Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Month in Photographs - October

What a busy month!  I started my Sketchbook Project (4) and finally decided on a theme: my haiku!  These two pages have something to do about my lotto book, that sold at the Medicine Park Art Walk.  Here's another pic of  Medicine Park (3) along the dam's spillway.  Such a nice path to walk on.  MJ (1) is watching me work on the back porch (5) - guess I'm taking up all the room with my screens and tub of blended water and paper.  I did a lot of traveling up to Norman to see Mom this month (7), as I was getting my jewelry ready for the Firehouse Christmas Art Sale.  November 6th is the last day they will accept artwork.  So nice to be accepted, as an ar-TIST!  Planning on bringing my Kitty Treasure Necklace set (2) up tomorrow, if I feel ok!  And DH, MJ and I are starting to walk together (6).  I hear the weather is about to turn cold, but think we have a couple of months left. I tired out everybody, but we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Etsy Success Holiday Book Camp - Week #6

"No readers. No tweets.  No stumbles.  No comments."  You can see how Lou, the brown monster, feels about that!  If that's what's happening with your blog, Sonia, from the Copyblogger, says you have "Invisible Content Syndrome." Her post speaks to being a good friend and helping others.  I always look to my etsyblogger teammates when I need advice or some unique present.  And I read their blogs to get my laugh or smile for the day.

Same thing happened when I read WhitneySmith's post about customer service.  Fun and informative!  She got me thinking about what I say in my policies  (get to policies by clicking Your Etsy/Info & Appearance/Policies tab at the top.) I decided to look and see what SHE said on Etsy.  So that's my advice: take a look at your favorite sellers' policies, and see what they say.  What do you like about it?  Would you buy from them because of it?  Check out what I say, and tell me what you think.

I'm hoping to bring my friends a new flash, because I'm sure they'll like this:  Did you know there's something new going on in the Etsy treasuries?  Each Thursday, a new Treasury Challenge starts, based on an inspiration item.  Last week's Challenge winner was RogueButterfly and the inspiration for this week is her blue earrings (top, second from left.)  Rogue will judge this treasury, and next week's winner gets an item from their shop as the inspiration (if the winner is a buyer, they get to choose a piece from a favorite shop.)  Winning treasuries are posted on Tuesday.  Sounds fun, eh?  Here's my Treasury Challenge this week, called ---gypsy---

Look for more information about the Treasury Challenge here 

I went by to see my friend and boot camp buddy Peacox Creations, and she reminded me of Gift Certificates.  That was on my "To Do" list.  So, thanks to Patti and the ingenious invention of post-its, I'll (hopefully) get gift certificates in my shop this weekend. Patti uses $10, $25, and $50.  Do you use certificates?

I'll close with something Danielle wrote in the Storque about reevaluating your prices.  Her formula:

Cost Price (Labor + Materials Cost) x 2 = Your Wholesale Price
Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price
I've heard this before, and here it is again!.  I'm selling my handmade pieces for half price!  "50% off at the storybeader shop.  Get it, while the getting is good, before she comes to her senses!"  Danielle says, "Remember that handmade items have more value, and perhaps you should price for folks who have more disposable income than yourself."  It's very depressing, but maybe you should take a look at her article, HERE

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fence Post #62

I haven’t been walking in neighborhoods lately, but in the park and around the museum grounds.  We currently have a grant to fix up the depot and place exhibits inside.  Of course, we needed one of those construction fences, to protect our visitors from danger.


I cropped and fooled with the saturation.  Reminded me of a honeycomb, from a beehive.  That got me looking on Etsy for beehives and honey, and I found this fantastic art print.  

It’s a montage of over a thousand images of bees on flowers, by artbarkers.  You need to check out their shop for yourself!  A little off the path that I started on, but then, there was this fence...  {:-D

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Four Questions

Goodness Gracious! I've been tagged by Ani, from Coffee Pot People, with Four Questions.

1. What section at the bookstore sucks you in?

The magazines and journals. What a selection, if you hit a good bookstore! I love these quick, information little "books" that don't cost an arm and a leg. So many subjects to look at. My favorite to date? Art Journaling! But it comes out only twice a year...

2. Favorite holiday?
I'm not much of a holiday person, but if I had to pick one (hopefully my mother won't see this), it's Christmas. Maybe because my family never celebrated Christmas... I don't like all the hoopla and months of store decorations, but I love buying one special ornament, for our tree, that best expresses the year. I've written about my ornaments before... like my first one:

3. What era would you like to live in/visit?
Any earlier time would have been a hard life for a woman. And anything later is going to be so polluted... and cold, no doubt! So maybe just a visit... to England, in the 19th century.

4. Favorite literary genre?

Historical fiction 1st, then Biography. I'm reading Wolf Hall right now, a historical fiction about Henry VIII and England in the 1520s.

I'm going to tag four more etsybloggers that I hope won't get mad at me.
Ms Moo (Spotted Cow Soaps), Erika (Nico Designs), Rose (randomcreative) and Cindy (DevineDesignsJewelry)

You're Questions:

1. What's your favorite store to go into?
2. Do you keep a journal or diary?
3. What time do you go to bed?
4. How many hours, on average, do you spend on the computer?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Etsy Success Holiday Book Camp - Week #5

Danielle started out this week's Boot Camp by telling us about a conference she went to. Here’s something she brought home, Adam Braun’s Seven Key Life Lessons (see right.)

The Lessons attracted my attention, since so many of his points seem related to what I'm been going through lately. Ah-ha! Synchronicity! For example, I just received a book in the mail for my book club, and really need to get some reading done. I climbed into bed with it, and before you know it, I'm asleep! This has me up VERY early in the morning, and embracing my sleepless nights!

I’ve also started some new projects that are... scary! Have you seen The Sketchbook Project icon on my sidebar? My little sketchbook is forcing me to draw and paint, which is completely outside my comfort zone.

Another one of Adam’s Life Lessons! Well, I could go on, but I’ll let you ponder his list for yourself!

This week we were asked to take new photographs of our Christmas items. Urg! I’m having a horrible time getting used to my light box. So I started complaining to a fella etsyblogger (Rose, from Randomcreations) who takes wonderful photographs of her jewelry. She was kind enough to give me some pointers (if you're interested in making a light box, here's her instructions ) First of all, I had too much light shining on my items. She also told me I could change my camera settings - I was completely oblivious to this!

Here's a photo taken about a week ago, using the lightbox:

See the sheen?

I made these kitty earrings today, to go with the necklace. Then I fooled with the lighting some more, and put marble inside my box. And I changed the white balance - not quite sure about this...

But aren't they adorable! (I have some more, in different colors, if anyone is interested in a special order)

Luckily, the sun came out in the afternoon, and I decided to photograph the necklace one more time, with indirect sunlight.

There are some shadows, but I think it came out the best.

Like Rose, I don't have the money to buy Photoshop, so I use Picasa to tweak the image when I need to. There's a lot you can do with photographing your creations - Danielle has a list of reading suggestions here

Interested in what's happening at the Boot Camp? There's a thread devoted solely to this week. Come on by

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Fence Post #61

Do you remember when we had a birthday party at the Mattie Beal Home? We tied balloons on the fence, that encircled the whole property. This little boy was jumping and playing with them, it was so cute. The balloons were blown up on Saturday morning; unfortunately, by the next day, almost all the helium was gone.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Featured Etsyblogger - SplendidLittleStars

Operating more than one shop on the same venue seems difficult to me. I've thought about doing it more than once, but shied away for fear of getting completely confused. But Margaret, this month's feature etsyblogger, manages her two shops without a hitch, as far as I can see.

She opened the two just one month apart! That’s very daring, if you ask me. The first, called SplendidLittleStars , consist of mostly baby clothes. All the items can be special ordered, with your choice of size. And if you're looking to purchase a tied-dyed shirt, you can choose a particular pattern. She just taught a group of Girl Scouts the ins and outs of tie-dying - they probably had a blast! Of course, these, and her hand dyed scarves, are my favorites here.

Her second shop, MEFDesigns by SparklyPark, includes earrings. My favorites are the angels. Here's a sample:

Margaret’s a great teammate, who’s eager to comment on blogs (thanks) and is active on our team thread. She an avid photographer and participates in many photo memes, such as Cats on Tuesday, Alphabe Thursday and SkyWatch Friday. Check out her blog, and don’t miss the fun!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Etsy Success Holiday Book Camp - Week #4

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. There's a lot of good information in the Etsy Storque. And if you're in boot camp, you need to take time and sift through some of the articles. After all, you pledged to do your homework! If you're not in boot camp, you still have a great opportunity for tips, and I'll tell you what I think!

Johnny B. Truant is this week's Boot Camp guest author. His article is "How to tell a story." That sounds just up my alley! I always write a haiku, a three-lined Japanese poem, for every necklace and handmade book I create. I tell people at festivals and fairs, "You get a little story, a haiku, from the storybeader with this item." Some people aren't too exited, but others start reading all the poems, if they weren't already!

"She crept downstairs to
Find the treasures under the
Lighted Christmas tree."

I used to put my haikus first thing, just under the title in my descriptions, thinking it was a neat way to introduce my items. But then I found out it was better to put the most important information first. So it was nice to read Danielle's article , which reinforced what I had learned. She has a number of tips about how to best optimize your text, for both your shop and Google searches.

That reminds me of another tip I just discovered - when you're selling the same item in more than one place (I have a shop at Zibbet now) don't use the same title and first paragraph. This lets the search engine recognize one item in two different venues! You might even find that people are drawn to one writing style over another.

I still haven't learned how best to use my web analytics, but here's another suggestion from Danielle: keep track of the keywords visitors use in searches. And use those words in your descriptions. Looking for better keywords? Check out Danielle's Etsy Success Keyword Exercise.

There's just one more article I wanted to mention, and that is about writing a profile, by Stacey Brook. She has a lot of questions you can ask yourself and tips you might use.

Now go read!
And here's to lots of success!

Digital scan, Polar Bears Toasting Wine, rare antique French postcard by FrenchKissed

Thursday, October 14, 2010

new beads

Planning to make more paper when I have a free weekend, but was asked to make more treasure necklaces for the Firehouse Art Center's Christmas show. So I went to a new bead store. Here's my cache of goodies! So much for plans...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Etsy Success Holiday Book Camp - Week #3

Something really hit home this week in Michelle's "Six Success Secrets" blog post. It was in her second secret, Trust Your Compass:

"When you have a decision to make or a road to travel, head to the place that holds an almost equal amount of fear and excitement."

I've always been afraid, and excited, about custom work. I think, "it won't end up like the buyer wants" or "I'll be swamped (I wish!) by orders and can't finish them on time." But Michelle's advice sounded like the perfect path for me to take! So starting this week, I'm offering custom treasure necklaces.

Luckily, Danielle came up with some great tips and suggestions about custom work. Here are some ideas from her Storque article (BTW: if you're an Etsy seller, you should sign up for at least one Etsy Email). Back to the tips...
  • Give people choices in color and size, but don't make it overwhelming.
  • Be realistic in the time it will take - always give yourself enough time.
  • Use photographs. People feel more comfortable when they can see the end product.
  • Show the progress of your work and discuss the outcome. This is also a great blog post idea!
  • Take advantage of what's available on Etsy. Try their Alchemy page and use convos for any special correspondence. Linking to your Policies page is a good way to remember what you've set down as guidelines.

handmade albums by memoriesforlife

These tips can be used on your blog or website, too. Try writing a post about the availability of custom orders. Place an ad on your sidebar (I just did!) Linking readers to an online photo application (like Flickr) is a good way to give them an idea of what your work looks like. If you're experienced in writing code, place a "Custom Work" tab at the top of your homepage... I need to learn more about this!

If you ARE selling on Etsy or some other handmade venue, think about using one of your image squares to show the possibilities available. I haven't done this before, but I've seen others do it. It's a great way to introduce custom work to your shop, no matter where you sell online. You might surprise yourself with an unexpected custom order!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Medicine Park Art Walk - a day with flute music

Had a great time at the Art Walk yesterday in Medicine Park. Just sold a few items, but it was the ambiance that made my day. It was very informal and the weather was wonderful. I was stationed up on the pathway near the road, not on the Creek Walk, like I thought at first. This photo was shot standing on the street side of the boulder wall.

See that little bridge?

It leads to a small rock island, where they had flute music playing all day. Had a lot of traffic moving by my spot. You can't tell, but there's a hill right behind me and I was concerned at first, but it ended up to be a great location, with the music and waterfall and geese. And I didn't have to lug all my things down the hill.

The people from Sia (the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative) were there with their eagles and hawks.

Here's Troy with an auger buzzard from Africa, know in the US as a red tail hawk. He was hanging out nearby.

One of the organizers of the Art Walk bought my little Lotto Doodle Book. Thanks, Jean.

I'm thinking, I need to use more of the lotto cards I bought from Patch. This past week, the doodle book received so much attention, I'm not sure why.... In memory, I wrote in my Sketchbook Project 2011 book about it ... more about the project later...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Etsybloggers Carnival - fall in Oklahoma

These are two good topics that Ms. Moo (spottedcowsoaps) picked for our carnival this week. I'm going to put my two together: What are some fun activities you like to do in the fall? Show us some awesome photos of autumn where you live.

My favorite fall activity?

I love to snuggle up with a good book.
But if you're thinking about outside activities, I enjoy walking!

Oklahoma weather changes quickly - it can feel like summer in September. But just now, the temps are cooling down and it's great to go for a walk before work or at lunchtime - without getting all sweaty.

sun rising in the morning before work!

The week before Halloween, we don't know if we'll have any children out trick or treating, it's so cold. Then we realize, once again, that it was just a cold front that came through, and the weather is just right.

I'm so lucky, working in the middle of the biggest park in town. We have city events, walking and cycling paths, a frisbee course and prairie dogs. Yes, those little creatures are prairie dogs, first brought to the park in the early 1980s, when their village in the Wichita Mountains got washed away in a flood.

Visitors love them, the Parks and Rec people hate them... they're really hard to control and they like to eat on the roots of trees. And don't step in that hole - great way to twist your ankle (oh yes, the city loves that!)

One of the greatest views in Lawton are all the Bradford pear trees in the parks and on the streets. They just burst into orange and red, in late autumn. Here's what their leaves look like in late October/early November... our little bit of New England!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

almost wordless wednesday - papermaking

The result of this weekend's papermaking project = Red Earth paper.
It's very thick... I need to experiment some more!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy 100 years

Happy Birthday, to the Mattie Beal House, who's 100 years old this year.

In celebration, we had a birthday party on Sunday. Isn't this the most beautiful cake? That image is all sugar, made on some sort of food printer!

There were about 200 people who went through the gates in the afternoon, and everyone had a great time. The weather was cool, not cold. Definitely not hot, like it was just a week ago. Jana, Jim and I had fun playing crochet. After we put down the mallets, we saw lots of families get involved.

On the other side of the front lawn, a badminton net was set up. Lots of kids, of all ages, picked up the rackets and were getting into the swing of things. I didn’t have to tell anyone what the rules were, they just ran with it! Yes, I was suppose to be watching the outside activities, but snuck away a few times for lemonade and cake.

Upstairs in the house, tables were set up and people were playing bridge and other old-fashioned games. One of the high school chess teams came out to help us (thanks team.) At the end of the day, the winning ticket for the Mattie Beal doll was drawn, by Mattie’s grand-daughter. And the winner was: Yvonne! What a treat!

If you’re interested in visiting the house, or would just like to learn more about the telephone operator from Wichita who won 180 acres in the Lawton Land Lottery, there’s a site online, hosted by the Lawton Heritage Association.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp - Week #2

The theme for this week's boot camp is marketing your shop for the holidays.
Here's some of the topics I'm looking at:

- discover who your gift giver and gift receiver is. Danielle reminds us there are two people you want to connect with in one sale, especially around the holidays. I usually create jewelry and books for the gift receiver. But what about the gift giver? What appeals to that person? Free shipping, boxed gifts...

- make a list of your most popular items. What I've found is that my turquoise won out over everything else, with the fetish necklaces coming in a close second. I've also seen that my earrings and treasure necklaces are the two types of jewelry that are most popular. These items come from opposite sides of my price spectrum, which is a good selling point to any shop. Earrings are quick to make and usually inexpensive - I try to stock up on them before festivals. I'll never forget what one veteran jeweler said to me, "Earrings are my bread and butter." On the other hand, I love making treasure necklaces, but they always take lots of time and effort. Among my paper goods, the artist journals with watercolor paper have been the most popular. Paper is new to my shop - I started making journals in January. And I'm surprised at the positive response I get when I ask about mixing two very different types of items. I think my jewelry appeals to paper lovers!

- look to see what your top sellers have in common. My haiku is an obvious bond between most of my creations. Over at zibbet, you can choose products to buy from a color wheel. Someone said that I used complimentary colors in all my work; had I ever thought of using reds or yellows? Funny, my color choice must be a subconscious decision. Again, I create what I like.

"Blog about the work in progress ahead of time." - LilaRubyKing

- find your boot camp buddy. It's good to have a friend to keep you in line and answer those questions you're too embarrassed to ask in a large forum. I found my boot camp buddy within my etsybloggers team, the best-est team in the universe! Well, MY universe. And that's peacoxcreations. Patti is another seller who mixes various products in one shop! Her "subtitle" (always have a title and subtitle!) is "baskets, babies, & beyond." I'm not into babies (sorry moms) but I've always been a basket collector, and her hand coiled pine needle baskets are beautiful. My favorite? The pine needle sewing basket:

- launch a new product line or add to a winning line. That was easy for me. I've been wanting to expand my paper goods. I just don't seem to have the time or energy to start. Or am I scared of failure? I recommend a great post I read yesterday, by fella etsyblogger Erika, "The Success of Failure" which addresses this very question. Good timing for me, or what I now call synchronicity!

"Always make mock-ups out of less expensive materials first."
- newhopebeading

my new Red Earth Envenote ... mock-up

- brand yourself. This is a marketing tool that comes up time and again. Branding is important, so buyers know what to expect when they come to your shop. I want people to think of the storybeader when they're looking for unique, ethnic jewelry and paper items. Ever since I started selling journals, I thought: maybe I need to change my name or create a second shop? But Patti just proved to me that you don't need to be rigid in your product line to have a winning shop. And having a variety of items is probably a good way of bringing in different buyers!

check out Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp - Week #1
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