Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tip of the Week..."Focus Up!"

After looking at the title for this week's Tip of the week you probably think I have lost my mind!  "Focus Up" is one of my husband's classic one liners and I think it is the perfect accent to this week's suggestion.

I find it quite easy to get caught up with everything Etsy offers.  Visiting the virtual labs, forums, alchemy, treasury, etc.  This contstant hopping from one area to the next leaves me exhausted.  Not only do I need a nap afterwards, but I can barely remember what I've seen or commented on when I am done!

So this week's tip is to focus up and dedicate your efforts to only one area in Etsy.  For instance, spend as much time in the forums reading and commenting as you can allow.  Next week focus your time in another area.  Create a schedule that ensures you are doing your do diligence in each Etsy area, just not all at the same time. 

Focusing your efforts simplicates your life.  And chances are without all that jumping around you might actually remember what you have done! 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Week in Review...January 24 - 30

Another week has passed.  I cannot believe how fast January has flown by.  This week has been a busy one as well.  I guess that is why one of the topics we focused on this week was taking time for ourselves.  I made a conscious effort to take 20-30 minutes everyday to just unwind.  And today I pampered myself and got a haircut!  Not normally a big deal, but it has been a really really long time.

I loved this week's collection of favourite things.  I am repeatedly drawn to modern design.  I love the access I have with Etsy to browse different key words.  The possibilities are endless.

I also am thrilled to be back on track with Feature Friday.  This week Julie from julesJgallery shared with us her inspirations.  Her Etsy store is full of excellent finds with a wide range of handmade cards, jewelry and artwork.  I'm looking forward to the enlightening interviews to come!

Personally I have been extremely busy so I have not had the time I usually dedicate to making jewelry.  I was thrilled to have a window on Friday to drop everything and make beads!!!  I am slowly getting the jewelry made so you can look forward to NEW jewelry being listed on Etsy shorty.

Once again thanks for reading :o)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feature Friday...jules J gallery

We are back on track with Feature Friday!  This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to Julie from jules J gallery.  She is a brilliant artist with a fabulous Etsy shop. 

Tell us about yourself?

My husband and I live in beautiful BC, Canada.  Only a short drive to the ocean. I am a stay at home mom of 2…an 8 year old son and a 7 year old daughter. Our newest addition to the family…Bella, our social little black multi-poo who thinks she is a lab. I love garage sales, thrift stores, watching birds feed and bathe in our small back yard, anything nature, and anything that involves the art of creating.


Why did you decide to open an Etsy shop?

I opened my shop as a gallery for me to share some of my artwork: reproductions of my original acrylic paintings, my "jotables...jot your thoughts anytime" note cards, vintage style photography and my jewelry...all in one place, and to hopefully generate some income while doing things I truly LOVE to do. I also prefer to be “behind the scenes” instead of selling, face to face. I find Etsy very easy to use, (as I am not very computer savvy) it’s fast, versatile, allows for easy editing, easy communication, and I think a very well laid out platform for both buyers and sellers.


Who or what inspires your designs?

Probably my love of home decorating…I love black, white, silver, pale grey, creams and taupes, with a touch of pink and green. And maybe a bit of purple. I adore crystal chandeliers, black & white photography, thrift store finds such as silver trays, old crystal vases, bowls, plates and vintage tea cups and saucers. And of course, nature…birds, the pure magic of a fleeting sunrise & sunsets with no two ever being the same, the seasons of trees, the way light falls differently at different times of the day. The incredible beauty of a common flower or even a weed!


What advice would you give a new Etsy artist BEFORE they open a shop?


I recently read the following two blog posts from http://www.faeriedtreasures.etsy.com/

1) http://faeriedtreasures.blogspot.com/2009/07/tips-for-selling-from-seller-who-sells_29.html

2) http://faeriedtreasures.blogspot.com/2009/08/tips-for-selling-from-seller-who-sells.html

Also, a fellow Etsy shop owner I met at a Christmas craft fair locally, said “the secret to Etsy…post/renew everyday or as often as you can”. Something my husband keeps reminding me about...know your target market...are you trying to sell to fellow Etsy shop owners?? If so, spend lots of time in the forums commenting etc. Are you trying to sell outside of Etsy?? Then you have to let people know you exist...without over-spamming them, and comment, comment, comment. This is the next phase I will be working on with my own shop!!


Where do you see youself in 10 years?

Still involved in the creative process, whatever that may look like. I NEED to have my artist outlet, whether it’s photographing a flock of birds, painting a flower to hang over my mantle or make some jewels and baubles to wear…I need to create and evolve as an artist.


To visit jules J gallery on Etsy click the link below

A special thanks to Julie for taking the time to share
 her process with Four Elements Design.

 

Supply & Demand...2010 Foothills Small Business Expo


The 2010 Foothills Small Business Expo
hosted by P & R Promotions

The place to meet new customers and promote your business!

 Meet hundreds of new customers in a trade show setting
Set up a display and promote your product
Very low cost for this opportunity compared to other trade shows
Meet new people in the business community
Meet your old friends as well
All types of business are welcome
Kick start your busness now by making lots of new contacts

For more information and forms to be an exhibitor visit


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Favourite Things...Modern

This week's favourite things is going modern.  Every item is for sale on Etsy, some vintage and some handmade.  I must admit my personal tastes are more rustic, but for some reason I am drawn to modern design.  Maybe it is my alter ego, who knows, but I could not resist sharing these funky modern pieces.

Up first is the sleek and sexy vintage lucite magazine rack from VeroVintage.  I love the simplicity of the magazine rack.  For all of us magazine addicts, what a sophisticated way to display our treasured items.  Visit http://www.verovintage.etsy.com/ to check out other great vintage finds.



I MUST have this Winter Birch Tree wall decal!!!  How cute are the deer and bird!  What a great way to add character to your room.  Best of all, you get to select what colours work best for your home.  The wall decals at designedDESIGNER's Etsy shop are genius.  Go take a look for yourself at http://www.designeddesigner.etsy.com/.



TheVintageCabin's set of Green Apple bowls are to die for.  How cute would a fruit salad look in these bowls at your next backyard party?  Take a peek at http://www.thevintagecabin.etsy.com/ for many other great vintage finds!



Last, but certainly not least are these great cushion covers from MARIESCOSYCUSHION's.  The shop has oodles of fabric options and also sells the pillow inserts.  A one stop shop.  Visit http://www.mariescosycushions.etsy.com/ to get a pair for yourself!



I hope you have enjoyed the latest group of favourite things.  I am positively giddy from finding them all.  Search "modern" on Etsy to find many other great vintage and handmade pieces.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Tuesday...Take Time for Yourself

I realise this is not a typical "how to" topic, but I feel it is just as important as how to take great photos.  So many of us, me included, get caught up in making our business successful, looking after our family's needs, and lending an ear for a friend that we are on the run morning to night.  But how many of you take time just for you? 

You may love your Etsy shop, but contently revising and relisting is not taking time for you.  It is recommended to take 30 minutes each day to check in with you.  How do you check in with you?  What is it you love to do?  Take 30 minutes to read a novel, do yoga, take a nap, get a haircut, go for a walk, ride a bike, meditate, whatever you love to do...

To be at your best you need to take the time to enrich you.  We all put endless amounts of energy into family, friends, business, but few people take the time to feed their soul.  So let's all make it our goal this week to take time for us!

Here are a few links to help you take "you" time:

http://www.yogajournal.com/

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/

http://www.how-to-meditate.org/

www.canadatrails.ca/biking

http://www.hairstylesdesign.com/

My Monday...F.E.D. Experiment

Wow, where has January gone?  In less than one week our little Internet experiment will be over.  How has it gone so far?  Is it worth it?

In the beginning I spread myself too thin between nearly ten sites.  It was consuming way too much time.  And worse it was starting to wear on my sanity!  So rather than do a half hearted job on multiple sites, I decided to focus on four main sites, Etsy, twitter, facebook, and my blog.  So how is it going so far?

On Etsy I have taken the advice of another successful shop and improved my photos.  I have received many compliments and better yet was featured in an Etsy Treasury!  I am still stuck with only one sale, but to stimulate my rating I have made a couple purchases.  Buying on Etsy adds to your rating.  When the seller leaves positive feedback it is a boost to your shop.  That's me always thinking outside the box!  To check us out on Etsy go to http://www.fourelementsdesign.etsy.com/.

Twitter is an absolute blast!  I love posting my tweets.  Although, only using 140 characters is a bit of a challenge for someone like me!!!  Yesterday I reached 50 followers.  I really like that I can post links to facebook, etsy, and my blog to reach people I normally would not be in contact with.  I have also used twitter for feedback.  I ask different followers for tips, colour combo suggestions, and inspiration.  With only one week left let's see if I can get to 75 followers!  To follow us on twitter go to www.twitter.com/4elementsdesign.

My facebook fan page has really taken off.  At last count we had 156 fans!  Facebook has long been a tool to connect with old friends and extended family.  Now, I am able to use that tool to share my lampworking designs with everyone.  I can suggest the page to friends.  They have the opportunity to view the page and decide if they would like to become a fan.  The more fans that join equal more news feeds that mention Four Elements Design.  With facebook I can post photos, list promotions, and link to my Etsy shop and other accounts.  I also love that others can leave comments regarding my posts.  Any feedback is good.  To become a fan of Four Elements Design on facebook click the link on the side of this blog.

Last but certainly not least is my blog.  I may only have 9 followers, but each and everyone matter.  They have taken the time to read what I have to say and find it worthwhile.  That means the world to me.  Having this blog is like a journal of my experiences while starting my jewelry business.  I love looking back at the posts and remembering each hurdle!  I really hope this blog inspires other new Etsy seller's to take a leap and try something new.  None of us are going to grow personally or professionally if we don't take any chances.

Well with less than a week till February, I had better get busy.  Thank you for taking the time to follow Four Elements Design on our journey.  We look forward to sharing it with you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tip of the Week...Stay True to You

In the world of creativity it is easy to get lost from the path you set out on. It may be low sales, infrequent views, or poor feedback. Whatever the reason, it is always good to evaluate why.

If your sales are non-existent or few and far between take a look at the items listed. How is the price point? Is it worth paying the shipping fees? Is the listing descriptive? A piece of advice I read on Etsy was to imagine there were no pictures with the listing. You had to describe in detail to give the buyer the exact image of what they are purchasing. A buyer is not going to invest in an item if it is not exactly what they want. And they are not going to know unless you tell them. Use your words!

Are infrequent views your problem? Take a look at your pictures. A picture really does say it all. If it is not engaging, people will not click to view the item. Remember the thumbnail pictures are small. Make sure the item you are selling is being showcased.

Little or poor feedback is a more difficult issue. Not all buyers realize posting feedback helps your shop. It doesn’t hurt to send them a friendly reminder. It is really beneficial to the seller and the buyer as positive feedback is shown on each profile. Poor feedback is a whole different situation. It could be the item was not what was described. The shipping took too long. The buyer was displeased with the way the transaction was handled. There are many reasons. The best way to get to the bottom of the situation is to ask the buyer why they were not satisfied. Look at it as a way to improve your business in the future. We are all learning.

I hope these suggestions have helped. Remember the excitement you had when you created your Etsy shop. Don’t let a little negativity stand in your way. Stay true to you.

The Week in Review...January 17-23

WOW…what a week it has been! It started off with a bang. Numerous of my bead making friends and I got into a debate about artist copyright. It is a really good subject though. With so many artisans in all fields what makes each of us unique? Maybe start the conversation with other artists in your area.



We also had a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the Olympic Torch Celebration in our community. It was amazing. I must admit seeing the torch run by brought a tear to my eye. What a fabulous way to get our province and country into the Olympic spirit! Go Canada Go!!!



I had an Etsy first and was listed in a treasury, It's not easy being green!  I also learned a valuable lesson about blogging. There are no guarantees when you ask to interview someone for your blog. In the future, I intend to send numerous requests out. And in time will accommodate and post all submissions. That way I won’t be left interviewing myself or worse my husband!



I really love daily blogging. Although, this weekend I have gotten a bit behind…Oops! I look forward to another fantastic week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Featured Seller...???

Well, as a blogger I learned a valuable lesson...ask more than one artist to be your featured seller! Unfortunately, the artisan I had contacted did not respond. As this is my New Year's resolution, I do not want to miss a day, so for this week we are going to interview none other than Four Elements Design! Hey, when you are desperate you take desperate measures!!!

Tell us about yourself?

I am a Canadian girl from a little City in Saskatchewan. I moved to BC with my husband and two beautiful boys to start living our dream. We love the outdoors. Fishing, skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, hunting, snowshoeing, basically whatever the season will allow. I love to read sitting by my fire drinking a hot cup of coffee. I love design of all kinds. And nothing is better than waking up to sit on my front porch in the morning...in the summer of course!



What is your creative process?

I would describe myself as a fly by the seat of your pants type person. I don't really plan my ideas ahead of time. More often than not, my beads are created in the moment. Whatever is inspiring me that day. It could be the weather, a song, a coat, anything that catches my attention. This practice has served me well to date. So as the saying goes, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it!"



Who or what inspires your designs?

I touched a bit on this in the question above. I am a in the moment type person. It may be the colour combination of a person's outfit. I might want a certain piece to wear for a special occasion. I once designed a bracelet based on the colours of a friend's eyes. Literally, everything inspires my designs!



What advice do you have for NEW Canadian Sellers?

Well, I don't think you get much "newer" than me so I don't have any sage advice. What I can say is to not get discouraged. If you are not getting sales research what other successful Etsy shops have done. Be persistent. If you have a great product people will buy it.



What was your first Etsy purchase?

I just completed my first Etsy purchase! I spoiled myself and bought pampering products from Simply Tempted. I have listed Simply Tempted in my favourite things before for their scrumptious product. To check out their shop go to http://www.simplytempted.etsy.com/. Their stuff is amazing I can't wait to get mine!!!



I sincerely apologize for not having a prepared interview for Feature Friday.  But I must admit I have enjoyed sharing with you a little more about me!

To visit Four Elements Design's Shop

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supply & Demand...Canada Beading Supply

Canada Beading Supply is a family-owned business established in 1984 in Ottawa Ontario, Canada. They are committed to offering our customers the finest quality products at competitive prices.

About Canada Beading Supply
  • Our number one priority at Canada Beading Supply is you - the customer.
  • Many customers tell us we are Canada's leading supplier of gemstone beads and their preferred one stop shop!
  • We take customer service seriously. If there is product you need or a problem you want solved, our staff are more then happy to do their utmost to serve you.
  • We may not always have the solution but we will still try to help you find it.
  • Our team takes pride in helping you achieve your objectives.
  • If you are ever in Ottawa (or looking for a great reason to make a road trip), please come to the showroom. We truly enjoy meeting our customers face to face.
Canada Beading Supply has a wide variety of items available:
  • Gemstones
  • Pearls
  • Glass Beads 
  • Base Metal
  • Precious Metal
  • Accent Beads
  • Stringing Material
  • Tools
  • Display Items
  • Books
  • Classes
To shop Canada Beading Supply online go to http://www.canbead.com/
or call their toll free number 1-800-291-6668.

Canada Beading Supply
190 Colonnade Rd. South
Ottawa, Ontario
K2E 7J5

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Favourite Things...Winter Wool

For this week's favourite things we are putting the spot light on wool.  In these winter months, many of us are looking for fun ways to stay warm.  Browsing through Etsy I have found a few handmade beauty's that are perfect for this week's "Winter Wool" favourite things.

The first item to catch my eye was the Kid's Woolly Helm by knittles.  It is so adorable.  Every Grandma in town would be pinching the cheeks of the little one wearing this.  Not only is it cute, but also practical and great way to keep your little loved one warm.  Visit http://www.knittles.etsy.com/ to view other warm wool ideas.



I am so in love with the Boots Cuffs made by lainedesign.  They are perfect way to add individuality to your next outfit.  The best part...they are made in a multitude of colours.  Our favourite pair are the Espresso Boot Cuffs.  Go to http://www.lainedesign.etsy.com/ to pick your pair!



Next, Pixibell's shop is an Etsy favourite.  Look no further than the multiple sales and 100% positive rating.  They make the most creative hats.  Plus, they also sell patterns for you to knit your own!  My favourite from the pixibell shop is the Pixie Hat in Oatmeal, a whimsical way to keep warm this winter.  I am continuously drawn to the shop to see what they have come up with.  Visit http://www.pixiebell.etsy.com/ to sneak a peak.



This is a first for me, but it was too sweet not to post it.  Knittles shop had another item that I could not resist sharing in this favourite things grouping.  The Meow Kid's Earflap Hat is delightful.  In the listing the nursery rhyme by the Robber Kitten is referenced:

A kitten once to its mother said,
"I'll never more be good;
But I'll go and be a robber fierce,
And live in a dreary wood.

How charming is that!!!  As listed above to visit knittles Etsy shop go to http://www.knittles.etsy.com/.



Thanks for checking in for the latest edition of Favourite Things.  Be sure to return next week...you never know you may be featured next!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to...Shop Local

Etsy's Shop Local option is a great tool for increasing traffic to your shop.  In a few simple steps you can share your location with the Etsy consumers.  This comes in handy for a multitude of reasons.  For example, if you are looking for a last minute gift you can purchase from a local artisan to receive the item promptly.  Plus it is rewarding to support the local artisans in your area.  One day they may do the same for you. 

To set your shop location on Etsy follow these simple steps:

1)  Sign into your account
2)  Select "Public Profile" of the left hand side of the screen
3)  Select your Country
4)  Type in your City and press the "look up" button to display your location on the google map
5)  Save the changes at the bottom of the page

I told you it was easy!  Now when Etsy buyers are looking to purchase locally they can find you.  Not sure how to "Shop Local" on Etsy? 

1)  Select the Buy tab at the top of the Etsy homepage
2)  Different ways to shop or search items are listed.  Select the Shop Local option. 
3)  Type in the City of interest and press search location
4)  A summary of all the local shops will be displayed below
5)  Click on the shop or item you wish to view

So next time you are looking for a gift, to pamper yourself, or promote someone else try to Shop Local!

Visit http://www.etsy.com/ and see what shops are in your local area.  Happy Shopping!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Monday...Artist Copyright

It is the first “My Monday”! What is that you may ask? Well, in short it is an opportunity for me to talk about whatever is happening in my world at Four Elements Design. Artist copyright is a hot topic that has been popping up in my circle of friends. What is artist copyright? How does it apply to you? Well let’s find out…

“In Canada, copyright is meant to protect the expression of ideas but never ideas in themselves. Copyright subsists in original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work, whether published or unpublished. Close attention has been paid to the use of the word "original". It has been well established that the foremost requirement for the subsistence of copyright is that the work be original.

The CCH Canadian case re-evaluated the meaning of "original" and found that for a work to be original it must be the result of the exercise of "skill and judgment". More specifically: skill, meaning the "use of one's knowledge, developed aptitude or practiced ability in producing work", and judgment, meaning the "use of one's capacity for discernment or ability to form an opinion or evaluation by comparing different possible options in producing the work". Nevertheless, originality does not require any novelty or creativity. It does require intellectual effort beyond mere mechanical exercise.

The determination of originality on the basis presented in CCH Canadian depends on the facts. For a large part, it depends on degree to which the work originated from the author. Many factors are considered. The medium or form used is significant. Whether it comprises elements that are in the public domain or not, whether it the ordering of data or facts, or whether the form is pedestrian or novel. Mere selection is generally not enough. As well, it is significant to consider whether there are any artistic elements to it.”

- Courtesy of Wikipedia

With lampworking, which has been around since the first century B.C. it is virtually impossible to create a bead with techniques that have not been used by thousands of other lampworking artists. There are only so many ways to make round, cube, heart, etc. beads. So if as an artist you make a heart bead in a similar way to another individual are you infringing on their copyright?

It comes down to personal opinion really. I personally feel that if you came up with a design and later come across another artist’s design that is similar it is not infringing on their rights. Like, wise if you view another artist’s piece of work and use the colours, shape, or style as inspiration for your own pattern it is not breaching the artist’s copyright. In my eyes (and I am not the “be all, end all”), a violation occurs when you study another artisan’s work and try to copy or replicate the exact design. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But “they” obviously have not had their signature piece duplicated!

Artist copyright is truly an important and controversial topic. Four Elements Design wants to learn more about this subject. Please, share your opinion in the comments section below this blog.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tip of the Week...Make it POP!

As I have mentioned in previous blogs your pictures are the key to selling your product.  That is why our tip of the week is to make it POP!  How, do you ask? 

Colour
Colour plays a big role in making your product stand out.  If you have a black shirt, standing infront of a black background is not going to do it justice.  Use a white back ground and it will steal the show.  Black and white are great neutrals, but the colour wheel is helpful too.  Use the colour across the colour wheel of your product to really make it pop!


Birdhouse made out of Antique Book-The Native Library Birds-1917

Lighting
Having great lighting makes or breaks a picture.  If the room is dimly lit it will be difficult to showcase your item.  Natural light is always best, but in a pinch you can always use a homemade light box.  If we can't see your beautiful piece, how is anyone going to buy it?


Leather Cord Necklace with Green and Black Beaded Pendant

Props
Styling or props are great.  You can group your item with like things.  You can set a theme.  Styling can tell a story, giving your piece life.  Remember the thumbnail square is small.  Ensure the eye is drawn to the item for purchase.


No place like home - Freshwater pearl SPARROW nest necklace

These are a few basic tips for making your pictures pop.  Play around with different colours, backgrounds and lighting to see what makes your product standout.  Good luck!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Week in Review...January 10-16th

Wow, what a week!  I have been blogging a little over two weeks and I am already hooked.  I love that I am able to share my experiences, thoughts, and favourites with other like minded individuals.  The interaction with my piers is priceless.

I have "met" over the Internet many very knowledgeable people.  The advice I have received has help me propel my small business from mediocre to fabulous!  A little work really does go along way and great pictures are worth more like a million words!

We have implemented a new weekly format to our blog, to help cover a wide range of topics.  Please give us your feedback.  Let us know if you think it is working or if you would rather we go "off the cuff"?

Four Elements Design also had a first this week.  Our very first interview was an absolute treat.  Coral from The Snowshoe Loft is a delight.  What a good sport to be the first Featured Seller on a relatively unknown blog.  Thanks again Coral!

Thank you all for following Four Elements Design.  We are so honoured to have you take time out of your busy schedules to check in with us.  We will do our best to not disappoint : )

Friday, January 15, 2010

Feature Friday...The Snowshoe Loft

I am so excited for our very first Feature Friday!  This week we are truely honoured to share a bit about one of our favourite Etsy seller's The Snowshoe Loft.

Tell us about yourself?

paradox [par-uh-doks]: "any person ... exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature"

Hello, my name is Coral. I was born and partially raised in little town called Kailua, in Hawaii. A gorgeous tropical, white-sand, ocean-side heaven. Just like the pictures you see on people's screen savers. My Mother has taught hula lessons for over 30 years.

The problem is - I really don't like the heat or too much sun. I prefer snow. And the bigger the flakes, the better. Oh, and falling autumn leaves, windy afternoons, and a sky so gray that it could swallow up an entire city!



What is your creative process?

It all starts in my head. Often I find inspiration in a single word or vision. I always think back to my childhood and what brought me to that jump-out-of-my-skin point of excitement, and it always boils down to things like Halloween, Christmas, winter, and animals.

(PS my very favorite animal is Walnut, my crazy wiener dog.)



What promotional tool or technique has worked best for you?

I have to admit I'm not much of a salesperson at all, I find it difficult to promote myself. I have business cards, and try to update my Etsy store as often as I can with new items.

I am getting more involved in charity work and donating my items which has the added benefit of exposure.



Why is supporting handmade important to you?

I think art supports emotional wellbeing, and artistic people are just happier when they're creating things. If I can encourage that, I most certainly will. I also love that handmade items are often created using eco-friendly products and processes.

When I buy something, I like to imagine what the artist looked like as they were building my new treasure, and I picture them cozily toiling away in a little workshop somewhere in the world.



Where do you see The Snowshoe Loft in five years?

As any shop owner would, I'd like to see my productivity and sales increase. But I never want it to become a stressful, rushed thing. I make things because it brings me happiness and a sense of accomplishment. If it ever starts to become a task or a duty, I'll know I am doing something wrong.
I have a regular 9-to-5 job and it would be wonderful one day to cut back my hours "at the grind" and rely more on my artwork to support me financially, but if it never works out that way, that's fine with me too.

I can still watch a snowfall from an office window.



Thanks Coral for our first interview!
Go to http://www.thesnowshoeloft.etsy.com/ to visit Coral's Etsy shop!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Supply & Demand...By Hand

By Hand, Canada’s Artisan Gift Show is a wholesale trade market that offers buyers the opportunity to discover the very best in Canadian handmade products.

Buyers have come to expect the unexpected at By Hand.

Buyers who visit By Hand will see the finest in handmade glass, ceramics, mixed media, fashion, jewellery, leather, art, wood, metal, raku, home d├ęcor, stone, pottery, photography, sculpture, toys and more. At By Hand you will find new and exciting product designs that will delight your customers and separate you from the “seen it all before” products of your rivals.

By Hand is a show where you will meet the designer and maker of the product and come to understand the joy and passion artisans have for their work.

By Hand, Canada’s Artisan Gift Show is produced by Signatures 25 years experience that qualifies us to attract the best artisans, artists and designers in Canada.
 
BY HAND TORONTO – 16th EDITION

January 30 - February 1, 2010
Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel
801 Dixon Road
Toronto, Ontario

BY HAND ALBERTA – 10th EDITION

February 21 - 24, 2010
Hall A Edmonton Expo Centre (formerly AgriCom Building)
7515 – 118 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
 
For more information about By Hand, please visit their website http://www.byhand.ca/

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Favourite Things...Accessories

Thank goodness it's Wednesday.   I have been so excited to share my latest collection of favourite things.  Etsy has the greatest collection of original pieces to set you apart from the crowd.  Here are a few of my favourite accessories.

Glass Art by Sim's has created the ultimate two in one accessory, a bracelet/necklace combo.  The all in one bracelet and necklace is very unique with a variety of charms.  At the very affordable price of $29.95 it a must for every closet.  Visit Glass Art by Sim's Etsy shop at http://www.glassartbysims.etsy.com/.



I absolutely love, love, love this Mocha Cowl by anitoes.  It is well made, easy to wear, and would go with anything.  Anitoes has photographed it well showing the many different options for wearing the cowl.  Go to http://www.anitoes.etsy.com/ to view this A+ piece and the many other adorable items in anitoes shop.



Solis Handmade Jewelry is another must see Etsy shop.  They offer bracelets, necklaces and earrings with a youthful flare.  My favourite item is the Leaf Fringe Necklace.  I love all things natural and the leaves have a very fresh feeling.  Check out Solis Handmade Jewelry Etsy shop at http://www.solisjewelry.etsy.com/.



Last, but certainly not least is a quirky key fob by uyudesign.  I love orange so it is no surprise that I was drawn to this item.  Not only is the colour youthful and invigorating, but the design is functional.  No one wants to lose their keys and this hip fob can be worn around your wrist, snapped to your purse strap or belt loop.  A perfect accessory for men and women.  If you want your very own Snaplet Wrist Key Fob head to http://www.uyudesign.etsy.com/ to order one today.



I hope you have enjoyed my favourite accessories as much as I have.  Make sure to check out the shops listed as they have quality original handmade items.  I can't wait till next week to share more of my favourite things!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Tuesday...Gift Certificates

Gift certificates are making a comeback.  Offering a gift certificate takes the pressure off of the gift giver.  Giving the receiver the opportunity to pick their own perfect gift.  This also gives your shop double the awareness as both the purchaser and the recipient are visiting your shop.  And more business is always good, but remember you will pay fees when both parties check out.

On Etsy it strongly states to research your local laws governing gift certificates to ensure your shop is in accordance.  The DOs & DON'Ts of Etsy state as follow:
  • Gift certificates are governed by local laws; it is the seller's responsibility to determine if they are in compliance. If you list a gift certificate on Etsy, you are responsible for this compliance.
  • You must include this sentence in the item listing: "This Gift Certificate is valid only in my Etsy shop, and it is only redeemable here."
There are some guidelines to keep in mind:
  1. Make your listing for a set price (the price of the gift certificate)
  2. Your listing must be an actual item (paper certificate, .pdf file, note card, etc.)
  3. Verify the listing description accuracy.  All details and terms of use for gift certificates should be clearly stated.
  4. Make sure your description clearly states that this gift certificate is only redeemable in the Etsy shop from which is it purchased.
A few key points to ensure are on the gift certificate and Etsy listing:
  1. Shop Name
  2. Your Shop's Etsy web address (ie: http://www.fourelementsdesign.etsy.com/)
  3. Boldly state "Gift Certificate"
  4. The amount of the gift certificate
  5. Each certificate should have a unique secret code.  The recipient will enter the code when checking out to differentiate between gift certificate of the same amount. (DO NOT include this in your item listing!)
  6. Clearly post instructions on how to redeem the gift certificate
Good luck creating your shop's gift certificate.  Remember organization is the key to success with gift certificates.  Keep detail accounts of all gift certificates and their tracking number or secret code.
 
For more information on Esty and gift certificates visit The Storque at www.etsy.com/storque

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Blog Format

Hello Followers of Four Elements Design,

I want to keep this blog fun and fresh long-term.  So I have designed a weekly format for posting to ensure my blogs cover a variety of topics.  The weekly schedule will go as follows:

Sunday:  Tip of the Week
A helpful suggestion to start the week our right

Monday:  F.E.D. Monday
Four Elements Design will have the spotlight

Tuesday:  How to Tuesday
We will discuss the best ways to complete a task

Wednesday:  Favourite Things
Four Elements Designs will share our favourite shops and items on Etsy

Thursday:  Supply & Demand
Each week will alternated between a Supplier & Craft Show in Canada

Friday:  Featured Friday
Four Elements Design will feature another Artist and their creative process

Saturday:  The Week in Review
A summary of what we have learned throughout the week

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you : )

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Advice

Yesterday, I took the advice of many seasoned Etsy Seller's and ventured into the Forums.  I checked out a couple of threads that I thought might apply to me and even made a few posts.  Then, to my surprise, I came across a thread stating "OK...I'm sitting here if you want honest Critiques"!  I have to admit, it definitely caught my attention. 

I, as any curious individual would do, investigated the shop.  Beautiful pictures, well designed page, and numerous sales.  To sign up for a review from this individual was an easy sell.  So I jumped on the band wagon and asked for their critique.

I must admit, I was pleasantly amazed to receive a response.  Better yet, an honest reply with some positives and a few negatives including recommendations on how I could improve.  I was treated to someone else's opinion on how I could better present my shop and all because they wanted to help others.  I am so honoured that this person took the time out of promoting their business to try and assist myself and many others.  I look forward to putting their suggestions to work. 

It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of starting a new business or keeping a successful business running smoothly.  Next time you find yourself with a few extra minutes, rather than day dreaming them away, try to put them to use giving someone else a boost.  Someday you might be the lucky recipient of another person's words of wisdom.

A very SPECIAL thanks to SPELLitOUTbyLSudler for taking the time to critique me!

To view SPELLitOUTbyLSudler's shop go to http://www.spellitoutbylsudler.etsy.com/

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Inspiration

Today while doing a routine twitter check I came across a great quote.  "You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims." - Harriet Woods (via @BellaOriginals)  The meaning really ties into yesterday's blog about support. 

In today's economy it is difficult for many to make ends meat.  Thousands of people in North America are without work.  Living day to day not knowing where they are going to get an income.  Now more than ever is the best time to work as a team. 

Even though there are more shops than ever on Etsy it is not a hindrance to our business.  Our team is growing.  With more awareness there are also more consumers.  Newbie's bring with them a thirst for success.  So rather than standing on someone to get ahead, make it your vow to help someone else stand tall.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Support

In my first week of blogging to promote my new business Four Elements Design, I have been completely blown away by the support I have received from complete strangers.  Rather than being reclusive, other artisans are offering their assistance.  In the world of handmade it is not "dog eat dog". 

I have came across a couple of bloggers who are offering great advice to us "Newbie's"  The first blogger can be found at http://timothyadamdesigns.blogspot.com/. He covers a wide range of topics including blog traffic tips, etsy traffic tips, and featured artists.  His information is well organised and simple to implement into your blog or Etsy shop.  A must read for anyone trying to make a go of Etsy.

The second blogger I stumbled upon can be found at http://akanedesigns.blogspot.com/.  Akane Designs blog, Etsy shop and twitter are all beautifully designed and yet relate to one another.  The blog is perfectly organized with links to US and Canadian suppliers, featured sellers, business information, etc.  She follows the number one piece of advice I have received..."pictures are worth a thousand words".   Every picture posted is creatively styled, clear and confident.  Akane Designs is a setting the standard for pretty and yet practical.

It is so refreshing to have the support of the Etsy community.  Venturing into business is a gigantc leap for many, but with the knowledgeable support of these seasoned seller's your shop or blog is bound to succeed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Think It Is Working...

Today was a BIG day for Four Elements Design.  We reached 100 fans on our facebook fan page!  It appears that saturating the Internet with Four Elements Design is getting us known. 

The first step in attracting potential buyers is getting them to view your product.  On facebook fan pages you can link to your Etsy shop.  With twitter you can tweet new listings to your followers.  So, now that you have a small following, what is next?

One of the things I have noticed is to keep all sites current.  People want to know your shop is a priority, not one without new listings or it is rarely updated.  With up to date listings, posts, and tweets you are showing your dedication to your business.  Dedication shows your reliability.

Secondly, make it personal.  Give it that human touch.  Buyer's want to know who they are purchasing from.  What that person is about, their interests, the process.  The easiest way to achive this is to include a short bio on all of your sites.  Include pictures of you, your work, your studio.  Or post lists of your favourite musicians, movies, author's.  Anything, that lets the consumer know what makes you special.

So what has Four Elements Design learned today??? 

1)  Make your presence known
2)  Keep the Buyer interested
3)  Show what makes you special

Good Luck : )

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Favorite Things

It is not surprising that I have found a few favorites after spending all this time roaming the Internet. That is the amazing thing about it. You can find anything and everything. It never disappoints.

The first seller to catch my eye is glassceiling. Another local Canadian who works with glass, but in a eco friendly way. She uses recycled sea class to create the most amazing jewelry. Not only is she creating a one of a kind piece, but also helping the environment one piece of glass at a time. Check out glassceiling's shop on etsy at http://www.glassceiling.etsy.com/ or view my favorite piece oh victoria patterned seaglass pendant http://bit.ly/50diVc.

After joining twitter and adding a few followers I came across SimplyTempted. Tempted I was. The PINK SUGAR simply sinful bath bomb http://bit.ly/6Pty4I looks good enough to eat! After seeing the tweet advertising the bath bomb I quickly ventured to SimplyTempted's etsy shop http://www.simplytempted.etsy.com/ and I was not disappointed. The shop is well designed, with excellent promotions, and appealing product photos. I will be a repeat customer for sure.

Last, but certainly not least is japlishdelights. This shop is a simple, well organized machine. The photos are excellent in quality and the jewelry is well designed and even better priced. I can hardly wait to get a Two Disc Personalized Necklace http://bit.ly/4sRmlI! To check out japlishdelights on etsy go to http://www.japlishdelights.etsy.com/.

I hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I have.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Word of Mouth

In the midst of my Internet absorption experiment I have been baffled by the simplicity of "word of mouth" advertising. A simple request of my friends to recommend my site to anyone they think might be interested has had alarming results. If each friend tells 10 people, those people tell 10 more, and so forth the affects on my business would be quite positive. Is it really as simple as to just tell your friends?

Although word of mouth is excellent for generating local followings it takes a lot more to attract the world. Although, you may have friends and family spread throughout numerous countries they can not physically reach out to as many people as the Internet. So it stands to reason that the best way to attract the 6,692,030,277 people of the world is through the Internet. Get yourself heard or seen on as many sites as possible. The possibilities are virtually endless...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Internet Overload!

In an attempt to get myself "out there" I have managed to go into an Internet overdose. Everywhere you look there are different networking, blogging, advertising, and selling sites. I have spent more time than I would like to admit jumping between facebook, etsy, twitter, tumblr, kaboodle, StumbleUpon, etc. How many different places do you really need to "present" yourself???

Constantly checking your messages, how many views you've had, how many people follow you, and what your fan counter is at can send you to the loony bin. Not to mention, take away from critical time you could be spending creating your product, taking great pictures, and living life.

So to find an answer to the age old problem of deciding where your time should be spent I have decided to do an experiment. For the month of January, I am going to access as many sites as many times a day as constructively possible. Come February, I will gage how my fans, followers, mentions, tweets, etc influence my sales.

Stayed tuned to see how well I have made out...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year = New Resolution

Seeing as it is not only a new year, but also a new decade I figured I had better make my resolution BIG! Not only am I going to take my jewelry business to the next level, but I am going to blog my way through it…

As is extremely apparent, the Internet is the best marketing tool out there. So I figure I might as well use it to the best of my abilities, hopefully inspiring other artists to put themselves out there.

So here goes a new year, new decade & a new blog! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us :)