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So the last few days I’ve been figuring out this Alchemy thing on Etsy… Have you heard about it? its a fantastic feature and I’m REALLY liking it! i started exploring it when someone sent me (through Etsy) a request for a custom item, some business cards. I got a notice with a request, a desired price, a deadline and a brief outline of what they were looking for. What a great idea! Someone wants me specifically to make them something! We began discussing details and hopefully I’ll get them their cards by the end of the month. yay!

Now, what I discovered is aside from being able to request a custom item or commission someone directly, you can also place a public Alchemy Request. Its the almost same, but the public request is open to anyone who bids. There’s pages and pages of people looking for quotes and estimates to make everything from wedding rings to wedding invitations, journals to articles of clothing. If you see something that you think you can make for them to their specifications then you “place a bid”. Just like real businesses! Whee!

So I started looking around and saw a few Alchemy posts for printed and/or letterpressed items. A few of them seemed a bit out of my league and the prices they request (and I assume would expect) were too low for letterpress, unfortunately. I did bid on some of them but gave them a more realistic price, so I don’t know if they’ll like that. But a few others I put in some bids for along with an explanation that the price they requested would probably only get them the most basic of features and to contact me to talk more about the other options available. Then I started pretending I was going to do the job and began drawing up ESTIMATES.

Yes Estimates, the bane of my existence. I’ve been really wishy-washy about giving estimates, because I didn’t know how. A few weeks ago, I posted about it on the LETPRES listserv, and got some excellent responses. The folks who troll that list really helped me to outline a process of pricing, recommended reasonable mark-up percentages and labour rates. Now, I think I have it kinda figured out. At least, I’m satisfied with the method I’ve derived. We’ll see as I make these jobs (if my bids are accepted) if my estimates panned out correctly or not. I’m pretty sure that I was able to cover my costs and create a profit as well, without stiffing the client or myself. I’ve just got to remember to keep accurate time records and materials purchases!!! (ugh, so much math. I went to Art Skool so I wouldn’t HAVE to do math.THing is I’m good at it but I don’t like it. Like mucking stalls. I can do it, but who’d want to?)

I’m feeling a bit more confident and less over my head now. I’m gaining experience, learning and applying my knowledge. Its good.

So, bring me your jobs! I’m open for business!

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Lock and Key will be on Holiday until 2 January so that I can visit with family, get going on some jobs and print up more product to keep in stock.

Have a healthy, happy holiday and a prosperous New Year!

Yee Haw! i had my first Etsy sale last night! Someone bought a bunch of gift bows I made! I’m so glad I thought of doing that, they’ve been so popular!

I also got a request to do some business cards for some one. I sent her a message outlining what I could do at the price she requested. I hope she thinks its good, or at least messages me back and haggles a bit. I like haggling. Its true. I’m a haggler. Not in appropriately though, I don’t get to the check out at the grocery store and say, “Will you take $50 for everything?” (tho secretly i wish I could).

Also, i have secured a heat source for the sunroom, so now I think I can print my little heart out with out losing circulation in my extremities! Hurrah! Best part is, I traded a set of note cards for it. Like I said, haggler.

Today I had a meeting with a really cool lady named Lisa who is a sales rep for greeting cards. She approached me during the Cherokee Print League Holiday Sale 2 weeks ago. I was at All Along Press peddling my wares for the holiday shoppers, and it was a blast1 I didn’t strike it rich, but I sold enough to cover my costs which is a great confidence builder! I took note of which items sold well and plan to use that knowledge accordingly.

Anyway, Lisa and I spoke about what having/being a sales rep means and how it could work. I’m so small in business terms that she’s open to forms of barter and trade in place of monetary compensation! How cool is that? I LOVE barter relationships!

So I am putting together a small packet of samples for her to bring around to her appointments, and trying to figure out my wholesale costs so that I can make enough money to maybe supplement, if not support myself eventually.

I’m still going to continue promoting the Etsy thing, any way I can. There’s a daunting task: marketing and advertising. Who do I tell? How do I tell them? Where do I put ads? SO much to learn.

Ok, I’m keeping this weblog I think. I will be bouncing back and forth between here and blogger for a while, before I decide where I fit best.

Make sure you visit my etsy shop at lockandkeypress.etsy.com where I have lots of great handmade and letterpressed ephemera for sale.

There’s great things for sprucing up your gifts this year, like wrapping paper, gift tags and hand made bows all letterpressed, unique and full of cheer!

There’s also a new addition for the ladies only, Mod Cloths! Handmade super soft and washable feminine protection. Wash and wear just like your underpants! Saves money and will help you keep that New Years Resolution to “Be Green” as you reduce your waste this year. That’s something to start the year off right with! Remember, Reduce Reuse and Recycle!

More updates as the week progresses.

What Day is it Anyway?

December 2008
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