Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today's Best!

I was a definitely a happy camper yesterday. Just a day after I released the Old Soul 2012 New York Calendar into the digital marketplace, it gained immediate recognition on Zazzle. It was the only calendar to receive a Today's Best Award for August 29 (August 30 in my side of the world), and it also got into the Top 10 for Calendar Views on the same day! Fellow Zazzlers took a look at the calendar and left a number of comments, others joined the Store's Fan Club, and one even featured the calendar on his Squidoo lens. The lensmaster promised to feature the product in his lens for the remainder of 2011.

One of my older calendars also received the TBA almost two years ago (it was also the only calendar to get the award that day), but this recent one feels a bit more special considering the amount of work I put into it. The nature of my day job and the number of other responsibilities and activities I currently have limit the time I could really dedicate to designing products for the store (I think I currently have about a dozen designs that haven't had the time to publish yet). So, doing all this had me squeezing out every bit of time I could so I could get it done before the so-called "-ber" months arrive (one day to go!). It took me about a month to make the Calendar --- adding an artistic twist to the photos, looking for the right elements to make the calendar look nice, putting together the whole thing on Picnik and Photoshop... down to double checking if everything was spelled correctly! It was quite tedious and I would sometimes get impatient as I wanted the calendar out as soon as possible. Well, it's out now, with two little red ribbons to boot!

In the end, winning the award may not really seem like a big deal. These awards are given out daily, meaning thousands of other products get the same award. But at least for a day, yours was one of those that stood out among 15 billion products on Zazzle... for a day, your product got featured on Zazzle's home page. You get a number of congratulatory comments, 5-star ratings, new fans for your store, but most important of all, more site traffic for that day... all enough to satisfy one's vanity. Well, I certainly rode the wave as soon as I found out about the awards. I put up an announcement on both The Old Soul Store's Facebook fan page and Twitter page immediately after, and now here I am on the blogosphere. HAH! With that, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for what this will do for my sales!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Starting to look like something...

One of the most useful things I learned in high school was the basic logic behind HTML, or putting up a simple website. Of course, today's websites are much more sophisticated, with a multitude of layers, languages and protocols behind them. XHTML, XML, CSS, Java, Java Script, Flash... the list goes on! Thankfully, HTML is still relevant and remains one of the more popular languages out there. Despite that, what I know isn't really much... but at least for now, it's enough. In putting up this blog, I've used all the HTML tags I could muster, and more. And with that, somehow, the blog is finally starting to look like something!

I finally turned to a blog because of my frustration with the limitations of other sites, including Zazzle (the fine folks who make the products when you order from The Old Soul Store). On the store's homepage for example, I couldn't change the paragraph alignment to "center"! Nope, the "p align" tag didn't work. Neither could I use the Twitter widgets I wanted. Facebook only allows you to do so much. I once tried Google Sites, and actually had fun setting up that page (it's still up! Click here to see it). The problem was, it wouldn't allow me to include "unsafe content"... a.k.a. cooler features. I could't even display Zazzle panels (see the bottom of this page)! Of course, any Tom, Dick and Harry out there with slightly more technical know-how would probably tell me I could have used Flash, Java or maybe even a WYSIWYG application to do just that. I could have used Zazzle's "Store Builder" too... But obviously, I know nothing about PHP or CSS. Whether it's a lack of programming skills, the absence of the needed software or just plain laziness, I've stuck to what I could type, copy or paste.

I can't quite figure out why I've been hesitant to go on the blogosphere in the first place. I'm guessing it was because I didn't really know how I wanted to do it. Should I post as the store or as a real person? Use the third person (like I do on Twitter and the store's Facebook fan page) or the first? What would I write about? How would I write about it? Well, here I am... questions answered and starting to discover what I've been missing all this time; posting stuff just the way I imagined. I've always wanted to tell the Old Soul story. Finally, I get to tell it the way I've always wanted to.

Add gadget > input social plug-in content and preferences > copy code > paste > CLICK > Instant Twitter widget. Add gadget > create Zazzle Panel > customize panel > copy code > paste > CLICK > Instant Zazzle panel. No unsafe content here. Pure awesomeness.

With all this new-found freedom, it's hard not to put too many gadgets and features on the page. But I'm certainly happy with my current list:

- Catchy blog name? Check.
- Nice header image? Check.
- A good blog description? Check.
- Easy-on-the-eyes font? Check.
- Links to The Old Soul Store? Check. (yup, one right there!)
- Comment boxes? CHECK.
- Social plug-ins? CHECK.
- Widgets? CHECK.
- Zazzle panels? CHECK. (see the foot of the blog)
- Good reading material??? Hopefully.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased

Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased 
You recently sold 30 customized copies of your product, San Francisco Cable Car.

There aren't any words more powerful than these for a Zazzle store owner. It doesn't matter if you earned just an $0.08 royalty from a single postcard sold... All you really care about is that, somebody out there thought enough of your design to actually buy it... especially in this economy! It becomes even more exciting when you start asking, "how did he/she find my design? Where in the world-wide web did it show up?" Today, Kelly from San Francisco bought 30 of them.

Thank you, Kelly.

In a case like this, I begin to think, "I wonder what she'll use it for? Will she sell them again in a little souvenir shop in the Bay Area? Where will these postcards end up?" I've had people buy more than 100 copies of a postcard of mine at a time, so this isn't something new (not that I'm complaining though)... But every time I sell copies of this one, it takes on a special meaning somehow, as it was the first of my designs to actually sell. Five days after I opened my store, I was still unsure whether or not Zazzle was the real deal...until I got that first magical email. Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased.

I must be doing something right... I've gotten more of these emails in the past month than I ever have! Makes me start to wonder though, will it ever be able to replace my day job...?

Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased.
Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased.
Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased.
Sold! Your Zazzle product(s) have been purchased.
Sold! Your Za............

...maybe someday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hello! (prosaic...I know)

Well, here it is! My first shout-out into the blogosphere, blogiverse or whatever you choose to call it... It's not much, I know, but that will change (I think?). In the meantime, here's a rundown of what I do and don't know:
  1. I know what I want this blog to do for me and my little online store
  2. I have a slight idea of what I want this to be as a blog
  3. I have an idea of what I want the blog to look like 
  4. I have no idea how to do #3...
  5. I know I want this blog to "click"
  6. Again, no idea how to make #5 happen... the end, I know that things will probably work themselves out somehow, and that this will be fun and interesting... so, stay tuned!