Handmade gold rings necklace

In the month of March, our surprise subscribers received a lovely handmade gold rings necklace, created by jewelry artist Amanda Deer!

Unique Subscription Boxes: This one sends out handmade jewelry and luxury goods every month, like this gold rings necklace!

Cute gift wrapping from Fair Ivy subscription packages!

 

Her artist information card reads:

Hi there, I’m Amanda, your surprise artist of the month!  I’m a jewelry designer living in Austin, Texas, and I absolutely love what I do!

I set out to create pieces that are simple, chic and wearable every day—tiny little statements that add just a touch of glam to any outfit.  My line features dainty necklaces and bracelets, some inspired by nature and others inspired by faith and family. 

I hope you enjoy this dainty 14kt gold-filled three rings necklace, handmade by me in my studio.

The number 3 symbolizes so many things.  Wear this necklace to celebrate your family, best friends, life’s accomplishments and more!

Unique Subscription Boxes: This one sends out handmade jewelry and luxury goods every month, like this gold rings necklace!

Unique Subscription Boxes: This one sends out handmade jewelry and luxury goods every month, like this gold rings necklace!

We absolutely adore this delicate gold rings necklace, and have already started wearing it every day!  To pick one up for yourself, head on over to Amanda Deer’s shop!

Or, want to receive a handmade surprise in the mail every month, just like this one? Learn more about Fair Ivy by clicking below:

Fair Ivy handmade unique gifts

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

This gorgeous vegan faux leather handmade clutch was sent to our surprise subscribers in February.  Made by Lacy Lou Designs, it was custom-created JUST for Fair Ivy subscribers (woohoo!).  We adored not only the way it was made so carefully with love, but even the way it was hand-wrapped—front he cute itsy-bitsy clothes pin to the gorgeous graphic design on her business card and info card.

Handmade gift wrapping style

Fair Ivy: unwrapping a package

IMG_2761

Artist Info card for the Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch:

Lacy is a serious fabric addict based out of northern Utah.  She graduated from Utah Valley University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management.  Lacy is a proud military spouse to a loving husband, and a momma to 2 sweet boys that keep her busy with legos, messy rooms, and lots of cuddles. Her passion for fabric and creating guided her into creating an online business.

Lacy’s favorite part of the design process is shopping for the perfect fabric combinations.  She loves coming up with new designs for her shop and watching them come together in real life.  She makes each item herself on her vintage sewing machine in her basement, all while snacking on Swedish Fish and watching TV series on Netflix.

This clutch was handcrafted with the idea of making you feel hip and confident.  It is the perfect design for a night on the town, yet functional enough to be used every day.  Its roomy interior keeps all your essentials together while its mixed-media design gives you an urban-chic look. T his particular clutch was designed specifically for Fair Ivy—and you!

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

Vegan Faux Leather Handmade Clutch

Want to pick something similar up for yourself?  Head on over to Lacy Lou Designs’ shop!

Or, want to receive a handmade surprise in the mail every month, just like this one?  Learn more about Fair Ivy by clicking below:

Fair Ivy handmade unique gifts

 

Mi Casa Es Su Casa : Handmade Card

Mi Casa Es Su Casa Handmade Card

We love when artists help us surprise our subscribers!  In January, graphic designer Ms Matilda sent some of our most loyal customers this Mi Casa Es Su Casa handmade card—and everyone loved it!

Cute handmade shipping package

Even the outside shipping envelope was full of snail-mail fun.  We need to get some of these “happy mail day” stickers ourselves!  And who doesn’t love some good ole washi tape?

Shipping for handmade businesses

Mi Casa Es Su Casa Handmade Card

Surprise Gift Wrapping

Mi Casa Es Su Casa Handmade Card

A huge thanks to Ms Matilda again, for surprising some of our customers and for making such fabulous products!

Want to pick up one of these lovely prints for yourself? Head on over to Ms Matilda’s Etsy shop!

Unique Handmade Silver Leaf Earrings

Unique handmade silver leaf earrings

Our first surprise gift of 2015 has arrived!  In January our handmade subscription customers received these unique handmade silver leaf earrings by Song Yee Designs.

Photos of the unique handmade earrings:

Silver leaf earrings.  One of the monthly gift items from Fair Ivy, also known as: A gift to myself

Silver leaf earrings.  One of the monthly gift items from Fair Ivy, also known as: A gift to myself

(Above two photos are courtesy of Michelle Chen from Vegan.com)

Here’s the Artist Info card that came tucked inside the little package:

Sterling silver leaf earrings

Silver leaf earrings.  One of the monthly gift items from Fair Ivy, also known as: A gift to myself Unique handmade silver leaf earrings

Unique handmade silver leaf earrings

We adored these dainty danglies, and hope you did too!  To check out Song Yee’s shop, click here.

Would you like to receive a unique handmade gift in the mail every month?  Read more about our subscription by clicking here!

Search Engine Optimization How To

As another part of my small business series, I’m going to delve into some SEO tips and tricks. I’ve tried paying for SEO (at high cost and low return) and then finally taught it to myself.  End realization: For any smaller operation, doing it yourself is 100% the way to go.

So!  Here’s my Search Engine Optimization How To post!

SEO Optimization How to : A tutorial on SEO Tips and Tricks for beginners

Search Engine Optimization How To

For my examples I’m going to pretend I have a website that sells sewing patterns for handmade clothing.  I use WordPress as my website builder.

Part I : Choosing Keywords

It’s pretty easy to make a blog post SEO friendly.  The tricky part is choosing a keyword that is actually going to get you some visits.  This first part will show you how to choose a good keyword.

Step 1:

Sign up for a Google Adwords account.  You will need to enter your credit card but don’t actually need to make a purchase of any Ads.  You just want to use one aspect of the account, the Google Keyword Planner.

Step 2:

Think of a relevant blog post topic that would draw in an audience that might also be interested in buying your patterns.  An example would be “Handmade summer dresses”.

Step 3:

Navigate to the Google Keyword Planner page. Enter the general topic you want your blog post to be about in the top box, the one labeled “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”.  For this example I put in “Handmade summer dresses”.

I don’t usually bother to enter my website but you can if you want Google to have a quick look over it and use it to suggest ideas to you. If you only sell to a certain country, you can limit the audience to that country (but I don’t usually do this).

Under Keyword Filters, I also usually click the “Competition” box “Low”. This is simply because I am lazy. After I write a blog post that is really strong for SEO, I don’t want to have to do anything like backlink it and such.  If there is a lot of competition for the keyword I’m using, other people are probably putting in effort to get their posts and pages to the top, which means mine will not make it.

SEO Optimization Tricks for beginners

But if you think you’ll put in the effort, by all means go for the “Medium” ones too, because they often have more people searching for them.

Step 4:

Click Get Ideas and you’ll end up at an ugly page like the picture below (click for larger version).  You’ll want to navigate to the tab under the graph that says Keyword Ideas, which I’ve pointed out with a yellow arrow:

Search Engine Optimization how to: SEO tips and tricks for small businesses and marketing beginners

 

 Step 5:

Scroll down the list of Keyword suggestions until you find one or two that are relevant and have a decent number of monthly searches.  I usually aim for one that has at least 50 monthly searches, but the more the merrier.  For example, this post you are reading uses the keyword phrase Search Engine Optimization How To, which returns over 12,000 searches a month but somehow still is only Low competition.  Unless you are already a Fair Ivy reader, I bet that’s how you got here  :P  However, posts I make on handmade goods are usually only for 50-100 monthly searches.

Ok. I’m going to choose the keyword “How to Make Summer Dresses”, which has Low competition and has about 70 searches a month.  If you don’t see any that work for you or have decent monthly searches, try a new search term in the top box.

Part II : Wordpress SEO Tutorial

Step 6: 

Head on over to your WordPress dashboard.  If you don’t have it already, install the plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Step 7: 

Create a new blog post. In the title, put your keyword phrase.  Make sure your permalink also has the exact phrase in it, like below.  If it doesn’t look like this, head on over to Settings → Permalinks and make sure the structure of your posts is either /post-name/ or /category/post-name/

Search Engine Optimization Techniques : WordPress SEO tutorial

Step 8:

Scroll down and find the box labeled WordPress SEO by Yoast.  In the Focus Keyword box, put your exact keyword, “How to Make Summer Dresses”.

In SEO Title, include the exact Keyword and any other words you want to show up.  This is the title that will appear in the google results. In the Meta description, also make sure you include the exact keyword but make it a compelling description that will make people want to click through. See my example below:

Search Engine Optimization Techniques : WordPress SEO tutorial

 

Step 9:

Save your draft. When the page refreshes, you’ll see a little colored dot next to SEO in the Publish box on the right:

Wordpress SEO tips for beginners

Step 10:

When writing the post, your goal is to make that little dot green.  If you click the “Check” link next to the colored dot, it will show you in detail all the problems with your post’s SEO quality.  It will be a bit overwhelming, like this:

seoblogpost5

But obviously you haven’t written anything yet, so not to worry!  Start writing your post, keeping in mind the things that the plugin is looking for.

Here’s a couple of quick pointers:

  • Use the exact keyword at least a few times in the body of the post.
  • Have at least two pictures, and for their “Alt text”, use the keyword.  This is also good in case someone Pins the image, because it’s the image description that will show up—so make it a complete sentence, like “This fantastic post shows you exactly how to make summer dresses, step by step!”
  • If possible, use a header that contains the keyword.  If you look at this post you’re reading right now, I have two H2 headers.  Both of them include SEO keywords.
  • DO NOT make the post all spammy.  Make it an actual blog post.  If you just keep writing “How to Make Summer Dresses” over and over again in a poorly disguised way, Google will not be happy with you. The plugin should also tell you if you’ve used the keyword too much.
  • Also, don’t panic about making all the little dots green.  I never manage to get them all green.  Just do as many as humanly possible while still having a well-written, useful post for your readers.
  • Once you get comfortable writing good SEO posts, you can try and include multiple keywords in future ones. The way to do this is to just change the keyword in the “Focus Keyword” box, and see how it checks out when you hit Save.  You don’t want to remove your original keyword from anywhere else, but you can use the SEO checker to see how your new keyword looks.
  • Make sure you casually include information in the post or in the sidebar about what you sell or do, so the reader can take action rather than leaving your site when they’re done.

That’s it for the basic intro!  NOTE: It takes at least 6 months for Google to crawl your page and integrate all the changes, so after 6 months you may start to slowly see a response.  Don’t expect anything soon than that—so remember, this is the long game!

More detailed SEO Tips and Tricks

Cute Embroidery Patterns

I’ve been connecting recently with a really wonderful artist called CozyBlue, who is a handmade textile artist.  She makes anything from handmade pillow screen prints to tea towels—but perhaps my favorite items she creates are her amazingly cute embroidery patterns.

Cute embroidery patterns : My favorite cross-stitch designs Cute embroidery patterns - cross-stitch designs

If you’re itching for some crafting during those long winter nights but don’t quite know what design to create, head on over to CozyBlue’s Etsy shop and grab one of these fantastic cross-stitch designs.  My favorite might be the fox embroidery pattern—too cute!  Not to mention the reindeer embroidery pattern hidden amongst the holiday set.

Cute embroidery patternsCute embroidery patterns

I really love the concept of working with cute embroidery designs, as you can literally grab any piece of spare fabric, a couple of colors of string and you’re set to go.  (If you need help on how to cross-stitch, head on over to this handy Cross-Stitch Tutorial).

Other cute embroidery patterns I love:

If you have any other favorites, send an email my way and I can add them to the list!  lucy@fairivy.com

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