Friday, July 30, 2010

Facebook Fan Page

I finally decided to take the plunge and create a Facebook fan page for this blog.  I spent a lot of time tonight increasing my connections with other bloggers and blog communities.  It has me wondering if I will be able to keep up with it all, but I am enjoying the adventure.  Reading all these other blogs has been fun.  The biggest danger right now is wanting to try all the new craft ideas I'm finding!  I hope you'll join me on my fan page and help direct me on what to offer on this blog.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Searching Treasuries

Etsy has now made it possible to search treasuries.  This is something I wished for when I first started on Etsy and couldn't figure out why they didn't already do it.   The main way to find out if someone included one of your items in a treasury was to use an outside site like Craftopolis that use Google Analytics information to show what treasuries you may be included in.  It worked decently enough, but depended on somebody clicking on your item in that treasury at least once in order for it to show up.  Newbies on Etsy don't know that right away and don't automatically click on each item in their treasury when they create it.  Searching the Treasury now works like the other searches.  You can search for a term like beaded or cowboy, but I believe this part depends on what tags the treasuries' curators included.  The best part is that you can search for your shop.  If you just enter the name of your shop in the search box while in the Treasury, you will get all of your treasuries you have created plus any that have items from your shop.  Putting curator: yourshopname in the search box will give you all the treasuries you have created.  Putting shop: yourshopname in the search box will show you just the treasuries which include an item from your shop.  Of course you will want to replace yourshopname with the name of your Etsy shop.  I found my items in two other treasuries this way.  Since my items hadn't been clicked on in those treasuries, they didn't show up on Craftopolis.

If you like to support the Treasury concept, you will want to know the term "C&C" or "C/C."  People often promote the treasuries they have made by putting links in forum posts or sharing them with their Etsy team.  Others will help out by visiting the treasury and C&C or click and comment.  Etsy has some magical formula for determining the "hotness" level of each treasury, with the hottest ones at the top.  The number of clicks on items and comments left in the treasury are assumed to be part of the hotness formula, so clicking and commenting helps boost the popularity of the treasury.  The hotter it is, the closer it is to the top of the front page, making it more likely to be seen by others.  There is a time factor involved as well, so hotness fades over time.  Why do people care about these treasuries?  Well, they are a lot of fun to put together.  I made a super challenging one once with items that had arrows and I lined them all up to lead you around the page.  It was super cool, but very difficult to manage once some of the items sold.  The other reason is that Etsy chooses treasuries to be featured on the front page (FP).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Experimenting With Beads

I decided to play around with some tatting designs and try to add beads.  They were large turquoise beads, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to add them in between motifs.  So wrong....

I tatted a different version of this necklace with mostly white tatted flowers and one black tatted flower.  I wasn't crazy about how it turned out and decided it might look better with fewer motifs and with the beads in between.  The black Senso crochet thread I used made it even more difficult since it was quite thick.  It also had glittery plastic strands running through the thread, adding to the complications.  The beads between the flower motifs were threaded onto picots.  After the first one, I learned to make the picots longer so it wouldn't be quite so difficult to join the motifs.
When the flowers were done, I played around with different things to hang from the middle of the necklace.  Many, many mistakes were made on this part of the project.  I would forget to put the beads on the thread before starting, or let the beads slide down to the ball of thread, making them unavailable for use.  Then there were the rings I linked through the wrong motif or the wrong part of the right motif.  I'm surprised I didn't run out of thread before finally getting it right.
Once the necklace was complete, I decided that I should make some matching earrings.  I'm not exactly thrilled with where the beads ended up...  Maybe I'll make another pair tomorrow with the last of my thread.  I do like the soft feel and the chunky look that the Senso thread gave, but the many strands twisted together were very difficult to manage and sewing the ends back in took a lot of effort.  My next plan is to figure out how to display it for photos and get it listed on Etsy.  I wouldn't mind keeping this one if it doesn't sell, though.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Of A Kind

You won't browse Etsy for long before running into the abbreviation "OOAK."  I usually pride myself on being able to figure out abbreviations and acronyms, but I ended up Googling this one.  OOAK = One of a kind.  I have a couple of items in my shop that are OOAK.  The newest is pictured here.  I didn't list it that way, but I don't think I'll be making more.  For me, a one of a kind item is usually an accident or experiment.  I start playing around with something and end up not writing down the pattern.  This brooch started when I was showing a friend how tatting looks.  I kept making ring after ring, ending up with a layered looking flower, and then secured it to a pin back and added a turquoise bead.  Kind of weird and messy, but I love those colors together.  I actually prefer thinking of it as a one of a kind rather than an experiment or accident anyway.

More BNR

Even though I'm not a BNR fan because of some bad experiences, my shop has been included in a couple of BNR treasuries today.  I don't mind since I didn't have to buy my way in to start and I hope that someone will actually buy my spot in either or both of the treasuries.  If you already wanted to purchase from our shop, you can get a boost for your own shop on Etsy by purchasing through the BNRs and taking our place.  Here are the links:
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c46f923afa68eef19aa9731/shoppers-paradise-bnr-round-54-6-sales?page=2#comments
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c4710015aaf6d9122d52677/fred-spot-elies-fun-and-frinds-bnr-round?index=0
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c46f55b5aaf6d911e3d2277/let-the-party-begin-bnr-round-28-sales?index=1

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Book

I just got a new book of tatting patterns to try.  It's "Tatting Patterns" by Lyn Morton.  Part of what attracted me to this book was that the patterns looked like ones I could handle without getting too frustrated.  Quite a few of the patterns incorporate beads and I've been wanting to learn to work with beads in my tatting.  There are some cute jewelry pieces I want to try and tatted corsages that I definitely want to make.  She includes a pansy edging and I LOVE pansies!  What makes them look great in the book is they are done in a purple variegated thread.  I will be adding that to my shopping list!  I replaced my Aero shuttle last week.  I have all my bobbins, but couldn't find the shuttle anywhere (dang kids!).  I found a great Etsy shop called Creative Stitches that had the shuttle I needed.  She shipped it faster than anything I've received through Etsy yet!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I've Learned

I've been reflecting this weekend on what I've learned about selling on Etsy.  In the hopes that what I've learned might help others, I'm going to tell you about it.  Even if nobody else is reading this, it's probably good to have it in writing in case I forget :-)

    My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for HireEtsy Exposed: 50 Ways to Start Making More Etsy Sales Than You Can Handle: Tips and Tricks for Selling on Etsy.comEtsy Psychology 101 - A Crash Course in ShoppingCraft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business101 Ways to Market Your Online Jewelry Shop: Free and Cheap Ways to Market, Promote, Advertise, and Increase Traffic to Your Online or Etsy Jewelry Shop and Sell Your Jewelry NowSell Your Jewelry: How to Start a Jewelry Business and Make Money Selling Jewelry at Boutiques, Fairs, Trunk Shows, and Etsy.The Savvy Crafters Guide To Success: Turn Your Crafts Into A Career
  1. Decide whether you want to handle your Etsy shop as a hobby or as a business.  The approach you use is very different for each.  If you're doing this as a hobby, remember to have fun.  If you're running this as a business, remember to always treat it as a business.  Manage your expenses, charge enough to make a profit, and treat you customers in a professional way.
  2. Make connections.  Spending time getting to know other Etsy sellers in the chat rooms and forums is not a waste of time.  You can learn from the experiences of others and get great tips for success.  The more people see you online, the more they will visit your shop out of curiosity.  Another way to make connections is by joining an Etsy Team.  Teams help promote the entire group and you get the same benefits of learning from other sellers.
  3. Views and hearts aren't sales.  There are some websites that allow you to see how many people visited your shop, viewed your items, and "heart" your shop or individual items.  This is pretty exciting for a new seller.  Unfortunately, people looking at and liking your stuff isn't the same thing as them purchasing from you.  Sometimes people check out your shop and decide it's not what they were looking for.  Lots of people "heart" your items but may not be able to afford them.  There are even those who "heart" your stuff because they intend to copy it.  Getting a lot of traffic to your shop is great, but purchases are better.
  4. Play by the rules.  Etsy, like any other site, has rules for what items can be listed, how they should be listed, etc.  They are also quite diligent about eliminating "calling out" comments and posts.  They're not always good about responding quickly to reports of items that break the rules, but you don't want yours to be the one they get to quickly.  There's probably no better way to get more experienced sellers mad at you than to break the rules.
  5. BNR's are a scam.  BNR = Buy and Replace. A Curator will set up a Treasury and tell you that if they buy an item from a shop featured in the treasury, your shop will replace that shop in the treasury.  Different people use different rules.  Some set a minimum purchase amount and some have provisions for securing yourself in the starting 16 of the next BNR.  The most successful BNRs are run by groups of people who take turns managing things.  They also garner a lot of publicity in forum posts, Facebook posts, Twitters, emails, and more.  It all seems like a great idea and it does bring more people into the shops featured in the BNR.  Unfortunately, many are looking to buy the cheapest thing they can in order to take your spot in the treasury.  The other thing I noticed was that the vast majority of sales I was seeing in the BNR were the same group of people buying from each other.  It made me wonder if they had some sort of deal worked out behind the scenes.  The number of sales can look so impressive, but it's the same shops popping in and out while the other shops can be there for days without a sale.  I made the mistake of getting involved in a BNR that was set up to be more beneficial for the Curator.  She set a $2 minimum purchase, but allowed people to get her spot by purchase a $1.50 from her shop.  To make things worse, about 6-8 hours later she started another BNR, and then even another one 8 hours later.  It was all about her sales and didn't benefit anyone else.  If you had planned on purchasing an item from one of the shops anyway, then go ahead.  It can't hurt to have more people looking at your shop.  Just don't get suckered in and buy things you don't need or want just to get your shop in.  Chances are that you won't sell anything or that you'll be tempted to offer discounts that will eliminate any possible profit you might have made.
  6. Determine a schedule or plan for your activity.  The most successful shops on Etsy have a schedule they follow.  They check, package and ship orders at certain times.  They devote a certain amount of time to research and promotion.  They also have set times for producing the items for their shops.  They don't spend all day hooked to the computer to see if one more person looked at their shop.
  7. Feedback is important.  Especially when you are a new seller, feedback is important to show people they can trust you.  The larger sellers don't spend much time with feedback and only give it when requested.  Don't be afraid to remind buyers to leave feedback.  This is your reputation, so make sure you manage any problems that arise.  
  8. Treat your item listings like a catalog page.   When describing your items, give the buyer plenty of information so they can make an informed decision.  If they buy your jewelry item and it's much bigger or much smaller than they expected, they will be disappointed.  If you are selling items that are versatile, let the buyer know about the many ways it can be used.  Use interesting pictures.  I started with boring pictures that weren't at all exciting.  Look at other Etsy shops and you'll see the difference between great pictures and blah ones.  Use photos that are clear so your product may be seen, and shoot them with enough lighting.  Bad pictures will tell the buyer that you're not that serious about selling.
  9. Package professionally.   Etsy is not the same as Ebay.  Buyers want to feel like they are purchasing from a boutique type store, not a yard sale.  Some sellers have custom packaging made for their items.  You can do things as simple as putting things in gift boxes, gift bags, wrapped in tissue paper, etc.  Purchase blank labels from an office supply store and put your logo or a product picture plus the address of your shop.  Some sellers include samples of other items from their shops or other small gifts as a "thank you."  I started including small thank you cards with a tatted flower attached and a sticker with our shop info. The flower doesn't take long to create, but it adds a more personal handmade touch.  I've heard other sellers mention that they purchase packaging at local dollar stores until they start having enough sales to buy in bulk elsewhere.  Basically, you want your customer to be excited when they receive their purchase and feel like they got their money's worth.
  10. Treat your customers well.  This one is found in every possible guide on how to succeed on Etsy.  It's not just one customer that could be unhappy.  They'll tell their friends, post it online, leave neutral or negative feedback, etc. Customers like to know that you received their order and when it will be shipped.  You'll really impress them if you contact them after they receive their order and ask them if they like it.  If the buyer has a shop of their own, look at the shop and tell them what you like about it.  Developing a relationship with your customer leads to repeat purchases and having them recommend you to their friends.
  11. Promote your shop everywhere.   Etsy is huge and has thousands of sellers.  The internet as a whole is immensely large.  You need to increase your chances of being discovered.  Some of the most common promotion methods are Twitter, Facebook posts, Facebook Fan pages, and blogs.  If you set up at local craft fairs, make sure you have cards or flyers with your Etsy shop listed as well.  There is a whole section in the Etsy forums on promotion and you can get some advice there as well.
Maybe all of us have to learn the hard way.  I hope not!  My eagerness to get started led me to learn some tough lessons.  I don't feel bad about it. I've made some new friends and discovered a whole new world out there.  I just hope that I can help some others out there.  Click here to see what another Etsian had to say about success.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favorite Items

You will notice that there is a box on this blog that shows some of my favorites that I have discovered on Etsy.  It's always changing because I never stop liking some of the new things I find.  Many of the items are things I would love to buy if I had unlimited funds, so it's really more of a wish list.  I also have shops/sellers that are favorites because I can't just pick one or two things I like.  Some of the other artisans are so amazing!  One of them impressed me so much that I just have to share.  The Midnight Orange has clay sculptures that represent so many emotions.  Those who know me personally can tell you that I'm an emotionally gifted person (=moody).  Having experienced a lot of things in my life that propelled my emotional roller coaster, I love what artisan D. Antonia Truesdale has done with her shop.  The emotions of life, death, birth, abuse, love, family, and more can be found in these simple, yet inspirational sculptures.
One of them reminds me of how much I loved how my husband treated me when I was pregnant.

Others show the agony and pain of abuse.  Purchasing of some of these sculptures sends a donation to fighting sexual abuse.  There is one set of three figures called "Some days are harder than others" that could represent everything from a tough day to abuse.  I think I've had many days represented by these figures.

My joy at becoming a mom is representing in so many of the sculptures.  I've included pictures of just a couple of them.  My "babies" are all grown up now, but my best memories are of those times when they were tiny and needed me so much.  Those cute little hugs and kids and their adoration of their mommy....


The last one I'm including is called "Please Grow."  I actually didn't notice it until today when I started writing this.  My face lit up with a big smile because that is how I am with plants.  I want so much for them to grow and have been know to overwater them on accident.  I even talk to each little plant in my garden to encourage them to grow.

I'm sure all of us put a lot of of ourselves into the items we make.  Tatting brings me a lot of peace and joy and I love being able to share it with others.  The Midnight Orange has taken that to a whole new level and I have seen her design custom items for those who are grieving as well as those excited about a new arrival.  Please visit her shop - I know you'll love her creations, too.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Buy and Replace

That almost sounds like everyday life....
Actually, I'm back in two different BNR (buy & replace) treasuries right now.  If you want to see how crazy they can get, check them out.  One of them is done by a group of people who take turns curating or managing the treasury.  This is no easy task since there were about 70+ sales in the first 12 hours.  They have to confirm the transaction and replace the seller's item with an item from the buyer's shop.  The other treasury is moving a little slower, but it's still moving.  One of the things I see happening to people is they buy an item to get into the treasury and then every time someone "buys them out" they look for another item to buy in order to get back in.  That means the same group of people just keep buying stuff from each other, round and round.  When the system works well, other interested people wander past the treasury and get into the mix.  No matter what, you do get more people checking out your shop.
Enyaeire's 36 Hour BNR
Shopper's Paradise BNR Treasury

Monday, July 12, 2010

Product Names You Never Forget

Someone put a request on Alchemy the other day for Pee Pee TeePees.  Curiosity got the better of me and I just had to find out what those were.  A quick search brought me to this site, where the Pee-pee Teepee has been trademarked.  Turns out that it's a fabric cone to prevent getting a "fountain show" while changing baby boys.  Where was this when my boys were in diapers?  I remember the night I cried myself to sleep after changing the baby after he messed his diaper and it overflowed everywhere, then he peed on me while I was changing him, and then he spit up all over himself and me once I got him changed again and fed.  It was new mommy overload!  Others offer a similar product, but with less spectacular names - caution caps, pee-pee cones, tinkle tents, and pee-pee tents. There are even tutorials for making them yourself.  The pee-pee teepee will forever live on in my mind and make me giggle a little.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Doggy Distraction

2.75" American Kennel Club Beagles in a Basket Dog Christmas FigureI had to take a bit of a detour over the last few days.  My precious beagle puppy cut his leg open and had to get stitched back up.  Now this active little puppy is going stir crazy since we can't let him do much or he'll undo the stitches.  I can't even begin to tell you how hard it is to try to hold my puppy and work on design projects...
In case you share my passion for beagles, check out the treasury I made:  http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c060039c3196d918cf40521/bonkers-for-beagles?index=2

To add to the frustration, I took on a project for someone who doesn't seem to know exactly what they want.  When I submitted a design, she said "I don't like the colors. I don't like the person."  It took everything I had to not explode on her.  The problem is not that she didn't like it.  The problem is that she didn't help me at all in understanding what she wanted me to change.  I replied with a lot of specific questions and pointed out that I didn't want to copy exactly the stock images she had sent because that would be wrong.  Her response was that stock images are used by lots of people.  True....but they are supposed to be used by people who pay to use them.  The reason they put a big old copyright mark in the middle of the image is because they don't want you to use it for free.  No matter how much she might like the image, I don't think she'll be too happy when someone sues her for using it in her logo without permission.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chatting It Up

135 Tips on Email and Instant Messages: Plus Blogs, Chatrooms, and TextingI haven't been in an online chat room since we were on AOL years and years ago, but the holiday weekend left things pretty slow on Etsy, so I decided to check out their Chat Rooms in the Community section.  One of the interesting things about their chat room is that you can look at the shops of the other people in the chat room and post pictures of items you like in their shops.  The picture appears to the right of the chat window and it's a great way to promote items.  At first, I thought it was just automatically posting any item that someone in the chat room was looking at, but I eventually figured it out. I had forgotten how difficult it can be to keep up with conversations among so many people at once. The best part about my experience hanging out in the chat room was helping some people with their Etsy experiences.  It was surprising to see how much I had learned already.  One seller was trying to put together treasuries and I was able to tell her to only include one item from any one shop and advised her on changing the order of the pictures so the best ones were in the first three spots.  After checking out some of the shops, I let one of the sellers know which picture would be best for showcasing their bracelet.  We had some good conversations about international shipping - something I have big problems with.  I'm definitely going to check out the chat rooms again in the future.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Talented Husband

Indian Bead-Weaving Patterns: Chain-Weaving Designs and Bead Loom Weaving-An Illustrated "How-To" GuideIt's not that I'm surprised that my husband is talented - I always knew.....it's just that he continues to find ways to amaze me.  He's been working on different beading projects to sell in our Etsy shop and has been trying some new things.  First, he was frustrated that his favorite beading book was missing.  So many of the patterns and techniques he wanted to use were in the book and we couldn't find it anywhere.  Fortunately, you can find just about any book online and I tracked down a copy of it on Amazon (pictured).  As usual, I can't seem to just order the one book we were looking for.  I found so many books I liked, but I only ordered one (in addition to the one I was supposed to get).  When the package arrived, my husband was surprised to see the extra book, but he soon started using it to learn new techniques and made two absolutely beautiful necklaces that are now listed in our shop.
Now that his creative juices are flowing, there will be no stopping him...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Burned Again! Why don't I learn?

I've been bidding on more Alchemy jobs (yes, I'm crazy).  The upside to Alchemy is more instant jobs and when you finish an Alchemy job, an image of your project is displayed for awhile and lots of people end up looking at your shop.  The down side is all the time spent checking on jobs and buyers leading you on.  I don't mind sharing ideas back and forth with someone, but when they keep it going and give you the impression that you're working on the design, it's not cool when they decide to formally reject your offer while you're working on the design.  That's what happened to me tonight.  It sounded like we were on the right track and I was pretty excited about working on the design.  When I got back with an early draft based on the buyer's instructions, I found an email saying my offer had been declined. REALLY?!?!  That's fine.  I'll keep the image and find a way to use it in another way.  I was working with another buyer the same way and just sent her a message letting her know that she will have to formally accept my bid before I can do any work on the project.  I'm guessing that I will get that rejection soon too.  I've had rejections where the buyer mentions that someone offered to do the work for free.  How do I compete with that?  It's against the rules on Etsy since it cuts out their percentage of the sale. Time to pull it back in and get back to my tatting.

I'm on a Team!

Sculpted Threads: Artful Brooches, Earrings and More (That Patchwork Place)Believe it or not, Etsy has teams.  The purpose of these teams varies - social chatting, sharing information, marketing and promotion...  There are regional teams and team which gather around themes.  I actually asked to join a different team earlier, but I was rejected.  Their purpose was marketing and promotion and they strive for diverse shop offerings from their members.  After a lot of searching, I found another team that interested me.  It's the Etsy Fiber Arts Street Team (EtsyFAST).  My tatting fits in with their group and I noticed some other tatters on the team.  I'm excited about getting to know some other Etsians and having some help in promoting my shop.  It's pretty tough out there and it's hard not to be invisible in that sea of crafters.
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