Confessions of a Dreamer

More Than Words Designs by Lady Lucaze

Hootsuite 2.0

So, I was once again browsing the forum pages of Etsy.com and came across a woman that mentioned a third party twitter application called Hootsuite 2.0. She said that it was a huge lifesaver when it came to her advertising her shop on twitter. In usual fashion, I had to go and check it out. I went to my trusty Google search page and typed in the word “hootsuit” and was immediately taken to a result list that had the application’s home page listed right on top. I clicked and was on my way …

My first impression of the page was that it was very professional! It was very evident that time had been put into the website … there were even very nice tutorial and tour videos. In my opinion, if they put that much time and energy into the website, then the quality of the application itself should be comparable. At this point, I felt it was worth my time to continue looking around the website — there were functionalities that were very useful to business people such as myself looking to promote on twitter. It looked like it was a well organized and easy to use platform … and best of all, it was FREE.

I signed up and started using. What I have to tell you I use the most is the “pending Tweets” functionality. Every morning, I take about 30 minutes and set up all of the promotional tweets I want sent out for the day and the times that I want them posted. This saves a lot of time for me during the day and helps to ensure that I have a very steady stream of posts that link back to my products. Some of the other features that are included are a fuctionality to allow you to update multiple twitter accounts with the same tweet all at onece, the ability to allow other users to post tweets to one or more twitter accounts, and the ability to customize columns and gather statistical data.

This is truly a twitter application for those that are trying to move forward with a business. I suggest it for all of my fellow Etsians and many, many more!

Here is a link to the site: www.hootsuite.com

Let me know what you think. Until then, I’ll see you at checkout!

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October 26, 2009 Posted by | Business Advice | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quickie: My shop has gotten a facelift …

I posted a request on etsy the other day for a new shop banner and a new avatar in my etsy shop and I am here today to reveal what was made. I love what she has done for me … seriously! The request stated that I was looking for something in the colors of black and gold that looked elegant but simple (I can’t stand when graphics are overdone and overworked!). This is what I received:

Tell me what you think … honestly!

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Journal | 3 Comments

How to make a light box!!!!

Pictures are worth a thousand words! And in the online selling world, pictures can make or break your business. When you go to the store and shop you are able to try things on, see their true color under different light, feel the texture and material, and get a good idea of just what it is that you’re buying — right?! But what happens when the items you are trying to buy are listed on the internet? You can’t feel, smell, touch, or hear … all of your senses are disabled with the exception of sight. You are going to judge whether you like or dislike that item based on the way it is presented in the pictures that are listed.

So, what does this mean for sellers on the internet? This means that if you want to maximize the number of sales you have, you need to present your items in the best light possible (every pun intended here!). 

If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend money if you can do it yourself and yield the same results. One day I was at my local photography store I saw one of these “Pop-Up” light tents. It consisted of a collapsible white fabric box with a hole in the front and 3 lights – used for photographing small objects in photographic studios (like the shot of the chocolate reindeer to the left).

I was going to purchase it until I saw the $100 price tag. No way I am going to spend $100 on some fabric and 3 lights when the material costs far less. So I set off and built one of these light tents and it did not come out bad at all.

Here are the tools and items you will need to get started:

  • A Box — any box will do. The size of the box will depend on the items that you are selling.
  • Fabric — any type will do, but it is recommended that you buy a white muslin. You will need to buy enough to cover the entire box that you have chosen to use.
  • Tape
  • Glue — a glue stick or spray adhesive is fine (really any glue is fine, liquid just takes long to dry)
  • White bristol board (a heavey weight paper that is used for drawing) — I would suggest that you buy about four of these because you will need to do a little cutting
  • A Light — a bright desk lamp will work best for small and medium sized boxes. A clamp light may work well for larger boxes.

Here is the process:

  • Take your box with a tape ruler and marker and measure in 2″ from the side of the box marking multiple points with your marker. When your done you will see your border, connect the points using your straight edge to where you should have a nice looking square/rectangle in the middle of the box with a 2″ border around it. Leave the top and bottom of the box alone as you will not need to mark it 

    Step2Measure

    STEP 1

  • Cut out the boxes you’ve drawn. Repeat that to the sides of the box where you have drawn the boxes. When you’re done, cut off the top of the box or remove the flaps on the top of the box. LEAVE THE BOTTOM INTACT!
  • Now take your Bristol board and make lines with your marker for every two inches 16 times. Then proceed to cut out 16 strips with your scissors. Glue the paper strips into the box. Make sure the side with marker goes against the cardboard so it can not be seen.
Step3Cut-1

STEP 3

  • Take another piece of Bristol board and cut is so the width is the same as the inside of the box and the length is much longer then the box.  Place the long piece of Bristol board into the box to where the piece curves to the bottom. Avoid creasing as it will show up in your photo. Cut off excess paper that is sticking out the top.
  1. Step4Line-1
    STEP 4
  • Cut your fabric to where it will cover the holes. Then cut a big piece to where it will cover the top of the box.  Tape the fabric to cover the holes in the box except the one that is facing your background. Then tape the top piece on.

    Step7Complete-1

    STEP 5

YOU’RE DONE!! Now all that you have to do is light the box.

Step8Light

Voila!

There are many variations on creating a light box, but this is what I have found works for me. If you are having a shadow problem then I suggest lighting the other sides of the boxes. Once you have it constructed, feel free to play around with your new construction and have fun!!

Happy photographing, and I’ll see you at checkout!

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Business Advice | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Gift Buying Guide 2009 — Gifts for Men

Ladies, here it is! As promised, I have looked over the Etsy.com pages to find for you some gifts that I really think the men in your lives would like. There is a variety, so please don’t worry. Here goes:

1) Red Dawn Shampoo, Shaving, Bath Beer Soap ($5.00) — thebeersoapcompany.etsy.com

Red Dawn Shampoo, Shave, and Bath Beer Soap (Made with Sam Adams Irish Red Ale)

 2) Keepsake Cufflinks ($70.00) — tinytokensdesigns.etsy.com

Keepsake Cufflinks (Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Cufflinks)

3) Seatbelt Messenger Bag ($66.00) — interrobang.etsy.com

Seatbelt Messenger Bag

4) Drinking Glass Beer Bottles ($60.00 for set of 6) — nickpaul.etsy.com

Drinking Glass Beer Bottles (Recycled and Glass-Blown Beer Bottles)

 5) Hand Engraved Long Rifle Pocket Knife ($115.00) — djreigel.etsy.com

Hand Engraved Long Rifle Pocket Knife

 Ladies and gentleman, there it is … a beginning shopping guide for those picky (but loveable) men in our lives. Feel free to follow the links to the artists shops on Etsy.com and see what other treasures you might find — as always, there is something new every minute.

Next week I will be adding a holiday shopping guide for pets. EXCITING! Who doesn’t love pampering those little furry companions that love us all unconditionally.

Until then, I will see you at checkout!

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Gift Buying Guide | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One month in and I have my first sale!!!

At the rate I was going, I thought it would never happen! I was creating new pieces of jewelry and posting them on Etsy, and then crossing my fingers. I got a lot of views … I even got a few people to add me as one of their favorites. But no sales!

I was so determined to find the secret to success on Etsy.com, so I started to patrol the forums in the “Business Advice” section — let me tell you,

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it was a treasure trove of information. There were experienced sellers that were just handing out information, all you had to to do was take it and run with it. And that is exactly what I did. There were psts about having a blog to advertise your pieces and give potential customers insight into who you are as a person and a designer (enter this blog: Confessions of a Dreamer); there were posts about regularly updating your status on twitter and getting a following there to advertise your work (enter my twitter persona: morethanwordsll); there was information on how to take good photographs of your jewelry; there was information on search engine optomization and how you can make your pieces easier to find using a search function … I learned so much over the past month from the men and women in that forum that just saying “Thank You” wouldn’t be enough.

So, after all of that learning and hard work, I have something to show for it. On october 6, I made my first sale … the Britne Bracelet (featured in this blog, actually). Hopefully this will be the first of many and the start of a very good career. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Until then, I’ll see you at checkout!

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Journal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Small Business Accounting Software: The Good and The Bad

The first part of this article discussed the things that needed to be a part of a small business accounting package, and what help the existing software in the market typically needs, and whether or not a small business can actually do without the help of an accountant or book-keeper. Let’s put all of that aside, and now simply talk about the accounting software available in the market as is. The packages I have used, and most of my clients use, and ones that are available almost globally will be the subject of discussion here.

Of the four packages mentioned here, QuickBooks and SAGE are scalable from small business to medium business. So before I dwell into which is superior and which is not, if you think you have a business that will grow or develop at a rapid pace, and will outgrow the circa definition of a Small Business, maybe you’ll have to stick to one of these. That’s not to say that Peachtree or Microsoft Office accounting cannot support medium size business. It can, with intelligent, creative (but legal) accounting.

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Quickbooks Pro 2009

QuickBooks – The Good

In my opinion, QuickBooks is probably the most comprehensive of out of the four packages (QuickBooks, Peachtree, Sage & Microsoft Office Accounting). It provides relatively efficient functionality, with a standard interface, customizable reporting, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Feature-wise, it probably contains more than any of the other three pieces of software; it will do the basic accounting, invoicing, payroll subscriptions, credit card transactions, GL, PL & SL, prepaid (well, sort of), customer statements, financial reporting, etc. etc. etc. Quickbooks ALSO has some concept of drill down functionality, which can be relatively insightful at the click of a button.

Another area that QuickBooks has a big plus in its wide market area and availability of support. It is relatively easy to find QuickBooks consultants (certified or not). The support network is out there, and their own web site can guide you on where and how to find support. Plus, if you’re in the US, QuickBooks is the software of choice for many US Universities, making most accounting graduates QuickBooks literate, if not experts.
In addition to the friendly interface, QuickBooks is relatively self explanatory. The titles in the menus, the screens, the interface, the ease of use, all makes it a very efficient piece of software, especially if you’re a computer literate accountant. Even if you’re not, the learning curve is not too high.

QuickBooks – The Bad

From my position, I really don’t have much bad to say about QuickBooks. I’ve been using it for several years, and functionality wise, there’s really not much wrong with it (in comparison with other accounting / bookkeeping software in the market). The only possible drawback is that it’s ultra feature richness may make it confusing for the not so computer literate accountant/bookkeeper.

Technically, QuickBooks has one pitfall. From year to year, newer versions come out, and compatibility has been an issue in the past. If you upgrade, you have to convert data, and although it’s not that tedious with the new version, it would be much simpler if Intuit simply made Quickbooks backward compatible, which it probably doesn’t for reasons of profitability.

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Sage Instant Accounts

Sage – The Good

Really, I don’t have much to say here. In the near future, you will see me as both a QuickBooks Pro advocate. It’s an okay piece of software. The interface is relatively standard, and it can pass off as a bookkeeping / accounting software, although all the others will give it a run for the money, and probably beat it.

Sage – The Bad

There’s a lot to say here, but I won’t bad mouth them too much. No drill down functionality, unfriendly interface, unfriendly usability, restrictive, poor layout, etc. etc. Clearly, you can tell that this is my least favourite software, so I’m going to stop talking about it now.

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Peachtree Accounting 2009

Peachtree – The Good

Peachtree is a fantastic piece of software. Although I trained on QuickBooks Pro in university, the first piece of accounting software I used on the job was Peachtree Accounting. I was pretty reluctant about it first, but as it turns out, Peachtree is a wonderful piece of software.

It’s a less dull, less serious looking version of Quickbooks, and offers virtually all the functionality of QuickBooks. There’s less gray (unlike Quickbooks & Sage); the interface and layout are very clean, the different templates are customizable (as they are in QuickBooks), and it offers all the supplementary functionality (credit cards, good journal layouts, invoicing, POs, SOs, etc. etc.). All in all, this is a great piece of software, and is a wonderful place to start for any small business. It’s not to heavy on the pocket, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how it works. Oh, and Peachtree offers some drill down functionality like QuickBooks (unlike Sage).

Peachtree – The Bad

Peachtree is only US compliant. The software is not available for purchase or use outside the United States, and it doesn’t support multi-currency. What’s worse is that Sage has bought Peachtree from Best Software, and it has become Sage’s way into the US market. As long as they don’t make drastic changes to Peachtree, it is a fantastic piece of small business accounting software.

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Microsoft Office Accounting 2009

Microsoft Office Accounting – The Good

Okay, this is Microsoft’s first step into the Accounting domain. Originally termed Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006, the software was renamed to Microsoft Office Accounting, and rightly so. It’s a sharp mixture of QuickBooks and Peachtree functionality the Microsoft Way. What’s good here is that this is one of the very few small business Accounting Packages on the market that will support multi currency without any issues, and it can probably pass off as a software that doesn’t necessarily require you to be very accounting literate. Why, you ask? It shares a striking resemblance to Microsoft Office, hence the name Microsoft Accounting. The idea here is that if anyone can use Microsoft Office Products, they should be able to use Microsoft Accounting.

Frankly, I have been impressed with Microsoft’s first try at Accounting Software. It may need some bug weeding, but all in all, this is a good starting point for Microsoft, and after months and years of using QuickBooks, Peachtree & Sage, it didn’t make much for me to get comfortable with Microsoft Office Accounting; just a couple of hours. This is a very affordable software for most small businesses, and provides the BASIC functionality of Quickbooks & Peachtree, without passing off as a complex, confusing or difficult to use accounting/bookkeeping package.

Microsoft office Accounting – The Bad

At this point, since this is something that is actively being developed my Microsoft, credit card processing, payroll etc., though existent, are slightly limited. Although most small businesses don’t use these features from within the software, they are useful considerations, as a small business truly sees the use and efficiency of the software if functions like payroll are managed from within the software. This software is certainly scalable, but at this point it’s a very good basic package for small business, and scalability is yet to be seen.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Business Advice | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In the Workspace Showcase Series: Jewelry by Tara

Just call her Wonder Woman!

With over 10 1/2 years of experience tucked safely under her belt, Tara Van Stelle not only designs her own pieces, manages a household, raises two sons, takes care of her chihuahuas, and runs her own business. Talk about amazing!  As a Southern California Based Artist, she holds a certificate in antiques/vintage appraisal, and enjoys mixing the vintage and contemporary in her handcrafted designs. She has created beautiful pendants using items that you would never think of as jewelry — including domino pieces and scrabble tiles. You have to love her ingenuity as an artist:

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NEW Shabby Chic Fall Damask Domino Pendant Necklace 3

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Steampunk Chic Scrabble Tile Pendants

Her designs are a clear combination of hard and soft — a self described shabby chic artisan. A rebel in the world of jewelry design, she strives to create pieces that have meaning to not only the wearer, but to everyone that sees them as well. When I asked her about what motivates her and inspires the beautiful pieces that she creates, she responded with this:

“I have so many things that inspire me and I could create all day if I was allowed. I am extremely enamored of anything vintage/antique. I have a certificate in antique appraisal which helps me out when I’m hunting for truly unique vintage components to add to my pieces. As far as artists go, I loved Edward Gorey and a lot of other dark artists during a blacker period of my work. These days I like to keep it light.”

She is living far beyond the American Dream. As a country that is founded on the principal of letting one determine what their love and vocation is and then allowing them to pursue that (and legitimately make a living on it), Tara and her jewelry business are a living testament to that. So, where is the future of Jewelry by Tara headed to now? Only Tara can tell you that:

“I have always dreamed of having my jewelry in a successful B&M shop like Nordstrom or Kitson and/or opening my own homemade gift shop.”

Now she is hoping to inspire you with her altered art pendants, and other unique and unusual creations. If you want to get a little bit more of Jewelry by Tara, visit her at jewelrybytara.etsy.com.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | In The Workspace Showcase Series | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Holiday Gift Buying Guide 2009 — Gifts for Women

The holiday season is just around the corner and it is time to get looking for that perfect gift to give to the people that you love, people that you want to thank, and the people you just want to show a little appreciation to. This is the first in a series of holiday gift giving guides for 2009, and I am bringing you what I think are SOME of the best finds from the pages of Etsy.com.

Today, for your perusing pleasure, I have listed for you 5 different ideas that would be great for that special WOMAN in your life:

1) Belle Tote with Italy flannel wool ($49.99) — christystudio.etsy.com

Belle tote with Italy flannel wool

2) Pale Gold Tunic Dress with Silk Ribbon Detail ($165.00) — hollystadler.etsy.com

Pale Gold Tunic Dress with Silk Ribbon Detail

3) Orchid-Infused Italian Bergamont and Pink Grapefruit Shea Body Butter 8oz Jar ($27.00) — pipertate.etsy.com

Orchid-Infused Italian Bergamont and Pink Grapefruit Shea Body Butter 8oz Jar

4) Just the Two of Us 24X36 Acrylic Painting Original ($179.00) — amygiacomelli.etsy.com
5) Speakeasy Vanilla Perfume Oil ($11.00) — wiggleperfume.etsy.com
These are just a few ideas … there are plenty more to come soon, so check back with me often. My next feature will be on gifts for men — so ladies get your pen and paper ready, because you are going to want to see some of the things that I have found.
Until then, I’ll see you at checkout!

October 4, 2009 Posted by | Gift Buying Guide | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcements: New Blog Series for the Etsy Artisan

I just wanted to announce a few new blog series that I am going to be doing from now Through December:

  1. Featured Etsy Artist — Every 2 weeks I am going to be posting a new Etsy Artist Feature, showcase some of the unknown artistisans. I want to give you, as potential customers and new fans, an opportunity to know who the artist is behind the work as well as give you an opportunity to view some of their newest work.
  2. Weekly gift buying guide — Ladies and gentleman … the holidays are a comin’! I want to help all of you get prepared by showing you some new and unique gift ideas and where they can be purchased. I want you to be able to WOW your loved ones with things they never expected, never thought of, or never thought they could ever afford to get. Check back often to stay up-to-date.
  3. Business resource seminar series — for all of my followers that are trying to start their own business, I will be posting a monthly article that features at least one business resource that you will need in order to be successful. Topics will range from accounting software to help you keep your finances accurate and in check, to lists of state and goverment agencies that should be kept in your contact list.
  4. Product revierws — I will also be periodically posting product reviews for business software as well as advertising and billing websites and hardware.

The next couple of months are going to be great and filled with useful information to get you ready for the holidays and the new year. I hope that you mark this page and come back often for the updates and new posts.

Until then, I’ll see you at check out!

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Announcements | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This is just a side note …

Last week on monday I was in a pretty scary car wreck on the interstate. If any of you out there are in the Nashville, TN area then you know about the several, rather unusual, days of torrential downopour that we got. Tennessee roadways are not prepared for this kind of extreme weather event! As you can imagine, the interstate was an accident waiting to happen — apparently waiting for me. I hydroplaned on one of these massive puddles and after trying unsuccessfully to regain control of my car, ran right into the concrete retaining wall at 56 mph. OUCH!

I managed to walk away. $28,000 in emergency room bills later (I, unfortunately, am not one of the ones that makes enough money to afford a place to live AND health insurance) it was determined that the only damage that was done was to my back — 2 vertebrae were fractured. I spent last week confined to my bed, not allowed to move. I had all the time in the world, it seemed, to devote to my blog and Etsy shop. My stats were through the roof!

Yesterday, however, was my first day back in the real world. I woke up as usual at 5:30 in the morning. Struggled to get dressed and ready for work … moving at the waist is agony and will be for the next month or so. Woke up the boyfriend and headed out the door for a 10 hour day at the front desk of the Nashville Airport Courtyard (you can tell that my supervisor really appreciated having to cover my shifts last week). And at 6 pm, I went to my public speaking class. I had no time to create new jewelry, update my shop, post on any forums, or give my blog any attention — I only had 5 views the entire day. 😦

Maintaining my status on the internet is a full time job in itself. I really cannot wait until the day that I have a loyal and regular following of viewers. Sigh!

C’est la vie … i guess. Back to the trenches for me.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Journal | , , | 5 Comments