Saturday, December 12, 2015

What tools do I need for Jewelry Tutorials?

At a Black Friday sale at the hobby store Micheal's, I found "mini-ornaments" on sale for 50% off! I went mad collecting them as my daughter had requested Christmas earrings as gifts for her co-workers at the cancer center where she is a medical assistant.
As I assembled them I made up a quicky tutorial which will be posted shortly. If you have any questions, please comment or email me. I'm glad to help. You may be able to get deals since it's closer to Christmas.
People may wonder why I make tutorials of things I actually sell - well, it's because I want people to see the work and care that goes into what I make. For those consumers who feel they can make it for less - here's how I do it.
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NOW to get started in jewelry:
For any jewelry tutorial you're going to need tools. While you can purchase tools at any hobby store, I caution you that in tools you really do get what you pay for.
You will need:
 Chain nose pliers. Many non-jewelry pliers (being sold in the jewelry section) have serrations on the jaws of the pliers. These ridges will mar any wire or bead. Check the pliers you are purchasing!
 Flat nose pliers. Again, many hobby stores have these pliers with serrations (ridges) on the jaws. Make sure the jaws are smooth and clear of any imperfections. These pliers have a "square" tip on the jaw.
Round nose or Rosary pliers Round nose (or Rosary) pliers. On these pliers, make sure when you close the jaws they actually touch each other at the base. Here is a pic:
 Cutting pliers. These are called "side cutters" are are the type of cutters used for most jewelry projects.
The above tools will help you with any jewelry project. Again, any questions, please comment on this blog or email me.
Here is a handy-dandy PDF file with a page for printing out to take to the store with you!
 PDF Jewelry Tools - What do I need?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Loving Shopify - not so much Pinterest or Amazon Handcrafted

Been a long time since we last "spoke." Have had too much going on - too many sites to be on.

That is the first issue with joining Amazon Handcrafted. Another added site to take care of. I was not as lucky as many other H@A (Handcrafters at Amazon). I have not had a sale nor have I had many views.

But Shopify has been different. I have been taking Mei Pak's (CreativeLive) 30-day Challenge and I must say it's amazing. I had watched the free broadcast of three of her programs - Selling on Social, Contests, and actually a few others.

Through her CreativeLive programs, I joined her private FB group where I learned about the A Sale-a-Day 30 day Challenge. When I first looked at it - I thought, not for me. I thought I had the perfect website, the perfect plan.

But something told me to just go ahead and try.

Day One - Setting Goals - this has always been difficult for me since I dislike planning for anything immensely. My thoughts are that every time I attempt to plan anything - everything and anything goes wrong.

Let's go on a field trip next Thursday. It rains or it's 200 degrees in the shade.

I'm going to finish posting my jewelry. Phone calls, interruptions, loss of internet for an hour - roadblock after roadblock.

But, hey, I'm a glutton for punishment, so let's move on. A sale a day? Yes, okay, that's my goal.

The next step of building a cohesive product line was not at difficult as I had anticipated. After looking at my website with a clearer approach - I noticed it did look like a "garage sale." I think this is an issue of many crafters. We dabble in so many different aspects of craft - and we want to sell it all.

But what really tugs at your heart? What is the very essence of your soul (to get a little poetic)?

Since I'm in my second try at childhood, I traveled back to my teens when boho was basically "invented." I do love all things hippie (and groovy) so it is a logical choice as my main theme.

Since being on Amazon has limited my crafty selling to jewelry, this was also a contributor to my choice.

Now on Shopify, I have added some apps - one of which does cost a monthly fee. I'm paying for ShopStorm Product Customizer and haven't looked back. I originally started this app because Shopify does not supply enough variants for all the t-shirt colors I wanted to carry (if a color is available, why not carry it? Well, not completely true but I'll talk about that in the future). They also give options for customization AND GET THIS - people can upload their images.

So it is for this reason that I do pay for this app in addition to Shopify fees. It is also a reason I do not like H@A. I can ask if someone would like customization in text. I can ask about size and limited color. But I cannot have someone upload a pic to put into a necklace or charm.

Another issue with Shopify versus Amazon is I must have the lowest price available on Amazon. This leaves me in a quandary when it comes to coupons on Shopify. Is Amazon looking at the price on the "system" and so a coupon would not necessarily play into this?

Another obligation I have taken on through Mei Pak's Challenge is to maintain this blog, keep up with social media - and everything else I hadn't had a problem doing on a daily basis.

Blog - check
Social Media - been on Twitter and Instagram much more - actually enjoying.
Look Book - is my next "large" project. I'm coordinating a "look book" with my website.

  • Wikipedia's definition - lookbook is a collection of photographs compiled to show off a model, a photographer, a style, or stylist or a clothing line. 
So stay tuned as I get my act together. I will not go through Mei Pak's Challenge step-by-step. If you're interested in getting her challenge, check her out on her blog at http://www.creativehiveco.com/

You will not be sorry to take her challenge. Follow me along on mine!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Still working on my Shopify website - and I still have hair ...

I hadn't posted in a while about my Shopify website because I've been just too busy learning and figuring out all the ins and outs of having your own store.

I'll try to not let updates take so long - giving you too much information to read at one sitting. And none of this is to discourage you - it is only to give you a dose of reality.

All those blogs and webinars - start your website in 30-days! Yes, right. Be realistic - it helps to keep you from getting discouraged. Do not drop your POD sites. You need to continue making money and getting customers to recognize your brand. However, I would not spend a lot of time pushing the POD sites - instead use that time on your own site or for your work.

I'll summarize and give you some "cliff notes" (all you oldies will remember that). If you want details (and some whining), read on.

1. Pinterest rejects my store for "buyable" buttons.
2. I rearrange inventory back to a customer friendly format for downloads.
3. I shop (for 2 months now) for outsourcing t-shirts. Cannot find price, quality, and customer service with just one vendor.
4. Cannot find all products I want with one vendor. I'm using S6 for leggings and duvets. I will not get a big payout but I feel most confident with them.
5. Get reinstated for Pinterest "buyable" buttons. Here I go again with new products setup.

First, Pinterest - they declined my application for "buy" buttons. After changing my entire website to their requirements - no download options on the product, only size and color variants, only certain colors - and it seemed to never end.

I removed download options and made a new category for them alone. So now my note cards and prints did not have the option to purchase a download instead of the actual hard copy print or card. As you can well imagine, this took an immense amount of time.

I receive their decline. I immediately asked why. Good grief, I followed their instructions to the letter, spent so much time redistributing inventory - why on earth would I be declined?

The decline was back in the beginning of June. I still hadn't heard anything so I redid all my products AGAIN back to the much easier for the customer format. Now if you look at a note card you have the options of one card, box of cards, or download your image and print on your own.

I have also been "shopping" t-shirt third-party sources. Talk about another headache. Prices are all over the board and so is customer service. Reading through customer reviews, complaints - my own reviews and complaints. Vendors do not want to lose you and promise you the world. I'm still not finished. I'm still waiting on another shipment on another style t-shirt.

As it looks I'm going to end up using multiple suppliers for various products. For example, one for t-shirts, one for phone case, another for tote bags - and on and on. I don't like it. Too much to keep track of.

Then I learned through a wonderful friend who purchased my t-shirt about when someone purchases the wrong size. Your outsource vendors will not take a shirt back. It is you who has to buy a new shirt, in the correct size, unless you have told them up front that there are no returns.

So, again, going through all the screens and pages of products making sure I spell out - quite clearly - these are custom items and therefore no returns/exchanges permitted for the wrong size. I have detailed manufacturers information on every t-shirt sold. There is really no reason for someone to choose the wrong size but - as we all know - there will be someone who doesn't read the fine (even though my fine print is bold and blue) print.

I'm worried about what this might do when a customer reads it. But this is the way it's processed on Etsy so we will see how it goes. I have no choice. I'm not Macy's or Zazzle - I cannot afford to stack up a wrong size inventory.

Then today "surprise" Pinterest says, we're sorry - we approved you for "buy" buttons. Can you hear me scream? So now, tonight, I'm getting things ready for the "buy" buttons from Pinterest. I'm leaving products that were done before today as they are. I'm only setting up the new products per Pinterest's requirements. There must have been many people who Shopify lost on this buyable button campaign because they sent out a blog about how they worked with Pinterest to modify things.

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In between all this I'm trying to post at least a design a day, plus doing "real" (transcription) work, and trying to move around so I don't end up with another pulmonary embolism.

I envy anyone who says that they got their website up and running in days. They need to write a book on how they did it. I guess if I had start-up money where I could just buy t-shirts to check quality and single out a vendor - that may be a help. But there's still all the other behind the screen things not including MARKETING.

Good grief - don't get me started on marketing on this blog. We'll leave all that for next time. Thanks for listening. I hope that I do give you some insight on the massive "I've got my own website" world out there.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Giving up on the Pinterest Buy Buttons

My Shopify website is complete. I'm just adding inventory at this point - which seems to take forever. Now I understand why sites like Society 6 are much easier than your own website. People complain about having to have different sized images for S6 - but when it's your own site - you have to actually make up all those images. It's mind boggling the length of time it takes.

But back to Pinterest Buy Buttons. I had blogged about how they would reject my option of downloading an image. Well, little did I know my site could not have downloads at all. After hours of giving downloads their own page - I got a reject from Pinterest this morning.

I'm not 100% sure it was my download situation. Their reject email only stated

Unfortunately, since your business contains products not allowed by Pinterest’s Advertising Rules, Pinterest was unable to approve your application.

After reading their fine print, the only thing I can figure that I did incorrectly was downloads. Well, you know what, they're not worth anymore of my time. If they cannot spend the time to tell me specifically what was wrong with my submission, I cannot waste my time trying to appease their somewhat ridiculous requirements.

I did, by the way, ask for specifics. We'll see how long it takes for an answer.

And so, once again, it appears everything is for the "big boys." I scold myself for ever taking the time to perform back bends to appease their somewhat insatiable requirement for me to be a model store.

I will now concentrate on making enough handcrafted products to qualify for Amazon's handcrafted market which definitely seems to be much more profitable.

If you are looking to apply Pinterest Buy Buttons to your site's repertoire - good luck. Let me know if you "make it" to their elite group. I'm just a little angry that they could not take the time to separate my submission from those with violence, adult-only, drug ridden products not allowed - and tell me specifically what's wrong.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

When does this saga end?

It's been a little over a month since I've posted about my transition to a Shopify website. I must say I'm loving Shopify and the tools. BUT if you are someone who has little or no experience on setting up your website (even with user-friendly tools), either you will have to be content with an "as is" appearance or be ready for some in-depth study.

In my prior website experiences I have used Yahoo - both their simple basic website setup and their eCommerce platform. I have used Homestead. I have used Adobe Muse integrated with their Catalyst platform (this requires some knowledge of HTML). So I did not come into Shopify without some website experience.

But the menus at Shopify are at times confusing. Meaning where do you click first to get to something else. I still have to resort to their Shopify docs on things I've done before because I'd forgotten the entire process.

I lucked out in my timing with Shopify because right after I had somewhat set up my store - they joined with Pinterest to engage "buy buttons."

Since I do have a business Pinterest site, I was ready and willing to jump on the bandwagon.

You engage the Pinterest channel through Shopify's menu. Very simple - until Pinterest starts to navigate your site.

Errors!!! First Pinterest only recognizes size and color as the variants. So Shopify has this nifty part of its variants that you can sell a physical item (such as an art print) with normal size variants (8x10, 11x14, etcetera). AND you can add a variant for a download of the print. Great Shopify tool! I had it all over the place. And thus I had errors all over the place.

So I had to take the downloads off of the variant menus. Then I had to set up new products for the downloadable files.

Thought I was done. Pinterest was finally happy with my non-downloadable products. WRONG! Now I had PayPal as my gateway provider who I had always used. NOT ALLOWED - you must use Shopify Payments provided by Stripe. Thankfully all I had to do to correct this error was complete the application for Stripe. In the end, I'm pretty happy with the choice since you can also use Stripe on your phone - which I must look into.

Is my site done? Technically, yes. But I must now add much more products. I have also figured out how to connect my blog with the site. Only good things to come!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The continuing saga of a website creation ...

Been pretty proud of myself this week. I've had A LOT of transcription work and yet I have continued creating and working on my website.

I miss Wix - haven't been there other than to copy product information. But there's just so much to play with!!! Wonderful tools and play toys - very little SEO. To repeat and remind - I did upgrade from the free version to the eCommerce site. You were able to use Wix for everything from the shopping cart to customer service. They had all the platforms right there on Wix. It was so simple to link to outside information also.

To remind everyone of the issue with Wix - very little SEO. I found out about Shopify through Wix. They had and integrated platform with them. I loaded the Shopify app onto my Wix eCommerce site and it turned one page into my Shopify store. This store, however, was extremely limited.

So I jumped into the Shopify ocean - it feels like I went head first. In my previous post I was stomping my feet about the plain, simplicity of the Shopify look. No toys!! But alas, once again I have been handed my words on a silver platter ready for my consumption.

Shopify is DEEP. You do have a lot of control over what is going on there. The problem is you have to dig for the information. I guess that means Shopify is not user-friendly especially if the user has little or no experience in websites.

I quite accidentally (I believe through Googling something) bumped into Shopify "docs." This is where they have all their info and questions. Shopify Docs

Wow - what a treasure trove! They have wonderful screenshots for any question. So it isn't a matter of "how'd they do that?" as you pull your hair out. I can very simply go from the docs screen to my Shopify dashboard - following each screen shot and each tab or menu they show. I have learned how to show only women's t-shirts or kid shirts.

They are a fascinating site in that your site really does only come with a few pages. It's when the customer clicks on the menu showing "women's t-shirts" that the behind the scenes classifications work their magic and bing - there's only the women's t-shirts.

My SEO problem no longer exists. I'm permitted to put in my search terms for each design on each product. They have fantastic analytics.

But I am just never happy. They limit you on variants to 100. While that sounds like a lot it is quite limited in the world of t-shirts. So you have sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, and 5XL. That's 8 variants right there.

Now believe it or not - I have 38 choices of color. I could limit the choices but if they're available - why should I? I mean if somebody were to leave my site because I decided not to list yellow - I don't know. I have no idea how I would figure out which colors to use and which to drop.

There's no way in the great blue sky I can use all these colors. That would be 288 variants! So this was my dilemma of this week.

Searching through "docs" I found that you can add a space for input from the customer. Now, I was already wondering about this for customizing t-shirts with a name. Yes, the customer could email me a request but that would not tie the request with a specific order.

So, yes, you can add forms to Shopify through a site called "JotForm." They have a free version for beginners. I could sell 10 t-shirts a month using their form for zip, zero, nada. Their form automatically ties the request with the order through the customer's name. Again, behind the scenes magic.

My JotForm can be used anywhere - blogs, other sites - wherever I can place HTML.

HTML - you notice that it's a four-letter "word?" Yup, to use this I have to go into the HTML mode of the site which I had thought you couldn't do on Shopify. But yes you can!

So I will use this form for any special requests of a name or group name or whatever a person may want on their shirt. A customer can even upload a pic to place on a t-shirt. This is where I may place the color choice.

I have a t-shirt of each of the colors available on the site. If you click on the t-shirt it takes you to a pop up of the shirt in every color. If you click "add to cart" my request form will pop up. Here you can request a name and choose a color - I think.

I will play and get a headache. A lot of reading to do which I've been doing in between my transcription work. Both of which will contribute to my headache.

You're always welcome to visit either of my sites. Wix is no longer upgraded. And Shopify is far from complete. But if you're curious about what the sites have - please go look. Sign up - remember misery loves company.

My Wix still has eCommerce until the end of this month.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Embarking on Selling with the Big Guys!

This post is more for fellow PODer's than for crafters. But I'm sharing my travel on the road of trying to sell. Trying to be more in control of my own destiny and not at the whim of POD sites who determine my commission and sometimes even determine what I can or cannot sell.

To begin with I tried Wix. I love Wix. I love all the toys and tools. To me it was like walking through the office supply store with all the different color pens and markers. Slideshows, blogger can be included on the site. I even went so far as to pay for a premium edition where I could sell my products.

Setting up products was so easy. And I absolutely loved the look! The one limitation was the variants on products. You were only allowed 10 (ten) choices per variant. This is fine for sizes but for colors available on t-shirts -- it's very limited.

My way around that was to provide a choice of "contact" me to tell me what color you wanted. I listed 9 (nine) of what I thought would be the most popular and then leave the choice of (contact me for color). They could then complete a contact form and tell me what color they wanted. Not very customer friendly.

The other reason why I could not stay with Wix was their lack of SEO. They had SEO for each page but that was it. I do not even think your pics would show up on a Google image search. No SEO for each product. So very disappointing.

So Wix had a deal with Shopify attached. Shopify would take over one page of your Wix site. As far as I could tell at this point ALL products would appear on this one page. EEK!! Talk about scrolling. So I canceled the plan.

As I continued on my Wix only, adding products without any SEO info, I again became frustrated.

So off to Shopify - only - I go. I set up a free trial. I still do not love it :(. But they are so intertwined with many other social sites, you cannot avoid them. But dilemma, dilemma, I can't use Nature's Sol because that's already associated with many other things.



So Shopify gives me a domain name for $9.99 a year. Fine, I wanted to tie up CAV Designs anyway. So that is my domain name here. Added my Wanelo app - and BINGO - I have a shop on Wanelo! Happy, happy, happy. I could not have done this with the Wix/Shopify combo.

Shopify is confusing! Pretty easy to add products but so hair pulling on trying to organize them. Their layouts are beyond simplistic. But thinking about it - this is probably to make them mobile friendly. I mean how many people want to watch a slideshow on their phone when they want to buy or look up a price?

So I'm trying to be in a happy place with a simple layout. Shopify is definitely mobile friendly. They are tied in with everyone. It's like I'm sitting at the cheerleaders table in the High School lunchroom LOL.

I'm having to redo everything to CAV Designs which is a bummer. But perhaps I'll get some new folks along the way. I am still trying to figure this all out. So if you look at my site - there's almost nothing there - at least nothing interesting LOL.

But be sure to follow me on Wanelo and I'll follow you back. I had followers on Nature's Sol - and now I must find you all again. So please give me a follow. Maybe I'll have more power on posting your products since I'm a store now!

My store site is CAV Designs. Please do not judge my site too hard. I'm no where near understanding all this. But do let me know if you notice something missing that I need to figure out how to bring in.

My goal is to not be dependent on Etsy, on no one, for commission. Of course, I will still be "out there" on the traditional sites. But I hope to bring anyone who visits me there over to my real store.

Hope that my trials and tribulations may help you on your path.

This blog from Shopify is fantastic. Check it out https://www.shopify.com/blog/14866757-make-your-pins-count-7-ways-to-drive-sales-and-traffic-with-pinterest

Stay tuned as I stumble down this path. Hope to help you out with the info too.