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Grow Your Business With Pinterest (3) – Search Engines Love Pinterest

SEO & Pinterest Love

This is a guest post by Caylie Price. Part 1 of this 4-part series on Pinterest for Business is here. Part 2 is here.

How did you go? Have you converted to a business account and verified?

By now you should have your account sorted and plenty of awesome images ready to be or already pinned. Fantastic!

What if I told you with a tiny bit more effort your pins could be doing double duties? You could be driving new readers to your blog or shop from within Pinterest as well as through the search engines. Sounds brilliant right?

Well let’s explore how to make it happen.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) relates to creating an online presence in a manner that is favourable to search engines such as Google, YouTube and Bing to encourage greater visibility of your content in search results.

SEO is influenced by factors such as:

  • Content
  • Keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Images
  • Social Media
  • Plugins

Seems a pretty long list, yes? Don’t take fright. You are probably already employing SEO to an extent without even realising it and this post will take you through exactly how Pinterest can help with SEO! The crystal ball tells me you’ll be super confident by the end of this post.

If you’d like to get a better general understanding of these terms have a look at Super Simple SEO For Small Business.

Pinterest Hearts SEO

Search engines love Pinterest which is fantastic news for your SEO efforts. Pinterest helps with keywords, backlinks, images and content in addition to being a social media platform (of course).

Let’s look at each element!

PS I Love You

Pinterest And Backlinks

Backlinks are links coming from another website that direct traffic to your web pages. Pinterest is recognised by search engines as a quality site meaning they put value on Pinterest links leading to your site.

The first step to creating a backlink from Pinterest is to verify your site which you learned about in the previous Grow Your Business With Pinterest.

You can also create backlinks by nominating a link when you pin or upload your own images as explained in Get Your Images Right.

Don’t alter the link if you are pinning someone else’s image. You definitely don’t want to impinge copyright and have the Pinterest police after you. What you can do is add a USEFUL comment to the image and include a RELEVANT link to further information.

Pinterest And Keywords

The beauty of Pinterest is that every pin, board name and bio is an opportunity to use keywords to improve search engine optimisation.

Keywords are the words or phrases you want the search engines to associate with your business. You should also aim to choose words that your target audience would use to find your content. You can try a tool such as Google Adwords Keyword Tool as well as ask your readers for suggestions.

Once you’ve selected your keywords include them in your biography as well as the description for each of your pins in a ‘natural’ manner. A natural manner means including keywords as if part of normal HUMAN speech or writing. Don’t force keyword use!

Pinterest And Images

This strategy requires a little work to prepare your image for pinning by readers or yourself. When you are creating images for your blog or to upload directly to Pinterest think about how you name the file.

You have the opportunity to include keywords that will be seen by search engines but not so much pinners. The more that image is re-pinned, liked or commented on the better the search engine love it will enjoy.

Pinterest And Content

To keep your website high in search results it needs to be kept fresh. Google and its peers love fresh content especially from social sharing. The beauty of creative images and building your profile on Pinterest is that you have the potential for an item of your work to go viral.

Creating content that generates conversation or re-pins is an effective method for improving your SEO. Ask a question in the description of your images that followers can’t help but answer. Host a contest with incentives for followers to like or re-pin your images. Make it easy for readers to pin images from your blog. Make it easy for people to help you.

Take Action

You’ve got some homework but I want you to use a slow and steady approach.

Start by working out what keywords you plan to target. Really think about the words your audience would use to search for your products (these keywords may be different to what you would use).

Got that sorted?

Now begin including keywords in the file name of your images. Practice this until it becomes a habit. You’ve now created a strong foundation for SEO.

Keep working through the strategies about until they are second nature. Do this and you’ll really reap the benefits of Pinterest search engine optimisation.

The next Grow Your Business With Pinterest post will focus on measuring the return on investment and refinement of your pinning efforts.

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Caylie Headshot

Caylie Price is the founder of Better Business Better Life.

A social strategist, copywriter, SEO consultant and all round great chick, Caylie helps you blast your business to success so you can live the life you want.

Sign up now to be first to know when she releases her new Pinterest For Business ebook!

 

C&T Q&A – Can You Have a Successful Handmade Business Without Etsy?

can you have a successful handmade business without etsy

This week, Kate asks:

Do you think it’s possible to create a successful business without using Etsy? I used to sell jewelry on there and after 3 years my account was suspended for violating the etsy policies.  I didn’t realize it and after pleading with the admins, I realized they weren’t going to let me come back. I’m on Big Cartel and sales are slow.  I’m just not sure if realistically, it will ever amount to a successful business without Etsy. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

First of all, I’m sorry to hear about your issues with Etsy, Kate, that must have been a rude shock. I’m glad to hear it hasn’t stopped you pursuing your business, though!

Honestly, I’m the first to suggest that everyone who has a crafts-based business should have a shop on Etsy.

I still make a good portion of sales there, and it’s where I find a lot of new customers.

Etsy is definitely still the premier online marketplace for handmade – and not only that, it’s also a handmade search engine. I know that Etsy is my first port of call when I want to buy handmade. Both of these reasons are why I will never shut my Etsy shop – no matter how successful my own site becomes (Epheriell.com already accounts for well over half of my total online sales).

However – as useful and awesome as Etsy is for growing and running your business – I also believe that anyone serious about their handmade business should set up their own shop on their own website.

If you’re doing all the hard work to market your business and grow a customer base, you should be sending that traffic to your own website.

Now – there are of course other marketplaces out there online, and if you make reproducible products (you are doing that, aren’t you??) you should set yourself up on as many of these as you can feasibly manage. If only with a small sample of your core range. I see these sites as marketing – getting my work out in front of as many people in as many places as possible, at low cost.

Personally, I have my jewellery on Madeit and Blue Caravan here in Australia, as well as Supermarket HQ, Dawanda, and a few other places overseas. I make a nice number of sales across these marketplaces, but Etsy and Epheriell.com are my main shops, where I stock all of my work.

If you can’t sell on Etsy, for whatever reason, you should seriously consider setting up your own site, rather then relying primarily on another venue.

So, what are the costs vs benefits?

 

Etsy

Pros

  • Premier online marketplace
  • First port of call for many people wanting to buy handmade
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent ‘training’ ground – to compete on Etsy you have to play a stellar game with fantastic photos, good descriptions, excellent customer service, etc
  • Trust – people know that if they buy on Etsy they are protected if something goes wrong
  • Transparent feedback – do a good job and people will see that and buy from you

Cons

  • Fees – you pay listing fees, relisting fees, a percentage of every sale (and this is on top of the Paypal fees you pay)
  • Not as professional – anyone can sell on Etsy
  • Lack of control – like Kate, they could shut you down anytime they like, and all the work you’ve done will be extinguished
  • Distraction – people are likely to favourite you and forget and move on and try to find the best deal within Etsy, rather than sticking in your shop

 

Your Site

Pros

  • Control, control, control – you can do exactly what you like, make it look how you like, and no-one can take it away from you! It’s your baby.
  • Professionalism – having your own site shows you’re a serious business
  • Focus – once people are on your site, they won’t be tempted to click away to all the myriad other options available like they can on Etsy

Cons

  • You don’t have access to an immediate customer base – you have to do the hard work to bring people to you
  • People may be hesitant to make their first purchase from you if they don’t already know and trust you (many of my website customers found me on Etsy or elsewhere first, and after their first positive buying experience with me, now happily shop on Epheriell.com)
  • Might be expensive if you don’t have the knowledge to set it up yourself

 

Obviously, my recommendation is to have both – an Etsy shop and your own site (and any other venues you can manage). Having a shop on Etsy makes building your business a lot easier, especially in the beginning. You’ll find that you reach a kind of critical mass there, too – the more sales you’ve made, the more you’ll make as you are established as a serious seller.

However, you can have a successful handmade business without Etsy. It will just take you a little longer to grow your customer base. But if you’re patient, work hard, market smart, and have a stellar website and webstore, you CAN do it.

 

Want to take your Etsy shop to the next level, or set up shop on your own site for the first time? Join the email list to find out when I launch my upcoming ecourse, Set Up Shop.

Success Stories: Myra of Twigs and Honey

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Myra of Twigs and Honey (photo by Elizabeth Messina)

I’ve had a crush on Twigs and Honey for years now.  Whenever I’m in need of a mental break, or just a little pick-me-up, I head to this Etsy shop to soak in the gorgeous photographs.  Myra, the force behind the wedding accessories company, is not only an amazingly successful woman but a very generous one too because she agreed to share the story of how she went from a research analyst for forecasting to Etsy star.  Get out your notepads because she gives out a lot of advice in her interview.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I started the business as a hobby after planning my wedding to my husband, Matt, back in 2007.  What started as a creative outlet to offset my government research job, has evolved into my full-time occupation. I had always been an anxious, busybody while I was growing up, taking up many artistic hobbies from sewing to painting to clay figurines. I loved to make tangible art but didn’t know how it could sustain the livelihood I envisioned so I got degrees in science and set off to save the environment.

When I became woefully unsatisfied, my creative interests really saved me and for the past 5 years, I really haven’t looked back. From modest beginnings as a little adornments shop on Etsy, I’ve grown the company into a full-fledged brand not limited to accessories but also including a how-to book, fragrance, cover-ups and bridal gowns. I have bigger goals for the future and additional lines in the works, so the creative career path continues and I just have to say that I’m thrilled to be doing what I love.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

One of the biggest challenges has been to stay one step ahead. I feel like when I started, there were very few that did exactly what I was doing. Etsy was relatively new and we were about to head into a handmade revival. Since then, I feel like there has been an endless stream of copycats and competition.  Everyone and their second cousin seems to make hair accessories now.

Staying ahead of the curve by setting myself apart through innovative designs, identifiable branding and pushing myself each season to top myself from the last have been the constant challenges to overcome. I try to overcome the challenges by reminding myself to stay the course and look forward.

Throughout the years, I’ve focused on remaining true to my beliefs and morals (i.e. don’t cheat, “steal”, or take advantage of others), not taking shortcuts and working hard overall. It doesn’t get easier so when things get tough, you have to work harder and wiser.

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Bridal Bird Cage (photo by Elizabeth Messina)

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

One of my biggest ‘fist-pump’ moments is actually a bit of a secret! It’s really under wraps but involves television. Have I got you excited?

Less cryptic, I’ve been really proud of having the opportunity to write a book, Adornments, and have my dear friend, Elizabeth Messina, photograph it.

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

I try to make good decisions so as to minimize doubt. I already worry enough, so by focusing on making the smartest business decisions, I don’t have too much in the way of doubts for my future creative direction.

There are some additional lines I’ve already designed that I’ve had to put on the backburner due to time constraints but, hopefully, I’ll be able to revisit those in the coming years.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

For some reason, I have the exact opposite. It probably sounds crazy, but I can’t turn it off – that is, the constant creative drive. It’s a problem! I’m continually thinking of new designs and am perpetually inspired by the world around me. I eat, sleep and think about designing. Like I said above, I’m an anxious person and always have been.

Doesn’t it seem like some of the greatest talents in the world (art, music, writing, etc.) seem a little bonkers? Call it OCD or an addictive personality, but since I was young, anything I did, I had to be obsessive about it. I don’t just do things. I have to master whatever it is I’m doing and I’ll keep working on it until I do. I’m incredibly competitive (to a fault?) – so since I chose to make a living in the creative field, and since it is always evolving, I’m a bit maniacal about it and am never short on inspiration.

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Bridal rhinestone headpiece (photo by Elizabeth Messina)

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

This is a constant area I’m working on. In the first 2-3 years of the business, I would work an insane amount of hours. Over a hundred hours a week! Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. I would either not sleep for 3-4 days at a time, or sleep maybe 1-4 hours a night maximum if I was lucky. I solidly did this. Isn’t that nuts?

A huge help was to finally relinquish a little control and delegate some of the work out to others. Of course, that could only happen when I had enough revenue to afford it. Nowadays, I’m still overworked, but I do get much more sleep. My typical day starts out by waking up early and checking/answering emails and other correspondence. I usually do this even before the sleep is out of my eyes. I then make my daily cup of tea, take the dog out, tend to the birds (all 3 of them!) and get back to work by about 8:30am.

Every day is a little different after this point. I do check inventory most days and restock supplies as needed. Many days, I will spend the rest of the day until about 9:00pm working on customer orders or wholesale orders, which includes producing, packing and shipping. Other days will be broken up with some time spent on social media, working with my contract workers, designing new styles and working on special projects. There isn’t an exact schedule I adhere to since it’s always changing. After finishing up for the day, I eat dinner with the better half and we curl up on the couch and watch a movie or tv show.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Building a marketing plan and reinvesting into that plan.

I am very conservative about spending and for the business, I’ve been completely self-financed. So to bring myself to spend money on marketing has been a challenge! What I can say is that I always reinvest into the business. The profits I make from sales are first earmarked for operating costs, taxes, supplies and my marketing budget. My marketing budget includes ads, photo shoots, bridal shows and any other fee for having an internet presence.

By always setting aside funds for marketing, I ensure that my hard work is seen and seen in a way that best represents the brand. There isn’t one exact marketing choice that stands out as the best move… it is more about the marketing strategy on the whole and making sure that a good portion of the profits from the business are reinvested to ensure the ongoing success of the business and continued growth.

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Myra at work (photo by Elizabeth Messina)

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Align yourself with good, honest people. One of the best things I have done for myself and the business has been to build relationships with amazing, talented and inspiring individuals. Network intelligently. To be honest, I didn’t choose my friends to benefit from them but what happens when you befriend wonderful persons? They lift you up and help you in ways that cannot be measured or “bought”. They inspire you to be better. They grow with you.

If you surround yourself with bad influences, eventually, those people will have an effect on you. Whether my cherished friends help in life or business, it doesn’t matter – it trickles into every aspect of my life. As I spread the good word about them, they do of me. When one friend has a success, we all celebrate! When one needs help, we all pitch in. Positive in is positive out. Sometimes, we can’t do it alone so make sure you have a great support system that you can call on when you need that extra something.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Farming with my husband. Haha! What I mean is that I’d love to move onto a larger property out of the city, build our dream home and do some subsistence farming. In 5 years, I hope to be spending more time with my husband.

You can find more of Myra’s work in her Etsy shop: Twigs and Honey

On her Facebook page: Twigs and Honey

And on Twitter: @twigsandhoney

C&T Q&A – How do you Track your Income and Expenditure? (+ Bonus FREE Spreadsheet Download)

Free Download - Income Expenditure CreateAndThrive

This week’s question is from Liya:

I wanted to ask you if you could e-mail me a copy of the spreadsheet that you keep for your income and expenditure, as I’m new to this, will be eternally grateful if you think it’s not too much to ask!!

Many thanks in advance for your help!!

Kind regards,
Liya

I’ve gotten a few requests like this, so I thought it might be a good idea to talk money here today. Specifically – how do you stay on top of your business income and expenditure so you don’t have a massive freak-out come tax time?

Okay, first of all? You should NOT be leaving this sort of stuff till tax time. If you’re serious about running a business, you NEED to know where your money is coming from – and where it’s going.

I know it’s a tedious task, and something we’d all rather avoid (and I’ll be completely honest here – I was SUPER-happy the day I handed this task off to Nick to take care of for me – he’s kept the books for at least 2 years now). However, I kept on top of it myself before that, and it was extremely worthwhile.

Money is Motivating

I don’t know about you… but I find keeping track of my biz money very, very motivating! I LOVE looking at my income at the end of each month, knowing that I made that money by sheer force of will – because every dollar I earn in my business I have WORKED for. Not like the old days where I got my salary in the bank every fortnight no matter how hard (or not) I worked at my job.

The more I earn, the brighter that happy glow of achievement burns. For me, that’s a super-motivating feeling!

I also need to know how much of that money we have actually kept – comparing the gross income each month to expenditure is the only way to know just how much money I have actually made.

Money In – Money Out = Money Kept

If you’re not tracking this on a regular basis, how on earth will you know how successful (or not) your business is?

Are you Running your Business into the Ground?

When we start off in this whole crazy caper, most of us are a little bit addicted to buying supplies. Come on, you’re among friends, you can admit it 😉

I dread to think how much money I spent at Spotlight in the bead section before I learned that there were better places to buy stuff from! If I go back and look at my income/expenditure for that very first year – when Epheriell was a hobby business that I ran in the down-time from my full-time job, I think I spent around $500 more than I earnt from it. At the time, I was pretty damn happy about that!

My only aim at this point was that the sales I made supported my ‘habit’. (Read, craft-supply-buying addiction…)

They did, and I was pleased… but I soon wanted MORE. And so the business turned from a hobby business into a ‘real’ business.

If I wasn’t tracking all of my expenses from the start, I wouldn’t know where I stood. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to grow my business, because I wouldn’t have had any idea how well I was doing.

Knowing where your money is going helps you to modify your business practices.

Maybe you need to cut back on buying supplies until you make a few more sales. Or maybe you’ve earnt more than you think, and you can re-invest that money into your business in the form of buying tools/materials or advertising!

It will also help you to avoid the pitfall of running your business into the ground by vastly over-estimating your income vs. your expenditure. There’s no way to really know where you stand unless you can see it in black and white.

An Example Spreadsheet (Free Download)

There are all sorts of fancy money-tracking programmes out there. To be frank – I’ve never used one because I don’t want to devote the time to learning, and the super-simple ones are always US based so don’t work with my Australian bank accounts (you know, those ‘automatically add paypal/bank income/expenses for you’ type programmes).

To this day, we just use a simple, straightforward spreadsheet to keep track of our business finances.

I thought I’d help you all out by creating a downloadable spreadsheet for you!

It includes an example page where I show you just how we use it, as well as all of the months of 2013, ready and waiting for you to just pop your numbers right in there.

Example Spreadsheet for Handmade Business from CreateAndThrive.com

Click here to download the spreadsheet

As you can see, it doesn’t have to be complicated!

The hard part is keeping up with it regularly.

Don’t leave filling this in until the end of each month, or it will be an onerous task that you dread. Break it up into tiny pieces – make it a habit!

My advice is to fill it in at the end of each day – or, failing that – weekly at the absolute least.

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Homework

  1.  Download the spreadsheet above
  2. Spend time today getting this month up to speed. As I publish this it’s the 8th of February – so you’ve only got 8 days to catch up on for this month. Start there!
  3. Share your thoughts in the comments – do you use a similar system? Something different? Do you have any questions about this spreadsheet, or tracking finances in general?

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Do you have a question for Jess? Just click the ‘Feedback’ tab on the left of screen and send it in!