A little late with this post – but still in the game

I’ve joined my friend Lisa (Beadsoul) in her challenge to make one new thing each day in July. And while I’ve been busy (with real work – the kind that pays the bills), I have been working on some new jewelry pieces here and there. (Some has already gone into the shop in Ambler, PA that sells my stuff). So I’m playing a little catch-up here. A few samples of what I’ve done lately….

First up – (and they haven’t seen these yet – so shhhhhhh!) I made hand-stamped name necklaces for my two nieces with the names of my great-niece and great-nephew on them.

Copper Name Necklace

Copper Name Necklace

Dazzling lime green quartz earrings

Dazzling lime green quartz earrings

Then I found these incredible almost-neon bright lime green quartz crystals, and wrapped them in silver plated wire that I studded with teeny tiny dichroic seed beads and finished with handmade sterling silver ear wires.

Adjustable Sterling Silver hammered bangle bracelet

Adjustable Sterling Silver hammered bangle bracelet

This sweet little sterling silver bangle bracelet is somewhat adjustable – you can squeeze it to make it tighter on your wrist.

And finally, another pair of dangle earrings. What makes these a little different from the rest is that I “decorated” the handmade silver ear wires with tiny beads. You like?

Blue Lampwork Earrings With "decorated" Sterling Silver ear wires.

Blue Lampwork Earrings With “decorated” Sterling Silver ear wires.

The Challenge Goes On….

On the 2nd day of the challenge – I made a hammered sterling silver bangle bracelet to go with the hammered sterling silver rings I made the other day.This first one is large-sized. Probably an 8 3/4’s to a 9. Too big for me…but I will most likely put it up for sale soon.

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I’m Taking Up The Challenge. How About You?

Soooo….it’s been quite a while since the Bad Blogger Chronicles posted. (And thus the reason for the name) Three reasons for this:

(1) Been busy with real work (the kind that pays the bills)
(2) Been busy keeping up with jewelry orders (always a good thing) because now my fat dog beads jewelry is being sold in a neat little shop in Ambler, PA…right across from the wonderfully restored Ambler movie theater and
(3) been busy with kids, grandkids, dogs, friends and more (all good things, too).
But it’s way past time for a post. And my very talented friend – who calls herself and her etsy store Beadsoul just posted a challenge for all jewelry makers and crafters. And here it is: make one new item every day to help get your shop filled up with new goodies for the holidays. (Yes – I know it’s summer. But if you want to sell during the pre-holiday season, you need to gear up for it NOW).
So here is my first “newbie”….which I will list later on today in my etsy shop. (Part of the challenge is not just to make something, but to also add it to your shop.)  It is a hammered sterling silver stack ring.
I am going to custom make these to size, I think. Though I am convinced that not many people actually know what their ring size is. Do you?
Mine actually varies quite a bit depending upon (a) time of day (b) time of year and (c) what I just ate.

So – anyway – I’m opening up this creative challenge to all you. Anyone want to join me?

I love business cards…and so should you.

Some of the different business cards I use for fat dog beads

Some of the different business cards I use for fat dog beads

Like a lot of you out there, I wear more than one hat these days. First, I am a freelance copywriter – with my own itty bitty ad agency. And second, I make and sell my own jewelry. In both cases, I’ve found business cards to be an invaluable marketing tool.
You can do so much with them. And I probably have only just tapped the surface of possibilities. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are two sides to every card – you need to use both of them (in most cases).
Here’s some examples of what I do with my business cards:

For bh creative (copywriting/ad agency)
I spent a little bit more money and printed them with Moo.com. Why? Because they are much higher quality than your standard cards (i.e. free or cheap ones). You can order them with rounded corners and either a matte or glossy finish. But the key to the Moo cards, is that you can have up to 50 different images on 100 cards (for a cost of about $20 plus shipping).

What I did with my Moo cards: I took 7 or 8 client testimonials – and put a different one, reversed out of a different color, on the front of the card (with my mandatory contact info on the back).  I could just have easily put different samples of my work on the front. And voila – you have a mini-portable portfolio.

Some of the moo.com cards I use for bh creative

Some of the moo.com cards I use for bh creative

When I am networking, I make a spray of my cards – each a different bold color with a testimonial on the back- and invite people to pick their favorite color.

You could also imprint different cards with your business philosophy…parts of your resume (if you’re looking for a job), or more. Consider these business cards your 30-second elevator speech.

For fat dog beads (jewelry company)

I have a lot of different (mostly very, very low cost) business cards for fat dog beads. First, I do have a set of moo cards – each with a different beautiful photo of different pieces of my jewelry. These really catch the eye at craft shows. I also have a collection of “mini Moo” cards which measure about 1″ x 2 7/8″ – but can also be customized with different photos on each card. These cards I may toss in with a package I am sending…or used at craft shows as well.

But it’s the no or low cost cards that I really go to town with.

One, is a “thank you” card with a code on it for Free Shipping for their next fat dog beads order. (These go to my etsy.com customers). Another is printed in a way that I can fold it in half, punch two holes in it and hang earrings from it on one of my displays.

Yet another is very brightly colored and has room for me to also punch holes in it and use it hold a pair of earrings I am mailing out.

I have a “free” card (which has a small line or two advertising the company I got it from) which I offer a 20% discount code on. These I typically hand out when I somewhere where someone admires the jewelry I’m wearing. Of course, all these cards have my contact info and links to my website, online selling venues (etsy and art fire) and my facebook page.

I’m sure there are some more great ideas out there for using business cards.  Feel free to post here!

The Ruined Silver Pendant…Resurrected!

For those who read my last post on how I ruined a perfectly good sterling silver and moonstone pendant I was working on…a follow-up. I removed the damaged moonstone…polished up and re-textured the sterling silver base…added a new sterling silver spiral to serve as the bail…and a gorgeous flashy-blue labradorite dangle to add some interest. Still needs to be polished, and I will probably re-wrap the labradorite briolette…but here’s what I’ve got so far.

The Aftermath - a new pendant takes shape from the old one I ruined.

The Aftermath – a new pendant takes shape from the old one I ruined.

Overworking It: How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Piece Of Jewelry

When I make jewelry, I tend to futz a lot with it. (Futz is sort of a technical term…it means “play with”)
And, as sometimes happens, I go overboard and ruin the piece.
Case in point: I had a very nice piece of sterling silver sheet that I cut down to about 1 1/2″ x 1″. I textured it. I patterned it. I stamped it. I filed it. I punched holes in it.
Then I soldered on an oval bezel I had made for a really nice, flashy blue moonstone. All was looking pretty good…but I knew that more had to be done with it.
I ended up soldering a sterling silver spiral onto the top – overlapping the top by maybe 1/4″. Now we were getting somewhere. The spiral would serve as the bail for the chain. Looking good!

Until I realized that no matter how I tried, with many different methods, I couldn’t get it polished right. Just didn’t look the way I wanted it to.

Flash forward to me scrubbing, rubbing, polishing, dremel-ing and more to get some gunk off. Long story short – spiral falls off. Okay. back to the pickle, clean it up, and try to solder the spiral on again. Nope. Not happening. Fire got so hot it started to melt the spiral.

Bring it back into the studio to rethink. By this time, I had also realized that what my pendant needed was something in the middle between the spiral and the moonstone.  I decided a rivet with a decorative washer would do the trick.  And it did.  For a while. Until I realized again how grimy it looked.

Decided to toss it in the pickle again and try to re-solder the spiral. Did it at the end of the day.

Big mistake.

Forgot about it. When I remembered this morning, the moonstone was toast. (Reminder to me: pickle=acid=not good on soft gemstones).

So now, it’s back to square one. Going to remove the moonstone and the bezel (if possible) and start over.

What I learned:

* stop and think before doing

* if you don’t have the right tools, findings, materials – order it and wait for it

* sometimes less is better

* learn from your mistakes!

work in progress - with moonstone and sterling silver spiral bail

work in progress – with moonstone and sterling silver spiral bail

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Overworked – and ruined! Back to square one…..

Aside

FYI…these posts are called The Bad Blogger Chronicles because I am a very undisciplined writer. You never know when one my blogs will appear (because I sure don’t.) You never know what I’m going to be writing about either (I am just as surprised as you to see what comes out of my mind and onto this blog.)

Today’s Focus: Marketing your brand online

This info is for all the crafters out there. You’re on etsy, or art fire, or zibbet or bonanza or maybe you just have your own website and sell your handcrafted goodies there. Regardless, there are things you can do (and should do) to get people into your shops, to get shoppers to buy, buy, buy and to turn first time customers into repeat buyers.

Why listen to me? Two reasons: (1) I make and sell jewelry online at etsy  and (2) my “real” job is in advertising/marketing. I currently run my own little agency (bh creative – website: bobbihelms.com) and am a freelance copywriter. I was creative director of a Philadelphia ad agency for about 28 years.

Things to consider to get noticed.

Never pass up an opportunity to promote yourself/your shop.

In the past few weeks/months, there have been multiple offers from Google, Facebook and American Express among others for free advertising.

Have you taken advantage of them? I have – and have seen my visitor count increase dramatically. Have I gotten direct sales from these free ads?

No. But that doesn’t mean I won’t. Any chance you have for free advertising – take it!

There are countless lists of FREE or LOW COST sites where you can list your items for sale. This list appeared recently on

Handmadeology.com:

http://www.craftjuice.com
http://craftgawker.com
http://www.craftstylish.com/share
http://www.craftytips.com
http://www.designstolove.com
http://www.plaincraft.com
http://tryhandmade.com/promote-handmade
http://coolmompicks.com/yourpicks.php
http://thehandmadedirectory.com/directory
http://etsylush.com

If you advertise somewhere/anywhere (free or paid), make sure you keep track of the results with google analytics, or a similar program.

You need to know if something’s working or not. Look, I’m the first to admit – I am NOT a numbers person. But even I check my google analytics, site stats and craftcult.com to see what’s doing.

Do something with all that positive feedback you get.

I take the best blurbs (without using any names) and put them on the back of my business cards. I’ve even made mini-cards with the testimonials on one side, and my shop name/web address/phone number etc on the other side. These small cards get slipped inside jewelry bags with purchases of smaller items.

mini business cards using testimonials

mini business cards using testimonials

Don’t want to spend  a lot of money on business cards? If you are on etsy – you need to visit moo.com   They are offering etsy shop owners a FREE set of beautifully printed, high-quality business cards. The only catch? The print a small line on the bottom of one side promoting their own site. Even though I have my own cards, I took advantage of this offer to print up a set of “thank you” cards offering free shipping to return buyers.

free business cards from moo.com  

free business cards from moo.com

If you have a website, these positive testimonials should also have a prominent place there, as well.

When you can, spend a little money to upgrade your packaging

I use brown boxes for my bracelet and necklaces, which I order in bulk. I take advantage of discount offers at companies such as Vistaprint  to order custom made return address labels, small round logo stickers and small customized address labels. Just be aware that some such companies tend to charge you more for shipping, than for the products themselves. So buyer beware!

I use a round logo sticker on my boxes, and tie each box with ribbon I buy on sale at craft stores such as Michael’s.

The result? My little logo doggy is everywhere. People start to recognize it. And another reason I takes such care with my packaging is that I like  my customers to know that they are special. I want them to feel as if they are getting a gift when they order a package from me.

fat dog beads packaging

fat dog beads packaging

(Oh – and by the way, for the most part I include a free unexpected gift with every purchase.)

Many of you may be thinking about the cost for all of this. I try to recoup some of the cost in my shipping fees. In the US, I may charge $3.00 for shipping. Actually mailing cost is probably around $2.00.  And, for some smaller purchases – such as earrings – I usually skip the box, and mail them inside a colorful jewelry pouch in a smaller mailing envelope.

I always try to keep Tiffany’s in the back of my mind. Doesn’t matter what you buy or how much you spend – you still walk away with that signature blue box or bag. Every customer is someone to value.

Try out new things – but don’t spread yourself too thin.

I’ve tried out a fair number of online marketplaces for my jewelry. After a lot of mostly “misses” – I settled on etsy and art fire. For over a year, I “paid to play” on both sites. I tried chatting in the forums, making treasuries/collections, and more. And while I know some of you  have the time and patience to handle more than one site, I couldn’t. I dropped art fire and stayed with etsy.

For me, it’s working. I’m not a power seller. But I sell enough to encourage me to keep at it. But I also put in a lot of time there.

I play in the BNRs/BNS’s…I chat with, and have made many, online friends. I buy a lot of my supplies from other etsy sellers.

And I’ve also sold many things to those same sellers.

As far as new things, right  now I am trying/or have tried:

• Pinterest

• Tophatter

• Twitter

• Facebook

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.  And – please – let me know if you have any good marketing ideas.

Bad Blogger Chronicles: Little Ways Crafters Can Build Their Brand Online

DIY Necklace/Jewelry Displays – great for jewelry makers

Be My Valentine Necklace by fatdogbeads

Be My Valentine Necklace by fatdogbeads

So here I was, sitting in my studio/office (two work stations – one for “real” work as a copywriter…the other a larger workstation for jewelry making)…thinking it’s time to get organized. This used to be my oldest daughter’s bedroom – and was sponged painted (remember when that was the rage?) robin’s egg blue with white to look like clouds/sky. I painted this room when she was maybe 11 or 12.
She is a lawyer now (and married, and a mother with her own home). So, I guess it’s about time to repaint!
I chose a lovely color called Bleached Linen (or something like that), a soft white. Once I painted wall #1 – I decided I needed to use that space as more than just a place to hang pictures. One thing about me, when I make something new, I like to look at it for a bit. That’s easy enough when it comes to bracelets or earrings. But long necklaces – they are a bit tougher. I was hanging them on an old coatrack. But then the coat rack started getting cluttered with all my craft tote bags and, well, basic crap.
Around this same time, a kitchen/bath remodeling store was going out of business near me. I popped in to see what they had (who can resist a going-out-of-business sale?) and walk away with almost 80 sample drawer pulls. Some of them are Murano glass – and were selling for up to $50 a piece!

Murano Glass Drawer Pulls

I paid a little over a dollar for each one.
I thought I could put them on the wall, and hang the necklaces from them. Trouble was, I couldn’t get the right hardware to screw them into the wall. I tried industrial strength Velcro…and while that worked, I didn’t like the look of the bare drawer pulls on the wall.

Next, I went to some of my fav stores (Marshall’s, Kohls, etc) and bought some small frames from their clearance sections. I popped out the glass and cardboard, velcro’d them to the wall, and velcro’d the drawer pulls inside of them.

Here’s a photo of what this looks like. This wall is still a work-in-progress, but I am happy with the results so far.

I also plan to get a plain board, paint it and attach some drawer pulls to it. I’ll search for an easel stand, and use it to display the necklaces at craft fairs. The longer pulls could be used to display earrings, too.
Any other good ideas for these beautiful drawer pulls?
(Besides as actual drawer pulls, that is……)

Beat The Blahs! Private Jewelry Sale Thru end of February!

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                                                                                                February Newsletter #2

Bobbi Helms • 4031 La France Rd. • Lafayette Hill, PA 19444 • bobbihelms@yahoo.com

Blah Days mean SALE DAYS!
il_570xN.300895822Hi all! 

I”ll be the first to admit it. I am not a big February fan. It”s usually a pretty gray, drab dreary time of the year. A good time to take stock of what has been sitting in my work space – taking up space – and do something to get it moving!  I think it”s time for a SALE!  A whopping-limited-time-till end-of-February

25% OFF SALE!
(can I hear a big
“woo-hoo!”)

(example: the  bracelet shown here WAS $65.00.  NOW: $48.75)
Please note: 
this is a PRIVATE SALE! Only those who get this newsletter will know about the sale. You must use the coupon code PRIVATE if you are purchasing through etsy. Or, you can browse the etsy shop – deduct 25% from the price and just send me a check.)
Please visit my etsy shop HERE

EVERYTHING WILL BE ON SALE UNTIL FEBRUARY 29th! EVERYTHING!!!!!

Some Examples Of The Savings You”ll Find:

DSC08898 2$18.00
NOW $13.50
il_75x75.173707221$66.00
NOW $49.50
il_75x75.300895456 2$44.00
NOW $33.00
Remember: you MUST use
the coupon PRIVATE if you are ordering thru etsy.com.
Or – just send me a check and drop me an email letting me know what you want. Now – GO SHOP!

See All The Goodies HERE!

il_75x75.300896408

  $32.00
NOW $24.00
il_75x75.255475528$26.35
NOW $19.50
il_75x75.300896488$15.00
NOW $11.25
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More Sale Examples:
• Pumpkin Orange Spice Pendant WAS $19. NOW $14.25
• Cobalt Blue Lariat Necklace WAS $44. NOW $33
• Aqua Blue Sparkle Bracelet – Sterling Silver –
WAS $61. NOW $45.75
• Hammered Sterling SIlver Hoop Earrings WAS $20.
NOW $15
No go out there and SHOP!!!!!!

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It’s commmmmmiiiiing! Bead Fest Philly arrives next week

Hard to believe it’s been 4 months since the last Bead Fest (though technically that was called Bead Fest Wire and was a bit smaller.) And yes, I signed up for more classes and and going to be “oohing” and “ahhing” my way into spending another small fortune on the 300+ trade booths that will be there.

seaglass blues pendant by fatdogbeads

Sea Glass Blues Pendant by fat dog beads

Interestingly, while the show usually takes place over a weekend (Fri-Sun), this year’s event includes extra workshops on Wednesday and Thursday as well.)

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY LAST FEW BEAD FESTS:

• Classes are good. Learning new things is good. 3 or 4 hour classes – very good. All day 8+ hour classes – not so good. (at least for me….definite attention span deficit here.)

• Don’t be so quick to buy all the tools and extras they sell in the class. Take a deep breath and WALK AWAY FROM THE SALES TABLE. If you recall last Bead Fest, I took a class in Soldering. Loved it. Bought a whole friggin’ mess of soldering stuff that I have yet to take out the of bag. Lugged that darn heavy firebrick all over the sales floor with me. And though it sounds way cool to say , “Yeah, I have my own mini torch for soldering,” it would be way cooler to say, “I know how to use it.”

• Take notes. You really WON’T remember all the little tips the instructor gives out.

• It’s okay to take the same type of class again with a different instructor. (Back to the Soldering stuff again. Figured taking another basic-type class would maybe motivate me to actually take the stuff I bought out of the bag and use it.

• Know your prices. You know how people tell you that not everything you’ll find at an outlet mall is a good deal? They’re right. And that goes for bead shows as well. I am easily amused by shiny objects. I need to pause before I purchase.

• Bead fest this year is having a package check (for a small fee, they say.) I am all about that! But having someone hold your packages does not give you free rein to buy even more stuff. (That’s a note to ME.)

Classes I’m Taking:

• sculpting with Art Glass – not really sure what this is, but looked interesting and is being taught by Paula Radke a renown artisan. I do know there’s something about learning how to fire pieces in a microwave kiln, so that looked new and different

• Omega Bail Wire Wrapped Pendant – always looking for new ways to wrap a stone. This is a 3-hour class. (Yay!)

• Bezel Boot Camp – this is the all day class, but I’m really looking forward to it. Another basic-soldering class (which I desperately need) and learning more about flux and pickle (more to come on them later…. though I do think that would be a great rock band name….)

Anyway, rounding up the required items to bring to class over the next few days. Checking debit card balance. Resisting the urge to buy more beads before the show starts….and I’m OFF!

Watch for Beadfest Philly Part II coming soon!

grape ice and lavender wire wrapped bracelet

Grape Ice and Lavender Wire Wrapped Sterling Silver Bracelet