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Hello!! Welcome to this weeks Crafty Connections! Each and every week I scour the interwebs and gather the best tutorials, tips, and informative links to help with your handmade craft business. In addition, I’ll post links to cool crafty DIY projects, and blogs I think are worth following. I hope you enjoy this weeks links!

  • Etsy Shop SEO {Video Tutorial}
    Vive la Couleur Frame Collection, 4 pcsThis in-depth demonstration and the video lasts 22 minutes, but the tips could prove to be very valuable to you in the long-run, so if you have questions about how to optimize your site for search engines, you’ll find this video really helpful.
  • Marketing Campaign for Craft Show Vendors
    amazing display
    If you thought all you needed to do was show up with your folding table, handmade goodies and a smile you were wrong. Well not wrong, but maybe not utilizing the show for its full marketing potential like you should…
  • Blog Tracking
    How to increase your exposure on blogs by getting organized.

If you know of any good handmade craft marketing resources I should include in the next Crafty Connections post please don’t hesitate to email me, or leave the link(s) in the comments section! I would love to be able to share these great resources with everyone! Also, are these links helpful to you? Let me know! I appreciate the feedback!!!! Thank you so much!

-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Hello!!!! St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner (March 17th) Yay!!! I always get a little reminiscent around this time– it was the day after St. Patrick’s Day (1998) that I went on my trip to Ireland. What an amazingly beautiful country! I would LOVE to go back, this time with my trusty camera instead of a jerky boyfriend (who ended the relationship while we were there) and have the opportunity to capture the countries beauty on film…

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful and safe St. Patrick’s Day celebration and enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day themed gems that I found!

spring green heart felts ornaments set of 4 / eco friendly upcycled love decorations spring green heart felts ornaments set of 4 / eco friendly upcycled love decorations

Wednesday Inspiration- St. Patrick's Day

1. Sterling Silver Necklace – Shamrock Clover

2. 7 Crochet Shamrocks by SJ and Joe

3. Saint Patrick’s Day Baby Booties / Slippers – Green Shamrock

4. Warm Cable Scarf – Grass Green

5. IRISH Hearts – St. Patricks Day BOGO SALE – Two gorgeous wave-turned beach-stone hearts decorated with beautiful green shamrocks.

6. Summer Greens Batik Cathedral Window Pillow Cover – 18 Inches

7. Real Four Leaf Clover Inlaid

8. 12 St Patrick’s Day Edible Glitter Shamrock Fondant Cupcake Topper for St Patty’s Day

9. Green Rosette Headband

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

I am beginning to feel like a broken record (and here it is again) I am so ready for winter to be over. We’re teased with sunshine today and it looks deceptively nice out, but it’s still really really cold… I am really looking forward to longer days, warmer weather, and many consecutive days of sunshine! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these bright and sunny finds from etsy!

Felted Wool Acorns in Lemon YellowFelted Wool Acorns in Yellow Lemon

Wednesday Inspiration- Sunshine

1. Pettiskirt Bubble Romper – Sunshine Yellow

2. Bit of Sunshine- Sterling silver and golden yellow chalcedony necklace

3. sunshine gingham – yellow check fabric button post earrings

4. Vintage Pear Stone Coasters – Set of 6

5. THINK HAPPY. BE HAPPY – Inspiring 8×10 inch Print

6. Sunshine – 5×7 Fine Art Print – BOGO Sale

7. Sunshine Party Thank You Tags (PRINTABLE)

8. Lemongrass Poppy Seed – Handcrafted Exfoliating Shea Butter Soap

9. Lemon Sugar Cookie-Wiches -1/2 Dozen

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Hello! Happy Wednesday! Oh man, I am so ready for spring. Last week we were teased with near 60degree weather. That was so awesome! The mountains of snow were finally starting to melt… Fast forward one week– more snow. Okay, so yesterday was a mere dusting compared to the nearly two feet we received a few weeks ago, but seriously? I am so so so tired of the snow and cold weather. I did see a little robin outside my apartment last week so that gives me hope that spring is just around the corner…. I hope you enjoy some of the awesome robin-themed finds from across etsy! I hope spring is starting in your neck of the woods!

Little Robin Zipper PouchLittle Robin Zipper Pouch

Wednesday Inspiration- Robin

1. French Script Pillow Cover “Robin” from Gathered Comforts

2. Mod Bird and Silver Nest with Turquoise Eggs

3. Robins on a Branch Brass Filigree Bird Necklace Vintage Style Altered Art

4. Our Nest – The Perfect Little Sign to Help You Feather Your Nest in Robins Egg Blue

5. Round Robin – 8×10 Art Print of my Original Watercolor Painting

6. Fine Art Print. Nesting In Numbers. Sepia Photograph

7. Red Robin Bird Felt Clippie

8. Gray Autumn- rustic fall inspired soft gray and burgundy with a pop of crimson red photograph of a robin in the woodlands of Chicago- Fine Art Nature Photograph- 8×8

9. Robin Birds Garland Handmade of Muslin Fabric

Thanks for checking out all these great etsy shops!!! Have a great day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Wow! What a snow storm! So far, we’ve received a little over 20 inches of snow in the Chicago area. Some suburbs have received up to 23 inches. It’s officially the third largest blizzard since Chicago began keeping records more than 120 years ago. And it isn’t quite over yet. There’s still a chance of lake effect snow. It was so crazy last night– not only was it snowing sideways and complete white-out conditions, there was thunder and lightning too. Winds were fierce at 50-70 mph at times and people were stuck in their cars for hours on Lake Shore Drive last night.

Today, my poor car is completely buried and there are snow drifts up to the windows… Yeah, I’m not going anywhere for a while. Chicago is essentially shut down. So today I’m working from home (and shopping!) I hope you are someplace warm and safe and enjoy today’s blizzard inspired finds from etsy!

BOGO SALE Cardinal in the Snow

Wednesday Inspiration- Blizzard

1. White winter hymnal – An ethereal winter fine art photograph – Winter wonderland

2. SALE ONE WHOPPIN COWL In NEUTRAL CREAM

3. 8×10 Winter Ice Cream Photograph

4. nor’easter no. 4 / original painting on canvas

5. BLIZZARD SALE: 60% OFF ORIGINAL PRICE Fingerless Gloves with Black Eyelash Cuffs – Hand Knit

6. A BEST SELLER Wool Felted Acorn Ornaments – Set of 12 in Winter White

7. Blizzard – White Rose Ring

8 Massive Pom Pom Hat in Dark Grey

9. blizzard a 8×10 fine art winter scene nature photograph

Hope you have a warm day!
-april
www.creativeapples.etsy.com

remember my contest from last week? Well, I have some winners!!!
First of all, thank you everyone for your input about witch cupcake to add to my etsy shop!. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments!!! The cupcake that received the most votes was cupcake number 3!

Happy Birthday Cupcake Trio Greeting Card
You can buy it here
http://www.etsy.com/listing/66981828/happy-birthday-cupcake-trio-greeting

Now, for the part you’ve been waiting for– the winner of a a set of five new cupcake greeting cards is
random number winner
creativeapples contest winner

Thank you soooooo much Tiina!!!

And thanks again to everyone for your help!!!!

Hi! I am so happy to be able to introduce you to a super nice and talented jewelry designer, Amy from amyholtondesigns.

I love Amy’s natural, easy, and feminine style. Her love of nature is imbued in each and every piece. And the COLOR! I’m just so in love with the turquoise and the different color sapphires. (really? I had no idea that sapphires came in anything other than blue!)

Featured Handmade Artist- AmyholtondesignsLOVE this piece.

Here are a few other pieces from Amy’s shop that I love
Featured Handmade Artist- Amyholtondesigns

Hi Amy! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Amy Holton, a tried and true Texas girl born in San Antonio. I lived for a few years in the Philippines, returned to the U.S. (Virginia), then lived most of my life in and just outside of Houston. I now live in Austin (hands-down the best city in Texas) with my husband. I inherited four amazing stepchildren, two here in Austin and two in England (my husband’s English).

Despite a long artistic background, I actually studied finance at the University of Texas and was a research analyst for Enron in my former life. After I was laid off with 4500 of my closest friends in December 2001, making jewelry became a bit of an obsession for me. When we moved to Austin in 2007, I was able to focus on building my business full-time.

What is the first craft project you remember making?

One Christmas, when we lived in Virginia, I remember sitting around the table as a family painting wooden Christmas ornaments. My mom is very crafty too! I was probably about 4 years old.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Countless places! Sometimes I surprise myself with what gives me an idea for a new piece. Fashion obviously, a beautiful neckline that just has to have the perfect necklace. Also books I’ve read, period films, architecture, artwork and nature (I know…everyone says that, but it’s true). Colors translate into gemstones for me and can therefore find inspiration in just about anything. Just checking Pantone’s color trends for each season can give me countless ideas!

Can you please describe a little of your creative process?

Call me strange, but I really enjoy fiddly, tedious projects, so this is right up my alley. Not to mention, what a beautiful medium to work in! I really enjoy the creative process, which for me is sometimes very structured, but more often very organic. Designs emerge and change as I work. I often purchase gemstones just because they appeal to me, not always because I have a design in mind for them. This can be very dangerous (and expensive!) but they eventually find their way into one of my designs.

What is your most prized handmade possession?

A quilt made by my paternal grandmother. I never saw her sew and she never seemed the type to, but I know she made this and one other small quilt. I this quilt was my favorite when we would stay with my grandparents as kids. It’s made up of white blocks with pale yellow borders. Each block has a large gingham butterfly in the center, outlined in black embroidery. When my parents went to help prepare my grandparents house to put on the market after my grandmother’s death, they asked me if there was any particular item I wanted. Immediately…the butterfly quilt was my answer. Despite our contemporary décor, the butterfly quilt lives in the window seat of our bedroom.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

Be persistent and take advantage of the wealth of advice on Etsy, not only from the staff, but also from the community. Etsy sellers are so supportive of each other. Also, be patient. Success isn’t simply a matter of posting some items and the orders start rolling in. As with anything worth doing, it takes work. Utilize social networking and get your name out wherever you can.

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

Do you have enough room in your blog for this answer ?! Promotion alone can be a full-time undertaking!

My main website is my own at http://amyholtondesigns.com

Of course, I also have my Etsy shop and I’m also on Zibbet and ArtFire.

Flickr is a great place to keep a profile of new designs as well as an archive of retired pieces.

I have my wholesale line sheet on Trunkt.

I think a Facebook Business Page is essential for keeping customers and potential customers informed as well as for networking with other designers, suppliers, etc.

I’ve made some really good friends and connections through Twitter. From other artists and Etsy sellers to fashion designers, photographers and people in the know in the fashion world, it’s a great place to connect. I love my tweeps and I love interacting with my followers! You can find me at http://twitter.com/AmyHoltonDesign (You have to drop the ‘S’ in Designs. Twitter doesn’t allow quite enough characters to fit my entire name).

I use my blog in lieu of an e-mail marketing campaign and also to connect on a more personal level. I think when you’re buying from an independent artist, it’s nice to know a bit about them personally as well. My blog is currently divided into three parts. One highlighting new designs, and some creative struggles under the section “In the Works at AHD” and another as an avenue to share the works of other artists in “Etsy Love.” I also include a bit about me under “In the Life Of…

I know people often ask to be added to mailing lists and then regret it (I’m guilty as well). This way, they can follow my blog in a number of ways as they choose, whether it’s through Facebook, Google Reader, Twitter, or RRS feeds. Plus, I find it’s a bit more personal way to keep in touch.

What are three websites you couldn’t live without.

Only three?! I’m starting to think my laptop is permanently attached to my body…
Facebook (because it’s just so great for networking)
Google Analytics (It’s that corporate background! I like data )
I have to say Flickr because it’s such a great portfolio and archive.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I hope to expand the brand and be represented in many more boutiques both stateside and internationally. While I’ll never go mass-produced, I’d certainly take on a small staff to help fulfill orders and
keep things going. Of course, the designs will remain my own. I don’t think I could ever step away from
creating.

if you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

The shallow answer is to complete tasks simply by wishing them done.

The deeper answer is to have the power to bring back loved ones I’ve lost in my life, if just for a day…or to know for sure they see me as I am today, happy with my husband and stepchildren, content in my lifestyle
and doing something I love. I’m very close to my family. I regret that my husband never met three of my grandparents (though he did ask my paternal grandfather for permission to marry me) and many other family
members he’s heard so much of, but never had the opportunity to meet. Same with my stepkids. They’re as close to my family as they are their biological family and there are so many people I wish they could have met.

(Wow! Thank you so much Amy! I should have asked how you find all the time to promote your creations! I am impressed and inspired to check out venues such as zibbet and trunkt now…)

I hope you have a chance to visit Amy’s shop on etsy and stop by her blog and some of her other social media outlets!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/amyholtondesigns

Hello! Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s minds over here at work. We’re planning special Valentine’s Day themed emails to send to our customers and folks are talking about what they’re buying for their significant other. Someone even brought in cute heart shaped marshmallows (they are pretty tasty!)

If you haven’t picked up anything for your significant other or yourself (hey– you’re allowed!) check out this weeks heart shaped inspiration from all over etsy!

Valentine's Day Monkey Amigurumi
Valentine’s Day Monkey Amigurumi

Wednesday Inspiration- Heart

1. Sweet Little Valentine Dachshund

2. Love paperie a garland of handcut hearts

3. ITTY BITTY Bite Size VALENTINE Heart Sugar Cookies, 8 Dozen

4. Love Birds Applique Onesie or tshirt

5. 40 Valentine RED Cardstock Hearts . 1.5 inch

6. Dopamine Molecule Heart Pin

7. BOGO Made With Love 8×10 Photography Print

8. Sushi Dish Set with Hearts (KISS – Linen White)

9. DESIGNER Hand Knit Baby Valentine Hat ORIGINAL Pixie Cap Red Hearts

I live across the street from a forest preserve and every day I see lots and lots of deer. These deer are so tame they eat out of peoples hands. I drove past the forest preserve this morning and saw them grazing in the cleaning and I thought to myself (as I often do) “wow– that would make an awesome photo– I’ve got to come back here and take some pictures!” (I’ve been saying this for the past few years…)

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these Woodland Critter finds from all over etsy!

Wednesday Inspiration- Woodland Critters

1. Wee Woodland Wuzzies Knitting Pattern

2. Sweet Foxy brooch – Free Worldwide shipping

3. Fox Woodland Mittens – Handknit Cream Fingerless Gloves

4. Woodland Animals – Set of Three Wooden Toys

5. Woodland Deer Necklace

6. Large fox trivet in Green Felt by peppersprouts

7. Set of 2 Art Prints on Wood, DG MINIs Norway Cabin

8. Orwell Clutch – Penny Copper Squirrel Purse

9. The Persnickety Opossum Print 8.5 in x 11 in

Hello! Happy Monday!
This weekend just flew by! Went to the Field Museum Saturday afternoon which was awesome. My only complaint was that I didn’t get to spend enough time there. You seriously need to allot the WHOLE day (and even then, you still will not be able to see the whole museum!) and pack some extra Wheaties to prevent fatigue. Unfortunately, I had neither the extra time OR energy snack food. That’s okay though–I’ll just have to go again. (Oh darn! Another afternoon that will be wasted at the museum…)

I also picked up some very very tasty cupcakes and Valentine’s Day candy and had an incredibly productive photography session Sunday afternoon. I’m so excited! I added this brand new Red Velvet Cupcake Greeting Card to my etsy shop:

Red Velvet Dream Cupcake Greeting Card
(yes, this cupcake was absolutely divine!)

I’m having an incredibly difficult time picking out what other cupcake(s) I should add to my shop. I NEED your help!!!! Can you please take a look at my four top choices and leave me a comment with the number of the cupcake image that you like the best. I totally appreciate your thoughts and ideas!!!

As a thank you gift for your comment/opinion, I will pick one entry at random and send them a greeting card (or two!) with the winning cupcake image!

Cupcake 1: Red Velvet Trio

Cupcake 2: Red Velvet Group

Cupcake 3: Three Wishes

Cupcake 4: Make a Wish
Please be sure to leave me your name and an email address so I can contact you if you win!

I will be accepting comments for this poll until Sunday, January 23rd. I will post the winner on Monday, January 24th!!! Good luck and THANK YOU!!!!

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