Saturday, November 26, 2011

Learning ... always learning

Okay, I've been away.  I've learned that I'm not the greatest blogger.  Bad, bad blogger. 

But I think I am doing okay as an Etsy seller!  But business is really picking up :)  So although I haven't written in awhile, I've been learning a whole lot.  And I'm going to share what I've learned.  Now in business there is no magic formula what works for everyone some use Facebook, blogging etc, for social networking that might not work well for others. You have to learn how to spend you time, learn what works for you.  I must admit I haven't found the magic formula that works for me but I have learned some universal truths for Etsy that I will share:

"Pictures: perfection is key" Now I know I hate reading manuals.  But I love to play with my settings by doing this I have learned how to take pretty good photos.  Not professional but pretty darn good begginer work.  I suggest learn however you do best (manuals or playing) but try to take good pictures.  And don't be afriad to lighten, tweak via photoshop.  People click on good product photography possible sale and blogs love good photography too that can mean promotion.  Now, you might be thinking yeah, what the heck are basing this on? But a lot of my new found success is due to blogs, lists, pintrest, facebook etc.  Good product + pictures = success.

Blogged on Geek crafts- October 17, 2011

Blogged on Nerd Approved - October 19, 2011

Blogged on Kid Crave - October 20, 2011

Blogged on Gamesniped - October 22,2011

Featured on Unplgged: November 1, 2011

Featured on SlashGear: November 1, 2011

Featured on Gadgetbox on MSNBC
10 gadgets to help parents raise a nerd

Featured on Chic & Cheap Nursery on November 4, 2011

These in turn were tweeted, shared.  This helps. A lot.  There is a saying a picture is worth a thousand words.  I would say that on online selling a picture is worth a lot more.

"Learn to dance in the rain" Everyone makes mistakes, has bad things happen. This is universal to everyone. In business it is no different: underestimated shipping costs, lost parcel etc. Not everything will go your way in business, but it's how you deal with the "rainy" days that is the art of business.  Professionalism, kindness and learning from your mistakes goes a long way. 

"Don't compare yourself to others" It can be discouraging to see other sellers who have started later than you with many sales, FB likes etc. But you can't compare. You are on your own journey. You have different lives, ability to work on your store, whatever. Every day just know that you did the best that you can and give yourself credit.

"Baby steps" It takes time to grow your business, find your niche and your audience. To quote field of dreams: "If you build it they will come" just takes time.  Think of your business as a snowball rolling down a hill.  At first, it is a tiny ball that needs constant attention and pushing to gain momentum, eventually the ball starts rolling and the farther it goes down the hill the faster and larger it gets.  This is like your like your store.  It takes time at first to build momentum but after a while the ball is rolling.   There is a "10,000 hour rule" coined by Malcolm Gladwell Outliers: The Story of Success, that to become an expert that you need to practice at a skill enough times until it seems perfect to you. It can be done you just need to put in the time.

"Never stop learning" It's competitive world. And you need to have your "A game" all the time. For selling online you need to know your venue.  Learn about changes, how to improve your store, SEO, Social networking etc. You are never done. Your store needs improvement, listings, new product, promotion every day. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be all the time. Sounds exhausting, but necessary.  If you keep working, it can be fun as you see yourself improve over time.  You can watch your business grow.  There is a lot to know and apply but it is worth it. 

If you can manage these you can do better on your store :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

News, News, News!

Okay, I've been away.  But although I haven't been as active in the blogger world I have been very busy everywhere else.  Besides the demands of everyday life, I've been up to these things:

Re-taking pictures:  If you sell on Etsy you are really never done.  Competition is steap so you need to keep challenging youself to do better.  Unconfirmed but I read in the forum that 1000 stores open everyday on Etsy.  OMG!!  That is a lot.  This stagering statistic led me to my next paragrah.

More products: Yes, more products.  It widely suggested that to be sucessful on Etsy you need at least 100 items.  As it stands right now we are at 38.   Now to post something on Etsy you need to do a lot of work besides making the product you need to do the write-up and the photograhy as well.  Needless to say to get up to 100 it is going to take a lot of work.

Here is my lastest teether.  I love it!  Hoopefully others will too!
Models in pictures: Now as the debate rages on as to whether models actually help,   I've been trying to get the girls in product shots.  And I got to tell you, I thought product photography was is a whole other ballgame when you add children into the mix.  (I'll post some of my epic flops in a following post).  Despite the crawling towards me, trying to hit my camera and improptu peek-a-boo I think I got a couple good ones.  They are actually hams with getting their pictures taken.

Here's a good one:

Website: I am currently in the works for a e-commerce site.  I have been making it from scratch through wix.  I already have a site ..but it is aactually easier to build another website from scratch than re-organzize the one I got.  I'm really excited to have it launch.  But it takes some work to understand and make everthing sparkle!  When I get it a little more prepared I'll show it off here.  A lot of Etsy sellers who are successful have more than one selling venue. So must get it done.

Craft shows:  I signed up for one in October in Ottawa.  Fingers crossed I get in. 

Pastel colours:  Now I did attempt this earlier and I must say it didn't go well.  Mostly because I tried using pastel food colouring gel that didn't turn pastel colour or set like regular food colouring.   But I got it.  And I was able to achieve it through regular food colouring!! Yay!  I think they turned out pretty well :)

Facebook:  I swore against it ..but it dragged me back.  The day I canceled it..what appeares on the first page when typing engravers in Ottawa but my facebook page.  I'm not really a fan of facebook, but then I never was really ever ..but I need all the help I can get in terms of SEO and getting found so back at it.  Now, I must say that facebook confuses and fustrates me a great deal LOL. Hopefully, I can get an invite to Google +1.

Teams: I've been participating in teams again.  It's a good way to get your product seen.  But I need to make some treasuries.  I'll post some that I make soon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Life is like a box of choclates

I never really understood the line from Forrest Gump: "Life is like a box of choclates.  You never know what you are going to get."  Moslty due to the fact that there is usually a card inside that tells you what you are exactly going to get.   Read the card.

But lately I am finding that I kind of understand.  Things haven't been working the way I want them to dispite reading the card (i.e. following the directions, or doing what I am suposed to).  For instance, blogger is not quite working properly lately, there is a looming postal strike in Canada which would greatly impact the Etsy business, the metal work and pastel food colouring aren't quite working well. 

But hey, why get wrapped up in sour lemons ..lets add some sugar and get to making lemonade.  I am trying puzzles for the Etsy store.  I honestly can't wait!  I was hoping to have more colours to work with but it seems for now that I'll have green, yellow, orange, red, purple and blue:

Those are the only colours that I can reliably create.  I think they look awesome so lets work with that.  I also need to expand the teethers.   Hopefully I'll have some good news to post!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is what girls are like

Some interesting business news I got selected to participate in a to contribute to "The life of an item" section of the Labrats blog!   If you are not familiar, the Lab rats team is an Etsy team dedicated to participating in Etsy labs (which are live interactive meetings to discuss all things Etsy).  It's a great team. The labs are really helpful, especially if you are new or need help with navigating Etsy, or if you are needing help with your shop they hold critiques too.  You might not get picked for the critique but you can tune in and learn from others.  I like it because it is another way to connect with people.  Now back to the life of an item,  I get to pick an item in my shop and discuss the inspiration, as well as the steps taken to create the item.  Woot!  I'll post a link to the feature when it comes out!  I'm not sure what to pick out of my store though.... 

On the topic of inspiration, I read a post once on Etsy where the poster asked people how or where they get their inspiration from when they are in a creative slump.  A few people responded with their ideas are from nature and to go for a nature walk, etc.  I must say, I have never had that problem.  My mind is full of ideas running at speeds that my physical body I can't catch up too. This is mostly due to lack of time I have to work on creative projects and also design work can actually take a awhile.  In the future I plan to make mobiles, expand the toys, jewelry boxes, puzzles, puzzle boxes, doll house furniture and dolls, expand the wall art, personalized board games, personalized wall hangings (with feet and hand prints)..  so many ideas!   I'll get there it just might take a little longer LOL.

On a personal note, I just watched the movie Despicable Me with the family.  I don't know why I didn't watch it when it came out but I must say, I really enjoyed the movie.  Now, much of the reason is because of the similarity to my girls.   The resemblance to my three girls is uncanny.   Really.  They even got the de-masculation of the dog.  The writers must have had girls.  On the right is Chewie our Pug/Chihuahua mix, and thanks to the girls.. he's a pretty boy LOL.

Now I wasn't the only person who noticed this.  My eldest (Chicky bear) who I'll  recently turned 4, even noticed it herself.  She pointed at the T.V. and said "that's me!"  My eldest is the intellectual, wants to be adult and likes to be the helper.   Then there is Lou Lou all about mayhem, tomboy and loves to wear hats. In the picture below she is wearing a pink bow I can tell you it lasted a minute.   My girls are a bit younger than the girls in the movie, but I've seen the future and it looks like this:

Here are the 3 princesses:

And if you are entering the blog now and wondering why 3Princesses Engraving, my husband and I named the business after our three girls.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What businesses can learn from online dating

Scandalous right? Well not really. There are faux pas that we readily know that would be disastrous in dating... that we should apply to business too.

1. Talk about themselves
We’ve all been there. You go on a date with someone and all they talk about is themselves. Don’t you hate it? You finally get to a break in conversation to talk and the other persons eyes glaze over completely uninterested in anything you have to say. Well, until the topic returns to them. 
This no-no happens in business too. We all know we work hard and produce a awesome product. But honestly, talking only about your next item that is available for purchase can be boring and after awhile can be off putting. In business pay it forward, create treasuries featuring others, give kudos to others good work, feature others on your blog. Talking about more than yourself would work for your date and it works for business too.  I can tell you I remember every good deed that someone does and more importantly I remember the name. I might not be able to pay back the kindness right away but I’ll remember the business name associated and refer people there. There are so many people that are looking for followers, selling and getting their name out there. But they go about it the wrong way. How do you get people invested in you? Simple: by investing in other people.

2. Bash the Ex or other people
Ever been on a date and the other person only negative things to say about their ex or other people. You’re on a date and the conversation slips to the ex’s. Now obviously, there was an issue or they have wouldn’t have broken up, but sometimes the conversation goes into overdrive and apparently every person they dated is tied for being the worst person on earth. The time ticks by on your date and they are still talking about it. On a date, big warning flags go up right? You can’t help but wonder if you were to date this person, how you’ll be perceived or talked about to others. 

I’ve seen this happen in the business world and I must say warning flags go up there too. I’ve seen posts where people discuss problem customers, or put down others discussing how their product is better than so and so’s, or more handmade than someone else's. Would you want to do business with them? No, not really. Negativity can be caustic and discussing it can be costly. I touched on associations above, it works with negative ones too.

3. Late and/or broken promises
The person is late or cancels the date and doesn’t tell you until well you’ve already been sitting at the restaurant for a half and hour with cold coffee. Or the date goes well, or so you think ..until the “I’ll call you tomorrow” call you were supposed receive never comes. Felt crappy, eh?

This works in business too. Be responsive: before, during and after the transaction. The customer is important and needs to feel that way through the process. I’ve also read if a problem occurs and you are able to resolve the situation quickly, you’ll have a return customer.

4. Photo realistic
Ever been on a date from an online dating service and the person looks way different than their picture? I’ve been there. My dark and soulful, was light and sporty. Not bad, just not my thing. Or the profile picture used you can still see the ex’s arm in the picture LOL. Not accurate or bad set up in pictures can be disastrous. Just as in dating, the picture needs to reflect the product.
In business we can unintentionally be guilty of both good and bad. I’ve seen pictures that are overdone (over exposed, enhanced,.. etc) and the other (dark, blurry, or a distracting background). Pictures are so important. It is the first and only thing a person sees and what they rely on before purchasing the product. It can be hard to master but well worth it. If you are having a hard time selling it might be your pictures.

5. Be kind
Ever been on a date and the person is perfectly pleasant to you, but snotty to the server or other people around you. Yikes! That spells disaster for your date and can for business dealings too.
Be kind to everyone. And if someone is rude or mean to you walk away, figuratively of course. We’re a global community. You never know who knows who. To make matters worse depending where on the Internet you say it.. what you say can be found and on record forever.

6. It’s not you it's me
We’ve all heard this one (okay maybe just me) but we all know it’s not true, right? It’s is you. But what you really need to find out is why. In dating it’s good to find out where you need improvement but this also goes for your business/online store too. You wouldn’t show up for a date not looking your best right?
Well it goes for your store – put your best foot forward. Get critiques on your store and not the soft critiques “you’re perfect just the way you are” get the “cut you to the quick” honest advice. It might hurt but it will be the best thing ever. How your store is perceived speaks volumes. You don’t have to change everything as there is some degree of personal opinion. But you might want to consider that you may be turning customers away with off putting pictures, policies, profile,.. etc. The average person spends a precious few seconds looking before they decide to stay or move on. You could be doing well, but maybe you could be doing a whole lot better. These are things are the things you need to know.

7. Keep the conversation light
Now I get it’s fun to get to know people sometimes discuss current events, or share your opinions. But keep it light. Why? Because the discussion can turn very fast and get very heated. Ever hear the expression: “You should never talk about religion, politics or money” on a first date?
This applies to your business as well. There are real people behind the avatar, isn't it nice to connect? Yes, but you might want to be mindful about what you say with your business avatar/branding attached. If you’re not sure what I’m getting at see: point 5, starting at global community.
Now you must be wondering about me as it seems that I have had many dating disasters, but don’t worry. I’ve been officially off the dating scene for a long while.  But to answer the lurking question: Yes, I did meet my husband on online. Luckily so, as I am happily married with three beautiful little girls.  But also the added benefit as the experience with online dating has also helped develop these wonderful business rules too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chasing the white whale

Okay I have been up to many things: chasing my white whale! This is the phrase my husband says because it has been my personal mission to achieve colour on wood.  The white whale is a reference to Mobey Dick or so I've been told.

Well there have been two whales (colour on wood and metal).  This post will be about the first new thing I've been chasing adding colour to wood.  I love wood but I also love colour, so how do I do it?  Well I should say, how do I create bright colours that are durable, completely non toxic/food safe and do not contain sealants that have mineral oil.  It has been a trial.  Really.a.trial.

Many colourants some are beautiful and produce stunning colour: like aniline  dyes.  They soak in the wood and you can see the grains ..brilliant.  Well brilliant in colour maybe not so as an idea. It's not safe for little hands.

Others are safe for most, but not completely such as milk paint.  It is a wonderful paint unless you have an allergy to milk/milk proteins.  Most people don't have this allergy and that is why people use it.  My girls have this allergy.  It's true, most children don't have this allergy but some do and finding out by a reaction to a toy is not something I would ever want.  Maybe with a sealant it would be okay but if I'm not sure I'm going to boarder on "no". 

There is paint: non toxic paint or water colour that can be used.  They both produce beautiful colours but then you have to seal it.  Finding a sealant that doesn't contain mineral oils is impossible.  They say it's safe after it is curred but how safe? I heard or read somewhere that it is still carcinogenic mildly so I guess, but still I'm making teethers. Or sometimes they say food safe..but then you read the fine print and they say right after not for children's toys.  Apparently okay for salad bowls and corresponding spoons but not children. How can something be food safe but then not safe to put in your mouth?   So somehow there is a distinction.  Boo'urns. 

I want safe and I mean food safe!  But good news: I got it I caught my darned whale!  I achieved vibrant colour through food colouring.  During my research I found several blogs and articles saying that it can not be achieved.  That the colour will bleed. The problem is that it lacks a binder.  And it is true depending how you do it.  You can't treat food colouring as a paint.  After days and failed attempts and days researching I got it.  I won't give away my my whole process but the key is a touch of vinegar.  

Anyhoo I thought  I would show the results.  I hope they are well received :)  I'm planning on trying some pastel colours this weekend.  I'll show the results.