Thursday, March 19, 2009
There's something VERY scary to an etsy seller about putting his/her store on vacation.
Doing so means that none of my cards are available online.
I will see an immediate, precipitous dip in traffic to my site and blog. People who follow a link and find that there is nothing in my store may never return.
Sales, of course, will immediately cease.
People will stop convo'ing (contacting) me.
I'll stop making money. Period.
So one doesn't put one's etsy store on vacation mode lightly. You have to REALLY want vacation.
Clearly, I REALLY want vacation. I finally put my store on vacation mode yesterday and immediately breathed a sigh of relief.
Today, I'm downright giddy!
I no longer have to worry about any last minute orders to stress over. (I actually have one last order to fulfull: for a woman who is having an Alice in Wonderland-themed party for her little girl in South Africa -- she's actually spending far more ($170!) on the shipping than she is on the actual cards! It will be nice to get this last order finished up.)
And once it's all done.... I am free for a whole week to design, catch up on inventory or... if I so choose.... do absolutely nothing at all....
(we'll see how quickly it takes for boredom to set in, though -- I'm not very good about sitting still)
One thing I'm really excited about is having all this free time to try out some of the lovely scanned artwork I won at our school's auction from Piddix. I took some of the Alice in Wonderland artwork and created a BEAUTIFUL set of notecards simply by printing them on white cardstock. Photos will come.... because they're so simple, they will be inexpensive sets that people can buy.... (hate to come off like a paid ad for Piddix -- honestly, I don't even know her except for her nice email responses to me, but I am excited about her images!)
Okay! For the last two nights I've been unable to access the www.etsy.com website!
If you knew me at all, you would know that this is a serious issue. Besides email, etsy is the one site that I visit most often, to check my listings, read convos (emails from other members), check up on the competition, etc.
I'm an internet professional -- more on the design end than the technical side of things -- so I'm not a total novice. I did everything you're supposed to do: I cleared my cache. No dice. I tried to get to it using an other browser, but I had the same results (this webpage is not available) using chrome, explorer or firefox. I checked out the etsy technical issues blog and found no records of any maintenance that would cause any problems.
I checked with a friend to see if she were having problems and, no. The problem seemed limited to only me. And only etsy (I had no problems getting to any other sites that I visited).
Finally, I went to Comcast, my internet service provider, for help. To my surprise, after posting a note describing the problem to their discussion boards, two technicians jumped in to help. They had me run various tests to rule out some common problems. In the end, one of them had me "post a trace" to etsy's site (he gave me step by step instructions, which was nice) and send me the results, which basically showed that my computer was attempting to get to the site, but it was timing out.
My Comcast guys are escalating the issue with the Comcast staff and advised me to send a note to etsy's hosting company with the results of the traces that we ran.
Hopefully between the two of them, we can get this fixed!
This is a boring blog post, but, of course, these problems are uppermost in my mind right now... I feel very nervous not being able to make any updates to my site!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Last Saturday was our school's auction to benefit our foundation. I had put myself in charge of soliciting donations from etsy crafters.
I won two etsy items in the silent auction:
One of them was from piddix, who is a purveyor of digital, public-domain artwork. She offered a $30 gift certificate of her digital collage sheets. She has a wide selection of beautifully scanned artwork, from vintage Alice in Wonderland artwork (some of which she actually received permission for and scanned from first edition books!) to old french postcards, to images of birds, shells, cute valentines... it runs the gamut! When I told her that I had outbid all others to get her digital artwork, she generously asked me to pick out fifteen sheets.
I have to admit, initially the idea of picking out fifteen sheets from her collection was daunting, but as I went through page after page of gorgeous artwork, the task became more a matter of whittling my long list DOWN to only fifteen.
I finally did and sent her my dream list earlier tonight. I should have them tomorrow (her site indicates that the sheets will be emailed within 24 hours of ordering). Can't wait! You might see some vintage flavor to my upcoming card designs soon....
The other wonderful item I won were thumbhole warmers from Treehouse23. She had generously sent a set of six of these wonderful arm warmers in various lovely shades. They are valued at $18 each, so I'm glad that the auction gals broke them into individual sets. Bidding was fast and furious for all the arm warmers, especially the black set. I had bids on most of the colors at one time and, happily, ended up with some lovely purple ones. They're so lovely on! I feel quite elegant and, strangely, medieval. The boys tried them on and were instantly transformed into super heroes -- apparently you can fend off bullets when you're wearing them. We should have put that in the descriptions at the silent auction...
Anyway, they're lovely.
I love my auction purchases!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sometimes I look at my Paypal balance and realize that I've been working at this for months with little, monetarily to show for it, but then I get a convo from a happy customer like this:
"molly- i have to tell you that people are going wild- crazy over the invites- and each time they call i give you oodles of credit"
This was from a mom who ordered the circus invitations -- great customer! And hearing that she's passing along my information to other people is great to hear. I've been at it less than a year and I've already had one mom come to me after receiving one of my invitations to another child's party... it just shows how important it is to have my information printed on the back of every card.
I love etsy's feedback system -- it's great to see what people are saying about my cards (and also really wonderful that others can see this as well).
Here's a glowing one:
"I was in search of the most unique birthday invitation for my son and Molly was the answer. She created the most "ONE OF A KIND" invitations for my son and when my son saw the invitations he was literally jumping up and down with excitement! I highly recommend Molly to have her create that magical card for all your special occasions. She is a pure pleasure to work with! The entire process was simple and easy and I received the invitations within a week. You cannot beat this process anywhere for HANDMADE invitations!
Thanks again Molly for bringing that HUGE smile on my son's face - it was absolutely priceless!
Your number one fan!
Anyway, getting feedback like this can keep me going for DAYS....
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tonight's the night of our annual Glencoe Elementary School Foundation Auction. It's our biggest fundraiser, an event that should raise most of the money we need in order to fund things like our school librarian, technology support, afterschool sports, and other essential things that have been, over time, snipped out of our school budget.
A few months ago, I was contacted on etsy by a woman who was asking for donations to her local school auction, something that I readily consented to. Her query gave me the impetus to do something very similar for our own auction. After all, I had been more than happy to help out her fundraiser by sending her a few items from my inventory.
I was amazed at the response I got. Not only were some people willing to share their creative genius with us, to benefit our school, some people were downright excited to do so! (I had mentioned that I would do my best to get them visibility for their work and to encourage people to visit their sites)
There are some big-hearted crafters out there!
Here is a list of the people who ended up contributing to our foundation:
Friday, March 6, 2009
Occasionally I get asked about the tools and materials I use, so I thought it might be helpful to post them, if anyone's interested in doing some of what I do.
- Paper. The cardstock I use for most of my projects is made by Wassau. It is 140 lb. Exact Index, index with a smooth finish (the smooth finish is really important. I had purchased a ream of bristol cardstock once and was not happy with how rough it felt).
I used to spend a little extra for 100% post-consumer waste recycled cardstock, but when the price of that went up to $24 a ream (and I was starting to seriously burn through reams) I just couldn't justify the added expense. This Wassau paper is certified 30% post-consumer waste (and, of course, I'm diligent about recycling all my own waste). I just bought a case from a local paper store.
- Glue. I have tried a LOT of different kinds of adhesives: glue sticks, liquid glues, glue dots, sprays and verious brands of all listed.
The one adhesive that I have found to be totally reliable for the type of paper work I do is Tombow Mono Adhesive (shown above). It comes with a rolling applicator that, basically, deposits a snail trail of adhesive (like double-stick tape, but without the tape part in the middle) where you roll it. It can go round curves pretty well.
The downsides: as the roll gets used up, it occasionally sticks a bit and gets a little harder to dispense.
I do like that you can buy the refills separately and save the rest of the applicator, thus consigning just a little less plastic to the landfills. I recently felt confident enough about this type of glue to order 20 refills from Discount Office Supplies, which, true to their name, things really were pretty cheap.
I go through a couple of refills a week.
- My Craft Robo, blogged about in a previous post. (I LOVE my robo and couldn't produce in quantity without it).
- Bone folder. Look this up if you don't know what it is. It's essential to getting a crisp, sharp fold. Yes, you can use a pen or something similar, but nothing beats a good bone folder.
- Adobe Illustrator. Wonderful piece of design software. There's a bit of a learning curve (but Adobe does offer a nice array of online video tutorials to learn from), but it is an amazing tool.
- Adobe Photoshop. While most of my work is done with Illustrator, I'll occasionally need to edit some bitmaps (photographs), in which case, Photoshop is essential.
- Artwork. I buy a lot of artwork to use on my cards at iStockphoto.com. They have a nice selection. I'm not an illustrator and using professional-quality artwork makes all the difference in the world in how a piece looks.
- Exacto-knife blades. Need a lot of them to finish off what the robo doesn't cut.
- Envelopes. Love this vendor: http://www.envelopemall.com/. They have a nice selection and the stuff gets delivered pretty quick.
- A good printer. I'm not naming my printer as it doesn't work as well as I'd like it to.
- Inspiration. I read a LOT of books about paper-crafting. looking for interesting new mechanisms. There are a few blogs I follow that teach some techniques. And I just am always looking, looking, looking at how things fit together and how that might be used in a card. It helps to be a bit obsessive about mechanical cards, because you see a lot of inspiration in strange places.
- Miscellaneous. I occasionally buy nice, colored card stock. I use a lot of mini-brads and those 3-d dots that make parts of your cards stand out.
So, that's it! Get all of that and you, too, can become completely obsessed with papercraft and try to make a few bucks off of something like etsy!
Good luck! It's fun!