Posting Schedule

Monday - Design Inspiration
Tuesday - Tips to Know
Wednesday - Website Know-How
Thursday - End of Week Inspiration
Friday - Freebie
Saturday - Weekly Wrap-up

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ophelia's Apothecary Inspiration

Why, oh why, you ask ... was I doing so well at keeping up with the daily posting schedule until sometime last week when things just went poof? I had a huge amount of exposure which has left me stumbling to keep up, and have been working extra late trying to convert all my original files for everything from jewelry display tags to business cards to fit the new cutter plotter - which is working so beautifully! - and then, late last week, in the middle of a big print run, we noticed that there were actually circles being embossed into the paper.

So. Busy? Yup. And trying very hard not to let my frustrations affect others. To all my customers: yes, I'm running a little behind. I'm dedicated to providing you the highest quality possible, so please bear with me.

On the positive side, that huge exposure thing. I was listed in the Etsy Storque as one of the "Top 10 Graphic Designs to Give Your Shop the Edge". How cool is that?! And to make it a double-whammy pleasing thing, there were actually a few comments from past customers that praised me for being "insanely talented" and providing "top notch customer service". I'm honored, and humbled, and still so excited that it's serving as my own brand of inspiration this week.

But on to the real thing ...

Ophelia’s Apothecary -

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to go about making your shop look pro from start to finish, Ophelia’s Apothecary is a prime candidate.

First hitting her store, you’re met with a classic “grunge” banner that is immediately reminiscent of “days of old”. Scrolling down, this old-timey feeling is only enhanced by a combination of absolutely stunning photography (stunning because of its simplicity), and products that are packaged in the same great classic apothecary feel.

Ophelia’s Apothecary labeling uses very minimal art, relying heavily on classic old-typewriter fonts to convey the feeling she wants to carry through her work. Seriously inspirational – what we can all take away from it is that beginning with an idea of the atmosphere we want to create, we can brand our entire shop and products in a clearly cohesive, professional way.

Posted by Lolaness

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

August Trends for Indie Businesses

Do you ever get to look at the people you work with, the projects you work on, and feel truly blessed? Today was busier than ever - at 10 pm I'm just now stopping the packaging of products that were finished printing today - but I also got to sit back and look at my work and my co-conspirators and think ... I've been blessed.

I'll give a quick sneak peek at the "Coming Soon" page for a woman I'm working with who is truly a wonderful lady, whose products are beautiful, and whose determination is inspiring: Warm and Fuzzy Baby.

As we approach August, we approach a seasonal shift that can mean a lot in terms of how we can best present and sale our products. Thoughts of Autumn start creeping in sometime in August, but this tends to be the hottest month of weather for most of the states. This really is a unique time to capture trends and it allows Indie Businesses to play up the best of summer while preparing for cooler fall temperatures.

Whether your small business is focused on handmade clothing, artistic lines of jewelry, or paper goods, there are some specific trends for you to keep an eye on that will prepare you to make the most of your August sales.

Associated Content just published my article on the topic - there's honestly some information here you don't want to miss. Check out the full August Trends for Indie Businesses article. Leave me a comment there or here to let me know what you think, and what you think should be added to the advice :)

Posted by Lolaness

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tweet Heart Art Inspiration

What a Monday. I've more projects lined up than I've ever had before, for which I'm so grateful - especially to all of you who are repeat customers, which just makes me feel wonderful, like I'm really doing something right.

I missed the weekend wrap-up again, but let's look at it this way ... there will be three weeks' goodies to show off this Saturday! And I'm really looking forward to some of the other things I get to share with everyone this week. I hope it's off to a fabulous start for you!

Tweet Heart Wall Art -

Vinyl wall art is just way too cool, on so many levels. I love the fact that it can easily be changed up, but I also absolutely adore that it doesn’t require any toxic paints or materials that will need to be discarded in a very specific manner to have the least environmental impact.

Who thought art could be so eco-friendly?

And on an inspirational level, Tweet Heart Wall Art has it in spades. Her designs are full of clean lines, retro-inspired motifs, and too-cute modern decals like chic chandeliers and sweet silhouettes.

There’s also something to be learned from her shop catalog images. Every single one offers an “in-place” look at her artwork, helping you to visualize how it might actually look inside your own home. This creates an easy-flowing line of products that you can really get into without feeling like you’re dealing with an amateur.

Posted by Lolaness

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fabulous Feature & Friday Freebie

Does it get any cooler than having your work featured in someone's blog? Sure it does! When it's a fellow EcoEtsy Team Member's blog, the honor is double. My Etsy store was featured in Planet Playground's blog today (her eco-friendly Etsy shop can be found here) and I'm all kindsa proud. Thank you, Kristen, for such a wonderful end-of-week gift!

And I've got a gift for all of you ...

I'm an absolute book addict. In my family, though, I'm not alone. At this very moment, there are 5 books on the end of the coffee table. Two of them I've read, three of them my husband's read, and we're trading off. The one thing we're always running short on, though, is bookmarks.

And don't even consider trying to borrow a book - we've all learned the painful lesson that books either never come back or never come back the same. So we horde them, double-deep and stacked on top, in four (at the moment) book cases. Yup. Kinda ridiculous, but we're happy with the arrangement.

So when I was trying to come up with an idea for what sort of graphical goodie I could share this week, I (honestly) glanced over at the husband who was tearing a corner off of a receipt to mark his place in his latest read. Ah-ha! A book lover's set!

This week's freebie is a PDF that contains:
  • 4 Book Plates (maybe we can start lending books out again!)
  • 2 (3/4 size) Bookmarks
  • 2 Corner Bookmarks
You can download the PDF here at my favorite file sharing spot (it's free, I promise, and no you do not have to have an account). It's a fully editable PDF so you can type your info right in all nice and neat before you even print.

Here's a preview of my own finished product. I rounded off the corners of the 3/4 size bookmarks and the book plates, and added eyelets and ribbon to the bookmarks. To make it all thick, I re-purposed a white cardboard shipping envelope. Very nice, if I do say so myself!

Posted by Lolaness

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inspirational Journal - DIY!

I realize my posts have been very short this week, for which I apologize. I've got my nose to the grindstone trying to pull together all the projects on my project list as well as master the new cutter plotter and getting a series of 30+ new products finalized that wouldn't have been possible without the new cutter. And I'm still dealing with the pain of extracted teeth ... who knew it could be so painful?

But I've got a treat today! A brand-new End-of-Week Inspiration that I actually stayed up past midnight working on for no reason other than it was so much fun. I can already see a series of goodies being spawned from this project that will make it into back-to-school baskets for my daughter and nieces ...

I seriously struggled trying to come up with some great, creative, catchy name for this week’s End of Week Inspiration … but here it is. Not clever, but definitely to the point: The Any Theme Notebook.

The idea behind this notebook is that you can make it become anything. Cut out 12 tabs to create a divider for each month of the year and fill the pages with journal entries or project notes. Divide the tabs into categories like “Beverages”, “Cakes & Cookies”, and “Entrees”, and you have a very cool place to jot down your favorite recipes.

For myself, it came down to the need to have something inspiring to keep my ideas in. Inspiring is the key, because when it’s late at night after a long day of creating beautiful pieces for other people, taking care of two large dogs and two insane cats, a child who is more-or-less sane most days, a loving husband, and everything else a work-at-home mom does … well, it makes it nice to have something honestly inspiring to open up and write in.

I've combined the printable templates and all the instructions into a PDF file that can be downloaded as a PDF here, or in a ZIP here. It's a free download, you don't need an account, it is simply a site that allows me to share files without using up precious space.

When you come up with a cool idea - or figure out a unique theme - please feel free to share it in the comments. I'd love to see what everyone does with the idea, I just think it has so much fun potential. Here's a few sneak peeks of my own finished product, created specifically for keeping crafting, graphic, and product inspirations and resources quick at hand:

Posted by Lolaness

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Whether you’re considering your first website, a new website, or are looking into redesigning a current website, make sure that your designer is up-to-date with the most relevant technology that can really make a difference in your Search Engine Rankings.

CSS is hugely important for any type of static site, and is used almost exclusively in layouts for dynamic sites powered by WordPress or Joomla, for example. What it does is take out all the unnecessary “coding” from the content of your website, plops it into its own place, and lets search engines read what you’ve written, not what your design is putting out.

This is an important subject, but one that is better explained in an article – which I’ve done, here.

Posted by Lolaness

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Break Into the Blogosphere

If there’s anything better than free advertising, it’s free advertising that comes with a glowing review. The best place to see it in action is on blogs – especially ones run by indie business owners and groups of people who just plain love the indie spirit.

When you find your company or a product that you offer being featured on a blog, something very important happens beyond the whole glowy “yay me!” feeling that you get (which you do, every time). The most important thing that happens is that your work is being viewed by a dedicated audience who trusts the blogger, and the blogger’s opinions on the quality of your work can being in a surge of traffic.

Getting that first placement on a blog is the main thing, and can be the most difficult and scary one. Start out by looking to your colleagues. If you’re a member of any group, see if a group member has a blog and would be willing to feature you. Reach out to blogs that you read avidly, dropping the owner a quick line saying that you’d like to be considered for a feature or review.

And then there’s the do-it-yourself route to getting your foot wedged in the door.

Two sites in particular, and, allow you to create an account and start submitting ideas for featuring. NOTCOT is a fantastic one, with a beautiful look to its layout that really drives a lot of visitors if your ideas are approved. Coolhunting, on the other hand, has a complete section for “Reader Finds” that are picked up automatically from their group feed. The great thing about ThisNext posting (where you actually post the ideas you want to appear on Coolhunting) is that you can easily click a button to share your “find” on your Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace pages as well as send it via email to friends and family.

Take a few minutes to think about where your products would look best on blogs, make sure your photography and wording is first-rate, and start submitting. You can find an Etsy Storque article that expands on this subject, written by Liz and Kegan from, here.

Posted by Lolaness

Monday, July 13, 2009

miss chief Inspiration

Today's one of those Mondays that absolutely can't fail to be inspiring. It simply has to be. As a few people I'm working with knows, I went through 2 emergency tooth extractions last week and have been pretty loopy from pain and pain killers most of the week.

So today's one of those big ones where I hope to be able to work through several projects and create something of beauty...

miss chief -

You’ve gotta love this shop right down to its clever name. Specializing in 1” buttons and magnets, scrolling through the shiny little round beauties is an inspiring treat for the eyes.

A buffet of circles, each deliciously embellished with tasty colors and really scrumptious images.

Seriously, there’s not a lot to say but that this is one inspiring little shop simply because of the wide variety of shimmering, tasteful, and floral patterns all displayed in neat little groupings that can keep you staring at the graphics themselves for a good bit.

Just plain nice, if there’s any one specific tip we can take away from miss chief’s shop is that specializing in a small niche group of products can yield huge benefits in keeping a shop looking professional, and reach out to a dedicated audience.

Posted by Lolaness

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twitter & Website Marketing

So it's Wednesday, and I technically don't show off my week's goodies until the weekly wrap-up ... but this one is just too good! And, really, it could tie into today's topic because having a consistent look from website to blog is really great marketing in and of itself.

Presenting: The Posh Parent, and The PoshPreneur - finally finished the design up for both pieces and oh boy are they too cute! I'm loving it. The owner is a truly fantastic lady, always so much fun to work with, so I'm doubly happy to be showing these off early.

Now ... for the actual Website Know-How :)

I resisted the pull of Twitter for a very long time. I held out long past its “shiny newness” and still had myself convinced that Twitter was of no practical use to me. Then, I realized something important: it’s really hard to figure out what a person is doing when their activities are spread across a number of websites.

Great. So Twitter finally became something that I just might want to use. I felt like I was joining the dark side for digital cookies as I slowly, key-by-key, registered my account.

Now, I’m not the greatest tweeter yet. I’ve still got some serious work to do, like making my page look a bit more unique and actually getting in the habit of tweeting stuff. But I must admit that it has already become a marketing tool that I can see will, eventually, become invaluable to me.

If you’re still resisting the urge to join Twitter, or are completely confused as to what worth it actually offers your business, it basically comes down to this: With a couple of lines, you can keep family, friends, customers, and colleagues up-to-date on anything you’re doing.

How many ways does this come in handy? Countless ways – seriously.

  • In an upcoming post, “Breaking into the Blogosphere”, you’ll see how you can offer your products as pretty little previews on some blogs and immediately tweet about their existence.
  • Any time you launch a new product line, or post a new item or service, go ahead and share it on your Twitter page for some free advertising!
  • Been published or reviewed on another website? Let everyone following you know about it and share the URL.
The real trick is to never come to think of Twitter as a chore or a task taking up space on your already long to-do-list. Incorporate Twitter into your daily habits, and install plug-ins like TwitterBar for Firefox that will help you tweet often and easily.

There is a truly fantastic article that expands on this topic at 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.

Posted by Lolaness

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Product Photography

I'm taking a break, greedily looking forward to the new cutter plotter that should be arriving via FedEx any moment now. This is so huge, in ways I can't even begin to describe. Let me just say that aside from the press-printed pieces I've done to this point, you've never seen precision quality the way this one ... enormous ... little machine will offer. And my husband can stop having nightmares. Definitely a bonus.

Like the gorgeous keepsake locket above? Me too! I'm drooling all over it, and it was made by a fellow EcoEtsy member LakeEerieBeachGlass to boot! Check it out here, and keep reading for some ideas on how you can make your own product photography just as striking.

Quick experiment: take one full page of a specific type of product you sell and really study the pictures. Note everything about them. Now, quickly, run to a “commercial” catalog that sells something similar and run a search for your type of product. Again, look at the pictures. Notice anything?

There’s no difference in a high-quality product handcrafted and sold from your own home (except that it’s likely to be better for you!) and a product sold by the commercial catalogs. Perception is the key, and photography is where it happens.

Photographing inanimate objects and turning them into something truly worthy of display is a difficult task. But it is one that everyone can do – with a little bit of experimentation.

Step One: Play with Backgrounds – Don’t settle for spreading your beloved product out across your couch or floor. Instead, think creatively. There’s a reason that you can now find hundreds of earring shots taken dangling from a green apple. When that stock photo came out, it was so stunning that people couldn’t help but take it for their own use. The thing you’ll find most useful is to look to “nature” for perfect backgrounds. If your product is at home outside, take it outside and see how it looks framed by leaves, or peeking out of fresh green grass. Jewelry tends to look stunning against “foodie” backgrounds like fruit, coffee beans, rice, and nature backgrounds like twigs and sand or shells.

Step Two: Play with View – Nothing says anywhere that to have a good product shot you have to fit the whole product in the frame. Yes, you will need at least one good photo of the whole product, but is that necessarily the best way to capture attention? Not usually.
Instead, focus on specific aspects of your product that really stand out. Pull the frame in tight and snap away. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this one step can transform the way you do product photography – for the better.

Step Three: Lighten it Up – This step is actually two steps in one. First, think obviously and add some more light to your shot. The best product shots are full of light, with no strange darkness hiding behind the product or creeping in from the corners. You might find that this is most easily done outdoors on a sunny day, or you can experiment with adding light sources to your setting, just out of camera range.

Second, think not so obviously. How many things are going on in your photo? Lighten up the scene by removing all the heavy “extra” stuff. At most, the ideal product shot will contain three things: the background, the product, and a highlight. This highlight usually comes in the foreground (leaves or flowers hanging closer to the camera than the product and background, for example). Beyond these three things, nothing else should be in the photo. Your product needs to remain the focus.

Posted by Lolaness

Monday, July 6, 2009

Badbird Inspiration

Last Monday I managed to post very early ... this Monday, I'm barely getting it in before midnight. It was a great day - check out the Boutique Preview for a sneak peek.

Badbird’s Art & Embroidery Patterns -

Inspiration?! Totally! We’re talking prints (from greeting cards to frame-ables) that splash gorgeous cool colors across your visual senses with delicious delicacy, and a series of printable embroidery patterns that really had me going.

I’m absolutely in love with the clean lines of everything created in this shop. The lines themselves, in every piece of art and every embroidery pattern, are actually quite bold – they stand out in ways that some art can’t handle. What balances it so perfectly are the color choices, a palette of colors that remains consistent throughout every page on Badbird’s shop.

That consistent color palette thing is something I’ve tried to stress a lot – to more or less success – to any crafter who will listen. If you peek through the pages, you’ll notice that you immediately feel your eyes smoothly sliding from one image to the next. There is no jarring shock because each image in line is so extremely different in format, color, and size.

Consistency like this is the mark of a true professional and inspiring on its own merits.

Posted by Lolaness

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up: Printing & Design

My sweet, loving family may soon be hating my choice of career. Seriously. My husband woke up during the week with a terrible nightmare about having to use the paper cutter to cut stars, and is now eyeing the contraption as if it was originally designed to be a torture device. My daughter takes things much more in stride, happily telling me how it's easier to keep going if you just keep talking ... and talking ...

In short, it was a busy week. After making my post last month about pricing and how badly I was actually losing money doing the work I do, I've gone through everything from inside-out and while I still have several things to implement, I'm feeling much better about the situation. In fact, there are a series of about 30 new, unique products set to come out in the next few weeks.

Yup. 30.

And I've got a brand new cutter plotter arriving on Tuesday so that I can get all the gorgeous prints out the door much more quickly - and with machine precision cuts, too. This will be awesome on all the products that aren't press-printed, which are growing rapidly.

While my camera is still MIA (how do you lose one of your most prized possessions?), I'm hoping to have some actual pictures up in the near future ... it's great to have family willing to loan you a camera when you need it, even if the picture quality isn't the best.

So, a quick rundown on projects for the week:

1. Bella Baby - I got the chance to check out the products being sold by Bella Baby before I even started on the project, and I was excited. Adorable little hair clippie cards and single-fold hang tags were the result, created to match Bella Baby's existing look. The color combos are fantastic!
2. Sunsong Designs - A newly created business, this project was for a logo set of recycled stickers. The finished design is just stunning, and turned out beautifully striking because of the color patterns that seriously jump out.

3. Katy Cornelius - This is one of the most dramatic designs I've had the chance to do so far. Based on the Build-Your-Own Dark Spark cards, Katy wanted something geared toward her work as an on-set chef. So much fun! This one involved Thank You cards, business cards, and promotional teas created from 100% organic hand blends that she can give to her customers. A great lady to work with, and with her eye for detail I can just imagine what a fantastic job she does!

4. Maxine 50 - An elegant little Etsy Trio (shop banner, avatar, and custom order graphic), I love how soft and almost magical this set looks.

5. Anti-Aging Medi-Docs - I have to admit that my original concept for this logo included a splashing bouquet of white daisies with purple centers peeping out the top, but a simpler look was wanted. The colors are just too cool, and the final look is clean.

In addition to the fully completed projects, I've been working steadily on 3 different Custom Etsy Kits, a new logo for one of my EcoEtsy team mates, putting final touches on a set of business cards, and am gearing up for some more Custom Etsy Kits this week along with a couple new print orders. Ahhhh it will be fantastic to put the new time-saving toys to use!

Posted by Lolaness

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Buying a Website

Taking a quick and very late lunch break (an hour from supper, what would that be called? linner? lupper? sunch?), I decided to take a minute to put in my post for the day.

Some serious progress today - sticker sets have been printed, a hang tag and hair bow display set has been printed and assembly is started, and the drafts of designs for several people, including a fantastic lady that does cooking on-set are just waiting approval ... so the only preview I can give just yet is the one above, which is a small glimpse of the striking design to be used on the cook's business cards, thank you cards, and organic teas.

Ohhh that camera better show up before Saturday!

Several weeks ago, I promised to share the link to a full article I’d written for a company I publish with on the subject of buying a website, what’s involved, what it costs, and how to get the very best.

I’m late sharing it, but the article has been posted (all 6 pages of it!):

Seriously, this is a hugely important topic. If you have a business of any sort, you absolutely must have a website. More and more, it’s becoming the standard mark of a “professional”. It’s also absolutely important to know what you can expect before even getting started purchasing your own website. There are, unfortunately, plenty of scammers out there who would love to take your money and run.

Even if you operate from a physical storefront or office location and never sell a single item on the Internet, having a website that offers contact details and your basic list of products and/or services will help locals find you in ways you might never have expected.

Often, what stops people from jumping right in is the uncertainty. What is involved in buying and setting up a website? How much will it all cost, and is there any kind of guarantee? What will I have to do, and what will I have to learn to do it?

As with most things that worry us at first, the answers to the questions aren’t as difficult as they seem. Go ahead and take a few minutes to check out the full guide on what to expect – and what to look for – as you embark on the journey of a business home online.

Posted by Lolaness

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What’s it Worth to You?

What a fantastic Tuesday - I've got some great ones to show off this Saturday during the weekly wrap-up! Still struggling through all the rooms in my house, searching in vain for my digital camera that has apparently gone MIA ... driving me crazy, with some of the beautiful new printed items that are coming out and I can't even show them off!

Anyway. So yeah, long design day, a break to run the hubby to an appointment, more design, and I'm finally stopping work now and moving water around the garden doing little happy dances looking at how big the cabbage and tomatoes are getting.

Today's Tuesday Tip is one that comes from the heart, and one that since I've begun putting it into use (finally following my own advice) I've already seen the rewards of. Phwew! So seriously, take a few minutes to look it over and see what you can take away from it to apply to your own business practices.

Recently, I asked for feedback on pricing my items. The question that I was asked in return most often was, “How do you price your items in the first place?” … and I had to admit that I’d been preaching something I hadn’t practiced: going beyond the numbers.

Granted, it’s been more than a year and a half since I wrote my “What to Charge for Your Etsy Products” article, but when I was asked how I priced my products, I was finding myself constantly ashamed to admit that I hadn’t even bothered following my own advice. And it’s good advice. It’s worked for lots of people. I’d somehow fallen into this whole, “We’re in an economic slump, so I really want to be as fair as possible to my customers” thing that wound up – literally – costing me so much money that I wasn't only not earning a profit, but I was putting myself in the hole.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to charge double profit. But there is one thing that I’d like you to keep in mind when you’re pricing your products: never undercharge yourself.

When you set a price on your products, it says something about what you make or represent. The price is, literally, the first indicator of value to a customer. Think about the last time you were checking out a new printer. On the one hand, we know that the $30 inkjet that prints the same number of pages in color as quickly as the $120 one aren’t all that different. Something else tells us, though, that you’re going to get a better quality, longer lasting printer at the higher price. The packaging of the high price printer really focuses on this, too, pitching the quality and uniqueness of its technology.

So it’s about perception. But it’s also about self-worth. You need to think about what your creativity and time are worth, and charge appropriately.

Here’s an exercise taken directly from the Etsy Storque that can get you going:<

Imagine if you will, a complete stranger asks you to create an item (something you currently sell in your shop). That’s not all, they want you to photograph, list and promote this item as well. Whew! “Is that all?” you ask. No, they have one more request: package that item, print a shipping label and drop it off at the post office. Now imagine they want you to do all this for the price you currently have this item listed for in your Etsy shop. Would you do it happily? Would you grumble? Would you deny this task altogether? Reality check: it’s up to you to determine the value of your time and efforts. Make sure you take a step back from your work and your prices and look at it from all angles.

Posted by Lolaness

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