This is my first official "Getting to know you Tuesday!" where I feature one of my amazingly talented blog followers. And my first feature is on.. JewelryByTara! I happened across Tara's blog one day, and I immediately became an avid reader. Not only is her work amazing, but she's always ready with advice with a twist of brutal honesty! This is what I admire so much, because no matter how perfect you think your shop or your product or your marketing skills are, there's *always* room for improvement. And lemme tell ya, this lady has the skills!
I sent Tara a bunch of questions and she graciously answered them all! Throughout the questions you'll see pictures of her work - just click on the pics to bring you to her etsy shop to find out all the details.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a WAHM, business owner, artiste, maid, Zoo Keeper, animal rights activist, caretaker for 2 very intelligent special needs children, and a marketing extraordinaire! I live in San Diego California, and I was born and raised in New York City.
I have been offline/online selling my wares for almost 11 years now.
2. When did you start crafting? What/who inspired you to become an artist? Do you do different crafts then what you sell on etsy?
I have been crafting for an entire lifetime. I have always been so hyper that I really needed the projects to focus on. Plus, I would get bored easily and my parents would always suggest more things to do to keep me out of their hair!
My family is full of talent and I feel like their support of my creativity was my inspiration. I come from a long line of artists, my father is a folk singer and painter. My mother is also a talented musician.
There probably isn't a craft I haven't tried. I'm always looking for something new to conquer. I do sew, and I used to have a shop on etsy with my bags and other items, SewnByTara. Right now I'm obsessed with shabby chic, and stopping myself from buying any more supplies. Recently, I started making glass pendants to go along with my already popular domino pendants. I have also dabbed in cake decorating, floral arrangement, and crochet. Watch out B&B sellers, I'm itching to try soap and candle making soon!
3. What was your sole purpose of opening your shop?
I wanted to work from home and do something I love at the same time. I have 2 wonderful kids and they both have very unique issues. I was always having to cancel things, leave my part time job early, etc. So my husband suggested I sell my crafts to keep me busy and available for the kids.
Initially I had another site on the Internet for over a year that wasn't getting enough traffic. I was still doing craft shows at this time and I was getting tired of all that it entailed. I have a lot of artist friends that sold on Etsy, so I thought I'd try it. Instantly I went from 10 sales a month on my other site, to 10 sales a week on Etsy!
4. How did you decide on a shop name?
There actually is a reason I picked my name and it's not because it was my first choice! Years ago when I was trying to buy domain names for my first site, I realized all of the good ones were taken. So the only one I could get was jewelsbytara. I didn't like that because it implied I was going to use actual jewels and we all know I'm not famous for that! So I changed it to JewelryByTara and the rest is history. Now that I've had the name for so long, I've grown to live with it. I also have a shop called The Tara Collection with my higher priced jewellery.
5. What is your favourite item to create, and why?
I love creating anything with vintage materials, especially brass. The funny thing is that over the years, I've developed a horrible allergy to brass! But it doesn't seem to slow me down. I have an appraisal certificate for vintage/antique items and I love searching for the perfect components to add to my jewellery.
6. What venues do you use to promote your work? Which is your favourite to use? Which has been the most successful for you?
I could write a series of books on what I've used for promotion. I find the best promotion is to sit in front of your computer, 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and get your name added to every site, blog, directory, submission service, link exchange, forum, message board, plugboard, merchant network, top site, awards, contests, giveaways, and search engines you can find. Repeat as necessary.
I have a Handmade Top Sites List with over 500 members. I've been running it for almost 3 years now.
My blog has a lot of promotions going on, plug board, artist features, link exchange, and my new handmade blog ring. All artists are welcome to join!
On my official web site there is a plugboard, link exchange section, and a message board for other artists to advertise for free.
I have used Google Adwords, total waste of time and money. I also advertise on DailyCute because I used to sell a lot of Kawaii and who wouldn't love that site? I am currently advertising on Craftcult and I haven't really had anything come of it. I have also used Etsy showcases in the past and will not be doing so again.
I used to do MySpace, Facebook, and all those other social sites. It took a lot more time then it was worth and I'm happy to be done with it.
Right now I would definitely say I'm obsessed with blogging. I love connecting with people and sharing our lives and thoughts. Not sure if it's really the best promotional venue, but I love it!
7. What are your hopes for the future in your crafting business?
I really hope that I'm successful enough to hire an administrative assistant! I came close in the summer to that, but business has completely slowed down. I would love to see my specialty pieces in a large department store like Nordstrom. I may even open up a handmade gift shop, who knows? For now I really enjoy helping others market/promote their art and making sure my own shop is run well.
8. Is there any other information you'd like to share with us?
I will probably be having a sale in November for seasonal items. I usually do this for those great last minute shoppers! All of my current giveaways ended on October 1st, and I'm planning on doing a new one in my Etsy shop soon.
Newbie Etsians - all I can say is stay off the forums except for promotions, list as much as possible, and don't let your own or anyone else's negativity get in the way of your art. DIY should become your new catch phrase and Google your manual. Learn how to do everything from making your own flier, to coding your own website. Believe me, it helps to know a little bit about everything when you own your own business.
9. Name a few of your favourite things!
My kids, my husband, Chihuahuas, fall, Victorian houses, Kawaii, felted animals, miniature food, Buffy the vampire slayer, Hello Kitty, and chocolate!
10. If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
Do I have to choose? Because I would love to fly, although I do get sick in my husbands plane! I guess I would have to go with mind reading. I always wonder what those nail ladies are thinking of me! LOL.
I hope you all enjoyed this feature!! You should all do yourself a favour and visit Tara's etsy shop, blog, and all the other sites mentioned in this feature! Getting to know Tara was the smartest thing I did - I've learned SO MUCH from her! So thank you Tara! I hope you liked this feature as well!