Monday, June 27, 2011

Blackberry Winter

If you live in the south you know that blackberry winter is when you get cool weather or a“cold snap” in the spring after the blackberries have already started blooming. Sometimes this can be very worrisome because if it gets too cold it will damage the blackberry blossoms. Which will lead to little or no wild blackberries to pick along the road sides and ditches for blackberry cobbler and jam! So Sad:(

This year we had quite the cold winter and it really didn’t seem to want to let go. Sure enough after the blackberries started blooming here the chill came again. Fortunately we had no frost and the blackberries are coming in as good as ever!

On my latest walk I discovered the first dark purple orb hanging among-st all its tight red neighbors. I had to grab it even though I knew it probably wasn't quite ripe. Mmmm despite the bitterness the taste brings back floods of memories from childhood. The bush where I picked the berry has been there for as long as I can remember. I can picture filling tea jugs and bowls with black berries with the help of my dad when I was little. Actually being little can be to your advantage when picking blackberries. You can reach all the ones dangling from the bottoms of the bushes. We would eat tons of them straight off the bush and bring back what wouldn't fit in our tummies to mom to make cobbler.

Even when I was older and could go out berry picking by myself it was still an event I much enjoyed. Finding the perfect berries is hard sometimes though. It seems they are always in the tippy top or buried in a gnarl of thorns and spider webs.

I remember once I was balanced in the center of one of these bushes trying my darndest to reach the “best” one at the very top. You have to imagine this is a bush growing on the side of a VERY steep hill that drops down to our drive way. I think I actually ended up grabbing the berry and probably popped it in my mouth but on my way down I fell clear off the side of this incline and hit hard on the packed clay drive. Gave myself one of the numerous scars I have on my knees:)

Today now married and living just up the drive and across the street I still feel giddy at seeing the bushes lush with

fruit. Now they are really starting to become ripe and just this night I filled my whole water bottle up with blackberries. They will probably last a few days of fresh eating. If the weather cooperates and gives us some rain the rest of the red berries will ripen into dark juicy orbs and we will have enough for a cobbler and maybe even some jam!

So you can see that in the south when blackberry winter arrives we hold our breaths and cross our fingers for it not to get too cold so that come summer we will enjoy the treat of picking blackberries!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Feature Article by FreeHippie

I was hanging out in my Etsy Georgia Team forums and came across this great post by FreeHippie. Her work is pictured at the right.

The post that follows was written by her but I really wanted to share it with you all! I hope you like it and find something in here that will work for you!

""This isn't my first shop, though, it's my third. The second is totally targeted at one writer's fan base and doesn't count. But with my first shop I made every mistake, lol. I want to share what I've done with this shop for anyone this might help:

1. I decided on a niche (hippie) with low cost supplies (hemp, beads, etc) and products that I am fairly quick at making. Anything past your basic hemp items (like my hand stamped stuff) was me branching out, trying new things with the profits from my sold items.

2. Researched my competitors for all SORTS of things!

...A. to make sure my items were unique not just to me but different from them. If you had been watching my shop from the beginning you'd be amazed at the difference.
...B. To see what their price ranges were. Remember to check to see if they're selling anything or not.
...C. TAGS. I wanted to know how they tagged their most popular items. NOT to copy but to get ideas for my items. For example, I noticed many tagged not only their target markets but tried a few slightly outside their target.

3. I set a firm MINIMUM renew budget. I try renew everyday and more than once. My minimum was at LEAST three renewals a day on a day with no sales. This only totals to $18.00 for my main source of advertising. That is for a slow month. I have never paid this little. I tend to pay more around $30 a month (in renewal fees only) and that's $1.00 a day. People REALLY underestimate the power of renewing. Some people put their items up on their pages and don't renew until it's about to expire - or only renew once a week. Get your stuff OUT THERE!

4. Never renew all your items at once! Spread it out! For my minimum, I would renew in the morning, mid day and right before bed (sometimes midnight).

5. Don't just renew, branch out. Try different items, look at what is hot not just in Etsy but in fashion magazines and figure out a way that you could make your own version - with your own personal flair - in your store.

6. If something sells, try it again. If it sells again try it again AND try one more in another color. You may have a great repeat seller!

7. I Tweet (though I rarely advertise there anymore, it's more just a place to BE) have a blog, a Flickr account and Facebook page. I use all but I don't badger people with products, products, sales, "buy my stuff". I try to put content first, product second. SHOW YOU! Help your customer's see the "behind the scenes." I have sold things thanks to all of these and it's because I am ME, I am honest, I make my products interesting and my customers relate to me.

8. I've done Giveaways on my sites and with others. My tips here are:
...A. Make sure the blog is related to what you're selling.
...B. Make sure the blogger updates a LOT - at least 2 times a week.
...C Make sure they have a LARGE following and will do at least half of the promo work for the Giveaway.
...D. Make sure you can afford the Giveaway in the first place. I just wanted to let everyone see some of the "bigger", more helpful things that I have been doing. Thanks to Etsy I have been able to pay most of our bills, keep food on the table and survive during the unemployment of both myself and my husband! YAY!""

Thanks to FreeHippie for letting me share this info. Be sure and click on her shop name above to find out more about her.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Using Intuits GoPayment at Craft Shows

Final Chapter in my Saga to accept credit cards at craft shows.

Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 here.

This blog is about my real world experience using Intuits GoPayment to accept credit cards at craft shows.

We were really excited to get our first credit card sale. The lady was also excited that she could use her card at a vendor even though there was an ATM on site. She was curious about my credit card contraption but overall she was impressed. However, I should have tested it once I hooked the card reader in. I didn't realize you couldn't just hook it up and then take the reader off and put it back on again. It needs to stay on.

So for the first CC I accepted I had to manually enter in all the info. Still not bad! I emailed the lady a receipt and immediately also received an email confirming the charge. You can also go to your “Past Charges” and it will show you if the transaction cleared. After that, it was pretty much clear sailing. We had several sales that day. A few cards were stubborn and needed to be swiped more than once, but that’s usual for any type of swiper. Even though some people were curious about it no one seemed put off or nervous to use it, and some didn’t even ask for a receipt. Most people have heard of Intuit and recognize the name, so that really helped with the trust factor. The swiper has an Intuit lanyard on it and people really identified with that! You hear QuickBooks, Turbo Tax and Mint mentioned a lot. I even met a guy who works for Intuit, so that was cool! After the craft show, I went straight into my intuit account and it showed all the charges. Then, after a couple of days, the money was transferred to my bank account with no problems. You can also go onto your intuit account and see what the fees were in your statement section.


Be sure to go to your Intuit settings to make sure your swiper is connected and activated, especially if you remove and then replace the swiper at anytime. Also be sure that your volume is turned all the way up. If it is going to be a while between swipes, log out of your phone app after each transaction. My last show was slow and it would let me go through the whole process until I clicked charge, then it would make me log back in and go through the whole process again! That made me worry about double charges. But, thankfully, that didn't happen. It's simple to make sure that it doesn't charge twice, just check your Past Charges before you retry the transaction.

PLEASE check the customers drivers license and make sure it matches with the CC info. If you want to be extra cautious, write out a paper receipt and record their drivers license number and address and get them to sign it. That way, if the charge is ever disputed, you can prove that you had every reason to believe the person was legit.

I have an Android Phone, so some of these tips may not apply if you have an iPhone.

Check out YouTube for videos on the GoPayment App for even more tips.

I hope these blog post have been informative for you. Please feel free to ask any questions you may still have.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Ongoing Giveaways

Right now I have two Giveaways going and the deadlines are yet to be determined as I am waiting to get more entries.

Giveaway # 1:

Win a hammered cuff (pictured above) in your choice of wire colors, by signing up for my new email newsletter! This newsletter will keep you up to date with what's going on in my shop and with my jewelry line. It will include my new items, coupons, giveaway info, and craft shows I will be attending, maybe near you! I am also going to do an Artist Spotlight with each newsletter showcasing some of my favorite artists! To enter, send an email to with the words "Email Newsletter Giveaway" in the subject line. The entries will be numbered in the order they are received and will be drawn using when I reach 40 entries.

Giveaway # 2:

This Giveaway is open to ALL my previous customers; Anyone who has purchased, traded or won anything from me, up until I draw a winner, can enter. You can win a $50.00 gift certificate to my Etsy store to use on anything you wish! Including custom orders and sterling silver!

To enter, send me a picture of you wearing each piece you have and a short review on what it is you like about each piece. You will get one entry for each picture and one entry for each review. So if you have three pieces, you can get up to six entries. Fill free to send several pics of each piece so I can have a few to choose from. I am building a blog post to include as many of my customers as possible to help encourage those who have never heard of or aware of what crochet jewelry is like and may be hesitant to buy.

So send your pics to or Tag me in your photos on Facebook. If there is a caption for the picture that describes what you think about the piece it can count as your review. Once I get enough to post in my blog, I will number all the entries in the order they were received and then draw a number using

Thanks a lot and good luck to all who enter!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Setting Up My GoPayment

If you haven't read how I chose Intuits’ GoPayment for my credit card reader and payment service, it can be found here:

Now, After receiving the reader and activating my new phone I clicked this link that I was sent earlier and went through the application process for the Intuit Payments service. I am actually not very good with all this technical stuff so I had a few questions. I emailed the person back who sent me the link and who was so helpful with the card reader. Within no time she replied back with an answer and was very nice! We actually ended up talking back and forth for quite sometime through e-mail as she walked me through! It was so nice to have someone who seemed to care and didn’t seem bothered by my questions one bit!

**Just a quick note: Intuits GoPayment is the service you use to swipe the credit cards on your phone. Intuit Payments is your account that handles your transactions, statements and transfers the money to your checking account, and where you will go to accept credit cards or access your account on your computer. As of right now, you cannot link your Intuit account with your PayPal account. Hoping that will change soon!**

Once I finished the application process I was approved very quickly. Then I went to the Market on my smartphone and searched for GoPayment. It came right up and I downloaded it to my phone. She then told me to go into my Intuit Payments account and set up another user. This user is actually for my phone. To do this, log into your Intuit Payments account, go to “manage payments” and then “add new user." Choose a short user name and password that will be easy to type in on your smart phone.

Now you are all set up and ready to go! If you are anything like me, you are going to want to test it out first to make sure it works! So first things first: Attach your intuit card reader to the speaker jack in your smartphone/device. Then go to your GoPayment app and type in your user name and password/pin. Now, before you go to “charge” you need to go to “settings” then “enable swiper.” It may ask you to choose a swiper. You are looking for the “audio swiper.” Choose and enable your swiper. You need to go in and do this every time you take the swiper off and put it back on, just to make sure! Now go back to the first screen, then go to charge. Now type in the amount you want to charge - I chose $1.00 - then it will ask you to swipe the card (unable to talk one of my neighbors into coming over and buying some jewelry, I swiped my own card! lol). Once you swipe the card all the information will auto fill. Then click the “charge” button at the bottom. Once the charge goes through it will ask you if you want to send an email receipt to the credit card holder. Most buyers ask that you do, so just enter their email address and viola! - it sends the receipt to buyer. You will also receive a confirmation on the payment. Yay!! You have made your first credit card charge! Now you can log into your Intuit Payments account and void the charge. That way it doesn’t bill your credit card for the $1.00.

Just a little note: Be sure and have your volume turned up all the way as this will ensure a good signal for the card reader. Also, while the reader is plugged in, you will not be able to hear anything out of your speaker. So you won’t know if someone calls/texts and you won’t be able to make calls.

If you have not received your reader by your first show, don’t fret. You can enter the credit card info manually. Log into your GoPayment account with your phone or your Intuit Payments account with your laptop. Go to charge or process credit card. Enter in the amount, the credit card info and then click charge. Intuit charges a slightly higher fee for this method.

Another perk of Intuit is you can enter credit card numbers online. So if you have someone who wants to give you their info over the phone or by email you can do it that way.

Now for some technical info:

Fees: GoPayment is totally free to use including the reader. All you pay is 2.7% on each swiper transaction and 3.7% on each manual transaction.

Devices: GoPayment is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry phones. To see if your phone is compatible go here. Scroll down to “compatible devices” and click “see all devices.”

Credit Cards: You will be able to accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and with an extra application process, American Express.

More Questions: Check out the FAQ section for even more info!

Intuits Payments: When you want to access your payment info on your laptop or computer go here. Go up to “login” in the upper right hand corner. Select “Other Services” and then select “Payment Solutions”. Then type in your main login(which should be your email address) and your password.

I hope that this information has been helpful! Feel free to ask any questions that I may not have covered! My next post will describe my first craft show experience with my GoPayment, including shoppers reactions and ease of use! Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SquareUp or Intuit GoPayment

My first show of the season was also my first juried art show. It was a HUGE success! Although, I know I could've had at least 4 more sales had I been able to accept credit cards. So I went home and seriously looked into getting a credit card reader and a new phone to use the reader. Having heard the names Square and GoPayment passed around the Etsy forums, I started doing my research.

Before I go much further, I think it is important to state that I went into this leaning towards the Square. It is more popular in the forums and I've even watched TV commercials for it. And it made sense to me that customers would be more comfortable handing over their credit card if I were using something they recognized from TV.

So to start my journey, first I had to find a phone that would be compatible with both credit card reader apps. (You can find more information on their websites about compatible phones.) I ended up going with a certified pre-owned smart phone from my provider so I wouldn't have to invest too much to get started. Once I ordered the phone I started browsing social media to see what real people were saying about both Square and GoPayment.

I first searched their Facebook pages.

Square on Facebook: The first thing I noticed about Square is that you couldn't post to their wall, although, they did allow anyone to open a discussion. However, all of the discussions seemed to be people trying to find answers, and from what I could tell, no one was answering the questions.

I also noticed that when Square would post something, if anyone commented on that post with a question, the questions went unanswered. I also left a question to see if I would hear anything back - never did. Well, I figured, hey, this is a huge company, surely they can’t answer all of their fans questions? So then I go to their website to see if they have a customer service number you can call just in case any of the issues were being brought forward - no number…what? No customer service number?!? So then I hit Twitter.

Square on Twitter: Twitter seems to be where it’s at with Square! They have lots going on over there and they even have a separate Twitter account just for Support. So if you need answers that’s the best place to go! I tweeted “Can you guys expedite me a Square Reader?” And, within no time, I got a reply telling me I may be able to buy one from a local Apple store (I could not, but if you can, you will get a credit for the purchase price, I was told). Or, you could find an inner Square member to get one from. The only way you can find one is to search Twitter for the term “inner square” in relation to your area. I was out of luck with that as well.

I was using “Expedite a Reader” question as my test question to see how their customer service worked. I wasn’t actually expecting to get one overnighted to me. This was on a Thursday and my next show was that Saturday. You can use the credit card service without the credit card reader. You just type in the credit card numbers manually and run them that way. Then start swiping once you receive the reader (there is a difference in fees).

Okay, at the same time I am doing all this on Squares Facebook and Twitter , I am doing the same thing on GoPayments Facebook and Twitter.

GoPayment on Facebook: WOW… they actually let you post on their wall! Cool! So I read a lot of posts - look at that! Someone is actually replying to the post! Wonderful! So I leave my question, and low and behold, I get a reply pretty quick! They tell me they are going to look into the matter and get back to me….hmmm. So I go to their website - Oh look! A number to call! So I call the number. Apparently, because of higher than normal call volume, I get a guy who obviously is not used to working with Gopayment. He takes my number and a message about expediting the reader and says someone will call me back….hmm. But after asking other Gopayment users, this was actually highly unusual. They all got in touch with Intuit GoPayment easily using the phone number. After further explorations into their site, I realized that these are the same people who bring us QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint. I love Mint! So I think…maybe people WILL recognize the Intuit name!

So, I then popped over to their Twitter. I tweeted my question about expediting a reader. Within no time, someone direct messaged me on Twitter from Intuit. They tell me if I can send them my address they will have it the credit card reader out to me as soon as humanly possible….hmmm. So I send my address and within minutes someone e-mails me from Intuit. They want to confirm my address and they send me the link to get pre approved for the service. So I confirm my e-mail and save the link for later. But I still haven't made up my mind yet. I don’t make my mind up until the next morning.

Who did I choose?

I went with Intuits GoPayment. Why? Because, even though I ordered my cell phone (overnighted) several hours before the Intuit Card reader. The card reader made it here (GA) FROM CALIFORNIA early Friday morning. And if you remember, I did all this searching and contacting on Thursday evening. So I have to say, I was impressed with their customer service. Having done the same thing with SquareUp that got me no reader, with Intuit, it got one overnighted to my door step! So Intuit GoPayment won me over!

Keep in mind this is just MY experience. I was rushed and this was all the info I could dig up in a short amount of time. Someone who has more time to devote may come up with more information. But, for me, as a very small business owner with a part time job and working on my product almost 24-7 I needed someone who could be RIGHT there to help me at any time. I feel I made the right decision for me. I suggest that everyone do the research and find out which works best for them!

If you have any question please feel free to ask!

Be sure and read my next blog post on how it went downloading the app attaching the credit card reader and actually getting my first credit card sales!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Craft Shows.... From a Buyers Point of View

As a jewelry artist I have only participated in small festivals and church events. Lately I have become curious about juried shows particularly the LARGE indoor weekend long shows.

Recently, I headed several hours south to a HUGE annual spring arts and crafts show to do some recon!! I wanted to learn from the professionals how to be successful if I were to be excepted to a show of this caliber. I also wanted to see what the organizers of such a show are looking for and to see the show from a buyers point of view.

Here is what I learned:


I saw three levels of booths. 1: A few tables and regular table cloths 2: Professional show goers with nice setups 3: Booths that look like a brick and mortar store set up in a postage stamp sized booth.

I have to say that buyers seemed to steer clear of the "3rd" booths; the ones with all the lighting and glass cabinets. I think they were very intimidating for people that couldn't spend a lot of money. Even though they had comparable prices to others you would have thought they were 10 times more expensive.

The girl I saw doing the best had all of her jewelry pinned to the walls!!

Lesson: You want to look professional but you don't want to look more expensive than you are.

Booth Setup:

There was one woman who had beautiful painted glass windows. In order to get into her booth you had to walk through a tiny opening that she had created between the wall displays of her work. Once inside the "cave" the table where she sat was facing you so you felt watched (even though she wasn't watching) the whole time you shopped. BAD IDEA!! She hadn't sold a thing! Even though I saw a lot of people stop and browse the paintings on the outside they didn't want to go into the cave.

Booths that had tables set up around the perimeter did really well because people could browse as they walked by. Also, shops that you had to walk into but had a very open feel to them did well.

Lesson: You don't want to trap your customers.... you need to lure them in and make them feel at home and not pressured to buy anything.



Some people you could tell were not enjoying themselves! Either they were tired from all the setup or disappointed in sales. Either way it was a real turn off!

People who I saw actually working on their crafts seemed to draw more onlookers. Also those who greeted passerby's and explained their craft seemed to draw a crowd as people got caught up in the process.

Lesson: If you're not happy potential customers will avoid you no matter how great your product!


Please don't dress as shabby as you probably feel from all the work and preparation you have put into your show! I also like to see people wearing clothes that match the feel of their product. Ex: Beach Garden Signs = Beachy looking outfit. Also if it is possible to wear your own designs BY ALL MEANS DO!! If I'm considering buying a piece of your jewelry and even you don't wear it! Thats a turn off!

Lesson: As gorgeous as your product is people still look at you as well!;)


Some sellers who payed hundreds for their booths had no business cards.... what!?!

Please invest in business cards if you are going to invest in shows. This is a really great way of getting future sells! Support a local artist and buy handmade/designed cards. This is my favorite designer.

Another thing: If you have a really unique craft say so in your banner or sign. Most people have no idea about the craft beyond what they see. Have a picture of you working on something and explain what makes your product special. I think this is really important! When I walk up to your booth of pottery I wanna know what makes yours better than all the other pottery booths and why I should spend my money with you instead of others? This is especially important for those that make jewelry since there are so many!

Lesson: People can't buy from you in the future if they don't know how to find you! And people might not buy from you at all if they don't know how special your craft is!


Please clearly display that you take credit cards and what cards you take and if there is a minimum purchase. This is VERY important. Not all buyers are outspoken and will ask questions! Don't except credit cards? Check out these two websites for info on accepting them with your smartphone! Square and Go.

Lesson: Credit cards = impulse buys!!


Once you have spent money as a customer it is thrilling to get a nicely packaged item! It doesn't have to be expensive just make it nice. And for larger items something with handles is great!! I like kraft recycled bags!

Stick a little advertising on the bag as well and snag more potential customers from the crowd when they see people walking around with your bags!

Also, if you can include a small freebie, nothing is more exciting than discovering a free gift!

Lesson: Make your sale seem special to the buyer and you will stick out in their mind for future purchases!

Insuring a repeat customer:

Put a coupon and your business card in the bag. Everyone loves a coupon and they are more likely to go visit your online store if you have one. Even if they don't use it at first they will bookmark you for future reference because they have a coupon. Make that coupon/business card a refrigerator magnet and you ensure they constant reminder of your shop in their home!! Great for when they need gifts! Order magnet sheets for an inexpensive way you can do this.

Lesson: You have only a few seconds to put a lasting impression on your buyer. Do everything you can to ensure they will remember you!

I hope that this post has been helpful. Again this is the standpoint of me as a customer. But, as a seller, I have been guilty of many of these things myself! Being a shopper really opened my eyes. I suggest we all go to a show as a shopper and really get a feel of what is going on around us. You will be amazed what you learn!!

Happy Craft Shows!!