Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jasper Moon Prayer Beads

My new Facebook page for Jasper Moon Prayer Beads has 52 'Likes'. Not bad for only being up since January 13th. I'm constantly trying to promote the page and get the number of followers higher. I sent out a bunch of personal requests this evening to people on my Friend List.

Jasper Moon Prayer Beads

Last night, I received a note from a lady in the Ottawa area who makes and sells chain mail jewelry. She has over 1400 'Likes' on her business page! 

Linkit's Chainmail and Accessories

When she hits 1500 followers, she plans to host a Fan Giveaway and has opened it up to a few select vendors like me. She wants to help others promote their pages too.

Here's how it will work. Each vendor offers up a couple of items for the giveaway. There will be individual draws for each item. To qualify to win, participants will have to leave a comment about the photo of the item AND they will have to 'Like' her page, plus the vendors' page also.

What a great idea! Hopefully, that will generate more traffic to my page. The more exposure, the more sales, right? It really is a numbers game and I totally understand that.

I remember when I was doing telemarketing, for every 10 calls you make, you 'might' get one positive response. The more calls you could squeeze into an 8 hour shift, the better you did. And it could be the LAST 10 calls out of 100 you make that will garner a 'hit'.

Naturally, I signed up to participate as a vendor. I made a couple of special pocket-size prayer bead sets to offer in the giveaway. All I have to do was send her photos of the two items and then advertise the event on all my social media networks at the appropriate time.

See photos of the two items that I made especially for this event...

Pocket-Size Goddess Prayer Beads
Celebrate the Sacred Feminine

Pocket-Size Tree of Life Prayer Beads
Celebrate the Seasons

As soon as the event dates are announced, I will let you all know. I think the whole concept is quite ingenious and perhaps worthy of looking into further if this one is successful.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Do Or Not To Do - 7th Bead Soup Blog Party

I sat on the fence about it for some time. Did I or didn't I want to participate this time? The answer was no AND yes.

No, I am too busy trying to promote my business to generate my online sales. No, with all the pain I'm in and everything else I have to do, I don't have the energy for it.

BUT, yes I have enjoyed it in the past, even if I did agonize over my design longer than necessary. Yes, I want to because it will be the only one that Lori is hosting this year and I don't want to miss my chance.

I'd already sent an e-mail to Lori stating that I could not participate this time but as the hour drew closer to the end of the sign up period, I filled in my participation form.

So, I'm doing it. I've signed up for the third blog hop date (April 13th), hoping that things will be settled down a bit more by that time. I might not get a chance to visit many of the blogs or comment on the creations but at the end of the day, I could not pass on this fun activity.

At last count, there was just over 500 participating!! That's incredible, isn't it?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 4

This weeks’ photo prompt is CREATE ART. Think of the first medium that comes to your mind...beads, wire, fibers, paper, paint, clay or crayons. Push yourself to try something new.

According to the Webster’s dictionary, ART is ‘the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also works so produced'. So in light of that, what is ART? I think it's pretty hard to pin down precisely and that everyone has their own interpretation, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The first medium that came to my mind was paper. A friend of mine sent me a couple of beautiful, hand-made greeting cards last year and I have wanted to try my hand at card making ever since. The ‘thought’ of scrapbooking has intrigued me for years too.

As I was out looking for supplies this week, I recalled why I never actually did it. You need a lot of supplies for paper crafts. Different scissors, coloured pens, stickers, fancy papers, die cuts, ribbon, lace, rubber stamps, etc. And the supplies are expensive! Then you have to have a way to store all the leftover bits and pieces there would inevitably be.

That’s why I'd ended up purchasing a scrapbook page making software for my computer. It was relatively inexpensive and I had fun with it for awhile. I think it might be time to start playing around with it again.

Carnelian Tree of Life Pendant

So the paper crafts were not happening this week but I did CREATE ART with beads and wire and nylon cord. I’m continually making Tree of Life pendants. They are a popular item at events we attend and it's hard for me to keep them in stock. I made a couple of sets of meditation beads to sell on Etsy also. 

Sodalite Meditation Beads

Then I used my newly acquired Photoshop skills to add my company logo to the photos. Graphic ART is art too, right?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

53 Days Until Spring

I've had enough of this cold weather! I'm ready for Spring. The widget I downloaded onto my blog (see right sidebar) is telling me that there are 53 days, 22 hours left until Spring arrives as I am writing this. By the time you are reading it, we will be even closer.

To cheer myself up, I created a few colour palettes to herald in the coming season. It's given me a chance to practice my new Photoshop skills too.

Is it Spring yet? Well, perhaps not...but it IS closer!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Old Dog, New Tricks

Who originally said that ‘you can't teach an old dog, new tricks’? E.C Brewer, who lived between 1810 and 1897, gets credit in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable published in 1898. I’m convinced that some form of this idiom has been around much longer though, according to some basic research that I’ve done online.

I don’t know about dogs, but gratefully, the same does not appear to be true for people. It can be difficult to change a person’s habits as they get older or get them to accept new ideas and technologies, that’s true. They can learn, if they want to.

Remember the 5.25" Floppy Discs?
Take me, for example. Before I got my first computer, I was convinced that I could never learn how to use one. I told my son that I was too old to learn how to do that (I was 36 years old at the time). With his encouragement, however, I did try. Voila! I found out that I could learn how to use a computer.

My skills and confidence grew from there. And they continue to grow to this day. Just this morning, I learned how to layer pictures in Adobe Photoshop. I went to Google, typed in the question, and found the information I needed to figure it out. And I did it all by myself! Who knew?

Here is my first attempt. I wanted to add my company logo to a colour palette I created, and I did it! I was quite pleased with myself, I must say.

In my opinion, life is a continual learning process. We should never remain stagnant and unwavering. There’s a whole world of new possibilities out there. Look around, they are not hard to find. *smile*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 3

When was the last time you took a few moments for yourself? Time without feeling guilty about all the tasks & chores you 'should' be doing. Time to relax and recharge.

Our challenge this week was two-fold. First, we had to take some time for ourselves, in whatever way worked best for us, and then to document it with a photo.

The first thing that always comes to my mind when I want to relax and recharge is tea. A nice hot cuppa tea, with milk (not cream). Milk first, of course. *smile* There is a very specific ritual to making this tea also. The water must be boiled, not merely hot. The teapot must be warmed with boiling water, then dumped out, before the teabag and more boiling water are poured into it.  A quilted cozy can keep it warm until serving, if you have one.

The tea must be hot when consumed. If it's had time to go cold, I was not relaxing at all. I was likely busily doing other stuff, probably for other people. Drinking tea with a friend is much better than drinking tea alone. Even if we don't say a word to each other, the act of savouring the hot brew together is pure bliss.

If I happen to be alone with my tea, having a thought provoking book or my latest knitting project in hand is a really pleasant way to relax after a challenging day. I can feel my blood pressure go down just thinking about it.

You'll have to excuse me now. I can hear my kettle whistling. The water is boiled, it's time for tea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marketing & Coffee Mugs

This will be a bit long winded but please bear with me, I do have a point to make.

I received a new coffee mug as a Christmas gift. Written on the mug are the words “Naughty is the New Nice”. Of course, the words are not relevant to the discussion but they do make me smile. 

While drinking from my mug this morning, I was reminded of a time a few years back when the company I was working for were looking to purchase coffee mugs with our logo on them as a promotional piece to hand out to customers & prospects.

There was a lot of discussion among my colleagues about which side of the mug our logo should be on. Here’s how the thought process went…

1.  There are more right-handed people than left-handed people in the world.

2.  Assuming the above, most people will hold their mugs in the right hand as they drink their coffee or tea.

3.   Should the logo face the person using the mug so they can see it while they are drinking, think about our company’s products/services, then purchase from us because we are the first company that comes to their mind when looking for those products/services? After all, they see our logo in front of them several times each day.

4. Or should the logo face away from the person drinking the coffee so that everyone who passes by can see our logo and company name, wonder about us & what we do, then start making inquiries about what our company can do for them? And, naturally, purchase from us when they know. We’d get exposure to more people this way, right?

The final decision we came to does not make a difference here.  The point that I'm finally trying to make is this: Presentation is important. Even the smallest of details must be considered when creating a marketing program to implement and getting your products/services known & respected.

In the case of what I'm doing, I have to put lots of thought into things like taking good photos of my products, writing clear, concise & compelling descriptions for my listings, shipping orders quickly, quality business cards, public presentation at events, interesting & informative blog posts, etc.

It's a lot of hard work and very time consuming, but when the sales start coming satisfying. *smile*

Monday, January 14, 2013

Promoting a Product

Your ultimate goal is to sell products. You need multiple strategies to promote that product or service, utilizing all forms of social media, on top of your website or online shop and the shows & events you attend.

Your marketing needs to be very specific. For example, having a Facebook business page called Acme Ltd. will most likely not get you the traffic you are looking for.  Using your name will not be successful either, except among your friends & family, and they will want a discount because they ‘know’ you. However, a page called Acme Toothbrushes will come up in any search for ‘toothbrushes’ getting you more hits, and hopefully, more sales.

Posting links to your new shop listings or website updates on Twitter and Facebook is another way to get your products out there. Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular and having an album or two specifically dedicated to your products will gain you more exposure as well.  Once again, be specific with your album titles.

Provide relevant content to your posts & pages, not just links to your listings. Going back to Acme Toothbrushes, write an article or share one someone else has written (with permission & giving credit) on how to properly brush your teeth or comparing toothpaste brands.

Asking your social network to help spread the word is an excellent strategy too. Remember that old commercial where two friends, tell two friends, who in turn tell two friends? That can expand into something really BIG, really fast.

My goal this week is to develop an integrated strategy, using all the above online forums, to promote one aspect of my business, Prayer Beads.  I have a new Facebook business page (JasperMoon Prayer Beads) and you can follow me on Twitter (@jasper_moon). Tweets will not be restricted to prayer beads but certainly anything new I create or interesting facts I find will be shared.

I still seem to be having issues with my Pinterest board that I will try to sort out as quickly as possible.  I uploaded a photo earlier but now it is gone. *big sigh* Another learning curve. Thank goodness you can teach this old dog, new tricks. *smile*

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Memories & Thanks Blog Hop

My friend and I have much in common, as well as, many fundamental differences.  We can talk for hours on end, or sit quietly together & say nothing at all.  I found this lovely poem before the holidays that kind of summarizes how I feel about my friend, Yvonne.  I could not have said it better myself.

A Friend's Greeting

"I'd like to be the sort of friend
     that you have been to me;
I'd like to be the help that you've been
     always glad to be;
I'd like to mean as much to you
     each minute of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine,
     to me along the way.

I'd like to do the big things
     and the splendid things for you,
To brush the gray out of your skies
     and leave them only blue;
I'd like to say the kindly things
     that I so oft have heard,
And feel that I could rouse your soul
     the way that mine you've stirred.

I'd like to give back the joy
     that you have given me,
Yet that were wishing you a need
     I hope will never be;
I'd like to make you feel
     as rich as I, who travel on
Undaunted in the darkest hours
     with you to lean upon.

I'm wishing at this Christmas time
     that I could but repay
A portion of the gladness
     that you've strewn along the way;
And could I have one wish this year,
     this only would it be:
I'd like to be the sort of friend
     that you have been to me."

from Collected Verse of Edgar Guest
NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 16

Here is the necklace that I created with her in mind.  Yes, she likes purple...a lot.  *smile*  That is why I chose the amethyst focal and nugget beads for this project.  Even the glass spacers are purple. This no-frills design perfectly suits her personality. She has no need for fancy trimmings or excessive glitz & glam. She shines in her own right.

Amethyst Focal Bead

Button Loop Clasp

Thank you, Yvonne, for being my friend.

To read more about the inspiration for this blog hop, click here.  Please take time to check out the designs of some of the other participants by visiting the link below.

Focusing on Life - Week 2

What is the one word or resolution that is going to help you focus on your life this year, make you more confident in your abilities, make you happy! That was the photo prompt of the week.

From the moment I read that, the word that jumped out at me was "CREATIVITY". I've been suffering from the creative equivalent to "writer's block" for too long now.

I need to set my creativity in motion this year. I have to stop over-analysing every facet of every project and let them 'flow' as they should. I can't allow the lack of 'perfection' stop me from completing them.

I want to expand my creative horizons. I want to experiment with new materials and techniques. I want to make beautiful things that I am proud of and that others will enjoy too.

There is an artist buried somewhere deep inside of me that I want to find and release this year. So, hanging on the wall of my work space is this sign I made to remind me of my purpose and keep me on track.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Customer Service - What To Do

I received a package in the mail today. I purchased a couple of beads from Suburban Girl’s Etsy shop. Here is what she did ‘right’ to extend good will to me as a customer.

- I received a friendly e-mail from her after I placed the order
- My order was shipped quickly, as promised
- Protective bubble wrap & tape was used to protect & secure the beads
- Sent in bubble envelope adequately taped to avoid opening during transit
- Since it came across the border, appropriate customs label attached
- My beads came in a small organza bag with her business card
- She included a personal hand written note card thanking me for my order & wishing me a Happy New Year
 - AND she sent a free ‘Thank You’ bead also

Now it’s my turn to thank her for the exemplary customer service she gave to me for my very small order. I am highly motivated to purchase from her again. And that is what good customer service is supposed to accomplish.

Thank you, Diana. The beads are perfectly suited to the project I had in mind.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Procrastination Plagues Me

According to the dictionary, procrastination is the act of intentionally & habitually putting off something (or multiple things) that should be done. Unfortunately, I'm quite good at this.

Even now, what could I or should I be doing at this moment instead of sitting in front of my computer pondering the meaning of procrastination and how it is impacting my life & work?

Perhaps the thought exercise itself will help me understand why I submit to it and how I can make fundamental changes. I guess, as they say, the first step is admitting that you have a problem.  Well, I admit it.

But why do I procrastinate? What reasons, or should I say excuses, do I use to justify putting things off? I think this is worth putting some thought into as I get off this chair, go to the spare room and sort through those bins I've been avoiding for quite some time.

If I ever hope to get any of the projects completed on my yearly To Do List, I have to find a way to conquer it.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Project Plans For This Year

I have lots of new projects, potential new projects, half-finished projects and barely started projects that I want to get done this year. Will I be able to complete them all? Perhaps...if I can keep my focus and avoid the inevitable procrastination that plagues me.

Here are some of my project goals for 2013...

1. Tablet weaving - I bought an inkle loom two years ago and learned how to use it last year. I worked away on it for awhile, then have set it aside. This year, I want to figure out how to do some of the more elaborate patterns.

My First Tablet Weaving Project

2. Knitting - Many moons ago, I used to do a lot of knitting. My mother and I entered our handiwork in local craft fairs and between us, we cleaned up on the first place ribbons. I'd forgotten how relaxing it is to knit until I picked up the needles and made a couple of Christmas gifts recently.

Scarf Knitted with Bernat Boa Yarn

3. Quilting - I have so much fabric around here that I've picked up over the years for this purpose. There are a couple of quilt square patterns I have been wanting to try, especially the house pattern below. This year, I really need to move forward on this.

House Quilt Square Pattern

And all of the above projects are on top of the jewelry, prayer beads and paper craft (paper beads & card making) projects I want to accomplish this year. When will I find enough time for them all? Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 1

This week's task is to capture a self-portrait to show our beauty within, not focusing on the perceived imperfections we have, concentrating on our strengths & courage.  I decided to focus on my eyes.

The eyes are the window to the soul.
~~ William Shakespeare ~~

Try staring into someone’s eyes for an uninterrupted 15 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. All the expression you feel comes through your eyes. The eyes can appear to glow from excitement and reflect your enjoyment of life. They can also show the depth of sadness and despair in your heart. 

By looking into a persons eyes, you can see all their hidden emotions, attitudes and thoughts.  They eyes truly are the windows to the soul.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Creating More Colour Palettes

Last year, I found a tutorial on Brandi Girl Blog that helped me learn how to create a colour palette.  I had fun with it for a few days, even posted to this blog about it, then promptly set it aside and forgot how to do it.

Over the holidays, I went back to the tutorial and refreshed my memory.  In order to remember how to do it this time, I’m going to create one 'practice' palette per day and post them to my Jasper Moon Facebook page.

Here are a few that I have done over the last couple of days...

I would like to use photos that inspire me to create palettes and then try to incorporate the theme & colours into my jewelry designs. A tall task for the new year but you might as well start off with lofty goals. *smile*