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!