Though I’ve been writing elsewhere, I have not blogged lately. However, with my entry into the selling of handmade goods, I’ve decided it’s time to dust off the proverbial keyboard, and start posting. A sign in my hairdresser’s shop reminds me, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, that “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” As with anything, in other words, output equals input.

When I recently joined Etsy, a community of shops that produces handmade goods, I promised myself to take Shaw’s advice to heart. For years I have been creating handmade gifts, telling my husband that my dream was to eventually sell the same items. John encouraged me to turn “eventually” into now. So, after reading about Etsy in an online issue of Entrepreneur magazine, I decided that an online shop might be the way for me to go.

The learning curve is steep, but the rewards along the way make the journey worth the effort. Etsy consists of 100,000 (and growing) independent online shops, each of which features handmade goods that have been crafted by the shopowner. Shopowners are encouraged, through a series of online discussion forums, to network with each other so that they can learn how to successfully market their wares. The byproduct is an atmosphere that is friendly, lively and supportive.

I opened my shop, JN Originals, in early December. At the present time, I feature several textile accessory collections including felted (fulled) wool coasters and napkin rings, felted (fulled) purses, and multi-yarn crocheted scarves. Like most new Etsy shopowners, I am learning how to take photos, price appropriately, package and ship, and how to self-promote. New to me are the Etsy discussion forums, photosharing sites like Flickr, blogging about my work instead of just my opinions, and participating in what Etsy calls a “street team,” a collection of like-minded shopowners who share marketing tips and encouragement with each other.

I joined a street team called Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team (BBEST), and am “meeting” some very nice people in the process. There’s Zuda Gay, who crafts absolutely beautiful pendants and brooches out of polymer clay, Jean Levert Hood, who features oil and watercolor paintings of the Texas Hill Country, Scottish textile artist Marion Barnett of Artmixter who started a blog ring for “Boomer” members, Patti of Pattiwhacks, who wrote about me in her blog as “This Week’s Featured Artist” . . . plus many more artists. In the future, I hope to introduce you to some of these talented folks.

For right now, I hope you’ll wish me well as I learn all I can about selling handmade goods.

© 2008 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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