Leaf id Pet Bandanas

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I just love these new leaf id pet bandanas.  They come in green leaf and pink leaf.  You can see the listing on my websiste here!

Crafts and Fairs

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Well, the recent Austin Pet Expo I attended is over.  I have been reluctant to attend a big event like this, and I think I now remember why – they are a lot, and I mean a lot, of work!  It was a fun event and I handed out dozens of business cards and met lots of pets and their owners.  I think the best thing about any in-person event is getting to meet folks directly and talk about your products/business.  And you get really great feedback.  People tell you what they do – and don’t – like, and why.  I consider all input good and informative, letting it serve as a basis for possible product refinement and new creations.  One thing I saw at the event was people carrying their small breed dogs in slings, so when I find time that may very well be my next new design!  My best seller at the expo was my new pet idBandanas, which I will be writing more about soon.

One really neat thing I finally was able to use at the pet expo was my Shopify card reader.  I used it on my iPad (after first testing it at home), and it worked beautifully.  Honestly it worked so well that I think I could just sell things from anywhere, just like you see in the commercials.  Perhaps I should carry it, along with my new pet bandanas, in my purse.  Hmmm…

I also know that I don’t want to do a really large event like this again.  I think something much smaller, and even closer to home, would work much better for me.  I would be interested in attending a fair that only requires a 6′ folding table and a couple of chairs, along with a limited number of my smaller products  like bandanas, toys, blankets, and crate mats.  I don’t want to think that all my preparation work and extra things I had to purchase or create for this event will be wasted by not having another event, I just want to keep it smaller and more manageable.  I am certain that there will be at least one local fall craft fair that will suit me perfectly!

That being said, my other decision since the Expo ended is to put my crafts back on Etsy. Etsy admittedly has the greatest global marketplace, and has been the best overall venue for me.  It worked for me prior to blogging, social media, and attending any craft events, and that’s really saying something.  I do still hope that in time my new shop website will replace my Etsy shop, but for now products will be listed in both locations.  I will be spending time the next couple of weeks getting everything re-listed on Etsy, with product descriptions that match those on my new site.  Fall has always been an especially busy time for me as a crafter, and I know that September is sneaking up quickly.

The best comment I received at the Austin Pet Expo-

Your creations take pet products to a whole ‘nother level!

Glad you think so!

 

Solid Color Pet Beds

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I have just recently added solid color pet beds to my Shopify store.  I love these!  As with all my pet beds these are custom, and allow you to choose both the interior and exterior color of the pet bed.  With 32 color choices for the interior minky fabric, and 32 color choices for the exterior cotton fabric, there are a total of 1,024 color combinations!

These solid color pet beds blend beautifully with any decor.  And, since my minky and cotton fabrics are “matched” to each other (they use the same color chart), you can request that the interior minky pet bed sides be the same as the exterior color.  This way only the interior pillow cover is the same or a different color, and can be changed out later to one of many other colors.

This is a great way to change up your pet bed for the season…have a lime green color pillow cover for spring and an orange pillow cover for fall.  I do this myself for my little dog Gracie’s pet bed.  The exterior and interior sides are all an ash gray color, and I change out the pillow cover as I like.   So very versatile!  And yes, I am also now offering replacement/additional pillow covers in my standard pet bed sizes just for this purpose.  Enjoy shopping!

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Shopify vs WordPress-Spanning the Bridge

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As some of you know, I recently moved my sassmuffins.com website to Shopify.  I made the decision to do this so that I could better showcase my pet products.  And while I still think I made the best decision for my business, I can’t say the “switch” has been the smoothest transition.

I have had a self-hosted WordPress account, one that gave me a fair amount of flexibility with my blogging, since the summer of 2012.  As my annual renewal for this self-hosted site was due in March, I rather quickly looked at other options out there to make the best business choice.  After researching the available e-commerce venues, I decided to go with Shopify.   They had a lot of product options I did not have, and were noted for their great customer service.  And, their monthly fees were reasonable for the number of products I would be listing (limit of 100 products).

I also decided that as a short interim solution, I would move my posts to a free WordPress account.  This would give me additional time to work at my own pace on the new Shopify site.  This part actually went rather well, with a couple of very major exceptions.   Apparently 99.9% of people move from a free account to a self-hosted account, not the other way around.  And you can export/import your subscribers from a  free to a self-hosted WordPress account, NOT the other way around.  In fact if you have subscribers via email, you will simply loose them with this transition.  That’s what happened to me; I lost several hundred subscribers.  And those that had me on their feed are not longer seeing me.  Double blow!

The second major issue with moving a blog is that photos don’t actually transfer.  Meaning, they may show up on the new site – but only so long as they are linking back to the old site!  Since my self-hosted WordPress account would be closing, I knew I had to add photos from two years worth of posts into the media files of my new free WordPress account.  Since I rather love photos, this took a great deal of time.  This is also something I need to do over time with my new Shopify account, just in case this free WordPress account is ever closed.

Shopify did take a little time to learn; there are certainly differences from WordPress, but overall the setup and creation are much easier.  I think that is because you are working off of a preselected template, which really helps.  I definitely love the way my products are now showcased, and that I have a cart that is visible within any screen on the site.

So here’s the rub.  If you only want a blog, go with WordPress.  If you want a shop, go with Shopify.  If you want both – well maybe you know of a better solution, but WordPress doesn’t do a good job with products, and Shopify definitely has limitations with a blog.

With Shopify you can’t receive notices of a new post.  Everything within their system is, logically, set up for a ‘customer’ list, not a ‘subscriber’ list.  As such I have signed up with MailChimp (yep more to learn) to be able to send out regular newsletters to those that sign up to receive them on my sassmuffins.com website.  Certainly more effort on my part…create the posts and also a newsletter, although I am looking forward to creating my first one.   And once again a loss of hundreds of post subscribers!  And although there is a  Shopify app ($5 per month) that would automatically download all my WordPress posts to Shopify, to see any comments you are linked back to the WordPress account.  Ridiculous!  You end up with comments on the WordPress site, and other comments (on the same post) on the Shopify site.

My first thought was just to keep the free WordPress account as an archive of older posts, but I have since decided to put all my posts on both sites, manually.   Sometimes I may only put excerpts of full posts on my WordPress account.  This way those that want to  follow my blog may do so via this method; certainly my hope is that most will choose to sign up for the newsletter on my Shopify site.  Certainly folks are welcome to do both!  Either way, I encourage everyone to see my new sassmuffins.com website.  It showcases photography and products beautifully!

Have you found any great solutions to your shop vs blogging issues?

Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 11-Text on Photos

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We join weliveinaflat  and Firebonnet this week for the text on photos challenge.  The Moldiv and Studio apps are very well reviewed at weliveinaflat, and I encourage you to see all of her fine examples, and great thoughts on the many wonderful uses for text on photos.

I decided to give a few examples using the Over app, after discovering it via Instagram.   This is a paid app for the iPhone and iPad.  You are also able to purchase additional packs/fonts with this app, although I think the standard ones are very nice.  Over has a simple little half-circle “disk” off to one side that allows you to easily scroll to “add”, “edit”, “save”, “share”, etc, so is quickly learned.  It also has some interesting standard fonts like “Goon”, “Live Simply”, and “Lanhy”.  They are all a little more handwritten and rather free-spirited than most fonts, and give a nice modern touch to your photos.  Over also lets you add artwork, including some selections where you can add a preselected word or words to your photo.

Here are my examples of Over using these preselected words.  First is a photo of the area in west Austin near where I live (but no I don’t have a home…or views…like this).

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The second photo is one I also took in a small town west of here, and altered using my own filters made with Mextures, which I can safely say has become my new favorite photo app!  Made that red rock really red!!  Word added courtesy of the Over app.

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So, go ahead and try out the Over photo app; I think you will like it.  It seems that text on photos really works best if you can apply it over more solid color areas of a photo.  This way the text doesn’t get lost in the photo’s details.