Finally Available on Amazon!

Exciting times!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to update in ages, but if you’ve been following me across social media you’ll know that I am one of the selected few chosen to represent Amazon Handmade from the very beginning!

You can find me there right now via my Amazon Profile.

You can also check out the rest of Handmade at Amazon through this banner:

Monday Morning and discount offer

You’re probably generally better off checking this blog on Mondays, to be honest. If I do update when I’m supposed to – Sundays – it will be there, and if I do my procrastinate-until-Monday-morning thing then you’ll catch that as well. πŸ™‚

I’ll try to do better, but no guarantees!

I had a very restless night last night so even after one cup and a bit of Coffee, I’m still not quite there to regular humanity. I suppose this is how most people feel on Monday mornings, and what’s meant when people say they have a case of “the Mondays”. I’ll count myself lucky that it doesn’t happen more often, even though I have in fact arrived at the point where I don’t feel “right” until I’ve had Coffee.

Who’d’a thunk that I’d end up a slave to the Coffee god, eh?

Anyway. This week I’ve been making Pride keyrings. What do I mean by that? Well, one is a rainbow one, to go with the rainbow flag used for LGBT Pride, another is based on the Bisexual Pride flag, and the third is a Transgender Pride one.

Keyrings in pride colours

For all your Pride needs.

You can find them in my Shop.

I had a lot of fun making these. I love working with colours and I love making chainmaille, so using coloured jump rings is perfect. Next will be rainbow bracelets, when I can get my hands on big enough quantities of rings! πŸ™‚

A little while ago I ordered some jewellery displays – one bust for necklaces and one fake hand. Yup, I got a severed hand. Mannequin hand, but it looks quite realistic if you don’t look too closely.

Mannequin hand on top of a jewellery bust

It's gonna get ya!

You know it’s going to strangle me in the night. Hmm, maybe that’s why I had such restless sleep last night…

The bust is beautiful though, and I’m looking forward to using it for photos. +10 professional straight away.

And now the part that people who only read the title and skimmed the rest have been waiting for – the discount code. 10% off purchases of Β£15 or more. Use the code BLOGOFFER at checkout. I haven’t set an expiration date for this, so use it as much as you want. πŸ™‚

And with that I shall sign off for another few days. Who knows, maybe this will be the week I finally get around to posting the Byzantine tutorial! Check back on Thursday. πŸ™‚

Quiet day

I’m having a quiet day today, so I shall mostly be posting pictures. Should teach me to blog on the correct day, really, but me? Learn? Nah.

So that was my week. πŸ™‚

Earrings and Red Bull

Hmm, a lot of my Sunday updates seem to be happening on Monday mornings lately…

So what have I been up to for the past two weeks? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been making new designs, with new and old supplies; I’ve been writing new content for my website, and pondering other changes; and between all the work I’ve had life happen as well! As it does.

I ordered in some colour jump rings to make new and exciting chainmaille. I got three bags of colour mixes, which I realised when I got them was less useful than I had imagined. There isn’t enough of each colour to make bracelets! However, upon review, this may be a good thing. My Etsy shop currently has about three times as many bracelets as necklaces, and an even more skewed ratio for earrings. So I’ve been making earrings.

Earrings on a stand

Colourful!

At the time of posting, I have only made one pair available on Etsy. Hopefully I’ll be able to put the rest up for sale either today or tomorrow. For now, you can go to the Shop to get this pair:

Red chainmaille earrings on a stand

Rather pleased with these.

Only one pair available though!

I’ve also been pondering my website. It’s forever a work in progress, and I’ve been writing new content for it. Coming soon will be a new About page and a more comprehensive FAQ. I’ll also be taking new pictures for the Gallery, since I have a lightbox now and all.

I had my friend look over some of the content, and she made some excellent edits. She has a way with words that I do not, and she didn’t mind going through it at all. I’m lucky to know her. πŸ™‚ (For many reasons. But this included.)

So that will be coming soon. With “soon” being one of those relative, means-nothing-really kind of words.

As far as life goes, the most exciting thing that happened this week was a promotion for Red Bull which saw us receive four free cans. No, my life doesn’t get much more exciting than that. The Kitty also seemed to quite like it.

Cat sniffing a box of Red Bull cans

So exciting!

And that’s about it, really. Now I must go and make sure said Kitty doesn’t steal my beads!

Etsy School Part Deux

So I didn’t update last Sunday. I left the house at early o’clock to help my friend finish building his Magic the Gathering deck in preparation for a MtG tournament the same day. I was going to go home afterwards, but I followed him to the tournament like a puppy, and got caught up in the fun. I didn’t take part, but I watched loads of games and met tons of really lovely people. Maybe some time I will take part, but I’ll definitely go to watch again!

Later in the day we celebrated my friend’s, er, utter loss by going to the pub. So I was done for the day, and a blog post didn’t happen. Apologies.

Anyway. In the two weeks leading up to the Sunday of No Updates, I had two more weeks of Etsy Schooling happening. And I wanted to chronicle this, somewhat, because it really is interesting stuff.

The third week was SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is just as nonsensical as the “SEO” shortening, really. What it means is how to get found in search. Whether one is talking about the Etsy search or the big search engines like Google and Yahoo!, it’s useful to show up as high on the list as possible, preferably on the first page of results.

This is really difficult.

On Etsy, you have a little bit of help in the tags. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but if you scroll all the way down the page on an item’s description page, you can see a bunch of seemingly random words and phrases grouped together. Those are the tags for that item. Finding tags that are relevant yet different enough to show up in different searches can be a real challenge. But it’s still a great help to have them, because it means that if you put “chainmaille bracelet” in there and someone searches for “chainmaille bracelet” (which you should do, by the way, because chainmaille is awesome) then you’ll show up in that search.

Getting found by the big search engines is much more difficult. They don’t care about what tags you put in. They care about the text on the page. And you can’t just repeat “chainmaille bracelet” over and over again either, because Google doesn’t like that, and will remove you from search completely if they find out. No, for this you need “quality content”. If you ever find out what that is, let me know.

I’ve been amending a lot of my item descriptions because of this. I’ve been trying to describe the item while using keywords, while making sure it reads well, and my head hurts as a result. This stuff is hard.

Anyway, that’s a small introduction to SEO. I won’t bore you with it any longer.

The fourth week of the Etsy School was all about promotion. Heh, promotion. My worst subject. I’d probably get a D grade in it if we were in fact graded on it. Y’see, I try, but I’m just not a salesperson. I have a Facebook Page (which you should like), a Twitter account (which you should follow), Instagram, Pinterest and this blog (which you should all check in on now and then at the very least), but… *hopeless noise and flailing arms*

So I’ve decided to let it happen organically. I’m going to focus on Instagram (http://instagram.com/victoriaxsol) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/victoriaxsol) and try to post pictures and interesting things that people will actually care about. Rather than this Sell-Sell-SELL thing that promotion usually turns into.

I know my jewellery is good enough to sell, otherwise I wouldn’t be selling it. So I prefer to let people discover that on their own. (Go discover. πŸ˜‰ ) I’m just going to use my channels to make people aware that it exists rather than try to push it down their throats. Now I just need to figure out how to use Facebook… Hmm…

(Sorry about the lack of pictures in this entry. Go to Instagram to see what I’ve been up to in glorious technicolour. πŸ˜€ )

Lazy week

Well, I say lazy. I’ve actually got a fair bit done, but it feels like I’ve done nothing. I’ve been very active in the mornings and then going floomph in the evenings. Perhaps it’s the lack of sunlight lately. I run out of energy by the time I get to around 2pm.

However. I’ve been playing with my new lightbox. Oh yeah, I got my lightbox. Yay!

A photography lightbox with red and blue backdrops.

Shiny! Well, I suppose the point is that it's not shiny...

The results have been hit and miss and I have settled on the conclusion that I get the best results in sunlight still. So I’m still dependent on that for good pictures.

I’ve started replacing the photos on my Etsy listings. After I’ve done all of those, I will tackle the gallery on my website. I foresee great things. Hopefully.

I have just finished a custom order, for a friend. He requested a variant of a bracelet I make but as a necklace instead and I was happy to oblige.

Necklace with two male symbols and a "love" charm.

He didn't like the "love" part though.

I’ll have to remove one of the charms (having a “love” charm is too corny, he informs me), but that’s basically what it looks like. I’ll add a proper, lightbox photo to the gallery once I’ve got some sunlight.

Oh, and I’ve decided I have a deep, unyielding need to learn to crochet. I don’t exactly know where this came from, but it’s been growing inside me for some weeks and months now.

Packs of yarn.

So I got some yarn.

I went to Aldi on a quest for yarn, and what do you know. They had yarn. I’ve ordered some cheap crochet hooks off Amazon so I’ll be in business soon! Well, not in business, I don’t plan on selling it before I have a proper handle on it, but that’s how the saying goes.

I shall of course keep you updated on how my crocheting goes.

There are no cat pictures this week, I’m afraid. There’s a great one on Instagram of my cat drinking tea, though, so if you’re having withdrawals you can go there. In fact, go there anyway and follow my updates. They’re a lot more frequent than my blog posts, and although not as elaborate it’s still fun.

Now I shall drink some nice Coffee and ponder my next project.

Etsy School

For the last couple of weeks I have taken part in something called the Etsy School. This is an initiative by Etsy to help shop keepers improve their shops in various ways. We work in pairs to help one another, and are encouraged to make use of each other’s strengths and support our weaknesses.

Etsy School logo

Exciting!

It started with a shop critique. I was paired with the lovely Jessie G, who sells a variety of items with her illustrations. It was great to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at my shop, and mostly confirm things I knew weren’t good enough already. We got a worksheet to fill out and, yeah, the “school” part really started to resonate.

Etsy worksheet for the School

Worksheet of DOOM!

It’s all good, though. We were told to, after receiving our critique, set some goals for how to improve our shop. They were meant to be SMART goals, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, something and something. (I hate those things.)

Text box with SMART goals

More DOOM!

Note how they can’t even keep their letters’ meanings straight.

So my goals are:

1. Retake all photos
2. Rewrite listing descriptions

Don’t worry, I’ll save you the SMART version.

The second week of this School was all about photography. Which suited me well, since it fit in nicely with my first goal. I have seen so much learning material that I’ve gone cross-eyed, brain-foggy and unable to take it all in. I have, however, made the decision that I need a lightbox. So off to buy a lightbox I went.

I don’t have a picture. It hasn’t arrived yet. I am going crazy with anticipation because I just want to take pictures NOW I don’t like to WAIT give it to me NOW. (Imagine me stamping my feet like a toddler.)

Now, a lightbox isn’t that complicated of a concept. You can build one yourself if you feel so inclined. A professionally made one is a box made of white fabric with a backdrop of whichever colour (usually you get a choice of white, black and some others). If you want to make your own, you can clad a cardboard box in white paper. The idea is that you shine at least two light sources into it, the white fabric or paper scatters the light and you get crisp photos without shadows. Simples.

I have such high expectations for my lightbox. Once I get it, my photos will be instantly professional, everyone will love them and I’ll start selling loads. I realise that this is completely unrealistic, but I can’t help it.

Either way. I will certainly blog about my progress with the lightbox when I get the damn thing.

My second goal is a little bit more long term. We’ll be learning about SEO (search engine optimisation – how to get found in search) next week, which plays into how to write the descriptions. I have already started amending some of them, but I may end up going back and changing more once I’ve learnt more about it. I shall keep you updated!

Coffee Day

Today is a Coffee day.

I didn’t sleep much last night due to my boyfriend being ill and my worrying about him. It’s just the flu, but it’s still not great listening to his troubles breathing. So today I intend to drink lots of Coffee to get me going. I need at least three cups, then a shower. So that’s half my day planned already.

For the rest of the day we’ll be visiting my boyfriend’s parents. It’s his father’s birthday celebrations (yay, happy birthday, Michael!) so I’m really looking forward to it.

In other news, I’ve been playing with beads. I got some lovely teal Malaysian Jade that I made a bracelet, necklace and earrings set out of.

Bracelet, necklace and earrings jade set

Is so pretty!

And spurred on by the lovely comments, “likes” and “favourites” I got, I decided to make a bracelet and necklace set out of Opalite as well.

Bracelet and necklace opalite set

The picture doesn't do it justice.

I’ve been thinking about opening a shop on a second site, to try to gain more exposure. I’m still debating it, but leaning towards an affirmative. If I do, this opalite set will likely be the first thing I list there. But I’d need more stuff as well. Can’t have a shop with only one item after all. I’ve been busy making stuff that I figured would be for craft fairs (which I haven’t yet booked), but perhaps I’ll use some of them to get a second shop off the ground as well. Can’t hurt, right?

Some of you may have seen this on Instagram (victoriaxsol) already, but I caught the cat having buried herself under our duvet this week. It was so cute, I can’t help but post the picture again.

Cat hiding under duvet

You can't see me!

She likes “caves” and cave-like enclosures. We got her a scratching post that sits on top of a cave and in the beginning she loved it. She seemed to go off it after a while though. Perhaps I should rub some catnip on the walls and see if she starts using it again.

Now, back to my Coffee. I’m still only on my first cup!

My Workspace

(It’s still Sunday somewhere in the world!)

First things first – Happy February! And Happy Year of the Horse! I’ve always liked horses.

Now, readers of this blog and fans of my work in general may, possibly, fleetingly, have wondered where and how I work. The answer is: on my two desks, and very messily. As my mum will be the first to tell you (hi mum!), I’m not the tidiest of people. I grew out of the worst, but my craft supplies would probably have you believe otherwise.

Messy craft supplies.

See?

Messy craft supplies.

See???

As you can see, I have drawers. The problem is that my supplies have expanded out of the space I have for them. The drawer in the foreground, the one that’s not in its place, is my beads drawer. Stuffed full and still doesn’t contain them all.

My “everything else” drawer, which is the one for findings, wire, everything that’s not cord, thread, beads or finished products, is getting too heavy to carry due to all the iron jump rings I keep in there. So I keep the rings I use frequently out on the desk.

Messy craft supplies.

Easy access.

Now, my actualΒ workspace is on the other desk. A tiny space next to the laptop, where I have a cardboard receptacle for rings so they don’t get brushed onto the floor and just enough of an area to make bracelets. If I want to make anything bigger, like necklaces, I need to clear space.

My main workspace.

Where the magic happens!

My mum must be so proud!

And those unfinished bracelets you see in that last picture? Finally turned into these:

Charm bracelets.

Ta-da!

See? Look at the pretty stuff I can make when I don’t waste time on tidying!…

New website and annoying cat

First things first: I updated my website! It’s all new and shiny. Still purple, but with different/more content and looking much better than it used to. Go, have a look, I’ll wait.

http://victoriasol.destai.com

I spent entirely too long getting it together, but I think it’s done now. If you find any broken links, weird text or other bugs, do let me know though.

In other news, I finished a custom order this week. It was a small, blue dragonscale cuff, for my friend. I like doing custom orders, but I’m always slightly worried it won’t turn out the way people want it. I’ve apparently been doing well so far though. Let’s hope it continues that way.

Blue dragonscale cuff.

It's blue! Yay!

I’m currently eyeing a few sales that are going on. My favourite bead shop has a special offer on this weekend, my favourite chainmaille shop has a sale lasting until stocks are depleted and a handmade/upcycling clothing shop with the most amazing things ever has a sale that I really want to get something from.

Yes, I’m a bit of a shopaholic at times. Or retail therapy user. Yes. Retail therapy. I prefer that.

I would give you links, but I can’t risk someone snatching away what I want before my eyes. πŸ˜‰ Ask in the comments and I shall provide if anyone is interested.

This morning my cat has been completely out of control. She got it in her little head that my partner’s desk must be emptied. All things must go on the floor. And since said partner is at work, it’s up to me to stop the little beast. I don’t know how many times I’ve yelled “Kitty!” in the general direction of the desk, only for her to completely ignore me until I get up from the chair. Maybe she’s trying to give me some exercise. I’m not pleased.

Cat looking at the camera from behind a shelf.

"What? Can't you see I'm busy?"

She seems to have calmed a bit now, though. And done a disappearance act. Which means she’s either sleeping on our bed or wreaking havoc elsewhere. I’m sure I’ll hear a big crash!-bang! soon enough. In the meantime I suppose I’ll try to do something useful, like making jewellery! I need to stock up for the craft fairs I’m hoping to do, after all.