Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Butterfly wedding favor

Thanks to for including my plantable paper butterflies in their Rustic Wedding Planning story. Just one caveat: Don't really put your paper butterflies into cupcake frosting. They will absorb the moisture and fall apart before your guests can take them home!

Friday, June 24, 2016

2010 featured seller

I recently came across this interview I had back in 2010. It's amazing how much has changed in just 6 years, and how much has remained the same. I am no longer a Girl Scout leader and I quit my job at the local college to work full-time at my art business. I still love mint chocolate chip ice cream, and I learned to surf, but I have shifted my sales away from plantable paper and back to greeting cards. The best part is that I had just a few hundred sales when I was interviewed and now I have more than 7,000! So interesting to have this snap shot of my life.

-Give us some basic info about you: name, where you live, kids/pets, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.

My name is Martha and I live in upstate New York in a lovely college town. I have many part-time jobs, which add up to a couple of full-time jobs! I work at the local college, I am a member of an artisans cooperative, I am a Girl Scout leader, I have my Etsy business and I teach various arts and crafts in after-school programs and summer camps. Oh, and I am a wife and mom.

-Describe an average day in life of "you".

There is no average day. One day I might be making handmade paper all day for a custom order; the next day I am taking my troop horseback riding or baking brownies for a bake sale, but almost every day I am constantly looking to see what the light is like on my kitchen table so I can quickly take some pictures for my Etsy shop while the light is good!

-Were you creative growing up/what did you enjoy doing?

I was a tomboy growing up, just trying to keep up with my two older brothers. I was climbing trees, riding dirt bikes, having rotten tomato fights...

-What made you want to start selling on etsy?

I can’t even remember where or when I first heard about Etsy but I knew immediately that I loved it. It was easy and intuitive to use and I signed up and listed something within days of first finding it.

-How long did it take for you to get your first sale on etsy?

It took a while to get my first sale. I was primarily selling handmade cards with sales few and far between. I got into a convo with another seller who recommended I sell supplies. I switched over and my sales immediately changed and were frequent, Instead of selling a handmade card, I sold handmade paper so customers could make their own cards. Then I added my line of plantable papers. Now my bread and butter is custom orders. But I still always have a few cards listed, just in case.....

-Top 5 favorite foods, tv shows, and bands?

Food: Shrimp scampi, my mom’s Thanksgiving side dishes, my dad’s Peking duck, mint chocolate chip ice cream and grass-fed steak on the grill.
TV: Do I really have to admit on the internet that I LOVE reality TV? Survivor and the Amazing Race are my favorites, closely followed by The Apprentice and Clean House.
Bands: Rickie Lee Jones, Lyle Lovett, Fleetwood Mac, Josh Rouse

-Is there anything you'd like to try your hand at doing? Knitting, baking, soap making, wood working, an instrument, etc.

I have tried stained glass, jewelry making, candle making, weaving, screen printing, sewing, knitting, book binding, carving rubber stamps .... but what I would really like to learn how to do is surfing!

-What would you suggest to new etsy sellers to promote their shops?

List as often as possible so your shop is at the top of the search engines.

-3 etsy shops you just LOVE?

jellybeans, heartfeltbaby and toastmania

-One year from now, I hope my number of sold items is ______.

one thousand!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Customer satisfaction

My customers give me enormous satisfaction. Sometimes I think all of my best ideas come from feedback given to me by my customers. My best-selling product in my Etsy shop was a customer idea. And I think this idea may end up being a great one, too: A kind person bought a whole bunch of my cards at one of my gallery shows and recently sent me a photo of how she framed them. It's so pretty that I am going to do the same thing and and frame my cards for my artisans cooperative in the soft, pleasing colors. Not only will customers be able to buy them, it will give them a great idea of how to frame some for themselves, which will hopefully increase card sales. Love it. Thanks Karen!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WordPress and web sites

My aging mind has been quite challenged lately. I volunteered to work with a web designer to launch a long-overdo website for my artisans cooperative. Many of the members of the cooperative are older and don't value technology for marketing so I knew the only way we would have a website was if I grabbed the bull by the horns. But in truth, I also wanted to do it in order to challenge myself in a new way, and learn something about website design. The extent of my technology experience includes FaceBook, Etsy and my iPhone and I am not sure I use any of them to their full capacity.

It is a tricky thing to design a website that works for all aspects of a company or, in this case, group of artists. And it's even trickier to be add content on a regular enough basis so that Google doesn't ignore us and consider us a static web page. I learned a lot more about search engine optimization (SEO) and now I know what people are talking about when they refer to WordPress, the program that I had to learn to manage the website. I am enormously proud of it, and love my individual bio page:

I think the best thing I learned, though, is that there are aspects of your business that you have to outsource. Building a web page is definitely one of them!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"artist Martha Starke"

I have been neglecting my Etsy shop lately, having had a few busy, busy months branching out into wholesale selling and also designing the website for the artist cooperative where I am a member plus juggling entry into another artist cooperative. So I sat down to putz around today and look at my shop, starting on the stats page. The very first thing that caught my eye was this search:

I can't say how tickled I was that the word "artist" and my name were used together to find me on the internet. I feel like I have somehow arrived in a new way. I now have my work in multiple retail shops and cooperatives and it makes sense that someone might see my work or pick up a business card and google me. I recently did the same thing, as a matter of fact. I saw a piece of paper art that inspired me with its beauty and simplicity. It was hanging over a bed in the room I was staying in, in a lovely Vermont home, and I spent most of the weekend glancing at it whenever I had a minute. It is a paper quilt and I searched for the artist's name (Lisa Beaman) and then googled her when I got home. I wonder if she saw my search in her stats and got all warm and tickled, too.