Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews: Dave Robertson from Rings & Things

(Photo courtesy of Dave - this is him wearing a "toupee of iron chastity-belt tradebeads from Africa")

Today I am very happy to present Dave 'Optimator' Robertson from Rings & Things - seems like he's *everywhere* on the web, from Facebook to Twitter to our blogs (in the comments where he's always enthusiastic and supportive) to the Rings & Things forum, blog, and even behind the scenes in their online catalog (yep, some of the cool features there are courtesy of Dave and his 'leet' web-skillz).

It's always a pleasure to see his posts and Tweets (with his signature smiley face at the end). Dave has gathered a great group of Blog Partners, encourages you to post your business tips and blog comments at the Rings & Things site, tweets about crafty stuff and shares links via "re-tweets" from crafters everywhere - it's those little touches that mean a lot! I was very happy that Dave graciously accepted my offer to be interviewed! So, without further ado - here's the Q&A:

Dawno: Do you personally craft? If so, what? If not, is there any thing you would like to do, if you could?
Dave: Yes, I do some beading. (Tried knitting but I'm not so
coordinated.) We keep a big vat of beads, basic findings, and
stringing materials in the house. A lot of times at Rings & Things
bead shows, either I or my wife will find some bead that we just have
to have! Our stash comes in handy for making gifts, and it's a great
activity to do with the kids. Even our two-year-old has started
stringing his own necklaces, and he's got a very good eye for it.
Dawno: You've mentioned here and there that your degree is in Linguistics - would you tell us a bit about the path from that to Web Optimizer at Rings & Things?
Dave: It's more like two intertwined paths! I've studied Linguistics off
and on for years, and been at Rings & Things for big chunks of the
last decade. At the moment I'm lucky enough to finance my PhD
program by helping sell beads. This relates to the next question, as
you rightly foresaw...
Dawno: What is a Web Optimizer anyway?
Dave: A web optimizer is a person who works to make a website get noticed
more. This involves all kinds of work, from getting involved in an
online community to figuring out which words to use when we write
about our products. That last part has a close connection with my
linguistics training, because it involves researching how people
talk. It's a fun, surprising way to find college studies paying
off. (I'm just the kind of person to really, really enjoy questions
like "Does Google care if people search for us as 'Rings and Things',
or 'Rings n Things', versus 'Rings & Things'?") :)
Dawno: What do you like best about the R&T blogging experience?
Dave: Blogging is a creative outlet. Ideally it's also a challenge like
Twitter: I think you should have a good, clear idea, and say it in a
few powerful words. Be done before the reader is bored. It's
tremendous fun to engage readers & get them to comment on a blog
post. You'll notice, too, that certain kinds of ideas are
characteristic of Rings & Things' blog: new uses for jewelry
components, simple ways to grow your craft business, and other stuff
that we think we'd like to read if we were at someone else's
blog. So the job never gets old.
Dawno: What advice or suggestions can you share with independent artisans about getting their work "out there"?
Dave: I've met lots of artisans in person and online, and my conclusion is
that they're just like any other small business. (1) Make your
creations because they're something you'd love to own, not because
they seem like a trendy item. (2) The web optimizer in me says,
"just Google it". (3) Think about what "marketing" means to you. Persevere.
Dawno: Do you have a favorite story about Bead Tour?
Dave: My favorite stories are animal-related, for some reason. One of my
fondest memories of being on the road for Rings & Things bead shows
is of riding in the "bead truck" somewhere near the gigantic
fireworks barn in Wyoming, and watching an eagle and a pronghorn
antelope race each other. And once, we stopped by the road once in
the middle of the Everglades and walked onto a ramp to look at some
alligators lazing in the water. We got a good close look before we
realized the alligators weren't lazing anymore, and were swimming
toward us fast!
Dawno: Open question - share whatever you'd like to say to our readers.
I love it! If I could say just one thing, I'd ask everyone who has ever bought from Rings & Things to visit our online store...and review every product we've sold you. Your feedback goes straight to the next customer to look at that product, and helps them decide whether to order it. Other ways you can make your mark on our site are to comment at our blog, submit ideas via our craft business tips page, and ask questions or share tips in our discussion forum. (I guess I'm still answering that question about getting your name out there...!)
Don't forget, if you comment on the Rings & Things blog posts you get in on the chance to win their monthly prize. More comments, more chances!

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