imogenwilsonjewellery

Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!


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Etsy Treasury Addict

My name is Imogen, and I’m an Etsy treasury Addict.

You may have noticed if you have been reading my blog for a while, that I get hooked on things easily. I have a rather addictive personality, and when it comes to the internet, there is no such thing as too much. I have written previously about my addiction to Pinterest and also how I click through my tabs checking my stats as if I’m possessed, another of my e-weakness’ is Etsy treasuries.

What’s an Etsy treasury you may ask? The delightful collection of objects on the front page of Etsy, is a treasury. The treasuries are made by the makers, the sellers, the shmucks like me who sit for hours at a time choosing the eighteen items for each treasury with care. It is put there by the Etsy team, and changed often. I’m not sure how often, but I’d like to say hourly, or at least every couple of hours.

I made my first treasury around six months ago after my excitement at one of my items being featured in someone else’s. It was harder than I imagined it would be to create my own, I know what you’re thinking, how could it be difficult to copy and paste eighteen measly products into one collection? Hard. If you choose to theme the treasury, or not, the composition and colour of the photos chosen need to compliment the others around it. It could be that you could have the right collection objects just in the wrong order, it becomes a mess very easily. Having a screen that is pleasing on the eye is the aim, if your eye glazes over it focusing on nothing, you have failed. The items you have chosen might compliment each other well and be awesome, but be photographed terribly. There are so many opportunities to fail…

imogen wilson jewellery etsy treasury green spring pastel blue wedding

Pastel infusion, Wedding in blue, & Spring in my step – Imogen Wilson Jewellery treasuries

The aim of the first treasury I created was to get on the Etsy front page, the same aim I’m sure 99% of the other people who create them have. However one of the sneaky catches to this is, you can’t feature your own product.

imogen wilson jewellery etsy treasury nevermore botanicals collections

Natural botanicals, Nevermore, & Collections – Imogen Wilson Jewellery treasuries (which don’t feature my jewellery)

After realising how difficult and time consuming I had found it creating each one, I decided to look at it through different eyes, as a learning curve to hone my composition skills. I thought at the time that it was a valuable exercise, no such thing as too much practice… I created a new Pinterest board (why not merge the addictions) to keep track of them all, and share the love. The Treasurypin changes the orientation of the treasury, making it long and thin instead of the normal 4×4 format… which isn’t ideal… but it’s so much easier than screen capturing each one (like I have here), so that’s what I do…

ihhb

Book worm, Antiquated heaven, & Bookworm – Ex Libris treasuries

As time chugged on my intentions changed again, I wished to get others to notice my wares, to like, heart, favourite, bookmark, pin my items. Especially as I branched out and opened my new brand Ex Libris (and started tinkering with Major Tom). “Hello everyone”, my treasuries shouted, “I’m here!”

Major Tom

Big blue yonder, Over the Moon, & Floating round my tin can – Major Tom treasuries

Of course I have fun making them, or I wouldn’t do it. However the more I write here the more ridiculous the whole exercise feels, a bit like explaining facebook to someone who doesn’t use it, like a huge waste of time. However I’ve found the opposite is true. It has given me a greater understanding of what’s out there in the handmade marketplace. Of my competition, my community, and the handmade pricing structure. I am increasingly becoming more and more aware of different photographic techniques, props, and where my own photos are lacking. I’d highly recommend it for someone trying to hone their eye, or learn more about their own products or product photos!

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No man is an island- The pitfalls of working alone

I have always been quite a social person, put simply, I like to talk. At school I would distract others with my babble, at work I would distract others with my conversation… in life… umm, yeah, I’m sure there’s a pattern here… I don’t tend to go in for the Astrological, but I am a perfect fit for my star sign- Gemini- The twins. I talk enough for two of me.

Although I didn’t particularly like working in hospitality, or retail (the fields I’ve worked in for the last ten years) the social aspect of them made them both bearable. Customers to talk to, workmates, in the trenches together, battling it out.

stand alone

The concern I heard the most from friends when I declared boldly that I would be quitting my 9-5 job was how solitary it would be, would I cope with not having people to talk to for 8 hours a day? I assured them I would be fine, regular outings to meet people for lunch, dropping things off and picking thing up from the post office, these everyday tasks would make it less solitary surely? Plus what’s giving up a bit of conversation in the grand scheme of things if I get to live my dream, follow my passion, and do what I want. I would just have to make sure I saw more of my friends, had better quality time with my husband…

All of that was awesome, in theory. In reality however… I have been so determined to make this work I have been working more hours a day than I imagined and have less time for my friends, not more. I hope this will change once I get into the swing of it, get used to the weekly demands and plan my weeks out a bit better. My husband has been unemployed, and been in the next room, the whole time I have been self employed (the pressure I felt as a result of that, in the early weeks, is a whole blog post in itself). So while I’ve been working at home, in my studio, he is never that far away. Although we take turns making lunch for each other, we often don’t eat together, and the majority of the day is spent apart. Unless I need an opinion on something, it’s like working alone, but the fact he is so close means I have never felt it.

Print from 'FebruaryLane' on Etsy

Print from ‘FebruaryLane’ on Etsy

Till today.

Today is his first day at his new job and before lunch time I have already managed to psych myself out. I thought I would enjoy the time alone, I mean that’s what I signed up for isn’t it? Drinking my morning coffee (made for me by him) felt normal. Till the last two sips (after he left) which felt closer to drinking a shot of vodka- my head spun, my stomach hurt. It was akin to a panic attack but with no panicked breathing… It took me two hours of feeling that way to connect the dots, maybe I missed him. Nahhhh surely not, that’s ridiculous. Maybe I’m worried about working alone? That’s closer to being possible… what a wimp.

When the vomiting started I realised that no, not even I was that pathetic.

Being alone is one thing, having food poisoning a whole other…


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A Watched Pot Never Boils- The intricacies of SEO and website statistics

It's all enough to make my head hurt...

It’s all enough to make your head hurt…

When I decided to create two new brands I knew it would be a lot of work. Registering them for their own Facebook, Gmail, Etsy and Felt accounts made my head spin. I didn’t really make it easy on myself though, I did it all in one sitting, for both brands. Then there was all the work I had forgotten about, Imogen Wilson Jewellery has been around for so many years, and I built it up as I went, I didn’t go in with a fully rounded brand. As a result I had forgotten how much was involved with starting out. It’s all well and good to have a product you’re proud of and think people will be interested in buying/ wearing, that’s almost the easy bit. Logo design, brand ethos, packaging, photography, photo editing, domains (Facebook, Etsy, Felt, Gmail, they feel never ending when you jump in), product descriptions and measurements for online listing…and that’s all before showing the public anything (or emailing shops)… it can seem daunting for one brand let alone three. Then when you think you have a handle on it all there are the statistics to think about.

Love them or loathe them, business statistics are everywhere. At the top of your Facebook page, your blog, your Etsy account, and of course the mother of them all Google analytics. I am still in the early stages of understanding how they work, how to read them, what it all means.

Actually, that’s a lie, a total lie. I have absolutely no idea how they work, I understand them as much as a child might. When the graph or the counter goes higher it means more people have visited my site, which is a good thing- WIN. Pretty basic right? Well apparently not. As with SEO (something else I understand about as much as a chimp) it’s an ever changing game. There is so much information on the internet about it all, yet it all seems to be written for someone else, someone that speaks this ‘other’ language I’m not privy to.

These guys get it so much they're taking a break and laughing at my inability too... Bet Asterix and Lucky Luke are in on the joke too...

I bet these guys understand it and are taking a break and laughing at my inability to. Bet they’ve even got Asterix and Lucky Luke in on the joke…

When Imogen Wilson Jewellery was my one and only brand I was obsessed with the statistics behind each website I used. My Etsy stats page was always open in one of my browser tabs, I looked at my Facebook stats daily. As I said above, I didn’t really understand what I was looking at, but that didn’t stop me being distracted by them often and excited when the numbers rose higher. Another tab to distract me from what I was ultimately supposed to be doing. Then I launched Ex Libris, my second brand, in the background all the while still chipping away at brand #3, suddenly I was logging in and out of Etsy, changing Facebook accounts left, right and centre. It was much like what I’ve heard having a second child is like, I suddenly had three times the work to do (not twice as much, like I had expected).

I realised I was so busy I no longer looked at my stats every hour, sometimes I didn’t even have the time to look at them every day. Checking my emails and looking at facebook just to see if ‘anything had changed’ didn’t occur to me, I had become so busy doing actual work that my mind had focused, and time had become more precious. Perhaps once I’ve gotten into the swing of things and all three brands have been launched, once a ‘normal’ daily routine is established then I’ll learn a bit about how to accurately read and use my stats, then at least if I fall back into old habits I’ll understand what I’m looking at.

When I started my blog, the goings on of Create & Thrive blogger Jess often inspired what I would write about. However as my blog has continued I don’t rely on her posts to spark something in my brain, to inspire me, I stand on my own two feet a little more and write about what is happening in my world with no prompting. However, I wrote this blog yesterday, and this morning in my inbox was an email about Jess’ digital sabbatical and a blog about the experience. She realised that it wasn’t necessarily that she was spending so much time online, it was the work (or lack of) that she was doing when she was there. The topic couldn’t have been more perfectly suited to include here if I’d asked her to write it myself;

“By constantly ‘checking in’ on social media, email, and other interactive online spaces (like checking our blog comments or stats, for example) we are caught in a loop of reactive work. We’re looking for something outside of us to give us something to respond to, rather than sitting back, turning inward, and focussing on what WE can create and give out to the world.”

I spoke a little bit about reactionary work flow here, but it’s so hard to make  yourself stop when you are so caught up in it. Luckily for me it’s no longer an issue, for now at least… Watch this space…


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Photo Editing for Beginners

For the last couple of weeks I have been glued to my computer. As with everything I have been attempting recently the simple task of editing my Ex Libris product shots and photos from the photo shoot wasn’t as quick and easy as I’d anticipated. Looking back, I made it far harder on myself than it needed to be.

hmmm

Sneeky looking close up of Gen. No detail is too small!

I spent several weeks waiting for my photo shoot to occur, ready to launch Ex Libris except for those pesky photos. Once the shoot was over I was left with 766 photos to sort through. After my first sweep through turning them the right way round and doing the cursory delete of obvious atrocities I was down to 619. After sleeping on it and going through once again I only managed to delete about five- holy crap this was going to be harder than I thought. I was scared of deleting something that I might need later (story of my life) so I kept that folder as a back up and copied them all to my desktop where I could delete with gay abandon and no chest pains and ‘what ifs’. I got it down to 150 almost instantly.

Now that I had a manageable quantity it was up to me to up the quality. The shots were great, I loved them all (hence my reticence to delete any of them). My photo editing up until this point was pretty preliminary, the odd crop, brightening, lightening, the occasional contrast fix. I decided to up my game on these ones though, a professional photo shoot calls for professional photo editing. A bit of playing around and I realised it wasn’t that hard to get the effects I was after. A bit of ‘that was never there’ with the stamp tool and some blending with the band aid tool (otherwise known as the healing brush tool for those not up with my lingo).  It was incredibly time consuming, but very rewarding, I had so much fun doing it and am quite chuffed at the results.

before and after

Two examples of before and after my Photoshop magic. Now you see it, now you don’t

Then I realised what was missing from my impending launch- product shots. I had been so amped up about the photos of my products being worn by someone I had forgotten the fundamental product on crisp white background shots. While I‘d been sitting idly, twiddling my thumbs waiting for Genevieve to get back from Europe I could have been doing them. Some more twiddling of thumbs ensued while I waited for the weather to clear up so I could take my light box outside for optimum light… then it was on. Nothing could hold me back, or so I thought.

Some of the shots were easy, the items easy to photograph. Some a bit trickier, interesting angles were employed and composition went out the window. Half the photos would need a good crop, by the end I was all about the colour, the angle, the product looking good- screw what you could see in the background. My new ‘I’ll fix it in post production’ ethos came through a little too heavily for my own liking.

I took far more photos than I needed, like always. What can I say, I just can’t help myself. If there is a photo to be taken I will take five where there needs to be one. The preliminary once over and first cull was easy. But as so much cropping and editing needed to occur before I could tell which were the best shots, the next several days were spent glued to Photoshop touching up, lightening and cropping photos that would later be culled. I know, I can hear you say it, and I agree- what an idiot.

screen after screen

After cropping, photo editing and several deletes I was left with screen after screen like this

After spending so much time attached to my computer I was excited to be finished editing. Photo shoot, check. Product shots, check. Sadly all the remaining steps needed to complete the launch are also computer related, so even though the editing is over I am in no way done at my laptop. Next is listing them on Etsy and Felt and pitching them to shops and my newsletter. Sometimes it feels never ending, but the end is near and I’m so excited to get everyone’s reaction to it all!all of it!