Monday, March 31, 2008

How important are photos?

So, I have several different venues that I am currently selling my jewelry on. Any way I am very active in the forums at these other venues and am constantly hearing the same thing. I am not being critical here but I see it a LOT. The QUESTION!! Why are my things not selling? Obviously there could be many reasons for this and I may go into those further on another day. The number one reason that I can see why most people are not selling is that the photo's are bad. Some of them are downright horrible. As in I can't tell if that is a necklace or a blob. Again I am not saying that to be mean but in all honesty, how can you expect to sell it if your customers can't see it? If the picture is so dark I can't tell if it is green or purple, chances are that I, and most other people are going to move on to the next store. There are thousands of them out there. I have to tell you that my pictures take a lot of work. I have hours and hours of photo time in my pictures. I have retaken photos of my inventory five time now. Most of the them with five or more different angles per items. I currently have 236 items for sale. Do the math (okay I will do it for you lol!) That is close to 6000 pictures. Trust me, they didn't start out this good. And I am sure there is room for improvement. However my customers can see my items in detail. Is it wrapped well? What color is it? Is it well made? My customers need to be able to see this in order to have confidence in my product. Plus, pretty pictures make you want to click.

Use your macro setting if you sell small pieces. Use a light box. You can build one for less that five dollars. ( Use this it can be your best friend. Yes everyone says natural light is best but you know what? I work a job and don't get home before dark every day especially in the winter. And can I wait two weeks for the sun to come out (NOT). Edit your photos after you download them to your computer. If you don't have software you can download Picassa or Gimp online for FREE. Picassa is much more user friendly that Gimp for people unfamiliar with this type of program. Crop them, lighten them, brighten them whatever you need to do to make them look good. Experiment with different background, but don't make it too busy. Have fun with it and play a little. Develop your own style and aim for something that people will say hey, those earrings are from Silver River Jewelry because I recognize the style. I hope that you found these tips useful and it would be cool if you sent me some before and after pics. If enough people send them in I will do another post showing the pictures with links to your site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Judges Results for Beading Challenge 1

Okay so here is what the judges had to say about our entries. Keep in mind that there is no prize and the reason we started this was in response to the massive amount of threads on Etsy about people copying other people's designs. We wanted to see what would happen if 12 people recieved the same exact beads and how similar or different the earrings would be. You can see the results in my previous post.

They are different, but I can see where if they'd just appeared in someone's shop that someone else could say, "Did they riff that off mine, they're kind of similar or that one part is almost identical." It's a good lesson!

Love the variety and the surprise of several people using copper. Beautiful and unexpected (to me)!

I also love that within this variety that there are clear stylistic differences. I can point to every pair and think, "This is what my friend Kat would wear. Those are my sister's style. My niece would love that pair."

Due to the fine quality of the designs, this was much harder than I thought it would be to judge.

best use of beads
BeadyMonkey and StonesandStartlings

most original design
melaniehazen because she transformed the beads into an integrated design where you're not as aware of the individual beads as you are of the whole piece

most similar
Earthly Creations
Designed by Lucinda

As a judge for this contest, I vote as follows:

First Place: StudioHart wins for most unique and eye catching.

Second Place: SilverRiverJewelry for most creative and technical.

Third Place: blackcoral for best mix of materials.

Fourth Place: StonesandStarlings and sleepingcatbeads tie for most use of the beads.

Good job everyone! I had a tough time judging!


Best Use of Beads: Sleeping Cat Beads
Most Original Design: Beady Monkey
The two designs that are the most similar: Designed by Lucinda and Teague's Beads
Thank you for this opportunity to participate as a "judge". I was most interested in seeing the distinct individuality even when similarity existed.

The House of Worn
thanks for having me as a judge. Her are the catagories you asked for:

best use of beads:

most original design:blackcoral

two designs that are the most similar:

As you can see there were several designs that were very similar and several that were completely different. No one saw what the other people were making including me (I made mine before all but the first design picture was sent to me. And I had already sketched out my design at that point. This just goes to show that at first glance something may indeed be very similar or even almost an exact copy. Before we jump to the conclusion that someone has stolen our design or copied us, maybe we should slow down and realize that it could just very well be a coincidence and the fact that the other person may just think like you do. I am not saying that copying does not happen because we all know that it does. I am just saying that you need to thoroughly investigate the issue before jumping to conclusions.

Stay tuned for Beading Challenge 2. We will start this on Friday, March 28th at 1pm Eastern Standard Time. This contest will be open to the international community as well and DesignedbyLucinda is providing the beads and shipping this time around.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beading Challenge Results!

Okay this is what everyone has been waiting for. A big thanks again to SantiamDesigns for providing the beads for this challenge and shipping them to all of us for free. I have heard from more than one person who did this challenge that is was a bit difficult to decide what to do with these beads. They are as small as they look ha ha! A lot of the designers had never or very rarely used beads this small. We were able to use our own findings as long as the beads that were sent were the main part of the design. I did my design on paper the day I got the picture of the beads because I didn't want to see what anyone else had done. I wanted to go into it without everyone else's ideas in my head. I am going to list them in the order that I received the pictures and I will be putting a link to each persons shop with their name. I had a lot of fun with this and I think everyone else did to.













Okay so I really tried to get these to line up side by side so people wouldn't have to scroll down the page too far but I am not that good at hotmail so this is as good as it gets. I find this whole thing fascinating as there are some that are very similar and some that are very different. And nobody had any idea what any one else was doing so there was no way they could have copied or not copied any designs. I would love to have comments on this contest and maybe people will realize that for the most part if you see a design that is similar or even almost exactly the same as yours, chances are good that they didn't copy they just think like you do.

And as Cindy said " the challenge is a great way to make us designers maybe have to think outside of the box and stretch ourselves..."

I also got lots of comments that this was just a fun thing to do and I think sometimes we get so caught up in selling (which isn't a bad thing, let's face it, we would all love to make a decent living at this) that we forget why we started doing this in the first place. At least for me, get a huge amount of satisfaction and joy out of a piece but sometimes in between the picture taking, the constant promoting, listing and just regular life I can sometimes lose that sense of satisfaction. And while this is a type of promotion it was a lot of fun to do and there was that anticipation of the beads arriving and now the fun of seeing what everyone has come up with.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Featured Etsy Artist


I have to confess that I have always loved science fiction/fantasy. Mostly the fantasy to be truthful. I think it started as a small child and the addition of fairy tales to the bedtime routine. I am an avid (I can read a paperback in two hours) reader and have read just about everything I can get my hands on. The Dragonriders of Pern, and all the rest of Ann McCaffrey's books, David Eddings, Wies and Hickman, Terry Goodkin and Marion Zimmer Bradley to name a few. The wonderful places that these books have taken me to are wonderfully exotic and different from my day to day life. They allow me to be, for the time that I am reading, the heroine, or the dragon rider that saves the day, or the elf, dwarf or human that helps save the world from evil. The featured artist I have chosen for today from Etsy has taken the characters that I see in my head when I read and put them on paper. She is well worth a look if you are remotely interested in fantasy art. Valorie has managed to capture the feel of the fantasy world perfectly in her work and every time I come across her shop I want to go pick up a book and escape for a short period of time back into that wonderful world of fantasy where I can be anything and conquer evil in 350 pages or less. (Give or take a hundred pages).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Beading Challenge Update

Just a real quick update to let everyone know that the beads have started to arrive and people are getting started on their earrings. We already have one set of earrings that are finished! I am not going to spoil the surprise and post the picture and I really don't want anyone to see anyone else's design because that would kind of defeat the purpose of the whole thing. Don't worry I already have my design worked out so I won't be influenced. Remember they need to be done by the 24th of March. Happy designing everyone and I am hoping mine will be here tomorrow!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Beading Challenge Part 2

Well we posted out challenge on the Etsy forums in the Business and Marketing section (Thanks Rob for the go ahead on this). It took less than 7 minutes to fill the remaining eight spots. We are doing twelve total with the idea of trying to get a Treasury when we are done. I will be listing the 12 people who are participating with links to their shops and also the judges with links to their shops at the end of this post. The beads are going out by Monday from SantiamDesigns
(thanks again Kira). Contestants have until the 24th of March to finish their designs and list them on Etsy for all of us to see (and hopefully they will sell also lol!). I will of course do a blog post with the finished products for everyone to browse also. Keep in mind that there is no prize so the speak just the fun of the challenge. Here are the beads that are in the challenge. What would YOU make?

So here is the list of participants making the earrings.




BlackCoral (yes she does jewelry too)









And here is a list of the judges





Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beading Challenge

Well I was browsing through the Etsy forums ( which is extremely addicting, if you haven 't checked it out I highly recommend it, it is open to both sellers and buyers) the other day and there it was, another thread about "someone copied my stuff." Which of course started a debate on people coming up with the same design independently. Which happens all over the world all the time no matter what category of product you are hand producing. I am not saying that people don't copy, plenty of them do. I am also not saying that no one ever has an original idea because they do. However there are really only so many ways to make a circle out of metal, put bead on a string and make a tote. It's all in what you do with it as far as color, materials and that little something that is you and no one else. So I ran into a friend of mine on Etsy who happened to be chatting in the same thread ( and I after some friendly banter I said something like "wouldn't it be neat if a group of us got together and using the same beads each came up with a design so that we could see how similar or different each persons design would be?!" Cindy said yes that would be so cool and then Kira ( said "Hey I would be willing to provide the beads and ship them to everyone". (Like anyone is going to turn down free beads to play with haha!). A couple of other people chimed in and said that they would be interested in joining us so the three of us decided that we would go ahead and give it a try. Not only would it be an interesting and fun thing to do but it would also be a good way to promote our shops. (We are really hoping for a storque article out of this). So Kira is providing the beads, Cindy is organizing and in touch with Rob from Etsy on the appropriate way to do this, and I am going to be updating our progress as we go. I will also post pictures of the finished products. I believe we will have a couple of judges although there is no prize in this challenge other than the satisfaction of seeing the outcome. (And free beads to play with). If this is successful we may decide to do it two or three times a year with a different person contributing the beads each time. So we will be posting our challenge in the Business and Marketing portion of the forums with Rob's permission and I will keep you updated on what happens next.