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.

Hammered Sterling Silver Earrings - Double spirals with perky polka dot lampwork beads

The Challenge Goes On….and On

I’ve taken up the challenge from my friend (the talented jewelry maker Lisa at Beadsoul) to make one new item every day during July.

The thought being, it will give us both a good hear start on pre-holiday stuff.

So….here’s my next installment on that plan:
Double spiral hammered  sterling silver earrings with perky little black and white polka dot lampwork beads

(I purchased from the artist who made them…i didn’t make them).

I soldered one sterling silver spiral…and the other one ends in a loop that attaches to the soldered spiral. Ear wires are handmade sterling silver as well (yes, by me.)

DSC04472

Bling, Rings & Other Things – Bad Blogger Chronicles Are Back!

So – how was your summer? I:

(1) went on a few trips – nothing big, but loads of fun.

(2) went to Beadfest in August and have been trying lots of new things (jewelry-wise) since then

Dance More Mixed Metal Message Bangle Bracelet

Dance More – a mixed metal message bangle bracelet

(3) need to start spending more time on my real job (freelance copywriter with a little bitty ad agency) so I can pay for all the fun I had this summer

(4) set up a “studio B” in my almost-cleaned-out garage so my torch, LOS solution and pickle, and rolling mill have a home. (And boy is it easier to just run out there and do something quickly than to have to clear a space and set everything up!

(5) I rejoined Artfire for a few months. They have a special 3-month deal going. Want to see if I can sell anything from there. Etsy keeps changing things (and not that I’m opposed to change) it just seems to be a constant struggle – and so time-consuming – to try to get noticed there.

(6) Cutting back substantially on Tophatter. They have significantly raised their fees – and now charge even more fees. Honestly, I was maybe breaking even before – selling most of my stuff at a huge discount. But with the fees – I am definitely losing money. So as much as I enjoyed the instant gratification, I just can’t afford to “play” there anymore.

(7) Realize that I am too late for some of the bigger, better december holiday craft fairs in my area. Have to start looking into them by Sept 1st at the latest.

So here’s what I have been working on lately….and also what seems to be my biggest sellers.

wire wrapped Swarovski rose gold earrings

Stunning Swarovski Rosaline Gold Earrings

More Rings….

Amazonite and copper ring

Amazonite and copper ring I made for daughter Emily

 

Back from Beadfest 2012

Prong Set Sterling Silver Ring made in Kim St. Jean’s class

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged (bad, bad blogger!) And I admit I kept deleting the monday morning reminders that said “Write blog.” But I also admit I was busy, busy, busy – working at the “real” job…and also trying to get some new stuff into my etsy shop and prepare for an upcoming Irish festival I’ll be selling at. (Anything you need to know about Celtic symbols or phrases, ask away – I’ve been studying up!)
Anyway….finally something to write about: Beadfest 2012 is over. And of course I spent oodles of time and money during the 5 days it was here.
WHAT WAS NEW:
• seemed like a lot more vendors this year. Too many, IMHO. Got to the point I was just walking up and down the aisles with no idea of where I was or what I was looking for.

more artisans this year – that was really nice. Got to meet Heather Behrendt from HeatherBehrendtGlass. Have been buying beads from her for quite a while. Nice to finally put a face to the artist! Hope she did well at the show.

more classrooms – and therefore, more classes. But for what I was interested in, too many classes were the same from before. We need new stuff Beadfest people!

What I Did That Was Good:

• I came with a list this year.

• I wrote down the names of all the different gemstones I bought so I would remember once I got home.

• I was more aware of my prices – to know what was a good buy, and what wasn’t.

What I Did That Wasn’t:

• Once again, I got way too distracted by shiny, shimmery things. Bought tons of pricey (but IMHO good value) gemstones and lots of inexpensive ones too.

• I didn’t take the time to really, carefully, look at each gemstone on the strand. Some had small imperfections that mean I won’t use them in any jewelry I sell.

• I got sucked into the hype over the beautiful-but-expensive-hammers at the beautiful-but-expensive-hammer booth. (Yup, ordered another one)

What Classes Were Really Worthwhile:

• Took 4 classes with 3 different instructors. Two of the instructors – I’d follow anywhere: Kim St. Jean and Tracy Stanley. They make learning fun…and are really good at SHOWING you how to do something so you can do it yourself. Even when you get stuck (which I always do) they TALK you through doing it yourself rather than do it for you. So you leave their classes not just with knowledge–but with self-confidence. I’ve already re-created several bangles to sell at the upcoming Irish Festival (SLAINTE!). The rings – need more practice on. And need to practice with copper, not sterling silver!! (bad Bobbi….)

Bangles with a Message – Tracy Stanley- I made two to have all 4 of my grandkid’s names on them

What Class I Will Never Take Again:

• A chain-maille type class. Ohmigod! Sitting there for 1 1/2 hours counting out jump rings and putting them together in an intricate pattern is NOT ME!!! After we did the larger practice copper jump ring pattern, we were supposed to start on the smaller, sterling silver jump ring pattern. I left the class early – knowing I would be trying to figure out a way to slit my wrists with those open jumprings if I had to sit there any longer. (Though I did get a neatsy-keen jump ring opener that you wear like a ring on your finger while you worked. That was ALMOST worth taking the class.) Chain maille is much too precise for me. I am definitely a free-form type of girl.

My Favorite Purchases:

• Mystic Topaz, Ametrine and some amazing Labradorite briolettes.

Ametrine, Mystic Topaz & Labradorite

• An awesome butane torch from Kim St. Jean that she says is sold in Costco or BJ’s down south near her.

• Some moonstones – ooooh! love the blue flash in them

• Really cool torched and patina’d copper beads and spacers (but whew! were they pricey!!!)

My Least Favorite Purchases:

• The same mystic topaz beads from above – when I examined them more closely

• The chicken salad wrap from the food court there. (note: strips of chicken with some mayo thrown on top is NOT chicken salad!)

Will I be back next year? Oh yeah……..

Torch Enameling (and Sawing) with Kim St. Jean

Icy Aqua Seafoam Coiled Earrings

Bad Blogger Chronicles: Tophatter Tips For Etsy Sellers

I admit it: I am semi-addicted to Tophatter. For those who don’t know what this is – Tophatter is an online auction site in real time. You bid against other potential buyers while interacting with everyone in auction room. Tophatter is found here: tophatter.com

It is growing so quickly, that sellers, for the most part, cannot even list their items in the regular auctions. So, for those “newbies” from etsy – or anyone – here is some info to help you decide if Tophatter is worth it for you.

ON ETSY:

– list an item for $.20

– pay 3.5% of price on each sale

– pay Paypal fee (if you use it)  2.9% transaction fee on the total sale amount plus a $0.30 fee per transaction

ON TOPHATTER:

– pay 10% of sales price, minimum of $1.00 per sale.

– pay Paypal fee (if you use it)  2.9% transaction fee on the total sale amount plus a $0.30 fee per transaction

=============

ON ETSY:

I typically sell a few items a month.

ON TOPHATTER:

I can sell a few items A DAY.

===============

ON ETSY:

I get the price I ask for (and sometimes discount a bit with coupons/sales)

ON TOPHATTER:

It’s a crap shoot. Some items sell for almost full price. Others go for a song – maybe a few dollars.

================

Tips for Etsy sellers on Tophatter: 

Icy Aqua Seafoam Coiled Earrings

Icy Aqua Seafoam Coiled Earrings

• When you sign up for a user name, include your etsy url in your name.

That way – people can go directly to your shop to learn more about you and your items.

• There are so many sellers, you can’t get into the auctions beforehand. You have to play the

Standby game. Here’s how it works. Exactly one hour prior to the auction start, enter the auction room.

On the right of your screen, you’ll see UPCOMING  and next to it STANDBY  (note: these WILL NOT be visible until one hour prior to auction start). At the bottom of the page, you’ll see ADD TO STANDBY ITEMS. Click on this. It will then take you through the steps of adding one of your items to standby.

Here’s the deal: your item will not be advanced into the regular auction unless someone clicks on it and agrees to pay the minimum payment.

Which brings us to the next tip:

Keep your minimum payment as low as possible. I know it’s hard to list a $30 item for $1.00. And yes, you could get burned and have to sell it for $1.00. But if you set your minimum too high, no one will advance it. And that means no chance of a sale.

• In crowded categories, like Jewelry, Standby closes quickly. So you MUST try to list your item as close to the one-hour-before-opening as possible.

Before you even think of listing an item, sit in on a few auctions. Before I list an item in standby, I check to see what kind of jewelry isn’t listed that much (i.e. earrings, pendants, bracelets, etc)

• There are some very specific auction categories you may want to list in, depending upon your items.

• There are a few general auction categories that anyone can list in (Daily Bazaar, Early Bird Bazaar, Night Owl Bazaar, Boutique (must have 10 items sold, and have a $20 minimum for this one).

• Tophatter is on PST. So their “earlybird auction” is at 9am EST.

• Chat in the auction room. People are very nice, and it helps to be there when your item is up to answer any questions.

• Some sellers will throw in freebies/extras as the bidding progresses to encourage more bidding.

• You need an invite to participate at Tophatter. I have 97 left – let me know if you need one.

Bottom line? I am selling a lot of items that have been sitting in my workshop for a while. Making some money – though not alway a lot. I have noticed that supplies (destash) of any kind sells really, really well. Put some of my focal beads up and the sold very well.

Not all of your items will do well on Tophatter. For the most part, people are looking for a bargain. Try to put up something that’s different from what is being offered. You have to experiment to see what does/doesn’t sell. But one thing’s for sure – it’s a blast….and a real rush when the bidding gets hot and heavy on one of your items. Instant gratification!

Any questions – let me know.

Bad Blogger Chronicles: A Little Late, But Hey! It’s Here…

So much for my resolution to blog more. Just not happening. Instead, I resolve to blog BETTER. (meaning: write something worth reading. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?) So here goes. Let’s start with what I learned this week.

There’s a little something for everyone here.

For those trying to lose weight:

(1) Eating breakfast for lunch or dinner is a great weight loss tool. (I’m not talking syrupy waffles here, people. But omelets or cereal and fruit)  FYI – here’s a great oatmeal recipe you make in a slow cooker overnight.

(makes 9 servings)

Cranberry Maple Slow Cook Oatmeal

2 – 2 1/2 cups steel cut oats (you cannot use regular oats for this)

3 cups water, about 1 cup lo fat milk

3/4 cup of dried cranberries (can chop them if you want)

ground cinnamon or cinnamon and sugar (about 1 1/2 tbl or to taste)

1/2 cup maple syrup (I used the lite kind)

Throw everything into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. You can garnish it when it’s done with slivered almonds. This is actually a recipe from Weight Watchers. Each serving has a points plus value of 6 if that means anything to you.

For those who make things/sell things:

(2) Facebook is having a giveway for facebook ads. Details here:

https://www.facebook.com/smallbusinessboost

If you have a shop on etsy or artfire (and a facebook page) you could get either $50 or $150 worth of free advertising. And they’re going to give away 10 prizes of $10,000 in free advertising too. (Chances of winning that one…ummmm…probably not so good.)

For those with pets:

(3) No matter how many dog toys you buy for a puppy,

maggie mae

My pup, Maggie Mae

they would still either eat your couch, chew on your tupperware or shred your toilet paper.

For those who play words-with-friends:
(4) Chances are, you can’t win if you don’t get the “J”, “Q”, “X” or “Z” – at least one or two of them. And if you have all vowels, don’t be a martyr. Swap some letters.
For those who make jewelry:
(5) Try to develop a signature style. If your stuff looks like everyone else’s – why should anyone buy anything from you?

Heart of Gold Lampwork Wire Wrapped Necklace by fatdogbeads

Shooting Stars Sterling Silver Wire Wrap Bracelet by Fatdogbeads

For those who sell on etsy:
(6) If you don’t have sales, try to get new visitors to your shop. If you don’t have new visitors, you need to put yourself out there. Go to the main page. Click on Treasury. In the search bar at the top, type in BNS or BNR. These are fun places to meet other etsy sellers, introduce them to your shop, learn something about theirs, and quite possibly make a sale or two. Plus, almost everyone participating in these BNS/BNRs posts a discount coupon, so you can pick stuff up for less.
Anyway, that’s it for now. More later. (at some point….)

New Year New Attitude: The Bad Blogger Chronicles

Let’s face it. (Okay, let ME face it.) I am not a good blogger. I even have more excuses not to blog than to exercise. (Oh – like you don’t have a few of them yourself!)…so I decided to turn over a new leaf for the new year and call it like I see it. I am the poster child for bad bloggers.

basset hound puppy with bandaged paw

Good Reason For Not Blogging...

This is especially true when you consider that I am a freelance copywriter…I WRITE FOR A LIVING! But I guess it’s like the restaurant chef who eats junk food at home. You know what you SHOULD do. You know you CAN do it. You just don’t.

Being a more consistent blogger is on my To Do list this year. Here are some others, that any  one who works with crafts/jewelry  should take note of. (My etsy buddies – I’m talking to YOU!)

After the holidays, the sloooooow selling season begins. Here’s what I plan to do with all the time I won’t be selling my jewelry on etsy or artfire.

I bought a loose-leaf binder. 

Cataloguing My Supply Purchases

Sample Page From My New Bin

Why? Because I am determined to keep better track of what i spend on supplies to more accurately price my jewelry. At any given time, I may have 2,000 – 3,000 beads. And while I have a good idea of which ones I spent the most on, I don’t know them all. This year, I started documenting my beads.On a blank piece of paper,  I photograph the beads, the receipt and the business card of the shop I bought them from. (Which also helps when I want to order more of a certain kind of bead.)

• I am working on increasing my supply of FREE GIFTS that go along with purchases to repeat buyers or those who spend a certain amount.

I have one large plastic container of what I call “cheap beads.” Now, they are not all inexpensive beads. But for one reason or another, I don’t like to use them much. I know I could separate them out and sell them as “detash” on etsy (great actually for BNR or BNS’s)…but also use them to make simple pendants…or cell phone charms…or the like. They make pretty decent giveaway gifts.

I am determined to print out all the email/blog/internet tips, articles, tutorials etc that I have been amassing on my laptop.

If I print it out, chances are it will get read (one of these days….) I have also stopped ordering new books/magazine until I’ve had a chance to read the many (many!) I have sitting on a shelve in my office. One thing I have started doing is having sticky post-it tabs with me when I do read a magazine/book. That way I can bookmark anything I want to try/read again.

I bought a blank notebook.  

New Geometric Earrings - Work In Progress

Work In Progress - New Geometric Earrings

I started sketching some jewelry ideas. I will also attach any cool things that may inspire my jewelry designs – color combinations, other jewelry, architectural details, etc. I’ve even started marking measurements down of new geometric earrings I’m playing around with. It’s one thing to make something once. They key is to be able to make it again.

Anyway….that’s it for the BBC (Bad Blogger Chronicles) this time. Who knows when my next blog will appear?????

What’s In The Mail Today?

I love email. I love it on my laptop, my iPad and my iPhone. I check for – read – and reply to – email for at least 15 hours a day. Or more. But for all of its convenience and speed, it’ll never match snail mail when it comes to deliveries.

Who doesn’t like getting something in the mail? (Okay, except for bills and/or political and/or garbage mail.) It used to be that the mail that was delivered to my house was pretty ordinary – aforementioned bills/political/garbage – plus the occasional invitation or magazine or thank you note. (Note to everyone: email thank you notes DO NOT replace real, honest-to-goodness handwritten thank you notes.)

But ever since I started making jewelry – almost every mail delivery is worthy of a “woo-hoo!” Anyone who does anything with crafts on a fairly regular basis buys a lot of stuff. Stuff they need. Stuff they might need. Stuff that is on sale and too good to pass up. Other people’s stuff that you may be able to use. Someday. Maybe.

I tend to buy a lot of jewelry stuff from people who sell on Etsy and Artfire and even on ebay. Stuff from all other the world. Which is another fun thing – looking at the packages to see where they came from. (And, because I buy a lot of stuff, I tend to forget where and from whom I’ve bought that stuff.)

California lampwork beads received in the mail today

Pink beads from CA ...in the mail today

In today’s mail…a bead shipment from one of my favorite lampwork artisans in California. This was a big shipment – a double batch of beads. (I was in a PINK mood…and she had just posted a lot of pink beads.) Plus, being the wonderful seller that she is, my California bead maker included a freebie surprise bead. How much fun is that!

I also received a set of cool orange-y topaz beads from another favorite bead maker.

And I received two typewriter key pendants from an etsy seller. (These definitely fall  into the category “Maybe I’ll use them in the future” or “Not quite sure what to do with them now…but definitely some possibilities there.” Bought these on a BNR. See my previous post entitled Assorted Little Secrets I Learned As An Etsy Seller.

Orange beads

Orangey Topaz Beads from NY

Now, I must admit that I also love getting “real” mail more ever since I started work as a freelance writer, and owner of my own little ad agency. Because sometimes real mail means real money – as in checks from clients.

So you can see why my heart beats a little faster and my pulse races a bit when my three dogs start their woofing frenzy as the mailman puts stuff in my mailbox. It’s the highlight of their day…..and mine.

Typewriter Key Pendants

Typewriter Key Pendants...what to do with these?

Oh – and the last photo? That’s the book I ordered, and received in the mail, several days ago. Opened it. Unwrapped it. Haven’t even opened it up yet. Guess not all mail is as exciting as others.

Walk Off The Weight Book - also in the mail

This Book Came In The Mail....days ago....

Match Your Socks To Your Pants, Not Your Shoes

Words of wisdom from unlikely sources, Vol.II.

Went clothes shopping with my husband the other day – which was a cause for celebration in unto itself. In all the years we’ve been married, I’d say I shopped solo for about 99.9% of the clothes he wears. But he needed a new sport jacket, so I convinced him to shop with me.

Purple Lampwork OOAK Pendant with Sterling Silver Star

(Shopping in Mark’s language means you go into one store, try on maybe 3 jackets and buy one.) But for some reason, he actually allowed the salesman to bring over “accompaniments” that would go well with the jacket. He ended up buying pants, shirts, ties, a belt and even some socks. I was very proud of him.

But, as a card-carrying digressor, I must get back to the point of the story. While I was waiting for Mark to get his jacket marked up by the tailor (note to self: why don’t they have tailors in women’s stores?????), I was admiring the socks the salesman had brought over. But I was puzzled by the color choice. According to him, you are supposed to match the sock color to the color of your pants. Because the ankle/foot is part of the leg.

Now, I don’t claim to be a fashionista, but I always thought most men matched their sock color to their shoe color. Simply put, my fashion world was rocked.

I paused to consider what other misconceptions I’ve been carrying around with me, and how could I use this news to improve the jewelry I make? (Everything eventually comes back to the jewelry.)

And here’s what I decided: just because something has been done a certain way, doesn’t make it the only way to do it…or even the best way to do it.

Zebra Striped Lampwork Bead Sterling Silver Bracelet

Black & White Zebra Striped Bracelet With Stunning Blue Crystal Beads

Take wire wraps. Most experts think that a cabochon should be wrapped in precisely measured, cut and wrapped wire bundles. Certain wires are pulled at certain points to “lock in” the cab. It’s a very time-consuming, everything-needs-to-be-done-just-so type of process. And, certainly, while this can look very nice, it’s also very formal and fussy looking for my tastes. So I am experimenting with my own types of wire wraps. (hint: use the cheapest wire possible when you are experimenting. A lot ends of going in the trash.)

Bottom line? Don’t be afraid to change things up a bit. Break out of your comfort zone. Not everything you do will be a winner…but you just may end up with something really unique and very cool.

As for me, I may not wear any socks with my shoes.

 

Recipe For Success: Selling Handmade Online & Off

BEGIN WITH SOMETHING YOU REALLY LOVE MAKING….

Someone commented to me the other day, “wow! you sure are doing well selling your jewelry.” And I had to agree with them. While I’ve been selling pretty regularly to family, friends and neighbors, I’ve been slowly cultivating an online group of customers as well. And while getting paid for what you like doing is terrific – the fact that many  customers are repeat buyers means every bit as much to me. (Cue the Sally Field Oscar tape, “You like me. You really, really like me”)

ADD IN SOME RESEARCH TO SEE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING…

I checked out tons of online jewelry shops in Etsy and Artfire and the like. And created a niche for myself. It wasn’t that my technique was so outstanding…I learned from others, and others will learn from me. But I always felt I had a somewhat quirky way of combining colors, patterns and shapes that helped to make my bracelets, pendants and earrings stand out.

BLEND IN A HEFTY HELPING OF PATIENCE

Amalfi Coast Sea Glass Pendant

I began making jewelry last July. Opened an Etsy shop. And waited… and waited…and (well, you get the picture.) My first online sale came in September – to someone in Australia. I don’t know what got me more excited – the sale, or the fact that I sold something to someone in Australia. I started reading blogs, forum posts, Etsy seller tips and more to see what more I should be doing to encourage online sales. It was pretty slow going there until I hit October and November, when sales online and offline really started picking up.

THROW IN A HANDFUL OF MONEY

I decided to spend some money on advertising and marketing. I joined Artfire, and later, Zibbet. I took the Pro package at Artfire – giving it a test through the holiday season. I went with the freebie package on Zibbet. I tried FB ads, blog advertising, a few freebie websites, and I took some ads on StumbleUpon and Craftcult. I bought showcases on Etsy, and renewed my items on a fairly regular basis. I started a blog (free) and a FB page just for fat dog beads.

STIR CONSTANTLY...

Honeysuckle Rose Pink One Of A Kind Lampwork Bead Bracelet

Honeysuckle Rose Pink Bracelet by fat dog beads

I realized that even though making and selling jewelry was my hobby, I would need to devote more time to it to get it up and running smoothly. I checked my analytics everyday, as well as other stats. I realized that some things worked WAY better than other things. One thing that really helped (and still does) is having a presence in the Etsy/Artfire community forums and BNR’s. (See one of my earlier posts for explanation of the BNR’s). I began making connections with other Etsy and Artfire sellers – terrific, friendly, helpful people. We are often each other’s customers – a nice turn-of-events.

AND VOILA!

I’ve had over 70 sales on Etsy; 2 on Artfire; and countless numbers offline. But a majority of my offline sales use my Etsy shop to browse for their purchases. They also connect with me via my FB page. I make sure to update that very regularly.

What didn’t work for me: Zibbet, FB ads, Stumble Upon, and blog advertising. Not convinced Artfire is for me. I believe you have to put a lot of effort into sites like Etsy and Artfire – and I don’t have time for both. (need time for the job-that-pays-the-bills). i

What worked for me: Etsy showcases (they got me exposure when I needed it. Though I’ve stopped them because of the price.), Craftcult ads – yes, they can be pricey, but whenever I was on Craftcult, my numbers shot WAY up. It was no coincidence. Being in the Etsy forums/treasuries/BNRs on a daily basis.

And now….a recipe you can really sink your teeth into:

From my daughter Erin. This appetizer recipe is a crowd-pleaser. And couldn’t be simpler. Enjoy!

1 lb hot italian sausage (preferrably patties without casing – otherwise, you have to take the casing off before cooking.)
1 bar of cream cheese (not fat free)
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies

Brown the sausage, then add the cream cheese and rotel. Stir well. reheat in the microwave or oven. Serve with Fritos scoop chips.