Square or round?

dinnerplates

Square or round?

When I first started working in ceramics, I was drawn to square forms. I tried throwing on the wheels for about 3 years creating bowls and plates like other potters but I was never as enthralled as when I could make a square piece. I enjoy my slab roller making square slabbed forms boxes such as a charity box or Tzedakah box. I fall in love  over and again with my Scott Creek extruder when I mass produce my rectangular sponge holders.  I have seen many round sponge holders with cuts in the middle or open holes in the front to house the sponge but logically sponges are rectangular so why wouldn’t sponge holders? It is no wonder the sponge holders have become my number one seller on the Etsy Shop Extrudergirl.

Sponge holder

Recently, I have taken to making plates. I love the authenticity of creating a handmade plate as opposed to throwing a plate on the potter’s wheel. There is more intimacy in the process for me. The mark of the potter is very present instead of the clean smoothness of a wheel thrown plate. As I was photographing the latest sets of round plates for my Etsy shop, I realized I had no square plates in my dinner plate’s series. This was not a conscious decision but perhaps a psychologically unconscious one based on practicality and design

800px-Unglazed_platesAre round plates fashioned out of habit or functionality? I think as food eaters we are trained from an early age to eat on round plates. Was it easier to form round objects before the potter’s wheel when pinching plates, cups and bowls? In the early years of potter resources were limited so pressing clay in the palm of your hand or onto a surface such a wide stone would lend towards a shape being round. Are round plates out of necessity for space on a dining table? When setting a dining table round plates allows for easy access to the flatware and drinking vessels.  Are round plates traditional and square are modern? After all sushi plates, another good sellers of mine, are square or rectangular. The Chinese had mastered porcelain in the early 600AD; the process of kiln firing and glazing that potters continue to use today. Once” trade routes opened to China in the 1300’s” (WorldCollectors), dinner plates became sought after by European nobility; so round plates have been a-round forever.

Square or round? You can get the same amount of food on both designs with the same volume. Open your dish cabinet, do you have square or round? I bet they are round.  Don’t feel so bad, I am guilty too of only using rounds plates. But rest assure, there are going to be square plates on my Etsy shop soon.

Resource:
WorldCollectors. (n.d.). Collector Plates and Plate Collecting. Retrieved from worldcollectorsnet.com: http://www.worldcollectorsnet.com/features/plates/

 

Clay, Blog, Tweet

5thave

            Clay flows naturally. The feel of moist de-aired stoneware being manipulated by my fingers, awakens me. The smell of wet earth saturates my soul and elicits me to listen to the clay body. As I slowly pull the malleable form from the left lower bottom, the energy between my fingers and the clay gently guides me along the inner thigh, over the slightly curved belly, and finally gliding up to the neck of a now ceramic berry bowl. Clay seduces me. So do words. My traditional approach of using a medium blue ball point pen embracing the white writing paper engenders fluidly with a soothing current rushing with salacious content. Words impassion me when my fingers frolic across the laptop keyboard with a click chasing echo, enticing readers with the slightest familiar visual touch, the breeze of a seasoned woman’s inflection, and the well-crafted sound of strong punctuation. Taking clay and transposing it into words is like developing a blog for me with a ceramic twist. Clay blogging implores tweeting. And Twitter, a micro blog (Rogers, 2012), puts my clay in the hands of the reader.

A rubber band snuggly keeps the clay bag sealed from the Florida humidity. Before I take to a 2” wedge of clay, I determine the goal of its form. Like blogging, I focus on what I want to announce or produce. I research and listen to what my competitors are creating (Li & Bernoff, 2011). I etch out a plan targeting a season, a celebration, a purpose for the consumer to purchase perhaps my berry bowls in various colors. Like in blogging, I “ask for participation” (Jantsch) on the style, are they too short or too wide? I invite feedback on color combinations, are they too bright or too dull? I organize my space, my time allotted for the project, and then, I begin. I construct the berry bowl. After glazing and firing the bowls in the kiln, I list them on my Extrudergirl shop. Just like in my blog, I give the reader a visual focal point to accompany my words (Egan, 2015). I display the completed piece with a crisp eye catching photo to lure the Etsy viewer to buy it.  Like the personalization of content in a blog (Sprung, 2015), the mark of the potter can be seen and felt. The Etsy buyer can appreciate the quality of the craftsmanship as they unpack the berry bowl from the box and it is in their hands.

I often hear quality is better than quantity (Schaefer, 2012). This is especially true when it comes to clay and tweets. I could cheaply mass produce my ceramic pieces but it would diminish the level of expertise it takes to create the bowl, choose the correct color combination, and dazzling presentation on the Extrudergirl shop. This focus on quality starts with the name for a berry bowl or a headline for a tweet. The description of the ceramic piece or the main topic keywords of a tweet should be in the first three to five words (Schaefer, 2012); “red berry bowl” doesn’t capture an audience like my “Handmade Fifth Avenue Christmas Red Ceramic Berry Bowl”. Engaging content can capture a buyer or lose the viewer. With a 140 characters for a tweet on Twitter (Jantsch), it is a little harder and exemplifies the craft of listening to what followers like and want. I recently tweeted the following which achieved 67 Twitter Impressions:

TopTweet

This meant that 67 people were interactive or engaged with the Tweet (Doctor, 2013). On the listing page of my berry bowl, I am not as limited to specific characters. However, I want to swiftly engage the consumer with clever wordage and provide a purpose for them to buy the bowl as noted below:

5thave3

If  “tweeps” (Schaefer, 2012), fellow twitters, send me a direct message on Twitter or  a consumer starts a conversation with me on my Etsy account about the berry bowl, it is imperative to have a “timely response” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Good communication delivers authenticity and demonstrates that you are listening to the consumer and your tweeps.

            Clay, blog, tweet is a powerful combination that has helped me and fellow potters build our personal professional brand identity and acknowledgement of expertise. Potters can reach an audience with not just their ceramic pieces but words about clay production, life as a potter, and ceramic technical information (Schwartz, 2015). The ceramic world has a vast presence on Twitter. With the use of hashtags, Twitter networking, lead generation, and a platform for quick product development feedback, Twitter can get the potter back in the studio and not consumed by the social media landscape. A consumer can look at my berry bowl and recognize the quality once they own it. A reader can read my blog and become engrossed with the craft of my words; and Twitter followers can retweet my context that they like. I implore . . . clay, blog, tweet, repeat. It works.

Works Cited

Doctor, V. (2013, July 13). Understanding Twitter Impressions: Why Are They Important? Retrieved from Hashtags.org: https://www.hashtags.org/platforms/twitter/understanding-twitter-impressions-why-are-they-important/

Egan, J. (2015, 1 6). 9 Tips for Making Your Blog Better in 2015. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-egan/9-tips-for-making-your-bl_b_6397640.html

Herzog, A. (2014, 2 24). 10 Best Practices for Tweeting in 2014. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ari-herzog/10-best-practices-for-twitter_b_4834232.html

Jantsch, J. (n.d.). Let’s Talk Social Media for Small Business. Retrieved from Duct Tape Marketing: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/socialmediaforbusiness.pdf

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Rogers, J. (2012, April 5). The Social Media MBS: Part 3: Social Media Landscape. Retrieved from Maximize Social Business: http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/social-media-mba-part-3-social-media-landscape-6443/

Schaefer, M. (2012). The Tao of Twitter. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Schwartz, B. (2015, Jan 3). Top Pottery Blogs 2014. Retrieved from Pottery Making Info: http://www.potterymakinginfo.com/news/top-pottery-blogs-2014/

Sprung, R. (2015, 1 15). 4 Ways to Create an Engaging Blog Experience. Retrieved from Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/create-engaging-blog-experience/#more-76151

Getting Dirty With Social Media Tools

Getting Dirty With Social Media Tools

I spend eight hours a day five days a week talking ceramics. After work, I come home and walk in the countryside of Florida a mile and a half with my toy fox terrier, Puppup. As eight o’clock rolls around, I crack open the laptop and start my Master’s Program term homework. On the weekends during the day, when my hands are not covered in moist clay, I might be packing up an order, designing new plates, or blending glazes to provoke that exclamation “Wow!” from the next group of wedding registry millennials on Etsy.

On nights that are raining and we are not walking, I am select Etsy shops for my next Treasury on Etsy. This shopping gallery of 16 featured Etsy stores pulls in viewers, favorites, and orders to my Etsy shop Extrudergirl. Once the Treasury is designed, I post a link to it on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. At the end of the month, I run a traffic source report to see which social media network is working for me as seen below*:

trafficsourceetsy

* (Etsy, 2015)

In trying to expand my marketing for Extrudergirl, I have started delve into Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Trying to maintain the different social media networks is time consuming even when I am not balancing work, home, a small business and school.  A month ago, I was introduced to a free social media management site called Hootsuite.  This program allows me to schedule my posts to a variety of social media networks. I can check daily, weekly and monthly scheduled posts making appropriate adjustments with one click.  I have new insight to my posts, followers and content with Twitter, Google Analytics and Ow.ly.  The reports created helped me make better decisions on content I was posting based on what my followers have been responding to (Hootsuite). The dashboard gives me a quick snap shot of my Twitter account when @Extrudergirl has been mentioned in a post, or I have been retweeted or liked as well as any current activity of those I am following.

A few days after Hootsuite, I came upon Klout. The Klout is tool that measures your presence on the social media landscape. When I first signed on my Klout score was an 18.94. I was disappointed. I had read that the average score is 40 and wanted to know how to achieve such notary (Klout, 2013). After following some very simple instructions on post content, time and volume, my Klout score increased within days. I held a new steady score of 48. Combining the results of Klout with Hootsuite helped me to decide to use Facebook for my personal use only and not my Extrudergirl ceramic business.

Using Hootsuite and Klout as my new social media tools for posting to my Twitter and Google+ account, I thought about an article I read by Cindy King where she talked about Social Mention (King, 2011) which tracks “and measures what people are saying about your company” (socialmention). This search reports specific keywords related to your company or products. This unique tool will help me be more conscious of words I wanted related to my Etsy store Extrudergirl when people do searches. I did a search of Extrudergirl. My name was linked to my blog, Extrudergirl, and the word ceramic as seen below.

socialmention

                This result was startling. I am new to the Hashtag world. Almost everyone has seen and a good handful of you have used the pound sign (#) with a word after it. I thought I would at least have something linked to #extrudergirl since I have been using that to tag pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In an article I recently read by Cindy King, she recommended Tagbound (King C. , 2015). Tagboard lets you see what is being said related to your hashtag across the social media landscape. I am hoping in the next three months as I expand my Twitter usage and remain consistent with blogging, that the hashtags will be measurable.

My Extrudergirl social media goal over the next three months is to increase my Klout Twitter Score, adding posts to my Google+, and use hashtags and keywords to drive followers, fans and buyers to Extrudergirl. As my blogging grows and tweeting content improves, I am hoping to increase my retweets, tweet likes and Google+1 volume as well. For now, I am heading back to the studio to get dirty.

Resources:

Extrudergirl Stats (2015). Shop Stats 2009-2015 Traffic Source. Etsy. Retrieved from: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/Extrudergirl/stats?ref=seller_platform_hdr

Hootsuite Platform (n.d.). Everything You Need In One Place. Hoostsuite. Retrieved from: https://hootsuite.com/products/platform

Keath, J. (2015) Ultimate Recap: Top New Social Media Tools for 2014. Socialfresh. Retrieved from: http://www.socialfresh.com/ultimate-recap-top-new-social-media-tools-of-2014/

King, C. (2011). 12 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/12-social-media-tools-recommended-by-the-pros/

King. C, (2015). 44 Social Media Tools Recommended By The Pros. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/44-social-media-tools-recommended-pros/

Measure (2015). Mesaure Page Extrudergirl Account. Klout. Retrieved from: https://klout.com/#/measure

The Klout Score (2013). What is the Average Klout Score? Klout. Retreived from: http://support.klout.com/customer/portal/articles/679109-what-is-the-average-klout-score-