Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick Tip #25 - Quick Discounting in Etsy

No weekly inspiration this week because I just came across a wonderful Greasemonkey script for Etsy. Those of you who already use the EtsyHacks know about Greasemonkey, it is a wonderful add-on for the Firefox browser that lets to install scripts that modify how you can use websites (I also use some for gmail, squidoo, and a few other sites).

Today's useful script is by Etsy seller krtwood and lets you bulk discount all items in your shop by a percentage and adds a quick edit link under the price in your currently listed item list.

Download Quick Price Edit Here

1: % is set as that % of original price 50% of $10=$5, 80% of $10=$8. So 10% of $10 would be $1 not $9.
2: To reverse your discount do 10000/% used. So 10000/80=125%

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Becoming a Mother Helped Me Make the Leap From Baby Bottles To Professional Artist

Jennifer Swift is a stay at home mom and artist living in Plymouth MN. She has been published in several national art publications, has an etsy shop, and is soon to be a published author. Her book, Creative Bloom: Wire and Fabric Projects and Inspirations (North Light) will be released this November. To read more of Jen’s writing visit her blog at

I know it's commonly thought that as mothers we have no time, no energy, and no need to push ourselves outside of our roles as mothers. It's not true, and I can attest to that. I tried to throw my whole self into being a mother when my son was born and ended up brainstorming marketing ideas, or innovative product design while breastfeeding. I pestered my employed friends with suggestions, and generally made a nuisance of myself. Then I joined a moms group and after a while signed on as their crafts person. The projects I would come up with usually meant 10-20 hours of elaborate prepping for a 15 min. project. It was at one of the meetings when they were talking about doing a cookie dough mix in a jar recipe that it came to me. I heard myself begging to have them let me hand embroider 20+ pieces of fabric to decorate the top of the mason jars. Now there was absolutely no need for elaborately embroidered covers for these jars. A little raffia and a printed out label were all they were going for. In the middle of this exchange I realized from the looks I was getting that I was going too far. But I needed to have something creative to do with myself or I'd go crazy. Really, it almost happened. Fortunately my mom and husband both realized I needed a hobby and my sanity was restored. They pushed me into knitting and from there I eventually moved to stitching, and from there to experimenting with wire and mini art quilts.

Yes, motherhood demands a lot of us, but if we don't keep some of that back for ourselves I believe we begin to feel lost. So I joined the ranks of mompreneurs and opened an etsy shop. Now, here is how I believe being a mother actually makes me a better artist and businesswoman. Once I became a mom I became much more assertive. Like a mother bear, if you mess with my family, I turn into someone the pre-mom me wouldn't even have recognized and that carries over into the other areas. I dared to start sending in magazine proposals and even a book proposal. I wouldn't have been able to assert myself like that before. I've also learned to make the most of the small moments. Pre-kid I would bemoan the fact that I didn't have enough time or energy after work to do anything substantive. Post- kid me thinks she was a whiner and you can find snatches in most any day to do something creative or to promote your business. Becoming a mother gives you multi-tasking skills like you wouldn't believe, and now I feel strange if I'm not working on several things at once.

I've also learned a lot about the completely underrated discipline of "sucking it up". As a mother you have to suck it up all the time. Planned on having a bath after dinner but your two-year-old now needs one instead? You suck it up. As an artist/business owner there is a lot of my job that I don't enjoy doing- like listing art. I love selling it but hate how tedious the process of writing descriptions, taking photographs, editing photographs, and going through the whole listing process is. Before, just the thought of that process would have paralyzed me. Although I just want to make stuff and sell stuff, I've learned that to be successful at that, there's a whole lot more I need to make myself pay attention to. So while other moms at the library are walking out with the latest bestseller or parenting guide, I'm struggling with a stack of books on guerilla marketing, social media, as well as several Dr. Seuss.

It's a different experience but one I wouldn't trade for anything. Being a mother and an artist, and a small business owner all go hand in hand sometimes in unexpected ways and it's such a joy when they intermingle. I listen to crafty podcasts while cooking dinner, I read marketing before bed, I blog with PBS kids playing in the background. Unexpectedly, the artist thing has come in very handy as a mother too. My son has the coolest handmade Halloween costumes, and when they need a mom to do a craft for a school party I'm there with t-shirts I hand-doodled robots on for the kids to color.

I know I'm not alone. There are moms I talk to every week who are realizing that they need to do more with their lives than just mother. Doing something creative or outside the mom realm gives them a sense of identity that might otherwise have become lost. They feel a little guilty about it, so I get to encourage them by telling them my truth. Which is that because I allow myself to create and plan a business and have aspirations for my art I'm actually better at being a mother. I'm not wrapping up my dreams and foisting them on my son. I don't live and die by his latest milestone achievement or lack thereof. I obsess less and enjoy it more. I hope they believe me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Relaxed Mind

My name is Marie Young. I believe everyone has a creative spark, but sometimes life pees on it. I write
a blog “Creative Sprinkle,” to help people reignite their spark. I find exploring the broader topic of
creativity helps me design for my online shop, Young Creative.

“A relaxed mind is a creative mind.”

This is my favorite quote on creativity. It is attributed to Yogi Bhajan, but I’m ashamed to admit that I
discovered it in a fortune cookie.
While I love this quote, “relaxed” is not my natural state of being. I am one of those task-oriented
people who work extremely well under a deadline. A relaxed mind was a foreign concept to me until

Those of you running a creative business while balancing a home life probably identify with the image
of a superwoman, flying from one cry for help to another, accomplishing amazing feats. It is a proud
banner to wear, yet it is also an exhausting one.

No question, we all have to get things done. The problem comes in when we live every day in high
production mode. A frenzied mind has a harder time coming up with fresh ideas. It is also far more
prone to burn-out.

There are two paths I routinely walk to find my relaxed mind: one that purges the mind and one that
stimulates it.

Purge the Mind
This where you take a break and clear your head, the closer to burn-out you are the longer the break
may need to be. Here are some of my favorite mind-purging activities.

1. Meditate: This can be as simple as sitting in your garden or staring into a fire. Start with 5

minutes and gradually increase the time.

2. Take a walk: Concentrate on your surroundings. If you mind wanders back to your to-do-list

gently redirect it.

3. Capture thoughts: Find a trusted way of capturing ideas and to-do-list items, so you can get

them down on paper and give your brain a break.

4. Clean: Physical clutter adds to mental clutter. Put on some lively music and clear those cluttered

thoughts away.

5. Fast: Take a short fast from social media and other mental energy zappers. Set aside social

media free times to give your brain a rest.
Simulate the Mind
Once your mind is calm, it becomes a powerful receptacle for new ideas. Stimulating your mind can help
you see things in a new light.

1. Seek new inspiration: Men’s ties provide great inspiration for my jewelry. Does something

outside of your specialty catch your eye? Is there something there that you can adapt?

2. Stimulate the senses: Essential oils are a good source for mental stimulation. A couple drops of

peppermint oil in a bowl of water near my workspace does wonders.

3. Take a mini retreat: When you feel open to some major brainstorming, arrange some dedicated

time for it. Sit in your special place and allow yourself to dream, sketch, and jot things down. No
computer and no distractions.

All of these suggestions are simple in theory, but it will take some patience on your part before
you see results. Start small and slowly add one or two into your routine and build up from there.

What techniques do you use to purge or stimulate your mind?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Inspiration

Rock & Roll Tin - Blue, originally uploaded by RenGalSA.

Submit your photos for consideration as a Weekly Inspiration by adding them to the Flickr Group.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spontaneous Serendipity

My name is Kaelin Cordis, and I love everything to do with metal. I feel very strongly that a piece of jewelry should be personally made, reflect a unique design, and preferably an abiding beauty. I really think that every person in the world who wears jewelry should own uniquely elegant pieces of jewelry without breaking their piggy-banks!" Kaelin is Mom of two, Metalsmith, Blogger, and Artist-Owner of Kaelin Design. Her work can be found at

When you run a business you will find hundreds of thousands of people telling you what to do to make your business successful. They will tell you all sorts of things like "Make a business plan with a flow chart and three appendices, and your business will have more success than you can measure."

Newcomer that I once was, I thought, "Okay- no problem. Paperwork I can handle." This didn't work for me for two reasons. First, I really don't like flow charts, and I hate appendices. Okay, to be more honest, I don't like paperwork in general, and my own personal paperwork in specific. Second, just because I have a plan doesn't mean it's going to work. The great military strategist, Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke, said "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy." The same holds true for business plans, I've found.

Ivory tower flow charts do not survive contact with real life. Go ahead, you can quote me. I won't mind.

Second piece of advice I came across was, "You just need to be organized! Then you can't help but be productive." Right brain artistic-type that I am, I do have a love for brightly colored or nicely decorative office supplies. So my files are color coded, and I have fifteen different colors of Sharpies in three different tip styles. Lots of fun, yes, prouctivity boosting, no. In fact, my lovely sculptural steel pen display cup in the shape of an Eiffel Tower actually had a layer of dust on it the last time I looked at it...

For some reason I seem to attract a wealth of unsolicited advice. Don't get me wrong- some of it's fabulous.... Most of it is not. I know I don't come across as clueless, and I don't generally go around soliciting advice, and yet, sometimes I have to wonder why I end up with all this well-intentioned flotsam given to me.

Third piece of advice I was given: "Write everything you need to do on a list, and cross it off as you get it done. This way you'll be motivated and get things done efficiently and on schedule." I wrote about my semi-nervous stress breakdown in response to that one...

So after all this well-intentioned advice, I've been seriously reviewing my so-called "action plan" for my business. What's worked for me, what hasn't, and where have I found the best response to my jewelry, and so forth. I am currently in six galleries at the moment, and I achieved that in less than a year. Two galleries came about from a very large fine art festival in which I participated last September. Two galleries came about because I was wearing my jewelry while I was otherwise shopping. Two more came about because they saw me participating in the forums on Etsy.

So looking strictly at the numbers, 67% of my gallery contracts came by Spontaneous Serendipity. In layman's parlance- without any input from me.

To be sure, I was prepared to follow up immediately on this interest. I carry boatloads of business cards with me at all times. I keep a printed wholesale catalog in my car. I always wear a piece of stunning jewelry.

But what about those contacts online? There I was, talking to people in the forums, trading information, and chit chatting about vacations, actually relaxing mind you, then- *poof*! More work than I could shake a stick at...

After the stress and utter failure of pre-planned business expansion, these kinds of results are, to me, a sign to relax. It's time to be spontaneous. To seize the moment. To not worry so much about the percentage of new visitors on my Google Analytics report!

I liken it to when I'm working on a new design. If I relax and keep myself open to spontaneous design changes, then my work flows as well- and I can create a new piece almost effortlessly. If I'm tense, or uninspired, and force the design, then my design comes out awkward and stilted. It's that simple.

I'm a small business owner in a company of one. I am bookkeeper, marketer, blog editor in chief, chief financial officer, materials co-ordinator, office manager, janitor, and... oh yeah- artist. I wear a lot of hats, and the responsibilities that I own are enough to make anyone break out in paperwork and action plans. But I love what I do. I love my work. I'm going to be spontaneous enough to allow the design that I'm producing here flow uninhibited. I have the utmost confidence that by leaving myself open to amazing, stupendous, and totally un-planned possibilities, that I will find the rewards fully beyond imagining.

Try it for yourself- what can you accomplish by letting go and following Spontaneous Serendipity?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekly Inspiration

fd-5b, originally uploaded by floydagain.

Submit your photos for consideration as a Weekly Inspiration by adding them to the Flickr Group.

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