Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

I have been making and selling jewelry for many years but I have never focused much effort on the sales part.  Which is why I am currently pondering the question: Once you have a decent product do you rush into the market and then polish your presence or do you aim for the very best presentation before going public?

Honestly I know the answer lies somewhere in between the two extremes.  I jumped into this blog with minimal (for me) research.  I checked reviews for blogger, wordpress, typepad, and a few others.  I am more than computer literate, know a bit of html, and have created a website using Dreamweaver, but I made the decision on which blog software to use mostly based on ease of use.  I picked a name, created an account, and chose a template and I was up and running.  Yesterday, when posting my first pictures, I discovered how much I don’t know.  Last night I figured out how to reset column widths on the template I chose.  Then I began thinking about how I would customize the blog further… after I learn how to take better pictures, use GIMP, etc…  There is a lot to learn.

I stumbled into selling jewelry.  Friends wanted to buy what I was making.  I have family members who sell fine silver jewelry who show my work.  Co-workers were eager to purchase my products.  My presentation has improved over the years but I know there is still room for more improvement.  Should I have waited to sell until I had a polished presentation? 

I haven’t opened an Etsy shop yet.  I need to take more photos.  I need to write some descriptions.  I need to pick a banner.  I need to figure out PayPal and how I can use it to take payments.  Those are the biggies.  When I make sales I need to figure out shipping- but wait, I need to figure out shipping charges prior to posting my jewelry so I can post the appropriate charge.  I am sure you have had this debate yourself. 

I have a to-do list to professionalize my sales.  I know the choice is not to jump in with whatever is quick and easy, likewise, I know that to wait until it is perfect is to put it off forever.  The real question is how do you know when you have reached that middle point and it is time for action?  How did you answer this question for yourself?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My First Pictures

Last night Lori Anderson asked why do you follow a blog?  For the 100+ jewelry blogs I read, the first thing that came to mind was pictures.  Yet, you will notice that up until today I have posted no photos. 

I confessed my photos are more miss than hit and that I had ordered a light cube to address part of the problem. The light cube arrived yesterday.  Today I am posting my first photos. 

I have learned:
  • It takes a long time to take photos (especially when the battery in the camera dies.)
  • Nowhere is it posted what is the best size for photos to upload.
  • By reading The Pioneer Woman I learned that it is best to find a place to store your photos and then link to them in your blog. 
Now for the reveal:

By way of introduction the photos are of India Spice.  I spent 60 hours creating this piece as part of an inspiration challenge.  The hot and spicy colors are outside of my usual comfort zone.   

The picture on the left was taken in the light cube.  I like it.  There are no distractions from the jewelry itself.  The lighting is even, no deep shadows, no bright spots. 

The picture in the center is probably my favorite; it was taken outside in bright north eastern light.  I like this photo is because the colors were well captured- you can see the hot reds, oranges, and pinks as well as the cooling sage green. 

The picture on the right is from this morning; it was taken indoors with indirect eastern light.  I like this picture too.  The colors are not quite as bright as the light cube photo.  I also like the props in this photo and the center photo.

The light cube is a wonderful tool.  I don’t have to wait for the right light.  I don’t have to rush through breakfast.  I will be able to obtain consistent photos that do not distract from the jewelry itself.  I will continue to play with natural light.  I will take photos inside and out, in direct and indirect light.  I do know that I do not like deep shadows, so I will likely shy away from direct bright light. 

What is your opinion on the three photos? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Improving my Photographs

My photographs are much more miss than hit which has led me to the conclusion that I need to learn more about photography. 

On a bright sunny day I take a jewelry bust and a few props and head out the door.  On cold or overcast days, when I do not have time to wait for better conditions, I set up inside by draping a cloth behind my jewelry, focusing a few lights on it, and snapping away.  My pictures are washed out, have too many shadows, lack detail, and certainly do not do justice to my efforts. 

I am always hopeful that a bit of editing magic will make up for my lack of proper tools and my unpracticed photography skills.  You won’t be surprised to learn that hopes are often dashed. 

I need better photos in order to professionalize the sale of my jewelry.  The first step in better photos is to obtain a light box. 

I am creative, capable, and like to spend my money wisely.  My first choice was to build a light box.  The first instructions I found were how to make a light box out of a cardboard box.  The cost was perfect.  The product was workable.  I nixed this solution because of storage space.  I did not want to have to find a place to store a cardboard box big enough to work as a light box. 

I decided I needed something that I could take apart and put back together and that I could store in a small space.  I thought PVC piping likely as I had seen a similar light box in the past.  I discovered Bill Huber’s light box instructions. Again, the cost was great, likely to be under $10.00, and it was a workable product.  The construction did not seem to be above my skills or to call for tools that were not readily at hand.  The instructions did call for the pieces to be glued together, but I thought I could skip that step in order to make the light box easy to store.  Nonetheless, the deconstructed light box was still going to be awkward and a bit bulky.  I also had an inkling that I would not want to be taking my light box apart and putting it back together every time I wanted to take a picture. 

A commercial solution seemed at least worth researching.  That research was successful.  I purchased a pop-up cube that collapses into a flat disk for easy storage.  The price was still reasonable, $20.00 for a 20 inch by 20 inch cube.

The cube has not been delivered yet, so I cannot attest to the ease of collapsing it nor can I attest to the quality of the product. When it arrives I will let you know about ease of use and post some comparison pictures. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Getting Started

I have had an on-going love affair with beads for decades.  In the 1980's I learned peyote stitch from a friend.  Shortly thereafter, in the gift shop at Cahokia Mounds, I discovered "Indian Bead-Weaving Patterns" by Horace Goodhue; a book which remains a favorite.  Back then, I mostly worked with seed beads, but I picked up a enough skills with wire to make simple loop earrings.  Seed beads remain my favorite.  I have sold my jewelry to family and friends since then.  I have sold at craft fairs and fund raisers as well as though family members who sell fine silver jewelry.  Now, it is time to become more professional in my sales.

I will be focusing on two new venues:
  • On-line
  • More and better venues
My plan for this blog is to write about beads and my jewelry because it is one of my passions.  In addition, I want to write about the process of professionalizing my jewelry sales.