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30 September

30 September - How to Spring Clean Your Website/Etsy Shop

Another good post here today by Jess Van Den ~ Create & Thrive

Use this for your website if you have one, or your Etsy shop. Get it ready now for the holiday season.

createandthrive.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=dcb59e0be79255d4...

Here's a brief resume, but you can join the free course or get the podcast (I like podcasts because I can listen to them while I work) via the link above.

There are free worksheets included too.

* * * * *

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

Check to see if anything is broken
Are you on the latest website version?
Are there any links that are no longer working?
Take a look at your contact page
Make sure all information is up to date.
Consider inserting a contact form – though always ensure your email address is visible.
Update your about page
Are your photos up to date?
Is there any new content you can add?
Is your story up to date?
‘Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Does it appeal to you? Does it interest you? Does it draw you in?’ {Jess}
Make sure your avatar is up to date across all platforms.
Take a look at your blog
When did you last publish a blog post? Is it time for a new one?
If you can’t post regularly it might be a good idea to remove date stamps from your posts.
Spring clean your products
‘Remove the products that aren’t selling or that are not on brand’ {Jess}
Removing products can be scary but there comes a point you need to bite the bullet.
Make sure your items all work together and your branding is on par with professional brands.
Switch up your photos
Try switching main photos. Play around with them and see what happens.
Are your photos up to scratch? It might be time for some new ones.
Look at your product titles
Are they logical? Do they use keywords? Are they searchable?
Freshen them up and switch things around a bit especially for items that aren’t selling well.
Look at your descriptions for outdated information
Sometimes old info slips through the cracks so it is important to thoroughly check for this.
Make sure there are no old links.
Address your front page
Decide if your front page is still the right page for your business.
Look at your branding and banner top make sure they are relevant and up to date.
.


29 Sept - You need to stop doing these 5 things, right now.

Good post here today by Jess Van Den ~ Create & Thrive


(I couldn't get the link to work so I've copied here for you so that you can read it direct. Jess sends out good newsletters too if you want to sign up at : createandthrive.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=dcb59e0be79255d44...)



Over the last few years, I’ve taught, talked with, and watched many hundreds (perhaps even thousands!) of people who have the shared dream of turning their handmade hobby into a thriving business.
Unsurprisingly, they all share many positive things in common.

A passion for making something. A love of being creative. A drive to evolve. The desire to make real dollars from their craft.

All of those things are vital if you want to reach your goal.
That being said, I’ve also noticed commonalities in those who are struggling to move forward.

These are the people who dream the dream, but just can’t seem to turn it into a reality.

Sometimes, there are outside factors that hold us back, for sure.

But very often, these people are actually getting in their own way. They’re holding themselves back, or sabotaging their own success – and they might not even realise it.


Today, I want to share 5 ways I see these people sabotaging themselves – because becoming aware of the issue is the first step towards moving beyond it.


1. Giving up too soon

Let’s just get this out of the way straight up. If you’re starting a handmade business expecting to be making a 6 figure profit in the first year – or even 2-3 years – please don’t bother.

Even those people who seem to be an ‘overnight success’ usually have many years of experience behind them – whether that’s years of doing their craft professionally (like an illustrator) or as a hobby.

Unless you are in the infinitesimal minority who have an absolutely brilliant, unique idea, AND know how to run a brilliant marketing/advertising campaign to get your brand off the ground, it is very likely going to take YEARS before you’re making really decent money from your handmade business.

YEARS.

Obviously this will vary on umpteen factors, such as your cost of materials (for me, silver is pretty expensive and eats into my profits, but if you’re a graphic designer, you’ve probably got all the tools you already need, and you don’t buy ‘materials’ as such), the time you have to devote to your business, whether you have another job, and so on.

Too many times to count have I seen someone open an Etsy shop, chuck in 10 or so badly-lit, badly-photographed items, and then throw their hands in the air after a month because ‘they’re not making any sales’.

Of course you aren’t. You’re competing against other makers who have been not only honing their craft for years – they’ve been honing their branding, photography, marketing, etc.

You need to up your game.

Not only that – you need to go into this thing with patience and dedication.

If you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t start.


2. Focusing on the negative

The perfect place to see this in action is on the Etsy forums.

There is some great advice in there, but it’s more often than not buried amongst the masses who are moaning about some change Etsy has made that’s apparently caused their sales to suddenly cease. Well, honestly, I haven’t been in there for years apart from the very occasional and quick dip in, so maybe things have changed… but I’m guessing not. (Also, just a case in point – I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2008, and not once has a change they’ve made so far had any real noticeable impact on my sales. You know what has? Me – working on my photography, titles, tags, descriptions, marketing and customer service.)

This is just one example of how people are sabotaging themselves by focusing on the negative.

If you catch yourself doing this – stop.

No-one is responsible for the success or failure of your business but YOU.

Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop obsessing over your competitors, stop focusing on the negatives, and start focusing on the positives.

If you stumble across a product that looks suspiciously like yours… click away and forget about it – after all, how do you know you came up with the idea first? (Exact copies of art and photography obviously exempted here.)

If your venue makes a change you’re not happy with (for example, I disliked that Etsy moved from a 3-choice rating system to a 5-star system, but I never once thought of leaving) – either stick with it and see how it affects your business in the long term, or start building your own shop on your own dot com.

Don’t focus on the sales you don’t get – focus on making the customer experience for the sales you DO get absolutely fricking amazing so your customer raves to all their friends about how amazing you are and how gorgeous your product is.

Focus on how you can grow your business in the right direction. See every challenge as a way to grow and evolve.


3. Split focus

I’ve made this mistake myself – starting too many new things at once, and not being able to give any of them the attention they truly deserve because I’ve spread myself too thin.

It’s an oh-so-common pitfall amongst creative types, because we have so many ideas, and we get bored easily.

So, instead of starting that yoga clothing business… we start that, and a dog-walking business, and a web-design business, and maybe work as a barista on the side.

Which is, no doubt, fun and challenging… but there’s no way we’re going to give each and every one of those ventures the time and attention they need to grow truly successful if we’re trying to do them all at once.

Sales follow your focus.

That’s not to say you can’t do them all – just do them sequentially rather than simultaneously.

Give yourself a timeframe to focus on one only (say, 12-18 months) before you’re allowed to start a new venture.

Nick banned me from starting anything new back in 2014, because of my habit of doing this very thing. (I jest… sort of… I banned myself, too).

Make sure, however, you’re not falling into the ‘giving up too soon’ trap I discussed earlier.

Give it true, 200% effort in the time you devote to getting a new business up and running.


4. Too much ‘research’ not enough action

How long have you been 'just learning' about how to do what you want to do?

Are you that person who has all the theoretical knowledge… but are yet to do anything about it?

You know I am a HUGE proponent of consistent investment in your own education – both personal and professional. I teach courses, I write ebooks.

That said… there is definitely such a thing as too much research.

There comes a point where you just have to take the leap.
Stop planning and start doing.

Yes, you will fail and fall down.

Yes, you’ll make an embarrassing mistake (or 20).

Yes, you’ll undercharge on postage at least once. Badly.

But until you actually step into the arena and start failing and succeeding, you’ll never make real progress.


5. Waiting for perfection

This is closely linked to number 4. Too often, people hang back from taking action because of fear.

They’re afraid of not being perfect. Of not having a perfect product, or perfect packaging, or perfect photography.
Nothing is ever perfect.

Get it to the stage of ‘pretty darn awesome’ and get it out into the world.

You can evolve. You can work on it, you can make it better.
Don’t hide your light from the world – let it shine.


Now it’s over to you – do you recognise any of these traits in yourself?

If so - what are you going to do about it?


Jess x

11 September - Rain

10 September - Ireland’s Treasures: Blue Ceramics, Succulents and Killiney Beach Stones by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Still Life with Blue Ceramics, Succulent, and Irish Killiney Beach Stones, by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Blue ceramics are a thing in Ireland. Ireland’s garden centers sell small and large, deep blue glazed pottery. Together with cacti, succulent plants and Killiney’s beach stones, they make lovely miniature rock or Zen gardens.

Killiney beach, located near Ireland’s capital Dublin, has a cobble stone beach. This beach is a delight for stone collectors. Killiney beach has some of the oldest rocks in Ireland: large boulders of Leinster granite and limestone are strewn across the beach. Small pebbles of a distinctive micro-granite from Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde can also be found. No wonder I bring back home a good few of these stones and show these beautifully decorative pebbles in my still lifes.

There is something special about combining blue ceramics, that represent the bluish ethereal colours of Ireland’s coastal areas, with the dull but decorative grey stones, and the slow living succulents and cacti. The stones are very old, the cacti and succulents are slow living and the blue pottery looks age-less no matter. These miniature little Zen or rock gardens look fresh and they hold your gaze for a while.

It has been a pleasure making this series. It involved sauntering on Killiney Beach and bringing home awesome pebbles. Plus going to garden centers for buying blue pottery and succulent plants. I now have a few very pretty pots in my window sill and the succulents are doing very well. They are really my kind of plants because they allow me to forget them for a while without becoming cranky. And because I feel guilty for neglecting them, I buy deluxe cactus food which is probably nonsense because cacti and succulent flourish best in poor soil anyway. In fact, my cacti and succulents are doing so well, that they produce a lot of offspring. Which urges me to buy more deeply indigo glazed pots and collecting stones for building lovely miniature Zen or rock gardens.

Paula

* * * * *

The art prints are for sale in Paula's Etsy shop, individually and as a series.

You can copy and paste this link to go direct to the shop: www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaKuitenbrouwer


* * * * *

All Text & Images Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Work in progress 1.

Work in progress 2.

Work in progress 3.

Paula's desk with a drawing in progress and the still life in front of it.

8 September - Autumn is coming

9 September - Christian Dior Window Display - Paris

In the Christian Dior Window Display
Photo by Paris in Four Months on Flickr

5 September - The Romance of Moonstone

The Romance of Moonstone by Shelia Ortego

The name "moonstone" was coined by the ancient Greeks to describe gemstones that displayed the moon's beautiful milky shimmer. If you wore a moonstone, it was believed to arouse true love; it was a magical talisman for lovers. Both Romans and Hindus believed Moonstone was formed out of moonlight, or drops of moonlight. It came to be associated with all those properties traditionally associated with the moon: romance, intuition, dreams, emotions, and femininity. Romans, Greeks and Egyptians associated the stone with moon goddesses such as Selene, Isis, and Diana.

Many believe it to be a healing stone as well, and one that will enhance intuition and insight. In India, Moonstone is thought to be sacred; according to one Hindu legend, if you hold one in your mouth during a full moon, you can see your own future.

In Gemology, Moonstone is a form of feldspar, remarkable for its glow or inner light. Fine moonstone is quite rare; it can be found in the United States, but the most valuable are found in Burma, Sri Lanka and India. The colour may be white, grey, brown, yellow, orange, green or peach – and it may even be colourless. But the most stunning thing about it is its sheen, which can be white to deep flame blue.

It is so fascinating how it came to be; if you don’t adhere to the ‘drops of moonlight’ theory, you might be interested to know that the sheen effect is simply caused by the inter-growth of two different types of feldspar with different refractive indices. One ray of light enters another layer and is refracted back and forth by deeper layers before leaving the crystal. (But I think I’ll just keep believing it was formed from drops of moonlight...)

Sheila Ortego writes for The Bead Blog Newsletter.

5 September - Number Four

Little tiny Number Four. That's his name. When he arrived he had a number four sprayed on his back with blue spray, so that's what we called him.

He wasn't expected to live because when the farmer brought him to us he was paralysed. The vet said we should have him put to sleep. However with a lot of medication and physiotherapy, he is now able to walk, and lives in the shed with the other rescue lambs.

He is small though. His legs seem stunted. But he has a healthy appetite, so much so that I have been trying to take a picture of his cute face, but he won't stop eating for me to do that.

4 September 2016 - Autumn /Winter/Spring Designs at Swanky Jewels

I've been starting to make up some of the ideas I have for designs for the Autumn/Winter/Spring jewellery.

You'll have noticed that I'm using a lot of gemstones in this range. My designs ideas aren't exclusive to gemstones, but that it what I'm working on right now.

If there is anything you particularly want, do get in touch. There's no obligation.

As you know I only make one of a kind items, so if there is something that you like, or want perhaps as a gift for someone else, don't hold on to the idea for too long.

Here's a pair of Amethyst gemstone earrings I made today...

Raw Amethyst and Brass Long Drop Earrings - 20 euro

4 September 2016 - Fresh Eggs

3 September 2016 - DIY Pebble Hanger

Great idea ....

3 September 2016

I love this...