Friday, July 12, 2013

I Thought the Rules Were Obvious?? The Etsy Reseller Issue

Lately I've seen many Etsy re-sellers defending themselves by saying they didn't know that they couldn't sell on Etsy

How is it possible to open a shop and list, and not know that you cannot sell something that isn't handmade, vintage, or supplies?

When you make a listing, There are 3 questions to answer at the beginning of each listing:
*Who made it? Possible answers are:
 - I did
- A member of my shop
- Another company or person

*What is it? Possible answers are:
- A finished product
- A supply or tool to make things

*And the last question is When was it made? and it gives you different date ranges.

If you answer that an item was made by another company or person, you can only list in vintage or supplies. if you also answer that the item is a finished item, then the form will only allow the vintage category to be picked, and if you pick a date that is 1994 or newer, then this pops up in red

"Oh dear, you cannot sell this item on Etsy. Learn about what you can sell on Etsy.
Etsy is a marketplace for items handmade by you, crafting supplies, and vintage goods."

I can see the confusion in things like plain t shirts, onsies, bibs, and whatnot that are used very, very often for crafting, and even sold in the crafting aisles- and items that the person listing thought was vintage.

I can even see some confusion on the collectives issue- as it pertains to when a factory is selling direct through etsy.

 But I don't see how anyone can be confused with something like a bracelet, watch, other jewelry, dresses, and other obviously new obviously non supply items that they purchase and do nothing to.

Is there something I'm missing? The way I see it, you'd have to just plain lie.

And that's why so many legitimate sellers on Etsy are so quick to get angry. because there are lots of places where people who make their living buying and selling new non supply stuff can sell without lying, and they are lying when they sell on Etsy.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Set Up A Facebook Page For Your Business

If you have a business, you may want to set up a Facebook page specifically for it for promotion. Here's how to go about setting up a Facebook page for your business.

You need a personal face book account first. If you don't have a personal account, create one at After you have an account, make sure you are logged in and go to this page.

For a business, such as Karen's and mine are, you could choose“local business or place” or “brand or product”

Unless you have a local store, or are trying to get free face book advertising, I'd go with brand or product. You can change it to local business later if you come across free advertising (more on advertising later)

Then add a picture. This can be you, a product, or a logo. This picture is the avatar that pops up next to your posts, so you want it to be representative of your brand. In handmade items, a picture of you is sometimes a good choice.

Add some information: What they are asking for here is a basic description. What your items are about. You'll be able to add a whole lot more later. Start the about section with a link to your website, it'll show on the main part of your Facebook fan page.

And then the URL. When I started my page, you had to have 25 followers to get a custom URL. Now apparently, you are able to get one immediately :) Be sure the URL you set is the one you want.

After these 3 items are set up, you will be able to finally see your page. Facebook will take you through their tutorial on where everything is and you will be able to make your first post if you are ready.

Add a cover photo, face book says that this cover photo cannot be text based, or contain promo codes or sales information. Think of this cover photo as a tall banner, a sign on your page, and more opportunities for branding.

At the very top of your page, above where the cover photo goes, is the admin panel. Your visitors will not see this. This area shows your statistics, new likes, comments, shares, any messages your page received, etc. there is a small, grayish bar there where you can edit and manage your page. This is where you expand on the information that you provided at the beginning.

If you haven’t done so already, make your first post. This is a good time to welcome the people you are about to invite, say hello!

And now, invite people! If you've been on face book for a while, you probably have a few friends you can invite, click the build audience link at the very top of the page, and invite all of your face book friends! Many probably will not join, and that's fine.

Add your new face book page URL to your profiles everywhere, each place is another place to be found.

Come visit my Facebook page at 

Hope this helps!
-Steph from One Stitch Designs

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

I'm not sure when lazy became synonymous with sincerity but having people compliment your original ideas and designs only to attempt to replicate them is all part of the territory and everyone creative faces it at some point.  It really does feel terrible and frustrating and it's hard not to get angry but there's nothing much that can be done about it.  You can't copyright an idea or a technique and you can't sell your work and hide your ideas away at the same time.  It seems to be the way of the world and even we tiny businesses have to face it.  This must be my week because I've had one woman come right out and ask me if I would mind if she copied a design stitch by stitch and one of my Facebook followers has also started to try to do the same type of work.  Luckily for me both of them are copying hat styles that are just a little side line for me and not my sweater designs. Once I get over my initial hissy fit and calm down the first thing that I try to do is feel sorry for them.  It's sad to think that someone wants to be an artisan so badly that they would appropriate someone else's ideas to make up for their lack of creativity and ability to create anything original and I'd rather have someone copy me than have to feel that void in my life.  They'll never know the joy of that creative spark or feel the confidence that comes from knowing that what you make reflects who you are and how you see the world.  Somehow I doubt that the clink of the coins in their pocket measures up to that.  I feel better about myself if I can pity them instead of feeling contempt for their lack of integrity.

 The next thing that I usually feel is a cold determination to create even more complicated designs so that they at least have to struggle a bit to rip off my idea.  It's not much consolation but it helps a bit to imagine the tangled mess that they're probably making as they attempt to recreate something very colorful. Another thing that's good to remember is that there is a huge difference between a real friend and the occasional online "friend" that really isn't one.  Real friends are the people who you trust but a few of  your Facebook followers are likely to be selling similar items and are just scoping out your work.  I try not to take it too personally, I don't say anything to them or pitch a fit and I limit myself to nasty thoughts and giving their avatar the evil eye.  I also think really mean things about how amateurish and sloppy their results look to me.  It's a little bit of fun to "Like" their Facebook posts about it just so that they know that you've seen what they've done but chances are that they know no shame in the first place or they would have stopped themselves from doing it.  They might even be ditzy enough to think that it was a compliment.

 Even though there is nothing that any of us can do to protect ourselves against idea and design bottom feeders there are a few common sense precautions that will at least help in keeping them a few steps behind you.  Keep your ideas to yourself for as long as possible so that you can at least get the item completed before they come out with the imitation.  Don't share your great suppliers or tell anyone where you get unique materials and control your desire to help novices by showing them how to do more advanced work if they also sell their products.  If you spend a lot of time doing research it isn't always necessary to share your findings with the world.  Let them do their own work.  Don't tell the competition where you advertise and never get caught up in a race to the bottom of the pricing range.  If the market gets flooded with cheap imitations that you can't compete with then just accept it and move on.  Your best asset is your creativity and ability to take your work to the next step so use it to leave them in the dust with something new.

 If necessary find another outlet such as local brick and mortar shops to take your work on consignment at first and charge what the items are worth. You can also find a niche product that's harder and more expensive to replicate.  For example, lots and lots of people sell handmade sweaters but very few of them make plus sizes, one of a kind designs or invest in high-end materials.  I can't compete for bargain shoppers looking for acrylics but I'm not trying to.  My customers are too smart to pay handmade prices for something that they can find in any chain store for far less money.  They (and I) go to chain stores for common sense everyday purchases and then fill in their wardrobes with a few high quality pieces.  I want people to buy my work because they want to express their individual style and indulge themselves a bit and not because I have the lowest prices in town or because they want to look like everyone else in the latest trends.

 In the end all you can really do is suck it up, throw some rocks at a tree until you feel better and then get back to work on more original designs.  At least what I do is too complicated to be showing up as imports on Alibaba that can be bought by the thousands for pennies a piece and that's some consolation!  

 Please come by and visit me on my Mirabilis Fashions Facebook Page, at Plus Size Sweaters by Mirabilis Fashions or on Plus Size Sweaters by Mirabilis Fashions on Google+.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Before You Ask for Free.....

This is a post I found on another site, that is a re-posting from somewhere on Craigslist. The author is unknown, but I give her/him kudos.

This applies to all handmade, artists, designers, etc.

Before you ask for free design services...
Every day, there are more and more posts seeking “artists” for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are “seeking artists”, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don’t know any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting on craigslist to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the “opportunity” to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him “a few bucks” for “materials”. What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered “no”, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a “student” once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given.

4. Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the “experience” they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother’s house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely. For more information on this subject, please visit

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are “spec” gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.


As I said above, this is a re-posting and the author is unknown. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Helpful Tools To Price Handmade

 Handmade is by it's very nature, difficult to price.There are so many factor in deciding what the retail price of an item is going to be, and it doesn't help that we artisans tend to be more creative in thinking rather than business oriented.

Sometimes, pricing gets set based on emotions, because of what other people are pricing, or based on what the person setting the prices would pay for it.

None of those are good business (although it can pay to be aware what others are charging and selling similar items for).

Here are a couple tools that may help anyone set pricing.

 This calculator takes in your yearly expenses, how many hours you'll work, how many of them are actually billable (IE, you work 1 hour making a product, and one hour getting it out there, you have a 50% billable rate), etc, and tells you how much you'll need to charge per billable hour to make ends meet, and how much you'll need to charge per hour to get what you want.

This calculator takes a potential price, what you charge for shipping, what you are charged for shipping, your materials cost, and tells you what etsy and paypal fees are going to be

To get true business profit, add your hourly wage to the materials section.

The calculator was originally built to calculate for etsy and paypal fees, but you can exclude either one and even change them to fit a merchant account or another selling site.

Between the 2 above, you can get a pretty decent view of what you need to charge to have a healthy business.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Copyright and Trademark differences and similarities

There seems to be a lot of confusion about copyright and trademark

While the protections are similar, they are 2 very different things

So we'll get started with definitions. From Webster's dictionary

Copyright: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)

Trademark: a device (as a word or image) pointing distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and legally reserved to the exclusive use of the owner as maker or seller

So copyright protects words, images, and sounds (books and other printed matter, music, movies, photos, etc.).

While trademark protects brands (McDonalds, Hello Kitty, Disney, John Deer, etc.)

Another difference between the 2 is that when you take a photo, write words, etc. you are automatically copyrighted in the US and the other countries that recognize the same set of laws. You can pay to have your item copyrighted, but this fee is mostly for extra protection in case you ever have to go to court over it.

But a trademark only goes into effect when you pay the money to have your trademark registered with the USPTO (US patent and trademark office).

Both sets of laws allow you to license some rights.

With both sets of laws, the copyright and/or trademark holder must enforce them. If the holder doesn't enforce the laws themselves, they can lose their protection, even if they paid a fee.

Not everything can be copyrighted or trademarked. Clothing, for example, a finished item does not have copyright and/or trademark protection unless said finished item has a decorative element (artwork, logos, etc)

I always assume that words, images, etc are copyrighted unless it says specifically that it is in public domain,to be extra safe.

As for trademarks, if you are wondering if a particular term is trademarked, check here:

Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Get Started on Google+

We’ve all been hearing about how Google+ is going to help our SEO and give us a boost to our google rankings so this post will tell you how to get started with it.  

The first step is to create a personal profile.  This is similar to your personal page on Facebook and if you use it at all it should be for social reasons and not for marketing your products.  Just like on Facebook you have to have a personal profile before you can add a business page.  This link will show you how to get started by creating your personal profile. 

The next step is to set up your business page and profile.  This is similar in concept to your Facebook fan page.  This link will show you how to do that:

It’s a good idea to use a different avatar for your business page than you did for your personal page because that will make it much easier to know which page you’re on.  You can change your avatar by going to your profile using the profile icon on the left sidebar, hover over your picture and it will give you a chance to edit it.  You’ll see “Options” at the bottom left and under that drop-down there will be a choice to delete it.  Once you delete it you can add another one.

When you sign into google+ you’ll be on your home personal page which shows all of the posts from the people in your circles or that you’re following.  The way to get from one page to the other is to click on the Pages icon on the left navigation sidebar and it will give you a choice between your personal profile and your business page(s).  Make sure to enter links to everywhere that you have an online presence like your shop, blog and Facebook page on both of your profiles.  This link will show you how to do that:

Circles are the main way to share posts on google+ and you can find your circles by clicking on the Circles icon on the left sidebar.  When you’re using google+ under your personal profile circles are like Facebook friends. You have completely different sets of circles for your personal profile and your business page and there is no connection between the two.  The best way to think of it is that you have 2 completely different entities and you are the only one that knows that there is a connection between your personal page and your business page. The people that you put in your circles using your personal page won't see the things that you post under your business page and the people in your business circles won't see your personal posts.  You can choose which of your circles that you want to share your posts with and you can also share them publicly so that they get found in searches.  The most viewed and shared posts end up in the “Explore” area.

When you're using your personal profile you can follow or add any person or business to your circles and they get a notice and have the option to circle you back. You can +1, share or comment on anything using your personal profile name.

When you're using your business page you can follow or add other businesses to your circles, +1, share and comment on their posts using your business name. They get a notice and can follow you back if they want to. You can't circle or follow a person or comment on their posts using your business name unless they circle you first but you can +1 their posts and share them. When you try to add a person that hasn’t added you first to your business circles it doesn't give you an error but it doesn't add them either and their little card just floats back to the top when you try to drag it into a circle. You can tell that it didn't work because the number of people in your circle doesn't increase.  You can always remove people from your circles if you decide that you don’t want to see their posts after all.

You can find things to add to your circles in several ways.  The first is to search for subjects and businesses that you’re interested in or think that your target demographic will be interested in and follow them or add them to a circle.  You can also search by twitter hashtags.  The second way is to click on the Explore icon on the left sidebar and you’ll see a selection of popular posts and subjects and you can follow the ones that are businesses.  People also share circles so when you see one that you like you can add it to yours. (This can be time consuming because you have to edit the people out of the circle because you can't circle people as a business unless they do it first.)     One of the easiest ways to get noticed is to +1 and share posts that don’t already have hundreds of +1s because people are more likely to see you if there are only a few +1s there.  Before you post think carefully about which circles you want to share it with.  For example I’m following and in a few science and geeky circles that are almost all men under my business page to keep my feed interesting to me and they probably don’t care very much about my products and those posts might annoy them.  Start out by organizing your circles as you add people so that you can target your posts. 
Adding people to your circles and getting added back doesn’t do much to increase your google rankings but having your posts get +1s and shared does.  I can’t reiterate enough that the way to help each other and get noticed by others on g+ is to +1 and share their posts with any of your circles that seem appropriate and publicly as well.  I recommend creating an SEOteam circle with only people from here in it so that we can share our posts back and forth and only be spamming each other.  Just like on Facebook the way to encourage people to share your posts is to be interesting, funny and post more than just product commercials.   Bring in some new content and don’t just share what you see in the Explore area because everyone shares those and you’ll see dozens of them in your feed when you have a lot of circles.  Just like on Facebook, pictures and videos are more eye-catching than posts with just text are.  

 We’ve already talked about adding your links to both of your google+ profiles and if you have your own stand-alone shop or blog it’s very good to link them back to your google+ account.   You can add a g+ button to your site by following these directions:

You can link your site back to google+ by following these directions:

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at Mirabilis Fashions Plus Size Blog and tell me about the things that you'd like to read about.