Sunday, October 31, 2010

And I'm nearly finished!

I've almost finished my eBay overhaul. I took a long look at my listings, and at first I decided to switch from scans to actual photos.

My brain wasn't satisfied with just one radical change. When it decides to do one thing, it can't help but begin to pile other things on top, until my to-do list becomes truly monumental. Sometimes that defeats me. This time, though, I was determined to get through it all.

Changing this much means that I have to also change my process, and since I'm not a fan of change, this was a big deal for me. I like having a system for things, and and usually I'd rather stick my hand in a hornet's nest rather than change something.

    The Big List
  • Change from scans to pics. This was epic for me, like changing from an ugly but tasty bowl of ice cream to having to create a gorgeous sundae every time. On the way, I learned a few more things about my camera, developed new and interesting curse words, and came up with a horrible analogy about ice cream.

  • Change from block-o-text to bullet points. I LOVE BULLET POINTS THEY ARE MADE OF WIN. They are beautiful. If only we could converse in bullet points, then my life would be complete. All of the information you need about an auction/eBay store item, at a glance.

  • Change the shipping policy. Okay, this one was easy and nearly painless. When I last changed my shipping policy, I totally forgot to change the part about First Class being only available up to 13 ounces, and I accidentally left it at one pound. So that's fixed.

  • Add scale pictures to listings. I have occasionally received feedback that says something to the tune of, "Smaller than I thought." Which makes me sad. I mean, I do put measurements in, but there's this thing I do where I hate to have any negative space so I make the bead as big as the space I have, which means that it looks like every single item I sell is the same size. So now I'm trying to include scale pictures. I tried thinking of how to do this visually, with rulers or a tape measure or with the political leader of a foreign country, but the scale just wasn't readily apparent. Instead, I resorted to the ancient eBay tradition of including a penny. I hate doing so because I think it makes things they're next to a penny. But what else is so recognizable?

  • Miscellaneous changes. I included a line about the scale pic, so that people would know that it's just for reference. At least I hope that's how people read it. I hope no one is thinking they're bidding on a penny. Also, I changed the disclaimer about chips and scratches. I'm still not happy with the end result, but this just leaves the door open for the next time I suddenly get the urge to redo absolutely every listing ever.

  • Fix older listings. There were a few out there that still had some strange wording in the titles or in the description, and a few that were missing some measurements.

And now it's all done. I can breathe a sigh of relief and go back to watching Starksy & Hutch episodes.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's always a struggle...

One of the things that I have noticed about trying to make it as an online jewelry designer is that you have to wear a lot of hats. I don't just mean the usual small business hats like bookkeeper, sales manager, etc. You also have to wear a photographer's hat.

I have had some luck in the past with taking pictures. By luck, I mean that I've managed to have a pretty decent point-and-shoot that captured some decent shots. I can occasionally frame a shot and pretend I know something about composition. However, all of that flew out the window as soon as I sat down and tried to take pictures of my jewelry.

First, I tried pictures with a grey background. It was nearly impossible to get the entire piece in focus, and also, there's the issue of making them square so they work with Etsy's framework. I read some tutorials and decided that I needed to use natural light.

Sadly, my natural light photos turned out...poorly. I used some of them, but I wasn't satisfied. I ordered a little studio set (one of those expandable light sheds, two lights on tripods) and tried that.

The results were still not great. Here, for example, was my original main picture for my peacock feather necklace set:

This was when I was first working with my light shed, and a horrible background.

I've now figured out two issues that I was having; the manual settings were set to ISO 800, and the white balance was a bit off. Last week I took a new set of photos, and the color still seemed wrong. It was okay for some of the sets of jewelry, but this particular set was giving me grief. It looked too yellow.

So I tried again tonight. I adjusted the white balance again, and I took this main photo for the same set:

I wish that there was a magic formula to taking pictures, that I could just input a few numbers and go to town. Sadly, this is not so. And with a small business need to have very good photos to stand out. I'm going to try to keep experimenting and keep taking pictures. I can only hope that I improve.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm in another treasury!

Etsy seller Dominican Lounge has kindly selected my nautilus necklace to be part of her Holiday Treasury.

Thanks, Dominican Lounge!

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Vintaj cabs in the Etsy shop this week

Occasionally I'm lucky enough to get my hands on cabochons with Vintaj brass components folded around them. They're really beautiful, and they're very in style at the minute, with the steampunk trend. I have a few ready to be listed this week in my Etsy bead shop.

They're really interesting. Last time I listed these, they didn't last long, so watch for them!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beads in Bags

Those of you who have met me at shows know that I sell little bags of beads. I'm constantly asked where I get my products from and how I can sell them at such a great price.

What I do is purchase huge closeout lots. A "lot" is simply a term for a specific grouping of product. The lots I purchase are usually boxes full of...stuff. I get the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Some of the things I get are not readily usable. For example, they could be chokers with peeling metal, or bracelets with stickers on them that fall off. I absolutely hate throwing things away, so I often put a lot of ugly in one bag, and not only does the person get a great deal (often well below what's it worth), but I get the ugly out of the way easily. The thing is, there's always someone out there who can do something creative with these things. The necklaces are so cheap that they can use the leather or silk string and just toss the hardware, or the stickers can be taken off and the spaces filled with resin and collage images. The sky's the limit. I sell my bags of product in bins, and I've relabeled the "stringing supplies & misc." container as the "Creativity Bin." And you know what? It really sparks people! I love hearing the ideas they think of.

I spend lots of time just sorting beads. I'll watch some of my favorite seventies or eighties shows (Starsky & Hutch, Miami Vice) and put beads in bags for hours. It's very relaxing and fun.

Here's a great example of a sorting project that took three days. I bought a huge box (70 lbs) of vintage German cabochons, glass gems, and round...uh...beads without holes. It's taken me months to get through the sorting, but when I was finished, I had a lot of really great (and unusual) items. I also have five pounds of round...uh...beads without holes. [grin]

Sadly, I won't get any new lots until early next year, so there's not a lot of sorting for me to do at the moment. There will be, though!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An eBay facelift!

Tonight I'm going to list a new set of auctions with a new look!

I'm still using the same template, but I've changed the description from a block of text to a set of bullet points. I think it'll be easier to skim and pick out relevant information.

Even more exciting, I actually took pictures this time instead of using scans! I think some of the pics were too light, and I had to retake a few, but overall I really like the depth and dimension that they display.

Also, I've added scale photos to all of tonight's auctions.

Here's a comparison of the old style versus the new.



I'm really excited about the way it looks! Let me know what you think.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Helping out a friend

Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios, one of my favorite companies (and people!) in this business, is going through some medical difficulties at the moment. Several bloggers have come forward to help, and someone has helpfully gathered all of the helping links in one place. Click here to see how you can help out Andrew.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vintage multistrand box clasps

As most of you already know, I'm always on the lookout for interesting vintage things. And I really hit the jackpot recently! I found a great stash of base metal box clasps.

The jewelry industry on the east coast was pretty huge during fifties and sixties. They used a lot of beads, and even made their own findings, stampings, and components. These small silvertone box clasps were probably custom-made to suit the designs of the company who made them.

I found a lovely variety of two hole, three hole, and four hole clasps, all in silvertone, as well as some interesting three hole components which would look great as the center of a necklace.

I've just added them to my eBay store.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm back!

I'm back, and I'm happy to be home! I have three weeks to add new items to my brand new website, add new items to my eBay store and my Etsy shop. I'm very excited--I have a few new items that are very nice. Also, I'll be at the Bead Bonanza on Sunday, and then at the West Michigan Bead Expo Show on Saturday. Wow, what a full month this is!

So I've placed my first post on the new blog! I designed the header, and now that the website work is done, I'm ready to start blogging again. I hope you'll continue to tune into my journey! Thanks so much.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My new website is here! Also, new site for my blog.

It's happened!

After a month of taking pictures, editing pictures, writing descriptions, and tinkering, my website is now live!

You can find it here!

Finally, a way to sell in quantity, and to be able to accept credit cards! I'm so happy about this. I like Paypal, but some people don't, so this is a great new development!

And the blog is moving! Very soon I'll be redirecting this blog to my website. You'll be able to find it here.

Thank you for continuing to take this journey with me!