Weekly Blog and Video Digest 7/22/19: Etsy Struggles – There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (Or Free Shipping)

Hey guys! It’s Monday again and that means that I, Taylor, am duty bound to update you on all the projects I’m working on, things I’m loving (or struggling with), and…that Etsy exposé I promised you. I know a lot of you are here for just that, so in the interest of not frustrating too many people, I’m going to just start with that exposé.

I’m not sharing this to “get back at” Etsy, nor am I doing it for the views. I’m sharing this information because I truly feel that when an online marketplace like Etsy changes something as drastically as they are doing now, and especially when that affects how honest I can be with my customers…well, that’s the time for shop owners to speak up and let you know what’s going on in the seller world.

For a long time, Etsy has allowed shop owners to choose whether to charge for shipping or offer free shipping. It’s always been true that humans like a free lunch, so people are more drawn to listings that ship for free – but Etsy has been pretty fair about treating sellers and listings equally and letting you, the shoppers, decide whether non-free shipping is a dealbreaker for you.

However, at this point, Etsy has decided that they’re going to REALLY pressure ALL of us to offer free shipping. They’ve been putting up notices all over saying how great this is going to be and how we should all offer free shipping. To incentivize it, they’ve been saying “Coming soon, listings and shops that offer free shipping will rank higher in search results!”

But what does this mean in the inverse? It really just means that if you DON’T offer free shipping, you’re going to take a hit – possibly a serious one – in the algorithm game. Search engine algorithms change all the time, but this could be a really big change, and a difficult one for some shops. It could also make it really difficult for people to find what they’re looking for – if the algorithm is skewed enough, instead of finding the item you actually want, you’ll be led to a bunch of semi-related items that SHIP FREE!!!! but aren’t what you were looking for.

Now, here’s the thing about free shipping: It’s like a free lunch – rarely actually free, and when it is free, it’s usually low quality or has strings attached. Free shipping is just the same.

See, being a seller – on Etsy or anywhere else – does not qualify you for some magical Free Shipping Account at the post office. Nobody pays for our shipping for us. WE are the ones who swipe a card or hand over cash for postage. Yes, large companies like Amazon have enough overhead that they can invest it back into their shipping costs, and offer Prime members free shipping.

But for most small sellers (and that means most sellers on Etsy), the only way to offer “Free Shipping” is to charge for it elsewhere. This usually means lumping the shipping cost back into the item list price. Etsy even has a “tool” on their website where it will AUTOMATICALLY do this for you, going through your whole shop and incorporating shipping costs into list prices, and then slapping a “FREE SHIPPING” sticker on everything.

Great, right?

Not so much.

Personally, when I shop, I like to know how much I’m spending on shipping. I don’t want everything to just say “Free Shipping” but have a weirdly high price. I also want to understand clearly how much of a discount on shipping I may get if I buy more than one item. I just value that kind of transparency.

But Etsy is pretty much disallowing any kind of transparency about shipping costs at this point. Not cool, Etsy.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I feel like I’m being forced to essentially lie to you about shipping. If they can make me say “free shipping,” they can make me say other things. And I don’t play those games. I like to be as open and honest as possible with my customers, and whether you’re someone who’s been following me since day 1 or whether you stumbled across a single item of mine on Etsy, I value your trust above all.

So please know this: I will always be as honest as I can be with you on Etsy, and if you ever have questions, I will be MORE than happy to answer them! Just contact me on Etsy, or here using the contact form on this site. Heck, DM me on Instagram if you want. Questions are always welcome.

But for the foreseeable future, I may have to be less than clear about my “free shipping” on Etsy. I did go ahead and change the shipping profiles to “Free,” but I plan to draft up a little disclaimer to go on each listing to explain the shipping situation.

And Etsy, if you’re reading this: Kick me off your platform if you want, but know that sellers like me will always show up to share the truth with our shoppers. You may silence me, but you will never silence those like me. Ideas are bulletproof and all that.

WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID: I’m going to stop ranting about Etsy now and move on to the video digest, a summary of all the videos I posted on my YouTube channel this week!

July 15, 2019: Mid-July Check-In Card Reading 

In this video I do a card reading with Tarot, oracle, and angel cards to get an idea of what kind of energies we can expect to face for the second half of July, 2019.

July 17, 2019: Millennial Mystic Tarot – FULL Flip & Compare with RWS

This video is a full, high-resolution flip through of the Millennial Mystic Tarot, my self-published, self-illustrated Tarot deck, with a RWS deck beside it for reference.

July 19, 2019: How Planners Changed My Life

This was a fun video to make, and it just sort of explores how planners and paper planning have changed my life (for the better!).

I don’t really have much else to report, and this post is already over 1000 words, so it’s high time I wrap it up. Thank you all for reading along, watching along, and being along on this crazy journey with me. And until next time, I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk you again very very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 5/13/19 | Printing Struggles, Arteza Watercolors, and Oracle Deck Videos!

Hey guys! It’s Taylor and I’m here with the weekly blog and video-digest. Let’s get right into some updates.

First of all, I’ve had a (relatively minor) issue with the printing of the Millennial Mystic Tarot. This issue is not something I was aware of ahead of time, and actually, even after I got the decks, I had no idea that it was a problem. But a kind person who was in on the early promo run reached out to me and said:

“DUDE. These decks STINK.”

Fortunately or unfortunately, your call, she wasn’t talking about the art. She was actually referring to the rather chemical-y smell of the UV coating on the gloss-finish cards from MakePlayingCards.com, the printer I use. And while many people who do indie decks do use MPC, most of them get the MPC Card Finish rather than the Gloss Finish. I personally didn’t have a problem with the smell, but apparently some people are very allergic.

Lesson learned: Card finish. New decks are coming in today and I’ll be sending them out to reviewers and such shortly.

A note: Some would question why I’m sharing about this struggle – so many people want their deck production to seem flawless and smooth. But I feel that I’d rather use myself as an example for others who are making or contemplating making a deck, so that YOU can learn from MY mistakes and mishaps.

And another note: No one who purchases a deck, at all, ever, will get the gloss finish. I will be storing those for friends and family who are non-allergic, and only the card finish will be sold. So no worries for you.

Next up: I’m going to be doing some more Cheap Art Supply Celebration videos – YAY!! Next one will be trying out Arteza watercolors. I ordered that huge, $40, 60-tube (SIXTY TUBES) set. I know my M Graham paints are astoundingly higher quality, but honestly, I love cheap art supplies, including watercolor, because they free me up. They let me NOT worry about wasting paint. They let me just enjoy the joy of creating.

I’m also, with those Arteza paints, going to do a video on setting up a palette when you don’t know your paints well. While this is not often recommended, I do think a lot of us end up in this situation, where we want to make the most of a palette but don’t even know where to begin. So, I think it’ll help to have a video describing how I approach choosing paint blind, so to speak.

Thank you for reading. Without further ado, here is the video digest, a summary of the videos I posted to YouTube this week:

May 6: Starting the Sacred Storyteller Oracle | Watercolor Speedpaint and Updates

A speedpaint (timelapse video of me painting) of one of the first cards I’ve done on the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, my upcoming oracle deck. Click here to learn more about that project, or watch the video for a quick discussion.

Angelarium Oracle Deck Unboxing + First Impressions!

An unboxing and first impressions video for the Angelarium Oracle of Emanations deck from Lo Scarabeo. As per usual, I was less than thrilled with LS’s production of the deck, but it was a lovely one in terms of the illustrations and concept. Click here to learn more about Angelarium.

State of the Studio | Spring 2019

Every so often I do a “State of the Studio” video in which I give you general updates about my channel, my website, my shop, and my online presence in general. It’s a good chance to hang out, chat, and keep everyone up to speed on all this stuff that’s going on. This is the second SotS Address.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-Taylor

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT Blog 4/22/19| The Millennial Mystic Tarot’s First Printing, New Project-mom Syndrome, and All My Feelings

Image description: A left hand, Caucasian, holds a medium-sized Tarot card, with the backing facing us. The cardback depicts four crystals, a crescent moon, and a night sky over an ocean. The background is vague and dreamy, and on the wrist of the hand is a tattoo: “I AM NOT AFRAID TO KEEP ON LIVING.” End description. 

Hey guys! I know I had another blog that was posted today, but I just HAD to get in here and share some thoughts really quickly.

I arrived home this afternoon to find a box in my mailbox from MPC – MakePlayingCards.com – and while it was no surprise, I’m pretty sure I had a very minor cardiac event taking  the box up to my apartment…I told myself not to get too hyped up, that this was just a test print, and that it was not going to be perfect. I’d planned to go upstairs, sit down with the deck, and write down notes on what needed fixing on each card.

Well, maybe I’m delusional from excitement, or maybe MPC just did a really great job…but the cards are flawless. FLAWLESS. I am amazed and thrilled and blown away. I can’t believe how GOOD they look. Everything is beautifully bright, beautifully saturated, and perfectly aligned on the card.

KingofPents_512.jpg

I don’t know how I lucked out this good, but honestly, the cards are exactly how I’d imagined them and dreamed of them.

It is…an incredible feeling. It cannot be described; the best I can do is to say that I feel like a popcorn machine starting to really get going. I feel like bits of excitement are just exploding in my chest. I’ve teared up several times.

I know. I’m acting like a new mom. The Empress energy is a little too real right now. But I’m basking in it. I have never completed a project that took anywhere near this long, and it has been a thousand percent worth it. I feel more whole than I have in a while, more at peace, more confident and also more humbled by the forces around me. I am so small, so insignificant, and it is an honor to be used in this way by the Forces That Be to create what needs to be created.

That’s what I see the Millennial Mystic Tarot as. Something that needed to be birthed into this world. I just played the role of the creative womb, the artistic pathway through which it came into existence.

Yep. New project-mom syndrome, I guess.

I don’t have anything further to say, really, except that yes, a flip-through will be coming shortly, and I’ll be sharing more about this project as news about it comes along. For now, though, I am just so goddamned proud of my work, and SO freaking grateful for those who have joined in the celebration, previously or today, and are helping me to celebrate the creation of my first deck!

S/O to S, V, and A for being incredibly generous and giving their time to review; to Aunt B for always looking at my art over Messenger and giving me both compliments and helpful tips; my Mom and Dädd (in-joke) for supporting this madness despite the simultaneous very real madness; and of course to my love, J, for helping me heal and helping me to make it through this project mentally. Also, S/O to EVERYONE who has liked, commented, or followed me on social media during the past 18 months.

I AM going to be doing a giveaway of a deck, but it will be US-only due to complex giveaway laws. I’m sorry, but it actually is complicated, and some of the penalties are very harsh. I will be posting about that later on my YouTube and Instagram, as well as here – so subscribe wherever and you’ll be notified.

For now, I’m going to get some rest and just play with my new cards. Of all the decks i own, I’ve waited the longest for this one. It’s completely (and I might not be speaking out of bias) worth it.

Stay tuned for more photos and info on ordering!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 3/4/19: The Millennial Mystic Tarot is COMPLETE!

Hey everyone!

I’ve been working for the past year on creating the illustrations for my first Tarot deck. I am so thrilled to tell you, that that task is complete.

However, there is a lot to do before the actual deck goes on sale. This week, in addition to my day job and my ongoing work with OgreWare, I’ll be working on formatting the illustrations into something I can send to the printer. On-demand printers demand (ok, request) that the images that creators send be in a certain format, and that varies from printer to printer.

Fortunately, the printer I’m using has a relatively simple system and offers .psd (Photoshop format) templates to download and use as guides for formatting your card images. So once I get all the images scanned and stitched and color-corrected, I should be pretty much ready to start formatting them.

I am thrilled and excited and nervous about getting the first print back from the printer. When I do get it, I’m going to do my first reading with my deck and will probably film it. (I’ll also probably cry.)

Some people might think that I’m being a bit dramatic with the language and enthusiasm I express when discussing the Millennial Mystic Tarot, but really, there is something special about your first big artistic creation. It’s truly indescribable. Whether it’s a novel, gallery show, music album, or card deck, crossing that finish line quite often results in a feeling of “Wait, what? Did I actually do it?!” Followed by, well, ALL the emotions.

I’ll be sharing videos on the printing process once I actually have things to report, so stay tuned for that. If you’d like to help support this whole operation, please do head over to my Etsy shop. And as always, I hope you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very soon.

Bye!!
-Taylor

 

Weekly Update 2/6/18 | The New Copier Is Here!! | Starting Out Self Publishing | Investing in Technology

[Image: Photo of CANON ImageClass MF632Cdw consumer-range office printer/copier. source: canon.com]

Oh gosh, I have so much to talk about. I rambled about the new copier in a video here, but I’ll give you the run down in text form too:

Basically, I am now the owner of a Canon imageCLASS MF632Cdw – a mid-range color laser printer/scanner/all-in-one. It is a beautiful little machine and I’m really happy with it so far! I got mine from a big chain electronics store (won’t say which) and

I have already had to replace the toner cartridge, but that’s to be expected. They give you a half-full toner cartridge to start with, and when I got it, I was kinda hyper and printed a crapton of test editions to figure out my offset layout software…So I wound up buying a toner the next day. I’m sure the store thought I was absolutely out of my mind but I needed that darn toner!

But the proof is in the pudding: I’ve been able to print my first zine-size (6×8, roughly) editions of You Are In Love and The Cheyenne Line, my first two comics. They are so beautiful, dude, I’m just freaking out that I was able to make them at home, for so little money. 🙂 I’m also developing a couple of other zine-format (folded, stapled) publications, including an Inktober zine (containing my Inktober illustrations from 2017).

So what do you DO with a bunch of zines? And what about those slightly-off-kilter, misprinted misfits? Do they get thrown out or wasted? Nope. I’ll be using those as promotional items – I’ve found that people who would NEVER buy a romance comic based on a song by The Ataris, would totally take a free copy. People love free shit, is what it comes down to.

And as for the nice ones, I’ll have them on sale, but most of the ones I’ve already printed will be given or traded to artists when I go to Katsucon in a couple weeks. I’ve never been to a convention, and while I’m not tabling this year, I’m definitely going to be heading into Artists’ Alley, and I want to have something a little better than a plain old business card to hand out.

Choosing to invest in this printer – and choosing to commit to the continuous investment in toner cartridges – was a big decision. I had to talk with my partner about it and think about whether it was the right time to buy such a thing. Financially, it’s perfectly plausible; but whether this was the right place to put the money was another matter. I’m not exactly a big name, and I’ve sold a grand total of one of my comics. One COPY. EVER. (As of this writing, anyway.) So, sadly, I’m not sure I can justify it based on “I’ll definitely be printing enough comics to make back the money in six months!”

However, my partner and I agree that based on the quality of my work, and the consistency with which I produce content, indicate that yes, it’s time to own a nice copier. It’s worth it to invest in, because even if it’s not within six months, this copier WILL pay for itself.

I intend, however, to prove myself wrong and “pay it off” (make back the same amount we spent) within 6 months. I’d like to at least use it to pay for the toner!

Anyway, you can click here if you’d like to purchase one of my comics. I had fun putting them together, and I think they came out great, so head over to the shop to explore what I have for sale.

Also, I have FINALLY got my mojo back on working on my spiritual stuff! So expect more grimoire/Book of Shadows posts soon. I’ll be doing flip-through videos once I’ve got some done, and until then, there will be at least text updates.

Sorry this update is going up late this week, I had kind of a crazy weekend. But all is well now. 🙂

~Julian