Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Funday

The end of the weekend! I'm loving working a normal, Monday-Friday, schedule. That consistency in my life makes all the difference! Did everyone have a good weekend?

Today I'm enjoying the new music video for The Faint. They are probably my favorite band to see live. I especially love the term "dance punks" because it is 100% accurate. Their music makes you want to dance and jump around! My all-time favorite song is Fulcrum and Lever. So good.


Portland weather is giving us a break today. Being from the desert, I kind of laugh in the face of everyone complaining about 90 degree weather but it does suck when you don't have an AC! Looks like we might get some rain today. At least the sun isn't out! Nathan & I tried to go to the Mississippi Street Fair yesterday but we quickly realized/remembered how much we hate walking around in the heat.


My only other plan for today is to hang out of OfficeMax printing new stationery designs! I've got some pretty cute writing paper, some stationery sets and envelopes to print out. My mom also became my best customer on Etsy so I have to print out a few things for her order!


And Netflix, I'm always watching Netflix! Here are the movies I watched over the weekend.
Out of the Furnace, I Do, Black Rock, My Cat from Hell (omg this show), The River Why, The Missing, Homefront.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Product Photos

 
One of my favorite things is taking product photos. I love staging the items! Stationery photos can be kind of dull and hard to spice up but I think I have a good process now. It's always improving though! It seriously can take me all day to take all the photos I want but it is so worth it to have a nice, uniform Etsy shop.

I went from having a shop page that looked like this:



To this:


What does it take?

Take pictures on a sunny day, in a well-lit area. The first photos I took were done at night, with a very terrible lamp as my only light source. I did my best to lighten them up in Photoshop but, as you can see, that didn't work very well! With these first photos, I was impatient and just want to get my shop up and running. I work during the day so the only opportunity I have to take great photos is on my days off. It's limiting but worth the wait.

Be consistent. It makes things easier! All of my product photos are staged with postage stamps that fit the product's color scheme. I know exactly what photos I'll be taking and in what order. It also makes editing much easier as you don't have to sort through a billion photos looking for the right one!

Decide on your background. It's popular opinion on Etsy that all product photos should be on a white background but there are certain things that just look great on other backgrounds, or in other situations. I wanted to keep my stationery on a white background as I wanted them to be able to stand out. I use a 12x12 piece of white piece of paper as my background. No fancy light boxes here!

Staging. I think it's pretty fun to add some extra elements to your photos but it certainly isn't necessary. Some things look natural and others don't so you just have to experiment. My first photos featured the same postage for every envelope. I realized that I like to pick out stamps that match the stationery. Plus it's fun to dig through my stamp collection! An important thing to remember with staging is that the focal point of your image should be your product! You should reconsider the photo if the first thing you look at in the photo is whatever you used to spice it up.

Editing. I'm not big on photo manipulation at all but there is a time and a place for it. With my photos, I always crop them (because, duh) and lighten up the shadows a bit. Below you can see my before and after product photos.



Do you have any tips or tricks for product photos?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Recovering


Thursday night I hopped on a plane and arrived in Vegas after a couple of hours. It was nice to arrive at night, even though it was still about 100 degrees. (yuck)



Being in Las Vegas is always very uneventful for me because I am just there to visit family, maybe some friends if I have the time. I've never been interested in hanging out on The Strip as I absolutely hate being in crowded areas and maneuvering around tourists that don't understand the concept of walking is honestly the worst.


Being around my family is The Best though. And having a pup in my life for a few days makes me a happy lady. My mom's dog is such a snuggle monster. He is adorable and a little dumb. He is the type of dog that will plop his head on you and wait for pets.


Our flight was delayed coming back to Portland and we got home around midnight last night. Unfortunately I had to be up at 6:30 this morning so I am tired today!

PS: My business cards were waiting for me in my mailbox when we got back! I'm so excited to start handing them out!
 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Holiday

I am counting down the hours until tomorrow evening. At 9 PM tomorrow, I will be in Vegas! I'm finally working at a place where I get holidays off. It worked out well that July 4th lands on Friday, as I have Saturday & Sunday off normally. Hooray for quick trips to visit family! I'm very excited to go home and hang out with my mom's dog.

To celebrate the holiday and all things red, white & blue, I created a silly collage for you guys! Admittedly, I don't have many 4th of July-themed images so this is a bit thrown together, haha. It's a bit weird in a good way! It's a stare-off between eagle and man. Feel free to click and download.

Tonight I'm rushing to get everything packed as I have to leave right from work tomorrow. I'm also cleaning up my apartment so I don't have to come home to a messy place. Does anyone else do this? I'm only going to be gone for a few days but I absolutely hate coming home to full trash cans and a dirty apartment!

Do you have any fun plans for this weekend?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Startup


I never really thought about how much work it would be starting my Etsy shop. I was under the impression I would upload a few items, see how they do and go from there. The more work I did, the more I realized how I much I want to take this seriously. I get a kick out of my brand and I love the collages I do.

Today I started working on, and finished!, my business card. And I'm absolutely in love with it. I used Vistaprint as they are incredibly inexpensive and offer free shipping. I'm so excited to hold the rad cards in my hand and start handing them out.

Of course, there is always time for some fun! Last night I danced my heart out to The Thermals. It was my first time seeing them live and it was amazing!! I had tickets to see them when I lived in Rhode Island but we ended up moving the weekend of the show. Oops.

I also bought the paper cutter of my dreams. It is a beast! It took some getting used to as it seemed that the cuts were a bit off. I think I have it figured out though. Now I just need to find space for it. Our apartment is getting cozier and cozier the longer we stick around.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Official


The other night I designed a very '90s, very Lisa Frank inspired envelope. The colors of it just remind me of being a kid and the cat's face is killing me. Cats are silly creatures. The whole internet might be pro-cat but I'm just not impressed with them.

I've been really into sending quality mail lately. It's super easy to stray away from packing an envelope full of random paper bits, weird stickers, zines and other oddities. I find that the more things I stuff into an envelope, the more I fall in love with sending mail. I love making a connection through random bits of paper or a weird image. Plus, who wants to open an envelope with just a letter inside? Even if you find that everything included is completely worthless, it's still super fun to poke through the items that were sent to you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Incoming & Outgoing

I feel like I have been the worst pen pal this year! I've been sick twice, switched jobs and started spending time focusing on digital collages & my business. Luckily I have some pretty awesome & patient pen pals!


Mary sent me this cute letter full of confetti and other neat bits. Either she forgot to put postage on it or it came off during transit. It arrived in my mailbox with a nice little circle where the postage should've been! I'm thinking the USPS gods are in my favor because I did not have to pay any postage due!


I can always count on Miss Mermeg to send me the best mail. She glued a bunch of envelopes together and filled each one with rad things.


I participated in a little zine trade over on Etsy. I'm excited to receive the zine being sent to me! I haven't had any new zines to read in ages.


 Tomorrow I head downtown to drop off my stationery at Crafty Wonderland. I'm so excited to have my sets in their store!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I Learned About Starting An Etsy Shop

This past weekend I decided to officially open an Etsy shop. I've always considered it and even attempted to open one before to sell buttons. Yeah, just buttons. Obviously that didn't go anywhere. I never took it seriously and I had the worst pictures you could possibly imagine. I think at that time, I was still using my digital camera that had taken a little swim in a lake. I couldn't adjust any of the settings and there were permanent water spots on every photo. I'll let you take a moment to just picture what that Etsy shop looked like.


This time around I wanted to take things a bit more seriously. I want people to be inspired by what I have to offer. I want them to see my envelopes and that makes them want to write a letter. As I'm just going through the process of opening my shop and putting the final touches on everything, I thought I would share what I've learned so far!


Understand your mission. Why do you want to open an Etsy shop? Everyone wants to make money doing what they love. Why would people want to spend money on what you love and have to offer? I've always been complimented on my mail art but I never took myself seriously. And, let's be honest, it would be a ton of work for me to make and sell original collages. When I finally put two & two together in my head and started working on digital collages, everything kind of clicked into place. I've realized that I want to inspire people to write letters. I want to inspire people who write already write letters and people who have never even considered it.

Don't wait for everything to be perfect. I've spent way too long waiting for everything to fall into place before I would do this or that. I told myself I wouldn't open my shop until I had the time to take beautiful photos and write amazing descriptions for my products. Take a deep breath and just dive in! I put a bunch of photos up that aren't perfect but they can be changed. I'm working with what I have but I'm also looking to constantly improve. You won't know everything up front and that's okay.

Have someone around that you can bounce ideas off of. Without Nathan, I'm sure I would be still stuck on what I should write in for my shop title. Surprisingly, I'm not that great at expressing my point with words. It was super helpful to explain to Nathan what I'm trying to portray and we could discuss different words or phrasing. A second set of eyes never hurts anyone! If nothing else, make sure to read things out loud or a few times in your head to make sure they make sense! I like to refer to Nathan as my wordsmith.

Be yourself! This is probably the most-used advice for anything, ever so you should just embrace it. I've always been a bit weird and think really strange things are funny. My message to buyers starts out by saying "Thank you for supporting the snail mail revolution." Think of the people that you admire or the ones you gravitate to. Chances are they are the ones that are being completely genuine. It's an attractive trait!


Keep track of things. Once I decided that I was going to take this seriously, I sat down and created some spreadsheets; one for inventory and one for pricing. Keep your receipts so you can be certain of how much you're spending and calculate those costs into the total price of your product. Keep in mind the fees that Etsy (and PayPal, if you choose to use it) charges. Of course you don't want to feel like your overcharging for what you're selling but there is no point in selling something and not making money off of it! For example, I'm charging $10 for a set of 5 envelopes but for each sale, I'm only making a few dollars profit.

Resize your images correctly. Product photos are arguably the most important part of your Etsy store and you want to make sure they look cohesive. In the Etsy FAQ, they simply tell you to keep your photos between 800-1000 pixels wide. With that advice, I had a ton of trouble figuring out why some images showed up with a gray box around them and some did not. Crop your images to be square and then resize them to the proper pixel width.

Be prepared to list items. It seems Etsy has changed the way things work these days. I believe you used to be able to prepare all of your store information, policies, graphics, etc. before you had to list an item. Etsy now requires that listing an item be the first thing you do before you can get to setting everything else up. This listing requires photos as well so keep that in mind!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Collages

I am at my computer quite a bit. Most of the time I'm not doing anything productive or useful so I try to make a collage every few days. I find that I've been sticking to the same few elements in my collages so I've been trying to mix it up a bit. It's hard not to keep to the same things when I have over 1,000 images to choose from!


I even scanned in little strips of all the washi tape I own and forgot about them almost as quickly as I scanned them in. I'm sure those little washi strips will show up more in collages now that I've remembered!


I'm going to try to take this stationery endeavor a bit more seriously this month. I'm considering opening an Etsy shop as well as seeing if I can get these little guys into some local stores.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Happiness



One of the gifts I received when I started my new job was a Happiness Journal. It's a pretty simple concept and a wonderful daily activity. The idea is that, for 21 days, you spend some time each day writing down the things that made you happy and how you expressed your gratitude to other people.


I've always considered myself to be a pretty happy and positive person so I was eager to start filling this little journal out. Some days it was difficult to find things to jot down but I kept at it! My biggest hangup was expressing gratitude with an outward action. I've never been the type of person who randomly emails, texts or sends letters to friends (strangers? sure! no problem) so I really had to focus on that.



My favorite part of the journal was writing down positive experiences. There are so many little and big things that happen every day which I consider positive or make me smile. The only difficult part about filling it in was figuring out which experience I wanted to write down!

I feel like this journal morphed me into more of a positive person who seeks the opportunity to pass on that positivity to other people. I find myself commenting more on other blogs and trying to interact with my surroundings more. Now, when I see something I enjoy, I want to let people know. If people do something that make me happy, I want to let them know.

The key to staying positive and being genuine is letting everyone else in on it.