Monday, November 30, 2009

Succeeding on Etsy Photography

In order to have any success on Etsy, good photographs are a must. You can not expect to sell a stranger your widgets if the photographs don't show them off to the best your ability. The best SEO, the best tags, the best descriptions are all for naught if your photos are blurry or dark.

I am fortunate enough to have a hubby who spoils me rotten and got me a Canon Rebel XSi DSLR to play with. Would I buy one just for Etsy? No, not at my price point. If I were selling $100+ widgets then yes, I would seriously consider it. Selling $2-20 items, no, it's not worth it.

Wanna know the best kept Canon DSLR secret? The EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Under $100. Regular price. Srsly. But, Cari, how great can it really be? It's amazing!! It's a plastic body so be careful with it. I've had mine for 10 months and it's been on my Rebel for about 90% of my shots. I take all of my product photography with that lens. The 1.8 gives me a great DoF. Yes the 1.4 would be better, but I can't complain at all.


The other important thing to remember is that you will need great light. Natural sunlight is best but only during the 2 hours after dawn and 2 hours before dusk. That's when the sunlight travels through all that atmosphere and gets filtered and gives a great natural glow without being harsh. It's best to have the sun behind you or to the side behind you.

Getting outside during peak hours isn't always possible. Enter the light box. There are many tutorials on Etsy to build one. You don't need an expensive one, just something to control the light. My hubby happens to be pretty handy so he made me a 15" cube with ceiling light tiles. I'm sorry, I bing-ed (is that a word yet?) and can't find a photo or link. It's the tiles that you install in drop down ceilings to filter the light. They came in huge sheets; something like 4x6 feet? It's textured and made of plastic. He made a cube by cutting those and using corner moulding for the edges. He just used silicon to adhere the moulding to the plastic. I then bought a 59 cent piece of posterboard and voila instant light box! Total cost was about $40 but if we'd have made it just a hair smaller we could have used one panel and saved $15+. It's lasted over a year.

I used to take the box outside or put it on my kitchen table in the afternoon (nap time) and open all the blinds in the bay window. This worked wonderfully! Now I have a portrait lamp because I do portrait photography. For a cheaper alternative to a portrait light, try the Ott lights. They are a natural looking bulb.

To finish my shots I use Photoshop. There are free things to use like GIMP, Picassa and more. I just happen to own an old version of Photoshop. I crop, resize, and adjust the levels to make the white really white.




Since I've improved my photography my sales have increased dramatically. If a buyer can't touch it and inspect it, you need to show all sides of your widget and show it the best way you know how.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Glitter Heart Die Cuts



These red heart die cuts are covered in fluffy glitter. Comes in a set of 8 but more are available. Available at Etsy or Artfire.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Handmade Holiday Contest

My contests are usually paper crafts related but for this one I'm doing anything! Paper, paint, crochet, fabric, metal- anything! As long as it's related to a winter holiday it's eligible.

The Rules:
  • For this contest you may submit anything to do with a winter holiday. Paper crafts, jewelry, ornament, decoration. Anything!
  • It does not have to be something brand new, but please keep it to only creations not entered in a contest previously.
  • All entries will be emailed to me at kotibeth@gmail.com and I will post them all at once so each entry is a surprise :)
  • You may solicite votes from your own blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or however else you'd like to get votes.
  • Voting will last for one week.
  • In the case of a tie, I will make every effort to have two of the same prize, but there may be substitutions.
  • If you do not want to submit photos of your children, you may blur the faces of anyone in the photo.
  • You may submit more than one entry but only one photo will be displayed for each entry.

Yes there are prizes! If there are 2-5 entries the prize will be a $5 gift certificate to my Etsy or Artfire shop. If there are 6 or more entries (from different people) the prize will go up to a $10 gift certificate! Gift certificate can include shipping costs.

Entries due by December 5, 2009 and voting will last one week until December 12, 2009.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Angel Wings SVG File

Here are some angel wings I created to cut with Sure Cuts a Lot. These are for personal use or you may use the die cuts in a product for sale. You may not sell the file or just die cuts made from this file. If you do make something from this file, I'd love to see a picture :)

Angel Wings SVG
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Shop

Like many other school's, my son's elementary school is doing a holiday shop. The PTO gives the kids $1 each and many of the kids only have that dollar to shop with. How sad is that?? Our PTO asks for donations of crafts or anything else for the shop so the prices can stay low for the kids.

Last year I made some thing especially for the shop and they sold out. This year I'm pulling some albums and bookmarks that didn't sell from my shops and donating them.

I am also making bookmarks and bottlecap magnets with the school name and mascot on them. I'm looking for cheaper things I can make so I am able to donate 50+ of each item.

So if you have some inventory that just isn't moving or some supplies that are staring at you but you just aren't sure about putting them on Etsy, make up some quick cheap items and think about donating them to your elementary school. While I wouldn't put my logo on each item, I would include a few cards with the donation.

I ask for my stuff back if it doesn't sell and they set it out separately. Check with your school's PTO about their policies.
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Christmas Countdown Block

Someone tweeted this site and it's a great, easy idea and except for the blocks all of us paper crafters should have the supplies.

These are soooo cute! I was just at the craft store and saw some nice sturdy hollow (light) blocks. I picked them up, held them for a minute, and put them down because I didn't have a use for them. Ugh!
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday Favorites

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Fall Leaves SVG Files


I created these for an order and I won't be listing them for sale so I'll share them. Note the file name in the photo and that's the file to download.

These files are for use with the Sure Cuts a Lot software for the Cricut.

These are for personal and limited commercial use only. You may make items for sale with these files, but please do note sell the file or die cuts made from these files. If you do make something personal or for sale, I'd love a comment here just to see it. Please do not share the file itself but feel free to link anyone here. By downloaded my files you agree to these terms.

Maple Leaf
Fall Leaf
Oak Leaf
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday Tips Keeping Shipping Costs Low

I'm going to take another break from scrapbooking tips and do a post on general business tips again.

When I am buying online, shipping price in a very important factor. I do understand that what I'm charged is the shipping cost plus extra expenses such as labels, tape, envelopes, and whatnot. However, I don't like to be charged $10 and see $1.50 in shipping! Yes I agreed to it and no I won't neg the seller, but I won't be back.

I try to keep my shipping costs very affordable and close to what I really pay. Of course with different shipping zones and package sizes sometimes I am over a little bit, but other times I'm less. Really with the time saved it all works out even if I do have to pay extra.

In an effort to upsell, I keep my combined shipping low. Yes sometimes I do eat a little bit of the cost, but if it helps me sell more die cuts or paper packs then it's worth it. If it keeps my customer happy it's well worth losing a few cents.

I recycle and reuse most of my packaging. I get boxes from anyone I can and reuse bubble mailers. A friend's company changed logos and they were going to throw away about 200 huge envelopes. I snagged them and they lasted me an entire year! I cut the logo off and taped the edge over itself and they were custom fit to my packages. I know some say food boxes are a no no, but I got some jewelry in a turned inside out cereal box and it was sewn shut. It totally fit her indie shop and I didn't mind one bit. It was creative and saving the earth. Obviously dirty boxes or boxes that have touched food might make some people skeevish so use your best judgement.

Unfortunately I do need bubble mailers more than I get them to recycle. We have a discount store here locally and I look ever time for 10 for $1 and buy all they have. I haven't seen them in a while so I ordered a bunch of little things from Etsy to restock. Kidding! Maybe... I'm going to have to break down and order from uline.com but I'm going to post on the Etsy forums and/or Craigslist to try to find someone to split shipping with me. Preferably more than one person so we really save.

Tape is a huDge expense for me, both packing tape and the scotch tape. I was buying Target brand tape for $1 each in packs of 4 but it went up to $3-4 per roll! Holy crap, is it made of crude oil now? I tried Dollar Tree tape and it was more hassle than it was worth. I went back to Target and staring right at me is a super genaric brand that's distributed in MN (where Tar-jay is) but is $4 for 4 rolls plus a free tape gun. Jackpot! So far so good, thicker than the $ store tape. I also found some of the same uber genaric tape to sub for scotch tape. It was 49 cents a roll! 49 cents! I use it to tape my labels on the package bc I'm too cheap to get stickers. Ok- stickers are on my (long) list. Until then, this tape works great.

So there you go, all of my secrets to keep costs low. Please add more if you've got em.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Flower Altered Clips


I love these clips! I used a funky pattern on the clip and attached a chipboard flower covered in a coordinating pink pattern to the front. These have a magnet strip on the back. They are great for home or office. Use to hold pictures or papers on the fridge or a filing cabinet. You can also use to keep food bags shut. Great stocking stuffer or coworker gift.

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Contest Cancelled

Unfortunately the contest is cancelled. No entries this time. Is a week too short? Was the theme too specific?

I might do a Winter one before the holidays. It would be all encompassing for all December holidays or just winter.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Favorites

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Handmade Review - Soap Deli Handmade Soap

I've heard wonderful things about Soap Deli handmade soaps and I finally got the opportunity to try them. I picked up three bars from her Artfire Studio I still had a little bit of shower gel I wanted to use up before winter starts and my skin gets dry so the bars sat on the counter for about week but every time I walked by I just had to pick one up and smell it! Yum! I couldn't even pick a favorite, I had to peel the plastic wrap off of each of the 3 bars to smell them all.

I hate to admit it, but it's been years since I've used a handmade bar of soap. I used to make bath and body products (not CP or HP soap though, unfortunately) and I knew handmade soap beats store bought or body wash hands down. I just got out of the habit of using it for a while I guess. This soap is rock hard and solid. I just started using it, but with proper care I think it will last a long time and completely offset the higher cost.

Of course, the higher cost of handmade soap is always worth it because you are supported a real person and not a large chain. It's only a few extra dollars for a little bit of daily luxury. Really, what better way to enjoy a few bucks?

This week I started using it and oh. my. goodness. It's amazing! My skin gets so dry I use a medicated cream every 8 hours in the winter to stop from clawing myself up and this has made my skin so soft and so silky. I seriously noticed a difference from one use! I'm sure I'll still have to use some type of lotion this winter but hopefully it will something great smelling and not medicated.

Not only is her soap great, but Rebecca is also a great person and very supportive on Twitter, Facebook and byHand.me.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Navagation Summary in Google Analytics

I just discovered this and I can see how this is going to be a huge help with my blog and Etsy site. I like being able to see where and how my visitors go and browse my sites. It helps me with tagging, rearrange your shop, and to see what catches people's eyes.

You'll want to click these images to get them bigger, but on the left side below Dashboard click on Content.
Then click on Content by Title. This is good to look at anyway because you can see at a glance what is popular. Then click on the title of the page that you want to see the navigational summary for.

Then in the drop down menu select Navigational Summary.

On the next page you'll see the links that refer to your site and their percentages of link with arrows to the current page and then arrows to exit pages.

Pretty cool, huh? Now you can follow your visitors right through your blog or website and see what's working and what's not.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Give Thanks Scrapbooking Contest

After I will announce the theme you'll have one week to submit your entries. After the entries are submitted I will open up voting. Right now it will be popular vote by visitors. The winner will receive a related to theme. Or not. Maybe I'll shake things up and offer something totally new!

First the rules:
  • For this contest you may submit anything to do with paper crafts. A scrapbook page, card, altered tin, altered clipboard, anything altered, basically anything that is at least 75% covered with paper.
  • It does not have to be something brand new, but please keep it to only creations not entered in a contest previously.
  • All entries will be emailed to me at kotibeth@gmail.com and I will post them all at once so each entry is a surprise :)
  • You may solicite votes from your own blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or however else you'd like to get votes.
  • Voting will last for one week.
  • In the case of a tie, I will make every effort to have two of the same prize, but there may be substitutions.
  • If you do not want to submit photos of your children, you may blur the faces of anyone in the photo.
  • You may submit more than one entry but only one photo will be displayed for each entry.
The theme this time is
GIVE THANKS

Remember it can be a layout, card, mini album, anything as long as it's saying that you are thankful or what you are thankful for. It does not have to be Thanksgiving or fall related. I've done thankful layouts of my kids with hearts or flowers and nothing to do with Thanksgiving.

Entries due Sunday the 15th by 11:59 PM.

Prizes (and these will get better as the contests get more popular):






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Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Favorites Artfire Edition

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

ladybug svg


Here is a lady bug svg file to cut with your Cricut and Sure Cuts a Lot. This file is for personal use and limited commercial use. You may not sell this file or die cuts made from this file, but you may use it in products that you sell. If you do sell a product with this file, I'd love to take a peek at it :)

Please do not share this file, but do feel free to share the link.

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Cupcake Fine Art Photograph

I took this photo months ago and finally got around to playing with it a little in Photoshop to get it ready for sale. I will definitely be making birthday cards out of this print so look for those soon. I may even get this printed for my daughter's room. I can't wait to see it on the Kodak Metallic paper!

Right now this is only available at Artfire but will be at Zazzle soon and the notecards will be in my Etsy shop.
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Handmade Review Sugarflower at Etsy

I picked up this adorable pinafore for my 2 year old daughter from Sugar Flower on Etsy. This dress is so cute and it's reversible so it's like getting two dresses in one! It's very well made and a great quality. She even gave me a free matching hair clippie.

If you need a holiday or birthday gift for a little girl, check these out. Her prices are very reasonable especially considering this can be worn all year round depending on what you put underneath it.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn Splendor Candy Dish or Decoration


I just reduced the price of this cute altered tin again today. If you need a hostess gift, fill this with wrapped candy or put on your desk with candy and your co workers will love you :)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Winner of the Fall Contest!

Thank you so much to the entrants of my contest. Thank you also for tweeting, blogging and getting the word out.

It was close, but the winner is Jennifer from Live Teach Create! Congrats Jennifer. Email me your address and I'll get your prizes out to you this week.
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Tuesday Tips - Decorating With Paper Crafts

Sometimes finding ideas of home decorating with paper can be challenging. Paper doesn't exactly make the best medium for a sturdy decoration you can use year after year. If you are anything like me, you have tons of extra things and now is a perfect time to use it. I'm mainly focusing on things that can be used for the holidays, but we are a creative bunch so I'm sure we can adapt these to use any time of the year.

(Sorry I'm not posting pics, but I don't want to steal the pics of these original designs.)

A wreath made of paper? Yep! This one is being used as a centerpiece with a candle inside. Great pics and great instuctions over at the Pesto Classroom blog.

Next is an advent calendar but these aren't just for Christmas anymore. Use to count down days left of school or make a countdown for any holiday. I've even seen a countdown till Daddy gets home from the military. Here's one on bhg.com I got in a newsletter today.

Here is another take on a paper wreath at acherryontop.com. This happens to be a Halloween wreath, but it could be made for any holiday. This is definitely on my list of things to make.

Here is a banner from acherryontop.com. Again, it's Halloween, but could be for anything. I prefer 4" scalloped circles, but the triangles are much easier if you don't have a die cut machine.

Check out these adorable flowers also from acherryontop.com. I can see these for spring, Thanksgiving, Christmas or just about anything! I might make these in a vase for above my kitchen cabinets.

There are lots of pdf file at KaiserCraft for ornaments or garland. There are too many to list individually, but I am definitely doing some of these for general decorating! Those little globe balls would be adorable in a large glass container as a center piece for my dining room.

If you have more links, please share them! If you do any of these please share pictures. I love getting inspiration from others.
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