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.