How to Make a Light Box

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

A light box is a handy tool for photographing small to medium sized products. The translucent material creates a soft, flattering light & allows for more flexibility on when you can photograph your stuff, rather than waiting on just the right light for a photo shoot. Light boxes can be intimidating because they are expensive & not everyone can afford to purchase a light box, but luckily its easy to make your own & then you can be on your way to wonderful product photos in no time!
 
Get a box large enough to fit your products. Don't have a box? You can do what we did and use 5 panels to make your own box. We used corrugated plastic signs that were being discarded for our panels, but you could use cardboard, plastic board, or foam core, for example. 
 

Cut off the top of the box completely. Then cut large rectangles in 3 of the side panels of your box, 1" shy of the edges.

Now, cover these 3 windows with gift wrap tissue paper, taping it down to the edges of the box. If necessary, piece your tissue paper together with clear packing tape so it will fit the openings.

Cut a piece of poster board the width of your box, and place it in the box so that it curves inside the box. This creates the seamless effect for photos. 

Now, place your box in as much light as possible. It works in sunlight or bright indoor lights, but you may have to adjust the white balance on your camera if you photograph with indoor lights. If shooting inside, use daylight bulbs & position lamps around the sides/top of the box for even lighting. Be sure to adjust your settings so the background is white or true to color - it's easier to use the correct settings than to try to correct the color later in a photo editing program!  

Do you use a light box for photos? Will you be building one to experiment with? 

#happyhandmade week NINETY!

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! Can you believe it has been NINETY WEEKS since I first launched #happyhandmade?! So crazy! 

This collective generates over 2,500 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 


This week's Most Viewed:

Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 


What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


#happyhandmade week eighty-nine

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 


This collective generates over 2,500 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 




This week's Most Viewed: 

Rules:


Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 


  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!

  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!

What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 




What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 


Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


Cute & affordable handmade stocking stuffers!

Today's guest post is brought to you by Chelsea of Crafteroni & Cheese!

There's 44 days left until Christmas and if you're anything like me, you're no where near being ready! Luckily, there's over 50 stores to stalk until the Storenvy Cyber Monday Flash Sale on December 1st! 
 
I've compiled a few lists of awesome handmade products from the participating #StorenvyFlash30 stores that will hopefully help out your holiday shopping dilemma! Up first in this Gift Guide series is a compilation of tiny, cute, and affordable handmade products that will fit perfectly in those stockings you'll be stuffing!

 
1. Sweet Candy ReWallet via ReWallet.
How cute is this wallet? Not only is this wallet 100% one-of-a-kind, but it's also made from recycled materials! This waterproof wallet would make the perfect gift for that person in your life that loves all things cute and eco-friendly!

 
2. Amigurumi Octopus via The Wandering Deer.
This little crochet octopus is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. This octopus can be made into a charm or a keychain, so it's perfect for any Kawaii lover in your life!


3. Gadget Mon-stor via Lu & Ed.
Nowadays, everyone has some sort of gadget they lug around with them on a day to day basis. Gadget Mon-stors are not only the cutest thing since baby pandas, but they're also functional eco-friendly! These little Mon-stors are perfect for anyone with a gadget!


4. Bookworm Post Earrings via Scrawny Girl.
Aren't these earrings perfect? Surprise the book lover in your life with these adorably Kawaii earrings! They're perfect to wear while you snuggle up with a hot cup of cocoa and a good book!
 

5. Initial Necklace via Mystigail Hand-Stamped Jewelry.
Customize a necklace for that special person in your life! Whether you're getting kids' initials, parents' initials, or something else entirely, these amazingly epic hand-stamped necklaces are sure to brighten anyone's holiday! Pulling something as special as this out of your stocking is sure to be a joyful experience!


6. Dapper Stag Necklace via Evangelina's Closet.
Isn't this necklace tremendous? It's tiny and cute, humorous and perfect for anyone that can appreciate adorable, handmade geekery!


7.  Gourmet Salted Caramels via Tinker Toffee.
Yummy treats and the holidays go hand in hand! Who wouldn't love to open their stocking to find some delicious caramels? And if caramel's not your thing, there's so many other treats available! This gourmet candy is the tastiest stocking stuffer you'll give!


8. Little Elf Rosette Holiday Hair Clip via Violet's Buds.
Isn't this hair clip just adorable? Imagine stuffing in your little girls stocking so she can wear it to the holiday festivities! My daughter has some hair clips from Violet's Buds; they are super durable hair clips! They'll last for years to come and will make the perfect addition to any sweet girls holiday wardrobe!


9. Snowman Soap via Sudzy Bums.
Snowman. Soap. Have you ever heard of a better combination? I haven't and I think this little bar of snowman soap would be not only useful, but adorable! What's a better way to spread the holiday cheer than with snowman soap?


10. Christmas Town Hot Cocoa Lip Balm via Nerdtastic.
During the winter months, it's easy to get chapped lips. Make sure your loved ones' lips stay nice and soft (not to mention they'll smell like hot cocoa!) by stuffing this handmade limited edition lip balm in their stockings!
 

11. Gingerbread Man Christmas Loom Keyring via Angelcrafts.
This little gingerbread man keyring would be the cutest gift to give your friends for the holiday season! Made entirely from rubber bands, it's not only a sure way to put a smile on your face, but 50% of the profit is donated to orphans.


12. Vinyl Record Style Coasters via The Dizzy Windmill.
Perfect for the music lover in your life, these hand-knitted vinyl record style coasters would look awesome on the table under the mugs during the holiday festivities. The center colours are completely customizable and due to the felt backing, they're extra durable!


13. Team Caffeine 1.25" magnet via Little House of Crafting.
The holidays can be a hectic time and if you're anything like me, caffeine is one of the only reason I can make it through the season. Help the caffeine lover in your life express their love for caffeine with this magnet! You could even have it turned into a button!

 
14. Christmas Ball via Happy Sack.
Sometimes during the holidays, traveling is a must. When you've got little people that might get bored on the longer trips, a ball like this would be perfect for their stockings! Not only is it soft and squishy, but it's a fun and safe way to entertain your little elves!

So, there ya have it! Super cute and affordable gifts to stuff in stockings this year! There's a little bit of something for every person in your life and I hope this list makes your holiday shopping a little easier! And remember! The Storenvy Cyber Monday Flash Sale is on December 1st from 12:00am to 11:59pm and you can get 30% off everything in the participating stores for ONE DAY ONLY! 
 
Which of these handmade stocking stuffers is your favorite? 

Using the Etsy Promo Forums to Your Advantage

Hi, I'm Tessa & I make eco-conscious graphic tees at Krmbal. When I started Krmbal, I opened up on Storenvy because I work with a printer to make sure my tees are printed responsibly and the chemicals to make the screens and the ink are properly handled and disposed of (screen printing ink is actually considered hazardous waste until it's fully cured and I didn't want to be dumping any of that down a drain!). When Etsy decided to start allowing manufacturing partners and a friend sent me some free listings, I decided to try it out. The review process actually went very slowly for me, but eventually I was approved and could start selling.

I made a single sale in the first week I was on Etsy, but after that I had a long stretch of several months where I had no sales. I was really struggling to make the Etsy marketplace work for me and I thought that I might give up after my free listings were gone. I wasn't promoting Etsy on my social media because Storenvy doesn't take a percentage of my sales, so it just makes more financial sense to push all of my outside promotion to my custom Storenvy shop. I wanted to try to take advantage of the Etsy marketplace though because it is one of the really great features of Etsy.

I was averaging about 30-40 views a week on Etsy and 15-25 favorites a month. Those are pretty dismal stats. I tried changing up my search terms, even tried some outside promo just to see if boosting views would help me in the Etsy marketplace. Nothing really made a dramatic difference.

Then, my friend Danielle from Squshies mentioned that the Etsy Promo forums were open again and that she really enjoyed them last year as a way to promote and to find new things. I hadn't ever used the Etsy forums before, so I asked her a few questions and then I dove in.  You can find the Forums link at the bottom of the page from anywhere on Etsy. The Promo forums are the last topic on the page in the forums section.

Basically how it works is someone posts a thread topic like Blue Items or Halloween and in the first post may include rules to post in that topic. Sometimes the rules are that you can only post 1 item from your shop, sometimes it's to post an item and favorite a certain number of items from other people and sometimes there are games where you post something that matches a color in the last item posted or is the next letter of the alphabet. As long as you follow the rules of the post, you shouldn't have any problems.

I use HabitRPG to help me keep track of my To Do list, things I do often and daily tasks. I decided to make it a daily task to spend a short amount of time each morning posting to the Promo forums. I don't spend more than 10-15 minutes each day and my views and favorites went right up.

Then something awesome happened. I was found by an Etsy team that devotes 2 days a week to finding a group of shops with low sales and "attacking" them with favorites and/or sales. I made 1 sale that day and got over 100 favorites. The next day, I got another sale.  That boost really helped Krmbal get some traction on Etsy and I think they found my shop because I posted in the forums on a topic for shops with low sales.

The Sneak Attacks team definitely gave me a boost, but I've kept that momentum going for about a month now and I think that's all due to the Promo forums. I've more than doubled my monthly views and my favorites have gone from 15-25 a month to over 100. In fact, this week alone I had 2 days where I got as many favorites in one day as I used to get in a month. I've also been averaging a sale a week since the boost from the Sneak Attacks team. That's not amazing, but it's much better than I had been doing!

I still don't promote Etsy outside of the promo forums any more than I used to, so the increase in traffic is all from the forums and getting better reach thanks to those favorites. I think favorites are pretty key on Etsy, they seem to be what really help expand your reach. It's especially true now with the new home page featuring the recent favorites of your friends and other people you follow.

If you're struggling on Etsy, I'd give the Promo Forums a try. If you've never tried Etsy, but want to give it a shot, ask any of your Etsy seller friends to send you a link for 40 free listings (they'll get free listings too) or feel free to use mine.

Do you use the Etsy promo forums or others venues to promote your Etsy shop? What have you found to be most effective in marketing your Etsy shop? 

A New Marketplace for American Handcrafted Goods

I recently had the honor of interviewing Erica from aftcra & learning more about this marketplace for made in America handmade wares. I think this marketplace could be a great opportunity for seller's looking for a handmade, American made only marketplace. So join me in learning more about this site & the people behind it!



What is aftcra?
aftcra is a new handmade marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade goods made in America. Erica Riegelman is the President and Co-Founder of aftcra and the creator of the new handmade platform.
 
 

How did aftcra come to be?
When I was younger, my mom was an incredible artisan and would always be painting, or crafting or sculpting something fierce. She had a talent that I had wished I had. She also had something that most incredibly successful artists acquire … patience. Patience is not a strong suit of mine. Because of that, I never followed in her creative footsteps. But one characteristic I’ve always had is the mentality that I want to change the world. I’ve always wanted to make a difference; to make things a little better than they were yesterday.

The summer of 2011 I had a truly serendipitous collision of events in my life:

1. My mother was struggling to sell her wares with local boutiques wanting to take a 50% fee.
2. My corporate job (which I will still say to this day is a great place) had started to wear on me, control me and left me feeling discouraged and beat down.
3. I read an incredibly inspirational book about the importance of freedom in your life.
4. I found a minor weakness in an industry giant.

Within these completely unrelated experiences, I discovered an opportunity.

This was when I made the biggest decision in my life: do I do something to change my life or do I sit back and let others control my destiny. That serendipitous collision pushed me to create aftcra, an e-commerce marketplace just for American handmade artisans to sell their beautiful goods. We are focused on helping American artisans share their handmade products with the world. We aren’t some Silicon Valley giant. We are just us, a family in the Midwestern that loves the talent of makers and their handmade goods. And aftcra, she’s the new marketplace on the block, but she's growing. 

aftcra was finally released into beta at the end of 2012. In October of 2013 we exited beta with a more formal site. Once we exited beta we experienced a surge in artists and realized that we needed to make the site even better. Throughout the majority of 2014 we worked on developing a better site for a users. And in August of 2014 we launched the new aftcra - which has a sleeker design, better usability for shoppers and artists, and more features for all users.

Erica from aftcra
Who works at aftcra?
aftcra is a small family-owned business. We are headquartered in Milwaukee, WI with an office in Boston, MA. We have three family members that work on aftcra regularly, and a small tech team who is constantly working to improve the site. 


What does aftcra stand for?
When creating aftcra we wanted to select a name that had meaning behind it instead of something fun and completely unrelated. aftcra is an anagram for "a craft", meaning the skill it takes to create something out of nothing. We think it's a good representation of our talented artisans.

 
How many sellers currently sell with aftcra?
aftcra currently has over 800 aftcra artists and is growing quickly. We have artists in every kind of category and all different skills.
 

What is a piece of advice you'd give to someone who is considering starting a business?
Because of aftcra I feel a sense of freedom in my life. All that I can share with anyone who has ever thought about starting a company is the one line that I still say to myself when I am tired from a day’s work and dealing with the pressure of a brand new business: There are always a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something, and there is never a better time to start than right now.

Follow the aftcra movement:

#happyhandmade week eighty-eight

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,500 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


How to Make Collections on Storenvy

Storenvy Collections are similar to Etsy's Treasury feature or to creating Pinterest boards. While in the Marketplace you can hover over products and there is a "Collect" button on them.


Once you click that button a box pops up and asks you which Collection you would like to add the product to, and you have the option to add a comment.



You can see all of the collections I have made here to get an idea of how they look. They are SO fun to make, I am totally addicted!


People can view your collections via your profile page, and you can set boards so that only you can contribute, people you follow can contribute or anyone on Storenvy can contribute to them. My Monster Awesomeness board I made public and you can see here that it displays the users who have contributed to the board when it is a public board.


How do you know if you can collaborate on a board? Check out this Handmade board - in the upper right hand corner it has a collaborate button. Click that button and it is then added to your list of boards to chose from when Collecting products.


How do you change who can post? Simply go to your Collections page and click settings. You can then edit your Collection name, description, who can post and you can also delete the board from this page as well.


While this doesn't directly increase search rankings on Storenvy, it does increase visibility for sellers, meaning more eyes on everyone's products! Storenvy features 1-5 collections on the home page at all time, so that means lots of new exposure for sellers! So, get outta here and go make some collections - the better the collection, the better the odds of it being featured or going viral!

What do you think of this new feature?

Struggling to come up with great content for Instagram? Get inspiration here!

#creativedaily - the first photo challenge geared directly towards creatives & makers. The prompts force makers to think of creative ways to tell their story, share their indie biz journey as well as share their life and processes through daily photo uploads & bits of text, encouraging them to fill each and every day with a little bit of creativity, while fostering creative community & new friendships through social media. If you miss a day or few, it's not big deal - this photo challenge is just for fun! 
 
How it works:

Each day, you upload a photo to Instagram or other social media outlets that relates to the dated prompt (for example, the 1st is "but first let me.." so you would post your interpretation of that prompt on the first, like but first let me get my coffee, but first look at this cutie, or but first let me take a selfie, hehe) and share a blurb about what the photo represents. Be sure to add the #creativedaily hashtag to group to photos with the other images from this collective.




Click the #creativedaily hashtag to find out what others are posting and make new friends by liking & commenting on their photos! 

This collective is such a fun way to make new creative friends, discover new brands and share your own story. 

This image is sized for Instagram! Feel free to save it & share the prompts to spread the word & get more people involved! I can't wait to see what you post!

Which prompt do you have a great idea for already? 


#happyhandmade week eighty-seven

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,500 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy!