Friday, 25 February 2011

Advanced Twittering

Guess who's back!
The first twitter guide seemed to go down really well with lots of people, so I thought a follow up on the more advanced features twitter has to offer would be equally helpful. Again, I am not really an expert twitterer, but I will do my best to explain what each feature does, and why you should use it.

Writing your Bio

When we signed up in the previous post, we didn't really talk about your bio. This is a place where you can describe yourself in 160 characters. You can stick a link in there too, allowing you to have a link to your folksy shop and your blog, depending on what you've listed as your website. To edit your bio, log in to twitter and then click on your username in the top right hand corner. A drop down menu should show a "settings" link, which you should click on. Along the blue bar there should be a link that says profile. Click on it, and you should see the box where you need to type your bio.

Knowing what to put in your bio can be tricky, especially when you're limited to 160 characters. In the bio for our twitter feed, I've just stated exactly what we do:

We are Po&Mo, a mother and daughter team that sell hand-crafted goods to (hopefully) the masses at our folksy store:
It's really up to you what you want to put on your bio, but including a link to your shop or blog can only be a good thing, as it will lead to more exposure.


Having a picture on twitter is something I'd advise as it sets you apart from everyone else who has the standard blank twitter picture! You can change it often if you want to display your wares, but remember it's a tiny picture so it might not be the best way to show what you're selling. Using the same picture as your folksy avatar is a good idea, as people may recognise you from the forums, and think "oooh, I know you!" and then click Follow! Whatever you chose, it helps to make your twitter feed unique to you. To change it, go to the same page as you did to edit your bio, and "change image" to upload a different picture.

Oooh, all this customisation...

It's nice to be able to mould your twitter into something unique to you and your store, so don't stop at your bio and picture! You can actually change a lot more about the way your twitter feed looks, from the text colour and links to the sidebar colour and background. To do this, go back to the settings page, and click "design". From here you can chose a pre-set theme, which you can then edit, by clicking "Change Design Colours". You can also include an image as your background, by clicking "Change background image", although the size of the image must be less than 800kb. You can resize an image using any paint programme. This means you can have an actual product adorning the background of your twitter feed!

Hash-tags? Like...hashbrowns? Mmm...

No, not at all! You may have heard about hashtags, or seen them being used around twitter. A hashtag is one of these # little symbols before a word. They are used to help people searching for certain topics being mentioned in tweets. This can be quite hard to explain, so here's an example. Say you're looking for all tweets related to fishing. If you just entered the word "fishing", you would be opening the search feed to anyone who mentioned the word fishing. Therefore anyone using it out of your context (e.g. say someone has tweeted about someone "fishing" for a favour) would have their tweet displayed in the results. However, if you search for #fishing, you will only be given results from people who deliberately want their tweet to be shown under the trend of fishing. Try searching using the #folksy hashtag, and see what you find! You can also include the hashtag in your tweets to ensure they show up when someone searches for folksy.

Wow. I can do all this?

And more! My post on the folksy forums about this blog post got some replies with things I'd missed out.

Mogstogs had this to say on the subject of retweeting:

Here’s another tip – when you tweet about your shop or a new product, you are more likely to be retweeted if someone can RT without having to shorten your message. eg if someone retweets something of mine, it adds "RT @mogstogs: " to the start which is 14 characters. I know that, so I try to keep sales stuff to less than 126 characters. (although I don’t always manage it!)
I’m not saying it’ll make everyone retweet your stuff – but if I try to retweet something, and immediately I’m over the 140 limit, I’m not going to fanny about trying to reduce the length of it, I’ll just give up.

Another matter that was brought to my attention was the need for picture hosting. Now, if you want to show a picture of something you already have for sale on Folksy, this isn't a problem as Folksy already has the picture hosted for you. However, if you're looking for feedback on an as yet unlisted item, then you need to upload the photo yourself. The most obvious places to do this are Twitpic and Yfrog. Both sites are designed for use with twitter, and because of this you do not need to create a new account to use them. Instead, you can just sign in with your twitter details. You do not need to worry that either of those sites will have access to your twitter log in details. They are instead run as applications, an extension of your twitter account. To be able to use them, you need to "allow" the applications access to your account. This is not as worrying as it sounds - these applications will never be allowed to tweet anything of their own accord, and you retain complete control of your account.

To approve either of these applications, simply go to either Twitpic or Yfrog and click log in. You are given the option to create your own account, or log in using your twitter account. I'd recommend that you use your twitter account, as I already have enough log ins for various sites around the web, and don't fancy having to remember another one! This will then take you to twitter, where you will be asked to approve the application, and sign in if you are not already signed in. From there you will be asked to approve the application simply by clicking "approve". Then, voila, you can use either of these sources to share pictures.

To do this, return to your site of choice. I've personally chosen Yfrog, as Twitpic kept displaying error messages when connecting with twitter, which annoyed me. I think this is due to issues on twitter's end, but still, I'm trying to write a guide here, and these errors are really irritating. So, with Yfrog, the homepage when you are logged in displays the upload form - very efficient! Click browse, and select your image from your PC. Then you can write about it in the box underneath. Remember this will appear on your twitter feed, so you are restricted in the amount of characters you use - 100 max. Then simply click post it, approve the application, and wait for it to load. The yellow and white striped bar shows the sites progress in uploading your image.

Then, it's all done! Your picture is uploaded, your twitter feed will display the picture when the tweet is clicked on, and you have a lovely page just like this one. Simples!

Well that gives me lots to think about...

It does, doesn't it? I'm kind of worn out from all this typing too, so I think that'll be it for now. If you have any questions, as always, stick them in the comments. We really appreciate any feedback we get as well, so keep it coming! As always, happy twittering, and good luck over on Folksy - I'm not sure about everyone else, but our sales are still pretty shocking!




Monday, 21 February 2011


Next in our series of tutorials is Twitter. Now I don't consider myself an expert on twitter by any stretch of the imagination, so consider this a journey of discovery that we can go on together!

Signing Up

A twitter account is free, and relatively simple and painless to set up. There are a few important things to remember however. Your username is how people will get in touch around twitter, so make it one that refers back to your folksy site. As hilarious as bananahammock37 is as a name, it doesn't really refer back to a Folksy store...unless you are selling knitted banana hammocks or something similar. For example, our twitter name is @Poandmo. It's simple, and links to our other online exploits - our facebook, folksy shop, and e-mail address.

What next?

Now you have an account, you can immediately start posting. Now, you will notice that when you do post, typing into the box makes the number "140" next to the "tweet" button go down. That's because on twitter you're limited to 140 characters, including spaces, per "tweet". Yes, that's what each individual message you post is called, not a "twit" or a...erm, well anything else, just a "tweet". What can you post in a tweet? Well, whatever you like really. However, before we move on to that, we should look at who is actually going to see the tweets you write.

Be my friend?

Before you worry about the content of your tweets, you should actually ensure someone is going to be able to see them. It doesn't matter if your 140 character ditties would make Shakespeare feel inadequate if no-one sees them. So, it's important that you follow people, and have them follow you back. Who should you follow? Your fellow folksy friends for a start, as well as people you know from other places who have a twitter account. There are already a number of threads on the folksy forums for people who have twitter and are looking for followers on a thread I've started here as well as some other threads here, here, and on the official Folksy facebook page here. To add people, either follow the link that they've posted and click the box that says Follow with a little green plus next to it.

If someone has just left a name, normally with an @ at the beginning, then you need to search for it. This is a bit more long winded, but again, simple enough. Go to the twitter homepage, and type in the name - go on, try it now, type @Poandmo in. Then click the "people" tab, and you'll see a button that says Follow, again with a little green plus next to it. There you go, now you're following us! If you add people, most folksy followers are nice enough to follow you back. However, a friendly message to anyone you add may also prompt them to follow you back.

Okay, so I've what?

Now you have an audience, we can work out what you need to preach to them! You can say whatever you like really, as long as it's 140 characters or less. It's likely that some of your tweets will relate to your folksy activity, be that updating your blog, adding new things to your store, or having some sort of sale or giveaway. We use ours to do a featured item, tell our followers we have a new blog entry, and occasionally just update with random bits about our day. I personally think that it's nice to not just bombard your followers with stuff for sale all the time, as it's not very personal, but it is your choice.

But I've got too much to say!

Ahh, Twitter will teach you the art of being concise! The 140 character limit can make things a bit tricky, but it will also teach you how to get the key point of your message across. When it comes to personal tweets, I rarely find the character limit an issue, but it can be harder when trying to promote an item, especially if you include a link at the end. To give yourself a few extra characters, I recommend Tinyurl. This website allows you to take a fairly long link and make it, well, tiny. It reduces a URL to 26 characters, which is very handy and leaves you more room to say other things.

So what else can I do?

Other than tweeting about your activities, both online and offline, you can also use twitter to "retweet" what other people have said in their tweets. The act of "retweeting" puts someone elses tweet in the newsfeed of everyone that follows you. It's a great way of attracting attention to something someone else has written - even better if it's something positive about your shop! To retweet a tweet, simply look below it to where there are some options in a smaller font. You can favourite, retweet, or reply to a tweet. Obviously just click retweet, and there you go, you've passed on a tweet to everyone else that follows you.

Now we just mentioned that you can reply to a tweet. This draws the attention of the person who wrote the tweet to your reply, as it will have @Theirusername in it. This allows you to communicate with people more directly, but still allows all your other followers to see what you're saying. This is good for public discussions, but if you'd rather send a message that only they can see, find the follower you're looking for and click message. It's as simple as that!

Well this is a lot less scary now!

I know! What was once confusing and scary is now a whole new option for promoting your folksy store. As ever, if you have any problems, or want some advice, please post in the comments. If you think a video tutorial would be helpful, I'm willing to make one too, just tell me what you'd like to see! Happy tweeting!


Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Power of Community

I suppose this post could be considered a little off topic, since it's not really anything directly related to the shop, but it's something that I believe helps fuel our desire to run a shop. Putting time and effort into making something that you hope other people will see the value in and want to buy becomes hard when no-one is purchasing from your shop. It can make you feel that your creations aren't good enough, and that you are simply wasting your time and money on supplies and listings. However, I think this is where Folksy really comes into its own as a site for selling home-made stuff.

The community area on Folksy is where I spend most of my time on the site. When the shop was first opened, this was because I knew promotion was going to be key. However, two months in, and I now look forward to spending an hour or so on the forums. Everyone is friendly and encouraging, and there is a lot or diversity in terms of things to talk about. It's also full of really helpful people - I've been assisted with enquiries about public liability insurance within minutes of posting, which was really helpful.

I've also seen lots of other people being given help, be they relative newbies or old hands. As a long time user of forums and chatrooms on the internet, the atmosphere at Folksy really surprises me. There is no semblance of clique-i-ness, and I haven't seen even a hint of nastiness between posters - surprising when you consider that the forums are unmoderated and all users are technically in competition with each other when it comes to making sales and having your shop noticed. This feeling of almost family that exists there should be celebrated, as it is far from the norm around the internet.

So thank you, Folksy community for your support, advice, wise words, good humour and all round friendliness. It is a pleasure to run a shop alongside you all.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Adding Pictures to a Post, Folksy Style

Putting pictures on Folksy is easy once you know how, because you use the same technique each time, only with some small differences.

NOTE: If you're using a Mac rather than a PC, whenever you hear "right click" being mentioned, obviously you can't right click, so instead you need to hold CTRL and left click instead. Thanks to Lin for pointing this out!

Here is the code you need:

<a href=""><img height="200" src="http://YOURIMAGECODEGOESHERE.jpg"></a>

Now to help you understand what you're actually doing, the first space to enter your own info is where it says "YOURUSERNAMEGOESHERE". This creates a link to your folksy shop, so that when you click on your image, it goes to your shop. Now the second place you need to edit is where it says YOURIMAGECODEGOESHERE. This link is the address that your image is kept at, and basically directs your web browser to that place so it knows what picture to put on the page.

So now you know what code you need, it's best to copy it from above and paste that into the reply box of the thread you want your picture to be on. Once that's done, you can start filling in the details I've explained above.

Okay, so filling the first link in is easy, you know your username, but finding the image of your picture may be harder. I'm assuming you're using Internet explorer, so here's what you do. Click play!

Now that you've got the URL, you just need to add it to your Folksy post. Go back to the reply box that you had, and do the following:

Hope this helps! Once you've got the hang of it, it'll become second nature. Also, if you like you can replace the first link with the actual URL of the item featured in the picture.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Banner Designing for Dummies

Hi guys!

A special hello to all the shop owners listed on the right hand side of the blog, where they will stay for about a month before we list some new ones. Take a peek at their shops, I think there's a nice variety of them so you're sure to find something you like.

So this post is going to be about shop banners. I say it's for dummies, but it might be more accurate to say this has just been written by a dummy, since I'm no graphics design pro. However, even with my limited skills, I feel I've managed to make a half-decent banner over at Po&Mo's. And if I can do it, so can you! I've included some videos that show exactly what you need to do.

What Programme Do I Use?
Most computers come with a basic paint programme, called (oh so originally) Paint. It's a very basic programme, but has its limitations. I personally do not use it. There are also options out there if you want to go and spend a lot of money. Paintshop Pro and Adobe Illustrator are good examples of these, and although you can find free trials of both, they expire after 30 days.

Luckily, there is an option between the expensive and the basic. I use Paint.Net, a free piece of software that has the more advanced features you need to create a spiffy looking banner. After downloading, start up the programme. This is where the fun begins...

What does this button do?
It's easy to be overwhelmed when you first open Paint.Net. So many shiny buttons to press! But don't go crazy and press them all at once...your computer will explode!!! Heh, not really. No, when you start it's important to see what sort of size you're working with. For a folksy banner, this is 100 pixels high by 900 pixels wide. So how do you change the image size? Watch and learn my friends, click play!

Ahh, I see what I'm working with now!
So now you're aware of how much space you have to work with. Now how about we add a background to make your banner more eye catching? This is where we learn a very important lesson about using Paint.Net. Layers are important. What are layers, I hear you cry? They are like the components of your banner, and each one makes up the whole. So every time you add something new to your banner, it's recommended that you put it on a new layer. This way, if you don't like something you've done, it's easy to get rid of. So, let's add a background, and then add a new layer on top of it for the text.

You need to select the fill tool, and pick what colour you would like. There are also several fill options, such as confetti, diamonds or checker board effects. Pick whichever one you like, or simply go with a regular fill. We're going to fill this banner with a pink and purple with a diagonal brick effect. Click play to see this in action.

Well this is just so simple!
I know, right? It is literally a few clicks and you're already halfway there with your banner. Now, we can work on layer 2 and add some text. This means working with the text tool. Now I don't wish to alarm you, but the text tool that comes with is very unforgiving. It just doesn't like people, I'm convinced of it. However, this is where the magic of layers comes in - if you make a mistake, it won't effect your pretty background. You can just either delete the layer (using the red X button next to the add layer button when layer 2 is selected) or press "undo". There is also a keyboard short cut for undo, the same as you'd use in Microsoft word - just hit CTRL+Z.

So, onto the text. Some important things to note; clicking outside the text means you're done with it. So be very careful where you're clicking, because this can be very frustrating. Now for this banner we're going to put "Banner making for Dummies." The text will be in black, and the font we're going to use is Segoe Print. Go on, click play!

Sheesh, why did I even need this guide?
That is a very good question, since you're nearly done! The only thing to do now is save your banner. Now folksy wants your banner saved as a gif or jpeg file. Now, will save your image as a pdn type by default. However, this is easily changed. When you save your image as one of these file types however, it will squash all the layers. This means you will not be able to edit it as you have been. Because of this, I recommend you save it as a pdn before you save it as a gif or jpeg. Does this all sound like goobledegook to you? No worries, just click play for the last time and all will become clear!

All done?
Yep, you really are! The only thing you need to do now is upload it to folksy by editing your shop appearance. I hope this guide has shown just how easy it is to make a basic banner. Once you're confident with the basics, you should try out some of the other features Paint.Net has, particularly under the "Effects" and "Adjustment" tabs. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have, and I'll try to help where I can.

Happy banner making!


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Folksy: First Impressions

Hi there! It's Po of Po&Mo, starting the blog off with a reflective look back at our first month on folksy.

Setting Up

Setting up our folksy shop was an area I dealt with. I'm a very competent PC user, and found Folksy really easy to use, and imagine it would be too for anyone who is less experienced with the internet and computers. The specifications for avatars and banners is clearly listed, and the free image hosting meant it was easy, and quick to upload our first batch of products. The only thing I felt was missing was some sort of drop down menu to allow buyers to choose which variety (e.g colour or pattern) of a product they wanted. At this point I wasn't aware that I could ask sellers to PM me with which design they would like, and so I think we've ended up spending more than we needed to on listings. Other than that, Folksy has been excellent, and maybe this feature will be introduced in the future.


I was daunted first going into the Folksy community, as I'm a techhead but I know next to nothing about crafts. However, once I looked around a little, I realised that my lack of knowledge wasn't going to be a hurdle to participating on the forums. Everyone is just wonderfully nice, and willing to take a look at your shop and give some constructive advice. There are also lots of threads that allow you to promote your store - my personal favourite is "What do you love in the shop above?", as it gives you feedback on what people like in your store...and gives you the chance to blow all the money you've made in one go. Ooops! The community at Folksy is as near to perfect as it could be, and is so less intimidating than those on eBay or Etsy.


This is where things have gotten tough for us. We've only sold one product (incidentally my favourite of all of our items) out of 32 that we've uploaded to the site. As far as I can tell, our photography and item descriptions are great, but we're lacking in exposure. I think that promotion will take time, a determined effort, time, perseverance, and most of all, time! It would be easy to become disheartened at this point with just one sale, but at the same time, we haven't been buying much (online or offline) because January is a financially tight month for most of us. So we will continue to try and promote where we can, and hopefully the sales will come.

Offline Pursuits

We've had some business cards printed, which look pretty snappy if I do say so myself. We've also been given the go ahead to display a poster in our local community centre, all very positive steps. Sadly, the one area we were relying on for more exposure is proving tricky at the moment - craft fairs. We're not short of ones going on in the nearby area, but they all demand public liability insurance. We don't have this, and at the moment are not in a position to be able to afford it. There are some options, such as the AIR, but we don't think we fulfil the criteria for membership. Every other option seems to be a minimum of £50, which is more than we'd want to spend. However, if we get really desperate we may have to just bite the bullet and fork out for it.


The first month has been tough in many ways, but at the same time we weren't expecting to be driving round in flashy cars and flying helicopters by the start of February. I feel that the community at Folksy provides sellers like us with a great motivation to carry on pursuing our shop, and so I'm afraid Folksy will be stuck with us for a while!

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Welcome to Po&Mo's Lovely Hand-Crafted Pretty Things - the blog!

You've most likely arrived here from Folksy, or our shop. Reading this blog will keep you updated on what we're working on at the moment, how we make our products, and where we'll be selling next offline.

I'm the "Po" of Po&Mo, and I run the techie side of things. I take the photos, run our twitter and facebook accounts, and update our shop when we have new things to sell. However, "Mo" is the real brains of the operation, and makes everything you see for sale on our site. As she is the one with the creative knowledge, it will be Mo that guides you through how our products are made.

So welcome to our blog, feel free to comment, and if you have a blog yourself, follow us - we'll most likely follow you back!