Monday, November 22, 2010

Welcome to my studio :)

Just a quick pic proudly presenting my latest creation. I'm in the middle of a shoot and suffering from an attack of unshakeable optimism. My recent photographic action proved to be a total success and
a) my pics are getting fairly decent
b) it takes one tenth of the time it used to take
I'm happily snap-snapping.
Only my knees hurt like hell from ceramic tiles.
One more universal mystery solved - now I know why human kind invented pillows!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New pics off The Box

Sample of what you can get by building a lightbox.
And if you saw how unprofessionally my box looks - OH, HOW YOU WOULD LAUGH!!!
Screw it, it's supposed to work, not look.
And does it work? Funny me, I thought that once I have The Box, taking pictures will become holiday in Hawaii. Instead, it looks like I'm starting on another trial-and-error learning quest. I see some improvement here, but...
I start to think I should've posted a pic of myself splashed on the floor in front of The Box with my elbows propped up against an overturned guitar amp. I feel like laughing, not like being professional (blah!). Must be the weekend getting at me? ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photographic charge!!!

After many sleepless nights spent on worrying how to improve my little online shop (ok, I do exaggerate here again... but only slightly :), I concluded that the biggest issue I still have troubles with are bloody pictures. Much better than they used to be, they keep on being my Achilles' heel - too dark, too dull, backgrounds with ever-changing colour... Time to do something about it.

As I've said many times over, I hate photography. Hate, hate, hate, as passionately as it gets. Each time I'm forced to take up a camera, I'm whining worse that a puppy missing its mother. It got so bad, that I actually started to avoid CREATING new items, knowing that at some point I will have to snap the picture. The warning bell rings - definitely time to do something about it!

Let me be painfully exhibitionistic here and tell you a story or two on how does my picture taking process look like. It's a grim painting, so be warned. First - batteries on their last breath, which let me take about 20 pics at one go, rarely more. Then the mandatory charging break of few hours! I got a habit of photographing only one item at a time, so making images of one line of jewellery - see my zodiacs - becomes a task stretching over weeks. That is, it would be weeks, if only... There are some other factors involved. I take my pictures in my living room, next to the balcony to catch light. But what if it rains? And here in Ireland it does it a lot, sky being so overcast that we live in perpetual shadow. Plus, I tend to live in very irregular hours, often sleeping during the day and staying up all night, so no light = no pictures. Weeks become months.

I say stop. I scratched the bottom of my miserable purse, dug out few quids, and went shopping. First - BATTERIES!!! No more 5-minute long photo sessions!!! Oh relief! Then - a cheapest possible table lamp, to add to the one I already have. I've spent some time reading various tutorials and researching options of my camera, so now I have much clearer idea what to do to make it work. Next step - hunt for a decent box and making a light tent. This is still to be done, but I'll be up and running any time now.

If it all goes according to the plan, I will soon have lots of lovely, alluring pictures and much more items in my shop. Plus, maybe, more pics to adorn this blog with :). Well, there's nothing like some action.

Fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This is all getting insane

One pissed off post for a change.

I'm hanging around the forums, browsing Etsy things and getting angrier by the minute. I did try to have a light approach, not to treat everything seriously etc., and sometimes it even works, but there are moments when I just want to scream. Or hit someone with a brick.

I'm doing cross stitched jewelry. I've listed a pair of earrings today and travelled to 'needlecraft' section to have a nice look around and see how I stand out against competition. And then...

What competition??? Half of the items in 'cross stitch' subcategory don't have anything remotely to do with cross stitching! There are magazines, patterns, beaded items, pin-and-thread creations, pictures, ANYTHING, but things that were actually cross stitched are few.

Same with ever-discussed question of resellers. There are screams and screams about it in forums. I guess if I said what I really think I would get sued, so I'll keep it to myself, but can't stop myself from one simple statement - why the hell would Etsy remove them if they bring them money???

There was a thread in the forum yesterday on how Etsy brand is being associated with low quality and basic crap - and you know what? Some people expressed actual surprise! True, there are AMAZING artisans lost in Etsy's labyrinths, but proportions are getting scary. Sometimes I'm under impression that maybe one in 100 shops shows something really breathtaking, the rest is just hopeless junk.

People are getting better and better in marketing, SEO and similar, but forget about the actual product. And nobody seems to mind. What a shame.

Might be the time to start looking for a new e-venue.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to get exposure?

I've been struggling with this issue every waking moment (o.k., I AM exaggerating here :). But it takes some time and work and brainstorming.

If you are an Etsy seller you surely know what I am talking about. There are million trillion sellers out there, all desperately trying to get customers to look at their items. Because of this crowd, it's bloody hard to get noticed. Unless, of course, you are willing to spend a fortune on constant renewing. But that goes rather against the whole idea of a business, am I right?

So, back to the always-surfacing question - how to get exposure? I can speak only from my own experience, and so far what I found out is:

- Blog does not really work ( :( ). Not this, anyway. I have a funny feeling that if I started writing on something having nothing to do with my Etsy shop, it would work better. Just to give you some statistics - I have days with 60-80 blog views, but only few, if any, translate to Etsy view. Tough.

- - I've already written about it here. No rush in the shop either. Maybe one, two extra views, but that's it. Still, it's always an outlet and you never know.

- Etsy forums. This is my main reason for writing this post. I did some experiments yesterday and I'm astonished by the results. I spend half the night yesterday on Etsy forums. Not being serious, not trying to give any decent advise, just blabbing my heart away and mostly adding a touch of humour to oh-so-serious posts. It was... well, I wouldn't call it inspiring or a pleasure, but it was kinda fun. Especially a long, long thread on How to Make Money When You're Deadly Broke :). But let's have a look at numbers. Usually I get an average of 5 visitors a day, with 20-something pageviews. Yesterday - 50 and 132 accordingly. An absolute record! Now, I'm not sure if it's the target audience I'm looking for, but at least I'm SEEN. Which, with the Web more crowded by day, is getting more and more difficult to achieve.

I guess I did not invent gunpowder with the above. But my aim is not to be an all-knowing expert, I want to tell you what WORKS based on my very specific experience instead. Fresh reports will be delivered as my adventure progresses :).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Playing with prices?

Here's some news - special offers don't seem to work. I did as promised in my previous post, I've listed three pairs of earrings at a special reduced price and - nada. Not only I didn't sell anything, even views were extremely low.

Well, I did give it a try.

Anyway, I'm tempted to get totally wild and start playing with prices. Let's say I'll put something up at out-of-the-blue high price, a hundred quid or so... I may still not sell anything, but at least some people may want to see what the hell I want to charge this much for and increase my views this little bit.. Or they will be deeply offended by my cheekiness and they will tell all their friends how bad I am :). I don't really enjoy playing market psychologist, but I'm getting much less serious about my shop. See, I tried to be professional, reasonable, all that, and nothing came out of it, so maybe I'll just get wild? Even if I don't sell anything - no change there, right? - at least I will have some fun.

What's more important - I started the whole Etsy thing to be able to do what I want. NOT to earn money, NOT to get recognition as a crafter, but to be able to create something exactly as my fancy takes me. My shop is my creation, my items belong to me (until somebody buys them), I can do anything I want with them. Anything, anything, anything.

There, I've said it. I feel much freer already.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Special offers (grrrrr)

I'm giving up.

I'm going to introduce a limited time special offer for next three items added to my Etsy shop. I'm bringing the price down from 35 to 25 dollars.

I'm really angry about it (can you guess??). The reason being - no, not that I'm some stingy witch who's crying for her potentially lost money. The reason being - I'm compromising my beliefs and it hurts.

Let me show you the picture. My earrings take about three to four hours to make - not a chance in the world to do them quicker, that's the peculiarity in stitching. Every stitch has to be sewn by hand, I cannot get around that. So I can't introduce any time-saving techniques. I guess I'm glad, because this means that my items get my full attention, fully special treatment, I'm putting my time and care there. Add some materials to that and you will see that I'm not really making any money with prices as they are.

Then - I have no sales. Nada, not a single one. And two people close to my heart suggested this is because of the price. I heard today - 'You tried everything, you changed descriptions, changed pictures, posted on blog, but you didn't move the price'. So ok, here's where I break. I'm willing to give it a try, just to see what happens.

What I hate about it is that the bullshit marketing I hate so much has finally caught up with me. Now I will have to use those hated phrases, to tell people out there how fantastic it is that I brought prices down. It's not fantastic. It's supporting all the wrong ideas. It's giving up, it's losing my personal fight. But here we go, I'm doing it.

I feel awful. This, too, happens.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How about a bracelet?

There, I have just given away my secret. Or, in other words, told you what my latest project is.

I am not yet sure how it will turn out. See, what I love most about my project is that they 'make themselves'. It's very simple. If I hit the right idea, making it into a tangible reality is piece of cake and I'm loving every bit of it. If the idea is not so great, soon I'm losing interest and simply abandoning it. I'm not going to get freaky and talk about destiny, let's just say that my creations enjoy bits of personality.

I've already tried making bracelets once upon a time, but it proved to be one of those failed projects, so this time I'm a bit apprehensive. Yet, I'm giving it a try. So far it's going smoothly. If it all works I'll be screaming with pride so you'll be sure to know. If it doesn't work... heheh, I might just as well treat it with elegant silence :)

I'm still wondering how to finish off the new bracelet. Of course it's cross stitched, but I'm hesitating whether to put it on felt or on leather backing. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zodiac jewelry

I silently launched my zodiac jewelry line.

Three signs are up on Etsy by now, pendants only, but I will add earrings and sets later on.

I was going to wait until I have the whole range photographed, but one evening I just decided to get on with it and see what happens.

Nothing much happened :)

The views are pretty low and it makes me not-so-happy. I want my items to be seen! How are they to be liked if nobody knows of their existence??? I guess patience, patience is the key, but it is not that easy to summon.
I guess I do not have that much choice, I just have to wait and see what happens. And hope like hell that some Readers will visit my little gallery on their travels.