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Of Soap Boxes, and Too Much Internet TV April 22, 2013

Posted by Sindy in Business DIY, Journal.
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WIDTW – Crocheting, Tatting, Nephews, and sick

So this week I finaly finished the crocheted dress for my cousin’s little tike, but I haven’t delivered it yet. Speaking of which, I need to get it into my bag to deliver after work today.

After that I did a ton of tatting. At the end of the month I need to have five motifs and three edgings done, but I’ve only done four of the motifs and haven’t even started the edgings. I know I can make it, but it’s going to be tight. Thankfully I have my other homework out of the way (we learned dimpled and dimensional tatting this week) and he’s going on vacation for a week giving us a break, so that will help.

Speaking of dimensional tatting, it comes with a business lesson. Dimensional tatting was originally called something else, but when a guild used the name in a publication (they even gave the original developer credit for the technique!) she sued the socks off of them for using the name! So now no one calls it that, and no one knows who developed the method. It reminds me of a blog post by While She Naps that I read this week about how crafters should be nice, and even help, those who want to recreate your designs on their own. People buy from people who are nice to them. Simple as that.

Okay, off my soapbox. Besides crocheting and tatting, my apartment is getting sadly neglected. I need to make some time to clean this next week.

I did take some time to go play with a couple of my nephews. I don’t think there’s anything more precocious than little boys. They can certainly be a fun handful.

Finally I ended the week by being foolish – I watched 8 straight hours of Internet TV and got super sick from it. Mom says it’s probably because I’m related to my Dad who’s super sensitive to screens. She’s probably right since this doesn’t happen if I just read for 8 straight hours. Yet another reason why the printed book with never go out of style.

That’s it for this week. Have fun!


Your Own Fashion! – The Awesome World of Print On Demand January 16, 2010

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I love custom! I’m my own person, and I want my clothes and fashion to reflect me, not what the stores dictate. I’ve never been one for caring about fashion trends. I wear what I like, and no Hollywood dooby is going to tell me what that is.

So, I was tickled pink when I discovered Print On Demand. Sites like Lulu, CafePress, and Zazzle let you print something unique, or set up a free shop and sell your stuff. Okay, so it’s usually for things like books, but there are some awesome clothes too.

Of course, you can find the classic t-shirts, canvas bags, and even baseball hats and baby onesies, but Zazzle.com has a couple of extra stuff I just had to show you guys:

They have a couple style of shoes that you can get your own design on. One is a slip-on flat, and the other is a nice and simple sneaker, but it’s amazing what some people have done with them.

Funny Face SneakersPeaking Toes ShoesTuxedo ShoesBlue Flame Shoes

Neck ties!
I so wish that neckties could be a ladies fashion too. They’re so awesome and expressive! I’m always on the lookout for some awesome ties, and now I can create my own! (Maybe I could finally show that one guy the tie I’m sure I saw at his shop, but he could never figure out my description.) Too bad they don’t have those funky zipper ties, ties for little kids, or bow ties.

"Taken" Valentines NecktieUsher NecktieBinary NecktieYoda Necktie

By the way, I thought I’d mention that I have a little CafePress shop of my own. *.* There’s only one litte kid’s shirt with one of my comic strips, but if you want, feel free to check it out: http://www.cafepress.com/vacancycomics

Changes to Business DIY November 30, 2009

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Okay, so you may have noticed that the past few weeks the Business DIY segment has gotten a little off topic. Sure it’s still associated with business, but it has little to do with DIY or crafts or stuff like that. I’ll keep posting the Business DIY segment, but it will be much more sparse and only have relevant content for this blog.

That said, I think I’ll start a new weekly segment for my Mondays – What I Did This Weekend! The idea is simply that I keep talking about all these cool things I COULD do, but the question comes up what AM I doing?


Business DIY – If You [Present it Right], They Will Come November 23, 2009

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A few months ago at my local farmer’s market I had a conversation with one of the vendors. It was at the end of the day and I had enjoyed many of the booths available, but somehow I had missed one. In utter dismay the vendor commented that many people had not even noticed her booth, much less bought anything. She pointed out a cute little apron she had made and lamented how even though she had marked it down to a only $1, it still wasn’t selling.

Her problem was obvious – Presentation!

It hardly matters what kind of product you have, how well made it is, or how cheap you’re selling it – if you don’t present it right, people won’t buy!

Think about it. Would you buy a comic book with stick figures? What if it was the most awesome comic book ever, but it was stuffed into the back corner of the store? When you walk into a store, what’s the first thing that catches your eye?

If it’s just sitting on a table like your at some yard sale, you won’t get nearly as many sales than if it were set out nicely with a decorative table cloth on a nice display rack. And you can often get more money per sale too!

So, here are some tutorials to help you display things properly:
A Simple Plate Stand – This would also work as a stand for other flat artwork.
Adjustable Sign Display Tower – Very professional! This would be great for a business conference booth! Or it could be adapted for other uses like hanging some clothes on hangers or hang artwork.
– Earring Displays:

Display Tips on Etsy Forums – Wow! There are a lot of great ideas here including hanging items on branches placed in vases, or randomly place items in decorative baskets or bowls.

Additional Tips:
– Start With a Theme – Consider what kind and style of products you’re selling. Is it a country style? A castle style? Maybe it’s a fun children’s style. Keep that in mind when planning your display.
– Practice Your Displays! – Don’t spend two hours setting up your display when you get to your location. The customers will think you’re not ready (which you really aren’t) and pass you by.
– Cover Your Tables! – You can use table cloths, lace, scraps of cloth, vinyl, sheets of bark, etc. It will depend on what theme/style you’re going for and your transportation (and muscle) limitations.
– Vary the Heights of Displays – Put objects under your table cloths to put some things lower, and other things higher. Also use shallow baskets in some places and taller display racks in other places. Make sure the customer can see everything (don’t put the super tall stuff in front of the short stuff, but try to give it a little bit of randomness).
– Put a ‘Featured Item’ Out Front – If there’s something you want to show off, you want to sell more of, you just put on sale, you want to introduce, etc. put it out front on it’s own special display for everyone to see. It also helps if you have a nice sign to go with it.
– Place the Most Expensive and Most Impressive Items Near the Front – We all know that putting something extremely impressive will grab people’s attention (and then make them gag when they see the price tag), but one of the things about customer phsycology is that if they really like it they’ll continue on down the line to the cheaper stuff and stop when they reach an item they feel they can afford (which is actually more than they might have spent otherwise).
– Don’t Forget the Signs and Tags – Customers want information! If there is one thing they want more than quality and price, it’s information, and not just the shy ones that would rather not buy than to ask you something.

Business DIY – Selling Your Idea(s) November 16, 2009

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One of my business teachers once said “Ideas are a dime a dozen.” And I heartily agree. Every other morning my eyes pop open with another idea – hardly any of which have gone beyond that. But all these ideas could be making me some money – and not just a fraction of a penny for each.

There are lots of incredible ideas out there that would be an utter shame (if not a veritable crime) not to share and put into hands that can implement them. But how??!!! I hear you ask. Simple – you need to SELL the idea.

No one likes to throw money into a black hole. So think about it. When a company buys an idea, they want to KNOW that it’ll work. They want to KNOW that the money they pay for the idea will not just come back to them in profits, but in exponential profits (i.e. they pay x and they get x2 or higher back in profits).

They key to proving to them that your idea will succeed for them is research. I.e. you have to do all the leg work for them. Research what will be required of them to implement your idea, and not just equipment, but also people and the bottom line – money. How much/what do they need to implement the idea? How much can they sell the product/service for? Who would buy it? Will it be a big enough success for them to feel comfortable in spending their time and money?

But wait! There’s more. This method doesn’t just work with companies that are buying your ideas, but also investors who are investing in your own company – banks, lenders, angel investors, stock investors, (parents, neighbors, friends) etc. They want to know that their money is being put to something that will succeed. That’s what a business plan is for.

This also works on you. Does that sound confusing? Let me elaborate. I have several notebooks full of ideas – ideas that are just sitting there collecting dust. I long to start my own business, but one of my most major problems is I have no idea which one should I do? I need to select a couple/few of them and then research them. Which ones are most likely to succeed? What would be required to make them a reality? Do I even want to spend every waking moment on them?

Research! That is the key.

(Okay, you need an awesome presentation too, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Business DIY – Free Fonts November 9, 2009

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One thing that amazes me about ideas and artistry is how creative people can get with 26 little letters in specific shapes and black and white. I.e. I love decorative fonts (at least the readable ones).

Think about it. You just can’t have a Halloween poster or invitation without a Halloween font. It’s practically impossible.

Neither can you have a business logo that portrays exactly the kind of image you want your business to have without the exact right font.

That said, I highly doubt many of you want to pay thousands of dollars for a designer to create a custom font for you logo, much less for a Birthday party invite. So, here’s a list of some of the best web sites I’ve found for free fonts:

  • 1001 Free Fonts – Okay, so I think they have far more than 1001, but I’m certainly not going to count them. They have many of my all time favorite fonts including “A Yummy Apology,” “Anime Ace,” “Grand Stylus,” etc.
  • 45 Exceptionally Useful Free Handwritten Fonts – Some of my favorite fonts are the ones that look like real handwriting, and there are some beautiful ones on this site. One of these days I’ll collect some of the handwriting styles of some of my friends for that very reason.

Or if you can’t find the font you want out of all those, try this great font identifier. You simply submit a picture of the font and it’ll tell you what it is.

Or better yet (for those of you who want to be the ones charging thousands for a custom font) check out the FontCreator program. It can be a little complicated to use, but with all the fun you’ll have, and since the license only costs $79, it can be worth it. (I’ll have to post some of my fonts some time.)

I’m constantly finding great sites with wonderful free fonts, so feel free to check my delicious page on occasion.

Business DIY – Recycled Magazine Business Card Holders November 2, 2009

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Oh my goodness! You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve been longing for one of those fancy leather business card holders that cost an arm and half a leg (the leather briefcase costs the full arm and leg). Now I find that I can make something better and cooler and help the planet at the same time! Plus it would fit my business (VacancyComics.com) far better than any black leather thing.

So, here’s the deal – make a business card holder out of recycled magazines! In fact, I could use some of my comics strips to make these!

Ooo! In fact, if you’ll remember my post on making useful business cards (the customer will keep it far longer than the next garbage can), how about making these to hand out at conferences as an alternative to business cards (this would be great for a design company)?! At these conferences everyone is collecting a billion business cards anyway, so giving them something to hold all of them will help you stand out above the rest.

Business DIY – Conservative Halloween Costumes October 26, 2009

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It’s Friday, the day before Halloween, and you have a work meeting of all things. It’s all very fun and nice to be a witch at the work party, but the CEO and the huge client in the next meeting aren’t going to be impressed. What to do? Spend an hour in the bathroom removing fake spider webs from your hair? That just won’t fly (he he, no pun intended).

Instead, consider a more conservative costume. One that is either in far better taste or very easily removed. Here are some ideas I’ve collected from the office:

  • A Buck-in-ear (Get it? Buccaneer): Simply pin a couple dollar bills to your ears with your earrings.
  • A Million Dollar Hair-ess: Again with the money, get some fake million dollar bills and bobby pin them in your hair.
  • A Bodyguard or Secret Service Agent: This one’s easy. Just wear your regular business suit, but include a blue-tooth headset, or better yet, string a short telephone cord behind your ear. And don’t forget the dark sunglasses.
  • This IS My Costume: If you’d like to buy a costume try this t-shirt (found on Zazzle.com, or you can make one with a blank t-shirt and printable transfer sheets). Just wear it under your business jacket, remove the jacket for the party, and put it back for the meeting.
  • All Your CANDY Are Belong To Us: Terrible grammer, classic programmer humor adapted for Halloween. Again, wear your suit jacket over the top. You’ll also want an explanation ready for all those poor non-geeks.
  • Star Trek Uniform: And the last idea – go as a TV or movie character that either wears office attire or something similar. For a Star Trek uniform, simply wear an all black outfit, cut the shoulders off a solid-color shirt and pin it to your black shirt, and don’t forget the Comm Badge (which you’ll of course make yourself, right?). You can even include the rank pins on the collar (I used some simple gold earrings I had lying around).

Business DIY – Extreme Business Cards! October 17, 2009

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It is the hope of any business owner that once you are handed their business card, you won’t immediately throw it away. Sadly most fail in this attempt, but here’s something that definitely get a customers attention – useful business cards! It’s not just a little piece of paper – it’s a tool! (Make note though – if what it does has nothing to do with your business, then they’ll keep the card, but never call you.)

I did a search on Instructables for business cards and came up with some really awesome ideas:

Some other ideas include:

  • Coupons!!!!! (If the customer will save money by keeping your card, then they will – even if they never use it)
  • Calling cards (Geiko uses this one a lot – you can use it to call them for free)
  • A wifi detector
  • How about a card made out of heat-sensing material kind of like mood rings? (Ooo! I can just see that one for a furnace guy, an insulator, or better yet a guy who does energy audits and fixes holes and stuff to make your home more energy efficient! You can even take the card around your house to check for drafts! Okay, that one might need a different technology.)
  • A card with a make up sample (If you’ve ever had a makeover by a Mary Kay consultant you’ve probably seen those cards with a speck of make up on them – just use that kind of idea for a business card!)

If you have an idea for a cool (and useful) business card, feel free to post a link in a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

For all you artists out there – get an online portfolio October 14, 2009

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I have been to many job interviews where it was a good idea to have a portfolio – I’m sure many of you have too. It’s also often a good idea to have an online portfolio particularly in this digital age. The trouble with an online presence is getting your own website. You have to pay for hosting, get a domain, make a website (or pay someone to make it), etc. Yes, I did all that for my comics website, but I hardly have time for that, much less a portfolio site too. That’s where a site called deviantArt comes in (I’m not the biggest fan of the name, but the site is great).

I had known about the site for some time now, some of my friends had accounts and (more importantly) some of the artists I admired most had accounts – they all said it was great, but I couldn’t just take their word on it. I’ll be one of the first to admit that sometimes I can get a bit paranoid (plus with my Ham Radio experience – I learned how to prepare and get the facts) – I had to read the documentation and get the details.

My conclusion? Yes, deviantArt specifies that if you post your artwork on their site, you automatically give them the right to use your stuff to promote their site (without paying you of course). However, you still retain every right to your artwork. They can’t sell it, they can’t change it, in fact for the most part they can’t even complain about it much less remove it (unless they get so many complaints that it threatens their business of course) – you keep control.

That said, it’s a great site that I really enjoy, not only as a place to showcase my work, but also a place to admire others’ work (and to get some really great ideas). Not to mention that they have other features like a journal, polls (that you can make and send out to your fans), of course contests (both sponsored by deviantArt and individual contests – so you can make your own contest), and one of my favorite things – mature content filter (sadly it only works if the artist labels it as “mature”).

But wait! It’s not just for drawings! You can put photography, writings, photos of other work (sculpture, needlework, wirework, beading, etc.), and soon you’ll be able to post video!

For more info check out this video: http://welcome.deviantart.com/?utm_source=DA&utm_medium=UB&utm_content=Takethetour&utm_campaign=DA_UB_Takethetour_091409

You can also check out my portfolio: http://sindy-chan.deviantart.com/

Or check out some of my favorite artists: