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Learning about tweet styles – what works and what doesn’t January 11, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in social networking.
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A couple weeks ago, I started using my twitter account more often.  Partially because I have more things I feel I can post about right now and partially because I now have a phone that makes social networking a lot easier than it used to be.  This also started about the time I got our Etsy store up so our listings were another thing I could post about.  Since I was doing a lot of Etsy related research, I friended (followed?) two people who’s art I liked and looked like interesting successful Etsy sellers.  This way I could observe how the successful people were using twitter.

One was a person selling pendants made from broken plates, the other was another stained glass artist.  The first I chose because I liked her web site and she had a lot of information on the crafting communities.  The glass artist I chose because she had good sales numbers, her work was reasonably priced (not under-priced like most of it) and the quality of her work was high.  I’ve been following their tweets for a couple weeks now and here are my observations.

The broken plate chick tweets about everything.  Everything. I’m not sure how she gets anything done, but I’m positive her phone is welded to her hand.  Kid does something cute? Tweet pic.  Found something cool on the internet? Tweeted link.  Lunch with friends?  Tweet!  There is a lot of chaff to wade through, but she does post quite a few gems.  She is connected and active in the crafting community and there are a lot of good links.  And, of course, she tweets when she has new listings on Etsy.

The stained glass chick only tweets when she has new listings.  For her, it’s not a social tool that happens to work for marketing, it’s a marketing only tool.  I have learned nothing about her, her life, her crafting process, nothing.  Why would I want to buy something from you when I know nothing about you?  And she tweets deceptively.  Instead of saying “I have a new item up, go look!” she’ll tweet “I want this!” or “look at what I  found!” But instead of things that she wants, or links to something new that she found, the links all go to her own pieces.  I’ve stopped reading her tweets, they only made me angry.

The lessons learned so far are that I know I need to tweet more, but I don’t think I’ll ever get up to the broken plate chick’s level.  I know I will tweet when we have a new piece on Etsy, but I’ll be clear that I’m linking to our pieces.   Right now, the hard part is that I  don’t think in “tweets” yet, so a lot of tweetable moments go untweeted.

Next time I have a chunk of time to mess with social networking some more, I will probably un-friend the glass chick and go looking for some other people to follow for a while.  If you want to follow my infrequent tweets, I’m bigblued.  Let me know who you are on twitter so I can follow you too.

Sale at Pearl Art Supply January 10, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in resources.
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A link to this page is going around announcing a 50% off sale at select Pearl Art Supply stores.  Thought I’d pass it along.

4 Etsy Lessons, Learned from Doing it Wrong January 6, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in online sales.
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We’ve had our Etsy store up for a little over a month and had 3 sales.  Does that make me an Etsy Guru?  No, it does not.  Does that make me someone who has gone through the process and has made a bunch of mistakes?  Yes.  I am letting you know what I did wrong so you don’t have to.

1.  Use a Wimpy Title
Before I came to Etsy, I spent a lot of time on Deviant Art.   DA has an annoyingly short character limit on the titles of your pieces.  Subconsciously, I had been programmed to think in short names.  Etsy doesn’t have this problem.  I don’t know what the character limit is,  I haven’t run up against it yet.  As an experiment, I typed in the entire first stanza of The Raven and it took it.

The reason you want to use a longer, more descriptive name, is so that you have a better chance of it showing up in searches.  Both Google and the search tool in Etsy use your title as one of the things it looks at for searches.  I have a piece currently called Stained Glass Blimp.  I really need to go back and name it something like This Blue and Red Stained Glass Blimp Panel will Glow as it Flies Through Clear Skies! Unfortunately, I will still need to come up with something witty for the description.

2.  Don’t use all 5 of your photos
Have you ever seen something in a catalog and thought you’d really like to see what the back looks like before you buy it?  Well, people shopping on Etsy are no different.  When I created our Etsy shop I only had one good photo for each piece.  Specifically, the photo I had used to post the item on DA.  I did go back through all of the photos I took to find a few more to use, but it’s not the same as planning out your 5 views when you do your photo shoot.  In the next round of pieces I upload, I will have far more photos to choose from.  That is, once the sun finally comes back.  It’s a little hard to photograph stained glass when it’s been overcast for the last several weeks.

3.  Don’t use all 14 of your tags
Did you know there were 14 tags available?  I didn’t.  There is nothing in the listing process that tells you there are 14 slots at your disposal.  It was only after trial and error that I figured out how many there are.  Even then I didn’t understand why you’d need to use all 14.  But then I got lucky.  I had, as a whim, included the word peppermint as one of my tags in this piece.  Because of that, someone found it and included it in a Treasury they created with a peppermint theme.   You know all those cool collections on the front page of Etsy, the ones that are all themed and look nice together?  Those are selected from the Treasuries created by the users.  A connection was made in my head.

Use all 14 slots.  Use the names of colors, fancy names if  you can.  Like Pastel Mint instead of Green.  Use synonyms.  Is it a shirt?  Can you say blouse or top?  Even better, Ruffled Blouse or Elegant Top?   If you are stuck for more words, you can use your shop name for filler, in case someone remembers your shop name but not a specific product.

4.  Post all of your pieces all at once
I did this.  WindyCon had just finished and I decided to open a Etsy shop and get all the leftover pieces up before Christmas. I got the shop created and everything loaded in 6 days!  Yay!  Plenty of time for people to buy my stuff!  Except what I didn’t know was that each time you post a piece you get a little spike in traffic to your store.  Unfortunately, if you post a lot of pieces, you don’t get a corresponding big spike in traffic.  What I had was the initial spike from posting everything at once and then a big drop in traffic.  The real trick is to spread out the listings so you can have a running series of little boosts of people looking at your stuff.

More Reading
The 4 items listed above are mistakes that I personally made.  Maybe by reading this you will avoid making these mistakes yourself and make your own new and unique mistakes.  You will find a lot of good information on how to build and promote your shop at Etsy’s blog, the Storque.  This link will take you to their Seller’s Handbook.

If you have your own stories about setting up your Etsy shop to sell 3-D SF&F Art, I’d like to know about it!

Use My Coupon! January 1, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in resources.
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This link will take you to a coupon for 40% off (almost) anything at Michaels (1/3/2010-1/9/2010). I signed up for their promotional emails and they send me coupons. The catch is that the coupon has a code that makes it unique. I don’t know if they use it to limit the “one coupon per customer per day”  rule or if this coupon can be used only once.  Either way, I don’t foresee needing the coupon in the next week so I’m offering it up to you guys.  Let me know if you used it for supplies in one of your 3-D SF&F projects!

Product review – Montana Gold Spray Paint December 31, 2009

Posted by Deb Kosiba in Materials.
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Ok, maybe not so much a review as a gushing. I love Montana Gold and I’m going to tell you why.

At work we had been using whatever brands the designers happened to run across. Everything from your basic RustOleum or Krylon (of the two Krylon is better but harder to find) to short cans of Testors from hobby stores, to $1 cans of random brands picked up at Michaels.

Then one day one of our designers heard about Montana Cans brand spray paint. The first I had heard about it was the day I came in and the walls of the spray booth were covered in grafitti (there was paper on the walls). The designer had a rep from Montana Cans come in to do a demo of their product. The designer was was sold and so he started picking up their paint for his projects. Well, the stuff is so good that once I had a chance to use it I was sold too.

Some reasons why I love this spray paint

  • The paint goes down smooth and even, with no dripping. Almost like a sticky powder instead of a liquid paint.
  • It dries quickly and has no issues with multiple coats.
  • It is definitely a matte finish, the best you might get is a low gloss, so no fakey painted plastic look.
  • It is very hard to get buildup, which could be good or bad, depending on your usage.
  • It seems to stick to anything, I no longer scuff and prime when painting plastic parts.
  • And it doesn’t chip.

Colors!
Have I mentioned that their color selection is amazing? 182 colors, any subtle shade you might want. With Montana Gold, you are no longer stuck with the 8 most popular colors your hardware store decides to carry. They have a color chart on their web site, which is pretty close to reality, depending on your monitor. If you can pick out the colors in person, the color on the top of the can perfectly matches the color in the can.

One Problem
The only drawback I’ve noticed so far is if you need to do detail work with a small brush, you can’t do that thing where you unload some of the paint into a cup and then use it like a regular paint. It dries too fast and just gums up the paint brushes. I tried thinning it with various solvents but it curds up into unusable lumps. But seriously, that’s my only complaint.

To Cap It Off
When you buy your Montana Gold, you will need to consider spray caps. If you buy online they will often come with a “standard” cap which I believe is also called a “skinny cap beige”. It’s ok, but sometimes a little weak, depending on what you need. For broader coverage and heavier output, try out a “skinny cap 2” and a “fat cap pink” and see what works best for you. If you want to go wild, Montana has 17 different caps from “ultra skinny” to “ultra fat” and a “calligraphy” cap for filling large areas.

What does it cost?
Montana Gold is a little pricy, running around $8-$10 per can, and if you buy it online you will have to pay shipping on top of that. Yes, it’s a lot more than the generic stuff you can pick up at your big box home improvement store for $2.95, but it is totally worth it.

Obligatory Disclaimer
None of the links in this post are affiliate links. They did not send me free samples to use. This post is totally about me telling you about a product I use and love.

Submit a post!
Do you have a product you love to use when creating your own 3-D SF&F Art? I would love to hear about it! Head over to the contact page right now and tell me!

Coming at the Problem the Long Way December 29, 2009

Posted by Deb Kosiba in Uncategorized.
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A couple years back I decided that, at some point, I wanted to create a fanzine for science fiction and fantasy artists that work in 3-D.  There is plenty of places for a 2-D artist to get exposure, such as book covers and the covers of fanzines.  However, 3-D art tends to get overlooked.   We needed a place where we could discuss the tools of our trade, review conventions and art shows, and discuss some of the special issues facing the 3-D artist.

The problem was that my life was busy.  I had just moved into  a new place, I had (and still have) a wondrful day job, and I was already volunteering on at least one convention committee.  I didn’t have the bandwith to take on another project and I certainly wasn’t able to commit to anything like a regular publishing schedule.  The project was put aside until the time came that I could deal with it.

Time passes.  My husband and I discover stained glass.  I learn how to sell it on Etsy.  I start doing research on a real web site for our fledgling business and I learn from ittybiz.com that blogging can be a valuable tool for building a community around your products or services.  I learn about WordPress.

All of this has been great fodder for the whole stained glass thing, but last night it hit me,  instead of trying to create a fanzine for 3-D SF&F artists, I could create a blog.  It’d be far less work up front.  It will be far easier to do a post a day instead of trying to create multi-page articles.  And it would be far less daunting for other people to submit their own content.  And I could still periodically gather the best posts into a fanzine.

So here it is.  If you create Science Fiction or Fantasy art in wood, or polyclay, or metal, or paper, or leather, or whatever, as long as it has depth, you are welcome here.  I’ll be looking for guest posters as soon as I figure this thing out so if there is anything you’d like to write about just let me know.