MEET AN ARTIST: KARIN PICHLER OF CREATIVE CROCHET SHOP

Karin Pichler of Creative Crochet Shop on Handmade In EuropeWe’re taking you to Salzburg, Austria today, where Karin Pichler, the owner, designer, photographer, shop manager and PR manager of CREATIVECROCHETSHOP lives with her husband, 2 daughters, and an adopted doggie. Think of old mountains, nature, immense sunflower fields, and you can picture her surroundings.

Karin was always crocheting and knitting, and 2 years ago she turned her hobby into a business. In a nutshell:

I started with selling hats and slippers. I tried different online platforms, Etsy, Dawanda, Ravelry, Crazypatterns.. My designs were my own, and I shortly also offered tutorials and crochet patterns, at first in German, now most are translated to English also. Nowadays my offers expanded to custom made items, most items are made to order in any colour combination, and I started a jewellery line for knitting and crochet fanatics.
A few months ago I joined HIE to get my own site, and now have my own shop with everything centralized.

Knitting, sewing and crocheting was running in the family, which is why Karin started early.

I learned the crafts of knitting and crochet at a very early age.
Handwork was prevalent in my family, my grandmothers and my mother sewed, knitted, crocheted and embroidered constantly. They always made clothes for us and for our children’s dolls, too much clothing! Handwork was constantly present – which has strongly influenced me.

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Artist feature, Blue Margarita | Handmade in Europe

MEET AN ARTIST: MARGARITA OF BLUE MARGARITA

Margarita is from Athens, Greece, but her origins lie on Santorini, an island of breathtaking cliffs, also referred to as Kalliste (the most beautiful one). Nowadays she has Athens as her home-town, and alternates between Lisbon in Portugal and Athens. She is inspired by the history and origins of jewelry, and feels like the jewelry[…]/a>

Keywords, what, where, how & why | Handmade in Europe

KEYWORDS, WHAT, WHY, WHERE & HOW

Keywords, what, where, how & why | Handmade in Europe

Online promotion is hard work. There is much competition out there, and it takes a lot of work to be found. One of the things that really help in the online world are keywords. In this article I’m going to explain the basics of keywords. I’m going to try to keep it short and practical, and provide links to useful external articles, as there is really tons of info on this subject on the internet. It is what makes your online business found.

Recently we started promoting using online ads, both with Facebook ads and with Google adwords.
We found that for reaching the correct audience, i.e. the people that are interested in the products we sell, correctly identifying and using keywords for your business is, well, the key to success or failure online. And this not only applies to the ads, they are very important to use on your website and in your products if you want to get found by the right audience.


 What are keywords

You could think of keywords as your business titles, describing you business in just a few words, as precise as possible. Think of doing a search on the internet for exactly your products, on images or in text. Your keywords should enable the search engines to show your products in the search results, preferably on the first page.
The closer the match between the text used for the search and your keywords, the more chances there are you will be on the first page. […]

Cadan Imrak is playing with fire | Handmade in Europe

Candan Imrak is playing with fire

Candan Imrak is playing with fire! And it gets hot, as she needs to melt glass and silver, which happens somewhere between 700 and 1300°C. She makes glass, silver and enamel beads & jewellery, and sells these in her shop on Handmade in Europe  She makes the beads using the lampwork bead techniques, believed to[…]/a>

Eva Baricz, BHB Kidstyle | Handmade in Europe

MEET AN ARTIST: EVA BARICZ OF BHB KIDSTYLE

Eva Baricz, BHB Kidstyle | Handmade in Europe

Eva Baricz is a Hungarian crafter, living in Portugal where she designs and makes costumes and costume accessories, mostly for children, and sells these online at BHBkidstyle.com. She is inspired by nature, children’s stories, and the unlimited imagination that children have.

“Nature, children’s story and kids unruly imagination are what inspires me. There are so many animals out there that one can make a mask or costume of. Even if a particular animal might not be popular in general, if it happens to be a character in a story, I think it is worth making at least a mask of. Reading, acting out and re-telling stories for children and/or with children is not just educational but great fun as well, not to mention the endless imaginative plays. And if there is no story about an animal, I am sure there will be created one soon by a child.”

Her business was not really planned, but just happened:

“I never planned to have a business and the fact that now I own my online shop has happened by chance. I used to hand-paint t-shirts for my children and it was  my friend Kerrin from Sigmosaics who encouraged me so that I opened my online shop on Etsy six years ago.
However, what appealed to some did not grab the attention of the wide audience and my shop was not doing very well.
The fate of my business has changed by the coincidence of receiving my first sewing machine and the need for a lion costume for my daughter. The costume was a success and I really enjoyed making it. More to the point, my little market research has proved that there was a need for masks and dress up costume accessories for children. So I took the plunge, abandoned my not very successful t-shirt business, and started making costume accessories for kids. My research has paid off and now I am a proud owner of my own web-shop where I sell masks and costume accessories for children which are designed and made by me.

In short, becoming a business owner has happened by chance but becoming a fairly successful business owner was the result of some conscious decisions.”


Tiger mask and tail costume for kids, BHBKidstyle on Handmade in Europe

Tiger mask and tail from BHB Kidstyle


We asked Eva about her early years, where did her crafting or designing come from, and were told that it is ‘nothing special, anyone was doing this’.

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The keyword is quality | Handmade In Europe

QUALITY CONTENT IS THE KEYWORD

The keyword is quality | Handmade In Europe

We have published several posts on how to target your market, how to use Social media to advertise and how to optimize your search engine results.
All those things are important but they wouldn’t mean much without something else, which is your content.
While the exact way in which Google rankings work still remains a mystery, there is one thing that most marketing bureaus agree on: quality content is an important part of the game.
Take a look at the big companies and their websites and you will see that very often they have many pages filled with well written articles, and are not overloaded with flashy intro’s nor screaming banners. There are exceptions (most of them being web designers trying to show off), but most of the successful businesses rely on quality content rather than on gadgets.
What does this mean? It means that if you want to have a successful site, you need well written articles and pages, in which you should use the main keywords relevant for of your business. You also should take care of updating your content on a regular basis, as in a keyword search it is the most recently updated sites that will be shown on top of the list.


Quality pages, quality posts

What exactly defines quality content? This depends on the kind of a business of course, but there are a few points everybody should follow: […]

Search engine optimazation | Handmade in Europe

SEO, OPTIMIZE YOUR SITE FOR SEARCH ENGINES

Search engine optimazation | Handmade in Europe

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the keyword these days. Get found, get more visitors, and what is most important, get the right visitors to find you. After that it is up to you to provide quality content targeted at those visitors. You want to attract them so that they want to keep coming back to you.

First some statistics, on which I can be very short: Google rules.
Their search engine gets used most often, most statistical bureaus agree that their share is somewhere around 80%, and that is still a careful estimate. Over 80% of the people using Google do daily searches using Google. Google handles 40.000 searches worldwide per second.
The verb ‘to Google’ is officially recognized. Do you Bing? Do you Yahoo? Need I say more?
If we’re talking about SEO, go for Google.

Page speed

Often I notice that when people talk about SEO the focus is on keywords, meta-tags and titles. All too often the page loading speed is being overlooked.
People are not too patient anymore, so if your pages load slowly this will not be good for you. Try the online GOOGLE PAGE SPEED tool and see how you score. I would think Google will base your ranking on your loading speed. Caching, image sizes, huge scripts for fancy effects, they all need to be considered.
Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you really need these sliding effects with 10 photos on your front page, which takes quite some time to load?
  • Do you compress photos before you load to optimize them for the internet?
  • Do you load the photos the exact size needed, or do you load them much bigger?
  • For the techies: do you have caching enabled so people do not have to load previously viewed banners, logos & photos again next visit?

Take an extra step and if your shop photos are displayed as 800 x 600, upload these as 800 x 600. Your browser does not need to resize and compress them then.
And check your settings on the compression. Pixel-perfect professional photos for printing are not needed for the internet (unless you offer them as printable downloads, of course).
There’s many free image optimizer tools on the internet, in many cases saving you up to 80% in size. Google’s own free application Picassa has an export function that lets you set the size and quality of your photos and then export them in bulk.

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Handmade in Europe - How to make Social Media work for you

SOCIAL MEDIA, WHERE TO SPEND YOUR TIME

Handmade in Europe - How to make Social Media work for you

For every handmade artist building up the name and brand is one of the key points in making it. You need to create a profile for the outside world to see and then share it consistently to the right audience. Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol are very good examples here, they built up distinctive images of themselves, stuck to them, and regularly hit the headlines in their days.
Nowadays it is much easier to profile yourself as there are multiple channels to communicate and share your works as well as your points of view. It is all a matter of time, organization, and choosing the right platforms to reach your target audience. What is important, you want to do it in such a way that you still have enough time for your most important activity: creating.


Choose your platforms

It’s not about telling you where to go, that you will have to decide for yourself. Just remember to consider your target audience’s preferences, you want to be present where your potential customers are. You also should keep in mind the fact that your content might be suitable for some platforms more than for the others. Whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Flickr, it doesn’t matter as long as you know why you’re choosing it.  You have to evaluate each and every site you are considering and decide how it’s functionality can help you. Just because some platform is great for one business, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best choice for yours. If you can’t see how a site might help you it is better to try to look for another one. Remember, the time spent on comparing platforms and choosing the best ones is going to pay off, really.

Amongst others there are two factors that you should consider when choosing platforms for yourself: the time you can spend on the social media and the amount of content you plan to post. For instance, Twitter or Instagram might work well for short daily updates while you will need a blog for long posts with many photos.

Also consider the fact that not all your target group is using the same platform, people have their preferences, some just want to read the headlines (eg. Twitter), some want to watch the photo’s (eg. Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook), some like to shop or see pretty collections (Wanelo, Pinterest) and some people really want to read the details (websites, blogs, newsletters).

Below you can read the very basic information on the most popular social media platforms but there are many more out there for you to look at if you want. Just don’t go wild and try to use them all! Choose two or three that suit you and stick to them.

If you are interested in some more numbers and stats you are welcome to visit the Digital Marketing Stats site listed in resources and references at the end of this article.

FACEBOOK
This is the highest ranking platform with over 2 billion users, of which 1.4 billion are active (logged in regularly).
Works best for sharing photos, videos and events, as well as text content. There is a difference between personal profiles and business accounts (fan pages).

GOOGLE+
1+ billion users of which 540 million are active. It works much like Facebook but Google+ content will often rank higher in the Google search results..
You can share photos, videos, events etc.

TWITTER
500 million users, 284 million active. It was launched as a short message app  where you can share messages up to 140-characters (Tweets). It is mostly used to send many short messages a day to share with the world.

INSTAGRAM
300 million+ registered users and almost all of them are regularly active. Used to share mobile photos which can be easily transformed with filters for vintage effects (think polaroid pictures). The photos are easily shared to Facebook (who owns Instagram), Twitter or Tumblr at the time of posting.

PINTEREST
An online pinboard where you can ‘pin’ or upload your favorite photos. Photos can be grouped on boards and used for inspiration. Pinterest has got 70 million users, 80% of them are female.

FLICKR
92 million users. Photo sharing service owned by Yahoo.

TUMBLR
420 million users, 100 million active. This is a microblog platform on which you can share texts, video, photos, and follow other blogs.

WANELO
This is kind of a huge visual shopping mall where you can share and save products you like (want, need, love) from all over the internet. All products posted have a link to where you can buy them. Wanelo has 11 million registered users, 90% female. You can also find the big brands there.


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