Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Create Color Grid Charts with Picmonkey

Ever since I started taking custom orders for my bridesmaid bags, I’ve created color charts for fabric choice references. Each time I purchase a selection of new fabrics I update my color charts. It can be quite a chore to make these updates and I’m always looking for a better way to make these charts easy to read, true to color and streamline the process.

how to create color grid charts with picmonkey
Because I learned how to create a collage in Picmonkey and appreciated how easy that was, I chose to use it again for this task.

SCAN IN YOUR FABRICS

I’ve used different techniques to capture a sample of my fabric offerings. I started by taking photos of each sample but found that the color was too inconsistent. I also tried capturing photos from fabric websites but they look too digitized.

The easiest and most consistent way for me to capture the realistic color and texture of my fabrics is by scanning them. I use a CanoScan LiDe 700F.

EDIT PHOTO COLOR AND SIZE

Even though my scanner does a great job of capturing color and texture I always find it necessary to edit them a bit.

You’ll also find that when using Picmonkey to create collages you’ll need to reduce the size of your photos. If you don’t the program will block you from adding all the photos you might want. Because I used 25 photos to fill my chart, I reduced them to 800 x 800 pixels.

CREATE A GRID CHART 

I like to use a 5 x 5 square grid for my fabric charts. Anything smaller is too hard to read in my opinion. I showed you how to create a collage design in my previous post. I used this same technique to change a square template into a grid of 25 squares. 

Once I created my grid I simply dropped the photos in. Since I like to add a reference number to each fabric square I went straight to the “edit” screen, but to my dismay I couldn’t retrieve the grid to use for the next 25 fabrics.

My solution to this roadblock was to create the fabric charts and “save” them without the reference numbers added. After a completed chart was saved to my desktop I deleted the photos from the grid and the sidebar and added the next batch of 25. I repeated this process until all of my charts were finished. 

ADDING TEXT TO YOUR CHARTS 
Since my charts were now saved as photos, I opened Picmonkey again and used the “edit photo” function. Adding geometric shapes and text my charts was super easy this way!

If you are using Picmonkey to make collages or reference charts and you know any tricks for making this process easier I’d love to hear about it!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Secrets to Getting Press for Your Etsy Shop

There are so many ways of putting yourself out there in hopes of getting published in magazines and on blogs. I’ve listened to podcasts, watched Etsy trainings and collected ideas but I just haven’t made the time to reach out to magazine editors or bloggers yet I’ve consistently been published in major publications year after year. 

Secrets to Getting Press for you Etsy Shop

So what is my secret?

Being on Etsy….plain and simple!!

ETSY IS A RESOURCE FOR MAGAZINE EDITORS 

Year after year I get emails from people who work in the editorial department for magazines and they are looking for items to feature in their next publication. They know that Etsy offers an abundance of new and seasoned artists and makers who are constantly creating new items. Their  job is to find one or more items that match the theme of their magazine article. Because they are working 3-6 months ahead, I’ve had editors click through my sold list to see what seasonal or holiday items I’ve offered before.

ETSY IS A RESOURCE FOR BLOGGERS 

Most of the requests I’ve received from bloggers have been about reviewing one of my items and featuring it on their blog. It may be tempting to jump at every offer that comes your way but before responding I suggest that you do some investigating.

I always take a look at their blog. If the look of their online presence, the voice they are using or the audience they are attracting is completely different from mine then I know I need to decline the offer.

If you get this kind of offer and you don’t see any red flags then go ahead and try it. It may work really well for you. And if it doesn’t then chalk it up as another learning experience.

Not all requests from bloggers have anything to do with reviews or sending products. Most of the time I get an email notification that they have used some of my photos and are featuring my shop because they like my items and my photos. These blog posts often bring traffic to my shop several months or years later. One such feature for me is this one by Ann Kelle!

GREAT PHOTOS ARE IMPORTANT

The one thing I hear over and over from magazine editors is that they like clear, bright photos with white backgrounds.

I spent most of 2011, my first full year on Etsy, tweaking and improving my photos. The fruits of my labor came in January of 2012 when an editor from Stampington & Company approached me about publishing a couple of my items in their June issue of Sew Somerset. I was completely shocked and overjoyed as you can imagine. 

You can find info here on how to make your photos publicity-ready. 

KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL PHOTOS ORGANIZED 

In most cases, when approached about using your photos, a magazine editor will request a high resolution photo of your item. The images that are posted in your Etsy shop are too small to be used for print. I would suggest that you try to organized your photos in a way that makes it easy for you to find all of your original images.

RESOURCES FOR CATCHING THE EYE OF THE PRESS

Although treasuries are no longer featured on the front page of Etsy, there are other ways to catch the eye of magazine editors and bloggers. This article and this article may be a little outdated but I believe you will find most of the information helpful and relevant.
 
Another Etsy article about Getting Press is written by Amy Flurry. I checked out her website and found it to be full of great advice if you decide you’d like to reach out for press opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Benefits of Joining Prototype Teams on Etsy

Etsy prototype teams were such a mystery to me for so long and often, even when I joined some of them, I didn’t give any feedback. Recently, after being an active member of the Listings Management Prototype team, I realized how valuable our voice can be when we give honest feedback in this type of forum.


So let me walk you through where to find the list of Prototype Teams, what you might expect when you join them and how you can benefit from being a part of these projects. 

HOW TO FIND A LIST OF PROTOTYPES ON ETSY 


A link to the list of prototype teams can be found on your Etsy “front page” ~ the page that appears when you click the HOME button or the orange Etsy word in the top left corner. Scroll down the page and you’ll see a list of links on the right. Prototypes is the last link in the list. 

When you get to the landing you'll see that Etsy describes prototype teams as projects released by Etsy Admin for the purpose of gathering data and observing how people use them. These projects may come and go at any time and they may not work as expected. 

WHY JOIN A PROTOTYPE TEAM  

First of all, if you decide to join a prototype team, there is no rule that says you can't leave the team later. 

So why would you want to join a prototype in the first place? The projects that Etsy introduces through prototypes are usually new features they are considering for future release. The members of each team are given the “beta” form of the tools or features. It’s like getting to read a book before it’s released to the public AND we get to give our feedback about how the book ends.

Etsy recently released an update to the Listings Manager on Etsy. As part of the prototype team I had the opportunity to give feedback about the features. I remember telling them that scrolling up and down the page from the title to the tag boxes was so time consuming since I pull my tag words from my listings title. I was shocked that they really listened to my frustrations and made some immediate changes! With a few more tweaks they designed the page so that the title appears at the bottom of the screen when you are working in the editing window!! 

MEMBERSHIP INCLUDES PREVIEW FEATURES 

Whether or not you decide to join in on the feedback conversations, you still get to use the features or tools. After you click “join prototype” they will instantly be available to try.

One such feature you may want to try right now is being tested by the Saved Snippets for Convos team. If you find that you are typing the same message over and over again in response to convos, you may want to join this prototype so you can save message snippets to a drop down menu that is available each time you type out a response to an Etsy convo.  


So in short, I encourage you to check out the list of Prototype teams about once a month. I'd like to know if any of you are part of a prototype and what your experience has been.