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.
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….)
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.
• 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……..
I overindulged again at Beadfest Philly. Too many classes. Too much money spent on impulse buys. Too much information for my little brain to process. And yet, there’s a smile on my face…my worktable is overflowing with lovely new shiny beads and stones. Have to clean out my tool drawer to make room for newcomers. And I am already starting to think about what classes I want to take in August.
• Really, really liked all four instructors. All very talented crafts(wo)men. All wonderfully patient and freely sharing jewelry making tips and favorite places to get great tools, supplies at great prices. Had only taken a previous class from one instructor – so the others were new. Would certainly recommend them and/or take another class from them in the future.
• Vendor area was smaller than in August – and it was easier to re-trace my steps to find the same vendor again if I wanted more of something, or had questions. (note to self: when you buy any sort of gemstone, bead, etc. make sure you write down WHAT it is. Had to go back to two booths the day after I bought some stuff because I couldn’t remember what kind of stone it was. No way I’d remember months from now when I go to pick it up and actually make something with it.)
• Saw more chairs on the floor this year. And there was a package check (which I didn’t need to use, since my stuff was in a classroom most days). Both good ideas. Lots of older folks walking around. Chairs were helpful.
• Beadfest organizers actually provided some snacks/water to some of the classrooms. Very nice touch And very welcome.
• The people – whether in class, or on the floor, everyone I met was friendly and helpful.
• Once again (actually – happened twice) – I was in such a hurry to clean up my work areas and leave at the end of class, I left things there. First time, I actually threw out the two pairs of earrings I had made. Luckily, I had the instructor’s cell number. Was able to get her to pull the trash so it wouldn’t be emptied, and I planned on going through it the next day. Lucky for me, one of her very kind assistants went through and found my earrings (YAY!).
Second time – we were making a bracelet with about 7 pieces plus jump rings. Placed all the pieces in the liver of sulfur solution. Pulled them out and started cleaning them. Tossed them in a plastic bag to finish at home, and realized later (much later) that I left two pieces there.
In both cases however, I was able to recreate what I learned in class. So even if earrings hadn’t been found…it would be okay. (Bracelet pieces – they’re gone.) So let’s chalk this experience up to lack of concentration and focus on my part. (When will I ever learn???)
• Four classes in four days is too much. Two of the classes were all day – from 8 am to 4:30 pm. I was glassy-eyed by the end. It was information overload.
• One class was a disappointment only because I already knew at least 3/4’s of what was being taught. (Note to self: read the course description better next time). I take these courses to learn new techniques, play with new tools, learn better ways to do things.
• I am too easily distracted by shiny things. Need to get better control over my impulse buying.
WHAT I BOUGHT:
• Biggest indulgence: a Freitz hammer. It is sooooooooo sexy (yeah. if you have one, you know what I mean.) This is NOT the hammer that will be used to bang in a loose board on my IKEA bureau. I may end up looking at this hammer more than using it.
• Most expensive purchase: I bought a sterling silver handmade bracelet from my instructor – Kim St. Jean. It is just friggin’ gorgeous!
• Most questionable purchase: (after the Freitz hammer) – very high quality blue, sea foam and pink quartz briolettes. The crystal ones I found sparkle almost as much for a lot less.
• What I didn’t buy and I wish I did: gorgeous handmade, hand-dyed silk ribbons. I didn’t buy because of the cost. Could buy a sterling silver chain for what the ribbons cost. Hard to justify the cost if I planned on selling the finished project.
WHAT SURPRISED ME THE MOST:
• Lots of men walking around at the show. Most with a female companion (not all looked happy to be there). And one man in one of my classes. Not saying men can’t make jewelry. Just surprised to see them in class. (My husband says that is discriminatory.)
• Too many of the same vendors – and was really surprised by the number who didn’t have websites.
WHAT I DID THAT I VOWED I WOULDN’T:
• Buy more Swarovski crystals. I have sooooooo many. But oh! how they shimmer and shine at that Mega-Gems (Mega-Jewels?) booth.
• Start looking at the August list of classes. Can’t believe I’m about to sign up to do all over again.
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
• 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.
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.
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.
(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:
I’ll let you know how it all turns out. And – please – let me know if you have any good marketing ideas.
Some Examples Of The Savings You”ll Find:
See All The Goodies HERE!
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|fat dog beads
4031 la france rd
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Has some good tips for those who make/sell handmade items on sites such as Etsy and Artfire