Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Directions

I've found a new love: deviantArt. The place is as addicting as Elfwood and Etsy were when I first found them. I've actually been there for 9 months now but haven't played with it much or posted much, till now. Check out my spot and friend me over there if you're a deviant.

As of February, I've hired two people, my son Brandon and Aaron from the local school's work program. Here's the plan: increase online presence, build stock for shows, revamp website, and refocus. My "mainstream" stuff (wire wrapping and simple chainmaille) is selling really well at Fragrant Mushroom Gallery and I'm thrilled - and it's also kept me busy enough that I've neglected my Etsy shop somewhat, and even sold a bunch of stuff I never got the chance to photograph (not a bad problem to have!).

But what I'd like to do this year is create more "geek chic" - Renaissance Faire items like the circlet above, hackey sacks, dice bags, keychains made from gaming dice, ear cuffs, etc. And I'd like to try to reach more niche markets like gaming cons, faerie cons, comic cons, anime cons, Renaissance faires, and the like. My stuff doesn't sell all that great at local craft fairs, partly because they're positively saturated with jewelry, but I want to try some new things this year, new designs. A new feel. And three heads are better than one. Second Renaissance will be more mainstream (and stuff will be listed, I've seriously neglected it because all the stock in it sold at the gallery!) but You've Got Maille is going hip. Oh and there should be a ton of new stuff in the Artfire shop very soon.

And, as always, I can't help myself experimenting with new media. I'm going to try some henna art/mehndi, some macrame, some wire sculpture, and when I can afford to, precious metal clay. Aaron does some leatherworking so there may be some maille/leather collaborations in my shop in the near future. So the short of it is, stay tuned to this spot for updates and news!

Here's a formal request for six more hours in a day, please, or at least a way to eliminate the need for sleep!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Artfire is Doing Right

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

I wasn't getting much out of my $7 a month at Artfire, back when I had an account for $7 a month. It's up to $12 now, and I'm seriously thinking of going back and putting more effort into my Artfire account as a Verified Seller. Here's why.

1) I love that I can customize my shop. But that's really kind of an aesthetic thing. I'm cruising around, though, and there's a blog available here, a detailed bio section... heck this could almost be my website. If I type a link in at Etsy, it's dead and the linkee has to paste it into a browser. That's lame, Etsy. Artfire even lets me link to my Etsy shop, if I want to.

2) Google Analytics isn't that difficult at Etsy, but it's a BREEZE at Artfire. You can click on your item in "My Studio Stats" and see exactly what search was typed in at Google, and exactly where your traffic is coming from, with no visit to Google Analytics' somewhat confusing site. I LOVE this. Why is this awesome? If you know what tags are bringing people to your shop, you can hone them to bring more traffic. If you know you have a lot of people coming from Twitter or your blog, you can put more effort into Twitter or your blog.

3) Oh my god, the help guides section! Okay, I don't have to be a paid user to use these, but I'm in love with the fact that there is SO much helpful information on marketing right there in that left column. You really need to go check them out if you sell online. I particularly recommend the Social Bookmarking guide and the Social Networking guide. It breaks down terms like SEO and really helps you figure out your strategy.

4) I'm starting to hear that some of my co-crafters are selling better there than they are on Etsy. That means that the traffic I wasn't getting over there, the reason I abandoned my paid account, is starting to show up. To be fair, I wasn't putting much into my Artfire shop then, so that had to have had a lot to do with it.

5) If I can get my production up, and I list 60 items a month, this account has already paid for itself in 20 cent Etsy listing fees, with no sales. No listing fees, no percentages of your sales going to anyone. Just you. Are you giving Etsy or eBay $12 a month?

6) Rapid cart makes it really easy and handy to sell on your own website or blog with hardly any fuss on the part of the buyer.

7) If I refer 10 people for paid accounts, my $12 monthly fee vanishes, and I am selling for absolutely free.

Which, of course, brings me to the plug: if you're NOT selling on Artfire, try it out with me by clicking the little picture at the top of this post, then get your friends to sign up so you can get it for free too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Internet Marketing Tips Survey

I'm doing an Internet Marketing for Crafters class at the local gallery, and I'm putting the call out to you, internet marketing crafters: I need ideas and tips on what's been the most effective marketing strategies. Fill out the survey HERE. If your survey is chosen as the most helpful you'll win a $25 gift card of your choice (just think... Olive Garden... Fire Mountain Gems... whatever you want).

As a secondary drawing I'm giving away a $20 gift certificate for my own shop, or custom work commissioned from me, for either blogging, tweeting, a mention in facebook or anywhere else, about the survey. For each of the above that you do, come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment for each (once if you tweet, once if you blog, etc.). I'll then do a random drawing from the comments here, so multiples will increase your chances. Check my shop for the goods, or Flickr for an idea of some of the custom work I can do. Please link to this blog post in your notifications, not to the survey itself.

Your deadline: January 23rd. Go to it! Thanks guys!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Classes this month

This month we'll be making a choker similar to this one in my "Chainmaille for Beginners" class at Fragrant Mushroom Gallery, 12 W Bockman Way, Sparta TN. Besides this, we'll be doing a variety of projects in a variety of weaves that cover the basics of chainmaille. I don't have an exact starting date but it will likely be Saturday mornings beginning toward the end of January (23rd or 30th). The class will be appropriate for ages 12 and up (adults will enjoy it too). The projects will be specific but there will be lots of options for customizing them the way you want them and suggestions for taking the weave a step further to make other things with it. Materials included in the fee, and you can sign up for one class or for all six weeks at a discount. If you're interested call Cherri at the Fragrant Mushroom at 866-836-8190 to sign up.

I'm also doing Internet Marketing for Crafters on Saturdays, after the maille class. This isn't an HTML class (since I know only pretty rudimentary web coding, and technology moves way faster than I can keep up with). Rather, we'll be discussing techniques for getting your work (whatever it is) seen on the web, basic photography on a budget, and selling through marketing sites like Etsy, or your own website. This is also a six-week class.

Stay tuned for pictures of all the projects and more info.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year's Kiss

Autumn Kiss Papercut by TinaTarnoff on Etsy
(which, by the way, is available as a pendant or greeting card, check out her awesome shop)

There are different types of New Year's Kisses. There are those "Hell I Just Need Someone to Kiss on New Year's" kisses, those "It's So Good To Finally Have Someone To Kiss" kisses. There are those passionate kisses of new relationships. And my favorite... this one has more to it than any other, "Thanks for hanging in there with me for another year and making it better than it would've been without you. Looking forward to this one and many more."

Which is what I got at the stroke of midnight (ok I think we were a little late) last night. Russ and I have had a really wonderful year, amidst most of my friends and family saying it was really a horrible one. But it's nice to know, good years and bad, he'll be there.

Happy New Year to my honey, and to everyone else: may this year be as good for you as the last one was for us. Or at the very least, a little better than last year.