Monday, January 31, 2011

A Month in Photographs - January

January went by quickly.  The beginning of the year couldn't have come at a better time, since I'm finishing up certain things, and starting anew.  The family got together just after New Years (#1 and #6), which was fun.  I mailed my sketchbook (#5) to the Brooklyn Art Library, after completing an index for it.  Now I can concentrate on Storybeader's future.   I'll be using the shelf above the coat rack (#2) as the new image in my Etsy shop.  At the beginning of the month, I started a series called Sat. Strategy Sessions and began looking at my worksheets (#7).  I also started making double-sided bookmarks (#3) for people to use for writing notes when they're reading.  And it was my birthday [sigh] and DH surprised me with flowers (#4) on the 18th.  All in all, a great month!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Strategy Session, Week 4 - short and long-term goals

In the first three sessions, we finished Worksheet 1, describing our strengths and dreams.  If you're interested in looking back, I added a link to the strategy sessions in the right-hand column.  So now it's time for Worksheet 2.  Before you start organizing your goals, review what your dream day is like and what drains your energy (from Week 3).  Don't make impossible goals that you won't follow.


One thing that April (from Blackburg Belle) mentions at the beginning of this worksheet:  "When you think about your marketing efforts and your goals, keep in mind what these goals will mean to you personally and professionally."  I have always found it a chore to balance my fulltime job and keep storybeader afloat.  So I need to look at the implications of my goals.  Also, she says "realize that your goals can and probably will change." Well, that's a relief!  I want to do art journaling every day.  But then, I don't have time to do that, create new products, blog, exercise, go to work and spend time with my DH.  So some actions need to be combined or set aside.

1.  List three short-term goals for your business.
 
This should be easy enough, since they won't be complex.  April suggests one month as a time frame.
* advertise online using my new Etsy banner name (Storybeader's Bookshelf)
* make two art journals and list them on Etsy
* redo my Etsy shop

2. What would you have to do to reach your new short-term goals?
 When I was looking at these goals, I already had an idea of how to succeed.  And you probably will also.  I plan to advertise on Project Wonderful and Entrecard.  First, I need to make a square ad block, which is the most popular size.  I want to buy some vintage comic books and turn them into art journals.  If anyone can tell me which comics they like best, let me know.  And at the beginning of February, I'm taking all my jewelry out of my Etsy shop.  Right now, there's a 30% January Jewelry Sale going on.  I hadn't considered when I was going to get all this done; maybe I need to take February 1st off work!  This is just one example of why it's a good idea to look ahead (and write down) how you'll reach your goals. 


3. List three long-term goals for your business that are attainable within one year.
I knew this was coming!  And I have a few suggestions.  Do you want to start a new product line?  I consider this a long-term goal, since you have to become skilled and start to let people know you'll be selling something new.  I want to start making paper.  Last year, I started too late in the year and didn't become proficient in it.  Advertising is another goal.  One of my etsyblogger teammates, Patch, has inspired me to work on my facebook page, and start advertising there.  Since social networks are so popular now, I think it might work.  Another attainable goal for me is getting more involved with a second etsy team. I belong to the First Friday Art Walk team (AWEteam) but haven't spent a lot of time with them.  The team blog's admin (pixiestreasurechest) is looking for members interested in guest posting.  I could do that!  Just last week, we sponsored a treasury with a purpose - 50% of each item's purchase price is going to raise funds for Etsy artist HaitianMetal.  

4. What would you have to do to reach your long term goals?
Most likely the answer everyone will have is "find more time!"  April says you need to be realistic.  Once the weather turns nice, I'll spend at least one weekend a month outside making paper.  And I need to spend more time on facebook, and get proficient; read some tutorials to see how others use it.  I  need to contact the AWEteam admin and ask what sorts of posts she's looking for.  Maybe she will be interested in this series?!    

Next week, we will look at even longer-term goals, which will involve a little more dreaming.  If you're blogging about developing your marketing plan, add a link or your url post in the comments.  It will be nice to see what others are thinking about.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Etsybloggers Carnival - Valentine exchange

The one Valentine's Day memory I have is exchanging cards with classmates.  I would either buy cards, or sometimes in class, we would make our own to give to each other.  I plan to make some cards this year, and hope it's not too late to place them in my shop for sale.  In the meantime, here's a treasury to celebrate:


Thanks goes to Foxy G. Knits, for hosting our etsybloggers team carnival.   You can find Lois on etsy here and at her blog, Foxy G's

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Featured Etsyblogger - TheArtOfJoy

This month’s featured Etsyblogger is TheArtofJoy.  Congratulations!  I love looking at Joy’s website, CreativeMamma!  There’s so many things going on.   Her latest posts are on a carousal “above the fold,” with older post abstracts underneath.  And there are lots of “free printables” available.    Everything she does is so professional looking.  You know that you'll get fabulous products, whatever you decide on.  


Etsy chose to feature her shop this past October, out of all the thousands available.  You guessed it: spooky designs.  It’s always fun looking through her shop; there’s printable note cards, calendars and stickers.  I think everything is in  PDF file format, so you received your items by email within 24 hours after payment.  Here’s some of my favorite items:

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Friday Art Walk Treasury - Treasury for a Cause


This treasury on Etsy is sponsored by the ART WALK ON ETSY TEAM for the purpose of raising funds for our fellow Etsy shop - HAITIAN METAL

50% of the purchase price from each item sold will be donated. They are still in the recovery process after last years devastating earthquake. Read more here

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Strategy Session , Week 3 - perfecting your dream

So far, we've looked at how others view you (Week 1) and how you describe your business (Week 2).  This week we are going to finish Worksheet One with five questions, involving why you started your business in the first place and how to make it more enjoyable for yourselves and your clients?

Question #7: What do you daydream about doing? Why haven't you done it?
I think it's good to daydream about what you want to do, and write it down on paper.  Me?  I want to work four days a week and spent more time with my art.  I haven't done that yet because I need to earn money.  One dream I've had for a long time is to learn the art of bookbinding.  This means studying under a professional -  my "why I haven't done it"... I started to visualize making handmade books last year, after taking a basic class.  At the same time, I promised myself to start making my own paper from recycled mail.  These two things have already been set in motion.  Art journaling is a new activity I daydream about.  There's a lot of action on the internet right now - I found a neat site on Ning.  Whatever you daydream about, you can find online... all you have to do is look. 

Question #8: What would your perfect work day look like?  Start from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed and be as specific as possible.
OK, I can see where this is heading!  But truly, it’s a great exercise and everyone should take a little time and see what perfect is.  Hopefully you will surprise yourself at how close you are.  I'm an early riser, and already do what I want to in the morning: coffee, journaling and blogging.  Sometimes it's art journaling, others times "morning pages."  If I could only work part time - now that would be perfect!  I like getting out of the house and being around interesting people.  My work sets that in motion.  In the afternoon, I would exercise, go for a walk.  Then eat, watch the news, get on the computer again, and read.   I would prefer to get in a full chapter before falling asleep with book in hand! 

Question #9: What do you do that drains your energy?  What aspect of your personal and business life would you love for someone else to take over?

This is another one of those leading questions.  If I could actually delegate cleaning the house to a maid, I would love it.  DH already cooks for me and I clean up.  And I need my very own computer wizard; that would probably save me hours of worry and time.  Washing clothes isn't hard, but when it comes to hand washing, I become a procrastinator.   

Question #10: What problems does your creative business solve for your customers?
First of all, let me say that April from Blackburg Belle tells us, this question will be a major factor in our marketing efforts, and you should spend time thinking about.  "You don't have to solve major problems.  For instance, if you make yoga clothes, you might provide eco-friendly clothes that are extremely comfortable."  Because my products are functional, they solve many problems for my customers: having the right necklace to wear or a journal to write and draw in.  I also use acid-free paper in my bookmaking, which attracts certain people.  Since everything is handmade with high quality materials,  customers get the best products possible.  Special ordering is available for making individual items or sets, and clients can specify exactly what they're looking for. 
Question #11: How do you exceed your customers' expectations?
This is similar to a previous question about values.  My customers are always so appreciative at how fast I respond to them.  Since my photography isn't the best, I probably exceed people's expectations when they open their packages.  I believe my prices are less expensive than if bought in other parts of the U.S.  And I'm super friendly and easy to communicate with {:-D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review - Sophia Tolstoy

I wasn't thrilled about the latest volume my book club chose.  It was a biography of Sophia Tolstoy, wife of the great Russian novelist Lev Nikolaevich ("Leo") Tolstoy.  What a horrible person he turned out to be.

The book, called Sophia Tolstoy, was in part an attempted by Alexandra Popoff to debunk all the horrible things said about Sophia by followers of Lev.  They got married when she was very young; he was 17 years her senior.  She took care of their large family over the years, being pregnant, it seemed, every other year (she was pregnant 16 times!)   Sophia didn't get much help from him raising the children.  That's not surprising.  He was a self-centered person, and she was scorned for disagreeing with him.  Sophia was basically Lev's editor and scribe, though she enjoyed hand copying entire drafts of his books (many times) including War and Peace and Anna Karenina.  After he became a "towering public figure and founded a new brand of religion," she fought to keep him published and protected the family's possessions from being given away by him.  


I just couldn't bear reading how badly Tolstoy treated his wife and stopped halfway through the book.  And I'm not one who usually puts down a book.    If you are familiar with his works, you will enjoy where the author identifies how personal events made their way into his novels.  Sophia was also a writer.  Her book Skeleton Dolls (a children's book) looked very interesting, but it's out of print.

I'd like to sell my (hardcover) book, which retails for $28.00.  I don't write in my books, so Amazon would considered it "Used - Like New."  I'm willing to sell it for $11.00 ($18.00 overseas) - that would already include the shipping/handling charges.  Just let me know; I have an Amazon and PayPal account. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

List it Tuesday 1/18 - postcards

Woke up with an idea of how to use all those "snail mail" cards I've gathered in one box this weekend.  Well, at least, the ones I didn't file away.  Maybe I was thinking about the birthday card I received from Mom on Saturday, and how I need to call her.  And the mess I have in my workroom! 

Anyway, I will cut these cards up and make a collage.

I also have a bunch of postcards, mainly from businesses.  They would make an interesting piece too.  The two "HistoRic" postcards I won't use...  One is Quanah Parker and friends, photographed by William J. Lenny in Oklahoma Territory.  The other is called "The Homesteaders" and has to be one of my favorite images.   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Strategy Session , Week 2 - defining your business

Last week we looked at how others see your business.  This week, we'll consider how we define ourselves.  An important thing to consider: do you still enjoy creating your art?  I launched Storybeader looking to earn extra cash - I think a lot of us started out that way.  My focus has changed a number of times, but I'm still excited about my artwork.  Hopefully you are energized by what you do. 

Here are three more questions from Worksheet 1 (strengths and dreams) created by April at Blackburg Belle.   


Question #4:   What values make up your creative business? 
I assume this means the worthiness of your business.  My customer service is a top priority.  I enjoy responding quickly to sales and questions, to ship packages in one or two days, and to send my products internationally.  Working with special orders is gratifying.  My first Etsy sale was a beaded rope necklace (above.)  The buyer liked it so much she asked for a matching bracelet; later on, some earrings.  You might try and look at your feedback and see what values others place on your business.  I hadn’t thought of it, but one person commented on the quality of my materials.  That IS important to me.  Someone else said they only buy recycled products.  That got me thinking about my concern for the environment.  I try to use acid-free and recycled materials whenever possible. 


Question #5: If you had to name one quality that defines your brand, what would it be (Get specific)?   
It took me a long time to come up with just one word to define my brand.  And that is  functional.  Not very glamorous, I suppose...  What I did was write down words that describe all my artwork and looked for an underlying theme.  First of all, I had to check the dictionary.  Quality is defined as “to describe; characterize.”  My pieces (hopefully) are beautiful, but one characteristic they all have is that they are useful.  The buyer can wear my jewelry, draw and write in the journals and feel good about buying handmade (recycled) paper.  Everything is unique, and to add a little twist, I write a haiku for all of my necklaces and books.


Question #6: What are you favorite work-related activities?  What ideas make you want to jump out of bed in the morning.  What projects capture your attention, causing you to loose track of time.
This is very personal and should be fun for you to answer.  My absolute favorite part of Storybeader in the design aspect.  And I love to write and edit my blog.  My haikus usually come to me in the process of creating each piece.  Layout is a favorite part of my beadwork, especially with treasure necklaces.  I enjoy the sense of accomplishment with every piece.  And I love looking at all the beautiful Japanese papers when I'm shopping for book covers.  The neat thing about art journaling is that it is meditative!  Maybe others won't know what a design means, but it's usually a personal expression of something in my life. What makes me jump out of bed in the morning?  I usually wake up with a solution to a design in my head, and feel the need to record it before I forget. 

What is it about your artwork that brings you the most joy?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Etsybloggers Carnival - 2011 Business Goals

I have big plans this coming year, and it all revolves around my art on paper.  I want to discover more about painting supplies, tangles, bookbinding, and the "zen" of art journaling.  And when the weather warms up, I want to try my hand again at papermaking.  As I learn new techniques, I'll be writing about them in Storyland

One of the planned outcomes for 2011 will be to introduce new products on Etsy.  Many of you have heard me talk about moving my jewelry out of my Etsy shop and leaving only paper goods.  I’ll still have treasure necklaces on my blog, but other than that, beads will be removed... except my new paper beads I bought from the Philippines on Etsy last month.  I think they're fascinating! 


Selling online has been nice and easy for me, but I haven't been doing too good of a job.  Over the last three years, I’ve sold only 26 items.  In 2011, I‘m hoping to expand my art into the non-cyber world.  Getting involved with more festivals is one way.  Hopefully I'll have some money to pay for entrance fees.  I also need to find some businesses where I'm comfortable with leaving my jewelry... like at a museum!


On the administrative side of my business, I plan to write a personalized marketing plan.  I've already begun  this - last week was the first post in my new series, Sat. Strategy Sessions.  I hope you will join me and write a plan for yourself.  I also need to better organize my supplies - my little workroom is getting overrun with paper!   Last year I got a flat file cabinet for storing large sheets of paper.  Now I need a bunch of small containers for all the scraps of paper I'm accumulating. 

Thank you Missie, for hosting this week’s Etsybloggers Carnival.  To visit Missie’s blog, and read more carnival posts, go to http://sykin.net

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

List it Tuesday 1/11 - making an index


I'm just getting used to my Photoshop Elements, and made this layered image.  The background is a keyword index for my Sketchbook Project 2011 book.  Can you tell I'm an organizing fanatic?  I numbered all the pages, except for the blank ones in the back.  You gotta have the pages numbered if you're making an index!  The sketchbook was mailed yesterday (deadline, postmark January 15th.)   

For those of you who don't know about the Sketchbook Project, it was developed by the Art House Co-op.  One of many projects they organized.  Their description: "It's like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks."  There were different themes to choose from; I selected Adhere To Me

This was a great opportunity for me.  I was able to confront all those fears of not being good enough, messing up the journal, wasting my money (there was a fee), and downright embarrassing myself.  The first few pages were a bit "lame" but after a while, I got the hang of using different materials.  I can see a big change in my pages from the start to the finish.

The sketchbooks will be exhibited across the country, traveling to Portland (ME), Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Winter Park (FL), Austin, San Francisco, and Seattle.  "After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view."  This feels like being published, having my book on someone's library shelf.  A dream of mine. 

You can check out some more great lists at artsyville here

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Strategy Session, Week 1 - how do others see you?

I'm a very organized person.  My friends and colleagues say so.  I've written strategic long-range plans for my museum and created exhibitions out of binders of research.  So when I saw April's (aka Blacksburg Belle) "Developing your personalized marketing plan," I knew I could complete the task.  All I needed was to follow the worksheets, answer the questions one by one, and compile the information. 

But why have a marketing plan?  April says: “You’re not going to get the results that you want if you don’t put a marketing plan into place. If you want to have a successful, long-term creative business, it’s critical to spend time on your marketing efforts each day.”

Sounds reasonable.  After glancing over her first worksheet, I decided to start gradually  with the first three questions.

Question #1: How do others describe you?
April suggested to ask friends and family members.  When I asked my friends, they had only good things to say {:-D  I'm kind and talented, caring and honest, smart and determined.  It's embarrassing to write this down, but a friend told me to think of it as marketing research.  I feel much better now (thanks, Jana.  And great photography work!) 

Other ways to satisfy this question?  If you have a job, listen to what people say about you at work.  My boss compliments me all the time in front of others, saying what a hard worker I am.  People say to me "Appreciate you!" and "Thanks for showing me that."  Pay attention to how family and friends flatter you.  Mom once said that I was a compassionate person - that might have been the biggest compliment I've ever received.  Here's your chance to write down all those good things people are saying.

Question #2: How do others describe your business?
This was much easier - at least for me.  The same great friends who said all those nice things about me also said great things about my business:  that it was unique, professional, creative.  And my artwork was "progressing/improving"  (nice of you to notice, Jackie!)


There are other ways than just word of mouth, to find out how people view your business. If you have an online presence, has anyone featured you in a post?  Or have you done any interviews? Usually, an interviewer will introduce you and tell their readers why they think you're so great.  Social networking sites, like facebook and ning, are other places where people leave comments, without being asked!

Question #3: What makes your business unique?
This searching the archives, looking for comments, made question #3 much easier for me.  In November 2008 I was the Featured Etsyblogger, designing jewelry more than anything else.  It took some time, but I looked back to see what people wrote about me.


Black Turtle found the
Treasure chest, and made fast friends
With the fetish drops.

Everyone commented about my blend of artwork and haiku.  EVERYONE!  It was easy to see, that's what made my business unique and stand out in people's mind. 
 I think April said it best, “If you don’t know how you’re different and unique, alarm bells should be going off.  You need to know what sets you apart from other artists in your niche.”

If anyone wants help answering these first two questions, leave a comment with your blog or shop url.  I will visit and honestly critique your presence.  Hopefully, others will take the initiative and we can have a dialogue here.  The more people who can utilize this series, the better {:-D

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Fence Post #68 - from the journal


I've been so busy with my art journaling, I haven't gone for a simple walk, to photograph fences.  Need to look at balancing my life a little better.

I did find a fence in my Sketchbook Project 2011.  It actually began as a mistaken splosh of blue, so I thought about fencing in the flowers.  Did you notice?  lol  I haven't completely finished this spread, but it's the last one in my book.  The sketchbook flys out to Brooklyn, come Monday. I need to make a ToDo list, and start working on things that need to get done..

For more Friday Fence Post, visit Ani's blog, Coffee Pot People.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

almost wordless wednesday - wind turbines

Went out to the Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge on Monday with family that was visiting.  It was real windy that day.  Didn't get any photos of people - I'm not a good portrait photographer... always think I'm disturbing people and getting in their face.  But I love taking pics of the wind turbines.  They are so pretty, sitting on the mountains like little whirligigs (another love of mine!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

List it Tuesday 1/4 - questions to consider

Just started looking at how to arrange my new series, Saturday Strategy Sessions : Let's Make a Personalized Marketing Plan (disclaimer: the plan was written by April at Blacksburg Belle.)  I'm a bit overwhelmed with the first worksheet, "Strengths and Dreams."  There's a list of 11 questions to consider.  I wrote down a condensed version for myself: 


Starting this Saturday, I'll be writing about the first two questions:  how others describe you and your business.  We'll have a whole week to think about this, and maybe we can bounce some of these questions off each other.  So take a deep breath and get ready to put your thinking caps on.     

You can always visit April at the blacksburgbelle website, and download your own worksheets.

And you can find other List It Tuedays on artsyville, here

Monday, January 3, 2011

Adhere to me

Been thinking of a look, for the cover of my Sketchbook Project 2011.  My theme, Adhere to me, suggests glue.  And I've got haiku throughout the sketchbook.  So that's what I put on my cover.  Simple and sweet.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

storybeader's jewelry - 30% off at etsy


To celebrate the New Year,
I'm inviting everyone to my January Jewelry Sale on Etsy. 
That's handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry on sale throughout the month
FOR 30% OFF!
Prices are already marked down,
no waiting or hassles with refunds.

 
  After February 1st, all jewelry will be removed from my Etsy shop.
If you see an item you like but don't have an account,
contact me and we can make arrangements.
I will be accepting checks and layaway this month.

The shop will reopen with a new name in February,
but it will still have Storybeader in it.
Maybe something like this:



 For those of you who sell on Etsy, and have closed a shop
I'd be interested to hear what you did.  
Did you write about it on your blog?
Include your link in the comments!  
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