Friday, March 20, 2015

Thinking Spring

My bud Wendy at PureDichotomy made this treasury and put me in it. I thought it was pretty gorgeous, so I decided to share.

Go visit the link and check out those amazing shops. They're all on the Chatty Metalsmiths team.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chatty Metalsmiths February Chain Challenge

I am on an Etsy team called the Chatty Metalsmiths - and that's what we are. We love to chat and hang out and talk about metal and kids (or not) and all kinds of awesome and fun things I love this group - I have learned a ton from them, even when I'm not actively participating in a discussion. If I ever have a question, I can go to them and pester the crud out of them until I'm satisfied I'm doing something right.

Every so often, we have a technique challenge, and this past January, we decided to do a chain challenge. What you see below is what these awesome metalsmiths produced.

Collage #1 - clockwise from top left:  CG Whitfield; khmetalworks, SilverBlueberry; PPennee; heartsabustin; PureDichotomy

Collage #2 - clockwise from top left - SilverCedarJewelry, UntwistedSister, lsueszabo, Prox, Catie, Shannon Rochon

Collage #3 -  spindlecat; UntwistedSisterChrissiLynnDesigns; lsueszabo, SilverBlueberry

Please follow some links and give these fantastic human beings some love. This is simply the coolest team ever.

I mean, obviously. :D

Leave a comment and tell me which piece is YOUR favorite! Also, check us out on Facebook and see our past challenges on Flickr, and our regular Flickr page for our other uploads.

Friday, March 13, 2015

When Life Gives You Hands ....

I LOVE this - I saw it on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and I found the blog it's associated with. Handmade is a vital part of who I am, and I know it's a vital part of a lot of you, too. If it wasn't, you wouldn't be here now.

Now, on to what prompted this blog post.

I was at church on Wednesday, 'cause I'm a party animal like that on Wednesday nights. :D We have a food and fellowship time every other Wednesday night. I was talking about this particular image with a small group, and one of the guys gives The Stare.

You know which one I'm talking about.

He didn't get it. He didn't even really TRY to get it, and nothing frustrates a handmaker more than someone who simply DOES NOT get it.

We pour our hearts and souls into what we do. I have personally shed blood, sweat, and tears over my shops - I know you have, too. I mean, who hasn't run a needle through their finger, jammed a fresh cut wire end under their nail, or cried in frustration because we sewed that seam wrong AGAIN??

There will always be people who don't get it. My husband is really pretty supportive of what I do, but sometimes he doesn't even understand the want, the drive, the utter compulsion to make pretty things. I'd rather create than clean. I'd rather get my nails so nasty, grimy, dirty that they're disgusting polishing up new silver pretties than I had to swab toilets, wash dishes, or mop floors. Who's with me? Yeah, I see those hands raised.

This is a WalMart world, people - even Etsy is heading in that direction. Those of us who still believe in handmade because it's not just WHAT we do, it's WHO we are - we're the ones who GET that saying up there. Because when life gives you hands, MAKE HANDMADE.

Have you had an experience like this? Share! I want to hear them - no matter how crazy, silly or frustrating they are.

Monday, March 9, 2015

I'm a Mom

Someone asked me to write this post, so here goes.

I'm a mom.

I have three kids - ages 11, almost 10, and 10.5 months old. The littlest will be one two days after the middle one turns 10. I have an awesome, crazy, smart bunch of kids. They drive me insane. My dad always joked that insanity is hereditary, that you get it from your kids. He was right.

In addition to three kids (four, if you count the hubs), I also have a house that sort of gets cleaned when I just can't stand it anymore. I have a cat. I have gardens that I try very hard to remember need some occasional TLC and plants actually put in them.

I also have two Etsy shops. I used to have three.

How do I do it? A lot of creative use of my time and not one, but TWO slow cookers. The slow cooker is my very best friend. I can put food in it, keep a minimal eye on it, and dinner is ready whenever the hubs comes home. Then, while Thing 3 is napping and Things 1 and 2 are at school, I can work. That's when I get the most done - in the morning while the baby is napping. I make phone calls, I order supplies, I make actual stuff to put in my shops.

Seriously, it's all about using your time wisely. If I've got ten or fifteen minutes and something can be done in that time frame, I do it. I might ball wire for handmade headpins. I may make some ear wires. I have my processing times in both shops set to 3 - 5 business days. If I can process several orders at once, I find that to be a better use of my time, so I may let soap and lotion orders sit for a day or two to see how many I have come in. I do take time off on weekends if I'm not incredibly busy, because I do have a life away from Etsy.

Sick, I know, right?

Really, that's all there is to it. When we first found out about Thing 3, I really worried I would never be able to do anything ever again. I find if I just do what I can, when I can, I get a lot more done than I ever thought possible.

Friday, March 6, 2015

There is no "Team" in "I"

Do you have a team? I don't mean the teams on Etsy where we get together to chat or promote or ask questions. When you make an item, do you make it yourself - the whole enchilada from start to finish? I do. You probably do, too, if you're reading this. I want to remind you that while some companies say there is no "I" in "TEAM", in our world, there is no "TEAM" in "I".

I made this.

I created this.

I sewed it, fabricated it, put it together with my own two hands, in between homework and screaming babies and fixing supper and doing laundry and prepping for Sunday School and.. and ... and...

Sound familiar?

There is no "TEAM" in "I" when it comes to real handmade items. Oh, you may have your sister help package items, especially at Christmas because you'll go insane if you don't have some help. But do you really trust anyone else to create your precious items? Those beautiful, one-of-a-kind, made from the heart and soul items that you love so much? Probably not.

Just remember, the next time Etsy does something you don't agree with, you don't have to. Agree with them, I mean. Etsy may host your shop, but they don't own your heart and soul. And people who want cheap, made in THAT country junk aren't really into handmade, anyway.

There is no "TEAM" in "I".

Support true handmade.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Repost of my Letter to Etsy

I  posted this yesterday and deleted it this morning. I was seriously afraid that Etsy might take action against me for posting this on my blog. Another seller pointed out that I removed all the truly private information - my sales data, the guy's name who sent the response - and that I have every right to post about my experience with "Etsy Support". So thank you to Hayley at PaintboxSoapworks for reminding me that I'm a pretty kick butt human being, and for being one herself. :D

I want to start by saying that I have poured my heart and soul into my Etsy shops. I've been here since 2006, I've got three shops - heartsabustin, SouthernTwistedBags, and SouthernTwistedSoaps. I'm going to use this shop as my primary example, because it's got the best sales stats to use. 
My sales are terrible this year. I'm down nearly $5000 in revenue, and most of that has occurred over the last three or four months, since the changes to the site were made. It isn't just me - I've seen people who have been major sellers here, previous Featured Sellers, QYDJ features, hundreds of good sellers - say that this has been the worst holiday selling season they've ever experienced. My tags and titles are fine - I've tweaked and changed them until I'm sick of it. 
I wanted to share some stats from the last three years of my sales to show what's going on.

{I deleted my sales numbers for privacy}

I'm currently running Promoted Ads. I'm in an off-Etsy online magazine gift guide. I use social media, I renew listings, I've tweaked tags and titles, I'm right this very minute on the Trending page. I'm down at the bottom, but I'm there. I am so scared and sad and frustrated - I love my shop, I have the best time connecting with customers and other sellers. The downturn I saw started back in September, when the new FP and search changes were implemented, and I've never been able to recover from those changes. If you guys aren't going to go back to the old FP, then the search algorithm needs to be fixed. It should have been fixed three months ago when we all started telling you guys that it wasn't working. 
Please, PLEASE, help us. There are many of us that do not want to leave, but we feel may have no choice. 

This is their canned response to me:

Hi Erin,
Thanks for reaching out to Etsy Support. I'm sorry to hear you're feeling sad and frustrated and I hope I can address some of those concerns. I can tell your quite astute with viewing your shop stats, and looking at your stats I understand your concerns. Last year appears to have been a very successful year for your shop and it's hard when those types of numbers can't be reproduced year after year. While we hope the success of your shop is always on the incline, it's the nature of business to have some peaks and valleys and unfortunately it can not always be controlled. 
As you mentioned, many sellers have reported of a recent downturn in their sales for November, and even if you’re doing everything right, there may be larger market dynamics at work here. This can be resulting from certain factors that are hard to quantify, such as seasonal shopping trends, economic conditions, etc. You may be feeling the impact of the surge of new sellers that have joined Etsy; the bath and beauty section is one area that has increased dramatically with new listings and internal competition for views has become stronger.
You mentioned that this downturn started happening with the introduction of the new Etsy Homepage. This was rolled out around October 7th, and looking at your stats for the full year leading up to that date I see:

{I removed the sales data for privacy reasons}

It appears your views and sales have not been on trend all year when we compare them to your standout year of 2013. These number reflect the same performance that we see in the stats provided for the past few months with no extreme variation. So I don't think there's been a correlation with your sales being affected negatively by the new Etsy Homepage.
We made this change in the best interest of our sellers. Our goal is to deliver more sales to more sellers overall, as well as to show buyers items that they may be interested in. When the homepage showed a featured treasury, we were limited to showing off only those sellers' items. With the new homepage, we can display thousands more items from sellers both small and large.
You mentioned the search engine needing to be fixed but I want to reassure you that it was never broken. There was the case of clumping which is what I think you are referring to, and we did address that there were some concerns about the lack of diversity in the search results. Our search engine continues to be functioning properly, and any clumping issues still occurring are being closely monitored and rectified.
I tried a search for "body lotion" and found one of your items on each of the first 3 pages which is very good placement considering there are 22,717 items. I've attached a few screenshots for your reference.
Taking a look at your shop your photos are very professional and your products are represented well. I know it can be tedious hearing about your titles and tags but I encourage you to keep reviewing your Shop Stats to see which words are leading the most buyers to your items. Replace any words that aren't working so well. If you haven't yet, you may also want to use our Shop Stats Study Guide as a resource for comparing the activity you've seen previously for your shop and see if there are any changes you can make for current buyer
I see you have a Facebook page but it's not connected to your account. If you connect your Facebook Page to your Etsy shop, viewers will be able to Like and follow your Facebook Page directly on your Etsy shop. You'll also see the option to post new listings directly to your Facebook Page. 

Go to Your Shop > Shop Settings > Info & Appearance and select "Connect with Facebook."
I see you've gotten great reviews so you might focus your efforts on buyer retention and gaining more brand loyalty with your buyers. You may even want to consider offering a discount or coupon to your followers to try and drive more traffic to your shop. This article explains how to start a Facebook marketing campaign:
I hope you remain optimistic about your standing on Etsy. Please know that we're pulling for you all the way and will always be here to answer your questions and concerns.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Jewelry

New Jewelry in heartsabustin

I've been a busy bee at the workbench lately - must have something to do with a slower than usual holiday season. That's all right - I LOVE to beat on metal!


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