Monday, March 23, 2009

The Project Wonderful Online Advertising Experiment

The mystery of online advertising...if you love to surf online blogs and web sites of artisans and crafters, or even the online comic crowd, you have the opportunity to see ads that are distributed through Project Wonderful (PW).

PW, as it is abbreviated, is an online ad auction that is so automated that even those who are not online savvy can use it and is a great way to dip your toe into the online advertising waters. Although there are groups of all kinds using PW, the main groups targeted are online artists, handcrafters, designers, gamers and online web comics.

Project Wonderful itself states, “Project Wonderful reinvents online advertising. We've made click fraud impossible. We give advertisers the power to choose what sites their ads appear on - and publishers the freedom to choose what ads show up on their sites..."

In contrast, if you have ever used the Google Ad Sense program, you know that you cannot request your earned money until your account reaches $100. PW allows withdrawal of funds $10 and above. In addition, Google makes the majority of decisions for you as to what shows on your site, whereby PW allows you, the advertiser or publisher, to have complete control on where your ads are placed or which ads you put on your pages.

In these last few months, I experimented with PW as a clueless, new-to-online-advertising newbie for my GalleriaLinda online shop, as well as recently for the Indie CEO blog. Boy, did I learn a lot from the experience.

I started placing ads on my jewelry blog, GalleriaLindaShowcase, starting January 1, 2009. In about 4 weeks, I had $6 in my account. It grew to about $15 by the end of February. Feeling confident, I decided to use the money to pay for GalleriaLinda advertising instead of withdrawing it.

There are several predetermined sizes of graphic ads you can create, the most popular being the 125x125 pixel size ads. I created my very own GalleriaLinda ad, uploaded it, selected blogs to host my ad, and placed bids. If you want a 125x125 pixel animated ad – you can create one at GifMake.

Things I learned as an advertiser:

  • Pay attention to your ad clicks (there are “performance” reports for you to check).
  • If you go for the free ads, then it is no worry - may as well keep it there. If you are paying, then you make decisions to keep your ad on a specific site or delete the bid based upon the ratio of unique site traffic vs. the number of clicks you get.
  • It is easy to find places for your ad that have $0 cost and is a great way to try this without spending money. This means that your ad can be placed for no money but your ad may show only off and on, depending upon the bids for those slots. The ad boxes fluctuate in bid pricing all day long!
  • FREE ad space is allowed only for a two-day time so you will have to manually renew every two days if you wish. If you bid actual money, you can designate the time from a day to unlimited.
  • It IS possible to get free ad space on a site with significant traffic, but it will be only for a short while. Most free spots are on sites that have minimal traffic.
  • If you are picky about where your ad is seen, you have control, although it takes time to do a keywords search and handpick those you want.
  • If you are not so picky about where your ads are seen, you can do a campaign using search terms, and “let ‘er rip.”

Things I learned as a publisher:

  • Build it and they do not automatically come! Like anything else online, this takes promotion, traffic numbers, and dedication to make this work well for you.
  • PW ad campaigns from others will automatically find your ad box if your box description fits the key words and fits the traffic criteria setup by the ad owners.
  • When setting up your ad box, good key words are critical.
  • Your web page or blog where your ad box is displayed needs to have traffic in order to attract a flow of ad placements. You must promote your page and update it frequently to bring up those traffic numbers. The more frequent you update, the more traffic you will have that may capture more ad campaigns automatically.
  • Ways to promote your web pages and blogs can be found in the Indie CEO “Blogging is an Art” series.

To get a good feel for the process, here is a great tutorial on using Project Wonderful posted by TimothyAdamDesigns.

It is FUN to see your very own little ad showing on someone else’s web page!

If you want to learn the process, you can try out PW by placing ads manually by searching for $0 ads and paying attention to traffic counts for learning and understanding. This will help you understand the process. Alternately, you can place an ad box on your site and wait for funds to collect to use for your own ad placement. Or, deposit money right away into a PW account and go for it!

GalleriaLinda's ad boxes where you can place your ads are available at:
GalleriaLindaShowcase blog
IndieCEO blog - see the right side of this article

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Product Descriptions: Writing for Different Media

Even though most of you who are reading this blog are online sellers, you will find these writing tips useful for product descriptions for a variety of media. You never know when an opportunity arises for you to participate in radio or TV spots, or other media. Be prepared!

Below are a few of the differences in writing for specific media that requires you to tweak your product descriptions.

Online Listings
  • Writing for online use requires that you be nimble and quick, using solid keywords, and brevity.

  • Online shoppers give you a split second to convince them to click further. This means that your copy should be short, concise, easy to understand, and complete in every way.

  • Online buyers cannot touch your product, smell it, see it in person, inspect it, or hear it. All that web shoppers have to convince them to buy your product are your words and your photos.

TV Shopping Shows

  • There was a time when TV shopping was met with significant skepticism. How can anyone buy from a TV picture? We have proven that we, as a people, will buy in any format!

  • Unlike writing for online listings where brevity is key, your product descriptions for TV presentations will be expanded.

  • You will think about the on-air time segment of your product and allow for very little dead air space. Provide as many keywords and descriptive phrases as you can to work with in writing for the show so talk can flow.

Print Catalogs

  • When writing for a print catalog, the key is the structure of the information. The catalog company will likely have a boilerplate template that you will need to fill in, including the description.

  • Limited character counts will mean you need to be brief while presenting the overview of your product.

  • Each catalog will have their own style that you will use.

Radio Ads or Presentations

  • Writing for the radio media is a whole different process. You will not have the benefit of an image of your product.

  • Your potential customer must listen and use their imagination from the words you use and the expressive voice that narrates.

  • It is important to bring in the feelings and emotions about your product, as well as the basic information. This can be done with a script between two people or a lone narrator.

  • Do your research and listen to other radio presentations for products similar to yours.


  • Billboards that tout products are the most visual of these media.

  • More image, less text.

  • Your text needs to be very targeted, concise, and short.

  • Billboard advertising often sports short catchy phrases with interesting images that stick with you.

Digital Slide Presentations

  • A digital slide presentation, produced with software such as PowerPoint, may be in your future as well.

  • You can make slide presentations suitable for emailing to others. Sometimes, juried art shows will require some sort of overview where this may be appropriate.

  • Slides are small billboards.

  • Using images and short text, you can be sure your message is the combination of both.

  • Do not fill up a slide with text. This is not the purpose of this media.

It is fun to think about how these opportunities might come your way! I hear of many artists and crafters having interviews on local TV or radio. It can happen!

Think about how you might use your imagination to express the qualities of your great product.

Writing a full descriptive product sheet will allow you to pull from that for creating the exact style and content that you need for any of them. Even a list of bullet points made out once you finish your product will be invaluable!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Product Descriptions: Introduction

As artists, crafters, and designers, many of us can be challenged with the business of business. Oh, if we could only create and not have to tend to those things such as accounting, shipping, taxes, and copywriting!

When selling products online or in the real world, product descriptions become critical to your overall selling strategy. They are the gears that makes the marketing wheels turn.

As a handcrafted jewelry designer with my own GalleriaLinda shop, I have noticed from my searches online that independent designers, crafters, and artists, especially have difficulty in understanding how to describe, title, and promote products through their writing styles and descriptions in their listings.

You know that content is the key to being searched and found online. There is a balance, however, to offering descriptions that will satisfy online searches while giving your buyer the information they need quickly.

I can’t address product descriptions without mentioning the importance of product photos. Product photos work either with your descriptions or against them. More on that subject later.

I found a variety of approaches to writing product descriptions. They seem to fall into five categories:

  • The technical – no matter the product, all you get is size, materials, color, and use in the description, if even that much
  • The story teller – will spin a creative and interesting tale that swirls around the product to enchant you but may leave you without real information
  • The disorganized – throws information darts and misses the board altogether
  • The creative – describes the product with flourish and marketing spin – much of which may be extraneous
  • The “got it together” – has description, technical information, and titles working together with appropriate keywords and provides all the information needed for one to decide to buy the product

Which one are you?

If you are serious about improving your product descriptions, the first thing to do is research, read, and ponder. Here are a few tips that will help you research:

  • Research the top online sellers of similar products to yours and read their descriptions. Be sure to research many selling venues and not just the one that you are using, as they each have a different “flavor.” This will give you a broader view into your product descriptions.
  • Grab a few printed catalogs that include products like yours and read it from cover to cover. What you gain from print media expands to not only the descriptive elements, but also photography styles and description structure.
  • Note things that you want to avoid and note those things that you would want to include in your own product descriptions. These could be key words, format, or writing style.

Think about this and check back, as there is more to come in this interesting series!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Know Your Selling Venues:

Continuing an ongoing series of "Know Your Venues," I wanted to present the online Canadian handmade selling venue Over a year old, iCraft is beginning to make a name for itself in the online handmade community. Still new in "online business" years, it has made great strides to service both sellers and buyers in its short time.

From personal experience, I truly love this site for many reasons, one of which is that iCraft accepts only handmade items direct from the artist. No reseller items, reseller supplies, or vintage...just handmade. If you made it with your own two hands, you can sell it on iCraft. This makes for a very focused ambiance as you enter the site and targets a specific audience.

The front page of iCraft is classy. Recently, the very top banner that highlights handmade items was added and has enhanced the professionalism of the sellers. It is a flash presentation of close-up photos of featured items that changes and is designed into their own iCraft identity look.

Recently-listed items become a part of the "flash" parade in the next section. The items stay on the flash presentation for a couple of days as the flash parade pages march on to include every listed item.

Below the flash parade is another flash presentation of iCraft-selected items to be featured. The flash featured presentation changes every few seconds so a lot of great handmade items are included and they are changed out frequently to include as many sellers as possible.

Some of the features I like as a seller on iCraft include:
  • One page listing form - this is a great time saver

  • Select all photos before upload - another time saver

  • Choice of selling in $USD or $CAD

  • Clone feature - copy a listing, change a little, and is useful for listing similar items

  • Each listing's status has a choice of "Live," "Reserve," or "On Hold"

  • The reserve feature is genius. You can place an item on reserve and send a link to your customer - no one else sees it so there is no stressing about someone else purchasing it

  • No restrictions on tagging - tag away for those key words that would best suit your item - any number of them

  • For vacation mode, you just put all items on hold

  • Ability to bump up your item in the searches by editing the listing - this is free

  • Ability to "relist" your item so it shows up in the "just listed" flash parade - this is free

  • No other fees other than your monthly fee - iCraft has several very reasonable price plans available - if you are a US seller, be sure to convert the CAD to USD - right now it is a little less in $USD but the exchange rate does change from day to day

  • If you are not able to purchase a paid plan, you can have full access to the site, a shop, and are able to have 5 live listings for free - you may set up as many as you want in your back office and rotate a selected group of 5 live listing if you wish

  • iCraft referral promotion - this is Win/Win for both! Once you pay your registration fee through a referral, YOU receive 6 free months - to benefit, you must use a referral code. GalleriaLinda's referral code is 1c28439c38

Things iCraft is working on that I miss and can't wait to be rolled out include a shop widget and expanded shop stats. Included now are views of shop visits and views of individual item. These features are in the works.

iCraft has impressed me with their methodical planning and roll out. Features rolled out work the first time and this goes a long way with me.

As a marketing professional, I understand that it is easier to get to your target audience if you know who it is and where to find them. To market to only those who love handmade makes marketing much easier! I see ways they promote the site. Using Twitter, each listing is automatically tweeted. How great is that? They are also on IndiePublic, Facebook, Kaboodle, TeamSugar, and Flickr. You can read some of iCraft's featured articles online here.

iCraft is recommended from my positive experience as a seller on the site. It is worth a look if you are interested in a selling venue for handmade.