Friday, July 22, 2011


I drove through Joplin last month on the way back from a wedding. I scribbled down some thoughts, and I just found them again tonight. Pictures are courtesy of my friend Katy, who took these pictures as we drove by.

"Piles of trash that once made up homes – furniture, clothing, the house itself. Standing trees stripped bare of leaves, patches of white where even the bark was ripped clean. Their arms, snapped to stubs, reach to the sky in silent plea for aid. A billboard is folded neatly in half like a sheet of paper instead of a tower of steel. Addresses written in spray paint shout from the remaining walls of houses, identifying the remnants. The streets are clean but lined in mounds of dirt and branches, twisted bars of metal, flakes of concrete, single cement blocks, shreds of cloth. There’s a car, windshield splintered into a spider web of cracks and hood pounded flat.

"I’m amazed at how things are so quickly converted to the all-encompassing word “rubble.” Whatever value they held, is, in an instant, obliterated. Family pictures, plasma screen televisions, heirloom dining room tables, laptops, Gucci jeans – once the tornado caught hold of them, they lost all shape, all substance, all worth. Everything is twisted and shredded and ground into a homogenous mess without use or purpose. Rubble.  It doesn’t matter what you paid for it, how many generations old it was, what it meant to you. Now, it’s nothing."
Kind of depressing, how easily things go from treasure to trash. Not to get didactic or terribly sappy, but it really did remind me to store up the kind of treasures that could make it through a tornado. Relationships are forever-kind of treasures--even if you lose the person you loved, you've got the happy times you went through. And, God willing, you haven't really lost them. Not permanently.

Hope - to believe that what's gone is not truly lost.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Etsy SEO Makes Me Work Very Hard

The summer doldrums are not just for sailors at sea; they also occur for many sellers on Etsy during the hot and languorous summer months when all their potential buyers are out changing the fragile pasty tone of their skin to a nice, crisp burn. That’s a good plug, right? *The sun gives you cancer; come back to Etsy!*

In an attempt to win the affections of the few remaining surfers who prefer to hang ten with their fingers on a keyboard and mouse, I’ve been perusing Etsy’s Search Engine Optimization guides, with discouraging realizations.

Apparently, in order to get attention from Google, one needs to name each item with the most descriptive titles in descending order of importance.

For instance, this title: “Fire, water, and bone earrings - carnelian, amazonite, and fish vertebrae” sucks. A cute and interesting first bit of the title will win you no friends, because nobody (okay, weirdo, hardly anybody) is looking for “fire water bone earrings” in Google.

I have yet to figure out exactly WHICH words are the best to put first in order to get the most results. Here’s the listing:

The materials are carnelian, amazonite, and fish bones. But do more people search for the names of gemstones, or their colors? Should I rename this “Blue and orange bone earrings” or “Carnelian and amazonite bone earrings” or maybe “Fish bone earrings with gemstone”?

This is where more research comes in, I guess. With 80 listings right now on Etsy, this is going to take a very. Long. Time.

I just hope it’s worth it.

Edit: I got help at the Sassy Critique Team headquarters, 

asking for guidance on this whole SEO listing process. Less than 24 hours later, I received a very helpful reply that has allowed me some relief in my SEO title confusion.
Here is part of the response, to better aid others with similar questions in their quest for better Search Engine Optimization.

“Hi HerWhimsy,

“Here is how I would title that item for better SEO...

“"Gemstone Earrings, Bone Fish Vertebrae Carnelian Amazonite, Orange White Silver"

“Forget the "and" "with" they take up valuable space needed for key words and don't help with searches at all.


“1) Item Titles: The title should be what a person would google to find the item (try to think like a buyer). The first 55 characters are pulled by search engines, so use them wisely. Fill them with descriptive keywords.

“It's important that the defining word (sign, photo, bracelet, etc.) be in the first 2-3 words. Be sure to add colors, materials, chain lengths, style notes, etc. People search with adjectives and descriptors a lot, so it's important to have them in your titles.

“Please do not use "names" for titles (like "Debra Handbag") - title should describe the handbag ("Cotton Slouch Handbag, Long Handles, Red Blue Black") Avoid punctuation and words like "a", "and", "the", "of" or "with".

“2) 6) Tags - Tagging is how your buyers (and treasury curators) find you! Remember to tag for colors too as those are the most common tags curators use when looking for treasury listings. Guidelines and tips on tagging: Etsy gives you 3 drop down menu tags and 13 tags that you supply to help your item get found. Be sure to use them all, or you could be missing out on opportunities to be found in Etsy searches. The more keywords you use, the more likely you are to be found. You can also tag your shop name. Once you use a word once you do not need to repeat it. Remember tag accurately with words that a buyer might use/search to find you.”

Good advice that I thought I'd pass on. Now I gotta get down to work. There are 80 listings that need lots of work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where the heck did all these owls come from?

It was a slow realization, dawning lightly on my consciousness as first a trickle, and then a gushing wall of OWL-themed merchandise that began deluging popular culture. My question came to be- why? Surely there are other, cuter animals out there that are not enjoying this torrent of publicity.

I haven’t seen even one potto-shaped ring, for instance. (I did a search to be sure. "Did you mean 'pearls?'"asked the search engine.)

Or tapirs! These are darling tube-nosed snufflers. To be fair, there were a few hits on my search for tapir-themed jewelry. Just a handful, compared to the 29,400 results that popped up on my “owl jewelry” search.

So what is it that has allowed the popularity of the owl to soar? In my eternal quest for knowledge, I galloped straight to the source of all wisdom – the internet. Through some forum-lurking and depressing Yahoo questions (honestly, my opinion of the average US citizen’s intelligence always falls a few numbers after too many minutes of browsing Yahoo questions), I found a handful of speculations, but no hard answers.

Speculation 1:
The influx of owls is due to the owls seen in the movies in the past few years – the Harry Potter series that began in 2001, and Legend of the Guardians more recently in 2010.
Speculation 2:
Owls were huge in the 70’s, and now they’ve resurfaced, like leggings and all sorts of things that seem to fade and return in cycles over the decades.
Speculations 3 (by far the most popular):
I don’t know why owls are so popular, but aren’t they so cute?! I freaking love/adore/am married to an owl, so I’m just super hipster happy that they’re around for me to buy!!!

Now, my confession: I have allowed myself, if not to be swept up in this craze, than at least to be lazily carried along in some of the class 1 rapids. That is to say, I’ve utilized owls in a few of my jewelry pieces recently – but not, I ardently defend myself, because I’m a slave to pop culture or the masses or whatever devious force is churning out owls at the speed of greyhound.

*Takes a moment to collect excuses*
My sister likes owls. So, I make them thinking of her.  And some of them can be cute. And sometimes, goshdarnit, you just need to create with an owl!

*Puts head in hands*