Photography Tips: Sterling Silver on White

For the longest time, I had a terrible time with my camera while trying to photograph sterling silver on a white background. After some research and some reading on a few web sites, including CameraJim's Guide and TableTopStudio, I'm starting to figure it out.

Two key things needed to happen:

  • I needed to move one of my lights from the top of my lightbox to the front of it. Previously, I had a total of three lights, one on each side, and one on top. I moved the one from the top to the front, without diffusing it. For right now it seems to be working, and the ugly dark gray shadow that was all over the bottom of the photo seems to have virtually disappeared.
  • I needed to add a piece of black paper inside the light box to cast a reflection on the silver; doing so enabled the silver to stand out more against the light background.
Of course, a little bit of Levels editing is done with Photoshop, but this new setup has made it sooooo much easier. Some pics are provided below. I'm starting to really, really love my camera!


Expanding the "Warmth" Series

So, if you're familiar with my shop, then you know about my Warmth Earrings. For a while now, I've been holding on to a few different variations of them, and finally decided to start listing them this weekend.

These are Warmth in Turquoise, and I'm pleased with their results. The turquoise against the copper brings out a nice, complementary mix. In addition, with the rising cost of sterling silver, I can offer these to my customers at a pleasant price. In the next few days, I'll also be listing the same style made with amber and ocean jasper.

I also finally got to work on some more metalsmithing techniques yesterday...the project: stackable rings. I love how you can make them all thin and delicate and hammered out, with lovely little sterling beads as accents. My first set turned out acceptable, but not "sell-able." I put too much solder in between the joint, so it gave a messy little bump, and I forgot that when you wrap thick wire and then hammer it, it expands by at least two sizes. I'm making practice sets for all of my friends, so once I'm done with those I should have the technique perfected by then. My goal is to have the first set for sale this week.

I'd like to give my customers options...I was of thinking offering them in groups of three, four, and five. Your thoughts are appreciated--tell me what YOUR favorite number of stackable rings would be!


Sponsor Spotlight & Promo Tactics

So, that lovely little blog, Modish, has advertising opportunities where you can buy a spot for an ad as well as be included in the Modish Sponsor Spotlight. The wonderful Jena put up the Sponsor Spotlight: Simply Wired today. I like how she went with the pink theme! I've been loving that color lately. I'm hoping it will drive some traffic to my Etsy storefront.

In other news, have you heard about Indiepublic? I was sad to hear that it is for sale, but I hope a wonderful buyer will snag it up! I have an ad on their site, too--at a pretty reasonable rate, to boot.

That brings me to a recent discussion on Etsy about marketing/promoting/advertising, posted by littleputbooks. She asked about the "free" promotion activities that we all participate in, and whether or not they're worth it...and whether or not we're all chasing our tails. I have to say that when I first started hanging out in the Etsy community back in June, I hung out a LOT in the Forums. And I mean a LOT. And then when I set up my shop in October I STILL hung out in the Forums, and then I joined things like Indiepublic, Everything Skwiggle, and Talent Database. I already had my Flickr account set up, so I hung out there quite a bit as well. I also set up Simply Wired Custom Jewelry: The Blog. It was quite a bit of work, but I didn't mind.

Then I started realizing that I'd need to back off a little bit for several reasons:

  1. I wasn't creating enough. Too much of my focus was being spent on marketing.

  2. I think I really was running around in circles and chasing my tail.

  3. When the holidays came I was really busy filling orders, and I realized that it was much more fun than doing all of these promotional activities.

My solution was to change my marketing plan and determine what activities to focus on. Aside from shifting focus to creating more inventory and working on metalsmithing techniques, I've narrowed my marketing plan down to the following:

  1. Relist often. Very often. With the amount of new sellers, as well as how saturated the jewelry category is, I've found I can afford to relist about 6-10 times a day.

  2. Keep the blog. I like to write, and I like to read other blogs.

  3. Keep my Flickr account. I like to post pictures and I like to look at other people's work. What's nice about Flickr is that you're not really allowed to blatantly promote, so it kinda keeps the community focused on giving feedback to others without saying "look at me!! look at me!!" I dig it.

  4. Continue to be a volunteer for The Etsy Mini Blog. It's a beautiful site that promotes Etsy sellers and their products, all conveniently placed in one location. It's like a high-end shopping guide! And yes, I'll plug it here--it's free to join, and yes, it's free promotion for your shop. So, go there now and join--it's fast and easy.

  5. Use paid advertising if the budget allows. I use Project Wonderful and I've paid for spots on Modish as well as Indiepublic. I will probably rotate the sites I choose to place my ads on, but the effort is low and it does increase traffic.

So what will become of this new plan? I don't know...but does anyone? For every single seller there will always be a different strategy depending on your product, your market, and of course--your budget. My sales haven't been through the roof, but my views have increased significantly. I have also been featured in a Treasury at least once a week for the past couple of months, which is very flattering (thank you, beautiful Etsy Treasury Curators!), and Paint It Pomegranate made it to the front page. Wheeeeeeee!

Looking forward, I'm excited to be creating more than sitting in front of my computer. I'm interested in re-examining my goals and seeing where I am versus where I thought I'd be at this point. We shall see...


Giveaway Winner!

A real quick post for those who participated in my Springtime Giveaway...the winner is Bebemiqui! Bebemiqui keeps a lovely little blog over at http://bebemiqui.blogspot.com/, go ahead and give her a visit!

Thanks to all of you for participating; stay tuned for another one coming in the next month or so. These are so much fun to do!


How to Make Your Photos "Float"

You know how you want to pull in an image, from say, your Flickr account, and you can't get it to align properly and pretty along with your text? Well, here's the code that you can use:

<div style="float: right; margin-left: 0.5em; width: 125px; height: 125px;">PLACE THE HTML FOR YOUR IMAGE HERE</div>

What does it do? Well, it adds code that will enable your image to "float" at the right side (in my case) or left side of your text. To see what your image will look like, delete the text where I have "PLACE THE HTML FOR YOUR IMAGE HERE" and paste in the HTML for YOUR image.

  • See where it says "float: right;"? Well, if you want it to float on the left, change it to "left".

  • The "margin-left:" number tells how much of a "gap" between the text and the image you want to have. Play around with the number and you'll see.

  • The "width" and "height" numbers, in my experience, should be a little bigger than the dimensions of your image. This will usually be a part of the HTML code for your image.

Try it and see if it works. I got it to show up successfully on my last post...hopefully it will work for you, too!

Great Resource for Royalty Free Images

I occasionally like to use photos on my blog that I haven't taken with my camera; mostly for illustrative purposes or for things like banners, themed images, or photo montages. I also do some commissioned work for friends when I get the chance...but not so much since I opened up my Etsy site.

Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Photography, Photo Search
Anyway, Big Stock Photo is the place where I've been going recently for royalty free photos. You can sign up for "download credits," the pics are reasonably priced (especially when you're only using them for low resolution web stuff), and their use definitely keeps you safe from copyright infringement. I don't use them all of the time, obviously, but when I need that certain image--the one that goes perfectly with the post that can't be represented with my own images--I like having it as a resource.

The other cool thing you can do is submit your own photos to the site; however, I haven't done that yet. So...perhaps you should check it out if you're into design services, or if you like to have access to a nicely sized, nicely organized photo library. Or, perhaps you can take one of your favorite Flickr photos, put them on Big Stock Photo, and make a few bucks for yourself. Have fun!


Easter Eggs

Remember being a kid on Easter morning, and the day included an egg hunt? How fun. Ours were usually hidden inside, since the weather is so iffy in my area of the country. The eggs would be filled with treats or money, and the day was basically focused on how much candy my siblings and I could eat without getting sick. My weakness was chocolate. My younger brothers and sister enjoyed my favorite, along with gummy stuff, Peeps, and basically anything with tons of sugar in it. To this day, my parents still make me a basket. It's quite hysterical. Only recently have they stopped hiding it and forcing me to find it in their house.

Today, Easter Eggs have gone high-tech. Referred to as Digital Easter Eggs, it's when software code contains a hidden surprise, like a game, a photo, or a reference to a character or item. They turn up in regular software applications, operating systems, movies, and TV shows, to name a few. You can find more information about these fun little things at The Easter Egg Archive. It's so fun!

Speaking of Easter Eggs, I was thinking of adding a digital one to my Etsy shop in honor of the upcoming holiday, and possibly pairing it with an extra percentage discount. I'll probably run it along with the Saturday Night Special...I just have to think of something cool to do. Nothing high tech or anything, but we'll see.

So, what about you? Any fun ideas for promotions/sales for the upcoming weekend? Which ones have worked? Thanks for sharing.



Originally uploaded by Simply Wired Custom Jewelry
Gotcha! You probably thought this post was about embarrassing myself. Although I do that quite often, this particular post is about a new item in my shop. You guessed it, it's called Blush. Crafted from rhodonite and sterling silver, this dainty little ring looks perfect with both warm and cool colors.

I added some teeny tiny sterling silver beads just to give it more of an asymmetrical, "messy" look; that way, it can be a little more casual when you want it to be. I had fun making this one, and especially photographing it. Rings are easy to photograph! You just place them in your light box and click away! I did have to mess with the f-stop just a little bit to get the right focus between the foreground and background, but I like how my pics turned out. Speaking of f-stop, The Storque has a great article about using this fabulous feature. I highly recommend it, as you can make some nice adjustments to your depth of field dependent upon how much detail you want to include in your photo.

I made a few other rings, one with peach moonstone and another with garnet, but I will wait until I return to post them. Which reminds me...when I say "when I return" I mean I'm going to be out of the shop. Yep, this week I have a trip for work, so I'm pretty much unavailable until late Friday evening. Updates have been posted in my store, and any orders placed will be processed ASAP after I get back. Until then, have you entered yourself in the Springtime Giveaway yet? If not, hurry up silly. Time is running out.


Springtime Giveaway

Well readers, as promised, here are my earrings that I'm making available for my springtime giveaway.

This li'l contest is EASY, All you have to do is leave a comment!

Here's some dirt about the earrings:

Their title is "Equinox," and they're not going to be available for sale in my shop. Nope, I made these especially for my contest and one happy winner! 7mm citrine teardrops and 4mm peridot beads are wrapped with delicate 24g wire and dangled from a soldered and hammered jump ring. The ear wires are nice and round and balance the design perfectly, looking oh-so-whimsy while they swing from your earlobes. Finally, a springy (get it??) spiral of seed beads is also added on for some "sunshiny" fun--I think of them as the breeze, flowing through flowers and green grass.

Length of earrings from top of ear wire to bottom of is approximately 2.25in (5.72cm).

So...what next? As mentioned, leave a comment on this post, and on the morning of March 20th, I'll put all of those who commented into a name drawing. Then, I'll post the winner in a new post that day! Just like my previous contest, if you're a seller, I'll also give a plug for your shop and post your Etsy Mini on my blog.

The Fine Print
One entry per person. Winner will be announced before noon EST on March 20, 2008, and will have three days to contact me with their mailing address. If no response, another name will be drawn. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 19, 2008.

Ring Practice

A couple folks have been inquiring as to whether I make rings or not. The answer is: YES I do. I haven't made any wire ones for a long time; the reason is because when I first learned how, I didn't really like how they looked. Well, that changed a little bit since I figured out how to do coils with them and embellish them a little better. I whipped these little beauties up last night and practiced with some copper wire. I had to practice my technique once again, so much so that I turned to Eni Oken for some help. I like her tutorials; they're easy to follow, illustrated nicely, and most importantly, allow for some use of your own imagination.

I'm pleased with the way the unakite one turned out (the one on top), because I liked adding those beads as an accent. Plus, since the focal bead is 8mm, it really "pops" against the copper ring.

I'll be listing these later today, along with some more to match with my Pinkleberry Drops, Pink Chocolate, Beneath the Moon (all versions), plus any others for which I can find some coordinating stuff.

Stay tuned...


Showcase Results and Promotional Activities

Well, as promised, I mentioned that I'd put some stats on my page regarding the Showcase. I purchased a spot in the Springtime one; alas, no sales, but I did get some good counts. Here's the breakdown:

  • At 11:30 p.m. on 3/4/08 (1/2 hour before the showcase began, I had 2630 views (this is the total of all items; I didn't do a per-item view count).
  • At 7:28 a.m. on 3/6/08 (I didn't have time to check after midnight; too sleepy!), I had 601 additional views.
So...what does this mean? Nothing really. LOL. It just shows the amount of increased traffic I'm bringing to my site as a result of being in the Showcase. On average, in a 24 hour period, I get about 100-200 views, dependent upon how many times I relist. Honestly, I use the Showcase as exposure more than anything. It puts my products out there, gets people to see what I have to offer, and hopefully those views will eventually turn into sales later, or at least a couple of hearts (I know, they don't really mean anything either, but I love getting them!).

Speaking of views, I reset my counter yesterday evening, and about an hour later I had approximately 300 more views in my shop. The verdict? I made it to the Etsy front page. This was exciting, as it never happened before. The lovely FuzzyBunnyStew put together a Treasury called Persephone's Pomegranates and she featured my brooch in it (hurry up and check it out--it expires tonight!).

There it is, right in the 2nd row. Yeehaw!

So yeah, if you're looking to get lots and lots of views, try to make it to the front page. It resulted in about 800 in less than two hours!

Now for more exposure--I'm in the process of doing some more advertising. As mentioned, I'll have an ad on Modish beginning on March 15th. I'll also be spotlighted, which will of course enable me to run a sale in my shop, so be sure to go there beginning on 3/15 (don't worry, dear readers, I'll remind you!). I also did a Project Wonderful bid for an ad on EtsyLove. If I'm the high bidder, I'll be on there beginning mid-april.

And finally, I came up with a springtime theme for some earrings--incorporating some peridot and some yellow citrine. I hope to have the contest and the earrings posted today sometime, at the latest tomorrow.


The Benefits of a Showcase--Or Not?

Well, I broke down and purchased another showcase spot for today--the Springtime one on Etsy. I usually have fairly good luck with them since I've found the main items that draw customers to my shop, which are Beneath the Moon and Fire Gypsy.
While visiting the Blog Love forum post this morning, I ran across cicadastudio's blog as well as her giveaway, which is where she mentioned how it's funny what people are drawn to as far as products go. I couldn't agree more--I really like both of those necklaces, but it's just interesting to see what items get the most "clicks." LOL.

I'll be using the Majaba View Calculator to track views...as of last night I reset it, and this morning I had about 107 views since midnight without relisting anything. It doesn't track on a per item basis, just total visits per page of your items, but I might find it helpful in determining the ratio of hits versus sales. We shall see...in most cases I get at least one sale from a Showcase, but things have been kind of slow lately.

In other news, the lovely JessicaSharrah blogged about me yesterday; you'll have to read her writeup to find out how we discovered one another--it's kinda funny. Jessica has a ton of ceramic jewelry in her shop, and as of late, she has created these beautiful ceramic bands that I think are just lovely. One of them even made it to the front page on Etsy a few weeks ago! I hope these bring her much success. If you like them, she has a large range of colors, all available in her shop.

Finally--as promised--a quick run down of the Ani Difranco show. It rawked. The venue was absolutely amazing--very small and intimate (only 1,022 seats!), just like I like 'em. It was very quiet in the audience, another plus, and Ani just seemed to have a brand new energy about her. It was a pleasure to watch; and I hope I can see many more shows at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in the very near future.

Well, that's all for this morning. I'm a busy girl today; I have much work to do for my day job, so it might be a few days before another post. Over the weekend, be sure to tune in, as I'm having another giveaway for a pair of earrings.

Until then, keep thinking of spring...


Hard Candy--Pink Necklace

Just added to my shop this evening, and created this afternoon!

I found these tasty little pink beads at Michael's, as well as a set of cerulean blue ones, too! I couldn't figure out what to do with them, and I decided that simple was the way to go.

I made a square frame, added a bail, and then attached the bead with a piece of wire coiled around the frame. I suspended it from copper chain and added an S-clasp.

I'm pleased with the result, because it's playful and fun because of the bead, but it can be dressed up, too.

If you get a chance, check it out in my shop. I was also wondering, do you like the main photo better than photo #2, or should I list photo #2 first? I prefer to go with a more funky photo, but sometimes I fear that it might be too closeup or abstract for someone to be able to determine what it is.

If you feel like giving some feedback, leave a comment and let me know.

A Cool (er...warm) Treasury & Other Updates

The wonderful WanderLustMosaics picked my Pink Chocolate earrings for a treasury this week; here is the collection:

Thanks, WanderLust!

In other news, I finally got Bizzy Buzz posted last night, as well as a pair of earrings that I call Halcyon. I like that word. According to Merriam-Webster, it means calm and peaceful when used as an adjective. Yay for labradorite and rainbow moonstone, a perfect fit!

This weekend is going to be not-so-fun. As mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm looking at a major deliverable for work, and that means I'll be putting in some Saturday hours. This will hinder some of my creativity, as I really wanted to get a couple pairs of earrings done and work on my order for a set of bridal party necklaces. Oh well...can't complain. I love my job and the people I work with; every once in a while I need to suck it up and deal with the extra hours. I'll get it over it!

I think the part that is bothering me even more is the fact that I get my taxes done on Monday. I hate preparing for it! I have all of my stuff pretty much done for Simply Wired Custom Jewelry, but now I need to organize everything for our personal taxes. BOR-ing. Even though we have an accountant, there is still some organization that needs to be done, and it's not that it's hard, I just don't want to do it because it's not any fun. 'Nuff said.

Boohoo readers, boohoo. Tomorrow is looking better and better though, as I have an Ani Difranco show to attend. I haven't seen the li'l folksinger since the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2005, so I'm definitely looking forward to this treat. I'll post updates from the show next week.

Until then, keep on rockin'.