For years I have wanted to use my original poetry and photos to design greeting cards and other products. After doing some research I found that people were saying that Zazzle was the best place to start your own greeting card line. After checking the websites I found that I could design other products I had wanted to design such as mugs, shirts, bags, posters and more! Since I am really into nature scenes, especially the beach and picturesque scenes that inspire a peaceful feeling, I called my line Poetic Scenes. I had designed some products on other websites and found out that if I wanted my own store I would have to pay a fee. Since I already pay for my website Amandas Soaps and my travel site Oregon Coast Experience I did not want to add another bill to my list. I found that on Zazzle I could create my own store for free! I watched some youtube tutorials and found that after your have your store a while you can open other stores on Zazzle for free! Some people say this is a great way to keep your products more organized. For example, I could start a store for the mugs I design, another one for greeting cards, another one for clothing and so on. I am not sure the limit of stores you can start. So far I just have one, but I may get another one specifically for my greeting cards and wall art. It is so nice to have a free, easy to use website to design and sell my products. Of course they take a percentage, but you get to choose the amount of royalties your keep. This increases the price of the product so I usually opt for the fifteen percent royalty. I want to make sure I make sales, but that is your call. I love that I have more control over my store on Zazzle and the nice products I get to design with my amazing photos.
About fourteen years ago I started my first website which I still have today, Amandas Soaps. Of course the look is much different. I never would have thought to start my own website because I am not a programmer and at the time was teaching and working at the library. I began to learn how to make my own natural soap, which lead to me learning to make other products like natural lip balm, lotion and other smell good stuff. I did this because I wanted to be able to make my own products and choose my own scent so I would never run out of what I liked. Other people got interested in my products, especially family members who still love my products today. I started with Geocities which was provided by Yahoo. They offered a what you see is what you get editor which helped me to list my products and have pictures. This was a free option so I had fun with it. Of course there was no way of selling my products because I did not have a merchant account. Later on, I was set up with an e-commerce website and I learned to manage it. My website is now a Woo-commerce website which is a combination of WordPress and e-commerce. If you wish to make money by selling a product or getting donations, you must have a merchant account. I have been working with paypal the whole time I have been doing business online. I don’t like some of the changes they have made but I still find them the best option. Now not only am I selling soap, but other things as well.
I began working with polymer clay about thirteen years ago and have started to become more professional with my art. I have polymer clay gifts on my website in a different section, but I wanted to make a website specifically for my art. I was looking for a website to showcase my art and link to my website. I also have a youtube channel and wanted to link to that as well. I strongly suggest offering videos on your website or setting up a video channel so that people can see more clearly what you have to offer. It also provides a more personal touch. There are a lot of scammers out there and you want to make sure that people know you are real. It also helps to have a good customer/client relationship. You want people to buy from you or come to your website specifically for the information your offer so keep your credibility good. Be nice. Be professional. Even though I know what I have to offer is unique because I put my own twist on everything I make. However, there are other artists, writers, soap makers and internet professionals. It is important for people to know they can trust me and that I enjoy what I do.
Back links and keywords are very important in getting the right people to your website. Make sure you link to websites that are specific to your website. Link to your video tutorials or other websites with useful information. Make sure your keywords are relevant. Research to find the best keyword and keyword phrases to get your target audience. Make sure your website does not look like a spam site but is user friendly. People need to be able to find what you want them to find on your website. Remember, they are not internet professionals so make it easy for them to search on your website. Content is king on the web. Write your own original content or posts for your website. If you don’t have time or the knowledge to do this, hire a content writer. I was lucky enough to be related to a programmer, but if you don’t have one, get one.
I really like Weebly. This is the place I found to host my new art website, Amandas Poly Paint Art. I am showcasing some paintings and polymer clay art. I also have articles on projects I am working on and tutorials. I have just started this website and am already getting page views. That means, the right people are seeing my website in the search engines like Google and Bing. Weebly offers a what you see is what you get editor so that you can manage your website. It is free unless you want to upgrade to a website that makes money. All I wanted was the ability to have blog posts, pictures of my art and links to my website and youtube channel. I have all of that and it looks much better than I thought it would. I would recommend trying it. If you have a social media account, make one specifically for your website. You can post links and information to get people interested in your website. These are some things I have done over the years that have helped me make sales. I hope this helps you when you start your new website.
Ever since I was as young as five I can remember writing and singing my own songs. Of course I did this in the privacy of my own home. It was a way for me to express how I felt about anything. Once I learned how to play the piano I began adding music to my songs and posting the videos on my youtube channel. I changed from an outgoing kid to a more introverted adult so the ability to have an outlet for my feelings became more important. No matter who you are or what type of personality you have it is always a good idea to find a creative outlet.
When my mom passed away in January, this outlet became extremely important. I wrote a book as a tribute to her. I wrote a song for her and posted it on my youtube channel. This outlet helped me to deal with the grief I was feeling. It also has helped me through the years when I couldn’t talk about something, but I could sing about it. Sometimes I wrote my own songs. Sometimes I would sing a known song that identified my feelings. Many times I would sing or listen to music to help me to relax and feel happier. Music reduces stress for me which is very important because too much stress has a negative effect on your brain and body. If you are trying to find an outlet for your feelings, try music. If you need to relax, listen to some music you like. Unwind and enjoy the life you are blessed with.
I have published a new book dedicated to my mom who passed in January of this year. I have self-published several books in print and e-book with Lulu. I had heard about Smashwords from friends who specialized in writing e-books so I decided to check them out. I have published my first e-book with them so I am still waiting for money results. I published my book, Tribute To Mom Poetry For Her, the day before National Women’s Day. This month my mom would have been sixty-two so the fact that this is Women’s History Month is pretty neat to me. She was certainly the best woman I have ever known.
Back to Smashwords and Lulu. I have made money selling my print books and e-books with Lulu, but not enough. They keep fifty percent and this last time they kept more for some reason. I will still publish print books with them but I think I will publish e-books with Smashwords since they claim to specialize in e-book distribution. Both Lulu and Smashwords distribute books that meet the requirements to popular sites like Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks and Barnes and Noble Nook. However, Smashwords distributes to much more places like publishers in other countries and small publishers. The more places my books are distributed to, the more people can read them and the more income I can make. Also Smashwords lets you keep sixty to eighty percent of your royalties. That makes a huge difference. The main thing that I like better about Lulu was the ease of cover design. In Lulu it is set up to make the design process easier. In Smashwords you not only have to make your image the right size but it has to be exactly the right shape. You also have to write the title and author’s name on the image before submitting it as a cover design. This was a bit tricky. I had to get into my paint program and carefully paint the letters for the title and my name on the image. It was accepted, but I prefer the way Lulu has things set up for cover design. However, now that I know the process and have published one book with Smashwords, I can publish more. I was telling my sister about the process and the difference between the two services. Both are good for Indie authors. I am helping my sister understand how to self-publish her books. We are still looking for an option to publish children’s books with pictures, but I know how to publish just about any other kind of book now, including photo books. I hope this helps those of you getting into the self-publishing and digital book world. Have fun and keep writing!
About thirteen years ago I discovered polymer clay. As a child I had always loved to play with play do. Obviously polymer clay is not the same thing. I was working at the library at the time and had just started my website on making soap. I also read in some books about different kinds of clay. As I was looking at a craft store to get some soap making supplies, I think it was Michaels, I found the polymer clay section. I began to work with it and read articles about how to use it. I noticed many jewelry makers use polymer clay to make beads. I don’t wear much jewelry but I do love making pendants to put on my keychain. I also began to make pins and magnets with polymer clay. I was fascinated with the adorable OOAK dolls people were making with polymer clay. I began to make some. Then I made animals like teddy bears and cats with polymer clay. Now I make all kinds of things with polymer clay. I think this is part of the reason I love polymer clay. There are so many things to make. Once you learn to condition the clay and how to bake it polymer clay is pretty easy to work with. The nice thing is you can start with your hands and a roller. You don’t need many tools. The other cool thing is that you don’t need a special oven. You can just use the oven that comes with your stove to bake the clay. You put the finished project on a baking sheet, bake it for the right amount of time and temperature and ta da! You get a really nice keep sake or polymer clay gift. I made gifts for my mom. She is now passed but she still has the tiny polymer clay teacup and polymer clay bowl I made her. I made my dad a polymer clay cross and polymer clay mug which he uses for a pencil holder. Polymer clay gifts do last for years. Working with polymer clay also relaxes me. You can watch my youtube videos on polymer clay projects and other fun things. You can subscribe to my channel or visit my website to see what I have. You can buy gifts and read interesting posts about polymer clay, soap, essential oils and other fun stuff. Keep being creative and find ways to relax. Stress damages the brain so find ways to get rid of it as much as possible.
The power of love is stronger than some of us know. A person feels more motivated, attractive and becomes a more positive human being when they know they are loved. I believe we are all created to love and be loved. My mom certainly served that purpose. As I write these poems for the poetry book in her memory I remember all the times she made me feel loved. She made a shy, awkward girl feel like she could do anything. She made me feel like I could be funny and people would like me for me. It is really important to make people feel like they are important. We all need to feel like we have purpose and guess what? We do have purpose. If you wonder why you are here just remember one important thing. You were made from love and you are made to love. I am sharing a poem about my mom that made me realize this growing up.
She sees love
She sees beauty
She sees no faults in her lovely baby
She loves and protects
She sees the best
She tells her child to ignore the rest
She sees goodness
She sees sweet
Her child is growing each day they meet
When I look into mom’s eyes
I suddenly realize
All the goodness she can see
All the dreams she sees in me
I see hope
I see dreams
I see the love she has for me
This year 2019 has been a year of unexpected changes. A couple of weeks ago my mom passed away unexpected at the young age of 61. I have been dealing with grief and wanting to find a way to keep her memory alive. I have always found that music and writing really help me to deal with how I feel. I have been writing songs and poetry to express what a beautiful person she was. I have decided to write a poetry book as a tribute to her and all the great moms. If you have been blessed with a great mom like I was you may enjoy the first poem in my book. The first chapter is called Beautiful Mom and this is the first poem.
Unseen By Her
She is beautiful but she does not see it
She sees mom wife friend
That is beauty but she does not brag
She lives her life with laughter and fun
She cries with you and cheers for you
Her smile lights up her pretty face
She does not see she has such grace
She gives her time without complaining
She gives her love like no one can
She looks in the mirror and sees her faults
I see perfection and she laughs
Everything a mom should be
Beautiful mom to me