Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Host a Giveaway

Have you ever tried hosting a giveaway for your shop and been unsuccessful? Here are some tips to help you next time:

The Prize
You need to pick a good prize, with a good photo, if you want people to enter. The more expensive the prize or the more prizes to win, the more people will enter. Choose something that represents your shop and your best work and is popular (something you sell a lot of or something that people search for often--review your shop stats). Also, choose something versatile: a hairbow and onesie will only get people with baby girls, so use a gender-neutral item or offer the choice of a boy onesie instead. You can also let the winner choose anything from your shop (with or without a price limit) instead of you choosing a specific one.

The Entries
All giveaways need a mandatory entry. The mandatory entry should benefit you without being too demanding. For example, the best is to ask people to browse your shop and leave a comment of what they like. That takes them to your shop, which they hopefully will remember in the future, but does not require any commitment, as would hearting your shop (especially if they don't have an Etsy account) or following your blog.

You can include optional entries that benefit you (heart shop, follow blog, like FB page, etc) and they can be worth a different number of entries. If you have a good prize, most people will do one or two of the additional entries to increase their chances of winning.

The Format
You can have people leave a comment on your blog or FB page or use Rafflecopter. In your blog post, make the prize, entries, and rules clear. The giveaway should be open 1-2 weeks. Decide if it is open to the U.S. only, U.S. and Canada, or worldwide. Ask for an email address so you can contact the winner (unless you are doing it on your FB page) and make clear the window of time they have to respond before another winner is chosen. When the giveaway ends, choose the winner through, announce it on your blog and/or FB page, and contact the winner.

Post the giveaway in appropriate threads in your Etsy teams. Post it on your FB page (or blog if you're doing it on your FB page). Post it in your shop announcement. But most important, post it to the following websites:

Etsy Giveaways: Most of my giveaway traffic comes from here.
By Hand Giveaways: Another good one.
Contest Girl: Super easy to submit.
Tightwad in Utah & Oh So Savvy Mom: Item doesn't have to be handmade.
Mom Bloggers Club: Sign up and join the groups for promoting giveaways. The one I get the most traffic from is Low Entry Giveaways: Under 100.

Extra Tips
  • If you make the prize a gift certificate to your shop, the amount should cover at least one item in your shop. It is illegal to make someone spend money (thus the "No purchase necessary" you always see in small print); otherwise, the prize is really just a discount.
  • Whether the prize is a certificate or a specific object, the shipping must also be included for the same reason previously stated.
  • Including a coupon code in the blog post will encourage people to buy from your shop if they don't win.
  • When stating the deadline, include the time zone. Avoid using midnight, as this can cause confusion.
  • If hosting the giveaway on your blog, turn off word verification. It is a huge turn off for people, especially when they want to do a lot of entries.
  • Introduce your giveaway with a little bit about yourself and your shop and why you are doing the giveaway. Avoid long Q&A.
  • If another blogger wants to host a giveaway for your shop, make sure the mandatory entry benefits you, not them. A good blogger will try to help you and make any entries beneficial to them optional ones.

For some examples of giveaways, check out my blog. Good luck with your next giveaway!

Monday, May 28, 2012

This Is a Living Gospel

Every Sunday I look forward to writing this blog and I begin my day with the excited energy of what Heavenly Father will open my eyes to today that will help me write something to uplift and inspire my fellow LDS artists. Artists in general see life with a different set of glasses, but being LDS artists, we are blessed to see things in a whole different world!

Last week I started to read the Bible again, and in the first chapter of Genesis I read about the creation of the world. The first day God separated the light from the darkness; the second day He created the atmosphere. Then the third day He created dry ground, plants and trees, herbs, and all vegetables and flowers. The fourth day He created the sun, moon, and stars. (Did you know there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand in all the earth?) Now being an Energy Therapy Specialist, the thought started to form, Is it me or is God showing us that we are just like Him? See, as an artist, whenever I have a project due I start the task slowly, but by the third day I start to really kick it up, my ideas get clearer, and I redo something I see needs to be addressed so that it can function better. Now back to my story.

Then on the fifth day God created all the animals in the waters. But the sixth day was tremendously busy because He created all the animals on the earth as well as man and woman. Wow! That sixth day was jam packed!

In sacrament meeting I couldn't help but bear my testimony on feeling so blessed to be guided by the Holy Spirit in my life because He made sense of everything I have ever gone through. When I was a child my family broke up and I and my sister were starved by my mother who was all caught up with her 40-years-older boyfriend. Some of my experiences would make you wonder what purpose would Heavenly Father have in giving that experience to a child? But I share with you that I have seen value in all my trials and struggles. I especially value that experience because every thing I have ever eaten since I have savored. And because of my experience with starvation, I promise you that I probably love good food more than anyone. You would think I'd be this huge person, but I'm not because of the experience I also learned to feel the energy of my body while eating, so I stop when I need to. I shared with them about seeing Heavenly Father's artist side in the first chapter of the Bible, and how when we look through the scriptures that we will find ways in which we are like either the prophets or even Heavenly Father and will be encouraged in our desire to become more like them.

On the way home from church, my oldest daughter shared that her teacher told the class this is a living gospel and that our spiritual experiences should be what happened to us that morning, not years ago.  We need to seek the Spirit's guidance so that we are led to see life in a whole new way, every moment of every day. I assure all of you that He will show you the value of all your struggles if you will but ask. He loves all of us so tenderly and completely and He wants to show us those qualities we possess that are like His, I believe, because then we can be inspired to reach for the hope and faith that no matter what our struggles may be, we can have the vision of living with Him forever. May your week be one that makes you cry as you marvel at the enormous love He has for you, because you feel it to the depth of your soul, as His individual child, is my prayer.

Happy creating!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Modest Is the Hottest

When we think about the principle of modesty, our first thoughts often turn to the youth of the Church. However, I believe these standards are equally important to live by no matter what stage in life you may be in.

I just discovered one of the most fun Church resources I’ve ever seen: the sister missionary dress code website. I know, it sounds crazy, but let me explain.

In a Relief Society training meeting, Sister Julie B. Beck (former RS General President) mentioned that she’s received many questions regarding the standard of modesty. In the meeting, she answered by suggesting we all look at this website with the guidelines for the sister missionaries. She said if that standard of dress was good enough for missionaries, it was good enough for us, too.

What I find helpful about this website is its many pictures giving examples of current trends that are modest. This helps me know what to look for at the store. The website also explains in more detail some of the more “gray” areas of the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet’s section on modesty.

Here’s the link. Check it out if you’ve got a minute; it’s amazing. J

One of my favorite quotes regarding modest dress is by Elder Robert D. Hales:

“The next time you approach the temple, pause to look at the temple grounds. Have you ever considered why the temple is surrounded by beautiful plants, reflecting pools, and architecture? They give an outward presence and feeling that prepares the patron for the sacred ordinances that await inside the temple. Even if a temple is in the center of a large city, the architecture outside separates the building from surrounding structures.

“Our clothing is equally important. It is the 'landscaping' for presenting our bodies as temples. Just as the temple grounds portray the sacredness and reverence for what takes place inside the temple, our clothing portrays the beauty and purity of our inner selves. How we dress portrays whether we have proper respect for temple ordinances and eternal covenants and whether we are preparing ourselves to receive them.”

Even though dressing modestly is sometimes hard and can seem like a nuisance, I know that when we are dressed appropriately we are blessed with an added measure of the Holy Ghost and greater ability to resist temptation.

Have a fabulous day, and remember modest is the hottest, no matter what your age may be.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Father's Day Gift Ideas

Is it all agreed that it's harder to shop for Father's Day than for Mother's Day? Here are some ideas from our team members' shops for every type of man:

For the Car Guy
by edeevo

For the Former Missionary
by Statesman Ties

by House of Rouse

For Daddy from the Kids
by Lexiphilia

For the Army Guy (or Businessman)
by Castle Ink Pens

For the Fisherman
by kirstynish

For the Beatles Fan
by Treehouse Illustrator

For the Gluten-free Dad
by Mom's Place Gluten Free

For the Boy Scout
by Debz Doodlez

For the Foreign Father
by Lily Gene

For more ideas check out these team treasuries:

Help Promote the Team Giveaway!

Thanks to all who have contributed to the giveaway! It is now open. Please promote everywhere, whether or not you participated. It will help all of us, not just the featured shops. If you contributed, please reserve your specific listing unless you have multiples or are willing to make another one. Thank you!

NOTE: Team members may not enter the giveaway. Any who do will be removed from the team.        

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dealing with Hurtful Church Members
Every Sunday for the past three months has been a struggle for my family. My four-year-old girl has not wanted to go to church. We thought the transition from Nursery to Primary was the problem. After being really sick with a virus, I was able to return to church after being out for roughly a month. Needless to say, returning to church has been rough.

Then something occurred that made me glad I was at church with my little girl.  Her teacher told me someone else, not me, should drop my daughter off to class, and I felt concerned. Then as I sat in Sharing Time with my little girl, she became excited upon seeing one of her best friends give a talk while being helped by her mother. She excitedly whispered to me how glad she was that her mother was helping her best friend. Without warning, my daughter's teacher reached across the two other little Sunbeams and continually slapped my daughter's wrist while telling her to be quiet. I was stunned to hear the slapping sound and I watched dazed as she did this to my child. I found myself filling up with an enormous amount of emotion, so I took my children out of the room. After speaking to the Primary president and the bishop, I left church because there was nowhere for us to go. How does someone deal with situations where spiritual harm is done?

Well, I will tell you what I plan to do. I plan to follow Jesus's example and pray for this sister every time she comes to mind. I forgive her; however, never would I permit anyone to touch a child in this manner, much less condone someone touching one of my children this way.

Often the verse is on my mind, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mark 10:14). To me this verse means we adults bite our tongues, control our impatience, and find a creative way to redirect a misbehaving child so they feel listened to and valued. It does not mean to make them suffer! I find myself wondering how else this sister has inappropriately corrected my child. Knowing that my little girl is just a young child who does not know how to tell on others when they hurt her, all she knew to say was that she didn't want to go to church.

It has been my experience as a member of this precious gospel that in dealing with the failings of human behaviors, if we focus on the great love and blessings that flow from obeying the commandments, we will be given the strength to stand strong in times that test our faith. I share with you that I was guided by the Spirit to leave the room when my first reaction was to reach over and do bodily harm back. Heavenly Father gave me the strength to act as a lady, and I never so much as even glanced her way in Sharing Time today.

A similar situation happened to me some years ago that I draw strength from today. When I was a single mother in Washington, I had asked the Relief Society president for a ride to the temple, to which she refused. I heard from a good friend that I wasn't allowed the ride because the president did not want me to be friends with a single brother who also was riding in the car. So I confronted the president and was told that she saw me as a loser because I had bought a car eight months earlier and I still wasn't driving. I thank God for filling my bosom with compassion, driving out the negative thoughts I had for her jumping to conclusions. The president was unaware that I was struggling to learn to drive because of abuse I had endured in a ten-year marriage to my first husband. The Lord greatly blessed me that I was able overcome my fears and get my license the following week, after struggling and failing the test three times previously over a twelve-year period.

When the time came for me to move from Washington, the sister who had been president bore her testimony the fast Sunday before I left of how she never had the courage to apologize to a certain sister who was part of the branch for denying service to help her overcome obstacles in her path.  Having seen her great strength to overcome certain difficult circumstances, she knew that Heavenly Father had a huge part in that sister's life.  She regretted not being open to being a part of the growth the sister had accomplished. She spoke of lost opportunities and how she saw now that she would never again be given the chance to be of service to that sister.  Furthermore, she was deeply affected that the sister never was found gossiping about her in return for the unkindness she had showed.
I knew she was talking about me from the way she continually looked at me while speaking. I can't say that it made the pain less, for every Sunday I found it a struggle to show up to church, yet I knew I needed to go to set the example for my children.

All I really want to say is that if any of you are struggling to go to church because of hurts, please let my experiences give you the strength to go. You are not alone. Heavenly Father will bestow the blessings of His Spirit on you. Know that by relying on Him, we come to be like Him and we are blessed beyond comprehension in all areas of life. May we all find the courage to stand for truth in the gentle ways that become the followers of Christ. And may all of us feel connected to the True Source of our creativity, joy, and light, is my prayer!

Have a great and productive week! And may all our burdens be light as we practice our daily walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Dare to Do Right

Sometimes as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, our beliefs are put to the test. I love the words of this familiar Primary song.
Dare to do right! Dare to be true!
You have a work that no other can do;
Do it so bravely, so kindly, so well,
Angels will hasten the story to tell.

Dare, dare, dare to do right;
Dare, dare, dare to be true,
Dare to be true, dare to be true.

Dare to do right! Dare to be true!
Other men’s failures can never save you.
Stand by your conscience, your honor, your faith;
Stand like a hero and battle till death.

Doing what is right can be hard. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or prideful or anything, but this experience sticks out to me as one I should share.

I remember a few years ago I was put in an extremely awkward situation. One of my school teachers had decided to show an inappropriate movie during several of our class periods. We were reading Shakespeare, and although the film had lots of bad parts, it was supposed to help our comprehension of the story. I struggled with what to do….there were lots of other LDS kids in my class, and none of them were leaving. I wondered if maybe the movie wasn’t so bad after all. After debating with myself for a few minutes, though, I knew I had to get out. I passed a note to a friend asking how she felt and she replied that she was uncomfortable, too. Together we talked to the teacher and received permission to study in the hallway while the movie was shown over the next week. Even though it was hard, it was so worth it. I received a good grade during that unit even though I had missed the video’s summary of what we were learning. I had added confidence in the fact that I couldstand up even when others did not. But, most of all, I became closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know I was blessed for making the decision to stand for truth.

I love this video that was made from one of President Monson’s talks. I hope you enjoy it, too.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is the very last line-- “We are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”

May we always remember that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Etsy Talk: Dos & Don'ts

I have heard horror stories of people's shops being closed down for not following rules precisely. I would hate to see that happen to any of us, so please review the Dos and Don'ts. Here are some rules I see broken all the time:

Under Listings 
  • You may not create a listing for an item that is not for sale or sold out.
  • A listing may not be created for the sole purpose of sharing photographs or other information with the community.
  • A listing may not be created solely as an advertisement. This includes notices of sales or promotions in your shop. Such information may be included in your Profile, avatar, banner, Shop Announcement and/or item descriptions.
  • A listing must not be conditional upon the purchase of another listing in your shop (for example: saying "this item may only be purchased along with another item in my shop" is not allowed). This includes listings for item upgrades, shipping upgrades and gift wrapping upgrades.
  • A free with purchase item may not be listed as a separate listing conditional upon the purchase of another item in your shop.

    • The title and tags must not mention or describe the free with purchase item.
    • Information about free with purchase items may only be included in the item description.
    • A free with purchase item must not be featured in the first photograph of the listing.
    • The listing price must only reflect the listed item.

    Under Labeling your items
    You should only state what the item is, not what the item may become or potential uses for the item (for example: yarn should not be labeled as "sweater," beads should not be labeled as "bracelet," small gift items should not be labeled as "stocking stuffer").

    Under Shops
    You may not set a minimum purchase amount requirement in your shop.

    Under Custom orders
  • "Custom order" listings must be listed for purchase with a set price.
  • If the seller offers different sizes or styles that affect the price, the seller must make a separate listing for each item.
  • Sunday, May 13, 2012

    Creators of Nations

    Linda from Ruoiled will be blogging on Sundays. Here is her first post:

    Happy Mother's Day to all our sisters who read this blog. I want to take a moment to introduce myself; I'm Linda from the shop Ruoiled (Are you oiled). I am excited to share in the writing of this blog on my favorite day of the week, Sunday.

    Some would say this is breaking the Sabbath, but I do not consider it work because I am going to stay focused on sharing things that inspire me from church. Today was an interesting day because we just had a missionary return this past week in our ward and we will be sending off another missionary from our ward on Wednesday. The missionary that returned is now a new person. He glows unlike the young man who left here. Before, he was closed and seemed so worldly with his sloppy clothes, unkempt hair, and eyes that seemed empty. Many of the brethren worked hard to get this young man ready to go on his mission. I was doubtful that it would happen, much less last 2 years. But his parents' faith paid off. And he was so beautiful to look at today, in his missionary attire, minus the tag. I know I have learned a lot through witnessing that miracle!

    Then began the speakers for Sacrament Meeting. It was so wonderful to hear from the mother of the missionary who will be going, of how the great grandmother's husband was called on a mission in the beginnings of the Church and even though they were struggling that they decided he needed to serve the Lord. Well, that dear brother had an accident befall him on his journey to begin his mission and was killed. The sister was struggling to provide for her small children for they were really poor and lived in a house made of sod. That winter there were holes in the walls that let in the cold and she became very ill with tuberculosis. Well, she heard from her brother who invited her to come take over the home that her parents left behind, but withone condition, that she forsake the Mormon religion. He said he would wait to receive her letter when she had enough of living in poverty. She quickly told him that he would never receive such a letter, that she was committed to the truth found in the Church. A few weeks later she died. Her children were raised by one of the apostles. And now this young missionary was the seventh generation of missionaries from this sister.

    Then the father in the talk said this profound sentence: we mothers are creators of nations. That rang deep in my heart. How often do we consider the greatness of our positions as mothers in Zion? I don't know about anyone else, but I struggle to find the time to create items in my Etsy store. I shamefully and humbly admit that I don't always know how to balance my quiver full of children, care for my 80-year-old diabetic father who requires monitoring of his diet and blood sugar and has to be reminded to go to the bathroom, along with the full time job of creating items, a website, videos, conference calls, photographing items, creative writing for the listings, and managing the different social media sites to get the word out. I have faith that I am working a mighty work, connecting Energy Medicine with the scriptures in my blog here on Blogspot, as well as on my website; however, I plan to go forward from this day remembering that these beautiful children are the beginnings of my future nation. 

    May all of us mothers find a way to relate our love for the gospel in such a way that it becomes the very nature of our children, that should the Lord call us home before they make it to adults, we will instill in them a determination to be future missionaries and leaders in moving the work of the Lord forward in these latter days.

    Hope all who read this blog will feel inspired to make whatever necessary changes they need to make to allow time to cultivate the creation of their future nation is my prayer. 

    God Bless,

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Etsy Talk: Cross Linking

    Sal from Simply Sal Boutique will be writing on our blog on Fridays. Here is her first post:

    I'm so excited! With some help from the friendly people on the Etsy Business Topics Team, I figured out how to cross link my listings and shop home page, and what a difference it makes in getting views from Google.
    I know all you Etsy alumni probably know how to do this, but for all us beginners I thought I'd just explain how to do it:
    1. Decide what other listings you would like to link to your item.
    2. Copy and paste their links into your item's listing.

    It's that easy-- just copy and paste! I also put a link to my shop home page to make navigation easier.

    I did some test Google searches after cross-linking my listings and came up on some search terms that it didn't used to. I had heard of doing this, but never understood the point. Wow-- it makes such a difference. :)
    Best Wishes!

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    BNS & BNR Treasuries

    Ever wonder what BNS and BNR treasuries are? They are treasuries created by teams (or individuals) in order to promote and sell the members' shop items, though you do not need to be a team member to participate. The idea is to buy something from one of the featured shops in order to be featured in the treasury and then have someone buy something from your shop.

    BNS stands for buy and stay, meaning that even if someone buys from your shop you stay featured in the treasury until the round ends, either after a certain number of sales or a time period. Once the BNS closes, all the people who shopped will be featured in the next treasury. (Some are not consecutive, but most are.) If you do not sell, some curators will carry over your shop one or two more rounds.

    BNR stands for buy and replace, meaning that you immediately replace the shop you bought from in the treasury. If you are the last one to buy in before the round closes, you usually are featured in the next round since your shop didn't have much feature time. There are also PNRs, promote and replace. Instead of buying in, you promote the featured item.

    Be sure to read the rules before buying in! Every curator does it differently. Some you need to call out the shop you want to buy from and wait for the curator's okay (usually for BNRs so that two people don't buy from the same shop since they both can't replace one shop). Some have a minimum amount of money you have to spend to get in, some don't. Some are open for a long time, some for a short time. Most have ways you can earn free spots: being the top promoter, being chosen in a random drawing, winning a trivia game. Also, if you spend a lot of money or buy from certain shops you get featured in more rounds.

    Once you buy, you comment with the shop you bought from, the transaction link(s), and the amount spent after coupon, before shipping (ac/bs). Some curators will ask you what item you want featured, some choose it themselves. It doesn't matter, though, because you can buy any item from the featured shops, not just the featured items.

    BNS treasuries are great opportunities for multiple sales since you stay in the treasury the entire time. BNR treasuries get more views since the items are constantly changing. Both are great forms of advertising. Even if you don't sell anything, you get more views and hearts. The advantage of BNS/BNRs over other advertising is that you get something for your money, which is like free advertising if you were going to buy an item anyway. Happened to me twice--I was going to buy something from a shop, happened to find them in a BNS later, and then bought it so I could be featured. The other time, I found an item I wanted to buy at a lower price in a BNS.

    Also, the featured shops are encouraged to post coupon codes, so you will usually get good discounts. The best time to participate is during holidays and when you need to get a birthday gift. Then you can shop for what you want at a discount and also get featured, a win-win situation. That's how I got all my Mother's Day gifts and two sales!

    The best thing about these treasuries is everyone is super friendly and supportive. You make friends and return customers and promoters. Try it out to for yourself. To find a BNS or BNR, seach for "open bns/bnr" under Treasuries or "bns/bnr" under Teams.

    If you have any more questions, let me know!

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    Mother's Day Gift Ideas

    Here are some of my favorite Mother's Day gifts from our team:

    Print from Wonder Lane Art: Perfect for a from-daughter-to-mother gift. Reminds me of lyrics from a Primary song: "Dear Mother, all flowers remind me of you."

    Temple Bracelet from Made by Maggie Mae: A great way to show your mother/wife you value and appreciate her going to the temple. And what woman doesn't love pearls?

    Embroidery by Can Do Stitching: Great for the mom who likes to decorate the home with LDS art. Find more sayings in her shop.

    Address Stamp from E. Hernandez Designs: Perfect for the mom who's always sending letters or wedding invitations. More designs can be found in the shop.

    For more ideas, check out the Mother's Day gifts thread from our team page.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    Giveaway Winner!

    The winner of the bobby pins giveaway is comment #4 by Ashlee! Congratulations! Thanks, everyone, for the input too. I love the idea of guest posts and non-Etsy topics, but I need volunteers to help me out with the blog!