Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: Blogs


I started my blog in July, 2006.

To be honest with you, I did not know what to do with it for a while. I understood that a blog has a great business potential, and that was my main reason for starting it. After all, the fact that Google likes fresh content while blogs provide the freshest content possible is really easy to grasp. What I did not understand is how to make my blog interesting for real people, not just some search engines. I am not a chatty person by nature, and coming from the academic and industrial sectors, I believed that mixing personal and professional stuff is never a good idea. Turns out, I was completely wrong on that...

Anyway, I've compiled a list of blog ideas for artists, not in any particular order (I am using this list myself and happy to share it with anybody interested):

- Pictures of your new works;
- Pictures of your studio;
- Stories about work in progress;
- Cool tools and supplies;
- Stories and pictures from your customers;
- How-to about anything and everything related to your craft, business, or anything else you care about;
- Your thoughts on any topic related to your area of interest;
- Promotions of fellow artists;
- A giveaway (both for fun and for business promotion);
- A place for advertisement (see my Project Wonderful spots on the right);
- Stories about places you visited – from walk in the neighborhood to a trip abroad;
- Favorite recipes;
- Things that affected you personally and that may or may not influence your art;
- Posts about family, pets;
- Reviews of your favorite books and movies.
More ideas?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

polymer clay and resin pendant
New Collection:
Celebrating Color


I've been experimenting with lots of color recently. Here are a few examples from my new collection.

All of these are round pendants, about 1 1/8” in diameter, clear resin over polymer clay.
polymer clay and resin pendant
polymer clay and resin pendant

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

deviantart, faux cloisonne, polymer clay, student work
Student's Work


I just saw a new comment in my gallery on DeviantArt.com. It is from a person, who've learned my faux cloisonne technique though my tutorial.
deviantart, faux cloisonne, polymer clay, student work
There is a number of faux cloisonne pieces in his gallery, and I just love what he is doing with this technique. Make sure to read the artist's explanations!

Monday, February 23, 2009

orchid
Annual Inspiration Trip


This one of the pictures I took this weekend at the orchid exhibition in Washington, DC. Smithsonian Institution organizes these exhibitions every year, usually in February – April. They alternate between the Botanical Garden and the Museum of Natural History.

This year, there are some orchids in both places. The museum of Natural History tied their exhibition to Darvin's theory of evolution, while USBG's collection is simply pretty.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: Personal Web Site

To continue with my Thursday series, I want to talk about creating my own web site. That was an adventure in itself!

I wanted to make my own web site myself, and at a reasonable budget. I have to admit, it was a difficult task, but I enjoyed learning everything I had to make it happen, and I am glad I did it myself.

My first web site was from geocities.com. Free, built over an existing template (which I kept changing over time), and with some pop-up adds. Looking back, I see how many mistakes I made with this site. Aside from the design flaws, this site was screaming about my lack of knowledge about SEO, and the pictures could have used more work (which they did, over time). Never the less, I managed to make some sales even from that site.

What would I do differently if I had a chance to start over? I would start with a blog rather than a web site. This would be a more successful approach, because there are so many things that can be done with blogs, not to mention that search engines love them.

My next move was to obtain my own domain name and find a new host for my new web site, free of adds. The first company I chose (after a careful consideration!), managed to lost all my data two days after I launched the site. They also refused to help me with restoring it. The problem was that I relied on their pre-built templates, which I changed a bit. Yes, I saved all my photos and descriptions, as well as the HTML codes of all the newly created pages. However, there was no option for uploading these pages for me. So, when the data were lost, all I could do was to go back though every individual page and re-upload every picture and description manually once again. Well, I was so pissed off by the service I received from this web host that I went looking for a new one.

The good thing about this story is that it finally gave me enough motivation to learn HTML and stop relying on any templates. Turned out, it is not too bad, and in a month I had my third generation of web site up and running with a new host. By the way, I am glad to report that my new web host, pair.com, provides an affordable and reliable service, and I am very happy to be their customer. I switched my domain name hosting to this company as well.

Note that I said “third generation”, not “third version” of my website. That is because the number of versions I went through in these few years I cannot even count. I've changed everything (a few times!) - layout, background colors, logo, all pictures of my jewelry, beads, vases, and wall pieces... Even the ideology of the site, its purpose, had changed. At some point it was a standing-alone on-line shop with a gallery of sold items. Now it is a gallery of my best items with a link to my shop on Etsy.com. I still sell my tutorials directly from my web site, but not the other items.

To complete this rather long post I want to offer two links I found very helpful for myself.

The first one is to Rena Klingenberg's site, home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com. This site is a collection of jewelry-related business (probably even wider – craft-related business) articles. There is a section for selling on-line, which is a good start reading.

The second link is to J. Cricket Walker's site gnc-web-creations.com. Cricket and a group of other enthusiasts teach one of the Internet's most popular series of on-line classes for Search Engine Optimization, Successful Website Marketing, and Website Development Training. You can sign up for any combination of these classes and receive regular E-mails with their tips and instructions. I went through this training myself and found it tremendously helpful.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eugena's polymer clay necklace in a new box New Shipping Boxes / Displays


I have a few very special necklaces, which people would wear only for very special occasions. What are they supposed to do with a necklace like that when they do not wear it? The answer is a simple and elegant solution: shadow box.

I have to say right away – this is not my idea, but I love it. My friend Marigo Stathis, who makes the most amazing dichroic glass butterflies, shared this idea with me a while ago. Finally, I found just the right kind of display to implement it.

Eugena's polymer clay necklace in a new box
These shadow boxes are just the right size to showcase my necklaces. They are easily accessible, with a front door and a magnetic lock. Each shadow box has all the necessary hardware to be hanged on the wall or displayed on a dressing table. For each shadowbox, I made a white satin pillow and permanently attached it to the bottom of the box to create a nice backdrop for my necklace.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Family Heirloom, Preserved


I am ready to share pictures of my recent work, just in time for Valentine's Day.

I made this set of earrings and a pendant for my neighbor. She had and old watch, a family heirloom, which did not work anymore. I took it apart and made it into this pendant. I was even able to preserve the back of the old watch (with initials P.P.) by attaching it to the back of the pendant.

The pendant is made from brown polymer clay. One side of it has the watch parts and the other is decorated with crackled gold metal leaf. The pendant is covered with clear resin to create a smooth, glass-like surface. The matching earrings are adorned with fresh-water pearls.


polymer clay steampunk pendant
polymer clay steampunk pendant
polymer clay steampunk pendant

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: Just Beads


polymer clay

...See my previous posts on this topic here and here.



polymer clay To continue with recollecting my on-line experiences, I wanted to talk about a lovely site I used to use to sell my polymer clay beads on, called justbeads.com. It was a refreshing alternative for ebay, and there, in fact, people were selling beads only – polymer clay, lampwork, metal, commercial supplies – but beads, and beads only. I am talking about this site in the past tense because, as I just found out this morning, the site is currently closed. Here is an excerpt from the announcement they posted a couple of days ago: “We've made some great progress this week! Now that we've completed the rebuilding of the JustBeads.com Auction site, we've been free to concentrate on the many site modifications we wanted to implement...We've still got a lot of work to do....but we are definitely getting closer! Please check back often for our status reports and watch for announcements of our Grand Re-Opening! ... Stay Tuned! “ So overall it looks like something exciting is going on and the site is going to re-open even better and stronger than it was.


polymer clay When I just started selling there in 2004-2005, the site was quite active, and I was able to sell everything I listed, with people competing for my beads. Later the situation changed – beads (and not only mine, it seemed like a common situation) would still sell, but there were no bidding wars anymore. One bid would appear just seconds before the auction was about to end, and the lot would sell for the minimal preset price. I really did not mind that, although selling in an auction situation was more fun. There were small fees for listing and a percent from the sale price, as far as I remember. You also had to pay for some extra features, such as additional pictures in your listing, a thumbnail picture, some ways to highlight your listing on the page, and the place at the front page, if you wanted any of these tools. One feature I really liked was an artist of the month article/interview they did once a month. There was a nice craft fair-like atmosphere on that site.


polymer clayI am really eager to see the new changes they make. I left this site when I started making more finished jewelry, built my own site (which is an adventure in itself – more about that in my next post), and then Etsy came along with their lower fees and an option to leave the listing up for months rather than days or weeks like on Justbeads. Anyway, I am willing to reconsider this site once they re-open and I am urging everybody for makes their own beads to do the same.


polymer clay The pictures in this post are some beads I sold through Justbeads.com. Anybody who knows my work now would see that I was still experimenting with various techniques and looking for my own style back then.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Polymer Clay Tutorial, Sculpted Orchids New Tutorial

The third tutorial in my Miniature Sculpted Orchids Series is finished and available through my Etsy shop. I will list it on my web site by the end of the day as well.

This tutorial explains how to sculpt tiny Lady's Slippers (or Paphiopedilum) orchids, how to make the leaves with different shades of polymer clay, how to apply these sculpted details to sea glass base, and how to do simple wire-wrapping of the sea glass pieces. Bonus material includes instructions for a faux sea glass (made from polymer clay, of course!).

Monday, February 09, 2009

Polymer clay necklace with five focal beads modeled by the artist
Photo-Session Results



I am working on some listings for my new on-line shop (more on that later). I have nice flat shots of my polymer clay necklaces, but I really want to add pictures taken at different angles and especially on a model. I usually photograph my smaller pendant-style necklaces on a bust, but the bigger ones (those with a few focal beads) do not drape on it well enough.








I have to admit that being photographed is my idea of torture. I hate every moment of the process, and quite often the final result as well. Today, however, I had enough motivation to do four necklaces – this means at least about 40 pictures – and I've got four good pictures that I can use for my listings.

Polymer clay necklace with five focal beads modeled by the artist


The second step was editing the pictures. After playing with them for a while, I have two versions of each – one is more life-like and the other one is kind of over-exposed and washed out. Surprisingly, I like the second version better. I think it makes the viewer to concentrate on the necklace rather than on my face, which is the entire idea, right?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Steampunk heart pendant

Shipping Special


I offer a free upgrade to Priority Mail shipping for all my heart pendants in my Etsy shop. This offer is good until February 11. The pendants shall arrive just in time for Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: Legal Stuff

See my previous post on the same topic here.

Back to 2004...

Inspired by my first sale (and pushed in the same direction by my husband), I decided to start my own small business.

By then, I had some experience selling my own hand-made goods, although it was in a totally different country (back in Russia, 10 years earlier). As a student, I used to make custom wedding dresses (which was very romantic and creative, but not profitable enough due to the time involved and the amount of customer service needed), I then switched to making backpacks for fellow white-water canoeists (which was way more successful and less time-consuming). Anyway, I had a rough idea of what's involved – business registration, taxes, etc., and I was not looking forward to that. I think, legal stuff sounds scary to many creative minds in any part of the world.

Turned out, the entire process here in the US is quite straight-forward, and so my business was created and given an official status in a record time.

I was about to look for my list of useful links on this topic when I came across this post:

Small_Businesses_and_Taxes

I think it answers all the basic questions related to the legal part of turning your craft into business very well.

To be continued - next Thursday...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Instant Download


My tutorials are now available for instant download immediately after purchase from my web site.

Previously, when you bought a tutorial from me, you would receive it as an attachment to an E-mail within 5 hours from your purchase. The 5-hour limit came from PayPal: my automatic E-mail system was set up to respond to a payment notification sent by PayPal, which sometimes took up to a few hours to receive.

The new system is set up so that right after purchase you will be taken to a page with a link to the tutorial you just bought. Follow the link – and you have the tutorial right away. I am also keeping my automatic E-mail system as a back-up. I will use it to E-mail you the same link for your convenience. The link will expire in 3 days, so I am asking my customers to save the purchased tutorial right away.

Added on February 19, 2009: After discussing this setup with my customers, I decided to make another change. In addition to the instant download page displayed immediately after purchase from my web site, I will also E-mail the same tutorial as an attachment. I am doing this for people who want to be able to access the tutorial through their E-mail rather then on-line, and also so that they would not have to worry about saving the file before the link expires.

All tutorials purchased through my Etsy shop will be E-mailed, as usual.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Another Student's Work


Kem from kemskreations1.etsy.com shared these two pictures with me a while ago. This is what she wrote:

“Here's a picture of one of the beads on my first attempt using your tutorial... I love the beads, made them into a necklace and have already had lots of compliments (even from several vendors at a craft show in Gainsville this weekend). Thanks again, Kem”

I am posting Kem's pictures and e-mail with her permission.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


New Blog Polymer Clay Chameleon
I am about to start a project I wanted to do for a long time. The idea is simple – I want to blog about polymer clay artists on Etsy.com. One artist a day.
Related Posts with Thumbnails