Tuesday, November 11, 2008

News and new designs

With help from my new roomies, I have about 7 new design ideas basically done and ready to upload and add to products. I've already put up two so far, one for each store. I've begun to see an increase in sales for this holiday. I was averaging about one sale a month until a couple of weeks ago. From there it was one or two a week. I am now seeing at least one a day, occasionally two. It is exciting when people choose my design over so many others. After work, I will add two more designs, possibly three. I am having a harder time coming up with original ideas for the DHQ store than for Luna's Gathering. Though right now I think the best thing for DHQ is to find ways to promote the designs I have now and worry about new designs later. Finding a way to market my designs above others is the only way I will be able to get my stores to succeed. I know the designs are solid. They just have to be seen. When there are over three thousand designs for the chosen tags and categories, there has to be another way to stand out. The designs on the first page of a search are the ones that sell. But how do you sell if you can't reach that first page? Finding the right keywords is only a small part of that conundrum. Ok, now to the news. :)

Luna's Gathering is now officially a business, registered with the state, tax ID and all. I also found a couple of wholesalers who dropship. They are suppliers of Pagan wares. I can add the items I choose to my site, take retail orders from customers, and they will ship the items directly to my customers. Pretty cool for starters. I eventually would love to have an actual storefront with space to just buy wholesale and sell in-store and online. I've also started compiling a list of good wholesalers. I think this is the only way I'll ever get a storefront. I'll have to save capital myself with an online business to start the bricks and mortar store. And I'll have to keep my "day job" so we don't starve. Things are starting to come together slowly but surely. Baby steps to success! And to the left, my newest design, appearing in my store tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008

Today was day one of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writers Month. It is a challenge to writers to get 50k words of a story written in thirty days. No editing, no serious planning. Just lots of writing of words to get the jist of the story down. As usual, I'll be getting a late start. With so many other things going on, not much thought has gone into the new Supernatural story I'll write this year. Today I at least chose which of my story ideas to use. Now I have to decide when in the series it will take place and where. Once I have those two basic pieces of info I can start busting out the story. The spirit in this one feeds on hidden fears and insecurities. This is the main reason I have to narrow down a time frame. Each of the seasons had a whole new set of fears for both of the Boys to deal with. Though Dean's insecurities are still basically the same. I also need to choose a setting not so close to home. I don't want to end up setting all of my stories in Texas. Now to go find a good haunted college. :) The sooner I can start writing, the easier it will be to catch up from the word count deficit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Following Through

As I said in my last post, I needed to update both of my websites. I can finally say, "I did it!" I still haven't done the major overhaul I want to Luna's Gathering, but the content is fairly fresh and the dead links are gone. The major reworking will come soon. And even better, I got the new issue of Demon Hunters Quarterly up. It lacks only a completed main story (which should be done in the next couple of days), but other than that it's complete. For the first time since I started the site I don't have empty spaces with the "coming soon" promise. I added a featured author to the fan fiction section and a few smaller things. Now that my sites aren't stagnant I can start producing a few new designs. I need at least 4 more to get ready for the Christmas rush (if there is one with this economy). I'll post the new designs here as I add them to my stores.

Oh, and the move was successful. Now to the unpacking. :D

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Super excited!!

I know it's been quiet here. With all the packing and the moving (which finally started in earnest on Tues) I haven't posted anything. Here's some good news on the creative front. I finally decided to break down and open another Cafe Press store. It is called DHQ Apparel, to go with my Demon Hunters Quarterly website. I moved all my "Supernatural inspired" designs there and added a couple of new designs. One is a logo design for the website. The other is from a line in the Season 4 premiere. Which was freaking amazing, btw! Yesterday I sold a WWDD mini button, and just 20 minutes ago I sold one of the new designs, not the logo but the one called Chew Toy. I couldn't believe I sold that so quickly. It's barely been up a couple of days. This good news tells me I need to take the time to fix both websites so I can get more customers to my stores. I have to promote myself. No one else will do it for me. Just need a little sleep first. ;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Must watch video

Regardless of who you are planning to vote for in the upcoming election, there are some facts that EVERY American should be made aware of. We live in a country that claims to be a democracy. It even gives a decent illusion of being such. But this video, called Hacking Democracy shows how quickly and easily an election can be purchased. Just as it probably was the last two elections. When the CEO of the company that supplies the computers to tally the votes freely admits to vote tampering, we have to wonder if an election will even matter. The election will go to the highest bidder, which most likely means the Republicans. It begs the question, "If the last two elections had not been helped along by a greedy corporation, would we have had to suffer through these two debilitating terms under Bush? What would the economy look like? Would we already have the beginnings of a greener way of life?" Why the hell bother to vote if they can tweak a computer in seconds to fix the results?

I hadn't intended to put this on my business/creative blog, but I wanted to reach as many people as possible with the link to the video. Not that I have huge readership here, but what the hell? One more person reached is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My second fan fic

I've been working on a story since November. One much longer than my first one-shot. I've put off posting any of it until I had an ending. Which, I realized, is what I've done. Put it off and put it off. It was the perfect excuse not to just post it and hope for the best. I know now that the only way to learn from my writing mistakes is to put them out there and let others tell me what those mistakes are. I have 7 chapters posted so far. The story should end up with maybe 2 more chapters, 3 if my muse starts adding more like it has since last November. I also figured out that I work better under a deadline. With bunches of readers bugging for an ending, maybe I can finally put this one to bed and work on the next story, a sequel of sorts to my first story. I have almost the whole first chapter done on that one. Here is a link to my fanfiction.net profile, lunasgathering39, which includes links to both of my stories. I also plan to finally finish an InuYasha story I started well over a year ago. It merely lacks a better ending. It seems the end of the story is my weak spot.

Went for funny this time

Another co-worker request, this was also another very easy one to create. I simply traced a spork image in Illustrator, put some text to it, and gave it all a bevel. It worked out very nicely on the spork itself. I created the black for the light shirts and vice versa. I am left with only one other design ready to go. Which means getting my rear in gear and making more before the Christmas "rush" begins. I don't expect sales to be like they were last year with the economy in the toilet as it is. Not that my sales were spectacular compared to other shops. But I would like to have as much available as possible, just in case. In fact sales have already dropped to almost nothing. I went several months without a single sale. Had a few sales this month. Just a couple of buttons and bumper stickers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New design at last

Another co-worker request, this one is from the most recent Doctor Who and its spin-off, Torchwood. The request was for the Union Jack with the specific text. The only parts of the design that are completely mine are the text placement, the font choice and the fun gradient on the text. I can never help giving the text a bit of bevel or embossing. It just gives the words that extra little oomph. :D I should be posting another new design next week and big changes to the website. Luna's Gathering has sat unchanged for so long. It is time it started paying for itself. And then some!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Time got away from me again

It never ceases to amaze me how I make plans, try to create a routine, and time throws all my plans out a window. I had big plans to post a new design every week on my store to keep it fresh, make it easier to find in searches. I still have about three designs completed and ready to go. It's a simple matter of squeezing enough minutes into my day to do that and everything else. Unfortunately, that won't be today. Not until I clear my plate of a few more things. And get rid of a stubborn cold (or allergies or whatever it is). After I get the new design up, which takes more time than some might realize (You know what I'm talking about, right Ghost?), I will get my website updated. That needs to be a bigger priority than even new designs. If I can get people to my site, then they find my CafePress store and ALL of my designs. Keeping the store fresh helps someone find one of my designs. I want them all to be seen. :) I'm kind of greedy that way.

In the meantime, I've been reading a book suggested by a friend "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was". I've only gotten through the first chapter so far. But it is a great start because it helps me to pinpoint when I stopped thinking about what I want and tried to do what others wanted me to do. The first chapter is called "What are you supposed to be doing?" As in, what does your family and friends think is right for you. In reading it, I realized I am basically doing what was expected of me. Nothing.

Growing up, I was expected to go to school, get decent grades, and that was about it. Plans for the future were never discussed. Not that talking ever really happened at my house.Hell, I never even got "the talk". Now, when I talk to family, it isn't about what I could be doing, but what I'm doing wrong.

"You're too smart to still be in retail." Ok, so what should I do instead? They say to get a job in the field I went to college for, but guess what? There are no entry-level jobs in my field unless I live in India. And I don't even know that graphic design will be anything more than a hobby or side business. I'm certainly not passionate about it. Unless I'm designing my Supernatural website. :D

I'm too fat, too plain-looking, and too single. But I never learned to do anything but exist. So yeah, that's what I do. One thing I did get from my family is the ability to have big ideas that I never do anything about. We are big on dreaming with no follow through. It is something I am working on (along with a bucket load of self-doubt; hmm, wonder where that came from?), but it will take time. And finding the thing that makes me happy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New design number two

This one was more complicated. I got to use both Illustrator and Photoshop to complete it. The picture was obviously created with Illustrator, using the pen tool and the gradient mesh tool. I love the gradient mesh tool. It's also how I got the cool look to the butterflies on "Transformation". I haven't perfected the use of it, but it is a blast to play with. I use Photoshop for all of my text. The beveling and embossing are much easier to use in PS than in Illustrator. The font in this design begged for embossing. :) It kind of gives it that extra funkiness that is opposite of the manic look on the boxing sun. Thanks go out to my friend at work for coming up with the idea. I merely had to execute it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New design!!

It took an unscheduled loss of internet to get my rear in gear, but I finally have a new design in my store. Actually, I've got four completed designs. I will put up one new design a week to help keep the store fresh for the search engines. Apparently that is a huge key to getting designs seen, a fresh front page updated regularly. They were all special requests from co-workers that were simple and quick to create. Most of what I've done and will post over the next few weeks took very little graphic design talent. Just the ability to make text look more interesting than black, blocky letters. But this first design is one I'd love to wear to my day job. Every retail employee should be allowed to wear it and wear it proudly. :D

The dark green one is for the light shirts and the the lighter one has a nifty white outline so it will pop on the black shirts. I opted for a fun font and color that were neither masculine or feminine. This design is for everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The site

Finally the site is coming along great. I have content on almost all of the pages, though some of it needs to be changed. I put up my shirt designs without script to keep it from being copied. That will have to be changed very soon. I got most of the designs for Celestial Spiral's store up and linked directly to her store. We have to get this site to generate traffic to our Cafe Press stores as none of our designs come up in the first few pages of the search of the Marketplace. If you don't show up in the first few pages, you normally don't get seen. The Marketplace search is a lot like searching Google. If you don't find what you want on the first few pages, you give up and try a different search term.

All the site needs now is some graphics that will be free for all to use. After the content is added, I can start to get the meta tags and descriptions fixed to help with SEO. Then I can start to submit to other Pagan sites for link exchanges. From what I can tell, links back to my site from reputable sites can make a difference in Google search rankings. With the site well in hand, I can start refreshing my Photoshop and Illustrator skills in order to create more cool designs. It is busy circle of things always needing to be done.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unexpected progress and a new name

As I mentioned on my main blog, I've made some strides creatively over the last few days. I got a new design up in my Cafe Press store and improved my word count on the Supernatural fan fiction story.

Tonight I made a huge leap towards one of my major goals. I've talked about, promised myself, and basically whined about needing an off store site to promote the designs that aren't being found right now, my Pagan designs. I'm thrilled that I'm making any sales, but the whole point of the store was Pagan graphics. I've owned my domain for at least two years. I paid for six months of web hosting before putting it to use. Well, happy dance all! I found a free template that was easy to tweak and to my liking. I now have 4 pages on my site with actual content. I will add more over the next few weeks. Then I can start getting the SEO stuff figured out. Check out my site at www.lunasgathering.com and let me know what you think. Time to be the guinea pig so my cohort in t-shirt design can know if it's worth it, if an off store site will generate any traffic

I am changing the name of this blog as it will now be the official blog of the website. I really want to work on brand name recognition and having the name in as many places as possible will help.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All quiet on the creative front

I only have one bit of news here. I finally have another computer. A brand spanking new beautiful laptop that will help me with many creative things. And shouldn't die on me anytime soon. She's an HP Pavilion dv6000 model with loads of memory and an awesome video card. And thanks to a suggestion by a dear friend, I've decided to give her a name. Maybe that way, she'll stick with me for many years to come. Don't laugh. I know the name is a bit cheesy, but it's part me and part my obsession that has inspired me to try new creative things. I christen the new baby computer Artemis Winchester. Told you it was cheesy, but it makes me smile. :D It does fit though. The goddess of the hunt should naturally be a Winchester and I identified very much with her long before I met the Brothers Winchester. And this baby will churn out many a fun Supernatural fan fiction story, if I have my way. I also have a general idea for series of Pagan designs. It's only a matter of specific details and implementation. I hope they work out the way my mind sees them and the newly loaded graphics software doesn't fight me. Photoshop and Illustrator have both been known to do that on occasion. Probably just user error. :D

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not much new

I haven't been able to meet my planned goals for the end of 2007, though this time not due to my own procrastination. Thanks to a dead computer (yet again) I haven't gotten any new designs or the website for my store created. Thankfully, none of my designs were permanently lost. The layered files were all saved to a CD the last time my computer started acting up. The crash also took the only digital copy I had of my fan fiction stories. Luckily, the one-shot was uploaded to fanfiction.net. My multi-chapter story started during NaNoWriMo wasn't, but I do have a hard copy. I'd printed them out so I could make additions and changes on my lunch breaks. I'll have to re-type almost 15k words. At least I don't have to rely on my memory. And I can add the new stuff as I go along.

I hope to have lots of creative news to report as soon as I have a proper working computer again. That should be no later than the end of February.