Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Welcome to the First TST Clinic Session!

Hello everyone and welcome to TST Clinic! In this space, we have an opportunity to make a real, positive difference. We will work to help our fellow artists, crafters and small business owners by providing constructive criticism on whatever they would like to share - a blog, a shop, a new piece of work, etc.

There are a couple of rules. When I first began editing, I took a class where I quickly learned the proper etiquette when critiquing another's work and I'm sure those rules apply here.

It's nerve-wrecking to step out onto the TST stage, expose something that means the world to you and say tell me what you think. Keep that in mind when you are sharing your thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what it would feel like to be on the stage here.

Then, listen to what the artist has said below, review her shop and when you return to comment, please think of 3 positive things to say and 3 constructive things.

This has the potential to help other artists to see their work in a new light, help them to bring in more sales, etc. So, please share as much as you can.

The first person to step into the Clinic is the fabulous Kris, creator of Lisianblue!


Here is what has been on Kris' mind when it comes to her shop...

"I guess I have to wonder about the whole thing - not really selling as much as I want - and if I spend any more time promoting, I won't be able to sleep or eat - forget trying to create anything!"

- Is it just the economy?
- It is the wording?
- What the pendants are made of turning people off?
- Are the prices a problem?

I ask ALL of you out there to take a moment, visit her shop, ponder her questions and answer with your heart AND business mind.

Thank Kris for being the first to venture into this territory. We will try to help in every way we can!

And the TST will have more to come in about a week...so freaking exciting!


lisianblue said...

Natasha, I am so honored to be your 1st clinic "victim" - lo not even! - Love ya for doing this!

FunkyMonkey Girls said...

hey Ms lisianblue from Tucson AZ!

1. Your product is great!
2. Your pictures aren't bad either
3. Your descriptions are very well done when you click on the item.

1. Your intro: Studio Announcement:
Hi Im Kris.
Welcome and enjoy the unique one of a kind creations made to add a little beauty to the world.
Fine Art Photos, greeting and note cards available at http://lisianblue2.artfire.com
Needs more work, I am thinking dymanic?
2. Artfire is slow along with Etsy & do you have a blog that tells everywhere how you do these, supplies etc? It is always a great idea.
3. I honestly can't think of anything else...

Funky Monkey Girl

PS, PLEASE do both of mine stores if possible?



JanetDavies said...

Hi Kris!
I just took a good look at your shop and here are my thoughts. First of all your work is lovely! Your prices are fair and your photos are great. My first thought was that your shop is a happy place to be!

The things that occurred to me that could be better have more to do with your shop layout. I think you have a lot of items that are similar so when I am scanning and not looking closely the pieces all start to look the same.

I think it would break things up visually if you used different backgrounds for different items so my eye can search quickly and so it will stay interested. For example use different colored backgrounds for ornaments than for pendants. Aim for more contrast.

We as shopkeepers know all about the shop sections on the side but the type is pale and the font is a little small compared to your photos for listings. If I were new to shopping on Artfire, I might not notice it. If all the pendants had a purple background and all the ornaments had blue, for example, it would be much easier for me to see the difference quickly.

Your banner looks like your listings and then there are the featured items. Those two rows show up first no matter what page I am on and on my laptop I have to scroll down to see your listings beneath the featured items. It looks like that's all you have on all 7 pages with slight variations. My thoughts would be to change your banner so it doesn't look like listings and MAYBE (that's a big maybe!) have fewer items.

Those fall hanging lights are so gorgeous! I would put one in your featured items to break up the blue. I think if you tweeted and promoted those right now you could sell a lot!

Natasha said...

Funky and Janet - awesome feedback. Thoughtful, insightful...I will be back later with my own but Funky if you are interested in this shoot me an email..I have a schedule going and I'll get you all signed up so your shops can have a post of their own and people can help in any way they know how for you! natasha@creativenachos.com

Frenzy23 said...

Hi Kris,
Your work is beautiful. I especially love this one: http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=438782

Nice descriptions as well, though one suggestion comes to mind. Perhaps describing the size of each item?

Play with your shop announcement. This may seem like a tiny detail, but you may find the first sentence, "Hi Im Kris" isn't the best approach. Try starting out with hello, welcome, or something of that nature. (also, switch the Im to I'm. But I may be the only one crazy enough to notice such things :))

I would try something like this:
"Welcome! Sit back and discover little treasures and one of a kind creations. Hand painted ornaments add a little beauty to the world."
There are other much better writers than me on TST, but you get the idea. You want a professional looking announcement to match those professional looking products.

You have a beautiful store, and I do think the economy is keeping us down at the moment. But things will get better and I'm confident your shop will get sales!

Phoenyx Ravenswing said...

I'm busy preparing a novel for you, as it turns out, so I'm going to look at it in the morning to make sure the words are saying what I want them to say. :-)

Yay, you for being here! :-)

BB & GF! :-)

Natasha said...

Kris...I have just had the best time playing in your shop and my head is simly reeling with thoughts so I am going to dive right in.

The colors that you use in your work - and when I use the term work I am referring to ALL of your products are gorgeous. You have an eye for color and especially the way colors work when blended together. When it comes to your products, you have a fantastic array of items. I am in awe of all that you create because each product is great from your earrings to your candle holders. In addition, you have a style which is clear and I like that consistency in your work. If I were doing a random search for vases and one of your items came up I would know that it was your work which is excellent.

I believe that the economy issues are having an effect on all businesses however, your prices are very reasonable. I would not change them.

However, I think there is room here to make your online prescence much stronger. The first issue I would address is to decrease the amount of items in your shop. That might sound crazy, shouldn't having more mean more sales? Well, yes and no. If there are too many items people may lost interest in looking at page after page and thereby leave your shop before getting to page 7 where that perfect item was waiting for them. So, I would take the best from each of your products and paste them and take out the others. You can always add more as things sell - and they will sell.

You have fantastic items but your banner and your featured section is only showing your ornaments. Might I suggest putting your gorgeous candleholders in the banner and/or featured (as Fall descends people will be drawn to the warmth and cozy feeling of those candle holders). Feature a couple of ornaments as we move toward Christmas - make some forum Christmas posts now if you like - there are people who shop for Chistmas ornaments year round. Basically, scatter your products throughout your banner and featured section so that every thing you do, one of ever item you make has a viewing that way people will see the range of your work. Your Pink bead earrings are sensational but it took forever for me to stumble across them. They need to be featured becausr they photo of them is also super.

Speaking of photos - which I know you are working on - you need to have more variety when it comes to your backgrounds. Those same pink earrings really pop on that background, the stained glass pieces pop on the stone background but something like the Fun little vase is totally lost in that picture which is a shame because it's a gorgeous piece.

Lastly, I think that expanding on your Shop announcement would work better for you. My guess is that in saying, "Hi I'm Kris" you wanted to create an inviting feeling, like inviting a friend in to tea. You can still do that but in a way that showcases the work ...something like, "Come in, it's wonderful to have you here. I'd like to share my one of a kind, handmade work with you....Frenzy had a great intro beginning as well. Play with it and be YOU. People are going to come to your shop because they love your work..when they get them allow yourself to shine as they will love the work even more when they feel your warmth.

It is my hope that all of these suggestions have helped ...feel free to ask everyone questions and as you move to make changes, share them. I would even advise letting us know when you want to chat bu starting a Ning coversation that we can join in on the TST Ning as you move to make changes. Good luck...let your work shine brightly, Kris

Trina said...


How brave you are to open up your shop to critique this way.

I really like your painted glass work -- the pendants and the ornaments and the other pieces. I think your pricing looks about right, it certainly does not seem to high. You use your sections to your advantage, breaking your inventory into managable chunks for people to look at.

I am with you on how hard it is to sell pendants, both in person and online. One thing you might try is to show your pendants hanging. It will give people and idea of what they will look like on, as well as an idea of scale. I know when I started using a jewelry tree to display some of my pendants at shows, my sales incresed tremendously. I also know it is not as easy to find a good way to show that in a photograph.

Best of luck. You have a beautiful product.

lisianblue said...

Bird - I don't know - this novel thing sounds a little scarey! lolo from you it can't be that scarey.

Trina - I didn't know I was going to be up 1st! After taking art classes for 4 years and all the critiques that went with - I learned how to seperate my feelings from constructive feedback. Except happy feelings!
Oh, hanging pendants - where did I put all those photos -
Thank you so much for your thoughtful input.
you guys have given me enough to keep me busy for the next week!!
But, I just learned how to link a button to my categories - will be making some buttons tonight. Can't do much about the size of the font for the categories -

Phoenyx Ravenswing said...


Nah, hon, not scary. :-) I do have suggestions & thoughts, and lots of them, but many of them you've heard from me before, and all of them are given in love & the very large desire to see you succeed. :-)

A *HUGE!* fan of both you & your work,
-Bird :-)

lisianblue said...

This I do know, Bird! And always appreciate your input - You have given me so many ideas & so much encouragement, that I truly appreciate.
Natasha & everyone here has always been so thoughtful,encouraging, I know I have grown, my work has grown, expanded - It is the best place on the web - I thank you Natasha for doing TST and everyone who participates.

meherio68 said...

Nothing much to add here.

I'm totally in love with you fall leaves candle holders and your butterfly wings. So much so that I tried to buy one of each— only to discover that you don't ship internationally.
So I guess maybe that's one thing to consider...

I really like the idea of using "coded" backgrounds for different types of items.

Otherwise, I like the quality and quantity and photos, I think your prices are quite fair, and even though, of course, I do not 'want' evry single item in your shop I find your work beautiful AND original.

So there.
Keep up the good work and bear up!

lisianblue said...

meherio - I do ship internationally!

Guess I will have to write it in huge letters so people see it.

Thank you for your other comments -I do so appreciate the feedback.

Felicia Kramer said...

Sorry I'm so late in getting to this. Kris, you know I'm a big fan. I reviewed your shop - I'm not that familiar with Artfire so I kept kicking myself out, but that's not your problem, it's mine!

I skimmed what everyone else has said and I don't think I disagree with any of it, but three points I don't think were mentioned.

First off, you know I would burn down my house to spend just one night with your hanging candle lights! And I pretty much love all your stained glass. I have a few comments, primarily about the ornaments. I love Christmas, by the way, so ornaments get my attention!

First, I agree with the comments about possibly coordinating photo backgrounds with the product. However, the additional shots you have below are almost all identical and on the same backgrounds. Keep the "hero" shot (as they call it in the ad biz)
consistent but for the secondary shots I think you should try different backgrounds and environments and some extreme closeups of the product. (The variety of photos of your hanging candle lights are a good example.)

Have you considered offering sets of 4 or 6 ornaments at a reduced price? Buying 6 at the full price is a bit intimidating, but I would be seriously tempted with a package deal. Perhaps you could also come up with a clever inexpensive hand-decorated "collector box" to put them in.

If you are going to reduce the amount of items you carry in your shop at any given time, I would take a good hard look at your ornaments. For instance, ornaments that are very fluid like the Blue Pearl and Purple Flower Burst are gorgeous and come across very well. I think the ones that don't "show" well are the ornaments that have a lot of fine line work, because from a distance they look great but up close the lines appear a bit "shaky." That might be turning some people off who, regrettably, are used to the machine-made product. It's not fair, but it's a battle we fight daily ...

I hope these have been constructive ideas, Kris. I absolutely know what you are going through. A dear online friend gave me a bunch of tips for my shop many months ago and I was deeply appreciative that she took the time and came up with some great ideas that I couldn't see for myself. My shop is much improved since then, and my visibility is much better, but I too am not selling as much as I would like to. But hope springs eternal ...


Amanda Fall - PersistentGreen said...

Hi Kris! So sorry I haven't had time to weigh in yet...still too busy today, but just wanted to let you know that I'll be back to comment when I get a chance.

You are a BRAVE soul for doing this, and I applaud you!!! :)

lisianblue said...

Felicia - I'm heading off here to go finish up an order - and it's late - but I've read everything - and do appreciate your feedback - and I will consider everything you said.

Amanda - totally understand the busy part!
I don't know about brave - but thank you for the applause! lo