{TUTORIAL} You Get What You Give

When it comes to blogging, selling, twittering, listing, and overall participating on the internet, it can be hard to get that "feedback" feeling. You work hard on something, hit the "submit" button, and then just let go, knowing it's out there in the internet-sphere. But then what? Well, that was my immediate obsession when I began this process of getting onto the internet with my photography. Now, by no means do I consider myself already an expert, but I have found some really neat tools on the internet to not only help keep track of my progress but also keep the internet FUN (can't always be about WORK, ya know?). So, here goes - some of my favorite top internet tools/websites/tips I am using.


This site can either induce large amounts of productivity or happily waste away your time on the internet, so proceed with caution. There's your warning. . . .now the fun part. Basically, you create a profile and it asks you what types of topics interest you. Once you have selected all of your favorite topics, it then gives you a "Stumbleupon" icon to click. Essentially, this button is like rolling the dice on the internet and, according to your topics, displays one random site, page, photo, etc, at a time for your perusal. You can either give it a thumbs up or down and the more you "stumble" the internet, the better the sites it returns will be. Like I said, this can either be incredibly productive as it introduced me to tons of wonderful photography sites, photos, crafters, DIY'ers to follow on Twitter or with my blog reader (more on that later) but then it also finds very funny and entertaining items as well. It is rare it returns something I feel truly deserves a thumbs down, so that also helps keep me interested. A plus? You can add sites that you feel would be great for other stumblers (Maybe your own work? Come on, you have to be your own biggest fan, right?).

Craftcult Heart-O-Matic

Craftcult's Heart-O-Matic tool is a must have for any Etsy seller. The website itself has several features, which includes many Etsy artists through the Treasury West feature as well as the advertisements throughout the site. The Heart-o-matic is what I go to every day. As a seller, Etsy easily can show you who "hearts" your shop and individual items but you have to click through several screens one at a time to get the info. When you go to Craftcult's Heart-O-Matic, it is an all in one convenient place to track your store's latest heart's, individual items which have recently received hearts, and also tracks the view count of the store.

Google Analytics

Wanna know how many people are visiting your site each day, clicking on certain pages, what items are getting the most hits, what countries the visitors are from, and more? Google Analytics gives you all of this and much much more. It can be pretty overwhelming when you first start using it but with some basic information, you can get a lot of use from this. I highly suggest reading this Google Analytics Tutorial that Senioritis posted recently. It covers the basics of Google Analytics much better than I can, so why reinvent the wheel?


If you've ever wondered how people can follow all these blogs out there and not just have a billion bookmarts, Netvibes is one of the answers to this. It allows you to keep every blog you follow in one tidy location. I know there are many other "RSS Readers" out there, like Google Reader, but I personally like the multi-functionality of Netvibes and how it lets you edit it to a view that works best for you. I definitely like a lot of options. If you're not that blog savvy, essentially an RSS reader (Netvibes, Google Reader, etc) lets you subscribe anonymously to a blog, so you don't add to the e-mail clutter. Just look for the RSS Icon, click on it (while logged into Netvibes) and it will subscribe you to that blog, subsequently allowing you to get all the updated posts in one place.

Flickr Groups

I love Flickr. I will admit, when I first signed on I was insanely overwhelmed at the amount of stuff on there. I didn't know where to begin and essentially became paralyzed by all the options. It all started to unfold and work for me when I started joining the groups on Flickr. I looked up several topics and just went from there. I added pictures, commented on other people's photos in the groups and it just kept growing. It helped me feel like I "belonged" and wasn't such a small teensy tiny drop in the crazy large ocean of photos on Flickr. Let me remind you, you don't have to be a photographer to enjoy Flickr. Anyone who enjoys seeing originality, creativity, and artistry will enjoy perusing Flickr. There are some people on there doing amazing things with Photoshop, Iphones, cameras, and more. I find inspiration there every single time I log on.

Etsy Treasury

The Etsy Treasury feature allows sellers on Etsy to curate galleries, per say, of other sellers' items based on a theme. Some theme examples include colors, events, vintage styles, holidays, and many many more. Honestly, the options are infinite. Etsy's own description of the feature is "Treasury is Etsy's ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery. Create and share lists of items. Beautiful, diverse lists may be featured on Etsy's home page." The benefits of the Treasury swing both ways. A visually interesting theme encourages shopping and helps sellers be featured. The benefits are great. The negative is there are SO MANY treasuries out there, so your Treasury can get buried pretty quickly if you rely only on setting it up and people randomly finding it. You have to advertise, spread the word, and also notify the sellers whose items you have featured so they can spread the word. This is a time where you DON'T want to toot your own horn. The Treasury is a time to showcase others and spread the love. It's always better to give than to just take all the time.


The general opinion about Twitter is that people either LOVE it or HATE it (actually - more like find it utterly useless). I like Twitter and I feel it is a great medium for passing along cool information, quickly. That being said, it can be weird to have a lot of perfect strangers "following" you and people randomly find your profile all the time. It is totally up to you on how public or private you want to be. I, personally, find it really fun to read and interact with the other users who share my interests and how to find those people is the fun part. You can use the "search" option on the far right of your homepage and type in certain keywords (like Etsy or photography) and it will return people whose profile include those words in the description or whose tweets include those keywords. Then you can wander through the results and see who is posting things that seem of interest. It can be really fast paced and if you don't log on for more than a day you can miss A LOT of stuff. I will admit, that is the part I that is taking the longest to get used to but having the application on my phone helps.


I am still torn about using Facebook for promoting my photography. It's very easy to use and makes getting the information out there a breeze but you can easily cross the line from sharing to spamming and since almost all of the people following me on Facebook are friends and family, I really don't want to annoy everyone. So, for me, the jury is still out but it is very convenient as well, since I also use Facebook for personal use. The good thing is, it does allow my friends and family to voluntarily follow my updates and if they are no longer interested, they can disconnect from my photography profile but yet still be "friends" with me on normal Facebook. Hopefully, it won't get to that point.


Of everything I can think of to recommend, participation is my number one key item. It is so very true that you get what you give and out there on the internet is no different. I try as much as possible to respond, comment, share, and pass along what other people are saying/doing. I go into the forums of the websites I read and discover plenty of other people doing the same as me who have great advice to give. If you just sit there and constantly promote yourself but never interact with anyone else, it will come across as impersonal and contrived. More consumers nowadays want personality along with a personal touch. If they want a big business feel, people can get in their cars and drive to Wal-mart, but many are going against the impersonal feel of Wal-mart and choosing to spend their money on individual, hand-crafted, & made with blood/sweat/tears items so their homes/lives can be an extension of their personality. That's where you, as an artist, come in. You also have to bring your personality into your work and business ideal or this will all become NO FUN, and that's no way to live. Put yourself out there - again, you get what you give.

I know this is in no way a complete and final list of tools to use on the internet and look forward to finding many more as my business grows and shapes itself to the future. I am definitely open to more suggestions. I only hope that any beginner out there would read this and feel they are setting up a really good foundation of ways to interact with the world of the internet.


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