gets a makeover

You know what they say about the cobbler’s children and their shoes? Well, I am the cobbler, and my websites are my children, and it’s been a while since they’ve had new shoes. I can’t remember the last time I designed a theme for my site that wasn’t a work project.

Speaking of work, my team is talking about small businesses, interviewing owners and figuring out what makes them tick. This also involves keeping an eye on our competition, and as a long-time Etsy seller, I already have a foot in that space.

It turns out that Etsy offers a free trial of their website builder, Pattern, so I decided to try it out in the name of research, and in hopes I’d come out of it with a decent website, too.

The result:

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.22.56 PM

What I liked

I’m impressed with how fast I was able to set up a site; with a few clicks, the whole thing was ready to go (not including the time I spent fussing over themes, colors, and fonts). I had the option to wait to publish it until it felt finished, but being me, I charged ahead and hooked up my domain name right away.

Now my existing audiences on both platforms can access the same products, and I don’t have to go through the process of re-creating 150+ listings with WooCommerce or Shopify. That’s a huge time-saver.

I’ve noticed a significant increase in traffic to my Etsy shop by way of the original domain name, which tells me combining the site and the shop was a good move. It’s too soon to tell if that uptick will result in sales, but anecdotally, I’ve had a solid sales week, too.

What I didn’t like

The primary drawback for me is the look of the site; it’s very vanilla. There are few themes to choose from, they don’t support transparent PNGs (welcome back to the 90’s?), and I’m itching for custom CSS to tweak a few things.

The blog feature is also basic; no scheduling, few choices, I can’t import or export content, so I’m effectively starting from scratch.

Pattern is obviously not designed with power users in mind, but I recognize I’m spoiled by WordPress’ ability to customize everything down to the last pixel, and I’m probably picky about my site’s appearance. 😉 But for $15 per month, I’d expect to be able to do more with the site.

Worth it?

So far, I’ve sold enough to make up my first couple months’ fees. That said, I could see myself moving to a more robust solution in the future; something that gives me more control over my site’s appearance. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for leveraging my existing connection with Etsy.

I’m also in the process of updating the shop with new goodies from Printful, a print-on-demand drop-shipping company that interfaces with Etsy to produce t-shirts, posters, mugs, and more. Now folks can buy the kind of stuff I sell through Redbubble or Teepublic directly from Etsy.

I hope it helps widen my shop’s reach a bit!

friday favorites

I collect links the way some people collect magazine clippings for an inspiration board, and Google Reader allows me to star and share interesting tidbits I find as I’m reading. Here are some of my recent favorites:

  • A neat egg dyeing technique at IndieFixx – One of my favorite parts of Easter is dyeing eggs, and I can’t wait to share the tradition with Ellie (when she’s a little older, of course). Until then, I’m happy to try this on my own.
  • Creating the perfect iPhone app for your biz at Design Sponge – I’ve been working on a mobile Web project at the office, so I’m in an iPhone-ready mindset. This article has some very helpful information about the process.
  • Handmade Spaces: Jennifer Ladd at Modish – Loving these colors!
  • Not Martha’s vacation slides of her time in Paris – Chocolate. Chocolate?  CHOCOLATE!
  • Yummy pink at Poppytalk – I admit it. I have a love/hate relationship with pink. When I was four, my parents built an addition onto their house. When asked what color my new room should be, I (of course) answered, “PINK!” I spent the next 16 years sleeping within walls the color of bubblegum (and loudly complaining about it for the latter half of those years). I’m still drawn to all things pink, although now I’m a bit pickier about the shade!

Find these and more at my shared favorites on Google Reader!

tuesday favorites

I collect links the way some people collect magazine clippings for an inspiration board, and Google Reader allows me to star and share interesting tidbits I find as I’m reading. Here are some of my recent favorites:

Find these and more at my shared favorites on Google Reader!

friday favorites: a letter to santa

Dear Santa,

It’s that time again. Let’s scrap the small talk and get down to business: I think I’ve been a pretty good girl this year, all things considered. That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges, hardships, and the occasional swear word or two, but everyone around me is still alive and I’m not in jail or anything. I have to call that a win, wouldn’t you agree?

So when you’re loading up the sleigh and my name comes across your list, please forgive that one incident with the mixing spoon and the cat, and make sure you’re packing the following…

  • Carlino Cashmere Argyle SocksI already have three pairs of these cozy socks I bought at an L.L. Bean outlet in October, but I should have bought more. Before you say anything (Mom), yes, they’re expensive for socks, but entirely worth the cashola. My feet will thank you.
  • iPhone Magnets by Bear Duck DesignsI pointed these out in a previous edition of Friday Favorites, but I have to mention them again. As a Mac geek who does not (and will probably never) own an iPhone, these will console me.
  • Garden Bead Lover Necklace by Atlantic Art GlassI met Linda at an Ellsworth craft show a few weeks ago, and I immediately fell in love with her intricate glass bead necklaces. I don’t wear jewelry very often (it becomes a super-magnet for grabby baby fingers) but the detail in her work took my breath away.
  • Owl ornaments from Pink PerchSo cute! I want a whole set of them to hang on our Christmas tree.
  • A Sunspot Granny Square Afghan from Judy and Cheryl’s Craft BoutiqueI’m dreaming of a big cozy afghan to snuggle up under when it gets cold (if it ever gets cold… this “winter” has been deceptively mild for Maine so far).
  • Fabric wall decals by MaeI’ve been eying these since I first saw them months ago. They’re really more for the baby than me, but I think it would make decorating Ellie’s room so much easier!

There you go, Santa. Open that Etsy account and get cracking!

Much love,

friday favorites

I collect links the way some people collect magazine clippings for an inspiration board, and Google Reader allows me to star and share interesting tidbits I find as I’m reading. Here are some of my recent favorites:

Find these and more at my shared favorites on Google Reader!

friday favorites

I collect links the way some people collect magazine clippings for an inspiration board, and Google Reader allows me to star and share interesting tidbits I find as I’m reading. Here are some of my recent favorites:

Find these and more at my shared favorites on Google Reader!

a shop update and other things

i like my coffee blackHey look! A shop update! Yay!

I have some photos from the dollfood series that came back from a consignment contract… this means two good things for you: first, I have 8×12’s of most of the new photos on hand, so those prints will ship the next day (Sunday obviously being the exception, and this is assuming I don’t get a sudden influx of orders for the same prints–that would be nice, but has never happened, so!). And second, the prints cost less than they did on consignment! Yay!

I’m in the process of putting the series up right now, so go see!

Also, it appears I’ve been named ThisNext’s “Expert Maven” for all things handmade. I’m not sure why (I’ve been neglecting ThisNext recently, alongside most of my other regular Internet endeavors) but now I have to live up to my title, don’t I? And thanks to baby fever, I have a new excuse to window shop and recommend more handmade products!

New posts coming soon. I’m currently experiencing an unexplained revival of first trimester ickiness. Let’s hope it’s short-lived. 7 p.m. is a perfectly appropriate bedtime for an adult, yes? I thought so.

baby’s got a new pair of shoes–two, in fact

EtsyMaineTeam LogoTim’s birthday was on the 8th (happy 26th, hon!) and then I got a surge of custom orders, so I’ve been absent from blog-land for the last few days, and I don’t think it’s going to slow up any time soon! I was lucky enough to be featured in yet another edition of Etsy Finds (thanks, Anda!) and have since found my sales at Calobee Doodles a little overwhelming. But overwhelming in a good way!

Speaking of Etsy, I’m quite excited about the upcoming EtsyMaineTeam meet-up this weekend in Augusta! The last meeting was snowed out and rescheduled to a time when I couldn’t make it, so I’m eager to catch up and meet everyone.

Now, we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a dose of girl-talk, of the “OMG SHOES SQUEE” variety. Please forgive me in advance:

On Tuesday evening we took a trip to Target, where I found not one but two pairs of cute shoes. This is amazing, because I haven’t bought a pair of shoes in a retail store in years (save for the occasional $5 flip-flops, and my annual trip to the Saucony outlet for new sneaks on-the-cheap) because they never fit. My feet are very short and wide and tall–a shape that pretty much rules out anything that has a pointed toe, or even the slightest hint of a pointed toe… in other words, anything that isn’t designed to be worn by a duck. In fact, every pair of dress shoes I’ve ever owned (that would be 2 pairs, mind you) in my adult life came out of a “special” mail-order catalog for people with ridonkulously weird feet.

That’s right, folks, my feet are “special.” And now you know why I spend 99.9% of my time in sneakers.

But my new shoes? They’re cute. And when I say cute, I mean, adorably perfect in every. single. way. They’re comfortable and stylish, dressy enough for the office but casual enough for weekend wear. I bought two pairs–one in the ribbon style, one in black–because I’ll probably never find any shoes so perfect ever again. In fact, I recommended them on ThisNext long before I’d seen them in person, so it must be fate! The shoe gods are smiling upon me.

happy etsy-versary!

you belong to me(This girl and her smug little cat is in the shop at Calobee Doodles!)

I didn’t actually start selling until the 31st of March or so, but as of the 22nd I’ve officially been with Etsy for a year. And what a year it’s been! I went from feeling like I’d probably never sell my work to making 1-2 sales per week. That may be small potatoes for most, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me.

I also picked up “doodling,” which was both an excellent business move AND a lot of fun! It’s opened the doors to doing custom work, which I really enjoy, and it’s more relaxed and low-key in comparison to my photography.

All in all, I give the last year’s business adventures an “A.” There have been bugs here and there, but ultimately, opening an Etsy shop has been a very fulfilling, rewarding experience.

And now for the best part: in honor of my Etsy-versary, I’m having another contest! Yay!

Here’s the nitty gritty:

(Please note that comments are turned off at Vox and Livejournal, so you’ll need to comment at the address to qualify, and don’t forget to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win! This contest is open to U.S. and international readers alike!)

Good luck! 🙂

a material girl

current desktop It was a busy, productive weekend, which is exactly the kind of weekend I like best. I made these fabric thumbtacks, Tim and I spent some time in the kitchen making meals for the week (the fridge is packed full), I doodled a bit (see my pretty new desktop?), had dinner with Sarah and Ian, and hung out with Danielle.

One thing I didn’t do that I wanted to was set up another photo shoot, but that’s OK. Thankfully Danielle is in the area often, so it’s not hard to find a few hours here and there. The days are getting longer, too, which helps tremendously, because I can schedule shoots after work instead of restricting myself to weekends.

I also spent a bit of money, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid doing lately, especially where sales have been slower than usual… but I couldn’t resist a bit of retail therapy. In the spirit of NaBloPoMo, a list:

  • I loved the fabric thumbtacks so much that I bought a bunch of supplies to make more, along with some super-strong magnets so I can try those as well.
  • I won an eBay auction for 6 vintage cups and saucers with the same pattern I found on my favorite thrifted platters. Liz (Madeinlowell) pointed out that my platters are Temporama, which was a very popular dishware set in the 50’s. I did a search out of curiosity, and wound up bidding on a few auctions. I’m going to try to incorporate the cups into a photo shoot or two (at least then I can say they were a business expense!)
  • Also from the ‘Bay, a wireless remote flash trigger, so I can use my studio strobes with my camera. The Pentax K10D is inconvenient in one giant glaring aspect, and that is the lack of a PC socket for additional flash units. At some point I’d like to get a real hot shoe flash, but this trigger will work in the interim.

Also: Stay tuned for a contest! Someone’s Etsy anniversary is coming up…