Thursday, July 22, 2010

Objectivism is Good For You!

There was a lot of advice my mother gave me growing up. The most important being as long as I try my hardest, it doesn't matter what the final result is. She meant it to apply to my struggle with learning Spanish; but I think it is a great goal for life. It was also, unbeknown to me, the philosophy of author Ayn Rand.

Objectivism believes that we have a moral obligation to do what we love to the best of our ability. By doing this we achieve our highest purpose and contribute in the greatest way to society. As artists, our goal is to express the emotional experience in a physical form. These are definitely oversimplifications, but you get the idea.

How does this apply to running an etsy shop? Do what you do to the best of your ability! DON'T COMPROMISE! Not everyone is going to love it, but as long as you do, does that really matter? By doing what you do you are making the world a better place.

Apply it to your whole life. Be the best mom you can. Can't be the best mom? Have help from someone who is. This does not mean you are less of a person, it is just not your thing. No judgements! You are probably better at other things.

be sure to check out the etsy shops of Atlantis Prints and Sentiment Redesigned whose images I have borrowed for this article.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Handmade Shop of the Week: Honey from the Bee

Janet Bocciardi opened Honey from the Bee in 2008. In a landscape overflowing with jewelry, she stands out; combining metalwork, beading and color.

Why did you decide to open your handmade shop? 
Jewelry was multiplying and I was losing control! Seriously, I love creating and finding new stones and objects to include in my jewelry. In order to do that, I had to start bringing in some money. After a couple years of successful art fairs, selling to friends and family, and a change in lifestyle that made it difficult to find the time to do future fairs, I decided to go online. It’s been a learning experience, as I spent the first year wondering where everyone was! Just having a stocked shop doesn’t mean folks that will love your work will find you.

Has your inventory changed much since you first opened? 
Yes. I love to learn new things and as I gain new knowledge in techniques I add them to my repertoire of things to pull out of my hat. You’ll find more metalwork and found object pieces now then say 2 years ago. However, I still like to do beadwork and love color, so beads will always be a part of my work.

Who are the majority of your customers? 
Since I don’t meet my online customers face-to-face I’ll just assume they’re similar to those I met through my shows. In fact, those that bought from me there do buy online from me now either directly or with special commissions. Other artists also will buy from me.

They are 25-70 year olds that are confident in who they are and like to wear jewelry that inspires them. They enjoy the interaction they get from others who can’t help but stop them to ask about the jewelry piece they’re wearing. Life’s too short to wear boring jewelry!

Friends and family were my first fans and still some of my biggest.

How did they find you?
my blog
Repeat customers
Google search
Word of mouth
Etsy, ArtFire, 1000Markets
Newsletter subscribers

What inspires you to create?
Life is the simple answer. A longer answer would be that my love for nature, protecting the environment, family, emotional experiences, new techniques, color, … my favorites to create are those in which I’m telling a story. My story initially, but the most exciting thing happens when the absolutely perfect person finds it and believes somehow I made it just for them. That’s the universal condition isn’t it?

Touching someone with something you’ve created is the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.

What is your favorite item in your shop currently? 
I have a couple that I’ll probably regret selling so I guess they’d be my favorites:
Marie Antoinette bracelet: 
Happening at the Barnyard as it reminds me of my youth and hanging out and playing in our big red barn: 

Your most popular item? 
My jewelry is almost all one-of-a-kind, but overall I’d say my earrings are the most popular over the last year. Sign of the economy perhaps or that we all can use another cute pair!

What has been your greatest resource to make your shop successful? 
Facebook and I believe my blog, which I’ve finally accepted and really enjoy posting in. It’s probably not a coincidence that they are both ways for people to get to know me and what makes me tick.

Any changes coming to your shop in the future? 
There will always be new work popping up. I try to improve my photographs constantly to make it easier for customers to see what they’re buying. Change is a necessity, but I don’t have anything else I can think of right now.

How else can we find you online?

Any team affiliations?
EtsyTwitter Team
Olympic Peninsula Team (Etsy)
HAFTeam (Etsy & ArtFire)
Pacific Northwest (ArtFire)
ArtFire Metalsmiths

Janet wants you to follow her blog to get the latest happenings at Honey from the Bee. If you sign up between now and July 28th and leave a comment here and on her wall, you will be entered to win a pair of her gorgeous Ginger Jar Earrings. She will even let you pick out your favorite color to make them a one-of-a-kind item!

Interested in being shop of the week? email me for information.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shop at Idiosyncrazies!

Can you believe it? Tracey Knits is now available in 2 retail locations!

Today I dropped off some of my braid belts to an amazing store in Point Pleasant called Idiosyncrazies. Sharon Murphy, owner of this eclectic little shop, has put together a space full of treasures.

There are the handmade items from local artists, including jewelry from my good friend Dori's line Face of Contentment.  There is a collection of items made of recycled materials and a gorgeous collection of Fair Trade.

Be sure to stop by her shop if you are in the area. I was there to sell her something and ended up buying a fantastic recycled/fair-trade purse made of used tires!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Landscapes/Seascapes/Local Scenes

I entered one of my photographs into a show at The Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury, NJ. I was very excited to find out I was accepted; my first time at that space. It is a very well respected local art organization offering classes and exhibits of its members juried in throughout the year. This exhibit celebrates the beauty of summer with  landscapes, seascapes and local scenes.

Today was the opening reception. I decided to go with my camera to document some of the beautiful things others submitted; all which are for sale. I even got the opportunity to talk to some of the contributing artists, full of great advise and loads of talent. I of course shared with them some of my knowledge on internet marketing your art.

I was quite surprised, not by the quality of the work, but by how many photographs there were! I was also impressed with the diversity of subject matter. While many artists stuck with traditional subject matter such as the beach, as I did, many ventured into abstract expressions and portraits.

These are some of my favorite pieces from the show. All are available for sale at The Guild if you are interested. The show will be up in the main gallery now through July 27th. Stop by and see it in person!

Something Fishy by Buren Gilpin 
wood vase
Old Red Barn by Frank Colaguori 
Rain... Sun... Mist by Marilyn M. Baldi 
By the way, here is my piece on display:
Breakers by Tracey Rediker
If you are interested in purchasing it and cant get over to The Guild, this piece is also available online

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Advertise Using A Car Magnet

Car magnets have become the new bumper sticker. It is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about your honor student without ruining your leased vehicle. It is also a great way to advertise your small business everywhere you go. If you have a logo designed for your website, you are already halfway there!

printable magnet sheets 
one sided self adhesive laminate sheets (both available at most office supply or craft supply stores)
inkjet printer
design software (or Word if you have nothing else)
scissors or paper cutter

  1. open your design program and set up a new page in the landscape orientation (11"x8.5")
  2. If you are using pre-designed graphics, insert them and add text on HALF the page. You will be using one sheet for 2 magnets. Remember: people will be reading this from their cars, so make the print big and easily legible. Use bold colors and only the most important information, like how they can contact you (website, phone... whatever you want most)
  3. Be sure to print out a draft and cut it down to size to decide if you like it before printing the final version.
  4. Copy and paste your final version below the other one so that you will have 2 printing on one sheet. Be sure there is enough room between the two for you to cut the page in half
  5. place magnet paper into printer as directed on package and print away.
  6. let the print dry for a little while then adhere laminate to magnet on the printed side following directions given on package.
  7. cut sheet in half neatly (11"x4.25")
  8. Adhere to the back of your car cause you are done!
I would love to see some of the fabulous designs you come up with. Please comment and share!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sell Your Soul

lessons from my first year in the handmade community
Today is the first anniversary of my Etsy shop, As with any business, it has been a mountain of lessons learned and lots of hard work. I thought today i would share some of the information I have gathered over the last 365 days. Some you may have heard a million times before, others may be new to you, and bits may not apply to you at all. Whatever your experience level, i hope you get a little something out of it.
  1. Get started! You may be thinking, that is not really a lesson, but it really is. If you don’t just jump in you will never know if you can make it. I have had many surprising successes and failures but I would have never known if I didn’t try. 
  2. Research! My goodness, did I read everything. Etsy provides ALOT of very helpful information for its sellers and you should take the time to read it all. After you have finished that, do a google search and read anything you find there. Be sure to look up sellers who make similar items to yours, if they exist, and see if they share any advice.
  3. Create Handmade! It is easy enough if you like what you are doing to do it every day, so do it. 
  4. Share! I cannot extol the virtues of sharing your work enough. Just listing things on Etsy is not enough. You must have a twitter account, facebook account, and flickr account. You must list your name on (twitter business directory), (get followers), (twitter yellow pages). Facebook offers an app where you can connect your etsy shop to your facebook profile, do it! PS: you never know what a google search will pick up on, so the more places you talk about yourself, the more likely someone will find you.
  5. Make friends! It is just a nice way of saying “networking”. If you talk about their amazing work to your friends and family, they are sure to do the same. I can’t tell you how many times I have been talking at a craft fair and suggested another etsian who would be a perfect choice for them.
  6. Photos make or break it! Take the time to take great photographs and choose the best SQUARE image as your featured picture. I cant tell you the jump in sales I had when i retook the vast majority of my golf club covers. PS: not everyone will buy pre-worn hats or clothing, so make sure to put in the listing if this is the item they will receive or if you can make a new one for them.
  7. Tag, your it! Google searches find your items based on the tags you choose. If you have researched the competition, you know how the best sellers label their items. My Yoda golf club cover is knit, used for sports, and is loved by geeks. How would I tag it? EVERYTHING! Plus I make sure to include things like Star Wars, Jedi, driver, and green. You never know what will be that thing that will connect you with that customer.
  8. Work every day! Yes, no vacations. Even when i wasn’t knitting or designing a new pattern, I was tweeting, I was writing on my blog, I was listing and relisting items. I have a web enabled phone so i can check for sales or respond to inquiries no matter  where I am. I have NEVER put my shop in vacation mode, even when on vacation.
  9. Take advantage of free opportunities! OMG, they are everywhere. I do an article every Monday about another etsy shop and share it with my followers, and I am not the only one! I have had my shop talked about on blogs just by responding to people who want to talk about handmade items. Again, the more you are talked about, the higher you come up on google searches. I have made the mistake of paying to be featured, a mistake I will not make again. 
  10. That costs what? Pay yourself fairly! I cannot charge what I deserve for my hand knit items. It is an unfortunate problem for knitters everywhere. SO I started selling the patterns! Now knitters can share the fun experience of creating my golf club covers and hats and non-knitters can buy one already made. It has reduced my shipping costs and increased my sales. I still get to do what I love, but I get paid more of what I deserve.
have a great piece of advice you would like to share? i would love to hear your comments!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Handmade Shop of the Week: Puzzled1

Jeannette Aragon, of Puzzled, loves wooden toys. Her shop has been overflowing with them since August 2006. All of her award winning pieces are handcrafted, using non-toxic, water based paints so they are safe for your little one and will last for years.

Why did you decide to open your handmade shop? 
I had made so many puzzles I thought to myself "Hey I can sell these!"

Has your inventory changed much since you first opened?   
I am a self taught puzzle maker so as I am inspired my puzzles are born.  I started with just "Paint a puzzle kits" but all I heard was "You don't want that baby puzzle" so then I came up with my wood burned Jigsaw Puzzles and from there the inspiration just keptr coming.  I added my 3D puzzles and then my children's 3D puzzles.  I added my puzzle play sets , photo puzzles, and name puzzles. Finally I added my tray puzzles.  Even my tray puzzles have changed dramatically since I first started making them.  All the while I challenged myself with each new custom puzzle.  

Who are the majority of your customers? How did they find you?

According to Facebook the majority of my customers are women aged 25-45.  I have severalmarketing strategies so my customers come from many different venues.  Search engines, Link Partners, Etsy, EBay, Giveaways, Facebook, Twitter, The magic Onion where I have an advertisement, Squidoo, and thats just to name a few.

What inspires you to create?

Everything! Nature, My keyword statistics, the internet, custom orders, But a lot of ideas come from Free coloring book pages that I adapt and turn into a puzzle.

What is your favorite item in your shop currently? Your most popular item? 
I think my favorite item has to be my 3D Ladybug puzzle.  I sat and mulled over how I could make one that had moving wings and yet was a puzzle.  Finally it came to me one day.  It was just suddenly clear.  Turn the wings into tray puzzles that sits on a solid body.  The wings pivot on wooden pegs and then the whole thing sits on wooden peg legs.  Finally I changed it into a counting puzzle by adding numbers to the spots on the ladybugs wings.  I think it turned out great just like I pictured in my head. It's so unusual.  There is nothing like it out there that I could find. In fact I liked it so much that I have decided to make a green bug just like it.  You know like the bugs that look like leaf bugs.

I think my most poplular items are a tie between my Butterfly 3D Puzzle, my Alphabet Apple 3D Puzzle and my Alphabet Tree 3D Puzzle

What has been your greatest resource to make your shop successful?

I have to say that my greatest resource is The Google Gods for they have given me very favorable rankings through a ton of hard work on my part.  But I have to say that 60% of my business has come through Google.

Any changes coming to your shop in the future?

Oh Im posative there will be.  Like I said as I grow as a puzzle maker so do the puzzles that I make.  Lately I have been making about a new puzzle every week or two.

How else can we find you online? Any team affiliations? 
You can find me on Etsy or Etsy Kids as Puzzledone, Bonanzle as puzzled1, Ebay as sweeetjenn71, Squidoo I have three lenses, The Magic Onion, twitter as puzzledone, Flicker as, Linkedin as Jeannette Aragon, and so much more

Interested in being featured on my blog? Email me for more information.