Saturday, July 31, 2010

A quick & dirty photo tutorial...

I have been promising to write a "Photo for Dummies" type tutorial for ages now and here is a paired down version, FINALLY...

These tips are mostly for shooting jewelry or small objects.

1. Props; something that will enhance and not detract from the item you're shooting. Simple is best, in terms of color, texture and pattern. The item is the star of the photo, not the prop or the background.

Items I have found make good props/backgrounds:

Books, you can use the cover, or the inside pages

Large shells

Candle holders (like glass votive holders)

Small bowls

Decorative papers, but be careful that the pattern isn't too bold or busy.

2. Styling; creating a beautiful, interesting scene.

This is an important part of the photo shoot. Play around with different props and different background papers to find out which best suits the item. The more you do this the easier this will become. You will become familiar with which props lend themselves to which types of items, but it's all trial and error...

3. Lighting; NATURAL DAYLIGHT is best! Don't fight it. If you have access to natural daylight, use it. Set up a "table top" studio next to a window that gets lots of natural light. Because jewelry is small a large, simple window sill may also work. Direct sunlight is too harsh, I use a pre-cut section of facing (not the iron on kind!) and some strategically placed self adhesive hook and loop tape to hang this 'diffuser' in the window and soften the bright sunlight. You will also want to use a reflector of some sort to reflect light back onto your item. I use a white plastic storage box top. You can experiment with the reflector by looking through your camera viewfinder while holding the reflector in various positions. It's truly amazing the depth this extra step can add to a photo and this step should not be neglected.

4. Camera; You don't need to invest in a high-end, expensive camera! I use a very inexpensive point and shoot digital camera, a Canon SD1000, but most importantly it has a macro feature.

A tripod is also imperative if you want nice, focused shots. It's impossible to take a focused, macro shot without a tripod (at least I've never been successful!) I purchased a tripod for under $20.

Setting up your camera angle is just as important as styling your photos, so experiment with as many different angles as possible. Again, the more you shoot, finding the right angle gets easier, but it's always trial and error.

There are also ways to play with the focus of your photo. If you want the foreground in focus and the background blurry then you can use the little square in the center of your camera's screen to find the focus point (the focus point is at the center of this square, i.e. the center of the photo) to manipulate this you can move the camera so the square is centered on your chosen focus point, hold the shutter down half way, the camera will focus on that point, then, while still holding the shutter 1/2 way move the camera back to centering the item then take the photo. This also is a lot of experimentation and I didn't figure this out until about 6 months after I attempted taking photos of my jewelry.

A more detailed explanation of the above technique:

Your camera is on the tripod. You have your item centered in the photo where you like it. But, instead of focusing on the 'center' of the image you tilt the camera down (or up depending on where you want the focus) to center that little square icon (in the center of your screen) on the foreground portion of your item, THEN you hold the shutter 1/2 way down, once focused on that section you keep the shutter held 1/2 way down and you tilt the camera back to the original position then press the shutter fully to snap the photo. You can also focus on the background and have the foreground blurry....

If you have a white balance feature on your camera use it. This will save you some time in Photoshop or whichever photo editing program you use.

I can honestly say that if I can take good product photos ANYONE can! I have never taken a photography class (as I'm certain is evidenced by my tutorial) It took me approximately 6 months of experimenting with all of the above to get the quality of photos I'm capable of today, and I'm still learning and improving with each photo shoot.

P.S.-Don't expect stellar photos the first time around. You need to find your groove and that takes time and experience. Believe me, my first photos were dull to be kind.

A sad first attempt. Not bad, but not great either.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

And the winner is....

Fleur Earrings

The winner of the $100.00 Something Blue Shopping Spree is...

Drumroll please...

sarawithoutanh who wrote, "I am such a fan :)" 3/8/2010 @ 4:21pm

Congratulations sarawithoutanh! Please contact me at: before Monday, April 5th to claim your prize :)

And, as a small thank you to everyone who participated but didn't win, I am offering you (those of you who commented to enter the giveaway) a 15% discount in my shop from now until Sunday, April 4th! Just mention "giveaway" in the notes to seller during checkout and I will issue a 15% refund after payment is received. (kind of backwards, but that's the way Etsy works...)

Thank you!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Facebook Fan Giveaway!

Micro Golden Citrine Earrings

Now that the Something Blue Facebook Fan page has over 500 fans it's time to show all of you wonderful fans a little bit (well, actually a LOT!) of appreciation. So I've decided to host a fabulous giveaway and here's the scoop:

The Prize: A $100.00 (one hundred dollar!) Gift Certificate to be used in my Etsy Shop!

How to enter: Simply post a comment* here on my blog and you are automatically entered.

The Details: Giveaway runs through the end of March (ends March 31st at 11:59pm PST) *You may post only ONE comment. Multiple comments will be deleted. In order to qualify you must be listed as a fan on the Something Blue Facebook Fan Page. A winner will be determined by a random integer generator . The winner will be announced on April 1st, 2010 on the Something Blue Blog AND on the Something Blue Facebook Fan Page.

Good Luck!

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

An update...

I just wanted to pop in for a quick update....I have been working hard on that photography post and hope to have it up in the next couple of days. I apologize for the delay but hopefully it will be worth the wait!

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Virgo Medallion Necklace
25% off + FREE worldwide shipping throughout the store!

A great Labor Day weekend sale awaits you! This is the perfect time to do a little early Holiday shopping, but I bet you'll find something for yourself too...
25% off plus FREE worldwide shipping!
Don't wait! Visit my shop now...the sale ends
Monday, September 7th, 2009.
See you there!

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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Etsy Experiment Revealed!

Does renewing really work?

After reading several threads in the forums regarding renewing as a means to boost Etsy sales I decided I would do my own little experiment in my shop with renewing. I began this trial in March of 2009 and the experiment has been running now for almost a full 6 months. Many of the previous experiments I had read about in the forums were usually held for 1 week, sometimes a bit longer. But really not long enough, in my humble opinion, to garner an accurate, overall picture. (hence the extended time frame)

First let me explain the difference between listing, re-listing & renewing.

•Listing: Listing a new item for the first time. Cost -.20¢

•Re-listing: Listing an item that has sold which you want to sell again. Cost -.20¢

•Renewing: Listing an item that has already been listed in your shop and has not sold yet. Cost -.20¢

Here is how I conducted the experiment:

Begin date, March 8th 2009.

Number of sales, 86 (since opening my shop 9 months earlier on June 8, 2008)

I committed to renewing (along with listing & re-listing) a total of 5- 10 times per day. You can see the original post here: An Etsy Experiment where my initial goal was to run the experiment for 1 week and then report back. Well, as you can see 1 week has now become 25 weeks!
What I did: I kept copious notes... writing down the date, time and number of views the item had when renewing it. I would revisit my notes 24 hours later to see how many new views I was getting. (This was before craftcult offered this service!) I checked my Google Analytics* to see what times of day my Etsy shop had the most visitors and I started tweaking my renewing times to fit.

*How do you see what time visitors are viewing your shop?

Well, you will first need to set up a Google Analytics account, if you haven't already. It's a very simple process. Go to your Etsy Shop and under SHOP SETUP click on Web Analytics. Then click on Google Analytics and follow the steps. Once you have set up your account you will need to wait 24 hours before seeing any information.
Now that you have your GA account set up, log into your account. Under Dashboard click on Visitors, then Visitor Trending then Visits. On the right hand side of the page just below the date range it says "Graph by" and there is a clock symbol. Click on that and voila! You will now see visits by hour of the day withing the date range you have chosen.

The result: Items got more views when I started renewing items during my peak viewing times.

I experimented with renewing 3 items at once or one item at a time.

The result: One item at a time is better even if it's in succession. Whenever I renewed several items at once, at least one of those items would get no new views for several hours.

I don't work on weekends. At least I try not to. So, I don't renew much on the weekends, maybe 2-3 times at the most.

The result: My weekend sales are nearly non existent (now there's a big surprise!)

Once my experiment had been running for a few weeks I noticed I was being featured in a lot more treasuries, sometimes 5 at once!

The result: Since March 25th I have been in countless treasuries and have made the Front Page of Etsy 18 times! (3 times as an alternate) While I can't say how many more sales this has brought with any real accuracy, it has definitely helped. On my best 'Front Page day' I made 9 sales.

When I started the experiment on March 8th I'd already had 86 sales within my first 9 months. That's an average of about 9 sales per month. During the 6 months of this experiment I have made an additional 297 sales. Keep in mind, those sales were mostly during the summer months which are generally slower, sales wise, on Etsy.

The overall result: Sales in my shop have more than quadrupled and my average is now at about 42 sales per month. Take March out of the calculation and it's closer to an average of 47 per month.

Here is an actual breakdown of my sales & shop hearts by month since the experiment started:

March- 19 sales (15 of which were after my experiment began) • Hearts- 89, 4.6:1 hearts/sales ratio

April- 45 sales • Hearts- 102, 2.2:1 hearts/sales ratio

May- 47 sales • Hearts- 163, 3.4:1 hearts/sales ratio

June- 49 sales • Hearts- 238, 4.8:1 hearts/sales ratio

July- 44 sales • Hearts- 94, 2.1:1 hearts/sales ratio

August- 52 sales • Hearts- 182, 3.5:1 hearts/sales ratio

The bottom line? RENEWING WORKS. Even with low views. Even during "slow" months. Even while other sellers are lamenting their slow sales (or no sales). It works.

I once read the following quote in a marketing book and it has always stuck with me. "Not advertising or promoting is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know exactly what you're doing...but nobody else does."

Of course you must consider the price of the items you are renewing. If you are selling $3 cards or $1-$2 supplies (etc) then renewing may not be the best practice for you and in that case I would stick with listing & re-listing as a means to garner more sales.

Now, before you run over to your shop and start renewing items willy-nilly you need to have a few things in place first. Otherwise all that renewing will be a colossal waste of time & money. And we don't want that, now do we?

Here is my 'to do' list before you begin your renewing campaign: (and it's not long, I promise!)

1. You have heard this one oh-so-many times before but it's THE number one, most important piece of the Etsy success puzzle. PHOTOS . They must be great. This means great lighting, great composition, interesting, eye catching & intriguing photos. If your photos aren't really good make them better.

HA! I can already hear the collective groan. Look, it took me at least 4 months of constant shooting several times per week before I was happy with my photos. I have absolutely no background in photography and believe me, I understand the frustration because I have been there (and sometimes still am). But this is not something that can be ignored. Since joining Etsy over a year ago I now have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'm more than willing to share with you. And I will. I'll be posting a photo tutorial someday*...think of it as ~Product Photography for Dummies~ (no offense)

*Update: the tutorial has been posted!
Here it is

2. Make sure your shop is in order. Do some spring cleaning if you need to. Re-shoot those photos, again. Make sure your shop policies, and profile are all filled in, make sense and are cheery and user friendly. Fine tune your shop announcement. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Choose eye catching photos as your featured items and change them at least weekly to keep your shop looking fresh. If you have a large inventory be sure to have shop sections which make it a lot easier for a buyer to navigate your shop quickly and effectively.

3. If your banner doesn't capture the essence of your shop and what you offer, make a new one. Or hire one the the many, talented graphic artists on Etsy to make one for you. (I did!) They are very reasonable and it's well worth the investment to have a great looking banner. Think of your banner the same way you would a store sign or even a display in a shop window. I don't know about you, but when I'm walking down the street and I see a beautiful, (or cute, or clever, etc) shop sign or window display, it makes me want to pop inside and see more...this is what your banner should be doing for your Etsy shop as well. And the same goes for your avatar.

4. Is your shop well stocked? Do you offer a variety of items, styles and colors? A variety of price points? Look around and see what your shop is missing. Try to see it through the eye of a buyer. If you see any gaps, fill them. For example if you make bath & body products can you offer your most popular scents in a room spray or a solid perfume? If you create jewelry do you offer a matching bracelet and earrings to your most popular necklace design? You get the idea. Maximize your opportunity to turn a browser into a buyer.

O.K. you are now ready to renew your way to more sales! But, keep in mind the sales don't start pouring in on day one. Don't get discouraged! Think of it as a snowball effect. The more you renew the more you are seen. The more people that see you the more likely you will make a sale and/or be chosen for treasury. The more treasuries you are in the higher your chances are of making it to the Front Page. The more often you are on the Front Page the more people see you, buy from you, heart you etc. This includes people who write blogs who may even offer to feature you (for free). And the list goes on and on and on...

Once you get started I would suggest you keep notes, at least in the beginning. This will give you valuable insight and assist you in refining YOUR renewing strategy. And please, don't renew for one day or 1 week and then give's not going to work that way. Your snowball will melt and you will be left sitting in a soggy puddle.

Good luck! Please write to me and let me know how it's going. I would love to hear your experiences and if I can offer any advice I would be happy to.

Oh, and one more little tip. Change your shop announcement daily. This puts you at the top of the Shop Local list :)

Update: As of this posting my Virgo Medallion Necklace is featured in the Shades of Sapphire Gift Guide! No doubt a result of renewing. I know this because I just renewed that item VERY early Monday morning (and at that time I was not in any Gift Guides)...and now I am :)

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Bright Side Project Giveaway!
"August is Sugar, Sugar month!

I am pleased to announce {and so honored to be included!} that the The Bright Side Project is featuring Something Blue this month and hosting a really fantastic giveaway donated by yours truly. In order to win all you need to do is answer a simple question (I'm not going to tell you what it is, you'll have to find that out by visiting the site!) Submissions will be accepted until September 7, 2009 at which point I will read every submitted answer and choose the lucky winner on September 8th. I am so looking forward to reading everyone's responses... I can barely contain my excitement!

So, pop on over to The Bright Side and check out all the great giveaways they're hosting this won't be disappointed!

P.S.- Daily Candy describes the site and it's mission perfectly here: Mrs. Brightside

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