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

How to wrap a gift

It’s high time I did a simple tutorial on how to wrap a gift.  Never waste another inch of gift wrap, and never again cry out “Why God, WHY?!” when all your efforts still end up looking like you pulled an old lunch bag out of a garbage can and wrote your best friend’s name on it.

So here goes.

How to wrap a gift: A photo tutorial

How to wrap a gift

Ingredients:

  • wrapping paper
  • ribbon
  • scissors
  • tape (or glue if you want to look extra fancy)

Wrapping a gift : A dummy's guide

Step 1: Measure your gift wrap

This is actually pretty simple once you get it, but bear with me through the explanation.  If my explanation doesn’t float your boat, you can try another version here (but there are fewer pictures).

Take your gift box or gift item, and put it in one corner of your wrapping paper.

Wrapping a gift : A simple guide

Roll it along the bottom edge of the gift wrap, until you’ve rolled every side (e.g. if it’s a box, roll all four sides along.)  Add about a centimeter, and draw a line—this is where your first cut will be.

Wrapping a gift : A simple guide

Wrapping a gift : A simple guide

Pick up the box and put it face-up where you stopped, so the edge is at the line you drew. Roll it ONCE up the other direction of the paper.  So only two of the sides have been rolled (or if it’s not a box, HALF of the gift).Add about a centimeter, draw a line—and this is your second cut.

How to wrap a gift tutorial

How to wrap a gift tutorial

That’s it.  Cut the paper along the lines.  It should be perfect.

How to wrap a gift tutorial

Step 2: Fold & tape

Put your gift upside-down in the center of your paper.

How to gift wrap : A step by step guide

Take the longest sides and bring them together, so one overlaps the other. Make sure they meet in the middle of one of the sides.  Tape here.  If you’re fancy, dab a bit of glue under the top piece and hold it to the bottom piece until it dries.   This way you’ll have no ugly tape.

How to gift wrap : A step by step guide

Now we do the sides—the trickiest part of wrapping a gift.  With the pieces that stick out over the end of your gift, you want to fold in the sides.  IMPORTANT:  Make sure you don’t push the box down through the paper—you need the same amount of space on the other side.

How to gift wrap : A step by step guide

You should start with the side that has the overlapping pieces.  Fold it flush onto the box.

How to gift wrap : A step by step guide

The best way to make them stay put is to crease up the edges of the adjacent sides once you have folded the first one down.  Next, fold down the two adjacent sides, and the final side down on top.

How to wrap a Christmas gift

Tape or glue it down, and do the same on the opposite side.  I did one side tape and one with glue so you can see how it can make a difference to the look.

Gift wrapping tutorial How to wrap a Christmas gift

Congrats—the hard part of wrapping a gift is done!

 

Step 3: Ribbon

To cut the ribbon to the right length—it should be the circumference of the box one way + the circumference the other way, plus 4-6 inches for the bow part (bigger if your box is quite big).  So if you put your box at the end of the ribbon, and roll it along it until all four sides have touched—then turn the box the other way and roll it the other way, then add 4-6 inches.  OR you can always just cut it super long and then trim at the end.

Find the middle of your ribbon.  Put the box onto your ribbon in the center, with the overlap-side (the bottom) facing up.

How to measure gift wrap

Pull the ribbon up the sides of the box (doesn’t matter which sides), until they meet at the top.

How to measure gift wrap

Twist them around each other.

How to measure gift wrap

Flip the box over.  Pull the ribbon up the other two sides until they meet at the top of your box.

Wrapping a present tutorial

Tie a bow—like you’d tie your shoelaces.

Wrapping a present tutorial

Step 4 (Optional): Embellish!

I like to add a little twig, or leaf, or something to make it a little extra fancy.  I got these berries from outside—they are plentiful in winter, which sorta makes this also a tutorial for how to wrap a christmas gift.

How to wrap a gift (and specifically, how to wrap a christmas gift!)

Check out some of my other posts on embellishments:  Recycled Gift Wrap DIY and Natural Gift Wrapping DIY .

 

…and that’s it!  I hope this helped with your christmas gift wrapping, or gift wrapping for any occasion!

Custom typography design, cute greeting cards

I’m a sucker for cute greeting cards.  Combine that with my love of custom typography design, and you’ve got me.

That being said, one of my favorite graphic designers at the moment is Angel from Design & Happiness (who also happens to be a buddy of mine from school).

Custom typography design, cute greeting cards

Angel puts her awesome graphic design skills to work with not only fantastic custom typography design, but really cute sayings and drawings to boot!

Custom typography design, cute greeting cards

Her cards vary from sweet and romantic, to silly and fun.  The next one resonates really well with me—I’m a total jerk when I’m hungry.  I usually call it the Hunger Grumps, but now that I think about it, Hangry expresses the grinch-tornado even more accurately:

Custom typography design, cute greeting cards

Another super fun one:

Custom typography design, cute greeting cards

And at the moment her shop is all filled with cute greeting cards that are winter-themed, such as the one below:

custom typography design, cute winter greeting card

Want to see more?  Head on over to Angel’s Etsy shop, or check out her website here for more info about working with her.  She can do custom cards, website, wedding invites/photography, and more!

What to Name Your Company (Small Business Tips)

I’m in the process of putting together a full series of how to start up a small business online—so bear with me as it may take awhile to get all of them out.  But here’s the first of my 6-step series!

 

What to Name Your Company

It’s a pretty important question—the answer to which will (hopefully) last many years into the future. It can make or break your brand, so it’s a task not to be taken lightly.

Following are my tips for choosing a business name.

What to Name Your Company


What to name your company – Approach 1: Nondescript Name

The first way is to choose a nondescript name/word that you like.  Something that maybe vaguely sounds relevant to what you’re doing, but doesn’t shout out your product or idea in explicit details.

The main PRO of this type of business name is: if for any reason your business plan or products change, you can keep your business name and all the hard work you’ve put into it doesn’t have to be scrapped.  This was the case with Fair Ivy — the business concept has changed quite significantly since inception, but the name has been able to stay the same, due to it not particularly meaning anything at all. It can become whatever I want it to become!

Another potential PRO to this approach is that your business name can come to MEAN something completely new to your customers….like creating an entirely new word for a dictionary. Good examples are the companies Xerox and Kleenex.  Prior to these companies, the products for them were called copies and tissues—but now we can substitute the business name for the item itself, which means no-effort marketing.  Obviously these are extreme large-scale examples, but in your specific niche your customers can also come to adopt your name.

How do I choose this name?  

Well, you can always just brainstorm with friends and family members, or you could use a business name creator website such as Panabee.com which generates creative business names based on words you like, which should help you figure out what to name your company.

But before you settle on one, make sure the domain name is available for purchase—you can check domain availability on GoDaddy.com, which is where I register all my domain names. (Side note: GoDaddy also makes for a great hosting company—they are inexpensive and offer great phone customer service.  I’ll go into more detail about setting up your website later).

30% of GTLDs at GoDaddy!


 

 .

What to name your company – Approach 2: Descriptive Name

In this scenario you choose a business name that pretty much tells your audience what you’re selling, right in the name of your product.  So for Fair Ivy, had I gone this route we might have been called something like “Box a Month Subscription”.

The main PRO of this type of business is for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.  Which means that if someone were to type a search into google, and your company name was the search phrase (e.g. “Custom Screen Printed Shirts”), you’d have a lot easier of a time getting to the top of the returned results.

A second potential PRO to this approach is that if someday you decide to discontinue operating the business, the domain name and all it’s associated SEO strength might be able to be sold to someone new.

How do I choose this name?

If you really want to take advantage of the SEO potential, make sure you choose a name that isn’t already saturated or TOO desirable.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to sign up for a Google AdWords account.  It’s a bit of a pain to do at first, but worth it for a multitude of reasons, some of which I’ll discuss in later posts.  You don’t actually need to spend any money on Google Adwords if you don’t want to (I don’t, anymore).  What you’re looking for at the moment is use of Google’s Keyword Planner.

On the landing page of the Keyword Planner, you can type in a phrase you think might be a good start for your business name.  Enter any criterion you want (e.g. customer location, etc), and hit submit.

What you get is a page like this (click for a larger version):

What to Name Your Company: Tips for choosing a business name

 

You can mess around with some of the filters on the left, but the most important thing you’re looking for is something that has a decent number of monthly searches, but with a low competition rating.

For most of my blog posts, if I want them to show up in SEO without too much hassle on my end, I usually choose keywords that return 10-30 monthly searches, with low competition. Once I’ve made sure the post is SEO friendly, I just have to sit back and wait a few months for Google to do its page-crawling, and bam—I start getting visitors on my site who searched for the exact terms I planned them to.  10-30 monthly searches might be too low for you (it works for me because 10 visits a month x 10 or 100 blog posts starts adding up).  But if it’s your company name you can probably aim for slightly bigger fish, like over 500 a month.

I understand that this step might be tricky, so if you need any help at all feel free to drop me a line (lucyf@fairivy.com) and I can get you sorted out. 


That’s all I’ve got for you today folks!

I hope the above tips have been helpful in answering the big question of what to name your company.  Whether the name was created via a random business name generator or via carefully analyzed SEO research—take your time to discuss your final company name with friends and relatives, to review any potential problems or drawbacks.

Until next time—when I discuss starting to get your business online via domain registration and hosting plan setup.

What to name your company

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