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December 2012

Create a Sitemap and Submit for Visibility

It is recommended for better website/blog visibility to  

  • Create a Sitemap 
               AND
  •  Submit a Sitemap to Google for better SEO.


Map collage by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.
A page from the art book
"And Let There Be Light"
steel, riveted.
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This post is how to create a Sitemap and submit a Sitemap. These instructions may work for your blog, and maybe your website, too, especially, if you have a template type host.

I will be the first to admit I am afraid.

Step by step, this is how I submitted a Sitemap for my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

First I read all the Sitemap tutorials on Typepad and Google.

If your aren't on Typepad, find tutorials for your blog or website host.

Next open all the window you need to keep all the various instructions and sites open at the same time. I just can not remember these tech instructions. It is like complete gibberish the first time.

Blog ASK Harriete Typepad (the host for my blog) says it will create a Sitemap for you and submit it to Google.
This is shown in the image below.

Typepad Sitemap SEO

The problem... is that Google Webmaster Tools said there was no Sitemap.

So I decided that I have to try and do this myself.
I went to my Google Webmaster Tools OPTIMIZATION.  GoogleWebmasterSitemapsLINK
CLICK on Optimization > then CLICK on Sitemaps.



Google Sitmap submit page

CLICK  on the button that says:
                        ADD/TEST SITEMAP,  it looks like the image below right.Google SITEMap BUTTON

 

GOOGLE add test button window
Paste the site map address from your blog* or web site provider in the window on Google Webmaster Tools. It should look like the image above.

I pasted my sitemap URL into the window. The URL below is the web address for my blog ASK Harriete Sitemap.
http://askharriete.typepad.com/ask_harriete/sitemap.xml
*AT the beginning of this post, I found the URL on Typepad.

 

Keep in mind that I didn't paste in the whole URL ...just the part that was missing........from the box. (Look at the image below.)
Google Webmaster Tools Submitting Sitemap URL

CLICK on the Submit Sitemap Button that looks like the image right. GoogleSubmitSitemapButton

 

 

I DID IT!!!
You can too!!!!
In the box below you can see  that Google Webmaster Tools now says I have a Sitemap submitted.
 Google Sitemap SUBMITTED
P.S. If your website is on Wordpress here is a tutorial.

How to submit your website sitemap is coming up....in a future post. It involved asking a 3rd party website to make me a Sitemap.

More scary stuff to do.


Hands hiding face before scary job


REWRITE Short Meta Descriptions for SEO

Using Google Webmaster Tools I discovered nine "Short meta descriptions" on my website. You can see this shown in the image below. Google says: "Meta description information can give users a clear idea of your site's content and encourage users to click on your site in the search results pages."

Google Webmaster Short Meta Descriptions
The right column shows the URL for the page.

What's wrong with Short Meta Descriptions?

Short meta descriptions are considered bad SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Did you ever notice when you do a search that there is a description below the URL?

Below is an example of a Google search results for an HTML page on my web site with a short meta description.

GoogleSearchAlphoneMucha

Because this had a Short Meta Description Google just took some text from the page. Boring.....boring....boring. My mistake.

Sometimes if Google does not like your Short Meta Description it will make up its own.
One website authority called them "snippety snippets". They were jesting of course, but would you rather write the description for your web pages or let Google do it?

Google Search image of Alphonse Mucha Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman

SOLUTION: 
I rewrote  the Short Meta Descriptions shown in the Google Webmaster Tools.

My preference both from a SEO stand point and human interest is to use key words that discuss the concept behind the work and relevant information about images or materials in my work.

EXAMPLE NEW META DESCRIPTION:
Embossed Oval Alphonese Mucha Bracelet is about how famous paintings are made into souvenirs in museum gift shops and printed on candy tins as an indication of good taste by Harriete Estel Berman.


RECOMMENDATION for best website SEO Practices
Try to write orginal descriptions, keywords and titles on every page. Not only is it boring to your customer, clients or collectors if everything is the same, but variety in your  descriptions and keywords might capture a new or more diverse audience.

An additional factor is that Google now recognizes if you copy and paste the same description, title or keyword onto every page. Google downgrades your website if they find duplicate content.

Three art jewelry bracelet in guilt frame of tin cans as a commentary on ART Jewelryt J
ART Jewelry Bracelets with Tin Gilt Frame      2007
The Aphonse Mucha Bracelet is part of this series.

Art jewelry Botticelli Birth of Venus from cookie tins as an indication of good taste.e

Renoir Art Jewelry Braclets printed with famous paintings as an indication of good taste.c

Museum Art Jewelry bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans printed with famous paintings

Berman bracelet based on Britto style tin can

Britto Original Tin Art Jewelry from post consumer recycled materials


Finding & Fixing Duplicate Meta Descriptions

Registration on Google Webmaster Tools* has opened up a tremendous resource to me. Don't let the term "webmaster" hold you back. There is a lot of information that a lay person, SEO novice can understand and use to improve their site.

Today we will discuss Meta Descriptions.
Meta descriptions show up in Google search. The meta description is the text description below the link.

Google search results Harriete

Watch this Google Video first..... and then I will tell you how to find your Meta Descriptions in Google Webmasters and the SEO goal for artist and makers.

How much time should I spend on meta tags, and which ones matter?


Our Goal in today's post is to consider writing fabulous Meta Descriptions (as described in the video) and FIX DUPLICATE Meta Descriptions. Google does not like duplicate content.
NOTE DUPLICATE
Finding and fixing duplicate meta descriptions is similar to fixing duplicate title tags in the post SEO Success: Fix Those Duplicate Titles.

Go to your Google Webmaster page. (The photo below shows my HOME on Google Webmaster Tools. This will be the example because I can't look at your Google Webmaster Tools.) 

GoggleWebmasterTools

CLICK on your website URL. (In the image above it says: www.harriete-estel-berman.info)

Look at the image below.
It shows the Google Webmaster TOOLS.
In the left hand column find where it says: Optimization

GoogleWebmasterToolsOptimization

In your Google Webmaster Tools CLICK on
Optimization.


It shows you a whole list of tools (like in the image below).

GoogleWebmasterOptimizationListCLICK on
HTML Improvements.

 We want to look under
HTML Improvements
       for the
DUPLICATE META DESCRIPTIONS.

 

 

In the image below:

HTML Improvement says that my website has 27 Duplicate Meta Descriptions.

GoogleWebmasterHTMLImprovmentDuplicateMeta
This picture is very small (click on the image for a larger view.)
27 Duplicate Meta Descriptions is very bad news!!! 
Google does not like duplicate content of any kind. 

Google wants original content
on the internet on every single page. Duplicate content is considered spammy, lazy and fake. If you have any duplicate content on your web site, change it as soon as possible.

GoogleWebmasterHTMLImprovmentDuplicateMeta

 

 

DETAILED EXAMPLE BELOW:

Below is the  list of URL pages on my web site with Duplicate Meta Descriptions.(CLICK on image for larger view.)

GoogleWebmasterDuplicateDescriptions

I didn't know about any of this duplicate information on my site....
and I do all the work on my site myself. This is why Google Webmaster Tools is so helpful.

In the Google Webmaster Tools you can click on any one of these listings. It shows the exact pages with duplicate content. BELOW is what Google Webmaster Tools said about my web site. It lists the URLs.
GoogleWebmasterDuplicateKitchInArt

Harriete website image of Cubist Futurist KitchInArt Cuisinart applianceIcubistEach one of the URL in the list (shown in above image) represents one HTML page on my web site.

On my web site they open as smaller "pop up" windows. On my Sculpture page, if you CLICK on the images this is what it looks like.

 I had to go behind the scenes on my website and rewrite the Meta Descriptions for each page.

   Harriete website Greek style modern 20th century KitchInArt Cuisinart appliance


I spend hours fixing the Duplicate Meta Descriptions for all 27 pages,but it is an absolute necessity.Original content is the internet of the future.


Google is clearly establishing that original content  as a priority in every respect.

Harriete website image for Social Realism KitchInArt Cuisinart appliance sculptureOriginal content on every page, for every item, object, piece of jewelry, painting, sculpture or ceramic.

Original content for your Titles, Meta Descriptions and the content on your website and blog is an absolute necessity for top SEO. Artists and makers that are creating original content can make this an advantage and an asset with careful management of their web site content.

*The post Did You Register Your Web Site on Google Webmaster Tools? will help you register and verify your site with Google Webmaster Tools.


Spam Comments Hurt Your Site

ASKHarrieteGREENS72For the past year, or so, the increased visibility of ASK Harriete has generated more  spammy comments. (Spam is unrelated comments containing links.) I didn't like feeling "used" so decided to require approval before publishing, or I edit the comments. This seemed like an unfortunate choice as comments generate feedback and discussion.  It is also wonderful to hear from readers of ASK Harriete.

It turns out that my intuition was correct. Research into improving SEO has revealed that spammy comments can hurt your web site or blog.

 

Tat Roach Motel Flower Pin in red, white, and black from Harriete Estel Bermano
Tat Roach Trap Flower Pin       Retail Price $495.

Since spam comments are from a marauding pack of internet "roaches" Google is devaluing spam comments with links.
If those spammy links are on your site, they will devalue your web site or blog! 

Tat Roach Motel Flower Brooch Pin back view by Harriete Estel BermanControl over comments is considered your job....and now you know that you have to do it.

 

 

 

Google is calling this User Generated Spam.

My action: Require approval of comments  consistent with Google recommendations.

RECOMMENDATION:

  • Require approval of comments for your website or blog.
  • Remove the URL links in spam comments. (Lots of times the URL link is not obvious in the comment. Only when I go to edit the comment is the HTML code revealed.) 
  • Read Google recommendations and don't leave spam comments on your website or blog.

RELATED POSTS:
Poor Quality Comments Are Your Content

Poor Quality Comments Are Your Content



 

 


Your Site Performance Improves SEO

SITE PERFORMANCE includes several aspects but many components affect how search engines evaluate your website.

Here is another free service from Google that test the speed of your website. Speed is very important for both customer satisfaction. If it takes to long for your website or blog, no one will wait. Search engines use speed as one method for rating your site.

GoogleSpeed

For artists and makers with image heavy sights, speed of downloading the images is a critical factor. Try this "PageSpeed Insights" and see if you can make your web site faster.

This site automatically offers suggestions for improving your site. Some of the suggestions are easy. Others are lessons for the future.

AOL bracelet from recycled AOL tin by Harriete Estel Berman says Try it Today72gr


Google Guidelines For the Best Your Site Can Be

Google offers concrete suggestions on their page Webmaster Guidelines:Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site.

I think you can read this first page in about 5-7 minutes. The ideas are not technical "geekery", but common sense suggestions for improving your web site.

For artists and makers with image heavy sites, SEO and behind the scenes HTML code are a critical issue for your web site to be found and great performance.

HarrietewebsiteteapotImages

Study and learn the easy way to improve your site and understand best practices for functional web design.

GoogleWebmasterGuidelines

Information is divided into three categories....that is when it gets a little tougher. 

Watch this video below. Even if you can't fix everything this week, read the information, and ask me your questions based on what you don't understand.



Don't feel like you have to learn everything at once. A website should be constantly evolving.

A website is never finished unlike a painting or a teapot. 

I have a week more of tutorials. Look forward to making your web site of 2013 that best it can be.

SmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt: Small Pieces of Time was constructed in 1988. It is just as true today as it was 20+ years ago. Take those small pieces of time and use them effectively to update your website. Significant changes with Google search criteria during 2012 has made review and updates to your website essential.


Become A Webmaster of Your Own Domain

Today's post will help you catch up on the ASK Harriete 2012 Series of improving SEO for artists, makers, jewelers, metalsmiths, crafts person or creators. The links are below.

We still have several more days of tutorials and lots to learn so I want to be sure your up to speed.  ASK Harriete has great posts coming up with amazing information that will help you improve your website.

India2

Whether you have a blog or web site understanding online tools are as important to the savvy artist as the paintbrush, scissors or saw.

During the holidays, ASK Harriete is doing a daily series of basic fix-its that everyone can do to improve the chance that your web site will be found by customers, collectors or curators.

SEO series 2012:

Did You Register Your Web Site on Google Webmaster Tools?

SEO Success: Fix Those Duplicate Titles

Titles RULE - Title EVERY ONE of Your Website Pages Differently

Has Google found your site? Every page?

Avoid URL Mistakes I Have MADE

 

SEO series 2011:

The best web site or blog evaluation!

Does Your HOME Page Load Quickly?

Simple, Sensible, Sensational, SEO Improvements.

Your Website HOME page is Like The Front Door of Your House

Search Engines Have No Vision - Play TAG, Your IT - Create Tags for better SEO from 2.0 sites

Search Engines Have No Vision - SEO for 2.0 sites.

Search Engines Have No Vision! So Help SEO "SEE" Your Images

SEO 2009:

Images on your web site, Are they lost or found?



5 Google Webmaster Tools Improve Sites

This post will start with a great video from Google titled, What are the 3-5 most important things I should pay attention to in Google Webmaster Tools?  Then I will illustrate the examples from the video in case the information went over your head.

I would be the first to admit that sometimes it takes me hours to figure out what they were talking about on the Google Webmaster Tools. Don't let that stop you.

We covered Google Webmaster Tools in a previous post: Did You Register Your Web Site on Google Webmaster Tools?

Goggle Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is the foundation for this series on improving your web site performance.

 

       _____________


Google Webmaster Tools - All Messages allows Google to inform you about your site's status if there are critical or important issues detected with your site. Make sure you "Enable email notification" in Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Messages

            _____________


How to find  "Site Configuration Settings" (This took me an hour to figure out.)

  • On your Google Webmaster Tools HOME page (shown below)
  • CLICK on the blue web site URL (in the example image below it is www.harriete-estel-berman.info.) On your Google Webmaster Tool it would be your website or blog.

GoggleWebmasterTools

This reveals a whole new set of tools!

GoogleWebmasterSiteConfigurations

This is a little overwhelming. We are only going to cover topics mentioned in the video.

      _____________


Set preferred domain, if you want. (I decided not to do Set Preferred domain at this time. It was really scary and involved several steps. I also couldn't decide which is better www.harriete-estel-berman.info   or harriete-estel-berman.info.) Are people ready for URL without www? Opinions anyone?

GoogleWebmasterDomainPreference

               

    ____________

 


Set the Geopgraphic Target

GoogleWebmasterGeographic
Setting the Geopgraphic Target seemed an easy decision. Shipping my work internationally is expensive, and the economy world wide is no better than the U.S. My primary audience is in the U.S. People in other countries can still look at my site.

 

    _____________

 

The next item in the video was URL Parameters. You can find this in the left column of the Google Webmaster Tools.

GoogleWebmasterlookATParameter

I did not use URL Parameters tool.  It said,"Currently Googlebot isn't experiencing problems with coverage of your site, so you don't need to configure URL parameters."
This also looks like a very advanced tool for an amateur like me.

       
               ____________

 

Keyword Report is under OPTIMIZATION.
GoogleWebmasterKeyword
Fascinating information!
Compare this to the information below on Queries.

KEYWORD REPORT  is mentioned next in the video. As the video says, "It's t top keywords that appear on your site. So it's really interesting to compare that list to what you think your site is about."

 

     _____________

 

There is also tons of information under traffic.
LOOK under SEARCH QUERIES
GoogleWebmasterSearchQueries

Scroll down look under the list of Search Queries
GoogleWebmasterQueriesList

Lots to learn from this information.


   _______________

 

Links to Your Site was interesting to me.
It shows what people found interesting.

GoogleWebmasterLinksSite

 

    _____________

 

Moving on to the next topic in the video...HTML suggestion.
From the video:
"what that [HTML] feature does is it lets you know if we've detected any possible issues with your meta descriptions or your title tags. And those are pretty important because those two things can directly influence how your search result appears on that search results page. The title tag, for example, is often what we'll use to show the title of your site, and the meta description will often prefer that, if you've written one yourself, over us just trying to generate a snippet automatically as the description of your site. And the things that we detect are if you have a bunch of duplicate titles or meta descriptions."

 
           _____________

 

OPTIMIZATION is under HTML Improvements.

GoogleWebmasterHTML

There is lots of work for me under this category but this tool is fantastic. I fixed the duplicate Title Tags a few days ago. Obviously Google hasn't searched my site since I fixed the duplication.

Note: there are 10 duplicate meta descriptions that I need to fix right away.
GoogleWebmasterDuplicateDescriptions

I have 0 Long Meta Description but 9 Short Meta Desriptions that need repair. I will cover this in another post.

 

        ____________

 

SITE PERFORMANCE is the last item mentioned in the video. "Site Performance lets you see how fast your site is relative to other sites on the Web.And so since site performance has a lot to do with user experience, users enjoy browsing faster pages, it's good to know which end of the spectrum are you on?Are you one of those pages that people have to wait for it to load?"

Guess what. I can't find it, but I will..... and SITE Performance will be a future post.

That was a lot of great information that will take a couple of hours at least. That is why I like learning this information during the holidays when the rest of my world is dormant . Long hours of quiet time  and cold rainy day to work intensively.

Harriete


Avoid URL Mistakes I Have MADE

Today's post is about URL as part of our holiday series on improving your website SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)


Howdoor72What is a URL?  URL is the address to a specific Web site or a page on the Internet. It is just like the address for your house. The URL tells the Internet how to visit your website.

 

 

 

 

Using my website as an example:

Hbwebsitehome
The URL for my web site is
  http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info

Each page has it's own URL.
Below is my main Jewelry page...with the URL:
http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/jewelry/Jewel.html
HarrieteJewelry


Now you know what a URL is.

Google says: "A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).

Below is a page from my website with art jewelry bracelets that have numbers for the URL. This is NOT good SEO by current standards. Learn from my mistakes. Improve for the future.
HarrieteJewelrypage2


If you CLICK ON ANY IMAGE a page opens up (as  shown in the photo below.)
 
Harrietejewelrypage2wasabiPeas

Look at the URL(below). It is a series of numbers:  4-10-07. 

http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/jewelry/imagesNEW/4-10-07.html
This is exactly what Google says NOT to do.


HarrieteBraceletWasabiPea


I should have given it a URL like wasabipeas.
Even better it should have been wasabi-peas-bracelet.
http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/jewelry/imagesNEW/wasabi-peas-bracelet.html

My web site has a lot of jewelry pages that are numbers rather than words from years ago when I didn't know any better, but what astounds me is that I still see web sites with numbers for a URL. 

DO NOT USE LISTS OF NUMBERS for the URL of pages on your website. Google doesn't like it.

Below are BEST PRACTICES FOR URL on your website.

  • Consider using HYPHEN punctuation in your URL.
    The URL http://www.example-website.com/wasabi-peas-bracelet.html is much more useful  than http://www.example.com/greendress.html.
  • Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs. Underscorces are hard to see and cause mistakes. 
  • Use only lowercase letters. Using only lowercase helps avoid mistakes.
  • Use four to five keywords relevant to your site and the specific page. http://www.example-website.com/wasabi-peas-art-jewelry-bracelet.html

While 10 years ago short URL were recommended this is no longer the case. Most people are cutting and pasting URLs. The benefit from better SEO with a descriptive URL outweighs the benefit from a short URL.

Below are Google videos about URL related to search on your web site.

Underscores vs. dashes in URLs 

Is it better to have keywords in the URL path or filename?

This is answered in the next video "Does the position of Keywords in the URL affect ranking?"

Does the number of sub directories in a URL affect its ranking? 

This next video offers an answer:


Has Google found your site? Every page?

Did you ever wonder if Google found your website? Even if you know your site comes up in search results, do you wonder about which pages will show up? Do you wonder if Google has discovered all your pages?

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

BermanFineSilverworkFor my website, I was really worried that my silver repair business pages were not being found. In 2012 I wasn't prepared to make another website, so these pages were added to the website for my artwork. Still,  I wondered if people could find my business Berman Fine Silverwork. 

By doing a test in Google search, and looking through the search results...
GoogleSearchresults1

I confirmed that Berman Fine Silverwork pages will be found in search results even though they were separate pages on my artist website. That is the way I built my business on the web for years. 

UPDATE 2016: In 2016 I built a whole new website for my silver repair business Berman Fine Silverwork.
 My first step was to buy a separate domain keeping the domain name as short as possible hence bermansilverwork.com  .   Short domain names with key search terms are the current trend since so many people are using phones and mobile devices. My new website is now mobile friendly. The outcome with a new website:  I doubled my business gross revenue in one year. 

Here is how you can check your own website in search:

STEP 1. Go INCOGNITO in your web browser to eliminate past search history.

OPEN A GOOGLE SEARCH BOX.

GoggleSearchBox
STEP 2.

Type in your website into the search box like this:   [ site:example.com ]

For my website I would type in:
site: bermansilverwork.com

For your  website  type in:
site: your-web-site.com

STEP 3.
CLICK SEARCH and see what comes up. 

You could also try search terms that you think a customer might use to find your site. 


Harriete


SEO Success: Fix Those Duplicate Titles

Harriete Estel Berman web site home

Every year I work on improving my web site during the quiet of the holidays. This is the perfect time to catch up, and ramp up for the new year.

Google search results Harriete Estel Berman

My suggestions for improving SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your web site are always free basic fix-its that everyone can do to improve the chance that your web site will be found by customers, collectors or curators.

No baloney. No manipulation of search results with tricks.


Today's post is about duplicate titles tags.

The important issue is that the title is unique for every page. Even if you are using WordPress, or template for your web site, every page has a title.

Tins RED in the studio of Harriete Estel Berman

Tins RED stored in my 1,000's of tin cansin Just like you would not post two identical images, you don't want to duplicate title tags for different pages. I wrote about this before on ASK Harriete.


Duplicate page titles are NOT good for 3 reasons:

  • Search engines think every page is the same.
  • Google now penalizes web sites with duplicate content.
  • Duplicate titles will hurt SEO for your web site.

 

Below is an example of duplicate titles on my web site, and how I found the mistake.  The correction was easy, finding the duplicate titles was hard until I found this great tool on Google Webmasters.
 
HEBwebsitebendingbrakeIt turns out that I had three pages (show below left) on my web site  all with the SAME title:"In My Studio - tools used to construct my work."

 

HEBtoolswebsiteHEBwebsitetools

 


A recent newsletter from Jill Whalen
(my SEO guru) told me how to find duplicate page titles using Google Webmaster Tools.

 

If you aren't already registered with Google Webmaster Tools this is a free service and your first step.

This is really important. The tools of Google Webmasters are all free diagnostic tools for improving your web site or blog. I am going to spend the next week learning how to use these tools with the readers of ASK Harriete.  

To get started, read the previous post. Learn how to add your site to Google Webmaster Tools and verify your site.



Next read this article: SEO and Duplicate Content Issues that Hurt Google Traffic


More information about writing titles can be found in: Titles RULE - Title EVERY ONE of Your Website Pages Differently  
TitlesRULE


Did You Register Your Web Site on Google Webmaster Tools?

Goggle Webmaste rTools

Yes, I know this sounds a bit overwhelming, but a productive web site is an on going task, always with room for improvement.  Google Webmasters is a very helpful tool and registration is completely free.  (Embedded videos don't show in the email subscription of ASK Harriete. Go to the actual post.)

Every year, during the quiet of the holidays, I work on improving my web site. This is the perfect time to catch up, and gain more visibility for your work online.  Over the next couple of weeks,  ASK Harriete will offer easy tips to help your web site achieve better SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

GoogleWebmasterToolsADDINGaSITE

Whether you have a blog or web site, one site or 1,000 sites;  Add your site to Google Webmaster Tools.   Learn with me as I discover how to use these tools.  They can be as important to today's on line savvy artist as the paintbrush, scissors or saw.

Verification of your site can be "tricky" for amateurs. It took me several tries.
Here is a page with detailed instructions for verifying you own your site.

These tools are not just for professionals. I am largely self taught, learning by using tools and services on the web.  If I can do it, just about anyone could.  The Google Webmaster Academy has tutorials for reference as well. Below is an older video Google Webmaster Tools that describes some of the webmaster tools and how they benefit your site. (I noticed that the videos don't show in the email subscription of ASK Harriete. Click on the link provided instead.)

Now time to improve my web site's visibility and find mistakes with me on ASK Harriete.  (I already fixed 13 errors this afternoon.) 
Harriete
Hbwebsitehome


SHOW MANAGEMENT is like Cultivating a Garden

Ever since starting this theme about craft shows and art festivals, readers have been sharing stories of chronic problems.

The vast majority of issues fall into one or more of four categories:

  • buy/sell merchandise
  • imported items competing with local artists
  • bad, sub standard, low quality displays
  • bad management

Each one of these categories deserves further illumination, but I am wondering ....How do these situations persist from show to show without resolution?

WeedingdandelionThe responsibility certainly lies with the craft show/art festival sponsor, but a bit lies also with the artists and makers. 
I see the situation as somewhat similar to cultivating a garden.  In a garden, some weeding and pruning is often required to promote healthy growth.  Likewise, our craft show participation needs to carefully cultivate what should be nurtured and what should be weeded out.  We are in control of our future, but only if we act accordingly.

PruningshearsArtists/makers can decide to decline participation in shows that do not have clear policies regarding buy/sell, imported merchandise, and minimum display standards. 

Examine show policies before applying.  Do not apply to a show that does not have minimum standards. Go one step further and write to the show organizer clarifying what you consider the minimum expectation. It may require pruning a show from your list of events for the coming year even if you made money last year. 

Do not support poorly managed shows with your money & time.

Pruning treeshearsSame goes for show organizers. This job is not a popularity contest. Clear policies regarding the hot button issues of buy/sell, imports and display are necessary. Just like cultivating a beautiful garden, strong pruning is often required for healthy growth. This includes eliminating sellers that do not meet minimum standards for selling studio-made merchandise in a reasonably attractive display and instituting policies that guarantee acceptance for top quality sellers.

The limitations and clear expectations for show standards from both the artist/makers and the show organizers are important for a healthy future of craft.

Harriete


OPEN STUDIOS: Artist Checklist

IMG_4265During the holiday season many artists and makers open their studios to the public seeking holiday sales. That also means reasonably preparing ourselves for safety and security.  That is why the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES
has a document
OPEN STUDIOS: Artist Checklist
.


Open studio events raise concerns that are only important when the public enters your studio.

Do you have business insurance? Home owners insurance will NOT cover a business loss or liability issues if a person falls or is hurt in your studio.

Is your studio handicap accessible? Legally this is not important but potential embarrassment for all parties and a distraction. Make sure your invitation spells it out.

Is your work priced at full retail? Don't under cut the stores or galleries that sell you work at full retail.  If you do....they will not be happy, damaging your working relationship with your gallery or store arrangements.

Here are a few other thoughts:

  • Plan for parking.
  • Directions to your studio - signage.
  • Safety of your guests -- unplug power tools, remove chemicals, rope off unsafe areas. Have a plan if your guests bring children or animals.
  • Keep your money and phone on your person at all times. 
  • Have a 2nd person around if you are alone.

   

StudioBENCHES.100
Studio space for Harriete Estel Berman. My studio is open for tours and by appointment. Contact me by email any time. Work is always on display in my home and in progress in the studio.

HarrietecuTINS.100Open Studio events are also an opportunity to gain exposure and to show your community what you do and make. We can educate the how and why we create what we do. We can answer technical questions and address issues of price and materials. We can even dispel a few myths and misconceptions. And, of course, we can open the door to new markets.

Visit my studio online.

LINE of Irons s;ymbolic of the hallmark maker's mark of Harriete Estel Bermankr

SHEARS hanging in the studio of Harriete Estel Berman
Visit my studio with your art group anytime by appointment.

Harriete



My Seasonal Stress Disorder: DISCOUNTS

DollargrEarly December, we are mid-stream in the holiday shopping frenzy including open studios and holiday craft shows. This could be the right time to bring up the important topic of discounts.

I strongly disagree with the premise of discounts for one of a kind art or craft. Every holiday season, I whither like a dried up fall leaf as I watch the art and craft world try to compete in a shop till you drop world of consumer discounts.

Ten years ago I wrote a document about DISCOUNTS for the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES. The opinions in this document were reviewed,  evaluated, supported, and edited by Bruce Metcalf, Board Liaison and Contributing Editor; Suzanne Baizerman, curator; Tami Dean, production artist; Marilyn da Silva, artist; Lloyd Herman, curator; Cherry LeBrun, owner of DeNovo Gallery; Marc David Paisin, Attorney at Law; Dana Singer, Executive Director of SNAG; Lynda Watson, metalsmith; and  Caroll Webb production artist.  

HotbuttonRecently an article was brought to my attention titled,
Discussion: Are Promotional Sales Appropriate in the Art World?  This article chooses to focus on very important points regarding the issue. It is well worth time to read the article. Jason Horejs actually combines several points under three headers.*

Here are the
Disadvantages of Discounts

               from the
PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES

Discounts can create disadvantages to both the artist and the gallery. 

A) Discounts create uncertainty about the VALUE of the artwork.  Discounting gives the message that the work was perhaps not worth its initial price, and may diminish what customers are willing to pay.  Thus, in the long run, discounting can erode value. By not discounting, a consistent value is maintained for the work.

B) Discounts create uncertainty about the stated PRICE of artwork.  If it is widely known that a gallery will negotiate prices, buyers will regard the posted retail price as a fiction, and will expect a discounted price as a starting point for negotiation.

C) Discounting creates the impression that art should be bargained for, like items in a flea market.  Many craftspeople find this highly undignified.

D) If an artist’s work is discounted in one gallery and not another, and buyers become aware of it, sales at the gallery that refuses to give discounts may be discouraged.

E) Discounts can encourage price competition between galleries, which is not in the best interest of either artists or galleries.

F) Giving discounts selectively may imply that some collectors are more important than others.  Many collectors know one another, whether or not they live in the same area.  If some customers receive discounts and others do not, word may get around and cause ill feelings.

G) When buyers negotiate for discounts, the discount becomes the object of discussion instead of the artwork itself.

H) Once a customer receives a discount from a gallery, he or she will expect a discount on all future purchases from that gallery.

BermanMezuzahAndThePasswordLEM
Password Mezuzah © 2012
Recycled post consumer tin cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

In our society, price establishes worth and value.  For better or worse, the common denominator in the marketplace is the dollar, and worth is measured by what is paid.  It is the job of both the artist and the gallery to establish the value of the artist’s work (by virtue of its uniqueness, craftsmanship, reputation and quality), and remind people that this worth is reflected in its price.

Berman Mezuzah Yellow Flower  from recycled tin cansScrollLEM
Yellow Flower Scroll Mezuzah © 2012
Recycled post consumer tin cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

 

 

The actual selling price confirms the value.  If the selling price is negotiable, then the value is questionable as well.  And then the discounted price is the true value, not the retail price.  As a result, it’s in every artist’s interest to maintain close control over the selling prices of his or her work.

More insights and remedies can be gained by reading both the article listed above by Jason Horejs AND the DISCOUNTS document from the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES.

Be aware of the impact of discounts on your work.  Approach the holiday season and the whole year with a firm understanding about the financial and reputation impact of discounts.  
Harriete
*Read the comments (and clarification) below offered by Fiona Purdy.

Holiday Windows Inspire Holiday Display

I just can't resist sharing these 2 holiday window displays that are perfect inspiration for making your booth display remarkable.
Hanging ribbons with Price TAGS window display that is a fantastic idea for your holiday booth.
Holiday window for Macy's, San Francisco
It can't get much easier than making your own oversized "price tags" from cardboard and hanging them with ribbon. The slightest bit of air causes movement that catches the eye.

 

Ribbon fabric star would make a great booth display
Macy's window downtown San Francisco. 
 

Strips of fabric...really create a great window. The diagonal lines direct the eye. In this case they used the entire depth of the window, but you could keep it flatter and it still works. The star is an effective motif for the holidays, but you could substitute an example of your work after the holidays.

Harriete


What's the Artist's Job for a Show?

Alison Antelman suggests artists ask themselves:
“What do you want the show to provide for you?" 
"What are your expectations?"
 "What can you do to bring expectations to reality?"
Art fair LATE at NIGHT by Alison Antelman
Photo Courtesy of Alison Antelman

Antelman continues....

AlisonSettingUpBooth in SantaMonica
Alison Antelman
setting up her booth at
Contemporary Crafts Market
Santa Monica, CA

Consider the amount of effort you will expend to prepare and exhibit at a craft show; the physical labor, time and money involved; investment in display, wear and tear on your display and tent, lodging and travel, food, booth fees.  Well before you go to the show, it’s worth some thought about self-promotion.

While the primary responsibility for show promotion rests with the event organizer, artists and makers can play a significant role in making a show successful for themselves. 

Alison Antelman recommends that every show participant do the following as part of checklist months before and at the show:  

  • Provide amazing, professional quality images for publicity of work that you will exhibit.
  • Include image descriptions and photo credit
  • Include contact information for the artist/maker
  • Provide links, emails, and contacts for newspapers and blogs where the show promoter or their P.R. agency might be able to promote the show.
  • Provide short videos (no more than 3 minutes) about you and your work for promotion  (NOTE: this is new but I’ve seen the request several times recently)
  • Reach out to your clients in the area.
  • Be professional.
  • Be a good booth neighbor   

Harriete recommends that the better you are at reaching out to local newspapers, bloggers, or media contacts, the more likely you are to get a feature article. Two months before the show, look for local newspapers and online media writers. Don't hesitate to write a personal note including one amazing image along with a short description, show information and booth number.


Metro Ring.
Metro Ring by Alison Antelman
18 k. & 22k.gold, tangerine garnet,
diamond.

Yes, technically, all of the above should be done by the show promoter, but there is nothing wrong with a personal note (not a press release.)

In addition, if a writer contacts you, make yourself available immediately as a top priority. Your interview should be full of positive energy and excitment for the upcoming event.

ALWAYS BE READY TO SEND: 

Good luck with your next show. Create your own success with research, planning, and a fantastic display.

RELATED POSTS by Alison Antelman
6 STEPS to Craft Show Research

Resources for Craft Show Evaluation 

Responsibilities of Craft Show Organizers

What's the Artist's Job for a Show?

FIND ALISON ANTELMAN at:
Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios

Meet Alison at her Berkeley studio in the historic Sawtooth Building. This is 22nd year of this self guided annual tour with over 100 artists participating. Download a map to the Sawtooth Building Open Studios or see a list of artists with links to their websites.

November 24 & 25
December 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 2012
Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

*Alison Antelman's studio is open additional hours during this event:
Thursday through Sunday December 20, 21, 22 & 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday December 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Responsibilities of Craft Show Organizers

In this post, Alison Antelman  offers her opinion on the role and responsibility of craft show organizers. She has been participating in retail juried craft shows for 12 years. She participates in 6 to 8 national juried shows per year, in addition to two open studio events.

Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Alison Antelman, in this post are hers and hers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied.
Alison Antelman in BOOTH with CUSTOMERS
Alison Antelman at the Bellevue Museum of Art Arts Fair. This show is actually held inside the parking garage. The show has very long hours (till 9:00 p.m.) because the garage is open that late! Make sure you investigate these issues in advance.

Craftfair by Alison AntelmanThe art festival/craft show sponsor establishes the flow and organization of a huge multi-level event. Many shows are run by non-profits, some by a city’s chamber of commerce, other civic groups, or even artists who want to create the "perfect" show. These events operate in a kind of partnership with the artists. They provide the venue, publicity and crowds. The artists provide high quality work to attract and satisfy the visitors.


The two previous posts on ASK Harriete recommended that artists and makers do their research
before committing to a craft show/art festival. Below is a list of responsibilites for the craft show organizers.  

Most important a craft show or art festival should promote the event and individual artists including an image and link to each artist's website on their website. Advertising should promote the artists through print, television, web site, Facebook and other social media.

Additional Event responsibilities:
  • Clear written instructions for artists before arriving with booth location, logistics, details, schedule and useful tips
  • Organize and plan the move in and move out
  • Provide security before, during and after the show
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Bring in the audience of potential buyers  
  • Provide the space and atmosphere that enhances artwork sales
  • Deal with problems immediately
  • Provide an artist listing and map of layout for visitors to navigate
  • Make sure exhibitors are displaying the work represented in their jury images
  • In case of extreme weather, have a system in place for warnings. An example would be automatic phone calls with updates about storms.
  • Provide a survey at the end of the show for artist input

Some shows also provide:
  • Hospitality services for artists including daily lunch
  • Free beverage coupons
  • Booth delivery of water and snacks
  • Booth sitters (important if any artists are doing the show alone)
  • Hospitality location where artists can relax and have some snacks/food
  • Special events: This might include galas for patrons where artists are invited and expected to schmooze.
  • Awards, cash prices or acceptance into the next year's show.
  • Breakfasts, dinners or receptions.
  • Links to lodging and special artist pricing for hotels
  • Parking during the show
  • Fashion shows, music, kids events and other amusements
  • Incentives for patrons to become collectors and commit to purchase a certain dollar amount at the show.
  • Artist Demo’s and/or lectures
  • Brochures with artist listing, images, featured artists, sponsors, map of show layout, and information about the show promoter/organization

AlisonAntelmanNECKLACEHanging Garden Necklace
Hanging Garden Necklace by Alison Antelman
S. silver, 18 + 22k gold, tourmaline, rose cut diamonds.

Thank you Alison for your words of experience. If the readers of ASK Harriete have any suggestions for the responsibilities of craft show organizers, please consider adding them as a comment. It is always good to hear from a range of experience.

NEXT POST:
What is the Artist's Job Before a Art /Craft Event?


RELATED POSTS by Alison Antelman:

6 STEPS to Craft Show Research

Resources for Craft Show Evaluation

Harriete