Sunday, May 2, 2010


Today is Sunday, one of the few days we have to ourselves. With three teenage boys in the house, we are usually busy. There is an endless parade of things to do: Boy Scout meetings, ceremonies, service projects and camping trips; Speech and Debate events; MESA competitions; Science Olympiad events; football games, cross country meets, swimming meets, track and field meets and the end-of-year banquets for each; the list seems endless. We all look forward to Sundays. When I woke up today it was overcast and my arthritis was killing me. It could only mean one thing, bad weather was on its way.

I was planning on making a larger more robust version of my "Chain, Chain, Chain" bracelet ( today. I hand cut all of the silver rings I would need to get started. I was just getting ready to take it outside and start the fusing process, but I couldn't find my torch. I really have been trying to be better at putting stuff in its proper place when I'm done with it, but it is an ongoing battle. Then it hit me, my torch was still outside at my "hot work" area where I had used it last AND where it was pouring rain. Sometimes my disorganization really kicks me in the butt; Murphy wins again.

Normally, I have about a dozen projects in the works at one time. I get bored easily and sometimes I feel like knitting not silversmithing or whatever. Sometimes I'll start on a project and it gives me an idea for something else, which of course, I just have to start on right away. So usually, I have another thing to do if my original plans get rained out; but today I am unmotivated. Part of it stems from the pain in my hands, feet and back and part of it is just the stormy weather blahs.

I live in New Mexico and have all of my life. I love the wide open blue skies and the non-humid air. I love the fairly temperate seasons and usually I love the rain. We don't get a whole lot of rain in the high desert, so it is usually a good thing and something I enjoy. Not today. It is May 2nd, it should be warm and the rain should be gentle and balmy. Today however, we have frigid, needle sharp precipitation pelting us. YUCK!

The only good thing about the weather is that it has gotten me contemplating my life and maybe I'll have the opportunity to learn something new. Three years ago I was laid off from my job in Safety for and R&D firm. I loved my job, I loved the buildings I oversaw and I loved the projects we worked on. I was heartbroken when I was laid off. After a while I was no longer heartbroken, but I was at a loss as to what to do with my life. The R&D industry is drying up in New Mexico and for many reasons, I am not at liberty to move out of state right now. Maybe when the kids are grown, but that is another discussion. I don't want to work for less money or in a less satisfying field, but the jobs I did want weren't available.

I can't say the thought came to me suddenly, but I decided to take my crafting skills and try to sell what I make instead of giving them away as gifts. Of course, I still give my friends and family gifts, but now I also sell my stuff. My hometown is not a mecca of craft shows and events. There are some of course, but mostly I sell online. I have shops at ETSY and ArtFire. I chose these venues purposefully for their enormous customer bases and web search capabilities. I have had a few online sales, roughly three dozen and about that many sales at local events. Not huge success, but not dismal failure either.

If you've stuck with my ramblings so far, KUDOS! I am finally getting to the point (I think). We have all had the thought "why isn't my stuff selling?" I look at the question from a variety of angles.

Is my stuff good enough? - I use quality materials, don't settle for slip-shod construction and offer a satisfaction guarantee. But maybe, just maybe, I am delusional and kidding myself.

Is my stuff priced fairly? - Long ago I decided that I was not going to try and "soak the customer" nor was I going to under price my work just to be the cheapest. A good value is getting quality at a fair price. So I think I've done a pretty good job with pricing, but again, maybe I'm nuts.

Do I have variety in styles and options? - I try to make a variety of styles, sizes and options. I always offer and welcome custom orders. I know my stuff is not everyone's style, but all of my stuff is not "cookie cutter" designs either. There are options to choose from and the ability to alter anything you see.

Are people seeing my stuff? - Thanks to web analytics, I know that I get between 70 and 105 "hits" per day. Sometimes more than double that, but on average, it is in that range. While I know some of them are click and leave hits, many stay to look around. So why aren't they buying?

What else could it be? - So if the answer to the questions so far is "yes", what else could it be? I keep hearing that I need to participate in the forums I am a part of, whether it's ETSY, ArtFire, Facebook, etc. I have tried to buy from other vendors, select favorites among other shops and their items for sale, do stuff on Facebook and Blog. I have even tried to participate in ETSY classrooms and forums. The classrooms aren't too bad, but the forums, I just couldn't take it. Mostly it seems like lots of backslapping and high fives with a very small dose of reality. I have also heard that to get on the front page of ETSY you have to either be a part of the "in crowd" or buy something that was previously listed on the front page. This doesn't seem fair. When they look for stuff to fit into the "ETSY Finds" categories do they look at everything within their search parameters or just a few shops they have favorited? I see the same folks make the front page over and over. What about the rest of us?

I don't know where to direct my energies. What do I change? What do I improve? I would love your honest input. I have enabled the option to leave comments anonymously if you so choose. I would appreciate honesty and constructive criticism. If your response is "your stuff sucks", could you also include why it sucks? Even small inputs would be great. Thanks.

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