Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Surf, Dude, Surf!

This book is hilarious.

So-cal's Answer to Dick and Jane.

Not only does it teach you how to read,


and how to use bodacious surfing lingo,


like cruisemobile, 


but it teaches you to not harsh on anyone's mellow, to share, 


to play air guitar to jukeboxes, and most importantly


to run away to the beach for more surfing if your parents question you about homework. 


Bail, Dude, Bail!

What more can one ask from a book?

(To see the rest of this totally righteous story, come to the library. It's a bodacious place, dude. Way non-bogus.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Introvert - Extravert

I'm really rather perplexed right at the moment. My personality identity has just been challenged. (That's terrible phrasing, but I couldn't think how else to say it.)

I always thought I was an introvert. It made sense. I don't like huge parties. I'm very slow paced. I'm terrible at social cues. 2 + 2, right?

Apparently not. According to this article, there's a big difference between being introverted, and being shy.
"On the surface, introversion looks a lot like shyness. Both limit social interaction, but for differing reasons. The shy want desperately to connect but find socializing difficult. Introverts seek time alone because they want time alone. An introvert and a shy person might be standing against the wall at a party, but the introvert prefers to be there, while the shy individual feels she has no choice."
I don't prefer to be there. I don't like being in the middle of the action either, but I hate being awkwardly all by myself against the wall.

Most of the article made it sound like I was really just a closet extrovert. Someone who wanted to be out and connected, but just had a really hard time doing it. Debilitating shyness, as it were.

And really, I think that's true. Except for a few parts. The ones I mentioned earlier. Because I do like slow paced interaction better. But I still need interaction. And I do like one on one much better than huge groups of people. But I still get super board if I'm not a part of what's going on.

Things weren't matching up. I was one. Then the other. Then back to the first again.

So I've come to the conclusion that I'm just a weird type of mix. Everyone's a mix of some kind, but I think I'm a really strange combination.

I've been sitting here for ages trying to find a really good way to explain in words what I understand in my head. And I just have no idea how to do it. I even thought of drawing a diagram, but while it would make sense to me, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't illuminate anything for anyone else.

I'm just a weird mix. All the wrong parts of both.

In case anyone cares (which I don't suppose you do), here is a short list of things that the article talked about, and where I stand on them.






After making this chart, I counted it all up. Out of 19 listed things, 8 were introverted, and 11 were extroverted. Obviously this isn't a very comprehensive exploration of the topic. Neither is it very technical or reliable, since I made the chart up myself. But it definitely has caused me to explore things about myself that I never thought of before.

I am so weird. A person who thrives on interaction, but still hates big parties. That's probably the debilitating shyness kicking in, though. Because small parties where I know everyone... I like them. They don't drain me at all. I hate it when people leave. Which is definitely an extroverted trait.

I think that's probably the case with at least half of my introvert traits. That they are how they are because of many long years of being too shy to act otherwise.

I guess that's why I like to write. It covers my desperate need for communication and interaction, but also allows me to do it at my own slow and steady pace. It covers the fly by the seat of my pants part of me (racing through a rough draft) and the polishing part of me (the editing that comes afterward.) That's pretty awesome.

This is still really throwing off my groove. I am so surprised by learning this about myself. And yet other people I talk to don't seem to be at all. *shrug*

Alright, this is the part where I started rambling away, and stopped myself just in time to save you from a long and boring epistle. Thank you and good night.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

People are So Weird

Sometimes LDS culture is just too much for me. (Not the church. Just the way that people act in the church.) There is a ravenous desire for art, music, and literature that is cheesy in the extreme. When weighed in the scales, cutesy or cheesy will always outweigh quality. And I just don't understand it.

I realize that editing with software is part of any photographer's life. And I accept that. But this?


The colors and the sun rays are so obviously photoshopped that I just can't handle it. (Not to mention that in almost 9 years I've NEVER seen Provo look like that for the sunrise.) The point of editing is to fix things and make the picture look nice. Not to be melodramatic. 

I know, I know. It's not that bad. And kind of fun in that weird fantasy landscape kind of way. 

But definitely fake. 

And then you go and enter into a photography contest pretending like you're just that good at taking pictures. 
And it actually gets voted for. Over and over and over again. Because LDS people are SO predictable with their cultural preferences. 

I guess that might be why he did it. Dude knows his audience. 

But they really are so predictable. If it's a temple picture, throw in some fake sun rays or a couple of rainbows, and they are putty in your hands. 

And then there's this:

A romance novel about Abinadi. I kid you not. What it all comes down to is Book of Mormon fan-fic.

I have no problem with fan fics in general. Write them all you want. It's fun and amusing. But publishing them, I don't like. It just feels like cheating to me. Like all those thousands of Jane Austen spin-offs. If you want to be published, create your own characters, I say.

And scripture fan fiction is a whole 'nother level entirely.

Why? Why is this real?

And then we have Slathbog's Gold. 

I bought this book because it was on sale and the cover was awesome. Little did I know...

It very literally is a plagiarism of Tolkien's The Hobbit. Complete with magic wardrobe, boy who finds out he's a wizard, and the ever quarreling dwarf and elf who are best friends. And turning the troll to stone in the sunrise? Yup. Totally happened.

I finished reading it because I just had to see how many ways it was going to be un-original. 

And there are sequels. Two of them. Admittedly not as plagiarized as the first in terms of story line. But still very generic, not all that creative fantasy. With some severe problems. Things that any self-respecting editor would have caught on the first read through. 

This is what I mean about quality. For some weird reason, LDS people write, paint, compose, and publish stuff that would never, ever have gone anywhere in the rest of the world. 

And I just don't understand it. 

Don't even get me started on the number of terrible poems I've heard over the pulpit. Composed especially for their talk. *shudder*

Why should we shun quality? Why should we accept as good, things that are poorly made? It drives me absolutely up the wall. 

It's like LDS people don't even realize that it's crap. Like they don't understand the difference between well-painted and slapped together. It's not just a matter of accepting lower standards. They think they're getting quality stuff when they're not.  

And the worst part is that I can't even really explain myself adequately.

Every time I try, it just ends with me sounding judgmental. And other people getting offended. 

Maybe I just have weird quality standards. I don't know. But even if I don't like a story, I respect it if it's well done. And even if I love the story idea, I just despise everything about it if it's shoddy craftsmanship.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm wrong to want my portrait paintings to actually look like humans. *shrug*

Non-LDS example:

This.


                                  NOT this. 















Really, though. If anyone has any ideas, do feel free to share. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I want to be like Miss Marple when I'm old.

Some people have silly goals in life like get married or have a successful career. Mine is nothing nearly so trivial. 

I WILL beat Agatha Christie. I will not be outdone by Miss Marple. Again.

She gets me every time. And I keep trying. And she keeps fooling me. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. No one else makes me feel so much like I'm not as smart as I think I am. 

There are two parts to being a good detective. One: Finding the right clues. I'm good at this part. I see stuff and notice little subtle hints. It's just the second part I'm horrible at. 

Once you find the clues, you've got to know what to do with them. What they actually mean. That's where I fail. 

Agatha Christie is just so GOOD. So clever and knowledgeable about human nature. Decades ago she knew exactly what people like me would think, and knew exactly how to trick us into thinking other things. And knew exactly how to set it up so perfectly, logically, and clearly that we feel completely moronic for not seeing it in the first place. 

Just... just.... 

argh. 

Maybe I keep reading because the day that I figure out an Agatha Christie novel before the end is the day that I finally feel justified in thinking of myself as an intelligent person. 




This is Miss Marple in the series I've been watching lately. She's definitely my favorite interpretation of her thus far. Most of the others are all crotchety and stuff. This one's hilarious and adorable, but oh so clever. Which I think fits Agatha Christie's version the best. 

Also, she reminds me a LOT of my grandma. You know, except that she's funny, clever, spry, and not-crazy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Zombies are Real

Some people wonder how I, a 26 year old, bachelor degree holding, independent adult, can still be afraid of goblins under the bed.

Well, part of it is because weird things keep happening to me that drive my imagination into a hyperactive frenzy. For example, the Dracula incident (see the second half of THIS post).

(I chose this picture from a book I read recently, because there are a lot of monster-under-the-bed pics I found that are really scary, and were starting to freak me out.)

It makes me glad to have a very large, (And therefore easy to sleep away from the edges of) bed.

Latest episode:

Some of the buildings in our ward are curiously far away (for a Provo Ward). You have to walk almost a half mile to get to Heather Cove from my apartment.

I was walking over there to do some stuff. The sidewalks were dimly lit. I was the only one out. And inevitably I started thinking about zombies. And what I would do if a zombie attacked me. And how I really, really wished that my machete was within easy reach.

I have a machete. And a Louisville Slugger. But I get the impression that people might be freaked out by me if I started carrying them around in a sheath on my back.

I made it safely, though. Zombie free, and all in one piece.

Just before I left, I joked about how I'd been a little freaked out, and wanted my machete. Then I walked outside and into the creepy darkness.

There is a construction site on the other side of the road. Not too creepy a place, but a sidewalk-less, fenced in place, nonetheless. And very, very dark.

As I walked down the sidewalk, I heard a shuffling sound behind me.

Then I heard somewhat labored breathing.

And it was coming from the construction site.

I glanced behind me, and there was a shape. It was the size and form of a human, but it was shuffling along kind of weird.

And what the heck was it doing coming from the construction site?

It turned out to just be a girl who was out jogging. At 11 pm. In the dark. Alone. On the side of the road with no sidewalk. Right past construction.

Totally normal, right?

Once I had established that it was not, in fact, a zombie, I quickened my pace, and pulled out my phone. I texted the friend I had just left, and told her about the fake zombie scare.

I kept walking home. In the dark. On nearly deserted streets. Up ahead of me there were two slow-moving figures who really were shuffling weirdly, and not moving very fluidly down the street. As I catch a glimpse of them, I hear:


video



And I had just looked away from the creepy figures in front of me....

Once again, false alarm. The couple was shuffling weirdly because they were old, and walking two crazy but tiny dogs. The sound was my ringtone. My friend had answered me. There were no weeping angels.

Still....

It also didn't help that my front door has a squeak that could put a haunted house to shame. And it was pitch black inside. All together, I'd say it was about as much as my imagination could take without going into a bordering-on-crazy hyperactive anti-coma.


In case anyone wonders, yes I do exaggerate a lot in my life. But no, I am not making these things up just for dramatic effect. They actually happened.

The dracula one really had me panicked for a minute.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Best Doctor Who Joke This Week

Me: Doctor Who is part of my problem. It's definitely risen the bar on the epicness of bad guys, and yet they've also covered so many bases. What do I have left to choose from?

Geri: Hehe. Steal the Who villains.

Me: I wish.

Me: I mean, the weeping angels, for one. Seriously, how do you beat that?

Me: And the silence.

Geri: I try to forget about them.







Saturday, February 11, 2012

I just gotta say it...

Super-feminists annoy me.

So much.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling confident. With being comfortable with yourself. With being independent and able to handle things on your own.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a man to treat you like an equal and not a slave.

There's nothing at all wrong with wanting to be able to carry things, or to be highly educated. With wanting to know how to fix a car engine, or change a flat tire, or play with power tools. (Power tools are quite fun.)

BUT

There is also nothing wrong with being a semi-decent person with a little bit of humanity.

There's nothing wrong with being nice to people.

There is nothing wrong with having people want to be nice to you.

Check out the veins in her neck. I think she's going to explode in a fit of apoplexy.

The super-over-the-top kind of feminists are always (and this is not a hasty generalization, here. They really are always) the kind of people who get offended at everything. We can't please them, no matter what we do.

Nobody likes fault-finders, and nobody likes the perpetually offended. When you're like that, people see you as the wicked witch of the west.

This article. Honestly, it flabbergasts me. People are so... lame. Look at the comments, though. Nearly all of them, and certainly all of the highest ranking ones, disagree with the weirdos who wrote the article. (As do I.) Deep down, people are still good, decent, respectful people. It's nice to know.

On Carrying and Door-holding

It's nice when guys hold a door for someone. It is also nice when a girl holds a door. This is a gender irrelevant act of basic humanity.

If a guy holds your door or carries your bag:
  • It is not because he thinks you can't do it on your own. 
  • It is not because he wants to make fun of you. 
  • It is not because women are inherently useless. 
  • And it is definitely not because you look weak and helpless. 

Most guys aren't that stupid. They are completely aware that you have arms. They are aware that your arms move, and that they are capable of turning door knobs. Sometimes guys are just nice. They are kind to their fellow humans. One way of showing it is by helping people. The end.

I open doors for people all the time, both guys and other girls. It's polite. Manners, people. Manners. And we wonder why the world is going downhill so fast. *facepalm*. 

Also, I repeat my earlier statement. There is nothing wrong with being a person that others want to be kind to. 

If you are a nice, decent human, other people will treat you nice and decently back. It's the natural way of things. Happiness and goodness spreads around. And none of it has anything to do with weakness. 

Still, some people get totally offended at door opening and package carrying. But really, if you actually want people to stop being nice to each other, you have serious problems. 

There are other considerations, too. Sometimes, it might be that a guy actually likes you. It happens, occasionally. A guy will have a crush on you. Presumably this is before he discovers that you are a vituperative grinch. But whatever the case, if a guy shows that he likes you by doing nice things for you, this would be considered a good thing.

(Unless you prefer the club toting 'Me want you for wife' types. That's up to you.)

But really, the only type of men worth having are the types that will be loving in a relationship. Love, by nature and definition, includes acts of kindness. 

And another thing, say thank you, and shut up. 

It Does. Not. Matter. If you asked for the guy to help you or not. When someone does something nice for you, it is common courtesy to say thank you. Even when it was unexpected, and unasked for. 

In fact, it's rather more important when it's unexpected. Asking someone to carry your suitcase for you sort of negates the "random acts of kindness" aspect of it all. But when they do it just out of sheer nice-ness... get over your stubborn, prideful self and just say thanks. 

 Not that you can't ask, when you need help. It's fine. And still say thanks. But it's an important part of love and humanity to do nice things, even when you aren't asked. 

I was reading a blog post on the subject. This is the end of it.

"Holding doors open isn’t something you need to do just for women. It’s an act of common courtesy that you can show to any person whether they be man or woman. If you get to the door first before a dude, holding the door open for him is completely fine.

"A gentleman should always hold the door open for someone who is more physically burdened than him. If you see an older person, a person with an obvious physical aliment, or a person holding a crap load of packages, hold the door open for them no matter if they’re a man or a woman.

"And if someone opens a door for you, always smile and say, “Thank you!”"

Yes. It is the truth.

On Being Human

I found this picture on the same blog post. The caption of it was "Relationships: They're about natural reciprocity, not tit-for-tat score keeping."

Amen, brother. Amen.

This is his section discussing the matter. I think he covers it pretty well.

"Before we get to the ins and outs of door opening, let us take a moment to discuss its place in modern society, because not everyone feels its a tradition worth preserving. There are some women who are offended by it because they think it implies the inferior status of women–that women are too weak to open doors for themselves.

"Kate thinks that if you’re dating a woman who takes umbrage at having the door opened for her, that’s a red flag, because it signals that she does not understand that a woman can be smart and independent while still being playful about gender roles. I can’t really speak to that, so I’ll let the ladies duke it out.

"Then there are men who think you shouldn’t do things like open doors for women because if women want to be fully independent and equal these days, then they need to give up being treated with any special consideration.

"To me this is an entirely wrong-headed approach to relationships, because it’s premised on the idea that everything must be tit for tat. Yes, you open doors for a woman, but your woman probably does special things for you. If she doesn’t, then that’s the problem, not chivalry itself. It’s madness to think that equality must mean doing the exact same things for each other and constantly keeping score."

This is so true. It isn't that we should stop showing consideration. It's that we should be considerate to everyone.

This also reminds me of something that we learned a lot about in my education classes.

Equal doesn't mean fair.

In the context of education, that means that every child needs different things to help them learn. Some kids are better at math. Others are better at art. The ones who are good at math don't need the same math help as the ones who suck at it. It's not fair if we give very exact time allotments, and use the exact same words and teaching methods on every single child.

I feel like it's the same with life in general. Equal doesn't always mean equal. You can be balanced without being eye for an eye. Everyone needs different things, and everyone can give different things. That's what makes life interesting.

In the words of an occasionally very wise co-worker:

"It's not because I'm less than a man. It's because I'm not a man."

Well said.

And in conclusion, this picture:


Clearly, this is funny, not serious. So if you're an uber-feminist, don't get your knickers in a twist. It's a joke. But a cute one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Etsy - Marketing Tips

This is another hard one, because some of it just comes down to having a good sense of things. You can't teach that. But I'll try to help.

Today we are going to talk about the actual Etsy listings. Specifically, the pictures and the text.

(Sorry about the weird hugeness of this picture. I wanted you to be able to see it well.)


Pictures

The main picture is the most important. It's the one that shows up as the thumbnail when you're searching, and it's the very first impression that anyone will get of your product. It should look good in both thumbnail and large size. It should also be well taken. (More later.)

The side pictures, while not as critical, are still important. Don't just load one or two. Use all five slots every time. People are buying this online. They won't make the purchase unless they're convinced by the listing that it's something they'll like when they handle it in real life. The best way to do that is to give as many pictures as possible. 

The hardest part about a post on pictures is teaching what's good and what's not. If you don't know anything about photography, you won't notice little things that make all the difference to someone else. 

I'm certainly no expert, but I've lived with several photographers in my various apartments. So I consider myself a professional amateur. In other words, I have no idea what I'm doing in terms of real art. I couldn't even take someone's bridal pics without making a mess of it. 

BUT

I do know just enough to give me an edge when we're talking about regular every day people. 

I'm going to give some good examples and some bad examples. I'll try to explain them a little, but I'm afraid a lot of this will be up to you, since it's mainly a visual thing.

2 Disclaimers:

- These are my pics, but I usually delete the worst of the worst, so I don't have any really excellent personal examples of terrible things. We're going to have to make due with semi-terrible examples. 

- This isn't a "how to make professional pictures" course. Remember that cool black backgrounded hallows pic from yesterday? Yeah, that's not what we're doing. My point is to give a few tips to people who don't have a studio and a 500 dollar camera. So every time I say "good" I mean perfectly decent for the average person.

Good. Reasons: It looks good as a thumbnail, the colors are bright but natural, and it very clearly shows exactly what the purchaser will get.
Bad. Reason: weird shadows. People very frequently forget to check for weird shadows. 
Good. Reasons: Framing. (Mostly. Admittedly it isn't perfect, but it's pretty good.) All of the things in this picture are cut off at some point, but they're in it at angles and in positions that make it look nice instead of "whoops, I zoomed in too far."
Bad. Reasons: All sorts of washed out. The flash was too close, so it smothered everything with bright light. You can't see any of the details because it's just too... whited out. 
Bad. Reason: Blurry. Yes, it's only very slightly blurry. You can't even really tell when the picture is small. So no biggie, right? Most people won't notice it. Well, they won't ... not outright anyway. But they will notice that something seems weird. It's hard to look at it. People don't like to buy things from blurry pictures. It turns them off and doesn't give your work a chance to shine. Blurry pictures are the worst kind. And slightly blurry pictures are the biggest problem within that category.


Bad. Reason: Too dark. When there's not enough lighting, it's just as bad as when the flash washes it out. You can't see the details and the colors the way they need to be. 
Good. Reason: Because interesting things are going on. It's not just a straight shot of the bookmark on a boring solid background. It's being shown in use, with other related objects around it to set a scene. 

Well, I think that's the best we can do with the pictures. I hope it helped a little.

Text

This text part is going to be much easier. I only have a few tips here which I think will cover everything important. 

First, the title. 

It has to be descriptive enough to interest people, but short, sweet, and easy enough to be quickly taken in. 

12 3/4" Bellatrix Lestrange Wand

That is a good title. Tells you exactly what you get without verbosity. Or

12" Harry Potter Wand - Leather Grip

Again, gives us an idea and showcases one of the interesting features, but doesn't over-do it. 

What would be a bad title?

Gorgeous wand of approximately 12 inches in the style of that used by Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies

This is a real one that I just got off of etsy at random:

Love Bracelet : Dear Diary... Original Silver Handwritten Cursive Wire LOVE Bracelet with Brown Cotton Cord, Adjustable Closure, Crimp Beads



Bad, bad, bad. Why? 

A) Too dang long. People don't want to have to wade through bad prose or lengthy discourses just to see what objects are for sale. (With the one I snatched from etsy, I had to try three times just to read it all the way through. I kept wandering off.) 

The title is not the place for tag lines, witty hooks, or sealing the deal on the purchase. They just have to catch your eye (quickly and easily) and spark your interest.

B) Again with the search engines. People aren't going to type gorgeous wand into the box. The more clear and specific you are, the better the chance that their keywords will catch your product. 

These are common problems with the description as well. 

Now, I have read a few blogs and etsy help pages that tell you to flower it up in your item description. After all, it is a sales pitch. This is where you want to give all the information that a person will need to decide whether to buy your product. 

But honestly, I'm gonna go with a 'don't do it' on this one. Just don't. When you get all prosey, it makes you sound like those radio commercials for Kay Jewellers or something. And no one listens to those. It also makes you sound pretentious. 

(Real from etsy) Example:

Deep deep red and beautifully faceted quartz gemstones
sit on matte silver rings and hang from sterling silver hoops. The 
gemstones measure 12 x 13 mm and have a timeless appeal to them 
and make a perfect Valentine's Day gift......

A) She needed to back off on her ellipses a little. Also the run-on sentence.

B) When I am considering buying something, I just want to know what it is, how big it is, what it's made of, etc. It's harder to find that stuff when it's encased in timeless appeals and beautiful facets. If the facets really are beautiful, I can tell from the picture. You don't need to remind me, in case I forgot in the 3 seconds since I was just looking at it. 

I personally do a list with a short catch line. (See picture above.)

Yeah, I know. It's not very artsy. But it gets all the information there in an easy list, and allows people more time to look at the pictures, and less time deciphering what I mean by deep deep red. (As opposed to just deep red, which is different apparently). 

Having a list instead of prose will not lose you any sales. Most people won't decide not to buy your product based solely on the lack of fancy wording. However, having unintelligible prose might actually drive customers away. They won't buy what they can't understand. 

Well, that's all I've got for now. If anyone has any more etsy questions, feel free to ask. (I can't guarantee that I'll know the answer, but you certainly are welcome to ask anyway.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Etsy - Product

In this post we're going to talk a little about two things: Quality and Pricing.

Quality:

Not everyone is cut out to sell their craft experiments. Unfortunately, these people often try to anyway. Let's start out with some show and tell. These are real products from etsy. (Yes, one is mine, but the rest are not.)


Actually quite cool.













The Worst. Ever. I don't even know what to say about this.










Nice. Decent. (I admit, this is the one that's mine. Yes, I'm using it as the good example.)






Heinous. And really, really tiny. What the heck are you supposed to do with a 1 inch wand and a resurrection stone the size of a fingernail?





No, I'm sorry, but this is not Johnny Depp.

Also, I'm pretty sure his eyes actually line up with each other. I will not pay 135$ for a portrait of Quasi Modo.












Neither is this.

I mean, if we were going for abstract or surrealist or something, this would be great. But selling this as Johnny Depp? Just... No.





This... This is what Johnny looks like. This is good. This I would buy. (If I wasn't broke.) It's like 1/3 of the price of the others, too.











Are you getting the idea?

It's hard. There's not really I lot I can say about quality. How do you tell someone to only make quality things without just saying "only make quality things"? Anyway, quality is one of those things that is really obvious in other people's stuff, and hardly ever in our own.

Just make sure you're not selling lame crap and pretending it's good. Be hard on yourself. I'm my own worst critic, but I think that's what makes me produce marketable stuff.


Price:


We're going to start with a photo example on this one too, but there will actually be words following it.

This is $4.99, but actually very nice looking.

(I'm going to refer back to this one tomorrow when I talk about pictures.)






This is $210

Which would you get?







And these, I just had to add because of their what-the-heck factor:

$157? Maybe it's supposed to be high art of some kind?













And this is only $8, but why is it even real? Why? (I'm coming back to this one later.)






Pricing products for etsy is really hard to do. You have make it cost enough to cover your expenses and make it worth your time. But you also have to make it cheap enough that people will consider getting it.

The first two
are examples of how price can affect your choice of product. This seems kind of obvious and common sensical, but hear me out.

When I see the 210 dollar hallows sign I say "Cool. Dang, it's $210. Oh well." (And sometimes I go on to wonder how it could possibly cost that much to make such a little thing in the first place.)

But when I see the 4.99 one (or honestly, any of the nice looking ones under 20$) I actually stop and think "I could get that. Should I get that? No, I shouldn't. But I want to. I could. Maybe if I... No, I shouldn't. But I want to..."

That's what you want people to do. If the price fits the product just right, you'll drag people in. And people who have a little more money and a little less self control won't even get that far. They'll just hit buy, pay for it, and think later.

Humans are total suckers for good price deals. Make something a bargain, and they can't resist, even if they know they don't need it.

The second two
pictures demonstrate this: know your product.

I saw a shawl the other say that was selling for 1,250 U.S. dollars. Yes, I know that knitting isn't easy. It's time consuming, and it's detailed work. But no one, and I really mean no one, should ever have to pay a thousand dollars for a woolen shawl. And there aren't a lot of people who are going to.

Shawls are not big buck items.

For some reason, people will really shell out for paintings, but they have to actually be good. They are big buck items.

Charm bracelets are not.

Photographs are. (Again, only if they're good.)

Hairbows are not.

Keychains are not.

Quality jewelry is.

Plush toys are not.

That ugly 1 inch wand and resurrection stone (sliver, more like)... girl was asking 49.95 for it. Honest. You can look it up. Will anyone ever pay it? Maybe when those flying pigs advance into space travel.

It's the hard truth. But even if you spend forty agonizing hours on your harry potter wand (which, lets really hope you didn't), and plan on charging minimum wage, people just aren't going to buy it for 300 dollars. They just aren't.

This is where that heinous deathly hallows sign comes back in. There are other hallows signs that are nice, made of metal, are obviously well crafted. People would gladly pay 8 dollars for them. But that one? Cheap, fragile, and downright ugly. Not worth 8 dollars even if you threw in free shipping.

Be smart about it. If you want to sell, you have to be reasonable in your pricing. It might hurt a little, when you think of hours spent, effort expended, the care and the hard work that you put in. And by all means, do not cheat yourself. If  raw materials cost you 10 bucks, never charge less than 10 bucks.

But the rich and famous don't shop on etsy. Mike Tyson isn't here to spend a ten billion dollar paycheck on some bling.

Like I said, choosing the right price is hard to do. Especially for artists. We have some kind of inner need to price our stuff like it was in a museum and not an online trinket store. But don't do it.

Make it cost enough to cover your expenses. Give yourself a decent profit margin. And stop while you're ahead.



That is all for today. I have one more coming tomorrow. Tune in for some marketing tips, including photography and wording.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Etsy - Platform

The first thing you need when you want to start an etsy shop is a good platform. It needs to be specific and unique. After all, you're competing against about a zillion other crafty people out there who all think that they have something worth buying. What is it about your stuff that makes it stand out?


Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I selling?
  • Who will buy it?
  • Why will they buy it?


My Shop:

My shop is successful. I define success loosely, of course. I don't make millions, and will never be an independent corporation. But in my case it means that 44 people from 6 different countries have bought and loved what I sell. Some of them come back for more. When I post items, people buy them. I turn a profit, even if it's not on a large scale.

What am I selling?

Harry Potter Wands, and occasional other nerdy paraphernalia. But mainly wands. This is an important aspect to note. A shop that has a motley collection of everything is going to have a harder time selling things.

There are a lot of reasons for this. One of them is Skill. Practice one thing, and you get good at it. You learn and grow and become able to really excel.

Another is reputation. If you get good at something, people will come back for more. But if you just tinker in any random thing, without any sort of logical connection, you're forgettable.

A third reason is the search engine. This is an online business. People browse by keyword. If they want to look at wands, and I only have one wand amongst a million other things, they might not even see it. But if they do, they probably won't stay. I don't want to look through 45 hair bows and 16 combs just to get to a deathly hallows symbol. 

Specific. Focused. That will get you started.

Who Will Buy It?

My target audience is nerds, obviously. But that isn't quite good enough. There is a whole wide internet world of nerdy goods that are ready for the buying. I need to narrow my focus.

So my target audience, specifically, is young nerds. College students who don't have money to buy 100$ wands. Teens who live on babysitting money. Moms who wouldn't dream of handing a fancy schmancy 75$ stick of wood to their 6-year-old.

Again, specific and focused.

Why Will They Buy It?

This is the crux of the platform. What is it about your product that will make it different from all of the other choices out there? Why should someone pick yours?

My unique catch is really about the money. It's easy to find wands online, but it isn't easy to find nice ones that cost less than 50$. Trust me, I looked. In fact, looking is what got me into making wands in the first place. I said to myself "That much? Are you kidding me? Jeez, I could make it myself for less than that... hey! That's an idea."

Wands everywhere, even on etsy, are either nice but exorbitantly priced, or crap (and sometimes still exorbitantly priced.) That's where I come in. I make wands that look good.


(Not to toot my own horn, but they do.)

And I don't charge through the nose for them.

Yes, I could ask for more. The hours I put into them certainly justifies that. But I wouldn't sell so many if I did. Broke nerds deserve just as much of a chance to be ridiculous as rich nerds. And 6-year-olds shouldn't be stuck with ugly plastic junk, just because people are more concerned with money than fun.

At any rate, it does NOT cost 70 bucks to make those wands. Most of those people do it on a lathe, too. Plug in the machine, hold a knife to the wood, and bam, suddenly the 2$ stick becomes a precious gem. Whatever.

Anyway, that's my main selling point. That's what keeps people coming back. That's what makes them choose me instead of someone else.

What is your platform?

Coming tomorrow: Product, a discussion on quality and pricing. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Etsy - Intro

First, buy things from my etsy shop. It's cool. Link is that way => and down a little.

Second, some people want to know more about etsy, and advice on getting started and making it work. So I'm going to do two or three posts on things worth knowing. Stay tuned.



My latest creation, the 16 inch Hagrid wand.






Disclaimer: I'm not a budding millionaire. Neither am I the paragon of Etsy success. But I think I've learned enough and been successful enough in the past year to help someone get started with a decent chance of making it worthwhile.

McNuggets or Jack the Ripper?

I just saw this pic on Facebook.





I don't listen to the radio, so I haven't heard any of these commercials, but if this is true, then Micky D's just lost any semblance of respect I had for them. (Which honestly wasn't much to begin with. The only thing that's good there is their breakfast.)

A) Pit bulls are only psychotic man-killers when their owners raise them to be that way. I actually had a really sweet one follow me around an entire neighborhood once, just wanting to play with us. And I'm not usually a fan of being followed by strange dogs. But he was cute and nice.

B) Even if all pit bulls were insane monsters, it's not good marketing. Are they really that uncertain about the safety of their food?

It's like saying "Eating our nuggets is safer than getting pursued by Jack the Ripper." It really ought to be a given, so if you're having to advertise it just to make sure... well, no more mcnuggets for me.