Thursday, April 26, 2007

Well, This Probably Wasn't so Smart

Beach glass inspired kaleidoscope wind chime. The beach stone clapper sounds great against the five copper chimes. Listed at .99 on eBay~ a foolish mistake, perhaps.

Oh boy... I may have made a Big Mistake.

After getting burnt on eBay a couple of years ago by starting a beautiful glass hanging at .99 cents, and having it finish at something like $15, instead of closer to the $125 it was worth, I vowed never to make that mistake again. No more .99 cent auctions for expensive works. But here I go again. Short memory for painful events? I guess so.

I just listed this wind chime, for which my usual price is $177.50, at .99 cents. This could be bad. This could wreck my week. What a fool.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Search Engines — Miffed at Google

My most recent (and one of my favorite) beach stone wind chimes. A very large, smooth and rounded, Pacific beach stone. The connections pass right through the stone, so Very strong. Five heavy copper chimes with a beach stone clapper. Tung nut oiled red cedar. On eBay now.

Until I made my own website I didn't pay attention to search engines, other than using Google dozens of times a day. For me, Google was it. It seemed to work okay, most often.

But once I had my own site up and running, I entered the mind boggling world of search engine optimization, or SEO as those in the field call it. Those not in the field, or who only dabble like me, might more often refer to it as ABN, or A Bloody Nightmare. ABN is the art / science / shot-in-the-dark of using text, mega tags, and design to have your site reach higher and higher on the search engine indexing results for important key search words. Important stuff, because if your site is not found, it might as well not exist.

After three months, I have been fairly happy with the steady indexing improvements for my site on Yahoo and MSN Search, but distressed by the indexing, or lack of, on Google. For a month or so, things seemed to be improving, and then, bang, something happened and I lost most of the progress I had been making on Google. That stinks. It doesn't seem right that unless you have a PhD. in SEO, or hire some company for hundreds of dollars, you can so easily fall off the search results.

That got me looking at other search engines. There is a very cool new one that has totally wowed me. It's called hakia. It's different, and it's Great! If you haven't tried haikia, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

Hakia is now my favorite search engine. And yes~ from a quick look, I like how my site seems to be indexed there. And no, this is not a 'paid for' posting.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pictures say it All

The original poorly lit image, and the somewhat better retake. In my excitement over a new design, I often can't resist taking pictures under far from ideal lighting conditions. Then, alas, I later have to go back and retake the pictures. A time waster. The latest beach glass inspired garden stakes are available on my website (three for the price of two!)~ now with better pictures!

An ongoing time gobbler for me is taking decent pictures of my work. Clearly, for selling the piece, the picture is key. After nearly nine years of doing this, pictures are still is a challenge.

Most often I know all too well when the light is wrong, and that I should not be taking pictures. This happens after just completing a piece, and being so excited (yes, still, after all these years!) I go ahead and take pictures. I know the best light to show off my work~ late afternoon as the sun sets, or a little earlier on an overcast day. Too early, and everything is too bright. A little late, and everything is too dark. So there is a fairly narrow window of opportunity for the best pictures. But in my enthusiasm for a new work, I sometimes can't resist.

Often I end up going back and retaking pictures. Sometimes I am horrified by how poor the first pictures were~ no big surprise that the wonderful new piece didn't immediately sell!

After dropping my beloved old Olympus D-250 three times, it finally broke two years ago. After trying out several cameras, I chose a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2, and love it. The macro function is fantastic, and it has this steady shot business which helps to compensate for a wobbly hand. Often I hold a big light in one hand, so taking dozens of pictures with one hand, this anti-shake function saves the day.

All I need is some sunlight filtering low through the sky, this time of year around 6:00 PM. Just a little while ago, 4:00 PM was the time to shoot. It moves up a few minutes each day, depending on the clouds, and how the sunlight is passing through the trees as it sets.

Yep, pictures eat time. But they sure are important.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oh Boy, Copper Prices Soar~ Again!

Heavy copper chimes. Yeah, I know, they have to find the stuff, dig it up, melt it down etc. etc. But still. Over a two hundred percent price increase in two years? That hurts.

Thirty day prices for copper

Not so long ago, I used to think it was such a great deal~ a length of heavy copper for under $10. Then it went up. Then it went up a lot! At $17, I stopped thinking it was such a great deal. At $23, I started to freak out. Now at $33, I am starting to figure out why they put the copper and gold charts on the same page! It's not just the price increase: it's how fast it is going up. Over 200% in such a short time. Ouch.

Well, I may have to raise my prices, or people will start buying my work just to strip the copper!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Internet (customer) Appreciation

Pretty? I had forgotten all about this mixed-media style kaleidoscope wind chime until a customer asked about them. Thanks to the internet, customers, viewers, other artists are able to easily drop a note, a comment~ this is a huge source of inspiration and motivation. To learn more about this wind chime, or to buy it, why not visit my website?

I feel an often overlooked advantage to selling one's art on the internet is direct contact with people. When you place your work in a store or gallery, you drop it off and (with luck) later get a check in the mail. You have no inkling of who has seen the work, who bought it, what people said. You don't know if ten people saw it or a thousand, and you don't get any idea of what people said and felt. But, depending on which site(s) you choose, using the internet you can receive feedback within minutes from potential customers, and other artists or craft people.

First, using counters and other statistical gathering tools, you know how many people are seeing your work, and even where and when they are looking, and for how long they look and read. If you have only a few visits a day, you know you need to figure out better ways to get your work 'out there.' If you have hundreds or thousands of visitors, and no one buys, you know you may have a problem with the work itself, or with the price. Either way, this is valuable information you never get from dropping things off at a store, where your work may not be displayed well, or perhaps the store is just not a busy place.

Second, and even better, selling on the internet brings comments, suggestions, ideas: Inspiration. Some of my very best ideas have sprung from a comment or question. How valuable is that? Extremely, and, once again, you just don't get that through a store.

Finally, and perhaps sweetest of all, are all the people who take the time to simply email and compliment your work. What a pleasure to wake and, with the first cup of morning coffee, read several emails from people who simply had to write and say how they love what you have done, how one day they hope to own something, how something impressed them so much. This past Winter, many a cold, wet, dreary morning has been brightened for me by such emails. You don't get that by dropping your work off at store.

So internet appreciation ~ Yes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More than Just Wind Chimes

Mission style table or desk lamp with tung nut oiled wood, copper and real beach glass. Some people think if they visit my website they will see only wind chimes. The picture above is proof that this is not so. From lamps to garden stakes to... yes, wind chimes. Why not visit my website and see for yourself?

Time passes. Some may recall the picture I posted of the huge mess from a small logging operation on our property. Now with only a few days left in the burning season, we are rushing to finish the clean up. It is hard, dirty work. But the job is almost done. It is still not exactly a Better Homes and Garden yard (not even close!), but it is a lot better than a few months ago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wind Chime Beach Glass Style variation

A pretty wind chime. A variation on my popular kaleidoscope style wind chime. It's surprising, but this one actually holds about three times more glass. The morsels are loose, so you can shake them into any position you like. Tung nut oiled red cedar. Eight copper chimes with my signature beach stone clapper~ Great sound. Learn more about this wind chime at my website.