The last week or so, I've done a lot of general maintenance on my business, and rather than spam you all with continual updates, I thought I would just do one general update. Indeed, I like the idea of a "State of the Store" report, not as a weekly perhaps, but as an occasional post for when things have changed. Like now! Cause a LOT has changed!
For starters, after a fair amount of debate over what a banner should look like, Curiously Crafted Creations has a banner that I don't hate. I may change it in the future, but I think that it's important for an etsy store to have banner - I don't know, I just think it gets the page off on the right foot.
I also ordered business cards:
To celebrate this achievement, I bought a business card case that I've wanted ever since I saw it in 2008 - it's from the Met, and shows a Tiffany pattern:
I re-listed all of the cards that I had previously listed (they don't sell too well). This was a big debate for me. I mean, if I just keep sinking money in to this, it will demolish any chance that I'll make a profit. On the other hand, if my work isn't out there, obviously it's never going to sell. Thus, I decided to just go for it. In the end it's a difference of only a few dollars. Thus, there were a decent collection of photos up (four sold yesterday, unusually enough! :) ) going in to today. I augmented this today by listing the first batch of cards suitable for use as Christmas cards. I knew I had to get these up ASAP if they were to be of any use as a pre-Christmas item to sell. So if you have any interest in Christmas cards, you should wander over and see what's up! I also created a "deal" - a "buy any 5 cards" option that shaves 15 cents off the price of each card (5 for $8 instead of 1 for $1.75). I'm planning to put a "10 for $15" deal up as well.
Speaking of a few dollars, I'm in the green again! I spotted a really good deal for printing a pile of photographs - 365 prints - for free if I spent $10. Of course, that was before shipping, so when all was said and done I spent almost $40, which more than ate up my old small profit margin. But the initial Christmas card commission (which I've now finished and shipped), an unexpected large purchase by a friend, and an unexpected commission for an amigurumi pattern (my first ever commission from a stranger!) has put me more solidly in the green than I've ever been. Which isn't saying much, we're still talking about a profit of less than $100, but I'll take it - it's better than having taken a loss! :) I'd have a larger profit if I was prepared to stop trying on the card front, but I'm not ready to do that. I KNOW I take nice photographs, and do good work, and I really do believe that if I keep at it, I can get somewhere selling them. :)
Meanwhile, the deal gave me a chance to conduct another experiment I've wanted to do for a while.
Cards are obviously not the only way of selling photography! However, I've been reluctant to offer the option for larger prints without running a test. Since I had to spend $10 anyway, I decided to pick out a photograph (one of my personal favorites) to print at a 16 x 20 size. It was $15 + shipping, a total of just under $20. It turned out both better and worse than I expected. It turned out better in that the image is nice and clear and crisp, and looks pretty much just like the original. Details that were not visible on a smaller medium, like the veins in the petals, are VERY clear. It turned out worse in that it showed every little imperfection. Two examples - neither visible in the photo above - are that there's a little black speck on one of the petals that is shockingly noticeable, I don't I'd ever have spotted it on the original if I wasn't looking for it, and the other is that it turns out the steeples (or whatever they're called) are a little out of focus, another thing I never would have noticed but is pretty easy to spot on the full size poster. So clearly if I'm going to do large prints I need to VERY carefully examine the original picture, and spend some time removing teeny imperfections like the black speck.
On Friday, I finished my experiment with pattern testing. I've been a member of the Free Pattern Testing group on Ravelry for a while, but always as a lurker. A couple weeks ago, I carefully reviewed all of their FAQs, rules, and policies, and I went for it, testing the Blub Blub pattern. I sought 5 testers, and provided them with the pattern, and awaited their feedback. I'm very glad I did this. It's proved a very beneficial experience. It firmly established that I wasn't actually criminally negligent when I didn't test any of my previous patterns - my testers didn't find a single error in my actual description of the doll, and agreed that my directions were very clear. What was lacking - and what I added - were some generalizations that helped the maker to figure out things that were slightly confusion. This was solved by the addition of a "tips" section, and a few other odds and ends (like page numbers!) and the result is that the Blub Blub pattern went live yesterday on Etsy and Ravelry. It's a lot of "firsts" wrapped in one - my first tested pattern, the first pattern with higher quality pics thanks to my "light box," and my first pattern released with a pattern. Then, just to top things off, I put Santana Squid up for testing, should be done in a couple of weeks. :)
I also listed both of the previously made Blub Blub dolls for sale. These are the first completed amigurumi I've ever actually listed on etsy - all the others I've sold were either commissions to begin with, or I get specific requests for them. No idea if this will work, but if it does, that'd be nice. :)
Hmm...what else? That might actually be it. And it's plenty! Lots going on - a commission and two gifts to make - listing things for sale - working away - and generally thinking about what I want out of this business and how I want to go about succeeding. Not bad for a few weeks work!