venerdì 24 ottobre 2014

Shop makeover: better photography

After defining the target of my shop and adjusting a bit my shop's banner and avatar, I decided to work on the photos.
You know, or you probably can imagine, how good photos are important for on-line shops! But we have to so some considerations about the factors that make a snapshot a good snapshot. 

Good light, no invasive elements, interesting composition, no mess, elements that "speak" about the dimensions of the photographed object ... these are of course things to work on when taking photos of items to sell on-line.
But we have also to consider what we want to communicate through our snapshots to our ideal customers. 
We haven't only to offer a clear image, but also a picture of the experiences or the sensations that are linked to our products and customers are probably looking for. We have to communicate a mood, a feeling, a style.

Let me tell something about my shop. 
My ideal customer is the eco-friendly and nature lover woman I described here.
What is she looking for when surfing etsy pages? What does she like best? 
My answer to these questions is ... something that offers a connection to nature, to outdoor free time, to a rustic and simple lifestyle.
And are my photos ready to communicate this to her? Not 100%.
An important part of my items were (and some still are, because I need other time to work) represented by impersonal snapshots with white plain blackground and nothing interesting. They didn't offer the sensation of being connected with nature my target is looking for.
But other snapshots were very good. I took them outdoor in our country home (after these tests) and have an old cement wall as background and other element like old wood boards or grey stones. 
They work very well! This is the style I need for my shop's photos.
So I took new photos of a lot of items which hadn't this style!

Here you can find a sort of "before&after gallery" that explains in images this change.

Before/after for "pink cat pencil case":

Before/after for "granny square coin purse":

Little flowers, old wood, cement, stones, retrò accessories... this is what works well in offering a clear vision of a "close to nature" lifestyle to my ideal customer!

Do you agree with me?

martedì 21 ottobre 2014

Shop makeover: thinking about target

I can hear my readers saying: "Where have you gone?".
I know, I'm not blogging too much (for some reasons) in this period, although I have a long list of things I want to share with you.
I'm neglecting my blog, but I'm sitting long hours in front of my pc these days, because I'm working on a very big and important shop makeover (and so, after hours of hard work, I need to leave the pc far from me).

I'm (unlickily) out of work now and I have some free time to think about my little bussiness on Etsy.
Etsy is a hobby for me. I don't want to become rich with my creations, I only want to have fun and have a purpose for all the things I make.
But I can't conceal that the money I have on Paypal thanks to my Etsy shop has been important in the past, expecially to buy airplane tickets to come back to my family and friends in the north.
So now that I have a big amount of free time I decided to use it wisely and to improve some aspects of my shop which needed some help.

The shop makeover requires some steps. I've planned to write about them here on my blog, because I think they can inspire other Etsy sellers in some ways.

The first step is all about target!
If you are new to this subject you can read:
- this Etsy blog post ("How to find your target market")
- this Etsy worksheet ("Who's your ideal costumer?")
- this (italian) post on Etsy Italia Team blog ("Tre consigli per trovare e capire il tuo target")

I've paid attention to my products, their materials, their style, their uses, etc.
They were so heterogeneous!
It seemed like my shop hadn't a precise target.
And it was bad. Very bad!
I've read here and there an important thing: if you want to be for all, you will bo for nobody. It's true.
So I started to think to the thing my items have in common. I found it quickly: they are simple, inspired to nature, eco-friendly (because I mostly use recycled materials and/or organic fabric).
Something a well-defined kind of woman would like. She is in my mind, I know her very well, also because it's very similar to me.
Describing her in details in this blog page is not important, but I'm happy to write that I found my target market!

And after this important step I started to ask to myself "Is my shop ready to welcome this woman?".
The answer was (sadly): "No!".
The banner was too general. My avatar was too "elegant". 
The about page didn't tell about my passion for nature and eco-friendly life. 
My policies weren't promising something unique to my target. 
My items descriptions weren't focused on the eco-friendly process and materials I use to sew them. 
Only a group of my photos were communicating the rustic and nature-inspired style of my products.

A lot of work to do!

I started by changing the shop's title
No more the general "Bags and accessories" (thousands of people on Etsy make "bags and accessories"), now it's clear that MadameRenard makes "eco-friendly sewing".
And then I wrote it in a new banner I realized with picmonkey (a free tool online I use to edit all my photos).

This is my new banner:

Simple, with a modern rustic style, with something related to nature (leaves in the bag's bottom on the left), clean.

This is the one I've used before:

Same fonts and same cement wall as background (but darker), but very different for the style and the things it communicates to potentional customers.

I think I did a good work.
What do you think? Opinions are welcome, of course!

I've also changed my avatar
The previous one was an image of me well-dressed and well-"arranged" for a wedding.
A beautiful photo, yes, but... where was the real  me? The girl who wears informal clothes and spends her life between art and nature? Where was the girl who sew eco-friendly goodies trying to do her little part in saving the planet?
I needed a new avatar!
I picked up an old photo where I'm in the cloister of Certosa of Pavia, a beautiful place to visit if you are in northern Italy. There is art in it and a beautiful and bright green lawn. 

It's not perfect, but it's better.
It works.

This happened a week ago.
In the meantime I worked on other things:
- about page
- shop policies
- new photos for almost 50% of my items
- new descriptions and new tags
- items to remove because not oriented to my target (what to do with them?)
And I'm still working (now I'm focused on marketing).

I'm going to write other blog posts about the steps I'm making for this shop makeover.
Is this interesting for you? Please, let me know in the comments!

sabato 11 ottobre 2014

A failed project: t-shirt yarn mat

Sometimes things don't go as planned in my crafty world.
And I'm very disapponted this time! -____-
I have a big amount of t-shirt yarn in my stash and last July I decided to use it in some ways. 

After a bad start with my giant crochet hook, I turned to braiding the yarn to have a continuous braid to sew on my sewing machine and making a little mat for my desk.
You probably know what I'm writing about: my plans were to make something like this or this
They are so beautiful and colorful!!!

I followed the instructions, but, uhm, my mat started to curve. 
I haven't pulled my braid, I don't know what happened exactly, but I had this:

An ugly shapeless "thing". Whithout a regular shape, a sort of trod "sombrero" (the typicall mexican hat).

I finished to work on it some days ago and now it rests on my desk waiting to know its future destiny: the trash can or a new life?
I don't know.
I takes a more regular shape if I fold it in two:

But I can't see any use of it folded in this way!
And, yes, the curve shape suggests it can become a basket, but it's so crooked! It drives me crazy!!!

This is not the first time for me to see a projects that fails: do you remember my ugly bird?
But this time it's worse!
Anyway, this week other projects went oh, so, good! I'm making new bags for the shop and luckily they are very well done and beautiful, in my opinion. You can see a preview here and here
Suggestions about my failed mat are welcome, too!

venerdì 10 ottobre 2014

Simple happy things: late summer edition

Although almost all of you are probably into a very autumnal mood, here in Sicily we are enojoying the last days of mediterranean summer.
Yes, we are still wearing t-shirts and sandals. It's still summer, but fresh air and some rain here and there are announcing that autumn is coming soon.
So this edition of "simple happy things" is about late summer, like last year in october.

I've collected some photos of little beautiful things that make me happy recently and I want to share them with you.

My favourite snapshot: this tiny bird called "african stonechat" ("saltimpalo" in italian). It lives in the (still dry) fields behind my home.

Tiny (but very hot) peppers S. grew in our garden:

Acorns! S. picked them up during our last trip to Selinunte archeological park: 

If you want, you can look in my Flickr album at some snapshot I took in the western part of our region we travelled some weeks ago (Greek temples, Palermo, great panoramas from Erice ... you have to scroll down to the bottom to see them).
This acorns were green, but I wasn't enough fast in taking a photo, so now they are dry and brown.

A handmade paper rose S. brought to me after work (a colleague made it):

My first crochet-covered bottle is a good place for it, isn't it?

Books about craft bussiness on "patchwork pillowcase n.2":

Now that I'm out of work, I'm working to improve some aspects of my shop, but I'm also reading a very big novel by Ken Follett ("Winter of the world").

I'd like to listen something about your simple happy things in this period of the year. Leave a comment! :)

domenica 5 ottobre 2014

Cross stitch part III: the pink cat pencil case

This is my third project with the cross stitch silhouettes I embroidered this summer, after the pincushion with a red deer and the little snowman ornament.

What to do with a pink cat?
Something for a little girl, of course. And a little girl probably started school recently, so... a pencil case! Good idea!
I decided to use the cat on the flap (closed by a metalli snap) and to go on and stronger with pink making a fuchsia case. I also tested a new (to me) kind of pencil cases (vertical), inspired by these clutches by Ithinksew.
Quite satisfied by the final result.
I think some little girls would love to bring it at school.
It's available in my shop!

I hope you are having a happy Sunday.
Here in Sicily it's raining and I'm sewing new things for the shop (bags and accessories). I had a storm of new ideas the last days, after tidying up one of my fabric boxes.
I'm cooking yummy veggies, too, and working around the house (I feel like it will never ready and finished).
Yes, I'm having a quite Sunday at home. Very happy :)

mercoledì 1 ottobre 2014

The blue tunic + some sewing links

I had in my stash a blue knitted fabric I really loved.
I bought it some years ago for a ridicolous amount of money (2-3 €, I can't remember) during a quick visit to our outdoor market.
I liked the pattern (a mix of paisley and other "asian" motivs) and the fact that it was long enought to make a long shirt or a tunic. 
Instict suggested me to buy it without reflecting too much. 
But, when at home, I realized that the fabric wasn't enough to make something with sleeves and I abandoned the project and had to wait till this september to understand how to use it.

I made this tunic:

No pattern for it.
I've literally sewn it on my body, with pins and scissors with me. I decided to take some risks and I succeeded :)

It's a sort of long cardigan with short sleeves (or a long vest?) because it is closed by little metallic snaps on the front (but the bottom slightly opens).

I still like the color, the pattern, and how it looks on me on the back. 
There's something wrong on the front, but I can't understand what. Maybe the neck-line?

My plans are to wear it in this way now that the weather is still warm and sunny (you know, mediterranean weather ... we are still wearing t-shirts and fresh clothes although october is here), and to put a t-shirt with long sleeves under it in winter (so it will look like a long vest).

Before starting it I've pondered a lot around other designs and patterns.
My intentions were to make a kimono jacket or a cocoon cardigan. So I collected a lot of free patterns, tutorials and inspirations into my "Sewing clothes" board on Pinterest. Take a glance, if you are interested.
My favourite are this cocoon cardigan (so easy to make!!!) and this kimono jacket.
But the final inspiration to make my tunic came from this design. I mixed it with a t-shirt and a shirt I have in my wardrobe (bought, not handmade) and this is the result.

I have a lot of projects about handmade clothes and refashion, but I think I'll give sewing clothes a pause (althoug I'm very tempted to sew this with long or 3/4 sleeves). 
My creativity needs to work on something different... bags, softies, crochet, wood burning, art. I don't know where to start :)

martedì 16 settembre 2014

Happy nostalgia

I'm looking back to my holidays today and I'm into a happy+nostalgic mood.
Yes, it's possible. 
Human feelings are so complex that happiness and nostalgia can walk together.

I'm looking to all the photos I took during our holiday at mum's home in the north and I feel so grateful for those happy days together with my friends and family! 
My batteries plenty recharged. I did all the things I love best (not only drawing and embroidery, of course!) and reconnected with the real me.

We explored the country by bycicle several times and enjoyed nature and ancient monuments.

We stayed in the garden, a lot. 
Picked up vegetables and fruit and cooked them. Discovered new (to me) species my brother is growning (did you know purple basil?). Fed the turtles everyday.

I've read a couple of novels and learned something new about nature thanks to my brother's books about trees and plants. I love to have good books near the bed!

We made some works for mum with dad's tools and found them very beautiful in the backlight.

And at the end of our days there two special ones got married :)

You can say we did nothing special this summer.
Yes, we haven't explored the world and hadn't great adventures to tell you.
But we enjoyed all that little things that speak special words to our hearts. This is important to me :)

Other photos on flickr!