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GCU Community Newsletter – May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011


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Issue #3

SPRING HAS SPRUNG (AND SO HAS MY HAYFEVER)

Welcome to the latest edition of the GCU Community Newsletter.

In addition to my usual eclectic mix of cards selling this time of year at Greeting Card Universe, I’ve seen Nurse’s Day and Mother’s Day coming through my sales reports, and I’ve already started getting orders for Father’s Day (June 19). So far, I’m finding the majority of my sales are earning the normal commission rate. While I make some coupon sales each day, it’s not dominating my earnings report so far, thank goodness. What are you experiencing with GCU’s new Groupon and Plum District coupon campaign?

FYI:I had a shopper make a request for personalized birthday invitations and thank you cards – 100 cards in total.

Hidden Gems: Mothers Day - May 8 - Gina Minton Kearns

After a little back and forth, she told me that since she lived in the UK, she thought the cards would be way too expensive to ship from the U.S. Aha! I was able to let her know that GCU has a printing partner in the UK. I checked the price per card and the shipping charge, and used an on-line currency converter to tell her the price of her order in British pounds at that day’s rate. Turns out it wasn’t as expensive as she thought. The moral of the story? GCU’s new UK based printing partner means shipping costs to European shoppers may be more affordable than they imagine.

On to the other stuff! Last week, our Nuts & Bolts feature on Storefront Banner design explained why it’s important to make a good first impression on shoppers. In a brand new feature, Promotion in Motion, we learned about using social bookmarks to help promote your art, and what no follow/do follow links mean to you. The talented Doreen gave us A Dash of Inspiration – a Cup of Creativity about infrared photography – very interesting! And Ernestine Grindal was in the Design Spotlight with the sweetest Mother’s Day card you’ve ever seen.

Keep up the good work, and don’t forget to pass the love around!

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Sharing the Love

Once you start a blog and begin making regular posts (I recommend once a week or twice a month – you don’t want people to think you’ve abandoned your project or you aren’t serious about your blog), you’ll want to do things to attract more traffic to your blog.

Why? Because if you’re smart – and I know you are – you’ve already decided to use your blog as a vehicle to promote yourself and the art you’re trying to sell (such as greeting cards at Greeting Card Universe). The more visitors you attract to your blog, the more chance they’ll click on a link, the more chance they might turn into shoppers who’ll buy your cards.

Search engines love original content. So do regular people! In Newsletter #1, we talked about how your blog shouldn’t

Hidden Gems: Mothers Day - May 8 - Jen Cosgrove

be just about greeting cards, but about a subject you love (or one that inspires you, or that you find educational or informative) that you tie greeting cards into. Now you’re going to use that original content to draw in visitors, and with any luck, perhaps even backlinks from other blogs (which will increase your page rank with search engines).

Commenting on forums and other blogs is a very easy way to promote your own blog, but you need to do it the smart way. Many blog services allow you to link your name to a URL of your choice. Or you can use a link as part of your signature. However, it’s up to the blog or forum owner (most of the time) to approve or trash your comment. Believe me, if a blog owner visits YOUR blog and sees only irrelevant and spammy promotion, they’re going to dump your comment (and your link) into the garbage.

You want to be choosy about the blogs you put comments on, too. Obvious spam sites will get you nowhere with search engines, and may even harm your blog’s page rank.

So how do you find other blogs that are relevant to yours?

The keyword here is RELEVANT. Don’t bother trying to post a comment on a fishing blog if your blog is about flower arranging. Look for blogs that are about topics relevant to the topics you post on your blog. How do you do that? The easy way is to go to Google Blogs and enter your keyword.

Your search results will give you a list of all blogs where your keyword is used as part of the title and/or the first few sentences. However, suppose you want to also browse people’s blog comments as well? There’s a trick to that. Go to Google once more, and type in the following (one at a time, of course):

site:.com inurl:blog “post a comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “YOUR KEYWORD”

site:.org inurl:blog “post a comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “YOUR KEYWORD”

site:.edu inurl:blog “post a comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “YOUR KEYWORD”

site:.gov inurl:blog “post a comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “YOUR KEYWORD”

Note the different extensions. This trick allows you to browse comments on many different blogs for the keyword you entered. These tools can help you find blogs that are relevant to your interests.

A tip: search engines put great weight on links at .edu and .gov sites. If you can manage to get a comment on a forum or blog with either of those extensions, in the world of promotion that’s like finding a gold mine in your backyard.

Next, be sure any comment you leave isn’t of the throwaway “great blog” variety. You need to let the blog owner know you’ve actually spent a little time and read the entry you’re commenting on. For example, a month or so ago I left a comment on a blog post about a charity walk to benefit cancer research. Part of the blog post was about the walk itself, but another part was about the blog owner’s personal experience with cancer. I told the owner I was moved by her post, and commended her courage in writing about her (and her daughter’s) cancer experiences, and wished them both well. The comment was approved. I gained a backlink to my Squidoo lens about greeting cards for cancer patients (which I use to promote my GCU cards). See how this works? Be sincere, not spammy.

Many of us already follow blogs we like. Even if you don’t, I’d like everyone here with a blog (or without, for that matter – perhaps you’ll use a link to your GCU store or a collection you have at GCU) to leave one comment on a blog. If you want to stay safe, check the GCU Community blog roll and leave a comment on a fellow artist’s blog. The more daring can search out a relevant blog using the tools I’ve given you. Either way, let us know how you do.

If you spend just five minutes a day – JUST FIVE MINUTES – leaving one comment on someone’s blog, you’ll promote yourself and your cards.

Next week on Time to Blog, we’ll discuss how guest blogging can attract visitors to your store or site.

Each artist who writes a new blog post or Squidoo lens containing at least 3 links to greeting cards at GCU will be entered in a random drawing for a fantastic book Art Escapes: Daily Exercises and Inspirations for Discovering Greater Creativity and Artistic Confidence (Dory Kanter). “This title for both beginning and experienced artists gives readers ideas for building an art habit. It contains daily projects for drawing, watercolour, mixed media, collage and more. It aims to help readers increase their skill and creativity and find time to make a little bit of art every day.” Simply make your post on or before May 8th, then leave a comment on this blog (or get in touch by email).

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You can edit the inside verse of a card after it’s been approved. When you’re logged in, find your card in the MANAGE CARDS section, then EDIT. Don’t forget to SAVE when you’re done. And don’t forget to check, double check, and even triple check your verse for grammar and spelling as cards already approved don’t go through the review process a second time, even when you edit. Please note: Sometimes, adding inside verse will also necessitate a category change, but artists can’t change a card’s category once it’s been approved. In that case, send a note to the review team: cardreview(at)greetingcarduniverse.com. Be sure to include the PID# as well as the category you want the card moved into.

DID YOU KNOW you can “like” this newsletter or any post on the GCU Community blog, or include them in your social bookmarks? Just click the title of the post, which takes you to the permanent link page. At the bottom of the page you’ll see buttons for social sites like Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. And thanks for sharing!

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GCU Community All-Stars!
This week’s Community All-Star Award winners are: Christie, Betsy, Ernestine and Naquaiya.  In addition, Oma and Annielim receive our special Design of the Day Winner Starfor being chosen to grace GCU’s homepage.

Hidden Gems: Fathers Day - June 19 - Sign Language Greetings

And finally, we have two winners of our rare and prestigious Super Star Award: Tom Rent and Doreen Erhardt, for their tireless efforts in helping the artist community with tutorials and other helpful stuff. Please join me in congratulating our winners! (If you win an All-Star award but don’t receive it in your email, please check your spam folder; if you still don’t have it, contact us).

2011 Reminder Time: Since search engines can take up to 6 months to index new content, you should be working on this year’s cards ahead of time for the following holidays:

  • September 5 – Labor Day
  • September 11 – Grandparents Day
  • September 11 – Patriot Day
  • September 29 – Rosh Hashana
  • October 8 – Yom Kippur

Don’t Forget: To change the date on your year specific cards such as Graduation and  New Year’s. While GCU tries to contact artists who’ve been a little absent minded, this takes time that could be spent doing other things… like reviewing cards waiting for approval! If you happen to come across another artist’s card, and you notice they haven’t changed the date, give them a friendly heads-up. They’ll appreciate it.

We Need You!: If you’ve got a blog, a website, a Squidoo lens, or a YouTube video promoting your cards at GCU, or a Facebook or a Twitter account that you use, we want to hear from you! To join the roll calls here, leave a comment or send an email to gcucommunity (at) bigdates.com. We update the roll calls daily, so you’ll never be absent for long. Do you have suggestions? Features you’d like to see added? Tips you want to share? Send them in!

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The next issue of the GCU Community Newsletter will be Thursday, May 12

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2011 12:48 pm

    Thanks Corrie, You are inspirational. This GCU community newsletter is awesome and appreciated (as are you and the other contributors). I look forward to nexts and to implementing some of your networking tips. Please add me to the newsletter Artist lists. For starters my website is http://www.LisaCharltonGallery.com
    Cheers, Lisa
    http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/LisaCharlton

    • May 5, 2011 1:30 pm

      Welcome, Lisa! I’ve added your website to the roll, and hope you continue to enjoy the newsletter and your community blog.

      Corrie

  2. May 5, 2011 5:49 pm

    Thank`s Corrie for Today`s Newsletter.
    Congrats to the Award Winners!
    Thank you Tom and Doreen for all you do for the newsletter and GCU.
    It`s great having Printers in the UK as well as the US, Our UK Customers getting their order in a timely manner is an awesome business move!
    Janet Lee

  3. May 10, 2011 12:13 pm

    I would just like to add something to the section on blog commenting above. I’ve recently wanted to leave comments on four of the blogs listed in the sidebar. But on two of them I wasn’t able to. So perhaps a reminder to make commenting easy for visitors would be timely?

    When time and attention are at a premium, as they usually are on the internet, people want things to be easy and instant and if they’re not, they’ll just move on.

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