Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spreading Good in the World

After this horrible accident I had, I’ve received a lot of love, kind words, and support. More than I ever thought I would.  It has all helped me to heal and recover.
One day, I received a special package from Twig and Leaf Botanical, more specifically, the shop’s owner, Kelly Beth.
I knew the box, because I had recently ordered some of her Utopia Lotion, which around this house has been termed “magic lotion” – curing dry and irritated skin, which hasn’t been rectified any other way.

I raved about the lotion to Kelly Beth, both in a personal message, and via feedback in Etsy.
Soon after that, the “wood attack” occurred.  I reached out to members of my EcoEtsy team.  Kelly Beth was one of the many emails I received, showing her love and compassion.
But, last week, I also received that care package from Kelly Beth.  It included a card, which on the outside had the quote, “A woman is like a teabag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”  She, humbly, shared her own personal story, her words bringing tears to my eyes.  Last week was difficult for me.  The original trauma had passed, and it was settling in that my face would never again be what it once was.  Although, I was happy the damage wasn’t much worse, there was still some loss, and inevitable change.
Kelly Beth’s words of encouragement gave me a spark of hope, which was very much needed.
After I read the card, I opened the rest of the contents of the box, and found a bottle of organic Vitamin E oil – the very thing the doctor suggested I use on the scar!  And, another bottle of “magic lotion”.
I know Kelly Beth is humble, just doing her thing, and watching as everyone else talks. But, I wanted to give her a pretty loud shout-out for spreading some love to Texas.  She’s made a difference in my heart.
And, that was, and still is, a pretty big thing.
Spread love and goodness into the world….  You never know who you are impacting, and when your words could make the difference in someone’s life.
Thank you, Kelly Beth, and your incredible heart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Grabbed My iPod

It has seen me through 11+ hour workdays – staring at a computer, long car drives, house cleaning, and numerous walks through the neighborhood.  If I didn’t still have my “unicorn blanket”, I received when I was eight, my iPod would be my security blanket.  In some ways it is.
I was nervous.  Everything out in the garage brings a new kind of fright with it.  What if the scroll saw breaks?  The oscillating sander spins out of control?  The tip of the Dremel spins off and kills me?
What about all the things I can’t possibly imagine?!?
The only way I’ve ever let go of fear is by doing.  Doing the very thing I’m most afraid of…and letting the fear go.
It’s not just the fear in that something “could” happen, though.  It’s that I loathe the very thing – that miter saw – that struck my face.  I’m bitter.  Yep.  B.i.t.t.e.r.
I’m beyond upset that my face may never again be the way that it once was.  Tears well in my eyes, still, at the thought of it.  Although, I hold out hope for the 3-4 times a day treatments I do with Vitamin E Oil and Mederma, hoping to reduce the scarring.  The scar, though, isn’t my only concern.  Part of my upper lip won’t smile like it used to, and mourning the potential loss of my smile breaks my little heart.
I’ll admit to “flipping the bird” at the miter saw, as I walked past it today.
I feel guilty.  I have so much to be thankful for – given that my husband was home when the accident happened, that it wasn’t much worse, that the wood block didn’t hit me just a fraction of an inch more to the right, hitting my nose square on…because then I may not even be sitting here right now.
Regardless of all of that, though, I can’t help my heart breaking over the scars that did happen – physically and emotionally.  Not to mention the pain I still feel – I can’t blow my nose yet, and it hurts when I laugh.  Seriously.  Laughing, hurts.
I get all these charities mailing me all the time.  A long time ago, I remember getting one from “The Smile Train”.  It’s a charitable organization fixed on helping children with cleft lips and pallets.  I distinctly remember thinking something to the effect – isn’t it more important to give these kids food?  Education?  Than “just” fix a smile?
Yep.  That’s what I thought.
You don’t know how important a smile is, until yours is in jeopardy.  (hangs head) Lesson learned.  Check’ll be in the mail.
I’ve started slow.  I used the past couple days to place wood onto the carving machine to get some projects started.  There is such minimal risk.  The machine, itself, has it’s own “face mask” and I pretty much just push buttons.  It does the rest, as I tend to things like painting, photography, or laundry.
But the carved planks have just been sitting there.  There was nothing in me that wanted to do this anymore.
Today was the day, I decided.  I opened the garage door to let in some fresh air, and donned my iPod.  “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang was in the middle of playing.  ”We’re gonna have a good time tonight….”
I thought, “Man, I’m so not in the mood for this,” but I kept it playing anyway.  I kept it playing while I measured each cut, and used the T-square to draw each line.
“Celebrate good times, come on!”
As I finished, I was well into “Love Come” from Sarah McLachlan‘s newest album, which played twice for some reason.
I approached the scroll saw as “Had Enough” by Lifehouse started playing.  I cleared the bench area, and everything on the floor.  I put on my “new” face helmet, left my ear phones in, and put on my all too familiar ear muffs that appear to be the kind that airport ground control use.
I moved more cautiously than ever before.  Slower.  More mindful.
As the, now, cut boards started stacking up, “Everything” by Ryan Stuart started playing. I was starting to see what I used to love about this.  The pieces, once all joined together, coming to life as they are split apart.  The smell of the wood filling my senses…
The joy of creation.
The scroll saw made the board jump.  I jumped straight out of my skin, with it, and turned the machine off.  I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest.  I closed my eyes, regained composure, soaked in the music.
I opened my eyes, took a deep breath, and turned the scroll saw back on.  I was able to finish all the cuts.
I stacked all the boards up on my husband’s workbench, and plugged in the oscillating sander.  As I was sanding away, “Boy Meets Girl” by Evan Taubenfield started playing, and I was back in my groove.  As some sides weren’t as straight as I liked, the joiner was used, albiet slowly and cautiously.
“Like Twisted Sister, meets Mr. Mister…” my head started nodding.  Seeing the, now sanded, objects coming more and more to life, this very blog post started forming in my head, and my now crooked smile, cracked across my face as the walls of fear dissolved around me.
It’s not easy to begin again.  It’s scary.  But, sometimes, facing your fears shows you how strong you really are.
Break’s over.  Time for the Dremel and “Rock Around the Clock”.  I’m nothing, if not eclectic.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We Found It!

The piece of wood that caused all this havoc last Sunday….we found it.  Actually, Sean found it.  He’s currently on some sort of mission to make the garage as safe as possible. You have got to love my husband’s heart.
He came inside and showed it to me.  I stepped away from it.  He laughed and said, “It’s not going to hurt you.”
The piece of wood is small.  Literally, no bigger than a package of gum.  Like, Trident size. Not Juicy Fruit size.  Maybe, a hair smaller than Trident size.
If you’ve never worked with a miter saw before, the blade spins around, but when it spins, it spins away from you.  That way, if something like this were to happen, the piece flys in the opposite direction of your body, and away from you.  It’s a one in a million chance that the piece of wood would hit the small metal back of the saw and fling at you.
One time, when I was learning how to sew, my mom was showing me how to put the pins in the fabric, and how to stitch along a certain line.  I asked, “What if the sewing machine needle hits one of the pins?”  She replied, “That’s a one in a million chance, and I’ve never had it happen before.”  Guess what happened to me just a couple minutes into sewing. Yep.  Broke the needle, too.
So, I don’t want to hear anymore about one in a million chances.
My husband’s theory has been that the wood fractured, flew backwards as is the intent of the machine, but it was that “one in a million” chance, and it ricocheted off the back of the machine and flung itself back at me.  Specifically, my face.
And then all the drama ensued.  Blah, blah, blah.
Today, Sean found the piece all the way on the other side of the garage, by the scroll saw. So, this piece of wood fractured itself off the main piece, hit the back of the machine for that one-in-a-million-shot, ricocheted off, hit my face causing all the drama, and then flew clear to the other side of our two car garage.  That’s some pretty serious velocity, and I now know why I was as swollen as I was, and why I’m still bruised and I can’t touch my nose or I’ll cry.
My husband put the piece of wood in his hand, and told me it was therapy to pick it up.  I tried a couple time, but couldn’t.  He waited patiently.  All I did was glare at it.  (I’m a Scorpio, so my glare is pretty mighty.)  Then, I picked it up.  Turned it around, studied it. I then gave it back to my husband.
Now, it’s sitting in the sand bucket as punishment.  It’s waiting for our next fire pit blaze, kind of like someone on death row.
Good news is that my stitches came out this morning.  I learned that the doctor that was working on me last Sunday night is the Director of the department.  He’s 36 or 37, and some sort of prodigy at this sort of stuff.  And the paramedic that removed the stitches raved at how nicely this will heal.  How awesome the stitches were, and how great I kept ‘em clean.
See, my “clean freak” skills come in handy.
I was thinking, as my husband drove me over to the ER this morning, that 13 used to be my lucky number.  However, this little dramatic event happened on the 13th.  So, how can it be lucky?
It all just dawned on me.  I’ve said before that I’m lucky because it didn’t hit my eyes, yadda yadda yadda.  But, I’m also lucky that the scar will be in my smile crease.  I’m lucky that the laceration didn’t get infected.  I’m lucky the Director of the ER just happened to be on duty that night, and he just so happens to be some sort of medical prodigy.  Although, I now feel kind-of bad about inquiring about his stitching skills.
I’m lucky that I have the love of all my friends and family.  It’s because of that love and support I’m able to concentrate on healing myself.  I’m lucky that the piece of wood that had enough velocity to fling itself all around the garage didn’t cause more serious and permanent damage.
I’m still swollen and bruised.  Half my upper lip won’t smile.  There’s still some mental healing to be done.  But, I’m on my way.
I haven’t had a sale all week while I was recuperating.  Not even stuff that’s already made and ready to ship.  Honestly, though, I didn’t really care.
When I was getting my stitches removed this morning, I sold another Man Cave sign via Etsy.  Maybe this is God’s way of saying it’s time to get back to work.
Okay, but one step at a time.  My Guardian Angel has been working some major overtime, here, lately.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fear, Encouragement, and Baby Steps

I took a moment, yesterday, to write to one of my Etsy Teams – EcoEtsy.  I’ve always loved this group – we are just a bunch of fun-loving environmentalists set to upcycle and recycle and be as environmentally conscious as possible.  Plus, these ladies make me laugh. Almost every day.
Last night, I dragged myself out of bed, and read through some of their replies – whether they be on our group discussion board, on Etsy Convo, or elsewhere.   I didn’t reply to any of them.  The reason is….I’m in awe, and I didn’t know, exactly, what to say.
I try not to complain when I’m hurting, because nobody likes a whiner, right?  But, here’s some of the things I’m going through:
I’m in considerable pain, and I’m allergic to a lot of things out there that minimize the inflammation.  So, I just gotta suck it up.  This, I can handle.
The laceration, it’s going to scar.  There’s no way around it.  I worry about this.  It’s what I’m most sensitive about – being disfigured, somehow.  It’s not like I’m a model or something, but I’ve had this face for 30+ years now, and although it has other scars on it… Well, I’ve had them my whole life, practically, so they are just part of the scenery.  They aren’t new.
Granted, all of my friends, family, and especially my husband, tell me how beautiful I am and not to worry about it.  When I drop into tears, my husband reassures me that we’ll see every plastic surgeon in the world, if that’s what it takes to make me comfortable again.  He goes on to say that he’ll love me, scar and all, but it’s about what makes me comfortable.  Not what he needs.
I’m starting to get scared.  You see, the garage and I?  We’re not on speaking terms. The piece of wood I was working with?  I asked my husband to throw it in another pile, because I didn’t want to see it, or the piece that fractured off  and gouged my face.  I’m also seeing the potential dangers of every, single, piece of equipment out there, and all the other freak accidents that can happen.  It’s not that I didn’t know about them before, or I wasn’t cautious before.  It’s just that I’ve felt it now.  It’s different.  Changed.
I’m also facing six months of not being able to be in the sun, or it could make the scar permanently dark.  The chick that works in the garage with wood?  Ya, she’s an out-doorsy type of girl.
I love the outdoors.  I read out there.  Walk my dogs.  Go for runs.  The hubby and I draw with chalk on the driveway.  If I could lift the roof off the house, and not just open windows, I totally would.  I know I can use a bunch of sunscreen this Spring and Summer, but I’m going to be worried about the sun effects, none the less.
It hurts incredibly bad when I laugh.  And, if you know anything about me, I laugh all the time.  I’ve shared with Karen, the leader of the EcoEtsy group, that I’ve been watching Friends on DVD this week, as I’m propped up in bed.  I love it because I’ve watched the shows so much, I can laugh on the inside – I know what jokes are coming.  BUT - there are moments when something catches me off guard, and I have to laugh out loud.  I find if I hold my cheek, it’s possible, but it still hurts!
I can’t open my mouth very wide, so last night I was in a heap of tears because I was so HUNGRY!  No more liquid!  No more smoothies!!  I don’t want to have to drink my morning coffee with an effin straw! I wanted real food!  (Insert foot stomps and pathetic whines.)
I was craving Chinese food, so hubby ordered me Veggie Lo Mein.  I got some vegetables in my system, and the noodles are super soft.  I felt a lot better.  It’s a big difference food can make.
As we were waiting for the food to arrive, I told him of the things that bothered me, that I had emailed one of my teams, and what my fellow teammates on EcoEtsy were replying to me…everything from advice, solvents and salves, words of encouragement, personal stories, and general well wishes.  The support was (and still is) incredible!
It’s one thing to work in a large office environment like I did, and get the encouragement and support from my fellow co-workers when I was going through a tough time…because they saw me every day.  Just about.
But, to have this group, who doesn’t really ever see me, reach out to me the way they did….  Well, it’s just phenomenal, and touches my heart, more than I can say.  So much so, that the tears came and I had to tilt my head to the left so they would roll down the part of my cheek that doesn’t have any stitches on it.  ;)
I’m honored to be part of EcoEtsy.  Completely honored.
After Sean and I talked, I went to renew a listing, and while I did that, my husband went to putz around in the garage.  When I came back in the kitchen, he had brought out a chalkboard I was working on last week, the middle plaque that was already carved, and the frame I was working on right before the incident on Sunday.
The frame has been sitting on the garage floor, wrapped tight, while the glue was drying, and hasn’t moved one inch since I last worked on it.
I asked if he was putting it together for me, disenchanted because I didn’t want to do it.  He grabbed my hand, smiled at me, and then flipped it over.
“Look,” he said, pointing to the back, “how perfectly the chalkboard fits in the frame!  I didn’t even help you with this one!  You did it all by yourself!”
The whole project looked amazing.  Even in it’s unfinished state.  He got a big hug.
I got lost in painting yesterday, it’s like therapy to me.  I enjoyed it immensely.  We slept with the windows open last night.  It’s only 62 degrees here this morning.  I woke up to the birds chirping and a fresh breeze.
Life goes on.
So, this is my thank you.  Although I still hurt, and I’m still feeling the fear, the words of encouragement I received, from all sources yesterday, did my heart a lot of good. Everything is still different, but I know I’ll get back to it.  One baby step at a time.
The first step will be opening the garage door.  And, although I can’t do it yet, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

When Wood Attacks! The story.

I have no memory of the piece of wood flinging off the miter saw and rushing towards my head.  Specifically, my face.  I only remember the sound of the saw, and the warm feeling I felt on my cheek afterwards.  I reached up with my hand, and when I looked at it, it was covered in blood.
Faces bleed like nothing else.
I rushed inside, yelling for my husband, Sean, in a voice he terms my “emergency voice”.  I guess that’s kind of like babies – you get to know their cries.  Sean’s learned my yells.  ;)
I ran into the bathroom, where he met up with me, and I was washing the blood away. The ER was inevitable, the cut was too deep.
In the midst of being worried I’d be disfigured for life, my husband does the best thing he could do….kisses me and says he loves me no matter what.
Made a call to my mom, on the way to the emergency room, and she met us there with ice packs in hand.
I have really bad allergies, which have landed me square in the middle of jam-packed emergency rooms before.  Since I had taken benadryl, I suppose in triage, my needs were always less than….oh, say, a heart attack.  But, slice your face open, and whoooo….in the midst of a jam-packed emergency room, it’s like a 15 minute wait.  Max.
I’ll pause here to say that the medical staff at Presbyterian Hospital in Rockwall totally rock.
Let me tell you that getting socked in the face with a flying piece of wood hurts considerably bad.  So, when the nurse asked me on a scale of 1-10, what my pain level was, it was hard not to say, “11″.  (“These go to eleven.”)  This piece of wood didn’t just clock me in the cheek, but also in the nose and teeth.  She asked me how I was feeling otherwise, and I think I said something to the effect of, “I can’t decide if I’m going to pass out, throw up, or both.”  She handed me a bag for one of those.
My blood pressure was only 114/66, so I give myself props for staying calm while bleeding to death.
Upon the doctor coming in to evaluate me, he said it definitely needed stitches.  This terrified me.  It’s one thing to have a wound on your face.  Another to have them want to put a needle around it, too.
He asked when I last had a tetanus shot, and I told him it was over 8 years ago.  He said, “Then today is the day!”
Two rounds of numbing pads on my cheek, and then the doctor was back.  I had a question, “So, doc, how good are you at stitches?”
Come to find out, that ER doctors are better than plastic surgeons at sewing up jagged edged lacerations, like the one I had.  Principally, because it’s what they do most of the time.  Plastic surgeons are good at sewing up scalpel lines – straight and even.  See, you learn something new, every day.
It was time to irrigate the wound, so he needed a few towels.  He paged the nurse, and her reply was, “Yes, sir,” followed by a “Hey, hey” right before she hung up.  I don’t think we were supposed to hear the last part.
The doctor said, very sarcastically, “Hey, hey!  Do you know why he needs towels?  Has he asked for towels before?  Is it surgical or just regular ones?  Did you see him in the supply closet?”
We all busted out laughing.
I was under the impression that the numbing pads would be all I needed.  But when he brought out the needle to inject my face, I reconsidered my thought process.  Three shots of numbing solution into my cheek, I have to say, was probably worse than the excruciating pain I was already in.
He placed the blue cloth over my face, so that only the area he needed to sew up was visible.  He said, “I’m going to place this where you won’t be as claustrophobic.”  I replied, “Dude, I’m going to have my eyes closed, so no worries.”
He let my nose out the little hole, for some fresh air.  I told him that it’s pretty big, so I appreciated that.  My husband said it looked like a shark fin coming out of the water.  And, here I was, trying not to laugh when a dude is stitching my face up.
The doc asked me, at one point, to move my nose out of the way.  When nothing happened, he said, “Well, okay, I’ll just work around it,” with a big sigh.  I tried hard not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it.
The doctor asked me what I did for a living, and I said, “Nothing anymore.  I’m going to be a housewife!”  Since I was being snarky, my husband stepped in to show off pictures of the carves I had on my iPhone.
Only one stitch kind of hurt, but I figured I could get stuck by that horrid injection needle again, or I could just suck it up and take the needle pain for the stitch.  Six of one, half dozen of the other.
All in all, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been through.  And, I had my mom and husband there to hold my hands.  Not to mention the myriad of texts from my friends and family, concerned, or trying to make me laugh….  ”Do they have her on any good drugs?” one friend asked.  ”They haven’t given her anything but the topical,” my husband replied.  ”She should complain more then….tell her to quit being strong,” she texted back.  ”Sure, then I’ll convince the wind not to blow.”
Sean took his pulse, and his oxygen level was only 96%.  I told the same friend this, in text.
She said, “He is fine, mine is never 100.”
To which I said, “Oh, good.  I figured he was trying to steal my thunder.”
“That would be rude.”
“I know it.  What do I have to do to get attention?”
“I know, you practically cut your face off.”
I love my friends.  :)
Of all the shots, I think the Tetanus shot hurt the worst, to be honest.  But nobody wants Tetanus, so a shot it was.
Instead of being hard on myself, I’m trying to be thankful, saying many prayers:
1) I still have both eyeballs.
2) And, all my teeth.
3) My nose is in tact.
4) The wound follows my natural cheek crease, and the doctor did an outstanding job on the stitches, so all I have to do is keep it clean and let my body heal.
5) I have an outstanding Mom, who drops everything, picking up ice packs on the way, holding my hand and keeping my spirits up while the process was ongoing, and making a grocery run for liquids and soft foods so I can sustain my life today.
6) I have excellent friends that keep me laughing.
7) I have a husband whose only concern is my well being, and not if my face stays pretty.  He not only held my hand through the procedure, he kissed it, too.  He kept me laughing, and supported me.  The vows we said in October rang clear in my head, and I am blessed to have someone who sticks by me in the “worse” times.
The wound actually meets up with the other scar on my nose.  That’s pretty cool.  Nothing like adding even more character to my face.
And, I’ll admit to finishing up some polyurethane on a custom design when I got home from the ER.  But, it is a birthday present, and I wanted to make sure it got in the mail today, so it’ll arrive on time.
Everyone else?  Well, some people will be receiving an email today to see if it’s okay to postpone their delivery by 5 days.  At least until my stitches come out.
Walking back through the garage when I got home, I noticed my workbench was moved backwards and I had knocked over a light.  So, it was a pretty hard hit to knock me backwards.
I’ll be ever thankful.  It could have been a lot worse.

Friday, February 11, 2011

6 Months Flies By – Things I’ve Learned – Trial and Error: Listings

Creating a listing on Etsy isn’t as *wham bam* as I thought it was. I thought, “how hard could it be?” Title, description, tags, pictures…. I got this.  Right?  But, dude, I’ll be honest, sometimes it takes 30-45 minutes for me to put one together!  To those not familiar with Etsy, a “listing” is simply a product for sale. Within that listing is a myriad of things you need to input to see what you see here.
I’ll use the “Think Happy Be Happy Sign” as an example.
Titles are normally the easiest part of the listing for me. Mostly because it’s the name of whatever I’m selling. So, the “Think Happy Be Happy” sign is titled “Think Happy Be Happy Sign”. Freaking original, eh?  I used to put “Carved, Handmade, Hand Painted, etc. etc. before the main description, but I read a ton of articles on how titles capture the attention of your buyers. Ergo, now, the adjectives follow the main description of the item.
If people are interested in a “Think Happy Be Happy Sign”, then they may also read on to see that it’s “Carved, Hand Painted” and made out of “Reclaimed Wood”.
Next comes the description.  Whoo, boy, if I’m not feeling creative, then I can’t come up with anything that would grab the customer’s attention.  I like to add stories to my descriptions.  I can’t quantifiably say that it helps sell anything, but I think most people, buying handmade, get intrigued by the stories behind the pieces.  That’s kinda what makes it extra cool.
For instance, on the “Think Happy Be Happy” sign, the story of my husband throwing the plywood on the pile….yep, that really happened.  I like a good story.  It’s important to me that they remain real, though.  And, it’s not something just made up.
Sometimes I get silly.  Like, with the Star.  By the by, that’s had the most views without having to renew it.  Silly gets attention.
I hate tagging things.  It seems simple.  But, coming up with 14 descriptions is horrifying most nights.  I start running out around 5.  ”Housewares, red, happy, think happy (see, I’m already repeating), be happy, primitive (I don’t know where that one came from?!), reclaimed wood, carve, sign….”  Uhhhh…. “plaque” (ya, that’s another word for sign!)… (What’s another word for happy???) “Content”.   And, on and on it goes.
I used to be really specific in my tags.  I’ve found, though, that tagging works best in the general.  People don’t normally search for “red think happy be happy wooden sign”.  But they will search for “happy sign”  or “wood sign” or “sign with phrase”.  So, it’s important, I’ve learned, to be descriptive, while still staying general.
Pictures are “muy importante”!  (That’s all the Spanish I remember from the two years of education I had in it.  Oh, and biblioteca, iglesia, and a handful of other random words.)
People can’t see my items online like they can in the real world.  I think my photos are an embarrassment, and I’m surprised I sell anything.  But, I’m incredibly hard on myself, too.  ;)  I’ve purchased a new camera, and will be updating my shop with some new photos….just as soon as I learn how to use it!
I’ve taken a buyer’s look at my photos.  This was about a month or two into selling on Etsy. I was horrified.  I would search for my items….they’d be there….and I wouldn’t even notice them in the search!!  If I couldn’t find them, knowing what they look like, what was the odds anyone else would notice them?
So, I revamped them.  They’re getting steadily better, but are definitely a work in progress.  I take great pictures of landscape and my dogs, but….I can’t put those pictures up for a “think happy be happy” sign!  My dogs are not for sale.
We’re allotted 5 photos on Etsy, and using every slot is to my advantage.  Especially selling art, like I do.  I get to take pictures from just about every angle.  Have a couple on a white background, and a couple with signs propped up on a shelf.
When to post?
I used to post everything I had, whenever I had it.  Regardless of the time of day.  But, I wasn’t getting a whole lot of views.  So, I did some research.  Read a bunch of articles on Etsy.  I found out about Google Analytics.
I set up the Google Analytics function to track when people were most on my Etsy shop.  I also tracked when people were buying my items – morning, afternoon, evening, late evening.  Based on those two factors, I now only post new listing during those specific hours where my shop had the most visitors.
There are always exceptions, so if one of my personalized and customized items sells at a time of day that is uncommon, I’ll re-post it again right then and there.  There will always be people looking around and stumbling onto stuff.  So, I figure, it doesn’t hurt anything to set something out there at another time of day, and just see what happens.
I tend to post at least one thing a day, too.  Or, if I don’t have something ready-made, I renew an older item to keep my shop fresh.  Normally, on the weekends, I’m re-listing what I already have.  Weekdays, new things.
I don’t really have a justifiable reason for that, other than, most of my sales occur during the “work week”.  Except, for some reason, I tend to have a good handful of sales on Sunday nights around 10pm CST.  (shrug)
It seems to be working.  I’ve driven myself nuts with some of this stuff…  Taking a full weekend to change every, single, picture.  That was a TASK!!  Since then, I’ve decided to change them again.   Now, I’m getting a new camera, so guess what’s on the horizon….
Yep.  Another round of pictures.
Same thing with my tags.  I’ve taken another whole weekend changing them around.
Sometimes, I think it was easier when I was working in that corporate environment.  But, in the end, all these things come together to create the entirety of what people see about my item.  So, I figure, they’re important.
It’s important to tag, so people will find it.  To list, so I’m visible.  And, to list at the times of day people look for my stuff.  Cause, I’ll get the most traffic.
Talking about traffic, Networks….that’s up next.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

6 Months Flies By – Things I’ve Learned, Introduction

February marks my 6th month anniversary of opening Rustic Carvings on Etsy. There was about a month of preparation on my part before I opened my shop. I was naive when I started, and have learned quite a bit in this short amount of time.
I’m going to take a moment to look back, right quick…. (That’s Texan talk.)
I remember when I thought I could just post things on Etsy, and they would sell. Automatically. Like, I’d wake up the next day, and everything would be gone from the previous day. See, naive. I remember being discouraged when, later in the week, all the items still remained available and I didn’t have one. single. sale. As it turns out, this takes A LOT of work.
A couple friends ordered, and that helped boost my confidence greatly. Although, I appreciated their support, I really wanted people I didn’t know to buy things. You can’t sustain a business with just your friend’s purchases. Well, I suppose you can, if your friends are all super rich. Mine, however, are not. They all have these things called “jobs”. 
When I began, my selling style was somewhat of, “post and cross your fingers someone will buy it”. In some respects, I guess, it’s still very much like this. Selling artwork isn’t like selling ordinary, everyday, products. Nobody “needs” art to go about their daily lives like they need soap, makeup, or a myriad of other things.
Now, that I have some time under my belt, and have listened to the wise discussions of my fellow teammates on Etsy, I’ve come a long way. Some of it is trial and error, sure. Some of it is just plain research.
So, my goal, over the coming days, or weeks, is a series of posts regarding what I’ve learned. What’s worked. What hasn’t.
To those that think I quit my job and have been sitting at home eating bon-bons all day, you’ll see how much goes into this.  No eating of the bon-bons. Although, I do work a lot, in my pajamas.
A job at Starbucks or Pier 1 is looking mighty fine to me right now. If not only because I used to get things called “vacations”….
What will I talk about? Oh, stuff like, how I get people to visit my shop. Social Networking. Teams. Trial and Error. What I’m still afraid of in the garage.
I just had my first sale on ArtFire today, and let me tell you, it’s no less exciting than the first one I had on Etsy. I ran into the living room, and jumped up and down for joy. My husband congratulating me, and hugging me. I think he gets a special sort of joy in seeing my excitement.
I’ll say it’s important to have a great support system if you try to do something like start your own business. I couldn’t do it without the loving support of my family or my friends.
It’s also important to love what you do for a living. It’s an amazing experience to wake up in the morning and WANT to work. The ideas churning in my head… There’s nothing quite like it.
Stay tuned.