Friday, July 31, 2009

While I'm Gone.

http://artisantruthreport.blogspot.com/

I don't know who this is, but I'm proud to be a follower.

See you Monday!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ain't Life Grand?


Munkin Arts on Etsy

I know you are sitting there going WTF? Click on the link.

ArtworkbyKD

ArtworkbyKD

I love this shop it's like Eco meets Barbarella. Very clever, very clever.

Well, that worked out.

Short lesson in discourse and licensing. Turns out I was registered with the IRS and with the State but not with the County. I'm not sure why, but there you have it. This is not quite the crisis Ugly would have you believe it is. I still don't get why people are so afeared of tax folk, they really are very nice and helpful.

Anyhow, Ugly reported me ages ago but apparently VA doesn't envision it to be quite the earth shattering news she'd like it to be and I got a letter this morning. No one stormed my house.

It basically says we got this info and would you please respond within two weeks and they give you some forms to fill out plus the business license application so you don't have to go digging for that.

If you make below $10,000 a year you don't pay tax, you just file and then cry a little. You also don't have to pay for the license. You do have to pay tax on your PC and printer which I think is goofy but it comes out to about maybe $11 a year.

If you are an Fortuneteller the license costs $500. Just random info I thought was interesting.

My point is the tax department isn't out to get you, Ugly may be but that really doesn't matter. Just explain to them what happened, they are used to people like us not getting the whole thing done or making mistakes. You won't be in any trouble, there's nothing to hide from and there certainly isn't any shame involved.

Check the laws in your county and if you need something you don't have, just place a call. Really, it will be fine.

Oh, and why am I being so public about this? Because we all make mistakes. Because most everything can be fixed and because well, if it helps someone else, then why not? It's not an issue of integrity, integrity is lost when malice is afoot an lies are spread. It's impossible to get back.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's important to me.


These are my three. Left to right,
Lida, Kinley and Baxter.











Far left is Kinley's pic at the pound, he was six months old, skinny, he stank and he was completely down on his pasterns from malnutrition. He'll be two in November.

Two dogs, left is Baxter. He will be three in Feb. he has always been an old man dog, even when he was a puppy. He's lightened up a little since Kinley arrived a year ago.














This is Lida, she will be three in Jan. She's my Leonberger. Every time I see this picture it reminds me of how I'd like to be perceived. No, not as a hairy dog with serious dog aggression.

But the expression, the bearing. It's good to remind oneself of how one would like to be perceived.

She's a little bigger now and a lot hairier. I should take some recent pics.








This is Baxter. You can see his puppy pic in my profile and then you'll see he really has always taken things very seriously.

I have the boy but I don't post his pics on my public blog.

All three of these dogs have a story and all three belong here on The Island Of Misfit Toys.

I like dogs. What you see is what you get. I don't recommend getting three dogs. Kinley was supposed to be a foster but it became evident that he wasn't a dog for the average home.

I'll tell you each dog's story as we go on. they all have good stories. They are all very differant from eachother and they are all very much beloved.

I wanted you to see what is important to me, outside of the online debacle and to remind myself as well. My dog's are my Champions and I try very, very hard to be worthy of that. Dogs are noble creatures, my fondness, obviously, lies with the big ones.

Dogs will be loyal brave and true to you regardless. But like I said, I still want to feel worthy of that devotion. Most of the time I do. That's how I know I'm doing alright. My measure.

I'm *sniff* so proud.


The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/5323799/etsy-...got-her-banned

This is a real Consumer fraud watch group associated with Consumer Reports.
I can't tell you how utterly delicious this is.

The Consumerist's parent company, Consumer Media LLC, is a subsidiary of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, and ConsumerReports.org, and the nation's leading not-for-profit consumer advocacy organization. Since its founding in 1936, Consumers Union has fought for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To maintain independence and impartiality, CU accepts neither outside advertising nor free samples. It employs a staff of "mystery shoppers" who buy products in retail stores around the country, just as any other buyer would, and then ship them to the Consumers Union labs, where technical experts test some 3,000 products yearly.

To further advance its mission, CU employs a dedicated team of grassroots organizers, advocates and outreach specialists who work with the organization's more than 600,000 online activists to change legislation and the marketplace in favor of the consumer interest. Consumers Union is also the leading publisher of information to help consumers choose the right products, stay safe, and protect themselves against unfair business practices. In addition to The Consumerist and Consumer Reports, CU's publications include ConsumerReportsHealth.org, ConsumerReportsEnEspanol.org, ShopSmart magazine, Consumer Reports on Health and Consumer Reports Money Adviser. CU's publications have received many major awards, including multiple National Magazine Awards, several Webby Awards and numerous awards for public-interest and health-care reporting.



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Those of you just arriving

No longer listed (thanks to Crafty for the heads up!)

I removed the link because we do not want to give this person any credence by bumping up her Google ranking. Hence the parody to your right.

In short, it's a fake 'Concerned Citizen' blog that has several of us listed as fraudulent in the babbling, frothing at the mouth ranting gibberish she is famous for. But she is also filing false reports with State and Federal Agencies in an attempt to have us shut down.

She is also convoing sellers and demanding tax numbers or else she'll 'report you' which she will anyway because she's a twatnut. Keep those convos and send them to me along with any transactions from either of these fine, moral, upstanding citizens.

Some of you may remember her as the seller who bought lamp work beads and sold them as her own word. She was banned from E (which you know is just about impossible) and from AF a few days ago. Plus, she's abused the word 'hence' which I used to like a lot.

And yes, it's just that one person writing nonsense. Well, both blogs are but mine is funny while her's just SUCKS.

HER WORDPRESS BLOG HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR VIOLATING TOU'S. HER TWIITER HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN DUE TO (NO JOKE) STRANGE ACTIVITY.

NEW http://consumerist.com/5323799/etsy-...got-her-banned

When this plays out I will be moving my blogs to WP as Blogger is too fucking lazy to make a stand regarding anything. It's clearly defined libel, they have been presented with several pieces of evidence form several sources and they are hiding behind Free Speech.

Which we all know doesn't apply to a privately owned site. They are just scared.

DO NOT SELL TO ULLJA OR MELEK KUNTZE. THE ADDRESS WILL BE WOODBURY TX. CANCEL HER SALE AND NOTIFY ETSY AND AF IMMEDIALTY, THEY ARE ALREADY INFORMED AND UP TO DATE ABOUT THE NONSENSE. IF YOU END UP ON HER PIECE OF SHIT BLOG CONVO ME THROUGH ETSY AND I WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO NEXT.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Palate cleansing as we move on...









Click on the second pic and notice the title of the book.

Futhermore (italics mean crazy talk)

1) Don't think that you can hide behind pc by not giving your full name or providing fake names; by closing your twitter/facebook/plurk etc accounts or making them private, by writing false business address in your seller's account profile or giving PO BOX address...all we need is proof that you are selling PERIOD! When we report to the authorities, we send Print Screen copies of your seller's accounts, your paypal account info, address/phone numbers, dates of operation of your online shops in all the venues (such as ebay, etsy, artfire, 1000markets, your own websites and so many more), and any other info we research and find about you.

When you hear this your best response, if you are feeling civil should be 'So?' This is also called stalking and harassment and libel.


2) For those businesses who have applied and got their State Sales Tax permit recently: As long as you have been selling previously for years or even ONE DAY without this permit, you WILL be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service of your State for all your previous business selling activities (your paypal accounts, your bank accounts etc).

No such entity exists. rarely, if ever is anything taken this far unless it is a egregious (like stalking and harassing and posting lies) case. Your State Tax people, which is who would care, are not out to get you (unlike italic woman) and are used to helping people with this. They are happy to walk you through the process. Worst case scenario is you pay anything you should have and even that can be worked through.


3) You are REQUIRED by the United States government to give out your State Sales Tax id number (which is NOT your social security number) publicly when it is asked of you if you dont have a storefront. If a business refuses to give out the Reseller's permit id #, the consumer has every right to report this business to the authorities for them to check up on the legitimacy of this business.

No, no and no. You are not required to give anyone any information about anything, period.Iif they happen to be an vindictive soon to be sued 'person' then they CAN, sure report you. they certainly don't have the 'right' to and unless you are doing something wrong they better be prepared for the consequences.

No one can make you sell to them. The only people you should ever be divulging this number to are your wholesale suppliers and the government. Not some yahoo who emails you under a fake name.

4) For those so-called Handmade Artisans who decide to MANUFACTURE and SELL any FOOD items, Cosmetics handmade (such as soaps, cremes, shampoos, perfumes), you DO need a license from your STATE HEALTH department and/or State Agriculture Department, to MANUFACTURE these products to be able to sell to the consumer.This is a law for ALL States in the USA and is enforced immediately due to the danger that it imposes to the Public Health.

Where to start? Soap is not a cosmetic unless it makes cosmetic claims and is not regulated by the FDA. Most people who make Melt and Pour, add to any base, etc. are using a commercially bought base from a reputable supplier. Unless you are making it out of scratch (perfume for example) that's just fine and dandy.

The health Department doesn't have anything to do with it. If and when it's needed the Department of Agriculture handles such issues. A quick call to your local branch will suss that all out. Also, soap is not FDA regulated, just in case Little Miss Italics brings that up.

5) When you rent a commercial kitchen out of an establishment that has a permit, YOU also need your own permit by your State Health Department with your business name. Attention: STATE FOOD HANDLERS CERTIFICATE IS NOT A PERMIT FOR YOU TO START SELLING FOOD PRODUCTS TO PUBLIC!

Again, no. What you need is your State handler's permit and an Occupancy Permit showing the commercial kitchen is your base of operations. Unless you are making the food out of your body parts, you, as a person, do not need a HD Permit. The HD permit is provided by the commercial kitchen which is why you are there in the first place. I mean, we all have bowls and mixers at home, right?

6) These permits by the State Health Department are also PUBLIC RECORD for all to see and check up on you. You must NEVER refuse to give out this information and most importantly, you should NEVER write on your online venue shops/your websites/blogs that you are licensed when you are NOT...a big No No!

Usually people dealing in fact don't use baby talk like "No No" but I digress. It's Public Record and you know what that means? it means the Public can go look it up. It does not mean anyone can bully you into giving it to them. But, Public should realize that just because they don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. FEIN's and so forth are often, as is my case, under the same permits.

There are a few legitimate reasons why a Public wouldn't be able to find your info.

7) Those who call themselves Self Representing Artists (SRA), which is a private membership organization, who MANUFACTURE handmade lampwork glassbeads out of their homes or their dwellings MUST have approval/permits by their cities' fire marshall and/or city code enforcement inpector/community council (cities with NO ZONING dont require this). This permit/approval is required to ensure a proper and safe manufacturing of these handmade lampwork beads.Production of these handmade lampwork beads involves a potentially hazardous studio set-up where chemical gas tanks/lines (propane or natural gas PLUS oxygen) are used to fire up a torch that melts eventually a glass rod that the artist forms into a bead...if this setup of the studio is done WITHOUT inspection (plus approval) by the firemarshall and/or city code enforcement inspector, there is a great risk for explosions. You are putting YOUR life and the neighborhood community in DANGER.

When I read this post all I could imagine was the scene in Young Frankenstein where they go through the 'Fire gooood" spiel. Again, while this makes for entertaining albeit histrionic reading it isn't true.

So, remember my darling, if someone is using a lot of CAPS and !!! and hyberbolic language, they are not speaking anything resembling fact. And any information, is your information. The police need a warrant to search your house or car, fcol, you don't 'have' to give any information to anybody just because they say so.

DO NOT SELL TO ULLJA KUNTZE. CANCEL HER SALE AND NOTIFY ETSY AND AF IMMEDIALTY, THEY ARE ALREADY INFORMED AND UP TO DATE ABOUT THE NONSENSE. IF YOU END UP ON HER PIECE OF SHIT BLOG CONVO ME THROUGH ETSY AND I WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO NEXT.

It killed me to use all those caps, so you know I'm serious.

Just a little information

the real kind, you know that isn't made up in a frenzy of malice and spite. You do NOT always need an IRS Tax Number, here is the exception, which sadly, most of us fit in. Tax numbers are great for resale/wholesale and if you do craft shows, but even most craft shows will give you a temporary tax number.

State to state varies, check you state's local gov site. It doesn't hurt to register your business through your state in case you'd like to expand in the future. In my case I file with VA every year even though I have yet to clear a profit.

From Barbara Brabec's Hand made for Profit you know, someone who really knows what they are talking about.

Are You “in Business” or Not?

Q: A reader asks, “At this time I do not foresee having enough income to allow me to deduct any business expenses. Are there advantages to being a registered business that I’m missing out on by maintaining a hobbyist status?

The two main disadvantages of treating your activity as a hobby instead of a business are that (1) your profit margin on finished crafts will be less because you cannot buy supplies and materials at wholesale prices; and (2) you cannot give your hobby business a business name unless you register it with local authorities. (See article, “Business Name Registration.”)

There is nothing wrong with selling to support an art or craft hobby, but if you decide you want to work at home only as a hobby, you are still required to report your hobby income on Schedule C of Form 1040, and list all the expenses you incurred to earn this income. If you end up with a profit, you’ll have to pay taxes on it. If you end up with a loss, however, you are not entitled to a deduction, but you can deduct expenses up to the amount of your hobby income.

Hobby Income

Q: How does the IRS treat hobby income, and at what point does a “hobby business” become a “real business” in the eyes of IRS?

A “hobby business” becomes a “real business” in the eyes of IRS at the point where you can state that you (1) are trying to make a profit, (2) are making regular business transactions, and (3) have made a profit at least three years out of five. There have been exceptions to the last rule. In the end, the most important factors are the amount of time you devote to your activity, plus the way you present yourself to the public as being engaged in the sale of products or services; also the way you keep record of your business. (See “How to keep the IRS happy with your bookkeeping system.”)

NOTE: If you do not meet IRS criteria, your business will be ruled a “hobby” and any loss you may have deducted against other income will be disallowed. (You can show a loss only on a business, not a hobby.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

My HD Rocks!

I have a wonderful Health Department. Don't be afraid if something like this ever happens to you, they really are there to help. So, they know what's up and everything is fine.

I did reword my opening as it was confusing, apparently 'home kitchen' means something different in regard to HD requirements. I just thought is sounded cozy.

In a way this has been a sort of perverse promo, forced networking sort of thing. I have to say I've had such support from the community, increased sales, plus it made me get in touch with the people I need in the future when I'm apt to put that off. It forced me to organise my paperwork, in like a file and everything!

I've certainly become familiar with anti stalking and harassment law. I'm glad I took the time to call all agencies first, because now there is a documented precedent and she can't continue without looking well, as she is.

So while this was a huge PIA, wait, it wasn't, it was actually pretty easily resolved with a couple phone calls, and her libel is still up there, it kinda worked out for me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Think before you link.

No, I'm not saying you are potheads, but linking kinda is a gateway drug.

Since I've been dealing with this issues in emails, I thought it would be good to get out there as general advice. Without going into details, please, Google and research someone before you say 'Yay! I'd love you to link me on the blog!!'

I know it boggles the mind to think one needs to do that, but trust me, you do. We get all excited, and sometimes don't really think about the possible ramifications which are:

That person has NO obligation to unlink you.

You are associated with that person now. Fair or not.

Following is another thing. Make SURE you know what you are attaching your name and your avatar to before you do so. Because being a Follower of a blog implies, rightly or wrong, that you agree or like or support the blogger.

Except in one weird case where I'm just there to let her know I'm THERE.

In my case it implies that I have charisma and wit akin to a Superstar! and that bags of money are being sent to me via pony. See, ya shoulda taken my advice here. Which wasn't here, so OK, no money or ponies, but the NEXT few that sign on...

Remember that this is your brand you are hitching to someone's wagon. Because you never know when that wagon might turn out to be a handbasket. And we all know where those go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Picture Perfect


This is a terrific photo taken by A Breath Of French Air notice that the composition is relevant to the subject. I'm a soap maker, and this makes me want to cry it's such a thing of beauty.

This is what we are shooting for (ha) everything about this picture says 'Buy me, I'm wonderful.' and they do have great stuff, btw.

I realised that I couldn't impart any more wisdom then this Handmade News article by M. Adam Kendall.

Take some time to check out the site, there are some fantastic articles there in regard to many of the topics I've been discussing here. I know, great writer's make my life so much easier,lol.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

and now for something completely differant.

A few sellers and myself have been targeted by a woman who sells as Artfire (AF has since closed her Bead Shop) after being banned from Etsy. I was notified of a blog a little while ago. Etsy sellers know her as she and other artist's lampwork as her own.

It's kinda funny because my bakeshop is closed during the Summer and I rent a commercial kitchen, but whatever. I just wanted to let you know that it's a malicious campaign done by someone who was stood up to and bears no merit.

It is a reminder to make sure your sales tax and whatnot is up to date. Mine is but that's just because I'm all about order, not because I expected to be on a Troll Blog.

So, if you Google me and this comes up, that's why. If any of it makes you uncomfortable and you want clarification from me, I will be happy to provide it. That's really about all I care to say at this point as now I get to pursue legal matters like slander. When I'd really rather be making soap.

Oh, if this ever happens to you here Report Abuse I reported is as hate because they don't remove slander. Yes, it's true. I(t won't get removed, but I felt a little better,lol.

You think I"m kidding?


Here is another method brought to you by the generous Chris Perry( maker of those rings that I want REALLY bad) for those of you who want to do the numbers. I use it mostly for supplies and general expenses and then fiddle with the pricing 'free style'.

I just wanted to reiterate, it's your business and your pricing is your business. Find a method and price that makes YOU happy and don't get hung up on the opinion on every Tom Dick and Harry that have an online store and nothing better to do then tell you how you should price your items.

I see people get really upset by this and my stock answer is...

If you walked into a shop and told the seller they needed to raise./lower their prices, what reception would you expect?

Well, you ARE the shop owner, get it? You don't have to tolerate it either. And again, find what works for you, for myself, it's a matter of both numbers and intuition, whatever works for YOU is valid.

More truly lovely things at Chris Parry's Flickr

Monday, July 20, 2009

Of pricing.

sandahl3000 said... Generally speaking, how would one go about taking all things into account for pricing their items?

One of the thornier conversations among sellers is the one surrounding pricing. You'll hear your prices are too low, too high, that they make my butt look big, pretty much everything under the hand crafted organic felt sun.

What does this means for you? Pretty much nothing except that sellers have a lot to disagree about. What is important here is that your pricing is YOUR business. In every aspect.

There are many different ways to gauge pricing. Some break it down into supplies and hours and so forth.
For me that's not really practical and I never sit down and just work through a project, so forget that per hour stuff.

You have to factor what the market will bear, which currently is very little. Combined with what profit you need to make to be happy and how invested you are. Is this a business or like me, milk money with hopefully a bit to set aside?

I'm going to be honest with you.( I always am but when I say that it sounds extra sincere.) I used to do the tabling and dividing and then one day I realised I was spending way too much time factoring whatnot into whatsit and making myself miserable in the process.

So I simply looked around and got a feel for what I was selling was selling for. How much I could afford to price competitively and how I could curtail my own costs by buying smarter on my end. That approach worked for me and continues to.

If you are someone that makes something more unique, you may have to approach it from a more standard view or if you like numbers there are a lot of formulas out there. For me, I just wanted to get on with it and really, I suck at math. A lot.

I do factor in my supplies, shipping, (as should you) but not my time. I have found a price point that works for me in a way that works for me. pretty much the point here. Don't get so focused on how someone says YOU should price items. Find the options out there that appeal to you and makes sense for what YOU are selling.

You have flexibility in determining price and the method in which to suss it out. What works for you is good enough. The irony here is that we have so many creative people creating so many different things, but when it comes to pricing there are so many absolutes. Well, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way.

If you are really crafty you'll find a friend who loves accounting and barter. That, my friend, IS the ideal pricing solution.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Sunday!

This is mine and Gabriel' s most favorite movie ever. Everyone should own it. It's called The Point and can be bought at Amazon for crazy cheap.

Monday, Monday...

Monday will be pricing and pictures. My approach anyway, to two of the thornier issues in the side of any crafter. Keep those questions coming! You can leave them right here on this post and I'll do my best to answer them next week.

Haven't seen yours addressed yet? Don't give up, I'm working through the list.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Marketing

SusanLeeGlam.com said... How much time should you spend on "marketing", you know, running around the internet posting on forums, and the like, just to get your name out there. I have spent weeks out there helping people, and still no sales. Is that a good use of my time?

If you have been marketing your tail off, and not getting results go back to the basics I mentioned here Things You Should Know.

Know your market, look at your presentation. You have to market but when they come to look, knock their little hand knitted socks off.

If you aren't selling, there IS a reason, you need to determine what that reason is. Some possibilities:

Inventory: Do you have enough to appeal to a broad range of taste? Is it presented coherently? Are your descriptions kinda 'bleh' or do they convey why your product is fantastic?

Seasonal: Is your product seasonal? Make something for year round use. Market a product for a specific season or holiday. Make your product something your buyer needs right now.

Pictures: Yes, I know, but are they as good as they can be? Do they show off your product, do they 'pop'? View them as a buyer happening on your shop and get feedback from other sellers. Maybe revamp your shop, new banner, get your morale lifted a bit.

Trends: Keep current, find out the latest trend in your niche, find out what is selling and for how much. Bamboo and greener materials are hot right now. Green items are hot. Color is all over the place. Do your research.

Marketing is crucial but you need to have product that your audience will fall all over when they get there. Take the time and think about what makes YOUR product special. Then rather than market a shop, you can market your own unique spin. Your brand. Yourself.

At this point, if marketing isn't working, I would suggest you do all of the above. Find your passion, what part of your product you can make your own and market to that audience. Do YOU love doing what you do? Get that to come across and people get excited.

So, get lots of feedback, research the market you are in and what other sellers are doing and then go back out there and take the virtual world by storm.
Yarn is Yarn, what makes something made by Susan special? Put that out there. Sell, it sister!



Friday, July 17, 2009

Sample Questions Give em to me.

Trudy suggested I answer sample questions *waves at Trudy* and use them as proof that the world would be a better place with me advising it. So....whatcha got?

San asks: What would be the 3 most important things to check into before signing up for any online selling venue?

The first thing I would check for is whether or not they would give you a bag of money when you signed up. I' ve done this and the answer, so far is no. Aside from that, three things I've learned as a seller are:

1. Google is your new best friend. Google the site and revel in the many details it's Googly bounty offers up to you. Find out when the site was started and who holds the keys to the kingdom. This is very important if business practices are something you care about.

You want to know who you are going to be associated with because Google is forever. You want to know who the shareholders are, who the backer/s are. All of this information is right there. Don't buy into the shiny sell, look deeper and see if you still want to jump in.

2. Forum, forum, forum. While a sites Forum represents a fraction of it's active members, those are the members that are eager, riled up or just plain chatty. You can determine the general tone of the site, how pleased it's customers are with the function and the service and how business is conducted.

The Forum is by no means THE measure, but it is an important tool to gauge a site's health and general business conduct. Do you see Admin active in the Forums in a way that you feel is positive? Because should you go with a venue, those Admins are the venues representatives. Are they responsive or absent altogether? How many pages is a thread asking for Help before Help arrives?

3. Price point. Venues are different in payment programs, some are monthly, some have a listing fee, some have both a listing and a percentage of sale taken off. Do you have a lot of inventory with high turnover (if so, you rock!) then a monthly pay program might be your best option.

Just starting out? Look at listing fees and commission and make sure that leaves you with enough after sale to feel good about. Make sure there are no hidden fees, renewal fees, etc. Sites that have listing fees also have expiration periods for those listings. How long does a listing stay active before you need to pony up again?

Along with user friendliness and suitability for your product, you want to have the answers to these three questions before you hit that 'Sign me up!' button.

Speaking of site forums....

How would one go about getting answers to their questions when it calls said site into account?

Obviously, you would be bulldozed for it. So, how do you get what you need from a forum such as that? And walk away informed, and intact....lol

You should never be bulldozed or otherwise penalized for expressing your views in regard to your venues actions. Assuming you aren't standing on a mountain with a bull horn yelling 'You suck!!!' I don't recommend that as a form of communication.

If it is something in regard to another seller, transaction or something common sense would dictate discretion, email the support staff first. Then if you get no response, first start looking for another venue because that is unacceptable, and then ask another seller you trust. It is bad form and bad business to discuss a private dealing, period. The momentary satisfaction you get from venting will subside and you'll still be there, looking well, not so hot.

If it is concerning a site function, a promised upgrade or something of that nature you should be able to bring it up for discussion in the Forum. Respect begets respect so before you again, pick up the bullhorn, weigh your initial post and put aside your frustration to think of what is it you want resolved. Then, ask.

Communication on the part of the venue is key. If you feel ignored or intimidated, you may be better served investing elsewhere.


Artful Mosaic Supplies said... What do I need to do to make my shop visually appealing to buyers?

Venues have different ranges of options. So you may have more freedom to personalize one then the other. For example Artfire's Verified membership includes the ability to customize color and layout, add widgets and a banner while others may allow you to upload a template or restrict you to the sites layout.

Regardless of the venue there are some basic do's and don'ts.

Color: If you have the option to load color into your shop layout consider that ideally, your patron will be sitting, transfixed by your goods for hours on end. You want to make that visit appealing but easy on the eye. That hot pink and neon yellow combo may be eye catching, but is it eye friendly?

Color will cast a hue on your goods as the eye travels. Will that black and burgundy banner make your soap, for instance look sophisticated or dreary? Allow your eye to take in the whole page, not just the banner or box and you'll see (ha) what I mean.

Avoid insipid color. All pastel, not so much, throw a bit of contrast in there.

Banner: Get one. Lots of good sellers out there in a wide variety of choices. Forums are a good place for references. You can learn to do it, that's an option. My option was to support another seller and avoid any possible head explosion on this end as it is not as easy as cut and paste. The end marker of my tech ability.

Typos: Don't have any. Unless you are selling pixie dust you may also want to avoid swirly stars, hearts and other My Space page attributes. Show off your product, not how many little hearts you can fit into any given space. Avoid exclamation abuse, soap isn't that exciting!!!!! A sale is! But not this tote bag!!!! Try and keep descriptions short and sweet unless it's a piece with a story. Same with your shop announcement and avoid heaving bosom verbiage at all costs. I beg you.

Photos: You might as well sew this on a pillow. You need good pictures. Again, the forum can be a fantastic place to get help with this. Google is your friend here as well. Don't settle with pictures, people will not assume it 'looks better' in person. Take your pics to suit your product. You don't need your customer wondering why a bar of soap is on a tricycle being driven by a monkey wearing a cowl in a rainstorm. It's distracting. They can't buy if their eyes roll out of their heads.

I could go on, but I'm pretty sure I have a limited space in which to dispense my pearls of wisdom. Those are three good solid basics. Most forums have a Feedback or Critique sections. Wonderful resources with many different perspectives. People love to tell you their opinion, after all, here I am, right?

artbytrudy said...

I want to do an art series on the Wizard of Oz. The tinman, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion and Toto. Can I legally do this?

Oh that's an easy one. I would assume that Warner Bros. is still guarding it's property like a mean Momma lioness. Unfortunately, other than suggesting you contact them directly, I can't offer specific copyright advice. I'm not familiar enough with it and I'd hate to see you have to go on the run to Mexico because you hit the big time, sold millions, and Warner want's to 'Just talk to you.'


Artful Mosaic Supplies said... I hear people talking about "branding" their online shops. What does branding mean and is it something I need to do?

Only if you want to be successful. Branding, not to be confused with that which involves a hot iron and a cowboy, is pretty much getting your name 'out there'. Out there being where others will buy things from you. It's a very good place to be.

This is why it's crucial to be sure to pick a store name you can live with. 'Nancy's Hot to Trot' may sound great at the time, but consider it ten years down the road and perhaps with a different product line. A good example of this is a seller who was offered a wholesale order but was asked to omit her shop name because it had a sorta naughty word in it. This is the time to decide who you want to market to and if you are OK with the limitations you may be putting on yourself.

Banner, avatar and business card. Get these professionally done or make sure you have the equipment to make them look as if they were. Again, ten years on. Can you live with it? Use your business avatar everywhere online. Even forums. While your kitty wearing a party hat avi is so very cute, what does it have to do with your business? (Unless you make kitty party hats and that's another discussion for another day.) Forums are great places to incidentally advertise, so represent, my people, represent.

Look into securing your name online and in the real world. Learn about securing your name from your local business support or simply by going online in your district and looking at what that entails. The fees are nominal and who knows, maybe someday you want a brick and mortar store. By then you'll have name recognition, be sure it's one you are legally entitled to use.

I Googled Goat Mountain Arts like a mad woman to insure there were none in existance. Even if a business shows up with your intended name, investigate and make sure they are, in fact, still in business and if they own the name. Please, do all of this before spending time and money on branding items because if the other 'Nancy's Hot to Trot' shows up with a cease and desist and the order to prove it, you are out of luck. That is not where I want you to be.

Good acts. It may seem a little contradictory to exploit a good act, but...donate goods with your brand and a little byline. School auctions, community center fundraisers, it's all free advertising. Do good and make money, who could ask for more?

Crafty Advice

So, you know that application I submitted to Handmade News? Turns out they like me, but I need a 'spot'. You know like when something opens up or whatever. But this is what I thought would be awesome.

Crafty Advice Column

Think Hints from Heloise meets Dear Abby except you know, it's me and my house is a mess and I'm not very sympathetic to stupidity. I could answer a couple questions once a week. Things like 'What do I do when this happens at a craft show? ' or "My husband doesn't take my work seriously' or "My friends always want me to make them stuff for free."

Now I have no expectation that the lovely V at HMN is gonna go 'Hey, she needs her own column.' but, what do you guys think? I think it would bring in readers like a train wreck on fire.

If you think it's a good idea, leave a comment woulda? You know, give me some back up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

*Insert trumpet call here*


Free Year of Soap!

Every follower has a chance to win A Soap for Every Season.

August 14 will be the drawing, which of course will be random. Unless you send a huge bag of cash, in which case "You are the Winner!"

Simply sign on to follow this fabulous blog, thereby enriching your life and increasing your chances of smelling much better year round.

Have a soap 'thing'? Burdened by guilt over so very many soap purchases while others go filthy? As another one of my selfless Reach Out to The Community Humanitarian Arts I am proud to present...

For $18.00 I will send you a sample selection totaling five to six ounces, of the next season's offering.

For example, late this Summer I have Ginger Orange (to die for) and Indian Summer, a Honey Apple and something else I haven't decided on.

So, you'd get one or more ounces of each scent. Probably more as I get a bit carried away.

Fall would include your Holiday scents as would Winter and Spring, well you get the idea. You are more than welcome to ask for a particular scent to be included or excluded.

The $18.00 includes shipping and soap within CONUS.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ugh, that picture.

No not the one of Rob too cool for school. The Sesame Street School marm. But it's the article in full anyway.

Etsy Wars

Lemon Grass


I really, really like this soap. I added coconut milk to the goat's and it smells and feels very creamy and fresh. I want to bite it. But I would be very, very sad and considerably unwell.

Daaarling...

This is from Schmetzpetz there are some really clever painting in this shop. The banner is a little unsettling, is it dead? Is it asleep? Did it fall over and it can't get up? But the art is great.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Soap New Soap


Ok, this picture is just silly, but it reminded me of Spinal Tap. The part where Stonehenge comes down. it's Vanilla Pear. Very small batch of super fatted soap. Like me, except I'm not likely to join you in the shower.

This is a softer soap because of the added oils. By softer I mean it would hurt less than another one of my soaps should you hurl it at an intruder's head.

So choose wisely.

Here's a another pic:
And another:

Soap For Every Season


Have a soap 'thing'? Burdened by guilt over so very many soap purchases while others go filthy? As another one of my selfless reach Out to The Community Humanitarian Arts I am proud to present...

Soap For Every Season

Satisfy your cravings in a fiscally sensible way. I'm here for YOU.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you read this? You should.

Marketing ideas without the heaving bosomed verbiage

I admit it, I never read anything like the Stoooorque, none of that. It wasn't until my doomed bid to Handmade that I ran across the article Artfire has that (gasp) are well written and make sense and don't cute you to death.

The Help section also has SEO guides and and SMO guide (basically how to market without spamming). Anyhow, it's worth going for a look see.

here goes nothing!

Because I 'm being nagged, uh encouraged to submit to Handmade I did. They wanted me to copy and paste a resume. After I stopped cackling madly I sent them the following with a few sample articles.

All I had on board were a couple of heavy articles that made people cry. But they had a dog in one of them! He didn't die.

Yeah, it's not a resume, but I'm no longer resume represented.

Do I think I have a chance? Pffft, no, but I did it, OK? Maybe I should have waited until my migraine went away...

Really? What would I say?


I've worked in just about every occupation that doesn't involve bodily fluids. For the last twelve years I have raised the boy. Still raising, actually, he's nine.


I am faithful, brave and true. Jack of All Trades. I can shear that sheep, spin that wool and weave you the best darn whatever you'd wear out of wool, ever.


My goal used to me to move onto mountaintop with some goats and dogs. Somehow that didn't happen, but just in case I'm currently reading how to dig a root cellar. You never know when you might need a good root cellar.

Before that I was a hairdresser and yes, the drama really is that bad.


I've waited that table and toted that hay.


I have no formal education at all. Pretty much. But unless you want me to write about Math, we should be ok.

What I do have is a quick wit and a sense of humour and an understanding of the human psyche. One of the reasons I'm no longer a hairdresser, but I digress.


Because I am a starved for intellectual stimulation devoted Mother and housewife I'm a veritable font (font, I tell you!) of random verbiage that somehow sorts itself out int he end and can be entertaining.


I think so anyhow. Some other people do to. In fact, this little ditty here is partially to get those people off my back. You know how it goes "You should be a writer!", "You should open a bakery!" and so on.


I do have a baking business during the school year. I also have a shop on Artfire and one on Etsy, which is being transferred here. Because here is better.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

I admit it..


The first thing I thought was 'Gah, more birds...' but look for a moment. This is from Cheeky Weeky

Fatty Bird


I LOVE this A Large Mouse in a Fashionable Coat there's lots of fantastic prints, very different, very unique.


I'm doing it for the children.

See how noble and giving I am?

Take a gander here at my Hang Tag tut and you'll see what I'm talking about when I say this...

Like a lot of soap makers I've been using cigar band type labels. Well, I've run about out and was trying to think of a way that was cheaper, used less paper and ink and was cheaper. I'm environmentally sound that way (cheap).

As you know ingredients must be listed in case someone is allergic to soap and has no idea it's soap unless you label it as having things soap is made of. So, what I've done is place the ingredients on the back side of the card on the left side.

I worried this five ways til Sunday so I'll take a pic when they arrive and tell you if I planned it right.

This way I can use the hang tag for the soap label. Simply writing the name of the soap inside. This saves paper, ink (crazy pricey) and you know trees for the children and what not. When they arrive I'll show you a pic of how they look all tarted up and labeled.

Then I can show you how I wrap them, which is also cheap and very, very easy. No cutting, nothing. I could tell you now but then what if you never came back and I'd be all sad.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

With Love, from Me to You...

I wanted to write a touching 'It's not you, it's me, Etsy.' letter. But instead I've decided to just send CEO this link. I WISHI I could embed it but you'll have to link too. I thought about 'I Will Survive' but it's just not funky fresh.

But it's totally worth it, trust me. It's a nice way to say 'Goodbye'. Come one, you didn't think I could be all serious and stuff for that long, didya?

You Dropped The Bomb On Me

and after that link, you can click on this one. Which I'm sending in a separate email. God bless you tuba boy.

Big Brother is Wearing a Cowl

When you leave comments in regard to AF or Etsy let me know if it's ok for me to publish them. Otherwise I won't although I do appreciate them.

There's been a couple stores closed for off site blog comments by the blog authors and I'm aware I'm tempting fate.

I don't want anyone to get in trouble for (gasp) expressing an opinion. You know it's funny, there is no censorship or linking ban or nuttin' on the AF forums yet everyone is getting along just fine.

I think when people can post without fear of being muted or the thread locked, they usually take time to be more thoughtful rather than 'The hell with it, the threads gonna get locked anyway.'

I'm not anti Etsy, just angry and sad about what it's become and surely don't begrudge anyone who does well or chooses to stay. Please don't misunderstand me.

But it's become clear that it is what it is NOW and that is how it plans to stay. No, there will be no changing anything. Yes, we have been warned to stop speaking out.

So if it works for you, that's nifty and I'm a bit envious. I'm leaving my shop up until it's taken away. Do I still have the slightest bit of hope Etsy will work out for me? Yes, but it's because of the seller's not the company. The way Etsy is set up now it won't work for me even if I was fine with the new policies in place.

Have I sales in AF? A few, but I haven't tried. I know I've had more views in half the time and well, you gotta have views. I know there's customer service and people like Jessica on the other end. I know that in Beta is kicks Etsy's laurel resting on ass. I have seen AF change in direct response to (ready?) solicited member feedback.

That's my say, where I stand and now that I've declared my Independence,lol, let's move on to cheerier topics and random happenstance.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why My Heart Belongs to Artfire

Latest AF news. For those of you aware of what's happening at Etsy right now, this is very telling and obviously a direct response to some of those issues. Yes, AF can respond to those issues that aren't even a hot mess on thier site, but Etsy still can't respond, period. The free speeech bit in particular, ok and the SEO bit and.. Read the SMO guides. Interesting stuff there.


7/3/2009

This was Social Media Optimization (SMO) week at ArtFire. We released a guide on how to best utilize SMO in the promotion of your business and your brand. If you missed any of our guides, you can find them on the left hand navigation of your “My ArtFire” control panel page along with many other useful and informative guides. You can also join the SMO discussion in the forums here.

We added a Christmas in July Trend page this week to support the many ArtFire sellers that are running CIJ sales this month. If you would like to participate in this month-long member-initiated movement you will have the opportuntiy to gain a bit more exposure for your items. Just enter CIJS in your item tags and join the sale.

Here is a bit more information about the CIJS.
New Facebook Contest begins this week. Last months Facebook winner was Cher Whittle. We were all very impressed with Cher when she gave one of the three $100 ArtFire shopping sprees to her mother and the other to the contest runner-up Fran Westervelt aka Auntiefrannie. We were overwhelmed with the positive comments left on the ArtFire Facebook fan page and broke our goal of 1000 fans. In fact we hit over 1400 fans with the contest and we are now running a new Facebook contest.

The rules for the new ArtFire Facebook contest a little different this month. If you would like to participate we have information about the contest here and again we have $100 ArtFire shopping sprees up for grabs!

We were excited to move the ArtFire / Delphi Glass Cooperative Promotional Partnership further forward this week and though we still have more work to do on it, we are off to a great start and optimistic about our future with this great company.

Delphi has been known for great customer service and recognized as a supporter of handmade artisans for over 35 years now and we are honored to that they chose to work with the ArtFire community to help us better support your needs. If you are a glass artisan be sure to check out the Delphi Glass Gallery on ArtFire and select Delphi as your preferred supplier so that you can stay up to date with what’s new and happening at Delphi Glass.

From all of us here at ArtFire we want to wish you a happy Independence day. The fourth of July has very special meaning for us as we feel that this holiday really epiomizes our mission of freedom for members.

Without getting too philosophical on you, I will just say that we believe the very same values and principles such as freedom of speech that we enjoy here in the U.S. should also apply to the virtual world and, especially, your selling venue. This will remain one of our core values as we move forward together.


This week on Inside Handmade:
One Thing: Free Press Releases, Directory....
ArtFire News: Fusion Stuido Change, 12 forl.....
Trends:Semantic Search, Tax Law Changes...

Sweet Tea is Crack

I don't even like sugar in my coffee. Or my hot tea, for that matter. But, after a mix up at a McDonald's drive through in which I got Sweet Tea instead of well, not, it's all over for me. It's like, you sip and go 'Damn, that's sweet!' and then have to taste it again to make sure and then it's all over.

You are hooked.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Banners, cards and so forth.

I cannot recommend this seller enough Accentuate on Etsy. She did my banner for my new yet to be shop, you can see it on the new yet to be blogged blog Thats My Babee! which will be stocked soon. Sooner if I could get one of those neato sweatshop deals.

Thats My Babee! will be just on Artfire for now because they don't SUCK like Etsy is sucking so very hard at the moment.

Anyhow, she's lovely to work with, very talented, very reasonable, very, very quick. Even though she's a cat person, something I'm willing ot overlook given her business ehtic and general damn niceness.

Sits up straight.

Geeze, I just noticed I have followers. All of a sudden I feel this compulsion to shower and dress before blogging. Which of course, I always do. (whistles into distance)

Far be it from me to be known as the "Slatternly Blogger". "That bitch from Etsy'" that's cool. I'm used to that.

*runs off to brush hair*

I am so making a 'Bitch' soap.

I only hate her a little bit.

handmadepretties on Etsy

The kind of stuff I'd love to make but it requires, you know, finesse and paying attention. Plus if you check out her blog she's funny and has a huge garden of vegetables.

I think all the pretty colors may temper my envy just a little. I mean I could do that. You know, if I really wanted to.

I know, I'm a little pathetic, huh?

Truth is I could appreciate and imagine it but no way I would line all those little lines up. I could a make up some bullshit story about how my creativity is too unbridled blah blah, but truth is that isn't where my talent lies.

Sure am glad someone does such a bang up job.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yes, it's the 'C' word.

Christmas. What? What were you thinking?

Nothing says, "Hey, I know what your name is and that you wash yourself or well, that you should wash yourself." like a custom order.

Want to give a friend (or someone you are flat out forced to buy a thoughtful gift for) a batch? That's eight bars (plus a few guest size soaps), your scent choice and I'll name it whatever you'd like and package it pretty.

No lie, want to name it 'Bitch' soap and give it to the MIL as a (not) gag gift, I'm here for you. No, I cannot duplicate the scent of passive aggressive manipulation, sorry.

**Signals importance**
If you want a scent that needs to be made or isn't in stock, allow four weeks at least. Like start thinking Christmas now. This will allow time for the soap to cure. **

Flat rate shipping is $9.25 Soap is heavy. If I can get it under $9.25 I will cheerfully (really) refund the difference.

Tell me this doesn't sound fabulous.

"Acai (pronounced "ah-SIGH-ee") is a small, tropical, deep purple berry, and mangosteen is a tropical fruit with a citrusy-peachy flavor and aroma. Both fruits are hot, hot, hot right now, which makes our Acai & Mangosteen fragrance a tropical double-threat.

Fruity top notes of strawberry, peach, orange, melon, and mandarin sit atop a fruity-floral middle of freesia, lily of the valley, raspberry, and papaya. Deep sweet balsamic vanilla notes complete the accord. Like a sunny day in the rain forest in a bottle!"

Yep, one of the new Fall soaps along with a Spa Beachy kind of thing and a Vickie's Secret Angel's Divine dup that doesn't make you smell like a two dollar whore. At least a twenty dollar. At recession rates that's like a fifty dollar hooker.

I'm nothing if not classy.