The internet is a wonderful place for those that embrace change.  I embrace change so well I’m afraid I squeeze it a bit too tight.  I’m  never happy to sit still with one sales venue.  I explore and keep looking for the next great thing.   I have stumbled on a new one that just might be it. 

Artfire is a site similar to Etsy.  They have a front page showcase of products that is constantly updated as new items are listed.  Sellers have studios where all their products are listed in categories.   Listing is a one page deal and much easier to use than many sites I have encountered.  Probably the single most important item for me is the seller statistics.  I love being able to track views and where they came from. 

Being brand new, Artfire still has plenty of bugs to work out.  The search continues to improve daily and you can express your ideas and concerns on their forum.  Part of me is rather excited to be watching the site develop and grow.  The neat thing is you can sign up now wrenches and all, for a flat rate of $7 a month for the life of the site.  I spend that just listing on Etsy in a week.  I’m willing to take a chance signing up early will pay off.  After the first 5,000 sellers sign up the deal goes away.

Now Etsy has been very good to me and I won’t be leaving anytime soon.  But I’m a firm believer in keeping all my options open and exploring new things.  Interested?  You can sign up here.

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I’m feeling rather proud of myself this morning.  I’ve been quoted and blogged!

I belong to a group of Etsy sellers called Etsy Glass Artists.  I recently challenged members to improve their product shots right along with me.  Many were doing a fantastic job, and some found they were no longer happy with what they had been doing.  Once we got the discussion rollling, we found great ideas jumped out at us.

One of my best idea bouncing buddies  Leah Pelligrini blogged about her journey.  Click on ME to read my quote worthy advice.

That’s a little twilight zone music for you.  I realize it is hard to hear me, but things are strange in my little world. 

Last week I thought about teaching again.  Within days of pondering how to get my certificate to teach art I heard about an opening to teach a beginning lampwork class.  Cool.

Last week I checked my numbers on Etsy and thought..  I want to get 500 hearts.  (Etsy hearts are a tally of who clicks to say they like you as a seller)  I was at 400.  Today I’m at 512. 

 I also thought, it would be great to hit the front page on Etsy.  Guess what?  You guessed it, on Sunday one of my bead strands was on the front page and I got 700 or so views.  (This explains how my hearts skyrocketed too)

It get’s better.  Today at lunch time I thought, I want to get to the point where my sales and items for sale are even.  In a matter of hours I had sold another 5 items to make it 71 for sale and 71 sold….  weird!

And one more…  I was thinking about a package that never arrived last Fall.  Delivery confirmation said it came to Exeter, but I never saw it.  This afternoon the sender called me to say the package was returned to her.  Months later! 

Something.   Is.   Listening.  To.   My.  Thoughts.

Hear this please:  That lottery ticket I made my husband purchase yesterday?  Please, could we win? 

Hey, if I become a millionare, you’ll have heard it here first.  Have a lucky day!

I have a love hate relationship with my bead pictures.  On the one hand, I feel a sense of pride when I look at a beautiful representation of my work.  On the other, pure angst when I can’t get them right.

There are many factors to getting a good bead picture.  Over the past 4 years I have come to learn the best lighting and set up.  I use white matt board, white foam core “walls” for bounce to fill in my shadows and natural outdoor light.  I know I have to take at least 3 shots of each bead pose.  My usual session is about 200 pictures.

Unfortunately, outdoors in New Hampshire means cold temperatures for a good part of the year.  Imagine me taking 15 or so shots of each bead strand with my bare hands, wind whipping my set up and the cold creeping up my body, because I’m on my hands and knees. Yah, I’m not having fun.

Often I get inside, download the pictures and find one or two that require a retake.  On a bad day, they are all bad and I want to pull my hair out trying to make things right with photoshop.  There is a lot of truth in the saying, “Photoshop can’t fix a bad picture, but it can make a good one great.” 

Ah, but then there are the good days.  The light is just right.  Not too much sun, not too dark, no bugs landing on the background, no dust coming from thin air; these are the days I just know I don’t need three shots of each pose.  Oh, I still take them.  But editing will be a snap.  As each bead talks to me from in front of the lense I can feel it.

Does my customer even notice?  Heck if I know.  It is my not so silent struggle to listen to the beads and let them talk to you. When they do, I’m having a great day.

The internet has really helped many of us sell our hand crafted work.  No matter where you live, chances are you can sell in a global marketplace.  Pretty neat when you think about it.  Because for years the saying “Location, location, location” was everything when it came to a successful storefront business. 

Now that the ability to access prime location is not a huge hurdle, other things become issues.  How do I get people to see my auctions and my site?  I can’t see those buyers walking down the street, but I know they are out there wandering the internet. 

But when should one list? I think each seller has a theory and it is the topic for Flaming Hot’s blog it this week.  When is the best time to list auctions in order to maximize views? 

When I first started selling I was convinced I needed to be as regular as clockwork.  I created a must follow schedule of listing Tuesdays and Thursdays; day slots for justbeads and night slots for ebay.  If I had extra sets I would add another weekday or weeknight auction. 

A year or so later I added a newsletter to my marketing efforts.  I began to sell from my site and announce new strands.  I was again convinced I needed a strict schedule of every week.  I think you are beginning to see where this is going, right? 

Even more recently I added Etsy to my auction sales sites.  Over there the suggestion is to list as often as possible one auction at a time.  What?!  any old time?  Oh my, but what about a schedule?  Within days I was enjoying just listing willy nilly.  How completely free-spirited and wild I felt.  I was so liberated I sent my newsletter out on a completely random day.  Crazy, I know.  I put up a couple Saturday auctions on one of the sites.  What was I thinking? 

Now before you get too worried, I still have to fill my Tuesday and Thursday slots to maintain a tiny slice of order.  But don’t be surprised to see other auctions listed on any old day of the week.  And my newsletter?  I just might surprise you with a 2am version.    My new motto is location, location, and list any darn time you want.  

I sit looking at my pile of fresh clean beads.  My weekly haul of sets to be strung, photographed and listed at various places.  I have such high hopes of using each and every bead.  It never happens.  Sure, some deserve to never see the flash of a camera and go into the boo boo bag I give away with sold sets.  I have come to terms with those and sort them out without angst.

  

My real trouble is symmetry.  I long for a pretty looking set which lies nicely and evenly for the camera.  When I have a focal and six medium sized beads, I can string them with the focal standing proudly, flanked on either side by three companions.  If I have a set of all the same sized bead, I can easily string up five, six, seven or eight.  But, when I have focal and five medium beads I’m in trouble.  How do I string them?  Two on one side and three on the other of a focal looks so wrong.  One big focal and five following is wrong too.  It’s a dilemma.  Yes, I know, just pull one to give away.  This is ultimately what I do, but not happily.  A perfectly good bead so happy with its family and I uproot it all in the name of symmetry.

  

Do you know I even have to have the perfect number of spacers to put in these strands?  Crazy, isn’t it?  One little extra spacer just gets thrown in a jelly jar never to find joy in a piece made with its siblings.  An orphan in a container reduced to being pawed over time and again at some show until, it is finally sold off for a mere quarter.

  I wish I could present asymmetrical strands and feel proud.  The idea appeals to my sense of productivity.  But my need for order in a studio full of chaos prevails every time.