Friday, December 9, 2011

FOLKStore is Open!

By now, you've probably heard of FOLK Magazine. It's a new kid on the magazine block and just published it's first issue earlier this year.

The editor is a "youngster" from the Midwest. I'm old enough now that I feel ok calling anyone less than half my age a youngster. :-) But Ben, the editor, seems to be onto something because the magazine has been a HUGE hit!

Ben has been busy! In early November, Ben debuted FOLKlabel: Private Selection at the Simple Goods primitive fair in Ohio.

I'm honored that Ben chose to include my handstamped flag pillows as part of this new collection!

In fact, he bought all of these pillows that I had left!

And, as if that wasn't enough, now he's gone and opened FOLKstore in Beaver Dam, Kentucky (population: 3,033!). And looky! There's those pillows again ... right in the front window of the new store!

I'm still smilin' and I'm busy making more stuff with the hope that Ben will keep buying from me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Comes Earlier Every Year!

Used to be the stores opened at 6am on Black Friday. Then it was 5am. Then 4am. Then Midnight. And this year, I think I heard that Walmart is opening at 10pm tonight (in less than 15 minutes), except the electronics won't go on sale till midnight (?).

Michael's opened at 4pm today with 30% off everything, including sale-priced items. I had only a few things on my shopping list but couldn't find any of them.

Rosehips or some sort of red berry

 A tag punch (size and shape negotiable)

Parchment paper to print on

One strike, two strike, three strikes, you're out!

But since I was there, and since I did have a coupon for 30% off everything, I took a look around the store ...

A pad of Tim Holtz Kraft paper was the first thing to jump into my shopping basket!
This is called "Kraft Resist" ... but who can resist kraft paper
(especially when it's printed with Tim Holtz designs!)???

This was quickly followed by ...

A booklet of "Salvage Stickers" ("Crowded Attic" collection) ...

Reinforcers ...

A sunflower stamp (Inkadinkadoo) ...

and just for fun ... 

A package of red & white polkadot cupcake liners!

Total damage was $26 after the 30% discount, and that's about what the kraft paper pad and the stamp would have cost at regular price!

Then I came home and was going through some mail and found a Joann's flyer for their Black Friday sale. Oh my ... I know where I'll be in less than 9 hours! :-)

Let's see, a few boxes of poly stuffing (on sale at 40% off and with a 25% coupon on top of that, I'll get as many boxes as I can get into my truck!). Their Fiskars punches are 60% off (unheard of -- and the 25% off coupon is good for that too!); sure hope they have a tag punch (or two). And I'll probably have to take a peek at the fabric while I'm there, though it will have to be something I really "need" to stand in line very long.

And after that, I may just drive to Modesto to see what Jamison's looks like on opening day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Harvest Festival - Sacramento

I have a feeling y'all are probably anxious to see what I bought with my Harvest Bucks ... right? I walked the whole show, making mental notes as I went about booths I wanted to go back to. I ended up buying from two almost local artists, one lady is from Modesto and the other is from Red Bluff.

The crow pottery was made by Charlotte Certain whose business name is "Crooked Finger Pottery." I couldn't find her on Facebook, Etsy, or Google! She lives in Red Bluff, if you're trying to track her down. I love the crows! The berry bowl (there's a separate saucer underneath it) is for a friend's birthday/holiday gift, so if you're reading this, Jennifer, you'll get it in a couple of weeks! :-)

The "California" bracelet is from Grouse And Badger; they do have a shop on Etsy, but readily admitted they don't list everything they make there. The bracelet is made from a vintage California license plate!

And I still have $15 in Harvest Bucks left, so I'll be going back to the Harvest Festival on Sunday!

I Won! I Won!


This week I won 4 tickets to the Harvest Festival and also $100 in Harvest Bucks. I'm not having much luck finding anyone to attend the show with me, but I expect to have a fun time spending the $100 in the artist booths!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Etsy Treasury - Happy Homespun Holidays

I just put together an Etsy Treasury for the holidays. Hope you'll take a moment and give it some love. Log in to your Etsy account and click on some (or all) of the 16 items and leave a comment. The link is below the image of the Treasury. Thanks, and Happy Homespun Holidays!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blogger Finally Got It (mostly) Right!!!

I don't know when Blogger made this change, but I've just discovered the ability to port all of my blogs to a new email address! In the past, it only seemed like I was able to port a few abilities, i.e. writing new posts but not changing the template, for example, but now I've got ALL of my blogs associated with the email account I use on a daily basis. So now I won't have to log out of that Gmail account, log in to another Gmail account to work on the blogs, log out of that Gmail account, and log back into my regular day-to-day Gmail account. YIPPEE!!!

Maybe this will even tempt me to post more often! :-)

Now ... if they'd put space back between paragraphs, make sure the easy edit option (the pencil icon) is available when it's supposed to be (it seems to only show in Firefox at the moment), and fix the image adder thingy so images get inserted where they're supposed to go, rather than at the top of the post, where I then have to drag them to where I want them. Oh, and make their site work better with IE. I go back and forth between IE and Firefox, and lately it's been IE, but publishing posts has been next to impossible in IE, as well as saving in draft format.

So Blogger got something right, but it looks like other things may have gotten broke in the process. Sigh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Love My Customers but I Hate Dimensional Weight Shipping!

I need to whine and vent just a bit about the post office and their "dimensional weight shipping." In case you're not familiar with this term, this is how they calculate postage when a package is larger than 1 cubic foot (i.e., 12x12x12 or any measurements which make the total cubic inches greater than 1728 when you multiply the length times the width times the height.

This morning I received a wholesale order from a new customer. Ben likes my hand stamped flag pillows, but needs them in Ohio no later than this coming Friday, so he can take them to the Simple Goods show on Saturday where he will debut the new FOLKlabel: Private Selection! He requested all of the large pillows I have on hand and a few small ones, but the only box I have that this many pillows would fit in is huge; there was a little room left in the box, but not very much.

The box weighs just 8 pounds. I checked shipping via all of the major carriers. Priority Mail is $57.67; Express Mail is $51.28; it would get there the same day either way, except Express Mail is guaranteed to arrive by 3pm, that's the
only difference ... and it's cheaper! FedEx Ground is $45.75 and is guaranteed to arrive by the end of the 4th business day (i.e., Friday, Nov. 4th if I ship on Oct. 31st). UPS wants $43.26 for their "3 day Select" service, and says it will arrive by the end of the day on Thursday, Nov. 3rd if I ship tomorrow. All of these rates are simply OUTRAGEOUS and they're so high because of the Dimensional Weight calculations! Back in the good ol' days, that is before 2007, Priority Mail didn't cost much more than Parcel Post, and FedEx Ground and UPS home delivery were both very competitive, especially for larger and/or heavier packages. But since then, it's been VERY expensive to ship any packages larger than 1 cubic foot, especially if they're traveling any distance, as is the case with these pillows. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Parcel Post would be just $14.15, but the package likely wouldn't arrive until Monday, Nov. 7th, which is three days too late!

Anyway, Ben and I shot some emails back and forth, trying to decide what to do. In the end, he decided to have me put as many pillows in the huge box as it would hold, so he's got all 21 flag pillows that I have left!

If you go to the Simple Goods show, please stop by Ben's booth and say hi and pick up one of my flag pillows!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Prairie Primitives Mercantile Lives Again!

The Merc has been neglected for much too long because I couldn't quite decide what I wanted to do with it. For the time being, anyway, I've redesigned it and set up tabs which link to the corresponding sections in my Etsy shop and to my yard sale page on Facebook.

I'm giving serious thought to reopening my Picturetrail site soon too! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Want to Change the Name of Your Etsy Shop?

Starting October 18, you'll be able to!!

Did you sign up for Etsy using a goofy name, or maybe just one you regret? Ready to let it go? Of course, you won't be able to use any Etsy shop names which are already in use, but if you have a new, unique name in mind, you'll have the chance to make it yours! If you'd like to use proper capitalization in your shop name, you will be able to do that as well, however Etsy is still not allowing any spaces in the shop name, so multiple words will remain run together. You will be able to change your shop name ONE TIME, however if you want to change the "case" of your name now and then later you choose to completely change your shop name, you will be able to do that; changing the "case" (i.e., from all lowercase to upper and lower case ... prairieprimitives to PrairiePrimitives, for example) will not count as a name change. Your old shop URL will redirect to your new shop URL (changing your shop name changes your shop URL as well), so you won't end up with a bunch of broken links all over the internet! Read more here!

It also appears that Etsy is re-visiting the whole personal name thing again. If you've signed into Etsy today, you may have been greeted with a pop-up that offered you a chance to change the way your name will be displayed. If you're in business with someone else, consider adding their name to this display name! And, of course, you can opt out of showing your name as you've been able to all along. I don't know, however whether Etsy will automatically begin showing your name if you have previously opted out of doing so. Here's the forum discussion about these changes and this answer (and others) may be in there; it's already up to 20 pages and I don't have time to read all of that right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another 15 minutes of fame :-)

Small Flag Pillows - $14.95 includes U.S. postage

At the California Country Antique Show back in June, my hand-stamped flag pillows were photographed by both Create & Decorate and also Maine Antiques Digest. The MAD photographer assured me that the photo would be published, probably within three months.

Large Flag Pillows - $18.95 includes U.S. postage

Today, I sold one of the flag pillows in my Etsy shop to a MAD subscriber who had seen the photo in the September issue of the paper, and tracked me down on Google. How cool is that?!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Digital Collage Sheet - Sailor Kids

I've just uploaded the newest digital collage sheet file to my Etsy shop! I was looking through my vintage photos and realized I had dozens of pictures of children in sailor suits and/or playing with boats, thus Sailor Kids #1 was born! Here's a peek ... click on the image to purchase it in my Etsy shop!

While you're in my Etsy shop, you may want to have a look at some of my other digital collage sheet files too! The Valentine collection was my first one, then someone asked if I had any Civil War images and then, of course, I had to create a few Easter collections ...

If you don't have an Etsy account, these images will be in my Picturetrail shop when it reopens (hopefully in the next week or so!). I will also upload them to my brand new Zibbet shop.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If it's Spring, eBay will raise their fees!

It's Spring, and that means we can count on two things for those of us here in Northern California: the magnolia trees will soon be blooming and eBay will soon be raising their fees ... yet again!

eBay's latest move (effective 4/19/11) is to charge their standard 9% commission (for non-store sales) on the final selling price + shipping charges. Yep, you read it right! Now eBay is charging a commission on postage!!! The theory behind this move is that it will "incent" (eBay's word) sellers to offer free shipping. eBay listings with free shipping will presumably still receive a higher search ranking; this is something eBay claims to have been doing for awhile now.

Other than the potential better search ranking, 9% of a $10 selling price + $3 postage OR 9% of a $13 selling price (which includes free shipping) sounds like the same thing to me! It's still 9% of $13.

More info here:

Oh, and by the way, eBay has also been named one of the world's most ethical companies. Can you believe it? You can read about that here:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

11 Quick Tips to Improve Your Etsy Shop

(Updated and Revised, 6/30/13)

This topic has come up quite often on the Sac Etsy Team's Yahoo Group discussion, so it seemed like something worth writing about! Completing these tasks may help improve your rankings in Google and other search engines!

1. Be Sure Your Shop Policies are Complete: It is important to let shoppers know your Shop Policies.
a. What form of payment do you accept?
b. How do you ship?
c. Do you ship internationally?
d. Will you accept returns and will you give a refund or are you willing to let the customer exchange their purchase for a different item? Who pays the return shipping? If it is an exchange, who pays the shipping for the replacement item?

2. Your Shop Title: Another important thing to remember for the search engines is that your Shop Title will be the title of the search listing for your shop. Your Shop Title is the text

beneath your Shop Name (see 2nd line in the circled area above). Compare my Shop Title to the Google search results shown in #3 below. Many Etsy sellers make the mistake of repeating the name of their shop here. This would result in having a Google listing which reads "Prairie Primitives by PrairiePrimitives on Etsy." Probably not what you had in mind, right? Use words here which shoppers might use to find the type of products you're selling.

3. Your Shop Announcement: Your Shop Announcement is the text below your banner and Shop Title.

The first 160 characters of your shop announcement will be used by search engines as the description, so be sure to use words which describe your shop and merchandise rather than something like "Hi, Welcome to my shop! It's so nice to have you visit today!" which would tell someone browsing the search results absolutely nothing about your shop and why they should click on that particular link.

See how my Shop Announcement shows up in Google? (Ok, so I'm waiting for Google to catch up with my recent edit and then I'll replace this image!).

4. Be Sure to Have a Banner: Having a banner gives your shop a finished and more professional appearance. The banner is a rectangular graphic at the top of your Etsy shop. It should measure 760px by 100px, and the file size should be 2mb or less. If you don't have the skills to create your own, Etsy offers an online banner generator to create a generic banner, or you can hire someone with appropriate skills to design a banner for you. It's a good idea to include your business name on your banner; this helps with name recognition because shoppers may not otherwise pay attention to the shop's name. I prefer to use Irfanview to add text to my images; many other image editing programs can be used to add text too.

5. Include Your Location: Be sure to include your location so your shop can be found by shoppers using Etsy's "Shop Local" feature! Many shoppers prefer to spend their hard-earned dollars within their own community. If a shopper is looking for your hand painted handbag and they find several bags which they like equally and one is made by a local artisan and the others are not, there's a pretty good chance they will choose your bag! Shoppers enjoy shopping local because they like to support local artists, because they will receive their purchase more quickly, and because it keeps the shipping cost down -- and perhaps eliminate it altogether if you can meet up with the shopper to deliver their purchase! [NOTE: When meeting anyone from online, it's always a good idea to meet in a public place.]

6. Consider Your Item Title: Etsy allows 140 characters for the title of your listing, although search engines will only show about 66 characters. Many sellers err on the side of too lengthy a title, while others err on the side of a less-than-descriptive title. If you are selling a handbag, for example featuring a hand painted iris, using "Purple Iris" as the entire title doesn't tell the shopper what the item is. Etsy search uses a "relevancy" algorithm (see more info on this in #9 below). Ensuring that your entire listing, including the title, is relevant should get your item more views! For relevancy purposes, be sure that "handbag" (or whatever the noun is in your title) is one of the first 3 words, and that the other 2 of the first 3 words are good, searchable words and, better yet, an entire phrase that a shopper might search for when looking for your item.

7. Item Description: Be sure to write an adequate description, including as much information about your item as possible. Include details about the materials used and the size in both American ("Imperial") and metric measurements. Providing information about what inspired you to create the item can be a good selling point.

8. Work Those Tags: Etsy gives you space to include 13 tags. Tags are phrases which shoppers might use when searching for your item. Keep an eye on Etsy's Merchandising Desk articles and incorporate key words and phrases based on what the Etsy merchandisers will be searching for could help your items land on the front page or be featured elsewhere on the Etsy web site! If you're a member of any Etsy teams, include their team tag on at least some of your items. I always include my shop name as one of my tags, and lately I've been including my city as well ... especially if I run out of ideas for Really Good tags.

9. Optimize Your Shop for Relevancy: In 2011, Etsy changed from showing search results based on recency to showing them based on relevancy. Important things to be aware of include using multiple-word tags, rather than the single-word tags which Etsy pretty much insisted on for many years. Now your tags should be phrases which shoppers are likely to use when searching for your type of items, such as "primitive doll" (rather than "primitive" and "doll" as separate tags) or "blue dress" (rather than "blue" and "dress" as separate tags), and so on. Unfortunately, sellers are still limited to just 20 characters for each tag, which can make this somewhat challenging. Your title should have the noun ("what it is") near the beginning of the title, in the first 2 or 3 words if not the very first word. And I've been hearing and reading that the first 3 words of your description should be a phrase from the title which is also used in the tags; I handle this by copying most of the title to the first line of the description. :-)

10. Photographing Your Item: Because you are selling online, your photographs have to tell the whole story. Shoppers aren't able to touch, feel, or smell your product, so you'll need to do it for them through your photographs. When photographing your items, think how they would be portrayed in a magazine; consider what type of props, if any, would be appropriate for your item. Etsy provides 5 slots for photos; show your item from different angles, or in different positions, or with different backgrounds.
a. Be sure your photographs are in focus; of course "creative" out-of-focus backgrounds are fine, as long as the item you're selling is plainly visible.
b. Think about how you "style" your photos. Read this article from the Etsy blog for some tips.
c. Be mindful about undesired shadows in your photos. There are times when a bit of shadow can be a good thing, but this isn't always the case.
d. Using a pure white background will often make your item appear much sharper and crisper, as if it's in an art gallery setting. This can be a nice effect (and may help your item to be featured by Etsy), however it's not always the best choice for all items. I feel it is more important to present a consistent image. Right now, nearly all of my photos are taken with an antique chippy green shutter for the background.

11. List More Items: If you just have a handful of items listed (less than one page), list more items! For the last couple of years, I have attempted to keep 50 items listed in my Etsy shop. Having more items, as well as a wider variety of items, will enable more shoppers to find your shop. A few years ago, a friend of mine was doing quite well with her product on eBay, however she was getting very fed up with the high fees on that site. I talked her into opening an Etsy shop. She listed about half a dozen items. When she didn't have any sales in a week or so, she became frustrated. I asked if she could list two dozen items. She said yes and got them listed and the sales started rolling in almost immediately. She has since had more than 200 items listed on a fairly regular basis, and has sold more than 3000 items, and there have even been several days when she has sold more than 20 items in a day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine Make Do

Wanted to take a moment to share this Valentine Make Do I made a couple weeks ago! I'd been working on collage and mixed media and decided to mix in a little fabric and see what happened! This make do is going to American Country in Turlock, CA. Lori, the owner of American Country, is getting a few other things from me too; she'll be picking them up on Saturday so they should be in the shop soon after that!