he's had at least two more and there is no way for doctors to stop the clotting that will soon end his time here with us. Their sons have been there as much as possible, but right now my Aunt is alone and awaiting the inevitable. This is not acceptable to me, so tomorrow I will pack up and head north and east to sit by her side, and my uncle's, for a few days. My focus will be them and their needs, so I'm pressing the pause button on this blog for a bit.

Because people are important. And although death is an inevitable part of life, facing it alone should not be.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Final Search Ads Results, and What a Good Husband Looks Like

My week is up and my budget is spent. My participation in, and experiment with, Etsy Search Ads has come to an end. I find it ironic that the $5 budget I established lasted exactly the one week I signed up for...Here are the final numbers:
  • Money Spent                                                       $5.06
  • Impression                                                           5,125
  • Views                                                                       28
  • Favorites                                                                    1
  • Orders                                                                       0
  • Revenue                                                                     0
Another relevant fact that I think is worth mentioning: the search phrase that generated the second highest number of impressions at 904 was "gift bags". That phrase only generated four views. I'm not sure what to think about that. It's the most relevant term in my list of search phrases. Does it mean that people aren't interested in the type of gift bag I make? Am I over priced? Given what goes into making the bags, there's no way I'm dropping my price, so what should I take away from this experience? So come on Etsians! Give me some input here...Checkout my GiftAgainGiftBags shop and let me know what you think! Pretty please? If you'd like, I'll return the favor!

Yesterday I told you that we were going to get the ground in our backyard ready for a garden next spring. Not long after I posted that the sun came out (well, kind of) and revealed that the weather man was right: it was going to be a washout. So when Kyle got up (that's my hubs) I told him he should probably call and cancel the rototiller we were renting at noon. After only half a cup of coffee I heard him on the phone with the local hardware store we were renting from, but rather than cancelling he asked if he could come pick it up right away so he could be done before the "real rain" hit. That was at about 7:30 a.m. Before he even finished his coffee (can you tell coffee's a big deal around here?) he was off for the pickup, and before he even got back the rain started in earnest. Was he deterred? No way!
Here's what a good husband looks like

He worked through the rain, got it all thoroughly tilled, and returned the rental all before 11:00. Once he got cleaned up (what a muddy mess!) we headed out to run a few errands, one of which included a stop at Michael's (my pick, not his--but then you probably guessed that). Because it was still raining he went out to get the van while I was at the checkout so I didn't have to slog through it. What a nice guy, huh? But that's not even the best part...When I walked out the door of Michael's I was shocked to see an older woman lying on the sidewalk in front of me and Kyle in the process of crouching down to tend to her. It seems she had tripped while stepping up onto the curb and landed flat on her face. There was blood flowing freely from her nose and a huge bump on her forehead. We called 911 and while we waited for the ambulance he knelt there by her side, in the rain, talking to her and keeping her calm for 15-20 minutes. Employees had come out of Michael's to help, so he could have left her in their care, but he stayed. It wasn't until she was safely in the ambulance that we left and went to get the fencing and posts that he then went home and put up, again in the rain.

My garden (notice the sun is shining today...)

So there you have it. What a good husband looks like (well, to me). How about you? What's a good spouse or partner look like to you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Etsy Search Ads Experiment, Day 6

Man! That alarm went off way too early this morning. I was so tempted to just crawl back into bed and doze a little more, but then I remembered last Thursday when I woke up as my son's bus was rolling by without him in it...So up I am.

I decided to take the day off from posting my Search Ads results yesterday to do my now-regular Treasury Tuesday. I love taking the opportunity to feature some of the other talented artisans on etsy and didn't want to skip a week. I have to say that as dismal as Sunday's results were (posted on Monday), Monday's were much better in terms of both impressions and views. Yesterday was my slowest day since opening, so the change you see in the numbers below is largely from Monday.
  • Money Spent                                                    $4.29
  • Impressions                                                      4,373
  • Views                                                                    25
  • Favorites                                                                 1
  • Orders                                                                    0
  • Revenue                                                                  0
As you can see, still no orders generated from Search Ads.

On the lighter side: big excitement at my house today! Hubby has the day off before descending into the pit of 12 hour night shifts for 4-5 weeks, and we are celebrating by renting a roto-tiller and chopping up a chunk of our backyard in preparation for next year's expanded vegetable garden. Why do it now, you ask? I want to till a bunch of good soil-enriching compost into it and give it the winter to rot and fester :). Doesn't that sound delightful?

Btw, have you seen the new wine & spirit gift bags I now have available in my etsy shop? I think they're looking pretty good!

Make today a great one!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Etsy Search Ads Experiment, Day 4 and the Joy of School Pictures

Happy Monday! It's a gray one here, but that should help me focus on my fabric and sewing machine rather than being tempted back out into the glorious fall weather like yesterday...It's Monday, and it's back-to-work time!

I'm thinking the weather was fabulous everywhere yesterday, because when I look at my Search Ads stats the increase over Saturday is pathetic!
  • Money Spent                                                        $2.86
  • Impressions                                                          2,897
  • Views                                                                       11
  • Favorites                                                                    1
  • Orders                                                                       0
  • Revenue                                                                     0
It's rather disheartening to look at the graph that goes along with these Search Ads stats and see the line plummeting toward nothing. If that line were a heart monitor I'd be asking to have life support discontinued!

Even though it's only day four of seven, I've already reached the same conclusion as everybody else I've heard from about this ad campaign: it doesn't work. So the question I'm always asking myself comes to the forefront for me: What Next? This week's answer: Hit the Pavement! I'm fortunate to live in a cute, historic little town with lots of privately owned shops on our cozy little main street, and this week I intend to knock on some doors and see who would like to feature my gift bags. I will also be launching my line of customizable wine & spirit gift bags and taking them to local wineries to drum up interest.

So, what will you do to market your shop this week?

As always, I can't bear to end my post on such a serious note...About 10 minutes before the bus was due to arrive  we realized that today is school picture day for Brett. I ran to furiously fill out the form & write a check, and then it was time for my major challenge: his hair. My son is blessed with a full head of thick hair (well, for now--my dad was bald by the time he was 20) that features these two incorrigible cowlicks that collide right at the crown. I tried everything to plaster them down this morning! Water + gel + furious brushing and combing. Finally we had to declare it good enough so he didn't miss the bus. It was far from perfect, but I can't help but think that someday we'll look at that picture and have a good laugh!

And here's a little something that will maybe give you a good laugh--one of my school pictures. Let's just say it was the 70s...
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Shagadelic", doesn't it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Etsy Search Ads Experiment Results, Day 3

Here we are again! I'm on Day 3 of my Search Ads experiment and can't even begin to tell you how underwhelmed I am at the results. Here are the numbers:
  • Money spent                                                          $2.26
  • Impressions                                                            2,265
  • Views                                                                         10
  • Favorites                                                                       1
  • Orders                                                                          0
  • Revenue                                                                        0
I actually had someone favorite a gift bag through this campain, but as you can see, still no revenue. What I'm seeing here is that people are in fact searching on my tags, but they aren't viewing much and they certainly aren't buying. A question that arises for me is what percentage of the people doing the searches are actually legitimate buyers? I do a lot searches when making treasuries, but I'm not necessarily looking to buy at that time.

Question for my readers: what types of outside (of etsy) advertising have you used and how effective has it been? Have any of you tried Google AdWords?

Ok. Enough with the mercenary stuff. I have a few tasks I need to complete today and am determined to be focused and organized and actually get them done. First and foremost, some time ago I committed to write a post for the EBT Blog. In the craziness of opening the new shop--and life and general--I have allowed this task to fall between the cracks. At the beginning of the week I had an idea that I thought would help get me motivated, and that was to invite someone from the Blog Team to collaborate with me on the article. She agreed and has now submitted her portion to me, so it's time to ante up here. (And thanks to my coauthor for stepping up and helping me :)

So here's a reminder to my coauthor Kristen (you should check out her blog!) who I recently told needs a to-do-list intervention, and to all the rest of us overachievers, that load shared is a load halved.

Peace out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Etsy Search Ads Experiment Results, Day 2

Good Saturday morning! Looking out my window I see blue skies and the willow in my front yard swaying in the breeze. That same window is open just a bit and I can feel a cool, crisp breeze on my legs that lets me know that fall has indeed returned to South Jersey. YIPPEE!!!

Now that I've dispensed with the weather report, on to more serious things...the numbers. If you're just joining me, I am doing an experiment by participating in the Etsy Search Ads campaign and reporting my results here. You can read my posts of October 13 & 14 to get caught up.

So here we go...Results as of about 8:00 this morning:
  • Money spent                                                                     $1.45
  • Impressions                                                                       1,445
  • Views                                                                                      8
  • Favorites                                                                                  0
  • Orders                                                                                     0
  • Revenue                                                                                   0
That's a lot of zeroes in the categories that count :(. Still, I'm only out $1.45, which is a lot less that it costs to by a $7 showcase spot. Maybe Fridays are slow...Let's see how today goes.

Like yesterday I can't bear to be all numbersy on you and leave you with nothing fun or inspiring, so here's a picture of something I hung in my kitchen yesterday. It reflects my idea of a harmonious home.

Enjoy today like it's your last! Carpe diem!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Etsy Search Ads Day 1 Results

As promised yesterday I am here to tell all after day 1 of my Etsy Search Ads experience, so without further ado here are the hard, cold (brrrrrrrrrr!!!) numbers:
  • Dollars Spent                                                                    .75
  • Impressions                                                                     775
  • Views                                                                                 5
  • Favorites                                                                             0
  • Orders                                                                                0
  • Revenue                                                                              0
The upside here is that I've only spent 75 cents, obviously. But out of the 775 people that searched on the phrases that I listed yesterday, only 5 even clicked on one of my items to take a closer look.

If you read my blog regularly you'll know that numbers aren't my thing, so I feel really bad about having such a numbers-based blog. If it weren't information that I think my fellow Etsians could benefit from, I wouldn't do this to myself (or you, gentle reader). So to make up for it, here's a fun and lighthearted item from another Etsy shop that I just love:

Who doesn't need one of these?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

And I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For!

Don't you just love U2? They have got to be one of the best bands to have weathered all of the shifts and changes over the decades in the music industry, and they remain true to who they are. They have come out with some kickin' music over the years, and I for one really appreciate the universality of their sound. I can actually put them on in the car without groans and eye rolling from my teens. As a matter of fact, they have U2 on their iPods and sing right along with Bono and me.

But this post isn't really about music. That famous line from the old U2 song just popped into my head while I was thinking about this post. What I really want to sound off about today is Etsy and some of the changes that have occurred there.

For the record, I don't generally like to read posts with complaints and consequently you will rarely see me write one, but today I am willing to make an exception. I promise, no swearing though.

As those of you who are Etsy sellers know, a few months ago the site changed the way search results are returned and went from recency being the top search factor, to relevancy taking it's place as the number one criteria. When this change occurred there was A LOT of complaining on the discussion threads and a lot people were pretty ticked off. I, for one, hadn't had my shop open for long, and it didn't bother me all that much as it was easy to make the paradigm shift. I figured it would actually benefit me as a new seller with finely honed descriptions and tags. Part of the reason I assumed that is that's what I was told by the powers that be at Etsy (well, not me personally, but all of us Etsians).

Then one day I performed a search on the term gift bags and also one on the term fabric gift bags. It took me over 10 pages of results to find just one of my items. Hmmmmmmmmmm...

Fast forward a few weeks and in my inbox appears an email entitled Etsy Surprise. Of course I had to check it out! I LOVE surprises! I clicked on the link and was asked to put my name on a list of people who wanted to be notified when Etsy made their big announcement about a fantastic new program they were launching soon that would be sure to have my products flying off the shelves. Of course, I signed up!

When the time came for the announcement we sellers learned that we could now buy a new type of advertising called Etsy Search Ads. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it is similar to Google's Adwords--you pay to have your item or store show up at or near the top of a search list. Are you following me here? Etsy now wants sellers to pay for exposure in their new relevancy search. And again I say, hmmmm....

So this week I'm trying an experiment. I have set a budget of $5 for the week and am tracking my stats (they separate out hits from searches from other searches--like bns, etc.). I have specified the following search words: gift bag, gift wrap, Christmas gift, Christmas, Christmas fabric, Christmas tree, poinsettia, pine cone, cosmetic bag, hostess gift, toile, gift card. Here's a link to my GiftAgainGiftBags shop so you can judge for yourself how well my search words fit. Each day for the week I'm participating in the Search Ads campaign I will check in and report how things are going with real numbers: how much I've spent, how many impressions (how many people saw me in a search), how many views were generated, how many favorites were generated, how many orders were placed, and how much revenue I've earned.

So stay tuned Etsians! And if you've tried Search Ads or have an opinion on the concept please leave a comment below!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And the Winner Is...

I'm feeling a bit under the weather (and if you could see my weather right now you know that's not good) and it's leaving me a bit uninspired and lacking in the word department. The good news: if you only have a minute, that's all it will take to read today's blog :).

Remember that little give-away I had last week? Well, we have a winner! And the winner is...

Kristen of ByTheBookPaper! Congratulations Kristen! I hope you enjoy your new GiftAgain Bag!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Happy Place At Last

It's been a few days since I've had the opportunity to sit down and blog. Actually, it's been a few days since I've had a chance to sit down, when I think about it!

Thursday was preparation for leaving town (including some furious sewing to get new bags up on GiftAgain, and packing), picking mom uo at the airport in Philly, and then driving about 6 hours (thanks to the legendary New Jersey traffic).

Friday was a foray into Home Depot to continue the upgrades to the house my parents' still own in the Berkshires, and which we are fortunate enough to use as a retreat whenever time allows, followed by a quick stop at Panera for free wifi and sustenance (I was horrified to discover that the wifi at the house wasn't working when we arrived), and a four-hour visit to beautiful Williams College (which I seriously hope my daughter will choose to attend), more Panera wifi, a quick dinner at the house and then on to Chatham to meet up with one of my dearest old friends for a fun-filled girls' night out.

I have to pause here to say that for about 25 years after graduating from my small-town high school I worked pretty hard at being elsewhere as much as possible. Like many people, my high school years weren't my favorite and I spent my teens anxiously awaiting that time when I could disappear into a large university, and then city, where I could become miraculously anonymous and virtually disappear. So it seems pretty amusing to me that that same little town and the people in it have become precious and irresistible to me now. It was a really fun night and great to see faces that I hadn't seen in decades in some cases.

Anyway, on to Saturday and no rest for the weary! I started the day with a visit with beloved my Aunt and Uncle digging through some seriously old family photos and scanning them into my little PanDigital scanner to take home and turn into a book. Then it was off to get food and libations, and then prepare the house and patio for a cocktail party my mom and I were throwing that evening. And what a great party it was! More laughs with old friends I hadn't seen the night before that lasted 'til 1:00a.m.

Does this sounds as hectic and exhausting as I'm now discovering it was? How can so much fun be so tiring? It's not like I was working! But today I find that my voice is about gone and despite sleeping until 9:00 I am sorely tempted to curl up for a nap. I am so glad that I made a promise to myself before embarking on this weekend that no matter how tempting the offer I would make no plans on Sunday that took me away from the house. So here I am in what may be my favorite place in the entire world--the wicker rocking chair on the front porch. And when I look up from my book, this is what is see:
My happy place

Don't you wish you could join me?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Power to Inspire

Does your morning have a routine? My weekdays certainly do! And watching Good Morning America as I get Brett ready to head out to the school bus is almost always a part of it. This morning however, I almost skipped it. Things have been super busy with the new shop and I actually got up extra-early (5:30) to try to get ahead of things since I'm leaving town for the long weekend this afternoon. But man, am I glad I watched! So glad that I was inspired to grab my iPad (thanks Mr. Jobs) and scrap the blog I had planned for today to write this instead.

I'm pretty sure you won't be able to encounter any media today without hearing about Steve Jobs' passing. I'm also pretty sure it's virtually impossible to avoid encountering some form of media in this day and age (unless of course you're Amish, in which case you're not reading this blog). The tribute to Jobs on GMA lasted at least 15 minutes, and for once not one thing was shown or said that made me cringe when 11 year old Brett was exposed to it. How awesome to send my bright little son out the door with Jobs' story ringing in his ears and resonating in his heart. How I want to encourage my children to be visionaries...follow their what they true to themselves...and benefit others along the way... And this morning I feel like I had a village to help me do just that .

Jobs' life and passing bring to mind Randy Pausch's amazing little book The Last Lecture. In it, Pausch writes about his life and how he embraces living while knowing that he's dying of dreaded pancreatic cancer. His refusal to "go quietly into that good night", his determination to really truly live right up to the end, and even his disease, parallel Jobs in so many ways. If you haven't read it, you definitely should! I think it should be required reading in every high school English class!

So today, dare to live. Really live. Live like it counts. Because how you spend your day is how you spend your life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Was I Thinking?!

OUCH! That's what I'm thinking with every move today...As I faced the prospect of getting back into my jeans for this delightfully crisp fall weather, I also faced the reality that I either had to start being a little more respectful of my body or go buy all new pants in the next size up (again!). New pants are not in the budget, and as I begin the slide down the backside of my 40s it occurs to me I'd like to be fit and healthy when I face that next big birthday with a zero at the end.

And so begins the next chapter in the saga of Nancy's battle to get in shape/lose weight...I've tried many things with varying degree of success and failure and have enough experience at this to know that food and I just like eachother too much to try some crazy deprivation diet. Cutting back on a few things here and there (like the cookies and ice cream at 10:00 p.m.), if paired with a sensible excercise program and some patience, will gradually do the trick. I'm not exactly known for being the most sensible person on the planet and patience isn't one of those words that pops into the minds of those who love me when my name is mentioned, but I'm getting smarter with age and have decided to draw on the wisdom and experience of those around me (rather than commercials on tv).

The scene of the crime...Who can resist being a
"chair" potato with company like that?

Something seems to keep coming up as I lurk aroud my virtual communities of facebook and the blogosphere, and that something has a name that I found intriguing: Couch to 5K. It caught my interest when I saw it pop up on a few different blogs, but these could be fit and active people writing this stuff so I wasn't sure it would be for me. It wasn't until one of my facebook friends from high school 'fessed up to being in the midst of C25K that I really sat up and took notice. What I do know about this guy is that 1) he's got a bigger belly than me, and 2) he's probably been at least as sedentary as me lately. Now I'm not naming names here, but if you went to high school with me, came after me alphabetically, and have considerably less hair now then YES, I'm talking about you :). And one more thing I fogot to mention--this guy has always been a little on the competitive side...So I decided that if he can do it, I can too. (Thanks for the boost, old friend.)

But today...I'm so sore I can barely move! I did get back on the treadmill this morning though, and will tomorrow as well. No cookies or ice cream have passed these lips in at least 48 hours and I'm not dead yet, so things are looking favorable.

On another note: I only have a couple of entries in my GIVEAWAY so far...Stop by my new GiftAgainGiftBag shop and see how fast these little bags are flying off the virtual shelves! Sign up now, or you might miss out! Remember, all you have to do is become a follower of my blog (if you're not already) and leave a comment below.

And come back on Wednesday for Treasury Tuesday! (I think my blood sugar just dropped)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Big News & a GIVEAWAY!

Something other than Eight O'Clock Columbian Blend coffee has been brewing at ScrappyTudeStudios, and it starts with the redesign of my blog (you might have noticed things look a little different around here....). Through my favorite website (Etsy, of course!) I found a terrific graphic designer (Kelly Sorenson) who has been working tirelessly for me creating the look I wanted but didn't know how to make myself. My favorite saying of Kelly's is, "Give me a few minutes and I'll right some code for that". A few minutes? Yup! She's creative AND writes code! Who knew that was even possible?

Even bigger than the blog redesign: today marks the Grand Opening of my second shop! It's called GiftAgainGiftBags and will exclusively feature my popular handmade fabric gift bags. Take a minute to check it out and see the great banner that Kelly designed for me. Of course, ScrappyTudeStudios will still be alive and kicking and will be the home for my quilts and other bags that I feel inspired to create.

And now it's time for the best part: THE GIVEAWAY to celebrate my Grand Opening!!! To be entered in the giveaway you must do two things: 1) become a follower of this blog (see the sidebar), and 2) leave a comment below. That's all! Pretty simple, right? And what will you be eligible to win, you might ask....
Gray and White Paisley GiftAgain Fabric Gift Bag
and Lunch Sack

I'll be accepting entries all week, so tell your friends to stop by before midnight Sunday! If you already follow my blog, just leave a comment below to let me know how much you'd like to win this lovely little bag :).