Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Etsy Treasury Obsession - Overcoming an Addiction

I'll admit it. I was obsessed with making Etsy Treasuries. I made at least one a day and was on a team that had great communication to the point that I was reading emails for hours on end. That and my part in teamwork and the other team that I occasionally made treasuries for took up a good chunk of my day. All in hopes that my Treasury would make it to the Glorious Etsy Front Page.

Why the Front Page? Because there my friends, teammates and I might be seen and draw more sales to our shops. Treasury making is fun, but if you think you're not doing if for glory and sales, you're kidding only yourself. How many buyers make Treasuries, even though they can? And if they make one do you thank them? If you don't you could be missing out on sales too.

I have another confession to make. I've been kicked off of Etsy. No more Treasury making for me. This time it was my fault. I ran a bit behind in my payments and they want their money. Can you blame them? Most of the time they shut down shops, they are unreasonable, although they did refuse to work with me.  It's all or nothing, and as Etsy was my main source of income, it will be a very long time before I can pay them back and get my shops open.

There is a point to all of this, since I've stopped making treasuries, I finished my taxes; learned how to make linkable widgets (see them over there ----->); started making that website I've been talking about; opened up a few new venues to sell at; followed tons more peeps that are following me back; found and implemented addthis and designed some lovely new fascinators that will soon be listed at my Artfire shop. And yes, I am actually selling there too, not much, but it will grow. When I do a search for my items, I see the links to Artfire and Zibbet ranked way higher than my Etsy items ever were.

In summary, I am doing the things to promote and grow my business that I should have been doing all along. Etsy wants you to think that the Front page is critical to your business. It isn't. It's critical to their business. They charge high fees and then contract you for your valuable time to design their front page. With relisting fees, my overall percentage to Etsy was closer to 8%, not 3.5%. Please, make Treasuries if it's fun for you, make them if you want to get to the front page, but don't make them at the expense of loosing out on other opportunities to make your business grow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ice

What can I say about Ice? It's so beautiful clinging to the tree branches. When the sun comes up first thing in the morning, it makes rainbows of them, like a crystal forest. But ice and snow also make the branches too heavy to support their weight.

Yesterday was one of those days for us. Eight hours without power. That's a very long time when it's 20 degrees and your house is heated with electricity and your water is from a well that uses an electric pump. We have a very tiny house, so we lit all the candles we could find, and that kept most of the chill away. That and a few extra layers of clothing and we were good to go.

It could have been worse, sometimes the power goes out here for days. It was daylight, so we took the curtains off the window and did a little hand work. Poppy cut fabric, and I made some flowers, and a new fascinator design.

The little one had been out of school for a week with a cold, so he was stir crazy. Fortunately we had a tiny portable TV with a little charge left and a cable hook up. Amazing technology. Then we had to play games.

We dug out our camp stove, no fuel, so I made a tin can camp stove to use with charcoal. Poppy heated water for tea in a muffin tin over candles. Worked well.

We got a ride to the store to buy an LED lantern and stove fuel, and when we got back, the power was on. But now we are prepared for a future outage. I'm charging the cellphones and TV right now, just in case.

I've read that there are Solar storms on the horizon. And they might put out our power for months at a time. Are you prepared? We'll have to have the Amish deliver us food with their buggies, because, no power, no gas pumps either. We have a lake, so we can boil that water. I guess we should get one of those $15 camp shower thingies too. They are wonderful if you have nothing else. And you living off the Grid? You go!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Newsletters

I really needed to start sending out newsletters. I made a few myself that I designed through my personal email. That was pretty easy. Collecting and keeping track of email addresses, however was not.

I got advice from a few other sellers about this service called MailChimp. Looks like a great one, and unless you have a huge mailing list, it's free. They help you with signups (widgets and links), save your data and help you design and send your newsletters.

 See, I have a signup over there ------>

Not very pretty yet, but I haven't figured out the whole design thing. Come back and see if I can make it any prettier. I'm going to try. I hear it is pretty easy to use, but I haven't figured out the whole thing yet. I'll let you know if I figure it out. I have heard from many sellers that it is really easy.

So here's the deal. I've been moving around a lot, so you need to be on my email list to find me. I'll be posting here, but I will also be opening a web site. YAY! And I'm going to bribe you a little. If you sign up for my newsletter, you'll automatically be entered to win this sweet Pink Anemone Trio Necklace. Don't worry about getting too many newsletters though, because I could barely figure out the widget. It will take me a while to figure out the newsletter, and I have a website to build.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Year After the Fire

If you've been following me and Poppy on Twitter, you know we've had a rough year. One year ago on February 15th in Utica New York, we were having a Post Valentine and Chinese New year dinner by the fire. Poppy threw in the paper plates (dumb move) and they went up the chimney and caught it on fire. The fire department was able to put it out, but not without major damage to the fireplace, which was our main source of heat because our boiler fell apart, literally.

So the fire department condemned our home and we had to find a new place to live. We took the last of the money we had, rented a truck, and moved back to Cleveland. We couldn't fit everything in the truck, but we owned the house and we knew we could come back and at least sell off what was left behind. It was a lot.

We couldn't get back for about 2 months and this is what we found. Windows and doors broken out and boarded up. Holes in walls, most furniture and any valuables stolen or vandalized.  Even the new ovens were broken. I would have rather they had stolen them. And the police who knew we had been evicted and said they would watch the house? They were looking to prosecute for abandonment of property.

So we left almost everything behind except for a few things that we could fit in the car and went back to our tiny cottage near Cleveland.

Things were OK for a while and then Etsy decided that Poppy needed to be punished and closed all of her shops. They refused to negotiate and finally to communicate. Poppy was the main bread winner in the family, so it was quite painful. Especially after all the work she put into her shops and all the support she had given to Etsy over the years.

It was right after Halloween, fortunately, because that is her busiest season of the year. They shut down my shop also that had a link to hers. We had started it together, but it had long since been only mine. The girl can only do so much. The reason they gave for shutting her shops? She had been flagged too many times for copyright violations. She sells legal reconstructions under the First Sale Doctrine, while others on Etsy sell actual violating copies and go untouched. They wouldn't listen.

I was able to pick up a lot of Holiday sales. So I was able to cover expenses for the next few months. Right before Christmas I got a call from my son saying his doctor told him he needed heart surgery immediately or he would die in a few months. He had a corrected congenital heart defect, and valve replacement only lasts 15 to 20 years. I spent every last penny I had getting him to the Cleveland Clinic for evaluation. With the extra mouth in the house, I even had to go to the local food pantry, which I HATE to do.

My son's Doctor in North Dakota was a little over cautious. My son definitely needs surgery, but it isn't an emergency yet. The Cleveland Clinic put him on some medication and his condition will hold until he can get on disability. He was told that he will have to have several more operations over the course of his lifetime. He did have 2 valves replaced when he was 19. He's back in North Dakota waiting for word from the Govt.

And then last Friday, Etsy deactivated my shops. I didn't make as much as Poppy, but it was pretty much all I made. They claim they tried to contact me, but they were never quite able to reach me until the day they deactivated my account. I got an email from them that day. Still trying to work with them, but I hold little hope, after all the stories I have heard.

This has been quite a year for us. I am certainly hoping that the smoke will clear and we will be able to see sunshine after the Fire soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine Surprise - Soul Mates

I've had a bad weekend. Some of my readers know why, but I won't go into it here. So feeling down in the dumps and restless I wake at 4:30 am. I open all of my social networks and there to my surprise is an engagement announce from one of my friends. My heart was about to burst with joy.

Now this is no ordinary engagement, you see the Bride to be is a citizen of and living in China, and the Groom to be lives in New York.

Joel and I traveled together to China on business often. On one of our trips, one of the engineers couldn't keep her eyes off of him and I noticed that he was attracted to her too. When we came back to the US he spoke about her and I encouraged him, saying she didn't stop smiling at him the whole time and I was sure she liked him too. The next trip to China, he got together with her and it was magic.

There were a lot of bumps in the road for them. They were half a world apart, but they kept their relationship going via internet for a very long time. Then they decided to end it, because it was so hard. Joel's boss refused to send him back to China in hopes of interfering with the relationship, because that's just the kind of guy he is.

But Soul Mates can't be separated, by Oceans, or Continents, or cruel employers.

Congratulations Joel and Bo and Happy Valentines Day to all of you Soul Mates out there!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Robins Are Here

The robins are here and they are in my yard. I took a picture, they were very cooperative.

When I showed this picture to little Harper, he thought it was apples in the trees. No Harper, those are all male robins. Those are just the ones waiting, on the ground, eating berries off another tree, there are many many more.

I'm not sure what this means. This is my first year at this house, so maybe they come to that tree every year. But it seems like every robin from the entire county is here. It is spectacular. Click to enlarge.

I certainly hope it is a sign of early spring and good things to come, and not the Apocalypse.

Update to Yesterdays Treasury Making Tip

Please note that when making a Treasury as "only you" as suggested yesterday. If you just make that Treasury active, it will have a time stamp from the time you hit save. The best chance you have of getting top views and on page one is to keep it on "only you" and make a new Treasury using the links, just like you did on Poster Sketch.

See the comment left by Waterrose.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is Your Head Spinning From all the Changes at Etsy?

Change is good.

I don't know about you, but my head is spinning with all the new changes at Etsy. Here are a few changes and how you can "adjust"

FORUMS -  Forums are now in Teams. How do you find a team that's right for you? You have to spend days wading through all the teams that have been set up now, like Mom's Basement, Team Bacon, or My Cat Controls Me or maybe you can just go to Team Finder to help you find teams.

WHERE ARE ETSY ANNOUNCEMENTS? they are now in the Team Announcements. Look, they've even announced that they are making free shipping codes. Guess thy realized that they get more money if you give away free shipping than if you give a discount an merchandise. They're might be a little slow sometimes, but they're not dumb.

POSTER SKETCH - Crud, now how am I supposed to make my Treasuries ahead of time. Just click Privacy "only you" instead of for "everyone" at the top of the page. Save if you have to leave. When you come back click edit. When you're ready to share, select "everyone" and save. Voila! A little getting used to, but when hasn't Etsy been a little getting used to.


TREASURY - Well, it's just that that new page is hard to get used to. And WHERE is my big create a list button. Darn, now I have to make the first 4 images look so good that people will want to click on them. Come on guys, make the WHOLE treasury look good will ya? If you want to get on the Front Page you need to make consistently lovely treasuries anyhow. But then again, will treasuries be on the Front Page when Etsy makes their new FP format? Coming Soon!

And those are just a few of the recent changes. Etsy could keep me in new posting tips for quite a while I think. Next Week? Who knows?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Necessity - The Mother of Invention

You know the saying, well it is true.

I use acrylic raspberry beads for some of the flowers I make. I like to buy them bulk, a gross at a time, because these are often used for wedding flowers. The problem is, that I can only get certain colors from US suppliers. I've been hunting down a peach bead, and finally found them in China.

I've worked in China and I know how things are during the New Year Holiday. Factories and Offices are closed for nearly 3 weeks. That and the fact that it can take up to a month to get shipment set my mind to thinking. Maybe I could tint the White beads I already had.

I was doing the Watercolor process I use on my flowers that I developed because of color limits. I already had a batch of Peach paint. I thinned it a bit with water and dipped the beads in. I use indoor outdoor acrylic, so it's very durable and a bit translucent. I was worried that the paint would cover the Aurora Borealis iridescent finish, but I thought that the paint might just cling to the inside and I could wipe the outside to bring out the "shine". I didn't have to. They came out so beautiful. They are also kind of shaded and more organic looking. I love them so much I will probably only buy white beads and tint them from now on.

I guess the point is, if you don't have what you want or need, think of some way to create it yourself. Don't be afraid to experiment, because you could be pleasantly surprised and after all, what do you have to lose?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank You Gifts

Do you give a little Thank you with every purchase? It's such a nice idea. I'm never really sure what to give. I have an Apron shop, but to give away something sewn is a lot of work for a small thank you. To make a piece of Jewelry for my jewelry shop is a bit much too.

I see some sellers give pieces of candy, that's nice, but not everyone eats candy. I used to give those magnetic business cards, but I never really felt comfortable with people wanting to put a magnetic version of my business card on their refrigerator. Not so pretty.

Thanks to a team members suggestion, I finally got a great idea. There's that team thing again. I can't begin to stress how helpful they can be. I decided to make a nice magnet with a nice saying, instead of just my business card. I have a few of my flowers from my jewelry, a saying that relates to my product and my web address subtly added to the bottom. Voila! something my buyer might want to keep. I got them made at Vista Print for a reasonable price too.

I searched around for something nice and inexpensive for my Apron shop too. I decided to get printed pencils made with my web address. Cute, practical and purchased from Oriental Trading at about $.25 each. They printed and shipped in ONE DAY! Now I am all set to give nice little Thank Yous.

Handmade Thank Yous are very nice. I like the tiny refrigerator magnets, or make up samples. But when that is not practical for your shop, consider a nice alternative.
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