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2100 YouTube Subscribers!!

2100 Subscriber thanks

WOW!!! Thank you all sparkly bunches! I just reached 2,100 subscribers today over at my YouTube channel!! I’m working on more content for you all and hope to begin posting monthly on Sparkly Sundays! Would you like to see videos posted on the 1st or last Sunday each month?

Thanks so much for sticking with me as I’ve been remodeling my website and ramping up my jewelry business! If I get close to 2,500 subscribers, I will have another giveaway, so please be sure to share my channel, comment and “thumb’s up” if you like any of my videos over there. The more exposure and viewer feedback I get, the better my content can become.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!! Thanks to everyone who is already a subscriber and to all my new sparkly fans!

Etsy Shop Review: Embossing Card & Embellishments Haul

Review Embossing Thank You

I have had great customer service before, especially from fellow Etsians, however, this shop owner blew me away!!

Divine Designs by Bonni has a wonderful scrapbooker’s paradise of an Etsy shop! I found her while searching for a Tie & Bowtie Darice embossing folder for an upcoming Father’s Day jewelry and card making workshop that I’ll be teaching soon. I also wanted to try out some Martha Stewart glitter markers, as her shop had a great price on them compared to Amazon, etc.

Not only did she include a beautiful handwritten thank you card in addition to gifting me 2 free embossing folders in lieu of a store coupon, but she also was abundantly generous with a slew of embellishments! My package was overflowing with sparkly goodness!

Please watch this short video thank you card where I show you all my goodies as well as a brief demo of the “blurb” issue from the markers. Thanks again, Bonni! I can’t wait to get into those items and get crafting!

Reading and Relaxing with my Kindle Fire

stories sparkles smiles kindle

I have experienced a hiatus this past year from full time employment. After our move to Texas, we have been dealing with home remodeling disasters and my hubby had a few surprise surgeries. There have also been many small business startup projects involved in transitioning my handmade jewelry from a hobby to a business.

Sometimes these obstacles have become so overwhelming, that I had to force myself to take a breather and revisit a relaxation technique from my youth. Reading!

Peace Love Books Frame

Instead of hitting the library or begging friends for a book exchange “like in the olden days”, I went all modern and decided to investigate more of what my Kindle Fire could offer. (I still love hard copy books! I have 2 enormous bookcases full, even after recently donating several).

About 2 years ago, shortly before relocating, a college professor required a text in a business course which was no longer in print and only available via Amazon Kindle. I checked out Amazon’s $99 deal. I ultimately decided on the pricier Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ 64 MB so that I could access WiFi and use it as a tablet. We are tech slow at my house and have never had a tablet before. No, not even an iPad!

Choosing between the iPad and Kindle was difficult. Almost everyone that I knew at that time all had the iPad. Only one friend had a Kindle. In researching the internet, and polling friends and colleagues about their devices, I opted for Kindle mainly because it was more economical and at that time, had a larger screen (8.9″ HDX touchscreen display, with 2560 x 1600 resolution at 339 ppi, 100% sRGB color accuracy, video playback up to 1080p, max brightness over 400 nits, Dynamic Image Contrast, reduced glare and advanced polarizing filter). I also didn’t want to have to install an Amazon Kindle app for an iPad to read my college textbook (the main reason for this purchase). This was at a time where I was clueless about the great menagerie of apps and my perception that process would be complicated.

This seems like such a lifetime ago, because both my husband and I now use the Kindle Fire for so much!

  • We like to play the free versions of the admittedly addictive Tetris, Candy Crush and Soda Saga games, as well as my personal favorite game…Disney’s Frozen Free Fall.
  • I have rediscovered my passion for reading, thanks to several great series referrals from a sparkle-tastic repeat jewelry shopper and bestie. Shout out to, Lindsey!
  • As a result of reading and leaving Amazon feedback, I have been sent a few book review requests from new authors or their marketing firms. That opened up a whole new genre to me that I never realized I might enjoy as a 42 year old hag, uh, I mean woman. Can you believe….young adult fiction? Me neither, but give it a try!
  • We figured out how to “fling” movies from my Kindle onto the TV via our existing Amazon Fire TV box . It syncs beautifully. (I did feel as crazy as Gary Busey initially figuring this feature out- lol).
  • Sometimes when I want to remember story time as a child, I like to be lazy and switch over to the text-to-speech feature which lets my Kindle read my book to me.  (You don’t have to buy the expensive Audible versions of books. The Kindle voice isn’t as animated as a paid narrator, but it gets the job done).
  • The camera is front and rear facing with tremendous clarity, so snapping photos or videos is easy and a handy alternative to my iPhone camera.
  • When it is time to do a little work, I can even do marketing research and YouTube video training for my handmade jewelry business.

So, not only do I now thank the college professor for suggesting an out-of-print textbook (which I wasn’t so happy with at that time), but I also thank Amazon for creating this miracle device at an agreeable price (about $600 less than iPad in 2014). My Kindle has most of the same functionality as the ridiculously expensive and possibly overrated iPad. Eventually I will probably write a more informed comparison of the Kindle Fire HD  vs. iPad; as I may still purchase an iPad later to use as a register for selling my jewelry at craft fairs in addition to my iPhone.

If you’re interested to know what books I have read on my Kindle, please leave a comment and I will post a blog list for you.

Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

Disclosure: Some of the links contained in this blog post are my Amazon Associates affiliate links. I may receive a small affiliate compensation should you click through and purchase at Amazon’s website. Thank you in advance for helping to support small businesses that utilize various affiliate revenue sources such as this Amazon Associates program.

A Sparkletale…The Sparkly Beader

So…as usual…I’m late to the technical guru partay, but I have now officially tried my hand at iMovie via my lovely Rose Gold Apple iPhone 6S Plus. I must say that I think this little sparkly fairytale a.k.a. sparkletale turned out to be pretty cute.

Sparkly Beader Circle of Beads- 2I included a mix of current projects and past designs with a little help from some friends and maybe a cat or two. So, grab a frosty beverage and prepare to be sparkle-fied, my speeps (that’s sparkly peeps)! lol

Special thanks to my friends and family for allowing me to showcase some jewelry designs I made using their photos, as well as my previous models Joan, Amanda, Linda and Troop Tritapoe.

If you’ve previously received items from me as a gift or purchased them directly and would like to be included in future showcases, please hashtag #sparklebymonica at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on a photo of you wearing the piece(s). Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

Help Me Choose and Score Some Sparkle!

UPDATE: Sadly, I didn’t have much participation in this contest. The few entries received did not use both hashtags for the contest. So….maybe next time? Sniffles. Gotta get more sparkly peeps engaged in my giveaways. I’ll try another one soon. Thanks to the two gals who tried. I appreciated your response in the survey, too! 

survey collage 2

I’ve been working my sparkly fingers to the bone updating my old website to get ready for a grand opening, complete with eCommerce directly on my new site. In the course of sparks flying off my keyboard and beading mat, I’ve decided to offer a giveaway in return for some much needed feedback for what to name my new collections.

Please take about 3-5 minutes to answer these two questions which will help me choose the names of my handmade jewelry collections. This will also offer valuable insight into trends and potential avenues for me to expand my brand.

Simply take the survey between now and noon Mountain time on Tuesday February 9, 2016; like/ follow me and then share the survey link via Facebook or Twitter with the hashtags #scoresparkle and #SparkleByMonica. (If you are already a fan or follower of my social media above, you are halfway there and can just use the hashtags mentioned). This will allow me to see who has entered so I may contact the winner.

I will be giving away a sparkle-riffic Valentine themed piece of handmade jewelry (either a bracelet, earrings or necklace) to a randomly selected survey respondent.

Valentine Jewelry Collage- cropped

The winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon February 10, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. Have a sparkle-riffic day and good luck!

Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say When Pricing Handmade Items| Re-blogged & Expanded

SewtoSell3

I loved this article about handmade pricing issues. I make handmade jewelry and know that I have under priced many items. I began making jewelry for some party favors that quickly turned into a new hobby, which has now developed into a full time job and beading obsession!

Because I have mainly sold on Etsy until recently, my low pricing was a necessity because there is too much competition and dilution regarding jewelry items. For instance when I began, there were a gazillion Twilight charm bracelets. Today’s search only yields 223, of which only 1 of my designs shows on page 5 of 6. This is because I removed “Twilight” from my tags and titles to avoid trademark violations with that term (a topic for another blog post). Therefore a person searching for “Twilight charm bracelet” won’t see me in the search results because mine are tagged “vampire charm bracelets” or some other derivative.

Now that I’m transitioning from a hobby to a full time business and putting eCommerce directly onto my website, I am adjusting the pricing at my site. My new price formula will more accurately reflect a desirable hourly pay rate when factoring in my time. I will keep the same pricing of previously listed items at Etsy, but it will be the fresh pricing model for brand new items and collections directly on my site.

I think those of us that make handmade items get suckered into the feeling of offering “friends and family” pricing. We keep a hobbyist mentality, instead of using our business sense the same way that we do regarding regular hourly employment. This is either because of our own uncertainty due to inexperience and confidence or because customers complain about our items being too expensive. (This much chagrined statement comes to mind: “I can get this for $5 at Wal-Mart” – admit it…you’ve heard this one before). 

If you work for a business for more than a year, you generally expect some sort of raise in salary. In the handmade realm, however, you are responsible for pricing to include increases for cost of living, supplies, shipping, packaging, breakage, liability, overhead (if you sell at craft fairs or have a store front), etc. Too often we try to be the nice guy or maybe we’re just assuming a value (you know what they say about that)…and we undercut ourselves to the point of not making a genuine income. 

Research your industry, be vigilant about your SEO keywords, join handmade groups and communities to see what your peers are doing, read trade magazines and invest in training to increase your skills. By making yourself more skillful and knowledgeable, you can build your confidence to more accurately price your products, which in turn validates your authority to create a respectable income for yourself.

Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

Source: Ten things you shouldn’t say when pricing handmade items | Life’s Big Canvas

How to Make a Puffy Gift Bow for Any Occasion

I made a previous video tutorial on this topic, however, since the video angle was done at a time when I was still figuring out how to make YouTube videos…I thought I’d update with this colorful closeup version.

Most of my ribbon came from Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and Michaels, but I have tons in my stash. lol.

Previous bow tutorial:

I made several decorations in a pink and blue theme to match my handmade jewelry business theme this year. One of my ornaments was a blue gift box with a puffy snowflake bow in coordinating colors. It looks beautiful tucked into my Pretty in Pink Christmas tree from Treetopia. Although this is a strange color scheme for Christmas, it makes sense for my brand. Also, I can use the pink tree for other events if I desire, such as Valentine’s, Easter and baby showers.

Go check out my bow tutorial and please give me a thumb’s up at my YouTube channel if you like it, as that helps my revenue through Google Adsense. Many thanks and have a sparkly Christmas, y’all!

Meowy Christmas Cat collage