Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I've Left Etsy!

My Dear Friends,

I'm sorry to say that due to a series of very unpleasant experiences with Etsy Corp, I have chosen to close my Etsy shop for good, and I have re-opened on Artfire !  I have the same name - JoanHunterHandmade, and can be searched out in a flash!

I used the Artfire Import tool to import all of my remaining listings to my new home.  It was fast, and easy!  Artfire has a lot of great, functional tools to help you sell!  I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces over there and I'm very excited about my new home!

Hope to see you there!


Friday, October 22, 2010


I just gained a whole new level of respect for my fellow Etsy sellers.  We are having a grand old time celebrating the end of an era...  Feel free to join the party!  That indomitable art spirit is with us as we transition from Etsy bringing Handmade to the mainstream, and ruining it with a corporate takeover...  http://etsyrefugeesociety.blogspot.com/


This is the end, my only friend, the end...

All I can say right now is CORALGATE.  A more detailed explanation to come... for now, google Etsy + Coralgate and hold on to your panties, because this is a shocker.

I've closed up my shop (for good this time) and left a parting message in my shop announcement.

Oh. My. Word.  #Coralgate #etsyfail #fail #scandal #catastrophe

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tourism In St. Michaels: Too Much Of A Good Thing?

        I wrote a post a few days back about the tourism situation here in St. Michaels, and wound up getting completely shredded in the Etsy forums.  Lets try this over again, because it needs to be written about, if only for my own sake.  It's on my mind a lot.

       St. Michaels has been a tourist destination for years and years now.  A great deal of its appeal comes from our tiny little town full of historic buildings and cute little shops.  We're located on a narrow strip of land poking out into the Chesapeake Bay,  situated much the way Cape Cod is.  We only have one 2-lane street running in and out of town.  Our normal population is 1100 people.  Over 100,000 people visit the town in a single weekend in the summer months.  Can you imagine?  Our little tiny town can not support that kind of onslaught.  It used to be fine and dandy to have a bunch of tourists here when the weather is nice.  All it meant was more business for the local shops, and a bit more hustle and bustle around town.  In fact, I used to miss tourist season when it was over, because the town felt lonely and empty without them.  But now it has gotten completely out of control.  As St. Michaels has become increasingly popular, more and more people have begun to migrate here for a bit of R&R, and not only does that cause basic logistical problems for us locals, but it is also transforming the town into just another sleazy tourist trap, destroying the main thing that attracted people here in the first place.

       When tourist season is going on, I can't get to the bank or the post office - its just too clogged up with traffic and people milling around.  Its only a 4 mile drive from my house to our main street, but it can take 45 minutes for a task that should take maybe 15 minutes on a normal day.  Merely a bit of an inconvenience at first, but as it has only gotten worse over the years, it is a cause for concern.  In the last 3 years, the whole vibe of this town has changed.  It is starting to feel more like Disneyland than a quiet, historic village near the water.  One of the most charming things about St. Michaels, as a local, or as a tourist, is its authenticity.  Our local laws and codes prevent much development, and as most of the buildings are classified as historic, the town has remained much the same through the centuries and decades that have passed since it was just a ship-building town in the 19th century.  Now we have a bright blue "trolley" car which runs up and down the main street like this is some kind of tacky theme park.  Is it really too much trouble to walk the sidewalk through town when the town proper is less than 1 mile in length?

        It is often said that everything is good in moderation, and the same goes for the amount of tourists we host here.  Imagine going to a restaurant that can only seat 50 people, and finding that 5,000 people have all showed up to dine there at the same time.  The town can't require that you place a reservation in advance, and since people can pull up into our marinas, and some of our more notable restaurants in their boats, we are host to more people than we could ever possibly house, even with our large, multi-story waterfront hotels.  Think "Black Friday" at the mall 24/7 for four or five months out of the year!

       Aside from the irritations and inconveniences experienced by the locals as a result of the sudden boom in tourism, my greater fear is that St. Michaels is losing its very heart and soul, and all of the things that make it special.  This is a tale told around the world in places where tourism has eaten areas alive and reduced them to tacky, miserable tourist traps that look and feel like all the other tacky, miserable tourist traps.  You would think that since there are so many precedents to point to, that St. Michaels would tread more carefully in order to avoid the same thing happening here, but let's face it - it's hard to resist those dollar signs.  Not that businesses were doing poorly when we had an acceptable level of tourism!

       Now from my perspective as a local, something I really want to express to you, my reader, is the sense of joy and relief I feel when the weather turns cold and gray, and the heavy tourist season finally ends, and sanity is restored on the streets of St. Michaels.  St. Michaels usually becomes utterly deserted in the winter months, and though I used to be sad to see the empty streets and the shops closed up for the season, I now live for it!  I literally despise having to leave the house and go into town during tourist season.  Not only do I hate the feeling that I've somehow gotten lost and wound up in Disneyland, or on some motion picture lot, but I don't like the way our visitors treat the town during their stay.  Since they have no roots here, and are only passing through, people tend to behave in rude and inconsiderate ways.  Everything is temporary and disposable to them, including the other people.     Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part the tourists, frankly, suck.

     St. Michaels is probably never going to go back to an economy in which tourism doesn't play a leading role, but this town needs to find a balance, or lose the very things that make this place a wonderful escape for so many people, and a nice place to live and work.  In my opinion, we are getting far too much of a good thing.  

     Some people complained that my previous rant about tourism was just too mean.  But if you reached the point of overload and frustration that I have, you wouldn't feel very kind, welcoming, or patient, either.  And you might have some nasty things on the tip of your tongue after having to wait on over half a million tourists who seem to have left their brains and their manners at home when they came on vacation.  I'm just using this opportunity to express my perspective and my feelings on the subject.  I hope I did a better job this time, than the first time around.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

By The Fireplace

     After the aforementioned rains, the weather cooled off delightfully.  I decided it was time to gather the firewood and kick off my favorite time of the year... fireplace season!

I also made a trip to the free book exchange in the local pharmacy, where I collected a mountain of FREE books to read by the fire.  My cat Driftwood found a place to curl up and enjoy the fire - right at my feet on a soft, warm afghan.  These days have been so wonderful and healing.  Staring into the fire sends me immediately into a meditative, trance-like state.  It is such an ancient connection that we share with fire.


This incredible Print is my favorite artistic representation of a nice quiet evening by the fire with a book and a cup of tea. It was created by Etsy Seller PomFreitag , who hails from Minneapolis, MN.  I'll bet they know all about the comfort of a warm fire in the cold weather up there!!  You can find her awesome shop HERE.  It is definitely one of my new favorites.

     Unfortunately for me, the weather has taken a turn yet again and the entire week is back up to 80 degrees again!  The only time it is cold enough for a fire is just before dawn, and by the time I get it started, it is heating up outside again.  Every day we have nice, summer-ish weather, I feel that I'm being robbed of another wonderful evening by the fire!  But soon enough I will be complaining about the cold, as it tends to dip below freezing often here in the winter months.  Honestly, I really can't wait!!

  I will throw open the comments section for any and all book recommendations to share.  What will YOU be reading by the fire this year?
click the picture to check out PomFreitag's AMAZING Etsy Shop!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

When It Rains... It Pours

When it rains, it pours.  This is true literally and figuratively right now for Yours Truly.  After a terrible drought over the summer, the skies have opened up and a week-long monsoon has begun.  And doesn't it always seem in life that when you're busy you're VERY VERY busy, and when you're not busy you're VERY VERY not busy?  That's the way it is for me anyway.

I'm still pretty new at this whole "living on planet earth and being human" thing.  I'm constantly trying to identify patterns in the rhythm and the flow of life that might help me navigate through it.  Unfortunately, I'm working on a very complex set of variables with a very limited evaluative tool - my brain.

How much of life is just a projection or a loosely strung together set of assumptions about cause and effect?  This is a matter for scientists, psychologists, theologians, mathematicians and sophomoric lyricists, and I don't feel I have the internal resources to fully commit to an objective test evaluating my "truths" about reality.  So, like most of us, I basically have to just muddle through it and occasionally catch snatches of order in the chaos and HOPE that they are "true".  Being fairly clueless in that regard can lead me into the gnarled, dusty road of common superstition and other unscientific methods I use to try to game the system.  But if I look at it objectively - the fact is that there are too many variables that are totally out of my realm of control in order for anything I do to make much of a difference.  This is especially true when it comes to selling my wares on Etsy.

Therefore, I will stick to a truism that SEEMS to be true for me today.

When it rains, it pours!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Chat With Abunchofscrap!

Abunchofscrap was kind enough to take part in my seller interview series, and share her experiences with us!  She is a paper-crafter with skills AND style!

1) How long have you been selling on Etsy, and what products did you start out with? Have those products changed over time? 

Started a year and one month ago but Etsy changed it for some reason last month my anniversary date. Always scrapbooking products. I have had to change my fav. thing to do, which was layouts to things that sell, now i sell lots of tags.

2) What made you to decide to sell what you sell? 

I started selling scrapbooking layouts around 11 years ago when my first son was born. I was home and bord to death. I started out at Ebay. I did that until I went back to the working field. Years past but I didn't post much on Ebay but, had a few regualar clients that I did albums for (still have them). A year ago I decided that I needed to make the most of all the products I had and the really start to let my creative juices flow. I wanted to share more than my talents but to create for others life time memories by selling my scrapbooking layouts. Thus, Etsy became my main store and now I have found the best people and shops ever.

3) You've had a great deal of success selling on Etsy, what's your number one hint or bit of advice you'd give a newbie?

create create create. Don't let slow times make you stop creating what you want. When you have something special, others will notice with a bit of marketing you will make it happen.

4) What do you like most about selling on Etsy?

The thing I love the most is to see all the creative talented people out there sharing and trying to become noticed. Expression is so powerful and when we do it through art it is the most wonderful thing.

5) What do you like least about selling on Etsy?

The least thing I like about Etsy is those who make comments about others in a negitive way. This is usually only done in forums or chat but is sometimes reflected in feedback section. Negitive energy is not good for buisness.

6) Do you market your Etsy shop elsewhere online? If so, where, and why?

I want to be sucessful and make more money. I would love to help support our household income. So, I have recently started to utilize the internet by creating a blog, twitter, and joining some clubs like TSU (treasure seekers unit), spottedcanary, and splitcoaststampers. In the future I will probably open my own web site but for now I need to focus on getting more traffic into my Etsy shop.

7) How do you come up with ideas for your creations?

Nature, Friends, Family, Life basically sums up my inspiration

8) What is your favorite item (in your shop)?

I don't really have a fav item in my shop. I love them all. I don't list things that I don't love. If I create something that is OK then I don't post it. I either throw it out or use it for something else.

9) What is your take on "relisting"?

You have to do it you can't just sit on items and hope that people will go to page 500 to see your items.

Zebra print purse GIFT CARD HOLDER! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures with Craft-Related Injuries

Well I experienced my first *real* craft-related injury last week!  No, not the usual needle stab wounds to my fingers, sitting on my pin cushion, or slipping on a pile of scraps.  This time I had a brush with carpal tunnel!  All of the tendons from my wrist almost down to my elbow were so sore I couldn't do anything with my right hand for several days!  It was all the cutting involved in making several fabric flowers for my shop, as well as the hand-sewing.  I tried several remedies and checked with my trusty chat friends on how to address the problem.

One of the most successful treatments was wrapping the affected area in a "moist heat" producing heating pad - the one I normally use when I twist my ankle (a common occurrence).  I also tried splinting my wrist to limit movement.  It didn't really do anything other than abate my symptoms during the time it was immobile.

One of my jewelry designer friends told me about a therapy he swears by - contrast baths.  It involves 2 buckets of water, one as hot as you can stand, and one as cold as you can stand.  Dip the affected arm in the hot one first, wait, and then in the cold.  Repeat as necessary.  He tells me it feels "wonderful" but it sounds like some kind of torture to me!

I suffered with this injury for more than 3 days.  The symptoms finally began to disappear after a few treatments with the heating pad, a hefty dose of anti-inflamatories, and gently massaging the tendons on the rounded corner of my desk for about 4 hours!  The next day it was much better.  I'm happy to report that I've regained function in my right arm again!  yay!  Next time I will take precautions before I go on a cutting binge!  Feel free to share your experiences and remedies related to craft induced injuries!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the Wall - I AM My Mother After ALL!

I turned 27 years old in July and I must say I never gave much thought to the common stereotype of women turning into their mothers when they grow up.  I'm sure there have been times when I swore I'd never become mine...  But lo and BEHOLD!  I have more in common with my mother than ever!  I look like her and I've picked up most of her odd habits!  I have no idea how this transformation is taking place!  I always considered myself a unique individual, but I am becoming MINI MOM!  Why?  What is it about women that makes them become little clones of their mothers?!  It seems miraculous and strange to me!

There are still things we do not share in common.  My love of crafting is a prime example.  My mother is not a creative person, and has no interest in anything that requires a design sense or fine motor skills.  And she isn't very much like her OWN mother... so what gives?  I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror today and I thought it was my mommy!  haha!  Anyone care to share your theories about how and why this so often happens?  It's pretty fascinating!!


Friday, September 3, 2010


I am coming off of one big mistake in my Etsy selling experience.  I thought I would share it with you.

Just because I had a relatively good month in July, I expected to have an even better August.  (No, not so much.)  Since re-listing often worked for me in July - I went crazy with it in August.  When it wasn't working I increased my relisting habits, hoping to compensate for lack of sales.  Ultimate result?  My Etsy bill this month is SIX TIMES what I made from sales.  oops.

Let this be a lesson to you.

I'm going through an Etsy-induced depression right now.  When so much of your hopes and energies are being poured into it, it can be a real problem when things don't go so well.  I'm sure this is a common experience.  One thing I have been hoping to try is posting a page on Squidoo, and other free websites, to give my shop a slightly higher profile.  Spread those seeds, ladies and gentlemen!  And since investing money into my shop has not yielded the best results, I will be looking for FREE avenues to promote my products and my presence on Etsy!  So stay tuned to learn about my experiences with free sites and such!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Silly Saturday

It's another swelteringly hot and humid August day.  You won't find me outside in this weather!  I can't wait until it is cooler, I love fall weather!

Recently I've been working on a variety of new card cases and mini wallets, but I have not photographed them nor listed any of them yet!  I think I am waiting for a big enough batch.  I should come up with a more streamlined way of listing my items.  It always takes a long time.  I think most people agree the descriptions are the hardest part.  One thing that makes it easier for me is to open up a word processing document and work on the descriptions there.  That way when I get to the step of listing the item, all I have to do is copy and paste, and all of my descriptions are written already.  It also helps if you take your time to be thorough and detailed.

Sales have been very slow for me in August.  When sales die down, sometimes it feels like a total mystery.  Sometimes all the tips and tricks in the world wont change a slow sales period, and you're left wondering "What happened?!"  It can be frustrating.  But you just have to be patient, and keep plugging along.  This winter will be my first Holiday Season on Etsy.  I've heard it gets super busy!  Hopefully I will have a lot of inventory by the time Christmas rolls around.

I hope your crafting is going well, everybody!  Anyone care to share what they like to do during the slow times?  :D

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Doldrums

Well it's already mid-August and summer will be winding down soon, if not the heat here in Maryland!  I suspect it's going to be an Indian summer this year.  Things are slowing down in my shop as well so I might actually make my goal of listing a hundred items!  13 more listings to go!  I've been busily rolling polymer clay beads in all sorts of different colors, and I finally baked a big batch of them last night.  I did list my first clay bead creation which can be found HERE .  Lets see how much I can make with them!

I also have supplies coming in from Fire Mountain Gems and Joann.  I ran clean out of clasps for my jewelry products so I had to place a large order.  I found some really cheap but great bead/craft storage boxes at Joann for something like $2.37 each!  And they are pretty big and quite sturdy.  I bought one earlier in the summer and came back for like 6 more!  So those should be arriving soon I hope, because I've got to get chugging along on my projects!  13 listings is closer than ever to my goal, but as any experienced Etsian will tell you, listing 13 items is such a daunting task!

In other news, I finally received a replenished supply of red Owl beads for my most popular pair of earrings !  they have to be shipped from overseas so it takes up to a month for them to get here!  Now I should have enough for 25 more pairs of these popular earrings.

Meanwhile, I have tons of beautiful fabric and I have no idea what to do with it.  I'm sort of afraid to start a project with them because I don't want to mess it up!  But if I'm going to make it to 100 items, I need to overcome my crafter's block and dig in!

I'm starting my day with a redbull in the hopes that it will get these fingers off the keyboard and into my craft supplies!  That's my update for now,  HAPPY CRAFTING y'all!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Introducing my new line! Nifty Nests!

I'd just like to share a product I'm very proud of!  These are 1-inch wide bird's nests with little eggs and flowers that I made out of polymer clay.  I've fashioned holes beneath the leaves that make them suitable for stringing on ribbon or other stringing materials, but they can also be made into magnets or a brooch!  They are varnished with a glossy non-toxic finish.  You can find more in my SHOP !  I hope you enjoy!

15 Things To Do While You're Waiting For Sales!

We've all been there.  Hopelessly refreshing our shop, looking at that little number in the right-hand menu; "Sales:..."
Sometimes things slow down, or grind to a complete halt, and it can be frustrating, discouraging, or even make you want to give up on the whole thing!  Instead of indulging in the cycle of negativity, here are 15 constructive things to do while you are waiting for sales.  Work your way down the list, and maybe by the time you're done, that little number will be a digit or two higher than the last 1000 times you checked it!! ;D

1)  List and Relist.  Have you been putting off listing some items you've got stashed away?  Now is the time to let them out into the wild!  If you don't have anything new to list, try relisting a few items to bring in traffic!  Remember - the more you list, the more likely it is you'll make some sales!

2) Rearrange your shop!  Shuffle things around and give your shop a fresh look.  Let overlooked items have some time in the spotlight.

3)  Browse through the shops and heart any items you like.  Make connections and give someone a happy moment when they check their hearts!  This can eat up plenty of time.  Browsing Etsy is just too much fun!!

4)  Scope out the competition.  See what other people are charging for similar products.  Check their tags!

5)  Clean up!  Review each listing you have made one by one, thoroughly.  Go through, change shipping prices or descriptions, add other information you may have skipped over if you were in a hurry to list your item.  Check again for spelling or grammatical errors.  You can never be too thorough!  Pinch and perfect your listings while you wait!  You'll be surprised what you find!

6)  Search on Etsy for some of the key words and tags you've used in your listings and see what comes up.  Adjust listings accordingly.

7)  Hit the chat rooms and make some new friends.  Do some show and tell with other Etsians and share tricks of the trade or just a nice conversation to pass the time.  Chat now!

8)  Organize your supplies.  If I ever have free time or get blocked, one of the best ways to get some inspiration is to organize my supplies.  When you take an inventory of what you've got to work with, the many different ways you could use them start to pop into your head!  Not only that, but you will be prepared for your next sale if you take the initiative to organize your shipping supplies etc.

9)  read some forums in the Etsy Community section and get some tips for success!  Or consider participating in some give-aways!

10)  Brush up on the Etsy Seller's Handbook, which can be found HERE .

11)  Create a Treasury !  It is lots of fun, and good exposure, another good way to meet people on Etsy.  Let the shops you feature know you have included them in your treasury.  Here's a LINK to some of the Treasuries I've made!

12)  Join a Team !  From the Team home page: "Etsy Teams are groups of organized Etsy members who network, share skills, and promote their shops and Etsy together. A Team forms around a shared location, crafting medium, or another interest.   Etsy's 450+ Teams make us not just a marketplace of individuals, but an interconnected and diverse artistic community.   Teams are Etsy’s biggest and most creative grassroots engine for support, networking and marketing – for each team member’s shop, for the Teams themselves, and for Etsy as a whole."

13)  Make some new items for your shop.  Make a goal of how many items you would like to have in your shop.  I've found that 80+ items is a good number.  The more you have in your shop, the more likely it is you will have something that someone out there just has to have!  If you don't feel like listing them right away, that's okay too!  But it's good to have a decent stock of items.  

14)  Research shipping costs for your items.  The more specific you can be for each country, the better.  Try to estimate the weight and cost as closely as possible.  Those of you with a postal scale will have an easier time of it!

15)  Take a break from your shop.  Yes, you read that right!  Sometimes we need to take a break from obsessing over our shops and focus on something else for a while.  Do something nice for yourself.  Take a walk.  Take a bubble bath.  Play a game.  Write a letter.  You'll find yourself refreshed when you come back!

I hope you've found some useful suggestions in this list, and that when you finish the checklist you come back to find SALES!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adventures with Kitties

Everyone could use a "cute-boost" these days, so I present to you my little muses...

Driftwood age 5

Drifty and Tom - age 16

Echo - Age 10


Yesterday I happened upon a box turtle crossing the road near the entrance to town.  I picked him up, put him in the passenger seat of my car, and took him home.  He was later released into a marshy wetland area on our property where he can grow and thrive!  I named him Sparky!

Sparky in his new home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Sewing Machine

This past weekend I celebrated my 27th birthday, and I received my very first sewing machine as a gift.  

It is a Brother VX-1435!

My boyfriend and I spent about an hour reading the manual and making our first attempt at threading the needle.  For a newbie threading a sewing machine seems endlessly complicated, but we put our heads together and followed the diagrams.  Then the fun began and I started practicing.  I still can't seem to sew in a straight line for some reason!  But I keep on trying!  

Up until now, all of the items in my shop have been meticulously hand-stitched, which can take a very long time, even for small projects!  The sewing machine promises to make life easier... if I can just figure out how to use it!  Not that this sewing machine is any harder to use than any other sewing machine, but I'm new at it, and not technically inclined!  Here are a few examples of items available in my shop - all hand-stitched!

I can't wait to see what I can crank out with my new Brother!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spotlight On: Amazing Etsy Seller Whimsywares!

Today we have a special treat.  It's a love story.  A love story between a husband and wife team, their love of soap-making, and my love of their soaps!
       My first purchase on Etsy was from Whimsywares and as soon as the soap arrived I was hooked!  I am now the proud and pampered owner of several outstanding soaps from Whimsywares - with an eye to own them all! It is with great affection that I present an interview with one of my very favorite shops on Etsy!


Price range: $2 - $75
Sells: soap, sugar scrubs, bath fizzies, bath salts, jewelry, ceramics, whimsical art, and coming soon….bath jellies!

Open since: December 17, 2009
Custom items: Yes- bring it on!

Featured Item: Garden Herbs Loofah Aloe and Olive Oil Bar 

How long have you been selling on Etsy, and what products did you start out with? How have they changed over time?
We’ve been selling on Etsy since mid December 2009. We began with a few bars of rather primitive looking soaps and added a dash of ceramics and a splash of jewelry and art for good measure. Over time we have realized that our jewelry doesn’t sell well and begun focusing more on our bath line. We have expanded from a few soaps to many soaps and have added in scrubs, salts, fizzies, and are currently working on adding bath jellies. 

What made you to decide to sell what you sell? (for example, did it make sense from a business perspective, or you just love it, or both etc.) 

When we were planning our wedding we were stumped on what we should give guests as their reception gift (you know that usually worthless item you find on your table at weddings that you either eat right away or throw away when you get home). We wanted something semi cost-effective, very creative, and universally usable. Our families made fun of us when we had the “we should make soap!” a-ha moment. They told us that people would laugh and think we were saying they needed a bath. We went with it anyway. Everyone loved it! There was not a soap left behind and for the next year when we saw people who had attended our wedding they would say “oh my gosh we loved that soap” or “we don’t let guests use that soap from your wedding because we don’t want it to be gone!” or “it’s been almost a year and we still haven’t used up that bar of soap. It’s awesome!” So…..we figured why not make more. It makes our apartment smell awesome, is fun for us to make together, and people love it. That’s how we started making soap.

What is one thing you would like to go back and do differently in your first month?
I would definitely have marketed better. Selling on etsy is not an example of “you build it they will come”. It takes a lot of effort to reach the ears and eyes of others. However, that being said, I believe that with anything you do, creating is a learning process. You will never begin perfectly and because of it you get to look back to where you were when you started and be glad at the progress you’ve made. 

What do you like most about selling on Etsy?
We love the community. It’s so amazing to see all the fun personalities and amazing talent that exists on etsy. We also love knowing that people we’ve never met all round the world notice us every now and then and enjoy what we do.

What do you like least about selling on Etsy?
There’s a lot of talented competition which sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish yourself. However, we don’t truly consider this a negative because there is also a wealth knowledge you can get from others as well as many lasting friendships!

Do you market your Etsy shop elsewhere online? If so, where, and why? Have your efforts been successful?

We do have a facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/whimsywares) It’s been helpful in letting others know we exist but has produced minimal sales thus far.

How do you come up with ideas for your products?
All our products are nature inspired. Sometimes though we come up with scents we want to do and research additives that will go well with the scent as well as benefit the skin. Our Cucumber and Green Tea bar is a good example. We wanted a scent that would be earthy yet cool and refreshing. We thought it would be an interesting touch to include natural tea leaves. We researched the benefits of tea and found that it contains natural anti-oxidants which cleanses the pores and promotes skin elasticity (great for anti-aging!) So our Cucumber and Green Tea Shea Butter Bar was born!

What is your favorite item (in your shop)?
The Duckie Scrub Cubes for sure! We’ve wanted to make them since we opened our shop. 

What is your take on "Relisting"?
If we don’t post a new item one week we might relist one or two items but in order to respect other sellers we never relist any more than this in one go. 

do you have one POWER TIP for getting business rolling to share with us?
MARKET MARKET MARKET! The Etsy forums and chat rooms have been helpful for us. Constantly making an appearance shows others that you care about your shop and are involved in running it well. Customer service is big as well. Maintaining good communication with buyers or other etsy sellers is important.

Many thanks to Chris & Lauren of Whimsywares for participating in my Seller Showcase!  I love these products and the creativity that goes into them.  It's always a joy to get to try out their latest achievement in soap making.  My favorite so far is the Spiced Asian Plum  & brown sugar Shea Butter bar It smells incredible and the textures are fabulous.  I absolutely recommend these products for gift-giving, or for spoiling yourself!  LOVE IT!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Craft Tip Of The Day: Get The Glue OFF!

Hi all!  I just thought I would add a quick craft tip today!

As crafters, we tend to get ourselves into some sticky situations with our glue.  The year is 2010- and we, as a civilization, have not yet come up with the technology for a glue nozzle that doesn't get at least some glue where it's not supposed to be.  This can be especially annoying when dealing with super glue or "crazy" glue, which bonds to the skin and seems to form an impenetrable plastic sheath of doom that no amount of scrubbing can remove.  Well, here's one handy little tip I've been taking advantage of for years, ever since the super-glue disaster of 2006.

The key is simple:  Nail Polish Remover!  It has to be acetone, however.

Getting all sorts of glue off of hands or fingers:

1)  Soak it.  Saturate a paper towel or cotton ball with nail polish remover and gently press it over the affected area - be careful not to use it on broken skin!  Some of the nail polish remover may drip so it would be wise to do this over the sink.  If you had a major glue disaster, and got it on a large area of skin, consider pouring the polish remover into a small container you can stick your hand into.  Let it soak in for about 10-15 seconds.

2)  Scrub it.  Grab another piece of paper towel or cotton ball -  this time making sure not to fully saturate it with the remover.  Now begin to rub the affected area in a circular motion, and the glue should begin to dissolve and/or peel off.

3)  Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all the glue is gone, and then be sure to wash your hands.  You do NOT want to get Nail Polish remover in your eyes from rubbing them absentmindedly, so you'll want to get all that residue off of your fingers.

This will not take off your skin, it works really well, and if you buy a "moisturizing" variety of nail polish remover, it actually makes your skin pretty soft!

Getting glue off of metal (such as purse frames).

Soak a cotton ball or towel in nail polish remover and then squeeze out the excess.  Gently rub in a circular motion, be careful not to get the solution on the fabric!  This should shine up and remove glue from any metal purse frame!  Now no one will ever know what a mess you made!!  haha!

Happy Crafting!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spotlight On: Amazing Etsy Seller - BUTTONHEAD!

This is the first in a series of interviews I am conducting among my favorite Etsy sellers. To kick things off I am honored to introduce my readers to BUTTONHEAD I am a big fan of her pin-back buttons and magnets!


Price range: ($1.75 - $150.00)

Sells: pinback buttons, magnets, pocket mirrors, cards, and temporary tattoos.

Open since: September 2, 2007

Custom items: Oh yes!

Featured Product: Custom Classic 2.5” Temporary Tattoos  


Hi Buttonhead! Thanks for sharing your etsy experience with us!

So, first of all, how long have you been selling on Etsy, and what products did you start out with?

Hi Joan! I have been a loyal Etsian since late 2007. I started out selling a few one-inch pinback buttons on the side. Today, I operate Buttonhead full-time. I’ve expanded the business to offer three sizes of pinback buttons, as well as magnets, mirrors, cards, and temporary tattoos. I have a retail line of items, and I also work on custom orders for other artists, small businesses, organizations, and events.

What made you to decide to sell what you sell? (for example, did it make sense from a business perspective, or you just love it, or both etc.)

I like buttons! They are little wearable pieces of art. Plus, they are the perfect outlet for my weird and random sense of life and style.

Buttonhead, you've had a great deal of success selling on Etsy, what's your number one hint or bit of advice you'd give a newbie?
Focus on repeat business, just as much as new business. I’d say 30% of my current sales are customers who enjoyed working with me and are excited to do Buttonhead again. It’s important to make sure that you are offering an amazing handmade item, as well as a personalized shopping experience. If a customer feels a special connection from the time they purchase an item to the time they use it, not only will they come back, but they will recommend you to their friends. You can’t buy that type of advertising.

What do you like most about selling on Etsy?
It allows me to connect to a worldwide network of artisans and aficionados. I’ve met so many cool and talented folks through my association with the crafting world. I truly love my Etsy friends!

What do you like least about selling on Etsy?
I really don’t have a single complaint about Etsy. I’ve always had a positive experience with the website, the administrators, and the community. I really think you get out of it what you put into it.

Do you market your Etsy shop elsewhere online? If so, where, and why?
Most of the marketing I do is independent. I promote the shop through my various art projects: videos, music, podcast, blog, photography, Twitter. Feel free to check it all out at buttonhead.org. Outside-of-the-box advertising all the way!

How do you come up with ideas for your buttons?
First, I smoke some weed. Then, I talk aloud to myself. Then, I write down the key ideas and make them into buttons. Rinse and repeat!

What is your favorite item (in your shop)?
I have a soft spot for the Animal Identity Crisis Pinback Button Set. They are one of my first and best-selling button sets. Also, they represent my sense of humor. I enjoy the unexpected.

What is your take on "relisting"?
I’m all for it! I relist 5-6 times per day. It keeps my shop looking fresh and keeps the browsers coming.

I'd like to thank BUTTONHEAD for taking the time to participate in my shop & seller profile series!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tricking Out Your Etsy Shop - The Appearance Tutorial

Here I have compiled what wisdom and experience I've gained regarding Shop Appearance - for your viewing pleasure! Tips and tricks and a touch of advice on the subject for the new (and even not so new) Etsian!

Appearances Can Be Misleading:

Etsy gives you a few simple options when it comes to customizing your shop's decor. Your Banner, your shop announcement, your avatar, and they've also added a feature that allows you to rearrange the order in which your items appear. Although it doesn't seem like these would be controversial, this is where opinions tend to diverge the most. So again, experiment, and find out what works for you.

Banner: They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but your shop and its merchandise will often be judged by the sort of first impression given by your banner. The conventional wisdom here seems to be that banners should include photos of what you sell. This is particularly true in a case where the title of the shop doesn't hint at what the shop's contents may be, but otherwise, I don't really see the point. (I mean, if they're in your shop - they can pretty much see what you sell, right?) Right. But it really is up to you. It is my opinion that a shop banner can have anything the seller wants on it, as long as it looks well-done and professional. Fuzzy, stretched, or disjointed photos make your banner look unprofessional. Etsy is a HIGHLY competitive marketplace, and you need every advantage you can possibly find. An unprofessional banner will immediately turn off any prospective customer, as it gives the impression that the seller's products may be equally shoddy. If you owned a brick and mortar store, would you want a dirty old sign made of cardboard that is about to fall apart out front? Of course not. So take the time to make a really good professional-looking banner. If you don't have access to the right software to create your own, or you just aren't that interested in doing it, Etsy is full of graphic designers who would be more than happy to custom design one for you, or you can even buy pre-made banners for your shop on the cheap! It's Easy! And as always, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, until you do! I personally like to keep a repertoire of different banners, and swap them out depending on what I have in my shop, I like to make sure the banner doesn't clash with the items in my shop. Ideally it should all fit together quite seamlessly, and give an impression of what your style is all about.

Avatar: Your avatar is a 75 X 75 pixel image that identifies the shop owner. It appears next to your posts in the forum, and also identifies you in the chat rooms, so make it "clickable" (tempting to click on) as it links to your shop. Again the conventional wisdom says to choose a photo of a particularly hot item in your shop so that others get an idea of what you sell, however, that is not always the way to go! For example, your avatar will appear even smaller in the chat rooms, so words and images can look busy or garbled or just a blur of color and lines. A white background is usually best if you decide to use a photo of an item for your avatar. Keep it simple, keep it stark, keep it identifiable, and definitely make it clickable. Trial and error is what has worked best for me. Even when you think you've gotten it right, double check and ask for a critique in the Etsy Forums The key word is "simplicity".

Your Shop Announcement: Your shop announcement appears below your banner and is one of the very first things a person lays eyes on when he or she visits your shop. There are infinite ways in which to use this space depending on your needs, but think carefully about the benefits and drawbacks of each style! Some people put a lot of information in their shop announcement, others think it is better to keep it short because the shorter it is, the more room there is for your items to show up on the front page of your shop. Some people use the space for special offers and deals, others simply welcome shoppers to their store, or write an introductory paragraph about their goods. Again, it is up to you to figure out what works best for you. Some people lay out a few of their shop's policies there, but there is a separate tab specifically for store policies, and many sellers use a link to refer shoppers to that in their announcement.

Rearranging Your Shop: If you don't use a "custom" setting, your items will appear in the order in which they were listed, with the newly listed items at the top. Personally I like to select items to showcase the broad range of prices available in my shop. And of course, the items I consider my best "eye candy"! There is also an option to "Feature" three of your listings, and I recommend you use all three! These three listings will appear at the top of your shop, side by side, and the photos will be larger than the little thumbnails below, so choose wisely! Those featured products should be your most spectacular items, but don't be afraid to switch it up now and then and give other items some time in the spotlight! Shuffling your items can help shoppers notice things that perhaps didn't stand out their first time through, so don't underestimate the power of the shop shuffle!

Playing with all of these components is a good activity to try while you are waiting on sales. It keeps you busy and improves your shop all at the same time. The more you familiarize yourself with these settings, the easier it will be to decide how to customize your shop. Don't be afraid to look around at other shops and see what makes you want to buy, and what turns you off, what seems to be working for them, and what doesn't. But be sure to invest some time and thought in the appearance of your shop!

Good Luck and Happy sales to you! Hope you found some useful tips today!
-Joan of JoanHunterHandmade on Etsy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Adventure # 1: Basic Training

I opened my Etsy shop on March 24th, 2010. Since then, my shop has undergone several complete overhauls, and continues its metamorphosis each week. In fact, if I had known how much commitment, resolve, effort, time and energy were going to go into this project, I may never have started! But I am glad that I did! Hopefully this blog will provide the newbie Etsian with some shortcuts!

Now, my first question after opening my shop was "How can I get people to check out my shop!?". Initially I consulted the Etsy forums, and with a lot of help from the critique section, my shop started to improve, and so did traffic. So to our first stop:

Adventures In The Etsy Critique Forum:

It is very important to keep an open mind when receiving criticism from other sellers. Obviously, an opinion is just an opinion and should be weighed as such, but if you maintain a positive attitude and an open mind, you can really benefit from some helpful, honest advice. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear criticism when you've spent HOURS AND HOURS working on perfecting your photos, your banner, your avatar, your shop announcement, your sections, Etcetera, but no matter how much energy you put into it, there is ALWAYS a little room for improvement, so even when it's hard, just grit your teeth, smile, and say "thank you". You never know, you might find the key to your success! If you keep an open mind about the suggestions you receive you will quickly learn what works and what doesn't, and begin to familiarize yourself with the many different options you have as an Etsy seller. As an added bonus, you'll get a little traffic from other forum-goers and you could even make a sale!

Adventures in Photography:

There are all sorts of ways to maximize your sales online, but you will get nowhere fast without GREAT photos of your merchandise. Having the right picture of your product should be rule number 1 for any online marketplace. The right picture can be the difference between "that's cute" and "GOTTA HAVE IT!". When I first opened my shop I, like most other sellers, thought all i had to do was slap some pics up online and the orders would just roll on in! Unfortunately, it's not that simple! But it doesn't have to be a big to-do either. Here are some photography tips and tricks I've learned along the way:

-The best thing I ever did for my shop was to build myself a home-made light box out of an old cardboard box and some wax paper. It only took me 20 minutes! Do a google search online and you'll find step-by-step how-to's to make a good, inexpensive light box of your very own! The box itself isn't much to look at, but it helps me take clean, effective, professional-looking photos of my items, and that really helps your product stand out amongst the competition!
- I highly recommend the use of a white background in your photos. Some printer paper will do the trick! Personally, I like using props and other decorations in my photos, but since the size of the thumbnail is so limited, my pictures just wound up looking messy and my product difficult to pick out. I save the more elaborate photos for my posters, which we will discuss in an upcoming section!
- Just like any other new endeavor it can take some time and experimentation before you get the result you're looking for. It's okay to get frustrated and do a little foot stomping and mutter some naughty words under your breath, but don't give up! Keep trying, experimenting and learning, and in a short time you will have a system in place that saves you time and energy, and you will have gained experience and skill along the way!

Adventures in Marketing:

This is the Etsy mystery of mysteries. Where, how, and with whom to market your new Etsy shop! Ask any Etsy seller and you will get a hundred different answers from different folks. Since a lot of it depends on what you are selling, your target market, and your particular price-range, there is no ONE right way to market an Etsy shop. The best advice I can give you is EXPERIMENT. TRY EVERYTHING, and find out what works best for YOU. Be prepared to throw a little money away in the process. If you're not willing to waste a few dollars on an ineffective avenue, you may never find out what really DOES work. Listed here are a few of the techniques I have tried, as well as a few suggestions I've picked up from others. As you can see, there are MANY options available to you!

Some sellers make lots of sales from twitter, and some don't make any. There is one way to find out which category you belong to - try it! Signing up for a twitter account is free and easy. (Go to www.twitter.com to find out how.) My personal experience with twitter has been mixed. At first I was super excited that whenever I sent a tweet (with a description and a link to a listing), my item's views would instantaneously go up y 20-40 new views!!! Unfortunately, I soon found out that 99% of these new views were generated by roving internet bots, that is computers with software which perform repetitive tasks, and NOT actual people who might be interested in buying my product! So, I haven't bothered too much with twitter since. However, once you send out a tweet, your listing has appeared in another *fairly prominent* place on the world wide web, thus increasing the chances, however slight, that the right customer will find it.

Facebook Fan Pages:
This is where the majority of my sales have come from, and many other sellers have had success with their FB Fan sites, as well. As my shop was extremely new, and internet shoppers hadn't found out about my wonderful goodies yet, my friends and family were becoming aware that I had a shop, and discovering what was in it thanks to my FB Fan Page, and I am happy to report a number of sales have transpired as a result! It took some time, however, before the Fan Page picked up steam, and at first I was discouraged, but I'm glad I kept with it, because it has dramatically increased my internet presence and has provided all of my facebook contacts with easy access to my shop and my products.

Purchasing Ads on Facebook: I've purchased items from shops who advertised on facebook, so I thought I would give it a try myself and see how it went. Facebook has a really nifty system that helps you easily create an ad and target exactly the people you think would be interested in your merchandise. Unfortunately, depending on your target audience, this can get expensive pretty quickly. Facebook's default system is done on a "per-click" basis. You, the seller, will place a bid on the maximum amount you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on your ad to visit your store, and based on that bid, you compete with other advertisers to have your ad displayed on a potential customer's Facebook Ad space. Generally, bidding under 50 cents per click wont get you anywhere. Unfortunately, this can add up quite fast, especially if you take into account how many people have to view your shop before you actually get a buyer. I continue to advertise on facebook but I keep my bids really low these days, because 50 cents per click isn't going to get me the number of views I need in order to make a sale before I reach my limit! So again, mixed results there. But exposure is exposure! Some other places to advertise, probably a bit less pricey:

Joining Other Craft Sites:
This is an easy, inexpensive way to do some show-and-tell, network with other artisans, make friends, and increase your internet presence. Some great sites include:
Just to get you started :D

Etsy Chat Rooms:
Last, but certainly not least, the Etsy Chat rooms are a MUST for networking, marketing, and having a LOT of fun. You can find the chats by clicking on the "community" tab in "your etsy" or from the homepage. I've made a sale in the chat rooms, and I've found some "gotta have it" items, too! I've also made lots of new Etsy friends, increased my views and hearts, and gained a lot of wisdom and encouragement. Definitely worth checking out!!
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Adventures of the Heart:

Be generous with your Hearts, not only will you be able to keep track of your favorite sellers and items on Etsy, you'll connect with people who share a similar esthetic taste, and thereby form a community from which you may potentially get some sales. You know how nice it feels when you see new hearts for your shop or your lovingly hand-made items! Give others the same thrill when you see something you love! Before you know it, you'll be part of a huge mutual admiration society :D and getting seen by new people doesn't hurt your business, either!

Adventures in Listing Items:
Etsy makes listing items a piece of cake. The main ingredients in a good listing include a good Title, description, tags, photos, and of course the right price!

Titles: I always want to give my items artistic and flowery titles that I think capture the "mood" of my creations. Unfortunately, that really doesn't help your item get seen by people looking for exactly what you have for sale! The trick to item titles is to touch on color, material, and of course, what the item is. For example, instead of an abstract title such as "Gentle Forest Breeze necklace" it is better to have key words that identify the listing like "Orange Aventurine leaf necklace OOAK". I know it sounds boring and utilitarian, but how many people are going to search for a "gentle forest breeze" when what they are looking for is an orange gemstone necklace or leaf pendant? Not many! You can add as much poetry and prose as you want in your item's description!

Description: A basic description should always include color, materials used, and measurements in both inches and centimeters - those are the bare minimum. Additional information can include what inspired you to make the item, any special features that might not be self-evident, links to matching products, and other descriptive details you'd like to share with your customers.

Tags: First, a word of caution, customers and Etsians alike really get their knickers in a bunch when they see inaccurate or misleading tags. It's tacky, and it's sort of cheating, so DON'T DO IT. It's not worth any extra views you may get, because it's going to tick people off. Instead, cover the basics, especially COLOR. Tag every conceivable color in your item, and use all 14 available tags, don't leave any empty. Another crafty little trick is to imagine you are a customer looking for exactly that item and do a search on Etsy using key words that you'd use like "Green knitted sweater" for example. See what comes up, and take a look at the tags for that item. If they fit your item as well, use them! Also keep an eye on what items are getting the most views in other shops, check out those tags, and if appropriate, use them! No shame in copying tags, as long as they are correct and appropriate to your item!

Price: It can be tempting as a newbie to under-price your items, in the hopes that they will sell more quickly. In my experience, lowering the price doesn't do a thing to help me sell. What helps my items move is just having the right person see the right product, and boom! So when considering price, take into account how much time and effort it took for you to make that item, factor in how much the materials cost, and don't forget the time and effort you put into photographing and presenting your item, because you should expect to be paid for that as well, that's just overhead! Another important activity is checking out how much other people are charging for similar items. Visit other stores and scope out the prices. Try to price things based on what it is worth, how much you think shoppers would be willing to pay, and what the competition is doing with their pricing. A synthesis of these methods will produce a perfectly priced item every time :D

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Finally, let me close this post with perhaps the most important advice I have to give:

Starting an Etsy shop is a lot like planting a seed. At first you will be very impatient so see it begin to sprout, but you can't rush it, you simply have to wait, water, nurture and love what you've begun. As you wait, continue to cultivate, till the soil and pull weeds. Being a member of the Etsy community, you will gradually grow strong root systems that will go deeper, and deeper into the marketplace as time goes on. Soon your shop will start to sprout! Don't stomp on it and say "Hey! There aren't any flowers on you!" Instead, applaud your little seedling for the new growth and continue to patiently and diligently garden until one day your shop will be in full bloom!! Good luck! :D



Well this post kicks off my Etsy Adventures blog, where I share my experiences owning a shop on Etsy - a place to buy and sell handmade items. I will record my various efforts at marketing and making sales, as well as profile some of my very favorite Etsy sellers. This blog will hopefully be full of helpful hints, tips and tricks to Etsy success. Thanks and happy reading!!