Monthly Archives: February 2012

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Book Review #1- How to Make Money Using Etsy by Timothy Adam

In my efforts to educate myself in the ways of a creative entrepreneur I have purchased more than a few books for instruction and inspiration that I will be reviewing here on Notso Kitty when I finish them. The first of such books that I am going to review; How to Make Money Using Etsy by Timothy Adam was a paperback that I spotted while perusing my local craft store— and like most things I see in the craft store I felt compelled to buy it since I didn’t have one at home. As I threw it in my cart I was excitedly thinking about how this could help me score a few more sales for my Etsy shop—- unfortunately my initial excitement stopped me from investigating my potential purchase thoroughly enough to realize it was filled with information I probably already knew. But so it goes sometimes— impulse buys can be won just as easily as they can be lost.

So how was the book? If I had the choice to purchase How to Make Money Using Etsy again I would probably skip it, but in fairness I will try to review  both the positives and negatives.

What was good? In a word SEO! This book didn’t attempt to dive to deep into the scary technical realm of Search Engine Optimization, but the tips it did give for optimizing your Etsy listings were useful and clear enough to follow. I liked that the author seemed to realize that his audience wouldn’t like a whole bunch of technical acronyms and web jargon and he limited their respective use in his write-up. This book provided a good introduction to the basic mechanics of Etsy, search engines and the internet; which any good Etsy seller should have a handle of.

What was bad? Overall, I felt like this book was a waste of time and money. Almost all of the “tips” that the author provides can be found by doing a few searches through Etsy’s community forums.  I had a tremendous sense of deja vu to everything I read in this guide aside from the layman’s view of SEO which I mentioned as a plus above. Perhaps most disappointing to me: the interviews that the author uses from different bloggers and Etsy sellers sound terribly cliched and repetitive and do not express these artist’s individualities or what made them successful at all!

I wouldn’t recommend How to Make Money Using Etsy to those that are already somewhat internet or Etsy-savvy. However it might be a good book for those that are looking to make the leap from being a craft-fair-only operation to one that is online too. Perhaps! But I would first recommend that you learn on your own using Etsy’s forums and FAQs first before purchasing such a book; you might just save yourself some more money!

Codecademy – Keeping up with Code Year

I’m two months into Codecademy’s Code Year program and pleased to say I’ve been keeping up nicely with the lessons. I have since been told by others that learning how to program in Javascript first might not be the easiest way to go— but it’s a way to go nonetheless! So far I have found Codecademy’s lessons somewhat straight forward in teaching a novice how to code, but then again, I have an engineering background so these things may come more easily to me than others without any technical know-how. I’ll admit that a few of the lessons have thoroughly stumped me (as they seem to have stumped others in their comments in the forums), but I’ve somehow managed to get through them eventually with the forum’s help.

Codecademy

My "Achievements" thus far on Codecademy

So what have I learned so far? Lessons have included everything from functions to objects, conditionals to loops, introductory to advanced techniques. Phew! At the end of most weeks “Lessons” which teach a specific bit of code, Codecademy has you work on building little dummy programs in Javascript called “Projects”. Both aspects of Codecademy are kind of fun in a nerdy sort of way; they maintain a healthy dose of nerd humor in their lesson and project explanation write-ups. Would I know what to do if somebody sat me down in front of an empty UI and said “code something”? Not yet…. But I feel like I’m making good progress towards that. More importantly than being able to write code I would like to be able to read it (I would like to eventually focus on design side) and I have been surprised recently when I pull up bits of code written by others and actually can start to understand what they are doing. Exciting!

Aside from Codecademy, I have decided to take some HTML5 design lessons since those too will be needed for the prosperous future of Notso Kitty. I haven’t signed up for a program yet, but I have thoroughly investigated a few web-based learning programs. I’m thinking I might go with Treehouse for HTML5/CSS and Lynda for Adobe CS5. Yes indeed, those should keep me busy! I’m so excited to learn since getting these skills under my belt will let me start to execute the beginnings of my creative vision!

Creative Inspiration: Getting OFF Auto-Pilot

Lately I have been wondering just how creative I really am. I mean, I feel like I’m really creative—- I always have these zany ideas that keep me occupied on my weekends, but I wonder if that could translate to “creativity-on-demand” or the type of creativity that would be required if I were to attempt to earn my livelihood off of artsy ideas. I guess I don’t have to worry about that…. YET! But the thought did lead me to question how creative professionals maintain their creativity at a consistent level.

The common answer that I found: Creativity is never maintained at a consistent level! Creative professionals have days that they don’t feel so creative just like any other ordinary person. However, from what I could tell, smart creative professionals take advantage of their very creative periods and use them as a type of “bank” for when they aren’t feeling so inspired.  Not everyday needs to be wasted when you can’t come up with a new idea—- those days can be more focused more on technical execution or something of the sort. And on the days that creativity does strike, then you just take advantage of it while you can.

There are some tricks for getting yourself back into the creative mood— some more effective than others. Walks, road trips, museums and books have all been commonly suggested ways of regenerating creativity. In my own personal efforts to be more creative, I have made an conscious  effort to get myself off of “auto pilot”— or any activity that I find so routine that I can do it with my eyes closed. In my most recent example of this, I decided to change up the way I walk to work— instead of walking through the financial district in Boston from the subway stop I walk through Chinatown instead. This might not sound like a big deal, but I had told myself that I would walk through Chinatown every day last week—– and only managed to do it once! The other days I found myself half-way through the financial district before I would even remember my intention. My brain wants to take the easy way out and I want it to have practice navigating new (and potentially creative) situations! Let’s hope a quest for a creative life doesn’t lead to an all out battle between me and my lazy brain in the future!

Easter Cat in a Funny Hat…. or the tale of Poor Fluffy

Poor Fluffy….. I recently had my hubby build a blockade from preventing him from accessing his favorite hiding spot: an open-hole access panel for the motor to our bathtub. Prior to building this permanent blockade we had tried everything to keep Fluffy from going in there— boxes (which Fluff just batted out of the way), tin foil (which Fluff punched a hole through despite his aversion to the feel), a cardboard piece held in place by duct tape (Fluff peeled this off)— to no avail! Even the first time Todd tried to build the permanent blockade Fluff figured out a way through it— he managed to take the hinges off with his paws!!!

Simply told, I don’t want Fluff in the wall for safety reasons first. If something were to happen to him when he was under the bathtub and I couldn’t reach him I would probably react by sawing a hole through the bathroom wall! And nobody wants to see me with power tools 🙂 So best to just keep the cat out of the wall to begin with.

home improvement: kitty edition

home improvement: kitty edition

We think Todd’s handiwork should do the job this time. He built this access door panel by using scrap wood that we had lying around our basement— and reinforced the screws this time so they are Fluffer proof!

There is an unexpected perk to walling-up Fluff’s hiding spot— he can’t escape from me when it comes time for cat hat picture time!! Oh poor Fluff, first he lost his hiding spot, and now this…..

Easter cat hat

Easter cat hat

Don’t worry— Fluff was rewarded handsomely for his modeling duties! The Easter eggs of this cat hat actually can be used to store cat treats! I call it the Easter Egg Hunt Cat fascinator and it’s the newest in my collection of cat hats in the Notso Kitty Shop! Stop on over soon to check out the latest kitty creations.

Pinterest and the joy of “Pinning”

About two months ago as I was reminiscing with my old college roommate Tauheedah during a brief jaunt to California the conversation naturally drifted into the “cat hat” realm and how I’m posting them on Etsy. When she asked me if I was using Pinterest and I replied “What’s that?” she practically jumped up and down telling me how wonderful it was. Of note— Tauheedah isn’t a typical person that I would associate with having to be up on the latest social media trends, so it definitely sparked my interest to hear that she was so enthralled by Pinterest when it was so seemingly out of her wheelhouse. I remembered making the mental note to check it out as soon as I returned home.

For those that don’t know, Pinterest is the newest social media phenomenon that is sweeping across the internet and catching on as if each new account were offering free money or instant weight loss! To clarify, Pinterest does not offer free money or instant weight loss— but people are certainly flocking to the site as if they are. What the site does allow is for  people to bookmark or “pin” objects, quotes or pictures from other websites and arrange them into “boards”—- areas that they can be easily viewed and re-refrenced. Pinterest’s catch-all description has been to call their website a “digital scrapbook”, but I have an aversion to scrapbooks of any sort (I think they lead to insanity—- this is an untested theory) so I prefer to think of it as more of a “visual digital list”. Semantics, gotta love ‘em ☺

One week after my initial conversation with Tauheedah I had visited Pinterest’s site, but was dismayed by the fact that I couldn’t just sign up….. I had to request for an invite to be sent to me before I could get started on “pinning” pictures to my own boards. In hindsight I guess I should have just had Tauheedah invite me, but I wasn’t clearly thinking it through at the time. Instead I signed up on the website and waited for them to send me an invitation themselves— a process that took about a week. Once I got my invitation by email though, I was on my way to becoming a Pinterest addict!

Aside from being another forum to post my cat hats, Pinterest is a great place to find and discover all sorts of things to inspire and give rise to your own sense of style. Currently I have about 20 boards with different themes; one for home décor, one for cupcakes, one for art, more than a few devoted to different cat-tastic things, etc etc etc. I love that I can see what my other friends (linked via Facebook) are pinning and I can get inspired by their ideas as well. The majority of Pinterest’s US users tend to be of the female-crafty type, so there never seems to be a drought of new ideas coming to the site that interest me.

I have really grown to love Pinterest and suspect that most people with similar interests would enjoy it as well. It has become a great source of unexpected creativity inspiration and might be another great platform by which to increase my internet presense in the future. If you’re interested in the things I have or will be pinning you can Follow Me on Pinterest

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