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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Little Bird, My Solution to Sanding Dust, Exploring Google Trends

The Rescue

The other day, Mom and I are eating lunch and we hear “smack!”. A bird had flown into the window. I looked outside and see a cat investigating something on the porch so I went out there and when I had determined that the cat hadn’t yet done anything to the little fellow, I scooped him up and figured he’d take off the second I opened my hand.

He wouldn’t fly so we put in the loquat tree and waited until he shook off the incident and finally flew off.

Sanding Makes a Mess

I mentioned that I had made a new “contraption” for my workshop. Well, here it is. Sanding metal makes a huge mess. I wear goggles and a respirator (of course), but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with all the metal dust particles left all over the workshop. So usually I sand outside, but that entails carrying all my stuff out there and of course I never remember to bring everything I need on my first trip out.

So here’s my solution. I took a regular cardboard file box and cut off the top. Then I cut two “arm” holes in the front. I taped Saran plastic wrap to seal the top. Then I took some latex kitchen gloves, cut off the fingers, splayed open the wrist portion, and taped them to the two “arm” holes.

Now I can sand inside the box and all the dust stays put. Yay!


Oh, I don’t think I showed you these. I made them for myself (steel and resin/paint).

Also made this for myself.

Google Trends

Want another internet way of wasting time? Check out Google Trends.

Put in keywords and see what’s trending on Google (or what other people are searching for on Google and what country they’re from).

As About.com puts it: “This isn't a measure of searches, but it is a measure of what people are talking about on the Internet.”

I found it interesting that the U.S. comes up first when searching on the word “handcrafted” and Vietmam comes up first when searching on the word “handmade”. But put in “handmade jewelry” and we’re back to the U.S.

When you scroll down, you can see the top related searches. I just find this stuff interesting.

You can compare search terms. For example, “handmade jewelry” seems to have (for the past ten years at least) always been searched on way more than “handcrafted jewelry”.

“Handmade” and “artisan” are must closer in searches…

… until you add the word jewelry to them. Then we have an even larger split.

Just something to kill 15 minutes when you want to play around with words. Who knows, it may help with your SEO.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Image Limitations on Blogger, A Good Article on Jewelry Wire Quality, A Mini Rant (or Observation) about Selling Online

Do you have a blog? Did you know there are limits to the amount of images you can have/store on your blogger account?

There's a limit to my Blogger images?!

I just learned this today. Here’s an article talking about it:

I didn’t even know our photos were stored on a Picasa account. I’ve heard that if our photos are less than 800x800 pixels, they don’t count towards our 1G allotment. I went and looked at my Picasa Web Album account and sure enough, even between the three blogs on my account it said I was using 0% of my allotment. Yay!

But size isn’t everything. You can also only have 1000 images… sort of. According to the article: “Once you go over that 1000 limit, Picasa Web should create a new album for your blog to store another 1000 pictures. Here’s a catch: adding that 1001st picture has to be done with your computer NOT your smart phone.”

Now for some jewelry-making info… Here’s a good article (well, it's both a video and a transcription of the video) I ran across today that covers some helpful tips for making your wire jewelry higher quality.

Why am I a Success on eBay?

Then later in the day, as I was checking my eBay listings, I got to thinking… I never EVER advertising, market, or promote my eBay listings. Not only do I never mentioned them in my blog or on Facebook or anywhere, I can’t even remember the last time I sent out one of the emails that eBay tries to get you to send out to people who are subscribed to your store.

To compensate for eBay’s higher fees, I even have my prices higher at eBay than at my other stores.

And yet I still sell way (WAY!) more on eBay than on Etsy.

Does this validate my feelings that when I’m paying an online venue, I feel like part of what I’m paying for is the fact that THEY should be bringing in the foot traffic.

I market my website and my Etsy store… religiously.

What I don’t do is play around on the Etsy forums…. Is that important to sales? I hope not. I’d like to think Etsy attracts customers who are not other Etsy sellers.

But eBay has vindicated my reasoning that a large part of what I pay for when I pay seller’s fees to an online selling venue is for the fact that THEY are brining traffic to my shop.

I have done some things recently to increase the views in my Etsy shop and I’m very determined to make my Etsy shop a success someday. I just wanted to say that I do believe a certain portion of the responsibility lies with the venue.

I can’t even blame the mass-produced imports pretending to be handmade that flourish on Etsy because eBay has the same and more. So what IS the difference? Why are people buying from my eBay store and not my Etsy store? (Then again I was also a failure on Zibbet and ArtFire… did okay on RubyLane but that was awfully expensive, IMO.)

Ah well, the mysteries of the business.

Some of My Recent Listings

Here is a cute pair of earrings I made. Domed some copper then enameled the top in black then added some gold and fired it on.

Here’s a micro-mosaic pendant (kind of matches the earrings I showed you yesterday).

Oooh, and I love how these came out… white bronze earrings formed on a vintage button used as a mold.

Alright, catch you later!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Metal Clay Pieces (including wonderful kiln-produced colors), Geting Ready for the EtsyMetal Charm Swap, and Info on Titanium Druzy

Had my nose to the grindstone a lot lately… or near the kiln anyway.  Lots of metal clay goings on.

I’m taking part in EtsyMetal’s 12th charm swap.  The idea is that 20 metal artists each make 22 identical charms and everyone involved gets a charm from everyone else (so each metal artist ends up with 20 different charms from the 20 participating artists).  The 21st charm goes into the EtsyMetal team shop and the 22nd charm gets added to the charm swap bracelet that also goes into the EtsyMetal team shop.  You can see some of the charms and charm bracelets in the store now (click on sold items as well as current items).  50% of the proceeds of the sale of the bracelet goes to a specially selected charity.

My charm is a hollow lentil made of copper with a dimensional spiral on each side. It’s about ¾ of an inch across.

A couple of metal clay pendants and earrings got added to my shop this week. You can check out the new stuff by clicking here.

And for the SRAJD Project Runway Challenge, these shoes... 

Inspired me to make this necklace...

I made this for a friend who has been more like family than friend lately. Just can’t thank her enough.

BTW, if you make jewelry and think you might be interested in trying to make etched pieces from photographs, check out my tutorial.

Any of you know what Titanium Drusy is?

Here’s a good (IMO) article on the subject (of how to tell real from fake).

Excerpt from the article: Drusies are created by a natural process that forms tiny crystals on a matrix surface... Drusies are beautiful in their own right, but they are often enhanced in a chemical process called Chemical Vapor Deposition(CVD) in which the drusies are exposed in a gaseous environment that contains a metal like titanium. During the process the metal bonds on a molecular level with the mineral resulting in a spectacular rainbow of colors. By varying the metals and process parameters a host of colors and shades can be created."

I’d like to thank Szarka Dianne Carter for letting me use example photos from her shop: Magpie Gemstones (I just think blogs should always show photos with stories.)

Oh, and last but not least, I wanted to show you so cool colors my bronze produced straight out of the kiln.  Well, actually, these photos are after the metal cooled down.  STRAIGHT out of the kiln they were even more saturated.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How I Increased My Etsy Views ... and Some Metal Clay Heart Jewelry

My latest “research” has to do with Etsy stats.  I wanted to see if I noticed a difference by consistently relisting 5 items every day.

I wrote down the daily views/visits for every day in July 2013.  Then starting on August 1st, I began renewing 5 items a day, and tallied my daily views/visits.

There can be a lot of factors that play into these numbers that has nothing to do with relisting.  Time of year, my social media activity levels, etc.  But The numbers came out significantly enough for me to want to continue the testing.

BTW, we can mention that Etsy has never been one of my best venues.  It’s not as bad for me as some others were, but it’s right up there with pretty much laying dormant (or is that lying?).  Nonetheless, I like Etsy.  Well, I don’t like how the commercially made stuff is almost fully integrated with the self-represented handmade stuff, but the fees aren’t bad, they look is very nice, and I’m making a lot of wonderful acquaintances through Etsy.  They do bring in a certain amount of their own foot-traffic (which is a biggie for me because I don’t promote my eBay or Etsy stores… any time or money I have for promotion goes directly to my own website).  So a site that can bring in foot-traffic without me doing much is important to me.  That’s probably why Artfire and I weren’t a good match.  I listed over there but never did anything to promote my shop… or my zibbet shop or my Rubylane shop, or my

Just realized I have an account at Handmade Artists.  I don’t have anything listed there, though.  Does anyone have any opinions of or experience with that place?

I also set up my Square store, but have been dragging my feet about listing in it.  I don’t really get the Square Market yet… I mean, shopping-wise.  Do you have to use keyword search to find anything?  I don’t see any categories or anything like that.   Then say I search on the word “necklace”… is that it?  I’m supposed to just scroll to find what I want?  Ick!  Either I’m missing something very major or fingers crossed they change the way customers can look at products soon.   At least put a price sorter there.

In an attempt to find a couple more I tried out, I googled several articles of lists of handmade online venues.  Since I didn’t see any of the other ones I had shops in, I’m guessing they fell into oblivion.

And I hate to say it but the ones I found that really and truly seem to only have handmade items (no vintage, no supplies, no mass-produced imports) look very bedraggled.

I supposed it’s the holy grail to find a wonderfully established, highly polished-looking online selling venue that only allows truly artist-represented handmade goods.

Okay, back to my original reason for posting here tonight.  I forgot WHY I got off on that tangent, but I think it was to explain to you why my Etsy numbers (views/visits/sales) are so low (which is because I don't actively promote my Etsy store).  I’d love it if my numbers weren’t low and I’ll do as much as I am comfortable doing in order to bring the numbers up. 

In July of 2013, my monthly total for views was 860 (that’s an average of 27 views per day).  I made 3 total sales.  I had listed or renewed 30 items during the entire month. 

I should also tell you that when I have an Etsy “sale”, it’s usually a tutorial.  I rarely sell my jewelry (yet) on Etsy.  That’s one of the things I’d like to see changing in the near future.

So anyway, in August of 2013, I tried to make a point to renew 5 items per day, not all at once, but spread out throughout the day.  A couple times I forgot some and ended up renewing 2-4 in the wee hours, but you never know when people are around (although they really ARE mostly around M-F between working hours).

So for August, by listing or renewing 5 items a day (for a total of 155 for the month), my views for the month increased to 2048 (a 238% increase from July).  My daily average number of views went from 27 to 66. 

There is, of course, more cost involved.  Listing 5 items a day for a month is $31 (or $30, depending on the month). 

My sales, however, doubled.  (Again, don’t get too excited… we’re talking about tutorials here).

I didn’t lose money in August, but I didn’t make significant gains.  I feel it may take time to see the real growth and I’m not ready to stop yet.

There are definitely people out there who say (and perhaps rightly so) that renewing items is only a money maker for Etsy, not for the shop.  We’ll see.  I like research.  I’m going to continue my testing and see where it leads.  I’d love to someday have a viable (aka profitable) Etsy store.

I’m going to tell you something sad and stubborn now.  Prior to my recent “August” test, my views had been pretty much the same from month to month… for the past year only though.  Before that, my views were high.  But not because people were looking at my handmade jewelry.  It’s because I was destashing my beading supplies.  Yes, that brings the people in.  And views are views, right?  Maybe.  But here’s where the stubborn comes in.  I want this Etsy store to be about my jewelry… so I opened another Etsy store for my destash and ne’er the twain shall meet (except for a mention in the store blurb because that’s Etsy TOS).

With an average daily view in July of 27, I wanted my August average daily view to be 50  That was my goal.  So I very happily surpassed that goal.  Yay!

Anyway, September’s looking pretty good.  Maybe with the kids all heading back to school, parents have some breathing room to peruse the internet.  Whatever it is, I hope the trend continues because my average views for the first 6 days of September are 92 (remember July was 27 and August was 66). 

Anyway, let me show you what I’ve been working on (because my other goal is to have 100 items in my shop… I currently have 82.

I made a little faceted Black Spinel ensemble for the Project Runway Jewelry Challenge we’re running on the SRAJD blog.

And also for the PR challenge, a heavy, colorful necklace.

Then we have a spurt of metal clay (mostly copper and white bronze) and hearts, apparently.

Now I’ll leave you with a link to what I’ve decided to put on my Christmas wishlist (‘cause a gal never have too many gadgets):  Fabtotum Personal 3-D Printer