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story books from recycled paperIf this looks a bit familiar you are not wrong: this is a tutorial to make a story book like this one here. The workshop during the Etsy Craft Party was a success and I was simply amazed by all the little variations in outcomes and creative uses of material provided. That’s the best part of this technique: it’s simple, but very versatile.

To start you will need the following items:

DIY story book tutorial

– One big piece of paper to fold into a story book. Magazine pages work the best because they are quite thin and fold very well. Plus you are bound to find a nice colourful and interesting looking page to use. You can download a free folding guide here.

– Washi tape for decoration and seal off the edges so that they look nice and straight. I simply adore washi tape and it’s become more and more common to find in ordinary shops. There’s also a brilliant selection available on Etsy.

– For the story itself I use pages from old books that have fallen apart. You can also just skim a magazine to find the words you need. However, book pages do give a nice atmosphere to a story book. If you don’t have any ready you can order a packet of 20 pages with a variety of colour, typefaces and languages on Foregone Finds.

– Glue for sticking all the interesting bits and pieces into your book.

– Scissors or an x-acto knife for cutting all the interesting bits and pieces out.

– Optional: a pencil to press and slide over all the folding lines so that they are extra sharp and neat.

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– Also optional is a piece of sturdy paper to cut a nice envelope packaging from. You could also print out a nice image on sturdy matte photo stock to use if you can’t find anything else. I have uploaded a free template to use here. This envelope is for (gift) packaging only as it is too small according to post regulations!

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Now the most important part is picking out a nice piece of paper to fold into a booklet. Like I said, magazines are perfect for the task. Just keep in mind that you’re going to fold it into eight pages (counting both sides) and every page should have something interesting on it for your background. In the image above I’ve drawn a rough guide to keep in mind how your pages are going to look like.

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Once you’ve picked your paper it’s time to fold. Keep in mind that for step 1 and 2 the side you want to use needs to be visible from the outside when you fold.

1. First you fold it lengthwise. Use the pencil to press and slide over the fold to accentuate the fold.

2. Open your paper and now fold it crosswise.

3. Keep your paper closed and fold each end towards the centre to make a sort of a harmonica.

4. If you open up the paper again it should look like this.

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5. Cut alongside the first fold from step 1 until you reach the crosswise fold from step 3.

6. This should show how far you should cut. Now hold the paper on both ends of the cut and carefully pull it open…

7. Until it looks like this. You have now basically made your own booklet and the possibilities are endless.

8. Look through your booklet to decide what the cover should be. The orientation of your story book could be both portrait or landscape, so you can weigh that into your decision.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the edges won’t align. That’s okay! It’s pretty impossible for it to do so no matter how careful you are because paper always has a thickness. I go around this problem by taping up the edges with washi tape.

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9. You can tape up as many edges as you want. Personally I like to mainly tape up the cover and leave the inner pages be.

10. You can use the same colour tape for your project or mix it up. If you mix it up it might be fun to carefully make a cross cut with an x-acto knife where the two tapes meet so that the transition between two tapes looks more smooth.

11. And you’re done! Once you’ve taped the edges it won’t be possible to choose a new cover, so choose wisely the first time.

12. You can now trace the envelope template over the paper you want to use for packaging and cut it out. The thicker paper will be harder to fold so you might want to go over the inside of the fold very lightly with a scissor or a bit harder with a pencil. You can use glue or washi tape to close the envelope.

Now that you’re done it’s time to decorate the inside. I can’t really tell you how to do that; it’s up to you and your imagination! But if you need some help here’s an example:

DIY story book tutorial

As you can see I’ve kept the text quite minimal. I made up a short story myself and then went on to look for the words in the book pages. You will find that it is extremely hard to find the exact words, so it might be best to look for parts of words or even individual letters. If you’re consistent in the pages you use it won’t look too much like a ransom letter! For the story book above I only used two pages. It’s best to keep it short and simple or you’ll be browsing for the right word for a week!

The story is (with bookpages mentioned):

1. Op een nacht zat Rena voor het raam 2. de sterren te tellen. 3. Toen ze bij 70 was 4. viel er een ster uit de hemel. 5. Ze wenste om een vriend 6. en kreeg een schat.

Translation:

On one night Rena was sitting in front of the window counting the stars. When she reached 70 a star fell down from the heaven. She wished for a friend and received a treasure.

6And this is basically it! Above are some more examples and variations of how it can look. I like to stick a white square on the back to write the name of the recipient or add a small message. You can buy all of these booklets in a story book kit that comes with loads of recycled material to decorate them with in Foregone Finds. Each kit contains a booklet and envelope packaging, 2 book pages in English and 2 book pages in a different language, various interesting bits and pieces to decorate and a piece of matching washi tape to close the envelope. These kits are like the minimal effort for great results!

If you finish your story book I would love to see the results!

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Hey everyone! Today is my 25th birthday and all in all it is a fantastic day! To explain the title: I lost my voice last night, but it’s not stopping me from talking or singing! I even did a little serenade for all the people who have congratulated me for my birthday. Listen to my rendition of Margaret’s Thank you very much; it’s pretty bad and hilarious.

Anyway, for the occasion I wanted to bake something nice. However, at the moment I’m following a keto diet. This means I can’t have many carbs and especially no sugar. This is kind of tricky, since carbs are in so many foods I love. Luckily there are many wonderful recipes and sometimes the no-no ingredients can be substituted by something else. I still browse through normal recipes as well, to save them for later when I’m not following the diet so strictly.

So there was this very yummy looking picture that came by of raspberry lemon bars. I am a professional grade cake, pie and pastry eater. My mom is an amazing cook, but her desserts are from another planet. All my life she has served me the most delicious dishes. Even so, I have never been a fan of tangy desserts. I like, no I love them sweet, sweeter, sweetest. This recipe really shouldn’t be for me, but the pictures really won me over. I needed to try them. So I substituted the flour for almond meal and coconut meal, the sugar for artificial sweeteners and cut back a bit on the butter. I also found out that I did not have any (frozen or other) raspberries present; I must have used them all for smoothies. I did have strawberries and blueberries so I used those.

strawberry blueberry lemon bars

Look at those beautiful colours!

They taste amazing! And they look so good too… And best of all: they are super easy to make, just follow the instructions and everything should come out fine. Just do not make them in a metal pan because it reacts badly with the lemon juice. One recipe should give you 16 servings. They may seem like small servings, but they are really dense and fill you right up. And a mere 120 calories a piece too! You could even add a bit of whipped cream guilt-free.

Strawberry Blueberry Lemonade Bars

adapted from The IMPROV kitchen

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 stick (125 grams) butter
1/4 c. sweetener
1/2 c. almond meal
1/2 c. coconut flour
>1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the filling:
1 heaping cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 heaping cup frozen blueberries, thawed
2 tbsp liquid sweetener or 1/2 c. sweetener
4 lemons worth of lemon juice
2 lemons worth of lemon zest
3 medium egg whites
1 meduim egg
1 c. coconut flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C). Line a non-metal baking pan, about 20 x 20 cm or 8″ x 8″, with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they’ve cooled. 

To make the crust:
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish.

To make the filling:
Blend the berries up in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 25 – 30 minutes depending on your oven and the sized baking dish you use.

Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for a few hours (or until they’ve cooled completely).

cake2

I have never used a nutritional calculator before, so this might be a tiny bit off:

16 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 121.0
  Total Fat 10.8 g
  Saturated Fat 6.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
  Cholesterol 29.1 mg
  Sodium 23.9 mg
  Potassium 94.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 5.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
  Sugars 2.4 g
  Protein 1.9 g

Silver twig studs by afewellery | Zig zag post earrings by LAccentNou | Dung beetle & piggy by puikeprent | Ice cream earrings by PetitPlat

For this week I was inspired by UPPERCASE Magazine. Last saturday I attended Hello Etsy, which was amazing in itself. The first session was a great peek into the life of Janine Vangool, a designer, writer and publisher. She shared stories of her work and how she got where she is today. In our goodybag we all received the latest issue. This morning I flipped through it (I haven’t found the time yet to read it) and immediately felt inspired by the theme. The content was just so colourful that it immediately brightened my day.

It is also a continuation of my effort of these past few weeks to offer something different than clean treasuries with all white backgrounds. I say: Down with white! Of course it has its place and a white on white treasury can look really cool and fancy. But the expectation that only treasuries with white backgrounds should end up on the frontpage has got to go! I think it’s a bit silly that a website that brings together hundreds of thousands of creative people has such a clear unofficial mandate as to how listings should look.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to figure out what backgrounds fit with your products, not how they fit in with the rest of Etsy. Unfortunately I hear sellers who want to take exciting pictures of their listings, but the ones with white backgrounds still get chosen more often for treasuries. So at least try to mix it up a bit: some classic whites, a few with a more rustic and darker look and play around with props. It will make your shop look more interesting and will keep the buyer’s eye busy looking around.

Find more Monday Moodboards on Star of the East blog!

One of the ways you can make your shop stand out among (hundreds of) thousands of others on Etsy is by having a good banner. To me a shop banner is part of your product branding. Now first of all, don’t you worry: even as a designer myself I have never fled from a shop because of an ugly banner design. And trust me, I’ve seen some really terrible ones. However, I have stayed longer and have been tempted to explore a shop beyond the first page. By picking a banner that fits your shop and products there is no way to go but up!

In this post I want to explain what kind of banner designs I like and why. Now before you go on reading there is one thing I cannot emphasize enough: Be inspired, but never ever steal a design! Stealing a design will not benifit you in any way and will not make you stand out. If you see something you like try to make a list of the individual components of the design that you like. Then if you look at that list you can brainstorm on how these features can translate to your own products and style and make something that fits you and your brand.

The past few days I’ve been browsing through hundreds of shops to pick the designs I like for this post. Mind you, even this list is just a fraction of the beautiful banners I have seen. However, I’ve narrowed it down to designs that can be a great inspiration for people who aren’t so photoshop-savvy. You’ll probably notice that a lot of these banners look pretty simple. But, they work! Also don’t forget to visit the shops; they are truly wonderful.

Style 1 : The complete minimalist

I am going to make a distinction between handwritten text and ornamental text. What I’ve seen a lot is a “pretty” font used, but unfortunately it hardly ever works out. Text design is incredibly hard! I still struggle with choosing a fitting typeface or font even after seven years of design experience.So please keep it as simple and clean as possible. Usually plain sans serif fonts go with almost anything. Play a little to find out if thick or thin letters will go better with your shop style and that’s it. Madison Street Beauty even has used a cute reference to their product by turning the “o” into a jar with make-up.

Handwritten text on the other hand is completely awesome in my book! It adds such a great touch of personality to your design. The ulalá design is a great example how something simple can still have so much personality. It could also work great as a logo design.

Style 2 : The display of products

Another great way to avoid having to use overcomplicated photoshop skills is by simply using your products as decoration. A common mistake a lot of people make when trying to photoshop their designs into a banner is that the products either seem to awkwardly float in space or they have difficulty making good transitions into where the text should go. The result is usually clumsy and the process is unnecessarily time-consuming. Handymaiden uses the most simple and also the best way to make a good looking banner: A good composition of the products is used as a base and then the text is placed over the picture.

Using product photography for a banner lets you get away with things you usually avoid for the product listing. It can look a bit cluttered, the product doesn’t need to be displayed clearly and you can have a lot more fun with it. You can barely make out that the background of Still With You’s banner is a crystal, but it looks very stylish and colourful designed this way. Just make sure that when you put the name of your shop over a picture that the text still stands out. In this banner I’m guessing this is achieved by increacing the brightness and decreasing the contrast of the background picture.

Style 3 : The illustration

Obviously this style is very specific and will not work with every kind of product. What I think the biggest difficulty is when illustrating your banner is making sure it doesn’t become too cluttered. It also usually works best if the illustration is made specifically for a banner format since then you’ll be able to make a more balanced composition. I’ve seen sellers trying to put too many of their drawings of prints in the banner and it looks messy. Le petit elefant has a sweet and cute design without trying to put too much stuff in.

I notice the same problem with painters and photographers. They simply try to show too much of their work in their banner even though your product listings should do that work. It’s best to pick a section of one work that highlights your skills and / or style. Groundworks makes beautiful nature paintings and only has to show a small detail of trees to emphasize that.

Style 4 : The self-reference

Like I said before, a banner lets you get away with things you are not always able to do in product photography. You don’t necessarily need to use your own product in the banner. It can be a way to set the tone and the theme of what is yet to come. Urban plus Forest presents a picture of branches that is not sold as it is shown in the banner.

You could also display a tool you use to make your products as a symbol for your store. Putting an emphasis on a small detail of your work can put a bigger spotlight on the product than something that is too literal. The Knit Kid shows a very small part of their knitted products; it could be absolutely anything from the store, but also everything.

Style 5 : The organized mess

It’s probably pretty clear by now that I prefer simple and clean banners over cluttered ones. The reason for that is that it’s really hard to make a busy design balanced. A good rule of thumb is that it is okay to make super detailed banner if your product pictures are pretty clean. Otherwise, if there’s too much going on at the same time, the eye will wander not knowing where to focus. Boo and Boo Factory uses very clean white backgrounds for their incredibly colourful products. The end result is a vibrant, but well-balanced, shop.

The same goes for PPCK. If the shop wasn’t so very clean the cluttered banner would not have worked so well. It also offers a somewhat unique behind-the-curtains peek at what the shop is selling. With its “mess” it manages to approach the visitor in a very personal manner. You can almost imagine going through all those prints browsing for the perfect artwork to hang on your wall.

Honourable mentions

Unfortunately I couldn’t put every beautiful banner I found in this post. I would still really like to show three more that I couldn’t really fit in anywhere but are still very memorable.

Fabitoria has such a unique style! Not only in their product but the way they display their products really stands out to me. Their banner completely fits into their odd and quirky personality.

Three trees bindery has such a strong banner. In fact, I like this one the most of all the banners I’ve come by. I actually can’t really explain why, but it’s so very calm but has loads of personality nevertheless.

The raccoon mascot of hisss illustration is just incredibly cute! It simply makes me smile 🙂

So what now?

You have seen all my examples. Hopefully you have also read why I particularly like them. Now you need to figure out what kind of atmosphere you want your store to have. You can choose more than one theme, but make sure that you are able to combine them. If you are unsure how to best put your vision into an image, it’s best to keep it simple rather than complicated. And you can also come back tomorrow for my simple photoshop tutorial on how to make your own banner. So keep an eye out for my next post!

The third workshop focused on product photography. This was a more interactive workshop in which we were presented with lots of pictures and talked about what we saw and why we thought the pictures were good or bad. This part was a little less relevant to me since I either scan in my artwork or it’s already a digital file. Still many good points were brought up and I learned some new things. This summary will be a big mix of my own thoughts and the things we were taught in the workshop. I’ve structured it in a way that seems most cohesive and logical to me. I will illustrate with examples from Etsy shops.

Part 2 : Product photography

The workshop was lead by Liesbeth Verhart and she sells silkscreen printed designs in her Etsy shop Pinipiru. It’s filled with adorable designs printed on organic cotton, but also offers prints and notebooks. So make sure to stop by and take a look at her lovely wares. The day was filled with mottos and I managed to find one in this workshop as well.

“Tell a story”

This is pretty much what separates the good pictures from the great pictures. Potential customers should be able to come into your online store and immediately get taken away by the atmosphere. By telling a story you are persuading your visitor to stay a little longer and really take good look at what you’re selling.

WoolWench makes wool look interesting in her product pics

Suzy makes wool look interesting in her product pictures. The props tie in to the product in both colour as atmosphere.

This first example shows pictures from Suzy and her shop WoolWench. It’s one of the first shops on Etsy that really struck me with its amazing photography. So why is this so special? The reason I find her photography so great is that she’s managed to transform something you’d normally associate with old fashioned, ordinary or even boring to something completely fresh! She has other kinds of pictures in her shop, but these are her strongest in my opinion. A good picture of wool shows its colours and texture, but a great one makes you wonder what you’re going to make with it. The pink wool seems even sweeter and cuter because of the candies surrounding it. I can almost smell the oranges and summer in the second picture. The key is also to not make the picture look too crowded. The third and fourth pictures also avoid this by including objects in the same colour. The props can also function as a great inspirational starting point.

Ama uses playful composition to make her product look more fun

Ama uses playful composition to make her product look more fun and set itself apart from different shops.

I only found out about this store during the workshop, but it’s an instant favourite. The second example shows Ama de Jong’s creations from her shop MissMinoes. The reason why I immediately fell in love with these pictures is because they are very playful and the composition is just amazing! Don’t you immediately get very happy when you see great pictures like these? Don’t you just WANT to own these items? Don’t you just want to feel like a kid again? I sure do! And the playfulness just goes really well with the kind of items she’s selling, so obviously it’s not for everyone. But for her and her wares it works and it looks fantastic!

Macky's use of quirky angles makes her vintage products stand out

Macky’s use of quirky angles makes her vintage products stand out and look hip and modern while still retaining their antique feel.

Another tricky kind of products to photograph well is vintage items. You either end up with pretty decent pictures, but with a plain background, or with crowded and cramped pictures. Macky however did an amazing job in taking her product to a next level in her shop Moonstation. Pretty much all the items in her shop are pictured upside down and it makes for an interesting view! It really makes me curious and invites me to click on the pictures to find out more about the items. Just going through all her products make for a great browsing and shopping experience. Also note the first picture: Only the clear glass wine decanter is for sale, but by photographing it in a series it stands out more. This of course only works with items of the same kind and shape; otherwise the photograph might look too crowded.

FunFatale brings a bit of joy into your life

FunFatale brings a bit of joy into your life with the vibrant movement in their composition.

This last example is included simply because the whole shop makes me feel so excited. The shop’s name is FunFatale and boy it sure is FUN! Pretty much all the products are photographed in this way. I love them because there’s just so much energy and movement visible. The examples I chose from this shop are all pretty different, but the store still looks very cohesive. This is because 1) the model always wears a plain white shirt, 2) the background is the same and 3) there’s always a sense of fun and movement captured. The products aren’t always captured in the most representative way, but that doesn’t matter. That’s what pictures 2/3/4/5 are for.

So now you’ve seen these examples and read why I think they’re great, but how can you improve the photography in your shop? Well first of all there’s nothing wrong with a plain white/light background. During the Success Symposium it was said that these kinds of pictures are popular for treasuries because they make the product pop. On a site with a clean design and white background this is a pretty logical evolution. If you make a treasury you have 16 thumbnails standing quite closely to each other; if they all have different kinds of backgrounds this can make the treasury look very crowded, cramped and unattractive really. However, if you don’t want to resort to plain white and you don’t know if you can pull something experimental, like the previous examples show, off then you just have to take the motto “Tell a story” and execute it in a simple way. You can add props that make the picture self-referential. I have chosen the following examples to illustrate this idea.

Examples of ways you can make a composition with your product and props

Examples of ways you can make a composition with your product and props while not destracting the viewer and giving emphasis on a certain quality your product possesses.

1) On her shop announcement of Ylleanna the seller Anna Nuvoloni writes that she likes to combine wool and yarn with natural and rustic materials such as ceramics and wood. What we see in the picture is one of her necklaces with a wooden button. The fact that it’s draped on a branch enhances the statement she has made in her shop announcement. With a simple addition she enhanced her message.

2) Miranda van Dijk has such an amazing product in her shop PuurAnders. She makes necklaces, brooches and recently notebooks and little artworks out of old pictures. She does custom orders as well! It’s just an amazing way to preserve memories and the products look fantastic. Here she’s paired one of her necklaces with an old picture and to me it’s one of the strongest product photography in her store. Can’t you just imagine what kind of treasure you could receive if you order from her store?

3) Eva Vercauteren makes cute little purses with delicate embroidery in her shop TheBlueRabbitHouse. She uses some very simple props with her purses, but the imagery is strong. The dried flowers and plants really put an emphasis to her fine needlework. And that’s ultimately what you want, to show why your product is so special.

4) You might wonder why I think this photograph is special. Joana Pedroso uses yarn and thread for her beautiful jewellery in her shop TrincarUvas. Some of the yarn specially dyed, but she also uses regular yarn that is used for cross stitching and embroidery! And that is exactly the reason why I think it’s such a great idea to display her jewellery on an embroidery hoop. She also has the most clever business card design, but that’s for another day.

What did I learn from this workshop? Actually, some things that I haven’t yet mentioned. One of the things Liesbeth told us is that the average person won’t be able to determine the size from just a size description. Use at least one picture to give an estimate of the size of your product and props are great for this. You have 5 picture spots to fill so use them well. The first picture also doesn’t necessarily need to be the most representative. It can also be a detail shot to draw a visitor in. Also while this is not immediately relevant to me: use a live model if you can. It makes all the difference to make your shop come alive. She also showed us this neat photography cheat sheet by Miguel Yatko to help you with the manual settings on your camera.

Read Part 1 : Media and Marketing

Read Part 2 : All the legal stuff

The second workshop was focused on the law and what legal rights and obligations you have as a web shop keeper. Naturally this workshop was focused on the Dutch law. This means that this summary will be cutting out some detailed information that is only important for Dutch residents and instead keep the information that is applicable to sellers all over Europe. The information I have left out can be found on the website of the Belastingdienst and Kamer van Koophandel. The information which I have here should be useful for European based web shop keepers.

Part 2 : All the legal stuff

This workshop was given by Monique Rhuggenaath, a former lawyer and current Etsy seller. She sells bags, purses and passport covers in her main shop BagsByTravelHer. In her second shop SilksByUmf she sells beautiful Indian silks. I’ve actually bought two of her passport covers, one for me and one for as a gift for my mom, and I have to say they are stunning! Most of all I was amazed by the great quality of the product. So please check her shops out! Monique also had a motto for her workshop:

“Start at the beginning!”

She ensured us that while we don’t have to take advantage of all the possibilities available to us; we do need to have at least thought about it. So start looking at what you want to achieve and sell. What legal steps do you need to consider for this endeavour?

– Look at what legal description applies to your shop. Is it a one-person-business? Are there other people or even employees involved? What implications does this have for taxes and registration? You should also investigate if the place you have your work space is even allowed to be used as such. If you rent a home you might not be allowed to make commercial products there.

– Do you want to register your brand name? Do you want to register a domain for your brand? Maybe you don’t want to make a website for your brand right now (outside of Etsy), but you might somewhere in the future and you might want the insurance that the domain name will be available. You could start looking at places where you could register and what prices they have.

– What insurances could be relevant for you and your shop? If your home is your workplace, your products may not be covered by the regular home insurance. Also you might want to consider a liability insurance to protect yourself from getting sued by a customer. This might be expensive or not relevant for you right now, but at least give it a thought.

Victoriana mask in gold leather by TomBanwell

The maker has clear instructions in his policies that the mask may not get in touch with water as this might ruin the design, so buyers should be aware of this. Find more gorgeous masks in Tom’s shop: www.TomBanwell.etsy.com

Governmental institutions

– Check your local Chamber of Commerce at what they can offer you. Actually, the moment you open your web shop you’ve started a business. You might want to consider registering it. Registration comes with both upsides and downsides. Investigate if it’s beneficial for you. The downsides of course are the fees and guidelines and laws you need to follow. However, the upsides might include loads of interesting information for your shop, workshops, being recognised as an official store and legal support. Ask for a brochure or check out their website for more information. Also make sure when you’re registering that you don’t describe your endeavour too wide or too narrow. Both can have their own implications.

– Be mindful of the Tax Agency and find out what taxes you need to pay and what benefits or tax cuts you could gain. On this point you basically have to find all the information for yourself as what goes for one country might be completely different for another.

– There are other institutions that might help you or could demand money from you. Check your Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Jellyfish Air Plant by PetitBeast

Because the shop sells live plants Cathy has chosen not to sell outside the United States. This is the only way she can ensure her product to keep well during shipping. Find more gorgeous air plants in her shop: www.PetitBeast.etsy.com

Contact with your customers

– In the Netherlands there are a few laws you should pay attention to with your web shop. There’s the “wet verkoop op afstand” which deals with the rights customers have as pertaining to returns. Your country might also have some regulations you should be aware of.

– If you live in the EU your identity should be clear on the website of your shop. Your name, location and email address are the minimum of information that needs to be there. It should be clear to which individual the web shop is linked to.

– Make it clear if taxes are included in your prices, if there are additional costs (shipping and handling for example) and what the conditions are. As soon as a customer has bought your product (and paid for it) you are committed to a contract with this customer.

– Be absolutely clear in your description what the product is that you’re selling so the customer won’t be confronted with (unpleasant) surprises.

– Indicate your privacy policy concerning customer information. Write this down in your shop policies.

– Consider what liabilities your products might be subject to and inform your (potential) customers about them. Is there a chance that great bag you made might stain on white clothing? Be honest about it in your description. If you’re honest about it you have an insurance if a client comes back to complain about your product.

Cherry Blossom Eye Shadow by MadisonStreetBeauty

In the description of the make up from the shop www.MadisonStreetBeauty.etsy.com the buyer can find thorough information on the ingredients and even offers testimonials of previous customers.

What did I learn from this? A lot to be honest! And there is still so much to learn. To start I’m going to order some brochures and some books about subject. I am going to get myself informed. And more importantly: I’m going to inform my customers. I also learned that in a conflict the laws of the country where the customer lives are the ones that are valid. So firstly it really pays off to be absolutely clear in your item descriptions and shop policies. Secondly you might want to consider offering more customer service than you would ever demand yourself. Gaining a satisfied customer can have a lot more implications than winning a dispute.

Read Part 1 : Media and Marketing

Read Part 3 : Product Photography

A while ago, I went to the starter day offered by Etsy NL for starting web shop owners on Etsy. It was a day filled with workshops in a shared space with the Echt Waar Bazaar Etsy edition in the In De Ruimte in Utrecht. I went in expecting learn a few things, but mainly meet new people. However, I was completely amazed by the amount of information I gained. Some other things I knew already, but maybe didn’t yet give it the attention it deserved. I want to give a summary of the workshops not just for myself, but others out there to share information and thoughts and ideas.

The day was divided into 4 parts, however I will only give a summary of the first three. The last part was about bookkeeping and I simply do not feel confident enough to make any claims about it. Furthermore, every country will have it’s own rules and regulations on the matter so get yourself informed on what is necessary. As a start you should definitely have a folder of some kind in which you can collect receipts of the materials and supplies you’ve bought and order receipts you’ve printed out. You can keep track of your income and spending in a simple Excel file.

Part 1 : Media and Marketing

This workshop was lead by two members of MamaMarketing, Diana van Ewijk and Laura van den Brink. It’s a Dutch marketing agency that mainly focuses on mothers with a web shop. Their main motto was:

“Start fishing in a small pond”

This motto has several implications.

First, choose your niche. Make sure that the thing you sell is unique in some way or another and make sure you know who your target audience is. Try to imagine the kind of person that would buy what you’re selling and focus your marketing on people just like that. You have to realise you can never compete with big brands and companies on prices alone. It’s just near impossible and you would only sell yourself and your product short. One way to compete is by offering a personal experience to your customers. The other is to make something recognisable, which takes us to the next point.

A unique and recognizable product

An example of something unique and recognizable. By using cross stitch on a different medium creates a special and original product. Find more treasures like this in Elena’s shop: www.stedi.etsy.com

Second, make yourself visible. Make a recognisable brand product and house style that reflects you and your product. Next, get that product out there! Start blogging, messaging and see what social medium fits you best. If Twitter isn’t for you, don’t fret! There are many other ways to express you. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger/Wordpress, your own website with regular updates, a YouTube channel and whatever medium that could become a hype in the future.

Third, form your own community. Find your own voice and write blog posts, twitter messages, Facebook status updates etc. in a way that suits you. If you feel uncomfortable with writing formal, then don’t! When you’ve done all this, start contacting other blogs or magazines with your product and explain why they should like and feature your product. This is all free publicity. Once you’ve gotten yourself out there and gotten a group of followers it’s important to stay in touch. Keep it personal and respond to messages on your blog or retweets. Keep in contact so you’re always somewhere in the back of their minds.

A fun recognizable product that ties in with the shop name.

A fun recognizable product that ties in with the shop name. Everything clicks together in a quirky fashion. Look up more of Sally’s illustrated goodies on www.fromMyBearHands.etsy.com

Fourth, get busy! Make a strategy: What fits your product and what you’re doing? Make a content calendar and write down what you want to write about and when. Do this at fixed time. (For example at the beginning of a quartile) It’s very important that you do this well in advance. You might find yourself in a busy period. It’s even more important to keep writing blog posts at that time and if you already have a subject half the work is already done. Also you might find yourself browsing Etsy or Pinterest or sites like those and come across something that fits one of the subjects you’ve already planned. You can save the link right away and then when you’re finally writing you don’t have to do a search anymore. Another important point to remember is that if you want to contact the press you have to do so at least 3-4 months in advance! So if you have an amazing Christmas product your deadline is August to send those press releases out. And it might be a bit of a transition to think about this when it’s still summer. They also gave a great Twitter guideline. Every day try to make 3 mentions, 2 retweets and 1 commercial message of your own product. Of course you can deviate from this, but it’s a good guideline.

What did I learn from this? Well I did know that social media was an important factor of getting your store out there. What I maybe didn’t realise so much is how much work you should put in marketing. You have your product, your web shop and you’ve made clear that this is something you want to do and want to focus on. So don’t just write a cute blog piece now and again, but really put some work into it. I was also reminded of my own A-grade procrastination and I hope that this is the push I needed to get organised. I had the plans to start blogging, but know I realise I can’t just jump in half-heartedly and hope for the best. I need to make a good planning and a clear structure of what I want to achieve and how I want to achieve it.

Read Part 2 : All the legal stuff

Read Part 3 : Product Photography