Friday, April 29, 2016

Reviewing Pattern, Etsy's New and Easy Way to Set Up A Stand-Alone Online Shop

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Do you have an Etsy shop, but struggle to create your own stand-alone website to further brand yourself? Or, are you on eBay or another website but want an Etsy shop and a stand-alone website? Whether the limitation is skill, money, or time, there's a new platform that solves all those issues. Etsy's new Pattern service allows you to use the listings on Etsy to quickly and easily create your own stand-alone website. Because I'm so busy lately that I'm working nearly every waking hour (which is a habit I have to stop, more that later) I decided to give Pattern's 30-day free trial a go. Not paid or asked by Etsy to do this, just a busy entrepreneur who's wanted an improved stand-alone website for my organic body care company for months. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider:



Pros

+ Puts your stand-alone website/shop and Etsy shop in one place for easy tracking and management
+ For the most part, very easy and fast to set-up
+ Inexpensive at $15/month, the standard Etsy transaction fee of (3.5%) applies to each purchase
+ Lets you design a trial version of your site before you start
+ 30-day free trial before you decide to buy
+ Allows you to link to social media websites
+ Fast Loading
+ Looks and works just as well on mobile devices
+ You can connect you domain name to the site, completing the illusion of a stand-alone website
+ Easy option if you lack coding skills to build your own website
+ Fast option if you don't have time to work on your own stand-alone site at the moment
+ Very fast and easy to set up
+ You can link your social media to it
+ Has build-in analytics to track sales
+ Has an inbox build-in so you can track mail, analytics and sales in one easy stop

Pattern propagates the shop icon from your Etsy shop. Changing mine to a more branded version really helped the design. Another little nit-pick, it re-sizes your icon and makes it look rougher than the original.

Cons

- Only 5 themes and they look dated, looks like a basic builder made if you're code savy
- Designs not as beautifully made as ones on website builders like SquareSpace, very plain
- Doesn't allow you to brand yourself very well, only a small icon allowed- logo in text!
- Limited fonts to chose from
- No inner-linking, links will take you back to the Etsy listing
- No PayPal allowed at checkout, credit cards only
- Potential duplicate content issues, minor concern since Google's algorhythm considers e-commerce
- Checkout requires an Etsy sign-up, which hurts the "illusion" of a stand-alone website
- "Powered by Etsy" at the bottom can't be removed
- No attached blogging ability to add more content or handy "updates" for your brand
- Huge branding limitations: can't add banner, limited in front choices
- You have to generate your own traffic to Pattern, unlike your Etsy shop
- You can't access the code to change the design or improve the SEO
- Their walk-through for setting up a domain name had some incorrect terminology for GoDaddy, made me unsure if I set up the domain right so I had to call. Defeats the purpose of having an "easy" walk-through. But I'm glad they had one for all the top domain providers, helpful, though flawed.

So how do you know Pattern's right for you? Here are some suggestions...

1. You really want a stand-alone website for your Etsy shop
2. You need a low budget solution to having your own e-commerce website
3. You need something very easy and user-friendly to set-up because you lack site-building skills
4. An e-commerce site at $15/month is affordable for you
5. You can make sites but you're too busy and need a quick e-commerce site solution for now
6. You love the idea of having your e-commerce website connected to Etsy so it's a one-stop shop
7. You don't have an e-commerce site yet and could benefit from having the traffic to the Etsy shop (You will have both a regular Etsy shop and Pattern shop when you sign up for Pattern, it's where the data is pulled from to create it.)

Word of Caution: Don't buy your domain name through Pattern or it will be hard to transfer it if you move on, it's better to keep your domain name and your website builder separate.

All of that said, Pattern is new technology. I'm confident Etsy will improve it by leaps and bounds over the years. It has faults, but it's a good beginner solution for the busy entrepreneur. Because Etsy won't generate traffic for your stand-alone Pattern website like it will for your Etsy shop, it's a good solution for anyone that has a dedicated following from social media OR, if you're like me, it's good for people who sell products locally or at markets and you need a landing page for customers that isn't just an Etsy site, which can look less professional. You're not locked into a contract so you can cancel if it's not working for you or when you're ready to move up to a better solution that you can optimize with SEO.

Update: I've called GoDaddy twice, still having domain name set-up questions. Looks like you can only do a re-direct which looks unproffessional. Another con, but I'm going to keep looking into it. Will follow-up.

Have you tried Pattern by Etsy? Any tips? What do you think of this new feature? I recommend it despite it's faults.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Riverside's Historic Home Tours: Art-Filled, Creative, Cozy & Modern Casa Inspiration

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I love it when the historic home tours roll back around here in Jacksonville. Select residents open their homes for the public to view and you leisurely bike your way from house-to-house via the map you receive. It's a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon, particularly for a vintage and decor nerd. This is a combination of several different homes in one post, but I'm tempted to do a tour of each house because each one was amazing in its own way!

Home 1

It was my first time being in interior-designer curated personal homes with up-to-the-minute styles and amenities. It's another thing to be immersed in that type of space versus seeing them in magazines.

Home 1

But the personal flourishes and collections are my favorite part.

Home 2

Nearly every square inch of this Attorney-by-Day Artist-by-Night's home was covered in personal collections, vintage finds, and local artwork. It was amazing to behold and one of the most packed homes, visitors felt like they were inside an art gallery and the exterior looked like something out of a fairy tale. He did an amazing job renovating the spacious house.

Home 3

There were many dream kitchens and incredible showers - often spacious, some with my coveted double shower head scenario. Everything balanced and clean.

Home 4 

Seeing it all inspired me to work harder and get more involved in the local art and creative community again. I'll be heading out for the next tour of homes in the Historic Springfield area on May 21st, can't wait to break out of my camera and explore again!
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tribute to a Favorite Artist. Not a Woman, Not a Man, Something That You'll Never Understand. Prince.

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When my mom called to tell me the bad news of Prince's passing I thought she'd fallen victim to an internet hoax. Prince? I could believe the death of the other artist who ties as my favorite, Michael Jackson, because his addiction was a public secret, but Prince? I thought his perfect unlined face and healthy frame would outlive me right into his 190s. The world's lost one of it's premiere icons, a shining example of the importance of being true to yourself and to your art.

My prized Prince record collection hung up in the bedroom, where Prince records belong.

I was born two years after the release of Prince's epochal super-hit, Purple Rain, yet via cultural osmosis and my super-fan parent's influence, I can't remember a time I wasn't playing the hell out of his records and cassettes. I watched his music videos over and over. I got to grow with the music and understand it more and more over the years; relating to the pain of Computer Blue or The Beautiful Ones as a heartbroken teen or getting into a chill artist's work-groove while making things to smooth songs like Joy in Repetition as a self-employed young adult. His music wasn't "safe" for kids, but I loved every controversial inch of it in my single-digits. His showmanship transcended the need for understanding. You could enjoy him for the electricity and emotion he bought to his performance and vocals.

I pondered the reaction to Prince's passing, not being able to help but compare it to my equal favorite, Michael. There are no Prince imitators dancing in the streets outside of Apollo theatre like there was for Michael, but it's not because he had less impact as an artist. It's because of the type of artist that he was. Michael wasn't just an icon, he was a brand. As evidenced in this adorable commercial, every kid could (and most DID) DIY themselves into THE image of Cool of the era with a white glove, cool thrift store jacket and constant work perfecting his sophisticated "Moonwalk" and footwork.

But no one imitates Prince.


Because no one CAN imitate Prince. (As anyone who's ever humiliated themselves trying to hit the high notes in When Doves Cry or Little Red Corvette in a karaoke bar can attest.)

Prince's biggest contribution to the world was his singularity. He was extraordinarily talented, playing 27 instruments, often doing all the instrumentation on his music, and possessing a famously wide vocal range of E2-B6 (just below Mariah Carey's F2-G7). He was able to hit the highest note out of all the famous male musicians and most of the women, only beat by Christina Aguilera (#2) and Mariah (#1) and he was prolific, producing 39 studio albums and 139 music videos. Bigger than his instrument proficiency number and impressive vocal range was his carriage. Standing 5'2" with a 10 foot stage presence, sly Mona Lisa smile on full lips with a quiet confidence. With his outrageous outfits and raw, emotional performance style, NO ONE can do Prince like Prince. He straddled lines, defied genres and labels; feminine & masculine, rock 'n roll & soul, shy & extroverted, controlled & wild. No artist expressed like Prince. Can you imagine 2016's reaction to then 22-year-old Prince belting out his Dirty Mind album lyrics on stage wearing just his high heeled boots, a black speedo, trench coat and bandana the way he did to a packed stadium of screaming fans in 1980? His passing is a reminder of how bland, colorless, unchallenging, and heteronormative the music world is left in his absence.

Video of Prince's first TV appearance above, click through to view if you're reading via e-mail. He was 20-years-old, wearing a tiger striped speedo and vest with thigh-high high heeled boots. Who's Man to showcase himself to the whole world in his television premiere like a half-naked sex kitty? Prince, that's who.

"I'm not a woman, I'm not a man, I'm something that you'll never understand. I'll never beat you, I'll never lie, and if you're evil I'll forgive you by and by." - I Would Die for You, Prince

"  She said, "Are you gay?"
Kinda took me by surprise
I didn't know what to do
I just looked her in her eyes
And I said, "No, are you?"
She's just a crazy, crazy crazy
Little mixed up dame.
She's just a victim of society
And all it's games.
Now where I come from
We don't let society
Tell us how it's supposed to be
Our clothes, our hair
We don't care
It's all about being there"

- Uptown, Prince

His visual style fused romanticism, Edwardian dandiness, early 80s punk, raw sexuality and the trippy 60s but he was undeniably heterosexual even in his frilliest blouses. That's the power of Prince. Mystical, androgynous, aloof, a true artist. Always evolving.

I thank Prince for creating a world where individuality could be celebrated. I thank him for influencing me from childhood to adulthood, for imparting lessons on artistic expression and singularity by boldly being himself. In a world of conformity to perceived gender ideals, Prince took the "negatives" of being Androgynous, Sensitive, Awkward and Weird and made them Beautiful. Us weirdos of the world are forever grateful.
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