4 reasons I have ignored my blog

Somehow the year has just flown by, and I have hardly touched this blog! Do I have a good reason why I haven’t been posting regularly? Not really, but I do have 4 flimsy reasons, and you can use these same excuses for just about anything.




There are many reasons to start writing a blog and there are just as many reasons not to start blogging, or to start one and then ignore it.

One article I read recently focused on getting out to meet other people instead of blogging, which kind of reinforced my recent thoughts about finding local businesses who would carry my Vampire Diaries earrings and bracelet or my handmade rosaries.

That right there would require face to face meetings, and I could probably come up with the same 4 reasons not to solicit!!

Ignore blog
Hit the Ignore blog button on your keyboard

4 reasons I have ignored my blog lately

  1. I have an appointment – that is always a good reason! A doctor appointment, an appointment with the BEACH, a dinner date, you name it!
  2. I just don’t feel like it – this is one of my top reasons, and it is associated with number 3
  3. Takes too much time – it really does take a lot of time, no matter how easy everyone says it is! First you have to write, then look up keywords and think of cool ways to illustrate because some people only look at the pictures!
  4. FREE HBO/Cinemax weekend! – that’s right, because watching a new flick is always a good reason not to blog or do anything ūüôā

These 4 reasons are so generic that you can use them for just about anything!!

I do like to share ideas, and new cool beads and I will continue to do that. But somehow this year has just slipped past me. I really just wrote this little article to kind of apologize for not posting much lately.

What are your reasons for not blogging? Are they the same reasons for not beading or not exercising? Or not doing anything?  Comments are welcome!

How to take pictures for selling online

If you are wondering how to take pictures to improve your online sales but have no photography background, look no further and check out my photography tips below.



I have been selling online since 2001 and have learned quite a lot about how to take pictures of products so that customers can see the detail and not be disappointed when they receive the item.

I often get compliments on my product photography and comments about how detailed and professional they look.

I decided to write this blog post as a sort of “Photography for Dummies” and share how to take pictures so that others can learn my process and get excellent pictures without being a professional photographer.

How to take pictures for Etsy, Ebay, etc.

When I began selling online I would take a picture on a textured surface but I have since learned how to give it that photo studio look using a white background, and I have been re-shooting everything. You can check out some of my new photos in my Etsy Shop.

Texture vs white background
Textured vs White Background Before and After

I have read many blog posts on photography, and most of them go way deep into stuff I didn’t want to know. They suggest special light boxes, lighting and other fancy gear. That wasn’t for me.

I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, blah, blah, blah…. but I DO know that natural lighting is THE best way to photograph beads, jewelry or just about anything.

Check out my photo studio below.

Outdoor photo studio
My outdoor portable photo studio, nothing special

Photo studio set up

My photo studio set up is in my driveway!! I always try to take advantage of the natural light outdoors. I currently use an orange storage box with a piece of tile on top to make it a flat surface, and a piece of white paper is covering the tile (see photo below).

Many items that are seen online have a white background or something really light. Ebay encourages a clean white background and Amazon requires it. In fact Amazon even patented their technique. Maybe I should patent mine!! No seriously, my process is simple and is not patented!!

The beach towel is there to keep me from getting dirty, and the concrete is really not friendly on the knees so the towel helps ūüôā

This set up is portable, keeps me flexible (having to get up and down), and was totally FREE since I already had these items. No expensive light-box, lights or other fancy equipment.

Taking Pictures of beads outside in natural light

Indoor pictures need special lighting or they might turn out yellowish, have reflections of the surrounding items, flash or annoying shadows.

I take nearly all of my pictures outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day, sometimes I get good shots first thing in the morning before the sun comes out, but many times that is too blue. Light cloud cover is the best.

Camera

I have an Olympus C-4000 Zoom, 4.0 Megapixel, Optical 3x Zoom/Seamless Zoom 10x Optical x Digital. Not sure what all that means, but the optical zoom gets super close and super resolution! When I download the pictures onto my computer I can then zoom further with Photoshop.

Let me repeat my previous statement above:

I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, etc.

I only read the quick start guide and I have never had a photography class.

When I bought my camera it was set to take pictures on a really large format (like a poster), and I have never changed anything. This way I can have a really large picture with high-resolution at then resize it as I choose.

I spent about $500.00 on this camera and have had it for over 10 years. So today you can probably get an even better camera for less money. In fact many of the smart phone cameras are pretty good!

Photo Editing

Photo editing is a very important part for me. I have Photoshop, which was quite expensive when I bought it, but all photo editing programs have some sort of brightness and color features to edit photos.

This is what I do for pics that are a little too gray or blue. In Photoshop I use the levels tool to set the white point which will adjust the picture.

Photoshop leverls
Setting White Levels in Photoshop

To set the white levels in Photoshop you select: image>adjustments>levels and then you will see the setting box like above. The eye dropper on the far right is for white.

Before-After-white-levels
Using White Levels in Photoshop

Select the dropper for white and then touch the area of your photo that should be white.  See what a difference that makes??

You can then clean up any dust or particles surrounding the item with the paint brush. Crop your photo and then make it any size you need!

I hope this information on how to take pictures has helped simplfy things for those who want to keep it simple. Happy Photographing!!

 

Packaging photos – are they important?

Showing photos of product packaging when selling online is important if you have room to display the photos. Some people don’t really care how the items come to them, but many people are swayed by attractive packaging.



Show photos of your product packaging to improve online sales

Many of you have read different articles about creative packaging and if you sell on Etsy you have probably read articles in the sellers handbook about branding, packaging and so on. I have read them all too!

I even took a photo several years back while I was in the middle of shipping packages so that I would have a¬†picture. However, it was pretty lame. See below…

Old Packaging
Old photo of product packaging

Looking back now I see how lame that photo was, but at the time I took the photo above, I was thinking

“This is great, it shows how the product is mailed, and what the bead or item¬†purchased¬†would look like when it arrives!”

However this was only a small representation of how items are packaged and mailed from Bead Lovers Korner. Then I set out to improve the photos.

packaging
Gift bags in organza and silk

Take time to shoot new photographs

I took some new photos to show the different ways that beads and small items are sent to customers. Most of my products ares small and are sent in organza bags like in the example above.

Gift box
Rosaries and delicate items come in a gift box

I use gift boxes for Rosaries most of the time, and some jewelry items also come in a gift box. This helps to protect the item in shipping and is also convenient for customers who are giving the item as a gift.

In this new era where everyone has a smart phone, it is really easy to take photos that are worthy of posting in a listing.

That extra photo in your Etsy listing just might seal the deal and convince a customer to buy from you!

Think about how you like to receive products that arrive through the mail? Is product packing important to you? Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment with your ideas for product packaging.

What’s in The Artisan Group swag bag? 2016 MTV #GBKMovieAwards

I am excited to share this collection of items in The Artisan Group¬ģ swag bag that will be given to attending celebrities at¬†GBK‚Äôs Celebrity Gift Lounge honoring the MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

Celebrities and members of the press will receive these popular gift bags which always contain finely handcrafted products from participating members.

This years invitation-only luxury celebrity gift lounge, hosted by GBK Productions, will be held on April 8-9, 2016.

What’s in the SWAG bag?

Our Seven-stone wire wrapped pendant is included along with 26 other fantastic gifts.

You can check out¬†these great gifts on the Pinterest board below as well as view them in¬†The Artisan Group¬ģ Gift Guide¬†online magazine.

Follow The Artisan Group 2016 GBK MTV Movie Awards Celebrity Gift Lounge on Pinterest.

What Celebrities will receive from Bead Lovers Korner

My gift this year is similar to the Chakra balancing pendant that was seen at GBK’s¬†2014 Primetime Emmy Awards gift lounge.

The difference this year is that each pendant is made with a hand-knotted wire and wrapped bale finished with a swirl!

MTV Celebrity Swag Bag
Wire wrap pendants for celebrities

Celebrity pendants are made with a variety of semi-precious stones and colors which includes:

  • Chakra balancing (three different stone selections)
  • Black Obsidian
  • Tigers Eye
  • Golden Cream Quartz

Members of the press and media organizations that attend will also receive the same pendant in one of three different types of stone beads: Chakra stones, Tigers Eye, and Black Obsidian.

Press and media SWAG
Gifts for members of the press and media

Side Note: Why I have not posted to this blog in over a month

I really try to post several times a month, but last month there was a death in my family that caused me to be absent.

Between wrapping up final affairs and making pendants for this event, I just had no spare time.

It is extremely likely that my posts will be sparse for several more months, but I was super excited about this upcoming event and wanted to spread the word!

Style definition for Etsy listing attributes

Here you will find a style definition or guide for each of the 50 style types that are optional attributes in the sell on etsy form.

They drive me crazy! I don’t know or remember some of them and always have to look them up, so I decided to make this list.

Etsy Advertisement


Ever look at one like “Kitsch” and just say what the heck is that?¬†Some of the styles are pretty self-explanatory and the others you are like WTF?

I started this list and¬†was about halfway through and have decided to go ahead and publish what I have, so list will be a list in progress… ūüôā

According to Etsy these styles are optional and not necessary, but when you are trying to be found on Etsy every thing counts!

50 style attributes in Etsy listing form (not complete)

  1. Abstract ¬†– anything that doesn’t fall under another category ūüôā
  2. African  Рbright and bold colors and lines, jungle animal patterns, tribal
  3. Art Deco  Рrich colors, geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation
  4. Art Nouveau ¬†–¬†curved lines, flowery
  5. Asian  РThis is really hard to define in a short description because it can encompass a very large global area and many time periods. So for now, for the sake of jewelry lets just say oriental, eastern religions and designs which have a non-western flair.
  6. Athletic  РAnything sporty or having to do with sports
  7. Avant Garde  РExperimental & innovative designs
  8. Beach  РOcean themed, seahorse, shells, ocean colors, etc.
  9. Boho ¬†– Bohemian gypsy “floaty” style clothes, boots, folksy
  10. Burlesque Рtheatrical or risqué
  11. Cottage Chic – (or Shabby Chic) pastel colors and flower patterns, also repainted or finished items where some of the original shows through
  12. Country Western – Cowboy Hat, boots, leather belt, bolo tie
  13. Edwardian РVery similar to Victorian style however clothing was a little more relaxed and hem lines were shorter, this time period was very brief
  14. Fantasy – This style seems to encompass medieval styles and steampunk styles
  15. Folk – folk style or folk art is decorative and utilitarian as opposed to strictly aesthetic, traditional rules for perspective and proportion are not used.
  16. Goth – Goth is a subgenre of Gothic styles and is mainly characterized with the use of all black clothing, nails, hair, etc. But it can be colorful using dark and dramatic hues.
  17. High Fashion – Exclusive, custom fitted, strictly handmade using difficult time-consuming techniques
  18. Hip Hop – Styles associated with Rap music, DJing or break dancing. Usually baggy pants, t-shirts, chains.
  19. Hippie –
  20. Hipster
  21. Historical
  22. Hollywood Regency
  23. Industrial
  24. Kawaii
  25. Kitsch
  26. Mediterranean
  27. Mid Century
  28. Military
  29. Mod
  30. Modern – A¬†sort of generic term for anything that’s made now and is the typical example of it’s time. The thing about the modern attribute tag here is that it will put a modern angle on anything else you choose.
  31. Nautical
  32. NeoClassical – Ancient Greece or Rome
  33. Preppy
  34. Primitive
  35. Regency
  36. Renaissance
  37. Resort – “Cruise Wear”, upscale
  38. Rocker
  39. Rustic
  40. Sci Fi
  41. Southwestern
  42. Spooky
  43. Steampunk
  44. Techie
  45. Traditional
  46. Tribal
  47. Victorian
  48. Waldorf
  49. Woodland
  50. Zen Style РThis style is also an oriental style but mostly focussing on clean lines, simplicity, peaceful and meditative, having to do with Buddha, inner peace and calm.

If you are looking for one that isn’t defined then try this list¬†I came across on the Etsy forums. This list of attributes¬†was done by sparrowsalvage¬†several years ago, and I will be incorporating some of her definitions also.

Get your handmade products to the next level

Ever wonder how to take your handcrafted products to the next level? Want to move beyond selling your products to family and friends? Apply to The Artisan Group¬ģ for a chance to add terrific opportunities to your small business formula for success!

getting your handcrafted products to the next level
Apply today for a chance to get your handmade products in the hands of a celebrity!

Taking it to the next level

The Artisan Group is always on the lookout for really top-notch, best-of-the-best seasoned artisans who handcraft their products to join in on our celebrity gifting and TV show stylist opportunities.

Here’s additional criteria that is considered when reviewing an applicant of The Artisan Group:

  1. High-quality, handcrafted products created by YOU (No factory-made goods)
  2. Fantastic product photography
  3. Impressive branding and online presence
  4. Unique products
  5. Established, seasoned sellers with at least 25 actual products for sale online (not supplies)
  6. Products that could be easily gifted (size-wise) in our celebrity gift bags
  7. You must be at least 18 years old

At this time The Artisan Group is not accepting any additional artisans who create children’s toys, apparel, or accessories. One-of-a-kind (OOAK) products are not the best fit for celebrity giftings, or TV product placements.

Products that are always a big hit at the celebrity events we participate in include handcrafted…

  • Jewelry
  • Bath/spa products
  • Candles
  • Small clutches, wristlets, and sewn makeup cases
  • Matted fine art photography
  • Stationery sets
  • Small bound journals
  • Trendy adult hair accessories
  • Cosmetics (eye shadows, nail polishes, etc.)
  • Pet accessories (toys, trendy collars and leashes)

APPLY to The Artisan Group¬†and be sure you mention my shoppe name, Bead Lovers Korner, in the “How did you hear about TAG?” field on the application!

Good Luck!! Leave a comment and let me know if you plan to apply ūüôā

The secret to selling on Etsy using Etsy tags

Have you been selling on Etsy and wondered what the secret was to get more sales? I think a lot of people wonder about this and I wanted to share what I discovered about Etsy Tags and how to use them.

This method I use seems to have made a big difference on how often my items are found, viewed, favored and sold. More importantly my revenue increased significantly!!

If you are not currently selling on Etsy, then open an Etsy store and get started selling on Etsy with 40 free listings.

Which words to use selling on etsy
Ever wondered what the big secret is to getting views and sales? It’s the words you use, and Etsy Tags are a big part!

What are Etsy Tags?

Etsy tags are different terms used to describe and identify your item and make them relevant to a customer search.

You can use single words or common phrases to describe an item as long as they are relevant. Be sure to read the House Rules in the Seller Handbook to make sure you know the do’s and don’ts.

I read the directions and helpful tips from Etsy on how to use tags, but the light bulb went off for me when I saw what was coming up in my Top Keywords section under Etsy Stats.

Addicted-to-Etsy-shop-stats

Top Keywords

These are words and phrases that customers have searched for and successfully found your item.

I don’t remember specifically which keyword in the shop stats made the “light bulb go on” for me, but it was something generic like “crimp beads” or “horse clasp” and I suddenly¬†REALIZED¬†that I had everything tagged totally wrong!

I was using words in the tags that I thought people would search for, but not really checking to see what words customers were actually using in their search. It is amazing that they found anything at all since my terms were so generic!

Search Etsy Bar
Use the search Etsy bar at the top of each page to see how people search for items.

Search Etsy for keyword tags

It suddenly dawned on me that the terms that people are really searching for are provided in the drop down search (as shown above).

I began the arduous task of double checking all of the tags on my items and comparing them to terms found in the Etsy search drop down. I removed terms that didn’t show up and changed to words and phrases in the search drop down.

I also used these terms in the title of my item and in the first sentence of my descriptive copy. You can also use the Google Keyword tool on adwords to help you come up with phrases people use on the web.

After just a few days I had a huge increase in views, favorites and orders, which was phenomenal. My orders increased by 60%!!

You have to continually check and update these terms as customers change the way they search. This also keeps your listings “Fresh”.

Other factors when selling on Etsy

There are still other factors needed to be successful when you sell on Etsy, which includes:

  • A nice variety of items
  • Great photos
  • Good descriptions
  • Good customer service

For more on photography check out my previous Blog Post “How to Take Pictures

I hope this helps to unravel the mystery of using Etsy tags and getting found on Etsy. Leave a comment below and let me know!