Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Taking Excellent Product Photos

Taking excellent product photos is absolutely crucial to having a successful online hand-made business. That is a fact that cannot be challenged or denied.

I, personally, have a lot to learn about taking excellent product photos. That, also, is a fact that cannot be challenged or denied.

Let me try to evaluate some of the current photos in my Etsy shop. Of the most common photography mistakes, here are the ones that I seem to consistently make...

1. Poor lighting
2. Distracting backdrops and props
3. Grainy images
4. Strong hard shadows

How do I fix those classic errors? Let's first look at a few simple solutions.

Utilize natural light but when not possible, and artificial light must be used, select white not yellow light. Photograph on a plain white background without props. The extra clutter distracts from your product. Do not over-process photos after downloading them to avoid the grainy images. To eliminate harsh shadows don't use the flash when taking photos.

It looks like I have some work to do. No time like the present to get started on it. I have a lot of new photos to take and replace in my Etsy shop.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Making Progress On The Etsy Shop

Work on my Etsy shop is progressing. I've asked several people I know and trust to give me some constructive feedback. I want to get my shop generating lots of activity and sales in 2015.

The new banner is almost ready to upload. Then I will be adding a photo of myself on my profile page. Several people have told me that showing my smiling face will help sell product. We will see how that works. *smile*

I added detailed Shipping & Policies information. I looked at the type of information other shop owners had up and decided what policies will work for me. Some people had policies that, I thought, bordered on hostile and I don't think that is the best customer service protocol. I understand the need to be firm and clear but the confrontational attitude could be counter-productive, in my humble opinion.
Good example of a bad photo

Something else that needs improvement is my product photos. I already knew this but more than one other person has pointed that out too. The lack of the proper equipment and skills are the two biggest problems. I can certainly research photography techniques and apply the ones that I can but there is no money in the budget at this time for a better camera.

I have made slight modifications on my About Me page. I will likely make a few more changes before I'm totally happy with it. But the good news is...I'm making progress.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writing Your 'About Me' Page

How do you approach writing your About Me page on Etsy, so people get to feel like they know you, like you and trust you? Do you go with the friendly, conversational introduction or the crisp, professional presentation? Which method will garner you the most success?

I think that my current profile on Etsy is the more the friendly type. See the full text below. What do you think?

Hi, my name is Bonnie. I’m an confirmed craft-aholic who has dabbled in various creative genres over the years, from knitting to quilting, embroidery to bead making and scrapbooking to jewelry design. Creating beautiful things fills a deep seated need within me and makes me very happy. 

My current crafting passion is Tree of Life pendants. I've been making them in two different sizes using coated copper wire and a variety of genuine gemstone chips. Creating & learning about prayer beads for all traditions is the other great passion of my life right now and I have started listing several variations here. I've also learned tablet weaving recently and will be adding some items to my shop soon.

Please visit my blog....an eclectic mix of news & information about things of interest to me and, hopefully, to you too.


Thanks for dropping in to take a look at my latest creations.

I don't currently have a photo of myself on my profile page. I have my company logo there. Should I post a picture of myself instead? Would that help sales if potential customers can put a face to the work?

I can already see where I can potentially make some changes to the content and language of my profile. I'm really not sure which approach is better though, conversational or professional. What do you think?

Perhaps I should take some time to read the profiles of others and pick out the elements that like, or don't like, about them. Once I have that list compiled, I can revisit mine and make adjustments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marketing and Branding

How do you brand yourself and your products when your offerings are so diverse? From prayer beads and card woven trim to Tree of Life pendants and beaded jewelry,

What is the common denominator that links them all together? Is there one? Do I need to focus exclusively on one product line only? Is that where the key to success lies?

Honestly, I'm not sure that limiting myself is the right strategy either. The interests, tastes and desires of everyone are so different. A product that appeals to one person will not appeal to another person.

So, that leaves me with a bit of a conundrum.

Do I 'specialize' in one core product and market it extensively and forget about the rest? Or do I market one product and hope that they 'discover' the other product lines when searching for the core product?

Does anyone have an answer for me? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Please leave your comments below or contact me directly. There is a link to my e-mail address in the right sidebar of this page.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A New Direction in 2015

Yes, it’s becoming fairly obvious to me that my company, Jasper Moon, needs to switch gears and go in a totally new direction next year. The path that I’ve been on has become increasingly UNsuccessful in the last couple of years.

Sales at events have been steadily declining to the point where it’s hardly worth the time, effort or expense to attend them any more. In fact, at this juncture, I don’t think that I will even plan for many of them in 2015 and take some time to seriously re-evaluate my marketing strategies and venues.

My Etsy shop, the online marketplace I’m currently using, needs some work also. To be truthful, it needs a LOT of work! I have been shamefully neglecting it and the lack of sales can attest to that. I am personally acquainted with several people who make this forum work successfully for them, so I know that it is possible. I just have to design a strategy that will garner me more traffic and more sales.

It's going to take a lot of work and I realize that. If anyone can provide me with advice or point me in the direction of resources that will help me reach my goal, I would be most appreciative. Just send me a personal message or leave a comment on this post.

What IS my ultimate goal? I would like this company, through my own artistic talents, to be able to supplement my income when I retire. I know that I can do it with your support. Thank you.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fun Project for Paper Crafters

How to Create a Mandala From Used Postage Stamps

The word ‘mandala’, loosely translated from the original Sanskrit, means ‘circle’. However, a mandala is more than a simple shape; it represents wholeness and can be seen as a model for the organization structure of life itself. It reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our body and mind.

The mandala appears in all aspects of our life, from the celestial circles we call earth, sun and moon, to the conceptual circles of friends, family and community. I thought it would be fun to create a mandala from six or more used postage stamps to incorporate on an ATC.

We all have plenty of used postage stamps that we don’t know what to do with, right? And a lot of them are duplicates...a LOT of them. Let’s take advantage of that.


- 8 identical used postage stamps, small ones work best for ATCs
- Glue stick
- Blank 8.5” X 11” piece of paper
- Mod Podge
- Small paint brush

Step 1: Soak stamps in warm water to remove them from the paper. Lay upside down on a paper towel to air dry. If they start to curl up as they dry, carefully place another paper towel on top, making sure not to bend or crease the stamps, and put a book on top of them until they are completely dry.

Step 2: Take the piece of paper and fold in half lengthwise, then fold in half lengthwise again. Fold back the two open sides to line up with the main fold. See photos for clarification.



Step 3: Touch the top left hand corner of the first stamp on the glue stick, just the very corner, don’t go overboard. Line the stamp up to one of the lines on the paper. You don’t want your mandala to stick permanently to the paper, you are just using is as a guide. The corner of the stamp should be close to but not touching the centre point.

Step 4: Take the second stamp now. You are going to line it up with the next line on the paper. Only use the glue stick sparingly, just where the second stamp will stick to the first stamp.

Step 5: Continue with the third stamp. Line it up with the next line on the paper, using the glue stick only where the third stamp will touch the second stamp.

Step 6: Keep going in this manner until you reach the eighth stamp. You will tuck this stamp under the first stamp to complete your mandala.

Step 7: Carefully remove your mandala from the paper, so that it keeps its shape. Make any minor adjustments at this time. You want it as symmetrical as possible. Put away your perfectionism though, this is not an exact science. It will never be ‘perfect’. Each sheet of stamps the post office generates is slightly different when it comes off the printer.

Step 8: Use the small paint brush and Mod Podge (or other glue of choice) to finish gluing the stamps together. Let it dry thoroughly. Glue a paper or cardstock circle, small or large, to the centre of your mandala.

Step 9: Choose a background for your ATC, and glue your mandala onto the card. Add words and/or embellishments, as desired, to complete your ATC.

That’s it, you’re finished! Wasn’t that fun and easy?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More Artist Trading Cards

September was a really busy month! We had vending events every single weekend, so basically I was working 7 days per week. There wasn't much time for anything else.

I did, however, still find time to create a few ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and participate in a some swaps. I thought that I would share a selection of them with you.

For this card, the challenge was to include a happy face in the design. I used ribbon and trim to embellish it, along with some punched out flowers and letters to form the words 'BE HAPPY',. I didn't have a specific plan when I started but it seemed to develop quite nicely and I was pleased with the end result.

You had to incorporate a clock in the design for this card. I printed the clocks onto white paper, then paint washed them to get the different colours and cut them out. The butterfly was stamped onto the background first. I coated the entire card with matte Mod Podge to give it a textured look.

A rubber stamp had to be used on this card. I'd picked up this cat stamp for some Halloween ATCs I was making for another swap and it worked perfectly with this design. 

But I ended up finding a cat rubber stamp that I liked better for my Halloween ATCs. I'm sure that I will used both cats stamps again for other purposes though. They will not be a one usage only purchase.

I've received some fabulous ATCs in return. I'm amazed and quite humbled by the artistic talents of some people. I'm still learning and hope to develop new techniques from them to use for future ATCs.

Best of all, I'm having a lot of fun creating these small works of art to share with others. Fun is important. *smile*

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 35

Week 35: Lazy Days of Summer

This summer has been a difficult one and it is increasingly evident to me, if not to everyone else, that I've lost interest in this year long photo process. Life has taken me in a different direction and presented me with new challenges. There is not enough hours in a day or energy in my body to keep going with this.

It is time for me to bow out, perhaps not gracefully, but definitely reluctantly. I really thought that I would be able to stick it out until the end of the year but, clearly, I am not. It's not fun anymore, so it's best to stop while I'm behind and not try to fool myself into believing that I will 'catch' up.

I want to thank Sally for all the time and effort she dedicates to this project and wish all those who are still participating an abundance of luck and love as their photo journey continues.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 34

Week 34: About the Ground
This week draw your focus to the ground.
You may be surprised at what you find. 

To see what the other participants see on the ground, check out the links below...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 33

Week 33: The View of Above
Change your photo taking perspective,
look up! This week take a glance up
at the world around and
see what you may have been missing.

To see the view above the other participants, check out the links below...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Interesting Business Model

I get tired of having to schedule an appointment to do my laundry in my own home when it is convenient for everyone else. There are so many people living in the house with such varied work and sleep schedules, it’s a challenge to co-ordinate it all some days. But darn it all, I want to do my laundry when I want to do my laundry! Is that too much to ask?

It's not worth all the stress it causes me. Sometimes it’s just easier to throw the clothes bin in the car and go to the laundromat. While there one evening, I was chatting with a man who was also there doing laundry. He began to tell me about his company, and I was very intrigued and impressed with the unique business model.

His company is operated from his home so overhead is low. He runs a mobile dry cleaning/laundry business. Basically, he will pick up your clothes, bedding, etc. at your home or office and bring it back to you freshly laundered or dry cleaned in 2-3 days.

He has a wholesale agreement with a local dry cleaner so gets discounted pricing from them. He drops items off almost daily and picks up the clean ones at the same time. He also has a contract with a local seamstress who does any repairs or alterations for him. Some of the stuff he takes to the laundromat himself to wash and dry.

The clientele are quite varied from seniors who cannot easily get out to the cleaners, to people with busy schedules and men whose wives have no idea how to properly iron a shirt. Once he has a customer in a seniors’ building or complex, he goes to the management office to gain their support in offering the service to all the residents.

I think that the business model is brilliant! He is offering a much needed service to a niche market that has kept him successful for 18 years. Good job!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 32

Week 32: Fresh Air
This week spend a little time
taking a deep breath of fresh air,
feeling the sun or the rain on your face.
Get outside!  

To get out in the fresh air with the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 31

Week 31: Outside the Box
Look around. Find the humour
and the unusual in everyday life.
Think 'outside the box'.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 30

Week 30 - Celebrate YOU
The days seem to be moving rather quickly.
Slow down and document
a moment in your life.

To see the moments in the lives of the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 29

Week 29: Celebrate Sweetness
Think outside the box with this prompt.
The sweetest thing to me is my family
spending time together,
but some days its a candy bar!

To see the sweet celebrations of the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 28

Week 28: Celebrate the Season

Summer is in full swing now. The local, seasonal fruits and vegetables are landing on the supermarket shelves. I like to follow the 'Eat Within 100 Miles' program when I can but during the winter months, that is pretty tough.

To see how others celebrate the season, check out the links below...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 27

Week 27: Celebration
There are so many little celebrations that occur
everyday and you may not realize that they happen.

Everyone is trying to accomplish something big,
not realizing that life is made up of little things.
~~ Frank A. Clark ~~

Yes, it's the little things that make life worth living. Sharing time with friends and family, celebrating the milestones along the way. A simple 'thank you' can brighten any day. A smile in passing can lift your mood from downcast to sunny.

Let's not lose sight of all these little things as we move busily about our days. Stop for a moment and savour them.

To see the 'Celebration' photos of the other participants, check out the links below...

Friday, July 4, 2014

De-Clutter Project - Week 27

I've been doing really well here this week. A lot of stuff has been donated to the local thrift store...glassware, books, clothing, etc. My local Value Village has a program where you can get stamps on a coupon card every time you bring something in to them.

One whole card was filled up, giving me 30% off my next purchase. I know, I know...I'm not supposed to be bringing stuff into the house while trying to get rid of stuff. BUT, I did need a few new tops for work and I actually was able to find some that fit me properly. Having a classic pear shape makes it difficult to find things that work for me and I was able to find four of them.

Well, then I went down the aisle where the dishes are. I always look for Fiestaware at the thrift stores but have never found any. In truth, I never expected to find any...ever. To my amazement, there on the top shelf was six dinner plates, four luncheon plates and three soup bowls!! I had to get them.

And I did get 30% off of everything with the coupon card. Saving money is good, right?

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Focus on Life - Week 26

Week 26: Free Space
We have reached the half way point of the year!
For this week you have a "free space" to
photograph whatever you would like
in whatever way you would like.  

decided to show you some of the colours in my garden...

To see the 'free space' photos of the other participants, click on the links below...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 26

In every corner, behind every door and in each drawer, I'm discovering new things! Or should I say, they are things that I'd long since forgotten about?  I did not think you could hide and stash that much stuff in one house! Apparently, you can.

I finally managed to convince my son to get rid of the two sets of broken speakers that were cluttering up my living room. They had not been working for such a long time and were stacked in a corner collecting dust. I have no idea what his attachment to them was but I'm glad it's broken at last.

That is a big problem when you are trying to de-clutter your home...other people's stuff. You don't understand their love for a particular item, any more than they understand your passion for vintage glassware (or whatever). And it's just as hard with them to part with their childhood comic books as it is for you to part with some of your doll collection.

Everyone in your household really has to be 'on board' with the de-clutter project in order for it to be completely successful. You can pare down your own belongings and personal space but you cannot toss out or donate their 'prized possessions', no matter how tempting that might be some days. And you are fighting a losing battle when others keep bringing more stuff into the house as fast as you are getting rid of it.

Progress was definitely made this week though. Being able to convince my son to see the futility of keeping some the items he's been saving was a good first step. I'll keep working on him. *smile*

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Focus On Life: Week 25

Week 25: Be Colourful
There's nothing more fun than being colourful...
full of interest, lively and exciting.

My weekend was filled with colour. Faery Fest in Guelph, ON is always a fun event with colourful costumes and characters.

The English Morris Dancers were a whole lot of fun to watch.

To see the colourful photos of the other participants, check out the links below...