Semi-Weekly Blog 10/16/19: Doll Customizing, Etsy Shipping, and Inktobering!

Hello all!

It may be a few days late, but I am DETERMINED to get this blog out.

So, I’ve been…pretty darn busy. Even aside from a full time job, I’ve been trying to do Inktober 2019, customize and sew for dolls (you can see some of that work over at http://taylorjohnsondolls.com), and run my Etsy shop.

It’s a lot. Inktober involves a good amount of time each day, not just sketching and inking but also filming and editing videos of my work. I’m posting weekly updates on my Inktober progress, and while they’ve been going up on Wednesdays rather than the more calendar-appropriate Mondays or Tuesdays, at least they’re going up. I’m excited to be able to have records of my Inktober progress, in video form. Here’s week 1’s video:

Inktober is totally worth it, though, as usual.

Sewing and doll customizing is my main hobby right now, in terms of “activity that does not, and does not need to, result in income or some other goal”…it’s my one thing that is legitimately just for fun. I enjoy it so much. Sewing has been part of my life for ages, and…well, here’s the video of me telling my whole sewing story on my doll YouTube:

And as for my Etsy shop – well, I can’t give many details because I want my customers to be able to remain anonymous if they choose – but I’ve gotten to ship a lot of things lately, and I am truly, deeply appreciative of everyone who has been ordering things, especially my original Tarot deck, the Millennial Mystic Tarot.

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Which, incidentally, you can order here, if you’re interested.

I think that’s all I have for now, and this is definitely all the time I had to write this blog. I’m sorry it’s late, but I’m glad to at least get a blog posted this week.

Thank you all for your support, and with that being said, I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 10/7/19: Where Have I Been?

Hi all,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve got a (rare) few minutes to sit down and write a blog. Carving out time for this blog has been a little bit beyond me lately, and I even considered deleting the blog portion of this site and converting it to just being a portfolio and glorified contact form…but honestly, I didn’t want to give up blogging – even if I feel like I don’t have time for it lately. I really enjoy the blogging process. So yeah. Not going anywhere.

I’ve also been largely on hiatus from my YouTube, and I just posted a video explaining that I’m kind of returning to it: I’m going to start posting videos again, but kind of on a “whenever” basis rather than having a strict upload schedule. And there will be less videos than in the early part of this year (I used to do 3 a week), but more than the two a month I’ve done the past couple of months.

So why am I struggling to find time? Well…two things. One, I’m working full time now, and I’ve learned that it’s called full time for a reason. (Spoiler: It’s because it fills up all your time.) I absolutely adore my job and my company, and it has changed my life in the best way. But it doesn’t come without a cost, and that cost is a lot of my previously-free time.

Two, I’m running an entirely new side project: Taylor Johnson Dolls, which has a website, a YouTube channel, and an Instagram, all focused on my work in doll customization and sewing.

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One of my fashion dolls, an Ever After High Ashlynn Ella, in a flannel shirt by me.

I actually have been into dolls for years and years, and recently tumbled back into active presence in the hobby. I’m thrilled to be back to it, and while it does take up a lot of time, I felt that I really do need a hobby! A genuine hobby, to me, is an avocation that is enjoyed without a clear plan or goals or things to accomplish in terms of growth or publicity or acclaim; it’s just for the sheer joy of it. Doll customizing and doll-clothes sewing are two things that I love as hobbies, and are also two things that, for me, do not have an end goal or any grand scheme attached to them. It’s literally just a thing I do for fun.

So, if you’re interested, or just curious, head over to taylorjohnsondolls.com for more. I also have free patterns over there for those who are similarly inclined.

As for art…while I haven’t had much time lately for art beyond what I do at work, I still haven’t been able to resist the siren song of Inktober. I really enjoyed my other participation, back in 2017, and while it’s probably not wise to do so, I’m doing a series of simple ink pieces on 9×12″ paper for this year too. I may watercolor some or all of them after this month is over, but I am certainly not taking on the project of doing a PAINTING every day when I can barely manage an ink piece!

I had said that I was going to post a few YouTube videos this month, documenting Inktober, and I have filmed all of my ink work so far, but I don’t know whether that’s an appropriate use of my spare moments. I don’t know if I can – temporally or mentally – afford to do that as well.

If it comes down to it, I’ll drop some things. Sanity and safety come first, followed closely by my day job. But for now, I’m hoping I can manage all of this, if only I choose my battles and am mindful of my time management.

That said, I really need to get back to work. Thank you for reading and for being here on this artistic journey with me.

Wishing you the best, as always!
-Taylor

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 and Video Digest 7/15/19: Weather, Ecological Consciousness Ramblings, and Etsy Shipping Issues

[Image caption: A photograph of a Tarot card, the Page of Wands, from the Millennial Mystic Tarot, depicting a young woman climbing through a desert in the Southwestern US heat. End caption.]

Hey all! It’s Taylor, with the weekly blog and video digest. I’m a day late but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m going to chat here a bit about oracle cards, and then we’ll get on to a summary of (and embedded versions of) the videos I posted this week over on my YouTube channel.

The summer has been going well. It’s been kind of crazy hot…okay, totally crazy hot, here in Virginia, USA. And it’s only July – August is our crazy-hot month. Honestly, I am deeply concerned about this planet, and while my intuition tells me that things will get better for this world and this species, that same intuition also tells me that “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Not a good feeling, but that’s what I sense.

Still, I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I try to make decisions, both day-to-day and more long-term, that are good for the Earth. For example, I’m looking at buying my first car, and while I could buy something less expensive that is older, or I could buy something “hot”… I’m trying to focus on fuel-efficiency as being one of my main priorities. I may not be able to afford a Prius or other hybrid, but I AM looking for the very most fuel-efficient car I can manage, considering budget and other restrictions.

And about the car – it will have at least one positive effect on YOU all: For those of you who have been waiting 5-7 days for me to ship things…I should be able to ship things much, much faster once I start driving myself! Up until now I have been relying on buses to get me to the post office, but now that it’s so hot, I have to rely on friends (it’s too hot to walk even the short 1/2 mile between the bus stop and the postal office). And while my friends are awesome and very kindly help when they can, I usually only get to the post office once a week.

So, assuming I can get myself a car, I will soon be able to drop that shipping time estimate back down to 2-3 days, which is mostly processing time anyway. Hoping to get that set up soon, but until I, you know, purchase a car, please bear with me.

Also, one last thing…I really need to do a video or blog post or both about Etsy’s RIDICULOUSLY BAD new shipping policies. They are essentially forcing some of their own (deceptive, manipulative) ideas on already-struggling shop owners, just so that THEY can make more money – all while lying to our customers. It’s some BS, and I don’t think most Etsy shoppers are aware of it.

So I’m going to be, uh, doing a bit of an exposé soon. Sorry, Etsy, but if you’re going to be this bad, we – the shop owners, essentially your suppliers – ARE going to take it on ourselves to educate each other and our customers.

With that said, let’s get on to something a little more fun – this week’s videos!

7/8/19: Unboxing Goulet Pens Package | Fountain Pen Haul!

In this video I just unbox some fountain pens and fountain pen supplies, and walk you through what I got and why. Everything was ordered from GouletPens.com, a great fountain pen retailer.

7/10/19: Using Tarot and Oracle Cards for Story/Novel Development

I have wanted to make this video for QUITE some time!! I’ve used Tarot cards for storytelling for a long time, and I’ve found it incredibly helpful…so I definitely wanted to share some tips and techniques with you all. I know there are some writers out there in my follower-base so I hope that it was helpful for you!!

7/12/19: Summer 2019 Planner Lineup

So, this is some of the books and planners that I’ve ended up using for summer 2019. As of July, I HAVE moved into that Recollections spiral planner, and I LOVE IT…tour of THAT one coming in August.

That’s all the videos for this week. I hope you enjoyed them!

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to support this blog, the channel, and what I do, please head over to my Etsy shop and get yourself a little something – or, just subscribe to the blog, my YouTube, and my Instagram. I promise that Etsy Exposé is coming soon, so stay tuned for that.

And with that being said…I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon.

All the best,
-Taylor

Weekly Blog & Video Digest 7/8/19 | New Oracle Cards, New Etsy Listings, and New Videos!

[CC: An oracle card, the Goddess of the Moon card from the Energy Oracle, on top of a pile of scattered, face-down Energy Oracle cards. The moon in the card seems to glow in a supernatural way. END CC]

Hey guys! Taylor here. It’s time for the weekly blog here on taylorjohnson.art, where I check in every week and let you know what I’ve been up to and what’s new!

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[CC: the same image of the same card from the Energy Oracle. END CC]

The first thing I want to talk about is that I’ve invested in a few new decks. And by a few, I actually mean about 8 decks this summer. I know it sounds like a lot, and I don’t usually invest in so many at once…but I do enjoy working with them, and I’ll definitely use them. And, after years and years of pretty much being a Tarot purist, I think I am FINALLY ready to start learning about oracle cards. I could write the five new decks off as research for my upcoming oracle, the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, but honestly, it’s not just research. I bought them to use them, and to advance my understanding of oracle cards. Oracle cards are not something I’ve always been super positive about, and I want to change that. They help many people, and recently I’ve just felt inspired to open up and try them.

So. Yeah. New oracle card decks coming soon – Wisdom of the Oracle, The Enchanted Map, Kuan Yin Oracle, Gospel of Aradia Oracle, and more. I may review them, and if I do, would you all like written reviews here on the blog, or YouTube video reviews? Let me know.

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[CC: A photo of several small, colorful, hand-stitched Tarot deck bags. They all have different patterns and different color stitching. END CC]

In other news: New things are coming to my Etsy shop shortly! There will be new deck bags, suitable for tarot/oracle/angel cards of all kinds, AND new notebooks…in new sizes!! I will soon carry Pocket and B6 inserts, as well as B6 Traveler’s Notebooks. I’m so excited to be able to offer these to you.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been shopping with me lately. It honestly makes me so happy to pack up items and send them out to people. It’s about more than just the money; I enjoy providing a service or product that people can treasure and even benefit from spiritually.

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[CC: A grid of photographs of a hand holding up various cards from the Millennial Mystic Tarot. END CC]

Oh, and the Tarot decks! Yes, the Millennial Mystic Tarot decks will be shipping out soon.

Like, this week. Like, Tuesday. If you haven’t ordered one yet, click here to see the listing, and order yours now.

Without further ado, let’s get on to what videos I posted this week.

July 2019 Card Reading | OWN YOUR TRUTH, PROCESS CHANGE

This is the monthly card reading for July 2019. As usual, I’ve done a reading for the collective using tarot, oracle, and angel cards to read the energies of the coming month and give us all a bit of a heads-up on what we can expect!

FAVORITES Summer 2019!

It’s a favorites video, yes. I just have so much stuff to show…it’s a little embarrassing, but eh, these are fun videos to make.

I Don’t Know What’s In These Boxes?? | Random Unboxing

OK, so I exaggerated a little: I knew most of what was in these boxes. I just didn’t know precisely which box was going to contain which of the TOO MANY items I ordered in June. It was pretty fun, though, to open up boxes and not entirely know what I’d find.

So, I guess that’s about it, guys. I hope you’re doing really well. I’m mostly doing awesome, though my anxiety has been really, really bad…But what else is new. I’ll be okay. Always am.

If you’d like to support this whole operation financially, please do head over to my Etsy shop and find yourself something. If you’d rather support through social media boosting, please follow this blog and my Instagram and subscribe to me on YouTube for more videos about art, Tarot, and stationery.

And with all that being said…I hope that you are having a TRULY excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon.

Bye!
-Taylor

Weekly Blog 7/1/19: Returning from Hiatus, the #hbnotebookchallenge, and #onebookjuly2019 !

Hey guys! It’s Taylor.

I’m back from my “burnout hiatus” and am feeling way better. I actually did spend part of this last week, the end of June, working on filming videos – but only because I had started to feel like it again, and I’m doing well enough with my full time work that I think I can begin to add my usual content-creation processes back into my life.

As I’d said in a previous video and maybe some blog posts, whenever I’ve increased the amount that I work at day-job stuff, I’ve gone through a couple months of “OGOD I HAVE NO FREE TIME LEFT, ALL MY FREE TIME IS GONE, ALL I DO IS WORK, I CAN NEVER DO A PERSONAL PROJECT AGAIN.” I felt this when I started part time work, and again when I increased to half time, and again when I increased to full time.

However, even with FT work, I DO still have free time – it just doesn’t feel like it, and I have to use it more wisely. And now that I’ve had a couple months to adjust to full time work, I feel once more like “OK, yeah, I’m busier than I was – but I can manage this. I can still work on my personal things. This is doable.”

So, yeah. I’m back.

me at event

The past month has actually been…great. I launched my first Tarot deck (buy it here), I had my 30th birthday, and I had a business trip (day-job related) to LA. I can’t say much publicly but gosh, it was cool as hell. I had a lot of great opportunities to attend an ACLU event and then a Women In Media event. As for the logistics side, I hate flying but I love travel, so, mixed feelings about the trip – but TSA wasn’t too awful and I did come through okay, so I guess it was a win.

I’ve been painting a lot for the next deck, the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, and I am thrilled with the cards so far.

That deck is coming out for Christmas/Yule/Solstice 2020, but you can follow the progress on this blog or on the deck’s Instagram, @sacredstorytelleroracle.

I’m also participating in a couple of challenges! One is a yearlong one, the #hbnotebookchallenge by Sarra Cannon of Heart Breathings. This challenge is basically to use up a notebook a month, and was inspired by Sarra’s realization that she had…kind of a lot of notebooks. Stacks and stacks of beautiful…blank notebooks. I have the same problem with mine, so I was really inspired when Sarra posted a video challenging everyone to use up a notebook every month of 2019!

For some people, their focus in doing the challenge is to write more – some people are hand-drafting novels, others are journaling, still others are memory-keeping, and so on. For others, it’s about decluttering and changing how we think about the perpetual acquisition of notebooks. And for some it’s just a fun challenge!

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A lot of us have found that a whole notebook every month, though, is a LOT more writing than we want to be doing; so, many people (including myself) have chosen to alter the challenge slightly for ourselves. My adjustment is that I’m using traveler’s notebook inserts instead of actual notebooks for my 12, but I still plan to fill 12 of them. I started with three Standard size inserts, but just finished a half-letter size one. I’m not being super strict about what size I use….just making sure I actually do all that writing.

The other challenge I’m joining this year is just this month, and it’s the #onebookjuly2019 challenge. Basically, the challenge is (loosely) to use a single book for your planning or journaling for all of July. Me, I had to alter this too, of course; I’m basically using just two notebooks: a traveler’s notebook system and a spiral-bound planner. I would have tried to keep it all in the TN, but I’ve been planning for months on moving into a Recollections “Creative Year” planner from Michaels, so I really had to alter the challenge to allow myself to use both. So, notes and journaling and to-do lists go in the TN, and all the rest of my planning goes in the spiral planner.

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I don’t have a video digest for you for this blog; that will come next week once I’m back to posting videos. I’ve actually pre-recorded and scheduled out videos for most of July, so never fear, content is coming. I just had to take June off. It was a good thing, though, and I don’t regret the choice.

In closing…Thank you all so much for your support. If you’d like to financially support this operation, please do head over to my Etsy shop; if you’d like to see the videos I make, check out my YouTube; if you’re at all on Instagram, follow me there; and don’t forget to subscribe here for more updates on all my projects.

Until next time… I hope that you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon.

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 6/3/19: Prep Week, Launch Day, and Other Schedule Struggles

Hey guys! It’s Taylor, and today is Monday so it’s time for the weekly blog and video digest. I write a blog every week here on my homepage about what I’m doing, what challenges I’m facing, and what you can expect to see in terms of content from me in the next few weeks.

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This is prep week. Launch day for my  Millennial Mystic Tarot is 6 days away, and I am doing my best to be as ready as I can be. It’s a little terrifying. A lot of people have posted early reviews and/or helped to hype it up, and I am SO grateful for that! It has been amazing to see the community come together to share and support this deck, and I am forever in your debt. All of you.

I’m also currently working on creating the illustrations for my next deck, the Sacred Storyteller Oracle. I’ve got a few done and they’re posted here. I’m working on Arches and really enjoying the benefits of that paper.

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I’ve joined a journaling challenge, the #hbnotebookchallenge by Sarra Cannon over at HeartBreathings. Sarra is an incredible indie author and also a stationery fan and has started this awesome challenge to help people use up their unused notebooks, or boost their journaling practice. My participation is going to be using up a 64-page standard Traveler’s Notebook insert every month for the rest of the year. I’m enjoying it so far and I love having a reason (ok, excuse) to journal way more than I had been.

Finally, here’s an overview of this week’s videos over on my YouTube:

Painting an ATC | “Doll in Shadow” + Anxiety Chat

This is a video I’ve wanted to make for a while. It’s just a little chat about my experience with anxiety disorders and how they’ve affected my life – plus how I’ve managed to deal with them.

Setting Up a 52 Pan Palette | 1hr Palette Setup Tutorial

This is an epic palette setup video where I set up a full 52 color palette! I’ve never used pans before, but since making this video and this palette, I’ve used it a lot, & it is now my main palette for EVERYTHING. I love it!

June 2019 Card Reading | Look to the Light to Heal the Dark

Finally we have my monthly reading for June 2019, featuring the Millennial Mystic Tarot as the main Tarot deck for this reading!

That’s about all I’ve got for you this week. Until next time, I hope that you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon!

-Taylor