Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brimming with Ideas for Clever Craft Show DIY Displays

I'm gearing up for my first really big craft show in October (Cowtown Indie Bazaar- check it out) and I'm stressing on the perfect display. I have all manner of random things I sell from boxes to games and puzzles and I perused the normal seller of such wares- but I can't see making something by hand and then using a tacky acrylic stand. Blah!  I also get inspired by all of these fantastic jewelry sellers I see out there- but they sell small things and not all of the ideas are portable to setting up larger items. Hopefully I'll come up with something clever in time for the show that I can reuse!
I've rustled up some of the best blog postings I've been able to find on the subject and hope you enjoy!


Monday, September 5, 2011

DFWCraftShows: Craft Show Survival Kit :: Part II - The Box

So nifty- checkout this fantastic resource on what to pack as a seller at craft shows. Maybe this will help you feel at least a teensy bit more prepared...

DFWCraftShows: Craft Show Survival Kit :: Part II - The Box: Last week, we covered Part I of The Craft Show Survival Kit: The Bag . Today, we will move onto some of The Bag’s most important content...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Disney Products Made in Factories with Child Labor and Harsh Chemicals

I know. I know- yet another blast about some big rotten company taking advantage of cheaper labor rates to churn out mass marketed junk that consumers eat up everywhere. It's not that I'm blasting Disney or any other large company- it's just a gentle reminder that we should be more concerned as consumers about where our products come from. Think about it- it you bought from a local toy maker or made toys on your own then you would know the composition of the paint and finishes and materials that your child drools all over. It's the big company's responsibility to also make sure that products that are carrying their company name aren't being churned out of some horror factory- but honestly- we can take a bigger role. Handmade and sourcing from fair labor is truly more expensive- no doubt- but in this case- less is more.
Child Labor and Disney


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review 'O the Week: Freshbooks

Each week for the next few weeks we will be posting micro-reviews of some different online services that are marketing themselves for small business and micro-business. This is certainly of interest to Etsy users who are looking for tools to minimize the time they are spending on all of those bookkeeping and correspondance and mailing and packing tasks while still maintaining that micro-business feel.

This week's review is on Freshbooks,com. It's a service that promises to ease the burden of invoicing and tracking time spent on projects that you might bill hourly for or need to track long-term.

Pros: This service is really easy to set up. Like most small business services, they offer a level that free but limited. You can only have three clients at the free level. So far I haven't run into this as a restriction though because I can segment one client as "individual" if I need to and have multiple contacts in that segment for quick updates. This site also looks really professional. You can set up an invoice that's branded to your site. Once you set up an estimate, you can either print a PDF or e-mail a system generated user name and password to your contact that has requested a project estimate. They can log in and review the estimate your provided and print out a copy on their own. Once you have agreed on a project timeline, terms, conditions, and an estimate- invoicing is just as easy. It's branded just for your site- there aren't other logos cluttering your invoice. They can pay through Google Checkout, PayPal or several other services you have set up

Cons: There are other options out there like  PayPal that also allow you to send invoices. In order to need to priced subscription levels, you would really need the integrated service that Freshbooks provides. I haven't found any specific cons- just that I would likely manage my minimal number projects on my computer with similar tools I could create myself. I think that if I was needing to manage several clients at once- I could really see the value in this tool though.

Overall: I think it's a great tool. It helps give you a professional look especially for that first wholesale request or a project that you think could lead to additional revenue down the line. Snappy! Check them out!


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Canadian Postal Strike at an End

At least for now- you can breathe a sigh of relief: as Canadian postal workers are back at work as of tonight (Mon, June 27 at 8:30PM)

Something to note though- while USPS has not been accepting mail since the strike became official, they do still have a lot of mail being held in the network. That is all being released as well. I would expect much longer than normal transit times not only from the volume but I imagine the employees are still a bit disgruntled as well.



This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review 'O the Week: Shoeboxed

Each week for the next few weeks we will be posting micro-reviews of some different online services that are marketing themselves for small business and micro-business. This is certainly of interest to Etsy users who are looking for tools to minimize the time they are spending on all of those bookkeeping and correspondance and mailing and packing tasks while still maintaining that micro-business feel.

This week's review will be for Shoeboxed.com. Shoeboxed promises to organize your business receipts electronically which is an acceptable form of storage for IRS record-keeping. 

Pros: Shoeboxed has different levels of membership including a free level. In this level you can set up your own e-mail address that you can use when ordering online. In this manner, your receipts will end up automatically in Shoeboxed and forwarded to your real e-mail inbox. If you have online receipts that you used your real e-mail address for- you can forward them to your Shoeboxed e-mail as well. You can also scan in receipts from brick and mortar purchases and itemize each purchase. It's a pretty handy doodad. There are other services too that allow you to mail in receipts and they will scan them for you. this requires a subscription and I can see it being a real time saver if you have lots of receipts.

Cons: Sometimes (actually most of time time) when Shoeboxed gets an new electronic receipt- it doesn't get the right amount. It's not a big deal- and they provide a link to easily go in and update the information. If you have registered your shoeboxed e-mail address with an online retailer the promotional ads go there too. You get a notice from Shoeboxed that it's there but I've noticed about half of them getting picked up as receipts especially when there is a promotion like "Free Shipping for Orders Over $25" or something- Shoeboxed will see it as a receipt for a $25 order. Again, you can easily go in an fix it but it's a glitch nonetheless. I recommend using your shoeboxed e-mail only to manually forward real receipts to it- to to use as your e-mail address with retailers.

Overall: I recommend this service. There is a free level for when you are just starting out and graduated subscription plans as your business grows. You can store an unlimited number of receipts that limits the real shoeboxes you have by the end of the tax year. It is one of the tools I use to limit my need for a CPA. It's a real timesaver. Check it out!

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strike in Candian Postal Service

Has the recent Canadian postal strike affected any of your business shipping? Etsy customers all over Canada today are wringing their hands as their Etsy orders can't get through due to a postal strike. Hopefully it will end soon. From Pitney-Bowes: Canada Postal workers intend to strike effective at 11:59 PM Central Time, Saturday, June 18. At that time, the US Postal Service will not accept any First-Class Mail International, Priority Mail International, or Express Mail International to Canada.

Shipping to Canada has been disabled as the USPS will refuse the package. 

UPDATE (23 June): Hopefully the strike will end next week but expect delays as the spaghetti of backed up mail unravels. A good option would be to ship via FedEx. You can request that buyers pay the extra. You can print shipping labels and more through an online account with them and you get a discount as an Etsy seller.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review 'O the Week: Outright Bookeeping Services

Each week for the next few weeks we will be posting micro-reviews of some different online services that are marketing themselves for small business and micro-business. This is certainly of interest to Etsy users who are looking for tools to minimize the time they are spending on all of those bookkeeping and correspondance and mailing and packing tasks while still maintaining that micro-business feel.

This week's review in on Outright.com which promises to ease the burden of bookeeping for small business.

I signed up for an Outright account early this year. Since I was an early adopter, I've managed to get in for no monthly fees at least through the end of the year. New users should expect to shell out $19.95 a month.

Pros: You can electronically link to just about any other service including most banking accounts, credit card accounts, Shoeboxed for receipt management and your PayPal account. You can categorize the transaction types to Cost of Goods sold and you can catalog your mileage costs so you can start to tally up those miles so you are ready for the end of the year. It also tracks your income/outgoing and gives you an indication of what your quarterly taxes are owed to the federal guys. It also looks like soon they will have a way when pulling in PayPal transactions to have it note which part is Sales Tax collected for transactions that occurred within your own state. It also has charting that shows income vs outgoing. You can also allow access to your CPA into your account.

Cons: From what I've experienced- there's no way to merge instances, charges, or income transactions. For example you may see income from your PayPal account from an Etsy transaction and you will also see it post to your bank account when you request a transfer. There's no way to merge these transactions or to itemize the transaction into PayPal fees, sales tax and net income- for example. You will also have double transactions so you will need to choose one transaction to delete- either the PayPal transaction or the bank account transaction. I didn't realize this until I had imported one of my accounts and I had to delete my PayPal account since it wouldn't catch all of my transactions and was causing a lot of manual deletion and rework. It was really obnoxious and I ended up only linking to the credit card and bank accounts since eventually the giant whirlpool of various sources of charges and income end up there.

Conclusion- I run a micro business yet on Outright the number of manual entry points is immense. There are also lots of features that I expected but I'd have to do manually on the side. It seems like it wouldn't be saving me any time as I can download those transactions from my bank and manually work them in a spreadsheet or print them out and use a traditional office-store bookeeping file. So far I can't see a $20 per month advantage to other services. It's pretty good for free for now and I like the charts it presents for charting your growth per month.


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quick Tip: Pricing Workshop for Etsy Listings- Guide

I wanted to post a guide on how you can come up with a fair price for your Etsy Shop listings. I see a lot of shops struggling either with making sales or getting burned out becuase their prices are actually too low. You should do a little dance when you get an order- not wipe your brow and sigh!

I'll get straight to the point. What you will need for this min-workshop is a calculator, your receipts, and a pencil with paper. You can use the computer and an Excel sheet is you want. I have one made up for estimating jobs on the fly.

Let's get started: You need to take several things into account when pricing your shop listings. Let me know if you have additional items to think about that aren't listed here.

First- jot down a labor rate you are going to charge for you time. Be fair! Do you have a number of years in your design area? You need to price your items to include the time you spend on them.

Next- pick a product in your shop or one you want to  list- calculate the original material cost. You need to be able to price it per listing so if you purchase something in bulk, you need to break out the cost per item. Be sure to include all tangible pieces in this step including that material shipping to you or your drive to the store so you capture all of your costs. For many of my items, I purchase wood by sets of board-feet. For a listing item I will calculate the full costs of that board set and then estimate the percentage of the purchased set I used for that listing item. Voila- I've calculated the raw material costs for my single product.

Next add in any incidental costs for additional materials such as shipping envelopes or boxes, paint, glue, inks, wrapping, etc. These may not have been included in the tangible items section becuase a dollop of paint is too difficult to separate out. Mark this amount on a line title "Incidentals".

My next step is to estimate the number of minutes I spend for that particular listing item in prepping the materials for assembly and in item finishing. This may include (for me) painting, sanding, scrubbing, and other related prep and finishing steps. Yours might be sorting, gluing, assembling, or sizing. Aha! Now you have labor expenses.

Next- do you use any special machinery to create your item? Is is equipment that would be cost prohibitive for another person to pick up and use in the creation of your ship items. Perhaps you have a wood-shop with dozens of specialty tools or you use a specialty vinyl cutter, laser engraver, rotary carving tools, sewing machine, embroidery machine, or other specialty equipment. Try and come up with a fair cost of what you would charge per unit of time (minute, hour) if a custom came up to you with material prepped and a design mastered and the only thing you had to do was use your equipment to get the material to the next step. How much would you charge for that service? Multiply the unit of time by the cost for the item you plan to list. Tack that on to your item cost. As a consumer, shoppers are more likely to purchase a carved wooden post than purchase all of the tools and equipment it would require to make their own. Account for your tools in the item cost tally. This is a good area that can be adjusted for any wholesale inquiries. Mark this on a line titled "Equipment".

Next you need to account for the charges that are a part of your marketing strategy. One area you need to be charging for is your Etsy item listing fees. For sure charge for the $0.20 Etsy item listing fee. Some shops employ the marketing strategy of Etsy item "relisting" to keep items towards the top of the category pages. Multiply that listing fee by your estimated or calculated costs between item purchases. Do you think you will relist that item 5 times before a sale? Charge $1.00. Do you market your shop on blogs or purchase ad space online? Take that monthly cost and divide by the number of items in your shop. Mark this amount in a line titled "Marketing/Advertising".

Next- tally up what the differences are in the current listing price and subtract tangible material costs. This is looked at as your current  profit mark. You should be paying taxes on your earnings from your Etsy shop so tack on a 12.9% of the profits for federal, another for medicare, and yet another for social security. If you don't account for these hidden gems you will end up with nothing for your hard work at the end of a sale except fore the healthy glow of an order out the door. Mark this on a line titled "Taxes".

Finally as an online retailer, you need to account for paying all of those processing fees. You don't want this coming out of profits so tack on the 2.5% Etsy selling fee and the $0.30+2.9% Paypal credit card processing fees. Multiply the current product listing tally by your respective percentages and add it up for your listing fees. Mark this as your draft price to charge for your service or product.

The next step is to compare your prices to a couple of other benchmarks. One quick benchmark I use (And it happens to be fairly accurate once I finish my calculations) is to take the raw material costs and just multiple by 2.6. Yes- really. You may be suprised to find your calculated price coming close to this. Mark this amount as "Benchmark 1".

The next benchmark will come from doing some comparison shopping for items similar to yours. Note some of thier prices. Remember!! Your objective is not to be the low price leader but to charge a fair price for your item. Are there lots of copies? Be sure you revisit your labor charges- they may vary depending on the item you are making as others may be easier to create than others. Make note of any additional benchmarks.

Now you need to settle on a final price. You could weight each of your possible finals to come up with a total, average your benchmarks and calculated item totals, or play a game of pin the price on the listing. Whatever you decide to do- you should have more confidence in the price you are setting to make sure you are getting a reward for your hard work! Comment on this post with any additional tips- I love hearing new ideas!

Sample Pricing calculator for Etsy Listings


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Make a Suitcase Picnic Basket

Just hit up DollarStore Crafts for thier article on turning a vintage suitcase into an adorable picnic set- Just in time for the kids to get out of school. Pop on over and see how adorable this weekend activity would be!

Make a Suitcase Picnic Basket




This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Start Jaws Theme Music: Dealing With the Customer That's Given Bad Reviews

Drawing a Crowd
Everyday Etsy shop owners enter a battlefield of fierce competition for customer attention. When you get that little e-mail showing a transaction, even seasoned Etsy shop owners do a little dance. New Etsy shop owners actually get up and dance. Attention is given shops for many reasons- maybe you specialize in a certain area of design, your photos are pretty, or you just happened to relist at the right time. Shop owners may have drawn in a customer becuase they are a social media czar with a blog, Facebook followers too numerous to count, a twitter feed, and a crazy newsletter scheme that draws customers in by the pack. However they got there, they are all generally going to research you a bit before feeling safe purchasing from your shop. I think my profile page is the number one clicked on page in my analytics feed. Why is that? Surely it's not for my awkward prose on what my day is like- it's to make a connection. Customers for Etsy aren't the same customers nosing around on E-Bay or Amazon for the same product. Maybe they are more discerning, they appreciate the quirkiness of homemade, or they like supporting micro-businesses. It's my opinion that they like dealing with real people. We've lost so much of that corner business get-to-know-ya kind of small town talk with our point and click purchasing abilities. Etsy allows the customer to be drawn in right to the source of the creative dance.

You Are What You're Rated
No matter how they were drawn in or how pretty your pictures are, you are what you are rated. Those lovely customers that did more that provide hearts but generated that trickle of income have more responsibility for bringing in the next customer and the next after that with a click of the mouse on that feedback rating. I do my absolute best on every order. Not everything runs perfectly all of the time but I keep my customers in the loop and if I get delayed or a part goes wackadoo and I need to start over- I let them know and I usually upgrade or throw in a freebie when I ship it out- it's all about creating goodwill. Still- I hear that Jaw theme music start and the lights seem to dim the instant a customer that has a history of giving bad reviews purchases something from my shop. It's like death sniffing around your front door.  Maybe they are extremely picky- maybe they just aren't happy with anything- maybe..... bridezilla found you and no matter what you do- it's not going to be right. (Cue murderous screaming sounds.)

The Daydream

I can imagine downtown Mayberry with all of the little virtual Etsy storefronts with little glittery colorful banners and signs with streets of jewelry and bridal shops alongside avenues that look more like the Renaissance festival and others that hold strange and wonderful creations... some more strange than wonderful. As customers are happily strolling along you notice a big black cloud over the incoming... villainous... notorious... Bad Rater Hater. All of a sudden the shop windows shut and shutters flop closed and the Etsy shop owners huddle in fear in the back hoping that Bad Rater Hater doesn't see that they are open at all. Then.... they find you... And they give you money... And they ask you for your product.

Incoming Storm- A Bad Rater

The Bad Rating Pimple
Even with 100 sales, one bad rating is the same as a plague on your shop. Anything less than "100% Positive Feedback" is going to trigger a rash of clicking to find out what the bad rating was and why. It doesn't matter how hard you worked to resolve it or if it's even true. It doesn't matter how long ago it was and it only slightly matters how may good ratings you have- if you find yourself dealing with the Bad Rater Hater, you can't duck for cover and refuse the sale. All you can do is hold your chin high (even while trembling), send your normal best, and then cross your fingers that whatever the itch was- you scratched it- and they move on down the road.

Send me your experiences- bad or good- and I'll anonymously post them. Rant away!



This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Surviving the Etsy Madness: BNR

Surviving the Etsy Madness: BNR: "I found a wonderful new abbreviation on Etsy....BNR. What is a BNR? It's a Buy and Replace treasury or listing. The curato..."

Found a great explanation on what exactly a BNR is on Etsy. Apparently the "curator" or person in charge- puts together a treasury or a list of things they like. Then you can "buy your way in" by purchasing one of the items in the treasury. After that the curator will list something from your shop then hopefully your item gets purchased or at least stared out and given lots of hearts. I think it's a neat pyramid scheme- not being a true pyramid scheme because it closes intentionally after a predetermined amount of time and of course nobody is promised anything.

Check it out on EtsyMadness!

Update: So I participated in my first BNR this last weekend and I wanted to provide some impressions. It didn't really go well for me. I bought into a BNR that the curator had set up to "run through the weekend". I needed a cute card for Mother's Day anyway so I picked up an illustrated card and provided a link to my item via the Etsy convo system. This was maybe Saturday morning. Within two hours the BNR was "Closed". Hey- This was not through the weekend! My item might have been up for who knows how long but I do track my stats on Google Analytics including where the traffic course was from and saw 0... and I mean 0 response from the posting in the BNR treasury. It wasn't even up long enough for me to promote it myself. My lesson from this experience is to maybe go with someone that has a storied background in successful BNR's. If I had looked around more closely, this was a first for my curator. This may mean they are new at promoting, new at getting a good following on their treasuries, and in this case a closer look would have revealed that they had set up the BNR to sell their own items. It was a scattered mix of different artists but biased towards their own shop. (Note: It's generally bad form to post your own items in a treasury to start with.) Once their items were sold, they closed the BNR. The end of the weekend turned into Saturday noon. That was the lesson for me... The lesson for you is that a BNR is no guarantee. Even if you buy in, you have no way to enforce your item being listed, no way to insure that the curator will live up to their word, and no take-backs if you change your mind. Mine was an inexpensive mistake-- I will be more careful on choosing in the future. On the whole it was an interesting experience and kind of gets that whole silent auction feel to it. Reminds me of my country church's silent auctions in the fall when I hover over by the bake sale so I can keep running over to make sure I'm still the highest bidder on the movie night basket. After a while it's not about the item- it's the race to the finish that keeps you there. :)

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer at Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quick Tip: Accepting Credit Cards on the Road- More Etsy Discounts

If you also run an ecommerce site and wish to accept credit cards via your site without the PayPal buttons or wish to accept credit cards on the run like at craft shows or local events, there is a discount with the eCommerce procssor ProPay. The very special Etsy ProPay Discount Link takes a whopping $10 off the monthly fees. That can really add up!

For my craft shows and local credit card processing, I prefer  my Square card reader. It lets me swipe credit cards via a free plug-in I can use with my iPad after downloading yet another free app! The fees are lower (2.75% per swipe) and you can directly e-mail a receipt to your customer right after the transaction. You will need either Wi-Fi enabled or have your 3G connection running. The app works on iPhones, Android phones, and iPads.


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Linky Party! Enter Your Etsy Shop Link

Hosting a quick Linky Party through April 15. Enter your Etsy Shop below and include a photo. I will select shops for weekly showcase spots!


Quick Tip: Shipping with FedEx via a Special Etsy Discount

Did you know that Etsy has a discount program with FedEx?

It's simple- fill out an account application with FedEx via this special Etsy FedEx Discount Link. You can link a credit card to your account. Then it's easy! You can calculate the cost of various shipping options online. FedEx shows you the discounts you receive with your Etsy account benefit. Print shipping labels and locate drop-off locations. You can even schedule a pick-up. You don't have to be exact on the weight- a guess will usually do so just grab a ruler and measure your packaging!

Depending on the size of your package- you may be able to drop it off at your local post office. I know mine has a drop-off box. There's a handy stash of envelope and document sized shipping supplies there too!


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Photography Tip: Using the Flash

I can't even count the number of bad pictures I see in shops all over Etsy. Not everyone needs to be a pro to handle creating great shop photos. I have to admit- I don't always follow my own advice even when I do know better but perhaps we can work up some tips that let you take great photos-fast.

Today's tip is going to deal with the flash. There are a lot of photos that are overexposed, show the flash glare, or are just plain uninviting to look at. If you can avoid using a flash- this is your best option. Hope for a great sunny day where you can take your pictures outside. Even a snap and shoot camera can take good photos in the springtime air. This is not always possible and not every photo deserves the outside light. Your second option when taking photos indoors is to use a flash diffuser with every light in the house turned on. In most cases, this will help diffuse the flash enough to provide a good image. What if, for example, I was selling Christmas ornaments. Sunshine and springtime don't really go with that theme so much. You want more of a warm fireside cocoa kind of feel to your listing. Let's say you are indoors with the most basic of point and shoot cameras, you have a new Etsy shop listing you want to share with the world, and the flash is ruining your day because you really want those twinkling little Christmas lights in your photo. The combination of the flash and the lights in the photo will result in a dreary look to your Christmas photo. Turning all of the house lights on takes away the glow from the lights. What is a budding shop owner to do? You can avoid using the flash indoors with a few tricks and a steady hand. Let's look at the following example photo.

This is a cute commercial ornament that is lit with the tree's light strand and creates a glowing little house. The photo was taken with a Canon Rebel XTi fitted with a common non-professional 18-55mm lens. However- this photo looks nothing like the house does with the naked eye. The inviting warmth and glow are all taken away by the use of the pop-up flash. The camera for this example was even outfitted with a flash diffuser for purposes of removing any point glare and diffusing the flash across the photo.

Now- we will see the same shot taken without the flash:
This would make a much better photo for your shop than the previous. To set up this shot you do not need any fancy photography equipment. You will need a tripod, clip on clamp-pod, or "Dr. Suessian" sculpture of books stacked on a step-stool which is stacked on a chair- just some way to leave the camera hands-free and pointed at the subject. Make sure the subject is directly horizontal from your lens. You don't want to create a strange perspective akin to looking up the nose or down at the bald-spot of your listing item. Set up your camera to take a picture without a flash and then use the timer button. This will remove any smear or jitter contributed by handling the camera with your hands.

My final warning- be careful about your focusing. Even with great flash tricks, your photos can come out undefined when focused at the wrong subject. For this example we will use a delicate ornament from Etsy Shop: Woods of Knottingham.




This photo was taken by hand with no flash and focused an an improper depth. Notice the smear of the background as well as the inability for the eye to get a clear focus on the listing. One tip here is obviously to get that tripod out. This will solve half of the problem. The subject makes it very difficult to use the auto-focus feature of most point and shoot cameras. It is a delicate ornament and it does not provide much surface area for the camera to get a good latch on it for depth. My tip here is to get something else- anything- say a book from the shelf next to you or junk mail from the day's catch. Have a partner hold that larger thing up directly in front of your subject. Most cameras have a focus feature when you hold the capture button down half-way. Hold it there and have your friend remove the object you just focused on. Depress the hutter button the rest of the way and voila! You have a picture perfect focused listing picture. This eliminates your ability to use the timer function of the camera so it may take a few tries if you cause some movement of the camera on the tripod.


Finally remember the rule of thirds. The subject should not necessarily be centered in the photo. If you were to imagine cutting or adding fold lines that broke the picture up into thirds, you really want your subject aligned on one of those lines- not a center line. This is more pleasing to the eye. This can be arranged when you set up your shot or in post-editing with a neat little crop.

Tune in soon for more tips!


This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Purpose

We all have a purpose. Actually that's not true- I have met things that have no purpose. However- I am hoping to have purpose for this blog and it is to promote Etsy artists, shops, and handmade craft. I hope to profile Etsyians and crafters from all over as well as all for guest articles from shop owners on topics ranging from craft tips to tips on running a small business. Contact me for more info!