Monday, May 16, 2011

Jewelry Giveaway!

I didn't meant to post so close together, but I forgot to mention this earlier. I was interviewed on someone's blog! And there's a giveaway open to anyone who comments there (see the post for more details). Which of my products could you win? These strawberry & chocolate cake earrings!


Grace's blog has a garden theme, and she was interviewing Etsy sellers as part of her May Garden Party. I chose these earrings for the giveaway because they make me think of a garden tea party. I can picture cute and elegant desserts like this being served.

Here's the link to the interview and giveaway details: Garden Giveaway #7 Sponsored by Made by Michelle.

You have until the end of the month to enter, so go comment! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Etsy Showcase Tips and Review

For those of you who don't know, Etsy Showcase if a form of advertising on Etsy. You purchase a 24-hour slot, choose which of your listings to promote, and your products will appear as "Sponsored" in certain locations on the Etsy website. For example, with a Jewelry Showcase, your products will appear at the top of the Jewelry page (for people shopping by category). Showcases are available for every main category and also for subcategories such as Earrings, Necklaces, etc.

When I opened my shop, I was very curious about how this works, so I did a lot of research. Almost every review I read said that it isn't worth it, that you might get more views and hearts, but no sales. I told myself I was going to try it anyway -- why not when it's only $7 a day? -- and decided to post about my experience in case it helps anyone.

Well, before I could test a showcase spot, I had to figure out how the heck you buy one! Etsy says they go on sale every day at midnight (ET), but whenever I checked, it always said 0 spots left. I wondered what I was doing wrong. I looked into it, and all the advice I found just said, "Be there right on time." How annoying and unhelpful when I was already doing that!

What they should have said is, "Be there at 11:45 and obsessively refresh the page." Yep, I sat there for 15 minutes, with one hand on the mouse and the other hitting ctrl + R every few seconds. I got lucky and refreshed the page the very second my computer clock hit 12:00 and finally I saw open spots! I clicked, saw the confirmation page, and immediately went back in case I wanted to purchase more in other categories. None left! The clock hadn't even hit 12:01. So if you think you're doing something wrong, nope. These spots just sell out in seconds.

If you're lucky enough to land a spot, you can then use the Promote page to organize your listings. Your showcase will only show one item at a time. It starts at the top of your list and items get replaced with the next in line if they sell. I'd already had a decent amount of shop activity (views and hearts - no sales) after being active in forums, so I ordered my products by most hearts. I think this was the key to my success, so if you're considering a showcase, wait until you have hearts on at least 5 different products. You may be surprised at what is most popular (some things I thought would do really well only have a few hearts).

EDIT: I think it also helped that I chose the main Jewelry showcase. (I figured if someone is shopping by category rather than searching, they're not looking for something specific, so they're more likely to browse a general category than a specific one.) I've since learned that many of the negative reviews I saw referred to subcategory showcases, so keep that in mind too.

I am happy to say that my experience was opposite everyone else's. I made my first sale the day of my showcase, along with two more! I sold my most popular item (I think it had about 250+ views and 20 hearts), my 2nd most popular, and a recreation of the 2nd one. Unfortunately I didn't get any extra hearts after that (and I don't keep track of views), but by then it was later in the day. I'm sure my other products just needed more time in the spotlight.

There are some cons to Etsy Showcase -- not everyone shops by category (I prefer to search), and your listing isn't always on the first category page (there are only 4 images spots but more showcased shops, so it rotates through them) -- but overall, I say it's worth a try. I made back my $7 easily, and plan to do more showcases in the future. I believe the key to making a sale is reaching as many people as possible until you find the one who's willing to buy, and Etsy Showcase helped me do that.

(Sorry for the text only post; wish I had some pics to include. Posts coming soon: more Etsy tips, including a photo tutorial for people with point-and-shoot cameras.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Craft Background

It's been two weeks since my last post, oops! I meant to post more often than that, but I've been busy.

I'm finally happy with my layout...for now (plan to add pages and a custom header eventually). What do you think? (If anyone reads this, lol.)

And now the real reason for posting! My profile gives a good overview of who I am and what this blog is about, and my last post explains my personal life, so the only thing left to cover is my craft experience and what led me to start a jewelry business. I alluded to this in my last post, and the brief version is in my Etsy profile, but I thought it might be helpful to share it here too. I want this blog to be about more than my business, so this will give you some context, as well as an idea of what to expect in the future.

Self-portrait (unfinished)
I'm not sure when it started, but as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed making things. I've always been artistic; I got my ability from my mom, whose drawings were framed and hung up in our house. I still remember my favorite projects from first grade art class (which my parents saved all these years). I took private drawing and painting lessons as a child, and took the serious art classes in high school. I even did a summer program at Parsons in NYC.

I also have fond memories of my dad reading me children's books and fairytales. I know I love reading and writing because of him. Whenever my sister and I played together, I was the one making up the characters and stories (and bossing her around). I often wrote down these stories and illustrated them. I got really into cartoons and caricatures; I still have cartoon illustrations I did while reading Harry Potter (so watching the movies wouldn't ruin the way I first imagined the characters), and my dad's blog avatar is a caricature I drew of him when I was younger. I've since drawn his caricature in different situations for use on his blog and greeting cards, and will do more illustrations when he writes a book.

Hermione, mad at Ron
when he accused Crookshanks
of eating Scabbers
Various Harry Potter sketches -
click to enlarge
A scene from
Chamber of Secrets

Wooden car my grandpa made
My earliest memories of crafts involve my grandma. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at her house while my parents were at work. My grandma taught me how to sew and knit (and also how to bake and play piano - unfortunately those are the only skills I retained, but I want to learn the others again someday). I also have two crafty aunts who enjoy rubber stamping (among other things), and my grandpa did a lot of wood carvings. (And while we're listing talents, I also have a musician uncle and a photographer uncle.) I'm not surprised I turned out this way!

 High school is when I first combined art and fashion. I painted on shirts and doodled on my jeans. I also started making cards for friends' birthdays (with calligraphy on the envelopes - that was my thing, lol), then gifts such as candles, picture frames, and journals. I started scrapbooking when my husband (then boyfriend) and I became long distance. You can see samples of all these things in this Facebook album (most are old; I'll post new examples here when I have them).

In 2005, I started making jewelry, something I always wanted to try. It got even more fun when I discovered Shrinky Dinks and polymer clay. I love polymer clay mainly because you can make adorable miniature food charms, and I just love miniature things (I would love to own a giant dollhouse one day). Shrinky Dinks are really what I prefer to work with, though! Drawing on them is so relaxing, and when I use them for magnets, jewelry, etc., I don't feel like my art is being wasted just sitting in a drawer or something. Plus they shrink when you bake them (again, miniature=awesome) and I like to think my charms help my jewelry stand out.

People had been encouraging me to sell my work for years, and with jewelry I finally felt I had something people would buy. In 2006, I started my business, Made by Michelle. I tried Etsy for a bit but got nowhere, so I ran my own website and did ok there. After a few years, I took a break to focus on school, but now I'm back in business. Giving Etsy another chance now that I know so much more about networking. It's paying off, too! My shop's only been open a few weeks and I already had 3 sales. :)

So...there you go! That's my story. Posts coming soon: Etsy showcase review and Etsy success tips.