Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How far I've come

This picture is horrible. Why is it horrible? Because for years, I scanned my jewelry to list it on my website. That hideous greyish background is the white lining of the scanner lid. Yuck. Back then I had to choose my focals based not on how much I liked them, but whether they were flat enough to be scanned!

Last night, I was lying awake, thinking about my business, and my thoughts drifted back to my beginnings. More than 12 years ago, I started out stringing cheap jewelry and listing it on eBay. And I mean cheap. I used cheap beads, cheap plated findings, and I strung everything on fishing line. We actually had a digital camera for a short time. I don't have any photos of my jewelry from that far back, as I was 16, living at home, using my parents' computer, and that was back in the days before thumb drives and home wireless networks made it quick and easy to transfer your files from one computer to the next.

Anyway. I was thinking how I used to make my cheap jewelry, get Chris to take a photo of it, put it on eBay, and then... it sold! Just like that! There was no blogging, no mentioning it on Facebook, no Project Wonderful ads, no worrying about SEO. Back in those wonderful days, before everyone realized that you could make money on eBay, you could actually... make money on eBay. Without even really trying. A 16-year-old girl could make cheap beaded jewelry and sell it for enough money to buy more cheap beads and holiday presents for her entire family.

Now I use nice materials. I still bargain hunt, but I look for good deals on good beads. I use sterling silver clasps. I string my necklaces on SoftFlex. I do a lot of beadweaving. I stress about photos, I advertise everything on my blog and Facebook... and it doesn't sell. The internet has moved on, and it's no longer a simple matter of listing it and knowing buyers will find it. You have to actively promote, and try to be heard amongst a sea of other people actively promoting their work.

I don't want the good old days back. I don't miss my flatbed scanner and my dial-up internet and my cheap beads. Nostalgia hasn't yet made me forget all of those annoyances. But I can't help but wish that I didn't have to spend so much time promoting and more time creating.

Oh yeah, speaking of promoting, visit my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs, or at least tolerate the fact that I have to link it every day.


  1. Wow, you have been doing this a long time, then! I have to agree- it would be nice to not have to worry about the networking side and just be able to create.

  2. I was right there with ya! Scanned everything, had some pretty decorative papers to lay on top of the jewelry for backgrounds and even developed a process for doing more dimensional jewelery in the scanner. And yeah, my jewelry sold better back then, too.

    I think the same thing has happened with Etsy - it was great in the beginning, but now it's so crowded that it's hard for anyone to find a particular shop!

  3. Tee hee, I still scan my bookmarks and pinback buttons. I should probably experiment with taking more artistic product shots. 0.o

  4. I do beadwork with fishing line! But I may try some of those Japanese lines soon.

  5. LOL! I used to use a flat bed scanner, too. And I always did hate that yucky gray background.

    *sigh* I miss the days when E-Bay was like a huge garage sale or flea market. So many lovely treasures to be found.

  6. you're doing a lot of great work getting current and giving your shop a makeover. bet you can't *wait* to make a new banner that reflects your new photo quality. (yup, you love me for saying that, dontcha?!)

  7. I love how many people responded to this one! Looks like it struck a chord :)

    Meri, I started my business because I couldn't get a real job when I was 16 :) I had no idea that I'd keep doing it for so long!

    Silver, Etsy is definitely flooded with a lot of people who think they will magically make a ton of money on the internet. And we're starting to get resellers sneaking in, which peeves me off!

    Aquariann, items like that are good for scanning!

    Marilee, I'm talking about the cheapest of the cheap clear fishing line... knotted directly around clasps! Oh, the shame!

    SaraBeth, those old days were GREAT! You could find neat stuff without even really looking.

    Julie, you are evil! I'll worry about my banner after I finish new photographs and SEO. I'll probably have to hire someone else... my current banner shows the upper limits of my skill at graphic design.

  8. What are resellers?

    E-Bay should rename themselves E-Mall.

  9. Resellers are the people who buy stuff that is already made and sell it on Etsy. Sometimes they make no effort to hide it, othertimes they try to convince us that they're making it all themselves.

    Regretsy calls a lot of them out... be warned, plenty of NSFW language on this site: