Maybe someone from California can answer me here, but is the whole state a terrifying white knuckle experience to drive?!
So we had heard that you can stay in casino parking lots in Laughlin NV for free, we were looking for somewhere to get jobs easily and this was about 150 miles from where we were. Sounds okay right? I'm not a gambler but you'd think casino should have some cheesy jobs a monkey could do right? Well we get there and our aircard doesn't work. Cute huh? Without that I can't run our business, not okay. We did however go in the casino to blow off some steam upon arrival, played $5 won $60, left immediately. So we started researching places with free camping, good reception and a decent size town where there might be work. We decided Needles, CA wasn't far and had all these things. Let me put it this way, free camping is so far out of town that it would be just a waste of all the money you made to drive to it and this "camping" was a desert road it may ot may not have been illegal to be on.
What now?! Well we can either go north to Vegas, No. We can go West to LA, No. We can go south to the salton sea, which does have the appeal of being a "fringe" town and good reception but there's no way we'll find a job. Or very north, the closest decent size town being Lone Pine, CA. Well after much debate, angst, and worry we decided we'd take our chances with Lone Pine. It's a tourist town right at the base of Mt Whitney, both beautiful and with tourist season coming up potential jobs.
So we set out. The stretch of I-40, 58, and 395 we terrifying! When you are in a large box-ey RV and there are hurricane force winds whipping across desert, salt flats, and hills hitting you directly in the side and you are slamming on the wheel just to stay slightly in the road, it is nerve racking! Of course every time someone passes you or someone comes at you from the other direction the wind comes through an it's nearly impossible not to veer straight through their windshield. Also Barstow, CA sucks, the end. We arrived, intact and frazzled 6 hours later. I'll tell you what though, this is a beautiful town and a gorgeous campground sitting at the base of an amazing set of mountains. As long as one of us can find a little part time job we will definitley be here for awhile. This is awesome! Also, I added a whole bunch new stuff while we were driving. Check it out!
Heck, you're no mega-corporation. You don't have a marketing team and a fleet of graphic designers. How on Earth is one little crafter who is trying floating in the sea that is the internet supposed to do that?
Well, let's talk about one facet that is pretty simple but very overlooked. This is one I think we do a good job with, so I feel comfortable talking about it. Part of branding is creating personality that is unique to you and your product. It distinguishes you from the masses and makes you memorable.
1) Don't be so uptight!
Obviously, if you're a jerk: don't do that. What I'm trying to say though is: if you're a sarcastic, happy, goofy person... use it to your advantage. Don't be afraid to write your policies and announcement with silly little remarks. It gives your shop life, if done right. Read ours, it is professional yet amusing. It tells you who we are and why without being annoying. Don't be so stoic: people want to know that there is a real person behind your business.
That's what sets Etsy apart from other online buying venues. It's handmade, so give everything the life of something made by a real person. When you send people e-mails, don't pretend your customer service rep for Comcast. We deal with enough of those all ready, and VERY few people like dealing with those. If your "business persona" isn't your real persona, it'll be exhausting to keep up.
2) Create an awesome name.
What sticks out to you more: "Stone Beads LLC" Or "Two Industrious Ferrets Supply Co"? I don't know about you, but I'm personally more intrigued by the thought of adorable little ferrets than "Hey, we got beads." That's just me, though. Obviously, you want said name to correlate to what you do. It needs to make sense. I had to add the Supply Co to the end because, frankly, two industrious ferrets could be a number of things. In context of Supply Co., it makes sense. Ferrets are notorious for gathering shiny things, beads are shiny... you see where this is going?
Green Giraffe Candles has nothing to do with anything, unless you're using giraffe milk as the base of your candles, and something tells me that's rather illegal. I know the name of your two sons has sentiment to you, but it doesn't for the rest of the world. Nor does "Makeup Designer". Okay, well; what kind of makeup do you design, whats it feels, what colors do you provide, what age range is it geared at, what do you care about?
3) Now take your name and make a fantastic graphic!
I made one myself at first, it was cute but nothing spectacular (if your still small and/or have no ambitions of being anything more then a hobby, go with this. No pint is wasting money right?). I decided when we arrived at 500 sales, I quit my job, and started doing this Etsy thing full time that if I was going to be serious I needed a serious graphic. If you suck at computers/design then do yourself a favor and just pay someone (if your going for the humorous cartoon look this guy is fantastic: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Coconauta). Now here's where you need to start pondering how YOUR personality fits in with your shop, becuase it needs to be translated into your graphic. Your graphic is basically your face on the internet, you have an opportunity to show who you are and be memorable. Take it. If your a sweet, graceful, well spoken woman don't pretend to be loud and bright becuase you think that is what will sell your stuff, pick a soft, elegant, wispy graphic. If your loud, forward, sarcastic pick a bright, bold, goofy graphic (can you guess which I am?). It needs to reflect you, and fit in with this whole "being you" thing I keep talking about. And, don't forget make sure it is something eye catching, beige damask is NOT eye catching. Something that will translate into a memorable image, whatever that may be.
4) Now brand EVERYTHING
Use the SAME image for your avatar, banner, facebook profile picture, blog header, your twitter avatar, etc... EVERYTHING! They say it takes someone about 7x of going through a shop, hearing something, reading something before it sinks in or it correlates into a purchase (I have no idea if this is accurate, but it sounds pretty good doesn't it?). If your constantly changing your avatar from your cat to your daughter, to a penguin eating sushi how will say someone in the forums remember you?
Pick something you love and stick with it, it will build your brand through that image, people will start seeing your penguin eating sushi all the time and be like "oh there is that sushi eating penguin again, that is hilarious!" I'm known for my purple shade wearing ferret as my avatar in the forums, why? I picked something amusing and I stuck with it! Heck I even get emails just to tell me that me avatar/name makes them smile everytime they see it, you just can't put a price on that!
*Throughout are graphics of shops that I think CONSISTENTLY brand themselves and use their personality to their advantage. I encourage you to check them out and study their design and lingo throughout their entire shop and all over the rest of the internet.
I really love how you can bend over backwards and more for some people, and then at the drop of the hat; they can throw all of that out the window, betray their own religious beliefs, and become a raging asshole towards you over literally nothing.
This person doesn't even have a computer, so it's not calling out. It's just... dammit.
Except, they took major offense to the fact we ARE full time Etsians. Apparently, selling beads for a living makes me a dumbass and a bad Christian who's throwing our lives down the toilet.
It's not like we never paid you our rent perfectly on time. It's not like I never helped you do things every day you were physically incapable of doing. It's not like we didn't run plenty of errands. It's not like we didn't provide you plenty of company. HELL, it's not like I didn't help you cover your ass when the city was on you.
And for doing all of this, you harass me and my wife. You insult our life. You were literal jerk to my wife. You tell me not to respect her opinion. You might has well have told me to beat her ass for even daring to think something other than what I feel.
Now that I'm done whining publicly, I'd just like to say...
It's still never going to keep me from being nice and helping people.
I still think that being a bead peddling nomad is more joyous than the lives we left behind.
Also, avoid that RV park like the plague. If only for the fact it's on a Superfund site. Wish I would have known THAT sooner.
I blathered a little about this yesterday elsewhere. So, I'll elaborate just a tad. Feel free to Inquisitionize me if you wish.
The reseller frenzy on Etsy is peaking with a fever pitch. If you were to go off the Site Help section of the forums, reselling on Etsy might be a greater threat than climate change/global warming/global cooling/global whatever and that there terrorisms. Resellers will eat your children, set your house on fire, and replace the contents of your bank account with fake Gucci bags.
Before you consider me being a pro-reseller, I'm just going to tell you we two lovely ferrets do not support reselling. We don't condone the pushing of knock off junk on Etsy either. It's not good for anyone on Etsy.
With that pesky factoid out of the way, I'd also like to say we really don't give a flying squirrel about hunting them all down and bring them to e-justice either. Maybe we have better things to do. Maybe they haven't come to our door and forced us to buy knock offs yet. Maybe they haven't stole our hard earned money. Maybe I can spot a knock off merchant from 1000 yards away. Maybe we're just jaded. It's not that these people shouldn't be reported. Go ahead and report Hello Kitty factory junk straight off the boat from China. Go ahead and report people selling Glade candles as handmade. That's the right thing to do.
However, my biggest problem is the people who spend most of their day bitching and whining about resellers in the forum. It's like they're just itching for some sort of crusade. You come into the forums, post page after page of how resellers hurt your business, and spend all day hunting them. It's not hard to see that it might not be the resellers hurting your business there, bucko. It's the fact that instead of working hard at your shop, you're off hunting straw men. You complain it's ruining Etsy's reputation. Maybe so. Frankly, I spend most of the day on my side and resold items barely register on my radar. You have to be looking pretty darn hard to find them. Etsy is NOT eBay yet, nor will it probably ever be. Stop thinking that a tiny handful of bad apples are singly going to ruin everything and leave us bankrupt. That's reactionary junk at it's finest.
So, now the completely competent at everything Etsy administration is asking for our help in fighting the reseller problem. How could that ever go wrong? It's not like history is not filled with activities like that which went horribly and fatally astray. Before I get reamed for comparing Etsy fighting resellers with the Holocaust and the US Communism episode, they're not completely comparable. There are small parallels, though.
Mark my words: This won't end where people want it to. As an amateur history buff, stuff like this always goes badly. Always. It won't be long before good, honest shops end up labeled as resellers. It won't be long before good vintage folk come under the long hard gaze of suspicion. It won't be long after that when all supply shops start receiving nasty glares.
The resellers need to be stopped, but having Etsy react the way they did is going to be a serious issue. If you see an resold item, report it. Report it twice. Whatever. That's noble and great. Seriously.
Just don't join the hysteria. Or do go ahead and join the hysteria. I can't force you to choose. Whatever you choose, when things go badly, remember that this little ferret tried to say something. And if I'm totally wrong, and this whole war against resellers succeeds, we all win.
So, to close all of this long winded junk up: Choose what you do wisely. Don't let the battle keep you from tending to your shop. Make sure not to hurt any innocent people. And, this is important, do not try and sell your baby on Etsy. That's the kind of stuff that brings bad attention. And a whole trainload of cheesy jokes.
Every other day, I buy a Full Throttle energy drink and a single Chocodile. They make those mornings absolutely wonderful. I always feel guilty buying them, but it's the last link I have to a life I once lived.
I'm not going to bore anyone with details here. This isn't going to turn into a crazy manifesto about how capitalism needs to burn in the fires of hell. This is just the thoughts of one guy who felt his life being annihilated by the system in which we lived.
I had a job. I sat at a desk all day. I was getting fat. My hours sucked. I never slept. I was puking blood. I hardly ever got to see my wife. The pay was crap. The commute was even more crap. We had a cute house. We paid too much to rent it. The neighbors all sucked. Whine, whine, whine.
This is said to provide context for the rest of the story. We tried to live by society's standards and practices. We tried our damnedest. It wasn't working. The harder I tried, the more I kept dreaming of what else was out there. Scaling the highest mountains, driving a muscle car through the desert at sunset, laying on a beach in Mexico. These never happened. Instead, it was just the same routine for almost all days. A soul crushing routine. My life was just a tool to make other people rich and powerful, and I knew it. There's nothing you can do about that.
Well, there was something that could be done about it. And, it happened. I, for one, thank God for making it all work. I can only chalk it up to God. Sometimes, things happen too perfectly. He didn't make it easy, but it worked. That's all I can say about that.
With all this, most of the staples of modern existence are missing from our lives.
We don't have any TV. If we did, it sure wouldn't be a 52" inch HDTV. What the hell is the point? Life isn't lived through a giant rectangle. With the money you spent on that piece of crap, you could have actually done something interesting. Oh well, your loss.
I haven't seen a shopping center in weeks. We went into a Walmart almost 2 months ago, and even after being away from civilization for 2 weeks, it was too much to grasp. I don't know if I could handle going to one now. There's just too much.
I don't know what movies are new and hip. I don't want to know. They're all crap.
What's more important are the things I've gained.
Plain tortilla chips have become exciting. I've seen my first jackrabbit, roadrunner, and quail. The sunsets are even more beautiful than I've ever known. I don't even know what an alarm clock is good for. All of my newest friends are over 65 years old. Vanilla ice cream finally became delicious. Branson seems like someplace I'd actually WANT to visit. I've known what not having a neighbor within a mile is like. I've learned to sleep on my back. I can identify rocks. I don't give a damn about Tiger Woods. And, etc. The list is huge, and no one cares. I'm happy with no one caring.
Simplicity is wonderful. I can finally pay attention to life.
I don't know if the rest of the world felt the way I did. I'm most likely insane as hell. I do know, however, that I get this feeling most of us are unhappy. I sense this feeling in people like we're all cows led to the slaughterhouse.
All I can say to that is: free your yoke, leave it all behind, and there's a slight chance you might find what you were missing. Because, let's be honest, what's missing in life isn't the following: Olive Garden, sports games, overcomplicated cell phones, nightlife, BMW, $400,000 houses, a career for a company who really doesn't care about you, and a well manicured kentucky bluegrass yard.
And if that is what's missing from your life...
Sucks to be you. I'm sure you'll make a tasty hamburger.
We two ferrets are itching to leave the desert and to do so, we'd like a little more money in our kitty. At 8mpg, driving a large RV at any distance is a slightly pricey endeavour. Chevy 454 V8 engines are not widely known for their fuel efficiency. They are known, however, for being one damned beastly powerhouse.
That's besides the point. So, in order to leave, some of our beads need to go out the door. And to encourage you to buy these wonderful beads and supplies, we're gonna throw some of them on sale. Wait, scratch that. ALL of them on sale.
And we're gonna put everything, including shipping, at 20% off. Some might call us crazy for doing this, and they'd be right. The sale shall be ending on March 9th. So, if you have a hankering for wonderful vintage, re-purposed, and shiny new jewelry supplies on the cheap, now's the time to do it. You'll also be helping the ferrets migrate to a new dot on the map. We're not 100% sure where this dot on the map will be, but we'll find it.
All you have to do is: go to Two Industrious Ferrets, find your sparkly objects, and in the message to seller box, type "It's too hot for ferrets in the desert". Or "desert". Or "Give me my 20% off, dummies."
You'll have wonderful new sparklies, and we'll be out of here before the sun fries us to a crisp.
Hi, you don't need to know my name. My job around here is doing stuff that's really uninteresting and tedious, like cleaning cat litter. I also mail packages, provide live entertainment, and scream at piles of beads. I guess I also do slightly more productive things, but it really doesn't matter. Point is, one of the stupid cats knocked my lamp over this morning, and now my foot is bleeding from broken light bulb shards.
Why am I writing on this?
I've been told people are interested in the things I have to say. I question the meal state of these people. I also question why people think I'm surly or cranky. It's not my fault this world is a ball of suck covered in crap, with a nice tidy bow of moronic tied across. I'm just the messenger, hombre. Don't shoot me.
Seriously, I guess I'm here to provide humorous levity and helpful tips. Since everyone on Etsy is in competition with us, I can guarantee that all of my helpful tips will be assured to make your shop fail in a glorious ball of fire.
My wife says that blogs need pictures. I assume this is because the average American is really an emotionally stunted 6 year old. I'll agree with her on this point. The last time I read a book with lots of pictures was probably 6 months ago. So, let me add some nice pictures to this blog.
Look at this damn thing. I mean, look at it. I bet the driver of this Amtrak had a few too many cocktails, don'tcha think?
See, when I was a child, I lived next to the train tracks. And while all of the other conductors were more than happy to let us in the cab to see everything, the Amtrak conductors were all assholes who wouldn't let us see jack. What harm is a 10 year old going to do to the thing? Probably a whole lot, but that's not the point. The most damage we could have done is run a train into a cow. That's all there were out there. Cows.
This is your average cow. Amtrak workers are afraid that your average ten year old will drive a train straight into these. Also, according to Amtrak, Antarctica isn't a continent. I don't know why the FBI isn't taking this seriously. I mean, ten year olds using trains to destroy the world is just as valid of a threat as any terror threat on the newsbox these days.
Look, the point is this: mass transit is a plague affecting everyone. I urge everyone to stop riding trains in order to preserve our cattle population. By doing this, we can all sleep easy knowing that our supply of delicious Filet Mignon will be safe from the hands of terrorists. And by terrorists, I mean inquisitive children.