Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday Night Critiques

For those of you in Etsyland, I highly recommend going to HeyMichelle's Wednesday night critiques in the virtual labs. I've mentioned them in here before, but not really discussed them directly.
The virtual lab is like a chat room with shmancy features. Etsy's article about them for more information is here, or you can just go in and play around when they're empty (my preferred method of figuring things out in general).

On Wednesday nights, Etsy admin and generally cheery charming (but not icky-sweet annoying) person HeyMichelle signs onto her webcam from her Brooklyn apartment and basically talks for three hours without breathing. Sometimes she takes a long list of shops to critique (anybody who is there at the starting time and asks to be critiqued and/or convoed her in advance), sometimes she picks just a few that she thinks will be a good mix and have information to help a wide audience. Sometimes she chooses a general theme for the critique night (we did a whole night on photography once) and then we'll discuss bits and examples from shops in the room and anything people can think of as a great example of whatever we're talking about from random other Etsy shops.

When a specific shop gets critiqued, Michelle will go through and comment on whatever catches her attention, but the shop owner can ask specific questions, and everybody else in the labs will also comment on things they notice about the shop. The biggies tend to be banner/avatar, photos, tags, announcements, descriptions, prices/shipping, but all sorts of other things may be discussed, particularly if a shop's are glaringly good or bad. For the most part, people aren't mean about things, but if something needs work you are likely to hear about it. Michelle is particularly artful at addressing issues without sounding insulting. I'm much more inclined to say things like "Why would anybody buy a banner from a shop with a blurry banner?" and "Jewelry looks stupid with random-ass props." Occasionally you'll get people who are even meaner and/or more direct than that, but for the most part, it's constructive instead of useless and effusive like many a forum or friend critique.

In all my many weeks of showing up, I've only been critiqued twice myself. I wasn't avoiding the hot seat on purpose, as my first few weeks I tried to get on the critique list but wasn't chosen, but I stayed and listened anyway. Honestly, this was for the best and I think everybody should be required to sit through at least one night's worth of critiques before having her shop looked at, because I learned so much by hearing other shops get critiqued. My photos have gotten a gazillion times better not through my own critique but by looking critically at other shops and hearing advice on ways other people could improve their pictures and applying them to my own work. And that's what Wednesdays are amazing for: you can listen to and participate in talking about everybody else, and at the end of the night, you find yourself making changes in your own shop and drasticly improving all around. At least, that's what I do.

My best advice? Show up and shut up for at least an hour. You'll need a decently fast connection and sound, and the ability to apply things said about others to yourself. But if you can manage those things (and consciousness after 9 PM EST on a Wednesday night), you're in for a treat.


*NOTE: Photo from Etsy Labs' Flikr of some other virtual lab thing, but gives you an idea since I didn't take a screen shot.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Screw Email

I made something. It's another blog, but this one will be entirely cards and letters people have received. Love, hate, apology, the dishes in the dishwasher are already clean so please don't add dirty ones and if you get a chance put them away. I want them all. You should look at it and submit stuff to it so it doesn't die.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I nabbed a treasury for the first time in a long time! It may not be my most gorgeously put together effort, but I was working with a hidden message-theme and it contains some of my very favorite people and things. Give it love and find the message.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

TheModDog collars Freud

Since my dog Freud* is a rescue and I have no idea when his birthday is, this year we celebrated our "anniversary, ie when he was more-or-less dumped on me by the crazy dog rescue lady in Ohio. I love him infinitely much, and even though he's crazy, I don't mind. I bought him a new collar (he kind of needed one anyway) as an anniversary present this year from TheModDog and it is fabulous! Obviously, we had to do a photo shoot. I'm still a moderately lousy photographer, but he is a gorgeous model. Please enjoy, and I highly recommend TheModDog for all your pet collar needs!

*I named him because he is crazy and when I got him he was obsessed with his genitals. Now he's got the mommy complex, too, but I guess I asked for that one.

Find more photos like this on Indiepublic

Monday, August 18, 2008

Betsy, Base, B'DOH!

Maybe I'm just slow, but I just learned about Betsy Search. It's a website that lets you search Etsy things in convenient ways that Etsy doesn't, like a search that only includes shops that will ship to your country. There's a search for just within yarn, another for beads.

Also available at this glorious website, a tutorial on how to stick my things on GoogleBase. Base is the way Google lets you post things for sale that then become Google searchable. I tried GoogleBase once before, but I didn't know what I was doing and ended up adding a few select items one at a time and that blew goats. Now, with the help of the tutorial, I might actually manage to keep my stuff more individually Google-searchable and then more people will buy my products so I can finally afford that giant laser to destroy the moon and take over the world.

Wait...scratch the last part.

I'm now having a helluva time convincing GoogleBase that my xml file is properly formatted...either the Betsy tutorial isn't as wonderful as originally thought, or I'm screwing up some bit of minutia that is terribly necessary for XML and HTML and all this stupid web language crap. This is why I do not want to be a web person. I'm more comfortable screwing around with code than many, but it makes me want to punch things. Glorious update later, perhaps, if I can get a webbier friend to take a look and tell me. This is why it's nice to A) be of my ridiculously youthful and computer-savvy generation B) have giant nerds for friends and C) be a giant nerd.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm in Michelle's Weekly Critique in the Etsy Virtual Lab (good way to learn things and I started going there a lot when I was in my worst migraine depths because it felt a little more like human contact than just the standard chat rooms).

And there are these earrings. And even though they are only $10, I know I shouldn't buy them because I have no money and my car may be costing $3500. So I will put them on my blog and give them love and that's kind of like having them on my ears and maybe she (infraredstudio) will still be able to sell them because they deserve to be sold because they are small and simple but interesting and fabulous. Or buy them for me. That'd be double-swell.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Googly Over Myself

I photographed assorted googly eyes on a few different wallpaper samples I had and came up with this as my new blog background. I'm pretty damn pleased with myself. I also sold two cards to two people on Friday (marking my 50th and 51st sales!), and my shop finally looks somewhat cohesive and full. Considering the migraines have been nasty again lately, I'm doing pretty well in Etsyland.

I need to live closer to a 24-hour bakery. Wait, no, I really don't.

Sweet mother of templates

Someone in EtsyGreetings sent the link to this wonderful page of free blog templates:

So first I messed around with just changing my template to one of theirs. I really liked a few of them except for "_____" where "______" was the image at the top or the background or some other detail that didn't it my personal style/snarkitude (how dare they be imperfect, the free site amazing service that they are and all). I chose one I thought was close enough and started to personalize it, but the top image just kept bothering me and I wondered if I could change it to my scissors background thing I use on my shop banner without exploding all the HTML code and such.

Fortunately, I am a giant nerd. I found the spot in the HTML for the template that had the link to the image I didn't want. I dragged it into Photoshop, thinking I'd just play around with it a little, maybe add a poop heart or some of the sheep that Amy drew for the "ewe" cards. But it looked dumb, so I tried using the original banner's dimensions and changing it entirely to my scissors thing, then uploading my new branded-ier banner to flickr, taking the URL of the full size image, and pasting it into the template HTML where the old banner image link was. Bingo. But now my banner didn't go with the background (which I really liked). So I found the background image URL (not far from the banner one) and started playing with THAT, only to overhaul THAT whole thing...I'm still not thrilled with the background, but I feel very techno-savvy and my blog is now undeniably mine-looking. Maybe tomorrow I'll take some photos of googly eyes and yarn or something and turn that into the background instead. Seems a bit ridiculous considering how much time I spent arranging those photos for the current background, but I'm in Super-Fuzzy-Stabby-Head Mode, so I was bound to get stuck on some strange useless project or another.

No, Freud (my dog), you may not have my artichoke kalamata hummus.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stuck in Traffic?

Today, I am discovering the world of "traffic exchanges." CraftySteph has an explanation on her website, and she's the one who got me started.
These things seem to be website hits for the sake of hits. If I look at x number of pages, they will show my website x number of times. It's something to poke at, and we'll see what happens.
I get extra credits or special points or something if suck other people in. Who wants to get sucked?