Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Online Venue #4 -- Etsy

I really didn't intend to take so much time off after Christmas, it just sort of happened. But now I'm relaxed and refreshed and back at it!

My fourth online venue is Etsy, a lovely collection of all types of handmade items plus vintage goodies and some great supplies. I've had my shop on Etsy since May of 2007, and my sales there are pretty decent. I make sales of more higher-priced items primarily from my regular website, but I make more frequent sales on Etsy. The fee structure is a little more "friendly" than Ruby Lane, and I can control to an extent how much I spend with Etsy by how often I list new items or relist older ones to move them to the "front of the line".

Etsy is also the online venue on which I spend the most amount of time. Photographing multiple views of each item, editing the photos, and listing is just one part of the Etsy experience. I also spend time browsing around adding things to my Favorites, and I check in with the forums at least once a day. If there's a hot topic that I'm interested in, it may be a couple of hours just reading all the responses! All-in-all, I'd guess I spend about 10 or 12 hours a week on Etsy-related activities. I guess it's a good thing that all my online marketing and sales efforts don't take that much time each--I'd never sleep!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Online Venue #3 -- Ruby Lane

It was March 2003 when I joined Ruby Lane. It's a lovely, well-run site for selling Antiques, Collectibles, and Artisan works. From a buyer's perspective, the quality of items for sale is good, the integration to paying with PayPal is seamless, and you can find lots of really cool stuff. As a seller, there are lots of "rules", but objectively I have to admit it makes for a really nice site. The fees are high, too, but you get a lot for your money. The search feature works well, the customer service department is responsive, and they spend a lot advertising the site to a highly-targeted market. So I stay, even though I pretty much just broke even between fees versus sales this year. In fairness, I have to admit that I didn't "work it" as well as I should have this past year. Which goes back to my Spread Too Thin? post a few days back.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Online Venue #2 -- eBay

The place I've been online the second-longest is eBay. I've been a seller there since 1999. Although I have "unloaded" some personal stuff from time-to-time, I mostly sell little mini-sculpted pendants. Some one-of-a-kind, like made with dichroic glass cabochons, and some with semi-precious gemstone cabochons. Sometimes I list matching drop earrings. Yes, it's a limited inventory, but I use eBay as sort of a "loss leader" for my regular website. The mini sculptures and drop earrings are small and quick to make, so I don't have a lot tied up in production costs. I can sell them for lower prices than I can in my store or on my website--after all that's what shoppers on eBay are looking for, right? A bargain. Then when I ship the item, I include a newsletter and a flyer about my full product line on my website. Once in awhile I get a nice order from that, so it's definitely worth it!

Unfortunately, this past year, and especially the last few months, my sales on eBay have been severely declining. In fact, for the last two months--for the first time in almost 10 years--I spent more in eBay fees than I made in sales. Sad. So I've curtailed the number of items I've been listing. I can't bring myself to give it up completely, but it certainly doesn't make sense to spend more than I'm making! Check it out here if you're interested in some super deals!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Online Venue #1--my website

My first, most important, and longest-running online presence is my own website. First established back in 1995, it was originally merely a bunch of pictures and prices. A virtual catalog, if you will. The pictures were terrible--it was way before I had a digital camera, and even after I took several shots of the same item, after they were developed I had to choose the "least bad". And often the "least bad" was still pretty bad! I had no clue about staging, lighting, composition, or any of the things that made for an attractive picture. But it was cool that I was online! I felt like a total business-grownup!

I scrapped that website in 2001 and hired my most excellent webmaster Eve to design something new and fresh, and definitely more user-friendly. The new site was launched in February of 2002, and is the one I still use today, with updates just about every month and modifications as often as we decide they're needed. For instance, the photography...(that darn photography, it's definitely an ongoing learning experience!). Over the last year and a half, I've been reshooting all the pictures and Eve has been upgrading the layout. Bigger, brighter, clearer pictures--if you poke around the website you can tell which pages have been done and which haven't! And you'll also discover some of Eve's cool touches--for instance, try the rollover of the stone/bead names and you'll see a picture of that color stone pop up!

Although I personally don't "maintain" the site, I do shoot all the photography, write the text, and make the decisions (or at least most of them) about what to do next and how it should look. I send everything to Eve and she does the maintenance. I am one client among many, so sometimes she gets to it quickly and sometimes I'm the "last in line". And why don't I bitch about this, you ask? Because Eve and I have been friends since junior high (and that was many, MANY years ago). Because no one else could possibly do the "perfect" job for me that she does. Not only have we known each other for more than 35 years (so she knows me well!), at one point in the late '80's she moved to Florida and made jewelry with me for a couple of years. She has always been a phenomenal artist--drawing, painting, crafting--so she was a natural with the jewelry design. She knows how the jewelry is made, what it's made of, the techniques involved, and how best to "showcase" it. What other web designer could boast that? After she left Florida and went back to Albuquerque, she went to school for graphic design and started her web design business. So because we've known each other personally for so many years, because I know what a talented artist she is, and she knows how the jewelry works, it's the perfect symbiotic relationship! And my final reason for not bitching about being "last in line"? Because that's often about when she gets a payment check from me!

As this was to be a summary of one of the online venues over which I spread myself, I will close by estimating that my website takes about 4 or 5 hours a week of my time. And because it is the main window through which the world can see me and my jewelry, it's definitely a worthwhile investment of time!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spread Too Thin?

Man, I feel guilty when I let so much time go by between posts! I have to wonder if I'm not spread too thin. The powers-that-be in online marketing make you think that if you're not "everywhere" on the Internet, then you're nowhere. I am currently trying to maintain my presence on about 10 or 11 online venues, and I have to say that NOT ONCE have I gotten to all of them in a single day. Is that bad? Or is it okay to do a few of them one day, alternating with the others on the next day? Seems to me that it keeps things "fresh" if I alternate. Or should I look at it like if I don't do all of them every day, I'm not maximizing their full potential? I can drive myself crazy trying to figure it out!

Maybe I'll spend the next 10 days blogging about each one in turn. At least that will give me something to post about!


Monday, December 8, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 12-7-08

Just in time for those holiday parties...I've come up with a new style of Ear Sweep. A line of rhinestones that glitter like diamonds, perfect with an upswept party 'do and guaranteed to get noticed! You can buy these and a couple other colors in my Etsy shop. And see the rest of my Ear Sweep designs on my Contemporary Concepts website!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Pattern Wire Bracelet

Last month I did a post on some great stuff I inherited from an old friend (see "John's Mojo, November 3rd). This bracelet is one I made from some of the pattern wire I got. It's a different pattern than any of the ones I have already. Gorgeous, huh? You can buy it in my Etsy shop. And I have over 100 other bracelet designs on my Contemporary Concepts website. Great gifts for all the ladies on your holiday shopping list!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things I've Done (and Not Done)

Surfing around Entrecard this morning, checking on my favorite bloggers, I ran across this. I found it particularly interesting because my mood lately has been so bleak. This lovely little list made me think of many of the things I've done in my life, and reflect on things still left to do. So I "stole" it from Following 31, who stole it from At The Creek, who stole it from Mommy, I'm Home, who got it from A Day With Twins, who stole it off ScrapbookChic, who stole it from another...and so on. I just think it's awesome. The things I've done are in bold.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to a charity.
7. Been to Disneyland.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch-hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visted the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a marial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone's life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a lawsuit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.