31 Aug 2016

Major changes at Zazzle

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, I've been very busy working on my three Zazzle stores.

My main store Wildmacnz which houses my clothing, household goods, greeting cards and poster designs etc. 

My business store Wildmacnzbusiness which is where I house all my business card, flexi magnets and other business related designs.

And lastly my Electronics store Wildmacnzelectronics which houses all my phone, laptop and tablet case designs.

I hadn't looked at any of these stores in nearly three years. With all the stuff going on in my personal life with my husband being laid off and then us moving house and town, I just ignored them and as is usually the way, life kept happening and things changed without me realizing. One of the major changes being that Zazzle had hidden a lot of my designs that hadn't sold, so they are no longer visible to the public. I never noticed anything as my sales were getting better over time so I just thought everything was as I left it. 

What a big surprise! But actually it was a good surprise. It took some of the pressure off me. How you ask?
Well, for a long while before my personal life took a sudden left turn, I was creating designs and then putting them on as many products as I could, that suited the design. I never used quick create, I didn't like the idea of my designs going on everything at once especially when not every image is suitable for every product. When new products were released I put all the existing images on the new products if they suited, however this didn't leave me much time for creating new designs. Just keeping up with the old ones was becoming a full time job! I started to slip further and further behind. It felt like I was trying to run up a downwards traveling escalator that was speeding up.  In short I put too much pressure on myself to create a large store, thinking that this was what I needed to do to get seen in the marketplace and get sales. I was wrong. My sales picked up even though a lot of my products were no longer visible for sale in the marketplace. I was focusing on the wrong things.

This reshuffle from Zazzle eased the pressure off me to create more and more and made me look at fine tuning what I already have. It allowed me to take a step back and really think about:
  1. What I really wanted to sell in my stores. 
  2. What I wanted my stores to look and feel like to a customer
  3. What I enjoyed creating. I hate making some products so why am I making them?
  4. Why have some of my products not sold? Wrong design for the product? Have I aimed at the wrong audience for a certain design? Is the design just old and outdated now, especially designs with the date on them?
  5. Keywording and descriptions. Are they letting me down?
  6. What have I sold? This was an eye opener. Some of the designs that hadn't sold were on on products I hated making. Could this be related? 
  7. Do I really need three stores or should I condense down into just one or two?
These are all questions I've been slowly working through for the last few weeks as I delete crap/outdated designs and products I hate making, that haven't sold anyway, and rework my keywords and descriptions on designs I want to keep. It's a painstaking process, but one I'm very happy to do. I can see light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a lightweight streamlined store filled only with designs and products that I'm happy to make and are more likely to sell well.

This is my most popular tie. My watercolor painted scooter design on a yellow background. This scooter is also available on other colored backgrounds. My scooter sells well on multiple products so it makes the cut and will stay in my newly designed store.

The top picture is of a new wrapping paper design I created last week. Now I have time to create new designs which is the part I really enjoy doing. 

I love another new feature that Zazzle introduced whilst I wasn't looking, 

Collections. (see pic above)

Collections are a great way to showcase groups of products either by theme, product or by grouping useful things together, such as, matching birthday cards, gift wrap and envelopes for example, or matching designed cups and plates. I've only just started using this feature but I can see loads of possibilities with it.

All in all, although Zazzle has created lots of new work for me, I welcome the changes as a new beginning for my stores. As I try to simplify other areas of my life, be it creative or home life, it makes perfect sense for me to simplify my stores too. 

I hope you may find this post useful if you have a Zazzle store that you haven't looked at in a while. You may be surprised with the changes. It can be a shock, but I think it's good to take a step back from time to time and reassess what it is you really want to accomplish. Sometimes it's hard to see the wood for the trees.

Have a great week :) 

11 Aug 2016

Week 51 of 365 Challenge Shopfront Week

Wow my second to last week already, time has really flown this year!

This week's images were taken both in my small town and in the nearby city so hopefully I have some variety.

My two favorite images this week are the third and fourth shown here. The third was taken in the city early one Saturday morning before people had started to move much. The umbrellas are still down and I like the early morning light.
The fourth image was taken in my town one evening when it was dark and the window dressings were lit. I liked the color of these two dresses and accessories in the window. I had a lot of outside reflections to contend with but I still like the colors and feel of this image. It's quite grainy but I'm pleased I took it anyway. I didn't have my camera with me for any of these shots this week so they were all shot with my phone.

Next week's challenge is my last for this project and it's one that I swapped earlier due to bad weather. Night week. Hopefully I can get some shots I like.

Have a great week :)

26 Jul 2016

Week 50 of 365 Challenge Red Week

Red week flew past. 
It felt like I'd just started it and then it was all over and so were the school holidays. Despite being sick for part of the holiday we all had fun. We chased Pokemon, took red photos, did a bit of shopping, played card games, journaled, watched movies and went for walks when the weather wasn't too bad. This week seems too quiet now my kids have gone back to school.

Next week is Shopfront week. I can't believe I only have two more weeks to go until I'm finished this challenge! 

Have a great week :)

18 Jul 2016

Week 49 of 365 Challenge Pen Week

Pen week mmm, when I realized last week what this weeks theme was, I groaned out loud. I'm surprised you didn't hear me lol. This week turned out to be a good week though. 
My kids are home from school for two weeks holiday and we've spent a fun week watching movies and playing games together. Even catching my son's head cold hasn't bothered me too much. Hopefully they will chase away the winter blues completely before they go back to school. My kids are great like that.

Pic one is of my gel pens that I use for journaling. I have two sets of seven colors that I bought just before we moved house a year ago. 
I don't think I've used them this year at all though. I'm happy writing in my journal with a blue or black pen at the moment but I have no urge to sketch anything in there with the writing. I've just discovered that over the years I have either painted/sketched or taken photos. I don't seem to do both together. So if I'm working on a painting project I don't touch my camera and if like now I'm working on a photography project my art muse disappears. If I have no set projects on the go, I swing easily between the two without a thought. I have no idea why.

Pic two is of my daughter's pen that her Grandma brought her back from her last trip to Scotland to visit Great Grandma.

Pic three is of some of my Pitt Artist's pens. I like the sepia color and have this color pen in both fine and brush tips.

Pic four is of a group of pens that I have sketched with in the past. I did trials with various pens in my art journal to see which pens are water resistant, fade resistant etc. I like keeping a mixture of water resistant and non-water resistant pens around. Sometimes it's nice to 'paint' with water over a non-water resistant pen to add shading to a sketch and other times I prefer to use water color paints over the pen so don't want the pen to bleed.

Pic five is of my daughter's pen cup with her favorite four color pen sitting above the rest.

Pic six is of a pen I bought from Avon to fund-raise for breast cancer.

Pic seven is of my daughter's connector felt tip pens.

Next week is Red week. 

Have a great week :)

Week 48 of 365 Challenge Music Week

Music week perked me up a bit after my winter blues week last week. The first pic is of my penny whistle which I played a bit after I dug it out to photograph it. Playing it improved my mood a lot.

The 2nd pic is of my daughter's flute. 

Pic 3 is of some of the sheet music my daughter is learning to play at school.

Pic 4 is my daughter's ukelele that she got for her birthday a couple of years ago.

Pic 5 is of my daughter practicing her flute.

Pic 6 is of a thumb piano I bought years ago from a pop up shop selling tribal goods.

Pic 7 is of my daughter playing the flute again.

If the weather had been nicer I would have gone out looking for buskers but it wasn't so everyone decided to stay warm and dry inside this week.

Next week is Pen week. 

Have a great week :)

2 Jul 2016

Week 47 of 365 Challenge Rust Week

This has probably been one of my worst weeks during this challenge. Not because of the subject matter but because I seem to have come down with a dose of the winter blues this week. It's been one of those weeks where you just want to pull the blankets over your head and stay snug and warm in bed, but of course I couldn't do that. I have children and a hubby that need me, so I soldiered on with a distinct lack of enthusiasm for this week's challenge and most other things too if I'm honest.

Even my decluttering became a halfhearted, 'move stuff from here to there but accomplish nothing', chore this week. So all in all I can sum this week up in one word, "Meh". 

Hopefully next week will see an improvement in both the weather and my mood. The theme is music and music used to cheer me up when I was a teen so hopefully I can can find some music to lift my spirits and get my groove back on. Wish me luck.

Have a great week :)

23 Jun 2016

The trials and tribulations of undies

Trial "test(something, especially a new product) to assess its suitability or performance"
Tribulation "a cause of great trouble or suffering"

Undies are both a gift and a curse although lately I've had cause to curse them more often than usual. In fact I've gotten so fed up that I finally decided to clear out my undie drawer today. Something I should have done ages ago that would have saved me a lot of hassles.

I don't know about anyone else but when I find a brand of underwear that I like I stick to it. The particular brand I've been wearing I've been buying and using for around the last twelve years. In various sizes cos you know pregnancy and weight stuff happens. Lately though they've been needing to be replaced again and as usual I went to my favorite brand and bought a week's worth to replace all my others. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that they'd changed the sewing pattern or style or something. They weren't comfortable at all. They rode up in the wrong places, usually at the wrong time and slipped down in other places usually also at the wrong time. 

In frustration I continued wearing my old ones while trying to find something similar from a different brand. Now this is where it started to get annoying, although now when I look back on it, it makes me laugh. One pair of my old undies started to lose it's elasticity and slip down inside my jeans. I don't know if you've ever had your undies fall down inside your jeans but it's uncomfortable and difficult to fix without drawing attention to yourself. The first time it happened I was out in public in a store looking for new undies, funnily enough. Needless to say I didn't hang around there long and so didn't purchase any replacements that day. 

That should have been an easy fix right? Get home take them off and throw them out right? Wrong. I thought maybe I could reuse them as a rag so I dumped them in the wash basket for a wash. I had good intentions you know, saving the planet sort of intentions. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" 

I forgot about them. 
They went through the wash and back into my drawer.

The next time I encountered them I was in the city doing some shopping and looking for.... you know.... new undies. The trip started out fine but ended with me walking around with my hands in my pockets holding my undies up. Not a good look. On the plus side though I did find some new undies I liked that day and so had already bought some before I left the store. I binned the offending pair when I got home and put on another pair that I discovered were stuffed too. Looks like there was more than one pair that had expired. You would think that after all the hassle I would have binned the rest and moved on but I didn't, to my shame, I just moved them to the back of the drawer just in case I needed them. 

Today is a new day though and feeling like having a little decluttering session, I started with that drawer. Bye bye old useless undies, hello nice spacious drawer full of new favorites. 
I guess what I've learned from this is:
  •  Not to wait until things are completely worn out before looking for replacements.  
  • Minimalism and frugality can be taken too far.
  • Brands can change their products without warning. 
  • Your morning dressing time is much shorter when you don't have to search through things you don't wear to find the things you do and
  • People look at you funny when you fiddle with your underwear in public.

Week 46 of 365 Challenge Boxes Week

In boxes week I started out kicking myself for having used some of my carved wooden boxes and the wooden box shaped like a turtle, in previous week's themes but once I started looking around I realized how often I am surrounded by boxes of varying kinds. It turned out to be a productive week in more ways than one.

The first pic was taken sneakily at the supermarket. Sneakily because they don't like you taking pictures in their store. Naughty me. The supermarket I go to is a sort of food warehouse where pallets of food are stacked above the shelves with the regular food boxes on shelves below. The butchery, bakery, deli and produce areas are just like a normal supermarket.

Picture number two is of my husbands computing, workworking and modelrailway books that we removed from the bookshelf we sold. The woodwork and railway books are moving to cupboards in the workshop where he can easily access them while he's working but they won't get too dusty. It'll save him a few trips up and down the stairs with his bad knee. We're just finishing lining the workshop walls before the books can move to their new home. 
The computer books are moving nearer his computer.

Picture number 3 is of some plastic storage boxes I was checking out for using in the garage. Somewhere to keep the pool, pump and hoses safe and together before next season.

Picture 4 is of my daughter's spiral art set. It is all kept in a round cardboard box with a gear shape on the top.

Picture number 5 is of some dungeon and dragon figures I found when clearing the shelves in the spare room the other week. I'd like to get rid of them all but my daughter is keen to keep them. I guess because they are new and interesting to her. 

Picture number 6 is of some storage boxes I was looking at the other day. I love the varying shades of blue and green in the different boxes. It's a color scheme I'm keen on. A sort of beachy/natural look. The boxes themselves look great but I have no idea what I would keep in them. I'm trying to get rid of clutter not introduce color-coordinated organized hoarding. 

Picture 7 is of my mum's carved wooden box. I bought it for her birthday from the Trade Aid shop a few years back and I'd forgotten she had it until she suggested it as a subject for this week's theme.

So all in all boxes week occurred at just the right time to catch me having a clear out and looking at storage ideas.

Next week is Rust week. I'm sure there's a lot of rusty things around here somewhere.

Have a great week!

15 Jun 2016

Week 45 of 365 Challenge Shells Week

As you can see above I was spoiled for choice with the seashells. There seems to be quite a wide variety around New Zealand beaches, though not all the beaches have the same shells. It depends on which coast you're on as to which types of shells are more common. 

I have some very tiny but beautifully patterned shells that were unfortunately too small for me to photograph clearly. I took all of these with my cell phone as I could focus much closer than with my camera. If there's one thing that this 365 challenge has shown me, it's that I should really invest in a macro lens for my camera. I would get loads of use out of it for not only macro use but also portraits.
I wish we could have gone to the beach this week and taken some pics there but work and weather stopped that idea before it could take hold. Bummer!

Next week is Boxes week. I have no idea what I'm doing with that one lol.

Have a great week! :)