Thursday, November 29, 2007

WRITING FOR AN ONLINE AUDIENCE

by Deanna Roux, published in The Storque, Etsy.com

My last job was for a corporate communications department - in employee communications. I was assistant editor for an employee magazine and online publisher for an employee intranet. I have some good info to share that I think you can use for writing up shop listings and blogs.

Let me begin by saying this – I’m not done learning. Times change, technology changes, and peoples’ needs change. Things are always evolving and you have to keep up if you want to stand out.

With that said, here’s where we were last I checked.

What’s In It For me?

People have little time and even less patience. Readers want to know “what’s in it for me?” in the first few seconds, otherwise they‘ll move on. Potential customers are consumers of your writing. Wow them with your art, but grab them with your voice first. And don’t wait until the end of your blog post to present a call to action (e.g. sign up, join, visit me, etc.).

Write As If Your Audience Doesn’t Know Anything

You are the expert of what you create. You know the size, length, and dimensions. You know the materials and components. Your words should tell the story your photos can’t. Don’t make them search. A shopper wants to know if it’s sterling silver or plated; cotton or rayon; and porcelain or ceramic.

KISS – Keep It Simple And Short

Yes, you need details, but don’t overwhelm the reader right to the nearest exit. Reserve space for sharing your personal views, techniques and inspirations. Go back and read what you wrote. Remove big words used only to impress and information that is redundant. Don’t drown your clever cut of meat with too much gravy.




Trick: Don't know all the ins and outs of Photoshp? Create a simple box with text and clipart in Word or PowerPoint - then paste it into a new Photoshop doc. Now just "save as" a .jpg.


Speed Bumps

It’s your job to slow the online eye. Give your reader something to stumble upon. Instead of using a large block of text, break it up. Use bullets to make a list easier to read. Use caps and/or boldface to make subtitles in your post pop. The use of whitespace will give the eye a break and it’ll make your blurb easier to read.


So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge? The challenge is not “writing.” The challenge is “taming the writer within.” So here’s your whip and here’s your chair. Now go tame.

Catch Up With Me This Weekend At Eastworks

When I was in high school, I was allowed to leave early and go to work from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. I worked in a factory right next door to the beautifully repurposed factory building, Eastworks. Well now I'm back and what a wonderfully different atmosphere there is to enjoy!

Located on Pleasant Street in Easthampton, this amazing old building has an open floor plan and is home to artisan studios, retailers and residents. The first floor (street level) is where you'll find cute little shops and boutiques and where resident artisans show their wares.

Don't miss me at the Winter Festival this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - where Eastworks artisans and other invited artists (like myself) will be open for business right on the main wood-planked hallway. Hours are 10am - 5pm the first two days and 12pm - 4pm on Sunday. Come shop, have lunch and shop some more!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gifts That Give Twice Are Twice As Nice

My fellow Etsian, Phyllis Mufson, and I have quite a few things in common.

First, she is super busy being crafty, like many of us indie artisans. But she kicks it up a notch with TWO Etsy shops! One (Personal Treasures) with very high-end, gorgeous jewelry featuring quality gemstones in silver and gold. And another (Mufi Jewels) featuring equally stunning pieces with a more casual appeal.

Phyllis also blogs, like ma-self. Her blog is dedicatd to creative people and the creative process. On her blog, she features other artists and is currently showcasing a group of crafters who create for the good of others.

Check out her blog to see the many Etsians (like Phyllis and me) who are creating Gifts That Give Twice. Shop these artists this holiday season and your purchase will benefit all kinds of global groups including those who support children, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, leukemia, animals and eating disorders.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Harmony Outreach Bracelet Project

This gorgeous bracelet has a very special meaning. It’s a symbol for anyone who is lucky enough and blessed enough to have built their family by adopting a child – more specifically, a child from China.

This bracelet is custom made to fit a specific wrist – either adult or child. When you purchase the bracelet, I will contact you for measurements.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of these bracelets will go to Harmony Outreach, a 501(c) (3), non-profit organization.

Harmony Outreach helps to save abandoned babies and children in China by ensuring they receive the medical treatment, therapy or schooling they need while they complete their journey from abandonment and hopelessness to redemption and love.

They do this through Harmony's “Three Steps to Hope” program:

  • Step one is foster care – the child is cared for in a loving home setting at Harmony Family House.
  • Step two is surgery – the child’s special needs conditions are corrected.
  • Step three is adoption – the child graduates from the program and is adopted into a loving family!

The significance of each element of the bracelet is explained below:

  • GENUINE GARNET BEADS – The Chinese believe that an invisible red thread connects a child to loved ones throughout their life. The color red has become a symbol of Chinese adoption and safe travel.
  • STERLING SILVER CHINESE FAMILY SYMBOL BEAD – The Chinese symbol for Family is the focal bead in this bracelet and the focal desire for so many who come to adopt a child.
  • STERLING SILVER LADYBUG – The ladybug has been a symbol for good luck and Chinese adoptions for the past several years. Among the adoption community, a sighting of a ladybug means your child was born or perhaps the referral stork is in his flight.
  • STERLING SILVER HEART CLASP – The heart represents the love you will or currently do share with your special adopted child and your family.
  • STERLING SILVER HOPE CHARM – This charm symbolizes the hope you have in your heart that you will find a child and your child will find you. It also stands for the hope that we share for all children who need a family to love them. Additionally, the hope charm represents Harmony Outreach's Three Steps to Hope.

I was approached -- via my Etsy shop, by a potential mom, Rachel Meyers, of a potentially adopted child from China -- to help Harmony Outreach … please read my original post to learn more.

LUCKY BUG

The ladybug is a symbol of good luck in most countries. As a child who grew up in the US, I was taught if a ladybug lands on you, make a wish and blow her away saying “fly away home.” And, among the adoption community, a sighting of a ladybug means your child was born or perhaps the referral stork is in his flight. Either way, a sighting of that spotted beetle is lucky.

LADYBUG LORE

In the Middle Ages, in Europe, insects were destroying the crops. The Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Asian beetle came and ate the aphids. The farmers began calling the insect ‘Beetles of Our Lady’ - eventually known as ‘Lady Beetles’- then ‘Lady Bugs.’ It is recorded that the red wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows.

It was a much later invasion that forever connected the ladybug to the Chinese adoption community. In 1998, there was a delay in referrals. That was the summer that much of the US had an invasion of ladybugs. Immediately after, referrals poured in with larger numbers than ever. So, there is a solid foundation for the lore.

WHY CHINA?

Chinese adoptions are becoming increasingly popular in the US; American families choose to adopt from China more often than from any other country. In fact, since 1992, more than 50,000 Chinese orphans have been placed with American families.

Adoptive parents consistently cite the same reasons for choosing to adopt from China.

  • Chinese children are generally very healthy and well cared for.
  • Both girls and boys available.
  • There are many waiting children with special needs available.After 3 months, all parental rights of birth parents are severed, and all rights revert to adoptive parents.
  • Adoptive Parents need only make one trip to China.
  • Adoption can be finalized while in China if both parents are present.
  • Chinese adoptions are very affordable compared with other international adoptions.
  • Travel conditions in China are extremely safe.

WANT MORE?

Harmony Outreach:
http://www.harmonyoutreach.org/index.cfm

Adoption process:
http://www.harmonyoutreach.org/index.cfm?pg=doc&id=188

Adoption info and resources:
http://www.harmonyoutreach.org/index.cfm?pg=doc&id=153

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Featured Etsy Shop - Coconut Palm Designs

Coconut Palm Designs offers art with a tropical flair. Joanne, owner of this spicy Etsy shop, is a Canadian living in Belize, Central America. She’s an artist working in a variety of mediums, a graphic designer and now a woodworker.

Designing signs is her newest crafting passion but art has been in her blood since birth. The colors and designs of many of her pieces are rich and vibrant in color and point of view.


I’ve chosen to showcase Joanne’s amazing ACEO art. But first, let’s have a little lesson on ACEO art.

I didn’t fully understand this particular craze among artists until I went on a little online hunt. Here’s what I found out:

  • ACEO stands for “art card, editions and originals.”
  • They started out as ATCs or “artist trading cards” and were traded among artists.
  • Artists realized this was an opportunity for the public to share in the fun, thus ACEOs were created.
  • They’re individual art miniatures which pass hand to hand.
  • The only standard requirement is that it measures 2.5" x 3.5”.
  • It’s basically a way for the average person to own some art, at the same time offering exposure for the artist.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, here’re the goods:

This ACEO (above) is an original pencil crayon illustration of a red eye tree frog (Agalichnis callindyas). These frogs breed in isolated ponds in lowland forest habitats. It is drawn on watercolor paper and is signed and dated on the back.

This ACEO (above) is an original drawing of a wildflower that grows in Belize. It is drawn on watercolor paper and colored with pencil crayons. It is signed and dated on the back.

This ACEO (above) is an original acrylic abstract painting done in primary colors and edged with black marker. It is done on watercolor paper and signed and dated on the back.

Want more?

  • Visit her blog.
  • Visit her Etsy Shop.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Featured Etsy Shop - Mommy and Me Boutique

    Many have featured the gorgeous items in The Mommy and Me Boutique. The shop boasts a variety of high end aprons and skirts for mom and daughter, plus some adorable baby bibs and burp clothes.

    As I visited this sweet little Etsy shop I was transported straight into a chic fashion show. The photos are as classy as the items themselves.

    I’ve chosen to highlight these three aprons for the domestic fashionista.

    “Welcome to my kitchen. Can I whip you up a five-layer butter cream cake?” That’s what you will feel like in this rich looking color block apron with its heavy grosgrain ribbon sash.

    This apron screams “I can bring home the bacon AND wrap it around some scallops AND pour you some pinot before you can say FLIR-tee.” Everyone will love love love this.

    Put this one on and you’re going to feel like baking up a batch of biscotti. “Anyone up for some cappuccino and some chatty catch-up?”

    No matter which one you may choose, these aprons will make you feel like a W-O-M-A-N. Very feminine and very capable.

    Want more?

  • Visit her Etsy shop.
  • Visit her blog.
  • Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Featured Etsy Shop - Kreative Mindz

    Kreative Mindz is comprised of three individuals. Aly and Beau are a husband and wife team, supporting each other through love, laughter and creativity. An-G is one of Aly's best friends, who is a wonderful seamstress and enjoys sewing in her free time, when she isn't being a vet.

    Together, the three of them make funky clothing, kicked up accessories, rockin’ hair wraps, soothing hot packs, bags, purses, wallets, and just about any other thing their creativity and sewing machine will allow.



    In addition, Beau is a skilled craftsman and carpenter, so they’ve got some awesome wooden boxes and other wood features in their shop.

    I chose to highlight these two beautiful artful pieces. They remind me of Kreative Mindz’s shop, work and the general feeling they exude – organic and natural.

    The first one above, titled The Autumn Harvest, uses different fabrics consisting of organic cottons, batik cottons, hand dyed canvas and a piece of vintage upholstery fabric for the moon. It was appliqu├ęd together with different colors of embroidery thread.

    This gorgeous piece (left) is an Elemental Cloth, representing the water element, which can be used as a meditation wall hanging or altar cloth. It’s made with hand-dyed cotton muslin and a printed cotton blend fabric. It’s embellished with beads, stones and an abalone shell and has a pocket for intentions (or anything else you would like to use it for).

    Aly and company have more of these fantastic elemental clothes in their shop – each representing respectively earth, mineral, nature and fire. These particular elements are derived from the African culture. Here’s how you determine which element you are. It goes by the last digit in your birth year ... Earth : 0 or 5, Water : 1 or 6, Fire : 2 or 7, Nature : 3 or 8 and Mineral : 4 or 9.

    Want more?

    Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Reach Out With Harmony Outreach

    Harmony Outreach is an organization that helps to save abandoned babies and children in China by ensuring they receive the medical treatment, therapy or schooling they need while they complete their journey from abandonment and hopelessness to redemption and love ... learn more.


    Harmony Outreach is run by a husband and wife team, Lisa and John Bentley ... learn more.


    They need help raising money to pay for Harmony House, where the children are cared for by a local Chinese family who act as their house parents until they're adopted ... learn more.

    You can help by sponsoring a child ... learn more.

    Friday, November 2, 2007

    Featured Etsy Shop - Indigo Luna

    Rachel Kitterman of Indigo Luna is a self-described art addict. Her primary passion is fabric and she’s been making art quilts and dolls for over a decade now.

    Other mediums she enjoys are paper, altered art, mixed-media, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, artist books and photography. She says, “Pretty much, if it will hold still, I'll make art out of it!”

    Rachel also loves to write and she does a great job at it too! So, below you’ll learn more about Rachel, in her own words (from her Etsy Profile).
















    What if?

    “I have always been an artist. I have always drawn, cut, pasted, painted, collected, sewn, written and dreamed. I have been driven by the question, ‘What if?’ (and fighting against its archenemy, ‘That won’t work!’)”

    I like a good hat

    "Among other things, I am a sign language interpreter, an energy worker, a minister, a blogger, a wife to a wonderful and creative man, and a mother to two wild and amazing little girls. All of these roles shape and change and inform my art.”

    Inspiration abounds

    “I am a 5th generation Oregonian. This lush and verdant environment is in my blood. I grew up in a valley surrounded by tree-covered hills. I memorized the names of flowers as a child. I picked baskets full of mushrooms in the damp woods and studied moss and built forts inside of blackberry thickets.”

    Art-complished

    Rachel’s work has appeared on the cover of the 2005 Quilting Arts Calender, in Artella Magazine, Art/Quilt Magazine, Fiberarts Design Book 6.

    Rachel is also member of Etsy’s EarthPath Artisans Street Team (E.A.S.T.).

    Want more?

    Visit Rachel’s Etsy shop, Indigo Luna.
    Check out Rachel’s blog.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    A time of need - A time to help

    It seems so many are in a special time of need. I look at it two ways - either our world is in a state of turmoil or the media has been working double time to show us all the pain our fellow human beings endure on a daily basis. Maybe we've always had this amount of trouble but it wasn't always exposed. Or maybe in my ignorant youth, I chose not to see or understand the magnitude of things.

    I don't need to go into all the details of war, abuse and destruction for you to know what I'm talking about. We all live the lives of others through the eyes of news reporters.


    SHARE YOUR GIFTS AND TALENTS

    So now that I'm in a heightened state of awareness, as you may be too, how do I decide what to do about it? Well, it’s hard. Not everyone can get on a plane and fly to the places where they can help or reach in their pocket and give to those in need.

    What seems to work for me is something I read in a request to help with my church’s religious education program. It simply suggested to “share your gifts and talents.” That really makes it simple. Realize you have something to offer: baking, event planning, computer work, sewing, etc. and then put it to use.


    BRACELET PROJECT

    Recently, I was asked to donate a piece of my jewelry to an auction. The auction is being run by a person who wants to raise money for an organization that provides foster care, surgeries and adoptions for special needs orphans in China. The organization is called Harmony Outreach.

    It sounded like a great opportunity to help. But what I’d like to do is take it a step further. I’ve asked a couple of my vendors to donate supplies so I can create a bracelet with a cause. So far, I haven’t heard back from them, which can be discouraging, but I’m not giving up that easily.

    Once these vendors come through (I have faith in them!), a sweet bracelet will be created and sold on my Etsy shop, at the shows I attend and hopefully at the gallery venues that currently represent my work. 100 percent of the sales of these bracelets will go directly to Harmony Outreach. Look for future articles on the progress of this work.


    DONATE TO THE AUCTION

    To donate an article to the auction, please contact Rachel Meyers. She is from Columbus, Ohio and is currently in the process of adopting one the fortunate children in the Harmony Outreach program.


    HARMONY OUTREACH

    Harmony Outreach is the ministry of John and Lisa Bentley and provides foster care, surgery and adoption for special needs orphans who would otherwise be cast aside and unwanted. The ministry is also creating partnerships with other orphanages, many of which need the wisdom and guidance that John and Lisa are able to provide.


    To learn more about Harmony Outreach and all the wonderful work they’re doing, please visit their web site.

    Here's another great place on the web that features stories and photos of a group who visited China to work with 3 orphanages and more than 100 children.

    So yes, our help is needed in so many places. I hope you find a way to use your gifts and talents to make a difference in our world.