Sunday, June 28, 2009
THIS VINTAGE STYLE NECKLINE NECKLACE... WAS HANDMADE WITH SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL AND SHADES OF GREEN BEADS .... NEVER WORN.. AND TRULY A BEAUTY TO ENJOY IN THE YEARS TO COME !
My Etsy Shop: http://www.hollywoodspotlight.etsy.com
My Blog: http://hollywoodspotlightjewelry.blogspot.com
Friday, June 26, 2009
My Shop:http://www.scarlettcat.etsy.com/My Blog:http://scarlettcat.blogspot.com/ My Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/people/scarlettcat
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I loved the color variety of different kinds of yarns, but especially acrylic, they have more choices of mixed colors in one yarn ball and it is not so scratchy like wool and it is tough but fantastic to work with. I also like the mix of acrylic and cotton, soft and very easy to crochet with, but not many colors to choose from.
This is where my crochet mania began. I tried several times to crochet out of a book, but first it was hard to follow, this is where YouTube on the internet came in. I searched for crochet and bingo, found this great lady that has tutorials on basic stitches to fantastic projects to complete. This is truly the time I got hooked. I tried and completed almost all the projects she taught. But most of all I fell in love with making mobile/cell phone pouches. I started on one and to this day I think I have over 20.
Because I love them so much I wanted to share these with the world. This is where Etsy came in. I was surfing the internet and really got interested in blogging. Everyone was blogging. I read so many of them, I came upon one that posted out pod cast of interviews of crafty people. One of them was of how Etsy was born.
Then I had the fantastic idea, hay why not, I can create a blog and share my crochet creations and designs in the process. Because I love to crochet and want to share my work, I went to check out Etsy, even though it is USA based, they have a great online community where people all over the world sell their handmade creations and they are reasonable with thier fees. Did you know that 95% of Etsians are women.
So I signed in and created my storefront and added my phone pouches and bookmarks. This was a start to my new beginning. A small shop front of my own, with my own creations, sharing them with the world, wow. In time, I started adding more, scarfs, pencil cases, clothes.
As time went by I bought a ring from one the Esty sellers and I thought hang on a minute maybe I can try one of my own. I bought few more and in return I received a bundle of tutorial on how to create my own ring, this included a mandrol too. Wow, I have to give this a shot. Spotlight was my goal, they are a huge store and have variety of products, espcially beads. I straight away fell in love with glass beads, they sparkle and shine. I started experimenting with all sorts of colors and combinations, earrings, rings, bracelets. These designs were so easy to put together that I had to add them to my Etsy store. I started out with beaded bookthongs and now have variety of charms, zipper pulls, bookmarks and recently added beaded jewelry, bracelets, rings, earrings and now I am thinking of adding necklaces.
I am so happy with these designs and creations that I will continue adding more to my store. I have a short positive saying, "I am creative". This I have stitched onto my sleeping hat and each morning I wake up I have many ideas going through my mind, I find it hard to keep up with myself. I love colors, yarn and hooks and now beads, I would love to share this with each and every one of you. So please check out my store and blog and look out for those colorful creations.
Crochet Creations (Etsy store) - http://monikarose.etsy.com
MonikaRose Crochets (blog) - http://monikarosecrochets.blogspot.com/
My three items to feature:
A bookthong full of color
Mobile/Cell Phone Pouch - THe Blues
Red Soft Scarf
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
If you remember your kindergarten days, you might re-call several occasions in which you mashed and poked away at that vivid and doughy sculpting clay called Plasticine. This stuff would entertain me for hours, and I always loved it more than Playdough because it would never dry up. Whenever something looked all wrong, you could just ball it in your hands and roll it around some more to create something entirely different.
Polymer clay is quite similar to Plasticine. Both of these clays are somewhat solid when you buy them, but are softer from the heat of your hands. They both have an "oily" feel to them that leaves that residue on your hands, and they do not harden in the air. Plasticine is one of those clays that does not solidify at all, unlike Polymer Clay which, when baked, turns hard as a rock. So, if you intend to create a figurine, piece of jewelry, or some dollhouse miniatures that you would like to last forever, than Polymer Clay would be your best bet.
But Polymer Clay is a clay in name only. It is actually PVC based, and is more of a moldable and sculptable plastic than anything. It doesn't actually contain any Earth clay at all. Polymer Clay doesn't require any curing in a kiln, but it does require you to bake it in a conventional oven, ranging from 265* F to 275* F for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the object you are baking. Afterwards, you may choose to sand buff it to create a surface sheen, file down any imperfections, and than leave it as-is or gloss it with a water-based finish.
Polymer Clay isn't a new concept. In fact, it has been on store shelves for almost 40 years as a sculpting material, and even longer for other purposes. So, it's no surprise that there are a vast array of clay brands and colours to choose from.
The most popular and well-known brands of Polymer Clay are Fimo Soft and Sculpey III. Through the years, these companies have come out with different formulas for their clays, so the texture and feeling of the raw clay in your hands has changed tremendously overtime. For a beginner, I would suggest that working with either Fimo Soft or Sculpey III would be your best bet, namely because they are easy to handle and easy to find. You can easily find other brands as well online, such as Premo or Kato Polyclay, and they can also be found in your local hobby or arts & crafts store.
Polymer Clay generally comes in small 2oz packs of one particular colour, although many brands also offer boxes of 24 or 32 small packets of various colours to get you started. This may be your cheapest option if you have never worked with clay before. If you wish to create something with just a few colours, than you might be better off just purchasing the small amount of colours that you need. You may want to go ahead and buy just one block of each brand just so you can get a feel for their qualities and decide which brand works best for you.
One of the most favourable aspects of working with Polymer Clay is that it comes in so many colours. There is basic colours, fluorescent, metallic, pearl, glow in the dark, translucent, glittery, and even textured clays. Unlike sculpting materials like Terra Cotta, you don't have to spend all the work painting your creations afterwards. The option is always there if you would like to add details after your goodies have been baked with paint such as acrylics.
The great thing about colourful Polymer Clay is that it does not shrink or alter shape after baking, and most of the colours only change hues a very small bit and are quite unnoticeable. The downside of so many colours to choose from is trying to keep them separate. If you have several packages of opened clay, you may want to invest in some zipper-top baggies and an airtight container. If you have too much clay to handle, invest in one of those plastic organizers with the different compartments. Grab some sticker labels, write down the colours, and stick them on the matching compartments. This will keep your colours separate and clean. A good idea is to keep opened clay in one place and un-opened clay in another place to avoid opening several packages of the same colour when you already have some opened.
Cleanliness is another huge factor in Polymer Clay sculpting. Light colours such as White and Yellow just love to pick up specks of dirt and dust from the air and your hands. Even when your hands appear clean, these specks somehow seem to find their way onto your clay. Here are a 3 steps to keeping your clay nice and clean.
1) Keep a smooth and clear work surface. An ideal surface would be a big chunk of ceramic tile or glass. Clean thoroughly with soapy water, baby wipes, or some rubbing alcohol. After the surface starts to get tacky or oily again, keep paper towels and alchohol to give your surface a wipe down.
2) Keep your hands clean. I find that washing up with dishwashing liquid and letting your hands air dry works the best. Cotton towels are monsters for little specks of dust, so avoid them. Also avoid wiping your hands on anything or touching anything. A good hard wipe with a paper towel on your hands does wonders in getting off any dust. Keep a scrap piece of clay to roll between your hands to get off any spare dust that the paper towel didn't pick up.
3) Work with dark colours last. Dark colours leave dark residue on your work surface, and when you are rolling light colours on the same area, you are going to pick this residue up and your colours can get very muddy. Also, red seems to be a bad culprit in bleeding into other colours, so consider this a "dark" colour.
Another addition to Polymer Clay is the very useful "Liquid Clay" usually sold under the names "TLS - Translucent Liquid Sculpey" under the Sculpey brand, or "Fimo Decorating Gel" under the Fimo brand. Use liquid clay on your wire when you insert it into the clay before baking. This keeps it from slipping or falling out eventually, and acts as a very good adhesive or glue. When you attach pieces of clay to each other before baking, try adding a bit of Liquid Clay to the joint before sticking it on, as this will ensure a strong grip onto the clay base. Liquid Clay can make very attractive garnishes, such as frosting, icing, syrup, and glaze. If you add some colour, either by Oil Paint or by shaving in some hard coloured pastel, you can make yourself some glaze or syrup. If you add solid clay to the liquid clay, you can stir it constantly to a smooth consistency and make some very tasty looking frosting or icing for some clay cupcakes. Liquid clay can be baked with the rest of your clay at the same temperature and the same time, so they can be combined effortlessly.
Polymer Clay can be rolled out and cut out with cookie cutters, it can be pushed through a clay "extruder" to create strands in all different sizes and shapes, it can be sculpted with an unlimited amount of tools such as toothpicks and Popsicle sticks, and it can be rolled into different shapes and stuck on itself. Experiment! If you look up "Polymer Clay Tutorials" on the internet or in a bookstore, you will get many helpful resources to get you started as well if you do not know where to begin.
You can do a lot with clay. It doesn't just have to sit on a shelf and collect dust. You can wrap pens in it, create picture frames and light switch panels, or you could do what I do - make some jewellery! Before baking, try sticking some wire loops or eye pins in the clay so that it can be hung on things like jumprings and earring loops. Polymer Clay makes very attractive necklace pendants, rings, keychains, and all sorts of accessories that anyone can enjoy.
Sculpting with Polymer Clay is an entirely different world where you are free to create all that your imagination conjures up. What I have explained will get you started, but if you are ever curious to know more about the art, there is a wonderful Polymer Clay encyclopedia on GlassAttic.com. The creator is a Polymer Clay guru, and she is always happy to explain anything you need to know about the wonderful art of Polymer Clay. Experiment and enjoy!
Original Source: Crafts: Working With Polymer Clay
My Etsy Shop: http://www.MonsterKookies.etsy.com
My Blog: http://MonsterKookies.blogspot.com
My Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/monsterkookies
Monday, June 22, 2009
Many of my pillows become family heirlooms that will forever be treasured. Each one is personalized and customized to the person receiving the item. I make them for any ocassion. My most popular are my wedding pillows which can be given as a gift on the bride and grooms wedding day or ordered in advance to be used as the Ring Bearer pillow. I also design pillows and quilted wall hangings for birth announcements, first name personalization, monograms or to read a special sentiment.
My pillows are sold on my etsy shop http://www.boutiquepillows.etsy.com and I started a new store recently to showcase my quilts, http://www.patchworkbabyquilts.com .
I also sell on my website http://www.quiltsgaloreandmore.com where you will find my complete line. I am always adding inventory and always welcome new custom orders.
Friday, June 19, 2009
https://twitter.com/JohnToftBaskets is my twitter site. It's a variation on JohnToftBasketry only because Twitter could not handle all the letters in the longer name.
My blog shows the same imaginative choice of words as http://johntoftbasketryatetsy.blogspot.com/. That blog is a combination of everything you could possible want to know about basket-making as well as a few stories on the trials and tribulations of raising an autistic person to adulthood, plus other topics that caught my interest.
My baskets are where my imagination and love of colour and design are allowed to be free. My baskets combine English and North American basket-making techniques in beautiful and whimsical manners that produce goods that are a joy to behold and own. The baskets combine three kinds of natural materials: willow and grapevine grown in my garden in suburban Ottawa, and rattan cane imported from China and Indonesia.
I specialize in three main types of baskets: sewing baskets (English style), rib baskets and market baskets (North American style). My blog of June 9th has an eight-step tutorial that shows how to make a tray with basket edging from kits I have put together. This is an easy introduction to basket-making for beginners.
I was introduced to basket-making over 50 years ago as a child at elementary school in England in craft classes. There my twin brother and I so enjoyed basket-making, and got so caught up in competing with each other to exceed each other, that the school almost ran out of supplies. About a dozen years ago I told the story of this basket-making odyssey to my wife Anne, and a basket-making book appeared as a Christmas gift. So began my saga as a basket-maker.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Liquid Clay comes in many forms, but many of us just refer to all brands as TLS, which actually stands for "Translucent Liquid Sculpey". In actuality, Sculpey certainly isn't the only one who makes Liquid Clay. Fimo makes a Liquid Clay called "Fimo Decorating Gel", and Kato makes a Liquid Clay called "Clear Liquid Polyclay".
From my experience, you can use a WIDE variety of things with your Liquid Clay. If you want it to be Translucent though, I suggest using Fimo Decorating Gel. It is EXTREMELY translucent and makes the BEST sauces and syrups and anything else that needs to be coloured but still still transparent. TLS will leave you with an opaque mixture, so it's good for things that don't need to be see-through like chocolate sauce, slime, blood, icing, etc.
For colouring, things like Oil Paints, shaved Oil Pastels, Chalk Pastel/Charcoal, Kneaded Polymer Clay, Eyeshadow, Metallic Powders, Alcohol-Based Ink, Dry Pigment Powder, etc...
DON'T use Acrylic Paint. It does BAD things when baked, and turns out like crap!
I can't tell you how many times I have been questioned on how to use liquid clay, though. How do you make icing? How do you make chocolate sauce? All sorts of things can be made from it, so here is a little list that I have compiled!
Blood Hah, figures I start out with something morbid, huh? A good thick red blood is a combination of TLS and red oil paint. Just squeeze a dab into the TLS, mix it up, and than drizzle or squeeze this liquid onto the object of your choice. Here is an example of BLOOD: [link]
Slime Like blood, slime is just compiled of TLS and a mixture of a bright or royal blue and bright yellow oil paint. Just mix and use! Here is an example of SLIME: [link]
Frosting/Icing When I make icing, it is generally a mix of TLS and Kneaded Polymer Clay. If you add Polymer Clay to TLS, it gives the mixture a very spreadable texture, and is much more thicker than using something like Oil Paint. Just take a ball of the colour of polymer clay you want your icing to be, and knead/warm it in your hands. When it is nice and warm, tear it into pieces and throw it onto a ceramic tile or into a container.
With the back of a spoon or a solid mixing object, add TLS and mix and mash it until it becomes smooth. A lot of people get discouraged because it is chunky at first, but trust me... just KEEP mixing. If it is too thick, add more TLS... if it is too thin, add more clay. After it is nice and smooth, spread it onto your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies with a stirring stick or something that spreads well! Here is an example of FROSTING/ICING: [link]
Syrup & Sauces A great way to make syrup is with TLS or Fimo Decorating Gel and shaved chalk pastels. If you want a VERY clear syrup, I suggest using Fimo Decorating Gel. Take a brown chalk pastel, and swipe it across a nail file or piece of very fine sand and put it into a little baggie. Add a little bit of Liquid Clay and squish it around with your fingers until it is mixed. This will make Maple Syrup! If you want something like a strawberry syrup, just use red chalk pastel! If you don't have any Fimo Decorating Gel, mixing the chalk pastel with some gloss also works well. Now you just pour it on top of Pancakes, Waffles, Cheesecake and such!
Here is an example done with Fimo Decorating Gel: [link]
Here is an example done with TLS, see how much more opaque the syrup is? [link]
Peanut Butter Whether you like it crunchy or smooth, all you need is TLS and some kneaded brown (peanut butter coloured) clay! Just knea the clay, add the TLS and mix mix MIX! The more you mix, the more smooth your peanut butter will be. If you don't mix it all the way, you have chunky peanut butter!
Whipped Cream Like Frosting/Icing, Whipped Cream is also made with a mixture of TLS and Kneaded Polymer Clay. Just add slightly more TLS. If you want that "piped" look, just scoop some into a baggie, cut the corner, and squeeze it out! You can also use Cake Decorating bags and tips, as well! Just make sure to keep ones just for using with your clay - don't use them for cake decorating once you use them with clay! Sometimes I like to add a tiny bit of Vanilla Scent to my whipped cream just for fun! Here is an example of Whipped Cream: [link]
Here is an example of how whipped cream or frosting can be PIPED to make it look really pretty: [link]
Chocolate Sauce: Is made the same was as blood and slime (Gross, huh?) except with Brown oil paint!
Drizzle: Great for finishing off baked goodies like cinnamon rolls and donuts! Just mix some TLS with some white oil paint (for Vanilla Drizzle) or any colour you want, stick it in a small baggie and make a TINY cut in the corner! Drizzle across your piece, and bake! Here is an example of Drizzle: [link]
Have anymore suggestions? Go ahead and make a comment!
Etsy Shop: http://www.MonsterKookies.etsy.com
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Try and reduce the amount of packaging you are using. It's important to keep a variety of boxes and envelopes on hand so you don't have to put a small item in an oversized box. Also, consider a refillable packing tape dispenser and buy replacement tape rolls in bulk, rather than buying packing tape with a new dispenser each time (P.s. - those cardboard tape rolls make excellent bead or knick-knack dividers when a cardboard circle is glued to the bottom!)
Avoid double and triple packing items – for instance, a necklace in a mini zip bag, in a gift box, in a bag, wrapped in tissue, in a shipping box.... you get the idea!
Don't be shy - see some great boxes sitting outside a business or at your work? See if you can take them to reuse. Trophy shops, gift stores and even restaurants often have oodles of boxes. See if you can find a local business to partner with and offer to take all that "waste" off their hands!
Fill material is important for many Etsy sellers sending fragile items. Plastic bubble wrap and peanuts have their place, but you probably have things around your house that will work just as well! Popcorn is an excellent replacement for foam peanuts (encourage buyers to throw it in their yard for the squirrels!) Newspapers, magazine pages, and junk mail make excellent fill material when crumpled. Save the tissue paper from new purses or shoes to reuse. Many department stores put colored tissue paper inside shopping bags - reuse it! If you have a paper shredder to shred your bills, save those shreds for padding!
If you print your own shipping labels, why not print them on the back of scrap paper? Grab a few sheets out of the recycle bin at your office and print on the back. As long as the paper isn't too transparent, this works great and gets another use out of a sheet of paper before it goes to the recycle bin. Recycling is great, but it takes a lot of energy to recycle paper and plastic, so it’s most efficient to get as many uses out of an item as possible before it is recycled.
Extra fabric cut into strips makes for charming ribbon and ties. During the holiday season, if your yard is covered in pinecones, try using some as a festive fill material! Packing materials are everywhere…
If you are wary of how using reused materials might affect your business image, just consider it a marketing challenge. You could buy a rubber stamp that proudly announces you have reused packaging. Or consider an announcement in your shop that tells customers they can expect their package to arrive in eco-friendly upcycled packaging. Additionally, consider wrapping your main item in lovely printed tissue paper to make it stand out from your mishmash of upcycled fill material.
If you need to use new packing materials, consider eco-friendly products such as cornstarch peanuts or 100% recycled bubble wrap.
Be sure recycling is part of your shipping process. Scraps, packing material or other goods that cannot be reused or upcycled should be sent to the recycle bin. Avoid buying packing supplies that come with extraneous packing or waste.
Part of the recycle mantra that sometimes gets forgotten is to also BUY recycled. In the United States, its easy to buy recycled if you ship Priority Mail, because all of their packaging is Cradle to Cradle certified! Check to see if your favorite shipping supply vendor offers products made from 100% recycled content, or with a high post-consumer content percentage. Uline.com offers several products that are made from recycled content: http://www.uline.com/CustomerService/ULINE_FAQ_Ans.aspx?FAQ_ID=147&searchedkeywords=recycled
Additionally, recycled labels can be found at: http://www.theallgreenstore.com/green-office-supplies/mailroom-supplies.html
If your favorite supplier doesn't offer supplies made from recycled materials, ask! Show them there is a demand for these products.
If you have unique packing needs, try searching the Internet for greener options by using a search engine like http://green.thefind.com or http://www.earthmoment.com/.
How far have your mailing supplies traveled to get to you? Are you driving to the post office twice a week to pick up boxes or to mail items? Are you ordering packing supplies once a month? Driving back and forth to the post office or having goods delivered to you more frequently than needed wastes energy.
Printing your own postage labels at home will save you time and gas - in the United States, you can log in to USPS.com to arrange for packages to be picked up by your postal carrier. This is more efficient because they are already making the rounds through your neighborhood! Keep in mind, the USPS will also drop off packing supplies to you - order them for free online at USPS.com.
And while it may be painful on your wallet in the short-term, consider ordering your packing supplies in large enough quantities to last a year. You will usually find a lower per-piece price for buying in bulk, and you are saving energy by minimizing the number of deliveries you get (less truck trips to your house saves gas!)
Don’t forget to keep your packages light, especially if you need to use Air Mail. Tissue paper, newspaper, popcorn and paper shreds make for good padding and lightweight packages and help save fuel.
Complete the circle:
Lastly, urge your customers to recycle and reuse the packaging you've invested in!
Wrap items in ribbon or fabric that can be upcycled again and again. Provide your customers with information on how to recycle their packaging and/or what parts of your package are recyclable, and where they can find recycling outlets (http://earth911.com is a good site). This is information that makes great fodder for your newsletters or Message to Buyers.
If you're still not sure you are being as green as possible, you could offset your shipping operations by purchasing carbon credits from a broker such as Terrapass (http://www.terrapass.com/). Carbon offsets are not without controversy, but you will be funding green energy projects.
What do you do to keep shipping green?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Perfect for BRIDESMAID gifts, TEACHERS, HOSTESS gifts, GRADUATES...
More Gocco Screenprints on the way!...... Letterpress in the coming months!
Monday, June 15, 2009
I know plenty of you think it's your store, your prices, Etsy customers etc, but here's one set of events that applies to every new seller.
It's all about connections and connections take time.
It could go a little something like this:
♥ Day 1 ♥
When you first open your store, nobody can find you. You may as well have opened on Pluto. You will not sell anything.
Connections - 0*
♥ Day 2 ♥
Then you list a product. It appears first in the Time Machine and puts your shop at the top of the Seller list. But it will quickly move down that list. If you're lucky a couple of people may stumble across you in these places. You probably still won't sell anything!
Connections - 4*
♥ Week 1 ♥
You list more products (hopefully over a period of days). More opportunities for different buyers/sellers to visit your store. Maybe some of them will 'heart' your store. If so, you'll appear in their favourites list.
Connections - 20*
♥ Week 2 ♥
You start making forum posts. Now you're building relationships with other buyers and sellers. Hopefully they're starting to visit you.
As you build up these relationships, you'll find more and more people put you in their favourites lists. The more favourite lists you appear in, the more likely it is that people who visit another sellers store will wind up in yours.
Connections - 80*
♥ Week 3 ♥
Now you've built up a decent number of connections on Etsy.
Maybe someone will pop you in a treasury (more connections), you're now hearting people (they check their hearts and bingo! more connetions), you're regularly posting in the forums (connections), and you're listing regularly (you guessed it - connections).
Connections - 300*
♥ Week 4 ♥
Finally all these connections and links to your store pay off. Someone buys something. Now your store also appears in the 'Sold' Time Machine and in 'feedback'. Plus the buyer will start talking about what he or she bought from you - so now you're also getting word of mouth outside of Etsy.
Connections - 1200*
You can see where this is heading. The connections build up exponentially, which explains why nothing happens for 4 weeks or 8 weeks or 12 weeks and then all of a sudden you're rushed off your feet!
So if you're new, don't panic.
Just build up as many connections (on and OFF Etsy) as you can.
* number of connections example only and based on nothing more than my fertile imagination.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
by now most of you have heard of Twitter. and if you are not using it yet, why not?!
of all the social networking sites I use (Flickr, blogs, etc), I have seen the biggest results with Twitter.
I can count about 10 sales so far (of my 75 total) from customers who found me via Twitter. In fact, I just got one the other day :)
here's why Twitter works:
you can reach a LARGE amount of people with minimal effort! (be sure to not "protect" your updates, or else they will not appear in the public timeline).
and actually, a large number of those Twitter sales came from people who had never even heard of Etsy before! they saw my items, liked them enough to sign up, and made a purchase! isn't that wonderful?! :)
I spend most of my time "promoting" more on Twitter than anywhere else. a lot of people may frequent the forums here on Etsy, or chat, or take out ads on sites like CraftCult. here's the thing though -- mostly it's just sellers who know about these. and we all know that we are usually looking to sell, not buy! ;)
Twitter reaches soooo many different people. and who knows, one of them might like something enough to make a purchase!
a few quick tips:
-- participate! @ reply to people and get talking!
-- don't "spam", i.e. posting nothing but link after link. people are less likely to click on anything you post if it's ALL you post
-- follow people back! you don't have to follow anyone you don't feel comfortable following, but a lot of people DO unfollow those who don't follow back
-- follow @Etsy and check out who they are following and who's following them!
-- ask questions of your followers! tweet something like, "what are you working on today?" or "what did you have for dinner?" anything to interact and get the ball rolling!
-- be sure to post a link to your shop in your bio page, and also use keywords. I have had a lot of people on Twitter find me by searching Twitter for "jewelry" or "photography".
basically, Twitter is a wonderful marketing tool! it's quick (only 140 characters allowed!) and it's fun too. a great time-waster ;) and hey, if you make some sales with it, fabulous! also, it's free. :)
you can follow me here:
I look forward to tweeting with you all! :)
Friday, June 12, 2009
These are all great tips for photography. I do a lot of photos of Rosaries, which are a great deal like jewelry to photograph. I have tried several different types of lighting, backgrounds and settings on the camera. I recently got a new digital camera. I am still learning it, but have found some interesting things to do with it that have helped.
My additional tips:
1. Learn your camera. Even if you can’t access the on-line instructions, play with it. Take photos in different lighting, different backgrounds and different settings. You may take a lot of photos, but it is worth it. I have seen a lot of very bad jewelry photos. I have seen a lot of very bad rosary photos (those are all mine)!
2. Lighting. Very important, but you may be able to work with what you have. All the digital cameras I have had allow you to choose your lighting settings… fluorescent, incandescent, etc. However, after playing with all of my settings, I found leaving it on the incandescent (or it’s original settings) worked best because I could adjust in photo software.
3. Background or backdrop. I recently purchased several pieces of different colors of satin fabric. After trying photos with various pieces on various colors, white STILL works best. I still have difficulty with photographing white, but I have a royal blue piece that helps a little. Gold and silver tones are also difficult, as sometimes what works for the color of beads does not work with the color of the metal.
4. Flash. With jewelry-type items, I have found setting the camera to flash ALL THE TIME is better than allowing it to decide which is better (the auto setting). It is VERY difficult to fix lighting issues with jewelry-type items. They either become too bright or you can never get the color proper.
Some colors almost never photograph true to color. Purple is a big issue. I try to just make sure if I cannot get the color accurate or close to accurate that I list that in a listing. I also try to get several different photos. Most of my listings here and on other sites have multiple photos. Y’all are more than welcome to check out some of my photos of my rosaries. If you go to the item’s page, you can see how I list several photos for better “look see’s”.
Another tip for photos of jewelry-type items. Make use of your Macro setting. Some cameras will use it automatically. Mine does. I just learned that recently. Macro allows you to take really close up photos.
Tips for taking photos without a flash (sometimes it’s necessary) USE A TRIPOD! I don’t always do this and they come out blurry. I have one item with an additional photo (pink miracle bead cat rosary) that was taken without a flash. I have it listed as the photo is for color reference only, as miracle beads (also known as fiber optic beads) give a halo effect when a photo is taken.
I use Corel Paint Shop Pro, and it allows you to brighten photos, as well as adjust the color balance. It helps with lighting, as sometimes lighting can change the color of metal. I rarely adjust the gold-tones with the color balancing because it washes out the gold.
When worse comes to worse, I paste a photo in Word and adjust the contrast and brightness with the picture toolbar. Then, I copy and paste into Paint and save as a “.jpg”. It’s a last resort I don’t do often.
Hope this helps for all you jewelry-type photo takers. If anyone needs any additional help, contact me and I’ll try to help.
One thing I have noticed here with photos is the lack of using the editor in Bonanzle to adjust the cropping. Seeing only a partial photo is annoying. My suggestion to all those who have photos that are only partially there because the photo is too big, go in to the editor and adjust the cropping.
I noticed I do when I took another photo tonight. I use it when I take photos of enameled pieces or items in plastic sheets or glossy finishes.
If you have a problem with glare or shiny spots…
~ Try to take the photo at an angle. ~
When the flash hits a glossy or enameled finish head-on, it usually creates a shiny spot or “white spot”. I’m sure all those selling sports cards in the plastic protective sheets know what I am talking about. You may have to take the photo several times to make sure you get a “good” shot.
A tip I learned a long while back with any photography… ALWAYS TAKE MORE THAN ONE PHOTO!
I ALWAYS take more than one shot just in case. I hate to have to go back and set everything up again.
Several shots will help if…
1. one is blurry
2. one cuts off something you didn’t realize while taking the photo, one glares
3. one’s too dark
4. one’s too bright
Take your shots…
1. with the flash
2. without the flash
3. from several angles
4. with different backdrops – change colors to enhance colors without washing them out (here’s a tip I learned… just because a white porcelain item is trimmed in gold does not mean it will photograph well on a gold backdrop. I found the gold backdrop is rather distracting and washes out the trim)
It may seem time consuming to take so many photos, but you will be much happier with your photos in the end.
From so many photos, you will learn…
1. how your camera works with the lighting
2. how specific items photograph
3. what angle works best
4. how to make adjustments for certain colors
5. how certain metals photograph
If photographing jewelry-type items, keep this in mind…
once you find a spot – lighting, backdrops, etc. – that works well and produces great photos for your items, ALWAYS start off photographing in that spot. But, don’t limit yourself. There will always be that one piece that doesn’t work and you have to find out the best way to photograph it.
If I think of anything else that may help the jewelry-type photographers, I’ll let y’all know!
Have fun with your photos & God bless!
Sacred Heart Blessings Handmade Catholic Rosaries & Chaplets
Sacred Heart Rosaries
St Francis Paws4Critters Rosaries
~ Hand-crafted by Robyn, Hand-guided by God ~
My Online Shop: http://www.sacredheartblessings.com
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Photography of your item is key to a sale. When browsing through booths on Bonanzle, I have noticed washout caused by flash and brownish photos due to too much red. I have been taking photos since I was a child and have been told I have a “good eye”. However, learning how to use a digital camera and getting the right shot for internet selling takes time and practice.
You should set up an area in your home specific for photographing your merchandise. Through trial and error I have found that a white poster board works very well. I can set up three items at a time, take one photo, and then cut & paste to save time.
If the item is light colored I use a dark colored background so it shows up better. Also, I have noticed that some people stage items around the item they are selling, this can actually be distracting or misleading. A nice clean photo that is crisp makes an item sell faster.
If you go to my booth, you can see I still have a problem with reflection. When I took a photo of my silverplate items, I wore a pink top. Wrong thing to do as it reflected into my photo. Good example of what not to do.
Also, you have to learn how your flash works. Many times I actually turn off the flash to prevent the washout.
Regarding the redish or yellowish tint to your photo is caused by too much color in the room reflecting back into the photo. That is why I suggest using the white poster board. However, you can use your digital camera editing program to adjust the contrast, brightness, and color to remove the unwanted tints.
A photo that is out of focus has to be retaken. Adjust the distance from the item you are photographing. My worse photos are of jewelry because I have not mastered the distance I should be at yet. Sometimes taking a group shot from a distant and then cropping the photo actually works better for me.
Just remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” and enjoy selling on Bonanzle.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
1) Treat your shop as a business.
If you treat your shop as a hobby, you will get a hobby's worth of results. Be dedicated to creating new products, filling out your shop, taking excellent pictures, knowing how to work with the Etsy system, and promoting in as many ways as your are able. Search the internet for business topics, read the forums, learn as much as you can. It is not as simple as creating something and listing it.
2) Know your target market.
Knowing your target market and providing a product that they WANT is the foundation for a successful shop. You can make beautiful things, but let's face it, if you targeting the wrong people, or if your beautiful things do not fulfill a need or want in your market you are not going to sell anything.
Ask yourself a few questions and gear your descriptions, or even your products to speak to your market. BEING a member of your target market helps tremendously with putting yourself in their mindset.
-Why would my market be interested in my products?
-What aspects of my product would be the biggest selling point?
-Where does my target market hang out on the internet? (What is the best place to join in the community and quietly promote)
3) Search your key search on Etsy every day (or multiple times a day).
A large percentage of people are going to find you simply by searching on Etsy. It is important that you show up in this search, that you show up early, and that you show up often.
-Think of all the possible search words that you think of someone might type in to find your item and tag your items accordingly.
-Create new items or renew items frequently so that you remain present in the searches. The more times you show up, the more chances you have of someone falling in love with your products. If you drop down too far, it is time to renew, or list a new item.
-Get to know your competition through this search. Analyze their style, how prolific they are, how frequently they list, their success, etc. Use this information to make your shop stand out next to them.
4) Make the most of your tags.
Use ALL of them. Tag colors, your shop name, key selling points (free shipping, eco friendly, etc.), important materials (sterling silver, cashmere, etc.) and descriptive words (soft, shiny, classy, funky, retro, etc), common misspellings, and alternate phrasing.
-Look at your competition's listings for ideas on other tags that you could be using.
Your buyers find you through these tags, as do treasury makers. Treasuries help bring more exposure to you, thus increasing your views, and hopefully sales.
5) Visually stand out from the crowd.
Make your items stand out from your competition. This is about branding. You want your buyers to see your items in the search and know that it is yours.
-Have a unique style that shows up in your photographs. This may be the style of your products themselves, or simply the way you photograph them.
6) Continually improve your photography.
Your photographs will make or break you. Your customers can't hold your items, so the photographs need to be clear, informative, and visually stunning all at once.
-Read tutorials online, and in the forums to improve your shots.
-Use natural light, or a light box.
-Tweek your shots in photo editing software to make them the best they can be.
-Take LOTS of pictures of each item at many different angles. Choose only the best 5 to keep.
-Search around Etsy for another seller who's product photographs you admire. Emulate their style and adapt it to fit your items and your shop. DO NOT copy their style exactly. You want to stand out. Use their style as inspiration on how to pose items, or how something looks best.
-Use all 5 picture slots that Etsy gives you.
-Select 1 shot that is artsy, alluring, and visually stunning that will draw your customers in. Make them want to click on it to get a better look and to see more of that stunning piece. Make this your first shot.
-Give at least 1 shot of the full item. You may loose a sale if your customer has to piece together all your shots to figure out what the whole thing looks like.
-Show important details such as the clasp, patterning, etc.
-Have a shot showing your item in scale. It is difficult to tell in a picture how big, or small an item is. Dimensions in your description are important, but it is difficult to visualize dimensions. Show a necklace or purse on a model, your stuffed toy in a person's hand, or your artwork on the wall next to a piece of furniture.
7) List more
You can't sell it if it isn't in your shop.
-Creating and listing more means more choice for your customers.
-More listings spaced out have your shop show up more frequently in the searches, bringing more people to your shop.
-More variety means more choice for your customers. The more items you have, the more likely someone is to fall in love with a piece and take it home.
-Shops that are filled out have a more professional appearance, like you are running a business rather than a hobby.
As you list more, use your shop sections, so that your buyers can easily find everything in your shop.
8) Diversify your product line
Variety is the spice of life. Additional product lines allow you to list in multiple categories, which allows you to draw people to your shop from multiple searches. If your products are complimentary, it encourages people to find something in your shop they didn't realize they wanted when they typed in the original search. Consistently look at your products and ask yourself:
-Is there a complementary line of products I can also sell?
-Can I make this product in more sizes or colors or patterns?
-Can I offer more products in different price ranges?
9) Make a high quality product
If your customers are delighted with your products they will come back for more and refer more people to your shop. This is free advertising, and the more people they send your way, the fewer you have to find yourself.
-Pay attention to details
-Use materials you are proud of
10) Provide excellent customer service
Each customer that you take care of well and comes back, is one customer you don't have to find.
-Treat your customers as you would like to be treated.
-Check your email and convos at least once a day, if not more often
-Be professional, polite, and kind.
-Maintain communication. If something is taking a while, keep them updated. Let your customers know when their items have been shipped.
I hope that this helps you all in your shops and here's to each of you reaching 500 sales :D
Monday, June 8, 2009
Packing and shipping your items might seem like a meagre task, but what you are doing is sending the buyer a piece of your personality. You can't be there in person, so you have to send a good representation of yourself. A good packaging job can mean the difference between repeat sales and one time buyers, and it is up to you to give them a little bit of magic with every parcel you send. Just think of it this way - it's like Christmas or a Birthday for the buyer, so WOW them! Make it personal, make it beautiful, but most of all - make it memorable!
These ten thorough tips will get you started on packaging your beautiful products in a way that will make an everlasting good impression on your buyers. To make it easier, I will also include examples from my own experiences. So here we go!
♥1. Packaging should reflect you! ♥ Come up with a style of packaging that matches the items you sell. If you send your items in cute yellow polka dot gift wrap, and your shop doesn't even have an ounce of cuteness, you are going to look like you are either having an identity crisis or that you really just don't know how to coordinate.
My shop is basically white with many additions of lime green, purple, and black. I generally ship my items in lovely white boxes tied with green polka dot ribbon and purple tissue paper - it matches the colours of my shop!
♥ 2. Don't be a grub! ♥ We all try to cut corners to save a buck when we can, but if the box that you are planning to ship in has been mashed up and torn - don't use it! Rips, tears, and other damage will always been seen as carelessness. The best rule to follow is to use new packaging products. If you decide to reuse old packaging supplies, just make sure that they are in excellent condition. Wrapping things in newspaper, Christmas wrapping paper (if it isn't Christmas), old Chatelaine magazines from 1976, or worn & old bubble envelopes are an absolute no-no and will put off your customer in an instant.
If you make your own boxes or bags, do a good job - don't just throw them together. Remember - presentation is of the essence!
♥ 3. Serve and Protect! ♥ It is a real downer when you open a package only to find that it's been damaged or broken. Do all you can to make sure that your items are safe and cozy, because postal workers tend to play football with your parcels, sometimes. Things like tissue paper, cotton, shredded paper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic balloons, and bubble envelopes are a good way to protect your items from damage as well as the elements.
♥ 4. Keep it clean! ♥ Nothing is more disturbing than finding pieces of pet hair, human hair, and fuzzies in a brand new parcel. It's un-hygienic for sure, but it is also a turn-off. Always keep the area where you package things free from dust, hair, and smoke. Do not eat or drink around your shipping area, as cookie crumbs and soda stains are no fun either. One of my biggest pet peeves is receiving an item that wreaks of cigarette smoke. If you smoke, don't smoke around your items - or better yet, smoke outside.
If you pride yourself in being green, recycling is definately a regular part of life for you. Recycling boxes and packaging supplies is not necessarily a bad thing unless it is in bad condition - so think before you use it!
♥ 5. Keep shipping realistic! ♥ If you charge too much for shipping, you might not even got as far as a sale, at all! All you have to do is visit your local post offices' website or pay them a visit and ask them a few questions. An example of a no-no would be the actions of the majority of eBay sellers: Many eBay sellers give you a great deal on the product, but shipping is through the roof to compensate for a low selling price.
Only charge what is realistic for shipping. Invest in a moderately priced digital scale and measuring tape, and get your shipping fees down to an art before you start selling. Any costs such as boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and other packaging prices should be incorporated into the items selling price - not the shipping price.
On the other of the spectrum, do not under price your shipping. By doing this, you are reaching into your own pocket each and every time you sell an item and are undercutting any profit that you make from the item. If you plan on selling as a business, you need to think business. If your shipping prices are on the high side but are realistic, all you have to do is explain why, and most of the time people will understand. If your product is good, the shipping price is always worth it in the end.
♥ 6. Include a business card! ♥ Business cards can be made for rather inexpensively. I personally use Vista Print, and their cards (in Canada, atleast) start at $17.99 for 250 cards. Stick the business card on your package; or better yet, stick a few in with the package. If you include more than one card, chances are that the buyer will pass them on to somebody else who may be interested in your products.
♥ 7. Offer coupons and freebies! ♥ How many of us flock to free sample stands in the grocery store? If it's free - we love it! Try adding a little something with each package that you send out - such as magnets, stickers, and buttons with your business name on it. It's such an inexpensive way to say thank-you, and most people will be very happy about it. A great way to coax buyers to come back is to include coupons with their purchases. Things like "10% off your next purchase" or "Free shipping on orders more than $20.00", are great promotions to offer. Just make sure to set an expiry date!
Things not to include are freebies that could result in a mess upon opening. For example, chocolate is a cute gesture but what if the person lives in a warmer climate? You don't want chocolate goo all over the product, do you? The same goes for extremely strong smelling perfumes, soaps, and candles - they can permeate the entire box!
♥ 8. Personalize your packaging supplies! ♥ A plain old box is all well and good, especially if it looks great the way it is, but try adding your own flare to it by stamping your name and website onto the box or adding a sticker with your store logo. Not only does it look professional, but the buyer will be reminded of you everytime they see it!
Don't just think inside the box - think outside! On the outside of the parcel, that is. Add your logo name and website on the outside of the envelope where all the shipping information is. Do you know how many people handle your items before it gets to it's final destination? Many! If your name or logo looks interesting, somebody who handles the parcel might write it down for their own references.
♥ 9. Write a little thank-you note! ♥ Buyers just gush over the fact that their product has been made just for them. It really is a luxury that you cannot find with mass produced items. Your products come from real people with a heart - not a robot. So show it! Write a quick thank-you on a cute stick-it note and make the customer feel special! Because they are!
♥ 10. Follow Up! ♥ Just because the item has been shipped does not mean that the transaction is over and done with. Send them a quick message or e-mail asking if they have received the item and check to see that they are happy with it. If you're on Etsy, leave positive feedback and ask the buyer to do the same for you. Happy buyers are repeat buyers!
I wanted to share that with all of you! I regularily share tips for this sort of thing in my blog, so check it out if you are interested :)
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The two sites are:
Here's how to use them to find your audience:
It sounds obvious, but the people you want to connect with on Twitter are those who are likely to buy the sort of thing you're selling, right?
So you need to figure out what these people are likely to talk about (that relate to what you're selling) and then search/set up alerts for those keywords.
This sounds simplistic, but the trick is to really narrow it down and get the most likely prospects.
Here's my example:
I sell art featuring 'quirky, flirty big-eyed girls'. Here are some of the keywords I considered and reasons why I used/rejected them.
♥ ART: (rejected) this is far too broad - people who like Picasso or abstract art aren't likely to like my work.
♥ LOWBROW ART: (unsure) this is far more specific but is still a bit too broad - I'll probably use it when I have more time to search!
♥ FAFI: (accepted) she's a famous artist that my work is sometimes compared to - people who like her art are likely to like mine so this is a perfect keyword to look for.
♥ BLYTHE: (accepted) my work looks a bit like a Blythe doll, so people who love Blythe may be interested in the kind of art I do.
Etc, etc, etc.
The hard bit is really thinking about the right keywords to search for.
If you're an artist, a great way to find the right people is to think of a famous artist (anyone who's likely to be talked about) who does similar work to you.
I'm not sure how it would work in other categories, but I'd love it if you'd share your keyword tips here.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Now, to the heart of this post! I see so many people posting about being discouraged, low views, lack of sales, etc. I'd like to step in and say to stop feeling so down! Step back for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let me tell you a little story about me and my photography.
I've always loved taking photographs, I NEVER thought I'd ever make any money from it. It was my passion, my ultimate favorite hobby. I dreamed of being some National Geographic type photographer, but since I am self taught, never imagined anyone other than family would ever hang one of my photos on a wall, much less give me money for them.
A few years ago, I just couldn't help myself-I just had to upgrade my point and shoot to a DSLR. We didn't have a lot of cash, so I made a scary promise to my husband. We buy the camera and I'll find a way to sell enough photographs to pay it back (it was bought on a 6 months no interest credit card). Now I had six months to figure out not only how to use the camera, but also to get good enough photos to sell-and how to sell them!
I remembered a website I saw that sold prints and calendars and stuff-a club we belonged to used them to make t-shirts. I went there, created an account, and uploaded some photos. I knew NOTHING about how to do it. It took me days to get them sized right. I found the forums there, and in those forums were a lot of great folks that helped me learn a lot about not only how to use that website, but to run my business. It took a while, but I made a few sales. I learned more, upgraded things and finally, I paid back the camera. And then I kept making sales! I actually was earning money on my photographs!! People were paying money for my art, and it was hanging on their walls!
Think it was some little, cozy place like Etsy? Think you have a lot of competiton here? It's much, much bigger. It doesn't matter where it is, but for instance, a search on that site for "sunset photograph" brings nearly 2,000 results.
What I am telling you is that if I can do this, you can too. Find your niche. Find what makes you different than the others in it. Play it up to your customers. Get your OWN site. Promote it. Market it. Learn what SEO is. Learn about running your business. Absorb knowledge shared freely like a sponge. Even if you don't agree with someone, read their opinion, there might be a little something you can take from it. Don't get stuck in a rut and stay there. Learn from each mistake. The single most important thing I learned from my past few years is this-it's your business, not "abc company's". Own it. Don't let anyone tell you you can't, and don't believe that you can't. Believe in yourself, your craft and your business. YOU CAN DO THIS.
Now go create! Go work on tags and descriptions and things Google likes! OWN YOUR BUSINESS!!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
But knowing how to keep them away also tells us something about how to attract them - just do the opposite!
So here's what I've done over the past month or so to slow my shop down (NB. I'm not totally insane - I've just been extremely busy preparing for gallery exhibitions and couldn't deal with a rush in my Etsy store at the same time):
1. I stopped posting in the forums.
2. I stopped relisting my items.
3. I stopped mentioned and linking to my Etsy store in my blog posts.
It's incredible what a braking effect these three things made. I still had the odd sale, but nothing like my usual business.
Now I need to gear up again - so (you guessed it) I'm posting, I'm relisting and I'm blogging about my Etsy store.
I'll let you know how it goes.